Customer Reviews for

Stranger Lies There

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 13, 2007

    Excellent Debut Novel by an Outstanding New Author

    Debut author Stephen Santogrossi won the St. Martin¿s Press ¿Malice Domestic¿ competition with his murder mystery A STRANGER LIES THERE, and with good reason. The book pulls the reader in at the very beginning, when Tim Ryder finds a corpse on his front lawn. The story is told from Ryder¿s viewpoint, and as the discovery of the body turns into a murder investigation, ex-con Ryder starts to wrestle with a past he thought he had left behind. Ryder uses a powerful narrative style, alternating between insightful analysis and artful description of the surroundings ('My house was dwarfed by the San Jacintos rising behind it - if it were an animal it would have been trembling, ready to bolt.'). Informed by the police that his former partner in crime has just been released from prison, Tim has to wonder if the body on his lawn is a warning of worse things to come. His wife, Deirdre, tries to help him unravel the mystery, but her work as a drug counselor raises the question that the dead body might be a message for her instead of Tim. Author Santogrossi has a wide range of talents, as demonstrated by realistic cop dialogue, detailed crime scene descriptions, and extensive psychological analysis that would seem out of place except for Tim and Deidre¿s backgrounds. Santogrossi paints a vivid picture of the Palm Springs area where much of the action takes place, but he is not afraid to shift the scene to New York City, and then to the dying Salton Sea back in California. Dying may not be the right word here, though. The best part of the book takes place in the Salton Sea¿s desert area, and Santogrossi brings the whole place to life. His depiction of a colony of outcasts who subsist on scavenged munitions from a nearby bombing range is reminiscent of William Gibson¿s best post-apocalyptic worlds, and Ryder¿s passage through this arid region strips him down to his very essence. Ryder shows great intelligence and determination in his quest to identify the body on his lawn, even when it gets him hoisted on a chain in a New York City warehouse for an unfriendly discussion with shadowy people who would like to see him drop the whole thing. His investigation, though the work of an amateur, is logical and persistent, as he just won¿t give up on the question: Who was the stranger lying there?

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 8, 2007

    Can't wait to read more from this author

    This exciting 'Mystery Novel' kept my attention from beginning to end. I am not a fan of the genre and my book collection consists mostly of science fiction, horror and fantasy books. However I am adding this one to my favorite list. The story is exciting, different and realistic. I was able to put myself into the position of the book's 'hero' and journey along trying to figure it all out. Also, having lived in Northern and Southern California I know some of the locations or at least the type thereof described in this book. Some character names and places reminded me of major political figures and scandals of the last decade. I think the similarity is no coincidence and inspired the story. It describes a man haunted by his past, who finds an unknown dead body on the front lawn of his suburban house. Fearing his troubled history is again catching up with him, he takes matters in his own hands with fateful consequences.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    A tense thriller

    In Palm Springs, California, carpenter Tim Ryder steps outside onto his porch to drink his first cup of coffee. However, he does not need caffeine to wake him up as he sees the body of a young man lying on his lawn. Tim asks his wife Deirdre if she recognizes the corpse, but like him she does not.---------------------- Tim ponders if his past has caught up to him. Three decades ago back in 1972, Tim went to jail for his role in a bank robbery that he and his college age pals thought was part of a Viet Nam protest. The leader of the heist, the much older Turret, spent the most time behind bars as the others gave testimony to reduce their incarceration. Tim learns Turret is free and believes he has begun a terrorist campaign of revenge although he has not been able to figure out how the lad fits into the war as he has no idea who the victim is. Still the carpenter vows to prevent Turret from harming him, Deidre or others as Tim has picked up the gauntlet, but not before death number two occurs.------------------- The winner of the St. Martin's Press/Malice Domestic contest for Best First Traditional Mystery Novel, A STRANGER LIES THERE is an exhilarating amateur sleuth cat and mouse tale. The story line is fast-paced and the characters fully developed especially the reluctant hero and to a degree Deidre whose past also haunts her. Although Stephen Santogrossiv at times passively pontificates the flow instead of allowing the action to move the plot forward, readers will appreciate this tense thriller with a terrific finish.------------- Harriet Klausner

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 16, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted February 27, 2009

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