Archive for February, 2009

Chinatown Angel-A.E. Roman

February 25, 2009

Chinatown Angel

A.E. Roman

Minotaur, Mar 17 2009, $24.95

ISBN: 9780312375003

In New York City, commercial actor Kirk Atlas hires private investigator Chico Santana to find his missing teenage cousin Tiffany, Chinese-Cuban American. His inquiry takes Chico to Queens where Pilar Menendez offers him money not return Tiffany to Kirk. Soon afterward, Chico observes someone pushes Pilar from the rooftop of her Astoria building.

Chico learns that Tiffany’s brother died from a heroin overdose and her father Samuel runs HMD Financial. The sleuth locates Tiffany and Irving Goldberg Jones, who is in hiding after writing a story about a person forced to OD on heroin. Still the case fails to tie together even as more deaths follow. He is abducted by Kirk’s crazy father, and an incriminating sex tape seems to be getting around the city.

This is a fun urban noir that lampoons the sub-genre as Chico is the man who has turned his life around since his wife Ramona kicked him out of their apartment and under the Pelham 123. Chico’s amusing asides as he escorts the audience through the boroughs make for a lighthearted tale. Fans who enjoy a tough hero will want to join Chico’s tour of Manhattan, Queens and the Bronx.

Harriet Klausner

In a Gilded Cage-Rhys Bowen

February 25, 2009

In a Gilded Cage

Rhys Bowen

Minotaur, Mar 17 2009, $23.95

ISBN: 9780312385347

Following a particularly cold New York winter, two friends of Molly Murphy persuade the private investigator to join the “Vassar Wants Votes for Women” march in the annual Easter Parade. On Fifth Avenue where the parade is held, Molly meets Emily Boswell and several of her socialite friends. They cause a disturbance and NYPD’s finest arrest Molly, Emily and the other women.

Molly’s fiancé exasperated police captain Daniel Sullivan gets the females released from their cell, but is uninterested in the women’s right to vote movement. Meanwhile Emily hires Molly to investigate the deaths of her missionary parents and the loss of their estate that she should have inherited; she cannot pay much of a fee because she is eeking out a living at a drugstore.

As always with this excellent early twentieth century Manhattan mystery series (see TELL ME, PRETTY MAIDEN), the time and place make for a terrific read. The Boswell inquiry and another investigation are cleverly drawn emphasizing that Molly’s sleuthing business is booming, but it is Rhys Bowen’s description of Easter Parade New York that makes for a vivid look back to the beginning of the last century.

Harriet Klausner


Payback-Solomon Jones

February 25, 2009

Payback

Solomon Jones

Minotaur, Mar 17 2009, $23.95

ISBN: 9780312348380

Municipal Court of Philadelphia Judge Myra Weaks is ruling whether Karima “Cream” Thomas must stand trial for the death of her boyfriend, Duane Faision (see C.R.E.A.M.). As the Judge states there is efficient evidence for Ms. Thomas to stand trial for murder and the accused insists an accident during a shoot out occurred, a scream is heard by all inside the courtroom by someone outside.

Karima, worried about her mom’s reaction to the recent tragic events, recognizes the voice and rushes out to the hallway. There she finds her mother Sharon Thomas dying from a puncture wound in her neck; the Ice Pick serial killer has struck. Karima vows to avenge her mom’s death. However, as the killer goes on a rampage murdering anyone he had the slightest grudge with, Karima follows his icy blood trail looking for a confrontation.

This is a wild satirical sequel starring a kick butt African-American heroine who takes no prisoners as shown by the opening argument between her and the Judge over the merit of her late drug dealing boyfriend and never slows down as Cream takes readers on a tour of the city. The story line is fast-paced and filled with action while the audience anticipates a final grudge match winner takes all between the diabolically brilliant profiling Ice Pick killer and the heroine, mindful of Cleopatra Jones.

Harriet Klausner

Tight Lie-Don Dahler

February 25, 2009

Tight Lie

Don Dahler

Minotaur, Mar 17 2009, $24.95

ISBN: 9780312383503

Someone hammers Hollywood actress Holly Ann Cramer with a cappuccino machine, rapes her and murders her with six vicious stabs to her heart. Because the homicide is excessively violent implying a crime of passion, LAPD suspects the victim’s boyfriend, all star baseball player Joniel Baker, who was ending their relationship but swears he did not kill her.

Joniel asks his friend private investigator Huck Doyle to investigate the murder as the prime suspect does not trust the police to look beyond him. Huck, who has a law degree that he does not use and is a licensed private investigator who has license that he does use when he is not sinking the putt on the PGA tour, which is frequently, reluctantly agrees. Complicating the case is a second victim also containing DNA that implicated Joniel. With the help of his disgraced father and his paraplegic brother, Huck begins to believe Joniel’s claim he is being set up

The Doyle family makes this a fine sports mystery as the Huckster narrates the whodunit with a string of enthusiastic birdies about golf, murder and the collapse of society. His two relatives are total opposites when it comes to investigations; dad the ex LAPD cop says the end is all that matters while the brother the ex FBI agent insists the means is just as important. Although the inquiry is conveniently helped, sub-genre fans especially golfers will enjoy Don Dahler’s delightful debut as Huck beats par for the course.

Harriet Klausner

Hunted-P.C. Cast and Kristen Cast

February 25, 2009

Hunted

P.C. Cast and Kristen Cast

St. Martin’s Griffin, Mar 2009, $17.95

ISBN: 9780312379827

Stevie Rae’s blood splashed the earth where Kalona emerged from the earth. He was imprisoned a millennia ago by the wise women of the Cherokee because he raped their women. They created out of the earth a woman A-ya who lured him into a cave and trapped him underground. He was released due to work if the High Priestess of Nyx who wants Kalona as a consort. He is one of the Fallen but looks like a beautiful and he is deadly ruthless and evil. He wants fledgling vampyre Zoey Redbird who he believes is A-ya. She and the others escape into the tunnels near their school the House of night.

A Raven Mocker, Kalona’s children he got on Cherokee Woman are part bird and part human wound her. Through her friends she is kept from dying, but must return to the House of Night. She needs to be near a fully formed vampyres because she is a fledgling and is not as strong as a fully aged vampyre. Otherwise she will die. While at the school Kalona enters her dreams trying to turn her away from the Goddess Nyx because he believes she is A-ya reincarnated. They must stop him and the High Priestess Neferet who brought him back to life otherwise the whole school will abandon the Goddess and turn to the dark.

HUNTED is an appealing supernatural thriller that focuses on a fledgling vampire who must believe in the Goddess while having an affinity for the five elements when most newcomers have none or one. She is being groomed to become the High Priestess and the decisions she make shows a maturity (caused by events in the previous four novels) that belies her being a teen. The exciting story line is filled with teenage angst as Zoe struggles with choices that would cause PTSD in most adults. Like the Twilight saga, this fine entry casts a strong spell on readers.

Harriet Klausner

Afterthoughts-Lynn Tincher

February 24, 2009

Afterthoughts

Lynn Tincher

BlackWyrm, Mar 2009, $11.95

ISBN: 9780982006726

In Louisville, Kentucky widow Sarah Steckler still grieves the murder of her spouse Anthony when another tragedy strikes. She calls her foster sister Detective Paige Aldridge pleading with her to come over as her son Richie is dead. Paige would do anything for Sarah who was there for her last year when an assault left her with no memory.

Paige and her partner Jay Vittidini arrive at the death scene with the evidence overwhelmingly supporting suicide. Richie’s note implies he killed his dad and consequently hurt his mom. Meanwhile his death triggers memories of her kidnapping assault that she had obviously repressed and visions of homicides. Paige fears she is losing her mind with three traumas in a year and the deadly dreams; however mysterious Junna Breck visits Paige offering her help even as the detective believes her extended family is under siege from a serial killer.

This is a strange, but exciting well written police procedural starring an intriguing lead character whose family appears to be the foci of a serial killer though she has no idea why. The support cast makes the tale as Jay worries his partner may be psychologically over the edge with her theory linking her brutal kidnapping to the murder of her brother-in-law and the suicide of her nephew while Junna is enigmatic with her offer of help. Young adult fans will enjoy Lynn Tincher tense thriller as the heroine (and readers) begins to have AFTERTHOUGHTS about what has happened and she fears will happen in future Mind Bending tales.

Harriet Klausner

Unseen-Nancy Bush

February 23, 2009

Unseen

Nancy Bush

Zebra, Apr 2009, $6.99

ISBN 9781420103403

She awakens confused in a bed that is obviously in an Oregon hospital. Winslow County Sheriff’s Department Detective Will Tanninger is at her side and tells her she is at Laurelton general Hospital; he asks her name and after a hesitation says Gemma LaPorte. Her last memory was making breakfast while it was raining outside; he tells her it has not rained near here for three days. Finally he explains that she is his prime suspect in a hit and run that critically injured child molester Edward Letton, also in the hopspital but with much more severe injuries.

Gemma suffers from traumatic induced amnesia, but could the trauma be hitting Letton as her face is battered perhaps from a steering wheel and she suffered a concussion. She also does not look close at the description provided by the young soccer player Carol Pelltor who Letton was targeting when he was mowed down. However, the mystery spins further as a serial killer who burns his victims somehow connects to Gemma’s slowly returning memories.

This is an exhilarating suspense thriller that cleverly contrasts a romantic subplot between Will and Gemma with a dark mystery. The story line is fast-paced and filled with action. However, the key to this tale is the comparisons as Will and Gemma’s relationship slowly turns warmer and lovingly, a serial killer turns nastier. Fans will relish Nancy Bush’s taut thriller as she leaves the colorful Jane Kelly mysteries for a much darker and intense suspense.

Harriet Klausner

The Fifteenth Letter-Karen Wiesner and Chris Spindler

February 23, 2009

The Fifteenth Letter

Karen Wiesner and Chris Spindler

Swimming Kangaroo Books December 2008, $14.99

ISBN: 1934041629

In 1989 Nelson Salim and Zeke Carfi entered a bank to rob it while the former’s wife Serena sat in the getaway car with their son Roman. When Nelson started to kill the bank manager, Zeke interceded. Nelson ended up dead while Zeke went to prison. Nelson’s wife and child vowed vengeance on Zeke and his kin.

Every year on the anniversary of the botched bank job, Zeke receives a letter from his late partner’s bitter widow. Fifteen years later, Zeke’s twenty-four years old daughter Amber is a patrol officer assigned to the Falcon’s Bend Police Department for the past two years. Now that Zeke is out of prison, Amber is confused how to deal with her father whom she worshipped as her hero when she was a small child. Still she asks him to move in with her; mostly because she hopes to keep him out of trouble. However, when she receives THE FIFTEENTH LETTER, she understands what occurred to destroy her image. Now someone is stalking Amber and her police partner Warren Jensen vows to keep the woman he is attracted to safe.

This is an exciting suspense thriller supported by a mystery (Amber’s need to know why her hero turned bank robber) and a hint of romance (between the police partners). The key to this interconnected family drama is all the prime players from the Salim and Carfi families behave plausible with vengeance and death being the links. Fans will relish this fine tale as the truth will not set anyone free because the pivotal moment in the past will always haunt those still living.

Harriet Klausner

The Bellini Card-Jason Goodwin

February 22, 2009

The Bellini Card

Jason Goodwin

FSG, Mar 3 2009, $25.00

ISBN: 9780374110390

In 1840, the new Ottoman Empire Sultan Abdulmecid orders the eunuch Yashim to travel to Venice to obtain a portrait of Mehmet the Conqueror painted by Bellini. However, before leaving for Italy, Resid Pasha directs Yashim to keep the expenses including the purchase down. Yashim asks his friend impoverish Polish Ambassador Stanislaw Palewski to masquerade as an American to help locate the portrait of the hero who took Constantinople from the Christians in the fifteenth century.

In Venice while Palewski conducts his search, a killer has murdered two dealers connected to the Bellini masterpiece. Soon the Polish Ambassador becomes a target of this unknown murderer, but Yashim working from the shadows keeps his friend safe while trying to obtain the painting.

The third Yashmin historical thriller (see THE JANISSARY TREE and THE SNAKE STONE) is an enjoyable fascinating look at Venice and at the Ottoman Empire. Interestingly Yashim plays second fiddle for much of the early part of the novel, but once he comes on stage, he and his adversary battle in am electrifying contest. Fans will enjoy this terific nineteenth century mystery due in part to the investigations into the portrait and the killer, but also because of the deep sense of time and place.

Harriet Klausner

No More Dying-David Roberts

February 22, 2009

No More Dying

David Roberts

Soho, Feb 2009, $25.00

ISBN: 9781569475393

In 1939 England, M15 sends Lord Edward Corinth to Lady Aster’s estate of Clivedon in Buckinghamshire to determine the relative strength of the Hitler appeasers headquartered there and to uncover the identity of Nazi super assassin Der Adler. At the same time his fiancée Communist Party sympathizer reporter Verity Brown arrives to ascertain the sympathies of the American Ambassador to England Joseph Kennedy.

However, soon after their arrival, a Communist comrade and two other visitors are murdered. Corinth and Brown team up on the investigation with clues leading to the IRA or the Kennedy clan. Both wonder if Der Adler is behind the homicides with a plot to destroy the growing Anglo-American alliance by taking out the prime English supporter Winston Churchill.

Although the climax seems too typical of the sub-genre for what is a very complicated pre WWII thriller, fans will appreciate the latest Corinth-Brown historical tale. The story line is fast-paced from the moment the engaged couple arrive at the Astor estate and never slows down until the final confrontation with a killer. Corinth is his usual decadent elitist self while Brown has begun doubting the Communists. Fans of the series will enjoy their preparations for their marriage begins with stopping a killer whose goal is to destroy the cross Atlantic alliance.

Harriet Klausner