Nubian Circle Book Club

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Hot Stones / Cold Death Book Review

Phyllis Rhodes

A Gem of a Mystery!

Barbara Fleming's Hot Stones, Cold Death is a murder mystery featuring veteran Washington, DC Detective Matthew Alexander and his sidekick, Jake Jackson. The mystery opens with two black men found dead dressed in African warrior regalia in the Smithsonian Museum. Their bodies are curiously arranged in an African village diorama complete with spears, shields, and a priceless emerald necklace. At first glance, it looks like a theft gone wrong, but something lies beneath the surface that does not sit well with Matt and Jake. The detectives are faced with few clues, airtight alibis, and a hostile environment in which the highly connected museum staff wants the case closed as soon as possible. They follow leads that take them all over DC; from posh Georgetown to the crackhouses of Florida Avenue. A lucky break, another body, and follow through on a haunting suspicion allow the detectives to apprehend the culprits and resolve the mystery.

There are many characters in this story and the author provides a great service to the reader by providing a list of primary characters and their roles at the beginning of the novel. Even with the helpful guide, the author's handling of dialogue between characters is somewhat awkward and cumbersome at times, especially when familiar characters referred to each other by first and last names. Despite the issues with dialogue, this reviewer found the plot to be original and very well paced. The author introduces twists and turns at appropriate intervals to keep the reader interested until the end. This is a light, easy read; appropriate for a summer afternoon.

The Nubian Circle Book Club rating for Hot Stones/Cold Death is 3 out of 5 stars. We welcome your comments and thoughts about this book review. Please e-mail us: