Reviews of Books
(click on any image to purchase)
THE BOOK COMMENTARY
Publisher: Atmosphere Press
Publication Date: January 20, 2023
Number of Pages: 288
Murder at Amapas Beach (An Amanda Pennyworth Mystery) by James Gilbert is a splendid meld of sleuth, crime, and mystery. Amanda Pennyworth just wanted to have a romantic moment with her boyfriend Romero Morelos on Amapas Beach in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. But all the fun she has planned to have is marred when Danielle Maglin, a woman who has been with Amanda and her friends on the same boat is found brutally murdered. Back in the US, things take another turn when, Terry Blanchard, one of the last people to see Danielle alive is found dead. What seems like suicide is another murder, and Amanda has a long list of people with a motive. Can she solve the mystery and unveil the face of the killer where police forensics have failed?
James Gilbert has created a mind-blowing mystery around murder, creating a situation in which anyone can become a suspect and this keeps the story hugely interesting as readers follow each character curious about what will become of them. The plotting is deft; the writing is classy, and the setting is richly imagined and intelligently crafted. Characters like Sol and Marcie Spiegel are stunningly imagined and well-written. Amanda is an intelligent detective and it will be easy for readers to love her. Murder at Amapas Beach (An Amanda Pennyworth Mystery) is an intriguing entry in the Amanda Pennyworth Mystery and a clever, completely original whodunit. The author has crafted an entrancing murder mystery with all the elements of a page-turner.
Reviewed By: Bertin Drizller
Reviewed Date: February 6, 2023
THE BOOK COMMENTARY:
Murder at the Olympiad by James Gilbert opens with the discovery of the body of an American tourist, murdered in a Mexican gay sauna--a compelling premise, indeed. Amanda Pennyworth, the American consul to Puerto Vallarta gets embroiled in the investigation, determined to uncover the murderer. She is plunged into the underworld of the exotic resort as she works with a young officer to identify the killer. The wrong guy is arrested for the crime and Amanda is convinced he never committed the murder, but everyone, including the parents of the boy and the chief of police, is willing to prosecute him. When she finally identifies the real killer, she is bruised morally and psychologically as she discovers the unspoken codes and disturbing realities about the Foreign Service.
Puerto Vallarta is a setting that is stunningly imagined and intelligently executed, with its colorful sights and tourist culture brilliantly written. The setting provides the right context for this mesmerizing blend of mystery and thriller and Amanda Pennyworth =, the consul, exhibits unusual intelligence as she walks a difficult path toward solving a murder. She is an interesting character that fans of sleuth will adore; inadequate in her lack of sleuth skills, yet alert and intelligent, always questioning evidence presented to her. The prose is excellent and punctuated with sparkling dialogue, and the intenral dialoges explore the inner conflict and disquietude that stirs Amanda's mind. The writing is stylistic and at times the author inserts insights about life into the passages that force the reader to stop and think. Murder at the Olympiad is by turns exciting, sorrowful, and thrilling, and the author writes about bold themes with aplomb--politics, murder, and one woman's awakening to reality and her journey to self-discovery as she struggles to solve the murder of a young American. Fans of hard-edged mystery with strong cultural and political settings will be riveted.
Reviewed by Matthew Novak Review Date, May 11, 2022
Reviews of Books
Anaphora literary Press (176pp.)
May 19, 2020
A diplomat barely has time to unpack in a beautiful Mexican city when she finds herself involved in what looks like a high-profile kidnapping in this novel.
Amanda Pennyworth has arrived in Puerto Vallarta to take charge of the American Consular Service, her fourth posting. She is already becoming disenchanted with her career, but Puerto Vallarta should be a safe and pleasant place to spend a few years. There is a large American expatriate community with a literary bent, an attraction because Amanda has been work desultorily on a novel over the years. The star of that community is Joshua Talbot, whose first novel, many years ago, rocked the literary establishment on its heels but--an old story--he has not produced much since. That debut novel was a lodestar in Amanda's childhood and now Talbot has shown an interest in her, befriended her. Then, when he is supposed to meet her for dinner, he doesn't show up. Hours turn into days and the fear grows that he is hurt somewhere in the mountains backing the town, or , worse, has been kidnapped. Sure enough, ransom notes show up on Amanda's doorstep. Her best ally is Romero Morelos of the Tourist Police, a very solid guy (and single and sort of hunky). Will Amanda and Romero be able to save Talbot? Gilbert is an experienced and capable writer and Amanda is a well-drawn and intriguing character. Readers will get a keen sense of the daily (and nightly) life in the Zona Romantica (a real area in Puerto Vallarta) and of the undercurrents of Mexican politics, especially the uneasy and unequal relationship between the local police and the arrogant federales. While not in Hammett's or Chandler's league, this enjoyable tale delivers the requisite red herrings while following the trail of the crime. But in the end, one of the herrings turns out not to be red at all. Who knew? Well, some readers will probably figure that out and even guess a key angle. The final plot twist has in face appeared more than once in real life.
An entertaining mystery with a vibrant setting.