Saturday, July 26, 2014

Night Drop-Michael W. Sherer

Night Drop
Michael W. Sherer
Cutter Press, Sep 8 2014
ISBN 9780989274821

Two years ago, teenager Cole Sanders committed suicide.  Soon afterward, his grieving parents ended their marriage.  Whereas his mom Molly McHugh mourned her loss, she continued as a high powered lawyer at a big Seattle firm; while his dad Blake no longer could live in daylight so now delivers the Seattle Times at night and volunteers at a Suicide Prevention Center.

After returning home from a business trip in China, Molly calls Blake to admonish him for failing to water her plants as he promised.  However, shortly into the call Molly places Blake on hold to answer the door, but fails to return to the phone; someone abducts Molly.  Her law firm and the FBI believe the kidnappers’ motive is ransom; Blake disagrees believing some other unknown reason exists for the snatch.

At the same time Yousef leads a terrorist cell that forces former SEAL Macready the oceanographer to cooperate with their plot to use his dolphins to help move canisters filled with nuclear material or his captured woman will lose body parts.  Office of Naval Intelligence LTC Reyna Chase searches for Macready who vanished from the grid.  As Blake, Reyna, Macready, the Feds, the terrorists and their hostage converge, cities are at risk.

The third Blake Sanders thriller (see Night Tide and Night Blind) is an exhilarating drama that grips readers from the start even when the chessboard is being set and never slows down until the final confrontation.  Although for the most part the terrorists are Middle East stereotypes and Iron Mike is a legend at Fort Bragg, subgenre fans will root for ADD-eccentric Blake stepping out in daylight to try to save his former wife. 

Harriet Klausner

The Home Place-Carrie La Seur

The Home Place
Carrie La Seur
Morrow, Jul 29 2014, $25.95
ISBN: 9780062323446

On a freezing January night on the wrong side of the tracks in Billings, Montana, intoxicated Vicky walks the streets seeking to score pot from her ex Dennis.  An early riser finds her body three blocks from the Kozinsky house where she and her tweener daughter Brittany have lived paying the rent by the adult having sex with the owner. 

Vicky’s older sister Seattle lawyer Alma receives the call that her sibling died from exposure.  Having avoided for five years going home as she hates Billings the site of terrible memories, Alma plans to take care of business as fast as she can so she can return ASAP to Washington State.  Her biggest concern is for her eleven years old niece who needs a home, but she distrusts her volatile family even her big brother to take proper care of traumatized Brittany, mute since her mom died.  As remorseful Vicky learns more about her estrange sister’s death, she begins to wonder if the tragedy was not alcoholic induced but instead a homicide.

This is a perceptive Big Sky family drama in which readers obtain a profound look at what shaped the two sisters to go on such diverse paths after their parents died when they were young with Vicky's death serving as a conduit into a dysfunctional extended family.  Mindful of the frozen tundra in the movie Fargo, the stark Montana background enhances a strong saga with the only misstep being the “required” former boyfriend.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, July 25, 2014

Doghouse (A Gin & Tonic Mystery)- L.A. Kornetsky

Doghouse (A Gin & Tonic Mystery)
L.A. Kornetsky
Pocket Books, Jul 22 2014, $7.99
ISBN: 9781476750040

At Mary’s in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood, private concierge Ginny Mallard and recently promoted bar manager Teddy Tonica have become friends.  Her shar-pei Georgie and his cat Penny (though everyone except him knows he is her pet) are also buddies.  Recently the quartet pawed their way through two “cases” (see Fixed and Collared) that proved dangerous.

However, both are shocked when Mary’s cantankerous old cook Seth grumbles in true snark form as only he can that he wants to hire them; he always warned them to stay away from inquiries since they are unlicensed amateurs.  Seth explains his old boxing buddy Deke Hoban took too many punches so is slow but nice.  Deke’s landlord Cooper plans to evict him based on the punch drunk former pugilist allowing dogs inside the house he leases; thus voiding the rental contract condition of no pets.  Pleading his case Seth insists Deke would never sponsor dogfighting as Cooper implies he did and claims his friend needs to stay in this place as the rent is cheap and he knows his way around there.  Finally Seth wants Gin and Tonic to find proof that the landlord is full of sh*t.  Though they know Deke needs a lawyer rather than two amateurs like them, because of Seth they look into the claim with surreptitiousness help from Georgie and stealth direction from field officer Penny.

The third Gin & Tonic “researchtigations” is an appealing anthropomorphist amateur sleuth enhanced by life in a cheerful neighborhood bar.  The lead humans and their animal owners remain fresh leads while the case proves bloody in the ring and the bar.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Alone In The Classroom- Elizabeth Hay

Alone In The Classroom
Elizabeth Hay
Quercus, Aug 1 2014, $24.99
ISBN: 9781623651053

In 1937 Ontario, schoolgirl Ethel Wier picks berries.  Not long after she started, someone brutally murders her; leaving behind her battered body, two pails and berries.  The murder is identical to that of a killing almost a decade earlier in Saskatchewan.

In the present historian Anne Flood reads newspaper articles written by her aunt Connie the journalist.  In 1929, eighteen year old Connie Flood became a teacher in Saskatchewan.  Her principal Parley Burns takes a special interest in her as he seems to do with all the young females (staff and students) in the school.  Once a failed thespian and playwright, Parley loves the theater.  Not surprising, the principal directs Hardy’s classic Tess of the d'Urbervilles starring thirteen-year-old Susan Graves.  Like a Svengali to Susan’s Trilby (see Trilby by George du Maurier), he shapes the teen into what Parley believes is a star.  Meanwhile Connie recognizes that Susan’s older brother Michael is not a menacing retard, but instead an intelligent person who learns for some unknown reason differently than the norm.  As she works and encourages him, a tragedy forces a mass exit from the province.

In 1937 Ontario, Connie the reporter runs into Parley just after Ethel’s vicious homicide.  She realizes raging martinet Parley had opportunity in both cases, but lacks substantive evidence to accuse him.

This enthralling twentieth century murder epic is not an easy read with switching time periods and an absorbing point of view.  Character driven by a deep cast (to include the narrator), readers will believe we were transported to the Depression Era Canadian Plains as Elizabeth Hay provides a compelling literary mystery.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Jaspar’s War-Cym Lowell

Jaspar’s War
Cym Lowell
Rosemary Beach Press LLC, Mar 1 2014, $12.99
ISBN: 9780991491308

Trevor Moran was the star quarterback when Notre Dame won the national championship game.  He became a success at Wall St. and with his beloved wife Jaspar raises two tweeners (Theo and Chrissy) in Greenwich, Connecticut.  When the economy collapsed, the President appointed Trevor as the Treasury Secretary to begin saving the country and the world from the worst downturn since the Great Depression. 

While Trevor is in Europe trying to persuade reluctant leaders to spend money on stimulus packages, Jaspar watches her kids playing baseball.  After the game, Jaspar turns frantic when she cannot find her children in spite of tight security.  At the same FBI Agent McGuire informs Jaspar that Trevor’s flight home from London crashed in the ocean near Iceland.  A text message from Trevor arrives informing her that her spouse is shark food and her kids will join him as ocean waste if she does not shut up re the stimulus package.  Not one to back down and willing to do anything and ally with the worst dregs of society, Jaspar begins a quest to rescue her children from those who plot to destroy the United States. 

Over the top of the Burj Khalifa, Jaspar’s War is an action-packed pulp fiction thriller that grips the audience from the moment the Mama Grizzly hunts for those who abducted her cubs and assassinated her mate.  Action-packed, readers will root for the heroine to kick ass as Cym Lowell provides readers with an entertaining tale.  Note that 100% of the proceeds from this saga go to Operation: Next Chapter to help wounded warriors stay connected through the Soldiers’ Angels Project: Valour-IT.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Atonement of Blood-Peter Tremayner

Atonement of Blood
Peter Tremayne
Minotaur Books, Jul 22 2014, $26.99
ISBN: 9781250046000

In 670 AD at Cashel, to honor the blessed Colmán mac Lénine, Muman King Colgú hosts a gala.  Among those attending are his sister dalaigh law courts advocate Fidelma and her husband Brother Eadulf.  The couple plan to spend quality time with their son Alchú who resides at his uncle’s castle while his parents traveled to conduct investigations.

During the feast, a religieux guest Brother Lennan of Mungairit Abbey fervently screams “Remember Liamuin” as he stabs the monarch in the chest before killing brave Brehan Aedo who jumped between the assassin and the ruler.  Commander of the King’s Bodyguard Caol kills the murderer.  As gravely injured Colgú fights for his life, Fidelma investigates the attempted regicide and homicide.  Her only useful clues from the deadly gala are the fanatic’s final reiterated diatribe and the abbey located inside of rebellious Ui Fidgente; where many oppose the merging of the Five Kingdoms under Colgú

The 24th Mystery of Ancient Ireland Sister Fidelma mystery (see The Seventh Trumpet and Behold a Pale Horse) is a fascinating whodunit as the sleuthing couple risks their lives to follow the clues into hostile territory.  Fidelma is at her best interviewing, watching and drawing conclusions that a seditious conspiracy threatens the Five-Kingdom alliance; while also praying for her sibling. 

Harriet Klausner

Monday, July 21, 2014

Remains of Innocence-J. A. Jance

Remains of Innocence
J. A. Jance
Morrow, Aug 12 2014, $26.99
ISBN: 9780062134707

A decade ago in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, Liza Machett graduated high school and left home to escape the abuse of her insane mother.  Now her mother is dying so Liza reluctantly ends their estrangement.  Her mother asks Liza to bring her a cookbook from the house.  Inside Liza disgustingly sees her childhood home even more cluttered and filthier than when she grew up, which says a lot.  She also finds 1,470 $100 bills stashed inside of cookbooks.  As she wonders how her mom accumulated $147,000, Liza plans to use the windfall to clean up the house in order to put it on the market; unaware of the deadly danger to her and others unfortunately in her sphere that her endeavor will trigger.  When she finally realizes the peril, Liza disguised as a cancer and abuse victim sneaks off to Arizona to locate and discuss the situation with her older half-brother, Cochise County M.E. Dr. Guy Machett who left home for Harvard when she was a young teen and never returned.

Cochise County Sheriff Joanna Brady and her team search for a missing developmentally disabled sexagenarian.  They find Junior Dowdle’s corpse among a “graveyard” of mutilated animals in a cave.  Meanwhile Liza’s current and past Massachusetts troubles follow her to Arizona.

The latest super Sheriff Brady police procedural (see Judgment Call, and Fire And Ice) is a tremendous entry as the cop works two complex cases that have no obvious ties.  The fast-paced Remains of Innocence is a fascinating mystery that grips the audience from the moment Liza enters her childhood home and never slows down as homicide investigations in two states diagonally across the country keep the audience spellbound.

Harriet Klausner

Ice Shear- M. P. Cooley

Ice Shear
M. P. Cooley
Morrow, Jul 22 2014, $25.99
ISBN 9780062300706

Though she loved being an FBI agent, June Lyons quit the Feds when the doctor told her that her husband Kevin was dying from cancer.  She took a job in her hometown Hopewell Falls Police Department to spend time caring for her spouse and raising their young daughter Lucy with help from her father, the retired town police chief.

Now a widow living in her Upstate New York childhood home with her six years old child and her dad, June patrols at night.  However, her former law enforcement world crashes with her current one when June finds the corpse of Danielle Brouillette, daughter of a US Congresswoman, spiked onto a chunk of ice protruding from the frozen Mohawk River.  The newlywed had married Marty Jelickson, the son of the Abominations motorcycle gang enforcer.  Her Hopewell PD peers already scorned June as a failed outsider; but their resentment explodes when a former FBI associate Agent Hale Bascom deputizes her.  The discovery of a Meth lab complicates the convoluted investigation as does a biker’s homicide.

This regional police procedural is an electrifying investigative tale starring an interesting single mom forced to straddle two diverse law enforcement plateaus in which she has been part of both.  Although there are too many support players requiring readers needing a roster to keep score; filled with twists, blue penis envy and held together by a fully developed intriguing heroine, fans will want to tour Hopewell Junction with June as our guide.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

To Kill A Matzo Ball-Delia Rosen

To Kill A Matzo Ball
Delia Rosen
Kensington, Jul 1 2014, $7.99
ISBN: 9780758282019

In Nashville, Gwen Katz consults with client martial arts teacher Ken Chan on a menu to honor his students following a belt test.  Shots are fired into Murray’s Pastrami Swami leaving Ken dead, but not before he protected Gwen with his body; no one else inside the deli was badly hurt though all are shook up.  A former New Yorker, Gwen tells NPD that Ken also came from the Big Apple, but left Manhattan’s Chinatown after Triad gang threats.

NPD reports the crime to the FBI who joins the investigation.  However, increasingly the murderous drive-by shooting begins to look as if the intended victim was not the black belt instructor but the “Nashville Katz”.  Not one to sit around and wait for a second assault, Gwen begins her own inquiry.

The latest Deadly Deli Mystery is an engaging twisting whodunit as the amateur sleuth competes with several levels of law enforcement.  As always with this entertaining series (see From Herring to Eternity, A Killer in the Rye, One Foot in the Gravy and A Brisket, A Casket), the fun comes from the culture clash of New York shtick in the heart of Music City more so than the good mystery and enhanced by mouthwatering food that has me craving for pastrami and a knish at The Kosher Gourmet on Atlanta’s Northside. 

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Elective Procedures-Merry Jones

Elective Procedures
Merry Jones
Oceanview, Jul 15 2014, $26.95
ISBN 9781608091164

Four American friends travel to Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico where one of them Jen plans to have elective surgery.  However, another member of the foursome, Elle fails to save next door Claudia from falling from the posh hotel’s sixth floor balcony to her death.  Police Sergeant Perez suspects Elle may have pushed the victim; while her three amigas (Jen, Becky and Sue) rally around her. 

When the unknown killer slices up another female guest Inez in what looks like a crime of angry passion in that same room, Elle fears more will follow.  As she still struggles with her late husband’s appearances, Elle feels distracted by Dr. Du Bois and an inability to “see” the killer who targets her.

The second Elle Harrison paranormal amateur sleuth (see The Trouble with Charlie) is an enjoyable whodunit as the Mexican vacation proves strenuous and perilous for the heroine and her BFFs.  The fast-paced investigative storyline delivers mostly because Elle deals poorly with identifying and dodging a determined killer, caring bickering friends, suspicious (of her) cops, unwanted visiting ghosts, and an unsure romance.

Harriet Klausner

Sight Unseen-Iris Johansen & Roy Johansen

Sight Unseen
Iris Johansen & Roy Johansen
St. Martin’s, Jul 15 2014, $27.99
ISBN: 9781250020529

In the greater San Diego area, a serial killer has murdered at least six people in the last month and half.  Autopsies revealed that each of the bodies contained the same unidentified substance.  After investigator Jeff Stedler vanishes, the FBI consults with music therapist Dr. Kendra Michaels, who has been very helpful on other difficult cases due to her extraordinary sensory skills; she was born blind so honed her four other senses to an exceptional level though surgery at twenty gave her sight.

Kendra soon realizes she has a psychopathic fan whose killings pay homage to her most famous cases; but also fears she knows the culprit.  This “artist” rejoices that the cherished role model has joined the investigation as this killer plots for the student to surpass the teacher by murdering her.

The second Kendra Michaels FBI procedural (see Close Your Eyes) is a fabulous whodunit starring an in your face abrasive Shirley Holmes with skills mindful of Daredevil and tact mindful of a raging Wolverine.  The key support cast is fully developed especially her teammate (very loose definition) Adam Lynch and the killer as Johansen provides a tense suspense.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Competition-Marcia Clark

The Competition
Marcia Clark
Mulholland Books/Little, Brown, Jul 8 2014, $26.00
ISBN: 9780316220972

During a pep rally at Fairmont High School in the San Fernando Valley, two figures begin a shooting rampage leaving twenty-nine confirmed dead and counting; many others maimed and injured fighting for their lives.  The two suspects apparently committed suicide in the library. 

LAPD Robbery-Homicide Division Detective Bailey Keller leads the investigation.  Los Angeles District Attorney Office Special Trials Prosecutor Rachel Knight (see Blind Ambition) joins her friend on the inquiry though she assumes she has no role since the perps are dead.  However, evidence surfaces that imply the mass murderers survived their brutal assault and escaped, which frightens Bailey and Rachel as this violent pair most likely plans another bloodbath.

This is a terrific twisting thriller that combines plenty of action with the harrowing reaction of those about to die and the survivors, and the shock of first responders to the bloody rampage.  Although an international headline case like this mass school killings would have much greater higher level intrusive participation, readers will relish this adrenaline-pumping tale; as we anticipate a High Noon showdown between the two heroines and the two cold-blooded killers.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, July 13, 2014

The Mystery Of The Milton Manuscript-Barry M. Libin

The Mystery Of The Milton Manuscript
Barry M. Libin
Urim Publications, Jun 23 2014, $24.95
ISBN: 9789655241587

The senseless death of his Hertford College, Oxford thesis advisor Thornton Livingston leaves American Ph.D. candidate Keith Jessup stunned.  Keith was in attendance to hear the late Early English Literature department Chair provide a lecture, “Secrets of the Milton Manuscript” based on a recently discovered document that explained the great poet’s underlying reason for writing Paradise Lost.  Now at the morgue the grieving student identifies the corpse who fell from a cliff.  A security guard also was killed; a B&E occurred at the professor’s office; and his lecture missing.   Adding to the student’s shock is he inherited Thornton’s estate.

A few months later, now Dr. Jessup is back in New York when Columbia University Professor Stanton disappears just before presenting “The Disclosure of the Milton Manuscript” lecture.  As Keith continues to search for the missing document, threats to him and his girlfriend art restorer Joanne Farnsworth mount.

This is a fabulous mystery that is at its best with the deep look into Milton, his beliefs, his era and his masterpieces.  The murders of scholars and the assaults on the present day hero add action and suspense, but also detract from the incredible captivating depth into the life and times of John Milton.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, July 5, 2014

The Queen Of The Tearling-Erika Johansen

The Queen Of The Tearling
Erika Johansen
Harper, Jul 8 2014, $26.99
ISBN: 9780062290366

Nine warriors with ten horses arrive in the forest to escort Kelsea Glynn back to her birthplace New London as the now nineteen year old comes home to the Keep for the first time since she was an infant to replace her vain mother as Queen of Tear.  As she awaits the Ascension ceremony to replace her uncle the regent, Kelsea knows she is naive and that the leaders, including Captain of the Guard Lazarus, have no respect for her.  Though she misses her elderly guardians (Barty and Carlin) Kelsea accepts her responsibly and the fact that she has a lot to learn about political intrigue and family members.  Kelsea understands she lacks experience, but also learned a lot from Barty and Carlin including to conceal her insecurities behind a façade of decisiveness.

Heeding the visions the Tearling gem she wears now provides her, the new queen proves resolute when she ends the horrid treaty her mother made with Mortmense; which angers their sorceress Red Queen.  Still sadly Kelsea accepts her decree will cause some of her subjects to die as war is a certainty, but also gains the admiration from her warriors starting with Lazarus.  This and other decisions the royal makes upset her uncle and other powerful leaders who plot to unseat her.

This is a strong opening act of an action-packed post-apocalyptic fantasy starring a coming of age protagonist who is a combo of doubts and tenacity.  Although more insight into the heroine’s childhood and of the cataclysmic destruction of technology is needed to anchor time and place; readers will appreciate The Queen of the Tearling trying to do the right thing for her people.

Harriet Klausner

Ghosts of Time-Steve White

Ghosts of Time
Steve White
Baen, Jul 1 2014, $15.00
ISBN 9781476736570

Temporal Regulatory Authority agent Thanou Jason is called back from leave because of a dire emergency.  The late Temporal Service team leader Pauline da Cunha left evidence that proves another nanotech bomb was left in 1865 Richmond.  Though Temporal Service Chief Executive Kyle Rutherford knows the danger of returning Jason to a time and place he (and other teammates) has visited; he assigns him to lead the team of four operatives and civilian Civil War expert (especially on Richmond) Carlos Dabney back to war torn Virginia.

The six person unit arrives in the Confederacy capital in December 1864.  They trek across the cold city heading to the residence of President Jefferson Davis where their local contact with Transhumanist information resides.  Meanwhile the Transhumanists taking full advantage of the fog of war deploy their latest scheme.

The fourth Jason Thanou time travel thriller (see Blood of Heroes and Pirates of the Timestream) is an exciting tale made stronger by the deep background of ravaged Civil War Virginia at a time in which Confederacy leaders know their cause is dying.  The Transhumanists’ plot is cleverly conceived and executed while the heroes struggle to prevent an untimely disaster. 

Harriet Klausner

Rollover: A Dan Mahoney Mystery-Susan Slater

Rollover: A Dan Mahoney Mystery
Susan Slater
Poisoned Pen, Jul 1 2014, $24.95
ISBN 9781464202964

Still in New Mexico after working a case for United Life and Casualty (see Flash Flood), fiftyish insurance investigator Dan Mahoney heads to Wagon Mound, New Mexico on his latest assignment.  Robbers tunneled their way into a bank’s safe deposit area to steal a century plus old Tiffany diamond and sapphire necklace, and matching earrings worth $500,000; but left behind in the nearby vault millions in easier to liquidate money.

His car breaks down on the way to see the victim of the theft, octogenarian Gertrude Kennedy, but Dan fortunately gets a lift from former stunt performer Curt Echols.  However, an accident leaves the driver dead and Dan in a Santa Fe hospital.  After leaving the hospital, Dan meets Gert and her daughter Penelope.  He likes the feisty senior citizen, but believes the daughter conceals key information that makes the sleuth wonder what Penelope knows about the robbery.  Complicating matters are his girlfriend Elaine Linden vanishes, the Echols car crash was no accident and people related to the bank and the robbery die.

The second Mahoney investigation is a great thriller as nothing seems quite like it appears.  Fast-paced and filled with action, readers will relish this enchanting mystery while hoping not to wait a dozen years for another Mahoney insurance fraud case.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, July 4, 2014

Dead Float: A Cal Claxton Mystery-Warren Easley

Dead Float: A Cal Claxton Mystery
Warren Easley
Poisoned Pen, Jul 1 2014, $24.95
ISBN 9781464202681

In Dundee, Oregon, fishing guide Philip Lone Deer easily convinces his buddy former Southern California prosecutor turned small-town attorney Cal Claxon to join him as a guide on an angling trip on the Deschutes River.  The Portland clients include CEO Hal and Alexis Bruckner.  While fishing for salmon on the Klickitat in Eastern Washington, Cal and Alexis had a tryst last fall that he is not proud of though he enjoyed it.

On the river trek, someone slashes Hal’s throat.  Everyone who accompanied the deceased is considered a person of interest, but Cal’s missing knife makes him the prime suspect.  As such he investigates focusing on whether the motive rests inside the high tech firm that Hal ran.

The second Cal Claxton Oregonian Mystery (see Matters of Doubt) is an engaging tale that captures the beautiful essence of the state’s fishing area through the eyes of the protagonist.  The whodunit is fun but lacks depth while the odyssey of Cal’s daughter in the Sudan feels unnecessary and intrusive.  Still fans will enjoy touring the Pacific Northwest’s major fishing holes with Cal as our guide.

Harriet Klausner

Terminal Life: A Suited Hero-Richard Torregrossa

Terminal Life: A Suited Hero
Richard Torregrossa
Oceanview, Jul 1 2014, $26.95
ISBN 9781608091201

SEAL Luke Stark was in Afghanistan on his second tour when he learned that his wife Crissy was shot in the face during a robbery and their young son Jack is missing.  He suffered a breakdown and given a medical discharge while treated as an inpatient at a VA hospital.  As Luke begins to regain his senses, he leaves the facility with plans to visit Uncle Paulie in Brooklyn to learn who killed his spouse and find Jack.  However, Luke is running out of time as he also suffers from Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Dissed by a receptionist, he slices her throat with a MetroCard and as he leaves two crippled security guards.  He has begun his quest to avenge his family.  Thinking he can get rid of one of this family punk annoying him, Uncle Paulie promises Luke answers and cash if he takes out the invincible chemist Mark Fister.  Dressed in sartorial splendor, “:The Suited Hero” enlists his Naval pal Suggs to join him and they leave behind a path of destruction as even gangbangers learn the hard way, anyone in Luke’s way, innocent or not, suffers or dies.

Not for everyone, Terminal Life is a gory violent urban thriller starring a fascinatingly macabre protagonist who refuses to accept sh*t from anyone in his search for his son.  Part of the fun comes from iconic pop names and references like Uncle Paulie, Luke and Laura, and Bond trivia, etc. sprinkled throughout the engaging storyline.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Vengeance Is Mine: A Red River Mystery-Reavis Z. Wortham

Vengeance Is Mine: A Red River Mystery
Reavis Z. Wortham
Poisoned Pen, Jul 1 2014, $24.95
ISBN 9781464202605

In 1965 hit man Tony Agrioli met newlyweds Center Springs Constable Cody and Norma Faye Parker while they were on their honeymoon in Vegas.  He liked what they said about their small Texas town and thought if he survived his job he would retire there.

Two years later, defying the Family by failing to kill two Cuban tweeners, Tony wants out of the murder business after falling in love with Samantha Chesterfield.  She accepts his proposal of marriage and they agree to move to Center Springs to raise a family there.  However instead of a peaceful town as the Parker couple once told him; nothing goes right especially when the Family arrives, but apparently not for him.  Soon Cody’s Uncle Ned, also a constable, leads an investigation into a homicide, counterfeiting and bank robbery with the sheriff interfering in the inquiry and his teenage grandson Top and the lad’s cousin Pepper adding chaos to the pandemonium.

The fourth fantastic Parker clan historical police procedural (see The Right Side of Wrong, The Rock Hole and Burrows) is a great 1960s period piece thriller in which segregation remains strictly enforced and border issues are not on the radar screen.  The Parker crew is solid as they deal with hell arriving in Center Springs.

Harriet Klausner

Book Clubbed- Lorna Barrett

Book Clubbed
Lorna Barrett
Berkley, Jul 1 2014, $25.95
ISBN 9780425252574

In Stoneham, New Hampshire, Haven't Got a Clue bookstore owner Tricia “The Town Jinx” Miles finds her latest corpse when a bookcase in the cookery bookstore owned by her sister Chamber of Commerce president Angelica fell on the Chamber’s shrewish secretary Betsy Dittmeyer.  However, the cause of death is not from the bookcase, but instead strangulation. 

Tricia investigates the murder of the town’s most unpopular person and quickly uncovers an anomaly as the victim possessed plenty of money with no obvious source.  Betsy’s computer reveals the most likely basis for this income is Betsy’s incriminating files on Chamber of Commerce members.  As she continues her inquiry, two males no longer acceptable in her life (ex-husband Christopher Benson, and her on and off boyfriend Police Chief Grant Baker) pursue Tricia.

The latest Booktown mystery (see Murder on the Half-Shelf and Not the Killing Type) is an engaging tale due to the entertaining small New England town blather that includes series-running questions re the bookstore owning siblings.  The amateur sleuthing is fun with plenty of family and professional suspects though the whodunit takes a backseat to the disclosures of top personal secrets; while the two males chasing after Tricia needs to be shelf under stale.

Harriet Klausner