Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Delta Solution-Patrick Robinson

The Delta Solution
Patrick Robinson
Perseus/Vanguard, May 3 2011, $25.99
ISBN 9781593156473

Mohammed "the Godfather of the Dark Continent" Salat provides the funding and orders to the Somali Marines. This group of pirates is extremely well trained and equipped to achieve their mission of capturing tankers and cargo ships off the Somali coast.

Salat sends his brigands to capture the American freighter Niagara Falls whose $100 million dollar cargo belongs to the United States Agency for Internationals Development. Refusing to pay the $10 million dollar ransom demands, the American government assigns Commander Mackenzie "Mack" Bedford to lead a newly activated SEALs team Delta Platoon. Their current mission is to mount sea rescues and end the Somali Marines’ piracy by assaulting their headquarters in Haradheere, Somalia.

The keys to this timely engaging thriller are that the SEALs receive focused training and the Somali Marines are a very capable organized unit. Once the cast is set and the team ready to invade, The Delta Solution goes into hyperspeed as Mack and his elite team assault the impenetrable base of the Somali marines knowing the likelihood that many SEALs will not come home even in body bags and the collateral damage is a certainty. Less action than Mack’s previous adventures (see Intercept and Diamondhead), The Delta Solution is a more complete thriller as the audience observes two highly trained and effective units prepare for a showdown in the Indian Ocean.

Harriet Klausner

The Phoenix Apostles-Lynn Sholes and Joe Moore

The Phoenix Apostles
Lynn Sholes and Joe Moore
Midnight Ink, Jun 8 2011, $15.95
ISBN: 9780738726663

In 2012 at The Reliquary in Mexico City, as he studies the video feed of the tomb University of Miami archaeologist Mesoamerican Professor Daniel Bernal tells his fiancée Planet Discovery magazine writer Seneca Hunt something is wrong about what they have found as Montezuma’s remains are missing. However, his muses are interrupted with an explosion. All at the excavation are dead except Seneca.

Mexican official believe a terrorist attack occurred, but a grieving angry Seneca believes there is more to it. She begins a hunt for the killers of her beloved starting with Carolos the technician assistant who left just before the blast. Seneca learns that other ancient tombs around the world are being invaded, but whereas the remains of history’s murderous infamy are taken other valuable artifacts are left behind. When she meets author Matt Everhart who is also following the story, they team up on a trail that leads back two millennia ago in Judea with a modern day scheme that will annihilate millions.

Although Cotton Stone takes a respite, the same frantic pace, starting with the deadly explosion, and never slowing down grips the audience with the first Seneca Hunter thriller with historical and religious underpinnings. Seneca is a wonderful fully developed lead character who holds the fast-paced exciting story line together. With a cautionary underlying message of keep the faith as science and technology are important but need ethical boundaries, fans will relish Seneca’s Hunt for the truth.

Harriet Klausner

A Time for Patriots-Dale Brown

A Time for Patriots
Dale Brown
Morrow, May 10 2011, $26.99
ISBN: 9780061989995

The financial industry collapses taking down the stock markets with it. The American economy is in free-fall. Newly elected President Phoenix and the Congress radically slash the federal government spending and reduce tax rates to their lowest in decades as they heed what happened to those in the last TARP intervention; safety networks are slashed with the massive reductions. Three types of groups emerge: local vigilante protecting small pockets of people loosely aligned with The Civil Air patrol; murderous terrorist cells; and stragglers with no camp available.

The Knights of the True Republic ambush an FBI unit protecting radioactive substances. They kill the agents and steal the dangerous material planning to launch a dirty bomb on the federal building in Reno. The Civil Air Patrol’s Nevada Wing led by retired Air Force Lieutenant-General Patrick McLanahan hunt the Knights hoping to prevent the destruction of Reno.

Fans will welcome the exciting return of not by the book McLanahan (see Executive Intent) though he plays the same shallow character he has been in the numerous tales when he was active duty and retired. This time he is accompanied by his equally underdeveloped teenage son who joins him in doing it the McLanahan way or no way as this pair is caffeine coffee drinking Cessna pilots. Extremely fast-paced with a powerful premise of what the impact of sudden massive cuts in spending and revenues mean, readers will enjoy father and son as they team up to try to save Nevada from the terrorist Knights.

Harriet Klausner

The Jefferson Key-Steve Berry

The Jefferson Key
Steve Berry
Ballantine, May 17 2011, $26.00
ISBN: 9780345505514

Stephanie Nelle leaves a mysterious message for former Justice Department field operative Cotton Malone to meet her in New York immediately. Not one to ignore a summons from his former boss, Malone and his beloved Cassiopeia Vitt shut down their Copenhagen book store to fly to the States.

In Manhattan, Malone observes an assassination attempt on President Danny Daniels, but intercedes this saving the life of POTUS. However, the Secret Service assumes he is the assassin and attacks him. He soon finds himself in further danger from the Commonwealth Society who has enforced Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution several times with four of them successful in 1865, 1881, 1901 and 1963. Malone learns of a Jeffersonian cipher deployed by Jackson after a failed assault but unused since. Meanwhile he and Vitt struggle to survive as Commonwealth Quartermaster Clifford Knox stalks them. The fugitive pair finds historical evidence of the intent of the Founding Fathers in ratifying that particular clause as the runaways are considered the traitors and the Commonwealth has the highest law in the land behind them.

This is a brilliant exhilarating thriller that uses the Constitution and American history to frame a great tale that will have readers hooked throughout. After spending time overseas (see The Paris Vendetta and The Emperor's Tomb), Malone comes home only to be caught in the crosshairs of a secret powerful group applying Article 1 Section 8: “The Congress shall have the Power to … grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules on concerning Captures on Land and Water”. Filled with stunning spins to American history, fast-paced from the opening 1835 Jackson assassination attempt to the final denouement, The Jefferson Key will be on the short list for best thriller of the year.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, April 29, 2011

Murder She Wrote: Skating on Thin Ice-Jessica Fletcher and Donald Bain

Murder She Wrote: Skating on Thin Ice
Jessica Fletcher and Donald Bain
Obsidian, Apr 5 2011, $22.95
ISBN: 9780451232342

In Cabot Cove, Maine, Olympic Gold medalist Bruce Devlin trains promising figure skating pair Christine Allen and Russian Alexei Olshansky. Christine does not like either male as her coach is a demanding perfectionist who rejects anything less than the best; her pompous partner believes he is Russia’s gift to the American female population. Still at the Cabot Cove Ice Arena she endures both as they are her platform to success in skating pair competition.

However, accidents begin to occur with a frequency that makes local Dr. Seth Hazlitt feel they are deliberate. Soon afterward Alexei is murdered and another skater Jeremy is hammered into a coma. Sheriff Mort Metzger and novelist Jessica Fletcher investigate Skating on Thin Ice.

After the mostly recent road tour (see A Slaying in Savannah, Madison Avenue Shoot, Queen Jewels and Nashville Noir), Jessica returns home to Cabot Cove where she investigates the Alexei homicide and related felonies. Her being back in Maine is a two edged sword as that locale has been the prime place for the myriad of books and the TV series, but also brings a deja vu feel to the plot. Still this is an engaging whodunit in which readers will never look at a Zamboni in the same way.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Two Deaths of Daniel Hayes-Marcus Sakey

The Two Deaths of Daniel Hayes
Marcus Sakey
Dutton, Jun 9 2011, $25.95
ISBN: 9780525952114

He awakens on a beach with no one around wearing no clothing. The man realizes he has no idea who he is though he knows he nearly drowned. Nearby he finds a car. Inside is a California license for a Daniel Hayes with his picture on it. He wonders how he who apparently lives in Los Angeles ended up in coastal Maine.

Daniel knows the truth lies in Southern California though he feels a niggling of remorse that he cannot fathom why. He heads across the continent as glimpses of his pre-amnesia life flash by in his mind. Soon Daniel learns he is a screenwriter whose TV star soap opera wife died in a vehicular homicide. The cops believe he killed his spouse while someone is stalking him.

This dark thriller grips the reader from the moment the amnesia victim awakens on a deserted New England beach and never slows down until the final exhilarating climax. Daniel is terrific as he evades police and a hunter while trying to rewire his brain as the replay button is too slowly coming into focus. Set aside time, readers will find it difficult to put aside The Two Deaths of Daniel Hayes as Marcus Sakey provides a fresh exhilarating spin to the amnesiac in peril theme.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


Kristen Heitzmann
WaterBrook, May 3 2011, $13.99
ISBN: 9781400073108

In Redford, Colorado high country outfitter Trevor McDaniel rescues two year old Cody from a yearling mountain lion cub. Cody’s father Aaron plays for the Rockies while his mother Paige hates the family freak, the toddler’s grateful Aunt Natalie Reeves is a sculptor. Natalie and Trevor (and his partner Paul) meet at her gallery where she offers a thank you sculpture to the men. She and Trevor are attracted to one another.

An unknown person begins sending Trevor photos of children in danger. He becomes concerned that his maniacal secret admirer may harm Natalie as he does not conceal how much she means to him. With Redford Police Chief Jonah Westfall at his side, Trevor tries to track down the psychopath who targets the helpless.

The return to Redford (see Indivisible) is a terrific tale of two flawed people who turns potential weaknesses into strengths. Due to a tragedy Trevor turned his grief into a search and rescue volunteer while Natalie has a disability that she has used to become a talented sculptor. Although the villain’s motive is presented somewhat late, fans will relish the coupling of two people who see the fortitude and courage in their beloved.

Harriet Klausner

A Conflict of Interest-Adam Mitzner

A Conflict of Interest
Adam Mitzner
Gallery, May 17 2011, $25.00
ISBN: 9781439157510

In New York, thirtyish criminal defense lawyer Alex Miller works long hours but feels it is worth the reward. He is the Cromwell Altman’s youngest partner, has a beloved wife Elizabeth who understands his hours and a beautiful daughter who he adores.

At his father’s funeral in Florida, Alex meets the family friend legendary Michael Ohlig. The affluent Ohlig retains Alex as his firm’s attorney. The client explains that his boutique brokerage firm is accused of selling worthless stock in a startup company that Ohlig allegedly knew would fail. Although the evidence says otherwise, Alex believes Michael is innocent so he throws even more time into the defense as Elizabeth becomes irritated with his fully ignoring their child and her while spending all his time with beautiful senior associate, Abby Sloane.

This is a powerful character driven thriller as Alex ignores A Conflict of Interests that he acknowledges may taint his belief in Michael’s innocence, but obsessively needs to know the truth about his family. The story line is fast-paced with a profound focus on Michael’s prime relationships with his wife and their daughter, his parents, his client, his associate, and the firm. With stunning twists Adam Mitzner provides an exciting legal thriller with a close in person look at a fixated attorney.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Purgatory Chasm-Steve Ulfelder

Purgatory Chasm
Steve Ulfelder
Minotaur, May 10, $23.99
ISBN: 9780312672928

In Framingham, Massachusetts auto mechanic Conway Sax detests insufferable Tander Phigg, but the man belongs to the Alcoholics Anonymous Barnburner group. The Barnburners saved his life by sobering him up so Conway vowed to repay them whenever he can.

Thus when the pig Phigg asks Conway to retrieve his 1980 Mercedes from New Hampshire Das Motorenwerk garage that has possessed his vintage auto for eighteen months, Sax reluctantly agrees. However, the seemingly simple request turns convoluted when someone at the garage knocks him out and later he learns someone killed Tander. The police suspect Sax of the murder as he is an ex con who has been fingered for being the last person seen with the deceased. Conway has two missions to resolve: first prove his innocence and second get the vehicle.

Loaded with twists and spins, Purgatory Chasm is an exciting action-packed amateur sleuth mystery starring a fascinating flawed individual. Conway makes the tale work as a person in trouble who investigates the murder while also planning to repo the car. His past is nicely interwoven into the strong plot so that readers understand why he feels obligated to the Barnburner group.

Harriet Klausner

Felicity's Gate-Julian Cole

Felicity's Gate
Julian Cole
Minotaur, May 10 2011
ISBN: 9780312585921

An unknown culprit kills artist Jane Wragge with a juicer in her home near York Cemetery. York Police Chief Inspector Sam Rounder, who has a weight problem that does not limit him from doing field work, leads the homicide investigation. The victim’s lover Moses Mundy has vanished so instead of just being a person of interest, he is the prime suspect.

Moses hires Sam’s brother Rick a private investigator to look into the violent associates from his past who he believes killed Jane. Rick conceals his client from his sibling while Sam, estranged from his wife, begins to fall in love with Jane after reading her diary that he hid from his investigative team.

With a nod to the Preminger movie Laura, Felicity’s Gate is a fantastic whodunit that has the reader wondering what is going to happen next. Fast-paced, the siblings separately investigate the murder of Jane Wragge in which Rick looks at his client’s previous associates while Sam depends on the dead woman’s diary for clues. The climax is plausible and in fairness well done, but the end is not quite as powerful as the two paths getting there. Still readers will toast the Rounder brothers and want more of their cases from Julian Cole (see The Amateur Historian).

Harriet Klausner

Monday, April 25, 2011

Mystery Writers of American presents the Rich and the Dead

Mystery Writers of American presents the Rich and the Dead
Edited by Nelson DeMille
Grand Central, May 2 2011, $24.99
ISBN: 9780446555876

The premise of this anthology is that the ultra Rich can obtain anything they want but also can be the target of others who envy their affluence. The all new twenty contributions are well written and though adhere to the general theme provide a wide diversity. Harry Bosch stars in Michael Connelly's terrific "Blood Washes Off while Connecticut widower Detective Meigs visits vacationing in dreaded Key West in Roberta Isleib's "The Itinerary”. Cholly the odious poison pen columnist learns what being a victim is in Ted Bell’s “The Pirate of Palm Beach”. Trip sees Dizz but this is no high school reunion in the “Precipice” by Daniel J. Hale and Frank Cook's "The Gift" will remind readers of O’Henry. The strong collection closes with a wonderful tale starring the queen of Greenwich Village, “Daphne, Unrequited” and her former husband (written by Angela Zeman). With writers like Harley Jane Kozak, Lee Child and S.J. Rozan, readers will enjoy this fine compilation by the MWA.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Bee Balm Murders-Cynthia Riggs

The Bee Balm Murders
Cynthia Riggs
Minotaur, Apr 26 2011, $24.99
ISBN: 9780312581794

Martha’s Vineyard beekeeper Sean McBride suggests to entrepreneur Orion Nanopoulos he rent a room from the former’s boss nonagenarian Victoria Trumbull. Orion, who heads a fiber optic cable project, takes an attic room on Victoria’s West Tisbury home.

A corpse is found where Orion’s crew is laying down the cable. When a body is found in the trench where they are laying the cable; Orion recognizes the victim as Brooklyn construction mogul and project investor Angelo Vulpone. The deceased’s family, learning that Victoria has a reputation for solving mysteries, hires the feisty senior citizen to investigate Angelo’s murder. She begins her inquiry quickly learning a lot of people could make a lot of money with Vulpone dead.

This is a terrific whodunit especially when the action is on Martha’s Vineyard, as the dynamic Victoria does her thing while providing readers with a charming tour of the island. Part of the fun is watching the money investment crowd go in for the kill when Orion loses his prime backer as this group has no respect for the dead. With nine previous cases solved by marvelous Martha (see Touch-Me-Not), she has proven to be a super professional sleuth.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Wreckage-Michael Robotham

The Wreckage
Michael Robotham
Little, Brown, Jun 16 2011, $24.99
ISBN: 9780316126403

Foreign correspondent Luca Terracini knows the rules of survivability in a war zone; recently affirmed by the bombing of the chain hotels in Baghdad. He gets around the country without being imbedded due to his being an Iraqi-American and having a terrific local entourage starting with his driver Jamal. However, he has broken his prime rule of cowardice ever since his Nicola died in a suicide bombing.

Currently Luca is investigating the bank bombings with the eighteenth for the year being the Zewiya Branch of Al Rafadain Bank. His theory is these incidents are thefts on a massive scale rather than terrorism or insurgency. As Luca follows the money trail, he encounters UN representative Daniela Garner, who apparently is the expert on the bank robberies. Her appearance affirms his belief about the robberies.

At the same time in London, international banker Richard North disappears. Governments, mobsters, and financial institutions employ the best to locate him. The North incident ties back to an amazed Luca who is thrown out of Iraq by Iraqis who he believes were pressured by American authorities; apparently the west wants the missing money to remain secret.

Based on real bank robberies in Iraq, the IG report of nine billion dollars in Reconstruction money unaccounted for and a UN chief claiming drug money saved the finance industry during the recent meltdown; The Wreckage is an exhilarating financial thriller. The story line is fast-paced as the hero follows the money in which Baghdad, London and several other finance centers connect. Readers will relish this solid tale while wondering about the underlying plausibility as this cannot have happened yet facts are stranger than fiction.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Illusion of Murder-Carol McCleary

The Illusion of Murder
Carol McCleary
Forge, Apr 12 2011, $24.99
ISBN: 9780765322043

In 1889, Nellie Bly begins her quest circumnavigate the world in under eighty days. Two weeks into her quest, Bly is in Port Said, Egypt where she witnesses a homicide. Before the victim dies, he talks briefly to Bly.

She wonders if the deceased was English as she sets out to leave Egypt. Bly and her mostly British retinue continue the trek into Asia, but more murders follow. She begins to wonder if her aristocratic companions are the cause for the rash of homicides that plague her expedition and decides to use her journalist investigative skills to solve the murders.

Based on Nellie Bly’s true account of her Around the World in 72 Days, The Illusion of Murder is a terrific thriller as the intrepid journalist uses her investigative skills to try to solve homicides plaguing the adventure. Nellie makes her second historical whodunit (see The Alchemy of Murder) work. The sleuth reporter is brave but not a modern day super female warrior as part of her psyche remains anchored in the Victorian age. Readers will enjoy traveling the globe with Nellie as she ends up in one hot pot of stew after another while trying to break Phineas Fogg’s record as recorded by Jules Verne.

Harriet Klausner

Royal Pains, First Do No Harm-D.P. Lyle

Royal Pains, First Do No Harm
D.P. Lyle
Obsidian, Jun 7 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780451234148

Dr. Hank Lawson worked in a major New York City hospital. Two severely ill patients arrived at the same time; he immediately treated the sicker person. That man survived, but he was unable to tend to the other person in time. Hank was fired and blackballed because the man who died was wealthy and a contributor to the hospital. Although Hank no longer could obtain a hospital position, he kept his medical license.

Dr. Lawson became a concierge doctor to the rich in the Hamptons. He makes house calls, holds their hands, and provides service like the old general physician of years ago. One of his favorite patients is Eleanor Parker Wentworth who is a down to earth person. She is giving her granddaughter Nicole an extravagant wedding. Dr. Lawson learns Nicole suffers from fugue incidents when she disappears and does not know where she is at. Hank locates her, but she has no idea who she is. Her blood contains a dangerous mix of chemicals, but she swears she only takes vitamins. Other patients show the same symptoms. They share one thing in common, but to prove it before someone dies makes Dr. Lawson go out on the limb again; his brother Evan, his girlfriend Jill and his P.A. Dixie has his back.

Hank remains hurt that he cannot practice the medicine he loves though his patients adore and respect him. Readers will admire and like him as he seems like a Dr. Welby with flaws including irritability. He is all heart as he cares about his patients, his and their families and his staff. Like Lee Goldberg, D.P. Lyle writes novels with TV tie-ins that are fun to read.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Devil's Light-Richard North Patterson

The Devil's Light
Richard North Patterson
Scribner, May 3 2011, $26.00
ISBN: 9781451616804

Al Qaeda key terrorist leader, Al Zaroor plans destruction for 9/11/11 that will make the original 9/11 appears like a minor event. He needs a nuclear device, but Al Zaroor knows nuclear bombs left stationary are protected but those moved for purposes of the regional cold war with India is accessible for stealing. He arranges for an incident to heat up the always simmering conflict between Pakistan and India, and has a bomb hijacked while in transit.

Bin Laden announces to the world his team has the bomb and will use it on an American city to commemorate the tenth anniversary. While Pakistan denies the loss of a WMD, the CIA, HSD, and DOD take the terrorist at his word and try to protect America. However, CIA field operative Brooke Chandler thinks it is a hoax as he believes the target is Tel Aviv with the goal being America (and the Israelis) reacting like it did to 9/11/01 by attacking a nation; this time Iran. Chandler fails to sell his argument so he lines up his retired former boss Carter Grey to prevent 9/11 all over again.

This tense thriller makes a powerful plausible argument that history repeats the same mistakes, but worsened by stronger weapons. The gripping story line is at its best with the set up of the brilliant credible terrorist plot that extrapolates from the real world such as America’s ports not very secure. The tension is somewhat deflated when the plot turns to the two Americans trying to thwart the scheme as that follows a pre-ordained path though exciting. Still this poignant tale grips the reader from story to finish with a reasonable premise of what Al Qaeda plans to celebrate their greatest triumph.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, April 18, 2011

Jericho Cay-Kathryn R. Wall

Jericho Cay
Kathryn R. Wall
Minotaur, Apr 26 2011, $24.99
ISBN: 9780312601850

In South Carolina just after Hurricane Kitty caused plenty of damage to the state, egomaniacal true crime author Winston Wolfe hires private investigator Bay Tanner to look into the two years old cold case involving the disappearance of reclusive millionaire Morgan Tyler Bell. Wolfe's theory is that Bell is alive and using the guise of his personal assistant Terry Gerard. The writer explains that Gerard vanished when Bell allegedly disappeared off Jericho Cay, a private island near Hilton Head.

Bay, her husband former deputy sheriff Red and Winston travel to Bell’s Jericho Cay. There apparently his Jamaican housekeeper Anjanette Freeman committed suicide just before her employer and his assistant vanished. Wolfe abandons Bay and Red on Jericho Cay, but he also disappears after making a strange call to her.

The latest Bay Tanner mystery (see Canaan's Gate) is a terrific twisting thriller that has the audience and the lead couple wondering what is going on and why. The super story line grips the reader with the need to know as Kathryn R. Wall provides a strong puzzler as nothing is quite like it seems. It feels like a chess game in which the Tanner pair has no idea who the grandmaster playing them is.

Harriet Klausner

Doc-Mary Doria Russell

Mary Doria Russell
Random House, May 3 2011, $26.00
ISBN: 9781400068043

In 1878 Dodge City, Kansas is a cow town where alcohol and hookers leave the young rustlers broke. Twenty something John Henry Holliday arrives from Atlanta to open up a dental practice. A Southern gentleman, he moved based on medical advice that a dry climate may abate somewhat the debilitating deadly impact of tuberculosis. Doc as he becomes known finds dental work not much of an income maker, but he proves talented at gambling. His live-in relationship with his intellectual equal Kate Harony is passionate as each loves music and the classics, but the hot-tempered Hungarian’s attempts to tame the Georgian has them brawling as much as loving.

When someone burns to death a mixed breed lad Johnny Sanders, lawmen Wyatt and Morgan Earp are outraged with the immoral murder. They vow to find the perpetrator and bring frontier justice to the culprit. Shockingly Doc feels morally obligated to assist the Earp brothers.

A few years before the famous gunfight at the OK Corral in Tombstone made them the models for future western frontier heroic stereotypes; Mary Doria Russell paints a vivid picture of the beginning of the friendship between Morgan the lawman and Doc the gambler. The characters make the historical biography story line fun to read as myth and fact blend into a deep portrait; though in many ways the key cast supersedes the murder plot. Readers will relish Doc as he and the Earp brothers become friends while seeking frontier justice for a half-breed.

Harriet Klausner

A Penny for Your Thoughts-Mindy Starns Clark

A Penny for Your Thoughts
Mindy Starns Clark
Harvest House, Apr 1 2011, $13.99
ISBN: 9780736929561

Tired J.O.S.H.U.A. Foundation attorney Callie Webber, after giving a $300,000 grant to Transition Resources, flies home from Chicago to DC. On the flight the widow calls her boss Tom the philanthropist whom she never met. After he lectures her for trading in her first class ticket for coach, Tom assigns her to travel to Philadelphia to give $250,000 to his family friend Wendell Smythe’s Feed the Need cause.

Callie arrives at Smythe’s office to deliver the cheek in person, but finds the recipient dead. She notifies a stunned Tom who asks her, as a former private detective, to investigate the murder. Callie moves into Smythe’s home to investigate his homicide; only to find the victim’s family uncooperative and she fears dangerous.

This is a terrific whodunit filled with twists and a hint of romance though Callie and Tom have never met in person. The story line is fast-paced from the first grant to the final denouement. Adding depth to the strong mystery is the thirtyish heroine, still grieving the loss of her spouse, her quiet faith in God and the profound look at not for profit groups that will have the audience ponder the ethics of the end justifies the mean.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Night on Fire-Douglas Corleone

Night on Fire
Douglas Corleone
Minotaur, May 3 2011, $24.99

In Ko Olina, Hawaii, former New York lawyer Kevin Corvelli is trying to snag a visiting “cougar” while he notices newlyweds having a heated fight at Kanaloa outdoor beach bar. A few hours after their public spat, a fire breaks out at the Lihliho Towers where the couple was staying; at least nine are dead in the inferno including the battling groom. Corvelli, the cougar and a four year old child he rescues escape the inferno.

Soon after the blaze, Honolulu police arrest the bride Erin Simms; charging her with murder and arson. Corvelli is retained to defend Erin. Besides the obvious overwhelming evidence, Corvelli discovers even stronger proof that his client is guilty. The defense attorney mounts a case to obtain a not guilty verdict while prosecutor Luke Maddox sees the case as a springboard to further his political ambitions so he applies dirty tactics to insure he obtains the conviction.

The second Corvelli legal thriller (see One Man's Paradise) is a great tale as the battle of wits and writs is in the courtroom. Corvelli does not perform field work trying to find the guilty party as he is a lawyer working to gain an acquittal only. The battles between Corvelli and Maddox are superb as this turns personal; while the hero’s fumbling big brother to the child he saved adds humor to a taut courtroom drama.

Harriet Klausner

Dire Threads-Janet Bolin

Dire Threads
Janet Bolin
Berkley, Jun 7 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425241899

Elderberry Bay, known as Threadville, is a small Pennsylvania town renowned for its textile arts boutiques. Kaylee found the place and her three moms followed with Batty About Quilts, Tell A Yarn, and Buttons and Bows. Willow Vanderling thought the locale was perfect for her new embroidery store In Stitches.

Although the townsfolk appreciate the revenue generated by the themed stores and considers the owners as part of the community, Zoning Commissioner Mike Krawbach detests the shops; at least apparently Willow’s. He rejects Willow’s request to renovate the Blueberry Cottage behind her store. She hoped to use the cottage as a means to earn extra money while he wants to replace it with an ATV track and public restrooms. When someone deliberately opens her gate and lets her dogs out, Willow concludes Mike did it as part of his harassment campaign to make her leave. She angrily shouts “I’ll kill him”. Soon afterward, Mike is found dead on her property. Already the sheriff’s prime suspect, evidence keeps popping up to further hang Willow. Concerned, Willow accompanied by Kaylee and the three other storeowners, begins an investigation that soon finds a myriad of people rejoicing that Mike is dead.

This is a charming cozy starring a likable lead protagonists supported by her storekeeping “sisters” and a vile villain who uses blackmail to get others to perform illegal acts for him. Kaylee and Willow are friends who have each other’s back while the three Moms allow her inside their close knit circle. Although the theme of an amateur sleuth investigating a crime in which she is the prime suspect is not new, sub-genre fans will enjoy this entertaining Threadville mystery.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Midwife’s Confession-Diane Chamberlain

The Midwife’s Confession
Diane Chamberlain
Mira, Apr 26 2011, $15.99
ISBN: 9780778329862

In Wilmington, North Carolina Tara, Emerson and Noelle have been BFFS for years. In fact Noelle the midwife helped her two buddies with the births of their children. She stopped midwifery last year to focus on the Babies program and seemed enthusiastic as she encouraged her buds and their teenage offspring to participate. So when Noelle, who appreciated living and inspired others to embrace life, commits suicide, Tara and Emerson are stunned especially when they read the strange unfinished confession.

Unable to cope with their friend's killing herself, the horrific confession, and the conclusion that they never knew the inner demons of their BFF, Tara and Emerson need to know the full truth. They begin a quest seeking the woman Noelle’s last letter was addressed to.

This is an intriguing look at the masks people wear to conceal traits, incidents or family they feel ashamed of from others. The three lead females and their families seem real as the viewpoints change especially between the BFF trio (flashbacks included). However, those changes in perspective add unnecessary confusion to a powerful twisting saga of why the midwife committed suicide.

Harriet Klausner

Outrage-Robert K. Tannenbaum

Robert K. Tannenbaum
Gallery, Jun 7 2011, $26.00
ISBN: 9781439149256

Last July, a serial killer murdered Olivia Yancy after raping and torturing her. This sexual sadistic predator also killed the victim’s mother Beth Jenkins. Felix Avecedo is a bit slow and will say anything necessary to end any pressure he feels from others. Detective Brock picks up Bronx teen Felix for questioning in another case; the rape, torture and murder of Ms. Adkins.

A teen assaulted by the Columbia University slasher identifies Felix as her attacker. Police officer Graziani hates working in the Bronx and wants to go back to his former Manhattan precinct, maneuvers Felix into confessing to the three killings. Felix’s friend Alex and his mother Amelia talk to the New York District Attorney Butch Karp’s wife Marlene Campi; they explain to her Felix’s handicap. Marlene believes NYPD coerced Felix into his confession. This means the real culprit remains free pouncing on his next victim. Her spouse also thinks Felix is innocent even as the media howls for execution. Butch knows he cannot afford a mistake as his wife follows clues to a psychopath, inadvertently protected by a cop who will do anything even kill to be the city’s hero.

Robert K. Tannenbaum writes a strong brisk police procedural with legal thriller elements. Readers will know the truth about Felix and empathize with his psychotic fear of someone pressuring and shouting at him that cripples him in this case into confessing when he knows he is not the culprit. There are life lessons that add an extra layer of complexity to this deep serial killer whodunit.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Dead by Morning-Beverly Barton

Dead by Morning
Beverly Barton
Zebra, May 1 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9781420110357

Powell Private Security and Investment Agency operative Maleah Purdue is a confident and dedicated employee. However, someone using a knife begins surgically killing people connected to Powell; four are dead already by this late night demon. The M.O. matches that of serial killer Jerome Browning, who is already locked behind bars at Georgia State Prison.

Maleah and Powell Security consultant former FBI profiler Derek Lawrence team up to try to stop a psychopath from committing more homicides of the firm’s employees and family. They visit the incarcerated serial killer being aped to learn what they can. Meanwhile the predator hones in on Maleah while Derek is perhaps the only hope of finding the motive and keeping her and others safe.

The second “Dead” thriller (see Dead by Midnight) is a great romantic suspense that grips the audience from the moment the protagonists begin to learn of the assault on Powell and never let’s go as the climax diabolically leads to the next unpublished tale. The lead pair is a terrific coupling of two skilled specialists who fall in love, but know ending the villain’s killings come before their needs. However, what makes Dead By Morning super is the serial killer, who will be considered one of the vilest of the year.

Harriet Klausner

Southern Comfort-Fern Michaels

Southern Comfort
Fern Michaels
Kensington, Apr 26 2011, $24.00
ISBN: 9780758227171

The crack head killed the family of Atlanta PD homicide detective Patrick “Tick” Kelly. Unable to cope with the deaths of the woman he was married to for fifteen years and knew since seventh grade, and that of their two children, Tick retires from the force and moves to Mango Key, Florida where he plans to write crime novels. Once he stops getting drunk, he becomes a successful author.

Kate Rush left DEA to return home to Miami. However, she cannot resist doing a surveillance of an alleged human trafficking ring in Mango Key. Kate and her female partner Sandy think Tick and his brother Pete are part of the operation, but quickly change their minds. As Kate and Tick fight their attraction, they team up to end the horrific selling of humans.

With a nicely interwoven romantic subplot, this is a timely action-packed police procedural that focuses on human trafficking. The lead couple and the support pair are fully developed protagonists who go from suspicion to partnering. Although the villain surfaces too late and from seemingly nowhere, Fern Michaels provides a deep spotlight on a horrific pandemic global atrocity.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Breaking Point-Pamela Clare

Breaking Point
Pamela Clare
Berkley, May 3 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425240519

Hurricane Katrina killed reporter Natalie Benoit’s family and fiancé Beauregard Latour. She relocated to Denver to start anew away from the mentally crippling memories.

Natalie attends a convention hosted by the American State Department and the Society of Professional Journalists in the Mexican border town Cuidad Juarez. However, the Zetas drug cartel kidnaps her. The low volume voice of encouragement in the dark of another prisoner gives her the fortitude to carry on. Chief Deputy U.S. Marshal Zach McBride was sold out by an Interpol agent, but manages to get them out of the incarceration. Now they must flee across a desert while a raging kingpin and his minion chase them with one objective kill the journalist and the Fed.

The latest I Team romantic suspense (see Unlawful Contact and Naked Edge) is an action-packed thriller that grips the audience from the moment the tour bus is attacked by members of the Zeta cartel and never slows down as the vicious killers stalk the lead couple. The key is that Zach’s clam inner strength and SEAL training helps Natalie adapt from frightened victim to courageous heroine as the attraction is always there but takes a back seat to the great escape.

Harriet Klausner

Grace Interrupted-Julie Hyzy

Grace Interrupted
Julie Hyzy
Berkley, Jun 7 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425241905

Part manor house and part museum, Marshfield Manor is a tourist attraction that brings in millions of dollars to the town. Grace Wheaton is in charge of the building and frequently is called to defuse fights between guests. One of the guests Zachery sets his eyes on David Embers and attacks him thinking he is his brother Jack who he believes killed his baby brother for stalking a Kincaide sister.

When the brawl ends, each walks away hurt but breathing. Jack, who has tried to date Grace, tells her the entire story; she believes he is innocent. Her belief is shattered when Zachery is found murdered in a field near where Civil War re-enactors have set up camp. The police look at Jack as the prime suspect just like they did years ago when Zachery’s brother was murdered. Considering what she knows about Jack, she decides he did not kill either Kincaide. As such she decides to investigate the two related homicides, but what she concludes is so horrific she cannot believe her assertion; even the police have trouble dealing with Grace’s belief when she explains it to them. Tthe killer remains free to harm more people.

The second Manor of Murder Mystery (see Grace Under Pressure) is a family drama as much as a murder mystery; as the two deaths link two bitter clans. Readers will agree with the heroine that selecting the culprit is difficult because both families consist of damaged people never fully moving passed thirteen years ago only to feel an eerie déjà vu. After a brief doubt, Grace knows in her soul that Jack is innocent of both horrible crimes, but proving it by fining the culprit seems just out of reach. Julie Hyzy provides an engaging complex amateur sleuth enhanced by a strong cast of suspects.

Harriet Klausner

Unraveled-Maggie Sefton

Maggie Sefton
Berkley, Jun 7 2011, $24.95
ISBN 9780425241141

In Fort Collins, Colorado, financial consultant Kelly Flynn breaks up with her boyfriend Steve Townsend. Heartbroken that her long time relationship ended, she turns to her House of Lambspun knitting friends for solace. Realtor Jennifer Stroud invites Kelly to meet her new client, Fred Turner, which she agrees to do.

The females travel to Fred's cabin on his ranch. There they find him lying on his floor dead; near his body is an antique pistol. Although the initial inclination is suicide, the police determine a homicide occurred. Apparently Fred had many people with a variety of motives to want him dead. Meanwhile Kelly investigates the ownership history of the weapon to prove one of her clients with a grudge towards the victim is innocent.

This Lambspun knitting amateur sleuth mystery (see Dropped Dead Stitch and Skein of the Crime) is a wonderful whodunit with a fabulous final twist. The cast is terrific and brings plausibility to the investigation although that is two edged as their early chatter keeps the story line from accelerating. Once the plot shifts into first gear (after a few chapters), Unraveled never looks back until the stunning climax.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Ink Flamingoes-Karen E. Olson

Ink Flamingoes
Karen E. Olson
Berkley, Jun 7 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780451233790

In Las Vegas, Brett Kavanaugh owns the upscale tattoo parlor The Painted Lady. After becoming embroiled in homicides (see Driven to Ink and Pretty in Ink), Brett promised her concerned friends and that she would never again investigate a murder. She is unable to keep her pledge when a steady customer Daisy Carmichael, lead singer of the pop group The Flamingoes, is found dead in her hotel room. On the blog Skin Deep, a picture of Daisy appears with a flamingo tattoo that is colored in; Brett knows her late client was allergic to ink colors so her tattoos were all black.

Brett’s brother Tim tells her that a witness saw a red haired woman carrying ink pots and needles leaving the room two hours before the body was found. Brett has an alibi and there are further entries on the blog written by Ainsley Wainwright that have altered pictures of Brett and events that imply the tattoo artist is a killer. Brett realizes she has a stalker following her. She is able to dispute all the evidence with help from her friends, but still needs to know who wants to make it look like she killed the singer; which means investigating.

Karen E. Olson writes an action-packed amateur sleuth who- done-it that stays constantly at the speed of light from start to finish even with a few nice hairpin spins. The audience will enjoy this complex whodunit enhanced by misdirection and a touch of romance with a peer Jeff Coleman who goes the entire Strip and more to help Brett. She realizes she is attracted to her caring competitor. Ink Flamingoes is a strong entry that has sub-genre fans wondering who and why.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, April 11, 2011

Hot Lights, Cold Steel-D.P. Lyle

Hot Lights, Cold Steel
D.P. Lyle
Medallion, Jun 1 2011, $24.95
ISBN: 9781605421810

Forensic criminalist Dub Walker is a consultant to the Huntington Police Department. He also assists the Federal alpha soup law enforcement agencies. His ex lover Miranda, who Dub has not seen in a decade, begs him to find her missing nineteen year old daughter Noel, a prostitute. The teen had not called home in a couple of weeks, which Miranda claims is out of character for Noel. Dub teams up with T- Tommy a police officer.

Two young female bodies are found in a shallow grave; one of them is Noel while the other is Crystal. Each has surgical clamps on their bodies and had their appendixes and other bod organs surgically removed. Dub focuses on finding Noel’s killer; but he and T-Tommy are unaware they are in the middle of an organization doing illegal medical experiments and these criminals are working in collusion with a mobster. As they get closer to the truth, those watching the pair begin the plan to exterminate them, but not before they take the organs.

D.P. Lyle writes a pulse pounding police procedural as the two close friends work closely together to solve the homicide case while having each other’s back; both feel strongly about obtaining justice for the victims. Told from the perspectives of the prime predator and Dub, readers will enjoy one of the better thrillers of the year while seeking the hero’s previous inquiry (see Stress Fracture).

Harriet Klausner

Mind Your Own Beeswax-Hannah Reed

Mind Your Own Beeswax
Hannah Reed
Berkley, May 3 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425241592

In Moraine, Wisconsin, Story Fischer runs the Wild Clover grocery store and manages the Queen Bee honey beekeeping business. Story hosts a candle making killer event at her store. In attendance is a woman she sort of recognizes, but cannot quite place. After class is over, Story learns who her student is. When Lauren Kerrigan was a teen, she drive drunk and killed the Chief of Police.

After being away from town for years, Lauren has come home. Many of the Moraine residents are outraged with her return. However, soon afterward someone kills Lauren near Story’s runaway jail-breaking bees. Another villager Hetty is also found dead as the Kerrigan family fume over the death while some townsfolk insist the legendary lethal Lantern Man who haunts the old logging road murdered her. Story knows not to get involved, but investigates anyway as she seems to have an affinity for corpses.

The second Queen Bee amateur sleuth (see Buzz Off) is an amusing whodunit with a taste of honey front and center. Story’s bees break out of hive prison and that adds jocularity and a deep look at beekeeping to an entertaining zany mystery as the heroine with her summaries keeps thinking Mind Your Own Beeswax.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Dark Approach-Karen Wiesner

Dark Approach
Karen Wiesner
Whiskey Creek, Mar 15 2011, $15.95
ISBN: 9781603135994

Over two decades ago, Angelo Pluzetti saved the life of a young male son of a dangerous father who headed the Revolutionary Echelon Defenders (R.E.D.), but a girl lost hers in the endeavor. The lad felt guilty that a youthful innocent bystander Sarita died, but six years later, he agreed to protect Angelo’s daughter Anya.

Twenty-two years later, disillusioned Network operatives Lucy Carlton and Vic Leventhal are celebrating her birthday camping. The couple knows they swore allegiance and have performed many dangerous missions in the shadows, but now they want a normal family life together. However, each understands their sojourn will not last long. That proves prophetic as their respite fails to last the camping time when they meet the Sparks family trying to be free too. The terrorist group R.E.D. seeks them also knowing the pair is disillusioned as freedom has become another F word; yet the enemy offers the ultimate apple temptation of freedom for information.

This is an incredible finish to a strong saga as the key threads are tied up in an intriguing ending. Fast-paced from the onset, fans of the long running Incognito series will appreciate the final confrontation, as Karen Wiesner pulls off a terrific twist. Dark Approach climaxes the dozen super thrillers with a great curtain call.

Harriet Klausner

Death Likes It Hot-Gore Vidal writing as Edgar Box

Death Likes It Hot
Gore Vidal writing as Edgar Box
Vintage Crime/Black Lizard, Mar 22 2011, $14.95
ISBN: 9780307741448

Wealthy socialite Mrs. Veering hires Manhattan based public relations specialist man Peter Sargeant II to announce her end of summer gala. Peter leaves Manhattan via the Long Island Cannon Ball Express for the posh North Dunes of Easthampton on a job he looks forward to performing as a summer escape from the heat of the city.

He enjoys sunning and playing in the surf especially with Harper’s Bazaar fashion reporter Liz Bessemer. However, his fun in the sun ends when his client’s niece Mildred Brexton dies while swimming near a crowded beach in what everyone assumes is a horrific accident. When the police find an overdose of sleeping pills in Mildred’s stomach, they believe she committed suicide but do not rule out homicide. While the cops investigate, Peter watches the reactions of family members of the victim to include his client, the victim’s cramp spouse, and her two siblings. He knows the predator is debonair, intelligent and sophisticated.

This is a terrific amateur sleuth supported by an amusing clash of the classes; mindful of the movie Laura. Fast-paced with a wicked and timely lampooning of the New York upper crust, Death Likes It Hot is a fabulous tale from the moment Sargeant and Veering meet and never slows down while he observes the rich and famous go about their lives as if a death is tea time.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, April 8, 2011

When You Dare-Lori Foster

When You Dare
Lori Foster
Harlequin HQN, Apr 26 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780373775712

In Tijuana, mercenary Dare Macintosh raids a human trafficking trailer to rescue his friend and Trace Rivers’ sister Alani. Incarcerated in the same containment facility was an unconscious female who has been tortured by the kidnappers; he took her out with him too; while four local females were freed as well but left on their own. Alani explains the other American was not taken for selling like she and the four locals, but for some other unknown reason

When she awakens she breaks his nose, but he remains calm and helps her quickly adapt to being in San Diego. As he assists her with healing, romantic suspense novelist Molly Alexander from Ohio tells Dare she has no idea why anyone would take her as she has no enemies at least who would go to such an extreme. Dare is attracted to and respects Mommy’s courage under fire. She hires him even as he vows to find out who her predator is anyway, but first must know why.

This is an exciting extremely well written romantic suspense that will have readers up late trying to figure out who the culprit is and the motive. Several viable suspects surface, but determining who would go to the extreme is in plain sight but difficult to fathom. Various relationships to include dysfunctional, maturing and changing, and respectful make for a powerful thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Gang Girl and Sex Bum-Don Elliott

Gang Girl and Sex Bum
Don Elliott
Stark House, Apr 29 2011, $19.95
ISBN: 9781933586342

Gang Girl. When her family moved from the Bronx to Manhattan, sixteen years old Lora had to give up her place as the local gang leader’s woman. She plans not just to join a gang; Lora expects to lead the local Cougars though she wants to have a man serve as her puppet. Thus vicious Lora begins her Machiavellian scheme to become gang leader Whitey’s woman.

Sex Bum. Nineteen year old Johnny Price wants out of hick town, but needs a ticket to escape. He helps two mobsters with a hit, which leads to his employment with the mob as a collector. Ambitious Johnny observes his employer Rizzo skimming money from what is collected. He files it away waiting for when he can best use this information even as he sleeps with a lot of mob related women including Rizzo’s moll Marie.

This collection is a reprint of two 1959 hardboiled softcore erotica pulp fiction (from a historiography perspective; these seem very light by even a decade later standards let alone today’s definition as society norms changed. Robert Silverberg used the alias Don Elliot as he provides double the fun tales though at times what seemed graphic in 1959 comes across humorous as the test of time takes it toll. The short essay Sin, Softcore and Silverberg by Michael Hemmingson adds perspective to the anthology as does a listing of other similar tales from that era. Both entries are well written, exciting and provides a spotlight on a somewhat forgotten period.

Harriet Klausner

Bones of a Feather-Carolyn Haines

Bones of a Feather
Carolyn Haines
Minotaur, Jun 21 2011, $24.99
ISBN: 9780312595029

In Zinnia, Mississippi Dahlia House is home to private investigator Sarah Booth Delaney and the resident haint Jitty. She misses her fiancé, movie star Graf Milieu who is on location. Sarah is good enough to have a film career but prefers to remain mostly in the Mississippi Delta that flows through her veins.

Heiress Monica Levert of Briarcliff in Natchez asks Sarah to help her on a case in which she and her sister Eleanor were robbed of a family necklace valued at four million dollars that the insurance firm balks at paying. Monica believes an independent private investigator could expedite the payment. Sarah and her partner Tinkie drive to Natchez to talk with the police, examine the evidence, and conclude the siblings were robbed. Monica is kidnapped and the perpetrator demands four million dollars for her release. Eleanor cannot cash the insurance check because she needs her sister’s co-signature. Tinkie prevails on her banker husband to help, but before the sleuths finish with the siblings, they realize their deaths are the end game.

The excellent eleventh Sarah Booth Delaney paranormal private investigative tale (see Bone Apetit) is a strong whodunit filled with key support characters who are not quite what they seem as first reader impressions will not hold up; just ask the two sleuths. Sarah and Tinkie see many faces of evil; some of whom shouldn’t have existed as they make psychopaths seem stable. The superb Mississippi Delta mystery is a terrific thriller as almost everyone believes the sisters are con artists, but the conscientious sleuths cannot take the chance they are not.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Murder Half-Baked-Kathleen Delaney

Murder Half-Baked
Kathleen Delaney
Camel Press, May 15 2011, $15.97
ISBN: 9781603818285

In Santa Louisa, realtor Ellen McKenzie’s Aunt Mary finds her a new client, Grace House, the half-way house for women in trouble, who seeks a larger facility. Ellen vows to find Grace House what they need even while her and her Aunt Mary plan her wedding to Chief of Police Dan Dunham.

However, as December counts down to their New Year’s Eve nuptials, the size of the wedding attendees dramatically grows exponentially to Ellen’s chagrin. Meanwhile at the cemetery someone bashes in the head of Dr. Sadler with a cherubic statue; Ellen finds the body. Soon afterward Grace House is destroyed in an inferno. As Dan investigates the homicide and the fire, Ellen does too linking both to those at Grace House.

The latest McKenzie amateur sleuth tale (see And Murder for Desert and Dying for a Change) is a fun tale that should carry the warning of visiting bakeries at your own risk. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Ellen finds the corpse and never slows down until case solved and back to the wedding blues. Although Ellen’s rational for investigating is a sub-genre hazard, fans will enjoy the entertaining Murder Half-baked due to the heroine who believes solving a murder and an arson are easier mentally than arranging a wedding even with her having experienced one failed marriage on her résumé.

Harriet Klausner

Hexes and Hemlines-Juliet Blackwell

Hexes and Hemlines
Juliet Blackwell
Obsidian, Jun 7 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780451233783

She searched the world to find a place she could call home and Lily Ivory found it at the corner of Haight and Asbury in San Francisco. Lily is a genuine witch trained by her grandma in the craft though she never completed her studies as she was run out of her hometown. She owns a vintage clothing store, but also has helped the police on investigations using her magic.

SFPD asks her to help with the inquiry into the death of Malachi Zozi whose body is surrounded by bad luck symbols. She cannot read anything from the body and the clothes in the apartment so Lily concludes someone magically wiped clean the magical aura. When she sees a picture of Malachi alive and well, she tells her mentor Aidan, the powerful lead witch of the craft in the Bay area, who warns her to stay away from the case. However, her best friend Bronwyn the Wiccan asks Lily to help because her son-in-law is a person of interest by the cops. Soon afterward, Bronwyn begs her to stop the investigation; as does a witch capable of bending time. Ignoring them, Lily feels it is her duty to catch a killer though her efforts place her in peril.

This exciting urban fantasy murder mystery (see A Castoff Coven) is an entertaining paranormal whodunit. Lily’s persistence as an amateur sleuth hooks the audience who is unsure whether to scream at her to back off or to encourage her to charge forward. Her familiar Oscar, a half goblin-gargoyle becomes a cute pot bellied pig who adds jocularity to the fast-paced story line as part of the quirky cast (benign, kind, and evil) that helps make this spellbinding tale a fun read.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

A Hard Death-Jonathan Hayes

A Hard Death
Jonathan Hayes
Harper, Apr 12 2011, $25.99
ISBN: 9780061691768

New York City forensic pathologist Dr. Edward Jenner has his medical license revoked by the State for his killing the Inquisitor (see Precious Blood). Stunned by the political culpability targeting him as the fall guy for rescuing a woman from certain death, Edward relocates to serve as a substitute for his former boss Doc Marty Roburn, chief medical officer of Douglas County, Florida. Doc and his beloved wife Roberta have gone on a fishing vacation while Jenner expects plenty of relaxation in the resort town of Port Elizabeth.

Jenner and a law enforcement team watch a car being removed from the Everglades. Inside are two corpses, Doc and Roberta. Jenner quickly knows this was not an unfortunate accident nor is the deaths of four more people. Grieving for his boss while in a near rage, Jenner investigates with one goal to find the perpetrator.

The symbolically titled A Hard Death (on the living Jenner) is an action packed forensic thriller as the hero is a knight in medical armor rescuing damsels and seeking a nasty killer while someone with a grudge stalks him. The story line is action-packed from the beginning but adds a major anguish to the mix when Jenner realizes who the corpses are. Sub-genre fans will appreciate this taut Everglades forensic mystery.

Harriet Klausner

Clutches and Curses-Dorothy Howell

Clutches and Curses
Dorothy Howell
Kensington, May 31 2011, $22.00
ISBN: 9780758253309

Haley Randolph feels her life is on track since Ty Cameron, co-owner of Holt’s Department Store, is now her official boyfriend. That does not stop him from leaving her at a moment’s notice to go to work. She does not depend on him because she knows he might not be there in time to help her. When a customer asks Haley for help, she ignores the woman. Irate the lady places a curse on Haley. Shortly thereafter she is almost killed from plaster falling. Holt’s opening a new store in Vegas so Haley leaves town to help get the place operational.

When she enters a dressing room, Haley finds the corpse of former schoolmate Courtney Collins. Haley had contacted Courtney so that they could get together in Vegas, but what she really wants Is first shot of a new bag that a high couture designer created. The police suspect Haley because they know she did not like the victim. Tired of being the one and only suspect, Haley investigates, but her inquiry leads to a second homicide that she believes ties to the first murder. If she figures out that missing link, she will identify the killer.

Dorothy Howell is known for her lighthearted amateur sleuth tales starring an intriguing fashionista who forgets about Ty in times of need. Although she does not believe in curses, she reconsiders as sh*t happens to her so turns to a psychic listed in the Yellow Pages. Although Haley has been a suspect before (see Purses and Poison, and Handbags and Homicides) readers will enjoy her antics to lift the curse that she does not believe exists and find the culprit because pinstripes will not go well with her hair.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Lumen-Ben Pastor

Ben Pastor
Bitter Lemon, May 1 2011, $14.99
ISBN: 9781904738664

In 1938 Father Malecki, a Polish American priest from Chicago investigates the alleged powers of Mother Kazimierza, the abbess of a convent in Nazi occupied Cracow, Poland. People believe in her ability to foresee the future. However, before Father Malecki can make a determination, someone shoots and kills Mother Kazimierza.

Wehrmacht Captain Martin Bora is assigned to investigate the homicide in which his superior Nazi fanatic fanatical Colonel Schenk demands one finding, a Jew killed the holy woman. At the same time the Archbishop and the American consul demand Father Malecki stay out of the inquiry; in fact they prefer he return to Chicago.

Although the murder mystery that at least in the first case is relatively easy to solve, Lumen is also a great historical that uses the killing of a nun to provide a stunning period piece focused on the horrors humanity does in the name of some ism. The profound story line focuses on the Nazi-Communist takeover of Poland while the Church remained mute to Father Malecki’s shock. Seemingly minor incidents like how a Jewish teacher addresses his former student now a German Officer and the visiting official told to back off or else make for a discerning read. These little tidbits of horror include the trip Bora makes to the Communist allies taking Poland apart from the east while the Germans do likewise from the west; with each side trumping the other in brutality. Readers will relish the lives of Bora and Malecki circa 1938 as the value systems the soldier grew up with has been obliterated by his country and their ally; and that of the priest devastated by the Vatican’s silence in this dark early WWII era thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Over the Edge-Brandilyn Collins

Over the Edge
Brandilyn Collins
B&H, May 1 2011, $14.99
ISBN: 9781433671623

Stanford University Dr. Brock McNeil is a recognized expert on tick diseases. However, he firmly believes that especially Lyme disease is not a chronic illness. Brock will soon need to revise his medical opinion.

An unknown person for unknown reasons infects Brock’s wife Janessa with infected ticks. This adversary calls with the warm welcome to the Lyme Disease message. As she becomes increasingly ill, Brock rejects the notion that she has Lyme disease. The adversary soon plans to attack Brock’s nine year old daughter Lauren with the same strain. Brock continues to be obstinate about the illness devastating his wife. To add to his problems a predator stalks his family. He better revise his belief system before it is too late.

This is a great mainstream cautionary tale by Brandilyn Collins, known for her Christian thrillers, that provides an insightful shocking look at the crippling impact of Lyme disease in which the medical community and the health insurance company for the most deny the chronic long term impact. Janessa makes the tale as the victim of a deranged stalker and of her cheating husband's rejection of the facts that his wife is extremely ill and his daughter is at risk. Readers will appreciate this taut medical thriller based in the author’s battle with Lyme disease and seek out her blog ( and other sufferers’ despondent stories (

Harriet Klausner

Secret of the White Rose-Stefanie Pintoff

Secret of the White Rose
Stefanie Pintoff
Minotaur, May 24 2011, $24.99
ISBN 9780312583972

In 1906, New York City residents and much of the country remain riveted to the trial of anarchist Al Drayson. The accused allegedly planted a bomb to kill industrialist Andrew Carnegie, but instead murdered five other people.

Criminologist Alistair Sinclair wakes up Detective Simon Ziele with a shocker. An unknown assassin sliced the throat of Judge Hugo Jackson, presiding over the Drayson homicide trial. The killer left behind a Bible and a white rose. Sinclair tells Ziele that Jackson was a long time friend, but the cop believes his crony conceals something important from him. While the NYPD commissioner and the brass insist an anarchist murdered the judge, Ziele thinks it is too soon to rule other possible killers even as the murderer strikes several times since giving Jackson a necktie.

Mindful of the Gaslight mysteries by Victoria Thomson, the third Ziele-Sinclair police procedural (see In the Shadow of Gotham and A Curtain Falls) is a super historical whodunit. The investigation is exciting and fast-paced as the killers keeps striking while the two sleuths struggle to end the murdering spree. Yet with an excellent whodunit, it is the feeling that we armchair readers are in New York at the beginning of the twentieth century that makes the Secret of the White Rose a terrific thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, April 4, 2011

Due Diligence-Jonathan Rush

Due Diligence
Jonathan Rush
Dunne, May 10 2011, $25.99
ISBN 9780312559779

Having lost the Florida Gas & Light merger to Citibank, Wall Street investment bank Dyson Whitney managing director Pete Stanzy wants the Louisiana Light deal, which is why he flies to Baton Rouge to meet with the CEO Mike Wilson who wants to purchase rival BritEnergy. If Stanzy and his team pull off the deal they will make $72 million; if they fail they make nada. Wilson makes it clear he expects the negotiations to be over in a month and Stanzy is to talk to no one but him.

While Wilson is in South America, Stanzy has Phil Menendez put together a team to work the BritEnergy deal. Newcomer analyst Rob Holding is part of the unit whose only focus is the Louisiana Light transaction. However, though the lowest person on the totem pole, Rob performing his job of Due Diligence analysis finds indiscretions in why Wilson wants a rushed hushed deal. No one heeds his warnings as the fee blinds the bank’s leadership with a not to know need; forcing the young man to struggle with his ethics vs. his career and soon he learns his life when a corpse that should have been him is found.

The fast-paced story line is timed nicely as the bottom line only practices that led to the banking collapse remain intact at least at this company in spite of the attempts of Washington Democrats passing watered down oversight reform (Republicans still believe the market corrects itself). Although somewhat an updating of John Grisham’s The Firm and the final coda is over the top of the New York Stock Exchange, fans will enjoy the action-packed Due Diligence while rooting for Holding against the big bad bankers.

Harriet Klausner

The Dead Man: Ring of Knives-Lee Goldberg, William Rabkin and James Daniels

The Dead Man: Ring of Knives
Lee Goldberg, William Rabkin and James Daniels
Adventures In Television, Mar 27 2011, $6.99
ISBN: 9781461038221

Due to a stag that may or may not have been on the road, Matthew Cahill’s vehicle is in a ditch. The tow truck driver, who believes Rush is a liberal, takes him to the “nuthouse” where Matt is going. After his driver mentions looking at the eyes to see the soul Matt peeks at the man and he sees beetles in the sockets as the guy says he plans a surprise for his ex and her beau in Tacoma to night.

At Westland County Mental Health Center, Matthew set up an interview to discuss how to fight the evil Dr. Dark with thirty seven yeas old Jesse Weston, an encyclopedia of mental illness. However, the hospital administrator who arranged it Dr. Dindren no longer works there and Weston was transferred elsewhere. Employee Maloria, who he has a Tase moment h just before arriving at the MHC explains what is going on. He needs to see Dindren in order to learn where Weston is. However, to do that he must enter the monitored modules escorted by Maloria; there he will learn first hand what happens to those with mental illness and the cause of seeing the abnormal and paranormal while finding getting in is easy but getting out alive is lunacy.

The second DEAD MAN paranormal novella is a taut thriller that grips the audience from the moment Matt sees the driver’s eyes and never slows down especially when he enters the house of horrors. Action-packed throughout yet key support players like Maloria, Drindren and teenage patient Annica come across fully developed as readers will appreciate Cahill’s search for answers to death and Dr. Dark after coming back from the dead.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Heir to the Everlasting-Janice Daugherty

Heir to the Everlasting
Janice Daugherty
Bell Bridge (Belle Books), Feb 4 2011, $14.95
ISBN: 9781935661924

In South Georgia, the Big Eddy Plantation has thrived since Widow Pinkie Baxter Alexander began to manage her family estate circa 1900. She raises her four sons and a granddaughter May whose mother Minnie died in 2007 of malaria. Pinkie believes that May is the only one of her descendants with a backbone like hers. Buried on the planation is gold at least that is the rumor, but only Pinkie knows where and she takes it to the grave with her.

After Pinkie’s death, May takes over running the Big Eddy. She is as determined as her late mentor grandma to keep the plantation afloat though the rivers and death of loved ones try to destroy her heritage. Like the late Pinkie did with her, May teaches her granddaughter Sara Ann the importance of keeping the Big Eddy alive and in the family. At the family cemetery on the planation, the gravestone of May’s granddad needs replacing. As if Pinkie knew what her descendants needed, the two females find the secret that May’s grandma took to the grave.

This is an entertaining century long epic that looks deep into the Alexander clan though predominantly three women. The story line brings to life South Georgia over the course of the twentieth century. The lead females are fully developed while the rest of the brood and the townsfolk enhance understanding the love the trio has for the land. Though there is some action and the mystery of the gold, Heir to Everlasting is a regional character study that showcases the lives of Southern women during a tumultuous century. This book is well worth reading

Harriet Klausner

Slugfest-Rosemary Harris

Rosemary Harris
Minotaur, Apr 12 2011, $24.99
ISBN: 9780312569969

Professional gardener Paula Holliday travels from Springfield, Connecticut to Manhattan to attend the Big Apple Flower Show at the Wagner Center. For Paula the return to New York is a bittersweet reminder of when she burned out as a TV producer, but flowers should make for a fun event. Allegra Douglas strongly opposes vendors like Paula selling trashy sculptures by Primo Dunstan at the horticultural gala while director Kristi Reynolds believes they are a necessary evil if her show is going to hit the big time.

However, Reynolds’ smooth show starts off ugly when someone murders Connie Anzalone's prized veronicas. That is followed by Otis Randolph a worker falling down an elevator shaft to his death. Soon afterward student attendee Garland Bleimeister is found dead in the nearby Hudson. Paula, who met the victim when she took his bag to her table, teams up with security guard Rolanda Knox and investigates who had the motive to kill Bleimeister as many participates had the opportunity. They narrow the suspects down to Reynolds, school botanist Jamal Harrington, and the Javits Curse pranksters while NYPD leans toward local student Jamal Harrington.

The latest Dirty Business amateur sleuth (see Pushing Up Daisies and Dead Head) is an amusing tale as the heroine’s return to New York is loaded with pranks, murder and a cute hunk. The whodunit is clever, but takes a backseat to the gardeners’ invasion of Manhattan; who would have thought The Big Dirt Nap crowd could be so out of control as any moment grateful readers will expect Lou Costello to arrive holding Mrs. Crumbcake’s perforated bucket (see the TV show’s “Jail”). Rosemary Harris writes an enjoyable jocular mystery.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Into the Night-Janelle Denison

Into the Night
Janelle Denison
St. Martin’s, Mar 29 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780312372279

In Vegas, Nathan Fox works as a surveillance supervisor at the Onyx Hotel and Casino. He also does double duty for his Onyx boss Caleb Roux, as Nathan uses his experience on LVPD to perform special assignments as a member the Reliance Group. Caleb assigns Nathan to retrieve Angela, the teenage runaway daughter of a recently retired marine LIC Tom Ramsey. Apparently, affluent fiftyish Preston Sloane has the underage girl at his exclusive nearby estate. Nathan believes he owes the pompous pervert from his days working on the Metro Vice Squad.

Nathan and reporter Nicole Hutton share what each thought would be a one night stand. However, Nicole has personal reasons to expose the vicious predator of troubled teen girls. Thus, the reporter and the security expert team up with rescuing a girl and destroying a beast; but soon realize the case is much more convoluted than they first thought even factoring in their attraction for one another.

This is an exhilarating romantic suspense that besides the fast-paced story line also introduces the audience to The Reliance Group. Loaded with action, fans will anticipate the showdown between the lead couple and the malevolent sex offender although the latter’s late reactions seems foolish for such a successful cretin. Still the opening TRG is a super read.

Harriet Klausner

The Worst Thing-Aaron Elkins

The Worst Thing
Aaron Elkins
Berkley, May 3 2011, $25.95
ISBN 9780425240991

Bryan Bennett has come a long way from when he was abducted and held prisoner for fifty nine days in Istanbul as a five year old child. He accepts the notion that he became a hostage negotiator because of his childhood horror. However, Bryan also prefers to stay in the background as a designer of programs.

In Seattle, Odysseus Institute for Crisis Management and Executive Security Wally North asks his employee Bryan to present a "corporate-level kidnapping and extortion seminar" in Reykjavik as the CEO of GlobalSeas Baldursson demanded only Bennett to come. To blackmail Bryan into agreeing Wally suggests he take his marine ecologist wife Lori with him. Bryan avoids confined places, but reluctantly he decides to go because he loves his wife of almost ten years though he expects the plane will be a nightmare even with drugs. Bryan learns that Baldursson was also an abduction victim, but that does little to relives him of his confined places panic attacks. When the couple arrives in Iceland, Bryan quickly finds himself plunged in a nightmarish situation that leaves his mind on the brink of emotional collapse and his life in peril.

The key to this exciting stand alone thriller without the Skeleton Detective is Bryan’s panic attacks that seem so real readers unaccustomed to them will understand how debilitating they are and those who know first hand will believe Aaron Elkins is one of us. The story line is fast-paced throughout without taking a respite as Bryan knows fist hand the Pogo classic line “We have met the enemy and he is us.” The coda is a final twisting stunner that brings to light what a memory is as fans will enjoy spending March in Iceland.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, April 1, 2011

False Witness-Randy Singer

False Witness
Randy Singer
Tyndale, May 1 2011, $13.99
ISBN: 9781414335698

The CEO wanted the algorithm that will change the Internet especially if it is exclusively sold to him for about $50 million. Professor Dagan watched via computer from his apartment as his protégé Chow Zhang completed the negotiations.The other side, once they were assured only two people had seen the formula, abruptly ended the deal by killing Zhang.

After a failed repro in Vegas followed by a drugging, bounty hunter Clarke Shealy receives a portentous call from the Chinese; they allow his beloved wife Jess to come on, but she begins to mention a name so he hears what he knows is bone on bone. He is warned to do their bidding in a timely manner if he wants his wife returned alive. They order him to locate a vanished Chinese mathematician, who created an algorithm that will change Internet protocol.

The above two paragraphs are only the first third of an incredible action-packed thriller that proves Christian action tales can be exciting and inspirational without being intrusive. The story line starts with the deal, switches to Clarke's frantic efforts to rescue Jess, and finally changes into a legal thriller starring a professor and his three legal aid students. The two key elements are the switchovers are so smooth that the audience will realize how good Randy Singer is and the invocation of Christianity is lightly fitted into the plot without slowing down anything. This reprint of a 2007 tale is especially timely as the Federal and State governments debate ripping Grand Canyon holes into the safety net. Fans regardless of faith will sing the praises of the author.

Harriet Klausner