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Three and one half moon gifSt. Martin's Minotaur (Hardcover), ISBN 031224178X
Ann Granger's Beneath These Stones, the twelfth in Mitchell and Markby series, offers a devilishly good read and an excellent "English" novel for an American audience. Ironically, my fondness for English novels didn't serve me well in previous reading of this series. I kept feeling I was missing something. Perhaps I was.  

Book: Ann Granger, Beneath These StonesDetective Alan Markby and foreign service officer Meredith Mitchell suffer from relationship problems. Some people would react by madly cleaning their houses. Not Mitchell, she undertakes a major home improvement project, which is why she finds herself sitting eye to eye with a bright green frog on a mid-morning train that won't be going any place soon because of a track repair crew. The frog adorns a cloth backpack; obviously a child's lost possession, although Mitchell can't imagine how it came to be hanging on a tree limb along the high bank of the railway.  

Checking his traps along the railway embankment, gypsy Danny Smith's mouth waters at the prospect of a fat rabbit for his stewpot. But, instead of catching Thumper, he catches sight of a woman, stabbed to death.  

Book: Ann Granger, Call the Dead AgainOne of Mitchell's friends, a teacher named Jane Brady, inadvertently involves herself in both mysteries. Concerned about the unnatural secretiveness of Tammy Franklin, one of her students, Jane raises the subject with her headmistress. Instead of suggesting an easy way to resolve the problem, the headmistress sends Jane to visit Tammy's father. Jane finds the house in mourning. Tammy's stepmother was the woman found murdered on the embankment, and everyone Jane meets -- from Tammy to Tammy's father to the visiting neighbors -- possesses a good motive for wanting Tammy's stepmother dead. 

Markby wants to stand back and let his staff investigate the stepmother's death. But Mitchell fears a bungled investigation would endanger Jane. If Markby refuses to investigate, Mitchell will do it herself. What's a guy supposed to do when the woman making his professional life hell is the woman he asked to marry him? 

Beneath These Stones grabs you on the first page and doesn't let go. Granger's finely drawn characters and intricate web of motive and responsibility will keep you turning the pages until the dramatic unveiling of the murderer -- and keep you thinking about what you've read long afterwards. 

Suzanne Frisbee

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