Saturday, May 31, 2014

Ill Conceived-L. C. Hayden

Ill Conceived L. C. Hayden CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, Aug 17 2013, $15.00 ISBN: 9781491215760 In South Lake Tahoe, California, the police list missing teenager Lauri Evans as a runaway. However, Lauri’s seemingly demented Grandma Louise Dietz insists to North Shore Carrier editor Rich, and reporters Aimee Brent and Dolphine Birescik she heard Lauri scream twice in the nearby woods. Later Aimee chats with Lauri’s boyfriend Gary Heely who insists she did not run away, the missing girl’s mother and other acquaintances. Police Detective Tom O’Day informs Aimee that they found the teen’s corpse in the nearby woods. Tom’s sort of partner Marie O’Day tells Aimee and Dolphine that the victim was stabbed twice in the back and once in the abdomen. Tom arrests drugged-out Gary, but Aimee feels the boyfriend did not kill a girl he cared about; so she and Dolphine investigate only to find several suspects. With Harry Bronson taking a breather (see When Death Intervenes and When the Past Haunts You), L. C. Hayden provides her fans with a fabulous journalist investigative thriller. The engaging whodunit contains red herrings and a wonderful twist leading to a second inquiry. Readers will appreciate the antics of the BFFs reporters as they land in one superbly suspenseful situation after another. Harriet Klausner

Death In Saratoga Springs-Charles O'Brien

Death In Saratoga Springs Charles O'Brien Kensington, May 27 2014, $15.00 ISBN: 9780758286383 In 1894, the affluent Crawford family butler Virgil Crawford hires Prescott and Associates to investigate the disappearance of their housekeeper Martha Colt’s teenaged niece Ruth who vanished a month ago. Mr., Crawford explains to investigator Pamela Thompson that the New York City police refuse to search for the missing girl because there is no evidence of a crime though the butler believes more likely due to her being black. Pamela and fired police detective (and falsely accused convict) Harry Miller follow clues that lead them to decorated Union Army Captain Jed Crake, who has an abusive history with women. Soon the sleuths believe Ruth is dead, but efforts to prove by whom lead them taken off the case by a killer who threatens to harm sixteen year old Francesca Ricci. A few months later, the wealthy but ailing from kidney failure Crake, accompanied by his once a hooker wife Rachel, heads to the Grand Hotel in Saratoga Springs. Crake is not long a guest at the affluent hotel before someone murders him. The local police arrest chambermaid Francesca, who was found with the victim’s jewelry and has a history with Crake. Pamela and Harry head to Saratoga Springs to help Francesca by seeking his killer amidst many people loathing Crake including the Crawford family. The second Gilded Age Mysteries (see Death of a Robber Baron) is an entertaining timely historical that looks closely into the “affluenza” syndrome as the rich get away with murder and rape though the 1890s purchasing power differs from today (cops and thugs vs. lawyers). The whodunit seems more of a support motif to enable readers to visit Manhattan and Saratoga Springs during the decadent “Gay Nineties.” Harriet Klausner

Small Plates-Katherine Hall Page

Small Plates Katherine Hall Page Morrow, May 27 2014, $24.99 ISBN 9780062310798 This enjoyable nine-story anthology includes six entertaining entries starring caterer Faith Fairchild. Series fans will appreciate these terrific tales including those lacking Faith as we Have Faith in Katherine Hall Page’s to create enticing stories. The fabulous Faith Fairchild: In “The Ghost of Winthrop” Faith seeks a missing will. An escape to the Cape ends for Faith and Thomas when a terrified woman asks the couple to protect her from her husband in “Death in the Dunes.” Faith and her sister fear for the accident-prone bride in “Across the Pond.” Musing that “The Proof is Always in the Pudding,” Faith looks into her husband’s long held family “beliefs”. Sliced” takes place in a TV reality cook-off as Faith participates but not in the way she planned. The past may be haunting but to Faith the present feels uplifting in “The Two Marys”. The terrific tales lacking Faith: “The Would-Be Widower” plans to eliminate his wife so he can be the choice of the widow brigade. It is “A Perfect Maine Day” for drowning victim Myra’s funeral. Finally in “Hiding Places,” the newlywed wife begins to wonder who she married. Harriet Klausner

Friday, May 23, 2014

Live In Person-Lynda Fitzgerald

Live In Person Lynda Fitzgerald Crystal Dreams Press, Apr 17 2014. $15.95 ISBN: 9780971565821 A lot has happened to Allie Grainger over the last year. Her beloved Aunt Lou died, but left her the house and estate while still talking to her inside her head. Working as a reporter for the Brevard Sun, Allie investigated the suicide of the wife of county Sheriff Cord Arbutten; Lou loved Cord and believed him innocent while his son, Allie’s her now beloved Rand, believed his dad killed his mom (see Live Ammo). Allie’s idyllic life crashes when she returns to her home to find her angry obnoxious brother Len greet her with a demand of half of their aunt’s two-million dollar estate in spite of his scornful treating of Lou when she lived. She refuses, but soon afterward Rand vanishes with Allie the only suspect. At the same time, convicted psychopath former Brevard County Deputy Sheriff Sidney Finch escapes incarceration. He deploys his avenging plan to regain all he lost starting with killing the nosy reporter and those who abetted her; leaving him a cripple and cost him the respect of his beloved father figure Cord. The latest Sunshine State Grainger mystery (see Live Ringer) is an exciting tale in which the heroine fights a two-front war. The support cast is fully developed with Rand being her caring lover; next door neighbor Libby adding eccentricity; Grainger’s family offering ridicule and threats; and the return of insane Sidney preparing to finish the job he failed at last year. Lynda Fitzgerald provides another strong entry in a fabulous series. Harriet Klausner

Cold Shot-Mark Henshaw

Cold Shot Mark Henshaw Touchstone, May 20 2014, $24.99 ISBN: 9781476745572 In the Gulf of Aden, the USS Vicksburg recovers a lifeboat containing a tortured dead African. Not long after that, CIA analysts using satellite imagery notice the Iranian freighter Markarid missing a lifeboat secretly sailing towards Puerto Cabello, Venezuela. Knowing that President Diego Avila covets possessing WMDs add to the suspicion of what the ship may be carrying. CIA Red Cell desk analyst Kyra Stryker returns to the field to gather on the ground Intel in Venezuela, a place where she had issues years ago. Red Cell analyst Jonathan Burke joins her as they videotape Venezuelans with illegal nuclear distributer Hossein Ahmadi, and workers becoming ill from what might be radioactivity exposure. American President Rostow demands 100% proof that the Iranian is selling nukes to the Venezuelans; thus Stryker infiltrates the facility, but nothing goes right as all hell explodes around her and her partner. Filled with incredible depth and a strong cast, the second Stryker-Burke CIA tale (see Red Cell) may be the espionage thriller of the year as the action never slows whether at sea, data crunching at Langley or in country. Readers will enjoy this action-packed entry as early on Iranian Sargord Elham sets the table when he keeps to himself that the Tehran-connected Ahmadi made an unnecessary and foolish minor mistake in the Gulf of Aden; that seemingly harmless error enables the Americans to follow falling dominos starting from the dead African. Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Murder In Merino-Sally Goldenbaum

Murder In Merino Sally Goldenbaum Obsidian, May 6 2014, $24.95 ISBN: 9780451415363 In Sea Harbor, Massachusetts, the Seaside Knitters agree to knit something special for member Nell Endicott and her husband Ben as they celebrate their fortieth anniversary. Besides the gala and afghan for the Ruby Anniversary of her aunt and uncle, owner of the Seaside Knitting Studio, Izzy Chambers Perry places on the market the cottage she lived in until she married Sam. Stranger Jules Ainsley offers to buy the somewhat rundown cottage with a jungle foliage backyard sight unseen to the shock of its owner, her friends and family. The outsider’s persistent questions about Sea Harbor and her jogging in all types of weather also add to the belief that Jules is a harmless lunatic. However, when Ocean’s End co-owner Jeffrey Meara’s corpse is found murdered in the yard of Izzy’s cottage, Police Chief Jerry Thompson suspects Jules. The knitters look for a motive until they conclude the reason for the homicide ties back to something that happened several decades ago. The latest Seaside Knitters mystery (see Angora Alibi) is a delightful leisurely-paced cozy that enables series fans to catch up with what is happening to the members, their spouses and the rest of the townsfolk. The freshness comes from the enigmatic Jules, whose eccentric behavior even before the homicide has the locals and readers wondering what is rattling inside her head; while she turns Murder In Merino into an enjoyable whodunit. Harriet Klausner

Monday, May 19, 2014

The Hydra Protocol-David Wellington

The Hydra Protocol David Wellington Morrow, May 13 2014, $25.99 ISBN 9780062248800 On Rikard Island in Eastern Siberia, Spetsnaz trained Russian spy Nadia Asimova finally obtains the Soviet State Secret report she sought. She knows she must warn the Americans in order to prevent a nuclear winter so heads toward Japan and from there the States. At the Pentagon, Chapel’s superior Hollingshead tells him the 1980s Soviet Dead Hand program never was shut down. Also there is Nadia who explains what she found in Siberia about Dead Hand or what her side called Perimeter. If specified conditions occur that leads Perimeter to conclude Russia is under attack; the program will activate by firing missiles at the United States and cause a global nuclear winter. Although still ailing and now heartbroken after Julia Taggart ended their relationship in Brooklyn, Chapel joins Asimova heading to locate and disable Dead Hand while understanding this doomsday machine is a Hydra that reacts to a head cut off by activating a new deadlier head. With nods to Star Trek (The Doomsday Machine) and Star Trek: The Next Generation (Vendetta), the sequel to the exciting Chimera is a superb twisting “Cold War” thriller filled with distrust and triple crosses as nothing except Angel is what he or she first appears. Feeling isolated except for Angel, Chapel struggles with determining who his allies are and who his adversaries are. Fast-paced from the onset, but accelerating even more so when Chapel and Asimova meet for the second time (after a brief encounter off Cuba), readers will appreciate this save the world from a relic only an insane lunatic would create. Harriet Klausner

Saturday, May 17, 2014

The Man With The Lead Stomach-Jean-François Parot and Michael Glencross (translator)

The Man With The Lead Stomach Jean-François Parot and Michael Glencross (translator) Gallic, May 13 2014, $15.95 ISBN: 9781906040123 In 1761, gunshots are heard by family and staff inside the locked bedroom of the son of the Comte de Ruissec. Although the evidence overwhelmingly points to a suicide, recently promoted to Commissioner (due to his excellent handling of the Lardin affair; see The Chatelet Apprentice), Nicolas Le Floch believes a homicide occurred by a brilliant killer who brilliantly staged the death. Comte de Ruissec refuses to cooperate with the police inquiry into his son’s death, but he uses his being part of Princess Adelaide’s retinue to try to end the investigation or at least thwart the inquiry. Though there is pressure on Le Floch to stop the case, his boss Sartine warns him to tread extremely carefully as he deals with the non-cooperating or misinforming aristocracy in Versailles and less so amidst the brothels and theaters of Paris. When the Commissioner learns the deceased owed an exorbitant gambling debt that forced him to end his relationship with an angry actress in order to become engaged to a wealthy older woman; he ponders whether the motive lies somewhere in the victim’s recent relationships. The second Le Floch eighteenth century French police procedural is a strong investigative historical starring a wonderful protagonist who has come a long way from his country bumpkin start. Readers will enjoy Le Floch’s inquiry into what appears to be a suicide though the cop and his assistant Inspector Bourdeau lean towards a locked room murder. Harriet Klausner

Bone Dust White-Karin Salvalaggio

Bone Dust White Karin Salvalaggio Minotaur, May 13 2014, $24.99 ISBN 9781250046185 Eleven years ago, the corpses of four Eastern European females were found in Collier, Montana. The prime suspect Leanne Adams vanished leaving behind her six year old daughter Grace. The murders were never solved and Leanne never found. In the present, a fearful Grace recovers from a heart transplant when someone comes to the door of her home. Peeking out of a window she watches a knife-yielding man assaults and kills a woman; who turns out to be her mom whom she had not seen in over a decade. The police are delayed answering her frantic 911 call, but paramedics Peterson and Carson arrive at the harrowing scene. Soon to give birth to her first child, Montana State Special Investigator Macy Greeley looks into this homicide that appears tied to the cold case in Collier though she prefers out of the investigation besides shortly being due, Leanne was her sister-in-law. Additionally, the cop fears Grace could be next so though she prefers no involvement, Macy wants to protect the teen while making inquiries in a town with no compassion. Bone Dust White is a strong grim Big Sky police procedural as readers get a close look at a town whose last thriving industry is meth production. Character-driven by for the most part the uncaring local residents, readers will appreciate this entertaining whodunit though we ironically will solve the case much earlier than the pregnant detective and her “partner” Peterson. Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Boiled Over-Barbara Ross

Boiled Over Barbara Ross Kensington, May 6 2014, $7.99 ISBN: 9780758286871 Residents of Busman’s Harbor, Maine prepare for the annual Founder’s Day gala that brings summer visitors to their town. As always the Snowden Family Clambake Company plans to enjoy the festivities while also serving up New England style seafood. However, Julia Snowden and others notice a human foot sticking out of the family claminator oven; at the same time new employee Cabe Stone flees from the scene. Local rookie cop Jamie Dawes takes control of the crime scene until State Police Lieutenant Binder and Sergeant Flynn arrive from Augusta. The victim is Founder’s Day committee member Stevie Noyes, owner of Camp Glooscap RV Park and the prime suspect is the vanished Cabe. Julie believes Cabe is innocent, but wonders how to prove her assertion. The second Maine Clambake murder mystery (see Clammed Up) is an enjoyable amateur sleuth as Julia’s inquiry leads to her uncovering the secrets of several residents including Cabe though some of her findings turn out to be red herrings re the case. Although subgenre fans will have to accept the former successful Manhattan venture capitalist feeling a deep need to investigate, readers will appreciate this Maine Island cozy with several delicious recipes. Harriet Klausner

Sunday, May 11, 2014

The Disposables-David Putnam

The Disposables David Putnam Oceanview, May 6 2014, $26.95 ISBN 9781608091188 Once a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Violent Crimes Team superstar, Bruno Johnson served time behind bars, but recently was paroled. He works at a liquor store on Long Beach Boulevard, but Bruno knows some of his ex-peers want him gone probably in a casket or back in prison as they constantly taunt him trying to goad him into doing something stupid. Meanwhile Bruno’s goal is to obtain money (legally or not) so he and his beloved Marie and the abused kids they help can flee to start over. Not long after a robbery at the store that goes bad with the unnecessary shooting of a Disposable high on meth, Bruno’s former police partner Robby Wicks calls in a debt that the ex-cop/con owes him. He demands Bruno help him find the psychopath(s) committing violent homicides before someone else brutally dies. The first Bruno Johnson “police procedural” provides readers with a powerful dark landscape as the disgraced cop works the meanest streets of Los Angeles. The key cast is made of genre stereotypes yet fans will not care as the aptly titled The Disposables is a strong entertaining urban jungle thriller. Harriet Klausner

Muzzled-Eileen Brady

Muzzled Eileen Brady Poisoned Pen, May 6 2014, $24.95 ISBN: 9781464201844 Owing a fortune in student loans, veterinarian Dr. Kate Turner accepts a temporary position at the Oak Falls Veterinary Hospital in Upstate New York while Doc Anderson travels around the world. The Long Islander visits the Langthorne home to check on the health of the 27 Cavalier King Charles spaniels. Only she finds the dogs running wild inside the home and the owners Vivian and Thomas Langthorne dead. The police believe a murder-suicide occurred, but Kate disagrees as either of the obsessed couple would have first taken care of their beloved pampered canines before committing a spousal homicide and killing themselves. The deceased’s adopted daughter Pippi does not wait for the graves to be cold when she sells all of the prized dogs with the top gun Charles Too purchased for a million dollars. With a theory of her own, Kate, in between caring for a menagerie while dealing with their human pets, investigates only to find many people with strong motives wanting the despicable Langthorne couple dead and also uncovers questions of pedigree. The first Kate Turner, DVM, Mystery is an engaging amateur sleuth that combines an enjoyable whodunit enhanced with veterinary and grooming tips, and a picturesque Hudson River town. Although Kate’s detecting is typical of the subgenre, her retired firefighting grandfather adds freshness with his investigative suggestions. Harriet Klausner

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Murder And Mendelssohn-Kerry Greenwood

Murder And Mendelssohn Kerry Greenwood Poisoned Pen, May 6 2014, $24.95 ISBN: 9781464202469 In 1929 in St. Kilda, Detective Inspector Jack Robinson loathes asking for the help of the Hon. Miss Phryne Fisher with his investigation into the murder of orchestra conductor Hedley Tregennis, but knows he is out of his league when it comes to noticing little things at a musical rehearsal. A fan of Mendelssohn, Phryne agrees to escort the DI to the Scots Church Assembly Hall where the Melbourne Harmony Choir and the Occasional Orchestra will practice. Meanwhile Rupert Sheffield has the city and cops hopping with his attitude, looks and his science of deduction lectures. Phryne's WWI in the trenches friend Dr. John Wilson acts attracted to Rupert who Phryne fears is a person seeking danger to himself and anyone within his circle. Further complicating her inquiry besides Robinson demanding she remain on the sidelines as a consultant and Sheffield’s arrogance is M16. The terrific twentieth Phryne Fisher historical whodunit (see Unnatural Habits and Dead Man’s Chest) is a great entry as the brilliant independent protagonist works the multifarious Mendelssohn murder mystery competing in several ways with Sheffield. Part of the fun is comparisons between the heroine and her conventional companion Dot, with Sheffield and with Robinson. While Mendelssohn plays in the background, Kerry Greenwood’s long running saga remains fresh as one of the best early twenty century detective series on the market. Harriet Klausner

Friday, May 9, 2014

This Private Plot- Alan Beechey

This Private Plot Alan Beechey Poisoned Pen, May 6 2014, $24.95 ISBN: 9781464202407 In Synne, children’s author of Finsbury the Ferret as O.C. Blithely, Oliver Swithin chases after his girlfriend police Detective Effie Strongitharm in a very public place including the village maze while both are naked except for his used hanky. Their sojourn is interrupted when his maternal Aunt Phoebe and her husband Scotland Yard’s Serious Crime Directorate Detective Superintendent Tim Mallard arrive in the same state of garb. Oliver’s brother Toby set up both couples, but he did not include the fifth wheel as the writer finds the corpse of one time popular but retired children’s radio star “Uncle” Dennis Breedlove. Whereas the local constables and Tim lean towards a suicide; the latter focuses more on the Theydon Bois Thespians amateur acting group performance of Hamlet than the case. Oliver disagrees believing Uncle Dennis was murdered. Though ordered by Tim to stay out of the investigation, Oliver and Effie make inquiries. The latest Oliver Swithin whodunit (see Embarrassment of Corpses and Murdering Ministers) is a great English village mystery that effortlessly combines humor and tension. Filled with twists (including personal) and red herrings, readers will appreciate this fabulous amateur sleuth as blackmail, murder and the banana theory of man (proving Thomas Carlyle’s Philosophy of Clothing, or lack of) make for a super read. Harriet Klausner >

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Downfall-Brian Lutterman

Downfall Brian Lutterman Conquill Press, May 1 2014, $15.00 ISBN: 9780980001785 After the car accident that left her a paraplegic and her young niece dead, attorney Pen Wilkinson lost her position at her Florida law firm. Sending her résumé around the country, Minneapolis based North Central Bank hires her to provide legal advice to the company’s Foundation. Although not in her area of expertise Pen is happy to be working again. All hell breaks loose when the media learns that a white supremacist group Great Western Liberty Alliance is included on a list of recipients given to the bank president James Carter for final approval. While Carter vanished in New York, everyone especially her boss Deanne Nolan at the bank blames Pen who allegedly vetted the list. The media stalks her; reporting her grandfather was active in the KKK and a profitable merger dies. As Pen tries to prove her innocence, someone kills Carol Hart in Atlanta and goes after Terry Forsythe in Chicago. Terry contacts Pen offering her information if she lives long enough to do so; as she recognizes the North Central spin from being a willing participant in a similar scenario. Downfall is an exhilarating action-packed financial thriller starring a fascinating besieged woman who makes the Roadrunner look docile as she follows leads to Chicago and California. Pen is independent but smart enough to accept that at times she needs help due to her paralysis. Though the plausibility to this reviewer who can’t balance a checkbook seems over the top of Deming Heights, the villains’ operations are cleverly designed and precisely executed except for allowing Terry temporary to escape from death until (to the delight of readers) Pen takes the fight to them. Harriet Klausner