Sunday, January 27, 2013

All Natural Murder-Staci McLaughlin

All Natural Murder

Staci McLaughlin

Kensington, Feb 5 2013, $$7.99

ISBN: 9780758275011

Ex-Silicon Valley copywriting hot shot, Dana Lewis enjoys life as a marketing expert and all around laborer cleaning cabins and duckling herding at the O’Connell Organic Farm and Spa; Dana also loves quality time with her boyfriend Jason who is reporter for the Blossom Valley Herald. The only two negatives on her serenity are her drama queen sister Ashlee and the creative food Zennia gets from “Torture Cuisines R Us” that she serves to crash dummies like Dana.

When someone murders Monster Truck driver Bobby Joe Jones, the cops question his girlfriend Ashlee; as her Facebook entry and witnesses at the Fairgrounds heard her say she will kill him for cheating on her; her responses increase the belief she killed the victim. Though she prefers to stay out of a homicide investigation, Dana knows how it feels being the prime suspect (see Going Organic Can Kill You). Additionally, her mom and sister badger her so over personal objections, Dana investigates the murder seeking a motive that has nothing to do with Ashlee’s out of control superego.

This Blossom Valley mystery is an entertaining whodunit as the heroine finds her inquiry places her in danger while Ashlee flits and flirts her way through life. Although a critical cleaning coincidence that feels unlikely occurs, the amateur sleuth audience will enjoy Dana’s quirky friends and family encouraging her to step into the pig sty and challenge Monster Trucks.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, January 25, 2013

Shadowkiller-Wendy Corsi Staub


Wendy Corsi Staub

Harper, Jan 29 2013, $7.99

ISBN: 9780062070326

In Glenhaven Park, New York Allison and Mack MacKenna feel as if the nightmares are over. She finally has moved passed her encounter a decade ago with the Nightwatcher and him with being a potential serial killer as a Sleepwalker. Instead they enjoy suburban Westchester County while raising their children. In fact she muses her biggest issue is to finish the novel before her book club meeting in three hours.

However, neither is aware of a murder on Saint Antony Island in the Caribbean that will haunt them as Allison’s dark childhood past comes home to roost. A raging someone brutally ripped the face off a Jane Doe victim with the only clue a faded photo. This vicious killer deploys plans to remind Allison of their shared past; which returns NYPD Detective Rocky Manzillo into the Mackenna family.

The latest MacKenna-Manzillo tale (see Sleepwalker and Nightwatcher) is a taut twisting thriller that grips the audience from the opening suspense in the Caribbean until the final stunning confrontation. Action-packed, readers will relish this tense climax to an exciting trilogy although the finish is over the top of Bailey Mountain.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Heatseeker-Lucy Monroe


Lucy Monroe

Kensington Brava, Jan 29 2013, $14.00

ISBN: 9780758242037

Goddard Project (see Deal With This) agent Rachel Gannon worked undercover in Helwan near Cairo to end the illegal operations of sadistic Egyptian Abasi Chuma. However, her informant inadvertently gave away her cover. In the Atlas Mountains of Morocco, her captors torture Rachel using three minutes of electricity at consistent intervals, but she refuses to give them information beyond screaming out the name of the US Marine she loves who failed her a decade ago.

No longer a marine, Kadin Marks leads an Atrati team of mercenaries to rescue Rachel. Complicating matters, she refuses to leave willingly unless her informant is protected as her sister’s suicide still haunts her since she blames herself for not being there for her. Still when Kadin and his unit succeed in extracting her, she tries to persuade the man she never stopped loving that the prize of destroying Chuma and his unknown partner are theirs for the taking.

This is an exciting black ops romantic thriller with two pairs of loving coupling (besides the protagonists, two male team members are an entry though one of them refuses to come out of the closet and tell his family). The engaging romances provide a deep look into the respective psyches of the lead couple and to a lesser degree the gay pair; though these relationships feel out of place while on a black ops mission. Still readers will enjoy the Lucy Monroe’s entertaining “Road to Morocco” (and Egypt).

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Seventh Victim-Mary Burton

The Seventh Victim

Mary Burton

Zebra, Jan 29 2013, $7.99

ISBN: 9781420125054

Seven years ago, the Seattle Strangler murdered six women who he placed in white dresses. The seventh victim was about die when a car honked and men shouted; seconds away from killing photographer Lara Church, the Strangler considers there is no sense in finishing the job if she cannot see his face; he leaves her alive as he vanishes.

In Austin, after being placed on three weeks administrative paid leave by his captain due to the political uproar over the Misty Gray case, Texas Ranger Sergeant James Beck returns to work to investigate the murder of a woman garbed in a white dress; the second victim in the state in a few weeks. Beck thinks of the Seattle Strangler, who never was caught. He finds out that the sole survivor Lara Church resides in Austin, which probably is the reason the serial killer apparently left the Pacific Northwest and surfaced in Texas. Beck warns Lara and pleads with her to help him end the killing spree as he insists he will keep her safe while thinking of what happened to ten year old Misty. However, Lara has been on the run since with her only companion her car as she does not want to return to her darkest moment when she was seconds from death.

The triangle lead cast turns The Seventh Victim into a great taut suspense. The serial killer is diabolical; the title character strong yet suffering from PTSD; and the dedicated Ranger risking his life to protect the photographer and catch the Strangler. With a terrific deadly twist adding tension to a gripping storyline, readers will appreciate Mary Burton’s thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, January 21, 2013

Reunion at Red Paint Bay-George Harrar

Reunion at Red Paint Bay

George Harrar

Other Press, Jan 29 2013, $14.95

ISBN 9781590515457

In Red Paint, native son Simon Howe owns and edits the Red Paint Register. As they go out to dinner leaving their son Davy alone for the first time, his wife Amy teases him about the newspaper, which carries stories from UFO sightings to terrorist landings to town hall meetings; the residents enjoy the fiction over the news.

However, Simon’s idyllic life becomes disturbed when he begins receiving postcards from someone slowly coming to Red Paint. This unknown person seems to know Simon and accuses him of wrong doing at a graduation party in which the editor was so intoxicated he barely remembers anything. Simon remains unsure who has targeted him except that the culprit apparently is a former local seeking revenge against Simon. After seeing a psychologist, using the name Paul Chambers and believing God sent him on an eye for an eye mission, the postcard writer comes to Red Paint, Maine.

The suspense grips the audience from the arrival of the ignored first postcard and never slows down as readers anticipate a final showdown between Paul and Simon at Red Paint. Part of the tautness is the contrast between the obsessively driven Paul and the serene "Friendliest Town in Maine" especially Simon’s family. The series of confrontations escalates the tension; however the key players act seemingly out of character (though one could argue under pressure changes people from their norm). Still readers will appreciate the Reunion at Red Paint Bay of Paul and Simon.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Speaking from Among the Bones-Alan Bradley

Speaking from Among the Bones

Alan Bradley

Delacorte, Jan 29 2013, $24.00

ISBN: 9780385344036

In 1951 in Bishop’s Lacey, Great Britain, church officials are excited with the opening of the tomb of Saint Tancred on the five-hundredth anniversary of his death. However, no one is as enthused with the excavation as tweener amateur sleuth Flavia De Luce the home grown chemist. She has solved murder mysteries (see I Am Half-Sick of Shadows) but not the mysteries of her older sisters or the enigma of her mother.

The Vicar and other adults fail to keep the curious Flavia away. As she sneaks closer to the crypt, Flavia stumbles over the body of the current church organist Mr. Collicutt. Complicating her inquiry is Adam Sowerby, who insists they team up on the Collicutt investigation as Flavia works alone.

The latest fabulous 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 crypt whodunit. Flavia is her usual precocious self as she relishes chemistry, dead bodies and irritating her siblings. Fans will enjoy this exciting historical village cozy as Flavia works the murder mystery, deals with a “partner” and makes progress on her mom’s mystery.

Harriet Klausner

Proof Of Guilt-Charles Todd

Proof Of Guilt

Charles Todd

Morrow, Jan 29 2013, $25.99

ISBN: 9780062015686

In 1920 London, WWI officer turned Scotland Yard police inspector Ian Rutledge still mentally suffers from his harrowing experience in the trenches. However one incident remains the prime cause of his battle fatigue; he killed insubordinate Hamish for disobeying a direct order; Hamish “resides” inside Ian’s head.

Based on a suggestion from Metropolitan Police Constable Meadows, Scotland Yard Acting Chief Superintendent sends Rutledge to look into a hit and run accident that normally would be a local matter. Rutledge goes to Chelsea where he learns no witnesses not even the milk man have come forth. The unidentified victim possesses a valuable watch. The inspector tracks the watch to Lewis French, a missing person from a wine merchant family. His sister looks at the body and says he is not Lewis. Rutledge realizes he has two probably unrelated cases: to find a killer while identifying the deceased and to locate Lewis; but guided by Hamish and hampered by the new acting chief, Rutledge’s investigation turns even more complicated when French’s partner and cousin Matthew Traynor arrives from the Madeira office only to vanish too.

Once again team Todd’s latest exciting Inspector Ian Rutledge historical police procedural (see A Lonely Death and The Confession) combines an entertaining clever mystery with a deep look at PTSD during an era when sufferers conceal their ghosts to survive in a condemning society. Making the investigation more difficult is the protagonist’s new boss who rejects any clues that lead away from one of French’s women especially the ex-fiancĂ©e. With only Hamish (though less haunting than usual) having his back, Rutledge becomes the next target.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Boogie Trapp-Kerry Copeland Smith

The Boogie Trapp

Kerry Copeland Smith

The Peppertree Press, Oct 31 2012, $29.95

ISBN: 9781614931126

In May 2008; after seeing the black cat with a red collar and a red Corvette, septuagenarian Kerry Copeland Smith thinks back to his childhood when he was called Boogie, short for Boogieman due to all the 6s in his birth. He expected the Shreveport letter that arrived from his childhood late best friend Charles Edward Trapp’s sister Jean; inside is a sealed envelope that Trapper gave to his wife Marlene who had her sister-in-law forward to Boogie; reminding him of his promise to Trapper six decades ago. Boogie knows the time has arrived for him to get off his butt and begin writing what happened to a pair of young teens in 1949 at the Black Creek coal mining town in Alabama.

The thirteen year old friends were having fun when they run afoul of a dangerous predator. Boogie and Trapper fear they will be next as someone has killed and will insure no witnesses live. Instead of kisses with his item Darlene, Boogie (and Trapper) realizes they are in trouble with no one not even the Sheriff or their parents able to help them.

The Boogie Trapp is an exciting historical adolescent suspense with sprinkles of BFF humor. The teen Deliverance storyline brings alive the bygone era of Alabama coal camp towns while juxtaposing with contemporary Florida retirement. However, the keys besides capturing the vivid essence of rural (ironically only 20 miles from Birmingham but years before the superhighway system) Alabama are the cast as Kerry Copeland Smith captures the essence of two teens in over their respective heads (run is their mantra).

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Tiger by the Tail-John Ringo and Ryan Sears

Tiger by the Tail

John Ringo and Ryan Sears

Baen, Jan 1 2013, $25.00

ISBN: 9781451638561

Ex-Navy SEAL turned Caucasus Mountains Kildar warlord Mike Harmon decides he and his Keldara followers deserve R&R after their efforts in the war against terrorism. However, instead of returning to their home in the former Soviet republic Georgia, he leads his team of Keldara and other retired SEALs like Charles Adams against pirates off Pulau Manghai Island near the Malaysian Peninsular, thousands of miles from their mountainous land.

The mission proves successful especially with the enigmatic find of an unlabeled box containing nuclear reactor computer chips. Harmon knows there is no way these pirates should possess these chips so he tortures information out of pirate Captain Yeung Tony to learn how he obtained them and who his customer(s) and destination are. With leads, Harmon, his SEALs and the Keldara follow a lethal trail leading to Myanmar.

The latest Paladin of Shadows tale (see Ghost, Kildar, Choosers of the Slain, Unto the Breach and A Deeper Blue) is an exciting entry that starts off with plenty of action, but decelerates in the middle before stepping on the gas. The banter and camaraderie between the reoccurring cast is fun to follow while newcomers like teenager Vanel Kulcyanov feel like they came out of the generic Keldara typecasting. Still fans will enjoy this Southeast Asia thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, January 4, 2013

The Last Minute-Jeff Abbott

The Last Minute

Jeff Abbott

Grand Central, Dec 18 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780446575232

Sam Capra understands his comatose former wife Lucy’s allegedly seditious actions cost him his position with the CIA "Special Projects" after she and others blew up the London office killing over twenty employees. The Agency accuses him of abetting his spouse as the lone survivor of the mass murder and his subsequent cleaning up the aftermath while seeking Lucy and their now born baby (see Adrenaline).

He joined the Round Table so that he could continue his activities, but now faces a new personal crisis when The Nine Suns kidnap his baby Daniel. This nefarious felonious group informs Sam if he wants Daniel back he must assassinate the person who possesses incriminating evidence re the criminal activities of the Nine Suns. Furthermore they warn him that if others besides their assigned individual to work with him Leonie the hacker (whose daughter Taylor was also snatched) help him they will kill both infants. His boss at the Round Table Mila understands her subordinate’s dire situation, but decides to assist him anyway as she feels he needs all the help he can garner, a third group targets her and her million dollar wanted price tag.

The latest Sam Capra thriller (see the short story Last Chance) is an action-packed tale with a fascinating moral dilemma as the hero and his new partner know they must kill an innocent individual to save their children. Fast-paced throughout with a strong lead baggage laden trio, fans will relish this Adrenaline pumper enhanced by Mila’s trafficking background.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Wrath of Angels-John Connolly

The Wrath of Angels

John Connolly

Atria/Emily Bestler Books, Jan 1 2013, $26.00

ISBN: 9781476703022

Retired Maine Forest Service Ranger Harlan Vetters knows that very soon he will join his late wife Angeline. Before he dies, he summons his son and daughter to tell them the tale of the crashed airplane he and his deceased buddy Paul Scollay found in the nearby Great Northern Woods. No one reported the plane missing and the best friends found no bodies in the wreckage or in the vicinity.

However, the plane contains a list that many people covet; names of those who made a Faustian deal with the devil. Marielle Vetters and Ernie Scollay mention the plane that the forest tried to swallow to private detective Charlie Parker who believes he is on this roster of the damned. Hired by Ernie, Parker plans to find the damnation document before others like a scarred female killer; the perpetual tweener who recalls all the details of his death; and the serial killing Kushiel Collector, etc. They and others race into the Great Northern Woods searching for this lost plane with some wanting to use the list to strike at the human quislings and others especially the named needing it destroyed; unaware that the primeval forest and the malevolence that survived the crash passionately look forward to greeting visitors.

The latest Charlie Parker paranormal private investigative thriller (see The Burning Soul) is a great convoluted tale due to the dark foreboding atmosphere that engulfs everyone who enters the woods. Fast-paced from the moment Harlan tells his story to his adult children and never slows down; hooked readers will wonder what next as John Connolly writes a taut twisting suspense.

Harriet Klausner