Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Traitor's Emblem-Juan Gomez-Jurado

The Traitor's Emblem
Juan Gomez-Jurado
Atria, Jul 19 2011, $24.99
ISBN: 9781439198780

In 1919 Munich, fifteen years old Alys Tannenbaum is the daughter of a wealthy Jewish businessman. Her parents keep a close watch over her. At a birthday party for insufferable aristocratic Jurgen von Schroeder, Alys meets Paul Reiner, the poor cousin of the guest of honor; Paul is working as a waiter at the gala. Repugnant Jurgen makes Alys dance with him, but when she asks him to let her go he refuses. Paul, who is Aly’s age, rescues her.

Raging at the pauper’s affront, Jurgen and several punks assault Paul. This brawl encourages Paul, who already wanted to know what happened to his naval captain father whose death is allegedly tied to Jurgen’s family, to seek the truth. As Jurgen joins the Nazis, he remains steadfast with his obsession to break his relative while Paul remains obsessed with learning what happened to his dad even at the cost of losing his beloved Alys.

This is an enjoyable between the World Wars in Germany romantic thriller though the story line follows a seemingly inevitable path of destructions. The cousins loathe each other so much that nothing else matters; their perspective over the Brandenburg Gate obsessive compulsive disorder will have readers wondering about nature over nurture. Although the story line is very thin and obvious, fans will enjoy the epic look at an expanded family who during a time of relative peace in Europe are at war with each other.

Harriet Klausner

Inspector Singh Investigates: Bali Conspiracy Most Foul-Shamini Flint

Inspector Singh Investigates: Bali Conspiracy Most Foul
Shamini Flint
Minotaur, Jul 19 2011, $25.99
ISBN: 9780312596989

A bomb explodes in Bali. Singapore police supervisors see this as an opportunity to get Inspector Singh a Sikh out of their hair as they did with A Most Peculiar Malaysian Murder case; though he has a strong record of solving cases. This time they ship him to Bali to assist the locals with their antiterrorism efforts.

Though he wonders if it is because he is a Sikh, Singh is confused by his being assigned to antiterrorism as his expertise is homicide. Richard Crouch’s corpse with a bullet is found amongst the ruins. Singh and Australian Detective Bronwyn Taylor, also being stonewalled by her superiors, team up on the case in which he brings his homicide investigation skills and she her Indonesian language and cultural awareness expertise.

Although conceptually similar to Inspector Singh Investigates: A Most Peculiar Malaysian Murder, as the detective is “exiled” to another country, the freshness comes with the new set of cultural clashes. The protagonist, the Australian sidekick cop, the locals and the expatriates bring diverse backgrounds that Shamini Flint explores without fingering any as inferior. The whodunit is entertaining with a stunning climax and coda as Singh takes Bali just like he did Malaysia.

Harriet Klausner

The Herring In The Library-L. C. Tyler

The Herring In The Library
L. C. Tyler
Felony & Mayhem, Jun 16 2011, $14.95
ISBN: 9781934609767

In Findon, West Sussex, England third level list mystery writer (under two aliases) and romance author under another name) Ethelred Tressider runs into university pal Sir Rob "Shagger" Muntham. After a brief chat, Shagger invites Ethelred and his agent Elsie Thirkettle to a dinner party at Muntham Court. They agree to attend the gala.

As soon as they arrive, Elise makes it clear to her client that they are to sit near the exit so they can gracefully leave. From the moment they step inside Shagger’s young wife tense Annabelle outrageously flirts with Ethelred in front of everyone. However before they can flee into the night, someone strangles Shagger inside the locked library. Annabelle demands Ethelred investigate. Being chivalrous, he agrees but Elsie refuses to leave alone with the not so grieving widow and the snooty crowd he investigates.

The latest ET to the second power amateur sleuth (see The Herring Seller's Apprentice and Ten Little Herrings) is a wonderful locked-room mystery that has a throwback feel to the Agatha Christie country house whodunits (see Endless Night, And Then There Was None and Peril at End House) though in a contemporary time. The fun is the interplay between the perfect English gentleman and his in your face agent who insists if he worked diligently and applied his talent he could attain a level two. Readers will enjoy the antics of this pair has they investigate the murder of Sir Shagger.

Harriet Klausner

Flowers for Her Grave-Judy Clemens

Flowers for Her Grave
Judy Clemens
Poisoned Pen, Aug 2 2011, $14.95
ISBN: 9781590589205

Casey Maldonado struggles with the deaths of her husband and son but has no time to grieve as she fled Ohio where her family died to avoid a murder charge. She is back on lam with her companion L'Ankou the Grim Reaper as they flee Kansas by box car after a fight left her with injuries.

She changes her identity to Daisy Gray, fitness trainer in Raceda, Florida. However a change in name and location fails to keep Casey out of trouble. She finds a woman, who was obviously assaulted and bleeding to death in the locker area. Casey tries to save the woman’s life but fails. Death tells her is time to flee, but feeling guilt for being too slow, Casey as Daisy decides to investigate; ignoring L'Ankou’s warning to run before the cops look into who she is.

The third Grim Reaper thriller (see Embrace the Grim Reaper and The Grim Reaper’s Dance) is a whimsical whodunit as readers will agree with death that is time to get out of Dodge, but Casey knows there are moments when you cannot run away from your problems. Filled with humor mostly due to the relationship between Death and Casey as most people think she is a lunatic arguing with herself since they cannot see or hear the grim Reaper. Series fans will enjoy Flowers for Her Grave as Judy Clemens showcases human travesties as seen through the eyes of Death.

Harriet Klausner

My Lunatic Life-Sharon Sala

My Lunatic Life
Sharon Sala
Bell Bridge, Jul 25 2011
ISBN: 9781461087717

In their latest move, high school senior Tara Luna and her Uncle Pat move to Stillwater, Oklahoma. They are accompanied as always by two ghosts (Millicent and Henry) that she sees and talks with but her only living relative cannot. Although she would prefer settling in one place Tara loves her eccentric uncle who took her in before her first birthday when her parents died in an accident.

At school Tara is called the “Lunatic” by everyone but Flynn O’Mara who calls her “Moon Girl”. They start dating. While in a classroom, Tara’s psychic skills erupt as a boy is dying in the bathroom. She leads the teachers and coach to the spot where Corey Palmer suffers a seizure and dies. When Corey’s spirit asks her if he is dead, she says yes, but tells him to return to his body if he desires, which he does. His GF Nikki makes Lunatic one of her BFFs. Someone abducts head cheerleader Bethany Fanning who was one of the trio that treated Tara with disdain. While a ghost buried in the backyard of their new home pleads with her to find her body and her killer, Tara and Flynn try to rescue Bethany.

OMG, Book one of the Lunatic Life young adult series is a fun teenage Ghost Whisper (and more psychic skills) amateur sleuth. Tara is a wonderful lead character who holds the entertaining story line together. The cast is solid (that is figuratively as there are two prime ghosts and other hauntings) although the cheerleaders trio and the jock are too stereotypical. My Lunatic Life is a delightful tale that combines the heroine’s adjustment as the newbie at the high school with her investigating paranormal scenarios.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Killed at the Whim of a Hat-Colin Cotterill

Killed at the Whim of a Hat
Colin Cotterill
Minotaur, Jul 19 2011, $24.99
ISBN: 9780312564537

Thirtyish Jimm Juree feels euphoric that the Chiang Mai Daily Mail is about to make her the second female senior crime reporter in Thailand. However, her mother destroys her professional dreams when she sells the family home and business without warning. The matriarch moves the extended family which includes Jimm’s retired cop Granddad, her body builder younger brother and her transgendered beauty pageant queen former older brother from the north to the south to Chumphon Province none of them has heard of. The journalist fears her mom might be going senile.

All is not lost when two skeletons of hippies are found buried inside an interred Volkswagen van. Soon after the farmer Mel Phumihan found the gruesome remains, someone brutally kills a Buddhist abbot with a monk and a nun the only viable suspects. Granddad mentors Jimm on investigations as she learns to dig beyond the surface layer of dirt.

Though he switches generations and locale from Laotian coroner Dr. Siri Paiboun (one could argue Granddad is the equivalent to Paiboun) to thirtyish Juree in Thailand, Colin Cotterill provides an engaging investigative tale that shines an intelligent spotlight on the country. Jimm and Granddad are a wonderful team as he teaches her how to conduct a proper inquiry. Readers will enjoy Mr. Cotterill’s exciting investigation that is a family affair.

Harriet Klausner

Ringer -Brian M Wiprud

Brian M Wiprud
Minotaur, Jul 19 2011, $26.99
ISBN: 9780312601898

In La Paz, Baja California Sur, Mexico Father Gomez Entropica shows wealthy womanizer Morty Martinez the finger of his ancestor de Salvaterra who lost it in defense of the monastery; the finger and a ring on it were saved, but the jewelry was stolen. The Father, seeing a picture in Forbes magazine of the ring, asks a favor that he believes the former Brooklyn resident can achieve. He wants Morty to visit sexagenarian Robert Tyson Grant in New York City to ask the billionaire to return a holy gold ring he wears to its rightful owner an orphanage in La Paz.

In New York, Martinez learns a lesson that he already knew that no good deed goes unpunished for a Good Samaritan. He muses about how he is one night from execution in Mexico after being caught in the crosshairs of several wannabe killers wanting Grant dead.

This is a zany jocular thriller over the top of Picacho del Diablo as told by the antihero while he waits execution in a Mexican prison. The support cast is certifiably loco as nothing goes right with Morty’s quest. Part of the amusement is when Morty muses on irrelevant topics as his time counts down. This sequel to Feelers continues the misadventures of Morty the modern day Conquistador who is on the verge of losing more than a ring finger.

Harriet Klausner

Killer Move-Michael Marshall

Killer Move
Michael Marshall
Morrow, Jun 28 2011, $24.99
ISBN: 9780061434426

Bill Moore has a successful realty business selling condos in South Florida. He has a great marriage with a wonderful wife Steph who he loves. They live in a beautiful house in Sarasota.

However, Bill is more ambitious than Lady Macbeth and is upset that he is behind on achieving his BHAGs. He begins taking shortcuts. One morning Bill arrives at his office to find an odd black-colored card on his desk. On the card’s surface is printed in white lettering: “modified.” His perfect life begins to unravel slowly at first but picking up momentum as purchases he never made arrive against his credit card and an e-mail sent from his address though not by him leads to major trouble with his wife as the filed Modified contain pictures he never took. While Bill tries to find a way to fight back against the unknown Modified, John Hunter is paroled after spending time for a homicide. He seeks vengeance.

This is a gripping suspense thriller as the American dream turns into a nightmare for Bill. The story line is fast-paced from the opening scene in which the reader learns convicted murderer John did not do the crime and never slows down as his life is destroyed and Bill’s is subtly going down the cesspool too. With innuendoes of the Straw Men involved (see The Straw Men, The Upright Man, and Blood of Angels) and with with Bill’s nuked life spinning out of control just like John’s did, Michael Marshall writes a taut tale.

Harriet Klausner

Bloodline-Mark Billingham

Mark Billingham
Mulholland/Little Brown, Jul 14 2011, $24.99
ISBN: 9780316126663

When his significant other Detective Inspector. Louise Porter suffered a miscarriage; London Police Department Murder Squad Detective Tom Thorne is depressed though he tries to hide his feelings. Thus when someone battered pregnant Emily Anne Walker in her home in Finchley before killing her with a plastic bag over her face, Tom, unable to cope with his tragedy, is guiltily happy for the distraction. Tom arrests the victim’s husband George as the evidence overwhelming points to a crime of passion domestic dispute.

However Thorne changes his mind about the case he solved when he learns from DI Paul Brewer that twenty-three year old nurse Catherine Burke was murdered in the same way three weeks ago in Leicester City. The connection between the two deceased females is their mothers were murdered fifteen years ago earlier by psychopathic serial killer Raymond Garvey. This predator killed five other women in four months before being caught. Garvey died in prison. An unknown maniac is targeting the children of Garvey’s victims.

The latest Thorne British police procedural (see Death Message) is an excellent entry that works on three levels that superbly tie cohesively together. First there is the super investigation; second there is the hero using the inquiry to run from his grief; finally there is just the right amount on insight into the lives of the victim. Readers will appreciate this strong suspenseful serial killer thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, June 27, 2011

Dead Dolls Don’t Talk/Hunt the Killer/Too Hot to Hold-Day Keene

Dead Dolls Don’t Talk/Hunt the Killer/Too Hot to Hold
Day Keene
Stark House, Aug 31 2011, $23.95
ISBN: 9781933586335

Dead Dolls Don t Talk. In 1958 Harry and Bonnie meet in a bar on Sunset Strip for a New Year weekend of sex. She asks him if he thinks he can handle her wealthy husband John. As the months go by one murder leads to another; Police Inspector Kelly investigates while Hart is the fall guy.

Hunt the Killer. Fishing boat captain Charlie White is released from a Florida prison after serving four years. The Warden and lifer plus Swede warn him to make an adjustment from self pity by returning to the water. Zo welcomes Charlie back to civilian life while the latter’s wife Beth does not. Zo and Charlie make love when someone attacks them; killing Zo and leaving White to die. However, White survives only to learn the cops hunt him for killing Zo.

Too Hot to Hold. Although taxi driver Mike Scaffidi was unaware of his pending death in two days, his demise begins with picking up Linda Lou Larson at Grand Central Station in 1958. The model from Chicago abruptly jumps from Mike’s cab only to be hit by a truck. The accident report filed by the traffic cop leads to one less cabbie.

The three reprints of 1950s crime thrillers are entertaining tales that focus on an innocent person trapped in deadly webs not of their making; as one thing leads to another. Although contemporary when written, the five plus decades turn the entries into enjoyable character driven historical noir pulp fiction. In the introduction, David Laurence Wilson called the author one of the “Great Trio” (along with Whittington and Brewer) in 1950s crime fiction; this entry affirms Mr. Wilson assertion.

Harriet Klausner

The Brink of Fame-Irene Fleming

The Brink of Fame
Irene Fleming
Minotaur, Aug 16 2011, $25.99
ISBN 9780312575441

In 1914, Adam and Emily Daggett Weiss own Melpomene Moving Picture Studios in the film capital of the world Fort Lee, New Jersey. Adam is on location in Flagstaff, Arizona filming a desert extravaganza while his wife rides the rails a week after he left to join him.

However instead of a hug and kiss to greet her, Emily arrives in Flagstaff to learn Adam lost Melpomene to their bitter nasty rival Howie Kazanow. Additionally rather than face the beating Emily would have given to her husband, he vanished with actress Agnes Gelert. Emily meets private detective Howie Kazanow, who obtains a job for her with movie businessman Carl Laemmle in Hollywood. He offers Emily a director’s gig if she find missing star Ross McHenry. When she does, she is thankful Mr. Laemmle never mentioned alive.

The second pioneering film-making Emily Daggett Weiss amateur sleuth mystery (see The Edge of Ruin) is an engaging historical mystery. The story line is at its best when the focus is on pre- WWI Hollywood and its Eastern bigger counterpart Fort Lee. The whodunit is entertaining though the massive cast of suspects never allow any of the cast to move beyond the stereotypical Peter Lorre’s spinster characterizations. Still fans of early Hollywood will enjoy Emily finds her groove on the other coast.

Harriet Klausner

A Murder in Tuscany-Christobel Kent

A Murder in Tuscany
Christobel Kent
Minotaur, Aug 2 2011, $24.99
ISBN 9780312621025

The body of the Director of the Orfeo Trust's Creative Arts Program retreat Leona Meadows-Mascarello is found near her wrecked car in a ravine. Apparently her car went off an icy road near Florence in what is obviously a horrible accident.

Private investigator Sandro Cellini recalls doing a background check on the ruthless Leona. Although struggling to make a living and having marital problems since his wife’s slow recovery from breast cancer, Sandro sees discrepancies in what he knows. Over the objections of the program’s board, the Orfeo family, employees, and current residents at the castle where the retreat is hosted, he investigates. His wife asks why he is looking into this.

The second Sandro Cellini Italian mystery (see The Drowning River) is a fabulous whodunit in which the sleuth finds a zillion suspects residing in or near the Creative Arts Program castle as just about everyone had the means, the motive and the opportunity. At the same time his personal life appears broken as his marriage nears collapse with neither Cellini knowing how to prevent what looks inevitable. Both subplots converge on the beleaguered Colombo like sleuth in this engaging investigative thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Death and the Maiden-Gerald Elias

Death and the Maiden
Gerald Elias
Minotaur, Aug 16 2011, $25.99
ISBN 9780312678340

Due to inner bickering and a potentially devastating law suit filed by fired second violinist Crispin Short, the internationally acclaimed New Magini String Quartet seems on the brink of disbanding. Although the group has become dysfunctional outside the stage, they still perform well together while new second violinist Yumi Shinagawa has blended in nicely in performances.

The Quartet is booked to perform Schubert's Death and the Maiden at Carnegie Hall once they return from vacation. However, first violinist Aaron Kortovsky fails to return from vacation and the others learn that if Short wins they are liable to him for millions with their reputations shattered; Short demands reinstatement in three days so he can perform the Shubert concert. Blind teacher Daniel Jacobus investigates but becomes concerned when he realizes his former student Yumi is the slated maiden Death targets.

The third Jacobus amateur sleuth (see The Devil’s Trill and Danse Macabre) is an entertaining whodunit with a surprising final coda. The inquiry is intriguing, but the story line is at its best when the focus is on the classical music scene. Although at times the plot slows down even with time running out in terms of the lawsuit, fans will enjoy wondering who plays first and second violin in the Death and the Maiden.

Harriet Klausner

Ephemera-Jeffery M. Anderson

Jeffery M. Anderson
CreateSpace, May 4 2011, $15.99
ISBN: 9781453870815

As the Memorial Weekend beckons, the employees at The Reviewers Review magazine scramble to leave. Thirty-eight years old writer Nester Cab is chosen as the designated lock up for the holiday driver. Nester feels like he belongs in a different as his life is filled with ennui at home and at work. He hides behind cynical facades as only those disenchanted with the sham of the American nightmare can; even his cuckoo clock does not chant. His boss Aida knows him as the city’s biggest recluse while his excuse for not getting a drink outside the office with her is his review of Amblin’s review.

Cab finds a note left behind by an intruder addressed to him including his serial number to locate AWOL Corporal Forsythe who “knows where they are.” Although everyone except Aida and him are gone from the office, he assumes this is an inane prank. However, with nothing better to do after a few drinks, he begins a search for the missing soldier. His inquiry leads him to the violent Neo-Luddite Army whose leader Stillman holds Cab prisoner for indoctrination into the government-corporate conspiracies led by the real power in DC the Secretary of Commerce.

This extremely dark thriller is character driven by Cab’s disillusionment. Ironically it is easier to understand Stillman in spite of his irrational moments than it is the numbed indifferent Cab. Though not fast-paced, Ephemera is a thought provoking tale as readers will see the outcome of the Reagan legacy is the Eisenhower warning to beware of the government industrial military complex. To conceal reality, politicians use the mantra of Ephemera to assume the brain numbed public will quickly forget the hypocrisy and lies.

Harriet Klausner

The 34th Degree: A Thriller-Thomas Greanias

The 34th Degree: A Thriller
Thomas Greanias
Atria, Jun 28 2011, $24.00
ISBN: 9781451612394

In 1943 at the Monastery of the Taborian Light in Meteora, Greece, British and Nazi agents seek the Templar Globe, which contains the Maranatha text written by Paul, which predicts the return of Christ. The text apparently was used by the Byzantine Empire to develop the Greek Fire that ended the spread of Islam and centuries later when Constantinople fell, the Muslims looked everywhere for this scroll.

In the present Sam Deker struggles with civilian life in Los Angeles after being dishonorably discharged from the military (see The Promised War). He suffers from such severe nightmares that a sleep disorder clinic tests him. He learns the light wave torture he underwent as a prisoner changed him. Applying the Patriot Act, the Pentagon finds out about the condition of the disgraced former Ranger. They decide he is the only viable candidate to undergo the experimental the 34th Degree Neurosimulation of having brain cells implanted in his brain. In 1943 Chris Andros and Nazi General Ludwig von Berg competed in a deadly forum to gain the Maranatha text and the hand of beautiful Greek Aphrodite Vasilis. Now Deker is injected with tissues from long deceased von Berg and recently dead Andros; his mission, if he survives, is to discover what happened to the Maranatha text. The Alignment seeks the same text using the identical methodology.

This is an action-packed thriller that will remind readers of Trevor Hoyle’s Professor Q novels (seek Seeking the Mythical Future). The cast is stereotyped, including the heroes of 1943 and 2011, between the good, the bad and the evil. Still faster than the speed of light and filled with lethal competition in both eras, fans will enjoy Thomas Greanias’ exciting tale.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Vintage Connor: The Blonde in the Lotus Elite-Robert Baty

Vintage Connor: The Blonde in the Lotus Elite
Robert Baty
R. J. Buckley, May 7 2011, $19.00
ISBN: 9780981965475

Connor was an Oakland cop for twenty years. Retired from the force, he enjoys locating rare classic cars and attending shows especially the big one in Monterey.

Evie, a former girl friend from his early days at Oakland PD, arrives at his hose one night. She left him when she could not cope with the concept of marriage to a cop. Pleading with Connor, Evie begs him to look into the officially determined suicide of her daughter Janey in a motel during the annual Monterey classic car weekend. Grieving Evie rejects the coroner’s finding; instead she insists Janey was murdered. Connor and his former partner Vince Hendrix investigate what he assumes is denial. However, he begins to change his mind when evidence surfaces that makes Janey’s death more likely a homicide, but also that the mourning mom hides something critical from him.

This first super Vintage Connor investigative thriller is a throwback classic Noir containing a touch sleuth, a dame, classic cars and a corpse. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Little Evie arrives to rev up Connor’s “locomotion”; as once a cop always a cop. Action-packed, sub-genre fans will enjoy touring the vintage car world with Connor as our guide.

Harriet Klausner

Under Fire-Margaret McLean

Under Fire
Margaret McLean
Forge, Jun 21 2011, $24.99
ISBN: 9780765328144

Boston firefighters Jack and Andy charge through the black smoke as flames engulf the Senegalese market. They manage to get the owner, Amina and her fifteen years old son Diallo out of the inferno. However, someone shoots Jack.

The Boston Police Department arrest Amina as an arson-murderer. The detectives claim her motive was to collect insurance money since she was unable to make her mortgages. She shot and killed the first responder Jack to cover her torching of her store. Defense attorney Buddy Clancy convinces his niece, Sarah Lynch, who quit as a prosecutor after the fatal shooting of her lover, to defend Amina. Sarah has not been inside a courtroom in the four years since she left the prosecutor’s office. The media and the politicians including the governor hang Amina, which leads to mobs wanting to lynch her. However, as the uncle and niece team begin to find counter evidence, someone needs to insure a conviction even if that means assaulting witnesses for the defense.

This is an exiting legal thriller in which racism plays a significant role in the story line; in fact the jury is purposely hyperbole so that from the left and right are accentuated; perhaps too much. Although implausible incidents occur too frequently detracting from the tale, readers will enjoy Under Fire as justice is not blind or black and white, it is gray as agendas, prejudices and baggage play key roles.

Harriet Klausner

As The Crow Dies-Jason Starr

As The Crow Dies
Jason Starr
Bell Bridge, May 10 2011, $14.95
ISBN: 9781611940084

He lost both legs in Vietnam and realized during his first visit home to Coyote Springs, Texas over the 1968 Memorial Day weekend, he would never be treated the same. His neighbors greet him with pity, guilt and avoidance except for his dad and his friend Zach Merchant. The doctors at the Air Force Medical Center in San Antonio decide Jason’s stumps are too short to use prosthesis. His dad Theodore insists he can walk though starting as quarterback for the Cowboys is no longer a reality.

After completing therapy at “Willy”, he clumsily walks on his newly fitted prostheses. Theodore’s partner George Elspeth tells Jason his dad is dead. Police Detective Clyde Burker, who Jason played football with in high school, states his father committed suicide. Though kick butting is no longer an activity Jason can do, he knows his dad did not kill himself as Theodore was his biggest cheerleader and would not desert him at this time. Jason’s religious mom and his sister Debbie struggle with the police ruling. Jason tells his twin Leon who ran from the draft; his brother rejects suicide based on a chat with their dad last week. As Jason looks into why his dad killed himself, a second death occurs.

Jason is a great character as his struggles to make it as a double amputee in a world built for the norm so it is filled with obstacles for him. The amateur sleuthing is clever as Jason does not suddenly become a superhero but instead a walking with a hitch hero adjusting while investigating. He and the support cast who pity and avoid him or truly marvel at his walking make for a powerful timely historical thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Sizzle and Burn-Alexis Grant

Sizzle and Burn
Alexis Grant
St. Martin’s, Jun 28 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780312943035

A decade ago, Ryan Mason attended West Point while Mia Santiago went to Vassar. They met and fell in love, but each remained focus on their respective careers as they felt they were too young for anything serious.

Rising in esteem from her colleagues, seismologist Dr. Mia Santiago encounters Special Forces Captain Grant Mason at a scientific symposium. Terrorists want her to use her work in their deadly schemes. His job is to go undercover as an academic in order to protect scientists studying plate tectonics. He wants to tell her the truth that he is a soldier not a researcher because he loathes lying to his beloved, but her safety supersedes his needs.

This Men of Delta romantic suspense is an exciting thriller though the prime subplots don’t converge together until very late in the action. When the story line focuses on tectonic disasters or the second chance at love, Sizzle and Burn is great; when the terrorists take the stage the plot feels off kilter. Still with a deep look at a minority female from Spanish Harlem making it in the science world and the hero who wants to be at her side celebrating her triumphs with her, fans will enjoy Alexis Grant’s engaging tale.

Harriet Klausner

Betrayal of Trust-J. A. Jance

Betrayal of Trust
J. A. Jance
Morrow, Jul 5 2011, $25.99
ISBN: 9780061731150

Married couple J.P. “Beau” Beaumont and Mel Soames work for the for the Washington State Attorney General's Special Homicide Investigation Team in the burbs of Seattle. A video stars a smiling teen girl with a scarf around her neck; however, her smile is gone when the clip shows two males pulling the scarf strangulating her. S.H.I.T gets the investigation because the snuff film was found on a cell phone belonging to the fifteen years old Josh Deeson, grandson of Governor Marsha Longmire's husband Gerald Willis who has custody of the lad. Beau gets the lead because he went to high school with Governor “Old Mother Hubbard”.

The two cops know Deeson has a troubled past with his mom dead from an OD and his father an addict. The teen denies knowledge of the snuff film, but the murder weapon is found under his mattress in his “Prisoner of Zenda” room in the Governor’s mansions. Like his comments re the film, he denies knowing how the scarf ended in his school locker where he insists he found it. Beau and Mel as good cop bad cop put the pressure on him to tell them who the three other people besides the victim are. Deeson remains the prime suspect.

This is a terrific Beaumont whodunit (see Fire and Ice) that contains a strong police procedural while also focusing on troubled teen bullying, and related adult excuses and platitudes. Long time fans will relish the subplot involving Hank and Hannah (no giveaways as to who they are). However, it is the trademark homage to cops who try their best risking their lives to protect us that makes this a fabulous entry in a great series.

Harriet Klausner

The Ideal Man-Julie Garwood

The Ideal Man
Julie Garwood
Dutton, Aug 9 2011, $26.95
ISBN 9780525952251

In St. Louis, trauma surgeon Dr. Ellie Sullivan works at St. Vincent’s ER while also training residents; however, she leaves the hospital in a few days though the administration would agree to anything for her to stay. She begins her run in Cambridge Park thinking about her facing the ordeal of going home to Winston Falls, South Carolina to attend her sister’s wedding to Ellie’s former fiancé and the possibility that Evan the maniac will be in town. Shots are fired and FBI Agent Sean Goodman is hit. Ellie stops the bleeding so the victim can be rushed to St. Vincent ER to finish saving his life. Agents Tom Bradley and Max Daniels thank her and question her,

Ellie and Max are attracted to one another from the moment he learned she was the trauma expert and not a high school soccer player and she when she realized he had a self-deprecating sense of humor. Cal and Erika Landry are the gun dealers who escaped the Feds; they try to kill Ellie as she saw their faces while Evan the psycho stalker is free from prison planning a return engagement with Ellie. Max arrives at the Magnolia State wedding to protect witness Ellie so she can testify against the recently captured Landry duet, known for killing or frightening away anyone who fingers them.

Although the suspense is over the top of Sassafras Mountain with two stalkings, readers will enjoy this entertaining contemporary romance due to the sassy observant Ellie. The fast-paced story line grips the audience with Ellie’s trauma life saving work while also appreciating Max’s dedication to duty and his smile. This is a wonderful tale of two delightful heroes in love.

Harriet Klausner

Pampered to Death-Laura Levine

Pampered to Death
Laura Levine
Kensington, Aug 1 2011, $22.00
ISBN 9780758238474

To thank his next door neighbor for proving he did not commit a murder (see Death of a Trophy Wife), Lance Venerable pays for copywriter Jaine Austen and her cat Prozac to stay at the luxurious The Haven spa north of Los Angeles. However, the description of fancy does not quire fit as it is much smaller than Jaine expected and the towels showcase a bit of wear. The worst is a 900 calories a day starvation diet rigidly adhered to by spa owner Nazi Olga though Jaine bribes Delphine the maid into bringing her a pastrami.

The other guests include loquacious Cathy Kane who horded chump change for years to come here; spoiled B-level film star Mallory Francis who drives everyone including the storm-trooper and her staff crazy with her demands; and her unhappy retinue (Mallory's sister Kendra, her hairstylist Harvey, her former costar Clint, and her acrimonious Pekingese Armani) who want to return to civilization. Mango Mallory’s perpetual orders end when someone strangles her with seaweed. However, the homicide police quarantines everyone at the Haven. Going broke at thirty bucks a sandwich and tired of the so-called pampering (not), Jaine who has solved cases (see Killing Bridezilla) investigates before she dies of malnutrition.

The tenth Jaine Austen amateur sleuth is an engaging tongue in cheek (no food in the way) whodunit in which the clues to the homicide are spread like a buffer throughout the story line. The characters are entertainingly eccentric (that is to the armchair reader, but not to starving despondent Jaine). Although the inquisition lacks the subtly of previous cases with it’s in your face technique, fans will enjoy Pampered to Death.

Harriet Klausner

The Sauvignon Secret-Ellen Crosby

The Sauvignon Secret
Ellen Crosby
Scribner, Aug 16 2011, $24.00
ISBN 9781439163887

In Loudon County, Virginia wine importer and distributor Paul Noble hangs himself in the converted barn he owned. Vineyard owner Lucie Montgomery who just argued price with Noble over her Sauvignon Blanc and Cabaret Sauvignon is stunned to find Paul’s body hanging from a beam as she thinks how often she along with others in the wine industry wanted him dead figuratively not literally. Lucie calls 911 and County Sheriff Deputy Mathis, who has worked cases involving Lucie, arrives at the scene.

Lucie’s French grandfather Pépé arrives for a short visit before going on to Sonoma, California. Pépé’s friend Charles Thiessman pleads with and persuades Lucie to go to California to investigate whether Noble’s death was linked to his activities in the Bohemian Club during the Nixon Era. In Napa and Sonoma, Lucie joined by her former lover winemaker Quinn Santori make inquiries that lead to the Mandrake Society biochemists also from the Nixon period in which others like Noble have died; some four decades ago.

The latest wine country amateur sleuth mystery (see The Riesling Retribution and Viognier Vendetta) changes coastlines in a fresh Sauvignon story. Lucie and her support cast in Virginia and California are aged properly as they bring insight into winemaking and selling. The mystery is entertaining, but contains less suspense than usual. Still fans will toast Ellen Crosby for a fine tale.

Harriet Klausner

Sucker Punch-Jeremy Brown

Sucker Punch
Jeremy Brown
Medallion, Aug 1 2011, $14.95
ISBN 9781605422251

Warrior Incorporated President Banzai Eddie Takanori offers Aaron "Woodshed" Wallace a rematch on television against Junior Burbank, who he has defeated him once, his rival’s only loss. Wallace accepts the offer to fight Burbank again in two days as this is his chance to make it to star status.

Wallace’s trainer and mentor Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt Gil Hobbes and Eddie warn the champ to take it easy as he trains with Jairo, one of the Arcoverde brothers, from Rio. However Wallace owes a friend Lance for saving his life so he agrees to do it as a favor. He goes with Lance to meet a loan shark, but all hell breaks lose as if a no-holds barred unsanctioned brawl occurred. Now Woodshed is fighting for his life with Jairo’s Cousin Marcella having his back.

Round one is a super action-packed noir starring a charismatic MMA fighter and a strong retinue in his corner. Marcella is more than just a potential female throw in for Wallace; as she can fight with the skills of the better MMA warriors. Between the sanctioned fights, the training for the boys and the mob, readers will enjoy Wallace taking opponents to the woodshed.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, June 24, 2011

Deadly Cove-Brendan DuBois

Deadly Cove
Brendan DuBois
Minotaur, Jul 5 2011, $24.99
ISBN: 9780312566340

Following on the heels of the Kursk nuclear power plant in East Europe, the owners of Falconer nuclear power station on coastal New Hampshire announce they will begin construction on unit 2. Thousands of anti nuclear energy protesters gather near the Falconer nuclear power station. Covering the demonstrations are various media including Shoreline reporter Lewis Cole who used to work as a research analyst for the Department of Defense. Someone shoots and kills the “face” of the demonstrators, local activist Bronson Toles.

Having learned the truth about his employment as a monthly columnist by the new bottom line editor affirming his distrust of government officials, Cole assumes a cover-up will occur. He investigates starting with a look into the life of Curt Chesuk who heads both the Nuclear Freedom Front and the pro-nuclear New England Trade Union Council. Cole also takes a deep look at the victim’s family and other famous anti nuke protestors. As the demonstrations intensify in honor of Toles, Cole meets with Chesuk; unaware of the danger he places himself and his best friend Police Detective Sergeant Diane Woods in.

This is a great timely Cole investigative tale that grips readers from the moment Toles is assassinated and never slows with a cliffhanger that has excited readers waiting for round two wondering how Brendan DuBois will sustain the quality level. The story line is fast-paced but belongs to the hero who is pulled in two directions by a killer threatening the people he cares about if he fails to end his inquiry. Mr. DuBois is at his best, which says a lot as the Lewis Cole mysteries (see Primary Storm and Twilight) are consistently excellent.

Harriet Klausner

One Dog Night-David Rosenfelt

One Dog Night
David Rosenfelt
Minotaur, Jul 5 2011, $24.99
ISBN: 9780312647995

For six years, three months and twenty-one days, Noah Galloway waited in anguish for this moment. The FBI arrests Galloway for an arson fire that killed twenty-six people. He will miss his beloved Becky and their nursery school child Adam, but in some ways is glad the end is in sight.

A recovered drug addict, Noah asks Patterson, New Jersey defense attorney Andy Carpenter to defend him. Andy says no as he does not take many cases on and besides Noah attempted to break into his home sometime before the deadly inferno. However Noah uses the Tara card to retain Andy as his lawyer; before the attorney rescued his golden retriever Tara, Noah had saved the dog and arranged for Andy to adopt the canine. Although Noah believes he is guilty of the arson mass homicides, he insists he remembers nothing about the blaze due to his drug haze. As Andy plays the court to buy time for his client, his ‘team” investigates what happened over six years ago.

This is a great legal thriller starring New Jersey’s least enthused lawyer and his team of likable eccentrics who are crazier than usual. The story line is fast-paced from the moment the arrest is announced and never slows down until the final unlikely but endearing header. Series fans will relish one degree of Tara as the Retriever’s first rescuer is legally defended by the canine’s second rescuer.

Harriet Klausner

Chihuahua of the Baskervilles-Esri Allbritten

Chihuahua of the Baskervilles
Esri Allbritten
Minotaur, Jul 5 2011, $24.99
ISBN: 9780312569150

In Manitou Springs, Colorado, Charlotte Baskerville owns the successful dapper dog attire catalogue business, Petey’s Closet. Charlotte is stunned when she sees the late Petey her beloved Chihuahua. Needing confirmation that she is not going mad, Charlotte contacts failing Tripping Magazine who write about the paranormal.

Hoping to save the periodical that is nearing bankruptcy, the three person team arrives in Manitou Springs, home of a macabre coffin race, to allegedly investigate the ghost of Petey. Angus MacGregor the chief warns his two new hires, photographer Suki Oota and writer Michael Abernathy that regardless they are covering a “real” ghost story. However, none of the somewhat skeptical trio anticipates paw warning as they see Petey too. They also begin to find proof that someone wants Charlotte dead. While encouraging keeping their potentially paying “patron” alive, Angus reminds his team not to lose sight of the money, which is Petey’s ghost real or not is irrelevant.

With a nod to Scooby Doo Mystery, Inc. this amusing Colorado canine cozy caper is a fun frolic. The cast including the residents of Manitou Springs are an eccentric group whose antics add amusement and at times over the top of Pikes Peak to the story line. Readers who appreciate a dog-gone jocular mystery will enjoy the first Tripper Magazine investigation.

Harriet Klausner

Misterioso-Arne Dahl

Arne Dahl
Pantheon, Jul 12 2011, $25.95
ISBN: 9780375425356

Swedish Police Detective Paul Hjelm knows he would do nothing different as he expedited successfully a hostage situation that Internal Affairs is investigating. However, instead of being fired as he expects, Hjelm is reassigned to what is called the A Team, a new unit of the best of the best. Their mission is to find a serial killer who executes targeted businessmen in their respective homes with two bullets through the head before removing the shells from a wall while listening to Thelonius Monk’s Misterioso.

With the psychopath on a two day cycle, the A Team needs to find this predator. They connect dots between the victims and start focusing in on secret societies that seem to be the link of those “The Power Killer” assassinates. Hjelm, whose family life is shaky even before he worked 24/7 on this case, admires his colleagues like Jorge Chavez and pretty Kerstin Holm.

This exciting Swedish police procedural is fun to follow starting with the IA interrogation over shooting the Albanian immigrant from Kosovo holding hostages to avoid deportation and never slows down as Hjelm joins the A Team to capture the Power Killer. Readers will be fascinated by the serial killer who plays Monk’s Misterioso while committing the execution style homicides. Still Hjelm holds the story line together as a dedicated cop who has family so that readers find him realistic and appealing. .

Harriet Klausner

Acceptable Loss-Anne Perry

Acceptable Loss
Anne Perry
Ballantine, Aug 9 2011, $26.00
ISBN: 9780345510600

After years as an inquiry agent, William Monk is once again a police officer in charge of the Thames River Police at Wapping on the London docks. At night, boats containing children as cargo sail the river to satisfy the perversion of the affluent. Unknown to the pedophiles is that they are being photographed so that their supplier can blackmail them.

Monk believes that the pimp of one of the boats that is found floating in the river was murdered due to a disagreement; as was another one a few months earlier. A nothing crook Mickey Parfitt was strangled to death by an expensive silk cravat used as a garrote. The scarf belongs toPolire Society member Rupert Cardew who denies murdering Parfitt even though he admits to participating in activities on the boat. The cop believes the man lacks the brains to run this operation. He follows clues that lead to an arrest of a highly regarded member of society. Monk’s friend attorney Oliver Rathbone, believes the suspect might be guilty though he defends him to the best of his ability.

Though the protagonist is back on the force, the latest Monk historical mystery once again affirms the Victorian Era class distinctions between the classes when it comes to crime and punishment; as the law is sold when it comes to the wealthy aristocracy and brutal to the middle class and the poor. Anne Perry uses strong characterizations to make her late nineteenth century argument that justice is for sale. However, this is Monk’s case as he is a hound on the scent of the killer allowing nothing to intrude, not even his wife, until the case is closed.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Goodie One Shoes-Roz Siegel

Goodie One Shoes
Roz Siegel
Hilliard and Harris, May 18 2011, $18.95
ISBN 9781591333113

Following the breakup of her “perfect” marriage to Larry the lawyer following his tryst with the Russian, Emily puts aside her Ph.D. to return to her roots sort of by opening an exclusive shoe store in Manhattan’s 'elite Upper West Side; her dad had a shoe store for twenty-five years in Brooklyn. Emily’s Place on 98th and Broadway becomes a hangout for shoe aficionados that run the social economic spectrum as the coffee is quality, the chats charming, and the merchandise spans the luxurious and the bargain.

However, someone kicks Emily’s perfect world when her sweet assistant Kim Chang is murdered; the weapon is a Jimmy Choo stiletto whose matching pair is missing. NYPD suspects Emily as a potential killer as she had means and opportunity though a viable motive fails to surface. The lead police detective Paul Murphy worries that the footwear fetish fiend will target Emily next. Soon after the homicide, the culprit threatens Emily through snail and email. Finally the other Choo arrives followed by the murder of Emily’s maid.

This is a fun Manhattan murder mystery starring a beleaguered woman who is under all sorts of pressure from the cops, family members, customers, a former fired employee and her late worker. The story line is lighthearted and fast-paced as Emily’s still hippie sister and her still married spouse make demands of her. However, it is her demands of herself to find Kim’s Choo killer that make for a lighthearted entertaining New York frolic.

Harriet Klausner

We All Fall Down-Michael Harvey

We All Fall Down
Michael Harvey
Knopf, Jul 12 2011, $24.95
ISBN: 9780307272515

Two scientists inform the Chicago Mayor Wilson and Homeland Security agent Danielson that the “Canary” bio-warning device in a subway tunnel has detected a pathogen. Danielson uses the death of FBI Agent Lawson to force private investigator Michael Kelly to cooperate. He is blackmailed into serving as security by accompanying biologists Dr. Ellen Brazile and Dr. Molly Carrolton to the locale of the alarm to test and hopefully prove a false positive reading occurred.

Kelly has issues why HSD especially the FBI is not in the tunnels instead of a mercenary. However, they prove to late when a pathogen is released from a light bulb into the subway city leaving the potential to turn Chicago into a gigantic wasteland morgue. People begin to die while the Feds, state and city officials argue over what to do beyond quarantining Chicago. On his own initiative Kelly investigates which leads him to gangs and top secret labs where superbugs are created.

This is a great complex yet action-packed thriller with an incredibly dynamic last twist that never slows down as time is running out on the city. The story line grips the reader who appreciatively (from an armchair) accompanies Michael as he heroically tries to prevent a disaster from turning pandemic. The least Kelly investigation (see The Third Rail, The Chicago Way and The Fifth Floor) is a great tale.

Harriet Klausner

Eyewall-H.W. “Buzz” Bernard

H.W. “Buzz” Bernard
BelleBooks, May 15 2011, $14.95
ISBN: 9781611940015

Hurricane Janet is predicted to be a category one when it hits the Georgia coast and barrier islands like St. Simons Island over the Labor Day weekend. Still though St. Simons has not felt the fury of a major hurricane in ages, officials suggest people leave for the mainland though many remain on the island.

Trish and Alan Grant decide to leave when the weather begins to turn ugly. However, one of their two children fifteen years old Sandy is missing; apparently meeting a boy she met on the internet. With their eight years old son Lee they search for their daughter. At the same time Air Force Hurricane Hunters Major Arlen Walker and Captain Karlyn Hill send back data from the Eyewall of the storm while they and the rest of the crew feel like The Charge of the Light Brigade; the Hurricane Center believes Janet is a category one. However, the new information may be too late to prevent a Katrina like disaster.

With a nod to Karen Harper’s Hurricane and 1992’s Andrew, retired Weather Channel meteorologist H.W. "Buzz" Bernard provides a tense thriller as a Catastrophic storm assaults the Georgia coast. Hurricane Janet is seen though the eyes of the Grant family battered and trapped on a resort island though the daughter angle is a bit overly melodramatic and the air force crew caught inside the Eyewall. Exciting from the moment the cast realizes this is not the predicted Minimal Category 1, readers will root for the heroic men and women (and hiss at Walker’s incredulous cartoonish spouse), but the story line is owned by Janet.

Harriet Klausner

Creep-Jennifer Hillier

Jennifer Hillier
Gallery (Simon & Schuster), Jul 5 2011, $23.00
ISBN: 9781451625844

Puget Sound University’s Professor of Psychology Sheila Tao and her teaching assistant Ethan Wolfe are having an affair although she is to soon marry Texas financier Morris Gardener. Sheila needs to end the tryst immediately, but struggles to do so not because of some love for her TA. Instead she belongs to Sex Addicts Anonymous; something her fiancé and her lover fail to know.

Ethan manipulates the human behavior expert by playing on her lust when they are alone and on her guilt when they not. The pair has been together for three months, but time has run out for Sheila. She abruptly vanishes without a trace and her suspicious fiancé fails to gain any help from the Seattle police even though he fears foul play occurred. The affluent Texan hires a private eye whose investigation uncovers the ugly side of Sheila who finds she cannot let go of Ethan by just saying goodbye.

Creep is a fascinating yet terrifying psychological thriller mindful of the movie Fatal Attraction. Ironically none of the lead triangle comes across as nice though readers will empathize with the professor’s addiction, which is deftly handled to provide insight to the condition while being the enabler to set the dysfunctional relationships. Although too much happenstance occurs, sub-genre fans will appreciate the taut tale wondering who amongst the Professor, the Financier and the Creep will be left standing.

Harriet Klausner


Cat in a Vegas Gold Vendetta-Carole Nelson Douglas

Cat in a Vegas Gold Vendetta
Carole Nelson Douglas
Forge, Aug 2 2011, $24.99
ISBN: 9780765327468

Las Vegas Public relations guru Temple Barr receives the shock of her life when she gets a call from overseas. Her former fiancé Max Kinsella lost his memory when he was injured by killers while looking for the evil Synth organization. Temple believed he died though he was actually an MIA. She picks him up at the airport and helps him settle in town. The next day Temple picks up her current fiancé Matt Devine; he feels insecure with Max back from the dead.

To get her mind focused on something besides the two men in her life, Temple accepts commercial actress Savannah Ashleigh’s commission to investigate who killed her dying aunt’s handyman. While she works the case, Captain Molina is interested in finding the Barbie Doll killer dubbed that ever he left next to his victims. The room of Molina’s daughter had one in it though she doesn’t play with them. Temple finds a link between the two cases which puts her life in danger from a psychopath while her leading man Midnight Louie has her back.

This Midnight Louie feline sleuth is a terrific meticulously complex whodunit with several suspects keeping things interesting for an already emotionally overloaded Temple. Ironically Max insists Temple is not his type though when he had his memory he was madly in love with her. Temple wants Max healed but believes her life is with doubting Matt. As her personal life turns even more convoluted if possible since Cat in an Ultramarine Scheme by the three M males, the murder case in which she becomes a target seems mentally safer.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

So Sensitive-Anne Rainey

So Sensitive
Anne Rainey
Kensington Aphrodisia, Jul 1 2011, $14.00
ISBN: 9780758239006

Gracie Baron has ignored the flattering emails from an unknown person whose closing salutation is “Your Admirer”. That changes when someone purposely forces her off the road, severely injuring her. She admits an unknown dangerous person stalks her.

For several months, private investigator Wade Harrison has been asking his friend’s assistant Gracie on a date, but she always says no. When Wade learns of the accident, he refuses to take no for an answer as he moves in with her to keep her safe. When the attacks increase, Wade concludes the predator knows Gracie personally as her adversary seems aware of too much info for a stranger to possess. Wade eventually persuades Gracie to accept him as her loving Dom and she is his cherished Sub, but first comes her safety.

So Sensitive is a fabulous erotic romantic suspense as Wade and Gracie make a wonderful couple while the unknown stalker adds tension to the entertaining story line. Even with the BDSM encounters preoccupying his lower head, Wade leaves some blood in his upper head as he never loses sight of his missions to win Sarah’s heart (he has her vagina) and to end a predator’s terrorizing of his beloved Sub.

Harriet Klausner

The Wild Hog Murders-Bill Crider

The Wild Hog Murders
Bill Crider
Minotaur, Jul 5 2011, $24.99
ISBN: 9780312641498

The state of Texas struggles to control a regional form of swine flu as wild hogs run rampart destroying farms and much more. Mother and son Janice and Andy Chandler open up an animal shelter in Blacklin County where they welcome even hogs, which upsets their neighbors; one so much so the person leaves behind a slaughtered animal “Babe” on their steps.

Someone fails to pay for gas at a convenience store. Blacklin County Sheriff Dan Rhodes and Deputy Ruth Grady search in the woods for the culprit, but instead find a corpse. As the sheriff investigates the body, talk-show host Milton Munday wants Rhodes skinned alive, the anti hog vigilante mob wants his hide and bounty hunter Hoss Rapinski follows his every step. Meanwhile county commissioners blames the stoic sheriff for the hog problem while his wife puts him on a green diet and the most incompetent performing gang (Rapper and Nellie) has come back to cause trouble.

The latest Blacklin County police procedural (see Murder in the Air) is an excellent tale as Rhodes is at his clam witty best. The investigation is superb while the politicians play loose with the facts. Fast-paced with satire, slapstick and subtle humor throughout, fans will enjoy this jocular intelligent murder mystery as Texans are going wild over being hogtied.

Harriet Klausner

Abyss -David Hagberg

David Hagberg
Forge, Jun 21 2011, $24.99
ISBN: 9780765324108

NOAA scientist Dr. Eve Larsen and her multinational team are conducting experiments to harness currents off the Florida coast in the Gulf Stream as a means to create a new cheap energy source. She believes she has developed the technology to reduce the reliance on oil, end global warming and eliminate monstrous storms; the world supports her research with trillions.

Contract killer Brian DeCamp enters the Hutchinson Island Nuclear Power Station with plans to cause a meltdown exponentially worse than Chernobyl. Former CIA director Kirk McGarvey, still grieving over the recent deaths of his son, wife and daughter (see Cabal), prevents the disaster from occurring. However, Big Oil has turned to the Gulf Stream experiment to insure that ocean current power fails.

McGarvey still grieves the deaths of his loved ones, but keeping Eve and her technology safe gives the dedicated retired agent a reason to return to the living as once a field operative always a filed operative. Action-packed from the onset and overall fast-paced though some stretches of the story line seem decelerated, readers will enjoy the return of psychologically damaged McGarvey as the Caribbean assignment allows him to move on a little though he will take to his grave the pain of the deaths of his wife and adult children.

Harriet Klausner

Steal the Show -Thomas Kaufman

Steal the Show
Thomas Kaufman
Minotaur, Jul 5 2011, $24.99
ISBN: 9780312546328

Rush Gemelli asks D.C private investigator Willis Gidney to break into a warehouse in Alexandria. Gidney refuses, but changes his mind as business has been poor lately and he needs money to adopt the two-year-old abandoned girl Sarah he rescued from a fire. Gemelli believes Gidney will find film piracy inside the warehouse.

Just as he was told, Gidney finds an operation burning DVDs. Two Asian gunmen see him, but Gidney escapes. Gemelli blackmails the sleuth to assist his father Chuck, a former White House aide who is the Motion Picture Alliance Council chief lobbyist. Already feeling like a sucker, things turn worse for Gidney when Chuck’s former partner is murdered with him as the fall guy while gangs want him dead.

This terrific private investigative tale uses Sarah to lighten Gidney’s edge yet also makes the case that a hard-boiled single sleuth is not quite what social worker Walters has in mind for the toddler. Fans will enjoy Gidney’s efforts to extract himself from the mess he has nose dived into (with talc all over him) as Thomas Kaufman provides an engaging DC noir (see Drink the Tea).

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Hot, Shot and Bothered-Nora McFarland

Hot, Shot and Bothered
Nora McFarland
Touchstone, Aug 2 2011, $14.99
ISBN: 9781439155561

In Bakersfield, KJAY TV news shooter (photographer) Lilly Hawkins is known for her independence as she does not always heed her boss’ orders. Currently, she covers the out of control deadly wildfire in the Sierra Madre Mountains. When the divers bring a drowned corpse out of the water, Lily ignores that as she is focused on capturing the inferno.

Her interest changes when she learns the drowning victim is Jessica Egan who Lily knew years ago as dedicated environmentalist. Now everyone who knew Jessica thought she was a party girl with a different man every night. Her brother calls Jessica a whore. Lily thinks Jessica was murdered because she could not have dived due to an injured shoulder. Told by her superior to concentrate on the blaze heading to the town of Elizabeth Lake, Lily investigates Jessica’s life, but soon finds a link to the blaze and people who will kill again to protect their secrets.

This journalistic investigative tale is sharp and scintillating due to intrepid Lily. Her instincts and skills allow her to uncover the truth based on the assumption that the victim was not a loose bimbo. The support cast including the raging wildfire is enablers who turn Lily into a hero or perhaps the second corpse of a bimbo if the culprits have their way.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, June 19, 2011

A Sheetcake Named Desire-Jacklyn Brady

A Sheetcake Named Desire
Jacklyn Brady
Berkley, Aug 2 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425242742

Two years have passed since pastry chef Rita Lucero and chef Phillipe Renier legally separated. Now Rita demands Phillipe sign the divorce papers. Instead he ignores her requests not returning her attempts at contacting him nor that of her lawyer. Exasperated that her appeals to him failed, Rita travels to New Orleans to confront Phillipe.

At Phillipe’s place of business, a cake is sabotaged and he is killed with a chef's knife protruding from his back. Rita learns someone has tried to destroy his shop over the past four months. After talking with the police, Rita fixes the cake. Afterward she goes with a detective to inform her mother-in-law Miss Frankie that her son is dead. Grief stricken Miss Frankie asks Rita run Zydeco in order to find the killer. Rita is the sole beneficiary since she was still married to Phillipe who had no will. Miss Frankie hopes her widowed daughter-in-law remains in New Orleans as she has a house and a high end cake business. However, as she deals with running Zydeco loking for a killer and a saboteur, her husband’s killer watches Rita’s activity.

A Sheetcake Named Desire is a combination amateur sleuth tale inside of a family drama. Rita’s sleuthing is fun to follow though it is standard sub-genre fare including the title; but the relationships the heroine has (and had) bring freshness to the entertaining whodunit. Readers will learn who Phillipe was by comparing the relative filtered opinion of those who knew him like his mom, employees, and widow. Readers will relish Jacklyn Brady who bakes an engaging first entry starring a heroine who takes the cake.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Killing Song-P.J. Parrish

The Killing Song
P.J. Parrish
Pocket, Jul 26 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9781439189368

Thirtyish Pulitzer Prize nominee Miami Herald investigative reporter Matt Owens feels disconnected from everyone because he rebuffed anyone who tried to get close to him. The only person he feels a tie to is his younger sister Mandy who is visiting him. On her last night in town, he takes her to a club, tragedy strikes when she disappears from the dance floor and her body found shortly afterward.

After Mandy’s funeral, Matt listens to his sister’s BlackBerry when he realizes one of the downloads is by the killer. The song is a clue to a previous homicide of an American woman in Paris. Matt goes to France but gains no information. When another American is murdered, Inspector Eve Bellamont joins forces with Matt as she has hunted this serial killer since she worked the first known case five years ago. Clues take them to London and Scotland where they learn of more murders. They travel back to Paris where they remain determined to end the killing spree even if that alienates local authorities.

A combo investigative thriller and police procedural, The Killing Song focuses on a creepy serial killer who will fascinate readers in a macabre way. Eve and Matt play off each other’s strengths including turning their weaknesses into strengths as both share the obsession, which enables them to become friends rather quickly; though one must wonder what will happen to their friendship if the link is removed. Filled with action and a strong cast, fans of P.J. Parrish’s Louis Kincaid mysteries will relish the new guy on the block.

Harriet Klausner

All The Pretty Hearses-Mary Daheim

All The Pretty Hearses
Mary Daheim
Morrow, Aug 9 2011, $23.99
ISBN: 9780061351587

The owner of Hillside Manor Judith McMonigle Flynn is upset and angry when her mother tells her that her husband Joe was arrested and taken away in handcuffs. Joe, a retired police detective turned private investigator was watching a man on a houseboat to see if the person was confined to a wheelchair or committing fraud. The insurance case closed when someone killed the target with a Smith and Wesson.

Joe’s gun is the murder weapon, which obviously means he is the prime suspect. Judith knows something else is going on because Joe fails to ask for a lawyer and the police refuse to respond to her questions. To take her mind off Joe’s problems, she works diligently to get her B&B ready for the Paine family gathering hosted by Judith who donated the weekend at the school auction bought by the matriarch of the clan. The various members don’t get along and Zachery gets ill; his wife takes him home. In a strange twist, the body of the shooting victim turns out to be Zachery, which makes Judith wonder who the man at her house was. She starts sleuthing and learns secrets about Joe’s predicament, the Paine activities and the ulterior motives of two families staying at the B&B. Teaming up with her cousin Rennie, Judith finds out why Joe is in police custody, which fails to explain why her B&B guests contain plenty of criminals who have tentacles into the state government.

As usual, Mary Daheim writes a great cozy filled with red herrings and false leads. A number of people at the B&B are using the place for reasons they keep secret, but Judith figures out who an innocent guest is and who has agendas. All The Pretty Hearses is a super amateur sleuth with great characterizations and a delightful mystery filled with red herrings and unexpected twists.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Shadows on the Sand-Gayle Roper

Shadows on the Sand
Gayle Roper
Multnomah, Jul 19 2011, $13.99
ISBN: 9781601420848

In Seaside, New Kersey, Carrie and Lindsay Carter run Carrie’s Café. The thirtyish Carrie is attracted to former cop and widower Greg Barnes, an early morning customer at the café, but he shows no indication he reciprocates. Both have had traumas in their life with she being a child abuse victim and his wife and children died three years ago in an explosion; so neither is capable of taking that first step. Greg is attacked, which awakens his cop instincts for the first since his family tragically died and much more when Carrie tends to his injuries.

Someone murders one of the dishwashers and a waitress vanishes. Greg’s gut thinks someone from his past has come to haunt him and anyone remotely in his sphere. He and Carrie investigate allowing each to reveal to the other their desires and fears, but both ponder whether they can take their attraction to the next level.

The first Seaside mystery is an exciting thriller starring two wounded warriors attracted to one another as an external threat breaks down their barriers. Carrie and Greg are terrific characters as each has to come to grips with their respective pasts including their anger at God though more so Greg as Carrie has used distance from her mom to forgive her mom but Lindsay hugs their mom. With a strong mystery and a deep character study, fans will appreciate Gayle Ropers engaging return to Seaside, New Jersey; the setting of the Seaside Seasons series (see Spring Rain).

Harriet Klausner

Murder by Mocha-Cleo Coyle

Murder by Mocha
Cleo Coyle
Berkley, Aug 2 2011, $25.95
ISBN: 9780425241431

In the Village is the popular Village Blend coffeehouse managed by Clare Cosi and owned by her mother-in-law Madame DuBois. It was Madame’s idea to go into business with her friend Alicia Bower to sell the drink for Aphrodite’s Village Online. They market a new java, Mocha Magic Coffee, using the Blend’s coffee beans, Voss’ chocolate, and an herbal aphrodisiac. When Madame and Clare meet with Alicia at the hotel, Claire has a feeling trouble is brewing.

The man Alicia was seeing is found dead in their bed, blood everywhere and a knife protruding from his chest. When the police arrive, there is no body and Clare realizes fake blood was used to scare Alicia. When the drink is introduced at a special gala, Clare finds the corpse of Patrice Stone who demanded a share of the profits of the new drink and worked for Aphrodite's Village. As other members of the popular online business is killed or arrested, Clare searches in the shadows for the perpetrator orchestrating these events.

Every Coffeehouse amateur sleuth (see Roast Mortem) is a specially blended mystery with the latest entry affirming that opinion as the key characters are fully developed inside of an action-packed series. Single mom Clare holds the percolating story line together as she courageously and foolishly searches for the murderous culprit. Series fans learn a bit more about the people in her life like her daughter Joy, her lover Mike, her former husband, his mom Madame, and the battling baristas. Filled with twists, used coffee beans and false leads, readers will wonder who the killer is (over mocha).

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Guilty as Sin-Joseph Teller

Guilty as Sin
Joseph Teller
Mira, Jun 21 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780778312338

In the 1980s, starting as a teenager Alonzo Barnett was a repeat offender until he finally went straight. However, recently he was busted by the cops for allegedly selling drugs. Three lawyers defend him but each quits.

The court assigns attorney Harrison J. Walker as Barnett’s latest public defender. Harrison J. Walker realizes quickly the evidence is overwhelming as his client is guilty. However, Jaywalker wonders why the District Attorney has pulled out the biggest guns on a relatively minor case. As Jaywalker digs deeper, he finds strange ties to the FBI and crimes much worse than a simple drug bust. However, he also uncovers the real ethical dilemma of the case which goes back to Barnett’s time behind bars.

The fifth Jaywalker legal thriller (see Overkill, Bronx Justice and The Tenth Case) is as always an insightful exhilarating case as the heroic always in contempt lawyer takes on the sure loser hoping he is Buster Douglas. This time Jaywalker works on a defense for a kindhearted client who openly confesses he did the crime. Told mostly in flashbacks, fans will enjoy Jaywalker’s courtroom antics as he uses the dysfunctional jurisprudence system’s myopia to make a case for a not guilty verdict.

Harriet Klausner

The Dark Enquiry-Deanna Raybourn

The Dark Enquiry
Deanna Raybourn
Mira, Jun 21 2011, $14.95
ISBN: 9780778312376

After taking the Dark Road to Darjeeling, Nicholas Brisbane and Lady Julia Grey marry in London. Whereas she wants to be his detecting partner, he wants her safe. However, he knows he must walk carefully or his brave wife will hang up a detective shingle of her own.

Julia's prim and proper sibling Lord Bellmont hires his new brother-in-law to help him with a mess that he demands a pledge of silence from Nicholas. Julia knows her sibling is in trouble and will not sit on the sidelines. The inquiry leads to Madame Seraphine at the Ghost Club and from there into the newspapers. As the newlyweds argue over Lady Julia’s role, the Brisbane pair and their client are in trouble as someone begins to kill to keep a dark secret hidden.

The latest Lady Grey now Brisbane late Victorian mystery (see Silent in the Sanctuary, Silent on the Moor) is a fascinating tale that breaks gender lines for that time and place. The story line starts a bit slow as the heroine pontificates, but once her brother seeks assistance, the plot accelerates into a fast-paced action-packed historical thriller as the case turns deadly. Readers will enjoy the merging of detecting properly as the two sleuths in love work on their dysfunctional professional relationship which impacts their personal relationship.

Harriet Klausner

Heart of Evil-Heather Graham

Heart of Evil
Heather Graham
Mira, Jun 28 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780778329985

Civil War buffs love the Donegal Plantation in the Louisiana Bayou. Reenactments further enhance the site as a popular attraction. However, rumors abound that Donegal Planation is also home to ghosts, which increase the high regard by people wanting to come to the estate.

During an enactment, actor Charles Osgood goes missing. The search for him fails to find him so Plantation manager Ashley Donegal informs parish police officer Drew Montague who scorns her for her concern. The next day Ashley finds Charles’ murdered body reenacting a Civil War scene. Upset with the death and fearing more to follow Ashley vows to prevent any more killings. Her late ancestor provides her with clues. Also helping her solve the case is her ex-lover, Jake Mallory and his paranormal forensics team including Jackson Crow as each wonders if the killer is living or otherwise.

The latest Krewe of Hunters (see Phantom Evil) is a dark haunting paranormal thriller that grips the audience once the large cast is set. The story line is atmospherically spooky as only Heather Graham consistently does in the Bayou. The war between the dead and their descendants grips the enthralled readers as Heart of Evil makes for a taut otherworldly investigative mystery with a secondary romantic subplot enhancing the superb supernatural suspense.

Harriet Klausner

Serial-John Lutz

John Lutz
Pinnacle, Aug 1 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780786020270

Millie Graff comes home only to find a man inside. This psychopath tortured her for hours before killing her. New York City Police Commissioner Harley Renz takes Frank Quinn of Quinn and Associates to the crime scene. When Quinn sees the victim he becomes irate as he knows her. When Millie was eight she was trapped inside a car about to explode, but Quinn rescued her. Both the Commissioner and Quinn believe a serial killer has just started his gruesome obsession.

After three more murders with the same M.O. the media dubs the serial killer the Skinner because he peels off layers of epidermis from his victims while they are alive. The females have a male’s name written in the bathroom. A good investigation discovers that the names match males who belong to an S&M club that closed years ago. That lead turns into a red herring when Quinn learns the victims testified against the men they thought raped them. DNA proved none were guilty and all were released from prison. The Skinner was accused of rape and intends to kill his accuser; his previous homicides are diabolically planned to hide a tree in the forest. Quinn learns the Skinner works alone except for one murder.

John Lutz provides a strong twisting investigative serial killer starring a brilliant twister predator and a determined hero trying to end the perpetrator’s reign of terror. The villain tosses red herrings at his antagonist (and readers), which adds to the suspense. Fans anticipate a showdown between the evil Skinner who knows right from wrong yet acts as an evil demon who doe not care about collateral damage Quinn who has personalized the chase as an avenging angel.

Harriet Klausner

The Sixes-Kate White

The Sixes
Kate White
Harper, Aug 2 2011, $24.99
ISBN: 9780061576621

After being accused of plagiarism and subsequently dumped by her long time lover, Phoebe Hall leaves Manhattan to go to the sleepy town of Lyle, Pennsylvania. Her best friend Glenda Johns heads the private college and hired Phoebe to teach a couple of classes.

The campus is in an uproar when the body of student Lily Marks is recovered from a nearby river. Several months ago the deceased’s boyfriend disappeared and was never heard from since. Wesley, a student at the school, was at a bar; the next thing he knew he was swimming for his life. Glenda tries to control negative publicity, but asks Phoebe to look into the rumors of a deadly secret society called the Sixes. Something Lily said to her before she died makes Phoebe believe the late student belonged to the Sixes. She also believes the group targets her by breaking into her home and leaving behind six spoons on the table and another time putting blood in her the dishwasher while she sleeps; blood and soap pours out of the appliance. They top that mischief with six dead rats in her freezer. Refusing to be a victim or a runaway, Phoebe investigates who killed the students and the college security chief.

Putting aside the premise that Lily would her life to help her best friend when at least one homicide occurred rather than hiring a professional, this amateur sleuth tale contains two equal suspenseful subplots: the students’ murders and finding out if the Sixes exist and if so who the members are. The people at the college she speaks to may be part of the Sixes so Phoebe risks her life to uncover the truth as some of those refusing to talk may be lethal while others afraid. Kate White provides a chilling disturbing thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, June 13, 2011

Trespasser-Paul Doiron

Paul Doiron
Minotaur, Jun 21 2011, $24.99
ISBN: 9780312558475

In Maine, Game Warden Mike Bowditch receives a call about a deer-auto accident on an isolated road. By the time Bowditch arrives at the scene, he finds blood on the road and the car nearby, but the woman and the deer are gone. Soon afterward the corpse of the female is found elsewhere.

Her case reminds Bowditch of one from several years ago when a jury convicted lobsterman Erland Jefferts of the rape and murder of a wealthy college student and sentenced him to life in prison. As Bowditch makes inquiries, State officials warn him to mind his business. However, his life is already in shambles as he has little hope to regain his lost relationship with his girlfriend Sarah so he does not care what happens to him or his in the tank career. However, what he failed to factor in is his below the radar investigation places Sarah in peril.

The second Bowditch police procedural (see The Poacher’s Son) is an excellent Maine “mud season” whodunit. As Mike tries to regain his muddied personal equilibrium, he works a murky case that his superiors tell him to back away from for his own good. With a strong support cast and a troubled but dedicated lead, fans will appreciate this exhilarating tense regional mystery.

Harriet Klausner

Killer in Control-Dorothy Francis

Killer in Control
Dorothy Francis
Five Star, Jul 6 2011, $25.95
ISBN: 9781432825027

Marshalltown, Iowa Police Sergeant Kitt Morgan and her partner Hank Burdock were working a pet shot robbery in progress when one of the perpetrators pulled out what looked like a gun. Kitt fired in self-defense. However, with any shooting, an inquiry is conducted so she is placed on paid administrative leave. Rather than sit around waiting for the Civilian Review Board verdict and considering her late father’s pride of never firing his gun while over three decades on the force, she takes up her sister Janell’s offer to stay with her and her husband Rex at their Poinsettia B&B in Key West.

Janell asks Kitt to investigate the death of a guest Abra Barrie who washed ashore on the beach. The Key West Police Detectives believe someone associated with the Poinsettia killed the woman perhaps over her link to wind turbines. Kitt wonders whether the retiree, the gardener, or one of the music trio players is the killer. However, the only person caught lying about his alibi is her brother-in-law. When Kitt realizes Hella the retiree is a psychic, she asks her to help name the murderer only she is killed by the predator.

This an engaging Key West whodunit in which the Conch Republic owns the story line (see The Conch Shell Murder). The cast is solid especially with bringing to life Key West as does the siblings’ inquiry into the Barrie homicide. Although Janell acts more like the experienced cop than her sister who behaves like a scared skittish kitten than a veteran police officer, fans will enjoy vacationing on Key West.

Harriet Klausner

Family Skeletons-Bobbie O'Keefe

Family Skeletons
Bobbie O'Keefe
Five Star, Jul 6 2011, $25.95
ISBN: 9781432824990

Laurel “Sunny” Corday lives in San Francisco with her BFF Ryan who is starting a relationship with Marcus. She inherited a Victorian mansion to the north in Chester Beach from her late estranged father Franklin. However, Jonathan Corday, a cousin so distant she can’t count the degrees of separation, also was named as a beneficiary. They meet when their cars collide on a narrow road and later at the mansion, but she conceals who she is from him because of a nasty crack he made to Sunny about Laurel being a twit with two ex husbands and tabloid star status.

Several assaults on Sunny occur that worries Jonathan and Ryan. They become further concerned when a baseball bat with dried body is found and the remains of a once buried skeleton surfaces. As the police investigate and the distant cousins fall in love, Sunny knows her late father’s womanizing is the link, but is unsure how.

This entertaining thriller is a fun fast-paced tale as Corday Family Skeletons figuratively and literally appear. The support cast is solid while the lead protagonists are a nice pairing of starch and spice. Although Sunny’s attitude after being shot at and pushed down a cliff seems to blasé, fans will enjoy this exiting romantic suspense as the late Franklin’s past haunts his daughter.

Harriet Klausner

Carte Blanche-Jeffery Deaver

Carte Blanche
Jeffery Deaver
Simon & Schuster, Jun 14 2011, $26.99
ISBN: 9781451620696

9/11 changed the world as international terrorist groups focused on civilian targets. The Bush Doctrine based on the premise of taking the global war on terrorism to the enemy led to the Afghanistan war in which agents like thirtyish 007 James Bond operated. However, Great Britain understood the Cold War agencies like M15, M16 and MOD remain critical, but not set up to deal with non-nation terrorism. Thus a new agency Overseas Development Group was created to take the war to the enemy using any technique necessary.

Government Communications Headquarters cryptographers decode electronic messages that affirm a major attack planned for sometime this week with thousands expected dead. M16 feels the center of the threat is in Afghanistan. A Night Alert assigns Agent 007 Carte Blanche to save lives. Bond knows the key immediate enemy needing rendition or death is the brilliant operational expert The Irishman, but stopping him will only delay the assault. As time runs out, 007 focuses on the Irishman, but also knows he needs to capture the money behind the pending attack. However, Severan Hydt has numerous refuse layers to protect him as he seeks international decay.

Avoiding the Fleming lite of recent Bond novels, Jeffery Deaver reinvents 007 in a contemporary world in which the Cold War is history. However, though Bond is modernized, trademark elements that denote the character and the espionage thrillers he starred on remain. Mr. Deaver includes the Bond girls with inane names (though the hero is more sensitive to their needs), the wheels, the drink, but he gave up smoking, the over the top of Big Ben villains, and Carte Blanch license to kill. However, as with the originals, it is the countdown suspense that makes Mr. Deaver’s Bond a wonderful heir apparent to Mr. Fleming’s Bond (except for purist Boomers who will say no to any doctoring).

Harriet Klausner

The Vintage Vendetta-Ellen Crosby

The Vintage Vendetta
Ellen Crosby
Pocket, August 2011, $7.99\

Twelve years have passed since vintner Lucie Montgomery heard from her former best friend at college Rebecca Natale. So she is understandably shocked when Rachel calls her and asks to meet her in Washington DC. She will put her up at a nice hotel that she can afford since she is the protégé of billionaire investor Sir Thomas Asher.

Lucie arrives at the hotel, but is told to meet Rebecca at the Lincoln memorial. The Virginia vintner knows Rebecca wants something from her, but cannot fathom what that could be. Rebecca stuns Lucie further when all she asks is for her friend to come to the showing of Asher donating his document collection to the Library of Congress. Lucie agrees to attend and Rebecca buys postcards before saying bye. Soon after their meeting, Rebecca vanishes with a valuables antique stolen during the ransacking of the White House in the War of 1812. Meanwhile whistle blower Ian Phillips, who insisted Asher's investments are a Ponzi scheme fraud, is found dead. Lucie believes Rebecca's disappearance is tied to the murder. Assuming that Rebecca is dead too, Lucie tries to decipher the messages her friend sent to her.

Readers will toast Ellen Crosby with her delightfully tasty wine country mystery (see The Riesling Retribution) that combines headlines with the DC historical. In spite of knowing that Phillips and probably Natale were murdered, intrepid Lucie investigates seeking to uncover clues her best friend at school left buried for her. The Vintage Vendetta is the valiant vintner at her best.

Harriet Klausner

Lie for Me-Karen Young

Lie for Me
Karen Young
Howard/Simon and Schuster, Aug 2 2011, $14.99
ISBN: 9781416587644

Martin Houseman and Tucker Kane are the co-owners of H&K Contractors. They were also related at one time when the latter was married to the former’s daughter Margot. Tucker and Lauren Holloway are madly in love and making plans to marry when their lives change dramatically forever. Tucker entered the home where the mahogany wood he took down in an abandoned house to use in his business is at; he found the body of Margot but the wood and his hammer are gone. Detective Sherman suspects Tucker killed his former wife.

Tucker returns to the murder scene where he finds his bloody hammer. The Sheriff catches him holding the tool and arrests him. A desperate Tucker is out on bail and pleads with his fiancée to give him an alibi, but a heartbroken disillusioned Lauren refuses to lie. Almost immediately afterward he vanishes leaving behind Lauren, his daughter and his business. Months later Lauren runs into Tucker while flea marketing and when she sees him at his former partner’s ranch, she begins to think Tucker is innocent especially when someone starts shooting at them. Tucker refuses to run any longer as the killer threatens the two females who he cherishes more than his own life. He and Lauren begin sleuthing.

Karen Young has written an exciting thriller with the second chance romantic subplot enhancing the suspense. Readers will root for the embattled lead protagonists caught in the crosshairs of a ruthless diabolical killer who framed Tucker and plans to murder Lauren. Lie For Me is a gripping one sitting read.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Second Messiah-Glenn Meade

The Second Messiah
Glenn Meade
Howard/Simon and Schuster, Aug 2 2011, $22.50
ISBN: 9781451611847

In a cave in Qumran near Jerusalem, archaeologist Jack Cane finds a significant Dead Sea scroll that mentions Jesus Christ by name. Jack is almost certain this parchment was written when Jesus walked the earth as it references his travel from Caesarea to Dora where he performed a miracle before being crucified there. Obvious to Jack this man was a false prophet as the two-millennium old document implies there were two messiahs.

Musing over the find he returns from a walk to learn someone murdered the dig director using Jack’s knife; the scroll is missing. Determined to recover the parchment, Jack applies archeological investigative skills. Clues lead first to Syria and then the Vatican where a new charismatic American has been elected Pope. His Holiness plans to open up the archives to let people see the secrets hidden over centuries. While some groups want Jack dead assassinating anyone who assists him on his quest, Israeli police inspector Lela Raul tries to help him recover the scroll. Hiddn in the shadows, a puppet master is using them to get the world to know the word of the Second Messiah.

The theme of this interesting thriller is when religion and politics converge; the effect is carnage in the name of the Lord. Jack is a sort of modern day crusader trying to bring the truth out into open; although veracity will shatter Jewish and Christian belief systems. The Pope believes the truth will strengthen the faith of the flock who are divided between radical fundamentalists and agnostics as the Church is left behind. Loaded with action, this fast-paced thriller takes reader on a fascinating journey from the opening discovery to the climatic discovery.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Skin Dive-Ava Gray

Skin Dive
Ava Gray
Berkley, Jul 5 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425242148

Ten months ago at the Exeter Facility in Virginia, Taye introduced himself to Gillie. He explains he is an experiment of Dr. Rowan like she is and has little memory of his past. He begins seeing her every day promising to get both of them out of their incarceration soon. Gillie worries about Taye’s safety as she knows his visits are dangerous for him as she had no one see her for a dozen years except Rowan.

Finally one month after they met, Taye gets them out of the lab prison into the big world outside. He knows the Foundation will send their best hunters to retrieve them as she is an incredible healer and he controls electricity. They meet Mockingbird when he warns them of a Foundation team’s trap. He wants them working for him, but the pair agrees to trust no one not even their respective hearts.

Though it pays to read the previous three tales (especially the first two) in this super urban fantasy (see Skin Game, Skin Tight and Skin Heat), the final thriller is a great finish to a strong saga. Fast-paced throughout, readers anticipate the confrontation between Dr. Rowan, Mockingbird and the lead couple as Ava Gray wraps up the prime overarching theme with a strong climax.

Harriet Klausner

Thunder Moon-Richard Helms

Thunder Moon
Richard Helms
Five Star, Jul 6 2011, $25.95
ISBN 13: 9781432825331

Realtor and Prosperity‚ North Carolina Mayor Kent Kramer introduces highly regarded NFL draft pick Steve Samples at a party attended by the town’s Police Chief Judd Wheeler and his girlfriend schoolteacher Donna Asher. Kent has rented a house to Samples and Pooler Pythons wide receiver Jermaine Coltes. Also new to the town is convicted sex offender Carl Sussman.

Not long after the gala, Jermaine calls 911 to report a murder. Someone viciously hacked Samples to death in what appears a crime of passion. With the help of the County Sheriff Webb, Judd investigates the shocking homicide. He finds two suspects, but both have vanished. First there is Ricky Chasen who hacked his father to death years ago and has been seen traveling with Reverend Alvin Cross; then there is the victim’s missing twin brother Rusty. However to Wheeler’s chagrin, the case will soon snake into a wider deadlier scenario:

This is an exciting police procedural that contains several supporting law enforcement subplots besides the prime homicide investigation. The story line is fast-paced from the opening eviction to the final immaculate interception. Wheeler is the focus who holds the plot together. Although fans might question why he did not seek help from other law enforcement with an experienced homicide detective, readers will not care as he methodically recreates the crime scenes as a diligent, intelligent and caring cop.

Harriet Klausner

Adrenaline-Jeff Abbott

Jeff Abbott
Grand Central, Jul 1 2011, $24.99
ISBN 9780446575171

In London terrorists bomb the CIA headquarters; twenty people die in the attack. British and American authorities conclude that CIA operative seven months pregnant Lucy Capra was instrumental in aiding the terrorists with the deadly explosion. Her vanishing accentuates their assertion.

CIA agents grab Lucy’s husband Sam, also an operative. They assume he abetted his wife as he left the building after a call from her and just prior to the explosion; making him the lone survivor of the mass murders. His colleagues torture him to force him to reveal the truth to them. Throughout his ordeal and in spite of the contrary damning evidence starting with Lucy’s warning call, Sam believes she is innocent. He escapes his captors and begins the quest to find his wife and their son who he assumes has been born since his Lucy disappeared.

Although somewhat linear, this gripping thriller hooks the audience from the opening famous last words to the confrontation. Fast-paced and loaded with action without a respite, sub-genre fans will relish joining beleaguered obsessed hero Sam on his odyssey as he learns the hard way how deep the tentacles of the enemy is.

Harriet Klausner

The Inspector and Silence-Hakan Nesser; Laurie Thompson (Translator)

The Inspector and Silence
Hakan Nesser; Laurie Thompson (Translator)
Pantheon, Jun 14 2011, $24.95
ISBN: 9780375425233

Between the Swedish summer heat, the workload, and his feeling he suffers from PTSD, Chief Inspector Van Veeteren considers strongly about retiring. He figures he deserves a vacation as he has kept putting it off and will decide when he comes back whether to submit his papers.

However, someone rapes and murders a young girl in the woods near the Pure Life sect encampment. Van Veeteren leads the investigation. When he and his team meet the charismatic leader of Pure Life, Oscar Yellinek; Van Veeteren thinks the man is pure evil and guilty but has no proof. The cops find the total silence of the members disturbing as no one utters a word and via passive resistance refuse to cooperate except an anonymous woman who keeps giving him tips while violent homicides occur.

The latest Swedish Inspector Van Veeteren police procedural (see Mind’s Eye and Woman with a Birthmark) is an entertaining bleak murder investigation. The protagonist’s fears he is over the edge when it comes to killers as he considers retirement. His doubts enhance the whodunit as Van Veeteren desperately wants to deliver swift justice instead of keeping predatory monsters safe until the courts to do their job. Although too much time is spent on Swedish food and other minor sidebars, fans of Scandinavian Noir will enjoy Van Veeteren’s dark frustration with legal justice being at a snail’s pace.

Harriet Klausner

County Line-Bill Cameron

County Line
Bill Cameron
Tyrus, Jun 21 2011, $24.95
ISBN: 9781935562351

In 2008 in Oregon, former cop Skin Kadash returns from his month long retreat after his recent harrowing experiences (see Day One). He visits his beloved Ruby Jane Whittaker but she does not answer her phone nor is she at one of her Uncommon Cups shops. Skin learns from RJ’s employee Marcy that Ruby Jane left a couple of weeks ago on personal matters. Her Portland apartment contains the corpse of Dale and soon after finding the dead body someone attacks Skin.

Skin drives to the San Francisco Bay Area to confront RJ’s former lover Pete, but he knows nothing about her whereabouts and now is concerned too. They agree next stop her home town in Ohio. Although Skin remains ignorant, Ruby Jane is indeed in the Buckeye State, but has learned the hard way you can’t go home especially to a dysfunctional family that she has spent years running away from.

Rotating between Skin’s first person missing person’s Noir and Ruby Jane's first person haunting high school age narration from two decades ago, County Line is a dark thriller filled with spins and twists as nothing is quite what the reader perceives it is. Although on the surface, the two subplots are extremely bleak, there is an underlying theme of belonging and connecting with someone who cares as being an essential need of people. Bill Cameron provides a grim character driven thriller yet there is also a glimmer of hope.

Harriet Klausner

Till Death Do Us Bark-Judi McCoy

Till Death Do Us Bark
Judi McCoy
Obsidian, Aug 2 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780451234353

After deciding she needed a dog, Ellie Engleman goes to the pound. There she met Rudy the Yorkiepoo who is the reincarnation of her beloved canine companion who died ten years ago. Rudy speaks to her and Ellie understands him as well as al caninines. Needless to say she adopts Rudy and they become a great crime solving team (See Begging for Trouble and Death In Show) though her job is that of a professional dog walker.

After not taking a vacation in about a decade, her best friend Vivian convinces Ellie to take Rudy and accompany her and her Terrier Twink to the Hamptons where her sister Arlene has a home and is also getting married in twenty-four hours. The groom fails to show up and later is found dead in his office on his estate. Ellie keeps reminding herself not to investigate. However, when the housekeeper’s son Tomas is arrested, seemingly everyone she knows including Rudy and Twink pressure her to make inquiries; so she acquiesces. With Rudy sniffing out clues, Ellie follows his lead one clue at a time.

The fun in this amusing amateur sleuth is the charming chats and camaraderie between politically correct human Ellie and irreverent canine Rudy; for instance she calls her boyfriend Sam and he dubs him “Detective Demento”. The action is limited, but Ellie who is always there for friends and family and Rudy make a dynamite detecting duo whose chatter brings humor and crime solving to the story line. Thus the great characterizations starting with the lead pair but also including Viv and her dysfunctional family make for a fabulous anthropomorphist whodunit.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Devil Colony-James Rollins

The Devil Colony
James Rollins
Morrow, Jun 21 2011, $27.99
ISBN: 9780061784781

In Utah, teenagers Charlie Reed and Trent Wilder explore a cavern filled with desiccated mummified humans. Amongst the horrid sight, the boys also find a gold-coated skull of a saber-toothed tiger. They report their findings. While Native Americans and scientists argue over the findings, archeologists remove the prehistoric artifact. However, instead of a simple excavation, the removal causes an explosion that leads to the release of a substance that erodes rock on contact.

During the blast, an archeologist is murdered; the police suspect Kai Quicheets a teen leader of the Native American protest group at the dig site who tossed the charges that caused the initial explosion. She turns to her Uncle Painter Crowe, leader of the Sigma Special Forces unit. His team uncovers a conspiracy that goes to the roots of the United States.

This is a great action-packed Sigma Force thriller (see The Doomsday Key) in which James Rollins ties together Jefferson, Mormonism and Native American lore into a save the world scenario. Fast-paced, Painter has to deal with the ooze released by explosion, his contrite niece and the “war” between the scientists and the Native Americans. Devil Colony is difficult to put down especially when the players converge.

Harriet Klausner