Mystery/Thriller Book ReviewsThe Internet Writing Journal, June 1998 Page Four of Six
Murder Take Two by Charlene WeirSt. Martin's Press, March 1998.
Hardcover, 327 pages.
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Susan Wren, the Chief of Police for Hampstead, Kansas has a world of trouble on her hands when a Hollywood film crew shows up in the small town to film Tinseltown's latest blockbuster starring megastars Laura Edwards and Nick Logan. The crew has not been filming long when Laura's stunt double, Kay Bender, is killed when a stunt goes wrong. When another actress on the set is found stabbed in her hotel room and Laura begins receiving threatening messages, it's clear that a killer is stalking the cast. Wren is forced to conduct the investigation without the help of her best officer, Parkwood, when it comes to light that Parkhurst used to be married to Laura and so is disqualified from the case. As Wren investigates, she finds a complex web of relationships between the cast and a confusing array of motives for doing away with the much-despised Laura.
Charlene Weir has crafted an interesting mystery with a colorful cast of characters who are vividly drawn. The subplots work quite well and the storyline moves at a crisp pace right up until the exciting ending.
Reaper by Ben MezrichHarperCollins, Jan., 1998.
Hardcover, 342 pages.
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Nick Barnes, an ambulance driver whose brilliant surgery career was short-lived due to a hand injury, is on an emergency stop where a disoriented man, with multiple cuts and bruises, is stopping traffic. In the midst of the rescue operation, Barnes figures out that the man's moans and wild gestures are meant to get the police and ambulance crew to investigate an office building above the street, where the man apparently came from. Barnes and two of the officers cautiously make their way up to the office. What they find in the office building is horrifying. Nine suited business men are sitting dead in their chairs -- their skin has turned a chalk white. Astonished, but quick on his feet, Barne's initial reaction is that the culprit is a virus and he urges everyone away from the area. Barnes concludes that there is much more to this situation than meets the eye when a beautiful female FBI agent, Samantha Craig, takes charge of the situation the next day. When Nick Barnes gets nosy, Samantha enlists his help and explains to him that this is not the first case. They soon discover that the virus, known as the Reaper, is spreading through televisions and computers that are hooked up to a new information highway project from mega-company, Telecon -- which has swallowed up smaller companies like Microsoft in its rise to the top. Telecon has placed a communications device called a Set-Top Box in every home that allows the secure and super-fast Telecon network into local TVs and computers. The race is on to stop the virus before Marcus Teal, CEO of Telecon, turns the network on -- which could send the Reaper to nearly every home and office in the world.
Reaper is an exciting techno-thriller from budding author Ben Mezrich. The novel is an exciting combination of an ebola-esque disease, corporate mega-opolies and technological advances. Look for more scientific thrillers in the future from youthful talent Mezrich.
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