Archive for July, 2010

It’s Murder, My Son-Lauren Carr

July 31, 2010

It’s Murder, My Son

Lauren Carr

CreateSpace, Jun 2010, $14.99

ISBN: 9781452819433

writerlaurencarr@comcast.net

In DC Homicide Detective Mac Faraday cannot believe the judge’s ruling in his divorce from his wife of twenty years; she left him for another man but got their home and everything else of value.  As he left the courthouse stunned, elderly lawyer Ed Willingham accosted him, but sick of his ex wife’s attorneys he flees until he stopped feeling sorry for the man struggling to follow him.  Ed informs him that he is the child and heir of the late Queen of Mystery Robin Spencer.  She gave him up for adoption over four decades ago as an unmarried teen who knew kids can’t raise kids.

Mac moves into the closed gated community in Spencer, Maryland.  As he takes first step towards his new home, Gnarly the German shepherd attacks him; Archie as Robin’s assistant who comes with the manor, saves him from sever injuries.  Archie tells the retired Georgetown cop that three months earlier, someone killed multi-millionaire Katrina Singleton who would have been his next door neighbor.  The police believe the “Pay Back” stalker murdered her, but have not found any evidence as to who this individual is and whether he actually killed her.  Reading his mom’s novels, plays and journals and assisted by Archie and a brother he never knew existed, Mac investigates what is turning into a cold case murder.

It’s Murder, My Son is an enjoyable amusing murder mystery starring a likable cast and a few avaricious nasties.  The story line is lighthearted fun as Gnarly brings jocularity to the mix while every time Mac and Archie try to kiss they are interrupted.  The whodunit is top rate, but the entertaining plot belongs to Mac and friends and family as he leads the inquiry into the death of the next door neighbor.

Harriet Klausner

The Thieves of Darkness-Richard Doetsch

July 31, 2010

 The Thieves of Darkness

Richard Doetsch

Atria, Aug 24 2010, $25.00

ISBN: 9781416598954

Having gone straighter after a career as an art thief Michael St. Pierre uses his experiences as a criminal as a security consultant.  Almost forty years old, Michael remains shook by the death of his wife Mary over a year and a half ago.  His friend Father Simon Bellatori arranges a blind date with Katherine “KC” Ryan, who happens to be a thief. 

As he is falling in love with KC, Michael learns that his best friend Simon has been locked away in the brutal Middle Eastern Chiron Prison in the Akbiquestan Desert; where he is to be executed.  Michael flies to the country and breaks into the prison to rescue Simon and shockingly KC.  As the trio flees for Istanbul, maniacal businessman Philippe Venue searches for a fabled treasure and he knows Simon possesses key information.  Soon everyone rushes off to the Himalayas on a treasure hunt.

The third St. Pierre thriller (see The Thieves of Heaven and The Thieves of Faith) is an exhilarating over the top of the Himalayas tale that grips the audience the from the moment Michael develops his plan in depth to save his friend and never slows down on his Asian tour.  Fast-paced throughout, but requiring the locking away of plausibility, sub-genre readers will stay up late to follow the action-packed adventures of Michael and his two cronies.

Harriet Klausner

The Superman Project-A.E. Roman

July 31, 2010

The Superman Project

A.E. Roman

Minotaur, Aug 3 2010, $25.99

ISBN: 9780312375010

With his marriage of a decade crashing, Bronx private investigator Chico Santana has moved into his small office.  Obese eighteen year old janitor Pablo Sanchez and his mom Esther enter Chico’s office seeking his assistance.  They want him to find a missing estranged Brooklyn couple, artist Gabby Gupta and her husband, Joey Valentin.

The police believe Joey probably killed Gabby before vanishing.  Chico knew Joey as children, but his childhood friend left for the Pacific years ago.  Pablo explains Joey went to The Superman Project (TSP) Island run by Gabby’s dad, Father Ravi who accuses Joey of murder.  The mother and son client believe it is a frame and offer Chico a valuable Superman comic as payment to find out what happened to the Williamsburg couple and if she is dead who killed her.  Chico assumes Pablo has sniffed too much cleaning fluid as the conspiracy theory seems inane.  However, as he uncovers leads, he begins to reconsider his scorn of paranoid Pablo’s pathetic pabulum especially when someone murders Esther.

The latest Chico Santana investigative thriller (see Chinatown Angel) is a superb hard-boiled detective story starring a likable protagonist.  The TSP charter seems like lighthearted foolishness by Peter Pan types, but soon proves dangerous and nasty by Captain Hook types.  Filled with twists and a great final spin, fans will enjoy A. E. Roman’s tour of the boroughs as The Superman Project merges the South Bronx with Nietzsche, Hinduism, and DC comic mythos inside a strong urban noir

Harriet Klausner

Pretty Little Things-Jillane Hoffman

July 30, 2010

Pretty Little Things

Jillane Hoffman

Vanguard, Sep 7 2010, $25.95

ISBN: 9781593156077

Thirteen years old Lainey Emerson loves MySpace, especially keeping her page current.  Her biggest peeve at the moment is relocating with her family, which means a new school and finding new friends.

However Lainey becomes excited when she meets El Capitan online.  She agrees to go out with the boy, but conceals her date from her family.  A couple days pass before her mother reports her missing, as she assumed Lainey was behaving just like her older sister, a serial runaway.  Florida’s Crimes Against Children Special Agent Bobby Dees leads the search for the missing teen even as he fears she is the victim of a serial killer, who uses the net to lure victims and then after killing them sends drawings of his kills to the media.

Rotating perspective between the missing teen, the agent (his daughter vanished last year) and the killer in chapters not much longer than Twitter, Pretty Little Things is a terrific cautionary tale that warns readers beware of internet social networks especially what you tell of yourself and the contacts you make.   The story line is loaded with twists that enhance the growing tension, which the agent and the teen especially emote.  Although the ending feels weak especially with the taut story line that brilliantly leads to the climax, fans will appreciate Pretty Little Things while wondering how to allow their youngsters to enjoy the net yet avoid stalking cyber predators.

Harriet Klausner

Running Scared-Lisa Jackson

July 29, 2010

Running Scared

Lisa Jackson

Zebra, Aug 1 2010, $7.99

ISBN: 9781420101829

In 1980 Kate Summers still grieves the deaths of her husband and daughter due to a drunken driver.  When she is given a chance to adopt an infant, she does not have to think about her decision; Kate instantly agrees even with the stipulations that she must ask no questions, leave Boston immediately and tell everyone she birthed the child.

For the next fifteen years, Kate raises her beloved child in Hopewell, Oregon although she always looks over her shoulder in fear that someone will know the child she loves is not hers and the adoption was probably criminal.  The moment of truth that always frightened her arrives when Deagan O’Roarke, an illegitimate offspring of a Boston Brahman, arrives from New England and becomes a friend of the single mom and her teenage son.  He begins to fall in love with both and eventually admits Jon is his son.  He insists he was drunk when his cousin Bibi Sullivan seduced him.  Bibi’s father Robert detesting his pathetic family seeks his grandson while the rest of the brood knows what his finding the teen means to their gold spoon lifestyle.

This is an exhilarating rewriting of the author’s tale Wishes with the new version emphasizing the suspense while the original the romance.  Kate is terrific as she behaves like the Running Scared man in Roy Orbison’s song of the same title as she always expected someone to claim Jon as theirs.  When he and the extended Sullivan family converge on the Pacific Northwest, Kate knows her nightmare has come true but it is even worse than her frightening dreams as she never expected her son to be in danger.  Lisa Jackson converts her tale into a taut thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Pirates of the Levant-Arturo Perez-Reverte

July 29, 2010

Pirates of the Levant

Arturo Perez-Reverte

Putnam, Sep 2 2010, $25.95

ISBN: 9780399156649

In the year 1627 sword for hire Captain Alatriste and his former page Inigo now an adult seventeen year older soldier in his own right, are on board the Spanish galleon Mulata.  When not at sea battling Spain’s enemies and collecting booty, they are based in Naples.   It is in Naples that Inigo shows he needs more time to grow up as he tangles with a swindling gang and needs his former mentor’s help to keep him safe.

They have adventures as they catch and bound their enemies and sell prisoners as slaves for booty.  In a remote Spanish port on the North African island Oran, Captain Alatriste and Inigo meet Sebastian Copons whose supervisor refuses to allow him to leave the island because he needs all the soldiers he can deploy.  After Alatriste tries to buy his friend’s freedom, Gurriat the Moor sees the captain in action and attaches himself to him and earns a berth on the Mulata.  The four of them and the rest of the Mulata crew believe they are going to die in battle against several Turkish ships, but refuse to back down.

This is the final book in the swashbuckling Alatristo historical saga and like its predecessors (see Cavalier in a Yellow Doublet, The King’s Gold, The Sun Over Breda, Purity of Blood and Captain Alatristo) this entry vividly brings to life historical Spain as if the reader is there.  The audience observes as if at the front the Christian civil war with the Mohammedans (Moors) as religious intolerance led to strife and conflict.  Pirates of the Levant makes the Edwin Starr case of the ugliest of “War, what is it good for; absolutely nothing” inside a great adventure thriller.

Harriet Klausner

The Montmarte Investigation-Claude Izner

July 29, 2010

The Montmarte Investigation

Claude Izner

Minotaur, Sep 14 2010, $24.99

ISBN: 9780312383763

In 1891 Paris at an outing of the C. Bontemps Boarding School, Elisa borrows Iris’ red shoes to run away with twenty-one years old Gaston.  Some time later on Montmartre, a female body is found; her face burned with acid so it is unrecognizable; the corpse is barefoot.  A red shoe is delivered to the the Bookshop owned by Victor Legris and Kenji Mori.

When Kenji recognizes the shoe as one he gave to his goddaughter Iiris, he assumes logically and mournfully she is the dead victim until he learns from her she lent them to her friend.  Victor follows Kenji to the school and once he catches up with what the shoe denotes he insures Iris is safe as ahe may have been the intended target.  Gaston’s body is found in a wine cask on the wharf.  Having solved two cases (see The Disappearance at Père-Lachaise and Murder on the Eiffel Tower), Victor fancies himself a detective so he is determined to solve the case before his rival police Iinspector Lecacheur can.  When Elisa’s mother is also murdered, the three killings appear linked to a cold case in Lyon, but why and who is the avenger remains unknown.

This is an exhilarating French historical mystery that gives armchair detectives a taste of late nineteenth century Paris when cabarets and wine houses were the rage.  Real historical figures add to the atmosphere while anchoring the time and place of the storyline.  Secrets from the past prove either deadly or joyful as Victor investigates the serial murders linked to a cold case.

Harriet Klausner

The Mullah’s Storm-Thomas W. Young

July 27, 2010

The Mullah’s Storm

Thomas W. Young

Putnam, Sep 7 2010, $25.95

ISBN: 9780399156922

In Afghanistan, the C-130 Hercules transport plane left Bagram Air Base to deliver a Taliban Mullah prisoner for interrogation when the storm hit.  The heavy blowing snow made visibility impossible and a rapid drop in pressure made flying even more dangerous.  However, a surface to air missile strikes the plane causing it to crash in the mountainous lethal Hindu Kush region.  The crew has several dead or severely injured; the blizzard cuts them off from immediate rescue while the Taliban who know the area intimately are coming to rescue the Mullah.

With broken legs keeping him trapped, Lieutenant Colonel Fisher assigns the highest ranking person standing navigator Major Michael Parson and Army Pashto interpreter and cultural awareness expert Master Sergeant Gold to escort the Mullah to the authorities.  The enemy who heed the Mullah’s call to bring hell to the Americans and their allies know the terrain made more treacherous by the storm while his two escorts already believe they are traveling in a frozen hell.  The Taliban hunt them abetted by frightened villagers and the Mullah who prays for deliverance.

This is an action packed military thriller that brings alive the stark reality of war in Afghanistan.  The Air Force navigator and the Army interpreter are fully drawn characters, but it is the prisoner they escort who owns the plot (along with his country).as his beliefs profoundly contrast with prevalent Western philosophy.  The suspense is summed up by author Thomas W. Young as an airman in Afghanistan: “…, what scared me the most wasn’t the thought of getting shot down and killed. It was the thought of getting shot down and not killed…”

Harriet Klausner

Treachery in the Yard-Adimchinma Ibe

July 26, 2010

Treachery in the Yard

Adimchinma Ibe

Minotaur, Aug 3 2010, $22.99

ISBN: 9780312585938

In Government Reservation Area II, Port Harcourt, Nigeria, the bomb devastates the home and garage of affluent Pius Okpara, who is running against Dr. Vincent Puene for the National Conservative’s Party’s nomination for governor of Rivers State.  Outside of the property damage, no one is hurt.  Neighbor Mrs. Naomi Karibi, wife of a judge and mom of three, may have seen the culprits as she describes to the police on the scene.

Homicide Detective Tamunoemi Peterside leads the official investigation that soon turns from a bombing to murder when Mrs. Karibi is killed.  As his superiors intrude on Peterside’s inquiry, other potential witnesses are also murdered.  

Although not as deep as the Botswana mysteries (see Alexander McCall Smith’s The Number 1 Ladies Detective Agency and Michael Stanley’s Detective Kubu), the first Peterside Nigerian police procedural is an interesting tale.  Action-packed as the murder count rises alarmingly fast, Adimchinma Ibe makes a case that corruption intrudes on good police work.  Although more insight into Nigeria is needed and less of a Perry Mason climax, fans of African police procedurals will enjoy the first Detective Peterside investigation.

Harriet Klausner

Power Slide-Susan Dunlap

July 26, 2010

Power Slide

Susan Dunlap

Counterpoint, Jul 20 2010, $25.00

http://www.counterpointpress.com

ISBN: 9781582435428

In San Francisco stuntman Damon Guthrie begins to reveal a shameful secret to his intermittent girlfriend stuntwoman Darcy Lott.  Before completing his confession to a stunned distressed Darcy, Damon asks her to come to a meeting accompanied by her sibling John the cop at the Palace of the Fine Arts.

However, on his way to the meeting, Damon dies in a car accident.  The timing seems suspicious to Darcy who decides to investigate as she has done before feature (see Hungry Ghosts, A Single Eye and Civil Twilight).  Darcy also remains determined to find her missing other brother Mike, who vanished over two decades ago.  However, those predators who murdered Damon decide Darcy is next.

The latest Zen detective amateur sleuth mystery is an exhilarating whodunit as the two inquiries are personal; although each requires a degree of acceptability that the heroine knew so little about a man she dated on and off for several years, and the tundra cold case of missing Mike.  The fun in the investigative story line is the refreshing use of Zen Buddhism to work the cases and the amusing movie memorabilia collectibles, as the latest Darcy Lott mystery is an enjoyable whodunit.

Harriet Klausner