Archive for December, 2009

Murder in the Palais Royal-Cara Black

December 31, 2009

Murder in the Palais Royal

Cara Black

Soho, Mar 1 2010, $25.00

ISBN: 9781569476208

In 1997 Paris, Leduc Detective’s four foot Rene Fiant is shot twice by his colleague Aime Leduc.  He is rushed to intensive care at Hotel Dieu.  Stunned eyewitnesses tell Inspector Morbier they saw her fleeing the office where the dwarf was shot and an unexplained large amount of money has suddenly appeared in the firm’s bank account, which has the tax authorities looking closely at Leduc Detective’s.

Aimee knows this will be her toughest case ever as even Rene believes she tried to kill him with the Beretta.  She wonders whether someone impersonating her shot her best friend, but though she has enemies from previous cases, Aimee cannot fathom whose motive would include attempted murder, which quickly changes into two homicides tied to her.  Only Miles Davis believes in her innocence.

This is a super entry that goes full circle back to the first Leduc case Murder in the Marais, but a newcomer does need to read that tale to enjoy Murder in the Palais Royal although they will thoroughly enjoy that mystery and the rest of the series.  Fans will appreciate this super thriller as the high heeled computer analyst has her work cut out proving her innocence and insuring her partner stays alive while providing the audience with a tour of the rest of Paris (and its suburbs) where impoverished immigrants from the former French colonies reside.

Harriet Klausner

Soho, Mar 1 2010, $25.00

ISBN: 9781569476208

In 1997 Paris, Leduc Detective’s four foot Rene Fiant is shot twice by his colleague Aime Leduc.  He is rushed to intensive care at Hotel Dieu.  Stunned eyewitnesses tell Inspector Morbier they saw her fleeing the office where the dwarf was shot and an unexplained large amount of money has suddenly appeared in the firm’s bank account, which has the tax authorities looking closely at Leduc Detective’s.

Aimee knows this will be her toughest case ever as even Rene believes she tried to kill him with the Beretta.  She wonders whether someone impersonating her shot her best friend, but though she has enemies from previous cases, Aimee cannot fathom whose motive would include attempted murder, which quickly changes into two homicides tied to her.  Only Miles Davis believes in her innocence.

This is a super entry that goes full circle back to the first Leduc case Murder in the Marais, but a newcomer does need to read that tale to enjoy Murder in the Palais Royal although they will thoroughly enjoy that mystery and the rest of the series.  Fans will appreciate this super thriller as the high heeled computer analyst has her work cut out proving her innocence and insuring her partner stays alive while providing the audience with a tour of the rest of Paris (and its suburbs) where impoverished immigrants from the former French colonies reside.

Harriet Klausner

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Vienna Secrets-Frank Tallis

December 31, 2009

Vienna Secrets

Frank Tallis

Random House, Feb 23 2010, $15.00

ISBN: 9780812980998

In 1903 Vienna, having collaborated before (see Vienna Blood) Detective Inspector Oskar Reinhardt asks his much older friend psychoanalyst Dr. Max Liebermann to take a look at a gruesome corpse found on the grounds of Maria Treue Kirche.  Max informs Oskar the victim a pianist monk Brother Stanislav had his head savagely ripped from his body.  Before going on to the General Hospital to make his rounds, Max suggests Oskar interview strong men as well as the monks.  Under questioning the monks insist Brother Stanislav was a good holy person until finally one breaks ranks and says the victim wrote anti-Semitic articles published in Vaterland.

Meanwhile two city council rivals Burke Faust and Julius Schmidt compete for favors from the mayor.  Schmidt begins an anti-Jewish campaign using the homicide as justification.  Rebbe Barash and his Kabala followers insist God’s wrath descended on the monk which just enflames the city and encourages Schmidt.  When Faust has his head torn off, the city reacts with anger and fear as anti-Semitism fever rises exponentially.  While struggling with the case whose lone link is odd mud at the murder scenes, Max is in trouble at the hospital over Last Rites and Oskar dreams of dating a feminist.

Once again as in the Liebermann-Reinhardt previous collaborations (see A Death in Vienna and Fatal Lies), the time and place make for a great historical police procedural with the emphasis on the anti-Semitic atmosphere of 1903 Vienna.  The murder inquiry is a terrific police procedural that will grip the audience wondering who and why.  However, once again what makes Frank Tallis’ latest tale and the entire series one of the best on the market is the sense of being in Vienna at the time of Freud.

Harriet Klausner

The Wild Zone-Joy Fielding

December 31, 2009

The Wild Zone

Joy Fielding

Atria, Feb 23 2010, $25.00

ISBN: 9781416585299

Married Tom Whitman is in the Wild Zone in the South Beach section of Miami Beach with his friend Jeff Rydell and Jeff’s visiting half-brother, Princeton grad student Will.  A few male bonding drinks later leads to the duo betting on whom has sex with the bartender Suzy Bigelow first.  Flash tempered Jeff has his live-in lover Kristen who works at the bar talk with Suzy.

Suzy chooses to go out on a date with the safe one Will.  However, though she seems cute and innocent, Suzy hides from her date that she has a nasty abusive husband Dave waiting for her as she sees the innocent one, his older sibling and their wild eyed friend as the answer to end her personal nightmare.  Tom also has serious issues having been dishonorably discharged from the military after some incidents in the Afghan theatre; his wife Lainey knows what caused his issues but is so frightened of him she files for divorce and flees with their kids.  Soon all will collide in a clash in the Wild Zone where each will soon learn the meaning of “proceed at your risk”.

This is a super Miami Beach thriller starring a strong ensemble cast with a great final twist.  Each of the key players is fully developed to include their hidden agendas so that the audience understands their motives while wondering how a drunk-induced joke of a bet could turn so nasty.  Joy Fielding is at her best with this impossible to put down tale.

Harriet Klausner

Our Lady of Immaculate Deception Nancy Martin

December 31, 2009

Our Lady of Immaculate Deception

Nancy Martin

Minotaur, Mar 2 2010, $24.99

ISBN 9780312573720

In Pittsburgh, Roxy Abruzzo tries to keep her Bada Bling Architectural Salvage business clean although her Uncle Carmine the Mafia boss tries sending her work.  Roxy feels strongly about staying legal in spite of Uncle Carmine’s efforts because she feels she must set an example for her sixteen year old daughter Sage; who is the result of a teen fling she had with Chef Patrick Flynn, just back from a Middle East deployment and wanting to deploy a second time with his former high school girlfriend.

However, Roxy is unable to resist stealing an ancient Greek statue that belongs to wealthy womanizing Julius Hyde.  Her assistant “Nooch” Santonucci does whatever she wants and easily hoists the garden statue.  Soon after her heist someone murders Jules and burns down the estate of his nonagenarian mom, who is more fretful that her prized possession, an ancient Greek statue is missing, rather than her son’s death or the arson.

With the Blackbird Sisters taking a breather, Nancy Martin introduces her fans to a steel tough single mom trying not to join the family business though thievery runs in her DNA.  Roxy holds the story line together especially after she purloins the statue.  Filled with dark humor, Ms. Martin’s fans will enjoy the Stealer escapades of a woman who straddles the line between a touch of piracy and a role model citizen as one tiny caper proves to the heroine that  crime doesn’t pay (sometimes).

Harriet Klausner

Ordinary Thunderstorms-William Boyd

December 31, 2009

Ordinary Thunderstorms

William Boyd

Harper, Jan 26 2010, $26.99

ISBN: 9780061876745

Climatologist Adam Kindred and immunologist Dr. Philip Wang met by chance at an Italian restaurant near Royal Hospital not far from where the Thames flows through Chelsea as each dined alone on tables next to each other.  The former is in London trying to obtain a research fellowship position at Imperial College while the later works in Oxford at a pharmaceutical firm as a sort of allergist.  Wang departs while mumbling something about a good feeling but leaves behind a file with his papers.

Adam picks up the documents so he can return them to Dr. Wang.  However at the immunologist’s flat, he finds Wang’s dead body.  Not sure what to do as someone is after him besides the cops who have evidence of his visit to the dead man’s apartment, Adam flees for his life.  Meanwhile, Wang’s boss at Calenture-Deutz, Ingrym Fryzer, realizes someone at the firm wants him out and Wang’s data on an anti-allergy drug that the scientist was working on is missing as the board refuses to wait any longer to market the drug to get the profits though the late researcher was not finished testing it.  Fryzer, his shadowy adversary and his paid assassin, and the cops seek a thirty-one years old climatologist who vanished somewhere in Chelsea.

This is an exciting fast-paced thriller in which a young man seeking a job becomes the focus of corporate killers, an ethical CEO, and the Metropolitan Police.  The two subplots converge though a series of coincidences starting with the restaurant encounter, but fans of action-packed conspiratorial tales of the avarice affluent vs. a lone reluctant everyman will enjoy Ordinary Thunderstorms turning into a torrent for Adam.

Harriet Klausner

Ghouls Gone Wild-Victoria Laurie

December 31, 2009

Ghouls Gone Wild

Victoria Laurie

Obsidian, Mar 2010, $6.99

ISBN: 9780451229410

 

M. J. Holliday is a psychic with her top skill being a medium who can communicate with ghosts.  She gives readings and makes her grateful clients feel good by telling them the truth; unlike the numerous charlatans.  She and her partner are also ghostbusters who send evil spirits back to where they came from.  They are now on Briar Street, the most haunted street in Scotland.  Under the street is the close (several caves and catacombs) where victims were sent to die from the plague.

 

While they are on Briar Road, the interest of the hundreds of spirits make M.J. and her co-worker medium Heath Whitefeather almost insane.  Inside the close the same phenomena happens with the ghouls of the plague screaming.  They would love to leave immediately, but they are contracted to Bravo TV to film what they find at this location.  To make matters worse, the centuries dead witch Rigella who cursed the village of Queen’s Close because they murdered her and her sisters are brought back by a villager to murder seven descendents of the families that killed them.  When their tech expert is attacked by ghouls, M.J. and her crew becomes the target of a mortal who is in league with the witch because brake lines were cut, which means the witch has a human helper.  When another villager dies, M.J.  and company investigate determined to find the witch and her mortal assistant.

 

Victoria Laurie is the queen of paranormal mysteries as her fourth ghostbusters whodunit brings the reader into her world (see DEMONS ARE A GHOUL’S BEST FRIEND and GHOULS JUST HAUNT TO HAVE FUN).  Ghouls Gone Wild. is a hauntingly good whodunit filled with plenty of action above and below the street.  The cast is solid even the spirits while the two protagonists are fully developed especially when the supernatural haunt their senses.  With plenty of humor including with a Potter meets Bedknobs and Broomsticks battle of flying brooms, fans will enjoy ghosts, ghouls, and witches, oh my.

 

Harriet Klausner

The Parisian Prodigal-Alan Gordon

December 30, 2009

The Parisian Prodigal

Alan Gordon

Minotaur, Jan 19 2010, $25.95

ISBN: 9780312384142

In 1205 Toulouse, France, the stranger arrives at the chateau of Count Raimon VI.  Baudoin insists he is Raimon’s brother.  The Count immediately assumes he is a con artist trying to defraud him so he plans to let his so called sibling sweat in the icy dungeon.  However, his court jester Theophilos the fool suggests he reconsider until they find proof exposing the imposter.

Raimon assigns Theo the job to investigate the newcomer using the ruse to tutor Baudoin.  Inquiries are sent to Paris where Baudoin claims he comes from.  However, the identity inquiry turns ugly when La Rossa of the brothel is found dead after a night with Baudoin who was found asleep next to her corpse; his dagger in her body.  Theophilos, his wife, Claudia, mime Perladit, and twelve years old apprentice Helga investigate the homicide.

This medieval mystery saga uses the same basic ploy of the Fool’s Guild as a sort of thirteenth century French Secret Service-FBI-CIA. This saga is consistently is one of the best historical series on the market over the last decade (see A Death in the Venetian Quarter and The Lark’s Lament).  With two investigations to handle, Theophilos and Claudia are superb as he works the gambling dens of the aristocracy and she the courtesans who tend to these foolish egotistical males.  Helga and Perladit enhance the inquiry into who killed the hooker while her lover the Count’s maybe brother slept.

Harriet Klausner

Silencer-James W. Hall

December 30, 2009

Silencer

James W. Hall

Minotaur, Jan 19 2010, $24.95

ISBN: 9780312359591

In Key Largo, Florida Rusty Stabler offers a deal to her reclusive boyfriend private investigator Thorn who has come into a nice but unexpected inheritance.  He appreciate what she proffers as that will environmentally protect 300 square miles from avaricious developers.  Part of the consideration would shut down Earl Hammond’s Coquina Ranch game-hunting operation as he plans to donate his property to the State to keep it safe from greedy developers.

However, soon after Rusty pitches her proposal, someone kills Hammond and Thorn is kidnapped.  While the sleuth is struggling to come around and escape, his friend Sugarman searches for him unsuccessfully.  Meanwhile professional killers Jonah and Moses Faust are working a serial killer memorabilia deal on the side of their paying gig of abducting Thorn; and Hammond’s sons (ex-football star Browning and Miami cop Frisco) want justice and plan to obtain it for their late father.

This is an excellent Florida wilderness thriller that grips the audience throughout while also making a strong case for the environment.  Thorn is at his best digging his way out of ironically a natural prison of a deep sinkhole while Frisco and Browning’s wife Clare investigate the murder and the abduction that they tie together by the protect the land deal; neither realizes the real connection dates back to Depression Era developers in this great suspense thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Short Squeeze-Chris Knopf

December 30, 2009

Short Squeeze

Chris Knopf

Minotaur, Jan 19 2010, $24.99

ISBN: 9780312551230

In the Hamptons, widower Sergey Pontecello demands his sister-in-law Eunice Wolsonowicz and her retinue (daughter Wendy and adopted son Fuzzy) leave his home.  Eunice refuses.  Sergey turns to his lawyer Jackie Swaitkowski to evict the unwanted “guests”.

Soon afterward, Sergey is found battered to death in Sagaponack.  Southampton Town cop Joe Sullivan tells Jackie her client had her card and a nipple on him; the nipple belonged to the late scuba shop bookkeeper Edna Jackery whose body parts are everywhere except inside her coffin.  Unable to remain patient while the cops investigate and feeling she owes Sergey as she blew away his concerns the night before his death, Jackie investigates only to find a family so blighted she concludes anyone of them could be the culprit.

Using a role reversal with Jackie starring and Sam Acquillo playing the second banana minor role as opposed to the lead (see Hard Stop and head Wounds), Short Squeeze is an entertaining whodunit as the lawyer shows her moxie searching for the killer.  Filled with body humor and a horde of miscreants whose family fell out of the tree onto their heads, the story line is fast-paced, but owned by Swaitkowski who proves she can star in a fun investigative mystery.

Harriet Klausner

Baja Florida-Bob Morris

December 30, 2009

Baja Florida

Bob Morris

Minotaur, Jan 19 2010, $24.95

ISBN: 9780312377267

Mickey Ryser knows he has just a few weeks left to live so he plans to spend his remaining time on Lady Cut Cay in the Bahamas where he was to meet his daughter Jen whom he has not seen since she was a baby.  She never made it or contacted him.  He pleads with his newly married friend and proud papa of a six month old baby, Zack Chasteen to find Jen, but also warns him his daughter’s companions and Abel Delgado a private eye he hired to find her also vanished.  Zack owes so much to his mentor, he agrees.

Accompanied by his buddies Boggy the Taino and pilot Charlie Callahan, Chasteen tries to pick up Delgado’s trail.  Their efforts of discretion lead to boat ring thieves and Bahamian Police chasing after them while Jen and company are held prisoner.

The latest Caribbean blue Chasteen investigative mystery (see Jamaica Me Dead and A Deadly Silver Sea) is a fast-paced thriller that takes off the moment Zack and the gang begin their search with the clock ticking.  The story line is filled with action as Zack and crew get in trouble with boat hi-jacking thugs, other miscreants, and the police as they follow clues left by Delgado.  Although the subplot depicting Jen’s plight adds intensity and feelings, the short asides slow down the overall pace of a terrific suspense filled tale starring a solid trio of good guys.

Harriet Klausner