Archive for February, 2010

Dirty Laundry-Liz Osborne

February 28, 2010

Dirty Laundry

Liz Osborne

Five Star, May 7 2010, $25.95

ISBN: 9781594148576

Near Seattle, at Madrona Bay Hospital and Medical Center, Nurse Manager of the 3-West Unit Susan Wong complains about the perverted behavior of patient Jason Hilliard to forty year old Patient Relations manager Robyn Kelly.  Apparently the twenty-six years old Hilliard flashes the staff though he insists it was done accidentally.  He has been an in and out patient several times who no one wants to help.  Robyn says the staff does not have to put up with this lewd behavior and she will warn him to cut it out.

Before she can do that she meets bewildered William Jones who says he lives in Central Park New York.  The indigent elderly man has a nasty cut filled with maggots so Robyn intervenes and insures he receives proper treatment, but she goes home before she can visit Hilliard.  That weekend her friend Police Detective Matthew Pierce injures his back moving heavy bags for Robyn and is hospitalized.  Robyn accompanies him and stops to see William only to find another Hilliard complaint.  She visits Hilliard who is dead with an IV cord around his neck.  Police Chief Roberts botches the case from the onset, but claims he has a suspect so in spite of the warnings from her son and Matthew, Robyn investigates like she has done before (see Masquerade) as she knows who he will blame.

This is an engaging Washington State cozy with a nice late twist.  The story line takes awhile to get into the whodunit as the focus is for a good portion of the tale is on the cast at the hospital.  As Robyn proves a likable advocate for patients and staff, readers who enjoy a medical amateur sleuth competing with the cops will want to read the airing of Dirty Laundry at Madrona Bay.

Harriet Klausner


Elegy for April-Benjamin Black

February 28, 2010

Elegy for April

Benjamin Black

Holt, Apr 13 2010, $25.00

ISBN: 9780805090918

In 1950s Dublin, Dr. April Latimer apparently vanished; at least that is what her best friend Phoebe Griffin believes.  She failed to meet the group at the Dolphin Hotel as she always does though the other members (Patrick Ojukwu, Isabel Galloway and Jimmy Minor) seem less concerned.  Phoebe called the Hospital of Holy Family where April is a resident, but was told her pal called in ill.

Desperate April asks her “Uncle” Quirke the pathologist to investigate.  She only recently learned he, not his recently widowed brother-in-law Malachy Griffin, was her biological father who gave her up when her mom died in childbirth.  Although in detox at the House of St. John’s, Quirke would do anything for his “niece”.  As he investigates what happened to the niece of a government minister, Quirke begins to unravel the worst in humanity as he finds the Latimer family conceals abuse and brutality within their circle so as to remain influential, the Catholic Church condoning people like the Latimer brood with their silent acceptance of abuse and brutality, and finally the community de facto collective racism that accepts abuse and brutality towards a white Catholic female and a Nigerian expatriate who must never fall in love.  However, even as Quirke works the darkest streets, all roads lead to the convergence of the Dolphin Hotel group with her family.

The latest Quirke historical thriller (see Silver Swan and Christine Falls) condemns Ireland for its enabling the Church and the aristocracy to get away with what should have been criminal activity.  Containing a strong cast, the fast-paced well written inquiry with brilliant final twists grips the reader throughout as Ireland is exposed for ignoring the shortcomings of moral institutions.

Harriet Klausner

Black Jack-Lora Leigh

February 28, 2010

Black Jack

Lora Leigh

St. Martin’s, Mar 2 2010, $7.99

ISBN: 9780312945824

Like all Elite Ops field agents, Travis “Black Jack” Caine and Lillian “Night Hawk” Belle died in their previous civilian lives.  Both were British aristocrats with him joining Elite Ops after British M16 felt he was too out of control while she enlisted after her agent father was murdered and almost her too.  For six years, her mother, uncle and brother grieved her death in the car crash into the river that killed her dad; while his family rejoiced he was dead.  Additionally they are attracted to one another.

Six years since she died, someone somehow recognizes Lilly Belle as Lady Veronica and tries to kill her; the bullet grazes her head leaving her with selected amnesia as she forgets everything that occurred since her first death.  Elite Ops knows her father had uncovered a traitor who killed him before he could reveal who the person is.  Black Jack’s assignment is to ferret out how dangerous the woman he loves as Night Hawk is in exposing other undercover operatives; and if she is the slightest threat kill her.

The latest Elite Ops (see Heat Seeker, Maverick, and Wild Card) is a character driven thriller that focuses on the mind of the heroine who if she recalls her lost memory becomes expendable by her agent peers and the traitor.  Although amnesia has been used in espionage thrillers (Bourne) the story line is fast-paced with an interesting late spin.  Fans will try to determine who the enemy is while also wondering why this person and the Elite Ops just don’t take Lily out before she regains her missing six years as she is a dangerous liability to each side.

Harriet Klausner

Deliver Us From Evil-David Baldacci

February 28, 2010

Deliver Us From Evil

David Baldacci

Grand Central, Apr 20 2010, $27.99

ISBN: 9780446564083

Shaw belongs to an agency that ignores legal limitations when it comes to capturing those who threaten the free world.  His latest project is billionaire Evan Waller who makes his money kidnapping third world teens and selling them in the Western markets.  However, he is widening his capitalist operations with the sale of nuclear weapons to Islamic Fundamentalists.  Shaw and his team are to prevent the sales by eliminating the beast and his customers.

Fahir Kuchen killed and ordered massacred thousands in Kiev to keep the survivors in line and not give Moscow any problems.  When the Soviet Union collapsed, he escaped making a new future for himself.

Reggie Campion works for an elite group that hunts down mass murderers.  She and her unit are in Provence to make a hit on Waller whom she believes is Kuchen; Shaw is shocked after the two groups cross paths and hunt their respective villain.. Shaw persuades Reggie they need to unite before the hunted become the hunter as Kuchen has someone inside working for him and whether he is Waller or not, Evan is a deadly predator.

Many of the protagonists possess ulterior motives so that double crossing teammates and the other squad seem a way of life.  This is the key element in the return of Shaw (see The Whole Truth) that makes Deliver Us From Evil a fascinating thriller.  Shaw remains an enigma who is perfect for the jobs he undertakes in contrast with Reggie who has a secret agenda that makes her seem more human yet not detached enough to be his equal in the cold deadly field.  David Baldacci is at his best with this exciting suspense thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Devil’s Keep-Phillip Finch

February 27, 2010

Devil’s Keep

Phillip Finch

Pocket, Mar 30 2010, $7.99

ISBN: 9781439168561

It has been ten years since Ray Favor and his three teammates (Arielle Bouchard, Mex Mendoza, and Winston Stickney) were part of the Black Ops cell Bravo One Nine.  They worked for the government on assignments, which typically ended up violent and homicidal.  Now they have gone their separate ways with Favor a multi-millionaire who misses the adrenalin rush of the good old danger days.

Teenager Maeivic Valencia accepts a job in Manila.  She texts her brother when she arrives in there, but he never hears another word from her.  Her twin Ronnie goes to the office that hired her, but they insist she never reported to work.  He believes they are lying, but they knock him out and take him to the same island prison where Maxine is held.

Mendoza receives a call from family in the Philippines wanting his help in finding the missing twins.  Thinking this will be easy, he and Bravo One Nine go to Manila only to learn the Russians are running a monstrous operation on an isolated island where the twins are incarcerated.  Brave One Nine unite for a dangerous rescue mission.

Phillip Finch is a great thriller writer whose latest novel is filled with action at a faster than light pace as a sort of Mission Impossible episode.  The heroes are an entertaining quartet though the audience will suspend some belief that they remain in Bravo One Nine shape a decade after coming in from the heart of the cold.  Still the linear story line will have the audience’s attention throughout as this is an enjoyable tale.

Harriet Klausner

Windward Passage-Jim Nisbet

February 26, 2010

Windward Passage

Jim Nisbet

Overlook, Apr 1 2010, $25.95

ISBN: 9781590201947

In the Caribbean, the Vellela Vellela partially sinks to the bottom of the shallow sea with smuggler Charley chained to the mast.  Inside the small sailboat besides its chained captain on the dry section of the ship is a log with ten pages torn out and ripped off, the DNA of POTUS concealed inside of cocaine, and a partially written novel.  None of this makes sense as whoever chained Charley and stole the log pages left behind a fortune.

In San Francisco Charley’s sister Tipsy wants answers while drug lord Red Means wants his cargo.  They combine their quests taking the booty, trying to learn who killed Charley and several answers to a myriad of why questions like why leave the loot behind, why tearing pages from the log and why the president’s DNA was even on board Charley’s vessel.

This is a gripping conspiracy thriller that captures the attention of the audience from the moment Charley knows time is running out on him and never let’s goes as the reader wants to know the answers to the ton of whys.  Fast-paced throughout, the two amateur sleuths follow broken clues in an effort to learn the truth and possess what was left behind.  Timely yet eerie in many ways, fans will enjoy this strange but exhilarating tale as political bias trumps over logic, fairness and common good in Jim Nisbet’s strong suspense.

Harriet Klausner

Deadly Deals-Fern Michaels

February 26, 2010

Deadly Deals

Fern Michaels

Zebra, Apr 2010, $7.99

ISBN: 9781420106862

In DC after trying but failing for years to have kids, late thirties couple Rachel and Thomas Dawson are euphoric when he donated sperm to a surrogate mom and eventually brought home their twins.  It cost them $100,000 collected by Baron Bell but they felt it was worth every penny as did their parents whom lent them some of the cash.  However, not long afterward a lawyer informed the couple that his client the surrogate mom wants her kids.  They lost their children, are broken and Bell vanished.

Rachel visits lawyer Lizzie Fox though she cannot afford the fee.  The attorney contacts the vigilante Sisterhood who learning of the baby-selling ring scheme and come to Washington to bring rightness to the madness even as a snowstorm hits the city.

Long time die hardest fans will fully relish the latest escapades as the crew still wait several books for their pardons, but keep doing good deeds; newcomers will find it difficult to grasp how the Sisterhood got to this point and less than devout faithful will question why one more.  Still the ensemble vigilantes are solid, the angst of the Dawson duet powerful, and the activity of Mr. Wonderful and his baby selling insidious.  Overall this is an enjoyable White Christmas in DC with the Sisterhood saga.

Harrier Klausner

A Kiss to Kill By-Nina Bruhns

February 25, 2010

A Kiss to Kill By

Nina Bruhns

Berkley, Apr 2010, $7.99

ISBN: 9780425233832

In Manhattan, private protection firm Storm agents follow Dr. Gina Coppozi to keep her safe from al Sayika operatives especially her former lover CIA Black Ops ground Zero unit operative Greg Van Halen.  She vows to kill him for selling her out to the terrorists.  Gina also knows he is nearby watching her to obviously kidnap her for his handlers.  Storm agents Alex Kane and Kick Jackson are part of the surveillance team, but are called off it to attend a meeting as NSA insists there is increased al Sayika chatter.

Alex loves CIA Special Agent Rebel Hayward and knows she loves him too, but he refuses to act on their mutual feelings as he feels unworthy of her.  She is sent to Chesapeake Bay to investigate a threat posed by a yacht Allah’s Paradise and told by her boss she will work for Storm on this mission.  Alex is assigned to join her.

In DC Metro Police detective Sarah McPhee leads the investigation of a dead woman Asha Mamoud.  CIA agent Wade Montana calls Sarah to question her about Asha.  Soon all will converge in DC as a diabolical traitor has set up everyone to take a deadly fall.

This is a great tale in which several subplots rotate nicely before blending together into a fast-paced romantic suspense thriller.  The ensemble cast comes across as different and fully developed characters.  Although A Kiss to Kill By can stand alone; it helps to have read the previous tales (see If Looks Could Chill and Shoot to Thrill) to better understand the references to the past.   Still this is a terrific Storm entry.

Harriet Klausner

Til Dice Do Us Part-Gail Oust

February 25, 2010

‘Til Dice Do Us Part

Gail Oust

Obsidian, Apr 2020, $6.99

ISBN: 9780451229427

Claudia Connors returns home after spending time in Vegas.  Her retiree buddies the Bunco Babes welcome home one of their charter members.  However, she shocks the group when she introduces them to her new husband, actor Lance Ledeaux.

They are further stunned when Lance explains to the babes that he plans to direct and perform in a play in which he wants all of them to have roles in the production.  The normally suspicious babes are won over by his offer and his general charm.  However Kate McCall overhears a fight between the newlyweds over expense and becomes concerned for her friend.  Soon afterward during rehearsal, someone loaded a gun with real bullets, leaving Lance dead and the cops suspecting his wife killed him.  Kate leads the Bunco Babes’ investigation into the homicide.

This is an entertaining amateur sleuth as the Bunco Babes reject the notion of tossing dice during visiting hours to the state pen.  Fans will enjoy the camaraderie of the BFFs as they Whack ‘n Roll their way through their investigation with humor, concern and catching optimism.  Gail Oust rolls an eleven with this enjoyable winner.

Harriet Klausner

The 13th Hour-Richard Doetsch

February 25, 2010

The 13th Hour

Richard Doetsch

Atria, Dec 2009, $25.99

ISBN: 9781439147917

In Byram Hills, New York, the police arrest Nick Quinn for murdering his wife Julia.  The case seems air tight against Nick as Julia called 911 implying Nick was hurting her just before she was shot in the head.  The murder weapon has his prints and his hand has gunpowder residue.  He had the means and opportunity and though not as clear the motive.

While Nick is left alone in the police interrogation room brooding, grieving and frightened, a stranger arrives offering Nick a chance to go back twelve hours in time.  However, he can only do so at one hour intervals.  Nick welcomes the opportunity to simply prevent his wife’s murder.  Yet as he returns to the past, he begins to understand time is not isolated or linear as an event as multiple repercussions; what seemed so simple turns out convoluted as he is soon dealing with a plane crash and other links that he never tied to his wife’s death.

This is a fascinating complicated time travel thriller that grips the audience throughout though only Nick seems multifaceted as everyone else is stereotyped to enhance his degree of difficulty.  The story line is fast-paced even as the more the protagonist works his quest the more intricate the plot turns.  Readers will want to go back in time with Nick as he learns turning back the hands of time is not easy.

Harriet Klausner