Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Mystery Book Review: Different Paths by Judy Clemens

Mysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, is publishing a new review of Different Paths by Judy Clemens. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.

Different Paths by Judy Clemens

Different Paths by
A Stella Crown Mystery

Poisoned Pen Press (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 1-59058-300-0 (1590583000)
ISBN-13: 978-1-59058-300-5 (9781590583005)
Publication Date: September 2008
List Price: $24.95

Review: Women working in positions historically held by men, including a close friend of dairy farmer Stella Crown, are being targeted by an unknown assailant in rural Pennsylvania in Different Paths, the fifth mystery in this series by Judy Clemens.

The loves of Stella's life include Nick, her boyfriend who has recently been diagnosed with MS, her friends, her cow farm, and her Harley bike. But trouble has once again come to her picturesque little town. Dr. Carla Beaumont, the town’s veterinarian and Stella's close friend, is brutally beaten and her truck containing medicines hijacked. Reverend Katherine Hershberger, recently hired over a male candidate, as the minister of a Mennonite Church, finds her office ransacked, and many papers and icons destroyed. Dr. Rachel Peterson, a local physician taking over her retired father's practice, is found murdered in her office with cabinets opened and papers trashed. Stella believes the actions are related and is concerned that she, being a woman farmer, could be next on the list.

The police, however, are going under the assumption that drugs are involved. But since the attacker showed aggression against the female minister, Stella believes her impression of the events is more logical. Though Nick arrives from his home in West Virginia to help protect her, Stella isn't sure that's enough. So she sets out to find the assailant before he, or she, can do any damage to her, her farm, or the two women who help her run it.

An obvious suspect is Carla's new boyfriend, Bryan. Stella thinks him devious and mean and more than capable of committing the crimes. But how can she investigate Bryan without offending Carla?

Stella Crown is a delightful, clever, and endearing amateur sleuth, and Different Paths is at its heart a story of close friendships in a small community and how important they are during good times and bad. It's also a story of love and hate, and how one can love yet also hate. It's both funny and sad, and, by the way, it's a very good mystery.

Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of The Betz Review for contributing her review of Different Paths and to Poisoned Pen Press for providing an ARC of the book for this review.

Review Copyright © 2008 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved.

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Synopsis (from the publisher): When Stella’s friend and veterinarian Carla Beaumont is car-jacked it’s just the beginning of a rash of vicious attacks on local business women. A truck driver, minister, and personal trainer are next in line for vandalism and theft, but the community is shaken to the core when the kind-hearted Dr. Peterson is found murdered in her office.

Stella, worried that she and her farmhand Lucy might be next in line, takes it upon herself to find the connection between the victims -- something other than their gender. Who knew about these women enough to go after them? It seems obvious that someone is targeting specific leaders in the town, and Stella makes it her job to track down the killer and get the good Detective Willard to stop the violence.

Meanwhile, Stella’s boyfriend, Nick, joins her on the farm when he hears of the danger surrounding her. Will he, with his newly diagnosed MS, be able to protect her? And does she even want him to? It’s hard enough that Nick’s younger sister hates Stella and what she represents, but will that be able to keep them from making the decisions about the future?

As Stella investigates she finds much that doesn’t seem right in her usually quiet town. Between her suspicions of steroids at the local gym, irate patients at the doctor’s office, and Carla’s brand-new boyfriend, Stella’s not sure which way to focus her attention. But she knows she must -- before any more women die.

For more visit Mysterious Reviews, a partner with the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books which is committed to providing readers and collectors of with the best and most current information about their favorite authors, titles, and series.

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