Friday, November 30, 2012

Merciless-Lori Armstrong


Lori Armstrong

Touchstone, Jan 8 2013, $15.00

ISBN 9781451625363

Former Army sniper Mercy Gunderson recently became an FBI special agent. Mercy struggles to adjust to the boring training in Rapid City for new law enforcement officials and as a civilian with her love-in ranch boyfriend Eagle River County Sheriff Mason Dawson and being legally recognized as a Minneconjou Sioux tribesman due to her one-fourth blood but not accepted as a member. Adding to her chaos is his tweener son Lex who was exiled to live with them.

Mercy and her partner Shay Turnbull investigate the murder of teenage Arlette Shooting Star, the Eagle River Reservation tribal president’s niece. She was found naked with a staked protruding in her heart. When she challenges tribal leaders and FBI superior officers, Mercy is exiled to researching tribal archives; where she finds cold case evidence of a probable serial killer. Unbeknownst to her, this psychopath targets Mercy as the next vicimt.

The third Mercy Gunderson investigative thriller is a strong entry as the protagonist, used to making her own rules on a case (see Mercy Kill and No Mercy), finds she is hampered by bureaucratic officialdom. The storyline is fast-paced and filled with action as the audience anticipates a showdown between a predatory maniac and a diligent law enforcement operative.

Harriet Klausner

Vampire Defense-James D. Bell

Vampire Defense

James D. Bell

Sartoris Literary Group, Nov 9 2012, $14.95

ISBN: 9780985885212

In Jackson, Mississippi lawyer John Brooks works ethically and diligently providing the best legal advice to his clients. The court administrator appoints Brooks with his first media-frenzy case; defending Hal “the Butcher of Belhaven” Boyd who is charged with arson and four counts of murder. Boyd tells Brooks his reason for living ended when he killed the creature who destroyed his fiancé; and now he just wants to die.

As the international press comes to Mississippi for the Boyd trial, Brooks files a guilty by reason of insanity plea; as his client claims he killed a vampire. The media and the legal world have a field day ridiculing the “Vampire Defense”while heaping scorn on the dedicated attorney and his staff. Soon threats to drop the case arrive followed by assaults, arson and abductions.

The Vampire Defense is a terrific over the top of Woodall Mountain “paranormal” legal thriller that enthralls the audience with wondering whether the undead live. Fast-paced, fans will widen their definition of good and evil with obsessed individuals willing to do anything to further their agenda. With a double helix climax, fans who appreciate something different will want to read the legal defense of an avenging vampire slayer and cultists seeking their brand of revenge; caught in the crosshairs is Brooks and his team.

Harriet Klausner

The Start of Everything-Emily Winslow

The Start of Everything

Emily Winslow

Delacorte, Jan 8 2013, $26.00

ISBN: 9780385342902

Just outside Cambridge, the decomposed corpse of a female teen comes ashore in the marshes. Recently promoted Police DI Chloe Frohmann and her just off medical leave partner DCI Morris Keene investigate the case. Chloe feels added pressure from other cops for failing to provide back-up to Morris when he was injured during an interview and her superior wants her to report whether Keene is ready for active duty.

At the same time as the two cops struggle to learn who their victim is, the daughter of Cambridge University Mathematics Professor Tobias Oliver, Mathilde, has made it her mission to locate campus people whose mail is undeliverable. She currently searches for a student Katja; unaware of the mess she steps into. Soon all converge on Deeping House.

Emily Winslow’s second Cambridge University police procedural (see The Whole World) is an exciting thriller that rotates perspective between the key players in the past and present. That methodology enhances the reader’s insight into the motives of the cast but also leaves the storyline somewhat disjointed. Still this is a suspenseful tale as the audience will want to know what transpired at Deeping House over the holidays.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Grain of Truth-Zygmunt Miloszewski

Grain of Truth

Zygmunt Miloszewski

Bitter Lemon, Jan 8 2013, $14.99

ISBN: 9781908524027

In 2009 former Warsaw Prosecutor Teodor Szacki knows his unfulfilling affair with reporter Monica Grzelka destroyed his marriage, and left him alone without family in exile in Sandomierz, a provincial city that shuts down at 6 PM. However, he became a local celebrity when he solved the case of a murdered Ukrainian prostitute that led to him breaking up a human-trafficking ring.

An unknown psychopath viciously slashes numerous times the throat of Elzbieta Budnik before dumping her nude body for all passersby to see in a ravine below the city’s medieval walls. Szacki leads the homicide investigation in which the exorbitant number of cuts and draining of the blood imply a crime of ritual passion. Szacki learns a knife used by Jewish butchers is the murder weapon, which has the prosecutor wondering if a religious sacrifice occurred. Additional similar murders occur including Budnik’s spouse and Szacki feels pressure to end the serial ritual killings.

The second Polish State Prosecutor Szacki case (see Entanglement) is a great murder mystery that hooks the audience from start to finish as the whodunit takes center stage but cleverly enhanced by a close look at Szacko’s middle age despair. The terrific storyline contains ties to anti-Semitism dating back to WWII, but leaves the reader pondering until the super climax whether it is a Jew enacting vengeance or a non-Jew using a convenient scapegoat.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Fatal Friends, Deadly Neighbors: Ann Rule's Crime Files Volume 16

Fatal Friends, Deadly Neighbors: Ann Rule's Crime Files Volume 16

Ann Rule

Pocket, Nov 27 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9781451648287

In 2009 a blizzard hammers West Valley, City, Utah. During the storm, Susan Powell vanished. Her husband Josh said he assumed she ran off with another man leaving him with their two pre-school sons. Susan’s parents and three sisters insisted this was out of character for her as she always wanted a family. In 2011, a second tragedy strikes the Powell family.

In 2011 at the Spreckels Mansion in Coronado, California, billionaire owner Jonah Shacknai’s son Maxfield falls from a balcony; he is placed in a medical induced coma. Jonah’s girlfriend Rebecca is found hung to death.

These two taut novella-length true crime entries and the seven other shorts affirm that the author still rules the genre. The sixteenth Crime Files lives up to its title of beware of “Fatal Friends, Deadly Neighbors.”

Harriet Klausner

The Cezanne Chase-Thomas Swan

The Cezanne Chase

Thomas Swan

Morrow, Nov 27 2012, $14.99

ISBN: 9781557049674

In St. Petersburg’s Hermitage Museum, someone mutilates Paul Cezanne’s Self-Portrait in a Beret. In London’s National Gallery, someone tosses acid on Paul Cezanne’s Self-Portrait without a Beret. Scotland Yard's Art and Antiques Detective Chief Inspector Jack Oxby investigates the destruction of the Cezanne in the National Gallery only to learn that another work by the great artist owned by private collector Alan Pinkster was destroyed by acid too. This time the director of the Pinkster Gallery in Surry Clarence Boggs died from the toxin used to destroy the third Cezanne.

Shocked like everyone in the art world except perhaps one nefarious patron by the international destruction of the Cezanne masterpieces, affluent New Yorker Edwin Llewellyn worries about the safety of the Cezanne self-portrait he owns. Astrid Haraldsen introduces herself to Llewellyn as the opening gambit for her and her associate Peder Aukrust to destroy Llewellyn’s Cezanne as the original 26 known self-portraits methodically are being destroyed.

This reprint of the first Oxby art mystery is an action-packed globetrotting thriller that will keep readers enthralled from start to finish even as the engaging storyline becomes obvious. Filled with suspense, Thomas Swan paints an intriguing mystery inside of the capitalist world of art.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Blood Gospel-James Rollins and Rebecca Cantrell

The Blood Gospel

James Rollins and Rebecca Cantrell

Morrow, Jan 8 2013, $27.99

ISBN: 9780061991042

In Caesarea, archaeologist Dr. Erin Granger and her team find evidence of a tomb containing hundreds of dead babies buried two millennia ago. She thinks they may have found King Herod’s “Massacre of the Innocents.” In Masada, an earthquake kills hundreds including the parents of Tommy, a child taking chemo due to melanoma; he survives and miraculously his cancer is cured.

Erin, U.S. Army Sergeant Jordan Stone and Father Ruhn Korza explore a tomb concealed for centuries until the earthquake. They find the crucified body of a child who died just over a decade ago. While still inside the tomb, the trio fights for their lives when inhuman beings attack them. Father Ruhn believes the answers can be found in the mystical missing tome allegedly scribed by Christ in his blood. The threesome begins a trek to obtain this holiest of holy books by Christ in order to bring divine sanctification to a secret Vatican order the Sanguines exposed by Rembrandt but ignored by all until now.

The first exciting Order Sanguines Christian horror thriller grips the audience from the moment the tomb in Mount Masada is discovered and keeps that hold until the final sacrament occurs. Readers will enjoy traveling to Germany, Russia and ultimately the Vatican with the protagonists as our guides through a Church with a history of good and bad. Although the storyline is straightforward, The Blood Gospel is a super ride.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, November 26, 2012

Unnatural Habits-Kerry Greenwood

Unnatural Habits

Kerry Greenwood

Poisoned Pen, Jan 1 2013, $24.95

ISBN: 9781464201233

In Melbourne, the Honorable Phryne Fisher and Dr. Elizabeth MacMillan head to the Adventuresses Club when they observe three thugs about to attack a lone female. Phryne gives them a warning they ignore so three Chinese working for her lover Lin Chung beat the hooligans up.

The target is reporter Margaret “Polly” Kettle. She explains that she is investigating a story on three pregnant girls allegedly vanishing from a nursing home after working at the Abbotsford Convent’s Magdalen Laundry. Furthermore the journalist says she told the cops who ignored her plea. She begs Phryne to help, but soon afterward Polly disappears. Phryne makes inquiries finding shocking inhuman conditions.

The latest Phryne Fisher Australian 1920s mystery (see Dead Man’s Chest) is a powerful thriller that uses the real Magdalen Laundry as the base for an investigation into despicable greed ignored or conspiratorially concealed by authorities due to influence peddling. The insightful storyline will shake readers with the premise that the brothels house their female supply in much nicer conditions than the convent’s laundry room filled with pregnant unwed girls as the former is needed in top condition while the latter is being punished for their sins. Readers will appreciate Phryne’s trek into the darkest side of post WWI Melbourne.

Harriet Klausner

The Llama of Death-Betty Webb

The Llama of Death

Betty Webb

Poisoned Pen, Jan 1 2013, $24.95

ISBN: 9781464200663

In Central California, Aster Edwina Gunn assigns her employees Gunn Zoo Zookeeper Theodora “Teddy” Bentley and Alejandro the llama to provide rides for children at the Gunn Landing Renaissance Faire. Neither Teddy nor Alejandro is ecstatic over this demeaning assignment though it is the llama doing the spitting.

At the pen enclosing Alejandro’s rides, someone murders mail order minister Victor Emerson who played the role of Henry VIII at the Faire. Deputy Elvin Dade initially considers arresting the llama until it is pointed out that Alejandro would have had a hard time shooting the arrow into the head of Emerson. Instead he arrests serial wife Caroline Petersen (her surname for now) as the killer; her motive involves two of her myriad of weddings ministered by the late Rev. Teddy knows her mom Caroline, who was performing as Anne Boleyn at the Faire, is not the culprit so she investigates; while her father surprisingly arrives from Costa Rican exile with plans to break out his ex-wife from jail; that is when he is not befriending Aster.

The latest Gunn Zoo amateur sleuth (see The Anteater of Death and The Koala of Death) is an engaging amusing cozy starring a zookeeper, a llama, a dysfunctional family, an incompetent cop and a killer. Fast-paced with interesting insight into zoos and animals wrapped inside of Teddy’s inquiry, fans will enjoy this fun cozy.

Harriet Klausner

Blessed Are Those Who Thirst-Anne Holt; Anne Bruce (translator)

Blessed Are Those Who Thirst

Anne Holt; Anne Bruce (translator)

Scribner, Dec 18 2012, $15.00

ISBN 9781451634785

Oslo Detective Inspector Hanne Wilhelmsen hides her relationship with her live-in lover Cecilie from the brass to the consternation of her significant other. At the same time she leads a homicide investigation in which every Saturday night eight digits written in blood on walls in rooms soaked in blood but with no corpses appear in various places in the city.

She and police attorney Håkon Sand struggle to figure out what the numbers represent and whether a serial killer is on a killing spree in Oslo. That is until Sand concludes the numbers are the formal government database assigned to individual foreign immigrants. The pair realizes all are females and missing and to get the numbers implies government insider. Wilhelmsen also works a serial rape case unaware that a victim Kristine and her father have plans to avenge the violent assault.

The latest Wilhelmsen Norwegian police procedural (see 1222 and The Blind Goddess) is a strong investigative thriller that focuses on the resentment towards immigrants. Both cases are strong especially the anti-immigration fervor while the protagonist’s personal life is rocky. Readers will appreciate this deep Norwegian Noir.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Killer Crust-Chris Cavender

Killer Crust

Chris Cavender

Kensington, Dec 24 2012, $24.00

ISBN: 9780758271525

In Timber Ridge, North Carolina, the Laughing Luigi frozen pizza dough distributer offers a $25,000 prize to the winner of a pizza bake-off. Owners of A Slice of Delight Pizza Parlor, Eleanor Swift and Maddy Spencer, distrust Luigi, but the contest seems genuine; so the sisters enter.

However, the siblings quickly change their mind as unscrupulous Luigi apparently fixed the contest. Soon after that, Luigi is found dead with A Slice of Delight pizza stuffed in his mouth. Police chief Kevin Hurley, Eleanor and Maddy investigate who poisoned the pizza as the late Luigi made many enemies.

The latest Pizza Lovers Mystery (see Rest in Pizza) is a delightful whodunit as there are plenty of people with strong motives to kill the odious Luigi. Opportunity may seem as if the siblings had the best chance as their slice is the murder weapon, but the audience quickly realizes others had access. Fans will enjoy this entry as the sisters once again find themselves dealing with A Pizza To Die For.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Aftershock-Jill Sorenson


Jill Sorenson

Harlequin HQN, Dec 18 2012, $7.99

ISBN 9780373777327

In San Diego, paramedics Lauren and Joe respond to an emergency call. However, an earthquake measured at 8.5 on the Richter scale wracks the city. Joe dies and Lauren is buried in a gigantic hole with highway debris including cars above her and thus trapping her inside.

Lauren searches for other trapped survivors and soon meets Iraq war veteran Garrett. With his help, they rescue a pregnant teen, an elderly man and his granddaughter. Three dangerous criminals also survive. Lauren and Garrett set up an emergency operation, but the felons demand the food, water, and medicine.

With a nod to the World Series earthquake and the Stallone movie Daylight, Aftershock is a great thriller that grips readers from the moment the tremor occurs until the final confrontation. The key to the strong storyline is that the romance between the lead couple is palatable but takes a back seat to the survival theme. Readers will appreciate Jill Sorenson’s superb tense romantic suspense as the thriller subplot comes across as genuine leaving readers feeling trapped alongside Lauren and Joe under the freeway.

Harriet Klausner

The Right Hand-Derek Haas

The Right Hand

Derek Haas

Mulholland/Little Brown, Nov 13 2012, $25.99

ISBN: 9780316198462

CIA leadership recognizes that field operative Austin “Right Hand” Clay is one of their best assets though no one would admit this revelation as he handles the most covert dirty jobs in which the government denies involvement. In other words he is the ultimate in the cold agent who the left hand spy agencies deny knowing what The Right Hand is doing; as his section consists of Clay and his handler of three years Andrew Stedding.

His current assignment is to bring in missing Blake Nelson, dead or alive. Nelson who works in Moscow has failed to make contact in five days and the brass fear he may have turned greedy. Clay quickly learns Hungarian Marika Csontos has become a target for elimination by enemies who need to insure she remains silent as she accidently has uncovered top Russian secrets including a traitor selling America out for decades and an assassin targeting inside the organization.

The Right Hand is an exhilarating espionage thriller starring a hero who does the dirty jobs outside the law. Early on Clay’s black ops outside the law persona is set when he confronts Beto who has Intel connections. Filled with incredible action, fans will enjoy The Right Hand as he goes after traitors and enemy operatives with no regard to his safety or the law.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, November 16, 2012

Orders from Berlin-Simon Tolkien

Orders from Berlin

Simon Tolkien

Minotaur, Dec 11 2012, $25.99

ISBN 9780312632144

In 1940 Gestapo Chief Reinhard Heydrich has planted a mole inside British MI6. Meanwhile in London, someone shoves former MI6 Chief Albert Morrison over a banister outside his apartment. His horrified daughter Ava watches her dad plunge to his death, but cannot identify the killer due to the darkened streets.

Scotland Yard Detective Chief Inspector John Quaid almost immediately decides Ava’s husband Bertie killed his father-in-law. Quaid’s employee Detective William Trave believes the case is much more than a family matter as he believes the deceased’s previous occupation is involved with his death; especially after he found a strange note in Albert’s pocket and that the MI6 Deputy Chief Alec Thorn visited him earlier on that fatal day. Trave theorizes that the county’s ex spymaster was silenced before he could expose a traitor.

The third terrific Trave historical police procedural actually occurs almost two decades before the previous two investigations (see The Inheritance and The King of Diamonds). Filled with action and taut suspense, readers will believe they are in London during the Nazi air blitz as the raids impact the case. Orders From Berlin is a strong whodunit wrapped inside a powerful espionage thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Extra Credit-Maggie Barbieri

Extra Credit

Maggie Barbieri

Minotaur, Dec 11 2012, $24.99
ISBN: 9781250001887

In Westchester County, New York, NYPD Detective Bobby Crawford and his ex-wife Christine celebra te their twin daughters’ nineteenth birthday. Family attending the bash is Bobby’s wife Professor Alison Bergeron and Christine’s husband and his four children. Christine’s brother Uncle Chick, who no one has seen or heard from in years, makes a surprise visit. He gives $5,000 each to the twins.

After the shock wears off, Bobby and Christine agree to return the loot to Uncle Chick. Bobby and Alison visit Chick only to find him near death. The police arrive and find $250,000 inside the mattress. The cops conclude suicide, but Christine believes someone murdered her sibling. While her friends (Max, Fred and ex-priest Kevin) warn Alison to not investigate, they assist her when she does.

The latest Murder 101 amateur sleuth (see Physical Education, Third Degree, Final Exam and Quick Study) is an engaging extended family affair that reflects the complex relationships. The cast is solid in support of the heroine who feels out of her element hosting a teen bash but in her element detecting; while explaining to Max and fans why she obsessively must investigate. Readers will enjoy this entertaining whodunit

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Silver Cross-B. Kent Anderson

Silver Cross

B. Kent Anderson

Forge, Nov 27 2012, $25.99

ISBN: 9780765328625

In October 1864, Southern spy Rose Greenhow possesses a letter in which French Emperor Napoleon III informs Confederate President Jefferson Davis that he supports their noble cause and will provide aid in exchange for the “Silver Cross.” However, Greenhow drowns off the North Carolina coast near the mouth of the Cape Fear River while trying to deliver the message.

In the present, Federal Research and Investigations Office Deputy Director Meg Tolman finds out that her friend Dana Cable accidentally died while walking on a seawall below Kure Beach near the mouth of the Cape Fear River. At the funeral, a stranger gives Tolman the Napoleon III note that Greenhow was toting and soon believes her cellist friend from Pennsylvania was murdered. Tolman and History Professor Nick Journey team up again (see Cold Glory) in search of the Silver Cross in West Texas even while the Associates pursue them and rogue assassin Ann Gray will kill anyone who stands in her way of obtaining the relic.

The second Tolman-Journey thriller is an exciting tale that deftly merges a strange death over a century and a half ago with a strange death in the present. Fast-paced and filled with action (including acts of terrorism), readers will enjoy this taut storyline with a strong cast especially the protagonists.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Shiver-Karen Robards


Karen Robards

Gallery, Dec 4 2012, $25.00

ISBN: 9781451678673

In St. Louis, twentyish single mom of four year old Tyler, Samantha Jones attends EMT certification classes while working nights repossessing cars. She arrives to tow away a BMW only to find critically battered and shot Danny Panterro in the trunk.

Danny is an undercover FBI agent, who was outed when the drug cartel he had infiltrated blew up the safe house he was hiding in. That explosion confuses Danny as it seems wrong for drug lord Veith to blow up the townhouse before collecting the missing money. Sam saved his life, but he knows she and her son are now in peril as vicious drug runners pursue them with one objective, three deaths.

Shiver is an action-packed romantic suspense thriller that starts off with an incredible opening scene and never slows down as nothing is quite like it seems. Fast-paced and starring two intrepid protagonists, readers will enjoy Shiver as the bad guys keep the lethal pressure on the good guys.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Doctor of Thessaly-Anne Zouroudi

The Doctor of Thessaly

Anne Zouroudi

Reagan Arthur Books/Little Brown, Dec 4 2012, $24.99

ISBN: 9780316217873

In Morfi, Greece, French Dr. Louis Chabrol and local Chrissa Kalgi were engaged. However, he jilts Chrissa on their wedding day. Heartbroken she heads to the beach to weep. Meanwhile Louis struggles with the pain caused by acid tossed into his face. His eyes are blinded and part of his visage scarred as Adonis Anapodos brings him water to cool his face.

Athens investigator Hermes “Fat Man” Diaktoros arrives in Morfi. He asks questions re the incident but no one talks about what happened to the doctor. Even more puzzling is Chabrol prefers the matter dropped. Ignoring the desires of the injured doctor and others, Diaktoros continues to probe.

The latest Seven Deadly Sins Greek mystery (see A Touch of Midas and The Messenger of Athens) is an exciting investigative thriller that focuses on envy. Leisurely-paced, readers will want to know why the doctor chooses to let the brutal assault go unpunished, who did the attack and why.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Sanctity of Hate-Priscilla Royal

The Sanctity of Hate

Priscilla Royal

Poisoned Pen, Dec 4 2012, $24.95

ISBN 9781464200205

In 1276 village newcomer Kenelm is found dead in a millpond. Brother Thomas determines that the murder is of a Christian hired to escort and protect Jews and it occurred on the grounds of the Tyndal Priory.

Prioress Eleanor and Crowner Ralf agree to investigate the homicide together. The villagers universally disliked the deceased, but refuse to allow any of them to be accused. Instead they blame a displaced family of three Jews forced to relocate under King Edward’s 1275 Statue of the Jewry. The trio stopped in Tyndal due to the wife’s pregnancy. The townsfolk explain to the investigators that Kenelm and Jacob ben Asser the Jew publically argued and therefore he and his kind killed the Christian. Crowner Ralf disagrees due to the injuries on the deceased makes it doubtful that the Jew assaulted the victim.

The latest Thomas and Eleanor medieval mystery (see Killing Season, Chambers of Death and Valley of Dry Bones) is a super historical that may be the long running series best. The key to this strong saga is “A Season of Hate” decreed and deployed by King Edward who has no further use of the Jewish financial support of him. This anti-Semitic background weaves brilliantly with a strong whodunit in which the villagers including residents of the priory prefer a scapegoat rather than the truth.

Harriet Klausner

Jail Coach-Hillary Bell Locke

Jail Coach

Hillary Bell Locke

Poisoned Pen, Dec 4 2012, $24.95

ISBN 9781464200267

New Paradigm Studio’s Performing Artist took out a multi-million dollar insurance policy with Trans/Oxana insurance on Hollywood A level actor Kent Trowbridge after their star banged up his Ferrari while the cops busted him for DUI. Trans/Oxana assigns “loss prevention specialist” Jay Davidovich to protect the firm from paying millions by keeping the bad boy out of trouble while he serves time.

Jay knows how difficult this task will prove; as besides jail time for the DUI, Trowbridge also faces assault charges. He hires ex-marine Katrina Starr Thompson (and her toddler) as a jail coach to mentor Trowbridge on surviving prison. However, Jay also must keep his client safe as Trowbridge goes on a final publicity tour; Stan Chaladian has other plans for the farewell appearance.

The first Jay Davidovich loss prevention assignment is an amusing action-packed thriller starring a combat veteran who will do what it takes to complete the assignment. Trowbridge is a delightful pampered counterpart to the hero while Katrina and Chaladian add depth to the exciting opening act as readers will take over and under bets on how much time the actor spends behind bars.

Harriet Klausner

A Killer In The Rye-Delia Rosen

A Killer In The Rye

Delia Rosen

Kensington Dec 4 2012

ISBN: 9780758241726

Following her divorce, Gwen Katz left New York having inherited her late Uncle Murray's Jewish deli, the Pastrami Swami in Nashville, Tennessee. She takes over running the deli with the needed help of “Mother Hen” Thomasina and earns a rep as the Nashville Katz.

Gwen panics when she runs out of bakery fresh rye bread as what is a deli without rye especially when the “Best Medium-Range Restaurant of Nashville” competition is about to begin. She pleads and pounds Brenda Silvio of “McCoy’s Bakery” to provide her with a special delivery. Brenda’s husband Joe delivers the rush order, but Gwen finds him dead inside his vehicle. Due to her rye bread public shouting match over the phone with Brenda, Nash is a person of interest. To the chagrin of her maybe boyfriend NPD Detective Grant Daniels, Nash investigates as pictures of the murder are placed on Facebook and the Nashville National.

This engaging kibitzer Katz kosher Deadly Deli amateur sleuth stars a heroine who feels like a “Damn Yankee” as she is embroiled in another homicide mystery (see One Foot in the Gravy) somewhat similar in tone to A Brisket, A Casket; as the reps of her and the deli are on the line. The storyline is fast-paced and filled with quirky characters especially at the Pastrami Swami. Fans will enjoy Gwen’s inquiry as murder is once again on the menu.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Pandora’s Temple-Jon Land

Pandora’s Temple

Jon Land

Open Road, Nov 20 2012, $16.99

ISBN 9781453224632

Blaine McCracken leads a team on a search and rescue mission of four kidnapped Americans from a Mexican druglord. Soon after McCracken successfully extracts the students leaving behind a lot of dead gangsters in their in Juarez encampment, his friend Paul Basmajian leads the drilling of the deepest well ever, the Deepwater Venture oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico. However, he and his top assistant George Arnold feel something is wrong and try to shut down the drill just before the looming disaster occurs. They fail and all hell breaks loose.

McCracken learns Paul is missing and the hundred person crew is either dead or near dead. He leads an inquiry at the damaged site where he concludes that oil was not the product sought. Instead the firm tried to corral unstable dark energy; the failure leaves the world in danger with the only salvation being a temple that may not exist.

The latest McCracken thriller (see Dead Simple) is a fun save the world from a manmade environmental disaster starring a team of heroes mindful of Doc Savage and his team of taunting teasers in the face of deadly danger. However, the three enemy groups (a Japanese cult, an energy magnum and a giant squid) come across as underdeveloped unneeded caricatures as the true adversary is preventing dark matter from taking over the planet.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Unbridled Greed-Barry Johnson

Unbridled Greed

Barry Johnson

Rocochi Ridge Publishing, Oct 11 2012, $14.99

ISBN: 9780986024603

In Chicago, FBI Agent Nina Moretti goes undercover as patient Alice Rizzo trying to obtain hardcore information that Dr. Hugh Patterson is committing medical insurance fraud. She succeeds to the delight of Justice Department investigator Bryan Hampton and Sideral Healthcare SIU investigator Ted Kucharski. Bryan makes his case to the US Attorney for the Chicago District Albert Tacovic who agrees to a raid in two days. Al turns to his sister, family friendly Judge Markowski, and Patterson’s lawyer to get the doctor off the hook with no ties back to him; while also blackmailing a donation for his congressional run from the physician.

With help from anti-medical fraud combatant Da Silva, an irate Hampton obtains a position working for his former college roommate the US Attorney for the Nevada District Paul Dixon. Hampton learns his new boss has personal reasons to fight medical insurance fraud. As they work together alongside of BeatMedicalFraud operative Gayle Baker, danger mounts while Hampton is attracted to Dixon’s assistant single mom Charlie Cruz.

Unbridled Greed is a fast-paced medical thriller in which Barry Johnson shines a vivid light on health care insurance fraud. Fast-paced throughout even with explanations for instance on threshold monetary figures triggering investigations (small amounts are ignored as the cost of prosecution exceeds the fraudulent claims). Although black and white as the good guys are ethical Diogenes’ candidates and the bad guys are Darth Vader protégé, readers will relish this powerful look at the impact of a multi-billion dollar medical insurance fraud industry.

Harriet Klausner

A Death in the Small Hours-Charles Finch

A Death in the Small Hours

Charles Finch

Minotaur, Nov 13 2012, $24.99

ISBN: 9781250011602

In 1874 Charles Lenox is in Parliament, but misses his days as a private detection investigator though his former apprentice John Dallington allows him some precarious thrills by consulting with him. A new dad, Charles is excited that he will provide the opening remarks of the next parliamentary session.

While he prepares for the honor; Charles, his wife Jane, their baby Sophie and Miss Taylor the nursemaid visit his beloved Uncle Frederick Ponsonby in Plumbley. Dallington joins them as he lays low after a recent scandalous intoxication. He learns someone vandalizes the small Somerset village. This unknown individual has drawn a picture of a man hanging on the doors of two merchants and the Roman number XXII on the door of the church. When a teenage constable is stabbed to death and Uncle Freddie abducted, Charles investigates wondering if the vandal is now a murderer and kidnapper.

The latest Charles Lenox Victorian whodunit (see A Burial at Sea and A Stranger in Mayfair) is a terrific historical village mystery. Lenox is at his best with this case as he feels a reprieve from his Parliament duties with a chance to dabble in his preferred vocation of detecting. His obsession turns desperate when his uncle is snatched while his family round out a strong late nineteenth century investigative thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Killer Librarian-Mary Lou Kirwin

Killer Librarian

Mary Lou Kirwin

Pocket, Nov 27 2012, $7.99

ISBN 9781451684643

In Minnesota, Sunshine Valley librarian Karen Nash and her boyfriend Dave the plumber plan to travel to England, a place she has visited many times in books. Hours before they are to leave, Dave flushes his relationship down the toilet and cancels the trip. Though she is disappointed and hurt by “Mr. Toad,” Karen decides to go anyway on her magical mystery tour especially after seeing Dave accompanied by a blonde board the same jet she flies. Ironically in spite of the close quarters on the transatlantic flight, the cuddling pair fails to notice Karen while she turns to novels for creative ways to murder Dave.

In London at a pub near the B&B where she is staying and run by bibliophile Caldwell Perkins, Karen and a stranger drink and chat. She mentions her rage towards Mr. Toad saying she wants him dead. The next day a guest at the B&B is found dead. Soon afterward, Karen’s inner librarian begins to notice evidence that point to a killer targeting Dave and his new squeeze.

This is a terrific cozy starring a Killer Librarian who uses her skills to investigate. The literary references from English authors enhance the engaging amateur sleuth storyline as no one, not even a killer or a politician, messes with the librarian.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, November 5, 2012

The Prince-Tiffany Reisz

The Prince

Tiffany Reisz

Mira, Nov 20 2012, $13.95

ISBN: 9780778314103

A reporter forced dominatrix Nora Sutherlin into hiding. Her owner Søren sends Nora from New York to Kentucky to stay out of unwanted publicity. At the same time that Nora goes into exile, Kingsley Edge replaces her with Søren, a place she has been at on and off for years.

In Bluegrass Country, Nora reunites with thoroughbred king Wes Railey in his realm rather than her turf. Meanwhile Søren and Kingsley search for the predator threatening to expose their kinky lifestyle.

The third Original Sinners BDSM tale (see The Siren and The Angel) is an engaging drama that contains two interesting subplots. First Nora seems on the cusp of choosing between two different hunks though one she can never have one completely and the other only partially satiates her kinky needs. Second Kingsley and Søren hunt the stalker. Fans of the series will enjoy the latest erotic adventures in New York and in Kentucky where Wes’ lower head affirms why he is The Prince.

Harriet Klausner

Cat Bearing Gifts-Shirley Rousseau Murphy

Cat Bearing Gifts

Shirley Rousseau Murphy

Morrow, Nov 20 2012, $19.99

ISBN: 9780061806940

On a mountain road near Molena Point, California, violent Vic Amson’s pickup is wrecked in a multi–vehicle accident. Not one to sit around, Vic and his injured partner Birely Miller steal Pedric and Lucinda Greenlaw’s Lincoln Town Car. They take the “abandoned” vehicle so that they can return to their search for bank robbery money taken by Birely’s grandpa and hidden by her sister Samantha though the property now belongs to Emmylou Warren. The Greenlaw couple is in the hospital having been injured by a landslide just before losing their car.

Vic and Birely soon find the stolen vehicle contains priceless antiques and plenty of jewels. Clyde and Ryan Damen help sneak the Greenlaw companion Kit into the hospital to see Pedric and Lucinda. Afterward the feline and some pals like Joe Grey protect their two legged friends while investigating the theft and subsequently murder.

The key to this entry and for that matter the Joe Grey series (see Cat Telling Tales and Cat Coming Home) is that readers will believe in the feline anthropomorphist behavior especially sleuthing and watching over their two legged pets. The investigation is top rate and the human sitting well done as Kit (and others) works the case while Dulcie works the computers.

Harriet Klausner

Fox Tracks-Rita Mae Brown

Fox Tracks

Rita Mae Brown

Ballantine, Nov 20 2012, $26.00

ISBN: 9780345532978

Septuagenarian Master of the Jefferson Hunt Club in Virginia “Sister” Jane Arnold is staying at Manhattan’s posh Pierre while attending the Masters Ball. She and college student Anne “Tootie” Harris walk in the snow to a nearby Fifth Avenue tobacco shop where the proprietor Aldolfo Galdos sells Sister a special WWI lighter. The two visitors return to the hotel only Sister forgot her cell phone so go back to the shop. In the few minutes between their stops, someone put a bullet between the eyes of Aldofo. The victim had an Amercian Smokes cigarette pack on him.

An eerily similar murder occurs in Boston. Sister begins to think the murders tie back to tobacco farms, but unsure how. When she mentions her feelings, she becomes a target too. At the same time Sister’s enemy Crawford Howard deploys a scheme to devastate the Jefferson Hunt Club. In both cases, Sister and her four legged posse refuse to go away quietly.

The latest Sister Jane amateur sleuth (see Hounded to Death) is an enjoyable whodunit that provides a spotlight on the sport of the hounds and the foxes. The storyline starts passive as readers meet the players while obtaining a deep look into what motivates the passionate two legged players and the various friendly and hostile rivalries between groups and participants. Series fans will enjoy Sister’s sleuthing.

Harriet Klausner

Hot Stuff-Don Bruns

Hot Stuff

Don Bruns

Oceanview Nov 16 2012, $25.95

ISBN 9781608090617

The difference between the amateur and the pro is the pro gets paid even when they lack experience as is the case with Miami’s Moore or Less Investigations PIs Skip Moore and James Lessor. Besides being sleuthing tyros, the pair acts more like teens on the prowl of a good time than investigators on a case.

When someone murders L’Elfe sous chef Amanda Wright, her friend Emily Minard wants the culprit caught as a way to pay back a debt to her late buddy. She asks her boyfriend Skip to make inquiries and persuades the French restaurant’s chef Jean Bouvier to hire Moore or Less to go undercover in order to determine who on the staff has a motive. Possessing a culinary arts degree, James replaces Amanda as the sous chef while Skip possessing two hands replaces AWOL dishwasher Juan Castro. Police Detective Ted Conway warns the bungling pair to stay out of his way.

The latest Stuff investigation (see Too Much Stuff) is an amusing murder mystery as the two stooges cause havoc in the posh French restaurant while trying to uncover a killer one dish at a time. The whodunit is fun but thin while fans of the Stuff duo will enjoy their jocular juvenile jaunts amidst a stuffy elite dining class.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Death of a Country Fried Redneck-Lee Hollis

Death of a Country Fried Redneck

Lee Hollis

Kensington, Nov 6 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780758267382

In Bar Harbor, Maine, Island Times food and wine columnist single mom (of teenagers Gemma and Dustin) Hayley Powell writes a popular unpretentious column. She is excited with the news that her favorite country singer Wade Springer will perform two concerts for charity in Bar Harbor. Hayley figures the way to a man is through his stomach so she pulls a ploy and makes breakfast for Wade. Enjoying the meal, Wade asks her to be his chef while he remains in town; she euphorically agrees.

Roadie Mickey Pritchett makes an unsavory bid for Hayley to sleep with him; she rejects his uncouth attempt. Soon afterward someone shoots and kills Pritchett and sets the tour bus on fire. Though Hayley knows she should remain in the kitchen, she investigates the killing of a rough and rowdy roadie.

The latest Hayley Powell Food & Cocktails mystery (see Death of a Kitchen Diva) is an enjoyable zany amateur sleuth with a seeming horde of suspects such as other roadies, ex-wives and groupies. Over the top of Mount Katahdin, fans will enjoy this amusing wild riff as star-struck Hayley learns the music world proves deadly.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, November 2, 2012

So I’m A Heel/Flint/The Big Out-Arnold Hano writing as Mike Heller and Gil Dodge

So I’m A Heel/Flint/The Big Out

Arnold Hano writing as Mike Heller and Gil Dodge

Stark House, Oct 15 2012, $23.95

ISBN: 9781933586502

“So I’m a Heel” by Mike Heller. In 1944, the Howitzer exploded killing a dozen solders and leaving the “lucky” one Hawkins with a disfigured face having lost his lower jaw. He lives with his wife Mary and ten-year-old son Matt in Laredo Rock, California. Acrimonious Hawkins uses his deformity to take advantage of others and blackmails lawyer Otto Weylin. However Weylin plans to take out Hawkins who is attracted to the attorney’s trashy wife Millie.

“Flint” by Gil Dodge. The only one way a hired killer retires is in a coffin. Flint struggles with a bullet lodged in his lungs. He hopes to walk away after he completes his last job so he heads to Colorado where rancher Good hires him to kill Thomason. Flint obtains a job working for Thomason, but is attracted to his employer’s wife Cora.

“The Big Out” by Arnold Hano. The syndicate informs Blues’ catcher Brick Palmer that his brother forged his signature on a $10,000 debt. They demand remittance. Herald sports reporter Randy York witnesses the money exchange and the player busting the collector’s nose. He exposes Brick who is thrown out of the league. He and his wife head to Montreal to play but is treated with rage while an irate syndicate debt collector travels to Canada for payback.

Using two pseudonyms, Arnold Hano showed his vast depth with this exciting 1950s crime caper collection reprints in differing milieus. The three entries are fast-paced with strong characters in troubled waters way over their heads. Although the exciting suspenseful tales do not fully pass the test of time, fans will appreciate these diverse noirs.

Harriet Klausner