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