Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Explosive Eighteen-Janet Evanovich

Explosive Eighteen

Janet Evanovich

Bantam, Nov 22 2011, $28.00

ISBN: 9780345527714

New Jersey bounty hunter Stephanie Plum looked forward to her vacation in Hawaii with her lover. However, nothing goes right especially when her other love interest arrives to join her as a big surprise. Stephanie flies back to Newark with a stopover in Los Angeles leaving behind two raging testosterones.

In Trenton, FBI Agents Lance Lancer and Sly Slasher demand Stephanie give them an envelope she may have inadvertently picked up while flying home. She calls Morelli to check if they are legit and her mom to pull out of the trash the photo and envelope she tossed out there. Her mom says this was pickup day. Two more Feds show up demanding the photo or her lawyer. Meanwhile back in L.A. Dr. Richard Crick who carried the photo and sat next to her on the leg from Hawaii rests peacefully in a LAX garbage can. Besides the FBI, other miscreants want the photo that Stephanie’s grandma tossed out. Things are just as ugly at Vincent Plum Bail Bonds.

This Plum thriller contains the usual zaniness but the main plot is thin; and what happened with Ranger/Morelli in Hawaii obviously stayed in Hawaii as this segue is disappointingly underdeveloped. Filled with madcap scenarios fans of the series will enjoy the heroine’s photographic memory (not) while also singing the Lovin’ Spoonful’s Did You Ever Have to Make Up Your Mind?

Harriet Klausner

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Rook-Daniel O’Malley

The Rook

Daniel O’Malley

Little Brown, Jan 11 2012, $25.99

ISBN: 9780316098793

In a London park, the woman awakens during a storm surrounded by corpses wearing gloves. She has two letters on her so opens the one identified as first. Inside a note is addressed to “Dear You from “Sincerely Me” as the writer explains the body hosting her was once that of the writer. Thus Myfanwy Thomas, as the note calls her, follows the instructions of finding a safe house before reading the second memo.

The second letter explains her choices. She can flee London to live a conformable life overseas or seek out those responsible for her lost memory. Thomas number two soon learns her predecessor was a Rook who fought for the top secret Chequy organization against supernatural evil. She also finds out she possesses a rare lethal paranormal skill. As she decides at least for now to learn the truth of who betrayed her, Thomas number two struggles on the mundane plane against deadly children warriors and on the dream plane from an aristocrat who easily enters him subconscious. The more Thomas two learns, the more convolute her inquiry turns as she struggles with what everyone she encounters assumes she knows; although that is a handicap Thomas two realizes she sees things differently than her Chequy mates enabling her to envision a diabolical conspiracy that others fail to fathom.

This may be the paranormal thriller of the year as Daniel O’Malley creates a fresh, fast-paced and entertaining tale. A sort of urban fantasy version of the movie Memento, readers will enjoy the escapades of “You” guided by “Me” in what is a fabulous fascinating fall though the "Rabbit Hole".

Harriet Klausner

Murder Season-Robert Ellis

Murder Season

Robert Ellis

Minotaur, Dec 6 2011, $25.99

ISBN: 9780312366179

At the latest Hollywood in-crowd spot Club 3 AM, someone shoots and kills two people. Police Detective Lena Gamble arrives at the murder scene to lead the official investigation. She knows the media will follow her with a frenzied microscope and the brass will gladly let her take the media’s hits while claiming the accolades.

However that was her feelings before she learns the identities of the victims. Club owner Johnny Bosco had high level political connections and twenty-five year old Jacob Gant recently was acquitted of raping and murdering sixteen year old Lily Hight due to police missteps in the latest trial of the century. Gamble knows this case is a nightmare as the prime suspect is Lily’s father who has the court of public opinion turning him into a hero. The detective looks closer at the Gant investigation led by seemingly unbalanced Dan Cobb and finds other discrepancies in the case put together by Deputy DA Steven Bennett. Meanwhile District Attorney Jimmy J. Higgins sees the homicides as a springboard to a state office while Gamble turns to another Deputy DA Greg Vaughan.

The latest LAPD Gamble police procedural (see The Lost Witness) is an exciting thriller that focuses on the taint of the judicial system when it fails to protect the innocent as the measure of success is convictions. Filled with plenty of suspense and taut twists, fans will relish Murder Season as Gamble works a convoluted case under the scrutinizing public spotlight.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Devil’s Elixir-Raymond Khoury

The Devil’s Elixir

Raymond Khoury

Dutton, Dec 22 2011, $26.95

ISBN: 9780525952435

Drug kingpin Raoul “El Brujo” Navarro has been using a rare herb the Devil’s Elixir for years. He realizes that if the drug can be converted into a synthesized pill, he can make a fortune.

While Navarro sets in motion the manufacturing of the Devil’s Elixier, DEA agent Michelle Martinez calls her former boyfriend FBI agent Sean Reilly at his Mamaroneck, New York house. She tells him thugs with guns entered her San Diego home firing shots at her and hitting her boyfriend. Sean and his girlfriend Tess Chaykin head for the West Coast where they soon connect dots between Martinez, her four years old son, Navarro and his hoods, and law enforcement officials as whoever controls the Devil’s Elixir may, like what happened centuries ago in Mexico, end civilization as we know it today.

Although the premise seems over the top of the Mayan pyramids of Teotihuacan, somehow Raymond Khoury makes the elixir seem plausible. The return of Sean and Tess will please fans of the Templar sagas as they work another odd case. The Devil’s Elixir is a superb thriller as time is running out on the protagonists while their enemies are a drug sorcerer and law enforcement operative in which neither side has any moral fiber even with the death of civilization imminent.

Harriet Klausner

All Necessary Force-Brad Taylor

All Necessary Force

Brad Taylor

Dutton, Jan 17 2012, $25.95

ISBN 9780525952626

The alphabet soup of U.S. intelligence agencies learns via the internet that a terrorist group plans an attack inside America rather soon. However, the CIA, FBI or DIS can’t identify who, when or where. Top Secret Taskforce is assigned to find the needed information before it is too late.

When a Taskforce operation in Asia leaves an agent dead, former chief Logan Pike is placed in charge of the field operation. He and his girlfriend/business partner Jennifer Cahill begin to unravel two planned attacks by separate terrorist groups. However, as he and Jennifer learn of the smuggling into the country of a WMD like none before, Logan knows he will violate the law in which Taskforce is not authorized to operate inside the United States, but he has no choice.

The second Pike Logan Taskforce thriller (see One Rough Man) is an action-packed tale from start to finish. The lead couple is an interesting pair as Logan struggles to run the show while Jennifer has a difficult moral dilemma to face. Although the government officials and the terrorists are stereotypes (except for the recruited inmates); readers will appreciate this fast-paced violent thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Dead Low Tide-Brett Lott

Dead Low Tide

Brett Lott

Random House, Jan 17 2012, $25.00

ISBN: 9781400063758

Ten years ago in Charleston, South Carolina, then teenager Huger Dillard killed a man (see The Hunt Club). He remains traumatized as he suffers from PTSD leading to his dropping out of college and still living at the family home Landgrave Hall; his teenage girlfriend Tabitha Gaillard moved on with her life as she attends Stanford as a doctorate student.

At two in the morning in spite of the golf course being closed, Huger caddies for his blind father Unc. They arrive by boat, but finding the corpse of a woman ends their time on the links before it begins. Suddenly the marsh is loaded with activity as the cops and U.S. Naval Weapons Station operative arrive. When Huger returns home, he finds Naval Commander Prendergast with his mother. Meanwhile a dead male is found in the trunk of a car. Needing to know shat is going on while wondering if his family is in peril, Huger snaps out of his doldrums to investigate the truth.

This is an entertaining second chance at life (if you live long enough) tale. The story line is at its best when the focus is on Huger still shut down after a decade has passed since his previous harrowing experience. When the story line turns into a standard thriller, Dead Low Tide loses some of its fascination as this seems of character for this sitting on the sidelines couch potato. Still fans will enjoy Huger’s second coming if he survives his latest ordeal.

Harriet Klausner

Power Play-Ben Bova

Power Play

Ben Bova

Tor, Jan 3 2012, $24.99

ISBN 9780765317865

Adjunct astronomy professor Dr. Jake Ross met his mentor Dr. Leverett Caldwell when he was in middle school on a field trip to James A, Van Allen Museum of science. Lev suggest Jake accept the position of science advisor to senatorial candidate Frank Tomlinson, who is making a run against incumbent Senator Leeds. Tomlinson fantasizes that he is JFK so he needs his moon mission. He chooses magnetohydrodynamics as a cheaper yet more effective way to generate electricity. Tomlinson makes the offer and Toss accepts.

Leeds sends his henchmen Ignacio “Nacho” Perez; and Benito “Monster” Falciglia to persuade Ross he can obtain tenure if he joins the right team by sabotaging his boss’ support to MHD. Ross refuses but also fears his employer is rushing things as MHD is not ready for prime time with potentially dangerous safety issues to resolve.

Power Play is an interesting political-economic thriller starring a dedicated likable hero who finds himself at the center of senatorial electoral hardball (Chris Matthews’ style). The support cast is inane with females sleeping around and goons acting like comic book rejects. Still, with a strong premise in which many in power prefer MHD to fail, fans will enjoy Ross’ growing awareness of what counts in DC and who is expendable.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, November 21, 2011

Copper Beach-Jayne Ann Krentz

Copper Beach

Jayne Ann Krentz

Putnam, Jan 10 2012, $25.95

ISBN 9780399157875

Lander Knox, claiming to be the dying patient’s son, visits Quinn Knox at Oakmont Hospital in Florida to gloat that he will soon obtain his rightful inheritance by opening the Phoenix Mine and using the crystals for personal gain. He explains he found a freelancing underground hot books code breaker in Seattle who he will hire to open Ray Willis psi-coded nab book. A stunned Quinn calls Elias Coppersmith who had his back like a brother forty years ago to warn him.

A maniac arrives with a gun that he points at octogenarian wheelchair bound Hannah Vaughn and her housekeeper Mrs. Jensen. Grady Hastings demands she give him the Key and her employee Abby Radwell who will unlock the Key to the Latent Power of Stones. She uses psychic energy from the tome to knock him out. The next day she receives a blackmailing email that states the sender knows what she did to Hastings.

Abby takes the water taxi to visit Elias’ son paranormal crystal expert Sam Coppersmith on the San Juan Islands. He agrees to keep her safe and hunt for her blackmailer if she can finds a dangerous book that his father asked him to locate in order to conceal it. They also are aura attracted to one another.

The first Dark Legacy  romantic suspense is an engaging thriller starring two likable protagonists and an apparent insane antagonist; while the support cast enhances the engaging paranormal thriller. Although the storyline contains several meandering entertaining twists, the plot never veers from the course readers will expect. Still the key to enjoyable Copper Beach are the courageous lead couple who risks their lives to keep a dangerous tome from a mad man.

Harriet Klausner

The Secret Crown-Chris Kuzneski

The Secret Crown

Chris Kuzneski

Putnam, Jan 12 2012, $25.95

ISBN 9780399157455

Former Special Forces BFFs Jonathon Payne and David Jones are in Pittsburgher when Kaiser calls them to come immediately to Munich to discuss buried treasure. Once they arrive, he explains that crates buried during WWII were recently discovered with some containing a black swan insignia belonging to late nineteenth century Mad King Ludwig II. Before he was allegedly assassinated the Mad King supposedly put aside a humongous horde of gold and jewels to build a castle. However, after his murder, no evidence was found to prove this assertion until these crates were located.

Kaiser believes they can make a fortune. Payne and Jones agree though they hesitate because any dealings with Kaiser usually proves to be extremely dangerous. As they follow the clues, the two former Special Forces soldiers find their basic Kaiser assertion true as enemies wanting to own the treasure stalk them.

The latest Payne and Jones thriller (see The Lost Throne and The Prophecy) is a fun exciting tale in which the history of Bavaria enhances the suspense. The lead dudes provide humorous asides such as racist sausage and a zillion teenage locker room sex jokes, but never seem quite challenged by their adversaries. Still in spite of the evil enemy never seeming like much of a threat, fans will enjoy The Secret Crown as Payne and Jones search for the treasure of the Mad King.

Harriet Klausner

The Chalk Girl-Carol O’Connell

The Chalk Girl

Carol O’Connell

Putnam, Jan 17 2012, $25.95

ISBN 9780399157745

After being declared mentally incompetent and unfit for duty, Kathy Mallory takes three months of leave. Although not officially declared ready for work, Kathy shows up at the NYPD Special Crimes Unit. No one challenges the return of “Mallory the Machine”.

In Central Park, eight-year-old Coco observed a murder and kidnapping. She has blood on her shoulder that she says fell from the sky and her uncle is in a tree. When they find her relative dead in the tree, police question the child, but she cannot describe the killer. Kathy and Coco bond as each recognizes a hurting soul in the other. The cop begins to tie the Central Park homicide to two other similar cases and begins to connect dots totwo fifteen years old cold cases.

The latest Mallory police procedural (see Find Me) is a super investigative thriller starring two emotionally damaged females. The inquiry is excellent as Mallory methodically ties three present day investigations to two cold cases. The ties between the so called “machine” and the Chalk Girl enhance a strong New York thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Lunatics-Dave Barry & Alan Zweibel


Dave Barry & Alan Zweibel

Putnam, Jan 10 2012, $25.95

ISBN: 9780399158698

In Fort Lee, New Jersey, family man Philip Horkman referees an ATSO soccer championship game. He calls offside against Taylor Peckerman as she kicked the tying goal. Taylor’s dad Jeffrey, a forensic plumber, goes crazy cursing and threatening Phillip.

That night Jeffery’s wife asks him to stop for a bottle of wine as the Oprah Reading Club will meet in their house. Jeffrey stops at The Wine Shop only to learn it is a pet shop named after the prime in-law investors and the owner is Philip. Still fuming over the call, Jeffrey threatens Philip who grabs a bat. Expecting his enemy to swing, Jeffrey grabs a lemur before fleeing into the night with Philip in pursuit. One thing leads to another and soon the pair is on TV as terrorists trying to blow up the GW Bridge and shooting a cop in the scrotum. They are on the run from cops, soldiers, Charo, Chuck E. Cheese and terrorists,

Rotating first person accounts between the two antagonists (and authors), this is a zany over the top of Washington Heights thriller. Amusing and fast-paced, readers will enjoy the escalating soccer war between two individuals as the media puts on its spin to events while the government agencies insure the enemy combatants are accused of all sorts of felons to hide their incompetency and mistakes. With an insane spin into politics, the aptly titled Lunatics is a fun tale as fans will enjoy this pair of misfits jocular antics.

Harriet Klausner

A Quiet Vendetta-R.J. Ellory

A Quiet Vendetta

R.J. Ellory

Overlook, Jan 5 2012, $25.95

ISBN 9781590205082

In New Orleans, someone kidnaps nineteen year old Catherine Ducane; the teen’s bodyguard is brutally murdered. The NOPD reacts quickly as the victim is the teenage daughter of the state’s Governor Charles Ducane.

The kidnapper Ernesto Perez fails to ask for money or governor-level request. Instead he notifies the FBI he wants to meet with Ray Hartmann, a minor bureaucrat in the New York district attorney’s office. In exchange for this meeting, he will inform the Feds where Ducane is hidden. Perez informs Hartmann that he has been a mob hit-man for decades; he has been involved in at least 19 hits and recounts ties to Kennedy and Nixon. The FBI, the governor and the media wonder what Perez’s secret agenda is and why he is picking to chat with a nonentity like Hartmann.

This is a great thriller that uses five decades of Mafia history in the Bronx, Manhattan, Vegas, Cuba and elsewhere as the background to a fascinating tale. Readers will be hooked from the moment Perez makes his demand known and will keep on reading until they learn what his agenda is and why. Perez and Hartmann are fully developed superb antagonists as this time the truth will set both of them free. A Quiet Vendetta is a superb and enthralling story.

Harriet Klausner

Gideon’s Corpse-Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child

Gideon’s Corpse

Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child

Grand Central, Jan 10 2012, $26.99

ISBN: 9780446564373

In his short life, Gideon Crew has seen plenty of ugliness starting when his father, accused of treason, was gunned down. He recently learned the truth about the dad he once admired when his dying mom said he was innocent and assassinated. Now Gideon has a reason to live: revenge. Gideon went from a thief to a nuclear scientist motivated by his new quest. However, after his mission is accomplished he learns he suffers from a terminal illness with about one year to live.

Glinn, who runs the mysterious Elective Engineering Solution firm, ruins a rare serene Zen moment for Gideon by telling him a co-worker has taken a family hostage. By the time Gideon reaches the scene, Chalker is incoherent. Gideon learns his cohort is radioactive while the Feds believe he turned into a Jihadist when he converted to Islam and that he fashioned a nuke while working at Los Alamos. Gideon relooks email exchanges he had with Glinn and concludes like his late father, his peer is being framed. His superiors believe the real terrorists plan to nuke DC but Gideon’s intuition tells him they have something even worse planned..

Readers will root for Gideon whose life was shattered with the killing of his father and now has a death watch to contend with, but like the hero he is, Gideon refuses to quit. As his friends and peers turn against him, Gideon knows he wears his father’s shoes, but has the advantage of understanding what is going on and why they believe he is a chip off his treasonous block. Preston & Childs provide another exciting over the top of the Washington Monument suspense thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, November 20, 2011

A Devil Is Waiting-Jack Higgins

A Devil Is Waiting

Jack Higgins

Putnam, Jan 3 2012, $26.95

ISBN 9780399158094

Following a difficult rough tour in Afghanistan, British Captain Sara Gideon heir to the Gideon Bank returns home. The Prime Minister’s “private army” leader General Charles Ferguson recruits war hero Sara to join his elite antiterrorism team. He knows her linguistic skills will enhance his unit’s chances for success against a devious enemy.

Meanwhile Muslim terrorist Ali Selim offers a special blessing to anyone who kills the infidel leaders of the West. Ferguson takes Selim’s threat serious as POTUS is coming to London to meet with the P.M. He assigns agents Sean Dillon, Daniel Holley and Sara to take out Selim before anyone acts on his assassination blessing. However as they follows clues to the Persian Gulf in seeking the Mullah, a kidnapping turns the mission into a desperate quest.

The latest Dillon-Holly tale (see The Judas Gate) is an action-packed thriller although somewhat similar in theme to this series and other stop the terrorists’ sagas. The story line refreshed by Sara who brings a feminist perspective to the mix. Although the story line is thin and the terrorists seem stereotypes, fans will enjoy this fast-paced novel.

Harriet Klausner

Breakdown-Sara Paretsky


Sara Paretsky

Putnam, Jan 3 2012, $26.95

ISBN: 9780399157837

In Chicago private investigator V. I. Warshawski attends a glamorous gala for Wade Lawlor, the star of Global Entertainment Network’s top show Wade’s World, a right-wing network. Her cousin Petra works for the Malina Foundation on a book club in which wealthy and penniless young girls meet.

A concerned Petra asks V. I. to search for the missing book club girls. She locates them conducting a rite from a YA vampire thriller in nearby closed Mount Moriah Cemetery. Besides the seven tweeners, V. I. also finds a corpse with a metal rod protruding from the victim’s heart. Though she knows she should not, V. I. helps the girls leave the murder scene before CPD arrives. V. I. begins her own inquiry into what proves a twisting case that makes Rubik's Cube look like a kindergarten puzzle.

This is a great Warshawski suspenseful investigative thriller as the heroine works a confusing case but never shuts down her moral compass of helping the helpless. The story line is fast-paced while keeping readers up late with what spin follows next. Fans will enjoy kick butt Warshawski as she escorts fans on a vast tour of the diverse Chicago landscape.

Harriet Klausner

The Whisperer-Donato Carrisi

The Whisperer

Donato Carrisi

Mulholland/Little Brown, Jan 5 2011$25.99

ISBN: 9780316194723

Five young girls have vanished. Eerily, six left arms are found in what appears to be a sort of graveyard. Mila Vasquez the famous profiler and Goran Gavila the renowned psychic criminologist lead the investigation. The pair believes the arms belong to the five missing girls, but have no idea who the sixth arm belongs to.

They also think they know who the identity of the serial killer is, but that proves apparently false. As their inquiry goes nowhere, the two sleuths become paranoid with the possibility that they were named as leads not to solve the impossible case but to take the fall when it goes cold. Mila and Goran obstinately refuse to quit, but each victim leads them to a different outcome.

This is an entertaining tough somewhat standard chess game between a brilliant psychopath and two investigators with lofty reputations for case resolution. The story line is fast-paced but over the top of wherever the setting actually is (the plot lacks a place anchor). Still fans will enjoy the contest between the desperate investigators and the diabolical adversary.

Harriet Klausner

Love In a Nutshell-Janet Evanovich and Dorien Kelly

Love In a Nutshell

Janet Evanovich and Dorien Kelly

St. Martin’s, Jan 3 2012, $27.99

ISBN: 9780312651312

In Oak Ridge, Michigan Kate Appleton loses her position as an assistant editor at a business magazine due to the amoral machination of sleazy the Melvin. Her spouse Richard leaves her for a marriage wrecker; so she decides to leave the Detroit area for Keene’s Harbor to convert her parents’ summer house the Nutshell into a Bed and Breakfast.

However, she needs cash, but loses her job at the bar due to bad beer. She confronts the Depot Brewing Company owner Matt Culhane who likes her energy. He hires her as a floater filling in when someone is out but that is to conceal his real reason for giving her work. He wants her to go undercover in order to determine who is sabotaging his company from within. Matt offers floater salary and a $20,000 bonus if she identifies the rat. She hates beer but likes her boss while everyone distrusts the newcomer.

This is an enjoyable lighthearted frolic starring two likeable protagonists, a villain in plain sight, and a heroic three legged canine. Fans will enjoy this tale that in some ways feels like a throwback to a 1930s romantic comedic mystery even without a plum in sight.

Harriet Klausner

The Hunter-John Lescroart

The Hunter

John Lescroart

Dutton, Jan 3 2012, $26.95

ISBN: 9780525952565

San Francisco private investigator Wyatt Hunt was raised by loving adoptive parents. He had no inclination to learn who his biological roots are as he knows who is true parents are.

However, Hunt changes his mind when he receives a strange text message: "How did your mother die?" Apparently she was murdered. His adoptive parents have no solid information on his roots as none were provided when he joined their family as a toddler. Hunt learns his dad lives in hiding having survived two murder charges and the Jim Jones’s mass suicide in 1978. As Hunt searches for the messenger of gloom and doom, he will learn the hard way that a dark secret interred for decades might prove dangerous for those he cherishes.

This is a strong exhilarating thriller as Hunt and an unknown individual who he is unsure is friend or foe plays a deadly game of chess with him. Hunt’s investigation is fast-paced and very entertaining though he seems to obtain information that is over three decades old and buried rather too easily. Still fans will enjoy this taut tale wondering whether the protagonist is The Hunter or the hunted.

Harriet Klausner

Stay At Home Dead-Jeffrey Allen

Stay At Home Dead

Jeffrey Allen

Kensington, Jan 3 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780758266897

Rose Petal, Texas is a small town in which everyone remains up to date on the latest happenings especially scandals, misdemeanors and felonies. The townsfolk struggle with accepting that Deuce Winters is a househusband while his wife Julianne is a high powered attorney. Whereas she brings in the income, he is the primary caretaker of their three years old daughter Carly.

Nobody is more shocked than this father and daughter when they find the corpse of Benny Barnes inside their van parked in a supermarket lot. Overwhelmingly the locals assume Deuce killed the man responsible for destroying the “suspect’s” football career and stealing his girlfriend Shayna over twenty years ago in high school. The clique of parents at the daycare center demands the removal Deuce as a school helper, which is symptomatic of others’ belief that Deuce is a killer. Shayna asks him to come over, which he reluctantly does. She follows up by taking out a restraining order to keep him away from her. Life turns stranger when Victor the “little person” detective follows Deuce around town; conducting a surveillance for a client he refuses to name. Determined to clear his name, Deuce with Victor and Julianne’s assistance investigates the murder; only to find a business plan turn deadly.

Stay At Home Dead is a charming (except if you are the beleaguered protagonist) creative cozy starring a likable hero and his spouse. She protects his interests and that of a daughter like a lioness. The plot seems simple as it smoothly flows until a twist turns the story line into a wild rapids ride as readers ponder what is going on in Rose Petal. Deuce makes the tale work as a househusband and an amateur sleuth.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Exterminators-Bill Fitzhugh

The Exterminators

Bill Fitzhugh

Poisoned Pen, Jan 3 2012, $24.95

ISBN 9781590585429

Six years ago Bob Dillon and his horde survived hit men, assassins and murderers to abscond with several million from a Bolivian drug lord (see Pest Control). He used his loot to obtain a truck with a bug on the roof.

In Oregon, Bob and his partner Klaus Müller the assassin experiment with a ‘green’ solution to chemical pest control. They genetically reengineer the assassin bug into a killer species but this is expensive and they are running out of money. Bob and Klaus contact a venture capitalist to obtain seed loot, but their sponsor works for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency' who want to apply their experiments on terrorists. They accept the terms and relocate to Los Angeles where a Bolivian drug lord out ten million dollars puts a Pest Control bounty of twenty million on the heads of the Bug Guys.

The second Assassin Bug Thriller is a fast-paced zany thriller that amusingly is over the top of the Hollywood Hills sign. Filled with action, spins and a horde of the assassins, fans will appreciate this jocular satire that skewers the right and left, celebrity worship, and the losing war on bugs.

Harriet Klausner

Love, Honour, and O’Brien-Jennifer Rowe

Love, Honour, and O’Brien

Jennifer Rowe

Poisoned Pen, Jan 3 2012, $24.95

ISBN 9781590585450

In Australia, financial adviser Andrew McNish withdraws the savings in the joint account he took out with his fiancée Gorgon Office Supplies clerk Holly Love. She is upset because he stole her money including her severance check from Gorgon and her heart. Holly vows revenge.

In the Blue Mountains where Andrew owned a house, Holly hires rundown private investigator Mick O’Brien to find her former fiancé the SOB, but instead her sleuth dies on the job. Holly takes over the case, but soon all types of strange people assume she is Mick’s partner. Holly encounters clairvoyant Abigail Honour who shares an office with dead Mick; Cage the mouthing parrot; Constable Chloe Gruff investigating Mick’s death; the Elvis impersonator driving the hearse with Mick’s body as a passenger; and elderly Una Maggott who insists someone in her household murdered Mick, Andrew or both.

This zany Australian amateur sleuth is an engaging tale starring a brave obstinate heroine who on her trek for vengeance as the scorned woman feels like she fell though the rabbit hole as even the fat tabby she meets adds to the insanity. Fans who appreciate something amusingly offbeat in the mysteries will enjoy Jennifer Rowe’s humorous taut suspense thriller as Holly find her groove.

Harriet Klausner

One Perfect Shot-Steven F. Havill

One Perfect Shot:

Steven F. Havill

Poisoned Pen, Jan 3 2012, $24.95

ISBN 9781590589564

In 1987 in Posadas County, New Mexico, Sheriff Eduardo Salcido considers hiring nineteen year old Estelle Reyes-Guzman as a deputy. His Undersheriff Bill Gastner agrees to serve as the rookie’s trainer and quickly becomes her mentor as he appreciates her energy and intelligence.

Her first major case under Bill’s tutelage is the investigation into the shooting murder of county road grader Larry Zipoli while he sat in his vehicle. The evidence points to the deceased knowing his assassin; so the two law enforcement officials look into the victim’s wife, neighbors, boss, and construction peers. Bill and Estelle also inquire into the youngsters Zipoli took boating.

The latest Posadas County police procedural is a terrific prequel that focuses on the first teaming of the series protagonists. The case is deftly handled so that the mentor trains the mentee (and readers). Besides a strong timely (with what has happened at Penn State) investigation, the key to Steven F. Havill’s powerful thriller is long time fans will see clearly the traits that make Bill and Estelle strong law enforcement leaders and caring family members while newcomers will be introduced to these endearing heroes.

Harriet Klausner

Hot Zone-Catherine Mann

Hot Zone

Catherine Mann

Sourcebooks, Dec 1 2011, $6.99

ISBN: 9781402244988

In the Bahamas, American lawyer Amelia Bailey knows how meaningless the Richter scale score is when an earthquake collapses a building on her and her newly adopted thirteen months old nephew, Joshua. Entombed she refuses to quit as she knows she needs to be there for the toddler.

Five years ago Air Force Pararescueman Master Sergeant Hugh Franco gave up on his own life; his mantra is “That others may live.” He rescues Amelia and Joshua from the rubble. The adults are attracted to each other, but both gave up on relationships. However, as the aunt and her nephew heal in a ground zero tent hospital, a black market baby commodity exchange kidnaps the pair. Hugh goes after the trafficking ring as he has his first reason to live in five years while the enemy pursues them.

The second Elite Force romantic suspense (see Cover Me) is a complex exciting thriller with a strong cast. The lead couple is a wonderful pairing of two people refusing to dive into the cold relationship waters, so their hearts force them to take the plunge. The support characters are fully developed; the plot contains additional romances and the motivation behind the chief smuggler’s trafficking enhancing the taut storyline. Catherine Mann provides a superb action-packed tale.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, November 18, 2011

Sleepwalker-Karen Robards


Karen Robards

Gallery/Pocket, Dec 27 2011, $25.00

ISBN: 9781439183724

While her family friend “Uncle” Nicco Marino is away, Detroit police detective Micayla “Mick” Lange house-sits his estate on New Year’s Eve. A noise awakens her from the nightmare of her mom’s murder. Mick investigates the sounds coming from Nicco’s office. With her gun in hand, she catches Jason Davis, who thought the house was vacant for the holidays.

Mick sees the incriminating photos of the murders of Edward Lightfoot and his family. She realizes that the security cameras have caught her and Davis looking at the pictures. Knowing what that means, Mick and Jason take money from the safe and flee to the state’s remote wilderness. Meanwhile Nicco’s henchmen led by his security chief pursue them.

This an exhilarating romantic suspense as the lead couple play cat and mouse against a diabolical deadly criminal and his horde. Fast-paced throughout, the protagonists fall in love while on the lam, but they have no time for a respite as the enemy keeps on coming. Although why Nicco would ask anyone, especially a cop even if he loves her family, to baby-sit his house as he has super security who should have been the ones there, fans will appreciate Karen Robards’ taut thriller.

Harriet Klausner

The Forgotten Affairs of Youth-Alexander McCall Smith

The Forgotten Affairs of Youth

Alexander McCall Smith

Pantheon, Dec 6 2011, $24.95

ISBN: 9780307379184

Australian philosopher Jane Cooper takes a sabbatical to visit Edinburgh. Being adopted at birth, Jane seeks to locate her biological dad who apparently was a student in Edinburgh when she was conceived. Jane knows the odds of her succeeding with her quest are extremely low. Still she feels a gut need bordering on obsessiveness to make a legitimate attempt.

She asks Scottish philosopher and occasional amateur sleuth (see The Charming Quirks of Others) Isabel Dalhousie for help. Although she is overwhelmed with issues from her adorable active toddler Charlie, her caring fiancé Jamie, her toxic niece Cat and her dedicated housekeeper Grace; Isabel agrees to try to locate Jane’s father.

This marvelous mellow mystery is a brilliant entertaining philosophical treatise on what a family really is and whether personal history can better help people feel more contented/cope with the present and future. Character driven, readers will relish Isabel’s latest cozy as her inquiry into Jane’s roots and her relationships with her family enlighten the audience as to what matters in life.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Egypt: The Book of Chaos- Nick Drake

Egypt: The Book of Chaos

Nick Drake

Harper, Dec 1 2011, $25.99

ISBN: 9780060765941

Egyptian General Horemheb threatens the shaky 18th dynasty as the late Pharaoh Tutankhamun’s widow Queen Ankhesenamun has no support from the leadership. Knowing her reign is tenuous at best, she sends former Thebes’ chief detective Rahotep to the Hittites to forge a relationship between their countries through her marrying one of his sons. The Queen knows if Horemheb or the elite learn what she is attempting, she will be executed for treason as the Hittites are her kingdom’s enemy.

Rahotep knows his top secret mission will anger his family for his breaking a pledge to them and worse allow a murderer to remain free to behead more teenage Nubian boys. Still in spite of his reluctance to break his family vow and knowing the threat of the General and his allies, loyal Rahotep serves Queen Ankhesenamun.

The third Rahotep “seeker of mysteries” Ancient Egyptian thriller (see Nefertiti: The Book of Shadows and Tutankhamun: The Book of the Dead) is a great tale in one of the best trilogies in years. The story line is fast-paced as the weary Theban sleuth struggles with perilous political intrigue and a serial killer case. Egypt: The Book of Chaos is super ancient historical thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Hard Target-Howard Gordon

Hard Target

Howard Gordon

Touchstone, Jan 3 2012, $25.99

ISBN: 9781439175828

Dale Wilmot has always been proud of his son Evan, a successful athlete who enlisted with the military. After tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, Evan returns home with his legs and right arm amputated; his once beautiful face scarred so hideously he makes Krueger look handsome. Dale is angry and bitter at what the government did to his beloved son and plans to make the Feds pay in accordance with an eye for an eye.

A meth junkie waylays former State department employee Gideon Davis to inform the academic that a terrorist plot to decimate the government is in motion. Gideon tells his former girlfriend FBI Agent Nancy Clement, but her skeptical superiors reject the original source as unreliable as they have no collaborating data. The informant fails to make a meeting with Gideon and Nancy so the former heads to West Virginia to ask his brother Tillman, recipient of a presidential pardon, to infiltrate Wilmot’s white supremacist militia. While the FBI continues to refuse to act on the Davis brothers’ information, psychopathic Wilmot is in DC deploying his plan.

The second Davis thriller (see Gideon’s War) is an exhilarating ultra fast-paced tale that starts in first gear and accelerates from there. The Davis brothers have reasons to be angry with the current administration and other leaders, but do not allow their personal contempt to prevent them from trying to stop a disaster from extreme right wing home grown terrorists. Howard Gordon is a top thriller writer thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

All Yours-Claudia Pineiro, translated by Miranda France

All Yours

Claudia Pineiro, translated by Miranda France

Bitter Lemon, Dec 18 2011, $14.95

ISBN 9781904738800

In 1998 Buenos Aires, Ernesto Pereyra informs his wife Ines that he must go to the office late at night to deal with and emergency. Ines, recently having found a love note in his briefcase, assumes his office emergency is for his lower head as they have not slept tighter in a month or so.

Deciding to not fall into the trap that destroyed her mother who asked her husband what was wrong, Ines follows Ernesto into a remote woods where he meets with his secretary, Alicia. However, the cuckold wife is shocked when the rendezvous turns violent and Ernesto shoves Alicia, who cracks her head against a tree; Alicia is dead on the spot so Ernesto sinks her body in a nearby lake. Ines returns home knowing beyond a doubt her Ernesto loves her. When the police suspect Ernesto of killing Alicia, Ines provides him an airtight alibi. However, she becomes angry when she realizes her mate who she saved with her lies is a serial cheater.

This is a great twisting Argentinian noir as Ernesto and Ines learn what TrueLove is. Fast-paced, this deadly family drama grips the reader from the start and never slows down until the final spin. Claudia Pineiro provides a tense thriller that readers will appreciate.

Harriet Klausner

Death Benefit-Robin Cook

Death Benefit

Robin Cook

Putnam, Dec 27 2011, $26.95

ISBN 9780399157462

Nobel Prize winner, molecular geneticist Tobias Rothman, who worked with virulent strains of typhoid-causing salmonella, concentrates on organogenesis, growing fully functional entire organs from stem cells. He notices the energy and intelligence of Columbia Medical School student Pia Grazdani so Tobias brings the troubled twenty-six years old onto his team.

Avaricious board chair of LifeDeals Inc. Edmund Mathews uses his firm’s assets to buy life insurance policies from the sick and elderly on the cheap. However, if Rothman’s work succeeds making organs cheap, Mathews and his partners would go bankrupt and potentially face criminal charges of fraud and embezzlement. An accident at the safe lab shakes up Pia who soon realizes someone caused the lethal incident and wants her dead too. She turns to Columbia medical student George Wilson, who loves her, for safety.

Although an exciting medical thriller, Death Benefits is over the top of Morningside Heights; thus requiring readers to ignore their plausibility measures. The story line is fast-paced from the moment the lab incident occurs and never slows down. Robin Cook shines a fascinating spotlight on the multitrillion dollar insurance commodity market inside an engaging Manhattan tale.

Harriet Klausner

Down the Darkest Road-Tami Hoag

Down the Darkest Road

Tami Hoag

Dutton, Dec 27 2011, $26.95

ISBN 9780525952398

In 1990, fortyish interior decorator Lauren Lawton and her sixteen year old daughter Leah move to Oak Knoll, California to escape the horror of Santa Barbara. Four years ago, her then sixteen year old daughter Leslie vanished. The police suspected photographer Roland Ballencoa, but found no proof he abducted the teen. Not long afterward, Leslie’s father Lance committed suicide. She is still an emotional disaster and unable to help her other child so Lauren decides to escape the horrid tragic scene.

However, only a few months in their new town, Lauren sees her worst nightmare is there too. Ballencoa has come to Oak Knoll. Trying to protect her younger daughter from this psychopath, Lauren learns the horrible meaning of déjà vu.

The third Oak Knoll investigative thriller is a taut but obvious (even with an interesting twist) tale in which the pioneer days of forensic science play a key cornerstone of storyline (as it does in its predecessors - Deeper Than the Dead and Secrets to the Grave). Fast-paced, fans of the series will enjoy this entertaining cat and mouse novel even knowing the direction Down the Darkest Road that Tami Hoag takes us.

Harriet Klausner

Kill Switch-Neal Baer & Jonathan Greene

Kill Switch

Neal Baer & Jonathan Greene

Kensington, Dec 13 2011, $24.00

ISBN 9780758266866

In 1989 in Rochester, New York eight year old BFFs Claire and Amy are jumping rope in front of the home of the former. A man in his forties arrives to introduce himself as Mr. Winslow, a friend of Amy’s dad who was hurt in an accident and is in Strong memorial Hospital but wants to see his daughter. That was the last time Claire saw Amy though the trauma and survivor guilt remain with her as a forensic psychiatrist working at Rikers Island.

Claire’s mentor Dr. Paul “Dr. Oz of Forensic Psychiatry” Curtin believes she could be one of the greats with her uncanny ability to work with the amoral untreatable. However, he is concerned with the way she acts discombobulated with feelings of self hating failure while working with inmate Todd Quimby, whose mother murdered his father. That violent fiasco leads Curtin to assign Claire to assist NYPD Manhattan South Detective Nick Lawler, who just returned to the job after dealing with his wife’s suicide, on his hunt for a serial killer in which Quimby is a suspect.

This is an exciting police procedural starring two emotionally flawed individuals. The story line is fast-paced starting with the interview at Rikers and never slows down until the final confrontation. Filled with twists especially a terrific late one, readers will enjoy this entertaining taut suspense thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Big Leagues-Jen Estes

Big Leagues

Jen Estes

Camel, Dec 1 2011, $14.95

ISBN: 9781603818704

Rookie sportswriter Cat McDaniel works the minor leagues beat as she follows the Porterville Bulldogs. When Brad Derhiff, the reporter covering the Major league Las Vegas Chips dies from a prescription overdose, the team’s CEO and General Manager Erich Konig surprisingly hire Cat to replace the late journalist. Her selection angers junior reporter Dustin Carlyle who thought he was the heir apparent to the senior position.

Cat loves her new assignment though Dustin is nasty. She is concerned with charismatic Erich’s admiration and she likes her neighbor Professor Benji Levy who prefers comic books over baseball. All is right in her world until outfielder Jamal Abercrombie dies when his heart stops beating. Stunned, Cat believes Jamal did not do drugs and was in great shape so encouraged by her Gram, she investigates only to place herself in peril at Hohenschwangau Stadium.

Although I did not think beat reporters were on a team's payroll but with the internet that seems plausible as readers will enjoy this engaging sports amateur sleuth. The story line focuses on what happens behind the scenes of a major league baseball team with the whodunit starting in about the fifth or sixth inning. There will be no seventh inning stretch as Jen Estes provides an enjoyable time at the ballpark.

Harriet Klausner

The Towman’s Daughters-David J. Walker

The Towman’s Daughters

David J. Walker

Severn House, Oct 1 2011, $28.95

ISBN: 9780727880666

In Chicago, Dugan the lawyer, whose license to practice may be revoked heads to Wancho’s Towing to retrieve the car belonging to his wife Kirsten the private investigator which he caused it to be towed. Dugan accidently prevents Tyrone Beale from the kidnapping of Isobel Cho, daughter of the towing company and alleged criminal, Juan.

Dugan tells Kirstan what happened and the owner of Wild Onion, Inc. suggests they do nothing. However, they cannot stay out of it when they learn that Isobel’s boyfriend Jamison Traynor, son of a U.S. Senator, hired Tyrone to keep her safe, which is what he was doing when Dugan interfered. Meanwhile her father and his family want the relationship ended for different reasons; as Isobel pleads with Kirsten to investigate who is after her and why.

The latest Wild Onion thriller is a terrific tale due to the strong relationship between capable Kirsten and bumbling Dugan. The case is cleverly filled with twists as Chicago lives up to its reputation for hardball politics. Readers will be hooked from the first fall to the final confrontation as Kirstan and Dugan investigate.

Harriet Klausner

D.C. Dead-Stuart Woods

D.C. Dead

Stuart Woods

Putnam, Dec 22 2011, $26.95

ISBN 9780399157660

At Elaine’s New York City lawyer Stone Barrington believes his son Peter does not need him (see Son of Stone) though his best friend NYPD Lieutenant Dino Bacchetti insists otherwise. However, their daddy discussion ends when CIA Assistant Deputy Director Holly Barker joins them. She reminds them they are consultants on call who need to go to DC though she cannot reveal why; she explains they will need credentials to visit the White House.

In Washington, CIA Director and First Lady Katharine Rule Lee greets them while they wait for her husband to arrive from the West Coast. President Will Lee wants them to investigate the murder suicide of the First Lady’s social secretary Mimi Kendrick by her husband Brixton Kendrick the White House manager of the physical layout investigated last year by the FBI and Secret Service.

This is an engaging Barrington-Bacchetti investigative thriller though the reason for the inquiry makes a strong case that the First Lady should not be a CIA director as she states the “FBI agents are not awfully good at investigating homicides.” The story line is fast-paced from the onset though Stone has time for a tryst with Holly. Over the top of the Washington Monument and containing an unnecessary subplot involving a former agent, fans of the series still will enjoy D.C. Dead.

Harriet Klausner

Narrows Gate-Jim Fusilli

Narrows Gate
Jim Fusilli
AmazonEncore, Nov 15 2011, $14.95
ISBN: 9781612181370

In 1931 in the Narrows Gate section of Manhattan, the Benno family owns a small grocery store. Their patrons are predominately Sicilians including mobsters. However, there biggest problem is with Maguire the prejudicial Irish cop who walks the beat. He systematically roughs up Vito in front of the man’s family and demands the grocer give him his shakedown honey. Eight year old Sal wanted to kill the abusive cop.

Polish Jew Leo Bell’s father Abramo insists his family is from Ypres, Italy. Leo is brilliant yet a dope as he does not comprehend there is Italy and there is Sicily no matter how many times his best friend Sal tried to educate him. They remain close buddies even as adults but Leo conceals his heritage from Sal for years,

William Rosiglino is a misanthrope picked on by his peers. He has no friends though he awkwardly tries with Leo and Sal. His martinet mom Hennie knows his voice is her road to affluence and out of the neighborhood. She pushes him until he becomes a famous crooner as Bill "Bebe" Marsala, but psychologically he remains a cripple.

Through these three characters, readers obtain a taste of life in New York, Los Angeles and Las Vegas in the 1930s and 1940s. Using real life persona like senators, singers, and mobsters, Jim Fusilli provides a terrific timely epic that deeply looks into the first and second generation immigrant experience only in America.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, November 14, 2011

Too Much Stuff-Don Bruns

Too Much Stuff

Don Bruns

Oceanview, Dec 12 2011, $25.95

ISBN 9781608090174

Knowing his girlfriend, Mary Trueblood contacts private investigator Skip More of More or Less Investigations. She wants to learn what happened to her great grandfather Mathew Kriegel, the finance director of the East Coast Railway, and the then valued at 1.2 Million dollars in gold bullion he was carrying by rail when the hurricane struck the Keys in 1935 killing five hundred and destroying the train in under a minute. Mary informs Skip she thinks her relative survived and hid the bullion in the Keys village of Islamorad; she conceals that she hired a team six months ago who vanished.

Skip knows his partner James Lessor would accept the case without blinking. Still he agrees to search for the treasure and what happened to her relative never heard from after the tragic incident. The investigators and Em arrive in Islamorad only to find smugglers greeting them as unwelcome and the corpse of an apparent treasure hunter “telling” them to leave.

The fifth More or Less Investigations (see Don't Sweat the Small Stuff) is an amusing Florida Keys version of the Treasure of the Sierra Madre as the lead detectives fumble, bumble and stumble their way into one perilous incident after another. To his awakening realism, Skip knows Em is the better sleuth as he and James stink at investigations. Filled with more jocularity and less suspense, fans of the two slackers will enjoy their latest comedic caper.

Harriet Klausner

Chocolate Covered Murder-Leslie Meier

Chocolate Covered Murder

Leslie Meier

Kensington, Dec 27 2012, $24.00

ISBN: 9780758229335

The weather outside is frightful in wintery Tinker’s Cove, Maine, but that does not prevent Pennysaver reporter Lucy Stone from completing her outdoor chores. She drops off her children at their various jobs and reports on the new exquisite chocolate shop Chanticleer's Chocolates owned by Trey Meacham. One of Lucy’s youngest offspring works at Chanticleer's Chocolates; but Lucy does not think the store manager Tamzin Graves is a good influence so she gets her daighter fired.

Tragedy strikes when fisherman Max Fraser falls through the ice. The ME rules it an accident, but Lucy who owed Max believes a murder occurred. To pay the late Max back, Lucy investigates. A second death occurs when the chocolate covered naked Tamzin lies dead in Chanticleer's. The police arrest co-owner Dora of Fern's Famous Fudge, but Lucy believes the suspect is innocent. Her inquiry places her on the list of a murderer observing her investigation.

This delightful sweet (unless you’re the victims) cozy will please fans of the series as the readers catch up on the lives of residents of Tinker’s Cove. The protagonist risks her life to insure is done though she fails to see the peril in front of her nose until it slams into her protuberance from a killer hiding in plain sight.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, November 12, 2011

True Shot-Joyce Lamb

True Shot

Joyce Lamb

Berkley, Dec 6 2011, $7.99

ISBN: 9780425244920

Special FBI operative Samantha Trudeau does not need her psychic abilities to warn her she is in deep trouble with law enforcement when her BFF Zoe is killed but before dying informs her who they truly were working for. Knowing the cell she worked for and other law enforcement seeks her, she is shot at to silence her; Sam takes a bullet in the shoulder, but finds an unoccupied cabin to hide.

The cabin belongs to mundane civilian hunk Mac Hunter, a reporter. Although she detests bringing him into her tsuris she needs help although he rejects her insistence she can read minds and that men want her dead until the arrival of a team with weapons. They escape but have no place safe to hide. He suggests she stay with her sisters in Lake Avalon, Florida (see True Colors for Alex’s story and True Vision for Charlie’s thriller). However, Sam knows they and their mates cannot protect her from her former boss.

This is a strong finish to the tense Trudeau trilogy. Filled with action and danger, the fun is in the relationship as Sam is superwoman while Mac is super stubborn; their relationship. Readers will enjoy the solo super Sam and the family man Mac as they fall in love while eluding a super insane villain.

Harriet Klausner

A Play of Heresy-Margaret Frazer

A Play of Heresy

Margaret Frazer

Berkley, Dec 6 2011, $15.00

ISBN: 9780425243473

In 1438, Joliffe completed his espionage mission for Cardinal Bishop Beaufort of Winchester. He travels from Warwickshire to Coventry to join his troupe of six led by Basset who are in Coventry to perform at Festival of Corpus Christi.

Just outside of Coventry, Joliffe meets his mentor, undercover agent Sebastian. The latter tells Joliffe that he searches for missing mercer merchant Master Robyn Kydwa of Coventry who was to meet him in Bristol with information on the evil Lollards, but failed to show up. Sebastian asks Joliffe to help him locate Kydwa. Since Basset has no role for him, Joliffe performs with former troupe member Sendell presenting the Harrowing of Hell; while in his quest to find the vanished mercer he uncovers a dangerous heretic cult who plans to destroy the Church.

The latest Joliffe medieval “Play” (see A Play of Piety and A Play of Treachery) is a great fifteenth century thriller in which the suspense comes late. The story line brings vividly to life Coventry during a religious festive period though the cast of players. Joliffe holds the entertaining story line together as he escorts readers on a tour of medieval England while performing in a play and unraveling an ugly conspiracy.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, November 11, 2011

A Spirited Gift-Joyce and Jim Lavene

A Spirited Gift

Joyce and Jim Lavene

Berkley, Dec 6 2011, $7.99

ISBN: 9780425245026

Duck, North Carolina Mayor Dae O’Donnell hosts the Mayors' Conference Weekend at the Blue Whale Inn, owned by her boyfriend Kevin Brickman. When feeder bands from Hurricane Kelly slam into the Outer Banks Island, everyone gathers in the ballroom. After the weather subsides, Dae does a head count and notices Manteo Mayor Sandi Foxx missing.

A search fails to find Sandi, but Dae, heading to the bathroom, locates the missing mayor’s diamond ruby ring, which she picks up and sees a nasty vision of a man with a gun. She has Sandi’s younger assistant Matthew Wright restrained until Sheriff Michaels arrives to lead the inquiry. Dae soon locates Sandi’s corpse. She, former FBI agent Kevin and Michaels realize someone who attended the conference murdered the mayor, but who had the motive remains unclear.

The latest Dae in a life of a Duck Missing Pieces tale (see A Touch of Gold and A Timely Vision) is an engaging mystery in which the homicide comes a bit later in the story line than usual as the early focus is on the gala with the storm causing the suspense. Dae makes the paranormal thriller work with her psychometric ability to find clues. Mindful of the TV show Bedlam though the Team Lavene series was started earlier, fans know this writing duet can always be banked on for a strong thriller.

Harriet Klausner

A Cookie Before Dying-Virginia Lowell

A Cookie Before Dying

Virginia Lowell

Berkley, Dec 6 2011, $7.99

ISBN: 9780425245019

In the Baltimore suburb Chatterley Heights, co-owners of the Gingerbread House and BFFs since childhood, Olivia Greyson and Maddie Briggs worked late into the night on themed cookie cutter events for their business. The next morning, Olivia looks out her window to see a sea of white on her lawn in spite of the high eighties temperature. Someone dumped crunched paper on the lawn of the Gingerbread House. The note says “Sugar Kills” and invites people to attend The Vegetable Plate every Tuesday to battle against “demon sugar.”

Livie goes to confront Charlene Critch, owner of The Vegetable Plate, only to see someone racing out of the establishment. She enters the open door, sees the trashed establishment, and calls Sheriff Del Jenkins who orders her to stay in her shop. With Maddie she finds Charlene who accuses Olivia of causing trouble and trashing her store while denying papering her enemy’s lawn. Not long afterward, Livie and her Yorkie Spunky hear a dog howling louder than the noise of the storm hitting the town. When they look they see the Vegetable Plate intruder dead on their lawn.

The latest Cookie Cutter shop Mystery (see Cookie Dough or Die) is an entertaining investigative thriller. The early story line is lighthearted fun as Olivia argues with stereotypical fanatic Charlene that sugar does not kill; people kill. The tale turns deadly leading to Livie and Maddie, the amateur sleuths, making inquiries as does the sheriff. Fans of cozies will enjoy this Maryland small-town whodunit.

Harriet Klausner

The Cocoa Conspiracy-Andrea Penrose

The Cocoa Conspiracy

Andrea Penrose

Obsidian, Dec 6 2011, $7.99

ISBN: 9780451235312

Lady Arianna Hadley stops at Messrs. Harvey & Watkins Rare Book Emporium to buy an expensive book on chocolate for her husband Charles’ birthday present. However, a man accosts her in the bookstore insisting the book is his. Instead of swooning from the threats, Lady Saybrook kicks his butt. He flees and she purchases the book.

However before she gives Saybrook his birthday gift, she finds classified documents concealed inside the seam. Arianna fears her uncle-in-law has managed to step into it again. Meanwhile someone shoots at Saybrook wounding the former military Intel officer Charles when he is hunting. The Saybrook pair has quite a mystery to unravel as each incident is dangerous and personal.

The latest Lady Arianna Regency Mystery (see Sweet Revenge) is a terrific tale due to the unique kick butt heroine who is not afraid to brawl against tough rogues. Although starting each chapter with an Arianna cocoa recipe seems out of place with the non stop action (better to have fewer included in domestic scenes), the story line is fast-paced from the moment Arianna beats up a foreign thief in the book “shop” and never slows down as she works the case of the Cocoa Conspiracy.

Harriet Klausner

Thorns on Roses-Tandy Rawls

Thorns on Roses

Tandy Rawls

L & L Dreamspell, Jul 27 2011, $14.95

ISBN: 9781603183758

In Broward County, Florida Police Detective Richards shows the corpse of an unidentified teenager to former Special Forces and ex Dallas cop Tom Jeffries, as the victim was carrying his private investigator business card. He insists he does not know her, but after leaving the morgue he calls his best friend Charlie Rogers informing him he just found his stepdaughter, Mary Lou Smithson.

The Thorns on Roses gang raped the seventeen years old girl before dumping her dead in an abandoned vehicle. Jeffries vows to avenge her death. Using the Rose Tattoo that he saw on May Lou’s corpse as the identification key, Jeffries hunts down the gangbangers one at a time; while Richards follows the bloody trail in which he believes the wise ass P.I. is an avenging angel of death. The law firm of Bernstein, Goldsmith, Espinosa and Bernstein that employs Jeffries fears his vendetta could harm the company so they assign associate Abbey Archer to keep him out of trouble. Ergo he makes one critical error when his attraction to Abbey provides his enemies with his Achilles Heel.

This is an exciting South Florida noir starring a kick butt hero on a mission in which he “unites” the gang and the cops in an effort to end his serial killing spree. The romance may appear at first as standard shtick, but Randy Rawls uses several great spins (especially a late one) to make the relationship relevant to the action-packed story line. With a nod to a composite of Charles Bronson characters from Death Wish and Mr. Majestyk, etc. fans will root for Jeffries as he kicks butt in this superb over the top of Coconut Grove thriller.

Harriet Klausner

It Takes A Witch-Heather Blake

It Takes A Witch

Heather Blake

Obsidian, Jan 3 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780451235527

Enchanted Village in Salem, Massachusetts is a tourist attraction in which practitioners of the Craft (witches) can practice their skills without mortals knowing it. If a witch tells a mortal what she is, she loses her Crafty power.

The latest residents in the villahe are the Merriweather sisters (Darcy and Harper) of Ohio, who never knew they possessed such power until their Aunt Velma told them three weeks ago. They came to Salem to learn how to use the craft. Darcy settles in her new home’ and starts to adjust to the paradigm switch and finally begins moving past the betrayal of her ex husband. However, all is not well in the bucolic village because a pickpocket is on the loose; word of mouth will destroy the tourist trade if this felon is not stopped soonest. Matters turn ugly when Darcy discovers the body of wannabe witch Alexandra Shipley who believed she was a Crafter. Refusing to leave it to the incompetent village police after meeting with these bumblers, Darcy investigates the homicide because Aunt Velma’s beau has been arrested; everyone except the cops and the killer knows she is innocent. In the process she learns more about her powers and the limitations of the village rules especially when she breaks one.

Although all the typical elements of an amateur sleuth urban fantasy (including romance) is in this fine tale, readers will believe It Takes a Witch is a brisk paranormal mystery. The Enchanted Village lives up to its name as a sort bewitching tourist attraction (think Disneyland). Darcy adjusts too easily to her new world order of granting wishes, but fans will enjoy her investigation as Heather Blake casts a spell on her audience.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Threadbare-Monica Ferris


Monica Ferris

Berkley, Dec 6 2011, $24.95

ISBN: 9780425243589

Two teens find the body of an apparently homeless elderly woman near a movie theater in Excelsior, Minnesota. The female is identified as fifty-three years old Carolyn Marie Carlson who had a long rap sheet. The assumption is she froze to death while intoxicated; but a week later the autopsy proved she had no alcohol in her blood. Thus Sergeant Malloy revises his assumption as he now believes Carolyn was murdered and suspects the family.

Carolyn’s cousin Margaret Smith, a frequent patron of Crewel World knitting shop, begs owner Betsy Devonshire to investigate the death of Carrie. Meanwhile North Dakota investigator Irvin Morcambe visits Emily Hame in Excelsior to ask if she knows where homeless Janet Turnquist is as she has inherited a fortune; Emily says no though she worries about her troubled Aunt Janet. A teen finds Janet’s corpse and on her blouse is embroidered her last will and testament in which her kind loving niece Emily inherits her estate if it proves legal. Wanting to know who killed her Aunt Janet, Emily asks Betsy to investigate. Betsy knows there is a link between the two homicides besides both are homeless females, but struggles to knit cohesively the clues.

The latest Crew World needlecraft mystery (see Buttons and Bones) is an engaging whodunit as Malloy and Devonshire find the evidence does not come together in either murder case or together with one murderer. The entertaining story line is fun to follow as Betsy works two seemingly related homicides, but how they tie together never seems to surface as series fans will appreciate what the “tie” is once Monica Ferris reveals it to the audience.

Harriet Klausner

Foul Play At Four-Ann Purser

Foul Play At Four

Ann e

Berkley, Dec 6 2011, $24.95

ISBN: 9780425243596

Recent serial robberies have shaken the villagers of Long Farnden, England. Grocery store owner Josie March is the latest robbery victim as someone took one hundred pounds from her establishment. Josie’s fiancé Police Sergeant Matthew Vickers and her mom New Brooms cleaning service owner Lois are as irate as the victim is as a hundred pounds could bankrupt Josie.

However, mother and daughter becomes angrier when family patriarch Derek the electrician is hammered to death during a theft at the home of magistrate Mrs. Tollervey-Jones. Lois-and Detective Chief Inspector Hunter Cowgill investigate the robberies that are turning increasingly violent.

The latest Lois Meade amateur sleuth whodunit (see Threats at Three) is an intriguing English village investigation with a fresh twist in which the readers ironically know the identity of the thieves, brothers Gerald and Clive Mowlem, long before the cleaner or the cops do. Thus in spite of being fast-paced, the entertaining story line lacks the taut suspense of previous entries in the long running series. Still fans will enjoy Lois’ latest case as the global economic meltdown hammers Long Farnden, Tresham and the other nearby villages.

Harriet Klausner

Endangered-Pamela Beason


Pamela Beason

Berkley, Dec 6 2011, $7.99

ISBN: 9780425244982

In Utah, wildlife biologist Sam Westin is at the park for the Save the Wilderness Fund. This park is where she arranged for the release of cougars into the wild. Sam finds a wandering toddler who she returns to his father at a camp site. Not long afterward two years old Zachary Fischer is reported missing again.

The media including her friend Adam Steele goes into frenzy mode blaming cougars though there is no clues that the animals are involved with the vanished toddler. Sam blames herself as she thought she sent the boy to his dad, but believes otherwise now. She and FBI Agent Chase Perez go into the backcountry searching for the infant to save his life and prove her cats are innocent before they become the endangered targets of vigilante injustice as hunters arrive in mass.

The first Summer Westin Mystery is a terrific wildlife investigation in which the biologist and the Fed know time is running out on the toddler and perhaps the cougars. Their inquiry is filled with stunning twists while readers will believe they are trekking the wild high country alongside the lead duo. With a nod to Anna Pigeon, readers with enjoy going outdoors with Sam as their guide.

Harriet Klausner

Crops and Robbers-Paige Shelton

Crops and Robbers

Paige Shelton

Berkley, Dec 6 2011, $7.99

ISBN: 9780425244999

In Monson, South Carolina Bailey's Farmer's Market manager Allison orders everyone to be on their best behavior when the Central South Carolina Restaurant Association visits them. Allison’s fraternal twin Becca, who has a stall where she sells her jams and preserves, is excited even if she thinks her sibling is acting loco with her demands to clean everything in sight and many things not; Becca muses sweeping the dirt floor will be the final commandment.

Central South Carolina Restaurant Association President Joan Ashworth and her son Nobel make the rounds tasting and praising everyone until she tries Becca's strawberry preserves. In front of the vendor’s parents, who just came home, Joan instead of orgasmic joy as her customers show 1000 percent of the time on their face, the woman’s visage turns sour. Feeling rejected, Becca and her dog Hobbit go home only to find her mother’s hands bloodied and Joan dead on her kitchen floor. After fainting, Becca knows she must investigate to prove her mom’s innocence as even her friend on the force Sam probably will not look elsewhere.

The latest A Farmers’ Market Mystery (see Farm Fresh Murder and Fruit of All Evil) is an enjoyable Magnolia State amateur sleuth as the heroine feels obligated to investigate the murder that occurred in her house in which her mom is the only suspect. The story line is fast-paced and filled with twists while recipes from the farmer’s market sellers may be a sub-genre staple of culinary mysteries but fans will relish their inclusion.

Harriet Klausner

The Last Word-Ellery Adams

The Last Word

Ellery Adams

Berkley, Dec 6 2011, $7.99

ISBN: 9780425245002

In Oyster Bay, North Carolina, Olivia Limoges and the rest of the Bayside Book Writers are ecstatic that bestselling novelist Nick Plumley has come to town to work on his next book. That euphoria goes stratospheric when the Booker Prize winning author comes to the Bayside Book Writer’s meeting hosted by Harris Williams in his recently purchased “aged’ bungalow.

Olivia and her canine Captain Havilland visit the newcomer at his rental, but instead of a gracious welcome, she finds him dead; apparently strangled. She calls Chief Rawlings, but believes Plumley’s library search into the town’s past led to his murder so Olivia conducts her own investigation.

The latest Books by the Bay Mystery is a delightful Tarheel amateur sleuth mystery starring a strong independent person. The murder occurs about a third of the way into the entertaining storyline, as motives and suspects are established before the homicide happens. Although Olivia has tripped over corpses twice before (see A Killer Plot and A Deadly Cliché) readers will enjoy this regional whodunit as Olivia or the killer will get in The last Word.

Harriet Klausner

Double Booked For Death-Ali Brandon

Double Booked For Death

Ali Brandon

Berkley, Dec 6 2011, $7.99

ISBN: 9780425244975

In Brooklyn with the death of her Aunt Dee, Darla Pettistone inherits Pettistone’s Fine Books and Hamlet the cat. Darla knows she has a lot to prove to herself, to the neighborhood (and beyond) and mostly to that darn cat whose air of superiority bothers her now owner almost as much as the feline appears to have a higher IQ than she has.

She feels good about her first major event since taking over Pettistone’s. Best-selling YA author Valerie Baylor will stop at Pettistone on her tour promoting her third bestselling Haunted High paranormal series. Darla anticipates five hundred or more teen girls attending the signing. She knows the gala has some problems from a person accusing the author of plagiarism and from a fundamentalist church thinking of picketing the bookstore. Those are minor to when Baylor arrives as she dies just outside the shop in what the police declare is a tragic accident. Hamlet the wise thinks otherwise and finds clues that propel Darla and her tenant former cop Jacqueline “Jake” Martelli, to investigate a homicide.

The first A Black Cat Bookshop Mystery is an entertaining whodunit starring a brilliant feline (who does not speak in human tongues), a beleaguered new store owner and an ex cop. The story line is fast-paced as Hamlet uncovers the clues that the two females working the case follow up on. Having an ex cop somewhat mitigates the amateur sleuth paradoxical flaw as fans will enjoy Double Booked For Death.

Harriet Klausner

Shear Murder-Nancy J. Cohen

Shear Murder

Nancy J. Cohen

Five Star, Feb 8 2011, $25.95

ISBN: 9781432825546

South Florida beautician Marla Shore prays the next frantic four weeks does not prove to be a “Bad Hair” month. Besides getting married at the end of the stretch to detective Dalton Vail while keeping her mom and her future mother-in-law from a mutual beat-down, Marla renovates her beauty parlor into a spa, works along with her fiancé on their new home, and participates as a bridesmaid in her friend Jill’s wedding.

Jill’s wedding is perfect until Marla finds the bride’s sister Torrie with a knife in her chest under the cake table. The police suspect Jill as she had the motive since the sisters argued over what to do with property they both owned; the means and opportunity as well. Deciding she has a chance to delay her personal issues for a while, Marla investigates which guest murdered the Matron of Honor who had collected damning information on an assortment of people while her fiancé the homicide detective pleads with her to stay out of the case.

It has been couple of years since the last “A Bad Hair Day Mystery” (see Killer Knots, Dead Roots and Perish by Pedicure), but Marla remains a wonderful amateur sleuth as she is a likable heroine who uses the homicide investigation to put off her personal workload. Although she has found corpses before (see Died Blonde), this is an engaging fast-paced romantic cozy in which readers will enjoy the antics of Marla as her life is overwhelming at the moment, but still adds one more murderous item to the mix.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

You Might As Well Die-J.J. Murphy

You Might As Well Die

J.J. Murphy

Obsidian, Dec 6 2011, $7.99

ISBN: 9780451235329

In Manhattan Vanity Fair columnist Dorothy Parker is a member of the Algonquin Hotel Round Table where the Vicious Circle hold discussions. Minor league illustrator Ernie MacGuffin asks Dorothy about suicide as the witty columnist has tried the inane exit strategy once before. He gives her his suicide note but she refuses to accept it.

Prohibition remains in full swing, but Dorthy buys drinks at Tony Soma’s speakeasy. Soma’s wife demands Parker and her best friend Robert Benchley pay their alcohol tab. When she goes to get some money, Dorothy finds the suicide note in her bag. Ernie writes he will leap from the Brooklyn Bridge. Parker and Benchley grab a cab. At the Brooklyn Bridg they see a painting and a neatly placed pair of shoes. NYPD Detective O’Rannigan investigates the apparent suicide though no body has been found. Harold Ross offers them a $500 fee to write an article on MacGuffin for his new magazine the New Yorker. As they investigate McGuffin’s life, they meet his very tall wife Midge, his mistress turned clairvoyant Vida Sweet, and his agent Abraham Snath as the deceased’s art work jumps exponentially in value while Dorothy thinks something is not quite right.

'The latest Algonquin Round Table Mystery (see Murder Your Darlings) is a charming 1920s period piece. Obviously Parker and Benchley are the prime players; the story line brings to life the members of the Round Table although my favorite character for personal reasons is outsider Midge. With a strong sense of time and place, fans will enjoy this engaging Americana as the superb twisting investigation enhances a feeling of being a part of the Round Table.

Harriet Klausner

The Scottish Prisoner-Diana Gabaldon

The Scottish Prisoner

Diana Gabaldon

Delacorte, Nov 29 2011, $25.00

ISBN: 9780385337519

In 1760, former Rising soldier Jamie Fraser knows how fortunate he is to be only a paroled prisoner of war; instead of rendition to a West Indies sugar cane field, he lives in the Lake District near his son who he cannot acknowledge as his but also misses his wife Claire who he prays is safe. Tired of war, Jamie wants to be left alone in peace.

However, his quiet reclusive lifestyle ends when Irish Lord Tobias Quinn, a brother in arms from the failed Jacobite Rising rebellion arrives in the Lake District. Tobias wants Jamie to support a new rebellion as he claims he possesses a relic that will stir the Irish to overthrow the English rulers.

Lord John Grey has found what allegedly are documents claiming a British officer of treason. He needs the packet translated from Erse, an ancient Highland dialect, so Lord John comes to the Lake District to ask Jamie to do it. Although neither trusts the other as they were on opposite sides during the recent rebellion and Jamie was a prisoner while Lord John was a warden of the prison he was in, the pair reluctantly unite on a treacherous trek to Ireland to prevent more blood from flowing.

The latest Lord John historical thriller story is a great entry in which Diana Gabaldon brings Jamie Fraser from her Outlander saga into the mix as both series move forward. The story line is fast-paced once the players converge in the Lake District and never slows down while the unlikely allies rush to Ireland to prevent a tragedy. Ms. Gabaldon’s fans will relish this Georgian era mystery as Lord John and Jamie Fraser shine on the historical stage in this terrific tale.

Harriet Klausner

Ghoul Interrupted-Victoria Laurie

Ghoul Interrupted

Victoria Laurie

Obsidian, Jan 3 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780451235503

Ghoul Getters TV reality show investigator M.J. Holliday, her lover Heath Whitefeather whose late grandfather Sam is her spirit guide, and her BFF Gilley Gillespie are on ghost busting tour. The trio is on their way to Dunkirk when the spirit of Holliday’s mom warns her that she will soon be on the most dangerous hunt of her perilous career. Sam informs her that a horrific evil attacks the Pueblo and if not stopped will kill all Whitefeather kin just like what happened to Heath’s late uncle.

Heath receives the call his uncle is dead. He informs M.J. he must go to the Zanto Pueblo in New Mexico. M.J. and Gilley accompany him. They learn that a demon, freed from a long incarceration, is causing deadly havoc. No one believes the threesome’s assertion even after a humongous claw mark is found embedded in a tree. The dragon-shaped demon continues its killing spree while the trio risks their lives to end the murders even though most of the tribe including the elders thinks they are loco.

The latest Ghost Hunter mystery (see What’s A Ghoul to Do?) is a fantastic paranormal serial killer thriller as the group battle against a demon of Native American mythos. Heath fears for his kin (and himself) while Gilley brings eccentricity, humor and loyalty as he supports her Georgia childhood friend in dark deadly scenarios; this time with no local help. However, once again M.J. is the star who rushes in where the brave dare not enter as she takes the hill first and thinks afterward how crazy her actions were. Victoria Laurie is one of the best at creating exciting supernatural mysteries.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Collateral Damage-H. Terrell Griffin

Collateral Damage

H. Terrell Griffin

Oceanview, Dec 5 2011, $25.95

ISBN 9781608090266

On Longboat Key, Florida, newlywed Jim Desmond goes out for his morning jog the day after he married. His new bride Meredith of Savannah waits for him to return to their room at the Hilton, but a sniper kills the Atlanta resident.

Jim’s grieving dad Charles “Doc” Desmond asks his Vietnam War U.S. Marine buddy former lawyer turned local beach bum Matt Royal to investigate. Matt agrees to help his comrade in arms who desperately needs answers to receive some closure. Meanwhile Longboat Key’s police detective J.D. Duncan investigates the Desmond homicide as well as the mass murder of three people on the Dulcimer dinner cruise ship. When clues lead to Laos drug trafficking, Matt asks his pals Logan Hamilton and Jock Algren to help him.

The latest Royal investigative thriller (see Wyatt's Revenge and Bitter Legacy) is a suburb Florida Keys whodunit. The story line hooks the audience with the opening line and never lets go until the final confrontation as readers will relish Royal’s investigation ably backed by recurring characters Logan and Jock that nicely converges with the official one conducted by J.D.

Harriet Klausner

Miss Dimple Rallies to the Cause-Mignon F. Ballard

Miss Dimple Rallies to the Cause

Mignon F. Ballard

Minotaur, Nov 22 2011, $25.99

ISBN: 9780312614751

In 1943, Elderberry, Georgia residents looks forward to the war bon rally. The gala includes several events including an all-male wedding stage performance. Librarian Virginia Balliew heads the committee putting on the festivities. She receives superb assistance and encouragement from her friend first-grade teacher Miss Dimple Kilpatrick and annoying interference from bus driver Buddy Oglesby whose Aunt Emmaline Brumlow dumped her nephew on Virginia.

Children find the corpse of Cynthia Murphy putting a pallor on the bond drive. Most locals assume one of her trysts killed her. Miss Dimple has her plate full worrying about her friend Phoebe Chadwick, who is very upset but refuses to reveal what is bothering her. Finally at the rally, someone shoots volunteer Jesse Dean Greeson and half the money raised is stolen. Buddy, responsible for the money, is the suspect in the theft, the homicide and the backstage shooting. Miss Dimple investigates.

The latest Miss Dimple WWII regional amateur sleuth (see Miss Dimple Disappears) is a great Southern cozy. The townsfolk are a strong group who bring out life in the small-town Georgian home-front. Many locals assist Miss Dimple on her inquiry though she wishes most would stay out of the way as they inadvertently obfuscate the case. Mignon F. Ballard provides a wonderful mystery inside a terrific period piece.

Harriet Klausner

Dead Last-James W. Hall

Dead Last

James W. Hall

Minotaur, Nov 22 2011, $25.99

ISBN: 9780312607326

Sawyer Moss, son of Miami Herald obit reporter April, uses his mom’s obituaries as a key source in writing scripts for the cable series “Miami Ops”; a show in which his twin stars. The show’s theme centers on a serial killer using obituaries as a guide to selecting his next kill.

However, a fan duplicates the TV show using April’s obits to pick and kill. Starkville, Oklahoma teenage sheriff Buddha Hilton travels to Key Largo to ask for reclusive grieving widower Daniel Thorn’s help. Thorn’s late wife Rusty’s Aunt Michaela Stabler (who also was Buddha’s adoptive mother) was stabbed to death in Starkville; Rusty’s Miami Herald obituary next to her. Thorn agrees to assist the Sooner law enforcement official in finding out who enforces real life to imitate art.

The latest Thorn thriller (see Silencer) is a superb whodunit as the protagonist wonders if someone from the show is willing to do anything for publicity. The story line is fast-paced while containing plausible exciting twists. Thorn is at his best as he prefers to grieve his loss alone, but out of homage to his late wife works the case. James W. Hall always provides a great mystery.

Harriet Klausner

The Feng Shui Detective Goes West- Nury Vittachi

The Feng Shui Detective Goes West

Nury Vittachi

Felony & Mayhem, Nov 16 201, $14.95

ISBN 9781934609798

Singapore feng shui specialist C.F. Wong brokers a business deal involving fruit-shaped highlighters between a member of the Chinese mafia and a supplier. However, instead of the colors of fruits, the pens are filled with black ink. As the middleman Wong owes a fortune to the mafia.

Wong obtains two lucrative commissions. He is to apply his expertise to insure a flying conference center aircraft is balanced spiritually and to do likewise to the occupants of Buckingham Palace though he feels his inner harmony is out of whack as he hates the west he has seen in the movies. Before he can perform his magic, someone murders an oil company executive leaving his requests in jeopardy.

This feng shui amateur sleuth tale contains a madcap story line that entertains readers with an east meets west clashing of cultures. The jocular story line is fun to follow as the whodunit takes a spin to the delight of readers and chagrin of the protagonist. Fans will enjoy Wong’s second caper (see The Feng Shui Detective) as he goes west to his consternation in order to remit his angry enforcer eastern customer.

Harriet Klausner

Red Mist-Patricia Cornwell

Red Mist

Patricia Cornwell

Putnam Dec 6 2011, $27.95

ISBN: 9780399158025

Dr. Kay Scarpetta, head of the joint DOD-Massachusetts Cambridge Forensics Center, travels to the Georgia Prison for Women (GPFW) in Savannah to meet with inmate Kathleen Lawler to discuss the murder of her former deputy chief, Jack Fielding. Several months ago, Dawn Kinkaid killed her biological dad Jack who had her with Kathleen when the latter was a social worker and he a twelve years old boy. Scarpetta wants to understand what forces were at work that made Jack do what she did.

Kay gets a bad feeling from the attitude of the warden and guards, but is unsure what makes her uneasy. The star attraction at GPFW is Lola Daggett who resides in death row awaiting her Halloween execution. She was convicted of killing a prominent local doctor and his family. While taking with Kathleen, a note is transferred from her to Kay. The forensics expert calls the number in the note and former ADA Jamie Berger answers. She asks her to come to her temporary home. Jamie informs Kay she has proof that Lola is innocent but needs Kay’s expertise to support her when she files an order to stop the execution. Unwittingly due to her dedication, Kay is drawn into a series of events that connect the Lawler family massacre, inexplicable deaths at GPFW and a possible new way to destroy the military.

As always Patricia Cornwell writes an exhilarating thriller that will elate her fans who will immerse themselves deeply into the exciting story line. Readers will feel they are at the prison where several spins later much of the answers reside. Lucy and Pete play pivotal roles as Scarpetta goes from seeking the why Jack died to what looks like a conspiracy of such magnitude the military could be affected. Red Mist is Cornwell at her very best.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, November 7, 2011

KBL Kill Bin Laden-John Weisman

KBL Kill Bin Laden

John Weisman

Morrow, Nov 15 2011, $26.99

ISBN: 9780062119513

In December 2010, American expatriate Charlie Becker is in Abbottabad, Pakistan begging for spare change. The veteran suffered crippling injuries in the Afghanistan campaign so most Pakistani does not give him a second look at they go about their business. However, they are wrong about Charlie. Based on vague degrees of connection, he is in Abbottabad undercover seeking any leads that Osama bin Laden resides in this town inside of a high walled villa. If he confirms the whereabouts, a specially trained SEAL top secret team will enter the villa to complete the mission of turning Bin Laden into a hamburger.

This is a fictionalized account of what may have happened that led to the assassination of Bin Laden. Fast-paced, the story line hooks readers who will believe that John Weisman provides a plausible account of what could have happened. Especially fascinating is the political fight in DC before, during and after the kill including the at sea burial debate and the claims of who takes credit for the successful KBL operation. With a nod to Liberty Valance (print the legend not the truth), Mr. Weisman writes a stirring thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Harold Robbins’ The Curse-Junius Podrug

Harold Robbins’ The Curse

Junius Podrug

Forge, Nov 8 2011, $25.99

ISBN: 9780765327147

The Sphinx sends Fatima Sari to kill former New York's Piedmont Museum curator Madison Dupree, but the amateur assassin does not want to murder the art expert. Instead, as Madison watches in horror, Fatima jumps under an oncoming train.

Meanwhile broke Madison accepts an authentication assignment in Cairo though she ponders why Dr. Mounir Kassem chose her with her being internationally disgraced. Her assignment is to determine whether this is the genuine Heart of Egypt scarab stolen by Sir Jacob Radcliff from King Tut's tomb in 1922 before the self proclaimed owners pay the exorbitant “fee”.

The latest Dupree antiquities thriller (see The Shroud) is an exciting over the top of the Great Pyramid when the focus is on the artifact. On the other hand when the male populace bed Dupree, she seems pathetic and the plot loses momentum. Putting aside the lack of the Arab Spring and no sense of place beyond inane obvious references, only Dupree fans will enjoy her African adventure as she jumps from one man to another in between the scarab related escapades.

Harriet Klausner