Archive for February, 2010

Sworn to Protect-DiAnn Mills

February 25, 2010

Sworn to Protect

DiAnn Mills

Tyndale, Apr 1 2010, $12.99

ISBN: 9781414320519

Even after two years, Border Patrol Agent Danika Morales has not gotten over the execution murder of her immigration activist husband, Toby.  She believes Toby kept secrets from her about his activities because he knew she would not support him breaking immigration laws she enforces.  Her brother-in-law Jacob, also a border patrol agent, has become a dictator of sorts; demanding her and his family adheres strictly to the rules.

Illegal immigrants are being brought over the border and work for free as a form of an indentured servant to the person who paid their transportation into America.  One of these mules is Danika’s nanny Sandra; Danika believes her employee’s papers are in order making her legal.  When her partner is shot, he is rushed to the hospital where Dr. Alex Price cares for him.  Alex knew Toby and when he meets the widow, he falls in love with her though like her late husband did he keeps secrets from her.  Danika cuts him out of her life when she learns what he had hid from her, but he takes a bullet intended for her.  As she begins to believe again, Danika places herself in danger as she feels the attempt to kill her is tied to Toby’s unsolved murder.

Fans of Kathy Herman and Dee Henderson will want to read Sworn to Protect; a thriller filled with action, intrigue and romance.  Readers obtain a glimpse into the dangerous lives of border guards confronting deadly coyote transporters and their illegals cargo who are looking for a better life in America.  Although the latter seems somewhat abated with the recession, the audience will want more works starring courageous Danika.

Harriet Klausner

Johnny Porno-Charlie Stella

February 24, 2010

Johnny Porno

Charlie Stella

Stark House, Apr 2010, $15.95

ISBN 9781933586298

In 1973 in New York City John Albano was fired from his carpentry job and his union card revoked for knocking out a foreman.  He earns a living driving for a car service and as a courier collecting receipts for the Mafia’s showing of Deep Throat; his job as a mob runner has led to his nickname Johnny Porno.  However, Johnny knows his salary is a pittance and he has child payments to make to his ex wife Nancy married to spouse three; Johnny is numero two.  Thus he considers asking for better paying work from his employer, but fears doing so.

Meanwhile Nancy’s first husband Louis tells her they can make a bundle by ripping off Porno and leaving him holding the empty bag with his employer.  Nancy has doubts not out of caring one iota for the father of her son, but because of the risk as he hubby three is a nice Philharmonic employee.  As the police look at the dealings of Johnny’s boss Eddie Vento and investigate a crooked cop, Jonny is caught in the crosshairs.

Although over the top of the Empire State Building, Johnny Porno is a terrific Nixon Era crime caper reminiscent of Elmore Leonard.  The story line is fast-paced, filled with action and violence, and stars a seemingly hapless chump struggling to survive in a cesspool.  With the fun look at pop culture in circa 1973 enhancing the plot, readers, especially boomers, will enjoy Johnny Porno’s New York joy ride.

Harriet Klausner

The Toyman Rides Again-Robert S. Napier

February 23, 2010

The Toyman Rides Again

Robert S. Napier

Five Star, Apr 7 2010, $25.95

ISBN: 9781594148538

In Tacoma, Washington, veteran and former investigative reporter Jack Lorentz enjoys selling collectible toys to baby boomers though he only makes a modest living at the Olden Daze co-op.  August Baldwin enters his shop and says he recognizes the smell of death by shooting (see Love, Death, And The Toyman).  He explains to Lorentz that he wants to hire him to protect the reenactor Charles Swanson playing the role of General George Armstrong Custer. He feels with Jack’s recent reputation, he might keep away those who want to harm the reenactor playing the role because someone has threatened him.

Jack is to play the part of reporter Mark Kellogg who died at the battle of Little Big Horn.  However, after a previous skirmish, on the way to the site where the current battle will rage, Native Americans led by Harold Two Bears and Professor Abigail She Stands In Light attack the company.  When the dust settles, Custer-Swanson is dead with Two Bears’ knife in him.  Police Sergeant Cooper arrests Two Bears while Abigail asks Jack to snoop as she believes her friend is innocent.  Attracted to the professor, Jack knows she had access to Two Bear’s knife.  As he makes inquiries, Jack alienates everyone.

This is a fun Reagan era whodunit starring a reluctant former investigative journalist who feels guilty that he failed at his mission though he knows Swanson as Custer was impossible to protect.  The story line provides a fascinating deep look at reenactors, but an incident with a new recruit seems over the top of Granite Peak.  The whodunit is entertaining as the reader knows whom most likely killed Custer yet not sure how.  The Toyman Rides Again is a fun mystery.

Harriet Klausner

Drink the Tea-Thomas Kaufman

February 23, 2010

Drink the Tea

Thomas Kaufman

Minotaur, Mar 2 2020, $24.99

ISBN: 9780312607302

Years ago, jazz musician Steps Jackson and groupie Colette Andrews had a heated affair.  Recently Steps learns he sired a daughter with Colette; an offspring he never knew existed.  He pleads with his friend private investigator Willis Gidney to find his child.

Gidney agrees to work the case, but cautions Steps that he only works as a sleuth for hire part-time; his day job remains at a record warehouse.  He quickly finds a name, but not much else.  Still, after seemingly going all over DC, Gidney catches up to Colette.  When he asks her about Bobbie and Steps, Colette angrily tells him to leave or the cops will escort him away.  At the Cove jazz joint, Gidney receives a shocking call from Colette, who asks to meet with him.  However, thugs assault him.  When he awakens from unconsciousness, he learns the cops suspect he killed Colette.

Putting aside a major key coincidence, fans will fully enjoy the first Gidney tale.  The story line is fast-paced as he works his case through a DC that is murkier than the Potomac.  Readers will especially appreciate his childhood that surfaces at odd times, but does so as an essential part of the personality of the hero.  Drink the Tea is a fine DC private investigative mystery.

Harriet Klausner

The Night Killer-Beverly Connor

February 23, 2010

The Night Killer

Beverly Connor

Obsidian, Apr 6 2010, $7.99

ISBN: 9780451229601

After visiting Roy and Ozella Barre who donating their arrowhead collection to the museum; Forensic investigator and museum curator Diane Fallon is driving down a winding mountain road on a dark and stormy night.  Lightning strikes a tree, which falls onto her vehicle; a skull falls from the tree through her windshield.  A man asks her if she is okay; when she mentions the skull, he grabs her.

Diane breaks free of him and flees trying to return to the Barre home while the stranger releases his dogs.  However Diane reaches their home only to find both dead.  She owes her life to a stranger who got the dogs off her scent.  Diane informs the local sheriff what happened including facts about her rescuer.  She has doubts the sheriff can solve the case and another couple is discovered murdered in the same brutal manner as the Barrres were.  Frank, the stranger who saved her life, is a private investigator hired to find a missing girl and her boyfriend.  Against all advice to the contrary, Diane investigates, but a killer stalks her.

Fans who enjoy the forensic cases of Kat Scarpetta and Temperance Brennan will want to read the Diane Fallon mysteries.  The protagonist holds three jobs, but does each one quite well.  Loaded with non-stop action, viable suspects and an incredibly deep atmosphere of danger, The Night Killer is a strong entertaining whodunit.

Harriet Klausner

Without Mercy-Lisa Jackson

February 22, 2010

Without Mercy

Lisa Jackson

Kensington, Mar 30 2010, $25.00

ISBN: 9780758225641

The Blue Rock Academy is the last chance for troubled delinquents who have had run-ins with the law.  Seventeen year old Shaylee was ordered there by a judge after a string of crimes to include theft and possession, etc.  Her sister, unemployed teacher Julie “Jules” Farentino, knows Shaylee needs help, but fears Blue Rock may not be the answer. One of students Lauren Conroy disappeared from their school and she has never been found.

Acting on her feelings especially after consulting with her cousin’s husband, who was a T.A. at Blue Rock, Jules applies for a teaching position at the academy.  Posing as a teacher at Blue Rock is Cooper Trent who was hired by Lauren’s parents to find out what happened to their daughter and to Jules’ chagrin the only man she ever loved.  When Jules arrives at the exclusive Oregon school, she finds the place in an uproar as two bodies were found.  As Trent and Jules team up, their feelings emerge though they try to deny them.  If they can survive the dangerous undercover cloak and dagger, each wonders whether their relationship will endure afterward.

Lisa Jackson can always be counted on to deliver a pulse pounding original thriller.  Jules is an ordinary woman who loves her disturbed half-sister so much she places herself at risk to learn what is going on at the academy that put her sibling over the edge.  Filled with surprising twists, fans will be stunned and entertained throughout as Ms. Jackson provides a tense undercover romantic suspense.

Harriet Klausner

Stress Fracture-D. P. Lyle

February 21, 2010

Stress Fracture

D. P. Lyle

Medallion, Apr 1 2010, $24.95

ISBN: 9781605421346

After retiring from homicide investigations, Dub Walker became a forensic consultant to the FBI’s Behavioral Assessment Unit and a noted author on the topic.  However, he returns to field work when his close friend Sheriff Mike Savage is brutally murdered in Alabama.  Apparently this psychopath has viciously killed two other people.

The annihilator kills with rage and Dub knows he will not stop.  He even knows who the predator is.  Iraqi veteran Brian Kurtz came home with a severe case of PTSD; the Neuropsychiatric Research Institute gave him an experimental drug that for no apparent reason failed to calm him down, but instead turned him into a sadistic vicious beast.  Dub must hunt down the animal, who has residents of Huntsville in a panic.

The key to this strong police procedural medical thriller is the killer whom ironically the audience meets at the beginning of the tale as Kurtz the monster receives empathy from readers who know he must die to end the blood rage.  Dub is terrific as the hunter who feels the prey is stalking him.  Expecting a High Noon showdown, fans will enjoy this entertaining cautionary tale as underneath the non-stop action, D.P. Lyle warns readers of the excessive use of drugs.

Harriet Klausner

Saintly Remains-Tony Perona

February 20, 2010

Saintly Remains

Tony Perona

Five Star, Apr 7 2010, $25.95

ISBN: 9781594148569

In Jasper, Indiana at West Jasper High School, two students shot five of their peers to death before committing suicide.  On the wall of the school library was left a cryptic verse that hinted at a satanic cult ritual.  However, the cops found no evidence of such beyond the enigmatic message so they assumed athletes bullied the two as four of the five were on teams.  The fifth victim Keri Schoening was ruled to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Keri’s murder hammered at the gut of Joan Bertetto, a close friend of the victim’s mom Susan.  With her spouse reporter Nick she attends the funeral of Keri.

Soon afterward, Nick and Joan are visiting her still in shock parents in Jasper.  However, strange things occur starting with the skinning of the family cat Mr. Jangles and the snatching of Keri’s corpse from the cemetery.  His paper asks Nick to investigate as other animal abuses have been reported.  He soon begins to revise the theory that the jocks were the target to the belief that satanic worshippers wanted Keri who was known to believe in Jesus.

The latest Bertetto investigative mystery (seer Second Advent and Angels Whisper) is a timely mesmerizing thriller.  At times graphic with the violence to animals, Saintly Remains is fast-paced throughout as the clock ticks down with the next teen victim being prepared for sacrifice.  Tony Perona has another strong entry in what is one of the better mystery series.

Harriet Klausner

No Mercy-Lori Armstrong

February 20, 2010

No Mercy

Lori Armstrong

Touchstone, Jan 2010, $25.00

ISBN: 9781416590958

Army sniper Mercy Gunderson has come home from Iraq to South Dakota filled with guilt for failing to return to see her dad one last time as he jus died.  On medical leave due to a retinal detachment that makes being a sniper impossible and nightmares, Mercy must decide what she should do with the ranch she inherited form her father.  Making the decision difficult is how to care for her reckless sister, single mom Hope and her irresponsible teenage nephew Levi recently collared by Sheriff Dawson for theft.

Someone hits Mercy in the back of her neck in a parking lot and soon afterward an unknown adversary shoots Levi in the head and heart leaving him dead.  Mercy knows she has to tell Hope, but plans to also investigate her nephew’s murder.  Soon she uncovers the shocking truth behind that homicide and another, but is running out of time as a determined killer targets the Gunderson brood.

This is an action-packed South Dakota amateur sleuth mystery starring a trained killer soldier who has a ton of emotional family baggage; perhaps too much.  The story line starts a bit slow as the audience meets the players with their emotional issues especially the kick butt heroine.  Once the introductions are finished, the story line is fast-paced driven by Mercy’s frenzied need to know who.  Fans will enjoy the aptly titled tale as the heroine shows No Mercy to her enemies.

Harriet Klausner

Midnight Fires: A Mystery with Mary Wollstonecraft-Nancy Means Wright

February 20, 2010

Midnight Fires: A Mystery with Mary Wollstonecraft

Nancy Means Wright

Perseverance, Apr 10 2010, $14.95

ISBN 9781564744883

In 1786 Mary Wollstonecraft assumes life for her could not get any lower as she accepts humiliating work in County Cork, Ireland as a governess to the daughters of Lord and Lady Kingsboroug.  Still, one must eat aand single women have few options.  Thus Mary plans to make the best of her stay at  Mitchelstown Castle.

Mary has given herself two rules to abide by.  First she plans to write a novel.  Second and foremost she is determined to stay out of the castle political squabbles.  However, her resolve vanishes with the deaths of a sailor, the former governess, and an aristocrat.  She believes a serial killer is on the loose and investigates seeking the link only to find several people with motives, but none with reasoning to kill the trio.

This is a terrific Georgian mystery with Mary Wollstonecraft starring as an amateur sleuth.  Her investigation is clever as it enhances the overall theme of class and gender differences.  Mary is the perfect guide for readers to look at the great divides in the late eighteenth century Ireland as she will one day soon write her famous manifesto.  Nancy Means Wright provides an excellent historical mystery starring a superb heroine.

Harriet Klausner