Archive for October, 2009

Red to Black-Alex Dryden

October 31, 2009

Red to Black

Alex Dryden

Ecco, Aug 2009, $25.99

ISBN: 9780061803864

 

In 1999 Moscow, Russian FSB intelligence Colonel Anna, daughter of a KGB spymaster meets Finn, a British M16 operative who allegedly is a trade secretary, but everyone in the field knows his real vocation, which he does not bother to conceal. He is aware of who’s who like his peers are.  He knows who Anna is and she knows who he is.  Each is aware of the Putin “Plan”.

 

Finn arranges for his return to England where he retires; knowing full well the suspicious Russians will not believe he is out of the cold.  Like Pavlov’s dogs, Putin’s KGB followers want to know what they deem a ruse so they send his former Muscovite lover Anna to seduce him in London in order to extract his high level Russian contact.  Over the years the two spies make love and elude war as they dream of a life together without lies but eventually unravel a scheme to launder money that supports the Putin Plan.

 

The espionage scenes are incredibly terrific as the focus on international fiancés by the FSB will stun the audience as Alex Dryden enables the reader to look into Putin’s eyes and see a ruthless soul.  The romantic subplot pales in comparison to the big picture schemes although watching two people in love lie to each other with the knowledge the other knows makes for an intriguing courtship.  Although the writing at times feels stilted, readers will enjoy the frightening Red to Black as the audience obtains a deep look at a merciless Russia during the beginning of the Bush Administration.

 

Harriet Klausner

 

Hot As Sin-Bella Andre

October 31, 2009

Hot As Sin

Bella Andre

Dell, Oct 27 2009, $7.99

ISBN: 9780440245018

 

In a small Vail, Colorado café, television host Dianna Kelley meets her sister April who left home because her sibling was controlling and overprotective.  Dianna wanted to make up for the years April was in foster care but she could not connect with her when April informs her she lives in a commune.  Dianna explodes and April leaves; Diana drinks before driving and gets into an accident in which she is injured and the other driver dead.

 

In the Sierra Nevada range, firefighter Sam MacKenzie learns of Dianna’s injuries.  Although a decade has passed since she miscarried and left him, he runs to her side.  When they meet again, the sparks that remained simmering for years ignites into a passionate firestorm.  However both remain wary of being hurt so each hides their deep feelings from the other.  Dianna learns April was kidnapped by someone seeking revenge.  Sam swears he will rescue her sister, but Dianna insists on accompanying him on the arduous trek into the Sierras.  On the dangerous journey, they realize not just how much love they share, but rejoice in revealing how much love they have for one another.  However finding and rescuing April and surviving remain the goal.

 

Bella Andre has written a heated second chance at love romantic suspense starring a hotshot firefighter and a TV talk show host; each brings fear to their fiery relationship.  April adds to the mix as a gutsy individual not waiting to be rescued.  She makes the tale’s thriller elements work with her courage and fortitude.  Readers will relish this fine tale as April has choices to make and one wrong one could lead to her death.

 

Harriet Klausner

Crawlspace-Sarah Graves

October 31, 2009

Crawlspace

Sarah Graves

Bantam, Jan 2010, $25.00

ISBN: 9780553806809

 

Six years ago, everyone believed Randy Dodd died because there was plenty of evidence backing that belief.  It also was assumed that Randy killed his wife Cornelia.  His brother Roger, who was married to Cornelia’s sister, lost his spouse in an accident so he grieves all the tragedies that has hammered at his soul.  Nothing altered these convictions until true crime writer Carolyn Rathbone and her assistant Chip Hahn arrive in Eastport, Maine to research the tragedy of the Lang sisters for a book she is writing.

 

Carolyn and Chip believe Randy is alive and is responsible for the deaths of both sisters as he wanted their inheritance.  Randy is in town to access the money, but first kidnaps Carolyn with the intent to kill her because he simply enjoys murdering women.

 

Jacobia “Jake” Tiptree awakens to the realism her son Sam failed to come home last night and later discovers he was seen and recognized Randy.  Sam is also the killer’s prisoner.  Jake is determined to find out where Randy hides and rescue the writer and her offspring.  With help from her step-brother, her best friend, her housekeeper and Chip, Jake begins her search.  A clue from Roger assists them, but they remain ignorant that they are entering a trap until it is sprung.

 

Crawlspace is much more violent than the usual Home Repair amateur sleuth tales due to the predator; rather than a cozy this tale is more a suspense thriller.  Readers ironically know Randy lives from the onset when the residents of Eastport sleep serenely at night because they believe he is dead.  The story line is terrific with a great finish that will stun the audience used to amateur sleuth superheroes as fans will salute Sarah Graves with a strong grim entry.

 

Harriet Klausner

The Disciple-Stephen Coonts

October 30, 2009

The Disciple

Stephen Coonts

St. Martin’s, Dec 8 2009, $26.99

ISBN 9780312372835

CIA Middle Eastern Operations chief Jake Grafton assigns his top operative Tommy Carmellini to work inside Iran as there is fear that maniacal fundamentalist President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is close to having his finger on a nuclear trigger.  The Iranian leader wants a holy war to the death with the west and he believes his side will win.

As Tommy watches and gathers information, he has Iranians supporting him; many fear Ahmadinejad’s legacy will be a stone age Iran.  While Israel considers bombing Iran’s nuclear sites as it did Syria, Tommy’s efforts and that of his associates and his boss fail to prevent the madman from firing missiles throughout the Middle East under the guise of martyrdom.  Tommy and Jake to try to deflect his assault of missiles, including some nuclear, that Iran has fired in order to stop WW III from occurring.

This is a tense thriller that places the stars of in what feels like a potentially realistic extrapolation of headline news with recent revelations re Iranian hidden nuclear developments.  The story line is fast-paced starting with the opening sequence of the Israeli destruction of the Syrian nuclear plant as told to readers by a Russian adviser killed at the site and never slows down.  Though obviously biased as the American heroes are hawk patriots (not the chicken hawk couch potato variety of send someone else); the action enables the reader to know who are allies and enemies as Stephen Coonts provides a super tale of vaporization while exposing Ahmadinejad’s fanatical background that goes back to even before the fall of the Shah.

Harriet Klausner

The Murdered House-Pierre Magnan

October 30, 2009

The Murdered House

Pierre Magnan

Minotaur, Nov 10 2009, $24.99

ISBN: 9780312367206

 

He was raised in an orphanage and fought for the French during WWI.  When the armistice ended the fighting, Seraphin Monge returns to his hometown in the Alps where he finds work as a road-digger.  Two women Rose Pujol and Marie Dormeur are interested in the muscular Seraphin.

 

However, he also learns about his biological family.  When he was three weeks old in Provence, someone murdered his parents, his grandfather and his two older brothers in their family home back in 1896.  Three Herzegovinian losers were arrested, convicted of the brutal homicides and executed.  With what he now knows Seraphin believes the visiting trio was convenient scapegoats to close a case and perhaps conceal the real culprit’s identity.  At his family home La Burliere, the spirit of Seraphin’s mother demands he learns the truth.  He tears apart the insides until he finds evidence that implies three leading citizens: Gaspard Dupin, Rose’s father Didion and Marie’s dad Celestat are the most likely killers.  Seraphin plans vengeance, but someone else murders Didion and Celestat; and that person may be stalking Seraphin.

 

This is a strong post WWI historical mystery that brings to life two periods: the post war and the late Victorian Era in France.  The cast serves only to support Seraphin on his quest for the truth that morphs into a thirst for vengeance.  Obviously disturbed and haunted by the murders of his family whom he was too young to know and the opulence those who apparently got away with the act, Magnan is the only developed character as each new revelatory discovery shakes his bone marrow and leaves him further desiring blood.  Fans will appreciate Pierre Magnan’s third taut suspense thriller printed in the United States (see The Messengers of Death and Death in the Truffle Wood), as the audience will wonder what the seemingly maniacal Seraphin will ultimately do.

 

Harriet Klausner

 

Sins Of The Flesh-Caridad Pineiro

October 29, 2009

Sins Of The Flesh

Caridad Pineiro

Forever, Nov 2009, $6.99

ISBN: 9780446543835

 

Musician Caterina Shaw is dying from brain cancer.  She agrees to be a guinea pig in genetic experiments conducted by Dr. Raymond Edwards in a hope this may save her life; she has no other prayer.  The experiments work, but also have a side effect.  She has super human skills and lost much of her memory.  When she is accused o murder, Caterina flees needing to learn the truth and how to control her new abilities.

 

Raymond hires mercenary Mick Carrera to capture and bring Caterina back to him so he can continue his experiments on her; he prefers her alive, but dead is acceptable.  However, when Mick catches up to Caterina he finds he wants to help her; as he rejects the idea she could be a psychopathic killer.  Instead he takes her to his sister vowing to keep his Caterina safe; unaware that diabolical Raymond has other less ethical operatives working the extraction.

 

Sins of the Flesh is an action-packed thriller that never takes a breath once Caterina accepts the radical experimental treatment.  The story line is faster than the speed of light, but though Caterina is fully developed, Mick is not so the audience never fully understands his motive to become a mercenary (especially once we meet his family) or to not bring her in even if he likes her.  Caridad Pineiro provides another one of her super romantic suspense thrillers as the heat is on.

Harriet Klausner

The Gatekeeper-Michelle Gagnon

October 29, 2009

The Gatekeeper

Michelle Gagnon

Mira, Nov 2009, $7.99

ISBN: 9780778326724

FBI Special Agent Kelly Jones is part of an investigative team looking into the brutal murder US Senator Duke Morris.  The prevalent theory to the motive for such butchery is that his death is tied to Morris’ highly visible role in ending illegal immigrants crossing into the United States; a warning of sorts to back off or else.

 

Kelly’s fiancé former agent Jake Riley agrees to help the boyfriend of a co-worker.  Someone abducted Randall Grant’s sixteen year old daughter, Madison..  The kidnappers’ demands are shocking and unacceptable; Jake needs to rescue the teen soonest or all hell will break out,  Soon these obviously separate cases collide in a frightening domestic convergence at a mystical being the Gatekeeper who somehow has united the most despicable violent hate groups in America preparing them for the third American Revolution.

 

The third Jones FBI thriller (see Boneyard and The Tunnel) is a super action-packed tale that occurs in a pulse pumping short time frame of June 25 through July 4.  Ironically for most of the time, the lead pair works on separate nasty investigations until they connect when it seems too late.  Set aside time as this one grips you from start to finish with two incredible unexpected twists as Michelle Gagnon makes the Pogo case: “We Have Met the Enemy and He Is Us”.

 

Harriet Klausner

Ice-Linda Howard

October 29, 2009

Ice

Linda Howard

Ballantine, Nov 10 2009, $24.00

ISBN: 9780345517197

 

Gabriel McQueen drives up from North Carolina to spend the holidays with his family in Wilson Creek, Maine.  The widowed soldier looks forward to time with “Gran”, his dad the sheriff and his son Sam.  However, his father asks him to take a quick run up to the Helton family cabin to make sure Lolly Helton, who went up there to pick ups some items, but should have returned by now and is out of phone contact, is all right as a nasty storm is coming.

 

As Gabe muses back to his icy childhood rivalry with Lolly while driving to her cabin, she is in danger trapped by two irrational meth addicts.  Gabe quickly assesses the situation on the ground and uses his military training and experience to extract Lolly from the house and the enemy.  However, as covertness as he was, the two maniacal thugs go after them.

 

This is an exciting fast-paced romantic suspense with the frozen isolated location enhancing the perilous situation.  Gabe is a terrific heroic protagonist although it is convenient to have his background in extraction and survivability under harsh conditions.  Lolly still rips skins form him as he discovers how to melt the Ice and prevent further epidermis loss by kissing her.  Although the addicts are stereotypes fans will enjoy Linda Howard’s quick by exhilarating survival of the fittest thriller.

Harriet Klausner


Under the Dome-Stephen King

October 29, 2009

Under the Dome

Stephen King

Scribner, Nov 10 2009, $35.00

ISBN: 9781439148501

 

In Chester’s Mill, Maine Big Jim Rennie runs the small town through underhanded extortionist politics and illegal drug dealing.  His son is a bully throwing his father’s influential weight at others.  Few overtly counter this pair of leading citizens, but army veteran Dale “Barbie” Barbara and newspaper editor Julia Shumway lead the opposition.

 

Already somewhat isolated due to its location, an invisible dome suddenly falls over the entire remote New England village; dropped by the Overlords who live amongst us and have chosen this place apparently for one of their experiments.  Things begin to happen rather quickly starting with the plane crash and the tractor explosion.  Nothing can enter or leave.  Over a short period of time the infrastructure begins to collapse and survival means enemies teaming up.  Some claim this is God’s punishment and wait for the Rapture; others believe that Big Jim made a bad deal with his drug overlords, but some like short order cook Barbie insist it is something else.  As conditions deteriorates rapidly, the townsfolk fail to unite; instead remain splintered into two major groups led by Big Jim who invokes marital law and Barbie who searches for who and why, and  several smaller factions who mostly choose inaction using diverse rationale to defend their position.

 

This is a strong King thriller that returns the great horror author to his Stand roots of good vs. evil.  Although somewhat stereotyped characters, fans will not care as morality takes center stage with the cast’s differences of opinions negatively impacting survival.  Good vs. evil on a bigger stage looks inside as on the smaller platform of Chester’s Mill good vs. evil plays out in a reality version of survival.

 

Harriet Klausner

 

Breathless-Dean Koontz

October 29, 2009

Breathless

Dean Koontz

Bantam, Nov 24 2009, $28.00

ISBN:  9780553807158

 

After being a military sniper, Grady Adams lives in an isolated part of the Rockies where he works as a craftssman.  One day in the forest he sees a strange light and knows musingly nothing will be the same.  Grady observes two white creatures playing and knows they sense his nearness somehow.  Frightened by what he has seen, he and his Irish Wolfhound Merlin race home.

 

At the same time on a horse farm, veterinarian Dr. Camilla Rivers is shook by what she sees.  All the horses seem in some sort of trance as if they sense something big is coming.

 

Grady calls Cammy to come over to his house to look at something strange.  The two creatures he saw in the woods make themselves at home in his cabin as Grady is entranced by them as they seem beautiful, pristine and pure.  Cammy arrives and knows they are a different species.  They name the pair Puzzle and Riddle.  However Homeland Security learns of the existence of the due and come to confiscate them in order to test them.  Conny and Grady refuse to allow the rendition of the odd pair, but remain unsure how to prevent it.

 

Animal lovers will especially relish Dean Koontz’s latest thriller that insists evil must be dealt with and can come in various forms; just because something new and different is found does not make them malevolent.  Instead something familiar can be the wicked and those with ethics will step up to prevent the heinous from inheriting the earth.  The creatures slowly reveal who they are to their adopted human pets, which makes Grady and Cammy even more resolute to keep them safe.  With plenty of mysteries at the core of the exciting story line, Dean Koontz is at his best with this thought provoking thriller as the monstrosities are not always obvious.

 

Harriet Klausner