Criminal Intent


Image by Reimund Bertrams from Pixabay

On the cover of Jilted by K. T. Rose, I see a picture of a woman with the eyes concealed or blanked out as if someone swiped from left to right across the book cover. Maybe they swiped from right to left. Your Tinder preference may vary. Below the picture, I see that this is A Trinity of Wicked Tales. Further, it is only Volume One. And then comes the clincher, this is A Dark Suspense Short Story Collection. OK, I’m in, the author has hit all my favorite genre buttons. That is a lot of information on the front cover.

Writer in Love

The title for Bitch on Wheels by Gregg Olsen comes from a description by one of Sharon’s “colleagues.” Sharon probably never had true friends. Sharon only had feelings for people who could provide benefits to her, either monetarily or connections with those who demonstrated the potential for future exploitation. Those feelings changed from moment to moment. People who initially had feelings of friendship for her would change their perceptions over time as Sharon’s true nature would inevitably emerge. Throughout the story, I wondered if author Olsen was giving an accurate portrayal of Sharon. Her documented actions were deplorable on their face; it was Olsen’s description of Sharon’s acceptance of her own actions that caused me to speculate. If Olsen’s description of Sharon’s self-perceptions is accurate, Sharon is a monster.

Plastic Kills

For me, author Willow Rose signals a guaranteed entertaining thriller novel, and this is true with Girl Next Door. She seems to specialize in serial killer tales. Even though I know this in advance, each of her novels catches me unawares with a surprise ending. Again, that is true with this novel but with a twist that I did not like. It had nothing to do with the mystery. That was good. Rose jumped back and forth in time to show the development of a splintered mind that would result in a serial killer. To find out who the killer was and discover motivation was like peeling an onion. Each layer had surprises; the novel was good and typical Willow Rose.

Too Many Crimes, Too Many Characters

Murder is Secondary (A Susan Wiles Schoolhouse Mystery) by Diane Weiner is one in a series of nine novels. The About the Author section notes this is a cozy mystery. I have never been sure what that is. In searching for a definition, I found that there is generally an almost absence of sex and violence but there is some sort of mystery that is supposed to appeal to intelligent women. Also, the mystery typically takes place in a community where everybody knows everybody. This sounds like the TV series Murder She Wrote. I hope no one minds if I occasionally spy on what intelligent women are reading.

For Whom the Belle Tolls

Hell’s Princess by Harold Schechter is the well-researched story of the mystery of Belle Gunness, a butcher of men. I note that she was “a” butcher of men, not “the” butcher of men or even the title without an article. Belle was a serial killer, one of many in history and to date. She was notable for several reasons. She was “she;” female serial killers were and are disproportionately few compared to males. Women nurtured; they did not “knock people off.” Second, Belle was unusually cruel in her kill methods and selection of targets. They were not strangers; her victims were husbands, lovers, and included her own children. Finally, she operated in a time and environment that we look back upon from the present day as a time of innocence, a closely interactive environment where people trusted the common good in each other, where such things just didn’t happen.