Mystery/Thriller Book ReviewsThe Internet Writing Journal, March 1998
Page Three of Three
The Best of Sisters In Crime edited by Marilyn WallaceBerkley Prime Crime, Dec., 1997
Hardcover, 319 pages.
The first Sisters in Crime anthology appeared in 1989 to rave reviews. A collection of short stories by female mystery and crime writers, The Best of Sisters in Crime has maintained its high standards of literary excellence under the editorial helm of Macavity Award winner and Anthony Award Nominee Marilyn Wallace. This latest anthology is no exception. The authors read like a Who's Who in the mystery world: Dorothy Cannell, Mary Higgins Clark, Diane Mott Davidson, Elizabeth George, Sue Grafton, Joyce Carol Oates, Sara Paretsky, Nancy Pickard, Carolyn Wheat and many more. The stories run the gamut from spooky and suspenseful such as Nancy Pickard's "Afraid All the Time", the tale of a woman who moves to the country from the city and "Voices in the Coalbin" by Mary Higgins Clark, the tale of a woman haunted by singing voices from her childhood to the proper English mystery as told by Elizabeth George in "The Evidence Exposed". Female private eyes are also represented by V.I. Warshawski in "The Maltese Cat" by Sarah Paretsky and Sharon McCrumb's intriguing tale, "A Poison That Leaves No Trace" starring PI Kinsey Millhone. The writers of all the stories in the book have been short-listed for a major mystery literary prize.
Ingenious, chilling, amusing and entertaining, this anthology is an excellent sampling of some of today's best female mystery and crime writers. A must for any mystery-lover's collection.
--Claire E. White
The Edith Wharton Murders by Lev RaphealSt. Martin's Press, Sep., 1997.
Hardcover, 237 pages.
Nick Hoffman, beleaguered composition teacher at the fictional State University of Michigan is wondering if his dreams of tenure will ever come true. If the homophobia sweeping the campus doesn't do him in, his new assignment to coordinate an Edith Wharton conference just might. There are two main Wharton groups with diametrically different views of how the legendary author's work should be interpreted. Naturally, one society cannot be invited without inviting the other one. And, unfortunately, the members of the two groups can hardly stand to be in the same room with each another. With visions of his tenure being sucked into the black hole of a disastrous conference, Nick reluctantly agrees to chair the dreaded event.
Things start off well -- attendance is high, the food is good -- until one of the attendees is violently murdered. While the opposing Wharton scholars trade literary barbs and try to conceal their envy at the success of colleague Chloe De Vore, Nick finds himself a murder suspect for the second time . It's up to Nick to find the murderer, prevent another one from happening and save the conference -- not to mention his career.
Raphael fans breathed a sigh of relief when Nick Hoffman returned in this second entry in this delightful and intelligent mystery series set in the hallowed halls of academia. Even better than the first Hoffman outing (Let's Get Criminal), The Edith Wharton Murders will have you laughing out loud, especially at the scene where Nick is forced to do his Elmer Gantry impersonation to calm the fury of the outraged scholars. Nick's faithful narration of the machinations of the university professors and the warring Wharton scholars is truly hilarious. Another witty, wild and wickedly funny romp from master wordsmith Raphael.
--Claire E. White
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