The House of Tomorrow by Adair Arlen is a tale of intrigue and romance that keeps the reader guessing until the very end. First, we meet Paul Gregory as he is closing his bar for the night. There is an elegance to this scene as Arlen describes Paul’s interactions with two different women and the ambiance surrounding them. Paul is painted as a suave heartbreaker type. That night, he dreams of a third woman, who he saw in passing the evening before.
That woman is Lillian Greening. Arlen describes Lily as genuine and pure; she strives to see the good in people and is uncomfortable with deception. She does not know the allure she possesses for men nor the extent of her beauty. That is why she cannot believe it when Sam Meredith, one of the richest and most influential men in town, asks her to meet his family and, later on, become his wife.
Sam Meredith seems to be every woman’s dream—attractive, charming, attentive, and wealthy. And he seems genuinely to love Lily, even though his family disapproves of the match. However, things take an unexpected turn when Paul begins to insert himself into Lily’s life and Sam starts acting sketchy. Paul begins to show an interest in all things to do with Lily (and Sam), but he will not tell her why. And Sam, after proposing, becomes twitchy and distant. What is it about the Meredith family that has everyone speaking in riddles? And why is Lily suddenly of interest to two of the most attractive and mysterious men she’s ever met?
Arlen spins an interesting tale about secrets and how our past effects our present and future. Concentrating less of the details of the mystery, he focuses on the characters involved, giving them elaborate backstories and delving into their emotions. The beginning of the novel is beautifully written as the reader is introduced to the cast and the situation. Some readers may find the middle a tad on the slow side, as the action slows down and it’s mostly internal thought and introspection. But the end is fast-paced and action-packed. The reader will enjoy this story of relationships, both romantic and familial.
Appointment With Death by David Dundas is a crime thriller with an interesting premise. The main character of the novel is Mike Murphy, who becomes a cop in the small town of Silverton despite his parents’ disapproval. The first chapter draws the reader in, showing snippets of Murphy’s time in training and significant busts he makes as a rookie. At the end of this fast-paced and interesting chapter, Murphy is promoted to detective. Upon making detective, Murphy stumbles onto the case of his career. There is a killer out there murdering prostitutes and gouging out their eyes.
In an attempt to add suspense to the story, Dundas switches back and forth between multiple points of view. In the space of a chapter, the reader encounters thoughts from Murphy, other officers, reporters, and of course, the killer. This is a wonderful technique, but it is executed poorly. Instead of adding mystery and suspense, it merely creates confusion because there is no rhyme or reason to the point of view changes. Moreover, there are no transitions between the changes. In one paragraph, the reader could be watching Officer Reyes being paranoid in her apartment, and in the very next paragraph, it could be a week later and now the reader is watching the killer select a victim. Point of view switches happen as often as every paragraph and can be extremely confusing to the reader.
The plotline of this book is acceptable. As a crime novel, it does its job. The reader will be left wondering who the killer is until almost the very end. For the reader who loves mystery, this story will be a treat. The characters show real promise. Detective Murphy is extremely likable and the reader will want him to succeed. However, there are so many different characters that it makes individual character development sparse. Dundas does some things very well, such as creating an elaborate town and a crime mystery that’s hard to solve, but his writing style falls short of excellent in some areas. If the reader can push through point of view and sequence of events confusion, he or she will still enjoy the overall story.
Footprints of a Dancer by Bob Avey is actually fourth in a series of Detective Elliot mysteries. Yet, the reader who has not read the first three novels will have no problem comprehending Elliot’s life and actions. Indeed, after reading this installment, the reader will be inclined to acquire the previous ones. Throughout the entire book, Avery spins a mystery so elaborate that it is almost impossible to gauge how the tale will end.
The story begins with Elliot taking an evening jog. Thinking he will be alone on the trails, he is surprised to find that a woman is running towards him, even more so because she is an old friend by the name of Laura who went missing years ago. To make matters even more bizarre, another old friend calls to tell Elliot that he has seen Laura as well, directly after she disappears on the trails. Elliot agrees to meet with Gerald, as there is something strange occurring, but when Elliot shows at the meeting place Gerald is gone, and no one knows where he went. Suddenly, Elliot is on the trail of two missing friends that he believes have been murdered. By who, he has no clue.
To make matters more complicated, there seems to be a supernatural aspect to the case. Something to do with an obsidian knife of unknown origins. Moreover, Elliot begins having visions, as well as experiencing fluctuations in time. Is Elliot going insane from the stress of being a cop and looking for old friends or is there something sinister at work? The reader must follow Elliot to the very end to find out the answer, along the multiple twists and turns and inexplicable events.
Avery spins an intricate mystery that the reader will enjoy, especially one who attempts to crack the case as it is happening. Every step of the way, the evidence is so detailed that it feels as if the reader is standing right beside Elliot. This is not one of those mysteries where the outcome is foreseeable; there are so many suspects along the way that the reader is thrown off the trail up until the very end. There are even times when the reader feels they have escaped the confines of time along with Elliot himself. As a detective novel, Footprints of a Dancer does not disappoint.