Archive for March, 2009

Blood Moon-Gary Disher

March 31, 2009

Blood Moon

Gary Disher

Soho, Apr 2009, $24.00

ISBN: 9781569475638

In Waterloo, Queensland, Australia, someone attacked Lachlan Roe, chaplain to the exclusive Landseer private school. The victim was left in a coma and has connections to the highest levels of government. Detective Inspector Hal Challis knows that political ties mean interference to expedite results at all costs to the investigation he will lead with the help of his lover, Sergeant Ellen Destry and the rest of the team. Political big shot Ollie Hindmarsh has already made a TV appearance. Lachlan’s brother Dirk manages to compromise the crime scene to Challis’ consternation.

Adding to the already visible assault case is two incidents. One of Challis’ team Scobie Sutton who breached official policy when he allowed Dirk into his sibling’s home, has received hate racist email at his police address. At a time when Challis considers benching Scobie, a murder of a public official enforcing land use rules during schoolie week adds workload pressure.

The latest Challis Australian police procedural is a super investigative tale mostly because of the interaction of the Waterloo team. The story line is fast-paced with both cases engaging the reader from the onset. However, it is the byplay between the cops especially Hal and Ellen and Hal and Scobie who make this a fun read.

Harriet Klausner


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Dropped Dead Stitch-Maggie Sefton

March 31, 2009

Dropped Dead Stitch

Maggie Sefton

Berkley, Jun 2009, $24.95

ISBN: 9780425227749

Kelly Flynn left a big DC based CPA corporation to move to Fort Connor, Colorado where the pace is slower. She lives with her boyfriend Steve and visits House of Lambspun where she has made good friends with knitters and crocheters. When one of her knitting pals Jennifer Stowe calls her at two twenty in the morning begging her to come over because she was attacked, Kelly wastes no time to get over there.

Jennifer was at a bar talking to a fellow customer when she leaves to go home. The customer rings her bell and informs her she left something behind. She opens her door only he pushes her back in, beats her up and rapes her. She receives professional help. She and the knitters go to a retreat run by her psychologist for assault victims. However, the ranch owner is Jennifer’s rapist. Soon after their arrival, Jennifer’s attacker is found dead, a homicide victim. Lacking an alibi and having a motive, Jennifer is the prime suspect; Kelly plans to prove otherwise.

Kelly is a one person dynamo and when she sets her mind to something like knitting or sleuthing, nothing can prevent her from achieving her objective. She interrogates people whom she believes know something useful and has a tendency to come close to being killed. Yet she also is a friend who keeps Jennifer’s moral up. Her inquiry is terrific because she feels for the culprit whoever that is as they are probably a victim of the ranch owner too. Maggie Sefton provides an engaging amateur sleuth starring a warm caring person struggling along with readers to figure out who the killer is.

Harriet Klausner


Embarking on Murder-Sue Owens Wright

March 30, 2009

Embarking on Murder

Sue Owens Wright

Five Star, May 2009, $25.95

ISBN 9781594147807

To celebrate her fiftieth birthday, Tahoe Tattler reporter Elsie “Beanie” MacBean goes on a Fourth of July cruise accompanied by her significant other Cruiser the basset hound, her boyfriend Sheriff Skip Cassidy and her adult daughter Nona who came from San Francisco to celebrate with her mom. She is having a great time sailing on Lake Tahoe aboard the luxurious Dixie Queen.

However, she is not the only one celebrating a milestone on the cruise. Frank and Ivy Diggs are on the ship with his children from a previous marriage celebrating their wedding anniversary. To Frank’s shock, Ivy informs him she no longer wants to be a trophy wife for him to show off so she is filing for divorce. Soon after her announcement, Ivy vanishes and though no one reported anyone overboard and no corpse has been found, the crew believes she fell into the lake after imbibing too much alcohol and drowned. Skip thinks otherwise as he believes a murder occurred. His belief propels Beanie to investigate with her loyal significant sidekick at her side.

This lighthearted amateur sleuth is a fun Lake Tahoe tale starring an intrepid middle aged heroine who knows to stay out of an investigation after her dangerous escapdes in SIRIUS ABOUT MURDER and HOWLING BLOODY MURDER, but dives in head first anyway. The characters drive this entertaining tale as eccentrics like Professor Blayne researching the famous Tahoe Tessie lake monster, Nona and Skip bring depth to the murder mystery. However, the tale belongs to that fabulous couple Beanie and Cruiser who navigate the enjoyable cozy.

Harriet Klausner

To Hell in a Handbasket-Beth Groundwater

March 30, 2009

To Hell in a Handbasket

Beth Groundwater

Five Star, May 2009, $25.95

ISBN: 9781594147593

In Colorado Springs gift basket designer Claire Hanover looks forward to the ski trip with her family. However, tragedy on the slopes devastates everyone when the sister of her daughter Judy’s boyfriend dies in what is a homicide.

Claire vows to keep her daughter safe from the killer who knows Judy saw what happened and will come for her. However, Claire cannot prevent a murderer from killing others. As they remain alive while the body count rises, Claire knows the culprit is coming for her and her daughter, but to stop the adversary has proven difficult as he or she is one of them.

This is an entertaining amateur sleuth in which Claire risks her life to keep Judy safe. The story line is action-packed, but the serial killing becomes too obvious rather early in spite of some interesting spins. Still in her second Hanover Colorado mystery (see A REAL BASKET CASE), Beth Groundwater provides an interesting thriller as the killer is coming.

Harriet Klausner


Marine One-James W. Huston

March 30, 2009

Marine One

James W. Huston

St. Martin’s, May 2009, $24.95

ISBN 9780312364311

During a nasty storm, Marine One carrying President James Adams leaves for a top secret meeting at Camp David. Not far from the White House, the helicopter begins to rip apart before crashing to the ground; no one including PROTUS survived the crash.

A stunned despondent country encouraged by politicians and the media, blame the manufacturer of Marine One, a French based company, WorldCopter. Criminal neglect charges are considered against the CEO and other key officials. WorldCoptor hires Annapolis attorney Mike Nolan to defend it against the charges. Based on a cursory investigation, Mike quickly finds other parties who could be held liable for the tragedy. However, as he tries to obtain information as to whom Adams was scheduled to meet, unknown adversaries try to kill him and the Feds warn him to back off or else.

MARINE ONE is a fast-paced, action packed legal thriller that soars with the opening sequence and never takes a pause throughout. Told with a sarcastic jocularity especially by the hero who takes in stride being demonized by the media as he understands he is a lawyer, attacked by assassins as he understands he is a lawyer and threatened by the federal alphabet soup as he understands he is a lawyer. Exciting yet amusing, James W. Huston provides a wild entertaining tale.

Harriet Klausner

Darkness Under Heaven-F.J. Chase

March 29, 2009

Darkness Under Heaven

F.J. Chase

Mira, May 2009, $7.99

ISBN 9780778326946

Concerned for the safety of foreign VIP visitors attending a conference in China, the government hires American security expert Peter Avakian to provide personal security to the international attendees. At the same time, the U.S. government hires Avakian and physician Dr. Judy Rose, who has become an espionage agent, to help obtain the release of an American gymnast incarnated in Beijing on the charge of shoplifting.

However, the worst case scenario occurs when someone assassinates the Taiwanese president. Three Chinese soldiers attack Avakian, who kills them. Judy and Peter are in trouble as they know the Chinese government plans to arrest them if they are not killed. Forced to flee Beijing, their chances of getting out of the city let alone the country alive is slim to none.

The key to this exciting action-packed thriller is China as seen through foreigners on the run. Avakian is a terrific hero who keeps the story line focused while he and Dr. Rose are called terrorists by the Communist government, which will have readers pondering over who defines a terrorist and what the parameters are. Fans will enjoy Avakian’s tour of Beijing and beyond as escape seems almost impossible.

Harriet Klausner


The Soul Collector-Paul Johnston

March 29, 2009

The Soul Collector

Paul Johnston

Mira, May 2009, $7.99

ISBN: 0778325660

Crime writer and weekly columnist Matt Wells knows how lucky he is to have survived his encounter several years ago in London with the serial killer White Devil (see THE DEATH LIST); he even was dating the sister Sara Robbins of the deadly brilliant predator. Though the White Devil is no more, he still fears an avenging Sara even though his lover Detective Chief Investigator Karen Oaten, who once suspected he was the White Devil, swears Sara is no threat.

However, history sort of repeats it self when a renowned mystery writer is murdered; and Matt receives a message explaining that he can save the life of the next intended victim if he solves a word puzzle quick enough. As the death count rises along with the cryptic notes from the SOUL COLLECTOR, Matt knows once again he must face the devil without blinking.

This is as gripping a thriller as its predecessor. The Soul Collector is diabolical and methodical working through a death list that shakes Matt to the core. He feels like a murder magnet but knows what he must do even if Karen pleads with him to let the police handle it. Graphic and gruesomely grim, Paul Johnson writes an electrifying serial killer sequel even if predators sending taunting clues have become overused by the sub-genre.

Harriet Klausner


Silver Falls-Anne Stuart

March 28, 2009

Silver Falls

Anne Stuart

Mira, May 2009, $7.99

ISBN 9780778325970

Professor David Middleton persuades photographer Rachel Chapman to come to Silver Falls as his wife. He swears he will make a safe home for her and teenage daughter Sophie. After years of traveling, Rachel agrees.

However, she finds the idyllic Pacific Northwest college town depressing as it seems to rain everyday and when it is not pouring, it looks like it is about to storm. Worse, she finds David’s loving personality has turned to smothering her and her daughter. Starting to be concerned with his obsessive behavior, Rachel reconsiders whether she did the right thing in marrying the previously charming professor. When his brother, Caleb arrives in town, Rachel is stunned by her attraction him even as he mockingly rips holes in her lifestyle. When someone begins to serially murder girls who look like Sophie, Rachel fears her brother-in-law is the culprit with her terrified that her daughter will be his final curtain.

SILVER FALLS is a fast-paced suspense thriller starring a strong cast. The story line is fast-paced from the moment the newlyweds and her teen daughter arrive in town and never slows down. Although some of the “Notorious” excitement is lost because the killer is revealed early on, fans will enjoy Anne Stuart’s tale as Rachel risks her life to keep Sophie safe.

Harriet Klausner

Cursed-Carol Higgins Clark

March 28, 2009

Cursed

Carol Higgins Clark

Scribner, Apr 7 2009, $25.00

ISBN: 9781416562177

Regan Reilly is all alone in New York City while her husband NYPD Major Case Squad chief Jack Reilly (no blood relation) is in Miami attending a seminar and her parents are in Palm Beach. After being reminded to remove her property from her parents’ garage so they can park their cars inside, Regan moves her stuff into a Long Island City storage unit. On the way back to her car, she receives a call from her former apartment neighbor in Hollywood Hills Abigail Feeney.

Her former boyfriend Cody Castle borrowed $100K from her a few months ago to make a movie; he promised to pay her back in three months but instead vanished but recently was seen. She needs Regan to return to California to find him before her grandmother arrives in town to give her a condo as a birthday gift; that 100,000 is needed to pay part of the principal. Regan knows Abigail is a kind person who is a hairdresser to the stars but gives free styling at a nursing home so she agrees to help. However the case takes a spin when someone kills an old rich man she gave a haircut to and the police suspect Abigail in spite of her recent injury on a set. Regan needs to find the murderer, clear Abigail and get Cody which is all in a day’s work for the brilliant private investigator.

Regan leans no good deed goes unpunished as besides the cops seeking Abigail for questioning, a stalker believes she is married to the man who Abigail is house sitting for and tries to kill her. Abigail brings comic relief to the tense plot with her belief she is cursed by the number thirteen (read to learn why she reached her Triskaidekaphobia conclusion). Though a bit light Carol Higgins Clark provides another exciting fun to read mystery.

Harriet Klausner

Covenant Hall-Kathryn R. Wall

March 27, 2009

Covenant Hall

Kathryn R. Wall

Minotaur, May 2009, $24.95

ISBN 9780312375355

In Hilton Head, South Carolina private investigator Bay Tanner struggles with two difficult inquiries that are personal. Heart wrenching she needs to find rather quickly one of the long lost sisters of Joline Eastman, whose child Kimmie needs a bone marrow transplant from a suitable match donor before she dies from leukemia. Her other case is not life-threatening, but matters a great deal to her. She reads her dying father’s will in which he mentions Julia Simpson, a half-sister of whom Bay she never knew she had.

Bay is stunned when Joline’s friends and family refuse to cooperate in spite of the clock ticking on Kimmie’s life. On the other hand she is not stunned that Julia’s guardian has doubts and cocnerns about whether she should agree to the half-sister meeting. As her dad retired judge Talbot Simpson nears death, Bay also must decide whether she will actually marry her fiancé police sergeant Red Tanner, the brother of her deceased husband.

Both of Tanner’s cases hit her gut with the fury of a Tsunami. Frantic from the start she personalizes saving Kimmie’s life especially when no one who might have a clue cooperates, and obsesses over meeting Julia. Ironically though fans have waited for her decision whether to marry Red, in COVENANT HALL that feels minor and intrusive when compared to Kimmie and to a lesser degree Julia. Fans will relish Bay’s latest cases as each gets personal.

Harriet Klausner