Hoag is usually good for an enjoyable, creepy suspense story and this is no different. Even though there are a lot of main players they never seem short-shrifted or cardboard. Someone is killing young women in California. The local police are a little over their heads when the women are turning up with their mouths and eyes superglued shut and their ear drums ruptured in a see/hear/speak no evil riff. It’s 1985 and both criminal profiling and DNA forensics are just getting off the ground.
Sheriff Dixon allows his detective, Mendez to ask for help from Mendez’s friend in the FBI, Vince Leone. Vince, however unknown to everyone, is recovering from a .22 bullet lodged in his brain after a mugging but he flies out to help them. The second body is uncovered by four school children, Wendy and Tommy, friends who are running from Dennis Farman and his hapless sidekick, Cody. Tommy literally trips and lands on the woman who has been buried with her head exposed. Wendy, while horrified, sees herself turning this into a mystery and a movie. Tommy withdraws into himself. Dennis wants to touch the body. Cody runs away and hides.
Anne Navarre, their teacher, gets involved mostly as an advocate for the kids and is one of the main pov characters. It starts out with both Mendez and Vince being drawn to her as they investigate. All the women seem to be from a local battered woman’s shelter that helps the women get back on their feet. The suspect pool is a little small, sucking out a bit of the suspense but not enough to be disappointing. The three main suspects are Wendy’s Dad, a lawyer for the shelter, Tommy’s Dad, a dentist who donates his time to the shelter and Dennis’s father, a wife beating straight as an arrow cop who gets off on dominating women and harassing the women at the shelter.
All in all, it’s a good mystery, creepy without being too salacious. I particularly liked Mendez, Anne and Tommy. The one truly disappointing thing was the romantic subplot. I wasn’t sure it was at all needed and for me, Anne ended up with the wrong detective. I thought maybe it was some of my RL issues that was creeping me out about her sleeping with a man 20 years her senior the day after she meets him but the person who recced this to me had the same reaction. We both thought the romance felt very forced but other than that I’d recommended this one.
Fullmetal Alchemist #21 by Hiromu Arakawa
This volume is up to the high quality I’ve come to expect from this series. It’s truly one of the more amazing manga I have ever read. I remember how close to the end this felt when it came out online (especially with the persistent but erroneous rumor that ch. 88 was going to be the end). Many alliances are formed in this (one of the few nonspoilery things I can say). It’s a treat watching Roy flirt with Olivia as cover for coded talk. Bradley comes under attack. Ed learns the truth about his dad. Hohenheim starts really coming into his own as a complex character. Hostages are taken. Plenty of homunculus action. What more can I say without ruining? I figure by now either you’re truly hooked and reading as quickly as I am and if you’re not, you won’t be starting with this volume but definitely, if you like manga give this a try.
Fairy Tail #7 by Hiro Mashima
This is one of those guilty pleasure fan service things that I’m not entirely sure why I read other than I like some of the characters but not really the one I’m supposed to like, such as the lead, Lucy (who spends all of her time doubting herself or getting kidnapped.) Sure enough Lucy gets kidnapped. It turns out all the attacks against the Fairy Tail guild were because Lucy’s very wealthy father wants her back.
Even after she does get free, the attacks continue and all of Fairy Tail sets out to keep her from being returned home where she doesn’t want to go. We finally get to see other Fairy Tail members other than Gray, Natsu and Erza do some magic. Apparently all the other women besides Lucy are strong fighters so that should make some people happy and the fan service gives us lots of bare chested men and women with impossibly large breasts so it evens out a bit. It’s mindless fluff mostly but I enjoy it. Unfortunately for Lucy by the end, she has earned herself another jealous foe who mistakenly thinks Gray is Lucy’s boyfriend. By this late date of a volume, you’ll have already made your decision if you like reading this. It won’t be for everyone but if you like a little action, humor, magic and fan service you’ll probably be happy with it.