Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Ronin's Mistress-Laura Joh Rowland

The Ronin's Mistress
Laura Joh Rowland
Minotaur, Sep 13 2011, $24.99
ISBN 9780312658526

In 1703 Edo, forty-seven ronin samurai arrive at the estate of the Shogun Tsunayoshi's master of ceremonies Kira Yoshinaka. Though the shogun had declared no vendetta, in an act of revenge for turning them into masterless ronin twenty-two months ago; the band’s leader Oishi Kuranosuke beheads Yoshinaka for his evil involvement in the death of their master Lord Asano during a feud; others at the estate were also killed.

Having been demoted from Chamberlain back to his previous job as the Most Honorable Investigator of Events, Situations, and People, Sano Ichiro leads the investigation though he seethes that manipulative, corrupt, ambitious and lethal Yanagisawa was back in power as the Chamberlain. At the same time, Kuranosuke’s mistress Okaru informs Ichiro’s wife Reiko, that the feud is not what is publically believed. Ichiro looks into the strange case of the forty-seven who completed a cleansing ritual and wait further “orders”, but came quietly with him and his detectives. Now he needs to recommend whether the forty-seven commit ritual suicide as the honorable end to the dispute.

This is a great entry in the Feudal Japan saga (see The Fire Kimono and The Cloud Pavilion) based on the legend of the 47 Ronin. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Kuranosuke severs the head of Yoshinaka and never slows down as dedicated Ichiro and his wife uncover anomalies in what looks like a shut and closed case.

Harriet Klausner

The Gilded Shroud-Elizabeth Bailey

The Gilded Shroud
Elizabeth Bailey
Berkley, Sep 6 2011, $15.00
ISBN 9780425242896

Lady Emily Fanshawe’s personal maid Mary Huntshaw walks to her mistress’ bedroom with a hot chocolate only to smell a horrific odur and the room in disarray. Mary starts screaming as she realizes someone strangled Lady Emily and her husband Randal is missing.

Randal’s mother the Marchioness of Polbrook fears her son the marquis killed his wife. Her other son Francis struggles to control his nausea as he takes charge. The Marchioness’ temporary companion Widow Ottilia Draycott offers to investigate the homicide. Though she has doubts the Marchioness agrees as she hopes to keep her oldest son out of gaol. Tillie quickly learns a theft of a valuable family heirloom occurred also. Asking questions of those at the estate, Tillie seeks the motives and opportunities of a house of strangers; while her attraction to Francis helps and hinders her inquiry.

The Gilded Shroud is a charming Regency romantic amateur sleuth starring a wonderful intelligent heroine. The story line engages the reader in the mystery while the romance between “Fan” and “Tillie” enhances the investigation. Sub-genre readers will want Tillie and Fan working future inquiries.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Midnight Sins-Lora Leigh

Midnight Sins
Lora Leigh
St. Martin’s, Aug 2 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780312389086

In Corbin County, Widow Jami Flannigan Kramer misses her late soul mate Ty; so much so she has a fling with Tye’s blood brother Rafer Callahan as the next best thing. Jami also notices how her thirteen year old younger sister Cambria looks at Rafe with adulation. However, everything ends when someone kills Jami and the townsfolk of the county seat Sweetrock blame Rafe and his two cousins. They are exonerated but he leaves town as he joined the military.

Now twenty-one years old, Cami still wants Rafe, who returned to town as a rancher. However, a series of homicides rocks the sweet town with the residents once again blaming the Callahan cousins. Rafe recalls his death bed pledge to Jami, a vow to keep Cami safe. As they fall in love, Cami wonders if Rafe is the killer.

This is an exciting edgy romantic suspense that grips the reader from the opening murder of Jami and never slows down. The fast-paced story line is extremely dark as a serial killer haunts the county. Although the cliffhanging climax leaves little closure while setting up a cousin’s tale, readers will appreciate this taut thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Deep Disclosure-Dee Davis

Deep Disclosure
Dee Davis
Forever, Sep 1 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780446582926

Thirteen years ago in Walsenberg, Colorado, the fire at their home left Alexis Markham’s parents dead. Her father’s friend George placed her in hiding to keep her safe as he knew her dad’s work on a top secret biochemical weapon formula led to his murder and she would be next by whoever betrayed Markham.

George is dead from an explosion in which former San Mateo undercover prisoner Tucker Flynn saw first hand while on the phone with his brother. The CIA A-TAC operative obtains the position of Alexis’ bodyguard to keep her safe and learn what the secret is she conceals. He knows she conceals something that he needs to know. As they fall in love, he realizes he willingly would die for Alexis and she feels likewise for Tucker but she refuses to reveal what she hides.

The latest A-Tac romantic suspense (see Desperate Deeds, Dangerous Desires and Dark Deceptions) is a deadly delightful CIA thriller in which the heroine’s secret as well as who wants her dead make for a compelling tale. The story line is action-packed from the first fire until the fiery finish as the engaging romance supports the intrigue.

Harriet Klausner

Don’t Mess with Texas-Christie Craig

Don’t Mess with Texas
Christie Craig
Forever, Sep 1 2011, $5.99
ISBN: 9780446582841

He manta being “It’s the right thing” to persuade her not to bolt, Nikki Hunt meets her former husband Brian and Sterns lawyer Jack Leon for dinner at expensive Venny’s Restaurant after he pleaded with her that he made some mistakes. The gallery owner knows she is short paying bills like her Nana’s cable and her BFF assistant Ellen’s salary. This is why she is unhappy when Jack leaves her with the exorbitant tab. Mumbling she will kill him, Nikki goes to her car to find Jack dead in her trunk.

The police suspect Nikki killed her spouse. Former cop Dallas O’Conner empathizes with the beleaguered Nikki as he worked at Glencoe PD before being accused unjustly of a crime; now he works as a private investigator. He bet against her innocence until he saw her dinner is now the puke on the victim’s suit. . Since he was once falsely convicted of a crime, he tends to be very sympathetic to those who find themselves in the same position. While his homicide detective brother Tony works to solve the murder while dealing with his broken marriage to LeAnn, Dallas also looks into the killing and that of a related injured victim while dealing with his attraction to the prime suspect.

This is a fun Texas investigative romance that in some ways feels like a throwback to the madcap comedies of the 1930s. The story line is fast-paced from the moment the heroine vomits and never slows down as her knight in shining armor tries to prove her innocence while falling in love with “Leon’s leftover”. Fans will appreciate this terrific Texas two-step.

Harriet Klausner

Garden of Secrets Past-Anthony Eglin

Garden of Secrets Past
Anthony Eglin
Minotaur, Aug 16 2011, $24.99
ISBN: 9780312648367

The intriguing unsigned letter asks retired botanist Dr. Lawrence Kingston to come to a specific address In Mayfair. The anonymous author who says he knows that Dr. Kingston has solved cases wants his help in solving a crime that occurred on his property three weeks ago.

Fascinated by the note, Kingston visits the address, which turns out to be Jardine’s gentlemen's club. Stunned as they have had a checkered past, Kingston is greeted by Lord Frances Morley, owner of the Sturminster a country estate; which is renowned for its historical gardens. Morley explains he wants Kingston to investigate the murder of a man found dead at Sturminster by a little girl. Kingston investigates the homicide believing the enigmatic unbroken code on a monument in the garden is the key; someone agrees as the inquiry places Kingston and Morley in danger.

The fifth English Garden Mystery (see The Water Lily Cross and The Trial of the Wild Rose) is an entertaining whodunit as the past and the present converge during Kingston’s amateur sleuthing. The cast is solid in support of the protagonist who is at his best working the enigmatic murder case. The story line is fast-paced with a fascinating brief afterward explaining the code in further depth. Gardens of Secret Past is wonderful mystery as events two centuries old still remain relevant.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, July 29, 2011

The Betrayal-Jerry Jenkins

The Betrayal
Jerry Jenkins
Tyndale, Sep 21 2011$14.99
ISBN 9781594153884

Chicago Police Department Gang Enforcement Section Detective Boone Drake took a life threatening bullet while leading the arrests of gang leaders and the crime syndicate (see The Brotherhood). On medical leave while he heals at what all natives still call Cook County Hospital (instead of Stroger); from his near fatal wound, Boone has plenty of time to ponder what went wrong. His former partner and current boss Jack agrees with his assessment. Though it makes him ill to consider what he believes happened; he concludes someone inside of CPD tipped off the shooter, which leaves the key informant former gang kingpin Pascual Candelario in jeopardy.

However, as he digs a bit deeper, Boone finds his nightmare turns uglier. He wants to deny what seems increasingly obvious. The evidence points overwhelmingly to Haeley, his new girlfriend.

The latest Precinct 11 Christian police procedural (see The Brotherhood) is a fabulous thriller in which there are no atheists in the fox hole is a critical element in the strong plot. Fast-paced and filled with action, readers will appreciate Boone’s uncertainty about the woman he adores as he prays to God for wisdom. Fans will enjoy this entertaining internal investigation into who sold out the team.

Harriet Klausner

All Cry Chaos-Leonard Rosen

All Cry Chaos
Leonard Rosen
Permanent Press, Sep 1 2011, $29.00
ISBN: 9781579622220

Thirty years old American mathematician James Fenster is in Amsterdam to give a talk on his mathematical economics formula to at the World Trade Organization conference. However, instead of the speech, he dies in a terrorist explosion at his hotel; the killer used a smart bomb military-grade rocket fuel.

Although his health is poor and he grieves the deaths of his loved ones at the hands of a vicious Serbian war criminal, Interpol agent Henri Poincare leads the investigation. He starts with those close to Fenster like the victim’s former fiancée and his grad assistant; as both are missing. However, the inquiry leads away from the females to a militant Christian Rapture group, but Poincare cannot rule out others interested in the late professor’s models.

This super cerebral police procedural is a terrific whodunit with a mathematical formula as the key to the homicide. The story line focuses on chaos theory as Poincare quickly learns while dealing with the mathematician’s fractured personal life, religious fanatics and rival economists, and his own chaotic brain. Readers who enjoy something different in their puzzlers will appreciate the aptly titled All Cry Chaos.

Harriet Klausner

Naughty in Nice-Rhys Bowen

Naughty in Nice
Rhys Bowen
Berkley, Sep 6 2011, $24.95
ISBN 9780425243497

In 1933 in spite of being 34th in the queue to the throne, Lady Georgiana Rannoch is impoverished. She works in a London soup kitchen where she can save money an get some free meals.

The Queen temporarily saves her from more terrible tasting food by assigning her an all expense paid trip to the French Riviera. Her mission is to retrieve a snuff box stolen by nasty Sir Toby Groper. In France, while riding the rails, Rannoch meets the legend Coco Chanel, who shocks the pauper when she asks her to model a new line of clothing when they arrive in Nice. While doing her royal assignment and modeling for Coco Chanel, Georgina investigates whether her lover Darcy O'Mara is cheating on her. However, her efforts merge when she is caught in the middle of a homicide and the royal necklace is lifted.

The latest endearing jocular Royal Spyness amateur sleuth (see Royal Blood) is a delightful Depression Era French Riviera romp. The heroine is a charmer as she fumbles and bungles her investigation while strutting on the catwalk. Coco Chanel adds to the fun as number 34 using the Queen’s money (she hopes) acts Naughty in Nice.

Harriet Klausner

Back of Beyond-C. J. Box

Back of Beyond
C. J. Box
Minotaur, Aug 2 2011, $25.99
ISBN: 9780312365745

In Montana, Lewis and Clark County Sheriff's Department Investigator Cody Hoyt has a problem with the evidence in the house fire death of Hank Winters. Apparently, Hank was intoxicated based on the flask near the corpse, but Cody knew the deceased personally when it came to alcohol; as Hank was Cody's AA sponsor who saved him several times from going on binges.

Though removed from the case due to his connection, Cody believes his sponsor was murdered and due to his friend on the force Larry Olson he helps with the inquiry. Cody finds a frightening series of links of cross country murders with the same modus operandi as the Winters’ death. He also concludes the serial killer is heading to Yellowstone Park where Cody's teenage son Justin, accompanied by Walt Franck the wealthy developer and fiancé to the investigator’s ex wife (and Justin’s mom). Big city Cody goes to the Back of Beyond Yellowstone wilderness.

Joe Pickett gets a respite as C.J. Box introduces readers to a new law enforcement official who has personal and professional issues due to his drinking problem. The investigation is deftly handled while the suspense is stratospheric. Although some of the spins seem over the top of Granite Peak, fans will enjoy this tense thriller starring a flawed cop whose son is the stake in a cat and mouse game with a psychopath.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Bad Always Die Twice-Cheryl Crane

The Bad Always Die Twice
Cheryl Crane
Kensington, $25.00
ISBN 9780758258861

1950s TV star Rex March is found dead in the bed of realtor Jessica Martin. Known for her sexual proclivity with living hunks, Jessica is stunned to have a corpse of her former lover in her bed. Rex was reported dead six months ago. The police name her the prime suspect.

Jessica’s partner Nikki Harper, daughter of movie legend Victoria Bordeaux, investigates the case as she knows her friend would not kill anyone. Nikki is extremely nice to those she interviews as she drops her mom the siren’s name on start struck Hollywood and charms information out of those she feels might have a motive to see Rex dead twice in under a year.

This is a fun entertaining amateur sleuth as Nikki tosses her DNA as the opener to meet suspects and then deploys her considerable charm (more DNA) to obtain info. The mother-daughter relationship brings jocularity and warmth to the well written story line. However, this is Nikki’ tale as she makes the murder mystery fun to read with her gutsy ballsy feminist inquiries.

Harriet Klausner

Flowering Judas-Jane Haddam

Flowering Judas
Jane Haddam
Minotaur, Aug 2 2011, $25.99
ISBN: 9780312644338

In Mattatuck, New York, the corpse of long missing college student Chester Morton is found hanging from a billboard that had been asking for information from anyone who had seen him for a dozen years. The Local Police Chief Howard Androcoelho asks private investigator Gregor Demarkian to help investigate whether Morton was murdered or committed suicide as he was missing for a dozen years.

After taking his friend ninety-nine years old George Tekemanian to the hospital in Philadelphia, Gregor goes to Mattatuck. Although concerned about his friend’s health that interferes with his case focus, Gregor still finds oddities that lead him to conclude Morton did not die on the billboard but was placed there after he was dead. He soon finds a back pack near where the body was found; inside is the skeleton of an infant, which may have belonged to Chester. While Gregor ponders why Chester vanished years ago, the deceased’s shrilling mother demands the cops arrest her son’s former girlfriend while also wanting odd information about her son.

The latest Gregor Demarkian private investigative thriller is an exciting tale that deftly contains a different type of inquiry compared to the last case (see Wanting Sheila Dead). The protagonist works on the mystery of Chester Morton as he seeks answers to several whys that he believes will lead to the culprit; at the same time he is worried that his friend back home will not make it to celebrate his upcoming birthday. Flowering Judas is a strong entry as Demarkian shows both his hard and soft boiled sides.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Neighbors Are Watching-Deborah Ginsburg

The Neighbors Are Watching
Deborah Ginsburg
Broadway, Aug 2 2011, $14.00
ISBN: 9780307463876

In the summer of 2007 seventeen year old pregnant Diana Jones arrives at her father Joe Montana’s home in the upper crust Fuller Court of San Diego. Joe’s wife Allison is shocked by the biracial Diana’s arrival because her husband never mentioned a teenage daughter. Feeling betrayed and irate as she had an abortion as Joe wanted no children, Allison cannot cope without alcohol as even her hair is no longer brushed.

Neighbors Dick and Dorothy Werner gloat over the scandal next door. However, a few months later they are taken aback as their son Kevin is attracted to Diana and likes her newborn Zoe. In October wildfires threaten the area while Diana vanishes. Foul play is suspected as the teen’s extended family and the neighbors are suspects.

The Neighbors Are Watching is an entertaining thriller that looks deeply at the impact of Diana’s disappearance on her family and the neighbors though their eyes. The cast is solid except ironically the missing person who may be the focus of the tale, but is more a shadow as there is not much action re what happened to Diana. Still this is en enjoyable tale that centers on degrees of connection between people.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Thunder In the Morning Calm-Don Brown

Thunder In the Morning Calm
Don Brown
Zondervan, Aug 28 2011, $14.99
ISBN: 9780310330141

U.S. Navy Lieutenant Commander Gunner McCormick as the intelligence officer assigned to the Pacific Rim Carrier Strike Force 10 arrives at the office of Naval Intelligence in Suitland, Maryland for a top secret briefing on the fleet joining the South Koreans in a joint exercise in the Yellow Sea. However, the historical background catches Gunner’s attention when the report states there are probably still POWs in North Korea though the “Forgotten War” ended in an armistice six decades ago.

Back on the USS Harry Truman in the Yellow Sea, Gunner debriefs the officers and obtains permission for leave from Admiral Hampton as long as he leaves a number where he can be reached. He says he will spend time in Seoul. Thinking of part of the Soldier Creed “will never leave a fallen comrade” and using his inheritance, Gunner obtains the help of two retired soldiers, Jung-Hoon and Jackrabbit, to make a daring unauthorized three person commando raid to liberate the POWs.

The entertaining first Pacific Rim military thriller will obviously remind readers of Rambo (even Gunner’s recruits tell him that), but is much more as Don Brown places a spotlight on the Korean Police Action with its sixty years’ armistice. The story line rotates between following Gunner and what has happened and is happening in a prison camp in North Korea. Although over the top of Baekdu Mountain, readers will appreciate this terrific rescue attempt with a fascinating late twist as Thunder In the Morning Calm is a super thriller that pays homage to our military especially those who fought in the 1950s in Korea.

Harriet Klausner

Son of Stone-Stuart Woods

Son of Stone
Stuart Woods
Putnam, Sep 20 2011, $26.95
ISBN 9780399157653

Lawyer Stone Barrington has made full partner at Manhattan’s Woodman & Weld. After his latest escapades (see Bel Air Dead), Stone plans to stay low key in New York and get closer with his teenage son Peter who he only recently learned he sired. Stone’s former lover and Peter’s mother Arrington Calder wants that for both males.

Peter plans to attend Yale University Drama School as he wants to become a film director. He and his dad develop a nice relationship while Arrington is sleeping with University of Virginia Architecture Professor Timothy Rutledge who oversees the finish to her mansion in Virginia. Stone uses some of connections to help Peter with his career choice. Meanwhile New York Post tabloid reporter Kelli Keane senses a scandal so she investigates the relationship between Stone and Arrington while a threat using Peter as the bait occurs.

Son of Stone is more of a family drama than the usual Barrington suspense thriller as Stone and Peter get to know each other while the father uses his influence to try to help his son further his career. Well written with a surprising twist, the tension comes late as much of the tale is about father and son getting to know each other.

Harriet Klausner

Crack in Everything-Angela Gerst

Crack in Everything
Angela Gerst
Poisoned Pen, Sep 6 2011, $24.95
ISBN 9781590589441

In Waltham, Massachusetts attorney Susan Callisto becomes a political consultant. Susan finds her clients to be pieces of work as she holds Roddie Baird’s hand as he needs help with everything he does. At the same Callisto practices law helping restaurant owner Nino Biondi in a suit with his landlord Peter Lombard.

However, her third client Charles “Chaz” Renfro offers her $20,000 to help him in a last second run for the office of the mayor of Telford. However, her three clients are difficult enough, but the murder of Renfro's assistant Tori Moran and assaults on Biondi and Callisto make her wonder if she gave up more than just financial security when she left the prestigious Boston law firm. Her former boyfriend State Detective Lieutenant Michael Benedict investigates the homicide and the attacks.

The first Susan Callisto amateur sleuth is an entertaining twisting tale as each time the heroine feels she is about to solve the situation, a new spin occurs. Fast-paced with a strong protagonist and solid support cast, fans will enjoy the political consultant learning a “You Can’t Take It With You” lesson about money, power and clients.

Harriet Klausner

Under the Dog Star--Sandra Parshall

Under the Dog Star
Sandra Parshall
Poisoned Pen, Sep 6 2011, $24.95
ISBN 9781590588789

In Mason County, Virginia feral dogs apparently ripped the throat of Dr. Gordon Hall. However, deputy sheriff Tom Bridger has doubts that a wild pack murdered Hall; he believes a human handler had his or her canine kill the victim as a part of an illegal dog fighting operation. However proving his assertion and finding the real culprit appears impossible though he looks closely at the dysfunctional family of the victim. The outraged locals plan to hunt down the packs even as dog-napping has arisen in the county.

At the same, Tom’s girlfriend veterinarian Rachel Goddard and her assistant Holly Turner try to prevent the canine massacre from occurring while their clinic wall has been posted by Missing Dog pleas. They end up in the middle of Tom’s investigation while the local dog fighting ring chief watches them carefully in case they need to join Hall.

With a nod to the Michael Vick conviction, the latest Rachel Goddard amateur sleuth (see The Heat of the Moon and Broken Places) is a superb thriller that focuses on animal abuse inside of a strong whodunit. The story line is action-packed with a strong mystery, but it is the description of the maltreatments of animals, whose images at times overwhelms the heroine, her assistant and the readers, and will remain in our memories long after the climax.

Harriet Klausner

Pirate King-Laurie R. King

Pirate King
Laurie R. King
Bantam, Sep 6 2011, $25.00
ISBN 9780553807981

In 1924 Scotland Yard Inspector Lestrade sends Mary Russell to investigate rumored criminal activity by the Fflytte Film Company. Her husband Sherlock Holmes supports her going to Portugal to keep his wife and his soon to be visiting brother Mycroft from another combative round.

Mary arrives in Lisbon where she obtains a position as an Assistant’s assistant on the documentary about The Pirates of Penzance so she can make her inquiries undercover. She detests Gilbert and Sullivan so the chore of working that production is difficult, but so are the day to day operations with so many pratfalls. Holmes joins her as they cross the Mediterranean on the road to Morocco.

As MRH says in the Author’s Forward to the latest Russell memoirs (see The God of the Hive): “I fear that the credulity of many readers will be stretched to the breaking point” proves accurate as the exciting story line is over the top of the pirate ship’s mast. Holmes arrives late (this is his wife’s memoir), but Baker Street fans will enjoy his spouse’s Peninsular adventures as this is an entertaining historical with Mary working the Pirate’s King caper and dealing with a Gilbert and Sullivan production.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, July 25, 2011

Canyons of Night-Jayne Ann Krentz writing as Jayne Castle

Canyons of Night
Jayne Ann Krentz writing as Jayne Castle
Jove, Aug 30 2011, $7.99
ISBN 9780515149883

Fifteen years ago on Rainshadow Island, Charlotte Enright was recued by her hero Slade Attridge from the assault of three drunken off islander visitors near the Preserve. She already had a young girl’s crush on the orphan teenager before he saved her. She explained she could read auras, a useless talent for an arcane while he never was registered as a hunter but will soon leave for the Federal Bureau of Psi Investigation academy.

In the present, Charlotte runs her late Aunt Beatrix’s Looking Glass Antiques. Slade has just retuned to be the island as the police chief though his talent has become somewhat muted after a traumatic incident though his buddy Rex the dust bunny remains at his side (and on his shoulder). As the pair starts seeing one another, she finds the corpse of a persistent customer who her father felt was a stalker; someone killed Jeremy Gaines in Charlotte’s shop.

The final Looking Glass sci-fi romantic suspense (see In too Deep by Jayne Ann Krentz and Quicksilver by Amanda Quick) is an engaging and delightful paranormal police procedural. The romantic subplot within the Rainshadow otherworld realm leads in a slow deliberate manner until the homicide investigation begins about half way into the story line, but still does not pick up much speed. Still fans of the Arcane Society saga will enjoy a visit to the island of Rainshadow.

Harriet Klausner

Damage Control-Denise Hamilton

Damage Control
Denise Hamilton
Scribner, Sep 6 200, $26.00
ISBN 9780743296748

In 2009 in Los Angeles thirtyish middle class Maggie Silver works for Blair Company crisis management firm. Her clients include the rich and famous up and down the Pacific Coast Highway while her job description is insuring the spin favors her firm‘s affluent customers.

The firm’s Jack Faraday assigns Maggie and others to work with U. S. Senator Henry Paxton. When she was a teen she was best friends with his daughter Anabelle, but they no longer talk to each other following a tragedy. Maggie wants out but has no choice but to be part of the team as she supports her ailing mom. Paxton’s assistant twentyish media director Emily Mortimer was found dead; the senator is the last known person to have seen her at a bar at midnight.

This is an exhilarating suspense thriller in which justice is irrelevant as the truth does not matter; only how good the spin is. Character driven by Maggie, as an adult she struggles with her memories of an idyllic time that she begins to wonder how Eden it truly was. Readers will appreciate Damage Control as the wealthy use experts to spin the media to tell the story their way.

Harriet Klausner

Lethal-Sandra Brown

Lethal
Sandra Brown
Grand Central, Sep 20 2011, $26.99
ISBN 9781455501472

In Tambour, Louisiana, four year old Emily Gillette informs her mother Honor that a stranger dripping blood is in their yard. Assuming her daughter’s imagination is running wild, the Widow Honor checks anyway. Holding a gun Lee Coburn is fleeing from the police who believe he killed seven people on a mass murder spree.

Coburn searches her home hoping to find a clue left there by Honor’s late husband Eddie a cop who dies in a car accident two years ago. He fails to find what he seeks. Eddie’s father sends the cops to check on his granddaughter, but Coburn is already gone. However, he shoots a cop Fred who he swears to Honor was sent there by the Bookkeeper who runs illegal trafficking and owns the local police, including Coburn believes her husband.

This is an exciting thriller that grips the audience from the moment Coburn points his gun at the frightened mom and never slows down even with some intriguing subplots involving other people. The entertaining story line is character driven by the mom who must decide between believing an accused mass murder who claims her late spouse was dirty and the cops including her husband she has known all her life. Although the tale follows the anticipated course, fans will enjoy the visit to Tambour, the Gulf and DC with Sandra Brown as the tour guide.

Harriet Klausner

Inmate 1577-Alan Jacobson

Inmate 1577
Alan Jacobson
Norwood Press, Jul 28 2011, $29.99
www.norwoodpress.com
ISBN: 9780983626008

In 1955 in Northfield, New Jersey, the police are on the scene of the murder of Sally MacNalley with her seven year old son Henry as the witness. Her husband Walton arrives and is arrested for the vicious homicide, but a jury found him not guilty. However, his life is shattered though he tried to raise his son.

In the present in San Francisco, SFP Inspector Lance Burdon leads the investigation into the rape, sodomy and murder of an old woman. FBI profiler Karen Vail is sent from DC to San Francisco to assist Burdon and his partner Detective Roxxann Dixon on the vicious homicide of the octogenarian. The FBI agent does not want to return to California after the recent Napa Valley mess (see Velocity and Crush), but does. In spite of the efforts of the trio, the ruthless psychopath rapes and kills other victims. The clues lead to Alcatraz, a tourist attraction for decades, but still the Rock for its surviving former inmates.

The latest Vail police procedural is a fabulous thriller as the sarcastic profiler and the dedicated serious cops struggle to end a psychopath’s brutal killing spree. Although serial killers are a too frequent breed in the sub-genre (including the Vail case The 7th Victim), readers will relish this action-packed tale as the Fed, and the locals play cat and mouse with a vicious lunatic.

Harriet Klausner

The Tale of Castle Cottage-Susan Wittig Albert

The Tale of Castle Cottage
Susan Wittig Albert
Berkley, Sep 6 2011, $24.95
ISBN 9780425243508

In the summer of1913, Beatrix Potter is currently residing at Hill Top Farm in the Lake District while working on her latest story The Tale of Pigling Bland. She admits to her publisher that her eight drawings are not that good as Beatrix still recovers from her recent illness in which she lived with her parents at their domicile in Kensington. As she works on her latest novel, Beatrix also oversees the renovation of her new home that she and her fiancé solicitor William Heelis will move into once Mr. Biddle finishes the Castle Cottage improvements and they are married (in spite of the doubts of her parents).

While the author struggles with her new work, the locals of nearby Near Sawrey begin to misplace items ranging in value from baked goods to money to family heirlooms. Her friend Sarah Barwick believes she is the victim of a thief, but fears it is someone she knows. However that pales in comparison to the death of carpenter Lewis Adcock who was just fired by Biddle. Beatrix and Will end up investigating the thefts, the death and Biddle’s lack of commitment to the castle Cottage renovation.

The eighth Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter (see The Tale of Oat Cake Crag) is a great historical cozy that brings to life the Lake District just prior to WWI. The story line is a wonderful entertaining tale as once again Susan Wittig Albert combines Ms. Potter’s real life, the fables of the animals who dominate her tales and an enjoyable amateur sleuth into a delightful story.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Murder on Puncak Jaya-Charles G. Irion and Ronald J. Watkins

Murder on Puncak Jaya
Charles G. Irion and Ronald J. Watkins
Irion Books, May 26 2011, $19.95
ISBN: 9780984161843

Having successfully climbed three of the world’s highest mountains on different contents (see Summit Murders on Everest, Elbrus and McKinley), Scott Devlon is joining an expedition to conquer Puncak Jaya, the highest peak in Oceania at over 16,000 feet. Even before undergoing a difficult climb, Scott understands reaching the base of the mountain will prove extremely troublesome as the mountain known locally as Raksasa is located in a remote deadly rain forest of New Guinea; which is why of the selected seven this has been climbed the least. Scott is going because DIA wants information on a new company that may be destabilizing the Grasburg gold and copper mine.

Flying from beautiful Bali to the remote part of Papua proves disappointing as the air strip is a garbage dump of twenty-first century litter. On the trek to the mountain through a rain forest, the natives using poisoned darts do not welcome intruders and attack the climbing party protected by soldiers. Insects carrying lethal diseases also assault the outsiders. The mountain also proves deadly to the party as Sandy, Owen and Jack are murdered and Gabby died from a snake bite.

This one differs from Scott’s pervious climbs as the action starts even before the assent in this super action-packed thriller. The vivid descriptions of Papua especially Puncak Jaya enhances this Summit Murder Mystery as readers will learn how deadly this remote region can be and how ice in the tropics exist at the high attitude of the mountain. As a bonus, the authors include brief descriptions of the seven summits. This is a winner in a winning series in which geography is fun to learn.

Harriet Klausner

The Stranger You Seek-Amanda Kyle Williams

The Stranger You Seek
Amanda Kyle Williams
Bantam, Aug 30 2011, $25.00
ISBN: 9780553808070

In Atlanta fired FBI profiler turned private investigator Dr. Keye Street is a struggling alcoholic who does not believe she can say recovering though she is doing reasonably well. The Chinese American was raised by white southerners Emily Jane and Howard Street who also adopted her gay African American brother Jimmy. While Jimmy fled Georgia for Seattle with his lover Paul, Keye returned to the state to open up Corporate Intelligence & Investigations after losing her job with the Feds.

Atlanta PD Police Lieutenant Aaron Rauser asks Keye to assist them with capturing the vicious Wishbone Killer. Using her profiling skills, she seeks the links between the victims and an overall analysis of the brutal serial killer. While more murders occur, the Wishbone Killer contacts the task force hunting the psychopath as the homicidal maniac begins stalking Keye and others.

Although serial killers are too frequently appearing in mysteries, readers will enjoy this engaging whodunit thanks to a self deprecating heroine whose asides lighten the taut story line with wisdom from the start (for instance an Asian is expected to excel at school while a black male is a local terrorist; ironically Jimmy is the behaved one). Fast-paced with a strong support cast including a diabolically brilliant psychopath, readers will enjoy Keye’s take on being part of the now old new south.

Harriet Klausner

End of Days-Robert Gleason

End of Days
Robert Gleason
Forge, Aug 30 2011, $24.99
ISBN 9780765329929

Ancestor of a Shaman, media mogul Lydia Lozen Magruder has had visions of the End of Days for years. When she built the Citadel on the southwest desert and dedicated her media empire to warn of the coming end of civilization, everyone even her daughter Kate assumes she is a lunatic.

L.L. becomes concerned that the countdown has begun when Houston reports a problem. Her ace reporter John Stone has been investigating a Russian general who vanished along with numerous nuclear subs, and a terrorist scheme to prove Einstein right that the fourth world war will have soldiers using stone age weapons. Stone like the Russian officer has vanished. L.L. asks Kate to find her former boyfriend John while warning her daughter that the countdown to nuclear Armageddon has started.

This is an exciting over the top but entertaining thriller. Besides L.L. who holds the story line together, the zillion secondary players include lunatics like the aptly named Chaplain and two brutal Mideast princesses as well as heroes like sailor and innocent like the population of Manhattan. It takes one nut with a paranoid Pygmalion Effect belief to cause the beginning of the End of Days. Fans will enjoy this thought provoking tale as readers will compare the Citadel to what led to destruction of the world in Nevil Shute’s On the Beach.

Harriet Klausner

The Gentlemen's Hour-Don Winslow

The Gentlemen's Hour
Don Winslow
Simon and Schuster, Aug 2 2011, $25.00
ISBN: 9781439183397

Private investigator Boone Daniels prefers surfing at San Diego’s Pacific Beach than working a case. So he wonders how come he has two investigations in the middle of August as he learns a friend in need is a pest.

His board riding buddy Dan Nichols fears his beautiful wife Donna the eleven (on a scale of ten) is having an affair. Dan wants Boone to conduct surveillance on his spouse. His new maybe girlfriend lawyer Petra Hall wants to hire him as the investigator on her defense of accused killer teenage Corey Blasingame, son of a wealthy La Jolla realtor. Her client confessed to killing surfing legend Kelly "Uncle K" Kuhio and admits ties to the neo-Nazi Rockpile Crew of gangster surfers. His two cases converge even as the drug cartel threatens to push the surfers from the ocean.

Don Winslow’s latest Daniel’s private investigative thriller is a terrific not very mellow tale that focuses on several interlocking avaricious subcultures competing for the beach. The story line is fast-paced and loaded with plenty of violent action. Using the vernacular of the surfing culture to anchor the locale, readers will enjoy the Dawn Patrol giving way to The Gentleman’s Hour even when the Pacific behaves like a Kansas.

Harriet Klausner

Full Black-Brad Thor

Full Black
Brad Thor
Atria, Jul 26 2011, $26.99
ISBN: 9781416586616

The attacks on Americans abroad and on home soil have the CIA and HSD struggling to react. Intelligence strongly confirms a bigger terrorist assault is coming. While working on a secret documentary, movie producer Larry Salomon exposes an affluent anti-American. An apparent Russian wet team arrives in California to silence the producer leaving three dead and the movie maker alive only due to former Delta operative technical consultant Luke Ralston.

Near Uppsalla, Sweden, covert counterterrorism agent Scot Harvath and his team begin a measure to infiltrate a nasty terrorist network while trusting no one in the Intel community. Thus he and his squad go Full Black starting with the capture of computer guru Mansoor Aleem, the nephew of Jihad Mufti, on his way to meet with a cell run by Mustafa Karami and replace him with Sean Chase. While the attacks intensify, time is running out

This exciting action-packed thriller has its first death on page one and never looks back as the action in Sweden and Hollywood expands to other locales with death counts rising rapidly. The story line is fast-paced from that opening sequence in which Horvath breaks the neck of a terrorist and accelerates from there as the field operatives try to prevent full implementation of Project Green Ramp. Full Black is an exciting tale that showcases how vulnerable Europe and America remains to terrorism.

Harriet Klausner

Souls on BOring Street-Karen Wiesner

Souls on BOring Street
Karen Wiesner
Whiskey Creek, Jun 15 2011, $18.95
ISBN: 9781603139342

Hospice nurse Erin Shanley lives in Briar’s Point but works in the nearby big city of Riverbend. She and her neighbor police detective Tyler Shaw love each other, but she has a relationship commitment phobia having watched her womanizing father break her mother’s heart; especially when he nastily denied her younger sisters Jacey and Paige were his and even claimed they were Erin’s offspring. Two years later when their mom died Erin raised her siblings.

Psychics move in next door, which reverts Boring Street back to its real name of Oring Street as they are anything but ennui. However, Erin becomes concerned when her hospice patients misplace jewelry and sign over their inheritances to the psychics. Unable to resist because dedicated Erin wants the end of life experience to be as smooth as possible, Erin investigates. Tyler struggles with his beloved canine Ned dying, but still has her back as he has since she came home. Erin will need him when someone notices her snooping.

The third Denim Blues Mysteries (see Retired and on the Rocks, and Love Is Blind and It Don't Pay the Bills Either) proves Ty and Erin are wrong about their street being boring as this is an exhilarating amateur sleuth. The story line is driven mostly by Erin who places herself in danger with her inquiry and her distrust of males due to her role model whose accusations led her to be Briar’s Point Hester Prynne and leaves her unable to have faith in Ty. With two stunning late twists, fans of the series will relish this terrific entry.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Frozen Stiff-Annelise Ryan

Frozen Stiff
Annelise Ryan
Kensington, Sep 1 2011, $22.00
ISBN 9780758234568

Amidst the snowy cornfield near Sorenson, Wisconsin, the corpse of a young woman is found. Town life deputy coroner Mattie Winston arrives at the crime scene and realizes the stabbing victim is a total stranger; fellow lifer uniformed cop Junior Feller does not recognize her either. Her boyfriend, SPD homicide detective Steve Hurley takes a look at the face and turns paler than the background and pronounces Bob Richmond will investigate.

Steve dated Chicago investigative reporter Callie Dunkirk over a year and a half ago; she ended their relationship. Complicating matters for Steve is the weapon sticking out of the deceased’s chest belongs to him. A second homicide has the police detaining Steve as the only suspect in both murders. Still married though separated (see Scared Stiff to learn what happened to the other woman) Mattie moves passed her Big Girl jealousy of a dead woman to investigate as she is certain her BF is not a killer even if the evidence overwhelmingly hangs him.

This is an amusing Thanksgiving whodunit as the klutzy Big Girl in her used hearse investigates the murders though she slips and ricochets more than she succeeds. The eccentric cast brings wintry Wisconsin to life while the heroine’s humorous self deprecating asides are fun but can slow down the pace as there are too many of them (sort of like Debbie Reynolds in Mary, Mary). Fans will enjoy the second “Stiff” investigative tale as the heroine tries to save the day in spite of herself.

Harriet Klausner

The Glitter Scene-Monika Fagerholm

The Glitter Scene
Monika Fagerholm
Other Press, Aug 9 2011, $17.95
www.otherpress.com
ISBN: 9781590513057

In 2004 in the District section on the First Cape lives teenager Johanna and her Aunt Solveig who earns a living as a realtor. Joanna misses her cousin Robin who she used to play with until the latter’s mom took her with her when they moved. She spends time with classmate Ulla Backstrom, who tells her the tragic tale of The American Girl in the 1970s.

Fascinated in a macabre way Johanna investigates the decades old deaths with an emphasis on their connection to her family especially her parents. She wants to know who her mother is and why secrets were interred with her late father. Almost two decades after the tragedy that haunts the villagers, fifteen years ago before Johanna begins to tie the sad tale together in ways that stun her, Susette Packlen and Maj Gun Maalamaa become friends of sorts by their connection to the American Girl.

This convoluted complicated Finnish murder mystery grips fans of cerebral thrillers as the story line is not linear, but in fact a series of circles sort of like a Venn diagram that has the audience entering rings from different external points while like the prime protagonist try to connect to dots. The cast is moody which adds to the gloom and doom of the District as readers will not guess where Monika Fagerholm takes us in the aptly tidied The Glitter Scene.

Harriet Klausner

The Lantern-Deborah Lawrenson

The Lantern
Deborah Lawrenson
Harper, Aug 9 2011, $25.99
ISBN: 9780062049698

In Switzerland, Dom the English musician and Eve the translator meet in a maze; for both it is love at first sight. They move to Les Genévriers in Provence where they plan to renovate a country house constructed in 1887. The abode is loaded with seemingly valuable antiques and hidden rooms. However two things disturb Eve in the midst of her heavenly relationship with Dom. First calling this place Les Genévriers seems inane when there is only one juniper tree; the English translation of the French word. Second her beloved refuses to speak about his former wife Rachel who vanished.

As Eve wants to know the truth about Rachel, they find sad audio recordings made by former resident Bénédicte Lincel over five decades ago. Bénédicte talks about her blind sister Marthe the perfume designer who apparently vanished and about their cruel brother Pierre. Eve wonders about two females living several decades apart simply vanishing.

Rotating perspective between past and present, readers have a haunting gothic thriller using the beautiful French countryside and the creation of perfume as counterpoints to the growing fear of something bad about to occur. Although the cast in both eras are somewhat thin, readers will enjoy this suspenseful tale as Eve’s suspicion that she may not next grows.

Harriet Klausner

Spycatcher-Matthew Dunn

Spycatcher
Matthew Dunn
Morrow, Aug 9 2011, $25.99
ISBN: 9780062037671

In New York, MI6 agent Will “Spartan” Cochrane searches for Iranian Revolutionary Guard international terrorist Megiddo. Spartan’s hunt is professional as the agencies know this terrorist has a nasty scheme and personal as this terrorist killed his father over two decades ago.

Having been shot, Spartan works the case injured but will not rest until this animal is stopped. He locates the alleged former lover of Megiddo in Paris. Journalist Lana Beseisu agrees to assist Will even as they are attracted to one another. However, Spartan vows to keep his hands off his partner until the mission is completed; then all bets are off. As they get closer to their target, Megiddo proves quite elusive.

This is a fun espionage counterterrorist thriller starring a fascinating hero who seems like a combination of Doc Savage and his entire team. Spartan’s extreme fitness training enables him to deal with a multitude of wounds though it still seems over the top but in an entertaining way. Fans of cat and mouse spy games will relish the chess match as this is one British field agent who prefers the cold.

Harriet Klausner

The Accident-Linwood Barclay

The Accident
Linwood Barclay
Bantam, Aug 9 2011, $25.00
ISBN: 9780553807189

In Milford, Connecticut contractor Glen Garber waits for his wife Sheila to come home from her night class as she is running very late. When their eight years old daughter Kelly sleeps, the police arrive to inform him Sheila and two others died in a car accident in which his spouse was responsible.

Though he just wants to grieve, Glen knows he has a business to run especially after a house he built burned down with the insurance accusing him of shoddy work and a stunned daughter to raise as a single dad. He is also bitter and doubtful that Sheila caused the deadly incident as the description of her driving would be totally out of character for her. Adding to his doubts is friends asking about the whereabouts and contents of Sheila’s purse. When Kelly becomes the focus, Glen knows he must protect his offspring but from which neighbors.

This taut cautionary thriller warns readers though the economy is in the cesspool; don’t dive into illegal means of making money as the outcome will probably prove worse. The story line is action-packed as incidents pile up while the shocked protagonist investigates; but also allows time for the everyman hero to ponder what the hell is going on in Milford.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Tempest in the Tea Leaves-Kari Lee Townsend

Tempest in the Tea Leaves
Kari Lee Townsend
Berkley, Aug 2 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425242759

Psychic Sunny Meadows relocates from New York City to Divinity, New York where she opens up her shingle as a fortuneteller. She barely is open for business when her first frazzled customer begs her for help. Town librarian Amanda Robbins asks Sunny to read her future. The tea leaves frighten Sunny who calls the police that something bad will soon happen to Amanda.

The cops scoff at her talent until Amanda turns up dead. The police immediately suspect Sunny committed the homicide but struggle with a viable motive though they think the fortune teller is a bit wacky. To prove her innocence she teams up with by the book detective Mitch Stone.

With a nod to Victoria Laurie’s Abby Cooper, Psychic Eye (the early books), Kari Lee Townsend provides paranormal amateur sleuth fans with a fun whodunit. The engaging story line is at its best when the psychic and the cop verbally but warmly argue. With a terrific twisting climax to a well written murder mystery Harriet Klausner psychic reviewer (some will borrow Letterman’s electric skill and change the letters to psycho) predicts readers will enjoy Sunny Meadows’ first case.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Jane Was Here-Sarah Kernochan

Jane Was Here
Sarah Kernochan
Grey Swan, Jun 14 2011, $24.95
www.greyswanpress.com
ISBN 9780980037722

The woman arrives in Graynier, Massachusetts calling herself Jane with no surname. She swears she has isolated memories of growing up in Graynier, but also vows she never set foot in the town until now. Jane rents a Victorian that she claims is her childhood house.

Website designer Brett Sampson and his ten year old son Collin are spending the summer together in Graynier so they can overcome their estrangement. However crafty cunning Collin has no interest in doing things with his dad and Brett likewise has little patience with his son. Instead Collin is fascinated with Jane and uses subterfuge to spend time with Indian Gita Poonchwalla who is nearer his age. The townsfolk also are intrigued by Jane and her claims until private investigator Dick Fancher insists Jane is the missing autistic Caroline Moss though some say no.

The key to this engaging tale is the small town residents who know each other as they (and readers) cannot resist the lure of who Jane is and how she knows intimate details about the somewhat isolated town. Jane is terrific as her confusion is addicting to the audience who want to know what is going on. The support cast makes the thriller work as they and we need to know whether Jane Was Here once before and what before connotes.

Harriet Klausner

Kiss Her, Kill Her-Lisa Dewar

Kiss Her, Kill Her
Lisa Dewar
iUniverse, Sep 23 2010, $16.95
ISBN: 9781450259989

His mother adored Ted Bundy who became Tarryn Cooper Love’s hero. His life plan is to supersede his idol by murdering more females than the late serial killer notched so he can be his mom’s number one superstar. This he becomes a cabdriver in New York, which enables him to pick up single females easily.

Carmen the trophy wife wants out of her marriage to an abusive spouse. Dubbed "The Numbers Killer" due to placing a count on those he kills, Tarryn picks her up with plans to make her a victim. Instead Carmen informs him she wants to die, which shakes up the cabdriver as he gets off from the fear of his chosen victims. Tarryn decides to help Carmen want to live before he kills her.

This is an intriguing twisting psychological thriller starring two individuals who forge an odd codependent relationship. Readers get deep into the heads of Tarryn and Carmen as his strategy to Kiss Her, Kill Her works well since she slowly evolves from suicidal to strong woman. Readers will relish this insightful look at a killer who wants mom to be proud of him and his latest chosen one who wants self esteem.

Harriet Klausner

Vanished in the Night-Eileen Carr

Vanished in the Night
Eileen Carr
Pocket, Jul 26 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9781439183878

Due to her hot tempered father George, Veronica Osborne wants nothing to do with cops having spent her life bailing out her dad. However, she cannot ignore Sacramento Police Sergeant Zach McKnight and his partner Frank Rodriguez when they knock on her door. Zach informs her that at a construction site a corpse identified as her half-brother Max Sheldon who vanished two decades ago was found. All these years, she prayed he would come home only to learn now he was murdered and had not deserted her.

The site foreman insisted the body was not there when they went home for the night, but was there when they returned the next morning. However the jersey the victim wore was a throwback to 1989 as the cops know the case is “arctic”. The police suspect Veronica’s dad killed his stepson in a fit of rage. Unable to sit idly by, Veronica investigates her sibling’s homicide. What she learns stuns her while someone is killing those who may know the truth and someone else is pushing for full exposure. Zach vows to keep Veronica safe from both sides who tug at her as much as she tugs at his heart.

Vanished in the Night is an exciting investigative thriller. The story line is an extended troubled family affair as the cops tepidly investigate a frozen tundra case until a second homicide occurs and Zach, attracted to Veronica, fears her inquiry could harm her. The freshness comes from the two adversaries whose interests in Sheldon’s murder are totally opposite of each other. Readers will want to know their motives and the link between deaths a decade apart as Eileen Carr provides an engaging whodunit.

Harriet Klausner

The Coldest Fear-Rick Reed

The Coldest Fear
Rick Reed
Pinnacle, Sep 1 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780786024841

As a child he was sexually and mentally abused and battered by his brutal father until he broke and killed his dad. Because of his age and his mental state he was sent to a mental institution where he remained a resident for years. The doctors released him when he conned them into believing he was sane and ready to become a productive member of society.

He returned home to find the weapon he used to kill his father and traveled the county killing wherever he lived until ennui left him needing a challenge. He read an article about Evansville, Illinois Detective Jack Murphy who never lets a case turn cold. The psychopath grabs Jack’s attention when he kills Cordelia Morse who had her face chopped off and an article about Jack with an eyeball on it nearby. A few hours later Louise Brigham is found murdered with a similar M.O. as Cordelia; this time the psychopath carved Jack’s initials into the corpse. Other people are murdered by the same killer. Middle aged Brenda Lincoln is murdered and the killer was in a rage when he destroyed the body which most likely means she meant something to the predator. The murderer also kills those who might remotely identify him. Finally the preliminaries are done with the gauntlet thrown so the maniac goes after Jack who intends to bring the murderer down.

As serial killer thrillers go, the Coldest Fear is one of the best as the readers understand what drove the Cleaver to his killing spree. The repartee between Jack and his partner Liddell shows a genuine friendship and respect for one another while also abating the tautness caused by the serial killer. Sub-genre fans will enjoy Jack’s latest case (Cruelest Cut) as his deadly adversary steals the show with his lethal repertoire. Rick Reed is a talent that fans of thrillers will want to read.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Deadly Sins-Kylie Brant

Deadly Sins
Kylie Brant
Berkley, Aug 2 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425242704

The assassin kills high profile targets in the DC area with the latest execution being Supreme Court Justice Byron Reinbeck; the killer leaves behind a calling card, one of the Deadly Sins and provides links to former FBI Agent Adam Raiker. The late Judge’s widow of twenty-five years Mary Jo asks Adam of Raiker Forensics to join the special task force, which he does.

Also on the special investigative unit is Adam’s ex lover FBI agent Jaid Marlowe. Adam takes pride in keeping emotional baggage and bias out of the inquiries but with Jaid at his side his cold resolve is shattered by desire. She has a similar problem as her assignment is to watch Adam who is becoming the prime suspect.

This exhilarating Mindhunter romantic suspense (see Deadly Intent and Deadly Dreams) is a terrific thriller that contains too many subplots to keep track of but as they merge together into a strong entry fans will marvel at Kylie Brant’s delightful juggling. Adam and Jaid are a wonderful second chance couple, but neither lose sight of taking down the brilliant mastermind behind the killings. Filled with twists, Deadly Sins is a superb cat and mouse police procedural.

Harriet Klausner

Snapped-Laura Griffin

Snapped
Laura Griffin
Pocket, Aug 30 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9781451617368

Delphi Center crime lab employee Sophie Barrett is at the university enrolling in classes when shots ring out. Somebody at the top of the library is shooting; Sophie takes cover next to a dying pregnant woman and her toddler. Four people die including the shooter and over a hundred injured. Homicide detective Jonah Macon came close to catching the killer but the culprit committed suicide.

Jonah knows Sophie having saved her life from a psychopath. When they finally ID the killer it is James Himmel. The car he drove was a green VW, but the vehicle that took Sophie’s space when she went to the registrar was the car that that belonged to Himmel. Due to the times involved she believes Himmel could not have been the culprit as he could not have crossed the campus to fire the shots. Sophie tries to tell Jonah and other cops, but nobody listens to her except someone who tries to kill her. The attempts on her life has Jonah reconsidering her assertion as they team up seeking a brilliant killer while he struggles to keep the independent woman he is attracted to safe.

The fourth Delphi Center Tracers tale (see Unforgivable, Unspeakable and Untraceable) is an exhilarating police procedural with a cute secondary romantic subplot that enhances the whodunit as she becomes willing bait while he wants her safe but she blatantly and brazenly ignores his rules. The mystery is cleverly devised so that the cops, her peers at work and the media believe the mass murderer killed himself; only Sophie has a contrary opinion. Fast-paced, fans of Jayne Ann Krentz will enjoy Laura Griffin’s entertaining romantic suspense.

Harriet Klausner

The Dead Genius-Axel Brand

The Dead Genius
Axel Brand
Five Star, Aug 10 2011, $25.95
ISBN: 9781432825140

Just after WW II in Milwaukee, pioneering forensic document examiner Armand de Trouville dies suddenly at his office desk. The cause of the sexagenarian’s death appears to be a heart attack. His lawyer Bartles, his junior business associate Potter and his part-time office assistant Winsocket tell Milwaukee Police Detective Lieutenant Joe Sonntag, an admirer of the brilliant Armand, that they know of no heirs and ask if he can investigate to see if he can locate one.

Joe finds it curious that there is no information on Armand’s life before he arrived in the city allegedly from Chicago in 1936. He is ready to give up on the inquiry that comes out of his pocket (no cost to the city) when his superior Captain Ackerman plays a hunch and assigns him to keep digging. Confused by the assignment that makes no sense especially since Ackerman’s hunches always failed, Joe investigates what happened on the night Armand died and who he was before de Trouville suddenly arrives in Milwaukee.

The latest Sonntag historical police procedural (see A Hotel Dick) is a superb investigation that provides readers a taste of late 1940s Milwaukee. The story line is leisurely paced so the audience can taste and smell the hops of the city though Joe’s senses. The twist to the search for the heir wraps up an engaging post WW II mystery.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, July 18, 2011

Delaney’s Shadow-Ingrid Weaver

Delaney’s Shadow
Ingrid Weaver
Berkley, Aug 2 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425242681

The car accident left her husband dead and Delaney Wainright suffering from amnesia. She returns home to heal and she hopes to recover her memories. She begins to feel her imaginary childhood friend Max has returned to help her regain her memory.

However the Max who saved her life as a child is not a kid. John Maxwell Harrison never forgot the little girl he rescued from drowning. He believed back then and has affirmed now they had a special mental link. An abused child who knew at seven he would one day kill viscous Virgil Budge, Max felt the world ended when Delaney left years ago. Now as an adult he becomes Delaney’s “imaginary” friend and lover. When someone tries to kill his Delaney, Max, who believes he does not deserve her, knows he must reveal to his beloved he is not imaginary so that he can keep her safe.

Delaney’s Shadows is a taut twisted thriller that grips readers from the beginning when Max turns seven and knows his life calling is to kill the SOB who abuses him and his mom. Readers will empathize with him as the child hides in safe dreams while the adult has re-found the connection that saved his mind as a child. Delaney is a good person struggling with what has happened. Readers will enjoy this strong romantic suspense due to the lead couple and deep secondary characters.

Harriet Klausner

Secrets of Bella Terra-Christina Dodd

Secrets of Bella Terra
Christina Dodd
Signet, Aug 2 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780451413093

Security expert Rafe Di Luca is working as the control of a rescue mission when he learns of the vicious assault on his grandmother Sarah. Dropping what he was doing, Rafe returns home to his family’s Bella Terra Vineyard and Resort in Bella Valley, California. Like his half-brothers Eli and Noah, thirtyish Rafe loves his grandmother. The three siblings vow to find who the insidious attacker was.

However coming home also means seeing Brooke Petersson who runs the resort and found the battered Sarah. Rafe feels guilty as he made love with her and dumped her when he left town. The three siblings and Brooke wonder whether the decades old animosity over a lost bottle of valuable wine with the Bianchins family is the cause. Rafe and Sarah know their youthful attraction remains strong, while a murder over that legendary bottle has both fearing for the safety of the other and his Nonna.

The first Scarlet Deception contemporary romantic suspense is an exciting second chance at love, if the protagonists survive tale. The story line is fast-paced from the moment the intruder batters Sarah and never slows down as the middle grandson takes center stage along side of Brooke. Fans will toast Christina Dodd for a strong first act while looking forward to Eli’s tale next.

Harriet Klausner

Wanted Deb or Alive-Laurie Moore

Wanted Deb or Alive
Laurie Moore
Five Star, Aug 10 2011, $25.95
ISBN 9781432825409

Twenty-three year old last year’s debutante Dainty Prescott is a WBFD-TV TV news intern when she learns that thugs in Ciudad Juarez mugged her sister Teensy and kidnapped her sibling’s friend Tiffer. Her Fort Worth Police detective boyfriend Jim Bruckman warns her not to travel to the “murder capital of Mexico”, but her sister is in critical condition hopefully still in a hospital so she quickly heads to the border.

In El Paso, Dainty meets pint sized police detective lieutenant Amanda “Canary Tanzanite” Vazquez. The two females head to the Mexican side to rescue this year’s two missing Rubanbleu ball debs who apparently grabbed a cab known as the Kidnapping Express. Meanwhile El Montero stalks Dainty.

The latest Debutante Detective Mystery (see Deb on Arrival) is a fantastic amateur sleuth as Dainty goes Mexican. The dynamic distaff duo make the tale fun as the Pygmy and the Deb duel in a war of words while having each other’s back, sort of after dessert that is. Readers will enjoy their escapades to rescue Dainty’s sister and her sibling’s friend before they are trafficked on the black market commodity exchange.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Kage: The Shadow-John Donohue

Kage: The Shadow
John Donohue
Ymaa Publication Center, Jul 12 2011, $12.95
ISBN: 9781594392108

Thanks in part to his brother Micky, Dr. Connor Burke is in Arizona explaining to upset writers that their hero cannot realistically run a marathon after a beating if they were realistic and not Hollywood. Lori Westmann appreciated Burke’s words unlike her colleagues. She explains her famous father was found dead in his home; the police ruled it an accident though Lori believes that he was killed. Her dad was crazy Eliot Westmann who wrote about his adventures with a sect in Hokkaido. She wants Connor to prove or disprove her father’s assertions as Lori believes an assassin killed her dad for revealing what he knew.

Meanwhile in the Arizona desert near Tucson, someone kills Hector the coyote. As he studies Eliot’s unfinished manuscripts, Connor realizes that the smuggling cartels just to the south would not want some of the information released. Soon, he finds himself and his loved ones the targets of the deadly Mexican cartels, some Americans and apparently members of the sect that Westmann revealed in his books with his martial arts teacher, Yamashita having his endangered back.

The fourth Burke thriller (see Sensei, Deshi, and Tengu) is a great tale that effortlessly merges martial art values with headline news. The story line is action-packed from the moment he accepts Lori’s research assignment and never slows down until the final confrontation as the hero learns the poet sometimes must be the warrior just as the warrior must be the poet. This is a terrific thought provoking tale.

Harriet Klausner

Deadly Reunion-June Shaw

Deadly Reunion
June Shaw
Five Star, Aug 10 2011, $25.95
ISBN: 9781432824983

Widow Cealie Gunther has not seen many of her high school class in years; so she joins the Alaskan cruise reunion. Also on board is her boyfriend Gil Thurman owner of a Cajun restaurant chain and one of his chefs. Cealie especially looks forward to learning what happened to some of her peers; on the other hand she is not ready for Uncle Stu to be Aunt Sue.

Tetter was the most popular girl in high school, but admits to Cealie she has a humongous problem that she cannot say anything further about. All the attendees are stunned when Randy, married with grandchildren, arrives as no one expected him to attend. Cealie feels like a frump compared to her toned classmates. Aunt Sue flirts with a younger hunk who is soon found dead at the bottom of stairs. Cealie investigates what she believes was a homicide and not an accident. She wonders whether Tetter's issue is the motive or if Aunt Sue became a psychopath when he surgically became she. Finally there is the question of Randy coming on the cruise.

The latest Cealie Gunter independent amateur sleuth thriller is a charming whodunit when the focus is on the classmates; when the story line concentrates on Cealie's relationship with Gil the plot feels repetitive especially for these who have read Killer Cousins. Still with a strong final twist, fans will enjoy Cealie’s inquiry but also when it comes to Gil sing the Lovin’ Spoonful’s Did You Ever Have to make Up Your Mind?

Harriet Klausner

The Hand That Trembles-Kjell Eriksson; Ebba Segerberg (Translator)

The Hand That Trembles
Kjell Eriksson; Ebba Segerberg (Translator)
Minotaur, Aug 2 2011, $24.99
ISBN 9780312605056

In 1993 in Uppsala, Sweden, Commissioner Sven-Arne Persson leaves a council meeting, but never is seen in town again. The townsfolk assumed he killed himself though no corpse or note was seen. A dozen years later, an Uppsala resident Jan Svensk is in Bangalore, India is on a business trip when he sees Sven-Arne on the street and later in a restaurant. Sven-Arne likewise recognizes his Swedish neighbor and muses that his life as an illegal immigrant laborer is over.

At the same time in Uppsala, Detective Ann Lindell visits Detective Berglund in the hospital recovering from an operation to inform him a female foot inside a boot with no other body part has been found on the shore near Oregrund. Lindell investigates in an area overwhelming with single males including her ex lover. She also looks into a cold case homicide that Berglund failed to solve back in 1993.

The latest Detective Lindell Swedish police procedural (see The Princess of Barundi, The Cruel Stars of Night, and The Demon from Dakar) is an engaging complicated mystery that grips the audience on several levels with a need to know. First there is the question as to why a person left his power position to become an illegal laborer in a foreign land; second is his vanishing linked to the cold case homicide; and third the severed female foot belongs to who and the saw culprit is whom. Loaded with action and a strong cast, readers will enjoy this terrific mystery as Kjell Eriksson deftly ties everything together.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Running Homeless-Al Lamanda

Running Homeless
Al Lamanda
Five Star, Aug 10 2011, $25.95
ISBN: 978-1432825386

He is in New Mexico where he executes six drug lords. The extraction team of four goes to get him as a tech support unit watches and videos his activities. The techies are stunned when the agent executes the extraction team. In seconds ten are dead. To the further shock of the observers he vanishes in a blink. Techie Johnson calls Handler Ben Freeman who orders him to follow the GPS signal in John Tibbets’ watch but he must keep a distance if he chooses to live. Agent Monroe explains to Freeman and their superior Farris that the watch has an alarm that wipes out Tibbets’ memory, which makes him more dangerous as a beast protecting himself.

Freeman joins FBI agent Richard Cone in a hunt for Tibbets. Cone is stunned from seeing the video, but is appalled to learn Tibbets and Freeman belong to a top secret government agency whose mission is assassination. Tibbets has ben subject to mind control techniques enhanced by drugs. On his own, he begins to recall bits of his life while leaving corpses on his way to New York City where he vaguely remembers saving a cop’s life (see Walking Homeless).

This is one of the year’s best thrillers as the American Manchurian Candidate is on the lam from his handlers while the body count rises exponentially wherever he goes. The story line is action-packed from the opening killing of ten men in seconds (in less than a page) until the final twisted confrontation. Yet what brings heart and soul to Al Lamanda’s excellent tale is the antihero killing machine is a victim but who the villains are will stun the audience.

Harriet Klausner

Cold Vengeance-Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

Cold Vengeance
Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child
Grand Central, Aug 2 2011, $26.99
ISBN: 9780446554985

In Cairn Barrow, Scotland Special Agent Pendergast and his brother-in-law Esterhazy go stag hunting. However, nether of them hunt deer, but each other. Pendergast seeks revenge against Esterhazy for murdering his wife Helen (see Fever Dream). As Pendergast traps his adversary he asks why he killed his sister just as a stag assaults the agent; giving Esterhazy the chance to shoot his adversary in the chest and explain he did not kill his sibling as Helen lives. Esterhazy leaves his friend to die as he calls the constabulary to report the accident. Inspector Balfour leads the search, but no human corpse is found.

Pendergast no longer seeks Cold Vengeance as now he searches for Helen, but is confused over her role in the duplicity of her death; unless his in-law lied. He returns to New York from the moors, but the clues take him to the bayous where increasingly he wonders whether Helen arranged her death and how little he really knew her as Pendergast begins to uncover secrets his wife hid from him.

The second Pendergast’s Helen inquiry is a great thriller that is loaded with action from the first hunting confrontation to the climax that ends with a cliffhanger setup for the finish. The taut story line is fast-paced and filled with twists that hook the audience. However the hero makes the tale as he will remind readers of Liam Neeson in Taken with his determination to rescue Helen if she is alive. Suspenseful, Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child provide the best middle book of a trilogy in recent memory.

Harriet Klausner

Where the Shadows Lie-Michael Ridpath

Where the Shadows Lie
Michael Ridpath
St. Martin’s, Aug 2 2011, $24.99
ISBN: 9780312675035

A Dominican drug cartel operating in Massachusetts places a price on the head of Boston Police Sergeant Detective Magnus Jonson. To keep him safe, the brass arranges an assignment with the Icelandic police department.

Magnus arrives in Reykjavik where he quickly realizes the rules differ from back home; his Icelandic education in policing starts with the fact that the cops do not carry weapons. The American is assigned to the team investigating the murder of Professor Agnar Haraldsson, an expert on Icelandic mythos and legends. Though he feels for the victim, Magnus' enjoys looking into the mythology of his native land where his dad was murdered years ago. He especially finds fascinating that allegedly Haraldsson found the source of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. As he investigates, Jonson alienates superiors on both sides of the pond when he learns that the Dominicans who attack his Bostonian family and have also come to Iceland to stamp his passport as dead.

This terrific Icelandic Police Procedural deftly merges the nation’s mythology and history with a present day murder case. Magnus is a terrific protagonist as he feels like a fish out of water though he was in Iceland; he is a veteran American cop struggling with adjusting to different rules than he has adhered to in the past; this adds realism to the wonderful whodunit which is further enhanced by the Tolkien connection.

Harriet Klausner

New York to Dallas-J.D. Robb

New York to Dallas
J.D. Robb
Putnam, Sep 13 2011, $27.95
ISBN: 9780399157783

Twelve years ago when current police Lieutenant Eve Dallas was a rookie, she had the instincts of a veteran; one of her feelings impressed upon her was that the man trying to leave a crime scene was the perp. She makes her first collar as predatory Isaac McQueen received life imprisonment for his monstrous abductions of the young.

In the present she sees McQueen in her peripheral vision as he just escaped from Rikers and holds a woman hostage. Eve goes to the apartment where she took the psychopath down; the pedophile torturer, rapist killer plans to take her down this time. The clues lead to Dallas where Eve has bad memories from when she lived there as a child. McQueen kidnaps a young girl and a woman; both he hostage during that first encounter when Eve caught him. Eve with the help of Roarke seek the monster in Dallas and she also meets a woman who looks familiar to her only her mind draws a blank about her identity For the first time since they met, Roarke fears for his wife’s sanity as her past and present crash in Texas.

J.D. Robb refreshes her Eve Dallas futuristic police procedural by having the “… In Death” heroine temporarily relocate to the city she took her surname from, which forces her to use a different crew in support of her; hence the first book without the title prepositional phrase. The heroine struggles with this case because of the déjà vu of her salad days as well as round two with pure evil. As Roarke worries that his beloved’s mind is snapping under pressure, series fans will appreciate Thomas Wolfe’s assertion “You can’t go home.”

Harriet Klausner

Friday, July 15, 2011

Ransome’s Quest-Kaye Dacus

Ransome’s Quest
Kaye Dacus
Harvest House, Aug 1 2011, $13.99
ISBN: 9780736927550

In 1814 in St Catherine’s Parish, Jamaica, notorious pirate El Salvatore kidnaps Charlotte Ransome. Her brother Captain William Ransome leads a search to find and rescue his sibling. While he is at sea, the nasty pirate Shaw loathes William and his father-in-law Admiral Sir Edward Witherington. Opportunity and a good plan allow him to abduct the wife-daughter Julia who along with the Admiralty connects his two enemies.

El Salvatore and William learn of the second Ransome kidnapping. William vows to save the lives of both of his beloved females. He finds Charlotte safe. She informs him who El Salvatore is and he offers to assist William in locating and rescuing his spouse. Without the pirate he has had no success and he did show good faith when he freed Charlotte, but the man is a pirate.

The third Ransome historical thriller is a fabulous early nineteenth century swashbuckler. Loaded with action and adventure from the onset, readers will relish the return of the cast from the previous Caribbean escapades (see Ransome’s Honor and Ransome’s Crossing) as Kaye Dacus provides a stirring sterling end to a stupendous saga.

Harriet Klausner

Button Holed-Kylie Logan

Button Holed
Kylie Logan
Berkley, Sep 6 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425243763

In Chicago, Josie Giancola owns the Button Box and has become recognized as one of the nation’s leading experts on historical buttons. One night she enters her establishment only to find two masked men inside ransacking her inventory. She escapes the thugs and finds a button that does not belong in the collection.

Although upset by the invasion, she is also excited that famous movie star Kate Franciscus is coming to her shop to pick up buttons for her wedding gown as the actress is marrying a prince. She arranges to meet with Josie to show her what she might like. When Josie arrives, she finds Kate dead. An arrest for the homicide is quickly made, but Josie believes they locked up the wrong man. She decides to snoop accompanied by her ex husband. She believes the button is the link to the killer, but her suspect list has several entries. Even Detective Nevin Riley helps her on her inquiry.

This is the opening act of an engaging amateur sleuth mystery series and if this book is any indication, readers have a special and original new series to enjoy. The protagonist is independent and resolute though some like Riley would insist Josie is obstinate and obsessive as she has a need to investigate; part of her desire comes from the assault on her store. She enlists a quirky crew to assist her on her quest. Kylie Logan overcomes the sub-genre flaw of why the heroine must investigate with an entertaining plot and a strong cast led by a woman who refuses to be Button Holed.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Tragic Toppings-Jessica Beck

Tragic Toppings
Jessica Beck
Minotaur, Sep 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780312541095

Suzanne Hart owns Donut Hearts in April Springs, North Carolina. She constantly experiments with innovative donuts that look and taste different than the standard fare. She is friendly with much of the townsfolk so becomes concerned when Emily Hargraves turns up missing especially when she learns she was the last known person to see her. Also gone is popular handyman Tim Leaner.

Emily is found hanging with Suzanne’s ex husband Max; but Tim is found hanging from a tree. Since Suzanne has solved homicides before (see Evil Éclairs), Emily hires her to investigate who killed her honorary Uncle Tim. She accepts the case because she cannot refuse Emily. Emily’s police officer boyfriend Jake, a former cop and her best friend all go in different directions questioning people, but it is Suzanne who almost dies when the killer observes her finding a critical identifying clue.

The latest Donuts Shop amateur sleuth is an entertaining whodunit as readers struggle to figure out who Tim’s killer is. There are more suspects than donut types sold in Suzanne’s shop so it is logical for the cops to draft her to help on their inquiry even if she is a civilian. Although a killer trying to fry the heroine is not new (see Sinister Sprinkles), fans will enjoy the quirky characters and yummy donut descriptions inside a fun mystery.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

In Search of the Rose Notes-Emily Arsenault

In Search of the Rose Notes
Emily Arsenault
Morrow, Jul 26 2011, $14.99
ISBN: 9780062012326

In 1990 in Waverly, Connecticut, tweeners Nora and Charlotte are concerned that their sixteen year old babysitter Rose vanished without a trace. Using Charlotte’s older brother smelly Paul’s treasure of Time-Life books with the secrets of the universe as their paranormal reference library; the BFFs investigate but find nothing. The inquiry strains their friendship.

In 2006, Rose’s remains are found in the nearby woods; having been recently moved. Charlotte calls Nora who feels like it is old times as her former BFF always seemed to know when she has was doing nothing. The former asks the latter to come home so they can resume their failed investigation; this time looking for Rose’s killer. Nora reluctantly agrees as she is the last known person to have seen Rose alive and is not sure she wants the past opened up.

Rotating viewpoint between the two years, this is a terrific psychological drama that will remind readers of Alice Sebold’s The Lovely Bones though in this case Rose does not speak from beyond. The story line focuses on the two BFFs who learn more about each other than they do about Rose. Leisurely paced, readers will enjoy this deep character study as the truth does not always free you as it sometimes makes you flee from what you learn about yourself in abject terror.

Harriet Klausner

Murder In The 11th House-Mitchell Scott Lewis

Murder In The 11th House
Mitchell Scott Lewis
Poisoned Pen, Sep 6 2011, $24.95
ISBN: 9781590589502

In Manhattan David Lowell runs Starlight Detective Agency. His best source for during an inquiry is using astrology charts; even his broker sells or buys when David tells him his order.

His daughter Melinda enters his office just before closing. Without a hello, she hires him. Melinda explains that as the most junior associate at her law firm, she is stuck with a pro bono case. Bartender Johnny Colbert has been charged with the murder of Lower Manhattan Debt Claims Judge Farrah Winston. She hands her dad her acrimonious uncooperative client’s birth chart, which he analyzes like a real Sherlock Holmes enhancing the likely facts with an astrology reading. Though the case is shut and closed, he and his team (Sarah the office assistant Sarah, Mort the hacker and Andy the bodyguard/driver) begin to find cracks as he seeks a killer’s "Mercury in retrograde" mistake.

Murder In The 11th House is a fun lighthearted paranormal Manhattan murder mystery starring a brilliant idiosyncratic protagonist and his eccentric team. With a nod to Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes and Victoria Laurie’s Psychic Eye series, this entertaining story line contains astrological references throughout that add uniqueness to the sleuthing. It is in the stars that readers will enjoy our first but not last visit to the Starlight Detective Agency.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, July 11, 2011

Thick as Thieves-Peter Spiegelman

Thick as Thieves
Peter Spiegelman
Knopf, Jul 26 2011, $24.95
ISBN: 9780307263179

In Mexico City, Declan meets former CIA agent Carr to discuss a business deal. Declan explains that a mutual acquaintance Voss recommended him to increase his business share of the theft market. He further says he is a thief with a professional team that steals from traffickers, but needs a leader-planner to attain the next level. Carr has doubts but agrees.

They have some success except Declan died in a mission, which Carr‘s CIA trained radar smells an inside traitor set them up. In spite of distrusting his teammates even Valerie the woman he sleeps with, he knows those were trial runs to improve their to the minute efficiencies. Feeling ready for a big score, Carr targets financier Curtis Prager. This financier was investigated for laundering millions, but just before his conviction the key witness died. Currently he works finances for organized crime in the Caymans and is worth millions to a precise team of thieves.

The key this twisting thriller is the story line feels possible. The cast is solid though obviously Carr is the star as he contends with leading the planned heist and caring for his dying father in Stockbridge. Fast-paced from the first escapade and never taking a respite until the final confrontation, readers will relish this excellent tale as blood proves to be as Thick as Thieves.

Harriet Klausner

Infernal Angels-Loren D. Estleman

Infernal Angels
Loren D. Estleman
Forge, Jul 5 2011, $24.99
ISBN: 9780765319555

In Detroit Reuben Crossgrain owns Past Presence where "Everything you require for the Modern Regressive Lifestyle" is for sale. He hires private investigator Amos Walker to recover 25 stolen TV converter boxes that allow the owner to watch HDTV on an analog set. Amos who is technological delinquent is a bit shocked with the job because the loss barely covers his retainer.

Walker works the mean streets of the Motor City seeking clues to the identities of the owners of these hot gizmos. However, the relatively easy inquiry turns nasty when his efforts reach his “friend” former Detroit police detective and current Homeland Security Operative Mary Ann Thaler. The case turns ugly when a key suspect and the person who lost the shipment are murdered; however that twist feels more at home to Walker than seeking gadgets he never heard of doing things to TV sets that should have rabbit ears. He begins to learn of a deadly heroin trafficking using Crossgrain’s converter boxes.

The twenty-first Amos Walker private investigative thriller (see The Left-Handed Dollar) is a great tale that provides the usual deep look at the shrinking city that some believe has died; the state has not announced the wake. The story line is vintage Walker as he gets beat up and beats up others while corpses provide plenty of business for undertakers and body bag manufacturers. Fans will enjoy this modern day noir as the anti techie hero works plans to charge his client for his medical bills.

Harriet Klausner

A Game of Lies-Rebecca Cantrell

A Game of Lies
Rebecca Cantrell
Forge, Jul 5 2011, $24.99
ISBN: 9780765327338

In 1936, the Gestapo still seek crime reporter Hannah Vogel for her kidnapping Anton the young son of the now dead Nazi official Ernst Rohm five years ago (see A Trace of Smoke). However, the deadly secret police have bigger issues than an embarrassment reporter in neutral Switzerland. They need to cleanse the city of any hints of anti Semitism. Thus Vogel easily sneaks in as she has several times over the last five years (see A Night of Long Knives) under the guise this time of Swiss reporter Adelheid Zinsli covering the Olympics.

As always when she returns to Germany her contact is her pretend lover SS Hauptsturmfuhrer Lars Lang who’s turning increasingly into an alcoholic. As Adelheid she is to meet with her mentor Peter Weill, who has information he needs taken out of the country. Thus when she sees Weill drop dead at the Berlin Stadium, she assumes he was poisoned even if it looks like a heart attack. Not sure whether to trust her “lover” who she hears ugly rumors about, Vogel investigates what she assumes was a homicide while also knowing she must get Weill’s information to Switzerland before as she expects the Nazis shut down the borders following the Games completion.

Filled with twists and timely, this exciting espionage thriller occurs while the world enjoys the Berlin Games; preferring to keep their heads in the sand rather than accept the atrocities the Nazis had begun. Vogel is a super heroine who risks her life to raise the warnings about the Nazi war machine while fearing her contact will betray her. Readers will appreciate the aptly named A Game of Lies as the host country dominated the event.

Harriet Klausner

Sleight of Paw-Sofie Kelly

Sleight of Paw
Sofie Kelly
Obsidian, Sep 6 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780451234537

Owen and Hercules adopted the new Mayville Heights, Minnesota librarian Kathleen Paulson as their human crazy cay lady owner. Kathleen, now struggling with her first tundra winter, came to town after a lover’s spat in which he left and returned two weeks later with a wife. She had not planned to stay, but her feline family has her thinking of permanent residency.

Retired schoolteacher Agatha Shepherd is found murdered in the ally near Eric’s Place restaurant. Ruby who found the body is arrested as circumstantial evidence points towards her as the culprit. Kath does not buy her friend as the killer because Ruby loved Agatha who changed her life around from juvenile delinquent to model citizen changing her hair color every two weeks. Although she prefers to stay out of sleuthing after the perilous adventures in Curiosity Thrilled the Cat, she uncovers contrary evidence that points elsewhere due to her feline partners. The trio risks their lives to insure the real killer is placed in jail.

The two cats with their paranormal powers make Sleight of Paw a precious cozy with their telepathic communication and deep need to protect their Kath. Their human pet has adapted nicely to the Burl Ives picture postcard town as she has made good friends (and not just the cats) and is falling in love with a local detective though she keeps her distance having been burned once. The whodunit is super as there are several suspects including friends who could be the killer as the amateur sleuth and her two feline companions investigate the homicide of a highly regarded former teacher.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Thieves Get Rich, Saints Get Shot-Jodi Compton

Thieves Get Rich, Saints Get Shot
Jodi Compton
Crown, Jul 19 2011, $23.00
ISBN: 9780307588081

Hailey Cain was two months shy of graduating West Point when the army gave her a medical discharge due to a deadly brain tumor. She returned to California only to lose a finger when she took on a mobster in Hailey’s War. Her irate cousin Grammy award winner CJ Mooney tells her not to come back to his place as he cannot cope with her life risking adventures.

Instead Hailey hooks up with Serena "Warchild" Delgadillo, the leader of a kick butt Latina female gang in Los Angeles. Warchild calls Cain informing her she is wanted for a double murder including a cop in San Francisco. Cain is stunned as she is four hundred miles to the south so could not have committed the homicides. As Cain begins her efforts to expedite herself from her troubles, she encounters gang-intelligence cop Magnus Ford who offers her a chance for moral redemption.

The second Cain thriller is a profound look at female gangs who in many cases make the other gender look weak. Cain is a terrific lead who keeps the exciting insightful story line focused as her moral compass feels off since she joined her schoolmate’s gang. On top of her lethal illness, the anti-heroine learns personal values and ethics and a stolen identity are difficult hills to climb.

Harriet Klausner

Sixkill-Robert B. Parker

Sixkill
Robert B. Parker
Putnam, May 3 2011, $26.95
ISBN: 9780399157264

Bad boy actor Jumbo Nelson is in Boston on a film shoot. Boston PD has arrested him for the rape and murder of unemployed junior college grad Dawn Lopata. Over coffee, BPD detective Quirk tells his friend Spenser the case smells though the evidence seems overwhelming while the media wants to guillotine the “creep”.

Spenser agrees to look into the homicide though from what he knows of the actor he deserves lock-up, just probably not for this murder. The private investigator meets Jumbo’s booze buddy bodyguard Native American Zebulon Sixkill, Spenser sees passed the tough guy image Z displays for the world to the inner person who is a caring soul. As they team up and he mentors Z, the case turns even uglier with bi-coastal connections.

With his mind boggling superb thirty-ninth Spenser thriller, the late Robert B. Parker pays homage to him self. This is a great entry made fresh by the title character. The story line is action-packed from the moment Quirk quietly asks for Spenser’s street savvy assistance and never slows down as Mr. Parker provides an entertaining mystery.

Harriet Klausner

Robert B. Parker's Killing the Blues-Michael Brandman

Robert B. Parker's Killing the Blues
Michael Brandman
Putnam, Sep 13 2011, $25.95
ISBN: 9780399157844

Paradise, Massachusetts is gearing up for the summer tourist season with the Board of Selectmen hiring events planner Alexis Richardson to put the town on the map as a happening place. Chief of Police Jesse Stone is attracted to her and they have an affair though neither wants to get to serious. He has no time to move their relationship to the next level as he has two different criminals converging on the town.

A crime wave begins with two Hondas stolen. The higher-ups think that someone is setting up a chop shop. When a third car is stolen, the owner fights thief, but is killed enabling the felon to escape. Jesse finds and holds the thief incommunicado under he tells him who is boss is. On a personal note, Rollo Nurse is released from a California penitentiary and is coming east to kill Jesse who used excessive force that caused permanent damage to the career criminal. Rollo starts killing dogs before he turns to arson and ends up finally killing a cop. Jesse has other issues and crimes to deal with including an indifferent principal, a sexual predator teacher and a student who held the principal hostage. Jesse works all these problems while expecting a not too social visit from Rollo.

Michael Brandman successfully takes over the Robert B. Parker Jesse Stone police procedurals with a strong entry that captures the essence of the small town sheriff. The story line is filled with action as the caseload is overwhelming but Jesse keeps working all of them while he and fans await the confrontation. The author captures the magic of Mr. Parker’s writing style ensuring readers will want to read this special police procedural series until it ends.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, July 8, 2011

Portrait of A Spy-Daniel Silva

Portrait of A Spy
Daniel Silva
Harper, Jul 19 2011, $26.99
ISBN: 9780062072184

Art restorer Gabriel Allon and his wife, Chiara look forward to the weekend in London. They will visit St. James's where he will authenticate a potentially phenomenal find, a painting by Titian. Afterward they will enjoy the city.

However, the day is ruined die to suicide bombings on the Champs-Elysees left twenty-eight dead in Paris and in Tivoli Gardens killed thirty-seven in Copenhagen. On alert Allon notices a man acting strange near Covent Garden and wonders if this is another terrorist attack. He goes to intercede, but undercover officers knock him to the ground before he can shoot the suspect and consequently in time for the explosion to affirm what he thought. Despondent Gabriel goes to Cornwall until the CIA asks him to find an American cleric with grandiose schemes to outdo Bin Laden.

Though anti-terrorism field work should be a young man’s game, no one will mind Allon working the cold as he struggles with the deaths of eighteen innocents due to the reaction of the cops after the tragic Menezes fiasco. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Allon spots the suicide bomber and never slows down as he hunts for the cleric. With insight into the competition to reach the minds of potential second generation home grown terrorists, Daniel Silva provides another powerful thriller as readers anticipate a showdown between the cleric and the art restorer.

Harriet Klausner

Sacred Evil-Heather Graham

Sacred Evil
Heather Graham
Mira, Jul 26 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9781410439024

On Broadway the murderer leaves the guttered corpse of starlet Virginia Rockford out on the street. NYPD detective Jude Crosby looks at the gruesome bloody crime scene and is stunned when the ME Fulbright says the killer recreated the first throat ripping murder by Jack the Ripper. Reporter Melissa Banks calls the Ripperologist copy cat Jack the Slasher.

Jude’s boss Nathaniel Green assigns a task force to assist his lead detective and calls in the Fed as he fears a serial killer is repeating Ripper’s 1888 reign of terror. Jude works with FBI special agent Whitney Tremont and the rest of a special unit headed by Jackson Crow (see Krewe of Hunters’ cases - Heart of Evil and Evil Inside) on a manhunt to prevent the killer from murdering the next victim. However, as they dig deep into the case, evil stalks them with Whitney as the next target.

Sacred Evil is a taut paranormal police procedural that grips the audience once Jude and Whitney begin the investigation. The romance is a secondary subplot as the cat loving male and the dog loving female fall in love, but know stopping the evil killer takes precedent over their feelings. With a nod to the X-Files, readers will appreciate the latest Jackson Crow Krewe case.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Murder In Burnt Orange-Jeanne M. Dams

Murder In Burnt Orange
Jeanne M. Dams
Perseverance Press, Sep 2011, $15.95
ISBN: 9781564745033

Independent Hilda Johansson emigrated from Sweden to South Bend, Indiana to become a housemaid at Tippecanoe Place. Strong willed to make it on her own, fireman Patrick Cavanaugh and Hilda fall in love. They marry despite objections from both their families. She becomes a lady when her spouse becomes nouveau riche working for his uncle’s high income store Mallory’s Dry Goods. The oppressive heat of the summer of 1905 makes pregnant Hilda miserable and cranky.

To get the cranky Hilda’s mind on something else, Patrick’s Aunt Molly challenges her to use her cognitive skills to hear and see people she trusts to learn who ruined the switch on the train tracks deliberately killing and injuring crew and passengers. Hilda investigates the derailment and other recent nearby activity that involves unions, arson, and murder. An enemy of Patrick and Hilda orchestrates these disasters for a puppet master who wants both Cavanaughs dead.

A Hilda Johansson amateur sleuth is always fun to read because the recurring cast starting with the heroine come across as friends and bring to life small town Indiana at the turn of the previous century. The whodunit is complex with several twists and theories adding complications to “General” Hilda who commands her loyal troops because they trust she will solve the case.

Harriet Klausner