Archive for July, 2009

Soul Murder-Andrew Nugent

July 31, 2009

Soul Murder

Andrew Nugent

Minotaur, Aug 2009, $24.95

ISBN 9780312536565

In North Kerry, Ireland the students of St. Isidore’s boys boarding school sneak out of the dorm late at night for an impromptu midnight barbecue.  Following their midnight soiree, the seven pupils sneak back into their tower only to be met by housemaster Maurice Tyson lying in a bloody mess with his throat cut.

The Garda Síochána send Dublin based sexagenarian Superintendent Denis Lennon and youthful Sergeant Molly Power to lead the investigation into the gruesome homicide.  Fisher, the headmaster of St. Isidore’s, insists Tyson was the victim of kidnappers trying to abduct French student Bertrand Laporte, the son of a wealthy family.  The two cops believe that suggestion is ridiculous until Bertrand is kidnapped when he returns to France, but Inspector Quilligan (and the Surete) rescue the lad.  However, the police look at a different motive; that of a former student accusing Tyson of abuse.

The third Lennon-Powers Irish police procedural (see SECOND BURIAL FOR A BLACK PRINCE and THE FOUR COURTS MURDER) is an exciting boarding school whodunit.  The insight into the goings on including pranks at a boy’s school seems real while the official investigation is well done and entertaining.  Although the final solution appears weak especially by the standard of excellence for this series, fans will appreciate Andrew Nugent’s thrilling murder investigation.

Harriet Klausner

Vengeance Road-Rick Mofina

July 31, 2009

Vengeance Road

Rick Mofina

Mira, Sep 2009, $7.99

ISBN: 9780778326380

Buffalo Sentinel veteran reporter Jack Gannon hears the buzz over the scanner and knows something ugly is going down in a park.  He knows he is ancient history with his highlight film in the past and his work on a daily print newspaper a dinosaur nearing extinction, but he goes to cover the story.

Someone murdered former nursing student Bernice Hogan.  Jack is told by someone inside the investigation whom he trusts but cannot name that the prime suspect is highly regarded cop Karl Styebeck, the head of this murder inquiry.  Jack writes the story, which leads to fiftyish Mary Peller informing him her twenty six year old daughter, a single mom of a three year old child, is missing and connected to Bernice.  Jack’s editor demands he give up his source, but he refuses; he is suspended.  However, though he is about to be unemployed he keeps digging because he knows Jolene will be next.

This is a super journalistic investigative suspense thriller with several great plausible twists.  Jack is a throwback reporter to those 1940s movies who as his missing sister and Mary noted he never gives up.  Fans will relish his exploits in Buffalo and elsewhere as he may be unemployed but has a save a stranger driving him onward.

Harriet Klausner

Air Time-Hank Phillippi Ryan

July 31, 2009

Air Time

Hank Phillippi Ryan

Mira, Sep 2009, $7.99

ISBN: 9780778327196

TV reporter Charlotte McNally is with her producer Franklin on a plane on the tarmac in Charlotte when she realizes an incident occurred at the airport, but it turned out to be nothing except that the nothing caused her to miss her flight to Boston where she is to meet the Prada P.I.  However, she helps some young woman in gigantic heals lug her luggage off the conveyor belt. Regine gives Charlie a business card for Double Designers.  Charlie thanks the Gods for now she has a lead.

Charlie goes undercover attending a party thrown by Double Designers.  Her work upsets her boyfriend English professor Josh Gelston, as they spend no time together so he implies he should move in with her so they can spend some time together.  Meanwhile those selling the fakes do not appreciate investigative reporters.

The third Charlie McNally investigative thriller (see PRIME TIME and AIR TIME) is a terrific action-packed tale as the heroine provides her unique often humorous and biting commentary to the reader.  Fans will enjoy her adventures as her undercover work is dangerous in terms of the sham makers and her relationship with the professor.  Once again Charlie turns the latest “Time” suspense into an enjoyable read.

Harriet Klausner

The Riesling Retribution-Ellen Crosby

July 29, 2009

The Riesling Retribution

Ellen Crosby

Scribner, Aug 4 2009, $25.00

ISBN: 9781416551683

In Virginia, Montgomery Estate Vineyard Lucie Montgomery visits her parents’ graves when a tornado strikes.  The twister destroyed some vines, but also uncovered relatively recently buried human bones where none should be.  The timing is exacerbated by reenactors arriving for the 1861 Battle of Ball’s Bluff.  At the same time her winemaker Quinn Santori and her field manager Chance Miller are dueling over the vines and her.

The remains belong to Beauregard Kinkaid, who had a fight with Lucie’s scoundrel father.  When the murder weapon is found and belonged to the late Leland, the police declare the case is solved and Lucie’s late father is the killer.  Lucie knew her dad was a rogue but not a murderer.  She tries to investigate but the second spouse of Beauregard’s wife, powerful Summer Chastain, will not allow anything to interfere with the official verdict.

The latest wine mystery (see THE BORDEAUX BETRAYAL, THE MERLOT MURDERS and THE CHARDONNAY CHARADE) is a charming amateur sleuth in which readers will toast elegant entertaining Ellen Cosby for this fun entry.  The heroine is harassed on all fronts as she struggles with the internal war between two key employees in which she is attracted to both of them, the arrival of the horde of reenactors, and  the belief her late rogue of a dad killed a rival.  Although the whodunit is entertaining unlike the previous three tales, Lucie’s inquiry shares top billing with the feud and the Civil War buffs; still fans will enjoy future wine tasting awesome alliterations.

Harriet Klausner

Sister Pelagia and the Red Cockerel-Boris Akunin

July 29, 2009

Sister Pelagia and the Red Cockerel

Boris Akunin

Random House, Aug 11 2009, $15.00

ISBN: 9780812975154

St. Petersburg’s Chief Procurator of the Holy Synod is outraged with the behavior of Sister Pelagia; he questions whether she should be allowed to wear the veil.  Not long after her censuring, Sister Palagia is sailing on the steamboat Sturgeon when someone kills Manuila, the messianic leader of the Jewish sect Foundlings.  Though she knows she should keep her opinions to herself she offers advice to the Inspector Dolinin.

Not long after Manuila was murdered, someone tries to kill Sister Palagia several times before she flees Russia and heads to the Holy land where she continues to investigate the homicide on board the Sturgeon.  While she is in Palestine, back in Russia friends and foes debate the merit of Sister Pelagia who continues her sleuthing instead of doing her sisterly duties as befitting a bride of Jesus.

The third Sister Pelagia amateur sleuth (see SISTER PELAGIA AND THE WHITE BULLDOG and SISTER PELAGIA AND THE BLACK MONK) is a super historical although there is a lot less detecting than in the previous entries.  The story line is fast-paced as the heroine has to get out of “Dodge” (at least St. Petersburg) because she is unable to investigate freely why someone wants her dead and the church leadership wants her banished.  Her adventures in the Holy Land continue as Sister Palagia cannot resist a mystery.  Fans of the saga will relish Boris Akunin third late nineteenth century thriller as Tsarist Russia and Palestine come alive though the beleaguered nun’s eyes.

Harriet Klausner

A Quiet Belief in Angels-R.J. Ellory

July 28, 2009

A Quiet Belief in Angels

R.J. Ellory

Overlook, Sep 2009, $24.95

ISBN 9781590202500

In 1939 in Augusta Falls, Georgia, someone rapes and murders a twelve year old child.  The classmates are stunned but especially affected is Joseph Vaughan.  When he turns fifteen raised by his widow mom, he remains haunted by the incident and violent death in general.  He persuades other boys his age to form the Guardians to prevent future assaults.

Over the next few years, the Guardians fail to stop brutal attacks as kids are abducted.  A depressed Vaughan leaves Georgia relocating to Brooklyn, where he hopes to make it with his other goal to become a writer.  However, a murder in the Big Apple ties back to Augusta Falls bringing him full circle.

Although there are too many minor subplots over complicating a fabulous character study of a seemingly OCD youth; A QUIET BELIEF IN ANGELS is a terrific tale of a Georgian fixated for decades with brutal killings especially by serial killers.  Fans will appreciate how deep author RJ Ellory takes the reader inside the mind of Joseph without slowing down the narrative.  He is the key holding the tale together as the focus of the story line.  As a as a senior citizen he connects the deadly dots between New York and Georgia but even then Mr. Ellory continues digging through the layers of the soul of his beleaguered frustrated hero.  This is a super look at a caring person struggling with his inability to prevent violence.

Harriet Klausner

The Scoop-Fern Michaels

July 28, 2009

The Scoop

Fern Michaels

Kensington, Sep 2009, $13.95

ISBN 9780758227188

In Charleston, South Carolina the four sexagenarian BFFs gather for the funeral of the millionaire husband of one of them Teresa Amelia “Toots” Loudenberry; this is her eighth spouse she has buried.  She informs her buddies that the mourning period will be one week before they dash to Hollywood.

Obsessive-compulsive Disorder centerfold Ida, overweight Mavis accompanied everywhere by Coco the Chihuahua and smoker Sophie agree to go with her to California.  Toots plans to buy the near bankrupt tabloid the Informer where her daughter Abby Simpson works as a reporter.  . However, the ten million dollar deal collapses when newspaper publisher Rodwell Archibald Godfrey III takes the money and runs to the Cayman Islands. V

THE SCOOP is a zany over the top of the Hollywood Hills starring the Golden Girls who go after Godfrey.  Each of the four musketeers is different, while the ringleader is Toots.  The story line is amusing and irrelevant as even the opening funeral services affirm nothing is sacred in life when it comes to eternity.  Fans will enjoy this madcap comedic tale as the escapades keep on coming when the four BFFs go after their man.

Harriet Klausner


Devil’s Trill-Gerald Elias

July 28, 2009

Devil’s Trill

Gerald Elias

Minotaur, Aug 2009, $25.99

ISBN 9780312541811

Every thirteen years the Grimsley Competition is held for prodigies under thirteen years of age at Carnegie Hall.  The winner receives money, appearances with the New York Symphonic and use of the renowned seventeenth century Piccolino valued at $8 million for a Carnegie Hall performance.

Blind Daniel Jacobus was once a losing participant, but since feels strongly that the competition and similar music venues destroy the gifted young.  Child prodigy Kamryn Vander is this year’s winner, but to the shock of the members if the Music Arts Project responsible for the gala, someone stole the revered Piccolino, the only known three-quarter-size Stradivarius.  The police blame Daniel, who was at the scene of the crime when the locked door was opened and found empty and has voiced a loud motive to end the competition by breaking the violin.  Encouraged by insurance investigator friend Nathanial, grumpy Daniel accompanied by his current student Yumi, whose green eyes are his vision, searches for the missing Piccolino.  Murder has the almost maestro and his protégé  fleeing to Japan before they become the second act of the killer.

This is a super amateur sleuth tale with a musical twist as Daniel with the help of Yumi tries to track down the missing Piccolino.  Fans will enjoy the blind teacher turned detective as the almost famous but now infamous Daniel understands the irony of his predicament; he wanted to end the competition that he feels harms children yet now must find the instrument that is the prize of the contest if he is to prove his innocence.  Fans will enjoy his profound cantankerous view of the state of classical music in this engaging mystery.

Harriet Klausner

Hell’s Kitchen Homicide-Charles Kipp

July 28, 2009

Hell’s Kitchen Homicide

Charles Kipp

Scribner, Sep 15 2009,

ISBN: 9781439127902

The corpse is found in Hell’s Kitchen overlooking the Hudson.  NYPD Detectives Conor Bard and Ralph Kurtz have the lead though the latter is retiring in a week.  The corpse is criminal defense attorney Walter Lawton with mob ties, who has freed many obvious felons from incarceration.

The obvious prime suspect is the victim’s wife Holly who will inherit millions.  The cops learn her lover is a professional hit man running a Brooklyn kennel Salvatore Zeffel and they fish the murder weapon a 22 out of the river; Sal’s choice of guns.  The case takes several spins with almost all having an Albanian connection, but none quite making sense.  Adding to Bard’s confusion is four women in his life: his boss who never leaves the station; his former lover who is seeing jealous Captain Reynolds; Holly who calls him all the time, and Albanian visitor Monica who he calls.  He is attracted to the latter two while he wants Reynolds off his back as the case seems to go nowhere.

This is a terrific New York police procedural as nothing is quite what it seems.  The banter between the partners is fun and Conor’s female problems add depth to him, but it is the whodunit that makes this an entertaining tale.  Every clue leads to the Albanian community in the Bronx, but every step forward also leads to a seemingly dead end.  Sub-genre fans will enjoy this fast-paced thriller as the streets of Manhattan seem dirtier than usual.

Harriet Klausner

31 Hours-Masha Hamilton

July 27, 2009

31 Hours

Masha Hamilton

Unbridled, Sep 2009, $24.95

ISBN: 9781932961836

At three in the morning in Manhattan, Carol abruptly wakes up with a premonition that her son Jonas is in trouble.  She thinks about it and realizes he has not called her in several weeks.  Carol goes back to feeling uneasy as only a mom can understand.  The next day she tries his cell phone and visits his apartment, but neither proves fruitful.  She visits his girlfriend Vic, who informs her Jonas has not returned her calls nor has she seen him lately, but she has no idea what she did to make him so angry that he cut off communication to her.  Vic’s response sends Carol into a deeper panic.

Jonas Meitzner is the son of an atheist mother and a Jewish father Jake whose parents were Hasidic.  His parents split when he was young, but that did not matter as he grew up faithless, but recently discovered Islam.  His spiritual guide Masoud believes that American society needs change from within violently; Jonas is an expendable tool to do so.

31 hours until he puts into place what he learned while secretly sequestered in Pakistan; 31 hours before he commits an act of terrorism on the trains; 31 hours before his letters reach his loved ones; 31 hours before he breaks many hearts including that of his mom.

Mindful of the young Minneapolis Muslims that apparently has concerned the community and the Feds, 31 HOURS is a timely thriller as loved ones increasingly become concerned when they lose contact with Jonas.  Fans will feel the anguish of his mom, the concern of his dad; the bewilderment of his girlfriend; the disassociation of guilt by his guide; and finally him, the focus of those who care about him in varying ways as he knows if one of them besides Masoud reaches him he will falter with his beliefs.  Fans will be hooked into this one sitting as a nice young man walks a deadly final 31 hours unless a miracle intercedes.

Harriet Klausner