Archive for November, 2008

Mixed Blood-Roger Smith

November 27, 2008

Mixed Blood

Roger Smith

Holt, Feb 2009, $25.00

ISBN 9780805088755

 

In the United States, American security specialist Jack Burn worries about the impact his recent financial failures will have on his family.  When he is offered a chance to stay solvent, he reluctantly accepts the terms offered him.  He agrees to join a gang planning to rob a bank.

 

The plan was perfect; the execution a disaster.  Most of the gang and a cop die.  Burn escapes with millions, but is wanted by the law and the few robbers who survived the debacle.  He, his pregnant wife Susan, and their four years old son Matt relocate to Cape Town, South Africa.  Life seems peaceful and good until two meth users invade their home; Jack kills both, but now corrupt Police Inspector Rudi Barnard is scrutinizing the professional use of counter force inside his realm, Cape Flats.

 

This exciting South African crime caper will grip the audience from the moment Barnard checks on the Americans, which begins the spin out of control somewhat fueled by career felon Benny Mongrel observing his fellow American.  Susan will learn she don’t know Jack as he piles lies on top of lies with her and with Barnard.  With the cast divided between the innocent and the felonious, fans will enjoy Roger Smith’s tense thriller while humming Bonnie Tyler’s Holding Out for a Hero as increasingly none seem to surface.

 

Harriet Klausner

Critical Mass-Whitley Strieber

November 27, 2008

Critical Mass

Whitley Strieber

Forge, Feb 2009, $24.95

ISBN 9780765322531

 

Contractor Jim Deutsch works for the CIA as a NBC (nuclear, biological, chemical) expert whose prime specialty is nukes though he has been involved in preventing the sale or development of the other weapons of mass destruction.  He learns that Islamic terrorist Madhi has obtained weapons graded plutonium that he has smuggled into the U.S. from Mexico and concludes homeland security has failed to protect the border.  Mahdi announces he has nukes planted throughout the western United States.

 

To prove his assertion, he nukes Las Vegas.  A stunned President William Fitzgerald considers nuking the Muslim world back into the stone age, globalized tension rises as the crisis seems out of control with Middle East governments considering their options and Mahdi ready to destroy another city if his demands for a Muslim fundamentalist world, Mahdi style is not met.

 

CRITICAL MASS is a fascinating look at efforts to counter the flow of nuclear weapons around the globe.  The story line is action-packed with dedicated Jim and his Muslim wife struggling to prevent further tragedy from happening.  Although the language turns oddly poetic at crisis moments which jars the reader, Whitley Strieber provides an exciting thriller based on the very plausible concept of nukes ending up in the hands of a fanatic.

 

Harriet Klausner

Homicide in Hardcover-Kate Carlisle

November 27, 2008

Homicide in Hardcover

Kate Carlisle

Obsidian, Feb 3 2009, $6.99

ISBN: 0451226151

 

Brooklyn Wainwright is a bookbinder and restorer who has recently gone into business by herself after years as an apprentice by one of the best in the field, Abraham Karastovsky.  Her mentor handles what he calls her defection very poorly and they have not spoken to one another in six months.  Ergo Brooklyn is nervous about attending a private showing at San Francisco’s Covington Library because she knows Abraham will also be there.  When they meet at the gala, they become friends again and he invites her to look at the copy of Goethe’s Faust in his workroom.

 

When she arrives at his workroom, Brooklyn finds Abraham lying on the floor.  She goes to him and he whispers his dying words “Remember the devil.”  She has no idea what his departing cryptic message means, but freaks out when Derek Stone of Stone Security declares she killed him.  Stunned she faints.  When she regains consciousness, the police question her, but let her go while Stone states he will be watching her.  As the Covington Library chief hires Brooklyn to finish Abraham’s restoration of Faust, someone kills another book restorer.  Attempts are made on her life and her house is broken into and searched.  Past the breaking point, Brooklyn investigates starting with the space Abrahame made in the cover s to the tome and whether it is why someone is willing to kill to obtain the Faust.

 

The first bibliophile amateur sleuth showcases how dangerous the life of a book restorer is when a critic wants something.  In less than a week, numerous attempts are made on Brooklyn’s life and her home and her and Abraham’s studio as well her mentor’s murder make for a fun time for readers, but a rough go for the heroine.  This is an entertaining somewhat amusing whodunit as the nervous eccentric Brooklyn travels the mean streets of San Fransisco trying to restore order to her life starting with having a life.

 

Harriet Klausner

Kiss-Ted Dekker and Erin Healy

November 26, 2008

Kiss

Ted Dekker and Erin Healy

Thomas Nelson, Feb 2009, $24.99

ISBN 9781595544704

 

The McAllister siblings were driving together when a nasty accident leaves Shauna in a coma and her brother Rudy permanently brain damaged.  When Shauna awakens from her comatose state six months later, she finds her memory impaired.  Her doctor fills in some of the gaps of the accident; informing her she was the driver and her blood level at the time recorded her as under the influence of drugs; she caused the accident ramming into a semi in which her dad has paid off millions already.

 

Feeling remorse and guilt Shauna returns home to finish healing.  Her father, running for president, treats her like the enemy while her stepmother overtly shows her loathing towards her.  Only Wayne Spade, insisting he is her boyfriend though she has no memory of him, treats her with kindness.  She soon learns she has developed a new skill, pilfering other peoples’ memories.  Shauna decides to learn the deepest darkest truth concealed by her father so she can understand why he seems to have always hated her only now he acts more overtly.  Sometimes a person is better off not knowing as ignorance will prove bliss because knowledge brings assassins coming for her.

 

This exciting Christian parable ironically subtly focuses on the Plato concept that to appreciate the good (in this case the light of God) one must experience the bad (the devilish dark side); inside of a suspense thriller with paranormal elements.  Shauna holds the fast-paced story line together with her insistence on learning the whole truth although each revelation cuts a chunk of her soul off and leads to someone wanting her dead.  Fans of Ted Dekker will relish this strong allegorical fable filled with suspense yet underlying is the theme of deliverance from the mental anguish if Shauna willingly turns to God.

 

Harriet Klausner

Cat Playing Cupid-Shirley Rousseau Murphy

November 26, 2008

Cat Playing Cupid

Shirley Rousseau Murphy

Morrow, Feb 2009, $16.95

ISBN: 9780061123979

 

In Molina Point, California live three special cats: Joe Grey, Dulcie and Kit.  Each can talk to humans and understand human speech.  The trio seems to get involved in every murder that ahs happened recently in the village.  So it is no shocker when they learn from a feral feline that a human body is buried in the ruins of the Pamilion Estate.  They delay their usual investigation until Joe’s friend Clyde marries Ryan and is out of the way on his honeymoon.

 

Another corpse is found in a treehouse in Oregon lying there for years.  Lindsey Wolfe returns to Molina Point goes to the cops claiming the victim is her fiancé Carson Chappell.  When the cats investigate the grave, they find a book that discuses their unique skills; they want the book destroyed before anyone who finds it reveals their secret.  Lindsey’s sister brings anonymously to the police incriminating evidence that point towards her being the killer. Her lover Ray Gibbs, who was Carson’s partner, drops off something incriminating to the steps of the police station.  Joe Grey begins an inquiry into them with Dulcie helping him while Kit considers whether she loves injured Sagel enough to go feral with him and leave her two pals behind.

 

Though on opposite coats, the Molina Point felines will remind readers of The Cat Who tales by the Brown duet.  The body found at the estate is linked to the other corpse, but how and why remain a mystery that Joe Grey is determined to solve.  The three talking cats are adorable even grumpy acerbic Joe Grey while fans of the series learn more about their backgrounds.  Shirley Rousseau Murphy has written a purrfectly delightful anthropomorphism feline whodunit.

 

Harriet Klausner

The Renegades-T. Jefferson Parker

November 25, 2008

The Renegades

T. Jefferson Parker

Dutton, Feb 2009, $26.95

ISBN: 9780525950950

 

Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs Charlie Hood and Terry Laws are driving together when the former is executed.  The brass insists gang initiation or perhaps getting even with Laws who has been a veteran of the streets.  Hood is a bit shook up with his new partner’s death especially since he prefers patrolling by himself with his demon (the spirit of Allison Murrieta – see L.A. OUTLAWS) to accompany him, but understands why he should not investigate it.

 

However, Hood is a bit surprised when he is assigned to Internal Affairs, but this also gives him an opportunity to look into who murdered his partner starting with inquiries into the life of Terry, dubbed “Mr. Wonderful”.  He soon begins to find evidence that alleges Terry that was a crooked cop delivering a personal code of justice.  This is something that Hood can understand as a good cop crosses the line to convey justice like in the old west as the system often protects nasty felons not because of fundamental rights that these same hoods tale away from others, but because of those working inside of it are disguised as upright citizens.

 

Hood is a beacon of morality in a desert of corruption in which drugs seem to own almost everyone’s soul from Los Angeles to Mexico.  The story line is fast-paced but driven by the throwback hero who obsesses with a need to know whether Mr. Wonderful was a bad or good cop; as defined by Hood and not some artificial law or a pompous judge with Allison inside his head as a reminder of what justice is.  Fans will enjoy Hood’s Old West mentality in modern day Southern California.

 

Harriet Klausner

Batter Off Dead-Tamar Myers

November 24, 2008

Batter Off Dead

Tamar Myers

Obsidian, Feb 2009, $22.95

ISBN: 0451225929

 

Old Order Mennonite Magdalena Yoder, owner of the Penn Dutch Inn, has temporarily closed her businessl due to her expecting any week now.  At eight and a half months pregnant running the inn is too much along with her duties as mayor and with her church; the latter two coming before making money.   Still she hosts the Beechy Grove Mennonite Church Brotherhood fundraising all you can eat breakfast. 

 

Magdalena irritates Minerva J. Jay over gluttony charges when the latter eats twenty-six pancakes and seventeen pork bellies.  Shortly after her gouging, Minerva dies.  The toxicologist reports states that someone added an overdose of pills into the pancake batter, making the death a homicide.  Chief of Police Chris Ackerman knows Magdalena’s record for solving murder cases so he asks her to help, but she puts him off as she gave birth in her cousin’s grocery store just after Minerva died.  When she begins to investigate she starts with the Church Brotherhood and quickly learns almost every member had a reason to loathe Minerva; none seem sad or suffer remorse as the glutton was blackmailing people and seducing married men.  However, no one appears to be desperate enough to kill the woman who made everyone miserable.

 

Motherhood does not sweeten Magdalena’s acerbic nature although she obviously loves and cares for her newborn although she treats the baby in the same manner she handles adults; this leads to amusing scenes as the infant acts like some of the childish adults she knows.   The mystery is well executed with an interesting group of suspects who, like her family, try to stay out of Magdalena’s way, but also like her relatives fail as she is more tenacious than a bull dog.  Tamar Myers writes a delightful picturesque Pennsylvania Dutch cozy.

 

Harriet Klausner

Final Justice-Fern Michaels

November 23, 2008

Final Justice

Fern Michaels

Zebra, Jan 2009, $7.99

ISBN: 9781420101881

 

The Sisterhood seven looks forward to their presidential pardon and the end of their self-imposed exile in Europe as they did their part of the bargain (see COLLATERAL DAMAGE).  However, the pardon is delayed for political reasons when the president selects Bert Navarro as the new FBI director.  No one wants his alleged abetting the Sisterhood to become the focus of the Senate advice and consent hearings.

 

Instead Myra, Annie, Kathryn, Alexis, Yoko, Nikki, and Isabelle are working a scenario in Las Vegas as a favor to a friend Beatrice.  Her estranged daughter Marble Rose is on a roll at the casinos, which means those in charge want it ended anyway possible including murder.  The Sisters and their lawyer Lizzie investigate what looks preposterous at first, but soon that turns into a network of corruption in which the betting line in Vegas is all seven and their attorney will be shortly dead.

 

This is an exciting entry although the overarching story line of receiving the pardon and life afterward never moves forward; many fans of the saga will be disappointed in that.  Still this is a solid tale as the magnificent seven struggles through layers of obfuscation that politicians would cherish.  As they dig baby dig deeper, their adversary counterattacks.  In spite of some disappointment in the overall saga moving forward at a glacier pace, readers will enjoy FINAL JUSTICE wondering whether our side will lose this time as the opposition seems so much more powerful.

 

Harriet Klausner


The Deepest Cut-Dianne Emley

November 23, 2008

The Deepest Cut

Dianne Emley

Ballantine, Feb 2009, $24.00

ISBN: 9780345499523

 

In Pasadena, California, Police Detective Jim Kissick heads the investigation into the murder of former gangbanger Abel “Scrappy” Espinoza inside a facility owned by first generation Chinese-American Mrs. Zhang.  Assisting him on the inquiry is his lover, Nan Vining, a single mom of fourteen year old Emily.  On a valuable mural, the culprit paints China Dog 187.  Whereas Nan believes the killer is T.B, Mann as she calls the Bad Man who almost killed her (see THE FIRST CUT), Jim assumes it is gang warfare.

 

Their boss Sergeant Early reassigns Jim to follow up on the near deadly assault of Nan as new clues have surfaced; Nan will work the Sparky homicide as the lead.  Nan informs Jim how she broke the law to learn more about her attacker and her theory he is a female police serial killer; he scoffs at her belief.  As T.B. Mann continues to operate under the radar screen, the sole connection remains a deranged artist Nitro who vanished.  Soon Mann will attempt to complete the killing of the only one to survive with her daughter as the lure.

 

Although it seems obvious that Nan is obsessed with capturing TBM and would fail a psychological screening unless she was Oscar level performer, readers will enjoy this entertaining California police procedural that goes down two paths before converging.  The story line is filled with action even when the lead couple stops for lunch to talk about the cases or when the ghostly elements limited to not much more than a butterfly alit on Nan’s shoulder.  Fans will enjoy this fine sequel that stands alone as an exhilarating investigative thriller.

 

Harriet Klausner


The Deepest Cut-Dianne Emley

November 23, 2008

The Deepest Cut

Dianne Emley

Ballantine, Feb 2009, $24.00

ISBN: 9780345499523

 

In Pasadena, California, Police Detective Jim Kissick heads the investigation into the murder of former gangbanger Abel “Scrappy” Espinoza inside a facility owned by first generation Chinese-American Mrs. Zhang.  Assisting him on the inquiry is his lover, Nan Vining, a single mom of fourteen year old Emily.  On a valuable mural, the culprit paints China Dog 187.  Whereas Nan believes the killer is T.B, Mann as she calls the Bad Man who almost killed her (see THE FIRST CUT), Jim assumes it is gang warfare.

 

Their boss Sergeant Early reassigns Jim to follow up on the near deadly assault of Nan as new clues have surfaced; Nan will work the Sparky homicide as the lead.  Nan informs Jim how she broke the law to learn more about her attacker and her theory he is a female police serial killer; he scoffs at her belief.  As T.B. Mann continues to operate under the radar screen, the sole connection remains a deranged artist Nitro who vanished.  Soon Mann will attempt to complete the killing of the only one to survive with her daughter as the lure.

 

Although it seems obvious that Nan is obsessed with capturing TBM and would fail a psychological screening unless she was Oscar level performer, readers will enjoy this entertaining California police procedural that goes down two paths before converging.  The story line is filled with action even when the lead couple stops for lunch to talk about the cases or when the ghostly elements limited to not much more than a butterfly alit on Nan’s shoulder.  Fans will enjoy this fine sequel that stands alone as an exhilarating investigative thriller.

 

Harriet Klausner