Mystery/Thriller Book Reviews

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Digging up Death by Triss Stein

Walker, June 1998.
Hardcover, 190 pages.
ISBN: 0802733190. Ordering information:

Digging up Death
by Triss Stein Magazine columnist Kay Engles has a lead on a fascinating new story; while digging just fifty feet from Wall Street, her archeologist friend Dr. Vera Contas has just unearthed the skeleton of a man who is three hundred years old in the ruins of what was an old tavern frequented by pirates, perhaps even the famous Captain Kidd. The dig is in the middle of a site where realtor Alan Elkan plans on constructing a commercial building after the required archaeological survey is completed. When strange things begin happening on the site, such as the murder of a security guard and the vandalism of Kay's car, Kay's investigative instincts are roused and she begins to dig deeper into the mystery of the site. Her search is complicated by the fact that she spends time pining for her out of town beau, Tony, fending off the very insistent attentions of the handsome Alan Elkin, and trying to track down her long-lost mother. When another murder occurs, Kay realizes that she must solve the mystery before she becomes the next victim of an unseen killer.

This is the second adventure of Kay Engles (See, Murder at the Class Reunion, 1993). Kay is a likeable heroine and the archeological mystery is interesting. Although the numerous subplots can be a bit confusing, Stein ably wraps up all the missing threads by the end of the tale in a rousing conclusion.

The First Horseman by John Case

Fawcett Books, August 1998.
Paperback, 325 pages.
ISBN: 0449911020.
Ordering information:

The First Horseman
by John Case The Spanish Flu was a devastating flu epidemic, killing 40 million people in 1918. The flu killed all across the globe, young and old -- no one was safe. Kang is a medical worker in an isolated village in North Korea. His fellow villagers are sick and dying from an unknown disease and he is off gathering wood to keep the fires burning when he notices help, in the form of soldiers, tanks and trucks, finally coming to the rescue. But the help stops short of his village and, before he realizes what is going to happen, the village is bombed and incinerated. Kang flees for his life and barely manages to escape. He enters the DMZ and passes into South Korea. When information is relayed to the CIA and they determine there is a possibility that a bioweapon based on the Spanish Flu may be under development, a crew is sent into the Arctic to try and recover the virus from the bodies of miners. Records show the miners died from the flu and their bodies froze on the work site, which would allow scientists to potentially extract the flu virus from their bodies. Reporter Frank Daly catches wind of the developing story and tries to follow the crew on their expedition -- but some suspicious men keep him from the information. However, Daly is hard to turn away and his continuing investigation leads him onto a story that could impact the entire human race.

The First Horseman is a fast-paced novel with appealing characters, a global threat based on a real disease and spine-tingling espionage. John Case, author of The Genesis Code, has penned a first-rate biomedical thriller. Highly recommended.

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