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Cheryl Recommends

September 20, 2010 by Reader's Connection

Cheryl Holtsclaw from West Indianapolis is at it again–recommending mysteries and suspense novels.

The Killer by Tom Hinshelwood

The KillerVictor is a contract killer. It’s what he does and he is very, very good at it. In Paris, he takes out Andris Ozols, a Latvian national, grabs the flash drive that Victor’s employers—whoever they might be—want. To him, it’s just another job and not particularly difficult. But when he returns to his hotel, he finds a kill team waiting for him and realizes that he’s now become a loose end that someone wants very much to eliminate. On the run, and pursued by, yes, contract killers, he finds himself teaming up with the unlikeliest of partners. Together they struggle to learn the identity of their former employer, the one who now wants them dead. As they do, each begins to see the humanity in the other. The forces against them are incredibly powerful, but together they may have a chance. Hinshelwood adroitly avoids stereotypes and predictable plot twists. It’s an impressive first novel, and hopefully the first of many.


Never Look Away by Linwood Barclay

Never Look AwayBarclay started out writing fun mysteries, then transitioned to suspense thrillers. That’s usually disappointing, but Barclay tells such a good story that it’s hard to hate him for making the switch. In Barclay’s latest, David Harwood, reporter for the Standard, is working on the biggest story of his career: Elmont Sebastian bribing city officials to vote for the privatized prison he wants to build in their town. With so much at stake, David is a little distracted when his wife, Jan, begins displaying signs of depression and talking about ending her life. When she says she’s buying tickets for them and their four-year-old son Ethan to go to the Five Mountains amusement park, David takes it as a sign that she’s feeling better. But one moment of inattention while they’re at the park and Ethan disappears. David and Jan split up to look for him and once David finds Ethan all is well–until he can’t find Jan. Someone is obviously playing mind games with David, but is it possible that, even with all the money at stake, Sebastian will go to such extremes to get what he wants?


212 by Alafair Burke

212Ellie Hatcher, small-town girl now an NYPD detective, is investigating a murder at an exclusive NYC apartment building when she has a run-in with the building’s owner, Sam Sparks. She continues to consider him a suspect and when, months later, clues indicate a link between a recent murder and the one where she encountered Sparks, Ellie feels compelled to dig deeper. She finds herself up against not only Sparks, but apparently an influential judge and her own boss, Lieutenant Robin Tucker. They think that Ellie’s perception is skewed because of her initial confrontation with Sparks; Ellie believes that Sparks is getting a free pass because of his wealth and power. The truth, as in real life, probably lies somewhere in between, but finding it will be a challenge. Politicians and wealthy businessmen, sex and power, money and secrets: it’s a mix that Burke, a former deputy district attorney and current law professor, stirs together skillfully and serves up with more than a dollop of suspense.


The Girls He Adored by Jonathan Nasaw

The Girls He Adored E.L. Pender is big, bald, and badly dressed. He’s also a near-retirement FBI agent obsessed with tracking down a serial killer who’s targeting strawberry blondes. The man’s in prison now on a murder charge and Pender wants to interview him, figure out if he’s the one responsible for the other killings. Also wanting to probe the workings of the killer’s mind is psychiatrist Irene Cogan, a specialist in multiple personality disorders. It’s up to her to determine if the man who calls himself “Max” is faking or if there really are multiple personalities at work. Before Pender or Cogan can make a determination, Max escapes and takes a hostage. With the clock ticking and Pender on the outs with the FBI in-crowd, Pender finds himself flying solo as he tries to save one more woman from a madman. Not for the faint of heart, but a real find for mystery lovers who like fear tickling their spines as they unravel the tangle of clues.


Fear Itself by Jonathan Nasaw

Fear Itself What are you afraid of? Whether it’s drowning, flying, snakes—no matter your fear, Simon Childs will find it and then the “game” will begin. He thrives on the fear, knows how to drive it to a fever pitch. Unfortunately for Childs, E.L. Pender—the biggest, baldest and worst-dressed FBI agent yet—is about to retire and can’t resist one last big case. Pender’s replacement, Linda Abruzzi, has MS and is fighting to hang onto her job as long as possible. Physically no match for Childs, she must use her wits if she has a chance of surviving. Nasaw specializes in imperfect characters who are faced with nearly-insurmountable obstacles. He weaves terror in ever-thickening strands as the story builds to the inevitable showdown between good and evil. Not for the faint of heart, but if you’re looking for a book to make you pull the shades and lock the doors, Nasaw may be the author for you.

 Cheryl’s note to blog editor: You’ll probably notice that there are 2 books by Jonathan Nasaw.  I was totally indecisive about which to choose, so I wrote them both up and decided to leave it up to you—or maybe neither, since his most recent book, The Boys from Santa Cruz, was so awful—hate to lure folks in with the good stuff then have them be disappointed.


City of the Sun by David Levien

City of the SunJamie Gabriel set off one morning on his newspaper route and never came home. Over a year later, the police have no leads and with the case now cold, the Gabriels suspect that nothing is being done to find their son. Private investigators have been an exercise in cruelty: raising hope, collecting fees, returning empty-handed. Finally, a well-meaning officer points them to Frank Behr. Another dead end, they think, and yet, how can they not try? Behr is wrestling with his own demons, having lost a son himself, so he knows all too well the horror the Gabriels are living. But it is that knowledge that presses down on Behr, makes him relentless as he scours the city of Indianapolis for the evil which has snatched Jamie from his family. For those who can handle a hard dose of reality and like to watch for familiar street and neighborhood names as they read, this may be just the book which will keep you up nights—long after you’ve read the last page.


  1. Carrie says:

    Cheryl always has great recommendations!

  2. Kim says:

    You know the book is good if Cheryl recommends it

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