Monday, April 30, 2012

The Bird Saviors-William J. Cobb

The Bird Saviors

William J. Cobb

Unbridled, Jun 12 2012, $25.95

ISBN: 9781609530709

Ruby Cole knows the world has gone wrong when the government pays hunters to kill birds she loves to count. They rationalize the kills on a deadly flu fever blamed on birds, but do nothing about dust storms, fires and deadly felonious activity. Her Colorado no longer has room for a Moon Bird or for that matter her.

Meanwhile her dad “Lord God” the disabled Forsaken Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints preacher gives his daughter Ruby Cole two untenable choices. She must give up her baby Lila or marry Page a man her dad’s age who has two wives because Lord God received a heavenly vision. Deciding to not honor her martinet father, Ruby selects a third option when she decides to run away with Lila. Her seemingly isolated act of defiance turns into a butterfly effect on Widower Ward Costello and other people involved in aviary population and criminal activity.

The Bird Saviors is a fascinating low-key character driven thriller starring a young woman who decides to take a chance on living instead of dying a slow domestic death. The storyline starts slow as the world around Pueblo and the key cast are established during a difficult recession. Once done, chaos theory takes effect as one thing leads to another in a world that seems to have gone mad. Readers will enjoy Ruby’s impact as she becomes a bird savior while searching for a good happy life for her and her baby.

Harriet Klausner

The Wrong Man-David Ellis

The Wrong Man

David Ellis

Putnam, Jun 14 2012, $26.95

ISBN 9780399158285

After class, paralegal Kathy Rubinkowski heads to her SUV to go home when someone shoots her in her head. Detective Frank Danilo and Mona Gregus arrest Iraqi war veteran Tom Stoller who is incoherent and apparently homeless in spite of an address. Stoller was found with the murder weapon and Kathy’s purse near the homicide scene. The cops get a confession out of the mentally unstable Stoller.

Tom’s Aunt Deidre Maley observes in court attorney Jason Kolarich destroy the testimony of a key prosecution witness in a murder case. She pleads with him to defend her nephew as public defender Bryan Childress is leaving the office. He agrees though the trial is in a few weeks and his client wants it over so a continuance is unlikely. As he goes over the evidence and talks with his client, Jason begins to believe Tom confessed to a horrible event in Iraq not to the killing of Kathy. He finds proof that Kathy was assassinated because someone wanted to end her inquiry into a terrorists’ money trail.

The third Jason Kolarich legal thriller (see The Hidden Man and Breach of Trust) is an exciting tale that is at its best in the courtroom and in client-lawyer meetings. The attorney defends an individual suffering from PTSD triggered Disorganized Schizophrenia who mumbles okay though he apparently has no idea what he responds to. When the case turns into an improbable thriller, the storyline remains fast-paced but loses some of its freshness of defending a person whose sanity seems unlikely.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Under Fire-Catherine Mann

Under Fire

Catherine Mann

Sourcebooks, May 1 2012, $6.99

ISBN 9781402245015

Pararescueman Major Liam McCabe and Rachel Flores worked together in the Bahamas rescuing people during an earthquake. For the next six months he tried to make contact with her, but she refused to respond though she is attracted to Liam. She has a problem with his multi failed marriages somewhat but deep down she knows her fears of commitment go back to her fiancé who died on a mission.

On Patrick Air Force base, Florida, Liam and his team provide external security for a NASA sponsored international summit. This is the thirty eight year old soldier’s farewell mission after a career in the military though he knows he is going out with a whimper. Rachel finds Liam’s car and breaks into it. Meanwhile her house is ablaze due to an explosion. Liam is stunned to find her and one of her rescue dogs Disco inside his vehicle. She explains a flag officer has betrayed the country and wants her dead; she trusts only Liam to help her.

The latest Elite Force military romantic thriller (see Cover Me) is an exciting tale starring two individuals who met during the Bahamas rescue mission (see Hot Zone). Fast-paced and filled with action, Liam knows that if he chooses his heart, he could lose his twenty year career retirement; but if he ignores his heart he will live with regret as his unit’s mantra "that others may live" haunts him especially since Rachel is the one asking him. Fans will enjoy Under Fire as the protagonists, assisted by his squad, team up to try to bring down a highly ranked officer.

Harriet Klausner

COAST: An Act Of Burial-Xander Richards

COAST: An Act Of Burial

Xander Richards

BookBaby, Apr 25 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9781620956076

Tactical Deployment and Response Team (TDR-12) chief special ops agent Corporal Ian McKinley assassinates his Uncle Brennan, weapons dealer who sold high-tech armament to terrorists. He returns to his base under the streets of Nottingham where his superior officer General Sutton assigns TDR-12 to get to the Fort William navy supply ship that has foundered in the Persian Gulf because the vessel contains four trident nuclear warheads that they must possess. McKinley and his teammates Carter and Brook arrive quickly, but are attacked and two nukes are gone.

At the same time, members of the TDR units are being murdered. When TDR-7 is wiped out, TDR-12 takes over their mission traveling to Russia to meet arms dealer Vladimir Kholitczyn to learn what he knows about the two nukes. They survive an assault as the Russian informs them to look back home. Sutton realizes a traitor is betraying the TDR from within; so he sets up a scheme to find the operative who has betrayed his brothers in arms and his country.

This is an action-packed international espionage thriller starring a team of agents trying to prevent the use of the stolen bombs on British citizens and to uncover the diabolical killing traitor. The entertaining plot can turn passively wordy when Xander Richards goes deep into the thought processes of TDR-12 during the planning, execution, and after action debriefing of an operation. I found the insight fascinating but the action to the nth degree fan might not. With a great twist adding to the fun, COAST: An Act Of Burial is a fabulous war against terrorism tale though Ian and company can use some R&R.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, April 27, 2012

The Investigation of Ariel Warning-Robert Kalich

The Investigation of Ariel Warning

Robert Kalich

Macadam Cage, Apr 19 2012, $24.00

ISBN: 9781596923720

Identical twins Adam and David Remler want to film the former’s novel. They hire Ariel Warning to help them make their movie. Ariel and David begin a romance, but she soon has an affair with Adam while still seeing his sibling. Adam feels guilty about betraying his brother but cannot resist Ariel’s allure; so he attempts to conceal from David his tryst with Ariel.

His esteem shattered and filled with remorse with what he is doing to David behind his back; Adam feels a need to protect the brother who for the first time in their lives he has acted disloyal towards. He investigates Ariel with an inquiry that sends him to America and Asia as each new clue leads to increasing confusion and “warning” to beware.

This engaging amateur sleuth also looks deep at the connection between identical twins. The mystery of Ariel is very alluring though in many ways it is more a self-awareness journey as Adam discovers who he is as a single entity. The twins' aspects start strongly by establishing their personalities, but become a redundant distractor that takes away from the enticing Investigation of Ariel Warning.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Damage Control-John Gilstrap

Damage Control

John Gilstrap

Pinnacle, Jun 5 2012, $9.99

ISBN: 9780786024933

The Crystal Palace Cathedral Reverend Jackie Mitchell hires Security Solutions to rescue church members held hostage in Mexico. Operatives Big Guy (Brian Van de Meulebroeke) and Scorpion (John Grave) head to the drop point in the Mexican jungle to exchange three million dollars for the safe return of the teen and adult hostages. However, as the bus arrives containing the church prisoners, the two Americans with the electronic help of Mother Hen back in Fisherman Cove’s Virginia notice another group nearby. All hell breaks out leaving everyone dead outside the bus except Bug Guy and Scorpion; inside only seventeen years old Tristan Wagner survives.

The two men and the teen begin a harrowing trek with an angry enemy waiting for them at several points. In Virginia, Venice (Mother Hen), Gail and Father Dom gather information as to who set up their field agents leading to the massacre of the church missionaries. The evidence points to a highly placed CIA operative, a powerful Mexican drug cartel chief and the Crystal Palace Cathedral. Grave knows his thirst for revenge will wait until he and Boxer safely delivers the only surviving “Precious Cargo” to his family.

The latest Jonathan Grave thriller (see Hostage Zero and No Mercy) is an incredible action-packed tale that grips the audience from start to finish. Fast-paced throughout, fans will enjoy this tale as someone has murdered innocent civilians to set a trap for his or her real target.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Next Target-Nikki Arana

The Next Target

Nikki Arana

David C. Cook, Jun 1 2012, $14.99

ISBN 9780781404310

Her Uncle condemns Sabirah for disgracing their Muslim family when she embraced Jesus. He kills her while planning to find the identity of the Christian who corrupted his niece because that infidel must die too.

Widow ESL teacher Austia mourns the murder of her friend and student Sabirah. She hires Zaki as a translator as she teaches Muslim immigrants to speak English while also trying to reach out to help Muslim females assimilate. However, Austia fears she made a mistake when she employed Zaki as she believes he has ties to a Muslim terrorist cell that wants her dead as an infidel leading Muslims away from the true religion. Zaki is an undercover FBI agent trying to penetrate the terrorists in order to destroy them from within. He fears for his caring employer and wants to keep her safe, but cannot jeopardize his mission as intervening would do; while her and the women she helps become targets from Muslim fundamentalists.

This is a fabulous Christian romantic suspense that grips readers because Nikki Arana insures the followers of Christianity, Islam and Judaism are treated with tolerance and respect regardless of which religion a person follows. Using her experiences from her real-life ministry A Voice for the Persecuted Ms. Arana provides a strong storyline that is action-packed from the moment her family kills Sabirah IAW Sharia law and never slows down until a final confrontation. The heroine is The Next Target while the agent falling in love with her feels torn between government duty and his heart and soul.

Harriet Klausner

The Demands- Mark Billingham

The Demands

Mark Billingham

Mulholland/Little Brown, Jun 12 2012, $24.99

ISBN: 9780316126632

Several months ago, Amin Akhtar tuned himself in to Detective Inspector Tom Thorne for having killed a boy in what he claimed was self-defense. Shockingly, Amin received an eight-year sentence. In a detention facility, someone attacked and injured Amin. He went to the hospital and soon afterward authorities inform the lad’s father convenience store owner Mr. Akhtar that his son died a few months ago from an overdose of drugs.

Despondent Mr. Akhtar believes his beloved Amin was murdered or died from negligence. Already irate over the unfair sentencing, he fails to persuade anyone to probe what really happened to his child. Mother of a one year old, Detective Helen Weeks enters the store to pick up her daily candy bar. Mr. Akhtar holds her and another patron hostage. His demand is that Thorne investigate what happened to Amin.

The latest Detective Inspector Tom Thorne police procedural (see Death Message and Bloodline) is a great thriller, which takes place over three harrowing days. Thorne’s investigation is top rate as reverse engineers the known facts to determine why Amin was at the original crime scene so as to better understand that motive and seek links to his death, if any. The convenience store scene is a fabulous psychological counterpoint to Thorne’s inquiry. Readers will realize how little parents truly know or perhaps choose not to acknowledge about their offspring as Thorne methodically works the case while time is running out on the hostages.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Black & White-Raymond Benson

Black & White

Raymond Benson

Oceanview, May 30 2012, $25.95

ISBN: 9781608090419

In the present fortyish Martin Talbot finds an 8mm film dated 1959 inside a strongbox given to him by his "Uncle" Thomas that belongs to his Alzheimer’s ill septuagenarian mother Judy, a resident of the Woodlands Nursing Home in Riverwoods, Illinois. However, Martin learns of a second copy when the apparent filmmaker's son demands payments or else he will go to the Feds as the FBI wanted the Black Stiletto. At about the same time he deals with blackmail, in New York City Martin’s daughter Gina is viciously attacked.

In 1959 Judy Cooper as the Black Stiletto challenges the deadly heroin king of Harlem when her martial arts instructor Soichiro’s teenage daughter Isuzu becomes a prisoner in a narcotics den. She invades the place to mount a rescue while planning to bring justice to the owner Carl Purdy. At the same time a filmmaker threatens to reveal her alter-ego to the media unless she pays him.

This exciting thriller moves back and forth between five decades as in the present Martin watches the film and reads his mom’s dairy, and deals with the blackmailer and his daughter’s assault; while in 1959 Judy battles drug dealers and a sleazy filmmaker. The story line is over the top of the old Yankee Stadium but is exciting fun to read as a young female heroine kicks butt.

Harriet Klausner

Photo Finish-John McEvoy

Photo Finish

John McEvoy

Poisoned Pen, Jun 5 2012, $24.95

ISBN 9781464200151

County Cork bookmaker Niall Hanratty calls his friend Jack Doyle in Chicago. He asks Jack to become an agent to seventeen year old Irish jockey Mickey Sheehan, who Niall says is as talented as her brother Kieran except she won’t throw races. Though he has no experience as an agent, he’s been around the track too many times and is between gigs so Jack agrees. He meets Mickey and her older sister Nora at O’Hare while Jack reels from the fact his client is a girl.

Jack introduces the sisters to trainer Ralph Tenuta at nearby Heartland Downs. The trainer has problems with his fired highly functional mean-spirited alcoholic veterinarian Eric Allgauer who also seems to desire destroying Ingrid McGuire, known for her communication skills with horses. Jack and his friend mob connected Moe Kellman buy Plotkin who is ridden by Mickey. Meanwhile someone is drugging the horses leading to Jack investigating to insure his jockey on his horse has a safe successful ride in the million dollar Heartland Downs Futurity.

The latest Jack Doyle turf mystery (see Close Call and The Significant Seven) is an entertaining amateur sleuth with the prime concentration on the track. Fast-paced, fans will know Jack is a sure bet as he looks into the threats to his friend Ralph and the drugging scandal while his tender relationships with the Sheehan sister soften the in your face protagonist.

Harriet Klausner

Bonereapers-Jeanne Matthews


Jeanne Matthews

Poisoned Pen, Jun 5 2012, $24.95

ISBN 9781590586204

Anthropologist Dinah Pelerin is one of an American contingent delivering seeds to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault in Longyearbyen, Norway; just six hundred miles from the Pole. Also among the American group to the “Doomsday Vault” are United States Senator Colt Sheridan (from Montana) who as a wheat famer plans a White House run, his Norwegian born wife Erika, his biggest supporter Tillcorp Industries agribusiness CEO Jake Mahler, and American Senators Keyes of Massachusetts and Frye of Hawaii; as well as high ranking Norwegian officials like the agricultural minister. An incident occurs at the press conference as a protestor goes after the senators with a laser gun blinding a Norwegian official while shouting about the death gene.

Dinah wonders why she gave up tropical Hawaii to spend December inside of the Arctic Circle as zero is a heat wave in this tundra. Two homicides occur and attempts on Dinah’s life also happen. She knows sh*t goes downhill even amidst the permafrost, which means as the lowest person visiting Longyearbyen, she is the most likely left carrying the guilt as she understands the political industrial complex always insures the low ball takes the hit. Not one to wait for the crap to hit her, Dinah investigates.

The third Dinah Pelerin amateur sleuth (see Bones of Contention and Bet Your Bones) is an engaging whodunit. The storyline occurs in an intriguing location while focused on the fascinating controversy of genetically engineered food and the debate over placing these seeds inside the Doomsday Vault. The whodunit is nicely handled, but it is the agribusiness corporations with Congressional support trying to gain control of the seed bank that makes for a strong entry.

Harriet Klausner

Target: Tinos-Jeffrey Siger

Target: Tinos

Jeffrey Siger

Poisoned Pen, Jun 5 2012, $24.95

ISBN 9781590589786

When two gypsies are immolated on Tinos, Special Crimes Division Chief Inspector Andreas Kaldis and his boss, Greece’s Minister of Public Order Spiros Renatis, head to the Aegean Sea pilgrimage island to investigate what appears to be a hate crime. His fiancée Lila is outraged with Andreas leaving on a case with less than a week to their marriage on Mykonos.

The Greek governmental leadership wants the investigation stopped as they believe the country cannot afford further bad press at a time when tourism is down and the financial crisis international news. Thus Renatis orders Kaldis to end his inquiry. Kaldis, his chief assistant Yianni Kouros and Cyclades chief homicide investigator Tassos Stamatos continue to work the case that spins into diverse interests including the Albanian mob, the growing Gypsy presence on the island and a cult with a two hundred years old tenet.

The latest Chief Inspector Andreas Kaldis Greek police procedural (see Prey on Patmos, Assassins of Athens and Murder in Mykonos) is a great tale as the whodunit and the “Greek Lourdes” island make for a winning combination. Kaldis is terrific as the most feared cop in Greece, but he fears what Lila will do to him if he fails to hustle back like yesterday. Action-packed fans will relish this trip to the Aegean with Kaldis as our tour guide.

Harriet Klausner

Bad Faith-Robert K. Tanenbaum

Bad Faith

Robert K. Tanenbaum

Gallery/Pocket, Jun 5 2012, $26.00

ISBN 9781451635522

After learning the facts about the painful death of ten year old Micah Ellis, New York County District Attorney Roger “Butch” Karp prosecutes the parents Nonie and David Ellis for reckless manslaughter because they denied their son treatment for cancer on religious grounds. As God’s emissary Reverend C.G. Westlund is outraged at the DA’s affront to the Lord’s will as he led the Ellis family with their prayers for a divine miracle at his End of Days Reformation Church of Jesus Christ Resurrected.

At the same time Federal prisoner Nadya “Ajmaani” Malovo informs law enforcement officials about planned terrorist attacks. She also works on her escape fueled by her need to destroy Karp. Reverend Westlund and his followers protest the arrests of two their flock, but he conceals the fact that Nonie signed over life insurance taken out on her child to the church and its leader without her husband’s knowledge. Attorney Marlene Ciampi, Karp’s wife, investigates Westlund’s past in Memphis.

The latest Karp-Ciampi tale (see Outrage) is an action-packed in your face thriller. The storyline is fast-paced from the moment Karp chooses to prosecute. However, making Westlund into an avaricious villain instead of a deeply devout believer in prayer rather than medical intervention detracts from the novel as Bad Faith becomes a standard legal thriller rather than a complex First Amendment case.

Harriet Klausner

Drop Dead Chocolate-Jessica Beck

Drop Dead Chocolate

Jessica Beck

Minotaur, Apr 24 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9781250001054

In April Springs, North Carolina elections are coming soon. Mayor Cam Hamilton has been in office for years having won reelection numerous times. This election he has no opponent. Dorothy Hart is incensed with the mayor over winning the bid for a tax payer-funded job. Her daughter Suzanne Hart, owner of Donut Hearts, pushes her mom to file as a candidate, which she does. The election won’t take place because someone brutally kills the incumbent in the office that was going to be Dorothy’s election headquarters.

The police chief recuses himself from the homicide investigation because he is dating Dorothy. Suzanne’s boyfriend Jake leads the inquiry as there is no other choice with experience available and he is one degree further removed from the homicide than the chief is. He informs Suzanne they will not be able to see each other until the case is resolved. Knowing her mother is a prime suspect, Suzanne, as she has done before (see Killer Crullers and Sinister Sprinkles), decides to investigate. She quickly learns the late Hamilton demanded bribes and kickbacks among his multitude of nefarious activities; this leads to multiple suspects with a motive to end the extortion.

Suzanne acts like natural born investigator whose skills match those of her highly regarded experienced boyfriend. Once the sub-genre fan accepts her need to prove her mom’s innocence in spite of knowing Jake is great at his job (implies she distrusts her boyfriend), her actions are plausible and logical as she talks about the case with her suspect list in a shocking news manner. This Donut Shop Mystery is a charming Carolina culinary cozy and readers will enjoy visiting April Springs.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Death and Transfiguration-Gerald Elias

Death and Transfiguration

Gerald Elias

Minotaur, Jun 19 2012, $26.99

ISBN 9780312678357

Fortyish violinist Scheherazade “Sherry” O’Brien asks blind violin teacher Daniel Jacobus to help with her obtaining the permanent position of concertmaster at the prestigious Harmonium Orchestra as their new concert hall is being built in lower Manhattan. She has held the position on a temporary basis. Jacobus refuses her plea for assistance. The music director Vaclav Herza escaped Czechoslovakia in 1956 and over the decades has earned his reputation as an odious despotic legend. After harassing her from the moment she filled the position, Herza abruptly fires Sherry though she was the obvious best choice as the concertmaster. Distraught, Sherry commits suicide. The already upset orchestra members struggling with contract negotiations go hysterical with rage at egomaniacal Herza who they hold culpable.

Feeling guilt and remorse, Jacobus, accompanied by his sighted friends (Nathaniel Williams, Max Furukawa and Martin Lilburn) investigate Herza’s past in Prague and Tokyo. At the same time the angry contract negotiations and the nasty auditions continue.

The fourth Daniel Jacobus amateur sleuth (see Death and the Maiden, The Devil's Trill and Danse Macabre) is an entertaining mystery as the cantankerous protagonist believes he has one more major addition to his redemption list. Humorous, readers obtain a look behind the scenes at a major orchestra. Still, it is virtuoso Jacobus who makes this a fun tale as the acrimonious violinist probes Herza’s history.

Harriet Klausner

Blind Goddess-Anne Holt; Tom Geddes (translator)

Blind Goddess

Anne Holt; Tom Geddes (translator)

Scribner, Jun 5 2012, $15.00

ISBN 9781451634761

In Oslo, thirtyish civil lawyer Karen Borg finds the dead body while walking her dog. At about the same time the cops bring in a dazed man wandering the streets with blood on him; he refuses to speak. Special Branch police attorney Hakon Sand observes while Inspector Hanne Wilhelmsen interviews the man and learns he is Han van der Lerch, a student from the Netherlands who confesses to killing the drug dealer. Hakon tells his friend Karen that the Dutch suspect wants her as his lawyer though she has not practiced that form of law since her exams eight years ago and she is a witness having found the corpse.

Two days later, someone kills sleazy attorney Hansa Larsen. Sand and Wilhelmsen find a connection between the two homicides. Drugs cop Billy T informs them that on the Oslo streets is a rumor that drug-dealing lawyers are involved in the trafficking, which explains why van der Lerch demanded the civil attorney to defend him; as her reporting the corpse makes her most likely trustful. As the police continue their inquiry, they begin to unravel a web of corruption that permeates all levels of the Norwegian Danish government.

The first actual Wilhelmsen Norwegians police procedural (second after 1222 published first in America when the heroine is retired and wheelchair bound due to a bullet in her spine) is a fabulous investigative thriller as the inspector and the police attorney follow clues that increasingly include highly affluent individuals. Part of the fun of this whodunit is the insight into the criminals discussing the police investigation. Although the prime villain seems a bit disappointing fans will enjoy this entertaining Norwegian Noir.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, April 20, 2012

The Wowzer-Frank Wheeler Jr.

The Wowzer

Frank Wheeler Jr.

Thomas & Mercer, May 1 2012, $14.95

ISBN: 9781612182124

Almost a decade ago in the Ozarks, Madison County sheriff Tom recruited borderline psychopath Jerry as a deputy and to serve as an enforcer for the for the Sanhedrin local drug cartel. He is excellent as muscle as he has no compunctions about breaking joints or killing someone though he never murders unless assigned by Tom to do so.

Jerry’s ten year contract is nearing an end. His plan is to leave the enforcement business which he is unaware of that one just does not retire from the Ozark mob. He is upset that his girlfriend Dr. Maggie who he rescued from a fire has fled Arkansas in fear of him; having read his psychology report. Finally Tom has not provided him with the code to his Swiss bank account that contains his share of the loot; which has Jerry thinking his boss may have plans to retire him in a casket to insure he takes his secrets to the grave when he goes out on his last mission.

This is a dark gory rural noir starring a psychopath who may be losing control of his inner demon or perhaps as he believes is actually gaining control. Action-packed with vividly gruesome scenes, surprisingly in contrast, fans will also see inside the head of a cold blooded killer who understands right from wrong just differently from a neurotypical individual. The Wowzer will wow sub-genre readers; just don’t read on a full stomach.

Harriet Klausner

The Last Kind Words-Tom Piccirilli

The Last Kind Words

Tom Piccirilli

Bantam, Jun 12 2012, $26.00

ISBN 9780553592481

Second-story thief Terrier Rand is a chip off the old block as his family consists of thieves. He quit his criminal activity when his older brother Collie murdered eight people. Terry left Long Island becoming a rancher in the west.

Five years later with his sibling facing execution in a few days, Terry returns home at his brother’s request. Collie swears he committed seven of the cold-blooded killings but not that of Becky Clarke. Though he knows he should return to the ranch instead of getting involved with the Rand brood, Terry investigates the homicides. He begins to find evidence that supports Collie's assertion that a killer used the murders to hide another homicide.

This is a dark noir that hooks the audience due to the interplay between the extended hard boiled crime family members especially the chats between the two brothers. Action-packed yet with a powerful cast, fans will relish this strong whodunit as Terry fears the truth will not free him, his family or the woman he left behind when he fled Long island; instead he considers leaving it buried.

Harriet Klausner

Into the Darkest Corner-Elizabeth Haynes

Into the Darkest Corner

Elizabeth Haynes

Harper, Jun 5 2012, $24.99

ISBN 9780062197252

In Lancaster, Catherine Bailey enjoys her swinging singles lifestyle as do her friends. By 2007, Catherine Bailey lives in fear as she cannot leave her apartment without an anxiety attack and she refuses to speak with her neighbors.

In 2003, Catherine meets charismatic hunk Lee Brightman. He charms her and her friends. However, what started out as a passionate loving relationship begins to turn ugly as a darker angry Lee emerges from behind the façade of a caring charmer. Lee begins to isolate his lover from her family and friends and increasingly controls her activities. Catherine’s friends believe she is crazy when she complains as they only see the caring charmer. She becomes obsessively desperate to escape her warden. In 2005, he is sent to jail for an assault. By 2007, Cathy still diligently checks her locks several times when at home. She meets Stuart Richardson, a psychologist neighbor living in the same building as she does. They become friends as he helps her heal. However, she panics when she learns Lee is being freed and she sees her former BFF Sylvia Jane who testified in the 2005 trial against her and in favor of Lee. At her flat, she finds items slightly rearranged an old Lee trick to keep her unbalanced. Cathy believes he is back, but though frightened she is not paralyzed as she was a few years ago because she is not totally alone.

This is a great gripping psychological thriller that focuses on the crippling aspects of abuse. The prime players are fully developed with the changes from happy Catherine to crippled Cathy appallingly frightening. Fast-paced, this is a stunning scary suspense starring degrees of obsession.

Harriet Klausner

The Inquisitor’s Key-Jefferson Bass

The Inquisitor’s Key

Jefferson Bass

Morrow, May 8 2012, $25.95

ISBN: 9780061806797

Miranda Lovelady is in France excavating a recently discovered chamber beneath the Palace of the Popes in Avignon. She finds a stone chest inscribed with the message that inside lie the bones of Jesus of Nazareth. Using a ploy, she gets her lover and teacher Dr. Bill Brockton to leave his Tennessee Body Farm for France. The two forensic scientists believe that in all likelihood, these remains are a fake, as Chaucer pointed out with The Pardoner’s Tale, the Middle Ages had a thriving business.

To their amazement, the early analysis supports the stone’s claim that this is the remains of Jesus or at least someone who died in a similar fashion two millennia ago. Brockton also analyzes the Shroud of Turin. However, killers try to murder the pair while a true believer wants the bones as a means to begin the End of Time with the Second Coming.

Putting aside how Lovelady got Brocton to drop an autopsy to rush to Europe aside as improbable unless she was insane, the latest Body Farm forensic thriller (see The Bone Thief and The Bone Yard) is an exhilarating entry that focuses on the potential remains of Jesus. When the storyline centers on the science and Christian history, it is incredibly well written and fascinating; when the plot turns into a shoot en up action thriller it is exciting but ordinary. Still fans will appreciate Brockton examining the Shroud and looking at two thousand year old remains.

Harriet Klausner

Trapeze-Simon Mawer


Simon Mawer

Other Press, May 1 2012, $15.95

ISBN: 9781590515273

During WWII the British Special Operations Executive drafts nineteenth years old Marian Sutro to work undercover in occupied France due to her being a native French speaker. Marian attends spy school and commando training. When deemed ready by her controllers, she is parachuted into Nazi held territory before making her way to Paris to join the WORDSMITH resistance.

Marian also has a second mission given to her by another top secret agency since she has a connection to a key scientist working for the Germans. She is to persuade those researchers working on the atomic bomb to defect. However, her contact with the scientists is noted because the Nazis watch diligently every move they make and by default their visitors make.

This is an engaging WWII drama in which a good part of the first half of the book sets the fascinating genuine historical stage of the thirty nine women sent by SOE into enemy territory. Though that opening act is slow but interesting, the action picks up once Marian goes to France even as there remains plenty of 1940s tidbits. The heroine’s risky and naive escapades are exciting as she works behind enemy lines on her two missions.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Tote Bags and Toe Tags-Dorothy Howell

Tote Bags and Toe Tags

Dorothy Howell

Kensington, May 29 2012, $23.00

ISBN 9780758253323

In Los Angeles, Haley Randolph excitedly tells her BFF Marcie Hanover that she graduated from UM. Haley’s boyfriend Ty Cameron of the Holt Corporation arrives. Marcie informs him that Haley graduated from UM. Ty’s co-worker (and Haley’s rival) Sarah Covington is stunned to learn she got a degree from Michigan. Haley fails to correct them that UM stands for the University of Mixology. Ty arranges a celebration attended by friends and family. Sarah arranges for her to get a job with benefits at Dempsey Rowland assuming she clears the security background check.

On her first day on the job, Haley finds security chief Violet Hamilton dead in the office of her supervisor Constance Addison. While Constance screams at her accusing her of murder and messing up her office, Haley calmly calls 911. Making matters worse LAPD Detectives Madison and Shuman lead the investigation; Haley has a suspect history with the former. Knowing she has a motive and distrusting the cops to focus on anyone else, Haley investigates for a designer bag and the real killer who has murdered again.

The latest Haley Randolph amateur sleuth (see Clutches and Curses, Purses and Poison, and Handbags and Homicides) is a zany affair as she learns the Fixx is right that “one thing leads to another.” The storyline is fast-paced and seems on the edge of out of control, but Dorothy Howell keeps it amusingly going. Filled with humor, fans will enjoy Haley’s latest corpse finding as she asserts that Sir Walter Scott is right when he wrote in Marmion “Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.”

Harriet Klausner

The Risk Agent-Ridley Pearson

The Risk Agent

Ridley Pearson

Putnam, Jun 19 2012, $25.95

ISBN 9780399158834

The Rutherford Risk firm performs security for the humongous Berthold Group construction conglomerate. When two employers of Berthold are kidnapped on the streets of Shanghai in daylight, Rutherford Risk hires city based importer John Knox and forensic accountant Grace Chu to rescue them as the company knows the risk of sleuthing, an illegal activity in China. Knox accepts the job because he needs the money to provide a good life for his learning disabled brother Tommy and besides one of the abductees is a friend Clete Danner; Grace agrees to take on the job because the other victim is her friend Lu Hao.

Each brings uniqueness to the pairing as they follow the money trail. As time runs out on the kidnappers’ deadline, every step closer to saving the lives of the missing pair proves dangerous to Knox and Chu. Yet while he worries about what will happen to Tommy if he dies, he trusts no one not even their client or his partner; she shares his distrusting mantra. However, not relying on one another proves even more perilous.

This is a great suspense thriller as Ridley Pearson provides a dynamic look at Shanghai. The support cast is sold, but it is the refreshing duet of opposites in personality (he believes charge the hill while she thinks finesse is smarter) who understands that as a team they can succeed, but first comes trust something neither gives away willingly. This is a great opening act as the activities of Knox and Chu give fans a vivid picture of Shanghai.

Harriet Klausner

The Azalea Assault-Alyse Carlson

The Azalea Assault

Alyse Carlson

Berkley, Jun 5 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780425251300

In Roanoke, Virginia, Camellia Harris loves her life. She and her boyfriend sports reporter Rob adore each other and Cam shares a two floor house with her best friend Annie Schultz. Finally she loves her work as events coordinator for the Garden Delights magazine.

Garden Delights plans to feature The Patrick House Gardens with renowned photographer Jean-Jacques Georges taking the shots. When he arrives at his welcoming bash, charismatic egomaniacal Jean-Jacques alienates everyone with his complaints and his female butt groping. Soon afterward he dies from poison in the catered meal by Spoons restaurant owned by Cam’s sister Petunia. Not long afterward magazine photographer editor Ian demands the shoot be cancelled, but Cam suggests a nepotistic alternative, her sister Petunia. Ian becomes the second homicide victim. The police arrest Petunia’s husband former con Nick the prime chef at Spoons and Annie for the murders. Rob and Cam investigate, but she learns how many people found the victims despicable and wanted the photographers dead.

With a nod to the Garden Mystery series by Anthony Eglin, the alpha A Garden Society Mystery is a fun amateur sleuth starring a likable caring heroine who relates in the third person her investigation while also providing a delightful tour of the city. Cam’s rationale for sleuthing is her love for her sister and her best friend. Although the storyline can slow down at times, cozy fans and garden aficionados will enjoy Alyse Carlson entertaining opening act.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Bloodman-Robert Pobi


Robert Pobi

Thomas & Mercer, May 15 2012, $14.95

ISBN: 9781612182131

After being away from home for almost three decades FBI Special Agent Jake Cole returns to Montauk, Long Island though he prefers not to deal with his abusive addicted dad Jacob Coleridge, Sr., a renowned artist now suffering from Alzheimer’s dementia. Once loathing his control freak widower father, Jake is apathetic towards him, but also feels obligated to at least put in order the SOB’s personal affairs.

His childhood house is a pigsty strewn with thousands of strange nightmarish paintings, numerous empty bottles and tons of garbage everywhere. Feeling self-pity, he calls his wife Kay Rivers and little Jeremy to ask how they are and to get encouragement from her. Southampton Sheriff Mike Hauser calls to ask Agent Cole for help on a case five miles from his home as a woman and a child were skinned to death. The case brings back horrid memories for Jake who recognizes the murder scene as being the signature of “him.”

Cole (the entire Dante’s Inferno is his body tattoo) is a fascinating protagonist who makes for a dark twisting psychological suspense police procedural as a kick butt cop who takes no prisoners while on a case. His uncanny ability to visualize what happened makes him a valuable investigator but his demons make him a potential liability. A hurricane hammering Long Island adds to Cole’s sense of dismay as he works to end the serial killing reign of terror by the human skinner Bloodman.

Harriet Klausner

Dead Man Waltzing-Ella Barrick

Dead Man Waltzing

Ella Barrick

Obsidian, Jun 5 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780451237347

In Old Town Alexandria, Stacy Graysin, co-owner of Graysin Motion ballroom dance studio, ended her two-year engagement to her cheating partner Rafe Acosta when she saw him doing a horizontal number. Two months later Rafe was murdered in the studio and she was ASPD Detective Lissy’s only suspect (see Quickstep to Murder). Stacy’s new partner is Rafe’s half-brother Tau. Because of his attraction to her, he refuses to sell his business interests in the studio. She feels an attraction to him also, but Stacey refuses to act on her feelings.

Lissy arrives at the studio demanding to see instructor Maurice Goldberg who failed to show up for a class. He tells her that the legendary grand dame of ballroom dancing Corinne Blakely, who has pushed hard for this to be an Olympic Dance Sport, was poisoned while dining with Maurice who happened to be her ex-husband. Stacy realizes she should stay out of this homicide investigation, but distrusts Lissy to look beyond Maurice so feeling a debt of gratitude to her employee; she begins an inquiry to clear her friend’s name.

Dead Man Waltzing is a charming cozy told in the first person perspective by Stacy. This enables the reader to better understand her motive to investigate especially having learned the risk of doing so from her previous inquiry to clear her name. The investigation is creative as there are plenty suspects for the heroine to tango with. Additionally, the audience obtains a deep look at running a dance studio and what a professional instructor must do to teach a myriad of dances. This is a lively amateur sleuth mystery that will have readers wanting more dance numbers. starring Stacy.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Viva La Madness-J.J. Connolly

Viva La Madness

J.J. Connolly

Overlook, May 10 21012, $25.95

ISBN: 9781590208595

In 2001, the former drug dealer has retired. His plan is to stay below the radar screen while enjoying the sun in the West Indies. Though he has no plans to return to his capitalism days, his retirement ends when his friend and former business associate Mister Mortimer offers him a venture that he could not refuse.

Before long he is entrenched in London’s criminal world and fleeing Venezuelan drug cartel killers in Mayfair. However his biggest problem is not drug dealers, money launderers, financial fraudulent bankers and trained killers; it is the daughter of a South American drug lord who seduces the no longer retiree as he finally found something worth leaving the Caribbean for; if he lives long enough to enjoy her.

The zany sequel to Layer Cake is an over the top of Big Ben crime parody. Incredibly fast-paced and filled with witty sarcasm and asides, Viva La Madness is a wild contemporary crime caper that satirizes the laissez faire gurus who should demand the market place fix the illegal drug problem rather than a government sponsored war. The storyline stars the nameless antihero who knows he should have stuck to early retirement before he becomes permanently retired under the ground by the underground.

Harriet Klausner

Don't Cry, Tai Lake-Qiu Xiaolong

Don't Cry, Tai Lake

Qiu Xiaolong

Minotaur, May 8 2012, $24.99

ISBN: 9780312550646

Comrade Secretary Zhao sends Shanghai Police Special Case Chief Inspector Chen Cao for a week of R&R at the exclusive Wuxi Cadre Recreation Center on the shores of Tai Lake. He meets environmental engineer Shanshan at her Uncle Wang’s Wuxi eatery. They talk about polluted water from the Wuxi Number One Chemical company and other factories, polluted food and reading English. Director Xiao who manages the facility thinks Chen is doing surveillance and offer him all types of amenities.

A factory incident has Shanshan hustling while Chen, attracted to her, helps her. However, when Liu a factory chief is brutally murdered, Shanshan is considered a prime suspect. However, Internal Security interest quickly turns to Jiang who feuded with Liu. With help from Sergeant Huang, Chen, walking on egg shells, investigates.

This is a terrific Inspector Chen whodunit (see The Mao Case) as readers obtain a close up look at the cost of the Chinese rapid industrialization. The investigation is well conceived even though it uses too much happenchance. However, it is China that stars as Chen comes to this once pristine but now polluted resort because a superheavyweight sent him.

Harriet Klausner

The Emerald Storm-William Dietrich

The Emerald Storm

William Dietrich

Harper, May 8 2012, $25.99

ISBN: 9780061989209

By 1803, adventurer Ethan Gage is ready for some domestication with his wife Astiza and their three years old son Harry after their latest escapades when he rescued them in Tripoli and escaped in that lunatic Futon’s sub (see The Barbary Pirates). He thinks he can pull off retirement due to a valuable stolen emerald he possesses. However, renegade secret French policeman Leon Martel steals the jewel and kidnaps Harry to keep Gage at a distance.

Gage delays retirement as he mounts a rescue of his child with his beautiful wife ably assisting him through her feminine wiles. However complications mount as the French, English and Americans jockey to manipulate Franklin’s worst behaved protégé with each seeking the rumored lost stolen treasure of Montezuma and control of a potential slave revolt in Saint-Domingue.

This is an over the top of the Jura Mountains early nineteenth century thriller starring a swashbuckling avaricious protagonist. Gage is at his best using experimental design equipment as he works double and triple crosses and deftly maneuvers through agents from a host of nations as well as Toussaint L’Overture. This is a fun early nineteenth century non-stop adventure tale.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, April 16, 2012

The Anatomy of Death-Felicity Young

The Anatomy of Death

Felicity Young

Berkley, May 1 2012, $15.00

ISBN: 9780425247297

Dr. Dody McCleland is the first female autopsy surgeon as few women practice medicine in England let alone have the dead as patients. Ironically, in spite of her unusual vocation, she and her sister Florence disagree on how to obtain women’s rights. Florence prefers showy demonstrations by her Bloomsbury Division of the Women’s Suffrage and Political Union while Dody believes methodical proof of competency is the better method.

New Scotland Yard Superintendent Shepherd and DCI Pike arrive at St. Thomas’ Mortuary after a rally led by Florence and others turn violent; a death occurred. However, due to a conflict of interest Dody is unable to conduct the autopsy of the victim because Catherine Cartwright is a close friend of her sibling. Still Dody examines the corpse and concludes someone beat Catherine to death. She quietly informs Pike, who detests brute force against those that are weaker. He investigates while Shepherd wants him removed from the department in order to close the case.

This is an entertaining historical mystery that deftly merges the turn of the twentieth century suffragettes’ movement with the early days of forensic detecting. Dody is a super protagonist as she breaks into an all-male field while fabulous Florence the rebel with a cause plots rallies over tea. Although the whodunit is cleverly devised, that taut plot feels secondary to the salad days of women’s liberation.

Harriet Klausner

A Deadly Grind-Victoria Hamilton

A Deadly Grind

Victoria Hamilton

Berkley, May 1 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780425248010

In Michigan siblings Rebecca and Jaymie Leighton attend an auction in which the latter buys a vintage 1920s Hoosier Kitchen Cabinet over the objection of her older sister who insists their Queensville house is already too cluttered though she resides in nearby Ontario. Brett Delgado, who is staying at the next door Jones B&B, helps Jaymie get the heavy cabinet onto her porch.

That night, the tired sisters are awakened by a loud noise. They investigate only to find a corpse of a well-dressed male near the cabinet and some purchased china shattered. Police Detective Christian leads the homicide investigation in which John Doe victim’s head was bashed in by the cabinet’s meat grinder. Unable to remain out of the inquiry, Jaymie and Hopalong her three-legged Yorkie Poo investigate the murder.

The first A Vintage Kitchen Mystery is an exciting regional amateur sleuth. The investigation is clever though Jaymie’s reason for doing it seems weak while her relationship with her sister enhances the whodunit. With a solid support cast, a murder most likely tied to the Hoosier, and a recipe for Queen Elizabeth Cake, fans will enjoy this fun Michigan cozy.

Harriet Klausner

The Solitary House-Lynn Shepherd

The Solitary House

Lynn Shepherd

Delacorte, May 1 2012, $26.00

ISBN: 9780345532428

In 1850 London, powerful sly lawyer Edward Tulkinghorn hires Metropolitan Police Officer Charles Maddox to uncover the identity of a nasty author of acrimonious writings aimed at merchant banker Sir Julius Cremorne and to insure the notes end. Charles is stunned by his sudden good fortune as ever since his superior Bucket fired him for insubordination he has struggled to eke out a living.

To help him on his inquiry Charles turns to his brilliant but increasingly demented Great Uncle Maddox the “thief taker” on what they each assume will be an easy case. Instead as he stumbles along a conspiracy of wealth, Charles is unaware that the diabolical Edward has a hidden agenda.

Paying homage to Charles Dickens’ Bleak House, Lynn Shepherd writes a delightful atmospheric mid nineteenth century thriller. The cast makes the suspense work as readers will empathize with a frustrated Maddox struggling with his deteriorating mind and appreciate his mentoring relationship with his nephew. Tulkinghorn is a brilliant shadowy manipulator as he has several of the players including his hired detective (and readers wanting to know what game he plays) dangling from strings. With an anonymous narrator adding a sense of doom, fans will enjoy this taut tale as even a young Ripper makes an appearance.

Harriet Klausner

Hearse and Buggy-Laura Bradford

Hearse and Buggy

Laura Bradford

Berkley Prime Crime, Jun 5 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780425251317

Though Claire Weatherly was married for five years to a prominent businessman, his neglect and apathy towards her left her feeling deserted and alone. Claire divorced her spouse accepted her Aunt Diane’s invitation to stay at her Sleep Heavenly Bed & Breakfast in Amish Heavenly, Pennsylvania. Claire opens up Heavenly Treasures selling Amish items. As she begins making friends like her assistant Esther King and the next door owner of the Shoe Fly Bake Shoppe Ruth Miller, Claire feels she belongs for the first time in a long time.

Claire’s contentment ends when she finds the murdered corpse of the former store owner odious Walter Snow behind her shop. Leading the homicide investigation is Police Detective Jakob Fisher; who is shunned by his Amish community including his family due to his violent vocation. The prime suspect is Eli Miller, who threatened to harm Snow if he did not return money the thief stole from the Amish when he sold their furniture in consignment. At the same time someone vandalizes gentle Ruth’s bakery. Feeling she owes a debt of gratitude for the warm welcome, Claire investigates the homicide and the vandalism though she has never done anything remotely like this before.

Hearse and Buggy is an engaging amateur sleuth that interweaves Amish society with an enjoyable whodunit. Claire is a terrific protagonist whose wonderful investigation enables readers to obtain insight into the Amish culture. Although Claire’s reason for amateur sleuthing is weak, fans will enjoy her inquiry as Laura Bradford provides a delightful Amish cozy

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Under Oath-Margaret McLean

Under Oath

Margaret McLean

Forge, Apr 24, 2012, $25.99

ISBN: 9780765328137

In Charlestown, Massachusetts nasty hood Billy Malone stands on trial for the murder of artist Trevor Shea. Defending the viscous criminal is attorney Buddy Clancy while prosecutor Annie Fitzgerald argues for the Commonwealth. Assisting Annie is Boston homicide detective Mike Callahan who believes Malone has killed many people including the painter whose renditions of murder scenes are harrowing.

The case turns ugly as witnesses are murdered and the jury wants to leave but not in a body bag as one of them keeps leaking secrets that frighten the others who fear they will be targeted next. Annie and Mike believe the key to getting this scum off the street is Trevor’s painting, but his brother Chris refuses to cooperate. The verdict remains up in the air as both sides present their case.

In Under Fire, Clancy was the protagonist; in Under Oath he plays second fiddle to Annie. The courtroom scenes are superb while the streets of Charlestown add to this wonderful legal thriller. Both Annie and Mike lose perspective as each accepts the premise that the end justifies the mean in terms of insuring a violent vicious psychopath is locked away. Although the Honorable Judge Conrad J. Killam seems to allow too many shenanigans, readers will enjoy this fine courtroom drama.

Harriet Klausner

The Body in the Boudoir-Katherine Hall Page

The Body in the Boudoir

Katherine Hall Page

Morrow, May 1 2012, $23.99

ISBN: 9780062065483

In 1990 swinging single Faith Sibley enjoys the good life in New York City as her catering business Have Faith is a huge success. At an event she caters, Faith meets Reverend Tom Fairchild. As the daughter and granddaughter of clergy, he is the anathema of what she wants in the man; yet Faith is attracted to Tom and him to her. They become engaged.

He takes her to meet his Massachusetts family; some of whom fail to welcome her into the roost. Meanwhile her great-Uncle Sky offers his Long Island mansion to host the wedding. Faith’s financial advisor sister Hope asks her to uncover who’s stealing her clients. At the same time Faith’s former employee, Francesca, pleads with her to fool her family back in Italy into believing she is in England instead of New York City. All those are minor distractors compared to someone who emphatically wants to stop the nuptials by killing the bride.

Though you know the outcome, the latest Faith Fairchild whodunit (see The Body in the Gazebo) is a great tale that uses flashbacks to take the reader back to when the heroine and her future husband meet and decide to marry. Besides preparing for the wedding, Faith deals with her sibling’s mystery; her former employee’s request, and the attempts on her life. Fans will enjoy this entertaining cozy as Faith looks back at a cherished almost deadly moment on her life with an ironic epilogue vow.

Harriet Klausner

Quilt Or Innocence-Elizabeth Craig

Quilt Or Innocence

Elizabeth Craig

Obsidian, Jun 5 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780451237330

When Atlanta Folk Art Museum curator Beatrice Coleman retires she moves to the bucolic relatively crime free small town of Dappled Hills, North Carolina. She selected this town because her adult daughter Piper resides there. Beatrice barely moves in when her neighbor Meadow Downey practically kidnaps her; though the woman insists she is on a rescue mission. Meadow introduces Beatrice to the Village Quilter Guild asking her to become the newest member.

Beatrice knows everything about quilts except how to make one. She is welcomed into the guild’s circle and becomes friends with several of them in spite of expecting to be alone. When she and quilter Posy Beck walk in the park, they find the murdered body of sadistic Miss Judith who enjoys hurting and scaring people. Not long afterward, another quilter Miss Sissy is left for dead in her home. While Meadow’s husband Ramsey the police chief investigates Beatrice becomes part of the inquiry when she is whacked on the head while at Miss Sissy’s home. Using her ability to analyze patterns, an irate Beatrice does her own look into the homicide before she or one of the quilters get killed.

Quilt or Innocence is a delightful regional amateur sleuth due to the eccentric quilters like the sisters Savannah and Georgia. Written in the third point of view, fans obtain a taste of small-town Carolina living through the people Beatrice meet starting with Hurricane Meadow. Although the rationale for Beatrice to investigate is soft (a sub-genre hazard), readers will enjoy touring Dappled Hills guided by colorful locals.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, April 13, 2012

Skelton Picnic-Michael Norman

Skelton Picnic

Michael Norman

Poisoned Pen, Apr 3 2012, $14.95

ISBN: 9781590586112

Third generation pot hunters, Rolly and Abigail Rogers enjoy collecting Anasazi artifacts. Their collection contains human remains gathered during their "skeleton picnics" in which the couple desecrates burial sites. When the pair fails to return from their latest scavenger hunt, their concerned neighbor in Kane County, Utah, Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Ranger J.D. Books, investigates.

Books learns that the Rogers' home was burglarized with their artifacts. Their truck is found abandoned at a dig site. Books assumes the burglary and their vanishing is connected though he wonders how that will help him find the missing pair. Kane County Sheriff Charley Sutter assigns rookie deputy Beth Tanner to investigate the Rogers burglary under the tutelage of Books. They track the loot to a pawn shop in St. George and from there to a Navajo with a record while arguing over the ethics of lying to a suspect. They soon find a potential connection to cold cases in which people disappeared into the desert

The second J.D. Books mystery (see On Deadly Ground) is an enjoyable Utah mystery starring an interesting hero whose not one of the sharpest knives in the draw as he finds himself isolated as the prey in the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument and then there is the golf game. The insight into the ethics of law enforcement and generational pot hunters add to the storyline although the solution to the whodunit is somewhat obvious.

Harriet Klausner

In Dreams-Robert Logan

In Dreams

Robert Logan

The Peppertree Press, Feb 10 2012, $25.95

ISBN: 9781614930907

In the Boulder, Colorado area a serial killer murders victims using the same M.O. as a psychopath employed over four decades ago. BPD logically assumes a deranged copycat killer has surfaced.

Near Boulder, Magnolia Creek Middle School history teacher Jack Corbitt undergoes an experimental cancer treatment though the eight previous cases leave him wary. A byproduct of the life-saving technique enables the patient to open a portal to the past where he communicates inside the head of Chronicle beat reporter Maggie Roper, who is investigating the serial killings that occurred forty-one years before Jack receives his treatment. They team up as he begins to realize that the present day killer has the same skills he has and has made contact with a psychopath to commit the identical homicides.

With a nod to the movie Frequency, In Dreams is an exciting psychological suspense that uses telepathy to “merge” that the past and the present. Fast-paced, readers will feel Jack’s sense of foreboding as he fears once his treatment stops his paranormal skill ends too. Robert Logan provides a fabulous thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Private Security-Mallory Kane

Private Security

Mallory Kane

Harlequin Intrigue, May 1 2012, $5.25

ISBN: 9780373696185

The horrible cave in of the Golden Galaxy Casino left six dead. Private investigator Juliana Caprese believes the casino’s builder Michael Delancey is responsible for the tragic collapse that killed her father. She seeks proof. Another investigator John Dawson also looks into the fatal accident that led to his changing his name from Dawson Delancey as his father Michael swears to him he did not cause the tragedy.

Rookie Juliana and veteran John team up on the inquiry as they search for the vanished contractor Randall Knoblock. John saves her life several times as someone tries to kill them. However, Juliana perceives her mentor is hiding something significant from her; she vows to find out what; while he wonders whether his father or another family member wants him dead. As they fall in love, he fears how she will react when she learns he hid the fact that he is son of the man she believes killed her father.

The latest Delancey Dynasty romantic suspense (see Double Edged Detective) is a delightful tale starring two sleuths in love but the tie between their fathers leaves any relationship between them in jeopardy. The whodunit is engaging while the romance is enjoyable though concealing an identity is not a new concept. Fans will appreciate Mallory Kane’s action-packed filled thriller as the “… the truth will set you free”, but does not guarantee happiness if you even live long enough to learn the truth.

Harriet Klausner

Final Sail-Elaine Viets

Final Sail

Elaine Viets

NAL, May 1 2012, $23.95

ISBN: 9780451236746

In Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Violet Zerling insists to Coronado Investigations partners Helen Hawthorne and Phil Sagemont that her stepmother Blossom is killing her much older father Arthur. She says that her dad was healthy until he ate something his second wife fed him before suffering a heart attack and falling into a coma. Helen becomes a minister with a few clicks on the internet so she can minister to Arthur at the Stranahan Medical Center ICU. She pretends to be Arthur’s religious advisor while Phil masquerades as an estate manager.

Phil and yacht Captain Josiah Swingle chatted about a cruise to the fancy Atlantis on the Bahamas. The captain fears a smuggler is on board so he needs a female sleuth acting as a stewardess to catch a crook. Reverend Helen will sail on the Belted Earl owned by Earl Grantham Briggs who invented a lawnmower belt. With the help of Marjorie Flax they work both cases.

The latest Dead-End Job mystery (see Pumped for Murder) is an engaging tale with two interesting investigations. Both cases are well-written and fun to follow as adventures on the Caribbean and in the Sunshine State make for an exciting thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Brownies and Broomsticks-Bailey Cates

Brownies and Broomsticks

Bailey Cates

Obsidian, May 1 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780451236630

Following her fiancé dumping her and tired of being an assistant manager at an Akron, Ohio bakery, Katie Lightfoot accepts the offer to run the Honeybee Bakery owned by her Aunt Lucy and Uncle Ben in Savannah. She looks forward to the opening because working with her relatives will be a delight.

However, though their grand opening is soon, nasty diva Mavis Templeton demands they bake a brunch for the Downtown Business Association meeting now. Afraid the spiteful termagant could ruin them, they give in to her demands. Their effort proves successful, but Mavis only pays half of the agreed upon price. Ben is outraged and lets their first customer know it. Soon afterward, Lucy and Katie notice Mavis in her car with her throat slashed. The police suspect a raging Ben killed her over the bill. His wife and niece, along with the Spellbook Club members, investigate the murdering of the shrew while Lucy explains to Katie that she is a witch as are her friends working the case with them. Combining magic with leg work and helped by two charming hunks (journalist Steve Dawes and firefighter Declan McCarthy), Katie and company hone in on the killer.

The first Magical Bakery Mystery is aptly titled as Bailey Cates bakes a fun blending of Brownies and Broomsticks. The entertaining amateur sleuthing mixes spells with clues as readers believe in the Craft. Filled with red herrings and a delightful tour of the Downtown District, fans will enjoy this whodunit which is a very special reading experience.

Harriet Klausner

The Big Kitty-Claire Donally

The Big Kitty

Claire Donally

Berkley Prime Crime, May 1 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780425248027

When her widow father suffered a heart attack, reporter Sunny Coolidge took a leave of absence from her job at New York Standard to return home to Kittery Harbor, Maine to nurture him back to health. However, soon after she left The Big Apple, her boss fired her claiming revenue drops and ended their personal relationship too.

Eight months later, Sunny remains in Maine, unable to obtain work at the Harbor Crier as editor Ken Howell rejects the big city journalist. Instead she earns chump change working at Maine Adventure E-perience for miser Ollie Barnstable.

Senior Ada “The Cat Lady” Spruance asks Sunny to find her missing Powerball winning lottery ticket worth $six million, which she agrees to do over the weekend. Shadow the cat follows Sunny home and is with her when she goes to Ada’s home only to find her dead in what looks like an accidental fall down stairs. Town Constable Will Price and Sunny the reporter think a murder occurred as the lottery ticket is missing. As each investigates separately, Shadow with a nose and paw for clues joins his new pet Sunny on her inquiry.

The first Sunny and Shadow Mystery is a fun amateur sleuth tale starring a nice heroine and a title character whose thoughts brings a whimsical spin to the lighthearted whodunit. With a nod to Carole Nelson Douglas’ delightful Midnight Louie mysteries (including a romantic triangle), fans will enjoy the adventures of Shadow and his adopted human as they search for the killer of the cat lady.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Dead Level-Sarah Graves

Dead Level

Sarah Graves

Bantam, May 1 2012, $26.00

ISBN: 9780553807905

In the medium security prison at Lakesmith, Maine Dewey Hooper is doing twenty years for killing his wife Marianne. The deceased’s spouse looked exactly like Ellie White, the best friend of former Wall Streeter Jacobia “Jake” Tiptree, whi now lies in Eastport, Maine. Dewy escapes and sets up a false trail to fool the cops while heading to the woods near Eastport.

Jake has been working on an 1823 Federal-style fixer-upper for years, but her husband bet her she could not finish a deck in their isolated cabin within a week. Although that means no plumbing, she and Ellie head to the cabin. Ellie plans to stay overnight before returning to Eastport. Dewey sees and recognizes both women; he believes Marianne returned from the dead to haunt him and Jake testified against him at his trial. He tries various means to kill the females, but they survive and deploy a risky counter plan.

The latest Home Repair Is Homicide mystery (see Knockdown and Crawlspace) is exciting due to the strong determined protagonists who reject fear and despair by refusing to be victims. The story line is told in the first person by Jake and in the third person when Dewey leads, readers know the contrasting thoughts of each while Ellie plays a major role. Though bringing the trio together is a gigantic coincidence over the top of Mount Katahdin, fans will enjoy this fabulous thriller that also includes repair tips.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, April 9, 2012

The Wild Wood Enquiry-Ann Purser

The Wild Wood Enquiry

Ann Purser

Berkley Prime Crime, May 1 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780425248041

In Barrington, England the Enquire Within quartet (Ivy Beasley, her cousin Deidre Bloxham, her fiancé Roy Goodman and mysterious Augustus "Gus" Halfhide) are bored after solving recent murder mysteries (see The Measby Murder Enquiry and the Hangman’s Row Enquiry). Their only case lately is finding the missing cat Posey Moon.

Gus’ ex-wife Katherine calls claiming she needs his help. He wants nothing to do with her as she is a con artist who pretends interest in others while using charm to get what she wants. Her activities often cross the ethics line. She comes to his cottage begging him to let her stay for a few days. He says no, but his good hearted neighbor Miriam Blake offers her a place to stay. Later Miriam realizes her foolishness as she wants to win Gus’s heart. The next day Miriam finds Kath gone. She and her friend Rose Budd enter the woods searching for Kath, but find a hand instead. Detective Inspector Frobisher follows Miriam into the woods where there is no hand. The Enquire Within search for Kath and why she came to Barrington.

This is a fun though somewhat slow cozy starring retirees doing an enquiry in which there may have been foul play and loot involved, but they have no evidence of a murder or any valuables stolen; only Gus’ belief Kath has pulled a stunt while Frobisher wonders if Gus pulled a stunt. Initially more of a character study than an amateur sleuth, the storyline picks up the pace when Kath’s antics begin to surface. Readers who enjoy a British leisurely paced mystery will want to read The Wild Wood Enquiry.

Harriet Klausner

Life Without Parole-Clare O’Donohue

Life Without Parole

Clare O’Donohue

Plume, Apr 24 2012, $15.00

ISBN: 9780452297821

Chicago TV producer Kate Conway slowly regains her equilibrium after the death of artist husband Frank from a heart attack just after they filed for divorce (see Missing Persons). Kate has two film offers. The more exciting project is a documentary on two lifers at Dugan Correctional (Brick Tyler and Tim Campbell); the better paying one is a reality show about opening a new high end restaurant. She accepts both.

Behind her being selected for the restaurant project is the late Frank’s mistress Vera Bingham. Kate has some issues with Vera’s efforts to become her friend, but also finds she likes her in small doses. Vera calls Kate in a panic to meet her at restaurant. Someone murdered Erik Price using Vera’s stolen gun. Vera explains that investor Doug Zeiman helped her buy the gun when she told him about threats she received; he was also to meet her here, but failed to show up as she found the corpse instead. All the evidence points to Vera; Kate reluctantly investigates the homicide with help from her film crew (cameraman Andres Pena and audio Victor Pilot) and the two convicts.

The latest Kate Conway amateur sleuth is an exhilarating whodunit with a psychological underpinning. The freshness comes from Kate’s interviews with the two convicts and the contrast between naive Pollyanna Vera and “trust no one” Andres. The mystery is cleverly devised with surprising red herrings, but it is the psychological insight into Life Without Parole that makes this entry a winner.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, April 8, 2012

The Housesitter-Cynthia Baxter

The Housesitter

Cynthia Baxter

Dark Corridors/SLM Bookworks, 2012, $12.99

ISBN: 9781614620037

John Quinn advertises for a house and cat sitter while he is away on an extended business trip in Minneapolis. He asks applicant Megan Quinn why she wants the job. Megan says she came from the East Coast to work at Hayworth Insurance last year. She lost her job due to downsizing at the same time her sublease in West Hollywood ran out. Though unsure why, Megan tells him about the drowning death of her cousin in New Jersey when they were children. Finally she states she sleeps on her friend’s couch. He thinks she is perfect and hires her.

Megan moves into the upscale house with a wonderful swimming pool. She quickly finds she loves John’s home and is bewitched by precious Endora the Maine coon. However, she also has a sense that someone is watching her. When strange events occur inside of John’s house, Megan initially writes them off, but soon fears someone stalks her, which worries her about her and Endora’s safety.

The Housekeeper is a terrific twisting psychological thriller starring a strong protagonist, a charming feline, a wonderfully isolated home, John and an unknown stalker. Action-packed with bumps in the night, the storyline feels in some way like a modern day gothic in Pasadena. Fans will enjoy Cynthia’s Baxter’s dark tale with a stunning late spin as anyone considering being a Housesitter will demand hazardous duty pay.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, April 7, 2012

All Sales Fatal-Laura DiSilverio

All Sales Fatal

Laura DiSilverio

Berkley Prime Crime, May 1 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780425248034

The IED in Iraq ended the military police career of Emma-Joy “E.J.” Ferris. Last year she obtained work as a security officer at the Fernglen Galleria in Vernonville, Virginia. As she rides her Segway on patrol, she knows crime is limited to nabbing customers who “forgot to pay” like the man using a “borrowed” cart to wheel out a purchase. She hopes to land a real police job rather than remain a mall cop, but her knee makes that unlikely and besides she is grateful for a job even working for the insensitive director of security Captain Woskowicz.

She arrives at the mall before it’s opened to find a corpse near the entrance. CPD detective Sergeant Anders Helland leads the investigation into the shooting murder of teenager Celio Arriagia whom she recognized from being with two other teens who seemed out of place at the mall. Although Anders warns her to stay out of real police work as he assumes her MP job was gate guard and her mall job is shop lifters. He is unhappy to learn the security camera was down as Woskowicz delayed fixing it. As EJ does grunt work for Helland on the case, she vows to solve the homicide with the unwanted help of her Grandpa Atherton especially when her boorish boss is killed.

The latest Mall Cop Mystery (see Die Buying) is an enjoyable investigative tale starring a dedicated heroine. In some ways Grandpa Atherton steals the show of this fast-paced whodunit as he and his granddaughter team up as mall sleuths.

Harriet Klausner

A Fatal Fleece-Sally Goldenbaum

A Fatal Fleece

Sally Goldenbaum

Obsidian, May 1 2012, $24.95

ISBN: 9780451236753

In Sea Harbor, Massachusetts, the Seaside Knitters (Nell Endicott, Birdie Favazza and Cass Halloran) and the Seaside Knitting Studio owner Izzy Perry are close knit friends. Birdie’s kind-hearted brother-in-law Nicholas Marietti (younger sibling to her late husband Joseph) arrives in town. He takes Birdie with him to meet a female he brought with him.

The next day Izzy, her Aunt Nell and Cass meet at the store where a ten years old girl Gabby asks all sorts of questions when her grandma Birdie arrives. Gabby’s grandfather was Joseph who was unaware he had a love child. Gabby becomes friends with everyone even misanthropic fisherman, Finn who refuses to sell or keep his property up to the standard the council demands. When Cass finds his corpse, she becomes the prime suspect so the Seaside Knitters including the precious newest member Gabby investigate.

This regional Seaside Knitters amateur sleuth (see A Holiday Yarn and The Wedding Shawl) is a fun whodunit starring intrepid females. Gabby adds freshness to the mix though her extroverted trusting nature seems out of place for someone growing up near Central Park. The rotating perspective of the key cast enhances an engaging cozy as a precocious tweener brings New York shtick to the Bay State.

Harriet Klausner

Copycat Killing-Sofie Kelly

Copycat Killing

Sofie Kelly

Obsidian, May 1 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780451236623

The torrential rains have left residents of Mayville Heights, Minnesota a bit under the weather. People like relatively new citizen Kathleen Paulson the librarian wonders when it will end as she has a rat floating in the artist co-op basement, and while carrying two bags of groceries walking on rain soaked Wisteria Hill when the ground caves in. She is bruised but shows her friend Detective Marcus Gordon a skull that was uncovered by the rain washing away the ground. A ring is found at the scene, which adds mystery to what seems to be a 1920s burial site.

Soon afterward a second rat is found in the flooded basement. Following that rodent incident, acrimonious know it all mask-maker Jaeger Merrill is found floating in the basement in what appears to be an accident. Kathleen and her bodyguards Hercules and Owen the kittens investigate starting with the pet human researching at the library for leads to the mystery of the ring and information on Merrill while the cats scratch at clues.

The latest Magical Cats anthropomorphic cozy (see Curiosity Thrilled the Cat and Sleight of Paw) is a fun whodunit as the felines lead the inquiry into the contemporary homicide. Fans will appreciate this entertaining amateur sleuth as the amateur sleuthing threesome and the detective investigate suspicious deaths.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Midnight Rescue-Elle Kennedy

Midnight Rescue

Elle Kennedy

Signet, May 1 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780451236586

In Corturo, Colombia, assassin Abby Sinclair prepares for the kill when she learns of a sex auction selling young girls. Having been rescued from the streets by a kind retired ranger, she feels a need to do likewise as part of paying back the “debt” she owes her mentor. To rescue the girls before they become sex commodities, Abby allows herself to be caught. Though beaten, she waits for the right moment to liberate the girls before she escapes.

Abby’s boss Noelle “The Queen of the Assassins” sends a team to rescue Abby. Noelle turns to Jim Morgan and his mercenaries. In Columbia, Morgan’s mercenaries succeed in freeing Abby. However, she refuses to leave until she completes her rescue mission. One of the mercenaries, Kane Woodland, attracted to Abby, agrees to help while Devlin her irate embarrassed former capturer pursues her.

This opening act in the Killer Instinct romantic suspense is an exciting thriller as the assassin and the mercenary fight, fight, and fight while falling in love. Fast-paced, fans who appreciate an in your face couple (thinks of the offspring) will relish visiting Columbia.

Harriet Klausner

Mrs. Jeffries Defends Her Own-Emily Brightwell

Mrs. Jeffries Defends Her Own

Emily Brightwell

Berkley Prime Crime, May 1 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780425248058

At Sutcliffe Manufacturing, deputy manager Ronald Dearman is found dead in his office by his wife Lucretia who was accompanied there by Fiona Sutcliffe. Realizing she will be a prime suspect, as she and the victim argued just before his death, Fiona overhears the lead investigator Nigel Nivens and Constable Morehead discuss the cause of rival Inspector Witherspoon’s success being his housekeeper Mrs. Witherspoon and her staff supporting her. Fiona visits widow Mrs. Jeffries who is shocked to see her estranged sister-in-law call her Hepzibah and ask for her help; but she knows she will as the late David would want her to do so.

Mrs. Jeffries and her team know the case will be the most convoluted they ever undertook because their “front” beloved Inspector Witherspoon is not leading the inquiry. Instead Nivens, who apparently knows she is the brains of his rival’s unparalleled success, leads the investigation.

The latest Mrs. Jeffries and retinue Victorian mystery (see Mrs. Jeffries and the Mistletoe Mix-Up, Mrs. Jeffries Forges Ahead and Mrs. Jeffries Forges Ahead) is a delightful puzzler as the heroine and her "under the stairs" crew work a whodunit made difficult by her in-law being the suspect and by another inspector in charge. Still, Mrs. Jeffries and the crew do what they always do investigate through their employer as this Victorian mystery is a fresh entry in a strong long running historical “police procedural” series.

Harriet Klausner

Murder On Fifth Avenue-Victoria Thompson

Murder On Fifth Avenue

Victoria Thompson

Berkley Prime Crime, May 1 2012, $24.95

ISBN: 9780425247419

Chief of Detective O’Brien sends a note to Detective Sergeant Frank Malloy ordering him to meet with affluent Felix Decker at the ultra-exclusive Knickerbocker Club. Frank knows never to ignore his boss or powerful men like Decker, father of his friend midwife Sarah Brandt. He hustles over there; where adding to his surprise, Decker asks him to investigate the death of club member Chilton Devries. Furthermore, he says the undertaker had arrived at the club to take away the corpse but noticed blood; Devries was stabbed to death. Finally, Decker insists no club member would kill a peer and that if the killer can go before the city’s justice so be it, but if not the club will mete out justice.

Frank investigates starting with the surviving family; not one of whom feel any grief towards the abusive Paul. Sarah and her mother assist Frank as he interviews a horde of other people elated with Devrie’s death; they insist their only regret was they did not stab the SOB. A second related homicide complicates the already complex case.

This is an engaging Gaslight Mystery (see Murder on Sister’s Row, Murder on Waverly Place and Murder on Lexington Avenue) as the Irish catholic cop and the wealthy midwife enter the exclusive circle of the untouchable one tenth of one percent men of power. Action-packed, the whodunit is clever, but it is the setting especially the social issues of the early twentieth century, which still thrive in the early twenty-first century that makes Victoria Thompson’s investigative tale a terrific historical.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Now You See Her-James Patterson & Michael Ledwidge

Now You See Her

James Patterson & Michael Ledwidge

Grand Central, Apr 3 2012, $14.99

ISBN: 9780446574709

In 1992 in Key West, intoxicated college student Jeanine flips out when she sees her boyfriend Alex making out with her BFF Maureen. The betrayal hurts immensely because they were at her side when her mom committed suicide; her dad had died years earlier in the line of duty as a Maryland state trooper. Drunk, she flees in Alex’s car before running over a man to avoid a dog. Police Officer Peter Fournier tells her to leave the scene and go back to school; as if this never happened as the victim Ramon Pena was a hard core rapist.

She heeded the cop’s advice. Now eighteen years later, Nina Bloom is a successful New York lawyer with a sixteen years old daughter Emma. Nina has told no one what happened in Key West though her husband Peter knows. However, her idyllic world shatters when she becomes involved in the Jump Killer murder case in Florida. In a few days the state will execute Harris for a homicide that she knows he did not commit. Harris’ attorney Charles initially rejects her help but changes his mind when she points out inconsistencies in the evidence against his client. Still time is running out.

Over the top of “Mt. Trashmore” due to too many coincidences and a caricature serial killer; yet fans will enjoy this fast-paced thriller that hooks the audience to learn what next as Now You See Her is hard to put down. Nina is terrific as she holds the exciting storyline together. Fans who ignore plausibility will enjoy this entertaining Florida legal thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, April 2, 2012

The Mysterium-P.C. Doherty

The Mysterium

P.C. Doherty

Minotaur, Apr 24 2012, $25.99

ISBN 9780312678197

Early in the fourteenth century in London, a killer murders Walter Evesham, former chief justice in the Court of King’s Bench. The victim’s throat was cut and the letter M carved into his forehead. The homicide occurred in a locked room with the M being the trademark of assassin Mysterium.

Hugh Corbett, “the Keeper of the King’s Secret Seal,” investigates the murder. He knows Evesahm caught Mysterium two decades ago, but the hired killer escaped and apparently fled the kingdom. As others die, it appears he has come home. However, his inquiry spins strangely when he concludes that two killers are terrorizing London and no one, not even King Edward I, is above suspicion except his assistant former Newgate resident Ranulf.

This is the usual great medieval whodunit that readers expect from P.C. Doherty (see The Waxman Murders and Nightshade) as the background has the armchair audience feeling they are in the first decade of the fourteenth century while accompanying the hero on the case. Fast-paced, the exhilarating storyline opens with an exciting riot at Newgate, turns to several murders and riots as the innocent die, and ends with a stunning confrontation.

Harriet Klausner

One Red Bastard-Ed Lin

One Red Bastard

Ed Lin

Minotaur, Apr 24 2012, $24.99

ISBN: 9780312660901

In 1976, The Republic of China on Taiwan and the People's Republic of China on the mainland battle for western recognition. At the same time the two China’s argue on the world stage, Chen Xiaochuan informs the State Department that Li Na, daughter of the late Mao Tse-tung, seeks asylum in the United States. Newswire reporter Lonnie interviews Chen, but soon afterward the latter’s body is found in Roosevelt Park; as the last person to see him alive the journalist is the prime suspect although there is plenty of others with political motives to kill Li’s representative.

Because he is Chinese-American and has had some success on cases (see This Is A Bust and Snakes Can’t Run), Lonnie’s boyfriend NYPD Officer Robert Chow leads the investigation with the brass insisting he find the killer immediately. Robert interviews representatives from the two Chinas while wondering why Artie Yee owner of Inside Chinatown is unconcerned that his offices were deliberately torched.

The latest Chow police procedural is a complicated historical that combines the international debate over the Chinas with a strong look at Manhattan’s Chinatown circa 1976 just a few years after the mainland replaced the island on the UN Security Council. The whodunit purposely is convoluted to reflect the complex world (including the Ford Administration) with Chinatown a microcosm of the debate. Readers will enjoy Ed Lin’s strong 1970s whodunit.

Harriet Klausner

Every Last Secret- Linda Rodriguez

Every Last Secret

Linda Rodriguez

Minotaur, Apr 24 2012, $24.99

ISBN: 9781250005458

At one time half Cherokee Marquitta “Skeet” Bannion was proud of her accomplishments as the highest ranked female cop on the Kansas City, Missouri police department. However, her sense of being a chip off the old block crashes when her father Charlie the cop turned alcoholic was forced into retirement to avoid a corruption charge and her now former husband Sam Musco the cop was angry and jealous of her success.

Deciding to leave KCPD, Skeet accepts a position as chief of campus police at Chouteau University, twelve miles from Kansas City. New campus cop Dave Parker calls Skeet to tell her he found a corpse in the offices of Chouteau University. Shaken he informs Skeet he only turned on a light. Someone murdered news editor in chief student employee Andrew McAfee who was facing sexual assault and theft charges. She broke up a fight between the victim and news editor Scott Lampkin so the latter is a suspect. Skeet informs the wife Tina and stepson Brian as the press obnoxiously arrives. She works closely with her staff, the administration, the sheriff’s department, and Police Chief Louzon and his team as she investigates the homicide. At the same time, Sam comes to town insisting Charlie needs her.

The winner of the Malice Domestic Best First Traditional Mystery Novel Competition, Linda Rodriguez provides an enjoyable police procedural starring a likable besieged cop. A professional with passion on the job, Skeet is terrific as she copes with campus politics, office jealousy, the intrusion of the former men in her life, and troubled Brian while leading her team on the murder investigation; she needs forty eight hours in a day.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Sidney Sheldon's Angel of the Dark- Tilly Babshawe

Sidney Sheldon's Angel of the Dark

Tilly Babshawe

Morrow, Apr 3 2012, $26.99

ISBN: 9780062073419

In Beverly Hills, the police respond to a domestic violence call. They enter the Jakes mansion to find the elderly art dealer Andrew Jakes dead from knife wounds and his head nearly decapitated. Tied to the body of the deceased is his much younger wife Angela, who was battered and brutally raped. Detective Danny McGuire investigates the homicide while falling in love with Angela. As the case turns cold, Angela vanishes shortly after leaving the hospital and the estate eventually goes to children’s charities.

Danny leaves LAPD to join Interpol. Ten years since the Jakes murder, he lives in France with his wife. Jakes’ son Matt Daley visits Danny with evidence that three other homicides contain the identical M.O. as that of his late father to include the raped bound to her dead spouse younger wife vanishing and the money going to charity. Stunned Danny and Matt make inquiries, but soon learn of another similar murder in Hong Kong. They race there to meet the widow Lisa Baring before she disappears. While Matt falls for the widow just like Danny did with Angela, a clue sends the cop to Mumbai hoping to prevent the next homicide by an internationally diabolical serial killer.

The latest Tilly Babshawe homage to Sidney Sheldon (see Sidney Sheldon’s After the Darkness and Sidney Sheldon’s Mistress of the Game) is by far the best of her entries. The fast-paced storyline combines glamour and desire with wrenching crime scenes in a fast-paced global twisting cat and mouse thriller.

Harriet Klausner