Archive for October, 2008

Scarpetta-Patricia Cornwell

October 31, 2008

Scarpetta

Patricia Cornwell

Putnam, Dec 2008, $27.95

ISBN: 9780399155161

 

Kay Scarpetta and Benton Wesley are married and for the first time in their long relationship, they are not only in the same state, they share the same house.  She is the medical examiner for the Northeastern District of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and both are guest lecturers at NYC’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice.  They also provide free consulting services for agencies to include NYPD.

 

Oscar Bane, a little person, checks himself into Bellevue after seeing his lover, also a little person, dead; a homicide victim.  Benton does a pre evaluation and Oscar reveals he will not talk to anyone except Scarpetta.  When she arrives Oscar tells her that “they” are watching him and know every move he makes.  He also tells her to find a disc hidden in his apartment so she will know he is not paranoid.  The police believe Bone killed his significant other, but Scarpetta based on forensics does not even believe he warrants a warrant.  Further research reveals other people were killed in a similar fashion; each wearing an ankle bracelet.  Kay, Lucy, prosecutor Jaime Berger, and investigator Pete Marino begin to seek a serial killer who enjoys torture and murder.

 

It has been two decades since Scarpetta was introduced and over that time the characters have changed and grown.  Bonds have formed and others broken; now Kay and Benton take the next step in their relationship.  However as always in this great series, SCARPETTA is first and foremost a superb crime thriller filled with action though character driven.  Readers will fully enjoy the heroine and her horde’s latest adventures as Patricia Cornwell affirms why she is this reviewer’s favorite crime thriller author.

 

Harriet Klausner

A Deadly Silver Sea-Bob Morris

October 30, 2008

A Deadly Silver Sea

Bob Morris

St. Martin’s Dec 2008, $24.95

ISBN 9780312377250

 

In Florida, former NFL player and ex con Zack Chasteen is contented to run a palm tree nursery, as long as his beloved travel magazine owner Barbara Pickering is with him.  He especially looks forward to the birth of their first child in about a month.

 

Zack, Barbara and many affluent people are sailing on the luxurious cruise ship Royal Star on its maiden voyage; his invitation comes from being classy Barbara’s escort, which serves a reminder of how far he has come.  Soon after the Royal Star embarks from Miami, gunmen kill most of the crew and take control of the vessel.  After the passengers are separated by gender, Zack tries to get the men to join him on a blitzkrieg, but he end up in the drink while Barbara goes into premature labor.

 

The latest Zack Casteen thriller (see BERMUDA SCHWARTZ, BAHAMARAMA and JAMAICA ME DEAD) is as fast-paced as its predecessors, but lacks the originality of the previous tales with Cussler’s Pitt novels and movies like Under Siege.  Zack’s usual amusing cynical asides also seem out of place in a scenario in which his about to give birth beloved is in deep peril.  Still he is an interesting mix as a sarcastic moralistic antihero struggling to rally the civilians at sea against deadly pirates making his current under siege escapade fun for his fans.

 

Harriet Klausner


A Body to Die For-G.A. McKevett

October 30, 2008

A Body to Die For

G.A. McKevett

Kensington, Jan 2009, $22.00

ISBN 9780758215543

 

In San Carmelita, California, plus-sized Moonlight and Magnolia Detective Agency private investigator Savannah Reid and police detective Sergeant. Dirk Coulter team up to catch a peeping Tom at Clarissa’s House of Pain and Gain.  Soon after that success, insufferable diet queen Clarissa Jardin informs the police that her rascally husband Bill is missing.

 

Not long after that Bill is found dead with a bullet in his head; Dirk leads the official investigation.  Bill’s mother believes her daughter-in-law killed her son.  She hires Savannah expecting her to prove Clarissa was involved in Bill’s homicide.  Savannah agrees with her client’s theory as the victim was cheating on his spouse and spending her hard earned money gambling.  Cooperating, Savannah and Dirk uncover several other people with strong motives especially Clarissa’s obese twin sister.

 

Filled with humor and terrific asides, the latest Reid whodunit is a fabulous investigative tale in what is consistently a strong entertaining series (see POISONED TARTS).  The investigation is cleverly designed to keep readers guessing re the twin vs. someone else, but the fun comes from the teaming of Reid and Coulter as the heroine makes it clear you can have your cake and eat it too (in moderation and with not guilt or remorse).

 

Harriet Klausner

Night of the Loving Dead-Casey Daniels

October 30, 2008

Night of the Loving Dead

Casey Daniels

Berkley, Jan 2009, $6.99

ISBN: 9780425225554

 

Cemetery tour guide Pepper Martin was in the Garden View Cemetery when she knocked her head accidentally on a tombstone.  When she regained consciousnesses, she was able to see ghosts; spirits of those who were murdered and unable to move on.  They demand Pepper find their killers and bring them to justice so they can pass peacefully to the next level.  She reluctantly investigates the claims because when she refuses they haunt her every living moment.

 

When Pepper goes to Chicago on business, she stops at the Greenland Cemetery where she meets the spirit of lab coated Madeline Tremayne, who pleads with her that their mutual friend Dr. Dan Callahan  is in danger from his boss Dr. Hilton Gerard who is using him as the fall guy for the Feds to devour for their inquiry into misappropriation of funds.  Knowing Dan once saved her life and how painfully persistent ghosts are, Pepper investigates learning that Dr. Dan is working on a new program in which the disenfranchised enter but never leave.  As she obtains proof of the goings-on, a malevolent spirit turns Pepper into one of the disenbidied unable to help anyone even herself.

 

Anyone who believes communicating with ghosts would be fun, need to ask the heroine whose experience with the “gift” leaves her traumatic and seemingly always in danger; this is not sharing tea or lattes.  Still her courage and desire, albeit reluctant, to help others endears Pepper to the reader.  Her latest investigation is fast-paced, dangerous and somewhat personal; as NIGHT OF THE LOVING DEAD is a charming amusing paranormal amateur sleuth.

 

Harriet Klausner


Daemon-Daniel Suarez

October 30, 2008

Daemon

Daniel Suarez

Dutton, Jan 2009, $25.95

ISBN 9780525951117

 

At thirty four years of age, Matthew Sobol, the genius behind successful CyberStorm Entertainment dies from brain cancer.  However, the brilliant game maestro would not allow something as petty as death preveng him from causing global havoc from the grave.  He somehow kicked off a war from cyberpsace against mankind.

 

Concerned authorities enter Sobol’s mansion in Thousand Oaks, California only to find themselves under attack in spite of the fact that no human is inside or on the grounds; the police suffer several deaths as they retreat.  Sobol has left behind the greatest weapon of mass destruction ever created; his daemon computer processor has taken control of most of the world’s major computer systems and has signed up brilliant quisling humans as foot soldiers to carry out the plan for world domination.

 

DAEMON is a fabulous futuristic AI technology thriller as the twisted but brilliant late computer game creator Sobol sets in motion a doomsday machine after he dies.  The story line is fast-paced from the onset even with complex vernacular as Daniel Suarez assumes his audience can do more than breath and chew gum refusing to dumb down his tale.  Readers will relish this superb science fiction book with a great finish that sets up AI part two.

 

Harriet Klausner

Eclipse-Richard North Patterson

October 29, 2008

Eclipse

Richard North Patterson

Holt, Jan 2009, $26.00

ISBN: 9780805087727

 

San Francisco law firm partner forty years old Damon Pierce is getting a divorce.  The international litigation expert e-mails his college lover Marissa Brand to inform him that his marriage will be over by tomorrow although he knows she is married to oil rich Luandia reformist Bobby Okari whose country is run by a brutal despot.

 

While the foreign oil companies work closely with the government to rip off the oil deposits, everyone in Okari’s village is murdered.  However the government ignores the mass murders because they are the culprits; instead they arrest Bobby for the lynching of three foreign oil workers.  Damon, out of love for Marissa, defends the accused in a kangaroo court that has already convicted him.

 

Few authors can hook an audience and maintain that grip throughout like Richard North Patterson does consistently.  ECLIPSE affirms that belief especially with the haunting working and environmental conditions in Luandia that is the main star; even Governor Palin will shout the manta wind baby wind if she spent fifteen minutes getting her hair fixed there.  The story line is fast-paced and filled with action that fans of legal thrillers in foreign nations in which the dictator makes the law will appreciate Mr. Patterson’s latest exciting tale.

 

Harriet Klausner

Dead or Alive-Michael McGarrity

October 29, 2008

Dead or Alive

Michael McGarrity

Dutton, Jan 2009, $25.95

ISBN 9780525950813

 

Escaped psychopathic convict Craig Larson goes on a killing rampage murdering everyone it seems in his path.  Among the victims is Riley Burke, business partner to former Santa Fe police chief Kevin Kerney.

 

Outraged by the Burke death and just back from London where his spouse works in the American embassy, Kerney vows to bring the maniac to justice.  However that pledge is easier said than done, as Larson leaves corpses in several southwest states.  Working as a temporary New Mexico State Police special investigator, Kerney and his son Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department Lieutenant Clayton Istee lead a state wide manhunt.

 

The keys to this wild manhunt are the relationship between the father and son law enforcement pair who only recently learned of their DNA connection and the deep look at multi-jurisdiction police investigations.  The story line is fast-paced and filled with much more blood than the usual Kerney whodunit (see NOTHING BUT TROUBLE) and a strong sense of locale that would have pleased the late Tony Hillerman.  In some macabre ways Larson steals the show as he makes the plot with his murderous spree that turns what looks like a blue state red.

 

Harriet Klausner


Running Hot-Jayne Ann Krentz

October 29, 2008

Running Hot

Jayne Ann Krentz

Putnam, Jan 2009, $24.95

ISBN 9780399155215

 

The psychic investigative firm Jones & Jones sends Arcane Society member Grace Renquist, who can envision the evil in a person’s aura to Hawaii to uncover the identity of a serial killer.  To protect the librarian who will be out in the cold for the first time, they hire former cop currently tending bar Luther Malone as her bodyguard, who can abort a person’s evil thoughts before they can perform an odious deed.

 

Luther and Grace are attracted to one another from their first meeting.  However, in Hawaii they know to table their passion and focus on the killer.  They quickly learn that others seek the psychopath too; from the drug stimulated malevolent Nightshades to psychic hunter opera diva La Sirene, whose voice kills.

 

Although obviously over the top of Mauna Kea, RUNNING HOT is a fast-paced exhilarating romantic suspense that grips the audience from the moment the lead couple meets and never takes a breather until the concluding implication that sequels will follow.  Ms. Krentz’s fans will enjoy this serial murder mystery investigation that turns into much more dangerous and evil than a psychopath on the loose.

 

Harriet Klausner

The Spoke-Friedrich Glauser

October 29, 2008

The Spoke

Friedrich Glauser

Bitter Lemon, Jan 2009, $14.95

ISBN 9781904738275

 

In Bern Swiss police Detective Sergeant Jakob Studer and his wife have traveled to Schwarzenstein to attend the marriage of their daughter.  However, in the Hôtel zum Hirschen where they are staying someone stabs to death Jean Stieger using a sharpened bicycle spoke.

 

The local police arrest the only suspect, bicycle store mechanic and peddler Ernst Graf.  However, Studer believes the murder weapon is not enough to prove Graf did the deed.  Soon afterward while Graf remains in custody, someone poisons Stieger’s boss and partner , financier Joachim Krock.  Studer investigates the two homicides, applying a logic that confuses the local cops, but leads to several suspects with motives for both murders.

 

The latest reprint of the 1930s Studer Swiss police procedural series is, like the previous four, a fabulous investigative tale.  Studer is at his best working what appears to be a closed locked room case in which his progress in finding other suspects besides Graf with means, motive and opportunity alienates him with the locals and frustrates his wife on vacation and daughter preparing to marry.  The Jakob Studer collection holds up as strong mysteries with an obvious historical perspectvie seven decades after they were initially released (see IN MATTO’S REALM, FEVER THUMBPRINT and THE CHINAMAN). 

 

Harriet Klausner

Divine Justice-David Baldacci

October 29, 2008

Divine Justice

David Baldacci

Grand Central, Nov 2008, $27.99

ISBN: 0446195502

 

Joe Knox scans two homicide scenes in which he concludes a professional sniper took out DC super VIPs, Intel Chief Carter Gray and US Senator from Alabama Roger Simpson.  At the same time Joe concludes the same sniper did both murders and that the Intel community was hiding something, former CIA assassin Oliver Stone takes the Amtrak train from Union Station heading to New Orleans after killing the two government superheavyweights who murdered his wife and for all intent and purposes buried his real identity John Carr with her.

 

Unable to mind his business, Stone intercedes in a fight on the train, but when the Amtrak conductor asks for a picture identification, he knows he must disembark ASAP because he will be exposed as a fake with minimal examination.  He ends up in the mining town of Divine, Virginia where once again his tendency to get involved in a David vs. Goliath good cause gets him in trouble with high level corruption and a widow in peril.

 

The latest Camel Club thriller (see THE COLLECTORS , STONE COLD and THE CAMEL CLUB) is an exciting tale that fans of the series will relish as Stone’s code of justice makes him act when he should remain passively in the background.  He cannot help himself when he took out the VIPS, on the train or in Divine.  Although somewhat formulaic in the mining town reminiscent of Spencer Tracey in Bad Day At Black Rock and Steven Seagal in Fire Down Below, readers will enjoy Stone’s latest escapades.

 

Harriet Klausner