Archive for March, 2009

Even-Andrew Grant

March 27, 2009


Andrew Grant

Minotaur, May 2009, $24.95

ISBN 9780312540265

In New York City, Royal Navy Intelligence Officer Lieutenant Commander David Trevellyan has completed a mission when he sees the corpse in an alley. A bum has six bullet holes arranged in fastidiously geometric order in his chest. David calls 911.

The police immediately look at David as the prime and only suspect. However, before they can investigate, the FBI takes control of the case; as the victim is the sixth undercover agent murdered in such a manner in recent months. The Feds also look at David as more evidence surfaces that tie him to the murders. He knows his British intel agency must disown any knowledge of him, as standard operating procedure requires; so David knows he must find the predator with insider information setting him up to take the fall.

This is an exciting thriller with a few super twists including tidbits about David’s past that will keep and maintain the audience’s attention throughout wondering what comes next. The story line is fast-paced and filled with plenty of action as David and readers rarely get a respite before something else occurs. Andrew Grant writes a fabulous tale as as the beleaguered Intel officer knows he is being set up for the fall and has no safety net from his agency; leaving it to him to extract himself from the frame before some agent decides to permanently make him the culprit by killing him.

Harriet Klausner

Father’s Day-Keith Gilman

March 27, 2009

Father’s Day

Keith Gilman

Minotaur, May 2009, $24.95

ISBN 9780312383657

Louis Klein and Sam Blackwell were partners on the Philadelphia Police Department. Knowing how dangerous their jobs were, they not just had each other’s back, they vowed to take care of each others dependents if something happened to one of them. Sam ultimately committed suicide while Louis left the force.

Sam’s widow Sarah begs Louis to help her. Her teenage daughter, Carol Ann has disappeared somewhere on the streets of Philadelphia. Mindful of his vow to Sam and having a free spirited daughter of his own, Louis begins the search for Carol Ann, but soon finds out some sleazy information about the Blackwell family.

Though some of the crime scenes detract form an otherwise terrific investigative Noir as they have been overused in books and movies, FATHER’S DAY will hook readers once Klein works the mean streets of the City of Brotherly Love. Klein makes the tale work as he is propelled to find Sam’s daughter as much from their joint vows as from the nightmarish thought that this could be his late partner searching for his offspring. Fans will agrees FATHER’S DAY is a worthy winner of the Minotaur Books/PWA Best First Private Eye Novel award.

Harriet Klausner

In the Shadow of Gotham-Stefanie Pintoff

March 27, 2009

In the Shadow of Gotham

Stefanie Pintoff

Minotaur, May 2009, $24.95

ISBN 9780312544904

In the summer of 1904, the steamship General Slocum catches fire in the East River. Many die including the fiancée of NYPD Detective Simon Ziele who also lost the use of his right arm. Distraught, Ziele quits the force, leaves the big city, and accepts a law enforcement position in rustic Dobson in Westchester County just outside the Bronx.

However, the quiet community is shocked with the violent murder of Columbia mathematician Sarah Wingate. The culprit in a rage slashed and bashed the graduate student numerous times in her home. Ziele’s investigation is superseded by an inquiry by criminologist Alistair Sinclair, who swears he can identify the killer, but must prove it.

Readers will understand why the engaging IN THE SHADOW OF GOTHAM won the first Minotaur Books/MWA Best First Crime Novel award. The story line provides the audience with a superb police procedural anchored strongly in early twentieth century Westchester County with entries like the General Slocum calamity and other tidbits. Ziele is a terrific lead character still grieving his loss of his fiancee; so though he ran away from NYPD he buries himself in the investigation. Stefanie Pintoff provides a wonderful historical mystery.

Harriet Klausner

The Last Child-John Hart

March 27, 2009

The Last Child

John Hart

Minotaur, May 2009, $24.95

ISBN 9780312359324

In rural North Carolina, twelve year old Alyssa Merrimon was going home from the library when she vanished. Police Detective Clyde Hunt led the failed investigation and marshaled the townsfolk to search for the child, but she was never found nor were any clues of foul play uncovered. The case has since turned cold with people feelings sorry for the Merrimon matriarch and Alyssa’s twin; the father simply left soon after his daughter disappeared.

Although everyone else has given up on finding Alyssa as the assumption is she is dead, her twin brother Johnny refuses to end his search though one year has passed since she disappeared. He walks every street going door to door and even confronts known sex offenders. Hunt worries the two Merrimon have lost their minds as Johnny obsesses and his mom has mentally withdrawn in a breakdown. Johnny gains renewed hope when a second abduction occurs as he believes the same culprit took his sibling.

Obstinate Johnny as THE LAST CHILD searching for his missing twin brings pathos and tension to this exhilarating small town thriller. Slowly step by step he begins to uncover secrets that place him in danger; but though he knows his life is at risk he refuses to give up his quest. Fans will not just root for the brave boy, but accompany him all the way as a small town that looks idyllically rustic conceals danger lurking behind the serene façade.

Harriet Klausner

Fatally Flakey-Diane Mott Davidson

March 27, 2009

Fatally Flakey

Diane Mott Davidson

Morrow, Apr 7 2009, $25.99

ISBN: 9780061348136

Aspen Meadow, Colorado caterer Goldy Schulz has no time to breathe as she works on two wedding receptions. Balancing both would be tough enough, but one of the brides is out of control with last second demands. Trying to satisfy the poster girl of bridezillas is taking a toll on Goldy.

Traveling to one of the ceremonies, retired Harold “Doc” Finn dies in mysterious circumstances. Goldy considers Doc might have been murdered though she admits to herself it could have been a tragic accident. When someone attacks Goldy’s godfather Jack Carmichael, who was Doc’s buddy, the caterer feels her hunch is affirmed. While her police husband Tom wants her to remain in the kitchen, Goldy investigates anyway.

The latest Goldy culinary amateur sleuth (with some limited police procedural elements hovering sort of in the background) is an amusing yet suspenseful tale as nothing seems to go right for the caterer to the delight of her fans. The story line easily shifts gear between the humorous antics of Bridezilla (funny as long as you are not the target) and others to the whodunit. Goldy, Tom, assistant culinary assistant, Julian and the rest of the cast make for a SWEET REVENGE cozy.

Harriet Klausner

Liars Anonymous-Louise Ure

March 26, 2009

Liars Anonymous

Louise Ure

Minotaur, Apr 2009, $25.95

ISBN: 0312375867

In Phoenix, Arizona, HandsOn Emergency roadside emergency service operator Jessie Dancing receives a frantic call from developer Darren Markson, whose car was rear-ended in the Tucson area, but the background noise led her to believe someone is killing him. She calls the police, but breaks company regulations by also following up on her own time by visiting his wife Emily who insists he is alive and well to her shock.

Jessie lived in Tucson until three years ago when she was arrested for the murder of cruel Walter Racine, who had abused his niece, her friend Catherine Chandliss, and apparently targeted his grand niece Katie. Jessie was not convicted in court and moved away. However, when teenager Felicia Villalobos, whom she meets at the site of the Markson accident and is a witness to the incident, dies in a car explosion, PPD Detective Len Sabin and Tucson DA Ted Dresden salivate as they have a second chance at the Queen of Liars Anonymous who they feel got away with one homicide.

Jessie makes this a vigorous unique thriller as the police and the DA plan to throw the book at her, not so much for the current homicide, but because they strongly feel she got away with murder a few years ago. Though Jessie has issues and somewhat wilts under the pressure, she also gets stronger and feistier. As the violence surges, with a great final spin Louise Ure provides an excellent tale of a woman in trouble from both sides of the law.

Harriet Klausner

Killer Keepsakes-Jane K. Cleland

March 26, 2009

Killer Keepsakes

Jane K. Cleland

Minotaur, Apr 14 2009, $24.95

ISBN: 0312369441

Portsmouth, New Hampshire antiques dealer Josie Prescott becomes concerned when her always responsible assistant Gretchen Brock fails to come to work two days in a row and does not call. This is so out of character for the reliable Gretchen, an extremely concerned Josie goes to her assistant’s apartment to see if she is all right. Instead of finding Gretchen, Josie finds the corpse of an unknown thirty something bloodied male lying on the sofa.

Josie believes Gretchen is innocent of at least the homicide though she wonders about a missing valuable vase no longer in the apartment; but also realizes she knows very little about her assistant who has worked for her for four years. The police consider the vanished woman as the prime suspect in the murder. Adding to the mystery is Josie’s two friends deny knowing where she is or much about her past and the missing Meissen vase appears in the shop’s safe. Finally reporter Wes Smith claims Gretchen obtained her current Social Security number four years ago. As she traces the vase back to a Denver homicide and robbery, Josie realizes who the victim was, how that person was related to Gretchen, and who her assistant was prior to her hiring her. However, if Gretchen did not commit the homicide who did remains out of Josie’s reach.

The latest Josie Prescott Antiques mystery (see ANTIQUES TO DIE FOR and DEADLY APPRAISAL) is a superb amateur sleuth invigorated by who is the focus of the heroine’s inquiry. As always readers obtain an interesting look at antiques interwoven into the exciting story line. Josie is at her best as she believes deep in her soul that Gretchen is no killer, but the evidence is damning. As Josie connects the dots between the Meissen murder and the current homicide, readers will enjoy a strong brisk New England cozy.

Harriet Klausner

The Last Secret-Mary McGarry Morris

March 26, 2009

The Last Secret

Mary McGarry Morris

Shaye Areheart (Crown), Apr 7 2009, $25.00

ISBN: 9780307451279

Seventeen year old Nora Trimble spends eight dangerous days with her psychotic boyfriend Eddie Hawkins that ends in violence. Nora moves on and marries wealthy Kendall “Ken” Hammond, whose family owns the Franklin Chronicle newspaper in Franklin, Massachusetts newspaper. They have two kids and their life together is near perfect.

Twenty-six years have passed since the horrifying incident and Nora has all but forgotten it. However, her idyllic world collapses when the two men in her life hammer at her psyche with revelations. Serial killing Eddie by simply returning to blackmail her and Ken by informing her he has had a four year old affair with his teen girlfriend sweetheart Robin Gendron, the wife of his best friend. Eddie finds an additional reason to hang around as he obsesses over Robin.

This engaging family thriller is fast-paced once Eddie returns and never slows down as secrets almost three decades old and present are revealed. The cast is fully developed to the point that the audience understands them and to a degree sympathizes with every one of the key players, even psycho Eddie. Though the events and people may have changed, Mary McGarry Morris makes a case that history repast itself if one fails to learn from the previous mistake. Fans will enjoy the aptly titled THE LAST SECRET as several beleaguered souls fight to regain some equilibrium while considering Paradise Lost will never become Paradise Regained.

Harriet Klausner

Living Witness-Jane Haddam

March 26, 2009

Living Witness

Jane Haddam

Minotaur, Apr 14 2009, $25.95

ISBN: 9780312380861

Philadelphians Gregor Demarkian and his longtime significant other Bennis Hannaford prepare for their upcoming wedding. However, in Snow Hill, Pennsylvania someone batters nonagenarian Ann-Victoria Hadley; the elderly woman clings to life, but is in a coma.

Skipping the egomaniac state police, Snow Hill Police Chief Gary Albright asks former FBI agent Gregor to investigate the attempted murder. He readily agrees so he can escape the last second wedding preparations as he did recently when he fled to Margaret’s Harbor in New England to conduct an investigation (see CHEATING AT SOLITAIRE). He begins his inquiries seeking who might want Ann-Victoria dead. He learns she just became a member of the school board after she co-filed in court a civil lawsuit to prevent the teaching of intelligent design in the town’s public schools. Two other plaintiffs in that lawsuit are soon killed. Gregor fears a creationist is behind the assault until additional clues make him consider a detour outside the intelligent design debate.

The prime plot, the whodunit investigation, is superb as always in this great series. This entry is enhanced by a look at the Intelligent-Design-Evolution education debate as Jane Haddam insures the arguments of both sides are lucid and each side’s supporter sharp. However, Gregor’s inquiry remains the focus even with a deep look at the dispute over what should be taught as part of a public school science curriculum.

Harriet Klausner

Dead Man’s Puzzle-Parnell Hall

March 26, 2009

Dead Man’s Puzzle

Parnell Hall

Minotaur, Apr 14 2009, $24.95

ISBN: 9780312373993

Bakerhaven, Connecticut police chief Dale Harper asks crossword columnist Cora “the Puzzle Lady” Felton to solve a crossword puzzle found at the death bed of nonagenarian cancer victim Herbert Overmeyer. However Cora is the front as her reticent niece Sherry Carter is the real Puzzle Lady, but she and her husband Aaron Grant are away on their African honeymoon.

Needing help, Cora asks her friend corpulent puzzle maker Harvey Beerbaum to assist her. As he solves the puzzle, which seems to offer no help to the death, the autopsy reveals Herbert died from arsenic poisoning. Dale and Cora go to a remote cabin where they find a gun that ties Herbert to a five decade old Alabama convenience store robbery. Sherry’s former husband Dennis investigates in an effort to get his ex back, but his mouth on TV may have led to the murder of Herbert’s next door neighbor. A third related homicide also occurs.

Besides the usual fun crosswords and sudoku puzzles, the latest Puzzle Lady whodunit is one of the strongest entries in recent years as Cora seeks alternative solutions. The story line is action-packed, but driven by feisty Cora who teams up with Dale to investigate the first homicide that has ties to a crime fifty years ago and leads to more murders (complements of Dennis). Readers will enjoy puzzling through the mystery and newcomers will seek to solve previous cases (see THE SUDOKU PUZZLE MURDERS).

Harriet Klausner