Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Twelfth Insight: The Hour of Decision-James Redfield

The Twelfth Insight: The Hour of Decision

James Redfield

Grand Central, Feb 9 2012, $14.99

ISBN: 9780446575942

Now in the final countdown year, on December 21, 2012, the Mayan calendar predicts the world as we know it will end. Wil and his best friend receive an odd segment of an ancient manuscript; other fragments are also being released around the globe to chosen ones who have displayed a potential enlightened soul. Wil and his buddy know they need the rest of the document to understand how to use the mind and spirit to achieve universal contentment and harmony though deployment of the twelve integrations. As the enlightened 144,000 converge in the spirit of synchronicity and integrity to reach the plateau of world unity theyt must contend with powerful political and religious leaders; fanatics who prefer the status quo as well as preventing a nuclear terrorist attack.

The fourth Celestine spiritual thriller (see The Celestine Prophecy, The Secret of Shambhala and In Search of the Eleventh Insight) is a fascinating uplifting tale. When the focus is on the integrations, readers learn the steps that James Redfield recommends while the protagonists and other chosen struggle with world leaders who oppose any downgrading of their status. When the storyline turns to the terrorists it loses some momentum as this feels forced. Still fans will enjoy Mr. Redfield’s enlightenment re the Mayan doomsday prophecy.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, January 30, 2012

Upgunned-David J. Schow


David J. Schow

Dunne, Feb 14 2012, $26.99

ISBN: 9780312571375

Elias McCabe had sex with his best friend Clavius’ ex-wife Nasja and took pictures of her naked when a man holding a very formidable looking gun enters the photographer’s loft. Elias considers that Clavius might be annoyed for his banging his mentor’s former spouse, but soon realizes otherwise. Gun Guy escorts Elias at gunpoint before taking him to meet his teammates Cognac and the Professor, and a dead Dominic Sharps who made the news whenever LAPD was involved. The photographer’s assignment is to take shots of Sharps seemingly having sex and afterward Elias will leave with ten grand. However, if he opens his mouth Gun Guy will reuse Sharps’ body bag.

During the shooting, Elias video records the event without Gun Guy knowing what he did. When Elias finds out what Gun Guy has used the shoot for, he places his video version of the encounter on the Internet where it goes viral and destroys the blackmail scheme. Raging Gun Guy begins killing those who were involved while seeking Elias, who hides on a New York movie set. Elias knows flight is impossible from this ruthless maniac so he must fight but a shoot to him is a photo gig not a gun gig.

This is a super satirical noir starring an antihero who is comfortable with shooting porn but not shooting guns. His adversary Gun Guy is terrific as a violent stranger who gets mad and even. With a biting mocking of fictional violence and an even more acerbic masticating of the American obsessive quest for the perfect look at any cost, fans will anticipate the High Noon encounter between the porn photographer and the Gun Guy.

Harriet Klausner

The Preacher-Camilla Lackberg

The Preacher

Camilla Lackberg

Free Press/Simon and Schuster, Feb 7 2012, $15.00

ISBN: 9781451621778

In Fjallbacka, Sweden, police detective Patrik Hedstrom is on vacation spending time with his eight months pregnant mate Erica when the call comes from Superintendent Mellberg. A six-years old boy exploring the mouth of the King’s Cleft discovered the corpse of a naked lady. Patrik arrives in time to get his boss away from contaminating the crime scene. When Forensics lifts the body, they find the skeletal remains of two more victims. Mellberg asks Patrik to lead the investigation as his other detectives, Martin lacks experience and Ernst lacks imagination; Martin resents not getting a chance to lead and Erne rages over the Kid getting another case.

Patrik believes the older skeletons are female teens, Siv Lantin and Mona Thernblad, who vanished in 1979. The autopsies affirm that each victim was tortured in a deliberate simmering manner until death provided relief. The latest deceased is identified as German Tanja Schmidt. Time becomes precious when a young girl vanishes without a trace while evidence points to the Hult family.

The keys to this strong Swedish police procedural (see The Ice Princess) are the profound look inside the souls of the key players to learn what motivates each them; including negative incentives and the discerning glimpse into group dynamics when time is running out. Using flashbacks to 1979 to tell the tale of the Hult evangelical healers who are involved in the present day investigation enhances the overall tension. Although Erica’s sister Anna’s domestic problems with her ex add to the look at what moves people, this subplot takes away from an otherwise taut Swedish whodunit.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Protector-Catherine Mann


Catherine Mann

Berkley, Mar 6 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780425246993

Ever since her uncle was murdered in front of her eyes as a child almost two decades ago, Jolynn Taylor stays away from her father’s mob world. However, when her dad Josiah suffers a heart attack, Jolynn goes to spend some time with him on his “home” a cruise ship the Fortuna currently docked in Genoa.

In Nellis AFB, although it rips at his soul, Captain Chuck Tanaka informs his superior officer Colonel Scanlon that he lost his edge since the enemy tortured him. Scanlon says instead of a desk job until his Air Force commitment ends, Chuck will go undercover as a blackjack dealer on the Fortuna with the chance to destroy the terrorist cell that kidnapped him and other military members. Scanlon and “Ice” Berg have his back. His assignment is to get close to the daughter. After a klutzy introduction, Chuck realizes someone wants Jolynn dead. Attracted to her, Chuck breaks cover to protect her.

The latest Dark Ops romantic suspense is a terrific thriller in which the need to protect the damsel in distress supersedes the romances (Scanlon meets his woman too). The storyline is fast-paced from the first clumsy move until the final confrontation. This is another winner with readers anticipating the melting of Ice soon.

Harriet Klasuner

Friday, January 27, 2012

Death of a Kitchen Diva-Lee Hollis

Death of a Kitchen Diva

Lee Hollis

Kensington, Mar 1 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780758267375

In Bar Harbor, Maine, Island Times Editor in Chief Sal Moretti offers his office manager single mom (of fifteen year old Gemma and thirteen years old Dustin) Hayley Powell the position of writing the food and wine column with the nonagenarian reporter retiring. She agrees and her column proves successful with its unpretentious Maine earthiness, which angers her rival at the Bar Harbor Herald prim and proper British aristocratic Karen Applebaum.

However, Karen is found dead with her face buried in a bowl of Hayley’s clam chowder. The police consider Hayley their only suspect and soon Officers Earl and Haley arrest her. She makes bail and with her BFFs investigates the Death of a Kitchen Diva.

This is an amusing culinary amateur sleuth starring a delightful beleaguered protagonist. The breezy storyline is fun to follow as the war of the recipes turns deadly. Although the sub-genre is loaded with similar entries (see Diane Mott Davidson), sub-genre fans will enjoy this entertaining regional whodunit as Haley seeks out a cold blooded killer whose recipe includes the soccer mom taking the fall.

Harriet Klausner

The Sound of a Scream-John Manning

The Sound of a Scream

John Manning

Pinnacle, Mar 6 2012, $7.99

ISBN 9780786027637

Orphan Daphne May has spent her life cloistered at Our Ladies School for Girls. Now at twenty-two years old, she leaves the convent where she met only one male in her life Father O’Donnell to ride the train to her first job as a governess in Point Woebegone, Maine. No one from Swallowtail meets her at the station, as promised. Instead a stranger takes her to a nearby inn.

Daphne is taken aback by a clown before she enters the ladies’ room to find a waitress with her throat slashed. The gruesome homicide has the townsfolk angry and anxious. Meanwhile Daphne struggles with the behavior of her eight years old charge Christopher whose grandfather was a serial killer wearing a clown costume. When the psychopath kills several more times, Daphne wonders whether somehow she was the spark that ignited a dormant serial killer.

The bloody storyline is an exciting thriller with an interesting late twist that ties the tale together. Daphne is a terrific damsel in distress whole local Gregory Winston tries to be her knight in shining armor. Although the plot is very typical of the suspense sub-genre even with a fascinating spin re the killer’s identity, fans will enjoy The Sound of a Scream in gothic aptly named Point Woebegone (no relationship to Garrison Keillor's Lake Wobegon).

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Head Race-R. Lee Nathans

Head Race

R. Lee Nathans

Hudson House Publishing, Sep 23 2011, $12.95


ISBN: 9781587761850

Medical director of the Doubestrover Township Community Health Center in New Jersey, single mom Dr. Audrey Epstein raises her twelve year old daughter Lainie and her away at a nearby college Josh alone ever since their dad Ben was murdered. She has problems at home with her tweener and at work with another state inspection and in the Newark Star Ledger where reporter A. J. Amoreaux accuses her staff of improprieties. On the bright side Bradford Lecoyne Eccleston IV gives her a large pink diamond as an engagement ring.

Craig Boseman believes the world owes him. He collects a check from the state due to a fake back injury, but that is not enough as he had to move back in with his disgusting mom. His cousin Dennis’s friend Bill Hartick tells Craig they can make a fortune robbing a clinic. Instead the trio abducts Audrey and a colleague Tim. When the local police chief investigates, the mayor tells him to stop wasting money as the pair of pain in butt missing persons are obviously decamped lovers. The media following the mayor’s lead drops the story while only Brad searches for his missing fiancée.

Bias disclosure: I was hooked with the mention of Jerome Avenue, spaldeen and sewers as my husband was all-neighborhood in stickball. This is a dark humorous satirical tour of New Jersey in which R. Lee Nathans mocks the media-big business-government complex that has Ike turning in his grave. The entertaining storyline is fast-paced though it rotates between several subplots starring an ensemble cast besides those above and the suspense comes late. Readers will appreciate Head Race as the audience will learn that avarice lowlifes come from all classes.

Harriet Klausner

Victims-Jonathan Kellerman


Jonathan Kellerman

Ballantine, Feb 28 2012, $28.00

ISBN: 9780345505712

In her apartment, the victim fifty-six years old Vita Berlin was mutilated with her guts placed like a precious necklace around her neck. The only clue to the horrific murder is a strange note with a question mark on it left inside a pizza box that adds eeriness to an already unnerving homicide. LAPD homicide detective Lieutenant Milo Sturgis leads the investigation. His friend and frequent police consultant psychiatrist Dr. Alex Delaware assists on the inquiry. Both men who have seen too much violence over the years are particularly shook up by this gruesome killing.

As they work the case, several additional similar murders occur. They find a link at the mothballed Ventura State Hospital; a place that at one time housed mentally troubled people with the worst head cases locked away in the Specialized Care Unit. Alex interviews psychiatrists who worked with the victims, but all hide behind a wall of privacy.

The latest Delaware-Sturgis police procedural is an entreating serial killer thriller as mildly mocking Miles is off his feed bag with this case. The storyline is fast-paced with a deep spotlight shining on when the mental health care system fails. Although the ending feels off kilter and Delaware has worked vicious serial killing cases with and without Sturgis (see The Butcher’s Theater), fans will enjoy the latest buddies’ whodunit as their usual quipping is subdued by the brutal homicides.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

If You Know Her-Shiloh Walker

If You Know Her

Shiloh Walker

Ballantine, Feb 29 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780345517555

Nia Hollister knows logically the law caught the killer Joe Carson who brutalized and killed her cousin Jolene six months ago in Ash, Kentucky. She saw his corpse, yet her instincts scream at her that something is not right. To obtain closure, she heads to Ash.

The only negative with her quest in her mind is in Ash is Law Reilly who she obsesses over as much as finding who killed Joely. Law reciprocates her attraction and goes up in her mind when he does not scorn her theory but actually supports her assertion. As Nia scrutinizes the police report and other related public documents, Law fears for her safety from an unknown enemy watching her. He will soon learn that sometime paranoia is justified when her room is haphazardly searched.

The final Ash romantic suspense is a great finish to a strong series. The overarching whodunit os brilliantly resolved while the romantic subplot takes a back seat to the increasingly dangerous investigation. Although it behooves the audience to read the previous novels in order (see If You See Her and If You Hear Her) as they build up and directly lead to this suspenseful climax, Shiloh Walker completes the fabulous Ash saga with another super entry.

Harriet Klausner

Run From Fear-Jami Alden

Run From Fear

Jami Alden

Forever, Feb 28 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780446572811

Two years ago in Seattle, former Green Beret Jack Brooks saved the life of Talia Vega from a serial killer. Talia was part of fifteen minutes of notorious fame and she still is unfairly trashed on the Net.

She relocated in the Bay area with her teenage sister Rosario. At the restaurant where Talia works, Jack enters, which brings back the bad times in her mind. He explains he is in town for a few weeks helping his boss at Gemini securities. When Jack meets Rosie’s friend Kevin, he warns the douche bag that these siblings have met enough creeps. However, Talia soon will be grateful for Jack’s return into her life as a psychopath decides to complete the Seattle nightmare.

The latest Jami Alden romantic suspense (see Beg For Mercy and Hide From Evil) is a pulse pumping taut thriller that grips readers from the first threat to the final confrontation. The lead couple is an interesting pairing as both have survived the baptism of fire. The support cast augments a terrific tense tale in which the romantic subplot is palatable but it is the viable threat from a madman that takes center stage.

Harriet Klausner

A Parliament of Spies-Cassandras Clark

A Parliament of Spies

Cassandras Clark

Minotaur, Jan 31 2012, $25.99

ISBN: 9780312595746

These are chaotic times in England under the unsteady rule of King Richard II and the viable threat of a French invasion. In these dangerous times, Abbess Hildegard prefers to rusticate in prayer.

However, though she insists she has no skills, York Archbishop Alexander Neville orders the nun to come with him to the Parliament meeting at Westminster in London, where she will be his spy; a role she is extremely uncomfortable with. Before they leave York, Neville assigns her a short clock to investigate the murder of Martin his saucier drowned in a wine vat filled with water and barley. The road to London is filled with violence as Hildegard thinks no place not even near the monarch is safe in these dangerous divisive partisan times.

This is a great medieval historical thriller as murder, mayhem and politics converge in fourteenth century England. The storyline is fast-paced as a power struggle that makes Machiavelli seems like an amateur manipulator. Timely, readers will relish Cassandra Clark’s strong entertaining Abbess Hildegard tale (see The Law of Angels).

Harriet Klausner

Monday, January 23, 2012

Chasing Midnight-Randy Wayne White

Chasing Midnight

Randy Wayne White

Putnam, Mar 6 2012, $25.95

ISBN: 9780399158315

Marine biologist Doc Ford seems like a mild amiable person who enjoys studying sea life and providing fresh or preserved specimens to schools and labs nationwide from his Sanibel Island base. In his other life, Doc is a brutal agent working for the American government by cleaning up dire ugly situations.

He and his friend Tomlinson attend an eastern waters caviar productivity improvement conference hosted by vicious Russian black marketer Victor Kaslov on Vanderbilt Island. Attendees come from China, Iran and Turkmenia etc., but Doc diligently focuses on Kaslov in order to obtain some Intel. While Ford goes underwater to inspect the Russian’s yacht, six eco-terrorists crash the conference. Just after their assault, an explosion knocks out the electricity and jamming electronic communication on the island. The party crashers demands must be met or one hostage every hour will die until at the stroke of midnight, everyone still breathing will die in an explosion. Doc realizes how precarious the situation is; his goal is simple to get his friends and himself off island, but the execution is impossible as this group acts more like the Russian’s deadliest “capitalist” rivals than environmental extremists.

This is an exhilarating Doc Ford thriller as the meek marine biologist and the ruthless agent makes him seem like a sea version of Clark Kent-Superman. Tomlinson is his usual Zen-self driving Doc crazy, but who though not brave turns competently hyper with ideas when facing danger. He actually is the one who provides the twists to another fabulous Doc Ford tale as he battles to keep alive his friends from cut throat competitors with no business ethics.

Harriet Klausner

Question of Trust-Laura Caldwell

Question of Trust

Laura Caldwell

Mira, Feb 20 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780778313212

In Chicago, Bristol & Associates criminal attorney Izzy McNeil and her boyfriend Theo Jameson move into her place together until his new house is ready once his mortgage is approved. However, soon after he arrives at her home, someone breaks into her abode.

Not long afterward, the Feds arrest Theo charging him with fraud at his firm HeadFirst software he co-owns with Eric. While Izzy defends the Cortadero Mexican drug cartel family, her boss Maggie Bristol represents Theo. As Izzy wonders about Theo’s anomalies like his mortgage request being rejected and his inability to put up the $50,000 bail money when his firm has made a fortune, Cortadero stunningly demands her firm stop their defense of her boyfriend.

The latest magnificent McNeil legal thriller (see Red Blood Murder and Claim of Innocence) has a loose sense of déjà vu that the beleaguered heroine notices (see Red Hot Lies). With her father back in her life after years of not being there for her, last year's Sam fiasco (see Red Hot Lies), and now the Theo incident; Izzy wonders whom do you trust when you cannot trust a loved one. This is a terrific twisting tale.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Kill Shot-Vince Flynn

Kill Shot

Vince Flynn

Emily Bester Books/Atria, Feb 7 2012, $27.99

ISBN: 9781416595205

One year ago Mitch Rapp completed the CIA special ant-terrorism training. With the support of his now handler Irene Kennedy he is a lone wolf who has left a trail of corpses around the globe. The blood does not disturb him as he believes devoutly these killers deserve retribution as you live and die by the bullet. The Lockerbie mass murder still motivates him into the revenging grim reaper he has become as killing these monsters proves therapeutic.

His current assignment is to assassinate a Libyan in Paris, which he does. Before Rapp can leave, Samir Fadi and cohorts burst into the room with machine gun firing to kill the solo ghost who stalks them. Rapp takes a bullet but escapes. Samir is shocked that the enemy got away and his brother died in the assault. The French gendarme finds nine corpses in that room while the CIA denies any responsibility for the deadly incident.

Unlike his agency’s leaders depending on heavenly intervention, Rapp’s former trainer Stan Hurley knows a liability must be eliminated before the local authorities capture him. However, Rapp refuses to die or be caught while a betrayal high inside the agency leaves him hanging alone.

Bloodily over the top of the Eifel Tower, the direct sequel to American Assassin continues Rapp’s early years with the CIA in another action packed thriller that takes off explosively in Paris and never slows down until the final bullets are fired. The hunter becomes hunted by an avenging Muslim and his former teacher, but it is the betrayal that leaves Rapp in peril. With the next tale seemingly set up by the betrayal, fans will enjoy Vince Flynn’s latest super suspenseful Rapp entry.

Harriet Klausner

Deader Homes & Gardens-Joan Hess

Deader Homes & Gardens

Joan Hess

Minotaur, Feb 14 2012, $24.99

ISBN: 9780312363628

Bookseller Claire Malloy and police lieutenant Peter Rosen return home to Farberville, Arkansas after spending their odd honeymoon in Luxor, Egypt (see Mummy Dearest). However, first order of business is finding a place to live as the married couple and her teenage daughter Caron need more space.

After a week of failure hunting for a house without Peter who is busy working but with Caron, Claire finds the perfect home in Hollow Valley. She goes to close the deal with realtor Angela Delmond, who drove her to this house, but following a phone call the woman vanished; stranding Claire. A second shock occurs when Claire goes inside to get her purse and sees octogenarian Moses Hollow drinking Bordeaux. Nattie Hollow-Brown soon arrives and takes Angela to a nearby tavern for her to make a call. Later, Angela cannot find the realtor whose office hides something seemingly sinister and she learns the owner Winston died under mysterious circumstances; his lover Terry of Key West says the house is not for sale. When Terry dies, Claire knows she must catch a killer if the house is to belong to her and her family.

The latest Malloy amateur sleuth (see Closely Akin to Murder) tale is a zany regional whodunit as one learns that even with a recession realty is a killer market. Deader Homes & Gardens is fast-paced with a breezy amusing tongue in cheek undertone starting with the jocular opening refrain of “… my kingdom for a house.” Fans of the series will wonder what next will happen to anyone associated with the house not for sale in Hollow Valley.

Harriet Klausner

Stay Close-Harlan Coben

Stay Close

Harlan Coben

Dutton, Mar 20 2012, $27.95

ISBN: 9780525952275

Ray Levine was once a highly regarded photographer until the incident that shattered his life occurred almost two decades ago. Fortyish, he now is a despondent sham paparazzo posing as such for his celebrity craving clients.

Megan Pierce has come a long way from the incident that changed her seventeen years ago when she buried that wild life in a shallow ditch. Now she is a bored suburban soccer mom with a teenage daughter Kaylie and a younger son Jordon; her spouse is nice Dave whom has no idea who the woman he has slept with for the past sixteen years really is; including her real name Maygin.

Police Detective Jack Broome remains haunted by the cold case he failed to solve though he knows his torment comes from watching what has happened to the missing’s person wife and children as their house is an untouched tomb. The spouse Sarah Green still leaves her husband Stewart’s slippers out for him while their kids Susie has been arrested for DUI twice and Brandon was busted for possession. Jack investigates the disappearance of Carlton Flynn and has found other similar husbands-fathers vanishing without a trace. Three people tied together with what happened to Stewart seventeen years ago will learn whether the truth sets them free.

With Bolitar taking a well-deserved time-out, Harlan Coben provides a superb stand-alone thriller. The key is the ensemble cast connected by the incident in which none of them is able to move on passed what happened though they disguise their trauma with seemingly “normal” behavior. Action-packed hooking appreciative fans, this is a taut suspense as the past has returned to shake up the lives of three people going through the motions of living.

Harriet Klausner

Shatter-Michael Robotham


Michael Robotham

Mulholland/Little Brown, Jan 26 2012, $14.99

ISBN: 9780316187428

Clinical psychologist Dr. Joe O'Loughlin teaches part-time behavioral psychology at the University of Bath. He lives with his beloved family in Somerset. His wife of two decades Julianne is a successful executive while both adore their daughters, twelve years old Charlie and three years old Emma. The only bight to their idyllic life is Joe's deteriorating health due to Parkinson's disease diagnosed four years ago.

The cops come to the campus to get Dr. Bruno Kaufman to talk down a potential jumper on the Clifton Suspension Bridge. Bruno sends his friend Joe to the scene. A middle aged naked female ignores everyone around her including Joe as she frantically talks on a mobile before leaping; her last worlds to Joe was he would not understand. Student Darcy Wheeler arrives at Joe’s home insisting her mom Christine would never commit suicide. Joe begins to realize the psychological pattern of a leaper does not fit Christine. When a similar suicide occurs, police Detective Inspector Veronica Cray leads the investigation. Joe and his friend retired Detective Inspector Vincent Ruiz join the inquiry.

Shatter is an exciting psychological thriller as a master of mind manipulation successfully breaks the will of single confident females. The latest O’Loughlin thriller (see Suspect and The Night Ferry) is fast-paced with a cat and mouse contest between the psychologist whose wife wants him off the dangerous case and the villain a virtuoso playing with emotions. As readers learn why, Michael Robotham keeps the suspense tropospheric in anticipation of a showdown between the protagonist and the antagonist.

Harriet Klausner

Fall from Grace-Richard North Patterson

Fall from Grace

Richard North Patterson

Scribner, Mar 20 2012, $26.00

ISBN 9781451617054

On Martha’s Vineyard, internationally famous writer Benjamin Blaine is found dead at the bottom of a cliff overlooking the sea. Ben’s estranged son Adam returns home for the first time in a decade to attend his dad’s funeral. Others expected at the burial are the deceased’s widow Clarice, their other son gay Teddy, his mistress movie star Carla Pacelli and Ben former girlfriend Jenny Leigh.

Ben thinks someone pushed his larger than life father off the edge. He knows the revised will is a powerful motive for those who gained wealth and for those who lost wealth. Carla receives $10 million; Jenny gets $1 million; Adam inherits $100,000; and Clarice and Teddy were left out of the new will with each obtaining nothing. Using what he learned as an agricultural envoy in Afghanistan, Ben investigates.

This is a great thriller filled with stunning but plausible twists as Ben’s training and experience in duplicity comes in handy when dealing with the extended Blaine clan. As the protagonist uncovers secrets he wished he never knew, readers will relish his exhilarating investigation. Fall from Grace will be on most short lists for mystery of the year.

Harriet Klausner

Force of Nature-C.J. Box

Force of Nature

C.J. Box

Putnam, Mar 20 2012, $25.95

ISBN: 9780399158261

In the Saddlestring, Wyoming area Joe Pickett and Nate Romanowski are friends though the former knows the latter has concealed something from him. In 1991, Nate was assigned to a Special Forces unit when the “Five” led by Lieutenant John Nemecek did something terrible. He walked away, but knew one day they would come for him. That day of reckoning arrives when a gutted Large Merle tells Nate in his last breath: “The Five. They’ve deployed.”

Nate understands no one stands in the way of Nemecek’s rising political career especially those who witnessed the atrocity. He knows the tactic Nemecek uses to kills those on that infamous patrol. His goons will get at him but won’t go directly; instead they terrorize friends and family. The Five will assault the Pickett family. Upset for what has come to his friends and concluding there is Nowhere to Run, Nate believes that the only way to defeat the enemy is outside the law, but doubts his game warden friend can walk the crooked path. Joe has his friend’s back though he prefers not going “rogue” but a High Noon confrontation with Nemecek’s minion is imminent and he must choose between life and the law.

With a nod to the movie Red, bestselling author C.J. Box has written a fresh fantastic Pickett thriller (see Cold Wind) as fans of the series finally learn what recurring support character Nate has hidden though numerous books. The villain has a powerful network in Wyoming and Idaho that informs him who is where and identifying their loved ones so he can arrange their deaths. It is Nate’s turn through the Pickett clan is a Force of Nature that is not to be trifled with. Each book in the series is better than the one before.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Inquisitor-Mark Allen Smith

The Inquisitor

Mark Allen Smith

Holt, Mar 13 2012, $27.00

ISBN: 9780805094268

Manhattan-based Geiger “the Inquisitor” is an expert in breaking down people to obtain the truth as he has an innate lie detector that warns him when a person is not telling the truth. He mostly uses mental attacks to insure fear supersedes all other emotions; while he rarely deploys direct physical assaults as Geiger understands the target will lie to end the pain. Nobody is a better "information retrieval" guru than Geiger is.

Client Richard Hall hires Geiger and his partner Harry Boddicker to obtain information from Matheson who stole a valuable Willem de Kooning masterpiece from a private collector. Hall fails to arrive with the thief, but instead has Matheson’s twelve year old son Ezra for the Inquisitor to learn whether the lad’s father hides. Irate as he does not deal with children, he beats up Hall and accompanied by Boddicker takes the tweener to a safe-house. Hall and his gang pursue them as Geiger wonders why the kid is important.

With a nod to Jeff Lindsay’s Dexter, Geiger is perhaps the most refreshing character of the year as his matter of fact treatise on torture will stun, horrify and fascinate readers. The storyline is action-paced from the first torture to the last as the amoral antihero shows he has a conscience when it comes to protecting kids; yet he also makes the euphemistic titled "enhanced interrogation" techniques of the Bush crowd look like amateurs. With a strong shocking climatic spin, fans will enjoy the exhilarating "information retrieval" thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, January 20, 2012

Power of the Raven-Aimee Thurlo

Power of the Raven

Aimee Thurlo

Harlequin Intrigue, Feb 7 2012, $5.25

ISBN: 9780373696000

Two months have passed since their Navaho foster father Hosteen Silver died. His “children” Gene Redhouse, Daniel Hawk and Paul Greyhorse miss their “uncle” who taught them to cherish life, but believe the medicine man still watches them to insure they respect themselves and others.

After a grueling day in Hartley filing documents as Hosteen’s executor, Gen heads home to his ranch when a frantic woman leaps in front of his truck; he barely misses hitting her. They met earlier at the DMV as he completed some of his late foster father’s estate documents there. Lori Baker claims jewelry designer Bud Harrington refuses to accept her rejection of him and stalks her. She also explains she has talked to the police about this sleaze but he accused her of stalking him. Gene and Lori are attracted to each other, but he saw her stalker run from him though he cannot testify that the predator is Bud. With his foster brothers having their back, Gene knows he must earn the trust of the wary woman by keeping her safe before he takes her to his special spot in Copper Canyon.

The second Copper Canyon Navaho romantic suspense is a terrific tale as two individuals from different cultures fall in love while he protects her as a woman in peril. Aimee Thurlo provides a deep focus on the difficulty victims and law enforcement face dealing with a stalker. There is a second subplot involving a DMV employee that enhances the entertaining storyline. However as in Daniel’s entry (see Winter Hawk's Legend), the Power of the Raven is the Navaho elements like the hero’s ability to communicate with animals and the foster siblings’ bond.

Harriet Klausner

So Pretty It Hurts-Kate White

So Pretty It Hurts

Kate White

Harper, Mar 20 2012, $24.99

ISBN: 9780061576607

Best friends Bailey Weggins and Jessie Pendergrass work for Buzz, a gossip magazine known for its sensationalist disregard of the facts. Jessie invites Bailey to accompany her for the weekend at the home of record producer Saul Cohen. Upset with her boyfriend Beau Reagan for being out of town on business, Baily agrees. Among the celebrities attending the weekend bash is supermodel Devon Barrwho after eighteen years on the catwalk knows her career is over; she wants to become a recording artist and will do whatever it takes to sell herself to Saul.

Demanding diva Devon makes a terrible impression on the Buzz reporters with her queen of mean demeanor expecting everyone to kowtow to her wishes. She also has the nerve to invite her former boyfriend Tommy and his current girlfriend to the party as flaunting Devon wants him back. Bailey finds Devon weeping. The model says she must leave as it is unsafe for her to remain at Cohen’s house. Later she is found dead in her bed. The police believe she died from using Ipecac, a drug used to control eating disorders like anorexia. However, Bailey remembers how frightened the woman was and believes a homicide occurred. Her journalist instincts kick in as she investigates the diva’s death while someone tries to get Buzz to fire her.

The latest Bailey Weggins investigation (see Lethally Blond) is an entertaining locked country house whodunit (snowstorms come in handy). Fans will find it difficult to put down the exciting So Pretty It Hurts as we try to identify who the culprit is amidst a house filled with suspects; of whom most detested the deceased. The characters feel so realistic that the audiences will want to find out what the group members have against Devon. The Bailey Weggins series is one of the most entertaining and realistic series on the market today.

Harriet Klausner

The Hope Vendetta-Scott Mariani

The Hope Vendetta

Scott Mariani

Touchstone, Mar 6 2012, $25.00

ISBN 9781439193471

Former SAS operative Be Hope considers his response to the question: “To be or not to be.” He decides to delay his exit strategy by attending Oxford to study theology, a field he dropped years ago when he became a covert agent.

Professor Tom Bradbury asks Ben to find his missing twentyish archeologist daughter, Zoe. Ben refuses as he no longer is in that line of work. He arranges SAS comrade Charlie Palmer to investigate the missing person’s case. From Corfu, Charlie contacts Ben that he is in trouble and needs help. Ben arrives on the Greek island. He soon learns Zoe found an artifact tied to Revelation, which leads him to Savannah and televangelist Clayton Cleaver, who insists John the Apostle told him he End Times is upon us.

The latest Hope Vendetta (see The Mozart Conspiracy) is an exhilarating over the top of Mount Pantokrator thriller. The storyline contains an intriguing underlying theme of true believers and cynical leaders making strange common cause bedfellows with each wanting to ignite the End Times for diverse reasons. Fans will enjoy Hope’s odyssey to save millions as he leaves behind a high body count.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Fever-Joan Swan


Joan Swan

Kensington Brava, Feb 28 2012, $14.00

ISBN 9780758266385

St. Jude Hospital provides medical services to five California prisons including San Quentin. Currently, Doctors Alyssa Foster and Greg Dyne compete for the radiologist vacancy. Alyssa is escorted to San Quentin where she is attending to convicted murderer thirtyish Teague Creek who complains about pain. She dislikes his racist tattoos like the Swastika, but finds herself wanting him though concerned with the heat of his body. After finishing her examination, Creek places his loose hand chain around Foster’s throat. Using her as his shield, he escapes from the prison with his subordinate Taz helping them hide in the Bay area though the latter wants the doctor dead.

Creek thinks Foster is Hannah who slept with his former best friend now his enemy; the man in control of his daughter Kat. At the same time DARPA sends Jason Vasser to kill Teague. Creek makes it appear that Foster is his partner not his hostage as he works to regain custody of his Kat. As his plans seem to constantly fail, the convict and the physician feel the Fever heat of love.

This is an exciting action-packed thriller with fantasy elements that starts with the hostage escape and never slows down until the final confrontation. The changing relationship between the lead couple is nicely developed so that it seems real overcoming improbability even considering the Stockholm syndrome. However, Senator Schaffer and DARPA’s need to kill Creek never quite gels though compassion has a life time warranty in prison, but a death sentence outside. Still fans will enjoy Joan Swan’s tense romantic suspense.

Harriet Klausner

Collision of Lies-John J. Le Beau

Collision of Lies

John J. Le Beau

Oceanview, Mar 5 2012, $25.95

ISBN 9781608090457

In Austria, radical right-wing politician Georg Forster leads his Nationalist Defense Front Party from nowhere to a prominent influential role in in the new coalition government. His meteoric rise ends in a car crash near Garmisch, Bavaria. German Kommissar Franz Waldbaer happens to be at the scene of the brutal Mercedes accident.

Anton Hester replaces the late Forster as the head of the NDF. He claims the NDF possesses proof that his successor’s death was not an accident, but was an assassination by Israeli operatives. Waldbaer is assigned the police investigation while CIA operative Robert Hirter works the same case from the Intel perspective. Having teamed up on the inquiry into the death of the American’s brother in Bavaria (see Collision of Evil), the agent and the cop unite again unaware a shipment is the center of what happened to the NDF leader and related deadly events.

This is an exciting action-packed thriller grips readers with the deaths at sea, in Bavaria and elsewhere that seem unrelated except that the bad guys will stop at nothing to insure their cargo reaches its destination. Although the villainous elements cohesively tie together extremely late; fans will enjoy the second teaming of the CIA operative and the Bavarian kommissar as they make a terrific pairing on international investigations.

Harriet Klausner

The Tenth Saint-D.J. Niko

The Tenth Saint

D.J. Niko

Medallion, Mar 1 2012, $14.95

ISBN 9781605422459

Cambridge University archeologist Sarah Weston leads a dig in Aksum, Ethiopia, the site of an ancient mountain kingdom. To her ire, her financial backers send famous American anthropologist Daniel Madigan to insure they get their value back in their investigation.

The pair locates a tomb with inscriptions in an unknown arcane language. Inside are the remains of a human. In the libraries of Ethiopian monasteries, the westerners find clues that the deceased is that of the Coptic Christian’s tenth saint who spread Christianity in this African nation and predicted the final days of planet earth. Their discovery leaves them in jeopardy from those who want the end of days’ prophecy to come true.

Putting aside plausibility of some rescue actions, fans will enjoy this exhilarating Brownian romantic suspense, which provides a fascinating look at the Coptic Christian Church (in the news of late in Egypt). The storyline is fast-paced and filled with funny but unlikely teasing while in near death scenarios. Fans will enjoy this engaging conspiracy based on the premise that extreme fundamentalists obsess with eliminating those who would interfere by reversing the steps of Revelations; as all that matters to these die hard fanatics is for the end of times to occur.

Harriet Klausner

Cake On A Hot Tin Roof-Jacklyn Brady

Cake On A Hot Tin Roof

Jacklyn Brady

Berkley, Feb 7 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780425246221

When her parents died, Aunt Yolanda and Uncle Nester took their niece Rita Lucero into their New Mexico home treating her as their loving daughter. After the pastry chef married Chef Phillipe Renier she moved to New Orleans where they started Zydeco Cakes. They separated for two years; their marriage ended when a killer murders Phillipe (see A Sheetcake Named Desire). Since her husband had no will, Rita is a wealthy widow; while her grieving mother-in-law Miss Frankie is elated that Rita will run Zydeco.

Preparing for Mardi Gras, the staff of Zydeco is working long hours with little sleep as they bake for the Krewe of Musterion party. Adding to her stress is the visits of her loving Uncle Nestor, accompanied by his wife; he pressures Rita to return to New Mexico; as he cannot accept a woman living without male protection. Rita takes her relatives to a gala, but Nestor and Big Daddy Boudreaux get into a public fight. Shortly afterward, Big Daddy is found dead. The victim’s widow accuses Nestor. Rita knows her uncle is not a killer and risks her life to prove her belief.

The second A Piece of Cake Mystery is a fast-paced delightful amateur sleuth tale starring a feisty independent pastry chef who cherishes the couple who took her into their home, but will not bow to her uncle’s wishes. Nestor believes women need the protection of a caring strong man. Ironically he needs the detecting skills of his caring strong niece. Even with the investigative action in the middle of the well written plot, Cake On A Hot Tin Roof is an interesting whodunit with the only lingering question being which classic Tennessee Williams’ play will follow.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Guilt: Stories-Ferdinand von Schirach; Carol Brown Janeway (translator)

Guilt: Stories

Ferdinand von Schirach; Carol Brown Janeway (translator)

Knopf, Jan 31 2012, $24.00

ISBN: 9780307599490

This is a strong German crime anthology that looks closely at justice especially legal failures as the fifteen excellent short entries focus on the meaning of guilt from several viewpoints. In “Funfair”, the band at a six century anniversary gala rapes a teenage girl, but the DNA evidence and subsequently the case is lost. Nina and Thomas called the subway home when they kill an old man who tried to molest her in “DNA”. The "Children" bare false witness against the man accused of abuse. The “Lonely” young teenage is raped by a family who left her naive, frightened and pregnant. Whether it is the manslaughter death of a teacher by student bullies in the “Illuminati” or a depressed bored housewife getting a rush of “Desire” by stealing nonentities, Ferdinand von Schirach provides a deep look at what guilt is and its impact on those within a degree or two of the selected guilty party. Readers will reconsider their definitions; as whether a person did the deed or not never matters when it comes to the altered psychological symbiotic partnership relationships as there is powerful cause and effect on the hurt party, the chosen one (guilty or not is irrelevant) and their two circles.

Harriet Klausner

Robert Ludlum's (TM) The Janson Command-Paul Garrison

Robert Ludlum's (TM) The Janson Command

Paul Garrison

Grand Central, Feb 14 2012, $27.99

ISBN: 9780446564502

Paul Janson was a covert assassin for the American government’s top secret Consular Operations. He saw the light when he became classified as the "beyond salvage" target of the government due to a failed mission in which he became the chosen one to take the fall of the screw-up of higher ups (see The Janson Directive). He survived the assassination attempts and opened up CatsPaw Associates security firm with Jessica Kincaid. Their firm’s vision is to accept scenarios that will make the world a better place. Janson also manages the Phoenix Foundation as his means for redemption; the mission is to rehabilitate black ops operatives discarded as worthless trash by their agency when their use is deemed over.

Doug Case lost his job at Consular Operations when he took a bullet that saved Janson’s life but left Doug paralyzed. He graduated from Phoenix and is security chief of Houston based American Synergy Corporation. Case hires Janson to rescue a company physician kidnapped by the Free Foree Movement who demands the Isle de Foree hated dictator “President for Life” Iboga leave. With Kinkaid having his back, they make it to the main rebel stronghold, but all hell breaks loose when they arrive

This is a great action-packed twisting thriller as Jason and Kincaid are stunned with the deployment of Reaper drones and Harrier jets as neither should be there. As the action goes international, readers will learn what Janson already knows from his assassin days that terrorist groups, rogue nations, and amoral covert agencies are less dangerous than internationally protected “job creating” ruthless unscrupulous corporations.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Nosferatu Scroll-James Becker

The Nosferatu Scroll

James Becker

Signet, Feb 7 2012, $9.99

ISBN: 9780451236197

In 1741 Bohemia, Father Bohdan Reznik performs the Last Rites to Princess Eleonora von Schwartzenberg. However these are not the normal Last Rites that the flock has seen. Instead, he has the coffin, which came from Vienna, opened so he can remove her head and sprinkle holy water on the rest of the body. The priest stoically completes the special Last Rites and insures no physical evidence remains that the princess ever existed.

In 2010 divorced couple, police detective Chris Bronson and Angela Lewis the museum conservator, vacation together in Vienna. They are at a tomb containing a badly interred corpse of a woman whose head was sliced off and her mouth containing a brick of sorts. Angela steals an eighteenth century journal written by apparently the victim that the British citizen found near the grave. The writings mention a scroll that the two visitors seek. Others observe and attack the cop and the conservator; while apparently a vampire cult kidnaps women including Angela.

The latest Bronson thriller (see The First Apostle, The Moses Stone and The Messiah Secret) once again deftly blends history with a modern day mystery. The fast-paced storyline focuses on vampires as the skeptical cop and the scientific conservator find themselves one bite away from joining that unmentionable beheaded Princess. Filled with action, a fantastic stunning late twist, and interwoven historical tidbits, fans will enjoy James Becker’s tour of Vienna as Along Comes Bronson hoping to rescue his former wife.

Harriet Klausner

A Fitting End-Melissa Bourbon

A Fitting End

Melissa Bourbon

Obsidian, Feb 7 21012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780451236142

In Bliss, Texas, former New York designer, dressmaker Harlow Jane Cassidy finds life ironic that she as a have-not is making the customized dresses for the “Margaret” haves. Her Buttons and Bows Boutique is booming with the Margaret crowd getting ready for the Margaret Moffette Lea Pageant and Ball. Harlow Jane’s confidence in her skills has recently soared stratospheric as she realizes she has the family magical touch bestowed on the descendants of that infamous nineteenth century Butch making a wish at an Argentinean fountain.

Sheriff Hoss McClaine and TV reporter Rebecca Quinones on the air question Harlow Jane over her relationship with the local golf pro Macon Vance; whom she denies knowing. Someone stabbed Vance with a dressmaking shears and hers has blood on it as she forgot to take her bag with her following a meeting with the wife of Senator James at the club. Deputy Sheriff Gavin McClaine, a chip off the old sheriff’s block, acts like she guilty; which deploys the other thing Butch Cassidy bestowed on his future generations; paranoia of law enforcement officials even with Hoss being Harlow Jane’s not so secret boyfriend. Ergo, Harlow Jane investigates as prison garb does not suit her.

The second Dressmaker’s paranormal Mystery (see Pleating For Mercy) is a fun family affair as generations of Butch Cassidy living and dead descendants from his Harlow and Place trees get involved in A Fitting End to the golf pro. Fans will enjoy Harlow Jane’s amateur sleuthing with advice from her late great-grandma and the Texas posse while also seeking two degrees of Robert Redford.

Harriet Klausner

One Book In The Grave-Kate Carlisle

One Book In The Grave

Kate Carlisle

Obsidian, Feb 7 21012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780451236128

San Francisco resident bookbinder and restorer Brooklyn Wainwright gave to Max Adams and his fiancée Emily a rare first edition of Beauty and the Beast; one month later Max died in a car accident and the book was stolen from Emily’s home. Three years later Covington Library head curator Ian McCullough asks Brooklyn to repair a rare first edition of Beauty and the Beast; she declines as she knows the book is the one she gave to Max.

Brooklyn visits the bookseller who Ian bought the classic from. She enters the bookstore only to find the proprietor Joe a murder victim. Tired of tripping over corpses, Brooklyn confesses her feelings to her friend Guru Bob, who confides in the bibliophile that Max faked his death to prevent an unknown assassin from killing him and Emily. He believes the killer is either Max’s former boss Solomon or his possessive ex-girlfriend. Brooklyn investigates with her boyfriend Derek Stone trying to protect her; only she is shot at, has the body of one of her suspects delivered to her house by courier and her friends kidnapped.

The latest Bibliophile mystery (see The Lies That Bind and Murder under Cover) is an engaging twisting roller coaster ride as Brooklyn’s detecting is fuelled by her tweener crush on Max and her love of rare books. Part of the excitement is Brooklyn’s reactions to the abductions of people connected to her for apparently no logical reason except somehow a cause and effect of her investigation. Fans will enjoy this amateur sleuth as an anonymous assassin plays hardball Sal “The Barber” Maglie’s pitching style, which shaves the batter even more than Chris Matthews does.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Town In A Wild Moose Chase-B.B. Haywood

Town In A Wild Moose Chase

B.B. Haywood

Berkley, Feb 7 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780425246177

In wintry Maine Solomon Hatch the hermit follows a rare white moose in an isolated woody area near his encampment when he finds a corpse with a hatchet in its back. Stunned with his grisly discovery, he wobbly heads to Cape Willington where Caper Crier Community Corresponded Candy Holliday notices him as he falls on the ice. He tells her he saw a white moose and a dead body. Candy goes for help, but Hatch returns to his recluse lifestyle.

At the same time, the townsfolk host the annual Winter Moose Fest. Besides food and a parade, part of the gala is the ice sculpture contest in Town Park. However someone, apparently willing to do anything to win the ice sculpture contest, is causing havoc in the park. As Candy covers the events, she wonders if the saboteur and the corpse are related while also seeking the white moose as reclusive as Hatch.

The third Candy Holliday investigative thriller (see Town In A Lobster Stew and Town In A Blueberry Jam) is a terrific tale due to the eccentric cast, the intrepid reporter and a clever villain in plain sight. Candy is dandy as she proves Ogden Nash wrong (see Reflections on Ice Breaking as “candy is dandy but liquor is quicker." With a great stunning final twist to complete a strong regional whodunit, fans will enjoy Town In A Wild Moose Chase.

Harriet Klausner

The Eden Prophecy-Graham Brown

The Eden Prophecy

Graham Brown

Bantam, Jan 31 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780345527806

At her office in the UN building, US Ambassador Claudia Gonzales receives a legal sized letter marked Diplomatic, Materials, Private and Confidential from the office of the Secretary General. She opens it and reads a horrifying threat that claims she is now carrying a virus that will rapidly spread; her fingers are stained making the final salutation gut her stomach: “Welcome to hell.”

While medical and anti-terrorist experts look into the unknown virus; in Paris, Dr. Ranga Milan feels alone amidst a crowd. He wonders how much further the once prestigious geneticist will fall. His fingerprints are on the envelope sent to Ambassador Gonzales. Desperate and frightened, Dr. Milan sends a plea for help to a friend and fellow exile, former CIA agent Hawker. Dropping everything Hawker goes to Paris where he finds NRI operative Danielle Laidlaw also seeking Milan. They find the scientist dead, a victim of torture. Hawker and Laidlaw team up to seek the person who viciously murdered Milan who most likely deployed the virus.

This is an exciting action-packed thriller that never allows the reader a respite from the opening scene in 1979 Iran as the Revolution begins to the final confrontation. Fast-paced throughout, The Eden Prophecy is an entertaining good vs. evil battle with a Proto-Elamite script on a scroll and tablet from the same biblical era as the Dead Sea finds. Over the top of the Zagros Mountains and under the streets (in Beirut) fans will enjoy touring the Middle East with Hawker and his growing team.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, January 13, 2012

No Return-Brett Battles

No Return

Brett Battles

Dell, Jan 31 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 978-0440245629

In the Mohave Desert near Ridgecrest, California, Wes Stewart and a crew are working in a film. For Wes the assignment is a homecoming of sorts having lived nearby as a child though this is his first return in about fifteen years.

Wes notices an F-18 Navy fighter plane flying across the clear blue sky on a trajectory that can only mean crash. He runs to the site to rescue the pilot. However, before he can get the aviator out of the F-18, an explosion turns the plane into a crematorium. The local newspaper proclaims Wes a hero, but what shakes him is the photo of the deceased; the man in the newspaper’s picture is not the person he helplessly watched die in the plane. Suddenly Wes is a person of interest to the local police and the Navy; however, it is the third party he is unaware of who stalks him with deadly intent.

With Jonathan Quinn taking a well-earned respite from his Cleaner work (see Shadow of Betrayal; and The Silenced), Brett Battles provides a superb taut thriller of a Good Samaritan learning the road to hell is paved in the desert. The storyline is fast-paced from the moment Wes fails at the rescue and never slows down until the final confrontation. Although the overly frequent use of happenchance detracts from the plot, readers will enjoy Wes’ homecoming.

Harriet Klausner

Clobbered by Camembert-Avery Aames

Clobbered by Camembert

Avery Aames

Berkley, Feb 7 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780425245873

In Providence, Ohio, Charlotte Bessette owns Fromagerie Bessette better known locally as The Cheese Shop. Currently Charlotte, with help from her assistants Rebecca Zook and teenager Bozz Bozzuto, prepares wine (cousin Matthew runs that operation) and cheese fare for the town's Winter Wonderland Faire hosted on the Village Green as part of the Providence Founder’s Day gala.

Former resident and her mom's childhood friend Kaitlyn Clydesdale accompanied by her Do-Gooders crew, returns home after decades away. An entrepreneur Kaitlyn plans to open up a honeybee farm right next to the Quail Ridge Honeybee Farm owned by Ipo Ho. Rebecca is upset as she is attracted to Ipo. Not long after Charlotte meets her mother’s old friend, Kaitlyn is found dead in Rebecca’s cottage. Chief of Police Umberto Urso suspects Ipo killed Kaitlyn though his alibi is hysterical Amish-bred Rebecca who insists they were smooching at the time of death. Although she knows better after getting involved in homicides before (see The Long Quiche Goodbye and Lost And Fondue), Charlotte investigates.

The third Cheese Shop Mystery is an entertaining culinary amateur sleuth. The eccentric townsfolk, especially the heroine’s extended family, enhance the look at a small Buckeye town in February. Charlotte is an engaging protagonist with a mysterious boyfriend Jordan and an obsessive need for information about her mother. With a surprise climax and some cheese recipes, fans will enjoy her inquiry even if her reasons why (primarily the sweet beekeeper would not hurt a fly) is over the top of Campbell Hill.

Harriet Klausner

Fadeaway Girl-Martha Grimes

Fadeaway Girl

Martha Grimes

NAL, Feb 7 2012, $15.00

ISBN: 9780451235640

In LaPorte, Maryland three weeks ago a murderer almost killed twelve year old Emma Graham, cub reporter for the Conservative (see Belle Ruin). She knows how she came close to death as it began when she started to conduct research into the abduction of Baby Fay Slade two decades ago from the Belle Rouen Hotel which since burned to the ground (see Cold Flat Junction); when her passive inquiry failed, she turned active sleuth questioning those who should care or know something, which led to her near death experience.

Her mother hires slick Rafe to work at the hotel. Emma knows he is fake charmer so she suspects the new employee of sinister activity so she tails him with the help of her “chauffeur” the taxi driver. Morris Slade, father of the kidnapped baby, comes to town for the first time years. He was the prime suspect then and remains the prime suspect in the cold case that only Emma investigates. Soon after Slade arrives, a corpse is found leaving Emma to know her inquiry has someone nervous while she in peril again.

The third Graham tweener mystery is an engaging tale as the heroine balances her time amidst her kooky family, eccentric friends and people of interest, work at the hotel, and investigative journalism. However, the enjoyable tale lacks A Red Herring Without Mustard (by Alan Bradley) as the fun investigation is very straightforward. To fully appreciate the events of this storyline, fans should read the previous novels as the aptly titled Fadeaway Girl builds directly from those events even with the heroine providing some backstory. Still overall Emma Graham, tweener Nancy Drew, provides an entertaining mystery.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Avalanche Pass-John A Flanagan

Avalanche Pass

John A Flanagan

Berkley, Feb 7 2012, $15.00

ISBN: 9780425245408

Although his broken leg has healed, Steamboat Springs ski patrol officer Jesse Parker remains emotionally traumatized from the accident. Jesse takes a leave of absence to emotionally heal by getting on the skis without an audience like Routt County Sheriff Lee Torrens. He goes to Snow Eagles resort in Utah, but his efforts fail. Deciding to leave in the morning, Jesse pays his tab, but has time for a one-nighter with Tina Bowden, resort security.

Washington State Senator Carling arrives with a group of business executives. Roger Kormann and a group he leads come to Snow Eagles and take over the resort. After accounting for the staff and the guest list, which includes people staying tomorrow only, Kormman shows he has no qualms about killing anyone. Meanwhile FBI hostage negotiator FBI Agent Denton Colby comes to Snow Eagle to work out the freeing of the captives. However, the only hope for those held by Kormman is the former Denver cop who since he is leaving in the morning is no longer on the guest list.

The latest Parker thriller (see Snow Peak) is an action-packed suspense in which a psychopath leads other amoral predators with the attitude mass killing is expected. Readers and the Fed quickly believe money is not the object of this game. Parker is a fascinating protagonist as he remains traumatized from his Denver police partner killed in a friendly fire incident during a shoot-out in which his bullet is the cause. However, with a second trauma, he loses empathy as a tormented hero; while his opponent is over the top of Pike’s Peak. Still this is an entertaining cat and mouse tale.

Harriet Klausner

Dublin Dead-Gerard O’Donovan

Dublin Dead

Gerard O’Donovan

Scribner, Mar 13 2012, $25.00

ISBN: 9781451610635

Fourteen months ago reporter Siobhan Fallon was nailed to a cross by the Priest, but survived the ordeal though she is not quite what she was. Her editor at the Sunday herald Paddy Griffin sends Siobhan to Cork on another soft assignment to cover the funeral of realtor Cormac Horgan, who committed suicide. Mrs., Kearny saw her at the funeral and knows Siobhan wrote an article on Cormac. She asks Siobhan to find her missing daughter Gemma Kearney who was Cormac’s girlfriend. Siobhan makes inquiries into the deceased and his vanished girlfriend that leads her to Bristol, but what she fails to find stuns her.

In Dublin, Detective Inspector Mike Mulcahy, who speaks the language, helps the Spanish police investigate the murder of Irishman Bingo Begly on the resort Fuengirola. He and his team are also investigating a large cache of cocaine found on a yacht near Cork with no person nearby. While their cases continue, someone is assassinating mobsters. When Mulcahy and Fallon compare what they know, they realize their two cases and the serial murders case are tied together, but how and who remains out of reach,

The key to this exciting investigative thriller is trying to figure out how the inquiries connect; that is if they do because Gerald O’Donovan does a great job making it difficult to see except as a Monday morning quarterback. The storyline starts slow as the lead pair is introduced showing their PTSD (especially Siobhan) remnants from The Priest case (worth reading too). Once the die is cast, the plot accelerates into a great Irish mystery.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

10,000 in Small, Unmarked Puzzles: A Puzzle Lady Mystery-Parnell Hall

10,000 in Small, Unmarked Puzzles: A Puzzle Lady Mystery

Parnell Hall

Minotaur, Jan 31 2012, $24.99

ISBN 9780312602475

Lawyer Becky Baldwin persuades Cora “the Puzzle Lady” Felton to deliver $10,000 from an unnamed client to a blackmailer. Cora arrives at the abandoned gas station where she is to make the drop in the dumpster. She opens the lid to dump the money inside only the corpse of a man hit in the head stares back at her. Protruding from his pocket is a Sudoku puzzle. Adding to her concern, the money is stolen.

Brookhaven, Connecticut Police Chief Dale Harper leads the murder investigation. He is frustrated (as are readers) with Cora’s stonewalling his questions. Becky refuses to reveal the name of her client, but Cora and her friends believe her ex-husband Melvin did it again. Cora realizes that the killer is playing chess with her and her queens are her beloved niece Sherry and her beloved infant grandniece.

Readers of the series know what to expect in a Puzzle Lady whodunit (see The Puzzle Lady vs. the Sudoku Lady and The KenKen Killings) and Parnell Hall and Will Stoltz (the puzzles) deliver on the formula a fun thriller. Fast-paced except for some of arguing amongst Cora and her posse, fans of Sudoku will want to solve the puzzles and ergo the mystery.

Harriet Klausner

Last Man Standing-Cindy Gerard

Last Man Standing

Cindy Gerard

Pocket, Jan 31 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9781451606829

Several years ago, the ambush left Black Ops, Inc. operative Bryan Tomkins dead in Sierra Leone. His comrade in arms Joe Green finds some enigmatic evidence that suggests the deadly assault was not as random as reported. At Fort Meade, Maryland Joe ends his relationship with a stunned heartbroken Stephanie for her safety; as he plans to go solo to Sierra Leone to learn the truth and if what he suspects is real take down his friend’s killer.

Angry at her stubborn beloved, Stephanie is shook when she learns Joe has been arrested for murdering a priest In Freetown. His Black Ops, Inc. unit is communication shutdown as required by a deep undercover mission so she knows she must go solo to rescue Joe. However, someone in the shadows plans to keep the truth about Bryan interred even if that means killing the man’s sister and her lover.

The latest Black Ops, Inc. thriller (see No Mercy, Take No Prisoners) is an exciting action-packed tale that brings much closure to the overarching theme of what really happened to Bryan Tomkins. The key to the fast-paced story line that provides insight into that fatal mission that haunts much of the agents of BOI is the identity of the prime suspect behind the bloody ambush as the romantic subplot takes a back seat to who killed Bryan Tomkins?

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Those Who Love Night-Wessel Ebersohn

Those Who Love Night

Wessel Ebersohn

Minotaur, Jan 31 2012, $.99

ISBN: 9780312655969

Abigail Bukula is a prosecutor in South Africa where she works for the Department of Justice. Abigail is unhappy with the politicians ending the successful Scorpions program who got felons convicted including some highly ranked corrupt officials; the leaders have replaced that cell with a politically correct unit Hawk who she knows is to leave the untouchable elite politicos alone. Adding to her despondency is she thinks her husband Robert Mokoapi is cheating on her; making her efforts to remain faithful that much harder as she is attracted to Zimbabwe Central Intelligence Organization official Jonas Chunga. Fear joins unhappiness when the cops arrest her former Scorpions’ leader Gert Pienaar.

Krisj Patel informs Abigail that her cousin Tony Makumne is one of the Harare Seven held captured in brutal Zimbabwean Chickurubi Prison. She insists her late Aunt Janice, who died in the 1982 Gukurahundi massacre in Bizanna, had only a daughter Katy. Patel sends a six-page letter and two pictures that stir Abigail to contact Jewish prison psychologist Yudel Gordon who teamed with her to bring justice to The October Killings. Abigail, who practiced law in Zimbabwe, travels there to represent the Harare Seven, but the authorities refuse to cooperate. When Patel is assassinated, though fearful she remains steadfast to see justice served.

This is a great thriller that showcases life under the vicious regime of Mugabe. With the exception of the Catholic Bishops ironically the world including western leaders ignored the real genocide of three decades ago, which is a key element in this strong legal thriller. With a shocking final twist, readers will appreciate dedicated Abigail trying to obtain justice for the Harare Seven inside a country where the sword is mightier than the pen.

Harriet Klausner

The Last Good Man-A.J. Kazinski, Tiina Nunnally (translator)

The Last Good Man

A.J. Kazinski, Tiina Nunnally (translator)

Scribner, Mar 6 2012, $26.00

ISBN 9781451640755

In the Yonghegong Temple in Beijing, Ling the monk drops dead with an inflamed etching across his back. Italian police officer Tommaso di Barbara sends Giuseppe Locatelli to Suvarna Hospital in Mumbai to confirm what he expects with the death of economist Raj Bairoliya. The same thing had occurred in Hanoi and elsewhere. Tommaso believes someone is murdering humanitarians around the globe.

Stunned, Tommaso links thirty-four identical deaths of good people by a serial killer, which leads him to Jewish scripture of the pious thirty-six preventing the end of humanity. As the world climate summit comes to Copenhagen, Tommaso enlists Danish detective Niels Bentzon to help him save the last two standing. Niels finds nobody worthy until he obtains the help of grieving scientist Hannah Lund, who struggles with her son’s suicide. She finds the pattern in which the last two homicides will occur in Venice and Copenhagen very soon.

Based on the Jewish belief of the thirty six righteous but unenlightened people who prevent the end of the world, The Last Good Man is an exhilarating thriller. The prime trio is fully developed with flaws and disbeliefs making them human. Their desperation to identify and keep safe the last two good people standing is fun to follow. Although the Jewish scripture of pre-determined chosen ones is fascinating, this insight slows down the pace of an otherwise exciting running out of time biblical doomsday countdown.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, January 9, 2012

Cinnamon Roll Murder-Joanne Fluke

Cinnamon Roll Murder

Joanne Fluke

Kensington, Feb 28 2012, $24.00

ISBN 9780758234933

Although most folks from the lower states insist Minnesota has two seasons, residents of town like Lake Eden know there are four seasons with the recent one being the Mud Season. Thus Hannah Swensen drives her cookie truck very carefully as road conditions during this time of year are slick and hazardous. She and her sister Michelle are delivering cinnamon rolls to the Lake Eden Inn when they come across a chain reaction multi vehicle pileup. A bus belonging to the Cinnamon Roll Six jazz band has fallen into the ditch; the driver is dead but the musicians are more fortunate only suffering minor injuries. The sisters go to help those inside the bus and meet keyboard player Buddy Neiman who tries to pick up Michelle who has a boyfriend. He has injuries to his wrist so is sent to the hospital for x-rays. However, someone stabs him with a surgeon’s scissor, killing him. Hannah investigates who murdered the jazz performer seeking the motive even as her beloved boyfriend Norman has related personal issues that may end their relationship.

The latest Hannah Swensen amateur sleuth (see Devil’s Food Cake Murder) is an enjoyable whodunit with several sweet recipes. The storyline is fast-paced as the heroine follows clues that stun her when they somewhat lead to Lake Eden. Although the cops are non-existent, as if they did not want to interfere with the baker’s inquiry, fans still will appreciate this culinary cinnamon cozy.

Harriet Klausner

The Last Plea Bargain-Randy Singer

The Last Plea Bargain

Randy Singer

Tyndale, Mar 1 2012, $13.99

ISBN 9781414333212

Milton County, Georgia assistant District Attorney Jamie Brock is uncompromising when it comes to the legal system that she has sworn to uphold. For her three years working in the prosecution’s office, she never accepted a rejects plea bargain as she strongly believes this dealing abominates the justice system.

Defense attorney Caleb Tate is accused of murdering his wife Rikki. With a personal grudge against the powerful Tate for his over the top defense of the man convicted of murdering her mother, Brock wants to nail him with a capital punishment conviction. She and lead detective “LA” Finnegan work the murder case together. However, Tate has used the ADA’s convictions against her when he arranges for prisoners to refuse to plea bargain leads to the court system failing and felons freed for no reason except to clear the docket. At the same time, death sentence opponent Mace James works the appeal of the killer of Brock’s mother. As her world spins out of control, Brock realizes even her mother’s death is not as black and white as she once thought.

The Last Plea Bargain is a great legal thriller that looks closely at the impact of the war on crime overwhelming the under-budgeted court system, which leads to the overuse of plea bargaining. Ironically Brock can take her rigid moral stand because other flexible ADAs keep the system from clogging up. Satirizing chicken hawk politicians who are tough on crime except for funding the system and filled with clever twists, Randy Singer provides an entertaining tale that questions the meaning of justice in a judicial process that is financed and operated more like a logistical just in time warehousing operation.

Harriet Klausner

Adrift on St. John-Rebecca M. Hale

Adrift on St. John

Rebecca M. Hale

Berkley, Mar 6 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780425246658

Four years ago, Hannah Sheridan sat in the Miami airport fearing she would soon be debarred for running a shady law practice when a mysterious man offered her a job with a new identity. Without any hesitation she accepted a position to run an exotic resort as Pen Hoffstra on the Caribbean island of St. John.

Since that miraculous intervention, Pen has felt as if she has been on a four-year vacation as she loves her job and her new home. No one is more shocked than Pen when Hannah Sheridan arrives at the resort to install Wi-Fi access. Her folder that is given to assistant manager Vivian is empty; just like what Pen provided four years ago when she came as the new manager. When Hannah Sheridan vanishes at sea, the locals insist the Amina Slave Princess who led the early eighteenth century slave revolt is behind the disappearance. Now Pen knows why a stranger offered her this gig in what is no longer paradise for the truth will not set you free.

Giving Rupert a rest after his recent road trip (see the charming Cats and Curios Mysteries – How To Moon A Cat), the first Mystery In The islands is an intriguing but difficult novel to follow due to choppy transitions between the characters and the abrupt switching time frames. The flashback to the real 1733 slave revolt on this Virgin Island provides a sense of historical location, but never quite connects with the twenty first century main theme of what is happening to Pen Hoffstra nee Hannah Sheridan even with a sham masquerade of the Princess. Still fans who want something different will enjoy being Adrift on St. John.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Memories of You-Bobbie Cole

Memories of You

Bobbie Cole

Carina/Harlequin, Mar 21 2011, $7.99

ISBN: 9780373062492; Amazon Digital Services - ASIN: B004MPRZDY

Over a year ago, Seth Taggert vanished without a trace. His girlfriend, ironically a cold case police detective, Charlie Vargas wants closure though there time together was short she really liked him. A man with Seth’s voce calls her and asks who she is. He explains he was in a car accident in Mexico, had facial reconstruction surgery and suffers from amnesia while currently residing in Houston. His only memory from before is her number. Others like his sister, her husband and his doctors insist he is Mason Aldridge but that feels wrong though he says they have no reason conspiratorially or individually to lie.

They agree to meet at the Tex-Mex where they first ate out together. When they see one another, neither recognize the other though his eyes look sort of similar and his mannerisms as she recalls seems the same.. Additionally, the pair is attracted to one another. Once a cop always a cop, as Charlie realizes someone is following Seth-Mason. Charlie decides to make inquiries unaware that the Feds are interested and an unknown adversary wants both of them dead.

This is a gripping romantic suspense thriller that hooks the audience from that first phone call and never slows down until the final twisting denouement. Readers will root for the brave heroine, backed up nicely by her partner Julio Rodriguez (hopefully his story will follow), and want Mason to be Seth. With a nod to amnesia driven movies like Paycheck, Shattered and Spellbound, Bobbie Cole provides an exhilarating fast-paced mystery as rightfully so the intrigue supersedes the second chance at love if they live so long.

Harriet Klausner

Darker Than Any Shadow-Tina Whittle

Darker Than Any Shadow

Tina Whittle

Poisoned Pen, Mar 6 2012, $24.95

ISBN 9781590585481

Summer in Atlanta is the usual boiling with the heat and humidity forcing the Atlanta Zoo crew to feed ice cubes to the animals. Dexter’s Guns and More gun shop operator Tai Randolph’s BFF Rico Worthington asks Trey Seaver, a former SWAT cop turned corporate security expert, to watch the door at the club during a national poetry recital contest. In his Armani, Trey the human crime calculator agrees. Trey accompanied by Tai explains that Rico fears Maurice “Vigil” Cunningham, who just was freed on a technicality after spending four days incarcerated for a weapons carrying parole violation, will cause trouble.

A fire breaks out at the club. As people leave, Tai finds poet Lex Anderson, who replaced Vigil, dead. APD Detective Sandford Cummings believes Rico committed the crimes of murder and arson. Tai investigates with mixed help from Trey, who remains unpredictable since he lost a fight with a wall he crashed his car into two plus years ago.

The second Tai-Trey mystery (see The Dangerous Edge of Things) is an entertaining thriller starring a wonderful heroine and a somewhat brain damaged killing machine. Fast-paced, Trey wants Tai to stay out of the dangerous world of poets who could slay the enemy with a rhyme or two. Turning upside down the mantra “the word (computer) is mightier than the sword,” fans will appreciate Tina Whittles’ ode to murder and poetry as Trey says both can leave a person dead.

Harriet Klausner

Nine for the Devil-Mary Reed and Eric Mayer

Nine for the Devil

Mary Reed and Eric Mayer

Poisoned Pen, Mar 6 2012, $24.95

ISBN 9781590589946

In 548 in Constantinople, capital of the Roman Empire, Empress Theodora has died from a terrible illness. However, her husband Emperor Justinian, twenty years her senior, believes otherwise that someone murdered his spouse by poisoning her.

He directs lord chamberlain John to investigate his wife’s death with the warning of finding her killer or he and his family will face the same consequences Justinian plans for Theodora’s murderer. John knows that the empress died of natural causes from a debilitating disease as few had access to the Empress. Still though a doubting Thomas, he analyzes who of the many with motives at the castle had both access and major gains with Theodora out of the way. He narrows the list to a few powerful people with deep grudges against the royal couple, but remains skeptical that a homicide occurred as opportunity is limited to Gaius the royal physician and food servicing servants to have delivered poison.

The latest John the Lord Chamberlain sixth century Constantinople mystery (see Eight for Eternity) is a great entry that combines a strong whodunit with a puissant look at the period mostly inside the place but somewhat also through the heroes’ friends and family outside too. The palace politics engages the audience as the norm is superstition (for instance the Emperor is a demon), backstabbing and betrayal. John knows the urgency of his mission as time is running out on him and his loved ones with Justinian demanding the head of his wife’s killer. With a moral dilemma to hand over someone or else, fans will enjoy John’s latest adventures in the palace of Emperor Justinian.

Harriet Klausner

Plunder-Mary Anna Evans


Mary Anna Evans

Poisoned Pen, Mar 6 2012, $24.95

ISBN 9781590589311

An environmental company hires archeologist Dr. Faye Longchamp-Manttoth and her husband Joe Wolf Mantooth to research and document archaeological sites at the mouth of the Mississippi below New Orleans. The routine work turns complicated as the Deepwater Horizon explosion threatens the historical locales with massive oil and the couple’s company as their client offers a lot more money for the mother lode of an environmental impact statement, but Faye doubts they have the capacity to take on the expanded scope; they can’t say no as that would kill their firm as well.

Adding to their difficulties is Dauphine the babysitter of their one year old toddler Michael is injured and unable to watch the infant. They hire teenage amateur treasure hunter Amande Landreneau as the babysitter. Amande lives with her irresponsible grandmother on a dilapidated houseboat and at times her alcoholic uncle joins them. She quickly adulates the independent Faye with plans to avoid the foster care system by caring for herself. The teen proves helpful with locations, but everything changes when her neglectful relatives are murdered.

The latest Faye Longchamp archeological mystery (see Strangers, Floodgates, Findings, Artifacts, and Relics) is made fresh by the impact of the Deepwater Horizon disaster and the appearance of wonderful Amande who steals the show from the adults. Filled with action, Mary Anna Evans makes a strong case that the Louisiana coast known for pirates still has raiders plundering the natural resources.

Harriet Klausner

Cooking the Books-Kerry Greenwood

Cooking the Books

Kerry Greenwood

Poisoned Pen, Mar 6 2012, $24.95

ISBN 9781590589823

In Melbourne, size twenty Corinna Chapman, owner of Earthly Delights bakery, hates Christmas as the city is always hot and dirty and the shoppers are even more demanding.. She closes down the bakery planning to do nothing but cool down. Her assistant baker teenager Jason is off learning to surf; her boyfriend private investigator Daniel searches for a multi-thousand dollar theft; and the girls (Kylie and Goss) obtain parts in the soapie Kiss The Bride.

Corinna ends up at Earthly Delights feeling like the Mad Hatter or perhaps the executed chef of Richard III, baking Heavenly Pleasures for Mrs. Dawson’s tea party. She quickly learns how doing nothing is extremely s hard work. Her school mate Thomasina the caterer hires her to bake for the cast and crew filming Kiss The Bride. Corinna needs little time to know something is not kosher on the set as sabotage, twisted nursery rhymes (that Jay Ward and his fans like moi would appreciate) and a confrontation with Tabitha the feline who is a bit more aggressive than Horatio the cat occurs.

The latest Corinna Chapman series (see Forbidden Fruit and Trick or Treat) is an amusing Australian cozy filled with irony; as the heroine finds out what Oscar Wilde said: “It is awfully hard work doing nothing learned.” Fans will enjoy the self-deprecating heroine who is comfortable in her “fat” (as she says) skin most of the time. Entertaining and whimsical, fans will enjoy the latest escapades of Melbourne’s bah humbug baker and her busy eccentric crew.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, January 7, 2012

The Cat Sitter’s Pajamas-Blaize Clement

The Cat Sitter’s Pajamas

Blaize Clement

Minotaur, Jan 17 2012, $24.99

ISBN: 9780312643133

On Siesta Key off Sarasota, Dixie Hemingway cat sits the two felines (Elvis and Lucy) belonging to Tampa bay Buccaneer inside linebacker Cupcake Trillin and his wife Jancey while they spend two weeks in Palma, Italy. When Dixie enters the Trillin’s home in an exclusive gated Hidden Shores, she is not met by the cats, but by an almost naked woman; Briana the fashion model who insists she is Cupcake’s wife.

Taken aback Dixie calls Cupcake and the police. The cops arrive, but Briana is gone and a female corpse lies on the floor. Dixie leaves with the cats, but Briana accosts her; begging for her help as she swears she never killed anyone. Briana explains she was Cupcake’s childhood friend when they lived in poverty in Louisiana. A former Sheriff’s deputy, Dixie agrees to look into the case that twists dangerously when she is assaulted, her apartment savaged and an Interpol agent working for the FBI interrogates her.

The latest “other” Dixie Hemingway pet sitting mystery (see Cat Sitter Among the Pigeons and Curiosity Killed the Cat Sitter) is a fabulous spinning Gulf Coast whodunit. As always the cast especially the pets are top rate and the locale inviting while the heroine knows she needs to just say no but cannot. The Cat Sitter’s Pajamas is an enjoyable investigative thriller in one of the better series in recent years that pays homage to Blaize Clement who died last summer.

Harriet Klausner

Liar Moon-Ben Pastor

Liar Moon

Ben Pastor

Bitter Lemon, Feb 21 2012, $14.95

ISBN: 9781904738824

Wehrmacht Major Martin von Bora survived the cruel Russian front as a hero though to the SS he is an enemy for his inquiry in Poland five years ago (see Lumen). In September 1943, the Baron is assigned to Verona in German occupied northern Italy; where ironically a grenade launcher destroys one of his hands and left a leg filled with shrapnel. Though his doctor prescribes rest, Martin refuses.

His superior Colonel Habermehl sends Muti Battalion Centurion Gaetano de Rosa to direct Martin to investigate the death of a powerful Fascist, wheelchair bound Camerrata Vittorio Lisi in a car accident that is clearly a murder. Martin asks Police Inspector Sandro Guidi to help him. In turn, Guidi asks the German officer to assist his investigation into a serial killer who leaves a shoe behind. Bora, who misses his wife, knows the SS is watching him hoping to eliminate him at a time when the Holocaust trucks through Verona and partisans with help from the allies to the south will do anything to liberate the occupied north.

The two historical mysteries are cleverly designed to bring to life an occupied divided Italy in the Fall of 1943. Both cases are entertaining due to the lead sleuths working sort of together but not quite trusting one another as their agendas appear different. Bora is a hero who conceals his activities to prevent atrocities. Guidi has problems understanding the seemingly cold aloof German. Readers will relish Ben Pastor’s strong WWII mysteries with its superb historical background.

Harriet Klausner

Murder Buys A T-shirt-Christy Fifield

Murder Buys A T-shirt

Christy Fifield

Berkley, Mar 6 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780425246665

Late Uncle Louis left Glory Martine his souvenir, curio and collectible shop located in Keyhole Bay, Florida. After too many unexplained happenings in her new store, Glory is nearly convinced her shop is haunted by her deceased relative who talks to her through her parrot Bluebeard.

Glory and her friend, Karen the reporter, are at the scene of a traffic accident in which the high school football star Kevin Stanley dies. The police assume the victim was intoxicated because he just left a keg party so they take their time on the investigation. At the shop Bluebeard insists: “It wasn’t an accident” and he leaves newspapers on the table that includes articles about Uncle Louis leding Glory to want to learn more about her mysterious relative. Glory believes that her Uncle Louis is speaking to her. To prove to herself she is not insane, Glory and Karen investigate Kevin’s death with the help of two buddies Ernie and Felipe

The freshness in this paranormal cozy comes from Bluebeard the possessed parrot (if he is not possessed than our heroine suffers from a form of dementia) who as Uncle Louis wants to know and help his niece. The BFFs are fully developed with each seemingly capable of holding their own series though Keyhole Bay would need a crime wave. With a relative from beyond as the spiritual guide, Christy Fifield’s Haunted Souvenir Shop regional amateur sleuth tale is an entertaining and clever Florida whodunit .

Harriet Klausner

Friday, January 6, 2012

The Jaguar-T. Jefferson Parker

The Jaguar

T. Jefferson Parker

Dutton, Jan 10 2012, $26.95

ISBN 9780525952572

Gulf Cartel leader Benjamin Armenta kidnaps songwriter Erin McKenna. He takes her to his dilapidated El Castillo where he orders her to compose a narcocoriddo folk song highlighting the legend of Benjamin Armenta as the greatest Mexican felon of all time. He also orders Erin’s husband Los Angeles sheriff’s department deputy Bradley Jones to give him a million dollars within 10 days as a fee for causing him problems; failure to meet his terms of apology means his pregnant spouse will be skinned alive and fed to Armenta’s menagerie starting with the jaguar.

Frantic Jones, a transporter for a rival cartel since he was a teen, desperately turns to his adversarial rival at the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Office deputy Charlie Hood to help him rescue his wife as he has no way of paying the bounty. Charlie has a reputation well earned from his ATF loaner days (Iron River and The Border Lords) so is Hood’s only hope when he goes on his quest to save his wife and their unborn.

The key to powerful rescue thriller is that the brutal Armenta is not just 200-proof evil, but comes across as a wicked human with different values. Hood is terrific as he knows the risks to save Erin, but does so anyway. Although Finnegan is an unnecessary attempt to lighten the dark tale with bathroom-capitalism, fans will appreciate the rescue attempt.

Harriet Klausner

Sail of Stone- Ake Edwardson; Rachel Willson-Broyles translator

Sail of Stone

Ake Edwardson; Rachel Willson-Broyles translator

Simon & Schuster, $15.00

ISBN 9781451608502

While investigating the reported drowning of his father John Osvald during WWII in Scotland, Axel Osvald vanishes. In Gothenburg, Axel’s two offspring (Erik and Johanna) report to the police their father disappeared in they believe Scotland. Police Chief Inspector Erik Winter, who dated Johanna at one time, contacts Steve MacDonald, a friend at Scotland Yard, to help him with his inquiry when he comes to Scotland.

In Gothenburg, African-Swede police officer Aneta Djanali believes Anette Lindsten is a domestic violence victim who is too afraid to tell the authorities. When Anette vanishes, Djanali and her partner Fredrik Halders search for her with her family refusing to cooperate. At the same an unknown adversary sends threatening messages to Aneta warning her to back off or else while the cop also receives cryptic notes from the missing spouse.

The latest Erik Winter Gothenburg police procedural (see Frozen Tracks, Death Angels and The Shadow Women) is a terrific psychological thriller that looks deeply into the minds of the two lead cops as Ake Edwardson rotates perspective between them. The profound study of the psyches of Winters and Lindsten supersede the two cases they work on separately. Although first names can be a bit confusing, fans who appreciate an insightful character study that scrutinizes the motives of the cast, especially the lead cops, will want to read the entertaining meandering Sail of Stone.

Harriet Klausner