Thursday, September 29, 2011

Promise Keeper-Mary Fremont Schoenecker

Promise Keeper

Mary Fremont Schoenecker

Five Star, Oct 21 2011, $25.95

ISBN 9781432825379

Suzanne Petrone left the Monet masterpiece Les Bateaux rouges, Argenteuil at her boyfriend Paul Fontaine’s New York Cornerstone Gallery. She left for Sarasota, Florida, but two days later thugs broke into the gallery injuring Paul and stealing the painting. While Paul recovers from his severe leg injury at his ailing father Jacques’ place in Maine, Suzanne has vanished but a reputable Sarasota, Florida art dealer reports someone tried to sell him the stolen painting.

Paul travels to Florida to assist the FBI on the theft. He meets and confronts Suzanne who explains her paternal link to the painting, but he rightfully distrusts her. Paul also stays in touch with his Tante Margaret who is caring for his dad while Jacques’ young second wife is vising a sick relative.

The story line starts slow as readers meet the extended Fontaine family in the latest Maine Shore Chronicles (see Moonglade and Finding Fiona), but accelerates somewhat once Paul travels to Florida. Paul holds the story line focused as he searches for the truth about the woman he loves and worries about the health of his
Harriet Klausner
beloved dad; although the latter detracts form the suspense. More a character study than a suspense thriller, readers will enjoy Paul’s Floridian adventure.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Picture of Lies-C.C. Harrison

Picture of Lies

C.C. Harrison

Five Star, Oct 21 2011, $25.95

ISBN: 9781432825065

Ever since her little girl Daisy was snatched on the San Diego beach, investigative reporter Keegan Thomas lives in a world of anger, rage and depression. The cops declared the abduction a cold case, but not to Keegan. The Offbeat Arizona magazine writer has gained numerous awards and national attention with her series on missing children; five of whom went home.

Her relationship with Jeffrey over, but still on vacation, Keegan decides to visit Monument Valley where her grandfather was a Bureau of Indian Affairs doctor on the Navajo Indian Reservation. Her cousin gave her an old photo of her grandfather with other people who she plans to meet and interview for a potential article.

The Navaho refuse to cooperate with the “Nosy Pants” reporter; who wants to chat with any of those in the photo still living. Jilly Wolf introduces the journalist to her grandmother. Keegan learns that missionaries took one of the children in the picture. Soon afterward someone murders Jilly's grandmother. Not sure why, Keegan knows an unknown predator will kill apparently to keep buried secrets interred. With assistance from archeologist Dante “Shovel Bum” Covelli, she begins to learn why but she may be the next victim silenced by those who want the truth to remain hidden.

The entertaining return to Monument Valley (see The Charmstone) with a different heroine is an engaging romantic suspense thriller that once again includes a deep look at Navajo customs and recent history. Keegan is a fascinating lead who has never been the same since the traumatic abduction. Although somewhat over the top of Kings Peak, fans will relish a dedicated no longer whole heroine trying to do what is right for the little victims of family disputes.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Christmas at Timberwoods-Fern Michaels

Christmas at Timberwoods

Fern Michaels

Zebra, Oct 1 2011, $7.99

ISBN: 9780821775875

The holidays are always the busiest time of the year for stores. It is also the most hectic for security workers. Heather Andrews is the security manager at the Timberwoods Mall as the Christmas holiday shopping season begins; which means much longer hours requiring greater vigilance as besides shoppers coming out so do thieves.

The mall’s holiday designer Angela Steinhart informs Heather she has visions of doom at Timberwoods. Angela insists her premonitions come true. Although Heather wants to ignore the obviously upset and disturbed woman as a nut, she knows to never ignore any possible threat. However, pressure mounts on Angela to be quiet to the point the loner who is unable to cope vanishes. Heather and her boss Felex Lassiter take serious any possible threat but keep it low keyed so as to avoid causing a panic when in all probability Angela’s visions are delusional.

This is a strong romantic suspense with the security during the packed mall season being the lead subplot. Fast-paced and cast driven by troubled Angela, dedicated Heather, and loyal Lex; readers will enjoy the countdown to death and destruction for those enjoying Christmas at Timberwoods.

Harriet Klausner

The Cheaters / Dial M for Man-Orrie Hitt

The Cheaters / Dial M for Man

Orrie Hitt

Stark House, Oct 28 2011, $19.95

ISBN: 978-1933586359

“The Cheaters." Big twentyish Clint Mayer leaves his hometown of Beaverkill for working class Wilton. He meets Charlie Fletcher, owner of a bar near the docks. Charlie also runs a prostitution ring, in which he pays Police Detective Red Brandon extortion money. Clint offers to buy out Charlie’s businesses until he meets the man’s wife Debbie. He revises his business plan to include Debbie. However, he failed to understand how ambitious and lethal Debbie is.

“Dial M For Man.” TV repairman Hob Sampson makes a house call to fix the set of Doris Condon, wife of wealthy Ferris who holds a grudge against him. Upon seeing the beautiful blonde bombshell, Hob knows she is trouble for him. He tries to focus on his Kathy, but like a moth to a light he cannot resist Doris. Although he knows what he does is amoral, Hob needs Ferris eliminated so he can be with Doris; who has a different ending in mind for her new knight in shining armor,

These two exciting 1950s pulp fiction reprints share a common theme as outlined in the Afterward (by Michael Hemmingson) of a man losing his moral compass to a femme fatale married to a rich older person. Both entries are mindful of James M. Cain’s Double Indemnity, as Orrie Hitt provides two exciting character driven thrillers that will have readers seeking more from an author who brings out the gritty sleazy side of 1950s towns; Brian Ritt's Introduction provides more on Mr. Hitt's sense of place.

Harriet Klausner

Reunion-Carl Brookins


Carl Brookins

Echelon, Aug 31 2011, $13.99

ISBN: 9781590806685

Jack Marston is the student services director at City College in Minneapolis. He lives with his beloved Lori Jacobs. When she receives an invitation to attend the Riverview class of 1989 twenty year high school reunion, Lori hesitates as she says little about her teen years. Jack agrees to accompany her though she seems reluctant. He figures he will learn so much about the woman he loves when they visit her roots.

The first night dinner and icebreaker is held at Georgina’s 40-Mile Club. However, the return home proves brutal as someone murders former quarterback Elroy Guteman near the club. More homicides follow as Jack and Lori become embroiled in Sheriff Arnason's investigation into a vicious pack eating alumni.

The latest Jack Marston amateur sleuth (see Bloody halls) is an entertaining whodunit as a serial killer with a vendetta attacks the class of 89. The story line is fast-paced from the moment the lead couple arrives in Riverview and never slows until the final confrontation. Readers will enjoy this strong Minnesota thriller as Jack learns you get what you wish for as he knows a lot about his girlfriend’s past now since it is deadly haunting the present.

Harriet Klausner

The Chocolate Castle Clue-JoAnna Carl

The Chocolate Castle Clue

JoAnna Carl

Obsidian, Oct 4 2011, $22.95

ISBN: 9780451234742

In Warner Pier, Michigan, TenHuis Chocolade is owned by Aunt Nettie, but run by her Texas niece Lee Woodyard. After delaying for months cleaning out the storage room, Lee begins the task finding stuff that are four decades old including a trophy and related paraphernalia form over forty years ago when the singing group Pier-O-Ettes won a contest at Castle Ballroom; Aunt Nettie and five other young girls made up the group.

The singing group is having a reunion and everyone associated with the sextet is elated except elderly angry Mrs. Rice, the wife of the late Daniel, owner of the long demolished Castle Ballroom. Mrs. Rice tells Lee and her husband Joe that her aunt is a slut just like the other singers and this time they will get what they deserved over forty years ago when Rice died from a gunshot to the heart. When someone murders Mrs. Rice, Lee becomes the next target as she learns the Pier-O-Ettes were tied to the death four decades ago, but the secrets of how and why remain concealed.

The latest Chocoholic cozy (see The Chocolate Pilot Plot) is an entertaining whodunit as Lee is caught at the angle of a death forty plus years ago and a murder today. The exciting story line includes chocolate trivia, but it is the two deaths of the Rice couple four decades apart that make for an enjoyable amateur sleuth as Lee learns reunions can prove deadly.

Harriet Klausner

Skeleton Letters-Laura Childs

Skeleton Letters

Laura Childs

Berkley Prime Crime, Oct 4 2011, $25.95

ISBN: 9780425243893

Memory Mine scrapbooking shop owner Carmella Bertrand and JuJu Voodoo store owner Ava Gruiex visit historic spooky St. Tristan’s Church in New Orleans’ French Quarter. The friends hear a noise followed by a scream and a crash. A hooded figure pushed a statue onto Byrle Coopersmith, a regular attendee at Carmella’s scrapbook group. The culprit escapes as Ava calls 911. They also learn that an ancient crucifix apparently was stolen also.

NOPD Detective Edgar Babcock warns his girlfriend Carmella to stay out of the investigation as he knows she is prone to snoop. He also tells her the killer used blunt force with St. Sebastian as the murder weapon. However when Babcock fails to take the lead and encouraged by the scrapbook regulars who do not trust dispassionate detective Bobby Gallant to dig deep, Carmella and Ava investigate the murder of a friend.

Although amateur sleuths coincidentally finding a corpse and feeling compelled to behave foolishly by investigating are not new concepts (see Death Swatch), readers will enjoy the latest scrapbooking mystery (see Fiber & Brimstone) as the BFFs place themselves in danger with their inquiry. The cozy is fun to follow and there are plenty of scrapbooking tips. Fans of the series will root for the dynamic duo as they work the case of a regular murdered in a church.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, September 25, 2011

A Dark and Lonely Place-Edna Buchanan

A Dark and Lonely Place

Edna Buchanan

Simon & Schuster, Nov 8 2011, $26.00

ISBN 9781439159170

In 1904 West Florida, Joe Ashley comes home late informing his wife Leugenia that they and their nine kids must leave immediately as a man was shot and he will be accused. His son John grabs his guitar and banjo before running to see his girlfriend Laura Upthegrove to say goodbye for now. However, John is falsely accused of murder and with Laura at his side flees with much of the state’s law enforcement in pursuit.

In 2011 Miami Beach, homicide detective John Ashley leads the investigation into the high profile murder of politically connected Indian lawyer Ron Jon Eagle. However, he is stunned when he notices a model Summer Smith at a photo shoot who looks identical to the woman who has haunted his dreams for years; though he has never mentioned his fantasy female to his fiancé cop Tracy Dominguez. He also believes she sort of recognized him too by her reaction. John catches up with his model, but soon is accused of murder and forced on the lam with Laura (Summer’s real name) at his side while many of the state’s law enforcement pursue.

This is an exhilarating thriller as the premise to A Dark and Lonely Place is history repeats the ugly scenarios because humanity fails to truly understand the lessons instead preferring to forget. The two subplots are fascinating with the historical segue based on a real Sunshine State Bonnie and Clyde. Although at times the contemporary plot seems stretched to make it appear identical to what happened to the first John and Laura, readers will enjoy Edna Buchanan’s taut thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Scotched-Kaitlyn Dunnett


Kaitlyn Dunnett

Kensington, Nov 1 2011, $22.00

ISBN: 9780758238818

In Moosetookalook, Maine the Spruces Hotel hosts the First Annual Maine-ly Cozy Con for mystery fans who prefer limited violence and no graphic sex. The headline at the May gala is actress turned mystery writer Yvonne Quinlan. Also attending is odious blogger J. Nedlinger, who described the actress’ book as trash to be tossed out. The town’s storekeepers look forward to the gala as they expect plenty of cozy aficionados will buy items from shops such as at Liss MacCrimmon’s everything plaid Scottish Emporium.

However, the Con turns graphically ugly when Nedlinger falls off Lover’s Leap cliff. While no one liked the vicious unscrupulous blogger, everyone assumes it was a horrible accident. However, Liss reconsiders that premise when she realizes how many people celebrate the death of J. Nedlinger. When another victim surfaces, Liss and her town cohorts investigate who is murdering the Con.

Scotched is an engaging MacCrimmon amateur sleuth as the heroine and her BFFs look into the homicides. The background of a cozy Con makes for a fun retinue as does springtime in Maine. Cozy fans will enjoy attending the First Annual Maine-ly Cozy Con.

Harriet Klausner

Bad Moon-Todd Ritter

Bad Moon

Todd Ritter

Minotaur, Oct 11 2011, $24.99

ISBN: 9780312622817

In 1969 as Neil Armstrong steps on the moon, the parents of nine year old Charlie Olmstead go to get him to watch on TV, but he is not in his bedroom as they thought. Perry Hollow, Pennsylvania Police Chief Jim Campbell leads the search that ends when they find the lad’s bike at the bottom of a nearby waterfall. Although his body was never found, the cops assumed he drowned.

Four decades later, Charlie’s brother Eric has returned to Perry Hollow to bury his mother. In honor of his mom who never gave up the hope her son would come home, he asks his high school girlfriend Police Chief Kat Campbell to reopen the cold case disappearance of his sibling. Eric also hires injured former state police officer turned cold case investigator Nick Donnelly to look into his brother’s disappearance. The trio finds newspaper clippings in the house of Eric’s late mom. Kat does a follow-up having a much better data base than her dad had; she uncovers the fact that several children vanished in what was called accidents during moon landings. As the threesome connect the dots of an apparent serial killer, Kat’s fifth grade son James resents his single mom spending all her time on the inquiry and none on him.

The second Kat and Nick collaboration (see Death Notice) is a terrific investigative thriller that grips the reader from the onset and several stunning but plausible spins later leaves fans satiated yet craving a third team-up soonest. The story line is fast-paced while rolling back the years using the successes and failures of NASA as a launch into political upheavals over forty years. Bad Moon is a powerful serial killer whodunit.

Harriet Klausner

The Blood-Red Indian Summer-David Handler

The Blood-Red Indian Summer

David Handler

Minotaur, Oct 11 2011, $24.99

ISBN: 9780312648350

The NFL suspends volatile New York superstar linebacker Tyrone "Da Beast" Grantham for the season due to his off the field “beasted” assaults that are detrimental to the league’s image. Da Beast takes his six children from five women and his fawning horde from the Big Apple to a mansion in Dorset, Connecticut.

However, his idyllic time out of the limelight to allow civil suits against him to be settled and maybe get him reinstated ends when his teenage sister-in-law Kinitra a popular singer is rescued from certain drowning by neighbor scrawny Jewish-American film critic Mitch Berger and his moving parents on the Gold Coast; she is bloodied and battered. The cops suspect Da Beast who has a reputation for Beasted behavior. Even his pregnant wife Jamella, sister to the victim, believes her spouse battered her sibling. As the media drives north from New York to invade Dorset, two of the linebacker’s biggest critics are executed. Berger’s lover six-foot plus African-American Connecticut state trooper Desiree "Des" Mitry leads the investigation assisted by her depressed dad the Deacon recovering from heart surgery and Mitch.

The latest Des-Mitch investigation (see The Shimmering Blond Sister) is a great whodunit that combines a strong inquiry with human interest. Besides the well written whodunit, there is Da Beast’s legacy mindful of NFL stars' legal problems, another neighbor turning into a demented voyeur, and the tsuris the parents of the lead protagonists face as age is catching up to them. Readers will enjoy this engaging Connecticut murder mystery as David Handler provides a super combo of sports headline news with personal problems inside of an attempted murder and homicide investigation.

Harriet Klausner

Burned-Thomas Enger


Thomas Enger

Atria, Oct 4 2011, $15.00

ISBN: 9781451616453

In 2007 Oslo, the arsonist set the home of investigative reporter Henning Juul ablaze. Henning survived with sever burns to his face and other body parts while his young son Jonas died in the inferno. His marriage to reporter Nora Klemetsen also went up in smoke. Unable to work Henning takes a two year hiatus before returning to work at 123news.

His current boss Heidi Kjus was one of the many journalists he mentored. She assigns him to work with Iver Gundersen, who is stepping out with Nora, on the homicide of twentyish Henriette Hagerup. The victim was found inside a tent on Ekeberg Common where she was partially interred, her body battered and a hand severed. OPD Detective Investigator Bjarne Brogeland focuses on the Westerdals School of Communication film student’s Pakistani boyfriend Mahmoud Marhoni with the motive being a sharia honor kill as her texting implies she was dating someone else and he tried to flee from the cops. The virtual tips from 6tiermes7 Juul centers his inquiry on Henriette’s screenplay A Sharia Caste co-written with Anette Skoppum.

This is an intriguing Norwegian whodunit as the motive is the key to solving the case. All the circumstantial evidence points to a Sharia kill by her boyfriend, but Juul helped by an on line informant looks at the screenplay as the cause. Juul’s mental state surfaces when he and the killer witness one another while the latter murders again. Although the mystery contains too many headline issues especially involving Muslim expatriates living in Denmark, readers will root for Burned out Juul to solve the homicide.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Deception at Lyme: Or, The Peril of Persuasion-Carrie Bebris

The Deception at Lyme: Or, The Peril of Persuasion

Carrie Bebris

Tor, Sep 27 2011, $22.99

ISBN: 9780765327970

Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth Darcy, accompanied by his sister Georgiana and their infant Lily-Anne, travel to Lyme on a combination holiday and family matters. Fitzwilliam and Georgiana are at the seaside village to collect the personal items left behind by their naval cousin William who died in combat.

Not long after they arrive in Lyme, at the base of the Cobb seawall, they find the body of pregnant Mrs. Clay, who had just married Sir Walter Elliot. Apparently the victim was carrying the offspring of William. Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth believe the loose woman was pushed to insure inheritance did not change. As they investigate the pair begins to believe William was a murder victim too. Allied with Captain Frederick Wentworth, the Darcy detecting duet make inquires into the death of a woman at the seawall and the death of a sailor at sea.

The latest Mr. and Mrs. Darcy amateur sleuth (see The Matter at Mansfield and The Intrigue at Highbury) is a delightful Regency mystery in which characters from Jane Austen’s Persuasion play key roles. The lead couple and his sister are fully developed; while the rest of the cast is solid to the delight of Janeites. With insight into naval matters in the early nineteenth century enlightening and adding to an exhilarating whodunit, too much overseas activity slows down the otherwise fast-paced strong historical investigate thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, September 23, 2011

Three-Day Town-Margaret Maron

Three-Day Town

Margaret Maron

Grand Central, Nov 21 2011, $25.99

ISBN: 9780446555784

They were life long friends, but last year out of the blue Colleton County Sheriff’s Deputy Dwight Bryant proposed to North Carolina Judge Deborah Knott. She accepted in what she thought would be a marriage of convenience between two older people. Instead love adds passion to their dependable relationship.

Married for one year, the judge and the deputy take Amtrak to New York on a belated honeymoon. The couple is staying at an Upper West Side Apartment belonging to his sister-in-law Kate. Deborah also has a special bronze sculpture small enough to place in Dwight’s bag as a gift from dying Jane Lattimore to her daughter photojournalist Anne Lattimore Harald. Anne’s husband NYPD Lieutenant Sigrid Harald swings by to pick it up as a party is in swing in the apartment next to the one the honeymooners are staying in. When Sigrid and Deborah enter Kate’s apartment, they find the corpse of Sidney the super on the balcony and the sculpture missing. Unable to resist Deborah and Dwight assist Sigrid on the investigation.

The latest Deborah Knott whodunit (see Christmas Mourning) is a delightful refreshing tale as the North Carolina couple finds their Manhattan honeymoon interrupted by murder and robbery. The mystery is clever with roots to 1942; while part of the fun is the lofty attitude of urbane New Yorkers to the country bumpkins as the sophisticated urbanites assume that the entire South lacks six degrees of separation. Fans will enjoy this fine entry enhanced by Margaret Maron having Sigrid (see in Past Imperfect and Fugitive Colors) as the lead investigator.

Harriet Klausner

National Security-Marc Cameron

National Security

Marc Cameron

Pinnacle, Nov 1 2011, $7.99

ISBN: 9780786024940

A day in infamy, 9/11 was the worst attack on American soil, but it is not last by terrorists or even potentially the most dangerous. Like the Oklahoma City bomber did, a cell of terrorists after years of assembling the needed ingredients drive a truck into a shopping mall killing thousands including sacrificing themselves as martyrs to their cause.

On an American plane, an Ebola like virus rapidly spreads attacking everyone on board. With no other recourse to prevent the spread beyond the tomb of a plane, the military blows up the jet, killing the dying hundreds on board. The French send samples from a top secret lab that contained the man made virus funded by Sheik Hussein al Ferroq. He plans to deploy Typhoid Mary like carriers to spread the disease across American; killing millions. Special Agent Jericho Quinn, who reports directly to the Director of National Intelligence and the President, is assigned to assassinate the “Marys” before the dormant biological bomb they carry inside their body goes active.

Marc Cameron provides a deep look into the mind of a terrorist whose ism is the only icon their brain carries. In this case, the martyrs believe they are doing what the prophet would expect of them. Quinn will remind readers of Captain America (without a sidekick) as he gave up much of his personal life including his wife and daughter to become the ultimate warrior. Somewhat pulp fiction, readers will enjoy this totally entertaining thriller; as a quintessential American hero fight terrorists to keep people safe.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

In Close-Brenda Novak

In Close

Brenda Novak

Mira, Oct 25 2011, $7.99

ISBN: 9780778312666

In Pineview, Montana fifteen years ago, Alana O'Toole vanished without a trace. The disappearance was never solved as the case went cold. One of Alana’s two daughters Claire suffered another loss last year when her husband David began an inquiry into what happened to his mother-in-law only to die in an accident.

With a need to know and to pay homage to David, Claire begins an investigation into her mom’s disappearance. Her former boyfriend Isaac Morgan offers to help her though he thinks her probe is a waste of time; he still loves her and feels bad with how their relationship ended badly. However, he becomes fully engaged when he finds evidence that David did not die in an accident; making him think the man found something that required his silence. Someone they know may have killed her mom and murdered her spouse.

This is a terrific small-town amateur sleuth in which the romantic subplot enhances the prime story line of someone apparently silencing those getting close to the truth. Like the lead female, readers wonder if the culprit is a family member as her paralyzed sister and her step parents want her to drop her obsession. As the killer has to be In Close to Claire with Pineview being a tiny town, fans will relish this tense psychological thriller in which an unknown predator kills anyone who learns the truth.

Harriet Klausner

Against the Storm-Kat Martin

Against the Storm

Kat Martin
Mira, Oct 25 2011, $7.99

ISBN: 9780778312925

In Houston, former Army Ranger, private investigator Trace Rawlins will tell you dames are trouble; but redheads are the most troublesome of the breed. He knows first hand as his argument is built around his ex wife Maggie O’Connell the photographer.

Someone stalks Maggie sending her nasty messages and calling her with ugly threats. Though he feels he was born yesterday when it comes to her, Trace knows nothing adds up as he senses she conceals something from him and the cops appear indifferent to her plight. Still in love with her, Trace distrusts his former spouse but he cannot help himself as he has a deep gut need to protect her from whoever is assaulting her.

The third Raines of Wind Canyon (Against the Law and Against the Wind) romantic suspense is a tense psychological thriller in which the terror campaign takes top seat over the second chance at love subplot. Fast-paced with two obstinate fully developed protagonists, readers will feel the growing tension but are unsure what is going on as reasonable twists fool the audience and the hero. Kat Martin is at her best with Against the Storm.

Harriet Klausner

The Heart of a Killer-Jaci Burton

The Heart of a Killer

Jaci Burton

Mira, Oct 18 2011, $7.99

ISBN: 9780778312598

Twelve years ago, Anna Pallino worked at an ice cream parlor. She was near closing waiting for her boyfriend Dante Renaldi and his foster brothers (Gabe, Roman and Jeff) to arrive for their nightly freebie. She goes to the dark alley to toss the trash, but someone assaults her with a knife. They hear her scream and rush to the alley where Dante tackles her attacker. The man dies. Anna has the boys flee so they can avoid juvie, but her relationship with Dante died that night too.

Encouraged by her dad Frank, Dante joined the army and for the next dozen years was in the Special Forces. Now his beloved foster mother Ellen Clemens asks him to come home for her twenty-fifth anniversary gala; he would do anything for her and George so he returns to St. Louis for the first time since that night in the alley. However, his return is marred by the murder of George that copy cats what went down in the same alley twelve years ago. St. Louis homicide detective Anna leads the investigating in which her former boyfriend is a prime suspect. More similar murders follow with Anna wondering whether the man she loves is a cold killer.

The Heart of a Killer is a tense second chance police procedural filled with a surprising twist that seems over the top of the Arch. Action-packed, readers will enjoy the marred homecoming of Dante as he struggles with the death of beloved George, helping Ellen with her loss and keeping Anna safe while being the prime suspect.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Lost Women of Lost Lake-Ellen Hart

The Lost Women of Lost Lake

Ellen Hart

Minotaur, Sep 27 2011, $25.99

ISBN: 9780312614775

Playwright Tessa Cornell severely sprains her ankle. Her wife of twenty six years Jill Ivorsen cares for her mate at the Thunderhook Lodge she owns by Lost Lake. Minneapolis restaurant owner (of Lyme House and the Xanadu Club) Jane Lawless and her best friend the Allen Grimsby Repertoire Theater of St. Paul artist director Cordelia Thorn travel to Lost Lake to help their friends with a sundry of things like cooking.

A man wearing a White Sox shirt arrives at the LaVasser Soda Fountain seeking information about a woman named Judy Clark who is in a Chicago photo from 1968 with the deceased Jeff Briere. Owner Lyndie LaVasser says she cannot help Steven Feigenbaumer as she has no idea who this woman he seeks is. However, she sees Judy Clark whenever she looks into a mirror. Frantic Lyndie calls Tessa accusing her of getting her in the mess over five decades ago. Jane arrives and knows something besides her ankle bothers Tessa, but the woman refuses to reveal what disturbs her. Her wife begs Jane, who has solved mysteries before (see the Cruel Ever Affair), to investigate.

This is a great Jane Lawless amateur sleuth as what happened in riotous 1968 Chicago impacts the present with a long dead cold case returning to life haunting everyone involved. The is some teen triangular angst involving Jill’s nephew and two locals, and Jane may have a new beau; both enhance the prime story line of what happened over five decades ago that haunt Lyndie and Tessa.

Harriet Klausner

Sup With the Devil-Barbara Hamilton

Sup With the Devil

Barbara Hamilton

Berkley, Oct 4 2011, $14.00

ISBN: 9780425243206

Seventeen years old Harvard oriental language student Horace Thaxter sends a note his Aunt Abigail Adams in Boston saying someone who his two uncles John and Mercer gave a reference to tried to kill him. Abigail heads to Cambridge where Horace tells her that Mrs. Lake hired him to translate Arabic. He explains to his aunt the note was written in Arabic letters but as if it was English and the content involved a 1688 meeting between pirate Captain Jezebel Pitts and Governor Morgan. After completing the project, Mrs. Lake is upset that there is no reference in the note about the Devil’s Treasure she seeks. She gave Horace some food, which he insists were poisoned and her thugs abandoned him on a remote road; a farmer saved his life.

As Abigail investigates what happened to her nephew, someone murders another student George Fairfield who had remained loyal to King-George. Abigail expands her inquiry from the lost treasure to the homicide while The Sons of Liberty want the allegedly cursed gold as do loyalists, neutralists and avarice souls.

The latest Abigail Adams mystery (see The Ninth Daughter) is a great pre Revolutionary War whodunit that brings out the divisions between residents of Massachusetts as many oppose combat against the king. The investigation is clever as intelligent Abigail shows why she would one day be one of the more brilliant Fist Lady’s. However, it is the historical tidbits, (like the oriental languages which include Russian, Persian, Arabic and biblical Aramaic, but not Chinese or Japanese) that anchors this great tale. Barbara Hamilton writes a delightful Abigail Adams tale one year after the tea.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, September 19, 2011

Razor's Edge-Shannon Butcher

Razor's Edge

Shannon Butcher

Signet, Nov 1 2011, $7.99

ISBN 9780451235206

Mr. Chord of Chord Industries believes his newest employee Mary Smith is a thief. He hires Roxanne "Razor" Haught to prove Miss Innocent is an industrial espionage agent. Roxanne has Mr. Chord throw a party in which the target knows his firm’s plans for their latest invention is in his safe. The corporate security expert watches Mary steal Chord’s key card before catching Mary in the act. After a brief denial, Mary flings the thumb drive out the window and battles Roxanne before being subdued. The other thief escapes.

Roxanne’s boss Bella Payne of Edge tells her the client is pissed that they failed to capture the other thief. Roxanne apologizes for her failure to recognize more than one thief was involved and admits her ex has distracted her with men following her. Bella tells Roxanne she is off the Chord case and anything else until her civilian life is fixed. She also will have a babysitter Tanner O'Connell who ignores Razor's contention she does not need a protector. As they fall in love, someone else she cherishes is in trouble while killers attack her.

The second Edge investigative thriller (see Living on the Edge) is a tense tale from start to finish. Fast-paved and loaded with action, the suspense never abates even for the attraction between the lead couple or for a family reunion. With a strong flawed lead couple, a vile villain with a cause, and a solid support cast especially her friend Jake and his brother Reid, Shannon Butcher once again proves she is consistently one of the best at romantic suspense with her emphasis on the taut thriller story line.

Harriet Klausner

If You Hear Her-Shiloh Walker

If You Hear Her

Shiloh Walker

Ballantine, Oct 25 2011, $7.99

ISBN 9780345517531

in Ash, Kentucky, Lena Riddle while walking her dog Puck hears a frightening scream of “help me” from the woods just beyond her house. She calls the cops, but they find nothing in the woods to confirm her assertion that a woman is in trouble. Still she knows how her acute hearing compensates for her being blind and how stoic Puck normally is but he reacted too.

Six months ago Kentucky State Police officer Ezra King took a bullet in his leg; he walked away limping from law enforcement as more than just his leg was injured. In Ash, he is attracted to Lena so he decides to insure she is safe by investigating the screams she has reported she has heard in the nearby woods.

If You Hear Her is an exciting over the top of the Black Mountain romantic suspense thriller that rotates perspective between a gleeful serial killer and the lead couple. With a cliffhanger ending, the story line contains several subplots that add action, but detract from the prime theme of a heated romance between the cop and the chef while a psychopath continues a nearby killing spree.

Harriet Klausner

Half-Passed Dawn-Richard Doetsch

Half-Passed Dawn

Richard Doetsch

Atria, Sep 27 2011, $25.00

ISBN: 9781439183977

Manhattan District Attorney Jack Keeler wakes up with no memory of what happened last night. He notices the stiches binding a wound in his shoulder that he has no idea how he got it and looks in a mirror to see a cut over his eye. Confused and frightened, Jack also notices a tattoo on his entire forearm in an apparently a foreign alphabet. In a state of panic, he calls out to his beloved wife Mia the FBI agent and their two young daughters Hope and Sara but no one responds.

He notices newspaper headlines: “New York City District Attorney Jack Keeler Dead” as his car fell off the Rider Bridge. Mia is dead too. Jack calls his friend retired Frank Archer who is stunned as he read the paper. Frank rushes over, but an intruder enters Jack’s home. They tackle him as he is about to leave with the Keeler file and two teddy bears belonging to Hope and Sara. As Frank and Jack work on reconstructing what happened, the beleaguered D.A. realizes Mia lives but was abducted. He begins a quest to save his Mia, but the answers lie in a maximum security prison and a diary that allegedly predicts the future.

Author of The 13th Hour, Richard Doetsch provides a fascinating taut twister filled with numerous spins including one unexpected final climatic shocker. The story line starts with the stunning eye opener and never decelerates as a desperate Jack will do anything to save his beloved three females. Half-Passed Dawn is a superb character driven suspense tale as readers anticipate a showdown between the frantic protagonist and his apparently Oedipus Complex adversary who will kill anyone to achieve his goal; but nothing is quite like it seems.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Time Seam-Sylvia Kelso

The Time Seam

Sylvia Kelso

Five Star, Oct 21 2011, $25.95

ISBN 9781432825478

In Inisville, Australia, Doran Wild is a junior lawyer at the firm of Lewis and Cotton. Her idyllic life takes an ugly turn with the death of boyfriend geologist Chris Keogh who dies in a car crash while also being accused of criminal wrong doing. She meets time traveling North Queensland Minor reporter and mine safety activist Jimmy Keenighan. Dorian and Jimmy team up to prove he was innocent and murdered while falling in love (see Blackston Gold, Book 1 The Solitaire Ghost).

She and Jimmy continue their inquiry as they want to know what Pan-Auric has in mind as they bought the field under the town and above the famous Solitaire mine that Chris found and died for. However, the pair begins to believe there is another time traveling anomaly who if real, they fear will prove destructive as this ghost is unconcerned with collateral damage.

The second Blackston Gold paranormal romantic suspense is an exciting finish to the first tale, which fans should read to learn how the lead pair got to where they are. The story line is action-packed with much of the fun coming from Jimmy’s descriptive nineteenth century non political correct Irish metaphors. Although Pan-Auric is a stereotype of the evil corporation (reminded me of the Hudsucker Proxy’s Hudsucker Industries), The Solitaire Ghost is a terrific thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Murder by Music: The Wedding Quilt-Barbara Graham

Murder by Music: The Wedding Quilt

Barbara Graham

Five Star, Oct 21 2011, $25.95

ISBN: 9781432825447

Park County, Tennessee Sheriff Tony Abernathy is concerned that his wife, his mother and his aunt are going on a quilting retreat at the Lodge. He is worried that Theo needs rest as she is near the birthing of their twins. The sheriff is also concerned over who will watch their two young sons if he is called to duty though a neighbor has him covered.

At the Smoky Mountains hotel, Theo notices the corpse of embroidery expert Scarlet LaFleur. Instead of an accident, someone murdered Scarlet using a mandolin wire as the weapon.

Meanwhile, Tony investigate the murder of loan shark Weevil Beasley and some lunatics running around shooting signs. The county goes national when famous singer Elf LaFleur comes home only to die the same way her sister Scarlet was murdered.

The second Smokey Mountains police procedural (see Murder by Artifact) is an enjoyable whodunit as the beleaguered sheriff (and readers) has a lot to deal with including his wife wheelchair bound due to her pregnancy. The location provides a vivid background and the quilting tips are fun; while the lead couple is a likable duet. Although too much happens, sub-genre fans will appreciate this entertaining mystery.

Harriet Klausner

Séance in Sepia-Michelle Black

Séance in Sepia

Michelle Black

Five Star, Oct 21 2011, $25.95

ISBN 9781432825485

Flynn Kiernan and her teenage son Brody go “dumpster diving” every Thursday as they search for books to buy for her father Daniel’s Weston Books from estate sales. On sabbatical leave from her college teaching position, she is currently looking at what the late Mrs. Pilcher left behind for her landlady to sell to cover back rent. Inside a pre WWI Webster dictionary which is in fine shape she finds a portrait photo that she assumes is from the nineteenth century though there are some anomalies like the unorthodox hairstyle of the twenty-something woman surrounded by two men of the same age

Flynn visits antiques storeowner Mr. Heilbocker who says the picture is pre 1880 cabinet card albumen print that looks like a Spirit photo. She finds nothing on the net about Medora Lamb, the name on the back. Flynn puts it on EBay where she receives bids surpassing $2000. Matt Holtser emails asking if he can see it as he is researching a late relative involved in the Free Love Murders AKA The Prairie Avenue Massacre

In 1875 Chicago, Medora Langley was married to Alec Ingersoll. They and family friend Cameron Langley shared a house together. That ended with Medora and Cam dead with Alec on trial for their murders. Sweating he was innocent, he hires spiritualist Victoria Woodhull to conduct a séance to learn from his wife and best friend who killed them.

This is a superb thriller that compares contemporary and Reconstruction Eras investigative techniques, women and relationships from both periods. The story line is fast-paced even with the deft rotation between past and present as women have come a long way baby since 1875.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Cemetery Girl-David Bell

Cemetery Girl

David Bell

NAL, Oct 4 2011, $14.00

ISBN: 9780451234674

Four years ago, twelve year old Caitlin Stuart vanished while walking the family dog Frosty. Her disappearance has left the relationship between her parents Tom and Abby on life support. Abby seeks to move on starting with taking Frosty to the pound as he is a reminder of Caitlin; Tom prefers to keep Frosty with them as he is reminder of Caitlin. He leaves Frosty at the shelter

Abby prepares for a funeral of her daughter, which is the final shock to her marriage as Tom rejects her notion of closure supported by Pastor Chris. Tom’s half-brother Buster comes for the funeral to support his sibling. Tom goes back to the shelter to retrieve Frosty, but he has been adopted. The police pick up a female teenager who is Caitlin. She refuses to discuss what happened to her with anyone. Though his daughter’s personality has always been to keep things to herself, Tom fears she was intricately involved in her abduction. He needs the truth so he investigates his offspring’s life for the last four years.

This is a terrific family drama as David Bell provides a strong look at grief and closure are customized to the individual; what Abby needs is not what Tom needs and visa versa. The amateur sleuthing is fun to follow as Tom still seeks closure by learning what went down. Although the well written ending seems weak compared with the strong story line preceding it; aMr. Bell provides closure to the audience rather than an open ended “non-solution” that appears more appropriate. Still readers will appreciate the aftermath to when a terrible incident impacts family and community.

Harriet Klausner

Operation Napoleon-Arnaldur Indridason

Operation Napoleon

Arnaldur Indridason

Minotaur, Sep 27 2011, $24.99

ISBN: 9780312659103

In 1945, a bomber containing Americans and Germans crashes into the Vatnajokull Glacier on Iceland. One person leaves the plane during a blizzard rejecting the plane as a coffin. Two Brothers saw the flight and expected a crash but due to weather conditions could not seek help until four days later. American troops arrive, but find almost nothing of a flight and the air base at Reykjavik also knows nothing of it.

In 1999, satellite technology points to a location in the moving glacier. Led by General Carr, the Americans return to Vatnajokull to extract the German bomber from the ice. At the excavation site is Elias who innocently calls his older sister Kristin to tell her what he is doing. The soldiers retrieve his phone from him and send assassins to kill his sister who works at the Iceland Foreign Ministry in Reykjavík. She escapes when her boss comes to yell at her as he is shot in the head. While the Americans do what they do best, run a disingenuous disinformation campaign filled with lies, Kristin investigates Operation Napoleon.

Though Nazi conspiracy thrillers have been done many times, Arnaldur Indridason provides a fresh exhilarating take on the collaboration premise. The American propaganda spin is deftly handled as the media is manipulated to support the endeavor (mindful of the steps leading to the Iraq War) and criminalize Kristin (Mindful of the Wilson-Plame outing). The story line is fast-paced from the opening plane crash and never slows down as the beleaguered heroine escorts readers throughout her country in search of what the Americans fear someone else will find out the truth.

Harriet Klausner

The Name of the Star-Maureen Johnson

The Name of the Star

Maureen Johnson

Putnam, Sep 29 2011, $16.99

ISBN: 9780399256608

Excited teenager Rory Deveaux leaves Benouville, Louisiana bayou to attend the Wexford boarding school in London for a year while her parents Tulane professors on sabbatical are in Britain. However, she finds much of the city is in fear as Rippermania terrorizes the city with what the cops know is a copy cat serial killer. This psychopath has mutilated and murdered several people, but never appears on the security cameras that are in the city.

As she struggles with the social customs of the school, Rory meets Jerome and her roommate Jazza. Rory and Jazza are walking together when the Louisiana native notices the killer; her new friend fails to see anything. Rory realizes she sees ghosts that other people and the cameras fail to notice. She tells the police who assume she is a typical American teen. However, the killer notices Rory as a threat and plans to bury her.

The key to this young adult paranormal serial killer thriller is the cast, whether they are sightless norms or those who see ghosts, every important player seem genuine. The suspenseful story line is somewhat gory, but jocularity lightens the impact. With satirical asides on the security of the London surveillance network and the new age vamps and weres, readers will enjoy Rory vs. the neo Ripper in the enjoyable opening Shades of London.

Harriet Klausner

India Black and the Widow of Windsor-Carol K. Carr

India Black and the Widow of Windsor

Carol K. Carr

Berkley, Oct 4 2011, $14.00

ISBN: 9780425243190

Evangeline LeBlanc only recently was known as Elsie Gootch of Catahoula Parrish by those residents and employees of the New Orleans municipal jail. Now Else as Mrs. LeBlanc hosts a séance attended by that old pussy Queen Victoria. The medium insists the monarch’s late husband Prince Albert needs her to journey to Balmoral Castle. The ruler consents to doing her Albert’s request from beyond.

Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli becomes concerned with the Queen traveling to Scotland when he learns Scottish nationalists seeking independence plan to assassinate Her Highness. He directs brothel owner and veteran espionage agent India Black to join the royal retinue as an undercover maid to cantankerous powder sniffing Dowager Marchioness of Tullibardine. Also assigned to the monarch’s entourage is another agent Mr. Black. As India deals with a hemorrhoid making aristocrat and a literally pain in the butt hands on Prince of Wales, she seeks the head of the Scottish independence movement.

The second India Black Victorian Era mystery is a fast-paced exciting tale that uses the belief by many in spiritualism including Victoria’s relationship with her Albert as a means to set up the assassination of the “podgy neurotic”. The plot contains plenty of humor mostly by disrespectful Mr. Black who finds nothing sacred and the sniffing Dowager who has not found a powder except snuff that her nose disliked. Although some escapes seem unlikely, readers who enjoy an entertaining breezy late nineteenth century mystery will appreciate the antics of India Black trying to protect the Widow of Windsor.

Harriet Klausner

Zero Day-David Baldacci

Zero Day

David Baldacci

Grand Central, Oct 31 2011, $27.99

ISBN: 9780446573016

U.S. Army's Criminal Investigative Division Warrant Officer John Puller, Jr. visits his brother Robert, a nuclear scientist convicted of treason at the US Disciplinary Barracks, but his sibling refuses to answer whether he did it or not. Their father the famous Army hero would like to believe his oldest son did not betray his country.

At Quantico, Puller’s Special Agent in Charge Don White assigns the Warrant Officer to investigate the murder of Defense Intelligence Agency Colonel Matthew Reynolds in Drake, West Virginia. The officer worked at the Pentagon, but what disturbs Puller is the DIA should be making the inquiry into the murder of the colonel, his wife and two teenage children in their rural home. He makes contact with Sergeant Samantha Cole, the civilian homicide detective investigating the mass murders, but she considers him an unwanted outsider and acts accordingly towards cooperative Puller.

This is a superb police procedural filled with a twist that takes a local rural homicide investigation spinning it into international waters as only David Baldacci can do and make it feel real. Puller is terrific as the agent holding the story line together. Readers will relish this fast-paced thriller as Zero Day has come to West Virginia and other nearby states.

Harriet Klausner

Behind the Redwood Door-John M. Daniel

Behind the Redwood Door

John M. Daniel

Oak Tree Press, Nov 20 2011, $14.95

140 E. Palmer St; Taylorville, IL 62568

ISBN: 9781610090230

Carol Mallon and her five foot tall husband Guy have lived in Jefferson City on the northern California coast for three years. She owns and runs Scarecrow Books the local bookstore while unemployed by choice the fifty something Guy helps her as an unpaid loving volunteer. In deep love, each believes they enjoy the idyllic life.

The Mallon couple is eating at the Redwood Door Tavern with the Jefferson Nickel weekly paper owner River Webster and editor Pete Thayer. However, River and Pete have broken off their person relationship. He leaves presumably to work on a story. She follows immediately to talk with him, but River finds Pete dead with a knife protruding from his chest. River asks former publisher Guy to run the paper and he agrees. However once he takes over the Jefferson Nickel, he begins to have problems. His computer is tampered with and then destroyed; while Pete’s office and home are ransacked and disks are missing. Guy spots a familiar face who might be the culprit behind the killing and other incidents. Before he can act on his inclination, he receives a visitor looking for two missing children.

Behind the Redwood Door is a complex mystery with a colorful rustic background. The exciting story line will keep readers on the edge of their seats with wonder as they try to figure out who is the evil serpent is who is destroying paradise and why. John M. Daniels writes an enthralling whodunit within a vivid setting.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, September 16, 2011

Hell to Pay-Wendy Corsi Staub

Hell to Pay

Wendy Corsi Staub

Avon, Sep 27 2011, $7.99

ISBN: 9780061895081

The earthquake shook Massachusetts. The Bridgebury Correctional Facility was totaled by the tremors and all inside assumed dead. However one female inmate believes the Book of Revelation End of Times has begun with the earthquake. When she miraculously survives while Sodom and Gomorrah like death is everywhere around her, she knows she is a chosen one of the Lord who kept her safe to cleanse the earth of the Lord’s enemies and undesirable.

Lucy Walsh and Jeremy Cavalon survived the attack of a serial killer when they were children. Several years ago the Cavalon family won a civil law suit that stripped the inmate of much of her assets. She is coming for them with the Lord on her side; she starts by killing his adopted grandmother Silvie Durand in New York. Lucy and Jeremy mourn Sylvie’s death in what was reported an accident when the elderly woman slipped in her bathroom; but abuse victim Jeremy suspects something sinister though he and his wife remain unaware that a female inmate he thought died in Bridgebury is beginning her vendetta against the Walsh-Cavalon families.

The third Walsh-Cavalon thriller (see Live to Tell and Scared to Death) is a chiller due to a brilliant psychopath who believes the Lord has saved this sheep to avenge what her infidel enemies did to her. With righteousness on her side, she starts by killing a guard who raped her before moving onto their families. The story line is fast-paced, loaded with action and stars a harrowing righteous villainess. Although the theme of a psychopath seeking vengeance has been used frequently in serial killer tales, Wendy Corsi Staub provides an exhilarating novel.

Harriet Klausner

The Lost Angel-Javier Sierra

The Lost Angel

Javier Sierra

Atria, Oct 4 2011, $25.99

ISBN: 9781451632798

At the National Security Agency, field operative Nick Allen watches a tape of his friend scientist Martin Faber being kidnapped by Kurds. Faber was conducting research into climate change near Mount Ararat when he was abducted. To insure Faber’s wife Julia Alvarez a psychic is safe and for her to help his rescue attempt, Allen searches and finds her in Galicia, Spain studying the sculptures at the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela; just before an assassin almost got her.

However, as time runs out on Faber, Allen and Alvarez try to save him using the clues he left in the video for his wife to interpret. The group that holds Faber believes they are descendants of angels and the time is now for their return to Heaven with their abductee as the enabler. Faber, who was also looking for the biblical arc, believes that that Elizabethan astrologer John Dee spoke to angels. There is less than seventy-two hours to before this fanatic group ends the world. All these descendants of exiles will converge on Mount Ararat where a stone of power will either save the world or send everyone to their maker.

The Lost Angel is an exciting religious thriller that grips the audience from the moment Faber is snatched and never slows down until the final confrontation. Although there are a few unlikely revelations that detract from the story line, for the most part Javier Sierra ties universal beliefs shared by most religions into a terrific twisting end of days' thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Ionia Sanction-Gary Corby

The Ionia Sanction

Gary Corby

Minotaur, Nov 8 2011, $24.99

ISBN: 9780312599010

In 460 BC, Pericles commissions Nicolaos to look into why Thorion died from a hanging after sending the Athenian leader a note claiming there is a great threat to the city. Thorion was the proxenos representing the city of Ephesus in Athens. After a fumbled incident involving Araxes the bandit, who fled to Ephesus, Pericles assigns Nico to clean up the mess. Nico buys Asia the slave girl who was with Araxes. She informs him her father is Themistocles, the hero who saved Greece before defecting to the enemy. Nico plans to return the daughter to her father in Magnesia as a means to safely obtain information.

Thus Nico sails across the Aegean to Ephesus, Ionia in the Persian Empire to learn what Thorion died for. However he quickly gets into trouble with Persian laws; only Artemis Priestess Diotima enables him to keep his head. His efforts are hindered by Persian officials, brigands wanting the right price for his head and so does Diotima.

The second Nicolaos and Diotima ancient Greece detecting mystery (see The Pericles Commission) is a jocular whodunit that uses real persona like Socrates the irritant, Pericles and Themistocles to anchor time and place. The lead detecting couple is a wonderful pairing as she rips pounds of flesh from her arrogant partner. Fast-paced, readers will enjoy touring the Aegean with Gary Corby as our guide.

Harriet Klausner

Twelve Drummers Drumming--C.C. Benison

Twelve Drummers Drumming

C.C. Benison

Delacorte, Oct 25 2011, $22.00

ISBN 9780385344456

Several months after his wife’s still unsolved homicide in London, Reverend Tom “Father” Christmas accompanied by his nine year old daughter Miranda, fans of the French version of Nancy Drew, visit his sister-in-law Julia Hennis the music teacher and her husband Alastair the physician Thornford Regis. When Vicar Peter Kinsey failed to arrive to lead the services for the late Ned Skynner at St. Nicholas Church, Father Christmas conducts the ceremony. Tom takes over the vacated position of village vicar

The Christmas pair finds life in the village soothing as they heal from their loss. However, at the fair, someone murders the daughter of the choirmaster; Sybella Parry’s body is found inside a large drum. Although most locals assume drugs were involved in the homicide, Tom thinks otherwise. As he makes inquiries and uses the confessional to gather information, Tom finds several suspects who could easily have killed the teenager.

This is an enjoyable English village mystery that stars a fascinating widower who employs a unique way to gather data. The story line stars slow to establish the cast and setting, but once done accelerates into a fast-paced entertaining whodunit with a great surprising final spin.

Harriet Klausner

The Platinum Loop-Austin Williams

The Platinum Loop

Austin Williams

Upaya House, Jul 21 2011, $12.95

ISBN: 9781936965007

In 1973 at the Binion’s Horseshoe Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Billy Bob holds Floyd Manning over the forth floor rail while the other two Texans Randolph and Tommy watch. The three Texans are irate at Floyd for failing to introduce them to Frank as he promised. Billy Bob lets go, but Floyd rolls a seven as he lands on a garbage bag in a dumpster. As he crawls towards his car to hide in the trunk, the six pack of cowboy boots howl for his buck fifty pounds of flesh.

Film producer Gene Hoffman has left what was left of his money at the roulette table. Totally broke, he walks away from Darlene the croupier but three Texans shove him out of their way. Angry the three hundred pounds plus Hoffman intervenes rescuing Floyd from a beating. The two hustlers chat with Floyd thanking his rescuer by offering a deal with little risk. Floyd insists he has one of the five cuts of the porn film Platinum Loop starring Marilyn the blond bombshell. At first rejecting the claim as a con, Gene changes his mind when a hired gun visits him at his room. He joins his new partner Floyd as they work their project; while the three Texans are on an avenging vendetta as no one messes with Texas.

With a nod to the Sting, The Platinum Loop brings to life the early 1970s Hollywood-Vegas connection (with a touch of Tijuana). The story line contains dark humor especially the look at what was in like the Rat Pack during the Nixon Era. Filled with action, readers will enjoy Hoffman and Manning teaming up as nothing goes eight with their low risk scheme.

Harriet Klausner

Nightwoods-Charles Frazier


Charles Frazier

Random House, Sep 27 2011, $26.00

ISBN: 9781400067091

Luce is a lonely woman who does not own the once luxurious but now abandoned North Carolina rustic Lodge where she has lived for three years by herself as its caretaker. With the death of elderly owner Stubblefield, she is not sure whether her late employer’s worthless grandson will allow her to stay on at the Lodge.

Luce has other problems with the recent murder of her sister Lily. She has no time for grief as the State has taken Lily’s fraternal twin children to her since their stepdad stands trial for killing their mom. Luce has no idea how to deal with her grief stricken niece (Dolores) and nephew (Frank) especially since both are mute and out of control. Still she finds some solace in helping them adjust from arsonist wild animals to human kids. However, she is unaware that her brother-in-law Bud, acquitted of murdering his wife, is coming seeking hidden money he plans to find at any cost to others even his stepchildren. Nor does she know someone else is coming up the mountain with plans for the Lodge.

Nightwoods is a fast-paced character driven suspense thriller. The story line is superb when the focus is inside the minds of the three grievers at the Lodge. The plot loses some momentum of the anticipated confrontation when the protagonists speak like English Lit professors seeking a metaphor. Still this is a terrific tale as three lonely people struggle with the murder of the connecting loved one while the killer is coming.

Harriet Klausner

L.A. Mental-Neil McMahon

L.A. Mental

Neil McMahon

Harper, Sep 27 2011, $24.99

ISBN: 9780061340789

In Southern California, the local media reports on several strange events over a few months. In February, the local headline news focuses on Municipal Court Judge Berthold trying to bash in his head as he destroys much of his affluent Santa Monica home. In March; Beverly Hills paparazzi favorite, former Miss California Pamela Dutton, acquitted of murdering her older wealthy spouse, lies in a coma. Finally in April, CalTech astrophysics graduate student Peter Janacek ran onto the Foothill Freeway committing suicide.

Not long after people who seemed to have it together went berserk, in Malibu drug addict Nick Crandall tells his keeper brother psychologist Tom that worms are eating away his brain matter. He soon attacks Tom but falls off a cliff. As has been their recent relationship, Tom rescues Nick who is rushed to the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. Tom learns that their sister Rikki has been threatened through a DVD and their brother Paul is involved in the Parallax Productions movie; both tie back to Nick’s odd behavior. Tom goes to the movie set where he encounters former Swedish physicist turned filmmaker Gunnar Kelso whose theories on human behavioral relationships focus on power.

This is an exhilarating nano-technological thriller that grips readers from the moment Nick attacks Tom until the final exposé. The truth is frightening as it fails to set free Tom or readers when he (and we) begins to realize what is going on that has turned L.A. Mental. Filled with action without dumbing down the nanotechnology, readers will Neil McMahon’s cautionary science fiction thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Rain Falls Like Mercy-Jack Todd

Rain Falls Like Mercy

Jack Todd

Touchstone, Nov 8 2011, $25.00

ISBN: 9781416598510

In May 1941 in Wyoming, someone murders a girl. Sheriff Tom Call investigates the homicide. During his inquiry he meets and falls in love with Juanita Paint, wife of much older rancher Eli. Progress on solving the homicide goes slow.

Meanwhile Eli’s son Leo and grandson Bobby are serving with the U.S. Navy when the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor. Tom enlists with the Air Force and after a brief basic training he deploys to England to fly bombers. Although leaving home, he still works the murder case as he suspects the almost untouchable psychopath Pardo Bury, son of an influential wealthy oil tycoon William, killed the girl.

The third Paint family epic (see Sun Going Down and Come Again No More) is an engaging look at the 1940s through the Paint and Bury families. Much more occurs than above as the war continues with the invasion of Okinawa while the kamikaze pilots try to sink the ships. Readers will anticipate the confrontation between the good sheriff and the amoral evil Pardo as even a world war is a temporary hindrance to their mano a mano destiny.

Harriet Klausner

V Is for Vengeance-Sue Grafton

V Is for Vengeance

Sue Grafton

Putnam, Nov 14 2011, $27.95

ISBN: 9780399157868

On May 5 1988, Kinsey Millhone of Millhone Investigations in Santa Teresa turns thirty eight. However, her birthday turns ugly when a virtual stranger punches her in the nose. The assault leaves her shnoz broken (for the third time), her eyes looking like that of a raccoon, and a need for plastic surgery; thankfully paid by her health insurance.

Financier Lorenzo Dante sends his goons to collect from deadbeat Phillip; they send him airborne for failing to pay a loan on time. Just before her battering, Kinsey is in Nordstrom when she notices a woman shoplifting. She informs security who busts the culprit. However, Kinsey failed to realize the thief had a partner until the other felon tried to run her over; she battered her leg avoiding a hit and run. Not long after coming home from Canada, Dante is shocked to learn that Audrey is dead after being caught shoplifting; his ambitious out of control goon Cappi killed her. Soon all this and other events will collide at Kinsey’s nose.

Aptly titled, the V Millhone thriller is an exhilarating tale as the heroine works several cases. The birthday driven story line is fast-paced with much more than just the above as all roads lead to and from Dante. Fans will enjoy this fun tale as the protagonist takes a beating but keeps on ticking.

Harriet Klausner

I Am Half Sick of Shadows-Alan Bradley

I Am Half Sick of Shadows

Alan Bradley

Delacorte, Nov 1 2011, $23.00

ISBN: 9780385344012

Eleven years old Flavia de Luce can count on three things: chemistry, irritating her older sisters, and her family being broke. To bring in some needed money in time so the family can eat during Christmas, her parents rent out the rotting Buckshaw estate to a film crew.

While her sisters look forward to handsome actors, Flavia plans to prove to these ill advised siblings that Santa exists. Thus in her lab, she creates a concoction of birdlime. Meanwhile all the local residents of Bishop’s Lacey arrive at Buckshaw to watch the famous actress Phyllis Wyvern performing on Christmas Eve while a blizzard hammers the area and the Vicar begs the star to raise money for a new roof on St. Tancred. However at midnight instead of exposing Santa, she becomes embroiled with a final curtain call with a film strip necktie.

The latest Flavia 1950s amateur sleuth (see A Red Herring Without Mustard, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie and The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag) is a superb locked country house mystery as the blizzard limits travel. Flavia is her usual precocious self as she finds the aging actress performing Juliet a bit strange but appreciates the fact that the woman knows who she is from the publicized Bonepenny case. Readers will enjoy this exciting historical village cozy as Flavia wins bets with her sisters, works the Santa scenario, and a murder mystery.

Harriet Klausner

Angel Condemned-Mary Stanton

Angel Condemned

Mary Stanton

Berkley, Nov 1 2011, $7.99

ISBN: 9780425244623

Brianna Winston is a lawyer and advocate at the Celestial Court. She has power to defend her spirit clients at hearings that will determine eternal sentencing. Her legal team consists of a cadre of dedicated angels who will do whatever she needs within the strict boundaries of celestial law.

Bree is working a secular mundane case representing her Aunt Cissy's fiancé museum curator Prosper White in a fraud suit. At an exhibit at the museum, Prosper is killed with a knife belonging to Cissy. Other evidence points to her as the killer too. She is arrested, but quickly exonerated with new information surfaces. The new suspect is linked to a person appealing a Celestial Court ruling. The attorney digs deep at the archeological excavation of the Cross of Justinian which took place decades ago because it connects her two cases in the Georgia and Celestial Courts.

The latest Beaufort & Company legal thriller (see Avenging Angels and Angel’s Advocate) is filled with helping angels and creatures who blinded by the light turned from the heavenly glow. The intrepid heroine deals with nasty demons, haughty nephilim and evil with aplomb as if that is an everyday occurrence. She anchors the whimsical paranormal tale with solid footing in two realms, but then again she has friends in high places.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Boy in the Suitcase-Lene Kaaberbol and Agnete Friis

The Boy in the Suitcase

Lene Kaaberbol and Agnete Friis

Soho, Nov 8 2011, $24.00

ISBN 9781569479810

As she is overwhelmed at work and in her personal life as a mother of two children, Copenhagen nurse Nina Borg knows she should refuse her friend from nursing school Karin’s favor, but agrees to pick up a package from a locker at the train station. Nina takes out the suitcase only to open it and finds a drugged but alive preschooler.

Not sure what to, she observes an angry man who opens the now empty suitcase. Fearing the cops will only take the child back to his seller, Nina leaves with the little boy Mikas who does not speak Danish or any Scandinavian language. She seeks Karin, but learns her friend was violently murdered. While traffickers search for their commodity, Mikas’ frantic Lithuanian mother seeks her beloved son too.

This is a fascinating Danish thriller that focuses on human trafficking. Filled with taut suspense from the moment the heroine meets The Boy in the Suitcase, Nina and Mikas flee for their lives unsure who to turn to for help. With a nod to North by Northwest, readers will root for Nina and Mikas as some nasty individuals chase after them.

Harriet Klausner

Fever Dream-Dennis Palumbo

Fever Dream

Dennis Palumbo

Poisoned Pen, Nov 1 2011, $24.95

ISBN 9781590589571

Pittsburgh Police Department Sergeant Harry Polk and Detective Eleanor Lowrey asks psychologist Dr. Daniel Rinaldi, a highly regarded trauma expert, to work with Treva Williams, the first freed hostage of a robbery of the First Allegany Bank. Daniel arrives at the scene while the robbery plays out to its horrific lethal climax. He agrees with the cops that Treva suffers from a form of post traumatic stress disorder after she witnessed the execution of Bobby Marks; his assertion is confirmed when she goes shocky.

Soon afterward while first responders clean up the mess that include a dead robber, district attorney Leland Sinclair and his opponent use the lethal mess to further their runs for governor of the Keystone State. As Lowry with Rinaldi’s consultation digs deeper into the perp who fled from the bank early on, the case twists further as politics intrude on good police work.

The second Rinaldi police procedural (see Mirror Image) is an exciting thriller filled with twists and spins. The fast-paced story line keeps the reader’s attention as Dennis Palumbo provides an engaging spinning tale in which each time fans and the shrink think they know what really happened in the fog of the bank robbery, the plot takes us elsewhere. Fever Dreams is a wonderful mystery.

Harriet Klausner

Mercury’s Rise-Ann Parker

Mercury’s Rise

Ann Parker

Poisoned Pen, Nov 1 2011, $24.95

ISBN 9781590589632

In 1880, owner of the Silver Queen Saloon, Inez Stannert takes the coach from Leadville, Colorado to visit her two years old son William and her sister Harmony DuChamps who is watching the infant in Manitou. The ride proves ugly when businessman Edward Pace, traveling with his family, suddenly dies after drinking a medicinal elixir.

Inez is hurt when her child who uses his aunt’s surname fails to recognize her. Pace’s widow pleads with Inez to investigate her husband’s death. Needing to occupy her mind with something other than family, Inez makes inquires into the easterner’s abrupt demise. Her investigation leads to where she is staying, the Manitou’s Mountain Springs House. However, Inez’s personal life intrudes when her missing for eighteen months husband Mark surfaces.

The latest Stannert American Silver Rush historical mystery (see Leaden Skies) is a terrific thriller that focuses on the quacks making a fortune selling cures for tuberculosis. The heroine’s family hurts enhances the fullness of the protagonist while the intelligent inquiry into a wrongful death is clever. Ann Parker writes about a slice of unregulated Americana in which let the buyer beware capitalism greedily takes advantage of the desperate.

Harriet Klausner

Mrs. Jeffries and the Mistletoe Mix-Up-Emily Brightwell

Mrs. Jeffries and the Mistletoe Mix-Up

Emily Brightwell

Berkley, Nov 2011, $23.95

ISBN: 9780425243572

The holidays are coming, but neither Elaine nor Daniel is feeling very festive. She never loved the husband her father bought with a large dowry settlement, but now she controls her money since her last living relative died. Daniel wants free access to her funds to cover bad investments including a fortune in Far Eastern antiquities; he is broke. Their evening is interrupted by the arrival of guests who he plans to show off his latest acquisition.

A fire breaks out in the servant’s quarters. The blaze is put out quickly, but everyone evacuates the house due to the smell. When they return to the home they find Daniel bleeding to death in his office from a sword bludgeoned into his neck artery. Inspector Witherspoon leads the homicide investigation, which proves difficult because everyone present at the gathering had motive and opportunity. Of course, Witherspoon has a top secret weapon so clandestine he is ignorant of the help he receives on his cases from his brilliant housekeeper Mrs. Jeffries and the rest of his loyal intelligent staff. However, this murder may remain unsolved as the suspects are numerous.

The latest Mrs. Jeffries and retinue Victorian mystery (see Mrs. Jeffries Forges Ahead) is a delightful puzzler as the title heroine and her "under the stairs" crew work a difficult case through their employer. The basic theme of this wonderful long running series remains the same, yet once again the whodunit is fresh as Emily Brightwell provides another riveting historical investigation.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Demon's Parchment-Jeri Westerson

The Demon's Parchment

Jeri Westerson

Minotaur, Sep 27 2011, $14.99

ISBN: 9780312609269

In 1384 London, disgraced former knight Crispin “The Tracker” Guest earns a living finding missing things for clients. His assistant young street urchin Jack Turner tells him a man is outside acting as if he has doubts about entering their facility. Provencal Jewish doctor to the queen Jacob wants to hire the Tracker to locate and return to him stolen Hebrew manuscripts that the foreigner believes may be tied to some recent gruesome murders. Additionally, London sheriffs want Guest to track down a vicious serial killer who has strangled and disemboweled four boys.

Although he prefers to decline both cases, Guest needs the income so he begins his search for the documents and a serial killer. He soon finds the two investigations merge as Jacob implied they would when Guest meets a nasty giant who may be the mythical Golem protecting the Jews by killing those who would harm them.

In his third medieval tracking mystery (see Veil of Lies and Serpent in the Thorns), Guest is at his best as he works two inquiries that merge into a deadly scenario. The fast-paced story line brings alive late fourteenth century London during the reign of King Richard II. Adding depth is to see the city through the eyes of a visiting Jewish professional who performs a mitzvah to help his people but will learn from Guest that the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Harriet Klausner

Ghost Hero-S. J. Rozan

Ghost Hero

S. J. Rozan

Minotaur, Sep 27 2011, $25.99

ISBN: 9780312544508

Modern day Chinese art collector Jeff Dunbar hears rumors of the discovery of previously unknown works by the late “Ghost Hero” Chau Chun, who died during the Tiananmen Square uprising. A legend among freedom lovers, the Ghost Hero concealed anti-government messages in his drawings. Although Jeff assumes that if the paintings exist they are forgeries as they contain contemporary political messages or the Ghost lives, he hires Chinese-American private investigator Lydia Chin to look into the existence and authenticity of the claims.

Lydia’s partner Bill Smith introduces her to a sleuthing colleague Jack Lee, also a native Chinese-American. Jack explains that NYU professor Bernard Yang has hired him to investigate the Chau Chun claims. As the detectives compare notes, Lydia and Bill wonder what their client really wants.

This is a super twisting Chin and Smith investigative thriller (see On the Line) that grips readers from the moment Dunbar hires Chin and never slows down until the final denouement. The key cast is fully developed in this fast-paced yet cerebral mystery. Like Chin, Smith and Lee, readers will want to know who is painting the current Ghost Hero masterpieces.

Harriet Klausner

The Assassin in the Marais-Claude Izner

The Assassin in the Marais

Claude Izner

Minotaur, Sep 27 2011, $25.99

ISBN: 9780312662158

In 1892 anarchists terrorize Parisians with their bombs exploding in public places. However, though the bombings are frightening, someone breaks into the apartment of bookseller Kenji Mori. The only items stolen were two books and an oddity valueless monkey’s skull goblet.

Kenji’s business partner Victor Legris finds the case odd as there were more valuable items worth stealing in the apartment. Deciding to investigate who and why, curious Victor quickly learns that someone murdered two people who recently tried to contact Kenji to discuss the purloined goblet. The amateur sleuth knows there has to be more to the story of the goblet, but still remains in the dark as he tracks the additional body count linked to the “traveling” goblet.

Although the murder mystery subplot never quite solidifies, readers will enjoy the goblet run tour of Paris as Legris seems one pas behind the traveling cup while at the same time the city rocks from late nineteenth century terrorism. Fast-paced, fans and Legris will want to know why the theft as team Izner provides an enjoyable historical whodunit.

Harriet Klausner

The Gingerbread Bump-Off-Livia J, Washburn

The Gingerbread Bump-Off

Livia J, Washburn

Obsidian, Nov 1 2011, $14.00

ISBN: 9780451234834

With Christmas a few days away, Phyllis Newsom is busier than usual because her close friend and tenant (in her home) Eve Turner is marrying to a man she met on Facebook. Phyllis hosts the Christmas Eve bridal shower, bakes for the New Year's Eve wedding and has her house featured in the annual Christmas Jingle Bell Tour of Homes. Because she can’t say no to her buddy, she and her only male friend Sam Fletcher scramble with baking holiday treats especially a gingerbread couple as Mr. and Mrs. Klaus.

On the night of the Home Tour, Phyllis hears something break so she goes to look. An unknown culprit took one of the gingerbread displays and cracked it on the skull of Georgia; placing the woman in a coma until she dies. Eve expects Phyllis to investigate as the baker has solved murder cases before (see The Pumpkin Muffin Murder). Once again unable to refuse, Phyllis begins to look into the homicide that has the police baffled while she also asks Sam to help her.

The latest Fresh-Baked Mysteries contains energetic senior citizens working the case, baking the treats, and hosting the tour and wedding. This character driven amateur sleuth is fun to follow as everyday people like Phyllis attempt extraordinary activities. Although she should have just said no, Phyllis questions various people before putting the recipe for murder together in entertaining whodunit.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Blink of an Eye-William S. Cohen

Blink of an Eye

William S. Cohen

Forge, Nov 8 2011, $24.99

ISBN 9780765327642

A nuclear bomb leaves thousands instantly dead in Savannah. They are the fortunate as CDC reports others will soon die horrifically from the radiation poisoning. The Congress and the media demands to know why the Intelligence community including Homeland Security failed to prevent the deadly attack while rumors abound that more bombings of other cities will follow.

As people panic with Congress and the media making things worse with accusations of an Iranian terrorist cell and Presidential election politics demanding retaliation as established by the 9/11 reactions. President Blake Oxley orders his National Security Adviser Sean Falcone to uncover the truth while his opponent Texas Senator Mark Stanfield insists the Savannah incident proves the incumbent soft on terrorism. General George William Parker agrees with Stanfield as he goes to the media demanding an all out assault on Iran.

This exciting political thriller is at its best with the dysfunctional DC crowd who push personal agendas over facts. The story line is fast-paced but lacks the impact of the terrorist attack obliterating Savannah on key elements of American society. Still this is an engaging cautionary thriller that makes a case to gather the facts before hysterically rushing off to war.

Harriet Klausner

Defensive Wounds-Lisa Black

Defensive Wounds

Lisa Black

Morrow, Sep 27 2011, $24.99

ISBN: 9780061989414

At the Ritz Carleton in Cleveland, someone kills infamous defense attorney Marie Corrigan while a legal convention is hosted at the hotel. The police at the murder scene agree immediately on two things. First the unethical lawyer who falsified evidence got what she deserves and that anyone in the city who came into contact with the sleaze would have a motive for murder; homicide detective John Powell tells forensic investigator Theresa MacLean, whose daughter Rachel works at the Ritz, that they have a hotel filled with suspects.

Theresa knows a hotel room is impossible to cope with as previous occupants will leave behind traces that make it impossible to seek oddities. The immediate positioning of the corpse implies a lovers’ rendezvous that turned ugly. However, Theresa refuses to jump to any conclusion as the killer could have set up the crime scene accordingly. The case turns serial when two more corpses posed as if they were with a lover are found. Seeking the links between the three victims for a common avenging killer, Theresa soon fears she and Rachel could be on the death list.

Readers will enjoy the latest MacLean forensic investigation (see Takeover and Trail of Blood) as Sarah Palin would agree no one messes with a grizzly mama especially if one of their cubs are endangered. The story line is fast-paced with much of the fun being the simplicity of the murders as everyone including the protagonist and readers seek complexities. Although avenging serial killers is a frequent theme and the protagonist has dealt with these predators (see Evidence of Murder), fans will appreciate Lisa Black’s latest forensic locked hotel room tale.

Harriet Klausner

Timestep to Murder-Norma Lehr

Timestep to Murder

Norma Lehr

Camel, Jul 1 2011, $$16.95

ISBN: 9781603818636

The six former Manhattan Topettes who live near Lake Tahoe are invited to perform a weekend of reunion shows at the Cal Neva Escort Spa and Casino. In their late forties and a quarter of a century since they danced together, Abby, Melanie, Dana, Gail, Blythe and Renee arrive for a precision high kick performance. Coaching the team for the shows is much younger NYC Topettes Teacher Jan Withers.

However, the rivalry between the dancers is as feral as it was twenty five years ago. Lottery winner Melanie retains her superego as the center performer because she is the tallest. Renee hates Melanie for stealing the love of her life Tommy. Business partner Dana has sued Melanie over the lottery winnings. Gail still envies Melanie as the second tallest has done futile stretching exercises to steal the focus point, but remains shorter. Blythe tries to persuade Melanie and the others to sell her health drinks. Driven from California by former cop Blade, Abby is the mother confessor to the group. All hell occurs when someone poisons Melanie and subsequently kills Gail. Although she should allow Detective Fromer to do his job, Abby investigates out of loyalty to her friend Renee, a major suspect.

Fascinatingly, the insight into the lives of the six dancers as former performers makes the investigative thriller stand out. The whodunit is clever as the killer is in plain sight of the stage although Abby’s obsessive fueled actions seem over the top of Freel Peak. Still the six antagonists have different personalities and interests as they high kick to the joy of fans their way to a deadly dangerous dance.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, September 9, 2011

Blood Trails-Sharon Sala

Blood Trails

Sharon Sala

Mira, Sep 20 2011, $7.99

ISBN: 9780778312413

In Montana, the three Shade sisters bury their beloved rancher dad Andrew. Their late father’s lawyer Coleman Rice gives them a video to watch. On the tape, Andrew explains that he loved his three daughters but that none of the trio is his offspring and they are not sisters by blood. He also informs them how they came into enriching his life.

Like her “siblings”, twentyish Holly Slade is in shell shock with the news; in her case that her mother gave her to Andrew to keep her safe from her father, serial killer Hunter. Also like her sisters (see Blood Ties and Blood Stains) Holly needs to know what happened to her mother and meet her father. She knows leaving the family ranch will be harder on her than her siblings as she secretly loves foreman Bud Tate. As her quest takes her to her childhood in St. Louis proves dangerous, Bud vows to protect the woman he loves.

The third Searcher romantic suspense is an enjoyable thriller starring a woman who fears her DNA is tainted and the man who loves her regardless of her roots. The story line is action-packed, but lacks psychological depth especially with Holly learning what occurred two decades ago; she should need therapy for life even with a loving caring man helping her. Still readers will appreciate the final Searchers tale as the intrepid heroine wonders which side of the tree the acorn fell.

Harriet Klausner

Death on a Platter-Elaine Viets

Death on a Platter

Elaine Viets

Obsidian, Nov 1 2011, $7.99

ISBN: 9780451235244

Mystery shopper Josie Marcus eagerly takes on her new assignment of sampling local eateries that offer a variety of dishes unique to St. Louis. As part of her City Eats dining experience, Josie visits Tillie's Off the Hill Italian Restaurant known for their toasted ravioli.

The food is delicious but the fly in the soup is a loud mouthed bellicose drunk. In fairness to the full disclosure doctrine and to Tillie’s, Josie decides to try Tillie’s again the next day to see if the atmosphere is better. While the toasted ravioli is served to the intoxicated man, the belligerent drunk is in full tirade when he drops dead. SPD finds enough evidence to charge Tillie with murder. Josie does not believe the restaurateur is the killer so sets out to find who permanently shut the nasty diner although she goes it alone as Ted, her boyfriend, cannot accompany her.

The latest Josie Marcus Mystery Shopper (see An Uplifting Murder) is an entertaining amateur sleuth in which the heroine risks her life to identify the real server of the poisoned ravioli. Spunky Josie knows she needs to just say no, but cannot as her mom and Tillie are friends though her mother would prefer her not risking her life. Although there are clues to the identity of the killer, Monday morning quarterbacks including Ted will struggle to decide who done it.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Nikki Turner Presents Street Chronicles: A Woman’s Work-Keisha Starr, Tysha, LaKesa Cox and Monique S. Hall

Nikki Turner Presents Street Chronicles: A Woman’s Work

Keisha Starr, Tysha, LaKesa Cox and Monique S. Hall

One World/Ballantine, Sep 20 2011, $14.00

ISBN: 9780345504302

“Dying to Be A Star” by Keisha Starr. Pastor Earl James and his wife Sister Patricia run a strict Christian home that stifles their teenage daughter Melissa. When they catch her in a lie, they kick their daughter out of their Pennsylvania home. She and the other performers in the R&B group Pretty in Pink head to Atlanta where she lives a fast life.

“Money, Stilettos and Disrespect” by Tysha. In Youngstown, three punks rape, torture and slowly kill Mama Bev. Her daughter Aisha wants revenge so her adopted sister Kayla arranges for her boyfriend, C-Lock to set in motion an eye for an eye.

“Southern Girls Escort Service” by LaKesa Cox. In Richmond, someone kills Southern Girl’s Escort Service’s most popular female Abie. Her best friend Rachida wants to avenge her late mentor’s death. Her inquiry will either lead to her death, a killer or both.

“Ms. G-Stacks” by Monique S. Hall. Atlanta Detective Morgan arrests “G-Stacks” on a gun possession charge; a parole violation with a mandatory five years. G-Stacks’ boss bitch Taylor plans to get her man released. She works Morgan like a virtuoso and she and her friend Jetta uncover a betrayal inside the gang.

These four thrilling street-lit tales star strong females whose value system seems to differ from the acceptable norm yet actually contain the same traits like loyalty to loved ones with an understanding that A Woman’s Work is never done protecting those they cherish from their street enemies. The stars are surprisingly developed considering the novella format as they kick butt in a quartet of super street survival stories.

Harriet Klausner

Robert Ludlum's The Ares Decision-Kyle Mills

Robert Ludlum's The Ares Decision

Kyle Mills

Grand Central, Oct 4 2011, $27.99

ISBN: 9780446699082

A special ops unit enters Northern Uganda to execute brutal terrorist Caleb Bahame, but a video displays the peaceful weaponless locals behaving like mythical fearless berserkers use super speed and strength to eradicate the trained professionals. Although the threat may seem regional at best, concern is high that a new bioweapon has been developed. Thus Covert One, established by POTUS to handle proactively global threats while the establishment passively reacts, is assigned to insure this remains localized and countered as the fear is Bahame will give this bioweapon to Iran and other rogue states and groups.

Cover One Director Fred Klein sends Dr. Jon Smith and his team to Africa to learn what is going on and to abate the threat to Africa and subsequently the world. The Covert-One operatives quickly learn Bahame has deployed a deadly parasite on the Ugandan farmers as a beta test that affirms this evil person cares nothing about killing the innocent. Namibian biologist Sarie van Keure joins Smith and his team to prevent further spreading of the lethal parasite especially with an Iranian delegation wanting it released in the West.

The latest Covert-One thriller (see The Moscow Vector and The Arctic Event) is an excellent action-packed tale starring a strong cast in which the team members, the biologist, and the terrorist are fully developed while the local Ugandans and their country enhance the plot. Fast-paced, Robert Ludlum fans will appreciate Kyle Mills take on Covert One.

Harriet Klausner