Sunday, December 22, 2013

Zoo-James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge

Zoo James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge Vision/Grand Central, Dec 17 2013, $10.00 ISBN: 9781455525157 Biologist Jackson Oz observes a growing trend in which male animals from a wide variety of species become aggressive attackers of humans. He develops the Human-Animal Conflict (HAC) hypothesis in which he ponders whether the underlying cause that has changed the behavior of even docile pets into violent aggressors could be some form of modern day technology sending out “signals”. He heads to Africa to test his HAC theory, but upon arrival male lions charge at his vehicle with him inside. Barely escaping, Oz rescues ecologist Chloe Tousignant from dozens of attacking alligators. The two scientists try to warn the world, but leaders choose self-preservation proclaiming Oz to be a nutcase with a wacko concept. As Oz and Chloe continue their research, he modifies his theory to include animals working as a cohesive assault unit propelled by industrialization; concluding with mankind will become the hunted if radical changes don’t occur now. After a slow unnecessary early interlude in the sack and throughout too much explanation rather than action, the environmental premise with its deniers makes for an engaging save mankind in spite of itself thriller. Oz comes across as brilliant but fickle while Chloe is never developed beyond being an adulating sexual sidekick for the hero to love and rescue. Overall Zoo is an entertaining tale that could have been a great cautionary parable. Harriet Klausner

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Murder As A Second Language-Joan Hess

Murder As A Second Language

Joan Hess

Minotaur, Dec 17 2013, $25.99

ISBN 9781250011961

To fill out the volunteer section of their college applications to schools like Vanderbilt, teenage BFFs Caron and Inez become ESL tutors. At the same time, Caron’s bookselling mom Claire applies as a volunteer at the troubled Farberville Literacy Council. Instead of becoming a tutor like her daughter, Claire ends up on the Board of Directors, but quickly seeks an exit strategy as the FLC is a cesspool filled with embezzlement claims and financial problems.

Not long after Claire joins the FLC, her new husband Deputy Police Chief Peter Rosen rationalizes breaking a personal vow that she will sleuth anyway when he asks his wife to help him investigate the murder of ESL student Ludmila Grabowski; she has insider access he does not have. The elderly acrimonious Russian was found dead in a FLC storage room, but her body seems to have been moved as evidence suggests she banged her head on a copying machine. Claire finds many of her board member peers with the opportunity and concealing all sorts of activities that mostly do not relate to the late Ludmila, but who committed the act remains out of reach.

The latest Claire Malloy Arkansas whodunit (see Closely Akin to Murder, Mummy Dearest and Deader Homes And Gardens) is an exciting mystery. The enjoyable storyline contains the typical albeit somewhat toned down zaniness especially the suspect pool filled with amusing underdeveloped characters. Series fans will enjoy this fun regional whodunit; as Claire learns that volunteerism in her case proves that “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.”

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Dust-Patricia Cornwell


Patricia Cornwell

Putnam, Nov 12 2013, $28.95

ISBN: 9780399157578

After working the Newtown tragedy, emotionally weary Dr. Kay Scarpetta goes to her home in Cambridge for some needed sleep. In the middle of the night the mentally exhausted chief medical examiner is awakened by detective Pete Marino calling her. He tells Scarpetta that a female corpse was found at Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Briggs Field.

Scarpetta arrives at the athletic field murder scene. She quickly realizes that the killer purposely posed grad student Gail Shipton, which implies to the M.E. that she is not the first victim. She wonders why the predator covered the body with dust while thinking her case looks similar to the Capital Murderer investigation her FBI husband Benton Wesley is investigating. Scarpetta and her Cambridge Forensic Center team learn that Shipton sued her fired financial managers and that someone(s) with influence wants the homicide to go unsolved.

The latest Scarpetta forensics investigation (see Postmortem) is an exciting whodunit that as always uses current advances in an understandable manner without dumbing them down. Though the storyline slows down at times when it turns personal, this entry is overall a fast-paced twisting murder mystery with Scarpetta at the top of her game and Wesley deeper than ever.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, September 6, 2013

An Accidental Life-Pamela Binnings Ewen

An Accidental Life

Pamela Binnings Ewen

B&H, Sep 1 2013, $14.99

ISBN: 9780805464320

In 1982 New Orleans, rival attorneys Rebecca Jacobs and Amalise Catoir feel good as they break the male only glass ceiling by becoming partners at Mangen & Morris law firm. However, Rebecca suddenly feels nauseous and decides she must make that call next week.

Meanwhile in nearby Getna, Rebecca’s husband, senior ADA Peter, finds himself working a horrifying case with powerful ethical issues and potential national legal impact. Teenager Glory Lynn Chasson went to the Alpha Woman’s Clinic in Metairie for an abortion, but claims she heard her baby cry and decided to keep her child; the staff told her the baby died. She claims a live-birth homicide occurred.

The sequel to Chasing the Wind focuses on two interesting issues: live-birth abortions and women breaking through the top management glass ceiling in the 1980s. Both subplots are well written, but the female rise to partnership pales next to the abortion issue. In fact the best part of the engaging storyline occurs at the clinic, in the Office of the DA and in the courtroom. Based on a real case, An Accidental Life raises the issue of abortion survivors who in some cases apparently are immediately executed.

Harriet Klausner

Graven Images-Eleanor Sullivan

Graven Images

Eleanor Sullivan

Yesteryear Press/Wyatt-MacKenzie, Sep 1 2013, $14.99

ISBN: 9781939288110

In 1833 the Separatists distrust outsiders staying at the hotel in their Zoar, Ohio village. Impoverished traveling artist Sebastian proves what the rigid leaders believe when they learn he has painted portraits of their girls. When the sinner is hung in a barn, the community rejects one of their members could be a killer; so they look outside and decide Irish tinker Egan killed Sebastian.

Midwife Adelaide Bechtmann does not accept the rationale that none of their pious people would violate God’s Commandment: “Thou shalt not kill.” Instead she remains open-minded, but knows she must tread lightly on her inquiry into the death of the artist; as she recently angered her husband Benjamin and the leaders when she investigated the drowning of a teenager (see Cover Her Body).

The second Singular Village historical mystery is a superb nineteenth century amateur sleuth that brings to life the rigid Separatist community in which followers must fully adhere to all edicts. Adelaide is a wonderful protagonist as her conscience to learn the truth and her need to improve herself and her community battle with her desire to obey the sect's rules. Although readers will need to adjust to a horde of characters introduced rapidly at the beginning, this is a refreshing Americana whodunit.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Lady Anne’s Lover-

Lady Anne’s Lover

Maggie Robinson

Kensington Brava, Jul 30 2013, $9.95

ISBN: 9780758269102

In December 1820, Lady Imaculata Egremont regrets the scandals she created to anger her abusive father but not because of any pain it inflicted on her nasty dad who everyone thinks is a saint. Thanks to the London List tabloid and its owners Lord Gray and Evangeline Ramsay, she has a chance to start over. Thus she heads to Wales as Widow Anne Mont housekeeper to Napoleon War hero Major Gareth Ripton-Jones, who ironically lost an arm in an accident after he came home. On the trek she reads the Compleat Housewife that her benefactress Evangeline gave her and realizes she has no experiences at all for her position and cannot use her beauty as she conceals that from her new employer.

A drunkard, Gareth ignores his housekeeper’s lack of skills; but in spite of her unfashionable wardrobe and overall “plain” look, he knows she fails to conceal from him her beauty. Still it is her caustic tongue and even more caustic coffee that opens his eyes. As the Heiress and the Horseman begin a tryst and fall in love, he remains the only suspect in the murder of his fiancée.

This tongue in cheek Regency romantic suspense is a fabulous amusing yet taut sequel to Lord Gray's List (Lady Imaculata was a key secondary player and Major Jones placed an ad in the first novel). The lead couple’s bawdy banter counterbalances her daddy dearest woes and his need to prove his innocence now that she sobered him up, but their investigation places them in danger. Readers will enjoy this strong historical.

Harriet Klausner

A Cold White Sun: A Constable Molly Smith Mystery-Vicki Delany

A Cold White Sun: A Constable Molly Smith Mystery

Vicki Delany

Poisoned Pen, Aug 6 2013, $24.95

ISBN 9781464201608

In Trafalgar, British Columbia, someone murders high school teacher Cathy Lindsay while she walked her dog Spot. Assisted by Constable Molly Smith, Detective Sergeant John Winters leads the homicide investigation into finding out why a sniper shot and killed a seemingly boring mother of two and married to one who taught English to bored students.

Thus the cops look closer into the personal life of the victim and find a mess as Ms. Lindsay was a serial cheater going from one lover to another and suffered from unrequited love for a math teacher with Special Forces experience. Winters tracks down the husband Ralph away in Victoria on a business trip but finds him with a lover. Meanwhile Molly meets and is attracted to Adam Tocek. Smith and Winters soon fear that the assassin had no personal interest whatsoever in the victim except for the kill and randomly will murder again if not stopped.

The latest Constable Molly Smith police procedural (see Among the Departed, Valley of the Lost and Negative Image) is an exhilarating investigative whodunit that grips the audience as several suspects surface. Fast-paced, readers will enjoy this entry though the resolution proves reality is not necessarily interesting.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Tell Me-Lisa Jackson

Tell Me

Lisa Jackson

Kensington, Jun 25 2013, $25.00

ISBN 9780758258588

Two decades ago, Blondell O’Henry and her three children were in a cabin in Savannah when the police arrived to investigate a shooting that left the oldest child pregnant teen Amity dead, and eight year old Niall and five year old Blythe in critical condition. Blondell insisted a stranger broke in firing the shots; but Niall testified his mom was the culprit. With no evidence of an intruder to counter Niall’s statement, Blondell was convicted and sent to the pen for life.

In the present, Niall claims the cops forced him to testify against his mom, which would release Blondell from prison. True crime author Nikki Gillette has more than just a writer’s interest in this case that she plans to investigate; she and Amity were BFFs, and her family was involved in the trial and owned the cabin. Her fiancé SPD Police Detective Pierce Reed and his partner Sylvie Morrisette are assigned to review the evidence.

This is an interesting investigative tale with a cast that would make Cecil B. DeMille proud but also limits the characters to two-dimensional. Still fans who keep a scorecard focused on the two prime families and their one degree connections will appreciate this taut double helix thriller as an infamous case closed reopens.

Harriet Klausner

Bombshell-Catherine Coulter


Catherine Coulter

Putnam, Jul 9 2013, $26.95

ISBN: 9780399157332

After their work together in San Francisco (see Backfire), FBI Special Agent Dillon Savich hires FBI agent Griffin Hammersmith to join the CAU Division. On his way to DC, Griffin plans to see his sister Delsey, a student at Stanislaus School of Music in Maestro, Virginia. Before arriving at his sibling’s place, Griffin receives a call from Agent Ruth Noble (nee Warnecki in Point Blank) informing him his sister was found unconscious but okay with blood on her that was not hers.

At the same time, Dillon and his FBI wife Lacey Sherlock investigate the murder of college student Tommy Cronin. The case has caused a media frenzy since the victim is the grandson of a former Federal Reserve Bank chair. As the homicide count grows rapidly, the married Feds know anyone within one degree of Tommy is a potential victim.

Bombshell is a strong S & S & associates police procedural as the rotating two cases prove exciting and fast-paced. Readers will appreciate the tense police work as the Feds work the assault and perhaps murder at the school while S & S struggles to end a DC killing spree with the press demands intruding their efforts.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, July 12, 2013

Cold Coast-Jenifer LeClair

Cold Coast

Jenifer LeClair

Conquill Press, Jul 1 2013, $15.00

ISBN: 9780980001761

Minneapolis Homicide Detective Brie Beaumont remains on leave suffering from PTSD after being shot and her partner Phil killed while on duty five months ago. Currently she is second mate on the Schooner Maine Wind sailing with passengers and crew along the coast. When a Nor’easter strikes, Captain John DuLac pulls up anchor in Tucker Harbor. The next morning the storm has left the harbor but remains dangerously nearby so DuLac allows crew and passengers to explore the village for a few hours. While hiking to Heron Head on Final Reckoning Road, they find a corpse of a man whose neck was sliced. Brie protects the crime scene until Washington County law enforcement arrives.

Shorthanded and having seen the results of her work before (see Rigged for Murder), Maine State Police Detective Fenton asks Brie to help investigate the homicide of local trucker Jake Maloney. Since DuLac has an extra experienced hand onboard, he reluctantly agrees as he will miss his second mate for professional and personal reasons; but he knows Brie needs this test to determine whether she should return to law enforcement or continue sailing. MPD also supports Brie working the case. Brie questions the victim’s widow and his former employee until she finds a link to a cold case murder of a researcher.

Though waiting out a storm was used at Granite Harbor in Rigged for Murder, readers will enjoy this engaging police procedural as Jenifer LeClair once again vividly captures the Maine background in her latest Windjammer mystery (see Danger Sector). The eccentric Mainers add depth to a fabulous step by step investigation; fans will enjoy Brie trying to uncover secrets that should tie together two seemingly unrelated murders four years apart.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, July 8, 2013

A Murder In Passing-Mark de Castrique

A Murder In Passing

Mark de Castrique

Poisoned Pen, Jul 2 2013, $24.95

ISBN: 9781464201516

In Asheville, North Carolina, Sam Blackman and Nakayla Robertson have no clients. Sam is bored so Nakayla suggests they close the Blackman & Robertson Detective Agency for the day and go on a mushroom hunt on the historic Kingdom of the Happy Land. Thinking this venture will increase his ennui, Sam goes anyway. Sam finds human skeletal remains on the freed-slave commune property. Henderson County Sheriff Deputy Overcash, who hates Sam for solving a case of his, warns the two private investigators to stay out of their inquiry; though jurisdiction may belong to Greenville County, South Carolina as the boundary is right at the hollow log containing the corpse.

Marsha Montgomery arrives at the office of Blackman & Robertson Detective Agency wanting to hire Sam and Nakayla to investigate a burglary at her mother Lucille’s home in 1967. She explains someone stole a rifle and a photograph of her mother, grandmother, and great grandmother taken in 1932 at The Kingdom of the Happy Land by famous photographer Doris Ulmann. The police arrest African-American octogenarian Lucille for the murder of her white lover Jimmy Lang over forty years ago. Sam and Nakayla investigate the cold case murder.

The fourth B & R mystery (see The Sandburg Connection, Blackman's Coffin and The Fitzgerald Ruse) is an engaging investigative whodunit with the artist being the famous Appalachia photographer rather than a writer. Fast-paced from the moment Sam finds a body and never slowing down even with some repetitive back story, fans will enjoy this tale that links several decades at a place where former slaves created The Kingdom of the Happy Land.

Harriet Klausner

The Terrorist Next Door-Sheldon Siegel

The Terrorist Next Door

Sheldon Siegel

Poisoned Pen, Jul 2 2013, $24.95

ISBN: 9781464201646

Chicago PD Homicide Detective David Gold receives a Medal of Valor in a public ceremony for stopping student Hassan Al-Shahid from bombing the Art Institute of Chicago, but his partner and best friend Paulie Loszewski died. As he gives a short uncomfortable speech, a car bomb explodes and a text arrives claiming it is not over. His boss Maloney calls in the Feds as terrorism has come to South Chicago.

Other car bombs explode near landmarks with the motive to force the city to free Al-Shahid. As the city lives in fear with deaths mounting and no place safe, Gold, his new partner A.C. Battle and the FBI pursue a clever Muslim extremist terrorist thought to be related to Al-Shahid.

The Boston marathon bombing makes the first Gold police procedural appear authentic as terrorism shuts down a major American city. The lead cops have plenty of personal tsuris but remain focused on taking down the brilliant predator while their insight into Chicago (Cubs or Sox) brings depth to the mix. Although late happenchance detracts from the excitement and Mike Daley is on recess, readers will enjoy the taut Terrorist Next Door which warns Americans to avoid stereotyping the enemy.

Harriet Klausner

The Right Side Of Wrong-Reavis Z. Wortham

The Right Side Of Wrong

Reavis Z. Wortham

Poisoned Pen, Jul 2 2013, $24.95

ISBN: 9781464201486

In 1966, twenty-four year old Constable Cody Parker is stunned by the snow piling up as it rarely comes down let alone sticks in Center Spring, Texas on the south side of the Red River. He notices tire marks in the snow so he follows them using his wife Norma Faye’s vehicle as his car’s battery died due to the freezing temperature. When he sees the sedan parked, Cody down shifts but skids anyway. The other driver fires a 12 gauge through the windshield hitting Cody whose Plymouth crashes. A starving pack of abandoned dogs fights over his injured body until elderly newcomer Tom Bell kills the alpha and another sending the rest fleeing.

Cody’s Uncle Constable Ned Parker and deputy sheriff John Washington lead investigations into the near fatal attack and other homicides in the area. Each concludes that a new type of trafficker had come to Red River; these homicidal predators sell drugs that they obtain in Mexico. Still upset with the assault that nearly killed him, Cody follows suspects south of the border. Ned follows his foolish nephew to save him from killers.

The third Parker clan historical police procedural (see The Rock Hole and Burrows) is a great 1960s period piece thriller with segregation remaining strictly enforced; for instance Washington is the Jackie Robinson of law enforcement in the area but separate facilities for whites and coloreds remain in place a dozen years after the Brown ruling. The drug trafficking is also just beginning to find favorite lethal migratory paths. The cast is solid as is the investigation, but it is the vivid look at 1966 Red River shootout that makes for a super entertaining tale.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, June 28, 2013

Sling Shot-Matthew Dunn

Sling Shot

Matthew Dunn

Morrow, Jun 25 2013, $25.99

ISBN: 9780062038029

In 1995 Berlin, Head of Russia’s SVR S Division Intelligence Officer Nikolai Dmitriev loathes every step he takes through myriads of security checkpoints manned by the elite special forces of his nation and the Americans at the abandoned Soviet barracks. When he reaches his destination, Nikolai is the only person in the room of top espionage and military officials who believe the Slingshot protocols are psychotic as hundreds of millions will die. He signs the document anyway. The evil genius behind Slingshot former East German Stasi Officer Kurt Schrieber tells his colleagues that Russia’s greatest assassin Kronos will kill anyone who betrays the plan. To bring fear to the conspirators Kronos shows them pictures of where he has been over the last few days: in their homes.

In the present in Poland all hell breaks loose leaving many dead over a defector. When the protocols are stolen, the signatories fear Kronos as much as they do the one who apparently plans to expose them. Kronos begins the hunt for the betrayer. Also on the quest are several of those who signed the Slingshot protocols; M16 Will Cochrane and his team; a CIA unit with a hidden agenda, and a Mossad operative.

The third Cochrane espionage thriller (see Sentinel and Spycatcher) is an exciting tale from the moment Slingshot is signed and never loses that exhilarating pace. Fans anticipate a showdown between Cochrane and Kronos with the latter the betting favorite as he seems more skilled. However, the other players in this convoluted life and death struggle make for a fabulous storyline reader as they add depth while also keeping the readers wondering who the good, the bad and the ugly are.

Harriet Klausner

The Eye of God-James Rollins

The Eye of God

James Rollins

Morrow, Jun 25 2013, $27.99

ISBN: 9780061784804

At the DOD Space and Missile System Center in El Segundo, California, concerned Director Painter Crowe tells DARPA General Metcalf and key research physicist Dr. Jada Shaw something is wrong with the satellite studying the dark matter that birthed the universe. The vivid pictures transmitted show the eastern seaboard in total ruins from an apparent meteor. Ground control tries to shut down “The Eye of God” satellite, but fails as the IOG obtained an external energy source. The satellite crashes in Mongolia. Crowe and Metcalf agree IOG must be retrieved before the Chinese or worse obtain the satellite.

In Rome, Christian archeology and Vatican archivist of secrets Monsignor Vigor Verona receives an ancient parchment bound in human skin and a skull with eye lashes sent by long dead Fr. Josip Tarasco. Vigor tells his niece Rachel this is The Gospel of Thomas, which declares the end of the world in four days.

Sigma Force Commander Gray Pierce directs part of his team already in Mongolia searching for Khan Era artifacts to retrieves the satellite or what is left of it. At the same time he leads a unit accompanying Fr. Tarasco and his niece into China as DNA testing proved the skin and skull from the ancient tome was once Genghis Khan. They hope to learn why Attila turned away from Rome and why the empire fell anyway. All converge in a sacred home of Genghis Khan.

The latest Sigma Force thriller (see Bloodline) is an exhilarating action-packed tale that smoothly combines an end of the world scenario with quantum physics, and ancient Rome and Mongol history. Gripping throughout, readers will appreciate James Rollin’s taut thriller as the end of days countdown begins.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, June 24, 2013

A Diet To Die For-Sarah Steding

A Diet To Die For

Sarah Steding

Pocket, Jun 25 2013, $7.99

ISBN: 9781451684681

In New York City event planner Jen Stevens knows working for the Yummy Channel is not the best place for a serial dieter to be employed as cupcakes like those baked by popular Bess Brantwood are scrumptious and those eating it gain weight. Currently Jen works on the hundredth episode of the very popular Bess’s Bakery show, which means dining on delicious carbs while dealing with a diva; an occupational hazard of working at the channel since all the hosts are prima donnas who can cook.

As reporter Callie Rogers and station VIPs arrive for the gala at the bakery, Bess fails to show up and her assistant Giselle “Bess Wrangler” Martin does not answer her cell. Soon afterward Bess is found murdered tossed away like rotting food inside a nearby dumpster. NYPD Detective Philip Franklin leads the investigation into the celebrity’s homicide while Jen and her friends also make inquiries.

The first Skinny Mystery is an enjoyable culinary whodunit that is at its best when focused on the mystery and watching employees count their calories while working at gourmet heaven; ironically low carb recipes are included. Although the stereotyping of the celebrity chefs as divas is an overused sub-genre norm (especially as the murder victim), fans will enjoy Jen’s amateur sleuthing and budding romance with NYPD Officer Alex D’Alby.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, June 8, 2013

The Trojan Colt-Mike Resnick

The Trojan Colt

Mike Resnick

Prometheus/Seventh Street, Jun 4 2013, $13.95

ISBN 9781616147891

In Cincinnati, Bill Striker, head of the city’s largest detective agency, hires freelancer Eli Paxton to provide personal security to legendary race horse Trojan’s offspring Tyrone, as the colt is offered to bidders at the Keeneland Summer Sale auction in Lexington, Kentucky. Needing the money desperately, the former cop jumps at the opportunity.

Tyrone’s groom Tony Sanders shows the valuable colt to interested buyers. The day before the bidding, Tony vanishes. His parents hire Eli to find their son. Tyrone’s owner Travis Bigelow insists the groom ran away, which makes no sense to Eli as Tony was diligent and dedicated to the care of the horse. As he digs around the barns, Eli learns two other employees vanished in recent weeks and rumors have it that Bigelow’s breeding operation is in financial trouble. He fears he could be missing person number four as he begins to uncover what is going on in the racing world.

The latest Eli Paxton Mystery (see Dog in the Manger and "Even Butterflies Can Sting" in the Death Dines At 8:30 anthology) is an exciting private investigative tale. The medium boiled detective storyline is intelligent and fast-paced as Eli with help works the case.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, June 7, 2013

It Happens In The Dark-Carol O’Connell

It Happens In The Dark

Carol O’Connell

Putnam, Aug 20 2013, $26.95

ISBN: 9780399165399

Peter Beck missed opening night of his Broadway play The Brass Bed. He arrives alone on the second evening somewhat drunk and angry at those involved in his production as he sits in his reserved seat. A very short blackout occurs, but when the lights go back on, the woman sitting near Peter screams as he dies in front of her. On stage, an actor comments “… Not again” as someone died on opening night.

New York Special Crimes Unit Detectives Mallory and Riker lead the investigation into the two suspicious deaths. Ironically, the production is based on the cold blooded massacre of a Nebraskan family. A ghostwriter redoing Beck’s dialogue leaves Mallory with taunting messages on a blackboard in the back area of the theater as Riker comments about this being a strange way of dating someone. As she works the case applying her high standard of diligence and deploying devious manipulations, the taunts continue as the anonymous author seems to have added Mallory to the cast; while the cop brings in some Cornhusker help.

The latest Mallory police procedural (see The Chalk Girl) is a great dark whodunit. The superb storyline primarily focuses on the investigation, but contains short interludes involving dying nonagenarian Charles that shows the heroine has a heart that she definitely does not wear on her sleeve. Action-packed series fans will enjoy Mallory ripping skin from peers and suspects as she expects no interference from the brass and seeks clues from suspects.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The Janus Reprisal-Jamie Freveletti

The Janus Reprisal

Jamie Freveletti

Grand Central, May 28 2013, $8.00

ISBN: 9780446539852

United States Army Medical research Institute for Infectious Diseases Lieutenant Colonel Jon Smith attends the World Health organization’s conference on infectious diseases in their world nations in the Hague. A terrorist with a gun enters his hotel room while he is sleeping, but as he escapes he notices other assailants with weapons in the hallway. Smith searches the dead terrorist who attacked him only to find three photos: retired M16 agent Peter Howell, an unknown woman and himself. His boss at top secret Covert-One Fred Klein calls too late to warn him as terrorists executed most occupants and stole biological agents from the safe. Smith must retrieve the stolen material before they are used in a mass murder attack.

At the same time as the attack, bombs explode throughout the city and Pakistani Oman “Butcher” Dattar escapes from incarceration while standing trial at the International Criminal Court. However, the Butcher has immediate money issues as he owes payment to the team that attacked the WHO conference attendees and diplomats. However that is an inconvenience as the Butcher plots to use his new cache to destroy the West.

The latest Covert-One save the world thriller (see The Ares Decision, The Arctic Event and The Cassandra Compact) is an action-packed over the top of the Vaalserberg tale. Readers will easily accept the terrific opening hotel assault (think Mumbai) but wonder why biological material was not stored in top security confinement. Although the antagonistic lead couple is both one dimensional different sides of the same coin, fans will anticipate their confrontation as The Janus Reprisal is a gripping story.

Harrier Klausner

Unspeakable-Kevin O’Brien


Kevin O’Brien

Pinnacle, May 28 2013, $9.99

ISBN: 9780786031580

In Seattle, hypnosis therapist Olivia Barker finds it ironic that her heal thyself mantra she offers her patients should be adopted by her as she has some of their worse addictions like smoking. Twentyish Russ Leander arrives at her office for her hypnotic treatment. However, his real name is Colin Cox and he lied about his age and his reason for visiting her.

Olivia places Russ under only to have him claim he is a killing psychopath Wade. She brings him back and also learns teenage Collin made a lot of money as a child star but his mom spent it all leaving him a victim at school and supermarket appearances for chump change. The therapist wonders how Collin knows so much about several homicides making her ponder whether he suffers multiple personality disorder with one of his individuals being a long time serial killer. In fear she considers breaking her silence before she becomes a victim vs. whether staying mute keeps her safe.

Unspeakable is a taut medical thriller starring a frightened beleaguered therapist and her patient who appears to have several personalities including a homicidal lunatic. Readers will relish Kevin O’Brien’s tense twisting tale that grips the audience throughout.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, June 3, 2013

Wiggle Room-Darden North

Wiggle Room

Darden North

Sartoris Literary Group, May 25 2013, $19.95

ISBN: 9780989318624

Air Force surgeon Major Brad Cummins nears the end of his four month deployment in Iraq when the American victims of an IED are rushed into emergency care. Also brought in is the wounded insurgent bomber Zarife Amarah. Whereas Marine Lance Corporal Chad Giles dies, Amarah lives.

Feeling guilty over failing to save the American solider, the medical board exonerates Brad while his peers remain hostile. In Jackson, Mississippi, he feels added remorse for enabling Amarah to return to killing Americans. However, Brad is shocked when his brother Brian is murdered. Brad believes he was the target due to his saving the insurgent and failing to save the marine; while his fiancée Leslie thinks he brought home paranoia from his deployment. Meanwhile Amarah has landed in Atlanta.

This is an exciting thriller made fresh by red herrings that take advantage of stereotyping of terrorism. The female medicos (battlefield nurses Elizabeth Cossar and Stacy Lane, and stateside Dr. Diana Bratton) are fabulous characters while the males like Brad and the villain are underdeveloped dolts. Readers will enjoy this twisting Mississippi murder mystery.

Harriet Klausner

A Tine To Live, A Tine To Die-Edith Maxwell

A Tine To Live, A Tine To Die

Edith Maxwell

Kensington, May 28 2013, $24.00

ISBN: 9780758284617

In Millsbury, Massachusetts, new farmer Cameron Flaherty fires worker Mike Montgomery for planning to use pesticide, a major taboo amidst organic farming, to rid the asparagus and potato crops of beetles. Not long after she canned Mike, she finds his corpse with her pitchfork buried into his throat.

Police Chief George Frost interrogates her as to where she was, has she been drinking, and how she cut her hand in a hostile tome that makes it clear he believes she is the killer. Even her childhood friend police officer Ruth Dodge appears unfriendly. Her friend and customer Lucinda the Brazilian émigré replaces her as the prime suspect as Mike was a member of the anti-immigration Patriotic League. Heeding the advice of her late Great-Aunt Marie who insisted Cam could do anything, she investigates the homicide with help from the organic farming community and serendipitously Ruthie.

The amateur sleuthing is well done and fun to follow; but it is the deep look at immigration, militias, and the organic and local foods farm industry that makes for a fascinating opening act. Cam is a strong protagonist who keeps the exciting storyline focused as the first Local Foods mystery is an entertaining whodunit.

Harriet Klausner

Father Knows Death-Jeffrey Allen

Father Knows Death

Jeffrey Allen

Kensington, Jun 4 2013, $7.99

ISBN: 9780758266910

The residents of ultra conservative Rose Petal, Texas remain appalled that Deuce Winters is a soccer dad raising his young daughter Carly while his overdue pregnant wife Julianne is the breadwinner high powered attorney. Like many stay at home moms, Deuce volunteers at Carly’s activities. His latest is manning a food stand at the Carriveau County Fair to raise money for Carly’s 4H club.

At the fair, Deuce goes to the freezer to grab up bratwursts, only the meat he finds is illegal to grill; as the corpse of George Spellman greets him. The County Sheriff insists the body is on ice and going nowhere so delays the investigation until after the fair ends. Being a part-time private eye working for brilliant detective Victor "little person" Doolittle, Deuces knows a murder investigation cannot wait so he begins an inquiry.

The latest Stay at Home Dad mystery (see Popped Off, Stay at Home Dead, and Father Knows Death) is an amusing Texas cozy as Deuce sets the tone when he muses a corpse has to be a health code violation even in a red meat state. The engaging whodunit is cleverly designed, but it is the jocularity of the cast’s reaction as the priority is not the dead human sausage but the potential impact he has on fundraising; everyone knows a corpse tends to deaden money making except at the funeral parlor.

Harriet Klausner

Stranded-Alex Kava


Alex Kava

Doubleday, Jul 16 2013, $24.95

ISBN: 9780385535540

FBI Special Agents Maggie O'Dell and R.J. Tully are tired of the road but stumbled upon the deaths of seasoned travelers Dobson and Lester while working a serial arson case (see Fireproof). They suggested to their supervisor Assistant Director Kunze that an experienced serial killer used someone else’s blazes to conceal murder. He agreed with their assertion and assigned the pair to the FBI Serial killer Highway Initiative; formed due to the dire need to profile predators working the vulnerable rest stops.

The clever psychopath, who used arson to hide bodies like that of Dobson, appears to realize the Feds know of his vocation. Unable to resist, the culprit leaves clues for Maggie to find as to the next rest stop. Though frightened of being assaulted again by a prisoner, Maggie’s BFF Dr. Gwen Patterson interviews a convict who insists he chatted with someone a year ago over disposing corpses.

Rotating viewpoints, the latest O’Dell FBI police procedural (see Hotwire) is an exciting serial killer thriller that emphasizes how dangerous, especially at night, the Interstate rest stops can be. Although the premise of a killer leaving clues to the cop targeted as the end game has been used too frequently, fans will relish Maggie (and to a lesser degree Tully) playing cat and mouse with a lethal psychopath in an enjoyable above the speed limit storyline.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Scorpion Deception-Andrew Kaplan

Scorpion Deception

Andrew Kaplan

Harper, May 28, 2013, $9.99

ISBN: 9780062219657

The Gardener approves the Scale’s plan to assault the American Embassy in Bern, Switzerland. Scale knows he and his team have nine minutes to take control of the “fortress” starting with killing the Marines and destroying the cameras; downloading the top secret CIA files; and kill everyone inside. He insists on seven minutes.

The media and the public howl for blood while Congress is outraged demanding a counter military strike, but no one knows against who. Desperate not because of revenge, but due to secrets in peril and to shut up Congress, the CIA turns to a former operative, their deadliest, Scorpion. He refuses until he finds out that he is the first name on one of the lists taken from the embassy. Scorpion follows clues that lead him to the equally lethal Scale in Barcelona and to the attention of the Gardener in Tehran.

The third Scorpion espionage thriller (see Scorpion Betrayal) is an exhilarating action-packed over the top of the Alps spy tale. Fast-paced with a superhero vs. supervillain premise, fans will enjoy Scorpion’s fight to the death with Scale and his encounter with the Gardener although the plot lacks the anchoring headlines of the Ukrainian elections that brought realism to his super-spy riff in Scorpion Winter.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, May 31, 2013

You Cannoli Die Once-Shelley Costa

You Cannoli Die Once

Shelley Costa

Pocket, May 28 2013

ISBN: 9781476709352

Since 1937, the successful Miracolo family restaurant in Quaker Hills forty minutes north of Philadelphia has served Italian cuisine to hungry patrons. The current head chef Eve Angelotta and the current diva her septuagenarian Nonna Maria Pia Angelotta tend to argue a lot over marriage and producing future chefs.

On Monday, Eve finds her cousin Kayla’s lover lawyer Joe Beck in her garbage looking for his missing wedding ring after three nights of late banging. Tuesday tops Monday when Eve finds a corpse with his head bashed in the kitchen on top of a classic Caruso 78. The police inform Eve and her horde of relatives that the victim is Arlen Mather, Nonna’s boyfriend. When Nonna’s alibi collapses, the police arrest her for the murder. Eve and her cousins know Nonna is a feisty pain in the butt, but not a killer so they investigate Arlen’s “Night at the Opera”.

The first Angelotta culinary cozy is an amusing Philadelphia shtick amateur sleuth. The cousins’ inquiry is fun to follow especially Eve’s humorous asides though readers need a scorecard to keep track of who’s who amongst the family horde. Still fans will enjoy dining at Miracolo.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Twilight Is Not Good For Maidens-Lou Allin

Twilight Is Not Good For Maidens

Lou Allin

Dundurn, May 25 2013, $17.99

ISBN: 9781459706019

In the middle of the night, as the Sooke Detachment will be delayed to get to a crime scene, RCMP Detachment Corporal Holly Martin goes to Vancouver Island’s French Beach where someone assaulted a young woman. Her job is to make sure no one is hurt and temporarily secure the location. Due to this being the off season and at night, Holly takes her mutt with her. Not long afterward in another isolated site a female is murdered and once again Holly heads there first.

Sooke takes over both cases. Meanwhile a female driver accuses Constable Chipper Singh, a Sikh, of sexual assault during a traffic stop; he is placed on administrative leave while an inquiry occurs. A third victim is raped; frightening and angering civilians as the cops fail to find the predator while Holly continues to seek clues.

The latest Holly Martin police procedural (see And On The Surface Die and She Felt No Pain) is a strong investigative thriller as a psychopath terrorizes Vancouver Island. The manhunt is fast-paced while the Singh subplot enhances the policing. With deftly interwoven references to literary figures (a personal favorite of mine) and insight into the protagonist’s family, fans will enjoy this taut thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Another Heaven-Annu Subramanian

Another Heaven

Annu Subramanian

Apprentice House, Mar 20 2013, $18.95

ISBN: 9781934074879

In 2009 the nineteen years old female suicide bomber blows up a train in the Seloor District of South India; killing many innocent people. In Ashville, Pennsylvania, Tina Matthew chats with her faculty advisor Dr. Katz about the horrific mass murders in India; as she is soon going to stay with her paternal Aunt Rita and Uncle Theo in Chennai, India while conducting research into the motives of terrorists for her thesis.

In India, religious fanatic Usman seeks desperate victims for his schemes. He easily finds them amongst the downtrodden trafficked and gives them meals, a bed, and a purpose to die for Allah as “the end of all means is the beginning”. Meanwhile Tina rides the train to Chennai, but a detour leaves her several hundred kilometers away in Seloor where Usman learns of the American.

This is a strong timely thriller that looks deeply into the motives of suicide bombers and the lethal Svengali who psychologically manipulates these traumatized impoverish giving them “hope” for a better future in Heaven. Putting aside the early coincidence of the protagonist ending up in Seloor, aptly titled Another Heaven is an exciting tale as Annu Subramanian provides a profound yet thrilling story that answers why.

Harriet Klausner

Cold Killing-Luke Delaney

Cold Killing

Luke Delaney

Morrow, May 21, 2013. $14.99

ISBN: 9780062219466

Sean Corrigan believes the best cop training he had was being a sexual abuse victim as a child. Now the lead Detective Inspector of one of the South London Murder Investigation Teams, Sean personally understands violence, which enables him to “see” much more than his peers or subordinates.

Detective Sergeant Dave Donnelly wakes him at three in the morning telling Sean that a young man Daniel Graydon was viciously beaten and stabbed to death in his flat. Initial reaction is a domestic dispute occurred between a gay couple; but murder scene anomalies including a lack of forensic evidence and Sean’s gut say otherwise. Soon Sean looks deeply at financier James Hellier as the suspect while more homicides occur with diverse M.O.s; as the case increasingly disturbs the DI who believes the serial killer keeps him going the wrong way.

The first Corrigan British police procedural is a taut whodunit that grips the reader from the opening murder. Corrigan is a refreshing protagonist as he uses his traumatic childhood to solve cases but also fears his demons will lead him to abuse his children. Although the climax is weak especially after the super strong investigation leading fans there; readers will relish getting inside the head of the troubled DI as he looks into a Cold Killing.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Angel Baby-Richard Lange

Angel Baby

Richard Lange

Mulholland/Little Brown, May 14 2013, $26.00

ISBN: 9780316219822

In Tijuana, the first time Lutz tried to escape from her violent husband Mexican drug lord Rolando “El Principe”; her dog Pepito paid the price as he viciously stomped to death the toy poodle in front of her. Heartbroken but not totally helpless, Luz knows she must do a much better job with her next attempt. Thus she takes her time working out a plan until she executes it by killing two of his troops and taking his safe’s money.

Raging Rolando liberates American “El Apache” from a Mexican prison. He orders him to locate his wife in the States and to bring her back to him; failure or refusal are unacceptable as El Principe threatens to kill the man’s wife and child. El Apache knows this is no idle threat so he goes to California seeking Luz who in turn searches for her four years old daughter Isabel whom she left behind in the Los Angeles area.

Angel Baby is a taut thriller as a brutal killer forces a felon to go after his missing wife; fans will shudder at what the psychopath will do if he catches his spouse and what he will do if he does not in This Wicked World of his. Character driven, readers will enjoy this tense tale as increasingly it seems an innocent(s) will be maimed or killed.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Oscar Wilde and the Murders at Reading Gaol-Gyles Brandreth

Oscar Wilde and the Murders at Reading Gaol

Gyles Brandreth

Touchstone, May 14 2013, $16.00

ISBN 9781439153758

In 1895 London, Mr. Justice Wills sentences noted playwright Oscar Wilde to two years of hard labor for gross indecency with young men. While forty year old Oscar head to jail, his wife and two kids flee England and the scandal for the continent, and the production of the Importance of being Earnest continues on stage.

His time in Wandsworth Prison is physically and mentally hell; made worse by his wife’s forgiveness visit and the knowledge that he is financially broke. Just before his transfer to Reading Gaol, Warder Braddle comes to his cell in a rage, blaming him for his diseased body just before he dies. In Reading Gaol, Wilde learns of another Warder dying violently. Soon afterward others die so the Governor asks Wilde to look into the Murders at Reading Gaol.

The latest late Oscar Wilde Victorian mystery (see Oscar Wilde and the Vampire Murders, and Oscar Wilde and the Vatican Murders) may be the best in the series, but not because of the clever whodunit. Instead Gyles Brandreth provides a deep look into the two years of Wilde’s torturous incarceration and a powerful condemnation of the British gaol in the last decade of the nineteenth century. Wilde’s murder inquiry is terrific but it is the jailhouse that rocks.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Indivisible? The Story of the Second American Civil War-Paul Martin Midden

Indivisible? The Story of the Second American Civil War

Paul Martin Midden

Wittmann Blair Publishing, May 7, 2013, $18.99

ISBN: 9780985922320

In 1861 Abraham Bellamy dedicated his life to the Confederate cause. In 1865 after his side lost, a despondent Abraham proved his dedication by suicide.

In the present, Abraham’s descendent Abner Bellamy believes the federal government is a sham tramping on the rights of the states. His mission is to resurrect his ancestor’s dream of for the people being not one size fits all but 50 diverse ways and has begun to find powerful supporters who agree with his assertion the government is too powerful. Though their motives differ from Abner as avarice is their driver, wealthy George and David Blinder join the cause. Fundamentalist Daniel Keenan also enlists as he knows the atheist DC government has destroyed religious and family values. Other also throw their lot in with the Sovereign Citizens group whose mission is de-evolution or if need be revolution.

CIA agent Max Grabel and contract workers (and lovers) Marie LeBrun and Samantha Stranger uncover a viable conspiracy to overthrow the United States government and return it to pre-Civil War states domination. Evidence implies this threat unlike previous ones has money, arms, and a wide range of influence. They must identify the diverse cabal of enemies of the USA before it is too late for the Union.

This is an exciting thriller that extrapolates the rage many have against the federal government turning into action to tear down DC. Although a sequel is set up that will disappoint fans wanting a final confrontation, readers will enjoy this fast-paced tale while trying to identify who’s who.

Harriet Klausner

Seduction-M.J. Rose


M.J. Rose

Atria, May 7 2013, $24.00

ISBN: 9781451621501

Emotional fragile, mythologist Jac L’Etoile was fourteen when she met fellow teen patient Theo Gaspard at the Blixter Rath Clinic and though neither knew the other’s surname they were attracted to one another. Now a grieving widower, he explains he read her book and found an intriguing 1855 letter that discusses Druid activity. Theo invites her to join him on Isle of Jersey to find a Hugo missing journal describing his contacts with the Shadow of the Sepulcher; his conversations with Jesus and other notables having been published.

Fascinated by Hugo’s efforts to contact his deceased teenage daughter and seeing Theo for the first time in years at his home front, Jac decides to go over the warnings of her therapist. On Jersey, the intrepid but troubled pair begins to unravel the mystery of Victor Hugo and the Shadow of the Sepulcher, but will either mentally survive solving this paranormal case.

The second Jac L’Etoile mythological thriller (see The Book of Lost Fragrances) is an exhilarating tale that rotates between the mid-nineteenth century and the present. Fast-paced in both eras, danger mounts then and now as evil stalks the past and the contemporary human seekers.

Harriet Klausner

Confession-Richard Freis


Richard Freis

Sartoris Literary Group, May 7 2013, $19.95

ISBN: 9780988947412

As successful attorney George Burden reaches his double-5 birthday, he seems to have the perfect life with a wonderful caring family especially his adoring wife Julia and is a highly regarded member of upper class society in Jackson, Mississippi. However, George feels differently as he knows everything came too easily.

George does the unthinkable by leaving his safe zone to begin an affair with Becca Talbot, divorced mother of a five year old son who is also younger than his youngest child. When George falls in love with his paramour, he decides to obtain a divorce to marry his beloved. He is stunned when Becca refuses his proposal. Raging George goes berserk when he sees his Becca with a man her age and will do anything to make her his wife.

Taking place in under 100 hours, Confession is a taut psychological suspense starring a fascinating violent protagonist who tells his Confession by letter to a priest. Ironically as he confesses his sins (and readers learn his history from his perspective) George has everything except spiritual connections. Richard Freis provides a strong character-driven thriller; as George has achieved the four lower steps of Maslow’s Hierarchy, but fails at Self-Actualization and Self-Transcendence leading to his placing his (and his family) Physiological, Safety, Belongingness and Love, and Esteem at risk.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Barbed Crown-William Dietrich

The Barbed Crown

William Dietrich

Harper, May 7 2013. $26.99

ISBN: 9780062194077

Crossing to France on the Phantom, American adventurer Ethan Gage feels he owes his one-time employer Napoleon for nearly killing his wife Astiza and kidnapping their young son Harry (see The Emperor Storm). He plans to destroy Napoleon while his spouse schemes to prevent the little dictator from becoming crowned Emperor by using the Crucifixion Crown of Thorns.

When their effort fails to prevent the coronation, the married couple returns to England. Gage stops in Walmer Castle where he joins Sidney Smith, inventors Robert Fulton and William Congreve, and smuggler Tom Johnstone to keep Napoleon from invading England. This escapade soon leads Gage to the Battle of Trafalgar.

The latest Ethan Gage Napoleonic Era thriller (see The Barbary Pirates) is an exciting over the top of the Admiral Nelson Statue and column in Trafalgar Square (built decades after the famous battle). The storyline is fast-paced though the hero’s swashbuckling role seems diminished as he is less actively involved than usual with him on the sidelines for the most part during the coronation. Still fans will enjoy this engaging mix of history and action as The Barbed Crown is an enjoyable early nineteenth century tale.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, May 10, 2013

The Jericho Deception-Jeffrey Small

The Jericho Deception

Jeffrey Small

West Hills Press, Apr 30 2013, $15.95

ISBN: 9781933512440

Dr. Ethan Lightman and Professor Elijah Schiff hypothesize that the brain’s left temporal lobe creates religious phenomena. The Yale University pair builds Logos to test their theory. The

“God Machine” as they call Logos emits electrical pulses into the part of the brain that Lightman and Schiff believe control religious thought especially extremist behavior. The Neurological Advancement Foundation’s Dr. Allen Wolfe funds the project.

Not long after Wolfe provides the money, someone murders Schiff and kidnaps grad student Rachel Riley. Ethan ends up in Egypt where he learns that a Dr. Wolfe, working for the CIA, has deployed Project Jericho using a Logos “clone” to convert Muslims into Christians and end seemingly eternal religious conflict.

The Jericho Deception is a super thriller in which the real scientific research is so compelling, at times overwhelms the action scenes. The cast is solid but it is the references to real experiments that bring a sense of genuineness to this exhilarating tale. Readers will enjoy this taut religious suspense while looking up those factual entities that make Jeffrey Small’s saga superbly fresh.

Harriet Klausner

Deadly Harvest-Michael Stanley

Deadly Harvest

Michael Stanley

Bourbon Street/Harper, Apr 30 2013, $14.99

ISBN: 9780062221520

Botswana Criminal Investigation Department assigns Police Detective Samantha Khama to work a four-month old cold case; the disappearance of ten year old orphan Lesego Betse. The first CID female detective Samantha concludes a witch doctor killed the female to harvest her human remains as key ingredients in Muti medicine.

When another young girl vanishes, CID Assistant Superintendent David “Kubu” Bengu joins Samantha on her investigation as the cold case has become hot. As two cops investigate serial killings tied to Muti, an irate father of one of the victims plans a vengeance murder of a politician who may be using a witch doctor’s Muti.

The fourth Detective Kubu police procedural (see Death of the Mantis) is a great gritty investigative thriller that contrasts modern Botswana with its long standing heritage of witch doctors. Adding depth to the storyline is introducing the first female detective who expects to face sexism in spite of her deft handling of the case. Readers will relish this tense suspense as team Michael Stanley provides a super Botswana investigation.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The Roots Of Betrayal-James Forrester

The Roots Of Betrayal

James Forrester

Sourcebooks, May 7 2013, $14.99

ISBN: 9781402272691

In 1564, William “Clarenceux” Harley detests being the keeper of the “Catholic Treasure” document as possession is not conducive to a long happy life span researching coat of arms by the warmth of a fire with his family. Queen Elizabeth’s advisor Sir William Cecil entrusted him to safeguard the document so the devoted Catholic herald will do what it takes to keep it secure. Clarenceux understands the significance of what he watches as religious civil war between the Catholics supporting Mary, the Protestants deeming the Pope is the Antichrist, and the compromised Church of England straddling both camps seems probable; with what Harley diligently protects as a fire-starter in the wrong hand.

However, in spite of his efforts, someone steals the Catholic Treasure as betrayal is everywhere. As Clarenceux faces harsh incarceration, stink and torture, he remains steadfast in pursuit of what he lost with his worst adventures on the pirate ship the Davy captained by atheist Raw Carew.

The second sequel Clarenceux historical thriller (see Sacred Treasure) is a powerful action-packed Elizabethan era tale in which gore, filth and violence are as normal as mutton pie (modifying H. Rap Brown quote); combat was a bloody endeavor but so was living in the Reformation Era. Definitely not for anyone with a queasy stomach; James Forrester provides fans with an unromantic picture of mid sixteenth century England as not “the best of all possible worlds” as (Voltaire).

Harriet Klausner

Antiques Chop-Barbara Allan

Antiques Chop

Barbara Allan

Kensington, Apr 30 2013, $24.00

ISBN 9780758263629

Antique sellers and amateur sleuths, Vivian and Brandy Bourne are starring in a new reality TV show the Antique Sleuths based on this the adventures of this mother and daughter duet. They are filming in Vivian’s hometown of Serenity, Iowa at an old house where a cold case axe murder of Archibald Butterworth occurred in 1950.

However, reality becomes too vivid when Brandy’s young son Jake proves he is a Bourne when he finds the corpse of producer Bruce Spring at the Butterworth house; the murder weapon is an ax. As the show must go on so the filming continues while Vivian and Brandy stealthily sleuth.

This Trash ’n’ Treasures mystery (see Antiques Knock-Off and Antiques Disposal) is an amusing whodunit as the third generation proves to be a Bourne with a nose for trouble. The jocular storyline is fun but the inserted directional commentary rather than wry humor distract from the plot. Still fans will enjoy this all in the family madcap antiques whodunit.

Harriet Klausner

Stolen-Daniel Palmer


Daniel Palmer

Kensington, Apr 30 2013, $25.00

ISBN 9780758246660

The three avid Massachusetts mountain climbers are working the West Ridge in Tibet when an avalanche sends David Clegg and Brooks Hall over the side. The third climber John Bodine quickly realizes he cannot save both men; failing to cut one of their attached lines means all three die. He must choose between Brooks married with no kids and David married with two kids. Twenty-nine years old John knows he will hear the scream for the rest of his life.

Several years later, the love of John’s life, his wife Ruby suffers from late stage cancer, but the insurance company refuses to pay for the lifesaving expensive treatment; as it is not included in their plan. Desperate, John learns that Elliot Uretsky has the right insurance so he steals the man’s identity to pay for Ruby’s treatment. However, serial killer Uretsky orders Bodine to play his game or watch his beloved die while he remains behind bars for insurance fraud. John plays the dangerous contest until he says enough leading to his ruthless opponent killing people he cares about until he rejoins the game.

This is a taut thriller due to the three protagonists coming across as real even with a surreal triangular relationship. Readers will relish this tale as a ruthless Uretsky tests a desperate Bodine’s pledge to do anything to save his beloved.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Leaving Annalise-Pamela Fagan Hutchins

Leaving Annalise

Pamela Fagan Hutchins

SkipJack Publishing, Mar 15 2013, $5.95

ISBN: 9781939889010

Thirtyish attorney Katie Connell left Dallas for San Marcos after a melt down in court and her love life tanked (see Saving Grace). She has become a chanteuse singing with her partner Ava Butler and seeing owner-chef Bart while having her home, haunted by Annalise the jumbie, renovated. However, she ends her relationship with Bart when the love of her life private investigator Nick Kovacs arrives from Dallas to explain what happened. Nick says he protected his sister Teresa and his infant nephew Taylor from the lad’s violent father Derek.

Nick returns to the States to keep Taylor safe while Teresa attends college. However, obsessed Bart stalks Katie on San Marcos; and Derek goes after Teresa and Nick in his obsession for custody of his son. Soon murders occur at both locations.

The second Katie and Annalise thriller (see Saving Grace) starts somewhat slow as readers meet the cast, but once the stalking begins in earnest, the engaging storyline accelerates into a taut suspense. With a touch of the jumbie adding a distinct flavor to the mix and the romance perfectly kept on the backburner while dealing with predatory psychopaths, fans will enjoy Leaving Annalise.

Harriet Klausner

Dangerous Refuge-Elizabeth Lowell

Dangerous Refuge

Elizabeth Lowell

Morrow, Apr 9 2013, $26.99

ISBN: 9780062132710

When Uncle Lorne Davis died, LAPD homicide detective Tanner Davis returns to the family ranch in Refuge, Nevada to settle the estate. However, Tanner quickly becomes suspicious of the cause of his late relative’s death as increasingly he believes someone murdered Uncle Lorne and he uncovers several suspects with motives.

One of those who had reason for murdering his uncle is historical heritage protector Shaye Townsend. To their chagrin, each feels a heat hotter than a Nevada desert summer for the other. As they agree to jointly investigate what happened to his Uncle Lorne, they also share intense love-making; but neither wants to acknowledge that love is the impetus. That changes when the diabolical killer goes after Shaye as Tanner willingly risks his life to keep his beloved safe.

Although as much a romance as a mystery, readers will enjoy this exhilarating suspense thriller especially the fabulous climax in deserted Sierra Nevada mines. Fast-paced though Dangerous Refuge never deviates from the expected romantic suspense path, readers will appreciate Elizabeth Lowell’s entertaining tale.

Harriet Klausner

Daddy’s Gone A Hunting-Mary Higgins Clark

Daddy’s Gone A Hunting

Mary Higgins Clark

Simon & Schuster, Apr 9 2013, $26.99

ISBN: 9781451668940

Retired Gus Schmidt meets CPA Kate Connolly at four thirty in the morning at her family-owned Connelly Fine Antique Reproductions in Long Island City; where he once worked. An explosion leaves Gus dead and Kate unconscious. While Kate lies comatose and unable to defend herself, rumors abound as to why she met with a former employee before the place was open.

Her sister, fashion designer Hannah, wants the truth, which she believes will exonerate her sibling. Clues lead to the disappearance almost three decades ago of an aspiring actress from Illinois whose attorney brother has just moved to the city and to a two years old cold case murder of a Barnard student.

Readers who can ignore the quadrillion happenchance plot forwarding moments will enjoy this suspenseful tale; as Hannah, bungling her amateur sleuthing endeavor, brings tension to the entertaining storyline; more than the villain and the felonious few abetting the culprit. Though not one of Mary Higgins Clark’s stronger thrillers, fans of the author will want to know what is going on in this exciting mystery.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, April 15, 2013

Chihuahua Confidential-Waverly Curtis

Chihuahua Confidential

Waverly Curtis

Kensington, Apr 2 2013, $7.99

ISBN: 9780758274960

Partners Geri Sullivan and Pepe the Chihuahua she rescued from the local pound drive from their home in Seattle to Hollywood as contestants on Dancing With the Dogs. Geri, used to Pepe never shutting up, listens to her canine friend tell her about his time living in Southern California as a pampered pet of starlet Caprice Kennedy.

Pepe expects to win the dance contest if Geri can keep up with his steps. However, when they go on stage, they are greeted by one of the three judges being dead. A second corpse follows and several canines vanish. While the Washingtonian duo dances together, they also investigate the murders and dognapping.

The latest Barking Detective mystery (see Dial C For Chihuahua) is a lighthearted engaging whodunit as the reality show humor provides a fun counterbalance to the homicides and canine abductions. Readers will appreciate Pepe’s antics as he seems to have a nose for trouble that match paw to hand to the stratospheric levels of tsuris attained by Geri’s boss, private investigator Jimmy G.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, April 8, 2013

The Kill Room-Jeffrey Deaver

The Kill Room

Jeffrey Deaver

Grand Central, Jun 4, 2013, $28.00

ISBN: 9781455517060

In the Bahamas, a sniper kills American citizen Roberto Moreno who has been a major critic of the States in what appears is a sanctioned government assassination by the National Intelligence and Operations Service (NIOS) director Shreve Metzger issuing a Special Task Order. An investigative panel looks into the implications of the murder of this anti-government American on foreign soil. The team includes wheelchair bound forensics expert Lincoln Rhyme and his partner Amelia Sachs.

Rhyme goes to the murder scene seeking the sniper and to look over firsthand the evidence; while Sachs remains in Manhattan to look at what the victim did while in New York and the use of STOs by the NIOS (and other agencies that raise moral questions about the killing of an American by the government. Several other people work the case from the methodical erasing of all related evidence; with one person going the extra kilometer by eradicating witnesses and moving Rhyme and Sachs to the top of his elimination to do list.

The latest Rhyme-Sachs investigative thriller (see The Burning Wire and The Broken Window) is a great relevant entry with debates in DC over whether killing a U.S. citizen on foreign soil is acceptable as part of the war against terrorists. The gripping storyline is filled with action leading to readers anticipating the final confrontation between an amoral killing patriot and the forensic duet after the trio competed in a lethal intelligent contest throughout the super plot.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, April 6, 2013

If You Were Here-Alafair Burke

If You Were Here

Alafair Burke

Harper, Jun 4 2013, $25.99

ISBN 9780062208354

High school star baseball player Nicky Cervantes supplements his mom’s income by stealing cell phones. When he takes an IPhone from a woman, she kicks off her shoes and pursues him. Instead of out running her, the female gains ground on Nicky until she catches him. He stumbles onto the tracks with a train coming. The woman grabs him and tosses him back on the platform; picks up her phone and runs away. Another rider catches the whole incident on a cellphone. The media goes crazy trying to identify Superwoman, but though the video is grainy, NYC Magazine writer McKenna Jordan believes she is her friend West Point alumni Susan Hauptmann; who died a decade ago.

As the reporter searches for the woman she thinks is Susan; she also recalls the other terrible incident just prior to Hauptmann vanishing. When McKenna was a Manhattan ADA probing a cop shooting of a teenager, she concluded the victim was unarmed. Her accusation led to her career dying. When her copy of the Superwoman video is stolen from her computer, McKenna expands her search for Hauptmann to also relook at the case that exiled her from the legal system as this reminds her of what happened back then as once gain she risks her career and this time her marriage.

If You Were here is an exciting investigative thriller that grips readers from the onset. Fast-paced, the key to the entertaining storyline is Hauptmann and Jordan come across as real though some of the protagonist’s decisions seem plausible but dangerously foolish. Readers will enjoy this super thriller wondering what happened to cause Hauptmann to disappear and whether Jordan reaches too far in seeking the truth.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, April 5, 2013

The Truth Of All Things-Kieran Shields

The Truth Of All Things

Kieran Shields

Broadway/Crown, Feb 5 2013, $15.00

ISBN: 9780307720290

In 1892 Portland, Maine, someone mutilates and murders prostitute Maggie Keene in what looks like a ritual killing as the corpse contains clues about witches in the Abenaki language. Deputy Marshal Archie Lean enlists the help of Dr. Virgil Steig who turns to his former student hybrid Abenaki-Caucasian Pinkerton criminalist Perceval Grey to assist law enforcement in solving the homicide.

With further insight from library assistant researcher Helen Prescott, Lean and Grey soon connect the brutal killing to the past: the seventeenth century Salem witch-hunt and two decades ago fire and deaths. More murders as brutal as that of Keene follow with Grey applying the new forensic science concepts to the crime scene.

This is a fabulous historical police procedural that enables armchair readers to believe they are in late nineteenth century Portland due to the vivid early descriptions of single (Grey and Prescott) and family (Lean) life in that era; though at times the abundance of detail slows down the pacing. The Salem Trials come across as frighteningly macabre yet intriguing; adding depth to a strong investigative collaborative whodunit.

Harriet Klausner

Evidence Of Life-Barbara Taylor Sissel

Evidence Of Life

Barbara Taylor Sissel

Mira, Mar 26 2013, $14.95

ISBN: 9780778315162

In Texas Hill country, Nick Bennett and his daughter Lindsay leave on a weekend camping trip while his wife Abby and their son Jake stay home. Abby looks forward to alone time; while Jake studies for his finals.

A frightened Lindsay calls from a gas station bathroom telling her mom that her dad was acting strange as they took the scenic route, but the connection ends. Concerned Abby watches the Weather Channel reporting that the Guadalupe River and smaller waterways were flooding at historic levels leaving road conditions extremely hazardous. When her two loved ones fail to surface over the next few months, everyone including her mom and her BFF Kate sympathizes with Abby who refuses to believe they drowned. As she diligently searches for her spouse and child while her family and friends plead with her to accept the truth that they died, Abby begins uncovering damaging evidence about Nick that makes her fear she and Jake are in peril.

Evidence Of Life is a leisurely-paced, taut family drama starring a woman who initially seems unhinged by the lack of closure as she refuses to give up her quest even as she uncovers clues that shake her equilibrium further. Fans will enjoy this suspenseful thriller while wondering what Abby will find; if anything, conclusive.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Dirty Little Secret-Jon Stock

Dirty Little Secret

Jon Stock

Dunne, Mar 26 2013, $26.99

ISBN: 9780312644789

After the tersest strategic bombings including one that devastated the oceanic data cable between MI6 and the CIA, each espionage agency considers the other incompetent or worse filled with traitors. The Americans especially distrust M-16 renegade operative Daniel Marchant as the Yanks believe he abetted his half-brother Salim Dhar with his escape and perhaps the explosions too as the latter led the terrorist attacks on British soil.

Meanwhile Marchant hunts and catches up to Dhar with him in the Persian Gulf where he teams with Iranians to destroy an U.S. aircraft carrier. Dhar offers him and his agency a deal to cooperate in preventing future attacks on Great Britain in exchange for Marchant’s help with a major assault on the United States.

The latest Daniel Marchant espionage thriller (Dead Spy Running and Games Traitors Play) is an action-packed tale. The storyline somewhat focuses on the patriotic question of whether Stephen Decatur (“Our Country! In her intercourse with foreign nations may she always be in the right; but right or wrong, our country!”) or Carl Shultz (“My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right.”) is right. Although the adrenaline pumping storyline is fun to follow, the non-stop action also reduces the deep impact of the philosophical issue of at all cost sacrificing another country’s innocent to protect your nation’s people.

Harriet Klausner

'Til Death-Sharon Sala

'Til Death

Sharon Sala

Mira, Mar 26 2013, $7.99

ISBN: 9780778314271

Two decades ago, Lincoln Fox was convicted of the arson that killed his father. During his trial and for the next twenty years, Linc swore the government incarcerated the wrong person. He vowed to one day come home to Rebel Ridge, Kentucky to investigate and identify who destroyed his life.

A near fatal accident sends Linc to his Appalachia hometown in search of the truth. When a blizzard leads to Meg Walker crashing her car, Linc comes to her aid. He realizes that he still loves his high school girlfriend and remembers she always believed he did not set that fire. However, those behind what happened then prefer the truth remain buried; so to insure nothing changes, they abduct Meg and dump her high on the frozen mountains to die.

The final tale in the Walker sisters’ Rebel Ridge trilogy (see Next of Kin and Don’t Cry For Me) starts slow as the players are introduced, but accelerates into a fabulous fast-paced romantic suspense. Readers root for Linc and Meg to make it together; but understand any vows of love may be short as ‘Til Death do us part could be any moment in a “Town Without Pity” (directed by Gottfried Reinhardt).


Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Golden Egg-Donna Leon

The Golden Egg

Donna Leon

Atlantic Monthly, Mar 26 2013, $24.00

ISBN 9780802121011

Venetian Commissario Guido Brunetti’s ambitious boss Vice-Questore Patta requests the police inspector look into alleged violations of public vending laws by the partner of the mayor’s future daughter-in-law. Brunetti understands that it is a request poorly disguising an order, and his inquiry has nothing to do with the law and all to do with reputations of political animals. He knows that the local bureaucracy works on bribery and blood ties so he turns to his subordinate Pucetti whose uncle and cousin has the information Patta and the mayor wants.

At home, Brunetti’s caring wife Paola requests her husband the police inspector look into the sleeping pill overdose death of simple minded and deaf Davide Cavanella. Brunetti understands that it is a request made from the heart. He questions Davide’s mother, but she refuses to answer him. His search into the deceased’s background proves confusing as the government does not recognize that a Davide Cavanella ever existed; as there is no birth certificate, passport or any official document in that name. Even more stunning no medical records exist either in spite of the man’s disabilities.

The latest Commissario Guido Brunetti police procedural (see Beastly Things) contains two insightful investigations that enable the reader to see deep into the soul of Venice; as corruption and nepotism are just below the surface of the historical architecture, restaurants and canals. The Patta inquiry contrasts with that of Cavanella as even the motives of the respective requesters differ. Series fans will relish this strong Italian mystery while wondering who Davide was.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, April 1, 2013

The Guilty One-Lisa Ballantyne

The Guilty One

Lisa Ballantyne

Morrow, Mar 19 2013, $14.99

ISBN: 9780062195517

In London, the Islington Police arrests eleven year old Sebastian Croll for the beating death of his neighbor eight year old Ben Stokes in Barnard Park. Juvenile law solicitor Daniel Hunter defends the accused youth.

To mount a reasonable defense, Daniel investigates Sebastian’s life, which increasingly reminds the lawyer of his own troubled past as the child of a drug addicted single mom, which led to foster care until Minnie Flynn took him. Sebastian loves and hates Minnie Flynn who saved his life but also he believes destroyed his soul.

This is an exciting psychological legal procedural as readers wonder whether Daniel’s childhood prevents him from truly seeing Sebastian the violent monster or enables him to see Sebastian the hurting tweener. Though the numerous support cast can be overwhelming and the trial climax interrupted by the past, rotating between the solicitor’s salad days with Minnie and the present day trial. Fans will appreciate the blending of a psychological thriller with a British legal procedural. Daniel, Minnie and Sebastian put a face on government austerity lock them up and throw away the key mentality.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Paris Affair-Teresa Grant

The Paris Affair

Teresa Grant

Kensington, Mar 26 2013, $15.00

ISBN 9780758283931

Two months have passed since Napoleon was defeated at Waterloo and chaos remains the order of the day as the restored Ultra-Royalists cleanse anyone with Bonaparte ties in a new wave of terror. Ironically the Emperor’s Foreign Minister Talleyrand (and now the Prime Minister) and Minister of Police Fouch survive the Bourbon restoration fervor.

At the Trois Amis Tavern in Paris, British Attaché Malcolm Rannoch and his wife Suzanne meet frightened French double agent Antoine, Comte de Rivère. While Suzanne distracts the other patrons, fearing Bourbon cleansing, Antoine demands Malcolm sneak him out of the country into England with a pension and two homes or he will expose a secret that the Duke of Wellington would pay anything to keep buried. Suddenly a brawl breaks out and during the melee, someone kills the Comte. At the British Embassy, the Rannoch couple reports to the Duke what transpired; as the espionage agents believe someone purposely silenced Antoine. The British war hero orders Malcolm and Suzanne to investigate and learn what Antoine believed would take him to England.

The third Rannoch Regency mystery is a terrific thriller as Teresa Grant deftly provides a spotlight on the aftermath of Napoleon’s defeat. The investigation is super as the “we spy couple” looks into the homicide to try to learn what Antoine’s ticket was; while also providing the audience with a tour of dangerous Paris after the fall and restoration.

Harriet Klausner

Killer Honeymoon-G.A. McKevett

Killer Honeymoon

G.A. McKevett

Kensington, Mar 26 2013, $24.00

ISBN 9780758276513

When her family camped in her San Carmelita, California house for her wedding, private investigator Savannah Reid and her husband, Police Detective Sergeant Dirk Coulter decamp twenty-four miles away for a honeymoon on Santa Tesla Island. After an evening of bliss in a dumpy motel selected by Dirk, they relocate to a pre-Civil War cottage near the Santa Tesla Lighthouse arranged by her close friends and Moonlight Magnolia Detective Agency associates, Ryan Stone and John Gibson.

While looking out from the top of the lighthouse, Savannah sees a woman running on the beach, but not as if she was jogging. The pair goes to see if the runner needs help when they hear her scream followed by gunshots. As TV newscaster Amelia Northrop dies, she says the name William; her husband is land developer William Northrop. Island police chief Charlotte La Cross acts uninterested in solving the homicide while Savannah’s crew including partners Stone and Gibson, and Moonlight Magnolia Detective Agency’s Tammy Hart; as well Granny Reid Waycross join the Killer Honeymoon.

The latest Savannah Reid mystery (see Buried in Buttercream) is a humorous cozy that readers will appreciate with its dirt poor Georgia wit clashing with Southern California sensitivities. Fast-paced and loaded with jocularity, sub-genre fans will learn what series readers expect from G.A. McKevett when it comes to Savannah. The whodunit is excitingly clever but it is the repertoire between the cast that make for an entertaining investigation.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, March 28, 2013

You & I, Me & You-MaryJanice Davidson

You & I, Me & You

MaryJanice Davidson

St. Martin's, Mar 19 2013, $24.99

ISBN: 9780312531195

In Minneapolis FBI Bureau of False Flags Ops (BOFFO) Special Agent Cadence Jones lives with her boyfriend Patrick; as do her sisters, Shiro and Adrienne. The siblings are unhappy with Patrick in their lives, but accept reality that, except when either Shiro or Adrienne take control of Cadence’s body they cohabitate, they have no choice. Whenever Cadence regains control of her body from those horrid moments one of her sisters takes over, she miserably cleans the mess they leave her with.

In spite of Patrick in their lives, since the three sisters met gorgeous Dr. Gallo, they compete for the lead role as each are fascinated by the eerie hunk. As they work out the convoluted relationships, Cadence (abetted by her sisters) and her partner sociopath George Pinkham confront in a return engagement serial murdering Threefer Killer (see Me, Myself And Why).

The third Jones sisters FBI police procedural (see Yours, Mine, And Ours) continues the over the top of Deming Heights Park zany dark humorous police procedural; as MaryJanice Davidson once gain lampoons society’s convenient cataloguing people to fit inside a file drawer. Readers will enjoy this madcap Minnesota mystery as the multiple personality disorder field operative uses all three personalities to work the case while also causing havoc in relationships.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Dark Tide-Elizabeth Haynes

Dark Tide

Elizabeth Haynes

Harper, Mar 12 2013, $14.99

ISBN 9780062197337

Genevieve Shipley worked two lucrative jobs in London. During the day, she was a successful software saleswoman; at night she made much more money as a pole dancer at the exclusive Barclay Club. When Genevieve attained her monetary goal, she quit both positions and the city to relocate in Kent living on the Revenge, a houseboat.

However, her idyllic retirement turns ugly during her first boat party when her friend from her dancing gig days Caddy is found floating dead in the water near Genevieve’s houseboat. Distraught and filled with guilt because the stunned Genevieve believes she was the intended victim as she assumes the motive for murder traces to a package she holds for Dylan the Barclay bouncer who has vanished and not responded to her texting.

When Dark Tide focuses on the package, the storyline is an exciting psychological thriller that grips readers with a need to know what is inside the box that led to a homicide and imperils the protagonist. When the plot spotlights pole and lap dancing (flashbacks) and houseboat repair it feels padded with extraneous information. Still the heroine engages the audience with her youthful conquers the world attitude leading to foolish missteps Into the Darkest Corner of society.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Silenced-Kristina Ohlsson


Kristina Ohlsson

Atria/Emily Bestler Books, Mar 5 2013, $25.00

ISBN: 9781439198902

In 2008 in Stockholm, Alex Recht leads his team (pregnant Fredrika Bergman, sexist Peder Rydh and newbie Joar Shalin) in two investigations, They look into the deaths of immigrant rights activist Vicar Jakob Ahlbin and his wife Marja in what looks like a murder-suicide probably brought on the by the death of a daughter. Additionally the unit conducts an inquiry into a hit and run vehicular homicide of a person with no identification except notes in Arabic.

As they work the seemingly separate cases, the police find links to human trafficking and an unreported assault of a teen in 1993. While Bergman tries to identify the unknown victim as no one filed a missing person’s report, Recht leads his subordinates scrutiny of Jakob’s activities protecting illegal immigrants in his home while also seeking the missing other daughter of the late Ahlbin couple.

When this engaging Swedish police procedural focuses on the cases and the related immigration debate, Silenced is a strong mystery; when the storyline centers on the respective personal lives of the three cops and one civilian, it loses steam as those subplots feel intrusive. Still, filled with betrayal and dark predatory practices, readers will appreciate this relevant look at the social and economic impacts of trafficking (especially the shocking glimpse into a Swede trapped in Thailand as her identification begins to vanish) and immigration.

Harriet Klausner

Zero Separation-Philip Donlay

Zero Separation

Philip Donlay

Oceanview, Mar 5 2013, $25.95

ISBN 9781608090686

As Michael Ross pilots the Eco-Watch’s Spirit of da Vinci Gulfstream IV to West Palm Beach, a nasty thunderstorm including a lightning strike causes an abrupt dive as a generator went out. Michael tells Donovan Nash that they need to make an emergency landing now at Boca Raton Airport. The pilot safely brings them to the ground.

Michael checks the plane for damage, but while doing so, someone assaults him. Injured he watches the thug steal a Gulfstream from the Boca Raton Airport. FBI Special Agent Veronica Montero believes that Donovan is the key to solving this hijacking and more important to her taking down the person responsible for the murder of her partner. She plans to use information she has on him from what he did twenty years ago that he wants kept secret to force him to help her. After several murders related to the stolen plane occur and the families of Donovan and Michael come under attack, Nash does not need blackmailing to work with the Fed.

The third Nash thriller (see Category Five and Code Black) is an exciting action-packed tale that has readers wondering what the ultimate objective of the killer and associates is. Nash is an interesting protagonist with a history he prefers buried and a tendency to fly into terrible storms. Although the support cast is from thriller central casting, readers will enjoy Nash teaming up with a blackmailing Fed against an amoral predator.

Harriet Klausner

The Family Way-Rhys Bowen

The Family Way

Rhys Bowen

Minotaur, Mar 5 2013, $24.99

ISBN: 9781250011633

In 1904 New York City, pregnant Molly promised her husband police captain Daniel Sullivan that she will no longer sleuth though she has quite a success rate (see Hush Now, Don’t You Cry and Bless The Bride). Bored and irritable from the overbearing summer heat and her overbearing husband, Molly receives a letter from a Mrs. O’Byrne of Ireland asking if sir or madam could look into what happened to her niece Maureen O’Byrne who failed to send a Christmas card. The note further stated she crossed the Atlantic last year and got a good servant job with the Mainwaring family.

Molly deems asking a few questions about Maureen will not break her pledge to her overly-protective husband. When she witnesses a baby kidnapping and learns of several other infant abductions, Daniel, who is working that case, demands she stay in cooler Westchester at his parents’ home. She acquiesces to exile since Molly knows the Mainwaring brood lives in that county. At the same time she runs into her outlawed by the English sibling Liam, who’s illegally in the States on a Brotherhood Irish independence mission. In Westchester, Molly, with help from her Manhattan neighbors, continues her detecting work.

The latest Molly Murphy historical mystery is a delightful early twentieth century investigative tale starring the unsinkable 5-6 months pregnant protagonist at her courageous best. Readers will feel the sweltering heat of the city compounded by the tenements and the relatively cooler burb to the north. Action-packed, fans will enjoy aptly titled The Family Way.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, March 15, 2013

Room No. 10-Åke Edwardson, Rachel Willson-Broyles (translator)

Room No. 10

Åke Edwardson, Rachel Willson-Broyles (translator)

Simon & Schuster, Mar 5 2013, $25.99

ISBN 9781451608526

In Gothenburg, Sweden, the corpse of twenty-nine year old Paula Ney is found hanging in Room No. 10 of a dive, the Hotel Revy. Although an enigmatic suicide note is nearby, police Chief Inspector Erik Winter knows this was a homicide.

Winter recalls working with Detective Inspector Fredrik Halders on a disappearance case in the same hotel almost two decades ago. Twenty-nine year old Ellen Börge vanished from the same Room No. 10, but that case remains cold. As he conducts his inquiry into the Ney murder, Winter also thinks back to the unsolved Börge disappearance.

The latest Chief Inspector Erik Winter Swedish police procedural (see Sail of Stone) is an intriguing psychological mystery that grips readers who prefer a more conversational cerebral whodunit as the action is tepid at best and the clues reanalyzed several times. This technique adds a sense of reality to the engaging storyline but can at times become tedious. Still sub-genre fans will want to know what is going on in Room No. 10.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Bull Slayer-Bruce Macbain

The Bull Slayer

Bruce Macbain

Poisoned Pen, Mar 5 2013, $24.95

ISBN: 9781464201080

In the tenth regnal year of his reign, Emperor Trajanus Augustus assigns fiftyish Gaius Plinius Caecilius Secundus to the post of governor of Bithynia-Pontus province. The ruler orders Pliny the Younger (as Secundus is called by many) to eradicate the corruption using any means necessary in a place where Romans were slaughtered a century ago.

Pliny and his retinue are greeted by the province’s fiscal procurator, Marcus Vibius Balbus, who has ruled Bithynia-Pontus with absolute authority by controlling the purse strings and terrorizing governors. Ignoring the not veiled threat Pliny interrogates an angry Balbus. As they settle into a siege mentality Pliny, his staff and family find the Greeklings hostile especially since his mission angers the affluent like Diocles the Golden Mouth who he needs to succeed. When Balbus vanishes, Pliny leads the inquiry while the irate citizens seem verging on overt assaults on the outsiders.

The second Plinius Secundus Ancient Rome historical (see Roman Games) is an engaging thriller in which the protagonist’s personal life and relationships with his loving eccentric wife Calpurnia and his staff (especially Zosimus and Suetonious) supersedes (and overwhelms) the whodunit. Loaded with tidbits about life at the beginning of the second century AD in Bithynia-Pontus, fans who appreciate a sense of being there to see family dynamics will enjoy The Bull Slayer even though the whodunit rarely takes top billing.

Harriet Klausner