Monday, August 31, 2009

Primitive-Mark Nykanen

Primitive
Mark Nykanen
Bell Bridge, Oct 2009, $16.95
ISBN: 9780982175644

Renowned model Sonya Adams has no prior notice of a shoot for the Frontier Ahead in Bozeman, Montana, but tells Chatwin Modeling Agency agent Jackson she will be there. She is disappointed that her twenty-three years old obstinate, opinioned offspring Darcy failed to return her call, but that will not prevent her from catching the flight tonight from Denver tonight. Still she feels a little better when she is able to take Darcy out for her birthday before catching the one-hour flight.

Sonya is abducted in the Bozeman airport and taken to an isolated area hours from the city. The Council of Consensus survival group informs Sonya she has been found guilty by the Earth’s Court of Justice for championing “rampant consumption”. They explain her choices are to die brutally or speak up against what she stood for as the cult possesses top secret proof that the feds lied about the timeline of global warming; which is yesterday. The cult blows up a refinery to the shock of most Americans who consider them terrorists and uses Sonya as their spokesperson with authorities assuming she is a victim of the Stockholm syndrome. Though they picture themselves as Malcolm X to Al Gore’s Martin Luther King, none of the Council factored in Darcy’s obstinacy; she is coming for her mom in spite of eco-terrorists, government, oil or Queen Katie Corwin preferring mother and daughter to come home in body bags.

This is an exciting gripping thriller that hooks the audience from the onset when Sonya is kidnapped and never slows down even when terrorists overdo the explanations. The story line is fast-paced built off the premise that global warming is not a theory or in the future, but reality already beyond the point of return as the earth. A profound cautionary tale, Mark Nykanen makes a strong argument that to save economies but not the earth seems like Gregory Bateson’s double bind theory with a touch of weak tea from Lewis Carroll’s Bread and butter fly dilemma.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Ghosts Of Belfast-Stuart Neville

The Ghosts Of Belfast
Stuart Neville
Soho, Oct 2009, $25.00
ISBN: 9781569476000

Gerry Fegan believed in the cause of freeing Northern Ireland from the British. He was a soldier who did the assigned tasks willing to die for his belief and committed atrocities against adversaries. He felt no remorse when he killed a civilian as collateral damage is the norm in warfare especially urban guerilla warfare.

He was able to ignore the greed of his superior officers as long as the cause was just especially with whiskey. However Gerry is not an ordinary soldier as he has always been able to communicate with the dead. While believing in the cause, he could keep the spirits of those he killed in the shadows, but no more. The Good Friday Agreement leaves Gerry free in Belfast living under British Rule and wondering why he believed. Those he followed in combat and went to prison for now serve in Parliament; while they are fat, dumb and wealthy, Fegan feels the guilt of the twelve innocent people he killed; their ghosts demand he do what those fat cats trained him to do: kill his former allies.

This is a great haunting war story whether one agreed with the IRA or not as THE GHOSTS OF BELFAST could easily have been the ghosts of Saigon or even Baghdad, as the soldier’s psyche depends critically on the cause. The story line is fast-paced and filled with action as Gerry begins his new mission while his former friends send an agent to stop him. Readers will appreciate this thought provoking thriller that will have the audience pondering the prime underlying cause and the short and long term effects.

Harriet Klausner

The Scarpetta Factor-Patricia Cornwell

The Scarpetta Factor
Patricia Cornwell
Putnam, Oct 20 2009, $27.95
ISBN: 9780399156397

Marriage between Benton Wesley and Kay Scarpetta seems to be working out fine even though he remains angry and jealous of police officer Pete Marino. His feelings makes it difficult for them to work together, which they must on her latest cases. Toni Darien was murdered by a blunt force trauma to the head; which is obvious but the time of death is not. Reliable eye witnesses insist she was still alive hours after the medical examiner declared her dead.

Besides her pro bono ME position in Manhattan, Scarpetta is the forensic expert on the CNN Carley Crispin Show, hosted by Carly Crispin whose superiors want to replace her. They want Kay to star on a new show The Scarpetta Factor because she has the gift of always finding the killer. When Kay returns to her ME office, she picks up a Fed-Ex package that strikes her as off kilter. She calls for the bomb squad and is proven right that there was a bomb in the package that could have badley injurered her and Benton. Kay, Benton, her niece Lucy Farinelli,, Pete Marino, ADA Jaime Berger work together on several cases though there is a strain within the sleuthing group. They believe there is a connection to Toni’s death and the disappearance of beautiful millionaire Hannah Starr as well as the bomb scare. None of these so-called experts has found the link between all their cases as a clever diabolical puppeteer works their strings perfectly.

It does not take being a forensic expert to know that Patricia Cornwell’s latest Scarpetta Factor is filled with excitement and plausible twists that also contains revelations about each of the recurring cast; none of this is easy to do when this is number seventeen in this great series. Switching perspectives without slowing down, the story line is told in the third person with varying leads enabling the readers to get deep inside each of the main players especially to what fears and traumas they must overcome. Fans will enjoy competing with the Scarpetta zoo crew in trying to discover who killed Toni and why and what happened to Hannah.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Shadow Season- Tom Piccirilli

Shadow Season
Tom Piccirilli
Bantam, Oct 27 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780553592474

A former NYPD cop Finn teaches literature at the prestigious Upstate New York St. Valarian’s Academy for Girls. Finn finds it ironic that his students wonder how he keeps his collection of books so brand new conceding how easy it is to maintain a pristine collection when you are blind. He has a relationship with Roz the nurse and muses over the crushes his students have on him except for Vi who he and the dean Judith worry about; he also wonders about his former wife Danielle.

Christmas empties the school leaving a few loners with no place to go behind. A blizzard further isolates those still at the academy including Finn. However, the nurse and a student seem to have vanished. Almost immediately afterward, two thugs arrive demanding Finn pay his debt or else. As he fears for those trapped inside the school, he thinks of his detective partner Ray and how many ways he would relish killing him, but for now must somehow deal with the “ill will” of a killer leaving dead students and faculty in his or her wake.

This is an exciting action-packed thriller that hooks the audience from the moment Finn begins his musing and never slows down as the readers wonders why someone is mass murdering those trapped at the school. The story line is fast-paced once the characters are set and never slows down until the anticipated final confrontation with the ill wind and the academy’s champion, a sort of good vs. evil battle on a small scale. SHADOW SEASON is an engaging tense tale as Tom Piccirilli provides a superb suspenseful story.

Harriet Klausner

While My Guitar Gently Weeps-Deborah Grabien

While My Guitar Gently Weeps
Deborah Grabien
Minotaur, Sep 15 2009, $24.99
ISBN: 9780312590963

In San Francisco, someone uses a guitar to hammer the head of Bombardier lead vocalist Vinny Fabiano. No one seems to mourn the death of Vinny, who alienated everyone including his band mates, but everyone grieves the death of the guitar, custom made by the great artist Bruno Baines.

The late Vinny even managed to insult MRI specialist Bree Godwin, band mate JP Kincaid's old lady. JP and Bree remain amazed that the killer would use such a murder weapon. They are not amazed to learn Vinny's prized Zemaitis guitar is missing. Soon afterward, Vinny's guitar technician Rocco Galliano is also murdered. Not wanting to become part of a Christie And Then There Were None, JP and his mates investigate.

The second Kincaid mystery (see ROCK AND ROLL NEVER FORGETS) is an enjoyable amateur sleuth mystery enhanced by a fascinating look at guitar making although that detracts from the whodunit. The lead pair has health issues with JP dealing with multiple sclerosis and Bree struggling with a cancer scare , but unlike guitar manufacturing the illnesses augment the investigation as they make the inquiry that more difficult. Fans will rock with Kincaid as he and Bree follow the chords.

Harriet Klausner

Arctic Chill-Arnaldur Indridason

At Empire’s Edge
William C, Dietz
Ace, Oct 6 2009, $24.95
ISBN: 9780441017591

The Uman Empire has never been challenged by any of their conquests as they increasingly rule the stars; colonizing planets along the way. However, recently a planet has been found containing violent prone shape-shifters; to control the nasty Sagathis, the Uman scientists biologically reengineered a special forces unit the Xeno Corps who has the skill to see past the bodily changes into the essence of these aliens.

A battle with the Vord forced a Xeno Corps ship escorting a captured Sagathi to land on former prison planet Dantha for repairs. The crew including Jak Cato gets smashingly drunk. When Jak regains consciousness with a splitting headache, he learns to his horror that every other Xeno cop he served with was slaughtered during the night. Filled with survivor guilt and fueled by rage, Jak vows to hunt down and kill everyone involved with the slaughter especially the person who betrayed them.

This is an entertaining police procedural (loosely that is) space opera for fans who relish blood, gore and blood. The story line is fast-paced as Jak and the villains emote overly dramatic while bystanders are killed at an alarming rate. Fans who enjoy a blood-spattered science fiction thriller will want to read the first of a two part saga as William C. Dietz provides an exciting but out of control opening act.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, August 28, 2009

Mahu Vice-Neil S. Plakcy

Mahu Vice
Neil S. Plakcy
Alyson Books, Aug 2009, $14.95
ISBN: 9781593501112

Honolulu Police Detective Kimo Kanapa'aka ended his six-months relationship with Fire Inspector Mike Riccardi after his significant other cheated on him while attending a conference in San Francisco; Mike, who is still hiding in the closet from his family and peers, came back with gonorrhea. However, though he kicked the hunk to the curb, Kimo has struggled with his equilibrium; even accepting rough sex with some kick butt guys he meets over the Internet. His brothers and a friend intervene trying to help Kimo regain his self worth.

An arson fire in a shopping center leads to the death of a young boy. Kimo and Mike investigate together; as they did when they first met and fell in love with eighteen months ago. They remain attracted to one another but wary. Kimo finds clues that the fire was set to hide human smuggling and prostitution. He soon finds photos used by a blackmailer to extort money from those caught in sexual encounters that they might not want revealed. This includes Kimo who sees himself in a picture with one of his recent illicit sex mates that if revealed could cost him his career.

This is an enjoyable gay investigative tale that mixes a strong whodunit with deep caring characters. The key to this terrific entry is Kimo who puts a realistic face on a gay cop whose significant other male lover devastated him by cheating on him. The official inquiry into the arson-homicide is super though perhaps too easily forcing Kimo and Mike to meet. However that case and the deep look at issues gays face with in or out make surfing Hawaii’s waves with Kimo and company thoughtful fun.

Harriet Klausner

Top Producer-Norb Vonnegut

Top Producer
Norb Vonnegut
Minotaur, Sep 15 2009, $24.99
ISBN: 9780312384616

The murder of wealthy hedge fund operator Charlie Kelemen has sent shock waves up and down Wall St. Especially stunned is his thirty two years old best friend Grove O’Rourke, who manages two billion dollar in accounts at Sachs, Kidder and Carnegie Investment Bank. Grove saw the homicide along with a few hundred people.

Feeling survivor guilt and wanting to pay homage to his best friend, Grove learns that Charlie’s widow Sam apparently is broke, which makes no sense since Keleman was worth a fortune. He tries to help her while avoiding the financial death by association that frequently takes down Top Producers like him. However, his efforts begin to look futile as his peers and superiors at the bank go after him with ferocity as do the outside competitors. Still Charlie refuses to walk away from the fight for survival at Sachs, Kidder and Carnegie or from learning what happened to O’Rourke’s money.

This is a well written financial thriller that digs deep into some of the voodoo fund flow of Wall St that seems relevant with all that has happened over the past few years. Overall the story line is fast-paced although the plot can slow down with the profundity of fund management as non practitioners will have to be totally focused. Still the tale is fun mostly because Grove is a likable hero swimming in toxic waters. TOP PRODUCER is an enjoyable insider thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Dark Mirror-Barry Maitland

Dark Mirror
Barry Maitland
Minotaur, Sep 29 2009, $24.99
ISBN 9780312383992

In the London Library, Ph.D. candidate Marion Summers researches nineteenth century Pre-Raphaelite artists when she suddenly crumples and drops dead. Since Marion suffered from diabetes, the assumption by all who knew her is the disease caused her death. Recently promoted Detectives Inspector Kathy Kolla leads the official investigation, her first time in charge of a case, though she also expects the medical examiner will determine the cause of death to be related to diabetes.

However, instead the medical examiner finds arsenic inside Summers’ body. Kolla is in charge of the homicide investigation. The cop learns Summers was focusing on the use of arsenic and other poisons by the Pre-Raphaelites. Her theories were upsetting the academic circles as being too way-out. However, that should not be a motive for murder. With Detective Chief Inspector Brock's mentoring, Kolla looks into the personal non-academia life of the victim finding several people who might want to kill her and who had the opportunity to poison her, using ironically what Summers was studying as the means which remains difficult to ascertain.

This is an exciting fresh British police procedural as DI Kolla heads her first investigation as the lead with DCI Brock supporting her. The story line is fast-paced and filled with plausible twists that enhance the inquiry. Fans of the series will enjoy this super Kolla-Brock collaboration.

Harriet Klausner

The Test-Patricia Gussin

The Test
Patricia Gussin
Oceanview, Oct 5 2009, $24.95
ISBN 9781933515199

In Philadelphia, the family of the late famous billionaire philanthropist Paul Parnell gathers for the reading of his will. He had outlived the three women in his life before dying at seventy-five. His first spouse Katherine died in 1963 giving him his two oldest children Daniel and Francis. His second significant other Monica expired in 1995 but they divorced two decades after one offspring, Monica. Finally his last marriage was to Vivian who past away three years earlier after leaving him with three kids (Rory, Ashley and Carla).

The estate is enormous, but his adult children and those with spouses are stunned by what the executor explains to them. Paul felt he neglected his family and decided to “test” them. His five legitimate heirs are further disturbed to lean of his illegitimate offspring Monica. The angriest is Frank and his wife Meredith as they planned on his presidential run funded somewhat by the inheritance. The stipulation is simple: each must give back to society over the next year in order to deserve a share of the billions. Taking advantage of the confusion is avaricious psychiatrist Dr. Conrad Welton who plots to marry Ashley. Let the fun begin.

THE TEST is Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None in a sort of Dynasty Survival contest in the first two years of this century. The story line is driven by the ensemble cast who by their varying behavior seem genuine though most of them spoiled as they cause twists to the plot compounded by a serpent in the battle to own Eden. Readers will enjoy Patricia Gussin’s entertaining tale as Paul wanted to just get his children to give back and not just take, but he could not have known how deadly his test would prove to some of his children and their spouses.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Sheer Folly-Carola Dunn

Sheer Folly
Carola Dunn
Minotaur, Sep 15 2009, $24.99
ISBN: 9780312387754

Writing a book about the SHEER FOLLY of architectural design disasters, Daisy Dalrymple and her best friend photographer Lady Lucy Binscomb travel to see Appsworth Hall; owned by friendly Mr. Pritchard of Pritchard's Plumbing Products. Daisy’s husband Scotland Yard Detective Chief Inspector Alex Fletcher reluctantly will baby-sit their twins while she is away for the weekend.

Daisy and Lucy arrive at the estate only find their host Mr. Pritchard is throwing a garish party attended by Daisy’s friend Julia Beaufort; Lord Rydal known as Rhino; his lover Lady Ottaline Wandersley and her husband Sir Desmond; and Canadian historian Charles Armitage who seems attracted to Julia and she in him. An explosion leaves Rhino dead, but his paramour and his chauffeur survive. The spouses of Daisy and Lucy arrive just in time for the DCI to investigate.

This is an engaging 1920s investigative tale that ironically feels fresh because the local cops are euphoric to have an experienced DCI to work the case. The story line as always in this wonderful long running series (see BLACK SHIP) provides the reader with a glimpse of the English upper class just before the depression. The support cast is solid and the whodunit cleverly devised to enable the reader and Daisy to compete with Alex. It would be SHEER FOLLY for historical mystery fans not to read this superb tale.

Harriet Klausner

The Hunt For Atlantis-Andy McDermott

The Hunt For Atlantis
Andy McDermott
Bantam, Sep 29 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780553592856

Her parents were in Tibet in their quest to find Atlantis when they died. Their deaths shook up their daughter archeologist Nina Wilde, who is in New York City when word reaches her. She has no time to grieve as someone tries to kill her.

Former personal security expert Eddie Chase saves her life. Eddie introduces Nina to reclusive billionaire Kristian Frost and his daughter, Kari. Father and daughter are interested in finding the mythical city and are willing to fund the right expedition; they believe Nina is the right person to lead the quest. Seeing this as a legacy for her late parents, she agrees and begins a globetrotting expedition following clues and dodging human perils fostered on her and her team by The Brotherhood of Selasphorus with Eddie’s help.

This globetrotting breakneck speed thriller will have readers thinking of Indiana Jones (Josephine) as the heroine races back and forth onto four continents being chased by the brotherhood every step of the way. Filled with twists the story line is action, action, and more action as THE HUNT FOR ATLANTIS contains a somewhat limited plot, but fans will enjoy trekking the world faster than the speed of light (or at least the bad guys) with Nina.

Harriet Klausner

Dead Docket-Mitchell Graham

Dead Docket
Mitchell Graham
Forge, Jul 2009, $24.99
ISBN: 9780765322456

They became lovers in New York City (see MAJESTIC DESCENDING), but while John Delaney is a Big Apple law professor, Katherine Adams is an Atlanta lawyer. They miss one another, but keep in contact though long distance relationships are difficult.

Delaney is excited and sad as he has a professional reason to see Katherine. Delaney is heading to Georgia to settle the estate of the daughter of his father’s partner. Apparently Sarah fell off a cliff while camping in Cloudland Canyon in north Georgia Mountains. However, this simple matter turns ugly when Delaney learns O'Connor allegedly stole a file from the US Attorney’s office where she worked as a legal intern; the file contained incriminating evidence against crime boss Warren Blendel. John soon realizes that Sarah’s apartment was searched and that the FBI has kept a case open involving her and her boyfriend Andre Rostov. Not long after that Blendel’s thugs come to Atlanta to bury anyone associated with the evidence. Katherine and John find a tie to his fathers’ death as the case spins further out of control.

Throw away your plausibility meter somewhere on the East Coast and the reader will have a great time going along for the ride of an action-packed thriller. The story line is action-packed and feels at times out of control as Adams and Delaney land in one dangerous disaster after another. Filled with twists, fans will appreciate this entertaining but improbable thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Grace Hammer-Sara Stockbridge

Grace Hammer
Sara Stockbridge
Norton, Sep 21 2009, $23.95
ISBN: 9780393067187

In 1888 in the Whitechapel section of London Grace Hammer and her children live relatively snug especially when compared with their East End neighbors. She and her kids are expert pickpockets, which is how they fund their fine home.

Having taken purses since she was a child and also training her children to do likewise; Grace has a history; she hopes her past remains buried as some of her victims would like to get back at her if they could find her; which is unlikely because of her residence. However, rusticating not out of choice resides one of her victims, the outraged Mr. Blunt. Years ago a beautiful hooker stole a special treasure from him and he vowed to find her and get back what she purloined and more; as retribution is his. Blunt now knows where she hides and exacts punishment but not by directly targeting her, but like she did with his missing piece take from her what she cherishes most.

This is an engaging late Victorian thriller that in spite of being decades after Oliver Twist took place has a similar sense of locale even with the era and section of London being that of Ripper. The fast-paced tale is at its best when the focus subtly is on the dark atmosphere of the East End underground; on the other hand when Sara Stockbridge indulgently turns poetic with flowery figures of speech GRACE HAMMER loses some of its taut dark edge even when the metaphors and similes are gloomy. Still fans will enjoy this fine historical suspense tale in anticipation of High Noon in Whitechapel.

Harriet Klausner

A Prisoner of Versailles-Golden Keyes Parson

A Prisoner of Versailles
Golden Keyes Parson
Thomas Nelson, Sep 1 2009, $14.99
ISBN: 9781595546272

In spite of the Clavell family willing to vow on the bible, King Louis XIV refuses to accept their contention as he firmly believes that Philippe Clavell is not his son. Knowing how obstinate and dangerous the monarch can be, the Clavell brood flees hoping for sanctuary in Switzerland, but fails to get out of France as the monarch spares no expense sending Captain Maisson to bring back Madeleine and her oldest son Philippe to what he calls the most beautiful palace, Versailles.

The King's men capture them and escort Madeleine and Philippe to Versailles. Madeleine depends on Pierre Bovee, who kept her safe once before; while Philippe tries in vain to persuade the ruler that he is not his offspring. However, Bovee is arrested for high treason with little chance of getting out of prison alive. Frightened for her family, friends and herself, Madeleine feels God is either testing her or more likely abandoned her. She also realizes her only way to save her kin and her former protector is agreeing to become the mistress of King Louis XIV.

The second Darkness to Light (IN THE SHADOW OF THE SUN KING) historical thriller is an exciting fast-paced tale starring a strong woman who sacrifices her own well-being to try to keep her loved ones safe. There is plenty of taut suspense and a secondary romantic subplot that tie together nicely in support of the prime story line that focuses on surviving the Sun King’s peccadilloes and wrath in seventeenth century France.

Harriet Klausner

Eye of the God-Ariel Allison

Eye of the God
Ariel Allison
Abington Press, Oct 2009, $13.99
www.abingtonpress.com
ISBN: 9781426700682

The art thief ring the Collectors wants the Dali painting hanging in a Rio de Janeiro museum. Smithsonian curator Dr Abigail Mitchell travels to Rio warns the museum’s director Dr. Ana Santos about the possible thefts. While they meet, two masked men steal several paintings. They are brothers Alex and Isaac Weld who plan to steal the Hope Diamond from the Smithsonian.

Abby is in charge of the fund raising gala with the Hope Diamond as the centerpiece. Alex poses as a journalist and gets close enough to Abby to place a bug on her so that he and Isaac can listen in on discussions about security arrangements. As he gets closer to Abby, his emotions get entangled for the first time with a mark although he intends to go through with the theft. The theft will be easier because at the last moment it is decided Abby will be wearing the Hope Diamond. When she asks her father for help in recovering it, he dismisses her as he had all his life. She learns Alex betrayed her, but though hurt remains resolute to recover what belongs to the Smithsonian.

This is an exhilarating inspiring thriller starring a heroine who never received her father’s affection as a child or an adult yet still covets it and reaches out to him knowing the rejection is coming. Alex gets passed her mental defense mechanisms playing on her need to be loved; his betrayal rips her heart as like her father he affirms men don’t care though he feels remorse and regret. Filled with action on three continents, EYE OF THE GOD is a riveting fast-paced thriller, but it is Abby in spite of another let down by a man remains filled with hope who makes Ariel Allison’s tale a super read.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Trick or Treat-Kerry Greenwood

Trick or Treat
Kerry Greenwood
Poisoned Pen, Oct 2009, $24.95
ISBN: 9781590585320

In Melbourne, large size baker Corinna Chapman becomes concerned when competition moves in down the block from her Earthy Delights bakery. She knows her food is superior to the chain, but their prices are much less than hers. At the same time she is panicky over her shop, an old friend visits her Israeli boyfriend, Daniel Cohen who is busy searching for stolen by the Nazis loot owned by Greek Jews. Georgiana is gorgeous and appears to want Daniel and though she admits to herself jealousy might taint her opinion Corinna believes the bakery too.

As she struggles to hold on to her business, perfectly sane people are jumping off buildings to their deaths. The police shut down foods shops to investigate the root cause. Meanwhile her friend Meroe the witch owner of Sibyl's Cave is unhappy with the gathering to celebrate Samhain. Soon the food issue, the stolen loot, and the witches’ coven camp converge as a deadly predator has been working the neighborhood.

The latest Chapman mystery is a superb amateur sleuth that deftly merges several mysteries with the Lonsdale Street neighborhood goings-on that impact the lead heroine and her friends. The story line is fast-paced from the first confection to the final confrontation as Kerry Greenwood bakes a delightful Australian tale with a terrific twist that will send readers to the previous HEAVENLY PLEASURES of the EARTHY DELIGHTS Bakery.

Harriet Klausner

Chinese Whispers-Peter May

Chinese Whispers
Peter May
Poisoned Pen, Oct 2009, $24.95
ISBN: 9781590586082

The Chinese authorities try to conceal the serial killings of four prostitutes by the Beijing Ripper, whose methods are reminiscent of the late nineteenth century notorious Victorian psychopath. They actually were somewhat successful until the victim is visiting Chinese American Professor Lynn Pann, in Beijing to show new law enforcement tools using the Mermer brain scan method to the Municipal Police Chief of CID Li Yan.

Li investigates the latest homicide with plenty of superiors watching his every move. He thinks the motive is related the Mermer method. As he begins to follow the clues based on the American finding something about one of her subjects, someone with power is trying to destroy him by denying his American lover's visa renewal, kidnapping their son, arresting his sister for drug trafficking and finally firing Li. As an expert falls from a window, Li works the case unofficially, which in China means illegally.

This is a gripping at times gruesome Ripper police procedural with the freshness being the Communist authorization government interfering in Li’s investigation and his romance with his beloved American. The story line is fast-paced on both fronts as Li struggles with ending a serial killer’s murder spree while confronting all sorts of assaults on his loved ones from an unknown adversary with a grudge and highly connected. Fans will appreciate this super Chinese serial killer police procedural and seek previous Li Yan cases (see THE FIREMAKER, KILLING ROOM and SNAKEHEAD); especially those in Beijing.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

How to Rob an Armored Car-Iain Levinson

How to Rob an Armored Car
Iain Levinson
Soho, Oct 1 2009, $15.00
ISBN: 9781569475997

In Pennsylvania Mitch Alden manages an Accu-mart store; he also struggles with the stress and poverty level wages by buying weed to numb the work. However, his purchase fails to help this time as he becomes introspective wondering why he would spend his last money on getting high in order to get through his shift.

Mitch needs a new source of income to pay for his numbing devicers: beer and drugs. He persuades two friends, married father Kevin and Doug who is having an affair with his buddy’s wife to help heist a TV from the store. The three feel a natural high, which encourages the planner of the trio Mitch to go for something more expensive. However, the gang who can’t walk straight (nod to Jimmy Breslin) fail at swiping a Ferrari from a doctor, but become teammates with him trying to sell his Oxycontin hoard. That is half of an afternoon as Mitch and his buds dream of the million dollar deal.

Timely with the economic recession, HOW TO ROB AN ARMORED CAR is a tense yet amusing crime thriller as working class slackers go after the American dream by stealing their way to wealth only doing it the lower middle class way through hard core robberies. The story line is character driven mostly by the three amigos but also to a lesser degree their new business partner. Fans will enjoy Iain Levinson’s entertaining look at DOG EAT DOG working class capitalists.

Harriet Klausner

Capitol Offense-William Bernhardt

Capitol Offense
William Bernhardt
Ballantine, Oct 2009, $26.00
ISBN 9780345502995

Following his time in DC as a temporary appointed US Senator (see CAPITOL CONSPIRACY) Ben Kincaid has returned home to Tulsa to practice law and consider a run for the permanent seat. Professor Dennis Thomas visits Ben asking the attorney to defend him on a murder rap that has not yet occurred. Dennis hates bureaucrat Police Detective Christopher Sentz who ignored his begging to do a missing person’s search for his wife Josylyn. She died after being trapped inside her car for a week following an accident while her vehicle was in a ravine.

Dennis visits a hotel where Sentz is conducting a sting operation. Soon afterward someone fires seven shots at Sentz killing the cop. Dennis swears to Ben he never killed the man though his rage put him over the edge. Caught with questions of client privilege, Ben wonders if he was set up. Still even as he has a political campaign to run, Ben decides to defend the still fuming professor who is at the center of a media frenzy in which everyone believes he killed the cop, but debate whether grief or madness is a justification. Private Investigator Loving begins to uncover dark secrets involving their client, his late wife and the murdered detective that makes the defense even more insane.

The latest Kincaid thriller will delight long time fans as the hero is back in Oklahoma, but working on a case that his chief of staff tells him to drop as it is political suicide. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Professor Thomas asks Kincaid to defend him from a murder he had not yet committed. Fans will enjoy Ben’s latest CAPITOL OFFENSE as he defends a client who confessed his plan before hand and was found at the murder scene with the corpse. William Bernhardt provides a strong fresh entry with a great unexpected climax and coda.

Harriet Klausner

Gallows Lane-Brian McGilloway

Gallows Lane
Brian McGilloway
Minotaur, Sep 15 2009, $23.99
ISBN: 9780312384326

Superintendent Costello directs Garda Detective Inspector Benedict Devlin to warn convict James Kerr as he leaves Maghaberry Prison to not settle in Lifford. Kerr refuses to speak with Devlin insisting he only is coming to town to forgive his former partner Peter Webb, who with others betrayed him during the Castlederg robbery that sent James to prison.

Soon afterward, someone kills Webb whose wife was with her lover Decko O’Kane at the time of the homicide. Kerr was allegedly seen nearby, but Devlin thinks the case is too obvious. He is proven right when Kerri is crucified followed by the murder of Decko. Devlin believes the robbery is the link between the deaths; if he can solve that he can solve the serial killing of those who were involved. The DI has other cases to work too that prove pressure laden to resolve.

Inspector Devlin in his second whodunit (see BORDERLANDS) makes this Irish police procedural so good even when he struggles with anxiety and panic attacks while his spouse and his long time partner Carline Williams beg him to back away from this case that is mentally crippling him. However, the DI cannot; instead he feels compelled to work even harder at this and other cases. Readers will feel root for the hero as he tries to keep his ethical compass steady in spite of the trouble he faces doing it.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Asylum Prophecies-Daniel Keyes

The Asylum Prophecies
Daniel Keyes
Leisure, Oct 2009, $7.99
ISBN 9780843962710

A coalition of terrorists have merged with a plan to deploy Operation Dragon’s Teeth that will make 9/11 look like a quiet day at the park. The only person outside of gangs who knows of the specifics of the upcoming assault is Raven Slade, the daughter of a CIA field operative; resident of a mental institution in Athens, Greece as she suffers from multiple personality disorder (MPD) and talks with her dead sister.

Her father hypnotized Raven to insure she cannot reveal what she knows about 17N and MeK to anyone even the FBI or CIA until they are defeated. However, she is kidnapped and tortured by one of the terrorist groups, the 17N. Rookie FBI agent Frank Dugan is sent to Europe to prevent the plot scheduled for 17 November by the Mujhadeen-e Kalq starting with rescuing Raven so he can learn what she knows.

This is a fast-paced action-packed thriller from the strange opening scene in the Athens hospital and never slows down until the climax. However, readers need to set aside their plausibility meter as several spins like the hypnosis and sending a novice to prevent a major terrorist attack seem farfetched even with late denouements. Still fans of Daniel Keyes will enjoy this exciting tale mostly seen through the hypnotized mindset of an alleged MPD sufferer with voices on her head.

Harriet Klausner

Distant Thunder-Jimmy Root, Jr.

Distant Thunder
Jimmy Root, Jr.
Bedside Books, Aug 2009, $24.95
www.american-book.com
ISBN: 9781589825536

In Plattsville, Missouri Pastor Ty Dempsey grieves the death of his brother in Iraq through his sermons. However, the Deacons are concerned with his recent ramblings; as Ty insists he spoke with God who says Isaiah’s prophecy of the world ending is coming because Israel will react to Syria having nukes by destroying their neighbor. On top of that with Iran ready to retaliate, the prophecy of Ezekiel will come forth with destruction of much of the Middle East and Russia.

At the same time that Ty is shouting fire and brimstone end of days, Israeli Defense Forces Captain Moshe Eldan has family issues to contend with since his mother-in-law died. His wife Tasha grieves her loss by converting to Christianity and she insists Jesus has told her he wants Moshe to do likewise. When Moshe’s plane is shot down over Syria, he becomes a POW only to learn a horrible secret that could bring the end of days to Israel.

Dempsey and Eldan personalize this exciting thriller as the world turns anti-Semitic targeting the destruction of the Jewish state. They are the opposites as the Pastor needs the destruction of Israel if his belief of the End of Days has begun while the fighter pilot zealously defends Israel’s right to survive. Although a strong belief in salvation through Jesus is throughout the solid story line; ironically at the root of the first Lightning Chronicles is the fundamental belief that for the Ezekiel’s prophecy of 568 BC to occur, Israel must survive until the slaughter of the Jews led by the Anti Christ bringing together all the other nations against the country. Although the female characters never gel like the two lead males, fans will relish this profound look at religious zealousness by the prime descendents of Abraham as death to Israel is needed for the start of the End of Days.

Harriet Klausner

The Darkest Room-Johan Theorin

The Darkest Room
Johan Theorin
Delta (Random House), Sep 29 2009, $15.00
ISBN: 9780385342223

Stockholm schoolteacher Joakim Westin, wife Katrine and their two young children move to a family run down manor Eel Point on Oland Island in the Baltic. They repair the old manor until their idyllic life ends when Katrine inexplicably drowns near the twin lighthouses in shallow water that she should have been able to just sit up in.

Joakim has problems adjusting to the loss of his wife following the tragic death of his sister Ethel the year before; he insists to himself Katrine is still with them. While the police close their investigation officially determining a tragic accident occurred, rookie cop Tilda Davidsson has problems with the drowning death by accident ruling. She investigates on her own time, but she like Joakim will learn renovation of a musky old house will not remove permanent residents or secrets of those who once resided there.

This dark Swedish thriller grips the audience with its gothic descriptions that have readers anticipating more pending doom even after Katrine drowns as the history of Eel Point is one of tragedy. The audience will wonder whether something from beyond stalks Oland Island and Westin as there is a history for it. The current death is a sort of locked room scenario since there are no footprints are on the beach while readers also ponderi what lies inside the hidden DARK ROOM. As he did with ECHOES FROM THE DEAD (also set on Oland Island) John Theorin provides a super psychological suspense as Joakim fears he is losing it with his need for closure and he doesn’t want his children disturbed especially his daughter who insists she hears her mommy calling her.

Harriet Klausner

The Disappearance at Pere-Lachaise-Claude Izner

The Disappearance at Pere-Lachaise
Claude Izner
St. Martin's Press, Sep15 2009, $24.99
ISBN-13: 9780312383756

In 1890 Paris, heeding a spiritualist who advised her to see her late husband Armand at his gravesite in Pere-Lachaise cemetery, Odette de Valois tries to calm down his restless spirit. However, after following directions, Odette never returns home. Her concerned maid Denise De Louarn visits bookseller Victor Legris to ask for his help. He agrees to investigate what happened to the late geologist’s widow as he was once her lover.

Victor, who solved the case of the MURDER ON THE EIFFEL TOWER and his shop assistant Joseph Pignot begin to look at clippings of crime the latter has cut from papers. Victor learns that an elderly person carried away Odette’s body from the cemetery. Soon afterward Denise drowns in the Seine. Victor believes the death of the maid is tied to the vanishing of her employer. He and Joseph begin to find links between Armand’s work on the failed canal at the Isthmus of Panama, a valuable painting that should be worthless, and murder.

The whodunit is a device to bring late nineteenth century Paris to life in what is a super historical. Victor is like the period as he makes his inquiries he meets a world of foreign delights since Paris is the cultural capital of the world during that era. Fans who appreciate a deep look at a period through its fine arts but also wrapped inside a taut mystery will want to join Monsieur Izner on his fabulous guided tour of the Left Banke and other artsy sections of Paris circa 1890.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Night Monster-James Swain

The Night Monster
James Swain
Ballantine, Sep 15 2009, $26.00
ISBN: 9780345515469

When. Jack Carpenter was just two years on the force of Broward County’s Sheriff Department, he handled a 911 call of a woman being assaulted in her apartment at Sunny Isles. He kicked in the door only to have the huge assailant hammer him breaking his nose as the giant tells him no pigs at his party. He leaves with Naomi Dunn.

Eighteen years later that case remains cold except in Jack’s nightmares. No longer with the police after being forced out for beating up a suspect, the former head of Broward County Sheriff Department’s Missing Persons Unit still reads unsolved cases hoping to find an edge including the Dunn case in which the culprit was 6’10”, 300 pounds and the victim a second degree black belt who kicked out two of his teeth yet failed like Jack to stop him.

After wrestling with an alligator to rescue an autistic child, Jack gets a call from his daughter Jessie, who plays basketball at Florida State and is in town for a regional NCAA tournament game. She tells him about a stalking videographer who frightens her and her teammates with his persistence. He meets Mouse and Lonnie the giant who has haunted him all these years. This time the target is Sara Long, the Seminoles leading scorer. He failed once but vows not again to capture the killer.

In his incredibly fast-paced third case (see MIDNIGHT RAMBLER and NIGHT STALKER), private investigator Jack Carpenter refuses to allow a second abduction to haunt him like the first one still does. In spite of Lonnie nearly killing him a couple times and his frequent trips to the hospital, he refuses to quit. The help from Sara’s dad Karl and FBI friend, Ken Linderman (whose daughter was abducted), add to a terrific action-packed one sitting thriller.

Harriet Klausner

The Ninth Daughter-Barbara Hamilton

The Ninth Daughter
Barbara Hamilton
Berkley, Oct 2009, Sep 29 2009, $14.00
ISBN: 9780425230770

In 1773, the Sons of Liberty demand representation in England’s Parliament and a say in running the colonies that they consider a country. They are preventing a ship containing tea imported by the West Indian Company from unloading. Abigail Adams is at the periphery of the standoff as her spouse John is one of the leaders of the tea boycott. She visits her friend Rebecca Malvern, who tells her that her husband abuses her.

Abigail finds a corpse of a woman on the kitchen floor. Before she goes for help, she notices Sons of Liberty items everywhere. John and his brother Sam arrive to clean up the mess; the victim is Perdita Pentyre married to a wealthy merchant and mistress to the colonial governor. Rebecca is missing and Abigail believes she has been abducted. She intends to find her friend as does Sam who believes Rebecca possesses a ledger containing the names of the Sons of Liberty in other colonies and the cipher which is used to communicate with them As her husband is accused of murder, her inquiry takes her into the worst sections of Boston where homicide is a daily activity.

Barbara Hamilton writes a super Revolutionary War era Massachusetts Bay Colony amateur sleuth starring real historical figures who fans the flames of revolt two years before the “shot hear round the world” (Emerson’s usage and not that of Bobby Thompson). The mystery is well crafted even though the audience knows John is obviously not the killer since this is not an alternate historical. The story line provides a deep look at Boston as rebellion is in the air. Fans will want to join the tea party hosted by Ms. Hamilton with guests being a who’s who of Colonial Massachusetts.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Cottonwood Whispers-Jennifer Erin Valen

Cottonwood Whispers
Jennifer Erin Valen
Tyndale, Sep 1 2009, $12.99
ISBN: 9781414333267

In 1936 in Calloway seventeen years old Jessilyn Lassiter has two goals for this summer. First she hopes to find work and second prays Luke tally notices her after four years of unrequited love. Jessilyn also worries about her best friend, black Gemma Teague hanging with Joel Hadley, as he is trouble.

In a hit and run someone runs over little Callie. The townspeople are shocked and want the culprit lynched. Gemma reveals some information she has to Jessilyn and Luke that might save the life of an innocent man. However, her word as a black means nothing against that of white man especially one who is rich and influential.

This is an interesting Depression Era southern thriller focusing on vigilante justice. The story line is character driven as the white mob wants to lynch elderly black Mr. Poe while Jessilyn tries to avert a second tragedy as she knows an innocent man will die, but finds no easy answers not even when she begs for divine intervention as her faith is waning. Fans will appreciate this deep historical tale that remains relevant today for instance with the health care debate as Jennifer Erin Valen provides readers with a strong character driven plot as people draw false conclusions in spite of contrary evidence.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, August 21, 2009

As If By Magic-Dolores Gordon-Smith

As If By Magic
Dolores Gordon-Smith
Soho, Aug 2009, $25.00
ISBN 9781569475881

In the 1920s in London, South African expatriate George Lassiter breaks into a house he believes is empty. However, instead he hears voices in what sounds like the murder of a woman. Not sure what to do, he goes to leave quietly only the police arrest him accusing him of attempted burglary.

He tells the cops what he believes happened inside the house, but they find no evidence of a homicide. Private investigator Jack Haldean learns of his WWI flying mate’s problems and goes to get him out of jail. George explains to Jack what he heard, why he was in the house and who owns it. Jack believes George that a murder probably occurred and that he was cheated by an impostor out of his inheritance. Jack investigates and learns the owners of the house are relatives of George who probably abetted the con artist who stole his bequest. Jack begins to piece together something more horrifying as an apparent serial killer is the loose while London remains ignorant.

The third Jack Haldean 1920s whodunit (see A FATE WORST THAN DEATH and MAD ABOUT THE BOY) is a terrific historical mystery that brings to life London through the eyes of an emigre author just after WWI. The story line is fast-paced from the moment George breaks into a house he believes he owns. Fans will relish Jack’s inquiry as he finds much more than he expected.

Harriet Klausner

The Brutal Telling-Louise Penny

The Brutal Telling
Louise Penny
Minotaur, Sep 22 2009 $24.99
ISBN 9780312377038

In Three Pines, Quebec, the murdered corpse of an unidentified elderly male is found in a bistro. Chief Inspector Armand Gamache investigates the death in which no one seems to know who the person is. Armand finds a cabin in the woods that allegedly was used by the old dead man. However, the shocker is what is inside the remote edifice. The CI sees a virtual treasure trove of first edition books to items that vanished during WWII.

The prime suspect is the bistro owner, Oliver. However Armand believes that is too simple a solution as the body conveniently ended up there; whereas Oliver would have killed the victim elsewhere and looted the cabin assuming that is the motive. The CI begins to dig deeper in an attempt to find the truth as summer turns to fall.

The latest Quebec village police procedural (see A RULE AGAINST MURDER and THE CRUELEST MONTH) is a super whodunit as Armand feels strongly that the prime suspect is innocent but the clues seem to prove his guilt. The story line is driven by his investigation, but enhanced by a strong support cast of villagers. Fans will enjoy this terrific entry in what is one of the better mystery series.

Harriet Klausner

Dexter by Design-Jeff Lindsay

Dexter by Design
Jeff Lindsay
Doubleday, Sep 8 2009, $29.95
ISBN: 9780385518369

Miami Police department forensic technician Dexter Morgan has just returned from his honeymoon with his wife Rita in Paris. However, he has no time to ease back into his role of studying blood splatter patterns. Two corpses brutalized in a way that only Dexter would appreciate (especially the fruit “basket” designer body) have been found on the beach; a sacred part of Miami unlike the streets.

Dexter’s sister Sergeant Deborah is investigating the homicides when a suspect Alex Doncevic stabs her before fleeing the scene. Dexter assumes Alex is the serial killer and murders him; not out of sibling love or loyalty but because he is an avenging angel murdering murderers. However, to his shock his homicide of Doncevic appears on You Tube while Dexter also realizes the serial killer remains free to keep playing with him.

This is an amusing satirical Dexter thriller as his latest caper is a bit more personal than usual. Although the plot is thin and the climax feels forced, Dexter and his straight foil Doakes make for a delightfully droll dark dueling duet as the serial killing technician balances a wife with his homicidal activities.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, August 20, 2009

13 1/2 -Nevada Barr

13 1/2
Nevada Barr
Vanguard, Sep 29 2009, $25.95
ISBN: 9781593155537

In 1971 eleven year old Dylan Raines killed his entire family except his older brother Richard whose leg was severely sliced up. Dylan suffered from selective amnesia not recalling how he murdered his father, mother, sister and cat with an ax that put him in the international headlines as Minnesota’s “Butcher Boy”. Richard takes Dylan from Rochester to New Orleans with him to start over.

Polly Deschamps grew up in Mississippi living in a brutal home. At fifteen she fled into the night vowing to never return. Now she is a professor at Tulane raising two kids as a single mom following a divorce. Polly remarries charming Marshall who is extremely nice to her daughters. However her new spouse acts odd at times and her brother-in-law Danny is even stranger; which begins to frighten her.

With Anna Pigeon taking a breather, Nevada Barr provides a compelling psychological thriller that grips the audience from the start to the finish in a one sitting family drama. The story line is character driven as the strong casts including powerful secondary players like the tarot card reader make for a tremendous tense tale.

Harriet Klausner

Spoon-Robert Greer

Spoon
Robert Greer
Fulcrum, Oct 2009, $24.95
www.fulcrumbooks.com
ISBN: 9781555916893

Teen T.J. Darley is driving on I-90 in Hardin, Montana when he picks up hitchhiker Spoon who is half Indian and half Black. He is wearing an expensive hat, but no boots. Sam tells T.J. he seeks his roots and believes he might find information on his past soon. T.J. questions the drifter’s qualifications on ranch work and likes what he hears. He brings Spoon to his parents’ spread The Willow Creek Ranch as he wants his family to hire Sam as they desperately need an experienced hand,

Spoon proves he knows how to work at a ranch, but he also fears trouble is coming as he has had a premonition. A drought will add problems to the family as well as a coal company that wants the land cheap; Acosta Energy gets what it wants at the price it will pay. When the father of J.T. rejects the offer, all kinds of dirty tricks occur to destroy the family. However, the Darley brood and Spoon fight back, but during a confrontation an accident occurs that if not rectified could destroy all the ranchers and their families.

SPOON is a fascinating character who while seeking his roots finds a family in the Darleys who treat him as one of them. In turn he has their backs against Acosta and its dirty tricks. Readers learn how much hard work it takes to run a Big Sky ranch successfully and how fast big business can run down a ranch or other property when the “need” suits the suits. Though his side of the dispute is apparent, Robert Greer has written a thought provoking work as environmentalists and energy companies fight over land usage.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Evil for Evil-James R. Benn

Evil for Evil
James R. Benn
Soho, Aug 2009, $25.00
ISBN 9781569475935

In 1943 former Boston police officer Army Lieutenant Billy Boyle works on the staff of his uncle by marriage to General Dwight Eisenhower. He is assigned to look into a damaging raid of an American army depot in Northern Ireland in which thieves stole 50 Browning automatic rifles plus 200,000 rounds of ammunition; the brass fears IRA activity using the stolen weapons and the encouragement of the Nazis to disrupt the allies especially Great Britain.

Not too far from the depot, the assassinated corpse of an IRA agent is found; in his hand is a pound note which signifies he was killed for being an informer. While Billy makes his official inquiry looking for a German-IRA connection, he fears he is biased as he and his family support the Republican position even as both sides of the religious divide threaten his investigation.

The latest Billy Boyle WWII mystery (see THE FIRST WAVE and BLOOD ALONE) is a terrific tale of intrigue as the hero struggles with his known personal bias and the suspicion from both sides of the Irish divide. Still Billy is an ethical protagonist who works the case one clue at a time while receiving no cooperation from his superiors and the locals. James R. Benn provides a superb historical whodunit.

Harriet Klausner

Exiles-Elliot Krieger

Exiles
Elliot Krieger
Soho, Aug 2009, $24.00
ISBN 9781569475898

American war protesters have found sanctuary in Canada and Sweden. In fact the European nation welcomes those dodging the draft and soldiers going AWOL. American Lenny Spiegel leaves the states as a draft resistor settling in Uppsala. He is immediately welcomed by American Resisters Movement, who consists of draft dodgers, AWOL soldiers and anti-war protesters. U.S. Army deserter Aaronson leads the motley group of expatriate Americans.

Spiegel looks so much like Aaronson, he was arrested back home for crimes the other committed. With that in mind, Aaronson borrows Spiegel’s passport insisting he needs it to travel to Denmark to help other defectors as he cannot use his own because he would be arrested. When Aaronson fails to return, a panicky Spiegel has no identification to prove who he is even as he yearns to just go home. While everyone in the group assumes he is Aaronson, the real Aaronson is in West Germany pretending to be Spiegel; who now fears his doppelganger has plans for a terrorist act in his name.

Once the players are set, this is a stupendous look with a great twist at the Vietnam War protesters who were welcome to settle in Sweden. The spin is terrific as Spiegel finds himself a stranger in a strange land with seemingly no way out of the hole he helped Aaronson dig him in. Elliot Krieger provides fans with a taut character driven thriller that never slows down as fans anticipate a showdown, but will wonder how can Spiegel make it happen.

Harriet Klausner

Evil at Heart-Chelsea Cain

Evil at Heart
Chelsea Cain
Minotaur, Sep 2009, $24.99
ISBN: 9780312368487

In Portland, Oregon, detective Archie Sheridan continues his deadly grisly chess game with serial killer Gretchen “the Beauty Killer” Lowell who seems to checkmate him ever time (see SWEETHEART and HEARTSICK). Her latest violent assault is leaving body parts all over a bathroom. Archie was in rehab for prescription drug addiction; but checks out of the center to continue his macabre quest to obtain the final victory over his menace.

Reporter Susan Ward accompanies him as he investigates several homicides that look like the gruesome art work of Lowell, but the sleuth feels something is off kilter. He begins to wonder if perhaps one of Lowell’s zillion fans, who see her as a real life Lector since her daring prison escape, might be playing copy cat killer. Meanwhile Lowell continues to taunt and tease him deep inside his heart but also eating at his brain, like many males he wants her.

Readers will feel empathy for Archie who has been painted in many media circles as the villain sort of like an Inspector Javert of Les Miserables stalking America's Sweetheart as capitalism takes over with tours, etc. The story line is character driven by the competition between Archie and Gretchen as fans of the saga will enjoy round three of what looks like a twelve round title fight.

Harriet Klausner

Red Bones-Ann Cleeves

Red Bones
Ann Cleeves
Minotaur, Sep 2009, $24.99
ISBN: 9780312384340

Shetland Islands Inspector Jimmy Perez investigates the murder of Mima Wilson, who was shot to death. The case is somewhat personal as Mima was the grandma of the police detective’s subordinate Sandy Wilson. The locals on Whalsay Island believe Mima’s grandson Ronald accidentally shot and killed her, but Perez has doubts about the theory.

Instead he wonders if the homicide might be linked to an archeological dig on Mima’s land. Ph.D. candidate student Hattie James recently dug up a skeleton that might date back to the fifteenth century or earlier. A second body is found at the excavation location; that person apparently committed suicide leading the detective to assume the bones are contemporary. Perez with Sandy’s surprisingly somewhat competent but reluctant help begins to unravel Wilson secrets that date back to WWII and the resistance.

The third Shetland Island police procedural (see RAVEN BLACK and WHITE NIGHTS) is a super whodunit. Jimmy is terrific as he battles the islanders who know Ronald accidentally killed his grandma and thus believe an investigation is a waste of time and money. Fans will enjoy Jimmy’s efforts to uncover what really happened on Whalsay Island with no one, not even Sandy who is pulled between family and work loyalties, fully cooperating.

Harriet Klausner

The Yard Dog-Sheldon Russell

The Yard Dog
Sheldon Russell
St. Martin’s, Sep 1 2009, $24.99
ISBN: 9780312566708

In Oklahoma as WWII draws to a close, Hook Runyan touches his armless sleeve and thinks back to his ex wife. She walked away without a mark from a car accident that cost him his limb in which he was a passenger and she the driver; she walked away from him too. Currently he lives alone in a junker caboose near where he works at the Waynoka Train depot just south of POW Camp Alva.

When his only friend moonshiner Spark Dugan is found dead in the Waynoka rail yards, no one cares except Hook who knows it his job as the local yard dog to investigate, but this is personal. He begins to uncover unsavory things about his dead buddy including his belonging to a smuggling ring stealing army supplies and selling them on the black market and with ties to the camp. Camp Commander major Foreman refuses to cooperate while newcomer Dr. Reina Kaplan implements an internationally outlawed brainwashing program. Neither of them can deter Hook from his inquiry

This is a super mid 1940s mystery that uses the investigation to provide readers with a deep look at the POW camps on American soil and at rationing American capitalist style. The story line is fast-paced as the YARD DOG Hook does his detective job by conducting an inquiry into the death of his buddy. Although the whodunit is well written and very entertaining, the historical view owns the novel as Sheldon Russell provides the audience with an interesting glimpse at WWII in the Oklahoma home front.

Harriet Klausner

Murder at Longbourn-Tracy Kiely

Murder at Longbourn
Tracy Kiely
St. Martin’s, Sep 1 2009, $24.99
ISBN: 9780312537562

In DC, newspaper fact checker, Elizabeth Parker fears another New Year’s Eve alone. Still she makes resolutions to give up fat especially her cheating boyfriend. She heads up to the Cape to spend the holiday at her great-Aunt Winnie's bed-and-breakfast the Inn at Longbourn.

At the B&B is Winnie’s childhood enemy Peter McGowan who seems a lot more attractive as an adult than he was a pest. Other guests are also attending as Winnie’s mystery gala holiday weekend is expected to be fun. That is until someone is actually murdered and Winnie is the prime suspect turning Elizabeth Parker into Nancy Drew, adult amateur sleuth playing Clue with a horde of suspects.

Although the story line is thin and goes exactly the way the audience will expect, MURDER AT LONGBOURN is a fascinating entertaining cozy due to aunt and niece tossing all sorts of Jane Austin quotes into the fray. Elizbath is terrific as the lead protagonist with her referring to Pride and Prejudice as a guide while seeking clues; she needs to join the Jane Austen Book Club (movie and Karen Joy Fowler’s novel). Her great aunt brings New England eccentricity into the mix while the guests are suspects as far as her niece is concerned. Tracy Kiely provides a fun tale of sleuthing, Austen style.

Harriet Klausner

Collision of Evil-John J. Le Beau

Collision of Evil
John J. Le Beau
Oceanview, Sep 2009, $25.95
ISBN: 9781933515540

In the Bavarian Alps, American backpacker Charles Hirter is hiking when he is brutally murdered. His is CIA operative brother Robert goes to Bavaria to bring his body home, but also to find his sibling’s killer and why.

German police detective Kommissar Franz Waldbaer leads the investigation, but no clues surface. Meanwhile Robert employs CIA methods and soon obtains some information on the motive behind his brother’s death. A Nazi insists that a dark secret from WWII was hidden in a cave near where Charles’ battered corpse was found. Robert makes further inquiries and soon concludes Islamist terrorists have found a weapon of mass destruction they plan to use. Teaming up with the Kommissar, Robert hopes to prevent a tragedy of epic proportions.

Although the plot has been overused since 9/11 and thin, COLLISION OF EVIL is an engaging suspense thriller that constructs the plot from the realism of finding unexploded WWII bombs six decades after the hostilities ended. The story line is action-packed but very straightforward especially in light of the American being a CIA operative (should have been an accountant). Still fans will enjoy this solid suspense German police procedural CIA antiterrorist thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Black At Heart-Leslie Parrish

Black At Heart
Leslie Parrish
Signet, Sep 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9780451227812

Black Cat computer guru Lily Fletcher has proven a god send to the field operatives working to bring down Internet predators. Team leader Wyatt Blackstone especially appreciates Lily, but also hides how attracted he is to her. When she dies in an operation (see PITCH BLACK) Wyatt grieves the loss of a teammate and his failure to tell her how much he wanted her.

At her funeral, Wyatt receives a call from a severely injured Lily, who escaped her abductor, but is in mortal trouble. Wyatt and Brandon Cole bring her home, but the frightened Lily cannot identify her culprit. She persuades the agents to let her remain dead for now. Soon afterward, a serial killer leaves "lilies" with the bodies; someone has targeted his Lily and Wyatt plans to give the predator a wreath when he brings the psychopath down.

The third Black CAT romantic suspense thriller (see PITCH BLACK and FADE TO BLACK) is a super tale that follows up directly from the events of the previous book with a deep focus on Wyatt who goes from grief over the loss of the teammate he loves to a myriad of feelings when she whispers to him over the phone to come save her life. The story line is fast-paced yet perspectives change as Leslie Parrish juggles her cast nicely adding to the intrigue and suspense. Fans will enjoy Blackstone and his Black Cats teammates going after the one left behind only to cleverly change into an exhilarating serial killer mystery with all the clues pointing at hacker Lily of the field.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, August 17, 2009

Box 21-Anders Roslund and Borge Hellstrom

Box 21
Anders Roslund and Borge Hellstrom
FSG, Oct 13 2009, $26.00
ISBN 9780374282950

Twenty-five years ago in Stockholm, criminal Jochum Lang left cop Anni Grens an invalid. Her spouse police detective Ewert Grens vowed to insure this punk never got freed. Now Jochum walks; but Grens, ignoring the pleading of his long time crony Bengt Nordwell to move on, stalks him looking to find something to return the SOB to prison.

Grens and his partner Sundkvist arrive at a violent crime scene. Teenage Lithuanian prostitute Lydia Grajauskas was nearly killed by her Russian pimp. The Swedish detectives learn that Lydia and Alena Sljusareva were tricked into coming from Lithuania to Sweden three years ago under the ruse of legitimate employment, but sold as sex slaves instead; Jochum the enforcer is involved with the ring to Grens’ glee. However while at Soder Hospital recovering from the beating, Lydia fearing deportation takes hostages.

This is a super Swedish police procedural with several twists and spins as what related events that happened over the past quarter of a century are told in alternating chapters with what is occurring in the present. The fast-paced story line is character driven as the audience will feel the hatred Ewert does not try to hide as his reason for living is to destroy Lang like he did Anni. Fans who appreciate a refreshing different type of police procedural will want to read BOX 21 as Anders Roslund and Borge Hellstrom keeps the readers off kilter, past and present.

Harriet Klausner

Rough Country-John Sandford

Rough Country
John Sandford
Putnam, Oct 2009, $26.95
ISBN 9780399155987

Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension Agent Virgil Flowers is in a fishing tournament when his boss Lucas Davenport calls him. Lucas directs Virgil to investigate the shooting death of Minneapolis ad executive with strong ties to the Democrats Erica McDill at the nearby Eagle Nest Lodge.

Virgil quickly heads to the Grand Rapids to learn what he can at the lodge. He interviews owner Margery Stanhope, who explains most people who stay at the lodge are lesbians. Virgil questions the all girl rock band and wealthy guests who can purchase young men or women for a tryst without blinking. As Virgil investigates he learns there was a homicide here last year that seems unrelated, but now he seeks a link when a third killing occurs. He knows he better find the killer before another homicides occur.

The setting of the lodge being a place for lesbians to relax and have fun makes for a great counter to super womanizer Virgil, who is at his outlandish amusing best as he muses whether he is in heaven or hell. The investigation is super with Virgil adjusting his theory to new clues and especially another homicide. Fans who enjoy the Davenport police procedurals will enjoy the terrific efforts of one of his detective (see DARK OF THE MOON and HEAT LIGHTNING) whose behavior is quite different from that of his superior.

Harriet Klausner

Blood Game-Iris Johansen

Blood Game
Iris Johansen
St. Martin's, Oct 20 2009, $27.99
ISBN 9780312368128

Forensic sculpture Eve Duncan goes home after a complex mentally draining case that featured the murders of several children (see QUICKSAND). She opens her refrigerator to find a goblet with blood stains inside. It looks identical to a goblet found by the corpse of nineteen year old Nancy Jo Norris; the blood had been drained from the U.S. senator's daughter.

Eve’s lover FBI agent Joe Quinn apparently can now see dead people; at least two that is: Nancy Jo and Eve’s daughter Bonnie. He assumes that he somehow obtained this paranormal skill from psychic Megan Blair (see QUICKSAND and PANDORA'S DAUGHTER). The ghosts thirst for blood so assist the human sleuths on a search for a wannabe Dracula copy cat killer.

This is an exciting Eve Duncan serial killer thriller that increases dramatically the paranormal elements. Eve remains restless, but Joe has proven to be a comfort for her as Bonnie haunts her emotionally and haunts him directly. The story line is fast-paced as Eve and Joe with help from beyond hunt a vampire killer, but gothic overtones detract from the suspense as the lead couple is too well known by fans for the pair to be overly melodramatic. Still BLOOD GAME is a fascinating Duncan investigative tale.

Harriet Klausner

Fire in the East- Harry Sidebottom

Fire in the East
Harry Sidebottom
Overlook, Oct 2009, $14.95
ISBN 9781590202463

By AD 255, the Roman Empire struggles to maintain order especially in the outlying sectors as barbarians and infidels pose viable threats as Command and Control is almost nonexistent. Emperors Valerian and Gallienus send the honorary Dux Ripea, Marcus Clodius Bastilla, to take command of the legion on the eastern border.

Marcus leaves his wife in Rome and travels to his new outpost. He arrives in Arete, Syria where his force is struggling to defend against the overwhelming Sassanid Persian army. He expects reinforcements but has no idea how many or when. Meanwhile, he finds treachery and betrayal from within as traitors, especially amongst the elite patrician officers, resent someone who was not even a citizen too long ago ordering them about and the Persians have assassins trying to kill him.

This is an intriguing historical thriller that has relevance today as Harry Sidebottom provides insight into how destructive the Roman Empire can be to defend its freedoms by destroying those very liberties with security enforcement filled with bloody battles. The story line is action-packed from the moment Marcus says good bye to his wife as he deploys where he is unwanted and knows treachery and betrayal will be the norm as no one has his back except for perhaps stabbing him there.. Fans will relish this first Warriors of Rome profound thought provoking ancient historical military thriller as Mr. Sidebottom makes a strong but bloody case affirming Benjamin Franklin’s “They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security”.

Harriet Klausner

The Hidden Oasis-Paul Sussman

The Hidden Oasis
Paul Sussman
Atlantic Monthly, Oct 6 2009, $24.00
ISBN 9780802119186

In Egypt, former CIA operative Alex Hannen commits suicide. Her estranged sister American mountain climber Freya arrives in Cairo for her funeral; but even before reaching Egypt, she has had a hard time picturing Alex killing herself. In Cairo, Freya quickly concludes that her sibling was murdered because the doctor who ruled suicide had no idea her sister could not have injected morphine into herself as Alex was down right phobic in her fears of needles. Though they had a schism Freya vows to get justice for her sibling.

Frey becomes friends of Alex's buddy, pre-dynasty Egyptologist Flin Brodie, who is working a dig in the western desert in search of the legendary lost for almost four millennia at theOasis at the End of the World of Zerzura. As he gets closer to the find of the century, Flin and Freya are soon in deep trouble from assassins who may be working for the government.

The third Egyptian archeological thriller (see THE LOST ARMY OF CAMBYSES and THE LAST SECRET OF THE TEMPLE) is a fast-paced action-packed thriller that keeps reader attention throughout even with some enigmatic late implausible twists. Like its two predecessors the story line has a modern day Indiana Jones like feel to it as one thing leads to another especially when Freya and Flin meet. Fans will enjoy Paul Sussman’s solid though by the book suspense saga as the lead couple appear reaching their end in ironically a paradise Oasis at the End of the World.

Harriet Klausner

Evidence-Jonathan Kellerman

Evidence
Jonathan Kellerman
Ballantine, Oct 6 2009, $28.00
ISBN: 9780345495150

In Los Angeles Doyle is hired to watch over the Borodi property where a mansion remains empty. It is a tedious job as nothing ever occurs until he finds the corpses of a man and woman posing as if they were making love when they died.

LAPD homicide cop Milo Sturgis accompanied by consulting psychologist Alex Delaware look at the crime scene. The woman remains a Jane Doe, but her companion possesses an ID in the name of Desmond Backer. The pair tracks down Des’ boss Helga Gemein, the head of a disbanding architectural firm. She states that the late Becker was promiscuous; a fact backed up by his sister who says he left $50,000 in her rented storage room. They also discover that the Borodi property belongs to Prince Tariq Asman who went by the name Teddi and is the brother of the island nation Sranil. There are rumors that Teddi fled to his island home after killing a woman. The body of the Jane Doe is identified by Des’ sister as her late brother’s friend Darlene Fredd. When the mansion they were killed in is torched, Miles and Alex easily theorize that the homicides and arson are linked, but neither can figure out by who or what while a deadly predator watches them connecting the dots one at a time.

This is one of Jonathan Kellerman’s best works in the long running series as Alex narrates so that the audience sees the investigation through his filter, but Milo is actually the star. He fights the stereotypical uncooperative toads in the road (his superiors, the FBI and foreign VIPs) to obtain the information he needs to solve the case. EVIDENCE is a cerebral entertaining police procedural in which the hero’s approach seems credible leading to reader satisfaction as Milo and Alex work an enthralling complex whodunit.

Harriet Klausner

The War After Armageddon-Ralph Peters

The War After Armageddon
Ralph Peters
Forge, Sep 15 2009, $24.99
ISBN 9780765323552

Israel has been nuked back to the Stone Age. Dirty bombs have devastated the major cities of Europe as well as Las Vegas and Los Angeles too. In fact L.A. is a radioactive desert. Muslin extremists are bringing Jihad to the West just like the West brought death squads seeking Islamic extremists.

The United Godfearing States of America elects an extremist Christian government. One of the first acts is to modify the National Guard into the Military Order of the Brothers in Christ (MOBIC). With a mess back home of fundamentalist Christians seeking a new Crusade that they hope will lead to the Rapture, Lieutenant General Gary “Flintlock” Harris commands troops on a beach assault of what is left of Israel. He and his fighting force are bringing the war to the Jihadists. High tech weapons of mass destruction have failed so fighting reverts back to pre electronic command and control. The world is on the brink of pandemic genocide as both sides in this religious war claim the Holy Land even if it is a wasteland.

This is a powerful cautionary tale that warns if present international and internal American relationships continue on the current path hell on earth will occur as religious fundamentalists who proclaim God’s mandate makes them right will bring radioactive Crusades to the world. The story line is fast-paced from the moment that Flintlock leads his unit onto the beaches of what was once called Israel, but now is a radioactive wasteland called The Emirate of Al-Quds and Damaskus; a long way from what was Mt. Carmel. Fans will appreciate Ralph Peters' deep thriller except for those who are always righteously right.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, August 16, 2009

There Goes the Bride-M.C. Beaton

There Goes the Bride
M.C. Beaton
Minotaur, Sep 29 2009, $24.99
ISBN: 9780312387006

In a small village in the Cotswold of England, Agatha Raisin is getting more and more cases for her new detective agency. Overworked and needing a rest from her caseload Agatha takes a vacation visiting several of Europe’s most famous battlefields. She goes to Istanbul to see the infamous Charge of the Light Brigade during the Crimea War. However, Agatha is horrified to see her former husband James Lacey and his much younger fiancée Felicity Bross-Tilkingtonare also there.town. James assumes the obsessive compulsive Agatha Raisin is stalking him as he also sees her a continent from home in the Gallipolis.

Back in England, Agatha ignores his accusations and tries to ignore him too although the entire village is coming out for his second marriage. Agatha buries herself in her work while James waits for his bride to walk down the aisle; only to find her corpse with a bullet hole in it. The police suspect Agatha in a crime of passion, but she has witnesses that place her elsewhere. Felicity’s stunned distraught mother hires Agatha to find out who killed her daughter as she distrusts the cops to do an adequate job once they fixate on a suspect; in this case Agatha in spite of her alibi. However, her investigation proves dangerous as someone wants to inter Agatha resting in peace next to Felicity.

The twentieth Raisin cozy retains the amusing freshness and out of control fun of the previous entries as once again crotchety Agatha is her usual acerbic self with her ex, his fiancée, the cops, and returning sleuth Toni Gilmour. She is even acrimonious with her new love interest, Sylvan Dubois, a friend of Felicity’s father; as she suspects both of them in some dubious activities. The whodunit is a wonderful puzzler, but as always in this fabulous series, fifty something abrasive, acerbic Agatha owns the story line a she verbally dishes out A SPOONFUL OF POISON to anyone who ventures nearby.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Harold Robbins' The Shroud-Harold Robbins and Junius Podrug

Harold Robbins' The Shroud
Harold Robbins and Junius Podrug
Forge, Oct 13 2009, $25.99
ISBN 9780765318312

In New York City, dishonored antiquities expert Madison Dupre struggles to make a living ever since her reputation was shattered by the duplicitous late Sir Henry Lipton. Whenever she thinks of the man who destroyed her, she prays he is burning in hell.

Thus when her former associate calls her proving his death was an exaggeration, she is disappointed he still lives. However, Sir Henri, wanted on at lest three continents for art theft, offers her a deal she would love to refuse, but the $20,000 is desperately needed so she agrees to join him in Dubai in search of a painting of Jesus allegedly interred with him in his tomb just after the crucifixion. Sir Henri has an impatient client, Boris Alexandrovich Nevsky, eager to add the artifact to his collection. As she soon escapes death in Dubai, Istanbul and elsewhere, Madison knows she should have said no although the Russian is quite a hunk even if she distrusts him outside the boudoir.

The follow up to the LOOTERS is a typical Junius Podrug version of the late Harold Robbins’ thrillers: filled with sex, sex, action, and sex in exotic locations that add to the intrigue of a heroine as a stranger in a strange land. The story line is fun to follow as Madison is having a good time dodging assassins though the plot is thin and too much in style like the “franchise” even with a strong religious element throughout the tale. Still fans of Mr. Robbins will have a good time following the lead female’s escapisms as Mr. Podrug provides an entertaining thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Tie Me Down-Tracy Wolff

Tie Me Down
Tracy Wolff
NAL, Sep 2009, $15.00
ISBN: 9780451227881

After eleven years on the force, New Orleans homicide investigator Genevieve Delacroix still puts on a façade of kicking butt as the only female in the unit. She conceals from everyone especially the testosterone filled homicide squad her secret sexual fantasies. Her current case involves the brutal rape and murder of a teenage Tulane student that she ties to two other similar gruesome homicides.

Cole Adams wants Genevieve to reopen the investigation into the cold case ugly murder of his sister Samantha several years ago. He also begins a documentary on sex and violence. However, from the moment he sees Genevieve in person, his objectives change as he needs to have sex with her. Feeling like a teenager, Cole soon discovers Genevieve’s secret fantasy, but as he ignites her passion, the French Quarter serial rapist-killer targets the only female homicide detective in town.

Although the serial killer subplot is loaded with intrigue, twists, and a terrific climax, it is typical of the sub-genre. However, the light BDSM brings freshness to the lead couple as each enjoys their little spanking TIE ME DOWN games. Tracy Wolff provides an engaging erotic police procedural romance filled with suspense and sex.

Harriet Klausner

Skull Duggery-Aaron Elkins

Skull Duggery
Aaron Elkins
Berkley, Sep 2009, $24.95
ISBN: 9780425227978

Julie Oliver’s cousin Anne invites her and her “Bone Detective” husband Gideon to spend some time at the family’s owned Hacienda Encantada dude ranch in Teotitlan del Valle, Mexico. The pair looks forward to escaping wintry Washington State. Upon arrival in Mexico, Julie is put to work to filling in for relatives missing in action.

Soon afterward, temporary and definitely reluctant police chief Flaviano Sandoval invites Gideon to look at the mummified remains of a drifter Manuel Garcia, and then the bones of a long-dead little girl who's never been identified. Meanwhile another theory debunked by the visitors is what happened to Anne’s mom who allegedly ran off with a thief as Gideon ties past and present by reading the bones.

This is a terrific forensic anthropologic whodunit as Gideon widens his inquiry into the past and present happenings at Hacienda Encantada where he and his wife suddenly find themselves amidst UNEASY RELATIONS. The story line is fast-paced from the onset and never decelerates until the climax; yet there is plenty of forensic insight provided by the Bone Detective. SKULL DUGGERY is a fabulous investigative mystery.

Harriet Klausner

A Duty to the Dead-Charles Todd

A Duty to the Dead
Charles Todd
Morrow, Aug 25 2009, $24.99
ISBN: 9780061791765

In 1916, British army nurse Bess Crawford is injured when the hospital ship she is on is hit. However while she recovers she promised dying soldier Arthur Graham she would deliver his last words to his brother Jonathan that he lied for their mother’s sake.

Believing strongly she owes A DUTY TO THE DEAD, Bess heads to Kent to transmit the message. She learns that another brother of Arthur, Peregrine, has been locked up in an asylum since he was a young teen for murdering the housemaid; he is also dying from pneumonia and desperately needs expert nursing; Bess agrees to provide it and after spending some time with her new patient concludes he is sane though he has selective amnesia not recalling the tragedy that condemned him. As she tends to Peregrine, another patient of hers commits suicide, but something about the death disturbs Bess. When Peregrine recovers much of his health, he flees taking Bess with him as he tries to regain his lost memory of what happened to Lily. Bess further learns of other suspicious deaths since Peregrine was locked away that makes her suspect other family members including her favorite patient, the late Arthur.

Although Inspector Rutledge takes a needed rest, fans will enjoy this strong WWI village amateur sleuth starring a spunky lead character, reminiscent of Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs early years, caught in the middle of a family drama. The story line brings out the horrors of war through Bess’ ailing and dying patients while the whodunit is cleverly devised so the audience and the nurse will keep guessing until the climax. Charles Todd has started another winning historical mystery series.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, August 14, 2009

The Pawn-Steven James

The Pawn
Steven James
Onyx, Sep 1 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780451412799

FBI environmental criminologist Patrick Bowers is sent to Asheville, North Carolina to analyze the corpses of several murdered women in order to precisely determine time and place based on the environmental clues. The serial killer leaves behind a yellow ribbon tied to the hair of the victims and a chess piece nearby.

Bowers begins to tie the clues together, but fears his suspicion might prove politically explosive as he suspects the state governor Sebastian Taylor, who is expected to make a strong run for president, is in the middle of the homicides. Bowers also finds a connection with a cult and Jonestown. With some run-ins with the special agent in charge, Bowers focuses on the case while hiding his grief over his wife’s recent death and fathering a churlish seventeen year old stepdaughter Tessa who wants nothing to do with him as she feels her parents abandoned her; unaware the Illusionist is watching him.

THE PAWN is a super FBI serial killer police procedural starring a unique full blooded hero. Patrick is terrific as an environmental forensic expert while turning to God to help him through his grief and family crisis; as he does not know how deal with his or his stepdaughter’s grief. The serial killer is a bit typical of the genre while the governor is not. Fans will enjoy this fine chess match between Bowers and the Illusionist.

Harriet Klausner

Skeleton Hill-Peter Lovesey

Skeleton Hill
Peter Lovesey
Soho, Sep 2009, $24.00
ISBN: 9781569475980

During a reenactment of the English Civil War battle at Lansdown between the Cavaliers and the Roundheads, participant Bristol University Professor Rupert Hope and another “corpse” leave the scene to share a beer or six. While drinking, the pair finds a human femur that they assume was three and half centuries old so should be re-buried.

A bit more sober, Rupert returns to the scene of the burial to dig back up the bone to show off to his students only to be hammered in the head. Soon afterward Inspector Peter Diamond investigates the bone; he and his team find the rest of the remains of an unknown woman except the skull. As Rupert recovers from a concussion, he is killed. Diamond assumes a connection between the skeleton and the academia’s murder in which the investigation upsets his boss, high society, and the Bristol CID.

This terrific English police procedural is owned as always by Diamond who blunders and steps on feet while working to solve two homicides that occurred years apart. His theory is to solve one solves the other. Fans will enjoy his misadventures in the Bath region as Peter Lovesey provides his audience with a bit of history, geography, and culture wrapped inside an amusing yet well written investigate tale filled with super twists. Inspector Diamond is 24 carets in his latest inquiry (see THE SECRET HANGMAN).

Harriet Klausner

Sidney Sheldon's Mistress of the Game-Sidney Sheldon's Mistress of the Game

Sidney Sheldon's Mistress of the Game
Sidney Sheldon and Tilly Bagshawe
Morrow, Aug 2009, $25.99
ISBN: 9780061728389

They are America’s richest family, but the rivalry between twin sisters Eve Webster and Alexandria Templeton over who will run the multibillion-dollar international Kruger-Brent, Ltd. has been harrowing to the rest of the brood. They even compete at birthing; Eve gives birth to Max while Alexandra dies giving birth to Lexi.

Eve trains her son to be ruthless and hateful while Lexi’s dad and her older brother shower her with love. When Peter is ten he kills his dad; when Lexi is eight she is raped. Over a decade later, the next generation war over who will run Kruger-Brent as history repeats itself. Meanwhile Scottish barrister Gabriel McGregor has come a long way from his impoverish childhood in Aberdeen, but believes his destiny lies with Kruger-Brant.

Almost three decades since Sidney Sheldon's MASTER OF THE GAME, Tilly Bagshawe shows her chutzpah and skill writing a fascinating sequel with the next generation fighting for control. Filled with surprising and yet gripping twists while starring two fully developed lead characters and a solid support cast, MISTRESS OF THE GAME is an enjoyable tale as each of the competitors are chips off the old block. Fans of the original will appreciate the sequel while wondering who will win the game.

Harriet Klausner

Sleepless Nights-Sarah Bilston

Sleepless Nights
Sarah Bilston
Harper, Aug 2009, $24.99
ISBN: 9780060889944

Tom and British expatriate Quinn are ecstatic over her pregnancy and the birth of their first child Samuel. The Wall St. legal duo feels their life is perfect. Then Samuel comes home. The baby does not sleep at night howling louder than a banshee; which means his parents also do not sleep at night. They are learning first-hand how a colicky infant leads to cranky parents as their lives are being nuked while they cannot afford much time away from Wall St. at a time when recession requires more work from those still employed.

Their friend Paul allows Tom and Q to use his Connecticut getaway home while Q’s younger sister, Jeanie baby sits, giving her a temporary place to sleep as she remains unemployed. Tom and Q consider buying the small-town law practice of Kent, who is on a 24/7 drinking binge. The married couple takes over advising Kent’s client, financially strapped Emmie who is in a custody battle with her former husband Ryan; infamously known for domestic abuse, but connected with the cops and the medical community on his side. He possesses insider information on the death of her other child Angela (from another father). The married legal eagles learn Angela’s doctor prescribed aspirin for the child; a medicine linked to Reyes syndrome, but collusion hinders their efforts to make their case.

The fun in this thriller is the baby nuking the well being of his parents with his colicky non-sleep. The legal and secondary romantic subplots go as expected, but Samuel refreshes the story line as it hard to defend a client against an influential adversary on no sleep; tired, irritable, and anxious are just a few adjectives. The sequel to BED REST is an engaging tale as QT stands for quality time defined as giving up their Wall St. kingdom for a good night’s sleep.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, August 13, 2009

A Dark Love-Margaret Carroll

A Dark Love
Margaret Carroll
Avon, Sep 2009, $7.99
ISBN 9780061652783

In DC Caroline Hughes knows she has had enough from her famous martinet husband, Dr. Porter Moross whose abuse could leave her dead. She believes that if she gets a new identity and relocates in some isolated area across the other side of the Mississippi he would not stalk her Though he will search for her, Peter would never give up being Freudian psychotherapist to a Washington who’s who.

On a Greyhound Caroline makes good her escape, accompanied by Pippin the Yorkie, finding shelter two thousand miles from DC as Alice Stevens. There she meets divorced football player Ken Kincaid; both have reasons to not see one another, but the attraction is strong. However, Caroline miscalculated Porter’s obsession or his panic attacks as he is coming ever closer paying a PI to find her and willing to give up his practice to take care of personal business.

This is a super suspense thriller that hooks the audience from the moment Caroline leaves and builds up the tension as readers anticipate Porter confronting her. The romantic subplot between Caroline and Ken feels forced and unnecessary as little Caroline can stand on her own. Fans will appreciate the aptly title A DARK LOVE; knowing the obsessed Peter is coming for his beloved.

Harriet Klausner

Dipped, Stripped, and Dead-Elise Hyatt

Dipped, Stripped, and Dead
Elise Hyatt
Berkley, Oct 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9780425230787

Candyce "Dyce" Dare had a real short marriage which she ended when her husband slapped her. They have joint custody of their son Enoch, nicknamed E. However, her income is low, but she fears asking her husband for support because she believes he will go to court to demand full custody of the little E.

Her new business Daring Finds, a furniture refinishing firm, has not brought in enough money as expected of a new entity. Her inventory is cheap she finds pieces on sidewalks, yard sales and dumpsters. One day whole doing the dumpster dive, Dyce finds a table she believes could prove valuable; however, the corpse filled with lye sharing the dumpster with the table could prove distracting. Soon afterward, her apartment is vandalized with epithets painted on her door. Dyce thinks the perp has a key to her place. On a walk, she finds another body that was soaked in lye in her garage. Both her best friend Ben and the lead detective want Dyce to stop sleuthing. He warns her to stop interfering with his official inquiry, but Dyce fears jail time as she is his number one suspect so Dyce keeps on investigating not quite understanding her tenacity could leaved her diced with lye.

Elise Hyatt is a welcome addition to the lighthearted amateur sleuth sub-genre due to an enjoyable absorbing whodunit. Her heroine is 200-proof spunk as she has an amusing out of time but charming way at looking at life; if she lived in the 1950s she would have been On the Road with Kerouac and Cassidy and spouting poetry with Ginsburg and the beat generation over Moon River. Still with all this capriciousness, she is a fully doting mom raising her son. The support cast is solid especially Big Ben who feels responsible for Holly-go-Lightly and the little E.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Eleventh Victim-Nancy Grace

The Eleventh Victim
Nancy Grace
Hyperion, Aug 11 2009, $25.99
ISBN: 9781401303457

Atlanta ADA Hailey Dean lost her fiancé when he was killed in a violent assault. That harrowing incident sent her to law school and the Office of the DA. However needing to leave the city, she prosecutes her last case successfully; convicting Clint Burrell Cruise for the serial killings of eleven prostitutes. Almost immediately after winning the case, Hailey resigns and moves to Manhattan.

Two years later, Hailey has left the law and become a therapist as she had planned before her beloved was murdered. However, she is shocked when someone begins murdering her patients using the same method that Cruise used. NYPD suspects Dean has lost it and is the person of interest as they find something of hers at a murder scene.

Although the plausibility factor is over the top of the empire State building and the key cast stereotyped from serial killer 101, fans will enjoy this fast-paced thriller that effortlessly switches point of view from distraught frightened avenging Hailey to the calm simmering angry killer. Readers will enjoy THE ELEVENTH VICTIM as Court TV reporter Nancy Grace uses her real life as part of the core of this exhilarating chilling serial killer thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Acts Of Mercy-Mariah Stewart

Acts Of Mercy
Mariah Stewart
Ballantine, Sep 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9780345506146

Mallory Russo of the Mercy Street Foundation hires Former FBI profiler Sam Delvecchio. His first case is a cold case where he looks into the murder of Ross Walker; based on what he learns Sam ponders whether a serial killer did the deed. Sam compares notes with FBI agent Fiona Summers; they agree the same psychopath has killed at least three times including the Walker homicide; a fourth similarly posed corpse is found. However, time and place offers similarities to his life and that shakes Sam to his bone marrow core.

Mercy Street founder widower Robert Magellan seeks his missing two years old son, Ian whose body was not found at the site of the car crash that killed his wife Beth in Western Pennsylvania. Meanwhile Robert’s cousin Father Kevin Burch realizes the serial killer’s victims are being arranged to represent the Seven Acts of Mercy. Sam and Fiona struggle to prevent the final three murders while their predator taunts them.

The third Mercy Street thriller (see CRY MERCY and MERCY STREET) contains two strong subplots: Robert’s effort to find his son and the serial killer’s avenging ACTS OF MERCY. The story line is fast-paced and filled with action and suspense that will have the audience begging for more from Mariah Stewart.

Harriet Klausner

Swan Dive-Michael Burke

Swan Dive
Michael Burke
Pleasure Boat Studio, Sep 28 2009, $15.00
ISBN: 9781929355501

Investment company CEO George Fuller hires private investigator Johnny “Blue” Heron to ascertain whether his son Castor is cheating on his fiancée prim and proper Beverly Whitney. Although the case seems odd due to the client’s relationship with the target, Blue accepts the job.

Not long after agreeing to investigate, a hulk of a chauffeur invites Blue into a black limo; inside is Beverly's father Douglas who has plans to merge his investment firm with that of George. He offers Blue a bribe to bag the case as he wants their offspring married regardless of what his future son-in-law does or does not re womanizing. Even more bewildered, Blue finds the case goes over the top when he finds Castor’s corpse.

With similarity to the Greek mythology Leda and the Swan, SWAN DIVE is an intriguing intelligent contemporary American mystery. The story line is complicated for those unaware of the Greek mythos; which is worth a read before this whodunit. Blue is a solid detective who feels less a heron and more a fish caught by a swan. Fans who know the mythos will relish his inquiry as each lead turns his case upside down; others will wonder about the ties that bind.

Harriet Klausner