Archive for January, 2009

Murder In Four Parts-Bill Crider

January 31, 2009

Murder In Four Parts

Bill Crider

Minotaur, Feb 17 209, $24.99

ISBN: 9780312386740

In Texas the Clearview Community Barbershop Chorus musical director florist Lloyd Berry invites Sheriff Dan Rhodes to join as a baritone. Dan is shocked by the invitation as he knows he cannot sing worth saving his soul and so does everyone else including Lloyd knows that as a fact. However, he rejects the offer stating he is too busy with law enforcement.

Soon afterward while Dan searches for an apparent chicken eating gator, someone bashes in Lloyd’s head. He questions the chorus members and is taken aback by the amount of discord; the feuds are palatable leading Dan to wonder if one of the members killed Lloyd. Other incidents divide Dan’s time, but as he digs into Berry’s past, the sheriff finds several irate enemies with motives.

MURDER IN FOUR PARTS is overall a fun often amusing thriller although the prime investigation never accelerates though the trademark sidebar inquiries with the eccentric cast are humorous. Dan is his usual self as he takes his time to insure he is doing things right. Although not quite as exciting as past Rhodes tales (see OF ALL SAD WORDS and MURDER AMONG THE OWLS), the latest Sheriff Rhodes police procedural is an engaging amusing small town mystery.

Harriet Klausner

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Hard to Handle-Karen Wiesner

January 31, 2009

Hard to Handle

Karen Wiesner

Whiskey Creek, Jan 2009, $14.95

ISBN: 1603134697

As part of the Network, Dez Luttino and Nova Granger have worked as part of a team that he led on several missions. However, his superior assigns Dez with a strange task as he has mentored her skills in the past. The Network leadership believes strongly that Nova can be one of their best operatives if she can gain one more skil; she must learn to trust her teammates. His seemingly impossible assignment is to get her to have faith in his being there for her.

This will prove his toughest assignment ever as Nova when she was five years old was raped by her father and his friends. Her childhood ordeal has proven doubled edged as she feels for the victims, but rejects closeness with any man even teammates on a mission. Dez begins his quest to earn the trust of a suspicious Nova. As he succeeds in reaching her heart, she reaches his too; they begin to fall in love. Sent on a mission to keep a father and daughter safe, Nova has doubts as the man they protect is pushing a law that allows marriage at any age. However she feels a strange affinity to the mute child until she learns the total truth about her mission and her beloved.

The eighth Incognito thriller is an exciting romantic suspense tale that digs deep inside the soul of an adult who suffered a childhood trauma that never left her and impacts her adult relationships. Filled with plenty of action, the story line is somewhat different than the previous magnificent seven due to Nova who brings plenty of psychological baggage with her on the mission. Karen Wiesner writes an excellent entry filled with angst and action.

Harriet Klausner

Can’t Never Tell-Cathy Pickens

January 30, 2009

Can’t Never Tell

Cathy Pickens

Minotaur (St. Martin’s), Feb 17 2009, $24.95

ISBN: 9780312354442

In Dacus, South Carolina, seven year old Emma is somewhat bored while wandering around the fair fright house with her Aunt Avery while two teenage couples are also touring the place. However, the child’s ennui ends when the leg of a mannequin with a chainsaw separates; she realizes immediately as does her aunt that the limb is that of a human remain. The fright house is closed as the cops investigate the mannequin that turns out to be a mummified human.

The next day, Emma’s parents and Aunt Avery are attending a faculty picnic near Bow Falls when the wife of Professor Reimann falls into the waterfall. While the Fair’s owners have retained attorney Avery to help them reopen for the July Fourth holiday weekend, a friend of the professor asks her to file a life insurance claim since the grieving widower is too upset to do so. However, Avery also wants to know who the corpse in the fright house is though she leaves that to her assistant Shamanique to explore and who pushed Rinda into the falls.

The latest Avery Andrews legal cozy is a fun regional tale filled with some of the down home humor expected of a Cathy Pickens novel; starting with the two teen couples Amazonian girlfriends knocking the leg off the mannequin. The story line is not quite as fast and breezy as previous entries like HUSH MY MOUTH or HOG WILD but in some ways is much deeper as the audience obtains a profound look at financial fraud that is critical to the plot leading to a cautionary afterward.

Harriet Klausner


Double Minds-Terri Blackstock

January 30, 2009

Double Minds

Terri Blackstock

Zondervan, Feb 1 2009, $16.99

ISBN: 9780310250630

In Nashville, Christian songwriter Parker James is highly regarded for her inspiring lyrics, but wants the chance to sing her songs. She knows pride is one of the seven deadly sins, but still hopes to have a chance. Still she does her best writing and working as a receptionist at Colgate Studios.

Parker is stunned when her brother Homicide Detective Gibson James text messages her to come to the studio. She learns that Belmont University student and an intern Brenna Evans was shot to death. Assisting her brother with his investigation, Parker wonders if she was the intended target as her work area as the studio receptionist is where the victim was killed; though she cannot fathom why someone would want her dead.

The superb whodunit adds deep excitement to a strong thought provoking Christian thriller with an apt title. Terri Blackstock provides an intriguing look at modern American Christian thought with dedicated believers struggling to adhere to scripture while also trying to make it in the wider world. Parker’s BFF Serene has a chance to break out beyond the relatively small pond of Christian music to that of the oceanic sized pop scene, but would need Parker to modify lyrics that would still remain inspiring yet take them outside scripture. This is Christian suspense at its best as Ms. Blackstock takes her readers outside their pious comfort zone.

Harriet Klausner

Bahama Burnout-Don Bruns

January 29, 2009

Bahama Burnout

Don Bruns

Oceanview, Mar 2009, $24.95

ISBN: 9781933515205

Internationally famous and highly regarded rock critic and music journalist Mick Sever travels to the Bahamas where he will cover the story of the return of renowned Highland Studio in Nassau. The studio, known for mega-hits, burned down last year with an unknown corpse found amid the ashes. Although the arson and potential homicide remain unsolved, owners Jonah and Rita Britt have rebuilt it and are ready to launch their label again.

However, the renaissance is not going smooth as someone is sabotaging the effort. Rita believes the ghost of the victim who died in the fire is the current troublemaking culprit as a Sheryl Crow guitar has been smashed for who knows why and tracks are being erased. Following a murder of a band manager, Mick believes the saboteur-killer is human and begins to investigate before Highland Studio is sent to rock and roll heaven forever.

The fifth Bruns’ Caribbean music mystery (see JAMAICA BLUE, BARBADOS HEAT and ST. BART’S BREAKDOWN ) is an entertaining whodunit filled with more spins than a 45 contains (no comment on age please). The story line is fast-paced from the moment Mick arrives on the Bahamas and never slows down as he seeks a motive for last year’s incident and the current events in the past of the studio and its owners. Fans will enjoy sleuthing with Sever as he tours the Bahamas.

Harriet Klausner


The Pain Nurse-Jon Talton

January 28, 2009

The Pain Nurse

Jon Talton

Poisoned Pen, Apr 2009, $24.95

ISBN: 9781590586242

At Cincinnati Memorial Hospital, Pain Nurse Specialist Cheryl Beth Wilson finds the corpse of Dr. Christine Lustig in an isolated office. The CPD homicide detectives quickly suspect Cheryl Beth killed the victim because of her affair with the deceased’s spouse.

One of Cheryl Beth patients, just out of surgery removing a tumor on his spinal cord, former homicide cop Will Borders feels like he suffers from déjà vu when on his gurney heading back to his room he glimpses the crime scene. It eerily reminds him of the Mount Adams Slasher, who was caught, convicted and executed. Bed-ridden and in severe pain, he is unable to make the cops including his former partner listen to him. Instead Will directs Beth on investigating the crime while someone nearby watches her every move.

THE PAIN NURSE is an excellent refreshing investigative thriller starring a detective stuck in bed and his “legs”; mindful of Jeffrey Deaver’s Lincoln Rhymes. The location plays a key part in this thriller as Jon Talton moves from Arizona (the Mapstone mysteries) to an Ohio hospital. Readers will feel empathy pain as Borders’ aches are that descriptive; on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being hurting at Mt. Everest levels, he is a 12. However, it is the recuperating patient and his pain nurse who team up as an unlikely investigative duet searching for a killer.

Harriet Klausner


Probable Claws-Clea Simon

January 28, 2009

Probable Claws

Clea Simon

Poisoned Pen, Apr 2009, $24.95

ISBN: 9781590585641

Helmhold House for Wayward Cats owners Violet and Caro are stunned when a donated batch of kibble is laced with poison. Neither can believe someone could be that cruel yet they assume it was deliberate. When their pal freelance writer Theda Krakow begs to differ as she assumes it was an accident, they become upset with her for trivializing their concerns; she takes a quick look at the shelter’s processes to see what safeguards exists.

When her beloved cat Musetta needs a tooth brushing, she drops her off with the shelter’s vet. When she returns she find Musetta soaked in blood and the vet Rachel dead with a scalpel wound. The police suspect Theda who investigates the murder to clear her name and regain her hope of a permanent position at the Morning Mail. She assumes the motive involves an irate sociopath opposed to the shelter combining the poisoned food with the vet’s murder

Fans will definitely enjoy this fun cat caper. Musetta is not only the traumatized eye witness to the homicide, the feline wipes clean much of the crime scene as sticky red does not blend well with her tuxedo look. Cat fans will enjoy Theda’s inquiry into the PROBABLE CLAWS behind the homicide.

Harriet Klausner


Lone Star-Edward Ifkovic

January 28, 2009

Lone Star

Edward Ifkovic

Poisoned Pen, Apr 2009, $24.95

ISBN: 9781590585870

In 1955 septuagenarian novelist Edna Ferber riding the success of her books is in Hollywood to work on the movie adaptation of her latest bestseller Giant. As the George Stevens’ directed movie is almost finished, rumors spread that one of the stars “Rebel Without a Cause” James Dean sired a child with unbalanced extra Carisa Krausse.

However, as the Warner Brothers studio worries about the negative publicity a child out of wedlock would bring, someone murders Carisa. The evidence points towards the volatile womanizing Dean as her killer. Though his ego is “So Big”, Edna likes the unique Dean who probably does not know that water exists outside of alcohol. With the help of actress Mercedes McCambridge, Edna investigates the homicide.

This engaging Hollywood historical mystery stars renowned novelist Edna Ferber who at first look is probably the last person to investigate a homicide. Starting with Edna and James Dean, the cast of Hollywood real people like McCambridge and Rock Hudson come to life. In fact the strong cast casts a giant shadow over the amateur sleuth prime theme. Still fans will enjoy Edna Gerber meets James Dean.

Harriet Klausner

Murder Takes a Cake-Gayle Trent

January 28, 2009

Murder Takes a Cake

Gayle Trent

Bell Bridge Books, Oct 2008, $14.95

ISBN: 0980245362

In Brea Ridge, Virginia is the owner of Daphne’s Delectable Cakes that she makes out of her home. Daphne Martin delivers her pastry to her grouchy demanding customer Yodel Watson but she finds the woman lying dead on her sofa.

Soon afterward, Yodel’s daughter Annabelle calls Daphne asking for a favor. She wants the cake baker to find her mother’s diary and hold it for her until she arrives. She finds the diary that contains plenty of gossip about everyone in the small town including Daphne’s mother and sister. Daphne realizes that almost every resident had a reason to want Yodel dead and the diary burned if they knew it existed. Unable to resist investigating the claims re her family, Daphne finds herself in trouble with her kin and in danger from a killer who thinks her inquiry is focused on the homicide.

This is an entertaining amateur sleuth culinary cozy starring an obstinate baker who needs to know the truth about her mom, her sister, others and the murder. The breezy story line is fun to follow although fans will pick out the killer early on. Even with several cooking sleuths like Diane Mott Davidson “Goldy”, Daphne is a solid lead character as she follows the murder recipe one step at a time to the delight of sub-genre readers.

Harriet Klausner

Feelers-Brian M. Wiprud

January 27, 2009

Feelers

Brian M. Wiprud

Minotaur (St. Martin’s), Mar 2009, $24.95

ISBN 9780312388614

Morty Martinez is a specialized house cleaner; after someone dies, he cleans their house. However, he makes more money as a “feeler” searching for the hidden cache of loot senior citizens leave behind.

In Brooklyn, Morty is euphoric to find $800,000 lying around while he cleaned the house. However, his find comes to the attention of his peers who want more than just a cut; the information also reaches an angry former cop who believes the loot in Brooklyn belongs to him as he believes it is part of an armored car robbery. Finally, one of the thieves who has just left prison having gained the useful skill of an ice pick killer and he wants his money; Morty better give it to him or risk a flash temper stabbing. Everyone targets Morty who thinks he can become the gringo lover of Mexican senoritas if he can escape from New York in one piece.

This is an enjoyable suspense thriller mindful of It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World as everyone seemingly in the Big Apple wants a bite out of the anti-hero’s butt. The story line is fast-paced once Morty finds the loot and even faster is the underground gossip network. Brian M. Wiprud provides the audience with a terrific tale in which Morty may be dreaming of senoritas, but he can’t safely get to New Jersey.

Harriet Klausner