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Christine Rappleye
"The Gem Thief" is by Sian Ann Bessey. "Short Investigations" is by Clair M. Poulson. "Breaking News" is by G.G. Vandagriff.

From Heber in Wasatch County to Italy and Greece, this trio of mysteries and suspense novels — with a splash of romance — are by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

"THE GEM THIEF," by Sian Ann Bessey, Covenant Communications, $16.99, 267 pages (f)

Gracie Miller always knew she wanted to be a jewelry designer in New York. But less than a year after this young woman from small-town Washington lands her dream job, her newfound normal takes a dive. To discover who stole a wealthy widow’s jewels, Gracie is asked to fake an engagement. Despite her inhibitions and zero training in hunting down criminals, Gracie accepts the offer to help a new friend, in “The Gem Thief.”

Provided by Covenant Communications
"The Gem Thief" is by Sian Ann Bessey.

The work is easy at first; Gracie gets an all-expenses-paid trip to Italy and a Greek cruise in exchange for spending time with a successful businessman and his aunt. But the platonic arrangement heats up the more Gracie gets to know Quinn West, her fake fiancé.

Romance must wait, however, as the two struggle to understand who is behind the thefts of Dorcas Katsaros’ jewels and why such a kind woman would be targeted. As Gracie and Quinn follow clues leading from New York to Venice to Greece, they become baffled as to who the true perpetrator is and more enmeshed in their feelings for each other.

Author Sian Ann Bessey does a great job keeping up the novel’s pace and giving readers wonderful characters to live vicariously through. While Gracie, Quinn and Dorcas have their share of past griefs, Bessey doesn’t dwell on them. Rather, readers are able to focus on the positive present.

Reading about Gracie’s awe over Italy and Greece, as well as getting a glimpse into the fascinating world of high-priced gems, adds an extra dimension to this romance mystery.

“The Gem Thief” is a clean book; violence is negligible, there are zero profanities and romance is limited to a few kisses.

Bessey, a native of England, now lives in Rexburg, Idaho. A graduate of Brigham Young University and a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, she speaks Welsh and enjoys spending time with her grandchildren.

— Elizabeth Reid

"SHORT INVESTIGATIONS," by Clair M. Poulson, Covenant Communications, $16.99, 250 pages (f)

The small burg of Heber is usually a tranquil place to live in Clair M. Poulson's recent mystery "Short Investigations."

However, one night, an anonymous 911 call is placed to alert the police of a very rare crime for Heber — a homicide. The body of a slain woman is found in the barn at Diamond Bar Ranch. The owner, Rhett Ketchum, who’s a prominent area rodeo cowboy, is placed by authorities at the very top of the suspect list. Convincing the cops of his innocence is easier said than done.

Provided by Covenant Communications
"Short Investigations" is by Clair M. Poulson

Wanting to avoid a bum rap, Ketchum takes charge and begins a search for the truth himself. In doing so, Ketchum retains the professional services of Max and Patches Fisher, a father-daughter team who helm local private investigator firm Short Investigations. As the investigation proceeds, the list of suspects grows considerably.

In the process, Patches and Ketchum form an attraction to each other. The stakes get much higher as further violence occurs. With the situation continuing to deteriorate, Max and Patches race to find the real killer before the proverbial clock runs out.

A Duchesne resident and member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Poulson used to work in law enforcement and has written 34 books thus far.

Like some of Poulson’s previous books, he always manages to write in a clear and consistent manner. “Short Investigations” is no different. Poulson’s stories also tend to be on the rather predictable side, but in the process still manage to be entertaining enough. “Short Investigations” is a worthwhile effort by Poulson and a fun, quick read.

The book contains some generally described violent imagery. The relationships don't go beyong flirting, and there is no swearing.

— Ryan Curtis

"BREAKING NEWS," by G.G. Vandagriff, OW Press, $7.99, 209 pages (f)

When her father is murdered, Paula James doesn’t take time to mourn his passing. Instead, she takes off into the night. With both law enforcement and a drug cartel looking for her, Paula escapes from rural Missouri to Chicago in “Breaking News,” the first in a new suspense series.

book cover image
"Breaking News" is by G.G. Vandagriff.

Paula decides to trust David van Pelt, a friend from her grad school days and now a successful investigative reporter. When he sees the evidence she’s collected, he joins in the multi-state quest to hunt down a successful crime syndicate. But things get dicey as more murders are committed and the two continually wonder who they can trust and who’s been tainted by drug money.

Comment on this story

Author G.G. Vandagriff’s wonderful plot has romance, lost memories, environmentalists, meth addicts and a lot of suspense. But this book also documents a surprising amount of time in canine-upkeep details. While the dog focus is out of place and this book could have gone through more editing, it’s still easy to become swept up in this fun thriller.

“Breaking News” is a clean mystery with no profanities and a few chaste kisses. The violence is dealt with in a minimum manner and it’s the suspense of what could happen, rather than what actually does, that carries this book along.

A member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Vandagriff has a master's degree in international relations and resides in Utah with her husband. The author of more than 25 books, she’s written many regency romances.

— Elizabeth Reid