Archive for July, 2010

Villain-Shuichi Yoshida; Philip Gabriel (translator)

July 26, 2010

Villain

Shuichi Yoshida; Philip Gabriel (translator)

Pantheon, Aug 3 2010, $25.95

ISBN: 9780307378873

In 2002 in southern Japan, the corpse of Fukuoka insurance saleswoman Yoshino Ishibashi is found.  Soon after the discovery of the dead woman’s body, Nagasaki police charge twenty-seven year old construction worker Yuichi Shimizu with first degree murder. 

The pair had dated a few times but the motive remains as elusive as the ghosts that allegedly haunt this region of Japan.  The cops learn that the victim had numerous online boyfriends and went on mundane and cyber dates; as Ishibashi hated her boring job.  Meanwhile Shimizu also detested his cramped lifestyle as he cared for his ailing grandparents; his escapism from ennui was with his extravagant car.  Meanwhile as he and his girlfriend evade the police, the impact of the murder reverberates on three families and the communities where they reside.

Using a horrific homicide, Shuichi Yoshida provides a powerful look at modern day Japan through multiple perspectives.  The discerning story line rotates effortlessly between the past of lead pair (killer and victim) and the aftermath of the killing on the couple on the run and the families.  Readers will relish this tense thriller as murder is the mechanism used to enable the audience to feel they are on the islands observing contemporary Japanese culture.

Harriet Klausner

Kiss of Death-P.D. Martin

July 26, 2010

Kiss of Death

P.D. Martin

Mira, Aug 1 2010, $7.99

ISBN:  9780778327790

The corpse was found in Temescal Gateway Park.  LAPD fears the murder is ritual caused by an NRM (new religious movement) as the locale is where After Dark, a self proclaimed vampire group, holds rites and the victim has two puncture wounds in her neck.  The local cops ask for FBI profiler Sophie Anderson to work with Detective Sloan on the investigation into who murdered Sherry Taylor, teenage daughter of an affluent producer.

As they interview interested parties, Sloan believes an acting professor or the former boyfriend killed Sherry while Anderson believes either After Dark or another “vampire” clan performed the deed.  When a second corpse is found near the Sherry’s murder scene, Anderson fears someone is working on a psi transfer of power.  However, as the Fed ignores her visiting boyfriend (from Arizona) and fears her attraction to Anton Ward, leader of After Dark, who senses her psi power, she goes undercover as Lady Veronica seeking a killer amidst the Goth scene.

The fascination in this tense well-written police procedural is with the insight into the two types of vampires (psi and blood suckers) as readers learn of psychosomatic illnesses (porphyria and Renfield’s syndrome).  Sloan is a terrific support character who should have a return engagement with Anderson.  The prime rest of the secondary cast bring to life either the Goth or police subcultures.  Although Anderson’s eerie attraction to Ward is not fully explained as this is a key element and questionable is the ease she switches to and from her Aussie accent (and vernacular), fans will enjoy her latest whodunit (see Killing Hands, Fan Mail and The Body Count).

Harriet Klausner

The Secrets of Paradise Bay-Devon Vaughn Archer

July 25, 2010

The Secrets of Paradise Bay

Devon Vaughn Archer

Urban Renaissance, Jul 1 2010, $14.95

www.urbanbooks.com

ISBN: 9781601622198

In Paradise Bay, Oregon, Trey Lancaster hurt his wife Ivana Kendall-Lancaster and their marriage when he had an affair with the spouse of a client six moths ago.  Feeling ashamed for what he did to his former supermodel wife, Trey invites his brother Clyde to stay with them without consulting Ivana.  Clyde, just released from prison following an assault conviction, accepts his wealthy sibling’s offer.  Ivana is irate with her husband for ignoring her when he made this decision.

Clyde and Ivana begin an affair from almost the moment he arrives.  However, he feels guilty for making love to his sister-in-law while she is confused wondering which brother she loves.  When Clyde meets Stefani the singer he becomes further disoriented as he no longer understands his feelings.  Meanwhile Willie Munroe owes Clyde and plans to pay back using the brother, the wife and the crooner as expendable pawns.

The Secrets of Paradise Bay is a fantastic romantic suspense family drama with a strong ensemble cast who each has major issues.  The tension mounts on two subplots as the brothers seem ready to commit fratricide with each irate with the other and the Munro retribution entry that grips the audience with a sense of pending doom.  Devon Vaughn Archer provides a great tale in which sibling rivalry may prove deadly if they fail to reconcile.

Harriet Klausner

The Pirate Devlin-Mark Keating

July 25, 2010

The Pirate Devlin

Mark Keating

Grand Central, Jul 27 2020, $24.99

ISBN: 9780446563901

In 1717 on the West Coast of Africa, French Marine Royale Phillipe Ducos lies dying after begin run aground by pirates.  The only pirate who apparently understands French is newcomer Patrick Devlin.  Besides taking the dead “frog’s” boots, he removes a treasure map that he conceals from his traveling companions.

Captaining the vessel Lucy, Patrick and his crew sail across the Atlantic into the Caribbean where the French guard gold.  His adversary on this adventure is his former master Royal Navy Captain John Coxon under orders by the Admiralty to retrieves the treasure.  Still fuming and ashamed he lost his ship to pirates, Coxon will kill anyone, British, French or pirate (and his former man-servant) who are in his way.  Patrick knows he must trick British, French and pirates (and his former master) to retrieve the gold.

This is a rousing early eighteenth century swashbuckling thriller in which violence and blood flow throughout the exhilarating story line.  Patrick is superb as the daring pirate captain who goes mano a mano with Blackbeard while Coxon compulsively obsesses with a need to prove he is a worthy sea captain.  Readers will enjoy the confrontation between the master and the man-servant

Harriet Klausner

The Moses Expedition-Juan Gomez-Jurado

July 25, 2010

The Moses Expedition

Juan Gomez-Jurado

Atria, Aug 3 2010, $24.99

ISBN: 9781416590644

During WW II the Nazi Butcher of Spiegelgrund conducted painful deadly genetic experiments on Jewish children.  A sibling to one of the young victims managed to escape to the United States.

Over six decades later, that escapee now New York billionaire Raymond Kayn finally learns where the Nazi genetic butcher has remained in hiding.  He dispatches Vatican secret service agent Father Anthony Fowler (see God’s Spy) to Austria to obtain an heirloom from the odious Nazi.  The heirloom contains a scroll that locates the biblical Ark of the Covenant in the Jordanian desert.  At the same time Kahn hires Spanish journalist Andrea Otero (also see God’s Spy) to cover his expedition to obtain the sacred Ark.  Huqan sends his terrorist agents into the desert to ambush the outsiders.

Although over the top of Raiders of the Lost Ark and lacking a consistent lead as a cast worthy of Cecil DeMille rotate the lead, fans will want to join The Moses Expedition from the armchair as terrorist bombs bursting in air and killer insects attack the team.  Loaded with international action on four continents, Juan Gomez-Jurado provides a fun suspense thriller for those who can ignore plausibility.

Harriet Klausner

On Location-Elizabeth Sims

July 25, 2010

On Location

Elizabeth Sims

Minotaur, Aug 3 2010, $25.99

ISBN: 9780312586577

Los Angeles law student and single mom Rita Farmer feels the worst is finally over after a seemingly century of dealing with her alcoholic former spouse.  However, the ex actress is stunned when her sister Gina along with future brother-on-law wealthy Lance de Sauvenard vanish in the wilds of Washington State during a nasty storm.  Lance was scouting for an ideal on-site locale for his filmmaker brother to make a movie. 

In her gut Rita knows she should turn to her boyfriend private investigator George Rowe to help find her sibling, but does not.  Instead she rounds up the posse of her six year old son Petey and her gay friend Daniel the actor to search the wilderness filled with beasts that very loosely might be categorized as human who stalk the seemingly helpless trio.

More a thriller than a mystery, the third Farmer tale (see The Actress and The Extra) is a fabulous novel as Rita’s independent streak leads her and her two compatriots into trouble reminiscent of Dickey’s Deliverance.  On Location is a winner that does not need a Byrd to tell fans that this entry is terrific.

Harriet Klausner

The Rembrandt Affair-Daniel Silva

July 25, 2010

The Rembrandt Affair

Daniel Silva

Putnam, Jul 20 2010, $26.95

ISBN: 9780399156588

Art restorer and retired Mossad agent Gabriel Allon and his agent second wife Chiara retreat to Glastonbury, England for some R&R and a return to normalcy after the recent near fatal abduction of her (see The Defector).  However, the respite ends when Allon learns a dear colleague was murdered and the Rembrandt painting the victim was restoring was stolen.  Unable to hide on the sidelines, Allon investigates.

Allon’s inquiry into a theft turned ugly takes him into the underbelly of capitalism as European firms clandestinely and illegally are selling reactor centrifuges to Iran. He realizes all nuclear waste in this case leads to Switzerland.  Knowing he cannot go it alone, Allon calls in his former crew mates.

The latest Allon thriller is a terrific tale that has a different feel to the story line.  The tale starts off as a mystery, but the clues turn the plot into an action-packed espionage thriller.  Fast-paced regardless of genre, The Rembrandt Affair has the hero doing his usual quality job as he comes out of retirement to try to prevent the illegal sales to Iran.  The escapades never stop until after the final confrontation; yet the key that refreshes this entry is Allon, who on the surface seems the same as in his previous appearances, but long time fans will notice subtle but fascinating differences.

Harriet Klausner

Bad Blood-John Sandford

July 25, 2010

Bad Blood

John Sandford

Putnam, Sep 21 2010, $27.95

ISBN: 9780399156908

Bob Tripp, in charge of the Battenberg Farmer’s Co-op grain elevator patiently waits for Jacob Flood to arrive to deposit his crop; Bob plans to kill Jacob.  His scheme works perfectly as the police arrive at the scene and conclude he was murdered by Tripp rather than the accident the young man claimed happened.  They arrest Tripp who is placed in a jail cell with overnight deputy Jim Crocker remaining in the office.  While in the jail Tripp dies in what looks like a suicide, but is a homicide while at his home Crocker is also dead with the evidence pointing towards a female.

Because of a conflict of interest, Warren County Sheriff Lee Coakley asks BIA Agent Virgil Flowers for assistance.  They drive separately to Homestead where the killings occurred.  The pair learns that two of the victims belonged to the cult World of Spirit where rumors of rape, incest, and young teen brides are acceptable practices.  Virgil and the sheriff also know they have no legal admissible evidence as the cult members stick closely together circling the wagons.  Knowing the innocent are being harmed, the two law enforcement officials continual their diligence, but remain clueless.

With his fourth Flowers (and the zillion Prey tales) thriller, John Sandford once again affirms he is amongst the top echelon in the police procedural sub-genre.  Virgil has a wicked sense of humor that distinguishes him, but when it comes to a case he is serious and meticulous.  With plenty of murder, mayhem, and more, fans will enjoy the investigation by “F” Flowers and the female sheriff.

Harriet Klausner

Foreign Influence-Brad Thor

July 24, 2010

Foreign Influence

Brad Thor

Atria, Jul 2010, $26.99

ISBN: 9781416586593

The new Administration aborts Department of Homeland Security Project Apex as the top secret antiterrorist group had been assigned rule breaking by the previous White House occupant to prevent attacks.  As he did when he left the SEALs, Apex member Scot Harvath easily lands a position with Defense Department’s funded Carlton Group; mission identical to that of the disbanded Apex team. 

In Rome a terrorist bomb kills a bus load of American tourists.  Horvath travels to Italy on the mission of search and kill the prime suspect the Troll, and any associates.  Chicago police officer and lawyer John Vaughn searches for the Middle Easterner taxi driver who ran over a woman in a hit and run.  His inquiry leads Vaughn to a terrorist plot to kill civilians in Chicago.

Over the top of the Willis Tower, Foreign Influence is an exhilarating thriller in which the hero of previous tales simply switches teams.  The story line is extremely fast with both subplots moving at a rapid rate of speed.  Although Brad Thor argues that the government is incompetent and even antiterrorism efforts need contracting out when comparing the CIA with the Carlton group, fans who enjoy action, action and more testosterone action will appreciate Harvath’s latest thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Hangman-Faye Kellerman

July 24, 2010

Hangman

Faye Kellerman

Morrow, Aug 3 2010, $24.99

ISBN: 9780061702563

Los Angeles Police Department Lieutenant sexagenarian Peter Decker knows rumored New York hitman Chris Donatti and the alleged killer’s wife Terry McLaughlin. He met them on a case fifteen years ago when the couple were in high school; Chris confessed to a murder he did not do to protect Terry.  Now, both vanish after a fight and their young teenage son Gabe calls Peter.  The cop and his wife Rina Lazarus takes the boy into their home though they worry about psychopathic Chris harming their daughter.  Meanwhile Decker searches for the vanished parents.

At the same time, Peter leads the inquiry into the brutal murder of St. Timothy Hospital’s neonatal nurse Adrianna Blanc.  She was found hanging at a construction site with her car still in the hospital lot.  Decker and his team Sergeant Marge Dunn and Detective Scott Oliver learn the victim enjoyed booze and sex.  Her boyfriend Nurse Garth Hammerling has also vanished while on vacation.

This is a strong entry in the long running series due to the comparative analysis of two families.  Decker-Lazarus is a loving unit with a strong relationship between them and with their daughter.  On the other hand Donatti-McLaughlin is a dysfunctional unit with a history of violence with a piano prodigy offspring who uses music to escape his life.  Although the inquires take a strange twist, fans will relish this fine police procedural as Decker fears Donatti might harm his family., but he and his spouse try to do what they believe is the right thing.

Harriet Klausner