Book Review: Stalking Sapphire

Stalking Sapphire by Mia Thompson (2013)

cover art

cover art

Genre: fiction, mystery, suspense, thriller, chick lit

Sapphire Dubois is not the typical Beverley Hills girl, but to all eyes she appears to be. She surrounds herself with people to fill her life and give her the look of the snobby, rich bitch. She detests having to date a douchebag, attending charity galas, going the the country club, seeing her mother’s infidelity and wearing $400 pajamas….OK, maybe not that last one.

It’s all a persona, because underneath it all Sapphire is an independent criminal detective. She operates on her own, does her research and leaves the bad guy (or girl, she doesn’t discriminate) in a bind and masks her voice as she calls the local police. She has solved six cases in the last two years that she’s been fighting crime, and semi-regularly visiting and confiding her side-work in a priest, Father O’Riley, at a Catholic church in San Diego.

Sapphire’s snobby friend, Chrissy, drags her to this charity event where she runs into newly promoted and transferred Detective Aston Ridder. He’s got a bum leg and got a demotion via promotion via transfer from downtown LA to picture-perfect Beverly Hills. He does his usual – takes Sapphire home, sleeps with her and then throws her out. Only, she gets the last laugh…

All the while, Sapphire keeps getting the feeling that someone is watching her – and then she knows for sure when a personal memento is stolen from her vehicle – parked right in front of the BHPD. And whoever it is wants Sapphire to pay – in blood.

Mystery Murder Man has Sapphire stumped, and he’s also sending her pieces of a missing girl. Sapphire’s onto Aston that he’s following/stalking her. It’s not clear to Detective Ridder, or even Sapphire, why Mystery Murder Man is sending Sapphire appendages of a certain middle-class girl, Shelly…until she shakes Aston, hotrods to San Diego, breaks into the McCormick house and discovers a brief entry in Shelly’s diary mentioning one Father O’Riley….

She’s also seeing her trainer show some feelings for her. She gets dumped by her boyfriend and she lashes out at Chrissy. Meanwhile, Aston’s having to fend off Sapphire’s mother, Vivienne, who uses men like tissues behind her elderly, disabled, nearly-vegetable husband that she overtly neglects. Talk about a viper! On top of it all, her friend and housekeeper Julia is engaged – which really shows the double sides of Sapphire.

For explicitly stating all she did in the beginning of the book about wanting to be different than all the other Beverly Hills rich women, she sure is acting like one of them with Julia. It’s strange to see such  jealously from a female character in this way, and especially cruel comments made directly to the reader about Julia’s choice…and then she blows up on him, insisting he’s the accomplice the first time she meets him! Needless to say, Sapphire is so bent on catching this serial killer that she’s not firing on all cylinders and is itching to capture him. Rushing leads to sloppiness.

The Mystery Murder Man is indeed only one person – and someone Sapphire knows! But the least-likely person she would suspect….

The book has a few light twists at the ending, but Sapphire showed some character development and is able to let Julia go, peacefully. She also confronts her mother about a question that’s been burning in her heart for her entire life – which was quite a surprise, as it never really came up at any time during the novel. Things are left unresolved between Sapphire and Aston, especially after her big announcement…and another crazy is on the loose – and he’s looking for Sapphire!

-CA

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Book Review: The Missing File by D. A. Mishani

This is a review I wrote for ireadabookonce.com:

My first thoughts after reading this book?  Wow.  Here is the synopsis from the back cover:

Detective Avraham Avraham must find a teenage boy who has vanished from his quiet suburban neighborhood.

Police detective Avraham Avraham knows that when a crime is committed in his sleepy suburb of Tel Aviv, there is little need for a complex investigation. There are no serial killers or kidnappings here. The perpetrator is usually the neighbor, the uncle, or the father. As he has learned, the simplest explanation Missing Fileis always the answer.

But his theory is challenged when a sixteen-year-old boy named Ofer Sharabi disappears without a trace while on his way to school one morning. There is no simple explanation, and Avraham’s ordered world is consumed by the unimaginable perplexity of the case.

The more he finds out about the boy and his circumstances, the further out of reach the truth seems to be. Avraham’s best lead is Ofer’s older neighbor and tutor, Ze’ev Avni. Avni has information that sheds new light on the case—and makes him a likely suspect. But will the neighbor’s strange story save the investigation?

Told through dual perspectives, The Missing File is a crisp, suspenseful tale that introduces an indelible new detective and offers an evocative portrait of suburban life and tension with a universal reach. As it draws to its startling conclusion, D. A. Mishani’s twisting mystery will have readers questioning notions of innocence and guilt, and the nebulous nature of truth.

I was seriously blown away by this book.  The writing, the suspense, the foreshadowing…it was absolutely riveting.

I read a variety of books, and I occasionally read about crime/mysteries.  This one was different than any other book I have read before.

First, I loved the fact that it was set in Israel.  Like the main character says “there are no detective or mystery books written in Hebrew”.  I love learning about different part of the world and how they work in terms of crime, government and everyday life.  I learned so much about this part of the world, just from this book.

I appreciated the author’s use of foreshadowing.  He inserts a little nugget of information in your brain that might not be resolved for several chapters.  But that nugget stays in your brain while you are reading the build up to a resolution.

I liked how the story was told from dual perspectives.  How the same events were reconstructed by two people on seemingly opposite sides.

The ending is so simple, but the way it is written, is so unexpected.

The characters in this book are very well developed.  The reader feels a sort of kinship with the main character, Avi and a sense of revulsion at the secondary main character, Ze’ev.

I am a nurse, so I completely understand the feelings of guilt and the emotions produced when something goes wrong.  There is a sense of responsibility to the person involved.  There is a constant replay in the mind, what did I miss?  What could have been done differently to change the outcome?

The detective in this book, Avi, is extremely dedicated to his line of work.  This case deeply affects him, and I totally identify with that notion.

This is a five star book for me for so many reasons.  For the way it is written, very sharp and concise.  The way the detective methodically attempts to solve the crime.  The vivid descriptions of police work that goes along with a case of this nature.  The emotions evoked at several points in the book.

And I definitely loved the ending that leaves room for more to come. This is an excellent book, very highly recommended.

–AA

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