Friday, August 31, 2012

Murder Most Austen-Tracy Kiely

Murder Most Austen

Tracy Kiely

Minotaur, Sep 4 2012, $25.99

ISBN: 9781250007421

Elizabeth Parker knows her future is nebulous as she is unemployed and unsure of her relationship with her boyfriend Peter. However, Elizabeth puts aside her woes as she and her great-aunt Winnie Reynolds fly to the annual Jane Austen Festival in Bath; where the great author placed Northanger Abbey.

At the gala they run into Winnie’s friend Cora Beadle and her daughter Izzy. When Professor Richard Baines announces his shocking theory that Ms. Austen’s death was caused by syphilis, the Janeites are irate and think he is a lunatic; Cora especially rages. Soon after his pronouncement, someone stabs to death Baines at the Regency Masked Ball where he was garbed as Mr. Darcy. The police suspect Cora, his most vocal acerbic critic. Elizabeth and Winnie investigate and quickly find several other people with stronger motives than Cora to kill Baines.

The latest Elizabeth Parker Janeites amateur sleuth (see Murder Most Persuasive; Murder on the Bride's Side and Murder at Longbourn) is a terrific cozy due to a strong cast and scenes from out of Northanger Abbey. Elizabeth is a wonderful heroine as she works the case with assistance from her well-meaning but often mistaken Aunt Winnie. Though the engaging storyline offers few spins, sub-genre fans will enjoy Murder Most Austen as Jane stars.

Harriet Klausner

Cover Her Body-Eleanor Sullivan

Cover Her Body

Eleanor Sullivan

Yesteryear Press/Wyatt-MacKenzie, Oct 1 2011, $14.99

ISBN: 9781936214556

In 1833 in devout Zoar, Ohio, midwife Adelaide Bechtmann heads to the nearby river seeking peace. Instead she finds sixteen year old Johanna Appelgate dead in the river. Horrified Adelaide pulls the teen’s body from the river, but realizes the floater did not die from drowning as her lungs lacked water.

The Separatists elders reject Adelaide’s contention of a murder as the leaders conveniently insists accidental death. Shocked by their reaction, Adelaide takes a harder blow to her gut when her husband Benjamin warns her to back off. Needing to know the truth as she fears a remedy she gave to the pregnant young woman might have killed her, Adelaide ignores the elders and her husband to investigate the wrongful death.

This is a superb nineteenth century amateur sleuth mystery that brings to life the rigid Separatist community that expects full adherence to the edicts. Adelaide is a superb protagonist as her conscience to learn the truth battles with her desire to adhere to the sect’s rules; in some ways her inquiry turns this refreshing Americana into a coming of age tale.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, August 30, 2012

In Between Days-Andrew Porter

In Between Days

Andrew Porter

Knopf, Sep 4 2012, $24.95

ISBN: 9780307273512

On Houston, Elson the highly regarded architect and Cadence are divorced after three decades of marriage. Their two college aged children Richard and Chloe are not dealing well with their parents’ breakup.

Cadence calls Elson to inform him that their daughter is flying home tonight as Stratham College has expelled her for an act of violence involving her boyfriend Raja. Elson’s ex-wife also tells him that Richard, a graduate student at Rice, will pick up his sister as Chloe does not want to see her dad until tomorrow. With his family falling apart, his lover Lorna increasingly distant, and his career collapsing; Elson turns to alcohol to numb the pain of failure.

This is an intriguing family drama in which a monumental event (the end of a long marriage) has lasting impact on the couple and their children. Although reading more like four interrelated novellas, the Harding quartet are fully developed characters. Elson filled with thoughts of loser acts increasingly irresponsible; Cadence filled with self-pity and regret for marrying him struggles to find an identity besides ex and mom; Richard living at home feels torn between poet and supporting himself; and Chloe stunned by her parents’ divorce makes bad relational choices that hurt her and her family. Fans will appreciate this deep look at the impact on people when a key identifier (family role) becomes extinct.

Harriet Klausner

Dead Ends-Sandra Balzo

Dead Ends

Sandra Balzo

Severn, Sep 1 2012, $28.95

ISBN 9780727881748

Wisconsin police reporter AnnaLise Griggs takes a month long leave of absence to help her ailing mom Daisy in their hometown Sutherton, North Carolina. Noting her mother’s failing memory; AnnaLise suggests the town create a website with a blog.

Urban County, Wisconsin D.A. Benjamin Rosewood, his wife Tanja and their teenage daughter Suzanne arrive in Sutherton. Having had a tryst with Rosewood, an abashed AnnaLise stays out of his way as much as feasible in the small town. Tanja dies in a car crash when she drives her Porsche off Sutherton Mountain. AnnaLise and Daisy came close to following her over the edge. Police chief Chuck Greystone and his team learn someone shot Tanja with AnnaLise a major suspect. A second homicide and a failed attempt to kill Daisy follow.

The second Main Street Murders (see Running on Empty) is a great regional rural whodunit. The action never slows down as a killer stalks victims whose only seemingly connection is AnnaLise. Dead Ends is a terrific mystery.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Run the Risk-Lori Foster

Run the Risk

Lori Foster

Harlequin HQN, Sep 25 2012, $7.99

ISBN 9780373776955

Two years ago, Police Detective Logan Riske’s best friend Jack Carmin was murdered. The cop suspects’ club owner Morton Andrews was involved with the hit but the witness Rowdy Yates vanished. However, as his partner warns him about his obsession, Logan locates Rowdy’s mousy sister Pepper though she uses the surname Meeks. Musing about her he assumes her brother has turned her into a recluse while ironically she believes her sibling has protected her at risk to his life.

Logan goes undercover as Pepper’s construction worker neighbor Stark. He persuades her to go out to dinner with him as he hopes to use her to get to her hidden sibling. However, Logan is taken aback with his attraction to a reluctant Pepper who prefers to be left alone though she feels the same desires as he does.

The first Love Undercover romantic suspense is an enjoyable thriller as the sexy undercover cop and the damsel in distress hiding her body and herself fall in love. The romance is fascinating, but it is the powerful police procedural subplot that grips readers throughout.

Harriet Klausner

They Disappeared-Rick Mofina

They Disappeared

Rick Mofina

Mira, Sep 18 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780778313816

Montana mechanic Jeff and Sarah Griffin, accompanied by their tweener son Cole, go on vacation in Manhattan. In Times Square, Jeff enters a shop to buy batteries while his wife and child wait outside. After he completes his purchase he goes to join his family, but they are gone. He searches frantically the stores in the area, but fails to find them.

A desperate Jeff goes to the police whose first inclination is the duo are okay and will see him later and second and only other thought if not he harmed his wife and son. Not willing to wait around, Jeff, feeling guilty over his previous thoughts of divorce, begins a frantic search for his family that leads him into the part of the city that tourists never visit.

This is an exhilarating thriller that never allows the reader a moment of respite as one twist leads to another as the clock ticks. Fans will root for this everyman to defeat the dregs of society as Rick Mofina provides a gripping taut tale summed up aptly by the title.

Harriet Klausner

Mixed Signals-Jane Tesh

Mixed Signals

Jane Tesh

Poisoned Pen, Oct 2 2012, $24.95

ISBN: 9781464200618

In Parkland, North Carolina, the two house mates, private investigator David Randall and psychic Camden, come home when the latter goes over to say hello to their neighbor Jared Hunter. Camden finds him stabbed to death while David calls the cops. The police suspect David’s client Boyd Taylor killed Jared.

Soon after discovering the body Camden has flashbacks to the murder, but Boyd is not included in what he envisions. David learns that Jared and Bert Galvan the son of the Parkland Herald editor, were involved in a break-in at the Parkland Museum of History. Meanwhile the Parkland Avenger is a failing fool in which the Super Hero Society of Parkland insists this bumbler is not one of them.

The latest entertaining Grace Street investigation (see Stolen Hearts) is an engaging cozy that has too many eccentric characters making it difficult to keep track of the several subplots. The narrator Randall is a fascinating protagonist as he works the whodunit and sees Kary while fearing his mom’s interrogation over the death of his daughter. Fans will enjoy this zany regional cozy as Christmas arrives in Parkland.

Harriet Klausner

Killing the Emperors-Ruth Dudley Edwards

Killing the Emperors:

Ruth Dudley Edwards

Poisoned Pen, Oct 2 2012, $24.95

ISBN 9781590586389

Irate Russian business mogul Oleg Sarkovsky knows the London art world betrayed him and he seeks vengeance for his foolish purchases based on expert advice. He begins his vendetta with a string of abductions of those he holds culpable for his mistakes to include kidnapping Baroness Ida “Jack” Troutbeck, Tate galleries director Sir Nicholas Serota, teacher Dr. Hortense Wilde, and artists Anastasia Holliday, Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin.

The art world panics out of fear of being the next snatched or worse not being the next victim. While the culprit is silent on his or her demands except for the business of the kidnappings, the realization by the impacted shallow community is that those abducted all defended the conceptual art school. Meanwhile mystery writer Robert Amiss investigates the kidnappings with the goal of rescuing Jack.

The latest Baroness Jack Troutbeck and Robert Amiss Series (see Ten Lords A-Leaping) is a super satire that mocks conceptual art as “rubbish" and its defenders as “nihilistic” con artists. Using real persona alongside fictional characters enhances a fabulous lampooning of the world of art.

Harriet Klausner

The Other Woman-Hank Phillippi Ryan

The Other Woman

Hank Phillippi Ryan

Forge, Sep 4 2012, $24.99

ISBN: 9780765332578

In Boston Channel 11 fired investigative reporter Jane Ryland when she refused to reveal the source of a story in court that led to grocery business mogul Arthur Vick suing and winning a million dollars from the station for libel. Jane knows that Vick broke his promises to call-girl Sellica Darden, who since vanished.

Boston Register city editor Alex Wyatt hires Ryland and assigns her to interview Moira Lassiter, wife of the former governor Owen who is running for the US Senate. Moira avoids the media using campaign experts Trevor Kiernan and Rory Maitland as blockers. When Jane finally gets Moira to chat, what she tells the reporter is a shocker; as she believes her husband is cheating on her. Campaign volunteer Kenna Wilkes and groupie Holly Neff have diverse plans for Owen and his past indiscretions surface. Meanwhile Police Detective Jake Brogan feels a serial killer targeting young women has surfaced when a second corpse near a bridge is found.

The first Jane Ryland investigation is an exciting thriller with plenty of villains (not all deadly) for the reporter and the cop to deal with. Fast-paced there is plenty going on in the several subplots that can become overwhelming. Still fans will enjoy Charlotte “Charlie” McNally’s journalist peer taking center stage in this action-packed tale.

Harriet Klausner

Fall from Grace-Wayne Arthurson

Fall from Grace

Wayne Arthurson

Forge, Aug 7 2012, $14.99

ISBN: 9780765324191

Canadian Leo Desroches knows his gambling led to his wife leaving with their kids. He knows the alcohol costs him jobs. Now he knows he got the Aboriginal Issues reporter position in Edmonton because of his mom the Cree and plans to keep it by avoiding his self-destructive behavior.

His editor assigns him to cover the homicide of a Native-Canadian prostitute strangled to death in an Alberta wheat field. He completes his article, which causes a stir. Leo follows up and soon concludes a serial killer is on the loose murdering Native-Canadian prostitutes who society prefers to be forgotten and the cops failed to connect the homicidal dots. Desroches’ inquiry leads him to the Edmonton Police Service; only to have several cops abduct Leo.

Desroches is a fabulous protagonist who is a caring person wanting to do the right thing; but loses the battle to his addicted other side. The whodunit is well written as readers obtain a slice of life in Alberta. However, this is Desroches’ story as he snatches defeat from victory every time he veers towards success.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Dead Peasants-Larry D. Thompson

Dead Peasants

Larry D. Thompson

Dunne, Oct 2 2012, $25.99

ISBN 9781250009494

In Beaumont, Texas, after winning an enormous wrongful death civil suit for three families of dead refinery workers, attorney Jack Bryant retires. He plans to spend time with his son J.D. an ex-marine who is a walk-on trying to make the nationally ranked TCU football team, and to do pro bona legal services for the poor in Fort Worth.

The “Boss” hires a hit man to kill several former employees, but make it look like accidents. Meanwhile Widow June Davis shows Jack an exorbitant insurance check made out to her late husband’s employer. She explains that the payoff is exponentially greater than what her spouse could have made at the auto dealership in a booming economy. Jack accepts June as a client as he files in civil court for her to collect the life insurance money.

The murder for insurance money of “Dead Peasant” is an engaging legal thriller with a powerful underlying concept. The fast-paced storyline is at its best when the focuses are on insurance practices or in the courtroom. However, Jack spends too much time as a detective, which detracts from an otherwise intriguing tale.

Harriet Klausner

Princess Elizabeth’s Spy-Susan Elia MacNeal

Princess Elizabeth’s Spy

Susan Elia MacNeal

Bantam, Oct 16 2012, $15.00

ISBN 9780553593624

Following the Battle of Britain, the country remains on alert anticipating a blitzkrieg invasion. In that fearful atmosphere, American expatriate Maggie Hope left her position as Mr. Churchill’s Secretary to become an MI5 agent in training though she knows her superiors, peers and instructors consider espionage a man’s job in spite of her being one of the best code-breakers.

Her first assignment annoys Maggie as she expected to head to the continent not Windsor Castle where she goes undercover as fourteen year old Princess Elizabeth’s math tutor. However, instead of ennui, Maggie finds the castle finds a disturbing one as she investigates a murder that leads to a possible traitorous conspiracy reaching high in the royal family

The second Maggie Hope WWII mystery (see Mr. Churchill’s Secretary) is an entertaining whodunit that brings to life Windsor Castle and England during the war. Maggie is a superb heroine as she begins to realize the scope of sedition and knows if she fails the Battle of Britain will have been lost at Windsor. The storyline starts slow while the cast is introduced; but once that is done Princess Elizabeth’s Spy turns into a fabulous thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Falling Glass-Adrian McKinty

Falling Glass

Adrian McKinty

Serpent’s Tail, Oct 9 2012, $14.95

ISBN: 9781846687839

Killian the Irish traveller enforcer retires from his debt collecting and finding missing people because his is a young person’s game and not that of a forty years old male whose body reminds him his DNA is noted for reducing the average life span. Still he is highly respected for keeping the mess minimal as he always tried to use his head and not his weapons to complete the task effectively.

However, following the purchase of two expensive apartments, Killian needs money. He accepts affluent Irish businessman Richard Coulter’s offer of $500,000 to find his ex-wife Rachel and the two children hiding in Northern Ireland. The fee is exorbitant so Killian concludes his client hides his real purpose. Unbeknownst to Killian, Coulter has doubled down by hiring a professional who kills first.

This is an exhilarating noir starring a brave antihero. The fast-paced storyline never slows down as the audience wonders what Killian will do when he meets Rachel and the kids especially since he expects Coulter has a dark outcome planned. The Russian hit man adds suspense while there is also amusing asides and Michael Forsythe (see the "Dead" trilogy) gets the Life game started. Readers will enjoy this action-packed noir anticipating a high noon showdown in Northern Ireland and a stunning coda.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, August 27, 2012

A Place Beyond Courage-Elizabeth Chadwick

A Place Beyond Courage

Elizabeth Chadwick

Sourcebooks, Sep 1 2012, $14.99

ISBN 9781402271083

Though only in his twenties, John FitzGilbert is the Marshal to King Henry I. He is loyal to His Highness and brave as he controls access to the monarch as well as living arrangements at court. Deciding it is time to marry; John weds fearful Aline and has two sons with his frightened spouse.

When King Henry dies, John must decide whether to support the successor claim of the royal daughter Mathilda or nephew Stephen. H swears fealty to King Stephen, but quickly realizes the nephew is a loser so he switches to Empress Matilda and her son Prince Henry. Taking advantage of the division, he obtains an annulment of his marriage to Aline and quickly weds Sybilla, sister of an enemy the Earl of Salisbury. Sybilla and John are happy together as they raise two sons while he holds on to what he gained until Stephen abducts his child William (see The Greatest Knight for his tale).

This is a terrific biographical fiction that fans of the era will enjoy as John the Marshal proves able, brave and opportunistic in a world filled with intrigue, but is truly tested when his favorite offspring is snatched. The cast starting with Henry I, those at court, John’s two families and the civil war combatants enhance a deep look at a fascinating twelfth century powerful “chief of staff”.

Harriet Klausner

A Place Called Armageddon-CC Humphreys

A Place Called Armageddon

CC Humphreys

Sourcebooks, Sep 1 2012, $25.99

ISBN: 9781402272493

The once mighty Byzantine Empire crumbles from within and from the assaults of the Ottoman armies. By 1453, only Constantinople remains free of the enemy. Advised by Hamza Bey, Sultan Mehmet II leads a force of 100,000 warriors to take the “Red Apple” as a symbol of Muslim supremacy over the weak Christian infidels. Emperor Constantine XI Palaiologos leads 10,000 soldiers defending the walled city, but without the professionals he knows they fight a losing cause.

One of these mercenaries Gregoras Lascaris vowed to never go home; as Constantinople is the place where his twin Theon betrayed him turning him into a disgraced outcast; his scarred visage reminds him of what his popular sibling did to him including taking his beloved Sofia. However, he returns to Constantinople to defend a city that he realizes has become a death trap since he left.

This is a powerful fifteenth century thriller that focuses on the Battle of Constantinople by rotating perspectives between various people from both sides. The storyline grips the audience as we learn why some from side come to fight (or defend) like Venusians, Achmed the farmer and John Grant the Scot. Although the myriad of cast can be confusing, each character adds depth to a vivid picture in which armchair fans will believe they are witnessing the siege of Constantinople from within and outside circa 1453.

Harriet Klausner

The Ragnarök Conspiracy-Erec Stebbins

The Ragnarök Conspiracy

Erec Stebbins

Prometheus/Seventh Street, Oct 9 2012, $15.95

ISBN 9781616147129

FBI agent “Mad John” Savas is still grieving though over a decade has passed since his son died in the 9/11 terrorist mass murders. John believes he will always be angry and in mourning until the day he dies. However the Fed takes some solace in his job as a counterterrorism unit Intel 1 agent. Divorced John also feels his romance with FBI agent Rebecca Cohen gives him a sense of normalcy in his troubled mind

An unknown cabal using runes of Norse code to communicate is assassinating and bombing Muslims around the world. John has an affinity with the unknown anti-Muslim killers who take the war on terrorism back to the source. Still he tries to do his job right as he keeps reminding himself terrorism is terrorism. When Muslim-American agent Husaam Jordan joins the unit, Savas and others resent him initially until he proves himself worthy of their respect and support.

This is an entertaining thriller in which the protagonist must overcome his prejudice to not just work with a Muslim-American, but to end the assaults on innocent Muslims. The fast-paced storyline strongly pushes tolerance though he recognizes how difficult that can be to someone who lost a loved one due to intolerance. Although some of the key life changing events lack depth to persuade readers of their authenticity, fans will enjoy this unique global war on terrorism thriller as we get inside the head of an emotionally hurting counter agent.

Harriet Klausner

Say You’re Sorry-Michael Robotham

Say You’re Sorry

Michael Robotham

Little, Brown/Mulholland, Oct 2 2012, $24.99

ISBN 9780316221245

During a blizzard that cripples much of England, someone brutally murders Patricia and William Heyman in the home. From inside the Heyman house, Augie Shaw called the police reporting the deaths of the couple. The police hold Shaw as the only suspect as he is uncooperative refusing to explain why he was at murder scene.

To help them on the case the police turn to psychologist Joe O’Loughlin to profile Shaw. Joe concludes Shaw suffers from delusions so is unlikely the killer as these homicides were militarily précised strikes. However Joe also believes the suspect conceals something that may not be connected to the murders. Joe and retired cop Vincent Ruiz find a link between the killings and two missing teenage BFFs (Piper Hadley and Tash McBain) who vanished three years ago.

The latest Joe O'Loughlin psychological thriller (see Shatter and Suspect) is a taut tale that starts off as a profile of a potentially schizophrenic murder suspect, but effortlessly switches gear into a race to save the Bingham Girls. The storyline is fast-paced from start to finish as the former cop and the clinical psychologist convince the police that time is running out for the living abducted teens.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Postcards from the Dead-Laura Childs

Postcards from the Dead

Laura Childs

Berkley Prime Crime, Oct 2 2012, $25.95

ISBN: 9780425252758

The Loomis krewe parade marches down the French Quarter during Mardi Gras. TV reporter Kimber Breeze interviews people for the event at the Hotel Tremain. Next on line is Carmela Bertrand, owner of the Memory Mine scrapbooking store, who never gets her fifteen seconds of fame. Someone left Kimber hanging off the hotel balcony with a cord around her neck.

Carmela failed to neither witness the actual murder nor see who the killer is. Soon afterwards postcards signed by Kimber arrive at the Memory Mine. She talks with her best friend Ava Gruiex, the owner of Juju Voodoo, about the situation; they agree a killer is trying to frighten her just in case she can identify the culprit. Having solved several mysteries (see Fiber & Brimstone and Death Swatch) together, the BFFs ignore the threat and investigate.

The latest Scrapbooking amateur sleuth is a wonderful whodunit as this time the heroine vows to not investigate but feels compelled when the postcards start coming. Carmela and Ava are brave buddies who team up in search of the person sending Postcards From The Dead.

Harriet Klausner

The Jewels of Paradise-Donna Leon

The Jewels of Paradise

Donna Leon

Atlantic Monthly, Oct 2 2012, $25.00

ISBN 9780802120649

Opera expert Dr. Caterina Pellegrini has been an assistant professor at a Manchester, England conservatory for four years where she teaches music theory to the uninterested. Though she hated the ugly city and her students, Caterina enjoyed her research into Baroque music.

However, she accepts an assignment in her hometown Venice to catalogue the contents of three-century old trunks allegedly containing items owned by baroque composer Bishop Agostino Steffani and determine who the rightful owner is. His descendants are vultures greedily competing for who owns and sells whatever is found.

While Commissario Guido Brunetti takes a respite, Donna Leon introduces readers to another interesting Venusian Dr. Caterina Pellegrini who in her thirties struggles with what she wants out of life. The storyline is filled with plenty of fascinating historical tidbits about Agostino Steffani and the Baroque music era that is fun to read but distracts from the ownership mystery. Although there is too much late seventeenth century-early eighteenth century information and contains an improbable climax, The Jewels Of Paradise remains overall an intriguing thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Death on Telegraph Hill-Shirley Tallman

Death on Telegraph Hill

Shirley Tallman

Minotaur, Oct 16 2012, $24.99

ISBN 9781250010438

In 1882 lawyer Sarah Woolson and her brother crime reporter Samuel attend a reception for visiting Irish poet Oscar Wilde the champion of the Aesthetic Movement at the Telegraph Hill home of San Francisco Weekly owner Mortimer Remy. After an interruption by a rival editor and a long winded talk by Wilde, the siblings leave. However, on the way home, a gun man shoots Samuel.

Irate at the near death of Samuel though she also realizes she may have been the target, Sarah investigates with the goal to expose the shooter; her family is appalled as they fear for her safety from this unknown assassin. At the same time the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals hires Sarah to represent them in a law suit to prevent a wealthy Mexican with city backing from building a bull-fighting ring

The latest Sarah Woolson Mystery (see Scandal on Rincon Hill) is a fabulous historical whodunit starring a brave woman whose law practice is struggling as few clients want a female attorney. The storyline contains a strong amateur sleuth investigation and a solid legal case as Shirley Tallman provides a deep look at 1880s San Francisco.

Harrier Klausner

Bone Shadows-Christopher Valen

Bone Shadows

Christopher Valen

Conquill Press, Oct 1 2012, $15.00

ISBN: 9780980001754

St. Paul Homicide Detective John Santana investigates the apparent downing death in the Mississippi River due to alcohol of twenty-three year old Scott Rafferty. John interviews the victim’s parents (narcotics cop Hank Rafferty and Judge Rachel Harper) and girlfriend Kimberly Dalton, daughter of a cop; as well as psychiatrist Dr. Benjamin Roth who the deceased Iraqi vet was seeing for PTSD.

All evidence points to a tragic accident, but freelance award winning but defrocked reporter Jack Brody offers him a counter theory in which Scott was murdered by a serial killer working the I-94 corridor. Diligently John follows up on Brody’s data with an interview of the parents of a drowning victim who send him to a private investigator Jordan Parrish they hired as they believe their son was murdered. Parrish tells John she thinks so also. FBI Agent Ed Kincaid warns John to back off or else. Having faced horror when he lived in Columbia, John refuses to quit as increasingly he believes Parrish and Brody are right.

The latest John Santana police procedural (see White Tombs, The Black Minute and Bad Weeds Never Die) is a superb detective tale starring a dedicated cop and a strong support cast; some of whom want him to take down a killer and others who hinder his inquiry. The storyline is fast-paced but provides a deep methodical investigation. With a romantic subplot that blends nicely into the thrilling tour of the Twin Cities, fans will appreciate Bone Shadows as Christopher Valen provides another great entry in a super series.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, August 25, 2012

The Geneva Trap-Stella Rimington

The Geneva Trap

Stella Rimington

Bloomsbury USA, Oct 2 2012, $25.00

ISBN: 9781608198726

At a Swiss tennis club Russian agent Alexander Petrov states to British operative Russell White he needs to speak with “Lees Carlisle.” The Russian also says no one else before leaving. Russell tells what happened to Terry Castle at the M16 station in the British Embassy in Geneva. They agree that Petrov, once listed as Second Secretary, Soviet Trade Delegation, wants to make contact. In Vauxhall Geoffrey Fane knows the Russian wants to speak with Liz Carlisle of MI5.

Liz recalls meeting Petrov years ago; she agrees to see him in Geneva. Fearing Cold War II, he warns her of a cyber-attack on software controlling unmanned drones. He further insists his country is not behind the assault but is unaware who is. Since the drones are a joint venture with the Americans, the British Intel warns London based CIA chief Andy Bokus.

The latest Liz Carlyle espionage thriller (see Rip Tide) is a great action-packed tale as the protagonist and her unit search for a traitor within and the enemy without in order to prevent a new Cold War that could turn hot rather quickly. Although a personal scenario adds depth to Liz’ personal side, this also detracts from what spy aficionados want: an otherwise fantastic thrilling international espionage saga.

Harriet Klausner

Sleep No MoreI-Iris Johansen

Sleep No More

Iris Johansen

St. Martin’s, Oct 16 2012, $27.99

ISBN 9780312651244

Forensic sculptor Eve Duncan suffered for years with nightmares involving what happened to her beloved daughter (see Eve trilogy - Eve, Quinn and Bonnie). Recently, Eve ’s dark dreams focus on fleeing from a stalker in a forest. Her mom Sandra, asking for her help, informs her daughter that Eve’s half-sister, Beth Avery recently escaped from a Santa Barbara mental hospital after years of institution..

Stunned as she was unaware of the existence of her half-sibling, Eve and her lover Atlanta PD detective Joe Quinn travel to Santa Barbara seeking to find Beth. In California, profiler Kendra Michaels assists Joe and Eve. At the same time as Beth begins regains memories that drugs buried for years, a professional killer sent by a powerful individual stalks her.

The fourteenth engaging Eve Duncan thriller is an exciting tale with an intriguing premise of the heroine meeting her previously unknown sister in trouble in a dream. Fast-paced from the first nightmare to the final confrontation, series fans will enjoy the perils of brave Beth as Eve and Joe helped by Kendra seek to protect her in trouble half-sibling.

The Eyes of Lira Kazan- Eva Joly and Judith Perrignon

The Eyes of Lira Kazan

Eva Joly and Judith Perrignon

Bitter Lemon, Sep 18 2012, $14.95

ISBN: 9781908524003

In Abuja, Nigeria, following the assassination of his friend and colleague Uche, fraud squad investigator Nwanko needs to get his wife and children out of the country. The British government offer to take him and his family safely away if Nwanko agrees to say nothing about the corrupt Nigerian government he has been investigating for the last few years. Realizing his choice is death for his loved ones and himself or keeping quiet, he agrees to leave Lagos pretending he knows nothing

In Nice, the wife of an affluent Faroese banker drowns. The police insist an accident occurred but junior prosecutor Felix thinks otherwise.

In St. Petersburg, Lira the investigative journalist understands the hazards of her pursuits and especially fears for the safety of her child. However she diligently probes the business dealings of wealthy Russian Louchsky.

These three dedicated individuals will converge in London as Nigerian oil and undercover operatives target them for elimination.

The Eyes of Lira Kazan is a powerful satire that mocks the marriage between dirty money and “values” spouting politicians. Using hyperbole, Eva Joly and Judith Perrignon insist the affluent silence the crusaders by threatening innocent family members. However the keys to this engaging crime thriller is how haunted Nwanko, Felix and Lira feel about the potential assaults on their loved ones from mercenaries and untruth spins about each of them by the dirty money crowd.

Harriet Klausner

The Warlord of Willow Ridge-Gary Phillips

The Warlord of Willow Ridge

Gary Phillips

Dafina/Kensington, Oct 2 2012, $6.99

ISBN: 9780758203854

Heading to San Francisco, O’Connor’s bike dies near Willow Ridge. With no funds, he decides to hide in Willow Ridge, which once was an affluent gated community, but now has many abandoned vacant houses, some trapped families and several low life punks like the Mas Treces gang who established a meth lab there. He squats in one of the buildings.

Connie begins to clean up his temporary abode, but soon gets involved with the residents when he confronts gangbangers and thugs. To his shock he enjoys his time in the burb and begins an affair with Gwen Gardner. However as the Mas Treces and their rivals the Vandal Viking fight for Willow Creek lab rights, Connie finds himself protecting his neighbors.

The Warlord of Willow Ridge is an exciting thriller as a noirish loner knows it is time to pull a sting and make like the wind, but finds he is reluctant to leave the burbs. Fast-paced, readers will enjoy Connie kicking bad dude butt though like him wonder why he stays in a place he never belonged to before.

Harriet Klausner

Powdered Peril-Jessica Beck

Powdered Peril

Jessica Beck

St. Martin's, Aug 28 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9781250001061

In April Springs, North Carolina, Grace Gauge visits her BFF Suzanne Hart to tell her she ended her relationship with Peter Morgan as she claims he cheated on her. Early the next morning Suzanne arrives at her Donut Hearts donut shop only to find yellow paint splattered on her front window and bricks; the paint bucket nearby. She calls the police. Suzanne notices footprints in the paint and follows them to nowhere. ASPD Officer Grant arrives.

Chief Martin, who is seeing Suzanne’s mom, informs her they caught the vandal, Peter Morgan, but someone murdered him. With Grace as a prime suspect especially after her slapping down the victim and his apparent retaliation via her BFF, she and Suzanne investigate the homicide only to find several people besides cuckolded females with motives for wanting Peter dead.

The latest Donut Shop Mystery (see Drop Dead Chocolate, Killer Crullers and Sinister Sprinkles) is an engaging amateur sleuth as the intrepid duo investigates who murdered the sleaze. The storyline is an enjoyable regional culinary cozy due to the small-town relationships including the donate maker adjusting to a new assistant.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, August 24, 2012

The Accomplice-Charles Robbins

The Accomplice

Charles Robbins

Dunne, Sep 4 2012, $24.99

ISBN 9781250010513

Henry Hatten was press secretary for Tyler when the latter lost the race for Governor of Iowa probably because the former failed to finish an unethical but needed assault. The only moderate Republican running for the presidential nomination in a field of conservatives, Nebraska Senator Tom Peele hires Henry who knows Iowa, the first key state in the process. Though spending time in Iowa is not enticing as Henry recalls someone telling him that if you have six months to live stay in Iowa as it will feel like ten years; still he thinks the charismatic Peele has a strong chance of winning.

However, Henry soon learns of married Peele’s potentially fatal flaw: beautiful women. On top of that Henry finds the candidate who allegedly adheres to his values and their election chairman act like many politicians corrupt and avaricious. Soon all hell breaks out when a murder occurs with Henry stuck either holding the bag or covering the bag.

Timely with condemnation, the Accomplice is a delightful political thriller that enables the audience to observe what goes on behind the curtain on a major run for the White House. Ethical politician seems like an oxymoron as even knowing to keep oneself clean fails to prevent scandalous, illegal and in this case murderous behavior from happening. Purist Henry is superb as a sort of Forty Year Old Virgin surrounded by hedonist devils who ask not what they can do for their country - ask what their country can do for them.

Harriet Klausner

The Bookseller-Mark Pryor

The Bookseller

Mark Pryor

Prometheus/Seventh Street, Oct 9 2012, $15.95

ISBN 9781616147082

In Paris, former FBI profiler Hugo Marston enjoys the City of Lights while working as the head of security at the American embassy. However, while touring the city, his idyllic time ends when he watches in horror as someone with a gun abducts elderly book dealer Max Koche from the victim’s Seine bouquiniste. Hugo becomes frustrated with the local gendarme who seems disinterested in attempting to rescue the kidnapped Max.

Not one to sit idly on the sidelines, the Texan expatriate investigates. He obtains help from sort of retired CIA agent Tom Green and soon learns Max is not the first bookstall owner kidnapped. Evidence mounts that the bouquinistes are victims of gang warfare as they become Seine floaters. Hugo and journalist Claudia de Roussillon begin a romance that is in peril when he learns Max was a Nazi hunter with a stunning tie to Claudia’s father.

This is enjoyable French investigation in which Paris as seen through Hugo’s eyes comes to life. Hugo is a solid hero though his inquiry may make him persona non grata and expelled from France. Although the violent abductions and homicides are somewhat muted, the storyline is fast-paced from start to Hugo and Tom confronting their adversary who expects their visit.

Harriet Klausner

The Rendition-Albert Ashforth

The Rendition

Albert Ashforth

Oceanview, Oct 2 2012, $25.95

ISBN 9781608090594

In 2007 in the Baltics, war between Serbia and Kosovo is heating up. American intelligence officer Alex Klear enters Kosovo to abduct Ramush Nadaj; as the plan is to rendition the leader of the Kosovo Liberation Army. The mission proves not fully planned as everything goes wrong ending with Klear captured and tortured by the KLA for two days before his partner Buck Romero retrieves him.

While Klear physically heals in Germany at an American military hospital, he decides his covert field days are over as he lost something during the hours of torture especially since his superiors who sent him in hastily hold him culpable. Colonel Sylvia Frost recruits Klear with a do-over mission that will enable him to strike back at the KLA who haunt him and rendition Nadaj. However, once again Klear faces lies as the KLA want him dead and the German police want him arrested for an alleged murder.

This is a great espionage thriller starring a terrific spy whose perseverance and diligence lead him to uncover a diabolical plot as Kosovo Independence Day nears. Fast-paced from the opening failed rendition and never slowing down; fans will appreciate Klear’s escapades as he knows he is the pasty if the mission fails.

Harriet Klausner

The Aden Effect Claude Berube

The Aden Effect

Claude Berube

Naval Institute Press, Oct 15 2012, $27.95

ISBN: 9781612511092

Newly appointed American Ambassador to Yemen, C.J. Sumner understands she has two objectives besides watching for al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups. First she to negotiate with the Yemeni authorities to allow American companies to drill for oil off Socotra Island. Second she needs to establish a cooperative team to include the local government and other interested nations to end piracy off on the Aden Sea south of Yemen and north of the Horn of Africa. Madame Ambassador’s efforts on both fronts prove futile. Sumner hires former US navy officer Connor Stark, who knows the area as a mercenary, as her defense attaché.

Stark arranges a meeting between Yemeni shipping company CEO and the ruling family. At the same time, American diplomatic security operative Damien Golzari investigates a death of a State Department employee’s son when he finds evidence of illegal khat drug sales in the states that tie to a shipping company in Yemen. Sumner sanctions a humanitarian aid mission on Socotra, but pirates attack while Stark leads a counter attack. Golzari and Stark soon realize there is a more powerful adversary behind the troubled Aden Sea.

This is an exciting naval thriller that showcases how difficult it is for USA to help the local nations bordering on the Aden Sea with their myriad of problems while also furthering American interests on the region. The storyline is action-packed throughout, but goes hyperspeed when Golzari and Stark meet. Although the key support cast lacks depth, fans will relish this deep look at Yemen.

Harriet Klausner

Return to Atlantis-Andy McDermott

Return to Atlantis

Andy McDermott

Bantam, Aug 28 2012, $9.99

ISBN: 9780553593662

Archaeologist Nina Wilde and her husband former SAS soldier Eddie Chase have three interrelated ancient statues that will release energy not seen since before the fall of Atlantis. However, nothing goes right as the statues are stolen. Soon afterward Nina witnesses Chase killing her friend INTERPOL Cultural Property Crime Unit chief Ankit Jindal in Peru.

On the one year anniversary of their marriage, Nina wonders how Chase is doing as he vanished three months ago after murdering Kit. Her search for the stolen statues is her only relief from her depression. At the same time, Eddie misses his wife, but knows he must prove his innocence and catch Kit’s real killer if he is to have a future with his beloved Nina. He gets an anonymous tip that’s ends him to Japan; while she learns the statues were sold to a wealthy industrialist in Tokyo. However, Chase realizes his true mission is to keep Nina safe as she has become the focus of some nasty souls.

This is an exhilarating over the top of Mount Kita thriller that originally was published as Temple of the Gods. Chase and Wilde are on separate thrilling adventures with his to save his life and hers to save the planet. Their merging in Japan speeds up the planetary doomsday countdown. Fast-paced, readers will enjoy the latest Wilde-Chase escapades.

Harriet Klausner

Lightning's Child-Michael A. Smith

Lightning's Child

Michael A. Smith

CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, Apr 30 2012, $17.50

ISBN: 9781466378094

At GeneWorks in suburban Maryland, Director of Research geneticist Diane Kowalski and her team make a major breakthrough on dramatically increasing the life span of humans. However, someone(s) destroyed her experiments; placing the company at financial risk.

Desperate to prevent anymore industrial sabotage, the firm hires private investigator Jack O’Sullivan to investigate. As she gives him a tour, he struggles to focus on the assignment as images of making love to her keeps intruding on his thoughts. Jack and Diane track clues that take them to GJ Mendelsohn Research Laboratories as they find proof that founder Thomas Winthrop and his family seem to have applied the life span secrets but share it with no one.

This is a superb complex DNA thriller in which Michael A. Smith explores societal aspects of longevity of a family who lives several generations beyond the norm; in other words being able to play with your great-great grandchild. The intelligent storyline is filled with twisting action starting with a car accident that severs part of Thomas’ leg and a complicated romance as the past and the future merge with increasing complexities for those in the middle. With a nod to Tuck Everlasting, readers will appreciate this strong character driven tale as taking a drink from the Fountain of Youth is only the beginning.

Harriet Klausner

Iced Chiffon-Duffy Brown

Iced Chiffon

Duffy Brown

Berkley Prime Crime, Oct 2 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780425251607

In Savannah, Georgia, due to a prenup Hollis Beaumont keeps everything when he and his now ex-wife Reagan Summerside divorce. However, he agrees to let her keep their fixer upper Victorian Cherry House. A realtor Hollis turns to Cupcake for comfort while Reagan and her Aunt Kiki open up the Prissy Fox consignment shop out of her house.

Reagan “borrows” Hollis’ Lexus to deliver a fountain to Raylene Carter. However, Kiki opens the trunk only to find too much “junk” inside as the corpse of Cupcake occupies the space. The police suspect Hollis killed her following a public argument. Needing money for his legal defense, Hollis informs Reagan he needs to sell Cherry House. Reagan refuses to give up Cherry House so believing his insistence that he is innocent, she investigates the murder of Cupcake.

The first entertaining Consignment Shop Mystery is a humorous amateur sleuth tale +

due to the wry asides by the heroine. The investigation is fun due to Reagan and her “posse” as they find several people wanting to crush Cupcake. Though Reagan’s logic to look into the murder seems weak, fans will enjoy touring Savannah with Reagan as a guide as Duffy Brown writes a lighthearted amusing amateur sleuth.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Look of Love-Mary Jane Clark

The Look of Love

Mary Jane Clark

Avon, Aug 28 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780061995576

“The Look Of Love.” Daughter of the owner of the luxurious Elysium Spa Jillian Abernathy sends a Facebook message to Piper Donovan in which she says she saw the Glenna Brooks’ cake and wants to hire the professional cake decorator to do one for her wedding. Piper accepts as she will spend a full paid trip in Southern California at a fabulous resort and have time to recover from the hurt that FBI Agent Jack Armstrong did to her. Inside the exclusive spa, Jillian’s maid Eserpanza enjoys putting on the posh clothing her employer owns. When she answers a door expecting another wedding gift for Jillian, a man tosses acid in her face. Soon afterward she is murdered. Others are also attacked and killed. Though she knows better having done some dangerous sleuthing before (see To Have And To Kill), Piper investigates.

“The Bracelet.” ‘Piper Donovan loves her brother Robert but loathes his wife Zara as he is kind and caring while she is selfish and avaricolus. When a gold bracelet vanishes, evidence overwhelmingly condemns Zara as the thief. Piper struggles between the cops and her family.

The Look of Love, as the second Piper amateur sleuth, is an enjoyable whodunit though the rapid fire changing of perspective (average chapter size is under 4 pages) is distracting especially when the three “papa bears” are front and centered. The Bracelet is a super-fast pit stop short-short read in which Piper struggles with what is right and for whom. In both cases, Piper is an engaging protagonist as she works on a cake, mending her broken heart and solving a mystery.

Harriet Klausner

Blood Sacrifice-Michael Lister

Blood Sacrifice

Michael Lister

Pulpwood Press, Oct 31 2012, $16.99

ISBN: 9781888146967

After several bloody cases (see The Body and the Blood, Flesh and Blood, Power in the Blood and Blood of the Lamb) and the destruction of his marriage, prison chaplain John Jordan needs a breather. The former cop is staying at St. Ann’s Abbey retreat center in Bridgeport, Florida Panhandle. He sees police lights nearby and goes to help Chief Steve Taylor, a former deputy to John’s dad Potter County chief. As everyone waits for Taylor, John interferes with the body proving the victim who he knew as Tommy Boy was not a floater. Taylor lectures him and Jordon knows he erred. Sister Abigail who has been counseling Jordon lectures him too.

Someone brutally murders Gulf Coast Paper Company heiress Tammy Taylor who was undergoing an exorcism conducted by the retreat’s Father Thomas Scott. Increasingly Father Thomas looks guilty of the savage murder in which he insists demons inside the victim killed her. Sister Abigail, believing he is innocent, asks John to investigate. John assumes earthly matters involving the Gulf Coast Paper Company’s selling its property to developers is more likely the motive rather than demonic possession.

The latest John Jordon whodunit is a great investigative tale with several viable suspects including Father Thomas and Chief Taylor among others. The storyline focuses on the conflict between hard core religious beliefs in demonic possession and hard core economic credo in developing one of the last pristine natural Florida areas. Readers will appreciate Chaplin Jordan’s inquiry as the hero wonders whether Tammy is a Blood Sacrifice to the Christian God or capitalist god.

Harriet Klausner

Targets Of Deception-Jeffrey S. Stephens

Targets Of Deception

Jeffrey S. Stephens

Pocket, Sep 29 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9781451688672

Because the DC suits betrayed his field mission and allowed his team to die, agent Jordan Sandor left the CIA. He since has become a journalist. A friend from his operation days Dan Peters takes Sander to meet James Ryan to discuss a potentially nasty terrorism attack. As they drive together in Upstate New York, two thugs shoot a trooper and Peters. Sanders quick action saves his life and that of the wounded pair who are taken to a hospital. He later learns that Ryan was tortured and murdered.

In New York, terrorist cell leader Rahmad is upset that witnesses live. He assigns his best assassin to kill Sandor who is back in New York City and has Peter murdered. Rahmad must clean up the mess before his boss CIA traitor Traiman learns of the snafu. CIA suit Covington and FBI Agent Prescott argue over Sandor and Christine Frank the sister of Ryan who is actually James McHugh. Sandor and Frank head to Florida seeking McHugh’s best friend Anthony Andrioli as increasingly it appears a new al-Qaeda assault sponsored by Traiman is pending.

This is a reprint of an exciting Sandor espionage thriller (see Targets of Opportunity and Targets of Deception). The storyline is fast-paced from the moment the hero and his friend drive into danger and never slows down. Although I had a problem with the constant switching between the names Sandor and Jordon, and Christine is never developed beyond female sidekick status, Targets Of Deception is an entertaining tale as Sandor trusts the company suits as much as he trusts al-Qaeda.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Golden Dawn-Thomas M. Kostigen

Golden Dawn

Thomas M. Kostigen

Forge, Oct 16 2012

ISBN: 9780765329332

British News foreign correspondent Michael Shea has given accounts in some of the most dangerous locales in the world. However, his motive for reporting the hot conflicts has nothing to do with objective observations; instead it is personal. Michael hunts for his Uncle Sean O’Shaughnessy, an IRA bomber.

Aware of the End Times prophecy, Iranian President Mahmoud Talib decides the present is perfect for fulfilling the ancient doomsday. He enlists O’Shaughnessy and Chechen terrorist Alu Abramov as key elements on a deadly devious scheme to deploy nuclear weapons; his objective is Iranian world domination. To insure there is no interference against his team of killers, Talib’s assigns his best assassin Zhubin to kill Shea and his lover mystic Neda Ghazali, whose Golden Dawn sect protects the End of Times prophecy; collateral damage is expected.

Golden Dawn is an exhilarating action-packed thriller that contains too many subplots, which detracts from the fast-paced tale. Fast-paced, the lead protagonists are heroic while their adversaries 200 proof malevolent. With various corpses all over the places, diverse sexual deviant encounters everywhere and differing religious beliefs; readers will enjoy Thomas M. Kostigen’s thriller, but hope he tightens the game in his next adventure saga.

Harriet Klausner

Died With A Bow-Grace Carroll

Died With A Bow

Grace Carroll

Berkley Prime Crime, Sep 4 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780425251560

In San Francisco, the one thing that makes Rita Jewell happy is going to her workplace at Dolce’s where she sells upscale attire and accessories to the Nob Hill socialites who possess an air of entitlement in spite of the recession. However, the boutique is not making the profit it did before the downturn so cocky fashionista Vienna Fairchild, the centerfold of elitist entitlement, is hired. The new salesperson works on commission while guaranteeing she will earn more money than Dolce and Rita combined.

Vienna’s family and friends swamp the store buying a sundry of items while Rita is exiled to the back to answer calls from mostly men asking for the newcomer. Dolce takes Rita and Vienna to a charity bachelor auction. Vienna gives Rira the ticket saying her boyfriend will kill her if she accepts the date. The next morning Rita finds Vienna’s corpse on the floor of Dolce’s wearing that same black evening dress. Knowing SFPD Detective Jack will once again suspect her as the killer (see Shoe Done It) since she had the means, the opportunity and the motive; Rita once again investigates.

The second Accessories Mystery is an entertaining amateur sleuth tale that mocks the compulsive obsessive buying behavior of the entitled fashionista who remain clueless re whether they are impacted by the recession. The heroine is a delightful individual who uses her knowledge of clothing to investigate. However, it is Vienna whose charisma especially her ability to sell (herself which leads to merchandise sales) to customers who makes the tale as she “Educates Rita” on the art of selling while her manner obviously angered someone. Cozy readers will enjoy this lighthearted cozy though suspecting Rita seems a sub-genre habit.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Barcelona Brothers-Carlos Zanón and John Cullen (translator)

The Barcelona Brothers

Carlos Zanón and John Cullen (translator)

Other Press, Aug 28 2012, $15.95

ISBN: 9781590515181

In Barcelona, Epi and Alex Dalmau enter a dive where one can buy drinks as well as whores and drugs. To Alex’s horror, Epi batters the skull of their Moroccan friend Tanveer Hussein with a hammer before fleeing the bar. To protect his brother, Alex informs the police that a “Paki” who fled from the bar killed Tanveer.

While the police hunt for the Pakistani, Alex tries to learn why Epi murdered Tanveer. Meanwhile Epi remains obsessed with his ex-squeeze Tiffany Brisette, who was stepping out with Tanveer.

This is a dark Spanish thriller that uses flashbacks to purvey to readers how Epi, Tanveer and Tiffany got to that deadly assault. The storyline pulls no punches when it comes to racial profiling, fatherless children as adults perpetuating the fatherlessness, and life in the sewers of the slums. Carlos Zanón provides a tense stark warning that Spain better beware and deal with the brutal undercurrent that threatens society.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, August 20, 2012

More than Sorrow-Vicki Delany

More than Sorrow

Vicki Delany

Poisoned Pen, Sep 4 2012, $24.95

ISBN 9781590589878

War correspondent Hannah Manning slowly recovers from a brain injury caused by an IED in Afghanistan at her sister Joanne’s farmhouse in Prince Edward County, Ontario. Whenever Hannah enters the root cellar, she blacks-out and sees visions of a former owner, Maggie Macgregor. During the American Revolution, Maggie’s Loyalist husband was killed and she fell into abject poverty.

Hannah takes walks with Afghani expatriate Hila Popalzai, who cannot discuss her past with anyone as the memories are too nightmarish. When someone murders Hila, the police question Hannah who offers nothing of usefulness in solving the homicide though the cops believe the reporter hides information. As Hannah tries to remember anything her friend said and whether her brain trauma is leading to hallucinations, a viable threat towards her beloved ten year old niece Lily surfaces to get at the journalist.

Though the two subplots loosely merge in an exciting climax, the past and present feel like two different stories that never fully come together; as the modern day mystery is filled with suspense that grips the reader while the historical feels intrusive. Still overall fans will enjoy this thriller as the Canadian farmhouse ties two wars over two centuries apart.

Harriet Klausner

Bleeding Through-Sandra Parshall

Bleeding Through:

Sandra Parshall

Poisoned Pen, Sep 4 2012, $24.95

ISBN 9781464200298

In Mason County, Virginia, veterinarian Rachel Goddard and Deputy Sheriff Tom Bridger live together in an old farmhouse. The pair accompanied by two-dozen teenagers is picking up trash on a rural roadside when they find a corpse inside a plastic. One of the students seventeen year old Megan Beecher realizes the victim is her missing sister in law school student Shelley.

Tom investigates the murder of Shelley, which he thinks ties back to her legal efforts to free convicted murderer Vince Lankford for beating to death Brian Hadley. Meanwhile, Rachel’s frightened sister Michelle the psychiatrist has fled her Maryland home and DC office to hide from a persistent stalker in her sibling’s Virginia farmhouse. Michelle’s husband Kevin says there is no one after his wife; knowing her sister’s phobic dependencies and trepidations Rachel agrees with her brother-in-law until the stalking turns on her affirms even the paranoid can sometimes be right.

The latest Rachel Goddard mystery (see Under the Dog Star) is a strong thriller with two fabulous cases. Tom works the law student murder with his assumption being either Hadley’s family killed Shelley or her premise that Lankford is innocent is right and the real murderer silenced her. At the same time Rachel tries to keep her sister safe starting with Michelle’s mental state to the realization there really is a stalker. Both scenarios are super as Sandra Parshall provides a fabulous mystery.

Harriet Klausner

Face of the Enemy-Joanne Dobson and Beverle Graves Myers

Face of the Enemy

Joanne Dobson and Beverle Graves Myers

Poisoned Pen, Sep 4 2012, $24.95

ISBN 9781464200328

America changed on December 7, 1941 when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. Throughout the country, patriotism and fear intensified to stratospheric levels. Several thousand miles away from the sight of the deadly assault, New York City, like all of the United States, begins to mobilize.

The FBI invades a Brooklyn boarding house to take away Japanese- American artist Masako Fumi Oakley, wife of an ailing professor. Stunned by the legal abduction is Nurse Louise Hunter who is tending to the professor’s health needs; she vows to get Masako freed from Ellis Island and back with her spouse. When someone murders Masako’s art dealer while he closed down her show, the police suspect her as the killer mostly because of her ethnicity. Louise investigates; helped by boarding house resident Cabby Ward the reporter and Police Lieutenant Michael McKenna who wants the real killer caught instead of a Japanese scapegoat that the Feds prefer.

The parallels between the aftermath reactions to 12/7 and 9/11 are uncanny as Joanne Dobson and Beverle Graves Myers captures the targeted reactions by “patriots” acting out of ambition or fear. The investigation is enjoyable although the G-men are stereotyped as ambitious and uncaring re the truth. Still this is an engaging entity as America prepares for war after Pearl Harbor which seems so similar to America preparing for war after the Towers, the pentagon and Pennsylvania.

Harriet Klausner

Found-Shelley Shepard Gray


Shelley Shepard Gray

Avon Inspire, Sep 4 2012, $12.99

ISBN: 9780062089755

Police Detective Luke Reynolds is convinced he knows who killed Perry Borntrager (see Missing), but has to find evidence to prove his theory. Luke knows when he finds the proof; it will devastate further the Crooked Creek Amish community of Critterden County, Kentucky, still reeling from the fact that someone pushed Perry into the abandoned well.

Jacob Schrock expects the law to come to him soon after they finish looking at Perry’s girlfriend and the deceased’s best friend Walker Anderson. The night that Perry vanished, Jacob had a brawl with him. He conceals their fight as well as his love for Perry’s grieving sister Deborah who now works at his family’s store. When Reynolds questions Jacob, Deborah is shocked as the man she is falling in love with may have killed her brother.

The third Secrets of Crittenden County (see The Search) is a fabulous Amish police procedural as the answers to who killed Perry and much more are resolved. The characters are fully developed and the impact on the shocked Amish community stunningly portrayed as fans will relish the climax to this fast-paced whodunit.

Harriet Klausner

Frame Up-James Phoenix

Frame Up

James Phoenix

Grey Swan Press, Sep 3 2012, $27.95

ISBN: 9780983490036

Private eye Fenway Burke has not gone to his office in six months while living on board a rusted houseboat in Marblehead Harbor north of Boston. Fenway is close to being an alcoholic as he is recovering from his divorce.

His childhood friend Tiny, who runs Boston's largest bookie joint, hires Boston to do a job for him. Shawn Corbett, a son of a friend of Tiny’s mom, resides in Walpole; sentenced for life for killing a man. Three witnesses testified that he pulled the trigger and other evidence points to Shawn who insists he is innocent. As Fenway chats with the uncooperative detective and the cooperative public defender, bodies are everywhere starting with the murders of the three witnesses. Realizing he will have no seventh inning rest during the investigation, Fenway must end the killing spree of a hit man before he becomes the victim of a walk off homer while also seeking the affluent and influential employer who hired the hit man.

Fans of Parker’s Spencer will enjoy James Phoenix’s take on the mean streets of Boston even though the protagonist can only name two players and lacks the sardonic wit of the Red Sox nation PI centerfold. With a pleasant supporting romance enhancing the top rate investigation, readers anticipate the Green Monster showdown between the professional killer and Burke with the odds on the other guy.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Marriage Can Be Murder, Every Wife Has A Story-Susan Santangelo

Marriage Can Be Murder, Every Wife Has A Story

Susan Santangelo

Baby Boomer Mysteries Press, Jul 1 2012, $15.00

ISBN: 9780985779900

On Nantucket Island, Jenny and Mark are marrying while her brother Mike and his wife Marlee who wed in Tahiti will renew their vows in front of family. The father of the bride Jim is unhappy with the location and having to travel to a remote island; while the mother Carol is pleased for her children especially since competent wedding planner Tiffani of Cinderella Weddings hosts the event.

Carol knows that Bob, husband of her BFF Nancy, is having an affair with Tiffani. Though Carol conceals what she knows in spite of pangs of guilt, Nancy learns who her spouse is cheating with. Nancy turns to Dream Dates on-line dating. During a midnight bladder call, Carol sees Bob standing over the corpse of Tifani at an eerie spot that haunts her. Though she tells the police, Carol, with Jim not quite as adamant for her to mind her business, investigates for the sake of her friend.

The third Baby Boomer Mystery (see Retirement Can Be Murder and Moving Can Be Murder) is a wonderful extended family affair as even the canines Lucy and Ethel help in the investigation. The cast is fully developed with most boomers understanding Carol’s bladder “talking” to her. The inquiry is fun as Susan Santangelo provides a wonderful wedding amateur sleuth.

Harriet Klausner

Curveball-Jen Estes


Jen Estes

Camel Press, Oct 1 2012, $15.95

ISBN: 9781603818957

Baseball reporter Cat McDaniel lost her first Big Leagues’ position when she exposed deadly wrong doings at the Las Vegas Chips. Though she did the right thing, Cat has become persona non grata in the sport she loves. Thus when Buffalo Soldiers' General Manager Roger "Rakin'" Aiken invites her to town for a job interview, Cat is ecstatic. Aiken says the team reporter position is hers in the spring if she covers the team’s winter Latin American training facility in Santo Domingo. Cat accepts the terms, but is aghast when Aiken tells her his spoiled daughter Paige, expelled from Fillmore University, will be with her working as a scout assistant to Joe O’Donnell. Besides baby sitting out of control Paige, the only drawback to shuffling off to Buffalo is her boyfriend Benji teaches in Vegas.

The pair meets Worldwide Baseball Talent Management agent Chance Hayward, who charms Paige and disgusts Cat. When the three find the corpse of a prospect on the beach followed by a woman screaming at Chance for a death of a loved one, Cat investigates Worldwide Baseball Talent Management agency with help from Paige's ex, coach Junior DeLeon as she learns how the unscrupulous take advantage of the local young talent; unaware that her inquiry could be strike three for her.

The latest Cat McDaniel baseball mystery is an engaging amateur sleuth that is at its best with the insider look at the importance of baseball in the Dominican Republic. Paige is a foolish individual who will either step up to the plate or be benched permanently while Cat feels annoyed by her antics. Readers will enjoy Curveball as Cat deals with a splitter spitter bean-ball.

Harriet Klausner

Death In The Memorial Garden-Kathie Deviny

Death In The Memorial Garden

Kathie Deviny

Camel Press, Oct 15 2012, $11.95

ISBN: 9781603818995

Desperately needing repairs due to loose stones temporarily kept in place by grout; Grace Church is located in a deteriorating neighborhood filled with the poor and homeless. Father Robert Vickers feels at home here as he believes God assigned him Grace Church to provide some good to the dwindling flock.

Henry the caretaker digs up at the burial of wealthy longtime patron Neola Peterson in the Memorial a wine crate containing unknown ashes and a pair of shoes; the latter shocking a mourner. The Bishop announces he will visit Grace Church on Sunday. Father Robert with help from his eccentric congregation and quirky staff try to fix the place up for the Bishop’s visit. However, someone else wants the church closed. This individual climbs the church tower and throws rocks at the homeless Claire the Pigeon Lady who dies from the assault, and Father Robert. The perpetrator must be stopped before he causes irreparable damage to Grace Church.

This is an interesting working poor neighborhood cozy starring a priest who tries to save souls while also attempting to make life better for those around him as he stretches church canon to do what he believes is right. The amateur sleuthing is entertaining but it is the plight of a deteriorating neighborhood symbolized by its falling apart church that brings freshness to Death in the Memorial Garden.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Blame It On Texas-Christie Craig

Blame It On Texas

Christie Craig

Forever, Aug 28 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780446582834

Alabama kindergarten teacher Zoe Adams was watching Unsolved Mystery Hunters when a segment on a kidnapped girl hits home lead to strange memories. With a sudden need to know about her past, Zoe heads to Texas for answers.

Zoe hires the Only In Texas private investigate firm to search for her heritage. Wearing a clown costume after a gig at his niece’s birthday bash (to include bashing his abusive brother-in-law) PI Tyler Lopez takes charge of the inquiry. He and Zoe are attracted to one another, but Tyler keeps reminding himself she is a client and Zoe has a past to meet before she can consider a future. However, someone wants Zoe to leave the Lone Star State immediately preferably in a box while Tyler, used to protecting women from predators, vows to keep her safe and learn the truth.

This Hotter in Texas (see Don't Mess With Texas) romance is an amusing frolic. The fun storyline is an overused theme yet Christie Craig provides a fast-paced tale starring two protagonists battling over banana sandwiches while falling in love. Though the villains are an acrimonious miserable group with no redeeming quality, fans will enjoy Zoe does Texas.

Harriet Klausner

Hostage-Elie Wiesel and Catherine Temerson (translator)


Elie Wiesel and Catherine Temerson (translator)

Knopf. Aug 21 2012, $25.95

ISBN: 9780307599582

In 1975 in Brooklyn, Luigi the radical Italian revolutionary and Ahmed the Palestinian anti-Zionist abduct Shaltiel the Orthodox Jew. Luigi and Ahmed demand the release of three Palestinian prisoners in exchange for letting Shaltiel free. They hold him captive for eighty hours while the world media depict this previously nonentity in dramatically different ways.

The two kidnappers treat Shaltiel differently as Luigi has nothing against Jews while Ahmed loathes all Jews. Shaltiel is confused why him as he offers no value to anyone as a simple storyteller who enjoys telling tales. Still while in captivity and facing torture especially from the angry Palestinian Shaltiel begins to tell the story of his life. He starts with his family at Auschwitz where his grandmother died while a Nazi officer hid him. He thinks of his first meeting with his future wife Blanca and other family matters over the years as time is running out.

This is a taut thriller starring three fascinating but diverse individuals. Shaltiel tells his story while defending Israel’s position towards the Palestinians as security for the Jewish State; Ahmed makes a case for a free Palestine; and Luigi takes a world position; none of them attempt to truly understand their two “companions.”. Although the ending is contrived, readers will enjoy Elie Wiesel's latest work as Shaltiel’s past is incredible and his present dilemma interesting with its psychological insight into captivity as everyone is a prisoner.

Harriet Klausner

Mad River-John Sandford

Mad River

John Sandford

Putnam, Oct 2 2012, $27.95

ISBN: 9780399157707

The biggest mistake Marsha Hogan made was wearing an expensive diamond necklace at her 35th high school reunion. Becky Welsh, a teen from the other side of the tracks, serves food at the gala and covets the jewelry. Her boyfriend Jimmy Sharp and friend Tom McCall decide to steal the necklace for Becky.

The robbery turns ugly when Marsha’s daughter Agatha starts screaming; Jimmy kills her. Before leaving he grabs a packet from the desk as the three miscreant teenagers flee. They quickly kill a stranger to steal his car. They continual their murdering spree killing relatives while also sending their blood bath to TB news. Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension Chief Lucas Davenport assigns his top investigator Virgil Flowers to work with a host of various law enforcement agencies hunting the deadly trio; all unaware what the motive behind the seemingly Bonnie and Clyde (and Clyde) deadly joy ride is.

The latest superb Virgil Flowers police procedural (see Shock Wave and Bad Blood) is a great manhunt thriller. The fast-paced storyline is filled with shocking twists of a Mad River, but especially a late one as the audience nears the delta in which John Sandford proves he is one of the sub-genre best when the author laid out clues but hid them brilliantly. Virgil is diligent when it comes to cases and his woman; however, it is the antagonists as pathetic psychopaths abandoning hope for a better life who make this mystery superb when they chose fifteen minutes of infamy as high profile killers.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, August 17, 2012

The Devil in Silver-Victor LaValle

The Devil in Silver

Victor LaValle

Spiegel & Grau, Aug 21 2012, $27.00

ISBN: 9781400069866

Working stiff Pepper is a big man who gets into a fight with Donald’s nephews Huey, Dewey and Louie. However his three opponents turn out to be undercover cops so he is handcuffed. The officers don’t want to be bothered with documentation of this embarrassing case so they dump Pepper in New Hyde Hospital in Queens for a three day stay. To keep him sedated Pepper is given a horde of drugs and strapped to his bed.

One month later, Pepper awakens to find he is one of the inmates of this crazy house. He easily adapts to his new environs as he adjusts to his eccentric neighbors, enjoys the Hugo letters and starts a tryst with Xiu just before she is scheduled for deportation back to China. Wanting to be her hero, Pepper vows to keep her in the states while Dr. Anand diagnoses him as suffering from Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Then there is the restrained individual behind the silver door who the inmates claim is Satan visiting them when the asylum is dark.

With the obvious nod to Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest as recognized by Victor LaValle, The Devil in Silver is an entertaining character driven tale that makes the case that the differences between the insane patients and the normal staff is insignificant. That premise abates the Satan subplot suspense but also enables the audience to compare doctors, nurses, administrators and support to the inmates with the conclusion questioning who the insane are.

Harriet Klausner

The Lincoln Letter-William Martin

The Lincoln Letter

William Martin

Forge, Aug 21 2012, $25.99

ISBN: 9780765321985

The discovery of a President Lincoln letter written the day before his assassination would excite historians in of itself. However, the content is what has historians euphoric as Lincoln implies he kept a diary during the Civil War including the months before the Emancipation Proclamation. Everyone wants to find it as a race begins. Among the crowd searching for the historical priceless journal are reluctant Bostonian antiquarian Peter Fallon and travel writer Evangeline Carrington who are tired from the perilous search for historical documents (see Back Bay, Harvard Yard, The Lost Constitution and City of Dreams). Still unable to resist they reluctantly head to DC seeking the diary.

In 1862, Union Army Lieutenant Halsey Hutchinson finds the President’s lost notebook. He plans to return it to President Lincoln, but loses it when someone steals the diary. Before he can follow up, Halsey is arrested on a murder charge.

Rotating between the Civil War and the present the latest Fallon “historical” mystery is a fabulous thriller as readers will want to read Lincoln’s musings. The storyline is fast-paced, but difficult to accept twenty-first century people would kill hoping to expose that five score and ten years ago the Great Emancipator was a fraud. Still this is a taut tale as the diary seems real.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Guardian-Catherine Mann


Catherine Mann

Berkley Sensation, Sep 4 2012, $7.99

ISBN 9780425250990

At a military trial at Nellis AFB, JAG Major Sophie Campbell and test team director Major David Berg argue whether fire control officer Captain Tate erred when his AC-130 aircraft shot into a private citizen’s home. The missed firing led to a little boy Ricky Vasquez unable to use his legs and his family facing medical induced bankruptcy. This, along with his belief in his test crew, has David needing to know the truth as the child reminds him of his beloved daughter Haley Rose. As a single mom Sophie also empathizes with the injured child.

David persuades Sophie to help him investigate the tragic incident so that a career will be somewhat salvaged and a family could sue the right culprits and win. As they make their inquiries, they fall in love. Both know as single parents their offspring come first, which is what someone in the shadows is counting on when the culprit targets scaring off Sophie.

The latest Dark Ops military romantic suspense (see Protector) is an exciting stay at home thriller starring two obstinate protagonists. The fast-paced storyline grips the audience from the opening courtroom scene and never let’s go until a final confrontation. Although the entertaining plot never veers off the expected course, fans will enjoy this engaging tale as David believes Tate is innocent but the villain still has to be an insider.

Harriet Klausner

The Ninth Step-Grant Jerkins

The Ninth Step

Grant Jerkins

Berkley Prime Crime, Sep 4 2012, $15.00

ISBN 9780425255988

In Mantissa Cove, driving under the influence veterinarian Helen Patrice smashes into the vehicle driven by high school geometry teacher Edgar Woolrich. Edgar’s wife dies in the accident. Panicked Helen flees the accident scene and wastes no time in having her car repaired and painted so that no signs of the crash shows on her vehicle.

Filled with guilt, Helen fails at a suicide attempt so she joins Alcoholics Anonymous. However, she considers quitting when she learns the ninth step in the AA program is to face those you hurt. At the same time the vet struggles with remorse over the vehicular homicide hit and run, obsessed mathematician Edgar applies statistical analyses to reduce the field of who probably killed his wife. When they meet, she fails to tell him the truth until she realizes it is too late. Then the note arrives asking if she told her Edgar she killed his spouse?

This is a superb dark thriller starring two characters connected by the tragedy. Helen and Edgar seem real with each coping poorly with what happened. Edgar's probability analysis enhances a strong twisting storyline. With a changing relationship between the protagonists and that stunning note; readers will appreciate The Ninth Step.

Harriet Klausner

A Lack Of Temperance-Anna Loan-Wilsey

A Lack Of Temperance

Anna Loan-Wilsey

Kensington, Sep 25 2012, $15.00

ISBN: 9780758276346

In the Victorian Age, Hattie Davish is a traveling secretary going to whatever town in any state her mentor sends her to work. She currently arrives in Eureka Springs as secretary to Temperance League’s President Mrs. Trevelyan. Hattie’s first impression of her new employer is not a positive one as she sees her employer take an axe to the Cavern Saloon and sets fire to the place because the objective is to damage the establishment so it goes out of business.

A riot breaks out while Mrs. Trevelyan vanishes. Hattie thoroughly searches the hotel for her boss, but fails to find the elderly woman. She next turns to Mrs. Trevelyan’s trunk held in storage seeking a clue. Instead Hattie finds Mrs. Trevelyan’s corpse. The police arrest the Cavern Saloon owner, but Hattie has her doubts that he killed the woman. Deciding to learn the truth, Hattie seeks those with a motive to kill the iron temperance president only to find many people wanting her dead including league members.

The first Hattie Davish historical mystery captures the essence of the Temperance Movement through the fervor zealousness of members like the victim and those who want these busybodies to stay out of their freedom to imbibe or not. Hattie is terrific as an amateur sleuth who holds the storyline focused while enabling the audience to see deeply into a major late nineteenth century social issue with ramifications today (forerunner of the failed Prohibition and drug wars).

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Nightwatcher-Wendy Corsi Staub


Wendy Corsi Staub

Harper, Aug 28 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780062070289

For three years Allison Taylor has lived in Manhattan. She loves the city that never sleeps. However, she awakens to the horror of the 9/11 terrorist mass murders.

Horrified by what occurred Allison soon learns that lost in the mass murders is the killing of her upstairs neighbor Kristina Haines by apparently the serial killer “Nightwatcher" and that next door James MacKenna searches for his missing wife Carrie who he fears died in the Towers. At the same time homicide detective Rocky Manzillo continues his investigation into ending the Nightwatcher homicides unaware that Allison is marked for death.

The key to this powerful romantic suspense is the impact of 9/11 on New Yorkers as Stalin was wrong when he said: "The death of one man is a tragedy; the death of millions is a statistic;” as the timeframe matters. A murder of one person seems callously minor (except to family, friends and neighbors) when compared to over three thousand dead in a morning. Many first responders died alongside civilians in the Towers and risked their lives afterward at Ground Zero; Manzillo’s investigation provides a normalcy like the November 1 World Series game in the Bronx (my husband said you could see the smoke) as life goes on but one must never forget this day in infamy. This is a great thriller.

Harriet Klausner

The Double Game-Dan Fesperman

The Double Game

Dan Fesperman

Knopf, Aug 21 2012, $26.95

ISBN: 9780307700131

In 1984 young reporter Bill Cage interviews American espionage agent turned novelist Edwin Lemaster. After a few drinks, Edwin implies he considered working for the Soviet Union. That revelation led to Bill’s journalist career dying before it began. Over the years he became a public relations specialist spinning stories for his clients. Bill married and divorced April, and they have one child David who lives with her.

Over two decades later, an acrimonious Bill accompanies his dad a retired diplomat to the funeral of a CIA agent. Just after the funeral, Bill receives an anonymous letter encouraging him to follow up on the 1984 allegation as he failed to get the rest of the story. Feeling motivated for the first time since his career died, Bill using references from spy novels, heads to Europe where his dad worked and lives, and where Lemaster’s novels are located. In Vienna, he meets a former lover Litzi Strauss, as he investigates the spy who came in from the cold perhaps on the Soviet side.

This is a fun spy thriller that gives the audience a taste of some of the classic espionage tales as Bill turns to them for advice. The story line is fast-paced with much of the fun being Bill’s ineptness as he seems more like Davey Osborne in Cloak and Dagger than Ian Fleming’s James Bond, Joseph Conrad’s Secret Agent, or James Fennimore Cooper’s The Spy. Fans will enjoy this engaging frolic through the literary world of espionage literature with a wonderful biography (to include Lemaster’s novels) as Don Fesperman pays homage to the genre with his enjoyable spy thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Elvis and the Blue Christmas Corpse-Peggy Webb

Elvis and the Blue Christmas Corpse

Peggy Webb

Kensington, Sep 25 2012, $23.00

ISBN: 9780758241436

In Moorville, Mississippi beauty parlor owner Callie Valentine Jones still remains married though separated from Jack except he is staying at her house while he recovers from leg surgery caused by a jaguar trap (see Elvis and the Tropical Double Trouble). Callie wants children while Jack, like her Uncle Charlie, works for the Company so she fears being a widow single mom.

When Santa cannot perform at the mall’s Christmas Open House weekend charity event, Charlie volunteers. At the gala, Santa’s sled lights up, but the man playing Rudolph dies and Charlie is injured from electrocution. Cousins Callie and Lovie accompanied by Elvis the reincarnated basset hound turned Santa Paws investigate but find several viable suspects

The latest Southern Cousins Mysteries (see Elvis and the Grateful Dead, and Elvis and the Memphis Mambo Murders) is an engaging amateur sleuth as the intrepid trio trip over bodies while searching for the culprit. The trademark zany whodunit is amusing as Peggy Webb exaggerates Southern stereotypes as the cousins and the reincarnated canine seek a Blue Christmas killer.

Harriet Klausner

Last Wool And Testament- Molly MacRae

Last Wool And Testament

Molly MacRae

Obsidian, Sep 4 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780451237828

As she nears her destination Blue Plum, Tennessee, thirty-nine years old Kath Rutledge is speeding so she can attend the funeral of her beloved octogenarian grandma Ivy McClellan. Sheriff Deputy Cole Dunbar stops her but offers no sympathy for her loss. He gives her a ticket, nastily calls her grandma “Crazy Ivy” and acrimoniously says Ivy’s death was convenient.

Kath inherits her grandma’s Weaver’s Cat yarn shop and the late woman’s small house. The TGIF (Thank Goodness It’s Fiber) crew encourages Kath, a textile preservationist, to stay and run the place. Though she plans to leave, Kath is shocked when someone else claims ownership of the house. Grieving Kath moves into a cottage at the Homeplace & Living History Farm while she settles the estate. Even more stunning is that she learns that her grandma was the only suspect in poisoning homicide. Though she expects those like Dunbar will label her as crazy Kat, she investigates the murder obsessed with a need to prove her grandma’s innocent while a despondent ghost searches for the murderer too.

The first Haunted Yarn Shop Mystery is a delightful paranormal regional whodunit that stars slow as the readers meet the cast and location, but soon accelerates into an enjoyable investigation. Kath is a fascinating lead character as she deals with grief and an obsessive need to save her grandma’s reputation; the ghost matches her compulsive need for the truth while their bantering enhances the tale as does the eccentric TGIF needle arts group. Readers will appreciate this engaging ghostly amateur sleuth.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, August 13, 2012

Mistletoe, Merriment and Murder-Sara Rosett

Mistletoe, Merriment and Murder

Sara Rosett

Kensington, Oct 2 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780758269218

Event organizer Ellie Avery has mixed feelings about the Christmas season. On the one hand she is ecstatic that her husband Mitch is home for the holidays with her and their two kids before deploying with his r Air Force Base squadron shortly. On the other hand she is unhappy that rival organizer Gabrielle Matheson has set up shop in North Dawkins, Georgia as the newcomer is stealing clients that Ellie thought would use her services. At a squadron party hosted by Ellie at her home, she and Gabrielle get into a public argument.

Feeling guilty for her childish display, Ellie meets Gabrielle at the home of the latter’s sister Jean to apologize. When Ellie arrives for the rendezvous, she finds Jean’s dead; her head smashed in.. Gabrielle arrives soon afterward and tells the Sheriff Ellie found the body. Making matters more suspicious is that the murder weapon was given to Ellie at her party as a gag gift. Shockingly Gabrielle teams up with Ellie in search of the real killer.

The latest Ellie Avery amateur sleuth (see Mint Juleps, Mayhem, And Murder; and Magnolias, Moonlight, And Murder) is an engaging whodunit that once again enables readers to see close up the lives of air force spouses and dependents living on a base in a military town. The storyline is filled with twists and a strong cast as Ellie investigates the murder with her competitor joining her.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Murder Unmentionable-Meg London

Murder Unmentionable

Meg London

Berkley Prime Crime, Sep 4 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780425251577

In Manhattan Emma Taylor was Femme Magazine’s stylist while her boyfriend Guy Richard was an internationally acclaimed photographer. The small town southerner enjoyed the Big Apple until she caught Guy serial cheating with models. She dumped him, quit her fashionista job and moved into her Aunt Arabella’s home in Paris, Tennessee.

Emma plans to turn her aunt’s lingerie shop Sweet Nothings into a unique experience for customers by selling vintage. A contended Emma is shocked when Guy comes to town as the only Paris he would visit is in France. He pleads with her to come back with him and offers her a dream job she can’t refuse. They meet for dinner but model Nikki is all over Guy so Emma leaves. The next morning, Emma wakes up to find Aunt Arabella standing near Guy’s corpse on the floor. The police, encouraged by an officer who loathes Emma for rejecting him years ago, suspect her of killing Guy. Desperate she investigates but a second homicide diminishes her suspect pool while the local law enforcement continues to look at her as a person of interest.

The first Sweet Lingerie whodunit is an entertaining regional amateur sleuth as Meg London captures the essence of a small southern town’s quirkiness especially the difficulty to hide secrets when everyone knows everyone; yet Emma learns the townsfolk learn survival techniques as kids. Fans will enjoy drinking Tennessee tea while reading lingerie and Murder Unmentionable.

Harriet Klausner