mystery

Treasure Hunt Mystery : Pirate Vishnu

Author: Gigi Pandian
Publisher: Henery Press
Release Date: Feb. 11, 2014 (Paperback)
Genre: Mystery, Women’s Fiction
How I got a copy: NetGalley

 A century-old treasure map of San Francisco’s Barbary Coast. Sacred riches from India. Two murders, one hundred years apart. And a love triangle… Historian Jaya Jones has her work cut out for her.

1906. Shortly before the Great San Francisco Earthquake, Pirate Vishnu strikes the San Francisco Bay. An ancestor of Jaya’s who came to the U.S. from India draws a treasure map…

Present Day. Over a century later, the cryptic treasure map remains undeciphered. From San Francisco to the southern tip of India, Jaya pieces together her ancestor’s secrets, maneuvers a complicated love life she didn’t count on, and puts herself in the path of a killer to restore a revered treasure.

Initial thoughts: A treasure hunter and Indian pirates seems like the perfect combination. Even though I haven’t read the first in the series, the premise is intriguing enough.

My Take: Jaya Jones was introduced in the first installment ARTIFACT. She is a historian who somehow gets herself embroiled in treasure hunts in the vein of a female Indiana Jones. With one adventure under her belt, Jaya has returned to San Francisco to return to her scholarly pursuits and the hope that she will be taken on as faculty by the college.

Her office is invaded by a frantic lawyer named Steven Healy. He begins asking Jaya about her long lost relative who died in the San Francisco earthquake. Or did he? This is when the treasure map that has been passed down through his family comes to light. Healy gives the treasure map to Jaya and she thinks nothing more of the map than as a vestige of a bygone era. Her casual interest in suddenly heightened when Steven Healy is discovered dead and the police begin questioning her possession of his map.

The only instance that I wished I had read the first novel, was Jaya’s attempts to connect with Lane, who had apparently broken ties with her. His distance is a real mystery at first, and it was hard to understand why Jaya was trying to hard to find him. Their relationship was a part of ARTIFACT, but in this book Lane is just an elusive character that for some reason is avoiding Jaya. He does appear during her trip to India, and we realize he does have her best interests at heart. Until then, I found myself scratching my head about Lane’s purpose in this book.

Jaya has a side gig as a musician at a local restaurant, the first sign that she identifies with her Indian heritage. She also has a good friend, Sanjay, who is a magician and has an assistant named Grace, he is the little bit of comic relief needed in this tale. The attraction between Jaya and Sanjay is hinted at but never expressed outright. His concern for Jaya is heartwarming but in a big brother sort of way. As a reader I wasn’t sure which guy to root for and I sort of like that tug and pull of affection Jaya has for Lane and Sanjay.

There are a lot of threads within this story with characters dropping in then disappaering for a bit. And with the plot shifting back in time every few chapters, there was a lot to keep track of but Gigi wrote it in a way that made it easy for the reader. We learn The Pirate Vishnu wasn’t always a pirate but an immigrant who made a few friends in the lowliest parts of San Francisco and fell in love with a girl. The chapters told at the turn of the century kept me entertained and while I can’t judge the historical accuracy myself, it seemed to reflect some research on the author’s part.

My favorite section was Jaya’s journey to India. Though dropping everything and flying to India seems easier said than done. It was an opportunity for the book to get some real adventure in a new and exotic place. I’m glad that it was included, and while their trip only seemed to confirm little, and they returned knowing little more than before they left, I felt it was essential if only for the excitement India lent to the storytelling.

My suggestion is to get into this series from the beginning and you’ll thoroughly enjoy the entire journey of Jaya by the time this book releases. Looking forward to the next installment!

Rating: 4 Stars

Overall: Jaya Jones channels Indiana Jones on a quest across continents and backward in time. Readers will enjoy the lighthearted mystery and the multitude of characters that spice up the story along the way.

About the Author

Gigi Pandian is the child of cultural anthropologists from New Mexico and the southern tip of India. After being dragged around the world during her childhood, she tried to escape her fate when she left a PhD program for art school. But adventurous academics wouldn’t stay out of her head. Thus was born the Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt Mystery Series.

Gigi’s debut mystery novel, Artifact, was awarded a Malice Domestic Grant and named a “Best of 2012″ Debut Novel bySuspense Magazine.

http://www.gigipandian.com
@gigpandian

Get the first book in the series: Amazon – B&NPowell’s

THE GIRL WITH A CLOCK FOR A HEART


Publisher: William Morrow
Pub Date : February 4, 2014
Genre: Mystery Thriller
Pages: 304

On an ordinary Friday evening at his favorite Boston tavern, George Foss’s comfortable, predictable life is shattered when a beautiful woman sits down at the bar, a woman who vanished without a trace twenty years ago.

Liana Dector isn’t just an ex-girlfriend, the first love George couldn’t quite forget. She’s also a dangerous enigma and quite possibly a cold-blooded killer wanted by the police. Suddenly, she’s back—and she needs George’s help. Ruthless men believe she stole some money . . . and they will do whatever it takes to get it back.

George knows Liana is trouble. But he can’t say no—he never could—so he makes a choice that will plunge him into a terrifying whirlpool of lies, secrets, betrayal, and murder from which there is no sure escape.

Initial thoughts: Love the cover and the title!

My Take: George is still haunted by his first love. His  brief but passionate love affair with Liana as a college freshman still lingers. We meet him nearing mid-life as a man unable to sustain a stable relationship with a woman and feeling the failure of his life choices.

Some chapters are told from the perspective of George when he was an impressionable young adult. He knows Liana as someone else entirely until George learns she won’t be returning to college from FL because she died. George takes it upon himself to travel to Florida to meet the family, find closure and mourn. The cathartic journey only serves to open up a bag of worms when he learns that Liana is alive and may have been involved in the death of the girl whose identity she stole. She disappears for good leaving George to sort through the detritus of their love.

Fast forward twenty years, when George spots Liana in a bar. She is still alluring and impenetrable.  George is unable to see that his infatuation makes him the perfect prey for someone like Liana.  He agrees to do a favor for her and quickly is embroiled in a murder which leaves him questioning his decision to fall for her charms.  Is she really caught in a web of crime that she can’t get herself out of or did she use George to pull of the perfect crime?

I was caught up in sorting through the enigma of Liana. George however, seemed very hollow, lacking any substance that would lead me to feel anything deeper about his situation. George was simply the vehicle for Liana and for the author as well.

Overall: Plenty of sexiness and  intrigue work together to create a careful crescendo of tension that will have you gasping for breath at the end. You will be more perplexed by Liana on the last page as George was from the first.

Rating: 4 Stars – A promising debut

About the author:

Peter Swanson’s poems, stories and reviews have appeared in such journals as The Atlantic, Asimov’s Science Fiction, Epoch, Measure, Notre Dame Review, Slant Magazine, Soundings East, Rattapallax, and The Vocabula Review.  He has earned degrees in Creative Writing, Education, and Literature from Trinity College, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and Emerson College.  He lives with his wife and cat in Somerville, Massachusetts.

Author website:  http://www.peter-swanson.com

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*I acquired this advance copy through the publisher. All thoughts are my own.