Friday, August 29, 2014

Harbor Island-Carla Neggers

Harbor Island
Carla Neggers
Mira, Aug 26 2014, $24.95
ISBN 9780778316534

In Dublin FBI Agent Colin Donovan proposes to his partner Emma Sharpe, who agrees to marry him (see Declan's Cross).  Now home, following a jog Emma returns to their apartment while her fiancĂ© is out when she receives a mysterious call from Rachel Bristol.  The filmmaker asks the Fed to meet her on Bristol Island in Boston Harbor.  Rachel promises to provide Emma with info related to a cold case art theft tied to the investigation her small FBI unit and her family-owned Maine-based Sharpe Fine Art Recovery are conducting in New England and Ireland. 

Ignoring her boss Yankowski’s warning for her to be extremely cautious since she is a Sharpe, Emma arrives at the rendezvous location only to find Rachel dead.  In the victim’s hands is a cross that Emma knows is a replica of the first theft by a clever thief who leaves these mementos behind to remind the agent of the unsuccessful pursuit by her and her grandfather for years.

The fifth fabulous Donovan and Sharpe FBI art restoration romantic thriller (see Heron's Cove and Saint's Gates) is a suspense-filled terse entry.  The action starts immediately and never slows down while the expanding cast continues to enhance the drama though one needs a scorecard.  Included with Harbor Island is the first printing of previously released as an e-novella Rock Point starring Father Finian who arrives in Maine where he and FBI agent Colin Donovan meet as the priest learns of violent smugglers using his family's distillery.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

No Time To Die-Kira Piekoff

No Time To Die
Kira Piekoff
Pinnacle, Aug 26 2014, $9.99
ISBN: 9780786034895

Though Zoe Kincaid is a twenty years old college student, her ultra-petit body looks like that of a young teenager; some would say a male tweener.  While her parents insist she accept her condition and stop obsessing over it, Zoe urged by her Gramps turns to Manhattan medical geneticist Dr. Ray Carlisle who explains her unnamed condition; her entire body even her teeth stopped aging at fourteen.

Zoe sadly agrees to allow research scientists to conduct tests on her in order to learn how her DNA shut down the aging process.  However, opponents want the “amoral” studies stopped and will do anything to end it.  At Panax Pharmaceuticals in DC, someone releases test chimps that kill Dr. Eliot Shipley in his lab.  Columbia University biochemist Dr. Helen McNair vanishes.  Meanwhile in DC Justice Department Bioethics Committee Agent Les Mahler notices the trend of 27 unresolved vanishings except for the Shipley corpse.  Now Zoe disappears.

No Time To Die is a mesmerizing medical suspense as Kira Piekoff deftly balances a timely deep look at the ethics of genetic research; this case involves using a human guinea pig for the well-being of others inside of an action-packed twisting biological thriller.  With a solid cast, readers care about what happens to Zoe.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Death of a Dog Whisperer: A Melanie Travis Mystery-Laurien Berenson

Death of a Dog Whisperer: A Melanie Travis Mystery
Laurien Berenson
Kensington, Aug 26 2014, $24.00
ISBN 9780758284556

In Fairfield County, Connecticut, Bob tells his former wife Melanie Travis the canine lover that he recently met friendly dog whisperer Nick Walden.  Not long after their chat, Melanie learns her Aunt Peg and many other affluent owners think the world of Nick until he translates dog-speak to them.

When someone murders Nick in his home, his sister Claire pleads with Melanie to look into her sibling’s homicide.  Though she has no time to sleuth as she mothers her eight kids (two human and six poodles) Melanie makes inquiries into the murder in which the cops peg her aunt as one of several suspects.

The seventeenth Melanie Travis canine mystery (see Gone with the Woof, Hounded to Death and Doggie Day Care Murder) is a jocular amateur sleuth due to the heroine’s targeted mirthful mocking retorts to characters like Bob and amusing asides to the audience.  Readers will enjoy the dog shows (professional and otherwise) and the Death of a Dog Whisperer amateur sleuthing.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Mystery of the Trinity-Richard Gid Powers

The Mystery of the Trinity
Richard Gid Powers
Caravel Book/Pleasure Boat Studio, Sep 1 2014, $19.95
ISBN: 9781912887012

In New Orleans during mass at St. Patrick Church, someone shoots and kills controversial traditionalist Father Stan Klaves, who has demanded a return to the Faith of Our Fathers.  New York Timothy Cardinal Ryan gives the eulogy at Father Stan’s funeral.  NOPD claims the assassin committed suicide.

Like her late father, Ann Grayce provides benefactions to Cardinal Ryan who worries his most generous supporter will take over leading the Klaves’ movement.  Ann and her beloved Jack Logan (whom has drawn the wrath of the Cardinal for his work on neuroscience and spirituality) meet with excommunicated Sister Patricia Sullivan and National Christian Reporter journalist Peter Newland who witnessed the assassination.  Cardinal Ryan joins them; insisting that the Church will die if it supports a “culture of death” as Klaves demanded.  Not long afterward in Alexandria, Louisiana, a gunman tries to kill Ann; but instead murders a cop.  A Greek monk murders the captured gunman, but escapes back to Mt. Athos, Greece.  This leads to Ann and her allies on a global quest to uncover a Church conspiracy of death that includes the killing of Father Romero.

The Mystery of the Trinity is an intriguing thoughtful drama that concentrates on the modern day Catholic Church; especially the schism between the traditionalists who want to return to the strict past and those who believe this return denotes a “culture of death” leading to papal suicide.  The use of famous people, social media and locations enhance the overall realism of the intense theme.  Not for everyone since the stimulating storyline contains a lot of passive religious debate (that I personally esteemed); Richard Gid Power authors a mesmerizing Catholic Church conspiracy thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Shark Fin Soup-Susan Klaus

Shark Fin Soup
Susan Klaus
Oceanview, Aug 19 2014, $26.95
ISBN 9781608091232

Christian and Allie Roberts enjoy sailing the Caribbean on their sloop Catalina.  While near the Bahamas, Christian becomes irate when he observes fishermen illegally mass murdering sharks.  He upsets them when he challenges what they are doing and threatens to expose them to the authorities; they retaliate by killing Allie.

Filled with remorse that he provoked the incident that led to his beloved wife’s death, he is well aware FBI Agent Dave Wheeler believes depressed Christian killed his wife.  Initially turning to drugs and booze to numb his anguish; Christian eventually snaps out of his stupor when he remembers Allie’s last words: “save the sharks.”  Though still downloaded with guilt, grieving Christian begins his quest to honor his late mate’s deathbed wish though well aware the growing demand for shark-fin soup makes success unlikely.  To pay homage to his spouse, the widower believes he owes it to her to try; so as Captain Nemo he terrorizes those terrorizing the diminishing shark population.

The second Christian Roberts thriller (see Secretariat Reborn) is an intriguing cautionary ecological tale in which Susan Klaus warns that the exponential growing demand for Shark Fin Soup trends towards species extinction and consequently destroying critical habitats, reefs.  With the shocking beginning leading to the protagonist becoming a born again eco-terrorist, readers will relish his over the top of The Great Barrier Reef efforts to save the sharks.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, August 21, 2014

One Kick-Chelsea Cain

One Kick
Chelsea Cain
Simon & Schuster, Aug 19 2014, $25.99
ISBN: 9781476749785

When Kit “Kick” Lannigan was six years old, she became the unwanted star of an Amber Alert.  Five years after her abduction the FBI rescued the tweener from her “caring” capturer.  Over a decade since her liberation, Kick remains emotionally damaged and particularly loathes the reminders of the worst moments of her life: her mom who still uses her bestselling memoir re the kidnapping for fame and fortune, and the high internet traffic into her life.  Her only friend remains James who shared her childhood kidnapping as a fellow victim of the same adult. 

Residing in Portland, Oregon twentyish Kick obsesses over child abductions with a powerful need to rescue the kidnapped kids.  Private security agent John Bishop asks Kick to assist him find and rescue missing Adam Rice and Mia Turner.  Hesitantly she agrees; though this means for her to envision what Adam and Mia face returning to a time and place when she answered to the name of Beth.

As the dysfunctional dance partners Archie Sheridan and Gretchen Lowell obtain a breather, Chelsea Cain begins a new suspense series starring a kick butt heroine who has cause for her damaged psyche.  The riveting taut storyline mesmerizes the audience especially the harrowing dysfunctional Stockholm Syndrome relationship between Kick and her childhood kidnapper, and an astonishing exposĂ© into child porn.  One Kick will be on the short lists as 2014 best suspense thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, August 18, 2014

Fatal Conceit-Robert K. Tanenbaum

Fatal Conceit
Robert K. Tanenbaum
Gallery, Aug 12 2014, $26.00
ISBN 9781451635577

In Chechnya terrorists assault a U.S. trade mission; several people die and others abducted including the daughter of New York District Attorney Butch Karp.  Eight days later in a Times Square hotel, someone murders acting CIA Director Lieutenant General Sam Allen just before he is allegedly to testify before a Congressional Committee about an Administration cover-up of the Chechnya incident.

Using the Manhattan homicide as his springboard, Karp leads a unit looking into whether the White House and/or his Reelection Committee led by Rod Fauhomme silenced Allen from exposing the Administration’s propaganda on defeating terrorists around the world.  When more homicides occur that imply concealment of the truth, Karp brings those who evidence points as conspirators into the courtroom.

The latest Karp and Ciampi thriller is an enjoyable fast-paced tale that uses the government handling of Benghazi and an alleged cover-up as the basis of an exciting storyline.  There is too much in your face pontification in which K, C and their conservative sunshine band of allies are morally superior to the killing liberal corrupt axis of evil Administration (mindful of the accusations of President and First Lady Clinton arranged the death of Vernon Jordan).  Still fans who believe in the Benghazi cover-up or can ignore the ethics overkill will relish this taut drama especially the incredible second half when Karp at his best kicks political butt in the courtroom.

Harriet Klausner

Clam Wake: A Bed-and-Breakfast Mystery-Mary Daheim

Clam Wake: A Bed-and-Breakfast Mystery
Mary Daheim
Morrow, Aug 12 2014, $25.99
ISBN: 9780062317728

Hillside Manor B&B owner Judith McMonigle Flynn takes a break with the inn almost empty.  Accompanied by her cousin Renie Jones, Judith travels from Seattle to Whoopee Island where the pair will watch the home of Auntie Vance and Uncle Vince while the older couple is away.

While housesitting, the cousins find the small retiree community angrily divided over the Obsession Shores development referendum with a vote on sewerage soon to occur.  Judith and Renie walk the beach during a rain only to find the corpse of Obsession Shores’ resident Ernie Glover; someone stabbed to death the senior citizen.  When suspicion points towards the two outsiders, the amateur sleuthing partners reluctantly investigate; while the unknown adversary warns them to back off or die.

The 29th Bed-and-Breakfast Mysteries (see Gone with the Win, The Wurst Is Yet to Come and All The Pretty Hearses) is a pleasant whodunit due to the zany antics of the cousins and the eccentricities of the seniors.  The murder investigation takes a back seat to the geriatrics “Makin Whoopee” (composed by Gus Kahn and Walter Donaldson).

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, August 17, 2014

An Unwilling Accomplice-Charles Todd

An Unwilling Accomplice
Charles Todd
Morrow, Aug 12 2014, $25.99
ISBN 9780062237194

In 1918, home from the front lines, Nurse Bess Crawford escorts wheelchair bound Sergeant Jason Wilkins to Buckingham Palace where King George V awards the wounded warrior with a medal.  Afterward, Jason asks Bess to give him some alone time with his friends.  However, when Jason fails to return to the London hotel, Bess informs her superiors; who admonish her for negligence and place her on two weeks leave.

Though surprised when Jason asked her to push his wheelchair at his ceremony, Bess now realizes why he selected a female instead of a male orderly.  Determined to find the missing veteran, Bess learns the police seek Jason as their prime suspect in a homicide.  As a former family servant Sergeant Major Simon Brandon accompanies Bess, she wonders whether Jason is really Wilkins and whether he is physically injured or psychologically damaged shooting at soldiers as if he is still at the front.

Team Todd’s timely sixth Bess Crawford WWI mystery (see An Unmarked Grave and A Question of Honor) is an exhilarating investigation that looks deeply into the emotional state of combat soldiers suffering from PTSD.  Although there is too much coincidence, readers will appreciate this powerfully poignant psychological historical.

Harriet Klausner

The 6th Extinction-James Rollins

The 6th Extinction
James Rollins
Morrow, Aug 12 2014, $27.00
ISBN: 9780061784811

Inside of the U.S. Developmental Test Command station deep within the Sierra Nevada Mountains, people scream in anguish as Dr. Kendall Hess and Irene McIntyre know someone sabotaged Project NeoGenesis.  They send out a warning message to TECCOM to insure all inside are dead before they release the fail-safe destruction of the army lab.  For fifty square miles surrounding the doomed installation and widening nothing organic survived.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency assigns Sigma Force led by Commander Gray Pierce to stop the spread of this potential extinction event.  The unit finds an ancient map that Charles Darwin studied with hints that in a far distant past when Antarctica was warm and green death reined on the unsuspecting ancient world.  In the icy present someone targets Dr. Alex Harrington’s cavern lab.  Further answers can be found at Elwes Cutter’s lab deep inside the Brazil rainforest as this terrorist-scientist works to trigger the sixth mass species extinction.

The terrific 10th Sigma Force drama (see The Doomsday Key, The Eye of God and Bloodline) is an adrenaline-pumping save the world thriller as once again James Rollins combines action and history with scientific theories (focusing this time on evolution especially species extinction).  Series fans will relish the frantic pace as mankind’s relatively small reign at the top of the food chain seems at a suicidal end.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, August 14, 2014

City Of Ghosts-Kelli Stanley

City Of Ghosts
Kelli Stanley
Minotaur Books, Aug 5 2014, $26.99
ISBN: 9781250006745

In June 1940 San Francisco, private investigator Miranda Corbie receives a postcard from the last person she expected to hear from; her missing mother.  The postcard came from England where the Nazis conduct an endless aerial assault on the beleaguered nation.

Miranda considers what her options are re finding and rescuing her mom.  While she ponders what she can do, State Department employee James MacLeod hires her to investigate University of California chemistry professor, Dr. Huntington Jasper; the Fed believes he is a Nazi sympathizer using his profession and his love of art to disguise his espionage activity.  The P.I. agrees to make an inquiry after being offered their help in finding her mother.  Miranda learns of Dr. Jasper’s connections to those involved in German art looting, her inquiry turns ugly with murders leading to her framed for a homicide while MacLeod keeps his distance.

The third Miranda Corbie mystery (See City Of Secrets and City Of Dragons) is a thrilling dark gritty historical female Noir as readers learn more about the protagonist’s past through the momma drama subplot.  Fast-paced yet very atmospheric, readers will feel transported to the City on the Bay as attention already aimed at Japan expands towards the Nazis as the electrifying Jasper scenario affirms.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, August 11, 2014

Murder With A Twist-Allyson K. Abbott

Murder With A Twist
Allyson K. Abbott
Kensington, Aug 5 2014, $7.99
ISBN: 9780758280176

In Milwaukee almost a year has passed since someone murdered Mack’s Bar owner Big Mack Dalton.  A few weeks ago, his daughter owner Mackenzie (called “Little Mack” by her family, friends and patrons) found the corpse of Big Mack’s girlfriend realtor Ginny Rifkin near the dumpster in the alley behind the bar.  Although MPD suspected Mack murdered her father and his GF, Police Detective Duncan Albright thought otherwise and teamed up with her using her unique synesthesia neurological wiring that allowed her to perceive things differently than the normal NTs to solve the double homicides (see Murder On The Rocks). 

In spite of her success Mack has doubts about police work as mixology is her specialty rather than crime solving.  However with her karma at stake along with the urgency to rescue a kidnapped child, Mack agrees to assist Duncan with the hunt for that abducted son of a murdered single mom.

The second Mack's Bar Mystery once again contains a super fresh investigation due to the unique heroine whose descriptions of synesthesia (chocolate will never taste the same for us NTs) is succinct and vibrant, and helps with the cases.  Duncan accepts her as she is while the Capone Club Bucks brew crew patrons add amusing eccentricities to the delightful mix.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Avoidable Contact: A Kate Reilly Mystery-Tammy Kaehler

Avoidable Contact: A Kate Reilly Mystery
Tammy Kaehler
Poisoned Pen, Aug 5 2014, $24.95
ISBN 9781464202384

Racecar driver Kate Reilly prepares to drive the 24 Hours of Daytona.  However, before the race begins, cops inform Kate her boyfriend United Sports Car Championship official Stuart Telerday was in a coma after a hit-and-run.  Torn between ditching the race to see him, Kate decides Stuart would be irate if she failed to drive. 

Kate receives a text claiming her boyfriend is a victim of attempted vehicular homicide.  When a crew member dies at the track, Kate wonders whether this second accident was murder.  As she watches her family working with rival teams, Kate runs the endurance race while when off the oval tries to resolve who wants Stuart dead.

The third Kate Reilly amateur sleuth (see Deadman's Switch and Braking Points) is a fast-paced whodunit in which the action on the track is thrilling and off the track chilling.  The insight into the USCC adds depth as readers will enjoy Kate’s racing and sleuthing while the clock ticks away like in Jack Bauer 24 mode.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, August 8, 2014

Swan Point-Sherryl Woods

Swan Point
Sherryl Woods
Mira, Jul 29 2014, $14.99 (trade); $24.99 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9780778316428

Adelia Hernandez accepts the inevitability that her cheating husband Ernesto will always have mistresses as he does not care about her.  However, Ernesto’s reckless neglect of their four children, especially showing off to their thirteen year old oldest his mistresses and setting a bad example for their eight year old youngest, persuades Adelia to divorce him and start over elsewhere.  Swearing off men in order to focus on raising her three daughters (Serena, Natalia and Juanita) and son (Tomas), with support from her mother and her brother (see Midnight Promises) she moves with her children to the Swan Point neighborhood in Serenity, South Carolina.

At Rosalina, Adelia and Gabe Franklin see each other for the first time and the attraction is stratospheric.  She obtains her first job since having kids while he temporarily works for his cousin.  However, Gabe plans to stay for a short time to rectify mistakes he made growing up in this town where his mom was the town’s target of nasty gossip due to the parade of men entering and leaving her life.  As he and the mother of four fall in love and he adores her kids; Ernesto plans to destroy their relationship by using the children especially vulnerable Tomas as his pawn.

The eleventh Sweet Magnolia contemporary (see Catching Fireflies and Where Azaleas Bloom) is a wonderful second chance family drama in spite of macho Ernesto’s unnecessary nastiness and the repeat philandering theme (see Home In Carolina, Stealing Home and A Slice Of Heaven).  Readers will root for with Gabe, Adelia and her kids to find happiness together.

Harriet Klausner

The Good Know Nothing: A Tom Hickey Mystery-Ken Kuhlken

The Good Know Nothing: A Tom Hickey Mystery
Ken Kuhlken
Poisoned Pen, Aug 5 2014, $24.95
ISBN 9781464202865

Prior to WWI, Charlie Hickey vanished leaving his family over the next two plus decades to wonder what happened.  In 1936, Bud Gallagher tells Charlie’s son LAPD Detective Tom why his dad disappeared a quarter of a century ago and gives him a manuscript that he insisted Charlie wrote years ago.  A stunned Tom struggles to accept Charlie fled from being framed and that the novel practically is the same as The Death Ship by popular but anonymous B. Traven.

Tom discusses what to do about Bud’s alleged revelations with his sister Florence.  The siblings agree they need to know the truth re the frame and the book with their only hopes being to find and confront their father if he is still alive and Traven if he is not Charlie.  Neither expected the supposedly dead Sundance Kid, Betty Weaver and her gang, and William Randolph Hearst to be involved in their family quest.

The latest Tom Hickey Depression Era mystery (see The Biggest Liar in Los Angeles) is a great entry as Ken Kuhlken deftly blends what happened to Charlie with real people and events.  Fast-paced, armchair readers will feel they travel the southwest with Tom and Florence in one of the best detective novels of the year.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, August 7, 2014

The Spirit and the Skull-J.M. Hayes

The Spirit and the Skull
J.M. Hayes
Poisoned Pen, Aug 5 2014, $24.95
ISBN 9781464202841

The Earth Mother told Raven the Spirit Man to lead the People across the land bridge into the promised land of plentiful bounty and warmth.  However, once they trek over the Bering and begin heading south, one of the leaders Tall Pine dies.  On the verge of becoming a woman Down insists to Raven that someone murdered Tall Pine.

Although the fortyish Raven finds it hard to believe one of the People would commit fratricide, Mother demands that her Spirit Man investigate and identify the killer.  Raven realizes the only suspect is Down; a girl he is attracted to and wants once she becomes a woman though he knows as the Spirit Man his tribe demands purity from him.

The prehistoric whodunit is entertaining, but superseded by a dramatic deep look at a tribe during the Paleolithic era as armchair readers will feel as if we journey with the People.  A potent cautionary environmental tale as each ripple impacts the future; the audience will marvel at the contrast between the pristine Paleolithic landscape and Raven’s vision of a time when his skull lies in a lab while mankind has destroyed Mother Nature.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, August 4, 2014

The Good Girl-Mary Kubica

The Good Girl
Mary Kubica
Mira, Jul 29 2014, $24.95
ISBN: 9780778316558

Angry with her boyfriend’s latest cancelation, twentyish art teacher Mia Dennett meets Colin Thatcher.  He persuades her to spend the evening with him.  Whereas the unhappy Mia assumes nothing nefarious about the pick-up, Colin was hired to bring this daughter of a prominent judge and socialite to his clients as part of a scheme to extract favors from her parents especially her father.

After getting to know Mia a little, Colin changes the plan at great risk to himself from his dangerous employers.  Instead of delivery, he takes Mia to a remote cabin in Minnesota before quietly returning her home though she seemingly suffers from amnesia.  While she was abducted, her father ignored her plight; on the other hand Mia’s hysterical mom Eve panicked over what was happening to her daughter.  Chicago Police Detective Gabe Hoffman led the search while also comforting Mia’s distraught mom.

The Good Girl is a refreshing stunning mystery that uses a unique technique of rotating lead between Colin, Eve and Gabe with each chapter starting with either “Before" or "After" the incident.  Character-driven, Mary Kubica provides readers with one of the best psychological thrillers of the year.

Harriet Klausner

Beach Bags And Burglaries-Dorothy Howell

Beach Bags And Burglaries
Dorothy Howell
Kensington, Jul 29 2014, $24.00
ISBN: 9780758294944

Event planner and Holt’s Department Store employee Haley Randolph wins a seven-day all expenses paid vacation at exclusive Rowan Resort off the California coast.  Ecstatic, she briefly wonders about her sudden run of luck as this is her second Holt contest reward while also refusing to dwell on her ex-boyfriend Ty Cameron, whose family runs the chain.  She invites her BFFs (Marcie, Bella and Sandy) to join her.  

However, the quartet’s mingling with the ultra-rich and famous is interrupted when Haley searching for a Sea Vixen beach bag instead trips over the corpse of maid Jaslyn Gordon.  Though ruled an accident, Haley believes someone killed the maid; her theory is affirmed when she recognizes FBI agent Luke Warner at the resort though the Fed insists he is here for a wedding only.  In spite of not losing sight of what matters (obtaining a Sea Vixen) and knowing the danger of confronting a dangerous criminal (see Evening Bags And Executions, Tote Bags and Toe Tags, and Slay Bells and Satchels), Haley investigates.

The seventh Haley Randolph “Handbags and Homicide” amateur sleuth is a fun lighthearted whodunit.  The jocular storyline amuses the audience as the heroine struggles to keep her priorities in order with the search for the Sea Vixen superseding the search for the killer.

Harriet Klausner