Thursday, December 29, 2011

Raylan-Elmore Leonard


Elmore Leonard

Morrow, Jan 17 2012, $26.99

ISBN: 9780062119469

In Harlan County, Kentucky, the two cash crops are marijuana and organ harvesting. U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens (see Pronto and Riding the Rap) investigates who removed the kidneys from drug dealer Angel Arenas. His inquiry leads to weed dealing brothers Dickie and Coover Crowe who expanded their operations into the lucrative harvesting of organs to sell back at 10K to the donor; the Fed knows this pair’s combined IQ would remain in single digits so someone medically competent is the brains of the operation.

The Crowe family owns mountain land that a coal company covets. Executive Carol Conlon will kill anyone who gets in her firm’s mountaintop removal operation. Givens follows a deadly feud to the Crowe clan and the mining company.

Raylan pursues stoned bank robbing strippers. The clues lead to Jackie Nevada who pays for her college tuition at Butler by playing poker.

More novellas and shorts (there is additional vignettes) than a novel, the tie between the tales is Raylan. The zany tales are over the top of Black Mountain as the madcap police procedurals are fun to read while satirizing American capitalism especially through the various legal and illegal industries and the caricature villains and villainesses. Fans will enjoy Elmore Leonard’s latest madcap thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Next Of Kin-Sharon Sala

Next Of Kin

Sharon Sala

Mira, Jan 31 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780778313120

In the Los Angeles area, while staying at a friend’s house Beth Venable witnesses a mob kill, but the murderer knows someone observed the homicide. The killer murders Beth’s friend who he assumes is the person who saw him. The FBI places her in a safe house until she can give testimony at the trial, but a predator stalks her. Two more failed safe houses persuade Beth that the Feds are incompetent, traitorous or both. She flees them and her killer for the anonymity of her Kentucky family in the Appalachian.

Besides her clan rallying around the prodigal child’s return, Beth’s former sweetheart Ryal Walker welcomes her back with a need for a second chance. While Beth considers staying at her old Kentucky home with Ryal, her persistent predator comes to the obscure mountain ridge seeking to kill Beth and anyone in his way.

The theme of this Rebel Ridge romantic suspense has been used a lot, but talented Sharon Sala makes it feel like she is the first author to use a hit man coming after a witness-damsel in distress. The lead couple is a delightful second chance pairing while her kin bring to life the dirt roads and shacks of Appalachia compared to “L.A. is a great big freeway” (Do you know the way to San Jose?). What really makes the thriller work is brave bodacious Beth who refuses to fold just because a pro stalks her.

Harriet Klausner

Raylan-Elmore Leonard


Elmore Leonard

Morrow, Jan 17 2012, $26.99

ISBN: 9780062119469

In Harlan County, Kentucky, the two cash crops are marijuana and organ harvesting. U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens (see Pronto and Riding the Rap) investigates who removed the kidneys from drug dealer Angel Arenas. His inquiry leads to weed dealing brothers Dickie and Coover Crowe who expanded their operations into the lucrative harvesting of organs to sell back at 10K to the donor; the Fed knows this pair’s combined IQ would remain in single digits so someone medically competent is the brains of the operation.

The Crowe family owns mountain land that a coal company covets. Executive Carol Conlon will kill anyone who gets in her firm’s mountaintop removal operation. Givens follows a deadly feud to the Crowe clan and the mining company.

Raylan pursues stoned bank robbing strippers. The clues lead to Jackie Nevada who pays for her college tuition at Butler by playing poker.

More novellas and shorts (there is additional vignettes) than a novel, the tie between the tales is Raylan. The zany tales are over the top of Black Mountain as the madcap police procedurals are fun to read while satirizing American capitalism especially through the various legal and illegal industries and the caricature villains and villainesses. Fans will enjoy Elmore Leonard’s latest madcap thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Claimed by a Vampire-Rachel Lee

Claimed by a Vampire

Rachel Lee

Harlequin Nocturne, Jan 24 2012, $5.50

ISBN: 9780373618767

Writer Yvonne Dupuis moves into her new apartment, but feels uncomfortable as she believes a demon stalks her. Fearful she hires Messenger Investigations, Inc. private investigator Jude Messenger to protect her. Jude assigns investigator Creed Preston the vampire to keep the client safe.

Creed wonders who will keep Yvonne safe from him as his olfactory senses send his brain messages of desire from her elixir. Still he knows deep in his gut he would die to keep this mortal he wants safe from harm including from him. However, Creed and Jude miscalculate the totality of the threat wrought by the target’s odious former boyfriend, as the demon who claimed the writer has allies as evil as he is.

The latest Messenger Investigations, Inc. romantic urban fantasy (see Claim the Night) is a wonderful thriller starring two strong lead characters supported by Jude who seems never afraid. Yvonne is great as a bewildered frightened human while Creed is a terrific tormented vampire. The evil and his malevolent horde enhance a delightful paranormal romantic suspense as Yvonne learns the meaning of Claimed by a Vampire.

Harriet Klausner

A Warrior’s Desire-Pamela Palmer

A Warrior’s Desire

Pamela Palmer

Harlequin Nocturne, Jan 24 2012, $5.50

ISBN: 9780373618774

Due to a coup that removed the Queen of Esria from the throne, the Esri breach the wall into the human plane where one touch by the outsiders leads to the enslaving of the natives. Former military operative Charlie Rand is assigned to cross into Esria to free the deposed ruler, who had banned travel into the human realm and mortal slavery, and learn how to close the portal from her.

He crosses over and meets up with his guide Tarrys a former slave. Charlie fears his attraction to his escort distracts him from the mission while Tarrys fears her wanting the outsider will interfere with the successful completion of the objective. However, as they trek across a nightmarish landscape, he is quickly grateful to his companion as Tarrys saves his life several times.

This action-packed romantic fantasy is a fabulous thriller due to the gender bending rescuing of a man in peril by the intrepid heroine , She shows her guts under fire; while the lead human is not that different from typical military males on a mission until the heroine saves his life. With a tour of the deadly nightmarish Esria landscape, readers will relish Pamela Palmer’s vivid taut tale as a former warrior and a former slave fall in love while trying to save humanity from the touch of the Esri.

Harriet Klausner

Vengeance Born-Kylie Griffin

Vengeance Born

Kylie Griffin

Berkley, Feb 7 2012, $15.00

ISBN: 9780425245261

Tormented Annika the Na’Chi hybrid daughter of the Na’Reish demon chief loathes her sire and his minions as her brutish father constantly with glee reminds her she is a Vengeance Born product of revenge. A healer, she dreams of escaping her torturous life but none of the human blood slaves have ever escaped from the demon realm and lived to tell the story.

The Na'Reish Horde has increased their invasions and abductions in the human realm. Kalan the Lady’s Chosen leader of the Light Blade defends humankind against the demons; he fears his side is losing a war of attrition as his warriors are shrinking in numbers and those still at combat aging. He argues with the Council that radical changes must be implemented now or the demons will soon overwhelm the human realm. When the enemy captures him, a despondent Kalan despairs the massacre is imminent. However, new hope arises when Annika, who he distrusts, offers to free him if he takes her into his realm. Distrusting her new ally but with no turning back as Annika knows her sire branded her for death.

The first Light Blade romantic fantasy is a terrific thriller as the endless war between demon and humans is reaching a critical survival stage for the latter. The lead couple is a strong pairing while the support cast, especially the Na’Chi, the warriors and the Council, enhance the internal squabble in the human realm. With an insightful look at racial intolerance in a time of long-term constant combat and security alert, fans will enjoy Vengeance Born.

Harriet Klausner

Not Wicked Enough-Carolyn Jewel

Not Wicked Enough

Carolyn Jewel

Berkley, Feb 7 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780425246603

In 1816 in Bittersweet, England intelligent and affluent Lily Wellstone comes to Mountjoy to comfort her best friend Ginny whose husband just died. On her journey, a Gypsy gives her a medallion claiming this will lead her to romance with a stranger. Arriving late at night in the rain, she meets Ginny’s brother the Duke of Mountjoy who toiled as a farmer all his life until recently he inherited the title and estate following a string of deaths.

Mountjoy takes his new position extremely serious. So his attraction to the perky playful visitor shocks him especially with her flirting. However, instead of writing her off as an aristocratic fluff, Mountjoy observes his guest is kind towards Ginny and loves the library, her favorite room. As they begin to fall in love, each wonders whether it is real or Gypsy medallion magic.

This Reforming the Scoundrels historical is an engaging Regency romance though neither protagonist could be labeled “scoundrel”. The character driven somewhat thin storyline is fast-paced, filled with passion and a touch of the whimsical as the lead couple each wonders what true love is.

Harriet Klausner

Before She Dies -Mary Burton-

Before She Dies

Mary Burton

Zebra, Jan 31 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9781420110210

He baptizes the evil “witches” to rid them of sin before he drives a stake through their cleansed heart pinning his victims to the ground. His count of purifying the gender rises as it is unsafe for women to be alone.

Defense attorney Charlotte Wellington hides her scandalous past behind a veneer of cold Before She Dies

professionalism. She wants no one to know her sister was murdered and that she was raised in a traveling carnival. When her chidlhood troupe arrives in town, Charlotte’s hidden past is revealed. However, Charlotte fails to comprehend that the purifying serial killer targets her in needs of sin removal cleansing. Her only hope for survival resides with Detective Daniel Rokov who distrusts this damsel in distress partly because of his attraction to her.

The latest Mary Burton serial killer thriller (see Senseless, Dead Ringer, Dying Scream and Merciless) is a great tale because of Charlotte who holds the exhilarating storyline together. Readers will wonder who she really is as her past surfaces with death after death. Before She Dies is an intense suspense that grips readers from start to finish.

Harriet Klausner

Edge of Midnight-Leslie Tentler

Edge of Midnight

Leslie Tentler

Mira, Jan 24 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780778313137

FBI agent Eric Macfarlane unofficially hunts the Collector serial killer haunting Florida. His thirst to end this predator’s killing spree is personal as the Collector murdered his wife.

On a Jacksonville Beach, a bloodied, confused female is found. Crime reporter Mia Hale is the first person to survive the Collector’s lethal assault. However, she remembers nothing about the psychopath who drugged and tortured her before leaving her “dead” on the beach. Eric persuades his leadership to allow him to investigate and keep the witness safe. As the serial killer adds to his deadly count, he targets the survivor and taunts her protector with reminders how Eric failed to keep his spouse safe.

The latest FBI Chasing Evil romantic suspense is an exciting thriller starring a diabolically clever but deranged villain, an emotionally damaged Fed and a crime reporter who has become the story. Although the plot has been done before including in this series (see Midnight Fear and Midnight Caller), the killer brings the freshness as readers meet this maniac up front and in person. Fans will enjoy his chess game against Eric, as the hunted and the hunter vie for the queen.

Harriet Klausner

Next Of Kin-Sharon Sala

Next Of Kin

Sharon Sala

Mira, Jan 31 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780778313120

In the Los Angeles area, while staying at a friend’s house Beth Venable witnesses a mob kill, but the murderer knows someone observed the homicide. The killer murders Beth’s friend who he assumes is the person who saw him. The FBI places her in a safe house until she can give testimony at the trial, but a predator stalks her. Two more failed safe houses persuade Beth that the Feds are incompetent, traitorous or both. She flees them and her killer for the anonymity of her Kentucky family in the Appalachian.

Besides her clan rallying around the prodigal child’s return, Beth’s former sweetheart Ryal Walker welcomes her back with a need for a second chance. While Beth considers staying at her old Kentucky home with Ryal, her persistent predator comes to the obscure mountain ridge seeking to kill Beth and anyone in his way.

The theme of this Rebel Ridge romantic suspense has been used a lot, but talented Sharon Sala makes it feel like she is the first author to use a hit man coming after a witness-damsel in distress. The lead couple is a delightful second chance pairing while her kin bring to life the dirt roads and shacks of Appalachia compared to “L.A. is a great big freeway” (Do you know the way to San Jose?). What really makes the thriller work is brave bodacious Beth who refuses to fold just because a pro stalks her.

Harriet Klausner

In Harlan County, Kentucky, the two cash crops are marijuana and organ harvesting. U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens (see Pronto and Riding the Rap) investigates who removed the kidneys from drug dealer Angel Arenas. His inquiry leads to weed dealing brothers Dickie and Coover Crowe who expanded their operations into the lucrative harvesting of organs to sell back at 10K to the donor; the Fed knows this pair’s combined IQ would remain in single digits so someone medically competent is the brains of the operation.

The Crowe family owns mountain land that a coal company covets. Executive Carol Conlon will kill anyone who gets in her firm’s mountaintop removal operation. Givens follows a deadly feud to the Crowe clan and the mining company.

Raylan pursues stoned bank robbing strippers. The clues lead to Jackie Nevada who pays for her college tuition at Butler by playing poker.

More novellas and shorts (there is additional vignettes) than a novel, the tie between the tales is Raylan. The zany tales are over the top of Black Mountain as the madcap police procedurals are fun to read while satirizing American capitalism especially through the various legal and illegal industries and the caricature villains and villainesses. Fans will enjoy Elmore Leonard’s latest madcap thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Next Of Kin

Sharon Sala

Mira, Jan 31 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780778313120

In the Los Angeles area, while staying at a friend’s house Beth Venable witnesses a mob kill, but the murderer knows someone observed the homicide. The killer murders Beth’s friend who he assumes is the person who saw him. The FBI places her in a safe house until she can give testimony at the trial, but a predator stalks her. Two more failed safe houses persuade Beth that the Feds are incompetent, traitorous or both. She flees them and her killer for the anonymity of her Kentucky family in the Appalachian.

Besides her clan rallying around the prodigal child’s return, Beth’s former sweetheart Ryal Walker welcomes her back with a need for a second chance. While Beth considers staying at her old Kentucky home with Ryal, her persistent predator comes to the obscure mountain ridge seeking to kill Beth and anyone in his way.

The theme of this Rebel Ridge romantic suspense has been used a lot, but talented Sharon Sala makes it feel like she is the first author to use a hit man coming after a witness-damsel in distress. The lead couple is a delightful second chance pairing while her kin bring to life the dirt roads and shacks of Appalachia compared to “L.A. is a great big freeway” (Do you know the way to San Jose?). What really makes the thriller work is brave bodacious Beth who refuses to fold just because a pro stalks her.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

No Story To Tell-K.J. Steele

No Story To Tell

K.J. Steele

Fiction Studio, Oct 1 2011, $16.95

PI Box 4613; Stanford, CT 06907

ISBN: 9781936558209

In Hinkley, twins were born, but the tiny feeble female was expected to die. However, instead her brother named Victor passed away while she survived against all odds. Later her parents name her Victoria. Her father loathes his surviving child as he wanted the boy not a girl. A year later her abusive father dies, but her mother is shocked that she slept for hours with a corpse; she joined him only a few months later when she realized he still bullied her from the grave. Victoria moves in with her Auntie May, but her newest guardian dies shortly afterward.

Her husband Bobby treats Victoria as a prized possession that he ridicules rather than a partner. All these people who have controlled her over the years deny her dream of dance. Only her solo friend Rose knows the real Victoria hiding inside the outer shell of a childlike persona. However, Elliot the artist recommends the once upon a time dreams of the inner Victoria the dancer and encourages to go after her most fulfilling dream.

This is a deep engaging psychological thriller that focuses on an abused woman who wants to soar free to dance, but is so used to being the scorned bird in a gilded cage she has no concept of idea how to fly. Victoria makes the insightful storyline work as the protagonist who metaphorically grows wings that changes the dynamics of her relationships. No Story To Tell tells a terrific story of a survivor finally taking a risk that will shake her world.

Harriet Klausner

Need You Now-James Grippando

Need You Now

James Grippando

Harper, Jan 3 2012, $25.99

ISBN: 9780061840302

How far Abe Cushman has fallen is the whispers on Wall St. He has been a major player on the Street for five decades and includes on his sterling résumé a stint as the chair of NASDAQ. Now Abe who had billions of Money To Burn is scheduled to meet with the Feds on a $60,000,000,000 Ponzi scheme. Instead Abe commits suicide rather than spend the rest of his life behind bars.

However, the billions have vanished angering investors; some of whom want revenge and their money as those who understand the Street know Cushman could not have done this alone. The Manhattan branch of the International Bank of Switzerland assigns junior analyst Patrick Lloyd and his former girlfriend Lilly Scanlon to search for the lost loot. However, Lily has insider knowledge that leaves her and Patrick in jeopardy from those who will kill for the money.

Filled with twists and action, fans of financial thrillers will relish this strong tale that offers a terrific solution to the missing Madoff money. Fast-paced, the fun in the entertaining storyline is how James Grippando brilliantly delivers his Ponzi scheme spin.

Harriet Klausner

Deep Sky-Patrick Lee

Deep Sky

Patrick Lee

Harper, Dec 27 2011, $7.99

ISBN 9780061958793

President Garner is on TV giving a speech to the nation from the Oval office when the screens went black. A missile strike hit the White House killing POTUS and blowing the roof off the facility. Vice President Holt is given the oath of office while flying back from Los Angeles to DC. In the Wyoming desert at the most secure facility in the world, agents of ultra-Top Secret Tangent discuss who is responsible. One of the operatives mentions the Archer Air Force defense program of missiles hidden in civilian areas as a last deterrent against nuclear strikes. Agent Travis Chase realizes what is implied; the military assassinated their Commander-in-Chief.

Soon after the assassination of the president, enemy operatives mount a precision assault on Tangent. The target is to take control of the Breach pathway to and from another dimension. Both incidents required powerful backing. His lover Paige Campbell and technological expert Bethany Stewart are running out of time in spite of having all the time in the world to uncover who is behind the unmentionable that dates back to the Reagan administration yet the truth lies in the near future.

The third Chase thriller (see The Breach and Ghost Country) is a great twisting tale that grips the audience from the moment POTUS is killed and never let’s go until after a climatic stunning finish. Faster than the show 24, Chase is a sort of Jack Bauer but in a science fiction universe. Readers will relish this exciting entry in a strong trilogy.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Crown-Nancy Bilyeau

The Crown

Nancy Bilyeau

Touchstone, Jan 10 2012, $24.99

ISBN: 9781451626858

In 1537, Dominican novice Joanna Stafford learns her beloved cousin Lady Margaret Bulmer is to be burned at the stakes for treason against the Crown. Stunned Joanna violates convent rules of enclosure by leaving Dartford Priory; she rushes to London to stand by her relative while praying for divine intervention to save her Margaret from execution. Instead Joanna’s father uses gunpowder to expedite his niece’s death.

Father and daughter are arrested for violating the King’s justice. They are taken to the Tower where the Stafford pair resides for the next several months. Bishop of Winchester Stephen Gardiner visits Joanna with a deal she cannot refuse if she wants to prevent him from torturing and murdering her father. She is to return to her priory accompanied by two monks in order to locate the crown worn by Saxon King Athelstan in 937 during the battle of Britain unification. However Dartford proves deadly, but clues lead Joanna and Brother Edmund to Malmesbury where much of English secret history is interred.

When this exciting Tudor era thriller focuses on Joanna, the storyline is fast-paced and intriguing; however subplots involving other characters at Dartford detract from the prime plot. Still, fans will enjoy the escapades of Joanna and Edmund as they try to do what is right under God and to save her father while their ruthless ambitious adversaries have no moral or religious limitations.

Harriet Klausner

Blotto, Twinks and the Dead Dowager Duchess-Simon Brett

Blotto, Twinks and the Dead Dowager Duchess

Simon Brett

Felony & Mayhem, Jan 16 2012, $14.95

ISBN: 9781934609927

The Dowager Duchess of Tawcester informs her two offspring (better known as Blotto and Twinks than Honourable or Lady) that the trio will attend a weekend gala at the estate of the Dowager Duchess of Melmont. Blotto tries to avoid Laetitia Melmont who seems to find him with uncanny skill. However, the house party gaiety ends abruptly when someone uses a pitchfork to murder the hostess in her kitchen garden.

While the Dowager Duchess of Tawcester accuses her rival the dead Melmont of doing anything to gain a societal edge, Snitterings the butler sends for Constable Trumbull and Sergeant Knatchbull. Guest amateur sleuth Troubadour Bligh accuses the Tawcester chauffeur Corky Froggett of murdering the Dead Dowager Duchess. Blotto and Twinks know Corky is innocent so they investigate the homicide that leads them to evil League of the Crimson Hand

This is a fun P. G. Wodehouse-light satire of the 1920s manners mysteries in which idle wealthy aristocrats solve cases while simpering moronic constables provide comic relief. As a case against in-breeding Blotto turns into a detractor as he proves IQs can be negative numbers with his incessant need for a zillion explanations mostly from his patient brilliant sibling. Still overall the second Blotto, Twinks aristocratic amateur sleuth (see Blotto, Twinks and the Ex-King’s Daughter) is an amusing parody as a name by any other name is still a name.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, December 19, 2011

Not This Time-Vicki Hinze

Not This Time

Vicki Hinze

Multnomah, Feb 21 2012, $13.99

ISBN: 9781601422071

The second Talbot marriage between Dr. Harvey and FBI agent Roxy occurs at the Seagrove Village country club. Police Detective Jeff Myers arrives late only to find everyone unconscious. One person elderly Clyde Parker, village matriarch Nora’s beloved, dies from the chemical terrorist attack. The villagers believe Nihilists in Anarchy (NINA) deployed to send them a warning message for interfering in their illegal unethical operations (see Forget me Not and Deadly Ties).

The endearing relationship between business partners BFF Sara Jones-Tayon and Beth Dawson has increasingly been estranged due to the latter’s husband Robert. When Robert calls Beth frantically insisting he has been kidnapped, Jeff thinks Beth is behind the abduction while Beth thinks the “victim” is pulling another con job though she also believes her Joe is playing with her heart. Finally Karl Masson tries to rectify his one act of kindness in order to get back in the graces of NINA’s Raven, who remains unidentified and deadly.

The final Crossroads Crisis Center romantic suspense is an exhilarating action-packed thriller from the moment Jeff finds everyone supine on a floor. The storyline ties the major threads up to the delight of fans. Although Raven’s identity seems obvious early on in spite of a clever red herring, readers will relish Vicki Hinze’s engaging finish to this taut series.

Harriet Klausner

Rapture Alley/Winter Girl/Strictly for the Boys-Harry Whittington

Rapture Alley/Winter Girl/Strictly for the Boys

Harry Whittington

Stark House, Feb 13, 2012, $23.95

ISBN: 9781933586366

“Rapture Alley.” Lora lives with her wheelchair bound sister Chris and lecherous brother-in-law Ken hoping to be a movie star. Her luck has been all bad with her only escape being marijuana as whiskey no longer provides a dulling sensation until she meets Arty and then Boyd.

“Winter Girl.” In Cottonseed County, wealthy snowbird Frank wants Fanny the dog, but owner Calder refuses to sell though the lad fears his dad will complete the deal. Frank’s daughter Lu Ann arrives flirting with a besotted Calder. However though they drive away together, she sees him as a joyride to taunt her dad. Still there is Judge Stark’s daughter Willi Ruth though she too is from a higher social and economic class.

“Strictly for the Boys”. Amy met Burt when she was fourteen. Now three years later the married Amy lost her youthful energetic innocence replaced with bitterness due to Burt’s jealousy for no cause leading to physical and emotion abuse. Desperate Amy flees back home to her mom Stella when Burt is drafted by the army and meets kind Terry. Burt returns to reclaim his property and her mom supports his position that she is his wife who he insists he will never leave him.

These engaging reprints of three Harry Whittington pulp fictions provide readers with a taste of a non-Happy Days 1950s. Each of the protagonists is fully developed with flaws that make them seem real. With an introduction “The Restoration of Harry” by David Laurence Wilson providing background depth to Mr. Whittington’s literary history, fans of stark relationship dramas will want to read this powerful trio.

Harriet Klausner

The Garden Intrigue-Lauren Willig

The Garden Intrigue

Lauren Willig

Dutton, Feb 16 2012, $25.95

ISBN 9780525952541

In 1804, secret agent Augustus Whittlesby, residing in France for over a decade, conceals his espionage missives to the English within inane dull poetry. The surveillance agents loathe Whittlesby’s babble so they never look closely at his insufferable garbage he calls poetry.

New York expatriate Widow Emma Delagardie arrived in France years ago with her uncle the American envoy. She knows the Emperor’s stepdaughter and was married to a deceased Frenchman. Emma hosts a weekly literary gathering at her salon, which includes insipid Augustus and Jane Wooliston (see The Secret History of the Pink Carnation). Whittlesby learns that Napoleon plans to reveal a secret weapon at a gala at Malmaison. He teams up with Emma to gain entrance as she has an invitation; along with Jane they find out what the weapon is. However, Emma has other plans for Napoleon’s weapon of mass destruction as she plots to steal and sell the war machine.

The latest Pink Carnation espionage historical romance series (see The Orchid Affair and The Mischief of the Mistletoe) is an entertaining tale as readers will laugh at the terrible poetry of the protagonist. The storyline is fast-paced however the villain fails to match up against the hero so the suspense is not as taut as previous entries. Still series fans will enjoy the poem is mightier than the sword.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Dying in the Wool-Frances Brody

Dying in the Wool

Frances Brody

Minotaur, Feb 14 2012, $24.99

RSBN: 9780312622398

Presumed awidow since her husband Royal Medical Corps captain Gerald vanished in 1918 near Villiers-Brettonneaux during heavy bombardment, ironically thirtyish Kate Shackleton has earned a deserved reputation for finding missing people but failed to find her husband. Thus when Tabitha Braithwaite offers her money to investigate the disappearance of her father Joshua in 1916, Kate reluctantly agrees to take on her first paying gig though the case is seven years cold

Kate and her friend former police officer Jim Sykes make inquiries into what happened to Joshua. They learn the missing person was unfaithful to his wife though a stalwart of the church. His wife Evelyn revels in her independence as she makes it clear she remains euphoric that she does not have to deal with her bullying husband. However, it is Tabitha’s fiancé Hector who draws her interest as he obviously conceals something. When a mill murder occurs, Kate believes there is a link to her inquiry and sets out it prove her theory though that leaves her in peril.

With a nod to Carola Dunn’s Daisy Dalyrmple, the second Shackleton 1920s investigation (see A Medal For Murder) is an entertaining historical mystery. Little things set the time and place; for instance the reaction of the locals to the protagonist driving a car and the instance of her mother to come home as young women do not live alone. A flashback to 1916 enhances the inquiry; while some improbable key scenarios involving major secondary characters detract. Still fans will enjoy this British cozy as Frances Brody provides a wonderful post WWI tale.

Harriet Klausner

The Next One to Fall-Hilary Davidson

The Next One to Fall

Hilary Davidson

Forge, Feb 14 2012, $24.99

ISBN 9780765326980

Travel writer Lily Moore still grieves the death three months ago of her sister Claudia (see The Damage Done). Her best friend photographer Jesse Robb persuades Lily to leave New York with him and visit Peru.

At Machu Picchu, the Lost City of the Incas, after hearing an argument, Jesse and Lily see a thirtyish woman dangling from a statue. The female tells them she is Trista and her boyfriend Len drugged her before pushing her off the ledge; they look on in horror as the woman falls to her death at the bottom of the ancient staircase. The police discount the two American’s testimony as the forensic evidence fails to support their assertion; ergo the official position is a terrible accident. Lily vows Len will go to prison for his nefarious deed. She learns he is wealthy with a history of females’ disappearing with no consequence to him.

This is a terrific amateur sleuth tale enhanced by the superb look into the Incan history of Peru and the vivid description of the Andes and the rest of Peru’s geography. The story line is fast-paced and filled with surprising plausible twists as the travel writer plays cat and mouse with a psychopath.

Harriet Klausner

One For The Money-Janet Evanovich

One For The Money

Janet Evanovich

St. Martin’s Griffin, Nov 22 2011, $14.95

ISBN: 9780312600730

In Trenton, New Jersey, times are tough for Stephanie Plum who lost her job as a lingerie buyer. She needs to bring in income and considers between using her sports bras and working for her cousin Vinnie. Since she has no furniture for entertaining clients, she asks Vinnie to hire her on as bond hunter though her cousin would insist she used blackmail to coax Vinnie into giving her a $10,000 murder suspect pick up, disgraced vice cop Joe Morelli. Now all Stephanie needs is a gun and a car.

Stephanie and Joe have a long time relationship that some would say is insane as she has driven her car over him and gave him her virginity as a teen. Stephanie knows this is the latest chapter when she catches and loses her mark. She interrogates boxer Benito Ramirez before borrowing Joe’s car; he would say stole it. To insure Joe cannot repossess his vehicle before she collects her bounty, Stephanie installs a car alarm for she is coming to hogtie her money source.

This reprint of the first entertaining Plum guided tour of the mean streets of Trenton retains the freshness due to the tough humorous heroine. Fast-paced. the jocular Stephanie Joe chess match is fun to follow. With the movie due out shortly, fans will enjoy One For The Money as the raunchy first person asides of the kick butt protagonist hold up nicely.

Harriet Klausner

Restless in the Grave-Dana Stabenow

Restless in the Grave

Dana Stabenow

Minotaur, Feb 14 2012, $25.99

ISBN 9780312559137

Alaskan billionaire Finn Grant dies when his Piper crashes. Someone sabotaged the plane’s engine, but the question is not who had the motive, but who did not have the motive as just about everyone in the western part of the state loathed Finn.

In Niniltna, Alaskan State Trooper Sergeant Liam Campbell asks his former teacher Sergeant Jim Chopin for help in the investigation of the murder of Grant since he cannot because he believes the prime suspect is his wife bush pilot Wyanet Chouinard. Jim introduces Liam to his beloved private investigator Kate Shugak. After Jim explains the situation, Kate agrees to go undercover at Bill’s Bar and Grill to learn more about the victim’s business practices. She soon learns Grant, hated by his own family, blackmailed anyone and embezzled from everyone as he committed fraud and other felonious activity. As Kate and her sidekick Mutt work the case she wonders what freight the deceased shipped since he bought the abandoned air force base as the headquarters of his myriad of businesses.

The first meeting between Shugak (see Though Not Dead) and Alaska state trooper Liam Campbell (see Better to Rest) is an entertaining Alaskan investigative thriller. The story line is fast-paced from the moment the two Dana Stabenow’s prime series stars meet and never slows down as Kate, the lead protagonist in Restless In The grave, goes from one ice box to another.

Harriet Klausner

The Rope-Nevada Barr

The Rope

Nevada Barr

Minotaur, Jan 17 2012, $25.99

ISBN: 9780312614577

With the death of her spouse, a grieving Anna Pigeon leaves New York as everywhere she goes she remembers her beloved. The thirtyish widow accepts a seasonal ranger position at Glen Canyon National Recreation Area overlooking Lake Powell. She quickly realizes she is not accepted by the other rangers as the mourning outsider. The only exception is her roommate Jenny.

When Anna vanishes, none of her teammates blink as they assume she quit and went back east instead of hiking as she did. She awakens naked at the bottom of a deep dry canyon with no memory of how she ended up trapped inside this "jar”; only her head aches as if she has a concussion and an arm is dislocated from the apparent fall. Disoriented Anna realizes the only way out is through a ladder. Drinking water from a canteen, she falls asleep; when she awakens she knows she was drugged and that her adversary carved “whore” into her leg. A desperate Anna must find a way to escape her hellish natural prison and then search for her adversary.

The Rope is a prequel to the Anna Pigeon’s caseload that long time readers will enjoy but need to adapt to the heroine being a tyro ranger and an amateur sleuth battling her first national park psychopath (see Burn). The extremely dark storyline is fast-paced as Anna struggles with escaping her entombment before turning the situation into a cat and mouse war. The support cast especially her fellow rangers are a nasty lot with only Jenny possessing any redeeming qualities. Still series fans will relish this thriller, as out of her element Anna being Anna depends on one person in a survival of the fittest.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Walled Flower-Lorraine Bartlett

The Walled Flower

Lorraine Bartlett

Berkley, Feb 7 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780425246160

Near Rochester, New York in McKinlay Mill, without discussing it with his wife Katie, Chad Bonner bought ownership of the Artisans Alley craft fare. Soon afterward he died in a car crash leaving her stuck with a money guzzler and the death of her dream to renovate the Webster mansion into a B&B (see A Crafty Killing).

Katie visits Toby and Janice Ryan, who now own “her” mansion, which they are converting into a B&B. She asks if she can use their sledgehammer to smash a wall, which the couple agree to let her do. When Katie opens up a wall, they find female remains. Detective Ray Davenport leads the investigation into who buried Heather Winston inside that wall twenty-two years ago. However, Heather’s only living relative, septuagenarian Rose Nash pleads with Katie to help her solve the truth as both ladies know cantankerous Davenport will do nothing. Moving in ten days with no place to go to yet, seeing her boyfriend Andy Rust the pizza king sporadically and trying to be supportive matron of honor to bridezilla, Katie agrees to investigate.

This is an entertaining regional cozy as Katie and Rose work a cold case (Davenport led the missing person’s inquiry over two decades ago) that turns contemporary deadly with the murder of Heather’s childhood BFF Barbie. Although there is too much going on from the Artisans Alley disputes and friendships to the bride’s demands to the interesting romance and finally to the homicide with links to Hollywood, fans will still take pleasure with the second Victoria Square mystery as agreeable Katie who never says no never sleeps.

Harriet Klausner

Tribulations of the Short Cut Man-P.G. Sturges

Tribulations of the Short Cut Man

P.G. Sturges

Scribner, Feb 7 2012, $24.00

ISBN: 9781439194218

Thirtyish pole dancer Pussy Grace wonders why her boyfriend, wealthy septuagenarian Art Lewis cut her off without telling her; he refuses to accept her attempts to communicate with him. Pussy asks her former boyfriend Dick Henry to help her. Although he prefers to stay out of a domestic dispute as he works a similar case for a paying client, former Judge Harry Glidden turned TV celebrity commissioned a forged painting to give to his Honor’s acrimonious ex-wife.

Dick agrees to help her with her quest. He believes in taking the shortest route to a goal even though his paths often are illegal. This time The Shortcut Man and Puss dress up as gas company employees allegedly investigating a leak. This gains them entry to Lewis’ mansion, but they flee the scene when they find the murdered corpse of Art. Dick expects the LAPD cops to arrest him and Puss, but instead the news broadcasts that Art Lewis married and is on his honeymoon. Realizing Glidden and his girlfriend are pulling a scam to steal Lewis’ millions, Dick decides to intervene.

The super second Shortcut Man noir is a wild jocular ride into the sleaziest sections of Los Angeles; not all of the neighborhoods are in the Hood. Putting aside plausibility, P.G. Sturges provides a wonderful madcap thriller starring a hard boiled individual who plays all the angles including breaking the law (what’s a misdemeanor amongst friends) as he understands the shortest distance between two points is not necessarily a straight line as linearity can be deadly. Dick makes the tale work with his un-Sullivan like travels through the meanest streets of L.A.

Harriet Klausner

Catch Me-Lisa Gardner

Catch Me

Lisa Gardner

Dutton, Feb 7 2012, $26.95

ISBN: 9780525952763

Two years ago on January 21 at 8:00 PM with no forced entry, someone strangles Randi in Providence. Her two BFFs from their New Hampshire childhoods Jackie and Charlene mourn their loss. One year ago on January 21 at 8:00 PM with no forced entry, someone murders Jackie in Atlanta. Both cases remain cold as of January 17 this year.

Boston Sergeant Detective D. D. Warren has just returned to work after ten weeks on maternity leave with the birth of Jack, who she believes inherited her insomnia. She is cranky not due to Jack but because her Florida parents are coming to see their grandson; Warren prefers they stay home. Charlie is at Warren’s latest crime scene when the detective notices and confronts her. The woman explains that in four days she will be dead, but she refuses to die without a fight; if the predator succeeds she wants a top Boston homicide cop like Warren to investigate her homicide. While inquiring into the Charlie case, Warren also searches for an avenger killing pedophiles.

The latest Warren police procedural (see Love You More, Who Do You Love? and The Neighbor) is a great twisting psychological thriller. The protagonist has her hands filled with her newborn and two difficult convoluted cases while she is mentally struggling to regain her workaholic pit bull tendencies. Fans will immensely enjoy this taut strong suspense tale.

Harriet Klausner

Dark Side of Valor-Alicia Singleton

Dark Side of Valor

Alicia Singleton

Atria/Strebor, Feb 7 2012, $15.00

ISBN 9781593093853

Lelia Freeman was raised in neglect by an alcoholic single mom, who had a parade of men enter their dumpy apartment. When she turned sixteen, Lelia had enough and ran away from home to live on the mean streets of Los Angeles. Although not easy she kept herself clean of drugs and prostitution. Centenarian Ma Ella and her friends at her church take Lelia off the street providing the teen with sustenance for her body, mind and soul.

Lelia feels strongly the best way to pay homage to those who saved her life was to become a rescuer of runaways. Thus Lelia becomes the director of ChildSafe Shelters. Successful and prominent, Lelia joins a Washington task force looking into the orphans of war in the African nation of Sudania. However, this assignment proves dangerous when Sudania president Mawein Boll Deng makes her his prisoner. Mercenary Elijah Dune is the best bet to rescue the rescuer, but he carries the baggage of her one failed mission, his daughter.

This is an exciting romantic suspense starring two people connected by their love for his daughter and their guilt over their failure to protect his child. The story line is fast-paced with the East African war torn background vividly horrifying. Although there is too much stereotyping especially of the people of Sudania, fans will enjoy the Dark Side of Valor; wondering whether the angry lead male will risk his life to save the woman he holds culpable for what happened to his daughter.

Harriet Klausner

Buried In A Book-Lucy Arlington

Buried In A Book

Lucy Arlington

Berkley, Feb 7 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780425246191

After twenty years as a Features reporter at the Dunstan Herald, forty-five year old Lila Wilkins is pink slipped due to budget cuts. In a near panic state, the single mom worries about paying for her son Trey entering UNC Wilmington as a freshman. Desperate she answers an ad for an intern at A Novel Idea Literary Agency. Following a five minute telephone interview, Ms. Bentley Burlington-Duke hires Lila who thinks her new job will prove perfect as being paid to read sounds like nirvana.

Reality of an office setting is not quite like Lila expected as her peers are an eccentric zany group and the tons of query letters requiring responses appears to be more than Santa receives for Christmas. She classifies her first two queries, but is taken aback by a threatening letter demanding the return of a manuscript. However, all that proves to be minor distractions compared to the visit of homeless wannabe writer Marlette who gives her wild flowers; because a few minutes after he introduces himself to her she meets him again in the coffee area dead. With Trey and her mom having her back, Lila and Sean the sexy cop investigate Marlette’s murder and the threatening letters.

This is a terrific Novel Idea Mystery with its contemporary literary crowd mingling with residents of a small North Carolina town. The charming protagonist keeps the madcap plot focused while the quirky support cast enhances the regional cozy. Readers will enjoy being Buried In A Book in which Lila stars as Lucy Arlington provides an entertaining thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, December 16, 2011

A Catered St. Patrick’s Day-Isis Crawford

A Catered St. Patrick’s Day

Isis Crawford

Kensington, Jan 31 2012, $24.00

ISBN 9780758247407

In Longely, New York, sisters Bernie and Libby Simmons, owners of A Little Taste of Heaven catering business, prepare for the festive. Patrick’s Day holiday. Their baking is interrupted when a frantic Brandon, Bernie’s boyfriend, calls to beg them immediately come to RJ’s bar, which he runs. The siblings drop what they are doing to race over to calm down a distraught Brandon.

At the bar, Brandon shows the sisters the corpse of Mike Sweeney floating dead in a keg of green beer. Mike and his Corned Beef and Cabbage Club comrades had met earlier at RJ’s. Bar owner Mulroney insists an accident should not deter business on a busy holiday. Although it appears to be a tragic accident caused by intoxication, the police chief Lucas “Lucy” (detractors’ nickname) Broadbent arrests Corned Beef and Cabbage Club member Duncan, nephew of realtor Bree Nottingham two weeks later. Bree knows that Bernie and Libby have solved murder cases (see A Catered Thanksgiving) so she asks the bakers to investigate.

The latest Mystery with recipes is a wonderful holiday culinary amateur sleuth (see A Catered Birthday Party and A Catered Halloween). The lead sisters and their dad Sean focus on the club membership but soon expand their inquiry. Fans will enjoy this family affair cozy that once again angers Lucy who is tired of the sleuth sisters solving homicides that leave him embarrassed.

Harriet Klausner

Desert Wind-Betty Webb

Desert Wind

Betty Webb

Poisoned Pen, Feb 7 2012, $24.95

ISBN 9781590589816

Pima Indian Jimmy Sisiwan, a private investigator, heads home to Walapai Flats, Arizona to be there for his adopted brother, Ted Olmstead, whose wife Kimama the activist founder of Victims of Uranium Mining was recently murdered. The local police hold Ted; they believe, in retaliation to his wife’s murder, he killed public relations specialist Ike Donohue, who represented mining interests with the planned opening of the Black Basin Uranium Mine. Roger Tosches, owner of the mine, has a sordid history as he managed another uranium facility, which caused the cancerous deaths of many and poisoned the Navaho reservation where this mine was located.

The police arrest Jimmy as a material witness to the Donahue homicide. His partner in Desert Investigations Lena Jones arrives at the scene to help Jimmy and his extended family. She soon finds links to the 1954 Wayne film The Conqueror while learning the truth about an organization like the government (at all levels) protecting itself from the scandal of the impact of aboveground atomic bomb testing on Downwinders back in the 1950s.

This is an exciting timely Desert thriller (see Desert Lost).in which author Betty Webb provides insight into why officials prefer potential crimes that would embarrass the organization if surfaced to remain interred without justice. Whether it is Penn State or the Atomic Energy Commission and even with Wayne and much of the film crew dying from cancer yet hardly a blink from leaders. Jones is at her best with this inquiry that is fast-paced as the sleuth and readers learn a lot about whose rights are defended and whose are nuked away under the concept of sovereign immunity as the “king can do no wrong.”

Harriet Klausner

Sticks and Stones-K.J. Larsen

Sticks and Stones

K.J. Larsen

Poisoned Pen, Feb 7 2012, $24.95

ISBN 9781590589236

Cleo Jones files for divorce from her cheating spouse Walter who was caught in a tryst with her sister Hotlip the Ho. She shot her husband in the butt with buckshot; while he took her Tibetan terrier Beau, her money and of course her sibling when he went aground.

After previously hiring Chicago-based Pants on Fire Detective Agency private investigator Caterina DeLuca to find who Walter cheated with, Cleo joins Cat to hunt down the cheater in order to regain her dog and what is left of her money. Cat and Cleo enter the suburban house where Walter has hidden. Instead of confronting the felonious blackmailing rat, they find him dead; his body warm. The police arrive at the scene in time to arrest Cleo for murdering her estranged husband. Cat investigates with the help of her FBI agent lover Chance Savino and some friends while concealing Cleo who is out on bail.

The latest DeLuca private investigative tale (see Liar, Liar) is a zany (not the Gingrich variety of zany) jocular thriller. The case against Cleo is a staple of the genre, but the eccentric cast brings an amusing freshness to the mix. Readers will enjoy DeLuca’s second case as the Larsen sisterhood provides an amusing whodunit.

Harriet Klausner

A Jerusalem Mystery-Frederick Ramsay

A Jerusalem Mystery

Frederick Ramsay

Poisoned Pen, Feb 7 2012, $14.95

ISBN 9780967759050

In 28 CE, Jerusalem celebrates Feast of Tabernacles. King Herod Antipas celebrates the holiday with the Roman Prefect Pontius Pilate joining the festivities, which are somewhat abated by the recent vicious murder of John the Baptizer.

However, a woman is stabbed to death in Herod’s palace; the murder weapon belongs to the king’s companion Menahem. Pilate wants to insure a proper investigation occurs this time as he distrusts the Hebrew ruler to do so with who the prime suspect is. He needs someone acceptable by the people who will seek the truth. The Prefect orders Rabban Gamaliel to investigate the palace homicide over the objection of the rabbi who believes he lacks the detective skill set. With assistance from loyal Loukas, the rabbi after a fumbling start begins to uncover the truth starting with who the dead Salome-like “servant” was.

The second biblical era Jerusalem thriller (see Judas the Gospel of Betrayal) is a great ancient historical investigative thriller that brilliantly combines a strong whodunit with the use real figures like Pilate; while also tying key Roman Empire era persona intriguingly to the New Testament. The inquiry by Gamaliel and Loukas is top rate, while Rabbi Jesus of Nazareth remains in the background as an irritant to High Priest Caiaphas.

Harriet Klausner

Agent 6-Tom Rob Smith

Agent 6

Tom Rob Smith

Grand Central, Jan 5 2012, $25.99

ISBN: 9780446550765

In 1950, American singer Jesse Austin arrives in Moscow. A devout Communist, Jesse comes to perform. While Jesse sings on stage; intoxicated angry MGB agent Grigori heads towards the performer. Bitter over the official abduction of his beloved, Grigori causes an embarrassing incident.

In 1965 Moscow, former KGB operative Leo Demidov becomes suspicious when his wife Raisa and their daughters (Zoya and Elena) are added to a contingency heading on a peace mission to New York City to reduce Cold War tension; he is refused passage with his family. Tragedy strikes in America leaving helpless Leo irate and grieving back in Moscow. Fifteen years ago when his protégé Grigori interrupted Austin’s show, Leo vowed to protect Raisa. Thus he demands the right to find the perpetrator who destroyed his family and consequently his mind. The party leadership says no so Leo goes rogue, but his inquiry takes decades as he travels the world to try to locate Agent 6 who knows the truth of what happened in Manhattan in 1965.

The third Demidov Soviet Union thriller (see The Secret Speech and Child 44) is a great historical that deeply focuses on the impact of almost anyone even a former operative by a totalitarian state with a deadly secret police. Demidov’s journey is grim as he understands that all governemnts protect the State not the indivudals; only the Soviet regimes are much harsher in execution.

Harriet Klausner

The Confession-Charles Todd

The Confession

Charles Todd

Morrow Jan 23 2012, $25.99

ISBN: 9780062015662

In 1920 at Scotland Yard, Wyatt Russell confesses to killing his cousin Justin Fowler. Inspector Ian Rutledge has some concerns with the confession as the alleged culprit refuses to provide him with a motive as to why he murdered his relative five years ago. To learn more Ian meets Wyatt, dying of cancer, for lunch, but the latter adds nothing of value to his insistence he committed a homicide in the remote Essex marches.

Following up on the limited leads Russell provided him, Rutledge travels from London to the alleged locale of the murder, but the insular locals refuse to speak with the outsider. Meanwhile Russell’s body is found floating on the Thames; someone shot him in the back of the head, but the now hot case spins further into the illogical zone when Rutledge learns the dead confessor was not Wyatt Russell.

The latest Rutledge post WWI police procedural (see The Red Door and A Lonely Death) is a great investigation as the case keeps twisting out of control with every major find the inspector obtains. Rutledge remains shell shocked by his execution of Hamish MacLeod for refusing a direct order on the French battlefield; the latter “speaks” to the former accentuating Rutledge’s fears especially of being caught by his superiors as mentally damaged. This is a great entry in a strong historical series.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Compassion of Father Dowling-Ralph McInerny

The Compassion of Father Dowling

Ralph McInerny

Five Star, Dec 16 2011, $25.95

ISBN 9781432825102

The latest Father Roger Dowling short story collection (see The Wisdom of Father Dowling) contains sixteen entertaining mysteries in Fox River, Illinois. Most of the contributions were previously printed in the Catholic Dossier; twelve of the entries were printed in the 1990s while the other four between 2000 and 2002. The anthology begins with “Occult Compensation” as someone leaves a suitcase filled with cash at Father Dowling’s St. Hilary. Harriet and Leo are to marry at St. Hillary but is ready to convert to Catholicism or pay any cost as Earl wants her as his wife in “The Base of the Triangle”. Harry the derelict works hard at the parish, but soon becomes embroiled in what happened to “The Missing Leonardo.” This is a fine compilation as no one will think of Bingo in the same way while paying homage to the late Ralph McInerny who dies last January.

Harriet Klausner

Murder in Argelès-D-L Nelson

Murder in Argelès

D-L Nelson

Five Star, Dec 16 2011, $25.95

ISBN 9781432825515

Thirtyish American expatriate technical writer Annie Young completes a business trip in Zurich. Afterward she returns to her apartment in Argelès-sur-mer, France. Following her coming home, Annie goes to see her friend Père Yves to discuss the research he is doing in Rennes-le-Chateau, but instead she finds his dead body on his church floor.

Annie calls the police though that means dealing with her former boyfriend, Chief Roger Perrin. He accompanies Annie back to the church, but there is no body to be found. His staff believes she placed a false alarm to see Roger, but the police chief knows Annie would never do that as he wants her back not the other way around; and besides there is blood on a broken statue. Thus he assigns his staff to find the missing corpse.

The latest “Third Culture Kid” whodunit (see Murder in Caleb’s Landing) is an engaging mystery starring a wonderful TCK heroine. The D-Lightful story line deftly merges the investigation with historical tidbits. Roger is a terrific cop who wants a second chance with Annie while his daughter encourages him. Readers will enjoy this exciting thriller starring an American in Argelès.

Harriet Klausner

The Perfect Death-James Andrus

The Perfect Death

James Andrus

Pinnacle, Feb 1 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780786027699

He calls himself Buddy and considers himself an artist whose milieu being glass so that his models live forever. He also does repairs to pay his bills and find his subjects. With his angelic looks and gentle demeanor, women hire him feeling safe with him. However, Buddy obsesses over completing his masterpiece. To do so he strangles selected females and captures their last grasp of breath inside a glass container customized for that chosen one.

Jacksonville police failed to realize they have a serial killer hunting their citizens. Detectives John Stallings and Patty Levine work the case of missing teenage Leah Tischler that reminds him of his daughter who vanished three years ago when she was sixteen years old Jeanie. When the corpse of a female strangled with Leah’s belt is found at a construction site and another body is found in a children’s playground, the JPD conclude a serial killer stalks the city. Obsessing Stallings is determined capture this psychopath ASAP, but knows that it will take a lot of luck to find this man who blends so well when in society.

The third Stallings Jacksonville serial killer thriller (see The Perfect Woman and The Perfect Prey) is a super serial killer investigation. Stallings knows time has run out for the next victim and though he feels helpless to prevent her death, he refuses to quit. He and his Jacksonville Sheriff’s Department Missing Persons partner Levine are dedicated, diligent detectives who never give up once on a case though his hope to recover Jeanie ebbs and flows with his official workload. Faster than the speed of light, James Andrus provides an exciting tale as “art” steals life.

Harriet Klausner

The Third Coincidence-David Bishop

The Third Coincidence

David Bishop

Oceanview, Feb 6 2012, $25.95

ISBN: 9781608090341

The killer, calling himself Commander LW, assassinates Supreme Court Justices Adam Monroe with poison and Herbert Clarkson by slicing his throat; the predator has also arranged the “accidental” death of Federal Reserve Board governor J.T. Santee driving too fast in the Poconos. The FBI and other law enforcement make no progress in bringing the terrorist to justice. With the media in a feeding frenzy and the public demanding action, President Samuel Schroeder knows the label of incompetence is tearing down his Administration while more kills are expected from the leader of the of the American Militia to Restore Representative Government.

President Schroeder directs CIA agent Jack McCall to lead a multi-agency task force to locate these terrorists. The FBI assigns Special Agent Rachel Johnstone to the team. McCall and Johnstone share a personal history, but both insist they can work together as each understands the mission is to take down L.W. before this Commander takes down other government officials.

This is an exciting action-packed thriller that grips readers with the opening assassinations and never slows down until the final confrontation though there is a somewhat repetitiveness feel to the cat and mouse storyline. A romantic subplot seems a forced requirement, but fans will enjoy the heroics of Jack and Rachel as they play chess against a homegrown terrorist or more.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

No Mark Upon Her-Deborah Crombie

No Mark Upon Her

Deborah Crombie

Morrow, Feb 7 2012, $25.99

ISBN: 9780061990618

Metropolitan Police detective chief inspector Rebecca Meredith trains for the Olympics in rowing. However, she drowns while training at night on the Thames in Henley. Although her police peers assume a horrible accident occurred, the circumstances require an official inquiry.

Newlyweds Scotland Yard Superintendent Duncan Kincaid and Detective Inspector Gemma James Kincaid lead the investigation. They quickly conclude Meredith’s death was a homicide. The Kincaid pair looks into the activities of family, friends, and rowing and police associates. Their focus narrows down to the victim’s former spouse, a K9 handler, her rowing coach, and a Deputy Assistant Commissioner; of whom the latter accused of raping her.

The latest Kincaid and James-Kincaid British police procedural (see Necessary as Blood and Kiss A Sad Goodbye) is a terrific entry that looks closely into an investigation in which a high ranking cop is a prime suspect. The storyline provides readers with a tour of London not seen by tourists. However, it is the contrast between the untidy contented marriage merger of two extended families, and the untidy discontented murder mystery that will remind readers of the final split scene in the Cagney version of Public Enemy.

Harriet Klausner

File M for Murder-Miranda James

File M for Murder

Miranda James

Berkley, Jan 31 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780425246184

Renowned playwright Connor Lawton returns home to Athena, Mississippi to teach for two semesters as a writer in residence at Athena College. He is an acerbic individual whose boorish behavior angers school archivist and rare book cataloguer widower Charlie Harris. However, Connor helped bring home Charlie’s daughter Laura, a Hollywood actress, who teaches drama while the professor is on maternity leave.

Connor makes it clear he wants his former fiancée Laura back in his life while another female Damitra Vane makes it clear she wants him back in her life. After alienating everyone including Diesel the Maine coon cat, someone murders Connor. Athena County’s Sheriff Department Chief Deputy Berry investigates the homicide. Laura is a prime suspect as she found the corpse and stole a thumb drive from the crime scene. With her brother Sean, her father and the cat trying to protect her from an adversary’s dangerous assaults, the clues to the author’s murder lies on the thumb drive, if the Harris family can figure what they mean.

The latest A Cat In The Stacks mystery (see Murder Past Due) is an engaging regional cozy in which the murder occurs off page about a quarter of the way into the whodunit. The leisurely paced storyline is fun to follow as someone wants to insure that the secret that Connor uncovered remains interred with him. Mindful of Alexander McCall Smith’s Corduroy Mansions though a different setting, fans will enjoy this tale of the Harris family that sleuths together stays together.

Harriet Klausner

Defending Jacob-William Landay

Defending Jacob

William Landay

Delacorte, Jan 31 2012, $26.00

ISBN: 9780385344227

For twenty-two years, Andy Barber worked in the Middlesex County, Massachusetts Office of the District Attorney. By 2007, he had become the first assistant district attorney reporting only to DA Lynn Canavan. However, in April 2007, CPAC State Police report the stabbing murder of Ben Rifkin, a Newton middle school classmate of Andy’s son Jacob. Because a child is involved, which denotes media frenzy, Andy takes the lead as first prosecutor.

However, he soon finds himself in a conflict of interest when the local police arrest Jacob. Stunned by the accusation, Andy and his wife Laurie deny their child would commit a murder as each assumes some psychopathic child molester is the guilty party. Jacob swears he is innocent and both believe him though the evidence overwhelmingly makes it clear that their child killed a classmate. Andy and Laurie struggle between saving their offspring and accepting what appears to be the horrifying truth especially with other questionable deaths while his protégé Neil Loguidice takes over the case.

This is taut legal thriller that grips the reader from the opening Grand Jury testimony to the stunning out of control climax. This is a fast-paced yet extremely cerebral tale with a profound look at the conflict between what happened and justice the American way. Readers will relish this tale as Andy, by Defending Jacob, learns that death may be a better option than the truth about himself and his loved ones.

Harriet Klausner

Not in the Heart-Chris Fabry

Not in the Heart

Chris Fabry

Tyndale, Feb 1 2012, $13.99

ISBN: 9781414348612

Unemployed reporter Truman Wiley used to cover the world; now he cannot cover his family. Whereas he wanted a car, his estranged wife Ellen wanted Jesus. Now he is on Sanibel Island alone while she is in Tallahassee with their two children (Abigail and Aiden who soon will die without a heart transplant) and the Lord. Truman cannot deal with seeing his son so ill in a hospital; while he turned away Ellen turned to Jesus praying for a miracle.

Ellen offers Truman a chance to reconcile with his family. Death row inmate Terrelle Conley has offered his heart to Aiden. However, he also wants Truman to tell his story. With Abigail working with him, Truman feels pretty good about the future until an inconvenient truth arises that places him in the crosshairs of a moral dilemma.

Although readers will guess relatively early what is about to happen, this is a great thriller starring a morally bankrupt individual who has lost confidence in himself and that of his loved ones while having given up on Jesus as a waste of his time. Filled with plenty of action and several entertaining twists, yet character driven, readers will relish this sensational soul searching suspense.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Scrapbooks of Secrets-Mollie Cox Bryan

Scrapbooks of Secrets

Mollie Cox Bryan

Kensington, Feb 7 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780758266316

Her very active sons, Ben and Sam, led to Annie Chemovitz quitting her job as an investigative reporter at a Washington paper with the support of her husband Mike. The Chemovitz quartet relocates to Cumberland Creek, Virginia where she becomes a stay-at-home mom. The town’s southern friendly residents make Annie feel good about their choices although she misses the excitement of her previous occupation. She especially likes spending time with a group of scrapbookers.

The rustic tranquility of the town is shattered with the death of Maggie Rae Dasher, a mother of four small children and a closet scrapbooker in what looks like a suicide, but the evidence affirms a homicide occurred. That same day at the supermarket, someone puts a knife into the neck of the mother of scrapbooker Vera; the woman does not even feel the blade, but is rushed to the hospital where a doctor removes the protruding weapon. Annie and her crop circle scrapbookers find pictures and other mementos belonging to Maggie Rae dumped outside the victim’s home, they take their find with them. The group realizes Maggie Rae was into S&M with secret lovers. One of them is likely the killer so Annie dusting off her previous investigative skills looks into the murder of the mother.

Cozy fans are going to love this fast-paced Cumberland Creek Mystery due to strong characterizations that bring a sense of place to the entertaining storyline. Although the cops’ failure to find the Maggie Rae mother lode seems off, rotating third person perspective between three scrappy scrapsters, Mollie Cox Bryan provides an engaging regional whodunit. This new series look to be spectacular.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, December 12, 2011

Send My Love and a Molotov Cocktail!: Stories of Crime, Love and Rebellion-Edited by Gary Phillips and Andrea Gibbons

Send My Love and a Molotov Cocktail!: Stories of Crime, Love and Rebellion

Edited by Gary Phillips and Andrea Gibbons

PM Press, Nov 2 2011, $19.95

ISBN: 9781604860962

This eighteen story anthology pulls no punches or switchblades as the compilation focuses on rebellion by rebels with and without a cause. Fifteen of the entries are new while one of the reprints is actually a first time translation into English (“Bizco’s Memories” by Paco Ignacio Talbo II starring soccer played under the underground convict rules of a prison). The other previously published contributions, “Gold Diggers of 1977” by Michael Moorcock is one of the Cornelius tales looking at the Sex Pistols mythos (may not survive the test of time), and “I Love Paree” by Cory Doctorow and Michael Skeet in which Old Paree is in trouble due to the foreign invasion. In “Nickels and Dimes” by John A Imani, riots come to UCLA in 1972 but not daring to disturb the Wooden NCAA run. Kim Stanley Robinson looks at a slave revolt on the moon in “The Lunatics.” In “Murder … Then and Now” by Penny Micklebury, he claims to be X at the Black Student Union. This is a gripping timely collection in which people past and present across the spectrum rebel against those they believe are their oppressors.

Harriet Klausner

Death Drops-Chrystle Fielder

Death Drops

Chrystle Fielder

Gallery/Pocket, Feb 21 2012, $15.00

ISBN: 9781451643602

Los Angels based Naturopathic Dr. Willow McQuade has come home to Greenport, Long Island to spend time with her beloved sexagenarian Aunt Claire Hagan. The late twenties doctor helps her master herbalist aunt at the latter’s Nature’s Way Market and café. Willow is somewhat estranged with her mom Daisy who insists her practice is quackery and her sister is “the real doctor” Natasha who live nearby.

After walking in the nearby Nature Conservancy Preserve, Willow comes home to find Claire dead. She apparently took a poison placed inside her bottle of Mimulus. Claire’s assistant Janice Dorian accuses Willow of murdering her aunt in front of the lead detectives Koren and Coyle. When she inherits her aunt’s establishment, the cops suspect her even more so as she has motive. Willow thinks the homicide is related to her aunt’s missing top secret natural anti aging Fresh Face formula. With former cop Jackson Spade, who is on disability due to a back injury, helping her investigate, Willow searches for the missing elixir while someone sabotages the business and a killer tries to murder her.

This is an engaging investigative thriller held together by the intriguing dedicated Willow. Each chapter begins with the N.D. providing homeopathic advice to clients; there are also other tips Willow gives woven into the storyline, but people too easily accept her natural medical guidance. Still this Natural Remedies mystery is an enjoyable whodunit as the star is Willow’s health tips.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Black Pawn-Michael Gerhardt

Black Pawn

Michael Gerhardt

Lulu, Nov 20 2011, $19.95

ISBN: 9781257975686

In April 1980 Liberia Sister Marie Claude runs the St. Antony’s Orphanage filled with many Bassa children. Sister Marie knows she has come a long way from her Brussels home, but feels she is doing God’s work helping these displaced kids. Kru tribesmen arrive and open fire killing children and Sister Marie.

In 2013 at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Judge Klaus Pfand assigns the Investigator’s Branch to look into the 1980 Liberian massacre seeking those who financed the bloody coup against the brutal Americo-Liberians regime. Chief Investigator Mauston knows this is a futile assignment, but has no choice as the judges choose the mission. Marstan heard Pfand’s sister was raped and murdered while working at an orphanage in 1980; so he concludes this one is personal. Marstan selects Dominique Perdu as the World Court’s special field investigator. Domi knows with Taylor having been tried no one in the international community will care about her probe, but she has a personal stake in what happened in 1980. In Monrovia and the tribal villages, Domi uncovers the causes behind the historical violence between tribes. However, she miscalculates that no one will care; as the vigililant CIA is on alert observing her progress; their mantra is the truth will set you dead.

Black pawn is refreshing unique tale that uses a thriller storyline to tell the tragic history of Liberia with a focus on the 1980s and 1990s. Fast-paced, readers except those non-apologist super-patriots quoting Stephen Decatur’s “Our Country! In her intercourse with foreign nations may she always be in the right; but right or wrong, our country!” will appreciate Michael Gerhardt’s exhilarating insightful thriller as Liberia is the prime character.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Vigilante-Stephen J. Cannell


Stephen J. Cannell

St. Martin’s, Dec 6 2011, $25.99

ISBN: 9780312646110

Someone murders activist Lita Mendez. LAPD Detectives Shane Scully and Sumner Hitchens lead the inquiry. However their biggest fear is that one of their peers killed the police critic.

“Vigilante TV” reality show host Nixon Nash and his crew arrive at the murder scene. On his show, Nash solves homicides before the cops can. His plan is to do so with the highly visible Mendez case. He gives the two cops the choice of joining his inquiry or look like fools on TV. Scully knows his opponent has no scruples nor tied by the law and procedurals; he also believes Nash would have the two detectives murdered if they seem on the verge of solving the homicide before him.

The latest Scully police procedural (see The Prostitutes’ Ball) is a tense thriller that grips readers from the onset and never lets the audience go until the final denouement. The story line is fast-paced and though the ending is anticipated early, fans will relish the exciting competing investigations. Stephen J. Cannell, who died last year pays homage to himself as a successful writer and TV producer with his mantra (that only he could affirm) that justice and the law mean nothing when the media especially TV are involved.

Harriet Klausner

Believing the Lie-Elizabeth George

Believing the Lie

Elizabeth George

Dutton, Jan 10 2012, $28.95

ISBN: 9780525952589

The police look into the drowning death of Ian Cresswell and rule he died accidentally. Although not one iota of counter evidence exists to hint at foul play, Ian’s affluent aristocrat Uncle Bernard Fairclough demands Scotland Yard Detective Inspector Thomas Lynley serendipitously investigate the death of his nephew.

With his friends Simon and Deborah St. James and with some of his staff like Detective Sergeant Barbara Havers, Lynley begins to find oddities in the death and with the extended family of the victim. The DI realizes Ian’s ex wife and abandoned son remain angry at him even in death as he dumped them for a man. However, the prime suspect is Bernard's son recovering drug addict Nicholas, but the industrialist who recruited him also remains as a potential killer of his nephew.

The latest Lynley police procedural (see This Body of Death) is an exciting tale that looks deep into the souls of the investigators, the victim and the family members in a convoluted case involving addiction, gay marriage, and sexual psychopaths as image supersedes substance. Although readers will know the climax relatively early, Believing the Lie is an engaging mystery as even the family believes the lies they tell one another to rationalize aberrant behavior.

Harriet Klausner

Taken-Robert Crais


Robert Crais

Putnam, Jan 24 2012, $26.95

ISBN: 9780399158278

Jack Bermon and Krista Morales are in California’s Anza-Borrego Desert enjoying each other’s company when people arrive. One of them points his shotgun at Jack.

Soon afterward, Krista’s mom Nita receives a call demanding ransom money for the safe return of her daughter. The affluent Nita believes her offspring is pulling a ploy to obtain money to finance her running off with “that boy”. She hires Elvis Cole to bring her normally intelligent daughter home. Elvis and his partner Joe Pike begin the search, but soon realize mom is deadly wrong re her assertion as they find blood and bullets in the desert. The investigators know that, if either of the pair still lives, lethal Bajadoreshave gangsters have taken Krista and Jack prisoner; payment not met means death in the desert. Cole goes undercover to infiltrate the kidnappers, but he vanishes leaving Pike to find his partner before he is either sold or killed.

This heart pumping thriller starts off at hyperspeed and never slows down until the final confrontation. The heroes to include Jack are heroic trying to insure Krista’s safety; while the villains are vile as they murder and kidnap people. Cole and Pike are terrific as always (see The First Rule) in this strong suspense thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, December 9, 2011

Defy The World Tomatoes-Phoebe Conn

Defy The World Tomatoes

Phoebe Conn

Samhain, Oct 4 2011, $16.00

ISBN: 9781609282943

On the California coast, internationally reknowned classical pianist Griffin Moore enters the Defy The World Tomatoes Nursery seeking to speak with the male landscape architect. Darcy MacLeod forgives his chauvinism as she needs the client. He explains he just purchased the old Hadley Place on exclusive Ridgecrest which winds around the mountainous slopes overlooking Monarch Bay. Griffin wants a Zen Garden overlooking the sea.

However, once she completes that task, Griffin creates jobs for Darcy to have her around. Darcy feels the same way as these seemingly opposites are attracted to one another. As Texas dirt and Georgia tuxedo fall in love, she has one qualm about him, his dangerous work for Interpol.

This is a terrific character driven romance between two fascinating obstinate protagonists. Although seemingly having nothing in common except their love, both are stubborn, hide feelings and are steadfast; ironically at times that resolve makes each unlikable for the moment but realistic. Darcy’s partner Christy adds much Joy to the mix as a single parent raising her young daughter while fending off her odious affluent ex blackmail threats of a full custody suit. With some suspense from his other occupation, fans will enjoy touring the Monarch Bay area with Griffin and Darcy as our tour guides.

Harriet Klausner

Breach of Trust-David Ellis

Breach of Trust

David Ellis

Berkley, Jan 3 2012, $9.99

ISBN: 9780425245866

The night of infamy in 2007 left former Chicago prosecutor Jason Kolarich no better than a living corpse. Working for his client State Senator Hector Alundo charged with killing Adalbert Wozniak; Shaker, Riley and Flemming firm attorney Kolarich had been with private investor Joel Lightner that night. They were meeting with informant Ernesto Ramirez when his wife Talia and their newborn daughter Emily died in a car accident in which he failed to be there for them. Ironically, Ramirez also died that night; though he was a murder victim.

Feeling guilt for choosing his client over his family, Kolarich decides to investigate the homicide of the informant. As he digs deeper into the muddy case that ties state politicians with gangbangers, the FBI recruits him to help them investigate the governor as ironically he is now the informant.

The super second Jason Kolarich political thriller (see The Hidden Man) is a terrific timely tale with the recent sentencing of Blagojevich bringing the authenticity to the mix. Fast-paced in and out of the courtroom, Kolarich makes the taut storyline work as he swims in political toxic waste.

Harriet Klausner

Plan Bee-Hannah Reed

Plan Bee

Hannah Reed

Berkley, Jan 3 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780425246214

Residents of Moraine, Wisconsin's enjoy the annual Harmony Festival. Meanwhile Wild Glover grocer Story Fischer would do too but she receives another lecture from her mom re her beehives. Her sister Holly says the bees have turned her into talking in text language; Story thinks this is the usual Fischer family blame lame game until her sibling says JK.

“Pity Party” Patti and Dinky the dog lead Story to the Church Cemetery. There she finds a corpse. Story calls the police; Johnny Jay arrives but the corpse is gone as if it got up and walked away. Patti and Story search for the body. The former notices activity inside the home of Story’s ex-husband Clay. They meet a weekend renter. Soon afterward they find him stuffed in the chimney; the dead victim is the estranged brother of Tom Stocke, the boyfriend of Story’s mom.

The latest Queen Bee Mystery (see Mind Your Own Beeswax and Buzz Off) is an entertaining amateur sleuth mystery starring a fascinating protagonist whose amusing asides about family and friends make for a jocular small-town tale. The breezy story line follows the adventures of Patti and Story, who investigate the homicide as neither trusts incompetent JJ with a bee up his butt. Although an amateur sleuth tripping over a body is a sub-genre overused staple, fans will enjoy the dynamic duo work Plan Bee in the case of the murdered sibling.

Harriet Klausner

Old Haunts-E.J. Cooperman

Old Haunts

E.J. Cooperman

Berkley, Feb 7 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780425246207

Following her divorce from her husband Steven Randall, who she called the “Swine”, Alison Kerby and their ten year old daughter Melissa move to 123 Seafront Avenue. Rumors abound that this Jersey Shore place is haunted but Alison ignores them until after she and her offspring occupy the house.

Confined to her new residence are two sad ghosts, Maxie and Paul. The former wants to know who murdered her ex husband; and the latter misses his beloved. The two living females and Melissa’s grandmother can see the spirits as they are ghost whisperers. Paul asks Alison to learn how the woman he was about to propose to when he died is doing; Maxie pleads with her to find out who murdered her husband of four days Robert. His bones are uncovered at Seaside Heights after being interred for years. Meanwhile the Swine arrives to visit his daughter; Alison knows the pig has an ulterior motive so expects crap. Meanwhile the police arrest Maxie’s mother for the murder of Robert; the grieving ghost asks Alison to uncover the real killer.

The third Haunted Guesthouse paranormal mystery (see An Uninvited Ghost and Night of the Living Deed) is an entertaining and spellbinding tale in which the ghosts come across as real as each brings melancholy and humor. Alison is overwhelmed with so many in need of her help; she tries to her best though at the moment in her personal life she would prefer peace, which ironically the living Swine is the one to nuke it. Readers will enjoy Old Haunts as the supermom relocates, raises her daughter and handles the requests of her ghostly tenants while wishing a live-buster would lock the swine in a pen on the West Coast.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Immortalists-Kyle Mills

The Immortalists

Kyle Mills

Thomas & Mercer, Dec 6 2011, $24.95

ISBN: 9781612182162

Although highly respected within his community, but poorly funded, microbiologist Dr. Richard Draman desperately seeks a cure for progeria, a genetic disorder that causes premature aging and early death; his daughter Susie suffers from this horrific disorder.

However, Richard and his wife Carly know time has just about run out on their now eight year old child Susie. His dream of discovering a miracle has faded until he obtains the data of suicide victim Dr. Annette Chevalier whose research into the "fundamental structures of life" has given Richard new hope that her work has given him the key to immortality and a cure for his daughter. However, as he performs follow-up work, Richard feels paranoid that someone powerful wants to shut him down as he believes this adversary did to Annette. With no one to turn to as this powerful enemy controls the societal strings as only the one billionth of one percent can do including getting Richard accused of intellectual theft, the Draman family flees seeking allies.

This is an exciting fast-paced medical thriller filled with action as affluent rivals groups vie for control of the research of Chevalier and Draman. Loaded with conspiratorial action, but lacking any insight into ethics or logistical impacts of immortality; fans who enjoy an action-packed tale will want to join the Draman family on the lam.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Dead And Not So Buried-James L. Conway

Dead And Not So Buried

James L. Conway

Camel, Feb 15 2012, $15.95

ISBN: 9781603818667

Someone steals the remains of 1960s Hollywood “It” icon Christine Cole from her gravesite at Westside Cemetery in Brentwood. The funeral director Alex Snyder asks to see former cop Gideon Kincaid. When the private investigator arrives he is greeted by a gun. Alex shows a bewildered Gideon the ransom note demanding $2 million in hundred dollar bills to be delivered by Gideon. The sleuth goes to the drop off site only to have the felon hijack his car with the money inside. The thief calls Gideon with the location of his car that contains bones inside the trunk that are not Cole.

A mystery writer, Gideon remembers a novel by TV producer Barry Winslow with the same plot. He visits Winslow who offers no information, but later asks Gideon to see him at his penthouse. He is just outside when Winslow falls from his balcony. Gideon runs upstairs just before two hardnosed cops, his ex wife Stacey Wilson and her partner Piccolo, arrive.

The killer, failed actor Roy Cooper, steals Jennifer the poodle from producer David Hunter. He once again leaves a ransom note but Wilson and Piccolo are involved. The Gravesnatcher, as the killer is called, succeeds due to the police bungling. With his assistant Hilary at his side more bodacious thefts and homicides occur; Gideon believes he and those close to him are on a killer’s vengeance list.

The first Kincaid Hollywood thriller is an entertaining cat and mouse mystery. Gideon is an intriguing protagonist who brings a noir feel to the tale and a fascinating anti relationship with the police. Though some readers might not enjoy knowing the culprit early on, Dead And Not So Buried is a fast-paced, exciting story.

Harriet Klausner

The Burning Edge-Rick Mofina

The Burning Edge

Rick Mofina

Mira, Dec 20 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780778313014

Two years her husband Bobby died leaving Lisa Palmer a grieving single mom trying to help her children Ethan and Taylor with their loss. To pay the bills, she sold the cabin on Lake George that was part of his family since 1957 but believes Bobby would understand. Driving from Upstate New York to her home in Queens, Lisa makes a pit stop in the Ramapo exit of the New York State Freeway. An armored car arrives, but two gunmen kill the delivery men and an FBI agent who was next to her; she feels guilty over the Fed because she dropped his gun that he asked her to remove from his pocket, which led the murderous robbers to him.

Terminal cancer victim, FBI agent Frank Morrow leads the hunt for the killers. Under questioning as an eye-witness, Lisa provides a key clue to the identity of sone of the murderers. Meanwhile, ambitious reporter Jack Gannon investigates at the same time Ivan Felk and his black ops crew plan to rob again in order to raise the rest of the money needed to pay the ransom of some of his team incarcerated in Afghanistan, but first he needs to assassinate the witness by targeting her kids.

The latest Gannon investigation (see The Panic Zone and In Desperation) is an exciting tense tale starring a frightened widow, a dying cop, an ambitious journalist and an obsessed villain who adheres to the credo of no man left behind. The pulse pumping story line is fast-paced with readers anticipating a collision of the four protagonists. Although the climax is over the edge of the top of the Empire State Building, fans will enjoy the fourth taut Gannon thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, December 5, 2011

Dead by Nightfall-Beverly Barton

Dead by Nightfall

Beverly Barton

Zebra, Dec 1 2011, $7.99

ISBN: 9781420110364

Psychopath Malcolm York held Griffin Powell, Damar Sanders and Yvette Meng prisoner in his Amara torture chamber where he performed all types of sexual depravities including murder. He especially enjoyed the human hunts he organized. However, the trio overcame the odds managing to kill the madman and destroying Amara.

However, Griff revises his belief that the nightmare who haunts him 24/7 is dead when his wife former FBI Special Agent Nicole is kidnapped and the taunting phone calls from that familiar voice he has not hear in over a decade begin. With his associates at the Powell Private Security and Investment Agency, Griff hunts a madman, who he knows wants to entrap him, in order to rescue his pregnant beloved.

The Third Dead By thriller (see Dead by Morning and Dead by Midnight) is an exciting suspense tale as time is running out on Nic. The storyline is fast-paced from the first phone call to the final confrontation. There is a déjà vu feel to the plot as Nic was abducted with Griff in pursuit in The Murder Game while Pudge the serial killer of that novel is similar to Malcolm as both are surreal amoral evil gamester. Still this is an entertaining cat and mouse game that showcases the late Beverly Barton’s suspenseful writing skills.

Harriet Klausner