June 18, 2013
More Bitter Than Death
Camilla Grebe & Asa Traff; Paul Norlen (translator)
Simon & Schuster, Jun 18 2013, $16.00
In the Stockholm suburb of Gustavsberg, a man breaks into a home in which five-years old Tilda is coloring under the table. He batters Tilda’s mother and drags her body out of kitchen while a trail of blood follows them. She is witness to her mom’s murder, but she never saw the killer except from far below in her special coloring place.
Two months earlier in Stockholm, as a favor to their college mentor and friend Vijay, psychologists Siri Bergman and Aina Davidson host a support group for abused woman. Kattis tells the participants of her abusive relationship with Henrik. Soon afterward he dumps her for Susanne. Kattis believes the violent Henrik killed his latest lover. Bergman suspects Henrik too until another group attendee Malin provides reasons why she could be the killer.
The second Siri Bergman psychological suspense (see Some Kind of Peace) is an entertaining dark Swedish thriller starring a psychologist who hears the first hand accounts of the brutal side of love through her patients. The profound look into women’s issues should be required reading by politicians, but the depth also decelerates the intriguing intertwining mystery.
June 18, 2013
Death of the Demon
Anne Holt; Anne Bruce (translator)
Scribner, Jun 18 2013, $16.00
Twelve year old Olav is sent to live in a group foster home with seven other children just outside Oslo because his mother could no longer deal with his hideous behavior. The home’s director Agnes Vestavik quickly realizes her newest charge is a troubled tweener, but she apparently underestimates how disturbed he is. Soon after Olav’s arrival, someone stabs to death Vestavik; the prime suspect is Olav who has vanished.
Hanne Wilhelmsen knows she is unsuited for her latest position as an Oslo Police Chief Inspector since the job requires political finesse, sharing information with staff and delegating duties to subordinates; key factors she prefers to ignore. With Detective Billy T., Hanne looks into the foster home’s employees while much of the force search for Olav who seeks his mother. At the same time her longtime partner Cecilie wants them to have a child.
The latest Hanne Wilhelmsen Norwegian police procedural (see 1222, Blind Goddess and Blessed Are Those Who Thirst) is a fascinating murder mystery that provides a powerful spotlight on when the country’s foster child system fails. Action-packed on both her professional and personal fronts as the protagonist distrusts everyone even her lover and her best friend, readers will enjoy this Norwegian Noir.
June 16, 2013
Fade To Black
JournalStone, Jun 14 2013, $15.00
In Fallujah twenty-six years old U.S. Marine Sergeant Casey Stillman knows he must remain icy calm so his younger men don’t panic while trapped in a lethal shootout with insurgents willing to die to kill the Americans. He fears he will never see his baby Claire or his wife Pam again, but must get them out of his head so he remains focused on him and his fellow marines surviving.
Jack screams that he has been shot. His wife Pam wakes him from a nightmare that seems so real he is bleeding. Shocked by how vivid his dream was, Jack the science teacher thought he was in combat as a marine trapped by Iraqi insurgents, but realizes he is home with his two beloved girls. However, news coverage of Fallujah frightens Jack who believes he is losing his mind as he knows too much about the marines dying on the streets while also even scarier he believes that his two females are unsafe.
Rotating between the States and Iraq, this terrific taut thriller will haunt readers with its deep comparisons while making a case that most home front Americans invested nothing in the Iraq War not even taxes though our economy eventually paid the price when the credit card came due. Character driven by the two male leads, the exciting storyline keeps the reader guessing as to what is happening to Jack and/or Casey with a terrific climax that brings the intertwined two subplots together.
June 16, 2013
A Man of Indeterminate Value
Barricade Books, Jun 16 2013, $16.95
In New Jersey, Wall Streeter Jack Madson knew he must die when the SEC indicted him for improprieties. He planned is demise perfectly as he wants to escape his life. After killing himself, Jack leaves behind a non-grieving family he hates; a corporate raider job he hates; a mountain of debt to foster his family’s lifestyle he hates; and illegal selling of intellectual property to the Chinese he loves.
Jack travels to Mexico to begin a new life living off the 2.5 million he made with the Chinese while his wife and daughter would benefit from his firm Nu-Gen’s insurance policy. However, across the border he soon finds himself without a penny as his partner left him with zilch. Needing cash means returning to Wall St.to break into the Nu-Gen biological medical information worth a fortune. While his partner and an insurance examiner pursue Jack with the former wanting to bury him and the later wanting to incarcerate him; corpses seem to follow him too.
This gritty thriller stars a fascinating introspective protagonist whose personal values had been usurped by his adopting the Wall St. bottom line greed value of profit with any cost to someone else as his own. Though one must wonder how Jack the suit survives his new world order; and with a nod to Hugo’s Les Miserable (Jack has his own inspector stalking him), fans will appreciate this dark crime thriller.
June 16, 2013
The Plague Within
Lawrence W. Gold, M.D.
Grass Valley Publishing, Jun 1 2013, $14.99
At Berkeley’s Brier Hospital, the ER recommends surgery for teacher Rachel Palmer as she suffers from a ruptured diverticulum, but afterward the patient continues to suffer from peritonitis, abscesses and other internal problems. Dr. Jack Byrnes recommends surgery again, which Rachel’s husband Tom and her father Richard Clarke reluctantly agree; but her mom Maxine says they should pursue alternative medicine.
Maxine wins the debate as the family insists on using an experimental antibiotic CT 1356. However, Rachel shows a major allergic reaction to the drug that if allowed to continue will kill her. Maxine goes ballistic when Jack decides to end the injections and perform surgery. Meanwhile new staff member Dr. Harmony Lane takes a short cut treating very ill patients like Rachel and Sandy Greer with early stages experimental PAT0075 over the objection of Jack.
The Plague Within is an exciting medical thriller that has the audience feeling we are at Brier Hospital (see The Sixth Sense for a previous visit). With an underlying message of doing full valid and reliable testing, the fast-paced storyline grips the reader as research shortcuts leave patients dying from the cure.
June 15, 2013
Murdock Tackles Taos
Robert J. Ray
Camel, Jun 15 2013, $16.95
On Angel Mountain near Taos, New Mexico, Matt Murdock tackles hiker Helene Steinbeck just before an arrow flies right where she had been standing. She lands on the corpse of a female while he explains two or three hunters want to make her and now him too their trophies. He shoots both of them. As the pair flees, a spotter makes a call.
He explains to her he is a private investigator searching for friends’ missing daughter, Barbi Bellini who vanished without a trace three weeks ago from an artists’ colony in which all of them insist she was never there. A daughter of an NYPD cop, Helene joins Matt on his mission as they are now prey for hunters who seek out the weak in “The Most Dangerous Game” (Richard Connell); while having affluent connections.
The latest Matt Murdock Mystery (see Murdock for Hire and Bloody Murdock) is an exhilarating thriller that grips the audience from the opening shooting sequence to the final confrontation with a vile villain whose amoral behavior is summed up in a shocking coda. With a fast-paced investigation and romance, readers will enjoy the thrilling Murdock Tackles Taos.
June 15, 2013
Death, Taxes, And Hot Pink Leg Warmers
St. Martin’s, Jun 4 2013, $7.99
In Dallas, Treasury Department Criminal Investigation Team field operative Tara Holloway learns two things on her recent assignment: do not trust grannies with baseball bats and how hard her head is. Tara must be in court due to her role in the “Tennis Racketeers” tax evasion mortgage fraud.
Her field assignment is undercover at the Guys and Dolls strip joint to uncover unreported income earned from the sales of drugs and sex. Tara relishes this bookkeeping assignment as this may be the only place at this time in which she and Special Agent Nick Pratt can begin a relationship that both want. However someone wanting her dead intrudes on her desires and her ex reenters the picture (or not?).
The latest Tara Holloway IRS criminal investigation (see Death, Taxes, and a Skinny No-Whip Latte; and Death, Taxes, and a French Manicure) is an engaging thriller filled with humor and dangerous issues involving unreported income. Ironically, the storyline inductively shows the timeline to bring a novel to print as the reference to Josh Hamilton (bat that Granny used) has him still as a Ranger but he left for the Angels). Fans will enjoy Tara’s latest cases as she works to bring down the sleaze and her relationships at the same time.
June 14, 2013
Kristine Kathryn Rusch
WMG Publishing, Apr 25 2013, $14.99
Moira Clarkson drives through the Nevada desert heading to Hawthorne, Nevada in a vehicle that should have been scrapped two years ago. She is accompanied by little Kasey who holds on to her Barbie doll as her only friend in the world. Thirsty, hungry and tired, Moira finds the isolated town disconcerting with bombshells as lawn ornaments, but having lived near Fort McCoy she understands the influence of Hawthorne Army depot and Ammunition Dump though the town is nothing like Sparta, Wisconsin or other military locations.
She reaches her destination, the home of her former Wisconsin neighbor Gary Storvick. He initially does not recognize her, knows the kid is not his and wants her to leave before his wife Jenny comes home to ask questions. However, he soon realizes she is the victim girl he felt sorry for when he lived near Fort McCoy, but still wants her gone ASAP so he plans to give her some money. However, she has a goal that involves allegedly stolen money from the military and the trail leads to Gary.
Spree is an exciting crime thriller that purposely starts slowly, but accelerates as readers realize talented Kristine Kathryn Rusch sets us up with a super spin. Moira is a terrific protagonist who makes Spree a winner as everyone who meets her concludes she is a victim and needs to help her.
June 13, 2013
Crown, Jun 4 2013, $24.00
In Dallas, the Doll Maker sends his nephew Valon Lumani to abduct Vanessa Michael Monroe, but warns him to be on alert as this woman can kill with her hands within a nanosecond. He succeeds in snatching her in front of her lover Miles Bradford. At about the same time the Doll Maker also arranges the kidnapping of Michael’s best friend Logan to insure she behaves.
Valon Lumani escorts Michael to Zagreb, Croatia where his uncle the Doll Maker tells their captive she will deliver live merchandise to a customer to repay the debt. A professional killing machine, she does the Doll Maker’s bidding after he shows her a video of a battered Logan. Michael knows the time to repay the debt will come, but believes Miles and his employees need time to rescue Logan.
The third Vanessa Michael Munroe gritty noir (see The Informationist and The Innocent) is a dark thriller due to a sociopathic vile trafficker and a psychopathic heroine dancing a deadly tango. Perhaps the key difference between them is she tries to keep the innocent out of the fight while he willingly, even going out of his way, sacrifices the innocent as expendables. Readers will appreciate the grim The Doll from the opening abduction to the final confrontation.
June 12, 2013
Sniper Elite One Way Trip
Scott McEwen with Thomas Koloniar
Touchstone, Jun 4 2013, $26.99
In Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan Warrant Officers Sandra Brux and Billy Mitchell fly their UH-60M Black Hawk as Night Stalker pilots of the 160th Special Operations Aviation regiment. They were part of a rehearsal exercise but on the ground within so-called secure lines when an attack occurs. The Taliban kill the Rangers and grab Brux as a prize since she is the first female pilot of this elite unit. They take her into the Hindu Kush.
Claiming to be the target of an illegal kidnapping by her associates, Hezb-e Islamic Khalis leader Asdif Kohistani questions Brux on CIA activity. A video arrives in DC showing a raping of Brux that angers the female Speaker of the House who wants the 24 million ransom demand paid. The CIA wants a black ops rescue, but the Commander In Chief feels the risk to great so says no. The Special Ops forces believe POTUS fears the risk to his reelection and not to those willing to die to bring home a sister in arms. Special Ops sniper Gil Shannon is home in Montana when his friend Chief Steelyard informs him to expect the CIA to bring together the SOG to mount a rescue. Knowing time is of the essence, Shannon, Steelyard and a peer Crosswright, along with Tajik fighters go rogue to mount an extraction inside hostile territory.
This is an exciting action-packed military thriller once the players are set. The combat scenes are brutally realistic as blood and gore flow. While the heroes, Brux and Kohistani are full blooded, those in DC seem like political caricatures. Sniper Elite One Way Trip is a superb tale especially in Afghanistan.