Archive for November, 2009

Vanishing Act-Fern Michaels

November 30, 2009

Vanishing Act

Fern Michaels

Zebra, Jan 2010, $7.99

ISBN: 9781420106855


After successfully completing their last mission without their mentor Charles Martin (see Under the Radar), who remains missing, the Sisterhood decides to celebrate at their getaway on Big Pine Mountain anyway as he would have expected that of them.  As Charles comes home to them, his reception is a bit cold until Yoko welcomes him back.  However the pre gala amiable bickering comes to an abrupt halt when Jack Emery calls his fiancée Nikki to tell her Yoko’s beloved Harry Wong lost everything including his dojo to an identity theft ring.


Outraged, the Sisterhood vows to not just get Harry back his money and his dojo, they plan to steal the identities of the thieves.  With help from their journalist pal Maggie and with Charles back in the fold, they begin their vendetta.


Over the top as usual, this is a fun Sisterhood entry with the ladies doing their typical mission impossible escapades.  The story line is fast-paced though even fans of the previous thirteen entries will need a scorecard to keep track of the good gals.  Still with a terrific surprising coda, fans will relish the latest avenging exploits of the Sisterhood.


Harriet Klausner


High Anxiety-Charlotte Hughes

November 30, 2009

High Anxiety

Charlotte Hughes

Jove, Dec 29 2009, $7.99

ISBN: 9780515147407


Psychologist Kate Holley wonders if she is as big a Nutcase as some of her patients ever since her former husband Jay Rush the firefighter became her lover again in spite of her obsessive compulsive fear of his profession ever since her father was taken from her by the Fire Gods.  While Jay is fighting a forest fire in Florida, her best friend and receptionist, Mona Epps is on sick leave so the High Anxiety shrink hires a temporary assistant Abigail Davis.


However, although Abigail is competent she changes her wardrobe and hairstyle to emulate Kate.  When she begins to get involved in Kate’s personal life, the psychologist knows in this case What Looks Like Crazy is crazy.  Although she has other issues and is worried about Jay, Kate knows Abigail is at the top of the list as her temp is stalking every aspect of her life.


This is an exciting fast-paced madcap thriller that balances humor with the seriousness of a deranged stalker.  The story line is fast-paced whenever the plot focuses on Abigail who clearly needs help.  When the subplot involves other clients, neighbors or mom it is over the top with fun eccentricity.  Readers will enjoy Kate’s third case mostly because of Abigail, whose needs turn potentially dangerous.


Harriet Klausner

A Night Too Dark-Dana Stabenow

November 30, 2009

A Night Too Dark

Dana Stabenow

Minotaur, Feb16 2010, $24.99

ISBN: 9780312559090


The Park in Alaska is a place of beauty to private detective Native American Kate Shugak, but the pristine landscape she loves will change when the Suulutaq Mine opens operations.  Global Harvest Resources, the parent company learned the mine contains gold and after months of careful sampling and they know they have found quite a strike.


Already the firm is making changes that the inhabitants of the Park have to adapt to as people working the mine come to the town of Ninikltna.  One of the newcomers leaves a note in his car stating he committed suicide.  When the body of Dewayne Gammons is found, there is not enough left of him to make an identification.  Kate has a hunch after two people from the mine disappeared at the sane time that the deceased is not Dewayne, but she has no idea who the victim is.  As she seeks clues, a third person is killed, which makes Kate even more determined to find out what is going on at the mine.


Even before the homicides, Kate feels sad because the mining operation will change the Park though she is resigned that it will happen as people she respects sold out to the mining interests, which was not easy for them to do but they felt they had to tale advantage of people with money to spend.  Still her melancholy over the mine does not prevent her from investigating as only she can.  Her latest Alaskan Shootout is an entertaining whodunit that also showcases a difficult complex issue of needed economic development vs. maintaining the beauty of nature.


Harriet Klausner


A Lady Like Sarah-Margaret Brownley

November 29, 2009

A Lady Like Sarah

Margaret Brownley

Thomas Nelson, Dec 29 2009, $14.99

ISBN: 9781595548092


In 1879 on his way to Texas, Reverend Justin Wells is five days beyond St. Louis when he sees the vultures flying, which means someone or an animal is dying.  Having left Boston and his flock in disgrace, Justin knows he must see if he can help..  He finds a severely wounded U.S. Marshal who makes him vow to take his prisoner to Texas.  However, he is stunned as the prisoner is not a lad in red boots, but a woman whose hair matches her footwear.


Sarah Prescott is an outlaw from a family of lawbreakers.  She removes the bullet from Marshal Owen before they begin the trek to Rocky Creek.  On the road, the two seemingly opposites find common ground as they fall in love.  However, when Owen dies, the law assumes she killed him because she is a Prescott although she insists she is a lady; only the preacher and his sidekick Timber Joe might save her life as she has saved the soul of the former.


This is a wonderful at times amusing western romance starring two people who on the surface seem totally inappropriate for one another yet God works in mysterious ways.  Fans will enjoy the Americana romance between the exiled Boston preacher and the exiled Prescott outlaw as Justin and Sarah fall in love.


Harriet Klausner

SPQR XIII: The Year of Confusion-John Maddox Roberts

November 29, 2009

SPQR XIII: The Year of Confusion

John Maddox Roberts

Minotaur, Feb 16 2010, $24.99

ISBN: 9780312595074


In the year 46 BC in Rome, Caius Julius Caesar is now the Director of Rome. He plans to rebuild the city making it grander as expected of the capital of a great empire.  One of his pet projects is to create a new calendar using astronomers and astrologers from around the world.  Thus he appoints Senator Decius Caecilius to oversee the project alongside of Cleopatra’s head astronomer Sosigenes.


At first Decius is more concerned with Cleopatra being in the city than he is of a bunch of scientists creating a new calendar.  However the situation turns dangerous when an astronomer Denades is murdered with his neck broken.  He has strange markings on his neck but the doctor feels it it hard to judge how the killer made them. Even the Chief Physician in Rome does not how the killer was able to extinguish is prey.  Caesar orders Decius to find the killer, which proves difficult to accomplish because all suspects are lying about something or concealing something.


As always John Maddox Roberts writes a fantastic Ancient Roman mystery that gives the reader a sense of the era and the culture during the time of Caesar. This enables the audience to envision the City-State Empire warped inside a whodunit.  Decius is a great detective, whose investigation is all the more remarkable because of the limitations of sleuthing in the first century BC.  Sub-genre fans will enjoy joining him on his inquiry.


Harriet Klausner

Toxin-Paul Martin Midden

November 27, 2009


Paul Martin Midden

Millennial Mind Publishing, Mar 2009, $24.95

ISBN: 9781589824928


Professor Isadore Hathaway, daughter of a deceased US senator, calls Senator Jake Telemark to ask him to meet her at the Emporia Restaurant in Alexandria immediately.  Although she provides no reason why he should as they never met before he joined the “club” after her late dad left it; Jake accepts the date.   At the restaurant, instead of sitting down to dine, Isadore leads Jake out the back door to a car where she tells him the horror she learned that is  occurring to the United States.


Dora swears that twelve highly placed right-wing extremists “The Bookkeepers” were planning a coup d’etat.  Religious fanatics, the Bookkeepers want to install a theocracy.  The professor defends her claim explaining when she points out the incredibly high numbers of judges, some in perfect health, who died in the last few months; all strongly support separation of state and church.  Furthermore the Bookkeepers plan chemical and nuclear attacks on American targets as a ploy to anger citizens against Muslims and killing opponents.  Finally Dora raises Jake’s background as a former military-assassin who suffered a PTSD breakdown.  She believes he is one of the few hopes there is to prevent the Bookkeepers from succeeding on their Machiavellian scheme.  Soon afterward Denver proves time ran out.


Before 9/11 this theme would be considered in the realm of science fiction, but with the Patriot Act, the opposition to try terrorists in criminal courts, the road to the Iraq War, the health care debate and the politicalizing of Justice, etc. makes Toxin feel very plausible.  The story line is fast-paced and filled with straight forward action as Dora and Jake team up to prevent a home grown catastrophe, but neither know who else to bank on.  Fans will appreciate this cautionary conspiracy thriller as the premise seems too frighteningly feasible.


Harriet Klausner

Dust and Shadow: An Account of the Ripper Killings by Dr. John H. Watson-Lyndsay Faye

November 26, 2009

Dust and Shadow: An Account of the Ripper Killings by Dr. John H. Watson

Lyndsay Faye

Simon and Schuster, Dec 1 2009, $14.00

ISBN: 9781416583318


In 1939, Dr. John Watson recalls the gruesome events in 1888 in Whitechapel that terrorized the residents of London.  The terror began with a violent murder followed rather quickly with an equally brutal killing.  London was shaken by the viciousness of the violence in a part of town used to cruelty.


Sherlock Holmes joins the Scotland Yard investigation into the two homicides to the elation of beleaguered Inspector Lestrade.   As Holmes begins to interrogate family members, more murders occur and the media calls the killer “Jack the Ripper”.  When Jack learns of Holmes’ interest in the murder spree, he sends the great sleuth taunting notes.  Holmes follows clues that lead to confrontation with Ripper who severely slashes the detective.  When Sherlock vanishes to heal and the exorbitant murder spree stops, investigative reporter Dunlevy proclaims Holmes is probably the Ripper.


The Ripper serial murders are used more as a means to provide the audience with a deep look at Holmes and late Victorian England through the aging memory of what Watson recalls of late ninetieth century London.  Who Ripper is proves not important as the audience will figure out early on his identity, but his reign of terror leads to a deep look at Holmes and a very competent Lestrade struggling to not lose it as he begins to suffer from PTSD with the case dragging on and the murder count rising.  Holmes fans will enjoy this fresh take on the great detective although he has battled Ripper before (see Michael Didbin’s The Last Sherlock Holmes Story).


Harriet Klausner

The Creed of Violence-Boston Teran

November 26, 2009

The Creed of Violence

Boston Teran

Counterpoint, Nov 2009, $25.00

ISBN: 9781582435251


In 1910 Rawbone has no conscience when it comes to thieving and even killing.  He never looks back until he is caught stealing guns and ammo heading to Mexico as a revolt has broken out south of the border.  His lawyer arranges a deal with the Bureau of Investigations.  In exchange for immunity from the law, he sets a con to capture some big time felons making a fortune illegally.


Assigned to accompany Rawbone is Agent John Lourdes, a straight shooter who adheres to the letter of the law.  Rawbone and Lourdes know each other having met before, but only one of them is aware of their true relationship; even the Bureau of Investigation is ignorant.  As they journey through killing fields of smugglers, the pair tries to ignore their loathing of the other as survival one day at a time is all that matters.


This is an engaging historical thriller starring a father and son team who simply detest one another although one remains ignorant as to their blood relationship with the son being the total opposite of the father.  The story line is fast-paced as the exhilarating adventures out-race the DNA gimmick.  Boston Teran paints a timely picture of the Tex-Mex border circa 1910 that easily could be circa 2010 with the triangular trade of guns, drugs, and people.


Harriet Klausner

The Semantics of Murder-Aifric Campbell

November 25, 2009

The Semantics of Murder

Aifric Campbell

Serpent’s Tail, Sep 2009, $14.95

ISBN: 9781846687334


Cocky American Dr. Jay Hamilton moves from Los Angeles to London where he practices psychoanalysis in Kensington.  His affluent clientele worship by him and his practice is thriving.  However, they are ignorant that Dr. Hamilton has an alter ego.


As J Merritt, he writes stories about psychological analysis that is major sellers.  His subjects are the clients he treats as Dr, Hamilton.  He also has his own psychotic secret, the murder of his beloved older brother Robert, who raised him.  Biographer Dana Flynn visits Jay to interview him about a book she is writing about Robert that leads to an abashed Jay questioning his ethics for using his clients especially Cora as the subjects of his books.


The semantics of Murder is an intriguing look at ethics as Dana’s inquiries into Jay’s late hero Robert coaxes him to take a discerning gaze into what he is doing.  Robert, who was much older, was more a caring father than a sibling; thus Jay has the epiphany that Robert disappointingly stares down at him.  Although the action is minimal, fans who relish a cerebral character driven tale will enjoy Jays’ morale reawakening.


Harriet Klausner

Run For Your Life-James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge

November 24, 2009

Run For Your Life

James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge

Grand Central, Oct 2009, $14.99

ISBN: 9780446562676


In New York City Police Detective Michael Bennett has no time to mourn the loss of his beloved wife as he has to deal with their ten grieving kids suffering from the loss of their mom and the flu.  However, he has no time away from the job either as a serial killer is murdering people in daylight at expensive uptown places.


Bennett leads the investigation with the brass demanding a fast resolution although their motives to assigning the honest cop the case is to keep him occupied while an official inquiry into a hostage shooting death that the department apparently misplayed is undrway.  Michael finds no viable clues, initially, but luck sends him to soon link the homicides to a psychopath calling himself the “Teacher”.  The maniac’s mission is to teach lessons in manners to those rude rich rubes who mistreated him or others especially humiliating him in front of others.  As he closes in on the culprit, the Teacher catches a child dear to Michael and soon has the cop too.  Using the skills he learned as a hostage negotiator, Michael tries to extract the child from the lunatic before he thinks of saving his own life.


This over the top of the Manhattan skyline thriller is fun, fun, and more fun yet has a philosophical underpinning to the fast-paced plot when the Teacher poses the question is this life worth getting up for every morning?  Readers will appreciate this entertaining tale as a beleaguered Michael learns a lesson from the teacher as to what matters in life.


Harriet Klausner