Archive for September, 2008

The Lover’s Knot-Clare O’Donahue

September 30, 2008

The Lover’s Knot

Clare O’Donahue

Plume, Sep 2008, $13.00

ISBN: 9780452289796


Twenty something Manhattan based publisher Nell Fitzgerald is stunned when her fiancé Ryan informs her he is not ready to marry.  Upset, she decides to leave town to visit her grandma Eleanor Cassidy in Archer’s Rest to help her elderly relative recover from a nasty fall and somewhat based on the lovely wedding quilt her grandmother and Friday Night Quilt Club made for her. 


Eleanor, who owns Someday Quilts, hires local handyman Marc Reed to expand her store.  He outrageously flirts with the newcomer and Nell enjoys his attention.  Ryan arrives and ends up brawling with Marc over Nell.  Soon after their fight, someone scissors Marc to death at Someday Quilts.  Local police chief widower Jesse Dewalt investigates knowing many of the townsfolk hared the womanizing Marc and is aware of the brawl with Ryan, who wants Nell back.  Instead she tries to prove his innocence one stitch at a time.


This is an engaging Hudson River Valley amateur sleuth that will remind cozy fans of authors like Maggie Sefton.  Although Nell has no experience and no cause to investigate placing herself in danger, she makes for a fine detective.  Lighthearted fun as the relationship triangle (to include Jesse not Marc) supersedes the mystery.


Harriet Klausner


The Black Cloister-Melanie Dobson

September 30, 2008

The Black Cloister

Melanie Dobson

Kregel, Jun 2008, $13.99

ISBN: 9780825424434


In 1991 when Elise Friedman turned eight her mom Catrina suddenly died.  Raised by an adoptive father Steve, she grew up wondering about her biological dad and her mom’s life in Germany before coming to the States.  She especially thought about reasons her mom left her homeland.


Now seventeen years later, Elise obsesses over knowing the truth.  In Berlin Elise meets her mom’s best friend Ambassador Addison Wade, showing the stunned older woman a photo of Addison with Catrina.  Addison wants to ignore Elise as she has buried the past especially since her next post will be American Ambassador to the UN.  Elise explains discrepancies in her mom’s past and Steve’s story. Reluctantly Addison, understanding the resolute visitor and fearing for her going solo, takes her to Heidelberg where the quest of the Chosen began.


THE BLACK CLOISTER is a fascinating look at a cult from several perspectives.  The story line is fast-paced from the moment a determined Elise arrives in Berlin and never slows with one twist after another as the danger mounts.  Steve’s refusal to explain anything leaves Elise taking risks that turn her into a target; yet remaining true to his vows just seems wrong.  Still this exhilarating thriller will hook the audience as the present inquiry into the past turns dangerous.


Harriet Klausner


The Memorist-M.J. Rose

September 30, 2008

The Memorist

M.J. Rose

Mira, Nov 2008, $24.95

ISBN: 0778325849


As a youngster, Meer Logan only drew pictures of what looked like a treasure chest.  Her family obviously noticing the pattern asked her why she insisted on drawing only this object.  Meer explained that she had seen it before although no one including her could figure out when; her parents assumed it was youthful imagination though they were somewhat concerned with her seemingly compulsive behavior disorder.


Now an adult, Meer’s sixty-five year old dad Jeremy, known as the “Jewish Indiana Jones” and who works in a Vienna auction house found the box listed in an auction catalogue.  Inside the box is a letter that leads Jeremy to conclude that the artifact once was owned by Beethoven’s beloved.  Meer heads to Austria where memories flood her mind starting with the same flute tune that makes her wonder if she was Beethoven’s lover in a previous life.  As father and daughter seek a mystical flute, a murder and the stealing of the box and its letter makers both of them fear someone has a different fate in store for them.


THE MEMORIST is much more complex than the exhilarating THE REINCARNATIONIST, as M.J. Rose provides a superb thriller.  There are several subplots that converge on Meer who like her dad begins to believe in her previous life.  Meer, her dad and several other support players are fully developed so that the audience believes in all the seemingly paranormal nuances.  Set aside plenty of time as this is not a fast read, but worth the time as THE MEMORIST is memorable.


Harriet Klausner


Night of the Furies-David Angsten

September 30, 2008

Night of the Furies

David Angsten

Dunne, Oct 2008, $24.95

ISBN: 9780312373702


Recent college grad Jack Duran feels fortunate to have survived his week long Mexican vacation in which he searched for his missing sibling Dan.  During his week stay south of the border, he eluded the lethal man-eating manta ray “El Diablo Blanco”, avoided becoming the sacrifice of the devil-worshipping Punta Perdida villagers, and evaded Argonaut gold seeking killers (see DARK GOLD).


In Greece, Jack finally catches up with his brother, and Dan’s Dutch girlfriend archeologist Phoebe Auerbach.  The trio visits the Oracle at Delphi where they hope to learn the facts the truth behind the legendary Eleusinian Mysteries that celebrated Demeter and Persephone.  Instead the threesome learn little new about their quest, but instead meet violent sexually abusive women whose Dionysian orgies are deadly.  When a homicide occurs, the local Greek police suspect Jack and Dan as the killers.


As with BLACK GOLD, David Angsten provides an action-packed over the top campy thriller that never takes itself seriously as the brothers Duran leap from one harrowing incident to another.  However, Dan and especially Phoebe are underdeveloped so the winks behind the fast-paced plot never feel complete.  Still, this is an exhilarating series of cliffhangers mindful of Indiana Jones.


Harriet Klausner

Undercover Angel-Karen Wiesner

September 30, 2008

Undercover Angel

Karen Wiesner

Whiskey Creek, Oct 2008

ISBN: 1603132740


Network short term operations chief Shannon McKee supervises the daily actions of the organization whose mission is to eliminate evil villains.  However, she also has a personal agenda though she refuses to let her obsession interfere with the work of the Network.  Instead she has patiently waited for the right time to annihilate drug kingpin Mareno Ortega, whom she holds culpable for the overdose death of her brother.


The opportunity arises so Shannon jumps at it; going undercover to bring down Ortega.  Her former lover ex SEAL Captain and now Network lead strategist Ron Blair worries about the woman he loves when he learns of her mission.  Meanwhile Shannon is stunned that the monster she thought Ortega to be is also kind and caring to his children.  If she is not careful she will see the other side of Ortega while Ron plans on rescuing his woman and saving his heart with the latter mission much more complicated.


The seventh Incognito thriller is a superb tale due to the characterizations that make the fast paced story line so much more exciting.  Shannon and Ron are a fully developed couple with issues while Ortega is a complete adversary who shows a soft side as much as his tough exterior.  UNDERCOVER ANGEL is a great entry in a consistently excellent series.


Harriet Klausner

The Other Side of Silence-Bill Pronzini

September 30, 2008

The Other Side of Silence

Bill Pronzini

Walker, Oct 5 2008, $24.00

ISBN: 9780802717139


Since his son’s death and the consequential breakup of his marriage, corporate security specialist Rick Fallon is a loner.  Thus when he goes camping in the Mohave Desert, he goes by himself.  In fact he selects an isolated section of Death Valley so climatically anti-human no one will disturb him.


However to his chagrin he is not alone as he finds an abandoned car with a suicide note on it.  Frantic Casey Dunbar has given up on life after spending the past few months futilely searching for her eight year old son, abducted by his father, her former husband Court Spicer.  Rick finds her and saves her life to her bitterness and outrage.  She explains that adding to her frustration and hopelessness is the knowledge her ex spouse couldn’t give a sh*t about his offspring; instead his objective is to destroy her, which he has succeeded in doing.  Rick offers to investigate; Casey accepts as their encounter in Death Valley brings both back to life.


Starring a named detective, THE OTHER SIDE OF SILENCE is a terific investigative thriller with a great low-keyed final spin.  The cast is fully developed especially Rick and Casey.  Although mostly straightforward investigating, fans will fully appreciate the great Bill Pronzini’s strong tale.


Harriet Klausner

Bad Penny-Sharon Sala

September 29, 2008

Bad Penny

Sharon Sala

Mira, Nov 2008, $7.99

ISBN: 9780778325963


Wilson McKay saved the life of Cat Dupree when he killed Solomon Tutuola, who already killed her father and was slashing her throat (see CUT THROAT).  The two bounty hunters are in love, hope to move on past the traumas, and would like to settle down; but their history still interferes with their present and makes their future uncertain.


Sociopath Jimmy Franks is on a personal vendetta against Wilson whom he blames for his troubles.  He stalks Wilson and plans to kill his enemy’s woman before murdering his target.  Additionally Mexican Homicide Detective Luis Montoya investigates the suspicious death of Tutuola.  Cat fears what the cop will do once he learns the truth.


The latest Cat Dupree tale is a well written suspense thriller, but loses much of the tension in spite of the latest assaults on the lead couple because much of the prime issues have been resolved in the previous tales.  The story line is fast-paced and fun to read but BAD PENNY is no CUT THROAT.  Still fans of the Dupree saga will wonder how many lives does Cat have left, as Sharon Sala provides an exciting entry.


Harriet Klausner


The Organ Grinder-Maan Meyers

September 29, 2008

The Organ Grinder

Maan Meyers

Five Star, Oct 2008, $25.95

ISBN 9781594147210


In 1899 in New York City, John “Dutch” Tonneman, one of the two-man NYPD Commissioner’s Squad, investigates a serial killer who stabs his victims to death.  The case is somewhat personal for the detective because his lover photographer Esther Breslau met one of the deceased prostitutes Delia Swann as part of her project to take pictures of street walkers.


Dutch wonders if Esther photographing the hooker is a coincidence or not.  He ponders whether the killer is following Esther’s work with an especially keen lethal eye.  As he follows clues, Dutch worries that Esther could be on the list of this sociopath slasher.


The latest Dutchman turn of the century police procedural is more historical than an investigative whodunit as the audience knows who the killer is early on.  The tidbits into 1899 New York City is wonderful as readers obtain glimpses into the subway system construction, the problems with the consolidation with Brooklyn and Queens, and much more as life in Manhattan shines throughout the novel.  Although that is a double edged sword as the police investigation into the serial killer slasher homicides takes a back seat to the city.


Harriet Klausner

Eden Palms Murder-Dorothy Francis

September 29, 2008

Eden Palms Murder

Dorothy Francis

Five Stars, Oct 2008, $25.95

ISBN: 1594147027


Her late mom’s friend Francine Shipton invites Des Moines based blues singer Bailey Green to spend time living in her guest cottage on her Eden Palms estate.  However, Bailey is shocked when her hostess fails to pick her up at the Key West Airport as arranged.  She soon finds out why when she arrives at Eden Palms to see police Detectives Cassidy and Burgundy investigating the death of Francis.


Francine’s son Zack tells Bailey to use the guest cottage.  He also asks her to help him look into his mother’s death as he explains she made enemies when she decided to convert the estate into a homeless shelter.  The cops look into the alibis of neighbors, realtor Courtney Lusk, Dr. Winton Gravely who found the body and funeral director Tucker Tisdale as well as yardman Mitch Mitchell who is Bailey’s brother under the witness protection program.  While working with Zack on the homicide, she learns of a second murder that leads to her life being threatened.


This is an enjoyable amateur sleuth tale in which the heroine is attracted to Zack, but does not trust him as she fears he may be the killer.  The story line is fast-paced although Mitch’s woes distract from the plot.  Still readers will relish Dorothy Francis’ latest Key West whodunit (see CONCH SHELL MURDER and COLD-CASE KILLER).


Harriet Klausner

Cold Pursuit-Carla Neggers

September 28, 2008

Cold Pursuit

Carla Neggers

Mira, Nov 2008, $7.99

ISBN: 0778325539


Secret service Agent Jo Harper is put on administrative leave because while doing her duty an incident turns into an unfair YouTube scandal of her with the Vice President’s merry prankster sixteen years old son Charles Preston Neal.  She returns to her hometown Black Falls, Vermont hoping her fifteen minutes of sensationalism ends quickly so she can go back to work; her fear is her career is over.


Also back in town recovering from a war wound in Afghanistan is Special Forces Sergeant Elijah Cameron.  Besides recuperating, Elijah investigates the death of his father Drew seven months ago.


At the same time, Jo’s friend Thomas Asher witnessed the murder of former Ambassador to Great Britain Alex Bruni in a hit and run in which Thomas’ daughter college age Nora fled into the mountains; Thomas’s former wife and Nora’s mom is Bruni’s widow.  Former lovers when they were teens until Drew ended their relationship, Jo and Elijah find their inquiries link; as they fall in love while investigating two murders and search for the missing girl, the killers seek Nora too.


This is an exciting romantic suspense thriller filled with humor and action as Carla Neggers brings the Green Mountain State to life.  Jo and Elijah are tough and courageous, but inside both are vulnerable especially when it comes to the other.  Readers will relish this exhilarating complex cat and mouse tale.


Harriet Klausner