Monday, December 31, 2012

The Dead Shall Not Rest-Tessa Harris

The Dead Shall Not Rest

Tessa Harris

Kensington, Dec 24, 2012, $15.00

ISBN: 9780758266996

In 1782 at the Oxfordshire annual spring fair, Lady Lydia Farrell asks her betrothed American Dr. Thomas Silkstone to examine attraction eight-foot-tall Charles “Irish Giant” Byrne. The anatomist concludes that Byrne is dying. Not wanting to be a dissected freak in death especially after learning that unscrupulous Dr. John Hunter plans on grave robbers snatching his body, Byrne arranges his burial at sea; Thomas vows to insure the man’s wishes are met.

In London, someone removed the larynx from Signor Cappelli after murdering the castrato. Because of his unsavory grave-robbing reputation and the surgical precision, Hunter becomes the prime suspect though he swears he is innocent. His rival Silkstone believes the anatomist is innocent so in spite of his preference to see the amoral doctor sent to the gallows, he investigates the homicide.

The second Dr. Thomas Silkstone mystery (see The Anatomist’s Apprentice) is an outstanding late nineteenth century whodunit. The investigation is top rate with clever clues and anchored by a strong sense of time and place; for instance Byrne and Hunter were real persona and grave-robbing was a thriving occupation as the opening transaction depicts. The Dead Shall Not Rest is a fabulous historical investigative thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Fear Collector-Gregg Olsen

Fear Collector

Gregg Olsen

Kensington, Dec 24 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780786020461

“Fear Collector.” Ted Bundy rots in hell, but his vile legacy macabrely lives on in the minds of his victims’ loved ones. Grace Alexander grew up in the shrine of her vanished older sister Tricia as her parents never let go of the belief she was a Bundy dead. They assigned her a life mission as a baby to learn what happened to Tricia. She joined the Tacoma police department and married a Fed. Currently Grace and her TPD partner Paul Bateman investigate several missing girls who physically look very similar to each other. They find the corpse one of the vanished females, but also find the older remains of a person nearby who may have been a Bundy murder. Peggy Howell passed her version of the Bundy legacy to her son Jeremy: his life mission is to surpass the body count of her beloved hero.

“The Bone Box.” Tommy Freeland sends a note to his cousin Kitsap County, Washington forensic psychologist Dr. Birdie Waterman. Two decades as a teen, her testimony helped convict him of murder. She visits him at prison where he swears he is innocent. Tommy begs his cousin to investigate. Birdie finds the townsfolk resent her while some fear she will uncover hidden secrets.

Filled with a strong obsessed cast of survivors and an insane groupie, and terrific twists, the Fear Collector is a taut suspenseful thriller that focuses on two interpretations of the Bundy legacy, which makes the rotating storyline feel like a fast-paced true crime tale. Though a late spin seems over the top of Mount Rainier, The Bone Box is an enjoyable cold case short story starring a haunted heroine who learns the truth about telling the truth.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The Sound of Broken Glass-Deborah Crombie

The Sound of Broken Glass

Deborah Crombie

Morrow, Feb 19 2013, $25.99

ISBN 9780061990632

Scotland Yard Superintendent Duncan and DCI Gemma James Kincaid plan a weekend of fun with their foster child Kit and their two younger children. They enjoyed Friday night Pizza, but Saturday morning, Gemma’s subordinate DS Melody Talbot informs her they have a homicide in which a naked bound man is found at the Belvedere in Crystal Palace. While Duncan watches the kids, Gemma leads the investigation.

The victim is highly regarded barrister Vincent Arnott, who while tied up was strangled to death in this dive of a hotel. Not long afterward, the corpse of a second barrister, murdered in the same manner is found. Besides the M.O., other evidence points to the same killer. Gemma and Melody soon link these homicides to a lethal encounter between two lonely people, a young male teen and a grieving widow teacher, fifteen year ago in Crystal Palace.

The latest James and Kincaid British police procedural (see No Mark Upon Her, Necessary As Blood and Kiss A Sad Goodbye) is a super entry as flashbacks interweave deftly with the present day investigation. The police inquiry engages the reader as Gemma and Melody take the lead in that subplot; while the marital relationship and the kids show the caring gentler sides of the Kincaid couple. Series fans will enjoy this fine whodunit.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, December 24, 2012

Miss Dimple Suspects-Mignon F. Ballard

Miss Dimple Suspects

Mignon F. Ballard

Minotaur, Jan 22 2013, $24.99

ISBN 9781250009678

During WWII in Georgia, first grade student Peggy Ashcroft vanishes in the nearby woods. The townsfolk conduct a search for the missing child. Peggy’s teacher at Elderberry Grammar School Miss Dimple Kilpatrick joins the hunt, but takes a solo path. She finds Peggy but the child is too exhausted to travel far. Max the dog arrives and escorts the teacher and her student to the nearby farmhouse of reclusive Mae Martha Hawthorne and the artist’s companion Suzu “Suzy” Amaya, who provide shelter to both females.

Several days later, someone murders Mae and steals her increasingly valuable paintings; Suzy is missing though she frighteningly contacts Miss Dimple as she fears mob anti-Japanese fever before vanishing in the middle of her call. She proves right when the locals fervently believe Suzy killed Mae Martha due to her Japanese roots. Not one to embrace ignorant racism, Miss Dimple, assisted by teachers Virginia and Charlie, search for Suzy and the art while a killer stalks the trio.

The latest Miss Dimple Mystery (see Miss Dimple Disappears and see Miss Dimple Rallies to the Cause) is a fun twisting WWII cozy that focuses on the home-front Japanophobia as much as the trio’s inept investigation. Although the support cast seems too stereotyped, readers will appreciate Miss Dimple Suspects the paintings are the motive.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, December 21, 2012

Blood Money-James Grippando

Blood Money

James Grippando

Harper, Jan 8 2013, $26.99

ISBN: 9780062109842

Miami defense attorney Jack Swyteck defends notorious nightclub waitress Sydney Bennett from the charge of murdering her two-year-old daughter Emma whose remains were found near the Everglades. The public overwhelmingly convicted Sydney of the homicide of her child.

When the verdict from the Vero Beach jury is not guilty, disbelief and anger overwhelm a stunned nation. Many hold Jack in contempt for getting the murdering mom off the hook. He receives threats and other forms of harassment while the media go on an ugly feeding frenzy. Near the jail where the acquitted Sydney is about to leave, a mob attacks college student Celeste Laramore, a Bennett look-alike leaving her comatose. The victims’ irate parents blame the media especially BNN, who misidentified Celeste as Sydney on TV. They turn to Swyteck to represent them as they sue BNN who accuse the Bennett defense team of going after Hollywood and publishing Blood Money. As they and their loved ones are threatened, Jack and his crew begin to uncover a shocking truth behind the Blood Money.

Partly based on the Casey Anthony case, Blood Money is an action-packed legal thriller that spins in a shocking direction just after the early verdict. The latest Swyteck case (see Afraid of the Dark) grips the audience throughout as the trial aftermath proves dangerous to the lawyer and anyone close to him. Series fans will enjoy this entry as James Grippando condemns the media for seeking ratings over the truth.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Illegally Iced-Jessica Beck

Illegally Iced

Jessica Beck

Minotaur, Dec 24 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9781250001078

In April Springs, North Carolina, friends Donut Hearts owner Suzanne Hart and town blacksmith James Settle are arguing. However, soon afterward someone stabs and kills James while the sun was up out in the open. Another shop owner Gabby Williams tells the police that she saw Suzanne fighting with James just before he died.

Police Chief Martin leads the investigation though he believes Suzanne is not the killer though many townsfolk do. Knowing her reputation and business are on the line, Suzanne and her BFF Grace Gauge begin their own inquiry especially wondering why no witnesses in a daylight public stabbing had come forth. They soon learn the victim was a wealthy heir and had issues with his ex-girlfriend.

The latest Donut Shop Mystery is an engaging amateur sleuth as the intrepid dynamic duo investigates who murdered their friend. This time suspicion rotates back to Suzanne who shared the prime suspect role in Killer Crullers and had the lead in Fatally Frosted; Grace was the suspect in Powdered Peril; the heroine’s mom Dorothy in Drop Dead Chocolate; and ex-husband Max in Sinister Sprinkles. Readers will enjoy this entertaining regional culinary cozy as Suzanne knows it is her turn for her neighbors to wonder and gossip about whether she killed the blacksmith.

Harriet Klausner

Take The Trophy & Run-Gail Sattler

Take The Trophy & Run

Gail Sattler

B&H, Nov 1 2012, $14.99

ISBN: 9781433677298

In Bloomfield, BFFs crafts shop owner Amber Weathersby and mechanic Stan Wilson belong to the Bloomfield Garden Club though the former knows she is pathetic when it comes to growing things and expects to lose her membership even with his help. Her expertise is with creating crafts out of her store and arranging the Spring Fling Early Bloomer display in the winner’s garden. As she does annually, she uses her gnome Gnorman to hold the trophy as the centerpiece in the winning garden. This year Gnorman wears Stan’s sombrero as an added touch in Becky’s garden.

Before Amber can receive the accolades due her for her wonderful arrangement, someone gnome-naps Gnorman and the trophy. Amber and Stan track the elusive Gnorman but the clues they follow seem crazy; almost as insane as the awareness of the deep attraction each of the two amateur sleuths feel for the other. As they continue their odd pursuit, Gnorman the gnome plays matchmaker between two BFFs in love.

Take The Trophy & Run is an enjoyable romantic comedic cozy starring two engaging protagonists supported by his mom Kathy and several other Bloomfield Garden Club members, and of course the elusive Gnorman (picture the gnome in a tux). Fast-paced fun, fans will appreciate this jocular whodunit as the detectives find love in Bloomfield.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, December 17, 2012

Easter Bunny Murder-Leslie Meier

Easter Bunny Murder

Leslie Meier

Kensington, Jan 29 2013, $25.00

ISBN 9780758229359

Residents of Tinker’s Cove, Maine, enjoy the annual Easter egg hunt hosted by elderly Vivian Van Vorst at her Pine Point. Pennysaver reporter Lucy Stones loves to cover the fun event for the paper. However, when Lucy and other townsfolk arrive at Pine Point, they are shocked by the closed gates as no one can remember when the estate was not open for the gala. Before anyone can decide what to do next, as concern for the hostess rises; the Easter Bunny rushes out of the mansion staggering erratically towards the gates. To the horror of the witnesses especially the children he collapses before reaching it.

The Easter Bunny, VV’s grandson and heir Duff, dies before reaching the hospital. Lucy wonders if Duff was a murder victim or just died because his time ran out. She increasingly considers the death a homicide when she learns that VV recently became a recluse; as the vivacious town matriarch has always been outgoing. Though the cause has not been determined, Lucy thinks the only motive seems to be money as Diff was the heir.

The latest Lucy Stone mystery (see Chocolate Covered Murder and The Christmas Thief in A Winter Wonderland anthology) is an entertaining cozy. The heroine investigates though admits to herself Duff may have died of natural causes but the journalist remains vigilant in her inquiry as she knows her friend VV has been acting differently. The enjoyable storyline is fast-paced with a solid twist that turns the Easter Bunny Murder into an engaging family affair.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, December 14, 2012

Dukkha: The Suffering-Loren Christensen

Dukkha: The Suffering

Loren Christensen

Ymaa Publication Center, Dec 16 2012, $12.99

ISBN: 9781594392269

Portland Police Detective Sam Reed has been a cop for fifteen years but uses lethal force for the first time. A highly regarded martial arts instructor Sam is shook by his having to use his gun though the brass determined he performed an acceptable "good shoot." Still hurting, the department psychiatrist approves Sam to return to his duty. However, his karma proves horrific when within a few days of his return to active duty; he uses his gun again killing a perpetrator and a young innocent bystander. Looking at the blood that splattered all over him Sam mentally is shattered; made worse later is when he learns the dead man whose blood was soaked all over him and his marital arts wounds suffered from AIDS. His kill’s family wants Sam dead.

Samuel visits Sam saying he is his father. Sam insists his dad died in a North Vietnamese prison camp many years ago. A martial arts expert, Samuel explains he has a Vietnamese family with his daughter Mai graduating from Portland State University.

The first Sam Reed martial arts thriller is an exhilarating tale in which violence begat violence as father and son find their reunion intruded by several avenging individuals targeting both men; fighting becomes a family affair. Fast-paced and filled with non-stop action (no respite for the Sam duet or the readers) though over top of Mount Hood, fans will enjoy this exciting Oregonian tale.

Harriet Klausner

Chojun-Goran Powell


Goran Powell

Ymaa Publication Center, Dec 16 2012, $12.99

ISBN: 9781594392535

Now retired from his job at the harbor, Kenichi Ota reflects back on the life of the late great karate Master Chojun Miyagi who died back in 1953 in his sixties. Kenichi recalls meeting the great man in 1933 when as a foolish young boy growing up on Okinawa he was caught in the tidal waves of a typhoon. Over the next few years Kenichi studied karate under the tutelage of his master Chojun as cold war hostilities between America and Japan grew until Pearl Harbor began the combat. The pair traveled together to China to study the essence of karate while WWII slowly turns against the Japanese. As the American military head to Okinawa to begin the invasion, the Japanese army drafts every able person to defend the island. Following the ignoble defeat, Master and Student must help their fellow Okinawans rebuild. Eight years later, the student begins to consider ways to save the reputation of a great man, teacher and friend.

Chojun is a refreshing WWII biographical fiction from the point of view of a karate student providing insight into the martial arts and the devastation of the war on his island through Kenichi’s filter of his beloved Master. The karate fights are top rate and the lead protagonists seem fully developed caring individuals. However, it is Okinawa during and after the war that makes for a powerful historical thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Silence of the Llamas-Anne Canadeo

The Silence of the Llamas
Anne Canadeo
Gallery, Jan 22 2013, $15.00
ISBN: 9781451644791

Married a few years, Bostonians Ellie and Ben Krueger leave successful careers to open up the Laughing Llama Farm just outside a New England coastal village, Plum Harbor. They host a grand opening fiber festival to introduce their llamas to their neighbors. However, someone maliciously attacks the llamas with a paintball gun. Black Sheep Knitting Shop assistant Phoebe Myers sees the effect on the llamas and brings help, but not before Buttercup suffers a head trauma and seizure. The Krueger tenant Dot takes charge with washing the paint off the llamas as they were becoming sick from the toxin on their skin.

Ben blames reclusive nutcase Justin Ridley, who expects the newcomers to flip the property to developers once the legal date to sell occurs. Black Sheep Knitting Shop owner Maggie Messina suspects Angelica Rossi, as the vandal since the owner of the alpaca fiber Sweet Meadow Farm has been spreading negative rumors about llama fiber. The culprit stabs to death sweet llama Daphne followed by the homicide of Ridley. As the Black Sheep knitters investigate the murders, the killer remains hidden in plain sight like a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

The latest Black Sheep Knitting Mystery (see Till Death Do Us Purl) is an enjoyable amateur sleuth mystery with the members investigating because of the friendship between Dana and Ellie (reunited thanks to Facebook); the other Knitters welcome the newcomer as a kindred spirit. The storyline is fast-paced from the first assault until the final confrontation with two fabulous twists while also providing insight into fiber spinning. Although the knitters’ reason to make inquiries remains soft in spite of the friendship and love of animals, fans will appreciate The Silence of the Llamas.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, December 7, 2012

The Lawyer's Lawyer-James Sheehan

The Lawyer's Lawyer

James Sheehan

Center Street, Jan 8 2013, $22.99

ISBN: 9781455508662

In 1993, University of North Central Florida at Oakville student Stacey Kincaid claims a man tried to kill her. She works with local and county detectives especially Danni Jansen of OPD and the FBI to draw a sketch of her attacker. Soon afterward the police arrest Thomas Felton. Not long after that Felton is convicted as a serial killer who eight years later sits on death row awaiting execution once his appeals end for murders he swears he did not commit.

To defend him, Felton supporters turn to retired Miami trial attorney Jack Tobin because the latter is considered the “lawyer’s lawyer” by the best of the profession when they need legal representation. He looks into the case and finds odd anomalies that make him wonder if Felton is a fall guy. Tobin decides to leave Bass Creek to represent Felton in court. However, Robin is unprepared for the brouhaha of rage against him by the jurisprudence system as if justice is an inconvenience. The citizens of Oakville threaten him and even his soul mate condemns him though she has a personal interest in this case; while the lawyer’s lawyer soon finds he needs a lawyer.

The latest Jack Tobin legal thriller (see The Mayor of Lexington Avenue and The Law of Second Chances) is a great tale filled with stunning twists in and out of courtroom. The storyline is fast-paced from start to finish, but it is the cast who make this a winner as many of those in law enforcement and the legal system are angered with Tobin for mounting a competent defense when almost all of them prefer the State execute Felton.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Death Goes Postal-Rosemary and Larry Mild

Death Goes Postal

Rosemary and Larry Mild

Magic Island Literary Works, Aug 13 2012, $14.95

ISBN: 9780983859710

In 2004 in Bath, England, Professor Emil Kravitz believes the “old mule” is in his way. Kravitz wants the Herr Koenig's fifteenth century typesetting molds. He visits Professor Abner Fraume to demand the octogenarian hand them over to him, but the old mule refuses; having hid the valuable relics and sent three letters to his sister Edythe Bender in the States as to there whereabouts. Raging out of control Kravitz kills the man standing in his way.

In Annapolis, Maryland Edythe and her husband are ailing so they need to sell their Olde Victorian Bookstore, but refuse to do it to just anyone. They want someone who appreciates old books and will treat the bookstore’s live-in cat Lord Byron with kindness; so she choose their friends Dan and Rivka Sherman. At a book event, employee Liz Nathan mentions the letters, which apparently lead to a break-in and the kidnapping of Rivka; as one of the attendees must be obsessed Kravitz.

Death Goes Postal is a terrific bookstore mystery that is ironically made fresh by the six centuries old typesetting artifacts. The whodunit is fun to follow as readers, Dan and the Feds believe Kravitz is behind the dangerous crimes, but do not know who in the mystery writer’s club he is (though you would think that would be relatively easy to find out). Fans will appreciate this engaging whodunit as the infant days of printing meets the on demand digital age.

Harriet Klausner

Scrapped-Mollie Cox Bryan


Mollie Cox Bryan

Kensington, Dec 31 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780758266323

Mike and Annie Chemovitz agreed she would quit her investigative reporter job at the Washington Herald to become a stay at home mom to their two sons Ben and Sam. The Chemovitz quartet relocated to Cumberland Creek, Virginia where she becomes a Cropper of the Cumberland Creek Scrapbook Club and she still free-lances occasionally for the paper as she did with the Maggie Rae Dasher death (see Scrapbook of Secrets).

The police drag a corpse out of the Cumberland Creek River. Detective Brant points out to Annie that the deceased had strange markings on her body. Meanwhile Cookie Crandall the witch joins the scrapbookers’ club though she insists she lacks any experiences; she quickly becomes friends with the members. Another homicide with runes on the body occurs. When Brant names Cookie as the only suspect due to the arcane markings and her being a witch, Annie supported by the Croppers investigate. However, every clue they dig up leads to digging a bigger hole for Cookie; especially when they find an advanced-level, elaborately decorative spiritual scrapbook that a rookie could never have done.

The latest Cumberland Creek Mystery is an enjoyable whodunit starring a strong protagonist (Annie’s reaction to the first corpse sets the tone for the storyline). Fast-paced, readers will wonder who Cookie is and why she is in town in Mollie Cox Bryan's entertaining investigative tale.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The K Street Affair-Mari Passananti

The K Street Affair

Mari Passananti

Rutland Square Press, Jan 8 2013, $15.99

58 West Rutland Square; Boston, Massachusetts 02118

ISBN: 9780985894603

Terrorists simultaneously attack several Washington, D. C. Metro stations in the worst assault on American soil since 9/11. While her husband cannot get home, FBI Agents Henry Redwell and Maxwell Van Buren visit Rutledge & Smerth junior associate lawyer Lena Mancuso at her house. The Feds demand Lena assist them prove their case against disgraced lobbyist William Acheson and her employer Q. Randolph Smerth who leads a team she is on defending the former in court. The agents insist the pair knew the terrorist attack was coming and want her to be their informant proving bribery and money laundering involving Smerth and his Clearwater clients Acheson, Russian oil baron Korov and future Saudi ruler Prince Aziz.

Though she insists Smerth is no terrorist abettor, she reluctantly agrees to help the Feds. However, Lena soon realizes the FBI is clueless as to how dangerous and humongous the international octopi of Lotus a “blocker company on steroids” truly are when it comes to profiting from tax free war.

The K Street Affair is a superb financial legal thriller starring a woman whose life is devastated when the Feds knock on her door to recruit her as an undercover operative. Lacking ambition as partnership is not a goal she wants to sacrifice her life for, Lena seems like a poor Hail Mary choice to save the country (and other nations) from a deadly global corporacy. Fans will enjoy this taut tale wondering whether this apparently average person has the guts to risk her life and those of her loved ones to prevent an insider takeover of the country when the impact on her would be insignificant at best.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Cover of Snow-Jenny Milchman

Cover of Snow

Jenny Milchman

Ballantine, Jan 15 2013, $26.00

ISBN 9780345534217

In Wedeskyull, New York, owner of the Phoenix house restoration business Nora and police officer Brendan Hamilton are happily married. Deeply in love, she awakens to find him hanging by an old rope from the ceiling. Officials rule it suicide which his mother Eileen accepts without a second thought.

However, Nora rejects the ruling as she believes her beloved spouse would not have killed himself especially after a night of lovemaking both enjoyed. She investigates but the cops, his family and the remote Adirondack villagers refuse to cooperate. Still even with the silence she receives, Nora finds allies in her sister, autistic Dugger Mackenzie and reporter Ned Kramer as she uncovers strange behavior by her late husband. He obtained sedatives which would explain why she slept very late as he drugged her so she would not interrupt him and she learns of his brother’s death twenty-five years ago though she cannot quite connect the demises of the siblings.

The key to this taut psychological thriller is the cast including the isolated mountain village which seems genuine whether it is the grieving heroine seeking answers, the locals warning her to back off, or her few supporters helping her learn the truth. Atmospheric, fans will enjoy this low key suspense as a bewildered Nora narrates her tale in a town with a whispered dark history.

Harriet Klausner

Private London-James Patterson and Mark Pearson

Private London

James Patterson and Mark Pearson

Grand Central, Dec 4 2012, $14.99

ISBN: 9781455515554

In Southern California, Private International’s top gun Jack Morgan saved the life of Hannah Shapiro though she witnessed her mother’s assault. Shook by her near death experience, Hannah attends classes at Chancellors University in London. Her affluent father hires Private International to protect his daughter. Jack assigns Private London’s Dan Carter to keep her safe.

However, someone abducts Hannah to Dan’s chagrin. He desperately searches for her while his former wife Detective Inspector Kirsty Webb works on a case involving the serial kidnaping, rape and organ stealing of young healthy women in which Hannah may be in the queue for harvesting of her body parts.

The latest Private investigative thriller (see Private Berlin) is an engaging tale that is at its best when the focus is on saving Hannah though she seems more jinxed than Joe Btfspik of Li’l Abner fame. When the plot goes internationally big, it loses plausibility especially trying to merge the ex-spouses’ respective inquiries into one. Still fans will enjoy touring England with Private London as our guide.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Saving Grace-Pamela Fagan Hutchins

Saving Grace

Pamela Fagan Hutchins

SkipJack Publishing, Sep 24 2012, $18.95

ISBN: 9780988234802

Thirtyish Dallas attorney Katie Connell has become an alcoholic especially since her parents died last year on the Caribbean island of St. Marcos. After winning a high profile case, she gets drunk and sleeps with her co-worker Nick Kovacs who she thinks she loves. However, this makes her late for court the next morning before she breaks down in front of everyone.

Humiliated and with her career and love life dead, Katie ignores her brother’s plea for her to enter rehab; instead she flees to St. Marcos where her parents died with a plan to investigate their deaths. She hires former NYPD cop Paul Walker to make inquiries. Meanwhile voodoo enthralls Katie, but it is her new friend Ava who inadvertently begins her rehabilitation. When the police arrest Ava for murdering her lover Guy an influential senator, Katie provides the defense though criminal law is not her specialty.

The first Katie Connell thriller is an exciting tale that combines twisting investigative and legal subplots with a character seeking redemption by learning what happened to her parents who allegedly drove off a cliff. The storyline begins slowly while in Texas as we meet the self-destructive unhappy Katie, but accelerates into an exhilarating mystery with a touch of voodoo once the fascinating protagonist stops her free fall upon meeting Ava in the Caribbean.

Harriet Klausner

Fatal Decree-H. Terrell Griffin

Fatal Decree

H. Terrell Griffin

Oceanview, Jan 15 2013, $25.95

ISBN 9781608090709

Longboat Key, Florida’s only cop Jennifer Diane “J.D.” Duncan asks her lover retired lawyer Matt Royal to help her with a case that brings out repressed memories. When Duncan worked at Miami PD a dozen years ago, she failed to find the Whale Tail serial killer who executed his middle aged female victims with a bullet to the head and found bound to a tree. Her current investigation deals with the death of a stranger eerily similar to those earlier victims as she has a whale tail earing on her left ear.

Matt and J.D. investigate the homicide and finds the victim has government ties, but fails to answer why here and whether the killer returned or a copycat emerged. However, the inquiry spins weirdly when Guatemalan gangbangers attempt to kill Matt and J.D. Further complicating the murder mystery is Matt's best friend Jock Algren is directed to eliminate the killer as he works for that same agency the deceased worked at.

The latest Matt Royal whodunit (see Collateral Damage) is an engaging investigative thriller. The whodunit is interesting because each new clue convolutes the case but not as much as Matt’s fears that J.D. soon will leave the Key to return to the big city. Fans will enjoy the competing hunts for a killer.

Harriet Klausner

Dante's Wood-Lynne Raimondo

Dante's Wood

Lynne Raimondo

Prometheus/Seventh Street, Jan 15 2013, $15.95

ISBN 9781616147181

In Chicago, eighteen year old Charlie Dickerson has the mental acumen of an elementary school child. His affluent parents have their teenage son residing at the New Horizons Center. Recently they fear someone abuses Charlie as he has been crying at night. Thus they turn to psychiatrist Mark Angelotti to determine the truth.

Eighteen months ago, Mark learned he suffered from Lever’s Hereditary Optic Neuropathy, which is leaving him blind. He interviews Charlie who confesses that he killed the center's art teacher Shannon Sparrow. Knowing incarcerating Charlie would destroy the mentally handicapped teen, Mark investigates the New Horizons Center staff including the late Shannon to see if abuse is prevalent. However, as he faces a malpractice lawsuit Mark is unprepared to learn the deceased was carrying Charlie’s child.

The first Mark Angelotti psychological thriller is a terrific mystery starring a wise-cracking protagonist who uses self-deprecating humor as a defense mechanism enabling him to deal with his degenerative eye condition. The storyline grips the reader from the moment Mark and Charlie meet as the reader learns that the truth will set no one free, but the big lie leaves the needy in a horrible stasis.

Harriet Klausner

Fear of Beauty-Susan Froetschel

Fear of Beauty

Susan Froetschel

Prometheus/Seventh Street, Jan 15 2013, $15.95

ISBN 9781616147020

As the American military arrive in the village of Laashekoh in Helmand Province, the battered body of a child Ali is found at the bottom of a nearby cliff. Anti-American extremists arrive to take advantage of the grief by blaming the foreign invaders for the death of the oldest child of Sofi and Parsaa. Though many villagers feel the child accidently fell, some loathing the Americans hold them culpable. Parsaa wants to move on as he has four other sons; while Sofi cannot as she feels the soldiers are easy scapegoat and she needs to know for certain who the killer is.

Just outside Laashekoh in an encampment, Army Ranger Joey Peterson may have been raised by dogmatic fundamentalists, but like all of his peers, struggles with accomplishing his training assignment due to the lack of local skills and a hatred of the infidels. Daughter of a General, Ag specialist Mita Samuelson teaches Sofi to read so that she learn what really happened to her oldest son while the Afghani extremists push to kick out the enemy and force women back to their more traditional roles. They kill Peterson’s translator and kidnap Samuelson.

This is a great societal thriller that deftly rotates the lead between Peterson and Sofi. Action-packed, readers will feel they are in Helmond Province as Sofi bravely searches for the truth with Mita and Joey enabling her. However, what makes Fear of Beauty one of the top novels of the year is the moral warning that extreme preservation of a culture’s tradition can result in perverting the fundamental belief system; whether it is American, Afghani or otherwise.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, November 30, 2012

Merciless-Lori Armstrong


Lori Armstrong

Touchstone, Jan 8 2013, $15.00

ISBN 9781451625363

Former Army sniper Mercy Gunderson recently became an FBI special agent. Mercy struggles to adjust to the boring training in Rapid City for new law enforcement officials and as a civilian with her love-in ranch boyfriend Eagle River County Sheriff Mason Dawson and being legally recognized as a Minneconjou Sioux tribesman due to her one-fourth blood but not accepted as a member. Adding to her chaos is his tweener son Lex who was exiled to live with them.

Mercy and her partner Shay Turnbull investigate the murder of teenage Arlette Shooting Star, the Eagle River Reservation tribal president’s niece. She was found naked with a staked protruding in her heart. When she challenges tribal leaders and FBI superior officers, Mercy is exiled to researching tribal archives; where she finds cold case evidence of a probable serial killer. Unbeknownst to her, this psychopath targets Mercy as the next vicimt.

The third Mercy Gunderson investigative thriller is a strong entry as the protagonist, used to making her own rules on a case (see Mercy Kill and No Mercy), finds she is hampered by bureaucratic officialdom. The storyline is fast-paced and filled with action as the audience anticipates a showdown between a predatory maniac and a diligent law enforcement operative.

Harriet Klausner

Vampire Defense-James D. Bell

Vampire Defense

James D. Bell

Sartoris Literary Group, Nov 9 2012, $14.95

ISBN: 9780985885212

In Jackson, Mississippi lawyer John Brooks works ethically and diligently providing the best legal advice to his clients. The court administrator appoints Brooks with his first media-frenzy case; defending Hal “the Butcher of Belhaven” Boyd who is charged with arson and four counts of murder. Boyd tells Brooks his reason for living ended when he killed the creature who destroyed his fiancé; and now he just wants to die.

As the international press comes to Mississippi for the Boyd trial, Brooks files a guilty by reason of insanity plea; as his client claims he killed a vampire. The media and the legal world have a field day ridiculing the “Vampire Defense”while heaping scorn on the dedicated attorney and his staff. Soon threats to drop the case arrive followed by assaults, arson and abductions.

The Vampire Defense is a terrific over the top of Woodall Mountain “paranormal” legal thriller that enthralls the audience with wondering whether the undead live. Fast-paced, fans will widen their definition of good and evil with obsessed individuals willing to do anything to further their agenda. With a double helix climax, fans who appreciate something different will want to read the legal defense of an avenging vampire slayer and cultists seeking their brand of revenge; caught in the crosshairs is Brooks and his team.

Harriet Klausner

The Start of Everything-Emily Winslow

The Start of Everything

Emily Winslow

Delacorte, Jan 8 2013, $26.00

ISBN: 9780385342902

Just outside Cambridge, the decomposed corpse of a female teen comes ashore in the marshes. Recently promoted Police DI Chloe Frohmann and her just off medical leave partner DCI Morris Keene investigate the case. Chloe feels added pressure from other cops for failing to provide back-up to Morris when he was injured during an interview and her superior wants her to report whether Keene is ready for active duty.

At the same time as the two cops struggle to learn who their victim is, the daughter of Cambridge University Mathematics Professor Tobias Oliver, Mathilde, has made it her mission to locate campus people whose mail is undeliverable. She currently searches for a student Katja; unaware of the mess she steps into. Soon all converge on Deeping House.

Emily Winslow’s second Cambridge University police procedural (see The Whole World) is an exciting thriller that rotates perspective between the key players in the past and present. That methodology enhances the reader’s insight into the motives of the cast but also leaves the storyline somewhat disjointed. Still this is a suspenseful tale as the audience will want to know what transpired at Deeping House over the holidays.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Grain of Truth-Zygmunt Miloszewski

Grain of Truth

Zygmunt Miloszewski

Bitter Lemon, Jan 8 2013, $14.99

ISBN: 9781908524027

In 2009 former Warsaw Prosecutor Teodor Szacki knows his unfulfilling affair with reporter Monica Grzelka destroyed his marriage, and left him alone without family in exile in Sandomierz, a provincial city that shuts down at 6 PM. However, he became a local celebrity when he solved the case of a murdered Ukrainian prostitute that led to him breaking up a human-trafficking ring.

An unknown psychopath viciously slashes numerous times the throat of Elzbieta Budnik before dumping her nude body for all passersby to see in a ravine below the city’s medieval walls. Szacki leads the homicide investigation in which the exorbitant number of cuts and draining of the blood imply a crime of ritual passion. Szacki learns a knife used by Jewish butchers is the murder weapon, which has the prosecutor wondering if a religious sacrifice occurred. Additional similar murders occur including Budnik’s spouse and Szacki feels pressure to end the serial ritual killings.

The second Polish State Prosecutor Szacki case (see Entanglement) is a great murder mystery that hooks the audience from start to finish as the whodunit takes center stage but cleverly enhanced by a close look at Szacko’s middle age despair. The terrific storyline contains ties to anti-Semitism dating back to WWII, but leaves the reader pondering until the super climax whether it is a Jew enacting vengeance or a non-Jew using a convenient scapegoat.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Fatal Friends, Deadly Neighbors: Ann Rule's Crime Files Volume 16

Fatal Friends, Deadly Neighbors: Ann Rule's Crime Files Volume 16

Ann Rule

Pocket, Nov 27 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9781451648287

In 2009 a blizzard hammers West Valley, City, Utah. During the storm, Susan Powell vanished. Her husband Josh said he assumed she ran off with another man leaving him with their two pre-school sons. Susan’s parents and three sisters insisted this was out of character for her as she always wanted a family. In 2011, a second tragedy strikes the Powell family.

In 2011 at the Spreckels Mansion in Coronado, California, billionaire owner Jonah Shacknai’s son Maxfield falls from a balcony; he is placed in a medical induced coma. Jonah’s girlfriend Rebecca is found hung to death.

These two taut novella-length true crime entries and the seven other shorts affirm that the author still rules the genre. The sixteenth Crime Files lives up to its title of beware of “Fatal Friends, Deadly Neighbors.”

Harriet Klausner

The Cezanne Chase-Thomas Swan

The Cezanne Chase

Thomas Swan

Morrow, Nov 27 2012, $14.99

ISBN: 9781557049674

In St. Petersburg’s Hermitage Museum, someone mutilates Paul Cezanne’s Self-Portrait in a Beret. In London’s National Gallery, someone tosses acid on Paul Cezanne’s Self-Portrait without a Beret. Scotland Yard's Art and Antiques Detective Chief Inspector Jack Oxby investigates the destruction of the Cezanne in the National Gallery only to learn that another work by the great artist owned by private collector Alan Pinkster was destroyed by acid too. This time the director of the Pinkster Gallery in Surry Clarence Boggs died from the toxin used to destroy the third Cezanne.

Shocked like everyone in the art world except perhaps one nefarious patron by the international destruction of the Cezanne masterpieces, affluent New Yorker Edwin Llewellyn worries about the safety of the Cezanne self-portrait he owns. Astrid Haraldsen introduces herself to Llewellyn as the opening gambit for her and her associate Peder Aukrust to destroy Llewellyn’s Cezanne as the original 26 known self-portraits methodically are being destroyed.

This reprint of the first Oxby art mystery is an action-packed globetrotting thriller that will keep readers enthralled from start to finish even as the engaging storyline becomes obvious. Filled with suspense, Thomas Swan paints an intriguing mystery inside of the capitalist world of art.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Blood Gospel-James Rollins and Rebecca Cantrell

The Blood Gospel

James Rollins and Rebecca Cantrell

Morrow, Jan 8 2013, $27.99

ISBN: 9780061991042

In Caesarea, archaeologist Dr. Erin Granger and her team find evidence of a tomb containing hundreds of dead babies buried two millennia ago. She thinks they may have found King Herod’s “Massacre of the Innocents.” In Masada, an earthquake kills hundreds including the parents of Tommy, a child taking chemo due to melanoma; he survives and miraculously his cancer is cured.

Erin, U.S. Army Sergeant Jordan Stone and Father Ruhn Korza explore a tomb concealed for centuries until the earthquake. They find the crucified body of a child who died just over a decade ago. While still inside the tomb, the trio fights for their lives when inhuman beings attack them. Father Ruhn believes the answers can be found in the mystical missing tome allegedly scribed by Christ in his blood. The threesome begins a trek to obtain this holiest of holy books by Christ in order to bring divine sanctification to a secret Vatican order the Sanguines exposed by Rembrandt but ignored by all until now.

The first exciting Order Sanguines Christian horror thriller grips the audience from the moment the tomb in Mount Masada is discovered and keeps that hold until the final sacrament occurs. Readers will enjoy traveling to Germany, Russia and ultimately the Vatican with the protagonists as our guides through a Church with a history of good and bad. Although the storyline is straightforward, The Blood Gospel is a super ride.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, November 26, 2012

Unnatural Habits-Kerry Greenwood

Unnatural Habits

Kerry Greenwood

Poisoned Pen, Jan 1 2013, $24.95

ISBN: 9781464201233

In Melbourne, the Honorable Phryne Fisher and Dr. Elizabeth MacMillan head to the Adventuresses Club when they observe three thugs about to attack a lone female. Phryne gives them a warning they ignore so three Chinese working for her lover Lin Chung beat the hooligans up.

The target is reporter Margaret “Polly” Kettle. She explains that she is investigating a story on three pregnant girls allegedly vanishing from a nursing home after working at the Abbotsford Convent’s Magdalen Laundry. Furthermore the journalist says she told the cops who ignored her plea. She begs Phryne to help, but soon afterward Polly disappears. Phryne makes inquiries finding shocking inhuman conditions.

The latest Phryne Fisher Australian 1920s mystery (see Dead Man’s Chest) is a powerful thriller that uses the real Magdalen Laundry as the base for an investigation into despicable greed ignored or conspiratorially concealed by authorities due to influence peddling. The insightful storyline will shake readers with the premise that the brothels house their female supply in much nicer conditions than the convent’s laundry room filled with pregnant unwed girls as the former is needed in top condition while the latter is being punished for their sins. Readers will appreciate Phryne’s trek into the darkest side of post WWI Melbourne.

Harriet Klausner

The Llama of Death-Betty Webb

The Llama of Death

Betty Webb

Poisoned Pen, Jan 1 2013, $24.95

ISBN: 9781464200663

In Central California, Aster Edwina Gunn assigns her employees Gunn Zoo Zookeeper Theodora “Teddy” Bentley and Alejandro the llama to provide rides for children at the Gunn Landing Renaissance Faire. Neither Teddy nor Alejandro is ecstatic over this demeaning assignment though it is the llama doing the spitting.

At the pen enclosing Alejandro’s rides, someone murders mail order minister Victor Emerson who played the role of Henry VIII at the Faire. Deputy Elvin Dade initially considers arresting the llama until it is pointed out that Alejandro would have had a hard time shooting the arrow into the head of Emerson. Instead he arrests serial wife Caroline Petersen (her surname for now) as the killer; her motive involves two of her myriad of weddings ministered by the late Rev. Teddy knows her mom Caroline, who was performing as Anne Boleyn at the Faire, is not the culprit so she investigates; while her father surprisingly arrives from Costa Rican exile with plans to break out his ex-wife from jail; that is when he is not befriending Aster.

The latest Gunn Zoo amateur sleuth (see The Anteater of Death and The Koala of Death) is an engaging amusing cozy starring a zookeeper, a llama, a dysfunctional family, an incompetent cop and a killer. Fast-paced with interesting insight into zoos and animals wrapped inside of Teddy’s inquiry, fans will enjoy this fun cozy.

Harriet Klausner

Blessed Are Those Who Thirst-Anne Holt; Anne Bruce (translator)

Blessed Are Those Who Thirst

Anne Holt; Anne Bruce (translator)

Scribner, Dec 18 2012, $15.00

ISBN 9781451634785

Oslo Detective Inspector Hanne Wilhelmsen hides her relationship with her live-in lover Cecilie from the brass to the consternation of her significant other. At the same time she leads a homicide investigation in which every Saturday night eight digits written in blood on walls in rooms soaked in blood but with no corpses appear in various places in the city.

She and police attorney Håkon Sand struggle to figure out what the numbers represent and whether a serial killer is on a killing spree in Oslo. That is until Sand concludes the numbers are the formal government database assigned to individual foreign immigrants. The pair realizes all are females and missing and to get the numbers implies government insider. Wilhelmsen also works a serial rape case unaware that a victim Kristine and her father have plans to avenge the violent assault.

The latest Wilhelmsen Norwegian police procedural (see 1222 and The Blind Goddess) is a strong investigative thriller that focuses on the resentment towards immigrants. Both cases are strong especially the anti-immigration fervor while the protagonist’s personal life is rocky. Readers will appreciate this deep Norwegian Noir.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Killer Crust-Chris Cavender

Killer Crust

Chris Cavender

Kensington, Dec 24 2012, $24.00

ISBN: 9780758271525

In Timber Ridge, North Carolina, the Laughing Luigi frozen pizza dough distributer offers a $25,000 prize to the winner of a pizza bake-off. Owners of A Slice of Delight Pizza Parlor, Eleanor Swift and Maddy Spencer, distrust Luigi, but the contest seems genuine; so the sisters enter.

However, the siblings quickly change their mind as unscrupulous Luigi apparently fixed the contest. Soon after that, Luigi is found dead with A Slice of Delight pizza stuffed in his mouth. Police chief Kevin Hurley, Eleanor and Maddy investigate who poisoned the pizza as the late Luigi made many enemies.

The latest Pizza Lovers Mystery (see Rest in Pizza) is a delightful whodunit as there are plenty of people with strong motives to kill the odious Luigi. Opportunity may seem as if the siblings had the best chance as their slice is the murder weapon, but the audience quickly realizes others had access. Fans will enjoy this entry as the sisters once again find themselves dealing with A Pizza To Die For.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Aftershock-Jill Sorenson


Jill Sorenson

Harlequin HQN, Dec 18 2012, $7.99

ISBN 9780373777327

In San Diego, paramedics Lauren and Joe respond to an emergency call. However, an earthquake measured at 8.5 on the Richter scale wracks the city. Joe dies and Lauren is buried in a gigantic hole with highway debris including cars above her and thus trapping her inside.

Lauren searches for other trapped survivors and soon meets Iraq war veteran Garrett. With his help, they rescue a pregnant teen, an elderly man and his granddaughter. Three dangerous criminals also survive. Lauren and Garrett set up an emergency operation, but the felons demand the food, water, and medicine.

With a nod to the World Series earthquake and the Stallone movie Daylight, Aftershock is a great thriller that grips readers from the moment the tremor occurs until the final confrontation. The key to the strong storyline is that the romance between the lead couple is palatable but takes a back seat to the survival theme. Readers will appreciate Jill Sorenson’s superb tense romantic suspense as the thriller subplot comes across as genuine leaving readers feeling trapped alongside Lauren and Joe under the freeway.

Harriet Klausner

The Right Hand-Derek Haas

The Right Hand

Derek Haas

Mulholland/Little Brown, Nov 13 2012, $25.99

ISBN: 9780316198462

CIA leadership recognizes that field operative Austin “Right Hand” Clay is one of their best assets though no one would admit this revelation as he handles the most covert dirty jobs in which the government denies involvement. In other words he is the ultimate in the cold agent who the left hand spy agencies deny knowing what The Right Hand is doing; as his section consists of Clay and his handler of three years Andrew Stedding.

His current assignment is to bring in missing Blake Nelson, dead or alive. Nelson who works in Moscow has failed to make contact in five days and the brass fear he may have turned greedy. Clay quickly learns Hungarian Marika Csontos has become a target for elimination by enemies who need to insure she remains silent as she accidently has uncovered top Russian secrets including a traitor selling America out for decades and an assassin targeting inside the organization.

The Right Hand is an exhilarating espionage thriller starring a hero who does the dirty jobs outside the law. Early on Clay’s black ops outside the law persona is set when he confronts Beto who has Intel connections. Filled with incredible action, fans will enjoy The Right Hand as he goes after traitors and enemy operatives with no regard to his safety or the law.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, November 16, 2012

Orders from Berlin-Simon Tolkien

Orders from Berlin

Simon Tolkien

Minotaur, Dec 11 2012, $25.99

ISBN 9780312632144

In 1940 Gestapo Chief Reinhard Heydrich has planted a mole inside British MI6. Meanwhile in London, someone shoves former MI6 Chief Albert Morrison over a banister outside his apartment. His horrified daughter Ava watches her dad plunge to his death, but cannot identify the killer due to the darkened streets.

Scotland Yard Detective Chief Inspector John Quaid almost immediately decides Ava’s husband Bertie killed his father-in-law. Quaid’s employee Detective William Trave believes the case is much more than a family matter as he believes the deceased’s previous occupation is involved with his death; especially after he found a strange note in Albert’s pocket and that the MI6 Deputy Chief Alec Thorn visited him earlier on that fatal day. Trave theorizes that the county’s ex spymaster was silenced before he could expose a traitor.

The third terrific Trave historical police procedural actually occurs almost two decades before the previous two investigations (see The Inheritance and The King of Diamonds). Filled with action and taut suspense, readers will believe they are in London during the Nazi air blitz as the raids impact the case. Orders From Berlin is a strong whodunit wrapped inside a powerful espionage thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Extra Credit-Maggie Barbieri

Extra Credit

Maggie Barbieri

Minotaur, Dec 11 2012, $24.99
ISBN: 9781250001887

In Westchester County, New York, NYPD Detective Bobby Crawford and his ex-wife Christine celebra te their twin daughters’ nineteenth birthday. Family attending the bash is Bobby’s wife Professor Alison Bergeron and Christine’s husband and his four children. Christine’s brother Uncle Chick, who no one has seen or heard from in years, makes a surprise visit. He gives $5,000 each to the twins.

After the shock wears off, Bobby and Christine agree to return the loot to Uncle Chick. Bobby and Alison visit Chick only to find him near death. The police arrive and find $250,000 inside the mattress. The cops conclude suicide, but Christine believes someone murdered her sibling. While her friends (Max, Fred and ex-priest Kevin) warn Alison to not investigate, they assist her when she does.

The latest Murder 101 amateur sleuth (see Physical Education, Third Degree, Final Exam and Quick Study) is an engaging extended family affair that reflects the complex relationships. The cast is solid in support of the heroine who feels out of her element hosting a teen bash but in her element detecting; while explaining to Max and fans why she obsessively must investigate. Readers will enjoy this entertaining whodunit

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Silver Cross-B. Kent Anderson

Silver Cross

B. Kent Anderson

Forge, Nov 27 2012, $25.99

ISBN: 9780765328625

In October 1864, Southern spy Rose Greenhow possesses a letter in which French Emperor Napoleon III informs Confederate President Jefferson Davis that he supports their noble cause and will provide aid in exchange for the “Silver Cross.” However, Greenhow drowns off the North Carolina coast near the mouth of the Cape Fear River while trying to deliver the message.

In the present, Federal Research and Investigations Office Deputy Director Meg Tolman finds out that her friend Dana Cable accidentally died while walking on a seawall below Kure Beach near the mouth of the Cape Fear River. At the funeral, a stranger gives Tolman the Napoleon III note that Greenhow was toting and soon believes her cellist friend from Pennsylvania was murdered. Tolman and History Professor Nick Journey team up again (see Cold Glory) in search of the Silver Cross in West Texas even while the Associates pursue them and rogue assassin Ann Gray will kill anyone who stands in her way of obtaining the relic.

The second Tolman-Journey thriller is an exciting tale that deftly merges a strange death over a century and a half ago with a strange death in the present. Fast-paced and filled with action (including acts of terrorism), readers will enjoy this taut storyline with a strong cast especially the protagonists.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Shiver-Karen Robards


Karen Robards

Gallery, Dec 4 2012, $25.00

ISBN: 9781451678673

In St. Louis, twentyish single mom of four year old Tyler, Samantha Jones attends EMT certification classes while working nights repossessing cars. She arrives to tow away a BMW only to find critically battered and shot Danny Panterro in the trunk.

Danny is an undercover FBI agent, who was outed when the drug cartel he had infiltrated blew up the safe house he was hiding in. That explosion confuses Danny as it seems wrong for drug lord Veith to blow up the townhouse before collecting the missing money. Sam saved his life, but he knows she and her son are now in peril as vicious drug runners pursue them with one objective, three deaths.

Shiver is an action-packed romantic suspense thriller that starts off with an incredible opening scene and never slows down as nothing is quite like it seems. Fast-paced and starring two intrepid protagonists, readers will enjoy Shiver as the bad guys keep the lethal pressure on the good guys.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Doctor of Thessaly-Anne Zouroudi

The Doctor of Thessaly

Anne Zouroudi

Reagan Arthur Books/Little Brown, Dec 4 2012, $24.99

ISBN: 9780316217873

In Morfi, Greece, French Dr. Louis Chabrol and local Chrissa Kalgi were engaged. However, he jilts Chrissa on their wedding day. Heartbroken she heads to the beach to weep. Meanwhile Louis struggles with the pain caused by acid tossed into his face. His eyes are blinded and part of his visage scarred as Adonis Anapodos brings him water to cool his face.

Athens investigator Hermes “Fat Man” Diaktoros arrives in Morfi. He asks questions re the incident but no one talks about what happened to the doctor. Even more puzzling is Chabrol prefers the matter dropped. Ignoring the desires of the injured doctor and others, Diaktoros continues to probe.

The latest Seven Deadly Sins Greek mystery (see A Touch of Midas and The Messenger of Athens) is an exciting investigative thriller that focuses on envy. Leisurely-paced, readers will want to know why the doctor chooses to let the brutal assault go unpunished, who did the attack and why.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Sanctity of Hate-Priscilla Royal

The Sanctity of Hate

Priscilla Royal

Poisoned Pen, Dec 4 2012, $24.95

ISBN 9781464200205

In 1276 village newcomer Kenelm is found dead in a millpond. Brother Thomas determines that the murder is of a Christian hired to escort and protect Jews and it occurred on the grounds of the Tyndal Priory.

Prioress Eleanor and Crowner Ralf agree to investigate the homicide together. The villagers universally disliked the deceased, but refuse to allow any of them to be accused. Instead they blame a displaced family of three Jews forced to relocate under King Edward’s 1275 Statue of the Jewry. The trio stopped in Tyndal due to the wife’s pregnancy. The townsfolk explain to the investigators that Kenelm and Jacob ben Asser the Jew publically argued and therefore he and his kind killed the Christian. Crowner Ralf disagrees due to the injuries on the deceased makes it doubtful that the Jew assaulted the victim.

The latest Thomas and Eleanor medieval mystery (see Killing Season, Chambers of Death and Valley of Dry Bones) is a super historical that may be the long running series best. The key to this strong saga is “A Season of Hate” decreed and deployed by King Edward who has no further use of the Jewish financial support of him. This anti-Semitic background weaves brilliantly with a strong whodunit in which the villagers including residents of the priory prefer a scapegoat rather than the truth.

Harriet Klausner

Jail Coach-Hillary Bell Locke

Jail Coach

Hillary Bell Locke

Poisoned Pen, Dec 4 2012, $24.95

ISBN 9781464200267

New Paradigm Studio’s Performing Artist took out a multi-million dollar insurance policy with Trans/Oxana insurance on Hollywood A level actor Kent Trowbridge after their star banged up his Ferrari while the cops busted him for DUI. Trans/Oxana assigns “loss prevention specialist” Jay Davidovich to protect the firm from paying millions by keeping the bad boy out of trouble while he serves time.

Jay knows how difficult this task will prove; as besides jail time for the DUI, Trowbridge also faces assault charges. He hires ex-marine Katrina Starr Thompson (and her toddler) as a jail coach to mentor Trowbridge on surviving prison. However, Jay also must keep his client safe as Trowbridge goes on a final publicity tour; Stan Chaladian has other plans for the farewell appearance.

The first Jay Davidovich loss prevention assignment is an amusing action-packed thriller starring a combat veteran who will do what it takes to complete the assignment. Trowbridge is a delightful pampered counterpart to the hero while Katrina and Chaladian add depth to the exciting opening act as readers will take over and under bets on how much time the actor spends behind bars.

Harriet Klausner

A Killer In The Rye-Delia Rosen

A Killer In The Rye

Delia Rosen

Kensington Dec 4 2012

ISBN: 9780758241726

Following her divorce, Gwen Katz left New York having inherited her late Uncle Murray's Jewish deli, the Pastrami Swami in Nashville, Tennessee. She takes over running the deli with the needed help of “Mother Hen” Thomasina and earns a rep as the Nashville Katz.

Gwen panics when she runs out of bakery fresh rye bread as what is a deli without rye especially when the “Best Medium-Range Restaurant of Nashville” competition is about to begin. She pleads and pounds Brenda Silvio of “McCoy’s Bakery” to provide her with a special delivery. Brenda’s husband Joe delivers the rush order, but Gwen finds him dead inside his vehicle. Due to her rye bread public shouting match over the phone with Brenda, Nash is a person of interest. To the chagrin of her maybe boyfriend NPD Detective Grant Daniels, Nash investigates as pictures of the murder are placed on Facebook and the Nashville National.

This engaging kibitzer Katz kosher Deadly Deli amateur sleuth stars a heroine who feels like a “Damn Yankee” as she is embroiled in another homicide mystery (see One Foot in the Gravy) somewhat similar in tone to A Brisket, A Casket; as the reps of her and the deli are on the line. The storyline is fast-paced and filled with quirky characters especially at the Pastrami Swami. Fans will enjoy Gwen’s inquiry as murder is once again on the menu.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Pandora’s Temple-Jon Land

Pandora’s Temple

Jon Land

Open Road, Nov 20 2012, $16.99

ISBN 9781453224632

Blaine McCracken leads a team on a search and rescue mission of four kidnapped Americans from a Mexican druglord. Soon after McCracken successfully extracts the students leaving behind a lot of dead gangsters in their in Juarez encampment, his friend Paul Basmajian leads the drilling of the deepest well ever, the Deepwater Venture oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico. However, he and his top assistant George Arnold feel something is wrong and try to shut down the drill just before the looming disaster occurs. They fail and all hell breaks loose.

McCracken learns Paul is missing and the hundred person crew is either dead or near dead. He leads an inquiry at the damaged site where he concludes that oil was not the product sought. Instead the firm tried to corral unstable dark energy; the failure leaves the world in danger with the only salvation being a temple that may not exist.

The latest McCracken thriller (see Dead Simple) is a fun save the world from a manmade environmental disaster starring a team of heroes mindful of Doc Savage and his team of taunting teasers in the face of deadly danger. However, the three enemy groups (a Japanese cult, an energy magnum and a giant squid) come across as underdeveloped unneeded caricatures as the true adversary is preventing dark matter from taking over the planet.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Unbridled Greed-Barry Johnson

Unbridled Greed

Barry Johnson

Rocochi Ridge Publishing, Oct 11 2012, $14.99

ISBN: 9780986024603

In Chicago, FBI Agent Nina Moretti goes undercover as patient Alice Rizzo trying to obtain hardcore information that Dr. Hugh Patterson is committing medical insurance fraud. She succeeds to the delight of Justice Department investigator Bryan Hampton and Sideral Healthcare SIU investigator Ted Kucharski. Bryan makes his case to the US Attorney for the Chicago District Albert Tacovic who agrees to a raid in two days. Al turns to his sister, family friendly Judge Markowski, and Patterson’s lawyer to get the doctor off the hook with no ties back to him; while also blackmailing a donation for his congressional run from the physician.

With help from anti-medical fraud combatant Da Silva, an irate Hampton obtains a position working for his former college roommate the US Attorney for the Nevada District Paul Dixon. Hampton learns his new boss has personal reasons to fight medical insurance fraud. As they work together alongside of BeatMedicalFraud operative Gayle Baker, danger mounts while Hampton is attracted to Dixon’s assistant single mom Charlie Cruz.

Unbridled Greed is a fast-paced medical thriller in which Barry Johnson shines a vivid light on health care insurance fraud. Fast-paced throughout even with explanations for instance on threshold monetary figures triggering investigations (small amounts are ignored as the cost of prosecution exceeds the fraudulent claims). Although black and white as the good guys are ethical Diogenes’ candidates and the bad guys are Darth Vader protégé, readers will relish this powerful look at the impact of a multi-billion dollar medical insurance fraud industry.

Harriet Klausner

A Death in the Small Hours-Charles Finch

A Death in the Small Hours

Charles Finch

Minotaur, Nov 13 2012, $24.99

ISBN: 9781250011602

In 1874 Charles Lenox is in Parliament, but misses his days as a private detection investigator though his former apprentice John Dallington allows him some precarious thrills by consulting with him. A new dad, Charles is excited that he will provide the opening remarks of the next parliamentary session.

While he prepares for the honor; Charles, his wife Jane, their baby Sophie and Miss Taylor the nursemaid visit his beloved Uncle Frederick Ponsonby in Plumbley. Dallington joins them as he lays low after a recent scandalous intoxication. He learns someone vandalizes the small Somerset village. This unknown individual has drawn a picture of a man hanging on the doors of two merchants and the Roman number XXII on the door of the church. When a teenage constable is stabbed to death and Uncle Freddie abducted, Charles investigates wondering if the vandal is now a murderer and kidnapper.

The latest Charles Lenox Victorian whodunit (see A Burial at Sea and A Stranger in Mayfair) is a terrific historical village mystery. Lenox is at his best with this case as he feels a reprieve from his Parliament duties with a chance to dabble in his preferred vocation of detecting. His obsession turns desperate when his uncle is snatched while his family round out a strong late nineteenth century investigative thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Killer Librarian-Mary Lou Kirwin

Killer Librarian

Mary Lou Kirwin

Pocket, Nov 27 2012, $7.99

ISBN 9781451684643

In Minnesota, Sunshine Valley librarian Karen Nash and her boyfriend Dave the plumber plan to travel to England, a place she has visited many times in books. Hours before they are to leave, Dave flushes his relationship down the toilet and cancels the trip. Though she is disappointed and hurt by “Mr. Toad,” Karen decides to go anyway on her magical mystery tour especially after seeing Dave accompanied by a blonde board the same jet she flies. Ironically in spite of the close quarters on the transatlantic flight, the cuddling pair fails to notice Karen while she turns to novels for creative ways to murder Dave.

In London at a pub near the B&B where she is staying and run by bibliophile Caldwell Perkins, Karen and a stranger drink and chat. She mentions her rage towards Mr. Toad saying she wants him dead. The next day a guest at the B&B is found dead. Soon afterward, Karen’s inner librarian begins to notice evidence that point to a killer targeting Dave and his new squeeze.

This is a terrific cozy starring a Killer Librarian who uses her skills to investigate. The literary references from English authors enhance the engaging amateur sleuth storyline as no one, not even a killer or a politician, messes with the librarian.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, November 5, 2012

The Prince-Tiffany Reisz

The Prince

Tiffany Reisz

Mira, Nov 20 2012, $13.95

ISBN: 9780778314103

A reporter forced dominatrix Nora Sutherlin into hiding. Her owner Søren sends Nora from New York to Kentucky to stay out of unwanted publicity. At the same time that Nora goes into exile, Kingsley Edge replaces her with Søren, a place she has been at on and off for years.

In Bluegrass Country, Nora reunites with thoroughbred king Wes Railey in his realm rather than her turf. Meanwhile Søren and Kingsley search for the predator threatening to expose their kinky lifestyle.

The third Original Sinners BDSM tale (see The Siren and The Angel) is an engaging drama that contains two interesting subplots. First Nora seems on the cusp of choosing between two different hunks though one she can never have one completely and the other only partially satiates her kinky needs. Second Kingsley and Søren hunt the stalker. Fans of the series will enjoy the latest erotic adventures in New York and in Kentucky where Wes’ lower head affirms why he is The Prince.

Harriet Klausner

Cat Bearing Gifts-Shirley Rousseau Murphy

Cat Bearing Gifts

Shirley Rousseau Murphy

Morrow, Nov 20 2012, $19.99

ISBN: 9780061806940

On a mountain road near Molena Point, California, violent Vic Amson’s pickup is wrecked in a multi–vehicle accident. Not one to sit around, Vic and his injured partner Birely Miller steal Pedric and Lucinda Greenlaw’s Lincoln Town Car. They take the “abandoned” vehicle so that they can return to their search for bank robbery money taken by Birely’s grandpa and hidden by her sister Samantha though the property now belongs to Emmylou Warren. The Greenlaw couple is in the hospital having been injured by a landslide just before losing their car.

Vic and Birely soon find the stolen vehicle contains priceless antiques and plenty of jewels. Clyde and Ryan Damen help sneak the Greenlaw companion Kit into the hospital to see Pedric and Lucinda. Afterward the feline and some pals like Joe Grey protect their two legged friends while investigating the theft and subsequently murder.

The key to this entry and for that matter the Joe Grey series (see Cat Telling Tales and Cat Coming Home) is that readers will believe in the feline anthropomorphist behavior especially sleuthing and watching over their two legged pets. The investigation is top rate and the human sitting well done as Kit (and others) works the case while Dulcie works the computers.

Harriet Klausner

Fox Tracks-Rita Mae Brown

Fox Tracks

Rita Mae Brown

Ballantine, Nov 20 2012, $26.00

ISBN: 9780345532978

Septuagenarian Master of the Jefferson Hunt Club in Virginia “Sister” Jane Arnold is staying at Manhattan’s posh Pierre while attending the Masters Ball. She and college student Anne “Tootie” Harris walk in the snow to a nearby Fifth Avenue tobacco shop where the proprietor Aldolfo Galdos sells Sister a special WWI lighter. The two visitors return to the hotel only Sister forgot her cell phone so go back to the shop. In the few minutes between their stops, someone put a bullet between the eyes of Aldofo. The victim had an Amercian Smokes cigarette pack on him.

An eerily similar murder occurs in Boston. Sister begins to think the murders tie back to tobacco farms, but unsure how. When she mentions her feelings, she becomes a target too. At the same time Sister’s enemy Crawford Howard deploys a scheme to devastate the Jefferson Hunt Club. In both cases, Sister and her four legged posse refuse to go away quietly.

The latest Sister Jane amateur sleuth (see Hounded to Death) is an enjoyable whodunit that provides a spotlight on the sport of the hounds and the foxes. The storyline starts passive as readers meet the players while obtaining a deep look into what motivates the passionate two legged players and the various friendly and hostile rivalries between groups and participants. Series fans will enjoy Sister’s sleuthing.

Harriet Klausner

Hot Stuff-Don Bruns

Hot Stuff

Don Bruns

Oceanview Nov 16 2012, $25.95

ISBN 9781608090617

The difference between the amateur and the pro is the pro gets paid even when they lack experience as is the case with Miami’s Moore or Less Investigations PIs Skip Moore and James Lessor. Besides being sleuthing tyros, the pair acts more like teens on the prowl of a good time than investigators on a case.

When someone murders L’Elfe sous chef Amanda Wright, her friend Emily Minard wants the culprit caught as a way to pay back a debt to her late buddy. She asks her boyfriend Skip to make inquiries and persuades the French restaurant’s chef Jean Bouvier to hire Moore or Less to go undercover in order to determine who on the staff has a motive. Possessing a culinary arts degree, James replaces Amanda as the sous chef while Skip possessing two hands replaces AWOL dishwasher Juan Castro. Police Detective Ted Conway warns the bungling pair to stay out of his way.

The latest Stuff investigation (see Too Much Stuff) is an amusing murder mystery as the two stooges cause havoc in the posh French restaurant while trying to uncover a killer one dish at a time. The whodunit is fun but thin while fans of the Stuff duo will enjoy their jocular juvenile jaunts amidst a stuffy elite dining class.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Death of a Country Fried Redneck-Lee Hollis

Death of a Country Fried Redneck

Lee Hollis

Kensington, Nov 6 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780758267382

In Bar Harbor, Maine, Island Times food and wine columnist single mom (of teenagers Gemma and Dustin) Hayley Powell writes a popular unpretentious column. She is excited with the news that her favorite country singer Wade Springer will perform two concerts for charity in Bar Harbor. Hayley figures the way to a man is through his stomach so she pulls a ploy and makes breakfast for Wade. Enjoying the meal, Wade asks her to be his chef while he remains in town; she euphorically agrees.

Roadie Mickey Pritchett makes an unsavory bid for Hayley to sleep with him; she rejects his uncouth attempt. Soon afterward someone shoots and kills Pritchett and sets the tour bus on fire. Though Hayley knows she should remain in the kitchen, she investigates the killing of a rough and rowdy roadie.

The latest Hayley Powell Food & Cocktails mystery (see Death of a Kitchen Diva) is an enjoyable zany amateur sleuth with a seeming horde of suspects such as other roadies, ex-wives and groupies. Over the top of Mount Katahdin, fans will enjoy this amusing wild riff as star-struck Hayley learns the music world proves deadly.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, November 2, 2012

So I’m A Heel/Flint/The Big Out-Arnold Hano writing as Mike Heller and Gil Dodge

So I’m A Heel/Flint/The Big Out

Arnold Hano writing as Mike Heller and Gil Dodge

Stark House, Oct 15 2012, $23.95

ISBN: 9781933586502

“So I’m a Heel” by Mike Heller. In 1944, the Howitzer exploded killing a dozen solders and leaving the “lucky” one Hawkins with a disfigured face having lost his lower jaw. He lives with his wife Mary and ten-year-old son Matt in Laredo Rock, California. Acrimonious Hawkins uses his deformity to take advantage of others and blackmails lawyer Otto Weylin. However Weylin plans to take out Hawkins who is attracted to the attorney’s trashy wife Millie.

“Flint” by Gil Dodge. The only one way a hired killer retires is in a coffin. Flint struggles with a bullet lodged in his lungs. He hopes to walk away after he completes his last job so he heads to Colorado where rancher Good hires him to kill Thomason. Flint obtains a job working for Thomason, but is attracted to his employer’s wife Cora.

“The Big Out” by Arnold Hano. The syndicate informs Blues’ catcher Brick Palmer that his brother forged his signature on a $10,000 debt. They demand remittance. Herald sports reporter Randy York witnesses the money exchange and the player busting the collector’s nose. He exposes Brick who is thrown out of the league. He and his wife head to Montreal to play but is treated with rage while an irate syndicate debt collector travels to Canada for payback.

Using two pseudonyms, Arnold Hano showed his vast depth with this exciting 1950s crime caper collection reprints in differing milieus. The three entries are fast-paced with strong characters in troubled waters way over their heads. Although the exciting suspenseful tales do not fully pass the test of time, fans will appreciate these diverse noirs.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Wrong Hill To Die On-Donis Casey

The Wrong Hill To Die On

Donis Casey

Poisoned Pen, Nov 6 2012, $24.95

ISBN: 9781464200441

In 1916, Alafair and Shaw Tucker leave behind nine of their children under the watch of their oldest offspring in Boynton, Oklahoma. They travel to the home of Alafair’s sister Elizabeth Kemp in Tempe, Arizona so that their ten year old daughter Blanche can heal from bronchitis in the dry climate.

The morning after Elizabeth and her husband Webster hosted a party, Alafair finds the body of Mexican handyman Bernie Arruda, who performed as a mariachi singer at the gala, in an irrigation ditch with less than six inches of water. Constable Nettles leads the investigation at a time when Whites fear and rage at Mexican refugees flooding into Arizona and a movie is being on location here. Unable to resist while fearing for her sister who she fears is involved in human smuggling and whose marriage is teetering, Alafair investigates as a second homicide occurs.

The latest Alafair Tucker amateur sleuth (see Crying Blood) is an enjoyable historical mystery with a strong emphasis on social issues like racism, immigration and family ties that resonate today. Readers will appreciate the whodunit, but it is Arizona circa 1916 that makes for a strong Americana.

Harriet Klausner

A Christmas Garland-Anne Perry

A Christmas Garland

Anne Perry

Ballantine, Oct 30 2012, $18.00

ISBN: 9780345530745

In 1857, as a rebellion sweeps across India, Colonel Latimer assigns newcomer Lieutenant Victor Narraway with an unpleasant assignment. He is to defend British medical orderly Corporal John Tallis for abetting the escape of a Sikh prisoner Dhuleep Singh that led to the murder of a guard Cutter Singh and other deaths. With the recent Siege of Cawnpore on everyone’s mind and the deaths of comrades, the garrison occupants demand execution immediately.

Narraway assumes his defense of Tallis is a meaningless check the box formality as he expects his “client” to hang. However, Narraway realizes there is no physical proof or an eyewitness tying Tallis to the murders. In fact the evidence is indirect as he is the only soldier who apparently has no alibi. Though his comrades warn him to do nothing, Narroway, encouraged by a widow and her children, investigates what really happened.

The latest annual Perry Christmas treat (see A Christmas Homecoming, A Christmas Odyssey, A Christmas Promise, A Christmas Grace, and A Christmas Beginning) is a terrific Victorian era legal thriller. The background of a rebellious India enhances the tale as the protagonist begins to believe his client is innocent while almost everyone else demands a scapegoat. However, believing in the innocence is not the same as proving it as Narraway learns; yet he finds hope to have a Happy Christmas if he can prevent a travesty of justice.

Harriet Klausner

Edge of Black-J.T. Ellison

Edge of Black

J.T. Ellison

Mira, Nov 13 2012, $14.95

ISBN: 9780778313724

Following the tragic deaths of her husband and children a couple of years ago (see A Deeper Darkness), former medical examiner Dr. Samantha Owens finally left Nashville to teach forensic pathology in the fall at Georgetown. She even has a boyfriend veteran Xander Whitfield. Currently she teaches a summer class at GW when a student Brooke Wasserstom becomes very ill. With the help of students, she takes Brooke over to campus ER where Sam finds other patients with the same condition.

Wearing her M.E. cap as a consultant, Sam learns the common thread of all those ill is riding the Metro. Meanwhile three die from the unknown pathogen while the media and Homeland Security causes panic across the nation. As Sam works the case, she realizes the predator is not a terrorist, but instead a psychopath with a personal lethal agenda.

The second Samantha Owen forensic thriller is a great tale that grips the audience starting with the collapse of Brooke and never stops until the final confrontation. Fast-paced with insight into forensics theory like Locard’s Exchange Principle interwoven into the exciting storyline, fans will relish this great entry as Sam proves she is the equal of Taylor Jackson (see Where All The Dead Lie) when it comes to strong nail-biting suspense.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, October 25, 2012

A Drop of Chinese Blood-James Church

A Drop of Chinese Blood

James Church

Minotaur, Nov 13 2012, $24.99

ISBN: 9780312550639

Near the North Koran and Russian borders, Ministry of State Security chief of the Yanji Sector/Special Bureau (YS/SB) Major Bing is a legend back in Beijing headquarters as he has remained in charge for seven years when the betting line had been under a year. He knows his career is over as his success in the desolate region means he can never leave. Currently he lives with his highly regarded uncle Inspector O (see The Man with the Baltic Stare) though their relationship is an odd respectful and affectionate discord.

Beautiful Fang Mei-lin arrives at their home seeking the assistance of Inspector O. Almost immediately after she left their home, she crosses the Tumen River into North Korea. Her pleading and subsequent vanishing force a hesitant Bing, accompanied by his even more reluctant uncle, to travel to North Korea in search of a missing Chinese official.

This is a terrific Inspector O spin off series that has the brilliant sleuth working with his nephew as the pair head into the older relative’s homeland. The storyline is fast-paced with a fabulous dangerous inquiry enhanced by an exorbitant sense of deep rooted paranoia that permeates everyone in the region as even the Intel crowd know the criticality of adhering to Sergeant Shultz’s (Hogan's Heroes) survival philosophy: “I see NOTHING! I know NOTHING!”

Harriet Klausner

Deadly Deception-Marie Romero Cash

Deadly Deception

Marie Romero Cash

Camel, Nov 15 2012, $12.95

ISBN: 9781603818933

In 2001 in Santa Fe, a person screams at State Policeman Don Ilford for failing to hit the tree with his car correctly. The individual fixes the scene so that investigators believe that Don’s wife Rose died in a car accident. Ilford’s neighbor paramedic Roger Streeter arrives at the accident and notices anomalies, but is ignored. Afterward, he wonders why Don told him his wife had leukemia while she denied it and why he exaggerates his injuries. State Police Captain Jeff Whitney accepts Don’s story that he was rushing his wife to the hospital when he lost control and crashed though there is no skid marks.

In 2008, the police commissioner, under pressure from Rose’s influential family, orders Whitney to reopen the investigation, he does nothing. One year later, forensic psychologist Jemimah Hodge is assigned to look into the cold case. She asks Santa Fe County Sheriff Department Detective Rick Romero, head of the Cerillos satellite office, for help; explaining that Whitney is uncooperative. He agrees though he knows working with her will be difficult as he is attracted to her though she keeps him at a distance. He is unaware of the trauma of her Mormon roots. Whitney warns Rick to drop the inquiry, which he refuses even when someone tries to kill him and Jemimah.

The second Jemimah Hodge Santa Fe police procedural (see Shadows among the Ruins) is a superb investigative thriller that combines a strong mystery in spite of knowing the accident was murder and solid personal relationship issues (her Mormonism and his ex-con brother). Though the Fed Sandra Gorman feels forced into the plot, readers will appreciate this entertaining whodunit wondering who lectures Ilford at his wife’s death scene.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Trapped-April Christofferson


April Christofferson

Tor, Oct 30 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780765364753

Backcountry ranger Will McCarroll protects the wildlife of Yellowstone National Park from poachers, hunters and trappers. He arrives at the Pebble Creek campsite where a drunk killed his friend. Irate, Will takes away the guns from everyone at the campsite. Superintendent Gonzales wants to fire Will for breaking rules as Congress passed a law allowing the carrying of weapons into the national parks, but recognizes Will is a hero who will soon testify in front of Congress. Instead he exiles Will to Glacier National Park,

Leaving behind his girlfriend Yellowstone Magistrate Judge Annie Peacock, Will travels to Glacier, where he meets angry wolverine biologist Johnny Yellow Kidney; someone stole an olfactory concoction he created to trap animals. Meanwhile illegal trappers continue their self-proclaimed Constitution given right while political connected radio talk show personality and former governor Faith Unsword sponsors a predator derby. At the same time, the American Rifle Foundation sets a trap to kill Will before he testifies in Congress on the impact of weapons in the parks.

No one will doubt what side of the rifles in the park issue April Christofferson is on with this exciting vivid thriller. Action-packed, fans will relish traveling the wild alongside of obstinate Will (see Alpha Female) as we appreciate the beauty of Montana's "Crown of the Continent". Additionally, a great realistic coda of how politicians think happens with the placement of running the Department of the Interior someone who believes in unfettered hunting and trapping; ironically the agency’s mission statement is “Protecting America’s Great Outdoors and Powering Our Future. The U.S. Department of the Interior protects America’s natural resources and heritage, honors our cultures and tribal communities, and supplies the energy to power our future.”

Harriet Klausner

Highball Exit-Phyllis Smallman

Highball Exit

Phyllis Smallman

TouchWood Editions, Oct 30 2012, $18.95

ISBN: 9781927129791

In Jacaranda, Florida thirtyish Sherri Travis worries that the bank will foreclose her Sunset Bar and Grill as she is three months behind on her mortgage. She cannot turn to her lover Clay who has lost his fortune when the housing market imploded.

Aunt Kay tells Sherri that childhood friend Holly Mitchell committed suicide and that another buddy from the old days, police officer Danny Raines found the body but failed to identify the corpse as Hilly. She offers Sherri three months of mortgage payment if the bartender finds out what happened to Holly’s baby Angel. Sherri had no idea that Holly had a child through Aunt Kay insists she met the baby. The bartender puts down the Jack Daniels visiting Raines who had an affair with Holly that he does not want his superiors to know abour. She also learns Holly was an escort at Angel Escort Service. With Aunt Kat as her sidekick, Sherri investigates what happened to Holly in order to track down a baby no one except Aunt Kay knew exists.

The latest Sherri Travis amateur sleuth (see Margarita Nights, Sex in a Sidecar, Brewski for the Old Man and Champagne for Buzzards) is an engaging whodunit in which the heroine begins to wonder whether saving her bar is worth the investigation into an infant who might not exist. Aunt Kay’s antics add fun to the tale while the relationship with Clay seems shaky since he is on the road with his ex with him. Fans will enjoy downing a fifth while touring the West Florida beaches with Travis as our guide.

Harriet Klausner

Hook and Shoot-Jeremy Brown

Hook and Shoot

Jeremy Brown

Medallion, Oct 5 2012, $14.95

ISBN: 9781605425214

Aaron "Woodshed" Wallace expects to receive a contract offer from Warrior Incorporated President Banzai Eddie Takanori, but in spite of his recent fight inside the cage in Burbank (see Suckerpunch), none has occurred. Woodshed and his trainer Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt Gil Hobbes are frustrated as his performance warrants a contract as Eddie refuses to speak with the fighter.

Seemingly out of the blue, Eddie arrives at the gym to talk with Woodshed. He tells the warrior that he will receive a special contract that includes his bodyguard protecting him from the ruthless Japanese Yakuza mob who wants his flesh due to the results of Woodshed’s last combat. Additionally he will go into the ring against a deadly Asian champion Zombi, no one stateside heard of.

Round two continues the super action-packed noir starring a charismatic MMA fighter with anger management issues and a strong retinue in his corner. Woodshed is a fascinating warrior as he spends two weeks inside of a metaphysical cage trying to survive Eddie’s latest lethal tricks. Readers will root for Woodshed against Zombi, the Japanese mob and his worst adversary his promoter.

Harriet Klausner