Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Sour Apples-Sheila Connolly

Sour Apples

Sheila Connolly

Berkley Prime Crime, Aug 7 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 978-0425251508

One year ago her Boston bank downsized her so Meg Corey bought an apple orchard in Granford, Massachusetts. Though she is learning on the job especially from her manager Briona Stewart, Meg feels good with the change in employment and likes selectman Seth Chapin.

Her only friend at the bank, Lauren Converse arrives in town as the campaign manager for former local football hero Rick Sainsbury who is running for Congress. Seth overly shows he loathes Rick but will not tell anyone why. Meanwhile a cow kicks and kills experienced dairy farmer Joyce Truesdell while her husband Ethan was away on business. However, the autopsy proves a homicide occurred and the police suspect Ethan killed his wife. Meg wonders if the motive had to do with government-owned land that the deceased was leasing and complaining was toxic. Unable to stay out of the inquiry, Meg investigates.

The latest Orchard Mystery (Bitter Harvest and A Killer Crop) is a fun amateur sleuth in which the whodunit comes towards the middle of the engaging storyline as life in a small western Massachusetts town takes center stage. Although meg has no reason to investigate as she only just met the victim once and never the husband until after the murder, fans will enjoy the heroine taking a bite out of crime in this fun regional cozy.

Harriet Klausner

A Spoonful Of Murder-Connie Archer

A Spoonful Of Murder

Connie Archer

Berkley Prime Crime, Aug 7 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780425251478

Life for Lucky Jamieson is turmoil and grief when her parents died in a car crash. She moves back to her hometown Snowflake, Vermont where the big business is the ski slopes. Lucky inherits her late parents' By the Spoonful soup shop. Unsure whether she wants to run a restaurant or what to do with the family home, Lucky considers her options especially what to do about Grandfather Jack, who shows signs of Alzheimer's.

One morning after a brutal ice storm, Lucky takes out the garbage only to find the frozen corpse of a repeat customer blond haired Patricia Honeywell just outside the soup shop. The police quickly arrest Lucky’s soup chef, Sage DuBois for murdering Patricia. Without him, there is no soup kitchen and besides she thinks her chef is innocent so Lucky, taking her mind off her grief, investigates.

The first Soup Lover's Mystery is an engaging amateur sleuth due to the troubled heroine and the delightful Vermont location. Lucky feels unlucky at the moment as she is unsure about her future, what to do about her granddad, and unable to move on with her parents’ deaths.

Although the storyline is typical of the culinary cozy, fans will thoroughly enjoy A Spoonful Of Murder as Lucky dives head first into a bowl of trouble.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, July 30, 2012

Ties That Bind-Natalie R. Collins

Ties That Bind

Natalie R. Collins

St. Martin's Griffin, Jul 31 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780312941994

In Kanesville, Utah, the Stake President Mark Malone finds his seventeen year old son Jeremiah hung himself using a tie. KPD Detective Samantha Montgomery becomes angry and frustrated when a peer at the death scene tampered with the evidence by removing the tie. Her boss Chief Roberson tells Sam to make the inquiry fast as he believes Jeremiah committed suicide. Sam feels the death is too similar to recent suicides by two girls Jeremiah’s age; she wonders if a serial killer stalks Kanesville.

Seminary principal and Sam’s high school sweetheart Pail Carlson shows his office computer screen to the police; someone with access to the seminary typed in “Vengeance”, which changes the cause for the three teen deaths from self-inflicted to murder. Salt Lake City Police Detective Gage Flint arrives to help on the investigation over the objection of Sam who blames him, her former lover, for her having to leave SLCPD. As they investigate, Vengeance watches Sam closely as she may be next.

Natalie R. Collins latest Mormon Church mystery (see Latter Day Saints, SisterWife and Wives And Sisters) is an exciting police procedural serial killer thriller. The engaging whodunit shines a light on the closed abusive patriarchal society especially in an insular small-town (one near Salt Lake City) in which a dark soul rationalizes his actions by claiming he is God’s Vengeance against sinners; though one must wonder why he waited to attack Sam who disavowed any connection to the Church. Although Sam can be too angry, fans will understand why with her older sister dead but still inside her head, her dad condemning her wicked ways and her mom a vegetable.

Harriet Klausner

False Impressions-Laura Caldwell

False Impressions

Laura Caldwell

Mira, Aug 21 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780778313731

In Chicago, Maggie Bristol of Bristol & Associates is going on maternity leave so she needs her best friend and employee lawyer- private investigator Izzy McNeil to take more responsibility. Izzy owes Maggie who assister her transition from entertainment law to criminal law so will do what it takes to keep her BFF’s firm functioning.

Her friend Mayburn asks Izzy to do him a favor. His former lover art gallery owner Madeline Saga has recently learned some originals she sold were fakes. Madeline insists that when she first obtained these works they were originals; so far she has not gone to the police because she will be ruined. Izzy investigates knowing this has to be an inside job by either someone working at the gallery or an artist. The case turns ugly when this unknown adversary threatens to kill Madeline. Packer cheesehead Detective Damon Vaughn tries to help Izzy the Bears fan when she becomes a target too.

The latest Izzy McNeil Chicago Files (see Question of Trust, Red Blood Murder Claim of Innocence and Red Hot Lies) is an engaging tale in which the whodunit though well written plays second fiddle to the changes in Izzy’s life. Readers will appreciate Izzy’s tour of Chicago’s art scene as she learns the Agony and the Ecstasy (by Irving stone) that art imitates art.

Harriet Klausner

South by Southeast-Blair Underwood, Tananarive Due and Steven Barnes

South by Southeast

Blair Underwood, Tananarive Due and Steven Barnes

Atria, Sep 18 2012, $15.00

ISBN: 9781451650631

In Los Angeles, highly regarded director Gustavo Escobar hires actor Tennyson Hardwick to play the key role of the first victim in Freaknik, a zombie horror movie. Ten, his ailing dad and his eighteen year old not quite adopted daughter Chela are in South Beach for the film. Left back in Southern California is his ex-April.

During the shoot, Chela’s street friend Maria arrives at the set. They go out together clubbing in Miami at the Phoenix like they did a few years ago before Ten took the former off the street. Not long afterward, Maria’s murdered corpse is found with the police believing she was the latest victim of a serial killer stalking hookers in South Florida. Ten investigates the death and soon believes he knows the identity of the killer. However, the culprit commits suicide so the case is closed except someone murders a person Ten cares about and threatens the two females he loves.

The latest Tennyson Hardwick mystery (see from Cape Town With Love, In The Heat of the Night and Casanegra) is an exciting street thriller though between his reconciliation with his dad and his love for April and Chela the hero has lost some of his hard-boiled noir edge. For instance he is like every caring parent setting rules as he worries about his teenage daughter clubbing. His adversary is a diabolical brilliant serial killer who places Ten in what the military calls a Morton’s fork selection between two horrible choices each leading to death. Readers will appreciate Ten’s dilemma as death stalks him and his loved ones.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Scone Island-Frederick Ramsay

Scone Island

Frederick Ramsay

Poisoned Pen, Aug 7 2012, $24.95

ISBN 9781464200557

Former CIA agent turned Picketsville, Virginia sheriff Ike Schwartz and his fiancée Callend University president Ruth Dennis vacation at Scone Island off the coast of Maine. Though she calls him a chauvinist pig, Ike plans to be gentle with his Ruth, who recovers from injuries suffered in a neat fatal hit and run (see Rogue), and has had a year that would have tested Job. Ike selected the location for the amenities it did not have like phone service so that Ruth can rest.

The suspicious death of Harmon Staley has natives begging Ike to help on their inquiry while Ruth fumes. His CIA buddy Charlie Garland who helped him on Ruth’s hit and run investigation tries to contact Ike who refuses to respond at a time unknown adversaries assassinate some of their former comrades with a Maine barrier island targeted next.

The latest Ike Schwartz thriller (see Secrets and Buffalo Mountain) is a superb tale from the opening bantering between the engaged couple until the final altercation in which Ruth rips skin from the CIA chief. With Scone island becoming Groucho’s cabin in a Night At the Opera as a horde including Ruth’s mom invade while the heroine insists they would have been better off in Vegas hiding in plain sight. Fans will enjoy this strong entry as Ike’s past arrives with an avaricious vengeance.

Harriet Klausner

Champagne: The Farewell-Janet Hubbard

Champagne: The Farewell

Janet Hubbard

Poisoned Pen, Aug 7 2012, $24.95

ISBN 9781464200793

NYPD detective Maxine Maguire flies to France to attend the wedding of family friend Chloe Marceau in Champagne, France. At the gala, Max meets and is attracted to older juge d’instruction Olivier Chaumont; he introduces her to Detective Abdel Zeroual. However, the nuptials are marred when at the wedding dinner someone murders Chloe’s fortyish widow Aunt Lea de Saint-Pern, the owner of a major vineyard.

A reluctant cop, Max plans to stay out of the homicide investigation that Olivier leads. However, she ends up getting involved when a second murder of a family member occurs. As she applies the sleuthing skills her dad Hank the legendary New York cop taught her, Max cleverly questions those in attendance only to find several suspects all tied to owning the vineyard.

The first French wine region mystery is an engaging whodunit starring an intriguing American with French blood from her mamam and police blood on her paternal side. Though the ending is abrupt yet fascinating, fans will toast Janet Hubbard with Champagne for an entertaining action-packed investigation.

Harriet Klausner

Dying Echo-Judy Clemens

Dying Echo

Judy Clemens

Poisoned Pen, Aug 7 2012, $24.95

ISBN 9781464200236

Ricky sits in jail accused of murdering his girlfriend waitress Alicia McManus. Attorney Don Winter notifies Ricky’s older sister Casey Maldonado. She, accompanied by her traveling companion Death, hitchhike home to prove Ricky is innocent as she firmly believes he could not kill anyone though the cops and the DA believe they have a perfect case.

On the way she begs Death take her to her late husband and baby once they solve the case. Death informs troubled Casey that when he took away Elizabeth Mann, Alicia’s real name, she alluded to the Three. Casey meets Eric Van Diepenbos, who offers to help her on her investigation. They along with Death look into the victim’s history only to find a top secret past.

The latest Grim Reaper mystery (see Embrace the Grim Reaper and Flowers for Her Grave) is a gender bending thriller as the hard-boiled heroine kicks butt while the male is her softer sidekick. The whodunit is fun and fans will feel the anguish of Ricky when she is not kicking butt. Although the attraction between Casey and Eric never seems plausible except as Batwoman and Robin and the final confrontation has too much chatter, fans of the series will enjoy meeting another member of the family.

Harriet Klausner

What You Wish For-Janet Dawson

What You Wish For

Janet Dawson

Perseverance, Sep 10 2012, $15.95

ISBN 9781564745187

Retired San Francisco history professor Lindsey Page has lunch with her two friends Gretchen Segal and Claire Megarris; but the trio knows it is not the same as the fourth member of their sisterhood Annabel recovers from a stroke. They discuss family and Lindsey admits she has not heard from her daughter Nina since she walked out swearing to never see her mom again four months ago when she left with Chad for Austin. However, each has secrets that if surfaced will shake their long time friendship forged back in the late 1960s at Berkley. After leaving her buddies, Lindsey finds Nina who asks to stay with her mom for a few days.

Meanwhile Lindsey is conducting interviews for her new book on Latin American female immigrants who fled their homelands due to war, deprivation and torture. One of the people she has talked with, immigrant Flor Cooper asks for her help. Her El Salvadoran village was the sight of a massacre in 1989, but she believes her son Efraín, a baby back then, survived the atrocity as she swears she saw at the Berkeley Farmers Market a man the right age that looks just like her executed husband Atenacio.

Rotating between the Bay area and El Salvatore, the 1970s, 1989 and the present, Janet Dawson provides a thought provoking thriller as the author invokes the deadly full cost of a cup of coffee. The subplots interweave while perspective change so that readers obtain a rich suspenseful blend that will stun the audience with the profound look at the outcome two decades after the coffee war massacres.

Harriet Klausner

Severe Clear-Stuart Woods

Severe Clear

Stuart Woods

Putnam, Sep 18 2012, $26.95

ISBN 9780399159848

Dignities flock to Bel Air for the grand opening of the luxurious Arrington Hotel built on the estate of Stone Barrington’s late wife Arrington Carter. American President Lee, his Mexican counterpart, other foreign leaders and royals, billionaires and Hollywood’s A list are among the who’s who attendong the gala. Also at the bash besides Stone are police detective Dino Bacchetti and lawyer Herbie Fisher.

Security is at its highest level as the Arrington is a prime terrorist target with so many of the elite attending the bash. NSA overhears chatter that targets the Arrington. They work with other agencies like the CIA’s Holly Barker to prevent a calamity while Stone enjoys the party atmosphere.

Though the usual over abundant mix of food, sex, wine and more sex are major ingredients, this is an exciting Barrington thriller (see Unnatural Acts). Fast-paced once Stone and the alphas (Fed agencies not the TV series) begin their counter measures, fans will enjoy the latest Barrington tale though once again the hero’s involvement seems over the top of the Hollywood sign.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, July 27, 2012

To The Grave-Carlene Thompson

To The Grave

Carlene Thompson

St. Martin's, Jul 31 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780312360757

Catherine Gray returns to Aurora Falls to establish her psychology practice. Her teenage unrequited love James Eastman has a legal practice in town. James met his troubled ex-wife Renée in New Orleans when he attended Tulane University law school. She left Aurora Falls three years ago without a warning; not a word since she departed.

Catherine shows her sister Melissa, James’ country estate where both are shocked to find Renée’s murdered corpse. They call the police who investigate the homicide while wondering why the victim came back to town and who someone wanted her dead. At the same time the cops make their inquiries, another homicide occurs, which leads Catherine to wonder if she is next on the killer’s queue.

This is an exciting romantic suspense with a strong murder mystery anchoring the engaging storyline. Although neither lead character nor any of the support players including the corpse comes across as fully developed, readers will want to know who killed Renée and why as the whodunit grips the audience from the start to the final confrontation.

Harriet Klausner

The Dead Women of Juárez-Sam Hawken

The Dead Women of Juárez

Sam Hawken

Serpent’s Tail, Sep 4 2012, $14.95

ISBN: 9781846687747

Texan Kelly Courter fought in the States as a welterweight. Now boxing on the other side of the border from El Paso in Ciudad Juárez, he is a middleweight but that is irrelevant as there is no weigh-ins before a bout; instead fighting south of the border is catch-all weight. He understands what the fans want is gringo blood and his face shows his comprehension.

Kelly is seeing Paloma, the sister of his friend drug dealer Estéban. At the same time, Mexican veteran police detective Rafael Sevilla investigates drug related violence in the border city that he believes is the factor behind the missing most likely dead women. Paloma joins the survivor’s family advocacy group, but soon afterward men take her away. Rafael and Kelly team up trying to rescue the latest victim by solving the serial disappearances and probably murders of The Dead Women of Juárez.

Based on the real tragedy of the shocking female homicide rate over the last two decades, The Dead Women of Juárez is an exciting hard-boiled thriller that that throws plenty of hooks and upper cuts in a violent crime thriller. The storyline initially focuses on the washed-up Texan before placing the weary detective in charge. Although the transition between them as lead is weak, fans will want to go the distance with both of them as Sam Hawken provides a strong gory tale.

Harriet Klausner

Trust Your Eyes

Linwood Barclay

NAL, Sep 4 2012, $25.95

ISBN 9780451237903

Sexagenarian farmer Adam Kilbride dies in a tragic tractor accident. His son Ray an illustrator returns home to Promise Falls, New York for his dad’s funeral. With the death of his father, Ray’s biggest fear has arrived: how to take care of Thomas, his schizophrenic map savant brother.

Thomas lives on the Whirl360 website studying and memorizing layouts of cities so when the internet crashes, he will replicate them for the CIA. However, Thomas goes viral when he demands his older brother investigate a homicide he witnessed on the Whirl360 images of Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Reluctantly Adam agrees though he does not believing his sibling saw a murder of a woman on the net. However, a former cop and his ice pick henchwoman become aware of the pair’s inquiry. The Kilbride bothers are now part of their cleaning up a botched crime.

Trust Your Eyes is a gripping thriller that increasingly turns convoluted and violent. The storyline is fast-paced from the moment Thomas insists he witnessed a homicide over the web and never slows down as the reader anticipates a High Noon showdown on the mean streets of Manhattan between the sympathetic amateur sleuthing siblings and the vile vicious murdering duet.

Harriet Klausner

A Heartbeat Away

Harry Kraus

David C. Cook, Sept 1 2012, $14.99

ISBN: 9781434702579

Her peers and patients felt that top rate surgeon Dr. Victoria “Tori” Taylor is great in the OR, but lacked a heart; she is especially hard on support staff. Ironically, Tori receives a heart when she is the recipient of an emergency transplant.

Tori struggles to accept her new found feelings of commiserating with people rather than keeping her frozen professional distance. However, what disturbs Tori most is the recurring horrific nightmare of a murder. She wonders if her new heart is transmitting “cellular memories” from the donor. Obsessed with a need to uncover the identity of who killed her former heart’s owner, Tori and therapist Phin MacGregor investigate while the cops thinks she became unhinged by her near death experience except for one veteran. Meanwhile someone knows the surgeon and the therapist are searching for a killer.

This tense medical thriller grips readers on two levels as a strong murder mystery and a second chance at life redemption tale. The fast-paced storyline deftly merges medical technology with amateur sleuthing as a Tin Man-like heroine figuratively finds her heart.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Detroit Breakdown-D.E. Johnson

Detroit Breakdown

D.E. Johnson

Minotaur, Sep 4 2012, $25.99

ISBN: 9781250006622

In 1912 in the Detroit area, the caller informs Elizabeth Hume that her cousin Robert Clarke, a lifelong resident of the Eloise Insane Asylum is suspected of murdering another patient. Elizabeth tries to speak with her cousin, but is told no since Robbie is being kept in solitary confinement as this is the fourth person murdered by the Phantom using the “Punjab lasso”.

She asks her friend P. I Will Anderson to help. Elizabeth volunteers at the facility in order to prove her Robbie is innocent. Will pretends to suffer from amnesia so he is committed as a patient at Eloise Hospital. As the two along with Police Detective Riordan investigate the serial killings, Will learns what it is like to be a helpless patient with no champion to protect him from the abuse and abasement of the staff.

With a reminder of the need for vigilance to protect those most helpless (think of Willowbrook in the 1960s), Detroit Breakdown is a powerful dark historical noir. Fast-paced from the moment Will enters the asylum, readers will be shocked by the treatment he receives. The serial killer inquiry is superb, but it is the conditions at the Eloise Insane Asylum that grips the audience as D.E. Johnson provides another superb Anderson Motor City Shakedown (see Anderson Electric Car).

Harriet Klausner

L.A. Fadeaway-Jordon Okun

L.A. Fadeaway

Jordon Okun

Touchstone, Sep 11 2012, $15.00

ISBN: 9781451651980

In his early twenties, he was born with a gold spoon and a sense of entitlement as his parents gave him anything he wanted. His father being the head of a major talent agenct got him an entry level as position as a mail clerk at one of the most prominent talent agencies in Los Angeles. For following his elated dad into the business by adhering to his father’s master plan for him, he was given a home in Versailles, an unlimited credit card and a very expensive sports car.

However, he is far from happy as the pressure on him to succeed due to DNA mounts exponentially with every promotion. He uses Xanax, alcohol and marijuana like candy to stay calm. His current job is the assistant to Nick Rizzo, which means being 24/7 on call. He does whatever his boss tells him to do even unethical and potentially illegal things. When David Michaels fires Nick, he survives by transferring his loyalties to the former. David assigns him the task of signing up a client so he uses blackmail to accomplice the mission. A chip off the old amoral block, he will do anything to achieve his goals.

With a nod to Budd Schulberg’s What Makes Sammy Run?, L.A. Fadeaway is a fascinating character study of an unlikable but charismatic individual, whose ambition and his sense of entitlement enables him to stomp on anyone in his way. The nameless narrator makes the tale as a contemporary Sammy Glick who has no compunctions about his place as numero uno in the Hollywood celestial universe.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Low Pressure-Sandra Brown

Low Pressure

Sandra Brown

Grand Central, Sep 18 2012, $26.99

ISBN 9781455501557

Bellamy Price never moved passed the murder of her sister Susan Lyston in Austen though almost two decades have passed. Now thirtyish the troubled Bellamy writes a novel under a pseudonym based on the homicide as a means of closure. Low Pressure becomes a best seller and Bellamy is exposed as the actual author.

Many people involved in Susan’s life become angry at Bellamy for opening up wounds. Susan’s boyfriend pilot Denton Carter is especially livid as he was at one time the prime suspect, but had a perfect alibi to exonerate him. Also upset is violent Ray Strickland, whose brother Allen was convicted of the homicide and eventually murdered in prison; he blames Susan for his sibling’s death. When an unknown adversary trashes her house and attacks Bellamy and Dent, they team up to investigate who is retaliating for her book and why he is a target too. Dent also believes Bellamy’s suppressed memory of what happened on that fatal night before the tornado destroyed the murder scene is the key.

This is an exhilarating romantic suspense starring three interesting flawed individuals tied together by the late Susan as each has weaknesses (though sociopathic violent Ray would deny it after hammering your head with an object). The romantic subplot enhances the mystery by adding tension to an already taut situation. Action-packed, fans will appreciate Sandra Brown’s Low Pressure

Harriet Klausner

Dead Anyway-Chris Knopf

Dead Anyway

Chris Knopf

Permanent Press, Sep 15 2012, $28.00

ISBN: 9781579622831

In Stamford, Connecticut, market researcher Arthur Cathcart returns home only to be greeted by a horrific sight. A stranger has a gun aimed at his wife Florencia’s head. He demands she sing a document. Once she does he executes Arthur and Florencia.

Florencia dies while Arthur is in a coma. Several months later he awakens. With the help of his sister a doctor, Arthur is declared dead so that he can obtain a new identity, which he learns is not as easy as TV claims. Still, his objective to learn who and why keeps him focused as revenge may be a dish served cold but tasty when the goal is left even colder.

The key to this powerful thriller is the difficulty Arthur finds in reinventing himself if he wants to function in a way that enables him to complete his life mission. Though his sibling’s medical occupation is too convenient, the spellbinding storyline is fast-paced but character driven by an obsessed Arthur who will do anything to kill his killer; which means entering the lethal world of professional hit-men and organized crime.

Harriet Klausner

Luther: The Calling-Neil Cross

Luther: The Calling

Neil Cross

Touchstone, Sep 4 2012, $25.00

ISBN 9781451673098

In London, the killer mutilated the bodies of Tom and Sarah Lambert before removing an eight-and-a-half-month-old fetus from the womb of the female victim. The assignment to find the infant goes to Scotland Yard Detective Chief Inspector John Luther, who is the best at apprehending killers though he increasingly acts unstable.

Already suffering from OCD and a failing marriage as his wife believes he is wedded to homicide cases; John knows the priority is to rescue the baby who hopefully lives. Filled with rage after years of unending battles with psychopaths, Luther vows to do anything to save the baby as time is running out. He also pledges to himself if he finds infanticide has occurred Luther painfully will kill the SOB.

This is an intriguing look at the case that drove the London cop over the edge mentally. The storyline is fast-paced, but does not quite capture the intense anger of the TV show or what led him to the precipice. Still this is an exciting police procedural as Luther will do anything necessary to save a life.

Harriet Klausner

A Wanted Man-Lee Child

A Wanted Man

Lee Child

Delacorte, Sep 11 2012, $28.00

ISBN: 9780385344333

On an eastbound Nebraska highway Jack Reacher seeks a ride that will take him to Omaha or Lincoln where he can ride a bus to Virginia. Two men (Alan King and Don McQueen) and a woman (Karen Delfuenso) pick him up; his goal is Virginia as soon as possible. In the other direction at a gas station is the corpse of a man who was professionally murdered.

County Sheriff Victor Goodman calls the FBI in Omaha who claim jurisdiction and leave with the body while a roadblock is set up to find the two men. The vehicle with Reacher manages to get around the roadblock and soon enters Iowa. FBI Agent Julie Sorenson leads the pursuit at the same time Jack realizes that Karen is not part of a trio but unsure why she is with this male duo.

Continuing Reacher’s journey to Virginia (see 61 Hours and Worth Dying For), A Wanted Man is an exciting twisting thriller as the former military cop learns moms are right about hitching a ride. Though over the top of Panorama Point, fast-paced throughout this is an exciting Reacher tale as his biggest fear is being trapped in a motel in Kansas.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Caravan of Thieves- David Rich

Caravan of Thieves

David Rich

Dutton, Aug 30 2012, $25.95

ISBN: 9780525952886

After going undercover in Afghanistan, U.S. Marine Lenten Rollie Waters returns to his home station Camp Pendleton, California. While driving his jeep, two men shoot the window. Rollie forces them off the road. However, the brass claims he drove while under the influence and declare he went AWOL before tossing him in the brig.

Knowing the charges are false but aware that means nada, Rollie kind of expects what the CO wants from him. Thus he is not surprised when his superior officer orders Rollie to find his con artist father Dan and recover the millions his dad stole from the loot taken from Saddam Hussein during the 2003 invasion of Baghdad. To locate his father, Rollie must separate the needle of truth from the haystack of deceptions.

This is a powerful thriller starring two fabulous antagonists sharing DNA. The storyline is filled with stunning twists inside of an exciting investigation. The key to this enjoyable suspense is the deep psychological look at the dysfunctional relationship between a law abiding young man and his felonious undependable father.

Harriet Klausner

Gone-Randy Wayne White


Randy Wayne White

Putnam, Sep 4 2012, $25.95

ISBN: 9780399158490

In Florida, the squall sent strong fisherwoman Hannah Smith hustling her two wealthy clients to safety though Lawrence Seasons questions how she takes him and his companion New York attorney Martha Calder-Shaun to safety. Mr. Seasons asks Hannah to meet with him for lunch to discuss a case involving the other work she “inherited” from her late uncle. He says his niece Olivia sort of disappeared as none of her family knows where she is though she calls every two weeks to the executor’s office as required by her trust. When Hannah asks what if his niece does not want to be found by him; he responds if she signs one legal document she gains control of $90 million. Finally Mr. Sessions explains he believes Olivia is living on a boat off the west Florida coast.

Though no longer a sleuth as that line of work failed to pay the bills and is normally boring, Hannah agrees to search for the missing niece as her fishing client makes an offer she cannot refuse; besides her strong sense of right coaxes her to insure Olivia is okay. She begins her search for Olivia finding clues that make Hannah wonder if the heiress was not voluntarily hiding.

With Doc Ford taking a respite though referred to, fans will appreciate tall, big and strong Hannah as she proves she is a super fishing guide and a not by the book investigator. She makes the storyline work though the support cast adds depth with diversity. Fans will enjoy Hannah making waves as she intimidates people with her size and her take no prisoners attitude while searching for the missing heiress.

Harriet Klausner

Death Of A Neighborhood Witch-Laura Levine

Death Of A Neighborhood Witch

Laura Levine

Kensington, Aug 28 2012, $24.00

ISBN 9780758238498

Freelance writer Jaine Austen lives in the slums of Beverly Hills amongst retirees. However, though logically she knows not to buy Halloween candy as no one goes trick or treating in her neighbor, the chocolates talk to her so she stocks up.

A hunk Peter Connor the book editor moves next door. Jaine thinks he will prove better than sugared candy (well almost as good); while her cat Prozac seems attracted to him; and shoe salesman Lance Venable challenges her for Peter’s affection. As Jaine and Lance compete for Peter, even acrimonious former TV monster mommy actress Cryptessa Muldoon is nice to the new kid on the block. When Prozac gives Cryptessa’s parakeet Van Helsing a heart attack, she tells Jaine see you in small claims court. Soon afterward, on Halloween, someone bludgeons Cryptessa with her own Do Not Trespass sign. VHPD looks at Jaine as the prime suspect.

The latest humorous Jaine Austen amateur sleuth (see Last Writes and Pampered to Death) is an enjoyable lighthearted cozy that lampoons fan obsession with where are they now Hollywood has-beens. Fast-paced, Jaine has two critical issues to confront: first finding the real killer and second not chomping on all the candy she bought that talks to her seductively saying softly “eat me”.

Harriet Klausner

Imitation of Death-Cheryl Crane

Imitation of Death

Cheryl Crane

Kensington, Aug 28 2012, $25.00

ISBN 9780758258885

Spoiled abusive Eddie Bernard, son of a major TV producer, is found murdered in a dumpster in an alley near the Beverly Hills mansion of legendary superstar actress Victoria Bordeaux. The killer stabbed Eddie in the chest with pruning shears belonging to the Bordeaux gardener Jorge Delgado.

Victoria’s realtor daughter Nikki Harper knows her friend quick-tempered Jorge would not murder even an obnoxious a-hole like Eddie. Though she admits to herself the evidence is very strong as, besides the murder weapon belonging to Jorge, Nikki witnessed a public argument between the pair in Victoria’s driveway with Eddie holding a gun. Though her last sleuthing effort (see The Bad Always Die Twice) was a near disaster, Nikki uses her DNA connection to investigate the homicide at the same time the media howls for the death penalty.

The second Nikki Harper Mystery is a lighthearted fun amateur sleuth as the heroine uses her pedigree to meet a horde of suspects who wanted Bernard dead. Her relationship with her mother brings humor to an entertaining whodunit as Cheryl Crane lampoons celebrity status in an engaging investigation.

Harriet Klausner

Murder of the Cat’s Meow-Denise Swanson

Murder of the Cat’s Meow

Denise Swanson

Obsidian, Sep 4 2012, $7.99

ISBN 9780451237811

In Scumble River, Illinois, the previous occupant the late Mrs. Griggs breaks Skye Denison’s Grandma Leonfanti’s cookie jar. The frustrated school psychologist and police consultant warns the ghost to stop her haunting or else her fiancé Police Chief Wally Boyd will not move in with her as most incidents occur when he is in the house.

Wally attends a police chief certification program in Springfield. Frannie calls Skye from Bunny Lanes with an emergency. Skye rushes over to the bowling alley owned by former Vegas dancer Bunny Reid. There she sees Elijah Jacobson dangling Alexis Hightower in the air using one hand on her throat while cuddling his cat Princess with his other hand. Bunny intercedes and accidently hammers Skye instead of Elijah. An injured Skye learns that Bunny, Frannie and computer expert Justin started a matchmaking web site CupidsCatsMeow.com in which almost exclusively cat lovers joined. Thus they host a cat show with Alexis as the judge combined with speed dating for the pet owners. Not long afterward the obnoxious judge is found dead in the bowling alley basement.

The return to Scumble River (see Murder of a Creped Suzette) is an amusing madcap cozy starring an intrepid heroine who muses how she became the center of craziness and a strong quirky support cast; especially wherever Bunny steps, trouble follows. The humorous storyline contains several other supporting zany subplots, but the prime tale centers on investigating the case of death by a cat toy.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, July 23, 2012

Stranger in the Room-Amanda Kyle Williams

Stranger in the Room

Amanda Kyle Williams

Bantam, Aug 21 2012, $26.00

ISBN: 9780553808087

Private investigator and former FBI profiler Keye Street and Atlanta Police Department Lieutenant Aaron Rauser look forward to a restful Fourth of July weekend together. However, this being hot Atlanta, a respite over a holiday weekend proves impossible. Aaron Rauser investigates the strangling death of a teenage boy while Keye tries to persuading her emotionally damaged relative Miki that no one entered her home or stalks her.

Keye and her computer genius Neil head to Creeklaw County to work on a chicken feed crematorium case. When a second murder in Atlanta involving the hanging of an elderly man occurs Keye offers profile services to Aaron while both look into Miki’s frightened accusations.

The second Keye Street investigative thriller (see The Stranger You Seek) is a terrific tale as the heroine works her cases and helps Aaron with his. They team up on Miki’s assertion as both realize sometimes there can be someone chasing after a drug-addled paranoid while the crematorium subplot will remind Atlanta readers of the Tri-State Crematory scandal. Fans will enjoy this exciting Hotlanta regional mystery.

Harriet Klausner

Bones Are Forever-Kathy Reichs

Bones Are Forever

Kathy Reichs

Scribner, Aug 28 2012, $26.00

ISBN: 9781439102435

In Montreal, Amy Roberts arrives at the Honore Mercier ER suffering from vagina bleeding. Dr. Kutchemeshgi realizes the disoriented woman recently gave birth, but is distracted by an influx of victims from a car pile-up. Amy leaves. Kutchemeshgi calls Surete du Quebec. Homicide Lieutenant Detective Andrew Ryan goes to the address Roberts gave to the hospital. She had used the name Alma Rogers at the apartment house, but is obviously gone. With forensic anthologist Temperance Brennan and several cops they search for proof of the baby. They find the remains of one in the bath; a second decomposed in the window seat and pepper the dog finds the third in a closet. Ralph Trees arrives for paid sex with Alva Rodriguez who apparently fled to Edmonton.

Joining Andrew and Tempe on the case is Royal Canadian Mounted Police Sergeant Ollie Hasty, who had a fling with the latter just after her divorce. They head to Edmonton where they find a fourth newborn corpse. The trio pursues the mother who heads to Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories unprepared for what awaits them as diamonds are not a girl’s best friend.

The latest Temperance Brennan forensic police procedural (see Flash and Bones) is an exhilarating thriller in which the three investigators follow the horrible infanticide trail. This case especially haunts Tempe whose son died at three from leukemia. The relational triangle is a bit too coincidental, but adds tension to the storyline as the two men compete in different ways to claim Tempe who wishes both would tone down the testosterone. Fast-paced from the onset, series fans will appreciate this chilling tale.

Harriet Klausner

The Devil’s Madonna-Sharon Potts

The Devil’s Madonna

Sharon Potts

Oceanview, Sep 4 2012. $25.95

ISBN 9781608090495

In Miami, pregnant artist Kali Miller and her husband Seth dine at his parents’ home when the hospital calls her. To her dismay, her beloved nonagenarian Austrian grandma Lillian Campbell almost burned down her house.

Kali questions Lillian about her mom’s death and her grandma’s life in 1930s Austria and Berlin, and the death However, the response is a shocker as her grandma seems paranoid, psychotically frightened and withdrawn while insisting someone from seven decades ago has found her. Wondering what is going on, Kali fears she has a stalker though she cannot figure out whom or why. At the same time she searches for a small painting buried somewhere in Lillian’s house that is the key to the mystery.

This exciting thriller grips the audience with a need to know from the moment we meet grandma and never slows down until the final twisting confrontation that ties 1930s Berlin with present day Miami. Although over the top of the Austrian Alps, readers will enjoy this aptly titled entertaining chiller.

Harriet Klausner

Far North-Michael Ridpath

Far North

Michael Ridpath

Minotaur, Aug 7 2012, $25.99

ISBN: 9780312675042

In 2009 during the pots-and-pans revolution, unemployed banker Harpa Einarsdóttir accidentally kills her former boss Gabriel Örn. Several months later in London, someone shoots to death Icelandic banker Óskar Gunnarsson, who was under investigation for fraud. Other assassinations follow.

On loan to the Icelandic police because of his family’s roots, Boston PD detective Magnus Jonson is assigned to the inquiry into Gunnarrsson’s murder. He seeks a link between that death and the accidental death of Örn. However, the murder of his Icelandic expatriate father several years ago in Boston still disturbs Magnus who is unaware that the tie to his dad’s killing goes back to 1934 with what two young boys witnessed.

The financial meltdown in Iceland serves as the impetus for an exhilarating police procedural (see Where the Shadows Lie) as a nation of 300,000 suspects exist with rage against the banking elite. The investigation to excellent while Magnus works the case but struggles with what happened to his dad as he has never found closure. Readers will relish this strong Icelandic whodunit as the cops, who lost big time to the crisis, sympathize with the vigilante.

Harriet Klausner

Sherlock Holmes: The Army of Doctor Moreau-Guy Adams

Sherlock Holmes: The Army of Doctor Moreau

Guy Adams

Titan Books, Aug 7 2012, $12.95

ISBN: 9780857689337

After lecturing his brother for living up a flight of stairs, Mycroft Holmes tells Sherlock and Dr. Watson that defrocked genius Dr. Charles Moreau was funded by the Crown to look into evolution after he had been exposed as an insane vivisectionist. Several years ago Moreau vanished. Recently London has been attacked by wild beasts in which Mycroft believes the culprits come from Moreau’s lab; so he tasks his sibling to find Moreau before matters turn uglier.

Holmes and Watson investigate the deaths, which supports Mycroft’s theory re Moreau’s beasts. As they follow clues that lead to the Rotherhithe neighborhood, a raging Moreau vows to punish the scientific community and the Crown for scorning him by releasing his horde of Beast Men on them.

This is a superb Holmes mystery (see Sherlock Holmes: The Breath of God) as Guy Adams has the great detective go up against H.G. Wells’ Army of Dr, Moreau. Part of the fun is the appearances by other noted Victorian era characters from Arthur Conan Doyle, Jules Verne and Wells. The sleuthing is top rate as fans anticipate a confrontation or more between Holmes and the Beast Men.

Harriet Klausner

Münster's Case-Håkan Nesser

Münster's Case

Håkan Nesser

Pantheon, Aug 7 2012, $25.95

ISBN: 9780307906861

In Sweden, the four retirees (Leverkuhn, Waulers, Palinski and Bonger) win equal shares of the lottery prize of 20,000 guilders. Septuagenarian Leverkuhn knows his 5,000 will not pay for anything as he muses what an old grump he has become as he has no idea what he wants to do with his portion. His partners persuade him to join them as they celebrate at Capernaum. Before he leaves he fails to tell his wife of several decades Marie-Louise that he won some money and that he was celebrating with the guys.

Leverkuhn comes home intoxicated but before falling asleep he notices his spouse is not home. He never wakes up as someone stabs him twenty-eight times with a carving knife. With Inspector Van Veeteren retired, his top gun Intendent Münster leads the investigation in which the wife is the most likely suspect. The case seems closed when she confesses, but anomalies exist when one of the partners vanish and a neighbor his butchered.

The latest Inspector Van Veeteren mystery (see The Inspector And Silence, Mind's Eye and Woman with a Birthmark) is a great Swedish police procedural as the now misnamed series passes the torch to the next generation. Part of the fun is Münster’s amusing asides, which accentuate his personality differs from his former boss. With a great late twist, Münster’s Case is a fabulous investigative thriller as he proves he can be the lead protagonist.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, July 22, 2012

What Happened to My Sister-Elizabeth Flock

What Happened to My Sister

Elizabeth Flock

Ballantine, Aug 7 2012, $15.00

ISBN: 9780345524430

Nine year old Caroline “Carrie” Parker kills her abusive stepfather (see Me & Emma). She and her alcoholic mom Libby flee from their small North Carolina town. However, her mother emphatically tells her never mention Emma who has kept Carrie feeling pretty good about herself. Confused Carrie begins to wonder if her younger sister Emma, who recently vanished, exists as her mom insists she has no other daughter.

In Hartsville, while Carrie’s mom drinks and entertains men, the tweener searches for food. On one of her treks, she meets Cricket Ford and the girl’s mother Honor. Stunned by how much Carrie looks like her dead daughter, Honor wonders why she never sees the obviously neglected child with her mother.

The sequel to Me & Emma is an exciting thriller that focuses on survival techniques by victims of domestic abuse. Fast-paced but filled with way to much happenchance, the storyline rotates viewpoint between the neglected and abused tweener and to a lesser degree Honor while readers will wonder whether Emma is Carrie’s imaginary sister helping her live through her young ordeal or a real person.

Harriet Klausner

A Hundred Flowers-Gail Tsukiyama

A Hundred Flowers

Gail Tsukiyama

St. Martin’s, Aug 7 2012, $24.99

ISBN 9780312274818

In 1957, Chairman Mao proclaimed “Let a hundred flowers bloom; let a hundred schools of thought contend.” However, he failed to explain the unacceptable critiquing of the Party. Within one year of his declaration for open dialogue, the Communist party continues to round up the outspoken dissenters.

The police take history teacher Sheng Ying to a reeducation camp. His family is devastated by their loss of a loved one and on the economic impact of their new pariah status compounded by the incarceration of the breadwinner. His wife herbalist Kai Ying, their son Tao, his family friend Aunty Song, and his father art history professor Wei struggle with what has happened to Sheng. The adults try to hide the truth from Tao, but he learns about his father’s fate from taunting students at school. His grandfather admits his role in what occurred; further tearing apart a grieving frightened family.

This historical thriller is a great character study of a Chinese family caught up in Mao’s latest revolution. The perspective of life following a government sponsored rendition of a loved one is rotated between each member so that their fears and their interrelationships are fully developed yet also evolve since the abduction effects how each feel towards one another. Although there is no action, readers will appreciate the ordeal of a family and friends during the Hundred Flowers Campaign that challenged millennium of Chinese philosophy by going after the intellectuals.

Harriet Klausner

The Stars Shine Bright-Sibella Giorello

The Stars Shine Bright

Sibella Giorello

Thomas Nelson, Jul 17 2012, $15.99

ISBN: 9781595545367

FBI forensic geologist agent Raleigh Harmon returns to the Seattle office after being suspended without pay for stealing potential evidence (without a warrant) while on an Alaskan cruise ship with her mom (see The Mountains Bow Down). Her boss back in the Richmond office Victoria Phaup, who disciplinary reassigned her to Seattle, wants Office of Professional Responsibility to suspend her for six months before terminating her; instead with the local SAC’s approval her Seattle boss Allen McLeod assigns her to go undercover as the niece of an affluent racing horse owner, octogenarian Eleanor Anderson who claims races are being fixed at Emerald Meadows. Her case agent is Jack Stephanson who reported her illegal activity to OPR.

However as Eleanor shows her niece Raleigh David the ropes, more than just fixed races in which winning thoroughbreds lose occur. Soon some of the horses die. At the same time she worries about her mom who had a nervous breakdown on the cruise and reconsiders whether she wants to marry her controlling Virginia fiancé. Still in spite of knowing she is her family’s breadwinner, Raleigh once again crosses the line of procedue to prevent further killing of horses.

The latest Raleigh Harmon FBI investigation is a terrific undercover thriller in which the protagonist risks her career which is already in peril at a time she needs income to support her mother’s medical care. Insight into Washington State geology is deftly interwoven into the storyline while the horse racing elements provide much of the background. Fans will enjoy this strong entry as the heroine tells Freud she is coming to closure.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Penelope Crumb-Shawn K. Stout

Penelope Crumb

Shawn K. Stout

Philomel, Aug 2 2012,

ISBN: 9780399257285

In art class, fourth-grader Penelope learns the worst news she ever head as she finds out that she has a humongous shnoz. Upset when she goes home she talks with her medical illustrator mom, who informs her she has been cursed by the “Crumb nose” of “Graveyard Dead” dad and her still breathing (albeit using up a lot of oxygen) paternal Grandpa Felix, who Penelope thought was with her father. Also Penelope is confused as to how she failed to recognize her snout as even her older brother Terrence the Terrible noticed the family icon.

Curious about her paternal grandfather who disappeared when her dad became ill, Penelope wants to compare noses with him. A school assignment on family trees is the final impetus for Penelope to locate Grandpa Felix.

With a nod to famous noses like that of Jimmy Durante and the Ricci character in the film Penelope, this fabulous upper elementary school amateur sleuth investigative thriller is a fun tale as Shawn K. Stout treats his youthful audience with respect never dumbing down the drama. The heroine is a wonderful individual who still grieves her dad’s death and is an expert on reading nonverbal cues especially from adults ready to pounce. Valeria Docampo enhances the engaging storyline with b&w images of Penelope and her protuberance as fans will root for the spunky protagonist who noses her way to solving the case and somewhat her grief.

Harriet Klausner

The Other Woman's House-Sophie Hannah

The Other Woman's House

Sophie Hannah

Penguin, Jun 26 2012, $15.00

ISBN: 9780143121510

In 2010 thirtyish bookkeeper Connie Bowskill goes on line to look at a house for sale in Cambridge that haunts her soul though she has no proof of what she thinks is going on there. As she virtually tours 11 Bentley Grove, she finds something even more horrifying when she sees a woman lying perfectly still in a pool of blood. Shocked she calls her husband Kit to take a look; but by the time he gets to the computer, the corpse and blood are gone. Connie ignores her husband’s plea to write it off as her imagination going wild; instead she informs the police.

Detective Sergeant Sam Kombothekra leads the investigation on which another on line witness affirms Connie’s assertion. When Detective Sergeant Charlotte “Charlie” Zailer and Detective Constable Simon Waterhouse return from their honeymoon, they join the official inquiry. At the same time, Connie fears her adoring husband is behaving amoral and perhaps illegally at 11 Bentley Grove.

The latest Zailer and Waterhouse police procedural (see Hurting Distance and Cradle in the Grave), is an entertaining mystery with a Hitchcockian Suspicion feel to the storyline. The main plot is an exciting psychological drama but at times overwhelmed by a myriad of twisting turgid subplots (past and present) in which several never tie back to the main theme. Though confusing, fans will want to know the truth of what happened in The Other Woman's House.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Let the Devil Sleep-John Verdun

Let the Devil Sleep

John Verdun

Crown, Jul 24 2012, $25.00

ISBN: 9780307717924

Retired homicide detective Dave “NYPD Supercop” Gurney recovers physically from wounds he suffered on his last case; mentally he heals much slower (see Shut Your Eyes Tight). However, when freelance reporter Connie Clarke, who crowned him Supercop, asks a favor he agrees to help her journalism student daughter Kim Corazon with a TV series that evolved from her thesis on the impact of degrees of connection beyond the murder victims and their immediate loved ones; her focus was the unsolved serial killings of the Good Shepherd over a decade ago.

The psychopathic sniper killed several Mercedes sedan drivers in upstate New York; he left behind a memento of toy animals and notes raging at the avarice. Though he promised only one day, Dave meets the still grieving family members and becomes hooked with their plight caused by a lack of closure. Dave talks with the Fed and State cops who worked the cold case. Some warn him to Let The Devil Sleep as they fear he will awaken the dormant deadly demon.

The third Dave Gurney mystery (see Think of a Number) is an exhilarating fast-paced serial killer investigation. Loaded with action, Gurney works the cold case while also handling other inquires. Though somewhat typical of the sub-genre, the greed of the TV station heads, the reactions of the surviving families and especially the psychological insight into the three prime law enforcement officials from the original failed investigation bring a unique freshness to this exciting whodunit.

Harriet Klausner

Resurrection Express-Stephen Romano

Resurrection Express

Stephen Romano

Gallery, Sept 18 2012, $25.00

ISBN: 9781451668643

Two years ago influential David Hartman killed Toni Coffin. Toni’s raging husband hi tech criminal Elroy Coffin came after Hartman but took a bullet to the head and went to prison on an assault conviction. The bullet left Coffin with partial amnesia as he cannot recall what Toni looked like. Though his sentence is thirty years he expects to be out in five.

Two years after his conviction, a wealthy woman promises to get him released within two weeks if he agrees to help her rescue her daughter from Hartman. She insists that she protects his father whom he thought died and that Toni lives as a prisoner of Hartman. As part of his release Elroy works at a toy shop when Hartman sends armed thugs to send him a message by killing the innocent. His wealthy patron Jayne Jenison, her crew and the father and son Coffin males prepare to invade the Hartman compound.

Filled with no apology violence, this is a great action thriller as Elroy distrusts Jenison as much as he does Hartman because he knows both are affluent amoral a-holes who have no compunction over collateral damage homicides. He expects his patron will sell him out at the first opportunity; probably with a déjà vu bullet to the head as no witnesses can live. Fast-paced, spell bound readers will appreciate this gory tale as violence is the American way to resolve rivalries.

Harriet Klausner

Death In Four Courses-Lucy Burdette

Death In Four Courses

Lucy Burdette

Obsidian, Sep 4 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780451237835

In Key West, Florida, Haley Snow works for Key Zest magazine as the food critic. She currently covers the annual Key West Loves Literature seminar which this year focuses on culinary fiction and nonfiction. Besides Haley and food critics from around the country, her mom from New Jersey is also attending the symposium in which famous Jonah Barrows is the featured superstar.

Barrows’ opening remarks centers on the need for truth and transparency to separate the wheat from the chaff. He further explains his memoir will upset many people. After behaving like a moron with star attendees, Haley takes a respite only to find Jonah’s corpse in a reflecting pool. KWPD Officer Torrance targets a close friend of Haley as the prime suspect. As Haley also investigates, a second murder of a conference attendee occurs.


The second Key West Food Critic mystery (see An Appetite For Murder) is an entertaining journalist whodunit though Haley seems more like an amateur sleuth than an investigative reporter. Key West steals the show as a talking parrot asks taxi riders where they want to go and the taxi bikes are fun. Although the storyline starts slow with readers meeting the egomaniac critics and the quirky city residents, fans will enjoy Haley’s comet.

Harriet Klausner

Power Blind-Steven Gore

Power Blind

Steven Gore

Harper, Jul 31 2012, $9.99

ISBN: 9780061782244

San Francisco-based attorney Charlie Palmer the fixer used blackmail and threats to rescue above the law politicians and corporate executives who could pay their way out of amoral and even illegal behavior. Very successful at his career for years, Charlie also collected evidence of major national misfeasance when he is assassinated on the streets of San Francisco one hour after briefly talking to private investigator Graham Gage and the detective’s receptionist Tansy Amaro, mother of a Palmer victim Moki.

In Washington, Senator Landon Meyer is the favorite to become the next president. He forces the incumbent to nominate his choices to vacant seats on the Court. Though he despises the man who finally received justice, due to Palmer’s widow, a sister to Gage’s security chief, he investigates the homicide and a subsequent break in to the victim’s home. Gage soon finds a link between Palmer and Meyer, but will he love long enough to tell it seems questionable.

The latest Gage thriller (see Absolute Risk) is a terrific political cautionary tale focused on the dual concept of “power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely” (Lord Acton) entangled with too big to fail. Gage escorts readers though the DNA double helix of the industrial-political-financial international complex in which money, intimidation, homicide and control of the Supreme Court money can buy and therefor allow the ultra-affluent to get away with murder. Timely with the Romney tax and investment questions, fans will enjoy Steven Gore’s exciting complicated story.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Allergic To Death-Peg Cochran

Allergic To Death

Peg Cochran

Berkley Prime Crime, (Aug 7 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780425251461

Suburban Woodstone, Connecticut is a very expensive place to live as Gigi Fitzgerald knows first-hand. The only reason Gigi can reside there she is leasing a bungalow from one of her dieter clients, restaurant critic Martha Bernhardt. From her rental she sells Gigi's Gourmet De-Lite lo-cal meals for those who want to lose weight but also enjoy what they eat.

Gigi and Martha drive their separate cars when the latter munches on one of the meals. From just behind Martha, Gigi watches her drive erratic until the vehicle crashes into a tree; Martha dies. The autopsy reveals that Martha suffered an anaphylaxis shock from peanut oil in Gigi’s repast. Police Detective Mertz closes the case, but Gigi differs as she knows she did not use peanuts in any form in the meal as she was well aware her customer was severely allergic. Besides feeling she owes Martha, Gigi knows her business is teetering. Accompanied by her friend Sienna, she investigate what Gigi believes is murder even when someone threatens to make her victim number two.

The first Gourmet De-Lite Mystery is a delicious amateur sleuth tale due to the fully developed cast; besides the obvious Gigi, who holds the storyline together, the secondary characters especially Martha known for her vindictive nature and Mertz who shows interest in the heroine as they bring depth to the entertaining whodunit. Although somewhat formulaic in terms of relationships, culinary cozy fans will take De-Lite with Peg Cochran’s first recipe.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

How To Tail A Cat-Rebecca M. Hale

How To Tail A Cat

Rebecca M. Hale

Berkley, Sep 4 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780425251294

In San Francisco, the late Uncle Oscar’s niece the accountant and the two feline siblings Rupert and Isabella move into the Green Vase Antique shop that she inherited. When the niece completes her daily jog she always brings home by Lick’s Homestyle Chicken for Rupert to dine on; he loves the fried food as the snack is as good as Uncle Oscar used to make for him. While he savors the meals, his brilliant sister knows the source of the fried chicken.

Frog whisperer Sam Eccles visits the Aquarian to help ailing amphibians; however the frogs are assisting him with his plan to help Clive escape captivity. Isabella tries to coax Uncle Oscar’s niece to follow clues involving the early twentieth century Steinhart brothers, who financed the aquarium. Clive escapes but misses his heated rocks while the niece and her feline roommates search for Uncle Oscar’s treasure.

The thin storyline moves at a leisurely pace yet will enthrall fans of the Cats and Curios whimsical anthropomorphic amateur sleuth series (see How To Moon A Cat, Nine Lives Last Forever and How to Wash a Cat) with a unique tour of the streets of San Francisco. The treasure hunt and alligator hunts are fun and a delicious twist enhance this fried chicken cozy.

Harriet Klausner

Kill You Twice-Chelsea Cain

Kill You Twice

Chelsea Cain

Minotaur, Aug 7 2012, $24.99

ISBN: 9780312619787

Portland Police Detective Archie Sheridan the insomniac knows why he cannot sleep by touching the scar; so when nine year old Patrick calls him, he commiserates as they belong to the same survivor club and counts numbers with the traumatized child until the lad falls asleep.

On the top of Mount Tabor in a park, Archie looks at the body of Jake Kelley, a volunteer at the Life Work Center for Young Women. The victim was hammered in the head and tortured while alive with skin carved from his chest and abdomen before he died. Legally insane serial killer Gretchen Lowell resides in lock up at the Oregon State Hospital where she persuades Dr. Prescott to inform Archie that her child is in danger; he wants nothing to do with the great manipulator who scarred him and left him sleepless in Portland though he knows if a child lives the kid could be his. When a second victim is burned to death on the fifty foot city neon sign in Old Town, Lowell contacts reporter Susan Ward insisting Ryan Motley is the killer and that there is a third not yet found victim.

The latest Sheridan-Lowell Oregonian tango (see The Night Season) is somewhat the same refrain especially early, but freshened up starting with Prescott's revelation and Ward’s interview of the diabolical serial killer that provides series fans with deeper insight into her psyche especially her past. The twisting storyline is fast-paced from the Kelly homicide and never slows down as Lowell proves her psychopathic brilliance; summed up by her assertion that Archie is happiest when he chases her.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, July 16, 2012

Bruja Brouhaha-Rochelle Staab

Bruja Brouhaha

Rochelle Staab

Berkley, Aug 7 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780425251492

In the Bay area, psychologist Liz Cooper is is normally and rational pragmatic individual; while Professor Nick Garfield studies the occult. Logically this is not a pair that belong together; however opposites attract in love.

The couple attends the sixtieth wedding anniversary celebration of Santeria practitioners Paco and Lucia Rojas, who own Botanica Rojas where they grow herbs for their spells. In the middle of the gala, Paco goes to answer the downstairs doorbell. Shots are fired leaving Paco and a gangbanger dead. Santeria Priestess Lucia falls apart and holds good citizens culpable for Paco’s murder for enable gangs to thrive. She places a hex in the neighbors which angers them as they blame her for things going wrong dubbing her the bruja witch. Liz and Nick seek the killer so that Lucia can have some peace of mind before a “hexed” neighbor comes after the elderly grieving woman.

The second Mind for Murder Mystery (see Who Do, Voodoo?) enables readers to believe in the magic of the Santeria hex as things suddenly go wrong just after Lucia cast her Bruja Brouhaha on the neighborhood. Liz and Nick may be the oddest couple since Oscar and Felix, but their attraction is strong even though she prefers going slow having been burned by her ex and he wants to marry yesterday. Their investigation is light but entertaining as Rochelle Staab provides an enjoyable whodunit.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Messenger-Stephen Miller

The Messenger

Stephen Miller

Delacorte, Jul 31 2012, $26.00

ISBN: 9780345528476

Daria spent much of her early years in an Iraqi refugee camp. Her two brothers were killed and her father periodically taken away without cause. She has no purpose until she is recruited by terrorists who give her a reason to live and one day die for God. They send her to a Florence, Italy boarding school until her time to avenge her family arrives. She is brought to Berlin where she is infected with smallpox and placed on a plane bound for New York to bring death to the ugly American egomaniacal destroyers of the rest of the world. However, as she meets the real Americans, she realizes they are not bogeymen but people, no different than her, concerned with their families.

Scientist Dr. Sam Watterman’s life was devastated when he was a prime suspect in the 2001 anthrax mailings. The FBI believes a biological terrorist attack has come to the States so they enlist Sam to help them trace the source. Though he would prefer to give the Feds the middle finger for what they did to him; he needs the money so he accepts the gig.

The early section focused on Daria’s youthful sleeper years in Italy are incredible as the audience understands how easily terrorists win the hearts, souls and lives of suicide bombers as she obtains three square, a bed, and an education while the west offers displacement, starvation and rendition. Once she begins the trek across the United States, the exciting tale turns to a more conventional thriller as Daria is unsure how to rectify her error and Watterman finally realizes he seeks the Messenger of God. Fast-paced, fans will appreciate this stunning premise as Daria makes it feel so genuine.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Circle of Silence-Carol M. Tanzman

Circle of Silence

Carol M. Tanzman

Harlequin Teen, Jul 24 2012, $9.99

ISBN: 9780373210626

Washington Irving High School senior Valerie Gaines has worked hard over the past two years to become Campus News producer. Advisor Mr. Carleton broke the group into two teams and Valerie has hers ready. Her BFF Sunny Marcy says she is a shoo-in, but Valerie knows Raul Ortega is tough competition. However, her former boyfriend Jaggar Voorham joins her squad to Valerie’s chagrin.

Valerie and her team investigate pranks at Washington Irving by someone using the nom de plume MP. However, what started as harmless begins to grow in intensity and danger with each new stunt. MP warns them to back off or else a student trying to join the team is injured. Fearing for her undercover operative, Valarie leads her team into ferreting out MP before someone is severely hurt or killed.

Circle of Silence is an exciting young adult investigative thriller starring a strong cast. The obsessive heroine wants the story desperately until she realizes her fixation could harm members of her dedicated crew who she now considers friends. Her relationship with Jaggar enhances a terrific high school age amateur sleuth as Valerie makes for a thrilling storyline.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, July 13, 2012

The Spymaster’s Daughter-Jeane Westin

The Spymaster’s Daughter

Jeane Westin

NAL, Aug 7 2012, $16.00

ISBN: 9780451237026

Queen Elizabeth’s spymaster Sir Francis Walsingham wants his beloved daughter Lady Frances to stay clears of espionage as that is a very dangerous occupation. However, Lady Frances proves a chip off the old spy block when she clandestinely learns to decipher coded messages.

Named a Lady-In-Waiting “In The Court of Elizabeth I”, Frances soon has several opportunities to break cryptic notes. She succeeds and finds strong evidence that Mary Queen of Scots plans to take the throne from her English cousin. Sent by Elizabeth to spy on Mary, Frances faces danger in the Scottish queen’s court if caught, but also contends with the mistimed attraction by the Earl of Essex and her servant Robert Pauley.

The Elizabethan background makes for a strong espionage historical novel as readers obtain a deep look at two powerful royal rivals competing to rule the kingdoms. Fast-paced, this complex tale grips the audience who follow the adventures of The Spymaster’s Daughter as she conducts an undercover operation that her father would be proud of yet he is also frightened for her safety. This is a great sixteenth century thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Judgment Call-J.A. Jance

Judgment Call

J.A. Jance

Morrow, Jul 24 2012, $25.95

ISBN: 9780061731167

In Bisbee, fifteen years old Jenny Brady finds the body of high school Principal Debra Highsmith in the desert close to her family home. Jenny immediately calls her mom Joanna, the Cochise County, Arizona sheriff, who drops everything and rides her horse out to the crime scene. Someone shot the reclusive principal who kept her distance from everyone.

A second homicide soon follows. As Brady leads the investigation, someone is leaking information on Facebook about the crimes; including a damaging photo that only Jenny could have taken. Besides suspecting her daughter as the leak, Joanna belives Jenny conceals something critical to the case. As she digs deeper and finds a threatening video, Joanna begins to uncover secrets the prim and proper late principal hid for years.

The latest sheriff Brady police procedural (see Fire and Ice) is a superb entry as the heroine struggles to balance her job with her daughter’s needs. The investigation is top rate and enhanced by the social media intruding on the case. Additionally, longtime fans will appreciate the ties to a murder case that has remained cold in the background of the series as J.A. Jance provides a great whodunit.

Harriet Klausner

When The Cookie Crumbles-Virginia Lowell

When The Cookie Crumbles

Virginia Lowell

Berkley Prime Crime, Aug 7 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780425251485

The 250th anniversary of the founding of Baltimore suburb Chatterley Heights is coming soon and the excited townsfolk prepare for the celebration. Gingerbread House co-owners Olivia Greyson and Maddie Briggs are creating a gingerbread house on the form of the vacant Chatterley Mansion where the celebrants including the two BFFs since childhood look forward to touring the place.

However, the tour ends before it begins when the last of the Chatterley brood, thought deceased Paine and his wife Hermione, who suffers from heart problems, arrive and move into their family home. He denies access so there will be no tours. Many people who looked forward to the tour are irate with Paine. Soon afterward, Hermione becomes hysterical when she finds Paine lying face down dead in the tub. The police conclude she is innocent as he was suffocated to death before the culprit placed him in the tub, something she could not have done. Though she knows to mind her business, obsessed Olivia cannot as she knows Paine made many enemies but theorizes he died due to avarice as the killer wanted his valuable Chatterley Cookie Cutter collection.

Cozy fans will enjoy the third delicious Cookie Cutter Shop Mystery (see Cookie Dough Or Die and A Cookie Before Dying). Olivia is a complex person who knows almost every town resident and they all know her; so encourage and abet her investigation as it takes a quaint village to solve a homicide case. Although Olivia has no motive beyond her bone marrow compulsion to sleuth, fans will appreciate her efforts as she escorts armchair readers on a tour of small town Maryland.

Harriet Klausner

No Way to Kill a Lady-Nancy Martin

No Way to Kill a Lady

Nancy Martin

NAL, Aug 7 2012, $23.95

ISBN: 9780451237057

Society columnist Nora Blackbird knows why she is a former debutante as to be deb status besides ties back to the colonials means money and her finances lack the prerequisite. Still she feels pretty good that she has turned around her life though she is concerned about her two sisters; Libby is a sex scandal waiting to happen and Emma is pregnant refusing to identify the father. Nora also worries about her BFF Lexie who is in jail and her Mafia lover Mick Abruzzo who is serving house arrest time on her family farm and is running some sort of racket from there.

Still the three Blackbirds inherit Quintain from their late great-Aunt Madeleine, who died in Indonesia during a volcanic eruption. Upon arrival expecting a treasure trove they find a dump with seemingly nothing of value; Nora is especially disappointed as she and her aunt were close so she knew what was once there. The trio also discovers one more undesirable item, the remains of a body who apparently died at Quintain years ago. Feeling she owes Madeleine, Nora investigates but is impeded by cousin Sutherland Blackbird and lawyer Simon Groatley.

This is the usual zany Blackbird sisters’ amateur sleuth (see Murder Melts In Your Mouth) as each clue leads to more madcap adventures for fearless leader Nora and her two assistants. Fast-paced, the three siblings make the tale as Emma is always hungry while eating for one and a half; Libby flirts outrageously with Sheriff’s Deputy Foley; and Nora groans as the estate owes twenty years in back taxes as well as the need of massive renovation. Fans will enjoy the amusing antics as the trio investigates the murder and the estate neglect.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Death Of A Schoolgirl-Joanna Campbell Slan

Death Of A Schoolgirl

Joanna Campbell Slan

Berkley Prime Crime, Aug 7 2012, $15.00

ISBN: 9780425247747

In 1829 in Ferndean Manor in Yorkshire, Jane nee Eyre and Edward Rochester are married and raising their baby Ned. However, Jane and Edward become concerned when Rochester’s ward Adele Varens sends a letter begging for help in French that also includes a note threatening the child. Because of his eye injury flaring up (caused by his late first wife’s arson of Thornfield Hall), Rochester will travel in a few days but Jane immediately heads to London.

She has never been to the big city before and has doubts leaving behind her spouse and their six months old infant, but Jane needs to know the child, whom she was governess to, is safe. On the way she is robbed but makes it to family friend Lucy Brayton. At the school, Jane learns that another student Selina Biltmore recently died. Deciding to investigate the suspicious death by taking advantage of the superintendent’s belief she is a teacher, Jane obtains a teaching position, but her efforts to find the motive leads to much of the school wanting obnoxious Selina dead.

The first Jane Eyre Chronicles captures the essences of Jane and Rochester as Charlotte Bronte had written though changes have occurred to their lives with the arrival of Ned. Jane remains diligent as she protects those she loves like Adele. The mystery is entertaining fun, but it is what happened to Jane and Rochester since the classic ended that sub-genre fans will enjoy.

Harriet Klausner

A Brew To Kill-Cleo Coyle

A Brew To Kill

Cleo Coyle

Berkley Prime Crime, Aug 7 2012, $25.95

ISBN 9780425247877

Clare Cosi manages the Village Blend coffeehouse owned by her former mother-in-law Madame DuBois. Business has been slow so Clare decides to bring coffee to the customer via a kart-truck that upsets the shop’s coffee buyer Matteo Allegro. The Kupcake Kart’s obnoxious owner Kaylee Crimini retaliates as she makes it loudly clear she will not drive idly by while the “Bobbsey Twins” steal her business.

Someone deliberately runs over Clare’s friend Lilly Beth Tanga as she leaves the Village Blend. With Detective Mike Quinn out of town, Mad Max Buckman leads the inquiry. He concludes the intended target was Clare but has no motive why. Clare decides to look into the incident that has left her friend hospitalized.

The latest Coffee House amateur sleuth (see Roast Mortem and Murder by Mocha) is a superb whodunit that is refreshed by the heroine blending with a different detective on the hit and run case. Fast-paced and breezy with a touch of UBE, readers will enjoy this caffeine cozy as Mad Max and the coffee queen team up to investigate the attempted vehicular homicide.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

White Hot-Nina Bruhns

White Hot

Nina Bruhns

Berkley, Aug 7 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780425243985

Fleeing across the icy Bering Sea with Chinese Black Ops led by Command Xing Guan in hot pursuit, U.S. Navy SEAL Lieutenant Commander Clint Walker knows he must get the stolen military plans back to DC immediately. In the Aleutians Dutch Harbor he seeks the airport, but the enemy found him. Desperate, he stows away on a cargo ship.

Ike de Coeur ship’s Captain Sam Richardson knows those in the Richardson Shipping Company like her father, her ex-husband and her fired chief mate overtly detest a woman running a crew. She plans to prove them all wrong with this shipment of biscuits. At sea Sam finds she has a new crew member while Clint finds his captain beautiful especially when she is steadfast on accomplishing the mission.

The second Men in Uniform romantic suspense (see Red Heat) is an action-packed military espionage thriller with a superb White Heat romance enhancing the at sea adventures. Starring two strong protagonists and fast-paced from the moment Clint flees his deadly assailants on to Sam’s vessel, the storyline hooks readers so much that it is impossible to put down.

Harriet Klausner

Death in C Minor-Rebecca Yount

Death in C Minor

Rebecca Yount

Rebecca Yount, Jun 15 2012

Amazon Digital Services - ASIN: B008BY13RQ; ISBN: 9781467514996

Her World Bank administrator husband left renowned concert pianist Jessica Beaumont for his Swedish secretary. Soon after that a hit and run driver killed her ten years old son Boyd. Emotionally, unable to perform on stage she skipped shows and attempted suicide. Needing to escape, Jess rents a cottage from the Stanhopes in Kenwick, Essex while the professor teaches at Harvard. When Jess meets Adam Marr, heir to the local earldom, they begin a tryst.

One year ago someone hacked to death Peter Chandler in his home in Kenwick. Jess asks the Fish and Chips gang about the homicide, but they refuse to talk about it. Meanwhile New Scotland Yard Cold Case Detective Inspector Mick Chandra and his only teammate Detective Sergeant Elizabeth Chang reopen the case. He heads to Kenwick hoping to stay at the Stanhope house like he did last year. When Jess and Mick meet, each feels the attraction that neither wants but both needs after their previous marriages ended in divorce. As they fall in love, he works the case while she finds a key clue that has the killer preparing to eliminate the nosy Yank.

This is an exciting romantic police procedural starring two wonderful characters reeling from failed marriages and separation from their children (her son is dead and his son lives with his ex in another city). The inquiry is engaging though I doubt a cop would answer a civilian’s series of questions about a murder case. With a strong support cast of wealthy Brits, an entertaining whodunit, and the healing power of love supported by Beethoven’s Pathetique Sonata in the background make for an enjoyable character driven drama.

Harriet Klausner

A Way With Murder-R. J. Jagger

A Way With Murder

R. J. Jagger

Pegasus, Aug 1 2012, $25.99


ISBN: 9781605983639

In 1952 in Denver, Secret St. Rain enters the office of private investigator Bryson Wilde unsure whether she is in trouble as she saw a woman fall to her death when someone dangling her out of a window let go. Secret says she could not see the man as he was in the dark but he could see her as she was near a streetlight. She wants him to trap the killer of Charley-Anna Blackridge before he might come after her.

In his other case Colder and Jones lawyer London Marshall tells Bryson she is in trouble because of what she saw on her most recent annual visit to the Mexican Pyramids. She climbed through an opening and found a casket that contained a shocker inside of it. Frightened she also heard breathing nearby as London fled the scene but fears her adversary saw her and will come for her.

The latest Bryson Wilde private investigative thriller (see Lawyer Trap) is a great historical noir that captures the essence of the 1950s hardboiled detective. Bryson is superb as he has away with female clients who get him in trouble and he, in turn, gets his assistant Alabama in trouble. Readers will appreciate this Wilde historical as Bryson works two femme fatale (even in a baseball cap) cases.

Harriet Klausner

Hold Me-Betsy Horvath

Hold Me

Betsy Horvath

Carina Press, Sept 5 2011, $7.00

ISBN: 9780373062676; ASIN: B005GF3420

Katie McCabe watched her fiancé Tom doing up and down exercise with the body of his supervisor Brandy as his mat. Irate she used a broom as a stickball bat with the pair as the Spaldeen before dumping the SOB, but was fired from the company where all three work due to her assault.

Six months later, Katie waits at a red light when a man yanks open her passenger door and jumps into her vehicle. Seconds later a stunned Katie realizes people are shooting at her Nova. He screams at her to drive, which she does as she realizes her life is still spiraling downward. The mob wants no longer undercover FBI agent Luc Vasco dead and they have come close to achieving their objective. Only the Nova enabled him to escape but places a civilian in jeopardy from a psychopathic offspring of a deadly mob chieftain. Luc vows to keep her safe, but conceals one fact from his savior that would have her join the enemy.

Hold me is an exciting romantic suspense starring two likable protagonists. Fast-paced from the moment Luc dives through a window to the street and into Katie’s life, and never slowing down, fans will enjoy this fun tale though the degrees of separation are over the top of Harrah's Waterfront Tower.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Chasing The Wind- Pamela Binnings Ewen

Chasing The Wind

Pamela Binnings Ewen

B&H, Aug 1 2012, $14.99

ISBN: 9780805464313

At exactly 8:47 A.M. on Wednesday, October 12, 1977 businessman Bingham Murdock flies his silver Lockheed Jetstar into New Orleans. At the same time Mangen & Morris lawyer Amalise Catoir looks out her downtown office window for the first time in three months. She feels rather good considering she survived the insane abuse of her husband Phillip Sharp. Amalise knows her friend Jude saved her life, who she thinks she loves, but he is seeing her friend and firm’s rival Rebecca. Looking out she notices the silver glint of a small plane. Also observing the silver in the sky is a lonely six years old Cambodian foster child who upon seeing the reflection remembers the terror of artillery that turned him into an outsider refugee.

Amalise is assigned to the Project Black Diamond resort hotel led by banker Doug Bastion. The client is Lone Ranger Incorporated owned only by Bingham who wants to build a gaudy hotel at the historical Faubourg Marigny historical sector adjacent to the French Quarter. Amalise and others are stunned by the revelation. Soon she, Bingham, Hey Jude and a displaced uncommunicative little boy converge over a construction project.

This is a strong character driven historical thriller with a powerful morality lesson that it what you failed to do that determines the fortitude of the inner person. Amalise holds the storyline together as she knows she loves Jude but also falls for the little Cambodian who suffers from PTSD nightmares. However, it is Bingham who brings roguish depth by challenging the capitalist vs. traditionalist beliefs of everyone; as Charles Rosner wrote for Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA): "If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem".

Harriet Klausner

A City of Broken Glass-Rebecca Cantrell

A City of Broken Glass

Rebecca Cantrell

Forge, Jul 17 2012, $25.99

ISBN: 9780765327345

In 1938, Using the Swiss identity Adelheid Zinsli, American journalist Hannah Vogel and her adopted thirteen years old son Anton are in Poznan, Poland where mom is covering the annual November 11th St. Martin’s Day festival for her newspaper. She learns that the Nazis have begun deporting Polish Jews in mass so she follows the lead to learn first-hand more about the refugee situation.

Her inquiry leads Hannah to Miriam the pregnant wife of her friend Paul Keller. Miriam, who dislikes the journalist, despondently tells Hannah she left her two years old daughter Ruth behind in Berlin when she was forced to leave. Hannah and Anton agree to rescue the baby.

The latest Hannah Vogel historical thriller (see A Game of Lies) is an exciting tale that brings to life the growing Nazi terrorism spreading anti-Semitism like a plague from Germany into Poland though the plights of Ruth and Miriam, and other displaced refugees. Fast-paced and loaded with suspense, fans will appreciate heroic Hannah and awesome Anton as they mount a rescue attempt though they land in too many perils more than Pauline.

Harriet Klausner

Hellbox-Bill Pronzini


Bill Pronzini

Forge, Jul 3 2012, $24.99

ISBN: 9780765325655

In California, the somewhat retired “named” detective Bill and his public relations specialist wife Kerry seek a second home in Green Valley at the Sierra foothills. Near Six Pines they find the perfect cabin.

While hiking in the nearby woods by herself, Kerry recognizes Pete Balfour, an angry individual seeking revenge against the bully whose taunting made him the biggest fool in the Sierras. When she calls out his name, a stunned panicked Pete abducts the one person who can identify him being in the area. The local authorities insist they are busy with a major investigation so knowing time is critical a frustrated and frightened Bill and his San Francisco partner Jake Runyon follow meager clues that lead to the Hellbox.

The latest (no longer) Nameless Detective Mystery (see Camouflage) is an exciting thriller in which readers feel Bill’s panic as the long time sleuth (37 books) knows the first few hours matter in an abduction. Although the storyline never veers from its anticipated path and the climax disappointing as Balfour fails to live up to his image of a raging berserker, series fans will enjoy the desperate investigation by Bill and Jake in which the townsfolk either are uncooperative or neutral.

Harriet Klausner

The Hanging-Wendy Hornsby

The Hanging

Wendy Hornsby

Perseverance Press, Sep 10 2012, $15.99

ISBN: 9781564745262

It has been a difficult year for investigative documentary filmmaker Maggie MacGowen as her husband Mike died from an illness. She still cries over her loss as she misses her Mike. Making matters worse her solo escape from her grief was her TV show, which was canceled.

Her best friend Kate obtains a teaching position for Maggie at Anacapa Community College where her class is film production. A benefit of the job is she sees her young friend student Sly Miller; whom she and Mike rescued from the streets of Los Angeles. The teen won an art contest in which his huge sculpture is placed in a highly visible location. However, college president Park Holloway upsets Sly when he informs him his work will stand in this prestigious location for one year. Holloway has also upset students and faculty with his exorbitant building projects dubbed by most as the Taj Ma'Holloway at a time when austerity for anything not directly rated to academics needs to be strictly practiced. Maggie finds Holloway hanging from the spot where Sly’s sculpture was to be placed. Fearing for Sly, Maggie investigates who murdered the college president.

The Maggie MacGowen Mysteries (see The Paramour's Daughter and In the Guise of Mercy) are always special treats and the engaging latest entry affirms that hypothesis. Readers will adore and admire the intrepid heroine who on the outside stoically deals with tsuris, but those close to her know she hurts inside. Her inner turmoil and her investigative skills make her sleuthing seem realistic as she uncovers a horde of people with strong motives and an art for arms deal that even the Pentagon would respect as The Hanging is a suspenseful whodunit.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, July 9, 2012

Popped Off-Jeffrey Allen

Popped Off

Jeffrey Allen

Kensington, Sep 4 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780758266903

In very conservative Rose Petal, Texas everyone remains up to date on scandals, misdemeanors and felonies. However the biggest shocker to the appalled townsfolk remains teacher Deuce Winters who has become a stay at home dad taking care of their five years old daughter Carly while his wife Julianne is the breadwinner high powered attorney. Despite eyebrow-raising by their appalled neighbors, Deuce and Julianne are very satisfied with their relationship. Additionally the househusband has become a part-time private eye ever since brilliant detective Victor "little person" Doolittle conducted surveillance of Deuce (see Stay At Home Dead).

At a soccer game gigantic Belinda Stansfield informs Deuce, coach of the Mighty, Fightin’ Tiny Mermaids girls’ team, that the president of the Rose Pedal Youth Soccer Association Moises “King of Soccer” Huber stole the funds and trophies earmarked for the kids like Carly. Belinda demands Deuce find the missing money and trophies. Deuce consults with Victor and persuades the experienced detective to help him with the investigation. Their inquiry leads to a crooked preacher and a fixed gambling ring as Deuce insists that Moises and his cousin Elliot as his return the loot though the stay at home dad prefers to avoid injuries as that hurts and death as that is unknown.

The second small-town Texas Stay at Home Mysteries is an amusing cozy due to the residents of Rose Pedal to include little Victor and big Belinda. The short opening soccer match is hilarious while setting the tone of a jocular investigation. Though most locals think Deuce is weak as a househusband, he is resolute as he has no qualms with his marital relationship and with confronting problems of others.

Harriet Klausner