Archive for December, 2008

Bloodprint-Kitty Sewell

December 23, 2008

Bloodprint

Kitty Sewell

Touchstone Books, Feb 2009, $24.99

ISBN: 1416585141

 

Although Key West was not considered in a direct path of tropical storm Angelina, the island takes a nasty hit.  A resident all her life, Madeleine Frank can never look at the place the same way since her spouse Forrest died in the storm.  Needing to escape her loss, Madeleine flees Florida for Bath, England, where she opens up a psychotherapy practice.

 

Her latest patient Rachel Locklear seems at first like a classic domestic violence victim as her former lover and father of her child has pimped her and wants both back under his brutal thumb.  However, as the sessions continue, Madeleine is stunned to find Rachel’s past somewhat mirrors her own dark childhood growing up in a household where her Cuban mother was a powerful Santera priestess; her mom currently lives in a nearby mental institution as she suffers from acute paranoid schizophrenia.  Soon the pasts of both women will collide with their present leaving each with no hope for the future.

 

Although there are some subplots especially the ants that feel pointless as they fail to enhance the psychological suspense or insight into the beleaguered heroine, BLOODPRINT is an engaging thriller.  Madeleine is an interesting character as Key West can no longer be home for her and Bath is becoming questionable.  Rachel purposely is a bit underdeveloped as the woman in trouble so that the audience will wonder whether she is manipulating her therapist; her actions and Madeleine’s reactions lead to the heroine’s peril just like her demented mom warned her.  Even though this story is not on the level of ICE TRAP, Kitty Sewell provides a fine contemporary thriller that combines a violent significant other with Santera beliefs converging on two frightened but brave women.

 

Harriet Klausner

Torn-Chris Jordan

December 23, 2008

Torn

Chris Jordan

Mira, Feb 2009, $6.99

ISBN 9780778325758

 

In Humble, New York, Police Chief Leo Gannett gives the elementary school students a DARE talk.  Roland Penny enters the school and shoots the cop in the head.  He informs the teachers and students he has a bomb.  Through cell phones pictures and text messages get to the outside until a smoke bomb is set off.  Teacher Irene Delancey tells her favorite student ten year old Noah Corbin to hide in the air duct.  Soon afterward all the hostages except Noah are free when the building explodes.

 

Six weeks later, Noah’s mother widow Haley is the only one who believes her son is alive and was abducted by his powerful paternal grandfather Arthur Conklin and his Rulers.  Everyone else assumes he died in the blast as some blood of his was found.  She hires retired FBI agent Randall Shane whose life mission is rescuing children, but he refuses to take on the job without checking out a few things as he doubts the lad still lives.  Not long afterward though he still has doubts, he agrees to take on the hunt as too many anomalies starting with the DNA lab losing Noah’s tissue remains and Mrs. Delancey missing and being a Wall St. roller just before teaching at Humble Elementary.  If the kid lives, he is somewhere inside the compound near Conklin, Colorado; a place with tighter security than the White House has. 

 

The third Randall Shane child rescue thriller (see TAKEN and TRAPPED) is T for terrific as his investigation with some help from his FBI friends begins tearing apart a splintering cult’s abduction of the dying founder’s grandson.  The story line is action-packed even before the hero appears and never slows down as the final confrontation occurs.  Although the climax is over the top of the Rocky Mountains where it occurs, fans will enjoy Shane’s latest caper as he gets his usual no sleep while wondering will he come back this time.

 

Harriet Klausner

The Adversary-Michael Walters

December 23, 2008

The Adversary

Michael Walters

Berkley, Mar 2009, $14.00

ISBN: 9780425225967

 

In Ulan Baatar, Mongolia, Judge Radnaa is disturbed with the State Prosecution lawyer, Tsengal who asks for more time in the case against crime chieftain Muunokhoi as some of the evidence proves to befake.   The defense attorney Nyamsuren insists his client be let go or the trial starts now.  The Judge rules in favor of the accused as the prosecutor should not have brought the case to trial if they were not ready.

 

Embarrassed by the proceedings, the Minister assigns Nargui, former chief of Serious Crime Team, to conduct an inquiry as to what happened especially who leaked to the defense that some of the evidence was tainted.  His personally selected replacement Dosipalam wonders why Nargui is involved.  Police detective Tunjin, a thirty year veteran, is placed on suspension with pay pending the investigation as he is the one who planted the evidence.  Muunokhoi wants Tunjin dead so he flees with the help of an elderly neighbor from the Mongolian capital.  At the same time the investigation into the murder of Mrs. Toya, whose cousin works for the free media, and whose teenage son is missing ties back to the crime king and the judge.

 

The sequel to THE SHADOW WALKER is a strong police procedural with an exciting internal affairs like investigation, but as before it is the locations in Mongolia of a somewhat westernized Ulan Baatar and the remote Gobi Desert that make this tale stand out.  Nargui may have been promoted from the police department, but he remains a superb cop as does his protégé.  Part of the fun is their relationship as the more diplomatic Dosipalam egged on buy his wife who detests her spouse’s former boss, wonders why he is back.  The Tunjin and Mrs. Toya subplots add depth though the climax seems over the top of the Steppes.  Fans will enjoy the second in-depth tour of Mongolia as several cops guide the audience around a country trying to balance the Russians, the Chinese and the West.

 

Harriet Klausner


The Victoria Vanishes-Christopher Fowler

December 22, 2008

The Victoria Vanishes

Christopher Fowler

Bantam, Mar 4 2009, $25.00

ISBN: 9780553805024

 

In popular London pubs, middle age women simply collapse and die.  Initially there is no evidence of foul play; especially as all the witnesses insist nothing happened except the woman dropping dead and pathologist Oswald Finch recently died so no follow-up occurred.

 

Everything changes when Peculiar Crimes Unit senior detective Arthur Bryant claims he was with victim Carol Wynley just before she died outside the Victoria Cross; an edifice torn down over eight decades ago in 1925.  Since the elderly sleuth misplaced Finch’s urn containing his last remains, everyone even his partner Senior Detective John May worries about his senility.  Still they investigate while the brass considers closing down PCU starting with the sale of their building and the addition of by the standard operating procedures Sergeant Jack Renfield.

 

The latest PCU police procedural (see TEN SECOND STAIRCASE and WHITE CORRIDOR) is a fabulous single sitting thriller that hooks the audience throughout the exhilarating story line as fans like the cops will wonder if this is an urban fantasy or Arthur suffers from senility.  The need to know what is going on makes for a delightful tale as the PCU members visit pubs and uncover a religious relic that frightens and elates their blood while beginning to connect the dots of a murderous conspiracy.  Christopher Fowler provides a strong entry that lives up to the peculiar label of this sleuthing unit.

 

Harriet Klausner

Beyond Recall-Robert Goddard

December 22, 2008

Beyond Recall

Robert Goddard

Delta (Dell), Mar 3 2009, $12.00

ISBN 9780385341141

 

Estranged from his family, Chris Napier returns home for the first time in years to attend his niece’s wedding at the family estate Tredower House converted into a hotel in Truro, Cornwall.  Unwanted at the ceremony, Nicky Lanyon arrives insisting to his childhood friend Chris that his father Michael never killed Chris’ great uncle Joshua Carnoweth over three decades ago; although authorities hung the man for the murder insisting the motive was greed as he was about to be replaced as the heir.

 

Nicky accentuates his point when he is found the next day hanging from a tree; apparently having committed suicide.  As homage to Nicky and to alleviate his guilt having ignored the plea, Chris decides to investigate the 1981 homicide of Joshua though his preference remains leaving the past buried.

 

This is an exciting tale of murder, blackmail, and avarice within an extended family as secrets from the past are slowly revealed.  The story takes a bit of time to introduce the three prime interrelated families, but once it does the plot never decelerates as the tangled history is unraveled one dangerous thread at a time by Chris.  Fans will enjoy this fine suspense thriller filled with twists and spins that shake the hero as he uncovers the truth.

 

Harriet Klausner


Risk Factor-Charles Atkins

December 21, 2008

Risk Factor

Charles Atkins

Leisure, Dec 2008, $7.99

ISBN: 9780843960853

 

Almost forty year old Dr. Molly Katz, single mother of teenagers Josh and Megan, is a third-year resident physician on the psychiatric ward of Boston Commonwealth Hospital.  She is shocked and distraught when one of her patients, fifteen years old Garret Jacobs confesses to viciously slaughtering a nurse with a knife.  Molly had talked with Garret when he was committed last week with a psychotic diagnosis, but he displayed no violent tendencies.  She wonders how she failed to notice his aggression.

 

However, the obvious closed case for the police that is and not the psychiatric student takes a bizarre twist when a second nurse is brutally bludgeoned to death while Garret is comatose.  As she meets with her young patients who run the gamut of mental and emotional issues including violence towards those who love them, Molly increasingly is grateful to God that her two teens seem normal. 

 

This exciting medical thriller focuses on the nature vs. nurture psychology debate; .as Dr. Katz and other professionals mesmerize the audience with the discussions re kids and violence, and the probability diagnosis of future behavior.  Another sidebar bewailing the failed health of the insurance system seems a bit forced.  Fans will relish this tense tale especially with a shocking twist as Dr. Charles Atkins provides a deep PORTRAIT of teen violent crime with this taut psychological drama.

 

Harriet Klausner

Three Weeks to Say Goodbye-C.J. Box

December 21, 2008

Three Weeks to Say Goodbye

C.J. Box

St. Martin’s, Jan 2009, $24.95

ISBN: 9780312365721

 

In Denver Jack and Melissa McGuane were euphoric when the adoption was finally approved and baby Angelina made their family complete.  They love their infant daughter, but nine months later the thirty something couple is shocked and dismayed. Julie Perala of the adoption agency informs them that Angelina’s eighteen year old biological father Garrett, a Cherry Creek High School student, wants his daughter; he never signed the documents waiving his rights to her.  His father is powerful Federal Judge John Moreland who demands his son raise his granddaughter.

 

Jack and Melissa love Angelina and want to do what is best for her.  Thus they agree to meet father and son, but at the session, the McGuane’s realize neither of their adopted infant’s paternal side is interested in her welfare.  They have a personal grudge agenda and little Angelina is the kickball.  Worse the Judge uses his vast power, legal and otherwise, to wreck havoc on the McGuane’s trying force them to surrender.  However, the scenario is not as straightforward as the Moreland father and son insist; child porn, and murder turn the three weeks from that initial horrifying phone call into hell in Colorado and Montana where Jack’s parents reside.

 

Leaving Wyoming and Joe Pickett with a breather, C.J. Box provides his fans with a great thriller starting with the premise of losing an adopted child to the biological parent.  The story line is fast-paced from that opening phone call and never slows down as events spiral out of control.  Fans will root for the “David” like couple to defeat the Goliath judge who has weapons on both sides of the law and uses them.  With a strong support cast in both states and fully developed lead characters on both sides of the custody debate, readers will appreciate this terrific tale of suspense

Safer-Sean Doolittle

December 20, 2008

Safer

Sean Doolittle

Delacorte, Feb 24 2009, $24.00

ISBN: 0385338988

 

Paul and Sara Callaway leave Boston for Clark Falls, Iowa.  They moved due to her obtaining a position in town.  When a teacher is injured, he is hired to replace her for the semester as an English professor at the local college.  However, their first night proves auspicious when they have to run off an intruder.  They meet self proclaimed neighborhood protector former cop Roger Mallory who welcomes them into his inner circle.

 

However, Paul becomes concerned when he realizes that Roger is conducting undercover surveillance of his neighbors without their permission.  They argue over security vs. rights.  Soon afterward the cops arrest Paul during a faculty party.   The charges are three counts of producing pornographic images of a minor, which if found guilty can result in up to fifteen years and $200,000 fine.  The accuser is Brittany Seward, the thirteen years old daughter of his next door neighbor.  His lawyer Douglas Bennett paints a bleak picture.  Although the evidence is overwhelming as his hard drive will prove impossible to explain, refusing to be locked away without a fight, Paul investigates the person framing him: Roger.

 

From the opening scene when the cops arrest Paul until the final CLEANUP of all the DIRT, SAFER is a fast-paced thriller of an academic in deep trouble with increasing proof he committed the crimes he is accused of.  Paul is terrific as a yuppie desperately trying to prove his innocence.  The support cast, mostly with its close knit small town attitude, close in on hanging him.  Although Clark Falls is more or “loess” a Peyton Place with the residents having many dark secrets, Sean Doolittle provides ax exciting thriller.

 

Harriet Klausner

Al-Qaeda Strikes Again-Bill Binkley

December 19, 2008

Al-Qaeda Strikes Again

Bill Binkley

Infinity, Jul 2008, $17.95

1094 New DeHaven St, Suite 100

West Conshocken, PA 19428

ISBN: 0741449102

 

At JFK International Airport, Code Red security alert is decreed when a person leaves her purse at customs before fleeing; she kills herself in a bathroom; the Feds followup the info on her Greek passport that affirms what they suspec:t Safia Makhdoom is a bogus name.

 

A few months later in Phoenix, Muusa Gandapaur is panic stricken having had his passport lifted at the airport.  Still he becomes Arthur Bradley and begins his life in Arizona by sending a letter to Denmark.

 

In Islamabad, Pakistan CIA Station Chief Jerry Moses has hit a wall in his inquiries into Makhdoom when an informant tells him of a training camp north of Peshawar attended by Safia, Yusaf Hussani and others.  He finds a paper with a list of names and places that he believes means something big and nasty is coming to America as twenty cities including Cherry Hill where Hussani bragged he would be appear.  Wayne Kirby is put in charge of a counterterrorism task force that includes his kick butt girlfriend Rennie Jordon to prevent al-Qaeda from striking again.

 

This is only part of the opening chapter of what is an action-packed, fast-paced terrorism thriller that accelerates as readers await a confrontation between the Feds and al-Qaeda if the dots are connected and the government leaders listen to the troops on the ground.  As corpses flood Dallas where NSA has forwarded Jerry’s list, multiple subplots across American and in Pakistan keeps readers on edge wondering what next and how they connect.  Bill Binkley provides an exhilarating one sitting thriller (not sure how he kept track with so much happening, but he does throughout) that will shake the audience as the terrorist multiple schemes seems plausible.

 

Harriet Klausner

On the Grind-Stephen J. Cannell

December 19, 2008

On the Grind

Stephen J. Cannell

St. Martin’s, Jan 2009, $25.95

ISBN 9780312366285

 

LAPD Detective Shane Scully strikes a deal with the District Attorney’s Office to avoid probable jail time for blackmailing movie actress Tiffany Roberts instead of reporting her efforts to hire a hit man to kill her sleazy spouse.  Part of the settlement is he leaves the police department.  Scully’s wife, LAPD Chief of Detectives Alexa is livid with his misbehavior that brought another black eye to the departmentand kicks him to the curb when she learns he probably slept with Roberts.

 

The former cop obtains a rookie’s position with the Haven Park police department known as the most corrupt in the state.  His new blue brothers assign him the task to cripple the efforts of a reformist running for city mayor. 

 

This is an engaging Scully police procedural that gives away the key twist way too early in the otherwise well written albeit over the top plot as that subtracts from the trademark angst of previous tales (see WHITE SISTER and THREE SHIRT DEAL).  Still the exciting story line is fun to follow as a disgraced Scully loses his job and his spouse, and ends up working in what law enforcement officials overwhelmingly believe is the most corrupt department in California; anyone not on the take will not live for very long.

 

Harriet Klausner