Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Sleepwalkers-Paul Grossman

The Sleepwalkers
Paul Grossman
St. Martin’s, Oct 12 2010, $24.99
ISBN: 9780312601904

In 1932 Berlin police detective Willi Krauss solves the notorious Child Eater serial killer case, which brings him a modicum of fame though the power hungry Nazis are unhappy about this as he is a Jew. On his next assignment Krauss investigates the strange death of a woman floating in the River Spree. The victim’s head was shaved and her fibula surgically removed from one leg only to be replanted in the other limb.

Because of his recent fame, Weimar Republic President General Paul von Hindenberg assigns Krauss to look into the disappearance of a young Bulgarian princess who went out to purchase cigarettes, but never came home. At the same time as his workload grows, he has no time to sit Shiva for his recently deceased wife nor spend time with their children who are staying with their aunt. Between von Hindenberg and the Nazis, Krauss struggles to solve his difficult cases.

This engaging German historical police procedural contains a strong sense of how much enthusiasm the Nazis felt and the fear they placed in their rival, adversaries, and chosen scapegoats. Krauss is a strong lead character whose religion places a scarlet letter on him as far as the Nazis are concerned as they would rather have the Child Eater still terrorizing people than have a Jew solve the case. Although some of the key support characters are stereotypical and unnecessary (including an apparent love interest) as they detract from the entertaining plot by causing questionable character contradictions, fans will enjoy visiting Berlin at a pivotal wind of change sweeps Germany.

Harriet Klausner

South Austin Vampire-Russ Hall

South Austin Vampire
Russ Hall
Five Star, Oct 15 2010, $25.95
ISBN: 9781594148668

In Austin, Devil’s Due music scene owner Owen Peasey hires private investigator Travis Treegrow to learn what is bothering his star attraction, singer-songwriter Lola Pillaccherosi. However, before Trav gets very far he finds the local star dead; eerily her body contains no blood and her neck has two puncture teeth marks that remind him of a Jose Doe corpse lying pale in the morgue.

Putting aside somewhat his volunteer inquiry into several thefts that Trav is doing for Sister Consuelo he and his former girlfriend Texas Hill Country peace officer Cassie make inquiries into the homicide. They soon begin to uncover a trail of avarice in which the clues lead to vampire cult leader Levi Damocles with lethal connections to the drug and human trafficking mobs.

The second Blue-eyed Indian mystery (see Bones of the Rain) is an engaging Austin whodunit in which the city’s music scene and the accompanying underbelly make for a fun atmospheric investigation. Although the vampiric angle never quite seems blood harrowing enough as it pales in comparison to the city tour, fans will enjoy Trav’s Texas two-step turf trot.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A Butterfly in Flame-Nicholas Kilmer

A Butterfly in Flame
Nicholas Kilmer
Poisoned Pen, Nov 2 2010, $24.95
ISBN 9781590587911

Near Boston, the Stillton Academy has financial woes. However, a scandal also surfaces when instructor Morgan Flower and first year student Missy Tutunjian disappear apparently together from the North Shore art school; she of the bad romantic poetry happens to be the daughter of the largest donor at a time when money is tight and accreditation is critical and on the line.

Two school trustees Abe Baum and Parker Stillton visit art collector Clay Reed to ask for his help. He asks his employee private investigator Fred Taylor to find the runaways. Fred pretends to be Flower’s replacement at the academy so that he can work undercover. He talks with staff and students only to learn the one common theme is a universal loathing of President Liz Harmony. When Liz's predecessor, Rodney Somerfest is found dead stark naked on a nearby beach, Fred interrogates the president who refuses to respond to his questions and the only famous alumni painter Basil Houel.

The latest Fred Taylor “animal” art mystery (see Madonna of the Apes and Man with a Squirrel) is a great entry as the sleuth works an art school disappearance and murder. The story line is fast-paced with a terrific twist. Fans of the series will enjoy Fred’s lectures as he seeks motives beyond inane poetry that would be subpar for bubblegum rock and roll.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Damage Done-Hilary Davidson

The Damage Done
Hilary Davidson
Forge, Sep 28 2010, $24.99
ISBN: 9780765326973

Travel journalist Lily Moore is in Spain when she learns that her drug addict younger sister Claudia apparently drowned in a bathtub. She is stunned as this is on the same day their mom committed suicide years ago. Hysterical Lily leaves Europe for Manhattan.

Lily goes to the morgue to identify the body only the corpse is not Claudia. Apparently the dead stranger has impersonated Claudia for months. NYPD detectives Norah Renfrew and "Brux" Bruxton lead the investigation in which the only suspect is the missing Claudia, but anxious Lily searches for her sibling too. Her former boyfriend wealthy Martin Sklar keeps pushing her for a second chance, Lily finds out that Claudia had hooked up with a recently deceased pseudo-psychologist whose tendency was to get unprofessionally too close with his female patients.

Although The Damage Done contains two interrelated strong mysteries, the story line is character driven by mostly Lily. Her need to find her sister brings a humanizing genuineness to the whodunit; especially the amateur sleuth elements as she searches irregardless of her own safety and in spite of the sibling estrangement. Readers will want Moore thrillers like this one from Hilary Davidson.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Smooth Operator-Risqué

Smooth Operator
One World (Ballantine), Sep 28 2010, $14.00
ISBN: 9780345504326

In Holmby Hills, California resides Lyfe, a black hunk who knows he has come a long way from his Crenshaw and UPS delivery days to becoming one of the most powerful business moguls in the United States. Any time his ego gets to super status, his wife Payton reminds him that behind almost every powerful man is a woman as she brought him from street driver to boardroom driver.

Arielle “Arri” Askew is a secretary, but needs to make real money to escape Brooklyn with her five years old nephew Zion who she raises while her sister drug addicted Samara seeks her next hit. To be at home at night with Zion and bring in money, Arri runs the Internet sex show in which she provides live bare skin web performances for her clients. She avoids any male relationship ever since the New Year’s Eve incident with her beloved Ian when she learned he had a wife with a gun. However, Arri meets a real Smooth Operator when she begins working for Lyfe. As they begin an affair and fall in love, Payton plans to destroy both of them and is prepared to use the kid as her tool.

This heated Risqué street Noir proves William Congreve is right when he said in The Mourning Bride: "Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned; Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned." Character driven by the relationship between Mr. California and Ms. New York, readers will relish this powerful tense erotic thriller as Arri wonders if love is “déjà vu, all over again” (Yogi).

Harriet Klausner

Blond Run-Jim Michael Hansen

Blond Run
Jim Michael Hansen
Thriller Publishing Group, Nov 15 2010, $13.95
ISBN: 9780981999395

In San Francisco, the SJK serial killer has the city panicked. Thirtyish SFPD homicide detective Trane Ravenwood believes the killer is Condor, but lacks proof. He illegally sneaks into the Nob Hill Victorian home of his prime suspect to find files on the victims starting with Paris Zephyr and the six other females, but no hard evidence. Upstairs in the mansion he sees a telescope, which he looks through only to have his quarter Apache and three fourth other blood boil over with what he witness between two women in a “dungeon”.

As he struggles to take down this serial killer and how to handle what he saw, Trane knows the next SJK victim will be found dead in a few days. Complicating matters for Trane is when his department creates a SNAFU in the Grayson fiasco as the chief and a detective were fired leaving Trane in charge. He has to conceal how he knows Condor is the killer if he does not want to join his predecessor and another detective while he also meets the dungeon mistress, attorney Trance St. Croix.

One of the best police procedural writers on the market today Jim Michael Hansen provides a great Run tale that is so dissimilar from the super Coventry “Law” cases, fans will assume a different author wrote them. Ravenwood does things that Coventry would never do, which enhances the exciting story line. Readers and the cop believe Condor is SJK, but to prove it in court after the Grayson flop is going to be tough. St. Croix adds a refreshing but needed element to what is a fantastic Lombard Street crooked twisted mean streets of San Francisco noir.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Dead Spy Running-Jon Stock

Dead Spy Running
Jon Stock
Dunne, Nov 2010, $25.99
ISBN 9780312644765

Thirty-five thousand runners are testing for the London Marathon. Two of them work for M16 though Agent Daniel is on suspension at full pay; the other is girlfriend Leila who worries about her lover’s mental health since his father’s death. However, just prior to the start, another operative Myers called Leila with a warning that electronic chatter says something is going to happen at the event.

About fifty minutes into the race, Daniel notices an Asian runner wearing a belt who seems out of place. He further sees two obvious American Secret service agents with another participant who he thinks is the U.S. Ambassador Munroe. He realizes the Asian is wearing a bomb. He learns the Asian is Pradeep from India and terrorists kidnapped his son with the admonition do the mission if you want your offspring to live. The bomb is defused, but Daniel is under suspicion as a terrorist.

Dead Spy Running is a superb espionage thriller, which contains the usual suspects of foreign agents and internal moles. However, what makes the story line super is rivalry between M16 and the CIA, M16 and M15, and the CIA and the Secret Service as each agency fails to work together, but instead prefers front dog status even if it causes problems for their respective country. Fans will appreciate Jon Stock’s strong run.

Harriet Klausner

Negative Image-Vicki Delany

Negative Image
Vicki Delany
Poisoned Pen, Nov 2 2010, $24.95
ISBN 9781590587881

Along with the initial arrival of spring in Trafalgar, British Columbia comes renowned photographer Rudolph Steiner. He plans to do a shoot on mountain tourism, but has a hidden agenda. However, whatever his real reason for coming to this mountain resort town, someone shoots him in the back of his head in his room at the historic Hudson House Hotel.

Maid Rachel Kowalski finds the corpse. As soon as the body is identified, Trafalgar City police sergeant John Winters recuses himself from the inquiry as his wife former model Eliza and the victim Steiner knew each other intimately at one time. Under the antagonistic leadership of Royal Canadian Mounted Police Detective Madison, Constable Molly Smith investigates the homicide, but soon finds a horde of visitors with motives including family, employees, and rivals. There is even one local suspect Eliza. At the same time Molly’s dad goes to the hospital for surgery due to an accident, someone stalks her, and Smith considers a job in Toronto.

The latest Trafalgar Canadian police procedural (see In the Shadow of the Glacier, Valley of the Lost and Winter of Secrets) is a great whodunit as Molly works the case with her caring teacher replaced by an odious curmudgeon while facing two personal crises. The story line is fast-paced from start to finish, but the tale is owned by the town and Molly as Vicki Delaney provides a wonderful regional murder mystery.

Harriet Klausner

City in Shadow-Evan Marshall

City in Shadow
Evan Marshall
Severn, Nov 1 2010, $27.95
ISBN 9780727869210

Recent Cincinnati high school graduate Patti Fairchild is coming to Manhattan to spend time with her older second cousin sanitation garage supervisor Anna Winthrop. Patti has not made any plans for her future so Anna is excited with her relative’s visit.

At the same time that Patti is due in town, Anna’s edgy neighbor Nettie Clouchet, the "ghost blogger" is investigating Winthop for a section in her new book on local women of achievement. To make space for her cuz in her small apartment, Anna sells a desk to Ukrainian Grigori Sidorov. Inside Grigori's truck sits a pretty woman who drops a note onto the sidewalk while the desk is loaded. Anna picks up the message, which pleads: "help me". She gets her boyfriend, NYPD police officer Santos Reyes, who agrees the woman, may be in trouble and they should not ignore that possibility. Nervous Nettie can’t either as a journalist. None of them nor Patti who wanders the avenues at night know yet that their separate inquiries involve trafficking as the Kirkmore Apartments is where Death Is Disposable.

The fourth Hidden Manhattan mystery (see Dark Alley) is a gripping urban mystery in which the four “sleuths” learn where all avenues ends, but may be too late by the time they figure out the horror they investigate. Fast-paced, readers will want to journey the streets of Manhattan along side their tour guides as mean is too soft of a descriptor. This is all lights-on after reading thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Dangerous to Know-Tasha Alexander

Dangerous to Know
Tasha Alexander
Minotaur, Nov 1 2010, $24.99
ISBN 9780312383794

In 1892, Lady Emily Hargreaves heals at her husband Colin’s family estate near Rouen in Normandy from her harrowing time trapped in a cavernous cistern underneath Constantinople (see Tears of Pearl). Her emotional recovery is somewhat thwarted by her formidable mother-in-law Anne, who lucidly yet tacitly insures Emily knows she disapproves of her honeymoon behavior and what soon happens at the estate.

Emily is riding a horse when she finds a mutilated female body. The police are called and Inspector Gaudet leads the inquiry though Emily believes he is incompetent. She later learns the butchered victim is an escaped inmate from a nearby insane asylum and that the knife wounds suggest Jack the Ripper left London for France. Unable to ignore what she saw, Emily investigates but fears for her mind as she keeps hearing a child’s voice but none seem nearby,

Dangerous to Know is a pleasant late Victorian Era whodunit though readers will doubt the company of the inspector and the amateur sleuth. The relationship between Emily and Anne enhances the story line as does the French countryside and the trek into Rouen. Although the detecting never comes across as strong as Emily’s’ efforts before she married (see A Poisoned Season and Only to deceives), fans will enjoy this entertaining historical.

Harriet Klausner

The Twelfth Imam-Joel C. Rosenberg

The Twelfth Imam
Joel C. Rosenberg
Tyndale, Oct 19 2010, $26.99
ISBN: 9781414311630

In the Islamic Republic of Iran, the civilian leadership feverishly pushes the nuclear weapons program as the Ayatollah demands Muslims begin the Jihad to destroy Israel, American and the rest of the infidel west. However, this time it is different as citation from Holy Scripture claims the End of Days apocalypse is now as the Twelfth Imam will surface to lead Islam to glorious victory in the name of Allah.

The CIA takes this fundamentalist threat more seriously than the usual babble from President Ahmadinejad because this danger comes from the religious leaders making the proclamations. Soon, rumors fly across the Middle East and beyond that a cleric claiming to be the Mahdi messiah has begun performing miracles. Since the family of CIA operative David Shirazi fled Iran when the Khomeini Revolution occurred in 1979, he fluently speaks Farsi; thus he is assigned to go to Teheran to sabotage the Iranian nuclear weapons program, a key element in Armageddon.

This is a great thriller that uses twentieth century history, present day economics and politics and scripture from biblical holy books to tell a terrific Islamic perspective to the End of Days belief as the Twelfth Imam is the messiah. Fast-paced from the moment David treks to Iran and never slowing down, Joel C. Rosenberg provides a powerful tale that readers will appreciate.

Harriet Klausne

Friday, September 24, 2010

Voyeur-Daniel Judson

Daniel Judson
Minotaur, Sep 28 2010, $24.99
ISBN: 9780312383619

In 2003 in Manhattan, intrepid private investigator Remer is conducting surveillance of a couple for a client who warned him her spouse is dangerous. While parked, four men corner him; two with guns drawn professionally. A third attacks him with a stun gun shooting 25 K volts into Remer. They take him from his vehicle into their SUV and drive across the Williamsburg Bridge to Brooklyn. They complete their assault by carving Voyeur onto his chest.

Years later, mentally Remer remains emotionally fragile while hiding from everyone; as he runs a liquor store in Southampton. However, his friend from his sleuthing days, police detective Kay Barton finds him and asks him to hire Mia Ferrara to work at his store though she lacks experience. Reluctantly he does, but she stole 80 K from him before vanishing. Kay informs him that Mira is missing and that the woman’s mother Evelyn wants to meet him to beg him to find her daughter. Instead of what he expected from the mom, when they meet, the frightened woman says her daughter’s disappearance is the first step that will end in Evelyn’s death.

This is an exciting character driven private investigative thriller. The story line starts off as a Manhattan Noir, but quickly switches to a Long Island anti-Noir, and soon turns into a hesitant Noir as Remer is unsure he can get back in the saddle. Fast-paced, Remer knows he owes the Frenchman and his thugs, but his chest reminds him what the cost is.

Harriet Klausner

Edge-Jeffery Deaver

Jeffery Deaver
Simon & Schuster, Nov 2 2010, $26.99
ISBN 9781439156353

Henry Loving is perhaps the best "lifter" there is as he can get anyone to provide him the information he requires. He is especially adept at torturing his targets, but what makes him the absolute top gun is his uncanny ability to find the lever that gives him the Edge, which makes everyone he aims at dance to his tune. No one pushes people buttons like he does.

Federal government Strategic Protection Department “shepherd” Agent Corte protects targets from lifters. An intercepted message names Loving as the lifter directed to extract information from DC metro detective Ryan Kessler. Corte is assigned to keep Ryan from harm and his family safe so they cannot be used as pawns. He is also trying to identify who hired Loving. Meanwhile the lifter works on finding the means to get what he needs from the cop.

Though over the top, readers will not care as the Corte-Loving grandmaster chess match is a superb cat and mouse thriller in which readers will keep changing their mind as to who the feline is and who the rodent is in this deadly cerebral contest. The story line is fast-paced and loaded with action as each keeps placing the other in check, but checkmate seems just out of reach. Jeffery Deaver is at his entertaining best with this High Noon confrontation between the two best gunslingers in the world.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Bomber Bombs-David Champion

Bomber Bombs
David Champion
Alfred A. Knoll, Nov 1 2010, $
ISBN: 9781888310498

Cal Southern alumni football booster club honcho Clarence “Dixie” Dixon wants to hire the best defense attorney on the West Coast Bomber Hanson to defend ten players accused of rape. Dixie drives to Angleton to explain that the guys put up a hundred each for a stripper to perform. Mimi Parquette persuaded District Attorney Web Granger she is telling the truth. Dixie fears that if the boys are convicted of being boys, the team would lose its national ranking and fire Coach Eddleman.

Bomber assigns his son Tod to do the leg work before deciding to accept the case though he hates football as a barbaric endeavor. At trial, Judge McKorkle clearly shows his favoritism is towards the prosecution who brought a looker to sit at his table. Bomber collapses in court and is rushed to the hospital. The defendants, the judge, the D.A., the paying client, the coach, mom, and his girlfriend Joan expect Tod to take over the defense; everyone that is except stuttering unconfident Tod.

This is an entertaining legal thriller that is taken from the recent headlines (the story line references the Duke Lacrosse team). Tod tells the tale even when the “Bombastic” one takes the lead. The sports cast are three dimensional people though to a degree stereotypical while Bomber’s family, associates, and the other side enhance the differences between father and son. Although a ploy used by Bomber seems inappropriate even with his late rationalization, readers will relish this exciting entry (see Easy Come, Easy Go) as Tod comes off the bench to run the team’s defense with a strong offense.

Harriet Klausner

Busy Body-M. C. Beaton

Busy Body
M. C. Beaton
Minotaur, Oct 12 2010, $24.99
ISBN: 9780312387013

Mircester health and safety board officer John "Grudge" Sunday prevents the annual putting up a Christmas tree atop the Carsely church tower by threatening court action against Vicar Alf Bloxby. This tradition has been part of the holiday season for years in Cotswolds. Two angry groups (Our Ladies Society and Odley Cruessis Society) meet to decide what to do when wealthy fuming Miriam Courtney publicly states what many are feeling when she proclaims she wants to kill the odious Grudge.

When someone stabs Grudge to death near the meetings of two ladies’ groups, the police look closely at Courtney, as she threatened the victim. Distrusting the cops to look for any other suspect though so many had grudges against the dead inspector, Courtney hires private investigator Agatha Raisin to prove her innocence. As Raisin and her junior sleuth Toni Gilmour make inquires, an unknown adversary bashes in their client’s head.

Agatha Raisin is even more cantankerous than usual as her Christmas holiday to flee tradition by visiting Porto Vechhio in Corsica proves so boring, she fled for home with a sore throat that made her even more ill mannered. Soon afterward, the middle aged sleuth works a murder mystery for a client who becomes the second victim. Readers will enjoy the case and how over her ex husband she is, but Raisin’s love life remains a mess. This is a superb entry in a great British investigative series (see There Goes the Bride) as no one tames the shrew.

Harriet Klausner

A Stranger in Mayfair-Charles Finch

A Stranger in Mayfair
Charles Finch
Minotaur, Nov 9 2010, $24.99
ISBN: 9780312625061

In Victorian England, Charles Lenox, son of and brother to a baronet, is euphoric to marry his beloved lifelong friend and new wife, Lady Jane Grey. Since they resided in adjoining houses, they hired an architect to create a larger abode out of the two smaller homes.

His simple life becomes complicated when he responds to the doorbell. An acquaintance Ludwig Starling wants Charles, a private investigator who has solved cases that baffled the Yard, to uncover who killed his footman Frederick Clarke. Although Charles wants to be ready for the next session of parliament as he an active member, he cannot resist the lure of an investigation. Charles finds no dark documents when he inquires inside of his client’s home. Lenox and Starling visit the alley where Clarke was murdered only to have someone stab Ludwig. The butler is arrested but Charles knows he is innocent even when the man confesses. What Charles does not know could kill him as the culprit overtly observes his every move in plain sight.

The newest Lenox Victorian mystery (see the Fleet Street Murders) once again brings history and the culture of the era alive inside a strong whodunit. However, make no mistake the tale belongs to Lenox. The hero understands society’s rules especially limitations, but ignores the prejudicial class aspects. For instance his occupation as a private investigator is considered as lowly trade by high society, but Lenox couldn’t care less as sleuthing gives him special satisfaction. He loves his wife, but is also extremely grateful that in spite of her being a Lady and worried about his safety she encourages her forty years old husband to detect.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Lies That Bind-Kate Carlisle

The Lies That Bind
Kate Carlisle
Obsidian, Nov 2 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780451231697

The Executive Artistic Director of the Bay Area Books Arts Center (BABA), a bitch on wheels; thinks so highly of book binder Brooklyn Wainwright she has her teach a class on the subject and restoring the BABA collection. No one likes Layla Fontaine, who stepped on bodies on her way to the top using lies, intimidation, and cheating as her means to success.

Somebody loathed Layla enough to kill her; no one, not even her niece Naomi, in BABA misses her though Layla brought in millions. Brooklyn wants to find out who killed Layla. With the help of security agent Derek, she investigates. They learn that Layla was the ringleader of a book fraud business and soon find the corpse of Mr. Soo who bought one of the phony tomes. When Brooklyn takes Derek to her hometown of Dhearm; they meet Gabriel a con artist who risked his life to save others. An unknown adversary wounds Gabriel. Brooklyn thinks all the deaths are connected, but Gabriel was not part of the fraud so Derek thinks his shooting is a coincidence. Soon the amateur will prove right, but hopefully not dead right.

The latest Bibliophile mystery (see if Books Could Kill) feels like an amalgam of James Bond and Jessica Fletcher and Brooklyn feels like a murder magnet who feels bound to investigate while the pros who surround her feel a need to protect her but not stifle her. Excitingly action-packed, The Lies that Bind amateur sleuth fans into a fast-paced read.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Secrets Of Harmony Grove-Mindy Starns Clark

Secrets Of Harmony Grove
Mindy Starns Clark
Harvest House, Oct 1 2010, $13.99
ISBN: 9780736926256

After losing her marketing executive job due to some sort of US Attorney General investigation of her, Sienna Collins considers moving onto the property she inherited from her late grandfather in Harmony Grove, Pennsylvania. Based on the advice of her then boyfriend Troy Griffin, Sienna and her dad converted the place into a successful Lancaster County Bed and Breakfast though she has not been there in a couple of years.

Still in Boston, Sienna tries to figure out what just happened to her when Troy calls. Sienna heads to the B&B only to find Troy dead and already in legal trouble, she is only suspect. As she investigates, she finds ties to the Holocaust and increased suspicion by the cops that she is dangerous while someone watches her every move.

The key to this strong suspense thriller is a romantic subplot remains mostly in the background supporting the prime theme of a woman in trouble. The story line is fast-paced from the moment that Sienna is suspended from her job and never slows down as she and the readers try to figure out what is going on in this complicated mystery. Although the climax seems too simple for such a complex plot, fans will relish learning the Secrets of Harmony Cove.

Harriet Klausner

The Shimmering Blond Sister-David Handler

The Shimmering Blond Sister
David Handler
Minotaur, Oct 12 2010, $24.99
ISBN: 9780312574857

The affluent residents of Dorset, Connecticut want the Dorset Flasher caught. The culprit has upset the wealthy patrons of the Dorset Historic District as he does his thing every weekend; taunting the cops with ability to get in and out without being caught.

Police officer Des Mitry believes Augie Dinatelli is the Flasher, but lacks evidence. The cop and the suspect have several public arguments so when the latter is murdered; Mitry becomes the prime suspect in the homicide. The beleaguered African American police officer turns to her former lover, New York Jewish film critic Mitch Berger for help on proving her innocence.

The latest Berger and Mitry mystery (see Sweet Golden Parachute and The Sour Cherry Surprise) is an engaging tale in which the reader gets inside the heads of the lead couple. This enables the audience to understand how each feels about not fitting the town’s predominant profile. The whodunit inquiry is well done as B and M work the case methodically, but in many ways the investigative subplot feels more supportive of comprehending the motives of people especially Mitry to live and work in a sea of mostly rich upper class whites.

Harriet Klausner

Swift Justice-Laura DiSilverio

Swift Justice
Laura DiSilverio
Minotaur, Oct 12 2010, $24.99
ISBN: 9780312641504

Charlotte "Charlie" Swift always knew she preferred her own company over any entanglements. Eight years as an Air Force military investigator affirmed her feelings that she would rather work alone. After leaving the service, Charlie opens up a private investigative firm in Colorado Springs. She has the perfect partner, Goldman, who puts up money and stays out of her way.

When Goldman flees as a fugitive from the law due to his financial shenanigans, Charlie is stunned. Her firm is near bankrupt with debt and she no longer has a silent partner as Goldman’s wife Gigi takes over his interest and shows up at the office as she plans to work there. Charlie wants the socialite out of the office so she can return to being hardboiled instead of cute kittens on the wall. She assigns Gigi the worst projects imaginable such as doing undercover work as a fast food chain mascot. However, whereas Charlie’s in your face with a fist approach fails on their current case; Gigi’s girly girl make nice gets people to talk. The two women seek a teen mother who abandoned her baby on the doorstep of their client, who years ago gave up her baby for adoption.

The key to this delightful private investigator mystery is the pairing of the opposites as pampered and street wise make for amusing scenarios, but when it comes to the serious search for the mom the story line leaves the banter back at the office. Though this type of teaming has been done before (for instance, Lynda Carter and Loni Anderson in Partners In Crime), readers will enjoy the antics of Charlie and Gigi as the unlikely duet work the streets of Colorado Springs.

Harriet Klausner

An Uplifting Murder-Elaine Viets

An Uplifting Murder
Elaine Viets
Obsidian, Nov 2 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780451231703

She is a mystery shopper who anonymously evaluates a store for services and items sold in the venue. Desiree Lingerie, a company who owns a chain of upscale products wants her to evaluate one of these sales-people in the Plaza Venetia store in West County, as various customers have complained. When Josie Marcus arrives at the store she receives a pleasant surprise when she meets the manager Laura Ferguson who helped her in school when kids were harassing her about what she wore.

After she is through, Josie goes to the bathroom, but a woman in a wheelchair blocks her. The handicapped toilet is closed so Josie crawls under the door to see what is preventing the cubicle from being open. She finds the corpse of Francine who was an ugly person who relished hurting others including Laura, who cost her job she loved. Laura is arrested and Josie promises to find who the real killer though the number of people with viable motives leaves her wondering where to start.

Elaine Viets, author of the Dead End Job mysteries, has another hit amateur sleuth series in the Josie Marcus Mystery Shopper tales (see Fashion Hound Murders and Dying in Style). As the star of this series, Josie is self deprecatingly witty, determined, frightened and reckless. Filled with jocularity starting with the title, fans will laugh at the predicaments this mystery shopper finds herself in on the job and sleuthing.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, September 20, 2010

Cross Roads-Fern Michaels

Cross Roads
Fern Michaels
Zebra, Oct 1 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9781420111927

Eighteen months ago the members of the Sisterhood were able to celebrate the dissolution of their group when they received presidential pardons. Because of their skills honed while on the run, Global Securities hired all of them. The group has gone to different locations around the world.

Coming from different parts of the world, each of the members is traveling to Virginia to attend a homecoming dinner. This being a Sisterhood gala, something must go wrong and does. Interpol operatives hijack a jet taking Nikki and Kathryn to the reunion. The agents give the Sisterhood a choice of carrying out their assignment or defeat desperate opponents who will do anything including leaving the country vulnerable.

However, this being the Sisterhood, they are the queens of revenge and though apart still remain a Razor Sharp team as they will do things their way in this exciting thriller. Fans of the long running saga will enjoy this enthralling tale. Cross Roads is fast-paced and filled with action as the team reunites in their impeccable vigilante way.

Harriet Klausner

Two Lethal Lies-Annie Solomon

Two Lethal Lies
Annie Solomon
Forever, Oct 1 2010, $6.99
ISBN: 9780446178457

Mitch Turner knew his brother Dutch was a vicious psychopath who gave the appearance of being a kind person. When his daughter Julia was born eleven years ago, he knew his monster sibling would go after his niece. Thus Mitch took Julia and ran away with her.

However, Julia is tired of running and wants to go to school and make friends like other tweeners do. Reluctantly, Mitch stops at Crossroads, Tennessee so his beloved daughter can have some normalcy. He becomes a short order cook and meets Neesy Brown. They are attracted to one another, but soon he is exposed as a killer by the Crossroad cops and a decade long serial killer by the FBI. Dutch insists Julia is his child; kidnapped by Mitch. The endangered child is given to her artist uncle while her real father is incarcerated. Mitch escapes and with Neesy at his side searches for his insane but clever sibling in order to save the life of his daughter.

The romance takes a needed back seat to the exhilarating Cain and Abel war between the brothers. Fast-paced from the moment father and daughter stop in Tennessee, fans anticipate the sibling showdown. Although Mitch’s escape (from detention) depends too much on coincidence, readers will appreciate the fraternal war as the stakes are Julia and Neesy.

Harriet Klausner

Naked Heat-Richard Castle

Naked Heat
Richard Castle
Hyperion, Sep 28 2010, $22.99
ISBN 9781401324025

Reporter Jameson Rook wrote about the exploits of NYPD homicide detective Nikki Heat for t her for First Press magazine (see Heat Wave). The cop loathes the publicity as she just wants to do her job.

Heat’s current assignment is high profile as gossip columnist for the New York Star Ledger Cassidy Towne was found murdered. She quickly learns Rook was working on an article about the most despised columnist in New York. Ever the charmer, Rook joins Heat on her investigation though she would prefer it otherwise as they are no longer an entry in spite of the heated attraction they have for each other. The pair quickly finds a horde of people who felt Cassidy, in her sensationalistic headline grabbing "Buzz Rush" column, destroyed them without regard. One of these famous people is her killer, but the culprit remains elusively out of reach as all these raging celebs look possible.

The return of the TV stars in their second heated investigative novel will please fans of the series as Naked Heat is a superb Manhattan murder mystery. The story line is fast-paced as the lead couple tosses barb grenades at each other while also working the rich, famous, and notorious crowd. Readers will enjoy the antics of Rook and Heat who, as they work the case, could keep the northeast balmy in winter.

Harriet Klausner

Very Simple Crime-Grant Jenkins

Very Simple Crime
Grant Jenkins
Berkley, Nov 2 2010, $14.00
ISBN: 9780425238301

Adam Lee married Rachel even knowing she was unstable, as the scars on her wrists affirm. After they marry, her mental state became worse as she was convinced Adam was cheating; she wrecked the car of someone flirting with her husband. They had a child, Albert who was mentally and physically behind his peers. At fourteen he was emotionally equivalent to a five year old and his intelligence also was that of a five year old. When he almost killed his mom, Albert was placed in an institution where he killed his roommate.

Albert resides in a high security private institution for hardcore cases. His father lives a life of quiet desperation. Many years later, Adam brings his adult son home, but goes away for a weekend with Violet Perkins. When he returns home, he finds his wife dead and their son has blood all over him. Disturbed for enabling a notorious child-killer going free, Assistant District Attorney Leo Hewitt sees this case as a chance for redemption. The circumstantial evidence points to Albert, but the ADA believes Adam killed his wife; the motive is ,in his opinion, to escape from a lunatic spouse. He arrests Adam for murdering his wife. Adam’s brother lawyer Monty defends his sibling, who has a few dead rabbits to pull out of his hat.

Told in the first person by Adam, A Very Simple Crime is a terrific legal thriller that grips the audience early on, but it is the latter twists that keep the reader alert for more. Starting with marrying mentally unstable Rachel because she is the only heir to her father’s multimillion dollar estate, Monty explains his brother does not always make good decisions but that does not make him a cold blooded killer. Grant Jenkins provides readers with a great chilling thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, September 19, 2010

My Lost Daughter-Nancy Taylor Rosenberg

My Lost Daughter
Nancy Taylor Rosenberg
Forge, Sep 14 2010, $25.99
ISBN: 9780765319036

Ventura County, California Superior Court Judge Lily Forrester presides over the tragic case in which the mother Noelle Reynolds is accused of murdering her two years old child. However, Lily has overcome the trauma of being raped a few years ago while her Stanford University law school student daughter Shana, who was also raped, has not. The rapist is still out there.

When Shana’s boyfriend leaves her, she has a breakdown. Though she knows she should solicit references, influenced by her current case and fearing Shana cannot wait Lily uses the phone book to select a private psychiatric hospital, Whitehall near San Francisco. Shana voluntarily commits herself for treatment at Whitehall. However, the mother has placed her daughter in another traumatic situation as a wealthy psychopathic killer Alex runs Whitehall with an iron drug fueled rage while treatment is based entirely on health insurance payments. Meanwhile, FBI special agents Mary Stevens and Brooks East investigate suicide clubs.

The sequel to Judge Lily’s last star performance The Cheater is a fast-paced over the top of Nob Hill thriller in which readers, who ignore mom placing her PTSD daughter in a psychiatric hospital without some inquiries, will enjoy. The two villains at Whitehall come across somewhat stereotyped, but make the tale fun as one likes to toy with inmates and the other cares only about money. Entertaining and exciting, Lily’s fans will enjoy her latest caper.

Harriet Klausner

Moonlight Mile-Dennis Lehane

Moonlight Mile
Dennis Lehane
Morrow, Nov 2 2010, $26.99
ISBN: 9780061836923

Over a decade ago Boston private investigator Patrick Kenzie and his partner-lover Angela Gennaro disagreed with what to do with four years old kidnapping victim Amanda McCready, who they rescued. He followed the letter of the law and returned the child to her mom Helene; Angela disagreed vehemently as she morally argued the mother neglected her child putting her in harm’s way. The child’s doting uncle Lionel kidnapped his niece and put her in a good home. His Good Samaritan deed placed him in prison. Angela left Patrick (see Gone, Baby, Gone). Patrick and Angela reconciled, married and have a daughter. They have a tacit agreement never to mention Amanda McCready.

A caller at three in the morning informing Patrick he owes her and he found her once so he can find her again before hanging up. The next day Beatrice McCready apologizes for the call but says she is desperate. She asks Patrick to find her missing sixteen years old niece Amanda. Initially he refuses the case as he has a job interview, but when Beatrice mentions Helene’s sex offender boyfriend, having a daughter, Patrick vows this time he will do right by Amanda.

This is an exhilarating sequel as Angela and Patrick are older and allegedly wiser yet both miss the excitement of the hard boiled case and long time pal Bubba still breaks heads. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Patrick’s conscience gets to him and never slows down as he works his way through some mean streets and Russian thugs. The ending is super as realism prevails.

Harriet Klausner

A Holiday Yarn-Sally Goldenbaum

A Holiday Yarn
Sally Goldenbaum
Obsidian, Nov 2 2010, $23.95
ISBN: 9780451231581

The villagers of the small New England town of Sea Harbor are gearing up for the holidays, but this is one Yuletide season in which a pall hangs over the village. Mary Pisano inherits her uncle’s home, which she converts into a B&B. Her entire family occupies the B&B for the annual meeting.

One of the attendees is Pamela Pisano, editor of a national fashion magazine, who is breaking hearts of the men who idolize her. On their way home at night, two Seaside Knitters find her body that a gun in her hand. The police initially believe Pam, a native of the town, committed suicide as she was under immense pressure. Days later, a model and sometimes lover of Pam is found murdered. The Seaside Knitters believe notes in the snow next to both bodies connect the deaths, but need to find out how if they are to solve the homicides.

Instead of Patterns in the Sand, this time is patterns in the snow as Sally Goldenbaum creates Christmas time in coastal Massachusetts. The Seaside Knitters are a close knit group who go out of their way for one another including investigating murders (see Moon Spinners). Their friendship is what makes this amateur sleuth series a strong saga and A Holiday Yarn a terrific whodunit.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Christmas Mourning-Margaret Maron

Christmas Mourning
Margaret Maron
Grand Central, Nov 2010, $25.99
ISBN: 9780446555807

It has been nearly a year since Colleton County, North Carolina Judge Deborah Knott married Sheriff’s Deputy Dwight Bryant and both have never been happier. They have full custody of his son Carl since his mother died and Deborah is a like a second mom to the youngster. However, the Christmas season brings sorrow to one family when in-crowd leader Mallory Johnson dies in a car crash.

She neither drank nor took drugs, but after leaving a party, Mallory skidded off the road. Alcohol is found in her bloodstream and a friend confesses that she put booze and vicodin in a coke. She blames herself for the death of Mallory, who was a tease. However, evidence surfaces that imply the Mickey Finn might not have caused the death. Dwight is workingon a case where Deborah two brothers who were shot to death. It comes as a shock that the three deaths are linked, but to understand how will lead to identifying the killer in both cases.

Margaret Maron can always be counted on for writing a strong regional mystery that brings the reader into the story line. Christmas Mourning contains a complex whodunit complemented by a profound realistic family drama, especially the deep look at the two families impacted by the deaths. This Knott-Bryant murder mystery is worthy of an Agatha nomination.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, September 17, 2010

You Are Next-Katia Lief

You Are Next
Katia Lief
Avon, Oct 1 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780061809026

Former Maplewood, New Jersey Police Detective Karin Schaeffer grieves the murders of her husband and child while relocating to Brooklyn to get away from her past. Their killer was sent to prison, but Martin “The Domino Killer” Price escapes from the penitentiary. He invades Karin’s home to kill her because he murders whole families and failed to complete the Schaeffer job, but the SWAT team prevents his completing his mission though they mistakenly shoot Karin as Price flees.

Karin heals but knows Price will return unless she goes after him first. She decides to become the huntress stalking the beast by following his deliberate taunting clues he purposely left her; and if she dies doing it, so be it. No longer will Karin wait for Price to haunt her.

This is an exhilarating thriller as the reader anticipates the confrontation between two disturbed people. The story line is seen mostly through the filter of the former cop who had it together emotionally until Price murdered her family. Karin in many ways will remind the reader of Gibson’s Riggs without the humor in the first Lethal Weapon movie. Readers will enjoy this suspense tale as Schaeffer joins the domino game with the winner being the one who walks away breathing.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Double Cross-Clare O'Donohue

Double Cross
Clare O'Donohue
Plume, Sep 28 2010, $14.00
ISBN: 9780452296428

George Olnhausen hires quilt instructor Susanne Hendrick to instruct at a workshop at the Patchwork Bed-and-Breakfast in the picturesque Adirondack Mountains town of Winston. Accompanying Susanne on her journey from Archers Rest are Nell Fitzgerald; her quilt-shop owner grandmother Eleanor Cassidy; Barney the dog; and George’s high school girlfriend Bernadette "Bernie" Avallone.

Bernie still loathes her former BFF Rita for taking George from her. So when someone kills George, Bernie is a prime suspect; even more so because her "double cross" quilt covering the body. Nell’s boyfriend, Archers Rest's police chief Jesse Dewalt assists Winston police chief Jim McIntyre with the investigation while Barney finds another corpse in the woods.

The latest Someday Quilt amateur sleuth (see A Drunkard's Path and A Lover's Knot) is an engaging whodunit as the ladies work the case one stitch at a time. The story line is fast-paced when it focuses on who killed George; a sidebar involving workshop students is fascinating in its own right; but detracts from the prime whodunit. Still fans will enjoy the Someday Quilt ladies take over the New York Adirondacks.

Harriet Klausner

Coming Back-Marcia Mueller

Coming Back
Marcia Mueller
Grand Central, Oct 28 2010, $24.99
ISBN: 9780446581066

San Francisco private investigator Sharon McCone still recovers from the bullet she took to her head that left her mind intact Locked In her paralyzed body. However, she becomes concerned when her widow friend Piper Quinn suddenly without warning stops coming to the rehab center they both use.

Worried as the sleuth knows Piper has not moved on past the death of her husband in combat in Iraq, Sharon goes to the Quinn home. There she finds her buddy in a semi-comatose sate with a mean spirited care provider not wanting any visitors. Sharon sends her office manager Adah Joslyn to see if Piper needs anything. However, Piper is gone and her apartment immaculately cleaned as if no one lived there. Soon after her visit, Adah disappears. Sharon and her crew at McCone Investigations begin snooping, but the clues they uncover hint at a top secret government intelligence agency.

This is a great McCone thriller that hooks the reader from the opening scene as the heroine struggles to come back from her horrific injuries and never slows down until the finish. The story line is fast-paced and affirms that marvelous Marcia Mueller is one of the genre’s best. Set aside time, as this McCone masterpiece is difficult to put down.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A Catered Thanksgiving-Isis Crawford

A Catered Thanksgiving
Isis Crawford
Kensington, Nov 1 2010, $22.00
ISBN: 9780758247384

They have opposite personalities but Bernie and Libby are sisters who are also good friends while running a catering business A Little Taste of Heaven in Westchester, New York. There latest job is catering a Thanksgiving dinner at the Field Mansion; for Monty, his two children (Melissa and George), his brothers (Perceval and Ralph) and his wife Lexus as well as Geoff, Bob and Pauline. They all must be on their best behavior or Marley will cut them out of his will.

While the sisters cook the turkey, Marley walks in and taps the bird until the timer pops up and blows his head to smithereens. Someone placed a mini-bomb in the turkey connected to the pop-up and everyone knew Marley always tapped on the bird. His death was obviously a premeditated murder. Libby and Bernie prefer to leave because most of the people there have motives to kill the victim. However, a blizzard trapped them. Not wanting to feel useless, the siblings do what they do second best (after cooking): investigate a murder.

The latest Isis Crawford amateur sleuth is a holiday treat because of the two hilarious sisters who argue, fuss and detect while debating what to do next. Bernie is a kick butt in your face while Libby is a girly girl, but both are brave and together form a yin and yang terrific sleuthing team. The case is interesting as the victim was a control freak who uses money to make his family obey his whims and those who fall out of favor fall out of the will. Even from the grave, his presence is felt all over this fine Thanksgiving whodunit.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Catching Moondrops-Jennifer Erin Valent

Catching Moondrops
Jennifer Erin Valent
Tyndale, Oct 1 2010, $12.99
ISBN: 9781414333274

By 1938 in Calloway, though only nineteen Jessilyn Lassiter has loved Luke Talley for years. Everyone even Luke called it puppy love, but no more as he is beginning to care for her.

A black doctor Tal Pritchett moves to Calloway to practice medicine and begins to court Jessilyn’s best friend, Gemma Teague. Many of the white locals are irate over a black behaving like a professional and a rock is tossed through his window, but they explode when elderly Miss Cleta becomes his first white patient. Soon afterward Noah Jarvis, a black friend of Jessilyn, is lynched by apparently the Klan who terrorizes the townsfolk regardless of race.

This is an interesting late Depression Era thriller that provides a deep look at a small town in the south in which the Klan, thought gone, has returned frightening blacks and somewhat surprisingly whites too. The cast is strong though Jessilyn is perhaps too outspoken with her beliefs when the Klan has just about everyone else panicking in abject terror not to cross (no pun intended) them. Still this is a refreshing look at the destructiveness of institutional loathing and individual hatred on a person and ultimately a community.

Harriet Klausner

The Emperor's Tomb-Steve Berry

The Emperor's Tomb
Steve Berry
Ballantine, Nov 23 2010, $26.00
ISBN 9780345505491

In China, government ministers Karl Tang and Ni Yong compete for who will become the country’s next premier. Both believe possessing a third century B.C.E lamp is the key to become the leader as that ancient artifact is the key to eliminate dependence on foreign oil. Of the two Tang appears to be the more vicious, willing to kill the innocent to obtain the map and subsequently the premiership.

Cotton Malone and his former lover Cassiopeia Vitt, who owes a debt that she is paying off, also seek the ancient Chinese lamp. However, neither is aware that the Chinese power struggle includes containing the same lamp. The murders of two foreigners is an acceptable outcome in Tang’s mind and Yong, if need be, holds the same belief.

The latest Malone thriller (see The Paris Vendetta) is an exhilarating tale that uses Chinese history to anchor the action-packed escapades. Fast-paced with one overkill exception inside a tomb, readers will relish the cat and mouse chase for the lamp as the mysterious Cassiopeia Vitt provides a delightful female counterpart to Malone (see the E-book The Balkan Escape for her tale including understanding her debt). The climax is a great confrontational finish to a fabulous tale.

Harriet Klausner

The Corpse Wore Tartan-Kaitlyn Dunnett

The Corpse Wore Tartan
Kaitlyn Dunnett
Kensington, Nov 1 2010, $22.00
ISBN: 9780758238795

In Moosetookalook, Maine Liss MacCrimmon owns the Scottish Emporium where she sells items hat are Scottish from her store The Spruces Hotel Gift Shop. Her Aunt Margaret Boyd is the events coordinator for the hotel and currently oversees the annual Burns Night Supper hosted by the Scottish Heritage Appreciation Society at The Spruces. The gala gets off to a bad start when Phil MacMillan complains that someone ransacked his room and stole a brooch.

At the dinner, Phil’s identical twin Phineas insults everyone at their table. Not long after dining, Liss finds Phil’s corpse in a storage room in the basement. Officer Sherri Willet, who already is in charge of the theft case, takes the lead on the homicide because no one can leave or enter the hotel due to a blizzard that cut off power and stranded people at the Spruces. Sherri allows Liss to assist her on her investigation to keep the woman from running off on her own as she has done before (see A Wee Christmas Homicide and Scone Cold Dead).

This is a terrific locked room (locked hotel is more descriptive) mystery due to the horrific snow and ice storm that has stranded everyone at the Spruces. Long simmering resentments are aired and people are confronted for alleged wrongdoing. Although the whodunit is a bit thin, Liss is a great heroine who remains determined to see justice prevails. Kaitlyn Dunnett provides another engaging amateur sleuth cozy starring a quirky cast locked inside an exclusive exquisite hotel during a monster storm.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Jane and the Madness of Lord Byron-Stephanie Barron

Jane and the Madness of Lord Byron
Stephanie Barron
Bantam, Sep 28 2010, $15.00
ISBN 9780553386707

In 1813, Henry Austen’s wife Eliza dies after a lengthy illness. The Austen family grieves their loss but none besides Henry mourns the death of Eliza than Jane does; she was more a sister than an in-law.

Hoping to move on from Eliza’s death, Henry and Jane travel to Brighton where they believe the ocean will prove energizing. The siblings stop at an inn on their travel only to find the wrists of a teenage girl tied by a cravat in a nearby coach. A few days later in Brighton, that same female Catherine Twining is found dead in Lord Byron's bed at the King's Arms. Byron swears he is innocent in spite of his scandalous reputation. As she investigates, Jane finds the poet charming, but albeit a bit too insane for her tastes.

The latest Jane Austen amateur sleuth (see Jane and the Barque of Frailty) is a terrific tale as Stephanie Barron catches the essence of the heroine, Byron, and the era. The murder mystery is well written and very entertaining, but the fun in this strong entry is Byron who enchants everyone including Jane who knows better. In the seemingly overkilled Austen recast “sub-genre” this series remains one of more endearing.

Harriet Klausner

New World Monkeys-Nancy Mauro

New World Monkeys
Nancy Mauro
Three Rivers (Crown), Sep 7 2010, $14.00
ISBN: 9780307461421

Estranged couple Lily and Duncan leaves the heat of Manhattan to spend part of the summer in the Upstate New York town of Osterhaven although he knows it will be a long commute as h is an ad exec in the Big Apple. Their drive is uneventful until near the house they leased, the couple hits an apparent wild boar running out of nowhere onto the road Lily feeling for the beast still alive but crying in severe pain takes the tire iron and smashes the animal’s head until he is dead.

In Osterhaven, they learn the boar they killed is considered sacred by townsfolk as the Sovereign of the Deep Wood. In particular he was Skinner’s pet and the angry odious man vows similar deaths to the killers; as does other fuming residents. The house they rented is dilapidated and while exploring outside Duncan finds a gravestone and a human bone. Stunned they disinter the remains of the buried body. While Duncan is in New York City, Lily becomes friends with the town pervert who she finds she can communicate with easier than her spouse.

This is an entertaining graveyard humor thriller tale that paints a neat twist to the urban yuppie finding heaven in rustication as both the big city and small town are made up of two legged beasts. The key to this engaging tale is Nancy Mauro never takes the subject too gravely serious as the author uses hyperbolic ghoulishness to make a case that veracity is the foundation of any relationship.

Harriet Klausner

Kind of Blue-Miles Corwin

Kind of Blue
Miles Corwin
Oceanview, Nov 1 2010, $25.95
ISBN: 9781608090075

Former LAPD cop Pete Relovich, renowned for his courage in a Watts incident in which he saved his partner’s life and legend says spit out a slug, was killed in his home in San Pedro. Assistant Chief Grazzo informs Lieutenant Duffy to put his best man on the case. Duffy says his top gun Asher Levine quit eleven months ago over what he perceived was his failure to protect homicide witness Latisha Patton who was murdered.

Duffy asks Levine to work the homicide of a heroic cop. Levine agrees as he sees this as an opportunity to pay what he believes he owes Latisha by bringing her killer to justice. As he investigates both murders, Levine finds clues that shake his already battered soul.

Kind of Blue is an entertaining police procedural that reads more like a Noir as fearless (and foolish) Levine works the mean streets of L.A. with an obsessive vendetta propelling him. Levine owns the fast-paced story line with his take the hill attitude yet knows he feels more than just grief when he follows where the leads take him. Readers will appreciate Miles Corwin’s character driven investigative thriller due to the kick butt hero and the strong support cast enhancing his inquiry.

Harriet Klausner

The Pumpkin Muffin Murder-Livia J. Washburn

The Pumpkin Muffin Murder
Livia J. Washburn
Obsidian, Nov 2 2010, $14.00
ISBN: 9780451231321

As the Thanksgiving Holiday nears, Phyllis Newsom is happy to be spending the time with her grandson Bobby while his parents are visiting his dying maternal grandfather. She is especially looking forward to showing him the Harvest Festival that she is helping to arrange. On opening day, Phyliss’ friend Carolyn notices one of the scarecrows has been moved to a different locale; she looks closer only to realize she is staring at a dead person, realtor Logan Powell.

The subsequent autopsy confirms Logan was murdered. Suspicion falls on his wife Dana as witnesses state they saw the couple fighting. Further evidence leads to Dana’s arrest on a first degree murder charge. Phyliss is positive that Dana is innocent and at the bail hearing she tells the judge she will keep the accused at her house until the Grand Jury convenes. Dana explains to Phyliss that she was positive that Logan cheated on her so confronted him and that he was involved in a lucrative real state deal. Phyliss investigates because she knows her friend is innocent but doubts the authorities will look any further.

In this age of distant social networking, it is fascinating to see the close knit community of small town Weatherford, Texas. Phyliss has solved murder cases before (see Killer Crab Cakes and The Christmas Cookie Killer) that baffles the cops who she often gets to talk to her about the case as they wonder how she puts together the puzzle pieces. This feisty grandma makes this Fresh-Baked Mystery a fun read.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Murder She Wrote: The Queen’s Jewels-Jessica Fletcher & Donald Bain

Murder She Wrote: The Queen’s Jewels
Jessica Fletcher & Donald Bain
Obsidian, Oct 5 2010, $22.95
ISBN: 9780451231260

Cunard offered writer Jessica Fletcher a chance to travel on the Queen Mary II from England to New York at no cost if she serves as a writing instructor. Jessica eagerly agrees and flies to London. She goes to a dinner hosted by her publisher; there she meets Kim Chin-Hwa whose partner Walter Yang bought a blue diamond called the Heart of India.

She learns the gem was stolen and Yang murdered. Jessica’s Scotland Yard friend Inspector George Sutherland expects the diamond to be sold as he tells her the business partner has an air tight alibi. Also attending the party Jessica’s British publisher throws for her is M-16 Agent Michael Haggerty who has come in from the cold to find the diamond., Former jewel thief now insurance investigator Dennis Stanton wants to find the Heart of India before the QM-II docks in the States. There are others connected to the stolen gem so Jessica applies her grandmotherly kindness asking questions until she concludes who is involved in the theft and now all she has to do is prove her theory.

Ut has been years since the show ended, yet Donald Bain still captures the essence of Jessica that makes her a fan favorite. The Queen’s Jewel is a very complex amateur sleuth tale due to the numerous characters with multiple motives concerning the deceased and the jewels. In an ironic twist of fate, a notorious jewel thief on board is connected to a series of jewelry robberies that occured just prior to the ship’s departure. However, once again this is Jessica’s mystery as she calmly investigates the suspects sailing with her.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Chocolate Pirate Plot-JoAnna Carl

The Chocolate Pirate Plot
JoAnna Carl
Obsidian, Oct 5 2010, $21.95
ISBN: 9780451231277

Small town Warner Pier deals with harsh winters from the freezing temperatures made even colder by winds blowing out from Lake Michigan. In the summer, the town is a tourist attraction with a giant shopping mall in the location of the TenHuis Chocolate. Lee McKinney Woodyard is the business manager of the store and she is married to Joe, a part time boat maker and part time lawyer. While sailing their boat for a night on Lake Michigan, three pirates board their vessel, perform a show, and disappear into dark water.

Throughout the summer, the pirates repeat their performance for other tourists. The townsfolk are amused by their antics, but others are more interested in the play The Pirates of Penzance being performed and the younger crowd prefers the boat being made for the star of the movie Young Blackbeard. Marco Spear. Many locals believe the actor will come to town to pick up his boat and want to see him. A drowning victim is found, but later it is learned he was shot in the head. All of these events are linked to a daring crime that could lead to more fatalities if Joe, Lee and the chief of police are not careful.

The savory descriptions of gourmet chocolate will have readers craving sweets, but the story line is much more delicious. This is a complex creative and exciting mystery and although Lee does not actively investigate, information always seems to come her way and she then deduces their relevance to the events that occur targeting the Police Chief and Joe so she indirectly becomes involved with what is going on at Warner Pier. Like Lee, readers will struggle to connect the dots to find the link that connect all the plot points.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Trials of Zion-Alan M. Dershowitz

The Trials of Zion
Alan M. Dershowitz
Grand Central, Oct 1 2010, $28.99
ISBN: 9780446505420

In East Jerusalem in the near future, American President Moore, Israeli President Ezratti and Palestinian President Yassah reach a major peace agreement seen on television round the world. As they hold hands in unity, a bomb explodes killing thirty one people; many of whom were heads of state including Moore. The Martyrs of Jihad claim responsibly and Israeli police arrest Muslim radical Faisal Husseini caught videotaping the assassination scene. He is accused of the murders.

Palestinian Human Rights lawyer Habash Ein asks his Yale friend, twenty-six years old Jewish attorney Emma Ringel to come to Israel to assist him in defense of Husseini. Over the objections and concerns of her father celebrity lawyer Abe, she accepts. Abe is forced to assist Emma as pressure mounts from all sides on her. Some even threaten the Ringel loved ones if the deliberation ends the wrong way. Complicating matters for daughter and father are those threatening them and others they cherish leave them to know if they obtain an acquittal or not, someone is apt to try to harm them or their loved ones.

The third Ringel legal thriller (see Advocate’s Devil Just Revenge) is a fabulous tale that enables the reader to see how different the Israeli jurisprudence system is from that of the United States. The courtroom scenes are especially superb as Alan M. Dershowitz takes the audience inside the Israeli legal world. Although the thriller elements feel unnecessary, The Trials of Zion is an entertaining novel that highlights how convoluted reaching peace in the area has been.

Harriet Klausner

Vanished-Jordan Gray

Jordan Gray
Harlequin, Nov 1 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780373837526

It has been almost a year since Michael and Molly Graham moved to the tiny English village of Blackpool on the Coast. Although the locals consider them to be outsiders, they have made a few friends and even solved a murder. The pair also continues to renovate the mansion they bought.

One of their new buddies is Dylan Stewart who is having marital problems because his wife Naomi wants to leave. Since Dylan refuses to take her from the small town she has lived in all her life, Naomi becomes involved with Willie Myners, the wealthy local drug pusher. Willie offers to take Naomi with him and act as her agent for her artistic endeavors. Dylan is well aware of what is going one between his spouse and Willie. He goes to constrain the dealer, but finds him dead in his home. The police arrest Dylan, but the Graham duet believes he is innocent and intends to prove their assertion. They go to Willie’s place to search for clues and find rare valuable gold coins. The villagers believe it is part of a pirate treasure buried beneath the village. When Willie’s neighbor is also murdered and Molly is warned to stop her snooping, the Grahams are more motivated than before to find the truth.

Filled with legends of hidden treasures, pirates who roamed the streets and wreckers who lured boats to crash in coastal England, Vanished is a wonderful cozy within a gothic atmosphere. The M&M sleuthing team is reminiscent of N&N (Nick and Nora Charles of Thin Man fame and not of Infinite Playlist fame) in a British village setting. The characters and the plot believable, fans of British village amateur sleuths will enjoy this fine whodunit.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Immortals-J.T. Ellison

The Immortals
J.T. Ellison
Mira, Oct 1 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780778327639

Nashville PD Homicide Lieutenant Taylor Jackson has no time celebrating her return of rank as she and most of the city are stunned when seven teens from Hillsdale High are murdered in a Halloween ritual. The case is weird enough but spins even crazier when a woman claiming to be “good witch” arrives at his office offering to help. Taylor prefers to ignore her though she offers advice on witchcraft and occult rituals honoring Death on Halloween Eve. Meanwhile the cop and her unit struggle to find the perpetrators even as the city residents demand instant resolution.

At the same time the FBI orders her fiancé Special Agent John Baldwin to drop his investigation into the serial killer The Pretender and come to Washington D.C. to defend his work on a case in which irregularities and accusations have surfaced from late profiler Charlotte Douglas who worked with him on the Snow White inquiry.

The fifth Jackson police procedural (see All the Pretty Girls and The Cold Room) is a dark gripping thriller that contains two strong subplots; first there is the Nashville investigation and second is the accusations on Douglas’ computer. Both entries are fast-paced and complement one another. The Immortals is a great Nashville murder mystery.

Harriet Klausner

You Better Knot Die-Betty Hechtman

You Better Knot Die
Betty Hechtman
Berkley, Nov 2 2010, $24.95
ISBN: 9780425236932

It is the holiday season and Molly Pink, event planner for Shedd & Royal Bookstore and More in Tarzana, California is returning home from a business trip when she sees a bunch of police officers in front of her house. It turns out that her next door neighbor disappeared and the meter reader smelled something nasty in her home when a window was left open a crack.

Apparently wild critters got inside and died there to the relief of Molly’s boyfriend Homicide Detective Barry Greenberg. She talks to her neighbor Emily Perkins who says she has no idea where Bradley is. Later a suicide note arrives in the mail and word gets out that the financial advisor was working a Ponzi scheme in which many of the townsfolk lost their life savings. Certain actions of Emily makes Pink wonder if he is still alive and when her suspicions rise she has a neighbor help her follow Emily until they see Barry alive; only to be killed a moment later. Since there were few people nearby, suspicions falls obviously on Emily, but Pink doubts she is a killer and decides to investigate with the help of her crochet partners the Tarzana Hookers.

Although some of the antics Pink does is over the top, amateur sleuth readers will get a kick out of her and the Hookers as their escapades are very humorous. Barry knows he cannot control his sweetheart because she is feisty and independent, but is concerned for her safety as she dives into homicide cases (see A Stitch in Time). With a nod to I Love Lucy at the store, fans will relish this comedic California cozy.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Vaults-Toby Ball

The Vaults
Toby Ball
St. Martin’s, Sep 14 2010, $24.99
ISBN: 9780312580735

By 1935 in the City, archivist Arthur Puskis has worked in the Vaults for thirty plus years. The underground cavernous facility has stored the records of criminals for over seven decades and Parks is the expert at what is inside though he admits he knows a small percentage of the numerous files.

Recently, Arthur has found evidence of the Navaho Project in which two files with the same identifier contain different profiles, but share in common convicted killers never spending time in jail; this shakes his belief system that the Vaults are sacred. At the same time weed addicted investigative reporter Frank Frings and blackmailing private investigator Ethan Poole independently find similar information on the alleged The Navajo Project. Mayor Red Henry and his goons will go any length to keep the findings from going public, but someone is also targeting him and his cohorts with bombing assassinations.

Readers will want to enter Toby Ball’s The Vaults as the vivid description of political corruption controlling the City hooks the audience to learn what the Navaho Project is and how far the Mayor and his supporters will go in exchange for graft. The story line is fast-paced with three unlikely heroes risking their lives trying to expose what they have learned. This is a haunting winner.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, September 6, 2010

Killer Heat-Brenda Novak

Killer Heat
Brenda Novak
Mira, Sep 28 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780778328315

Private investigator Francesca Moretti was hired to find missing April Bonner. The Chandler, Arizona sleuth follows a clue that takes her to a salvage yard near Prescott. There she sees April’s corpse and has a run in with the owner Butch Vaughn who lured the unfortunate woman via the matchmaker Net persona of Harry Stratham. Thanks to a woman and child, who Francesca assumes is his family, she escapes.

Yavapai County Sheriff’s office hires the Department 6 private security firm to investigate the gruesome murders of seven women found in Skull valley. Agent Jonah Young leads the inquiry, but he is stunned when he sees Francesca. A decade ago, they went to the police academy together, but as they fell in love he betrayed her and his heart. The cops find no body on Vaughn’s property and he files an assault charge against Francesca. As the two team up to clear Francesca’s reputation, they target Butch as the only suspect, but lack proof; while the killer targets them.

The third Department Six investigative thriller (see Body Heat and White Heat) is an action-packed tale that grips the reader from the opening sequence when Butch comes after Francesca with a bat and never slows down until the final confrontation. Fast-paced, fans will appreciate this strong second chance romantic suspense with solid tough leads and a terrific late twist.

Harriet Klausner

The Second Lie-Tara Taylor Quinn

The Second Lie
Tara Taylor Quinn
Mira, Oct 1 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780778328384

In Chandler, Ohio, Chandler High School Counselor Jim Lockhart recommends to parent Lori Winston that she make an appointment for her daughter fourteen year old Maggie with psychologist Dr. Kelly Chapman. Lori clarifies she cannot pay, but when it comes to kids Kelly does pro bono work as long as she has fresh pencils to chew on. The single mom further explains that she fears her daughter is seeing a much older man and now carries a condom. Kelly agrees to chat with Maggie.

At the same time, Fort County Deputy Samantha Jones fears she suffers from post traumatic stress disorder after working the Holmes murder-suicide case, which is related to the economic recession and illegal drugs. She visits her former fiancé Kyle Evans whose family farm is in financial trouble. However, Sam has little time to recover as she fears an illegal meth lab has been set up in town. Sam considers seeing Kelly for counseling, but when a seller is busted, she knows her duty comes first.

The second Lie is a fast-paced thriller that looks deeply at crime in a small-town setting; as Tara Taylor Quinn makes a strong case that murder-suicide and meth manufacturing and selling can occur anywhere. The romance between the deputy and the farmer remains for the most part in the background as the drug case comes first. Although the transitions between lead roles mostly shared by the two women and somewhat Kyle feels abrupt as the changes happen in rapid fire procession, readers will enjoy this entertaining Midwestern drama.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Rivers of Gold-Adam Dunn

Rivers of Gold
Adam Dunn
Bloomsbury, Sep 28 2010, $25.00
ISBN: 9781608193073

In 2013, the second Great Depression has led to the rise of crime especially in the urban centers. NYPD established the controversial Citywide Anticrime Bureau to prevent the further increase in criminal activity. Already having strong objections to the creation of this unit, the Aubrey Bright fatality has led to rioting against the cops and especially CAB.

CAB Detective Sixto Santiago works undercover, but when he finds the mutilated corpse of Egyptian cabdriver Eyad Fouad near the Holland Tunnel, he sees an opportunity for career advancement. Thus expecting to solve the case quickly and obtain kudos and a promotion, Santiago investigates the brutal homicide of the immigrant. However, his inquiry soon proves this was not a simple murder of a cabbie, but much more.

Rivers of Gold is an intriguing near futuristic tale that extrapolates the economic crisis from a lingering recession into a deep rooted depression and consequently its affect on people. The investigation is entertainingly filled with twists and spins as a simple homicide that smacks of promotion turns into a convoluted job killer. Although the ending inanely and overly hyperbolizes the previously somewhat subtle farcical plot, readers will enjoy this fun police procedural.

Harriet Klausner

On the Line-S. J. Rozan

On the Line
S. J. Rozan
Minotaur, Sep 28 2010, $24.99
ISBN: 9780312544492

In New York City, private investigator Bill Smith receives a call from the cell phone of his partner Lydia Chin. However, she is not the voice on the other end; instead an unknown person claims to have abducted Lydia. Believing initially this is a sick prank; Bill knows Lydia has been kidnapped when she briefly gets on the phone.

The culprit gives Bill twelve hours to save her life and the sleuth must adhere to the rules of the game, which include no cops and subject to change at the whim of the perpetrator. Bill scrambles to save the life of his partner, but NYPD suspects him of at least with one homicide during the hunt. He obtains needed assistance from Lydia's cyber guru cousin Linus Wong and her best friend police detective Mary Kee, but the psychopath owns the cat and mouse game as Lydia is the cheese.

Mindful of the John Cena movie Twelve Rounds, On the Line is a fast-paced exhilarating thriller in which the predator makes and breaks and changes the rules turning the desperate hero into a puppet on a string. Loaded with action, readers will enjoy John’s frantic tour of New York as time is running out for Lydia.

Harriet Klausner

And Then There Was One-Patricia Gussin

And Then There Was One
Patricia Gussin
Oceanview, Oct 4 2010, $25.95
ISBN: 9781933515816

In Detroit, the nine year old Monroe triplets go a movie theatre at the nearby mall. Sammie and Alex attend one picture at the multiplex while the third sister Jackie and her cousin see a different picture. After the movies end, only Jackie goes home as her sisters vanish without a trace.

The FBI leads the investigation with the full cooperation of the father sports commentator Scott and the mother physician Katie whose focus is on sexual abuse of children. As time passes, Jackie is falling apart mentally from survivor guilt and her parents struggle to be there as they fear the worst and wonder if they are the cause.

Filled with twists and red herrings, readers will enjoy And Then There Was One. Children being snatched impacting parents are frequent mechanisms in literature, but the profound effect on a sibling is rarer especially a twin or triplet; perhaps the fantasy movie The Seeker: The Dark Is Rising is the nearest and that is a stretch as the hero was unaware he had a twin until deep into the film. The key to this strong abduction thriller is the reactions of the three remaining family members who each go through the stages of grief in their own ways; as they know that the family picture is incomplete without Sammie and Alex. This is a super psychological suspense thriller due to the reactions of the trio waiting with each breath one step closer to a self-customized hell.

Harriet Klausner

Mistletoe and Mayhem-Kate Kingsbury

Mistletoe and Mayhem
Kate Kingsbury
Berkley, Nov 2 2010, $14.00
ISBN: 9780425236901

It is the holiday season at the Pennyfoot Hotel in Badgern’s End, England and this year the manager hopes to finally break the Christmas curse. Every year during the holiday season, proprietor Cecily Sinclair Baxter is involved in a murder case usually at the hotel. Cecily's husband Baxter prays for a quieter time because he worries about his wife investigating a homicide and has something on his mind that he needs to tell his spouse.

Alas, their hopes are dashed when the body of Charlie the footman is found in what looked initially as if an accident occurred when a gargoyle fell from the roof bashing in his head. However, they quickly realize a murder was committed. When Ellie the maid goes missing, another maid Pansy and stable hand Samuel find her body. Soon afterward, more homicides occur. Cecily investigates with the intention of uncovering the deadly culprit but she is ignorant to the fact the killer is observing her movements very closely.

The latest annual Special Pennyfoot Hotel Myst Series amateur sleuth (see Decked with Folly and Ringing in Murder) is a terrific holiday cozy that contains more than one mystery. Besides the murders, readers will want to know what is disturbing Baxter that he needs to inform Cecily of. The characters who many appeared in previous tales bring continuity to the Pennyfoot saga. Village life in Edwardian England provides a sense of time and place as Kate Kingsbury writes another entertaining yuletide whodunit.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Mind Games-Karen Wiesner

Mind Games
Karen Wiesner
Whiskey Creek, Oct 2010, $17.95
ISBN: 9781603138086

In the Chicago underground, for over two and a half decades, Dr. Jocelyn Dominica has been the chief of the top secret Network Psychiatric Department. Those who meet her, even her clients mostly field operatives, consider her an iceberg as she never displays emotion; and has not since her marriage to Oversight Board member Chase Giovanni ended. Over the years both have acted professionally as each understands the mission comes before hurt feelings as the only way to leave the network is in a body bag.

Recently Jocelyn has begun to notice a decline in her mental skills. Medical informs her she suffers from an incurable brain tumor. When she informs Chase she has a few months left to live, he is mortified as he never stopped loving his Jocelyn. As her health deteriorates, Jocelyn is placed on medical leave and moved to a safe house high in the mountains where she is expected to die. Her only companion is Scout the German Shepherd who will protect her and Matt the paramedic who will relieve her of pain. Chase wants to be with her as she is dying, but duty comes first as he works a sensitive case with ties to the president. Jocelyn calls him to inform him Matt has vanished and someone wants to move up her death date to yesterday. However, when Chase follows up, Matt insists he has been there the whole time.

Incognito 11 us a terrific thriller with ironically a heartfelt heroine who has been the ice queen until now; as readers will get to know Jocelyn and what motivated her seemingly detached aloofness. Chase is terrific as he is jealous of Matt and even Scout because he wants to be with his beloved as she prepares to die. As always with this powerful saga, the story line is fast-paced but extremely complicated as Karen Wiesner moves forward her overarching theme with several interrelated subplots.

Harriet Klausner

Sir Quinlan and the Swords of Valor-Chuck Black

Sir Quinlan and the Swords of Valor
Chuck Black
Multnomah, Oct 5 2010, $9.99
ISBN: 9781601421289

Across the sea live the King and his son the Prince, who will come once again to Arrethtrae to bring his knights home. Meanwhile, those dedicated warriors who have not been killed by the Dark Knight Lucius, fight him and his Shadow Warriors and the Vincenza a knights. In the bucolic village of Burkfield, Tav and Twitch are close friends until the latter refuses to go with the former to join the Swords of Valor led by Baylorr, in the fight against the encroaching darkness.

Twitcha becomes Sir Quinlan and a member of the Swords of Valor knight. When a mission goes wrong, the survivors blame Quinlan who agrees with their accusations. Feeling self-pity and humiliation he considers quitting and going home. However, instead he is dragged back into the war when the shadow knights take the Kaslite medallion, which delineates who is a Shadow from who is a Silent Knight. The war is coming to Burkfield and after meeting with the prince, Sir Quinlan finds the sacred Sword of Valor as he and the loyal Knights with their allies prepare for battle.

On a surface level, this is an action packed coming of age adventure novel filled with villains, doubters, and heroes. On a deeper level, it is also the tale of two friends who choose different paths at a pivotal point in their lives. On a profound level, the book is a powerful Christian allegory. Sir Quinlan risks his life many times, but rises to being a leader resolute in his goal of finding Lucius to end his dark reign of terror.

Harriet Klausner

Stars In The Night-Cara Putnam

Stars In The Night
Cara Putnam
Summerside, Aug 2010, $12.99
ISBN: 9781609360115

In 1942 when her sister Rosemary fails to call home in Indianapolis as she has done weekly since heading west, a worried Audra Schaeffer flies to Hollywood to find her sibling. Instead, Audra identifies her sister’s corpse.

Though encouraged to go back to Indiana, Audra chooses to remain in Southern California investigating Rosemary’s murder. She obtains work at the Hollywood Victory Caravan bond drive train where she meets actor Robert Garfield and begins her inquiry. When two other homicides occur on the train and evidence points to the culprit preparing to shut down the Hoosier permanently, Audra knows she is close to identifying her sister’s killer, but fears the man she loves is the culprit.

Stars in the Night is an entertaining WWII on the home front amateur sleuth. The key to this exciting whodunit is that the romance between the actor and the Hoosier is left in the background except when he is an obvious suspect as she fears what may prove the truth. With a strong support cast, readers will enjoy Holly wood circa 1942 as Cara Putnam provides a fast-paced tour of the underbelly.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, September 3, 2010

The Body and the Blood-Michael Lister

The Body and the Blood
Michael Lister
Five Star, Oct 6 2010, $25.95
ISBN: 9781594148934

Recovering alcoholic John Jordan is the prison chaplain at the Potter Correctional Institution, a place that affirms one of Florida’s strongest growth industries is filing away convicts. One section of the prison is the Protective Management Unit, which houses those inmates who would not survive within the general populace.

John is concerned over a note he found that states someone will be murdered. He meets a convict Justin Menge’s sister Paula who is visiting him for the first time since he was incarcerated four years ago because she now believes her sibling is innocent. John is taken aback to find his former father-in-law, also a recovering alcoholic Tom Daniels, at the prison. When John was married to Susan, he and Tom did not get along at all. Tom explains that he has a witness innmate artist Justin Menge, who will testify that another inmate Martinez raped his wife while eluding cops. However, during mass, someone somehow murders Menge in front of Jordan and Daniels who swears no one entered the victim’s locked cell. With a chance to combine his two loves of being a cop, which he was, with his regular job, John investigates the homicide while beginning to reconcile with Susan.

The latest John Jordan whodunit (see Flesh and Blood, Power in the Blood and Blood of the Lamb) is a great locked cell mystery as John and Tom struggle with how the homicide occurred. There are numerous suspects ranging from the victim’s sister to his “doppelganger” lover to the man who he was to testify against him as well as staff and other inmates. With a fabulous late twist, readers will fully relish Chaplain Jordon’s investigation.

Harriet Klausner

Warlord-Ted Bell

Ted Bell
Morrow, Sep 14 2010, $27.99
ISBN: 9780061859298

Prior to his last mission, British spy Alex Hawke met Russian artist Anastasia Korsakova on a Bermuda beach while on R&R. He falls in love with her, but his case inside the New Russia puts him against her father Count Ivan Korsakov. While he completed the mission, his beloved Anastasia dies (see Tsar).

Almost a year later, Hawke remains depressed with his only companion a bottle of rum that rarely numbs the pain inside his heart. He wants nothing to do with the espionage game until his royal friend Prince Charles begs him to help as someone threatens to assassinate the Royal family. Normally one to ignore such intimidation, Charles explains that somehow the culprit left a tome with a signature identical to the one belonging to his late uncle, Lord Mountbatten, who was murdered three decades ago. Hawke leaves Bermuda for London to begin his search for the mysterious killer. At the same time the Sword of Allah unites with the Taliban and al-Qaeda to form an evil alliance terrorizing the world.

The latest Hawke espionage thriller is an exhilarating tale that combines news headlines with the historical killing of Lord Mountbatten inside a super spy tale. Hawke’s battle with suicidal depression feels real as he lost his love while killing her father so has welcomed a Russian death squad since he returned home to Bermuda. Now, only a special case called in by the Prince of Wales can get him back on the job and out of his crippling grief. Once in London, he reverts to Hawke super counter espionage agent. Warlord is a fabulous action-packed entry, but it is the fight within the hero’s soul that makes it special.

Harriet Klausner

Sir Rowan and the Camerian Conquest-Chuck Black

Sir Rowan and the Camerian Conquest
Chuck Black
Multnomah, Oct 5 2010, $9.99
ISBN: 9781601421296

Rowan of Laos in the country of the United Citizens of Cameria was an orphan stable boy with a fascination with swords. He knew it was his destiny to be a great swordsman winning tournaments. He caught the attention of Sir Aldwyn who mentored him using a sword and taught him the code of the Prince. As time passed, he won many tourneys, but his interest in the prince dissipated as he focused on becoming the Champion of Laos.

His joy ends when he is kidnapped and held for ransom for over a year. He is finally rescued by the woman who will become his wife. Even in her small remote home, they learn of Cameria falling to those who crave power at any cost to others. Evil rules the kingdom. They devise a daring attack against the ruler. Rowan meets a long lost brother Sir Lijah who tells him the real battle for the minds and souls of the people of Arrethrae will be fought in Chessington. He asks his sibling to be the Prince’s Herald helping the people to believe in the Prince and his Father as one day justice will return with the final battle against Lucius and his Shadow Warriors.

This is the last book in the Knights of Arrethrae saga as Chuck Black uses stories in the bible to tell an action-packed adventure thriller aimed at middle school children although adults will enjoy the well written metaphoric parable. Sir Rowan is a terrific warrior who learns what matters in life and risks death and perhaps worse to achieve his revelations. Fans will appreciate Mr. Black’s strong entertaining allegory.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Dark Road to Darjeeling-Deanna Raybourn

Dark Road to Darjeeling
Deanna Raybourn
Mira, Oct 1 2010, $14,95
ISBN: 9780778328209

In 1889, Lady Julia Grey and her second husband detective Nicholas Brisbane enjoy a honeymoon in the Himalayas; not a surprising locale for this pair who met when her first spouse was twitching in his final death dance a few years ago (see Silent in the Grave). While high in the mountains, the happy couple is stunned by family visitors; Julia’s brother Plum and her sister Portia arrive with shocking news.

Portia’s former lover Jane Cavendish insists her husband Freddie was murdered in India. Brisbane couldn’t care less that Freddie’s dead as he wants time alone with his wife. However, the three siblings agree to investigate the homicide to the sleuth’s disappointment. However, he hesitantly agrees to assist his wife and in-laws, but insists they owe him big time. As the inquiry continues into boiling colonial India, they find a horde of potential killers with strong motives, but not one iota of evidence pointing specifically at any of them.

The fourth Lady Julia Grey historical mystery (see Silent in the Sanctuary and Silent on the Moor) is a superb entry in what is a strong series. Shifting continents, but still influenced by the Victorian presence in Asia, as "the sun never sets on the English Empire", Dark Road to Darjeeling is a great whodunit it that showcases the talent of Deanna Raybourn to mix humor with tension in a descriptive late nineteenth century exotic locale. Fans will want to read this terrific whodunit as the Lady Julia Grey saga continues its super storytelling.

Harriet Klausner

Ghost in Trouble-Carolyn Hart

Ghost in Trouble
Carolyn Hart
Morrow, Oct 12 2010, $19.99
ISBN 9780061915017

Heaven’s Department of Good Intentions assigns emissary Bailey Ruth Raeburn to protect Kay Clark. Bailey Ruth and Kay knew each other when they lived in Adelaide, Oklahoma.

Following the death of Kay’s former boyfriend Jack Hume, she goes to his family estate the Castle to pay her respects. However, while she is visiting the family, a large vase crashes near her almost hammering Kay. Bailey, as Kay's "assistant”, Francie de Sales, investigates who is trying to harm her employer and why while ignoring heavenly operating procedures for earthly visits, which she knows makes her boss Wiggins’ halo red with ire. When she and Bailey begin to believe Jack did not just accidentally fall as reported, but was murdered, like a dog with a rawhide bone they chew on the clues while intensifying their inquiry.

The third heavenly ghost whodunit (see Ghost at Work and Merry, Merry Ghost) is an entertaining paranormal whodunit starring a delightful optimist heroine who is more optimist than the Little Engine That Could. Bailey Ruth believes rules even divined from heaven need to be bent (Wiggins would accuse her of breaking them) if the on the ground scenario demands it as she is the field operative. With a strong investigation by the two amateur sleuths, sub-genre readers will relish the antics of the heavenly heroine who is all “Hart”.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Valley of Dry Bones-Priscilla Royal

Valley of Dry Bones
Priscilla Royal
Poisoned Pen, Nov 2 2010, $24.95
ISBN 9781590587638

In 1274 Queen Eleanor is coming to the Tyndal Priory on a pilgrimage. Ahead of her Highness’ visit, an advanced party of courtiers arrives to set up her visit including places for the monarch to stop.

Tyndal Prioress Eleanor struggles with the royal invasion even before the Queen comes. Besides dealing with the pompous members of court demanding all sorts of inane things, she must deal with the overbearing odious Baron Otes bartering land for salvation. However, Eleanor handles everyone and everything with aplomb and prayers until someone murders the pompous Baron. Suspicion is cast on his traveling companions and those who live at or near Tyndal. Eleanor sets out to find the killer so that her place of worship is not misconstrued as a sinful place even as she firmly believes God knows the truth.

The latest Prioress Eleanor’s medieval mystery (see Forsaken Soul and Chambers of Death) is a fabulous whodunit with a nod to The Pardoner’s Tale in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. The story line starts off by insuring the readers know the key cast members so when murder occurs on the eve of the royal visit, suspects abound as motives are plentiful. Readers will relish this strong entry as pure capitalist ventures (then and now) include the selling of salvation.

Harriet Klausner

To Fetch a Thief-Spencer Quinn

To Fetch a Thief
Spencer Quinn
Atria, Sep 28 2010, $25.00
ISBN: 9781439157077

Peanut the elephant and his handler-tamer Uri DeLeath disappear from the Drummond Family Traveling Circus. Uri's partner Popo the clown fears the worst. Attending the circus are Bernie Little and his son. When Peanut the star fails to show up, Bernie’s son Charlie asks his dad of the Little Detective Agency to investigate. They meet Popo who hires Bernie to find Uri and peanut as the cops insist the elephant trainer just quit.

Bernie and his partner Chet the canine follow the trail mostly by the dog sniffing for clues. They receive some help from Police Sergeant Rick Torres, but for the most part the cops say case closed. When the private detective finds the body of Uri, who died from the bite of an African puff adder, the cops proclaim it an accident. The sleuths think otherwise and continue their quest to find the elephant abductors.

The latest Chet and Bernie Little Detective mystery (see Dog On It and Thereby Hangs a Tail) is a witty investigative tale of the tail. The case is fun follow as the antics of Chet serving as the lead sleuth are amusing. Yet what makes this series superb is that with all the jocularity, there remains an underlying serious tense inquiry as the mystery is top of the line.

Harriet Klausner

The Templar Salvation-Raymond Khoury

The Templar Salvation
Raymond Khoury
Dutton, Oct 19 2010, $26.95
ISBN 9780525951841

In 1310, Templar knight Conrad of Tripoli accidentally finds a treasure of ancient writings from Christian early days. Following the fall of Constantinople in 1453, the Church hid the material out of fear that what it contains could destroy the faith especially in the Church.

In the 1950s, a CIA hit team killed the family of Iranian Mansoor Zahed. The only survivor of the massacre he has patiently prayed for the day he can enact vengeance on the west. He knows the avenue would be to find the Conrad documents and release it to destroy one of the pillars of western religious thought. When his lover Tess Chaykin is kidnapped, FBI special agent Sean Reilly follows clues that take him to the Vatican where he believes a document exists that might prove the key to bringing home safely his beloved.

This is an exhilarating thriller with a strong historical core setting up the present day saga. The story line is action-packed from the opening fourteenth century find and never misses a beat as the centuries go by. Readers will fully appreciate the powerful fast-paced Templar Salvation as a worthy sequel to Reilly starring in the terrific Last Templar.

Harriet Klausner

The God Hater-Bill Myers

The God Hater
Bill Myers
Howard, (Simon and Schuster) Oct 5 2010, $14.99
ISBN: 9781439153260

Sexagenarian philosophy Professor Nicholas Mackenzie is a brilliant thinker who has no use for the human race and is a recluse. His only exception is his meetings with Professor Annie Banks; who gives him arguments defending her position that matches his opposite stance. The subject is God and when a tragedy occurred in his life he became an atheist.

His brother Travis is a genius at programming. He uses cloak and dagger techniques to draw Nicholas to his lab where he and other computer scientists formed an A.I. population that thinks and feels as much as its creators do. Every philosophical theory they bring to the computer society results in the death of that civilization. Nicholas the ultimate philosophical thinker is asked to determine if he can prevent society from self destructing. Using micro-technology he downloads his personality into the sentient computer world where his actions end up imitating those of Christ though he is unaware of what he is doing. He just hopes his actions will teach people how live a better life within a caring nurturing society.

As always with a Bill Myers’ novel, readers know they will receive a terrific pulse-pounding storyline with underlying strong Christian principles. Nicholas is a fascinating person as he and his virtual doppelganger come to love their “sim” people especially those based on his family. The “sim” Nicholas embrace the emotions the flesh Nicholas buried many years ago. In a sort of bringing King Solomon into the virtual age, wisdom (including science and art) without caring passion is amoral.

Harriet Klausner