Archive for June, 2009

Shadow of Betrayal-Brett Battles

June 30, 2009

Shadow of Betrayal

Brett Battles

Delacorte, Jul 7 2009, $25.00

ISBN: 9780385341585

The Cleaner Jonathan Quinn, his girlfriend-partner Orlando, and his protégé Nick travel to Ireland to monitor an information exchange.  However a sniper insures something goes wrong, leaving four dead and Jonathan forced to use his cleaning skills to make sure no clues of the homicides remain behind in the church meeting locale.   His agent orders Quinn to forget Ireland and instead fulfill the agreed upon three jobs with no questions.  He is to locate a missing U.N. worker Marion Dupuis; she has vanished without a trace.  Others search for her too.

Jonathan and company head to Africa, the last known place Marion was seen.  At an orphanage where she helped, the owner says she ran away with a Down Syndrome child Iris, who rebels want though he is not sure why.  Marion and Iris flee to Montreal, but are captured and taken to California as Jonathan follows the convoluted trail.

This is a terrific complicated Quinn globetrotting tale (see THE DECEIVED and THE CLEANER) as he goes from the Europe to Africa to Canada and finally the States on the chase.  The story line is fast-paced and filled with plenty of bloody action on three continents as Quinn knows his deal haunts his soul as he does jobs he loathes performing.  Although somewhat similar in theme to THE DECEIVED, Quinn is at his best undergoing tasks that eat at his gut.

Harriet Klausner

Curing the Blues with a New Pair of Shoes-Dixie Cash

June 29, 2009

Curing the Blues with a New Pair of Shoes

Dixie Cash

Avon, Jul 21 2009, $13.99

ISBN 9780061434389

Salt Lick, Texas is proud to host an Elvis gala as the singer remains popular though he died four decades ago.  This year the townsfolk are especially excited because the legendary blue suede shoes that their hero wore when he sang the tune is going to be on exhibit.

However, the valuable relic vanishes to the shock of the locals.  Nobody steps on their Elvis and gets away with it so the Domestic Equalizers (when they are not styling hair), Debbie Sue Overstreet and Edwina Perkins-Martin investigate seeking who is wearing blue suede shoes.  Not long afterward, the pair replaces the missing artifact with ancient slippers belonging to Ed’s husband, who they assume will believe he misplaced them.  They try to contact Adolf Sielvami, Keeper for the King Museum in Las Vegas, who sent the shoes, but he and his shrine apparently do not exist.

With another gumshoe cozy (see DON’T MAKE ME CHOOSE BETWEEN ME AND MY SHOES) in between matchmaking of reporters and preparing for the Elvis horde invasion, Debbie Sue and Edwinna have plenty to do while Ed searches for his missing slippers.  Lighthearted fun, Dixie cash pays homage to Elvis while gently mocking fanatics who sight the “King” in every fast food joint in the country and treat anything he touched as a precious artifact.  With a nod to Chaucer’s The Pardoner’s Tale, fans will laugh out loud at the latest escapades of the Texas cowgirls.

Harriet Klausner

Makeovers Can Be Murder-Kathryn Lilley

June 29, 2009

Makeovers  Can Be Murder

Kathryn Lilley

Obsidian, Sep 2009, $6.99

ISBN: 9780451228260

In a profession in which being thin helps a TV reporter move up the promotional ladder, plus-sized reporter Kate Gallagher has stalled at Channel twelve in Durham, North Carolina.  Her editor has given her a five part assignment dealing with diets and related scams.  In one of those spots, she has to appear on TV in a bikini which leaves her nervous.  She goes for emotional support to the Newbodies female buddy group where she meets her friend Jana whom she has not seen in two years.

Jana informs Kate that’s she is divorcing her husband because he is cheating on her.  A couple of days later, Jane’s auto is car-jacked and she is shot in the head; she saves her daughter’s life by pushing her out of the car when the gangbanger first entered her vehicle.  The police arrest Antoine Hurley nd Jane’s daughter picks him out of a line-up.  After some investigating, Kate thinks the wrong person is in prison; when she starts sleuthing the pieces of the puzzle being to merge, but what she is seeing is a massacre is about to occur that she prays she can prevent.

If her profession didn’t emphasize slim, Kate would be more comfortable with her size.  She understands the TV camera makes her seem bigger and that society prefers trim people; something she is not and never will be.  Ironically readers will admire her for her courage and strength of conviction chasing a news story; while if series fans seen her on TV, we probably wonder how she made it as few plus size women do (Candy Crowley aside).  The story line is fast-paced though it turns into a plot that seems over the top of Cameron Arena, but the key to this Fat City Mystery and its fine predecessors (see DYING THIN and  A KILLER WORKOUT) is the wonderful heroine who is overall contented in life but has some self-esteem issues.

Harriet Klausner

Southern Peril-T. Lynn Ocean

June 28, 2009

Southern Peril

T. Lynn Ocean

Minotaur, Jun 2009, $24.95

ISBN: 9780312383473

Wilmington, North Carolina bar owner Jersey Barnes has sworn off for what seems to her the zillionth time no more “SWEET”  investigative work; government or private.  This time she swears she means it with the only SOUTHERN POISON coming from the drinks she serves.

The best laid plans of mice, men and Jersey Barnes always goes astray.  This time her friend the Judge needs a favor.  She is worried that her younger brother Morgan is in trouble seemingly connected to inheriting their father’s popular restaurant Argo.  Jersey takes a quick peak and sees nothing out of the ordinary for someone who recently lost his parents suddenly and was dumped by his fiancée.   She digs deeper since she has time on her hands as the Barnes Agency and her bar work too perfectly without her and her boyfriend Ox Oxendine is spending quality time with his daughter.  Jersey revises her opinion when someone assaults her and Morgan.  Jersey soon learns what is behind the Argo’s famous Green Table and uncovers undercover DEA agent Brad the hunk Logan who matches her chutzpah for chutzpah even down to matching weapons to wardrobe.  They team up and soon find evidence that Argo is part of a drug ring, which impacts the late parents of Morgan unless Jersey with her befuddled father’s help can prove otherwise.

The fun story line is obvious yet no one will care as the cast make for an amusing impish investigative tale.  Jersey is terrific as she works the case, tries to contain her libido wile salivating over Brad, and has her dad advising her.  Fans of the series will enjoy the latest  lighthearted Jersey hospitality overwhelming North Carolina (see SOUTHERN FATALITY).

Harriet Klausner

Breaking Faith-Anna Blundy

June 28, 2009

Breaking Faith

Anna Blundy

Minotaur, Jul 7 2009, $24.99

ISBN: 9780312368654

London’s Chronicle reporter Faith Zanetti is unhappy with her latest assignment that she assumes is gonna go nowhere as the Cairnbridge plane bombing that killed all 245 aboard has been covered to incredible lengths over the twenty-five years with nothing new.  She assumes in between her booze that she will bring nothing new too.

Faith goes to Italy to spend time with Eden, her former boyfriend and father of her infant.  He likes Italy and seems to want to remain there; she just wants to finish her story and get back to real investigative journalism like she did in Moscow (see VODKA NEAT) although the incidents there still haunt her.  Eden introduces Faith to Phoebe and Walter Irving, friends of her late father Karel, who also was a reporter allegedly killed while covering the Troubles in North Ireland.  Faith begins receiving warnings from the grave that leads the intrepid reporter to realize Phoebe knew her dad intimately and the couple knows who made that call in Reykjavik to the American Embassy in Iceland just prior to the Cairnbridge bombing.  She also learns about one particular female traveler who died on that tragic plane; a person she would have liked to have met.

With an obvious connection to the Lockerbie tragedy, BREAKING FAITH is a super journalistic investigative thriller as the heroine is stunned with revelation after revelation on a story that she expected to go nowhere.  Faith makes the tale work as a tough individual who can out drink just about anyone while balancing a baby with her investigations.  Faith’s inquiry into the Cairnbridge plane bombing is deftly handled as Anna Blundy provides another winner that readers will toast with Chianti: wine.

Harriet Klausner

Jericho’s Fall-Stephen L. Carter

June 28, 2009

Jericho’s Fall

Stephen L. Carter

Knopf, Jul 14 2009, $

ISBN: 9780307272621

In the Colorado Rockies, former CIA chief Jericho Ainsley lies dying from cancer.  He asks in his royal demanding way for ex CIA operative Beck DeForde to come see him.  Fifteen years ago, they began an affair that ended Jericho’s political power although he still had economic influence when the scandal broke.  She assumes he wants to say good-bye.

Almost immediately upon entering the foreboding gigantic home, Beck learns that those who operate in the dark fear what Jericho will reveal to his former lover.  Jericho explains he distrusts his family who would sell him out in death for a buck and the spy agencies who only care about polishing their tarnished images after selling out to the last president.  He trusts only Beck to do the right thing about the information he plans for her to hold.  Both understand what that means from the onset as others have come to this remote house high in the Colorado Rockies to take out two former agents and obtain the information Jericho possesses.

Switching from his complex societal legal thrillers (see THE EMPEROR OF OCEAN PARK, NEW ENGLAND WHITE and PALACE COUNCIL) Stephen L. Carter provides  a more standard type but exhilarating espionage thriller.  The story line is fast-paced from the opening moment when Beck philosophizes that she is traveling to her past in more ways than just visiting her dying former lover whose career died along with hers when their tryst was exposed.  She is a terrific heroine holding the exciting plot together while Jericho is the more complicated fascinating character.  The author’s fans will appreciate this fine tale, but will also miss a revealing of the “dark secrets” behind the pivotal moments in history that the victors prefer to hide from the masses.

Harriet Klausner

Alibi-Sydney Bauer

June 28, 2009

Alibi

Sydney Bauer

Jove, Jul 28 2009, $7.99

ISBN: 9780515146592

Deane University economics major nineteen years old Jessica Nagoshi is the daughter of a billionaire Japanese businessman.  Her boyfriend is final year law student James Matheson who also attends Deane.  Their relationship is concealed especially from her family.

That secret is out in the open when she is found brutally murdered on her father’s estate in Boston although James lies to Boston homicide detectives Lieutenant Joe Mannix and Detective Frank McKay by denying they were dating   Soon afterward his alibi collapses when his best friends interviewed by the cops connect him to the victim and her murder.  With John Nagoshi pressuring the District Attorney’s Office for a resolution and ADA Roger Katz hammers the cops, James is being accused of murdering his girlfriend in a crime of passion.  His legal mentor Boston attorney David Cavanaugh would prefer to stay out of the highly charged case especially with Nagoshi using his affluence and influence to hang James, but knows he cannot; he represents his student.  His team finds several viable suspects especially the deceased’s brother and James’ friend who set up the alibi to deliberately collapse.

In his third legal thriller (see UNDERTOW and GOSPEL) Cavanaugh is terrific as he works a case he never expected in his wildest dreams.  The rest of the cast is solid especially the cops, the accused in jail, the other suspects, the legal team including David’s girlfriend and John; the only character stereotyped is the ADA whose ambition rivals Lady Macbeth as he cares not for the truth if it is in his ruthless  path.  Starting as a police investigation that effortlessly switches to a legal thriller, ALIBI is a strong whodunit filled with plausible suspects particularly David’s pro bono client.

Harriet Klausner

Doom with a View-Victoria Laurie

June 28, 2009

Doom with a View

Victoria Laurie

Obsidian, Sep 2009, $6.99

ISBN: 9780451227799

Psychic Abby Cooper and private investigator Candice share an office where they meet their clients.  They are a formidable team who has made a positive impression on FBI Special Agent In Charge Bill Gaston.  He asks them to come to DC to work on a task force with other agents headed by politically connected Brice Harrington, who opposes Abby on the team because he believes psychics are con artists.

To prove his point to the others, Brice constructs a biased test, but to his shock, Abby passes rather easily; finding a murder-suicide in the house next door to where one of the tests were held.  They earn their place on the task force searching for three missing college students whose only connection seems to be each one has a parent in a political office.  They later learn that they all attended with their parents the same conference two years ago.  Abby leans from looking at pictures of the missing students that two are dead and the other is dying.  Abby’s personal crew of spirit guides escort her and Candice in directions that yield clues as to whom is behind the deadly abductions.  When a fourth student is kidnapped, Abby, Candice and Brice team up as the latter is now a firm believer.

Victoria Laurie has written a new spellbinding psychic eye whodunit made refreshed by the heroine, used to non-believers in general, on a team made up of non-believing veteran law enforcement skeptics with only her partner knowing what she can do.  She changes their mocking opinions when her predictions prove true.  The audience will admire the courageous Abby as she diligently works hard at trying to understand what her crew are telling her.  At times the story line is amusing especially when Abby constantly trumps Brice who is a believer in the by the SOP investigation until she converts him, but neither lose perspective that the surviving kid(s) comes first.

Harriet Klausner

Faces-Martina Cole

June 27, 2009

Faces

Martina Cole

Grand Central, Jul 21 2009, $24.99

ISBN: 9780446179973

In London, several mob thugs arrive at the Cadogen home to collect the patriarch’s gambling debt.  Dan knew he could not pay so he fled leaving his wife and three children to face the wrath of the mobsters.  Almost fourteen year old Danny “Big Dan” Cadogen shows no fear as he faces down the gangsters wanting blood money from his vanished drunken dad.  One of the crooks Louie Stein, impressed by the teen’s fortitude and size, mentors him in the life of a criminal.

At fifteen, Big Dan kills a hooker with his fists and not long afterward kills someone who ratted on the mob.  Over the years with his best childhood friend brainy Michael Miles at his side, Big Dan becomes the most frightening gangster in the city.  He is the Face as even his wife Mary, sister of Michael, fears him.  Now a notorious legend, Big Dan knows wannabes will try to knock him off his pedestal, but he welcomes all challengers wanting to die at his hands.

Though extremely well written and engaging, FACES is not an easy to read character study due to the lead protagonist consistent use of his fists and other weapons even on the innocent.  The interesting story line focuses on Danny whose life of crime is based on either killing or beating the sh*t out of the other guy or gal to retain their respect; he brings home his terrorist philosophy to his family too.  Fans will enjoy this gloomy look at a despicable kingpin who the audience will hope gets his butt handed to him while wondering why he was not assassinated by a sniper with a semi.

Harriet Klausner

Even Money-Dick Francis and Felix Francis

June 27, 2009

Even Money

Dick Francis and Felix Francis

Putnam, Aug 2009, $26.95

ISBN: 9780399155918

The first day of the Royal Ascot horse races gala was like any other opening at the prestigious event and Ted Talbot, his co-worker Luca, and their assistant Betsy are taking book from the punters.  Out of the crowd comes an elderly man demanding to speak with Ted.  He insists that he is Peter James Talbot, Ted’s father.  This is a shocker as Ted was raised by his paternal grandparents who claimed his parents died in a car crash.

Peter informs his still stunned son that he has two half-sisters living in Australia, but before they can get into a car, two thugs demand the older Talbot hand over the money.  During the subsequent brawl, James is injured and rushed to the hospital where he dies.  Ted goes to his dad’s hotel room and finds proof that his father was involved in an illegal activity.  The thugs still demand their loot and the code used on chips that are imprinted and then inserted into the horses.  Ted’s life is in jeopardy but he also wants justice for his father and the insurance these punks will not go after him or his loved ones in the future.  He ignores the cops because the lead police officer investigating his father’s death assumes he is guilty of something.

Dick and Felix Francis once again affirm that a father-son writing team can provide quality mysteries.  Readers are caught up in British horse racing (a trademark of father) and the shenanigans that occur away from the track including some instigated by Ted.  Still he receives plenty of empathy as criminals are coming after him as the likely recipient of his father’s legacy, he has a mentally ill wife institutionalized, and a co-worker wanting to be his partner in the family business.  With plenty of thrills, chills, and spills EVEN MONEY is a sure bet.

Harriet Klausner