Blessed Mayhem by Sue Coletta is filled with suspense

blessed mahem

Blessed Mayhem by Sue Coletta (Crossroad Press, August 9, 2017) is the second book in this author’s Mayhem series, featuring cat-burglar/computer hacker Shawnee Daniels.

I’ve been watching Coletta develop her unique style of storytelling and complicated characters during the past several years, and I’ve become a devoted fan of her fiction. Like any experienced crime writer she begins with a murder. Then she places her protagonist in jeopardy and heaps on the complications. Shawnee is caught, again and again, between a rock and a hard place. Although she’s incredibly resourceful, you just know one of these days she’ll get into trouble she can’t talk or fight her way out of.

Or the people closest to her will be killed, and it will be her fault for placing them in jeopardy.

Nadine, Shawnee’s BFF and roommate, tries to be helpful but usually manages to make things worse. I’ve never known a real librarian to be so clueless. She’s like a cross between Lou Costello and Stan Laurel. If Coletta wants to highlight the differences between the two friends, she’s certainly succeeded. Shawnee has a wisecracking mouth on her that won’t quit. She swears like a sailor and kicks ass. Nadine, on the other hand, won’t even say “shit.” She’ll say “ship” instead. They’re as different as night and day.

Coletta also gives Shawnee Daniels a unique first-person voice while using third-person POV to define Levaughn and Mr. Mayhem. Nadine is such a nay-sayer, she doesn’t deserve a voice.

As in her previous novels, Coletta obviously does lots of research and passes along what she’s learned. Blessed Mayhem includes factual information about crows, crime scene procedures, and the meaning of BLEVE (Boiling Liquid Expanding Vapor Explosion), plus a few choice tidbits about computer hacking.

And kudos to Coletta for heightening the suspense. Just when Shawnee is hip-deep in alligators, she tosses a poison snake—maybe not literally, but close enough for government work—into the pond.

I look forward to the next book in the Mayhem series.



A Perfect Obsession by Heather Graham

a perfect obsession graham

A Perfect Obsession by Heather Graham (Mira, April 2017) is full of surprises. The first surprise is discovery of supermodel Jeanette Gilbert’s body in a crypt below an old church. The second surprise is Kieran Finnegan’s twin brother Kevin is the “Mystery Man” Jeanette’s been secretly dating. The third is FBI special agent, and Kieran’s boyfriend, Craig Frasier being assigned to the case.

And the surprises just keep on coming as one beautiful corpse after another gets unearthed, proving a serial killer is loose beneath the crowded streets of New York City.

Graham loves to include history and geography lessons in each of her novels, blending fact with fiction whenever she can. But this is first and foremost a murder mystery Kieran and Craig must solve before Kieran becomes a victim herself.

It’s no surprise that A Perfect Obsession is part of a series. Graham has fully developed the Finnegan family, the bar they own, and the regulars who frequent Finnegan’s Irish Pub into something special. Kieran’s day job as a forensic psychologist and her night job as a bar maid, Craig’s job as an FBI agent, Kevin’s roles on Broadway and film, and Danny’s tour guide business are icings on the cake (or, in this case, suds on the Guinness). The pub and the city of New York overshadow everything that happens.

An exciting and fun read by a mistress of suspense.


The Passenger is an entertaining thrill ride

The Passenger by Lisa Lutz (Simon & Schuster, March 2016) is a first person narrative by Tanya Dubois aka Jo aka Tanya Pitts aka Jane Green aka Amelia Keen aka Debra Maze. Tanya/Amelia is on the run after her husband Frank Dubois dies. Did Tanya kill Frank? Or was Frank’s death an accident? One mystery leads to yet another as Tanya flees from lie after lie, life after life.

Tanya meets Blue in a bar in Austin, TX. When Mr. Oliver sends 2 men to question or kill Tanya, Blue and Tanya kill the men and escape. They begin visiting funeral homes to steal identities of deceased women. When Blue tells Tanya she’s killed her abusive husband, Jack, Tanya helps Blue bury the body. Blue suggests, since they can’t find a suitable cadaver look-alike, they simply switch identities. Tanya becomes Debra Maze, Blue’s real name, and Blue becomes Amelia Keen.

Tanya seems most at home in a bar. As she moves from town to town, changing identities on the fly, she keeps meeting men in bars. From Austin she flees to Recluse, Wyoming, where she kills the real Jack Reed in self-defense. She flees Recluse for upstate New York.

I won’t tell you Tanya’s real name. I won’t tell you about Ryan nor Mr. Oliver nor why Tanya went on the run in the first place. I don’t want to spoil the mystery.

I will mention Dominick because he’s a recurring figure in Tanya’s life. He’s the one genuinely nice and honest guy in her life, but he’s a cop and he suspects she’s not whom she claims to be and that she might be a wanted murderer.

The Passenger is a well-written mystery story with a compellingly strong female character who grows on the reader as complication after complication screws up Tanya’s life even more. There are so many wonderful twists and turns in this book that you won’t stop reading until you have read all of the story. Despite all of the foreshadowings, the ending comes as a real surprise.

My hat’s off to Lisa Lutz for an entertaining thrill-ride that made me hold onto my seat.