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Thursday, December 24, 2009

Review: The Oxygen Murder by Camille Minichino

Well it is December 24th and I am posting a review of a mystery book that occurs during the New York City.  Think of the city decked out from skyscraper to brown stone with lights and bows.  Ice skating at Rockefellar Center, the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), horse drawn carriage rides around Central Park and all the bustle, sights and smells of New York.  This book brought all these sights, sounds, smells and visions vividly to life and I share them here with you.  Happy Holidays my friends! 

Author: Camille Minichino

Copyright: 2006 (Minotaur Books); 256 pgs.

Series: #8 in Periodic Tables mysteries

Sensuality: N/A

Mystery sub-genre: Amateur Sleuth

Main Character: Gloria Lamerino, retired physicist: a middle-aged plus size Italian brainiac scientist

Setting: Christmas vacation in New York City

Part of a Challenge: Fall/Winter Mystery Reading Challenge

Obtained book through: Library

Gloria is newly married to equally Italian Matt Gennaro, Revere Massachusetts’ homicide detective. Matt has a law enforcement conference in the Big Apple so Gloria and best friends Rose and Frank make a holiday vacation out of it. While in town they have dinner with Matt’s niece, Lori, a documentary filmmaker. The next morning Gloria is tasked with returning Lori’s prescription sunglasses and finds a dead body in Lori’s apartment. The dead girl was Amber, Lori’s camerawoman on the current Corporate Environmental violators’ documentary who also worked for a Private Investigator photographing naughty deeds. It doesn’t take long before Amber’s penchant for blackmailing people reveals multitudes of suspects.

Back home in Revere, Gloria is often a “consultant” with the local police but the NYPD probably won’t be so hospitable to her sleuthing. So Gloria has to get her information via Matt using buddies in the NYPD and filtering her findings back through Matt. Lori is most likely in danger and the tension is maintained believably.  The viewpoint is mainly through Gloria's eyes but we get several sections told through Lori's eyes with her fears and guilt bubbling over.

I absolutely loved Gloria, a middle aged intelligent independent woman who is more comfortable with science magazines than fashion rags and wears a bit larger than size 6 with all the incredible Italian food she eats. The plot is nicely developed and played out, New York during the holidays is wonderfully brought to life (I must do NY at the holidays sooner than later!!! Next Year?) The characters are painstakingly and lovingly breathed to life.

I longed for a sign of life, some sound other than the creaking machinery of the old cage. Where were the alleged eight million citizens of the nation’s largest city? Not to mention the hundred thousand or so tourists supposedly passing through JFK every day….The old elevator took forever, fitting and starting its way up, past two other red metal doors, each with its own blend of scuff marks. I saw graffiti-lettered FAGETTABOUDIT twice and wondered what daredevil wrote it, swinging around, hovering over an open shaft. Here and there bleached-out streaks hinted at unmentionable stains. At the fourth floor, the cage jerked to a stop landing me across a narrow hallway from the threshold to Lori’s apartment, the large metal door of which stood open.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Matt and I walked arm in arm up Sixth Avenue toward Fiftieth, where we were to meet Rose for ice-skating (her) and spectating (us). We’d already seen the Rockefeller Center tree, illumined by Rose’s detailed knowledge of it. She knew exactly how many lights (thirty thousand) adorned the spruce, and how big the tree was (seventy-one feet tall, weighing nine tons.) And just as she was the historian of Revere, she’d recounted for us the tree’s lineage, grown this year by a family in Suffern, New York. How she did all this research without the Internet, I couldn’t fathom.
The clues are there and though I suspected who was the murderer I had missed the clue. Well done! The ending was well thought out and satisfying. In short, I have to collect all of the books in the Periodic Mystery series. Sadly there were only eight in the series and Ms. Minichino is now busy writing the miniature mysteries.  Don't you hate finding something you just love to find out it is no longer being made?

For your convenience, you may purchase a copy here.

Until next Monday (and another author interview), I wish you many mysterious moments!  Stay warm, safe and healthy out there my friends - and please don't drink and drive during this holiday season.
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Camille Minichino said...

Thanks so much for the thoughtful review! I'm glad my love of NYC came through.

I'm trying to keep the series alive through short stories ... the first one is available at

I hope your holiday season is the best!

Camille Minichino

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