Friday, April 30, 2010

Intercept-Patrick Robinson

Patrick Robinson
Vanguard, May 11 2010, $25.95
ISBN: 9781593155841

The two Western educated childhood friends became al-Qaeda terrorists killing military and civilians until Ibrahim Sharif and Yousaf Mohammed were captured by US Navy SEAL Team 10 in a small village in the Hindu Kush mountain region of Afghan. They were taken to Guantomino Bay where they were held prisoners but refused to cooperate; not even providing their names to the military tribunal.

A few years later, the court system demands habeas corpus applies to the detainees. With Saudi money to buy Epstein’s law firm, the two terrorists and two other cohorts are free. However, neither the law firm nor the terrorists realizes that the CIA and Mossad are tracking them. The quartet plots an act at a school in Connecticut with plans after that to return to the Hindu Kush for further activity against the hated west. Retired Navy SEAL Lieutenant Commander Mack Bedford, who led the first sweep that captured the pair, leads another operation against them with deadly force not just authorized but required.

This is an exciting action packed thriller as Bedford returns to active duty to go after the same terrorists he caught the last time he was in Afghanistan. The story line is fast-paced throughout, but also has an accusatory tone blaming liberals and leftists for being soft on terrorism and arguing to keep Gitmo open. These premises ignore that a right wing administration took its eye off al Qaeda and that the courts system has locked away in federal pens some nasty terrorists; none of whom have escaped. Still readers will be hooked from the moment that the espionage agency Intercept the electronic traffic as Bin Laden and the CIA-Mossad agents know the importance of Yousaf and Sharif.

Harriet Klausner

Vicious-Kevin O’Brien

Kevin O’Brien
Pinnacle, May 25 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780786021369

For over two years in the Seattle area, the “Mama's Boy” kidnapped and killed mothers while the children were left where he kidnapped the mothers and left the child some battered toys. The police never found him and never could explain why he abruptly stopped.

Widow Susan Blanchette whose husband and older son were killed, drives with her four year old boy Matthew to meet her fiancĂ© medical supply salesman Allen Meker in Cullen, Washington. Allen, who adores Susan and cares about her toddler, has a great weekend planned for them. When they reach the place he rented, Susan believes there is a prowler, but Allen sees no one. While at a store, Jordan Prewitt, whose mom was killed by the Mama’s Boy, kidnaps Allen. He intends to torture the man until he confesses he is the serial killer. While Susan searches for Allen, two psychopaths hijack her.

Kevin O’Brien provides an intense, perhaps too emotional, but electrifying thriller. Several characters share the lead including the three above and Jordan’s friend Les while a strong support cast enhance the growing tension. The key to the plot is the reader keeps changing his or her mind as to who the killer is although that is a two edged as at times because needless subplots that adds nothing is applied to trick the audience to go down a sidebar. Still with terrific twists, fans will wonder who the Mama’s Boy serial killer is.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Sex, Lies And Secret Lives-Thea Devine

Sex, Lies And Secret Lives
Thea Devine
Gallery, Apr 27 2010, $14.00
ISBN: 9781416562658

Twin sisters Jillian and Justine Durant always knew they could depend on only each other during a traumatic childhood. They even set up their own SOS “Just in time” as a safety survival mechanism. As adults they moved beyond their harrowing youth in radically different ways; but shared in common a deep belief that neither would ever accept poverty again.

In the middle of the night the text fail safe message arrives from Jillian to Justine after the former sees her last lover Oliver Bayard on CNN, a murder victim. Knowing her twin needs her, Justine leaves her research job to insure her sibling is okay, but Jillian is missing. Justine quickly learns her globetrotting model sister uses the name Justine Dare as a paid companion to the affluent. Desperate she masquerades as her sibling after a wealthy customer arrives at her sister’s place and assumes Justine is Jillian. The men keep coming like Zach, but who is an ally is and who is the enemy is remains elusive while Justine as Jillian searches for her missing twin.

Twins switching in a romantic suspense tale is not a new device (see Switch by Sandra Brown) although Thea Devine somewhat refreshes the plot by having one sibling disappear though that has been deployed less frequently (see Double Take by Brenda Joyce). The story line is fast-paced with plenty of sexual encounters, although the characters are not that deeply developed but Justine gets deep into the role of Jillian while researching her sister’s disappearance. Fans will enjoy the ultra heated aptly titled Sex, Lies, and Secret lives.

Harriet Klausner

The Rule of Nine-Steve Martini

The Rule of Nine
Steve Martini
Morrow, Jun 1 2010, $26.99
ISBN: 9780062008534

The events in nearby Coronado are nuked into every cell of his brain as San Diego based attorney Paul Madriani still reels from the near tragedy (see Guardian of Lies). The near nuclear disaster has him looking at the bigger picture of terrorism. The FBI warns Madriani to keep his mouth shut or face a lifetime locked away in a place he never heard of under the Patriot Act enforcement. On the other hand weapons expert Joselyn Cole demands he go public so a repeat can be averted.

While Madriani struggles with coping and what to do, an aging 1960s radical believes the time has come to destroy the DC right wing government-industrial complex. This former member of the Students for a Democratic Society expects to die like a Middle Eastern suicide bomber and unlike the cowardly western right wing terrorists who kill people from a safe distance. The plan will make 9/11 look like a minor incident and the first deadly steps come from the American right wing form of terrorism.

The Feds tie Madriani to a murder of a DC staffer as law enforcement believes "the Mexicutioner" Liquida assassin is the killer. Madriani rusticates with his family as he and Cole fear the Feds are missing the big picture again as they believe two insane murderers, the ancient Weatherman and the Mexicutioner have joined forces in what apparently involves the mysterious deadly “Rule of Nine" gamut.

This is an exciting over the top of the Washington Monument thriller that grips the audience from the onset and never let’s go until the final dramatic confrontation. The story line is action, action, and more action that will have Madriani fans salivating for another superheavyweight bout starring the Southern California lawyer and his sidekick Cole vs. archenemy Liquida; that is if everyone rides away from this round.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, April 26, 2010

Line Of Fire-Jo Davis

Line Of Fire
Jo Davis
Signet, May 4 2010, $6.99
ISBN: 9780451229786

When his brother a marine died in combat, University of Alabama All American quarterback Tommy Skyler quit playing football though he had a promising pro career. Instead as homage to his late sibling he decided to become a first responder so he joined the fire department. He is assigned to work at Station Five.

Tommy is attracted to nurse Shea Ford, an older woman who rejects his forward pass attempts as she feels he is too young for her. When he is injured during a high story scaffolding rescue mission, they meet up at the hospital. She shocks him when she agrees to go out with him. She enjoys her time with Tommy and him with her. However, after suffering another on the job injury at a warehouse fire caused by an arsonist, Tommy ends their relationship upsetting Shea who has fallen in love with the younger firefighter. Depressed as his second career firefighting appears over but also missing the woman he loves, Tommy begins to believe someone wants to end his relationship with Shea and collateral deaths are acceptable

The latest Firefighters of Station Five (see Under Fire and Hidden Fire) romantic suspense is loaded with plenty of action as the heroic first responders fight fires, investigate arson, and mount rescues. The return of recurring firefighters and their loved ones add to the sense of danger as each risk their lives. The lead couple is a likable pairing, but the age issue is never delved into beyond Shea’s rationale not to date Tommy. Still, fans of the Station Five saga will enjoy the exciting Line of Fire.

Harriet Klausner

Fade to Midnight-Shannon McKenna

Fade to Midnight
Shannon McKenna
Kensington Brava, Jun 1 2010, $20.95
ISBN 9780758228659

For almost two decades, everyone who knew Kevin McCloud had thought he was dead. Even his three brothers have all but given up hope. However, instead of dying he suffered a traumatic injury from being tortured that included total amnesia.

Preventing a drowning leads him to emergency brain surgery. As a consequence, his memory has recently started to return. Kevin Larson is the name Kevin McCloud has used since the brutal torturous beating. He begins to piece back what happened to him eighteen years ago and before. He recalls the mind control work of insane scientist Christopher Osterman, but has not figured out his link. He learns the man is dead, but his associates try to draw Kevin back into their evil mind controlling scheme. As he struggles to remember he meets graphic novelist Edie Parrish at her book signing. She has a past with Osterman and McCloud, as she is convinced the former is the supervillain and the latter the superhero prototypes of her graphic novels.

The latest McCloud brother action-packed thriller is character driven by Kevin whose memory recall triggers the story line. Fast-paced from start to finish with intriguing unexpected twists, Fade to Midnight is a strong McCloud entry that series fans will relish. However, new readers will find references difficult to assimilate so should peruse the previous tales in the saga (see Edge of Midnight, Behind Closed Doors and Standing in the Shadows)

Harriet Klausner

Rock Paper Tiger-Lisa Brackmann

Rock Paper Tiger
Lisa Brackmann
Soho, Jun 1 2010, $25.00
ISBN 9781569476406

Iraq War combat medic veteran Ellie Cooper suffers from post traumatic stress disorder following her theatre tours of duty. Currently she is in Beijing trying to figure out what next as she hangs around the growing art world. Also in China is her former Army interrogator husband private security consultant Trey who recently dumped her. She has replaced Trey with artist Lao Zhang and Percocet but neither helps her forget Iraq or Trey.

Zhang accompanies an unidentified person until they vanish, American and Chinese officials wonder where they went. Each nation looks deeply at Ellie because of her relationship with the missing Zhang. Forced on the run, Ellie eludes cops, suits, and thugs while gathering information on line through a multiplayer game from Zhang's friends.

This is an exciting China thriller starring a resilient kick butt heroine who readers will admire for her courage. The Chinese subplot is action-packed as Ellie takes readers on an exhilarating tour. The back story of what she and Trey was directed to do in Iraq is harrowing and heartbreaking. Mixed together nicely by excellent Ellie, the two subplots make for a terrific brisk thriller that brings China alive

Harriet Klausner

Forbidden Fruit-Kerry Greenwood

Forbidden Fruit
Kerry Greenwood
Poisoned Pen, Jun 1 2010, $24.95
ISBN: 9781590587386

In Melbourne, while everyone seems to prepare for Christmas, Corinna Chapman says bah humbug to the holiday and to the heat gripping the city. However though she prefers to leave town, she and her assistant baker Jason get to work as the customers of Earthly Delights will be arriving soon.

Meanwhile her boyfriend private investigator Daniel follows clues as he seeks two teen runaways. Late trimester Pregnant Brigid has fled her family with the help of Manny. He is helping her run from her family, who has been keeping her captive as part of the religious sect they belong to. Corinna assists Daniel as he search searches to no avail. The teenagers trust no one since Brigid’s so called loved ones and their religious affiliation kept her incarcerated in their home. Then there are the enigmatic suits who seem everywhere the sleuth and baker are, but reveal nothing especially why they diligently seem to be after Brigid or Manny.

With help from an eccentric crew to include his energetic girlfriend the baker, Daniel searches for the missing teens. The tone is set with a cast like Meroe the witch and Serena the donut eating donkey enabling the audience to see deep inside to the heart of the caring heroine. Readers will enjoy this entertaining investigative entry and its Aussie predecessors (see Trick or Treat) filled with food and sleuthing as eccentricity led by witty Corrine seems to be the wave in Melbourne.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Strong Justice-Jon Land

Strong Justice
Jon Land
Forge, Jun 22 2010, $24.99
ISBN: 9780765323361

Caitlin Strong knows that being a Texas Ranger is part of her DNA. She is the fifth generation of her ancestry to serve. Her current inquiry deals with the illegal selling of Mexican girls as sex slaves mostly to wealthy Americans although she takes a side trip causing a mess to clean up a bigger mess in El Paso.

Law enforcement on both sides wants nothing to do with the deadly traffickers; rationalizing these girls are better off anyway. Instead Caitlin whose gonads are considered by her compatriots and superiors as the biggest in Tex-Mex border law enforcement finds an ally in outlaw Cort Wesley Masters. They also follow leads of a nasty serial killer working the uncontrolled border. Finally the clues take them to Sweetwater, the place where her grandfather during the Depression fought his version of a last stand; and Pearsall where water has made the town into a war zone and Cort an outlaw.

This may be the most complicated and convoluted police procedural of the year as the body bag industry is booming due to the homicides that depopulate most of the myriad of subplots. Jon Land affirms his strong skills as he is able to keep each subplot running smoothly and actually have an additional one re the attraction between the ranger (see Strong Enough to Die for her previous tale) and the outlaw. With ghosts from the past of both leads smoking up storms, fans will appreciate this complex thriller that focuses on the violence and economics of the Tex-Mex trading in guns, drugs, and girls (who do you think employs illegals in Arizona).

Harriet Klausner

Without Hesitation-Mark Rosendorf

Without Hesitation
Mark Rosendorf
L&L Dreamspell, Feb 2010, $17.95
ISBN: 9781603182126

After the mercenary Duke Organization liberated her from Brookhill Children's Psychiatric residence leaving behind a trail of corpses, Clara Blue felt she finally had a family who accepted her. Then that punk mercenary Jake Scarberry took them down killing her hero Rick Rasner (see The Rasner Effect). Now she is back at Brookhill and still hating the joint, but her attempts to escape fail. Instead she increasingly becomes delusional as she spends her time in the padded cells.

While Jake works as a bouncer, Rasner’s co-leader and girlfriend, Jennifer Duke, daughter of the founder of whom she and her dead lover killed, arrives at Brookhill. Clara feels Jennifer has come to take her out of the zoo, but instead the woman accepts a job as a therapist and begins to arm the inmates while encouraging her mentee to avenge those who harmed her in her second stint. Jennifer obsesses over one goal: to kill Jake. So a a second bloodbath occurs she demands he be sent inside Brookhill. Although a civilian, Jake readily agrees as the Duke Organization killed his brother years ago so sending one more to hell is all the motivator he needs.

This is an exhilarating action-packed blood and gore thriller that never stops for a moment until the final confrontation. As in the first tale, fans will root for the hero while looking forward to the High Noon war of revenge between Jake and Jennifer as much of the fascination is how similar their needs are though hey are adversaries who loathe each other. With a strong cast especially inside the facility and once again with a nod to Clockwork Orange, fans will relish the return to Pennsylvania while newcomers will want to know what the deadly Rasner Effect was.

Harriet Klausner

Whiplash-Catherine Coulter

Catherine Coulter
Putnam, Jun 15 2010, $26.95
ISBN: 9780399156533

Yale Professor Edward Kender has colon cancer in which the drug Culovort he receives as part of his treatment seems to be working when he is informed production by German firm Schiffer Hartwin is nonexistent. Stunned he assumes the pharmaceutical industry is playing death squad to drum up profits. He hires private investigator Erin Pulaski to make an inquiry into the firm. She breaks in and enters the head office of the American subsidiary in Stone Bridge, Connecticut in order to hack into the files of the local CEO Caskie Royal. She finds info on plans to stop the Cartwright Labs in Bartonville, Missouri from manufacturing the drug; as well as stopping it in Spain in favor of a French firm Labortoires Anconder’s drug Eloxium. However, Royal and production manager Carla Alvarez arrive and discuss what they are doing with the firm and then have sex..

The next day she learns that the firm’s troubleshooter was murdered near where she downloaded computer data that made no sense to her. Meanwhile, the FBI sends married couple Agents Sherlock and Savich to Stone Bridge to assist FBI agent Bowie Richards with the homicide. They begin to find troubles with the pharmaceutical company while Pulaski wonders what to do with her illegal download; Pulaski becomes their prime suspect. Savich also investigates the poisoning of a lobbyist whose real target may have been aimed at a US Senator.

This is a great timely entry in the long running S&S FBI police procedural series due to the pharmaceutical connection as much as the freshness brought forth by Richards and more so by Erin who knows her B&E was stupid but felt strongly that they needed to expose true death squad bottom lines. Fast-paced from the onset, the second case takes somewhat of a back seat though it is well written and quite exciting too. Fans of the series will relish this strong entry while newcomers will find Whiplash a winner too.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Death Echo-Elizabeth Lowell

Death Echo
Elizabeth Lowell
Morrow, Jun 8 2010, $24.99
ISBN: 9780061629754

She left her field CIA work for what she assumed would be a much safer position. Thus former agent Emma Cross now works at St. Kilda Consulting in what has to be an easier job than being caught in the crossfire of tribal combat as she previously was.

St. Kilda looks into a simple incident of a vanished yacht the Black Swan that probably was stolen. The mission is to get on board the Black Swan’s identical twin Blackbird as the insurance company thinks the second vessel is actually the missing ship. Emma and former special op officer Mackenzie Durand are in charge of the assignment. He trusts no one as he believes the CIA betrayed his team on a dangerous mission five years ago in which he was the only survivor. In spite of his attraction to his partner, he prefers going alone as no one has his back. Still as he takes control of the Blackbird, Emma must overcome her instincts of also distrusting everyone if she is to learn what is going on; neither expected to fall in love or be back in the CIA’s deadly outreach.

Death Echo is an action-packed romantic suspense espionage thriller that remains at an incredibly high speed yet enables the audience to understand what motivates the powerful distrust in the two lead characters. That pairing of two classic misanthropic skeptics whose similar pasts come back full throttle makes for a taut St. Kilda thriller (see Blue Smoke and Murder, and The Wrong Hostage).

Harriet Klausner

Broken-Karin Slaughter

Karin Slaughter
Delacorte, Jun 22 2010, $26.00
ISBN: 9780385341974

Four years ago, in Heartsdale, Grant County’s popular police chief Tolliver was murdered; the case remains unsolved. His widow Dr. Sara Linton was the county coroner and ran a children’s clinic, but left after her spouse died. She is back in town visiting her family on Thanksgiving yet is still thirsting for her husband’s homicide to be resolved although she is positive that Officer Lena Adams is at the center of her husband’s homicide.

At the same time, Special Agent Will Trent is also in Grant County to investigate a questionable death oif a prisoner. Not surprising, he finds the local police officers circling the wagons protecting each other form the intruder. Will concludes that Police Officer Lena Adams is concealing something, but is not sure what or why. As he struggles with the uncooperative cops, he is taken aback when Dr. Linton asks him to look into her husband’s murder, a cold case. Trent is being pulled by two women in opposite directions of the Blue Line that keeps him outside in spite of being law enforcement too.

This is an intriguing Grant County thriller (see Faithless, Undone and Blindsided) as Will instead of Sara holds the story line together with two females yanking him in opposite directions. The insightful look at the learning disorder agraphia augments the taut tale as it showcases how an individual learns to conceal a problem with some form of over compensation. In a starring role, Will brings freshness to the plot as he investigates two deaths that cast the Grants County Police Office in a shroud of darkness.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, April 23, 2010

The Poet Prince-Kathleen McGowan

The Poet Prince
Kathleen McGowan
Touchstone, May 25 2010, $25.99
ISBN 9780743299985

Researcher Maureen Paschal has diligently probed the “Confraternity of Saint Mary Magdalen”. She finds some racy information referencing the Libro Rosso and the Order of the Holy Sepulcher. After learning this she heads to Florence to follow up with Destino, her ancient teacher.

Destino explains to his favorite student that much is known about The Poet Prince Lorenzo de Medici as he was the guiding light in the Renaissance. However, even more is unknown. Lorenzo secretly married Lucrezia “the Colombina” Donati, who was a star model of Botticelli. As she learns more about de Medici, Maureen also becomes heartbroken when she learns a former lover of her beloved Scottish oil mogul Berenger Sinclair accuses him of siring her baby at a time the duet were researching his family links back to de Medici and further back to Roman Longinus Gaius, who used the infamous Spear of Destiny to stab Jesus on the cross.

The third Magdalene Line thriller is an enticing gripping but somewhat convoluted tale as Maureen struggles with what she has learned about her beloved: a modern day Poet Prince. The heroine also begins to believe she knows who Gaius, doomed to walk the earth for eternity, is. Fans of the saga will relish this enthralling entry while newcomers should start with the previous two entries (see The Book of Love and The Expected One) for a better understanding of the increasingly complex McGowan Magdalene mythos.

Harriet Klausner

Supreme Justice- Phillip Margolin

Supreme Justice
Phillip Margolin
Harper, May 18 2010, $25.99
ISBN 9780061926518

In Oregon, former cop Sarah Woodruff is on death row having been convicted of killing her lover, John Finley. Her appeals are running out with her last chance being the Supreme Court. Her lawyer has filed the papers to get a delay and a hearing.

However, there are those who do not want her plea to go before the highest court because most likely criminal activity inside the CIA will be revealed. A vacancy enables the behind scenes operatives to reject her request for a hearing. However, to anchor this position, the assassination of a justice is ordered. Private investigator Dana Cutler and law clerk Brad Miller are in the middle of preventing a Beltway murder from happening.

The latest Cutler-Miller DC thriller (see Executive Privilege) is an ultra fast-paced tale that hooks the audience with a need to know the identity of the conspirator(s) as another Oregon death row case has ties across the country. Although much of the cast, especially the DC crowd is stereotyped out of headlines news, readers will appreciate the latest Oregonian-Beltway hook up. A Pacific Northwest private investigator and legal clerk try to prevent a travesty orchestrated on the other side of the country from happening.

Harriet Klausner

Under The Eye Of Kali-Susan Oleksiw

Under The Eye Of Kali
Susan Oleksiw
Five Star, May 19 2010, $25.95
ISBN: 9781594148712

Kovalam, India is a popular tourist town as people come from around the world to visit sites like the Balabhadrakali Temple. American Anita Ray stays in the city not to sightsee, but to help her Auntie Meena run her eight-room Hotel Delite.

One of the guests, middle aged American Jean, vanishes on the same night her friend Marge is taken to the Anandabudhi Hospital after she contracts food poisoning at the Bamboo Village restaurant where Anita and her Brahmin boyfriend Anand also dined. Other guests ignore the duet as they go about their itineraries. Pam plans to visit the Suchindram Temple; Candy treks to Trivandrum; Emily wants to know more about Kali. However, Anita is concerned about Jean, who illegally was going to bring medical supplies into Myanmar. Deciding to investigate, she asks youthful assistant Peeru to watch over the photo shop she owns so she can explore the rice paddies until she learns what happened to Jean and then she must decide what to do next.

The location is excellent as this South India city comes alive to anchor this enjoyable amateur sleuth tale. Anita, apparently the star of short stories not read by me, is an obstinate American working in the land of her family, who cannot stop herself from investigating in order to catch a killer. This strong whodunit also contains a deep underlying message to embrace your heritage and not turn your back on your roots. Filled with suspense, readers will relish a trip to India during tourist season.

Harriet Klausner

The Starlet
Mary McNamara
Simon & Schuster, Jun 8 2010, $15.00
ISBN 9781439149843

In Los Angeles at the posh Pinnacle Hotel, Juliette Greyson heads public relations. However to get away from the coddled rich and famous, she is on vacation in her maternal family’s country Italy. In Florence, Juliette is stunned to watch druggie Mercy Talbot, an actress missing from a movie shooting in Rome, dive into a fountain. The paparazzi are too busy taking pictures to help Mercy out of the water; so Juliette pulls her out of the fountain.

Juliette takes Mercy to her family estate Cerreta just north of Florence. There the young woman seems less frantic so the filmmaking is relocated to Juliette’s estate. That is enough to irritate Juliette who needs rest on her vacation, but now Mercy’s shrew of a mom arrives demanding posh hotel treatment; as do much of the Hollywood crowd. However what is worse for Juliette is her former lover movie superstar Michael O'Connor is on location at her estate too at the same time someone is killing the pampered celebs.

The latest Greyson over the top (this time the Italian Alps rather than the Hollywood Hills - see Oscar Season) thriller is an amusing tale that lightly lampoons celebrities and their “ambulance’ chaser paparazzi. The story line is a frantic fun frolic as Juliette hopes to survive the movie world invasion of Italy that she thought she left behind in L.A.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Point Dume-Katie Arnoldi

Point Dume
Katie Arnoldi
Overlook, May 13 2020, $24.95
ISBN: 9781590203293

In Point Dume, California, thirty-five year old Ellis Gardner is considered by most knowledgeable folks in the area as the top female surfer. Affluent mommas leave their extravagant mansions high on the cliffs to receive lessons from Ellis. Her childhood friend Pablo Schwartz is also a surfing instructor, but lately he has been making more money selling marijuana planted by the Mexican cartels on the hillside of the ignorant wealthy Americans. He loves Ellis, but competes for her affection with middle aged Frank Bane, who has recently discovered surfing, mostly because he is in heat over Ellis. Ironically his wife Janice is the best weed customer of his rival for Ellis’ affection.

Felix Duarte sneaks across the border to guard a cartel’s marijuana patch as someone is ripping off the Mexican mob. The job is deadly and lonely but the pay is excellent. When he catches the thief, he knows what he must do; if he fails to catch the thief in a timely manner he also knows what his employer will do to him.

Point Dume is an odd character driven thriller that rotates meeting the prime cast in order to understand their motives and especially their personal issues. The links between the players are surfing, sexing and smoking, yet no one seems in control of their life. Fascinating and timely, readers who enjoy cultivating a counter culture saga that lampoons the zealousness of the anti drug trafficking crowd (that ironically supports the right to sell guns to anyone even those who sell illegal drugs) will want to surf at Point Dume.

Harriet Klausner

Die Twice-Andrew Grant

Die Twice
Andrew Grant
Minotaur, May 11 2010, $24.99
ISBN: 9780312540272

British Naval Intelligence officer Lieutenant Commander David Trevellyan remains in the United States as a field operative. He completes his current assignment though is forced to depart from New York City (see Even) leaving behind seven corpses.

He goes to the British Consulate in Chicago as directed by his superior, liaison officer Richard Fothergill, who was just shot by an apparent turncoat. Fothergill has hardcore evidence of a traitor; British agent Tony McIntyre, who wounded him. He is selling a deadly gas to the African nation of Equatorial Myene. Trusting no one and
understanding that deadly force is not just an acceptable option, it is expected to be used; as Fothergill wants McIntyre stopped at all costs and the sale prevented. As he searches for the rogue, Trevellyan learns other potential buyers are bidding on the nasty toxin.

This is an exhilarating action-packed thriller that never slows down for a respite. Mindful of Bourne and Bond, the fast-paced story line may be over the top of the Sears Tower, yet delighted fans will not want to put down Die Twice as Trevellyan makes sure the undertakers have customers.

Harriet Klausner

The Influenza Bomb-Paul McCusker and Walt Larimore, M.D.

The Influenza Bomb
Paul McCusker and Walt Larimore, M.D.
Howard Jun 1 2010, $14.99
ISBN: 9781416569756

In 1918 and 1919, the Spanish Flu spread around the globe, killing millions. Whet almost the entire world does not know is that the Germans used a desiccated virus only more powerful than the original flu p and placed it water, drinks and food on military bases. The disease went international killing many including Germans. During the blitzkrieg in 1941, the Nazis released bombs that purposely failed to explode but contained the lethal virus so when the specialists detonated them they would inadvertently send the disease airborne exposing the British to death. This biological warfare method was not a rousing success.

In the present, there is a new Spanish Flue epidemic only more virulent then the previous attacks. Dr. Susan Hutchinson from WHO is part of a covert TCI group is in Russia trying to contain the disease and treat the patient. The disease spreads to other countries while in Germany TSI operatives Mark Carlson and Nora Richards seek a cure among hidden Nazi caves and catacombs where the antiruse may be found.. However, an ecoterrorist group Return to Earth spread the Flu as their goal in humanity’s extinction. TSI and other law enforcement groups try to prevent Return to Earth’s deployment of their final solution.

Ripped from today’s headlines, this chilling thriller is very plausible as bioterrorism is a real threat to this nation’s security. Reading like a cross between Dan Brown and Frederick Forsyth fans will enjoy the high octane over the top of the Kremlin and German Alps frantic save the world thriller as the Time Scene Investigators are reaching the doomsday clock countdown with The Influenza Bomb ignition.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Bodily Harm-Robert Dugoni

Bodily Harm
Robert Dugoni
Touchstone, May 25 2010, $25.00
ISBN: 9781416592969

Seattle attorney David Sloane is on the verge of winning a wrongful death lawsuit against respected pediatrician Dr. Peter Douvalidis when a curve ball upsets his perfect case. Toy designer Kyle Horgan confesses he is culpable in the young child's death.

His position suddenly shaky becomes even more precarious when a second child dies almost identical to how his clients’ offspring died. Dr. Douvalidis had nothing to do with the second pediatric death. Before he can question Horgan, the toymaker vanishes. Former CIA assassin Anthony Stenopolis seeking revenge stalks Sloane, whose reputation as never losing a case is teetering.. Before it is too late, Sloane seeks out Stenopolis.

The third Sloane legal thriller (see Jury Master and Wrongful Death) is an enjoyable tale that is superb when the focus is on the unraveling case, but loses some steam in ironically the more action-packed cat and mouse search for the hero’s stalking assassin. Still fast-paced regardless of which subplot takes center stage, readers will appreciate Robert Dugoni’s latest suspense filled novel.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

One Man's Paradise-Douglas Corleone

One Man's Paradise
Douglas Corleone
Minotaur, Apr 27 2010, $24.99
ISBN 9780312611583

Indifferent and lethargic, criminal defense attorney Kevin Corvelli failed to provide a proper defense on a capital case. His client was convicted of first degree murder and sent to prison where he was murdered. The man was innocent.

Depressed Kevin flees Manhattan for Honolulu where he works as a lawyer to pay off his debts. He and his clients, as in new York, share in common a mutual dislike and distrust f each other. When law student Joey Gianforte stands trial for allegedly murdering his former girlfriend after she left him, Corvelli takes on the defense. To his shock he cares about the outcome of this case and vows not to repeat his apathetic mistake laden defense that sent an innocent man to the pen and death.

This is a strong legal thriller that focuses on what a lawyer must do to technically prepare for a defense especially in a capital case. Kevin is a great protagonist who sees the Gianforte trial as a chance for redemption after failing to give his all in New York. One man’s paradise will have readers looking at how their respective states handle the death penalty considering this past summer Troy Davis Supreme Court ruling especially the two dissenters' constitutional position on innocence.

Harriet Klausner

Canaan's Gate-Kathryn R. Wall

Canaan's Gate
Kathryn R. Wall
Minotaur, Apr 27 2010, $24.99
ISBN 9780312601843

First Coast Bank of the Carolinas employee Cecelia Dobbs believes caregiver Kendra Blaine has embezzled a million dollars from her clients, elderly couple Thomas and Rebecca Castlemain. Cecilia realizes someone inside the First Coast bank assisted on the swindle. The more she digs, the more she is increasingly convinced that the Hilton Head couple has been cheated.

Kendra asks inquiry agent Bay Tanner to investigate. Before Bay can consider taking on the case, Rebecca dies of a heart attack. The Castlemain grandson Nick Potter suspects Kendra killed his grandma. As such he visits Simpson & Tanner, Inquiry Agents and hires Bay to investigate at about the same time that Cecilia vanishes.

Canaan’s Gate has plenty going on with a complicated case and an almost as complex personal happenings. Bay adapts to the depressing revelation that she is now an “orphan” with the passing of the Judge and she and Red struggle with their respective roles in their new marriages and at the firm. The inquiry is cleverly devised so that the reader is not sure whether to suspect Kendra of felonious activity or not. Readers will enjoy this super entry and look forward to the next one as a hurricane is bearing down the Florida coast.

Harriet Klausner

The Nearest Exit-Olen Steinhauer

The Nearest Exit
Olen Steinhauer
Minotaur, May 11 2010, $25.99
ISBN: 9780312622879

Former master spy Milo Weaver is assigned to return to field work. He loathes the task as he is ordered to do something horrific for people who will throw him under the bus if there is a hint of scandal.

Apparently a mole is inside the agency. He or she must be purged before those in the cold are eliminated. Milo is to find the traitor and kill the traitor. The problem is no evidence surfaces inside the agency; only politicians taking credit and tossing blame. That is until he begins to unravel a double helix case of revenge, but by who remains unknown and the field threat imminent.

The return of The Tourist is a terrific complicated and purposely convoluted espionage thriller as even the identities of the agencies are murky. Weaver knows exactly the key traits of his superiors whom he detests and distrusts. These political desk jockey handler(s) make Lady Macbeth seem as if she lacks ambition as they will do anything including allowing field operatives to die to further their careers. Filled with a zillion suspects and multiple subplots, Weaver knows The Nearest Exit for a field agent is death.

Harriet Klausner

Give + Take-Stona Fitch

Give + Take
Stona Fitch
Dunne, May 3 2010, $22.99
ISBN: 9780312599874

Jazz pianist Ross Clifton travels from gig to gig where he picks up wealthy women attending his performance. He actually makes a much better living robbing diamonds from his affluent tryst partners.

However Ross’ perfect life begins to tank when asked to watch his sixteen year old nephew Cray. Ross cannot stand his brother’s son. However, when Cray catches his felonious uncle thieving, he raises the stakes at a time the pianist visits his dying father and falls in love with thieving singer Marianne London. Now his nephew’s actions compounded by his girlfriend’s past threaten Clifton in ways he could not imagine.

Give + Take is a wild romantic family noir held together by the felonies that take on a life of their own. The cast is strong, especially the lead trio, but so is the ensemble in pursuit of them in a fast-paced with plenty of action stealing scenes. Readers will enjoy this zany thriller in which the “good” guys’ motto is a family that thieves together belongs together as the once finely tuned but now off key antihero pianist must wonder if either his girl or his nephew are the “Backstabbers”.

Harriet Klausner

The Botticelli Secret-Marina Fiorato

The Botticelli Secret
Marina Fiorato
St. Martin’s Griffin, Apr 2010, $14.99
ISBN: 9780312606367

In 1482 in Florence’s Ponte Vecchio, Luciana enjoys selling herself to her wealthy clientele. Franciscan novice Brother Guido tries to give her a religious pamphlet, but she laughs with profanity at his inanity while offering her body at no charge.

She does not scorn the great artist Botticelli who has hired her to model as the prime figure the goddess of spring for his current work, Primavera. After finishing her assignment, but not getting paid for posing, Luciana impishly takes the model of the Primavera and leaves behind Guido's pamphlet. However back at her room, she finds her roommate’s throat cut, which she interprets as the rage of Lorenzo de Medici. She flees to affluent customer Bembo, but his throat has been sliced. Next she tries Brother Guido and those at his monastery, but several are dead there. Guido and Luciana flee to his aristocratic uncle Lord Sylvio of Pisa to intervene, but has been poisoned and his son blames his cousin. The Seven city state magnates supported by the pope want the unfinished prototype and will kill to possess it.

This is an entertaining Brownian Renaissance thriller that conspiracy buffs especially will enjoy. Luciana is an interesting lead character as she can be impishly seductive in spite of her endless strings of profanities. Although the deep look into the Primavera is educating and defends why the Seven needs it back, those sections turn long winded as only art students and professors, and conspirator buffs will relish. Still overall The Botticelli Secret is a cleverly designed late fifteenth century thriller.

Harriet Klausner

The Burning Wire-Jeffrey Deaver

The Burning Wire
Jeffrey Deaver
Simon & Schuster, Jun 1 2010, $26.99
ISBN: 9781439156339

Police consultant and criminologist Lincoln Rhyme is a quadriplegic who uses his partner in life and work Amelia Sachs as his field eyes and ears. As a team they have solved more cases than healthy cops. His biggest issue is boredom, which is the state he is in right now; wishing he was in Mexico City where his nemesis Richard “Watchmaker” Logan is giving authorities a merry chase.

Rhyme’s ennui ends when he asks to consult on another case. A substation of Algonquin Consolidated Power and Light goes off line and the computer tries to get it running by diverting power from other locales. When another substation goes black, power is diverted to the original substation that went off line. That happens several times until a wire hanging out of a substation hits a bus destroying it and killing a passenger. This was an act of sabotage and it happens two more times. With the evidence so far gathered, Lincoln thinks a disgruntled employee performed the deed as the culprit is able to control substations. HSD and FBI believe terrorists are at work due to the electronic tech they find. When Lincoln reaches the end game, he realties how wrong he has been, but has no time to wallow as he must find a way to rectify his mistake.

Series fan will want to read Rhyme’s latest police procedural because he allows the audience to get close and personal with his inner most feelings; as he must decide between euthanasia, experimental surgery or the status quo. The mystery is cleverly executed and the suspense remains high throughout with the enthralled audience consistently kept off guard. The Burning Wire is Lincoln at his most complete best.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, April 19, 2010

Tom Wasp and the Newgate Knocker-Amy Myers

Tom Wasp and the Newgate Knocker
Amy Myers
Five Star, May 19 2010, $25.95
ISBN: 9781594148705

In 1863, master flue faker Tom Wasp visits his friend housekeeper Eliza Hogg at Newgate prison the day before the latter is to be executed for poisoning her spouse George. Tom understands murder is unacceptable in the eyes of the law so she will be hung though he feels accentuating circumstances makes the case unfair as her husband was an abusive violent man.

Eliza gives Tom a pawn ticket to redeem a dilapidated naval doll, which he does. Inside the doll, Tom and his twelve years old apprentice Ned find a statue of the Goddess of Mercy Kwan-yin. George robbed the statue during the burning of the Peking Palace. Soon two London gangs are at war with one another over the strangulation of maid Dinah Johnson, daughter of the Rat Mob chief Billy. He orders Tom to investigate and the chimney sweeper agrees due to his friendship with the victim’s sister. Upsetting the rival Nichol Gang, Tom, assisted by Ned and the self-anointed royal bug destroyer, carefully sweeps away the fog overwhelming his inquiry. Tom begins to believe an assassination is at the center of the power play.

The second Tom Wasp Victorian mystery (see Tom Wasp and the Murdered Stunner) is a wonderful amateur sleuth whodunit starring a charming chimney sweep trying to resolve two murders and perform his day job in the dangerous East End. The investigation is cleverly drawn as the scope widens at a nice pace. The cast is strong bringing to life London’s squalid East End at a time when the Prince awaits his Danish bride. Amy Myers writes an engaging historical murder mystery with international implications.

Harriet Klausner

Should an Eagle Fall-Ken Hodgson

Should an Eagle Fall
Ken Hodgson
Five Star, May 19 2010, $25.95
ISBN 9781594148651

In Lone Wolf, Texas rancher Caleb Starr sees a large bird he assumes is a hawk diving towards his chickens; he fires and kills the attacking fowl only to find he shot an endangered species a bald eagle. The incident is filmed from the air by Marsh Wheelan who works for the radical environmental group Run Free.

A computer guru, Wheelan sends a copy of a photo of Starr holding the bloody Bald eagle to the media and a national tabloid publishes it. He next hacks into government agencies placing false information about the rancher. The Feds and state agencies send law enforcement to Lone Wolf while environmentalists, politicians and newscasters publicly denounce the beleaguered rancher. As Wheelan’s fortunes rise stratospherically, Starr’s plunges dramatically. Only his neighbors support him, but even they begin to distant themselves before they become part of the smear campaign.

This is an exciting thriller of justice so blind it fails the everyman who faces the combined might of a cherry picking media, a one side fits all movement and a bureaucracy that worships databases ignoring contrary facts. Although Wheelan is miles over the top of Guadalupe Peak, this fast-paced but character driven thought provoking tale will elate readers.

Harriet Klausner

The Devil Amongst the Lawyers-Sharyn McCrumb

The Devil Amongst the Lawyers
Sharyn McCrumb
Dunne, Jun 22 2010, $24.95
ISBN: 9780312558161

In 1935, the country remains in the Great depression, but to schoolteacher Erma Morton the economy is the least of her worries. The Pound, Virginia police arrested her for the murder of her father; her mom was also taken in by the cops, but let go as they decide to prosecute Erma only. The national papers send reporters and photographers to cover the story while from Tennessee comes the Johnson City Sleuth teenage reporter Carl Jenkins.

The big shot journalists make it seem as if the townsfolk were against Erma because she is pretty, charming and educated. They write their reports so it reads the way they believe the public (and Mr. Hearst who has cut a deal with the brother of the accused) would want to picture the case. Carl knows he cannot compete in their league so he sends for his twelve years old cousin Nora Bonesteel, who has the “sight”, to see if she can give him the true story.

Based on a true media feeding frenzy, this is a timely super historical mystery in which the reporting supersedes the case. Sharyn McCrumb makes a case that nothing really has changed except the medium used by the journalists who still slant and cherry pick what they report; in this trial of the beautiful attractive heroine who is persecuted by the ignorant locals. Carl lacks confidence and experience so he depends on Nora in her youngest appearance (see The Songcatcher and Ghost Riders). Readers will enjoy this early insightful Ballad.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, April 18, 2010

A Murder of Crows-P.F. Chisholm

A Murder of Crows
P.F. Chisholm
Poisoned Pen, Jun 1 2010, $24.95
ISBN: 9781590586570

In 1592 Deputy Warden of the English West Marsh Sir Robert Carey is in London with his top assistant Sergeant Dodd. Still irate by the treatment he received from Vice Chamberlain Thomas Heneage, Dodd hires attorney Mr. Enys to sue. However, his superiors impede the proceedings in spite of the fact that he has a strong case.

When a rotted corpse is found by Her Highness Steps at the Thames, Carey’s father Lord Hunsdon, whose mother is the Boleyn girl who failed to marry Henry though he sired him, asks his son to remain in London to investigate. Although he needs to be back in Plymouth for raiding season, Carey and Dodd make inquiries in a dangerous London; where those who do not want to kill you with a blade try to skewer you with words. They soon begin to connect dots between the badly decomposed corpse, a punished priest and Cornish land sale scam at the same time Sir Robert’s mom is in Cornwall, reason unknown.

The latest Robert Carey Elizabethan mystery is a great entry in a strong historical series (see A Famine of Horses and A Plague of Angels) that uses a real person as the prime character. Fast-paced throughout, readers obtain a taste (or distaste if you ask Dodd) of London while meeting Shakespeare and Marlowe as Carey (a fascinating person in real life too) and Dodd investigate the corpse. P.F. Chisholm has written another entertaining whodunit as her Carey tales are some of the best on the market.

Harriet Klausner

The Anniversary Man-R.J. Ellory

The Anniversary Man
R.J. Ellory
Overlook, Jun 10 2010, $24.95
ISBN: 9781590203279

In 1984 in Jersey City, sixteen years old John and seventeen years old Nadia meet and fall in love. However, The Hammer of God Serial killer catches the pair; he brutally kills Nadia while John is fortunate to survive the ordeal although he would tell you otherwise as he is filled with survivor guilt fueled by obsessive compulsive behavior disorder.

Over the next two decades, John became an expert on the psychopathic mind of serial killers while also working as a crime researcher. When he connects the murder of teenager Mia Grant to three other homicides, City Herald reporter Karen Langley writes the scoop that is initially sent to the Chief of Police who asks the paper to delay the release of the article proclaiming a potential serial killer is working the Big Apple. NYPD Detective Ray Irving interviews Langley to learn of her source while the killer taunts the cops and the media. Her resource is John who becomes the prime suspect.

This is an exhilarating New York City serial killer thriller that feels fresh in spite of the standard elements used like taunting the cops. Fast-paced throughout, the cops, the reporter and the reader increasingly believe John is the killer. Although RJ Ellory shows he is not The Boy From New York City, fans will relish this strong police procedural.

Harriet Klausner

Missing Max-Karen Young

Missing Max
Karen Young
Howard (Simon and Schuster), Jun 15 2010, $14.99
ISBN: 9781416587491

Post Katrina Mardi Gras is a beautiful spectacle. Jane Madison, her young son Max, her teenage stepdaughter Melanie and her friend Christine attend the event. Jane goes off to get refreshments while Christine watches Max. Melanie calls her stepmother to say Max is missing as Christine went to help somebody. Melanie flirted with some boys while, Max and his stroller vanished.

Six months later, no trace of Max has surfaced though the police still follow any lead. The family fails to receive strength from each other; instead they drift apart. Melanie blames herself and deliberately gets pregnant so that she can give the newborn to her stepmom and her dad Kyle . Blaming Jane for leaving their baby for a moment, Kylie moves out of their bedroom. Jane feels guilt not just for the loss of her child, but to what is happening to her family; however, she cannot pull herself together to prevent the collapse. Finally the kidnapper calls to inform them Max is alive. It is also apparent that the perp hates Jane, not Kyle who thought his legal work might be the motive.. Obsessed Jane considers who might detest her enough to abduct Max.

Karen Young writes a thrilling inspirational chiller that grips the audience from the opening abduction and never loosens its hold on readers need to know who and why. Missing Max focuses on how the kidnapped toddler’s family cope with their loss; as each reacts differently to the big hole in their heart yet share in common a deep rooted need for separation and blame. Although a seemingly implausible finale, fans will root for determined Jane to rescue her kids from the monster.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Never Wave Goodbye-Doug Magee

Never Wave Goodbye
Doug Magee
Touchstone (Simon and Schuster), Jun 1 2010, $24.99
ISBN: 9781439153987

Feeling sad but proud that her nine years old daughter Sarah is going to spend two weeks at sleep away camp with her best friend Linda, the distraught mom pays little attention to the vehicle or driver picking up her child. Lena waves goodbye to Sarah and goes inside their home pondering how to get her marriage to David back on track. Soon a second van arrives to pick up Sarah.

By the time the confusion is cleared up, Sarah, Linda and two boys Tommy and Franklin are the victims of a kidnapping. The FBI leads the investigation, but has little to go on. The kidnappers demand one million.

In the woods, one abductor Mr. Everett is with the four frightened kids until he has an accident after a chance encounter with a hiker. The kids are alone struggling to survive. Sarah becomes the de facto leaders of the quartet

Never Wave Goodbye is a high octane suspense wrapped around several related (by the abductions) family dramas. Doug Magee gets inside the hearts and souls of the children and their parents; each sharing in common a fear they will not see one another ever again. Although the clues are obvious so that law enforcement seems inane and to a degree the parents (one can claim trepidation and grief for the latter), readers will relish this gut-wrenching human drama.

Harriet Klausner

I Am Not A Serial Killer-Dan Wells

I Am Not A Serial Killer
Dan Wells
Tor, Apr 2010, $9.99
ISBN: 9780765327826

In Clayton, fifteen year old John Wayne Cleaver has helped his mom and his aunt at the family run mortuary for years. He is surrounded by corpses so death means little to him, which makes it difficult for John to sympathize with the mourners.

However, the human predators who cause death fascinate and frighten him. Concerned he may become a serial killer one day as he admires these psychopaths, he sees a shrink and has established rigid rules that he totally adheres to. A loner by nurture, he prefers the dead to the living as they demand nothing as opposed to their relatives demanding miraculous cosmetics. When a sliced up body parts arrive at the mortuary, even John is taken aback. When more carved up corpses are found, John investigates as he wants to meet his first serial killer in person though this also means he bends his rules for the first time.

John holds the tale together as he constantly reminds himself that: “I am not a serial killer” though surrounded by death. He is a captivating unique lead character as is his mom and aunt. Teen-lit fans will relish his mantra and amateur sleuthing, as he investigates while also mindful of not crossing the line.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, April 15, 2010

City of Fear-David Hewson

City of Fear
David Hewson
Delacorte, May 25 2010, $25.00
ISBN: 9780385341509

At the same tourists are flocking to Rome for the summer, the G8 summit meeting is beginning. Security is tight yet an assault on a government vehicle leads to the killing of one occupant and abduction of Ministry of Interior official Giovanni Batisti.

The country is in shock while the world is as stunned. Detective Nic Costa and his Questura team drop everything to investigate. However, they are quickly removed from the inquiry and placed on protective service duty insuring the G-8 participants remain safe. When they attempt to conduct any investigation, the Ministry of Interior's security chief and a powerful prime minister interfere. Meanwhile Italy's President Sordi directs Costa to look into the Blue Demon terrorist group that demands a return to the ancient Etruscan society; to achieve this they kill government officials. Costa does not need to be an experienced law enforcement official to know nothing is quite right, but how to proceed when everyone seems to be watching is elusive.

This is a great Italian police procedural thriller that showcases how much interference government officials can do to harm or prevent an investigation especially during a major international event that is used to further fog the scenario. Fast-paced and loaded with terrific plausible twists and spins, sub-genre readers will appreciate Costa’s latest case as he and his Questura squad struggled with leadership preventing them from doing their job.

Harriet Klausner

Toast Mortem-Claudia Bishop

Toast Mortem
Claudia Bishop
Berkley, Jun 2010, $6.99
ISBN: 9780425230282

When her husband Myles the investigator went somewhere in the Middle East on a government assignment, his wife Sarah “Quill” Quilliam-McHale returns to her rooms at the Inn at Hemlock Falls. She is the owner and manager with her half-sister Meg who is also the chef. It is Meg who is upset due to her gourmet meals being ignored as everyone is dining at the La Bonne Goute Cuklinary Arts Academy whose owner Bernard Le Vasque wrote the bestselling cookbook Brilliance in the Kitchen and had a five year run on TV as a master chef.

Bernard is an arrogant peacock who believes he can get away with anything he desires. He asks Meg to work for him, but she in a rage throws a sharp meat cleaver at the pompous chef. Meg is arrested, but get’s out on bail. The sisters steal their rival’s pastry chef Clarissa Sparrow to work at the Inn. Levesque gets even by arranging dirty tricks to drive the innkeepers crazy. When Qull goes the Academy, she finds his murdered corpse. The police find evidence to arrest Clarissa, but her sibling employers believe she is innocent so set out to prove so; even dodging bullets to achieve their goal.

The latest Inn at Hemlock Falls mystery is a fun tale that has a sort of throwback feel to when Quill was not married as Myles is away for most of the exciting purebred amateur sleuth story line. The victim is vile so much so that seemingly everyone at his Academy, even his bookkeeping wife, loathes him; thus suspects abound. Series fans will appreciate the antics of the mom and the chef as they set out to find a killer.

Harriet Klausner

Innocent-Scott Turow

Scott Turow
Grand Central, May 4 2010, $27.99
ISBN: 9780446562423

Over two decades ago then attorney Rusty Sabich was tried for murder, but though never proven either way was exonerated because the legal system Presumed Innocence. He has since become a Kindle County, Illinois chief appellate judge.

When his mentally shaky wife Barbara dies in bed from apparent natural causes, his prosecuting attorney adversary back when he stood trial and now acting as chief prosecuting attorney Tommy Molto believes he has the SOB this time and goes after him with a vengeance. He encourages his chief deputy, Jim Brand, to go after the sexagenarian judge. Brand is already suspicious of Sabich because Rusty chose to conceal his overly medicated spouse’s death from everyone including their legal scholar emotionally unstable son Nat, for nearly twenty-four hours; enough time for poison to vanish. Rusty has other complicating issues re his election to a higher court, an ethics charge, and his affair with his law clerk Anna Vostic

This entertaining sequel once again explores what is truth and justice as each is relative terms dependent on the mind of the beholder. The story line looks deeps into what motivates Molto and Sabich who interpret the same incident 180 degrees apart. In many ways a psychological thriller rather than just a legal courtroom drama, readers will relish the return engagement as the lead pair are yin and yang burdened with six decades of baggage; as no one is purely Innocent.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Silent Scream-Karen Rose

Silent Scream
Karen Rose
Grand Central, Jun 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780446538367

Seven months ago Detective Olivia Sutherland worked “the Red Dress Killer” murder case including extracting body parts (see I Can See You). Like others who worked the gruesome serial killer investigation, she has seen the department psychologist, but that has not helped her with the nightmares and she assumes others suffer from the PTSD too.

One night Olivia and her partner Kane arrive at an arson scene where the remains of a young girl have been found. The two cops seek to determine whether she was part of the arsonist ring or an innocent victim. However also involved is firefighter David Hunter whom she met at her half-sister's wedding; they shared the night of a lifetime thirty months ago, but resided in different cities. Now he has relocated while someone is blackmailing those environmentalists who set the inferno that left a girl dead. Failure to pay means death too.

This is an exciting tense police procedural that hooks the audience with the PTSD aftermath from the Red Dress killer horrific case and never slows down even for the reunion between Sutherland and Hunter. Fast-paced throughout yet readers will feel Olivia’s anguish and determination. However, the key to this terrific investigative tale is solving the case as the killers are in plain sight yet almost impossible to pick them out from a myriad of potential suspects.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Beyond the Darkness-Alexandra Ivy

Beyond the Darkness
Alexandra Ivy
Zebra, Apr 2010, $6.99
ISBN: 9781420102987

The werewolf population is in danger of extinction unless purebred females are found. As their king, Salvatore Giuliani searches for a pureblood candidate before the vampires grab them. He catches a whiff of Harley and goes after her.

He rescues her from a cur pack and knows she is his soulmate, but she rejects him in spite of her attraction to him; as Harley learned to never trust a werewolf having been held prisoner by one. However, all hell breaks loose when a nasty demon resurrects an odious evil rival of Salvatore, who still covets being the werewolf ruler; collateral damage means nothing to either malevolencies including destroying much of the Were pack, vampires, and Harley's recently discovered family.

The sixth Guardians of Eternity (see Darkness Unleashed and Darkness Revealed) is a terrific romantic fantasy as the regal pompous Gucci wearing King of the Weres meets his queen only to be rejected by her. Alexandra Ivy is at her best as she turns the arrogant royal into a heroic champion protecting his soul mate and others rather than just ordering his pack. Beyond the Darkness is another winner from one of the leading urban fantasists.

Harriet Klausner

Sexy Beast VIII-Kate Douglas, Kathleen Dante and Devyn Quinn

Sexy Beast VIII
Kate Douglas, Kathleen Dante and Devyn Quinn
Kensington Aphrodisia, Apr 2010, $14.00
ISBN: 9780758228710

"Chanku Spirit" by Kate Douglas. Anton, Stefan and Matt leave their sanctuary traveling to Florida in search of their heritage. There the goddess chooses Matt to be her consort for eternity.

"Running Wild" by Kathleen Dante. Graeme teaches his beloved Deanna all there is about shapeshifting, but is irate when his cousin sniffs at his mate.

"Heart of the Wildcat by Devyn Quinn. As his tribe nears extinction, Joseph prays he finds a mate so when he rescues ecologist Kathryn’s life, he wonders if she could be the one for him.

These three heated shapeshifting romances are fun entertaining tales that sub-genre fans will enjoy. The Kate Douglas entry is a key link in her Chanku saga as it has direct cause and effect implications to the next Wolf Tales (July publication).

Harriet Klausner

Bones of Contention-Jeanne Matthews

Bones of Contention
Jeanne Matthews
Poisoned Pen, Jun 2010, $24.95
ISBN: 9781590587287

Cleon Dobbs has had three wives and a zillion unwanted offspring. However, when he learns he is dying from cancer, he decides to bring the entire brood including a "niece" Dinah Pelerin together at a remote run down Northern Territory, Australian lodge while he draws up his last will one paragraph at a time.

However, the final hurrah turns nasty when a journalist who knows about Cleon is murdered followed by Cleon's doctor who was here to help him commit suicide. His named heirs and offended cut outs resent he was not the corpse. Cleon goes too far when he leaves to Dinah his two Winslow Homer watercolors. Although she just wants to learn more about her father, she thinks something is not right about the paintings. When another heir arrives claiming to be a long lost son, the pot boils over as payback has become the prime Bones of Contention, but by whom.

This is a terrific Australian family mystery filled with deadly twists including a great climax. The setting and eccentric cast refresh the family feud inheritance theme as readers will relish the Down Under manipulations of Cleon while wondering what next will happen amidst the dysfunctional who compete for a paragraph.

Harriet Klausner

Mrs. Jeffries Speaks her Mind-Emily Brightwell

Mrs. Jeffries Speaks her Mind
Emily Brightwell
Berkley, Jun 2010, $6.99
ISBN: 9780425235249

In Victorian London, wealthy spinster Olive Kettering hears footsteps and tries to flee to safety, but knows someone is following her. She gets out of her mansion and runs to a person she is happy to see only that individual shoots her in the head. Inspector Witherspoon, who has a 100% homicide clearance rate thanks to his servants secretly assisting him, leads the inquiry.

He learns no one liked Olive, not her peers or servants whom she treated like vermin. She was also estranged from her blood relatives, Dorien who refused to get married and Patricia of whom Olive disapproved of the man she married. Olive was involved with the Society of the Humble Servant led by Reverend Samuel Richards. The victim rejected the concept he was a con artist as she believed in a vengeful god like he preaches. All the suspects offer viable alibis, but some lied. Using the information Witherspoon unknowingly gives her, the housekeeper Mrs. Jeffries and her team is determined to find the killer for their boss, not aware of the danger this endeavor provides.

Every Mrs. Jefferies historical cozy is a special unique treat as the recurring characters change and grow, and this time a new member to the household joins the crew and Betsy provides a surprising revelation. The whodunit is straightforward fun with Mrs. Jefferies and the rest of the servants finding clues and Mrs. Jeffries feeding them to her employer with him remaining clueless to what she is doing. The sleuthing cast makes for a wonderful Victorian mystery.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, April 12, 2010

Risk No Secrets-Cindy Gerard

Risk No Secrets
Cindy Gerard
Pocket, May 18 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9781439153611

As the Baylor Middle School in El Salvador shuts down for vacation time; American expatriate school administrator Sophie Weber notices a mysterious van near her adopted daughter Hope and her tweener’s best friend Lola. The men snatch Lola. Upset, Sophie cannot reach her former husband Hugh who is out of the country working a kidnap retrieval case. Desperate she calls Hugh’s best friend Wyatt Savage of Black Ops, Inc. She explains what happened and he drops everything to help the woman he loves ever since meeting her twelve years ago when he and Hugh attended a language class she gave; she married Hugh instead of him.

Following a deadly incident at the airport in El Salvador, Sophie explains she has been divorced for two years as Hugh has become only interested in money. Wyatt meets Hope and reads the ransom note sent to Sophie demanding $500,000 for the safe return of Hope. He tells Sophie to let the media know Lola is like a daughter to her to keep her safe once the kidnappers learn the wrong girl was taken. Wyatt arranges for his teammates to come to El Salvatore to help him retrieve Lola and to take Hope safely to Argentina. The battle lines are drawn as everyone involved on three sides will Feel The Heat of a Show No Mercy and Take No Prisoners operation.

The fifth Black Ops romantic suspense is an exhilarating thriller starring a lead couple with a strong second chance subplot and a solid support cast to include previous stars and a secondary romance that is not explored deeply but will please readers. The story line is fast-paced with a super twist although the kidnappers are caught unaware that the hero would bring back-up to a key meeting. Fans of the series will appreciate the El Salvatore retrieval.

Harriet Klausner

The Exodus Quest-Will Adams

The Exodus Quest
Will Adams
Grand Central, Apr 29 2010, $24.99
ISBN: 9780446563208

In Alexandria, Egypt Archeologist Daniel Knox walks in a local market place when he notices what appears to be an ancient earthenware bowl. The teenage vendor insists the artifact was given to him by his friend Daniel Knox and once belonged to Alexander the Great. He is amused by the hawker as everyone claims to be his buddy since The Alexander Cipher case. The lad sets prices based on pure supply and demand of how much he perceives the customer can afford, but refuses to reveal where it was found.

Knox visits his friend Omar Tawfiq who lets him browse through his database. He finds a picture of it, but Omar explains it is not a bowl from Ancient Egypt; instead it is a storage jar lid from Qumran, home of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Soon that lead takes the excited Knox to a dig led by Reverend Ernest Peterson and his team of theological students who seek a portrait of Christ that Peterson plans to keep. As a murder of a native archeologist occurs, corrupt cops blame Knox while the beleaguered Egyptologist learns in horror from his cell that his partner Gaille Bonnard was abducted near the ruins of Amarna, several hundred miles away.

With a strong ancient historical base, the latest Knox antiquities thriller is a fast-paced over the top of the Sphinx entertaining tale. Readers will enjoy the hero’s hyperactive adventures in which he is a guest of the state, but needs to be in three other places at the same time. First he must rescue himself by proving his innocence, which is difficult to do when you’re in a cell; so that he can second rescue Gaille; and third rescue the artifacts being devastated unmercifully by the Reverend. No caffeine for Knox.

Harriet Klausner

A Stranger In the Family-Robert Barnard

A Stranger In the Family
Robert Barnard
Scribner, Jun 8 2010, $24.00
ISBN: 9781439176740

In Glasgow, Scotland, Kit Philipson was raised by professional parents; his mom taught school while his dad, who escaped the Nazis as an infant, was a journalist. He loved both of them and knew they loved him.

However, twentyish Kit is stunned when his dying mom informs him he was adopted; his birth name is Novello. Her comments trigger long lost not quite lucid memories of a nursery and a woman baking as well as strangers taking him away from his apparent biological family. Needing to know the truth, he searches newspaper clippings for Peter Novello. He learns that in 1989 in Sicily, three years old Peter Novello was abducted. Kit deepens his quest to meet his family, but is confused by what he learns as his siblings had no idea he existed or why his biological parents who never left Leeds suddenly went to Sicily on vacation.

This great tale will be on most short lists for suspense thriller of the year as everyman Peter digs deep into his past trying to connect the dots between Leeds, Sicily and Glasgow. The journey is filled with twists as nothing is quite like it seems. Readers will want to join Kit on his quest to discover why from Peter’s biological bloodline.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Grace Under Pressure-Julie Hyzy

Grace Under Pressure
Julie Hyzy
Berkley, Jun 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425235218

After years in the big city, Grace Wheaton came home to take care of her dying mother Olivia. After her mother died, Grace remains in the house willed to her while taking in two borders who have become close friends. Grace works as the assistant curator at Marshfield Manor, a place she and her late mom cherish. The estate contains all kinds of artifacts of historical values, a museum, a hotel, and secret passageways.

One day a giant man arrives creating a disturbance that Grace deals with while at the same time in another part of the estate, a brouhaha occurs. Her boss Abe, a close friend of the owner billionaire Bennett Marshfield, is murdered. Grace assumes the job of curator though not formally named even temporarily. Bennett lets her keep it through inertia. Unsatisfied with the pace of the police investigation, Grace starts an inquiry that stuns her with Ponzi schemes, greedy relatives, secret assignations, and an unwanted date with the killer.

Allowing the White House Chef is given a respite, Julie Hyzy opens her newest amateur sleuth with a magnifecent whodunit. Using her curator skills, Grace asks questions and gathers data as she has with her late mom’s missing papers that Olivia described a priceless treasures. Although a map of the overall obviously enormous estate and a room layout of the manor house would help readers know where the actions is, sub-genre fans will thoroughly enjoy the first Manor House mystery.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Last Chance-Christy Reece

Last Chance
Christy Reece
Ballantine, Apr 27 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780345517746

Former British special ops field agent billionaire Lucas Kane is in Rio on business when he becomes ill from food poisoning. When he is abducted from his hotel room, he knows the food was deliberately tainted. The mysterious beautiful female "Ghost" rescues Lucas.

For six months he has failed to find his Ghost as he needs to personally thank his savior but she vanished without a trace. He turns to Last Chance Rescue to find his Ghost. McKenna “Ghost” Sloan is well aware of Lucas’ search and has done some missions for Noah McCall at LCR, but does not work for him or his firm. She fears for the life of anyone who gets close to her as a psychopath stalks her, but Lucas’ determination and a woman in peril from an abduction forces the Ghost to confront her fears.

The latest Last Chance Rescue romantic suspense is an exhilarating thriller starring an intriguing determined lead male and a fascinating enigmatic heroine who saved his butt and by doing so won his heart though ironically neither are employees of LCR. Action-packed from the first moment the pair meets, fans of the saga will relish Last Chance as a rescue serves as the introduction and another chance rescue brings them back together.

Harriet Klausner

Fault Line-Barry Eisler

Fault Line
Barry Eisler
Ballantine, Apr 27 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780345505095

The inventor of Obsidian encryption security software Richard Hilzoy is euphoric that he is on his way to the top of Silicon Valley as he heads over to see his attorney Alex Treven. That is his last thought as someone fires a bullet into his brain. Alex had arranged financing and worked with the Patent Office as he understood what Richard created. When Alex learns Richard and the Patent Office analyst were murdered, he did not need his PH.D in computer science to conclude he is near the top if not next on a methodical hit list related to knowledge of Obsidian.

Alex needs help so he calls his estranged brother Ben, an undercover field agent. He quickly rushes to San Francisco where Alex explains the other knowledgeable person is Iranian-American law associate Sarah Hosseini. As the siblings continue their bickering started when tragedy struck their family as teens, but now with Sarah in the middle, they are in danger from unknown adversaries who want Obsidian under their control.

Over the top of Nob Hill and Stanford, Fault Line is an action-packed cyberthriller that grips the reader with the opening it and never slows down as the battling brothers better band together if they are to survive. Both are attracted to Sarah, but Ben distrusts her as he believes she is the enemy leak. Although It Never Rains in California, the siblings know it pours.

Harriet Klausner

The Covenant of Genesis-Andy McDermott

The Covenant of Genesis
Andy McDermott
Bantam, Apr 27 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780553592962

Following the dangerous escapades of their search for The Secret of Excalibur, archeologists Nina Wilde and Eddie Chase are engaged. However, though they should be euphoric, Nina is despondent. She made a major discovery that would have changed our knowledge of history only to be attacked with her crew murdered and the artifact lost. Heartbroken, she also is suspended from her position at the U.N.‘s International Heritage Agency while a rival was named director.

At the same time that the Covenant of Genesis wants a certain artifact destroyed, Eddie travels to Guantomino Bay to pick up the remains of his late former wife Sophia, who was incarcerated there following The Tomb of Hercules adventures. In spite of their troubles compounded by President Dalton, they find clues to a discovery of biblical magnitude. So once again throwing caution to the wind and eluding assassins, Eddie and Nina begin their latest quest.

As always over the top but entertaining fun as the lead couple seek a special artifact while being chased by the title goons. Fast-paced even when Nina is under investigation for her activity and Eddie is in Gitmo, fans will relish the run through the Outback, the U.N., and a seeming zillion points in between as killers chase the wild pair around the globe.

Harriet Klausner

Not One Clue-Lois Greiman

NNot One Clue
Lois Greiman
Dell,, Apr 27 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780440244783

In Los Angeles after LAPD Detective Jack Rivera takes her out of precious REM time, in her mind the next best thing to chocolate, with his defibrillator talk, psychologist Christina McMullen receives a second midnight call. Her patient Micky Goldenstone enigmatically says the other guy is dead, the cops are coming over and he needs Doc to take young Jamel away from the crime scene.

While she works the Goldenstone fiasco, her BFF since fifth grade Amazon Queen actress Laney Butterfield is being stalked by an unknown person raising the ugliness level with each new activity. If that isn’t enough to get McMullen to flee to the East Coast, her neighbor fears for her runaway sister whose abusive husband threatens bodily harm to anyone in his way; she pleads with Doc to intervene.

Apparently all the crazies are out in California with the heroine being a lunatic magnet though her boyfriend thinks she is the loose cannon nutcase for taking so many risks. At times the various cases turn the shrink into a sleuth, as they overwhelm the plot yet fans will relish this amusing yet tense Los Angeles confidential as McMullen insists on just the facts even as she possesses Not One Clue to what is going on.

Harriet Klausner

A Killer Plot-Ellery Adams

A Killer Plot
Ellery Adams
Berkley, Jun 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425235225

IIn Oyster Bay, North Carolina the prodigal daughter Olivia Limoges returns but she keeps to herself. Her only outlets of affection are her dog Haviland and her goal is to finish her novel. She is forty, beautiful and rich, but nobody can get past her shell she erected around herself. No one until she meets Camden Ford, a gossip columnist interested in writing a fictional account of the Talbot family concentrating on the rich patriarchal tyrant Dean who wants to build a housing complex in the town.

Something about Camden charms her and makes her agree to mingle with his book group. She joins the Bayside Back Writers and attends their meeting at the cottage near the lighthouse. Olivia is heartbroken when she finds Camden's murdered body in an alley. She vows to find his killers who left haiku on the victim's body. Before the townsfolk can get over the homicide Olivia finds another corpse. Dean's heir Blake and his sweetheart come to Oyster Bay to obtain approval for the housing project. While Blake and his father's trusted partner Max are trying to win over city council, Olivia investigates. Someone wants her to stop threatening her dog and eventually her.

This Book by the Bay Tarheel amateur sleuth mystery is an enjoyable tale due to the main protagonist who is independent and forceful; she knows what she wants and goes after it, in this case finding Carmden's killer. The support cast are developed enough to either enhance Olivia's investigation or her as readers will appreciate the heroine's often inquiry into who killed her friend and why.

Harriet Klausner

Murder on Lexington Avenue-Victoria Thompson

Murder on Lexington Avenue
Victoria Thompson
Berkley, Jun 2010, $24.95
ISBN: 9780425234372

Mr. Edward Higginbotham of the Institution for the Improved Instruction of Deaf Mutes visits businessman and school patron Nehemiah Wooten at the latter’s office. He plans to discuss with Wooten the desires of the man’s pretty sixteen year old daughter Electra, a student at the school; she wants to marry a New York Institute for the Deaf and Dumb teacher Adam Oldham. Higginbotham finds Wooten dead.

Because NYPD Detective Sergeant Frank Malloy has a son who attends the "Lexington School" that Higginbotham runs and the witness asks for him, he is assigned the lead as the brass believes he brings insider information. This proves true as he understands the deep philosophical divide between the rival two schools teaching deaf children. The DS quickly knows the murder weapon is a brass loving cup and learns the deceased is a believer in eugenics as lectured recently by Alexander Graham Bell; as such Wooten opposed two deaf people marrying out of fear they will pass on the hearing flaw to their offspring. However, Malloy makes little progress so when a second homicide in the Wooten family occurs, he hesitantly asks midwife Sarah Brandt, who has helped him on previous Manhattan murder mysteries, to provide him advice.

The latest Gaslight Era murder mystery is a terrific entry that uses the background like references to Bell to set the era while also providing insight into the two predominate education theories of teaching deaf students. The whodunit is complex as Malloy works his investigation assisted by Sarah, but has too many suspects from family, business and school to rule out. Readers will appreciate the latest Victoria Thompson’s historical investigate tale.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, April 9, 2010

Night of the Living Deed-E. J. Copperman

Night of the Living Deed
E. J. Copperman
Berkley, Jun 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425235222

After her divorce from Steven AKA as the Swine, Alison Kirby wants to start over with her nine years old daughter Melissa. She buys a seven bedroom four bath fixer upper beach house and does her own repairs. Her plan is to open up a guest house; sans breakfast. Her project is coming along nicely until a bucket of compound falls on her head; knocking Alison out cold. When she awakens she sees the ghost of Maxie Moline and her bodyguard private detective Paul Harrison.

They both died in the house with the official verdict being a double suicide. Paul insists they never took the sleeping pills that caused their deaths; instead he claims to Alison someone poisoned them. They plead with Alison to look into their contention, but she says no until Maxie's antics drive her crazy so feeling like a victim of emotional erosion she agrees. Alison soon receives threatening emails and phone calls in which she is told they want "it" as she investigates what happened to the ghosts and links that to the threats to her. She finds a suspect, but to prove her belief requires her to employ extraordinary measures as deadlines leave her in a cemetery on Halloween night.

Witty, charming and magical describe the entertaining first Haunted Guest House mystery. The spirits interact with Alison, her daughter and mother as if they are alive; especially moxie Maxie with her antics to blackmail the heroine into investigating her demise. In between home repairs, a very frightened Alison tries to determine who is terrifying her and if the threat is tied to the deaths of her ghostly houseguests. Her trepidation and her relationship with her daughter make for an enjoyable paranormal amateur sleuth tale.

Harriet Klausner

Now You See Her-Merline Lovelace

Now You See Her
Merline Lovelace
Berkley, May 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425234761

Having time on her hands while waiting for her date to pick her up at Fort Bliss in El Paso, Air Force Future Systems Test Cadre 3 chief Second Lieutenant Samantha Spade runs a test on a new type of goggles. To the shock of the “Techno diva”, the goggles work perfectly. However even more stunning she sees a man in a ski mask holding a gun while stalking some prey.

Sam manages to warn bystanders and especially the apparent victim Sergeant Diane Roth, who runs over the sniper with her SUV. To both women's amazement, the dead culprit is a soldier suffering from PTSD; who served with his chosen victim in Afghanistan. As investigators and the media look into the case and things about Diane surface, Sam fears somehow she made All the Wrong Moves.

The latest Samantha Spade military mystery is an enjoyable investigative tale in which the experimental gizmos and the Air Force bureaucracy enhance the prime plot, Sam’s unofficial inquiry. Fast-paced throughout, readers will enjoy this fine thriller as revelations re media heroine Diane keep popping up, which has Sam digging deeper into why the assassination attempt.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Skein of the Crime-Maggie Sefton

Skein of the Crime
Maggie Sefton
Berkley, Jun 2010, $24.95
ISBN: 978042523438

She used to work at an East Coast CPA firm, but moved to the university town of Fort Connor where she opened up her own consulting service. She comes home one night and opens her patio door to let her Rottweiler Carl in when she sees a young woman nearby. When she speaks to her, the woman fails to respond or react to her surroundings. It is rather quickly that Kelly realizes the college student is very high; she calls 911 and the responders take the female away by ambulance.

A month later Kelly goes to the knitting store in the House of Lampspun to help the proprietor. Also there is Holly, the girl on the porch, who is sober and no longer attends so many parties. A few days later, Kelly hears that Holly died of an overdose near the path to the golf course by Kelly's home. Holly’s boyfriend Tommy, who she was dependent on, is upset and intends to find the seller. His mother begs him not to get involved because he can lose his medical scholarship. Kelly volunteers to snoop and keep Tommy informed. She asks Patty, a party girl, who was friends with Holly, to ask around to find out who was selling. Kelly follows up with each clue Polly provides and her own questioning of others until she concludes that Holly did not die from an accidental overdose; but to prove it remains seemingly out of reach.

The readers will quickly be engaged in Maggie Sefton’s latest amateur sleuth (see Drop Dead Stitch) due to the plight of the college student. Putting aside why Kelly investigates, she conducts a believable inquiry when she asks questions by having someone accompany her when she interviews someone. Enhancing the story line is the deteriorating relationship between Kelly and her boyfriend Steve the architect. Readers will enjoy the latest case as the protagonist knits together the death of a college student.

Harriet Klausner

Reel Murder-Mary Kennedy

Reel Murder
Mary Kennedy
Obsidian, Jun 2010, $6.99
ISBN: 9780451230843

Maggie gave up her well paying private practice as a clinical psychologist in Manhattan to host a radio show On The Couch With Maggie on WYME in Cypress Grove, Florida. Her show is below the bottom rung of the station; under the Swine Report. Most A list guests do not want to travel to the small hamlet, but a movie is coming to town thanks to director Hank Watson and Maggie’s mother Lola Watson has a role.

The producer of Maggie’s show thinks her ratings will jump if she gets the movie stars to come on the air with her. Maggie agrees to try to obtain interviews and learn what gossip is being tossed about. Hank asks Maggie to be a forensic consultant and she agrees as she can use the fee he offers her. Trouble occurs when someone shoots and kills the star Adriana St. James using a prop gun. Maggie investigates and learns that the actress was universally hated by all. Meanwhile someone does not like Maggie’s sleuthing and sends her warning notes to back off or else. She is fortunate not to get killed when a prop light falls on the chair she just vacated and her mother is lured into an empty warehouse where she is almost is killed. Neither the sexy police detective or Maggie knows who the killer is, but the perp plans to keep it that way even if a second victim is needed.

The latest “Talk Radio” amateur sleuth (see Dead Air) is an amusing mystery with quirky characters and several suspects with powerful motives. Occurring on a movie set, intrepid but foolish Maggie investigates and does so in a believable manner befitting a forensic psychologist. Readers will enjoy reading Mary Kennedy’s lighthearted whodunit as the heroine charms readers who will want her to conduct more future inquiries.

Harriet Klausner

Blackout in Precinct Puerto Rico-Steven Torres

Blackout in Precinct Puerto Rico
Steven Torres
Minotaur, Mar 2010, $24.99
ISBN: 9780312321130

In Angustias, Puerto Rico, town Sheriff Luis Gonzalo tells his young deputy Hector Pareda to enjoy his vacation time as he and his septuagenarian other deputy Emilio Collazo will work the beat. The two law enforcement officials make the rounds especially of the four parties reminding attendees to cause no trouble.

After a long day, Luis goes to sleep when he and his wife are awakened by screaming. He races outside follows the shrieks to the nearby Ferre home where the sixteen years old daughter Luisa is outside hysterical, totally naked except for a sock and scratching at her breast. She is taken to a hospital where the nurse on duty confirms she has been raped. All circumstantial evidence points to her unconscious intoxicated father, Francisco. Luis arrests him, but continues to investigate seeking further proof that the dad did the crime.

The latest Angustias police procedural is a superb tale with a great twist that shakes the sheriff, his elderly deputy, the townsfolk and readers. The key to the tale is the reaction of the townsfolk (including Luis and the teen victim’s mother) who believe Francisco raped the daughter as the circumstantial evidence proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that he did. With a look back in time to the case in an era when DNA testing did not exist, fans will feel the sheriff’s myriad of emotions as he works a horrific case.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Silent Truth-

Silent Truth
Sherrilyn Kenyon and Dianna Love
Pocket, Apr 20 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9781416597452

Bureau of American Defense operative Hunter Thornton-Payne has been a dedicated warrior since he joined the black ops squad. However he also has a personal vendetta, which the karabiner he carries with him always reminds him of. For four years ever since his newly married friend Eliot died on a mission off the coast of Kauai, Hawaii, he has hunted the killer; at the same time he avoids Eliot’s wife Cynthia and their son, unborn when he died.

Hunter attends a women’s shelter in Chicago as apparently a terrorist group to include Eliot’s killer plans to be there also. At the gala is investigative reporter Abbie Blanton who Hunter knew during his affluent social days. When her mother becomes critically ill following a visit to the women's center, Abbie investigates. However, neither she nor Hunter expected to run into each other and to be on the run from some bad dudes.

The latest BAD thriller (see Whispered Lies and Phantom in the Night) is a high octane romantic suspense starring two people who after each went rogue unites to elude danger. The story line is razor thin and takes abrupt leaps, but is fun to follow as Hunter fears love even before his best friend died, which accentuated his belief that operatives don’t marry, but Abbie has him crazy with desire even with danger engulfing them.

Harriet Klausner

Fortuna-Michael R. Stevens

Michael R. Stevens
Oceanview, May 1 2010, $25.95
ISBN 9781933515779

Bored computer science major at Stanford University Jason Lind loves playing the online game Fortuna, based on Renaissance Florence economics. However, his role playing character Father Allesandro da Scala begins to take over more of Jason's time than his real life. He soon falls into heavy debt due to his character, but remains addicted to playing the game even as he is aware of what he is doing as the Renaissance Father

Broke he leaves Stanford to work for his Uncle Frank at Global Packet Control (GPC); the same firm his dad worked at before he died in a car accident almost a decade ago. At GPC, Jason uncovers questionable probably illegal deals and underhanded practices that leave him wondering what to do, but he thinks Father da Scala would know how to proceed.

Though the premise feels over the top of Mount Whitney, this is an intriguing blending of on-line role playing and global economics, as Michael R. Stevens argues that both consist of players starring in roles other than themselves. Except for a romantic subplot that feels forced and required, readers will find the saga of Jason-Father Allesandro fascinating.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Memory-Donald E. Westlake

Donald E. Westlake
Hard Case (Dorchester), Apr 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780843963755

Traveling with a troupe actor Paul Cole wakes after being comatose for over fifty hours at Memorial Hospital after receiving a vicious beating from the husband who caught him having intercourse with his wife. City Police Lieutenant Murray informs Paul he can press assault charges while the cuckold spouse can counter with adultery; the cop suggests to the actor and the husband to file nothing.

With little money and Murray putting him on the bus to leave town, he heads east to New York City where he lives, but has to stop at Jeffords as he lacks the funds to get the rest of the thousand miles or so home. Worse his memory is failing him since he got his brains battered. He needs to build a future, but his past is foggy. He knows he needs to find work to come up with the $33.42 to get home. Unemployment offers him no employment except to check with Jeffords Leather Works who hire the unskilled. He soon learns how difficult it is for a person with a disability to get help from others.

Written in the 1960s, once the reader moves past the sticker shock of costs and Murray’s crime scenario, readers will relish this powerful still timely tale of a man struggling with memory issues while trying to get home to regroup. Paul is a great central character as he realizes increasingly the consequences of his indiscretion as well as the futility of dealing with people to busy to assist him especially those paid to do so. This is a great look at society through the eyes of a man condemned for life due to one relatively minor gaffe.

Harriet Klausner

Set Sail For Murder-R.T. Jordan

Set Sail For Murder
R.T. Jordan
Kensington, May 25 2010, $22.00
ISBN: 9780758229397

With the economy in the tank, even former TV stars like Polly Pepper feels the pinch. Her portfolio of investments has dramatically diminished and she will do anything to keep Polly Plantation running. Polly even accepts a show biz reunion with cast mates from the Polly Pepper show on a cruise ship for the Kool Krooz line.

The only major drawback is scene stealer Laura Crawford, who remains the ultimate diva; Polly dislikes the nasty sneak. However, someone else must detest the prima Donna as she is found dead in the spa area; the murder weapon is a sharpened Season Six CD of The Polly Pepper Playhouse DVD collection. With many of those on board having motives including her, Polly fishes for clues to the murderer by eliminating one by one those she deems innocent. When she figures out who the killer is, she fears telling the authorities because they will assume she is crying wolf; her silence leads to the culprit trying to kill her.

Although Polly is in the role like other former stars who once made it but no longer gets parts, she behaves like a diva so that her name remains before the public. Yet she also has a heart of gold which is proven by the way she carird for others. Imbued with a wink and humor especially witty repartee and sexual slapstick, Set Sail For Murder is a delightful lighthearted amateur sleuth.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Maps of Hell-Paul Johnston

Maps of Hell
Paul Johnston
Mira, May 1 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780778327783

When he regains consciousness, he finds himself naked and in pain. He cannot remember his name, where he is, or how he ended up without any clothing in a cell barely bigger than a closet. Although confused, he knows he is not a guest of whoever detained him so he must escape in order to regroup mentally and physically.

Fleeing his captivity, he begins to recall things taken for granted like he is British crime writer Matt Wells and was kidnapped by the NANR militia who brainwashed him in the Maine wilderness although he is unsure what they want him to do. Law enforcement on several levels seeks him out as a possible serial killer and for questioning in the disappearance of his pregnant lover, British DCI Karen Oaten. He eludes the militia, the FBI, and state and local police as he must learn what happened to his Karen and if still possible rescue her; to do this Matt needs to figure out what they did to him.

Told by Matt in a traumatic first hand account starting with his smelling his vomit in the cell, Maps of Hell is a superb action-packed thriller. Fast-paced throughout, readers will be spellbound as the hero struggles to survive, elude the enemy that includes cops, and seeks his beloved. Mindful of the Manchurian Candidate and the Prisoner only much more graphic as the “victim” tells the tale from his perspective, Paul Johnston affirms once again that he is one of today’s best thriller writers (see The Death List and The Soul Collector).

Harriet Klausner