Juneau libraries offers plenty for mystery fans

Posted: Friday, July 20, 2007

Mysteries abound in the stacks at the Juneau Public Libraries!

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"Set Sail for Murder," by Carolyn Hart. When Henrie O's former lover requests that she accompany him and his current wife and her family on a Baltic cruise, she naturally hesitates before saying yes. Even talking to Jimmy stirs up old emotions. But in retirement, Henrie O has kept the skills sharp that made her such a great investigative journalist, and now they may mean the difference between life and death for Sophia, Jimmy's wife. Sophia is the only thing standing between her former husband's children and a vast fortune, and someone wants the money more than they want a stepmother.

"Head Games," by Thomas Cavanagh. Mike Garrity is retired from the police force, has two ex-wives, a 15-year-old daughter, a brain tumor he's nicknamed Bob, and, for the first time in months, a job. The lead singer of the pop group, Boyz Klub, has gone missing days before a tour and the producer is quietly desperate. If Mike succeeds in finding T.J., he'll earn a nice inheritance for his daughter and maybe even her respect. But, as what seems to be a simple missing-persons case snowballs into a mob plus illegal gambling plus severed-limbs kind of thing, Mike wonders if he'll succumb to Bob's relentless call before the case is solved.

"Nefertiti: The Book of the Dead," by Nick Drake. Nesting a police procedural inside an ancient Egyptian historical novel gets a little awkward at times, but the reader who can gloss over the occasional verbal anachronism will be rewarded. Rai Rahotep, a member of the Egyptian police, has been called in by the Pharoah Akhenaten to find his queen, Nefertiti. Only weeks before a crucial festival that will mean the success or failure of Akhenaten's attempt to rewrite the Egyptian pantheon, Nefertiti has disappeared. Rai has only 10 days to find her before he and his family suffer grave consequences and the nation sinks further into chaos. Grounded in historical details, this is a solid mystery with an appealing detective.

"On the Wrong Track," by Steve Hockensmith. This rollicking mystery takes readers across the country through the Old West on the Pacific Express with two cowboys-turned-deducifier brothers. Ever since Old Red found Sherlock Holmes, his dreams have been bigger than cows, and now he and his little brother, Big Red, have been hired by the railway as protection from the Give-'em-Hell Boys. Right away, bodies and heads start flying in this part western, part dime-store novel, part hard-boiled detective story. The banter between the brothers is affectionate and charts Big Red's growing appreciation of his quiet brother's intellect.

"The Star: A Tarot Card Mystery," by David Skibbins. A former member of the Weather Underground, Warren Ritter, has been trying to fly under the radar for the past 20 years, eking out a living as a tarot card reader in Berkeley, Calif., and dealing with bipolar disorder, when he discovers that he has a daughter. She's got bipolar disorder, too, but isn't being treated for it and now is being accused of murdering her estranged husband to gain custody of their young son. Warren plays detective along with his therapist, girlfriend and ex-Black Panther buddy, bringing everything to a head in an unexpected conclusion.

"The Various Haunts of Men," by Susan Hill. What connects the women, men (and poodle) who have vanished from the small cathedral town of Lafferton? Is The Hill responsible, or is there a serial killer on the loose? Police detective Freya Graffham is new to town and determined to be thorough, but her persistence and her relationship with her superior may be putting her at risk. Fans of Ruth Rendell and P.D. James should find this psychologically twisted and very satisfying mystery particularly enjoyable.

"Death Pans Out," by Ashna Graves. Jeneva "Neva" Leopold finds solitude and shelter in her uncle's old mining cabin in the desert of eastern Oregon, and begins rebuilding her strength after battling breast cancer. As she grows stronger and ventures further from her refuge, she meets the locals - miners, an itinerant priest, and a rancher - who all believe that she's there to find her uncle's hidden fabled fortune. Their beliefs trigger her curiosity: Why did her uncle and mother have a falling out? And where did her uncle disappear to? The answers rock the community and nearly cost Neva her life.

• As always, placing a hold on our material is easy: call the Juneau Public Libraries at 586-5249, or by going online to www.juneau.org/library.

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