Archive for April, 2009

The Late, Lamented Molly Marx-Sally Koslow

April 26, 2009

The Late, Lamented Molly Marx

Sally Koslow

Ballantine, May 19 2009, $25.00

ISBN: 9780345506207

Thirty-five year old upper class mom of a precocious preschool daughter Annabel, Molly Marx led a divine life until her battered corpse is found next to her bike near the Hudson. She arrives at Duration holding station in limbo unaware of what happened to her. As she awaits her afterlife fate, Molly watches the investigation by NYPD into her death.

Though it could have been a horrific accident or even suicide, the Manhattan detective Hiawatha Hicks believes murder occurred and look closely at everyone associated with Molly. The prime suspects range from her cheating spouse plastic surgeon Barry; her demanding catty mother-in-law Kitty; the victim’s lover Luke; her twin Lucy; her best friend Brie; and a chorus line of Barry lovers particularly his latest Stephanie who all want to be wife number two even before Molly is buried. Escorted by Bob the spiritual guide, Molly returns to Manhattan to insure her loved ones especially her child are okay and to learn why someone wanted her dead even as she recognizes her faults.

THE LATE, LAMENTED MOLLY MARX is a terrific paranormal police procedural seen mostly through the eyes of the dead victim. Molly is fabulous as she holds the earthy and after life plots together. Readers meet the suspects through Molly’s lens; for instance her twin comes across grieving and deranged, her child misses her mommy, her spouse deserves the Wilt Chamberlain award for scoring; and Brie and Hiawatha seem attracted to one another. Although the ending is not quite as powerful as the visits to the celestial and Upper West Side neighborhoods, Sally Koslow provides a deep character driven crime thriller.

Harriet Klausner

My Soul to Take-Yrsa Sigurdardottir

April 25, 2009

My Soul to Take

Yrsa Sigurdardottir

Morrow, Apr 28 2009, $24.99

ISBN: 0061143383

Jonas Juliusson buys a health spa in Snaefellsnes on Iceland‘s west coast with the help of his attorney single mother of two Thora Gudmundsdottir. However, he fears the property is haunted so he invites Thora to stay and investigate, which she agrees though feeling he is being silly heeding local myths.

Upon arriving at the spa, Thora is greeted with the mutilated corpse of architect Birna Halldorsdottir who designed the new building. Jonas is the prime suspect since he sent the victim a text message to meet him at the place she was found dead. A second body also battered is soon found. Thora quickly changes her inquiry from ghost hunting to homicide hunting.

MY SOUL TO TAKE is an exciting Icelandic amateur sleuth mystery starring a wonderful attorney who begins to slowly find clues that lead to several suspects with motives. The story line is fast-paced from the moment the single mom finds the first corpse and never slows down as the brave lawyer makes her inquiries while another body surfaces. Sub-genre fans will enjoy this fine mystery while seeking Thora’s last case (see LAST RITUALS).

Harriet Klausner

Cemetery Dance-Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child

April 25, 2009

Cemetery Dance

Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child

Grand Central, May 12 2009, $26.99

ISBN: 9780446580298

In Manhattan, New York Times William Smithback and his wife Museum of Natural History anthropologist Nora Kelly arrive home after celebrating their first anniversary with plans to do more rejoicing. Instead they are attacked in their apartment building by a neighbor, out of work British actor Colin Fearing. To the horror of Kelly; her beloved spouse is killed during the assault while his crazed killer leaves.

NYPD obtains testimony from Nora and others who saw Fearing murder Smithback and the building’s surveillance tape captures Fearing leaving dripping blood everywhere. The case is solved except for one problem as FBI Agent Aloysius Pendergast and New York Police Lieutenant Vincent D’Agosta learn; Fearing died two weeks ago having been found in the Hudson River.

Fans will be stunned with the opening sequence when long time secondary character Smithback is killed. That just sets the table for a great tense police thriller as Agent Pendergast investigates how could a dead man commit murder? The above paragraphs are the beginning of a great taut tale that fans will appreciate and newcomers will look for Aloysius’ back cases (see THE WHEEL OF DARKNESS).

Harriet Klausner


Sworn To Silence-Linda Castillo

April 23, 2009

Sworn To Silence

Linda Castillo

Minotaur, Jun 23 2009, $24.95

ISBN: 9780312374976

Painters Mill, Ohio is a quiet serene small-town until a serial killer begins carving Roman numbers into each victim’s abdomen. The case is identical to what drove the current Police Chief Kate Burkholder from her Amish background as a teen; four people died sixteen years ago in an identical ritual.

Kate knows why the homicides abruptly ended back then and that the current copy cat killer cannot be the same psychopath. Meanwhile the politicians are nervous that they will be punished by the public for being soft on crime due to the lack of progress by the cops as more victims die. They set up a multi-jurisdictional task force to allegedly assist Kate, but consisting of mostly sycophant moles who report to the politicos and not the chief; she in turn finds them a nuisance examining her every move rather than that of the killer.

Although there are enough serial killers in literature to wipe out Ohio, readers will enjoy SWORN TO SILENCE; a strong police procedural refreshed by the Amish connection that enables the audience to compare how the two prime groups react to the murders then and now. Kate is a wonderful protagonist struggling emotionally with déjà vu homicides, politicians who ironically some object to Darwinism yet are the classic example of survival, and walking the thin blood line between her Amish childhood and her English job. Fans will enjoy Linda Castillo’s brisk take on how two distinct groups behave with a deadly predator in their midst.

Harriet Klausner


Nothing but Trouble-Susan May Warren

April 22, 2009

Nothing but Trouble

Susan May Warren

Tyndale, May 2009, $13.99

ISBN: 9781414313122

A decade has passed since PJ Sugar crawled like crab legs out of her hometown of Kellogg, Minnesota filled with remorse and guilt. Over the next few years, PJ found no purpose in life drifting from job to job and from trouble to trouble. She is finally coming home for the first time in ten years to attend her sister the attorney Connie’s wedding to tae kwon do coach Sergei as mom broke her ankle playing tennis. She is still wearing the mantle of shame. PJ will watch Connie’s four year old son Davy while she is on her honeymoon.

PJ plans to be on her best behavior while keeping her stay short. However, her intentions implode when her former teacher, Hoffman, is murdered. Police Officer Boone Buckham arrests her best friend Trudi’s husband Jack Wilkes because he assaulted the history teacher. PJ investigates though she knows that will put her at odds with the lead cop her former high school boyfriend (and rabble-rouser).

This is an interesting Christian amateur sleuth starring a sort of female Uncle Buck that for the most part avoids over preaching. PJ is a fascinating protagonist who comes home to watch a nephew she never met, care for a mom in a wheelchair due to the busted ankle, work closely with her non English speaking in-laws, and solve a murder mystery while eluding her attraction to Boone with her rep as nickname NBT (NOTHING BUT TROUBLE) to live down. Readers will enjoy the misadventures of PJ Sugar who knows for sure that the person who said you can’t go home came from Kellogg, Minnesota.

Harriet Klausner


Killing Red-Henry Perez

April 21, 2009

Killing Red

Henry Perez

Pinnacle, Jun 1 2009, $6.99

ISBN: 9780786020324

Kenneth Lee Grubb kidnapped and killed nine children he believed were demons and also sanctioned by God’s blessing needed to send back to hell. Only Annie Sykes escaped his execution; she gave the police his description and directions to his home. He was caught, tried and convicted to die.

Reporter Alex Chapa covered the gruesome story for the Tri-Cities Bulletin fifteen years ago. That story gave him recognition that led to his current position with the more prestigious Chicago Record. Six days before the State executes him, Grubb calls Chapa inviting him to interview him. In between his boasts of being a weapon for the good of mankind, he informs him that a copy cat serial killer is repeating his murders; only this predator plans to finish the job he failed to complete, killing “Red” as he calls Sykes. Alex quickly learns there are nine people dead as homage by someone to Grubb. Chapa vows to find and keep Annie safe not fully understanding the devilish scheme of Grubb’s “protégé”.

Readers will enjoy Henry Perez’s strong first tale because the key characters come across as real. Grubb especially is a fascinating antagonist in a macabre sense as he invokes the need to be rid of demons for killing the children. Alex is a solid reporter, but proves he is made of the right stuff as he follows up on Grubb’s rant risking his life to keep a woman he does not know outside of her childhood testimony safe. Fast-paced from the onset, readers will enjoy this action-packed riveting thriller as murder is done in the name of getting rid of demons that look like children.

Harriet Klausner

Capture-Robert K. Tanenbaum

April 20, 2009

Capture

Robert K. Tanenbaum

Pocket, Jun 2009, $26.00

ISBN: 1439148600

Broadway musical producer F. Lloyd Maplethorpe is counting on his reputation to keep him going as his last few shows have been flops. He hopes his latest venture will prove successful as he is arranging Putin: the Musical for the live theatre. One night he calls the concierge to come up to his apartment; Harry arrives only to see the body of a dead woman who had a part in the show. Lloyd tells Harry “I think I killed her”. At his trial, Maplethorpe changes his tune stating she committed suicide; as happens frequently at celebrity trials, the jury is split. New York District Attorney Roger “Butch” Karp intends to prosecute the retrial. His private security specialist wife, Marlene Ciampi finds a frightened witness who she protects.

Meanwhile the Sons of Man, a group with members in all levels of authority, are using the Muslims to create an incident that will surpass 9/11 in horror and death. They plan to make it seem Iran did the dastardly deed so that they can seize total power in a coup. The daughter of Ciampi and Karp, an agent for a top secret government group, Lucy is captured by the group’s leader as she had begun to get to close to uncovering their devious scheme. Karp and Ciampi have to change direction as New York City is under internal Armageddon.

Part legal thriller and part ant-terrorist conspiracy thriller, CAPTIVE is an exhilarating fast-paced, but over the top of the Empire State Building tale. Both subplots are fully developed so fans of the series will find each fun to follow. Butch is his usual confident self as he seeks justice in a courtroom while Maplethorpe lines up some powerful defenders. He is also a worried father as his daughter is snatched by his enemy and his wife in support roles has begun to help uncover a conspiracy that if achieved would sink the boroughs under the sea along with the government. Though way out and wild, fans will relish the latest Robert K. Tanenbaum’s tense thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Salty Like Blood-Harry Kraus

April 19, 2009

Salty Like Blood

Harry Kraus

Howard, Mar 2009, $13.99

ISBN: 1416577890

David and Joanne Connors accompanied by their seven year old daughter Rachel travel to Tippins, Virginia to visit his ailing father. However, during the visit Rachel vanishes. The local police investigate and with no evidence of foul play conclude the child most likely drowned in the nearby Chesapeake River; When David asked what happened to her corpse, the cops proclaim the river took the body out to sea. Joanne accepts the verdict of a tragic accident as she needs closure anyway she can get it; David rejects the ruling.

As David persists in his belief that his daughter lives, his marriage already weak even before the accident collapses. His medical practice also begins to fall apart as David obsesses on finding his child who he believes was abducted. He soon uncovers an identical case, which fuels his obsessive drive to rescue his child and punish her kidnapper.

This is an exciting thriller based on a parent’s worse nightmare, the disappearance and probable death of their child. The parents are super characters as David changes from fun loving caring dad to an aloof person keeping his distance from everyone (even readers) with only his Somali neighbor Amina able to somewhat reach him; and Joanne hides her feelings of vulnerability with a cold armor of “realism”. Although there are too many spins including a couple of cul de sacs, fans will appreciate this strong family drama especially David’s final paranoid over the top theory (or is it as sometimes the paranoid are right) on what happened to Rachel.

Harriet Klausner

Ghostwriter-Travis Thrasher

April 18, 2009

Ghostwriter

Travis Thrasher

Faith Words, May 28 2009, $13.99

ISBN: 9780446505581

Horror writer Dennis Shore is extremely popular with his novels always making the bestseller lists. However, since his wife Lucy died several months ago, he has struggled with making coffee let alone writing. After driving his daughter Audrey across the country to her college in California, Dennis has come home to a lonely empty nest overlooking the Fox River.

He is desperate as a deadline is coming soon, but he has nothing. That is nothing except a manuscript sent by a fan. Dennis sends in the work as his; it becomes published with incredible critical acclaim. The author Cillian Reed is irate that his hero stole his work. Cillian wants what he deserves and harasses Dennis who feels his life is in jeopardy as much as his reputation, but what to do to remove the horror that threatens his existence is met with the same paralysis he suffered with writer’s block.

This is an exciting tale starring an intriguing lead character whose morale anchor died when his wife passed away. Dennis is a terrific protagonist who knows he is doing wrong but cannot stop himself from passing Reed’s manuscript off as his. The story line for the most part is fast-paced even though the jumping back to the relationship between Dennis and his then alive wife can be confusing and detracting. Still Travis Thrasher hooks the audience with this fine tale somewhat mindful but much more psychological suspense than the movie A Murder of Crows.

Harriet Klausner


The Last Llanelli Train-Robert Lewis

April 18, 2009

The Last Llanelli Train

Robert Lewis

Serpent’s Tail, Jun 1 2009, $14.95

ISBN: 9781852428907

In Bristol, England as he becomes middle aged, private investigator Robin Llewellyn drinks at the nearby pub whose regulars are losers like him. Alcohol allows him to sit in the present and not muse sadly how far he has fallen not from his dreams but with the firm he inherited and hide from his lack of a future. He once planned to be a cop, but settled on debt collecting and now earns money mostly exposing errant spouses as professional expertise at divorces has become his specialty when he gets work that is.

Currently he owes an arm and a leg and a few thousand pounds to a vicious loan shark, who will soon demand remittance. Robin has a wealthy new client, Mrs. Dixon, who he plans to bilk for more than he is worth. She wants him to prove her businessman husband is cheating on her. Mrs. Dixon demands Robin do what he must to video her spouse with his latest floozy. He knows what he must do as he arranges a tryst between the husband and a hooker that he will film. The problem is to arrange and tape takes planning that denotes future; something Robin cannot do. Even he is aware that he is imploding, but cannot change anything even his clothing.

Llewellyn is an unlikable sordid soul who is so sleazy that he fails to gain any empathy from enthralled readers even with one foot on a banana peel and the other already in the cesspool. The story line is fast-paced but almost irrelevant as in some ways THE LAST LLANELLI TRAIN is a character study of someone on the brink of self destruction. Told by Robin who is fully aware of what he is doing to himself but unable to think ahead of the cosnequences of his behavior. Sobering and gritty yet filled with a dark humor, readers will appreciate Robert Lewis’ discerning look at a man slowly subconiously killing himself.

Harriet Klausner