Saturday, October 16, 2010

New Books from Poisoned Press

Once again I welcome reviewer Carl Brookins to Cicero's Children. Today Carl is reviewing two books published by Poisoned Pen Press.

Her Deadly Mischief
by Beverle Graves Myers
Poisoned Pen Press, 2009
ISBN 978-1-59058-233-6
286 pages

Here we are transported to the gaiety, the intrigue and the complicated machinations of the ruling classes of that Adriatic gem, Venice. By now, mid eighteenth century, Venice is in decline, and no longer the regional superpower with absolute dominion over the Adriatic. Still, her cultural climate is a world-wide force to be reckoned with. That includes her innovative grand opera.

Behind the crimson curtain of the Teatro San Marcos, difficult economic times are at work. In the lofty boxes of the well-born and the wealthy, murderous intrigue is also at work. When one of the city's celebrated courtesans, Zulietta Giardino, is murdered by a knife in her lovely chest, fingers of accusation are immediately pointed at one of Venice's leading and most desirable young scions, Alessio Pino, heir of one of the most important Murano glassmaking families. The murder occurs during an opening aria by one of the city's cultural stars, a well-known singer, the castrato, Tito Amato. Thus, Amato becomes a crucial witness to the murder and therefore a target as the plot twists along the winding and sometimes narrow canals of the city.

Drawing effectively on her meticulous and extensive research, the author brings to life not only the glittering upper crust revels of the city, and its artistic culture, but readers will come to understand the life and times of ordinary citizens of the period. The novel is well-paced, the characters are enthralling and the twisting mystery well resolved. Myers continuing series about the life of the prominent singer is a very pleasurable experience whether one is or is not an opera fan.

Reviewed by Carl Brookins,
Case of the Greedy Lawyer, Devils Island,
Bloody Halls, more at Kindle & Smashwords!

The Eye of the Virgin
by Frederick Ramsey
Pub. Poisoned Pen Press
June, 2010, Hard Cover.
254 pages.
ISBN: 9781590587607

Sheriff Ike Schwartz is in it again. Some odd break-ins have occurred in the area around the town of Picketsville, Virginia. What were thieves looking for in the studio of an iconographer? Why is an unknown individual discovered dead of gunshot, but in a chair in the Picketsville clinic? Are these incidents related? And who is the mysterious woman Abe Schwartz has been squiring about?

Sparkling dialogue and a whee of a climactic scene distinguish this crime novel. It's the xxx in Ramsey's continuing saga of the home-town adventures of ex-CIA spook Isaack Schwartz. He's retired from the international scene to become the elected sheriff of the aforesaid Pickettsville, Virginia. He's bright, sharp, aware of the ways of international espionage so when he sees it, he recognizes it. As the elected sheriff he has to deal with a loose collection of varied and interesting characters. Some of them make life quite interesting; the president of the local college, Ruth XXX for instance. Others, inept contract spooks and burglars, for example, are dangerous. Schwartz and his deputies manage to keep the peace and solve crimes in interesting if not always legal ways.

They are aided, in their tasks, as are readers who find their way to this lovely novel, by carefully thought out if sometimes complicated plots, good pace, and crackling spot-on dialogue. Threaded through the cleverness and the funny bits are thoughtful musings on the state of world affairs today in which enemies become friends and friends enemies.

An excellent enjoyable novel.

Carl Brookins,
Case of the Greedy Lawyer, Devils Island,
Bloody Halls, more at Kindle & Smashwords!


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