Friday, September 26, 2014

To Dwell In Darkness-Deborah Crombie

To Dwell In Darkness
Deborah Crombie
Morrow, Sep 23 2014, $25.99
ISBN: 9780062271600

Save London’s History operatives toss a smoke bomb in the historical St. Pancras Station to disrupt a musical gala.  Instead of a harmless but frightening prank, the bomb injures a band manager Tam Moran and burns an unknown to an unidentifiable crisp.  Exiled to Camden, Detective Superintendent Duncan Kincaid leads the investigation.  Evidence points to former cop Ryan Marsh who initially was thought to be the victim.

At the same time, Duncan’s wife Detective Investigator Gemma James believes electronics shop clerk Dillon Underwood raped and killed tweener Mercy Johnson.  However, she struggles to find concrete evidence to put this deadly pedophile away before he harms or murders some other child.

Meanwhile their children find a momma with a litter of four newborns freezing in a locked shed.  They struggle with what to do with the five cats they rescued.


The sixteenth Kincaid- James British police procedural (see The Sound Of Broken Glass, No Mark Upon Her and Necessary As Blood) is an engaging mystery in which the married cops work separate cases while the kids add a personal touch to the mix.  Kincaid’s bombing inquiry is the stronger case as Deborah Crombie weaves history and architect into the investigation carried out by the DS and familiar officers.  James’ probe is well written but not as thrilling.


Harriet Klausner

The Deep End (A Casey Holland Mystery)-Debra Purdy Kong

The Deep End (A Casey Holland Mystery)
Debra Purdy Kong
TouchWood Editions, Sep 23 2014, $14.95
www.touchwoodeditions.com
ISBN: 9781771510936

In Vancouver, British Columbia, Mainland Security Specialist Casey Holland conducts surveillance of teen shoplifters who cleverly steal from the Gen Mart Department Store.  Her task is to follow them, but not to confront them.  Instead, the thieves mark her and attack her though she has no idea how they knew she was undercover.

Even with help from her boyfriend-roommate Lou, Casey also struggles with the behavior of her thirteen going on thirty years old ward Summer, whose mother is in prison.  Her biggest concern for the young teen is Summer’s older slimy boyfriend.

Casey also volunteers at Fraserview Youth Custody Center.  However, she is astonished when she knows one of the kids there; in trouble potentially for murder teenager Justin Sparrow, whose grandmother Amy is her friend.  The facility’s manager Mac Jorgeson suffers a fatal heart attack and too coincidental to ignore soon after another person employed there also dies.  Fearing for Justin’s safety, Casey investigates the deaths even while a third near fatality occurs.

The fourth Casey Holland Mystery (see The Opposite of Dark, Deadly Accusations and Beneath the Bleak New Moon) is an enjoyable tale starring a caring, nice (perhaps too nice) heroine who suffers bumps and bruises while working two violent cases.  Harder for Casey than the assault on her body is the “attack” on her mind by her ward.  Readers will dive into The Deep End even with no water in the pool.


Harriet Klausner

Martini Regrets-Phyllis Smallman

Martini Regrets
Phyllis Smallman
TouchWood Editions, Sep 23 2014, $14.95
www.touchwoodeditions.com
ISBN: 9781771510905

After having one last drink with a friend in Miami, Sherri Travis breaks her dad’s admonition to never drive across the Everglades at night.  However, she needs gas to complete her trek through the swamp to Jacaranda, Florida where she lives with her fiancé Clay Adams and owns the Sunset Bar and Grill.  At a station, she hears a boy pleading with the female attendant to save his life.  When she refuses, he hits Sherri and takes her car.  The girl is also gone as two “swamp rats” arrive.  Sherri takes cover in a pipe and then the swamp before finding a nursery with a murder victim inside.  She recovers her car and gets home, but vows to say nothing.

Sherri learns that the nursery was burned down with a couple inside dead.  She soon has a visit from the late nursery owner’s affluent brother Ethan seeking information on a special orchard his sibling allegedly possessed.  Helping Clay with his business and coming to the bar, enables Ethan to become part of their lives though Sherri wishes he would leave.  Ethan won’t because he knows the bartender is the last living person to have been in the nursery.

The latest Sherri Travis Mystery (see Highball Exit, A Brewski For The Old Man and Margarita Nights) is a twisting thriller filled with people ready to kill to possess a rare orchard.  The heroine’s time in the Glades is incredible as we will feel lost too; while her efforts to stay out of the mess fails because obsessive collectors know where she has been.  With an unexpected shocker and a reluctant amateur sleuth, Martini Regrets is a fantastic crime drama.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Hidden In The Stars-Robin Caroll

Hidden In The Stars
Robin Caroll
Abingdon, Sep 16 2014, $13.99
ISBN 9781426773600

The vicious assault against her and her mom in their home in Plano, Texas leaves Olympic-level gymnast Sophia Montgomery in an Arkansas hospital unable to speak due to larynx damage and aware her crushed hands will never allow her to compete ever again.  Police Detectives Julian Frazier and Brody Alexander lead the investigation that frustrates the victim and the cops.  Her grandmother Alena Borin visits Sophia who does not recognize the woman.  Lip reader Charlie Wallace arrives to interpret Sophia’s responses to Julian’s questions starting with the attack on her and Mamochka, and their demands that her mom give them something.  Julian tells her that her Mamochka is dead.

Worrying about Sophia’s safety as those who invaded her home thought she was dead, Julian wonders what the Russians wanted and how come the deceased was estranged from her own mother who refuses to talk about why.  Julian admires Sophia’s tenacity but denies he is falling in love.  As he and his partners work the case, Julian feels knowing what caused the estrangement is critical and clues may be found in a memorial quilt made by Mamochka.

The latest Quilts of Love inspirational (see A Grand Design by Amber Stockton and A Promise In Pieces by Emily T. Wierenga) is a terrific police procedural in which the past haunts the present and thereby impacts the future.  The cast is strong and the Russian intrigue adrenaline pumping.  The romance takes a backseat to the suspense as the hero insists the victim is a trauma patient needing protection not love; while he also struggles with his lost faith having blamed God for his late partner Eli’s death and fearing the same abandonment re Sophia. 


Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Cat In A Yellow Spotlight-Carole Nelson Douglas

Cat In A Yellow Spotlight
Carole Nelson Douglas
Wishlist Publishing, Aug 22 2014, $15.99
ISBN:  9781500926205

Two and a half decades ago, the great rock band Black & White was the hottest group around as everything they did went platinum.  However, superegos fueled by excess sex and overdosing on drugs led to the band’s bitter dissolving; though the two superstars (Chocolatte and French Vanilla) had great solo careers.

Now twenty-five years since the ugly public break-up, Black & White is in Vegas to perform a reunion event at the Crystal Phoenix.  The hotel’s boss lady Van Von Rhine tells her public relations consultant Temple Barr to babysit the group; especially the critical feuding two divas, ready to rage Chocolatte and paranoid frail French Vanilla.  When a corpse related to the band is found, LVPD Lieutenant Molina investigates; while Temple’s feline protector Midnight Louie, Miss Midnight Louise and the cat crew also make inquiries, in the feline’s case to insure their favorite PR guru remains safe.

The latest Midnight Louie anthropomorphic mystery (see Cat In A Vegas Gold Vendetta, Cat In A White Tie And Tails and Cat In An Alien X-ray) is a deadly rock and roll reunion tale filled with taut twists (including Kitty the Cutter) and pop culture trivia.  Temple keeps the prime storyline focused, although the divas headline this show with their behavior; while series fans will enjoy the antics of the father and daughter feline duet working their tails off investigating the murder.


Harriet Klausner

To Hell And Gone In Texas-Russ Hall

To Hell And Gone In Texas
Russ Hall
Red Adept Publishing, Sep 4 2014, $13.99
www.redadeptpublishing
ISBN: 9781940215334

Travis County Sheriff Clayton and his deputies barely are at the gruesome crime scene in which a father and his two adult sons were decapitated when ICE agent Jaime Avila takes over the investigation.  Soon afterward, Clayton calls his retired former sheriff's detective Al Quinn to inform him that his estranged brother Maury has been hospitalized, and the Austin City Homicide cops are treating it as an attempted murder.  Reluctantly he arrives at the hospital where his former prom date so many years ago towering Detective Ferguson Jergens guards Maury.  Having not spoken in two decades to Maury, he is stunned to see how frail his sibling is and shocked that he took three Viagra pills in spite of a heart problem preventing his obtaining a prescription.

When a second attempt at murdering Maury occurs; Al puts aside his animosity and fishing to take his brother to his secluded lakeside house.  However, Al’s home no longer is secluded as Avila arrives and insists Maury turn informant.  Fergie investigates several murders tied to sex addicted Maury and arson burns down Al's house; while the Los Zetas Mexican mob adds to the sibling tsuris.

To Hell And Gone In Texas is an exciting action-packed crime thriller with a fabulous late twist.  Quinn is the taciturn reluctant hero who knows his insides are emotionally scarred while Maury shares his DNA but passionately leaps into the inferno as he believes The Gods Must Be Crazy 2.  The support cast and locale add depth to a suspenseful Lone Star State mystery.

Harriet Klausner



Monday, September 22, 2014

Fiction River: Past Crimes-Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Kathryn Rusch (Editors)

Fiction River: Past Crimes
Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Kathryn Rusch (Editors)
WMG Publications, Oct 1 2014, $15.99
www.wmgpublishinginc.com
ISBN: 9781561466061

“Stolen In Passing” by Dory Crowe.  In 1857, the slave catchers arrive at Cape Cod in pursuit of a runaway; unaware why here.

“New World Gambles” by Leah Cutter.  As the Canadian-Pacific is built, with a Tong connection Mei works tables in Victoria.

“The Bank Teller” by Jamie McNabb.  He left Puget Sound for five years, but in 1901 returns seeking revenge against those who shanghaied him.

“An Education For Thursday” by Dean Wesley Smith.  Arriving in Delamar, Idaho Angela seeks revenge against two rapists.

“The Curious Case Of The Ha’Penny Detective” by Lee Allred.  In 1923 on the Canadian Pacific, Drennen and Nevins discuss Professor Chase. 

“The Horns Of Hather” by Richard Quarry.  Decreeing all will worship Aten, the Pharaoh sends Chenzira to stop the Festival of Opet.

“Impressions” by Lisa Silverthorne.  In 1780s London, as a child he saw his first death mask; as an adult he hunts this serial killer.

“The Raiders” by Cat Rambo.  In 1858, he met the pickpocket in New York; they meet again as POWs in Andersonville.

“The Monster In Our Midst” by Kris Nelscott.  In 1918 Arkansas, Lureen sends a postcard depicting a lynching to Emerson in Atlanta.

“Blood And Lightning On The Newport Highway” by M. Elizabeth Castle.  The Revenuer returns to Knoxville with plans for the nearby moonshiners.

“Deathmobile” by Michelle Lang.  In 1977 Long Island, Mr. Deathmobile threatens Little Rocky and Tony. 

“The Stonewall Rat” by JC Andrijesdi.  Working for the mob, he and his partner seek the informer at the gay establishment when a kid arrives; soon afterward the police raid the place.

Meeting the exceptional quality of previous anthologies, this collection contains excellent Past Crimes short stories.


Harriet Klausner

Sunday, September 21, 2014

A Death On Sunday-Tish Owen

A Death On Sunday
Tish Owen
Willow Tree Press/E.M.A. Mysteries, Jul 29 2014, $16.95
ISBN: 9781937778194

Maher Investigates sleuth Tessely Anne Marie Maher cherishes brunch with her extended family at her mommy’s home.  However, this time a long-distance shot is fired towards the house; Tess’ best friend Chick Donnelly falls out of a tree dead.  Near his body are drawings he made of his beloved Tess.

Although Chick’s death may have been a freakish hunting accident; Tess, her brother County Sheriff Connell Maher and their father the former sheriff believe a professional hit occurred though none of them can fathom why.  The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation sends Agents Lyle and Boyd to take charge of the homicide inquiry based on Chick’s alleged drug dealings.  They warn the Maher family to stay out of their case or face charges of interference in an official state investigation.  Firmly believing that grieving Tess murdered her lover over drug money, the TBI cops look nowhere else for the killer.  Knowing she will be railroaded, Tess, with help from her family and friends, stealthily conducts her own inquiry seeking a motive including Chick’s business, Donnelly Repair and Restoration.

Putting aside that a family of cops and a private eye fail to obtain a lawyer with TBI focused solely on Tess, A Death On Sunday is a terrific whodunit as the homicide is personal.  Mourning her loss, Tess’ chats with the late Chick feel genuine and add depth to an engaging investigation in which the heroine works around the Knoxville stereotyped obnoxious outsiders.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, September 20, 2014

The Eyes Of Aurora- Albert A. Bell, Jr.

The Eyes Of Aurora
Albert A. Bell, Jr.
Perseverance: Sep 9 2014 $15.95
ISBN: 9781564745491

At the Centumviral Court, Gaius Pliny successfully prosecutes the case for his future mother-in-law Pompeia Celerina against rival defense Marcus Regulus who represented Quintus Vibius.  Pliny’s martinet mother and Pompeia host a victory celebration that includes toasting the upcoming wedding between their children though Pliny loves his slave Aurora instead of his wealthy beautiful fiancée Livilla.

Aurora recently met impoverished Crispina and her ailing son.  She persuades Pliny and his friend Tacitus to accompany her in order to help Crispina.  When they arrive at Crispina’s home, they find neither her nor her son in residence; left behind is an enigmatic word square.  The trio soon finds out that raging Regulus arrived before them and a further search of the grounds reveals a decapitated female body.  Horrified by the gruesome sight of a headless corpse, Aurora and Pliny find comfort with each.

The fifth Notebooks of Pliny the Younger (see The Corpus Conundrum and Death in the Ashes) is a twisting complicated Ancient Rome revenge thriller with additional stunning spins in the protagonist’s personal relationships.  Although the case turns overly byzantine, readers will relish traveling the Ostian Way; escorted by Pliny and Aurora.


Harriet Klausner

Shadows on a Maine Christmas: An Antique Print Mystery-Lea Wait

Shadows on a Maine Christmas: An Antique Print Mystery
Lea Wait
Perseverance, Sep 9 2014, $15.95
ISBN 9781564745477

Lovers Will Brower resides in Maine while antique dealer Maggie Summer lives in New Jersey.  Besides the issues of a long distance relationship, the couple disagrees over adopting a child.  Will insists never; while Maggie may soon raise a little girl or two young sisters.  However, the couple agrees to share a Maine Christmas.

Maggie the obsessive anxiety queen fears when she tells her beloved about the potential adoption, he will kick her butt back to the Garden State.  She adores the way he cares for his ailing Aunt Nettie, but panics his caretaking blinds him to nurturing others.  She also frets over his desire to remain in the Pine Tree State as affirmed by Will his seeking to buy a home.  However, Maggie biggest consternation is that she lost her Will to realtor Jo Heartwood.  Needing to forget her trepidations, Maggie wonders what Aunt Nettie and her longtime friends imply criminally happened when they were much younger.  When someone murders geriatric nurse Carrie Folk; Maggie, Maine State Trooper Nick Strait and Aunt Nettie investigate especially after learning that the victim was a blackmailer.

Returning to Maine (see Shadows on the Coast of Maine and Shadows of a Down East Summer), the seventh Antique Print cozy (see Shadows on a Cape Cod Wedding) is an enjoyable entry in which the secondary elderly characters especially one with dementia own the storyline.  The homicide investigation begins late though the informal inquiry into what happened decades ago starts very early; as Lea Wait provides a deep look at senior citizen mental health, abortion and adoption. 


Harriet Klausner

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Wet Work-Les Roberts

Wet Work
Les Roberts
Gray & Company, Publishers; Sep 1 2014, $14.95
ISBN: 9781938441547

After leaving Youngstown, Ohio for the military, Dominick Candiotti learned to kill in Viet Nam as a Phoenix Force Wet Work assassin.  Decades later with no family living and calling himself Douglas, he works for the Brownstone Agency on a fee for kill of internal enemies of the country.  His handler Og has one rule: complete the kill but never repeat the same M.O.

His current hit is Father Joseph Benveniste of St. Catherine’s Catholic Church in Philadelphia.  Though he completes the assignment following his confessional, this assassination affects Douglas differently than his previous hits since going on commission five years ago.  He wonders if killing a priest reminds him too much of the murder of his brother Father Richard (see The Strange Death of Father Candy) and besides there is no justification for murdering people like Father Joseph who were no threat to America.  When Douglas informs Og he is retiring, his handler believes the one way a hired gun quits is in a coffin.  Thus several of his peers come after Douglas.

Giving Cleveland detective Milan Jacovich a breather, Les Roberts writes an action-packed thriller in Dominick Candiotti’s second appearance.  The hero reminds me of a composite of Charles Bronson’s The Mechanic and Sylvester Stallone’s Assassins.  Although not for anyone with a squeamish stomach as the amount of blood flow would turn Lake Erie into the Red Sea, readers will enjoy this tense suspense.


Harriet Klausner

Ensconced- M. E. May

Ensconced
M. E. May
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, Feb 16, 2014, $14.95
ISBN: 9781494461911

Teenage brothers Tommy and Bobby Sturgen went fishing on Eagle Creek Reservoir when the latter’s special fly became entangled.  Ignoring his older sibling’s admonitions, Bobby jumped into the water to free it because this was the last one his late grandfather gave him.  When Bobby failed to surface, Tommy jumped in and rescued him.  Both saw the fly entangled with a car.  They call the Sheriff’s Department who send Fire Department divers to the reservoir.  The submerged vehicle contains the remains of Wendy Matherson who vanished without a trace a decade ago.

Missing Persons’ Sergeant Benjamin Jacobs and Detective Tyrone Mayhew, whose wife just gave birth to their fourth child (and their first daughter), work the cold case.  This was Tyrone’s first investigation in which he and his partner looked at the husband Reid but found no evidence of foul play.  The three sons reacted differently to their mom’s disappearance.  The oldest mid-twenties Tanner attends Ohio State’s pharmacy graduate program; the middle child twentyish Ryan has an aerospace degree and is an Air Force officer; the youngest teenage Jared has emotional issues while failing at everything.  After talking with the four males and others, the detectives believe Jared may have suppressed memories of what happened.  However, someone wants the case to remain frozen so threaten to harm Ben and Tyrone’s loved ones.

The third Circle City police procedural (see Perfidy and Inconspicuous) is a terse suspense as the villain targets civilian family members to force the cops and others off the investigation.  Fast-paced from start to finish, the subgenre audience will enjoy Ensconced (superb ironic title) even though we identify the villain before the detectives do.


Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Mad Dog Justice-Mark Rubinstein

Mad Dog Justice
Mark Rubinstein
Thunder Lake Press, Sep 1 2014, $12.99
www.thunderlakepress.com
ISBN: 9780985626808

Surgeon Roddy “Mad Dog” Dolan and Accountant Danny Burns were best friends for over three decades ago going back to when they were in high school.  They partnered with an acquaintance from their salad days Kenny Egan investing in McLaughlin’s restaurant.  However, Kenny’s investment funds were borrowed from the mob; who had other plans for McLaughlin’s.  Ten months ago, Roddy and Danny killed Kenny and a demanding “investor” John Grange as well as their friendship before leaving the restaurant business (see Mad Dog House).

Ten months later, Danny’s wife Angie worries about her husband whose tension is stratospheric.  While she pleads with him to come home from work, someone shoots him.  At the hospital Yonkers PD Detective Harvey Morgan leads the investigation as fortunate Danny recovers at the hospital.  Not long afterward in the parking garage at Lawrence Hospital, Roddy heads to his car only to see someone shoot and kill anesthesiologist Walt McKay parked near him.  Morgan questions him; while Roddy, hiding the truth from everyone, concludes he must bring Mad Dog Justice to those stalking him, his friend and potentially their families 

The second action-packed Mad Dog urban thriller is a tense gritty entry with the consequences of what the two BFFs did continuing to haunt them; as Shakespeare said in Julius Caesar: "The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones."  Mark Rubenstein provides an insightful morality play with trust and betrayal as key recurring themes.  With a strong support cast and powerful opposites in personality leads, fans will enjoy Mad Dog Justice but should read the opening act first.

Harriet Klausner

Phantom Limb: A Daniel Rinaldi Mystery-Dennis Palumbo

Phantom Limb: A Daniel Rinaldi Mystery
Dennis Palumbo
Poisoned Pen, Sep 1 2014, $24.95
ISBN 9781464202568

In Pittsburgh, Lisa Harland, a former Playboy centerfold three decades ago and a failed starlet when she was still a Campbell, visits the office of Dr. Daniel Rinaldi.  Married to much older wheelchair-bound and affluent Charles, Lisa tells the psychologist she shortly plans to commit suicide.  Daniel desperately tries to persuade her not to kill herself.

Not long afterward Pittsburgh PD informs Daniel that someone kidnapped Lisa outside his office.  A consultant to PPD, Daniel may have important information on the victim’s state of mind just prior to her abduction, but is hesitant to say anything due to patient confidentiality.  Selected by the kidnapper to do the ransom drop, Daniel arrives at the Harland estate where he finds a dysfunctional untrustworthy extended family.  As he works with the gloomy Harland brood and PPD, Daniel also fears for another patient, a potentially suicidal veteran.

The fourth Daniel Rinaldi mystery (see Fever Dream and Mirror Image), is an enjoyable police procedural as once again the protagonist, as happened in Night Terrors, struggles between patient confidentiality and law enforcement needs with a life at stake.  Fast-paced throughout, readers will appreciate this terrific twisting thriller as seen through the observant eyes of Dr. Rinaldi.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Auditory Viewpoint- Lillian R. Melendez

Auditory Viewpoint
Lillian R. Melendez
Black Rose Writing, Jul 25 2013, $14.95
www.blackrosewriting.com
ISBN: 9781612962115

New Jersey radio talk show host Gloria Rank uses her four working senses at a very high degree of capacity to ignore her being blind since birth.  When someone steals her sister Anna’s identity, she turns to Gloria for help.  They report the theft to the cops and Gloria asks a former guest on her show, computer security analyst Benjamin Taylor, for assistance in what they should do, identifying who the thief is and how they obtained access into Anna’s bank account. 

When someone leaves a corpse at Anna’s door, FBI Agent Sanchez investigates with the younger Rank sister as a suspect.  Gloria mentors her sibling to rely on her other senses more than just sight to uncover the identity of the thieves even as their inquiry leads them to cross the Hudson at the same time more bodies engulf the sisters. 

This frightening thriller will stun readers with its caveat emptor insight into the electronic scams used to steal information and what the victim of such a crime must do to halt this intrusion and prevent future thefts.  Gloria is a wonderful protagonist who teaches Anna and readers how to not just rely mostly on sight, but to maximize all of your senses independently and in collaboration.  The sleuthing (by the sisters and Benjamin) and the serial killer segue add suspense; while how to maximize your environmental perceptions provides depth to the key cast.  Still it is the astonishing acumen into what to do when your identity is stolen that grips the audience and makes a person consider turning into an electronic hermit.

Harriet Klausner

The Edison Effect: A Professor Bradshaw Mystery-Bernadette Pajer

The Edison Effect: A Professor Bradshaw Mystery
Bernadette Pajer
Poisoned Pen, Sep 1 2014, $24.95
ISBN 9781464202520

In 1903 Seattle, renowned inventor Thomas Edison arrives at the University of Washington office of electrical engineering Professor Benjamin Bradshaw.  The Wizard of Menlo Park demands Bradshaw assist him in retrieving a dangerous gizmo from Elliot Bay.  Bradshaw respects Edison’s brilliance but distrusts him as avarice and ruthless; so he refuses to help him obtain the gadget invented by a former student of the professor, Oscar Daulton.

Meanwhile at the Bon Marché Department Store, an electrician dies while holding onto Edison’s Christmas lights.  Bradshaw, Henry Pratt and SPD Detective O’Brien investigate the death.  At the same time, a widower with a single child, Bradshaw struggles between his religion and his love for Missouri.

The fine fourth Professor Bradshaw early twentieth century historical (see A Spark Of Death, Fatal Induction and Capacity for Murder) is made fresh by the unflinching look at the complex Edison.  The wizard lives up to his mantra of “Success is 10 percent inspiration and 90 percent perspiration”; but a major part of the 90% includes mercilessness in his dealings with others.  Readers who accept that portrayal will enjoy the Edison Effect on Bradshaw and others.


Harriet Klausner

Monday, September 8, 2014

Death in the Dolomites: A Rick Montoya Italian Mystery-David P. Wagner

Death in the Dolomites: A Rick Montoya Italian Mystery
David P. Wagner
Poisoned Pen, Sep 1 2014, $24.95
ISBN 9781464202728

Translator Rick Montoya leaves Rome for a skiing vacation in Campiglio.  However, when American banker Cameron Taylor vanishes while also at the ski resort, Inspector Luca Albani, aware of Rick’s assistance to the Tuscany police (see Cold Tuscan Stone), asks for his help.  Rick agrees to join the inquiry as long as it does not interfere with his R&R.

Several witnesses insist they saw Cameron head to the slopes, but none including his sister recall seeing him return to the lodge.  Meanwhile, someone wanting Rick to stay out of the investigation, attacks him while he skis and a lookalike is stabbed.  This plus the discovery of a corpse leads to Rick taking the case more seriously as he wonders who gains from murder.

The second Rick Montoya Italian investigation is an engaging whodunit though the Alpine cuisine supersedes the case and even the skiing.  Even though the mystery is shortchanged for much of the storyline by Rick’s vacation, Death in the Dolomites remains a well-written tale.


Harriet Klausner

Sunday, September 7, 2014

The Drop-Dennis LeHane

The Drop
Dennis LeHane
Morrow, Sep 2 2014, $14.99
ISBN 9780062365446

Just two days after Christmas and with Little Christmas still to come in the Flats, lonely Cousin Marv’s bartender Bob Saginowski heads home after his shift ends.  He stops when he hears a whimpering noise.  Bob rescues a battered abandoned puppy from a trash can belonging to Nadia Dunn who takes a picture of the bartender and his new companion he names Rocco.

Nadia helps Bob with Rocco but insane Eric Deeds demands they give him the canine as he insists the dog is his.  At the same, Marv, who lost ownership of his former dive to Chechen financiers, struggles with a lack of funds and much more.  When masked men rob the bar of 5K, the angry owners target the financially strapped cousins as the most likely thieves.

Tied to a not yet released movie, which in turn is based on the short story “Animal Rescue” (see Boston Noir), The Drop is a stark gritty look at the Boston underbelly.  Most of the cast is nasty and greedy as if human DNA is imprinted to take advantage and harm others; in contrast to caring Bob.  Faster than a Celtic fast-break during the Rondo and the Big Three era, readers will enjoy this dark look at Boston’s meanest vilest streets.

Harriet Klausner

The Manhattan Puzzle-Laurence O’Bryan

The Manhattan Puzzle
Laurence O’Bryan
Avon, Oct 10, 2013, $12.99
ISBN 9781847562906

In Manhattan, Lord Bidener observes his euphoric sadistic assistant Xena salivating while torturing BXH security chief Hare.  Using a torch on him, Hare begs for mercy before he gives up the international firm’s codes.  Once they have what they wanted, vicious Xena slowly guts him. 

In London Isabel Ryan worries that her husband Sean failed to come home.  When the police demand she tell them where her spouse is as he is linked to a homicide in New York, her concern for his safety goes viral.  Isabel fears their work for BXH re the symbol may have left her spouse in peril.  Following her instincts to rescue her mate and also break the ancient code, Isabel leaves their four years old son Alek safe with a close friend before flying to New York in search of Sean.  Meanwhile Sean, held captive by those who also frame him with murder of Hare, realizes his hosts enjoy inflicting pain on others and will have no compunctions abducting and torturing him or his wife. 

The 3rd Ryan Puzzle suspense (see Istanbul Puzzle and The Jerusalem Puzzle) is an exciting over the top of the Empire State Building Brownian thriller.  Isobel is a solid lead though her Energizer Bunny stamina seems doubtful even fueled by adrenaline and coffee; while the villains are caricatures of psychopaths. 

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Stalkers-Paul Finch

Stalkers
Paul Finch
Avon, Feb 14 2013, $14.99
ISBN 9780007492299

Britain's National Crime Group Detective Sergeant Mark Heckenberg works alone as he has for several years on the disappearances of over three dozen successful and seemingly contented women throughout England and Wales.  Although diligent on following up on any potential lead, Heck has made no progress with his investigation while wondering why his superiors have not launched a major inquiry involving massive manpower.  Instead of helping Heck, to his outraged consternation the brass closes the case.

Placed on leave, a fuming Heck continues his probe into finding the missing women, but without official authorization and its accompanying restraints.  Searching for her vanished sibling, military veteran Lauren Wraxford teams up with Heck.  They soon learn of the Nice Guys Club with apparent ties to the National Crime Group.  This enterprise sells female captives to affluent clients to do what they want with them before killing their used commodity. 

This British investigative tale starts off as a police procedural, but quickly turns into a lone wolf and sidekick thriller.  Heck is conscientious, but should have been more frustrated even before his case was officially ended; while rightfully aggressive Lauren proves his better as she brings out the best (and worst) in him.  The over the top of the Tower of London sinisterly conspiracy drama is entertaining while condemning leaders preferring to ignore the violence against women and hate crimes against other groups (think of the 2012 reauthorization debate re VAWA renewal).


Harriet Klausner