I love reading books by Henery Press. But I had always thought that most of them belonged to the cozy mystery genre. Until recently, that is. Many books I pick up from their portfolio are turning out to be very versatile. The Rise of the Red Queen is the second book in the Red Solaris mystery series, but it can easily be read on its own.
The setting is a of a university town in Nevada. If you have read my reviews of Heather Wells books, you know how much I adore the school campus setting. Red Solaris is the interim Dean of the journalism department and she is trying to get the job permanently. She has a full work load and has to appease the search committee to hire her. There are warring professors who are at each others’ throats, literally. And then a student goes missing.
The book is almost like two books. I recently read a story, I think it was Candy Corn Murder, which was written like this. Jamie is a young girl who is kidnapped and hidden away. Every alternate chapter deals with her and what she is going through. Meanwhile, we see what is happening in the outer world, with the focus of course being on the search for Jamie.
I just read the parts dealing with the present and skipped the alternate chapters, mostly because I did not like reading about it. The part pertaining to Jamie is ‘psycho thriller’ category, and the part about Red is your regular investigative mystery with a woman sleuth. I also wanted to see if I missed anything in the story that way. And I did not. So I could read alternate chapters until the very end and I still felt like I was reading a book. Of course, I did peek in here and there in the ‘Jamie’ chapters toward the end.
By combining the ‘cozy’ factor and the thriller factor, almost every reader has something they will like. We find that Red herself has a disturbed past, something we will probably learn about gradually in subsequent books in the series. There is a romance angle with a cop. And there are friends like Sadie who have Red’s back.
Overall, The Rise of the Red Queen has many things going on and it will certainly not bore you. The story moves along at a good pace. This is one mystery thriller to enjoy in the winter as the days shorten and you are snuggled up on the couch.