Friday, May 31, 2013

You Cannoli Die Once-Shelley Costa

You Cannoli Die Once

Shelley Costa

Pocket, May 28 2013

ISBN: 9781476709352

Since 1937, the successful Miracolo family restaurant in Quaker Hills forty minutes north of Philadelphia has served Italian cuisine to hungry patrons. The current head chef Eve Angelotta and the current diva her septuagenarian Nonna Maria Pia Angelotta tend to argue a lot over marriage and producing future chefs.

On Monday, Eve finds her cousin Kayla’s lover lawyer Joe Beck in her garbage looking for his missing wedding ring after three nights of late banging. Tuesday tops Monday when Eve finds a corpse with his head bashed in the kitchen on top of a classic Caruso 78. The police inform Eve and her horde of relatives that the victim is Arlen Mather, Nonna’s boyfriend. When Nonna’s alibi collapses, the police arrest her for the murder. Eve and her cousins know Nonna is a feisty pain in the butt, but not a killer so they investigate Arlen’s “Night at the Opera”.

The first Angelotta culinary cozy is an amusing Philadelphia shtick amateur sleuth. The cousins’ inquiry is fun to follow especially Eve’s humorous asides though readers need a scorecard to keep track of who’s who amongst the family horde. Still fans will enjoy dining at Miracolo.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Twilight Is Not Good For Maidens-Lou Allin

Twilight Is Not Good For Maidens

Lou Allin

Dundurn, May 25 2013, $17.99

ISBN: 9781459706019

In the middle of the night, as the Sooke Detachment will be delayed to get to a crime scene, RCMP Detachment Corporal Holly Martin goes to Vancouver Island’s French Beach where someone assaulted a young woman. Her job is to make sure no one is hurt and temporarily secure the location. Due to this being the off season and at night, Holly takes her mutt with her. Not long afterward in another isolated site a female is murdered and once again Holly heads there first.

Sooke takes over both cases. Meanwhile a female driver accuses Constable Chipper Singh, a Sikh, of sexual assault during a traffic stop; he is placed on administrative leave while an inquiry occurs. A third victim is raped; frightening and angering civilians as the cops fail to find the predator while Holly continues to seek clues.

The latest Holly Martin police procedural (see And On The Surface Die and She Felt No Pain) is a strong investigative thriller as a psychopath terrorizes Vancouver Island. The manhunt is fast-paced while the Singh subplot enhances the policing. With deftly interwoven references to literary figures (a personal favorite of mine) and insight into the protagonist’s family, fans will enjoy this taut thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Another Heaven-Annu Subramanian

Another Heaven

Annu Subramanian

Apprentice House, Mar 20 2013, $18.95

ISBN: 9781934074879

In 2009 the nineteen years old female suicide bomber blows up a train in the Seloor District of South India; killing many innocent people. In Ashville, Pennsylvania, Tina Matthew chats with her faculty advisor Dr. Katz about the horrific mass murders in India; as she is soon going to stay with her paternal Aunt Rita and Uncle Theo in Chennai, India while conducting research into the motives of terrorists for her thesis.

In India, religious fanatic Usman seeks desperate victims for his schemes. He easily finds them amongst the downtrodden trafficked and gives them meals, a bed, and a purpose to die for Allah as “the end of all means is the beginning”. Meanwhile Tina rides the train to Chennai, but a detour leaves her several hundred kilometers away in Seloor where Usman learns of the American.

This is a strong timely thriller that looks deeply into the motives of suicide bombers and the lethal Svengali who psychologically manipulates these traumatized impoverish giving them “hope” for a better future in Heaven. Putting aside the early coincidence of the protagonist ending up in Seloor, aptly titled Another Heaven is an exciting tale as Annu Subramanian provides a profound yet thrilling story that answers why.

Harriet Klausner

Cold Killing-Luke Delaney

Cold Killing

Luke Delaney

Morrow, May 21, 2013. $14.99

ISBN: 9780062219466

Sean Corrigan believes the best cop training he had was being a sexual abuse victim as a child. Now the lead Detective Inspector of one of the South London Murder Investigation Teams, Sean personally understands violence, which enables him to “see” much more than his peers or subordinates.

Detective Sergeant Dave Donnelly wakes him at three in the morning telling Sean that a young man Daniel Graydon was viciously beaten and stabbed to death in his flat. Initial reaction is a domestic dispute occurred between a gay couple; but murder scene anomalies including a lack of forensic evidence and Sean’s gut say otherwise. Soon Sean looks deeply at financier James Hellier as the suspect while more homicides occur with diverse M.O.s; as the case increasingly disturbs the DI who believes the serial killer keeps him going the wrong way.

The first Corrigan British police procedural is a taut whodunit that grips the reader from the opening murder. Corrigan is a refreshing protagonist as he uses his traumatic childhood to solve cases but also fears his demons will lead him to abuse his children. Although the climax is weak especially after the super strong investigation leading fans there; readers will relish getting inside the head of the troubled DI as he looks into a Cold Killing.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Angel Baby-Richard Lange

Angel Baby

Richard Lange

Mulholland/Little Brown, May 14 2013, $26.00

ISBN: 9780316219822

In Tijuana, the first time Lutz tried to escape from her violent husband Mexican drug lord Rolando “El Principe”; her dog Pepito paid the price as he viciously stomped to death the toy poodle in front of her. Heartbroken but not totally helpless, Luz knows she must do a much better job with her next attempt. Thus she takes her time working out a plan until she executes it by killing two of his troops and taking his safe’s money.

Raging Rolando liberates American “El Apache” from a Mexican prison. He orders him to locate his wife in the States and to bring her back to him; failure or refusal are unacceptable as El Principe threatens to kill the man’s wife and child. El Apache knows this is no idle threat so he goes to California seeking Luz who in turn searches for her four years old daughter Isabel whom she left behind in the Los Angeles area.

Angel Baby is a taut thriller as a brutal killer forces a felon to go after his missing wife; fans will shudder at what the psychopath will do if he catches his spouse and what he will do if he does not in This Wicked World of his. Character driven, readers will enjoy this tense tale as increasingly it seems an innocent(s) will be maimed or killed.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Oscar Wilde and the Murders at Reading Gaol-Gyles Brandreth

Oscar Wilde and the Murders at Reading Gaol

Gyles Brandreth

Touchstone, May 14 2013, $16.00

ISBN 9781439153758

In 1895 London, Mr. Justice Wills sentences noted playwright Oscar Wilde to two years of hard labor for gross indecency with young men. While forty year old Oscar head to jail, his wife and two kids flee England and the scandal for the continent, and the production of the Importance of being Earnest continues on stage.

His time in Wandsworth Prison is physically and mentally hell; made worse by his wife’s forgiveness visit and the knowledge that he is financially broke. Just before his transfer to Reading Gaol, Warder Braddle comes to his cell in a rage, blaming him for his diseased body just before he dies. In Reading Gaol, Wilde learns of another Warder dying violently. Soon afterward others die so the Governor asks Wilde to look into the Murders at Reading Gaol.

The latest late Oscar Wilde Victorian mystery (see Oscar Wilde and the Vampire Murders, and Oscar Wilde and the Vatican Murders) may be the best in the series, but not because of the clever whodunit. Instead Gyles Brandreth provides a deep look into the two years of Wilde’s torturous incarceration and a powerful condemnation of the British gaol in the last decade of the nineteenth century. Wilde’s murder inquiry is terrific but it is the jailhouse that rocks.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Indivisible? The Story of the Second American Civil War-Paul Martin Midden

Indivisible? The Story of the Second American Civil War

Paul Martin Midden

Wittmann Blair Publishing, May 7, 2013, $18.99

ISBN: 9780985922320

In 1861 Abraham Bellamy dedicated his life to the Confederate cause. In 1865 after his side lost, a despondent Abraham proved his dedication by suicide.

In the present, Abraham’s descendent Abner Bellamy believes the federal government is a sham tramping on the rights of the states. His mission is to resurrect his ancestor’s dream of for the people being not one size fits all but 50 diverse ways and has begun to find powerful supporters who agree with his assertion the government is too powerful. Though their motives differ from Abner as avarice is their driver, wealthy George and David Blinder join the cause. Fundamentalist Daniel Keenan also enlists as he knows the atheist DC government has destroyed religious and family values. Other also throw their lot in with the Sovereign Citizens group whose mission is de-evolution or if need be revolution.

CIA agent Max Grabel and contract workers (and lovers) Marie LeBrun and Samantha Stranger uncover a viable conspiracy to overthrow the United States government and return it to pre-Civil War states domination. Evidence implies this threat unlike previous ones has money, arms, and a wide range of influence. They must identify the diverse cabal of enemies of the USA before it is too late for the Union.

This is an exciting thriller that extrapolates the rage many have against the federal government turning into action to tear down DC. Although a sequel is set up that will disappoint fans wanting a final confrontation, readers will enjoy this fast-paced tale while trying to identify who’s who.

Harriet Klausner

Seduction-M.J. Rose


M.J. Rose

Atria, May 7 2013, $24.00

ISBN: 9781451621501

Emotional fragile, mythologist Jac L’Etoile was fourteen when she met fellow teen patient Theo Gaspard at the Blixter Rath Clinic and though neither knew the other’s surname they were attracted to one another. Now a grieving widower, he explains he read her book and found an intriguing 1855 letter that discusses Druid activity. Theo invites her to join him on Isle of Jersey to find a Hugo missing journal describing his contacts with the Shadow of the Sepulcher; his conversations with Jesus and other notables having been published.

Fascinated by Hugo’s efforts to contact his deceased teenage daughter and seeing Theo for the first time in years at his home front, Jac decides to go over the warnings of her therapist. On Jersey, the intrepid but troubled pair begins to unravel the mystery of Victor Hugo and the Shadow of the Sepulcher, but will either mentally survive solving this paranormal case.

The second Jac L’Etoile mythological thriller (see The Book of Lost Fragrances) is an exhilarating tale that rotates between the mid-nineteenth century and the present. Fast-paced in both eras, danger mounts then and now as evil stalks the past and the contemporary human seekers.

Harriet Klausner

Confession-Richard Freis


Richard Freis

Sartoris Literary Group, May 7 2013, $19.95

ISBN: 9780988947412

As successful attorney George Burden reaches his double-5 birthday, he seems to have the perfect life with a wonderful caring family especially his adoring wife Julia and is a highly regarded member of upper class society in Jackson, Mississippi. However, George feels differently as he knows everything came too easily.

George does the unthinkable by leaving his safe zone to begin an affair with Becca Talbot, divorced mother of a five year old son who is also younger than his youngest child. When George falls in love with his paramour, he decides to obtain a divorce to marry his beloved. He is stunned when Becca refuses his proposal. Raging George goes berserk when he sees his Becca with a man her age and will do anything to make her his wife.

Taking place in under 100 hours, Confession is a taut psychological suspense starring a fascinating violent protagonist who tells his Confession by letter to a priest. Ironically as he confesses his sins (and readers learn his history from his perspective) George has everything except spiritual connections. Richard Freis provides a strong character-driven thriller; as George has achieved the four lower steps of Maslow’s Hierarchy, but fails at Self-Actualization and Self-Transcendence leading to his placing his (and his family) Physiological, Safety, Belongingness and Love, and Esteem at risk.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Barbed Crown-William Dietrich

The Barbed Crown

William Dietrich

Harper, May 7 2013. $26.99

ISBN: 9780062194077

Crossing to France on the Phantom, American adventurer Ethan Gage feels he owes his one-time employer Napoleon for nearly killing his wife Astiza and kidnapping their young son Harry (see The Emperor Storm). He plans to destroy Napoleon while his spouse schemes to prevent the little dictator from becoming crowned Emperor by using the Crucifixion Crown of Thorns.

When their effort fails to prevent the coronation, the married couple returns to England. Gage stops in Walmer Castle where he joins Sidney Smith, inventors Robert Fulton and William Congreve, and smuggler Tom Johnstone to keep Napoleon from invading England. This escapade soon leads Gage to the Battle of Trafalgar.

The latest Ethan Gage Napoleonic Era thriller (see The Barbary Pirates) is an exciting over the top of the Admiral Nelson Statue and column in Trafalgar Square (built decades after the famous battle). The storyline is fast-paced though the hero’s swashbuckling role seems diminished as he is less actively involved than usual with him on the sidelines for the most part during the coronation. Still fans will enjoy this engaging mix of history and action as The Barbed Crown is an enjoyable early nineteenth century tale.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, May 10, 2013

The Jericho Deception-Jeffrey Small

The Jericho Deception

Jeffrey Small

West Hills Press, Apr 30 2013, $15.95

ISBN: 9781933512440

Dr. Ethan Lightman and Professor Elijah Schiff hypothesize that the brain’s left temporal lobe creates religious phenomena. The Yale University pair builds Logos to test their theory. The

“God Machine” as they call Logos emits electrical pulses into the part of the brain that Lightman and Schiff believe control religious thought especially extremist behavior. The Neurological Advancement Foundation’s Dr. Allen Wolfe funds the project.

Not long after Wolfe provides the money, someone murders Schiff and kidnaps grad student Rachel Riley. Ethan ends up in Egypt where he learns that a Dr. Wolfe, working for the CIA, has deployed Project Jericho using a Logos “clone” to convert Muslims into Christians and end seemingly eternal religious conflict.

The Jericho Deception is a super thriller in which the real scientific research is so compelling, at times overwhelms the action scenes. The cast is solid but it is the references to real experiments that bring a sense of genuineness to this exhilarating tale. Readers will enjoy this taut religious suspense while looking up those factual entities that make Jeffrey Small’s saga superbly fresh.

Harriet Klausner

Deadly Harvest-Michael Stanley

Deadly Harvest

Michael Stanley

Bourbon Street/Harper, Apr 30 2013, $14.99

ISBN: 9780062221520

Botswana Criminal Investigation Department assigns Police Detective Samantha Khama to work a four-month old cold case; the disappearance of ten year old orphan Lesego Betse. The first CID female detective Samantha concludes a witch doctor killed the female to harvest her human remains as key ingredients in Muti medicine.

When another young girl vanishes, CID Assistant Superintendent David “Kubu” Bengu joins Samantha on her investigation as the cold case has become hot. As two cops investigate serial killings tied to Muti, an irate father of one of the victims plans a vengeance murder of a politician who may be using a witch doctor’s Muti.

The fourth Detective Kubu police procedural (see Death of the Mantis) is a great gritty investigative thriller that contrasts modern Botswana with its long standing heritage of witch doctors. Adding depth to the storyline is introducing the first female detective who expects to face sexism in spite of her deft handling of the case. Readers will relish this tense suspense as team Michael Stanley provides a super Botswana investigation.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The Roots Of Betrayal-James Forrester

The Roots Of Betrayal

James Forrester

Sourcebooks, May 7 2013, $14.99

ISBN: 9781402272691

In 1564, William “Clarenceux” Harley detests being the keeper of the “Catholic Treasure” document as possession is not conducive to a long happy life span researching coat of arms by the warmth of a fire with his family. Queen Elizabeth’s advisor Sir William Cecil entrusted him to safeguard the document so the devoted Catholic herald will do what it takes to keep it secure. Clarenceux understands the significance of what he watches as religious civil war between the Catholics supporting Mary, the Protestants deeming the Pope is the Antichrist, and the compromised Church of England straddling both camps seems probable; with what Harley diligently protects as a fire-starter in the wrong hand.

However, in spite of his efforts, someone steals the Catholic Treasure as betrayal is everywhere. As Clarenceux faces harsh incarceration, stink and torture, he remains steadfast in pursuit of what he lost with his worst adventures on the pirate ship the Davy captained by atheist Raw Carew.

The second sequel Clarenceux historical thriller (see Sacred Treasure) is a powerful action-packed Elizabethan era tale in which gore, filth and violence are as normal as mutton pie (modifying H. Rap Brown quote); combat was a bloody endeavor but so was living in the Reformation Era. Definitely not for anyone with a queasy stomach; James Forrester provides fans with an unromantic picture of mid sixteenth century England as not “the best of all possible worlds” as (Voltaire).

Harriet Klausner

Antiques Chop-Barbara Allan

Antiques Chop

Barbara Allan

Kensington, Apr 30 2013, $24.00

ISBN 9780758263629

Antique sellers and amateur sleuths, Vivian and Brandy Bourne are starring in a new reality TV show the Antique Sleuths based on this the adventures of this mother and daughter duet. They are filming in Vivian’s hometown of Serenity, Iowa at an old house where a cold case axe murder of Archibald Butterworth occurred in 1950.

However, reality becomes too vivid when Brandy’s young son Jake proves he is a Bourne when he finds the corpse of producer Bruce Spring at the Butterworth house; the murder weapon is an ax. As the show must go on so the filming continues while Vivian and Brandy stealthily sleuth.

This Trash ’n’ Treasures mystery (see Antiques Knock-Off and Antiques Disposal) is an amusing whodunit as the third generation proves to be a Bourne with a nose for trouble. The jocular storyline is fun but the inserted directional commentary rather than wry humor distract from the plot. Still fans will enjoy this all in the family madcap antiques whodunit.

Harriet Klausner

Stolen-Daniel Palmer


Daniel Palmer

Kensington, Apr 30 2013, $25.00

ISBN 9780758246660

The three avid Massachusetts mountain climbers are working the West Ridge in Tibet when an avalanche sends David Clegg and Brooks Hall over the side. The third climber John Bodine quickly realizes he cannot save both men; failing to cut one of their attached lines means all three die. He must choose between Brooks married with no kids and David married with two kids. Twenty-nine years old John knows he will hear the scream for the rest of his life.

Several years later, the love of John’s life, his wife Ruby suffers from late stage cancer, but the insurance company refuses to pay for the lifesaving expensive treatment; as it is not included in their plan. Desperate, John learns that Elliot Uretsky has the right insurance so he steals the man’s identity to pay for Ruby’s treatment. However, serial killer Uretsky orders Bodine to play his game or watch his beloved die while he remains behind bars for insurance fraud. John plays the dangerous contest until he says enough leading to his ruthless opponent killing people he cares about until he rejoins the game.

This is a taut thriller due to the three protagonists coming across as real even with a surreal triangular relationship. Readers will relish this tale as a ruthless Uretsky tests a desperate Bodine’s pledge to do anything to save his beloved.

Harriet Klausner