Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Wrong Hill To Die On-Donis Casey

The Wrong Hill To Die On

Donis Casey

Poisoned Pen, Nov 6 2012, $24.95

ISBN: 9781464200441

In 1916, Alafair and Shaw Tucker leave behind nine of their children under the watch of their oldest offspring in Boynton, Oklahoma. They travel to the home of Alafair’s sister Elizabeth Kemp in Tempe, Arizona so that their ten year old daughter Blanche can heal from bronchitis in the dry climate.

The morning after Elizabeth and her husband Webster hosted a party, Alafair finds the body of Mexican handyman Bernie Arruda, who performed as a mariachi singer at the gala, in an irrigation ditch with less than six inches of water. Constable Nettles leads the investigation at a time when Whites fear and rage at Mexican refugees flooding into Arizona and a movie is being on location here. Unable to resist while fearing for her sister who she fears is involved in human smuggling and whose marriage is teetering, Alafair investigates as a second homicide occurs.

The latest Alafair Tucker amateur sleuth (see Crying Blood) is an enjoyable historical mystery with a strong emphasis on social issues like racism, immigration and family ties that resonate today. Readers will appreciate the whodunit, but it is Arizona circa 1916 that makes for a strong Americana.

Harriet Klausner

A Christmas Garland-Anne Perry

A Christmas Garland

Anne Perry

Ballantine, Oct 30 2012, $18.00

ISBN: 9780345530745

In 1857, as a rebellion sweeps across India, Colonel Latimer assigns newcomer Lieutenant Victor Narraway with an unpleasant assignment. He is to defend British medical orderly Corporal John Tallis for abetting the escape of a Sikh prisoner Dhuleep Singh that led to the murder of a guard Cutter Singh and other deaths. With the recent Siege of Cawnpore on everyone’s mind and the deaths of comrades, the garrison occupants demand execution immediately.

Narraway assumes his defense of Tallis is a meaningless check the box formality as he expects his “client” to hang. However, Narraway realizes there is no physical proof or an eyewitness tying Tallis to the murders. In fact the evidence is indirect as he is the only soldier who apparently has no alibi. Though his comrades warn him to do nothing, Narroway, encouraged by a widow and her children, investigates what really happened.

The latest annual Perry Christmas treat (see A Christmas Homecoming, A Christmas Odyssey, A Christmas Promise, A Christmas Grace, and A Christmas Beginning) is a terrific Victorian era legal thriller. The background of a rebellious India enhances the tale as the protagonist begins to believe his client is innocent while almost everyone else demands a scapegoat. However, believing in the innocence is not the same as proving it as Narraway learns; yet he finds hope to have a Happy Christmas if he can prevent a travesty of justice.

Harriet Klausner

Edge of Black-J.T. Ellison

Edge of Black

J.T. Ellison

Mira, Nov 13 2012, $14.95

ISBN: 9780778313724

Following the tragic deaths of her husband and children a couple of years ago (see A Deeper Darkness), former medical examiner Dr. Samantha Owens finally left Nashville to teach forensic pathology in the fall at Georgetown. She even has a boyfriend veteran Xander Whitfield. Currently she teaches a summer class at GW when a student Brooke Wasserstom becomes very ill. With the help of students, she takes Brooke over to campus ER where Sam finds other patients with the same condition.

Wearing her M.E. cap as a consultant, Sam learns the common thread of all those ill is riding the Metro. Meanwhile three die from the unknown pathogen while the media and Homeland Security causes panic across the nation. As Sam works the case, she realizes the predator is not a terrorist, but instead a psychopath with a personal lethal agenda.

The second Samantha Owen forensic thriller is a great tale that grips the audience starting with the collapse of Brooke and never stops until the final confrontation. Fast-paced with insight into forensics theory like Locard’s Exchange Principle interwoven into the exciting storyline, fans will relish this great entry as Sam proves she is the equal of Taylor Jackson (see Where All The Dead Lie) when it comes to strong nail-biting suspense.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, October 25, 2012

A Drop of Chinese Blood-James Church

A Drop of Chinese Blood

James Church

Minotaur, Nov 13 2012, $24.99

ISBN: 9780312550639

Near the North Koran and Russian borders, Ministry of State Security chief of the Yanji Sector/Special Bureau (YS/SB) Major Bing is a legend back in Beijing headquarters as he has remained in charge for seven years when the betting line had been under a year. He knows his career is over as his success in the desolate region means he can never leave. Currently he lives with his highly regarded uncle Inspector O (see The Man with the Baltic Stare) though their relationship is an odd respectful and affectionate discord.

Beautiful Fang Mei-lin arrives at their home seeking the assistance of Inspector O. Almost immediately after she left their home, she crosses the Tumen River into North Korea. Her pleading and subsequent vanishing force a hesitant Bing, accompanied by his even more reluctant uncle, to travel to North Korea in search of a missing Chinese official.

This is a terrific Inspector O spin off series that has the brilliant sleuth working with his nephew as the pair head into the older relative’s homeland. The storyline is fast-paced with a fabulous dangerous inquiry enhanced by an exorbitant sense of deep rooted paranoia that permeates everyone in the region as even the Intel crowd know the criticality of adhering to Sergeant Shultz’s (Hogan's Heroes) survival philosophy: “I see NOTHING! I know NOTHING!”

Harriet Klausner

Deadly Deception-Marie Romero Cash

Deadly Deception

Marie Romero Cash

Camel, Nov 15 2012, $12.95

ISBN: 9781603818933

In 2001 in Santa Fe, a person screams at State Policeman Don Ilford for failing to hit the tree with his car correctly. The individual fixes the scene so that investigators believe that Don’s wife Rose died in a car accident. Ilford’s neighbor paramedic Roger Streeter arrives at the accident and notices anomalies, but is ignored. Afterward, he wonders why Don told him his wife had leukemia while she denied it and why he exaggerates his injuries. State Police Captain Jeff Whitney accepts Don’s story that he was rushing his wife to the hospital when he lost control and crashed though there is no skid marks.

In 2008, the police commissioner, under pressure from Rose’s influential family, orders Whitney to reopen the investigation, he does nothing. One year later, forensic psychologist Jemimah Hodge is assigned to look into the cold case. She asks Santa Fe County Sheriff Department Detective Rick Romero, head of the Cerillos satellite office, for help; explaining that Whitney is uncooperative. He agrees though he knows working with her will be difficult as he is attracted to her though she keeps him at a distance. He is unaware of the trauma of her Mormon roots. Whitney warns Rick to drop the inquiry, which he refuses even when someone tries to kill him and Jemimah.

The second Jemimah Hodge Santa Fe police procedural (see Shadows among the Ruins) is a superb investigative thriller that combines a strong mystery in spite of knowing the accident was murder and solid personal relationship issues (her Mormonism and his ex-con brother). Though the Fed Sandra Gorman feels forced into the plot, readers will appreciate this entertaining whodunit wondering who lectures Ilford at his wife’s death scene.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Trapped-April Christofferson


April Christofferson

Tor, Oct 30 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780765364753

Backcountry ranger Will McCarroll protects the wildlife of Yellowstone National Park from poachers, hunters and trappers. He arrives at the Pebble Creek campsite where a drunk killed his friend. Irate, Will takes away the guns from everyone at the campsite. Superintendent Gonzales wants to fire Will for breaking rules as Congress passed a law allowing the carrying of weapons into the national parks, but recognizes Will is a hero who will soon testify in front of Congress. Instead he exiles Will to Glacier National Park,

Leaving behind his girlfriend Yellowstone Magistrate Judge Annie Peacock, Will travels to Glacier, where he meets angry wolverine biologist Johnny Yellow Kidney; someone stole an olfactory concoction he created to trap animals. Meanwhile illegal trappers continue their self-proclaimed Constitution given right while political connected radio talk show personality and former governor Faith Unsword sponsors a predator derby. At the same time, the American Rifle Foundation sets a trap to kill Will before he testifies in Congress on the impact of weapons in the parks.

No one will doubt what side of the rifles in the park issue April Christofferson is on with this exciting vivid thriller. Action-packed, fans will relish traveling the wild alongside of obstinate Will (see Alpha Female) as we appreciate the beauty of Montana's "Crown of the Continent". Additionally, a great realistic coda of how politicians think happens with the placement of running the Department of the Interior someone who believes in unfettered hunting and trapping; ironically the agency’s mission statement is “Protecting America’s Great Outdoors and Powering Our Future. The U.S. Department of the Interior protects America’s natural resources and heritage, honors our cultures and tribal communities, and supplies the energy to power our future.”

Harriet Klausner

Highball Exit-Phyllis Smallman

Highball Exit

Phyllis Smallman

TouchWood Editions, Oct 30 2012, $18.95

ISBN: 9781927129791

In Jacaranda, Florida thirtyish Sherri Travis worries that the bank will foreclose her Sunset Bar and Grill as she is three months behind on her mortgage. She cannot turn to her lover Clay who has lost his fortune when the housing market imploded.

Aunt Kay tells Sherri that childhood friend Holly Mitchell committed suicide and that another buddy from the old days, police officer Danny Raines found the body but failed to identify the corpse as Hilly. She offers Sherri three months of mortgage payment if the bartender finds out what happened to Holly’s baby Angel. Sherri had no idea that Holly had a child through Aunt Kay insists she met the baby. The bartender puts down the Jack Daniels visiting Raines who had an affair with Holly that he does not want his superiors to know abour. She also learns Holly was an escort at Angel Escort Service. With Aunt Kat as her sidekick, Sherri investigates what happened to Holly in order to track down a baby no one except Aunt Kay knew exists.

The latest Sherri Travis amateur sleuth (see Margarita Nights, Sex in a Sidecar, Brewski for the Old Man and Champagne for Buzzards) is an engaging whodunit in which the heroine begins to wonder whether saving her bar is worth the investigation into an infant who might not exist. Aunt Kay’s antics add fun to the tale while the relationship with Clay seems shaky since he is on the road with his ex with him. Fans will enjoy downing a fifth while touring the West Florida beaches with Travis as our guide.

Harriet Klausner

Hook and Shoot-Jeremy Brown

Hook and Shoot

Jeremy Brown

Medallion, Oct 5 2012, $14.95

ISBN: 9781605425214

Aaron "Woodshed" Wallace expects to receive a contract offer from Warrior Incorporated President Banzai Eddie Takanori, but in spite of his recent fight inside the cage in Burbank (see Suckerpunch), none has occurred. Woodshed and his trainer Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt Gil Hobbes are frustrated as his performance warrants a contract as Eddie refuses to speak with the fighter.

Seemingly out of the blue, Eddie arrives at the gym to talk with Woodshed. He tells the warrior that he will receive a special contract that includes his bodyguard protecting him from the ruthless Japanese Yakuza mob who wants his flesh due to the results of Woodshed’s last combat. Additionally he will go into the ring against a deadly Asian champion Zombi, no one stateside heard of.

Round two continues the super action-packed noir starring a charismatic MMA fighter with anger management issues and a strong retinue in his corner. Woodshed is a fascinating warrior as he spends two weeks inside of a metaphysical cage trying to survive Eddie’s latest lethal tricks. Readers will root for Woodshed against Zombi, the Japanese mob and his worst adversary his promoter.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, October 22, 2012

Femme-Bill Pronzini


Bill Pronzini

Cemetery Dance, Nov 2012, $19.99

ISBN 9781587672675

The Unnamed Detective has been a private investigator for many years but never met a femme fatale except in fiction or the movies like The Maltese Falcon or Double Indemnity. That is until his bail bondsman friend Abe Melikian introduces Nameless to Cory Beckett, who meets the definition of femme fatale adding new curves to the “species”. Nameless muses he spent more time as a detective than the twenty-eight years old Femme Fatale has breathed.

Melikian hires Nameless to find Beckett’s younger brother Kenneth who jumped bail. Kenneth has been charged with stealing a $20,000 diamond necklace from the alcoholic wife of his employer San Francisco union leader Andrew Vorhees. Nameless begins his search for the jumper while Cory uses her wiles to influence him.

Although he remains the Unnamed Detective in this entry, he is no longer Nameless (see Hellbox). Cory makes the tale entertaining as she lives up to the opening line: “Femme Fatale. French for deadly woman” though her actions are somewhat typical of her literary and film sisters. The storyline is fast-paced as Nameless works a case in which Cory Beckett’s weapon of choice is sex.

Harriet Klausner

The Ice Maiden Cometh Not- Alistair Boyle

The Ice Maiden Cometh Not

Alistair Boyle

Allen A. Knoll, Nov 15 2012, $23.00

ISBN 9781888310092

In Southern California heart surgeon Dr. Chester Kulp hires investigator Gil Yates to look into the death of his son-in-law Sandy Straus. Arrogant Chester pays Gil $10,000 to determine whether Sandy committed suicide when he fell or jumped from a roof in Muhlenheim, Pennsylvania. Though he detests the pompous doctor as a pretentious a-hole and has a fear of flying, the money is too good to ignore so he accepts the case.

In Muhlenheim, Gil meets and is taken aback by the grieving widow and Chester’s daughter Ginger as she is drop dead gorgeous. The circumstantial evidence affirmed by the cops and a local PI point towards likable Sandy killing himself. Only Ginger and her dad insist her late spouse would never harm anyone especially himself. To prove this Gil dugs deeper into the life of the victim.

The latest Gil Yates investigation (see They Fall Hard and What Now, King Lear?) is an entertaining at time humorous middle boiled noir as the protagonist is a bull in the Muhlenheim “china shop”. The lighthearted storyline is fast-paced but thin. Still fans will enjoy Gil’s antics starting with almost soiling his pants on the plane and his amusing “Shermanesque” march through Muhlenheim society.

Harriet Klausner

Let It Sew-Elizabeth Lynn Casey

Let It Sew

Elizabeth Lynn Casey

Berkley Prime Crime, Nov 6 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780425251713

Tori Sinclair had no friends or any place to call home until she became the Sweet Briar, South Carolina librarian as the Sweet Briar Ladies Society Sewing Circle welcomed her as one of them and she now has a fiancé. The ladies grieve the recent death of one of their founding sisters Charlotte Devereaux who Tori never met as the elderly woman suffered from Alzheimer’s for several years. Adding to their dismay is that Councilman Jordon persuaded the council to let his girlfriend Maime Wellington run the town’s Christmas Decorating Committee instead of the Sewing Circle member Margaret Louise.

Tori understands that Charlotte’s husband Parker left her for another woman, her older son Brian is mentally challenged and her younger son Ethan is a greedy loser. Charlotte’s personal nurse Frieda Taylor also mourns her patient’s death. She mentions how much Charlotte enjoyed sketching and gives one depicting the library to Tori. When she and Debbie look at other sketches, Tori sees a marking on a sketch that makes her wonder if a body is buried there as Charlotte accurately drew still life. They soon learn that Parker did not leave his wife. Tori and Sewing Circle investigate who wanted Parker dead and why.

The latest Southern Sewing Circle Mysteries (see Dangerous Alterations and Reap What You Sew) is an engaging holiday amateur sleuth filled with twists and red herrings. The storyline starts slow as the heroine and readers meet the late Charlotte and the antics of the Christmas Decorating Committee. Fans will enjoy following Tori and posse make inquiries into who murdered Parker only to uncover more deadly dirt.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Cocaine Zombies-Scott. A Lerner

Cocaine Zombies

Scott. A Lerner

Camel Press, Nov 1 2012, $13.95

ISBN: 9781603819039

In Urbana, Illinois Chloe and Thomas visits Sam the lawyer. Chloe explains her companion has been charged with class X felony of selling cocaine. She says in spite of the fact he did not sell drugs; if Thomas is convicted he will spend the rest of his life behind bars due to his criminal record.

Sam wonders what the relationship is between his client and the mysterious Chloe. Still he takes on the case, but almost immediately afterward he begins suffering nightmares in which people die; only to learn when awake the stars of his dreams indeed died. Sam asks his friend Bob to help him understand why he has these deadly visions when he sleeps. They learn about a German pharmaceutical company testing a highly addictive form of cocaine developed by the Nazis but lethally enhanced by herbs and voodoo. When his client’s head is found in his refrigerator, Sam expects the cops to suspect him of the murder forcing him with Bob at his side to confront the evil turning humanity into enslaved living zombies.

This is an exciting paranormal legal investigative thriller as a drug derivative and voodoo equate to Cocaine Zombies. The cast is sold though somewhat stereotypical as Chloe is a femme fatale while Sam is that law abiding good neighbor and Bob is a knowledgeable nerd. With a fun who do voodoo spin, fans will enjoy this taut twisted tale.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, October 20, 2012

A Question of Identity:Susan Hill

A Question of Identity:

Susan Hill

Overlook, Nov 8 2012, $25.95

ISBN 9781468300505

In 2002 a Yorkshire jury found Alan Keyes not guilty of murdering three elderly women (Carrie Millicent Gage, Sara Pearce and Agnes Daphne Kavanagh) in Yorkshire. The verdict angers many people who demand vigilante justice. To keep the mob from tearing his limbs apart, Keyes is given a new identity.

In 2012, someone murders octogenarian Elinor Sanders in her home on Lafferton. The evidence points to the return of Alan Keyes as the M.O. is similar to what happened to the three victims in 2002. Police detective Simon Serrailler leads the investigation as the psychopath kills two more elderly people.

The latest Simon Serrailler police procedural (see The Betrayal of Trust) is a fabulous whodunit that is incredible when following the investigation or centering on Keyes (circa 2002 and 2012). When the storyline focuses on Simon’s affair with married Rachel it adds depth to understanding the protagonist but detracts from an otherwise great mystery.

Harriet Klausner

Skulduggery-Carolyn Hart


Carolyn Hart

Prometheus/Seventh Street, Nov 13 2012, $13.95

ISBN 9781616147068

In 1980s San Francisco Jimmy Lee asks physical anthropologist Dr. Ellen Christie to come with him to Chinatown. In a basement, Jimmy shows Ellen a strange looking skull. Stunned Ellen identifies the fossil as part of the “Peking Man” group. Two thugs arrive and accost Jimmy. He and the rare skull vanish.

Ellen and Jimmy’s brother Dan investigate where Jimmy may have found the Peking Man unaware that the skull and other bones were shipped from China in 1941 to keep put of the hands of the Japanese army. As the pair begins to unravel Jimmy’s recent activities, others seeking the precious find will kill anyone in their way.

This is a reprint of an exciting amateur sleuth mystery that superbly uses the premise of the missing Peking Man bones as the heart of this mystery. Fast-paced from the moment Jimmy shows his treasure to Ellen, readers also obtain insight into the complex people of Chinatown. Fans will enjoy Skulduggery.

Harriet Klausner

The 13: Fall-Robbie Cheuvront and Erik Reed

The 13: Fall

Robbie Cheuvront and Erik Reed

Barbour, Sep 1 2012, $12.99

ISBN: 9781616267698

In 2025, The Prophet begins sending warnings to the President of the United States that the Lord’s reckoning of judgment day is coming if the country does not return to the true faith. Concerned about national security as the messages threaten the country with terrorism but also fearing the source may be God, POTUS assigns an elite team to capture The Prophet. CIA agent Jon Keene blames God for his wife’s death, FBI computer hacker Megan Taylor is a devout Christian; and former special ops warrior Bozwell Hamilton has become a pastor.

At the same the trio searches for The Prophet, they struggle to form into a viable group as Keene ridicules the notion of Godly intervention labeling the prophet as a terrorist; while Boz somewhat embraces the concept of heavenly fire and brimstone on a modern day Sodom and Gomorrah. At the same time, a high ranking official betrays the country by enabling the Chinese to enter America allegedly to drill for oil.

The first installment of The 13 is an exhilarating fast-paced suspense thriller in which trends since 9/11 are extrapolated one decade into the future. As the lead threesome go through the phases of Tuckman's Model of Group Development especially with their debates re God, the readers will want to know whether the Prophet is the Lord’s messenger or a terrorist.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, October 19, 2012

Sugarland Melting-Sam Neace

Sugarland Melting

Sam Neace

BlackWyrm, Jul 23 2011, $11.95

ISBN: 9781613181072

In Eastern Kentucky ninety-nine years old multimillionaire RJ Rockhouse constructs Sugarland, a thirteen trailer park in the shape of a cross. He soon expands his original concept to fifty trailers. Rockhouse selects families living below the poverty line to reside in the trailers rent free.

The nearby townsfolk wonder why he used this form of philanthropy when the affluent Rockhouse could donate to causes that would help many more people. Five years ago, RJ’s beloved wife Lola died. At her funeral he apparently lost his mind. Now the townsfolk believe his latest action affirms his insanity. Instead, RJ, who believes in the magic of 100, has a plan to transfer his soul and that of Lola into the bodies of his Sugarland residents.

Sugarland Melting is an engaging thriller that keeps readers guessing whether the storyline is a necromancy horror or a psychological suspense. Once readers know the path the entertaining plot goes, the excitement ebbs. Still this is a strong character driven tale of a desperate person trying to regain paradise lost at any cost.

Harriet Klausner

The Prodigal Son-Colleen McCullough

The Prodigal Son

Colleen McCullough

Simon & Schuster, Nov 6 2012, $26.00

ISBN 9781451668759

In 1969 biochemist Dr. Millie Hunter informs her father Medical Examiner Dr. Patrick O’Donnell that someone stole tetrodotoxin blowfish extraction from their lab. John Hall traveled from Oregon to Holloman, Connecticut to claim his inheritance. At a family gala welcoming him, he dies from an injection of blowfish toxic extraction, a poison that kills almost instantly and leaves no trace. One day later the death of Professor Thomas Tarleton Tinkerman by poison occurs.

Holloman Police Captain Carmine Delmonico leads the investigation in which Millie’s husband Dr. Jim Hunter had the means and opportunities (to the victims and to the toxin) though he finds no motive. Carmine believes the husband of his second cousin is innocent. He looks at those who lost a fortune when Hall came to New England, the Chubbs University faculty members who gain with the professor’s death, and even a hate crime to destroy the black and white couple Millie and Jim. However, no one seems to have a motive that ties the murders of the scholar and the heir.

The latest Delmonico 1960s police procedural (see Naked Cruelty and Too Many Murders) is an engaging historical investigative tale. The set-up is strong as there are plenty of suspects, who may have committed one of the homicides, but none appear to have motive for multiple murders; however, the rationale once revealed seems weak at best. Still fans will enjoy this 1969 Connecticut mystery.

Harriet Klausner

Kinsmen-Bill Pronzini


Bill Pronzini

Cemetery Dance, Nov 2012, $19.99

ISBN 9781587672668

Student Allison Shay, accompanied by her boyfriend was driving from the University of Oregon to her home in the Bay area, but never made it. Allison’s frantic mom Marian hires the Nameless detective to find her daughter whose last known location is the Northern Comfort Cabins in Creekside, California; population 112 where the car broke down. Marian tells the sleuth she knows nothing about the boyfriend.

Nameless visits the cabins where he questions the proprietor Mr. Bartholomew about Allison. The owner tells the detective what he told the sheriff that he never saw the boyfriend nor when the couple left. Taking the same room that Allison occupied, Nameless, fearing the worst, questions the locals who at best are uncooperative and overtly hostile as the San Francisco detective has entered rustic hell.

This is an enjoyable reprint of a 1993 novella that focuses on an insular small population in which hate crimes are ignored by the community (think of the BSA and PSU scandals). Fast-paced with Nameless risking his life for the truth, the small-town cast never quite gels beyond the James Dickey Deliverance stereotypical cloning. Still this is a taut entry as the protagonist increasingly fears what he will have to do once he affirms his dreaded belief.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Scorched-Laura Griffin


Laura Griffin

Pocket, Oct 30 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9781451617399

On Basilan Island in the Philippines, Delphi Center forensic anthropologist Kelsey Quinn studies the human bones in a locale classified as a massacre. However, something is off and she tries to resolve what and why starting with the pacifier. When she sees the FBI investigator working with her murdered, she knows she is next so she flees into the jungle.

Navy SEAL Gage Brewer chose his job over his beloved when he dumped Kelsey several months ago. While in San Diego following an African mission, he learns his Kelsey is in lethal trouble. The special ops operative drops everything to protect his woman as a diabolical adversary refuses to allow a SEAL or an anthropologist interferes with the plan.

The latest Tracers forensic romance (see Twisted, Snapped and Untraceable) is a fantastic action-packed conspiratorial thriller. The tense storyline is fast-paced from the moment Kelsey flees for her life and never slows down as the heroine wonders whether she can trust her “protector” with her life as he may be the killer and he broke her heart.

Harriet Klausner

Dog In The Manger-Mike Resnick

Dog In The Manger

Mike Resnick

Prometheus/Seventh Street, Oct 22 2012, $15.95

ISBN: 9781616147105

Four months ago, Baroness the Weimaraner won Best in Show at Westminster. Recently, Baroness was shipped from Cincinnati to join her owner in Arizona. She never arrived at her destination. Her accompanying kennel employee and several other people were murdered.

Downtrodden Cincinnati private investigator Eli Paxton takes on the dognapping case. He knows the objective is to find and rescue the abducted canine. However, the case proves deadly as someone commits several homicides and tries killing Eli. Following clues Eli travels to Arizona, drug trafficking in Mexico and finally back home.

This is a reprint of an entertaining Eli Paxton medium boiled detective thriller. The whodunit is fast-paced as Eli becomes target practice while also providing a tender look at show dogs. In addition there is an engaging Paxton short story, "Even Butterflies Can Sting” (see Death Dines At 8:30 anthology), in which the Cincinnati slugger teams up with his new partner Marlowe the Westie on a case.

Harriet Klausner

The Cold Cold Ground-Adrian McKinty

The Cold Cold Ground

Adrian McKinty

Prometheus/Seventh Street, Oct 22 2012, $15.95

ISBN: 9781616147167

In 1981 in Belfast, a mutilated corpse is found in a busted up heap. The police assume he is another victim of the Troubles. However, some evidence surfaces that have the cops reconsidering their initial conclusion. They fear a serial killer using the Troubles as a disguise is torturing and murdering gays. Police detective Sean Duffy, a pariah as a Catholic, leads the investigation.

Duffy soon believes a woman who allegedly committed suicide by hanging may have been murdered. He also believes the IRA is involved with the killings as one of their top officers is a victim. However, his superior ridicules him while refusing to hear what Duffy believes because his boss is Protestant and he is Catholic. At the same time, the tension mounts stratospherically when IRA hunger strike prisoners begin dying in Maze Prison

Ostensibly a Northern Ireland police procedural, The Cold Cold Ground is much more as the audience obtains a close look at life in Ulster during the Troubles. Sean is terrific as a man with deep convictions residing in two worlds yet disdained by both. Fans will relish touring Belfast in 1981 with Sean as our guide.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Nightshade on Elm Street-Kate Collins

Nightshade on Elm Street

Kate Collins

Obsidian, Nov 6 2012, $7.99

ISBN 9780451238504

In New Chapel, Indiana, Bloomers Flower Shop owner Abby Knight and Down the Hatch Bar & Grill owner and private investigator Marco Salvare are marrying in a few weeks. Abby’s former fiancé wealthy Pryce Osborne II of the old Osborne money begs her and Marco to help him; as his current acceptable fiancée Melissa vanished while they hosted a weekend gathering at his beach house for the weekend.. Though she should refuse since Pryce rejected her after she failed the Osborne family Kentucky blue grass test Abby and Marco agree to investigate.

The engaged couple interview the guests, but none cooperate; in fact most hinder their inquiry into the disappearance of Melissa. However, the case turns bizarre when a guest drowns with the overwhelming evidence pointing towards Pryce having committed a homicide.

The latest pleasant Flower Shop mystery (see Night of the Living Dandelions and To Catch a Leaf) is an engaging cozy as Abby runs her shop, prepares for the wedding, and squeezes in sleuthing. She and her fiancé are likable as they are caring, concerned people who are there for their family, friends and even cruel ex’s. The investigation contains entertaining red herrings and twists as the lead sleuths apply reverse psychology to obtain information from the snoot crowd. Fans will enjoy this fun lighthearted whodunit.

Harriet Klausner

Beluga-Rick Gavin


Rick Gavin

Minotaur, Oct 30 2012, $24.99

ISBN: 9781250015228

After taking $300,000 from a crazy Acadian meth dealer, (see Ranchero), former cop Nick Reid and his partner Desmond seek a less risky investment. Ex-convict Larry “Beluga LaMonte” Carothers, brother of one of Desmond's previous girlfriends Shawnica, offers the pair a once in a lifetime lucrative investment opportunity that neither best friends can resist though the source is shaky at best.

Beluga LaMonte tells the two buddies that there is a truckload of stolen Michelin tires. Give him 30K and he will steal the load from the thieves and arrange a quick fire sale. However, what Beluga LaMonte fails to inform Reid and Desmond is that gentleman Lucas Shambrough is the kingpin of the original robbery; he takes no prisoners when he feels butt slapped. He assigns his mistress costumed schoolgirl Alice Marie Fennick AKA Mako and Isis to destroy the repo thieves. Choctaw-African-American cop Tula Raintree wants to handcuff Nick who would appreciate it in her boudoir but that is not where she intends to lock him away.

This is a zany violent Mississippi Delta crime caper starring two lunatics (who make Hackman and Ackroyd seem normal in the movie Loose Cannons) and a horde of even crazier friends who are more foes, and enemies. Fast-paced, fans who enjoy an over the top of Woodall Mountain thriller will appreciate this wild commodities war.

Harriet Klausner

The Uncommon Appeal of Clouds-Alexander McCall Smith

The Uncommon Appeal of Clouds

Alexander McCall Smith

Pantheon, Oct 23 2012, $24.95

ISBN: 9780307907332

In Edinburgh, Isabel Dalhousie lives a busy life. She edits the Review of Applied Ethics, deals with friends and family and “sorts out people's difficulties."

Affluent Duncan Munrowe asks for her help. Thieves stole his valuable Nicolas Poussin painting and offer to return it if he pays their ransom demands. He wants her to negotiate the safe return of his prized work that he plans to donate to the Scottish National Gallery. Isabel agrees to regain the renowned French artist’s masterpiece. On the personal front, Isabel the philosopher knows first-hand relationships are confusing due to The Charming (and not so charming) Quirks of Others.

The latest Isabel Dalhousie contemporary (see The Forgotten Affairs of Youth) is an engaging amusing tale that deeply looks at the ethics of people. The enjoyable painting subplot is the prime entry. However Isabel’s math prodigy toddler Charlie, her caring lover Jamie, her dedicated but anger management not housekeeper Grace, her toxic niece Cat (at the restaurant), and Cat’s employee Eddie affirm that human interactivity is a contact sport with no rules.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, October 15, 2012

Bargain Hunting-Rhonda Pollero

Bargain Hunting

Rhonda Pollero

Gallery, Oct 30 2012, $15.00

ISBN: 9781416590828

Finley Anderson a paralegal at Dane, Lieberman and Zarnowski in West Palm Beach, Florida is attracted to her boss lawyer Tony Caprelli and the firm’s private investigator Liam McGarrity though neither excite her as much as being a fashionista shopping for bargain priced designers. She especially wants to do it with Liam, but sh*t happens every time they begin.

Late at night Liam arrives at Finley's house with a gunshot. She agrees to hide him while he gets his wound cared for. He tells her he left the police department when the brass made him the fall guy for the shooting death of a teen in a drug bust; that same weapon was used kill his former partner; which makes Liam the suspect. As Finley, Loam and Tony investigate, someone threatens to kill the paralegal if she does not back down.

This is an enjoyable whodunit as series fans learn what happened to Liam while the trio works the case. Tony's teenage daughter, Liam's ex-wife, and Finley's mother add humorous complications to the triangle relationship. As Finley uses her fashionista skills to determine who lives tropospheric above their take home pay, fans will enjoy her latest F.A.T amateur sleuth (see Slightly Irregular, Fat Chance, Knick Off and Knock `Em Dead).

Harriet Klausner

Power Play-Patrick Robinson

Power Play

Patrick Robinson

Vanguard, Oct 30 2012, $25.99

ISBN: 9781593157319

In 2018, the world remains a dangerous place as Israel destroyed the Iranian underground nuclear weapons facility and America devastated a North Korean nuclear facility. Septuagenarian Russian president Nikita Markova wants a return to the glory days of Stalin’s Soviet Union. He needs to punish the Americans for their affront to his allies without the retaliatory attack.

Markova approves a nuclear attack on the headquarters of the National Security Agency in Fort Meade, Maryland while disabling the American “nuclear football” response. Naval Commander Mackenzie “Mack” Bedford and his SEAL Team 10 must sink the Russian freighter carrying the nuclear missiles before it reaches Central American.

The latest Mack Bedford thriller (see The Delta Solution and Diamondhead) is an action-packed tale as time is running out to prevent the disaster. The storyline is at its exciting best when the focus is on the countdown to an anticipated confrontation at sea. On the other hand pontificate interpretation of real events (for instance, the alleged British equivalent of the 47%) detracts from an otherwise entertaining thriller.

Harriet Klausner

A Small Hill To Die On-Elizabeth J. Duncan

A Small Hill To Die On

Elizabeth J. Duncan

Minotaur, Oct 30 2012, $24.99

ISBN: 9781250008244

The Nailz chain of nail bars and tanning salons owner Mai Grimstead opens up a new spa in Llanelen, Wales. She and her family move into Ty Brith Hall. Asian Mai informs her competitors Penny Brannigan and Victoria Hopkirk, owners of Llanelen Spa, of her grand opening as a courtesy.

While Victoria is away, Penny notices that Mai seems to be making much more money than her yet has many fewer customers. On a wintry stroll, Penny finds the corpse of a teenager whose snakeskin manicure she recognizes. Though her boyfriend Detective Chief Inspector Gareth Davies tells her not to get involved, Penny investigates the homicide.,

The latest Penny Brannigan Welsh cozy (see A Killer's Christmas in Wales) is an engaging mystery though the Canadian expatriate protagonist’s reason for investigating is weak and improbable. Still the storyline is fun especially the reaction of the townsfolk to the Vietnamese family residing in their town as Penny knows first-hand as she is a somewhat accepted outsider.

Harriet Klausner

The Bone Bed-Patricia Cornwell

The Bone Bed

Patricia Cornwell

Putnam, Oct 16 2012, $28.95

ISBN: 9780399157561

In the Wapiti Bone Bed in the Peace Region of Alberta, paleontologist Emma Shubert vanishes. The only evidence of the fortyish woman disappearing is an email sent to Chief Medical Examiner Kay Scarpetta at the Cambridge Forensic Center in which the victim’s ear is severed. Scarpetta assumes someone taunts her while the University of Alberta bone digger is probably dead.

She is also overworked as she testifies in the Channing Lott murder trial and identifies mummified remains found in Boston Harbor before the decay sets in; delaying her is safely removing endangered species leatherback turtle. Finally her niece Lucy Farinelli, her FBI forensic psychologist husband Benton Wesley and her top investigator, Pete Marino have their own issues.

This is an exciting Scarpetta forensic thriller (see Red Mist) with much of the opening chapters devoted to what is happening to the heroine and her inner circle. The storyline accelerates with the thrills stratospheric in the latter half as the cases tie together though improbable. Fans will appreciate this exhilarating tale as Scarpetta works a dangerous inquiry against a diabolical murderer while feeling she is on her own.

Harriet Klausner

The Sacred Impostor-J. R. Lankford

The Sacred Impostor

J. R. Lankford

Great Reads Books, Oct 22 2012, $16.95

PO Box 2112, Bellaire, TX 77402

ISBN: 9780971869455

In New York geneticist Felix Rossi stole two threads with DNA from the Shroud of Turin in order to create a Jesus clone. He selected his Harlem maid Maggie Johnson as Mary (see The Jesus Thief). However, some people find Maggie’s now ten year old son Jess a devilish abomination and kill him (see The Secret Madonna). Still mourning for her son, Maggie is pregnant and will soon marry the father she hates Sam Duffy.

Ex butler Luis Tepiltzin Moctezuma inherited a lot of money that does not ease the grief for family members dying while crossing the border and anger for the Americans who let them die. He plans to use his wealth on his “Reconquista” plot to take back the land America stole from Mexico. As such, he hires ex-hooker Coral Anders to kidnap Maggie’s baby as a key element in his scheme.

The third part Maggie Johnson thriller is a deep tale that provides a fresh look at the illegal immigration issue from a Mexican perspective. The cast is solid as Maggie questions her faith, Sam lives more completely in his past, and Luis thirsts for vengeance with the destruction of America. Thus it behooves the audience to read the previous novels to learn how key players got to their current emotional state. The Sacred Impostor is a strong saga as the lead trio and Coral seemingly have lost their faith.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Weapon of Choice-Patricia Gussin

Weapon of Choice

Patricia Gussin

Oceanview, Nov 6 2012, $25.95

ISBN 9781608090518

In 1985, Tampa City Hospital accepts its first HIV/AIDS patient Matthew Mercer. There is limited knowledge about the disease so thoracic surgeon Dr. Laura Nelson struggles with providing her patient with the best treatment.

At the same time that Dr. Nelson works her first HIV/AIDS case, ex-Keystone Pharma infectious disease researcher Victor Worth learns that he is Matthew’s father and that the pharmaceutical firm where he previously worked rejected testing a drug that might save his son’s life. Irate Victor decides to experiment on Tampa City Hospital patients while CDC researcher Charles Scarlett, working for the Order white supremacist group, deploys flesh-eating bacteria on HIV/AIDS sufferers.

The third Dr. Laura Nelson medical thriller (see Shadow of Death and Twisted Justice) is an exciting tale that showcases the early awareness of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The exciting storyline contains too many subplots (including several involving the heroine’s personal life as a single mom), but with a strong climax. Fans will enjoy the heroine’s examination of the shocking facts.

Harriet Klausner

Make Believe-Ed Ifkovic

Make Believe

Ed Ifkovic

Poisoned Pen, Nov 6 2012, $24.95

ISBN 9781464200823

In 1951, Pulitzer Prize winning author Edna Ferber is in Hollywood to attend the premiere of the movie Show Boat, which is based on the Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II 1927 musical adaptation of her 1926 novel. Though the film tracks back to her work, Edna is in Southern California for an entirely different motive. Vile Senator Joseph McCarthy has blacklisted her friend Max Jeffries so Edna is in town as a show of support to the beleaguered musical arranger.

Less than a week after she arrives in Hollywood, someone shoots and kills Max. The police suspect Frank Sinatra who had a public brawl with Max witnessed by Louella Parsons who wrote about it in her gossip column. Though she knows Sinatra has been behaving strangely, Edna doubts he killed Max. She decides to find a real motive that she assumes will lead to the real killer.

The third Edna Ferber amateur sleuth (see Lone Star and Escape Artist) is an endearing historical whodunit with much of the fun involved meeting a who’s who of Hollywood (Ava Gardner and Sinatra, etc.) and Broadway (for instance George S. Kaufman the playwright). Fast-paced, readers will ignore the heroine’s shaky motive to investigate as we "Can't Help Lovin' Dat …” Edna Ferber.

Harriet Klausner

Death in the 12th House: Where Neptune Rules-Mitchell Scott Lewis

Death in the 12th House: Where Neptune Rules

Mitchell Scott Lewis

Poisoned Pen, Nov 6 2012, $24.95

ISBN 9781464200601

In a building undergoing renovation in Manhattan, sexagenarian rock and roll great Freddie Finger of Rocket Fire was found hanging from a pipe with three bullets in his body. Freddie’s daughter Vivian Younger the actress pressures NYPD to bring Starlight Detective Agency chief David Lowell, known nationally for the Winston Case (see Murder in the 11th House), into her dad’s investigation.

NYPD Lieutenant Roland explains to Lowell that Finger is the third ancient rocker recently murdered; Gene Hallow and Wally Fischer preceding him as victims. Using astrological charts to guide him, Lowell looks into the background of the late rocker only to find a horde of people with motives as the dead singer was mean spirited to women (especially ex-wives and groupies) and the band during his heyday as the alcoholic lead singer. With his team of Sarah the hacker, Mort the psychic and Andy the bodyguard, Lowell continues his inquiry using charts of those with a motive to reduce the pool.

The second Starlight Detective Agency Mystery is an engaging cozy starring a likable hero and a strong specialized support crew. The whodunit is fun to follow as Lowell uses astrological charts to eliminate the number of potential killers. Readers will enjoy his exploits as he seeks who caused a Death in the 12th House.

Harriet Klausner

No Regrets, No Remorse:-R.F. Sharp

No Regrets, No Remorse:

R.F. Sharp

Poisoned Pen, Nov 6 2012, $24.95

ISBN 9781464200434

Palm Beach, Florida sleazy attorney “Big Jack” Burdine dies in a boat explosion; a passerby also perished in the incident. The police arrest lawyer Roy Flagler, who allegedly was having an affair with the victim’s wife Lucy. Roy calls his ex-law partner Oscar Leopold to defend him. At the jail, Roy explains that Jack’s fuel line was cut and the cops claim he has means, motive and opportunity especially after a public fight between them. Finally he says he and Lucy have been seeing each other on a personal basis as well as on a wrongful death suit.

Oscar asks his former lover (and roommate), Sydney Simone to help him with the defense. Sydney hides from Oscar that she runs Human Pest Control, which lives up it its name as an exterminator of two legged rodents. In fact she just completed a job in Michigan. The case turns convoluted when Roy is implicated in a vast insurance scam that has Oscar under investigation too.

This is a fast-paced thriller with legal and kick butt action. With her different morality (sort of mindful of Beth Riesgraf’s Parker in Leverage) Sydney steals the show as she takes no prisoners in her secret endeavor and in protecting Oscar the wuss. Though none of the cast is likable, fans will enjoy No Regrets, No Remorse due to the anti-heroine whose attitude brings freshness to the genre.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Guilty Wives-James Patterson and David Ellis

Guilty Wives

James Patterson and David Ellis

Grand Central, Sep 18 2012, $14.99

ISBN: 9781455506668

Notoriously known internationally as the “Monte Carlo Mistresses”, the four best friends wonder what happened as they linger in a French prison. Georgetown literature professor Abbie Elliot, U.S. Olympic skier Serena Schofield, British diva Winnie Brookes and South African beauty Bryah Gordon came to Monte Carlo to stay at a luxurious hotel. After enjoying their first day, they awaken on a yacht surrounded by French police.

The “Guilty Moms” are confused with what occurred. They are unaware that their husbands watched their every move in Monte Carlo; nor that Devo, who was with Abbie is also with Winnie; and finally he was the president of France until someone shot him and his bodyguard is dead. Thus they linger in prison bewildered as each knows they never killed anyone in spite of the court finding. The quartet believes to prove their innocence; they must first escape this hellhole.

This is a fun over the top of the Eifel Tower thriller. The French courtroom is enlightening as to how it differs from that of America and the plight of the four females in prison among some hard asses. This engages the audience to root for them. Although the husbands are one dimensional and the villain(s) somewhat obvious, readers will enjoy this fast-paced suspense.

Harriet Klausner

People of the Black Sun-Kathleen O’Neal Gear and W. Michael Gear

People of the Black Sun

Kathleen O’Neal Gear and W. Michael Gear

Tor, Oct 16 2012, $25.99

ISBN: 9780765326959

Once known as Odion the warrior, Dekanawida the Peacemaker has become the esteemed “The Sky Messenger” prophet with a vision of uniting the five nations in the Great Law of Peace. Based on a frightening vision, Dekanawida fears that if the five tribes do not unite in peace, their way of life will end. As his prophecies become true, four of the fighting tribes agree to adhere to his Great Law of Peace.

However, the People of the Mountain led by vicious Chief Atotarho reject The Sky Messenger message with open hostility. They continue to raid the other tribes. Dekanawida believes time is running out as all must join the League or all will die. As the People of the Mountain prepare to annihilate his Standing Stone People, Dekanawida makes one last desperate plea but not to Atotarho; instead to the sky and his feral tribesmen.

This is a great finish to the epic People of the Longhouse (see The Broken Land) saga as team Gear enthusiastically combines an exhilarating thriller with a deep look at Pre-Columbus Iroquoia. Leisurely-paced, the storyline provides plenty of insight into the era, strong characters especially the prophet, his orator and Atotarho, and vivid battle scenes. Fans will enjoy visiting the Lands of the People of the Longhouse circa 1400.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Busman's Honeymoon-Dorothy L. Sayers

Busman's Honeymoon

Dorothy L. Sayers

Harper, Oct 16 2012, $14.99

ISBN: 9780062196576

Lord Peter Wimsey has finally worn down notorious mystery writer Harriet Vane with his zillionth proposal. They marry and plan to honeymoon on an estate he just bought that she remembered from her childhood.

After a difficult greeting at their new home, they begin to settle in until Mr. McBride arrives asking the newlyweds if they saw his missing Uncle, Mr. Noakes who sold the estate to Lord Peter. Bunter the butler soon finds Mr. Noakes with his head bashed in lying in the cellar; no blood by the wound with six hundred pounds on him. Lord Peter knows he will not enjoy his romantic interlude until the murder is solved.

The fourth Lord Peter Wimsey Mystery with Harriet Vane (see Gaudy Night, Have His Carcase and Strong Poison) is an enjoyable period piece in which the interrelationships between the classes supersede the whodunit. Filled with wry social commentary and witty bantering, fans will enjoy this engaging Depression Era detective tale as Lord Peter investigates the homicide so he can get back to his Busman's Honeymoon.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, October 8, 2012

Stolen-Shiloh Walker


Shiloh Walker

Ballantine, Oct 30 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780345531902

Shay Morgan survived a brutal childhood that turned her into a recluse. She moved to Earth’s End, Alaska to be as far away from her tormentor and becomes a hermitic writer who uses electrons when she has to reach someone. To even her shock, she had a boyfriend, village bookstore owner Elliot Winter, but he ended it a month ago when she refused to tell him her darkest secrets.

Shay becomes the victim of identity theft as someone using her name has done book signings, stared a blog and Facebook page. That individual fired Shay’s agent and accuses Elliot of rape. Having seen his military career destroyed by false accusations, Elliot will not allow déjà vu to occur again if he can end the lies. He believes Shay when she says she did not accuse him, but she hesitates to tell him about her nightmarish childhood although she knows they must team up to end the insidious assault.

This is an exciting psychological romantic suspense starring two flawed individuals; each carrying the weight of the past on their respective souls as neither is very trusting. The identity theft is brilliantly achieved as few know what the recluse looks like as she does everything remotely. Shiloh Walker provides a taut thriller that will have fans reconsidering on line activity requiring personal information.

Harriet Klausner

A Not So Model Home-David James

A Not So Model Home

David James

Kensington, Oct 30 2012, $23.00

ISBN 9780758206329

Palm Springs, California Amanda Thorne knows the housing market is murder due to the bubble burst, but had not known how literally true that proved when she had her first listing as an independent realtor (see Three Bedrooms, Two Baths, One Very Dead Corpse). With sales nonexistent, Amanda is elated with the opportunity to sell multimillionaire Ian Forbes’s mansion.

Allegedly dying from cancer, the hair-care guru Ian arranges for a reality show on the Q network to be held at his mansion. Ian will choose from contestants, of whom some he has had affairs with, as his heir. The rivals prove nasty towards each other and mutually ridicule Amanda. When someone murders two of the contestants, the survivors are gleeful as their chances of winning improve. Amanda assists her boyfriend homicide detective Ken Becker on the investigation while her ex-husband gay Alex assists her.

The second Amanda Thorne mystery is an amusing whodunit in which the realty TV supersedes the sleuthing. The storyline focuses more on the ridicule and insults thrown back and forth as grenades between the players than on the inquiry. Still fans will enjoy this humorous lampooning of realty TV as Amanda showcase once again A Not So Model Home.

Harriet Klausner

Eleven Pipers Piping-C.C. Benison

Eleven Pipers Piping

C.C. Benison

Delacorte, Oct 30 2012, $24.00

ISBN 9780385344463

Reverend Tom “Father” Christmas, accompanied by his tweener daughter Miranda, became vicar of St. Nicholas Church in Thornford Regis. Though only residing at the village for a few months, the Christmas pair finds life calming after dealing with the homicidal death of his wife/her mom. This sense of serenity remains strong even though Father Christmas investigated a murder (see Twelve Drummers Drumming).

Cricket coach of a team of teens, Will Moir publically explodes at player Harrison Kaif during practice. Almost immediately following the rage, the humiliated fourteen year old Harrison commits suicide. Soon after the teen’s death, someone poisons Moir. The police suspect Harrison’s family killed his tormentor. Meanwhile Father Christmas tries to comfort those grieving while also slyly investigating the murder.

The second “Father” Christmas is an enjoyable English village amateur sleuth starting a unique single dad-widower who collects data in an atypical empathic way as he chats with the villagers. Readers will relish the protagonist’s investigative technique, which provides insight into the psyche of the residents inside of a fabulous cozy.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Gideon’s Call-Peter Leavell

Gideon’s Call

Peter Leavell

Worthy Publishing, Oct 23 2012, $14.99

ISBN: 9781617951176

On a South Carolina barrier island, white Collin persuades his black friend Tad they can get away with stealing a pie though the latter being a slave is fearful of being caught thieving. When Spencer the watch catches them, Collin betrays Tad. The slave is whipped severely, has his cherished necklace ripped from his neck, and salt water thrown on his open cuts. Everything changes when the Northern army arrives forcing the plantation owners to flee and liberating thousands of slaves in a few hours. However, the freedmen own nothing except a dismal future. Tad trusts no one, which northern whites affirm by their readiness to use the new freemen for their causes while offering nothing except platitudes in return. Over the objection of his beloved Peg, he joins the 54th Massachusetts at Fort Wagner while hoping that one day he leads his people to the Promised Land that President Lincoln proclaimed.

This is a powerful coming of age Civil War era thriller that uses real events and people to paint a grim yet hopeful picture of the aftermath of slavery on the de jure south and the de facto north. Historical figures like Lincoln, Pierce and Johnson add depth to this strong realistic epic overcoming the Forest Gump syndrome. This is Tad’s tale as he faces his fears and overcomes his experienced-based distrust to mature into a leader.

Harriet Klausner

Gaudy Night: A Lord Peter Wimsey Mystery with Harriet Vane-Dorothy L. Sayers

Gaudy Night: A Lord Peter Wimsey Mystery with Harriet Vane

Dorothy L. Sayers

Harper, Oct 16 2012, $14.99

ISBN: 9780062196538

Mystery writer Harriet Vane returns to Oxford’s Shrewsbury College for a class reunion knowing her recent trial for murder makes her infamous. Since her acquittal Harriet says no to her persistent hero Lord Peter Wimsey while feeling somewhat abashed that her dirty laundry was revealed in court but as she did even in jail and at the trial she still refuses to bow down to the nasty gossips.

However, someone has a different opinion about Harriet. She receives ugly letters calling her a “dirty murderess;” each one harsher than the previous. Fearing for her life, she asks her champion Lord Peter for help as she knows a stalker walking the hallow walls of Oxford plans to execute her.

The third Lord Peter Wimsey Mystery with Harriet Vane (see Have His Carcase and Strong Poison) is an engaging historical mystery that focuses on the beginning of the Depression and the bantering relationship between the protagonists more than the super whodunit. The support cast is excellent as they bring circa 1930s academia to life while making a strong case for women’s rights as the female professors have less standing than male freshmen. Fast-paced, fans will enjoy the engaging Gaudy Night.

Harriet Klausner

Every Breath You Take-M. K. Gilroy

Every Breath You Take

M. K. Gilroy

Worthy Publishing, Oct 23, 2012, $14.99

ISBN: 9781617950681

In Chicago, hedonistic trust fund abuser Jack Durham is murdered. Durham was known for drinking and high class escorts. However his affluent billionaire father, throwing his influence at the politicians and media, demands his son’s killer brought to justice.

CPD assigns Detective Kristen Conner to work the highly visible homicide case as she is a beautiful woman who could enter Durham’s inner circle and besides received accolades for solving a serial killer case (see Cuts Like a Knife). She finds it ironic as her love life is with FBI hunk Austin Teeters. Thus she goes undercover as an escort to the 1% only to find they spend money to spin the truth, but must find time to coach her niece’s soccer team the Snowflakes.

The latest Conner police procedural is a terrific undercover investigative thriller starring an engaging cop who balances at times poorly her profession with personal demands including from her protective smothering family. The whodunit is top rate filled with twists as the ultra-rich have special means to alter the truth. Every Breath You Take is a fabulous urban mystery.

Harriet Klausner

Aztec Revenge-Gary Jennings and Junius Podrug

Aztec Revenge

Gary Jennings and Junius Podrug

Forge, Oct 16 2012, $25.99

ISBN: 9780765317049

In 1569 in the Valley of Mexico, New Spain Don Juan de Zavala the Lépero sits in his cell reflecting on what he could have done differently to avoid being caught for horse-thieving. However, he concludes nothing as the horse thieves occupation guarantees a hanging no matter how good they are at their profession.

Still Juan reflects back on his life starting as a street urchin begging and stealing. As he got older, Juan became a skilled horseman and an adept thief. However, Juan became the fall guy in an accidental death, so he fled before he was executed; joining “banditos.” From there Juan masqueraded as a wealthy visiting Spaniard before confronting the Inquisitors and heading to Spain as Napoleon takes his war into the Iberian Peninsula. However, Juan de Zavala has a secret that has seemingly everyone from the crown to rebels led by Father Hidalgo needing him dead.

The latest Aztec historical thriller (see Aztec Rage) is an intriguing tale that is told mostly by Juan reflecting on his life. The insightful storyline contains an incredible amount of history, but at times lacks focus and turns tedious as the background information overwhelms the plot. Still fans of the series will enjoy the latest entry as Don Juan de Zavala lived a fascinating sixteenth century life.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Frozen Heat-Richard Castle

Frozen Heat

Richard Castle

Hyperion, Sep 11 2012, $26.99

ISBN: 9781401324445

Following a "chesticle" workout with her friend Pulitzer Prize journalist Jameson Rook, NYPD Homicide Detective Nikki Heat takes the train to ta murder scene. A frozen food delivery person found a suitcase inside the truck’s freezer. The bomb squad inspected the mysterious suitcase, which contained the corpse of a Jane Doe stabbed to death.

Heat, with Rook’s help, investigates the homicide. However, the detective is taken aback as they find clues to the present day murder with ties to the killing of Heat’s mother Cynthia ten years ago. Knowing she might finally obtain closure ion the cold case that not only made her a cop but enabled her to individualize each victim as a person, they head to Paris to question a close friend of Cynthia.

The forth enjoyable Nikki Heat police procedural (see Heat Rises) continues the engaging metafiction investigative thriller in which TV character Richard Castle writes the novels. The whodunit is deftly handled though some of Heat’s actions are inane and hateful though we fans can rationalize her idiocy as her emotional reaction to her mom’s frozen case heating up. Still readers will appreciate the latest caper of Heat and Rook.

Harriet Klausner

Crisis Of Faith-Eliza Wood

Crisis Of Faith

Eliza Wood

Pomegranate Free Press, Oct 19 2012, $24.95

ISBN: 9781938341014

In Manhattan, the terrorists attack the proposed site of a mosque. In the name of God, their deadly assault leaves several women and babies dead. Like many tolerant people, the President is horrified by the latest domestic terrorism caused by fundamentalist Christians at a time when the country and the world face plenty of crises. Disgusted, POTUS establishes a task force to look deep into the bone marrow of those behind the deadly attacks in the name of God.

Though each member of the task force like Lisette Collier knows they are targets from nut cases from all the religions, they diligently investigate the root causes of genocide in the name of God. The team finds many instances of violent heavenly wrath in the bible especially the Old Testament but also Revelations with its genocidal Armageddon. Many instances in history of ethic and religious cleansing are highlighted. They begin to challenge the Words of the Christian Bible and other religious canon.

Crisis Of Faith is a deep look at religion from the viewpoint of kill thy neighbor if he or she worships differently. The fascinating storyline is inundated with facts that stun the audience. Eliza Wood makes a powerful argument that religion is a prime cause of hate. Many of those who denounce Shia Laws demand Judeo-Christian Laws enacted and proclaim the American equivalent of Fatah against their opponents. The information on genocide is frightening as Ms. Wood provides an exciting fact-based frightening thriller that paints God and religions in a terrible violent light; paraphrasing H. Rap Brown; violence is as religious as Cherry Pie.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Come Easy - Go Easy / In A Vain Shadow-James Hadley Chase

Come Easy - Go Easy / In A Vain Shadow

James Hadley Chase

Stark House, Apr 30 2012, $19.95

ISBN: 9781933586380

“Come Easy - Go Easy.” Lawrnece Safes Copration Chet Carson answers the service call from affluent Henry Cooper at the Ashley Arms. Seeing the money inside he decides to steal the loot. It goes wrong for him and his partner Roy Tracey. Chet is sent to Farnsworth but soon escapes. He makes it to the Point of No Return filling station and snack bar owned by elderly Carl Jenson. The owner’s wife Lola recognizes Chet and demands he breaks open her spouse’s safe or she will get the cops.

“In A Vain Shadow.” In London Henry Sarek has received threatening letters so he hires Frank Mitchell as his bodyguard. At the office Mitchell meets Sarek’s secretary big boned Emmie Pearl and moving into his employer’s home Henry’s sultry wife Rita. When the Sarek couple head to Paris without him, Mitchell searches the house as he believes his employer traffics in illegal diamonds. Instead he finds photos of Rita with a nightclub act partner in Cairo. Mitchell knows the partner is behind the threats so the bodyguard writes a threatening letter to see what occurs. Sarek wants to flee England while Rita wants the diamonds so she orders Mitchell to kill her husband if he wants her and the gems.

These are reprints of two taut throwback thrillers written over five decades ago share a similar premise of bad to the bone protagonists remain wicked while making up two thirds of a fascinating triangle. With nods to the movie Double Indemnity, fans will appreciate these exciting tense crime tales.

Harriet Klausner

Bear Bait-Pamela Beason

Bear Bait

Pamela Beason

Berkley Prime Crime, Oct 2 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780425251652

Summer “Sam” Westin works as a temporary wildlife biologist for the National parks Service at Olympia national Park near Forks, Washington. She loves her work as she relocated Raider the bear and wishes she could get something permanent. Currently she has fire watch duty near Marmot Lake since the regular ranger is on leave. This particular night the thirteen year old daughter of Ranger Joe Choi, Lili, is with her.

Sam hears an explosion and using binoculars sees a fire. She calls it in and with Lilli nearby rushes to the scene to create a fire line. After she and others put out the blaze and she suffers an injury, they find the barely alive body of Trail Crew Lisa Glass. FBI Agent Chase Perez arrives as he pursues robbers and looks forward to time with Sam with whom he once collaborated on a case in Utah (see Endangered). Though already receiving a warning for disobeying rules by rushing to the fire with a civilian, Sam breaks more as she investigates the fire.

The second entertaining Summer Westin wildlife mystery is a wonderful outdoors amateur sleuth though this time the heroine has no reason to investigate. Still her exciting inquiry leads readers on a guided tour of the national park near the site of Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight saga. With a nod to Nevada Barr’s Anna Pigeon, readers will enjoy Sam’s latest back to nature caper.

Harriet Klausner

Deadly Patterns-Melissa Bourbon

Deadly Patterns

Melissa Bourbon

Obsidian, Oct 2 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780451238245

In Bliss, Texas, Buttons and Bows dressmaker Harlow Jane Cassidy runs the fashion show for the annual Winter Wonderland Festival. She meets with other committee members at the historical Denison Mansion site of the gala. The mansion is undergoing renovations led by Arnie Barnett and his former brother-in-law Dan Lee Chisholm who will wear the Santa costume for the event. Arnie’s wife Hattie hates Dan Lee for deserting her sister and newborn. The house’s widow walk railing is loose and due to a comedy of errors Harlow Jane is pushed over the edge. She is injured by the fall but next to her lies Dan Lee in full Santa garb dead.

After Harlow Jane stops at the hospital, Sheriff Hoss McClaine and Deputy Gavin McClaine question her as she seems to land near too many corpses. Encouraged by the ghost of her late great-grandmother Meemaw, Will Flores, and the rest of the Texas posse, Harlow Jane searches for the killer who forced her to make a new Santa costume to replace the blood stained one Dan Lee wore.

The latest Magical Dressmaker's Mystery (see Pleating for Mercy) is an engaging amusing paranormal amateur sleuth. The lighthearted fun storyline does have a similar feel to the previous whodunit A Fitting End as the heroine seeks a killer in plain sight yet hidden behind respectability.

Harriet Klausner

So West: Desert Justice-Sisters in Crime Desert Sleuths Chapter Members

So West: Desert Justice

Sisters in Crime Desert Sleuths Chapter Members

DS Publishing, Jul 21 2012, $14.95

ISBN: 9780982877425

So West: Desert Justice contains twenty exciting crime capers that highlight the Southwest. In “Lucky Me” by Shannon Baker, Tom takes his wife Julie hiking the Grand Canyon and rafting the Colorado River in order to kill her so he can claim their then million dollar lottery winnings; he just forgot to read her résumé. Mara fears she suffers from Huntington Disease like her father did as she forgets things while her spouse Kenny has an affair in which the woman wants him to get rid of his wife (see “Totaled Recall” by Susan Badavari). Near Kartchner Caverns, the three friends since foster care have found another cavern that the pushy Ringo wants to develop into a tourist attraction; Morris and “Gee-Lee” plan to let him be sole owner, but he has similar ideas in Deborah J. Ledford’s twisting “Cave-in.” Ruthie sees “Dust to Dust” (by R K Olson) everywhere; so much so it hides the murdered corpse of elderly Mrs. Solomon. In 1928, female architectural students Frankie and Nora are at the construction site of the Arizona Biltmore wanting to meet the master Frank Lloyd Wright but are unprepared for “Death by Design” (by Judy Starbuck). In “A Season For Death” by Judith Starkston, retiree Jim cares for his Alzheimer’s- suffering wife Lizzie who wants to die rather than live like this. This is a thrilling anthology as the Desert Sleuths Sisters in Crime once again combine twisting suspense with strong protagonists (even with no stories over fifteen pages) set in a diverse but vivid Southwest.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, October 1, 2012

The Paris Deadline-Max Byrd

The Paris Deadline

Max Byrd

Turner, Oct 16 2012. $27.95

ISBN: 9781618580122

In 1926, Chicago Tribune foreign correspondent Toby Keats is stationed in Paris though being in France serves as a reminder of serving as a tunneler corps underground bomber in what only idiots in the home front called the misnamed “Great War”. With the murder of septuagenarian automate dealer Patrice Bassot, Toby gains possession of the eighteenth-century notorious Vaucanson's digesting duck automaton that even Voltaire admired.

However holding on to Vaucanson's duck even one that may be a Houdini fake proves difficult as many people covet the automaton. A banker and Elsie Short of the Thomas Edison Doll Company want to buy it. Meanwhile war traffickers also desire owning the gizmo because these profiteers believe they can duplicate the inner mechanisms of Vaucanson's duck to produce weapons for Germany.

The Paris Deadline deftly uses the real “digesting Duck” as created by automata inventor Jacque de Vaucanson as the underlying cause for this entertaining historical suspense thriller. The support cast including the duck is solid while the hero keeps the tale focused. Fast-paced, fans will enjoy Max Byrd’s exhilarating ode to Paris between the wars.

Harriet Klausner

The Snow White Christmas Cookie-David Handler

The Snow White Christmas Cookie

David Handler

Minotaur, Oct 16 2012, $26.99

ISBN: 9781250004543

Two back to back blizzards have buried much of Connecticut in snow with no relief in sight as a third snowstorm is coming. Although affluent Dorset looks like a Norman Rockwell painting, the storekeepers are concerned as annually this is their best retail season, but no one is out shopping. However, someone is making the rounds as expensive Ugg boots are taken, and mail-order drug prescription packages and holiday tips left for mail carriers are being stolen from the mailboxes. Making matters worse are two apparent suicides; as Bryce leaves a note while taking an overdose and mail carrier Hank dies from carbon monoxide poisoning after tying a hose to his car's tailpipe.

Connecticut State trooper Desiree Mitry investigates as do an alphabet horde of law enforcement types from the USPS, FBI and DEA. They forge a task force that makes the Keystone Cops look competent. With her lover film critic Mitch Berger assisting her, Des ties Josie Cantro the life coach to both suicide victims. However complicating matters for Des is Mitch goes missing.

The latest Berger and Mitry Mystery (see The Blood Red Indian Summer) is a wonderful though overly complicated whodunit as the snow has everyone going stir crazy except for a few criminals. Berger’s wry commentary on movies as always are fun while his Hanukkah bush décor reminds me of my spouse’s “Hanukkah bush.” Fans of the series will enjoy The Snow White Christmas Cookie.

Harriet Klausner

Sacrifice Fly-Tim O’Mara

Sacrifice Fly

Tim O’Mara

Minotaur, Oct 16 2012, $24.99

ISBN: 9781250008985

Former Brooklyn cop Raymond Donne left the force five years ago due to a leg injury that still bothers him. Since leaving NYPD, Raymond became a middle schoolteacher. Currently he is very concerned about fourteen year old student Frankie “Lefty” Rivas, a baseball team pitcher who has failed to come to school in almost two weeks.

Thus he heads to Clemente Plaza in Williamsburg where Frankie and his younger sister Milagros live with their grandmother Matilda Santos. He fails to see any of them as no one answers his knock on their apartment door. Instead Raymond finds the corpse of the father of the two siblings Francisco while the kids are missing. NYPD Detective Royce gives the murder and missing children case little attention so Ray investigates hoping to find Frankie and Milagros safe; not expecting to place his family in jeopardy and he kidnapped.

Conflicted Ray (to be a cop or not be a cop that is his question) brings freshness to the storyline as he diligently works the mean streets of Brooklyn and the dangerous roads of Upstate New York in an effort to rescue the children. The storyline is fast-paced and filled with action while containing a cast of mostly Brooklyn eccentric shtick. However this is Ray’s investigation as he takes a bruising but keeps on cruising.

Harriet Klausner