Archive for August, 2008

Blinded by the Light-Morgan Hunt

August 31, 2008

Blinded by the Light

Morgan Hunt

Alyson, Books, Aug 2008, $14.95

ISBN: 1593500858

 

After battling cancer, nothing bothers Tess Camillo because she realizes the only thing that matters is the cliché of living life to the fullest.  Of course she would like a job since the firm she worked for downsized her.  When her friend Beth Butler offers her work refining software for her company in New Mexico Tess grabs it.

 

After Tess is through working at the Bryce Corporation she and Beth decide to visit the Lightning Field; conceptual art that at dawn and dusk turns into a masterpiece and during a storm is incredibly beautiful.  They stay at a cabin shared with four other people; they begin to bond after witnessing the Lightning Field at night.  However, the next morning Tess sees a body of one of the other guests in the field.  The medical examiner decides it is a homicide from an electrical gadget like a taser of cattle prod.  Beth has a taser and her fingerprints are the only ones on it.  When Beth is arrested, Tess investigates because she knows her friend is innocent.

 

Morgan Hunt has written an excellent amateur sleuth tale filled with plenty of red herrings and surprising plausible twists.  A subplot involving a bit of romance eases some of the tension, but the methodical investigation by Tess is what the tale is all about; in fact the kind hearted woman should consider going professional as she does a great job seeking the real culprit. Ms. Hunt is a great mystery writer

 

Harriet Klausner

Exposed-Alex Kava

August 29, 2008

Exposed

Alex Kava

Mira, Oct 2008, $24.95

ISBN: 0778325571

 

In Quantico, Virginia FBI special agent Maggie O’Dell and her boss Assistant Director Cunningham receive a note from “God” telling them not to miss a crash at 13949 Elk Grove.  They race to the site where they find a dying woman from what appears to be a deadly contagion; also there is a frightened young girl Mary Louise who vomits all over them.  They quickly take the pair to the secret U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Ft Detrick.  Maggie and Cunningham are quarantined there to insure they were not exposed to hemorrhagic fever virus.

 

Maggie’s partner, Agent R.J. Tully investigates the case based on the little information the frustrated O’Dell provides while she remains in a secure area.  The culprit seems to be working randomly across the United States using the murderous signatures of infamous serial killers, but no pattern has emerged linking the victims even as the body count rises.

 

This is a terrific entry in the O’Dell FBI cases as the heroine, probably EXPOSED, is forced to help from the sidelines while her partner works the field.  The story line is fast-paced but as always character driven from the moment Maggie fears she ate a poisoned donut and never slows down as “God” threatens the children.  Although the scenario with taunting bragging serial killers has been done before; merging it with possible biological terrorism refreshes the theme.  Alex Kava writes a winning thriller.

 

Harriet Klausner

The Blessed-Lisa T. Bergren

August 29, 2008

The Blessed

Lisa T. Bergren

Berkley, Sep 2008, $24.95

ISBN: 9780425223420

 

The Gifted are a group of thirteen men, women and children from all walks of life; each endowed with a gift from God who sends them on a mission.  According to a glass map they must travel to Avignon where the papacy is headquartered.  They have a message to deliver to Pope Cornelius, but the evil men endowed with the Dark One’s powers try to prevent them from reaching him.  Vincenzo de Bruce and his mentor Abramo fail n their attempt to kill them.

 

Daria D’Angelo who was betrayed by her Uncle Vincenzo is a healer who when demonstrated God’s powers she seems to convert most who observe her. The defection of her uncle hurts her badly and she hates Abramo who held her prisoner doing horrific things to her.  She and the other Gifted know what awaits them in Avignon; corruption of the Cardinals by their enemies and influencing the pope byf the Gifted who now have a loyal following from believers.  A showdown is coming with the Gifted praying they are victorious.

 

The third tale in the Gifted trilogy (see BETRAYED and BEGOTTEN) comes to a glorious finish.  The de facto leader of the group is Daria, a strong independent woman who willingly suffers for God, but remains steadfast in her love and worship of Him.  Besides wanting to clean out the depraved at the papal Court, the Gifted believe that the Word needs to be spoken in the native dialect and a worshipper do not a middle man priest to pray to God.  This religious thriller is enthralling, filled with action and fascinating characters, and many messages, not all subtle, for the reader to ponder.

 

Harriet Klausner

Treasure of Eden-S.L. Linnea

August 28, 2008

Treasure of Eden

S.L. Linnea

St. Martin’s, Oct 2008, $6.99

ISBN: 0312942168

 

Army chaplain Jaime Richards arranges for him to do occasional special projects for Eden where she spent three years learning eternal secrets.  Her current task is to escort to safety Edenite Dr. Andrea Farmer to the World Economic Summit in Davos, Switzerland in time to prevent fiscal subversion destroying the international monetary system.

 

Corrupt CIA Political Officer Frank McMillan, a member of the Geneva Terrorism Task Force, believes the Garden of Eden exists and has some circumstantial evidence that ties Jaime to the biblical Garden.  When the legendary Treasure of Eden surfaces with an artifact put up for bid on eBay, he no longer has doubts about either of his assertions.  He plans to kidnap Jamie and torture her if need be into telling him everything she knows about Eden.

 

The latest frenetic action packed Eden thriller (see CHASING EDEN and BEYOND EDEN) is a terrific tale that combines biblical references with modern day intrigue.  The story line grips the audience from the onset as McMillan’s plans are revealed to the reader and never slows down as an incredible amount of escapades occur in an extremely short time span.  Jaime is a fabulous protagonist holding the plot together as S.L. Linnea puts her through enough adventures to turn Job into a doubter.  This is a superb entry in a fascinating saga.

 

Harriet Klausner

The Glass of Time-Michael Cox

August 26, 2008

The Glass of Time

Michael Cox

Norton, Oct 2008, $24.95

ISBN: 0393067734

 

In 1876, her Parisian guardian Madame de L’Orme directs nineteen years old orphan Esperanza Gorst to obtain work as a lady’s maid at the home of widow Baroness Tansor.  The teen succeeds though she remains ignorant of what the “Great Task” is all about.  Still she tries to masquerade as a maid at Evenwood.

 

However, everyone can see through her disguise as she has all the qualities of a lady and none of a servant.  The two Tansor sons, Perseus and Randolph court her while Esperanza becomes closer to her employer.  Shockingly Esperanza realizes the Baroness still grieves the death of her fiancé Phoebus Daunt murdered by Edward Glyver over 20 years ago.  While still putting on a pretense though all know otherwise, Esperanza still wonders why Madame sent her undercover inside of Evenwood.

 

The irony of the well written exciting Victorian thriller is those who read the first tale (see THE MEANING OF NIGHT) will know a lot more of what is happening than the bewildered Esperanza as that previous tale serves as a key to the GLASS OF TIME.  Michael Cox displays his skills with that clever spin, but newcomers will enjoy THE GLASS OF TIME too because of how the author intertwines the previous plot into this story line.  Readers will enjoy a great historical brilliantly enacted.

 

Harriet Klausner

The King of Ragtime-Larry Karp

August 26, 2008

The King of Ragtime

Larry Karp

Poisoned Pen, Oct 2008, $24.95

ISBN: 9781590585269

 

In 1916 in Manhattan a dying Scott Joplin knows he is running out of time to insure his wife Lottie is financially set and to gain his place in the music pantheon. It deeply disturbs him that he believes Irving Berlin cheated him from credit for some work stolen from him; still he has written a musical that he hopes Waterson, Berlin, and Snyder Music Publishers will want to use.  Piano student Martin Niederhoffer offers to bring the two men together as he takes lessons from Joplin and works for Berlin.

 

The meeting proves futile as Joplin accuses Berlin of stealing his work.  Soon afterward Martin finds Joplin holding a straight razor while standing over the murdered body of Martin’s peer Sid Altman..  Joplin claims his innocence and Martin needs to believe him.  Nell Stanley, daughter of a former Joplin publisher, hides him while the cops want him for questioning.  Martin hires hit man Footsie Vinny to pressure Berlin into giving up the musical play Joplin says he left with him, but Berlin denies it.  Things turn uglier when thugs kidnap Martin’s girlfriend.

 

The second Joplin historical mystery (see THE RAGTIME KID) is a fascinating look at the Manhattan music world during WWI.  The story line is a bit loose, but readers will enjoy the wild ride anyway as real figures like Joplin and Berlin come to life beyond the legend.  The amateur sleuthing is fun to follow but it is the obsessed with insuring for Lottie’s future and how history recalls him Joplin who turns this whodunit into a concerto performance.

 

Harriet Klausner


Blood Moon-M.R. Sellars

August 26, 2008

Blood Moon

M.R. Sellars

WillowTree, Oct 2008, $14.95

ISBN: 9780979453335

 

Pagan witch Rowan Gant and his wife Felicity are there when their special friend FBI agent Constance Mendility is shot by Felicity’s half sister Annalise Devereaux.  She was the host for the evil spirit Miranda and taking advantage of the fact she and Felicity look so much alike she made it seem like her sibling was the killer and the one into BDSM.  Miranda wants to leave Annalise to ride Felicity, but Rowen prevents the switch from happening.  In fact both witches need a holiday from all the trauma they have been intwined in lately.  Rowan, a medium who communicates with the dead, vows not to listen to them anymore because his efforts only lead to trouble for him and his wife.

 

Unfortunately Rowen misunderstands communication is two way and the deceased refuse to honor his wishes.  One particularly insistent spirit wants to talk to Rowan.  Detective Ben Storm thinks it is a young woman who wears a puncture mark on her neck and the blood from her body drained.  Rowan relcutantly acqueices and learns another body with the same markings is waiting to be found.  When a third woman vanishes, the niece of Christian fundamentalist Captain Barbara Albright, who insists Rowan is a devil worshipper, she pulls strings to get him to search for her relative.  Rowan places himself in danger in an attempt to end the serial killings.

 

As usual, the Rowan Gant paranormal mystery is a thrill to read as psychic and magical powers play key roles in polcie investiagtions.  Rowan wants to walk away from his responsibilities which physcially shows up with blinding headaches and bleeding, but knows he cannot as he is needed.  With a bit of humor mostly to ease the stess levels of readers, , BLOOD MOON is another superb paranormal whodunit. This great Gant novel is a must read.

 

Harriet Klausner

The Bone Box-Bob Hosteler

August 25, 2008

The Bone Box

Bob Hosteler

Howard (Simon & Schuster), Oct 2008, $13.99

ISBN: 1416566473

 

As he works in Israel with his long time friend Yigal Havner, archeologist Randall Bullock continues to grieve the death of his wife; killed by a drunken driver.  Nothing interests him until Yigal informs him of a cave in at a park project in Jerusalem.  The authorities need an expert to evaluate and evacuate the site.  The widower agrees to lead the dig.

 

Israeli Antiques Authority agent Miri Sharon works alongside the American when they uncover an incredible find; a stone casket etched with “Joseph, son of Caiaphas” on the outside containing scrolls that document the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  While the pair is euphoric his estranged nineteen year old daughter Tracey, expelled from Rothan College in Ohio, arrives in Jerusalem to join her dad who was never there for her; not even at her mom’s funeral as he came too late.  Soon the trio is on the run from those who want their discovery interred.  At the same time they are fleeing the threesome also tries to confirm their find even as the agnostic American archeologist begins to question his personal belief system.

 

This is an exciting religious thriller that puts a different spin to the typical Brownian theme.  The story line is fast-paced from the moment the troubled Randall and Miri make their find and never slows down.  Having Tracey join them adds to the deep look at the obsessive disturbed hero; but one must wonder why she was expelled rather than counseled especially since she is grieving while another student involved was allowed to remain in school because her dad showed up to defend her.  Still, minor quibbles aside, readers will enjoy this fine thriller as the find has Randall questioning himself even while many want their proof buried along with the archeologist and his female partners.

 

Harriet Klausner

Immunity-Lori Andrews

August 24, 2008

Immunity

Lori Andrews

St. Martin’s, Sep 2008, $24.95

ISBN: 0312352727

 

DEA Agents Ted Silliman and Castro Baxter are part of a joint workforce with the Las Vegas Police Department investigating the use of the date rape drug “J”; the victims end up in many cases mutilated and dead.  Evidence leads to the Fantasy Resort owned by septuagenarian Frankie “The Bayonet” DiBondi, but it makes no sense for him to deal with an illegal relatively minor remittance when his legal brothel brings in a million declared dollars a month and who knows how much of the profit iceberg remains beneath the surface.  Still they follow DiBondi onto an Indian Reservation when Ted suddenly goes into convulsions and dies.

 

The official response is an overdose of cocaine, but Castro rejects it as inane because he knew his partner and knows what a cocaine death looks like.  Armed Forces Institute of Pathology Dr. Alex Blake conducts an autopsy and agrees with Castro.  She believes Simmons died from his body violently reacting with a hyper-immune response.  Soon afterward his corpse disappears and DEA grabs the autopsy results and all related information to the Simmons’ death.  Teaming up with Castro, Alex learns of eight other identical deaths on that same night that all tie back to a fountain in a Taos, New Mexico public square.  Based on unnamed government sources the media blames Native American radical rights group Red Rights for introducing a new “silent assassin” disease into the drinking water as a widening epidemic seems imminent with new deaths; shockingly Homeland Security chief Martin Kincade demands Blake and Castro back down or else.

 

This exhilarating conspiratorial thriller will grip readers with the opening prologue when the seemingly healthy but tired Silliman suddenly convulses.  The story line is fast-paced and filled with plenty of action and strong characters (including the lead duo) with personal agendas; these protagonists represent real groups goals such as denoting Native American issues and signifying Homeland Security leaderships’ self interest goals.  Readers will enjoy the latest AFIP adventure.

 

Harriet Klausner


Body In the Record Room-Joe Barone

August 24, 2008

Body In the Record Room

Joe Barone

Dunne, Oct 2008

ISBN: 0312384106

 

In 1954 at the Sunrise Mental Institute, Roy Rogers is a patient; not the movie star, but someone who took his name to emulate the western actor’s doing good deeds.  Roy the patient enjoys sneaking in the record room to look at the files.  He and his sidekick Harry enter only to find the battered corpse of elderly Father Coonie.  Instead of notifying the Little Man who runs the place, Roy persuades Harry to bury the priest in the stables.

 

Roy investigates and learns Coonie’s tied to Marcia Weinhart, who was murdered two decades earlier.  A second murder occurs when someone murders Father Hogan.  With help from asylum worker Nancy Jane and some of the patients, Roy begins to put together who killed the two fathers and how it ties back to the unsolved cold case homicide of Marcia.

 

This engaging historical amateur sleuth tale provides readers deep insight into the mindset of mentally ill people and the mega-hospital asylums where many lived.  Roy is a fascinating lead character as he tries to live up to the moral mantra set by the actor.  At times Roy preaches about the legacy of Reagan and subsequent administrations that the politicians prefer to ignore; condemning the avarice that slowly eroded mental health assistance to those in need.  A female patient explains she is safe at Sunrise due to Dr. “Little Man”, but once the bigwigs shut the facility as she expects she will live homeless under a bridge waiting until the rapes begin.

 

Harriet Klausner