Saturday, July 26, 2014

Night Drop-Michael W. Sherer

Night Drop
Michael W. Sherer
Cutter Press, Sep 8 2014
ISBN 9780989274821

Two years ago, teenager Cole Sanders committed suicide.  Soon afterward, his grieving parents ended their marriage.  Whereas his mom Molly McHugh mourned her loss, she continued as a high powered lawyer at a big Seattle firm; while his dad Blake no longer could live in daylight so now delivers the Seattle Times at night and volunteers at a Suicide Prevention Center.

After returning home from a business trip in China, Molly calls Blake to admonish him for failing to water her plants as he promised.  However, shortly into the call Molly places Blake on hold to answer the door, but fails to return to the phone; someone abducts Molly.  Her law firm and the FBI believe the kidnappers’ motive is ransom; Blake disagrees believing some other unknown reason exists for the snatch.

At the same time Yousef leads a terrorist cell that forces former SEAL Macready the oceanographer to cooperate with their plot to use his dolphins to help move canisters filled with nuclear material or his captured woman will lose body parts.  Office of Naval Intelligence LTC Reyna Chase searches for Macready who vanished from the grid.  As Blake, Reyna, Macready, the Feds, the terrorists and their hostage converge, cities are at risk.

The third Blake Sanders thriller (see Night Tide and Night Blind) is an exhilarating drama that grips readers from the start even when the chessboard is being set and never slows down until the final confrontation.  Although for the most part the terrorists are Middle East stereotypes and Iron Mike is a legend at Fort Bragg, subgenre fans will root for ADD-eccentric Blake stepping out in daylight to try to save his former wife. 

Harriet Klausner

The Home Place-Carrie La Seur

The Home Place
Carrie La Seur
Morrow, Jul 29 2014, $25.95
ISBN: 9780062323446

On a freezing January night on the wrong side of the tracks in Billings, Montana, intoxicated Vicky walks the streets seeking to score pot from her ex Dennis.  An early riser finds her body three blocks from the Kozinsky house where she and her tweener daughter Brittany have lived paying the rent by the adult having sex with the owner. 

Vicky’s older sister Seattle lawyer Alma receives the call that her sibling died from exposure.  Having avoided for five years going home as she hates Billings the site of terrible memories, Alma plans to take care of business as fast as she can so she can return ASAP to Washington State.  Her biggest concern is for her eleven years old niece who needs a home, but she distrusts her volatile family even her big brother to take proper care of traumatized Brittany, mute since her mom died.  As remorseful Vicky learns more about her estrange sister’s death, she begins to wonder if the tragedy was not alcoholic induced but instead a homicide.

This is a perceptive Big Sky family drama in which readers obtain a profound look at what shaped the two sisters to go on such diverse paths after their parents died when they were young with Vicky's death serving as a conduit into a dysfunctional extended family.  Mindful of the frozen tundra in the movie Fargo, the stark Montana background enhances a strong saga with the only misstep being the “required” former boyfriend.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, July 25, 2014

Doghouse (A Gin & Tonic Mystery)- L.A. Kornetsky

Doghouse (A Gin & Tonic Mystery)
L.A. Kornetsky
Pocket Books, Jul 22 2014, $7.99
ISBN: 9781476750040

At Mary’s in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood, private concierge Ginny Mallard and recently promoted bar manager Teddy Tonica have become friends.  Her shar-pei Georgie and his cat Penny (though everyone except him knows he is her pet) are also buddies.  Recently the quartet pawed their way through two “cases” (see Fixed and Collared) that proved dangerous.

However, both are shocked when Mary’s cantankerous old cook Seth grumbles in true snark form as only he can that he wants to hire them; he always warned them to stay away from inquiries since they are unlicensed amateurs.  Seth explains his old boxing buddy Deke Hoban took too many punches so is slow but nice.  Deke’s landlord Cooper plans to evict him based on the punch drunk former pugilist allowing dogs inside the house he leases; thus voiding the rental contract condition of no pets.  Pleading his case Seth insists Deke would never sponsor dogfighting as Cooper implies he did and claims his friend needs to stay in this place as the rent is cheap and he knows his way around there.  Finally Seth wants Gin and Tonic to find proof that the landlord is full of sh*t.  Though they know Deke needs a lawyer rather than two amateurs like them, because of Seth they look into the claim with surreptitiousness help from Georgie and stealth direction from field officer Penny.

The third Gin & Tonic “researchtigations” is an appealing anthropomorphist amateur sleuth enhanced by life in a cheerful neighborhood bar.  The lead humans and their animal owners remain fresh leads while the case proves bloody in the ring and the bar.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Alone In The Classroom- Elizabeth Hay

Alone In The Classroom
Elizabeth Hay
Quercus, Aug 1 2014, $24.99
ISBN: 9781623651053

In 1937 Ontario, schoolgirl Ethel Wier picks berries.  Not long after she started, someone brutally murders her; leaving behind her battered body, two pails and berries.  The murder is identical to that of a killing almost a decade earlier in Saskatchewan.

In the present historian Anne Flood reads newspaper articles written by her aunt Connie the journalist.  In 1929, eighteen year old Connie Flood became a teacher in Saskatchewan.  Her principal Parley Burns takes a special interest in her as he seems to do with all the young females (staff and students) in the school.  Once a failed thespian and playwright, Parley loves the theater.  Not surprising, the principal directs Hardy’s classic Tess of the d'Urbervilles starring thirteen-year-old Susan Graves.  Like a Svengali to Susan’s Trilby (see Trilby by George du Maurier), he shapes the teen into what Parley believes is a star.  Meanwhile Connie recognizes that Susan’s older brother Michael is not a menacing retard, but instead an intelligent person who learns for some unknown reason differently than the norm.  As she works and encourages him, a tragedy forces a mass exit from the province.

In 1937 Ontario, Connie the reporter runs into Parley just after Ethel’s vicious homicide.  She realizes raging martinet Parley had opportunity in both cases, but lacks substantive evidence to accuse him.

This enthralling twentieth century murder epic is not an easy read with switching time periods and an absorbing point of view.  Character driven by a deep cast (to include the narrator), readers will believe we were transported to the Depression Era Canadian Plains as Elizabeth Hay provides a compelling literary mystery.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Jaspar’s War-Cym Lowell

Jaspar’s War
Cym Lowell
Rosemary Beach Press LLC, Mar 1 2014, $12.99
ISBN: 9780991491308

Trevor Moran was the star quarterback when Notre Dame won the national championship game.  He became a success at Wall St. and with his beloved wife Jaspar raises two tweeners (Theo and Chrissy) in Greenwich, Connecticut.  When the economy collapsed, the President appointed Trevor as the Treasury Secretary to begin saving the country and the world from the worst downturn since the Great Depression. 

While Trevor is in Europe trying to persuade reluctant leaders to spend money on stimulus packages, Jaspar watches her kids playing baseball.  After the game, Jaspar turns frantic when she cannot find her children in spite of tight security.  At the same FBI Agent McGuire informs Jaspar that Trevor’s flight home from London crashed in the ocean near Iceland.  A text message from Trevor arrives informing her that her spouse is shark food and her kids will join him as ocean waste if she does not shut up re the stimulus package.  Not one to back down and willing to do anything and ally with the worst dregs of society, Jaspar begins a quest to rescue her children from those who plot to destroy the United States. 

Over the top of the Burj Khalifa, Jaspar’s War is an action-packed pulp fiction thriller that grips the audience from the moment the Mama Grizzly hunts for those who abducted her cubs and assassinated her mate.  Action-packed, readers will root for the heroine to kick ass as Cym Lowell provides readers with an entertaining tale.  Note that 100% of the proceeds from this saga go to Operation: Next Chapter to help wounded warriors stay connected through the Soldiers’ Angels Project: Valour-IT.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Atonement of Blood-Peter Tremayner

Atonement of Blood
Peter Tremayne
Minotaur Books, Jul 22 2014, $26.99
ISBN: 9781250046000

In 670 AD at Cashel, to honor the blessed Colmán mac Lénine, Muman King Colgú hosts a gala.  Among those attending are his sister dalaigh law courts advocate Fidelma and her husband Brother Eadulf.  The couple plan to spend quality time with their son Alchú who resides at his uncle’s castle while his parents traveled to conduct investigations.

During the feast, a religieux guest Brother Lennan of Mungairit Abbey fervently screams “Remember Liamuin” as he stabs the monarch in the chest before killing brave Brehan Aedo who jumped between the assassin and the ruler.  Commander of the King’s Bodyguard Caol kills the murderer.  As gravely injured Colgú fights for his life, Fidelma investigates the attempted regicide and homicide.  Her only useful clues from the deadly gala are the fanatic’s final reiterated diatribe and the abbey located inside of rebellious Ui Fidgente; where many oppose the merging of the Five Kingdoms under Colgú

The 24th Mystery of Ancient Ireland Sister Fidelma mystery (see The Seventh Trumpet and Behold a Pale Horse) is a fascinating whodunit as the sleuthing couple risks their lives to follow the clues into hostile territory.  Fidelma is at her best interviewing, watching and drawing conclusions that a seditious conspiracy threatens the Five-Kingdom alliance; while also praying for her sibling. 

Harriet Klausner

Monday, July 21, 2014

Remains of Innocence-J. A. Jance

Remains of Innocence
J. A. Jance
Morrow, Aug 12 2014, $26.99
ISBN: 9780062134707

A decade ago in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, Liza Machett graduated high school and left home to escape the abuse of her insane mother.  Now her mother is dying so Liza reluctantly ends their estrangement.  Her mother asks Liza to bring her a cookbook from the house.  Inside Liza disgustingly sees her childhood home even more cluttered and filthier than when she grew up, which says a lot.  She also finds 1,470 $100 bills stashed inside of cookbooks.  As she wonders how her mom accumulated $147,000, Liza plans to use the windfall to clean up the house in order to put it on the market; unaware of the deadly danger to her and others unfortunately in her sphere that her endeavor will trigger.  When she finally realizes the peril, Liza disguised as a cancer and abuse victim sneaks off to Arizona to locate and discuss the situation with her older half-brother, Cochise County M.E. Dr. Guy Machett who left home for Harvard when she was a young teen and never returned.

Cochise County Sheriff Joanna Brady and her team search for a missing developmentally disabled sexagenarian.  They find Junior Dowdle’s corpse among a “graveyard” of mutilated animals in a cave.  Meanwhile Liza’s current and past Massachusetts troubles follow her to Arizona.

The latest super Sheriff Brady police procedural (see Judgment Call, and Fire And Ice) is a tremendous entry as the cop works two complex cases that have no obvious ties.  The fast-paced Remains of Innocence is a fascinating mystery that grips the audience from the moment Liza enters her childhood home and never slows down as homicide investigations in two states diagonally across the country keep the audience spellbound.

Harriet Klausner