Archive for August, 2009

Sheer Folly-Carola Dunn

August 27, 2009

Sheer Folly

Carola Dunn

Minotaur, Sep 15 2009, $24.99

ISBN: 9780312387754

Writing a book about the SHEER FOLLY of architectural design disasters, Daisy Dalrymple and her best friend photographer Lady Lucy Binscomb travel to see Appsworth Hall; owned by friendly Mr. Pritchard of Pritchard’s Plumbing Products.   Daisy’s husband Scotland Yard Detective Chief Inspector Alex Fletcher reluctantly will baby-sit their twins while she is away for the weekend.

Daisy and Lucy arrive at the estate only find their host Mr. Pritchard is throwing a garish party attended by Daisy’s friend Julia Beaufort; Lord Rydal known as Rhino; his lover Lady Ottaline Wandersley and her husband Sir Desmond; and Canadian historian Charles Armitage who seems attracted to Julia and she in him.  An explosion leaves Rhino dead, but his paramour and his chauffeur survive.  The spouses of Daisy and Lucy arrive just in time for the DCI to investigate.

This is an engaging 1920s investigative tale that ironically feels fresh because the local cops are euphoric to have an experienced DCI to work the case.  The story line as always in this wonderful long running series (see BLACK SHIP) provides the reader with a glimpse of the English upper class just before the depression.  The support cast is solid and the whodunit cleverly devised to enable the reader and Daisy to compete with Alex.  It would be SHEER FOLLY for historical mystery fans not to read this superb tale.

Harriet Klausner

The Hunt For Atlantis-Andy McDermott

August 27, 2009

The Hunt For Atlantis

Andy McDermott

Bantam, Sep 29 2009, $7.99

ISBN: 9780553592856

Her parents were in Tibet in their quest to find Atlantis when they died.  Their deaths shook up their daughter archeologist Nina Wilde, who is in New York City when word reaches her.  She has no time to grieve as someone tries to kill her.

Former personal security expert Eddie Chase saves her life.  Eddie introduces Nina to reclusive billionaire Kristian Frost and his daughter, Kari.  Father and daughter are interested in finding the mythical city and are willing to fund the right expedition; they believe Nina is the right person to lead the quest.  Seeing this as a legacy for her late parents, she agrees and begins a globetrotting expedition following clues and dodging human perils fostered on her and her team by The Brotherhood of Selasphorus with Eddie’s help.

This globetrotting breakneck speed thriller will have readers thinking of Indiana Jones (Josephine) as the heroine races back and forth onto four continents being chased by the brotherhood every step of the way.  Filled with twists the story line is action, action, and more action as THE HUNT FOR ATLANTIS contains a somewhat limited plot, but fans will enjoy trekking the world faster than the speed of light (or at least the bad guys) with Nina.

Harriet Klausner

Dead Docket-Mitchell Graham

August 27, 2009

Dead Docket

Mitchell Graham

Forge, Jul 2009, $24.99

ISBN: 9780765322456

They became lovers in New York City (see MAJESTIC DESCENDING), but while John Delaney is a Big Apple law professor, Katherine Adams is an Atlanta lawyer.  They miss one another, but keep in contact though long distance relationships are difficult.

Delaney is excited and sad as he has a professional reason to see Katherine.  Delaney is heading to Georgia to settle the estate of the daughter of his father’s partner.  Apparently Sarah fell off a cliff while camping in Cloudland Canyon in north Georgia Mountains. However, this simple matter turns ugly when Delaney learns O’Connor allegedly stole a file from the US Attorney’s office where she worked as a legal intern; the file contained incriminating evidence against crime boss Warren Blendel.  John soon realizes that Sarah’s apartment was searched and that the FBI has kept a case open involving her and her boyfriend Andre Rostov.  Not long after that Blendel’s thugs come to Atlanta to bury anyone associated with the evidence.  Katherine and John find a tie to his fathers’ death as the case spins further out of control.

Throw away your plausibility meter somewhere on the East Coast and the reader will have a great time going along for the ride of an action-packed thriller.  The story line is action-packed and feels at times out of control as Adams and Delaney land in one dangerous disaster after another.  Filled with twists, fans will appreciate this entertaining but improbable thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Grace Hammer-Sara Stockbridge

August 27, 2009

Grace Hammer

Sara Stockbridge

Norton, Sep 21 2009, $23.95

ISBN: 9780393067187

In 1888 in the Whitechapel section of London Grace Hammer and her children live relatively snug especially when compared with their East End neighbors.  She and her kids are expert pickpockets, which is how they fund their fine home.

Having taken purses since she was a child and also training her children to do likewise; Grace has a history; she hopes her past remains buried as some of her victims would like to get back at her if they could find her; which is unlikely because of her residence.  However, rusticating not out of choice resides one of her victims, the outraged Mr. Blunt.  Years ago a beautiful hooker stole a special treasure from him and he vowed to find her and get back what she purloined and more; as retribution is his.  Blunt now knows where she hides and exacts punishment but not by directly targeting her, but like she did with his missing piece take from her what she cherishes most.

This is an engaging late Victorian thriller that in spite of being decades after Oliver Twist took place has a similar sense of locale even with the era and section of London being that of Ripper.  The fast-paced tale is at its best when the focus subtly is on the dark atmosphere of the East End underground; on the other hand when Sara Stockbridge indulgently turns poetic with flowery figures of speech GRACE HAMMER loses some of its taut dark edge even when the metaphors and similes are gloomy.  Still fans will enjoy this fine historical suspense tale in anticipation of High Noon in Whitechapel.

Harriet Klausner

A Prisoner of Versailles-Golden Keyes Parson

August 27, 2009

A Prisoner of Versailles

Golden Keyes Parson

Thomas Nelson, Sep 1 2009, $14.99

ISBN: 9781595546272

In spite of the Clavell family willing to vow on the bible, King Louis XIV refuses to accept their contention as he firmly believes that Philippe Clavell is not his son.  Knowing how obstinate and dangerous the monarch can be, the Clavell brood flees hoping for sanctuary in Switzerland, but fails to get out of France as the monarch spares no expense sending Captain Maisson to bring back Madeleine and her oldest son Philippe to what he calls the most beautiful palace, Versailles.

The King’s men capture them and escort Madeleine and Philippe to Versailles.  Madeleine depends on Pierre Bovee, who kept her safe once before; while Philippe tries in vain to persuade the ruler that he is not his offspring.  However, Bovee is arrested for high treason with little chance of getting out of prison alive.  Frightened for her family, friends and herself, Madeleine feels God is either testing her or more likely abandoned her.  She also realizes her only way to save her kin and her former protector is agreeing to become the mistress of King Louis XIV.

The second Darkness to Light (IN THE SHADOW OF THE SUN KING) historical thriller is an exciting fast-paced tale starring a strong woman who sacrifices her own well-being to try to keep her loved ones safe.  There is plenty of taut suspense and a secondary romantic subplot that tie together nicely in support of the prime story line that focuses on surviving the Sun King’s peccadilloes and wrath in seventeenth century France.

Harriet Klausner

Eye of the God-Ariel Allison

August 27, 2009

The art thief ring the Collectors wants the Dali painting hanging in a Rio de Janeiro museum.  Smithsonian curator Dr Abigail Mitchell travels to Rio warns the museum’s director Dr. Ana Santos about the possible thefts.  While they meet, two masked men steal several paintings.  They are brothers Alex and Isaac Weld who plan to steal the Hope Diamond from the Smithsonian.

Abby is in charge of the fund raising gala with the Hope Diamond as the centerpiece.  Alex poses as a journalist and gets close enough to Abby to place a bug on her so that he and Isaac can listen in on discussions about security arrangements.  As he gets closer to Abby, his emotions get entangled for the first time with a mark although he intends to go through with the theft. The theft will be easier because at the last moment it is decided Abby will be wearing the Hope Diamond.  When she asks her father for help in recovering it, he dismisses her as he had all his life.  She learns Alex betrayed her, but though hurt remains resolute to recover what belongs to the Smithsonian.

This is an exhilarating inspiring thriller starring a heroine who never received her father’s affection as a child or an adult yet still covets it and reaches out to him knowing the rejection is coming.  Alex gets passed her mental defense mechanisms playing on her need to be loved; his betrayal rips her heart as like her father he affirms men don’t care though he feels remorse and regret.  Filled with action on three continents, EYE OF THE GOD is a riveting fast-paced thriller, but it is Abby in spite of another let down by a man remains filled with hope who makes Ariel Allison’s tale a super read.

Harriet Klausner

Trick or Treat-Kerry Greenwood

August 26, 2009

Trick or Treat

Kerry Greenwood

Poisoned Pen, Oct 2009, $24.95

ISBN: 9781590585320

In Melbourne, large size baker Corinna Chapman becomes concerned when competition moves in down the block from her Earthy Delights bakery.  She knows her food is superior to the chain, but their prices are much less than hers.  At the same time she is panicky over her shop, an old friend visits her Israeli boyfriend, Daniel Cohen who is busy searching for stolen by the Nazis loot owned by Greek Jews. Georgiana is gorgeous and appears to want Daniel and though she admits to herself jealousy might taint her opinion Corinna believes the bakery too.

As she struggles to hold on to her business, perfectly sane people are jumping off buildings to their deaths.  The police shut down foods shops to investigate the root cause.  Meanwhile her friend Meroe the witch owner of Sibyl’s Cave is unhappy with the gathering to celebrate Samhain.  Soon the food issue, the stolen loot, and the witches’ coven camp converge as a deadly predator has been working the neighborhood.

The latest Chapman mystery is a superb amateur sleuth that deftly merges several mysteries with the Lonsdale Street neighborhood goings-on that impact the lead heroine and her friends.  The story line is fast-paced from the first confection to the final confrontation as Kerry Greenwood bakes a delightful Australian tale with a terrific twist that will send readers to the previous HEAVENLY PLEASURES of the EARTHY DELIGHTS Bakery.

Harriet Klausner

Chinese Whispers-Peter May

August 26, 2009

Chinese Whispers

Peter May

Poisoned Pen, Oct 2009, $24.95

ISBN: 9781590586082

The Chinese authorities try to conceal the serial killings of four prostitutes by the Beijing Ripper, whose methods are reminiscent of the late nineteenth century notorious Victorian psychopath.  They actually were somewhat successful until the victim is visiting Chinese American Professor Lynn Pann, in Beijing to show new law enforcement tools using the Mermer brain scan method to the Municipal Police Chief of CID Li Yan.

Li investigates the latest homicide with plenty of superiors watching his every move.  He thinks the motive is related the Mermer method.  As he begins to follow the clues based on the American finding something about one of her subjects, someone with power is trying to destroy him by denying his American lover’s visa renewal, kidnapping their son, arresting his sister for drug trafficking and finally firing Li. As an expert falls from a window, Li works the case unofficially, which in China means illegally.

This is a gripping at times gruesome Ripper police procedural with the freshness being the Communist authorization government interfering in Li’s investigation and his romance with his beloved American.  The story line is fast-paced on both fronts as Li struggles with ending a serial killer’s murder spree while confronting all sorts of assaults on his loved ones from an unknown adversary with a grudge and highly connected.  Fans will appreciate this super Chinese serial killer police procedural and seek previous Li Yan cases (see THE FIREMAKER, KILLING ROOM and SNAKEHEAD); especially those in Beijing.

Harriet Klausner


How to Rob an Armored Car-Iain Levinson

August 25, 2009

How to Rob an Armored Car

Iain Levinson

Soho, Oct 1 2009, $15.00

ISBN: 9781569475997

In Pennsylvania Mitch Alden manages an Accu-mart store; he also struggles with the stress and poverty level wages by buying weed to numb the work.  However, his purchase fails to help this time as he becomes introspective wondering why he would spend his last money on getting high in order to get through his shift.

Mitch needs a new source of income to pay for his numbing devicers: beer and drugs.  He persuades two friends, married father Kevin and Doug who is having an affair with his buddy’s wife to help heist a TV from the store. The three feel a natural high, which encourages the planner of the trio Mitch to go for something more expensive.  However, the gang who can’t walk straight (nod to Jimmy Breslin) fail at swiping a Ferrari from a doctor, but become teammates with him trying to sell his Oxycontin hoard.  That is half of an afternoon as Mitch and his buds dream of the million dollar deal.

Timely with the economic recession, HOW TO ROB AN ARMORED CAR is a tense yet amusing crime thriller as working class slackers go after the American dream by stealing their way to wealth only doing it the lower middle class way through hard core robberies.  The story line is character driven mostly by the three amigos but also to a lesser degree their new business partner.  Fans will enjoy Iain Levinson’s entertaining look at DOG EAT DOG working class capitalists.

Harriet Klausner

Capitol Offense-William Bernhardt

August 25, 2009

Capitol Offense

William Bernhardt

Ballantine, Oct 2009, $26.00

ISBN 9780345502995

Following his time in DC as a temporary appointed US Senator (see CAPITOL CONSPIRACY) Ben Kincaid has returned home to Tulsa to practice law and consider a run for the permanent seat.  Professor Dennis Thomas visits Ben asking the attorney to defend him on a murder rap that has not yet occurred.  Dennis hates bureaucrat Police Detective Christopher Sentz who ignored his begging to do a missing person’s search for his wife Josylyn.  She died after being trapped inside her car for a week following an accident while her vehicle was in a ravine.

Dennis visits a hotel where Sentz is conducting a sting operation.  Soon afterward someone fires seven shots at Sentz killing the cop.  Dennis swears to Ben he never killed the man though his rage put him over the edge.  Caught with questions of client privilege, Ben wonders if he was set up.  Still even as he has a political campaign to run, Ben decides to defend the still fuming professor who is at the center of a media frenzy in which everyone believes he killed the cop, but debate whether grief or madness is a justification.  Private Investigator Loving begins to uncover dark secrets involving their client, his late wife and the murdered detective that makes the defense even more insane.

The latest Kincaid thriller will delight long time fans as the hero is back in Oklahoma, but working on a case that his chief of staff tells him to drop as it is political suicide.  The story line is fast-paced from the moment Professor Thomas asks Kincaid to defend him from a murder he had not yet committed.  Fans will enjoy Ben’s latest CAPITOL OFFENSE as he defends a client who confessed his plan before hand and was found at the murder scene with the corpse.  William Bernhardt provides a strong fresh entry with a great unexpected climax and coda.

Harriet Klausner