Sunday, May 30, 2010

Imperial Bedrooms-Bret Easton Ellis

Imperial Bedrooms
Bret Easton Ellis
Knopf, Jun 15 2010, $24.95
ISBN: 9780307266101

Twenty-five years ago, they were Less Than Zero hipsters who thought they owned Los Angeles. Time has been cruel to those who survived the Hollywood scene of the mid 1980s.

Clay the screenwriter returns from New York to California where he does what he does best, party-hopping while seeking to sell a script he wrote. In his mind nothing has changed in two and half decades; perhaps that is because he parties in a purple haze of alcohol. As he makes the rounds, he runs into some of his hip playmates. His former wife Blair is married to Trent the producer. Julian owns and manages an escort service while Rip the dealer is more plastic than flesh. However except for a deal, Clay ignores the old crowd as his attention is on wannabe actress Rain Turner, who is 200 proof looks and zero talent. Julian warns him to be careful with Rain as she may seem like his submissive, but that might prove an alcoholic allusion as Clay begins to investigate deadly text messages and lurking cars.

With a nod to Elvis Costello, this is an interesting character driven thriller that though the story line is somewhat limited to the party-hopping it hooks readers with a need to know whether Clay as the narrator is a hallucinating paranoid from too much alcohol and drugs or a stalked victim. The support cast, as seen through Clay’s hazy lenses, enhances understanding of the lead protagonist. Although the plot deliberately turns cerebrally interpretively slow, fans, especially those of Less Than Zero, will appreciate Clay’s return as he hops the Imperial bedrooms of Los Angeles.

Harriet Klausner

Betrayed-Robert K. Tanenbaum

Robert K. Tanenbaum
Gallery (Pocket), Jul 2010, $26.00
ISBN: 9781439149232

The first charges of terrorism for the NYSE explosion filed against Harlem Islamic mosque leader Sharif Jabbar were dismissed in Escape. However, determined New York District Attorney Roger “Butch” Karp has filed new charges insisting new allegations have surfaced. As Jabbar waits trial in the Tombs, activist attorney Megan O’Dowd believes NYPD has a fake case against the Islamic Inman and plans to prove her assertion of fabricated digital information and harassment.

Karp’s wife Marlene Ciampi investigates the murder of socialite Michelle Oakley; the police arrest destitute kiosk owner Dirty Warren in the homicide of an escort owner. No one joins her crusade except David Grale, the insane religious leader of the tunnels Mole People sect. Her inquiry leads to another debutante vanishing in an underground of the influential affluent and their high priced call girls.

This is an exciting Karp-Ciampi (and the rest of the family) Manhattan crime fighting thriller. The story line starts slow as the back-story is provided for the audience. Once the two subplots take control, the story line accelerates as Butch makes the case against Jabbar and Ciampi makes the case for Warren.

Harriet Klausner

Damaged-Alex Kava

Alex Kava
Doubleday, Jul 13 2010, $24.95
ISBN: 9780385531993

Hurricane Isaac has not reached the Florida peninsular yet, but impacts the waves in the Gulf. Off of Pensacola, Coast Guard Lieutenant Commander Wilson orders AST 3 Liz Bailey to investigate what looks like a floating fisherman’s cooler. Although she is allowed to decline the dive as her mission is to rescue people not artifacts, she dives into the rough water. She completes the dangerous mission; inside the large container is a human foot.

FBI profiler Maggie O'Dell is sent to the Gulf to investigate the foot; Department of Homeland Security deputy director Charlie Wurth joins her while a forensics team matches the limb to missing Vince Coffland, who disappeared from Port St. Lucie during a hurricane. At the same time O’Dell works the foot case, her boyfriend, Colonel Benjamin Platt is also in Florida investigating a deadly bacteria killing soldiers in hospitals. The cases collide at the funeral parlor owned by O’Dell’s brother-in-law Scott Larsen whom Joe Black pays to preserve harvested body parts.

This is a terrific law enforcement thriller in which the scenes of the sea rescues occurs while a hurricane is bearing down (mindful if Irwin Allen TV movies) on the coast supersedes the actions of the heroine and her two investigative hunks. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Bailey dives into the water and never slows down, as she and her teammates steal the show. Readers will enjoy this exhilarating confrontation with Hurricane Isaac and a body parts harvester as the entreating thriller ends with a strong stunning twist.

Harriet Klausner

Hostage Zero-John Gilstrap

Hostage Zero
John Gilstrap
Pinnacle, Jul 1 2010, $6.99
ISBN 9780786020881

In Virginia, former marine now homeless Harvey Rodriguez finds the kid near death and tries to help Jeremy Schuler survive as he had been left for dead; his roommate Anthony at the school for children of jailed parents remains kidnapped. Not far away, posing as FBI Agent Leon Harris, freelance hostage rescuer Jonathan "Digger" Grave questions nineteen year old jailed prisoner Jimmy Henry while his associates Boxer and call me Ven-ee-chay” watch his progress and his back from different milieus. He tells the teen the associates who hired him they do not want any information re the kidnapping or shooting to get out so he will bust him out, but if betrays him he will kill him.

Digger and his team seek to save the lives of Jeremy and Anthony. The rescue expert is confused why these kids and others are being snatched as there is no ransom money available to make it worth kidnapping them. Thus they begin the quest with the only one caught: Jimmy Henry. However, though not one to put anything passed those in power, Grave is shocked when he realizes a connection between the government and the mob is behind the abductions.

This is an exciting thriller as the audience learns why the abductions occur, who the victims are, and what choices the older lads have between slave, overseer, or death. Fans will be hooked from the moment Digger goes after Jimmy and then his associates in what is a fast-paced action-packed tale as the hero and his teammates learn the hard way that the enemy kills with No Mercy to the innocent.

Harriet Klausner

The Witness-Josh McDowell

The Witness
Josh McDowell
Tyndale, Jul 1 2010, $14.99
ISBN: 9781414334127

In Monte Carlo, septuagenarian Rafeeq Ramsey is frightened for his life and that of his kidnapped wife Claudette especially since the abductees killed their twelve year old daughter. He paid their first of eleven million Euros ransom demand, but now they want twenty-five million or she dies and he will as well two days afterward. Having sold his firm Blue Nile to a French conglomerate he has the money and is willing to pay again, but believes his adversaries will kill Claudette and him anyway. Desperate the wealthy Egyptian hires Muslim Marwan Accad, who runs an executive security business.

Marwan shows a photo of Claudette withdrawing money from the bank in Sao Paul where the eleven million was deposited. Before the stunned elderly man could respond to the betrayal a sniper fires two shots through the window killing him. As Marwan wonders how the enemy knew that Ramsey hired Accad and Associates, they hunt him. He flees for North Africa with assassins and police from Europe and Africa stalkong him as he is the suspect in the homicide. Morocco proves unsafe so he heads to Cairo; the enemy keeps coming and they do not care about collateral damage. He also fears for Dalia Nour, a woman he has just met who by associating with him is in danger. Additionally with mortality chasing him to Saudi Arabia and elsewhere in the Middle East, Marwan ponders eternity and increasing evidence that the Christ is genuine.

The Witness is an exciting Christian conspiracy thriller that is at its best when the enemy chases after the hero as he overcomes overwhelming odds in various locales. The story line at times turns preachy especially at moments when Accad understands the maxim that there are no atheists in the trenches. Fans of international conspirator Christian thrillers will enjoy Marwan’s efforts to obtain the gift of salvation as he is the witness not the killer.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Misconceptions-Avner Hershlag

Avner Hershlag
iUniverse, Feb 2010, $18.95
ISBN: 9781440183874

Fertility expert Dr. Anya Krim has DC’s leading women as her patients. Currently she is working with the First Lady Janet Cartwright trying to keep her client’s embryos safe from DNA alteration and from anything else, natural or otherwise that could harm them.. However, the case that intrigues her most besides her own desire for a child is that of the senator’s comatose daughter Megan Tanner; the woman still in a coma for the last two years is pregnant.

Ethical and legal pressure mounts on Anya as her patients are reading about new unapproved techniques and making demands of her while the extremes of the political spectrum want to use her as a scapegoat to further their personal agendas. She understands the feelings of her patients as she too considers using some of these new untested medical breakthroughs on herself.

The key to this timely exhilarating medical thriller is that Dr. Avner Hershlag provides an insightful look at cutting edge fertility medicine without dumbing down or selecting a political agenda. With a strong lead character and a powerful support cast, aptly titled Misconception condemns the left and the right cherry picking information to defend their moral stance regardless of the victim of their so called ethnicity; the end defines the meanness of the means. Dr. Hershlag provides a winning profound look at what the health care debate ignored; the pressures a doctor faces in choosing the best care for a patient.

Harriet Klausner

Murder In The Hamptons-Danita Carter

Murder In The Hamptons
Danita Carter
Strebor (pocket), Jun 8 2010, $15.00
ISBN: 9781593092528

Detective Theodora Pratt knows the Hamptons have not seen a killing in quite awhile, but loathes all the spectators ruining the murder scene. The yacht near the floating corpse is owned by old money Liza Lord who explains to Pratt she provided a venue for newcomer Donovan Smart to throw his White and Platinum party introducing himself and his sister Reece and their friend Chyna to the neighbors of exclusive Coco Beach. Most of the snobs detest the nouveau riche rapper TuSmArt from the hood invading their turf; he just wanted them to know he and his sister are housetrained

Although the party was successful until the floater was found, most of the stuck-up locals are elated that the undesirables will be forced to leave in police custody. However, stereotyping the rapper is a mistake as Donovan is Einstein brilliant; he also unlike the notorious rappers prefers less dating because he wants a woman with the 3 Bs (beauty, body and brains). As Pratt hones in on the outsiders as suspects as well as flirty restaurant owner Troy, she also begins to revise her theory when the autopsy revealed in the body excessive Oxycontin, a prescription drug.

Murder in the Hamptons is a terrific police procedural that takes a deep look at whether money can buy class and social status; as Danita Carter makes a strong case that social status does not define class. Fast-paced with a nice twist, fans will relish Theo’s homicide investigation into a rapper who just wanted to take his sister and their BFF out of Brooklyn.

Harriet Klausner

Candlesticks-Sharon Ervin

Sharon Ervin
Five Star, Jun 16 2010, $25.95
ISBN: 9781594148767

In San Diego, American Wire Service chief Duke Mallory allows his enthusiastic intern Jancy Dewhurst to cover the South Beach burglaries; the fourth break-in when the family was not home. Police Detective Thad Bias tells her he is frustrated as his Captain O’Brien devastates crime scenes with his desire for TV appearances. Jancy soon realizes the oddity of the serial robberies is besides valuables, the thief takes candlesticks.

After writing a couple of articles that are published with her by-line, Jancy receives several threatening phone calls. Her fiancé Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation agent Jim Willis takes time off to be with Jancy to insure she is safe. Jim and Jancy marry as planned and go on their honeymoon when she reads in the Denver paper that robberies similar to those in San Diego with the candlesticks stolen have occurred. Soon their lives are threatened by a dangerous culprit obsessed with candlesticks and more.

The third Jancy journalist investigation (see The Ribbon Murders and Murder Aboard the Choctaw Gambler) is a superb sleuthing thriller that also moves forward the relationship between the heroine and her Fed who marry and honeymoon during this storyline. Fast-paced throughout, fans will relish this enjoyable thriller with a terrific twist although the thief once identified comes across too deranged even while that moved the plot from California to Colorado. Still fans will enjoy Jancy’s jaunt into marriage and her latest whodunit.

Harriet Klausner

Bride of the Living Dead-Lynne Murray

Bride of the Living Dead
Lynne Murray
Pearlsong Press, Jun 2010, $18.95
ISBN: 978159719026

San Francisco Indie Film Edge critic Daria MacClellan sort of attends her perfect sister Sky’s perfect wedding. Sky’s perfect plan excludes her overweight sibling as only size 5 is acceptable at her nuptials to Richard the perfect husband.

At the Camera Obscura Digitalis film festival showing of Top Soil Despair, Daria and Oscar Winslow meet when both find the inane flick amusing. They begin seeing each other, fall in love and plan to marry though her ex boyfriend, his ex girlfriend and his mom who would prefer a serial killer for a daughter-in-law. His teenage sisters on the other hand root for her. However, the worst intrusion comes from Sky, whose perfect happily perfect ever after has fallen apart. She becomes her sister’s wedding planner from hell.

This is an entertaining jocular romance of a big woman with doubts that she can keep a hunk like Oscar until he admits he went to the movie in which they met when he saw her outside and followed her in to the theater. Character driven, Daria learns a lesson about the perfect perception caused by envy would have pleased tutor Pangloss of Candide with a nod to Joe. E. Brown as Osgood’s final comment in Some Like It Hot. Living life large to some people is natural and they feel good in their own skin which is why Lynne Murray provides such an interesting tale of a picture perfect wedding.

Harriet Klausner

Galveston-Nic Pizzolatto

Nic Pizzolatto
Scribner, Jun 15 2010, $25.00
ISBN: 9781439166642

In 1987 forty year old tough guy mob enforcer Roy “Big Country” Cady had always believed nothing could harm him. He grew up in Texas only to watch his father fall to his death and his mother commit suicide. He took a job with his late dad’s boss as a local enforcer and moved on to New Orleans. Now he learns differently as he finds out he has lung cancer.

Before he can cope, Roy’s boss mobster Stan Ptitko assigns him a simple task; however Big Country senses something is not right and cautiously assumes he is being set up for a hit. His hunch proves right and so does his vigilance. Roy took out the hitmen the old fashion way by killing them while rescuing teenage whore Raquel “Rocky” Arceneaux. He takes her with him as he leaves New Orleans for his hometown Galveston. On the way Rocky convinces Roy to pick up her three years old sister Tiffany in remote Orange. He takes the two girls to Galveston where he puts them up in a motel while he becomes a one man crime wave who plans to finish by extorting money from his former fuming employer.

This is a terrific redemption tale as Roy the hard boiled killer tries to become the savior of two young females. The story line is filled with vivid gory action but character driven by mostly Roy, but to a lesser degree Rocky who the hitman hopes to save so that he has some solace before he dies. Although the segue involving two decades into the future take away from a powerful end of life effort to do the right thing one time in one’s life, fans will relish the visit to Galveston.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, May 28, 2010

Stork Raving Mad-Donna Andrews

Stork Raving Mad
Donna Andrews
Minotaur, Jul 6 2010, $24.99
ISBN: 9780312621193

In the last few weeks of her pregnancy, Caerphilly College Meg Langslow is struggling with finding adequate housing for recently displaced students (due to a heating plant problem). This includes one of her husband associate professor Michael Waterston’s grad students Ramon Soto. In fact their home is housing several students including Ramon

Besides a housing issue, Ramon is upset after the English Department’s nasty Dr. Jean Wright accompanied by admin services Dr. Enrique Blanco arrive to inform him his dissertation proposal a play is rejected. They explain his topic the performance of an obscure anti-Franco play is not acceptable as it contains offensive material. Soon afterward, someone kills Jean in the Langslow library. Meg investigates as only she can.

Although carrying twins and about to give birth in two weeks, Meg waddles her way through an amusing investigation. The key to this jocular jaunt is the heroine as she works on two difficult issues: how many people can you fit into a room and who killed the odious Wright. Readers will enjoy the best pregnancy whodunit since Fargo.

Harriet Klausner

Unspeakable-Laura Griffin

Laura Griffin
Pocket, Jun 29 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9781439152959

All her life, Elaina McCord wanted to be a profiler in the B.A.U. unit of the FBI like her father did. She is assigned to the Brownsville, Texas Branch of the agency, but her boss SAC Scarborough makes it clear he does not respect her or want her on his team. Elaine believes that without a miracle, her probation will end with her firing.

On Lito Island, Texas, two women have been killed in gruesome ways that make even veteran officers used to ugly homicide scenes need to puke. Elaine is assigned to the case because her chief figures she will quit once she sees the corpses. Her profiles are to be given to Police Chief Matt Branch. He dismisses her as a loser; saying she is out of her league. When a third female goes missing, they lack proof they are dealing with a serial killer. True crime writer Troy Slaton wrote a book re a killer who certified killing one of the victims from another series of murders that happened five years ago, but the author now believes that psychopath lied. He teams up with Elaine to find the real murderer. Elaine links the homicides from five years ago to those happening now and she receives help from the San Marcus police officer who worked the previous cold case. The killer contacts Elaine who sees a butterfly design on two of the victims and traces that to an online game. She begins to figure out who took the web game from virtual reality to reality.

Laura Griffin’s fantastic romantic suspense will be enjoyed by fans of Nora Roberts and Andrea Kane. Elaine is hurt by the sexist treatment of her superiors at the FBI, but she is also is not a quitter; instead she is obsessed to prove her worth and is determined to help solve the case. Her bull dog tenacity to demonstrate she is more than equal to the law men putting her down and almost out enhance a strong investigative thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Fall-Colin McAdam

Colin McAdam
Riverhead, Jun 1 2010, $15.00
ISBN: 9781594484643

At affluent prestigious St. Ebury School in Sutton, Canada, the son of an American diplomat extroverted athletic Julius and the lovely Fallon are an entry. All the guys at school want Fall as their girlfriend, but the most envious is Julius’ roommate the intellectual reticent loner Noel. Still in spite of his coveting Fall, Noel and Julius become buddies.

The administration punishes Julius for a typical teenage stunt; his punishment is confinement to his room. Unable to see Fall, he asks his friend to visit her. Noel’s fixation for Fall intensifies as he has the opportunity to spend time alone with the object of his adulation even if it is only as a surrogate. Soon after he begins seeing Fall, she vanishes.

Told in rotation by the two male roommates, Fall is a profound psychological suspense tale. The audience gets to know the obsessions of both male teens and through their respective reflective lenses somewhat the female each cherishes in their own way. Part of the insight is how different Julius and Noel are in their behavior especially their relationships with others; but ironically how similar they are when it comes to Fall. Readers who appreciate a character psychoanalytical profile will relish Fall as the action including what happened to the girl takes a back seat to the astute look at the rivals who desire her

Harriet Klausner

End of the Line-Mike Manno

End of the Line
Mike Manno
Five Star, Jun 16 2010, $25.95
ISBN: 9781594148637

In Dallas County, Special Investigations Unit Detective Sergeant Jerome Stankowski and Deputy Attorney General Parker Noble investigate the murder of disgraced banker Rhett J. Butler; shot to death on a city bus. R.J. as he was called was working insurance claims having been forced to resign from his position as Great Plains State Bank downtown branch president due to $80,000 being missing.

As the pair interviews those who rode the bus, worked with the victim, and his family (first and second wives), Stan meets two women (bank teller Kitty Quinn and Teri Barkley niece of a restaurant owner) who offer to help him with his statistics class. Buffy Cole the reporter who worked with the pair on the Murder Most Holy Case offers to help him on this one too. Stan believes the second wife, cheesecake model Linda and her boyfriend drug counselor Bob Maxwell killed him so she would not be cut out of his estate when they divorced. However, Noble thinks that is too simple as the embezzled money remains missing. Then there is the first wife who hated R.J.

Readers will enjoy the return of Parker and “Cousin Stanley” as they investigate a case that started as bank embezzlement, in which the prime suspect is murdered. Parker is his terrific know it all self starting with the bloodhound hearsay lecture and never lets up with his unique brand of sardonic winking wisdom. Stan is a solid cop who this time has three women in his life, but at the same time none in his life. Ironically Buffy plays a lesser but more pivotal role than in the Murder Most Holy case as she shares second banana billing with a lot of other females. Hopefully this is not the End of the Line for this dynamic trio.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Bohemian Girl-Kenneth Cameron

The Bohemian Girl
Kenneth Cameron
Minotaur, Jun 8 2010, $24.99
ISBN: 9780312538972

After traveling by motor car with his faithful companions Rupert and Harold on the continent for the last six months, tired American novelist General Denton returns to his home in London. He hopes to obtain some respite having spent two months of his time in a horrible Transylvanian jail, but feels the jaunt in the jalopy was worth it.

However, rest will wait when he opens a two month old letter of desperation from Mary Thomason, whom he does not know. She pleaded with him to help her. Denton learns that Aubrey Heseltine delivered the letter that he had found attached to the back of a painting. While Denton seeks to learn more about his potential client, someone is stalking Denton.

This is an excellent early twentieth century mystery that contains two strong subplots in which Kenneth Cameron seemingly effortlessly interweaves them back and forth before tying them together. Fast-paced yet enabling the reader to have a strong sense of time and place, The Bohemian Girl is a terrific historical thriller due to a powerful cast led by General (see The Frightened Man for his previous appearance).

Harriet Klausner

A Bad Day for Pretty-Sophie Littlefield

A Bad Day for Pretty
Sophie Littlefield
Minotaur, Jun 8 2010, $24.99
ISBN: 9780312559755

In Prosper, Missouri Widow Stella Hardesty and Sheriff Goat Jones enjoy dining together with both looking forward to an after dinner snack. However, Goat’s soon to be ex wife Brandy arrives intoxicated and hysterical; claiming she needs protection. Stella leaves frustrated as hurricane Brandy is quite a storm.

Stella stops at her sewing-machine repair shop she inherited from her late husband Ollie. While looking in on her assistant Chrissy Shaw, Stella answers the phone. Former wife abuser and ex Oxycontin addict Neb Donovan has been arrested for the murder of a woman. Apparently a tornado tore apart the demolition-derby stadium snack revealing a body had been interred there. Neb poured the concrete that was ripped open. Stella, feeling she still needs to protect Neb’s wife Donna like she did when her husband was a druggie, investigates.

Sophie Littlefield’s amateur sleuth return (see A Bad Day for Sorry) is a soft boiled crime caper as the heroine balances her inquiry and her desire for “Blue Eyes” in a fun lighthearted whodunit. Sub-genre fans will enjoy cozying with Stella, who could have been a contender except that the inane shenanigans of Brandy and her boyfriend Wil might leave her dead instead.

Harriet Klausner

The Blood Harvest-S. J. Bolton

The Blood Harvest
S. J. Bolton
Minotaur, Jun 8 2010, $25.99
ISBN: 9780312600518

Alice and Gareth Fletcher and their three young children (ten years old Tom, six years old Joe, and two years old Millie) move to remote Heptonclough, England. Soon after their arrival, Tom and Joe dodge a gang of nasty boys at a graveyard and church. Later Tom informs his parents that a girl in the shadows seems to be spying on him. Alice and Gareth assume their oldest is letting his imagination play with his mind. However, when Millie is almost killed in what looked like a deliberate action to her older brothers, Tom and Joe vow to watch her.

New vicar Reverend Harry Laycock also senses something is not right. Psychiatrist Dr. Evi Oliver introduces the Reverend to her patient Gillian Royle, who has never recovered from the death of her toddler Hayley in a fire three years ago. Harry finds out about two other similar deaths of young girls (Lucy and Megan) and begins to fear for Millie, but it is Joe who goes missing.

Readers will appreciate this scary psychological supernatural saga as the locale seems serene yet bizarre deadly events occur in which mostly the newcomers as strangers in a strange setting are the only ones truly seeing the horror. Fast-paced, the audience needs to set aside time because S.J. Bolton’s thriller is extremely difficult to put down as fans will want to know what the Blood Harvest of little children (three dead in one coffin, for instance) is.

Harriet Klausner

The Taking of Libbie, SD-David Housewright

The Taking of Libbie, SD
David Housewright
Minotaur, Jun 8 2010, $24.99
ISBN: 9780312559960

Two men dressed for combat invade the home of former cop turned millionaire Rushmore McKenzie in St. Anthony, Minnesota. They take him to Libbie, South Dakota. Befuddled by the abduction, Mac is taken aback when he learns the townsfolk believe he is a con artist; whose scheme threatens to bankrupt Libbie.

However, he persuades the city council and law enforcement they arrested the wrong man. Apparently someone stole his identity to pull off the scam. Instead of suing for false arrest, he offers to help catch the crook; somewhat out of altruism but more so because city council member Tracie Blake is pretty. As he digs deep into the con, Mac concludes the plot needed insider help to make it happen, but his questioning of townsfolk angers the residents who reject his theory as they believe no local would do such a thing.

This is an intriguing thriller as the townsfolk reject the hero’s assertion that the con artist pulled off the scam with insider information; most of the locals prefer to believe Mac is the miscreant. The investigation he is doing expands as he also looks into a double homicide. The Taking of Libbie, SD is a fast-paced exciting tale that will hook readers from the starting snatch to the twisting finish and seek McKenzie’s backlist (see Jelly's Gold and Tin City).

Harriet Klausner

Buy Back-Brian Wiprud

Buy Back
Brian Wiprud
Minotaur, Jun 8 2010, $24.99
ISBN: 9780312601881

Insurance companies hire recovery expert Tommy Davin to retrieve stolen property; usually the Brooklyn native pays a small fee to the thief enabling the insurance company to receive the item without having to pay out full value.

Tommy has some debt problems since his girlfriend Yvette left for Vegas leaving him with her IOUs to Vince Scanlon. He knows he better pay Vince off even though it is not his debt as Vince believes in extended definitions of relationships when it comes to breaking body parts. Tommy persuades three buddies led by Huey to steal three paintings from the Whitbread Museum so he can collect the recovery fee from the insurance company. The plan works, but as his pals leave the museum with the art, they are mugged by two thugs with guns; the paintings are stolen from Tommy’s thieves. NYPD suspects Tommy is the mastermind while Vince wants his money now. Finally there is the insane Russian who obsesses over Yvette by stealing her abandoned cats.

Brooklyn is becoming too hot for Tommy as he plays dodge ball .with a “debt” collecting mob, the cops, and the cat thieve; the first is deadly; the second is a lock up; but the third is bewildering. All this insanity goes on while he seeks the thieves who stole from his thieves. Buy Back is a superb amusing over the top of the Brooklyn Bridge crime cape in which readers will expect Elmore Leonard to show up.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Blind Spot-Nancy Bush

Blind Spot
Nancy Bush
Zebra, Jul 1 2010, $6.99
ISBN 9781420103410

In Tillamook County, Oregon psychologist Claire Norris provides counseling to clients at Halo Valley Security Hospital. She does her best to be there for her patients as she personally never moved on from when one of clients paranoid schizophrenic Heywood Marsden III killed his girlfriend, Melody Stone, in front of her and tried to kill her too.

At a rest stop, someone kills Rafe and tries to remove the baby from Tasha’s womb, but failed; Tasha is left in a catatonic state at Laurelton General’s Hospital. Claire accepts the woman as a patient. The late Melody’s brother Police detective Langdon Stone leads the official investigation. Like herself, he blames Claire for his sister’s homicide. However as their mutual disregard turns ardently heated the cop and the doctor team up to prevent another murder from occurring.

This is a fast-paced thriller with a great late twist, but at times slows down with an extremely deep profound look at a psychopath’s obsessive compulsive behavior; in this case pregnant women and mothers. Claire is terrific as she tries to help her patients even when the law and her bosses warn her to back down or else. Although the romantic subplot seems over the top of Rogers Peak as the lead pair has a tragic history, fans will enjoy this exciting action-packed thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Diva Las Vegas-Eileen Davidson

Diva Las Vegas
Eileen Davidson
Obsidian, Jul 6 2010, $6.99
ISBN: 9780451230751

Former Playmate Shana Stern invites soap opera star Alex Peterson to the annual Halloween party at the Playboy Mansion. Alex escorted by her BFF George comes as Little Bo Peep, but looking at the nakedness surrounding her feels more like a lost sheep. However, instead of a good time, she finds her hostess dead, a murder victim. Unable to resist due to a connection to the victim especially since Shana was telling her she was in trouble and she has had success as an amateur sleuth (see Dial Emmy for Murder) the actress investigates.

As she makes her inquiries, Alex finds there is little progress. However, she works the case in between taping of the TV show and eluding her fans who interfere with her investigation. Alex also deals with her ex Randy who wants custody of their daughter Sarah and her boyfriend LAPD Detective Frank Jakes who wants her off the case and demands more quality time with her.

Diva Las Vegas is an amusing whodunit with the tsuris that Alex seems to step into being the prime story line while the investigation takes a back seat. The sleuthing is pure “luck being a leading lady tonight” (from the cover) as Alex makes no progress investigating the case until she “lucks” into the solution. Still fans of the soap opera amateur sleuth series will enjoy this jocular entry because it takes a talented writer to create a work like this.

Harriet Klausner

Ashes to Water-Irene Ziegler

Ashes to Water
Irene Ziegler
Five Stars, Jun 16 2010, $25.95
ISBN: 9781594148606

In 1962, Helen Bartlett, a nurse and mother of two daughters, drowns herself in Widow Lake, Florida near their family house. Her children Leigh and Annie blame their fathered for their mom killing themselves. Annie begins talking and seeing her mom’s spirit as the child believes her mother became a mermaid.

In 1981 DeLeon Deputy Sheriff Raina Salceda calls Annie who resides in Michigan that her father was murdered by his live in girlfriend Della Frome who bashed his head in with an oar. Annie calls Leigh in Atlanta. Engaged to a nice man with a teenage daughter problem, Annie travels to DeLeon where her childhood best friend Pete Duncan meets her at the airport. He is also Della’s defense attorney, but he feels the evidence is so overwhelming that he wants to plea bargain. After seeing her dad’s corpse, Annie visits Della in prison; the woman eerily looks like her mom circa 1962 and insists developer Kingfisher Powell killed Ed whom she says she loved. Annie begins asking questions as her mom’s spirit tells her to stop as does her sister who needs the money due to her abusive boyfriend who insists that they would get it if Della is convicted as they would inherit and sell the land.

Ashes to Water is an intriguing psychological amateur sleuth who-done -it. The murder investigation is well written, but supports a deep look at two sisters who as adults cope differently with their mother killing herself though they share in common holding their father culpable. Whereas Annie “communicates” with her mom’s ghost, Leigh has been involved in a serial string of bad relationships. Readers will appreciate this fascinating thriller as Annie seeks the truth about her parents as much as who killed her dad while Leigh wants to sell the property. Character driven (even from the grave), Irene Ziegler provides a powerful thriller (see Rules of the Lake, not read by me, for Annie’s previous appearance).

Harriet Klausner

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Rebellion of Jane Clarke-Sally Gunning

The Rebellion of Jane Clarke
Sally Gunning
Morrow, Jun 1 2010, $24.99
ISBN: 9780061782145

In 1769 in Satucket on Cape Cod, twenty-two years old Jane Clarke rejects marriage to the loyalist Phinnie Paine chosen by her father. Outraged by his daughter’s disobedience, he exiles her to take care of her elderly great-aunt Gill in Boston.

Jane enjoys the independence of not residing under her father’s tyrannical thumb and being near the British Custom House, she meets some of the leaders demanding representation in parliament. She becomes friends with Henry Knox and through her brother meets John Adams. As the men she meets become increasingly frustrated with the British efforts to restrain Bostonians, she fears violence will happen as she realizes those fomenting revolt are not interested in truths that detract from their argument of throwing the British out. Finally her premonition turns true when several protestors are killed at what the rebelling colonists call the Boston Massacre.

The Rebellion of Jane Clark is a super historical thriller that through the heroine’s eyes focuses on key participants and others caught in the dispute in the days just prior to the American Revolution. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Jane is exiled to Boston and never slows down; yet enables readers to witness how divided the Massachusetts colonists were re revolt vs. allegiance. Sally Gunning’s terrific tale brings to life the prime time players, their impact on others, and life in Boston as rebellion is on the minds of every citizen; with families divided between for, against, and neutral

Harriet Klausner

A Fierce Radiance-Lauren Belfer

A Fierce Radiance
Lauren Belfer
Harper, Jun 15 2010, $25.99
ISBN: 9780061252518

In Manhattans, Life Magazine sends photographer thirty something Claire Shipley to cover the report that medical scientists have developed an elixir from mold that looks like it will help with diseases. The single mom who lost her daughter years ago due to an infection/poison in her blood is exhilarated with what she hears at the briefing.

Dr. James Stanton who heads the research is attracted to Claire; she reciprocates and soon they are engaged. As Pearl Harbor draws the United States into the war, the pharmaceutical giants want to control mass production of penicillin. At the same time James’ sister mycologist Tia searches for relatives of penicillin, but something with promise vanishes from her lab. The Feds with publisher Henry Luce cooperating use Claire to help with their inquiry while her financier father wants control of the new industry. James, who was overseas helping with the deploying of penicillin, comes home believing that his future father-in-law had his sister murdered and her former boyfriend stole the promising antitoxin cousin from Tia.

This is an interesting look at historical industrial espionage and murder during WWII. The story line effortlessly moves back and forth between New York City boardrooms, labs and battlefield medicine. Adding to the sense of being at the forefront of the antibiotic revolution is Life magazine photo ops (through Claire’s camera lens). Although the personal relationships add depth to the lead couple, their estrangement and romance slows down an otherwise electrifying deep look back at a wild medical frontier.

Harriet Klausner

The Exile-Andrew Britton

The Exile
Andrew Britton
Kensington, Jul 1 2010, $25.00
ISBN 9780758242693

In Darfur, the Janjaweed militia attacks a refugee camp where they brutally kill American nurse Lily Durant. However, Lily is not just another American in the wrong place at the wrong time; she was the niece of President David Brenneman.

Defense Intelligence Agency General Joel Stralen sees an opportunity to gain an edge over his unit’s prime rival the CIA. He pushes strongly for punishing Sudanese leader Omar al-Bashir, as he swears to his close friend he has slam dunk information the attack was not random. The vicious dictator ordered the assassination of Lily. CIA Deputy Director Jonathan Harper asks former operative Ryan Kealey to investigate before Stralen rushes America to judgment.

The latest Kealey espionage thriller (see The American, The Assassin and The Invisible) is an exciting action-packed tale in which the DIA and CIA argue merit of a retaliatory strike like Reagan ordered against Gaddafi. Fast-paced, fans of the series will enjoy accompanying the hero to Africa and back though the story line is somewhat sub-genre standard as Kealey once again affirms spying is a team sport, if one wants to obtain the information and live

Harriet Klausner

The Cabal-David Hagberg

The Cabal
David Hagberg
Forge, Jul 6 2010, $24.99
ISBN 9780765320209

In Washington DC, CIA agent Todd Van Buren meets his college friend Washington Post reporter Josh Givens at a D.C. restaurant. Josh mentions to Todd he's investigating an apparent top secret government cell the Friday Club. He insists the group consists of political and military insiders who from the shadows run the government.

Not long after they depart, two snipers assassinate Todd, who ran the CIA training “Farm” with his wife Elizabeth, as he drives on the Interstate near Fredericksburg, Maryland. A few hours later, assassins murder Josh, his wife and their son in their townhouse. Former CIA Director Kirk McGarvey has no time to grieve the death of his son-in-law. Fuming, he vows to find the killers, their handlers, and their leaders as more people are murdered; some even closer to him.

The latest ultra fast-paced McGarvey thriller is an exhilarating action-packed tale with several twists that even the hero never anticipated. Fast-paced throughout, McGarvey struggles with psychological trauma like none he faced before even when he dealt with a best friend mole inside the agency and staying alive as he climbs the pyramid of the Friday Club hierarchy.

Harriet Klausner

Sidney Sheldon's After the Darkness-Sidney Sheldon, Tilly Bagshawe

Sidney Sheldon's After the Darkness
Sidney Sheldon, Tilly Bagshawe
Morrow, May 25 2010, $25.99
ISBN: 9780061728303

To the shock and dismay of her family, Manhattan socialite Grace Knowles marries legendary hedge fund manager Lenny Brookstein. Her family objects to her wedding Lenny because the groom is as old her parents.

Still the couple seems happy together until Lenny’s hedge fund Quorum, up until recently the top performer ever, lose $75 billion. Lenny does not appear shaken about the downturn as if nothing went wrong. However, when he goes sailing off Nantucket, he fails to come home. The police arrest Grace accusing her of securities fraud. Grace escapes leading to NYPD Detective Mitch Connors trying to find her. As she tries to prove her innocence, Lenny’s body is found and Mitch helps the allegedly felonious socialite.

The second Sheldon thriller first (see Sidney Sheldon's Mistress of the Game) is an entertaining over the top of the Empire State Building tale starring a wealthy woman with only socialite skills turning into superhero. Fast-paced from the moment Lenny fails to come home, fans will enjoy After the Darkness as long as you suspend belief by leaving your credibility meter in the drawer as Grace proves to be a retaliatory superwoman.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, May 23, 2010

What's Really Hood!-Victor L. Martin, LaShonda Teague, Bonta, Shawn "Jihad" Trump and Wahida Clark

What's Really Hood!
Victor L. Martin, LaShonda Teague, Bonta, Shawn "Jihad" Trump and Wahida Clark
Grand Central, May 25 2010, $14.99
ISBN: 9780446539166

“Black Is Blue” by Victor L. Martin. In Raleigh, legal assistant Desiree falls in love with Polo the thug. She wants him to go straight while he wants her to walk on the other side.

“The P is Free” by LaShonda Teague. Eighteen years old Wiz is addicted to the money selling drugs makes him. Crystal had it all including two years at Rutgers until she met crack. They fall love, but she realizes they are destroying each other, but she is doubtful whether she can stop her addiction to save their souls.

“The Last Laugh” by Bonta. The Eight-Trey street gangbanger Bobo goes to see his five year old daughter, but her mama tall Carla beats him up for his dallying with Tasha. Others are after him too over Tasha; the streets are turning meaner for BoBo.

“All For Nothing” by Shawn "Jihad" Trump. In McKeesport, the Point Blank Mob learns one of their members is facing a long sentence due to an informant wearing a wire. An affront to one is an affront to all so they go after the bi*ch who started the war even if law enforcement is coming for the gang. Jihad, like most of the crew with one exception, chooses fight over flight.

“Makin' Endz Meet” by Wahida Clark. Nina is tired of men using her like Cream just did. She vows no more, but Reese seems different; still she wants to get her child back with her friend Michelle as the only person she trusts.

This is a strong urban collection of life at its realistic meanest in the hood. Each entry is bloody while containing strong lead characters and a solid cast who bring to life What’s Really Hood!

Harriet Klausner

Hungry Spirits-Alice Duncan

Hungry Spirits
Alice Duncan
Five Star, Jun 16 2010, $25.95
ISBN: 9781594149122

In 1921 Pasadena, debutant Stacy Kincaid who recently jointed the Salvation Army asks Daisy Gumm Majesty to teach a cooking class. Once the spiritualist understands her adversary, the daughter of her best client, is serious, she explains she burns water. Her family including her severely war injured spouse laugh at the concept of her teaching immigrants to cook as all including Daisy are thankful for Aunt Vi doing the cooking. However when Salvation Army Captain Johnny Buckingham asks, she says yes; she cannot refuse him.

Daisy learns that some of her students might be Germans. Though she knows these women did not cause the Kaiser’s war or the mustard gas permanent injuries to Billy, she loathes the race. Johnny gives her and the students cookbooks, which he chose based on price. Her first meal works reasonably well though one of the students vanishes before class ends when Police Detective Sam Rotondo arrives. However, the women want help from Daisy that has nothing to do with cooking while an anarchist scheme is boiling over.

The latest post WWI era “Spirits” novel is a terrific historical that contains a strong mystery subplot. Daisy and the strong cast including the repeat characters from previous books (see Strong Spirits and Fine Spirits) and the cooking class make for a fascinating deep look at 1921 California.

Harriet Klausner

Torn Apart-Shane Gericke

Torn Apart
Shane Gericke
Pinnacle, Jul 1 2010, $6.99
ISBN: 9780786020393

Four thugs working for child pornographer, white slaver and drug dealer Cash Maxximus kidnap a teen and have sex with her. They give her a designer drug named Katrina, which takes only one dose to make someone addicted. The foursome plays too rough and kills their victim. Without a thought they dispose of the corpse off a bridge in Wisconsin. When they stop to change a tire, local Sheriff Spencer Abbott checks them out; they kill him and dump his body into the river before leaving for Naperville, Illinois.

The Hawkman serial killer is sending body parts to Naperville Detective Emily Thompson Even though she is afraid she persuades her husband Marty to go hunting. . The leader of the crooks Karl Dittmer kidnaps the two children of Emily’s partner; she rescues one of the kids, but the killer gets away with the other. NPD is on full search and rescue while detective Robert Hawkins needs one million dollars to save the life of his little girl through experimental therapy. He finesses the Katrina from Dittmer and sells it back to Maxximus. Marty finds Abbott who gives him the names of the killers while Emily is trapped by the Hawkman leading to another NPD officer rescue attempt.

Putting aside Naperville being the murder capital, the third police procedural (see Cut to the Bone and Blown Away) is a complicated thriller with several subplots that Shane Gericke effortlessly blends into a strong story line. The villains are perverts who have no qualms about molesting little girls before giving them to a sexual slave trader to sell to other psycho sex predators. Emily is a dedicated cop who will work outside of legal limitations if the case like these required extraordinary rendition.

Harriet Klausner

The Grave Gourmet-Alexander Campion

The Grave Gourmet
Alexander Campion
Kensington, Jul 1 2010, $22.00
ISBN: 9780758246691

Chef Jean-Basile Labrousse owns the three-star Diapason restaurant. When he kicks a bag of squash in his freezer, it feels more like meat to him. He opens the bag to find the body of Jean-Louis Delage, the president-directeur general of Renault; who dined there earlier in the evening with his attorney.

With everyone else tied up, Le Commissaire Talon assigns twenty-eight years old Parisian Police Detective Capucine Le Tellier for the lead on the case; her first field crime scene assignment as her work has been office reviews of white collar crime. She receives insider help on the restaurant side of her investigation from her dining critic husband, Alexandre. At Renault, she learns the firm is working on a fuel efficiency process that would allow vehicles to run on one third the amount of gas; and that several countries and rival companies have industrial spies trying to steal the secret. Capucine knows if she wants more homicide work, she must resolve the case with its international implications as well as the country’s frenzy over an icon being murdered.

With a lighthearted look at the City of Lights through the eyes of delightful droll Parisians and foreign nationals, readers will enjoy dining in Paris with Capucine (who is not remotely close in performance to The Pink Panther of Inspector Clouseau) as their tour guide. The Grave Gourmet is a wonderful French police procedural that highlights the industrial espionage threat to nations and companies as even allies spy on one another. Alexander Campion provides a mesmeric opening act starring a magnifico female protagonist.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Snowbound-Blake Crouch

Blake Crouch
Minotaur, Jun 22 2010, $25.99
ISBN: 9780312425739

Rachel Innis works late at the free clinic in Sonnoyta just thirty miles north of the border. She heads home during a thunderstorm, but swerves to avoid a deer on the road. She stops the car, but a man with a crowbar slams at her window.

Her husband Will the Attorney works on a closing brief while waiting for his wife to come home, but dozes off. The cops inform him they found her abandoned vehicle with the driver’s side window smashed and no blood. Will, accompanied by his beloved eleven year old daughter Devlin, a cystic fibrosis victim, leaves as he believes they not just suspect him, the police want to hang him for his legal defense record

Over the next five years, Will and Devlin move around and change identities. Now FBI agent Kalyn Sharp finds Will and explains she knows he is innocent. He agrees to work with the Fed to learn what happened to his still missing wife.

This is an exciting thriller, but readers must leave their credibility meter somewhere as Will comes across extremely illogical especially with his assumption of guilt when he is a lawyer and raking his daughter’s who has a chronic disease when she had family options to keep her safe. Fast-paced throughout, fans will want to know just like Will and Devlin what happened to Rachel.

Harriet Klausner

Home Dead for Christmas-Tony Fenelly

Home Dead for Christmas
Tony Fenelly
CreateSpace, Dec 2009, $12.95
ISBN: 9781442133341

In 1998 in New Orleans, elderly affluent Cyril Jessup orders gossip columnist Margo Fortier to come see him at his mansion. He shows her a picture from three decades ago in which she and three other strippers are with his son, a soldier who died in Viet Nam shortly after the photo was taken. Now Glen Charles Watley claims to be his grandson, sired with one of the girls in the photograph. Glen has DNA testing affirming his assertion. Cyril hires Margo to investigate which of the two other white girls is Glen’s mother; he eliminated the black female and Margo’s history is easy to find out.

In 1970, Margo, Coffee, Patsy and Conchita stripped as well as tended bar at Madame Julie’s. They befriended a soldier Gerald who was deploying shortly to Vietnam. .By the end of the month, they went their separate ways. When Glen’s former girlfriend from Minnesota shows up and is murdered, Margo wonders why.

Home Dead for Christmas is an entertaining historical tale that evolves in the latter half into a murder mystery. The story line looks deeply at the French Quarter at a time when silicon had a different meaning than in 1998 (and today). With an enjoyable late twist that fans will anticipate, readers fans will relish Tony Fenelly’s fine historical thriller as 1970 and 1998 come across vividly yet so differently.

Harriet Klausner

Shoulder Bags and Shootings-Dorothy Howell

Shoulder Bags and Shootings
Dorothy Howell
Kensington, Jul 1 2010, $22.00
ISBN: 9780758223784

Euphoric, Los Angeles-based fashionista Haley Randolph spent two weeks in Europe with her boyfriend Ty Cameron, owner of the Holt’s Department Store chain. She goes back home where Ty’s grandmother Ada lends her a Mercedes, which she will leave in her employee parking lot. When she opens the trunk, she finds the corpse of Tiffany Markham, whom she hated. The police followed by the FBI question Haley showing her a picture of Kirk Keegan who she does not recognize.

Haley is more interested in obtaining a Sinful handbag that is selling out. When Kirk visits her in a Starbucks, he angrily claims she ruined his life and hr intends to reciprocate beginning with her boyfriend. She realizes she did see him in the parking lot when she opened the trunk but he looks nothing like the picture law enforcement showed her. Sister-in-law Virginia is kidnapped while looking for her and her ex-boyfriend Doug accuses her of stalking him. .Other incidents occur that intrude on Haley getting her handbag so she decides to stalk her stalker.

The latest “bag lady” amateur sleuth (see Purses And Poison and Handbags And Homicides) is an enjoyable amateur sleuth mystery as Haley with her somewhat one icon baggy brain provides a wonderful first person investigation. Her motive is to get everyone off her back so she can purchase the Sinful bag. Although her whining can be numbing when overdone, with a crazy cast to accentuate the case, her clueless mind makes for a fun lighthearted mystery.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Terrorist-Peter Steiner

The Terrorist
Peter Steiner
Minotaur, Jun 1 2010, $$23.99
ISBN: 9780312373443

Septuagenarian former CIA field operative Louis Morgan remains in self imposed exile in France. He has never forgiven his former firm for accusing him of being a terrorist and for other reasons. Thus when the agency asks him to help in the war against terrorism, he empathically declines.

The CIA never accepts no when they ask so they arrest the teenage son of Morgan’s friend on false charge of abetting terrorism. His handler informs Morgan that sixteen years old Zaharia Lefort will be renditioned if he fails to cooperate. Fuming, Morgan heads to Algeria before confronting his former agency in New Jersey with what his handler demanded he retrieve.

The third Morgan espionage thriller (see Le Crime and L'Assassin) is a great tale of a retired agent still capable of doing the job even when his mission differs from the Agency’s. The confrontational exciting story line is fast-paced and filled with a strong support cast that includes the hero’s lover, a personal enemy who brings a lot of CIA power to an anti Louis vendetta and the beleaguered teen. The Terrorist will be on the shortlists as one the best sub-genre novels of the year.

Harriet Klausner

The Dog Park Club-Cynthia Robinson

The Dog Park Club
Cynthia Robinson
Minotaur, Jul 6 2010, $24.99
ISBN: 9780312559731

Claudia Fantini visits her opera singer friend Max Bravo to cry on his shoulders because her husband Larry left her. When Max returns to Berkley from overseas he goes straight to her apartment where she tells him to walk her dog Asta. While walking the dog Max meets Jordi, who knows Asta from Larry walking the canine. They go to the dog park seven blocks away and Max meets a motley crew. When he returns to the apartment to drop off Asta, Max leaves a note for a sleeping Claudia encouraging her to visit the people at the dog park.

When Max returns from an opera engagement, he is shocked to learn Claudia is hanging out at the dog park as she took his advice though he believes they are beneath them. Ed sleeps in his car; Gator is unemployed; Amy is pregnant though fearful of her abusive husband. When Amy fails to show up at the dog park; Max and the gang become concerned that her husband harmed or killed her. The cops investigate, but find no evidence of foul play or of Amy. .Led by Max and his visiting German boyfriend the group set up surveillance of the husband, but believe caution is critical as they think he will act like a trapped rat if confronted.

Cynthia Robinson’s first novel is a terrific character driven tale that looks deeply at an ensemble case who makes up The Dog Park Club. Told by Max who holds the story line together, the coming together of a mystery, camaraderie and a slice of Berkley is well written and very entertaining although the ending seems to flow detached and uneven from the deep character study that Max narrates.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Same River Twice-Ted Mooney

The Same River Twice
Ted Mooney
Knopf, May 2010, $26.95
ISBN: 9780307272737

American filmmaker Max Colby is stunned when he finds a copy of a movie he made with a different ending than he filmed. At the same time his ego takes a shot as he always thought he was the best but the new climax is oddly amateurish yet in some ways superior to his though he would never admit this even to himself; his inquiry as to who changed the ending leads to the Russians. Meanwhile his fashion designer wife Odile is contacted for a chance to make some money and help her in trouble lover art dealer Turner by smuggling from Russia Communist Soviet flags to sell as avant-garde pieces.

She and her traveling companion Thierry Colin succeed. However, almost immediately after they are back in the West, Colin vanishes and Odile’s Paris apartment is broken into and turned upside down as someone looks for something. The Russians are coming as Max begins filming his latest movie about art creating art while hoping to serendipitously film Odile with her lover. Murder spins the cast in ways none would have suspected before the sale of Communist flag as great art.

This is a wonderful yet odd thriller that ties the chic art avant-garde film worlds of New York and Paris with criminal mob activity. Everyone is a wannabe Machiavellian manipulator trying to pull the strings of everyone else who are doing likewise. Although the homicide is over the top of the Pyrenees, fans who appreciate something different will enjoy the character driven tale of how dangerous crossing The Same River Twice is when the Russian Mafia are the toll collectors.

Harriet Klausner

The Same River Twice-Ted Mooney

The Same River Twice
Ted Mooney
Knopf, May 2010, $26.95
ISBN: 9780307272737

American filmmaker Max Colby is stunned when he finds a copy of a movie he made with a different ending than he filmed. At the same time his ego takes a shot as he always thought he was the best but the new climax is oddly amateurish yet in some ways superior to his though he would never admit this even to himself; his inquiry as to who changed the ending leads to the Russians. Meanwhile his fashion designer wife Odile is contacted for a chance to make some money and help her in trouble lover art dealer Turner by smuggling from Russia Communist Soviet flags to sell as avant-garde pieces.

She and her traveling companion Thierry Colin succeed. However, almost immediately after they are back in the West, Colin vanishes and Odile’s Paris apartment is broken into and turned upside down as someone looks for something. The Russians are coming as Max begins filming his latest movie about art creating art while hoping to serendipitously film Odile with her lover. Murder spins the cast in ways none would have suspected before the sale of Communist flag as great art.

This is a wonderful yet odd thriller that ties the chic art avant-garde film worlds of New York and Paris with criminal mob activity. Everyone is a wannabe Machiavellian manipulator trying to pull the strings of everyone else who are doing likewise. Although the homicide is over the top of the Pyrenees, fans who appreciate something different will enjoy the character driven tale of how dangerous crossing The Same River Twice is when the Russian Mafia are the toll collectors.

Harriet Klausner

Nine Lives Last Forever-Rebecca M. McHale

Nine Lives Last Forever
Rebecca M. McHale
Berkley, Jul 6 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425234327

Her last blood relative Uncle Oscar died and within a week of his death, Rebecca lost her job at an accounting firm. She moves into the apartment above the Green Vase antique shop she inherited from Oscar, accompanied by her cats Rupert and Isabella. She quickly learned that her uncle used the store as a front to locate hidden treasures of historical figures he researched.

Life turns dangerous when Frank tries to kill her using spider venom. She knows he still stalks her so she s so frightened she rarely leaves the shop. Her cats notice frogs in the apartment and give chase. Rebecca learns city hall has a frog infestation too. She ponders what her late uncle meant when he advised her with a note to “follow the frogs”. Desperate and confused she visits Oscar’s friend. Meeting Oscar’s eccentric friends, Rebecca asks about the enigmatic note, but none of them grasp the meaning. However, dealing with betrayal and a stalker, Rebecca needs to know rather quickly what the hell is going on.

The protagonist makes the tale work as she just wants to live a serene ordinary life, but is caught up initially in failure and fear, but quickly moves on to eccentricity as Uncle Oscar’s zany crew welcome her as their leader. With a nod to the late Academy librarian Margaret Herrick for claiming claimed the annual awards statue looked like her Uncle Oscar; this tale crosses Charlie Chan with the Three Steps to give readers an idea of Nine Lives Last Forever, a wild refreshing over the top of Nob Hill thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Shadow Zone-Iris Johansen and Roy Johansen

Shadow Zone
Iris Johansen and Roy Johansen
St. Martin’s, Jul 20 2010, $26.00
ISBN: 9780312611606

Morinth was a technologically advanced city that sunk to the bottom of the sea, but was recently found. People like submersible designer Hannah Bryson are mapping the city, which has been beautifully preserved. They could see from the city’ design and architecture how the people had a magnificent culture as art especially statues are found. They obtain enough information to determine what living was like in Morinth, but what remains unknown is why the city sunk.

The researchers find a patch of algae on the perimeter that does not seem to be anywhere else. When cultivated, it grows at an extraordinary pace, which unless stopped will overcome all living things in the sea. They also locate an odd artifact, a trellis that explains how the pollution mixed with the algae left the islanders without a food source. The algae called TK 44 can be a weapon of mass destruction worth millions to arms dealer Vincent Gadaire who plans to harvest the algae in order to sell it to the highest bidder. Hanah with the help of Nicholas Kirkov plan to prevent the insane scheme.

The Johansen mother-son team has written an exhilarating thriller that grabs reader attention early and maintains it throughout. The characters are fully developed especially the heroine who is a combo of beauty, brains and brawn. Hannah obsesses over preserving Morinth and saving the world. Gadaire plays an enthralling cat and mouse game with Hannah while Kirkov is an enigmatic individual. Readers will enjoy this timely somewhat over the top environmental thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, May 16, 2010

People of the Longhouse-W. Michael Gear and Kathleen O'Neal Gear

People of the Longhouse
W. Michael Gear and Kathleen O'Neal Gear
Forge, Jul 20 2010, $25.99
ISBN 9780765320162

During the Late Iroquoian Period around AD 1400, the northern tribes are at war with one another over resources including people to replenish shrinking populations. Most struggle to survive with the constant conflicts, some strive.

The People of the Standing Stone are massacred with their village destroyed. The children are sold to Gannajero a brutal slave trader who sells children to other tribes. The People of the Standing Stone’s female war chief Koracoo and her spouse Gonda are outraged by the atrocities and want their two kids and the other children rescued. They and two adversarial warriors begin a rescue mission that can only end with death; hopefully they pray their enemies.

The latest North America's Forgotten Past tribal saga (see Mississippian period - People of the Thunder) is a great entry that emphasizes time and place just prior to the European contact. As denoted in the nonfiction introduction, the Iroquois are a prime source of American democracy (not just Locke and the Founding Fathers), which adds to the fascination fog an action-packed story line that remains if first gear for most of the historical thriller. Although the climax feels abrupt and rushed, readers will enjoy the insightful People of the Longhouse.

Harriet Klausner

Silent Scream-Lynda La Plante

Silent Scream
Lynda La Plante
Touchstone, Jul 6 2010, $15.00
ISBN 9781439139288

Twenty something movie star Amanda Delany is a favorite of the paparazzi and tabloids as she always makes infamous news with drugs and sex. When a publisher offers a ton of money for a tell-all titivating autobiography, Amanda accepts the offer. However, before she can write her exposé, someone murders her in her Belgravia mews house that she had occupied for only eight weeks.

Detective Inspector Anna Travis leads the police investigation knowing the unscrupulous media will do anything including interfering and intruding on her inquiry to gain a scoop. However, the crime scene provides no useful information. Worse motives are galore as Anna trafficked in drug and man usage as she was a serial marriage destroyer and then there is the memoir. With the media clamoring for instant results, Anna’s former lover and a previous direct reports supervisor Detective Chief Superintendent James Langton demands she resolve the case yesterday even as a financial scam surfaces that adds a potential monetary motive to the complex case.

In her fifth case, Travis is terrific as she shows little growth as an investigator from her previous cases like Deadly Intent; yet is up for a promotion as the Peter Principle apparently is winning out. Her somewhat early ineptitude enhances a fun whodunit though the culprit will be easily identified by readers much earlier than the cops do. Silent Scream is an entertaining British police procedural starring a cop who may have risen above her skill level yet remains confident in her abilities to stride for a promotion.

Harriet Klausner

The Darling Dahlias and the Cucumber Tree-Susan Wittig Albert

The Darling Dahlias and the Cucumber Tree
Susan Wittig Albert
Berkley, Jul 6 2010, $24.95
ISBN 9780425234457

In May 1930 in Alabama, the ladies of Dahlia try to stay optimist during the Great Depression at a time when the local Darling Savings and Trust may go bust. Twelve of the women form the Darling Garden Club, use an estate inherited from the late Mrs. Dahlia Blackstone as their prime meeting locale. The club president Miss Elizabeth “Lizzy” Lacy writes a gardening column for The Darling Dispatch while the group welcomes anyone to join them; unlike their enemy the Sisters of Spade snobs.

As they search for allegedly hidden booty under an apparent haunted cucumber tree on the estate, drugstore clerk Eva Louise "Bunny" Scott vanishes; at the same time a prison break occurs. When Bunny is found dead, most of the townsfolk assume the floozy picked the wrong hunk; probably one of the escaped convicts. Led by their three officers (Lizzy, probate clerk secretary widow Verna Tidwell and mayor’s wife, Ophelia Snow), the Dahlia Darlings investigate Bunny’s death even as they squabble amongst themselves over who owns the cache found under the cucumber tree.

The Darling Dahlias and the Cucumber Tree is an excellent timely regional Depression Era amateur sleuth that brings to life the atmosphere of a period in which people are concerned over the economy that has left no chicken in almost any pot. The investigation cleverly interweaves within 1930 Alabama though the Dahlia Darlings as each in their way struggles with the surviving the Depression. Susan Wittig Albert, author of the modern day China Bayles and early twentieth century Beatrix Potter mysteries shows her talent as she writes a great period piece somewhat in between the settings of her two strong long-running series.

Harriet Klausner

The Search-Nora Roberts

The Search
Nora Roberts
Putnam, Jul 6 2010, 26.95
ISBN: 9780399156571

The Red Scarf Killer murdered twelve twentyish women before he abducted Fiona Bristow, tied her up and tossed her into the trunk of his car. She had a knife on her so was able to get free; Fiona provided the FBI with a description of her kidnapper. They failed to find him until he snatched Fiona’s befriend, killing the caring cop.

After much therapy, Fiona starts over on Orcas Island in Puget Sound. She is a canine search-and-rescue trainer and dog trainer in general who has no plans to have a relationship with artisan Simon Doyle as eight years have passed since her last tragic one ended n his death. As he creates beautiful furniture, they get to know one another due to his feisty matchmaking puppy. As their feelings grow, Fiona feels contentment for the first since the Red Scarf serial killings. However, that ends when the FBI agents arrive to inform her that someone using imprisoned Perry’s M.O. is killing young women leaving on their necks the telltale red scarf. Law enforcement and Fiona believe the copycat killer is coming for her, but this time she will not run from her nightmare; this time she plans to confront her bogeyman.

The Search is a strong romantic suspense mostly because of the lead couple’s bickering teasing, a strong support cast including an eccentric four legged pup, and the Washington State setting. The serial killer subplot is not new as the copy cat has been done before, but Nora Roberts makes it seem fresh with her incredible writing skill as she uses the S&R canines as key elements in the exciting story line. Readers will enjoy Ms. Roberts' entertaining Puget Sound thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Panic Zone- Rick Mofina

The Panic Zone
Rick Mofina
Mira, Jul 2010, $9.99
ISBN: 9780778327943

After his serial killer reporting for the Buffalo Sentinel (see Vengeance Road), Melody Lyons hires Jack Gannon to work for The World Press Alliance. His peers at the Manhattan office feel strongly he is not their equal and needs to shuffle back to Buffalo. However, Melody believes they don’t know Jack. She sends him to Rio to determine whether a WPA journalist and photographer, who died in a bombing, were the intended victims and if so why.

In Big Cloud, Wyoming, Emma Lane survives a fiery car crash when she was thrown from the vehicle in which her spouse died and investigators assume their baby did too though she swears she saw her infant rescued; neither assertion re the child can be proven. On a Caribbean cruse, forty years old Roger Tippert dies horribly; the medical examiner is unable to find the cause so forwards the findings to the CDC. As Jack works the Brazilian case, he rules out a drug gang as the police and the fuming local WPA insist and seeks nebulous ties to the Caribbean and Wyoming incidents that places him in trouble with a dangerous person; making him wonder if his colleagues are right about a shuffle to Buffalo.

This action-packed international thriller hooks the reader from the opening gamut untiol the final confrntation. The story line is fast-paced while the audience wonnds what if anything connects the dots so seemingly apart. Jack is terrific as he tries to solve the case and prove his worthiness, but learns a vlaubale lesson about being alone as he invesitgates. As with his first thriller (see Vengeance Road), Jack’s second journalistic investiagtion is a an exciting novel.

Harriet Klausner

As Husbands Go-Susan Isaacs

As Husbands Go
Susan Isaacs
Scribner, Jul 6 2010, $25.00
ISBN: 9781416573012

John and Susie Gersten live the perfect life with their four years old identical male triplets (Dashiell, Evan and Mason) in exclusive Shorehaven, Long Island. He is a thriving Manhattan plastic surgeon and she a floral designer although the income exclusively comes for his practice. They employ a housekeeper and two Norwegian au pairs.

However, the Gerstein family idyllic life ends abruptly when he is found murdered in the apartment of a high priced hooker. Susie rejects the NYPD-District Attorney’s assertion that escort Dorinda Dillon killed her client with a scissor because the widow strongly believes her late spouse would not cheat on her. With the aid of her grandma Ethel, Susie investigates who killed her husband and why.

More of a sharp character study than an amateur sleuth; Susie’s objective is not to free Dorinda, but to prove to her friends, family and the tabloids that her wonderful life was genuine. Her belief in her husband’s fidelity is based on his treatment of her and his being a devoted loving father. Although the story line takes a while to set the table, Susie’s account makes for a strong tale. The story line skewers the wealthy avaricious people who never have enough money; admonishes the legal system for settling for the easiest resolution; and bites the media for dumbing down reporting with sound bite analysis. Susan Isaacs provides a strong look at the grimier side of the American dream.

Harriet Klausner

The Whole World-Emily Winslow

The Whole World
Emily Winslow
Delacorte, May 25 2010, $25.00
ISBN: 9780385342889

At Cambridge, blind Professor Gretchen Paul is conducting research into her mother, a novelist who wrote five books about a young woman trying to become a published author in the 1950s. Gretchen has three students (Polly from New Hampshire, Liv from California and Nick from England), doing her research.

However, Nick stuns his employer when he informs her that her mother was not her biological mother. He insists she was a psychopathic fan who managed to get close to the author and ultimately took over the writer’s life. If true, a shocked Gretchen realizes her belief that her mom sacrificed her writing career to raise her was false; her mom had no writing career to sacrifice. While Gretchen struggles with Nick’s assertion, he tries to seduce Polly, but she turns ill instead as his efforts remind her that her father killed her boyfriend. Nick vanishes as Polly’s mom arrives from New England. Inspector Morris investigates Nick’s disappearance, but Nick is okay suffering from a bad sprain. When Nick drives to Cambridge in the dark, he loses control and runs over Gretchen who Morris learns was already dead before Nick hit her. Her spouse Harry is also dead while Liv considers going home since her parents can no longer afford Cambridge and she can no longer afford Nick’s rejection.

Told in five chapters by the three students, the professor and the cop; The Whole World is a fascinating academic family thriller that has too many subplots as each of the key players and several support cast members carry too much baggage that is explored. Polly, who’s the lead off hitter, steals the show with what happened to her back in New Hampshire that disturbs her. Overall readers will enjoy Emily Winslow’s Cambridge based murder mystery although at times the prime story line is overwhelmed with sidebars.

Harriet Klausner

Live to Tell-Lisa Gardner

Live to Tell
Lisa Gardner
Bantam, Jul 13 2010, $26.00
ISBN: 9780553807240

She was nine tears old when Danielle Burton heard the shots that killed her mother and two siblings, and finally her father killed himself. Sheriff Warner took her from that house and over the years she became a children’s psychiatric nurse at Cambridge Hospital; home to children dangerous to others and themselves are housed. Danielle has no friends as work is her life.

Boston police detective D. D. Warren wishes she had a social life, but works always intercedes. On a date for the first time in forever, her beeper rings and she is called to Harrington House where a father killed his wife and their three children before committing suicide. The next day at the Laraquettee-Solis’s house, a drug selling father kills his lover and her for kids, and it looks like he took his own life. However he had a heart attack due to being tasered.. To Warren the crime scenes looks staged so she seeks a connection and finds one. Both families had children at the pediatric psych ward at Cambridge Hospital where Warren arrives to interrogate the staff, especially the survivor of a previous family massacre. At the same Victoria Oliver brings her troubled son Evan there.

Live to Tell is a heart pumping police procedural medical thriller that takes readers inside a facility where out of control dangerous children are sent for special treatment by dedicated mental health care professionals. Evan is a fascinating child who can be an angel one moment and a devil within a nanosecond. Readers will feel for his beleaguered mom who has doubts about filing him away but knows she cannot give him whatever he needs; it is difficult to decide to institutionalize your child. Fast-paced, readers will appreciate Warren’s dedicated and intense investigation while wondering whether the nurse lost it. However, it is the profound look into the children’s psychiatric ward that makes Lisa Gardner’s latest thriller a powerful drama.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest- Stieg Larsson

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest
Stieg Larsson
Knopf, May 27 2010, $27.95
ISBN: 9780307269997

Computer hacker guru Lisbeth Salander remains under guard as she heals in an intensive care unit from the bullet she took to her heard (see The Girl Who Played with Fire) when her father Alexander Zalachenko shot her. The Stockholm police believe Lisbeth is the prime and only suspect in three recent murders.

At the same time that Lisbeth remains incarcerated, reporter Mikael Blomkvist continues his investigation into an incredible decades old cover-up involving Lisbeth’s father, a Soviet intelligence defector who works for the Swedish security police as he has since he turned. Still separated, but this time not caused by their estrangement, Blomkvist and Salander talk on-line sharing information. However, another threat has surfaced that Lisbeth knows about, but not much else; Niedermann does not exist, yet is coming to kill his sire’s other creation.

The third Millennium Trilogy thriller (see The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) is a superb ending to a strong saga. Incredibly ultra fast-paced, readers expect another confrontation between father and daughter in a world in which pure evil lives but pure good is a fantasy. The late Stieg Larsson leaves behind a great legacy as all three entries are amongst the best in the last decade and as a whole the trilogy belongs on the shortlists for top miniseries.

Harriet Klausner

Robert Ludlum's The Bourne Objective-Eric Van Lustbader, Robert Ludlum

Robert Ludlum's The Bourne Objective
Eric Van Lustbader, Robert Ludlum
Grand Central, Jun 1 2010, $27.99
ISBN: 9780446539814

The CIA creator of Treadstone hunts the two top graduates, American Jason Bourne and Russian Leonid Arkadin. The inventor needs to know first hand what failed in the fail safe Treadstone program so the error can be rectified and a new generation of super skilled cold killers can be created. Once the mission accomplished, Treadstone wants each to kill the other.

Bourne and Arkadin stalk one another even while the former gains possession of a ring coveted by a secret cabal, Severus Domna, who believe the jewelry leads to King Solomon's gold; a major step for their achieving their goal of world control. Meanwhile Bourne continues his personal hunt to learn who he was while Treadstone, Servus Domna and Arkadin focus on his death.

Although at times inane, readers will enjoy this fast-paced conspiracy thriller as two major webs converge on Bourne as well as Arkadin. Loaded with action, fans will anticipate a showdown between the two Treadstone grads as each understands the world has room for only one and if their “mentor and the cabal have their way: none.

Harriet Klausner

Bone Appetit-Carolyn Haines

Bone Appetit
Carolyn Haines
Minotaur, Jun 22 2010, $24.99
ISBN: 9780312594640

Their last case still haunts the Delta detecting duet (see Greedy Bones) as private detectives Sarah Booth Delaney miscarried and Tinkie Richmond’s husband almost died. The pair needs pampering and massaging so they head off to the ritzy Alluvian Hotel for a weekend getaway and to attend a cooking gala.

Viking sponsors a cook off, but two of the contestants die from poisoning and a third lapses into a coma. Police Chief Jansen suspects Hedy Lamarr Blackledge is killing off the competition, but the visiting sleuths think otherwise and begin an inquiry abetted by Jitty the ghost appearing in several performing roles while their respective mates plead with them for an investigative timeout.

This is an enjoyable entry that fans of the series will enjoy though it reads in many ways like the last case with a near death experience. The story line is fast-paced as the two women investigate while Jitty provides clues and comic relief. Action-packed, Bone Appetit is a fun paranormal whodunit; just don’t eat the food.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Delicious and Suspicious-Riley Adams

Delicious and Suspicious
Riley Adams
Berkley, Jul 6 2010, $6.99
ISBN: 9780425235539

Aunt Pat’s barbeque restaurant is a favorite place to eat and hang out. Located in Memphis, the pit is run by Lulu Taylor and her sons Seb the baby of the family and the more responsible Ben. The Cooking Channel is considering a spot there. Rebecca Adrian arrives to decide, but must also visit Lulu’s rival Lurlene at Hog Heaven.

Rebecca does not do anything to ingratiate herself with the people she meets whether they are friendly or needing her help or wanting to assist her; in fact she goes out of her way to be be nasty. She tells Lulu’s daughter-in-law that her art work is horrific and not good enough for a shoeing. After that she informs Lulu’s friend Mildred her writing is pathetic and she tries to blackmail Jeb by threatening to reveal his prison record. Lulu goes to see Rebecca at her hotel, only to find her dead. To clear the restaurant of culpability and to insure her family is not accused of a homicide, Lulu investigates not trusting the cops, but is unprepared with what she uncovers.

This entertaining regional amateur sleuth gives the audience a taste of living in Nashville, especially owning a restaurant in a tourist attraction city. Rebecca was so mean and malicious to anyone who dared enter her sphere; she is over the top of Clingman's Dome. However, Lulu though she has personal reasons to investigate also feels she didn’t deserve murder; obviously someone else did. With a strong fully seasoned support cast who enhances the whodunit, Delicious and Suspicious is truly scrumptious.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Vows, Vendettas & A Little Black Dress-

Vows, Vendettas & A Little Black Dress
Kyra Davis
Mira, Jun 1 2010, $13.95
ISBN: 9780778327899

Bay area mystery writer Sophie Katz attends the engagement party of her best friend Dena Lopiano’s cousin Mary Ann to Monty Sanchez. However the joyous party turns ugly when someone shoots Dena. She survives, but probably will never walk again.

Fuming Sophie who has solved cases before (see Sex, Murder and a Double Latte, and Lust, Loathing and a Little Dark Chocolate) vows to find the culprit. Her boyfriend Anatoly, a private investor, pleads with her to leave the inquiry to the police but she refuses. Shockingly she finds a myriad of suspects when she expected to uncover few if any as she knows everything about her BFF Sicilian spitfire even the color of her blood. However, who the culprit is remains just out of reach.

This is an exciting lighthearted amateur sleuth that series fans will enjoy in spite of a horde of suspects who could fill AT&T Park yet the culprit seems obvious rather early. Still the fun in this tale of a Jewish African American vendetta is Sophie’s choices as a writer sleuthing IAW the book (that is her novels). Kyra Davis provides a wonderful tale with a superb climax that will have the audience clamoring for the next San Francisco treats.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Long Quiche Goodbye-Avery Aames

The Long Quiche Goodbye
Avery Aames
Berkley, Jul 6 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425235522

Providence, Ohio is famous for its universities, cheese farms, and the Amish communities. The Fromagerie Bessette wine and cheese shop has been a town favorite for years, owned by Etienne and Bernadette Bessette. Now the retired septuagenarians have left running the shop to their granddaughter Charlotte and her cousin Matthew.

Charlotte and Matthew are remodeling the shop, but on the night of their grand reopening, their avaricious landlord Ed and his wife mayoral candidate Kristine (running against trice mayor Bernadette) attend. The two political rivals argue in public before Bernadette tosses Kristine out. Soon after the incident Charlotte finds her grandma soaked in blood hovering over the corpse of Ed. The police place Bernadette on house arrest pending further investigation while Charlotte vows to uncover the identity of the real killer even if it means she risks her life.

Charlotte is a ferocious bull dog interrogating anyone who attended the gala as she tries to solve the homicide puzzle; no one messes with her grandmere. The characters are quirky and for the most part seem believable although Charlotte can be too emotional while amateur sleuthing. Still readers obtain a taste of small-town Buckeye living and will want return engagements in future Providence Cheese Shop Mysteries.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, May 10, 2010

For the King-Catherine Delors

For the King
Catherine Delors
Dutton, Jul 8 2010, $26.95
ISBN 9780525951742

In 1800 a bomb explodes on the road Napoleon travels. He survives the attempt, but the assassins kill dozens of bystanders. Police Chief Inspector Roch Miquel investigates the assassination attempt and the homicides, in which the culprits had no regard for the innocents.

His inquiry is hampered by his corrupt uncooperative peers. Even more of a handicap is his superior the Minister of Police Fouche, who incarcerates Roch’s father on a phony charge to control his independent minded chief inspector. Feeling beleaguered and handcuffed with every step he takes, Roch turns to his married mistress Blanche Coudert for solace, but she conceals something that if it became public could leave the cop sharing a cell with his dad; that is if they are not deported or beheaded.

This is an excellent Napoleon Era French police procedural starring a dedicated chief inspector who feels frustrated with every inquiry he makes. The investigation is cleverly designed so that for every clue he follows someone interferes. With a sense of time and place to anchor the superb story line, readers who enjoy a strong historical whodunit will want to follow Roch’s efforts to solve the mass murder assassination attempt.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, May 9, 2010

The Drowning River-Christobel Kent

The Drowning River
Christobel Kent
Minotaur, Jul 6 2010, $24.99
ISBN: 9780312621018

Sandro Cellini was forced to leave the police department before the scandal destroyed him. He has opened up a private investigative firm in Florence, but four days into his vigil, he is bored and concerned that no case has come his way.

However, his optimism is renewed when elderly Lucia Gentileschi wants to hire him to investigate the death of her architect husband Claudio. He drowned in what the police declared is a suicide but she insists he was murdered. Although he feels for the widow needing her husband to have died by someone else’s hands, he struggles not to allow his sympathy for the senora to cloud his judgment; especially as the case hits home with what has happened to him and his loyal wife Luisa.

British art student Iris March refuses to cover up the night life of her roommate Veronica "Ronnie" Hutton any longer. However when Ronnie vanishes, police detective Falco senses her guilt and misinterprets it. Ronnie’s mom Serena arrives at the police station; demanding answers of Falco, who brings her to Sandro. She hires him to find her daughter.

This is a strong Italian investigative psychological thriller that rotates the two cases effortlessly while enabling the audience to know what bothers and frightens the lead character and several of the key secondary players. Both inquiries are solid as Sandro finds intriguing clues that take him all over Florence in the present and to the Holocaust in the Gentileschi investigation. The Downing River is a great Florence thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Bones of the Rain-Russ Hall

Bones of the Rain
Russ Hall
Five Star, Jun 16 2010, $25.95
ISBN: 9781594148095

Austin private eye Travis Treegrow is a "Blue-Eyed Indian" half-breed. His DNA means nothing to country music rising star Johnny Gringo, who hires him to investigate the murder of singer Trish Mirandez at the Kasperville Folk Festival in the Texas Hill Country.

However, Kasperville is not as warm welcoming the “Injun” starting with sheriff's deputy Alvin Turnbull who beats the crap out of Trav. Suspended for his extra curricular activity, Alvin blames that “Injun” for his leave without pay. He follows Trav back to Austin to make him pay. Gringo and his music friends ask Trav to help them prevent licentious Bent Lenny Coggins from cheating them out of their royalties. If he knew Lenny’s backers are mob related militia, Trav would have refused the case. Two attempted murders lead Trav to wonder if the Mirandez killer is actively seeking female musicians while Texas State Senator Max Bolens hires him to discretely look into his daughter's militia ties. All his cases lead him to Sheriff’s Deputy Cassie Winnick who is working some of the same inquiries.

Bones of the Rain is an entertaining regional private investigative tale. Trav is a fabulous lead who like the reader will feel at times overwhelmed with so much happening. Still, the story line is loaded and brings a sense of how vast and diverse the Lone Star State is as readers will observe the differences between the capital and Hill Country. Russ Hall has a strong opening act that should prove more than just a one hit wonder.

Harriet Klausner

Bad Samaritan-Aimee and David Thurlo

Bad Samaritan
Aimee and David Thurlo
Minotaur, Jun 22 2010, $24.95
ISBN 9780312367329

In Bernalillo, New Mexico Sister Agatha is sad with the closing of Our Lady of Hope Monastery and depressed with her pending relocation to Colorado. While she struggles with leaving the Land of Enchantment, her former high school boyfriend Sheriff Tom Green has been arrested for murder.

The police accuse Tom of murdering his political opponent running against him for the sheriff’s position, Robert Garcia at a Fourth of July celebration attended by many witnesses. The mayor’s brother Garcia was found dead next to an unconscious Tom who was holding a bloody club. The victim and the accused were drugged with a date-rape drug found in the relish both placed on their hot dogs. Garcia's influential family demand Tom be tried. In the convent’s Antichrysler, Agatha with Pax the retired police dog assisting her investigates the Garcia supporters that threaten her life and that of her K-9 companion. Agatha learns both sheriff contenders had spousal issues as Tom’s wife is leaving him and Robert’s hides his abuse and their son was sired by someone else.

This is an entertaining regional amateur sleuth though in fairness with Sister Agatha’s track record, (see The Prodigal Nun) amateur seems inappropriate. The story line is driven by the Sister who struggles with solving a case in which Tom is increasingly the most likely culprit, ignoring the nastiness of the political unhinged, and working through her own faith issues with the pending shutting of Our Lady of Hope doors. Fans of the series will appreciate her latest whodunit while new readers will seek the backlist of one of New Mexico’s finest sleuths.

Harriet Klausner

The Eye of the Virgin-Frederick Ramsay

The Eye of the Virgin
Frederick Ramsay
Poisoned Pen, Jul 1 2010, $24.95
ISBN 9781590587607

Callend University instructor Louis Dakis returns to his house that he leases to find someone broke in and turned it upside down as if they searched for something; nothing seemed missing. At about the same time he came home at Picketsville Hospital emergency room nurse Laurie Kratz finds a man waiting for treatment is dead.

Picketsville, Virginia Sheriff Ike Schwartz investigates the break-in to Professor Dakis’ residence when he learns of the dropped off corpse at the ER. Ike searches Dakis’ background for a clue and learns the professor’s estranged wife Lorraine accuses him of wrecking her shop that once was their shop and her boyfriend Franco Sacci has disappeared. Although confused, he begins to see a connection between the two break-ins as the corpse turns out to be Franco AKA Farouk Zaki. CIA Agent Charlie Garland takes an interest in the Dakis’ dealings and collections with a Cold War microdot surfacing and the dead body being on their terrorist watch list.

This is an entertaining regional police procedural with international links. The story line is fast-paced yet contains a personal subplot as Ike and Callend University President Ruth Harris seem ready for the next level in their relationship. Fans of the series will relish this entry as Ike and his department deal with the arrival of Ruth’s mom, the CIA, and a deputy’s pregnancy while trying to solve the widening Dakis cases.

Harriet Klausner

Tomb with a View-Casey Daniels

Tomb with a View
Casey Daniels
Berkley, Jul 6 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425235515

Cemetery tour guide Pepper Martin works at Cleveland's Garden View Cemetery; whose most famous resident is President James A. Garfield. The job seems like an ideal match for Pepper as she has the uncanny ability to communicate with ghosts. Pepper’s boss Ella assigns her to work with Marjorie Klinker on the 179th Garfield birthday bash.

Pepper wants out of the mental strenuous task as Marjorie is a lunatic, a Garfield fanatic, and a dominating drainer of others. She gives Pepper some worthless papers to take to the exhibit; she will provide more memorabilia when the time is right. The next day Pepper finds Marjorie dead. The police investigate and conclude someone murdered her by throwing her off the balcony. Pepper is dubious of this conclusion. She vows to solve it before her former boyfriend Police Officer Quinn, who hurt her when he scorned her about her so-called psychic skills. This time the FBI is involved and they want Pepper to extract a confession from the suspect when she finds out who it is. She remains clueless as she cannot understand the motive because all Klinker had from what she seen was junk.

Pepper regards herself as a private investigator for ghosts who need her help to cross over by solving their murder. In this amateur sleuth whodunit, the ghost is Garfield who does not want to leave as he is still the President within the mausoleum. He gives her clues to assist her into the noises she hears at night denoting criminal activity at the museum and she finds she likes the old codger. With wit and a wink, Casey Daniel entertains her fans with a fun lighthearted paranormal whodunit.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, May 8, 2010

A Glimpse of Evil-Victoria Laurie

A Glimpse of Evil
Victoria Laurie
Obsidian, Jul 6 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780451230850

With the downturn in the economy, psychic Abby Cooper is losing much of her client base to the point where she cannot earn a decent living. Her live-in lover is offered a job as Assistant Agent in Charge in Austin in a separate building with agents working cold cases. Dutch’s boss Brice Harrison is impressed with Abby’s precognitive skills, he offers her work as a “civilian intuitive profiler”; the Feds do not employ psychics.

They accept the positions and head to Austin where on her first day Abby applies her psychic talent, which enables the unit to solve a few cold cases in under a week. She accompanies Agent Rodriguez on a field inquiry into a car used to transport kidnapped children. They locate the vehicle and talk with the tow truck operator, but instead meet his son; he shoots Rodriguez forcing Abby to shoot him before he kills them. Internal Affairs investigates the shootings with Rodriguez and Cooper on suspension with pay. Abby continues to look at the missing children’s case that she ties to the deaths of three seemingly unrelated men who are dead, but though she tries she is unable to connect the dots that would complete the puzzle.

The “Psychic Eye Mysteries” are always a treat for paranormal urban whodunit fans. The key to this terrific series is that Victoria Laurie does not try to sell to her fans her star’s skills, but instead deftly interweaves them into the story line as a powerful device that supports a much more rounded individual and plot; thus they could exist as they seem “normal” in this person and setting. Obviously Dutch and Abby are in love, but their romantic subplot provides relief, often amusing, from the seriousness of the investigations. With a strong cleverly constructed mystery, readers watch a somewhat frustrated Abby work on her own time because someone else is about to be killed.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, May 7, 2010

Death Watch-Jim Kelly

Death Watch
Jim Kelly
Minotaur, May 25 2010, $25.99
ISBN: 9780312644901

On 1 September, the day that then teenager Norma Jean Judd vanished without a trace eighteen years ago, her twin brother Bryan lays charred in the Queen Victoria Hospital incinerator. The case is assigned to Detective Inspector Peter Shaw assisted by Detective. Sergeant George Valentine.

Peter initially is unaware that his father, who was Valentine’s former partner, worked the Norma jean disappearance back in 1992 as did George; that inquiry crippled their careers. After Peter informs the victim’s family, he rescues a reluctant frightened man, mumbling about the Organ Grinder, from a nearby homeless shelter inferno that he learns later was arson. The two West Norfolk cops find more corpses in which body organs have been harvested; leaving both to wonder how the dots connect now and eighteen years ago.

This excellent British police procedural (see Death Wore White) will bring much acclaim to Jim Kelly. The story line is fast paced from the early call to Peter that a homicide occurred at QVH and never slows down as both cops seek redemption; one for his dad and the other for himself. Readers need to set aside time as they will want to go every step of the way with Peter and George who feel they are on a Death Watch one step behind a surgically diabolical killer.

Harriet Klausner