Forgiving Mariela Camacho: A Kurchenko & Gonzalves Mystery, Book 3 of a series
by A.J. Sidransky
Black Opal Books 2021
When a tenant reports a terrible odor coming from apartment 7-F, detectives Kurchenko and Gonzalves know it can only mean one thing: a dead body. But despite all of their training and experience dealing with crime on New York City’s streets, the detectives aren’t prepared for what they are about to encounter.
Sidranky’s first book in this three-part series, Forgiving Maximo Rothman, (reviewed by this writer on December 22, 2020), introduced us to Maximo: his harrowing escape out of Nazi Europe, life as a refugee in the Dominican Republic, and the horrific event that forces him to flee to New York City. In book two, Forgiving Stephen Redmond, (see my review of January 22, 2021), Stephen grapples with his feelings toward his father Maximo, his own dark past, and eventual self-discovery.
In this third and final book of the series, Forgiving Mariela Camacho, Kurchenko and Gonzalves take center stage as they discover how closely their Russian and Dominican lives intersect. Now, more than ever, their partnership will be tested and challenged. How well do they really know each other? How deep is their trust in the other? Solving the case and saving the lives of those they love will depend on how well they can answer these questions.
In Forgiving Mariela Camacho, the most powerful of the three novels, Sidransky weaves a tale of passionate once-in-a-life-time-love, deep-rooted hate, the self-debasement dire circumstances impose upon the most pure and, above all, how essential forgiveness is to the human heart.
The author expertly connects the lives of the seemingly disparate characters and safely carries us to a masterful and satisfying conclusion: the redeeming power of love.
As one of the characters states, “We each have our own destiny.” Sidransky’s novel will make you ask, “What is mine?”
Join us next month on March 22nd for an interview with A.J. Sidransky. You don’t want to miss it!
Forgiving Maximo Rothman: A Kurchenko & Gonzalves Mystery, Book 1 of a series
by A.J. Sidransky
Black Opal Books 2020
Tasked with solving the homicide of Maximo Rothman, an elderly man in New York City’s Washington Heights neighborhood, Detective Tolya Kurchenko is hard pressed to keep peace in the polarized community. The Jews, mourning the loss of one of their own, are demanding more protection. The arrest of Carlos, the young man who helped care for Maximo and now accused of his murder, elicits cries of protest from the Dominican residents.
Kurchenko’s gut tells him that Carlos is innocent. Who then had motive and opportunity?
The detective determines to learn everything he can about Max and the people in his life. For now, the possible suspects are a son, a daughter-in-law, a helpful neighbor, and Carlos.
Reading Max’s journal reveals his past. The bitter loss of his family. Escape from Nazi Europe. And life as a refugee in the Dominican Republic, until he runs afoul of the Dominican dictator Trujillo and is forced to flee to New York City. Moreover, Kurchenko gets a glimpse into Max’s heart: a man who has known danger, deep love, bitter loss, and anger at a God who does not help in times of anguish.
The search for the truth takes on a life of its own, and in the process, Kurchenko discovers a man … just like him. The experience forces him to confront his own past filled with loss, anger and fear. Kurchenko’s murder investigation simultaneously becomes a search for life as he attempts to reconcile with the past, revive the dead parts of his heart, and boldly reach out to lay hold of love.
Shortlisted by the National Jewish Book Awards for Outstanding Debut Fiction, Forgiving Maximo Rothman forges a compelling bond between past and present that transcends culture. For at every time and in every place one grapples with questions of identity, and responsibility for the lives and well-being of those around us and those in our care. Ultimately, in the words of Max, Sidransky’s novel reminds us that, “Life is too short to make enemies of those we love.”
See you next year, January 22, 2021!
Being a teenager is tough enough: trying to fit in, figuring out who you are and want to be, and finding your place in the world. Jasmine Price also has to deal with being alone most of the time because her mom works two jobs to make ends meet. Her dad? Well, he’s been serving in the military so long Jasmine’s afraid she might be forgetting what he looks like.
But things seem to be looking up. They have moved out of the Projects into a better neighborhood; their neighbor Bibi, a grandmotherly figure, provides the companionship and confidante Jasmine needs while her mother’s at work, and Jasmine has a good shot at making the basketball team at her new high school.
That is until she runs afoul of Nevaeh, the team captain, and her crew. The game plan is on: take Jasmine out.
Hard pressed to deal with the escalating attacks and violence against her, Jasmine confides in Bibi who offers a solution to all of her problems: Jackson, a pet chameleon from her native Tanzania. This magical creature speaks and can transform not only his colors, but also his size, and defends, to the death, those he has sworn to protect.
When Jasmine uses the chameleon’s powers, things spiral out of control. She even becomes a police suspect in another teen’s disappearance.
Jasmine learns that by her actions she must choose who she wants to be, and realizes that positive change starts with her. Now she wants to get rid of Jackson, but how?
My Friend Jackson is a unique and riveting story of the physical and emotional impact of bullying, and the consequences of one’s actions and choices to resolve conflicts that every teenager and adult can relate to. A great and compelling story!
See you next time on November 22nd!
A seasoned detective knows that the best way to solve a crime is to follow the money trail, especially in a particular L.A. neighborhood where the rich float on top while the bottom feeders sink below. But we’re talking about Detective Finn O’Brien and he’s in the other L.A., the one with sun-streaked neighborhoods burning with robbery and drugs, and where kids duck for cover under a lullaby of gunfire.
Amber, his partner Cori’s daughter, bypasses her mother and asks Finn for help in finding her missing friend, twenty-two year old Pacal Acosta. Finn is conflicted about keeping a secret from his partner and challenged by the impossibility of trying to gather information to track an undocumented male immigrant.
When a number of missing young immigrant men are found murdered, Finn’s instincts kick in. There’s a serial killer on the loose targeting immigrants, and Amber’s involvement is spooking the killer which means she’s in danger too.
Friendship and trust are tested when Cori discovers the secret pact between Finn and Amber, and when she learns that her daughter loves the missing young man, her worldview gets turned upside down. Cori struggles to accept her daughter’s openness to this new blended world and is forced to confront her own prejudices.
The three work together to compare notes and scenarios. Who would kill immigrants and why? Could it be gang related? Maybe the work of Marbles, a member of the Hard Time Locos, not yet 18 but whose “evil is already old and deeply ingrained.” Ruling out money and drugs, the three of them follow, not the money trail, but the trail of blood and dead bodies.
Finn and Cori investigate possible killers, interview members of the ethnic community, and try to keep Amber safe, all the while dreading the unspoken possibility. What if Amber’s young man is the next dead body they find?
With multiculturalism quickly becoming the new normal, the fast-paced thriller Secret Relations is the novel for our times. Read it!
See you next time on June 22nd.
First in a new series!
by Debra H. Goldstein
Kensington Publishing Corp. 2019 ISBN 9781496719478
They say that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. It’s also an effective way to take him out—permanently!
Every clue points to Emily, a chef on the rise, and it doesn’t help that the dead man is Bill Blair…her twin sister Sarah’s ex-husband. Throw a third woman into the mix, Jane, the woman Bill was seeing who claims that Bill’s family inheritance belongs to her, including Sarah’s cat, and you’ve got a recipe for murder.
In the midst of a major Food Expo and fierce, (shall we say deadly?), chef competition aspiring careers will be made or broken. Emily’s lawyer Harlan, and Peter the police chief, all life-long friends, match evidence and wits to discover the identity of the real murderer and get Emily off the hook.
In One Taste Too Many, Debra Goldstein will put your sleuthing skills to the test. If you think you can run with the best of the pack; whether Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, Agatha Christie, or Jessica Fletcher of the television series, Murder She Wrote, Debra will throw you for a loop each time you think you’ve solved the case.
Intriguing and entertaining, you will bury your nose in the book trying to pick up the scent of each new clue. But like a sophisticated recipe, you won’t be able to guess the secret ingredient. And like the expert storyteller that she is, Debra will keep you turning the pages until she reveals the culprit. It’s not who you think!
P.S. I tried the killer recipe included at the end of the book (‘killer’ as in taste, not the one that did poor Bill in. That’s why I’m still here). I didn’t get it to come out the way it was supposed to, but it’s light, refreshing, and delicious. And if I might add…one taste is to die for!
See you next time on February 22nd.
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