Archive for May, 2009

Fan Mail-P.D. Martin

May 29, 2009

Fan Mail

P.D. Martin

Mira, Jul 2009, $7.99

ISBN: 9780778326137

Her last act at Quantico before reassigning to the West Coast, Australian expatriate FBI profiler Sophie Anderson escorts renowned crime writer Loretta Black and her assistant on a tour of the Behavioral Analysis Unit.  Soon afterward, Sophie starts her new field assignment in L.A.  She also finds out that someone sexually mutilated and murdered Loretta in her Beverly Hills home; eerily similar to a victim in one the author’s novels.

Beverly Hills homicide detective Dave Sorrell leads the inquiry.  However, soon afterward more authors are brutally murdered.  The evidence includes a frightening fan mail to the novelists just before they are killed.  Sophie assists David on the investigation, as she searches for clues trying to “profile” the novels while also horrifically yet heroically uses her premonition skill to mentally see future murders, but unaware a cold case of hers is the missing link.

This super police procedural is loaded with plausible twists that will keep the audience guessing who the killer is throughout although serial killer themes have flooded the market including Sophie (see THE MURDERER’S CLUB and BODY COUNT).  Sophie is terrific as she investigates with David.  Though similar in tone to her previous killer caseload, fans will enjoy P.D. Martin’s exhilarating efforts of the Aussie profiler trying to prevent the next writer’s death.

Harriet Klausner

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Red Blooded Murder-Laura Caldwell

May 29, 2009

Red Blooded Murder

Laura Caldwell

Mira, Jul 2009, $7.99

ISBN: 9780778326588

Six months ago the embezzlement scandal left thirtyish entertainment attorney Isabel McNeil unemployed and no longer engaged to Sam Hollings.  That is until Trial TV hires her and she is seeing younger hunk Theo Jameson.  In other words, Izzy is moving on past that dizzy spell.

That is until her friend Jane Augustine, who got her the Trial TV job, is murdered.  Izzy finds her corpse and as happened with the missing $30 million, Chicago police considers her the prime suspect especially since she replaced Jane on a TV show.  Izzy has learned the hard way not to trust anyone particularly pigheaded police so she investigates who would want Jane dead; unprepared to learn what she does about her late friend.

The return of Izzy (See RED HOT LIES) as a prime suspect again will elate Laura Caldwell fans as the lawyer who learned the hard way not to trust cops sets out to prove her innocence by uncovering the identity of the killer.  The amateur sleuth investigation into the whodunit is well written.  However, what makes the tale enjoyable is Izzy’s first person dialogue that turns RED BLOOD MURDER into an amusing anti-noir.

Harriet Klausner

Bad Things Happen-Harry Dolan

May 29, 2009

Bad Things Happen

Harry Dolan

Amy Einhorn Books (Putnam), Jul 23 2009, $24.95

ISBN: 9780399155635

David Loogan lives and hides in Ann Arbor in hope of moving past a violent history that he knows he will never forget.  He begins to write a short story for Gray Streets literary crime-fiction journal.  Though he never finishes the project, the magazine publisher Tom Kristoll likes what he has seen.  He offers David a position as an editor, which he accepts.  David, Tom, and his wife Laura become friends.

Tom obtains David’s help in dumping a corpse though the former does not believe the latter’s explanation.  Soon afterward Tom falls to his death from his office window.  AAPD Homicide Detective Elizabeth Waishkey suspects David killed Tom especially when evidence surfaces that he slept with Laura.  As other people associated with Gray Streets die, single mom Elizabeth focuses even more intensely on David, who conducts his own inquiry to uncover the killer before he is on trial.

The fun in this terrific twisting serial killer investigative tale is the writers who are intelligent and witty until they become the star of someone else’s plot.  The story line is fast-paced and the amateur sleuth prime suspect and the obstinate cop chasing him makes for an intriguing duel.  Mindful of the movies’ Theater of Blood and Murder by Death, but less hammy, fans will enjoy Harry Dolan’s fine thriller that as Vincent Price said (in Theatre of Blood) is “much ado about murder”.

Harriet Klausner

The Extra-Elizabeth Sims

May 27, 2009

The Extra

Elizabeth Sims

Minotaur, Jun 2009, $24.95

ISBN 9780312377298

To pay for law school, single mom of five-year-old Petey, Rita Farmer has been accepting minor acting roles.  Currently she is on location as an extra wearing a police uniform.  During a break in filming, while still in costume, Rita accidentally frightens off two muggers attacking a black boy as they assume she is the law.

The intended victim turns out to be Kip Cubitt, the grandson of well-respected Amaryllis “Iron Angel” Cubitt, who founded the homeless ABC Mission in South Central Los Angeles.  Not long after the incident, someone in a drive-by shoots a cop who looked extremely similar to Rita.  When she goes to the Cubitt mission to see if she can find out what is going on before she becomes the next corpse, Rita concludes Dale the Whale, a drug-pin, has something on the the usually energetic Amaryllis that has her tied in knots.  With the lmited help of her lover, private investigator George Rowe, whose case is in Canada, and eluding her born to emote sister, Rita goes undercover in the role of her life as a street person in order to learn what sinister happenings is occurring at the mission.

Though no Lillian Byrd, Rita Farmer’s second amateur sleuth case (see THE ACTRESS) is an entertaining investigative tale due to the strong support cast as much as the heroine.  The story line is fast-paced though a bit thin except when Rita goes easy street as a homeless person in smelly discards.  Overall THE EXTRA is an engaging thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Alone in the Crowd-Luiz Alfredo Garcia-Roza

May 27, 2009

Alone in the Crowd

Luiz Alfredo Garcia-Roza

Holt, Jul 2009, $23.00

ISBN: 9780805079593

At a bank in Rio de Janeiro, pensioner Dona Laureta withdraws her money from the same teller Hugo Breno every month like clockwork.  She leaves the bank, goes to the grocery and pharmacy, and then she travels to the police of the Twelfth Precinct in Copacabana.  She asks to speak with the chief, but Espinoza is tied up in a meeting.  She decides to leave and come back later, but instead is run over by a bus; bystanders believe she was deliberately pushed.

The police interrogate Breno who remains a person of interest.  Espinoza has him under surveillance.  They learn he has no friends, conducts a fanatical physical exercise program, and walks in dense crowds without speaking to anyone.  Espinoza is unaware that Breno has been watching him for decades and even came to the same park when they were children. A memory of a child’s death makes the cop wonder if the teller was involved.  They meet at a restaurant and Hugo tells his story to Espinoza.  A day later Laureta’s friend is killed.  Espinoza is sure that Breno killed both women, but has no evidence.  Both adversaries risk their lives with similar yet differing purposes.

The translation of this novel is executed perfectly (by Benjamin Moser) so that the Brazilian customs come across full of life but different from America and especially how that impacts the way the police do their job in Rio.  Ergo readers will feel they are in Brazil and not in their armchair.  Inspector Espinoza is a good person doing a good job as he struggles with an investigation that contains a personal twist, but seems to be going nowhere though he is 100 percent positive Breno is the killer.  The audience will admire the lead character and want to read his past cases (see BLACKOUT and PURSUIT) as the aptly titled ALONE IN THE CROWD is a super Brazilian police procedural.

Harriet Klausner

The Defector-Daniel Silva

May 26, 2009

The Defector

Daniel Silva

Putnam, Jul 21 2009, $26.95

ISBN: 9780399155680

It has been six months since Israeli Agent Gabriel Allon got Colonel Grigori Bulganov, Elena Kharkov and her children out of Russia, but not without a blood bath (see MOSCOW RULES).  Allon as the Art restorer Alessio Vianelli is with his new wife Chiara on their honeymoon in Umbria while works on a piece for the Vatican.  They are shocked to learn that Grigori, who was given asylum in Britain and saved Allon’s life in Moscow, has vanished.  British intelligence believes he was a double agent who returned to Moscow; they hold Allon culpable for any leaks since he brought him to London vouching for the Russian.  Gabriel discounts the theory of that the colonel redefected because if so Grigori should never had saved his life; instead he fears something more sinister occurred.

Gabriel assumes that Elena’s irate husband Ivan Kharkov, a billionaire arms dealer and close friend of the Russian President, is behind the kidnapping because he believes Grigori betrayed him professionally and personally.  Kharkov is also after Allon, who exposed one of his sales which made him persona non-grata in what the rich Russian considers the civilized nations.  The personal stakes are raised dramatically when Kharkov’s assassins abduct Chiara knowing Allon will come for her on their turf.  Allon with the backing of Israel, American and Britain plans to rescue his spouse and kill her kidnapper.

Gabriel Allon has been and continues to be one of the most fascinating espionage agents for years in perhaps the best thriller series on the market in the past decade.  Besides his being a powerhouse, the women in his circle like his wife also an agent are also competent and strong.  The follow up to the super MOSCOW RULES is excellent as the saga of Bulganov takes a radical spin turning personal for Allon.  Readers will not have seen that coming once they had escaped from Russia, but as always Daniel Silva provides another great entry that will elate fans who will also wonder how the author can top THE DEFECTOR.

Harriet Klausner

A Night at the Operation-Jeffrey Cohen

May 24, 2009

A Night at the Operation

Jeffrey Cohen

Berkley, Apr 2009, $7.99

ISBN: 9780425228159

New Jersey Comedy Tonight theatre owner Elliot Freed considers his former wife Dr. Sharon Simon, a friend though they are divorced and she is remarried to Dr. Gregory Sandoval; his dream rests on their annual celebration of their wedding anniversary together.  With a week plus before this year’s dinner and gift exchange, Gregory informs Elliot Sharon will probably not make their dinner as she has vanished without a trace; he further explains she has been irritable, nervous, and so anxious, he feared she was breaking down and her disappearance proves she finally did.  Elliot cannot believe how calm his replacement is and hopes that Sharon will dump this idiot to come back to him.

The police visit Elliot questioning him where Sharon is as they investigate the suicide of her wealthy patient Russell Chapman; whose daughter insists Sharon’s misdiagnoses led to her father’s depression and ultimately suicide when she claimed he had a fatal brain cancer that was proven false.  Elliot’s parents arrive to help him.  Black belt mom joins him on his search for Sharon while passive dad takes over the theater operation vowing to fix the plumbing problem himself.  However as Elliot digs deeper into Sharon’s lifestyle, he begins to uncover clues that takes his ex-wife off the pedestal he mentally built.  He assumes he is on track to find her when his home is broken into and the Russell’s corpse is abducted.

The latest Double Feature amateur sleuth is an amusing homage to great comedic movies such as the title nod to A Night at the era.  The investigative story line is zany and often over the top of Giant Stadium; while the movie trivia is interwoven into the wild plot.  Way out fun, fans who relish a New Jersey screwball romantic mystery will enjoy the Freed tales (see SOME LIKE IT HOT-BUTTERED and It Happened One Knife)

Harriet Klausner

Undone-Karin Slaughter

May 24, 2009

Undone

Karin Slaughter

Delacorte, Jul 2009, $26.00

ISBN: 9780385341967

Henry and Judith Codfield are driving home one night when they run into what he assumes was a deer; it turns out to be person hurt badly enough that they take the injured party to Atlanta’s Grady Hospital.  Trauma center physician Dr. Sara Linton treats the patient; stabilizing her for surgery.  She is shocked at the tortured body of Anna Lindsey whom she tries to save.

Meanwhile as the local police work the burbs for clues, Georgia Bureau of Investigation Detectives Will Trent looks for the site where the torture takes place. When he finds it he realizes another woman was there with the tortured woman. He finds the body of the second woman who was tortured before she committed suicide. Faith Mitchell and Will think the kidnapping of a woman outsider the supermarket is related to their own inquiry. A fourth female fitting the profile of the other three is also missing. Evidence points to the killer abducting the women in pairs and if they don’t find the missing two females within days they will be dead

Once again as in FRACTURED, Will and Faith prove they are a dedicated team who know together they perform much better than separately though they are total opposites; a sort of GBI yin and yang who complement one another by overcoming the other’s weaknesses.  The current case of a deranged serial killer is not new, but refreshed by the increasingly frantic hunt by the GBI pair.  Reader will enjoy UNDONE, as Karin Slaughter provides a tense police procedural in which the clock is ticking while the killer remains on a twisted schedule.

Harriet Klausner

Under the Radar-Fern Michaels

May 23, 2009

Under the Radar

Fern Michaels

Zebra, Jun 2009, $6.99

ISBN: 9781420106831

After the success of their FINAL JUSTICE mission, the seven Sisterhood members return to their mountaintop retreat looking forward to some R&R.  One hour later before anyone can fully settle back, the alarm rings.  The women react instantly only to their shock mentor Charles and Myra leave together by copter.  He leaves behind an enigmatic note for the team.

Almost immediately after the helicopter lifts off, retired judge Pearl Barnes needs their help.  She has rescued fourteen pregnant teens from a polygamous sect and needs the Sisterhood to finish their trip to safety.  The teammates set forth as they fully support Pearl’s Underground Railroad that rescues abused females, but also fear their first project sans Charles.

By removing the mentor for most of the story line, Fern Michaels refreshes her Sisterhood saga as they are on their own for the first time after a dozen previous adventures with Charles available.  The Story line is fast-paced from the moment that Pearl calls for their help and never slows down as they try to keep the teens safe.  With echoes of the Texas raid last year, fans of the saga will appreciate Fern Michaels’ latest twist.

Harriet Klausner

Lonesome Point-Ian Vasquez

May 23, 2009

Lonesome Point

Ian Vasquez

Minotaur, Jun 9 2009, $24.95

ISBN: 9780312378103

In Miami medical technician Leo Varela works at the psych ward of Jefferson Memorial Hospital Mental Health Annex.  The pay stinks and actually is an abomination when you consider what Leo and his peers do.  He relaxes when he can even on the job smoking weed and writing poetry.

Leo’s older brother Patrick is the influential Miami-Dade County Counselor running for mayor in a particularly nasty campaign even by Miami’s dirty standards.  Both brothers have come a long way from their homeland Belize and even further from their father’s illegal business ventures.  Everything changes as the past arrives at the hospital. Freddy Robinson, just released from prison, asks Lee to abduct a patient elderly Mr. Massini as his former associates want a chat with him. Lee wants to say no as even his dead end job is better than working with friends of his father, but Freddy knows the dark deadly secret the siblings left in Belize.

This exciting thriller starts off at an incredible pace with Freddy visiting Leo at the hospital, but loses some momentum about halfway in as the plot is never embellished upon from that terrific opening sequence.  Still the seemingly opposite brothers tied together by more than DNA are solid characters who seem on the surface total opposites, but in a crisis react somewhat similar.  Although the story line is thin, fans will enjoy Ian Vasquez’s overall entertaining tale

Harriet Klausner