Friday, January 29, 2010

Suite 606 by J.D. Robb, Mary Blayney, Ruth Ryan Blangan and Mary Kay McComas

These four stories take place in a Suite 606, which is different in each story. Whether the location is central to the story or incidental, that is the only thing that the collection requires.

First, J.D. Robb gives us "Ritual in Death"- Eve Dallas is attending a party with her husband, Roarke, when they are interrupted by a naked, blood-smeared man collapsing. Quick investigation shows that the man came from the adjoining Suite 606, and that the body of an equally nude, murdered woman is inside. While it's probable that the man is the murderer, when he finally comes to, he says he can't remember a thing about what went down in the suite. He's genuinely confused, and only has foggy memories of what happened.

But Eve doesn't believe he is entirely guilty- especially when the security tapes of what went down in the apartment are wiped, and the security chief of the hotel has similar foggy memories of the night, and shares a killer headache with the possible perp. The missing tapes scream cover-up and conspiracy to Eve, but can she figure out who actually killed the woman and why the real murderers wanted her dead? With the ritual-esque evidence left behind, who wanted the man to be blamed for the murder?

"Love Endures" by Mary Blayney gives us Summer Cassidy, a widow whose husband is still hanging around in Suite 606. Dead after a life of too much deception, drinking and gambling. His soul straddles the line between heaven and hell, and he wants Summer's help to ensure that he ends up in heaven, not Hell.

Summer, though, doesn't feel very inclined to help him, and the presence of her husband's best friend, who she was once in love with and engaged to, doesn't make her job easier. Her husband told her that his friend had only gotten close to her because of a bet between the two of them, which made her break it off and eventually marry the man who became her husband. But when he must reveal the lie he told her to be redeemed, can she find it in her heart to forgive her husband, and herself for falling for his lie?

"Cold Case" by Ruth Langan tells the story of a big-city detective who has grown too damaged to deal with his job investigating murders. He decides to move to a small town in the middle of nowhere to get away from the memories in his head. But when he's involved in an accident on a small, snowy back road, he's rescued by a young woman withering under the thumb of her abusive step father while trying to protect her artistically gifted sister from her stepfather.

The stepfather isn't happy to have another male in the house, and he tells, Sam, the cop, to move on in the morning. But by the morning, the storm that brought down Sam's car is still around, so Sam must stay instead of going into town. His attraction to the woman who found him, Mary Catherine, brings him the mystery of what happened to her mother, who her stepfather says ran off with a drifter who came there to work. But as the storm grows worse, and the stepfather meaner and crueller, can Sam find the truth about what happened to Mary Catherine's mother, and save her daughters from the same fate?

"Wayward Wizard" by Mary Kay McComas tells the tale of Marie Barnett, a divorcee raising a son, Hugh, that seems to hate her. But when she takes him to the Museum, he touches an ancient Egyptian Pendant and vanishes. Touching it, she follows him into the past, she meets a magician named Nester Baraka of Viator, who has bonded with her son in the time it has taken her to follow him- a few minutes on her part, and days on his.

Nester tells her that he can get her home, but to do so, he must retrieve the gem that sent her and her son Hugh into the future, because without it, his time travelling isn't very accurate, and he needs the stone to be able to travel with complete accuracy- it's one of two, but one isn't complete without the other. Marie, a history teacher, agrees to help him as they travel home, but soon finds herself attracted to Nestor. Can she stand looking forward to finding the second stone when it means Nestor will eventually have to leave her? And will her son forgive her if she lets him go?

This was a somewhat uneven concept to hang a story collection on. Nestor, Marie and Hugh end up showing up in all the other stories, but the "Suite 606" can range from a very important part of the story (like the first two stories, where most of the action occurs there) to the last two, where the suite only plays a tiny part in the story (a very tiny part). Each of the stories by themselves is wonderful, but as a framing device, the suite 606 concept wasn't exactly stellar. It's like saying, "A story happens- and rooms are involved!"

That being said, my favorite story here is the one by J. D. Robb. Even witthout the suite concept, the story really crackled with excitement and mystery. My second favorite was "Cold Case" because of how involved in both the story and the characters I got. The story sucked me in fast and good. But truth be told, there isn't a bad story in the bunch. All of them are wonderful and engaging to read, bar none.

I'd recommend this book very highly. while the stories in the book may not flow together into a cohesive whole or even have much to do with the title of the book, the stories are the best part of the book and well worth picking up. Highly recommended.

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