Saturday, June 30, 2012

Suzy's Case-Andy Siegel

Suzy's Case

Andy Siegel

Scribner, Jul 10 2012, $26.00

ISBN: 9781451658781

In New York City criminal lawyer Henry Benson has given work to personal injury and medical malpractice attorney Tug Wyler that four times has led to the latter being called before the Disciplinary Committee. Once again he is slapped with an ethics violation and a fine of $25.00 as Judge Howell knows Wyler was right. Observer Judge Piccone warns Tug he will throw the book at him if he oversees a lack of zealousness defending a client regardless of cause.

Benson asks Wyler to handle the Suzy Williams tragedy. In a Brooklyn hospital, six years old Suzy went into cardiac arrest; a seizure left her “a spastic quadriplegic with severe brain damage.” When Benson’s medical expert claims the child’s sickle cell anemia caused the seizure rather than staff negligence, Tug knows there is no complaint. However, Suzy’s single mom June persuades him to represent her daughter in their multimillion-dollar lawsuit.

Wyler will remind legal thriller fans of Joseph Teller’s Jaywalker (see The Tenth Case), as he thrives to do the right thing regardless of personal costs. The engaging storyline is fast-paced though there are too many happenchance incidents. However the cast is top rate starting with the wisecracking Wyler who enjoys busting the chops of righteous shitheads in power, the caring mom and especially Suzy.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, June 29, 2012

All Seeing Eye-Rob Thurman

All Seeing Eye

Rob Thurman

Pocket, Jul 31 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9781451652222

Ironically Jackson Lee muses that as a psychic he never saw it coming when he was fourteen years old and he touched the dusty pink shoe in his family’s yard. The shoe belonged to his five years old sister Tess who told told him she was murdered. Due to him his family is massacred as well leaving a traumatic Jack left in the Cane Lake County Home for Boys, definitely not for the good. There he meets bookworm Charlie Allgood.

Years later, Jack becomes a carny psychic until he takes out his own shingle as the All Seeing Eye for hire. He keeps people at a distance except for his assistant and adopted sister Abby, and Houdini the dog. Fed Hector Allgood tells Jackson that Charlie, who died ten months ago, told him about his friend’s skills. The SOB blackmails the psychic into working for him on solving Charlie’s murder and on an experiment that turned violent. Charlie sense déjà vu as he expects his life will radically change just like when he touched Tess’ shoe.

This is an exhilarating twisting paranormal thriller starring a troubled soul who struggles with his psychic skill, his knowledge of his sister’s death and his belief he caused the follow-up massacre. Fast-paced, readers will relish All Seeing Eye as the traumatized protagonist knows you can go home because the truth will never set you free from truly leaving home.

Harriet Klausner

Ripper David L. Golemon


David L. Golemon

Dunne, Jul 17 2012, $25.95

ISBN: 9780312580803

In 1887 the British Empire hire American scientist Lawrence Ambrose to create a means to change a civilized person into a berserker war machine. In 1888, Jack the Ripper murders his last victim. At the same time, Robert Louis Stevenson visits Scotland Yard with information on the Ripper’s identity that he connects to his Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde model, American chemist Lawrence Ambrose. Queen Victoria ended the project and ordered the secret execution of Ambrose who escaped with his notes.

In present-day Mexico, American government top secret Event Group geologist Sarah McIntire leads a team investigating caves where Pancho Villa allegedly stored his weapons. Anaconda the drug lord sends his vicious army to attack the geologist. They abduct Sarah. The Event Group sends a rescue team led by Colonel Jack Collins that uses information from General John “Black Jack” Pershing’s 1916 Mexican raid. However they are unaware that Anaconda has Ambrose’s notes and plans to use them.

The latest suspenseful Event Group thriller (see Legacy) is an exciting action-packed tale that deftly links Ripper to the contemporary war on drugs. Though the villain and hero are stereotyped, fans will enjoy this engaging entry filled with action and a thrill seemingly around every corridor and cave.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Next President-Robert Livingstone

The Next President

Robert Livingstone

Moore House, May 22 2012, $8.99

145 Fifth St, Toronto, Ontario, M8V 2Z5

ISBN: 9780615645988

International TV Systems News Division anchor Catherine Cortez is bored as she misses her field days. However, she is bringing in high ratings so her boss Hanson keeps her from doing any investigating. Catherine finally persuades her boss that she will quickly lose credibility with the public and ratings. He finally allows her to cover Presidential front runner Senator Francis Ellsworth, who is favored to defeat incumbent President Walter Graham in the upcoming election, as he visits post-Castro Cuba where President Eduardo Rodriguez leads a fledgling democracy.

In Cuba, Catherine and her camera man cover the local cops attacking anti Rodriguez protesters. Cuban Security Chef Fernandez talks away their footage. During her interview of Rodriguez, her camera crew film violent incidents in the Havana streets. Soon Catherine and her team find evidence that the Cuban democracy modeled after the American is a sham for a dictatorial fascist rule that has ties to Ellsworth.

This strong timely thriller affirms Benjamin Franklin’s warning that “Those who desire to give up freedom in order to gain security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one.” Fast-paced from the moment the intrepid reporter and her cameraman arrive in Post-Castro Cuba, fans will relish this exciting cautionary with a great final twist that laments the media-industrial-government complex as freedom of the press means unbiased reporting regardless of economic and ideological beliefs if democracy is too thrive.

Harriet Klausner

Some Like It Hawk- Donna Andrews

Some Like It Hawk

Donna Andrews

Minotaur, Jul 17 2012, $24.99

ISBN: 9781250007506

Former Mayor George Pruitt embezzled funds leaving Caerphilly, Virginia on the brink of bankruptcy. The town became infamous when the word spread that public facilities were mortgaged by Pruitt who took the money. The First Progressive Financial LLC, aka as the Evil Lender, closed the public facilities due to the lack of payment. Only town clerk Phineas Throckmorton remains in the way as for the past year he has barricaded himself in the courthouse basement though he uses a secret pre-Civil War tunnel leading from his abode to a crawl space beneath the bandstand to obtain supplies.

To help Phineas reload without the financiers hearing the old rusty door creak and to take advantage of their recent publicity of losing even the jail, the townsfolk host the Caerphilly Days festival for the summer tourists. However, FPF Vice president Colleen Brown is found murdered in the basement with Phineas as the only suspect though he has a perfect alibi that if revealed will be the curtain call for beleaguered Caerphilly unless the blacksmith and mom of infant twins Meg Langslow and others an find the real killer.

The latest Meg Langslow Mysteries (see The Real Macaw) is a great tale that satirizes the financial industry as a bunch of predatory hawks who will do anything for another golf course. Filled with eccentric characters, fans will relish this jocular whodunit as the bottom line is eighteen holes supersede a courthouse.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Heron’s Cove-Carla Neggers

Heron’s Cove

Carla Neggers

Mira, Jul 31 2012, $24.95

ISBN: 9780778313755

FBI undercover agent Colin Donavan and special agent Emma Sharpe met at the Sisters of the Joyful Heart in Maine when respective religious mentors asked each for help (see Saint’s Gate). Attracted to each other, the two feds are seeing one another.

Currently the pair is in his hometown of Heron’s Cove, Maine when jewelry designer Tatiana Pavlova arrives in town from London to ask Emma for help. Tatiana explains that someone plans to steal a prized collection recently found. She proves right that trouble is coming to Heron’s Cove in which the unknown adversary has no qualms with collateral damage occurring to the families and friends of the two FBI agents.

The second Donavan and Sharpe fast-paced romantic suspense returns the two intriguing Feds who find love a distraction as they work the Russian case; as once again the fine arts prove deadly. With a clever villain hidden in plain sight, the romance playing second fiddle to the whodunit, and the return of cast like Father Finian Bracken, reader will enjoy this exciting Maine mystery mindful of early Savich and Sherlock (by Catherine Coulter).

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Sasha Plotkin’s Deceit-Vaughn Sherman

Sasha Plotkin’s Deceit

Vaughn Sherman

Camel Press, Aug 1 2012, $16.95

ISBN: 9781603818117

In 1972 after spending two years as a geographical bachelor in Viet Nam while his wife and kids resided in the Seattle area, CIA officer Chris Holbeck is now home with his family. However, he receives a call to come to headquarters. His disappointed wife Lisa warns him that if he works this case, she will leave him. Chris flies to DC where he learns KGB operative Sasha Plotkin has surfaced and wants to defect but only to Chris. The Agency wants Plotkin hoping he identifies the high echelon mole who sold secrets that led to the death of undercover operative Han Weiner.

In 1968 Stockholm, American Embassy’s First Secretary Bill Broom invites Chris and Lisa to a gala because they fluently speak Swedish. At the party, he meets Swedish Foreign Office’s Chief of Protocol Peter Palmstjerna; a few weeks later Peter invites them to a bash he hosts. There they meet Sasha Plotkin; both spies immediately recognize the other as comrades in arms albeit opposite sides. They become friends. The Russian asks his American counterpart to help him defect. Chris arranges the escape, but on D-Day Sasha fails to arrive and soon afterward the American realizes the extent of the Russian’s deceit. Now three years later Sasha wants his friend to help him defect.

This exciting Cold War espionage thriller is a character driven tale that brings to life the Nixon Era through the cast as even the parties display tension while the backdrop of Stockholm during the Swedish anti-Vietnam War protests enhances that sense of moving back to a dangerous time. The storyline is fast-paced as the audience will obsess over what Sasha Plotkin’s Deceit is as Vaughn Sherman provides a strong period piece.

Harriet Klausner

Cat In A White Tie And Tails-Carole Nelson Douglas

Cat In A White Tie And Tails

Carole Nelson Douglas

Forge, Aug 7 2012, $24.95

ISBN: 9780765327475

Las Vegas public relations expert Temple Barr accompanying by Midnight Louie travels to Chicago to meet the family of her fiancé radio star Matt Devine. While she goes to the Windy City, her former fiancé counterterrorist magician Max Kinsella recovers his memory he lost when he suffered injuries while looking for the evil Synth magicians’ organization. Police Lieutenant Carmen Molina drafts Max to help her investigate cold case murders in which he is her only suspect; Midnight Louise diligently guards the recovering amnesiac.

Meanwhile Kitty “the Cutter” O’Connor is back in the States after a stint in Ireland where Max was MIA; her return means trouble with a humongous T for anyone unfortunately in her deadly radar . In Chicago, Temple deals with her future mother-in-law’s plans for the wedding but the latter’s past surfaces with the cat-napping of Louie.

The latest Midnight Louie Anthropomorphic Mystery (see Cat In A Vegas Gold Vendetta) is a wild affair filled with terrific tense thrilling twists and soap operatic family drama. Series fans will enjoy the father and daughter feline duet working the tail of two cities.

Harriet Klausner

Peril in Paperback-Kate Carlisle

Peril in Paperback

Kate Carlisle

Obsidian, Aug 7 2012, $7.99

ISBN 9780451237620

Book-restoration expert Brooklyn Wainwright and her friends, Suzie Stein and Vinnie Patel drive from San Francisco to Lake Tahoe to spend a week at a luxurious mansion. It is owned by Suzie’s computer and engineering genius Aunt Grace. She is celebrating her 50th birthday. Eccentric Grace has converted her house into an odd home with hidden panels, holograms and many other stunners. Because Brooklyn rebounded some of bibliophile Grace’s favorite books last year, she places her guest in the Library Suite where she finds incredible first copies of classics; though some were mishandled by morons.

At dinner, Grace tells her guests she plans to read extracts from her unpublished autobiographical novel in which everyone in attendance is in included though she changed their names to protect the guilty. When Grace’s employee Bella Santangelo dies after drinking passion fruit iced tea, Brooklyn obsessively investigates as she believes her hostess was the intended victim.

The latest Bibliophile cozy (see One Book In The Grave and Murder Under Cover) is an entertaining amateur sleuth in which the zany mansion steals the show from the cast. Readers will enjoy the guests exploring the madcap mansion at a leisurely pace as the murder occurs a bit later than usual for a Brooklyn whodunit. The fun but strange climax has everyone confessing to something as fans will enjoy the witty Peril In Paperback.

Harriet Klausner

Freak-Jennifer Hillier


Jennifer Hillier

Simon & Schuster/Gallery, Aug 7 2012, $24.99

ISBN 9781451664546

Seattle PD homicide detective Mike Torrance shows his retired partner turned private investigator Jerry Isaac the corpse of Brenda Stich whose throat was cut in a room at the Sweet Chariot Inn. Mike asked Jerry to come to the inn so he can see the message carved into Brenda’s skin by a knife: “FREE ABBY MADDOX”. Jerry has a scar across his throat and his voice is destroyed due to Abby’s attack last year while he worked a case involving Maddox’s boyfriend serial killer Ethan Wolfe (see Creep).

Still suffering from PTSD, Jerry feels ill that some lunatic would kill an innocent to make a case to free a maniac like Abby; though many people feel she committed no crime except her choice in boyfriends. Jerry knows psychologically he needs to stay away from this homicide, but obsessively cannot.

Jerry has not recovered his swagger from his traumatic meeting with Abby (in Creep) though his wife Anne and others are there for him, but feels he must act on the latest murders. Abby is a fascinating person who is a sub in her loving relationships and psychopath protecting her beloveds. Whereas his personality negatively has been changed by their encounter; hers has been strengthened. Although serial killer thrillers inundate the market, sub-genre fans will want to know who the twisted Freak is behind “Free Abby Maddox”.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, June 25, 2012

Line of Fire-Stephen White

Line of Fire

Stephen White

Dutton, Aug 7 2012, $26.95

ISBN: 9780525952527

Boulder, Colorado psychologist Dr. Alan Gregory finds the recent calm in his life seemingly over. His friend and therapist partner Diane, who already was emotionally struggling from an abduction several yearsago, cannot cope with a fire that has devastated her home and left her marriage in trouble.

He and his friend Police Detective Sam Purdy try to keep closed the apparent three year old suicide of psychotic J. Winter Brown as an eight years old witness has provided recent evidence that claim a murder occurred. Compounding problems is a drug dealer learns of their involvement. Finally a new patient Amanda Bobbie tells Gregory a story that has the psychologist fearing for his family, his friends and his life as the Brown case has gone torrid.

The first of the final two-part last Alan Gregory thriller (see The Last Lie and The Siege) is a fabulous tale as the cool doc is no longer calm with his cover-up of his indiscretion surfacing. The action-packed thrilling storyline is character driven as the audience will feel Gregory’s fears. With a great cliffhanger involving the hero’s wife setting up the climatic last Gregory caper, fans will enjoy this entry and look forward to the final curtain call.

Harriet Klausner

The Absent One- Jussi Adler-Olsen; K.E. Semmel (translator)

The Absent One

Jussi Adler-Olsen; K.E. Semmel (translator)

Dutton, Aug 21 2012, $26.95

ISBN 9780525952893

Copenhagen Deputy Detective Superintendent Carl Morck heads the police Department Q, whose mission is solving cold cases. Formerly a good homicide cop, Morck almost died on the job while two of his peers did because he blames himself for failing to fire his gun (The Keeper of Lost Causes). He suffers from remorse and survival guilt.

The latest case for Morck and his two exiled undesirable assistants Assad and Rose Knudson involves a 1987 double homicide of teen siblings; both beaten to death at a summer cottage in Rorvig. Neither Carl nor Assad knows why they got the closed solved case, but they study the file. Suspicion back then fell on six boarding-school students staying at a nearby cottage who had several brawls at the local Round nightclub. Five of them (Pram, Florin, Jensen, deceased Wolf and vanished Lasson) were born silver spooners while the other was on scholarship (Thogersen); the father of the victims, a cop, killed himself. Nine years after the brutal murders, Thogersen confessed and remains in prison. Three of the surviving now gold spooners realize the cops are reinvestigating the murders and may find evidence linking them to that and more such violent acts. They need to eliminate the one person who could expose them if Department Q finds her before they do.

The second Department Q Danish police procedural is an exciting cold case mystery as the more Carl and Assad learn, the more convinced they are that all the suspects were involved in the murders and in subsequent killings since. Readers will enjoy following the clues as everyone hunts for a homeless member of the original six.

Harriet Klausner

12.21-Dustin Thomason


Dustin Thomason

Dial, Aug 7 2012, $27.00

ISBN 9780385341400

On December 11, 2012 in Los Angeles, Presbyterian Hospital’s third-year resident Michaela Thane calls Dr. Gabriel Stanton, head of CDC’s Prion Center. She says she believes she believes they have a case of Prion Disease. Stanton scoffs at Thane’s assertion until she says he seems to suffer from fatal familial insomnia (FFI), but he changes his mind when she also mentions the tests indicate the patient had not slept in a week. Stanton rushes to over to Presbyterian.

Nearby at the Getty Museum, epigraphist Chel Manu deciphers a Mayan codex just given to her by a distraught Hector Gutierrez. As she begins to understand why her Mayan heritage ancestors suddenly vanished and what December 21, 2012 means, Michaela’s diagnosis proves correct and soon the greater metropolitan area is quarantined as an epidemic of Prion disease has spread to thousands. To understand the patient they bring in Manu. Soon Stanton and Manu race to the Guatemalan jungle to find a cure to the spreading FFI, which will blanket the world by December 21, 2012.

This is a tremendous medical-Mayan doomsday thriller that grips readers from the moment Thane calls Stanton and never slows down as the clock is running out on preventing a pandemic end of the world. Fast-paced throughout, readers will short list this superb tale as one of the best thrillers of the year.

Harriet Klausner

Through These Veins-Anne Marie Ruff

Through These Veins

Anne Marie Ruff

Open Door Press, Jun 20 2011, $15.00

ISBN: 9780983249801

In Ethiopia, the villagers considered Nataniel the healer as a witch doctor. They came from all over the country and beyond to see him in his hometown of Chochotte. His daughter Zahara knows that her father is an Orthodox Christian pharmacist who graduated from Addis Ababa University. She is proud of her dad who does what he can using many local remedies to help those ailing.

He found a cure for a terrible disease that was destroying the Ethiopians and much of East Africa. Word spread around Africa and beyond until the American Big Pharma firms learns of a potential cure made from local foliage that violently rids the body of AIDs. Soon afterward, Nataniel is murdered and his daughter wants to know why and who though she thinks she already knows the answers.

This is an engaging thriller that works on two planes. First there is a remarkable discerning look at global AIDs field research that takes armchair readers obviously to Africa but also Asia as well as the labs interwoven into the entertaining storyline; second there is the competition for controlling Nataniel’s elixir in which Big Pharma is not the evil kingdom though ruthless businessmen are in the mix. Readers will enjoy Anne Marie Ruff’s strong saga as she shines a spotlight on AIDs through what could happen after finding the cure.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Run to Ground-D.P. Lyle

Run to Ground

D.P. Lyle

Oceanview, Aug 7 2012, $25.95

ISBN: 9781608090570

In Alabama, Martha and Tim Foster struggle to cope with the murder of their seven year old son Steven. DNA evidence in a truck tied Walter Alan Whitaker to the homicide. However Judge Ben Kleiman trashed the reputation of HPD homicide detective T-Tommy Tortelli and disallowed the use of the DNA on a technicality. Whitiker was convicted of perjury and interfering with a police investigation. He received three years and now after nine months at Stone Gate Prison near Huntsville he is freed.

Martha and Tim fear their son’s killer as he threatened her. Though they will never see their son’s grave again, the pair change their identity and plan to leave the state. However, before they leave for the Carolinas, they fire shots from a distance that kills Whitaker whose brother blames T-Tommy. HPD forensic evidence and criminal behavior consultant Dub Walker, T-Tommy Tortelli and TV reporter Claire McBride search for the Fosters, but find some anomalies in the evidence.

The latest Dub Walker/T-Tommy police procedural (see Hot Lights, Cold Steel and Stress Fracture) is a taut manhunt investigation. Character driven especially at the onset when readers meet the distraught parents, the storyline is filled with a stunning late twist. Fans will appreciate aptly titled Run To Ground while wondering would they act like the bereaved Foster parents who watch an injustice occur.

Harriet Klausner

Silent Slaughter-C.E. Lawrence

Silent Slaughter

C.E. Lawrence

Pinnacle, Aug 1 2012, $9.99

ISBN 9780786025633

In Manhattan’s Thirteenth Precinct, Detective Leonard Butts consults with profiler Dr. Lee Campbell on a note addressed to the cop received at the station. The memo signed by the Professor taunts Butts and the profiler. Campbell tells Butts the man is literate, intelligent and a real threat. He answers what should we do and the profiler says we wait.

The first known victim is Lisa Adler found in the back of Shinbourne Alley with a note addressed to Butts and friends from the Professor. Forensics Linguistics Specialist Elena Krieger says the culprit is enjoying himself and uses sophisticated amusing language as the Professor plays a game in which he sets the rules. He also removed a finger from the victim. Cop Jimmy Chen and his autistic brother Barry join the investigation.

Although serial killers running rampart are the repeat theme in this exciting series (see Silent Kills, Silent Victims and Silent Screams), the cast makes it fresh as Leonard, Elena, Barry and the Professor bring diverse eccentricities to the investigation. The storyline is fast-paced from the moment Butts and Campbell eat bagels while discussing the first note and never slows down until the final confrontation of a literary predator.

Harriet Klausner

The Last Victim-Karen Robards

The Last Victim

Karen Robards

Ballantine, Aug 7 2012, $26.00

ISBN: 9780345535405

When Dr. Charlotte Stone was seventeen years old, due to being sick in the bathroom, she was the sole survivor of the Boardwalk Killer massacre of her BFF Holly Palmer and her friend’s mom Diane. She hid from everyone the “visits” in visions by Holly and her mom. That nightmare led to Charlie obsessively dedicating her life to becoming the authority on serial killers.

Fifteen years later at Wallens Ridge State Prison in Big Stone Gap, Virginia, Charlie’s interview of death row inmate Michael Garland ends when FBI agent Tony Bartoli arrives to talk to her. Tony informs a horrified Charlie that the Boardwalk Killer is no longer dormant or a copycat has surfaced; as just like with Holly someone abducted a teen after massacring her family. After she leaves Garland, he dies in an attack by another prisoner. Garland’s ghost blames his death on Charlie even though she tried to save his life. He continues to harangue her, which radically deviates with what she knows about ghosts after years of contact. Charlie knows this is her bogeyman case, but believes she must rescue the teen while an irate Garland refuses to go away.

This is a great paranormal police procedural starring a fascinating researcher whose worst nightmare apparently has returned. The suspenseful story line grips the audience from the moment the teen stays hiding and never let’s go until the final confrontation with a diabolical serial killer. Adding to the fun is a touch of a romantic triangle as Karen Robards proves a fantastic ghostly whodunit.

Harriet Klausner

Blood Line-James Rollins

Blood Line

James Rollins

Morrow, Jun 26 2012, $27.99

ISBN: 9780061784798

Sigma Force Commander Gray Pierce struggles with the murder of his mother. However, the team is assigned by leader Painter Crowe to extract a high value abductee taken by Somali pirates off the Seychelles. Confused by the task as this is not the type of mission Sigma deals with since the kidnapping is not a global threat, which is their mission even if the victim is the First Daughter Amanda Gant-Bennett. Even more bewildering is that former Army Ranger Tucker Wayne and his K9 partner Kane join the rescue effort. Reluctantly as they table their combat against the Guild, Sigma heads to the Horn to meet their two newcomers.

A firebombing in a South Carolina fertility clinic reveals a centuries-old plot to reengineer the human genome. Sigma is assigned to save an unborn whose existence questions the meaning of what humanity is:

As always in a James Rollins’ thriller, scientific theories (in this case: genetics, robotics, immortality and canine intelligence) are key to an exciting action-packed tale. The cast is strong with the newcomers fitting in with the likes of Pierce, Bryant, Kowalski and even enigmatic Seichan while the locales diverse. With a strong conspiratorial plot that ties back to the eleventh century and Jesus, Sigma fans will enjoy the fabulous Blood Line (see The Doomsday Key and The Devil Colony).

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Crowded Grave-Martin Walker

The Crowded Grave

Martin Walker

Knopf, Jul 10 2012, $24.95

ISBN: 9780307700193

Apparently PETA activists rip open a fence on the Villatte farm allowing many of the three thousand birds to leave; cars run over a few. As Bruno, his team and his dog Gigi work the fowl containment; an archeological team led by German Professor Horst Vogelstern seeks the remains of Cro-Magnon and Neanderthal in the Perigord region. Instead they find the bones of a corpse wearing a St. Christopher medal and a swatch with a bullet in the skull and the hands tied from behind with electrical wire. St. Denis police chief Benet “Bruno” Courrèges investigates the cold case homicide that is over three decades old.

At the same time, Bruno and his small staff are on alert as a major publicized meeting between French and Spanish officials are in St. Denis. He also struggles with the new magistrate who demands the enforcement of the health codes by the local police; this decree forces Bruno to enforce violations of neighbors for slaughtering livestock without regard to government licensing. To make matters worse, Horst disappears.

The latest magnifique Mystery of the French Countryside (see Bruno, Chief of Police; The Dark Vineyard; and Black Diamond) is a delightful potpourri of murder, various types of terrorism, gourmet dining, and intelligent women competing for Bruno. With a sad but realistic exciting climax, fans will appreciate Martin Walker’s superbe gendarme procedural.

Harriet Klausner

Lake Country-Sean Doolittle

Lake Country

Sean Doolittle

Bantam, Jul 31 2012, $15.00

ISBN 9780345533920

Five years ago, on Minnesota State Road 169 after several nights of little sleep Minneapolis architect Wade Benson fell asleep at the wheel, crossed into traffic going in the other direction, and crashed head on into the vehicle driven by Mankato State sophomore Becky Morse. She dies while he gets probation to include two days a year in jail.

Former marine Darryl Potter is a friend of the Morse family. He believes an injustice occurred that he decides to rectify with an eye for an eye. Potter kidnaps Benson’s twenty years old daughter Juliet and heads into Lake Country. His Afghan combat veteran Mike Barlowe realizes what Darryl has done and tries to prevent another innocent dying. Reporter Maya Lamb who was there from the beginning of the tragedy, Buck, bounty hunter Bryce, law enforcement officials and other parties with superego agendas pursue.

Everyone collides in Lake Country as Sean Doolittle provides a powerful regional thriller. Fast-paced and loaded with action, readers anticipate the confrontation while wondering whether Juliet will be the sacrifice to “right” a wrong. Filled with a strong diverse cast that run the emotional gamut, Lake Country is a great thriller.

Harriet Klausner

You Don’t Want to Know-Lisa Jackson

You Don’t Want to Know

Lisa Jackson

Kensington, Aug 1 2012, $25.00

ISBN 9780758258571

Two years ago the nightmare began. Two year old Noah Garrison vanished from his family’s Washington State home. His grief stricken mom Ava mentally collapsed and is placed on meds while spending much time since Noah’s disappearance from their island home in Seattle institutions as she is under suicide watches.

The meds fail to eliminate her nightmares and Ava in a rare lucid moment believes her dugs trigger them. Recently Ava has stopped taking the numbing meds and beginning to regain her memory, which brings its own terrorism as she wonders if Noah fell off the dock and drowned. Ava finds it outrageous yet fascinating that sympathy is towards her husband Wyatt who was never there for their son or her. She also thinks he is cheating again. To add to her tsuris, the police suspect a deranged Ava is a brutal serial killer as the victims are tied to her. Stable hand Austin Dern rescues Ava when she falls off that same dock where she fears Noah fell from. Austin helps Ava try to prove her innocence in the homicides and with what happened to Noah.

You Don’t Want To Know is a gripping thriller that hooks the audience from the onset and never let’s go until the final climax. Filled with twists and spins, and a powerful cast staring with Ava, readers will need to know what happened to Noah in Lisa Jackson’s stunning psychological mystery.

Harriet Klausner

Off the Grid-P.J. Tracy

Off the Grid

P.J. Tracy

Putnam, Aug 2 2012, $25.95

ISBN 9780399158049

Minneapolis Monkeewrench computer guru Grace MacBride and FBI cybercrime desk jockey John Smith met on his first field case three months ago on an internet murder investigation (see Shoot to Thrill). Out of the blue, the older Fed asked her to go sailing with him off the Florida Keys; the lone accepts his invitation. While musing over why she came, she and Charlie the dog realize there is a boat invasion. She sees them with a knife aimed at John. Grace shoots and kills both of them while John struggles with breathing. They realize John was the target of Saudi assassins though he has no idea why; she tosses the bodies into the ocean.

Minneapolis Police department homicide detectives Gino Rolseth and Leo Magozzi investigate the murder of fifteen year old Aimee Sergeant, one of five Native American children kidnapped from the Sand Lake Reservation. Not long after that in nearby Little Mogadishu, two Somali males are executed; followed by three more. The two cops believe the connection between the homicides is a Somali mob that traffics in the sex trade by kidnapping young Native American girls as their commodity. Soon on the sand lake reservation what happened off the Keys, and in Minneapolis converge with the police and the Monkeewrench consultants (Grace, Harley Davidson, Annie Belinski and Roadrunner) facing a diabolical foe who has frightened much of the Midwest.

This powerful police procedural (see Dead Run and Snow Blind) is a fabulous whodunit in which Team Tracy uses the headlines to tell a stunning rousing thriller; whose most frightening aspect is that the plot is very plausible. Action-packed from start to violent finish, fans will appreciate the super Monkeewrench drama.

Harriet Klausner

You Don’t Want to Know-Lisa Jackson

You Don’t Want to Know

Lisa Jackson

Kensington, Aug 1 2012, $25.00

ISBN 9780758258571

Two years ago the nightmare began. Two year old Noah Garrison vanished from his family’s Washington State home. His grief stricken mom Ava mentally collapsed and is placed on meds while spending much time since Noah’s disappearance from their island home in Seattle institutions as she is under suicide watches.

The meds fail to eliminate her nightmares and Ava in a rare lucid moment believes her dugs trigger them. Recently Ava has stopped taking the numbing meds and beginning to regain her memory, which brings its own terrorism as she wonders if Noah fell off the dock and drowned. Ava finds it outrageous yet fascinating that sympathy is towards her husband Wyatt who was never there for their son or her. She also thinks he is cheating again. To add to her tsuris, the police suspect a deranged Ava is a brutal serial killer as the victims are tied to her. Stable hand Austin Dern rescues Ava when she falls off that same dock where she fears Noah fell from. Austin helps Ava try to prove her innocence in the homicides and with what happened to Noah.

You Don’t Want To Know is a gripping thriller that hooks the audience from the onset and never let’s go until the final climax. Filled with twists and spins, and a powerful cast staring with Ava, readers will need to know what happened to Noah in Lisa Jackson’s stunning psychological mystery.

Harriet Klausner

Lake Country-Sean Doolittle

Lake Country

Sean Doolittle

Bantam, Jul 31 2012, $15.00

ISBN 9780345533920

Five years ago, on Minnesota State Road 169 after several nights of little sleep Minneapolis architect Wade Benson fell asleep at the wheel, crossed into traffic going in the other direction, and crashed head on into the vehicle driven by Mankato State sophomore Becky Morse. She dies while he gets probation to include two days a year in jail.

Former marine Darryl Potter is a friend of the Morse family. He believes an injustice occurred that he decides to rectify with an eye for an eye. Potter kidnaps Benson’s twenty years old daughter Juliet and heads into Lake Country. His Afghan combat veteran Mike Barlowe realizes what Darryl has done and tries to prevent another innocent dying. Reporter Maya Lamb who was there from the beginning of the tragedy, Buck, bounty hunter Bryce, law enforcement officials and other parties with superego agendas pursue.

Everyone collides in Lake Country as Sean Doolittle provides a powerful regional thriller. Fast-paced and loaded with action, readers anticipate the confrontation while wondering whether Juliet will be the sacrifice to “right” a wrong. Filled with a strong diverse cast that run the emotional gamut, Lake Country is a great thriller.

Harriet Klausner

The Crowded Grave-Martin Walker

The Crowded Grave

Martin Walker

Knopf, Jul 10 2012, $24.95

ISBN: 9780307700193

Apparently PETA activists rip open a fence on the Villatte farm allowing many of the three thousand birds to leave; cars run over a few. As Bruno, his team and his dog Gigi work the fowl containment; an archeological team led by German Professor Horst Vogelstern seeks the remains of Cro-Magnon and Neanderthal in the Perigord region. Instead they find the bones of a corpse wearing a St. Christopher medal and a swatch with a bullet in the skull and the hands tied from behind with electrical wire. St. Denis police chief Benet “Bruno” Courrèges investigates the cold case homicide that is over three decades old.

At the same time, Bruno and his small staff are on alert as a major publicized meeting between French and Spanish officials are in St. Denis. He also struggles with the new magistrate who demands the enforcement of the health codes by the local police; this decree forces Bruno to enforce violations of neighbors for slaughtering livestock without regard to government licensing. To make matters worse, Horst disappears.

The latest magnifique Mystery of the French Countryside (see Bruno, Chief of Police; The Dark Vineyard; and Black Diamond) is a delightful potpourri of murder, various types of terrorism, gourmet dining, and intelligent women competing for Bruno. With a sad but realistic exciting climax, fans will appreciate Martin Walker’s superbe gendarme procedural.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, June 22, 2012

Don’t Say a Word-Beverly Barton

Don’t Say a Word

Beverly Barton

Zebra, Jul 31, 2012, $7.99

ISBN 9781420110371

In Chattanooga, the vicious “Tongue Slasher” serial killer haunts the city as even a judge is unsafe from this psychopath. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Special Agent Will Brannock and Detective Julia Cass, new to the CPD and sister to his TBI peer J.D. (see Don’t Cry), lead the inquiry.

While both law enforcement officials know ending the hideous Tongue Slasher’s reign of terror is top priority, they are attracted to one another. However, Julia pegs him as a player so rejects any relationship besides professional and Will has a past that prevents him from pursuing his temporary teammate. As they work the case, they find too many suspects, but diligently try to eliminate most of them before another victim is gruesomely slaughtered.

This is a fast-paced direct sequel to Don’t Cry as some of the dangling threads continue in this police procedural. The killer’s scrap book will bring chills to the audience as does his gruesome crimes. Fans will appreciate this strong thriller as the late Beverly Barton, known for her taut tales, provides a terrific tense romantic suspense.

Harriet Klausner

Nowhere to Run-Nancy Bush

Nowhere to Run

Nancy Bush

Zebra, Jul 31, 2012, $7.99

ISBN 9781420125016

Olivia “Liv” Dugan celebrates her sixth birthday though her toddler brother Hague upsets her. After eating cake, Liv watches cartoons when she hears her Mama cry out. She goes to check on her Mama while noticing the door opened. Mama tells her to go back to the den and she will join her soon. When Mama fails to come to the den, Liv goes to the kitchen only to find her hanging dead.

Almost two decades later, Liv receives a package that Mama had left in trust for her when she turned twenty-five. Inside are pictures, a birth certificate, and a strange note that makes no sense to her. Liv obsesses with knowing the entire truth about her Mama. When she returns from lunch to her office at Zuma Software, Liv is shocked to find everyone murdered. She assumes she was the intended victim with her Mama’s package the motive though she is unaware why. She trusts no one and believing she is followed Liv carjacks a random vehicle driven by Detective August “Auggie” Rafferty. She tells him her story, which he believes is either BS or delusional until incidents occur. Now they team up trying to understand why something that happened twenty years ago is leaving innocent people dead while Liv is the prey of a predator.

Nowhere to Run is an action-packed thriller that keeps the romance between the heroes to a minimum (though the attraction is unneeded) as the focus is on survival and the investigation. Auggie’s teaming with a civilian even an endangered one seems odd though arguably he also trusts no one with her safety. Readers will be hooked with a need to know the roots of why in this exciting romantic suspense.

Harriet Klausner

Scorpion Winter-Andrew Kaplan

Scorpion Winter

Andrew Kaplan

Harper, Jul 31 2012, $9.99

ISBN 9780062063786

Ukrainian billionaire businessman Vadim Akhnetzov stuns Scorpion by doing the near impossible without permission by contacting him. Vadim wants Scorpion to stop an assassination attempt. The owner of the Ukengaz firm says Kozhanovskiy is supported by the West while Cherkesov by the Russians. He explains there is a plot to kill Cherkesov, which would lead to a Russian invasion and a NATO counterstrike. Scorpion asks Vadim re his interest and the Ukrainian responds by saying he would do business with the devil as the Russians would end his company if their man is murdered and that the prototype is the assassination of the Archduke Ferdinand in 1914.

Scorpion agrees to prevent the assassination not for the seven digit fee he accepts, but because his “handler” Rabinowich must think this is a potential crisis by enabling Akhnetzov to contact him. In the Ukraine, Scorpion teams up with political adviser Iryna Mikhailivna Shevchenko to keep the Russian backed candidate alive. As seemingly unrelated events in Siberian Penal Colony 9 and Yemen occur, Scorpion kills several people. At the same he eludes the local police, the state secret police, the Ukrainian mob and several spy agencies including his former mates at the CIA; many of whom work conflicting devious games with no regard for collateral damage. However, he soon realizes he has been betrayed by someone apparently on his side.

The third Scorpion espionage thriller (see Scorpion Betrayal) is a fast-paced tale even before the free-lance spy and the business mogul meet and never slows down until the final confrontation. Fast-paced with a high kill rate, Andrew Kaplan uses the tense 2010 Ukraine election (and the upcoming one) as the basis of a strong thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Bagpipes, Brides, and Homicides -Kaitlyn Dunnett

Bagpipes, Brides, and Homicides

Kaitlyn Dunnett

Kensington, Jul 31 2012, $23.00

ISBN 9780758272652

In Moosetookalook, Maine, Liss MacCrimmon wants a simple wedding ceremony when she marries Dan Ruskin on the same weekend as the Western Maine Highland Games. However, her mom demands a tartan celebration instead of vanilla as her daughter prefers.

Someone murders charming history professor Alfred Leon Palsgrave using the academic’s broadsword. Liss has solved homicides before (see The Corpse Wore Tartan and Scotched) but plans to stay out of this inquiry until she learns that her dad Donald is the prime suspect. Thus the Moosetookalook Scottish Emporium manager investigates the homicide and finds plenty of people who wanted Palsgrave dead. However, if she wants her dad to walk her down the aisle in a black (or tartan) tux instead of pinstripes, Liss needs to find the culprit soon.

This is a superb amateur sleuth mystery with a deep look at Scottish history and culture especially in New England; as Liss discovers when she learns of the negative reaction of protestors to the late professor’s fifteenth century hypotheses. Fans will enjoy the latest Moosetookalook cozy starring a bride to be fighting her mother for who plans the wedding and fighting for her father to give her away at that wedding.

Harriet Klausner

Miss Me When I’m Gone-Emily Arsenault

Miss Me When I’m Gone

Emily Arsenault

Morrow, Jul 31 2012, $14.99

ISBN: 9780062103109

Best-selling author Gretchen Waters is conducting a research trip into obtaining information on her next nonfiction work. Her memoir Tammyland focused on her divorce and her appreciation for Tammy Wynette, Loretta Lynn, and Dolly Parton. Her new project will follow up with the male country music legends.

However, Gretchen falls down thestairs to her death in a suspicious fall in the Willingham, New Hampshire public library parking lot. She names her best friend since they met as part of the Forrester College class of 2000 Jamie as her literary executor. After reading the incomplete memoir and the notes; Jamie decides to honor her friend by completing the book. However, the sections on the homicide in the late author’s family when she was a child makes Jamie wonder if the fall was an accident, or murder to shut up Gretchen.

This an entertaining amateur sleuth in which the plot contains passages from Tammyland and from the unfinished manuscript. The storyline starts off at a rapid clip, but slows down somewhat in the latter half. Pregnant “Madhat” Jamie is an interesting protagonist and Gretchen (from the grave) is a fascinating haunted soul as they make this an engaging mystery.

Harriet Klausner

Rough Riders-Charlie Stella

Rough Riders

Charlie Stella

Stark House, Jul 31 2012, $15.95

ISBN: 9781933586397

In Billings, Montana, U.S. Air Force Colonel Robert Schmidt and Washington Stewart agree to a deal. The Colonel will provide uncut Afghan heroine to the hit man in exchange for the killer murdering his cheating wife and part of the sales. Washington, a drug dealing murderer from New York where he was James Singleton, is in the Witness Protection program working with the feds on a sting operation from Vegas to North Dakota. He kills the wife.

At the same time, Washington wants to murder monster Eddie Senta (see Eddie’s World) for disfiguring him when the latter shot him in the face ten years ago. He sends a couple of goons back east to kill Senta. When the thugs screw up the hit, one is left dead while the other has to explain what happened to Washington; Senta is in ICU clinging to his life. His wife hires retired NYPD homicide cop Alex Pavlik, who worked the Singleton case, to investigate.

This is a fast and furious thriller that brings back the antagonists in Eddie’s World in a good, the bad and the ugly storyline. Rotating between the northern Great Plains and the New York area, fans will enjoy this action-packed noir although the Feds are too scandalously uncaring about collateral damage or simply deadly avarice.

Harriet Klausner

Blackmail Earth-Bill Evans

Blackmail Earth

Bill Evans

Tor, June 19, 2012, $24.99

ISBN: 9780765327833

Anyone who kept their head buried in the sand over global warming knows they were wrong as climate change has left the United States suffering from a horrific extended drought. While America is in a heated presidential campaign, around the world weather conditions are not any better as rising sea water from the melting caps threaten to submerge island nations. In the Maldives, al-Qaeda affiliates blame the West for the rising oceans that, if continued on its current pace, will submerge the archipelago. They plan a suicide bombing to reverse the trend from global warming to global freezing; The North Koreans also plan an even more dangerous assault.

Manhattan TV meteorologist Jenna Withers covers a story in upstate New York where she meets and is attracted to farmer Dafoe Tillian who has issues with pagan rites held nearby that turn ugly when their leader is murdered. POTUS names Jenna on a task force working to use technology to end global warming. At the same time reporter Rick Birk is in the Maldives on assignment.

This climate change thriller is an exciting tale as the several subplots begin to converge with Jenna as the focus. The entertaining storyline is filled with action from start to finish except for the unnecessary romance between the intrepid (way too skilled) heroine and the farmer, which feels more like a requirement of the genre. Still fans will enjoy the exhilarating Blackmail Earth.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Whiplash River- Lou Berney

Whiplash River

Lou Berney

Morrow, July 10 2012, $14.99

ISBN: 9780062115287

After his second time behind bars for grand theft auto, Charles “Shake” Bouchon decides no more committing felonies as at forty-something he feels too old to rob cars and be a getaway driver like he was for the Armenian mob. He knows he must leave Southern California to succeed so he obtains a loan from Baby Jesus the Belizean drug lord and buys a restaurant in Belize.

However, business proves poor, leaving Shake behind on his payments to Baby Jesus who expects full remittance on time or else. Compounding his tsuris is the combat between his staff. Finally to make matters worse, Meg and Terry try to kill former diplomat Quinn in the restaurant. FBI agent Evelyn follows the agency credo that vacation time is still work time as she interrogates Shake over his Armenian mob connection. Quinn thanks Shake for saving his life by conning him into helping retrieve an American artifact held hostage in Egypt at the same Gina the hedge fund manager arrives to enact revenge for Shake dumping her while a killer lurks.

The second Shake zany thriller (see Gutshot Straight) is a wild affair as the cast to match a Cecil B. DeMille production makes life miserable for the hero who finds going straight with one degree of separation dangerous. The key to this engaging crazy storyline is that the support characters seem genuine with their reasoning for their actions understood though several seem to be missing an electron or two in their brain cells. Readers will enjoy this madcap Central American thriller as the American expatriate realizes he failed to go far enough from his roots.

Harriet Klausner

City of the Dead-Daniel Blake

City of the Dead

Daniel Blake

Gallery/Pocket, Jul 10 2012, $25.00

ISBN: 9781439197622

In 2005 Pittsburgh police officer Franco Patrese accepts a FBI position in the New Orleans field office. He attends a Fourth of July party hosted by the city’s wealthiest person St. John Varden. At the gala, Patrese meets Varden’s personal assistant Cindy Rojciewicz. She arranges for the fed to meet her at a nearby bar by telling him she has harrowing information on human sacrifice.

When she fails to arrive at their rendezvous point, a concerned Patrese goes to her apartment. There he finds NOPD homicide detective Selma Fawcett investigating the horrid ritual murder of Rojciewicz. With a snake near the naked corpse; whose blood was drained from her body and a leg removed. Patrese and Fawcett team up to look into Cindy’s homicide and other recent voodoo ritualistic murders as they consult with the current Marie Laveau even while the National Weather Service warns of Hurricane Katrina bearing down on New Orleans.

The second Patrese police procedural (see Thou Shalt Kill) has the cynical cop moving from the Rust Belt to the Wet Belt as he changes jobs but works another gruesome serial killing case. His personality seems opposite of his more upbeat new partner while Katrina seems apropos as the truth does not always set you free when it is ugly.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Hard Currency Steven Owad

Hard Currency

Steven Owad

Five Star, Jul 6 2012, $25.95

ISBN 9781432825799

In 1992 in a seedy Warsaw apartment, the police rule that prostitute Krystyna Krol overdosed on drugs. Once a political activist, her brother Julian the reporter is shocked by what the cops decide as his estrange brilliant sister had a bright future in the free Poland.

Though feeling remorse for not being there for his sibling, it is the drugs that most disturb Julian as Krystyna was the most anti-drug person he knew. Unable to resist he obsesses with a need to know why she so radically changed. Julian interviews the government officials who investigated his sister’s death and her roommates. What he finds is not a picture of the enthusiastic brilliant girl he knew; but instead someone caught up in government corruption that survived the Communists and meth dealers thronging in an otherwise bleak world.

The dream and hope of Solidarity has turned into a collective nightmare of despair in Steven Owad’s grim look at Poland just after the Soviet implosion. There are too many odd incidents that seem to serve more as painting the dark venue and subsequently supersedes Julian’s investigation into his sister’s falling from grace. Still Hard Currency is an intriguing melancholy glimpse at the failure of capitalism following in top of the failure of Communism.

Harriet Klausner

True Believers-Kurt Andersen

True Believers

Kurt Andersen

Harper, Jul 10 2012, $26.99

ISBN 9781400067206

Law professor Karen Hollander decides not to go through the vetting process for a Supreme Court nomination as she fears that will allow the Republicans to destroy Obama if they could go after him for a minor acquaintance with a radical. She writes her memoirs which contains bombs that she hid for four decades once she gathers all the information about 1968.

In the 1960s in the Chicago area, she and her two best friends (Alex Macallister III, and Chuck Levy) used to role play as James Bond. By 1968, the trio became radicals. Though she knows she can take what she knows most likely to the grave, Karen plans to reveal the incident that shaped her life over forty years ago once she learns the missing pieces that until recently she chose ignorance as bliss.

This is a fascinating thriller that compares the radicalization of the middle and upper classes in the 1960s to the seemingly complacent acceptance of Big Brother since 9/11. Character driven by mostly Karen who tells her story, readers will appreciate her 1960s activism vs. her granddaughter’s “Occupied” activism and the role of intelligence that slices through both.

Harriet Klausner

15 Seconds-Andrew Gross

15 Seconds

Andrew Gross

Morrow, July 10 2012, $25.99

ISBN: 9780061655975

Cosmetic surgeon Dr. Henry Steadman drives to a Doctors Without Borders conference in Jacksonville, Florida when he ran a red light to avoid turning down the wrong way on a one way street. Police officer Martinez pulls Henry over and gives him tickets for running the light and driving the wrong way. When Henry argues the charges, Martinez arrests him for obstructing an officer and resisting arrest. Handcuffed he is taken to the station. The cops ask him where his wife is as he was seen driving with a woman this morning. The police soon realize they erred and Martinez tells him he will receive a warning citation.

However, as Martinez writes up the warning, a drive by shooter kills him. After how the cops just treated him, a panicked Henry flees. The police accuse him of murder and begin a manhunt for him.

The above is just the beginning of an exhilarating actin-packed thriller that never slows down as a desperate Henry eludes the law and pursues the killer. Though Henry’s escapades seem unlikely, no one will care as the twisting storyline grips readers throughout with the surgeon seeking to prove his innocence while cops in three states seek to silence him.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Welcome Back To Pie Town-Lynn Hinton

Welcome Back To Pie Town

Lynn Hinton

Morrow, June 26 2012, $13.99

ISBN: 9780062045126

Catron County, New Mexico Sheriff Roger Benavidez fails to persuade the FBI Agent In Charge Williams they are invading the wrong house on a drug bust. There are no drugs inside only a single elderly female principal who has a heart attack.

In Pie Town, Afghan veteran Raymond Twinhorse angrily carries a gun, which frightens his live-in lover single mother Trina Lockhart. When he shoves her, hot water scalds her back. She grabs her infant Alexandria and locks herself and her baby in the bathroom until he leaves. Trina turns to Father George Morris who brought her to town when he arrived (see Pie Town) for help. He gets the sheriff’s wife Malene who works at a clinic to provide first aid to the burns and informs Raymond’s father Frank what happened. Meanwhile Deputy Danny White calls his boss to tell him that a robbery occurred at the Silver Spur in Datil and a gun was found in the nearby dumpster. The owner Gilbert Diaz accuses Raymond who acted badly yesterday of the theft. Roger cannot find Raymond while Williams begins a man hunt over $200 missing dollars.

This is an entertaining return to Pie Town as the caring locals rally around the troubled veteran they consider a hero while the Feds go on an expensive manhunt thwarted by the local residents. The well written storyline places a spotlight on PTSD that takes money to treat. Williams is a caricature of the arrogant Fed who should receive the Proxmire Golden Fleece Award for wasting government money who is also the epitome of Putts Law of Success and Failure. Still fans will enjoy this engaging tale as it takes a loving village and professionals to help a wounded warrior.

Harriet Klausner

Death, Taxes And Extra-Hold Hairspray-Diane Kelly

Death, Taxes And Extra-Hold Hairspray

Diane Kelly

St. Martin's, June 26 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780312551285

Dallas IRS Criminals Investigations Office chief Lu Lobozinski is on sick leave undergoing chemotherapy. Special Agent Eddie Bardin has been temporarily promoted to replace Lu while she undergoes cancer treatment. Eddie’s partner Tara Holloway is working solo on two complicated cases as no other agent is available; that is except Nick Pratt who is the only she has not asked to assist her.

Nick agrees to join her as long as she does not play her Anne Oakley or “Sperminator “ acts. Tara and Nick visit militant secessionist August Buchmeyer who refuses to acknowledge the IRS as he claims the Lone Star nation is an independent country. Their other inquiry focuses on Pastor Noah Fischer who claims his Ark Temple of Worship mega-church as a tax shelter.

The latest Tara Holloway IRS criminal investigation (see Death, Taxes, and a Skinny No-Whip Latte) is an engaging thriller filled with humor and serious issues especially the religious con man pulling the wool over the eyes of his flock. The Lone Star Nation subplot would be amusing except for the Governor making similar statements last year showing there is red meat support for secession. Fans will enjoy Tara’s taxing cases as she finds Nock the most troubling of all.

Harriet Klausner

Haven- Kay Hooper

Kay Hooper

Berkley, Jul 31 2012, $26.95

ISBN 9780425258743

Fifteen years ago Jessie Rayburn fled her hometown of Baron Hollow, North Carolina. She feels fortunate that she is part of the Haven cell as a psychic investigator. Her estranged sister Emma still lives in Baron Hollow, but recently has suffered from terrorizing nightmares, which she writes about in entries in her journal after waking up. The horrible dreams are different in many ways but share in common someone stalking a woman and ends with the female brutally murdered. Distraught Emma learns that there are no reported dead or missing women, which adds to her fears of falling asleep.

Jessie comes home to confront her adolescent traumas that have limited her abilities. She is shocked and concerned that Emma’s dormant psychic powers are arising. Feeling guilty for not being there for Emma, Jessie investigates her sibling’s nightmares that she thinks are psychic visions of a serial killer hunting the townsfolk. Meanwhile Haven investigator Nathan Navarro and other parties are in town seeking the serial killer.

The latest FBI Special Crimes Unit paranormal police procedural (see Blood Ties) is an exhilarating action-packed thriller from the sibling reunion to the final confrontation. Each sister is three dimensional but with different personalities; which makes the paranormal seem real. The support cast is strong and the serene town enhances the suspense though the going solo against a psychopath as many do seems more of a teen slasher movie rather than the usual teaming up against a malevolence. Still Kay Hooper provides a terrific paranormal thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Sleeping and the Dead-Jeff Crook

The Sleeping and the Dead

Jeff Crook

Minotaur, Jul 3 2012, $24.99

ISBN 9781250000286

Former Memphis Police Department vice detective Jackie Lyons struggles with unemployment, a divorce, a fire in her apartment and her curse of seeing ghosts. She earns a living by selling photographs of crime scenes. Recently, Jackie bought herself a camera from a stranger though she knows the purchase is stupid as she has a money problem. She is taken aback when the pictures she takes contains ghosts that only she sees.

Jackie arrives at the latest homicide scene of the infamous Playhouse Killer who theatrically poses the victims. However, her new camera enables her to see the murder from a different eerie perspective. Though not her job anymore, Jackie investigates fearing she the Playhouse Killer is someone she knows.

Jackie is a fascinating, vulgar protagonist whose rough coldness and her ghostly acquaintances make for an intriguing refreshing hard-boiled paranormal mystery. Fast-paced, fans will appreciate her whodunit inquiry while guiltily relishing the macabre as the heroine knows the more gruesome the crime scene the higher the sale (mindful of serial-killer cards from the early 1990s and Capone’s crypt).

Harriet Klausner

The Portrait of Doreene Gray-Esri Allbritten

The Portrait of Doreene Gray

Esri Allbritten

Minotaur, July 3 2012, $24.99

ISBN: 9780312569167

Four decades ago in Port Townsend, Washington Maureene Pinter painted a portrait of her twin sister Doreene. Now fifty-eight years old, Maureene looks her age; while the painting looks like someone in their fifties, someone would think Doreene is a teen as she still looks eighteen though aches tells her otherwise. Now Doreene is selling the portrait.

Boulder, Colorado’s Tripping magazine learns of the auction. Angus MacGregor, Michael Abernathy, and Suki Oota head to the Pacific Northwest to investigate. However, Doreene is found dead while her portrait is that of a teen. The police believe she either killed herself or died in an accident; they rule out homicide. The three traveling journalists look into her death anyway; they find anomalies and several suspects with murder motives especially her sibling Maureene.

The return of the Tripping trio makes for a humorous paranormal investigation (see Chihuahua of the Baskervilles) as this time Oscar Wilde receives the amusing refreshing Esri Allbritten treatment. The storyline is fast-paced though a bit thin as the three reporters work on the strange case of The Portrait of Doreene Gray.

Harriet Klausner

Criminal- Karin Slaughter


Karin Slaughter

Delacorte, July 3 2012, $27.99

ISBN: 9780345528506

Georgia Bureau of Investigation Agent Will Trent and Grant County Medical Examiner Dr. Sara Linton are seeing one another after working the case of her ex-husband’s murder (see Broken). When Georgia Tech sophomore Ashleigh Snyder vanishes, Trent expects his GBU superior Deputy Director Amanda Wagner to assign him and his partner Faith Mitchell the case; instead she tells him to back off. Stunned, Trent’s instincts know something ties Wagner to Snyder but has no idea what.

In 1975, Amanda and Faith’s mom Evelyn were rookie cops who investigated the disappearance of prostitutes and murder over the warnings of their experience all male peers. Now, as she exiles Trent to patrol the airport, she and just about the rest of the available GBI agents are all over Techwood in search of Ashleigh.

The latest Karin Slaughter Georgia police procedural (see Fallen) is an exhilarating somewhat violent thriller that effortlessly moves back and forth between what happened in 1975 and what is occurring today. The storyline is filled with action as time seems to be running out on Ashleigh, but also this time takes Wagner through the Slaughter meat grinder (see Fallen for Faith’s spin) as her life will be radically changed as it was back when she first started as a detective over three decades ago.

Harriet Klausner

Sweet Talk-Julie Garwood

Sweet Talk

Julie Garwood

Dutton, August 7 2012, $26.95

ISBN: 9780525952862

Adolescents Samantha Pearson, Jane Weston and Collins Davenport were bored, angry and scared as they underwent experimental cancer treatments. When Olivia McKenzie joined them, she brought with her spirit. She became the leader of the four Pips as they pulled off pranks while her Aunt Emma abetted the banditos with logistical support. The staff expected the worst from the tweeners except Dr. Andre Pardieu who knows their antics are a harmless release from the tension of having no tomorrow.

Twelve years later the four Pips remain BFFs. Olivia works for the IRS as a field agent whose life goal is to see her ruthless charismatic father behind bars for stealing millions and running a giant Ponzi scheme. With Federal cuts, Olivia searches for a new position. While on an interview, she becomes entangled in an FBI sting where she meets Agent Grayson Kincaid who is awed by how calmly she dealt with an assault, an armed bodyguard and irate Feds. They are attracted to each other, but he knows this is not the right time for them until someone tries to kill Olivia. Grayson vows to keep her safe while she knows she has a long list of enemies including dearest dad.

Olivia is tough with a wicked sense of humor so facing criminals, bodyguards and FBI agents is child’s play after facing the Grim Reaper. Grayson is the first threat to her heart since she met the Pips as she is attracted to him and likes his attitude to do the right thing. He especially enjoys her intimidation tactics that put Sonny Listen and Mike Tyson to shame. With a strong support cast and plenty of action, fans will enjoy this exciting romantic suspense, one that deserves to be number one on all the bestseller lists.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Die a Stranger-Steve Hamilton

Die a Stranger

Steve Hamilton

Minotaur, Jul 3 2012, $25.99

ISBN: 9780312640217

Former Detroit cop Alex McKnight rents cabins on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. He feels for his best friend blackjack dealer Vinnie Red Sky LeBlanc whose beloved mother Hazel just died. Vinnie was further shook up when his mom thought he was his dad who killed three people driving drunk.

Alex is shoked when he finds Vinnie drinking as his buddy has not touched alcohol since his father’s fatal DUI. Soon afterward Vinnie vanishes while at an airport, several bodies are found. The second Upper Peninsula war has escalated as smuggling is big business; and Alex fears Vinnie is caught in the middle so he goes after his friend.

The latest Alex McKnight investigative thriller (see Misery Bay) is a powerful thriller due to the pathos of the protagonist, his BFF and the grief of the Bay Mills Indian Community who have lost a precious revered elder. Though the plot is not new, readers will believe they are in the U.P. guided by Alex whose anxiety and trepidation over what may have happened to his bud will be felt by armchair travelers.

Harriet Klausner

No Sale-Patrick Conrad

No Sale

Patrick Conrad

Bitter Lemon, May 22 2012, $14.95

ISBN: 9781904738978

In 1998 Antwerp, Chief Superintendent Fons “The Sponge” Luyckx, and Detective Inspector Lannoy investigate the disappearance of Shelley “Dixie” Cox whose husband Professor Victor Cox teaches the History of Cinema at the Institute of Film and Theatre Studies. They find her battered body by the Bonaparte Dock. She apparently was drunk, got hit by a car, and tossed into the water from the Nassau Bridge. The victim was wearing Hollywood prop jewelry from famous films like This Gun for Hire and Some Like it Hot.

The cops search for the murder vehicle starting with the husband whose car matches a description of the deadly auto and is in the shop for body damage repair. Soon afterward an actress dies of carbon monoxide and other homicides seemingly related to the case follow. Cox’s student Starr Mortenson vanishes while spending the weekend with him; in their room someone wrote "No Sale," from Butterfield 8. Cox is the only connection between some of the murders and the Mortenson’s disappearance.

This is an engaging Belgium police procedural in which classic films play a critical role. Cox makes the storyline work with his commentary on Hollywood including the It Girl and Clint Eastwood that also come across as grandiose delusions so he muddles up the investigation confusing the police (and delightfully the reader too). Although the final reel seems too brusque, fans will enjoy this wonderful whodunit that pays homage to great 1940s and 1950s movies.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, June 15, 2012

Mr. Monk is a Mess-Lee Goldberg

Mr. Monk is a Mess

Lee Goldberg

NAL, June 5 2012, $23.95

ISBN: 9780451236876

Natalie Teeger joined her employer Mr. Monk on Patrol as uniform cops in Summit, New Jersey. They return to San Francisco to take care of personal business with plans to return to Summit. However, Natalie finds the corpse of Michelle Keeling in her bathtub and money stolen from an FBI sting.

While Mr. Monk debates California vs. New Jersey, the feds looks at Natalie as the prime suspect in the homicide and abetting in the-marked money. At the same Monk’s agoraphobic brother Ambrose pleads with him to find his beloved missing Yuko who the neurotic detective is elated to see gone from his sibling. However, Mr. Monk Is A Mess as he biologically remains in Jersey but needs to be operating in California.

Lee Goldberg provides another great Mr. Monk tale as the mentally messed up sleuth struggles to get his San Francisco groove back while still on East Coast time; as his assistant and his brother need him at the top of his game. The storyline is fast-paced from the moment the pair returns home and never slows down as the temporarily Jersey boy, Monk may be a mess but he still is the best.

Harriet Klausner

The Zurich Conspiracy-Bernadette Calonego, Gerald Chapple (translator)

The Zurich Conspiracy

Bernadette Calonego, Gerald Chapple (translator)

AmazonCrossing, June 19 2012, $14.95

ISBN: 9781611090932

Several years ago in Zurich, Werner Schulmann sexually harassed Josefa Rehmer before leaving Loyn the leather accessories company. Five years later, Josefa is doing well in the event marketing department in the firm until Werner returns as her supervisor with the same demands of her though he is seeing another employee Clair Fendi. Werner being Werner claims as his plans what Clair and Josefa worked months on. Knowing her career at Loyn is over since they failed to give her the position she earned and would be on life support if she gives this odious person sexual favors and her brain, Josefa quits before he destroys her.

Soon after Josefa resigns, someone murders Schulmann. Not long after that the CEO commits suicide while people from bankrupt Swixan AG begin to die. Josefa realizes she is a suspect in the Schulmann homicide; as such she investigates a tangled web of arrogance, deceit and murder.

Though over the top of the Swiss Alps The Zurich Conspiracy is a fun amateur sleuth; as Josefa provides readers a tour of the old boy’s network that in this Swiss account fuels corporate intrigue and malicious mayhem. Though the language at times feels stilted, fans will enjoy the inquiry as the heroine finds one thing leads to another dangerous scenario.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Going to the Bad-Nora McFarland

Going to the Bad

Nora McFarland

Touchstone, August 7 2012, $15.00

ISBN: 9781439155578

At the KJAY newsroom in Bakersfield, California Lilly Hawkins TV news photographer is on the assignments desk when she hears a cop reporting over the police scanner to dispatch that gunshots were fired at 173 Jefferson St. Stunned as this her address, Lilly fears what happened to her live in lover Rod.

Using her station’s equipment, Lilly rushes home to find a mixed blessing; Rod is alive though bloody, but her beloved Uncle Bud is fighting for his life while in a coma as the blood on Rod is his. Lilly is angry and despondent as Uncle Bud loved her and always had her back though he operated in the gray areas of the law. Rod informs her that he never spoke a word to Uncle Bud. While Uncle Bud undergoes desperate life-saving surgery, Lilly looks for his would be killer. She learns Uncle Bud’s contacts are linked to something horrible he did five decades ago. A billionaire wants to insure these misdeeds never become known, which means using individuals to watch over Lilly and make sure she never guesses the truth.

The latest Lilly Hawkins Mysteries (see A Bad Day’s Work) is a taut investigative thriller as the intrepid news photographer works a case involving her ICU uncle and other eccentric characters; her usual sarcastic humor, enables her to witness the vilest crime scenes, to relieve her stress. Fast-paced and filled with angst, Nora McFarland provides a terrific tense tale that looks deep into the soul of the heroine in the midst of plenty of exciting action.

Harriet Klausner

A Sinister Sense-Allison Kingsley

A Sinister Sense

Allison Kingsley

Berkley Prime Crime, Jul 3 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 978-0425251416

In Finn’s Harbor, Maine the male corpse is found in the back of hardware store owner Rick Sander’s truck. The victim had been seen on Rick’s store and the murder weapon came from his shop. Police Chief Dan Peterson brings Rick to the station for questioning.

The townsfolk feel Rick killed the John Doe, but Clara Quinn, who works at her cousin Stephanie Quinn Dowd’s Raven’s Nest Bookstore employee, rejects the notion he is a murderer. She points out the same jumping to false conclusions happened to another bookstore worker Molly Owens (see Mind Over Murder). However, she also knows she is attracted to Rick. As the evidence mounts against Rick, encouraged by Stephanie to use her Quinn Sense to investigate, Clara knows she must identity the victim and why he was in town in order to find the killer.

The second Raven’s Nest Bookstore paranormal amateur sleuth is an entertaining amusing whodunit as the two cousins who are BFF "sisters" land in one mess after another. The investigation is fun while Tatters the dog adds canine humor to the amusing fiasco the cousins land in. Fans will enjoy this lighthearted well written mystery.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, June 11, 2012

Valley of Ashes-Cornelia Read

Valley of Ashes

Cornelia Read

Grand Central, August 14 2012, $24.99

ISBN: 9780446511360

In 1995 Madeline Dare has had many New York adventures and escaped being a homicide victim on numerous occasions (see The Crazy School, A Field of Darkness and Invisible Boy). However, she assumes her dangerous sleuthing days are behind her as she and her husband Dean Bauer live in bucolic Boulder, Colorado. She is a housewife caring for their twin toddlers (Parrish and India) while he travels the globe to places like Tokyo selling state-of-the-art scientific instruments.

Although her daughters keep her busy, Madeline is lonely after years of the hustle and bustle of Manhattan. Her only Colorado friend Carey works at the same place where Dean is employed though in a different section. Dean is emotionally abusive to Madeline, which motivates her to accept a position at a newspaper. She makes friends with Mimi, an arson expert who is investigating a series of fires but Madeline now has a target on her back thanks to Dean.

Changing locations and sleuthing status, Cornelia Read provides fresh adventures for Madeline to leap head first into as Boulder has more in common with the Big Apple than the heroine first thought. The cast is strong while the state of her marriage is not though Madeline has stopped blaming herself though she holds herself culpable to what happens to a friend. Readers will enjoy Madeline’s daring Rocky Mountain investigation.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Lethal Outlook- Victoria Laurie

Lethal Outlook

Victoria Laurie

Obsidian, July 3 2012, $23.95

ISBN: 9780451236951

In Austin, Texas FBI agent Dutch Rivers gives as an engagement present to his fiancée, psychic investigator Abby Cooper, a .38 Special. She is upset while her business partner Candice Fusco thinks it’s a great present that shows how much Dutch loves her.

An obviously frightened woman in disguise calling herself Ms. Smith arrives to hire Abby, but tells her nothing except that her client had broken some laws. Abby reads the woman and tells her client hurt and probably killed someone. The woman tells the sleuth to watch the news and leaves. On TV APD asks for public help in the disappearance of Kendra Moreno who vanished leaving behind her one year old baby alone. Abby looks at her image and tells Candice she is dead probably a murder victim. The two sleuths agree to take on Ms. Smith’s case even as they get no cooperation from anyone.

The latest Psychic Eye mystery (see Vision Impossible) is a fabulous whodunit as the heroine returns to her roots (and best venue) with a wonderful paranormal detective tale. The wedding plans take a comedic back seat even with Abby’s plan-zilla sister Cat aggressively taking charge. Fans will relish the two BFF investigators looking into the murder of Kendra.

Harriet Klausner

Murder On The Half Shelf-Lorna Barrett

Murder On The Half Shelf

Lorna Barrett

Berkley, July 3 2012, $24.95

ISBN: 9780425247754

Stoneham, New Hampshire, is known for its specialty bookstores like Tricia Mile’s Haven’t Got a Clue. When Pippa and Jon Comfort open up Sheer Comfort Inn, they invite some locals to spend a night free. Tricia and her cookbook author sister Angelica agree to take up the offer and share a room.

At the inn, Trica finds the murdered corpse of Pippa. Even more shocking to her than tripping over a dead body as she is a corpse magnet (see Bookmarked for Death and Bookplate Special) or that the police suspect Jon killed his wife, is she realizes who Jon is as she begins to receive special packages by mail. Two decades ago he was known to her as her boyfriend Harry Tyler whom she thought died. Her boyfriend Police Chief Grant Baker senses Tricia is somehow involved. Though she knows Harry-Jon is a con artist, Tricia believes he would not commit murder so she investigates.

The latest Booktown mystery (see Sentenced to Death) is an engaging over the top of New Hampshire whodunit. The investigations are entertaining as several pasts surface convoluting the case. Fans will enjoy this regional small-town murder mystery.

Harriet Klausner

The Playdate-Louise Miller

The Playdate

Louise Miller

Atria/Emily Bestler Books, July 3 2012, $15.00

ISBN: 9781451656671

In London, affluent married mother of three Suzy Howard and impoverished single mom Callie Roberts are best friends who help each other with their respective children. Callie lacks any self-esteem since her divorce and how the neighbors treat her and her five-year-old daughter with a heart condition Rae as if they have the plague. All the moms make it clear displaying overt hostility that they want her and her child to stay away from them and their family. The one exception is Suzy, who she owes a debt of gratitude for befriending her.

Callie decides to look for work as a first step to regain her lost confidence. When she obtains a job, she knows she should tell Suzy but she hesitates and is not sure why. When Suzy learns Callie returned to work without telling her, she feels betrayed. Meanwhile the new neighbor schoolteacher Debs Ribwell offers Callie friendship.

Rotating viewpoint between the three women, The Playdate is an intriguing psychological thriller that starts as a treatise on how well even best friends and neighbors truly know each other before turning into a taut chiller. The three females are fully developed while the support cast enhances the growing tension. Readers will appreciate Louise Miller’s thought-provoking drama as the masks slowly come off.

Harriet Klausner

Beef Stolen-Off-Liz Lipperman

Beef Stolen-Off

Liz Lipperman

Berkley, July 3 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780425251423

In Ranchero, Texas Jordan McAllister is the food columnist for The Ranchero Globe though she can't boil water without burning it and wants to cover the sports beat. Her column has a big readership so cattle baron Lucas Santana invites her to attend the Cattleman's Ball. He hopes a good review by her will increase beef sales hammered by the recession. To further insure she has a good time reflected in her column, he arranges for his ranch manager prime Texas beef Rusty Morales as her escort.

During dinner, Rusty feels ill. He steps outside for air with Jordan following him to make sure he is okay. Instead he dies. The autopsy reveals Rusty was poisoned. Jordon believes someone paid the waiter to add the toxin to either Rusty’s food or champagne. Lucas is euphoric with Jordan’s wrote-up; he invites her to his Santana Circle Ranch so she can taste a different beef recipe once a week. Her brother Danny, a law enforcement official, is sent to Ranchero to arrest those who are involved in cattle rustling, which makes the ranchers happy. Jordon provides her sibling with the clues that point him in the right direction though her actions come to the attention of a cold blooded killer.

The second complex Clueless Cook Mystery (see Liver Let Die) is an enjoyable cozy that sub-genre fans (even Vegans who should skip the recipes) will appreciate. The entertaining storyline contains red herrings and several suspicious characters. The key to the whodunit is that the heroine does not try to solve the homicide, but instead stumbles into the path of the murderer when she learns no good deed goes unpunished as she helps a friend with an alleged haunted house.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Never Tell-Alafair Burke

Never Tell

Alafair Burke

Harper, June 19 2012, $24.95

ISBN: 9780061999161

NYPD homicide detectives Ellie Hatcher and J.J. Rogan conduct a cursory inquiry into the death of sixteen year old Julie Whitmire before deciding the teen killed herself. Everyone else officially involved agrees with their assertion as the spoiled teen’s body was found with slashed wrists in a tub and her body was filled with drugs and alcohol, and she left a note behind. The case particularly hits home hard on Ellie’s psychic as a reminder that her father's death was ruled a suicide too.

Though her parents neglected their daughter in life except for material things and social status, they are affluent as Julie’s dad is a music bigwig. Julie’s mom who got homicide involved in the first place uses her influence again to get Hatcher and Rogan to look deeper as she swears her child would never kill herself. Hatcher and Rogan question Julie’s friends like Ramona though Ellie continues to believe a suicide occurred while J.J. has changed his minds.

The fourth Elle Hatcher police procedural (see 212) is an entertaining police procedural due mostly to the lead female cop unable to accept anything but a suicide even when evidence begins to point to murder and her partner is starting to lean in that direction. Hatcher’s stubbornness hurts their inquiry when she writes off clues. Ellie’s problems with her ADA boyfriend seems shallow when compared to stepparents raping their young and parents emancipating their teens who end up on the street Still this is a strong investigative thriller as Hatcher proves a major toad in the road.

Harriet Klausner

Plotting At The PTA-Laura Alden

Plotting At The PTA

Laura Alden

Obsidian, Jul 3 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780451237491

In Rynwood, Wisconsin, single mother of two children, Beth Kennedy serves as the Tarver Elementary PTA secretary and owns the Children's Bookshelf. Beth provides a special delivery service to customers who cannot get to her store. She delivers an order to Amy Jacobson only to learn the acrophobic recluse died from anaphylaxis shock due to bee stings. Stunned as Amy never went out in daylight, Beth is further worried as her customer was found by the neighbor’s dog holding a can of bee spray.

Concerned about anomalies Beth visits the police Chief Gus Eisler with her theory but he thinks she has had some lucky success (see Foul Play At The PTA) so he blows her off insisting she is looking for a homicide when none exists. Still doubting the official cause of death, Beth is approached by Maude, a resident at the Sunny Roof Assisted Living Center, to look into the “accidental” drowning death of her niece Kelly decades ago. Most of the townsfolk believe she committed suicide. Maude and Kelly’s mom think she was murdered by her longtime boyfriend who dumped her. Beth assumes there was no homicide until she learns Kelly and Amy were best friends. As she goes around Rynwood seeking clues, a vigillant killer watches her closely just in case she gets too close to the truth.

The latest PTA amateur sleuth (see Murder At The PTA) is an engaging whodunit as the heroine knows her customers so well she finds deviations in the “behavior” of Amy leading to her death. The heroine treats her two cases as separate inquires until she finds the surprising link between the deaths. Fans will enjoy Laura Alden’s complex murder mystery thankfully without a recall in sight.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, June 8, 2012

How To Dine On Killer Wine-Penny Warner

How To Dine On Killer Wine

Penny Warner

Obsidian, Jul 3 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780451237866

Based in San Francisco, Presley Parker’s event planning business is thriving in spite of the economy. Her latest job is at the Purple Grape winery in Napa Valley; as the owners Rob and Marie Christopher introduces their new wine. Besides Presley, connoisseurs and critics, the planner’s and her Alzheimer’s suffering mom attends.

Serene Napa Valley is filled with intrigued, doubles crosses and malicious gossip. One of the most persistent agitators is JoAnne Douglas, president of the Green Grape Association environmentalists. The activist believes the Christopher couple is destroying the environment with their new wine, which is not green enough. She causes a scene before the event; Rob gets rid of her but not before JoAnne threatens to devastate the gala. The event goes off perfectly; however afterward, JoAnne’s body is found under a table. The evidence points towards Rob so the police arrest him. Pressley believes he is innocent so she investigates but finds the victim had a valley full of enemies.

Putting aside that Pressley had no logical reason to investigate, the latest Party-Planning Mystery (see How To Party With A Killer Vampire) amateur sleuth fans will toast Penny Warner with killer wine for this strong whodunit filled with double and triples crosses. The heroine cannot stop herself from making inquiries; while her boyfriend crime scene cleaner Brad accepts her predilection though he hates the danger Presley places herself in. Her mom enhances the tale with her zany shenanigans. Readers will enjoy this engaging treat.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Far Side of the Sky-Daniel Kalla

The Far Side of the Sky

Daniel Kalla

Forge, June 5 2012, $26.99

ISBN: 9780765332332

In 1938 the Nazis deploy Kristallnacht murdering many Jews in Germany and Austria. Those who did not die in the “Night of Broken Glass” live in fear of repeat terrorism.

Adolf Eichmann orders Dr. Franz Adler to leave with his family immediately or he will join his late brother who died on that night of terror. The only place accepting Jewish refuges is Japanese-occupied Shanghai so Franz, accompanied by his daughter Hannah; his widowed sister-in-law Esther; and his gay friend Ernst head to China by sea. In Shangri, Adler meets nurse Soon Yi “Sunny” Mah at the hospital for Jewish refugees. As they fall in love, Adler struggles between the Hippocratic Oath and his family’s safety while the Japanese are making the Jewish stay in Shanghai increasingly dangerous.

This is a great historical thriller that focuses on an extremely dark era as readers see first-hand the suffering of the Jews and the Chinese. The key to this engaging WWII drama is that the various ethnic groups are filled with the good, the bad and the ugly as even in its darkest ethnic cleansing there are rays of light by brave souls risking their lives for strangers.

Harriet Klausner

One Breath Away-Heather Gudenkauf

One Breath Away

Heather Gudenkauf

Mira, Jun 26 2012, $15.95

ISBN: 9780778313656

In Broken Branch, Iowa, the elementary school children look forward to the end of the day as Spring Break begins. Eighth grade student Augie Baker calls her ailing mom Holly a thousand miles away to tell her she is locked in a closet and that a gunman has her brother P.J. and others held prisoner when shots are fired. Soon afterward school secretary Mrs. Lowell announces this is a code red lockdown. A gunman entered the school and now holds teacher Evelyn Oliver’s third grade class to include P.J. hostage.

The townsfolk panic over the children while Police Officer Meg Barrett tries to keep everyone calm though she knows she lacks the experience to work this situation. Augie’s grandfather Will Thwaite fears he will fail his daughter again if something happens to his grandchildren. Tension mounts while those outside try to identify the violent lone gun and ascertain who the real target(s) is.

One Breath Away grips the audience from the moment a frightened Augie calls her mom as shots are fired and never let’s go until the final confrontation. The rotating perspective makes the trauma even more frightening as actions and reactions seem real while the gunman remaining mysteriously unknown through much of the plot enhances the feeling of hopelessness. Filled with tension that constantly grows throughout, readers will appreciate this taut thriller as the worst nightmare of a parent and a town leaves everyone shook but bonded in the tragedy.

Harriet Klausner