Friday, July 03, 2009

Mystery Book Review: A Plague of Secrets by John Lescroart

Mysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, is publishing a new review of A Plague of Secrets by John Lescroart. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.

A Plague of Secrets by John Lescroart

A Dismas Hardy Mystery

Dutton (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 0-525-95092-3 (0525950923)
ISBN-13: 978-0-525-95092-9 (9780525950929)
Publication Date: June 2009
List Price: $26.95

Review: San Francisco attorney Dismas Hardy, homicide detective Abe Glitsky, and private investigator Wyatt Hunt work together to solve the mystery of why two college friends of socialite Maya Townsend were murdered in A Plague of Secrets, the 13th thriller in this series by John Lescroart.

Maya Townshend is a mother of two, a business owner, and, oh by the way, the niece of the mayor. She is a silent partner in the popular and up-scale Bay Beans West Coffee Shop where a former beau of hers, Dylan Vogler, is the manager. She agrees to meet him one morning only to find him dead, shot with a gun that turns out to be hers. The murder investigation reveals that Vogler was killed in possession of a knapsack filled with marijuana that he had grown himself, a client list that included some of San Francisco's most prominent names, and a salary from the coffee shop more than double paid by comparable businesses. Soon thereafter, another former college friend of Maya's, Levon Preslee, is found dead, a cleaver in his head and Maya's fingerprints in his apartment. It soon becomes apparent that the two men were blackmailing Maya for something that happened long ago. She had motive and opportunity, but did she put an end to her troubles by killing Vogler and Preslee?

The appeal of A Plague of Secrets rests squarely on the incredibly and exquisitely defined character of Maya Townshend. Is she innocent? If not, is her secret so terrible that even if she is guilty, are the crimes justified? The story is gripping, fast-paced, at times electrifying, always riveting. Even the side stories, which more often than not detract attention in this kind of thriller, add depth and interest here. The legal wrangling is deftly handled and the denouement surprising and satisfying.

A Plague of Secrets combines the best of a legal thriller, a police procedural, and a murder mystery into one terrific novel. It is highly recommended.

Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of The Betz Review for contributing her review of A Plague of Secrets and to Penguin Group for providing a copy of the book for this review.

Review Copyright © 2009 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved

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Synopsis (from the publisher): The first victim is Dylan Vogler, a charming ex-convict who manages the Bay Beans West coffee shop in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury district. When his body is found, inspectors discover that his knapsack is filled with high-grade marijuana. It soon becomes clear that San Francisco’s A-list flocked to Bay Beans West not only for their caffeine fix.

But how much did Maya Townshend—the beautiful socialite niece of the city’s mayor, and the absentee owner of the shop—know about what was going on inside her business? And how intimate had she really been with Dylan, her old college friend?

As another of Maya’s acquaintances falls victim to murder, and as the names of the dead men’s celebrity, political, and even law- enforcement customers come to light, tabloid-fueled controversy takes the investigation into the realms of conspiracy and cover-up. Prosecutors close in on Maya, who has a deep secret of her own—a secret she needs to protect at all costs during her very public trial, where not only her future but the entire political landscape of San Francisco hangs in the balance, hostage to an explosive secret that Dismas Hardy is privilege-bound to protect.

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Lance Wright owns and manages Omnimystery, a Family of Mystery Websites, which had its origin as Hidden Staircase Mystery Books in 1986. As the scope of the business expanded, first into book reviews — Mysterious Reviews — and later into information for and reviews of mystery and suspense television and film, all sites were consolidated under the Omnimystery brand in 2006.

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