The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

December 5, 2008

Book review: ‘Dirty Secrets’ abound in Gardiner novel

I love a good mystery. Each of these authors is new for me and now I’ll be looking for more of their works.

Happy reading!

‘The Dirty Secrets Club’

By Meg Gardiner

Everyone has secrets. Who has secrets so big and so shameful, even criminal, that they would prefer death over exposure? That’s the question forensic psychiatrist Jo Beckett must find an answer to before others die.

Jo is called to a crime scene that looks as if someone intentionally drove off a bridge hitting a vehicle below. On the leg of the driver, Callie, is the word “dirty,” written in lipstick. On her arm is the word “pray.” The passenger is barely alive and whispers to Jo, “Stop it.” As Jo delves into Callie’s life, she soon learns about the Dirty Secrets Club, a group of people who confess their deepest secret in order to be part of this exclusive group. But the stakes are getting higher to belong. She learns that the San Francisco Police Department has been dealing with suicides or murder-suicides about every 48 hours. Jo is given 48 hours to find out who the next “suicide” will be.

Meg Gardiner expertly weaves the secrets and lives of people who seem to have nothing in common except money and a strong desire to keep their worst secret a secret. This is a page-turner and a book you won’t want to put down. Highly recommended.

‘Antiques to Die For’

By Jane K. Cleland

Josie Prescott is an antiques appraiser with her own antiques shop. Her life hasn’t really gone as she had planned but she’s doing fine in her New Hampshire coastal town.

Things seems to be going well until her good friend, Rosalie, turns up murdered, leaving a 12-year old younger sister, Paige, with nowhere to go. Paige reminds Josie of herself when her mother died, so until arrangements can be made for Paige to go live with her cousin and his family, Paige is staying with Josie.

As Josie delves into Rosalie’s murder, she discovers Rosalie has kept a number of secrets. Josie soon finds herself with a secret admirer who is not happy with her sleuthing in between activities at the antique shop.

This is the third installment of the “Josie Prescott Antiques Mystery” series. A good cozy read with lots of dialogue and action that stands well on its own.

‘When Darkness Falls’

By James Grippando

Jack Swyteck is a criminal attorney in Miami who’s very good at his job. Periodically he takes on pro-bono cases, which is what he believes his latest case to be. But when Falcon, a homeless man who has been arrested for threatening to jump off a bridge, comes up with $10,000 cash to cover his bail, Jack’s not sure things are as they seem.

Before Jack knows it, Falcon is once again in trouble. This time he has killed a police officer, injured another and taken hostages in a local motel and is under investigation for the murder of another woman found in the trunk of the burned-out car (a Falcon) in which he lives. One of the hostages is Jack’s best friend and former death row inmate, Theo Knight.

In all of Falcon’s troubles, he continues to demand to speak to the mayor’s daughter. The mayor is not having any of this and wants Falcon dead. It’s up to Jack to figure out why and how to get Theo and the other hostages out safely.

This suspense novel is well written with lots of description and dialogue that puts the reader in the midst of the action. The characters are well-drawn and Grippando does a fantastic job intertwining their lives, past and present. Highly recommended.

Susan Wray is the director of Joplin Public Library.