Friday, February 29, 2008

The Hunted-Rachel Lee

The Hunted
Rachel Lee
Mira, Apr 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 9780778325383

The Houston Examiner fired investigative reporter Erin McKenna because the Mercator Media Group bought the newspaper placing her in the obvious crosshairs as she testifies in federal court against the parent company Mercator Industries. Although expecting this outcome but still depressed, she goes home only to interrupt a break-in to her apartment. When Erin awakens, she finds FBI agent Jerrod Westlake insuring she is okay. She wonders why a Fed arrived so soon for a burglary that she did not have time to call 911. Erin finds her computer, DVDs and CDs stolen; nothing else taken.

Both assume that her testimony against Mercator Industries is the prime reason for the theft. To keep her safe, Jerrod spends the night with Erin at a hotel where they discuss another case he is working involving a missing teenage girl that he believes is a victim of the international sex-slave trade business, which the Fed feels links to the Mercator investigation. They team up to end the abomination knowing the enemy will kill them to keep their lucrative business profitable.

From the moment readers learn about Jerrod’s obsession to find his probably dead sister snatched from a school bus twenty-two years when Elena was ten, fans will be hooked by this powerful romantic suspense thriller with the emphasis on the intrigue. The romance is used to enhance the thriller as the courageous lead pair are THE HUNTED by deadly antagonists whose business interests include brutally selling young girls. Rachel Lee pulls no punches as some of the appalling conditions kidnapped females placed in the sex trade industry face are graphic (rightfully so). As the afterward points out that “Girls as young as five are bought and sold” on a real international flesh peddling commodity exchange that comes horrifically alive in this exciting gritty FBI thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Grand Scheme-Kathy Herman

The Grand Scheme
Kathy Herman
Multnomah, Apr 2008, $13.99
ISBN: 9781590529232

After all the trials and tribulations caused by drug and alcohol abuse and their legal problems, Rue and Ivy Kessler go on a magnificent well deserved honeymoon as each has straightened out their life. They come home to Jacob’s Ear, Colorado to the love of their family and to raise their eight years old son Montana together.

However, not all their woes have past. Someone is stalking the newlyweds. That unknown individual slowly begins a campaign to frighten the Kesslers. The assaults increasingly turn violent including the murder of a crew member working construction under Rue’s supervision. Rue and Ivy are scared but determined to uncover the identity of their enemy and learn why before someone else is killed.

The third and final Phantom Hollow tale (see EVER PRESENT DANGER and NEVER LOOK BACK) is an exciting entry as the issue of redemption and forgiveness makes for a powerful inspirational character study. However, to fully grasp how far Ivy and Rue have come, I recommend reading the previous books. Still this is a deep tale that focuses how long does one pay for one’s transgressions or is it impossible even with good deeds and paying society’s price to ever overcome the past. Fans of the mini series will enjoy this exciting finish as Rue and Ivy would like to look forward but someone is a present danger motivated by looking back.

Harriet Klausner

Healing Promises-Amy Wallace

Healing Promises
Amy Wallace
Multnomah, Apr 2008, $13.99
ISBN: 9781601420107

FBI agent Clint Rollins proudly works in the Crimes Against Children Unit risking his life whenever a child is in danger. His latest case to save a youngster led to his being shot. However, he believes he has a guardian angel because the hospital tests reveal he has cancer that was caught in time with the help of chemotherapy.

However, Clint’s spouse Sara has mixed feelings about her husband’s cancer. On the one hand she is very grateful that it was found early, but on the other she feels guilty that she as oncologist should have diagnosed it; she questions her abilities and in a circular logical way feels more guilt about her feelings. Meanwhile in spite of the side effects of chemo treatment, Clint needs to uncover the identity of a child serial killer before some other innocent dies.

Both Clint and Sara question whether God deserted them as they face a trial of faith, as much as the flesh in the second Defenders of Hope series (see RANSOMED DREAMS). The exciting FBI investigation returns characters from the first book in support roles. However, HEALING PROMISES belongs to the lead couple as each has something to prove more to themselves than the other or to God while doubting yet praying for Clint to recover. Amy Wallace provides a fabulous inspirational thriller starring realistic protagonists.

Harriet Klausner

A Novel Way to Die-Karen Hanson Stuyck

A Novel Way to Die
Karen Hanson Stuyck
Five Star, Apr 2008, $25.95
ISBN: 9781594146329

Helen Lewis calls University of Texas at Houston Criminology Professor Molly Patterson to say that her renowned mother, mystery writer Katherine Marsh dies from an apparent heart attack. Though not close to her mom, Molly is sad. She, her estranged husband Alex, and their two preadolescent children Annie and Will travel to Austin to arrange the funeral.

Tests by pathologist Dr. Lester prove that Katherine died from an overdose of Stelezine, an anxiety drug she was using while coping with ovarian cancer. Molly refuses to believe that her mother would take the drug as she rejected aspirin or that her mother would ever taken her life without taking care of her affairs as she was the queen of task management. However, her mom did provide generous Christmas presents as if she knew her time was short. She soon believes wannabe writer Suzanne Lang killed her mother, but all the evidence is in the final copy of her mom’s last book, “The Summer That Changed Everything” although the version Molly finds is an earlier one containing the wrong ending.

A NOVEL WAY TO DIE is an interesting whodunit wrapped inside a deep family drama. Whereas Molly believes murder occurred as she knew her mom well, everyone else thinks suicide. With a plausible final twist, fans will appreciate the criminologist professor investigating the death of her mother, a best-selling mystery author.

Harriet Klausner

Dawn’s Light-Terri Blackstock

Dawn’s Light
Terri Blackstock
Zondervan, May 2008, $14.99
ISBN: 9780310257707

It has been a year since the Pulses from the dying supernova knocked out all the fiber optics sending civilization back into a pre-electrical age (see TRUE LIGHT, LAST LIGHT and NIGHT LIGHT). Beth Branning has seen her father shot; her sister Deni in the hands of a serial killer; and Deni’s boyfriend Mark beaten severely by vigilantes. She is waiting for the “Next Terrible Thing” to happen; which of course occurs.

She witnesses a man kill a person and comes after her next; however a homeless man intercedes and Beth escapes even as her good Samaritan rescuer is murdered. The killer warns Beth not to tell anyone or he will go after her family. He knows her name because it is on the back of the shirt she is wearing. Mark plans to propose to Deni, but on the night he intends to give her an engagement ring, her former boyfriend Craig visits her. Since the Pulses occurred, he has been working diligently trying to get the electricity running. Beth sees a notice of a missing man on a bulleting board; he was the first victim she saw killed leaving behind a wife and their toddler. She worries about the killer coming for her loved ones until he arrives and almost kills her. Her parents find Beth hurt and rush her to the hospital where she undergoes brain surgery. Mark and a deputy search for her attacker while Craig uses his connections to get Beth medicine. The Branning clan knows that Beth’s fate is in the hands of God, but a few prayers by them might influence the outcome.

The final Restoration thriller will lift the spirits of readers while simultaneously leave readers weeping. Fans care about the Branning family and friends so feel deeply they feel their trials and tribulations. Mark is heroic as his love for Deni is so unselfish he is willing to give up what he most wants in life, her, if she loves Craig instead of him. Craig likewise is a good person but he tries to put strings on Deni while helping Beth. Terri Blackstock reaches the hearts of her audience with her belief that God remains in charge especially when things are darkest.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

House of Whispers-Margaret Lucke

House of Whispers
Margaret Lucke
Juno, Apr 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 9780809571581

After she catches her husband in bed with another woman, Claire Scanlon starts divorce proceedings and returns to her California hometown where she quickly shares a home with her best friend Lindsay. She obtains a realtor position with Golden Gate properties. Because she is late on her first day on the job, her boss makes her compete with another newbie Avery for the LeGrande listing. The seller Ben Grant will select the realtor of record after he meets the rivals and gets their opinions on how to show the house.

The house has a dark past because the last tenants were murdered there by their son who turned his gun on himself and committed suicide. Claire smells blood when she enters the abode and hears a voice whispering. She next sees something out of the corner of her eye. Claire is shook to her bone marrow, but Ben picks her to show the house because she will know how the other potential buyers will feel. Claire and Ben become romantically involved. She goes to the house and picks up vibes that a fifth person was there during the murder-suicide. In spite of her sudden paranormal skills, Claire understands she has no mundane proof that the real killer got away with mass murder.

HOUSE OF WHISPERS is a fascinating blending of romance, mystery and the paranormal. Every few chapters, the ghost talks to herself wishing she could communicate more directly with Claire so that the truth becomes known about her parents, her brother and her. Claire’s reactions to what her senses find seem right as she goes from doubter to questioner to believer. Margaret Lucke provides an entertaining haunted house whodunit.

Harriet Klausner

13 BULLETS-David Wellington

David Wellington
Crown Three Rivers, May 2007, $13.95
ISBN: 0307381439

In 1983 US Marshall Special Deputy Jameson Arkeley ended the vampire feeding frenzy killing all but one and almost dying in the war; most people feel safe as officially all of the once thought of as supernatural beasts are reported dead. However, because of laws intended to provide justice to mortals, the sole surviving blood sucker Justinia Malvern resides on life support as a guinea pig for scientific investigation in a remote Pennsylvania asylum.

Now two decades later, Pennsylvania state trooper Laura Caxton reports some weird homicides that bring Arkeley back on the scene. He knows vampires killed the victims and assumes somehow Justinia has "offspring" planning to free their queen once they are powerful enough to do so. He takes over the investigation with Laura assigned to assist him. They must follow the blood trail to the lair of Justinia's minion to exterminate them before they can bring blood to resuscitate their leader.

This ultra-gory vampire police procedural is pure action on action as David Wellington never slows down even to bite a victim. The story line is filled with twists that at times seem too jarring especially a final spin that sets up the next encounter, but also keeps the audience alert. However, the key to this refreshing thriller is the relationship between the vampire hunter and the state trooper as no romance, no best pals, nor any Gandalf-Frodo affinity occur; instead he is an abusive arrogant ahole and she hates having to take orders from this know it all bully. With a nod to his zombie Monster Island trilogy, Mr. Wellington returns the vampire lgend to its bloodiest veins.
Harriet Klausner

Monday, February 25, 2008

Hokus Pokus- Fern Michaels

Hokus Pokus
Fern Michaels
Zebra, Apr 2008, $6.99
ISBN 9781420101850

The magnificent seven who make up the Sisterhood have been forced into luxurious exile in Barcelona as their merry escapades of exacting vengeance on men who done them wrong was so successful, law enforcement noticed. At the same time they enjoy their “vacation”, US Supreme Court Justice Pearl Barnes is being blackmailed by her odious former son-in-law Tyler Hughes. He threatens to expose her and her underground railroad she operates to transport women and children to safety from abusing men.

Pearl does not want to pay off this blackguard, but likes his concept of extortion so she contacts the Sisterhood and with a bit of blackmailing obtains their services. The septet knows they cannot just return to Americas as themselves as they will be arrested at customs. Instead, they must play HIDE AND SEEK knowing the FBI desires PAYBACK and Maggie’s former lover Ted Robinson wants SWEET REVENGE. They decide to impersonate the Australian G-String Girls.

The latest Sisterhood thriller is an amusing entry as the seven samurai sneak back into the States to cause mayhem. The story line is as always implausible but absolutely enjoyable as fans will once again root for these ladies to succeed in their newest wild endeavor. HOKUS POKUS is a zany over the top tale filled with action, mirth and mayhem.

Harriet Klausner

Mystery Writers of America Presents the Blue Religion: New Stories about Cops, Criminals, and the Chase

Mystery Writers of America Presents the Blue Religion: New Stories about Cops, Criminals, and the Chase
Edited by Michael Connolly
Little, Brown, Apr 2008, $24.99
ISBN: 9780316012515

These entertaining nineteen tales focus on the police procedural theme. However, as Mr. Connolly explains in his introduction, for the most part the entries concentrate on the “world of the cop” as the stories “explore the burden of the badge” more so than investigative procedures. The contributions run the gamut with a strong historical by Polly Nelson to the return of Harry Bosch to a retired cop and his wife running into trouble (T. Jefferson Parker’s “Skinhead Central). There are no clinkers yet the range is vast from a dark tale of a selected amnesiac (“Such a Lucky, Pretty Girl: by Persia Walker) to amusingly light (Jon Breen’s "Serial Killer"). All are excellent, especially insightful is Paul Guyton’s tense "What a Wonderful World" that proves a short story can contain fully developed characters; an apropos title along with Alafair Burke’s “Winning” as this anthology is a wonderful look at individual members of the Blue Religion special congregation.

Harriet Klausner

People of the Weeping Eye-W. Michael Gear and Kathleen O’Neal Gear

People of the Weeping Eye
W. Michael Gear and Kathleen O’Neal Gear
Forge, Apr 2008, $24.95
ISBN: 9780765314383

Almost a millennium ago, an advanced civilization existed on what is now the Moundsville section of Alabama. Split Sky City had one thousand inhabitants with giant palisades and mounds built as a gate to protect the citizens. Like suburbs, additional villages were located nearby along the river and occasionally one tribe conquered another. Alligator Town has been attacked and the Chief Clan of the Sky People avenges them with a daring raid.

While this is transpiring, Trader, who left the city after killing his brother, also left behind the woman he loves. He becomes a Trader journeying far and wide seeing things few men have ever observed. In one village, he hits the mother lode of copper, and meets Old White also known as Seeker. Old White also left the city under a cloud; he too became a Trader reaching the Aztec Civilization in the south and the icy tundra in the north. His dreams led him to Two Petals, a powerful mystic, who sees and acts the opposite way of most people. Seeker is going home with Two Petals to redress an old wrong. Trader joins them because the Power moves him to help prevent a catastrophe from happening.

This book ends with a cliffhanger as the tale of Trader, Seeker, and Two Petals will continue in the next First North Americans saga People of the Thunder. Once again the Gears bring alive an ancient North American civilization this time showing somewhat how the Moundsville tribes and the people near the head of the Mississippi lived based on archeological historical information. The research is impeccable but does not overwhelm the story as the key characters are superbly developed especially when they undergo trials and tribulations. Although no climax occurs, fans of the series and those of Jean Auel will relish the vivid details of the PEOPLE OF THE WEEPING EYE.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Without a Trace- Sandra K. Moore

Without a Trace
Sandra K. Moore
Silhouette Athena Force, Mar 2008, $5.50
ISBN: 9780373389797

Delphi, whom she has never met, warned the Athena Academy for the Advancement of Women graduates that Arachne was kidnapping alumni. One of them Coast Guard Lieutenant Nikki Bustillo heeds the warning alertly watching her crewmates just in case. She loves her job working drug interdiction as she has the DNA enhanced ability to “smell trouble in a man’s sweat”.

After stopping a shrimp boat containing harshly treated refugees trying to sneak into the States, Nikki receives an encrypted message from Athena’s Delphi. She checks with her friend Two-Finger Jimmy who provides her information on a ship owned by S.H.A. leaving Miami for Hong Kong allegedly carrying textiles. Nikki believes they are carting human cargo. She heads to Hong Kong where she works with local police detective Johnny Zhao. However, as they find themselves in deep trouble from a powerful adversary with international criminal connections, they are attracted to one another, but Nikki wants his respect while Johnny needs her safe after his previous contact was murdered.

The latest Athena Academy alumni adventure is a superb romantic suspense thriller that focuses on human trafficking. The story line is fast-paced and the lead couple a strong pairing who understands mission supersedes love. Although I am bias when it comes to this consistently entertaining series, newcomers will see why as Sandra K. Moore provides a great entry in a strong saga.

Harriet Klausner

The Mirror's Edge-Steven Sidor

The Mirror's Edge
Steven Sidor
St. Martin's, Apr 2008, $24.95
ISBN: 9780312354138

Independent reporter Jase Deering believes it was the disappearance of his brother Mathias who at twelve years old walked into the wintry woods and never came safely home. Now as one year has passed since the kidnapping of two-year-old twins Liam and Shane Boyle, Jase and his blind girlfriend Robyn Matchfrost decide to investigate what the police have classified as a cold case.

The Chicago police detectives who worked the official inquiry assist Jase and Robyn as much as they can as they want closure almost as much as the victims’ parents crave it. The journalist team interviews the Boyle former nanny who lives in total abject fear and shows them the term “mirrorrorrim” that the abductor etched on her skin. That message leads Jase and Robyn to black arts cult leader Aubrey Hart Morick, who believed strongly in human sacrifice; however Morick was dead long before the snatch occurred. Jase turns to Aubrey’s offspring and soon uncovers disturbing information that makes him wonder if the son is a chip off the evil father’s block. Finding the twins and proof remain elusive as the years go by with Jase now a solo act digging deeper and deeper into the cult and the supernatural. He knows he is too late for the boys and for himself, but obsessively keeps drilling deeper in search of the truth

This is a one-sitting superb but upsetting suspense tale (keep the antacid tablets handy) that plays out like an investigative thriller, but is much frighteningly more. Readers will follow every disconcerting twist with macabre fascination as Steven Sidor keeps the audience mesmerized with what is going on especially in the obsessed mind of Jase. You will not sleep well thinking about what really happened in this unforgettable novel.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Virgins and Martyrs-E. L. Merkel

Virgins and Martyrs
E. L. Merkel
Five Star, Apr 2008, $25.95
ISBN: 9781594146350

In Spanish Bay, Florida, a powerful bomb devastates a family planning clinic that provides abortions; two are dead. At the moment local detective Beaulieu leads the investigation at least until the FBI arrives. He is proud that he found a second bomb in a car before that could explode. However, he miscalculates the cunning of the terrorist as a third bomb ignites killing police detective Tara Kinsey and severely injuring her partner Aria Quynn.

The police and FBI suspect sniper Bobby Teasdale who admits on the Centurions of the Lord website that he is hunting twenty-seven abortion-providers in northwest Florida. However, Federal prosecutor Howard Zhang-mei and FBI agent Moira Osterholm encourage Aria to investigate who killed her partner. After an ugly incident with TV reporter Jack Reason at Tara’s funeral, they team up following clues that take them to thirteen year old Maddie Shepard who has had stomata cuts and godly visions that lead back to the Centurions.

VIRGINS AND MARTYRS may star a cop, but is more an urban noir than a police procedural. Aria is terrific as she faces down men and women including verbally pounding Jack and “bi*ch slapping a big ex-con as she understands no man will report police brutality against a female cop who physically over-powered them. With a great final spin that ties up the loose ends, fans will enjoy tough ass Aria’s unofficial investigation into who killed her partner.

Harriet Klausner

Judas Horse-April Smith

Judas Horse
April Smith
Knopf, Feb 2008, $23.95
ISBN: 9781400042050

Seven months ago, FBI Special Agent Ana Grey was forced to shoot "a crazed detective on a suicide mission". Her badge and weapon was confiscated as is normal procedure while the Office of Professional Responsibility works with the agent on administrative leave to cope with the psychological trauma of a life changing incident; they determine when an agent returns to duty. When the agent does another agent escorts them back to the office. For April that was her friend Steve Crawford.

Soon afterward he vanished leaving the insomniac April with another reason not to sleep. Now Steve’s remains was found scattered by a hiker on Oregon's Cascade Mountains; apparently a victim of a homemade bomb. Ana goes undercover to infiltrate the anarchist most likely to have perpetrated the execution, Free the Animals (FAN) so as to obtain evidence of who killed Steve and how big of terrorist threat this group is. She quickly realizes that former FBI agent Dan “Allfather” Stone has something horrific in mind that he dubs "the Big One".

The third April Smith FBI thriller (see GOOD MORNING, KILLER and NORTH OF MONTANA) is a fabulous tale in which the heroine has a difficult task to obtain information re The Big One while staying alive. The difficulty in what she does is simply that the FAN members distrust everyone even themselves; as Stone especially knows the Feds will be back with a new infiltrator now that they have learned what happened to Crawford. In this milieu of obsessive behavior Ana remains calm as she deals with brilliant lunatics over the edge.

Harriet Klausner

No Control-Shannon K Butcher

No Control
Shannon K Butcher
Forever, Feb 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 9780446618663

Having survived a terrorist kidnapping in Armenia in which everyone else was killed, she had prayed that she would join them. Eighteen months later, not feeling safe even in her home in Columbia, Missouri, Lana Hancock suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, euphoria for being alive, and a horrific case of survivor's guilt. The nightmares make it impossible for her to sleep. Worse one of the evil abductors, Miles Gentry, appears in each of her horrific dreams as he saved her life but failed to prevent torture or keep the others alive.

Unbeknownst to Lana, Miles is actually undercover Delta Force operative Caleb Stone, who struggled to keep his identity concealed for fear of crippling his mission when all he wanted to do was rescue her. He would like to comfort her, but feels the best thing for Lana is to never see him again. However, the CIA believes she might be a target of the terrorist cell wanting to complete the job; Caleb is assigned to keep her safe; filled with guilt for allowing her to be battered, he vows to die if necessary to insure she is not harmed by these monsters.

Romantic suspense fans will have NO REGRETS after reading Shannon K. Butcher’s action-packed NO CONTROL due to the lead couple whose guilt complexes supersedes rational thought. Both are fascinating characters struggling to cope with the memories of that ugly incident; however, readers will especially find Miles interesting as he has regrets for not interceding earlier even though he knows logically it would have destroyed the mission. He keeps asking himself esoteric questions like whether freedom is a sham when innocent pawns are sacrificed for the common good. Fans will relish this strong character driven thriller as Miles has a second chance but he also knows he can never make up for what he allowed to happen to the woman he loves.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, February 22, 2008

The Law Of Second Chances-James Sheehan

The Law Of Second Chances
James Sheehan
St. Martin’s, Mar 2008, $24.95
ISBN: 9780312366308

Defending insurance companies against claimants made attorney Jack Tobin wealthy, but unsatisfied. He gave up that practice to defend death row inmates in Florida as he totally opposes capital punishment.

Seventeen years ago, poor black Henry Wilson was convicted of murdering a drug dealer; Jack believes he is innocent and sets out to prove his assertion. He also decides to represent Benny Avrile, who has a long criminal record and on a robbery that turned ugly allegedly shot and killed oil mogul Carl Robertson; the case against him is air tight with no lawyer wanting to go near it. At the same that Jack steps in to represent Benny in a death sentence case that he knows will take up much of his time and have an emotional cost, he is also is distraught that his wife Pat is suffering from a life-threatening illness.

With more courtroom time than Jack’s first tale (see THE MAYOR OF LEXINGTON AVENUE), THE LAW OF SECOND CHANCES is an excellent legal thriller due the protagonist’s deliberations on life and law; although at times he slows the pace with flashbacks to growing up in 1950s-1960s New York. Still it is the hero’s balancing his emotions and time to defend capital punishment sure shot losers with the needs of his wife and (himself) that make this a terrific legal thriller.

Harriet Klausner

The Amateur Spy-Dan Fesperman

The Amateur Spy
Dan Fesperman
Knopf, Mar 2008, $24.95
ISBN: 9781400044672

After years working in the world’s most dangerous spots as an aid worker, fifty-five year old Freeman Lockhart retires. He and his thirty-something Bosnian spouse Mila take residence on the island of Karos in the Aegean Sea.

However, on their very first night, three home invaders abduct Freeman. They demand he do their bidding. He is to go to Jordon to spy on a former aid co-worker Omar al-Baroody. If he refuses, they will publicly destroy him and his wife by revealing his darkest secret involving his spouse when they worked in Africa. Stunned, he travels to Amman while in Washington, D.C. Dr. Abbas Rahim plans a terrorist attack that ties back to Freeman’s Jordanian mission.

THE AMATEUR SPY is a superb espionage thriller and the audience will show their appreciation by reading it in one entranced sitting. Freeman is terrific as the title character blackmailed into a scenario that is out of his skill level but failure is unacceptable as he knows the price. Fans will sympathize and root for him while watching him bungle his way through a dangerous mission in which he knows no matter what he does someone will die.

Harriet Klausner

The Blood Ballad-Rett MacPherson

The Blood Ballad
Rett MacPherson
St. Martin's, Feb 2008, $23.95
ISBN: 9780312362225

New Kassell, Missouri genealogist Torie O'Shea uncovers some fascinating information re her fiddler grandfather, John Robert Keith. He apparently had ties to the 1930s regionally popular country band Morgan Family Players. Glen Morgan, the grandson of band member Scott Morgan, informs Torie that he has found a tape that implies his grandfather claimed authorship of songs that apparently her grandfather wrote.

While on a bird watching expedition, Torie notices someone dump what turns out to be the corpse of Clifton Weaver, another Morgan grandson. She already rules out coincidence and her opinion is affirmed when a CD arrives apparently sent by Weaver before he died with someone singing the tune of a murder confession by Belle Morgan, who vanished many years ago. Torie follows the song’s clues that take her to Belle's body. Starting to fear what else will fall out of the family trees, Torie keeps on shaking the branches.

This is a fun entry in a fine series (see THICKER THAN WATER) as Torie learns a lot about the apparently cutthroat Depression music industry in the Ozarks as much as the modern day murder mystery while she follows the genealogical paths which converge on a contemporary killer. Although not quite as exciting as her past escapades in BLOOD RELATIONS investigations, cozy readers still will appreciate Torie’s latest genealogy adventures as a murderer makes research dangerous.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, February 21, 2008

What Was Lost- Catherine O'Flynn

What Was Lost
Catherine O'Flynn
Holt, Jul 2008, $14.00
ISBN: 9780805088335

In 1984 in the Birmingham, England area, ten years old orphan Kate Meaney, accompanied by her sidekick a stitched stuffed monkey pretends to be a private investigator. The preadolescent especially keeps an eye out for criminal activity in Green Oaks shopping center near her home. When she is not sleuthing, Kate spends time at the sweetshop next door to her home discussing music with twenty-two tears old Adrian, the son of the owner. Her grandmother who raises Kate directs her to take an exam to gain entrance to a boarding school. Adrian takes her there, but no one sees Kate again. The police suspect Adrian of murder as they cannot comprehend a friendship between the tweener and the adult, but have no evidence to prove their case. However, the neighborhood condemns Adrian forcing him to move away.

Two decades later on a CCTV monitor Green Oaks night shift security guard Kurt Jump notices a girl wandering seemingly lost holding a stuffed monkey. He rushes over to where he saw her, but no one is there. Not long after that Kurt mentions the girl with the monkey to Your Music store manager Lisa, Adrian’s sister. They begin a search for the girl as Lisa hopes to solve the disappearance of Kate that destroyed her family especially her forced exiled brother.

WHAT WAS LOST is a superb thriller that uses a mall, especially what happens outside the shops, as a terrific backdrop to a fascinating mystery. In many ways Green Oaks is a major character as the audience learns its economic impact on a blue collar neighborhood in which factory workers are forced to accept shop jobs at extremely diminished income; a subtle slap at the gurus who insist the economy is strong as everyone is working. The atmosphere of the non-shops is a part of the mall that is dark and gloomy at least through the surveillance cameras. With the mall playing a key role and Lisa and Kurt jumping into the cold case seeking the truth, the bottom line is fans will need to know the answer to the title question.

Harriet Klausner

The Voice-Bill Myers

The Voice
Bill Myers
FaithWords, Apr 2008, $13.99
ISBN 9780446697996

In California former Special Forces Agent Charlie Madison suffers from post stress disorder syndrome, which has left him somewhat reclusive. Still he owns and manages a music store as he has to eat. Out of nowhere his thirteen years old deaf niece Jazmin Lutzer rushes into the store insisting men carrying guns are chasing her; someone claiming to be FBI Agent Bolar follows her into the store. Charlie fails to recognize his sister’s daughter, but once he realizes the overall scenario, he manages to get her to safety with him only.

Charlie learns from Jazmin that her parents have been abducted as they and she developed the “Program”, a voiceprint methodology that captures God’s voice. Fanatics from the three major one God religions all want the recording that demonstrates miraculously healing power though it fails to enable Jazmin to hear; these lunatics compete with each other and are willing to kill to obtain the Program. FBI agent Lisa Harmon join the uncle and his niece as they flee to Europe, Africa, and the Middle East trying to keep the Program out of the hands of those who would abuse it in the name of God in order to gain power and suppress others while seeking Jazmin’s parents.

THE VOICE is an interesting inspirational suspense thriller. It takes time to comprehend what is going on as there is too much action at the onset so that bewildered readers along with the reluctant hero have no idea what is happening. Still once the story line settles down even with a zillion chase scenes to follow, fans obtain a fascinating concept; that of capturing God’s voice with modern technology while economic, governmental and religious powers want to control this healing commodity worth a fortune to the owner.

Harriet Klausner

Mystery Of Everyman's Way-Paul Collins

Mystery Of Everyman's Way
Paul Collins
eTreasures Publishing, 2007
ISBN: 9781605301181

Professor Gregory Henry Case teaches quantum physics at Oxford University. Although the Expatriate American lives in London with his brilliant American girlfriend Caroline who one day he assumes he will marry, his life is conventional English style. However, that changes when he finds a corpse; but by the time authorities arrive the body is gone. After getting drunk and coming home late, his irate girlfriend leaves him.

Soon afterward, the corpse reappears. This time authorities check it for dental records to identify the cadaver. The name of the victim is Gregory H. Case as the body matches the quantum physicist professor in every way. Soon after meeting his dead self, space travelers abduct the living Case. They take him into another dimension where he meets archivist Father Thomas Toomey who informs his visitor that he about to embark on a key mission. Case believes he is the loser as the woman he has just seen and knows he loves is marrying King David and all Gregory can do is watch from his holographic existence.

MYSTERY OF EVERYMAN'S WAY starts off as if it is going to be a wild amateur sleuth murder mystery in which the hero investigates who his murderer is. However, the story line twists into science fiction and seemingly unrequited love. Although the spin from whodunit to sci fi seems a bit jarring as the Twilight Zone like murder mystery has hooked the audience; however once readers adapt to the twist, they will fully appreciate the cosmic escapades of an everyman turning into a heroic Knight.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Rosetta Key-William Dietrich

The Rosetta Key
William Dietrich
Harper, Apr 2008, $25.95
ISBN: 0061239550

In 1799 he was fortunate to survive the evil of NAPOLEON'S PYRAMIDS thanks to a hot air balloon ride across the Sahara but now expatriate Ethan Gage is in danger again in the Holy Land as Napoleon’s army march towards Jerusalem. Gage and Bonaparte had gotten into a dispute over the Great Pyramid power leading to the French dictator proclaiming him an enemy of the state.

Napoleon's followers Count Alessandro Silano and his aide Pierre Najac declare Gage a dangerous traitor to France placing a price for his head. Knowing the peril he faces, Gage fears more for his former lover Astiza as a pawn if the lethal sorcerer Silano captures her. Thus he rushes to Jerusalem to keep her safe, which fits with his other quest perfectly as he follows clues in search of the revered legendary Book of Thoth, an ancient tome that allegedly knows the magical underlying secrets of the universe.

Using real persona, sites and events (not just Napoleon), William Dietrich writes a terrific historical thriller starring a late eighteenth century Hans Solo impish rogue. The story line is fast-paced but also brings alive the Holy Land. This is one series worth reading as Mr. Dietrich provides THE ROSETTA KEY to how Napoleon consolidated his power.

Harriet Klausner

Days of Atonement-Michael Gregorio

Days of Atonement
Michael Gregorio
Dunne, Apr 2008, $24.95
ISBN 9780312376444

Bonaparte’s French forces occupy Prussia as it has for several years. Most villagers try to avoid the troops who need no reason to arrest someone. In Lotingen magistrate Hanno Stiffeniis knows the constant fear of incarceration or death although he is more concerned with his family’s safety than his own.

At a formal party Stiffeniis and French Colonel Lavedrine discuss criminology, which both has an interest in. The Prussian magistrate mentions applying philosopher Immanuel Kant’s classic Critique of Pure Reason to a case (see CRITIQUE OF CRIMINAL REASON), which excites the French officer. He asks Stiffeniis to help him investigate the ghastly murders of Prussian Major Bruno Gottewald’s three small children and the disappearance of his wife who Lavedrine believes was abducted and probably dead. The wife is soon found dead in a warehouse. Meanwhile Stiffeniis goes to inform and question Gottewald, but instead finds his murdered corpse. A family of five I killed in less than a week, but Stiffeniis cannot fathom why or who would commit such atrocities.

The second Prussian-French historical mystery is a superb thriller that hooks the audience from the moment the two criminologists talk about crime theory over dinner. The whodunit is fun to follow because of the sleuths as Stiffeniis and Lavedrine share prevalent theories of the Napoleonic Era on how to solve a murder mystery; they each bring their form of logic to the Gottewald family mass murders.

Harriet Klausner

The Perfect Man-Kristine Dexter

The Perfect Man
Kristine Dexter
Five Star, Apr 2008, $25.95
ISBN: 9781594146800

Her Portland, Oregon police partner Lou Rassouli reminds Detective Natasha “Tasha” Morgan that she has a family event to attend at the Harborside Yacht Club. Tasha would prefer to continue literally digging through the garbage for clues that would prove Damon Pfeiffer killed his sibling. Instead she rushes home to change into formal wear for the pre-wedding dinner. Just outside she meets Rick Chance who has just moved back home from Chicago; his older nephew Gerald is marrying Tasha’s cousin Brooke.

Rick and Tasha are attracted to one another, but he has a major problem to deal with. The Creep has followed him from Chicago leaving his calling card, an expensive basket of perfumed soaps and oils addressed to Jess. The unknown stalker believes Rick has locked away his wife romance author Jessamyn Chance. As Rick and Tasha fall in love, the obsessed for Jess Creep increases the assaults on Chance.

The irony of THE PERFECT MAN is that the reader knows Herbert Beebe is the Creep while the lead couple does not and the secret of Jess that Beebe does not. The police procedural romance is a fun tale as everyone warns the heroine to stay away from the black sheep, but besides her heart wanting him she has the Creep case to work. Fans will appreciate this romantic mystery with ironic twists starting with garbage patrol.

Harriet Klausner

Bad Blood-L.A. Banks

Bad Blood
L.A. Banks
St. Martin’s, Apr 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 9780312949112

Most humans remain ignorant to the fact that the Columbia Disaster twenty-five years ago was caused by supernaturals turning against each other. The US military said the drug cartels went crazy and that was why blood ran down the streets like an overflowing river. Sasha Trudeau is part of a Black-Ops organization that consists of people with the werewolf virus in their system, but none has Turned due to the meds they take. Their mission is to prevent werewolves being captured by other nations besides America because werewolf and human DNA merge into a super soldier.

On an operation in Korea, the werewolf Shogun tells Sasha that the dangerous lycans are demon infested while the rest of the species is harmless and in control of the change. Sasha is unaware that her superiors already know that and are trying to breed a super soldier. When the Alpha in her group Turns, Sasha kills him; later she meets Max Hunter, a shadow wolf who is a different species. He insists she is part of his clan and they cannot be infested by demon blood. Both feel the attraction between them and a relationship develops, but she must fight the military who are committing atrocities against humanity and needs the help of her lover if she hopes to succeed.

Book one of the Crimson Moon novels, BAD BLOOD is a fantastic urban fantasy filled with action, intrigue, betrayal, double dealing and plenty of mano a fema as well as romance. The compelling story line uses the concept of the forces of good and evil vying for supremacy with the malevolent side cleverly disguising their activity as altruistic. The protagonists struggle to survive as there are traitors within the were, human, and shadow communities. L.A. Banks provides a spine tingling supernatural thriller that shows why her fans always clamor for more.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Hollywood Crows-Joseph Wambaugh

Hollywood Crows
Joseph Wambaugh
Little Brown, Apr 2008, $26.99
ISBN: 9780316025287

LAPD cops Nathan “Hollywood Nate” Weiss and Bix Ramstead are assigned as the newest “Crows” to the department’s Community Relations Office. Weiss stops beautiful Margot Aziz, who ran a stop sign without slowing down. Although he tries to remain impartial officer, she hooks his libido as she explains she is in the throes of an ugly divorce from Ali.

Margot seeks to trump her spouse, who owns a nightclub that is allowed to operate freely because of his financial donations to various police activities. Meanwhile Margot believes she has a cop in her corner in the gullible Hollywood Nate and his naive partner Bix. Her plan is simple use these morons to kill her husband in order to gain his wealth; but she is unaware of a just as lethal counter operation.

The suspense subplot as described above offers no surprises as it goes just the way the audience expects. Thus the interest in HOLLYWOOD CROWS lies with the various police officers trying to do their job under federal monitoring of LAPD. The cops seem genuine with their frustrations and wary of the various social experiments to help the force overcome the scandal that led to oversight. Fans of Joseph Wambaugh will enjoy the latest police procedural at the HOLLYWOOD STATION in spite of the prime suspense element is weak.

Harriet Klausner

The Bible of Clay-Julia Navarro

The Bible of Clay
Julia Navarro
Bantam, Apr 2008, $24.00
ISBN 9780385339636

President Bush has put a clock on Iraq so that if Hussein fails to cooperate by handing over his weapons of mass destruction a regime change will follow. Meanwhile Iraqi archeologist Clara Tannenberg makes a startling announcement at a Mesopotamia cultural panel. She talks about the finding of two cuneiform text clay tablets scribed by an apprentice that references a pair of tablets that tell the Abraham’s version of creation etched a thousand years before the papyrus version that serves as the basis of the Old Testament.

As the invasion nears, several adversarial groups search for the biblical First Patriarch’s story because each understands what this mean in terms of present day religion and power. Meanwhile Clara’s husband Ahmed Husseini, head of the Bureau of Archeological Excavation in Iraq, is irate with her for telling too much and for her insane reverence of her renowned grandfather, who he believes is a nasty sort. However, as Clara realizes her call for help has backfired with so many interested in absconding with the first BIBLE OF CLAY for either personal profit on the black market or to conceal the truth, she finds herself reassessing her family especially her idol, her grandfather who has fallen off the pedestal.

Although there are too many players at the beginning that clutter the story line, once Julia emerges as the lead, THE BIBLE OF CLAY becomes an exhilarating religious artifact race thriller. The premise is engaging as the biblical past impacts the present; yet fascinatingly the entire tale occurs around the time of the Bush invasion. This tale starts off slow and is hampered by a cast out of a De Mille movie, but once it gets going, patient fans will appreciate the changing perspectives and opinions on finding Abraham’s original oldest testament.

Harriet Klausner

Hangman's Corner-Peter King

Hangman's Corner
Peter King
Five Star, Apr 2008, $25.95
ISBN 9781594146459

In 1870 Ned Parker makes a living driving a hansom cab in London. However, Ned is a bit shook when he learns that a recent fare was found dead in the Thames; the victim was under police scrutiny as a prime suspect in a church robbery.

Needing help to crack both the theft and the murder cases, London Police Detective Rollo “Jacko” Jackson asks Ned to assist him just like his late father used to help him on investigations. Ned is reluctant to get involved with a copper’s inquiry until a driving pal Herbert Summers is arrested for the homicide based on flimsy evidence. Motivated to prove his associate is innocent, Ned turns to other drivers for assistance even as he follows clues that drive him around the city.

The cast especially the eccentric drivers that readers meet out of the 6000 working London make for an entertaining Victorian mystery. Ned is terrific as the focus of the gallows humorous story line. Although the overall plot seems implausible, no one except nit picking reviewers will care as HANGMAN’S CORNER is a fun historical that brings 1870 London to life (and death) through zany characterizations.

Harriet Klausner

Adam-Ted Dekker

Ted Dekker
Thomas Nelson, Apr 2008, $25.95
ISBN: 9780849918919

FBI Special Agent Daniel Clay is a psychiatrist who gets into the minds of serial killers in the hopes of stopping them. His obsessive compulsive need to understand such a mind led to the break-up of his marriage to Heather. He asked for a field assignment and got the Eve killer. Sixteen young women were killed in sixteen months; each at the beginning of the lunar cycle from a previously unknown form of meningitis. With no clues pointing to a suspect, Daniel is publicly removed from the case.

However, Daniel does what he does best: work alone; his liaison to the information the FBI gathers is sent through Phoenix based pathologist Agent Lori Ames. Clues lead Daniel and Lori to Eve’s latest victim who is still alive. While taking her to the hospital, Eve steps in front of a car killing Daniel and injuring Lori. Twenty-eight minutes later Daniel is resuscitated but the image of Eve is gone from his mind. In an effort to recall the killer’s face, Daniel persuades Lori to kill him and resuscitate him. While they experiment, the killer grabs Heather; Daniel goes to find her. Daniel thinks he knows where the killer is, but dealing with this evil predator will still prove difficult for reasons Daniel and Lori will soon learn.

Ted Dekker tells a great police procedural supernatural thriller. Daniel is a fascinating hero who in his way is as obsessive as the Eve killer. His disbelief as to what the clues seem to imply adds to the overall tension as he discounts the mystic as nonsense. At the moment s he has given up hope, he begins to believe what his senses tell him. Readers who enjoy a great book should peruse this entertaining paranormal psychological thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, February 18, 2008

The Forgery of Venus-Michael Gruber

The Forgery of Venus
Michael Gruber
Morrow, Apr 2008, $$24.95
ISBN: 9780060874483

Chaz Wilmot’s father C.P. Wilmot as he signed his work is a highly regarded illustrator. However, Chaz is much more talented than his dad or any of his contemporaries. Still they sell while he hacks out a living doing commercial crap. His former wife Lotte, owner of an art gallery, is disappointed in Chaz as she recognizes his talent and believes he would sell big time; but he feels obligated to avoid the starving artist syndrome since they need money now for their ailing son.

Chaz accepts work to restore a ceiling in a Venus palazzo. Before the trek overseas, a friend from their Columbia University days gives him a hallucinatory drug. In Italy, he finds the assignment exciting as it calls for a recreation rather than a restoration. With the aftereffect of the drug enabling him to focus while he somehow lives the life of noted seventeenth century artist Diego Velasquez, he becomes the Renaissance master past and present. As Chaz worries about his sanity with each time travel trek eradicating a piece of his memories, the art forger underground offer him wealth that will provide the best medical care in the world for his child in exchange for a few Velasquez masterpieces.

This unique odd thriller is a terrific character study as Chaz is caught between his talent, what sells, his essence and his son’s life. In a Twilight Zone like way, as he becomes more like Velasquez, the protagonist becomes less Chaz; yet if he quits he loses the opportunity for funding his beloved child’s medical needs. THE FORGERY OF VENUS is a strong tale starring a fascinating lead character who must make difficult choices amongst the art of love.

Harriet Klausner

The Atlantis Prophesy-Thomas Greanias

The Atlantis Prophesy
Thomas Greanias
Pocket, Apr 2008, $7.99
ISBN: 9780743491921

On his deathbed, George Washington knew that there was a secret organization using the Masons as a cover that has one goal. The Alignment plans to one day use the newly created nation as a weapon at a time when it becomes powerful. However Washington handed a document to a trusted person who was to deliver it to someone whose descendents would make proper use of the information to preserve the Republic.

Archeologist Dr. Conrad Yeats visits his father’s gravesite where on his dad’s stone is etched astrological signs and a number. Curious, he breaks the code and using the signs he realizes that everything points towards to a cornerstone of a Washington site where something apparently was buried. If he cannot find it in time, July 4th 2008 to be exact, a few days from now America will no longer exist. Instead the Alignment will rule.

Similar in tone and content to National Treasure, THE ATLANTIS PROPHESY starts off at light speed and then accelerates. Conspiracy buffs will enjoy this roller coaster thriller as intrigue is the norm with many characters having secret operations leading to the hero unsure of who to trust spinally as he learns the Alignment has taken over much of the government and other major national components. Thomas Greanias makes it wild DC ride plausible as the Republic is being taken over from within.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, February 17, 2008

The Crystal Skull-Manda Scott

The Crystal Skull
Manda Scott
Delacorte, Apr 2008, $25.00
ISBN: 9780385340106

Her new husband Cambridge Professor Kit O’Connor gives his wife expert speleologist Stella Cody the perfect marriage present. The professor provides her with the sixteenth century work of Cedric Owen who in his poetry says he hid an ancient powerful artifact in the Gaping Ghyll, England’s deepest known pothole. The newlyweds spend their honeymoon digging in dirt inside the Yorkshire cave until Stella finds the incredible sapphire skull.

They soon realize others want the skull and will do anything including murder to obtain it; Kit gets hurt while they escape. Stella learns more about the skull yet understands less as conflicting information surfaces. It appears that it is one of thirteen that need to merge to avoid Armageddon as prophesized by the Mayans which will occur on 12/12/12; or perhaps it needs to be destroyed at the right time in the right place to avoid the 12/12/12 end of the world; then again maybe doing something with it leads to 12/12/12/12 Armageddon.

Based on a crystal skull in the British Museum, Manda Scott provides an action-packed fast-paced tale. The story line mostly focuses on the mdoern day countdown, but also has interesting interudes to the Elziabethian Era travels of Owens to Zama in the Mayan Empire. Readers will appreciate this end of the world thriller so Brownian yet so different as even seemingly loving Kit is under supsicon by the bewildered heroine who is unsure what she should do next as any error could mean Arageddon.

Harriet Klausner

The Ancient Rain-Domenic Stansberry

The Ancient Rain
Domenic Stansberry
St. Martin’s, Apr 2008, $24.95
ISBN: 9780312364533

San Francisco Private Investigator Bill Owens asks his colleague Dante Mancuso of Cicero Investigations for a favor; keep his two frightened children, fourteen years old Kate and ten years old Zeke safe while he is charged with murder; his wife attorney Jill is in Chicago. Twenty-seven years ago, Bill was part of a radical group, the Symbonise Liberation Army that killed Eleanor Younger while robbing a bank. Eleanor had left her eleven years old daughter Elise in the car and so she witnessed the murder of her mom. She accuses Bill Owens who came out without a mask of her mom’s murder.

The Feds go all out to nail Bill while his backers hire Dante to investigate. As he makes inquires to a homicide that occurred thirty years ago and is colder than the tundra except for the eye witness; Dante begins to close in on the puppeteer who manipulated what happened then and what is happening now.

The third Mancuso private investigative tale (see BIG BOOM and CHASING THE DRAGON) is a superb urban noir that uses history to include the Symbonise Liberation Army of Patty Heart fame and much more like the title coming from a poem by Bob Kaufman. Bill pegs Dante as the perfect person to protect his kids as he knows that the mane never let’s anything go; and he proves totally right especially with a late twist. From the moment that Bill is stopped on the bay Bridge with the cops ignoring his two kids sitting in the back seat in stark terror as they are inconsequential to the arrest until the climatic end, fans will read this strong suspenseful tale in one shocking sitting.

Harriet Klausner

Predatory Game-Christine Feehan

Predatory Game
Christine Feehan
Jove, Mar 2008, $7.99
ISBN: 9780515144284

Saber Wynter knew she broke her safety first clause when she remained in town long enough to date the same jerk three times; Larry even had the nerve to provide her with a “pity fuck” as he insists she is way to skinny to be desirable. On the run since she escaped the horrors of Dr. Whitney's terrorizing experiments that turned her into a female GhostWalker, Saber knows it is past time to move on even if she likes doing her radio talk show on the Wyoming station owned by wheelchair bound Jess Calhoun.

Former Navy Seal Jess lost the use of his legs on a military mission. He wants Saber with all his heart, but knows he must go slowly or she will bolt as she always does when something frightens her. He wants to know what has left her ready to run so that he can help her overcome that demon. She shields the same feelings from him, but also conceals that she a GhostWalker with special skills; ironically besides hiding his heart he masks the fact that he too is a GhostWalker. Neither is aware that someone else is watching both of them and when each slips their cover a little, they wonder if they fell in love with the enemy.

The changing relationship between the lead couple provides a refreshing sixth Ghostwalker Game tale as they first are employer-employee, become friends, fall in love, and become suspicious of one another, etc. Thus readers see deep inside the souls of Saber and Jess. In fact the characterizations lead to less action than usual, yet one of the best in Christine Feehan’s modern day military science romantic suspense saga (see DEADLY GAME and CONSPIRACY GAME).

Harriet Klausner

Renegade’s Rose-Karen Wiesner

Renegade’s Rose
Karen Wiesner
Whiskey Creek, Mar 2008, $13.95
ISBN: 9781603131346

In the paramedical hierarchy of ultra covert Network, Hunter Savage moved up rapidly to become the Head Team Leader that places him on 5th in Command Level 1 Operatives organization. Hunter’s current assignment as mission coordinator is personal as well as tactical as the enemy killed the Network’s best operative Roan Emory three years ago. The prime objective is to “retrieve” the insidious Black Pope, Rex Kovacs, which should devastate his Revolutionary Echelon Defenders (R.E.D.) Remote Command Center cell.

The mission fails due to last second personnel switches and Hunter’s sister Celine is snatched. Feeling that he failed his late predecessor, his mentor and his sibling, Hunter goes undercover as a gardener at the Kovac Mexican estate. There to his chagrin he is attracted to the Black Pope’s “Spanish Rose”, former belly dancer turned terrorist wife Tanya. Still Hunter believes she is guilty of crimes of omission ignoring the destruction of her spouse to live in a rose garden. However, he revises his opinion as he begins to fall in love and he realizes she recognizes her spouse to be a SOB abusive fiend and was seeking a way out for her and their kids, who she believes her spouse will kill them without a remorseful thought.

The sixth Incognito romantic suspense thriller stars an obsessed hero struggling to prove his worth as he has misgivings about his skills and a desperate woman in peril whose qualms about his ability to save her and her children lead to increased self doubts. The action is front and center as the attraction takes a back seat to the failed mission and the aftermath to rescue Celine, bring Tanya and her children to safety, and take down the malevolent Black Pope. Fans of suspense thrillers will fully appreciate the latest Network escapades as Karen Wiesner takes a page from Maslow’s Hierarchy as safety comes before love.

Harriet Klausner

The Genius-Jesse Kellerman

The Genius
Jesse Kellerman
Putnam, Apr 2008, $24.95
ISBN: 9780399154591

Ethan Muller owns a successful art gallery in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood, but recently his enthusiasm for his endeavor has diminished. Although he and his father no longer talk to one another, they communicate through Tony, his dad’s second in command. Tony calls Ethan to tell him that in a Queens’ slum apartment are boxes and books of ink and felt-tip drawings by a vanished genius.

Ethan goes to the wilderness where he concludes the work is brilliant as individual drawings, but the genius is that they fit together like puzzle pieces into a large piece. He takes a section and displays it at his gallery where a patron buys up the entirety of what he displays. The artist Victor Cracke vanished and none of his neighbors knew this reclusive loner or where he went. A retired cop recognizes the faces of murdered children in the exhibit he and his assistant DA daughter Susan have an interest in the Muller gallery as they want to find the artist of these portraits to perhaps crack open a forty year of cold case murder.

This is an excellent psychological suspense cozy that will haunt the audience due to the superb characterizations especially with Ethan, Susan, and the title character Cracke who makes a cameo appearance. Ethan is the reason the strong story line works as his everyman flawed personality especially a touch of larceny brings plausibility to the plot that otherwise would feel over the top albeit groovy of the 59th Street-Queensborogh Bridge. With plenty of twists and shockers, fans will wonder along with the now besieged Ethan just who is Victor and where he is.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, February 15, 2008

God's Spy-Juan Gomez-Jurado

God's Spy
Juan Gomez-Jurado
Dutton Books, Apr 2008, $24.95
ISBN: 9780452289123

With the death of Pope John Paul II, the College of Cardinals is gathering in the Vatican to vote on his successor. At about the same time as the Cardinals Concave is to begin to travel to the Holy City, Italian Department for Analysis of Violent Crime Police Detective Paola Dicanti is at a horrific murder scene, the Church of Santa Maria in Traspontina where a Cardinal was mutilated and murdered in a scene straight out of Dante.

However, the cop is stunned when former priest turned espionage agent Anthony Fowler informs her that the victim is the second Cardinal brutally murdered since the Pope died. Even more shocking is when the visiting American operative informs her who the culprit is; violent pedophilic priest Victor Karosky who escaped from the Saint Matthew Institute in Maryland. They work together praying they can prevent a third homicide.

Using real people like Bush, Negroponte, Pope John Paul II, etc adds a touch of reality to this Italian police procedural constructed around a supposedly contained sexually predatory priest stalking the cardinals. Fans will enjoy this conspiratorial thriller as image supersedes preventing homicides whether it is the Italian police, the American government or the Vatican.

Harriet Klausner

Lost Souls-Lisa Jackson

Lost Souls
Lisa Jackson
Kensington, Apr 2008, $22.00
ISBN: 9780758211835

Kristi Bentz returns to All Saints College in Baton Rouge, Louisiana to major in English. Her goal is to write true crime books; having been a victim twice with one incident leaving her in a coma. After she awakened and recovered physically, Kristi had visions in which she saw people like her father turn from color to black and white, which she interprets as meaning that person will soon die.

At the school Kristi learns that four female students have disappeared in the past two years. The police believe they are runaways, but Kristi thinks they are dead. Her former roommate mentions a vampire cult whose members wear a small vial of blood around their necks. The four who vanished were in the same classes in the English Department and also had in common parents who disowned them. Kristi, being a chip off the old block, investigates with the help of her professor and ex-lover Kay McKnight; not realizing that a clever killer has marked her for death.

Lisa Jackson writes another chilling thriller filled with action and fully developed characters, but refreshed by going to the next generation, the daughter of New Orleans Detective Rick Bentz (partner of Detective Reuben Montoya). A romantic subplot between Kristi and Jay grows slowly and more significantly does not intrude on their investigation making it feel real. Whereas the police with one exception assume the coeds are runaways, ironically readers know otherwise. With twists including who had an inkling of what was going on and spins, fans will appreciate LOST SOULS.
Harriet Klausner

Lost Souls-Lisa Jackson

Lost Souls
Lisa Jackson
Kensington, Apr 2008, $22.00
ISBN: 9780758211835

Kristi Bentz returns to All Saints College in Baton Rouge, Louisiana to major in English. Her goal is to write true crime books; having been a victim twice with one incident leaving her in a coma. After she awakened and recovered physically, Kristi had visions in which she saw people like her father turn from color to black and white, which she interprets as meaning that person will soon die.

At the school Kristi learns that four female students have disappeared in the past two years. The police believe they are runaways, but Kristi thinks they are dead. Her former roommate mentions a vampire cult whose members wear a small vial of blood around their necks. The four who vanished were in the same classes in the English Department and also had in common parents who disowned them. Kristi, being a chip off the old block, investigates with the help of her professor and ex-lover Kay McKnight; not realizing that a clever killer has marked her for death.

Lisa Jackson writes another chilling thriller filled with action and fully developed characters, but refreshed by going to the next generation, the daughter of New Orleans Detective Rick Bentz (partner of Detective Reuben Montoya). A romantic subplot between Kristi and Jay grows slowly and more significantly does not intrude on their investigation making it feel real. Whereas the police with one exception assume the coeds are runaways, ironically readers know otherwise. With twists including who had an inkling of what was going on and spins, fans will appreciate LOST SOULS.

Harriet Klausner

The Girl Who Stopped Swimming-Joshilyn Jackson

The Girl Who Stopped Swimming
Joshilyn Jackson
Grand Central, Mar 2008, $23.99
ISBN: 9780446579650

Laurel Gray Hawthorne is a nationally acclaimed quilter whose products created out of throwaways and scraps are in demand. Living with her husband video game designer David and their preadolescent daughter Shelby in Victoriana, Florida, Laurel prefers scandals not occur and skeletons remain buried. Her sister Thalia is an actress though Laurel believes drama queen is more fitting as she believes any news is good publicity while their parents live nearby in Pace.

Laurel is stunned when she sees the ghost of a little girl in her bedroom. She follows the spirit to her swimming pool in her backyard where she sees the corpse of young Molly. The police investigate and determine an unfortunate accident occurred. However, Molly lingers and soon Laurel begins to believe Shelby and her friend Bet played an active role in the drowning. At about the same time Thalia comes home to stay with them for now only to open a thirteen year old secret involving the death of her Uncle Marty, whose house Laurel and her family reside in.

This is a terrific modern day southern family drama that enables the audience to see deep into the secrets that Laurel prefers interred under a cloak of respectability as she ahs come a long way from her impoverish roots. Each of the key players is fully developed and brings hidden agendas and motivations to hiding or revealing the goings-on. Fans who appreciate a strong regional character driven tale will want to learn why THE GIRL STOPPED SWIMMING.

Harriet Klausner

Playing in the Dark-David Rivera, Jr.

Playing in the Dark
David Rivera, Jr.
Strebor (Atria), Feb 2008, $13.00
ISBN: 9781593091811

His brothers all failed and had to leave Sodom as part of their bet. Bereft believes he learned from their mistakes and now knows how to tempt Lot so he falls from grace in spite of this man’s goodness. He sexually toys with Lot’s two daughters, believing they will provide insight into winning his wager. However, before he can complete his quest, the Angels of God attack the city leaving him buried in its ruins.

Thousands of years later, NYPD Detective Chemah Rivers accompanies his live in lover Michelle Thomas to Israel where she will receive controversial treatment not allowed in the States that might enable her to regain her vision. The blind stand up comedienne has hopes and fears while Chemah worries about her, his daughter Tatsuya from his ex-wife and his son Hero from a third woman. Local police inspector Yankow asks Chemah to look at five corpses arranged like an upside down cross with the rest of the evidence making less sense as a clothes model is killed with her bare hands and a deadly military martial arts instructor is a victim as well. He offers his help before returning to New York with Michelle, who needs additional treatments. Chemah is unaware that Bereft has returned and stalks him as the demon sees a Lot like Goodness in the cop. As people die on the plane and in the city, someone looking like his former wife kidnaps his daughter.

The third Chemah Rivers suspense thriller (see HARLEM’S DRAGON and STREET SWEEPER; neither read by me) is a fascinating tale that deftly takes a biblical serial killing demon and places it inside a modern day New York police procedural. Chemah is fabulous as he struggles to be there for Michelle whose fears over seeing and not seeing begin to overwhelm their relationship until the bigger crisis involving his daughter occurs. However, Bereft owns the tale as he hops bodies with a touch and leaves his calling card of arranged broken bones behind in his path of mayhem and destruction.

Harriet Klausner

Night Life-Caitlin Kittredge

Night Life
Caitlin Kittredge
St. Martin’s, Mar 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 9780312948290

Nocturne City Police Detective Luna Wilder, a werewolf, leads the investigation into the mutilated murder of a prostitute. Luna knows no one besides her cares about some lowlife Jane Doe hooker even though dark magic was involved. After learning the victim’s name is Lilia, Luna finds clues leading to were-biker Dmitri Sandovsky as the killer.

When a second murder occurs similar to the first with dark magic again, Luna is stunned to find the son of the District Attorney at the crime scene. He being an untouchable and she being a werewolf leads to her suspension. However, a forced leave of absence does not prevent Luna from investigating because she knows the killer is not finished as there is more to these homicides than meets the eye. At the same time alpha werewolf Dmitri is fuming as he knew both dead females and he plans to kill their predator. He and Luna team up trying to track down the culprit.

NIGHT LIFE is a tense gritty police procedural urban fantasy that grips the audience from the onset by insuring the paranormal species seem genuine; part of achieving this is an X-Man like prejudice that Luna receives from mortals. The investigation is entertaining as it provides the duality of chasing after a serial killer while also taking the reader on a tour of Nocturne City. Caitlin Kittredge provides a dark crime caper set in an urban center in which humans and supernaturals distrusting co-exist side by side.

Harriet Klausner

Night Life-Caitlin Kittredge

Night Life
Caitlin Kittredge
St. Martin’s, Mar 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 9780312948290

Nocturne City Police Detective Luna Wilder, a werewolf, leads the investigation into the mutilated murder of a prostitute. Luna knows no one besides her cares about some lowlife Jane Doe hooker even though dark magic was involved. After learning the victim’s name is Lilia, Luna finds clues leading to were-biker Dmitri Sandovsky as the killer.

When a second murder occurs similar to the first with dark magic again, Luna is stunned to find the son of the District Attorney at the crime scene. He being an untouchable and she being a werewolf leads to her suspension. However, a forced leave of absence does not prevent Luna from investigating because she knows the killer is not finished as there is more to these homicides than meets the eye. At the same time alpha werewolf Dmitri is fuming as he knew both dead females and he plans to kill their predator. He and Luna team up trying to track down the culprit.

NIGHT LIFE is a tense gritty police procedural urban fantasy that grips the audience from the onset by insuring the paranormal species seem genuine; part of achieving this is an X-Man like prejudice that Luna receives from mortals. The investigation is entertaining as it provides the duality of chasing after a serial killer while also taking the reader on a tour of Nocturne City. Caitlin Kittredge provides a dark crime caper set in an urban center in which humans and supernaturals distrusting co-exist side by side.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Whispers Of The Bayou- Mindy Stearns Clark

Whispers Of The Bayou
Mindy Stearns Clark
Harvest House, Jan 2008, $13.99
ISBN: 9780736918794

Manhattan art restorer Miranda Miller knows she should rejoice in her life as she lives comfortably and her husband Nathan and Tess, their preschool daughter adore her; yet she feels depressed and though she tires to hide it tries to maintain a distance from her loved ones.

When she has an opportunity to get away from home for a while, she jumps at the chance. She rushes to Louisiana to go over with her Aunt Janet’s lawyer the estate she will one day inherit from her. However, in New York where AJ as Miranda calls her has lived for three decades, her aunt worries about her niece returning home for the first time since the trauma that changed her life; the horror that her mind buried because the memories are too painful. Meanwhile someone else also wants to insure Miranda does not recall what she knows even willing to resort to murder to keep the past buried.

The key to WHISPERS OF THE BAYOU, a tense suspense thriller is Miranda whose inner soul battles between a need to know and a need for flight. The story line grips the audience from the moment that Miranda returns to the Bayou and never slows down as the tension mounts in anticipation of bad things happening to her, which of course they do. Psychological thriller fans will enjoy Mindy Stearns Clark’s superb intense tale.

Harriet Klausner

The God of War-Chris Stewart

The God of War
Chris Stewart
Dunne, Apr 2008, $24.95
ISBN: 0312289561

The United States Air Force is euphoric with the latest jet fighter, the F-38. Known by the military as the Ares, no aircraft is nears it capability as the F-38 can locate and identity upwards of fifty-eight flying objects at a distance of several hundred miles and shoot all of them out of the sky before a person can blink.

In front of a large crowd attending the Paris Air Show at Le Bourget Airport, two F-38s are put on display. Everyone watching is stunned by the magnificence of this fighter jet as it soars over the adulating assembly. All seems perfect as the President, his National Security Advisor, and the Air Force brass pat each other on the back until suddenly they all realize the jet has run off as something goes deadly wrong.

THE GOD OF WAR is a superb adrenalin pumping High Noon in the sky as U.S. Air Force Major "Jesse" James is assigned the role of “Snoopy” vs. the unbeatable “Red Baron”. However although Jess is fully developed and even has the required love interest to add intrigue and soften him, the star of this tale is the F-38. Conspiracy buffs will appreciate flying with Jesse and his opponents as Chris Stewart’s fine thriller is at its best when everyone is flying; on the other hand the ground is filled with clutter starting with POTUS and his stereotypical untrusting advisor.

Harriet Klausner

Hell's Bay-James Hall

Hell's Bay
James Hall
St. Martin’s, Feb 2008
ISBN: 9780312359584

Leaving his peaceful Key Largo, semi-hermit Thorn is helping his friend Rusty establish a fishing oasis for tourists in the Everglades. However, he is taken aback when Rusty’s affluent client John Milligan insists Thorn is his nephew. Preferring to ignore his so called DNA family, Thorn finds himself sucked into the drama of the drowning of the family matriarch billionaire Abigail Bates.

Abigail’s granddaughter insists she was murdered, but almost everyone else believes she died from a fortunate accident. Thorn asks his police friend Sugarman to investigate. Meanwhile an angry war veteran wants the Bates clan dead as she blames Abigail for making her billions with no regard for the environment especially of others; she holds the entire clan including Thorn culpable in the deaths of her spouse and her soon to be dead son. Cut off at HELL’S BAY in the Everglades, Thorn may be the only person capable of keeping them alive against deadly avenging predators planning to turn the Bates brood into alligator bait.

The latest Thorn thriller (see UNDER COVER OF DAYLIGHT, GONE WILD and TROPICAL FREEZE) is an action-packed tale that works because readers will feel transported to the isolation and remoteness of the Everglades. The story line is obviously people trying to survive against much more powerful adversaries who have isolated the hero and others from obtaining assistance. However, there is also a secondary serious theme re the opportunity costs between competing demands of economic growth and protecting the environment. The bottom line is blood may be thicker than water, but it flows freely when you are shot as Thorn learns with this tense one sitting suspense.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Assassins at Ospreys- R.T. Raichev

Assassins at Ospreys
R.T. Raichev
Soho, Apr 2008, $22.95
ISBN 9781569475058

Mystery writer Antonia Darcy and her husband Major Hugh Payne attend a literary gala in Hay-on-Wye. At the festival they meet an odd couple, wheelchair bound seductive Beatrice “Bee” Ardleigh and her companion sober Ingrid Delmar. They enjoy the flirtatious sexy Bee, but find Ingrid overly prim and proper.

A few months later, Bee invites the couple to visit her at her home Oxfordshire they accept. In Oxfordshire, Antonia and Hugh learn Bee has surprisingly married and Ingrid pretends to be Bee while seeing a dying neighbor; whose will bequests his home Ospreys, known in the region as “the secret house of death”, to the National Trust. However, the abode lives up to its reputation when someone murders a priest there leading to Antonia and Hugh investigating the crime..

The third Darcy-Payne mystery (see THE DEATH OF CORRINE and THE HUNT FOR SONYA DUFRETTE) is a fabulous whodunit that starts off innocently but soon spins into a murder investigation. The story line is filled with twists and fascinating support characters, who break stereotypes especially the sex siren Bee. Fans of an old fashion entertaining investigative thriller will want to read ASSASSINS AT OSPREYS and its predecessors as this is a solid series.

Harriet Klausner

Death, Deceit, & Some Smooth Jazz-Claudia Mair Burney

Death, Deceit, & Some Smooth Jazz
Claudia Mair Burney
Howard (Simon & Schuster), Apr 2008, $12.99
ISBN: 9781416551911

Police Lieutenant Jazz Brown decides, in spite of a traumatic marriage and divorce, to try a relationship with forensic psychologist Dr. Amanda bell Brown. One night without warning, he knocks on her door to confess he did something terribly wrong by being with his ex-wife Kate who left him for another woman. Before he can finish his explanation, Bell’s sister Carly calls to tell her to vacate the house immediately.

Carly says that she is at Jazz’s loft with a dead Kate. When Bell gets to the crime scene, her first reaction is things are too perfect as if someone arranged everything to implicate Jazz. When she returns to her home, Jazz is there to finish explaining what he knows. The police look at him as the only suspect and DNA tests affirm their belief; he is arrested, but let out on bond. Bell is determined to clear his name, but someone watches her every step to insure she fails.

An Amanda Bell mystery (see MURDER, MAYHEM, AND A FINE MAN) is a treat to read because the heroine seems so human with her many foibles and insecurities starting with her disbelief that a hunk like Jazz loves her. Jazz has made many enemies even inside his precinct as he feels enforcement of the law is a responsibility that a cop must not abuse and from the criminals he has sent to prison. Thus Bell’s quest seems Herculean. Claudia Mair Burney provides a compelling whodunit.

Harriet Klausner

MIA-Michael Allen Dymmoch

Michael Allen Dymmoch
Dunne, Apr 2008, $24.95
ISBN: 9780312373719

Only a few months have past since Rhiann’s husband Mickey died and it is unsurprising that she still grieves her loss. Her sixteen year old son Jimmy by her first husband Billy wants to know more about his paternal grandparents the Wildings. Rhiann had nothing to do with them since they treated her with disdain. Jimmy finds some letters and decides to visit them.

Jimmy meets Beth and falls hard for the girl who is the same age as he is. They hide their relationship because her father would be furious. When he spends the weekend with Beth, Rhiann accepts this. Besides she has her own problems to confront including a police officer stalking her and a new neighbor John Devlin interested in her. Unknown to Rhiann, John has a secret agenda in which he hides his true identify from Rhiann as he knows the impact will prove devastating to her, Jimmy and Beth’s dad.

Secrets that have been hidden for years surface with each character coping differently to the revelations. Interestingly, since the stalker is a cop his peers reject Rhiann’s accusations. Rotating points of view enables the audience to know what motivates the prime players, but also somewhat slows down the pace of a suspense laden family drama filled with plausible surprising twists as one shocker after another is revealed.

Harriet Klausner

Sepulchre-Kate Mosse

Kate Mosse
Putnam, Apr 2008, $25.95
ISBN 9780399154676

In 1891 siblings Leonie and Anatole Vernier leave Paris to visit their Tante Isolde at her Domain de la Cade estate in the mountainous south France. At her widow aunt’s place, Leonie overhears the villagers’ whispers of the devil’s abode and finds an interesting journal in which her late uncle studied the occult and mentions a special tarot card deck and a Visigoth tomb. Fascinated the teen searches for both while unknown to her someone wants to kill her and her loved ones while she begins to worriedly wonder why her Tante invited them.

In 2008 biographer Meredith Martin seeks to complete her latest book on renowned French composer Debussy when she finds a replica of the tarot cards that Leonie sought. What is frightening is that some of the cards contain pictures that eerily look like her. She makes inquiries which lead her to Domain de la Cade converted to a hotel; yet like over a century ago hosts a battle between the forces of good and evil.

Although too many passive sidebar discussions slow down the overall plot, fans will enjoy this interesting horror thriller as the good vs. evil war occurs twice due to the linking tarot cards. Readers will feel the changes in outlook of the lead females of each era as they start off with youthful enthusiastic curiosity that changes to outright fear; their identical reactions make for a fine but cluttered thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Small Favor-Jim Butcher

Small Favor
Jim Butcher
Roc, Apr 2008, $23.95
ISBN: 9780451461896

Finally a respite for Chicago's only openly practicing professional wizard Harry Dresden as no one has tried to kill in quite a while. However, Harry’s serenity abruptly ends when the Queen of the Winter Court of the Sidhe and Queen of Air and Darkness Mab arrives to call in his IOU. Harry prayed this day would never come when he asked her for a favor years ago, but he now owes the ever dangerous Mab two favors.

Harry is relieved when all Mab asks of him is to rescue crime boss John Marcone, who was recently kidnapped. He figures how hard this can be as dealing with a mundane mob killers seems easier than some of the supernatural soul stealers he normally contends with. Still he is confused why Mab wants this done and bewildering him further she does not know why. Harry investigates to understand better the scenario as he finds it difficult to fathom how John was abducted from a highly guarded safehouse. He asks his friend Michael Carpenter, father of his apprentice Molly, to help him, but the “Knight of the Sword” hesitates as he distrusts Harry since the wizard was exposed to a curse. However, Harry soon realizes that by abetting Mab, he has brought onto him and his friends, the most powerful adversary of the Queen of the Winter Court, the Queen of Summer.

Dresden is at his best in this private investigative urban fantasy as his R&R ends with paying his debt. Fans will appreciate the hero as the favor seems simple enough, but soon spirals into soul threatening danger that would have hard core sleuths like Marlowe peeing in their pants. Dresden’s inquiries are cleverly done to set the stage for the usual lethal fantasy spin. Readers will relish Jim Butcher’s latest tour of Chicago’s underground as the sunny skies abruptly twist into deadly tornadoes.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

A Touch of Grace-Lauraine Snelling

A Touch of Grace
Lauraine Snelling
Bethany House, Mar 2008, $13.99
ISBN: 9780764228117

In 1900 Blessing, North Dakota eighteen years old Grace Knutson was born deaf. However, her mother refused to allow her daughter to wallow in silence. Instead she learned and taught anyone interested how to use sign language. Grace complemented that by also learning how to read lips.

Grace has always been in love with Toby Valders, who works at the local mill when he is not in a brawl; she is also his only friend. His haughty mother feels strongly that a deaf mute is not good enough for her son. Affluent New Yorker Jonathan Gould comes to Blessing at the invitation of Grace’s aunt to learn first hand life on a farm. He is unsure he will survive the difficult rugged lifestyle except for that fact that he wants Grace, who inspires him to be all he can be.

The third Blessing inspiration historical saga is an entertaining tale that enables the reader to vividly see life on the Northern Plains at the turn of the previous century. Especially enlightening is observing the hard often harsh lifestyle through the eyes of big city Jonathan as he provides a fresh perspective how difficult it can be. Through the hard winters that embellish the isolation, faith in the Lord keeps the Knutson brood and their neighbors going and ready to face anything. This is a fine entry, but references to the past as described in the previous novels (see SOPHIE’S DILEMMA and A PROMISE FOR ELLIE) behooves fans to read them first so as to understand their context. Still this is a delightful story as fans will wonder if Grace will stay inside her comfort zone (Toby), take a risk on the new player on the farm (Jonathan), or neither.

Harriet Klausner

The Price -Alexandra Sokoloff

The Price
Alexandra Sokoloff
St. Martin’s, Feb 2008, $23.95
ISBN: 0312357516

Will Sullivan has the inside track to becoming the next governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Everything is going perfect until his daughter Sydney is diagnosed with a malignant tumor. While his child is at Briarwood Medical Center, he displays a stiff New England upper lip to the public hiding his pain; however his wife Joanna is so despondent Will fears for her sanity.

However, Will soon finds strange HARROWING happenings at Briarwood that he cannot comprehend. He is ignorant to the real residents of this medical center where the supernatural reign. As he considers committing his spouse and ending his campaign, a stranger visits him with information about the patients past and present of Briarwood that explains the unexplainable that he sees whenever he is at the medical center. Will begins to wonder about his own sanity especially as Sydney seems to miraculously begin to recover.

THE PRICE is a fascinating thriller that will have the audience pondering supernatural horror or psychological suspense. The key players especially the Sullivan family feels fully developed so that Will wonders if his wife is insane and he suffers from dementia perhaps caused by a stress while also putting up a public front as the campaign must go on at all costs. Fans will appreciate this deep HARROWING tale mindful of Dean Koontz.

Harriet Klausner

Mafiya-Charlie Stella

Charlie Stella
Pegasus, Jan 2008, $25.00
ISBN: 9781933648651

Las Vegas prostitute Agnes Lynn decides she needs to move on and find a new way to earn a living. She leaves Nevada and her sordid hooker lifestyle to start fresh in New York City where her long time best friend Rachel Wilson resides.

Rachel supplements her income to pay for the expensive exclusive private school her two children attend as a high priced hooker. However, a trick turns ugly and Rachel vanishes; eventually she comes ashore in Brooklyn. Lynn is outraged as the police seem at best useless at worst bribed by wealthy sponsors. She investigates seeking vengeance against the person who brutalized, mutilated and murdered Rachel. She and her boyfriend former cop Jack Russo quickly learn the Russian Mafiya gave Rachel a role in a snuff film in which she was killed.

MAFIYA is a fascinating crime thriller starring an intrepid reformed bad girl and her experienced partner against the Russian mob. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Rachel’s body lands in Brooklyn and never slows down as Lynn and Jack work their quest. Although the Russian mob seems inept and the plot is not new (for instance Bronson’s Death Wish), Charlie Stella fans will enjoy this entertaining tale.

Harriet Klausner

Murder, Mayhem, and a Fine Man-Claudia Mair Burney

Murder, Mayhem, and a Fine Man
Claudia Mair Burney
Howard (Simon & Schuster), Feb 19 2008, $12.99
ISBN: 9781416551942

In Michigan, Carly Brown treats her younger sister forensic psychologist Dr. Amanda Bell Brown to dinner at Fishbones on the latter’s thirty-fifth birthday. However, the medical examiner is on call so when she receives a page to come to a murder scene, Carly takes Amanda with her. At the crime scene, Carly introduces Amanda to police detective Jazz Brown (no relation to the two sisters), who leads the investigation. They are attracted to one another and he invites her inside for her opinion. Used to working at jails and having never met a corpse, she still provides interesting insight to the double homicides before puking on Jazz’s shoes.

Jazz learns that Bell, a theologian, has investigated toxic churches where nasty cults surface. He asks for her help and she takes him to her mentor septuagenarian Dr. Mason “Pop” May who insists he is the one for her. As Jazz and Bell work on the case, they begin to fall in love, but he insists no relationship can occur between them; he offers no explanation except that he is celibate. As they argue and psychoanalyze one another, Bell goes out on her own frightening Jazz once he realizes what she is doing.

This is a fine police procedural due to the fascinating lead couple as each struggle with desire and rejection. The investigation into what seems a cult murder mystery is cleverly designed so that the audience follows the clues, but also gain insight into Bell and Jazz. Although his celibacy vow is invoked too often, fans will appreciate this strong tale in which murder and mayhem converge on religion and love.

Harriet Klausner

Guilty-Karen Robards

Karen Robards
Putnam, Apr 2008, $24.95
ISBN 9780399154614

Philadelphia Assistant District Attorney Kate White prosecutes her first case in court when embarrassingly her cellphone chimes. Judge Michael Moran “the moron” tells her to shut it now; Kate worries her young son Ben needs her when the shots are fired by the defendant “Little” Julie Soto. Moran is dead with his head blown off and two other prisoners join in the melee. Soto abducts Kate to allegedly use as a hostage while escaping.

Kate manages to escape while believing she killed Soto in doing so. However, she is not free as someone stalks her and Ben even breaking into their home. Philadelphia Police Detective Tom Braga leads the official investigation into the courtroom murder and its aftermath. He thinks Kate’s escape was planned by her captors and that Soto lives. As he tries to keep the single mom and her son safe, Tom begins to connect the dots leading back to when 1994 Baltimore when fifteen years old Katrina Kominski was part of the foster care system.

This exciting urban thriller works because the audience believes that fully developed Kate and Ben are in deep trouble, and that Tom feels a deep need to protect them from Soto and who knows who else. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Kate’s cellphone rings a Pussycat Dolls tune and never slows down until the final biting confrontation. Karen Robards provides a strong entertaining romantic suspense.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, February 11, 2008

Lethal Legend-Kathy Lynn Emerson

Lethal Legend
Kathy Lynn Emerson
Pemberley, Apr 2008, $17.95
ISBN 9780977191352

In 1888 Maine Dr. Ben Northcote travels across Penobscot Bay to Keep Island to help three men suffering from poisoning. When he fails to return home or send a message to his fiancée Diana Spaulding, she becomes concerned as that is so out of character for the considerate Ben. Adding to her fears is that she has been told Keep Island is a dangerous place.

Still the intrepid Diana ignores the warning and her trepidation; she travels to Keep Island where an archeological dig led by archeologist Serena Dunbar near the home of wealthy Graham Somener, is occurring. There, Diana finds Ben looking into a questionable death that the sheriff, Graham and Serena want kept quiet to avoid negative publicity. Realizing that Graham and Serena is a couple and fearing illegal activities perhaps fraud but also likely murder, Diana and Ben investigate the goings on at the dig site.

LETHAL LEGEND is an entertaining late nineteenth century regional cozy starring an intrepid heroine who joins her beloved as they try to uncover the truth only to meet official obstacles from the law, the property owner and the lead archeologist. Their conspiracy only encourages Ben and Diana to seek what happened on Keep island. Fans of the series (see DEADLIER THAN THE PEN, FATAL AS A FALLEN WOMAN and LETHAL LEGEND) will appreciate the latest entry in the stupendous Spaulding saga.

Harriet Klausner

DeKok and the Somber Nude-Baantjer

DeKok and the Somber Nude
Speck, Jan 2008, $14.00
ISBN: 9781933108162

On a rainy day, Kristel van Daalen with two A’s comes to Amsterdam’s Warmoes Street police station to report her nineteen years old cousin Nanette Bogaard with a double A is missing. Kristel explains to Inspectors DeKok and Vledders that she and Nanette co-own the Ye Three Roses floral shop, which they bought with money they inherited. She further explains that Nanette is an artistic free spirit, but always came home to the apartment they share above the store. Kristel believes Nanette is dead.

Vledders thinks it is too soon to assume foul play, but DeKok has a hunch that something bad has occurred to Nanette. They begin making inquiries starting with a spawned reporter Barry Weilen that lead to Kristel’s addict brother, a “Somber Nude” painting done by Pierre Popko and aging paramour Staaten and his adult son. They see a picture of a mesmerizing serpent wearing an angel’s garb before the dismembered corpse of Nanette is found in a garbage dump. The now murder investigation keeps tilting like a pin ball game that flickers back and forth between anyone who was in Nanette’s sphere.

This is a fabulous DeKok mystery once readers accept the inspectors take on the missing person case (most will agree with Vledders that its pouring rain, less than 24 hours, and she is nineteen). The story line is driven by DeKok’s investigation as each new clue he uncovers seems to open more questions rather than resolving any of them. Fans of this superb Dutch police procedural series will gain immense pleasure from the latest translation.

Harriet Klausner

Mummy Dearest-Joan Hess

Mummy Dearest
Joan Hess
St. Martin’s, Apr 2008, $24.95
ISBN: 9780312363604

It has been a long road with many complicating detours, but Farberville, Arkansas bookseller Claire Malloy and Lieutenant Peter Rosen tie the knot. Peter disappeared after the wedding, going to Egypt on business where he will meet up with his bride for the honeymoon in Luxor. Claire understands her Peter will vanish periodically because he works with Egyptian authorities in connection with a newly formed terrorist organization.

Also on the honeymoon are Claire’s seventeen year old daughter Caron and her friend Inez. The three ladies are quickly absorbed into the expatriate community, of who many are not what they seem as they have hidden agendas that arouse Claire’s suspicions. The girls believe a mustached man with a scar is following them. They tell Claire and Peter that they were late because they eluded this stalker. While sightseeing, one of the female visitors is kidnapped by men on horses; her lover persuades Claire to help him find her, but he disappears too. Soon expatriates are killed allegedly linked to an undiscovered tomb. Claire investigates with a need to know what is going on amidst the tourist trap.

The latest Claire Malloy book is a delightful, charming and hilarious amateur sleuth tale that refreshes the series by moving the heroine from the States to Egypt where she and readers meet an eccentric cast. Armchair travelers will thoroughly enjoy the tour of Luxor, but make no mistake it is Claire’s investigation that carries the plot. Although why the student asked Claire to make inquires seems odd, fans will appreciate this charming complicated cozy as no one except Claire and her retinue is what they purport to be; thus much of the fun is figuring out just who each of these masqueraders truly is.

Harriet Klausner

Kill Whitey-Brian Keene

Kill Whitey
Brian Keene
Cemetery Dance, Apr 2008, $25.00
ISBN: 9781587671784

Globe Package Service employee Larry Gibson is a loner who does not have much of a life. He works four hours a day at sixteen dollars an hour with health benefits before taxes. He has no close friends, but occasionally hangs out with co-workers Darryl, Jesse and Yul. They go to the Odessa, a popular strip joint owned by Whitey where Larry sees Sondra dancing and immediately lusts for her.

He goes back with and without his co-workers as often as he can afford to as she is always there. One night she fails to appear; the owner sends people for her. Larry accompanied by Darryl finds Sondra hiding under his car. The trio goes to Larry’s apartment where she explains that she is pregnant and the father Whitney wants her to abort the fetus. Jesse who stayed at Odessa is tortured into revealing where Larry lives. They kill Darryl and hit Larry, but he escapes with Sondra. Whitey survives due to being a descendent of Rasputin. No matter how many bullets Larry put in Whitey he refuses to die. Larry knows he must rescue Sondra, but is clueless how to do it.

This supernatural thriller would make a fantastic horror movie as everything seems normal until a spin into Kreuger-Jason territory as there is a lot of violence that is appropriate to the fast-paced story line. Readers will pity Larry whose “significant other” is Webster the cat until he meets Sondra. Brian Keene provides a strong horror thriller that will please his fans.

Harriet Klausner