Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Frenzy-John Lutz

John Lutz
Pinnacle, Sep 30 2014, $9.99
ISBN: 9780786028306

In Creighton, Maine, former cop turned Q&A Investigative Agency chief Frank Quinn and law enforcement with their dogs in pursuit feel they have the D.O.A. serial killer trapped.  As he flees, D.O.A. shoots Quinn in the back near Creighton Lake before taking off in his nearby plane.  However, his escape ends abruptly when the plane explodes killing the psychopath.

Two years later in a New York hotel, the NYPD Commissioner Renz hires Q&A to investigate the mass murders of five teenage students and their twenty something art teacher in the Fairchild Hotel.  Each of the six victims had the initials D.O.A. carved into their head.  Quinn realizes that the victims, on a field trip from Ohio, had the misfortunate to meet still alive D.O.A.  With the gauntlet tossed, Quinn and D.O.A. make the rematch personal.

The latest Frank Quinn and Associates (though the A plays a smaller role than usual) investigative tale (see Twist) is an action-packed over the top of the Empire State Building big cat and big cat thriller.  Although the switching between the present in NYC, two years ago in Maine, 1992 Sarasota and 1940 Dunkirk initially is confusing, readers will anticipate the stratospheric testosterone confrontation.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Agatha Christie The Monogram Murders-Sophie Hannah

Agatha Christie The Monogram Murders
Sophie Hannah
Morrow, Sep 9 2014, $25.99
ISBN: 9780062297211

In 1929 London, Belgium refugee Hercule Poirot enjoys a late supper as the only patron at the Pleasant’s Coffee House.  A distraught woman enters the restaurant allowing wintry air inside.  Employee “Flyaway Hair” knows this troubled female Jennie who orders tea.  Introducing himself as a detective, Poirot offers to help her; but Jennie insists it is too late as she is dead and no one should look for the culprit before she makes a rushed exit.

Scotland Yard Inspector Edward Catchpool investigates the murders of three people at the Bloxham Hotel.  Two women and a man died from poisoning and inside their respective mouths is a monogrammed gold cuff link.  Due to Jennie’s lament not to open their mouths, Poirot believes the mass murders and the disturbed female who ruined his mellow dinner are part of the same case.

The enjoyable Monogram Murders is a pleasant Poirot mystery in which for the most part Sophie Hannah captures the essence of Agatha Christie’s classic sleuth and the era he did his mojo.  Readers will like the Depression Era English whodunit though purists will miss Hastings since Catchpool replaces him as the narrator; personally I do not like either of these Dr. Watson wannabees.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Going Gone-Sharon Sala

Going Gone
Sharon Sala
Harlequin MIRA, Sep 30 2014, $7.99
ISBN: 9780778316596

In Mexico though still hurting from his confrontations, the retired Stormchaser feels euphoric after he slaughtered the FBI agents pursuing him.  However, his elation turns to rage when he learns his enemies not only survived but are with women he unsuccessfully tried to kill.  This time he targets someone he worked with at disaster relief, Red Cross volunteer Laura Doyle, who survived a plane crash in the Rockies when her fiancĂ© FBI Agent Cameron Winger led a rescue.

The Stormchaser begins a killing spree to get him closer to his intended victim, but uses a different M.O. to conceal he’s back.  However, his setbacks, desperation and injuries lead to mistakes he never made before as the Stormchaser increasingly loses control.

The final Forces Of Nature romantic suspense (see Going Twice) is an exciting thriller as the audience anticipates the confrontation, but not a surprising third party hero.  What makes Going Gone a winner is the mental deterioration of the villain from his Going Once diabolical brilliance.  Sharon Sala provides a taut finish to this engaging trilogy.

Harriet Klausner

Strong Darkness: A Caitlin Strong Novel-Jon Land

Strong Darkness: A Caitlin Strong Novel
Jon Land
Forge, Sep 30 2014, $26.95
ISBN 9780765335111

After confronting religious fanatics with a bulldozer at a funeral for a fallen warrior, Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong and her boyfriend Cort Wesley Masters are in Providence where his son Dylan Torres lies in a hospital in an induced coma due after suffering a blunt force trauma.  PPD Detective Finneran leads the inquiry, but objects to Caitlin’s involvement having dealt with her previous visit to Brown University (see Strong Rain Falling).  At about the same time, San Antonio College Professor Guillermo Paz envisions Strong needs him.  As Masters and Strong investigate the assault, they find a link to Chinese businessman Li Zhen managing the construction of a new 5G network in Texas and missing hooker Kai whose clues to her whereabouts are corpses.  Strong heads home where Paz joins her to look into Li’s empire and Masters goes to New York following a lead re his son’s attack.

In 1883, Caitlin’s great-grandfather Texas Ranger William Ray Strong and Judge Roy Bean find evidence of a different type of killer than any either has seen before.  They follow the murdered bodies alongside of the railroad tracks in an effort to end a serial killer’s relentless slaughter.  Ironically William’s case and that of his great-granddaughter mirror each other; as the twenty-first century psychopath’s M.O. apparently copies that of the nineteenth century maniac.

The sixth Caitlin Strong Texas Ranger thriller (see Strong Vengeance and Strong at the Break) is a fantastic police procedural that grips the reader whether it is 1883 or the present.  The key to this exhilarating entry is Jon Land’s ability to effortlessly switch between the three subplots; which makes for a fabulous fast-paced mystery.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

French Pastry Murder-Leslie Meier

French Pastry Murder
Leslie Meier
Kensington, Sep 30 2014, $25.00
ISBN 9780758277046

TV hostess of Women Who Make a Difference, Norah Hemming provides a trip to Paris to four deserving Tinker’s Cove, Maine women (and their husbands) due to their raising money and awareness for two decades for the Hat and Mitten Fund charity.  One of the quartet Pennysaver columnist Lucy Stone also looks forward to seeing her daughter Elizabeth who works at the Cavendish Hotel in Paris. 

The eight visiting Americans enjoy the City of Lights as they tour the attractions, and Lucy and her husband are thrilled in seeing their oldest though the two females argue somewhat.  Lucy and her three friends (Sue, Rachel, and Pam) obtain lessons at Le Cooking School from renowned pastry chef Larry Bruneau.  However, at the school, Lucy finds Chef Larry dying from a knife stabbing in his chest.  Police Commissaire LaPointe leads the official inquiry starting with taking the passports from Lucy and her companions as they are suspects. 

The latest Lucy Stone mystery (see Christmas Carol Murder and Easter Bunny Murder) is an enjoyable Parisian whodunit as the Americans in Paris theme is fun to follow.  Although the mystery is over the top of the Eifel Tower, series fans will relish this bon appĂ©tit entry.

Harriet Klausner

Murder at Marble House: A Gilded Newport Mystery-Alyssa Maxwell

Murder at Marble House: A Gilded Newport Mystery
Alyssa Maxwell
Kensington, Sep 30 2014, $15.00
ISBN 9780758290847

In 1895 Newport, Rhode Island, eighteen year old Consuelo Vanderbilt refuses to marry the Duke of Marlborough, the chosen one selected by her mother, Alva.  When Consuelo’s poor cousin Emma Cross arrives, Alva warns her to persuade the recalcitrant teen or else. 

Not long afterward, Madam Devereaux the psychic is found murdered in the Marble House gardens and Consuelo is missing.  Knowing her niece recently solved the Murder At The Breakers, Alva orders Emma to discreetly find Consuelo before the Duke, coming from England to New York before he arrives in Newport.  Limited by what she can do without bringing attention to the Vanderbilt family, Emma worries about her cousin’s safety as more homicides occur and clues take her to the underbelly of the affluent city.

The second Gilded Newport Mystery is an entertaining historical amateur sleuth that deftly combines a deep look at the rich and famous with a whodunit.  Emma is terrific as she deals with her demanding aunt while her inquiry focuses on finding her cousin, but doing so without anyone learning Consuelo vanished.  At the same time a killer is on the loose but seemingly not part of Emma’s increasingly desperate search. 

Harriet Klausner

The Perfect Witness-Iris Johansen

The Perfect Witness
Iris Johansen
St. Martin's Press, Sep 30 2014, $27.99
ISBN: 9781250020055

Her father recognized the advantage of his daughter having the ability to know people’s deepest secrets and used his offspring to help him become the head of the New Jersey Mafia.  At her murdered father’s funeral, Teresa Casali saw in the eyes of the new Don Rico Camano that he wants her dead.  Henchmen who attended her Sweet Sixteen last month pursue her and shoot her in the arm as she flees into a forest expecting to die before the night ends.  A stranger appears out of nowhere and persuades the frightened teen to trust him.  Aware of Teresa’s paranormal talent, Andre Mandak takes a hesitant Teresa to safety and provides her with a new identity as Allie Girard and the normalcy of a caring family.

Seven years later, Allie still wonders when her savior collects whatever he wants from her; as everyone one has a scheme.  When her past exposes her, Allie is on the run to protect her loved ones from killers.  However, she also plans to use her skill to take the fight to her enemies with Mandak’s help; even as he informs her just what he needs from her.

The Perfect Witness is Iris Johansen at her action-packed best as this dark thriller grips readers from the start to the finish.  The key players all have hidden agendas, but the heroine keeps the taut storyline focused as she matures from a stunned frightened teen on the run into a still frightened on the run fighting machine with a plan to fight back. 

Harriet Klausner