Archive for September, 2009

Love You To Death-Shannon K. Butcher

September 30, 2009

Love You To Death

Shannon K. Butcher

Forever, Oct 2009, $6.99

ISBN: 9780446510295

Reporter Elise McBride knows her beloved capricious sister Ashley is missing a card or two from the deck of fifty two, but the siblings always stay in touch in spite of the former being in Hong Kong and the latter in Chicago.  However, when she fails to hear from her artistic sister for a few days and is unable to reach her, Elise becomes a bit concerned.  She panics especially when CPD blows her away even after she learns of a serial killer murdering women in the Windy City.  She flies home to insure her sibling is safe.

In Chicago, former police officer Trent Brady catches Elise trying to break into the home of his neighbor.  She explains who she is and why she is there.  Realizing how obstinate and resolute yet vulnerable Elise is, he offers to assist her while wondering what made him do so as they team up to track down and hopefully rescue Ashley.

The irony behind this tense thriller that never takes a breather is Elise and Trent are obsessive compulsive disorder types who feel a deep need to protect those they see as vulnerable, she to her sister and he to her.  The story line is fast-paced as Shannon K. Butcher places her pedal to the metal throughout the tale.  With the romance playing an important but secondary theme as saving the sister is paramount; LOVE YOU TO DEATH will grip readers as increasingly the evidence points towards Ashley as a victim of the serial killer and Elise a potential target.

Harriet Klausner

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The Gift-Deb Stover

September 30, 2009

The Gift

Deb Stover

Love Spell, Nov 2009, $6.99

ISBN: 9780505526069

Although she blames her paranormal gift for the her loss of her job, former Chicago homicide detective Beth Dearborn knows alcohol cost her that needed edge, but she used it to numb the dreaded extrasensory feeling of a violent death.  She is a recovering alcoholic, who obtained work as an insurance investigator.

Seven years ago in Brubaker, Tennessee, Lorilee Brubaker-Malone vanished without a trace.  Her teenage daughter persuades her father to have Lorilee declared legally dead and file a life insurance claim with Avery Mutual Insurance.  Almost from the moment she meets the father and daughter tandem, Beth senses a restless spirit.  She wonders if that could be Lorilee.  When a bridge collapses stranding Beth, Ty takes her in.  Attracted to him and liking his children, Beth continues to dig for the truth encouraged by something or someone from beyond but knows a mortal is the one trying to kill her.

This is an exciting romantic suspense thriller starring a wonderful female protagonist who struggles with dealing with her unique gift that she believes is a curse even turning to alcohol to numb the feelings.  The supporting cast in Brubaker are stereotypical small southern townsfolk who use Miss not Ms; surprisingly that enhances the plot of the exciting paranormal investigative romance filled with spins as the northern invader keeps finding clues that make Ty seem guilty of spousal homicide yet not satisfying the spirit that haunts her since she entered the Malone home.

Harriet Klausner

Death Will Help You Leave Him-Elizabeth Zelvin

September 30, 2009

Death Will Help You Leave Him

Elizabeth Zelvin

Minotaur, Oct 13 2009, $25.99

ISBN: 9780312582661

In New York, drug dealer Frankie Iacone is found dead in the apartment of his girlfriend Luz.  The police suspects Luz stabbed her boyfriend who just came out of rehab as they insist her motive is learning he had a wife and children living in Brooklyn.

Luz’s counselor Barbara, her boyfriend Jimmy and his best buddy recovering alcoholic Jimmy investigate the homicide.  Bruce also struggles with his dealings with his former wife bipolar addict Laura who he still sleeps with and who tempts his addiction.  Their unprofessional investigation leads the trio into trouble with the police and with associates of Frankie as they attend his funeral where they meet his warm Italian family including his pregnant wife.

In his second appearance (see DEATH WILL GET YOU SOBER) Bruce and his amateur sleuth cohorts make for an intriguing urban mystery as they fumble their way through the city’s most downtrodden residents trying to find the killer.  The story line is a very dark look at the mean streets of New York from the view of the undesirable forgotten.  For instance Bruce’s ex spouse is a fascinating character as she uses the threat of suicide as a defense mechanism to get Bruce to come over and then either kicks him to curb or has sex with him.  His confusion as to how to escape the relationship enhances a psychological look at New York’s emotionally desperately needy as the people overwhelms the whodunit.

Harriet Klausner

Rainwater-Sandra Brown

September 30, 2009

Rainwater

Sandra Brown

Simon & Schuster, Nov 3 2009, $23.99

ISBN: 9781439172773

In 1934 in Gilead, Texas, after her husband deserted Ella Barron and their son Solly, she supports them by running a boardinghouse.  Her ten year old child has issues that make him different and requires much attention from Ella.  Although she is tired from all she must do to keep the place running and her son safe Ella believes it is worth it for her Solly.

Ella agrees to take in a new boarder David Rainwater based on a recommendation from a friend she trusts.  The quiet newcomer surprises her as he is more than just kind to Solly; he spends quality time with her son.  Ella reluctantly becomes attracted to him and he is falling in love with his landlady and her child.  However, when racial hatred led by affluent Conrad Ellis leads to violence aimed at Ella and Solly, David risks his life to protect those facing brutality.

This is a deep Great Depression Era Texas thriller as poverty ignores race, ethnic background and gender, but people don’t.  Racism turns brutally ugly as Ellis and his followers are the law.  Ella is a courageous individual while Solly steals hearts as the townsfolk see him as either pitiful or demonized, making him a perfect helpless target of Ellis.  David will surprise readers as Solly gives him the inspiration to risk his life.  Sandra Brown is at her best with this heart-wrenching one sitting Americana.

Harriet Klausner

An Echo In The Bone-Diana Gabaldon

September 30, 2009

An Echo In The Bone

Diana Gabaldon

Delacorte, Oct 2009, $30.00

ISBN: 9780385342452

With the hostilities everywhere, it is unsafe to journey; as the rebels seem heading to certain defeat.  Ironically travelers Jamie Fraser and his wife Claire Randall know the upstart colonial Americans ultimately win the war against the mother country England because she read the outcome in twentieth century history books.  They travel together along with others as Clare fears for the safety of her spouse and his son fighting for the British; her schooling and history books never told her what happened to her Jamie.

In the twentieth century, their daughter Brianna, her husband Roger and their children struggle with adapting to life in the future.  However, though they connect with the Mackenzie clan, another time traveler has arrived and a real threat to their well being has surfaced.

This is an exciting historical thriller that takes readers on a tour of the battlefields and Europe as people die during the American Revolution.  Claire is terrific as she knows the ultimate outcome, but neither the personal outcome nor that trouble has traveled to the twentieth century.  Well written with the deep characterizations, fans will relish Fraser and company’s latest tale as Diana Gabaldon overcomes the completing of all the previous major threads in A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES by expanding the minor left behind subplots into a great entry.

Harriet Klausner

Loot the Moon-Mark Arsenault

September 29, 2009

Loot the Moon

Mark Arsenault

Minotaur, Oct 13 2009, $24.99

ISBN 9780312555764

In Rhode Island at the dog track, attorney Martin Smothers obsessively pleads with his friend former investigative journalist turned obit writer Billy Povich to look into the murder of Judge Gil Harmony.  Two bit thief Adam Rackers assassinated the Judge during a car-jacking.  Rackers died in the subsequent car crash, which left one survivor in critical condition Stuart Tracy.  Smothers wants Povich to uncover who paid for the hit.

Povich begins his inquiry and quickly learns a local mobster threatened the judge and that his honor had a secret life in Manhattan where he kept a mistress who appears at the reading of the will.  Menwhile Harmony’s legal clerk Kit Bass is beaten up at a club owned by mobster Glantz.  When someone threatens Billy, his son and his father, he takes on the case with renewed vigor.

In many ways this is a noir, but the hard boiled Billy is somewhat softened with family matters especially discussions with his dad over death that seems so timely.  The story line is action-packed as Billy gets into all sorts of predicaments and the final twist is superb.  The secondary eccentric cast enhances the engaging plot of the investigative GRAVEWRITER who in many ways brings out the best and worst in his support crowd.

Harriet Klausner

Detective Stories-Peter Washington (Editor)

September 28, 2009

Detective Stories

Peter Washington (Editor)

Everyman’s Library (Knopf), Oct 5 2009, $15.00

ISBN: 9780307272713

These are sixteen great short stories written as early 1844 (Edgar Allan Poe’s The Purloined Letter starring M. Dupin) to an early Sara Paretsky’s Warshawski.  In between there is a Holmes’ entry as well as Bret Harte (if you have not read this great short story nineteenth century author you are missing one of the all time best), Chesteron’s Father Brown, Hammett’s prototype tough guy, Chandler’s Mason, and Christie’s Miss Marple.  There are no clinkers as not only are the authors a virtual who’s who, their detectives are for the most part household names as the superstars of sleuthing.  Although some of the selections will have been read previously such as the WWI era still timely morality classic A Jury of Her Peers by Susan Glaspell, readers will fully relish each choice as we can compare Poe to Borges and Simenon’s Maigret to Rankin’s Rebus in what is a super compilation.

Harriet Klausner

The Violet Hour-Daniel Judson

September 28, 2009

The Violet Hour

Daniel Judson

Minotaur, Oct 13 2009,

ISBN: 9780312383572

In the Hamptons, twenty-two years old auto mechanic Caleb Rakowski is all alone as his criminal bent parents and brother are dead.  He lives in a dumpy apartment above the garage where he works, but is overall contented with his life as he loves working on cars and his appreciative boss Eric Carver knows the young man is a guru when it comes to auto repair.

Cal does have one friend Lebell, who is in hiding from mobsters; professional killers are aware that Cal is their target’s buddy so there is guilt by association.  Also unable to mind his own business when an underdog is abused, Cal gives shelter to Heather who treated him nice when he worked as a teen at the restaurant owned by her and her abusive spouse former NFL thug Ronnie Pamona.  Soon seemingly everyone on Long Island will converge on Cal to play a special version of survivor; as he wears a bulls-eye being the protector of those victimized by figuratively demons from both sides of the law, but will need to pull a rabbit preferably not a dead one out of the ball cap.

This is a zany entertaining Long Island thriller starring a likable seemingly helpless young man who becomes the defender of the downtrodden against a wave of killers.  Blood will flow more often than oil does at the garage over a few days as Cal learns what happens to Good Samaritans.  He can be thankful for being a chip off the old block as his DNA oozes suspicion of cops and robbers.  He makes for a fun over the top of Suffolk County South Fork lighthouses tale

Harriet Klausner

Mania-Craig Larson

September 28, 2009

Mania

Craig Larson

Pinnacle, Nov 1 2009, $6.99

ISBN: 9780786021543

Seattle Telegraph newspaper photographer Nick Wilder has always looked up to his brother Sam; who is on his way to becoming a billionaire if the drug trials for the anti-psychotic Matrix Zarcon holds up as expected.  Nick currently covers the brutal murders of men so unrecognizable their family members could not identify them.  He becomes part of the story when a homeless man without shoes stabs and kills his sibling.

The incident triggers in Nick flashbacks and hallucinations that make him and the police wonder if he is the vicious psychopathic killer who murdered his own brother.  In a coffee shop, Nick meets Sara Garland, stepdaughter of the Telegraph’s owner Jason Hamlin.  They hit if off and she helps him cope with the nasty hallucinatory incidents and horrific dreams that he fears are repressive memories.  The cops question Nick re Sam’s murder and that of another victim, but let him ago as they lack evidence although Police Lieutenant Dombrowski believes he allowed the killer to leave; he plans to find proof to lock away this maniac for life.

Throughout the story line Nick struggles with his sanity as he is unable to delineate reality from dreams of events that happened to him.  The audience is as unsure whether Nick is the killer or suffering from some other psychotic derangement.  MANIA is a fascinating thriller that delves deep into the mind of a struggling protagonist who ponders what reality really is.  Although a final spin seems over the top of the Needle fans will relish this action-packed psychological thriller starring a beleaguered hero who no longer has the mental fight to argue with people telling him what the truth is.

Harriet Klausner

Pursuit of Honor-Vince Flynn

September 27, 2009

Pursuit of Honor

Vince Flynn

Atria, Oct 13 2009, $27.99

ISBN: 9781416595168

Six days ago the country was rocked by the explosions in DC that killed 185 people and injured so many more.  CIA Director Irene Kennedy orders counterterrorism operative Mitch Rapp to find the three al Qaeda men responsible for the attack and bring them to justice anyway he can.  However, the sophisticated way the trio vanished is a shocker as terrorists have not been very good at hiding their footprints, which to Rapp denotes some insider support to have gotten to and away from the National Counterterrorism Center one of their targets that included several senators as victims.

First Rapp has to take care of “Deep Throat” wannabe CIA IG Inspector Adams.  After that he and his teammate Mike Nash struggle with clues as Congress screams for increased oversight and no more illegal activity while his employer unofficially sanctions whatever it takes to keep the nation safe.  He is unaware that in Toolesboro, Iowa are Hakim and Karim hiding on a farm that the former purchased through a New York lawyer.  They rusticate overlooking the Mississippi before they make their follow-up move to the success of the explosions they set in DC six days ago.

With the arrest of terrorist suspects, the latest Rapp thriller is an exciting tale as the hero struggles with his PURSUIT OF HONOR while trying to take out some nasty folks who hide behind the skirts of young girls as the innocent are expendable in order to achieve their objective Rapp running on that very thin line between morality and security comes across much stronger through Nash’s balancing act between his family and protecting his country.  Ironically while the Congress and Executive Branch debate legal issues over domestic spying and torture, Rapp and Nash skirmish between personal ethics and national security as Vince Flynn provides a thought provoking gripping thriller.

Harriet Klausner