Sunday, September 30, 2012

Finding Mercy-Karen Harper

Finding Mercy

Karen Harper

Mira, Oct 16 2012, $14.95

ISBN: 9780778313977

Thirtyish Alex Caldwell detests what has happened to his life ever since he turned witness against his ex-boss Marv Boynton who conducted illegal deals with the Chinese. Alec rejected the witness protection program while waiting for the trial to begin. He knows his career on Wall Street is dead as is the firm SkyBound he worked for but hopes to start over soon. In Atlanta while his bodyguard Jake sleeps, Alec steps out only to have someone shoot at him.

The hit attempt leads to Alec placed in WITSEC where he is hidden amongst the Amish in Home Valley, Ohio. Alec meets Ella Lantz, the daughter of his hosts. They are attracted to one another though she knows he is not Amish even if the elders imply otherwise that his difference comes from being a Pennsylvania cousin. As they fall in love, the outside world intrudes with hit men trying to kill Alec; collateral damage being acceptable. As the couple flees Eden County, accompanied by her grosmamm, the enemy pursues them.

The third Home Valley Amish romance (see Return to Grace and Fall From Pride) is an exciting rendition of Witness with the twist that the lead couple flees Amish country. Fast-paced and filled with action, readers will this love on the run romantic suspense.

Harriet Klausner

The Five O'Clock Follies: What's a Woman Doing Here, Anyway?-Theasa Tuohy

The Five O'Clock Follies: What's a Woman Doing Here, Anyway?

Theasa Tuohy

Calliope Press, Oct 15 2012, $14.99

ISBN: 9780984779918

In 1968 freelance writer Angela Martinelli arrives in Saigon as a rare female war correspondent. Her male counterparts ridicule the tall classy looking Angela in her high heels and long red hair as out of place in Vietnam. Only Chicago journalist Nick O’Brien gives her a chance to prove herself if she acclimates to life without American upper middle class “luxuries” like a lovely summer dress.

Angela adapts to the ups and downs of war reporting. She bravely covers a covert operation in Cambodia and escapes from the Viet Cong while the military deny any breaching of the boundaries. Her male counterparts continue to scorn her as they reject her accounts as female fanciful fabrications except for Nick.

This is a powerful military historical thriller that focuses on journalists covering the Vietnam War especially a feisty courageous woman crashing through the glass ceiling. The excitement occurs during the major events like the Tet Offensive and the insight into the psychological and physical injuries sustained by the soldiers and reporters. When the storyline concentrates on the mundane between the key war moments the plot slows down yet is even more discerning as the audience observes the journalists (and soldiers) dealing with ennui yet anticipating the next bipolar explosion to report on. The Five O'Clock Follies answers “What's a Woman Doing Here, Anyway?” with reporting the news.

Harriet Klausner

Strong Poison: Lord Peter Wimsey Mystery with Harriet Vane-Dorothy L. Sayers

Strong Poison: Lord Peter Wimsey Mystery with Harriet Vane

Dorothy L. Sayers

Harper, Oct 16 2012, $14.99

ISBN: 9780062196200

In 1929 mystery writer Harriet Vane stands trial for the arsenic poisoning of her fiancé, author Philip Boyes. Everyone knows she murdered Boyes as she had the means having purchased strychnine, prussic acid, and arsenic just before he died; the opportunity as he was her fiancée though she left him after a spat heard by the neighbors; and the motive as her intended was an advocate of free love, which may have been why that argued.

Unable to resist the lure of the most scandalous murder cases in years, Detective Lord Peter Wimsey attends the trial expecting to find a killer. After hearing the evidence and observing the accused in the dock, Peter explains to Chief Inspector Charles Parker that the latter erred as the accused is innocent. The jury shockingly reports they failed to reach a unanimous verdict as three holdouts refuses to bow to the pressure of the other members. He gets Sir Impey Biggs to add him onto the defense team as he investigates the murder with intensity as he has fallen in love with the accused. After being the forty-seventh person to propose to Miss Vane, Wimsey investigates.

The reprint of the first Wimsey-Vane mystery is a terrific period piece that brings to life 1920s England. The whodunit is entertaining as time is running out on identifying who killed Boyes. The whimsical fun in this tale comes from Wimsey’s serial proposals and vane’s serial refusals. Fans will relish this strong entry as Dorothy L. Sayers shows why she remains relevant with her ability to provide a slice of a bygone era to the reader.

Harriet Klausner

A Grid For Murder-Casey Mayes

A Grid For Murder

Casey Mayes

Berkley Prime Crime, Oct 2 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780425251645

Savannah Stone drives into nearby Asheville, North Carolina when she stops for tea at Café Noir. She would have headed straight home in Parson’s Valley if she knew obnoxious Joanne Clayton was there. Joanne shows Savannah a puzzle she created that was bought by the Asheville Alternative newspaper. Savannah, who is a nationally syndicated puzzle creator, congratulates her. Two other residents of Parson’s Valley Laura Moon and Sandra Oliver join them.

When she gets home, her husband retired Charlotte police chief Zach tells her that someone poisoned Joanne. Savannah tells her spouse about having distasteful tea with Joanna. Zach takes her to the Asheville police where State Police Captain North temporarily runs the office. Savannah tells her story to North and Zach offers his services. Back home, Savannah, worrying about her reputation as a relative newcomer, and her widow friend hardware store owner Rob Hastings draw up a list of suspects as they investigate the murder.

The third Mystery by the Numbers (see A Killer Column and A Deadly Row) is an engaging amateur sleuth as Savannah and Rob work their inquiry. His reason for investigating seems possible though unlikely; while hers seems improbable. Still the whodunit is clever as Savannah works her suspect list by the numbers.

Harriet Klaussner

Mrs. Malory and a Necessary End-Hazel Holt

Mrs. Malory and a Necessary End

Hazel Holt

Obsidian, Oct 2 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780451415387

Monica’s daughter Julia needs her after giving birth prematurely while moving. She asks her friend Sheila Malory to replace her three days a week over the next few weeks as a volunteer at a charity shop in Taviscombe. Initially greeted by dreadful Norma Stanley, Mrs. Malory finds the work interesting. However, she also dislikes her controlling egomaniac supervisor the unpleasant Desmond Barlow; a pain to work for as he always criticizes the staff and bullies his wife Wendy; even Norma bows to his tyranny.

Someone must have agreed with Mrs. Malory’s assessment just more sharply when the murdered corpse of Desmond is found in the shop. Inspector Bob Morris leads the inquiry while Mrs. Malory gossiping with friends and other townsfolk begins to uncover pertinent information about a man universally disliked.

The latest Mrs. Mallory English village cozy (see Mrs. Malory And Any Man’s Death) is a fascinating leisurely paced whodunit. Mrs. Malory’s guided tour of Taviscombe enables the armchair reader to see the town through her eyes. Well written and fun to read although fans will quickly boil down the killer to one of two people.

Harriet Klausner

Murder She Wrote: Domestic Malice-Jessica Fletcher and Donald Bain

Murder She Wrote: Domestic Malice

Jessica Fletcher and Donald Bain

NAL, Oct 2 2012, $23.95

ISBN: 9780451238030

In Cabot Cove, Maine, mystery writer Jessica Fletcher volunteers at the Cabot Cove Women’s Shelter. She and the shelter’s head Edwinna Wilkerson are chatting at the facility when battered Myriam Wolcott arrives. The mother of two (sixteen years old Mark and twelve years old Ruth) rejects medical attention, rejects filing a police report and refuses to remain at the facility. She goes home though she fears her spouse Josh, a financial planner, will harm her again.

The next morning Edwinna shocks Jessica with the news that someone murdered Josh just outside his home. Myriam’s brother and sister-in-law arrive followed by her martinet mother Mrs. Caldwell who threatens legal action if either Edwinna or Jessica mentions her daughter’s visit to the shelter. Mrs. Caldwell warns the sheriff as well while demanding her late son-in-law provide her with the will. When Myriam confesses, Jessica begins an investigation though she vowed not to.

The latest Murder She Wrote mystery (see Trouble at High Tide) is a terrific whodunit that highlights family abuse and to a lesser degree environmental concerns. The whodunit is clever with a stunning twist on top of an “obvious” spin as Jessica Fletcher and Donald Bain provide a super mystery that leaves the heroine questioning whether the truth is always the right thing.

Harriet Klausner

Finding Mercy-Karen Harper

Finding Mercy

Karen Harper

Mira, Oct 16 2012, $14.95

ISBN: 9780778313977

Thirtyish Alex Caldwell detests what has happened to his life ever since he turned witness against his ex-boss Marv Boynton who conducted illegal deals with the Chinese. Alec rejected the witness protection program while waiting for the trial to begin. He knows his career on Wall Street is dead as is the firm SkyBound he worked for but hopes to start over soon. In Atlanta while his bodyguard Jake sleeps, Alec steps out only to have someone shoot at him.

The hit attempt leads to Alec placed in WITSEC where he is hidden amongst the Amish in Home Valley, Ohio. Alec meets Ella Lantz, the daughter of his hosts. They are attracted to one another though she knows he is not Amish even if the elders imply otherwise that his difference comes from being a Pennsylvania cousin. As they fall in love, the outside world intrudes with hit men trying to kill Alec; collateral damage being acceptable. As the couple flees Eden County, accompanied by her grosmamm, the enemy pursues them.

The third Home Valley Amish romance (see Return to Grace and Fall From Pride) is an exciting rendition of Witness with the twist that the lead couple flees Amish country. Fast-paced and filled with action, readers will this love on the run romantic suspense.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Double Blind-Brandilyn Collins

Double Blind

Brandilyn Collins

B&H Books, Oct 15 2012, $14.99

ISBN: 9781433671647

The past two years of constant traumatic events has destroyed twenty-nine year old Lisa Newberry. She suffered three miscarriages followed by the death of her husband Ryan in an accident and finally five months ago was nearly murdered by a robber in a parking lot. Feeling all alone and abandoned by God, Lisa is severely depressed.

Desperate and unable to live a normal life, Lisa applies as a guinea pig in a medical research experiment in which a chip implanted in the brain emits electrical pulses to heal severe depression. She is accepted as a participant but now fears the concept of brain surgery going awry and perhaps worse being a placebo in the double-blind study. Though nearly mentally paralyzed by her bone marrow deep trepidations, Lisa becomes a study subject.

This is a great refreshing psychological thriller that grips the audience from start to finish. Fans will feel empathy for Lisa who has suffered from one tragedy after another until she no longer functions. Filled with stunning plausible twists, readers will appreciate Brandilyn Collins’ intense tale as we wonder whether Lisa is live pulses or the placebo effect.

Harriet Klausner

Fifteen Tales of Murder, Mayhem and Malice from the Land of Minnesota Nice-Minnesota Crime Wave

Fifteen Tales of Murder, Mayhem and Malice from the Land of Minnesota Nice

Minnesota Crime Wave

Nodin Press, Sep 12 2012, $16.00

ISBN: 9781935666431

The fifteen fine entries that make up the Minnesota Crime Wave anthology are very short engaging stories with each one under 20 pages. All the contributions are well written while varying from jocular to thrilling. In the humorous “This Old House” by Marilyn Victor, wheelchair bound Esther keeps persuading her younger septuagenarian sister to look at various spots where their father hid the family treasure. Though he suffers from PTSD, he knows the Shadow Men come for them unprepared in Richard A. Thompson’s dark “The Dark Under The Bed.” The clever “Desperadoes” (by Michael Allen Mallory) cannot escape since their getaway car broke down so they take a couple hostage. Murder suspect Toni Barre asks her friend statuesque Catherine if the latter’s short private eye boyfriend Sean NMI Sean can investigate the death of Councilman Springfield in exciting “The Horse He Rode In” by Carl Brookins. Kate intercedes on behalf of her BFF Anna when Josh abuses the latter in “Stone Arch Bridge” by Judith Borger. Fans of short crime tales will appreciate this super compilation.

Harriet Klausner

Books to Die For: The World's Greatest Mystery Writers on the World's Greatest Mystery Novels- John Connolly (Editor) and Declan Burke (Editor)

Books to Die For: The World's Greatest Mystery Writers on the World's Greatest Mystery Novels

John Connolly (Editor) and Declan Burke (Editor)

Atria/Emily Bestler, Oct 2 2012, $29.99

ISBN: 9781451696578

This is an excellent collection of 120 essays based on the premise that a current great mystery writer selects a mystery that they personally enjoy and explain why. The emotional depth of the entries varies but each contribution provides a solid rationale as to their respective selection with the range being cast from Kellie Stanley’s homage to Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express to Chris Brookmyre lauding Douglas Adams' Dirk Gentry’s Holistic Detective Agency to Liza Marklund loving the Nancy Drew classic The Ghost of Blackwood Hall by Carolyn Keene. The anthology includes articles on nineteenth century works by Poe, Dickens, Collins and Doyle and another Doyle classic from 1902 (The Hound of the Baskervilles). Most of the compilations occurs between 1928 and 2008; this providing a wide range. I personally enjoyed reading the 1930s and 1940s contributions as many are books I read years ago and became movies that I saw with my husband years ago in midnight movie theaters though the Cold War and subsequent decades commentaries are also engaging.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, September 28, 2012

The Gemini Virus-Wil Mara

The Gemini Virus

Wil Mara

Forge, Oct 2 2012, $24.99

ISBN: 9780765324313

In Ramsey, New Jersey, Bob Easton dies in horrible agony from an unknown illness that had him suffering from large pustules on his entire body and total delirium,. However before he passed away, Bob spread the disease to others. Six more people are dead while the local health responders are overwhelmed with the sick.

Centers for Disease Control Epidemic Intelligence Service epidemiologists Michael Beck and Cara Porter investigate the horrific deaths. As they work the New Jersey epidemic trying to identify what the killer is and whether Easton is patient zero, the disease spreads exponentially across the United States and beyond. America panics as does the world.

With a nod to the movie Contagion, The Gemini Virus is a vivid (the audience will become mysophobia agoraphobic), exhilarating lethal virus thriller. Part of the fun is the reactions of people as some welcome the biblical End of Days while others blame the government. Fast-paced from the first cough and sneeze, the storyline never takes a respite as the Gemini Virus goes viral.

Harriet Klausner

Spy in a Little Black Dress-Maxine Kenneth

Spy in a Little Black Dress

Maxine Kenneth

Grand Central, Oct 2 2012, $14.99

ISBN: 9780446567428

In 1951, CIA rookie Jackie Bouvier feels better about her espionage work after surviving her first assignment (see Paris To Die For) and having received some need training. Deputy Director Allen Dulles asks the Washington Times-Herald photojournalist to meet and flirts with Jack Kennedy as he wants the Massachusetts Congressman to become “a friend of the CIA.”

Jackie is sent under the guise of her photojournalist job to Cuba. There she is to learn what she can about revolutionary Fidel Castro by getting inside the Communist Party. The CIA wants to better understand his objectives and whether he is a viable threat to the brutal regime of Battista.

The second Jackie Bouvier, CIA operative thriller is a fun over the top of Pico Turquino espionage tale. Fast-paced with plenty of action and anchored in time and place by real persona like Hemingway and Sinatra, fans who relish an exciting implausible action thriller will enjoy Jackie meeting Jack and Fidel as the Spy in a Little Black Dress.

Harriet Klausner

If Mashed Potatoes Could Dance-Paige Shelton

If Mashed Potatoes Could Dance

Paige Shelton

Berkley, Oct 2 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780425251614

In Broken Rope, Missouri, Miz Winston owns Gram’s Country Cooking School; her granddaughter Isabelle “Betts” Winston works closely with her. Betts’ best friend, Broken Rope’s Historical Society historian and fake sheriff Jake asks them if they can host a busload of foodies whose reservation was messed up and provide cooking lessons. The two relatives wonder where anyone will stay except the floor as their establishment is not a hotel; Betts arranges accommodations for the foodie crowd.

Soon afterward, Miz and Betts encounter the ax-wielding ghost of patricide murderer Sally Swarthmore. She pleads with the pair to find her diary that will prove she is not the notorious cold-blooded killer of legend. They also find one of their guests dead with a noose around his neck; two other foodies are missing. Betts turns to her boyfriend Cliff of the local police department while also doing an inquiry.

The latest Country Cooking School Mystery (see If Fried Chicken Could Fly) is an entertaining amateur sleuth starring a heroine struggling to adapt to communicating with ghosts though she has a mentor helping her adjust. The pair of whodunits engages the audience though the solutions of each seem obvious early on. Still fans will enjoy Betts working paranormal and human murder cases.

Harriet Klausner

A Fatal Stain-A Fatal Stain

A Fatal Stain

A Fatal Stain

Elise Hyatt

Berkley Prime Crime, Oct 2 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780425255230

Daring Finds furniture refinishing storeowner Candyce "Dyce" Dare is running out of diversions as her mom and her BFF Ben Colm demand she join them to plan her wedding to Goldport Serious Crimes Unit Chief Investigator Cas Wolfe. Dyce struggles with their concept of Pythagoras dressed in a tuxedo as the Best Cat and fears whatever else the dynamic duo has in mind.

While sanding a table she bought at the semi-permanent garage sale, Dyce uncovers a stain that looks like blood. Though she knows it is probably her imagination running wild due to growing up in her parent’s mystery bookstore, Dyce visits the garage sale location accompanied by E. She learns the last owner vanished; so she wonders if the disappearance ties back to the stain.

The latest A Daring Finds investigation (see French Polished Murder) is an amusing amateur sleuth starring a likable but immature heroine. The mystery is fun to follow though Dyce has no real reason to make inquiries. Still fans will enjoy this cozy and appreciate tips on restoring furniture.

Harriet Klausner

Berkley Prime Crime, Oct 2 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780425255230

Daring Finds furniture refinishing storeowner Candyce "Dyce" Dare is running out of diversions as her mom and her BFF Ben Colm demand she join them to plan her wedding to Goldport Serious Crimes Unit Chief Investigator Cas Wolfe. Dyce struggles with their concept of Pythagoras dressed in a tuxedo as the Best Cat and fears whatever else the dynamic duo has in mind.

While sanding a table she bought at the semi-permanent garage sale, Dyce uncovers a stain that looks like blood. Though she knows it is probably her imagination running wild due to growing up in her parent’s mystery bookstore, Dyce visits the garage sale location accompanied by E. She learns the last owner vanished; so she wonders if the disappearance ties back to the stain.

The latest A Daring Finds investigation (see French Polished Murder) is an amusing amateur sleuth starring a likable but immature heroine. The mystery is fun to follow though Dyce has no real reason to make inquiries. Still fans will enjoy this cozy and appreciate tips on restoring furniture.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Paradise City-Archie Mayor

Paradise City

Archie Mayor

Minotaur, Oct 2 2012, $25.99

ISBN: 9780312681951

In Beacon Hill, three thieves break into the house of octogenarian Wilhelmina “Billie” Hawthorn. Billie interrupts their burglary, so they eliminate her. Boston Police Detective Jimmy McAuliffe leads the investigation in which the murderers steal silverware while leaving behind easy to snatch valuables. The victim’s twentyish granddaughter Mina Carson demands in on the official inquiry. Clues lead to Northampton, Massachusetts.

Vermont Bureau of Investigation Chief Joe Gunther and his team investigate arson and a theft at affluent Tucker Peak ski resort. Clues lead to Northampton. Gunther and his subordinate Willy Kunkle join the Massachusetts police team (and one angry feisty civilian) as they hunt for a fence and those working for this dealer of stolen property.

The latest Joe Gunther police procedural (see Tag Man) is a fabulous whodunit as the VBI chief and his top gun team up with their Massachusetts counterparts and Mina who refuses to be denied entry onto the task force. The storyline is fast-paced with Neanderthal Kunkle bringing humor to the exciting whodunit. Readers will enjoy fast-paced Paradise City.

Harriet Klausner

Nerve- Jeanne Ryan


Jeanne Ryan

Dial, Sep 13 2012, $17.99

ISBN: 9780803738324

High school junior “Little” Vee is the one who hides behind the curtain designing costumes and applying makeup to others. Matthew challenges her to audition at a prelim Dare for a spot on the popular Nerve reality show that fans pay a fee to watch. Deciding to enter, she pours cold water on her T-shirt; her friend Tommy sends her Dare to the show.

Now she, Ian and several other chosen ones team up and back stab as they begin taking on challenges with coveted customized prizes as their rewards. The stunts increasingly turn dangerous as each participant debases themselves in the not so friendly competition.

Nerve is an unnerving thriller as Jeanne Ryan asks readers how far someone will go for fame and fortune. The storyline is frantically-paced as Vee and the other contestants seemingly answer that question with anything though psychologically what motivates each of them is not very clear. With a nod to Chuck Barris’s Gong Show and Andy Warhol’s wry comment “In the future everyone will have their fifteen minutes of fame”, fans will relish this insightful look at the contestants inside the coliseum.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Live by Night- Dennis Lehane

Live by Night

Dennis Lehane

Morrow, Oct 2 2012, $27.99

ISBN 9780060004873

In 1926 Boston, nineteen year old troubled youth Joe Coughlin prefers the illegal night life in spite of his dad and older brother being cops. Joe supplies hookers and illegal drugs and alcohol to customers. During a heist with the Bartolo brothers of a speakeasy owned by Albert White, Joe meets Emma Gould. That robbery proves fruitful for Joe’s career when he ends up in prison where Mafia Don Maso Pescatore befriends him, as he likes the kid’s moxie.

In 1929 after Joe leaves prison, Maso puts him in charge of his West Florida operation based in Tampa. Over the years, Joe builds a powerful underworld empire and marries Cuban Graciela Corrales. He relocates his headquarters to Havana where Batista is friendly to American gangsters for the right price. As he continues to thrive, cracks begin to surface from within, and from without as rivals and ambitious mobsters want more than just a piece of his action and from the changing American and Cuban governmental interests.

Almost a decade since Joe first appeared in The Given Day, this is an entertaining epic of a career gangster. The storyline is great when the plot is in Boston and prison; it remains strong in Tampa, but in the stretch, the drama seems a bit muddled as too much happens. Still fans will relish Dennis Lehane’s deep look at the life of a twentieth century gangster.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, September 24, 2012

Death of a Longship-Marsali Taylor

Death of a Longship

Marsali Taylor

Attica Books, Aug 15 2012, $9.99

ISBN: 9781908002457

To the chagrin of her parents, Cass Lynch always preferred sailing to schooling. At sixteen years of age she left home, but to stay afloat, she waits tables. While serving Mr. Berg of Mr. Berg Productions, Cass overhears their discussion about using a Viking longship for a Hollywood movie. She persuades him and his associates to let her skipper the Stormfugl lying in the Shetland Islands; though that means going home for the first time since she ran away.

However, her euphoria ends when she sees the corpse of Maree Baker, stand-in to the film’s star, lying dead on the ship’s deck. Detective Investigator Macrae leads the homicide investigation with two distinct groups on his radar: the film crew and Cass and her family. Knowing how much a family affair the murder is and fearing she was the intended victim, Cass as is her personality refuses to wait for a killer or a cop to complete their respective actions; instead she investigates.

Death of a Longship is an entertaining amateur sleuth starring an intrepid heroine. The storyline showcase sailing as the protagonist’s love of the sea is a key supporting element. Although the storyline can somewhat slow down with the insight into Lynch family dynamics, fans will relish sailing into murder with Marsali Taylor as our skipper.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Death and the Maiden-Frank Tallis

Death and the Maiden

Frank Tallis

Random House, Oct 2 2012, $15.00

ISBN: 9780812983340

Detective Inspector Oskar Rheinhardt and his assistant Haussmann arrived at the home of Vienna Opera renowned soprano Ida Rosenkrantz. Rheinhardt learns from Constable Drasche that only the housekeeper frau Marcus who found the body and Dr. Engleberg who she called is inside the home. The corpse is oddly placed at the center of the rug. Dr. Engleberg tells the DI that the victim apparently imbibed a large amount of laudanum so she could have overdosed. To his chagrin, Rheinhardt has to inform his boss Commissioner Brugel so the latter can notify the Lord Chamberlain of the Court Opera singer’s death, making the case extremely sensitive.

The autopsy reveals that someone using immense force to crack a rib of the victim while suffocating the famous singer. The DI obtains the assistance of Freudian Dr. Max Liebermann in spite of knowing Vienna’s powerful and anti-Semitic Mayor Karl Lueger will object to using a Jew while running for reelection.

The latest Rheinhardt-Liebermann police procedural (see Vienna Secrets and Vienna Twilight) is a superb early twentieth century historical that uses real persona like Court Opera Director Gustav Mahler, Lueger and indirectly Freud. The case proves dangerous while the pair also looks into an alleged accidental death of a Brahms' compatriot who died four decades earlier. Even the personal front comes to life as Rheinhardt increasingly likes being with his family and Liebermann’s inamorata Amelia joins the budding feminist movement. Although somewhat more of a cozy with the abatement of violence as compared to previous entries, Frank Tallis provides a strong look at Freud’s Vienna.

Harriet Klausner

Phantom-Jo Nesbø


Jo Nesbø

Knopf, Oct 2 2012, $25.95

ISBN: 9780307960474

Oslo Police Inspector Harry Hole fled to Hong Kong suffering from PTSD after the horrific Snowman serial case compounded by his debt. However, he came home when Oslo Homicide Detective Kaja Solness needed his expertise on The Leopard case. The damaged cop has no plans to stay or remain in Norway.

However recovering alcoholic Harry returns to Oslo from Hong Kong once again to help one of the few people he would come home for his estranged eighteen years old Oleg. The police suspect the teenager killed Gusto Hanssen as each was employed by mysterious Dubai as street pushers of Violin, a synthetic heroin. With covert help from his former peers, Harry investigates the Norwegian drug trade with ties to the police force of which he once was a member.

The latest Harry Hole case is a fabulous thriller as the former cop escorts his audience around the lucrative drug trafficking in Norway. However, the inquiry also enables readers to understand a core value of the mentally damaged former detective whose obsession with the truth supersedes his paternal instinct to protect his offspring. Fans will relish Phantom as Harry’s latest return home is a winner.

Harriet Klausner

The Lost Artist-Gail Lukasik

The Lost Artist

Gail Lukasik

Five Star, Jun 6 2012, $25.95

ISBN: 9781432825768

In Anna, Illinois Professor Karen Caffrey owns the 1836 Braun House. After stealing pages from the Emily Braun diary, she is shocked to find the nearby grave of the woman open and empty. Soon afterward Karen realizes the man she obtained a restraining order for still stalks her.

Karen’s sister Rose, a performance artist, drives from Chicago to Anna because her sister’s eerie phone call frightened her and her efforts to phone Karen back were no answered. Rose enters her sibling’s home only to find her in the library near a ladder and books on the floor. Though not close, a stunned Rose plans to sell the house until she sees three enigmatic murals whose subjects relates to the 1830s Trail of Tears and learns her late sister hired restoration artist Alex Hague to remove layers of wallpaper that concealed four known murals in all. As she investigates who the mural artist was, Rose and Alex soon team up in search of missing sixteenth century Americana historical National Treasure art while an adversary pursues them.

This is a great thriller that provides the audience with a deep look at the Trail of Tears and at mural art. The storyline is fast-paced from the opening murder scene until the final discovery and disappearance. Rose is a superb heroine as she bravely continues her inquiry knowing what happened to her sister and distrusting the only person she can partner with in her search; as Alex is enigmatic. The Lost Artist is a fabulous mystery.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Invisible Murder-Lene Kaaberbøl and Agnete Friis

Invisible Murder

Lene Kaaberbøl and Agnete Friis

Soho Press, Oct 2 2012, $25.00

ISBN: 9781616951702

In Copenhagen, Red Cross nurse Nina Borg (see The Boy in the Suitcase) promised her husband to end her volunteerism in order to spend more time with their two children. However, Nina cannot stay away from the plight of the Hungarian Roma living in an encampment in Valby so she continues to volunteer for the Network.

Networker Peter Erhardsen the engineer and much of the Roma expatriates become violently ill with an unknown sickness. The police arrest Budapest law student Sándor Horváth who they mistakenly think is his stepbrother Tamás Rézmüves; as the cops believe the latter and his partner Pitkin stole radioactive products from an abandoned hospital in Hungary to sell in Denmark. Matters turns ugly as the tainted contraband travels the city while sex traffickers and terrorists threaten the Networkers, their families, the Roma and other good people.

This is an exciting Danish thriller that grips the audience with an obsessive need to know how everything ties together, which Lene Kaaberbøl and Agnete Friis successfully achieve by their stunning climax. Action-packed, readers will “clink and drink one down to wonderful, wonderful Copenhagen” (Frank Loesser).

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Skating on the Edge-Joelle Charbonneau

Skating on the Edge

Joelle Charbonneau

Minotaur, Oct 2 2012, $25.99

ISBN: 9780312606633

When her mother died, Rebecca Robbins returned home to Indian Falls, Illinois planning to sell the roller rink she inherited, but a murder in the bathroom delayed her plans (see Skating around the law). Still in town, Rebecca volunteers for a turn in the dunk tank at the Native American Days gala. However, she cancels at the last moment to help her crazy grandfather with his Elvis performance.

Replacing her in the tank is roller derby queen Sherlene “M Mean” Patsy who gets electrocuted on her first trip into the water. Rebecca rules out it was an accident and wonders if she was the intended victim or could the culprit have known of the last second switch and still have time to take advantage of an opportunity to go after the former Sister Shirley. She soon knows the truth when a humongous disco ball nearly crushes Rebecca; followed by her skates tampered and shots fired at her. Assuming her con artist dad is somehow involved, Rebecca investigates who wants her dead while the EstroGenocide roller derby team members become her bodyguards.

The third Rebecca Robbins amusing amateur sleuth (see Skating over the Line) is a humorous whodunit with a fabulous slapstick final confrontation worthy of the madcap 1930s shorts. Fast-paced, fans will enjoy Rebecca’s latest escapades as who would have believed that a skating rink could prove so dangerous.

Harriet Klausner

Rest for the Wicked-Ellen Hart

Rest for the Wicked

Ellen Hart

Minotaur, Oct 2 2012, $25.00

ISBN: 9781250001863

In Minneapolis, private investigator Alf "Alfonse Jasper" Nolan is hospitalized due to a long-time bullet in his back beginning to wander. While he remains bed ridden, someone stabs to death his nephew DeAndre Moore at the affluent GaudyLights strip club. Soon afterward Elvio Ramos a club dishwasher confesses closing the case except for Alf’s junior partner, restaurant owner Jane Lawless.

Investigating her first solo case, Jane visits the club where owner Vince Bessetti prefers she ignores the homicide and instead invest in GaudyLights. Having enough issues with her Lyme House and Xanadu Club establishments; Jane focuses on detecting as Georgia the law student-stripper seems to want to bite her peach and food service chef Shanice Williams wants her banned for firing her. Avi Greenberg helps Jane with her inquiry but the sleuth wants this bartender. Then there is her BFF drama queen Cordelia Thorn offering her advice.

The latest Lawless investigative thriller (see The Lost Women of Lost Lake) is a delightful mystery; the best in several years. The storyline is fast-paced whether the focus is on the whodunit with ties back three decades to St. Louis, the heroine’s restaurants or her wannabe relationships. Filled with a strong support cast, fans will appreciate Jane Lawless going for the G-string at an upscale strip joint.

Harriet Klausner

Ranchero-Rick Gavin


Rick Gavin

Minotaur, Oct 2 2012, $14.99

ISBN: 9781250006585

In Indianola, Mississippi, former police officer Nick Reid works for the K-Lo’s rental shop as a repo. He collects items like TVs from those who fail to remit their payments.

Borrowing his landlady’s 1969 Ranchero, Nick goes to repossess a TV from Percy Dwayne Dubois, but is greeted by the moocher with a fireplace shovel to the head. Percy leaves an unconscious Nick behind while borrowing the car to leave with K-Lo’s TV, his wife and child. Irate Nick gets Desmond to help him run down the SOB. The pair follows the trio across the Mississippi Delta, home to many lowlifes, while eluding Dale the corrupt county cop.

Reminiscent of the Florida RoadKill escapades of Serge Storms and Coleman (by Tim Dorsey), the first Mississippi Delta road-kill thriller is a jocular fast-paced tale starring two amiable but loony protagonists and a lot of pond scum. Filled with plenty of amusing exaggeration, this fast-paced tale accelerates from the moment Nick learns a basic law of physics when the irresistible shovel collides with the moveable skull and never slows down until the final convergence.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, September 17, 2012

What the Cat Saw-Carolyn Hart

What the Cat Saw

Carolyn Hart

Berkley Prime Crime, Oct 2 2012, $25.95

ISBN 9780425252741

Out of work investigative reporter Nela Farley, though in denial, can “hear” the thoughts of cats when she looks them in the eye ever since her fiancé died. When her sister, Chloe decides to take a last second vacation with her squeeze Leland in Tahiti, she persuades Nela to fill in for her at the Haklo Foundation. Thus Nela arrives in Craddock, Oklahoma where she stays in the apartment of charity organization’s deceased chief operating officer Marian Grant, who recently died in an alleged accident

Marian’s cat Jugs implies his beloved owner tripped on a rolling board on the second step. Though she prefers to ignore what she heard, Police Detective K.T. Dugan conducts a wrongful death investigation and has found anomalies that lead him to suspect Chloe may have committed a homicide since she fled the country in a hurry. Nela using her cat sense looks closely at the others at the Foundation.

With Annie Darling taking a well-deserved respite, Carolyn Hart begins the Nela Farley paranormal amateur sleuth series with a strong opening act. The heroine’s uncanny one-way communication skill comes across as genuine partly because of her defense mechanism posture to ignore it as she fears her ability is irrational behavior and partly because of cat-speak somehow seems right. The whodunit is clever as fans will appreciate this enjoyable Dr. Doolittle cozy.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Nowhere to Run-Amy Wallace

Nowhere to Run

Amy Wallace

Harvest House, Oct 1 2012, $13.99

ISBN: 9780736947336

Montezuma, Georgia Police Officer Ashley Walters feels someone is stalking her. Her fiancé Patrick James, her family and friends tell her she needs to see the police counselor more as they assume her recent case has her slightly off kilter (see Hiding In Plain Sight). When a vase of roses not given to her by Patrick is left outside her home, she finds the proof of a stalker. Soon after that Patrick is run off the road and a manila envelope arrives with photos of her dating back to high school. The culprit beats up Patrick sending him to hospital and a cop protecting her is shot when the stalker breaches her parents’ ultra-secure home

Fearing for the safety of her loved ones, Ashley flees Georgia accompanied by her BFF Margo. They take sanctuary in the Mennonite community in Shipshewana, Indiana. After warning Marshal Tom Taylor, Ashley reconsiders faith in God to protect those she cherishes but also has doubts about the Lord who she believes deserted her when her brother was murdered a decade ago.

The second Place of Refuge romantic suspense is an action-packed inspirational as a stalker knows in his gut that Ashley belongs to him and does macho insane things to prove to her his assertion. Fast-paced from the moment the case is left at the beleaguered heroine’s door and never slowing down until an anticipated confrontation, readers will enjoy this deep look inside the soul of a disbeliever trying to find her way back to the Lord and inside a “Criminal Mind”.

Harriet Klausner

The Chocolate Moose Motive: A Chocoholic Mystery-JoAnna Carl

The Chocolate Moose Motive: A Chocoholic Mystery

JoAnna Carl

NAL, Oct 2 2012, $22.95

ISBN: 9780451238023

At the South Haven, Michigan supermarket, Lee McKinney Woodyard overhears a man threaten a woman over custody of his grandson Johnny. Colonel Ace Smith makes it clear he has the resources to destroy his widowed daughter-in-law Forsythia "Sissy" Smith if she fails to obey his command and her hippie grandma Wildflower whom mother and daughter live with. Feeling sorry for the beleaguered woman, Lee hires Sissy to work as a bookkeeper at her TenHuis Chocolade shop in nearby Warner Pier.

Fostered by the county sheriff though he lacked evidence, the townsfolk believe that Sissy murdered her husband Buzz. The murder of Ace’s housekeeper Helen Ferguson also points to Sissy. However, town Police Chief Hogan Jones does not allow bias against blood relatives who protested the Vietnam War interfere with his open-minded investigation. Assisted by her husband Joe the lawyer and her Aunt Nettie, Lee also makes inquires, which places her in danger.

The latest chocoholic mystery (see The Chocolate Cupid Killings and The Chocolate Castle Clue) is an enjoyable cozy as readers will wonder whether Sissy or Ace are the killers in spite of both apparently having loved Buzz. Fans will appreciate this engaging whodunit served with chocolate fudge.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, September 14, 2012

One Wrong Move-Shannon McKenna

One Wrong Move

Shannon McKenna

Kensington, Sep 25 2012, $15.00

ISBN 9780758273475

In Brooklyn, an elderly woman attacks Nina Christie with a hypodermic needle. After plunging the needle in to Nina’s arm, the victim recognizes her assailant as her mother’s best friend Ukrainian Helga Kasyanov who was like a beloved aunt to her. The drug proves to be mind-altering as she can hear thoughts of others.

Former Army Ranger Alex Aaro sneaks into New York City to say his goodbye to his dying aunt while avoiding his estranged Russian mob family. The McCloud family asks him to translate a message that Helga left on Nina’s cell in Ukrainian, but instead he intercedes when dangerous goons come to abduct her. She soon learns that she has three days to take the antidote or die while adversaries pursue them.

The latest McCloud Brothers (and friends) romantic suspense (see Blood and Fire) is a taut fast-paced thriller that uses mind-control telepathy as a powerful fresh mechanism. The sex scenes feel more like detractors with time running out and the enemy thugs on their butts. Still, fans will enjoy Shannon McKenna’s New York adventures.

Harriet Klausner

In for a Ruble-David Duffy

In for a Ruble

David Duffy

Dunne, Jul 17 2012, $25.99

ISBN: 9780312621919

In New York billionaire Hedge Fund manager Sebastian Leitz hires former KGB operative Turbo Vlost to find security gaps. Vlost quickly concludes that Leitz and his family are concealing things as big as the client is.

In Belarus, the Baltic Enterprise Commission is using Leitz’s brother-in-law to gain control of the big man’s company. Leitz’s brother appears to be part of their hostile takeover plan while Leitz’s son has his own computer scam going on. Feeling a horrid flashback to his youth, Vlost recognizes the game and the players, but prefers to remain on the sidelines as nightmarish memories of the Gulag remain etched in his brain.

The latest Turbo Vlost private investigator tale (see Last to Fold) is an exciting thriller starring an ex KGB operative who is increasingly becoming an alcoholic. The support cast contains several nasty individuals as Vlost learns during his inquiry. In for a Ruble is a taut enjoyable story starring a fascinating protagonist.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, September 10, 2012

Becoming Clementine-Jennifer Niven

Becoming Clementine

Jennifer Niven

Plume, Sep 25 2012, $15.00

ISBN: 9780452298101

In 1944, American pilot Velva Jean Hart agrees to fly copilot a plane taking undercover agents to Normandy. The pilot Captain Baskin refuses to allow a woman to help. When the Nazis shoot down her plane, Velva Jean lands the crippled aircraft; enabling her and five operatives to survive with the Nazis in pursuit. The men do not want her on the journey except Emile Gravois who insists she saved their lives. She travels to Paris with plans to find and rescue agent Swan.

Hoping also to locate her missing tech sergeant brother Johnny as well as the Swan, Velva Jean becomes Clementine Roux. In her secret identity, she helps the French Resistance and falls in love with Emile. However, Clementine will learn how evil mankind can be as she becomes truly part of the team.

The third Velva Jean Hart WWII thriller (See Velva Jean Learns to Fly and Velva Jean Learns to Drive) is a great entry. The intrepid WASP warrior faces gender bias even as she constantly proves her value to her new team who mostly expect her to fail even after she keeps on succeeding while facing life threatening danger. Fans will feel they are crossing the French countryside and in Paris with Clementine who finds Nazi occupiers are everywhere. This is a super insightful tale as Velva Jean may have become Clementine, but affirms Shakespeare’s wry comment that “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet."

Harriet Klausner

Talking to the Dead-Harry Bingham

Talking to the Dead

Harry Bingham

Delacorte, Sep 25 2012, $26.00

ISBN: 9780345533739

In Cardiff, Detective Constable Fiona Griffiths works on the tedious Pentry embezzlement case in which everyone knows the culprit eventually will confess, but for now every T must be crossed and every I dotted. Detective Sergeant David “Buzz” Bryden shows Fiona the expired credit card of affluent Brendan Rattigan who died in a plane crash nine months ago, but his body never was found. The card was found in the rubble of a house containing the corpses of a twentyish drug using female and a six years old girl in which a sink crushed her head. They investigate the deaths as everyone ponders why a hooker had the deceased steel king’s credit card.

Her peers believe Griffiths is wired differently as she obsesses on cases with an intensity that leads to burnout; which most cops believe she suffered when she vanished for a couple of years. Still, though she fails in office politics and socialization as she misses all non-verbal communication, Fiona believes that the little girl April, who Fiona believes is in a better place, is the key to solving the Mancini mother and daughter murders even as she learns of a second dead prostitute.

This is an engaging Wales police procedural made fresh by the unique heroine. Fiona reminds this reader of a high functioning Aspie; as she feels empathy but cannot show it, fails to “read” social messages, and prefers detailed procedures to interpret in her different but very moral way; though her wiring comes from a different cause. Filled with action made fun by the heroine’s unorthodox methods that makes one wonder how she was hired as a copper, readers will enjoy Fiona’s inquiry.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Nowhere To Hide-Nancy Bush

Nowhere To Hide

Nancy Bush

Zebra, Aug 28 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9781420125023

Her law enforcement twin brother August was born six minutes before her on August 31 while Police Detective September “Nine” Rafferty came into the world on September 1. Like their older siblings (March, May and July), they are named for their birth months.

However, September has no time to celebrate her birthday as she and her partner Detective Gretchen Sandler lead the inquiry into the “Do Until Others As She Did To Me” serial killing case. The two cops know the third victim Glenda Tripp had ties to the Zuma case that Augie worked (see Nowhere to Run). However, the investigation takes a strange personal spin that has Nine believing she knows the culprit who apparently has targeted her. The prime suspect is Jake Westerly who she shared a brief interlude back in high school.

The latest Rafferty siblings’ police procedural (see Nowhere To Run) is an exciting investigative thriller. The storyline is action-packed as the hunted hunts the hunter. The relationship between Nine and Jake fails to ring true in several ways; such as the civilian protects the cop and what happened the day after back in high school is not confronted; besides which a romance feels forced and unnecessary. Still fans will enjoy Nowhere To Hide as a psychopath stalks the cop who is trying to end the killings.

Harriet Klausner

The Lincoln Conspiracy-Timothy L. O’Brien

The Lincoln Conspiracy

Timothy L. O’Brien

Ballantine, Sep 18 2012, $26.00

ISBN: 9780345496775

One month after the assassination of President Lincoln, Metropolitan Police Detective Temple McFadden limps with a cane to the platform where the B&O train to Baltimore waits. There he is to meet Stump a courier with a package for him. As he gets closer, men accost and kill Stump, but Temple with help from a soldier, who gets shot, takes the package that contains two diaries.

One diary is written by the late president’s widow Mary Todd Lincoln; while the other is the words of the killer John Wilkes Booth. A quick read stuns the cop as each diary implies that the assassination was much greater than what was told to the public. Now Temple is caught in the middle of two rival groups who will harm anyone even the detective’s beloved wife Fiona to possess the damning documents.

Using real persona and incidents from 1865 to anchor time and place, The Lincoln Conspiracy is an exciting thriller built on the premise that the official account of the assassination is a cover-up of a more sinister subversive scheme. Though the suspense is somewhat muted by the historical tidbits supporting the fascinating conspiratorial concept, this is a delightful twisting tale.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

A Death in Valencia-Jason Webster

A Death in Valencia

Jason Webster

Minotaur, Sep 18 2012, $24.99

ISBN: 9780312581848

Someone murders highly regarded paella chef Pep Roures. As the cops pull Chef Pep’s battered body from the sea, Spanish National Police Chief Inspector Max Cámara is angry as he frequently dined at the victim’s La Mar restaurant on Valencia.

The autopsy proves that Chef Pep was stabbed in the kidney before drowning. Cámara looks initially at paella chef warfare, but quickly changes his mind when he finds a money angle. The deceased strongly opposed, as the last major hold-out, the city’s renovation plans in the El Cabanyal zone that included La Mar. Distractions like the Pope is coming and an abduction occur while Cámara suddenly is homeless when the entire block he lives on collapses.

The latest Valencia Spanish police procedural (see Or the Bull Kills You) is an enjoyable whodunit as the hero is a fabulous protagonist who to quote the Wide World of Sports tastes “the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.” The storyline is fast-paced and bleak as Cámara finds himself at odds with the city’s leaders at a time when he is overworked on the job and overwhelmed in his personal life with no home and a woman he wants (in Madrid) who seems to have moved on.

Harriet Klausner

Outrage-Arnaldur Indridason


Arnaldur Indridason

Minotaur, Sep 18 2012, $24.99

ISBN: 9780312659110

In Reykjavík, a young man wearing a San Francisco t-shirt enters a bar and tries to pick up a woman. The next morning, Runólfur is found dead in his home wearing a San Francisco T-shirt that is too small. With Inspector Erlendur suddenly on leave, Detective Elínborg leads the homicide investigation.

The victim’s throat was slashed and they find the date rape drug Rohypnol on him as well as in his body. Assuming the date rape drug is the key to the motive, Elínborg begins her inquiry with Runólfur’s mom who offers little pertinent information. She and her team find evidence that strongly suggest Runólfur was a serial rapist with no friends except Edvard, who appears to be the deceased’s sidekick. Elínborg works the case without help from her incognito boss and while worrying about one of her three children Valthór addicted to computers.

The latest Iceland police procedural (see Hypothermia) is an engaging thriller that provides a deep look at the nation’s culture in Reykjavik and in a small remote village. The fascinating storyline is fast-paced except when the focus is on the lead cop’s family, which detracts from the case.

Harriet Klausner

Lucky Stuff-Sharon Fiffer

Lucky Stuff

Sharon Fiffer

Minotaur, Sep 18 2012, $24.99

ISBN: 9780312643034

Antiques picker Jane Wheel feels good her divorce from Charley, who is mostly in Honduras, is final; while she has mixed feelings about her son Nick going to a boarding high school that specializes in science and math. No longer needing her house in Evanston, Illinois, Jane forwards her collections to her friend Tim Lowry for storage in her hometown Kankakee, and places their home on the market. However, she is unprepared for how fast the house sells so moves back to her parents’ home in Kankakee.

Also returning to Kankakee to film a self-roast is B level comedian Lucky Miller though he stayed in town for a relatively short time. Lucky spends a lot of money to restore the businesses to what he remembers them as he fears he did something terrible here but cannot recall what he did. Adding to his belief is someone sending Lucky notes accusing him of crimes. While Lucky has sent many customers to the EZ Way Inn, owned by Jane’s parents, her mom Nellie scorns the comedian. Meanwhile a crew member is killed just after he and Lucky got into an argument. . With her mom in the middle, Jane investigates.

The latest Jane Wheel amateur sleuth (see Backstage Stuff) is an enjoyable lighthearted mystery as the heroine wonders why her mom disdains Lucky. Although the whodunit is thin, fans will enjoy Lucky Stuff as Jane “knew something like this was going to happen” when she came home.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, September 1, 2012

A Fistful of Collars-Spencer Quinn

A Fistful of Collars

Spencer Quinn

Atria, Sep 11 2012, $25.00

ISBN: 9781451665161

Valley Mayor Trimble establishes the Millennial Cultural Initiative to attract Hollywood money. Trimble succeeds in getting the producers of the next Thad Perry blockbuster action flick to use his town as the location for the shoot. He hires the Little Detective Agency to watch over Perry known for his bad boy excesses.

Little Detective Agency investigators Bernie Little and his associate Chet the canine meet Perry who challenges the human to a fight and Brando the feline who challenges the dog. As the location filming begins, murder occurs. Thus the private detectives keep a vigil on Perry and Brando while also investigating the homicides, which they wonder if the killings connect to the secret that ties Thad to the Valley.

The latest Chet and Bernie Mystery (see The Dog Who Knew Too Much) is a terrific whodunit. Chet narrates the investigation enhanced by his wry asides on his relationships with his human sidekick and his species war with Brando. Although the villain seems obvious, fans will appreciate this sleuthing partnership as Hollywood goes Valley.

Harriet Klausner