Archive for July, 2008

The Mystery of Hamlin Square-Chet Cunningham

July 29, 2008

The Mystery of Hamlin Square

Chet Cunningham

Five Star, Aug 2008, $25.95

ISBN: 1594146691

 

Cal Winters arrives in Hamlin Springs, Tennessee with no money.  He obtains work at Hamlin’s General Store owned by ninety-three year old former U of T professor Madelyn Housefelter; she also provides him with a place to sleep.  He hides from her and the other townsfolk his real reason for coming to this remote mountain village.  His recently deceased grandma pleaded with him to learn what happened to his relatives who owned property here only to vanish without a trace in 1919.

 

Although the vanishing occurred eight decades, his name upsets several local people who know what happened back then and how they gained from it.  Three men harass him and he is accused of setting two fires.  However, he soon realizes one of the men giving him trouble is running a child porn operation.  However Cal makes some progress on his quest, but will need cooperation from the leading families to solve what happened.

 

THE MYSTERY OF HAMLIN SQUARE is superb when the mystery focuses on Cal’s inquiries into what happened to his ancestors; when the plot tries to make Cal look guilty as an arsonist and his involvement in uncovering a child porn ring, it subtracts from the strong core tale of what occurred eighty years ago.  Still this is an entertaining look at how the residents of a small town react to the stranger with the surname that haunts the founding families.

 

Harriet Klausner

Out of Time-Samantha Graves

July 28, 2008

Out of Time

Samantha Graves

Forever, Aug 2008, $6.99

ISBN: 0446618373

 

Harlem’s Linden Museum curator Jillian Talbot inherited her psychic gift, but always believed no one outside her family knew of their skills. Her ability to see an object or person’s past benefits her work at the museum. 

 

Once an artifact stealer, Simon Bonner never planned to return to field work.  However, his tomb raiding rival, a severely wounded Jackson informs him that his ex wife Celina is being used as a hostage to force him back into robbing tombs.  His assignment to obtain an ancient crystal lens and abduct Jillian, who the blackmailer believes is the seer that a prophecy claims she can find buried archeological booty.  Apparently the extortionist has ruthless Kesel working the abduction too as Simon barely keeps Jillian from being snatched.  He persuades her to join with him as they play a ten days maximum game of cat and mice in Mexico with one known deadly opponent and several unknown adversaries who change the rules to fit their requirement of win at all costs to others.

 

OUT OF TIME is a fabulous romantic suspense with a touch of the paranormal.  The lead couple is a terrific pairing of opposites as she sees the goodness in everyone and everything while he finds everyone evil and everything ugly.  Their differences make for a strong thriller as they perceive their opponents differently as Simon thinks she is naive and Jillian believes he is cynical.  Fans will appreciate this fine psychic tomb raiding thriller and seek out SIGHT UNSEEN starring Jillian’s thief of a sister.

 

Harriet Klausner

Seduced by the Storm-Sydney Croft

July 28, 2008

Seduced by the Storm

Sydney Croft

Delta, Aug 2008, $13.00

ISBN: 9780385340823

 

Estimates are the weather machine can easily destroy half the earth.  Thus his superiors at the Agency for Covert Rare Operatives (ACRO) order American operative Wyatt Kennedy to destroy the machine before pandemic destruction is unleashed.  At the same, The Aquarius Group (TAG) sends biokinetic agent Englishwoman Faith Black to obtain the weather machine for they have plans for this device.

 

In a bar, Wyatt and Faith meet and are immensely attracted to one another; they enjoy the tryst and though each wants more, both assume th9s is a one night stand.  However, they are each concerned when they realize they are after the same target for different handlers with differing objectives.  Still they team up with neither fully trusting the other once they gain the machine.  In between dodging assassins, they share heated lovemaking with both wondering how their heart will survive the betrayal each expects from the other or themselves.

 

The third stormy romantic suspense erotic fantasy (see UNLEASHING THE STORM and RIDING THE STORM) is a superb espionage thriller in which two special agents falling in love while seeking the same gizmo but work for opposite camps.  The story line is fast-paced, but it is the relationship between the ACRO and TAG agents that make for an entertaining tale work as each battle the hurricane of the century on the United States east coast with an eye on their hearts.

 

Harriet Klausner

Dial Me for Murder-Amanda Matetsky

July 28, 2008

Dial Me for Murder

Amanda Matetsky

Berkley, Sep 2008, $6.99

ISBN: 9780425220504

 

At a time when most women stayed home to take care of their husband and kids, Paige Turner broke the gender barrier by becoming the first female True Crime writer at Daring Detective magazine.  The men in the office make her life there miserable, but her stories have increased circulation so her editor gives her freedom to cover what she wants.  She becomes interested in the case of Virginia Pruitt whose nude body was found in Central Park alongside expensive jewelry and a fur coat.  Sabrina Stanhope asks Paige to solve Virginia’s murder.

 

Curious, Paige visits Sabrina who informs her that Virginia worked as a secretary during the day and a call girl at night.  She also admits she was Virginia’s Madame arranging “dates” for Melody, as the victim was known professionally.  Three customers used Melody’s services with Paige stunned that the Manhattan D.A. is one of them; mob connected singer and movie star Tony Morona is the second; the third man is the real stunner as Oliver Rice Harrington is her boss’ boss.  Paige investigates all three men until a leak leads to her being fired even as she finds a second murdered call girl.  As she gets closer to uncovering the identity of the culprit, she almost gets killed doing so.

 

Occurring in the 1950s, readers obtain an interesting look at an era when women are moving away from the assembly lines of WWII and back into running households; in some ways this feels like ancient history as Amanda Matetsky brings the Ike age alive.  DIAL ME FOR MURDER is actually an exciting historical journalistic investigative tale starring a brave reporter used to being treated like a pariah for doing her job; so jumping into trouble is the heroine’s norm as that is life in the office.  Filled with humor and insight from a zany cast that affirms we’ve come a long way since the days when the only acceptable professions for women were female unique jobs like wife, nurse, secretary and hooker inside a fun whodunit.

 

Harriet Klausner

Breaking Cover-J.D. Rhoades

July 27, 2008

Breaking Cover

J.D. Rhoades

St. Martin’s, Jul 2008, $25.95

ISBN: 0312371551

 

In Pine Bluff, North Carolina, undercover FBI agent Tony Wolf using the name Sanders faces a morality issue.  He has infiltrated the meth dealing vicious Brotherhood, but just saw one of two young brothers Evan and Earl Powell, whose posters with their faces on it begs “Have you seen us?”  If he follows the van to rescue the child four years of hard dangerous work vanish and he becomes an open target and perhaps his wife too of the brutal Trent trio who lead the Brotherhood who are after him already; if he does not the kids are probably dead after suffering from abuse.

 

However the decision is easy; Wolf follows the vehicle and rescues the kids from their abductor.  Now he has surfaced due to a TV reporter; the Trent brothers who loath him for what he did to their empire already send their minions, which includes Feds, after him.  Trusting no one except himself, this lone wolf prepares for war.

 

While Jack Keller takes a SAFE AND SOUND breather, J.D. Rhodes provides a an action-packed Carolina thriller that grips the audience from the opening scene and never lets go as readers will find their adrenalin levels off the charts.  Wolf is terrific as he does the right thing with an understanding that the road to hell is paved with good intentions; in his case a good deed means he will spend more than just A GOOD DAY IN HELL as the devils will come after him.  Although the story line requires disregarding the logic gaps, the enthralled audience will relish this action-packed thriller (Governor Arnold has his next role).

 

It’s a Crime-Jacqueline Carey

July 27, 2008

It’s a Crime

Jacqueline Carey

Ballantine, Aug 2008, $24.00

ISBN: 034545992X

 

LinkAge Telecom accountant Frank Foy is convicted of fraud and sent to prison.  His wife Pat, a landscape designer, rejects his guilt; insisting a simple mistake occurred.  Obsessed while living with their teenage daughter Ruby, Pat decides to prove her spouse’s innocence based on his explanation that fixing the numbers is standard acceptable accounting practice in the United States.  She plans to make remittance to the victims.

 

Her efforts prove overwhelmingly futile but lead her former best friend Ginny Howley and her first lover Lemuel Samuel to offer to help her; although both mystery writers are victims of the firm’s collapse.  Along with his teenage son and Ruby, they try to persuade Pat that Frank is guilty and deserves jail time for all the people he hurt.

 

Echoes of Enron and Arthur Anderson run throughout this unusual character driven tale of five people impacted by the fraud.  The cast is solid although the changing perspectives can prove overwhelming and subtract from the morality tale of minimally correcting wrongs.  Still this is an interesting look at the business of business in the Bush Era in which the White House and Congress are located on Wall St.

 

Harriet Klausner

The Lace Reader-Brunonia Barry

July 27, 2008

The Lace Reader

Brunonia Barry

Morrow, Jul 29 2008, $24.95

ISBN: 9780061624766

 

She left her hometown of Salem, Massachusetts when she was eighteen years old due to a tragedy she believes she caused.  Like all her female relatives Towner Whitney can read the future using lace.  However, she vowed never again when her lace reading led to her twin sister Lyndley’s death and put her mental well being on the brink of collapse with selective amnesia perhaps keeping her somewhat sane.

 

Now years away from Salem and the memory of that trauma, Towner returns home because her beloved Great Aunt Eva vanished.  Soon afterward the drowned body of the first Lace Reader is found.  Towner has no doubts some anti-paranormal fanatic like born again former alcoholic Preacher Cal killed Eva; everyone else assumes she is off her rocker again.  Still she plans to learn who murdered her aunt even though it means reading the Lace for the first time since Lyndley died.  Ex NYPD Detective turned Salem cop John Rafferty officially investigates the case though he is increasingly convinced an accident happened even as he is attracted to the enigmatic Towner.

 

THE LACE READER is a fabulous whodunit that cleverly uses differing perspectives of the same events to keep the audience somewhat off-balance, but totally engrossed.  The story line is character driven especially by Towner and John, but also by secondary players like Cal and Towner’s reclusive mom.  Each sees the death through the relative personal bias.  Brunonia Barry provides a deep Salem thriller in which readers will keep pondering that truth is in the eyes of the beholder.

 

Harriet Klausner

Merciless-Robin Parrish

July 27, 2008

Merciless

Robin Parrish

Bethany House, Jul 2008, $19.99

ISBN: 9780764201790

 

From beneath the Taurus Mountains in Turkey, he climbs upward taking the DarkWorld with him.  He is aware of his bloody future and the human sacrifices by the Secretum of Six, but is indifferent.  His container awaits him on the surface; Grant Borrows will serve fittingly as his vehicle just like the naive Dominion Ring wearer’s late sister was once used.  Oblivion will soon surface and the end of days, not that fake propaganda found in Christian literature misinterpreting Armageddon, will begin when time stops.

 

Oblivion reaches the acme of the Hollow to the euphoric rejoicing of his Bringer, the Secretum of Six, who insured the Millenia aged prophesy of the end occurs.  His body denotes instant death when excited Angela upon seeing her God reaches out to touch him.  Oblivion begins his MERCILESS final trek to fulfill his destiny.  However for the first time Secretum leader Devlin has doubts as Oblivion did not even notice his touch killed Angela and his comment of unworthy frightens the human.  Still they follow their prophet, who says the DarkWorld has surfaced with him.  Only the Ring of Dominion Bearers might be able to prevent the end of the world, but they feel like doubting David without a slingshot as each realizes the earth has changed for the worse as he is coming causing chaos and death in his wake.

 

Though there is a one page recap and this final tale can stand alone, to fully appreciate this excellent different Christian end of the world thriller, it behooves the reader to first peruse RELENTLESS and FEARLESS.  The story is action-packed from the opening climb until the final confrontation between good and evil; but this is no Jesus arriving to save the day from Lucifer climax.  Few if any villains are as amoral as Oblivion the MERCILESS is as humans are not even roach level to him.  Robin Parrish, with this superb exciting trilogy, has brought freshness to a genre which suffered from a smug sameness to the biblical end of days’ saga.

 

Harriet Klausner

Six-Gun Two-Step-William C. Duncan

July 26, 2008

Six-Gun Two-Step

William C. Duncan

PublishAmerica, Sep 2007

ISBN: 1424186099

 

In Cleveland, Timmy Thomas supports his slight drug habit as a two bit neighborhood dealer.  He has no ambition to go up the illegal drug selling pyramid.  His girlfriend Sandy went to the apartment of their dealers Bam and Susie both of whom are dead; she from an overdose and he from blowing out his brains.  She grabs two bags filled with the white powder she cam to purchase and flees the death scene.

 

Sandy tells Timmy, who suddenly gains ambition as he sees a chance for a big score.  Not sure how to sell so much, he enlists exotic dancer Glendy to assist him.  However, their efforts upset the major gang dealers especially the Guatemalans, whose supply they stole.  The pair flee to New York planning to hook up with the mob there, but things just get worse as he gets hooked on his product and back in Ohio an even deadlier gang than the Guatemalans demand he hand them his goods or else; two other gangs show interest too.

 

This is a fascinating look at the supply and demand of illegal drug economics although the realistic cast of a zillion participants can be difficult to keep score.  When the tale switches into a terrorist plot to destroy the Cleveland area, it loses steam as that seems surreal.  Still this is an interesting glimpse at a two step player foolishly dealing with six-gun gangs even if the gangbangers’ cumulative IQs sum in double digits.

 

Harriet Klausner

Robert Ludlam’s the Bourne Sanction-Eric Van Lustbader

July 26, 2008

Robert Ludlam’s the Bourne Sanction

Eric Van Lustbader

Grand Central, Jul 29 2008, $25.95

ISBN: 0446539864

 

Still reeling from the death of Martin, Moira Trevor asks her friend Jason Bourne who is David Webb in his office at Georgetown University.  Jason explains David is a widower and a father of two children who live in Canada with their maternal grandparents as he wants them as far away from the BOURNE LEGACY as possible.  He tells Moira that he returned to the teaching position as head of Comparative Linguistics Department, a role his late wife Marie loved for him, Moira’s anodyne is go back to field work, which is why she has come to visit him.  Her employer NextGen Energy Solutions fears a terrorist attack at the Long Beach port.

 

However, not too long after returning to his Professor Webb persona, Bourne is bored with normalcy.  He informs his academic mentor Professor Dominic Specter only to see two thugs grab the man; Bourne rescues him.   Specter explains his father died fighting the Eastern Brotherhood, Muslims who claim since WWII to want to fit in peacefully with the West, but who are terrorist known as the Black Legion.  He asks Bourne to kill leader Semion Icoupov who has started a terrorist plot to devastate America that has begun the countdown with the murder of an associate Pyotr by Leonid Arkadin.

 

This is an exciting entry in the Bourne saga as the action starts from the moment Webb meets Specter for coffee and never slows down until the final Treadstone-Conklin coda.  The story line is fast-paced though the European connection with WW II roots seems a bit over the Alps.  Still no one will care as the Bourne adrenalin flows with he doing what he does best battling bad guys to prevent a terrorist attack; unable to wait for High Noon with an assassin sent to murder him.

 

Harriet Klausner