Category Archives: journalist detectives

What Happens When Promises are Broken

Broken Promise
Linwood Barclay
mass market paper $9.99
ebook $9.99

I’d seen Broken Promise in Wal-Mart and considered picking it up.  But at the time, I wasn’t familiar with Mr. Barclay’s work, and I had a ton of stuff to read, and…you get the picture.

Then last week Richard Chizmar, publisher of Cemetery Dance,  tweeted that he couldn’t put the book down.  So I went and picked up a copy over lunch.  Then I was a bit under the weather over the weekend.  So I read it.

I get what Chizmar meant about not putting it down.  Broken Promise has a lot going for it.  I’ll be reading more of Mr. Barclay’s work.

After his wife died, David Harwood had left the town of Promise Falls and taken his son with him to Boston.  But he spent all his evenings at work rather than with his son, so now he’s back.  His first day on the job, the newspaper where he works closes.

So he’s got some time on his hands and agrees to take some of his mother’s soup over to his cousin Marla.  He finds a bloodstain on the door and Marla with a baby boy.  She says an angel brought the child.  Marla had lost her own baby about 10 months prior, had tried to steal a baby from the hospital, and isn’t the most reliable of witnesses.  It doesn’t help that she has a mental condition that makes it hard for her to remember and recognize faces.  (This is a real condition, not something Barclay made up.)   Something that works against her when the child’s mother is found brutally murdered. Continue reading

A Review of Styx and Stone

styx_coverStyx and Stone
James W. Ziskin
Seventh Street Books
trade paper 285 pp
US $15.95 Can $17.00
Amazon Barnes and Noble
ebook $11.99 Kindle  Nook

Styx and Stone is a period mystery set in the first couple of weeks of 1960. The cover of this novel says “An Ellie Stone Mystery”. That’s an indication that this is the first volume of a series. This is a good thing.

Ellie Stone isn’t a private investigator. Rather she’s a journalist, but of the hardboiled variety. She drinks and gets laid as much as her male counterparts in the genre. Where she differs from them is that she doesn’t get into shoot-outs, engage in fisticuffs, or end up being knocked unconscious by a blow to the head.

Ellie and her estranged father are the remaining members of the Stone family. Her mother died of illness a few years back, but not before her brother was killed in a motorcycle accident. Her father is a Dante scholar at Columbia, one of the foremost in the world. Ellie is working as a reporter at a small town newspaper up north.

Ellie gets a call telling her that her father was attacked in his study at home. He’s in a coma, and the prognosis isn’t good. So Ellie returns home to keep vigil beside his bed. What she discovers is the manuscript of his latest book is missing. And one of his colleagues was found dead in his bathtub the day after her father was attacked, having apparently knocked his radio into the tub with him.  Being a good reporter, Ellie begins to ask questions about both the attack on her father and the death of his colleague. Continue reading