Friday, July 31, 2009

Soul Murder-Andrew Nugent

Soul Murder
Andrew Nugent
Minotaur, Aug 2009, $24.95
ISBN 9780312536565

In North Kerry, Ireland the students of St. Isidore’s boys boarding school sneak out of the dorm late at night for an impromptu midnight barbecue. Following their midnight soiree, the seven pupils sneak back into their tower only to be met by housemaster Maurice Tyson lying in a bloody mess with his throat cut.

The Garda Síochána send Dublin based sexagenarian Superintendent Denis Lennon and youthful Sergeant Molly Power to lead the investigation into the gruesome homicide. Fisher, the headmaster of St. Isidore’s, insists Tyson was the victim of kidnappers trying to abduct French student Bertrand Laporte, the son of a wealthy family. The two cops believe that suggestion is ridiculous until Bertrand is kidnapped when he returns to France, but Inspector Quilligan (and the Surete) rescue the lad. However, the police look at a different motive; that of a former student accusing Tyson of abuse.

The third Lennon-Powers Irish police procedural (see SECOND BURIAL FOR A BLACK PRINCE and THE FOUR COURTS MURDER) is an exciting boarding school whodunit. The insight into the goings on including pranks at a boy’s school seems real while the official investigation is well done and entertaining. Although the final solution appears weak especially by the standard of excellence for this series, fans will appreciate Andrew Nugent’s thrilling murder investigation.

Harriet Klausner

Vengeance Road-Rick Mofina

Vengeance Road
Rick Mofina
Mira, Sep 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780778326380

Buffalo Sentinel veteran reporter Jack Gannon hears the buzz over the scanner and knows something ugly is going down in a park. He knows he is ancient history with his highlight film in the past and his work on a daily print newspaper a dinosaur nearing extinction, but he goes to cover the story.

Someone murdered former nursing student Bernice Hogan. Jack is told by someone inside the investigation whom he trusts but cannot name that the prime suspect is highly regarded cop Karl Styebeck, the head of this murder inquiry. Jack writes the story, which leads to fiftyish Mary Peller informing him her twenty six year old daughter, a single mom of a three year old child, is missing and connected to Bernice. Jack’s editor demands he give up his source, but he refuses; he is suspended. However, though he is about to be unemployed he keeps digging because he knows Jolene will be next.

This is a super journalistic investigative suspense thriller with several great plausible twists. Jack is a throwback reporter to those 1940s movies who as his missing sister and Mary noted he never gives up. Fans will relish his exploits in Buffalo and elsewhere as he may be unemployed but has a save a stranger driving him onward.

Harriet Klausner

Air Time-Hank Phillippi Ryan

Air Time
Hank Phillippi Ryan
Mira, Sep 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780778327196

TV reporter Charlotte McNally is with her producer Franklin on a plane on the tarmac in Charlotte when she realizes an incident occurred at the airport, but it turned out to be nothing except that the nothing caused her to miss her flight to Boston where she is to meet the Prada P.I. However, she helps some young woman in gigantic heals lug her luggage off the conveyor belt. Regine gives Charlie a business card for Double Designers. Charlie thanks the Gods for now she has a lead.

Charlie goes undercover attending a party thrown by Double Designers. Her work upsets her boyfriend English professor Josh Gelston, as they spend no time together so he implies he should move in with her so they can spend some time together. Meanwhile those selling the fakes do not appreciate investigative reporters.

The third Charlie McNally investigative thriller (see PRIME TIME and AIR TIME) is a terrific action-packed tale as the heroine provides her unique often humorous and biting commentary to the reader. Fans will enjoy her adventures as her undercover work is dangerous in terms of the sham makers and her relationship with the professor. Once again Charlie turns the latest “Time” suspense into an enjoyable read.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Riesling Retribution-Ellen Crosby

The Riesling Retribution
Ellen Crosby
Scribner, Aug 4 2009, $25.00
ISBN: 9781416551683

In Virginia, Montgomery Estate Vineyard Lucie Montgomery visits her parents’ graves when a tornado strikes. The twister destroyed some vines, but also uncovered relatively recently buried human bones where none should be. The timing is exacerbated by reenactors arriving for the 1861 Battle of Ball’s Bluff. At the same time her winemaker Quinn Santori and her field manager Chance Miller are dueling over the vines and her.

The remains belong to Beauregard Kinkaid, who had a fight with Lucie's scoundrel father. When the murder weapon is found and belonged to the late Leland, the police declare the case is solved and Lucie’s late father is the killer. Lucie knew her dad was a rogue but not a murderer. She tries to investigate but the second spouse of Beauregard’s wife, powerful Summer Chastain, will not allow anything to interfere with the official verdict.

The latest wine mystery (see THE BORDEAUX BETRAYAL, THE MERLOT MURDERS and THE CHARDONNAY CHARADE) is a charming amateur sleuth in which readers will toast elegant entertaining Ellen Cosby for this fun entry. The heroine is harassed on all fronts as she struggles with the internal war between two key employees in which she is attracted to both of them, the arrival of the horde of reenactors, and the belief her late rogue of a dad killed a rival. Although the whodunit is entertaining unlike the previous three tales, Lucie’s inquiry shares top billing with the feud and the Civil War buffs; still fans will enjoy future wine tasting awesome alliterations.

Harriet Klausner

Sister Pelagia and the Red Cockerel-Boris Akunin

Sister Pelagia and the Red Cockerel
Boris Akunin
Random House, Aug 11 2009, $15.00
ISBN: 9780812975154

St. Petersburg's Chief Procurator of the Holy Synod is outraged with the behavior of Sister Pelagia; he questions whether she should be allowed to wear the veil. Not long after her censuring, Sister Palagia is sailing on the steamboat Sturgeon when someone kills Manuila, the messianic leader of the Jewish sect Foundlings. Though she knows she should keep her opinions to herself she offers advice to the Inspector Dolinin.

Not long after Manuila was murdered, someone tries to kill Sister Palagia several times before she flees Russia and heads to the Holy land where she continues to investigate the homicide on board the Sturgeon. While she is in Palestine, back in Russia friends and foes debate the merit of Sister Pelagia who continues her sleuthing instead of doing her sisterly duties as befitting a bride of Jesus.

The third Sister Pelagia amateur sleuth (see SISTER PELAGIA AND THE WHITE BULLDOG and SISTER PELAGIA AND THE BLACK MONK) is a super historical although there is a lot less detecting than in the previous entries. The story line is fast-paced as the heroine has to get out of “Dodge” (at least St. Petersburg) because she is unable to investigate freely why someone wants her dead and the church leadership wants her banished. Her adventures in the Holy Land continue as Sister Palagia cannot resist a mystery. Fans of the saga will relish Boris Akunin third late nineteenth century thriller as Tsarist Russia and Palestine come alive though the beleaguered nun’s eyes.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A Quiet Belief in Angels-R.J. Ellory

A Quiet Belief in Angels
R.J. Ellory
Overlook, Sep 2009, $24.95
ISBN 9781590202500

In 1939 in Augusta Falls, Georgia, someone rapes and murders a twelve year old child. The classmates are stunned but especially affected is Joseph Vaughan. When he turns fifteen raised by his widow mom, he remains haunted by the incident and violent death in general. He persuades other boys his age to form the Guardians to prevent future assaults.

Over the next few years, the Guardians fail to stop brutal attacks as kids are abducted. A depressed Vaughan leaves Georgia relocating to Brooklyn, where he hopes to make it with his other goal to become a writer. However, a murder in the Big Apple ties back to Augusta Falls bringing him full circle.

Although there are too many minor subplots over complicating a fabulous character study of a seemingly OCD youth; A QUIET BELIEF IN ANGELS is a terrific tale of a Georgian fixated for decades with brutal killings especially by serial killers. Fans will appreciate how deep author RJ Ellory takes the reader inside the mind of Joseph without slowing down the narrative. He is the key holding the tale together as the focus of the story line. As a as a senior citizen he connects the deadly dots between New York and Georgia but even then Mr. Ellory continues digging through the layers of the soul of his beleaguered frustrated hero. This is a super look at a caring person struggling with his inability to prevent violence.

Harriet Klausner

The Scoop-Fern Michaels

The Scoop
Fern Michaels
Kensington, Sep 2009, $13.95
ISBN 9780758227188

In Charleston, South Carolina the four sexagenarian BFFs gather for the funeral of the millionaire husband of one of them Teresa Amelia “Toots” Loudenberry; this is her eighth spouse she has buried. She informs her buddies that the mourning period will be one week before they dash to Hollywood.

Obsessive-compulsive Disorder centerfold Ida, overweight Mavis accompanied everywhere by Coco the Chihuahua and smoker Sophie agree to go with her to California. Toots plans to buy the near bankrupt tabloid the Informer where her daughter Abby Simpson works as a reporter. . However, the ten million dollar deal collapses when newspaper publisher Rodwell Archibald Godfrey III takes the money and runs to the Cayman Islands. V

THE SCOOP is a zany over the top of the Hollywood Hills starring the Golden Girls who go after Godfrey. Each of the four musketeers is different, while the ringleader is Toots. The story line is amusing and irrelevant as even the opening funeral services affirm nothing is sacred in life when it comes to eternity. Fans will enjoy this madcap comedic tale as the escapades keep on coming when the four BFFs go after their man.

Harriet Klausner

Devil's Trill-Gerald Elias

Devil's Trill
Gerald Elias
Minotaur, Aug 2009, $25.99
ISBN 9780312541811

Every thirteen years the Grimsley Competition is held for prodigies under thirteen years of age at Carnegie Hall. The winner receives money, appearances with the New York Symphonic and use of the renowned seventeenth century Piccolino valued at $8 million for a Carnegie Hall performance.

Blind Daniel Jacobus was once a losing participant, but since feels strongly that the competition and similar music venues destroy the gifted young. Child prodigy Kamryn Vander is this year’s winner, but to the shock of the members if the Music Arts Project responsible for the gala, someone stole the revered Piccolino, the only known three-quarter-size Stradivarius. The police blame Daniel, who was at the scene of the crime when the locked door was opened and found empty and has voiced a loud motive to end the competition by breaking the violin. Encouraged by insurance investigator friend Nathanial, grumpy Daniel accompanied by his current student Yumi, whose green eyes are his vision, searches for the missing Piccolino. Murder has the almost maestro and his protégé fleeing to Japan before they become the second act of the killer.

This is a super amateur sleuth tale with a musical twist as Daniel with the help of Yumi tries to track down the missing Piccolino. Fans will enjoy the blind teacher turned detective as the almost famous but now infamous Daniel understands the irony of his predicament; he wanted to end the competition that he feels harms children yet now must find the instrument that is the prize of the contest if he is to prove his innocence. Fans will enjoy his profound cantankerous view of the state of classical music in this engaging mystery.

Harriet Klausner

Hell's Kitchen Homicide-Charles Kipp

Hell's Kitchen Homicide
Charles Kipp
Scribner, Sep 15 2009,
ISBN: 9781439127902

The corpse is found in Hell’s Kitchen overlooking the Hudson. NYPD Detectives Conor Bard and Ralph Kurtz have the lead though the latter is retiring in a week. The corpse is criminal defense attorney Walter Lawton with mob ties, who has freed many obvious felons from incarceration.

The obvious prime suspect is the victim’s wife Holly who will inherit millions. The cops learn her lover is a professional hit man running a Brooklyn kennel Salvatore Zeffel and they fish the murder weapon a 22 out of the river; Sal’s choice of guns. The case takes several spins with almost all having an Albanian connection, but none quite making sense. Adding to Bard’s confusion is four women in his life: his boss who never leaves the station; his former lover who is seeing jealous Captain Reynolds; Holly who calls him all the time, and Albanian visitor Monica who he calls. He is attracted to the latter two while he wants Reynolds off his back as the case seems to go nowhere.

This is a terrific New York police procedural as nothing is quite what it seems. The banter between the partners is fun and Conor’s female problems add depth to him, but it is the whodunit that makes this an entertaining tale. Every clue leads to the Albanian community in the Bronx, but every step forward also leads to a seemingly dead end. Sub-genre fans will enjoy this fast-paced thriller as the streets of Manhattan seem dirtier than usual.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, July 27, 2009

31 Hours-Masha Hamilton

31 Hours
Masha Hamilton
Unbridled, Sep 2009, $24.95
ISBN: 9781932961836

At three in the morning in Manhattan, Carol abruptly wakes up with a premonition that her son Jonas is in trouble. She thinks about it and realizes he has not called her in several weeks. Carol goes back to feeling uneasy as only a mom can understand. The next day she tries his cell phone and visits his apartment, but neither proves fruitful. She visits his girlfriend Vic, who informs her Jonas has not returned her calls nor has she seen him lately, but she has no idea what she did to make him so angry that he cut off communication to her. Vic’s response sends Carol into a deeper panic.

Jonas Meitzner is the son of an atheist mother and a Jewish father Jake whose parents were Hasidic. His parents split when he was young, but that did not matter as he grew up faithless, but recently discovered Islam. His spiritual guide Masoud believes that American society needs change from within violently; Jonas is an expendable tool to do so.

31 hours until he puts into place what he learned while secretly sequestered in Pakistan; 31 hours before he commits an act of terrorism on the trains; 31 hours before his letters reach his loved ones; 31 hours before he breaks many hearts including that of his mom.

Mindful of the young Minneapolis Muslims that apparently has concerned the community and the Feds, 31 HOURS is a timely thriller as loved ones increasingly become concerned when they lose contact with Jonas. Fans will feel the anguish of his mom, the concern of his dad; the bewilderment of his girlfriend; the disassociation of guilt by his guide; and finally him, the focus of those who care about him in varying ways as he knows if one of them besides Masoud reaches him he will falter with his beliefs. Fans will be hooked into this one sitting as a nice young man walks a deadly final 31 hours unless a miracle intercedes.

Harriet Klausner

Tears of Pearl-Tasha Alexander

Tears of Pearl
Tasha Alexander
Minotaur, Sep 2009, $24.99
ISBN 9780312383701

Newlyweds Lady Emily and British intelligence agent Colin Hargreaves honeymoon in Constantinople. They are looking into the mugging of Sir Richard and papers stolen from him when a half-English harem girl is murdered. Sir Richard recognizes her as his daughter Thedore stolen from him two decades ago. He pleads with Colin to lead the investigation. The crown’s representatives with the cooperation of the Ottoman Empire also reluctantly agree to allow Emily toquestion the women and eunuchs inside the harem.

However, Emily is not known for following orders to do no sleuthing outside the harem. Instead she follows leads that take her to victim’s family; her father the diplomat and her brother the archeologist. As Colin struggles to keep her in line, Emily interrogates the previous sultan who ruled when Theodore was abducted and the current sultan. Nothing including her spouse, the English throne, the Ottoman Empire Sultan and not even a probable pregnancy stops Emily from her inquiry.

The latest Lady Emily Victorian mystery (see AND ONLY TO DECEIVE and A FATAL WALTZ) is a fun whodunit (except if you are Sir Richard) though filled with numerous seemingly improbabilities. The story line provides the audience insight into the late nineteenth century teetering Ottoman Empire and British diplomacy. However, the plot belongs to the married couple whose relationship in some ways will remind the audience of Nick and Nora of Thin Man even with a different time and place.

Harriet Klausner

Faces in the Fire-T.L. Hines

Faces in the Fire
T.L. Hines
Thomas Nelson, Jul 2009, $14.99
ISBN: 9781595544537

Truck driver Kurt Marlowe goes to estate sales to buy the clothing of dead people. Kurt has a special paranormal talent as clothing communicates with him, which leads to him creating metal sculptures from the images the clothing transmit to him.

Kurt has no memory of his past so he is pleased to meet lymphoma sufferer Corrine who has a catfish tattoo that was given to her by Grace who has a tie to Stan the assassin. These four begin to interact with one another while dealing with a set of numbers on a napkin that make no sense to any of them, but keeps reappearing. Together they may break this code; separately the code will break them.

Character driven by the unlikable quartet, FACES IN THE FIRE is a haunting thriller as readers (and the foursome) wonder what is gong on and what next until the climax brings everything together; sort of. In many ways the story line feels like a surreal mystery that though in content different kept reminding me of the movie The Cube. Fans who prefer something radically different but refreshingly unique will relish reading T.L Hines’ novels like THE UNSEEN and his latest psychological perhaps even supernatural thriller.

Harriet Klausner

To Grandmother’s House-Glen Ebisch

To Grandmother’s House
Glen Ebisch
Five Star, Aug 2009, $25.95
ISBN: 9781594147647

Laura Magee was the art writer at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts until she lost her position and her boyfriend painter Owen Reynolds. Leaving Boston, she moves in with her grandma in the nearby college town Ravensford. When the Ravensford Chronicle’s most popular columnist, Auntie Mabel dies after over three decades of advice, the owner Roger St. Claire hires Laura to continue the column as few people knew that Mabel was Ann Rickdorf.

Ravensford College head of security Keith Campbell charges into the newspaper’s office demanding to see Auntie Mabel for the column she wrote yesterday. Apparently her advice persuaded his Amazonian girlfriend, college art teacher Heidi Lipton, the renowned “Pottery Princess”, to dump him. Laura hides her alter ego from him, but offers to go out with him to make Heidi jealous even though she is attracted to the handsome Keith. At a gala, art department chair Jack Proctor is found dead when Laura accidentally falls on him at the bottom of some stairs. Heidi’s bracelet is found with him. As Police detective Michael Farantello tells her to stay out of his inquiry as she has compromised the crime scene already; Laura helps him anyway.

This is a fun lighthearted whodunit as the heroine goes from no men in her life to three men (Keith, Frank and Owen who has come to the college) to maybe one man. The mystery is cleverly designed so that the beautiful but clearly strong Heidi seems to havs committed the crime as she and the victim had issues, were arguing, and her bracelet was found on him; strength, size, and height being a key reason why she is a prime suspect and Laura is not. Fans will enjoy this entertaining Massachusetts frolic as the art of the heroine’s late grandfather becomes the center of the conflict.

Harriet Klausner

Kitty Hitter-Andy Straka

Kitty Hitter
Andy Straka
Five Star, Aug 2009, $25.95
ISBN: 1594148120

Eagle Eye private investigator Darla Barns asks former NYPD police detective Frank Pavlicek to help her on the case of the stolen kitty. The Charlottesville, Virginia private eye agrees to come back to Manhattan accompanied by his daughter Nicole. In exclusive Manhattan co-op Grayland Tower, several people have complained about a bird of prey the Great Horned owl attacking their pets. The client is animal rights activist Dr. Korva Lonigan who claims her cat Groucho was abducted and probably killed by the predatory bird.

Darla and the father and daughter team are attacked at the airport. Clues lead to Central Park and Westchester. Further digging connects Korva to the affluent Egyptian-American developer she accuses of being behind the assaults. Complicating the inquiry is the shooting deaths of two gangbangers, right where the Virginians are following leads in Central Park that with each clue seems increasingly sordid and focused on a young Falconer and a bird of prey.

This is a terrific whodunit as what seems no more than an amusing minor tenant dispute with a landlord turns into a dangerous inner city mystery. The story line is fast-paced and filled with action, but it is the twists that keep on coming yet seem plausible that will hold reader’s attention throughout. Andy Straka as he received with Frank’s tale COLD QUARRY will obtain plenty of accolades for KITTY HITTER (except for the too clever title).

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Peace, Love and Murder-Nancy Holzner

Peace, Love and Murder
Nancy Holzner
Five Star, Aug 31 2009, $25.95
ISBN: 9781594147753

When Bo Forrester was eighteen, he could no longer reside at the commune his gentle parents raised him in; so he enlisted with the army. Two decades later, he has come home to Rhodes, New York praying they can reconcile, but the commune has been replaced by a sub-division and no one seems to know where his parents went except somewhere out west. He drives a cab while seeking information on his parents.

He is driving Carl and Ronnie to work when Deputy Sheriff Trudy Hauser stops the cab for speeding. Ronnie flees, but Trudy tackles him and finds marijuana on him. When Bo pops the trunk, Trudy stares at a corpse; later identified as history professor Fred Davies. Whereas Trudy believes Bo is guilty and follows him legally and not so legally, he begins to investigate and soon finds a horde of people who loathed Davies; others die, but though suspicion remains even stronger that Bo is the killer, Trudy believes he is innocent and teams up with him to uncover the killer.

This is an enjoyable whodunit starring a fascinating hero who grew up as “Rainbow”, a name he detested, but now misses his loving parents. His relationship with Bo turns from suspicions and distrust to strong attraction and maybe love although the change by Trudy seems too abrupt and ends her Inspector Girard like persistence of chasing the “fugitive” that added freshness to the mystery (even if she should have been suspended). Still fans will appreciate this fine murder who-done-it enhanced by Bo’s past and look forward to a sequel in which he goes west to track his parents.

Harriet Klausner

The Desert Hedge Murders-Patricia Stoltey

The Desert Hedge Murders
Patricia Stoltey
Five Star, Aug 31 2009, $25.95
ISBN: 9781594147852

In her mind her brother reclusive clairvoyant Willie Grisseljon, a sexagenarian like she is, conned into going with their octogenarian mom and the other Florida Flippers traveling Miami Dolphins’ fan club to Laughlin, Nevada. The former judge and retired Fed widow Sylvia Thorn wonders what trouble can the Flippers get into on their trip when they find a corpse in the bathtub of a room shared by Sandra Pringle and non-member Patsy Strump.

Sandra turns up missing while the troupe heads off to the Lone Cactus Gold Mine. There they find Sandra’s corpse. Willie has a vision of his sister in trouble so with his dad at his side; they race to Nevada while the FBI Agent Damon Falls investigates the goings on at the Mohave County, Arizona mine though he would not mind investigating the much older Sylvia in a more exclusive luxurious locale. As Sylvia tries to keep the Flippers out of trouble, trouble seems to find them; so with Patsy, her sibling, her parents, the other Flippers, and a six foot plus female dynamo, she leads the inquiry (more like a chaotic retreat) into the death of Sandra that forces law enforcement at all levels to share notes.

Though over the top of Hoover Dam, THE DESERT HEDGE MURDERS is an amusing amateur sleuth tale (though the lead “detective” has experience as a former FBI agent). The story line is as fast as Freda the amazon drives her bike and never slows down even when the seniors are a bit tired. Fans will enjoy this zany Nevada-Arizona whodunit.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, July 25, 2009

War Damage-Elizabeth Wilson

War Damage
Elizabeth Wilson
Serpent Tail, Sep 1 2009, $14.95
ISBN: 9781846686504

In 1949, ballet critic Freddie Buckingham leaves a party hosted by socialite Regine Milner and begins walking across Hampstead Heath when he is shot to death. The police investigate the homicide.

Detective Chief Inspector Plumer and Detective Sergeant Murray quickly find a horde of people with motives to kill overtly homosexual Freddie. People from his personal life and his professional life with grudges against him seem everywhere. Even the hostess with the mostest is considered a suspect. However, none from the performing arts, the homosexuals, the bohemians, politicians or starving socialites stand out from anyone else. All seem to have in common a refrain of rejoicong that Freddie’s dead.

This is an exhilarating post WWII police procedural that has a Noir feel to it, but no detective is hard boiled; the Noir comes from the atmosphere of the “Heath” and London in 1949 as unexploded bombs remain from the war, buildings are derelict and damaged but people reside in them, and the gritty dark fog enhances every step of the plot. Aptly titled WAR DAMAGE is everywhere. Although the introduction to just about all the party goers seems overwhelming at first, fans will enjoy this fine historical whodunit as Freddie’s death enables Elizabeth Wilson to provide a tour of the war torn city.

Harriet Klausner

America Libre-Ramos y Sanchez

America Libre
Ramos y Sanchez
Grand Central, Jul 2009, $13.99
ISBN: 9780446507752

In El Paso, a cop shoots and kills a Latina youth. The Hispanic community in the border city is outraged and rioting occurs. The Texas Governor calls in the National Guard to quell the riots and prevent looting. Shots are fired and twenty-three Latinas are killed.

Across the country there is horror from many quarters and defense of the use of force from others. However, Latinas explode in outrage. In Los Angeles tensions between Hispanics and Anglos are boiling over with every incident and rumor escalating the tension. Wealthy Ramon Garcia creates the La Defensa del Pueblo to protect Hispanics from the Anglo backlash. Unemployed former Army Ranger Manolo "Mano" Suaraz is one of the veterans who enlist over the objection of his frightened wife as he obtains work as a bodyguard. Soon La Defensa del Pueblo begins to ally with local Hispanic gangs. Civil war seems imminent as the government sets up "Quarantine Zones" and internment camps to isolate Hispanics from the general population.

This is an exciting timely tale that makes a strong warning to beware of the fast growing populace turning angry. The case Ramos y Sanchez makes is supported by the potential backlash to the anti-immigration assault and the Judge Sotomeier attacks. Although no exploration into how other races like Asian-Americans and African-Americans, or foreign countries or terrorist groups react to the American racial civil war, fans enjoy Ramos y Sanchez’s entertaining but admonitory thriller that avers liberty and libre are the same or else.

Harriet Klausner

Heaven’s Keep-William Kent Kreuger

Heaven’s Keep
William Kent Kreuger
Atria, Sep 2009, $25.00
ISBN: 9781416556763

The day before Jo O'Connor boards the charter flight to Wyoming with seven other people, she and her husband Cork get into a fight. The small plane flies through a wintry storm and suddenly vies off course; no longer tracked by radar, the assumption by officials is the plane crashed into the Wyoming mountains. Cork joins the search into the wintry Rockies but after days of fruitless searching hampered by bad weather making a harsh mountainous terrain that much more difficult, the party gives up as there is no sign of the plane; no one could have lived through the cold if they made it past the assumed crash.

Six months later, Rebecca Bodine and her friend Liz Burns show up at Cork’s place in Minnesota. Rebecca claims the pilot of that charter was not her husband as everyone else assumes especially with a wrongful death suit claiming Sandy was drunk when he flew that fatal flight. A reporter digs up what Sandy was doing before the flight: getting drunk in a bar. Cork looks at a video of the pilot and concludes he did not drink but instead poured the liquor into something under his shirt while pretending to imbibe. Although he still believes his wife died, Cork knows something is off about the official conclusion so goes to Wyoming to investigate. The closer he comes to the truth, law enforcement officers, other government officials and drug lords are watching him to see if they have to take action against him.

Readers will sympathize with Cork who feels remorse that he and Jo went to bed angry with one another instead of making up while his fuming good bye was his last words to her. As Cork investigates, he and the audience begin to wonder whether Jo is alive but if so how. Filled with action and vivid descriptions of the Wyoming Rockies, William Kent Kreuger has somehow made this strong thriller a personal drama as well in what may be the best O’Connor tale to date.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, July 24, 2009

Ghastly Glass-Joyce and Jim Lavene

Ghastly Glass
Joyce and Jim Lavene
Berkley, Sep 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425230305

Renaissance Village in Myrtle Beach is for the first time in history is decorated to look like the Faire is Halloween. Renaissance reveler Jessie Morton is apprenticing under various master craftsmen to obtain research for her dissertation Proliferation of Renaissance Crafts in Modern Times. This year she is being trained by Roger Trent, owner and glassblower of the Glass Gryphon. She is also reunited with Chase.

The strong but gentle giant Ross plays Death and is very convincing as he looks spookily like the grim reaper. When someone kills him everyone at the faire except his killer is shocked. On his chest is a note that states “Death Will Find Thee”. His brother Bart takes over the role of death. Someone is also trying to frighten Jessie. When Roger is attacked with the same message left on him as that was pinned to Ross, Jessie believes the latter’s nephew stalks him. Although Henry is arrested, Jessie doubts he is the killer. Instead she believes a village resident is the culprit especially when someone else vanishes.

Jessie provides a unique look at a renaissance faire as she stumbles and tumbles into one adventure after another. Through her eyes, readers learn what happens behind the scenes and into the minds of the performers especially the revelers who relish reenactments. This is a colorful exciting amateur sleuth mystery filled with quirky characters who endear themselves to the reader as Joyce and Jim Lavene write a delightful whodunit.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Little Bird of Heaven- Joyce Carol Oates

Little Bird of Heaven
Joyce Carol Oates
Ecco, Sep 15 2009, $25.99
ISBN 9780061829833

In 1983 in Sparta, New York Zoe Kruller and Eddy Diehl are having an affair. She is a gentle beauty while he is kick butt tough guy. All is great between these opposites until her young son Aaron finds her murdered body. The police hone in on the two male adults in Zoe’s life, her spouse and her lover.

Five years after the homicide, the police arrive at Eddy’s home. He refuses to cooperate and instead challenges the cops even as his horrified daughter Krista watches the macabre event as if it is a movie scene. He is shot down in what is called a suicide; case closed as far as the cops and the people of Sparta are concerned, but not the survivors. Instead their respective offspring are traumatized by events, but though they try to move on separately, neither can. Then they meet.

LITTLE BIRD OF HEAVEN is a fabulous character study that looks deep at the offspring generation surviving a tragedy. Krista tells the tale, which focuses on psychological defense mechanism employed by her (denial her father might have done the deed) and by him (denial that his mom was having an affair). Neither is able to move past the respective defining moments in their lives, seeing the corpse of a parent who had a violent death. Fans will relish prolific author Joyce Carol Oates’s latest psychological suspense as Krista and Aaron meet each other and the ghosts they carry inside their hearts.

Harriet Klausner

Service Dress Blues-Michael Bowen

Service Dress Blues
Michael Bowen
Poisoned Pen, Sep 2009, $24.95
ISBN 9781590586679

In Milwaukee lawyer Rep Pennyworth and his wife, University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee English professor Melissa, are working on separate items. Rep is working on trademark and copyright law for Democratic Party activist Ole Lindstrom; Melissa is looking into the apparent mugging by a woman of Ole’s nephew Harald Lindstrom from the U.S. Naval Academy found unconscious in an Annapolis motel the night before the “Game”.

The police arrests Ole’s septuagenarian wife Lena; who is accused of hammering him on his head with a frying pan. She is charged with attempted murder. She swears she did not bean her husband with a skillet; instead she swears that an intruder knocked him out. Ole is gleeful in spite of the headache as his candidate for Attorney General Veronica Gephardt is running on a domestic violence platform. Soon after that someone kills Ole; and Lena is arrested again this time for murder; Rep represents her.

With events going on in early 2009 playing in the background, the latest Pennyworth thriller (see SHOOT THE LAWYER TWICE) is an amusing lighthearted farcical mystery that is fun to read. The lead married couple is having fun though the stakes change for him with a murder defense and for her with a baseball trivia quiz. Although the prime suspects in the homicide are not just underdeveloped, they seem emaciated when compared with the Pennyworth pair. Still Michael Bowen provides an entertaining who’s on first tale.

Harriet Klausner

Sand Sharks-Margaret Maron

Sand Sharks
Margaret Maron
Grand Central, Aug 2009, $24.99
ISBN 9780446196116

Judge Deborah Knott looks forward to getting away from the bench and her new family after an incident with her husband Dwight and his son as she attends a conference in Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina. After a couple of more negative events this time at the conference, a tipsy Deborah escorted by friends pukes into the water where she sees the corpse of Judge Peter Jeffreys. Local authorities are well aware Deborah has solved homicides (see DEATH'S HALF ACRE) so they ask her to help them by going undercover and making circumspect inquiries amongst the other judicial attendees.

Deborah is taken aback when she realizes several participants are not upset and in fact sort of joyful over the death of Peter. As she digs a bit deeper, someone is aware of her efforts and scrutinizes her every move to insure if she gets a bit too close she will be victim number two.

Deborah, as she always does, turns this whodunit into an entertaining often amusing homespun regional mystery. The story line is fast-paced from the moment the judge vomits and never slows down although the climax seems unbelievably forced. Still SAND SHARKS is a solid entry as Deborah un-knots the complicated life of the victim who did bad things from the bench, but one obviously rebounded deadly.

Harriet Klausner

The Silent Spirit-Margaret Coel

The Silent Spirit
Margaret Coel
Berkley, Sep 2009, $24.95
ISBN: 9780425229767

On the Wind River reservation, Kiki Wallowingbull comes home after serving two years on a charge of selling drugs. Father John O’Malley, who just returned from Rome after a six month stint there is now the interim pastor of St. Francis Mission located on the reservation. He and Kiki meet and the ex-convict tells the priest he is clean and determined to find out what happened to his great-grandfather Charlie who vanished in 1923 while in Hollywood doing a shoot to promote a movie, The Covered Wagon, in which he had a part.

When Kiki returns from Hollywood, he tells Father John that the answer to the disappearance is here on the reservation. Soon afterward, Kiki is found dead. Lawyer Vicky Holden hears from a man who insists he killed him in self-defence, but though they soon talk in person she never sees his face. The police arrest a drug dealer, but Vicky knows the man is innocent of this crime; she must find the culprit to insure justice is served even though the arrested prime suspect is a career criminal.

The story is told in two parts, the present and 1923 when the Arapahos and the Shoshones make the movie. In the present, Kiki dies trying to learn what really happened to his ancestor. Readers will enjoy trying to find out what the link between the two deaths are besides blood; and want to do it before Father John and Vicky solve it. Margaret Coel provides an enjoyable mystery that is highlighted by the Arapahos eight decades ago and now.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

City of Silver-Annamaria Alfieri

City of Silver
Annamaria Alfieri
Minotaur, Aug 4 2009, $24.99
ISBN: 9780312383862

In 1650, Spanish King Felip IV is concerned with a flood of impure silver coins that threatens the very foundation of the empire. He sends the Visitador General Doctor Francisco de Nestares to Potosi, the largest city in the New World and the center of silver production to investigate and execute those coining the counterfeits.

At the same time in Potosi, Inez Rojas de la Morada, daughter of the Alcalde Municipal, apparently commits suicide while inside an abbey. The New Spain Grand Inquisitor Fray Perdro de la Gasca sees an opportunity to strengthen his control; he blames the abbess Mother Maria Santa Hilda. He calls her a heretic because she was allowing Inez to be interred in holy ground. Not one to sit idly by, Mother Maria sets out to prove that Inez was a murder victim and did not take her life. Her inquiry uncovers implications that some of her people are involved in the watering down of the silver.

This is a great mid seventeenth century historical fiction that grips the audience from the moment the Spanish monarch sends his “investigator” to New Spain and never slows down as the tale turns into an exhilarating amateur sleuth with a clock ticking. Revelations abound that stun the Mother Superior while the Visitador General and the New Spain Grand Inquisitor do their respective jobs. The mystery is cleverly done to entertain readers with strong competing inquiries pulled by personal agendas; in which the truth may prove irrelevant but even more so to provide a deep vivid look at the biggest city in the seventeenth century New World. Awesome Annamaria Alfieri will be fully welcomed by the genre.

Harriet Klausner

The Public Prosecutor-Jef Geeraerts

The Public Prosecutor
Jef Geeraerts
Bitter Lemon, Sep 28 2009, $14.95
ISBN: 9781904738381

Affluent Albert Savelkoul seems to live a near perfect life as the public prosecutor of Antwerp. He is affluent and influential due in part to the right marriage although his deeply religious wife Baroness Marie-Amandine de Vreux d'Alembourg detests him. His mistress Louise is beautiful and kind though he is considering a maid for that position. Finally he has a secret Swiss bank account concealed even from his spouse in which Albanian drug dealers donate in exchange for magically changing heroin into talc.

His wife arranges with the Opus Dei to destroy Albert. She gives them insider information that they use to blackmail the suddenly beleaguered Albert. The powerful Catholic group demands a cut starting with any inheritance he planned for his offspring. They also easily get into his Zurich account and wipe that out. Opus Dei operatives raise the ante further as they try to break Albert. He prays to God to allow him and his love to safely flee Belgium for Scotland.

The premise behind this great psychological suspense is that a big fish in a small pond can be eaten alive by a bigger fish. Thus corrupt Albert makes the thriller work as he goes from affluence to stomp upon roach rather quickly when someone more powerful sends him back to the masses as another nonentity. Fans will relish this deep character driven tale of corruption and back stabbing as the norm especially for one climbing up the ladder of affluence and influence only to be thrown down by someone higher up. Jef Geeraerts provides a powerful indictment of western civilization circa 1999 as a “Bitter Lemon” whether it is Belgium, Scotland, or the United States.

Harriet Klausner

Silent Killer-Beverly Barton

Silent Killer
Beverly Barton
Zebra, Sep 2009, $6.99
ISBN 9781420100501

Eighteen months ago, Catherine Cantrell observed in horror her well respected spouse Mark die in an inferno on their front porch. Horrified by the arson that killed her spouse, Cathy fled to Birmingham leaving their teenage son Seth with in-laws. Now with the help of her BFF Lorie Hammonds, she returns to her hometown of Dunmore, Alabama to raise Seth; though she knows she will never forget what she saw or heard. The case remains unsolved.

However, more clergy are murdered in Dunmore that local police detective Jackson Perdue assumes is tied somehow to Cathy. As his former lover back in high school and knowing he still loves her, he rejects the circumstantial evidence that Catherine is the avenging serial killer as the Cantrell family implies.

This is an exciting action packed romantic suspense that is at its best when Catherine and Jackson share the stage with no one except a corpse even though the underlying premise focuses on the families of religious leaders who try to keep secrets from being revealed. The subplot of Jack and Cathy rekindling their love is done well as he struggles with his heart saying she is innocent, but his upper head and the townsfolk think otherwise. SILENT KILLER is a strong tale that contains too many subplots and townsfolk detracting from the super main theme of an enjoyable regional police procedural romance.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Virgin's Daughters-Jeane Westin

The Virgin's Daughters
Jeane Westin
NAL, Aug 2009, $16.00
ISBN: 9780451226679

The younger sister of the late Lady Jane Grey, Lady Katherine Grey admires Queen Elizabeth and vows to be loyal and faithful especially to the monarch’s decree that her female retinue must remain virtuous. Lady Katherine has no problem remaining pure as no man attracts her enough to give away her virginity.

However, when Elizabeth falls in love with Sir Robert Dudley, Katherine assumes that frees her from her vow of chastity just like the queen she emulates. Katherine falls in love with the Earl of Hereford, but Queen Elizabeth begins to suspect her of seditious acts to take the throne like her sister did.

Over time, Elizabeth turns increasingly acrimonious as she cannot fully act on her love for Essex. Her Lady in Waiting Mary Rogers understands firsthand what that means as she loves the queen's godson, but that could mean death for both of them.

Although a look at Queen Elizabeth through how her Ladies in Waiting sees her has been over done, as well as the Grey sisters (see the Alison Weir’s novels), Jeane Westin provides a fascinating look at the court over time. The Queen becomes angrier and frustrated but not as much as her Ladies in Waiting, who know that love is a seditious act. Well written, fans who cannot get enough of Elizabethan Era historical fiction will want to read THE VIRGIN'S DAUGHTERS trying to remain loyal to their Queen bit also struggling to survive falling in love in the “Court of Elizabeth I”.

Harriet Klausner

Deadly Descent- Charlotte Hinger

Deadly Descent
Charlotte Hinger
Poison Pen, Sep 1 2009, $24.95
ISBN: 9781590586457

In western Kansas, Lottie Albright marries Keith, whose adult children are older than his new wife. Her twin sister clinical psychologist Josie objects as she assumes her sibling married for money. Living the life of a Jayhawker socialite, Lottie works as director of the Carlton County Historical Society; a role she thought would be fun. She is also the district manager of the election campaign for senate by Zelda’s nephew Brian Hadley.

Lottie enjoys her life until someone murders Zelda. The victim’s daughter Judy accuses Brian's mother her drama queen Aunt Fiona of the homicide. To keep her silent while sheriff Sam Abbott investigates, Lottie hires Judy as a research assistant at the Historical Society who finds the records of a similar homicide in the archives. Keeping Judy safe ad silent backfires when someone kills Judy. Shorthanded Sam hires Lottie to make inquiries while the state police investigate the two murders.

This is an exciting Kansas amateur sleuth tale starring a wonderful heroine who plays Mozart, fires a gun accurately, and deals with all sorts of relatives from her and his families who loath the marriage to Keith. The story line is fast-paced from the opening theatrics of Fiona until the final confrontation. Fans will play in their heads The Magic Flute while somewhat ignoring a civilian hired as a temporary on a homicide investigation because Lottie makes the tale fun to read.

Harriet Klausner

Her Deadly Mischief-Beverle Graves Myers

Her Deadly Mischief
Beverle Graves Myers
Poisoned Pen, Sep 2009, $24.95
ISBN 9781590582336

In 1742 castrato Tito Amato and company are performing Rossini’s Armida at the Teatro San Marco. There is plenty of excitement in the air as this is opening night. However, as the opera is performed a frustrated Tito targets his voice at the rude spectators behind the closed curtained fourth-tier box owned by Alessio Pino, son of a master glassmaker. Tito feels better for a moment when the curtains open. However that nanosecond passes as a masked man is struggling with a woman before pushing her to her death.

The victim is popular but manipulative courtesan Zulietta Giardino, a conniving courtesan. Tito is the sole witness and explains to the Venetian constabulary head Messer Grand that he saw a very tall masked person push Zulietta. That night he tells his Jewish wife Liya, disowned by her family, what he witnessed. The married couple investigates as does Grand, but many diverse suspects surface including one who kidnaps their son.

The latest Baroque historical mystery (see THE IRON TONGUE OF MIDNIGHT, PAINTED VEIL, INTERRUPTED ARIA and CRUEL MUSIC) is a great tale that once again brings vibrantly to life mid eighteenth century Venice. Besides the music scene, readers obtain a perspective of the degree of anti-Semitism the lead couple faces including the opposite cutting sword of the ostracism from Liya’s Jewish family. The whodunit is cleverly devised to provide readers with an exciting mystery and a strong background that makes Venice circa 1742 seem real as virtuoso Beverle Graves Myers provides a tremendous historical.

Harriet Klausner

Crush-Alan Jacobson

Alan Jacobson
Vanguard, Sep 2009, $25.95
ISBN: 9781593155483

After a particular rough case and the take down of a cop killer in front of the White House, FBI profiler Karen Vail is ordered by her boss to take a vacation. She and her boyfriend Detective Robby Hernandez head to Napa Valley.

While they are inside a wine cave on the Silver Ridge Estate, Karen sees a look of despair on the face of a worker that tells her something is wrong. Showing their credentials, she and Robby are escorted to the site where a woman lies dead with her breasts eviscerated and a toe nail ripped from her right foot. Vail quickly concludes an experienced serial killer performed the ghastly deed. The lead detective Redmond Brix makes it clear to her he does not want her anywhere near his case, but his superior overrules him; Karen joins the task force.

Another female body with the same M.O. is found followed by a third corpse in the same condition soon afterward, but this body is male. The link between the deceased is that all three were involved in the Georges Valley Wines dispute, but Karen is confused as there are other victims with seemingly no ties. Karen puts her life on the line to capture the killer, but she also seeks answers that tie all the murders together; the only one who can provide them is the killer, who already has cops on his dead list.

Told from the viewpoints of the protagonist and the antagonist, readers see fascinating perspectives of a predator and a hunter challenging one another. The serial killer stuns readers as John Wayne Mayfield has no remorse when it comes to killing humans; he has hidden strategic goals and objectives that will shock the audience because some of his targets are killed for a specific reason. Karen pushes her way onto the task force because she believes they need a profiler to take down this brilliant psychopath. CRUSH is a very exciting and chilling thriller.

Harriet Klausner

The Pravda Messenger-Robert Cornuke

The Pravda Messenger
Robert Cornuke
Howard (Simon and Schuster), Sep 2009, $12.99
ISBN: 9781416549840

The Bell Bible is a divine journal ending up with people chosen by God. That person is the messenger and in the right hands has the power to change things for the good of its temporary owner. Through an unusual set of circumstances, the bible comes to Tanya of Colorado Springs after it was found on the ground following a plane crash and a thief stole it expecting riches.

Tanya immediately recognizes the bible having seen it seven years ago hidden in the tomb of Feodor Kuzmich, believed to be czar Alexander who left his pampered life to become a monk. She also recalls noticing a gold snuff box believed to hold manna inside it. In the present the Soviets want the manna to study it so that the scientists can increase food production; they reject any divine creation of manna. The Cubans want Tanta because she is the PRAVDA MESSENGER, a woman who can hear lies when they are spoken. Tanya’s father is in a Gulag Camp C-23. People are working to free him so he can be used to blackmail Tanya into cooperating with her enemies.

There are many more villains in this intriguing work. This includes a Soviet spy who failed to obtain the snuff box seven years ago; the only blight on his record so he is obsessed with getting a second chance to recover it,; an American working for a top secret agency whose desire for money supersedes his loyalty to his country and the Russians are willing to pay for his cooperation. Tanya is much more mature than her age as she understands the blessing she has received, but also knows the Lord will protect her. There are many heroes willing to become martyrs to keep her safe, but the most important is the Bell Bible given to God’s chosen for his purpose. Inspiring, unique and special, fans will appreciate the PRAVDA MESSENGER.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Falcon’s Bend Case Files Volume II-Karen Wiesner and Chris Spindler

Falcon’s Bend Case Files Volume II
Karen Wiesner and Chris Spindler
Lulu, 2009, $15.00 (print); $5.99 (download)
ISBN: 9780578031095

“Murder on the Heartstrings”. Police Lieutenant Pete Shasta promises his wife Lisa that their celebration of her birthday and Valentines Day will include no investigations. Upon arrival at the Honeymoon Haven Inn, they are greeted by a blizzard and the murder of the hotel masseuse.

“Flashback”. Police Lieutenant Danny and his wife Melody Vincent prepare a nursery for the child they are expecting when Lucinda Staub, missing for seven months, arrives. Her frightened husband Ryan refuses to allow her back into their home; insisting she has fought and defeated the devil; Danny investigates what happened to Lucinda.

“Double Take”. Police officers and lovers Amber Carfi and Warren Jensen investigate the theft of a valuable painting stolen from the Brooks Gallery. To the shock of the cops and the owner Victor Brooks, the brazen thief returns the next day to purloin two more paintings.

“ Retribution”. Lisa and Melody are not thrilled that their spouses ogle the hot Latina, six foot plus neighbor Cassandra Delicia. When Cassandra vanishes leaving behind her two young children Chastity and Owen, Lisa, depressed over the loss of her unborn child, investigates the vanishing while watching over the kids.

“Up in Smoke”. With Melody in labor, Pete teams with Sergeant Jeff Chopp to investigate a robbery and arson at Mitchell Ferrara’s Christmas tree farm that is now out of business for the season due to the fire.

“Ghost of the Past”. Amber looks forward to enjoying the evening with Warren; she stops for take-out at the Rainbow Café only to have Ericka Callister claim a teen is stalking her. Amber knows in 1989 sixteen years old Ericka gave birth to a son she wrapped inside a pillowcase and tossed into a dumpster; he survived so Amber wonders if it is he?

The return to Falcon’s Bend for six more cases is a terrific anthology that looks deep into the lives of cops and their significant others as each thrives for normalcy while also conducting investigations into the abnormal behavior of criminals.

Harriet Klausner

Red, White and Dead-Laura Caldwell

Red, White and Dead
Laura Caldwell
Mira, Aug 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780778326663

In Chicago, since losing her job as an entertainment lawyer, Izzy McNeil works for private investigator John Mayburn. After her undercover work exposed Michael DeSanto as a crook (with the help of his wife), she is working on his associate Dez Romano, head of the family business. However, her identity as Suzanne is exposed when Michael sees her with Dez. They chase after her into a garage when a man calls out to “Boo” enabling her to escape.

Mayburn, who loves Michael’s wife, tells Izzy to leave town. She decides to head to Rome to talk to her paternal Aunt Elena because only her mom and her late dad called her “Boo”. Mayburn agrees to conduct research in the States. In Italy, Izzy is joined by her best friend Maggie and two hunks as she learns of her family connection to the Camorra mob, but remains ignorant to how deep and that they are aware of her presence in Rome and Naples.

The third Izzy “Red” thriller (See RED HOT LIES and RED BLOOD MURDER) takes a family spins on both sides of the Atlantic. The story line is fast-paced as the Italian mobsters try to scare the heroine back to Chicago so the American side of the family can quietly silence her; a killing of a red headed Yank in Italy would be international headline news as opposed to just local in the Windy City. Although lacking the humor and anti-noir feel of the previous two story lines, RED, WHITE AND DEAD is an enjoyable mystery with a few terrific twists as fans and Izzy try to figure out what is going on.

Harriet Klausner

Babydoll-Allyson Roy

Allyson Roy
Berkley, Aug 2009, $14.00
ISBN: 9780425225509

Sex therapist Saylor Oz and her roommate Benita Morales are also BFF as they care about the wellbeing of each other and their respective families. When three models in the last three months are murdered, circumstantial evidence links Benita’s brother Angel to the homicides as the prime suspect. A jury finds him guilty and he is sent to Riker’s island waiting for transfer to Ossining. Oz and Benita believe Angel is innocent; Saylor vows to prove her assertion by finding the real killer.

Saylor recalls seeing a porno flick BABYDOLL in which Nikki Cumrite played the lead bad girl who killed three rivals, slicing off a piece of hair from each and placing it inside a coffee can. The therapist believes that if they can find the real actress who played the role of BABYDOLL, they might also find the killer. They work on learning Nikki’s real name and the investigation leads them to Darlene Kleppe, who vanished after the movie and left no paper trail. The buddies must find a way to get Kleppe to come to them instead of looking for a needle in the haystack; that is if you can find a haystack in Brooklyn where a tree might grow.

This exciting action-packed amateur sleuth over the top of the Brooklyn Bridge is loaded with danger and a lot of steamy sex. The BFF seem to leap from one crisis into another as they receive threats that specify Saylor as the next victim. Besides cut brake lines and high speed chases from a man with a gun and a man with a car trying to run them over, this is just another day or three in New York. BABYDOLL is a “Hot town, summer in the city” as Oz and Benita are not finding any spoonfuls of lovin as they are getting rundown and dirty from their inquiries into the underbelly of the fashion industry.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Everywhere She Turns-Debra Webb

Everywhere She Turns
Debra Webb
St. Martin’s, Jul 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780312532963

Dr. C.J. Patterson is a resident at a John Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. However, she goes home to Huntsville, Alabama for the funeral of her sister Shelley. Her sibling never escaped the street life of drugs and became a hooker to pay for her habit; and now she paid with her life as someone murdered Shelley.

C.J. vows to bring justice to her last known family member and believes the cops couldn’t care less about a dead prostitute. C.J. assumes Shelley’s pimp Ricky Banks killed her. She takes a medical position at a clinic so she can continue her inquiries. Huntsville police detective Braddock leads the official investigation, but believes Ricky’s boss Nash is behind the murder and much more. However, someone else is stalking the crime king as those associated with Nash are being killed; this person is considering widening the scope of the serial killing field to include the “bitch doctor”.

Adding to the externally dark gritty atmosphere that permeates the entire exhilarating whodunit is Huntsville, a city known for science especially space leaving the audience unprepared for a walk down the seedier side of town. The heroine is obstinate and driven with some guilt as she wonders if she could have dome something else to pull her sister from the streets. Fans will relish this one sitting chilling thriller as villains seem to own the city.

Harriet Klausner

Two of the Deadliest: New Tales of Lust, Greed, and Murder from Outstanding Women of Mystery

Two of the Deadliest: New Tales of Lust, Greed, and Murder from Outstanding Women of Mystery
Elizabeth George
Harper, Jul 21 2009, $25.99
ISBN: 9780061350337

The premise for this entertaining anthology is most crime focuses on two of the seven deadly sins: Lust and Greed with twenty-three contributions ranging the gamut of the crime caper environs. There are no clinkers, but some are super especially those that get to the point of lust and or greed right away while a few are only okay because they take too long to establish the premise or too short to explore the concept. Especially enjoyable is Marcia Talley's "Can You Hear Me Now", which will remind readers of a scene from Annie Hall with Marshal McLuhan, as an odious cell phone user who gets what he deserves. I am personally a sucker for stories containing late writers from long ago (though an overdone sub-genre) like Sherlock Holmes commentaries that enhance the strong entry by Linda Barnes as love hurts in “Catch Your Death" and Wendy Hornsby's “Violinist” virtuoso to Jack London. The best entry is “The Runaway Camel” by Barbara Fryer in which a lusting fan is stalked by a lusting fan. Also fascinating is Patricia Smiley’s “The Offer” in which a woman from the Pacific Northwest comes to Los Angeles to compete for a job that seems perfect until she learns too late the real price of relocation. Overall this is a superb look at lust and greed as seen through the eyes of the Outstanding Women of Mystery.

Harriet Klausner

Girls Just Wanna Have Guns-Toni McGee Causey

Girls Just Wanna Have Guns
Toni McGee Causey
St. Martin’s, Jul 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9780312358501

In Lake Charles, Louisiana, Bobbie Faye Sumrall's cousin Francesca Despré orders her to help her find missing diamonds that her eccentric mother, Marie buried before disappearing. Not wanting another “Very (Very, Very, Very) Bad Day”, and knowing her Cajun cousin is a drama queen, Bobbie Faye says no, but Francesca somewhat wins her over when she swears Marie's estranged husband Emile has put a hit out on her mom in the event the diamonds aren't returned.

Reluctantly and slower than a crab, Bobbie Faye steps into the mess only to be abducted before she can go under the ooze that always happens when she does a family reunion. FBI undercover agent Trevor Cormier is also interested in the diamonds and international thieves; he rescues Bobby Faye. Her former boyfriend local Police Detective Cameron Moreau investigates the shooting of a jeweler in which the evidence points towards Bobby Faye.

GIRLS JUST WANNA HAVE GUNS is a zany out of control Cajun crime caper that hooks the audience from the moment Francesca begs in her southern charming way that fails to move her cousin, but quickly switches to the DNA link between them. The story line is fast-paced and filled with alligators, swamps, and eccentrics who make for a fun read. However, it is Bobby Faye’s optimistic fortitude in the face of another Very (Very, Very, Very) Bad Day (make that a week) that has fans wanting more of her Lake Charles thrillers.

Harriet Klausner

Treasure of the Golden Cheetah-Suzanne Arruda

Treasure of the Golden Cheetah
Suzanne Arruda
Obsidian, Sep 2009, $24.95
ISBN: 9780451227898

She is known as the lioness Simba for her courage, honesty, strength and ability to get out of tough situations. Photojournalist Jade Del Cameron likes Africa and constantly risks her life for a story. In 1920 she is part of a safari that is heading towards Mt. Kilimanjaro with actors filming a movie on the treasures left by King Solomon’s son Melinek.

While she is doing a feature on the Hollywood group, she also considers Sam Featherstone’s marriage proposal. Jade loves Sam, but fears marriage will confine her as she knows he will want to keep her safe while she is a risk taker needing her freedom. The trek proves dangerous with people dying starting with the producer. The deaths initially look like tragic accidents until Jade finally concludes there is a predator amongst the safari. Doing her job, Jade knows she is caught in a precarious situation, but with her friend Jelani the healer and her pal Biscuit the cheetah, Jade vows to end the serial killing spree.

1920 Africa as always owns this fascinating amateur sleuth tale starring a brave heroine who marches to her own drummer. Jade is independent and tough but is also tender and caring. With a nod to Hemingway, the whodunit is fun, but the TREASURE OF THE GOLDEN CHEETAH is as much a great historical as it is a mystery.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, July 17, 2009

Alibi-Teri Woods

Teri Woods
Grand Central, Aug 6 2009, $21.99
ISBN: 9780446581691

In 1986 in Philadelphia, two punks believe they can rob the illegal drug stash of drug lord Simon Shuller. They capture one of the guards Poncho, but fail to take control of the man’s more violent partner Nard. When the dust clears Nard is the only person left breathing.

Nard pays twentyish African American stripper old Daisy Fothergill two thousand dollars to provide him with an alibi during the time of the deadly face-off. A witness informs the police that Nard killed the three men, but soon after telling his story to the cops that man is dead; a warning to others to keep their mouths’ shut. Meanwhile Daisy visits her mother, Abigail, but finds her dead from natural causes. Her windfall pays for her mom’s funeral. She becomes pregnant but her boyfriend Reggie Carter dumps her. Needing time to regroup, Daisy visits her aunt in Murfreesboro, Tennessee knowing she will have to face the music in Philadelphia soon.

This is a terrific crime caper starring an intriguing cast especially Nard (short for Bernard). He makes the story line work from the onset as he methodically cleans up the dead scene and establishes his alibi so that if any of the witnesses speak to the cops he has his counter testimony. Fans will appreciate Teri Woods’ strong thriller as the fascinating focus is on a unique anticipated High Noon with fans wondering whether the hit man will soar like a predatory eagle on its prey when Daisy returns to the city of Brotherly Love.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Hardball-Sara Paretsky

Sara Paretsky
Putnam, Sep 22 2009, $26.95
ISBN 9780399155932

In Chicago, private investigator V.I. “Vic” Warshawski searches for a black man, Lamont Gadsden, who was last seen in 1967. Her inquiry into Gadsden leads her to her father’s police peers. They send her to the prison where gang leader Johnny Merton is a guest of the state. She defended him when she was a lawyer so he cooperates.

She soon finds Steve Sawyer, who vanished soon after a murder conviction. Vic’s investigation has her dig deeper into a peaceful 1966 civil rights march led by Martin Luther King; whites rioted and black female Harmony Newsome was murdered. As she digs deeper, someone wants the notorious decade left interred and to insure Vic cooperates, the antagonist kidnaps her twentyish cousin Petra.

The latest Vic investigative tale is a terrific entry as the heroine makes inquiries into a period of deep de facto and de jure racism that led to riots and murder, but though buried four decades ago and we have come a long way, the taint still remains impacting today. The story line is fast-paced from the onset and never slows down as Vic’ cold case investigation leads to modern day issues and problems including danger from someone playing HARDBALL with her niece. Fans will enjoy Sara Paretsky’s strong Chicago joy ride back to the volatile sixties as seen through a current day lens.

Harriet Klausner

Child's Play-Carmen Posadas

Child's Play
Carmen Posadas
Harper, Aug 4 2009, $24.99
ISBN: 9780061583629

In a private school in Madrid four decades ago, Antonio Gasset drowns in the swimming pool. His twin brother Miguel never quite got over the final separation between them when they were just young students.

Now forty years later, Miguel meets his school-days’ friends, Sofia Marquez and Luisa Davila. Sofia teaches at the school they attended while her class includes her daughter Avril, Luisa's daughter Elba and Miguel's son Miki; all tweeners. Miguel is in a nasty custody battle with his fourth wife and Luisa has changed from children's writer to cerebral mysteries. When Miki dies falling down stairs at the school, the novelist begins seeing murderers lurking at every corners of the school; no different than how she felt when Antonio allegedly accidentally died.

With all that is going on, CHILD’S PLAY lacks suspense as the intriguing story line has more of a philosophical loquacity to it than an action thriller. The key cast members are fully developed, but are introspective even when they debate what happened then and what is occurring now. Well written with a harrowing profoundness that is not for everyone especially those readers who prefer action, Carmen Posades provides an interesting relationship drama in which the ties that bind the living are death.

Harriet Klausner

Spire-Richard North Patterson

Richard North Patterson
Holt, Aug. 2009, $26.00
ISBN 9780805087734

Football star Mark Darrow receives an athletic scholarship to play at Caldwell College in Wayne, Ohio. While there he discovers the corpse of African-American student Angela Hall. The police arrests Mark’s best friend Steve Tillman, who is convicted for murdering the coed.

While Mark goes on to law school and becomes a nationally prominent defense attorney, Steve remains in prison insisting he is innocent. Sixteen years since Angela was murdered, Caldwell College is in deep trouble over an embezzlement scandal of a just under a million dollar endowment. Desperate to save the college, Mark’s former mentor at the school and current Provost Professor Lionel Farr asks him to return as the school president so that alumni money does not stop. He agrees as a favor for his friend. However, he also looks into the embezzlement that got his predecessor in trouble and the homicide that has locked away his best friend. His efforts has some people wanting him stopped anyway they can even murder.

Fascinatingly the suspense is not driven by action, but by how deep Richard North Patterson enables his fans to know Mark; thus everything that he does or occurs to him is enhanced by him seeming like a relative or close friend. His escapades to learn the truth then and now places the hero in danger from someone who wants the facts to remain interred and if necessary inter the amateur sleuth. Fans will enjoy SPIRE simply because of the dedicated obstinate Mark, who is The Little Engine That Could (die).

Harriet Klausner

Cold Midnight-Joyce Lamb

Cold Midnight
Joyce Lamb
Berkley, Aug 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425230244

A decade ago, Kylie McKay had a promising career as a professional tennis player. That ended with an attack the destroyed her knee. Unable to remain in Kendal Falls, Florida, the distraught Kylie leaves.

Now ten years later, Kylie comes home to Kendall Falls as a new tennis facility is being constructed; however the digging leads to her cold assault case reopened with the finding of the bat used in that brutal attack. Detective Chase Manning, who loved Kylie before she left town breaking his heart, leads the investigation. As he begins to piece together a case against her half-brother Quinn, someone threatens to harm Kylie if she fails to leave town.

This is an intriguing mystery with a nod to the Harding-Kerrigan incident from several years ago. The story line is fast-paced and Kylie is a solid lead character who will receive reader empathy for what happened to her career and her current efforts to move on. The problem is Chase, who was a jerk a decade ago and to make up for his inability to be there for his beloved, he constantly apologizes at the same he holds a grudge against Kylie for leaving him; fans will think she needs to do it again. Still in spite of the cop COLD MIDNIGHT is an enjoyable romantic police procedural.

Harriet Klausner

Reclaim My Life-Cheryl Norman

Reclaim My Life
Cheryl Norman
Medallion, Sep 2009, $7.95
ISBN: 9781934755006

The English professor calling herself Elizabeth Stevens moved to Drake Springs in the upper part of Florida over a year ago. She is friends with recent arrivals Cathleen Hodge, Kris Knight and Sunny, they frequently get together and go out on the town. Elizabeth Stevens is not her birth name, but that became her name when she entered the witness protection program. There is a hit out for her by Lexington, Kentucky’s most renowned surgeon Dr. Frank Sullivan who is up on charges of racketeering and murder which Elizabeth as Sofia Desalvo witnessed; her testimony could lead to Death Row.

He hires the best to find and kill her, but that will not be easy as Elizbath has gained weight, dressed dowdy and cut her hair; she looks nothing like Sofia. Despite her changes, local sheriff Wilson Drake is interested in the drab looking professor and she feels the same though she lives a lie. She fears an assassin is in town searching for her when two of her friends are murdered. Wilson agrees that the killer has moved into Drake Springs. He vows to keep the woman he loves safe, but knows how difficult that will be as the town has numerous newcomers with almost any one of them there for the hit.

Cheryl Norman is a terrific romantic suspense writer whom sub-genre fans should keep an eye on as she is very talented. The heroine is strong willed and refuses to be RUNNING SCARED, but her key trait is her ability to adapt even to adversary and incredible levels of stress and guilt. Wilson knows there is much more to this mysterious woman who as dull Elizabeth still oozes Sofia’s charm and realizes she is in the witness protection program, which means he accidentally compromises her. RECLAIM MY LIFE is simply super.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Justice Game-Randy Singer

The Justice Game
Randy Singer
Tyndale, Jun 2009, $13.99
ISBN: 9781414316345

In Virginia Beach, Larry Jamison assaults the WDXR news station whose reporters were doing an investigative story on him; he executes anchor Manuel Sanchez and demands they go on the air and kills the reporter pregnant Rachel Crawford on live TV before the SWAT unit kills him. After the funeral, Rachel’s family sues the gun company MD Firearms who made the killer’s semi-automatic assault weapon.

The plaintiff lawyer is Kelly Starling while the defense is represented by Jason Noble. Bot are yuppies filled with ambition. They also worked at the same firm at one time and each has secrets that will derail their careers if revealed. Let the latest trial of the century begin with the media watching every move of the two legal teams and the judge.

This is an exciting Christian legal thriller that focuses on the legal adversaries Jason Noble and Kelly Starling as much as on the Second Amendment issues especially is a semi automatic assault weapon protected by the Constitution. The story line is very entertaining from the onset and never slows down as the cast is fully developed. Although the dysfunctional relationship between Jason and his father is fascinating, it is irrelevant to the bigger questions of the rights of man under the Constitution vs. the rights under God. Randy Singer once again affirms he is a leading voice on Christian Constitutional legal thrillers (see DIRECTED VERDICT and DYING DECLARATION).

Harriet Klausner

Civil Twilight-Susan Dunlap

Civil Twilight
Susan Dunlap
Counterpoint, Aug 2009, $25.00
ISBN: 9781582434520

In San Francisco lawyer Gary Lott persuades his stuntwoman sister Darcy to do him a favor; he asks her to occupy his client Karen Johnson while concealing what she does from their sibling John the cop. Though she has a zillion questions Darcy meets Karen, who says she is divorcing her spouse former football star Matt, but Gary is not a divorce lawyer.

Not long after her meeting with Darcy, Karen leaps from a high-rise building onto a freeway. Her suicide bewilders Darcy; so she investigates the woman. Darcy learns that Karen had numerous identities, but the one most stunning is that of Sonora Eades, who allegedly stabbed to death a noted cookbook author over a quarter of a century ago.

Zen Buddhism is the key to solving the murder, the suicide, the multiple identities and the key question of "How do you step off the hundred-foot pole?" Fans will enjoy seeing San Francisco through the eyes of the heroine as she brings her Buddhist perspective to landmarks. Brisk with a great final twisted confrontation to a terrific whodunit and a surprising killer, CIVIL TWILIGHT is a fabulous San Francisco treat.

Harriet Klausner

An Old Chaos-Sheila Simonson

An Old Chaos
Sheila Simonson
Perseverance press, Sep 2009, $14.95
ISBN: 9781880284995

Latouche County Sheriff Mack McCormick and his wife Beth moved into a McMansion on Prune Hill. They got a fabulous deal from developer Fred Drinkwater who made a substantial donation for Mack’s fifth term as sheriff. After dinner, Beth notices a crack on a wall going from top to bottom; she fixes it and does not give it another thought.

Police Officer Robert Neill’s cousin surveyed the site where the homes in Prune Hill are; his mentor classifies them as a Class II Landslide hazard Area. Drinkwater hires his own geologist to get the State to declare the location as Class III; the Board of Commissions approve. Rob warns the sheriff who ignores him. A couple of weeks later, the hill collapses, destroying the homes, killing the sheriff and others, and severely injuring many surviving residents. Drinkwater is found dead with the autopsy report ruling murder. The prevailing theory is that Drinkwater bribed someone to suppress the first assessment, but the most likely person to have done that is dead too. Rob struggles with investigating the tragedy that could have been prevented if avarice had not prevailed.

This terrific police procedural will resonate with readers as greed unchecked can go amuck. The culture of this small western Washington State county is a critical part of the tale as the tragedy impacts everyone including those living on the Klalos Reservation. The viewpoints change adding to the sadness as the characters before, during, and after the collapse make for a stirring intelligent story line.

Harriet Klausner

A Twisted Ladder- Rhodi Hawk

A Twisted Ladder
Rhodi Hawk
Forge, Sep 2009, $14.99
ISBN 9780765323736

Tulane University psychologist Dr. Madeleine LeBlanc has a personal interest in cognitive schizophrenia as her father “Daddy Blank” and her brother Marc suffered from the illness. Maddy has spent her medical career seeking the cause of the crippling disease and its prevention. Since her brother’s suicide while fishing on Bayou Black, she fears the disease will prove genetic.

Maddy is also afraid she might be schizophrenic or a schizoid psychotic when a “devil-child” visits her psychically. With help of Tulane neurologist Ethan Manderleigh, Maddy investigates her heritage especially on the family sugarcane plantation. However, instead of a better understanding of herself and her kin dating back to her nasty voodoo queen great-grandmother, she believes a childhood friend is a serial killer though she wonders if her conclusion is caused by her mental state rather than facts.

The fun in this exciting urban psychological suspense fantasy is the blending of voodoo with modern mental health research. The story line is refreshing due to those ties that connect in the soul of Maddy. She fears she will be a chip off the old block of her schizophrenic father or her nasty century plus old voodoo queen great-grandmother; either side is a genetic loser in Maddy’s mind as each lead to madness. With her only hope for survival rests in understanding her complete heritage, Maddy flashbacks to Prohibition New Orleans to comprehend Chloe’s salad days. Fans will enjoy the aptly titled A TWISTED LADDER as the heroine ponders nurturing vs. naturing with her DNA and her childhood tainted in this terrific refreshing character driven thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Ground Zero-F. Paul Wilson

Ground Zero
F. Paul Wilson
Tor, Sep 15 2009, $25.99
ISBN 9780765322814

On 9/11 a person in a boat in New York Harbor detonates explosives planted in the Twin Towers at about the same that al-Qaeda agents commit suicide by crashing airplanes into the two buildings. The boatman quietly escapes as the Towers collapse and the world blames al-Qaeda whose leadership also believes they did the dastardly deed.

Several years later, Eddie Connell asks Repairman Jack to find his missing sister Weezy, a forensic scientist who anonymously placed her brilliant 9/11 findings on the web. Jack locates Weezy in a hospital. She, and anyone trying to protect her, is in danger. Weezy found evidence of strange suspicious stock trading just prior to the World Trade Center destruction. Additionally, she shows to Jack that someone’s picture was deleted from photos of bin Laden and his top deputies. Soon Jack and the Connell siblings conclude the world is in peril perhaps from the Otherness or the adversary he dubs the One missing from the pictures.

Although fast-paced and filled with an apocalyptic 9/11 conspiracy subplot, the latest Repairman Jack thriller is saved from being grounded by Weezy’s key appearance (see JACK: SECRET HISTORIES). Filled with plenty of action, Jack struggles to keep Weezy safe while she continues her ingenious effort to solve the 9/11 puzzle. As Year Zero Minus One countdown continues, readers will enjoy GROUND ZERO, but mot quite as frightening as the other Minus entries perhaps because of the 9/11 connection in which reality was the chiller.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Damnable-Hank Schwaeble

Hank Schwaeble
Jove, Aug 25 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780515146912

The US Army trained Jake Hatcher to use enhanced extraction techniques to obtain information; the combat vet was good at this task and was rewarded by the military who sent him to prison for doing exactly what they trained him to do as a “rotten apple” grunt taking the fall when the program is exposed. He is freed from incarceration to attend the funeral of his brother though he never knew he had a brother until his sibling died. With a desperate need to know who Garrett was, why he never heard of him, and how he died, Jake investigates.

Jake learns how difficult it is to make inquiries into someone who more often than not lived in the shadows of the other side of the law. With what he has found out about Garrett, he finds it an anomaly that Garrett died trying to save the life of a woman. Unfamiliar with finesse investigative techniques as he was trained in harsh methods, Jake is a bull in a china shop that has two detectives deciding what to do about him. Meanwhile a wealthy psychopath gets his kicks slicing and dicing women and the eerie Carnates secret society of females each have reasons to silence the soul of the DAMNABLE Jake.

This is an exhilarating Noir as Jake makes inquiries into the brother he never knew existed until he attended the funeral. Fans will enjoy his wild exploits as he only knows one way to extract information, the Cheney method. However, the downside of his approach is not so much the quality of the extraction, but the noise he makes brings him to the attention of others who want him either dead or back in prison. The aptly titled DAMNABLE applies as that is surely what Jake is as two detectives, a society of women and a psychopath await to personally greet him.

Harriet Klausner

In the Guise of Mercy-Wendy Hornsby

In the Guise of Mercy
Wendy Hornsby
Perseverance Press, Sep 7 2009, $14.95
ISBN: 9781564744821

On Monday documentary editor Maggie MacGowan’s life changes forever because her beloved husband Los Angeles Police Detective Mike Flint killed himself rather than let cancer rot him to death. In his goodbye note to Maggie, Mike asks her to forgive him and to find out what happened to Jesus Ramon, a cold case that always haunted him.

A decade ago, Mike put the diminutive sixteen years old gangbanger drug dealing snitch in his car. When he drops the teen off, he disappears without a trace. Maggie begins to sleuth starting her inquiries with cops, gang members, drug dealers and users as she cannot say no to a dead man she loves. However, one person carefully observes her progress and when she begins to get close to the hidden secrets he conceals, he cuts her brake line.

Although one must wonder why Mike would knowingly endanger his surviving loved one instead of retiring and going out with one last glorious investigation as a civilian, fans will be hooked by this poignant amateur sleuth from the onset when Mike who lived life to the fullest and took charge of his life decides to take charge of his death too. Maggie understands why he committed suicide and honors his last wishes by investigating the disappearance of Jesus. Her inquiry is brilliantly done step by step though she makes missteps along the way. Wendy Hornsby makes an emotional case that the pursuit of life, liberty and happiness also by its denotation also includes the ability to choose death in this strong inspirational but mentally draining tale.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, July 13, 2009

Larceny and Lace-Annette Blair

Larceny and Lace
Annette Blair
Berkley, Aug. 4, 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425229118

She originally came to Mystick Falls, Connecticut for her sister’s wedding (see A Veiled Deception) that turned ugly with the homicide of the groom’s mother. However she has remained in the picturesque small town thanks to her centenarian friend Dolly Sweet giving her a building to house her new business. Madeira "Mad" Cutler knows the renovations from the Underhill Funeral Chapel carriage house is almost complete and in two weeks she will open the doors to Vintage Magic, a dress shop with historical classics and originals.

The construction crew has just left the facility when Maddie hears a noise; the intruder escapes and her spirited resident Dante the ghost says the person is male, but has no idea who he is. An arson set blaze destroys the historical playhouse across the street from Vintage Magic. While Maddie was there, her invader returned stealing the three decade old bones wrapped in a quilt and hidden in a drawer. Detective Sergeant Lytton Werner tells Maddie to stay out of his investigation and calls her shop a crime scene. However between Dante’s tips and her psychometric skill to see things that occurred by touching them, she tries to piece together what happened before the Halloween grand opening. Aunt Fiona, chairman of the Southeast Connecticut Chapter of the White Star Circle of Spirit arrives to help or hinder depending on who you ask at a time someone wants her dead with Dante, her best friend Eve, and Lytton trying to prevent her death.

The second Vintage Magic mystery (see A VEILED DECEPTION) is a wonderful investigative tale that will have armchair readers spellbound trying to solve the case before Maddie can. The inquiry enables the audience to learn more about the heroine’s family especially her father and aunt, as well as her BFF. With whimsy, humor and Dante to round out the magic, fans will enjoy this entertaining paranormal amateur sleuth while wondering if Lytton will become the latest cop bewitched by Mad Maddie.

Harriet Klausner

The Hidden Man-David Ellis

The Hidden Man
David Ellis
Putnam, Sep 2009, $25.95
ISBN: 9780399155796

In 1980, someone abducted two-year-old Audrey Cutler from her bedroom. Her stunned mother held her seven year old son Sammy tight as if she will never let him go. The police question sexual offender Perlini, but the evidence was not there.

In 2006 Sammy runs into Perlini. Soon afterward the prime suspect in the kidnapping and murder of Audrey is dead. The police arrest Sammy. His high school crony defense attorney Jason Kolarich is hired to defend Sammy. However, the fee for his services comes from an unknown M. Smith who wants a speedy trial and the lawyer believes his defeat as he is told how his client is to plea. Still reeling from the deaths of his wife and daughter in a car accident, Jason tries his best. His inquiry leads to a mass grave of children, but instead of euphoria, his client’s financial backers abduct Jason’s brother threatening to kill him if the attorney uncovers any other revelations.

This is a terrific legal thriller starring a dedicated attorney who wants to do his best by his client regardless of who is paying for the defense or his own issues. The story line is fast-paced from the onset as armchair lawyers will root for and read in one sitting Jason’s efforts to mount a viable defense. Fans will enjoy Jason’s idealistic attempts to defend Sammy especially after his sibling is kidnapped. David Ellis has a winner in Jason Kolarich.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Burn-Linda Howard

Linda Howard
Ballantine, Jul 2009, $26.00
ISBN: 9780345486561

Seven years ago Jenner Redwine dumped her mooching boyfriend just before she won the lottery. She thought her luck had changed for the good, but soon learned otherwise as her father steals from her and her friends demand she pay for their comfort. She soon has no family or friends; as everyone wants a piece of the action. She makes one new buddy who is uninterested in her buying her things, but offers her advice on money management as only a caring heiress could. Sydney Hazlett and Jenner Redwine become “sisters”.

Sydney persuades reluctant Jenner to join her on a charity voyage of the luxurious Silver Mist. However, instead of the Love Boat as she anticipated, Jenner finds herself starring in Under Siege when Sydney is abducted. At the same time, security expert Cael Traylor tries to learn what stunt the liner’s owner Frank Larkin is scamming. He persuades a frightened but outraged Jenner to let him use her cabin to learn more about Frank’s scheme that involved Syd, Jen and other wealthy people. Jenner is also angry at herself for her attraction to the undercover agent who wants her but saving Syd, keeping Jen safe, and taking down Larkin comes before his needs.

This is an amusing romantic suspense thriller filled with plenty of high seas action. The story line is fast-paced from the moment that Cael takes over Jenner’s cabin and never slows down as the mouse that roars becomes more than just a formidable partner as she takes over his heart. Fans will enjoy the spins and twists of who kidnaps who as Linda Howard is at her best with this enjoyable jocular thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Cornered-Brandon Massey

Brandon Massey
Pinnacle, Aug 4 2009, $6.99
ISBN 9780786020850

In Atlanta Corey Webb is the poster boy for living the American dream as he runs a successful business has a beautiful caring wife Simone and an adoring precocious nine years old daughter Jada. His perfect world collapses when he runs into his childhood friend from Detroit Leon Sharpe who is maliciously staring at Jada.

On the run from the FBI, Sharpe demands Webb pays for his silence or he will reveal their past associations in Motown. Already on the Ten Most Wanted List, he also threatens Webb’s family. Willing to pay the blackmail fee, but not at the cost of his beloved wife and daughter, Webb knows he must find a way to extract his family from Sharpe’s deadly entanglement.

That initial encounter on the Atlanta streets is a terrific opening to a fast-paced thriller as Webb’s roots come back to entangle him in a deadly scenario. Character driven mostly by the lead pair but nicely supported by Webb’s family and others, fans will be excited by the hero’s compelling ordeal as the code of the street was DON’T EVER TELL. Exciting and fun in spite of the unlikely circumstances and happenstance making plausibility slight, fans will enjoy this fine family crime caper.

Harriet Klausner

Dust To Dust-Beverly Connor

Dust To Dust
Beverly Connor
Obsidian, Aug 4 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780451227683

The RiverTrail Museum of Natural History consulting archaeologist, Barnum University Adjunct Professor Dr. Marcella Payden is shaken up when she is attacked. The museum’s director and the head of the Rosewood Crime Lab Diane Fallon and her unit work the assault scene along with Detective Hanks and a uniform when bullets are fired at them. When the dust settles, and the perpetrators are gone for the second time with paintings and pottery stolen whatever is gone is not worth the risk of the second assault.

Former FBI profiler Ross Kingsley visits Diane to ask a favor. He tells her he no longer believes in profiling after the BTK case and a serial rape case he worked. Instead he works for Florida based Darley, Dunn and Upsahw as a private investigator; currently doing a pro bono action. Nine years ago Ryan Dance was given a life sentence for murdering fifteen year old Ellie Rose Carruthers. His younger sister Stephanie believed he was innocent and tried to prove it. Last week the obstinate twenty-three year old was found dead; the cops claim autoerotic asphyxiation as the case. Her father believes she found the proof and was murdered for it. Ross shows Diane a photo of the death scene and the forensic expert begins to make a case that murder occurred.

The latest Diane Fallon investigation (see SCATTERED GRAVES) is a super entry with two strong diverse cases; most fascinating is the refreshing knot forensics spin that shows when readers think they’ve read or seen everything, something new surfaces. Diane is at her best as she uncovers secrets buried in the dust that those who concealed them thought would be blown away by the wind. This is a great forensics investigative thriller due to a strong cast working complex cases, but especially the super look at criminal science will have the audience profiling Beverly Connor as one of the top mystery writers.

Harriet Klausner

Working Stiff-Annelise Ryan

Working Stiff
Annelise Ryan
Kensington, Aug 25 2009, $22.00
ISBN: 075823452X

She thought she had the perfect marriage and perfect job working at the same hospital as her husband Dr. David Winston as he was a surgeon and she is a surgeon’s nurse. However Mattie Winston’s world collapsed when she caught him with another nurse Karen Owenby. Without a word, she rushes home, packs her bags, and visits her best friend medical examiner Izzy, who gives her a home in his guest cottage and hires her; training her to be a deputy coroner.

When Mattie learns that Karen is at the home she once shared with David, she cannot stop herself from peaking through a window. What she observes horrifies her as the pair argues heatedly until David throttles her. Later that same night, Izzy and Mattie are called to a homicide scene where a female corpse has two bullets in her head. The victim is Karen. Suspicion falls rightfully on David, but though she is angry and acrimonious with him and knows what she saw at their house, Mattie refuses to believe he would kill anyone. A second murder implicates David further as Detective Steve Hurley finds evidence hanging Mattie's soon to be ex at a time the cop and the trainee are attracted to one another and he realizes she should be a prime suspect as a betrayed wife.

The story line is fast-paced from the moment that Mattie realizes her spouse is a womanizing cheat, but not a killer and never slows down as the heroine risks her life (to the chagrin of her boss and the detective) to catch the culprit. Fascinatingly though she is a WORKING STIFF as an apprentice deputy coroner, the enjoyable story line reads in may ways like an amateur sleuth as she has little experience on homicide investigations. Fans will enjoy Annelise Ryan’s fun investigative tale, the opening act of a new series.
Harriet Klausner

Friday, July 10, 2009

Pitch Black-Leslie Parrish

Pitch Black
Leslie Parrish
Signet, Aug 20009, $6.99
ISBN: 9780451227713

FBI profiler Alec Lambert nearly died during the Professor serial killer undercover operation that turned deadly. She was exiled for the lethal failure as someone has to take the hit within the bureau and she agreed with the assessment that her unit has failed to catch this serial killer for years.

However, instead of her career dying with the blotched Professor case, Wyatt Blackstone brings Alec onto his BLACK Cats FBI cyber crime unit. Her first assignment on her new squad: the Professor serial killer who has stayed current on technology and now uses the Internet to find and lure his victims into his deadly web. Alec’s partner is reclusive scam expert Samantha Dalton who is the agency’s best bet to identify the Professor. As Alec pursues the killer and his partner, the Professor pursues Alec’s partner targeting Sam as a victim while Sam struggles with her attraction to her partner and her fascination with the Professor who has fisted on making her his next valedictorian.

The sequel to FADE TO BLACK is a terrific FBI police procedural romantic suspense starring two broken winged heroes and a brilliant diabolical villain with a heart that’s cold The story line is fast-paced from the onset with its failed operation until the finish as the killer seems to constantly trump the Feds. Although serial killers have become a staple (see Untraceable) fans will enjoy the second Black CATs thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Pitch Black-Leslie Parrish

Pitch Black
Leslie Parrish
Signet, Aug 20009, $6.99
ISBN: 9780451227713

FBI profiler Alec Lambert nearly died during the Professor serial killer undercover operation that turned deadly. She was exiled for the lethal failure as someone has to take the hit within the bureau and she agreed with the assessment that her unit has failed to catch this serial killer for years.

However, instead of her career dying with the blotched Professor case, Wyatt Blackstone brings Alec onto his BLACK Cats FBI cyber crime unit. Her first assignment on her new squad: the Professor serial killer who has stayed current on technology and now uses the Internet to find and lure his victims into his deadly web. Alec’s partner is reclusive scam expert Samantha Dalton who is the agency’s best bet to identify the Professor. As Alec pursues the killer and his partner, the Professor pursues Alec’s partner targeting Sam as a victim while Sam struggles with her attraction to her partner and her fascination with the Professor who has fisted on making her his next valedictorian.

The sequel to FADE TO BLACK is a terrific FBI police procedural romantic suspense starring two broken winged heroes and a brilliant diabolical villain with a heart that’s cold The story line is fast-paced from the onset with its failed operation until the finish as the killer seems to constantly trump the Feds. Although serial killers have become a staple (see Untraceable) fans will enjoy the second Black CATs thriller.

Harriet Klausner