Saturday, July 31, 2010

It’s Murder, My Son-Lauren Carr-

It’s Murder, My Son
Lauren Carr
CreateSpace, Jun 2010, $14.99
ISBN: 9781452819433

In DC Homicide Detective Mac Faraday cannot believe the judge’s ruling in his divorce from his wife of twenty years; she left him for another man but got their home and everything else of value. As he left the courthouse stunned, elderly lawyer Ed Willingham accosted him, but sick of his ex wife’s attorneys he flees until he stopped feeling sorry for the man struggling to follow him. Ed informs him that he is the child and heir of the late Queen of Mystery Robin Spencer. She gave him up for adoption over four decades ago as an unmarried teen who knew kids can’t raise kids.

Mac moves into the closed gated community in Spencer, Maryland. As he takes first step towards his new home, Gnarly the German shepherd attacks him; Archie as Robin’s assistant who comes with the manor, saves him from sever injuries. Archie tells the retired Georgetown cop that three months earlier, someone killed multi-millionaire Katrina Singleton who would have been his next door neighbor. The police believe the "Pay Back" stalker murdered her, but have not found any evidence as to who this individual is and whether he actually killed her. Reading his mom’s novels, plays and journals and assisted by Archie and a brother he never knew existed, Mac investigates what is turning into a cold case murder.

It’s Murder, My Son is an enjoyable amusing murder mystery starring a likable cast and a few avaricious nasties. The story line is lighthearted fun as Gnarly brings jocularity to the mix while every time Mac and Archie try to kiss they are interrupted. The whodunit is top rate, but the entertaining plot belongs to Mac and friends and family as he leads the inquiry into the death of the next door neighbor.

Harriet Klausner

The Thieves of Darkness-Richard Doetsch

The Thieves of Darkness
Richard Doetsch
Atria, Aug 24 2010, $25.00
ISBN: 9781416598954

Having gone straighter after a career as an art thief Michael St. Pierre uses his experiences as a criminal as a security consultant. Almost forty years old, Michael remains shook by the death of his wife Mary over a year and a half ago. His friend Father Simon Bellatori arranges a blind date with Katherine "KC" Ryan, who happens to be a thief.

As he is falling in love with KC, Michael learns that his best friend Simon has been locked away in the brutal Middle Eastern Chiron Prison in the Akbiquestan Desert; where he is to be executed. Michael flies to the country and breaks into the prison to rescue Simon and shockingly KC. As the trio flees for Istanbul, maniacal businessman Philippe Venue searches for a fabled treasure and he knows Simon possesses key information. Soon everyone rushes off to the Himalayas on a treasure hunt.

The third St. Pierre thriller (see The Thieves of Heaven and The Thieves of Faith) is an exhilarating over the top of the Himalayas tale that grips the audience the from the moment Michael develops his plan in depth to save his friend and never slows down on his Asian tour. Fast-paced throughout, but requiring the locking away of plausibility, sub-genre readers will stay up late to follow the action-packed adventures of Michael and his two cronies.

Harriet Klausner

The Superman Project-A.E. Roman

The Superman Project
A.E. Roman
Minotaur, Aug 3 2010, $25.99
ISBN: 9780312375010

With his marriage of a decade crashing, Bronx private investigator Chico Santana has moved into his small office. Obese eighteen year old janitor Pablo Sanchez and his mom Esther enter Chico’s office seeking his assistance. They want him to find a missing estranged Brooklyn couple, artist Gabby Gupta and her husband, Joey Valentin.

The police believe Joey probably killed Gabby before vanishing. Chico knew Joey as children, but his childhood friend left for the Pacific years ago. Pablo explains Joey went to The Superman Project (TSP) Island run by Gabby’s dad, Father Ravi who accuses Joey of murder. The mother and son client believe it is a frame and offer Chico a valuable Superman comic as payment to find out what happened to the Williamsburg couple and if she is dead who killed her. Chico assumes Pablo has sniffed too much cleaning fluid as the conspiracy theory seems inane. However, as he uncovers leads, he begins to reconsider his scorn of paranoid Pablo’s pathetic pabulum especially when someone murders Esther.

The latest Chico Santana investigative thriller (see Chinatown Angel) is a superb hard-boiled detective story starring a likable protagonist. The TSP charter seems like lighthearted foolishness by Peter Pan types, but soon proves dangerous and nasty by Captain Hook types. Filled with twists and a great final spin, fans will enjoy A. E. Roman’s tour of the boroughs as The Superman Project merges the South Bronx with Nietzsche, Hinduism, and DC comic mythos inside a strong urban noir

Harriet Klausner

Friday, July 30, 2010

Pretty Little Things-Jillane Hoffman

Pretty Little Things
Jillane Hoffman
Vanguard, Sep 7 2010, $25.95
ISBN: 9781593156077

Thirteen years old Lainey Emerson loves MySpace, especially keeping her page current. Her biggest peeve at the moment is relocating with her family, which means a new school and finding new friends.

However Lainey becomes excited when she meets El Capitan online. She agrees to go out with the boy, but conceals her date from her family. A couple days pass before her mother reports her missing, as she assumed Lainey was behaving just like her older sister, a serial runaway. Florida's Crimes Against Children Special Agent Bobby Dees leads the search for the missing teen even as he fears she is the victim of a serial killer, who uses the net to lure victims and then after killing them sends drawings of his kills to the media.

Rotating perspective between the missing teen, the agent (his daughter vanished last year) and the killer in chapters not much longer than Twitter, Pretty Little Things is a terrific cautionary tale that warns readers beware of internet social networks especially what you tell of yourself and the contacts you make. The story line is loaded with twists that enhance the growing tension, which the agent and the teen especially emote. Although the ending feels weak especially with the taut story line that brilliantly leads to the climax, fans will appreciate Pretty Little Things while wondering how to allow their youngsters to enjoy the net yet avoid stalking cyber predators.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Running Scared-Lisa Jackson

Running Scared
Lisa Jackson
Zebra, Aug 1 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9781420101829

In 1980 Kate Summers still grieves the deaths of her husband and daughter due to a drunken driver. When she is given a chance to adopt an infant, she does not have to think about her decision; Kate instantly agrees even with the stipulations that she must ask no questions, leave Boston immediately and tell everyone she birthed the child.

For the next fifteen years, Kate raises her beloved child in Hopewell, Oregon although she always looks over her shoulder in fear that someone will know the child she loves is not hers and the adoption was probably criminal. The moment of truth that always frightened her arrives when Deagan O'Roarke, an illegitimate offspring of a Boston Brahman, arrives from New England and becomes a friend of the single mom and her teenage son. He begins to fall in love with both and eventually admits Jon is his son. He insists he was drunk when his cousin Bibi Sullivan seduced him. Bibi's father Robert detesting his pathetic family seeks his grandson while the rest of the brood knows what his finding the teen means to their gold spoon lifestyle.

This is an exhilarating rewriting of the author’s tale Wishes with the new version emphasizing the suspense while the original the romance. Kate is terrific as she behaves like the Running Scared man in Roy Orbison’s song of the same title as she always expected someone to claim Jon as theirs. When he and the extended Sullivan family converge on the Pacific Northwest, Kate knows her nightmare has come true but it is even worse than her frightening dreams as she never expected her son to be in danger. Lisa Jackson converts her tale into a taut thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Pirates of the Levant-Arturo Perez-Reverte

Pirates of the Levant
Arturo Perez-Reverte
Putnam, Sep 2 2010, $25.95
ISBN: 9780399156649

In the year 1627 sword for hire Captain Alatriste and his former page Inigo now an adult seventeen year older soldier in his own right, are on board the Spanish galleon Mulata. When not at sea battling Spain’s enemies and collecting booty, they are based in Naples. It is in Naples that Inigo shows he needs more time to grow up as he tangles with a swindling gang and needs his former mentor’s help to keep him safe.

They have adventures as they catch and bound their enemies and sell prisoners as slaves for booty. In a remote Spanish port on the North African island Oran, Captain Alatriste and Inigo meet Sebastian Copons whose supervisor refuses to allow him to leave the island because he needs all the soldiers he can deploy. After Alatriste tries to buy his friend’s freedom, Gurriat the Moor sees the captain in action and attaches himself to him and earns a berth on the Mulata. The four of them and the rest of the Mulata crew believe they are going to die in battle against several Turkish ships, but refuse to back down.

This is the final book in the swashbuckling Alatristo historical saga and like its predecessors (see Cavalier in a Yellow Doublet, The King's Gold, The Sun Over Breda, Purity of Blood and Captain Alatristo) this entry vividly brings to life historical Spain as if the reader is there. The audience observes as if at the front the Christian civil war with the Mohammedans (Moors) as religious intolerance led to strife and conflict. Pirates of the Levant makes the Edwin Starr case of the ugliest of “War, what is it good for; absolutely nothing” inside a great adventure thriller.

Harriet Klausner

The Montmarte Investigation-Claude Izner

The Montmarte Investigation
Claude Izner
Minotaur, Sep 14 2010, $24.99
ISBN: 9780312383763

In 1891 Paris at an outing of the C. Bontemps Boarding School, Elisa borrows Iris’ red shoes to run away with twenty-one years old Gaston. Some time later on Montmartre, a female body is found; her face burned with acid so it is unrecognizable; the corpse is barefoot. A red shoe is delivered to the the Bookshop owned by Victor Legris and Kenji Mori.

When Kenji recognizes the shoe as one he gave to his goddaughter Iiris, he assumes logically and mournfully she is the dead victim until he learns from her she lent them to her friend. Victor follows Kenji to the school and once he catches up with what the shoe denotes he insures Iris is safe as ahe may have been the intended target. Gaston’s body is found in a wine cask on the wharf. Having solved two cases (see The Disappearance at Père-Lachaise and Murder on the Eiffel Tower), Victor fancies himself a detective so he is determined to solve the case before his rival police Iinspector Lecacheur can. When Elisa’s mother is also murdered, the three killings appear linked to a cold case in Lyon, but why and who is the avenger remains unknown.

This is an exhilarating French historical mystery that gives armchair detectives a taste of late nineteenth century Paris when cabarets and wine houses were the rage. Real historical figures add to the atmosphere while anchoring the time and place of the storyline. Secrets from the past prove either deadly or joyful as Victor investigates the serial murders linked to a cold case.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Desperate Deeds-Dee Davis

Desperate Deeds
Dee Davis
Forever, Aug 2 2010, $6.99
ISBN: 9780446542029

Daughter of a highly regarded General, Tyler Hanson served in the Army before accepting an assignment as the munitions officer for American Tactical Intelligence Command (A-Tac). She heads a mission that surprises her military team as “outsiders” even army brats with military experience are never assigned to this type of mission let alone lead it. The transport turns ugly with two of her subordinates dead and a key nanotechnological nuclear weapon stolen.

British MI-5's Intelligent Agent Owen Wakefield interrogates Tyler to learn what went wrong on the mission starting with why Tyler’s father assigned the lead to her. They team up in an effort to regain what was purloined and bring military justice to the assassins. As they follow clues, the pair uncovers a dirty nuclear bomb plot with all roads leading back to her dad with one noted exception that Tyler betrayed her unit.

The latest A-Tac romantic suspense (see Dangerous Desires and Dark Deceptions) is a terrific military thriller in which the several mysteries make for a strong tale. In some ways the well-written romance takes a back seat to the intrigue. Readers will appreciate Dee Davis excellent entry in her strong series.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Mullah's Storm-Thomas W. Young

The Mullah's Storm
Thomas W. Young
Putnam, Sep 7 2010, $25.95
ISBN: 9780399156922

In Afghanistan, the C-130 Hercules transport plane left Bagram Air Base to deliver a Taliban Mullah prisoner for interrogation when the storm hit. The heavy blowing snow made visibility impossible and a rapid drop in pressure made flying even more dangerous. However, a surface to air missile strikes the plane causing it to crash in the mountainous lethal Hindu Kush region. The crew has several dead or severely injured; the blizzard cuts them off from immediate rescue while the Taliban who know the area intimately are coming to rescue the Mullah.

With broken legs keeping him trapped, Lieutenant Colonel Fisher assigns the highest ranking person standing navigator Major Michael Parson and Army Pashto interpreter and cultural awareness expert Master Sergeant Gold to escort the Mullah to the authorities. The enemy who heed the Mullah’s call to bring hell to the Americans and their allies know the terrain made more treacherous by the storm while his two escorts already believe they are traveling in a frozen hell. The Taliban hunt them abetted by frightened villagers and the Mullah who prays for deliverance.

This is an action packed military thriller that brings alive the stark reality of war in Afghanistan. The Air Force navigator and the Army interpreter are fully drawn characters, but it is the prisoner they escort who owns the plot (along with his country).as his beliefs profoundly contrast with prevalent Western philosophy. The suspense is summed up by author Thomas W. Young as an airman in Afghanistan: “…, what scared me the most wasn't the thought of getting shot down and killed. It was the thought of getting shot down and not killed…"

Harriet Klausner

Monday, July 26, 2010

Treachery in the Yard-Adimchinma Ibe

Treachery in the Yard
Adimchinma Ibe
Minotaur, Aug 3 2010, $22.99
ISBN: 9780312585938

In Government Reservation Area II, Port Harcourt, Nigeria, the bomb devastates the home and garage of affluent Pius Okpara, who is running against Dr. Vincent Puene for the National Conservative’s Party’s nomination for governor of Rivers State. Outside of the property damage, no one is hurt. Neighbor Mrs. Naomi Karibi, wife of a judge and mom of three, may have seen the culprits as she describes to the police on the scene.

Homicide Detective Tamunoemi Peterside leads the official investigation that soon turns from a bombing to murder when Mrs. Karibi is killed. As his superiors intrude on Peterside’s inquiry, other potential witnesses are also murdered.

Although not as deep as the Botswana mysteries (see Alexander McCall Smith’s The Number 1 Ladies Detective Agency and Michael Stanley’s Detective Kubu), the first Peterside Nigerian police procedural is an interesting tale. Action-packed as the murder count rises alarmingly fast, Adimchinma Ibe makes a case that corruption intrudes on good police work. Although more insight into Nigeria is needed and less of a Perry Mason climax, fans of African police procedurals will enjoy the first Detective Peterside investigation.

Harriet Klausner

Power Slide-Susan Dunlap

Power Slide
Susan Dunlap
Counterpoint, Jul 20 2010, $25.00
ISBN: 9781582435428

In San Francisco stuntman Damon Guthrie begins to reveal a shameful secret to his intermittent girlfriend stuntwoman Darcy Lott. Before completing his confession to a stunned distressed Darcy, Damon asks her to come to a meeting accompanied by her sibling John the cop at the Palace of the Fine Arts.

However, on his way to the meeting, Damon dies in a car accident. The timing seems suspicious to Darcy who decides to investigate as she has done before feature (see Hungry Ghosts, A Single Eye and Civil Twilight). Darcy also remains determined to find her missing other brother Mike, who vanished over two decades ago. However, those predators who murdered Damon decide Darcy is next.

The latest Zen detective amateur sleuth mystery is an exhilarating whodunit as the two inquiries are personal; although each requires a degree of acceptability that the heroine knew so little about a man she dated on and off for several years, and the tundra cold case of missing Mike. The fun in the investigative story line is the refreshing use of Zen Buddhism to work the cases and the amusing movie memorabilia collectibles, as the latest Darcy Lott mystery is an enjoyable whodunit.

Harriet Klausner

Villain-Shuichi Yoshida; Philip Gabriel (translator)

Shuichi Yoshida; Philip Gabriel (translator)
Pantheon, Aug 3 2010, $25.95
ISBN: 9780307378873

In 2002 in southern Japan, the corpse of Fukuoka insurance saleswoman Yoshino Ishibashi is found. Soon after the discovery of the dead woman’s body, Nagasaki police charge twenty-seven year old construction worker Yuichi Shimizu with first degree murder.

The pair had dated a few times but the motive remains as elusive as the ghosts that allegedly haunt this region of Japan. The cops learn that the victim had numerous online boyfriends and went on mundane and cyber dates; as Ishibashi hated her boring job. Meanwhile Shimizu also detested his cramped lifestyle as he cared for his ailing grandparents; his escapism from ennui was with his extravagant car. Meanwhile as he and his girlfriend evade the police, the impact of the murder reverberates on three families and the communities where they reside.

Using a horrific homicide, Shuichi Yoshida provides a powerful look at modern day Japan through multiple perspectives. The discerning story line rotates effortlessly between the past of lead pair (killer and victim) and the aftermath of the killing on the couple on the run and the families. Readers will relish this tense thriller as murder is the mechanism used to enable the audience to feel they are on the islands observing contemporary Japanese culture.

Harriet Klausner

Kiss of Death-P.D. Martin

Kiss of Death
P.D. Martin
Mira, Aug 1 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780778327790

The corpse was found in Temescal Gateway Park. LAPD fears the murder is ritual caused by an NRM (new religious movement) as the locale is where After Dark, a self proclaimed vampire group, holds rites and the victim has two puncture wounds in her neck. The local cops ask for FBI profiler Sophie Anderson to work with Detective Sloan on the investigation into who murdered Sherry Taylor, teenage daughter of an affluent producer.

As they interview interested parties, Sloan believes an acting professor or the former boyfriend killed Sherry while Anderson believes either After Dark or another “vampire” clan performed the deed. When a second corpse is found near the Sherry’s murder scene, Anderson fears someone is working on a psi transfer of power. However, as the Fed ignores her visiting boyfriend (from Arizona) and fears her attraction to Anton Ward, leader of After Dark, who senses her psi power, she goes undercover as Lady Veronica seeking a killer amidst the Goth scene.

The fascination in this tense well-written police procedural is with the insight into the two types of vampires (psi and blood suckers) as readers learn of psychosomatic illnesses (porphyria and Renfield's syndrome). Sloan is a terrific support character who should have a return engagement with Anderson. The prime rest of the secondary cast bring to life either the Goth or police subcultures. Although Anderson’s eerie attraction to Ward is not fully explained as this is a key element and questionable is the ease she switches to and from her Aussie accent (and vernacular), fans will enjoy her latest whodunit (see Killing Hands, Fan Mail and The Body Count).

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Secrets of Paradise Bay-Devon Vaughn Archer

The Secrets of Paradise Bay
Devon Vaughn Archer
Urban Renaissance, Jul 1 2010, $14.95
ISBN: 9781601622198

In Paradise Bay, Oregon, Trey Lancaster hurt his wife Ivana Kendall-Lancaster and their marriage when he had an affair with the spouse of a client six moths ago. Feeling ashamed for what he did to his former supermodel wife, Trey invites his brother Clyde to stay with them without consulting Ivana. Clyde, just released from prison following an assault conviction, accepts his wealthy sibling’s offer. Ivana is irate with her husband for ignoring her when he made this decision.

Clyde and Ivana begin an affair from almost the moment he arrives. However, he feels guilty for making love to his sister-in-law while she is confused wondering which brother she loves. When Clyde meets Stefani the singer he becomes further disoriented as he no longer understands his feelings. Meanwhile Willie Munroe owes Clyde and plans to pay back using the brother, the wife and the crooner as expendable pawns.

The Secrets of Paradise Bay is a fantastic romantic suspense family drama with a strong ensemble cast who each has major issues. The tension mounts on two subplots as the brothers seem ready to commit fratricide with each irate with the other and the Munro retribution entry that grips the audience with a sense of pending doom. Devon Vaughn Archer provides a great tale in which sibling rivalry may prove deadly if they fail to reconcile.

Harriet Klausner

The Pirate Devlin-Mark Keating

The Pirate Devlin
Mark Keating
Grand Central, Jul 27 2020, $24.99
ISBN: 9780446563901

In 1717 on the West Coast of Africa, French Marine Royale Phillipe Ducos lies dying after begin run aground by pirates. The only pirate who apparently understands French is newcomer Patrick Devlin. Besides taking the dead “frog’s” boots, he removes a treasure map that he conceals from his traveling companions.

Captaining the vessel Lucy, Patrick and his crew sail across the Atlantic into the Caribbean where the French guard gold. His adversary on this adventure is his former master Royal Navy Captain John Coxon under orders by the Admiralty to retrieves the treasure. Still fuming and ashamed he lost his ship to pirates, Coxon will kill anyone, British, French or pirate (and his former man-servant) who are in his way. Patrick knows he must trick British, French and pirates (and his former master) to retrieve the gold.

This is a rousing early eighteenth century swashbuckling thriller in which violence and blood flow throughout the exhilarating story line. Patrick is superb as the daring pirate captain who goes mano a mano with Blackbeard while Coxon compulsively obsesses with a need to prove he is a worthy sea captain. Readers will enjoy the confrontation between the master and the man-servant

Harriet Klausner

The Moses Expedition-Juan Gomez-Jurado

The Moses Expedition
Juan Gomez-Jurado
Atria, Aug 3 2010, $24.99
ISBN: 9781416590644

During WW II the Nazi Butcher of Spiegelgrund conducted painful deadly genetic experiments on Jewish children. A sibling to one of the young victims managed to escape to the United States.

Over six decades later, that escapee now New York billionaire Raymond Kayn finally learns where the Nazi genetic butcher has remained in hiding. He dispatches Vatican secret service agent Father Anthony Fowler (see God's Spy) to Austria to obtain an heirloom from the odious Nazi. The heirloom contains a scroll that locates the biblical Ark of the Covenant in the Jordanian desert. At the same time Kahn hires Spanish journalist Andrea Otero (also see God's Spy) to cover his expedition to obtain the sacred Ark. Huqan sends his terrorist agents into the desert to ambush the outsiders.

Although over the top of Raiders of the Lost Ark and lacking a consistent lead as a cast worthy of Cecil DeMille rotate the lead, fans will want to join The Moses Expedition from the armchair as terrorist bombs bursting in air and killer insects attack the team. Loaded with international action on four continents, Juan Gomez-Jurado provides a fun suspense thriller for those who can ignore plausibility.

Harriet Klausner

On Location-Elizabeth Sims

On Location
Elizabeth Sims
Minotaur, Aug 3 2010, $25.99
ISBN: 9780312586577

Los Angeles law student and single mom Rita Farmer feels the worst is finally over after a seemingly century of dealing with her alcoholic former spouse. However, the ex actress is stunned when her sister Gina along with future brother-on-law wealthy Lance de Sauvenard vanish in the wilds of Washington State during a nasty storm. Lance was scouting for an ideal on-site locale for his filmmaker brother to make a movie.

In her gut Rita knows she should turn to her boyfriend private investigator George Rowe to help find her sibling, but does not. Instead she rounds up the posse of her six year old son Petey and her gay friend Daniel the actor to search the wilderness filled with beasts that very loosely might be categorized as human who stalk the seemingly helpless trio.

More a thriller than a mystery, the third Farmer tale (see The Actress and The Extra) is a fabulous novel as Rita’s independent streak leads her and her two compatriots into trouble reminiscent of Dickey’s Deliverance. On Location is a winner that does not need a Byrd to tell fans that this entry is terrific.

Harriet Klausner

The Rembrandt Affair-Daniel Silva

The Rembrandt Affair
Daniel Silva
Putnam, Jul 20 2010, $26.95
ISBN: 9780399156588

Art restorer and retired Mossad agent Gabriel Allon and his agent second wife Chiara retreat to Glastonbury, England for some R&R and a return to normalcy after the recent near fatal abduction of her (see The Defector). However, the respite ends when Allon learns a dear colleague was murdered and the Rembrandt painting the victim was restoring was stolen. Unable to hide on the sidelines, Allon investigates.

Allon’s inquiry into a theft turned ugly takes him into the underbelly of capitalism as European firms clandestinely and illegally are selling reactor centrifuges to Iran. He realizes all nuclear waste in this case leads to Switzerland. Knowing he cannot go it alone, Allon calls in his former crew mates.

The latest Allon thriller is a terrific tale that has a different feel to the story line. The tale starts off as a mystery, but the clues turn the plot into an action-packed espionage thriller. Fast-paced regardless of genre, The Rembrandt Affair has the hero doing his usual quality job as he comes out of retirement to try to prevent the illegal sales to Iran. The escapades never stop until after the final confrontation; yet the key that refreshes this entry is Allon, who on the surface seems the same as in his previous appearances, but long time fans will notice subtle but fascinating differences.

Harriet Klausner

Bad Blood-John Sandford

Bad Blood
John Sandford
Putnam, Sep 21 2010, $27.95
ISBN: 9780399156908

Bob Tripp, in charge of the Battenberg Farmer’s Co-op grain elevator patiently waits for Jacob Flood to arrive to deposit his crop; Bob plans to kill Jacob. His scheme works perfectly as the police arrive at the scene and conclude he was murdered by Tripp rather than the accident the young man claimed happened. They arrest Tripp who is placed in a jail cell with overnight deputy Jim Crocker remaining in the office. While in the jail Tripp dies in what looks like a suicide, but is a homicide while at his home Crocker is also dead with the evidence pointing towards a female.

Because of a conflict of interest, Warren County Sheriff Lee Coakley asks BIA Agent Virgil Flowers for assistance. They drive separately to Homestead where the killings occurred. The pair learns that two of the victims belonged to the cult World of Spirit where rumors of rape, incest, and young teen brides are acceptable practices. Virgil and the sheriff also know they have no legal admissible evidence as the cult members stick closely together circling the wagons. Knowing the innocent are being harmed, the two law enforcement officials continual their diligence, but remain clueless.

With his fourth Flowers (and the zillion Prey tales) thriller, John Sandford once again affirms he is amongst the top echelon in the police procedural sub-genre. Virgil has a wicked sense of humor that distinguishes him, but when it comes to a case he is serious and meticulous. With plenty of murder, mayhem, and more, fans will enjoy the investigation by “F” Flowers and the female sheriff.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Stuff That Never Happened-Maddie Dawson

The Stuff That Never Happened
Maddie Dawson
Crown, Aug 3 2010, $23.00
ISBN: 9780307393678

Shge had thirty years of marriage to historian Grant McKay, but with their two kids gone, Annabelle wants more as she always loved someone else although her husband is a nice kindhearted person. When her pregnant daughter Sophie has a major health issue, Annabelle comes to Manhattan to help her.

The city reminds her of her first love back in the 1970s when as newlyweds with Grant teaching at Columbia University, they lived with his sponsor Jeremiah. Both Jeremiah and Annabelle knew an affair between Grant’s beloved wife and his cherished mentor would destroy him. However, they could not resist the passion. Now back in New York, she knows Jeremiah is near; Annabelle must choose between the two men she cares most about.

This is an entertaining chick lit family drama held together by Annabelle as readers compare her and her two loves in the 1970s with her as an about to be grandma with two loves in 2005. The triangle is strong as is Sophie and the city. Although the ending feels abrupt and too pat, fans will enjoy The Stuff That Never Happened as the lead protagonist has a second chance at selecting between the two men she loves.

Harriet Klausner

Deadly Fear-Cynthia Eden

Deadly Fear
Cynthia Eden
Forever, Aug 1 2010, $6.99
ISBN: 9780446559249

Since the trauma of childhood FBI profiler Monica Davenport conceals her emotions behind a seemingly impregnable wall she created ever since surviving serial killer Romeo. After that horror, sixteen years later she mentally survives and thrives by putting herself inside the minds of serial killers in order to catch these deadly vile predators and lock them away before they harm someone else.

Recently, the first cracks in her barrier have occurred as FBI Agent Luke Dante wants in as he wants her. The Bureau teams them up to bring down the notorious Watchman, who uses fear to immobilize victims. To defeat this brilliant psychopath, Monica and Luke will have to face their worst respective personal nightmare; if they unite they might overcome their baggage; if not two more filled body bags.

This is an entertaining romantic police procedural starring a fascinating heroine and a more typical alpha hunk. The story line is fast-paced throughout with a sort of second chance relationship between the lead couple as they met intimately at the Academy. Filled with tension especially when the Watchman targets Monica, fans will relish Deadly Fear as Cynthia Eden provides a taut nail biter.

Harriet Klausner

Veil of Night-Linda Howard

Veil of Night
Linda Howard
Ballantine, Aug 10 2010, $26.00
ISBN: 9780345506894

While paying her traffic ticket fine, Jaclyn Wilde loses her balance and falls into the arms Hopewell, Georgia Police detective Eric Wilder. She likes what she sees (and feels), but has no time for an encounter because as an event planner for Premier, which she co-owns with her mom, they host six weddings in five days.

At the end of a brutal day made worse by Carrie “Bridezilla” Edwards, Jaclyn stops off for a drink. Also at the same bar is Eric. The exchange business cards so they can hook up in a week, but lust gets the better of them and they spend a night making love.

Carrie fires Jaclyn and slaps her former planner in the face in front of many witnesses. A few hours later, Carrie is found murdered with the weapon being kabob skewers. Eric leads the investigation and as such must treat Jaclyn as a stranger being that she is a prime suspect; although he is positive she is not the killer. He plans to find the killer, keep Jaclyn safe from someone who wants her dead, and somehow regain her trust lost by doing his job.

The quality of Linda Howard’s romantic suspense novels remains consistently high as affirmed by Veil of Night. The tale is filled with tense intrigue, a strong police procedural investigation, a memorable cast, plenty of humor and a powerful lead couple – the cop and the suspect who go from lust to distrust as Eric performs his job. This is a must read.

Harriet Klausner

Foreign Influence-Brad Thor

Foreign Influence
Brad Thor
Atria, Jul 2010, $26.99
ISBN: 9781416586593

The new Administration aborts Department of Homeland Security Project Apex as the top secret antiterrorist group had been assigned rule breaking by the previous White House occupant to prevent attacks. As he did when he left the SEALs, Apex member Scot Harvath easily lands a position with Defense Department’s funded Carlton Group; mission identical to that of the disbanded Apex team.

In Rome a terrorist bomb kills a bus load of American tourists. Horvath travels to Italy on the mission of search and kill the prime suspect the Troll, and any associates. Chicago police officer and lawyer John Vaughn searches for the Middle Easterner taxi driver who ran over a woman in a hit and run. His inquiry leads Vaughn to a terrorist plot to kill civilians in Chicago.

Over the top of the Willis Tower, Foreign Influence is an exhilarating thriller in which the hero of previous tales simply switches teams. The story line is extremely fast with both subplots moving at a rapid rate of speed. Although Brad Thor argues that the government is incompetent and even antiterrorism efforts need contracting out when comparing the CIA with the Carlton group, fans who enjoy action, action and more testosterone action will appreciate Harvath's latest thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Hangman-Faye Kellerman

Faye Kellerman
Morrow, Aug 3 2010, $24.99
ISBN: 9780061702563

Los Angeles Police Department Lieutenant sexagenarian Peter Decker knows rumored New York hitman Chris Donatti and the alleged killer’s wife Terry McLaughlin. He met them on a case fifteen years ago when the couple were in high school; Chris confessed to a murder he did not do to protect Terry. Now, both vanish after a fight and their young teenage son Gabe calls Peter. The cop and his wife Rina Lazarus takes the boy into their home though they worry about psychopathic Chris harming their daughter. Meanwhile Decker searches for the vanished parents.

At the same time, Peter leads the inquiry into the brutal murder of St. Timothy Hospital’s neonatal nurse Adrianna Blanc. She was found hanging at a construction site with her car still in the hospital lot. Decker and his team Sergeant Marge Dunn and Detective Scott Oliver learn the victim enjoyed booze and sex. Her boyfriend Nurse Garth Hammerling has also vanished while on vacation.

This is a strong entry in the long running series due to the comparative analysis of two families. Decker-Lazarus is a loving unit with a strong relationship between them and with their daughter. On the other hand Donatti-McLaughlin is a dysfunctional unit with a history of violence with a piano prodigy offspring who uses music to escape his life. Although the inquires take a strange twist, fans will relish this fine police procedural as Decker fears Donatti might harm his family., but he and his spouse try to do what they believe is the right thing.

Harriet Klausner

Poison: A Novel of the Renaissance-Sara Poole

Poison: A Novel of the Renaissance
Sara Poole
St. Martin’s Griffin, Aug 3 2010, $14.99
ISBN: 9780312609832

In 1492, Giordano is murdered on the streets of Rome. His daughter wants to know why and who, but no one not even his employer seems interested. To obtain the knowledge she seeks, Francesca knows she must replace her late father as the chief poisoner of Rodrigo Borgia. The only way to prove her capable of performing the position is to poison someone of importance; she kills her target and is hired by Borgia s his personal poisoner.

When Pope Innocent II dies, her assignment becomes clear. She must murder any rival of Rodrigo who along with his family plans to see him become the next Pope. However, her efforts prove so successful that those who killed her father come after her.

This is a fascinating early Renaissance era thriller starring a fabulous lead protagonist who brings to life the political intrigue of the times. Although the story line can turn slow as Sara Poole provides a powerful look at the Borgia dynasty through the female poisoner, fans will relish this strong historical as murder and mayhem mix in late fifteenth century Rome and Vatican City as competitors to replace the late Pope Innocent II kill off opponents.

Harriet Klausner

Betrayers-Bill Pronzini

Bill Pronzini
Forge, Jul 2010, $24.99
ISBN: 9780765318206

Nameless wanted to say no, but knows he is unable to deny the septuagenarian client Mrs. Abbott who asks him to look at threats, a poisoned cat and ghosts over a real estate deal. On a personal note, Nameless investigates how a package of cocaine ended up in his daughter Emily’s bedroom.

At the same time his partner Tamara Corbin tracks down Lucas Zeller who broke her heart; her odious former lover seems involved in a charity scam. Their third partner Jake Runyon searches for Madison a bail jumper whose family is a piece of work.

The best of the four cases by far is Tamara’s as she and readers realize she learned a hard core lesson from Zeller and has come out of that bad relationship much stronger of a person. The Runyon investigation and the two Nameless inquiries are solid but not inspiring. Fans of the Nameless detective tales will enjoy the latest entry though not as strong as most of his caseload (see Schemers and Fever).

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Thrilled to Death-L.J. Sellers

Thrilled to Death
L.J. Sellers
Echelon, Sep 1 2010, $13.99
ISBN: 9781590807279

A few hour after impoverished Danielle Blake left her psychiatrist’s office she disappeared. Her baby son Micha’s paternal grandmother Kera Kollmorgan becomes very concerned. She calls her lover Eugene, Oregon Police Detective Wade Jackson who starts the wheels in motion for her to file a missing person’s report the next day.

At about the same time, wealthy Elle Durham, who owns plenty of property in the city, files a missing person’s report on her daughter Courtney. She never came home after going to a club with friends.

His superiors order Jackson to give his full and undivided attention to the Durham case; while, the brass all but ignores the Blake disappearance. When Courtney’s body is found on a bike path near Puget Stadium, his superiors still ignore the Blake case ordering Jackson to focus on finding the killer. Fuming, Jackson investigates the homicide while quietly working the case that interests him.

The newest Detective Jackson police procedural (see Secrets to Die For) is a terrific investigative thriller in which L.J. Sellars argues money matters as the cops chose the dead rich girl over the maybe still alive poor mom. Multilayered yet character driven, the audience will feel Jackson’s frustration with his superiors who twice select wealth (the second time in death) over poverty. The investigation is strong and realistic leading readers to fully relish Jackson’s latest case(s).

Harriet Klausner

The Nursing Home-James J. Murphy III

The Nursing Home
James J. Murphy III
L&J Publishing, Sep 17 2010, $14.00
ISBN: 9780984273102

The son of eighty-four year old Morris Grover can no longer cope with living in the same house as his father. Confined to a wheelchair and dependent on his family, Morris constantly makes demands of them. Morris continually fights with the three people he shares the house with until they cannot stand being with him. Sam and his wife Lila forcibly place Morris in a Florida nursing home. He quickly hates the horrific smell and the terrible tasting food. The biggest shock is the abuse the staff heap on the residents. Morris soon meets some men who not just think similar to him, but respect and like him.

At first a series of patients die unexpectedly, but the staff is dying as well and they are getting nastier especially the abusers. The police investigate but find no evidence to arrest anyone although circumstantially wheelchair bound Morris is a person of interest even though the killer had to be able to stand. Four determined teenagers and two of cops investigate who are killing the residents and staff of Riggs Nursing Home.

On top of the guilt of having to place a loved one in a nursing home, this thriller is a double sword horror tale as readers will cringe with what humans do to the elderly while there is also a supernatural spin to the fine mystery. Thus The Nursing Home grips readers on two levels with the abuse being the more horrific as that is realistically portrayed. However, it is the paranormal element that ties the homicides and other incidents together into a enthralling reading experience.

Harriet Klausner

Theater of Illusion-Kathy Steffen

Theater of Illusion
Kathy Steffen
Medallion, Aug 1 2010, $15.95
ISBN: 9781605420868

She and her brother Tobias survived a horrendous upbringing from an abusive religious father; thanks to her courageous mom who killed the intolerant family patriarch to protect the young from his murderous piety wrath. Now a decade later in 1910, Sarah Perkins will not allow any man to prevent her from doing what she wants to do. Her dream is to become a riverboat pilot though the River Board insists that is a gender specific (meaning males only) occupation. She chooses her childhood friend Jeremy, who she bested in many contests, as a pilot.

Sarah boards the Spirit of the River paddleboat that travels the Ohio and Mississippi praying she has the opportunity to pilot the vessel. Also on board is Le Theatre d’Illusion troupe. Soon afterward, a performer vanishes and much of the crew and passengers become ill with some dying from a mysterious ailment. She worries about her brother who drinks himself into stupors each night to bury the voice of their father that he hears when he is sober. Tobias fears his father possesses him and while intoxicated is killing in the name of God. Sarah is up against an avenging killer who might be her brother gone mad or the only person standing capable of steering the ship of doom to safety.

The third Spirit of the River historical (see Jasper Mountain and First, There Is a River) is a wonderful thriller that reminds readers women have come a long way from the past century as the heroine cannot crack the glass ceiling; women need not apply. Inside a strong mystery-adventure, this fast-paced entry looks at alcoholism, sexism, and other debilitating isms. Fans will want to ride the river with Sarah as their pilot though she reconsiders what she wished for when she first stepped on board.

Harriet Klausner

An Ordinary Decent Criminal-Michael Van Rooy

An Ordinary Decent Criminal
Michael Van Rooy
Minotaur, Aug 3 2010, $24.99
ISBN: 9780312606282

In Winnipeg, career criminal; Montgomery Haaviko is trying to stay legit. His efforts to stay straight are fueled by his wonderful wife and their child. However, his intentions fail when three men break into his home. Though they are armed, Haaviko kills them in self-defense.

He explains to the cops what transpired, but his past catches up with him and he is arrested for murder. Distrusting the Canadian judicial system to give him a fair shake, Haaviko refuses to talk to the police without a lawyer present. The cops severely batter him into unconsciousness trying to make him confess, but he remains mute. Later, in spite of the claim by the police that he confessed Haaviko and his lawyer force all charges to be dropped. However, legally from his point of view the case closed but he is unable to obtain employment. Someone has begun a crusade informing prospective employers that Haaviko is a career felon who just got away with murder.

This is a terrific gritty Canadian crime thriller in which the hero struggles with his past haunting him while he escorts the audience through the harsh criminal underbelly of the city. The story line starts incredible fast-paced and loaded with action, but eventually slightly decelerates as Monty’s woes take center stage. Readers will appreciate this delightfully often darkly humored tale of how difficult it is going straight especially when someone wants to get Monty.

Harriet Klausner

Murder in the Air-Bill Crider

Murder in the Air
Bill Crider
Minotaur, Aug 3 2010, $24.99
ISBN: 9780312386955

The residents of Blacklin County, Texas are outraged over the odious smell coming from Lester Hamilton’s humongous chicken farm. The locals demand County Sheriff Dan Rhodes act now or face unemployment. He insists he has no authority as this is a matter of the state’s Environmental Protection Agency, which everyone knows works for the protection of big business.

At a time he prefers to hide from two female authors who wrote novels starring heroic Sage Barton rumored to be him, he suddenly has a suspicious death to deal with when Hamilton is found dead near a popular fishing spot. Although the Sheriff believes it was an accident caused by "noodling," for large catfish with his hand as bait, he investigates anyway as he knows a lot of people are angry with the deceased. As Rhodes investigates the death, he deals with Robin Hood shooting arrows with notes attached to them and women scantily dressed in feathers protesting the fowl factory farm.

Filled with plenty of the trademark humor, the latest Crider police procedural (see Murder in Four Parts) is a wonderful zany Texas thriller. The story line is fast-paced and loaded with an eccentric cast who add to the zaniness of the plot. This is a fun detective tale in which there may not have been a crime beyond noodling.

Harriet Klausner

Nemesis-Lindsey Davis

Lindsey Davis
Minotaur, Aug 31 2010, $24.99
ISBN: 9780312595425

In AD 77 on a hot summer day in Rome, informer Marcus Didius Falco has twin tragedies strike him almost simultaneously. His newborn son dies just hours after being born and when he took his baby to be buried on his father’s property, he learns his dad died also. As the heir Marcus must make quick business decisions. Marcus has a contract to deliver over a hundred statues to the amphitheater, but when he arrives to pay his father’s supplier for them and pick them up, Julius Modestus and his wife Livia Primilla are nowhere to be found.

The nephew of the missing couple takes remittance for the statues. He also informs Marcus that his Uncle Julius complained about Nobilis of the Claudii family who reside in the desolate Pontine Marshes. Marcus soon learns that the mutilated body of Modesto has been found. Falco and his friend vigiles Petronius investigate. They visit the Pontine Marshes and see how trashy the Claudii live and how everyone in a miles wide radius fears them. As they make progress on the case, their enemy Chief Spy Anacrites takes over the inquiry. Falco realizes someone high up in the government is protecting the Claudii so he and his partner continue their probe.

Falco is home after a best selling trip to Alexandria; once again Lindsey Davis brings to life Rome mostly through the eyes of the informer. As a sort of anti-hero, Falco gets his hands dirty while seeking justice for his late father’s deceased supplier though the inquiry enables him to put his grief as the sandwich generation mourning two deaths on hold. The rest of the cast is strong especially the protagonist’s partner, the first century bureaucrat Anacrites and the squalid living Claudii who ironically have high level protection. This is a terrific Ancient Rome whodunit with surprising twists and Falco running from his grief.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, July 19, 2010

Alpha Warrior-Aimee Thurlo

Alpha Warrior
Aimee Thurlo
Harlequin Intrigue, Aug 2010, $4.99
ISBN: 9780373694921

Librarian Drew Simmons is training for a position in the police department’s records section. Although she is unsure why, someone tries to kidnap her. Police Detective Nick Blacksheep’s intervention saved her from the abduction though the culprit got away.

His boss Captain Wright assigns him to keep Drew safe while Detective Koval investigates the assault. However, more assaults occur though she remains ignorant as to the motive. Nick assumes she found something perhaps in the records that worries someone. He also believes a police insider is assisting the unknown adversary. As they team up to solve who and why, they fall in love, but her safety remains paramount in his mind.

This is a terrific romantic suspense police procedural that starts off with a bang when Nick saves Drew from an abduction and never slows down as he knows a police department insider is helping the unknown adversary who obviously has influence. Fast-paced and loaded with action, readers will enjoy this wonderful Long Mountain Heroes’ thriller Aimée Thurlo provides another winning modern day Navaho tale with a sibling to follow.

Harriet Klausner

Colby Velocity-Debra Webb

Colby Velocity
Debra Webb
Harlequin Intrigue, Aug 2010, $4.99
ISBN: 9780373694891

Kendra Todd asks the Colby Agency to investigate the death of her friend Yoni Sayar, a political aide who was helping shifty Senator Judd Castille push a bill to temper lobbyists’ influence. Kendra wants to be part of the investigative team.

Colby assigns former Equalizer Leland “Rocky” Rockford to team up with Kendra. As they make inquiries into the DC octopi power structure, they find blackmail and questionable deals as they follow the clues through a miasma of pond scum running the country. Rocky knows that as they get closer to the truth, the culprit will have no problem hiring assassins to murder two more people as the villain has no compunction when it comes to murder.

The latest Colby Agency Merger is an action-packed gritty thriller that never slows down even for a body bag from the moment Kendra and Yoni meet. The lead couple is a super duet as they fall in love, but she only trusts her job not her heart. Readers will relish the full velocity of this tale, its previous miniseries entry (see Colby Control) and the rest of the Colby saga.

Harriet Klausner

Done Hazards of the Game-Norma Tadlock Johnson

Done Hazards of the Game
Norma Tadlock Johnson
Five Star, Aug 18 2010, $25.95
ISBN 9781594148811

Following the funeral of her husband Fred, their well meaning friends drive Seattle suburban widow Paula Madigan crazy until one of them a widow also arranges for her to meet with Mrs. Pappas. To escape the friends, Paula agrees to housesit and watch Mum-mum and Carioca the cats at Kamiak Hills, overlooking Puget Sound while Mrs. Pappas is away. She and her new friend, next door neighbor Ellen Cogsdill are playing golf at the country club when they find a female hand in a sand trap.

Soon afterward, Paula’s thirteen-year-old granddaughter Laurie Shuler is coming to spend the summer with her. She is excited about her “roommate”, but until recently was unaware of Laurie’s existence as she and her daughter had not spoken in sixteen years four months thanks to dearly departed Fred. Laurie makes friends with the felines and Ellen’s oldest twelve-year-old Josh. The foursome investigates the case of the mostly buried female corpse. They begin to fin all sorts of nefarious secrets that lead to someone warning them to back of or else. That person driving a silver vehicle tries to kill them while more homicides rock Kamiak Hills.

The latest Cedar Harbor Mystery (see Donna Rose and the Slug War and Donna Rose and the Roots of Evil) allows Donna Rose a breather as a new young mateur sleuth team investigates the sand trap grave. The youngsters-feline investigation place them in danger from a killer who plans to remain anonymous at all costs. With a dysfinctional family subplot rounding out the latest Cedar Habror whodunit, readers will enjoy this fun cozy.

Harriet Klausner

The Death of an Ambitious Woman-Barbara Ross

The Death of an Ambitious Woman
Barbara Ross
Five Star, Aug 18 2010, $25.95
ISBN 9781594148989

In New Derby, Massachusetts businesswoman Tracey Kendall is on her cell phone with her four years old son Carson when she curses just prior to crashing into a stone wall. She is dead on impact. The assumption is she was driving too fast, but no one knows why.

Ruth Murphy knows the risk to her career especially since she made the final cut for the permanent position of town Police Chief. She was warned by Mayor Rosenfeld to behave especially since she and the District Attorney are far from allies. Still acting Police Chief Ruth Murphy investigates the death. She, and Detectives McGrath and Moscone interview the spouse Stephen a prominent artist who finds his muses with affairs and the avaricious sleazy business partner at Fiske and Holden. Ruth believes a clever homicide occurred especially when Tracey’s mechanic vanished even as the D.A. wants her to end the inquiry.

The Death of an Ambitious Woman is a superb police procedural starring a dedicated cop who knows her chances of becoming chief are diminishing with each step in the investigation while her self esteem and the respect of the department conversely grows. Fans will appreciate this entertaining investigation as the cops methodically seek a clever killer while the mayor and the D.A. demand they end their inquiry.

Harriet Klausner

Death on a Budget-Michael W. Sherer

Death on a Budget
Michael W. Sherer
Five Star, Aug 18 2010, $25.95
ISBN 9781594148910

In Huntley, Illinois, banker Lou Barrett commits suicide using a shotgun. His childhood friend Chicago private investigator Emerson Ward returns home for his buddy’s funeral though he us stunned that Lou killed himself.

At the same time that Emerson heads home, his girlfriend Nell Reilly decides to go home to Seattle with their two-year-old daughter Emily to visit her mother dying from cancer. Lou's sister Meg Brodsky informs Emerson that she believes someone murdered her sibling, but made it look like Lou killed himself. Emerson, who was going to rush home to talk to Nell before she flew to the Pacific Northwest, begins to uncover a dirty mall deal, which leads to further questions about Lou's business partner Pete Anderson and Emerson’s conclusion that his pal was murdered. However, not only does someone want him silenced and the FBI warn him off the case as they conduct surveillance of a Muslim businessmen, clues lead back decades to the sleuth’s teen years and his brother Hank’s suicide.

The latest Ward investigation (see Death Is No Bargain) is personal as the death of a childhood friend brings back memories of the hero’s salad days when his sibling killed himself. The exciting story line is complex with two prime subplots, but several threads in each. Although the climatic ending seems to come out of nowhere, readers will enjoy Ward’s investigation into Death.

Harriet Klausner

Needle in a Haystack-Ernesto Mallo

Needle in a Haystack
Ernesto Mallo
Bitter Lemon, Sep 1 2010, $14.95
ISBN: 9781904738565

In 1976 in Buenos Aires, Police Superintendent “Perro” Lascano investigates a double homicide. When he arrives at the crime scene, he finds three corpses. Two of the bodies are dressed similar in jeans and polo neck shirts and have numerous bullet wounds, which is evidence that the Junta death squad executed the pair as they share responsibility in case of accountability. The third dead person is different as he is much older and wears a suit and tie; however, the biggest difference is he has one bullet wound. The cop is unauthorized to look into the political killings of the jean wearers as that is disallowed but he can investigate the dead suit.

Lascano meets Eva, a dissident running from the Army. She looks like his late wife Marisa, who died in a car accident. He conceals Eva who gives him a reason to live as he has been despodent since Maria’s death. Menwhile Lascano and his friend Fuseli the forensic pathologist identify the older victim as moneylender and Auschwitz survivor Elias Biterman. Lascano learns that Elias’ younger brother Horacio introduced him to his decadent friend Amancio. The lender lent money to Amancio. Lascano thinks bankrupt Amancio is the killer or hired the killer, but needs to prove his assertion in a society in which no one seems to care.

Ernesto Mallo uses the official police investigation to focus on the atrocities and moral rationalizations of those in charge. Readers will need to make a slight adjustment to the unusual technique of first person dialogue with no identification as to the speaker; a metaphor of death squads. Once the audience adapts, the story line is fast-paced throughout especially the climax. This is a strong historical that look s deeply at how society failed to protect its citizens especially the young.

Harriet Klausner

Brewski For The Old Man-Phyllis Smallman

Brewski For The Old Man
Phyllis Smallman
McArthur & Company, Sep 1 2010, $19.95
ISBN: 9781552788363

Thanks in part to her silent partner lover, Sherri Travis now owns the Sunset Bar and Grill in Jacaranda, Florida where she was previously a bartender only. However her euphoria turns to concern when Ray John Leenders arrives at the bar’s parking lot. When Sherri was almost twelve years old, RJ moved in with her mom and her. He consistently would trap her and eventually tried to rape her; she fought him off, but feared telling her dad who was a hot tempered veteran. Now he is the boyfriend of storeowner Rena Cagel, the mother of young teenager Lacey. Sherri fears for the child and warns Rena who defends Ray John. Lacey confesses to Sherri that the animal is assaulting her, but cannot tell her mom who believes he is perfect. Sherri warns Ray John to leave Lacey alone, but he ignores her and comes after her.

Additionally, Sherri has a second issue with another man from her past arriving. Her father Tully Jenkins asks her to help him deploy a detailed revenge scheme. She tells him about Ray John and he promises to take care of business. A homicide later and the police suspect Sherri.

The latest Travis amateur sleuth (see Margarita Nights and Sex in a Sidecar) is a terrific thriller as the lead protagonist’s horrific childhood comes back to haunt her with two males who she knows still belong in the swamp, preferably dead. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Sherri realizes Lacey’s RJ nightmare is her RJ nightmare and never slows down as the bartender fails to heed the advice of the late Miss Emma not to stoke the fire. Readers will appreciate this caring Floridian as she sets out to prove her innocence though caught in the nightmarish returns of two violent males.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Swept Away By A Kiss-Katharine Ashe

Swept Away By A Kiss
Katharine Ashe
Avon, Jul 27 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780061965623

In 1810 after two years of exile in Boston, Lady Valerie Monroe is on her way back home as she knows her brother Valentine the earl forgives her foolishness. Although her upper crust American relatives led by Cousin Abigail are concerned that she travels alone on a Dutch merchant ship, Valerie cannot wait to reach Portsmouth.

On the vessel Valerie meets passenger Jesuit priest, Etienne LeMarque who prefers the Anglo version of his given name Stephen. They are attracted to one another, but both hesitate. When pirates capture their ship, he keeps her safe until they are rescued. In England her hero whom she loves disappears breaking her heart. However, she is stunned when she enters a salon only to be introduced to her beloved Viscount Steven Ashford who loves her too. However, he has a quest to complete unaware that the adversary he seeks now has a pretty pawn to use to destroy him.

This is a wonderful Regency romance starring two likable lead characters who are fully developed so that the reader understands what motivates them besides love. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Valerie goes on deck to breathe only to find her breath stopped upon seeing Etienne. He is shocked by his attraction as he has no time for the distraction of desire. Sub-genre readers will appreciate Katharine Ashe’s fine historical.

Harriet Klausner

Feline Fatale-Linda O. Johnston

Feline Fatale
Linda O. Johnston
Berkley, Jul 6 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425235546

Kendra Ballantyne works as an attorney for a small laid-back law firm dealing mostly with the elderly and those who have pet problems. She is dating wealthy Dante, owner of the Hot Pets supply chain. Currently she is pet-sitting at the Brigadoon Complex so her friends Wanda and Darryl can go on vacation.

Kendra gets into a fracas with Margaret Shafter who doesn’t like strangers on her complex and opposes pets inside as that brings in outside riffraff. Teddy and Ruth Bertinetti support Margaret. Wanda returns Kendra’s call and informs the lawyer that Brigadoon is divided over the pet issue with several making nasty dangerous threats. The next time Wanda contacts Kendra is when she is a murder suspect. One of the cats, Lady Cuddles, escaped entering Margaret’s apartment. Wanda followed the frisky feline inside the apartment where Margaret was apparently murdered. Kendra promises to find the killer, but instead realizes a horde of people had viable motives. Kendra turns to a risky extraordinary method to flush out the culprit.

Once again Linda O. Johnston has written a creative crazy complex and charmingly delightful cozy as Feline fatale is one of the better amateur sleuths in the Pet-Sitter mystery series (see Howl Deadly). Kendra is a caring courageous person who goes the extra kilometer for her friends and loves Dante despite his excesses. Fans of the saga will appreciate the heroine as she tries to identify the murderer to insure Wanda is no longer a suspect.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, July 16, 2010

Overkill-Joseph Teller

Joseph Teller
Mira, Aug 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780778327769

Defense attorney Harrison J. “Jaywalker” Walker sits in a docket room in the Supreme Court building in Manhattan waiting for his client’s turn to plea. He hears an obvious civil lawyer tell Judge McGillicuddy guilty with an explanation. The Judge asks the lawyer Fudderman and the ADA Katherine T. Darcy to come to the bench where he reads the riot act before calling Mr. Jaywalker to come forward. McGillicuddy “assigns” the defense to Jaywalker.

After a brawl over a girl, Jeremy Estrada shot and killed another boy with a gun shot between the eyes. Though he cannot string together a coherent sentence Jeremy claims self defense and thus demands a trial. Though he doubts he will be paid, Jaywalker agrees to defend him before his mom comes up with another attorney willing to plea bargain the kind into a life sentence.

This is a super legal thriller that sub-genre fans will enjoy. The story line is fascinating from the moment Jaywalker struggles to spell “harass” and never slows down until the jury is polled on the final verdicts on the twelve counts as the audience sees up close how the system works (or not works). Overkill is another terrific Jaywalker tale (see The Tenth case and Depraved Injustice).

Harriet Klausner

Scoop to Kill-Wendy Lynn Watson

Scoop to Kill
Wendy Lynn Watson
Obsidian, Sep 7 2010, $6.99
ISBN: 9780451230768

In Dalliance, Texas, Tally Jones owns the upscale ice cream parlor Remember the A-la-mode. Her sister Bree and Bree’s daughter Alice work there; the three females also live together. At Dickerson College, the trio attends the annual Honor's Day festivities. Alice looks for grad student Bryan Campbell who is being honored at the program.

She finds him dead, murdered by blunt force trunk from an industrial strength stapler. The victim was charging Dr. Emily Cowper with failing him on his pre-dissertation test because he refused her sexual advances. Although nobody except his family liked Bryan, Emily starts to hang around Alice at the parlor; Tally and Brea begin to know her. When Emily calls them from her home, they rush over to see if she is okay. They find her dead with her a robe’s belt tied around her neck. The police and the college quickly determine suicide due to guilt over Bryan, but the trio believes otherwise and set out to prove it.

Read this entertaining amateur sleuth on a full stomach because the ice cream descriptions and recipes lead to great craving for the treat. As with I Scream, You Scream, the second A la mode mystery is a charming cozy filled with a likable lead trio, plenty of humor and of course mouth watering ice cream. With an inside look at the cut throat academic world as seen through the threesome with so many suspects surfacing, fans will enjoy this calorie inducing amateur sleuth.

Harriet Klausner

A Deadly Row-Casey Mayes

A Deadly Row
Casey Mayes
Berkley, Sep 7 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425236413

Zach was the Police Chief of Charlotte, North Carolina when he was shot in the chest and forced to retire. He and his wife puzzle creator Savannah Stone moved to Parson’s Valley far away from the big urban centers, but police work is part of Zach’s DNA makeup so he opens up a consulting firm.

The new Police Chief Davis Rowles, who Zach recommended, asks for his services. Charlotte Mayor Grady Winslow is receiving threatening letters from someone who apparently has killed two people already. When they arrive at the Belmont, they are put up in the swanky suite.owned by billionaire Baton Lane. One of the victims worked for him and was a friend so he believes hosting the Stones is his minor contribution to capturing the killer. Savannah’s puzzle skills come in handy when letters and pictures come to the police station with a puzzle number on the package; she knows if she finds the key she will locate the psychopath. Zach uses mundane police methods by questioning suspects including Davis and Grady. Both of the Stones arrive at the identification of the killer at the same time, but now Savannah’s life is in danger.

Casey Mayes has written a fascinating amateur sleuth-police procedural starring a husband and wife couple who work well together. The pair loves one another and talks to each other sharing notes on their respective inquiry. Character driven with several terrific twists, readers who enjoy mysteries like those of Parnell Hall’s Puzzle Lady will enjoy observing the two Stones methodically work separately and together on their first joint case.

Harriet Klausner

Fever of the Bone-Val McDermid

Fever of the Bone
Val McDermid
Harper, Sep 7 2010, $14.99
ISBN: 9780061986482

In Bradfield, England someone is using the social networking website RigMarole to meet teens in person before killing them; two victims so far. The hot case police make little progress with their investigation. However, Cold Case team leader DCI Carol Jordan and her unit find clues. She asks her new boss to allow her to use profiling expert Tony Hill, but James Burke says he is too expensive so they use an in house profiler.

Tony recently inherited the large estate of his late father, who had abandoned him as a baby. He travels to Worcester to sort through what he was bequest. The Worcester police department hires him to profile a murderer who killed a teenager. Carol cannot discuss her case with Tony, but soon they realize that in all probability the same predator murdered the teens in Bradfield and Worcester.

Although the police procedural elements are superb, the strength of the latest Hill-Jordan thriller is in the personal lives of the parents of the victims and the profiler. The parents struggle with their loss as they are good people coping with a tragedy that they thought they could prevent by warning their children not to socially in person meet strangers who seem friendly online. Tony tries to understand the father he has spent a lifetime hating and encouraged by his mother to do so; fans will hope he moves on to the next level with Carol. With a strong Internet social network whodunit and personal subplots, Fever of the Bone is a winner.

Harriet Klausner

The Ocean Dark-Jack Rogan

The Ocean Dark
Jack Rogan
Ballantine, Jul 27 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780553385182

In a rarely noticed remote island in the Caribbean, the Mariposa cargo ship heads to its meeting with the Antoinette to pick up an illegal shipment of guns. However, the criminal crew mostly from Costa Rica is attacked by deadly apparently amphibious creatures.

When the Antoinette finally reaches the rendezvous point, they find an island littered with broken ships. The crew of almost entirely felons with one undercover FBI agent on board is under siege. A nearby FBI vessel serendipitously follows the Antoinette, but hesitates whether to intervene. While in the States DOD scientists have an idea what is terrorizing the Antoinette, but protocol slows down their assistance. All hell has broken loose in a tiny dot in the Caribbean.

This is an exciting horror thriller as the beasts mount up quite a number of kills even before readers meet the amphibious species up front and in person. The story line is fast-paced with mostly unsympathetic characters like the last survivor on the Mariposa Braulio putting a human face to the terror. Action-packed from the first bloody scream to the last, fans will enjoy this exhilarating sea thriller mindful of the Beast from the Black Lagoon especially over the first third of the novel.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Last Lie-Stephen White

The Last Lie
Stephen White
Dutton, Aug 17 2010, $26.99
ISBN 9780525951773

In Boulder, Colorado, psychologist Dr. Alan Gregory and wife Assistant District Attorney Lauren meet new neighbors renowned attorney Mattin Snow and his wife. Alan and Lauren are worried how their adopted son Jonas will react to the sale of his family home, but he conceals his feelings. Meanwhile the day after a welcome to the neighborhood party, a widow claims she was raped at the Gregory house where she was sleeping off to much wine.

Lauren and their friend BPD Detective Sam Purdy and his partner Detective Lucy Davenport investigate. Alan obtains information on the allegation from his peer Hella Zoet who says the victim “The Burning Man Woman” formerly dubbed “The Three Wood Widow” called her to tell her about being acquaintance raped. Soon a witness is dead and Alan fears more will follow.

Though there appears to be major conflicts if interest issues (then again there is Justice Scalia argument otherwise); the latest Dr. Gregory case is an intriguing thriller as he and his wife (with the cops) compete with their respective investigations; each side going down a different not quite parallel path. Action-packed, but character driven, fans of the series will enjoy Gregory back in Colorado after a stint in New England (see The Siege).

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Dark Vineyard-Martin Walker

The Dark Vineyard
Martin Walker
Knopf, Jul 27 2010, $23.95
ISBN: 9780307270184

In the French countryside overlooking Saint Denis, ruffians assault and set on fire a secret agricultural research station studying genetically enhanced crops. Chief of Police Benoit “Bruno” Courreges, the only cop in the rural village, investigates the arson. His prime suspects are eco-terrorist environmentalists.

At the same time, American winemaker Fernando Bondino is in the area considering the possibility of investing in the fertile land at a time when the local economy is in an empty vat. However, Fernando’s aggressive behavior has alienated many of the villagers especially when he brawled with local environmentalist-winemaker Max Vannes over Jacqueline, a Canadian visitor. When Max and his adopted father winemaker Francois Cresseil are found murdered, everyone suspects the American. As Bruno makes inquiries, the mayor warns him not to alienate the prime suspect.

The sequel to Bruno, Chief of Police is a terrific French village police procedural as the Chief investigates an apparent arson, two murders, and several visitors including one from the other side of the Channel who he is attracted to while also tasting quality wine. Ironically, one of the worst crimes is dropping a bottle of ’82 worth quite a few euros. The whodunit is cleverly designed, but much of the enjoyment comes from those in power like the mayor who warn Bruno not to drive an investor away with his persistent investigation. Readers will toast Martin Walker for a fine mystery.

Harriet Klausner

Arsenic and Old Paint-Hailey Lind

Arsenic and Old Paint
Hailey Lind
Perseverance, Sep 9 2010, $14.95
ISBN 9781564744906

In San Francisco, former forger turned decorative artist Annie Kincaid and her two assistants restore an exclusive men's club housed in a historic brownstone in the Nob Hill section. They are interrupted when they hear a scream. The three restorers head down a flight of stairs to the source. There they find a maid looking in horror at a man in the bathtub with a sword in his chest.

SFPD Inspector Annette Crawford leads the investigation starting with warning Annie to butt out as they have butted heads before. Meanwhile Annie's art mentor “Uncle” Anton Woznikowicz is very ill from arsenic poisoning and an insurance adjuster wants to hire her to locate a stolen erotic painting.

Aptly titled, the newest Art Lover's mystery (see Brush with Death) is a wonderful tale as Annie connects the dots between the bathtub homicide and the attempted murder of her uncle. She vows vengeance on the culprit while Crawford wants her to chill and stay out of her way. Readers will relish Annie’s efforts as she ignores the cop and tries to get her lover alleged art thief Michael X. Johnson to help her. Annie and the support cast including San Francisco make the whodunit fun.

Harriet Klausner

Santa Fe Edge-Stuart Woods

Santa Fe Edge
Stuart Woods
Putnam, Sep 21 2010, $25.95
ISBN 9780399156915

Barbara Eagle Keeler continues her effort to escape from Mexico's El Diablo Prison for Women, as her mission remains unfinished. Her obsession is to kill her former husband Santa Fe lawyer Ed Eagle.

At the same time that Barbara works her latest ploy, CIA agent Holly Barker wants a second chance at nabbing rogue CIA agent Teddy Fay (see Hothouse Orchid). Fay opts to remain in Santa Fe because he assesses Agent Todd Bacon as too inexperienced to cause him any issues.

Eagle gets his client golf pro Tip Hanks free of the charge of spousal homicide. However, Tip remains in a sand trap as his troubles still mount.

The latest Eagle thriller (see Santa Fe Dead and Santa Fe Rules).is an entertaining tale in which all roads lead to the New Mexico city. Eagle has recovered from his Mexican gangs escapades though he knows who still stalks him even from behind bars. His defense of the golf pro is fun to follow as is Barker’s (see Blood Orchid and Iron Orchid) visit. Although over the edge with questionable incidents that make things easier for the heroes, Santa Fe Edge is an exciting novel as Stuart Woods uses two of his series leads to the delight of his fans.

Harriet Klausner

The Way of the Guilty-Jennifer Stanley

The Way of the Guilty
Jennifer Stanley
St. Martin’s, Aug 31 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780312376840

Cooper Lee has a good job, nice friends that she met at Hope Street Church who formed a Bible Study Group; a great boyfriend; and a wonderful family. Her sister Ashley does not feel as lucky because she wants a baby so badly but is having trouble conceiving due a medical condition. Ashley’s husband owns a car dealership and when she is given a loaner she freaks out to find a body in the trunk.

Cooper is on her way to Ashley’s house when she gets a flat. She meets ex-con Edward Crosby who feels he owes her for uncovering who killed his father. He takes her to Ashley’s place and eventually the sisters learn the victim is Miguel Ramos who worked as a head lot attendant. Cooper wants justice done by catching Miguel’s killer. However, she also learns he was involved in a shady operation because he lived in an expensive place, had expensive clothing and had a wad of money in his home. Shortly after Miguel was killed, the son of the title clerk was also murdered. Cooper feels the two people murdered are linked in some way and with Edward’s help, she starts down a path that she hopes will lead to a cold blooded killer.

This inspirational mystery dramatically demonstrates that even the most diabolical person can change and seek redemption. Not preachy, this amateur sleuth focuses nevertheless on lessons learned that retain applicability today. This whodunit is riveting with a believable cast so the audience will complete the tale in one sitting.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Wicked Intentions-Elizabeth Hoyt

Wicked Intentions
Elizabeth Hoyt
Grand Central, Aug 1 2010, $6.99
ISBN: 9780446558945

In 1737 someone is murdering people in London’s dark alleys. The homicides are so gruesome rumors spread that the Ghost of St. Giles is the culprit.

When his mistress becomes a victim, Lord Lazarus Huntington vows to find the killer. To make his investigation succeed, Lazarus needs help so hr asks Widow Temperance, whom he just meets over a baby rescue. Lord Lazarus Huntington needs Temperance’s St. Giles’ insider knowledge due to her owning the Home for Unfortunate Infants and Foundling Children to assist him. She agrees on the condition he find her a patron to fund her home. They investigate in seemingly every nook and cranny of St. Giles but the psychopath seems several steps ahead of them leaving behind grisly corpses for the pair to “admire” the work. As the amateur sleuths fall in love while chasing a predator, they find the Ghost of St. Giles seems to be there when they most need it.

This is a terrific Georgian amateur sleuth romantic suspense starring a refreshing heroine and an avenging hedonist. The story line is a fast-paced cat and mouse thriller with the romantic subplot enhancing the overall tension as Temperance becomes the cheese. Historical romantic suspense fans will relish this action-packed tale as a serial killer stalks London while also being the matchmaking catalyst between the lead couple pursuing after this deadly predator.

Harriet Klausner

Driven to Ink-Karen E. Olson

Driven to Ink
Karen E. Olson
Obsidian, Sep 7 2010, $6.99
ISBN: 9780451231574

In Las Vegas, Brett Kavanaugh is a tattoo artist who caters to a high class clientele. Her store, The Painted Lady, is located in an upscale mall unlike her prime rival Jeff Coleman, who owns Murder Ink in an out of the way strip mall next door to a bail bondsman. When Sylvia Coleman wants to marry Bernie Applebuam, Brett lends them her car so they can drive to the chapel served by several Dean Martin imitators.

The day after she retrieves her vehicle, Brett hears a thump in the trunk. When she opens it inside is a dead Dean Martin actor. Underneath the human corpse is the remains of a rat. The victim is Ray Lucci who worked at the chapel where Sylvia and Bernie got married. Around his neck is a clip cord missing from a room of one at Brett’s tattoo artists. Additionally the honeymooners are missing and not on their honeymoon. Brett and Sylvia’s son Jeff investigate as she feels violated and both worry that the newlyweds and all the Martin impersonators may be in danger, but the scenario escalates dangerously when another person is killed.

Driven to Ink is a delightful amateur sleuth mystery that focuses on a Vegas that tourists rarely visit. Readers see Sin City through the eyes of residents who know what lies beneath the glitter and glamour of the Strip. This is a multilayered plot with so many twists that the audience will struggle with who the killer is nothe motive. Karen E. Olson provides a refreshing mystery with a touch of whimsy as readers shout: will the real Dean Martin please stand up.

Harriet Klausner

Wicked Witch Murder-Leslie Meier

Wicked Witch Murder
Leslie Meier
Kensington, Aug 31 2010, $24.00
ISBN 9780758229298

In Tinker's Grove, Maine, with her cat familiar Piewocketat her side, Wiccan storeowner of the charming shop Solstice, Lady Diana Ravenscroft, high priestess of the Silver Coven, sends a warning to Pennysaver reporter Lucy Stone to expect danger. Lucy thinks nothing of the reading as she is used to being in danger.

Lucy is walking her dog Libby when they come across a burned body in the woods. She learns later the victim is identified as the magician Malcolm Malebranche, a member of the Silver Coven. Diana is stunned as her associate was supposed to be in England not New England. Meanwhile Lucy's teenage daughters Sara and Zoe and their neighbors’ daughter Abby Stoughton find Lady Diana enchanting. When Abbey’s ailing mother dies, her grieving father Ike, a religious fanatic, holds Diana culpable. When Abby becomes very ill, Ike goes berserk with his accusations as Lucy tries to find out what is going on before the teen succumbs like her mom did.

The latest Lucy Stone investigative journalist cozy (see Valentine Murder and Mother's Day Murder) is a terrific entry as deaths seem to converge on Lady Diana. The story line is fast-paced as Lucy follows the clues but struggles to connect the two deaths though Ike swears Lady Diana is a killer. With a neat lat spin, Wicked Witch Murder is a charming New Age murder mystery.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Tale of Oat Cake Crag-Susan Wittig Albert

The Tale of Oat Cake Crag
Susan Wittig Albert
Berkley, Sep 7 2010, $23.95
ISBN 9780425236611

Beatrix Potter continues to rusticate at Hill Top Farm in the Lake District in order to avoid her snooty upper class parents. She knows they will denigrate her fiancé and scornfully disapprove her engagement to solicitor Will Heelis that she has concealed from them. Beatrix learned her lesson when she became engaged to her editor Norman Warne six years ago only to face a barrage of criticism; she believes that they rejoiced when Normand passed away prior to their marriage.

Beatrix and the local birds and animals are irritated with the noise making new gizmo, a flying floating aeroplane that sputters with a racket more than it soar over Lake Windemere; even the loud teen dragon finds the plane disconcerting. Meanwhile at Oat Cake Crag, Rascal the Jack Russell takes her to injured plane designer Fred L. Baum.

The latest Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter (see The Tale of Applebeck Orchard and The Tale of Briar Bank) is an entertaining whimsical entry that once again captures the essence of the author and more pointedly her tales. The mystery remains in the backseat to Ms. Potter’s lifestyle in the Lake District and her relationships with humans especially a touch of romance with Will and the animals. Fans will enjoy her escapades as The Tale of Oat Oak Crag is a charming cottage cozy.

Harriet Klausner

Book of Nathan-Curt Weeden and Richard Marek

Book of Nathan
Curt Weeden and Richard Marek
Oceanview, Aug 2 2010, $25.95
ISBN: 9781933515915

Former advertising executive Rick Bullock runs a homeless shelter in New Brunswick, New Jersey. His late wife who succumbed to cancer had a passion to help the homeless and now he does. He is taken aback when the police arrest someone he knows former East Jersey State prisoner and a frequent guest of Rick’s facility, Zeus for the murder of a famous televangelist in Florida. Bullock refuses to believe that Zeus who would not hurt a fly killed anyone especially this gruesome homicide.

Bullock heads to Florida to determine what he can do. He is taken aback further when his amateur inquiry leads to a lost book of the Bible that contains a definitive answer to a disturbing question and the evidence that his friend is innocent. However, someone does not want the out of state person intruding on a slam dunk case and that unknown adversary is willing to kill to achieve Zeus’ conviction.

Filled with numerous surprising spins, the Book of Nathan is an enjoyable incredibly fast-paced mystery as Rick’s discovery of a manuscript has the mob, pro-lifers, pro-choicers and others demanding he hand over his find or else. Over the top of High Point, readers who appreciate a twisting story line faster than a speeding bullet and will want to join Rick on his odyssey.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Buzz Off-Hannah Reed

Buzz Off
Hannah Reed
Berkley, Sep 7 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425236420

In Moraine, Wisconsin Story Fischer feels pretty good that her divorce from her cheating husband Clay is finalized. The owner of the Wild Clover grocery, she celebrates her new single life sharing champagne with her customers and a special one day sale of all goods. However, her idyllic day ends when her beekeeping mentor Manny Chapman, owner of the Queen bee Honey, dies from a swarm of yellow jackets.

The townsfolk and Manny’s wife Grace assume his honey bees killed him. They want his bees and that of Story’s out of the county before someone else is hurt. Story refuses as she wants to go into the homey making business. Grace sells Manny’s hive to Gerald Smith who is nowhere to be found. Hunter Wallace, who is interested in Story, accompanies her on a ride looking for her raft. When she looks inside she sees the murdered body of her former husband’s girlfriend. Clay is arrested, but Story believes the rat is not a killer and the two deaths are linked. Searching for Manny’s hives, Story begins to put the puzzle together while the killer watches her do so waiting for the right moment to strike again.

Buzz Off is a sparkling debut that enables the reader to see the down side of small town living when something bad happens as the insular population reacts in what seems a genuine cause and effect. Story is spunky as she tries new things especially to earn a better lifestyle yet careful not to alienate her eccentric neighbors. Readers will enjoy a taste of honey as Hannah Reed provides a delicious amateur sleuth mystery.

Harriet Klausner

Deadly Daggers-Joyce and Jim Lavene

Deadly Daggers
Joyce and Jim Lavene
Berkley, Sep 7 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425236444

During the school year, Jessie Morton is an associate professor of history at the University of South Carolina also working on her dissertation. In the summer, she is part of the Renaissance Faire Village as an apprentice to different craft artisans. This year she works under the tutelage of Master Armorer Daisy Reynolds.

Everyone connected to the Faire knows of Alistair the Great swordsman. Daisy, a hefty woman, is supposed to battle Alistair and lose, but she goes all out as she was attracted to him twenty years ago and when she tried again this year he dumped her just like before. . When they put on their sword fight, she creams him. The next time Alistair is seen, he is dead with a sword thrust through his chest. Daisy is the initial prime suspect, but attention soon turns elsewhere. In between her apprentice job and time with her lover the bailiff Chase Manhattan, she searches for Alistair’s missing sword as Jessie seeks who would have a motive to murder the legendary Faire swordsman.

The Lavene duet can always be counted on for an enjoyable whodunit as shown by the latest Renaissance Faire mystery and the previous two entries (See Wicked Weaves and Ghastly Glass). The Faire is a community with societal rules and culture populated by eccentrics who prefer to reside with the traveling troupe year round. That is what makes it difficult for “snowbirds” to participate. Jessie proves herself so is one of the few received openly though she knows she is not Peter Pan as Wendy grew up. The amateur sleuth is cleverly woven so that suspects seem everywhere once the story line spins from just Daisy as the killer. Filled with twists and red herrings, Deadly Daggers is a delightful mystery.

Harriet Klausner

Murder on Elbrus-Charles G. Irion and Ronald J. Watkins

Murder on Elbrus
Charles G. Irion and Ronald J. Watkins
Irion Books May 2010, $19.95
ISBN: 9780984161829

Following the Murder on Mt. Everest fiasco, renowned mountain climber Scott Devlon still remains mentally shook though physically somewhat recovered. However, he knows the criticality of getting back to work so he agrees to observe a European Union conference in Kislovodsk in Southern Russia near the continent’s highest elevation the twin peaks of Mt. Elbrus to discuss refugees caused by the dispute with Georgia.

However, the conference takes an ugly spin when the First Deputy Prime Minister of Russia Ivanov Livachev is murdered on Elbrus. Russian security chief at the conference immediately suspects Devlon who was with the victim. Everyone else, including the not so camouflaged American spies, supports the assertion. With Natasha and an international crew of strange bedfellows, Scott flees across the Caucasus in Chechnya with the Russians in pursuit as he seeks to expedite himself from what is an iron clad case against him.

The latest Summit Murder Mystery is a terrific tale as readers obtain a sense of elevated geography for instance how one reaches the summit of Elbrus inside a whodunit with espionage and international geopolitical issues enhancing the thriller. Scott is at his best rushing across vividly described war ravaged Chechnya as he has not fully recovered form the ordeal at the top of the world, but now needs to extract himself from a new dangerous situation in which he unsure who to trust. This is another majestic mountain climbing murder mystery.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Black Magic-Cherry Adair

Black Magic
Cherry Adair
Pocket, Jul 20 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9781439153819

In Western Australia wizard-geologist Jackson Slater is doing field work. His former fiancée wizard Sara Temple is in San Cristobel, Venezuela working on a luxurious hotel deal when the illness struck turning good well balanced people into homicidal psychopaths. When her mentor whom she considers her father since her parents died becomes ill, a panicked Sara instinctively shouts telepathically to the only man she ever loved for help. Jack still loves Sara and hears her cry and teleports to her side instantly as if he is one of Pavlov’s dogs.

Based on the mounting evidence, the Wizard Council fears the serpentine Omnivatics are siphoning off the life-force and power of wizards. They also believe the pairing of Jack and Sara is the only hope to prevent the malevolence from returning to take over the world in their evil way. The chosen duo believes they are a poor matching, but agree to work together to save the world; perhaps as a by-product they can save their relationship too.

This is an exhilarating second chance romantic urban fantasy in which the paranormal elements of wizardry and the Omnivatics seem genuine. The lead couple is a wonderful pairing of two people in love, but with polar opposite beliefs when it comes to magic as she never moved pass the death of her parents so she stopped being a practitioner; they are not a yin and yang fit, but together in unity prove that in their case their love makes for an inequality as 1 + 1 > 2. Like she did with her Night T-FLAC trilogy, Cherry Adair provides an engaging thriller starring two wizards in love; this time trying to save the world.

Harriet Klausner

The Cold Kiss-John Rector

The Cold Kiss
John Rector
Forge, Jul 6 2010, $24.99
ISBN: 9780765326430

Nate and his pregnant fiancée Sara are driving from Minnesota to Reno, Nevada to get married. . In Nebraska, as snow begins, they pull off the highway into the Red Oak Tavern. There they hear a man coughing badly that reminds Sara of her grandfather who had a similar sounding cough just before he died. Sara sympathizes with the sick person Syl White, who is coughing up blood and has car trouble. She convinces Nate to give Syl a ride, but the man is bellicose towards his Good Samaritan refusing the ride at first. Seeing the snow piling up, Syl changes his mind and gives them five hundred to take him to Omaha.

A blizzard forces the couple and their ailing passenger to pull over at an isolated motel. Both are stunned and appalled to realize Syl died in their back seat. The engaged couple is even more shocked to find the deceased carried nearly one million dollars. They agree to take the loot, but must dispose of the corpse. The plan is simple toss Syl into the large snow drifts. Neither Nate nor Sara realize how much danger they wrought on to themselves when they chose to take the cash.

This is an exhilarating Noir thriller as the young lead couple learns life lessons about values such as avariciousness that makes them lose sight of why they offered a ride to Syl in the first place. The story line is fast-paced from the moment a coughing blood Syl tells Nate to tell his do-gooder girlfriend to F off and never slows down until the final roll of the ball kissing the roulette wheel. Fans will enjoy John Rector’s fast-paced tale as some nasties go after the innocent lost sheep who have lost their way once dollar signs replaced hearts entirely.

Harriet Klausner

The Language of Trees-Ilie Ruby

The Language of Trees
Ilie Ruby
Avon, Jul 20 2010, $14.99
ISBN: 9780061898648

In 1988, the three preadolescent Ellis siblings (Melanie, Maya and Luke) steal a canoe and row on Canandaigua Lake to Squaw Island while it is storming. However, their trek goes wrong ending with eight years old Maya accusing her older sister for the disappearance of their younger brother.

After being away for about a year, in 2000, Echo O'Connell comes home to Canandaigua to take care of her ailing dad. Her former childhood lover, Grant Shongo, once a healer with Seneca bloodlines, left Rochester to hide in his family’s remote cabin still stunned that his wife Susanna left him. At the cabin, the spirit of Luke pleads with him to uncover the truth as to what happened over a decade ago as the ghost worries about his sister vanishing leaving behind her baby. Grant finds a reason to go on and soon a second one when he and Echo meet.

This is an entertaining regional paranormal mystery as the strong key cast has failed to move on pass respective tragedies. The story line affirms that forgiving (one’s self) is a critical early stage in healing regardless of their personal belief system although the plot uses that of the Seneca people. What happened then and happening now are kept somewhat thin as the fully developed characters with their motivations and values (negative as well as positive) are the focus of the mystical The Language of the Trees.

Harriet Klausner

Angel Interrupted-Chaz McGee

Angel Interrupted
Chaz McGee
Berkley, Sep 7 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425233146

In life, Kevin Fahey was a lousy father, a miserable husband, and a bottom feeder detective; who was drunk more often than he was sober. In death, he remains stuck on the mortal plane seeking redemption. He believes he needs to make reparations because of all those he harmed when he was alive. He follows the activities of his replacement highly regarded Detective Maggie Gunn.

Currently Maggie is bogged down with two complicated cases that each needs her full attention. A female corpse is found in her home; dead by a gunshot made to look like a suicide, but Maggie realizes a murder occurred. Across the street is a park and while all attention is inside the victim’s home, someone abducts a child there. Fahey knows where the kidnapped child is being held and that the lad is safe for the moment. He needs to find a way to inform Maggie, but has limited ability to communicate with her. If he succeeds he knows that she will conclude that the homicide and the kidnapping are linked.

This is a great paranormal police procedural that focuses on two violent crimes, a dedicated but lonely cop working both and a ghost who fights evil anyway he can as he has a personal objective. Heart wrenching yet also heartwarming, Angel Interrupted is fast-paced with terrific twists the reader never expects yet afterward will feel Chaz McGee is on target as the paranormal adds the nice extra touch to an entertaining whodunit.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Paramour’s Daughter-Wendy Hornsby

The Paramour’s Daughter
Wendy Hornsby
Perseverance, Sep 9 2010, $14.95
ISBN: 9781564744968

Independent film producer Maggie MacGowan is in the parking lot about to go shopping when she is accosted by a strange well dressed woman who insists she knows her. Nervous, Maggie asks store security to get the stranger to leave her alone. That same night the woman is run over twice by the same car. Maggie identifies the body as the person who disturbed her earlier in the day. Her mother informs Maggie the deceased is Isabelle Martin.

Her mom also tells Maggie the woman was her biological mother who her father had an affair with and eventually gained custody of the baby as Isabelle abandoned her. Maggie wants to meet her extended biological family residing in France. However, she is ignorant that at least one of them will do anything to keep the inheritance from shifting to the American. Someone does not want that to happen and attempts to kill Maggie as that individual used hit men to murder Isabelle

The Paramour’s Daughter plays out on two interwoven threads: that of a whodunit and a woman seeking her biological roots in France where she is unwelcome as the “Ugly American” trying to steal “their” fortune. Maggie may mourn the loss of someone she never knew, but also is interested in a French diplomat, which adds sizzle to the Family Plot of homicide attempts. Wendy Hornsby provides a terrific tale starring a likable person.

Harriet Klausner