Saturday, September 13, 2014

Wet Work-Les Roberts

Wet Work
Les Roberts
Gray & Company, Publishers; Sep 1 2014, $14.95
ISBN: 9781938441547

After leaving Youngstown, Ohio for the military, Dominick Candiotti learned to kill in Viet Nam as a Phoenix Force Wet Work assassin.  Decades later with no family living and calling himself Douglas, he works for the Brownstone Agency on a fee for kill of internal enemies of the country.  His handler Og has one rule: complete the kill but never repeat the same M.O.

His current hit is Father Joseph Benveniste of St. Catherine’s Catholic Church in Philadelphia.  Though he completes the assignment following his confessional, this assassination affects Douglas differently than his previous hits since going on commission five years ago.  He wonders if killing a priest reminds him too much of the murder of his brother Father Richard (see The Strange Death of Father Candy) and besides there is no justification for murdering people like Father Joseph who were no threat to America.  When Douglas informs Og he is retiring, his handler believes the one way a hired gun quits is in a coffin.  Thus several of his peers come after Douglas.

Giving Cleveland detective Milan Jacovich a breather, Les Roberts writes an action-packed thriller in Dominick Candiotti’s second appearance.  The hero reminds me of a composite of Charles Bronson’s The Mechanic and Sylvester Stallone’s Assassins.  Although not for anyone with a squeamish stomach as the amount of blood flow would turn Lake Erie into the Red Sea, readers will enjoy this tense suspense.

Harriet Klausner

Ensconced- M. E. May

M. E. May
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, Feb 16, 2014, $14.95
ISBN: 9781494461911

Teenage brothers Tommy and Bobby Sturgen went fishing on Eagle Creek Reservoir when the latter’s special fly became entangled.  Ignoring his older sibling’s admonitions, Bobby jumped into the water to free it because this was the last one his late grandfather gave him.  When Bobby failed to surface, Tommy jumped in and rescued him.  Both saw the fly entangled with a car.  They call the Sheriff’s Department who send Fire Department divers to the reservoir.  The submerged vehicle contains the remains of Wendy Matherson who vanished without a trace a decade ago.

Missing Persons’ Sergeant Benjamin Jacobs and Detective Tyrone Mayhew, whose wife just gave birth to their fourth child (and their first daughter), work the cold case.  This was Tyrone’s first investigation in which he and his partner looked at the husband Reid but found no evidence of foul play.  The three sons reacted differently to their mom’s disappearance.  The oldest mid-twenties Tanner attends Ohio State’s pharmacy graduate program; the middle child twentyish Ryan has an aerospace degree and is an Air Force officer; the youngest teenage Jared has emotional issues while failing at everything.  After talking with the four males and others, the detectives believe Jared may have suppressed memories of what happened.  However, someone wants the case to remain frozen so threaten to harm Ben and Tyrone’s loved ones.

The third Circle City police procedural (see Perfidy and Inconspicuous) is a terse suspense as the villain targets civilian family members to force the cops and others off the investigation.  Fast-paced from start to finish, the subgenre audience will enjoy Ensconced (superb ironic title) even though we identify the villain before the detectives do.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Mad Dog Justice-Mark Rubinstein

Mad Dog Justice
Mark Rubinstein
Thunder Lake Press, Sep 1 2014, $12.99
ISBN: 9780985626808

Surgeon Roddy “Mad Dog” Dolan and Accountant Danny Burns were best friends for over three decades ago going back to when they were in high school.  They partnered with an acquaintance from their salad days Kenny Egan investing in McLaughlin’s restaurant.  However, Kenny’s investment funds were borrowed from the mob; who had other plans for McLaughlin’s.  Ten months ago, Roddy and Danny killed Kenny and a demanding “investor” John Grange as well as their friendship before leaving the restaurant business (see Mad Dog House).

Ten months later, Danny’s wife Angie worries about her husband whose tension is stratospheric.  While she pleads with him to come home from work, someone shoots him.  At the hospital Yonkers PD Detective Harvey Morgan leads the investigation as fortunate Danny recovers at the hospital.  Not long afterward in the parking garage at Lawrence Hospital, Roddy heads to his car only to see someone shoot and kill anesthesiologist Walt McKay parked near him.  Morgan questions him; while Roddy, hiding the truth from everyone, concludes he must bring Mad Dog Justice to those stalking him, his friend and potentially their families 

The second action-packed Mad Dog urban thriller is a tense gritty entry with the consequences of what the two BFFs did continuing to haunt them; as Shakespeare said in Julius Caesar: "The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones."  Mark Rubenstein provides an insightful morality play with trust and betrayal as key recurring themes.  With a strong support cast and powerful opposites in personality leads, fans will enjoy Mad Dog Justice but should read the opening act first.

Harriet Klausner

Phantom Limb: A Daniel Rinaldi Mystery-Dennis Palumbo

Phantom Limb: A Daniel Rinaldi Mystery
Dennis Palumbo
Poisoned Pen, Sep 1 2014, $24.95
ISBN 9781464202568

In Pittsburgh, Lisa Harland, a former Playboy centerfold three decades ago and a failed starlet when she was still a Campbell, visits the office of Dr. Daniel Rinaldi.  Married to much older wheelchair-bound and affluent Charles, Lisa tells the psychologist she shortly plans to commit suicide.  Daniel desperately tries to persuade her not to kill herself.

Not long afterward Pittsburgh PD informs Daniel that someone kidnapped Lisa outside his office.  A consultant to PPD, Daniel may have important information on the victim’s state of mind just prior to her abduction, but is hesitant to say anything due to patient confidentiality.  Selected by the kidnapper to do the ransom drop, Daniel arrives at the Harland estate where he finds a dysfunctional untrustworthy extended family.  As he works with the gloomy Harland brood and PPD, Daniel also fears for another patient, a potentially suicidal veteran.

The fourth Daniel Rinaldi mystery (see Fever Dream and Mirror Image), is an enjoyable police procedural as once again the protagonist, as happened in Night Terrors, struggles between patient confidentiality and law enforcement needs with a life at stake.  Fast-paced throughout, readers will appreciate this terrific twisting thriller as seen through the observant eyes of Dr. Rinaldi.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Auditory Viewpoint- Lillian R. Melendez

Auditory Viewpoint
Lillian R. Melendez
Black Rose Writing, Jul 25 2013, $14.95
ISBN: 9781612962115

New Jersey radio talk show host Gloria Rank uses her four working senses at a very high degree of capacity to ignore her being blind since birth.  When someone steals her sister Anna’s identity, she turns to Gloria for help.  They report the theft to the cops and Gloria asks a former guest on her show, computer security analyst Benjamin Taylor, for assistance in what they should do, identifying who the thief is and how they obtained access into Anna’s bank account. 

When someone leaves a corpse at Anna’s door, FBI Agent Sanchez investigates with the younger Rank sister as a suspect.  Gloria mentors her sibling to rely on her other senses more than just sight to uncover the identity of the thieves even as their inquiry leads them to cross the Hudson at the same time more bodies engulf the sisters. 

This frightening thriller will stun readers with its caveat emptor insight into the electronic scams used to steal information and what the victim of such a crime must do to halt this intrusion and prevent future thefts.  Gloria is a wonderful protagonist who teaches Anna and readers how to not just rely mostly on sight, but to maximize all of your senses independently and in collaboration.  The sleuthing (by the sisters and Benjamin) and the serial killer segue add suspense; while how to maximize your environmental perceptions provides depth to the key cast.  Still it is the astonishing acumen into what to do when your identity is stolen that grips the audience and makes a person consider turning into an electronic hermit.

Harriet Klausner

The Edison Effect: A Professor Bradshaw Mystery-Bernadette Pajer

The Edison Effect: A Professor Bradshaw Mystery
Bernadette Pajer
Poisoned Pen, Sep 1 2014, $24.95
ISBN 9781464202520

In 1903 Seattle, renowned inventor Thomas Edison arrives at the University of Washington office of electrical engineering Professor Benjamin Bradshaw.  The Wizard of Menlo Park demands Bradshaw assist him in retrieving a dangerous gizmo from Elliot Bay.  Bradshaw respects Edison’s brilliance but distrusts him as avarice and ruthless; so he refuses to help him obtain the gadget invented by a former student of the professor, Oscar Daulton.

Meanwhile at the Bon Marché Department Store, an electrician dies while holding onto Edison’s Christmas lights.  Bradshaw, Henry Pratt and SPD Detective O’Brien investigate the death.  At the same time, a widower with a single child, Bradshaw struggles between his religion and his love for Missouri.

The fine fourth Professor Bradshaw early twentieth century historical (see A Spark Of Death, Fatal Induction and Capacity for Murder) is made fresh by the unflinching look at the complex Edison.  The wizard lives up to his mantra of “Success is 10 percent inspiration and 90 percent perspiration”; but a major part of the 90% includes mercilessness in his dealings with others.  Readers who accept that portrayal will enjoy the Edison Effect on Bradshaw and others.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, September 8, 2014

Death in the Dolomites: A Rick Montoya Italian Mystery-David P. Wagner

Death in the Dolomites: A Rick Montoya Italian Mystery
David P. Wagner
Poisoned Pen, Sep 1 2014, $24.95
ISBN 9781464202728

Translator Rick Montoya leaves Rome for a skiing vacation in Campiglio.  However, when American banker Cameron Taylor vanishes while also at the ski resort, Inspector Luca Albani, aware of Rick’s assistance to the Tuscany police (see Cold Tuscan Stone), asks for his help.  Rick agrees to join the inquiry as long as it does not interfere with his R&R.

Several witnesses insist they saw Cameron head to the slopes, but none including his sister recall seeing him return to the lodge.  Meanwhile, someone wanting Rick to stay out of the investigation, attacks him while he skis and a lookalike is stabbed.  This plus the discovery of a corpse leads to Rick taking the case more seriously as he wonders who gains from murder.

The second Rick Montoya Italian investigation is an engaging whodunit though the Alpine cuisine supersedes the case and even the skiing.  Even though the mystery is shortchanged for much of the storyline by Rick’s vacation, Death in the Dolomites remains a well-written tale.

Harriet Klausner