Thursday, February 28, 2013

Murder By Chance-Pat Dennis

Murder By Chance

Pat Dennis

Forty Press, Mar 1 2013, $16.95

ISBN: 9781938473043

As the snow piles up, Take A Chance Tours arrives late to the Moose Lake Bay Resort and Casino in northern Minnesota. Most of the surely elderly passengers run off the coach to the slot machines while owner Betty Chance and bus driver Tillie McFinn realize one of their forty-four attendees failed to take a coupon book. They search for a sleeping senior only instead Tillie finds the corpse of 350 pounds Mr. Farsi with a knife protruding from his back inside a locked bathroom.

Sheriff Severson leads the investigation in which he suspects ex-con Tillie killed the victim. With the help of Tillie, security casino Tom Songbird and gambling addict Lori the CPA who rushed from Chicago to be there for her beloved aunt, Betty using skills as the ex-wife of a CPD homicide detective begins her own inquiry.

This is a lighthearted amateur sleuth starring a spunky fiftyish overweight heroine and her fascinating sidekicks. Fast-paced as the lead character deals with the mentalist performer, irate clients ready to sue over a progressive slot $13 million lost opportunity, loss of the coach due to being a crime scene, the Buffet Betty blog or the murder, fans will enjoy taking a chance on Pat Dennis’s fun mystery.

Harriet Klausner

Angel’s Gate-P.G. Sturges

Angel’s Gate

P.G. Sturges

Scribner, Feb 26 2013, $27.00

ISBN 9781476712970

In Los Angeles, former cop and now a fixer, Dick “The Shortcut Man” Henry works odd cases using any means including peeing on a barred lawyer’s plant to obtain satisfaction for his clients and a fee for services for him. Producer Melvin Shea supplies cocaine and wannabe actresses like Rhonda Carling to Ivanhoe Studios chief Howard Hogue. Vicious Director Eli Navaria thrives in this den of inequity where he can get away with abusing women. Meanwhile Ex-marine Devi Stanton watches over the young starlets as the housemother. She needs help with a nasty situation so turns to the Shortcut Man to clean the mess.

Ellen Arden has not heard from her sister in years. She hires the Shortcut Man to find her missing sibling. The cases intertwine with a questionable death on a boat several years ago.

The latest Shortcut Man caper (see The Tribulations of the Shortcut Man) is an enjoyable Hollywood studio system satire. The engaging storyline is fast-paced with plenty of humor (including some gross smelly slapstick) yet with a serious undertone involving the abuse of power of the naïve ambitious and those in charge deem that satisfying.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, February 25, 2013

Seal Team Six: Hunt The Scorpion-Don Mann and Ralph Pezzullo

Seal Team Six: Hunt The Scorpion

Don Mann and Ralph Pezzullo

Mulholland Books/Little Brown, Feb 19 2013, $25.99

ISBN: 9780316209601

Thirty-five miles off the coast of East Africa in a busy sea lane frequented by foreign vessels, prates hijack the MSC Contessa as the ship headed to the Island of Suqutra. Captain Jake McCullom feels guilt for bringing his wife Tanya on this voyage because he concealed the dangerous risk from her.

SEAL Team Six assault leader Warrant Officer Thomas Crocker and his unit who wait for the CIA sent drone in the middle of al-Qaeda held territory in South Yemen when the mission is abruptly aborted. They were contacted and flown to the USS Carl Vinson where he learns his new mission has higher need to know priority. Pirates captured the MSC Contessa, which contained yellowcake as part of the cargo. Securing this war grade uranium before terrorists obtain it has become their task; rescuing the hostages is acceptable as long as that does not impede their obtaining the radioactive material.

The latest Seal Team Six thriller (see Hunt The Wolf) is an exciting action-packed tale from the opening hijacking to the final confrontation. Though incredibly fast-paced, readers also obtain a deep look at how complex and convoluted (outside of Congressional sound bite hearings) foreign policy is even working with allies. Fans of high octane thrillers will enjoy this Seal team Six adventures as plausibility coming from political considerations interfering with mission accomplished and blood flowing from the heroes make for an enjoyable adrenaline ride.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Death, Taxes and Peach Sangria-Diane Kelly

Death, Taxes and Peach Sangria

Diane Kelly

St. Martin's, Jan 29 2013, $7.99

ISBN: 9781250023063

Treasury Department Criminal Investigation Team field operatives Tara Holloway and Eddie Bardin share a great partnership though they are total opposites. He is a married suburban dad who knows the difference between a metaphor and a simile, and a near extinct African-American Republican; she is a single white inner city woman who is the one person education left behind. However, when it comes to catching tax cheats, they are the best (see Death, Taxes, and a Skinny No-Whip Latte; and Death, Taxes, and a French Manicure).

Tara toasts the destruction of the “Deduction Diva” especially after the cheat kneed Eddie so that his wife will be celibate for a while. The remaining three frauds involve a retired incompetent IRS auditor the “Tax Wizard”, and the owners of Beauregard Financial services and Bulls-eye Taxidermy and Tax Processing. At the office, her associates look for love at the online Big D Dating Service. She can deal with her boss “The Lobo” and the virgin Josh going on line for a date, but not her secret attraction for bad-ass Senior Special Agent Nick Pratt even if she has Brett in her life. Eddie and Tara are assigned to the most dangerous death and taxes case yet; working with CIA agents Zardooz and Wang to take down the financiers of terrorists.

The latest Tara Holloway Death and Taxes thriller is an engaging suspense with the heroine’s asides adding humor. The storyline is fast-paced while the CIT officials bring depth and jocularity to the mix. Fans will enjoy the antics of the fastest gun in the IRS as she deals with terrorists, ball-busters and obtaining a perfect Peach Sangria.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Targets Of Revenge-Jeffrey S. Stephens

Targets Of Revenge

Jeffrey S. Stephens

Gallery, Feb 19 2013, $26.00

ISBN: 9781451688726

CIA field operative Jordan Sandor ignores the warning of his superiors to forget Venezuelan terrorist Adina, who escaped his previous attempt to end this psychopath’s reign of indiscriminate mass murdering (see Targets of Opportunity). He deploys a hand-picked team to destroy Adina’s cell and kill this maniac.

Sandor glides into the Venezuelan jungle with plans to assassinate Adina. However, though he thirst for vengeance as one of Adina’s victim was a close friend, Sandor changes his mission once he obtains facts on the ground after breaching the terrorist’s camp. Adina is not just processing cocaine for the world markets, he is manufacturing anthrax. Killing the abomination may not thwart his unknown evil scheme. Contacting his agency’s bureaucratic leaders, Sandor convinces them to set up a counter-operation to prevent Adina from deploying his latest evil. As he globetrots, Sandor finds his adversary has allies inside the American and several foreign governments to probably include the CIA and INTERPOL.

The latest fast-paced Sandor entry (see Targets of Deception) is an exciting action-packed tale as the hero risks his life to save the innocent from an amoral maniac’s plan to cause a pandemic disaster. With a contemporary Rambo-like star moving forward the storyline at an incredible clip, fans of action-packed thrillers that never takes a respite will appreciate the rematch.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Three Graves Full-Jamie Mason

Three Graves Full

Jamie Mason

Gallery, Feb 12 2013, $24.99

ISBN 9781451685039

In Stillwater, Michigan a year and a half ago in a fit of rage, normally mild widower Jason Getty killed someone. Panicking, the office worker buried the body in the back yard. Since interring the corpse, he lives in fear of being caught as he expects the neighbor’s dog to dig up the bones though after crossing the first anniversary he logically knows the odds are statistically insignificant.

However, Jason also allowed his property to deteriorate during that same time. So to keep the complaints away, he hires Dearborn’s Landscaping to fix the front yard. Calvin the foreman and his two workers find a body buried there. Though not his haunting corpse Jason fears Detectives Tim Bayard and Ford Watts, who believe the previous owner placed the dead person under the ground, and Tessa the K9 will find another body; which they do, but once again not his.

Leah Tamblin never forgave her fiancé Reid Reynolds for running away with less than two weeks before their wedding. She needs to know if one of the dead is her Reid. The police identify Reid buried next to Katielynn Montgomery; her husband Boyd is the prime suspect.

Three Graves Full is a zany comedic twisting murder mystery as facts are not always facts when someone digs deep enough. The fully developed cast (including Tessa) makes for a fun tale as the players except for the brilliant dog seem to step in it.

Harriet Klausner

The Gin Lovers-Jamie Brenner

The Gin Lovers

Jamie Brenner

St. Martin's Griffin, Feb 12 2013, $14.99

ISBN: 9781250035936

“Gin Lovers 1.” Charlotte’s marriage to affluent William Delacorte provided her with an immediate entrance into New York high society. She wants her spouse to respect her so Charlotte tries to be his perfect (albeit bored) wife. However, when Mae, her sister-in-law, introduces her to the nightlife, she meets Jake Larkin, owner of a speakeasy where liquor, jazz and intimacy flow.

“The Gin Lovers 2: Little White Lies.” As Charlotte begins to uncover the dark side and secrets of her husband, she distrusts him, his family and his friends; leaving her kin and Jake as her only possible allies.

Told in six Gin Lovers’ parts (revealing anything else would be spoilers), readers will enjoy this episodic Prohibition Era drama as the period comes alive through the background of real persona like Duke Ellington. The engaging storyline is somewhat a soap opera as Charlotte grows emotionally due in part to her personal struggles between two men flawed by a dark side.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, February 15, 2013

The Next Time You See Me-Holly Goddard Jones

The Next Time You See Me

Holly Goddard Jones

Touchstone, Feb 12 2013, $24.99

ISBN: 9781451683363

In 1993 in Roma, Kentucky, Ronnie Eastman vanishes. No one blinks; as the townsfolk expected no less of troubled Ronnie addicted to drugs, alcohol and sex. The one exception is Ronnie’s married “Sister” with a young daughter Abby, middle school teacher Susanna Mitchell who wants to know what happened to her sibling. She detests the holier than thou attitude of Pendleton the cop, friends and family including her school band leader Dale. All assumes Ronnie got what she deserved.

Thirteen-year-old loner Emily Houchens prefers role playing in the woods rather than friends. When she stumbles across a corpse, Emily decides to tell no one. Near retirement mechanic Wyatt Powell knows what it is like to be an outsider, but recently fell in love though he feels underserving. Finally Tony the black police detective, who dreamed of playing in the majors, returns to Roma after being away briefly; he investigates the disappearance of Ronnie.

Although ostensibly a mystery re what happened to Ronnie; The Next Time You See Me is more a deep look into the powerful force of what happened to Ronnie on people impacted by her disappearance. The key to this entertaining fresh suspense is that the prime characters are fully developed with each having doubts about the lives they live. Readers will enjoy Holly Goddard Jones’ engaging tale of the profound effect on the intertwining relationships when the dynamics change as the gap caused by deletion must be refilled by something or someone.

Harriet Klausner

The Fifth Man-James LePore

The Fifth Man

James LePore

Story Plant, Feb 12 2013, $14.95

ISBN: 9781611880656

Almost a decade ago, attorney Chris Massi’s father, Mafia hit man Joe Black Massi, was murdered and soon afterward his mother succumbed to a heart attack. Divorced from his Mafia princess wife, Chris feared his teenage son chose the mob path of his late grandfather that he avoided; entry meant murder. Chris met with his ex-father-in-law the Don Junior Boy DiGiglio, who tells Chris to man up as an eye for an eye is his current legacy into the family business (see Sons and Princes).

Almost a decade later, Matt attends Columbia University. A letter arrives addressed to Mr. Massi, but sent to his mom’s previous New Jersey address stating that a bin at Wall Storage owned by his late Uncle Joseph, dead eight years, will be forfeited if not renewed within an hour; not sure what is inside he directs Anna Cavanagh to renew the storage cell in Jackson, New Jersey for six months. Soon afterward, he meets with Nico Pugach the Russian in Brighton Beach who not so subtly implies he knows the family business. Soon Matt will be embroiled in the theft of valuable diamonds, murders, Secretary of State Clinton in Prague, and threats to his sister Tess and dad; as he ends up on a lethal grand tour of Europe.

The Fifth Man is a fascinating action-packed international thriller as two “Mafias” collide with a diabolical terrorist plot in Europe. Fast-paced, the son is the prime player though the dad plays a key role. Readers will enjoy the somewhat convoluted but entertaining suspense as Tess learns no one even her dad the weapon is what they appear to be.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Phony Tinsel-Robert S. Levinson

Phony Tinsel

Robert S. Levinson

Five Star, Feb 6 2013, $25.95

ISBN 9781432826796

Wannabe screenwriter Charlie Dickens writes a script for Showdown at Shadow Creek. His agent Roy Balloon tried selling the script to the studios but all rejected it. After Balloon fires Dickens for his hitless batting average, the desperate author decides after seeing Cecil B. DeMille’s 1920s silent film The Ten Commandments he needs to produce his movie. As he invades the estate of the producer in the Hollywood Hills, he concludes this is like going to Heaven without dying.

However, Charlie enters the wrong mansion as he breaks into the home of producer Maxwell Moonglow. Greeting him in a sexy towel is Moonglow's wife actress Sarah Darling. Instead of concern about her uninvited guest, Sarah is used to lovers visiting her. Seductive, she persuades Charlie to execute her plan to kill Max in spite of the screenwriter struggling between two women sort of in his life. With nothing going right even Max’s filming his script seems ill-fated for key players, Charlie revises his muse to this is like going to Hell without dying.

This femme fatale 1930s twisting thriller is an enjoyable tale that will remind readers of Double Indemnity but with a comedic twist. The fast-paced lighthearted storyline is fun to read as Charlie navigates the Hollywood scene leaving behind corpses in his wake.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Hammett Unwritten-Owen Fitzstephen; notes and afterword by Gordon McAlpine

Hammett Unwritten

Owen Fitzstephen; notes and afterword by Gordon McAlpine

Prometheus/Seventh Street, Feb 12 2013, $13.95

ISBN 9781616147143

In New Year’s Eve 1959 on Long Island, ailing Dashiell Hammett holds a .38 and his own unfinished (and unpublished thanks to a recovery) New York Times obit from a few years ago ending with the unanswered question of why he stopped writing. In 1922, as a private investigator Hammett solved the Black Falcon murder mystery; ironically his last case as a gumshoe. He also married that same year but later divorced his wife as he began a decades-long affair with Lillian Hellman. At a police auction he bought the statuette that SFPD declared a worthless counterfeit. With the Falcon on his desk, Hammett began writing short stories and ultimately five hard boiled detective novels with his last one being The Thin Man in 1934 when the Black Falcon vanished; leaving behind the mystery of why he abruptly stopped writing. He surfaces in Hollywood and becomes a volunteer victim of McCarthy’s witch hunt.

Hammett Unwritten is a fresh meta-biographical fiction that brings to life the great mystery writer. The storyline cleverly blends known facts and real persona like Ms. Hellman and Senator McCarthy (at the hearings) with allegedly the real role models of key characters from the Maltese Falcon. Although the latter feels somewhat over the top of Nob Hill especially when the talisman seekers return years later into the Hammett’s life, the Black Falcon revisited makes for plenty of fun entertainment. Hammett fans will appreciate this bio-noir as Gordon McAlpine points out in his Afterward that 1920s mystery author and writer of this piece Owen Fitzstephen is the villain in the Dain Curse.

Harriet Klausner

The Devereaux Legacy-Carolyn Hart

The Devereaux Legacy

Carolyn Hart

Prometheus/Seventh Street, Feb 12 2013, $13.95

ISBN 9781616147044

In Rockport, Texas, Leah Devereaux Shaw buries her beloved grandma Louisa Abbot Shaw, the woman who raised her. However, Grandmother Shaw’s last letter and a much read magazine article stuns Leah who travels to Mefford, South Carolina where apparently her kin live. Her first stop in Mefford is the cemetery, which contains stones for her grandma, her parents and two years old Leah; all “lost at sea” when the New Star went down.

Leah heads to the family plantation that her grandma accompanied by baby Leah fled almost two decades ago. Her arrival is met by mixed emotions. Cousin Merrick Devereaux welcomes her; an extended family in-law Mrs. Leclerc warns her that the return of the Whispering Lady means death; cousins Cissy and John Edward Devereaux tell her to return to Texas or else; and her maternal grandmother Carrie Devereaux is stunned with a second chance to atone for her pride driving away her daughter in the 1960s. With a need to know why kind-hearted Grandmother Shaw vanished with her, Leah investigates while also attracted to Merrick.

This reprint of a 1986 Carolyn Hart romantic amateur sleuth is an entertaining tale that brings to life the author’s trademark Lowcountry setting (see the Death on Demand series). The cast is solid and the twists inside a taut suspense storyline plausible. Although the romance between the “kissing cousins” feels forced while supporting Ms. Hart’s Introduction’s contention on female mystery writing in the Reagan era, readers will enjoy this engaging “cold case” murder mystery.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, February 9, 2013

To Brie or Not To Brie-Avery Aames

To Brie or Not To Brie

Avery Aames

Berkley, Feb 5 2013, $7.99

ISBN: 9780425255544

In Providence, Ohio, Charlotte Bessette owns Fromagerie Bessette better known locally as The Cheese Shop. Carelessly she causes a grease fire in her kitchen because she was distracted by her delicious latest concoction. As usual, Charlotte has a lot going on as she and her fiancé Jordon Pace discuss marital plans; feed the cast performing in her grandmother’s production of Hamlet at the Providence Playhouse; cater the upcoming marriage between her best friend Meredith and her cousin Matthew; and create with the Igloo Ice Cream Parlor magician a Brie blueberry ice cream.

However, a new distraction pops up when the Tourist is found dead inside the Igloo Ice Cream Parlor cooler. The murder weapon is a carton of Brie blueberry ice cream. Police Chief Urso leads the investigation, but Charlotte identifies the corpse as Giacomo Capriotti, estranged abusive husband of Jacky Peterson; the only suspect. Charlotte conducts her own inquiry starting with who notified the New Jersey resident that his missing wife had become a Buckeye.

The latest Cheese Shop cozy (see Clobbered by Camembert, The Long Quiche Goodbye and Lost In Fondue) is an engaging murder mystery starring a courageous amateur sleuth. Though at times comedic, the female support cast too frequently acts more like WrestleMania participants with their back and forth shrilling rather than small Ohio townsfolk. Still series fans will enjoy murder by cheese ice cream as the Bard arrives in Providence.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Night Moves-Randy Wayne White

Night Moves

Randy Wayne White

Putnam, Mar 5 2013, $26.99

ISBN: 9780399158124

In Florida, Doc Ford and his friends Tomlinson and Dan Futch find clues that lead them to believe they can locate the legendary five missing bombers that vanished in late 1945. A pilot, Dan flies them over the remote area where they believe the planes crashed. However, their plane fails forcing an emergency landing.

The trio quickly concludes their crash was caused by sabotage as someone wants them dead. All three have enemies with Tomlinson the most likely target due to his dispute with a Haitian drug kingpin and Tomlinson’s companions are considered acceptable collateral damage. Although Dan’s foe is unlikely a killer rather than a sport’s rival, Doc’s black ops work as a hired gun or his marine biologist environmental stands on Sanibel Island’s Dinkin’s Bay could be the motive. Several more near deadly incidents occurs as Doc and his friends plan a counter attack.

The latest Doc Ford thriller is an engaging tale as someone tries to kill Doc and company. The storyline starts with a fabulous exciting opening; the search for the real lost Flight 19. I would have preferred Randy Wayne White stayed with this premise; as the plot loses momentum when the action becomes swamped with several other subplots including the attempted murder mystery and Doc’s potential love life with Hannah Smith (see Gone). Still readers will enjoy this dangerous chess match with several suspects having powerful motives to kill Doc or Tomlinson.

Harriet Klausner

Out of the Black Land-Kerry Greenwood

Out of the Black Land

Kerry Greenwood

Poisoned Pen, Feb 5 2013, $24.95

ISBN 9781464200403

In circa 1335 B.C.E. Egypt has flourished under the rule of Pharaohs Amenhotep III and his successor son Amenhotep IV. However, Amenhotep IV begins to suffer from terrifying nightmares and changes his name to Akhnaten while also proclaiming there is one god instead of a pantheon of deities and bans their worship. Egyptians are stunned by their ruler’s heresy fearing the wrath of the Gods their Pharaoh chooses to ignore and anger.

He further angers the inner circle of leaders when he selects young peasant Ptah-hotep to the critical oversight position of the Great Royal Scribe; a job the lad does not want as he prefers to remain with his beloved Kheperren (General Horemheb’s scribe) and their dog Wolf. Meanwhile the Pharaoh marries Nefertiti, whose sister Mutnodjme and other ladies devise a scheme to have their Queen birth the heir in spite of Akhnaten being impotent. At the same time, the Dynasty’s leaders conclude their lunatic leader threatens the well-being of the nation.

The first Ancient Egypt Eighteenth Dynasty thriller is a terrific historical that brings to life the tumultuous reign of the “Heretic Pharaoh” as fans will believe they are visiting the “Black Land”. Action-packed with newcomers at court like Ptah-hotep, Nefertiti and Mutnodjme leaning survival methods amidst those who prefer them to go home or die, fans will enjoy Kerry Greenwood’s strong tale as the author’s Australian leads (Phryne Fisher and Corinna Chapman) take respites.

Harriet Klausner

Holy Smoke-Frederick Ramsey

Holy Smoke

Frederick Ramsey

Poisoned Pen, Feb 5 2013, $24.95

ISBN: 9781464200922

In 29 C. E. Jerusalem, a severely burned body is found behind the Temple's most sacred inner sanctum the veil of The Holy of Holies; a place no one is allowed to venture except for the Jews’ Chief Rabbi and he only on the Day of Atonement. When news of the corpse floods the city, many irate Jew believe heavenly fire burned the intruder for heresy while political and religious leaders like High Priest Caiaphas, raging over messiah-like Rabbi Yeshua of Galilee rallying the masses, insist on learning how this infidel gained access to the Holy of Holies.

The Chief Rabban Gamliel and Greek physician Loukas doubt that God’s wrath killed the violator as each believes a mortal sinner committed murder. They team up in search of a human murderer in order to calm the populace and quiet down the rabble rousing authorities as dealing with the Romans is enough of a problem for the rebellious Jews.

The latest Jerusalem biblical era mystery (see The Eighth Veil) is an enjoyable whodunit as readers obtain a deep look at troubled Jerusalem during a tumultuous period. The leisurely-paced investigation grips the audience with more deaths dividing a split city further. Fans of ancient detective tales will appreciate touring Jerusalem during a time when Jewish leaders, Romans, Jesus, and traders clash.

Harriet Klausner

Brooklyn Bones-Triss Stein

Brooklyn Bones

Triss Stein

Poisoned Pen, Feb 5 2013, $24.95

ISBN: 9781464201202

In the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn, Widow Erica Donato works part-time at a museum and attends grad school as a history major; but her prime job is to raise her teenage daughter Chris as a single mom. Family friend Joe leads a team renovating the Donato home. Chris, working with the crew, calls her mom informing her that they found the skeletal remains of a young female cradling a teddy bear inside a wall.

The police act at best perfunctory as they seem to prefer to ignore the interred bones and feel mother and daughter should do likewise. Chris needs to know who the victim was while Erica recognizes items buried with Jane Doe from the 1970s. They obtain information from retired reporter Leary who covered the gentrification tactics of the 1970s. As strangers threaten the pair, family friend retired cop Rick Malone ignores Erica’s pleas and affluent developer Steven Richmond hires the mom for no obvious reason while an unknown adversary will kill anyone looking into Jane Doe.

The key to this solid murder mystery is Park Slope today and during the tumultuous 1970s gentrification. The mother and daughter lead couple is each fully developed as Erica is a young widow with concerns and ambitions, and Chris is a typical mercurial teen; while the secondary characters bring out the neighborhood, the family and the mystery. Although some of the actions and decisions by Erica feels out of a slasher movie (stepping into peril) and thus over the top of the Brooklyn Bridge even accounting for New York shtick, fans will enjoy this amateur sleuth tour of the fourth largest city in America.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Sweet 16 to Life-Kimberly Reid

Sweet 16 to Life

Kimberly Reid

Kensington K-Teen/Dafina, Jan 29 2013, $9.95

ISBN: 9780758267429

After solving several crimes at her school Langdon Prep (see Creeping with the Enemy and My Own Worst Frenemy), teenager Chanti Evans’ ex quasi boyfriend Marci Ruiz and her mom undercover vice cop Lana demand she stop her investigations though she has saved lives. The relationship between Chanti and Lana is further strained because the teen’s absentee father wants back in the lives of mother and daughter just before her sixteenth birthday.

In her Denver Heights family house, Chanti follows the smell of smoke until she sees a fire two houses over. She calls 911 while grabbing a fire extinguisher as the home of her friend MJ and Big Mama is on fire; no one is inside. Chanti knows the fire was deliberate and probably aimed at MJ by her former gangbanger pals. Unable to ignore the arson, Chanti enlists Marco as she tries to help MJ deal with an angry gang member Lux. However the situation turns nastier when Lux vanishes. The cops and the gang suspect the worst from Chanti and MJ.

The latest Langdon Prep young teen street noir is a super suspense with an extremely complex investigation as the intriguing case is far from linear (young readers and us geriatric boomers will need deep concentration). The support cast is solid and the heroine displays depth as leads the inquiry. Readers will enjoy Sweet 16 to Life.

Harriet Klausner

The Perfect Scream-James Andrus

The Perfect Scream

James Andrus

Pinnacle, Feb 5 2013, $9.99

ISBN: 9780786027705

Jacksonville Sheriff's Office Detectives John Stallings and Jacksonville Sheriff's Office handle a missing person’s case that neither wants to investigate. Ten days ago, University of North Florida senior Zach Halston vanished. The pair chats with Halston’s Tau Upsilon Fraternity buddies, and they search his two apartments. In one of them Stallings finds a photo of Halston with his missing teenage daughter Jeanie; the case has become interesting for the veteran cop who conceals the picture from his partner and his estranged wife as he has his first lead in three years on an inquiry that matters to him.

Meanwhile, a diabolical avenge-seeking killer wants to hear the spoiled affluent Tau Upsilon members scream while dying. One at a time they are brutally murdered as the serial killer lives for The Perfect Scream.

The latest Detective John Stallings Florida police procedural (see The Perfect Prey and The Perfect Death) is a taut suspense starring several “damaged” individuals including the cops and the killer. Action-packed, fans will enjoy following Stallings who gets around the Sunshine State seeking clues to his missing daughter under the guise of the Halston inquiry. Although the climax feels rushed, James Andrus provides an exciting psychological thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, February 4, 2013

The Trouble with Charlie-Merry Jones

The Trouble with Charlie

Merry Jones

Oceanview, Feb 5 2013, $25.95

ISBN 9781608090747

The divorce ending the decade marriage of Philadelphia elementary schoolteacher Elle Brooks and Charlie Harrison is almost a fait accompli. Elle comes home to their townhouse after a night on the town with her friends. Although Charlie moved out weeks ago, she senses he is here. When she feels a light kiss on her nape, Elle becomes disturbed. However, Elle panics when she sees long-stemmed rose on floor. Grabbing a kitchen knife, she looks for the intruder only to find Charlie dead on their living room couch, stabbed to death by a kitchen knife.

The police suspect Elle murdered her husband especially when she cannot explain what she was doing or where she was at the time of his death. Elle fears she may have killed Charlie as her short-term amnesia may be a repression of a memory she cannot accept; made worse by Charlie’s ghost accusing her of murdering him. After consulting with her friends, Elle looks into Charlie’s activities only to find she never knew her mate who not only cheated on her but had connections with nasty people. Each revelation is another motive for her to have killed him; but also for his amoral associates to kill her and for the cops to arrest her.

This exciting paranormal amateur sleuth is a fun whodunit as the more the heroine learns of her late almost ex-husband, the more danger she places herself in as well as she increasingly begins to conclude she may be his killer. Though the living relationship between Elle and Charlie is not developed enough; fans will enjoy the fast-paced investigative storyline as Elle dodges killers, cops and ghosts.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Hostage Midwife-Cassie Miles

Hostage Midwife

Cassie Miles

Harlequin Intrigue, Feb 5 2013, $5.25

ISBN: 9780373696697

Midwife Kelly Evans left Austin where she practiced for three years due to an ugly divorce. She joins a practice in Valiant, Colorado when her friend Serena Bellows invites her though Kelly plans to stay for only a few months until she emotionally moves passed the divorce.

Kelley happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time when architect Samuel Spencer dies, but not before he tells her his last words, which made no sense to her. The police believe Samuel committed suicide but his nephew Nick thinks otherwise especially after a loan shark tells him of a deal involving gold with his late uncle. While someone stalks Kelly, she teams up with Nick investigating what happened to Samuel and whether the family’s wealth is in jeopardy. However, as she leads a Lamaze class, adversaries take her students hostage.

This is an exciting romantic suspense from the moment Kelly meets a dying Samuel until the final incredible climax. Action-packed, readers will relish the romance between the playboy and the midwife, but it is the taut intrigue that makes Cassie Miles’ latest Midwife intrigue (see Montana Midwife and Mommy Midwife) a terrific thriller.

Harriet Klausner

The Marshal’s Witness-Lena Diaz

The Marshal’s Witness

Lena Diaz

Harlequin Intrigue, Feb 5 2013, $5.25

ISBN: 9780373696727

In the White Plains Federal Courthouse, accountant Jessica Delaney testified against her former boss Richard DeGaullo, head of the most powerful New York crime family. To her shock and fear, one juror held out leading to a mistrial and placing Jessica in danger from his expected retaliation. She resentfully gives up family and friends to go into hiding under the Witness Protection Program while that monster is free.

U.S. Marshal Ryan Jackson detests Jessica for her felonious activity, but like the good soldier he was, the former Ranger, knowing the monster set a hit on Delaney, plans to keep her safe. When the nob stalks them, Ryan believes an agent inside the DOJ probably within WitSec feeds the enemy with information. Trusting no one including his boss Alex Trask except his brother in arms Stuart Lanier, Ryan escorts Jessica in isolated woodlands while the mob pursues them.

This is a fabulous WitSec romantic suspense with a great late twist that will stun readers because the clues are there. The chase storyline engages the audience, as mobsters diligently hunt the accountant and the Fed.

Harriet Klausner

Dangerous Memories-Angi Morgan

Dangerous Memories

Angi Morgan

Harlequin Intrigue, Feb 5 2013, $5.25

ISBN: 9780373696734

Two decades ago in St. Louis, Jolene Atkins was a child when she saw the murder of her mother Elaine, a lawyer, along with two U.S. Marshals. She suppressed the horrible memory and with her dad went into the Witness Protection Program; she became Emaline Frasier and he Dallas landscaper Robert Frasier.

In the present, Jo insists on burying her dad next to her mom in St. Louis after he died in a car accident. Attending the funeral is Denver-based U.S. Marshal Levi Cooper as a friend of her late father planning to keep Jo safe though he has no authority here. Shots aimed at killing Jo just miss. Levi hustles her from the cemetery and begins an odyssey to keep Jo from harm though she distrusts him for lying to her; he knows how she feels but would do it again as he promised her dad and his word means everything. Still with her repressed memory of her mom’s murder slowly returning; someone persistently pursues them wanting her dead.

Although recovering repressed memories of a murder is not a new theme; Angi Morgan keeps it fresh with having her fans struggling to use the clues to identify the killer. Fast-paced from the opening funeral scene until the final confrontation, readers will appreciate Angi Morgan’s dangerous cross-country road trip.

Harriet Klausner