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