Monday, October 31, 2011

Death, Taxes and a French Manicure-Diane Kelly

Death, Taxes and a French Manicure

Diane Kelly

St. Martin’s, Nov 1 2011, $7.99

ISBN: 9780312551261

IRS Agent Tara Holloway works white collar tax frauds. Her small town kick butt Texas attitude works great when dealing with violent Dallas offenders. Working a case with agent Eddie Bardin, she is forced to fire her gun at menacing felon Battaglia, shooting a box cutter knife from his hand. Thus in spite of her cut arm, she earns the rep of Annie Oakley.

Tara’s boss Lu “Lobo” Lobozinksi assigns her first solo task to investigate a granny complaint that ice-cream truck salesman Joseph “Joe Cool” Cullen failed to report his profits from selling illegal drugs to teenagers. Her other major inquiry is much more complex than a drug dealer. She scrutinizes the dealings of financier Michael Gryder and banker Stan Shelton, who appear to be running a Ponzi scheme. The problem is her best friend Brett Ellington is Shelton’s landscaper.

The first exciting Tara Holloway IRS investigative tale is an entertaining story that stars a tomboyish mascara wearing noir heroine who appreciates a French manicure. The story line is lighthearted fun as Tara works the Dallas beat along with other agents. Although some readers may dislike the wisecracking asides especially when facing danger; the story line is filled with humor and satire as the IRS does not care whether the gains are legal only that Sam collects its share.

Harriet Klausner

The Black Stiletto-Raymond Benson

The Black Stiletto

Raymond Benson

Oceanview, Sep 5 2011, $25.95

ISBN: 9781608090204

Septuagenarian Judy Talbot resides in the Woodlands Nursing Home in Riverwoods, Illinois. “Uncle” Thomas gives Judy’s forty-eight year old divorced son Martin the accountant a journal. Judy gave the dairy to Thomas to give to Martin if the time is right.

Martin is stunned to learn his ailing mom claimed she was the famous pop hero of five decades ago the Black Stiletto vigilante. Judy explains what happened in 1958 when she was twenty years old. Being very tall and athletically gifted with incredible senses she dedicated herself to fighting evil. Disbelieving her account though there is great detail and he knew his mom was a terrific athlete, the skeptical Martin changes his mind when seventy-eight years old Roberto Ranelli, just released from prison after a fifty-two year stay, arrives to threaten Judy, her son and her granddaughter.

This exciting thriller moves back and forth between Martin reading his mom’s diary and Judy’s description of her exploits; bridging the five decades is Ranelli who has a voice in both decades. The story line is over the top of Wrigley Field, but fun to read especially the fast-paced exploits as accounted by a young female heroine.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, October 30, 2011

A Study in Sherlock-Laurie R. King (Editor) and Leslie S. Klinger (Editor)

A Study in Sherlock

Laurie R. King (Editor) and Leslie S. Klinger (Editor)

Bantam, Oct 25 2011, $15.00

ISBN: 9780812982466

The sixteen contributions are over all quite good with no clinkers though few are outstanding enough to stand out in the vast Sherlock universe. Alan Bradley opens the overall engaging homage to the great detective of 221B Baker Street with a throwback tale that comes across as if Mr. Doyle wrote You’d Better Go in Disguise” if you want to catch a killer in a park. Tony Broadbent as a modern day taxi driver give a fare “As to an “Exact Knowledge of London” tour in a strange but enticing entry. In 1901 President McKinley meets with Holmes in Buffalo with a strange request (see “Starling Events in the Electrified City” by Thomas Perry). An Anglophile FBI agent investigate the murder of an American in London, only to learn the path from Baker Street to Leavenworth is through Pennsylvania in “The Bone Headed league” by Lee Child. The Margolin brothers have Baker Street trivia guru New Yorker Ronald Adair on the moors solving “The Adventure of the Purloined Paget.” Colin Cotterill provides a refreshing amusing take with his animated “The Mysterious Case of the Unwritten Short Story.” Finally Jacqueline Winspear ends the collection with an ailing lad inspired after reading Holmes to solve the case with “A Spit of Detection.”

Harriet Klausner

Gideon's Sword-Douglas Preston & Child

Gideon's Sword

Douglas Preston & Child

Vision/Grand Central, Oct 25 2011, $7.99

ISBN: 9780446564311

On her dying bed, the mother of art thief Gideon Crew informs him his late father was framed and murdered by his Army Intel Officer superiors to take the fall for their blunders. She makes him take a death bed pledge to avenge his dad. As he did as a thief, Gideon prepares for his mission and after a few years completes his mother’s last plea.

Gideon takes his first vacation since he leaned the truth about his father. While he is fly-fishing, a Department of Homeland Security agent, who observed how meticulous and successful Crew was on his family vendetta, offers him money to obtain the plans of a special weapon of mass destruction being brought from China to New York. Having doubts about the case, the Fed throws in the fact that Crew is dying from an incurable disease. Meanwhile the Chinese hire Nodding Crane to regain their WMD plans.

This is an entertaining over the top of the Empire State Building thriller starring an intriguing hero with a depressing history. The enemy agent is cartoonish as a super killing machine, but he adds fun to the tale that initially will remind readers of the TV show Revenge until DHS recruits Crew. Readers will root for Crew as he battles a powerful adversary for the plans to a WMD.

Harriet Klausner

Resuscitation-D.M. Annechino


D.M. Annechino

Thomas & Mercer, Oct 11 2011, $14.95

ISBN: 9781612180717

Two years ago, San Diego homicide detective Sami Rizzo confronted a serial killer who she felt took away her zest for police work (see They Never Die Quietly). After resolving the case but not before the predator tortured her, she resigned. Sami remains conflicted over quitting the department while struggling with her relationships with loved ones.

Sami learns that a corpse has been found in Mission Bay Park with the sternum surgically cut. Other bodies also sliced with physician’s precision also surface as if someone was conducting medical experiments. Like SDPD, Sami believes a serial killer is loose and she wants in on the case.

A child abuse victim, heart surgeon Dr. Julian seeks a cure for atrial fibrillation, which killed his mother. However, his grant request is denied, which spins his already psychosis into an obsessive compulsive need.

Sami’s super second case is an exhilarating thriller due to the lead antagonists as D.M. Annechino provides an insightful comparative analysis of how two people cope radically different with traumas. Ironically Julian’s rationale that the end justifies the means makes him the more fascinating character as his defense rings authentic especially since 9/11. Although there are too many subplots involving family members, fans will appreciate this entertaining thought provoking police procedural.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Hot Water-Erin Brockovich and C.J. Lyons

Hot Water

Erin Brockovich and C.J. Lyons

Vanguard, Nov 8 2011, $25.99

ISBN: 9781593156848

Following the death of her lover Cole, the father of her nine year old son David who suffers from cerebral palsy, A.J. Palladino returns to her hometown, Scotia, West Virginia. The environmental activist partners with attorney Elizabeth Hardy on environmental investigations. Owen Grandel wants to hire the famous A.J. to persuade protestors that his nuclear power plant is safe. The million dollar fee will help care for her disabled child.

Ignoring her values A.J. accompanies Owen to his plant in South Carolina. Her actions upset David who detests his mom selling out because of his condition. The tweener also overhears his grandfather plotting to gain custody of him. He turns to family friend Sheriff Ty to counter the diabolical lethal scheme of his grandfather. In South Carolina, as a hurricane bears down on the state, a fanatic wants to use the reactor to trigger Armageddon.

With the recent nuclear mess in Japan, Hot Water is a relevant environmental thriller that grips the audience once A.J. and Owen meet. The heroine is caught between her values and her son’s economic needs, which add realism to the mix. Although the detracting grandfather plot is over the top of Sassafras Mountain, the clean safe nuclear energy issue makes for a fabulous A.J. environmental thriller (see Rock Bottom).

Harriet Klausner

A Deadly Penance-Maureen Ash

A Deadly Penance

Maureen Ash

Berkley, Nov 1 2011, $14.00

ISBN: 9780425243367

In a freezing February in 1203, Serjeant of the Castle Garrison Ernulf walks the ramparts when he discovers the corpse of visitor Aubrey Tercel, part of the retinue of Peternille de la Haye, sister of the hereditary castellan Nicolaa de la Haye. The victim was obviously shot by a specially made longbow that Nicolaa’s late father gave her. Since the sheriff Gerald Camville is away, Ernulf informs Richard Camville, the son of Gerald and Ernulf. Richard and Ernulf conduct a preliminary investigation before telling Richard’s mom, aunt and cousin Alinor de Humez. They send for the coroner Pinchbeck who arrives to collect a fee for the death, but also claims that he is busy so Richard should investigate.

Nicolaa asks the Templar Preceptor d’Arderon if Knight Bascot de Marins can help with a homicide inquiry as he has solved murder mysteries before (see Shroud of Dishonor and Murder for Christ’s Mass) Thus he comes to Lincoln Castle to team up with Richard and Alinor, and assisted by Gianni who he brought with him from the Italian streets. The obvious culprit is Simon Adgate the furrier who’s much younger wife Clarice acts like her lover died. However, the case proves much more complicated with the roots born in 1177.

For the first quarter of the latest Templar Knight mystery, Bascot does not appear as Richard and Ernulf start the investigation. The four detectives make a wonderful team as their discussions are intelligent and relevant. Fans of medieval cozies, set in a vividly described background in which readers will feel the cold, will enjoy A Deadly Penance.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, October 17, 2011

Behind the Seams-Betty Hechman

Behind the Seams

Betty Hechman

Berkley, Nov 1 2011, $24.95

ISBN: 9780425241424

The Tarzana Hookers crochet group is excited as one of their members, actress CeeCee Collins has made a comeback with insiders talking Oscar. CeeCee is excited with appearing on the popular Barbara Olive Overton Show where her niece Nell works as a production assistant. Although the movie star is wary that she has to cook a dish, Molly Pink and other Hookers mentor CeeCee.

While the Tarzana Hookers sit in the audience, Barbara interviews CeeCee until Adele starts shouting that crocheters deserve equal time with knitters. Adele and Molly, who tried to get the outspoken Hooker to sit, are removed from the auditorium by segment producer Robyn Freed. Nell brings a latte to Robyn who lectures her for not bringing her sweetener. Nell gets it and Robyn sips her cold coffee only to fall down dead. Detective Heather leads the homicide investigation in which the only suspect is Nell. As Nell is placed on leave, CeeCee asks Molly, who has solved mysteries (see You Better Knot Die) to investigate. Molly begins her inquiry fascinated by a photo on the victim’s desk in which a person has been cut out.

The latest Tarzana Hookers amateur sleuth is an entertaining tale although the whodunit for much of the story line plays second fiddle to the Behind the Seams look at the group. Nell is a delightful protagonist who is in denial as to how much trouble she is in. Cozy fans will enjoy this lighthearted whodunit as CeeCee trusts Molly to extract Nell from going to prison while Adele keeps screaming for Crocheters to unite.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, October 16, 2011

A Study in Scarlet-Laurie R. King (Editor) and Leslie S. Klinger (Editor)

A Study in Scarlet

Laurie R. King (Editor) and Leslie S. Klinger (Editor)

Bantam, Oct 25 2011, $15.00

ISBN: 9780812982466

The sixteen contributions are over all quite good with no clinkers though few are outstanding enough to stand out in the vast Sherlock universe. Alan Bradley opens the overall engaging homage to the great detective of 221B Baker Street with a throwback tale that comes across as if Mr. Doyle wrote You’d Better Go in Disguise” if you want to catch a killer in a park. Tony Broadbent as a modern day taxi driver give a fare “As to an “Exact Knowledge of London” tour in a strange but enticing entry. In 1901 President McKinley meets with Holmes in Buffalo with a strange request (see “Starling Events in the Electrified City” by Thomas Perry). An Anglophile FBI agent investigate the murder of an American in London, only to learn the path from Baker Street to Leavenworth is through Pennsylvania in “The Bone Headed league” by Lee Child. The Margolin brothers have Baker Street trivia guru New Yorker Ronald Adair on the moors solving “The Adventure of the Purloined Paget.” Colin Cotterill provides a refreshing amusing take with his animated “The Mysterious Case of the Unwritten Short Story.” Finally Jacqueline Winspear ends the collection with an ailing lad inspired after reading Holmes to solve the case with “A Spit of Detection.”

Harriet Klausner

Dangerous Alterations-Elizabeth Lynn Casey

Dangerous Alterations

Elizabeth Lynn Casey

Berkley, Nov 1 2011, $7.99

ISBN: 9780425244616

At the local clinic, town librarian Tori Sinclair and the members of the Sweet Briar Ladies Society provide support to the knitting circle’s matriarch Rose Winter as she receives treatment for rheumatoid arthritis. Tori is taken aback by another patient at the clinic. Two years ago in Chicago, she was engaged to Jeff Calder but caught him with a friend. She broke it off and took the library position in Sweet Briar, South Caroline. Now Jeff’s Great-Aunt Vera is at the clinic, but soon dies from heart failure.

Lynn, the wife of Vera’s stepson Garrett, is at the clinic; she suffers from breast cancer. She asks Tori to call Jeff as she knows Garrett will not since he hates his relative. Tori does the right thing and even picks up the womanizing personal trainer Jeff at the airport. When Jeff asks for a second chance, Tori rejects him as she has a caring beau schoolteacher Milo and the friendship of the sewing circle life rafts. Though in great shape, Jeff dies of a heart attack while jogging, which is not a shocker since it runs in his family. However, because of a recent physical, the police treat Jeff’s death as a murder with family members and Tori as suspects. The sewing circle sisters investigate the death.

The latest Southern Sewing Circle amateur sleuth (see deadly Notions) is an entertaining whodunit with the investigative subplot coming late. Instead much of the story line focuses on the Sweet Briar Ladies Society members especially Tori with Jeff in town and Milo away at a convention. With a deft look at health care insurance, fans will enjoy this fun regional cozy which includes how to knit a comfort pillow.

Harriet Klausner

The Talk Show Murders-Al Roker and Dick Lochte

The Talk Show Murders

Al Roker and Dick Lochte

Delacorte, Dec 6 2011, $26.00

ISBN 9780385343701

Wake Up, America! Morning show is on location in Chicago. Retired CPD cop Edward “Pat” Patton, the extreme right wing true crime blogger, guests appears on the show. He accosts the co-host Billy Blessing; whom he knew when the renowned chef was a two bit con artist Billy Blanchard who was sent to prison for fraud and implies he also knows what happened to Billy’s partner in that failed Detroit sting from twenty-five years ago.

After prison, Blessing did a complete makeover but concealed his sordid past. Patton threatens to out him on his blog unless Blanchard pays for silence. However, someone murders Patton and soon other homicides associated with the show occur. Still fearing exposure, Blessing investigates hoping to expose the killer.

The latest Blessing amateur sleuth (see The Morning Show Murders and The Midnight Show Murders) is an entertaining mystery in which the protagonist’s dark past deftly comingles with his lighthearted asides. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Patton and Blessing have that first heated discussion and never slows down until the final spin. Ironically, though in danger of becoming the tabloid’s latest celeb scandal and being assaulted, kidnapped, and shot at, Blessing knows his biggest tsuris is his attraction to the French actress in town filming.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, October 14, 2011

Triple Shot-Sandro Balzo

Triple Shot

Sandro Balzo

Severn House, Dec 1 2011, $27.99

ISBN: 9780727880796

At the Brookhills Junction Depot in Wisconsin, the owners of Uncommon Grounds Maggy Thorsen and Sarah Kingston are ecstatic as their gourmet coffeehouse appears on the brink of success especially their popular autumn espresso while a chill is in the air.

At the same Sarah the Kingston Realtor is being investigated for a complaint filed by her apprentice Brigid Ferndale. Not long afterward, the smell of a rotting corpse overwhelms the usual pleasant odor of A Cup of Jo. They follow the nasty scent into a room neither knew existed. Inside a closet is the dead body of Brigid. Brookhills County Sheriff Jake Pavlilk investigates the homicide while thinking he is Lassie to Sarah’s Timmy as he likes her but she seems to become brewed in too many homicides. As he works the case in which Sarah is the obvious prime suspect, Maggy also investigates From the Grounds Up.

The latest Thorsen caffeine crime cozy affirms that this series remains one of the best gourmet amateur sleuths on the market. The whodunit is cleverly constructed as sassy Sarah seems to be the solo suspect. Courageous Maggy knows her partner is a hemorrhoid bringer, but would never murder anyone so she sets out to find the real killer. Although their location seems to be a “morgue”, armchair readers will enjoy sipping coffee as Maggy does the leg work.

Harriet Klausner

The Secret in Their Eyes-Eduardo Sacheri

The Secret in Their Eyes

Eduardo Sacheri

Other Press, Oct 18 2011, $15.95

ISBN: 9781590514504

In Argentina, sixty years old Benjamin Chaparro has retired after three plus decades investigating crime. He knows he is an ancient dinosaur who has seen so much change in his country from the nasty Dirty War period to the cleansing afterward. However, one case remains imprinted in his gut; the one he begins to write a book about.

When Benjamin was in his late twenties back in 1968 as a Palace of Justice deputy clerk, he investigated the brutal rape and murder of teacher Liliana Colotto. His inquiry had three results. First he identifies the killer Gomez through revealing photos; he kept the case from going cold until four years later he caught the culprit, but corruption superseded justice. Second that fed the raging frenzy of the victim’s husband Morales who lived with one value: avenging his late wife. Finally, though he did everything right except for falling in love with intern Irene Hornos who did not reciprocate his feelings, Benjamin had to flee Buenos Aires for over a decade as connections and corruption made him a target of the execution goons deploying the Dirty war.

This is a translation of a terrific historical Argentinian police procedural that will grip readers with the outcome on the three men linked forever with the death of the young woman. The story line is fast-paced whether the setting is the sexagenarian pondering about his book or the investigation the years in self exile. With a deep dark look at The War Years, readers will understand why the movie version of the novel won Best Foreign Film Oscar.

Harriet Klausner

Getting Lucky-DC Brod

Getting Lucky

DC Brod

Tyrus, Dec 18 2011, $24.95

ISBN: 9781440531989

Freelance writer Robyn Guthrie enjoys her assignments for the Weekly News and Record. However, she is heartbroken when staff reporter Clair dies in a hit and run accident in a side of the road that makes no sense for her to be walking there. Clair’s editor hires Robyn to finish the late reporter’s piece on the Cedar Ridge subdivision; she accepts the assignment with the caveat she will investigate her peer’s death also.

Robyn diligently works both stories while dealing with personal traumas. Her senile mom is losing her memory and driving her crazy while residing in an assisted living facility; and the reporter is not seeing her long boyfriend Mick over the issue of children. Her two stories converge when she follows Clair’s notes and photos as something is insidiously wrong at Cedar Grove. This evil kills parents and children. Robyn develops a plan, but to succeed she needs cooperation from a lot of people wary to get involved.

Dealing with people who break the law on land deals is hard enough, but when these same felons place children in danger to make more money is evil. Robyn’s high school adversary is involved though initially ignorant and tries to make things as right as can be though the horse has left the barn. The storyline focuses on the key characters including a “blackmailing” rogue former EPA field agent and what motivates each to act and react in the way they do.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Hickory Smoked Homicide-Riley Adams

Hickory Smoked Homicide

Riley Adams

Berkley, Nov 1 2011, $7.99

ISBN: 9780425244609

In Memphis, Widow Lulu Taylor owns popular Aunt Pat’s BBQ. Lulu hires teenager Steffi Pembroke as a waitress and gives her a room to stay in after her mother the odious pageant coach Tristan tossed her out of their home. Not long after that Lulu, her friend saucy Cherry Hayes, her daughter-in-law Sara and Steffi attend an auction at Tristan’s home. Sara and Tristan get into a heated argument over a portrait the former painted of the latter. Soon after the argument Lulu searches for Sara, but cannot find her; instead she finds the murdered body of Tristan; something the MPD notes is a regular part of her lifestyle (see Finger Lickin’ Dead and Delicious and Suspicious).

The prime suspect is Sara due to the public conflict and a series of bad luck at the wrong time. Sara’s husband Ben worries about his wife even as he arranges a blind date for his mom with popular food blogger Gordon. Lulu refuses to allow the mother of her grandchild to go to jail so with Cherry they begin to investigate who committed Hickory Smoked Homicide.

The third Memphis BBQ Mystery is an entertaining regional amateur sleuth starring a quirky neighborhood cast. Although the mischance that has Sara in peril is way too much of a coincidence, so much so fans will change Murphy’s Law to Sara’s Syndrome, fans will enjoy this fine cozy as Lulu and Cherry find more suspects than ingredients in Brunswick Stew but a final terrific twist adds just the right amount of source to Riley Adams’ fun whodunit.

Harriet Klausner

Silent Kills-C.E. Lawrence

Silent Kills

C.E. Lawrence

Pinnacle, Dec 6 2001, $7.99

ISBN: 9780786025626

NYPD criminal profiler Lee Campbell has returned to work after a leave of absence, but the depression caused by his sister’s disappearance led to a nervous breakdown that crippled and hospitalized him The depression remains strong just at a lesser degree of intensity. His current case is profiling the killer of Candy Nugent who was seen at a steampunk club before dying from exsanguination. While Bronx Major Crimes Unit Chief Morton comments about The Bride of Dracula, Lee fears this draining of the blood indicates that the cops are dealing with a tyro serial killer just starting a reign of terror.

Lee’s prediction proves true when three more victims are found from a predator who injects his victims with a sedative to make it easier for him to remove his target from a club crowd before draining the blood. What the police do not know is that this psychopath drinks the blood. The young dead females remind Lee of his sibling, which increases the level of his depression.

Although insane serial killers running rampart (see Silent Victims and Silent Screams) are as frequent as mindless zombies and angst vampires, C.E. Lawrence refreshes the theme with a mentally wounded protagonist struggling with a nasty case that reminds him of the cause of his depression. The story line occurs when 9/11 remains fresh in the minds of New Yorkers, which adds tension to the tale. Rotating point of view enables the audience to understand the beast’s motivation while the protagonist displays his raw sensitivities on his sleeve. Scream III is a terrific police procedural.

Harriet Klausner

Physical Education-Maggie Barbieri

Physical Education

Maggie Barbieri

Minotaur, Nov 22 2011, $24.99

ISBN: 9780312593292

At the northern most tip of New York City is St. Thomas Catholic College. When the girl’s basketball coach dies, English Lit professor Alison Bergeron is drafted to take over at a time when the daughter of her husband Homicide Detective Bobby Crawford is a star player. She is leaving for the day when security guard John Dugan notices her trunk is not locked, which surprises the instructor. When they cannot shut it, they open it to find the bloody corpse of the new mail room employee Paul, who just delivered a package to Alison. Two colleagues of Crawford, Montoya and Moran lead the inquiry.

Crawford goes undercover, which bothers his wife who still has scars from her first cheating husband. He informs her that Paul was Vito Passella, a foot soldier in the Lucarelli mob. Alison begins a bit of uncovers sleuthing finding evidence which point to the former late coach of the Blue Jays being murdered instead of dying from a heart attack. Soon afterward an accusation of sexual misconduct shakes the school. Unable to remain on the bench, Alison’s moral code has her making inquires into what is going on at St. Thomas.

Physical Education, the latest Murder 101 amateur sleuth (see Third Degree, Final Exam and Quick Study), is an entertaining academic cozy. Crawford sums up the tale and series as he believes his wife has good instincts in terms of solving homicides, but poor instincts in terms of not being the next victim. With amusing asides from the protagonist, fans will enjoy stopping at St. Thomas Catholic College for its breathtaking view of the Hudson and academic homicides.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

El Gavilan-Craig McDonald

El Gavilan

Craig McDonald

Tyrus, Dec 18 2011, $24.95

ISBN: 9781440531941

Tell Lyons left the Border Patrol following the deaths of his wife and child in a firebombing incident. He accepts a position as Chief of Police of New Austin, Ohio. Although he is no where near the border, the town and Horton County have illegal immigration issues.

However, as Horton County Sheriff Able Hawk enforces the federal immigration law, someone rapes and murders single mom Thalia Ruiz, a legal Mexican-American. Tell investigates with pressure to not dig too deep. His only ally is Able who believes in enforcing the law regardless of what race broke it. As other deadly assaults on legal or not Latina occurs, Tell begins to come back to life when he meets and is attracted to natural citizen Patricia Maldonado, whose parents are documented; not that it matters to some.

This is an exciting pull no punches look at the full immigration issue. The story line is action-packed as the two law enforcement officials investigate the horrific felon in which they believe blood is red while other “profilers” believe their opponents need to bleed. Gruesome, Craig McDonald extrapolates the immigration issue insanity into a powerful condemnation of all sides.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

If I Should Die-Allison Brennan

If I Should Die

Allison Brennan

Ballantine, Nov 22 2011, $7.99

ISBN 9780345520418

FBI agent Lucy Kincaid and her boyfriend private investigator Seth Rogan go on a romantic Adirondacks vacation. They enjoy wake up sex when they smell smoke. The nearby Spruce Lake Inn is on fire with an apparent arsonist fleeing the scene. Sean borrows an ATV from the resort owner and pursues the firebug. He falls inside an abandoned mine shaft.

Kincaid extracts Rogan from the mine, but she also finds the corpse of a young woman inside the shaft. Sheriff’s deputy Weddle ridicules Kincaid as the body vanished. As Rogan heals from his dislocated shoulder and minor scrapes and bruises, he and Kincaid investigate a murder that the townsfolk ignore. Someone tries to kill the intruders while FBI agent Noah Armstrong arrives to assist his friends.

The third Lucy Kincaid FBI suspense (see Love Me To Death and Kiss Me, Kill Me) is an exhilarating tale from the moment the idyllic week ends with the arson. The story line is fast-paced throughout as reader will enjoy this taut tale while also wondering whether Kincaid can tell Rogan she loves him.

Bonus novella: Love Is Murder. Lucy Kincaid visits her brother Patrick, a former cop, in the Sierra Nevada’s. Also at the Delarosa Mountain Retreat are three newlywed couples. A snowstorm isolates the lodge from the outside as one of the brides Vanessa took too many pills and is found dead. Patrick suspects murder, but he becomes ill, so Lucy investigates the homicide. This is an entertaining locked lodge mystery occurring before the heroine became a Fed but Kincaid professionally works the case like a seasoned veteran.

Harriet Klausner

Hurt Machine-Reed Farrel Coleman

Hurt Machine

Reed Farrel Coleman

Tyrus, Nov 18 2011, $15.95

ISBN: 9781440531996

Brooklyn private investigator Moe Prager learns he has a golf ball tumor in his stomach that reminds him of his discussions with his late friend Auschwitz survivor Izzy Roth about God being the ultimate tough love advocate. His stomach cancer will wait until after his daughter Sarah marries Vermont State Prosecutor Paul, the biological son of Rico, his police buddy back in the Coney Island days.

At a pre-wedding party, his former wife Carmella Melendez pleads with Moe to investigate the stabbing death of her estranged sister, Alta Conseco; the cops show no interest as the bitch got what she deserved. His former sister-in-law was a FDNY EMT who became the focus of international scorn a few months ago when she and her peer Maya Watson refused to treat cook Robert Tillman as he was dying at an upscale restaurant from a stroke. Mo never could say no to Carmella even though she ripped out his heart when she left him for Toronto. Watson in hiding offers little useful information to Moe as she prefers to remain concealed. He makes little progress, but refuses to quit as he slowly, with the help of a former cop buddy, uncovers a department filled with de facto harassment and extortion.

Moe’s cynical bone weary Brooklyn shtick makes for a strong private investigative thriller loaded with plausible twists and a terrific resolution. The story line is an action-paced trek on the mean streets of New York as Prager is at his best, which says a lot (see Empty Ever After and Innocent Monster), working his element of looking into sleaze.

Harriet Klausner

Herald of Death-Kate Kingsbury

Herald of Death

Kate Kingsbury

Berkley, Nov 1 2011, $15.00

ISBN: 9780425243350

As snow is on the ground in Badger's End, someone kills delivery boy Jimmy Taylor and shoemaker Thomas Willow. In each case, the culprit cut off a lock of hair and left behind a gold angel on their forehead. Constable Sam Northcutt surprises Cecily Sinclair Baxter of the Pennyfoot Hotel, when he asks for her help as normally he is annoyed with her sleuthing though he admits she has a successful solve rate (see Mistletoe And Mayhem). Her husband Baxter reminds Cecily of her promise to do no detecting this year.

She tries to nudge her spouse to free her from her promise, as the first telegram arrives, canceling reservations at the Pennyfoot. He reluctantly agrees to let her sleuth while lecturing stable hand Samuel to stay at her side at all times. As Cecily seeks links between the victims, more murders with gold angels as a signature and cancelations make this the deadly season of the Herald of Death.

The latest early twentieth century Special Pennyfoot Hotel Mystery (see Decked With Folly) is another superb homicidal historical holiday cozy. The "Upstairs, Downstairs” class difference just before WWI comes alive, as it always does in the Pennyfoot saga, in this exciting amateur sleuth. Although the story line starts a bit slower than normal as the feisty heroine must extract her self from her promise to her spouse, series fans will enjoy realizing she has come a long way with the inept Northcutt and her concerned spouse recognizing her sleuthing skills.

Harriet Klausner

The Alpine Winter-Mary Daheim

The Alpine Winter

Mary Daheim

Ballantine, Nov 29 2011, $25.00

ISBN: 9780345502599

During the holiday season of 2004 in Alpine, Washington Emma Lord, editor and publisher of the Alpine Advocate, misses her lover sheriff Milo Dodge who is in the Seattle area dealing with his ex wife and their daughter. Emma has her own family to contend with over the Christmas season as her son Father Adam and her brother Father Ben are coming to see her.

Meanwhile human bones are found on the Skykomish River while some kids exploring a cave find human male remains. The townsfolk especially Roy Everson wonder whether the grisly river find is his mother Myrtle, who vanished sixteen years ago while berry picking and if the cave discovery is linked. At the same time Troy Laskey escapes from jail. His parents moved to Alpine to be near him, as he serves time for drug trafficking; his father is a reporter at the Advocate. Emma’s best friend House & Home editor Vida Runkel has problems with her spoiled grandson. When Milo returns to town, they have to figure out who killed the person that the bones belonged to while dealing with Ben who disapproves of her relationship with Milo.

The latest Emma Lord Cascades cozy (see The Alpine Vengeance) is an extended family affair highlighted with the knowledge that Milo will always be there for the love of his life. There is plenty happening to the townsfolk as this is a Christmas filled with death and attempted murder. Although newcomers will find it difficult to engage with the long running cast, everyone will relish the exciting Alpine Winter mystery.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, October 10, 2011

A Perilous Conception-Larry Karp

A Perilous Conception

Larry Karp

Poisoned Pen, Dec 6 2011, $24.95

ISBN: 9781590589731

In 1977 in Emerald, Washington, obstetrician Colin Sanford believes his name and face will be recognized by peers and even the public. Assisted by embryologist Giselle Hearn, he has completed the first in vitro fertilization of an infertile patient, Joyce Kennett.

Colin prepares to host a news conference where he will announce to the world the birth of Joyce’s son. However, Joyce’s husband, James commits murder/suicide when he shoots Hearn before killing himself. Changing his plans, Colin cancels the news conference and hides an incriminating log book. Meanwhile Emerald Police Detective Bernie Baumgartner leads the investigation into what seems a closed case. However, he finds an anomaly when Hearn’s chair at the University OBGYN department Dr. L. Gerald Camnitz, who opposed the technique under moral and legal grounds, vanished. Sanford proves uncooperative as he fears the scandal will cost him his place in history; the University also stonewalls the inquiry as they fear the loss of federal funding. Still Baumgartner keeps digging as something seems off kilter besides a missing chair.

This is a super twisting medical murder and historical thriller that brings to life the competion to be first to successfully use in vitro fertilization. Fast-paced with a cat and mouse chess game between two intelligent stubborn men, fans will appreciate Larry Karp’s interesting suspense.

Harriet Klausner

Poison, Your Grace-Peg Herring

Poison, Your Grace

Peg Herring

Five Star, Nov 16 2011, $25.95

ISBN 9781432825362

In 1552, King Edward VI sends a messenger to escort Thomas Carthburt Master Apothecary to Whitehall. His apprentice Simon Maldon accompanies Master Carthburt. Thomas explains to his apprentice the king wants to know what killed Lord Amberson who was healthy while dining with the monarch when suddenly he was in horrific agony. Carthburt believes arsenic poisoning is the cause. Lord Protector Dudley assigns the apothecary to provide whatever the king requires to keep him safe, but warns them to be silent and not to investigate.

A second death occurs when Marie apparently trips and breaks her neck. While everyone assumes a sad accident happened, Simon wonders otherwise with two deaths on the same day being quite a coincidence. Most at Whitehall look at ambitious Princess Elizabeth, second in line to the throne, as trying to poison her ailing brother. Elizabeth fears the real culprit is framing her and will try again so she contacts Simon to assist her like he did six years ago (see Her Highness’ First Murder). Simon’s fiancée Hannah, transfers from Hampstead Castle to go undercover at Whitehall. Additional poisonings and other accidents all point at Elizabeth. With Simon and Hannah, Elizabeth investigates the closed castle conspiracy.

The key to the Simon & Elizabeth (& Hannah) Mystery is that the princess comes across plausible as an amateur sleuth. The story line is fast-paced from the moment the messenger escorts to the apothecary and his apprentice to the palace and never slows down until the final denouement. Fans of Karen Harper’s Elizabeth I Mystery and Fiona Buckley’s Ursula Blanchard Mystery will want to read this strong entry that occurs several years before the princess becomes the queen.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Throwaway Girl-David Heinzmann

Throwaway Girl

David Heinzmann

Five Star, Nov 16 2011, $25.95

ISBN 9781432825508

Chicago heiress Alice Jane Ash works as a project coordinator helping the homeless. However, when she drowns, the CPD quickly decide the death of AJ was accidental.

Her mom Jane Ash rejects the official police position as she thinks her caring daughter was murdered. She hires alcoholic private investigator Augustine Flood to investigate what really happened to her daughter. Flood quickly leans the deceased focused almost entirely on rescuing child prostitutes. He further finds out AJ recently took one of the underage hookers Britney with no known surname into her apartment. AJ follows Britney’s nebulous trail of prostitution, pimps and Johns to Las Vegas, Los Angeles and finally ending in Clarksdale, Mississippi as he probes what happened to the late heiress back in Chicago.

The second Augustine Flood private investigator tale (see A Word to the Wise) is a fast-paced, action-packed thriller in which the lead’s path forms a triangle with no twists or spins. The mystery is clever, but it is the protagonist’s dark tour of the morbid underbelly of American society that is a disheartening condemnation that gut punchs the reader with somber realism.

Harriet Klausner

Danger In The Wind-Jane Finnis

Danger In The Wind

Jane Finnis

Poisoned Pen, Dec 6 2011, $24.95

ISBN: 9781590588901

In 100 AD Britannia, Roman expatriate twins Lucius and Aurelia Marcella are contented with their lives even with residing in a frontier province. Lucius owns The Oak Tree Mansio on the road to what will be York in the future while Aurelia runs the establishment. Their mansio combines an inn with a stable and a bar.

On this busy summer day, Aurelia’s idyllic world shatters. First at her Mansio someone murders a soldier possessing a letter claiming danger at Fort Isurium is forthcoming. Second Lucius shows up with his betrothed Vitellia the spoiled “kitten”. Third her cousin Jovina invites them to attend her birthday party in Fort Isurium but implies a need for help from danger. Lucius refuses to allow his sibling to go into a perilous situation. He heard rumors of war and wants his family safe. However, Aurelia disobeys his order and goes to the northern fort. There she rejoices in seeing her lover Quintus the spy who is following up on information of trouble at Isurium. The rebels abduct Vitellia, Jovina’s daughter Chloe, her lover Gambol, Lucius and Quintus. Aurelia works to free them before war erupts and they are killed by the hostage takers.

The fourth Aurelia Marcella ancient historical mystery (see Buried too Deep circa 98 AD, Bitter Chill circa 95 AD and Get Out Or Die circa 91 AD) contains a strong whodunit inside a rich period piece. The heroine is a courageous independent person whose obstinacy and bravery drives her brother crazy with worry. The amateur sleuth mystery is entertaining while the audience also vividly sees life in a divided Roman frontier province as the second century begins. Jane Finnis provides her fans with a deep look at Britannia circa 100 AD and they will enjoy reading every page of it.

Harriet Klausner

Danger In The Wind-Jane Finnis

Danger In The Wind

Jane Finnis

Poisoned Pen, Dec 6 2011, $24.95

ISBN: 9781590588901

In 100 AD Britannia, Roman expatriate twins Lucius and Aurelia Marcella are contented with their lives even with residing in a frontier province. Lucius owns The Oak Tree Mansio on the road to what will be York in the future while Aurelia runs the establishment. Their mansio combines an inn with a stable and a bar.

On this busy summer day, Aurelia’s idyllic world shatters. First at her Mansio someone murders a soldier possessing a letter claiming danger at Fort Isurium is forthcoming. Second Lucius shows up with his betrothed Vitellia the spoiled “kitten”. Third her cousin Jovina invites them to attend her birthday party in Fort Isurium but implies a need for help from danger. Lucius refuses to allow his sibling to go into a perilous situation. He heard rumors of war and wants his family safe. However, Aurelia disobeys his order and goes to the northern fort. There she rejoices in seeing her lover Quintus the spy who is following up on information of trouble at Isurium. The rebels abduct Vitellia, Jovina’s daughter Chloe, her lover Gambol, Lucius and Quintus. Aurelia works to free them before war erupts and they are killed by the hostage takers.

The fourth Aurelia Marcella ancient historical mystery (see Buried too Deep circa 98 AD, Bitter Chill circa 95 AD and Get Out Or Die circa 91 AD) contains a strong whodunit inside a rich period piece. The heroine is a courageous independent person whose obstinacy and bravery drives her brother crazy with worry. The amateur sleuth mystery is entertaining while the audience also vividly sees life in a divided Roman frontier province as the second century begins. Jane Finnis provides her fans with a deep look at Britannia circa 100 AD and they will enjoy reading every page of it.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Bones Under the Beach Hut-Simon Brett

Bones Under the Beach Hut

Simon Brett

Five Star, Nov 16 2011, $25.95

ISBN 9781432825683

Fethering reticent resident Carole Seddon leases the Quiet Harbour beach hut on Smalting Beach from London expatriate Philly Rose who came here six months ago with her older boyfriend Mark Dennis. Carole rented this for her granddaughter Lily to enjoy her seaside vacation with her. However, she is taken aback when she notices someone lit a fire beneath the hut. Soon afterwards skeletal remains of a human is found interred underneath the same hut. The police believe the bones belong to recently departed Mark and suspect Philly murdered him, in spite of her bad back requiring therapy from Carole’s best friend Jude.

The case takes a stunning spin, which leads to Carole and Jude investigating trying to resolve the homicide before Lily arrives so they can take occupancy. They find plenty of respected suspects possessing a horde of skeletons they conceal behind their snobbish upper crust demeanor, but no motive. Still as time is running out the extreme extrovert and the introvert BFF keep digging.

The latest Fethering amateur sleuth (see The Shooting in the Shop) is a charming cozy filled with humor that satirizes the English elitists. As always the dynamic duet makes for a fun tale; as this amusing refreshing story line has the low rent Fethering pair’s inquiry mocking the high society of affluent Smalting. Readers will enjoy this jocular investigation into who left the Bones Under the Beach Hut.

Harriet Klausner

The Ronnie Gene-Jon Mills

The Ronnie Gene

Jon Mills

Five Star, Nov 16 2011, $25.95

ISBN 9781432825164

The Jamos marketing firm went bankrupt leaving late fifties and suffering from preexisting health conditions Stanley Jamos and Dave Mosit without jobs or health insurance. Stanley finds a health insurance company that will cover small firms. Thus he and Dave open up Jamos & Mosit, Inc. Private Investigators who do not work cases, but the former has coverage for his Parkinson condition and the later for his Alzheimer’s.

Someone kills Pete Tilden, their third partner from the marketing firm. Chicago PD Detectives Birkoltz and Hustad interview Jamos who offers nothing enlightening; they do not try to chat with Mosit. Soon afterward, Ronnie Dumat, Jamos’ college lover who broke his heart almost four decades ago, calls him insisting she needs to see him. She wants him to find the business plan Pete wrote just before he was killed. However, the simple first case inquiry proves convoluted and dangerous as the sexagenarian unhealthy sleuths begin to uncover betrayals by their friends stretching back forty years.

The Ronnie Gene is a timely private investigative satire that will remind readers of the recent debates in which the audience said let them die. The story line is character driven by the lead “amateur” sleuths who are written off by everyone as too old, too ill and too senile, but tenacity and intelligence keep them digging through the miasma backstabbing of their fellow Wisconsin grads. Although somewhat over the top of the Willis Tower, fans will enjoy Jamos & Mosit, Private Investigators, on their first case, a personal one.

Harriet Klausner

Cold Glory- B. Kent Anderson

Cold Glory

B. Kent Anderson

Forge, Oct 11 2011, $24.99

ISBN: 9780765328618

During a ground breaking ceremony for a museum at the Fort Washita Historical Site in Oklahoma, a load of Civil War era weapons, a metal box containing documents and much more is uncovered. The Heritage News Channel reports that the Oklahoma Historical Society assigns South Central College of Oklahoma historian Dr. Nick Journey to oversee the evaluation and cataloguing of the find. However, one viewer the Judge in West Virginia becomes particularly concerned with a gold pin with the initials G.W. on it and the documents.

Nick reads one document many times as he is chilled with what he peruses. When he and Assistant Professor Sandra Kelly go to lunch someone searches his office. Their mission is to do whatever it takes to retrieve the Glory Warriors’ original lost charter from the professor. Later that evening professional operatives attack him; he escapes but not before he runs one assailant wearing a G. W. pin down. In DC, researcher Meg Tolman joins Nick at a time when the Glory Warriors believes they must implement the instructions of their founding generals to take over the failed federal government.

This is a superb conspiracy thriller that uses the premise of what happened at Appomattox Court House when Grant and Lee were alone for a few minutes to build a shadow force waiting just in case martial law is needed when the war is over. Although over the top of Black Mesa and the Washington Monument with Nick’s escapes from an unknown highly trained special unit, readers will relish the fast-paced story line that never slows down yet also constructs a fascinating historical conspiratorial premise.

Harriet Klausner

A Killer's Christmas in Wales-Elizabeth J. Duncan

A Killer's Christmas in Wales

Elizabeth J. Duncan

Minotaur, Oct 25 2011, $24.99

ISBN: 9780312622831

As Christmas nears, the worst snow in a quarter of a century compounded by ice makes life difficult in Llanelen, Wales. Although there have been delays and not just because of the weather, business partners Penny Brannigan and Victoria Hopkirk continue with preparations for the grand opening of their new upscale spa overlooking the River Conwy.

American dance instructor Harry Saunders arrives in Llanelen and charms Widow Evelyn Lloyd while teaching ballroom dancing at the community center. However, though he appears to be a nice fellow, many residents suspect the outsider is taking Evelyn to the cleaners. They prove right when he persuades her to give him money in a sure shot investment. As soon as she gives him the loot, he vanishes. However, Saunders fails to get very far as his murdered corpse is found near Conwy Castle with a horde of people of interest since the Stretch and Sketch Club and other locals had the opportunity, but the weapon belongs to the fleeced widow. Knowing she is the prime suspect as she had the motive, the opportunity and the means, Evelyn pleads with Penny, who has solved murders before (see The Cold Light of Mourning and A Brush with Death), to prove her innocence.

The third Welsh Brannigan cozy is a delightful whodunit as it takes a village to convolute a murder investigation. The Canadian expatriate protagonist makes the story line entertaining as she remains a somewhat accepted outsider busy with the spa opening, but works an amateur sleuth investigation as well.

Harriet Klausner

Chelsea Mansions-Barry Maitland

Chelsea Mansions

Barry Maitland

Minotaur, Oct 25 2011, $25.99

ISBN: 9780312600662

In London, septuagenarian Bostonian tourists, Widow Nancy Haynes and Widower Emerson Merkle attend the annual Chelsea Flower Show. However, their enjoyment ends when an apparently insane man hammers Emerson knocking him to the ground and then this crazy person throws Nancy in front of a bus. Scotland Yard’s Serious Crime Division investigates what is assumed to be a homicide committed by a lunatic.

Detective Chief Inspector David Brock and Detective Inspector Kathy Kolla are horrified by the violent act. Closed circuit cameras in the area fail to show the killer, which the cops assume means this was not a random murder but a planned assault needing help. The police round up the killer’s support team like Danny Yilnaz who drove the culprit from the homicide scene on his bike. None of them can describe their “client” and are shocked he committed a homicide; all of them are afraid they will be next. Near the Chelsea Mansions Hotel where the two Americans were staying, someone stabs to death wealthy Russian Mikhail Moszynski. Brock and Kolla assume the two murders are linked, but cannot find that connection.

The latest Brock and Kolla British police procedural (see Spider Trap and The Dark Mirror) is an engaging whodunit in which the cops struggle with the motives behind the murders. The story line is fast-paced but has too much on the peripheral going on from the Cold War hauntings to illegal financial and political dealings, etc. Still series fans will enjoy this entertaining case especially when the official inquiry is front and center.

Harriet Klausner

A Christmas Homecoming-Anne Perry

A Christmas Homecoming

Anne Perry

Ballantine, Oct 25 2011, $18.00

ISBN: 9780345524638

Scotland Yard Inspector Thomas Pitt’s mother-in-law Caroline Fielding and her husband Joshua the actor travel to Whitby, York for a performance of Bram Stoker’s recently published novel Dracula. Alice Netheridge has adopted the horror thriller to be performed on the stage at the town where the Count first disembarked on English soil. Joshua will direct the play with hopes of obtaining major funding from Alice’s wealthy father Charles for next spring’s theatre productions. Charles hosts the Fielding couple and actors from Joshua’s troupe.

A heavy snowstorm isolates everyone at the mansion on the hill. While the weather outside is frightful, a straggler Anton Ballin arrives asking for sanctuary from the storm. He uncannily resembles Dracula and makes recommendations to improve the production that sound like someone who is a vampire insider. Soon after his arrival, murder follows. With everyone locked inside the mansion believing Ballin is the cold blooded killer, Caroline investigates.

The latest Anne Perry Victorian Christmas mystery (see Silent Night and A Christmas Odyssey) is a superb locked mansion whodunit as Caroline proves to be a capable detective and a wonderful protagonist who holds the entertaining tale together. The cast is solid while Carline’s detecting is clever fun. Fans will enjoy Pitt’s in-law as an amateur sleuth investigating a homicide.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, October 7, 2011

A Crimson Warning-Tasha Alexander

A Crimson Warning

Tasha Alexander

Minotaur, Oct 25 2011, $25.95

ISBN: 9780312661755

In 1893 London at Lady Londonderry’s ball, British intelligence agent Colin Hargreaves waltzes with his beloved wife Emily when he is forced to intercede between two men about to go to blows. Before he can finish what he started, the butler gives him a note. He informs Emily he must leave to look into a fire in Southwark. That night he comes home very late and tells his beloved spouse that exporter Michael Dillman died in the warehouse inferno.

Michael’s grieving fiancée Cordelia tells Colin that an unknown vandal threw red paint on his door. The family of Polly Sanders, the latest scandalous lineage rumor of the Ton, also is a victim of the red paint scoundrel. Other aristocratic families face the same paint assault followed by a shocking disclosure. That humiliates the victims. Emily wants to help her husband with the cases, but fears the sadistic culprit will paint her with a scarlet letter.

The sixth Lady Emily late Victorian mystery (see Dangerous to Know) is a wonderful period piece as the Ton suddenly live in fear of an unknown predator who gleefully exposes skeletal secrets. The story line is fast-paced from the moment that Colin leaves the ball in Mayfair and never slows down as Tasha Alexander provides a profound exhilarating historical with contemporary implications in which the ends justify the means.

Harriet Klausner

The Chalice of Blood-Peter Tremayne

The Chalice of Blood

Peter Tremayne

Minotaur, Oct 25 2011, $25.95

ISBN: 9780312551216

Already a dalaigh advocate of the law, Sister Fidelma of Cashel asks her brother King Colgu of Mumen to appoint her as the Chief Brehon magistrate. He conditionally agrees, but insists she first look into the suspicious death of scholar Brother Donnchad.

Abbott Iarnla asked the king to investigate the death of the Brother who recently feared for his life. He was found dead in his locked cell with stab wounds on his body yet his corpse seemed restful rather than frantic. Additionally manuscripts he was working on appear missing. Accompanying Sister Fidelma to the island where the Abbey of Lios Mor is located is her Brother Eadulf, Even before reaching the abbey, someone tries to assassinate the two investigators. At Lios Mor, cooperation is not forthcoming from most of the residents.

This is a great seventh century locked room Mystery of Ancient Ireland. As always the setting comes to life in this strong historical series (see The Dove of Death). While the lead couple struggles with divisive personal issues that enhance the plot as both lose some focus on the mission, it is the brilliant locked cell inquiry that makes Peter Tremayne’s The Chalice of Blood an excellent thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Dead Bolt-Juliet Blackwell

Dead Bolt

Juliet Blackwell

Obsidian, Dec 6 2011, $7.99

ISBN: 9780451235305

There are few females in Melanie Turner’s occupation, but the general contractor relishes taking over Turner Construction from her retired dad. Currently she leads the restoration of the Cheshire House a historic Queen Anne Victorian house in San Francisco. Every house has problems in the renovation, but this one includes Jim and Katenka Daley who insist on residing in the basement apartment while the renovations occur.

Mel also has the ability to see and hear ghosts. She believes there are many spirits roaming Cheshire House. Initially the ghostly occupants play harmless pranks like handprints on a very high ceiling and footprints in which only Mel the medium can see them. However, not all the spirits resting in Cheshire Inn are benign; one who is malevolent has the skill to make people do what it wants them to do. When cantankerous neighbor (and former resident) Emile Blunt is found dead, a former resident of Cheshire House when it was a boarding house, Mele believes there is a link between the murder and the spirits. Although she understands the lethal risk that no other living person on the project does, Mel must find a way to coax the ghosts to move on and out of Cheshire House while finding out who killed Emile.

The second Haunted House Renovation Mystery (see If Walls Could Talk) is a chilling paranormal locked inn whodunit that will frighten even the Ghostbusters let alone readers. Mel is a courageous strong person who though scared feels she must complete the project which includes ridding the house of its otherworldly occupants. Dead Bolt is a terrific paranormal amateur sleuth.

Harriet Klausner

At the End of the Road-Grant Jerkins

At the End of the Road

Grant Jerkins

Berkley, Nov 1 2011, $15.00

ISBN: 9780425243343

During the sweltering summer of 1976 on a infrequently traveled back dirt road in rural Georgia, Melodie Godwin driving her car swerves to avoid hitting ten year old Kyle Edwards riding his bike. Her quick action leaves the tweener unhurt, but the car overturned severely injuring Melodie. Kyle sees her blood everywhere and takes off in a panic. He tells no one.

The next day the lad returns to scene of the accident with trepidation, but there is no major indication an incident occurred just yesterday. Not long afterward, Sheriff’s Deputy Officer Dana Turpin searches for the missing woman while Kyle’s neighbor viciously clever stroke victim Kenny “the Paralyzed Man” Ahearn observes the youngster with a malicious intent.

This is an exciting historical suspense thriller starring a frightened child, a nasty villain, a dedicated law enforcement official, and the missing victim. The tense story line is fast-paced from the moment of the near collision and never slows down until the final confrontation. Although over the top of Stone Mountain, readers will enjoy what goes down At the End of the Road.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Death’s Long Shadow-Kinley Roby

Death’s Long Shadow

Kinley Roby

Five Star, Oct 21 2011, $25.95

ISBN: 9781432825355

In Avola, Florida, someone who knew affluent Brandon Pike’s riding habits on his Oaks estate tied a garrote across the Ride bridle path, decapitating the horseman. Local law enforcement suspects Brandon’s younger widow Holly and the stable manager Tyce Yellen for killing the victim as the assumption is they are lovers which both deny.

Holly hires private detective Harry Brock to protect her interests though he is unsure what his client wants of him. He learns about Brandon’s relationship with his half-sister Clarissa Cruz, who holds a lease that is running out on the adjoining Oleander Farm owned by Pike. She has two adult brothers with one of them Miguel working the farm. As Harry works his inquiry, his ailing ex wife Katherine arrives at an inopportune moment though he invited her. They make love, but he knows his actions betray his girlfriend Sonadora Asturias, who is considering returning home to Guatemala to help her people. His elderly neighbor on Bartram’s Hammock takes a fall further distancing him from his case until someone sets up Brandon’s macho stallion to kill Tyce and sets a barn on fire.

The super latest Harry Brock mystery (see Death in a Hammock) is a terrific tale as Harry’s personal life overwhelms him while a killer using creative weapons involving horses stalks the Sunshine State. The story line is loaded with action at the Oaks and on Bartram’s Hammock while Oh, Brother, Sanchez and Jane Bunting add comic relief to an engaging whodunit.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Bonnie-Iris Johansen


Iris Johansen

St. Martin’s, Oct 18 2011, $27.99

ISBN: 9780312651220

Forensic sculptor Eve Duncan was a kid having a kid when she gave birth at sixteen years old to Bonnie. Eve thought Bonnie’s father John Gallo died on a military mission, but she and her long time significant other police detective Joe Quinn learned John lived incarcerated by the North Koreans until he escaped. Meanwhile when Bonnie was seven, she was abducted in Atlanta. Owing Eve for saving her son, FBI Agent Catherine Ling targeted John who suffers mental illness from his ordeal as the killer of Bonnie, but he proved to be innocent.

Clues lead the quartet to the Louisiana bayous and from there to Georgia as Bonnie’s spirit guides her mom. They track a new suspect with powerful ties enabling a government cover-up of unsanctioned mind experiments. As they get nearer to the truth, the new target prepares to kill if they get too close.

The final of the Bonnie trilogy (see Eve and Joe) is an exciting twisting thriller as the truth can set you free to a degree. Although the serpentine sensational story line contains too many spins that slows down the pace, fans of the Eve Duncan saga will relish learning what happened to Bonnie.

Harriet Klausner

One Foot in the Gravy-Delia Rosen

One Foot in the Gravy

Delia Rosen

Kensington, Oct 4 2011, $7.99

ISBN: 9780758241719

Following her nasty divorce, Gwen Silver inherits her late Uncle Murray’s Jewish deli, the Pastrami Swami in Nashville, Tennessee. She packed her bags, reverted back to her maiden name and quickly became dubbed the Nashville Katz as she takes over the deli although she was unprepared for a side order of murder (see A Brisket, A Casket). The native New Yorker miraculously adjusts to living in the "Music City" and feels welcomed by her employees except for the Pastrami Swami boss of bosses Thomasina Jackson.

Wealthy socialite Lolo Baker hires the deli to cater a murder mystery-themed dinner. Lolo rings the crystal bell to start The Cozy Foxes’ gala, but horrible noises from the room above frighten the deli employees and the attendees. The racket upstairs is quickly accompanied by a crash through the ceiling; Chocolatier Hoppy Hopewell has fallen dead with One Foot in the Gravy. NPD Detective Grant Daniels leads the homicide investigation that turns stranger when Lolo's housekeeper Lizzie Renoir is murdered. Unable to mind her deli, the former Manhattan forensic accountant, as well as the Cozy Foxes, tries to find the ties between the two victims; with only Lolo connecting them.

The second lighthearted Nashville Katz amateur sleuth is a fun cozy as the heroine using her New York shtick investigates the homicides knowing Grant will be unhappy with her placing herself in a pickle as someone who kills twice will have no remorse adding a body to the gravy. The support cast is a horde of quirky individuals who enhance the tale with a touch of mustard. Readers will enjoy a Reuben with a knish as Delia Rosen provides an entertaining deli whodunit.

Harriet Klausner

Murder, She Wrote: The Fine Art of Murder-Jessica Fletcher & Donald Bain

Murder, She Wrote: The Fine Art of Murder

Jessica Fletcher & Donald Bain

Obsidian, Oct 4 2011, $23.95

ISBN: 9780451234735

Mystery writer Jessica Fletcher is vacationing in Italy where she has joined the Great Art, Humble Places tour. She and the group are inside the Church of San Bernardino of Siena in the town of L’Aquila when two friars enter. They steal a Bellini, but when a visitor former Italian cop Fandello pulls a gun out, one of the thieves kills him and aims at Jessica before fleeing. She saw his face vividly and reported so to the police investigating the homicide art theft.

Back home in Cabot Cove, Maine Jessica learns that Jonathan Simsbury, husband of her best friend Marlise from her New York days was murdered in their home in Chicago. Not long after that Jonathan’s adult son from his first wife Wayne arrives. He asks Jessica for help because his stepmom always said she was levelheaded. Jessica agrees to accompany a troubled Wayne back home where Marlise is the prime suspect in her spouse’s homicide. At the office of Marlise’s attorney Mr. Corman, Wayne says his stepmom murdered his father. Stunned by the revelation, Jessica investigates the murder while the Italian police want her to return there to testify in the art theft homicide in the Abruzzi region.

The latest Murder She Wrote is an exciting twisted thriller that has Jessica for the most part still on tour (see The Queen’s Jewels). The Chicago caper takes several unexpected spins while stealing of art is the third most profitable felony. Readers will appreciate the latest Fletcher amateur sleuth as the heroine learns it is hard to be in two places an ocean apart at the same time.

Harriet Klausner