Secret Prey

By John Sandford

G.P. Putnam’s Sons

$24.95, hardcover

During the early part of the “shelter in place” time of the coronavirus, I happened upon a Lucas Davenport novel by John Sandford I had put away for an emergency.

Obviously, this was the time, so I started reading. It appeared to be the only book by Sandford I had never read, and though the first few pages were less than mesmerizing, I read every word, and before long, the magic of this series kicked in.

The book was one printed back in 1998, and according to the story line, Lucas and Weather (not yet married though they were planning to be) had broken up.

Weather was undergoing some kind of trauma from a past event, about which my memory was completely gone, and Lucas was deep in the doldrums about the break-up.

Enter an assignment to find a killer, along with a new female companion, another law enforcement officer whose sex drive is as over-the-top as Lucas’s own.

The murder of a bank president and the motives of his fellow board members provides the essential mystery, with a bank merger planned and considerable jockeying for position by those who want the now open position.

The murder occurs while the suspects and the victim are hunting deer, and as time passes, Sandford shares information about the unfortunate (or maybe convenient) deaths of other bank officers.

Long before he discovers the identity of the killer, Lucas realizes too many “accidental” or “natural” deaths in the past may have been a bit too convenient to believe.

If wealth and importance, along with the access to them, are as dangerous as Sandford portrays here, I plan to be very careful what I wish for.

Not that there’s much chance in my case, you understand.

Even so, it’s a great book to read during a time when you’re otherwise confined to your home and unable to go to work or do much of anything else except watch scores of TV newscasts about a pandemic and the number of people throughout the world who have been affected by it.

Just One Look

By Harlan Coben

Dutton

$9.99, paperback

When Grace Lawson looks over the photo prints she picked up earlier in the day, she finds one that doesn’t belong. The people, the era they represent, even the print itself, are far different from the apple-picking photos her husband had taken of their two children a few days earlier.

And the reaction of her husband, Jack, when she shows him the pictures is even more of a surprise, especially when he suddenly goes tense, then later that evening leaves home without even telling her where he is going or why.

When Jack fails to return that night — or for days afterward — Grace contacts the police, but they take little note of his disappearance, apparently attributing it to a marital situation in which the man is looking for “space” from his spouse.

Studying the old photo, Grace thinks she recognizes one of the people as Jack, though he was bearded at the time, and concentrates on trying to find out who the others are.

Suddenly she finds some other people are far too interested in the old picture. On a routine trip to the grocery store, she is warned by a stranger, who quickly disappears after telling her to quit asking questions and voices a threat to her children.

Eric Wu, a sociopathic former prison inmate, is among those who are determined to stop Grace’s efforts to trace the photo, but she also feels pressure from people she previously considered friends or acquaintances.

Among them are Carl Vespa and his henchman/chauffeur, Cram. Vespa is the still-grieving father of a child killed in the Boston Massacre some 15 years’ earlier. He is among the grieving parents who contacted her while she was hospitalized from injuries she suffered in that incident.

Although the main story ends with lots of unanswered questions, the author provides all the needed information without any unnecessary details at the very last minute.

I kept waking myself up long after midnight in order to read the last few words.

Last Night with the Earl

By Kelly Bowen

Kindle

This is a romance about two people with scars. Eli, an English earl, is a veteran of England’s wars with Napoleonic France. He has the visible result of a terrible facial injury. Rose, the woman he loves, has been damaged by a faithless and heartless lover, who was Eli’s former friend.

It’s well written, offering interesting characters whose reactions are more akin to those of modern times than to the era depicted.

Kelly Bowen does an excellent job with a somewhat simplistic theme, and if you’re looking for a light historical romance, you will probably enjoy this one.

Marie Beth Jones is a published author and freelance writer based in Angleton. Contact her at 979-849-5467 or 1mbjones@nnewwave.com

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