Archive for May, 2009

Death Wore White-Jim Kelly

May 20, 2009

Death Wore White

Jim Kelly

Minotaur, Jun 9 2009, $24.95

ISBN: 9780312570811

In Norfolk, partners Detective Inspector Peter Shaw and Detective Sergeant George Valentine find a corpse on an inflatable raft on a beach.  However, the pair cannot do much as a blizzard has closed many roads.  A detour fails due to a downed tree causing an accident involving eight vehicles.

The first driver Harvey Ellis is dead with a screwdriver buried into his eye.  Whoever killed Harvey escaped leaving no footprints in the snow unless the driver of the second car did it; but he died at the scene from an apparent heart attack.  More corpses are found and no witness interviewed by the cops seems to be forthright with the truth.  While the pair investigate that case, Peter also opens up the cold case Tessier inquiry that destroyed his later father’s reputation as a cop and took down his partner George too.

Loaded with twists that make San Francisco’s Lombard Street appear to be a straight line, DEATH WORE WHITE is a tremendous police procedural that will keep readers up late wondering what next and whodunit.  The story line is fast-paced from the discovery of the first corpse and never slows down until several more bodies accumulate.  Kim Kelly provides one of the year’s best mysteries and hopefully brings back his dynamic police duo.

Harriet Klausner

Crossing the Centerline-Allan E. Ansorge

May 20, 2009

Crossing the Centerline

Allan E. Ansorge

Echelon, Jan 2009, $13.99

ISBN: 9781590806357

Lake County, Wisconsin’s Sheriff’s Department Detective Michael McCaffery is boat sitting for his former partner Carl Fletcher who is in Floridia taking a one month course and test to become a licensed charter boat captain.  Michael notices a leg jutting out of the water by the boat; he calls his office to investigate who the victim is.  However this John Doe has five IDs on him with the only evidence of who he is a partial fingerprint that matches one that was found in a deadly hit and run last year in which Carl’s fiancée Lauren died, he lost the full use of a leg, and his career in law enforcement ended; the driver the semi was never found until now.

When Carl comes home, Michael briefs him starting with having the One Fine Day moved to a safe place by ship repairer Meyer.  The pair begins making inquiries over who wants Carl dead as they suspect that is why the “multiple” John Doe came to the vessel before accidently drowning.  Soon the former partners and best friends are joined by Meyer, Sarah the waitress, Bernie the sheriff’s department archivist and Carl’s mom the Internet General all intent on uncovering whom the culprit is.

CROSSING THE CENTERLINE is an enjoyable investigative tale starring an ensemble cast of professional and amateur sleuths in which each of the teammates are unique and fully developed.  The story line is fast-paced from the opening sequence of Michael finding the dangling leg sticking out of the water by the boat and never slows down even when romantic coupling begins to occur.  Although I had some issues over why the culprit waited to strike again if it was that urgent to eliminate Carl, fans will appreciate Allan E. Ansorge’s exciting Wisconsin mystery and want more stories starring this loyal badger pack.

Harriet Klausner

Die for You-Lisa Unger

May 19, 2009

Die for You

Lisa Unger

Shaye Areheart (Crown), Jun 2 2009, $24.00

ISBN: 9780307393975

Novelist Isabel Connelly and high tech game designer Marcus Raines have been happily married for five years and seem deeply in love.  Marcus leaves their Manhattan apartment for work after telling Isabel he loves her.  He never made it to work nor comes home.  Panic stricken, when she finally receives a call that she assumes was from him, she hears a terrified man screaming.  She rushes to the police, but they offer nothing as they insist it is probably a nasty prank by her spouse.

Isabel rejects the official position as she believes her Marcus loves her and would not desert her.  She goes to his office only to find the FBI raiding the place; in the melee she is knocked out.  She regains consciousness in a hospital where she learns all of Marcus’s associates are dead and he remains unaccounted for.  She checks their finances only to find zero in their accounts.  Police Detective Grady Crowe digs deeper into the background of Isabel’s husband only to be shocked that Marcus Unger died years ago.

Mindful of the Goldie Hawn movie Deceived, DIE FOR YOU is an exhilarating thriller starring a fascinating heroine who after the initial shock needs to know who her husband really is and why the deception.  When the story line stays focus on disappearances and reactions to it, this is a super tale.  However, when the plot contains unnecessary cul de sacs especially about the personal lives of support players, it loses momentum.  Still overall Lisa Unger provides an engaging tale of spousal deceit.

Harriet Klausner

The Odds-Kathleen George

May 19, 2009

The Odds

Kathleen George

Minotaur, Jun 09 2009, $24.95

ISBN 9780312549992

At a time when Pittsburgh PD Homicide Chief Richard Christie is in the hospital, two of his homicide detectives Colleen Greer and John Potocki assist the Narcotics Division on an investigation into the death of a young user from an overdose.  At the same time the four Philips siblings are abandoned, but reject the idea of being split into foster homes.

Just released from prison Nick Banks gives food to the four kids; a young teen, two tweeners, and a seven years old.  Later he pays a street debt that takes him into drug trafficking that leads to his being shot.  The four children pay back his kindness keeping Nick safe as he heals while Greer and Potocki follow clues to what went down.

Although there is a well run investigation by the homicide unit while he is on the sidelines, the latest Christie police procedural is totally owned by the four Philips youngsters.  They turn Pittsburgh upside down more than a Steeler Superbowl with their fierce loyalty to one another in a sea of mostly adult betrayal and treachery.  Fans will root for them while seeking the more standard but super Christie Pittsburgh police procedural (see AFTERIMAGE and TAKEN).

Harriet Klausner

The Lovers-John Connolly

May 19, 2009

The Lovers

John Connolly

Atria, Jun 2 2009, $26.00

ISBN: 9781416569541

With his private investigator’s license revoked (see THE REAPERS), Charlie Parker leaves New York City to tend bar in Portland, Maine. The job gives him time think about the other tragedy in his life besides the murders of his wife and daughter that haunts him.  When Charlie was fifteen, his father Will an NYPD cop shot dead two teens, who after he kills them learns they were unarmed.  Unable cope, Will committed suicide.

As Charlie digs into the background of that traumatic incident, he finds some shocking evidence that makes him wonder if his beloved parents were his biological ones.  He decides to return to Manhattan to investigate and avoid the police.  At the same time a frightened disturbed woman is on the run from whatever killed her boyfriend. Writer Mickey Wallace investigates the stranger that haunt the Big Apple; as this pair converge on Charlie, two of the undying also come together wanting Parker dead.

Charlie’s focus remains on his personal life, but spins to what happened to his father rather than himself.  He is at his best as he begins to uncover shocker after shocker as if someone has connected his body to live electrical wires (see the Cheney torture handbook for more details).  He makes the LOVERS a great urban Noir fantasy although the paranormal is kept to the minimal.  Readers will relish his escapades as Charlie investigates his father’s suicide while the undying want to give him an opportunity to question dad in whatever hell the dead old man resides in.

Harriet Klausner

Guardian of Lies-Steve Martini

May 18, 2009

Guardian of Lies

Steve Martini

Morrow, Jul 2009, $26.99

ISBN 9780061230905

Twenty-six years old Costa Rican expatriate Katia Solaz lives with elderly disturbing Emerson Pike on an estate that is horrifically run down except for a high priced security fence.  However, she has had enough of the States and decides to go home.

She leaves Pike’s estate heading for the airport.  Unbeknownst to her, just after she left, infamous assassin the Mexecutioner breaches Pike’s security entering the house to kill any occupants.  At about the same time Katia meets Southern California defense attorney Paul Madriani at a grocer.  Soon all hell breaks loose as several outlawed groups plans to bring nukes into the United States.

The latest Madriani thriller (see DOUBLE TAP and SHADOW OF POWER) is an over the top of Costa Rica’s Mount Chirripo thriller that will still grip the reader even before the heroic attorney meets the Central American expatriate.  The contrast between the couple is enlightening as he is a cynic seeing the evil people do while she is an innocent trusting those same people.  Insight into the electronic age of wiretapping and surveillance enhances the action-packed story line  as several groups and the Mexecutioner converge on Katia with Paul as her only protection.

Harriet Klausner

President Lincoln’s Secret-Steven Wilson

May 18, 2009

President Lincoln’s Secret

Steven Wilson

Kensington, July 2009, $14.00

ISBN 9780758232144

In 1863, the explosion at a DuPont Works gunpowder factory in Wilmington worries the President that southern sympathizers sabotaged the plant.  To insure it does not happen again, he sends Colonel Thomas Fitzgerald Dunaway to investigate the incident.  Thomas’ new wife Asia accompanies him on his mission.

In Wilmington, sibling actors Royal and Victoria January support the Confederacy.  They have put together a brilliant plan to disrupt the Union.  Meanwhile Asia’s half-brother Robert Owen loves Victoria and to win her hand he joins their cause; promising to spy on his brother-in-law.  As the Dunaways follow clues, they fear time is running out on them as they anticipate a more terrible sabotage on the Delaware city; especially when ironclads expert rebel supporter Professor Phillip Abbott vanishes.

The fun sequel to PRESIDENT LINCOLN’S SPY is an enjoyable Civil War thriller that has the spy couple in Delaware and Canada trying to prevent a bigger terrorist attack.  The story line is fast-paced from the explosive opening and never slows down though the plausibility of some of the exciting action is questionable.  Although the president makes less appearances than in the first book, fans will enjoy Steven Wilson’s enjoyable espionage thriller as I Spy has become We Spy.

Harriet Klausner

The Magician’s Death-Paul Doherty

May 18, 2009

The Magician’s Death

Paul Doherty

Minotaur, Jul 7 2009, $24.95

ISBN: 9780312565626

In 1303 French scholars arrives at Corfe Castle in Dorset to decipher the coded writings of Roger Bacon; his tome allegedly contains designs for weapons that would make France or whoever possesses the book the continent’s superpower.  The Keeper of the Secret Seal of King Edward I, Hugh Corbett has agents who successfully steal a copy of Bacon’s book.

They struggle to bring their treasure to Corbett, but someone stalks them trying to kill all the thieves.  At the same time, a crossbow killer has murdered women at the castle.  Finally several of the scholars have met with lethal suspicions accidents.  Corbett begins to see the interconnecting pattern, but ending the murder spree seems impossible as he is targeted for death too.

The latest Hugh Corbett Medieval Mystery (see CORPSE CANDLE and THE TREASON OF THE GHOSTS) is an excellent early fourteenth century whodunit as Corbett’s investigations provide an engaging tale while also spotlighting life in the era.  The cases are difficult to solve until the hero begins to see the merging of what he originally thought was separate serial killers at work; he remains resolute to solving both though he knows he is on the death list.  As always Paul Doherty provides another winner in a strong saga.

Harriet Klausner

The Doomsday Key-James Rollins

May 18, 2009

The Doomsday Key

James Rollins

Morrow, Jun 23 2009, $27.99

ISBN: 9780061231407

The deadly attack of an agriculture site in Africa makes no sense to Sigma Force director Painter Crowe.  He and others high up want to know why even more than who.  Part of the reason most of the political establishment is involved is because one of the dead at the experiential station was a son of a senator.

He sends his top unit to Africa.  Commander Grayson Pierce along with Monk Kokkalis and Joe Kowalsk are expected to uncover the truth as the attack was way beyond even that of a terrorist cell as the whole area was flattened even after everyone inside was dead.  The team quickly learns about something called the Doomsday Key removed from Egypt ages ago and brought to England.  This substance allegedly contains a potent unheard of medicine, but in the wrong hands for instance their rivals the Guild could mean the beginning of the end for mankind.

The latest Sigma Force thriller (see THE JUDAS STRAIN, MAP OF BONES and THE LAST ORACLE) is action-packed as Pierce and his teammates run all over Europe trying to prevent further catastrophes while their potent rivals want to use THE DOOMSDAY KEY for their gain.  The story line starts off at the speed of light and never decelerates as James Rollins hooks his audience with a wonderful thriller that is based on the concept of how the past impacts the present including the science of today that in turn becomes part of the past impacting the today’s of the future.  Complex yet filled with fun, the Sigma Force saga is at its best with this winner.

Harriet Klausner

Boston Scream Pie-Rosemary & Larry Mild

May 17, 2009

Boston Scream Pie

Rosemary & Larry Mild

Hilliard & Harris, Aug 2008, $16.95

ISBN: 9781591332640

In 1986 in Black Rain on the Chesapeake Bay area of Maryland, teenager Caitlin Neuman suffers from a horrific repetitive nightmare that feels as if it happened to her; two teens are in a car crash during a blizzard.  Her beloved grandma Olivia Raphael insists it is just a weird spin from the accident that Caitlin survived when she was seven and her parents and twin sister died.

Caitlin asks retired Baltimore Detective Paco LeSoto to leave his watching of Redskin reruns to investigate her frightening nightmare to ascertain if there is any truth to them.  Accompanied by his wife Molly, they follow clues that lead them to the recently extended Boston family where another set of twins live.  The merging of two families after Newton Boston married four times wedded Delylah has not gone smooth and soon will turn deadly, but all the answers to the nightmare is inside that home.

BOSTON SCREAM PIE is an enjoyable Chesapeake Bay mystery starring several likable individuals and a few dislikable persons.  The characters drive the story line from the onset as each key player is fully developed so that the audience will feel they know the extended families and the LeSoto couple.  Although Edwin Newman (perfect homonym) will insist Molly with her “Mollyprops” is a classic example of his contention STRICTLY SPEAKING: WILL AMERICA BE THE DEATH OF ENGLISH, fans will enjoy this lighthearted detective romp.

Harriet Klausner