Books in Brief

By Linda Sargent


by Lisa Jackson, Kensington Publishing ($25.00)


Valerie Houston has moved to New Orleans to enter into a bed and breakfast partnership with a friend. She felt the need to move away from Texas and her life with her soon-to-be ex-husband, Slade. The breakup of her marriage hinged on her sister Camille making a play for her ex, and Valerie was under the impression that Slade was open to her advances.


While the relationship between Valerie and her sister Camille is strained and long-distance, Valerie wants to keep in touch because Camille is her only living relative.


Valerie is an ex-cop, and is soon embroiled in a gruesome murder at a local convent. A nun was found in the chapel, strangled with a wire-strung rosary, her body dressed in an old yellowed bridal gown. Could the initial evidence really be pointing to a priest at the cathedral?


While the police and Val begin to investigate, Slade shows up to try to repair his marriage. When other bodies of nuns begin to show up, all garroted with a rosary and dressed in old, yellowed wedding dresses, the police begin to search for a serial killer. It seems that secrets abound in the convent, including those of the Mother Superior and a connection with a local orphanage.


Jackson seems to improve over time as she spins out thrillers.



“The Baseball: Stunts, Scandals, and Secrets Beneath the Stitches”

by Zack Hample, Knopf  Doubleday Publishing Group ($14.95)


Over the years, there have been plenty of books written about baseball players, the game of baseball, baseball parks, and the history of the World Series. But until now, there has never been a book written about the baseball itself.


This book is filled with little known facts about this small sphere that is the heart of the “All-American pastime.” Did you know that there are “ball snaggers” that live to go to a ballpark and catch balls? Hample gives tips on where to stand, where to sit, and things you can do to walk away from a professional ballpark with a ball in your pocket. Did you know that all baseballs are still hand-stitched? Or that a Hall of Famer once caught a ball dropped from an airplane? And that all balls used in professional ball games are stamped with invisible ink?


If you are a baseball fan and dream of collecting baseballs from major league ballparks, this book is very enjoyable, contains information not widely known and is a must-read book.



“The Mozart Conspiracy”

by Scott Mariani, Simon & Schuster ($24.99)


Ben Hope, a former British Special Air Service Officer, who now hires out his services to find and rescue lost children, is contacted by Leigh Llewellyn, a world famous opera star and Ben’s first love. Leigh’s brother, Oliver, has died. Oliver was Ben’s good friend in the military, and Leigh is asking for Ben’s help to unravel the mystery of Oliver’s death.


Ben and Leigh soon find themselves caught up in the middle of a puzzle from 1791 concerning the death of Mozart. History has several different causes for Mozart’s death – everything from natural causes to rheumatic fever, and accidental to intentional poisoning. There are too many facts surrounding Oliver’s death that just don’t add up.  Before he died, Oliver was working on a new book about Mozart, and some of his research notes were mailed to Leigh on the night of his death. They indicate that Mozart, a notable Freemason, may have been murdered by a splinter group of the organization – a group that is still in existence.


When Ben receives a video of a gruesome execution, it becomes a race against time to save the life of a forward-thinking politician, bring the killers to justice, and then convince Leigh that he still loves her. When tragedy strikes in the form of a hated rival, Ben’s sole purpose is to seek revenge.


This is a page-turner.



“Silent Mercy”

by Linda Fairstein, Penguin Group Incorporated ($26.95)


If you are a Linda Fairstein fan, you may be disappointed in her latest crime novel.


Assistant DA Alexandra Cooper (prosecutor in New York’s sex crimes division) and her unofficial partners, NYPD Detectives Mike Chapman and Mercer Wallace, meet up at Harlem’s Mount Neboh Baptist Church to find the body of a woman who has been decapitated, set on fire and left burning on the church steps. The only identifiable artifact on the body is the imprint from a necklace – a Star of David that has been branded into her flesh. The police suspect a hate crime, since the church was formerly a synagogue until the makeup of the neighborhood changed.


Then a second body is found at a cathedral in Little Italy, and the threesome are soon investigating the historic backgrounds of churches in New York City before a third woman can be victimized. Crossing state lines, an unsolved murder in Kentucky also seems to be connected.


Religion and bigotry are at the heart of this thriller, with Fairstein’s usual history lesson about the Big Apple thrown in. For over 20 years, Fairstein was the chief of the sex crimes unit in the Manhattan DA’s office, so she brings much authenticity to the story. Nonetheless, the book may not measure up to the expectations of previous Fairstein mysteries.



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