Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Deadly Little Lies-Jeanne Adams

Deadly Little Lies
Jeanne Adams
Zebra, Sep 1 2011, $6.99
ISBN: 9781420108835

In San Francisco billionaire Davros Gianakopulos is happy for his business partner security expert Gates Bromley who married former CIA agent Ana Burton. However, their happiness has Davros looking within his soul to see what he wants in life as he misses his home in Greece. He decides it is not what but who and that is art gallery owner Carrie McCray.

He asks her out and she accepts a lunch date. However, their first time out together with Gates no longer running his security turns nasty when thugs grab both of them. Dav considers all that Gates taught him in a hostage situation but none included having the woman you want to make it with being held too. Meanwhile the lead kidnapper his brother Niko has waited years for this opportunity to serve up the cold dish of revenge by dumping his two captives in an overseas hellhole prison. Gates and Ana make a frenzied search for them as each knows time is running out on the prisoners.

The sequel to the superb Deadly Little Secrets focuses on the previous novel’s secondary character Dav and the woman he adores as they struggle to survive the ordeal of an abduction that is fueled by angry vengeance. The story line is action-packed from the moment the kidnapping occurs and never slows down as readers will be hooked on this gripping taut romantic suspense.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Dangerous Mercy-Kathy Herman

Dangerous Mercy
Kathy Herman
David C. Cook, Oct 1 2011, $14.99
ISBN: 9780781403412

Octogenarian Adele Woodmore left her large mansion to move to Les Barbes to be near her friends, the Broussard clan. She especially enjoys her time watching two years old Grace. Adele hires homeless patrons from Father Vince’s halfway house to do handy work for her. She is satisfied with Noah who does her lawn and Murray who is renovating the inside of her new home. Only Flynn makes her uneasy but she knows God would want her to give him a second chance.

The serene Saint Catherine parish hamlet is shook when someone murders banker Darveau by drugging him before drowning him in his tub with him unable to move but alert to what was happening. He was # 1. Soon afterward CEO Gautier became the number 2 victim of The Bathtub Killer. Sheriff Prejean struggles with the case that lacks any concrete evidence but implies more homicides will follow; his assumption is the killer is on a vendetta connected to the recent economic downturn. The Broussard and other townsfolk suspect one of Father Vince’s homeless is the killer with Noah being a person of interest. Fearing for her safety, her friends begs Adele to stop hiring Father Vince’s homeless, but she refuses as she believes God wants her to help these men find their way to the Lord.

The second Secrets of Roux River Bayou (see False Pretenses) is an exciting serial killer thriller with the townsfolk in a panic, the sheriff and Police Chief Norman frantic, and Adele calmly doing the Lord’s mission. Her warm tenderness in the midst of a raging deadly storm makes for a strong inspirational whodunit. Once again readers will appreciate visiting the Bayou with Ms. Herman as our guide.

Harriet Klausner

Revelations-Laurel Dewey

Laurel Dewey
The Story Plant, Jun 14 2011, $17.95
ISBN: 9780984190553

In Denver, the multi-syllable medical babble denotes one scary world to thirty-something police detective Jane Perry: cancer; cervical is very nasty but she rejects the doc’s happy pills. She asks her boss Sergeant Weyler for a week off, but fails to tell him why so he says no. Instead they will work a case in nearby Midas whose police chief is Weyler’s buddy.

Fifteen year old Jake Van Gorden attempted suicide by jumping off a bridge, but instead was abducted. The family has received notes from the kidapper that imply Jake lives but none demand money or anything for that matter. Jane knows time is of the essence in a kidnapping so though she thinks the teen has set the scenario up she heads up to Midas to investigate the prime suspect, fifty-nine year old Jordan Copeland, who was released from prison seven years ago after spending over three decades behind bars for abducting and murdering a retarded boy in New Jersey. However the more she learns about Jordan, the less she believes he is guilty; but if not him who?

The third Jane Perry police procedural (see Protector and Redemption) is an excellent tale that contains two strong subplots. The obvious first is the kidnapping as Jane follows clues that take her in odd directions away from the only suspect (besides in her mind the victim). The second focuses on Jane’s personal life as she struggles with her health scare (her mom died at an early age from cancer), her attraction to bar owner Hank, and Revelations that shake her core foundation. Laurel Dewey writes a super investigative thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Or The Bull Kills You-Jason Webster

Or The Bull Kills You
Jason Webster
Minotaur, Sep 13 2011, $24.99
ISBN: 9780312581831

In Valencia, Spain dynamic matador Jorge Blanco has brought a fervor reawakening in bullfighting’s popularity. However, not everyone is enamored with Jorge or his sport as many locals find it barbaric and cruel. Politicians rant in favor of banning bullfighting as they believe that is a key ticket to obtaining or remaining in office. However, someone takes the opposition to a new level by recognizing the threat by charismatic popular Blanco.

In a bulling, the matador’s naked corpse is found with darts in his back, a sword in his ribs, and a Spanish flag pulled tightly around his neck. Nobody on the VPD staff wants the volatile high profile homicide investigation assigned to Chief Inspector Max Camara; his plea of a conflict of interest due to being against bullfighting is ignored. A second similar murder occurs increasing the pressure on Camara to solve the case by the same politicians who also demand the inquiry stay away from their election campaigns.

Or The Bull Kills You is a superb Spanish police procedural starring a somewhat cynical dedicated cop who steps into the bullring, a place he loathes. The country’s culture and heritage, the city, the two faced politicians and the sport provide strong pillars to a terrific whodunit as Camara feels the fishbowl effect as he works a case from inside the bullring with figuratively everyone in the stands watching his investigation.

Harriet Klausner

Motor City Shakedown-D. E. Johnson

Motor City Shakedown
D. E. Johnson
Minotaur, Sep 13 2011, $24.99
ISBN: 9780312644574

In 1911 Detroit, it is Will Anderson’s family that owns the Anderson Electric Car Company. However, his mind is not on vehicles. Instead he seeks revenge. Seven months ago thugs enabled John Cooper to murder his friend Wesley McRae and turned Will into a morphine addict. He lost or had disfigured several fingers due to sulfuric acid before he and his beloved former fiancée Elizabeth Hume escaped the gangsters (see The Detroit Electric Scheme), but the pain and disuse of his right hand remains constant .

His first break leads to gang boss Vito Adamo’s driver Carlo Moretti. However, when Will goes to confront Moretti he is greeted by a dead man whose throat has been cut. The Detroit police believe Anderson killed Moretti in an act of revenge. He sits in jail for several months before being freed when someone else confesses to the homicide. The family company teeters near bankruptcy or unionization. Meanwhile, Will is in the crosshairs of gang warfare with enemies maybe being his allies and friends like Elizabeth back from Europe, Police Detective Riordan, and the Purple Gang on his side.

This is a superb violent historical noir that brings to life the Motor City one century ago. The meet me in Detroit story line is fast-paced but it is the cast who makes for a terrific action-packed tale especially Will. With tidbits of history interwoven to anchor time and place, readers will enjoy riding the Anderson Electric Car driven by D. E. Johnson.

Harriet Klausner

The Tehran Initiative-Joel C. Rosenberg

The Tehran Initiative
Joel C. Rosenberg
Tyndale, Oct 18 2011, $26.99
ISBN: 9781414319353

In Tehran, CIA agent David Shirazi enables the Islamic Republic of Iran’s highest ranking nuclear scientist Dr. Najjar Malik and his family to escape to the United States (see The Twelfth Imam). However Shirazi remains in country undercover as he continues his inquiry into the actions of Muhammad Ibn Hasan Ibn Ali who claims to be The Promised One Mahdi. He has told millions of euphoric Muslims that he will with Allah’s blessing re-establish the Caliphate and rule the world with an iron fist in peace.

Shirazi’s fears that Iran is going nuclear are affirmed when the country tests an atomic weapon. In Jerusalem, the Americans try to calm the anxiety of the Israeli leaders who fear a nuclear attack followed by a holocaust that will exceed WWII. The debate inside the Knesset is adopting the Bush Doctrine of First Strike by taking out the Iranian nuke facilities. Waiting for the anticipated attack will lead to Israeli annihilation; first strike will lead to a Holy War. Shirazi and his unit must disable the nuclear warheads that Iran possesses before either enemy takes the first strike attack.

The sequel to the frightening The Twelfth Imam continues the alarming premise that The Promised One will unite the Muslim world in a fundamentalist Caliphate that will not remain passive but take the war to the enemy infidels. The exciting action-packed story line grips the audience from the onset and never slows down as Shirazi and his team try to prevent Iran going nuclear. Although the hero’s ability to avoid direct fire starting with the Malik scenario is miraculously implausible, fans will appreciate the world on the brink warning story line with a strong subplot involving Shirazi’s spiritual awakening.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Lassiter-Paul Levine

Paul Levine
Bantam, Sep 13 2011, $25.00
ISBN: 9780553806748

Amy Larkin accuses former bench-warming linebacker turned lawyer Jake Lassiter of abetting her then teenage sister Krista into running away from home. Jake knows more than he lets on as to what happened eighteen years ago when Krista vanished into the South Florida sex business and eventually became a porn star.

Jake feels a Krista inquiry could prove redemptive so he begins a cold case investigation. He soon finds Miami’s affluent involved in what happened to Krista. As he learns more of the truth, Jake fears she was murdered while those rich males once involved with Krista refuse to cooperate with the lawyer. When one of the men he considers as a prime suspect is shot the Miami police charge Amy with the homicide. Lassiter defends Larkin in which client and attorney distrust one another while the State of Florida has an eyewitness to the lethal shooting.

Before Solomon vs. Lord, Paul Levine had Jake Lassiter as his star protagonist (see Flesh and Bones and Night Vision); now after a decade away, the second stringer has a first seat case. The story line is fast-paced and fun to follow, but turns superb in the courtroom as client-attorney privilege means nothing since nether trusts the other. Lassiter’s return is a reason for legal thriller fans to rejoice.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Towers-David Poyer

The Towers
David Poyer
St. Martin’s, Sep 1 2011, $25.99
ISBN: 9780312613013

On September 11, 2001, unhappy Navy Commander Dan Lenson visits the Pentagon still upset after being passed over for promotion to the rank of captain in spite of his heroic successful efforts; while he considers retirement, the brass detests his stubborn independence. At the same time his wife Beth Blair is at the South Tower on a job interview. Both are impacted mentally and physically when the planes crash the Pentagon and Twin Towers. He escapes the flames but fears for his spouse as he loses phone contact almost immediately reaching her.

While Beth struggles with her injuries, Dan and his SEAL team are assigned to Task Force Rhino whose mission is to capture or kill Bin Laden and his Taliban allies. His unit deploys to Afghanistan but deals with DC, Kabul and Islamabad politics at the isolated mountainous Tora Bora border. At the same time in Yemen, Muslim-American FBI special agent Aisha Ar-Rahim learns the hard way what being a Muslim-American means on September 12 2011.

The latest Lenson military thriller (see The Crisis and The Weapon) is a great tale in spite of the reader knowing the outcome. The keys to The Towers are the harrowing descriptions of death, destruction and survival on 9/11, the racism that ignites starting on 9/12, and the insightful look at how well (or not) the civilian and military elements of the government work together in hostile scenarios thousands of miles away from DC where the leadership resides. This is an excellent glimpse at the immediate post 9/11 world in which crises (real does not matter) are needed to fuel the avenging vendetta.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, August 26, 2011

Reamde-Neal Stephenson

Neal Stephenson
Morrow, Sep 20 2011, $35.00
ISBN 9780061977961

Peter saw an opportunity to make some fast cash. However, he handed the Russian mafia a virus infected thumb drive that was destroying their encrypted data base. Ivanov the customer is unhappy but wants more than just his money back and his files freed; he wants to scatter Peter’s remains across the states before his comrades learn what happened and scatters his.

His girlfriend Zula takes him from their home in Seattle to her black sheep Uncle Richard’s farm in Iowa. When Nixon was president, Richard fled to British Columbia to avoid the draft; there he became a millionaire smuggling marijuana into Idaho. Years later with Carter amnesty, Richard used his money to create his remote “farm” in which his niece and her boyfriend visit him. However, his biggest success since he stopped trafficking is T’Rain multiplayer virtual game; that is until now, as hackers in China have deployed the REAMDE virus that encrypts a player’s electronic files until remittance is made to release them.

This is an exciting international thriller starring two black sheep and the woman who connects them. The story line travels the globe while containing engaging spins and a horde of characters from many points around the world. Although at times the subplots go seemingly forever nowhere, overall readers will enjoy the adventures of Zula and the two rogues in her life.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Covenant-Dean Crawford

Dean Crawford
Touchstone, Oct 18 2011, $24.99
ISBN: 9781451628531

In the Negev in Israel, archaeologist Lucy Morgan works an unsanctioned dig in which she tells Bedouin guide Ahmed and University Professor Shevez that she has found remains that are seven millennia old but are not human. However, before they can make their claim to the authorities, she vanishes.

Ex marine and former war correspondent Ethan Warner is known for finding and rescuing people in some of the most dangerous areas of the world. However, when his fiancée Joanna disappeared while working in Gaza, heartbroken he returned to the Chicago as a shell of what he was. However, his former superior officer Doug Jarvis asks him to rescue his missing granddaughter Lucy. The DIA also want Lucy found, but cannot interfere as the peace process has made some small progress recently. Ethan agrees to go to the Negev especially after being shown a photo that proves his Joanna lives.

Washington, D.C Metro Detectives Nicola Lopez and Lucas Tyrell enter a building they assume has been used by crack heads. They find three naked corpses that FBI Agent Cain says are overdoses. Tyrell disagrees but what makes him certain is one of the victims has what appears to be frostbite on his feet in summer DC weather. Soon the DC investigation and the missing archeologist inquiry merge though they are miles apart.

This taut thriller hooks readers from the moment Lucy tells her associate what she found and never looks back until a final confrontation. Fans will especially try to resolve the connection between the desert and the metro, which is not as obvious as it first seems. Filled with twists, readers will enjoy the Covenant wondering what Lucy’s find really means to the world.

Harriet Klausner

Headstone-Jack Bruen

Jack Bruen
Mysterious, Oct 4 2011, $24.00
ISBN: 9780802126009

In Galway, Ireland young punks calling themselves the Headstone batter Father Malachy. The elderly priest is in intensive care at the University Hospital. The next victim of the vicious Headstone gang is Tom Reed, a Downs Syndrome child, whose throat is slashed before they rob him.

Former Garda Jack Taylor has met some amoral brutal predators but none like the Headstone whose objective is to cleanse society of misfits like gays, recovering alcoholics, special people, and those they dislike. He knows he is a target as are his friends Ridge the Garda and Stewart the former convict when they receive headstones in the mail. Not one to avoid violence and knowing anyway there is no Sanctuary from this insane fringe, Jack and his buddies take the fight to the Headstone members.

The latest Taylor thriller is an exhilarating but gorier than usual tale, which says a lot as this series is known for the flow of blood and guts. Jack struggles with his ugly past though the American he recently met has given him some hope for redemption of sorts. Ironically Jack concludes the Headstone’s lunatic homicidal actions make his transgressions seem like virtues. Although the plot is thin, Taylor fans will anticipate the Galway confrontation.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Lionheart-Sharon Kay Penman

Sharon Kay Penman
Putnam/Marian Wood, Oct 4 2011, $28.95
ISBN 9780399157851

Though he was born a spare to King Henry Plantagenet and Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine, his older brother’s failed revolt and subsequent death made Richard the heir. When he became king with the death of his sire, Richard began the Third Crusade to take back Outremer, the Holy Land after a brief stop in Sicily to rescue his sister. He has as much trouble with his alleged French allies as he has with the Saracen forces led by capable Saladin. In fact he and his adversary form a mutual admiration society of two as they respect each other’s skills. Finally Richard knows it is time to go home as he hears rumors that his youngest brother John betrays him while he fights in the Holy Land.

This is an exciting opening biographical fiction that humanizes the legendary Lionheart with little tidbits like his side trip to Sicily and his ignoring his wife Berengaria. Especially emphasized is the political intrigue within the Plantagenet family as his late oldest brother tried to take the throne form his father and his youngest brother has seemingly taken the throne from warring Richard. Sub-genre fans will enjoy this insightful well written medieval tale but will impatiently away the King’s return.

Harriet Klausner

Murder Unleashed-Rita Mae Brown

Murder Unleashed
Rita Mae Brown
Ballantine, Oct 4 2011, $25.00
ISBN: 9780345511836

The financial meltdown nuked Mags Rogers' Wall Street career. Humiliatingly, Mags and Baxter the dachshund move onto the ranch of her octogenarian Great Aunt Jeep Reed and King her Shepherd mutt in Reno.

Nevada realtor Babs Gallagher tells her friends Mags and Jeep that several families she knows of live in squalid conditions in foreclosed homes; they have no utilities and if they did could not pay the bills. The three females are appalled that in this day and age in America people survive without running water. Led by Jeep they decide to launch a campaign to help the squatters.

Running for Congress on a tough on personal responsibility rather than government dole, Patrick Wentworth uses the unfortunates as a wedge issue. He plays up a homicide, another death and Jeep’s neighbor who was wounded as proof the sinful non taxpayers are destroying the community. However the politico failed to count on the dog-gone sleuths.

The latest Jeep-King canine amateur sleuth tale(see A Nose for Justice) is more a moral condemnation of big business and the political puppets who dance as marionettes to the string pullers than a mystery; though the whodunit serves somewhat as an enhancer into the plight of homeless families. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Jeep starts her campaign for sustenance with dignity and never slows down as the women and the dogs investigate crimes that break the law and crimes against humanity (and pets).

Harriet Klausner

Elvis and the Tropical Double Trouble-Peggy Webb

Elvis and the Tropical Double Trouble
Peggy Webb
Kensington, Sep 27 2011, $23.00
ISBN 9780758241412

Wanting to escape her man problems back home hairdresser Callie Valentine Jones accompanied by Elvis the reincarnated basset hound flees Mooresville, Mississippi to join her family at an archeological excavation dig near Cozumel, Mexico. Her cousin Lovie's boyfriend Rocky leads the work at the site.

Almost immediately upon arrival, Elvis finds human remains that are too modern to be ancient Mayan. Even Callie’s inane mom recognizes a homicide when she sees the bone Elvis possesses. Callie wants nothing to do with sleuthing as she hates getting involved, but feels she has no choice when Lovie and Elvis vanish just as her hopefully soon to be former husband Jack arrives like the cavalry at the crime scene

The fourth Southern Cousins mystery (see Elvis and the Grateful Dead, and Elvis and the Memphis Mambo Murders) is a zany intelligent cozy starring the extended eccentric Valentine brood. Callie holds the story line focused as she reluctantly investigates her missing loved ones and by default the murder while she knows Jack will have her back. Though Elvis is less of a hound dog than usual, fans will enjoy his (and Callie) Mexican adventures

Harriet Klausner

The Burning Soul-John Connolly

The Burning Soul
John Connolly
Atria, Sep 6 2011, $26.00
ISBN: 9781439265270

In Pastor's Bay, Maine Randall Haight consults with attorney Aimee Price over unsigned threatening letters he receives in the mail at a time when fourteen years old Anna Kore vanished from a strip mall. The anonymous author knows who Randall was. When he was fourteen years old William Lagenheimer and a buddy raped and killed a teenage African-American girl. He was convicted and did time. Upon his release, the state court granted him a new identity.

Aimee persuades private investigator Charlie Parker to look into who the pen pal is and if the timing is deliberate to make Haight the suspect in the Kore case. Although Charlie detests doing anything for a rapist-killer, he begins his inquiry into Haight’s claims of being a victim, a town without pity horrific heritage and the Kore clan’s bloody secrets.

The latest Charlie Parker investigation (see The Whisperers) is a superb mystery as readers will understand troubled Parker’s self flagellation as he realizes perhaps too late his arrogance could harm the abductee. The story line starts slow but a few chapters in accelerates into a terrific running out of clock thriller with a great late twist as Parker and law enforcement know each hour a kidnap victim remains a captive means it is less likely finding the person alive. Readers will appreciate Parker’s doubts as he wonders if he is doing more harm than good.

Harriet Klausner

The Affair-Lee Child

The Affair
Lee Child
Delacorte, Sep 27 2011, $28.00
ISBN 9780385344326

In 1997 in Carter Crossing, Mississippi someone slashes the throat of twentyish Janice May Chapman by an isolated railroad track. The Pentagon is concerned that evidence points to a Ranger training in nearby Fort Kelham committed the homicide as Captain Reed Riley has connections as his father Carleton is chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Colonel Garber assigns military police officer Major Jack Reacher to go undercover to learn the truth and keep the local sheriff Elizabeth Deveraux under control without her knowing it. Each distrusts the other but soon need to protect each other’s back from a dangerous cover-up as the military are uninterested in the facts; their preference is for a local hillbilly to take the rap. However, Reacher becomes incompliant when he learns Janice is the third female to have been killed by this slasher.

The latest Reacher thriller (see Worth Dying For) is an exciting throwback tale to when the heroic vigilante was still in the Army. Ironically though going back to the case that led to his leaving the military, there is not much new added to the Reacher mythos. Still the story line is fast-paced and filled with action as Reacher learns what happens to officers doing their duty with personal courage vs. those with DC connections.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Scorch City-Toby Ball

Scorch City
Toby Ball
St. Martin’s, Aug 30 2011, $25.99
ISBN: 9780312580834

In 1950 in the City reporter Frank Frings awakens Police Lieutenant Piet Westermann in the middle of the night. He asks the ethical cop to help him move the corpse of a blonde found on the riverbank near the affluent Uhuru Community. Frings believes if the competing powers learn a murdered while female was found inside the Negro community, all hell would break out. Reluctantly he agrees to move the body though he knows tampering would end his career while he also considers investigating though likewise that could be a career killer too as he is the most loathed cop in the City for his mathematical police deployment System.

The case turns nasty with more related deaths and all sorts of religious and racial bigotry. Much of the media’s jaundiced commentary adds to heated exchanges as the Communist scare is played up. However what makes the inquiry particularly ugly is election year politics using the victims as vote getters.

Fifteen years have passed since The Vaults were opened up, but the City remains trapped in a corrupt system that destroys good honest people. Scorch City is an exhilarating police procedural which focuses on the good, the bad and the ugly in a society in which corruption, connections and bigotry are the engines to success. Readers will see parallels to the McCarthy-KKK era as it will not take much for the righteous to turn Uhuru into Scorch City.

Harriet Klausner

Bad Weeds Never Die-Christopher Valen

Bad Weeds Never Die
Christopher Valen
Conquill Press, Sep 1 2011, $15.00
ISBN: 9780980001730

In St. Paul’s Lowertown, at four in the morning patrol cop Palmer found a Mercedes splattered with blood left as the only vehicle still at a park and ride lot. The owner Teresa Blackwood is missing. Homicide Detectives John Santana and Kacie Hawkins lead the investigation. Kacie thinks the missing owner might be the daughter of child psychologist Jonathan Blackwood whose TV show was pulled off the air for reasons other than low ratings.

They go to her condo and meet her frightened reluctantly cooperative live in lover Steven Larson the veterinarian who has a woman from work in his bedroom. The two detectives meet her anxious father and her estranged twin Maria who chose drugs over work. Jonathan explains that his daughters will inherit a million dollar plus a trust fund in two years, but if one dies before that the other inherits half the other’s money now. Maria’s alibi is the family’s married lawyer Daniel Calloway and says her father is dating the cops’ boss Rita Gambolini. They also learn that the twins’ biological mother came from Colombia where John fled when he was sixteen leaving behind his sister Natalia. The suspect list grows and the case takes deadly ominous paths in Minnesota and Columbia.

The latest John Santana police procedural (see White Tombs and Black Minute) is an excellent investigative thriller as the two detectives methodically work a case that spins out of control with homicides. Readers will enjoy accompanying Santana and Hawkins as they follow twisted leads in Minnesota while John learns you can’t go home in a world filled with violent predators.

Harriet Klausner

The Burning-Jane Casey

The Burning
Jane Casey
Minotaur, Aug 30 2011, $24.99
ISBN: 9780312614171

In London Parks, the notorious Burning Man has battered four women before setting them on fire. A special police task force has no leads. Detective Constable Maeve Kerrigan has two strikes against her in the London police as women and Irish are not very popular. She hopes her work the Burning Man task force gives her the opportunity to prove he worth to her male superiors and colleagues.

Rebecca Haworth becomes the fifth victim but she does not fit the standard set by the Burning Man in his previous homicides though overall the specifics line up. Her supervisor assigns Maeve to investigate Rebecca’s background to see why she was killed. Her inquiry leads Maeve to Rebecca’s lonely best friend Louise North even as she begins to believe either a copy cat killer or someone concealing the homicide behind the Burning Man façade murdered the woman.

This opening British police procedural is an engaging serial killer investigation due to the diligent Maeve and to a lesser degree the fifth victim and her friend. The inquiry is cleverly done to increase the tension as the count mounts. Readers will enjoy this entertaining cat and mouse game as The Burning is a fast-paced thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, August 22, 2011

Sweet Money-Ernesto Mallo; translated from the Spanish by Katherine Silver

Sweet Money
Ernesto Mallo; translated from the Spanish by Katherine Silver
Bitter Lemon, $14.95
ISBN 9781904738732

Jorge Turcheli is euphoric when he is named the new chief of the Buenos Aires police department. He asks his associate Superintendent Lascano, still recovering from a bullet, to return to the force. However, once an honest dedicated cop, Lascano wants to leave his homeland. However, on his first day in his new job in his office, the Apostles drug-selling cops assassinate Jorge as they plan to put one of their own in charge. The Apostle knows the next to kill is dedicated honest Lascano.

Meanwhile, Mole Miranda is released from Devoto Prison after spending one thousand four hundred and sixty one nights there for intellectual crimes. He finds his family rejects him and his best friend spent much of his money. A desperate Mole decides to rob a bank, but that goes ugly. Lascano sees an opportunity to leave Argentina with the bank robbery loot before the Apostles provide him with a funeral.

The second translated Lascano 1980s Argentina police procedural (see Needle in a Haystack) is a dark gloomy thriller in which corruption controls all aspects of the country. The two leads appear as polar opposites but share in common how far they have fallen in a system that destroys the honest. With plenty of fascinating metaphors to highlight the broken society, readers will appreciate this grim look at brutal Argentina less than three decades ago.

Harriet Klausner

Shock Wave-John Sandford

Shock Wave
John Sandford
Putnam, Oct 4 2011, $27.95
ISBN 9780399157691

Three weeks ago a bomb at the Michigan headquarters of the chain PyeMart left Executive Assistant Kelly Brown dead although CEO Willard Pye escaped unscathed. In Butternut Falls, Minnesota, townsfolk are angrily divided over the superstore company setting up shop there. Environmentalists know the poor record of the firm when it come to anything interfering with the bottom line profits while the small town’s storeowners know they will be driven out of business as has happened elsewhere.

A bomb ignites at the superstore’s construction site killing construction superintendent Gilbert Kingsley. ATF investigates both explosions that have left PyeMart's leadership shaken and behind on the Minnesota project. Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension Agent Virgil Flowers also looks into the homicide at Butternut Falls, but finds many townsfolk remain defiant and hostile towards the company’s “invasion”, but who would take the opposition to such deadly lengths remains hard to determine.

The fifth Virgil Flowers police procedural (See Rough Country and Bad Blood) is a great whodunit as the state cop makes inquires using modern technology and inductive reasoning to try to solve a case with too many suspects. The town already tense before the deadly explosion brings a profound look at development vs. preservation/environmentalism, but does it inside a well written investigation starring the amusingly self deprecating Minnesota cop.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Attracted to Fire-DiAnn Mills

Attracted to Fire
DiAnn Mills
Tyndale, Oct 1 2011, $12.99
ISBN: 9781414348643

Like all the dedicated agents who work for the Secret Service, Meghan Connors hopes to protect POTUS. Her current assignment is one Megan would prefer to not have, but she knows this is the last step before POTUS as the dedicated agent diligently tries to keep the Vice President’s daughter Lindsay Hall safe as her father makes a bid for the Oval office. This is not an easy task as Lindsey is a rebel without a cause whose addictive behavior places her in awkward often dangerous situations while also causing harm to her dad’s campaign.

To keep Lindsey safe from a viable threat, she is exiled to the remote Dancin' Dust Ranch in Texas. Vice President Hall demands Lindsey accompany his daughter while Agent Ash Zinders is also assigned to the team. However though the ranch is in the middle of nowhere, the attempted assaults on Lindsay escalate with bombings and homicides. Although they are rivals for the opening slot on the POTUS protection unit, Agents Connors and Hall rely on one another as they keep their charge safe while investigating why Lindsey remains a target with her so removed from DC.

This is a tense romantic suspense thriller in which readers learn quickly how dedicated and diligent the Secret service Agents are as they risk their lives to protect their charges. The romance is typical of the sub-genre as a critical grump falls in love with a peer who understands addiction from her sister’s issues. Although readers will ironically identify the villain long before anyone else does, the key to this strong taut tale is the whodunit while keeping Lindsay is the prime focus of the story line and the two agents.

Harriet Klausner

Darkness All Around-Doug Magee

Darkness All Around
Doug Magee
Touchstone, Oct 18 2011, $25.00
ISBN: 9781439154021

In Braden, Pennsylvania Risa was married to Sean who became an alcoholic, had blackouts and at times failed to come home at night. In one nasty week, Sean vanished and Risa’s best friend Carol was brutally murdered.

Ten years later, Risa is married to Alan who adopted Kevin, her son with Sean, as his. Alan is running for Congress. Sean rocks Risa’s world when he calls Statesman reporter Henry to arrange a meeting the next day. He receives a pass from the hospital where he currently resides and Sean heads home to ask the journalist if he ever saw any pictures of Carol’s death scene. Henry describes what he saw; Sean now knows for sure he killed Carol on the night he drove to New York as he knew the death scene and the bruises on the corpse before he heard the reporter’s description. Sean goes to the local police but Alan has the authorities throw him out of town. Risa considers G.G who was convicted of the homicide is innocent as is she believes her first husband. As Risa risks her marriage, her social standing and her life (and that of her son), Alan does everything to get the one “evil” ex out of their lives.

Darkness All Around is an exciting romantic suspense that grips readers from the moment Sean returns to town. The cast is fully developed so that the audience understands what motivates the key players to behave the way they have now and a decade ago. Doug Magee writes a taut thriller in which the suspense is front and center while the romantic subplot supports the mystery.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, August 20, 2011

A Killing Season-Priscilla Royal

A Killing Season
Priscilla Royal
Poisoned Pen, Oct 4 2011, $24.95
ISBN 9781590589496

Baron Herbert joined the Crusades taking his nephew Leonel with him instead of any of his four sons. Now he returns from the Holy Land but instead of rejoicing he is despondent. When his two of his five sons die in accidents, people question whether God is punishing Herbert for a transgression in the Holy land.

Herbert pleads with his friend Sir Hugh to bring healers to his castle. Hugh asks respected physician Master Gamel, Brother Thomas and Prioress Eleanor of Tyndal to join him at isolated le chateau doux et dour. Eleanor brings her healer Sister Anne with them. Upon arrival, Thomas watches a third son Gervase fall to his death from a high window. Thomas and Eleanor learn the oldest offspring died from a fever and the third born drowned. While many say the deaths are due to the devil or God’s wrath, Thomas and Eleanor believe a mortal murderer is killing the sons.

The latest Thomas and Eleanor medieval mystery (see Chambers of death and Valley of Dry Bones) is a great whodunit. The story line never loses its fast pace after an incredible opening act. Readers will enjoy this delightful historical whodunit as the sleuths investigate “a season for everything under heaven, including a time to kill.”

Harriet Klausner

Stolen Hearts-Jane Tesh

Stolen Hearts
Jane Tesh
Poisoned Pen, Oct 4 2011, $24.95
ISBN 9781590589373

In Parkland, North Carolina, the death of his beloved daughter in a car accident has left twice divorced David Randall in a permanent state of grief. He quits his job at a detective agency to open his own private investigative practice. His office and home is his car until his best friend Camden takes him into his boarding house.

Melanie Gentry hires Randall to prove that her great-grandmother Laura was the only composer of the classic Appalachian folksong collection the Patchwork Melodies. His client believes John Ashford is not Laura’s music partner but a thief and killer who murdered her late talenteds ancestor who drowned. Now PBS is filming a documentary on early American folk music and Melanie wants him exposed. Randall finds death and theft as he makes inquiries. Someone is murdering people to conceal something. As he wonders if Melanie hides information from him, Randall turns for help to Camden the psychic and his alleged murderous spirit who demands the sleuth proves his innocence of a homicide six decades cold.

This is an engaging paranormal regional mystery with an intriguing full circle karma twist. David is a complicated individual who is at his best on the case or in his grief’ when he falls in love with another boarder he seems fickle and out of character. Still readers will enjoy Stolen Hearts while singing “Oh! Susanna”.

Harriet Klausner

The Sandburg Connection-Mark de Castrique

The Sandburg Connection
Mark de Castrique
Poisoned Pen, Oct 4 2011, $24.95
ISBN 9781590589410

The Investigative Alliance for Underwriters hires private investigators Sam Blackman and Nakayla Robertson to determine whether North Carolina University at Asheville Professor Janice Wainwright suffers the pain she claimed that led to her $5 million malpractice lawsuit. Wainwright is suing a spinal surgeon, his clinic, and a hospital while his malpractice insurance company believes the plaintive is faking it.

The sleuthing partners follow the professor as she travels to Flat Rock visiting Carl Sandburg's home Connemara and climbs nearby hikes Glassy Mountain. When she falls to her death, her final words to Sam who found her appear to be "Sandburg's verses." Sam believes she was murdered though the motive remains foggy at best. When an autopsy revealed her blood filled with painkillers affirming she suffered great agony, Sam and Nakayla wonder what would motivate an ailing scholar to take such an arduous trek. He feels even stronger about his homicide hypothesis after a theft and when a ranger staying with the deceased’s teenage daughter is beaten up.

This is a great literary mystery that cleverly combines Sandberg, the nineteenth century and modern day academic and family wars into a wonderful whodunit. Fans will enjoy the lead detectives as they investigate a potential homicide in their third literary regional mystery (see The Blackman’s Coffin and The Fitzgerald Ruse),

Harriet Klausner

Bye Bye, Baby-Max Allan Collins

Bye Bye, Baby
Max Allan Collins
Forge, Aug 16 2011, $24.99
ISBN: 9780765321794

In the summer of 1962, private eye Nathan Heller is in Hollywood enjoying his time with the famous and infamous. He meets Marilyn Monroe, who hires the Chicago sleuth to wire tap her phone. Her studio blames her erratic behavior for the shutting down of a film in production. She believes the tapes will prove otherwise.

Heller figures this is an easy assignment with fringe benefits. However, he finds a horde of celebrities interested in Miss Monroe; enough to fill the Hollywood Bowl. Beside the president and his brother, her former husband the retired ballplayer, Frank, the CIA, the Russians and Hoover; there are also mobsters. They all fear what she might do next. When she dies from a reported overdose, Heller believes his occasional lover-client was assassinated.

The first Heller hard boiled noir in years (see Chicago Confidential) is an exciting look at the demise of Marilyn Monroe. Although nothing new is added to the conspiracy theory behind the legend’s death, the story line is fast-paced even with a real persona cast seemingly out of a Cecil B. DeMille movie as Heller works a case he personalizes.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, August 19, 2011

Death in a Difficult Position-Diana Killian

Death in a Difficult Position
Diana Killian
Berkley, Sep 6 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425243817

In Stillbrook, fire and brimstone Reverend David Goode proclaims in his sermons that yoga is a demonic practice and those participatingare heading to hell while the instructors are the devil’s ignorant agents. Reverend Goode specifically attacks two studios: Sacred Balance yoga studio owned by A.J. Alexander and Yoga Meridian manager Lily Martin. Rivals A.J. and Lily try separately and together to reason with the Reverend; but he reacts with a warning for them to stop their evil ways. Lily threatens him in public.

When John Bauman’s cows are slashed in a nasty demonic ritual, Reverend Goode attacks sin fostered by places like the yoga studios. The Reverend also blames A.J. for tempting his wife who uses free passes to attend the classes at Sacred Balance. Soon afterward someone kills Goode. The police arrest Lily who had motive and opportunity. Having solved homicide cases before (see Murder on the Eightfold Path) A.J. and her Hollywood mom Elysia and her Golden Gumshoes TV cast investigate by looking into who else had a motive to kill the good reverend, but quickly finds a horde of suspects as this pious soul proves to be a hypocrite with his application of the Golden Rule being he gets the gold and makes the rule.

Putting aside that the Hollywood contingent wanting publicity for their TV detective show seems a stretch of a motive for conducting an inquiry, readers will enjoy the latest humorous Mantra for Murder amateur sleuth. The story line starts out a bit slow though amusingly so as the payers and their relationships are set, but accelerates once the homicide occurs. Fans will enjoy the mother and daughter team as they investigate the murder.

Harriet Klausner

Postcard Killers-James Patterson and Liza Markland

Postcard Killers
James Patterson and Liza Markland
Grand Central, Jul 12 2011, $14.99
ISBN: 9780446569941

The two twentyish charming Americans tour Europe, but are uninterested in the sights. Instead the pair selects nice looking victims to butcher with knives. They send postcards warning the police they are coming to kill and afterward send pictures of their gruesome endeavors.

For six months NYPD Detective Jacob Kanon hunt the pair though he is always a few steps behind them. He lives for his obsession to butcher the two punks who murdered his twenty-one years old daughter Emily and her husband Clive. They send a postcard to reporter Dessie Larsson implying Stockholm is next following Berlin’s homicides. Police Superintendent Duval refuses to protect Larsson, but unshaven Jacob arrives feeling this time he will find the pair who ended his life when they ended his daughter’s life.

The serial killer cat and mouse game starts off with a powerful suspense but the latter half of the thriller feels padded. The killers are a frightening amoral pair while compulsive out of control demanding Jacob should have been deported for his behavior; though readers will empathize with his loss he is not likable as he seems to be a pale imitation of Liam Neeson’s Mills in Taken. Still his is an entertaining tale as the audience anticipates the confrontation between the reporter and the crazed cop vs. the Postcard Killers.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Most Dangerous Thing-Laura Lippman

The Most Dangerous Thing
Laura Lippman
Morrow, Aug 23 2011, $25.99
ISBN: 9780061706516

In 1977 in the Baltimore suburb Dickeyville the three Halloran brothers (Gordon aka Go-Go, Tim and Sean), and their friends Gwen and Mickey did everything together especially in playing in Leakin Park. Go-Go the youngest of the siblings dominates his older brothers. Mickey the tomboy loved being outside perhaps because her mom has a propensity for nasty men. Overweight Gwen feared she will be ugly but also is scared that if she becomes a beauty like her mom she will be depressed and melancholy also like her mom. However, a violent tragedy in the woods ends their camaraderie.

Three decades later, a recovering alcoholic, Go-Go is intoxicated when he drives his car into a wall. Tim lives nearby with his with his wife Arlene and his widowed mother Doris. Sean married to Vivian arrives from Florida. Mickey the flight attendant comes home for the funeral. Finally Gwen the reporter, as she is about to be divorced, forces the survivors to look at their childhood bond and what shattered it.

The Most Dangerous Thing is a super look at the child is the adult as the incident in the woods is the final shaping of the quintet. Character driven as the five and other family members have diverse personalities, Laura Lippmann writes a deep look at childhood and adulthood. Tess Monaghan makes a cameo appearance, but her fans will still appreciate this strong glimpse at adults whose memories of childhood in 1977 make for a fascinating thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Born to Die-Lisa Jackson

Born to Die
Lisa Jackson
Zebra, Aug 1 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9781420102789

The last thing aging actress Shelly Bonaventure saw was the hate on the face of her killer. Though her death appears to be a suicide, LAPD Detective Jonas Hayes notices some anomalies. The killer had murdered others similar in shape to the least victim, but now targets Dr. Kacey Lambert who is no longer married or in Seattle. Instead she went back to Grizzly Falls, Montana.

A homicide of a teacher has Detectives Selena Alvarez and Regan Pescoli believing a serial killer is loose. The victims are females between 25 and 35 with similar body types and hair coloring. All in some way is connected to Grizzly Falls and have ties to Trace O’Halleran. Kacey Lambert fits the profile of the victims as she and Trace are attracted to one another.

The third Montana To Die serial killer police procedural (see Left to Die and Born to Die) is a tense thriller with a strong romantic Suspicion (Grant-Bergman movie) subplot enhancing the investigation. The story line is fast-paced from the moment the actress dies and never slows down as others die too. Although the motive is obvious early on, fans will enjoy Lisa Jackson’s entertaining taut tale.

Harriet Klausner

A Bitter Truth-Charles Todd

A Bitter Truth
Charles Todd
Morrow, Sep 6 2011, $24.99
ISBN: 9780062038302

In 1917, battlefield nurse Sister Bess Crawford leaves the front in France to spend Christmas with her family in Somerset, England. Bess stops at a London boarding house for the night with plans to complete the journey home the next day. Instead she finds a battered, cold and wet woman curled in a fetus like position at her door. She brings twentyish Lydia Ellis inside.

The next morning Lydia tells Bess she is leaving her abusive husband Roger for hitting her. Lydia persuades Bess to come with her to her home Vixen Hill in Sussex so she can confront her spouse. At Vixen Hill, family friend George Hughes swears he saw a child in France who looked like Juliana, Roger's late sister who died as an infant. Everyone including Roger’s mother and grandmother assume he sired a child while he was on the continent. Someone murders George with the police suspecting Lydia. Bess returns to France looking for the child and soon with the help of an Aussie finds Sophie who she brings to Sussex as another homicide occurs.

The latest Bess Crawford WWI amateur sleuth (see An Impartial Witness) is an exhilarating multilayered mystery. Kindhearted Bess cannot stop herself from helping someone in need, a trait readers will admire. France and England seem geographically small considering the state of transportation in 1917 and especially since nothing is quiet on the western front as Bess runs into others too frequently. Still Team Todd once again provides the audience, as he does with the Inspector Rutledge police procedurals, a tale that deeply condemns war.

Harriet Klausner

Sanctus-Simon Toyne

Simon Toyne
Morrow, Sep 6 2011, $25.99
ISBN: 9780062038302

Near Ruin, Turkey, high on the side of a mountain is the Citadel Church where the Sancti monks guard "the Sacrament" as the sect has done for millennia. Brother Samuel escapes from a cell in this oldest known abode still in use. He climbs a ledge and leaps to his death while civilians and the media catch his suicide.

American newspaper reporter Liv Adamsen is shocked to learn the dead monk learns that her phone number was found etched onto a leather strap inside Samuel's stomach. She realizes that Samuel is her brother who she lost contact with years ago when he abruptly vanished. Needing to understand why he disappeared to become a monk and killed himself, Liv travels to Ruin. She and others will find out that the Sancti will kill to protect the “Sacrament”.

This exciting Brownian thriller hooks the reader from the moment Samuel begins his escape from the Sancti knowing there is only one way out and never slows down as the religious sect risk all to keep the secret safe while the outsiders demand the truth. Fast-paced with several stunning twists, readers will wonder whether the monks are truly evil as they die for the Sacrament; just like Jews did to save Torahs from the Nazis.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Dog Who Knew Too Much--Spencer Quinn

The Dog Who Knew Too Much
Spencer Quinn
Atria, Sep 6 2011, $25.00
ISBN: 9781439157091

Autumn suggested Anya Vereen asks always broke private investigator Bernie Little to accompany her to parents' weekend at Big Bear Wilderness Camp, where her son, Devin, is a camper. Anya fears her former husband Guy Wenders will cause a stink at the event; so she hopes having Bernie with her will keep the louse in line. As he needs money, he and Chet accept a gig that he prefers to avoid as he loathes the mountain air although his partner looks forward to the smells.

When Devin disappears from the Big Bear Wilderness Camp, Bernie, Chet and wilderness guide Turk Rendell search for the missing child in what looks like a parental abduction. When Turk is murdered the Laidlaw clan enforces the law arresting Bernie. Chet continues to investigate with only trusting Suzie, who smells good, to assist him.

The fourth Chet and Bernie mystery (To Fetch a Thief and Thereby Hangs a Tail) is once again a superb whodunit as the canine provides a unique perspective on human and canine culture. Chet works the case alone and Dog Gone It makes an entertaining sleuth. Meanwhile criminal Dylan McKnight, the former boyfriend of Bernie’s sort of girlfriend Valley Tribune reporter Suzie Sanchez and a puppy that looks like Chet add depth to an exciting canine criminal caper.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Deadly Defiance-William Manchee

Deadly Defiance
William Manchee
Top, Aug 9 2011, $14.95
ISBN: 9781929976768

In 1995 Dallas, hairdresser Maureen Thompson rollerblades several miles to Turner & Waters law firm as her husband Rod, owner of Thompson Construction, left her a large debt including one to the IRS and her car is repossessed. The mother of two tells Stan Turner she wants to kill Rod. Stan asks his partner Paula Waters to handle the case as his wife Rebekah is ailing and he is doing a pro bono probate involving the estate of the late Herbert Wolf.

Pandora Alvarez and her five children arrive at the law firm. She wants to sue Icaro Melendez, owner of a sweat shop where her fiftyish late husband Romildo worked; he died from an overdose but she insists he did not do drugs. Stan assigns his former secretary but now law degree associate Jodie Marshal to handle the case in which DPD closed the case due to a lack of evidence.

The Thompson case takes a deadly spin when Rod’s corpse is found. The murder weapon is an ice pick just like the tool that killed their client’s first husband Randy Rhymes. The Alvarez case proves more dangerous as Melendez has ties with a Mexican drug cartel helping to eliminate anyone who gets too close to his business.

The tenth Stan Turner legal thriller (see Black Monday and Civil War) is fabulous tale with Paula and Jodie sharing the lead with the main star. Though mostly in the background, empty nester Rebekah’s health issue enables the modification to the lead role. This change brings freshness as female attorneys work the law differently from Stan, but share his ethics. With three intriguing cases, sub-genre readers will enjoy William Manchee’s aptly titled Deadly Defiance as underdogs with counsel defy the “norm”.

Harriet Klausner

Liver Let Die-Liz Lipperman

Liver Let Die
Liz Lipperman
Berkley, Oct 4 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425244043

After her boyfriend dumped her, Jordan McAllister moved to Ranchero, Texas where she works at the Ranchero Globe writing personal ads as she waits for a better position to open up especially as a sports reporter. When food columnist Loretta Mosley breaks her hip and right arm requiring at least six weeks of rehab, the editor Dwayne Egan offers her the position temporarily without more pay and with her still doing the ads. Though she can’t boil water without burning it, she accepts the job that will enable her to see her name in print.

She reviews the new Longhorn Prime Rib Steakhouse. However, afterward, her waiter that night is found dead under her steps. One of her kitchen knives is missing and presumed to be the murder weapon. The police suspect her as the killer while she knows someone is setting her up to stew in prison or shish kabob her. Undercover FBI Agent Alec finds his thoughts are far from lucid because his attraction to the prime culprit muddles his brain. Jordan puts to use her journalism education to investigate the homicide in order to prove her innocence as her state is known for executions. She believes Alec his concealing something significant and hopes it is not tied to the murder as she is attracted to him.

Liz Lipperman has written an entertaining journalistic investigation (though the heroine’s lack of experience might better classify her and the whodunit as an amateur sleuth). The dialogue between Jordan and the men in her life is witty and humorous while the reporter finds herself in one hot water scenario after another. She holds the enjoyable plot together as a likable person refusing to allow someone to marinade her with murder.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, August 15, 2011

The More the Terrier-Linda O. Johnston

The More the Terrier
Linda O. Johnston
Berkley, Oct 4 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425243794

Dante De Francisco owns national HotPet Stores. He hires Lauren Vancouver to be the director of HotRescues no kill animal shelter. The complex will be one of the biggest of its kind once construction is completed. When Lauren’s former mentor, Mamie Spelling, frantically calls her; Lauren is concerned and rushes over having not seen her friend in a long time. Lauren is appalled at the condition of Mamie’s house, and poor quality of the animals from overcrowding as if this is a run down ghetto. Mamie fears she faces prison time for animal cruelty; something that would not have occurred if Bethany Weber, CEO of The Pet Shelter Network, had not tried to blackmail her.

Bethany made a lot of enemies inside the industry with practices including blackmail and extortion of other shelter owners. The police believe Mamie killed Bethany as she had the motive and the opportunity having been at the victim’s home when the latter was dead. Other evidence condemns Mamie further. Lauren does not believe her mentor would kill, so she doggedly investigates the homicide; unaware the killer watches her every move.

The second Pet Rescue Mystery (see Beaglemania) is an exciting cozy that sub-genre readers, especially animal lovers, will enjoy. Dante and his lover Kendra make cameo appearances that connect this series to the author’s Pet Sitter amateur sleuth novels. There are plenty of suspects as the victim was almost universally loathed. Although having an amateur sleuth investigate the murder of a queen of mean while the killer observes her actions is an overly used technique, readers still will enjoy the entertaining The More the Terrier.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Calling Mr. King-Ronald De Feo

Calling Mr. King
Ronald De Feo
Other, Aug 30 2011, $14.95
ISBN: 9781590514757

John Cole’s father lived 24/7 in a state of rage; his only passion was shooting anything. John loathed his angry bitter old man, but became an expert at shooting long distances. John left home before he and his dad had a Wild West gunfight overlooking the Hudson. John becomes a paid assassin. He quickly proves to be the top gun at his profession as his hits are surgically clean. Working for the Firm under the alias Peter Chilton, he has a perfect record of successful kills for over a decade.

Now in his early thirties, Peter’s last assignment in Paris should have taken a few hours, but he needed a week. His newest kill in the English countryside forced him to also take out an innocent bystander witness; the first time he broke the rules of international assassins. John dreams of retirement in the Georgian style home of his last victim. The Firm sends Peter to the Hudson to rusticate until the heat of the second kill cools off. John studies European architect until the Firm assigns Peter to Barcelona for his next hit.

This character driven engaging thriller stars a fascinating schizoid protagonist who begins to fantasize about retirement and reinventing himself. The story line is at its best when Peter stars at the beginning and the ending as he brings the dichotomy of precise killing and dreaming of a sedate future; the plot becomes less insightful and slower towards the middle when John studies architectural design while hiding in New York. Still overall this is a strong look at a person using denial as a defense mechanism while considering his options when he retires from a violent illegal profession.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Jane and the Canterbury Tale-Stephanie Barron

Jane and the Canterbury Tale
Stephanie Barron
Bantam, Aug 30 2011, $15.00
ISBN: 9780553386714

In 1813 Jane Austen stays at the estate of her brother First Magistrate Edward in Kent. At the same time, Widow Adelaide Fiske marries Wellington’s staff member Captain Andrew MacAllister. However, on Pilgrim's Way in Canterbury, the corpse of Adelaide’s first husband Curzson Fiske is found; the problem is he allegedly died several years ago.

Edward leads the investigation into the murder of a “dead man”. However, it is Jane who finds clues while pondering why the first spouse came to the wedding of his wife to another man, but said nothing but he left something behind for his widow. While Edward frets one of his friends is the killer, the culprit observes Jane getting close to solving the Canterbury Tale homicide.

The latest Jane Austen mystery (see Jane and the Madness of Lord Byron) is a great entry that combines a strong amateur sleuth with insight into the relationships between the extended Austen family members. Part of the fun in this wonderful series is trying to match up the support characters with the novels. The story line is fast-paced from the moment a stunned bride learns of a strange commoner visiting her nuptials and never slows down until Jane and the killer confront one another.

Harriet Klausner

Shoe Done It-Grace Carroll

Shoe Done It
Grace Carroll
Berkley, Oct 4 2011, $6.99
ISBN: 9780425244036

To Rita Jewel the best part of working at Dolce's Boutique in San Francisco is neither the wages nor dressing up high society. The jewel of working here is the steep discount her employer gives her that enables her to purchase some of the high end merchandise. Dolce sends Rita to pick up a pair of hand-made silver stilettos in Florida for her to have in time for fashionista MarySue Jenson to wear at the Golden Gate Garden Benefit, which is tomorrow. Rita picks up the shoes in South Beach and returns in time, but the customer confesses she does not have the money to pay for them and Dolce refuses to extend credit.

MarySue steals the customized footwear from Rita. Dolce and Rita want them back so the employee goes to Mary Sue’s house, but the shoe thief refuses to allow her entrance. Rita uses a ladder to try to enter the home, but the next thing she knows she is in a hospital being treated for injures. Dolce and Rita learn someone murdered MarySue and the stolen solver stilettos are missing.. Rita searches for the killer and the shoes only to find a horde of suspects hiding behind upper class respectability.

Shoe Done It is a fun somewhat satirical amateur sleuth tale that mocks at the compulsive obsessive behavior of fashionista as a stiletto by any other name is not just footwear. The first Accessories Mystery stars a heroine who is the Einstein of fashion and uses her knowledge of clothing to investigate who would literally murder to possess customized stilettos. Cozy readers will enjoy this entertaining San Francisco treat.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, August 12, 2011

Saint’s Gate-Carla Neggers

Saint’s Gate
Carla Neggers
Mira, Aug 23 2011, $24.95
ISBN: 9780778312352

At the Sisters of the Joyful Heart, Sister Joan Mary Fabriani asks FBI special agent Emma Sharpe to visit her. An art expert and former novice at the monastery, Emma agrees to see her art conservationist mentor.

The Fed drops what she was doing in Jersey and heads to Maine to learn what troubled Sister Joan who wonders if Mother Linden hid an original Rembrandt for forty years. However just after she arrives with a cold greeting by her host, someone kills Sister Joan and the potential masterpiece is stolen. Emma teams up with undercover agent Colin Donovan who was asked by Father Finian Bracken to learn why a Fed was seeing Sister Joan. They soon follow clues involving art theft to Ireland where her grandfather started Sharpe Fine Art Recovery, but an unknown adversary seems to be one step ahead of them.

This is a fast-paced romantic suspense starring two intriguing Feds falling in love at a time neither can afford the distraction as they work the case. Although the past seems over the top of Mt. Katahdin, sub-genre readers will enjoy the investigation as the bantering pair fuss, fight and fall in love. Reader will enjoy Saint’s gate and helpfully have further Sharpe romantic mysteries in Maine and Ireland.

Harriet Klausner

Children of Paranoia-Trevor Shane

Children of Paranoia
Trevor Shane
Dutton, Sep 8 2011, $25.95
ISBN: 9780525952374

For seven years, twenty-five years old Joe has fought in the secret war. The adversaries conceal the combat from the public through supposed horrific accidents or inexplicable violent acts. Thus civilians remain ignorant. A dedicated assassin, Joe believes he fights on the righteous side of good though he does not understand the underlying cause of the war only the other side is evil. He adheres strictly to the rules of engagement that he is not to kill an innocent bystander as collateral damage is unacceptable and he is not to kill anyone under the age of eighteen as assassinating a child is unacceptable too. Joe knows if he breaks the commandments he becomes the enemy of his side.

His last assignment went terribly wrong so his handler punishes Joe by tasking him to perform a dangerous kill in Montreal. However, Joe’s frozen heart melts instantly when he meets Maria. He no longer can kill at random. To stay alive and keep his beloved safe, Joe flees as his former associates hunt him as he is now considered an evil traitor. In his attempt to escape Joe learns the third rule of engagement on his side of good is agents retire only in body bags.

Although the premise seems over the top of the St. Joseph's Oratory; fans will enjoy this exciting twisting thriller while pondering who is good and evil in terms of alleged patriots and terrorists. The story line is fast-paced from the first kill to the final confrontation. Though a lack of how Joe became indoctrinated to believe his side is the good killers would have helped anchor reader support of him, Trevor Shane provides an engaging thought provoking tale.

Harriet Klausner

How To Party With a Killer Vampire-Penny Warner

How To Party With a Killer Vampire
Penny Warner
Obsidian, Oct 4 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780451235015

Party planner Presley Parker lives in a condo and has an office on San Francisco’s Treasure Island. Also working there is CeeGee Studios’ movie producer-director Lucas Cruz. He hires Presley to plan a “wrap party” at Lawndale Cemetery signifying the end of his latest film Revenge of the Killer Vampires. The night before the gala, three extras (Spidey, Trace and Lark) make a noisy exit practicing the sport of Parkour that her don’t call him boyfriend Brad knows even the shoes to wear. The trio is upset that they were not invited to the event so plan to get even for this affront.

The next morning, Presley discovers Spidey is dead. The police initially assume it was an accident as the he practiced dangerous gymnastics. However, later they realize he was murdered. The night of the party has paparazzi Bodie Chase crashing the festivity, but was escorted out. Later he is found dead in open grave in the pet section of the graveyard, Presley, who has solved murder cases (see How To Survive A Killer Séance) and former cop Brad a crime scene cleaner investigate as they believe the two homicides are connected, but lack a linking motive and too many suspects.

The latest Party-Planning Mystery is a cleverly constructed whodunit with false leads, red herrings, and twists that hook readers who like the lead sleuths struggle to determine the identity of the killer. The perils of Presley makes her endearing as she goes from one fright to another, which keeps fans on the edge of their seat wondering what next at “Peaceful Kingdoms”. Penny Warner provides a superb murder mystery.

Harriet Klausner

Quickstep to Murder-Ella Barrick

Quickstep to Murder
Ella Barrick
Obsidian, Sep 6 2011, $6.99
ISBN: 9780451234544

In Old Town Alexandria engaged couple Stacy Graysin and Rafe Acosta own Graysin Motion ballroom dance studio. Anyone watching the pair of dance instructors performing the quickstep would conclude they are so in synch with the foxtrot Charleston mix they must be in love. However four months ago Stacy ended their two-year engagement tango when she saw her Rafe doing a horizontal number with Solonge Dubonnet.

They remain business partners teaching ballroom dancing. However, Rafe wants Stacy to take him back in her personal life as he insists his mambo with Solonge was money driven. Having inherited the building (with her sister) from her late aunt, Stacey lives downstairs from the studio. At night she hears a thump upstairs and investigates only to find Rafe’s corpse. Alexandra Police Department Detective Troy and Lissy suspect Stacy killed her partner and former fiancé in a fit of rage. Solange arrives using a key Rafe gave her and accuses Stacy of killing her almost fiancé. Leon Hall comes next and accuses Rafe of getting his daughter pregnant. Finally politician Sherry Indrebo asks Stacy to look for some items of hers that Rafe had. Octavia Acosta arrives from Argentina following the police notifying his father that his son died and sent his “like brother” to bring the body home. Tav inherited Rafe’s half of the studio. Not trusting the police to look anywhere else but her, she and Tav team up to investigate who pulled the curtain on the ballroom dance instructor.

The first Ballroom Dance Mystery is an engaging debonair amateur sleuth that will have readers dancing the Lindy. Stacy is terrific as her sophisticated world collapses thanks totally to Rafe who is a bigger pain dead than he was alive. Readers will enjoy the heroine’s dancing with the stars of suspects.

Harriet Klausner

Mind Over Murder-Allison Kinglsey

Mind Over Murder
Allison Kinglsey
Berkley, Sep 6 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425243770

In Finn’s Harbor, Maine, Stephanie Quinn Dowd persuades her cousin Clara Quinn to manage a shift at her The Raven’s Nest bookstore. Clara has the family Quinn Sense; a psychic gift that her cousin wants and she would like Stephanie to have inherited it instead of her. Clara meets store employee Molly Owens who was yelling at the crazy old bat Ana Jordon owner of the shop next door Jordon’s Stationer.

Clara finds Ana’s murdered corpse in the storage area of the Raven’s Nest. Police Chief Dan Peterson and Officer Tin Rossi investigate the homicide in which Poe’s bust busted open the head of the victim. The only suspect is Molly. Stephanie encourages Clara to use her Quinn Sense to find out who killed Ana. However, someone tries to frighten her off the case while she also has doubts about her psychic curse.

Mind Over Murder is a fun paranormal amateur sleuth in which the homicide occurs immediately after Clara agrees to temporarily work at the bookstore. Readers will enjoy the escapades of the two cousins who are BFF “sisters”. The story line is fast-paced throughout regardless whether the plot focuses on the whodunit or the men wanting to date lofty Clara. It is a sure bet that fans will want to return to the Raven’s Nest Bookstore for more Quinn Sense sensational stories.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Riptide-Cherry Adair

Cherry Adair
St. Martin’s, Aug 30 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780312371982

In Tarfaya, Morocco, using his language proficiency to speak in several tongues, Nick Cutter goes undercover as Asim Nabi El Malahmah to help catch diamond smugglers. He is about to reel in Qaseem and Tamiz when tall-legged French speaking Princess Gabriella Visconti interrupts the deal. .She demands he take her on to the Scorpion, but he insists the only way he would escort her is if she was the barter. Nick wonders if the pampered princess works for the smugglers.

Bria wants Nick to return the five million dollars her foolish brother Draven invested in Cutter Salvage. Their parents were assassinated years ago sending the sibling rulers of the kingdom of Marrezo into exile. For two years Draven is back in country trying to bring in needed revenue but the banks will soon own the nation. When a thug attacks Bria, someone kills the assassin. Nick and Bria flee on has vessel as he hunts for treasure. On land or at sea the enemy pursues them

The latest Cutter treasure seeking romantic suspense (see Undertow) is a taut thriller with a neat but implausible late twist. The pairing is fun as he is ice and she is fire except when he is with her and then he is an inferno. Fast-paced and loaded with action, readers will relish this fine tale in which, for the most part, the romantic subplot takes a support role to the adventures.

Harriet Klausner

Black Diamond-Martin Walker

Black Diamond
Martin Walker
Knopf, Aug 30 2011, $24.95
ISBN: 9780307700148

In quiet quaint St. Denis, France, Police Chief Bruno Courrèges and his companion Gigi the basset hound enjoy searching for truffles. Sometimes Bruno’s investigative teacher Hercule the retired intelligence agent join the pair.

However, lately the Perigord village has seen a rise in violent crimes related to the multimillion dollar truffle trade. Attacks on Vietnamese vendors and arson at an Asian restaurant shake the tranquility. Additionally rumors fly that substandard Chinese truffles were flooding the market place. Finally, someone brutally murders Hercule. Bruno investigates with leads taking him to the deadly convergence of Vietnamese French and Chinese immigrants.

The third Bruno French police procedural (see Bruno, Chief of Police and The Dark Vineyard) is a delightful whodunit in which readers will smell the aroma of the food in what in some ways is a cozy as the chief investigates the crime wave. Bruno is superb as he tastes and drinks his way through a wide variety of starred restaurants related to the case. Entertaining Martin Walker toasts the Perigord region (see The Caves of Perigord) with this fine timely whodunit as Bruno learns the trouble with truffles is not trifling.

Harriet Klausner

Thread Reckoning-Amanda Lee

Thread Reckoning
Amanda Lee
Obsidian, Oct 6 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780451234551

Marcy Singer left California when her fiancé David Frist jilted her on their wedding day without telling her he got cold feet. She moved to quaint Tallulah Falls, Oregon where she opens up The Seven Year Stitch embroidery specialty shop.

Cassandra Wainwright enters the store wanting Marcy to add embroidery to her wedding dress that would include fake jewels given to the bride by her future mother-in-law Francesca Ortega. Marcy’s boyfriend police officer Ted Nash awakens her late at night with news of a dead female outside her establishment. Marcy identifies the body as Francesca. She explains about the dress and the jewels; the police confiscate the gems as evidence only to learn they are genuine. The victim’s son Francisco insists he has no idea how his late mom possessed real jewels, but that it might have involved her job at former job at Santiago, Inc. The matriarch of the Santiago clan reported her jewels stolen, but her son Frederic knows his mom was not a thief. Experienced in solving homicides (see Stitch Me Deadly), Marcy investigates one stitch at a time so that she can figure out what led to Francesca’s murder.

This charming cozy contains a difficult to solve homicide because no one seems to have a viable motive. While the protagonist investigates (a sub-genre hazard of amateur sleuthing for no reasonable reason) she deals with David who obstinately wants her back and refuses to accept no. His arrival and desire has his ex musing whether he is connected to the murder, the theft or both as he worked for the Santiago family. Readers will enjoy Amanda Lee’s likable whodunit.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

As the Pig Turns-M.C. Beaton

As the Pig Turns
M.C. Beaton
Minotaur, Oct 11 2011, $24.99
ISBN: 9780312387020

Near Carsely in the Cotswolds, Police Officer Gary Beach issues a ticket to an angry Agatha Raisin who insists she did nothing. Not long after that he tickets her again stating she was just over the speed limit. Irate and in a rage, Agatha enters a store and proclaims loudly she would like to roast the unfair cop.

In the post card like nearby village of Winter Parva, the parish council hosts a special gala to try to make up the lack of revenue during Christmas. Agatha attends the festivities that include roasting a pig. When she notices a tattoo on the pig being roasted, Agatha stops the gala. Someone decapitated Beach leaving his body to toast on a spit. The cops suspect Agatha who has motive, mean and opportunity just like she said publically. She investigates encouraged by the victim’s ex wife.

As the Pig Turns is a delightful whodunit as once again the queen of crankiness allows her mouth that roared to get her in trouble. The story line is fast-paced even with interludes by the men in the protagonist’s life wanting to be the man in her life. Although no one observing a human torso instead of a pig about to be roasted feels over the top of Cleeve Hill, fans will enjoy the latest cranky Agatha Raisin British historical mystery (see Busy Body).

Harriet Klausner

Two for Sorrow-Nicola Upson

Two for Sorrow
Nicola Upson
Harper, Aug 9 2011, $14.99
ISBN: 9780061451584

In the 1930s in London, mystery writer and playwright Josephine Tey is drafting her latest manuscript based on the 1903 state executions by hanging of two midwifes Amelia Sach and Annie Walters convicted of running a baby mill. Tey's former teacher Celia Bannerman was one of the two warders assigned to stay with Sach from the time of her conviction until her execution. Celia assists Tey on her research.

Detective Inspector Archie Penrose investigates the brutal murder of a seamstress. His friend Tey, who he wants as his lover, believes her inquiry into the hangings three decades ago is related to the current homicide. Penrose fears an angry killer has just started and Tey and Bannerman are on the list for a de facto execution.

The third Tey historical British mystery (see An Expert In Murder and Angel with Two Faces) is a taut psychological thriller with a great whodunit investigation. The excellent story line contains a book within a novel in which Nicola Upson smoothly moves back and forth while employing an insightful historiographical look from a 1930s perspective at 1903. With a late stunning twist enhancing the tale, fans will relish this engaging Depression Era thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Northwest Angle-William Kent Krueger

Northwest Angle
William Kent Krueger
Atria, Aug 30 2011, $24.99
ISBN: 9781439153956

On the Canadian border in the Northwest Angle of Minnesota, former sheriff turned private investigator widower Cork O'Conner and his adult child Jenny go on a houseboat vacation together in the Lake of the Woods. When a major storm strikes the remote area the pair seeks safer shelter on an island in the middle of the Ojibwa reservation. The torrent separates father and daughter.

Jenny finds a naked female Native American corpse and nearby the body is her dehydrated baby. The victim obviously was tortured before being executed with a bullet to her head. Cork catches up with Jenny and the infant, but the trio is on the run from someone deadly. They obtain help from their Ojibwa family, which enables Cork to investigate who killed Lily Smalldog as he knows his daughter and the baby are safe?

The latest Cork O'Conner whodunit (see Vermilion Drift) is a terrific entry as William Kent Krueger uses the murder mystery to enable the audience to see deeper inside the hero. The story line is action-paced starting with the storm and never slows down as a cat and mouse hunt takes center stage. Series fans will welcome the return of Cork in a fabulous thriller just north of the 49th parallel.

Harriet Klausner

Northwest Angle-William Kent Krueger

Northwest Angle
William Kent Krueger
Atria, Aug 30 2011, $24.99
ISBN: 9781439153956

On the Canadian border in the Northwest Angle of Minnesota, former sheriff turned private investigator widower Cork O'Conner and his adult child Jenny go on a houseboat vacation together in the Lake of the Woods. When a major storm strikes the remote area the pair seeks safer shelter on an island in the middle of the Ojibwa reservation. The torrent separates father and daughter.

Jenny finds a naked female Native American corpse and nearby the body is her dehydrated baby. The victim obviously was tortured before being executed with a bullet to her head. Cork catches up with Jenny and the infant, but the trio is on the run from someone deadly. They obtain help from their Ojibwa family, which enables Cork to investigate who killed Lily Smalldog as he knows his daughter and the baby are safe?

The latest Cork O'Conner whodunit (see Vermilion Drift) is a terrific entry as William Kent Krueger uses the murder mystery to enable the audience to see deeper inside the hero. The story line is action-paced starting with the storm and never slows down as a cat and mouse hunt takes center stage. Series fans will welcome the return of Cork in a fabulous thriller just north of the 49th parallel.

Harriet Klausner

Darkness, My Old Friend-Lisa Unger

Darkness, My Old Friend
Lisa Unger
Crown, Aug 9 2011, $24.00
ISBN: 9780307464996

Following her divorce from her egomaniacal spouse bestselling author Bethany Graves and her fifteen year old daughter Willow move from Manhattan to The Hollows in Upstate New York. Bethany hopes the small-town will end Willow’s tendency to prevaricate. Used to the bright lights of Broadway, Willow finds rusticating boring. Bethany begins her next novel while also dating nice high school Principal Henry Ivy.

Willow observes Michael Holt dig what the teen believes is a grave. Michael tells Bethany that his mom vanished over a quarter of a century ago when he was younger than Willow is; now with his dad’s death, he wants his mother’s cold case revisited. Retired police officer Jones Cooper supplements his pension helping his neighbors while they work; for instance letting repairmen into homes so people do not have miss work. The cops ask their former colleague to investigate while psychic Eloise Montgomery warns him that making inquires into the missing Cooper case would end tragically for him.

Darkness, My Old Friend, the sequel to Fragile, is a fabulous investigative psychological thriller. The myriad of characters bring to life small-town living where refreshingly everyone knows everyone has secrets, but not what they are. Clues are all over the exciting story line so the climax is anticipated, which adds to the fun as fans can solve the case. Though better to have read Fragile as there are references to the previous novel, readers will enjoy joining mother and daughter as they acclimate to their new dangerous home.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Murder of a Creped Suzette-Denise Swanson

Murder of a Creped Suzette
Denise Swanson
Obsidian, Oct 4 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780451235008

Music promoter Rex Taylor accompanied by his Country Roads company staff and some of his most popular clients descends on Scumble River. Rex wants to gain local support to build a country western music theater in town. The visitors give a free open air concert attended by most townsfolk including school psychologist and police consultant Skye Denison. She ducks into an RV to go to the bathroom and hides whens Rex and his top superstar Flint Jones come in.

Aspiring C&W singer and Rex’s gopher Suzette Neal is late to perform as the opening act. Rex asks Flint who refuses as he is the star attraction. Suzette finally arrives and performs. Afterward she asks Skye to investigate the suspicious death of her mother in an accident in which Suzette swears she heard a stranger’s voice. Skye agrees to look into the death of the performer’s mother. The shrink goes to the site where the music theater is to be built. There she finds Suzette’s body under a steamroller. Teaming up with her fiancé, Police Chief Wally Boyd, they investigate the homicide of the daughter and relook the alleged accidental death of the mother.

Reading a Scumble River police procedural is always a treat as the audience tries to solve a convoluted murder. Fans will want the killer caught not just for legal justice but also for karma as the victim was a nice person. With a touch of romance and a bit of family drama to round out the whodunit, Murder of a Creped Suzette is a compelling cozy.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Crossing-Serita Jakes

The Crossing
Serita Jakes
WaterBrook, Sep 6 2011, $14.99
ISBN: 9781400073030

A decade has passed since the horrific murder of Cheerleading coach B.J. Remington. Though the case has gone cold in terms of law enforcement, those on the school bus that day and others who were close to the victim have failed to move on as the homicide remains inside their souls.

Assistant District Attorney Victor Campbell knows his wife Claudia is one of those who remain hunted by her friend’s death. Although he has a hidden agenda, for the sake of his wife’s emotional state, Victor reopens the investigation. Former high school football quarterback Casio Hightower saw his dreams of the NFL end with a bullet when the shooter killed Remington. Another victim is a resentful cop with anger management issues that he takes out by battering the woman he loves Harper Abbot; he wants closure just like Claudia does. Casio offers to assist Vic.

This is a great Christian investigative thriller with a shocking late twist that makes Serita Jakes tale that much more plausible. The story line is character driven with Claudia the link between the ten years. Loaded with action and avoiding preaching though the message is to turn to God when unexplainable bad things happen to good people, readers will relish this excellent whodunit.

Harriet Klausner

Killer Sweet Tooth-Gayle Trent

Killer Sweet Tooth
Gayle Trent
Gallery/Pocket, Oct 11 2011, $15.00
ISBN: 9781451600025

After her abusive husband tried to kill her, Daphne Martin divorced the SOB while he went to jail for shooting at her (Murder Takes the Cake); she returned to her hometown of Brea Ridge, Virginia where she opened up Daphne’s Delectable Cakes. Daphne has a boyfriend Brea Ridge Chronicle editor Ben Jacobs.

Ben cancels their date so Daphne invites her neighbor sexagenarian Myra Jenkins to come over for dessert. Unfortunately, Maya chips her tooth, but her dentist Dr. Bainsworth tells her to come to the office so he can fix it. Daphne and Myra arrive at Bainsworth’s office where they find the dentist dead. They call the police who name the pair as “persons’ of interest”. When Daphne arrives home, she is met by an Elvis impersonator. He belongs to EIEIO (Elvis Impersonator’s Evangelical Interdenominational Outreach) ; a group performing in town while attending a convention. Not wanting to be suspects, Maya and Daphne investigate the dentist’s murder; only to learn Bainsworth had plenty of enemies.The pair hopes to solve the case before EIEIO leaves town in order to clear their names.

The latest Daphne Martin mystery (see Dead Pan) is a Killer Sweet Tooth cozy as the police lack proof but the only suspects know they are under surveillance and the town thinks they are not the killers. This is a fun puzzler with an EIEIO member who may be the killer or perhaps the townsfolk with grudges against the late dentist. Maya and Daphne are different generations, but share common traits and each knows the other has their respective back. Gayle Trent has written a charming amateur sleuth.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Enemy Mine-Karin Harlow

Enemy Mine
Karin Harlow
Pocket, Aug 30 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9781439177877

L.O.S.T. operative Nikko Cruz is freezing in Siberian arctic conditions at the base of the Tian Shan range in Kyrgyzstan as the frigid temperatures are way below zero. However Nikki knows his heart is even colder than the weather ever since he killed the only woman he ever loved.

Thus when his mission to track hijacked enriched uranium fails with him being ambushed; Nikko is shocked by who rescues him. His dead beloved, half-daemon Selena Guererro injects the only man she ever loved Nikko who is dying with her immortal blood serum even knowing this places her in danger and perhaps their nine year old daughter Marisol who Nikko thought she killed, too. When Nikko heals, he follows her to the terrorists who stole the weapons enriched uranium. His revised plan is first to kill the terrorists and recover the uranium; and then deal with the woman he wants to choke to death at the same time he wants to kiss her.

Readers will enjoy Karin Harlow's latest Last Option Special Team romantic urban (Siberian?) thriller (see Enemy Lover) as the star-crossed lovers meet for the first time since he killed her for killing their child. The story line is action-packed from the moment the hero is left to die and never slows down as he confronts the terrorists and the hybrid woman he loved (and still does) and killed.

Harriet Klausner

Sweet Justice-Christy Reece

Sweet Justice
Christy Reece
Ballantine, Sep 6 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780345524072

Five years ago in Houston Seth Cavanaugh was arrested for the murder of Montgomery Jenkins. He reacted by dumping his girlfriend FBI agent Honor Stone without explanation before vanishing. He hid from her that he was undercover trying to bring down vicious Hector Clemmons.

Five years later, Seth’s distraught brother Joel calls; telling him that his daughter Kelli has been missing from college for a week. Though Joel was angry with Seth for the pain he caused the family, he knows he would do anything for his niece including seeing the woman he hurt most in the world. Seth asks Honor who now works for Last Chance Rescue for her help. They team up searching for a chilling serial kidnapper, but she no longer trusts the man she still loves.

The latest LCR romantic suspense (see the “Chance” trilogy and the “Rescue” trilogy) is a great thriller that grips the audience once the vile villains arrive on the scene. With homage to first responders who give up so much for our safety, this fast-paced story will have readers sitting on edge with what happens next.

Harriet Klausner

Prey-Linda Howard

Linda Howard
Ballantine, Sep 6 2011, $26.00
ISBN: 9780345506917

In rural Montana, thirtyish Angie Powell was operating a successful hunting business when former Iraq war veteran Dare Callahan came home to start up the same business. Three years as rivals has left Angie selling out as she lost this battle. She has one last final client to escort, Chad Krugman and his guest on a bear hunt in the wilderness.

However, the hunt goes ugly when Angie sees a murder and the killer sees her. Before either can react, a humongous black bear who has eaten humans attacks. Dare is nearby thanks to a mutual friend when he hears shots. He races to Angie to insure she is safe. As they flee together and confront their attraction, a killer and a five hundred pound beast pursue them while a storm makes survival more difficult.

Linda Howard provides her usual exhilarating romantic suspense as man, beast, and nature focus on two business rivals falling in love. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Krugman arrives for his trek into the wilderness. Loaded with action and well placed humor especially the banter between the lead couple, fans will enjoy the trek into a remote par of Big Sky Country.

Harriet Klausner

Late Edition-Fern Michaels

Late Edition
Fern Michaels
Kensington, Sep 1 2011, $15.00
ISBN: 9780758227225

In Malibu wealthy eight times widow Toot and her three Godmother BFFs hold a séance in which thirteen spirits including Sophie’s late husband abusive drunk Walter and Ida’s spouse Thomas arrive. Sophie tells Walter to rot in hell while Ida faints. Later on a mirror is “I was Poisoned”. They believe Thomas is telling Ida that someone murdered him. Mavis conceals her new business “Good Mourning Clothes” after being the only person to attend the funeral of a stranger.

In Savannah, Toots’ friend Bernice welcomes them home. She informs them of the Sweetest Things Bakery failing due to a rumor of a ghost and a customer died on the line. Sophie and Toots wonder what Mavis is hiding as she has packages to drop off at UPS. Toots goes to the bakery and meets the owner Janie; Toots buys a half interest. Mavis explains her new business, but needs a supplier as she has too many customers and no material. Toots calls her banker who says the supplier refuses to sell. The Godmothers break into the warehouse and steal the material as Toots leaves behind $10,000. At the next séance, they reach Thomas who writes “my daughter”. Ida says he had no daughter. Toots fears if he has one and she killed him, she may come after Ida next.

The third Godmothers thriller (see Exclusive and Scoop) continues the adventures of the four best female friends who each possess different personalities. Although the issues are resolved too easily and a key coincidence in Chicago helps resolve one subplot, Fern Michaels’s fans will enjoy the terrific camaraderie of the Godmothers, an elderly version of the Sisterhood.

Harriet Klausner

Our Daily Bread-Lauren B. Davis

Our Daily Bread
Lauren B. Davis
Wordcraft of Oregon, Oct 1 2011, $15.00
ISBN: 9781877655722

The people of Gideon ignore the Erskine clan that lives nearby on North Mountain. They see their neighbors as beyond redemption who fornicate like beasts and perform sexual depraved acts on children; most of whom are the offspring of incest. The elders used to sell moonshine, but find meth more lucrative though that turns them even more violently abusive.

Albert Erskine is the only adult who turns his back on the mountain. He lives as a hermit in an isolated cabin. His dream is to leave, but Albert knows if he does his family will kill him because nobody leaves the clan and the children need the little protection he can give.

In Gideon fifteen year old Bobby Evan’s mother ran off with a man leaving her teenage son angry and bitter. His father Tom drowns himself in alcohol while his sister Ivy fled to the haven of Widow Dorothy Carlisle and Albert offer his friendship to Bobby. Danger stalks the mountain residents when Albert tries to help Bobby and himself.

The God-fearing Gideonites fail to act to prevent child abuse including rape and incest but though they feel shame for not living up to the Lord’s expectations they rationalize that intervention is not their problem as “we’ are pious and “they” are sinners. Albert forces everyone to look deep into their soul as he protects the clan’s children and though he befriends Bobby he also tries to keep him safe from self destructing as best as he can. Timely with the Jeff’s trial in Texas and based on a true story, readers will appreciate this dark family drama that asks everyone not what God can do for you, but what can you do for God.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, August 6, 2011

The Scroll-Grant R. Jeffrey and Alton L. Gansky

The Scroll
Grant R. Jeffrey and Alton L. Gansky
WaterBrook, Sep 6 2011, $14.99
ISBN: 9780307729262

After finding Herod the Great’s tunnel renowned biblical archaeologist David Chambers quits that discipline. Following the death of his mother and his father’s failure to leave a dig to be at her side, David lost his faith and his passion for Israeli digs. When he gave up on the Lord, he also lost his devout archeologist fiancée Dr. Amber Rogers.

In 2013 David considers studying the Olmecs in Mexico when his mentor Dr. Abram Ben-Judah asks him to join a special dig in Israel sponsored by wealthy John Trent. Using modern technology, the team will look for the treasures hidden from the Romans listed in the Copper Scroll. He is unhappy with his teammates Nuri Aumann and especially Amber. As they work in secret and under heavy security, David has doubts especially when some of the crew die in an explosion and those doubts are further enhanced when he learns the hidden agenda of his mentor.

This is an exciting archeological thriller enhanced by security and political concerns. The story line is fast-paced and filled with action in a sort of modern day Indiana Jones way. Although David’s behavior at times seems that of a spoiled child which detracts from the dangerous digs, readers will appreciate The Scroll as Grant R. Jeffrey and Alton L. Gansky provide an engaging tale.

Harriet Klausner

A Rhumba in Waltz Time-Robert S. Levinson

A Rhumba in Waltz Time
Robert S. Levinson
Five Star, Sep 7 2011, $25.95
ISBN: 9781432824976

In 1933, LAPD detective Chris Blanchard watches the demise of his police career when he refuses to ignore a peer roughing a prostitute. Forced off the force because he violated the unwritten rule, Blanchard obtains work at the MGM studio. He fixes problems.

In 1938 actress Marie MacDaniels arrives at Blanchard’s home drunk and distraught. She claims she shot and killed her spouse, actor Day Covington. She gives her gun to Blanchard. He arrives at the crime scene and finds proof she never shot her husband. While seeking to expedite her from the mess, he hides MacDaniels in a safe place. Soon afterward other homicides occur including Otto Rothman the photographer. Clues lead to Bugsy Siegel and American Nazis.

A Rhumba in Waltz Time is a superb Depression Era Hollywood Noir. Blanchard is a tough protagonist who does not take prisoners as he investigates the Day murder and soon other homicides as an extension of his troubleshooting work for MGM. Readers will enjoy this 1930s thriller as the MGM major and minor leagues star system comes across in living color (even if the movies were mostly black and white).

Harriet Klausner