Thursday, May 31, 2012

Hide and Seek-Major (Ret) Jeff Struecker and Alton Gansky

Hide and Seek

Major (Ret) Jeff Struecker and Alton Gansky

B&H Books, Jul 1 2012, $14.99

ISBN: 9781433671425

In Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, American military Foreign Affairs officer Amelia Lennon and the country’s First Daughter Jildiz Oskonbaeva meet at Blonder Pub to discuss the Manas Transit Center. Jildiz explains that their next door neighbor the Chinese have offered 10 billion and the Russians 2 billion so the American offer of 60 million is not enough. They leave, but the capital explodes into riots while three men try to abduct Jildiz. Amelia uses her car to hit two of the kidnappers. Jildiz get into her car as they flee from the third.

Ranger Master Sergeant J.J. Brantley is excited over seeing the ultrasound picture of his unborn twins. He and his team are in Kyrgyzstan preparing to welcome the two new members. However, before they can train together, Colonel Weidman assigns them to rescue Amelia and Jildiz in the midst of a tinder box that has erupted without bringing attention to American military roaming the streets.

This is a strong military thriller that brings to life the personal cost by those who serve and their family members as well as how volatile the situation in Kyrgyzstan can quickly become with the rivalry between the Kyrgyz and Uzbek populace. The storyline is fast-paced whether the focus is on the two females in peril from an angry pursuer or the team mounting a rescue. Looming in the background is the Bush legacy of our inability to compete with the Chinese monetarily on the world stage while providing an entertaining discerning look at the military operating in a hostile scenario. Hide and Seek is a terrific realistic thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Burning Midnight-Loren D. Estleman

Burning Midnight

Loren D. Estleman

Forge, Jun 5 2012, $24.99

ISBN: 9780765331205

Detroit Police Homicide Division Inspector John Alderdyce worries about his son’s Mexican brother-in-law, Ernesto Pasada who has been seen hanging around the city’s Mexicantown with the local branch of the Maldados gang. Alderdyce asks his friend private investigator Amos Walker to find a way to inform the Maldados to forget about Pasada.

Walker enters Mexicantown where the Maldados and the Zapatistas gangs compete for control of the turf. Soon after he begins his mission, war breaks out between the rival gangs. As he tries to end the hostilities, Walker finds evidence that an international mob is manipulating both Mexicantown gangs. However what to do with his proof is difficult to decide; as he knows each gang prefers to kill first and ask questions later.

The twenty-second Amos Walker PI thriller (see The Left-Handed Dollar and Infernal Angels) is a great tale that grips the audience from the moment Alderdyce becomes Walker’s surprising client and never let’s go until after a brilliant climax. Readers will praise Loren D. Estleman as Burning Midnight will be on the short lists for thriller of the year.

Harriet Klausner

The Conviction-Robert Dugoni

The Conviction

Robert Dugoni

Touchstone, Jun 12 2012, $25.00

ISBN: 9781451606720

In Seattle, attorney David Sloane’s sixteen year old “son” Jake Carter continues to get in trouble as he has since he witnessed the murder of his mom who was Sloane’s wife. Sloane has struggled with her death too, but has begun to move on. When Jake is arrested for the second time, Sloane and the lad’s father Frank persuade the court not to incarcerate him. His friend police detective Tom Molia invites Sloane and Jake to join him and his son TJ on a camping trip in Truluck, California.

However, the teens are caught breaking into a store trying to retrieve Jake’s driver’s license taken earlier by the proprietor. Winchester County Judge Boykin coaxes guilty pleas without council from the two defendants. They are sentenced to six months at six months Fresh Start, the Winchester County-owned wilderness boot camp where teens enter but never leave alive.

The latest Sloane legal thriller is an exciting “frontier justice” tale (see Wrongful Death and Murder One) as the legal efforts to free the teens fail. The storyline is filled with action though the actions of the cop and the attorney are at best unlikely while what they failed to do even more improbable. Still fans who ignore their plausibility meter will enjoy this entertaining story.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, May 27, 2012

XO-Jeffrey Deaver


Jeffrey Deaver

Simon & Schuster, Jun 12 2012, $26.99

ISBN: 9781439156377

Edwin Sharp likes country music singer and songwriter Kayleigh Towne. He sends her an email, which her email system automatically responds to like it does all her fans. His like turns into a dangerous attraction as he begins sending her tons of emails which gets past her staff in spite of their diligence to stop him. He also knows more about her than seemingly she knows about herself and likewise her key staffers especially her father Bishop Towne; her personal assistant Alicia Sessions; her producer Barry Zeigler and her chief roadie Bobby Prescott.

Kayleigh returns to her hometown Fresno to perform. Attending the concert is Edwin and her friend CBI Agent Kathryn Dance. When a light fixture falls on the head of Prescott, sheriff's deputy P.K. Madigan leads the investigation that Kathryn Dance joins over the local’s objection. Her efforts to kinetically read Edwin’s body language prove impossible, which means he is innocent of the Prescott incident or insane. She figures out what happens but lacks evidence, enables the stalker to remain free while other dangerous events occur.

The latest Kathryn Dance police procedural (see Roadside Crosses) is an exciting thriller filled with duplicity, double-crosses (too many) and Rhyme and Sachs making brief appearances. The storyline is fast-paced as Dance mentors Madigan on the proper way to investigate while also using her kinetic reading skill. However, there is too many perfidious villains that overwhelm the tale though some may be deceitful and they prove to be red herrings. Overall this is a solid mystery with too many crooks in the kitchen.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, May 26, 2012

An Unmarked Grave-Charles Todd

An Unmarked Grave

Charles Todd

Morrow, Jun 5 2012, $24.99

ISBN: 9780062015723

In 1918 dedicated British nurses are in France to be close to those at the front. However, the medicos also deal with the pandemic Spanish flu that is devastating everyone. Flu victims are placed in sheds where Private Wilson finds one corpse too many; he shows Nurse Bess Crawford that Major Vincent Carson died from a broken neck instead of the flu. However, before Bess can act on what she assumes is a homicide; she catches the flu and is sent home to recover.

By the time she heals, Bess knows Carson’s body is long gone and she soon learns Wilson committed suicide. Though Bess knows she has little chance to find out what happened to the major who served with her father, Bess investigates anyway focusing on Vincent’s family.

The fourth Bess Crawford WWI mystery (see An Impartial Witness and A Bitter Truth) is a fabulous historical that focuses on trench warfare and its aftermath on the soldier and his family, and the impact of the 1918 pandemic influence that left many dead. The whodunit is entertaining though Bess’ starting premise seems odd during a time of war and disease. Still, this is an exciting thriller with much of the sleuthing occurring from the extended fog of war.

Harriet Klausner

Strong Vengeance-Jon Land

Strong Vengeance

Jon Land

Forge, Jul 17 2012, $24.99

ISBN 9780765330994

In 1820 off the Texas Gulf Coast, Captain Neal of the Mother Mary slave ship carries valuable cargo when they run aground in one of the swampy channels. Due to his cousin Mother Mary First Mate Mr. Jeffreys, Captain Jean Lafitte and Jim Bowe lead their pirates to take control of the Mother Mary. They take the slaves onto the Goelette la Dilidente. The pirates next steal a pouch from a “guest” Quentin Cusp who warns them his employer will come for them before sinking the vessel.

In the present, an oil rig crew finds the lost Mother Mary and apparently something else; but they are slaughtered. Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong investigates the massacre with help from her lover Cort Wesley Masters, who was recently freed from a Mexican prison. As the pair seeks a motive for the mass murders, they are unaware that Cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, assumed dead in a drone attack, killed the crew to keep his deep water plot secret until he deploys a scheme to kill several hundred thousand Americans.

The latest Caitlin Strong thriller (see Strong at the Break) is a terrific action-packed tale starring a courageous fifth generation Texas Ranger. The good (the brave heroine and her loyal partner) fight the bad (unscrupulous business moguls and corrupt officials – these are not oxymoron) and the ugly (Muslim and homegrown terrorists, and deadly sexual predators). Fast-paced to include fascinating Ranger history and mythos interwoven into the super complex storyline, fans will relish this strong entry.

Harriet Klausner

The Formula for Murder-Carol McCleary

The Formula for Murder

Carol McCleary

Forge, Jul 17 2012, $24.95

ISBN 9780765328694

In 1890, saddened reporter Nellie Bly arrives in London to bury her mentee cub reporter Hailey McGuire, who reportedly committed suicide. Nellie rejects the notion that Hailey took her own life as she knew the young journalist was euphoric over her profession. Instead, Nellie thinks the story Hailey was working on led to her death. Enhancing her beliefs are someone emptied Hailey’s desk and files, and searched her room, and is threatening Nellie.

Not one to run from a challenge especially a menacing one, Nellie follows clues to an affluent spa in Bath, where owner Dr. Anthony Lacroix claims miraculous rejuvenation with peat moss. Soon after Nellie arrives in Bath, Lacroix vanishes. Nellie receives help from biology teacher H. G. Wells, scandalous Oscar Wilde fleeing his latest sexual peccadillo as he was doing when they previously met (see The Alchemy of Murder) and Arthur Conan Doyle stalking a beast on the moors of Dartmoor. As a mad test tube scientist, beasts, and lunatics chase Nellie and her companions, murders seem everywhere they go

The latest Nellie Bly Victorian investigative thriller (see The Illusion of Murder) is an action-packed tale that once again uses famous persona as key players who also anchor time and place. This fast-paced mystery grips readers from start to finish, but Nellie not only keeps it focused, she brings energy and enthusiasm to the engaging historical.

Harriet Klausner

Close Your Eyes-Iris Johansen and Roy Johansen

Close Your Eyes

Iris Johansen and Roy Johansen

St. Martin's Press, Jul 17 2012, $27.99

ISBN: 9780312611613

Dr. Kendra Michaels was born blind but she learned to compensate by exponentially increasing the use of her other senses and dramatically deploying logical analysis to situations. After two decades in darkness, she gained sight with little impact on the high acumen of her other senses. Law enforcement likes to consult with this music therapist on their seemingly unsolvable cases.

Former FBI agent Adam “Puppetmaster” Lynch visits Kendra as she works with a young patient. He realizes she is nothing like the agents told him and finds he looks forward to learn what her buttons are so he can push them. Challenging Kendra to display her skill, he is shocked how accurate she describes him and what he did earlier. Later they meet and she explains how she read him and he tells her that her former boyfriend FBI Agent Jeff Stedler has vanished and may be dead, a victim of a serial killer he was investigating in San Diego. They team up hoping Stedler lives, but soon are caught in a deadly conspiracy in which she is targeted for elimination.

Mindful of the movie Blink but starring a Sherlock (“Shirley”) Holmes, this is an excellent investigative thriller. Fast-paced, filled with twists and starring protagonists who seem real; it is Kendra’s skill at evaluation that occurs early on and throughout, and the acerbic teaming that make for a strong suspense.

Harriet Klausner

Thriller 3: Love Is Murder-Sandra Brown (editor)

Thriller 3: Love Is Murder

Sandra Brown (editor)

Mira, May 29, 2012, $24.95

ISBN: 9780778313441

Adhering to the Love Is Murder theme, this is a great romantic suspense collection that will elate fans of both genres as all thirty contributions are well written fun. The tales span the globe and include some recurring stars like Shelley Caldwell in “Hot Note” by Patricia Rosemoor, Mercy Gunderson in “Holding Mercy” by Lori Armstrong and Lucy Kincaid in “Vacation Interrupted” by Allison Brennan, as well as recurring series like the Bullet Catchers starring in “Diamond Drop” by Roxanne St Claire and “B.A.D. Mission” by Sherrilyn Kenyon. Tales like “Poisoned” by Beverly Barton, “Speechless” by Robert Browne and “Lockdown” by Andrea Kane are also superb as this is a winning collection from Ms. Armstrong’s opening entry to Lee Child’s excellent closer.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, May 25, 2012

Ransom River-Meg Gardiner

Ransom River

Meg Gardiner

Dutton, Jul 5 2012, $25.99

ISBN 9780525952855

Attorney Aurora “Rory” Mackenzie comes home to Ransom River, California, a place she hates, in answer to a jury summons. She becomes part of a jury in a Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles case in which two cops (Lucy Elmendorf and Jared Smith) are accused of shooting a burglar Obrad Mirkovic. Two gunmen (Nixon and Reagan) assault the courtroom but a SWAT team ends the hostage siege.

The Ransom River PD believes Rory is an accomplice to the gunmen as one of them targeted her as shown in the courtroom video. Detective Zelinksi angrily and accusatorily asks her why her if she was not an accomplice, and about her being unemployed since the not for profit Asylum Action lost its funding. Her childhood friend former undercover cop Seth Colder warns her that the police force contains deadly dirty cops so she better remain vigilant at all times.

This is a taut thriller in which the tough protagonist deals with being the prime surviving suspect in a hostage situation that soon spirals even further out of control for her. Fast-paced from the moment Nixon and Reagan invade the court, readers will relish this superb tale while wondering what is going on in Ransom River.

Harriet Klausner

Vanished in the Dunes:Allan Retzky

Vanished in the Dunes:

Allan Retzky

Oceanview, Jul 5 2012, $25.95

ISBN 9781608090532

Under Justice Department investigation for two years for alleged violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, fiftyish Amos Posner was forced to resign from his position though the firm gave him a generous severance package as someone has to take the fall for all the company’s questionable dealings. While he resides at the beach house in Amagansett, his wife Sara mostly lives in their Manhattan apartment as she still practices law in the city. She comes out to Long Island on weekends as often as possible while he never ventures into the city. Sara believes Amos is cheating.

While riding the Hampton Jitney, Posner meets sexy Heidi Kashani, a resident in psychiatry at Mt. Sinai hospital. He invites her to his beach house. He steps out for a moment only to find her dead from an apparent fall. Instead of 911, he buries her corpse. Soon afterward Detective Peter Wisdom questions him and the late Heidi’s obsessed lover Dr. Henry Stern threatens him. Heidi’s identically looking sister Brigid Kashani further complicates the convoluted scenario.

Vanished In The Dunes is an engaging psychological suspense thriller starring a depressed lonely former international trader whose decision-making process keeps digging him deeper into trouble. Fast-paced from the moment the protagonist muses over What’s My Line upon seeing Heidi for the first time, fans will appreciate this exhilarating tale though the climax is weaker than the powerful spiral leading to the end.

Harriet Klausner

Discretion-Allison Leotta


Allison Leotta

Touchstone/Simon & Schuster, Jul 3 2012, $25.00

ISBN 9781451644845

At the U.S. Capitol building, escort Caroline McBride falls to her death from the office balcony of District representative Emmett Lionel. Assistant U.S. Attorney sex crimes prosecutor Anna Curtis investigates the death.

Running for election, Lionel proves uncooperative as he claims the Speech and Debate Clause limits any search of his office. His lawyers and his political advisers are even less cooperative as they construct barrier after barrier to thwart the inquiry. At the same time, the high profile case threatens to disclose Anna’s relationship with the office head of homicide, single dad Jack Bailey at a time that she struggles to gain trust from his angry six year old daughter who still grieves for her late mom.

The second Anna Curtis legal thriller (see Law of Attraction) is an engaging DC thriller starring an ambitious ADA who is struggling with a case that could make or break her career and her romance. Mindful of Margaret Truman’s novels like Murder at the White House (and its subsequent movie Murder at 1600), this is a fast-paced entertaining though somewhat expected “Capital Crimes” investigation.

Harriet Klausner

Some Kind of Peace-Camilla Grebe and Åsa Träff

Some Kind of Peace

Camilla Grebe and Åsa Träff

Free Press/Simon & Schuster, Jul 10 2012, $24.00

ISBN: 9781451654592

Thirtyish Siri Bergmann is a psychologist who runs a practice in Stockholm with her best friend Aina. As she works with her patients, Siri has her own issues with the recent death of her husband Stefan either from an accident or suicide. Not long before his death their newborn had died. Aina Davidson encourages her to move out of the mausoleum where she lives less than an hour from Stockholm, but Siri cannot leave nor even give away Stefan’s stuff. The therapist also suffers from crippling anxiety attacks when plunged into darkness so her house is always lit when she is home. On top of that Siri feels she is being stalked with the culprit daringly peering through her home’s windows though she has no proof.

Aina is hospitalized after a hit and run. Soon after that Siri’s cat Ziggy vanishes. Siri becomes further shook when the corpse of her eighteen years old paranoid patient Sara Matteus is found. The teen was a drug addict who suffered sexual abuse and claimed someone was trying to hurt her. Police officer Markus teams up with Siri, Aina and their college mentor Vijay to find a killer.

This translation of a dark Swedish psychological suspense is a character driven thriller starring a woman in trouble as much mentally as physically. Until the final taut twisting climax, fans will wonder if Siri is the prey or the predator.

Harriet Klausner

Night Watch-Linda Fairstein

Night Watch

Linda Fairstein

Dutton, Jul 10 2012, $26.95

ISBN 9780525952633

Manhattan ADA sex crimes prosecutor Alexandra Cooper visits her boyfriend restaurateur Luc Rouget at his French estate overlooking the Bay of Cannes. Two days after leaving New York on her vacation, village police officer Claude Chenier joins Alex and Luc. The cop says Luc’s former employee Lisette Honfleur was found dead in a nearby pond; the victim had a on her a matchbook advertising his latest New York restaurant.

Meanwhile her boss Paul Battaglia calls Alex back to New York when a maid Blanca Robles accuses the head of the World Economic Bureau Mohammed Gil-“MGD” Darsin of rape. The case is a media circus while the prosecution believes the victim until they begin to find out more about her history. At the same time in Brooklyn, a murder victim possesses a matchbook from Luc’s new restaurant.

Obviously taken from the Dominique Strauss-Kahn case, one of the subplots in the latest Alexandra Cooper legal thriller (see Silent Mercy) is an exciting entry that focuses on an accuser whose account keeps changing. The Luc subplot though well written pales next to the MGD segue. Sub-genre fans will appreciate Linda Fairstein’s strong fictional version of the Dominique Strauss-Kahn case.

Harriet Klausner

Size 12 and Ready to Rock-Meg Cabot

Size 12 and Ready to Rock

Meg Cabot

Morrow, Jul 10 2012, $14.99

ISBN 9780061734786

New York College may have been partially shut for summer but the Fischer Hall dorm is filled to capacity with fifty fourteen to sixteen years old girls attending the first annual Tania Trace Rock Camp for two weeks. Hostess pop star Tania is married to Fischer Hall Assistant Dorm Director Heather Wells’ former boyfriend Jordan Cartwright. To make matters worse, the dorm is not ready for occupation and the event will be filmed.

Assistant TV producer Jared Greenberg eats rat poison vegan cupcakes while at Fisher “Death Dorm” Hall. The evidence points to the pop star as the intended victim as a fan dropped off the toxic treat. Tania hires her brother-in-law Heather’s fiancé private investigator Cooper Cartwright to keep her safe. Tania tells Heather a secret that has the assistant dorm director and Cooper seeking to find a killer before someone else dies.

The latest Heather Wells Mysteries (see Big Boned) is an amusing tale in which the sleuthing is somewhat in the background to the protagonist’s frantic coping with a college president seeking fame and fortune for the school, a diva pop star, her ex, and fifty screaming diva wannabe teens. Fast-paced, fans of the series will enjoy this jocular dry entry in spite of the limited detecting.

Harriet Klausner

Backfire-Catherine Coulter


Catherine Coulter

Putnam, Jul 10 21012, $26.95

ISBN: 9780399157325

In San Francisco, Clive and Cindy Cahill stand trial for serial killings and abetting espionage. Soon after that presiding Judge Ramsey Hunt is shot in the back near his home overlooking the ocean.

In DC an unaddressed letter is given to FBI Agent Dillon Savich with no deadly chemicals or biological agents; only a note: “FOR WHAT YOU DID YOU DESERVE THIS”. Soon after that Ramsey’s wife Molly calls Savich to beg him to come to find out who shot her husband. She further says Ramsey is in surgery to save his life. Savich and his partner Lacey Sherlock head for California immediately to provide support to Moly and to investigate the shooting of their friend, a federal official. Working with California-based law enforcement officials’ task force, they learn the Cahill proceedings started off with a shocker when in your face federal prosecutor Mickey O'Rourke provided a weak opening argument and now cannot be found.

The latest S&S FBI procedural (see Split Second and Whiplash) is an exciting suspense-laden whodunit. Somewhat a family affair, fans will enjoy this twisting over the top of the Golden gate bridge mystery as the fast-paced thriller never slows down until after the final confrontation.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The 13th Target-Mark de Castrique

The 13th Target

Mark de Castrique

Poisoned Pen, Jul 3 2012, $24.95

ISBN 9781590586174

Russell “Rusty” Mullins was a Secret Service agent who protected four POTUS, but left the agency when he failed to protect his most important person, his wife Laurie from ovarian cancer. The widower became a private protection operative whose current client is Paul “Old Greenbacks” Luguire, a top Federal Reserve official who was the Board’s top contact with the Treasury.

Rusty becomes stunned to learn from DC police that his client who had become a friend committed suicide. Rusty refuses to believe Paul killed himself as he was so proud of his grandson among other signs that Old Greenbacks relished his life. Former Secret service peer Amanda Church, who works at the Fed’s cyber-security cell, informs Rusty she found a strange transaction authorized by Robert that was erased; the Regional bank shows Russell Mullins as the person who wired the money to them. Stunned, Rusty investigates, but soon finds himself accused of a homicide. With further assistance from Detective Robert Sullivan and blogger Sidney Levine, Rusty eludes the law while trying to stay out of jail and prevent a conspiracy to destroy the American financial system by going after twelve known key participants and an unknown 13th target.

A timely thriller with the Great Recession in which the Fed played a key role (and still does), fans will enjoy this action-packed mystery. Rusty is a solid protagonist while his allies enhance his effort to prove his innocence and stop a terrific plot. Although, there is a tendency to overwrite the financial relationship that slows down the storyline (though understandable as that is so convoluted it makes the DNA helix look simple), Mark de Castrique provides a fascinating conspiracy tale.

Harriet Klausner

Endangered-Ann Littlewood


Ann Littlewood

Poisoned Pen, Jul 3 2012, $24.95

ISBN 9781590587850

In Vancouver, Washington, at the request of Fish and Wildlife, Finley Memorial Zoo curator Neal Humboldt sends Iris Oakley and Denny Stellar to the Tipton place to assist law enforcement and Animal Control by removing exotic birds and endangered turtles; many are dead from the horrible conditions. The Tipton parents were found dead and the brothers arrested; as they ran a meth lab out of one of the barns and grew marijuana. Iris says this was also a wildlife smuggling operation, but the cops are uninterested in that.

Iris finds the corpse of a female Tipton. Meanwhile the brothers are free and raid Iris’ home threatening the widow and her son as they believe she knows the last words of their father before he died. Taking her child with her, Iris flees from the dangerous siblings before taking the confrontation to them.

The third zoo mystery (see Did Not Survive and Night Kill) is a fabulous amateur sleuth starring a likable dedicated heroine as caring Iris represents what is good about America while The Tipton family (with a few female exceptions) showcases the dark side of American life. With a powerful spotlight on wildlife smuggling, readers will enjoy Ann Littlewood’s tense thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Burrows-Reavis Z. Wortham


Reavis Z. Wortham

Poisoned Pen, Jul 3 2012, $24.95

ISBN 9781464200076

In 1964 Ned Parker retires as the Center Springs, Texas constable. He plans to rusticate as a cotton farmer while his nephew Vietnam vet Cody replaces him at the town’s constable. Ned looks forward to spending time with his two ten-year-old grandchildren Top and Pepper as they struggle with coping after the recent trauma they suffered at The Rock Hole.

Meanwhile, a headless corpse is found in the nearby Red River and a psychopath who escaped incarceration has slaughtered a farm family. Cody and Deputy John Washington follow clues that lead them to the abandoned Cotton Exchange in Chisum where the garbage laden warehouse is filled with deadly booby-traps as the killings continue.

The latest Red River mystery is a great historical police procedural that focuses on a tense serial killer whodunit. Burrows also invokes time and place as Cody’s experience with booby-traps in Vietnam may save their lives and John’s ass the first black law enforcement officer in the county shows the early impact of the Civil Rights movement. Readers will appreciate Reavis Z. Wortham’s taut Texas thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Killer Critique-Alexander Campion

Killer Critique

Alexander Campion

Kensington, Jun 26 2012, $23.00

ISBN: 9780758268792

In Paris, Le Figaro senior food critic Gautier du Fesnay reviews chic Left Bank restaurant Chez Béatrice. He records on a camcorder from the moment he arrives. Gautier takes a piece of lobster d'horand and dies. Not long after that at Dans le Noir someone jams a basting needle into the ear of food critic Jean Monteil in the darkened dining room.

Paris Police Judiciaire Commissaire Capucine Le Tellier leads the investigation while concerned her husband wine and food expert husband Alexandre de Huguelet could be next. Someone murders other food critics while Capucine finds a horde of suspects especially raging chefs. With the case going nowhere and the count mounting, Capucine has one way to find the culprit: dangle her beloved spouse as food bait.

The third captivating Capucine culinary Paris police procedural (see Grave Gourmet and Crime Fraîche) is a terrific serial killer thriller as you are what you eat. Fast-paced with a wonderful tour of the Left Bank and mindful of the Vincent Price movie Theatre of Blood, fans will enjoy this delicious tale that connects the Eifel Tower with haute cuisine.

Harriet Klausner

A Fatal Debt-John Gapper

A Fatal Debt

John Gapper

Ballantine, Jun 26 2012, $26.00

ISBN: 9780345527899

Fiftyish Wall Street banker Harold Shapiro is depressed after being fired. His wife Nora worries about his mental state. Nora takes Harry to Episcopal Psychiatric ER after he was shouting at traffic and frightening dog walkers in Central Park. Psychiatrist Dr. Ben Cowper treats the patient. Harry demands to leave over the objection of Ben; the hospital administration sides with Harry so reluctantly Ben signs the release form.

Not long after Nora takes Harry to their place in East Hampton, he murders Marcus Greene. Harry’s lawyer blames Ben for releasing his client too soon. The media roasts Ben who they blame for the Long Island tragedy. The hospital administration and Ben’s peers reject mea culpa insisting it is a doctor’s solo decision to release or not. The ambitious DA goes after Ben rather than a sick man. Ben decides to save his reputation by making inquiries into the homicide, but runs up against lies and denial.

This is an exciting thriller that has an incredible set up starting with insight into Wall Street fraud and the media condemnation of Ben. When he turns into an amateur sleuth his incompetency as a detective adds to the excitement though one must wonder why he did not hire a pro. However, in the second half, the storyline loses plausibility but remains gripping except for a seemingly “required” romance that detracts from the overall engaging plot.

Harriet Klausner

The Line Between Here and Gone-Andrea Kane

The Line Between Here and Gone

Andrea Kane

Mira, Jun 26 2012, $25.95

ISBN 9780778313373

Eight months ago realtor Paul Everett vanished on Long Island; unaware that his girlfriend photojournalist Amanda Gleason was carrying his child. Whereas everyone believes Paul was murdered, Amanda thinks he is alive as a friend sent her a grainy cell picture of a man who looks like Paul in DC. Amanda is desperate as Paul is the last hope to save the life of their baby Justin, suffering from immunodeficiency and needing a compatible stem cell transplant.

She turns to Forensic Instincts (see The Girl Who Disappeared Twice) to locate Paul. Behaviorist Casey Woods, ex SEAL Marc Devereaux, technocrat Ryan McKay and Hero the dog investigate the missing person’s case knowing time is short. However, they find little about Paul’s history as if he never existed and law enforcement is not just uncooperative they strongly demand FI end their inquiry or else as the life of a dying baby is not important. FI ignores the not so subtle threats and soon uncovers a conspiracy that connects the Hamptons to Congress, but finding Paul in time seems impossible as they run into a maze of impediments and stonewalling.

Like the FI operatives, this case grips readers as time is running out on a newborn with one last hope to save his life, but that person apparently never existed. Fast-paced from the moment Amanda pleads with FI to find her baby’s father, fans will relish this twisting thriller wondering what next.

Harriet Klausner

Pulse-John Lutz


John Lutz

Pinnacle, Jul 3 2012, $9.99

ISBN: 9780786020287

In 2002 Florida, a contingent of police officers is driving serial killer Daniel Danielle to a top secret maximum security prison when hurricane winds turned the car upside down. Daniel escapes but not before he killed his escorts. He vanishes into the eye of the storm and becomes an urban legend never seen again.

In the present, a series of female homicides occur in which the victims were tortured and mutilated employing the same M.O. as Daniel used. Whether the psychopath is Daniel or a copycat is irrelevant to Police Commissioner Renz who wants the maniac stopped. He hires former cop turned private investigator Frank Quinn’s firm to capture this predator. Pearl is reunited with Jody Jason the daughter she gave up for adoption and the two women and Quinn bond. Jody finds the link to the serial killer that involves the law firm she is interning at, the college she attends and Meading properties. Now Pearl and Quinn must identify who the killer hides behind before another woman is brutally murdered.

Thriller master John Lutz is known for his suspense and his ability to enable readers to understand the bone marrow deep motives that drive both the heroes and the villains. Ironically the chapters when the killer tells his perspective, fans do not learn why he is a monster as he does not see himself that way. Though a serial kill hunt is not new, Pulse is kept fresh by rotating time, place and point of view. This fast-paced tale grips fans from start to finish as time is running out on the next victim.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Cliff Walk-Bruce DeSilva

Cliff Walk

Bruce DeSilva

Forge, May 22 2012, $24.95

ISBN: 9780765332370

In Pascoag, Cosmo Scalici owner of Scalici Recycling’s farm that feeds waste to pigs notices what looks like a child’s hand amidst the trash. Before he can act, a pig eats the hand. The pig is slaughtered and an autopsy affirms Cosmos’ fears.

Someone is shot on Newport’s Cliff Walk. The victim falls off the Cliff Walk to his death.

State Police Captain Steve Parisi refuses to release the identity of the victim.

Providence Dispatch reporter Liam Mulligan covers both stories. He believes the pig recycle plant was used to cover a crime involving children and feels certain the Cliff Walk diver is pornographer and strip club owner Sal Maniella. Liam begins to connect the two incidents as he believes a vigilante is assassinating low life predators running a child porn ring. If his boss Edward Anthony Mason IV’s dying paper lives long enough, albeit a couple of weeks or so, he plans to break a converged super story. State AG Fiona “Attila the Nun” McNerney tells Liam to back off, Maniella’s bodyguards warns him to stay away from their dead boss’ daughter and his wife Dorcas continues to aflame his ulcer.

Filled with blood and gore, this is an exciting Rhode Island investigative thriller built on the premise of legalized prostitution, which was true in the state until 2010 when it became banned. Providence shines as it did in Mulligan’s first journalistic stew (see Rogue Island) while the comparisons between the dying newspaper and the dying porn industry enhance a strong mystery.

Harriet Klausner.

Pies and Prejudice-Ellery Adams

Pies and Prejudice

Ellery Adams

Berkley, Jul 3 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780425251409

Happily married to Sloan Kitteridge, Ella Mae LaFaye was shocked to find her husband cheating. A sad, Ella Mae leaves him in New York and returns to her hometown of Havenwood, Georgia with the clothes she is wearing and her puppy Chevy. Her mom and her maternal aunts welcome home the prodigal daughter who they have not seen during her marriage. Not one to sit idly moping, Ella Mae opens up The Charmed Pie Shoppe, which proves successful as Georgians love her pastries that contain an extra magical “ingredient”.

The police question Ella Mae over the death of her longtime adversary Loralyn Gaynor’s fiancé equine veterinarian Bradford Knox; as the murder weapon is one of her baking rolling pins. Soon afterward, a second murder occurs.. Concluding someone is diabolically framing her, Ella Mae investigates the homicides before the cops arrest her.he first A Charmed Pie Shoppe Mystery is a fun rural fantasy amateur sleuth with part of the enjoyment comings from knowing Ella Mae and her family possessed different paranormal gifts. The heroine is likable while the secondary characters like her high school crush Hugh Dylan, who is attracted to her, add local flavor and eccentricity. With a nod to the movie You, Again readers will enjoy this regional mystery although the motive for investigating is typical of the sub-genre; as the paranormal elements bring the fresh magic to this enjoyable Georgia culinary whodunit.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Murder For Choir-Joelle Charbonneau

Murder For Choir

Joelle Charbonneau

Berkley, Jul 3 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780425251379

Paige Marshall has worked hard at achieving her goal of becoming an opera star, but so far has failed to achieve her life’s ambition. Needing to keep costs down, she moves into her Aunt Millie’s miniature castle in Lake Forest and needing to eat accepts a job as a choir instructor to students from four Chicago area high schools.

She finds working at Prospect Glen High School a hellish experience. After dispatching students Chessie Bock and Eric Metz from a practice room to the master choir area, Paige looks for Larry DeWeese; but instead finds arrogant Show Choir Director Greg Lucas dead. Prospect Glen Police detective Michael Kaiser leads the investigation. Larry gives Michael someone else’s cellphone that he had. The phone belongs to Eric who is a prime suspect as the victim hit on Chessie. Paige wonders if Larry is the killer as he cowered whenever Greg was nearby; he insisted on looking closely at the murder scene before calling the cops; his statement to the cop unfairly implicates Paige somewhat; and he gave Eric’s cell phone to Kaiser. Though she knows she should not, Paige investigates.

The first Glee Club Mystery is an entertaining amateur sleuth starring a beleaguered heroine and a strong support cast at the school (students and teachers) and at the castle (especially Millie’s aptly named vicious poodle Monsieur de Tueur de Dame - Mister Lady Killer). Paige is a delightful lead who works the hardest gig of her life, surviving the canine, the kids and her peers like Felicity the Martha Stewart wannabe and “gay” drama teacher Devyn. Although Paige’s rationale to investigate is unrealistic, fans will enjoy the antics of the ensemble performing a Murder For Choir

Harriet Klausner

The Scarlet Pepper-Dorothy St. James

The Scarlet Pepper

Dorothy St. James

Berkley, Apr 3 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780425247044

White House assistant gardener Casey Calhoun oversees the organic vegetable garden that First Lady Margaret Bradley loves. However Casey notices digging marks at the Kitchen Garden that she assumes the First Dog did until green pepper sprouts instead of the red she planted and cabbage rather than lettuce. Someone is trying to embarrass the First Lady as the Watercressgate scandal breaks in which Casey is accused of cheating.

Media Today investigative reporter Griffon Parker and Casey publicly argue just before he is murdered. The wife of the chief of staff, garden volunteer Francesca Dearing informs the DC police that the death matches Casey’s suggestion for a murder mystery dinner benefit. TV Scotsman Gillis Farquhar host of Gardening the Farquhar Way: Organic! is hired to save the organic Kitchen Garden. With her esteem low, Casey investigates who is behind the gardening stunts, but her inquiry places her in peril and Jack the Secret Service Agent who likes her warns her to stop investigating before an “accident” kills her.

The second White House Gardener Mystery (see Flowerbed of State) is a fabulous amateur sleuth starring a likeable woman with commitment issues except when it comes to her passion, plants. Her violent childhood allows readers to accept Casey’s investigation and her inability to deal with a relationship. Although she proves too good a sleuth as the culprit would testify, fans will enjoy this entertaining whodunit enhanced by the eccentric people who diligently work at the White House.

Harriet Klausner

When the Past Haunts You-L.C. Hayden

When the Past Haunts You

L.C. Hayden

CreateSpace, Feb 19 2012, $10.00

ISBN: 9781470074791

Carol Bronson lectures her husband of thirty-one years for keeping a secret from her. The retired Dallas cop never told her he has a sister Lorraine who just called. He explains to his spouse that his sibling informed him and their parents she wanted nothing to do with them and left without a second glance back. Harry wants nothing to do with Lorraine and deletes her increasingly desperate calls as he remembers how she blew pot smoke into the face of their ailing dad.

When he finally answers, she says she is in deadly trouble, cannot talk on the phone and is in Whittle City near Pittsburgh. He refuses to go there but Carol persuades him to fly from South Dakota to Pennsylvania to meet at Glacier Valley State Park where she is shot dead as she runs to him. Bronson informs lead police investigator Ivy Cannody that he is staying at the home of his former partner Mike’s ex-wife Ellen in Pittsburgh. Feeling guilty, Harry decides to find his sibling’s killer; Mike and Ellen assist him.

The latest Harry Bronson (see When Death Intervenes) is a great twisting thriller as the remorseful protagonist needs to find the murderer, but to do so means uncovering his sister’s convoluted surprising past. Action-packed but also filled with pathos, readers will relish this strong entry as Harry learns you can’t go home if you wait too long.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, May 21, 2012

Game of Secrets-Dawn Tripp

Game of Secrets

Dawn Tripp

Random House, Jun 5 2012, $15.00

ISBN: 9780812971484

In 1957, Luce vanished leaving behind his skiff. Three years later, his skull with a bullet-hole in it is found in a gravel pit.

In 2004, Luce’s granddaughter Marne comes home from California after her brother Alex calls her about the state of their mom Jane, who never fully moved pass the murder of her father when she was a tweener and the recent death of her weekly Scrabble partner Ada. Marne is attracted to her brother’s best friend Ray, but will not act on her feelings because he is one of two sons (Huck is the other) of Ada, who was having an affair with Luce when he was murdered. However, Ray keeps showing up ostensibly to see Alex, but he really wants to date Marne. As they begin to go out together, Marne begins to better understand what haunts her mother who played Scrabble every week for years with Ada though the players rarely discussed Luce.

Though a murder ties and yet keeps apart two families, Game of Secrets is an entertaining character study that switches era and viewpoint seemingly effortlessly. As Marne looks deeper at her mom, she and readers understand the need for Jane to learn who killed her dad and the reason she played Scrabble as she believes Ada knows the truth. The eeriness of the game is a stunner but also can slow down the psychological drama with sidebar cat and mouse commentary on children. Still fans will relish this otherwise enjoyable unusual family affair as like Jane we are hooked with a need to know who.

Harriet Klausner

Midwinter Blood-Mons Kallentoff

Midwinter Blood

Mons Kallentoff

Atria/Emily Bestler Books, Jun 5 2012, $25.95

ISBN: 9781451642476

In Linköping, Sweden, the naked battered corpse of three hundred plus pounds recluse Bengt Andersson is found hanging from a tree. Thirty three years old Inspector Malin Fors and her partner Inspector Zeke Martinsson lead the homicide investigation.

They start with the victim’s dysfunctional family and from them to teenage boys with a history of tormenting Andersson. The two cops question a professor of history who called the murder a “Midwinter Blood” sacrifice out of the country’s Viking heritage. As the case comes together slowly, Malin tries to balance her police work with raising her thirteen years old Tove.

This is a fabulous Swedish police procedural in which the torture murder case serves as a mechanism to enable readers to understand the protagonist especially her relationships with her family (especially Tove) and her peers. Andersson’s spirit floats around providing intelligent commentary on the investigation, his family, his abusers and the ice cold city; as only an unwanted outsider could. Readers who appreciate an insightful Swedish psychological thriller will enjoy the first translation of a Malin Fors’ case.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Death of a Beauty Queen-Mallory Kane

Death of a Beauty Queen

Mallory Kane

Harlequin Intrigue, Jun 5 2012, $5.25

ISBN: 9780373696239

A dozen years ago new NOPD Police Detective Dixon Lloyd worked the harrowing Beauty Queen Murders as his first investigation. He failed to solve the case of what happened to Rosemary Delancey.

Twelve years later, that inquiry still haunts him as Dixon can still picture the bloody scene including the murdered corpse of Rosemary’s fiancé Lyndon Banker. Now, parole violator T-Bo Pereau insists he saw Rosemary. Besides Dixon, hit man Aron Wasabe learns what happened to the only target to escape alive from him. Dixon visits Rose Bohème, who explains she has no memory of who she was before awakening in the home of Cajun Maman Renée. At the same time Aron stalks her so he can get back into the good graces of his employer the Boss.

With a nod to the classic Otto Preminger movie Laura, Death of a Beauty Queen is a superb romantic police procedural. The romance between the Dark Angel and his Rose take a back seat to protecting her as readers anticipate a High Noon confrontation with a unique look at New Orleans as the backdrop. Mallory Kane provides a winning tale because fans will need to know the motive behind the homicides and attempted murder.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Vortex-Cherry Adair


Cherry Adair

St. Martin’s, May 22 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780312371951

Midnight in the Pacific a hundred miles from the nearest land Peru with no other ship around, Logan Cutter struggles with a fully panicked woman who is drowning but fighting him. When she finally succumbs to unconsciousness from the exposure to the cold and swallowing tons of water, he gets her to his treasure hunting ship the Sea Wolf.

When she recovers a little, a furious and freezing Daniela Rosado vows to kill her criminal cousins who tossed her into the ocean after hitting her believing Logan will rescue her. She pretends ignorance as to how she got there and says her name is Annie. He believes she lies and probably works for his adversary Rydell Case. Instead the Lima art gallery owner’s stupid felonious relatives want her to help Cutter with a map to find sunken treasure they claim as theirs.

The latest Cutter Cay romantic suspense (see two of Logan’s brothers’ adventures - Riptide and Undertow) is an exciting at sea and somewhat on land thriller. Fast-paced from the moment the hero rescues the damsel in distress and never slows down until the final unlikely (but exhilarating confrontation, readers will enjoy action-packed Vortex while knowing sibling Jonah will steer the next story.

Harriet Klausner

Diamonds Are Truly Forever-Gina Robinson

Diamonds Are Truly Forever

Gina Robinson

St. Martin’s, May 22 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780312542405

CIA National Clandestine Services head spook Emmett Nelson assigns agent Drew Fields to end the seditious dealings of Sam “Fisherman” Deeds who is selling satellite information to the Revolutionary International Organization of Terrorists (RIOT). He does not want this mission as he knows the way to Sam is through his daughter Staci who is Drew’s soon to be ex-wife.

Staci filed for divorce when her honesty almost led to her beloved husband’s death as she knows she cannot tell a lie; Drew never challenged her decision. Now he wants her back in her life and she would like him back. However, loose lips sink undercover agents so she has doubts. As they work out their differences, their love remains strong. However, Drew must stay focused on her father regardless of how he fears Staci will react when she realizes his motive for their reconciliation.

The latest Agent Ex espionage romance (see The Spy Who Left Me) is an entertaining thriller based on the premise that a spy can go home again. Action-packed, fans will enjoy this twisting triple crossing second chance at love if they survive tale although the tension even when Staci in dire straits never quite grips the reader.

Harriet Klausner

Red Velvet Revenge-Jenny McKinley

Red Velvet Revenge

Jenny McKinley

Berkley, Jul 3 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780425251386

For several weeks the temperatures in Arizona have hovered in the hundreds. People remain indoors only going out into the oppressive heat if they have no choice. Businesses like the Fairy Tale Cupcakes are hurting with few customers. Owners Melanie Cooper and Angie DeLauro borrow a refrigerated truck so they can deliver their baked goods to their customers. When the vehicle breaks down, legendary cowboy Slim Hazard rides to the rescue as he hires them to sell cupcakes at the annual Juniper Pass rodeo, an event 20,000 people will attend.

Silent partner Tate Harper (see Sprinkle With Murder for his wife’s murder) has been friends with the bakery owners since grade school and he quietly loves Angie. He helps them with the rodeo gig. However, at the opening ceremony, someone shoots Slim in the shoulder while the star bull rider Ty Stokes is overtly hostile towards Mel and Angie. When Ty is murdered, Angie, unable to resist the urge to investigate, begins an inquiry since the local police seem incompenant.

The latest Cupcake Bakery Mystery (see Buttercream Bump-Off and Death by the Dozen) is an entertaining amateur sleuth due to an engaging mystery and plenty of humor especially the wager between the bakers and a redneck food vender on who sells the most food. Mel makes her investigation seem reasonable (for her that is); as a profile of her behavior leads to the conclusion that her DNA contains the sleuthing genome.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, May 18, 2012

A Plain Death-Amanda Flower

A Plain Death

Amanda Flower

B&H Books, Jul 1 2012, $14.99

ISBN: 9781433676970

In the town of Appleseed Creek, Ohio in the middle of Amish country is Harshberger College where twentyish Chloe Humphrey is the new director of computer services. Chloe hopes she can stick it out for two years so she can add experience to her résumé before she seeks a job in a big city.

On her way to her new home, Chloe rescues Amish teenager Becky from two harassing Englischer lairds. Becky needs a place to stay since she left her Old Amish community. Chloe allows her to stay with her. Not long after their first meeting, Becky, who has no license or insurance, “borrows” Chloe’s car to go on a job interview. When the brakes fail, she kills local Amish elder Bishop Glick. The police discover someone cut the brake line, but Chloe had no time in the area to make any enemies. Chloe wonders whether someone in the “peaceful” community anticipated Becky driving the vehicle but cannot theorize how the Bishop fits into the scenario so decides he might not be intended victim. With the help of Becky’s sexy brother Timothy, she investigates seeking a motive.

Readers will thoroughly enjoy this action-packed Ohio Amish cozy; in which the rigid rules of the Bishop must be totally obeyed if one is to avoid shunning by family and friends; for instance Timothy left becoming a Mennonite. The California native Chloe makes friends with several Amish including Becky who she feels a need to prove her innocence though that means confrontations with criminals. With India Hayes (see Maid of Murder) taking a breather, Amanda Flower’s first Appleseed Creek Mystery is a wonderful amateur sleuth.

Harriet Klausner

Ice Cap-Chris Knopf

Ice Cap

Chris Knopf

Minotaur, Jun 5, 2012, $25.99

ISBN: 9781250005175

During a blizzard, Franklin Delano Raffini calls his Southampton, Long Island attorney Jackie Swaitkowski to hurry over. Raffini served three years for killing Donald Pritz, husband of his lover Eliz; the widow earned 7.5 million in insurance from her spouse’s death.

The latest Raffini dead body is Tad Buczek who outraged his neighbors when he built eyesore monstrous Metal Madness. Police detective Joe Sullivan is outraged that the former banker turned convict had the audacity to move the body of the spouse of his mistress Katarzina Buczek, a much younger mail-order bride. The evidence points to Raffini, who will have a difficult time claiming self-defense as he did with the first case. While the DA goes for second degree, Jackie works the defense by questioning those close to Buczek; who the lawyer knows because they are the extended family of her late husband Pete, his mother Paulina Swaitkowski, his Aunt (Tad's sister) Salina Lumsden and her husband Freddy.

The latest Swaitkowski thriller (see Short Squeeze and Bad Bird) is a zany jocular whodunit. The support cast enhances either the inquiry or the quirkiness as the heroine is ably assisted by her boyfriend Harry, Sam the carpenter (see Hard Stop and Black Swan), and computer guru Randall while the Polish connection complicate the case.

Harriet Klausner

Dead Scared-S.J. Bolton

Dead Scared

S.J. Bolton

Minotaur, Jun 5 2012, $25.99

ISBN: 9780312600532

Cambridge University has been horrified by several recent grisly suicides. The cops profile of the dead students show significant similar social behavior and claimed nightmares of being raped. Metropolitan Police DI Mark Joesbury needs someone who could pass as a student so he enlists DC Lacey Flint (see Now You See Me) to go undercover as psychology undergraduate student Laura Farrow attending Cambridge University’s St. John’s College.

Lucy is assigned the same room of the last victim who immolated herself at a Christmas party. Her only contact inside the school is counseling chief psychiatrist Dr. Evi Oliver (see Blood Harvest). Flint ignores Joesbury’s warning to observe not participate. As Lacey acts like a vulnerable lonely individual, she becomes a person of interest, but what Joesbury failed to realize is she is not playing a role.

This is a dark British police procedural that grips the audience from the moment Joesbury recruits Flint and never slows down until the final confrontation on a ledge. This is a harrowing twisting psychological thriller they seems plausible with sinister predators preying on vulnerable people like Lacey Flint.

Harriet Klausner

Curse of the Jade Lady-David Housewright

Curse of the Jade Lady

David Housewright

Minotaur, Jun 5 2012, $25.99

ISBN: 9780312642310

Midwest Farmers Insurance Group agent Vincent Donatucci visits former cop Rushmore McKenzie who muses the last time he saw the insurance man was when he received a check for $3,128,584.50. The visitor says most people with large payouts become withdrawn due to the reaction of loved ones; some become philanthropists; and then there is McKenzie who became Batman. He further explains that someone stole the Qing Dynasty Jade Lily from the City of Lakes Art Museum in Minneapolis. The “artnappers” called the museum director Perrin Stewart with a ransom demand of one third of the insurance which is just under 1.3 million. The thieves asked for McKenzie to act as the delivery boy.

The simple exchange turns complex when the State Department, the FBI, Heavenly the woman representing a nebulous entity, and others demand McKenzie give them the gem allegedly cursed like Tut’s tomb. When one of the thieves is found murdered and other deaths follow, the Curse of the Jade Lily seems at work.

The latest McKenzie mystery (see Highway 61) is a wonderful thriller as the protagonist wonders who next will show up ordering him to do something. Filled with humor and a strong cast that are 360 degrees encircling the Jade Lily, this is a fast-paced winner as the hero believes the Jade Lily is not cursed; he is cursed.

Harriet Klausner

The Namesake-Conor Fitzgerald

The Namesake

Conor Fitzgerald

Bloomsbury USA, Jun 5 2012, $25.00

ISBN: 9781608198450

Just outside the courthouses in Rome’s Piazzo Clodio, someone kidnaps and subsequently murders visiting Milan insurance agent Matteo Arconti. The victim was murdered to warn government officials to end their investigation into organized crime as the insurance agent has the same name as the magistrate leading the inquiry.

Magistrate Arconti is outraged that these thugs would kill an innocent civilian as a message of intimidation. He assigns Commissario Alec Blume to join the mob leaders at their convention Calabria. As Blume goes undercover in hopes of capturing the Ndrangheta gang whose leaders reside in the open in Germany, his lover and deputy Caterina Mattiola looks onto the homicide. However, impatient, Blume pulls a ruse using a forgery to insure the murderous chief of Ndrangheta is back in Italy.

The latest Commissario Alec Blume Italian police procedural (see The Dogs of Rome and The Fatal Touch) is a complicated exciting mystery in which ironically readers know what is happening due to engaging changing perspectives while Blume, Mattiola and other cops are in the dark. Loaded with action, The Namesake is a fabulous investigative thriller as Conor Fitzgerald deftly juggles several subplots which as a bonus enable armchair readers to obtain a taste of historical Italy.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, May 17, 2012

In the Kingdom of Men-Kim Barnes

In the Kingdom of Men

Kim Barnes

Knopf, May 29 2012, $24.95

ISBN-13: 9780307273390

Her parents were dead by the time Gin was seven. Her strict devout Methodist minister grandfather raised her in a dilapidated shack in rural Oklahoma. As a teen Gin meets Mason McPhee who stuns her by showing interest in her. When she becomes pregnant, they marry.

The pair moves to Houston where he obtained work in the oil industry. The Arabian American Oil company hires Mason so they relocate to Abqaiq an American enclave in the Arabian Desert. For Gin their life there is a fairy tale comes true as she reflects back on her humble beginnings while wearing her first swimming suit and having servants though she also feels restricted by Arabian society. Still as Mason, disgusted with the firm’s mistreatment of the Bedouin workers tries to help them, a Bedouin woman washes ashore on the Persian Gulf. He is caught in the crosshairs of a conspiratorial cover-up with only his wife risking all to save her spouse.

This enjoyable storyline starts off as a coming of age tale before turning into an engaging twisting amateur sleuth story starring an intrepid persistent heroine out of her element. Gin tells her tale as she matures from a naive Sooner bewildered by the Sharia Law culture as much as by oil dynamics. Her obsession with the truth makes for a strong drama as sometimes the truth fails to set you free.

Harriet Klausner

In A Witch’s Wardrobe-Juliet Blackwell

In A Witch’s Wardrobe

Juliet Blackwell

Obsidian, Jul 3 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780451237477

In San Francisco Lily Ivory and Aidan Rhodes, two powerful witches, attend the Art Deco Ball at the Paramount Theater. Lily enters the women’s bathroom only to find a comatose woman on the floor and her soul caught in the mirror. Aidan warns Lily to stay out of this scenario as he will deal with the curse that separated the woman Miriam’s soul from her body.

SFPD Homicide detective Carlos Romero comes to Lily’s vintage clothing shop Aunt Cora’s to ask for her help on how Tara Dark Moon died as he expects no cooperation from the covens. Lily learns Tara and Miriam belonged to the Unseen Coven and that the witch hating group Defenders of Morality (DOM) is trashing witch’s stores. Aiden dumps the Miriam curse inquiry on Lily who obtains assistance from psychic Sailor.

The latest engaging Witchcraft Mystery (see A Castoff Coven and Hexes and Hemlines) is a wonderful paranormal amateur sleuth tale. The two inquiries are fun to follow as the heroine struggles with finding the link beyond the coven connection and her attraction to Sailor who is magically owned by roguish Aiden, a practitioner of magic that is sometimes dark. Lily’s familiar the gobgoyle hybrid gargoyle-goblin adds humor and a sense of realism to the urban fantasy setting. Fans will enjoy Lily’s magical mystery tour of San Francisco

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Homemade Stuffing Caper: Charlie Collier, Snoop for HireJohn V. Madormo-

The Homemade Stuffing Caper: Charlie Collier, Snoop for Hire

John V. Madormo

Philomel/Penguin, May 10 2012, $15.99

ISBN: 9780399255434

In Oak Grove, Illinois Roosevelt Middle School sixth-grader Charlie loves the 1930s Chicago based pulp fiction starring fictional hero Sam Solomon private investigator. The overweight Charlie and his best friend Henry compete at puzzle solving while they run a detective agency in the Collier family garage. Hiding what they do from their parents, the pair solves cases for their middle school paying clients relying on their brains and shoes as they believe the Internet makes resolution too easy.

However though the best friends conceal what they do to earn a living very well, Charlie’s free-spirited grandmother Constance and Eugene the librarian know about Solomon’s novels and that Charlie works minor investigations. Statuesque femme fatale classmate Scarlett joins the kids sleuthing team. Eugene who is more than a librarian hires them to work undercover on a missing exotic birds' inquiry.

With a nod to the movie Jr. Detective Agency, this entertaining kid sleuthing tale is a fun investigative novel. The hardboiled tweener detective emulates his hero (each chapter refers back to the Solomon novels). Fast-paced, middle school students will appreciate the escapades of “Charlie Collier, Snoop for Hire” and his teammates.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, May 14, 2012

SecondWorld-Jeremy Robinson


Jeremy Robinson

Dunne, May 22 2012, $25.99

ISBN: 9780312617868

The NCIS assigns former SEAL agent Lincoln Miller to Aquarius, underwater research station nine miles south of Key Largo, Florida. Miller notices the blue ocean has become a sea of red, which he soon realizes is not the usual industrial polluting by the enormous number of dead fish floating nearby. When a large object crashes into Aquarius, Miller is forced to go ashore only to learn that the land is void of life too as the red flakes has eliminated oxygen from the South Florida atmosphere; he survives due to his oxygen tank. He follows the oxygen trail of hospitals to stay alive as heads to Miami.

At Mount Sinai Medical Center, Miller sees the symbol of the SecondWorld with a message from these neo-Nazis. He also meets twelve years old Arwen inside an oxygen tent. Miller takes Arwen with him, as Aryans give chase. The National Guard rescue them and take them to DC where he learns Nazis killed 2.2 million in the Miami area and have thousands of satellites ready to destroy the air supply of select locations so that the Master Race remains as the only survivors. POTUS trusts Miller after what he did to keep the tweener alive so he assigns him on a special mission.

Over the top, this is an adrenalin pumping thriller that never slows down from the moment Miller struggles to survive until the final confrontation on his world anti-terrorism tour. Fast-paced, readers will not stop for an oxygen break as Jeremy Robinson provides an exhilarating tale.

Harriet Klausner

Ghost Song-Sarah Rayne

Ghost Song

Sarah Rayne

Felony & Mayhem, Jun 16 2012, $14.95

ISBN: 9781937384104

In present day London, surveyor Robert Fallon muses that the Tarleton Music Hall has to be the ugliest building he ever seen before entering the edifice. The Harlequin Society hired him to survey the boarded up theater, closed in 1914 but no one knows why. Robert finds a wall which seals off part of a room underneath the stage while the trapdoor is nailed shut.

Harlequin Society employee Hilary Bryant teams up with Robert to uncover the secret of what happened in 1914. Meanwhile her boss Shona Seymour receives a letter asking whether they plan to reopen the Tarleton. While Robert seeks a way into the sealed section, Shona struggles with suppressed memories from her childhood. Hilary learns of the star of the theater Toby Chance who vanished in 1914 after a trip to Sarajevo to protest against Archduke Ferdinand while Robert feels haunted as he hears the tunes of the allegedly Singing Ghost.

Ghost Song is a fabulous historical theater mystery as Hilary and Robert diligently try to piece together what happened to the Tarleton and its star just prior to WW1. Although the Shona subplot seems improbable, the exciting storyline grips the audience starting with Robert’s exploration of the closed for almost a century theater and never slows down. Appreciative fans will want to know what led to the final curtain call.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Playing Dead-Julia Heaberlin

Playing Dead

Julia Heaberlin

Ballantine, May 29 2012, $15.00

ISBN: 9780345527011

Thirty-something Tommie McCloud returns home to Ponder, Texas for the funeral of her father. Her dad’s sexagenarian secretary Melva gives Tommie a letter addressed to her that she assumed would be a sympathy card. Instead the author starts with “Dear Tommie: Have you ever wondered about who you are?” From there she claims that Tommie is her kidnapped daughter taken from her over three decades ago.

Though she assumes the note is sick joke especially when she thinks about growing up with her sister Sadie and her late brother Tuck on a Texas ranch, Tommie still looks back for anomalies in her childhood. Her mom suffers from dementia so offers nothing to Tommie. Still motivated, she begins to search for the author of the letter. As Tommie uncovers harrowing deadly truths about her genealogy, several interested parties watch her every move but one plans to kill to keep the past buried.

This is an exciting suspense thriller starring a fascinating purposely stereotyped protagonist whose search of identity teaches her sometimes the truth can be deadly. Told by Tommie and filled with twists that many readers will anticipate, Playing Dead is an exhilarating multi-family drama as fans will wonder whose Tommie’s biological parents?

Harriet Klausner

Herring on the Nile-L.C. Tyler

Herring on the Nile

L.C. Tyler

Felony & Mayhem, May 16 2012, $14.95

ISBN: 9781937384029

Third level list mystery writer (under two aliases) and romance author (under another name) Ethelred Tressider informs his agent Elsie Thirkettle that he is going to Egypt to conduct research for his next book. Accompanying him is Annabelle, the widow of the late Lord Muntham. Annabelle is not coming with him; so Ethelred invites Elise giving her eight days’ notice.

The writer and his agent sail up the Nile on the Khedive, a luxurious paddle steamer. Also on board is bonehead private investigator Herbie Proctor, who foolishly boasts he is on the ship protecting a client. Another passenger Mr. Pirbright believes Ethelred is a former MI5 field operative who became the author Paul Fielder. Two Egyptians inform Elsie they are undercover detectives pursuing two criminals. The two Brits compare notes re the other passengers are a felonious crew, but the trek proves worse when the engine’s die and a murdered corpse is found; everyone even apparently Elsie assumes Ethelred is the culprit.

The fourth E squared amateur sleuth (see The Herring Seller's Apprentice, Herring In The Library and Ten Little Herrings) once again pays homage to Agatha Christie. The fast-paced storyline is filled with wit and irony inside of a wonderful whodunit that satirizes Death One The Nile due in part to the relationship between the perfect English gentleman and his in your face agent who insists if he worked diligently and applied his talent he could attain a level two status.

Harriet Klausner

The Wurst Is Yet To Come-Mary Daheim

The Wurst Is Yet To Come

Mary Daheim

Morrow, Jul 3 2012, $23.99

ISBN: 9780062089830

In return for not yanking Judith McMonigle Flynn’s innkeeper license to operate her Hillside Manor Bed-and-Breakfast, she (and her cohort in trouble cousin Renie) promises to go to Little Bavaria to man the B&B booth at the Oktoberfest. At the opening ceremony, Victor Dietrich Wessler is killed with a knife left besides his bloodied body. Locals believe Dietrich saved their town when he changed it into an authentic Bavarian village after the mining and lumber industries closed.

The village police chief more Bavarian Barney Fife than Andy Taylor know of Judith’s sleuthing reputation for tripping over corpses; he pleads with her to assist him with the inquiry. She agrees though concerned how the innkeeper board will react. While she looks into the murder of the beloved nonagenarian, they also ask her to investigate the murder of lawyer Bob Stafford whose corpse was found in the river though he died from a trauma to the head. The Pacific Northwest cousins begin to piece together the puzzles only the culprit plans to eliminate the nosy Americans.

The latest Bed and Breakfast Mystery (see All The Pretty Hearses) retains the jocular freshness expected of this long running series because of the Bavarian locale and the clever idea of switching cousins (think of the Patty Duke TV show) as Renie pretends to be the sleuth to protect the innkeeper license. The energizing sexagenarians make for a fun tale as they cause havoc in the Bavarian countryside enabling armchair readers to believe they are in Europe on a visit while Judith realizes her biggest mistake was to assume Renie as her front would not lead to trouble.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Against The Sun-Kat Martin

Against The Sun

Kat Martin

Mira, May 29 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780778313502

In Houston, Atlas Security bodyguard Jake Cantrell is assigned personal protection duty of Marine Drilling International official S.E. Dumont while the executive closes a deal with the Saudis. He looks forward to the mission after spending time behind a desk while the boss went on his honeymoon. Jake is surprised that S.E. is a beautiful female, but he remains focused on keeping her safe.

Something seems off kilter to Jake who survived harrowing danger when he served as a Special Forces Marine by heeding his gut’s screams. Sage thinks he is off-base but has always heeded her beloved grandfather’s advice and he hired Jake to protect her. Deciding to prove her bodyguard wrong, Sage drills deep only to find a horrible truth.

The latest Raines of Wind Canyon (see Against the Wind and Against the Night) is an exciting romantic suspense that grips the readers from the moment the bodyguard and his client meet and never slows down as the pair finds themselves struggling with their attraction and a terrorist plot. Fast-paced fans will enjoy Kat Martin’s entertaining thriller as sex, love and terrorism converge.

Harriet Klausner

Threaded For Trouble-Janet Bolin

Threaded For Trouble

Janet Bolin

Berkley, Jun 5 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780425251324

The locals call Elderberry Bay, Pennsylvania Threadville due to the abundance of craft shops. Willow Vanderling, owner of In Stitches embroidery shop, will present to Darlene Coddlefield, the winner of the Chandler Champion Sewing and Embroidery Machine Contest, with the first prize the top of the line Chandler Champion.

Arrogant Darlene arrives to collect her winning accompanied by her eight kids who she is nasty towards. That night she is killed when her heavy machine falls through the table onto her; as for some unknown reason she was underneath the table. Willow takes the machine apart for the police and realizes someone tampered with it. A fire breaks out at the Coddlefield House almost killing the occupants including the widower fire chief. To investigate from the inside, Willow and her best friend Haylee become volunteer firefighters and soon rescue Felicity the Chandler Champion representative trapped inside a blaze. The intrepid pair continue their inquiry as to who the killer is and why.

The second Threadville Mystery (see Dire Threads) is a wonderful amateur sleuth that showcases the close relationships between the small village shop owners who watch out for one another as friends and as a smart business model. Willow’s motive for jumping into the fire to rescue two people is her deep need for justice even though she is risking her own life on a hunch. Readers will have no sympathy for the victim who is a charity gamer conning people out of money for her non-existent charities but the heroine’s actions make for an enjoyable whodunit.

Harriet Klausner

Soft Target-Stephen Hunter

Soft Target

Stephen Hunter

Pocket, May 29 2912, $15.00

ISBN: 9781451675344

On Thanksgiving Friday in Bloomington, Minnesota, Brigade Mumbai operatives assault the Mall America starting with the assassination of Santa Claus while a child four years old sits on his lap. Rather quickly the terrorists shut off the Mall using surprisingly advanced technology and begin to round up the thousand plus stranded shoppers unable to escape in time. Most are women and children. Among the upper level hostages is fortyish former Marine sniper Ray Cruz who had found the Mall almost as bad as avoiding IUDs in Afghanistan but came because his commanding officer his fiancé Molly Chan insisted they go.

The terrorists provide their demands while outside Minnesota State Police Douglas Obobo and SWOT state police Commander Mike Jefferson argue over the response. However, inside Cruz knows this is a suicide mission so he must take action or all will die.

Passing the torch from Bob Lee Swagger to his son (see Dead Zero for their initial encounter), this is an exciting action-packed thriller. The Cecile B. DeMille size cast gets in the way of the action and the villains prove inept. Still paying homage to Die Hard while satirizing President Obama, Stephen Hunter provides a chilling suspense thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Dead End Deal-Allen Wyler

Dead End Deal

Allen Wyler

Astor + Blue, Apr 2012, $12.99

ISBN: 9781938231056

In Seattle, Trophozyme Corporation is in financial trouble but Richard Stillman believes the answer is in Alzheimer’s research. However, he is given only six months to create the magic pill. Richard knows his best bet resides with researcher John Ritter who with his partner Dobbs is close to curing Alzheimer’s using transplanted non-human stem cells. However, in the garage a man with a gun warns Ritter that he better stop killing babies. When Gabe Lippmann enters the garage, another man kills him; the first assailant hammers John in the head. Later that first man, professional hit man Nigel Fiest kills his stupid partner Raymond Thompson. FBI Agent Gary Fisher leads the investigation.

Dobbs quits the research team out of fear for his life. Stillman offers Ritter a chance to continue safely his work in South Korea. When his test patients are murdered, the local authorities believe Ritter killed them. On the run from the Korean cops and from Fiest, Ritter knows he must return to the Pacific Northwest to prove his innocence though he has no idea how to end the deadly professional stalking him except in death.

Starting with the garage assault, Dead End deal is an exciting medical thriller. Fast-paced, fans will root for ethical Ritter whose motive for his work is the cure while hissing at amoral Stillman who represents the worst in the government-health care industry in which the bottom line supersedes patient care as the market would weed out those whose only choice is no choice for those unable to afford to pay for treatment. Though the key trio is stereotyped as the good (Ritter), the bad (Fiest) and the ugly (Stillman), sub-genre fans will anticipate their convergence.

Harriet Klausner

King City-Lee Goldberg

King City

Lee Goldberg

Thomas & Mercer, May 15 2012, $14.95

ISBN: 9781612183176

The FBI arrested the entire King City Major Crimes Unit on corruption charges. The only exception is thirty-five years old Detective Tom Wade who worked undercover with the Justice Department for two years. Seven cops are convicted while Tom testified against them and has been kept on administrative leave by Police Chief Reardon.

Everyone associated with KCPD including family members loathe Tom for destroying the lives of his peers and their dependents. Reardon assigns him to work the deadliest and most impoverished slum in the city Darwin Gardens where survival of the fittest is tested every moment. Tom says nothing in spite of knowing he has been given a death sentence. However, being an honest cop is who he is and with little help, Tom and his team of two unwanted rookies investigate a serial killer viciously murdering young women.

Paying homage to Frank Serpico, this is an exhilarating taut police procedural as one honest cop brings down a corrupt department but pays the price in his personal life and on the job where he wears the “Scarlet Letter” of traitor. Fast-paced from the moment Tom enters a hostage situation involving one of the cops he turned in and never slows down as he works a deadly beat with two tyros; one barely graduated the academy and the other a black female who the brass wants to force out as racially and sexually undesirable. Diogenes would have found his honest man in Tom, but even the Greek mythical traveler would wonder whether honesty is the best policy.

Harriet Klausner

Hot Button-Kylie Logan

Hot Button

Kylie Logan

Berkley Prime Crime, Jun 5 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780425251355

Who would ever have thought that buttons and murder would go together like peanut butter and jelly? Button Box Shop owner Josie Giancola never remotely saw that deadly combo until she was Button-Holed in a homicide.

Currently Josie as the Chair of the International Society of Antiques and Vintage Button Collectors hosts an international conference. Her first inkling that this gala will not be smooth occurs at the airport where she picks up the star attraction Thad Wyant who is abrasive and arrogant. He expects hand and foot catering to his needs including an endless flow of alcohol. He is the guest of honor because he is the only known collector to possess a historic Geronimo button with the correct provenance. At the conference, he proves even uglier than at the airport; he has a public feud with a collector, pushes aside an elderly woman, and steals supplies from a vendor. A hotel security guard finds Thad’s corpse in the hotel laundry room. Josie’s friend Detective Nevin Riley leads the investigation and though he hesitates he enlists her help since he knows nothing about the world of button collectors and she proved to be a good sleuth on a recent homicide case (see Button-Holed).

The second Button Box mystery is a fascinating cozy starring an interesting cast that includes the gala attendees (eccentric crowd), the victim (a pompous A-hole), the protagonist (independent and resolute though others insists obstinate and obsessive), the cop (think Colombo) and the king of chutzpah Josie’s ex-husband Kaz needing a favor. Once again, Kylie Logan overcomes the sub-genre flaw of why the heroine investigates with this entertaining whodunit.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Diva Digs Up Dirt-Krista Davis

The Diva Digs Up Dirt

Krista Davis

Berkley Prime Crime, Jun 5 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 978-0425251348

In Alexandria, persistent Mona pleads with Sophie Winston to find her missing daughter Linda who vanished five years ago. Sophie explains she has never found a missing person and is not an investigator. Meanwhile her ex-husband Mar’s girlfriend Natasha wants to star on TV so she arranges with Tear It Up With Troy to fix up the backyard; however, she uses Sophie’s backyard as their venue.

Sophie temporarily moves into her boyfriend Wolf’s home. When she digs up a dead rosebush in his yard, she uncovers a purse belonging to his missing wife. As she tries to avoid speculating whether a body is buried in the yard, two poisoned corpses are found.

The latest Domestic Diva Mystery (see The Diva Haunts the House) is an engaging amateur sleuth as the heroine prefers digging in real dirt not homicidal dirt. The gardening tips are fun and the whodunit entertaining. However, the cast seems too aloof as none including the protagonist get excited over murders and a potential homicide. Still this is a fun Old Town murder mystery as Sophie ends up investigating.

Harriet Klausner

Corpse In The Crystal Ball-Kari Lee Townsend

Corpse In The Crystal Ball

Kari Lee Townsend

Berkley Prime Crime, Jun 5 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780425251331

Psychic Sunny Meadows left New York City to live in pastoral Divinity, New York where she opened up a fortuneteller shop. However, her arrival proved not very blissful as she worked to prove her innocence in the town librarian Amanda Robbins murder case (see Tempest In The Tea Leaves).

Sunny is attracted to police detective Mitch Stone who she met when he suspected her as Amanda’s killer. When Mitch’s former girlfriend Isabel Gonzales arrives in town to reclaim him, Sunny is surprised that she is jealous. Sunny uses her crystal ball to perform a reading for Isabel and learns the woman has some dire secrets. Not long afterward, Isabel vanishes and Sunny locates her corpse via her crystal ball. Near her murdered body is a clue that points to Mitch as her murderer. Sunny offers to help the police on their inquiry using her crystal ball to identity the killer.

The second Fortune Teller Mystery is an entertaining paranormal police procedural in which the cops use Sunny’s talent on their homicide investigation. Mindful of Victoria Laurie's Abby Cooper, Psychic Eye but with its own unique spin, this is a wonderful fast-paced crystal ball whodunit.

Harriet Klausner

Grace Among Thieves- Julie Hyzy

Grace Among Thieves

Julie Hyzy

Berkley Prime Crime, Jun 5 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780425251393

In Emberstowne, North Carolina, Grace Wheaton manages Marshfield Manor, a combination manor house and museum that is a popular tourist attraction. Security chief Terrence Carr is concerned with recent thefts while Grace worries about the drop in tourism due to the recession.

Currently there is a movie being made to immortalize the manor while the owner Bennett Marshfield’s stepdaughter Hillary Singletary is back causing trouble for the filmmaker Corbin Shaw. Bennett suspects Hillary is the thief. Grace follows Lenore Honore when the petit woman enters a forbidden area. Terrance, followed by others, arrives. Not long afterward the corpse of Lenore is found in an off limit area; Terence tells Grave, the victim was pushed to her death. While Corbin is attracted to Grace (while Jack seemingly is not anymore), she investigates the murder and the thefts.

The third Manor House Mystery (see Grace Under Pressure and Grace Interrupted) is an engaging twisting amateur sleuth. The case is fun due to the eccentric staff and Lenore the spoiled nudnik who come alive under Grace’s inquiry. Cozy fans will enjoy visiting the North Carolina mountains with Grace as our guide.

Harriet Klausner

Faithful Unto Death- Stephanie Jaye Evans

Faithful Unto Death

Stephanie Jaye Evans

Berkley Prime Crime, Jun 5 2012, $15.00

ISBN: 9780425247730

In Sugar Land, Texas, thirteen year old Jessica Min finds attorney Graham Garcia dead on Bridgewater Country Club Golf Course. Police Detective James Wanderley leads the homicide inquiry. He learns that former U of Texas Longhorn football player turned preacher Walker “Bear” Wells met with the victim a week ago.

However, Bear refuses to reveal what they discussed as he insists he must honor his pledge of confidentiality even with Graham dead. Frustrated Wanderley insists the homicide ended the vow of silence. Already overworked with church business, Bear gets deeper involved with the trouble Graham family and learns one of his two daughters is dating the chief suspect, the deceased’s son Alex. Bear reluctantly decides to investigate.

Intelligent, caring and flippant even when invoking the Lord; Bear is a wonderful amateur sleuth as he follows clues around a seemingly paradise. The whodunit is low keyed but fun to follow as Bear escorts the reader around Sugar Land as the hero finds out his theological tomes may sell better on Amazon due to the murder case, but he is no Stephanie meyer.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

No One Left To Tell-Karen Rose

No One Left To Tell

Karen Rose

Signet, Jun 5 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780451236166

Paige Holden moved to Baltimore to start over as a private investigator. To her shock she watches someone shoot Elena Munoz. The dying woman tells her that cops chased her and gives her a flash drive. Elena believed that husband Ramon the gardener was wrongly convicted of murdering Crystal Jones during a party on the estate owned by retired Maryland State Senator James McCloud.

Assistant State Attorney Grayson Smith prosecuted the Munoz murder trial. The Elena assassination has him wondering whether he sent the wrong person to prison. Paige’s information adds to his doubts. When he intervenes on an assault against the rookie sleuth, Grayson concludes there is more to the Jones murder so with Holden at his side he investigates what was a closed and shut case only to find a decade of murder and blackmail reaching to the highest levels of the state.

The second Karen Rose Baltimore romance suspense (see You Belong To Me) is an action-packed thriller from the opening homicide until the final confrontation. The romantic subplot between the passionate P.I. and the pragmatic ADA is deftly handled to simmer before boiling over while the investigation takes front and center. Well written, sub-genre readers will enjoy this twisting tale

Harriet Klausner

Monday, May 7, 2012

Tattooed-Pamela Callow


Pamela Callow

Mira, May 29 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780778313021

After spending over a decade behind bars on a manslaughter conviction followed by an assault conviction, John McNally leaves prison. He blames his incarceration on attorney Kate Lange who interfered with his plans along with his high school sweetheart Kenzie Sloane to kill Kate’s sister Imogen before opening up a tattoo parlor together. Kenzie even has their vow tattooed on her. Ironically, he muses that Kate’s rescue mission led to her sibling dying in a car crash.

Halifax Police Detective Ethan Drake confirms that the recently found remains are that of a girl who vanished in the 1990s. He investigates the cold case murder while a frightened Kenzie panics as she knows she shares a tattoo with the victim. Kate is soon in the crosshairs of a sinister psychopath who plots revenge on the woman who he knows cost him everything.

The latest Kate Lange Nova Scotia thriller (see Indefensible and Damaged) is a tense cat and mouse tale as the lawyer and a lunatic go at it. Intriguing is John whose violent history has him spent most of his life in institutions yet his first murder and other deadly assaults have not yet been tied to him. His complex personality makes for a strong taut suspense as readers anticipate a High Noon confrontation in Halifax under his rules of engagement.

Harriet Klausner

Going Organic Can Kill You-Staci McLaughlin

Going Organic Can Kill You

Staci McLaughlin

Kensington, Jul 1 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780758275004

After being unemployed for a year, Dana Lewis receives the perfect marketing job offer from a well-known company, but turns down the position. Instead she returns home to Blossom Valley, California to live with her still grieving widowed mom and her sister Ashlee. Dana hopes to help her mom, who has turned into a hermit since her spouse die last year. Dana wants her to reconnect with friends.

Her mother’s friend Esther O’Connell hires Dana to promote her new business O’Connell Organic Farm and Spa. It is not the ideal job as she chases after Wilbur the runaway pig, who’s an escape artist that Houdini would pay homage to. Dana assists a maid by placing fresh towels in the guest rooms when she finds the corpse of Hollywood producer Maxwell Mendelsohn with a sheep knife in his chest in a bed. Concerned for the spa’s reputation and her job, Dana investigates following clues that lead to the dead body of the beekeeper whose land abuts with that of Esther. The police, the staff and reporter Jason Forrester know the two deaths are connected, but like Dana no one knows how except the killer who plans on no degree of deadly separation from the Hollywood producer, the beekeeper and the nosy sisters.

The first Blossom Valley Mystery is a great regional cozy due to the strong cast struggling with the Great Recession. The heroine understands surviving in this downturn means embracing other duties as assigned as she goes the extra kilometer beyond blogging and other marketing tools. Readers obtain a close look at living in a small town during terrible economic times through mostly the Lewis females but also other townsfolk out of work.

Harriet Klausner