Archive for August, 2010

Velocity-Alan Jacobson

August 28, 2010


Alan Jacobson

Vanguard, Oct 5 2010, $25.95

ISBN: 9781593156213

In Napa Valley, undercover Police Detective Robby Hernandez vanishes as he was closing in on John Wayne “Crush Killer” Mayfield.  Robby’s lover FBI profiler Karen Vail fears she may have unwittingly caused the disappearance.

Robby was part of a DEA team investigating drug kingpin Carlos Cortez and his cartel.  Part of the operation involved close scrutiny of Cesar Guevara, the CFO of a wine bottling company.  Evidence pointed to Guevara drug trafficking with the Crush Killer as his hit man.  Knowing at a minimum she owes Robby and praying her beloved is alive, kick butt Karen targets Cortez, Cesar and Crush.

Alan Jacobson does a remarkable job to tell the direct prequel (see Crush) without slowing down this exhilarating Karen Vail police procedural (see 7th Victim).  The story line is action-packed from the moment a guilt laden Vail believes what she wrought to her lover and never slows down yet the story line shows another side of the heroine; she has a heart.  The intense profound look at drug trafficking enhances a powerful California thriller as Mr. Jacobson scores big time with this super detective tale.

Harriet Klausner

The Disappearance-Bentley Little

August 28, 2010

The Disappearance

Bentley Little

Signet, Sep 7 2010, $7.99

ISBN: 9780451231031

Five UCLA students drive from California to Nevada to attend the tribal gathering Burning Man in the Black Forest Desert.  After a couple of fun filled days, on the second night Gary feels drugged and is knocked out along with his four friends.  When he looks for his companions he finds Reyn, Stacy and Brian, but his girlfriend Joan is missing.  The police don’t take the disappearance seriously; the four students return to the college to work on a plan to find Joan.

They learn someone tampered with Joan’s files so it looks as if she never attended the school; her Facebook and My Space pages are gone.  Teri Lin, the student who gave Joan’s family number, is killed by a man wearing hAmish like homespun clothing that.  Gary is kidnapped by three men who wear the identical clothing as Teri’s killer wore.  When he escapes he finds himself in New Mexico.  He learns Joan is being held in the religious cult’s compound in Bitterwood, Texas where she grew up.  Gary and his friends arrive to spring her but hundreds of worshipers of Father surround her.  Joan knows she F Father will hunt her and her friends until they are dead.

This will leave chills inside the readers’ hearts as the audience will be spellbound with fear yet horrified with this powerful human horror thriller.  Gary is a mature person who knows his love for Joan is not a youthful game but much more.  Resolute though some would insist foolish, he risks his life for his beloved knowing the cult will try to kill him to prevent one of theirs leaving.  Bentley Little will appear on bestseller lists as he mesmerizes his fans with the Disappearance.

Harriet Klausner

In Search of Mercy-Michael Ayoob

August 27, 2010

In Search of Mercy

Michael Ayoob

Minotaur, Oct 12 2010, $24.99

ISBN 9780312644925

In high school in 1993 in Pittsburgh, Dexter Bolzjak was a legend on ice until he suffered a meltdown in the Pennsylvania state championship.  Soon afterward, irate hockey goon fans abducted him and beat the crap out of him. Eight years since his rise, fall and assault has left Dexter a shell of what he was as he sorts produce at a warehouse while trying to keep his sanity, which he recognizes as a full time job.

Aging alcoholic Lou Kashon offers Dexter a deal to make some real money if he locates his lost love, former movie star, Mercy Carnahan, who has not been seen in public since 1958.  The cash is too good to pass up so without asking too many questions Dexter begins a search for the recluse.

The key to this strong amateur sleuth is the past of Dexter and Mercy, as the audience sees how they got to where they are today.  Fast-paced and vividly descriptive especially the violence (you will feel the hip checks), In Search of mercy is an aptly titled thriller that readers who appreciate something radically different will fully enjoy.

Harriet Klausner

Death Notice-Todd Ritter

August 27, 2010

Death Notice

Todd Ritter

Minotaur, Oct 12 2010, $24.99

ISBN 9780312622800

Perry Hollow, Pennsylvania Police Chief Kat Campbell is stunned to find the corpse of George Winnick, a farmer, inside a coffin of sorts at the side of the road.  She is further aghast to see the victim’s lips sewn together and his blood vessels containing formaldehyde.

Meanwhile, Perry Hollow Gazette obituary writer Henry Goll learns the time of death occurred after he received the faxed death notice.  Henry realizes that one of his neighbors is a diabolical homicidal psychopath.  When other murders occur, Pennsylvania State Police Officer Nick Donnelly, an expert on serial killers, arrives to assist the overwhelmed locals.  However, even with his knowledge and skills, the killer seems always ahead of the cops.

Although at times a bit overdramatic with a stratospheric kill rate, Death Notice is an enjoyable police procedural.  The story line is fast-paced and loaded with a horde of eccentric characters as the corpses keep coming.  Kat is a fabulous lead who holds the serial killer thriller together with help from Nick and Henry.  Readers will enjoy this entertaining regional mystery as a town that never faced a homicide suddenly is inundated.

Harriet Klausner

What Doesn’t Kill You-Jan Grape

August 27, 2010

What Doesn’t Kill You

Jan Grape

Five Star, Sep 15 2010, $25.95

ISBN: 9781594148880

In Bent Bell, Texas sixteen year old Cory Purvis tells her half-Native American boyfriend TyTy that their town is boring, they are stunned to find the corpse of nursing student Vickee Allen.  Whoever killed her viciously used a knife on the victim.

Cory is stunned to find out TyTy and Vickie were dating.  Even more distressing to Cory is that she realizes Sheriff Michael Sparrow believes TyTy is the prime suspect.  Soon afterward, the coroner decides Vickee was raped and had many lovers including TyTy.  Cory knows in her gut TyTy would not kill; so she investigates the homicide with the help of her Uncle Giff.

Sometimes you get what you wish for as soon as the teen heroine opens her mouth that nothing happens in Bent Bell they find the corpse.  Cory is a courageous caring person who, though upset with TyTy and saddened with Vickee’s vicious death, investigates with youthful innocence.  Although there are too many explanations in lieu of action, Vickee’s behavior in life exposed with her violent death leaves readers to ponder small town ethics inside an engaging amateur sleuth.

Harriet Klausner

Murder in Caleb’s Landing-D-L Nelson

August 27, 2010

Murder in Caleb’s Landing

D-L Nelson

Five Star, Sep 15 2010, $25.95

ISBN: 9781594148972

Thirtyish Annie Young may have been born in the States, but the contract technical writer has lived mostly in Europe with her Swiss based parents.  She is a “Third-Culture Kid” not quite comfortable in Europe but totally uncomfortable in America.  When her father inherits a home in Caleb’s Landing, Massachusetts, the Young family leaves Geneva for New England.

In Massachusetts, Annie dad and his friends persuade her create a CD on the real founding of America.  Her program is previewed at the local elementary school.  Many townsfolk are irate due to her realistic portrayal of the Pilgrims and the Native Americans.  In the basement of their new house, father and daughter find skeleton dressed in pre-Civil War rags and a diary written by a runaway slave; her mother’s business partner and Annie intervene to save a woman from her abusive spouse.  Then there is Des.

This is a fascinating fast-paced mystery the takes off once the Yong family arrives in Massachusetts and never slow down until the finish.  Annie’s problems with poorly adapting to a different society enhances the tale as her actions make her an eccentric and to some a pariah.  Her diligent research provides a rounded realistic portrayal of the founding of America, but alienates many who prefer deity filters on the heritage of the country especially the state. 

Harriet Klausner

Trail of Blood-Lisa Black

August 26, 2010

Trail of Blood

Lisa Black

Morrow, Sep 7 2010, $24.99

ISBN: 9780061989339

In an abandoned warehouse in Cleveland, a mummified corpse is found.  CPD assumes the victim was murdered by the city’s first known serial killer, the taunting Torso Killer during the Great depression.  Although over seven decades have passed since this brutal psychopath dismembered people the case still haunts the department as it was never solved.

Soon after finding the remains from the 1930s, another recently murdered person is found using the same M.O. as the infamous Torso killer.  CPD believes an apparent copycat killer paying homage committed the gruesome homicide.  Forensic pathologist Theresa MacLean and cousin Frank Patrick look at both cases and assume lunatics committed the atrocities then and now.

The latest MacLean Cleveland police procedural (see Takeover and Evidence of Murder) is a terrific double murder mystery that effortlessly moves back and forth between the present day inquiry and Miller’s investigation of the Torso Killer.  Both cases are fascinating although readers will know the respective killers before the cops do.  With MacLean’s personal life still in the tank but perhaps looking up, Trail of Blood is an entertaining well rounded mystery.

Harriet Klausner

The Reversal-Michael Connelly

August 26, 2010

The Reversal

Michael Connelly

Little, Brown, Oct 5 2010, $27.99

ISBN 9780316069489

In 1986, Jason Jessup was convicted of killing twelve year old Melissa Landry.  Recent testing of DNA evidence exonerates Jason who will receive a new trial.

Los Angeles Office of the District Attorney prosecutors are embarrassed as they head to the retrial.  They ask defense attorney Mickey Haller for help; he agrees with the stipulation that he employs former LAPD cop Harry Bosch as his private investigator and his ex-wife prosecutor Maggie “McFierce” McPherson as the second chair.  Bosch works the cold case trying to find witnesses from the 1986 homicide of the tweener.  He especially wants to find the victim’s older sister whose testimony hung Jessup.   At the same time, Haller finds working for the D.A. quite eye-opening as his every move is under scrutiny while he also distrusts Jessup’s sleazy defense attorney.  However, perhaps the person all should watch is the one who hated the jurisprudence system before he spent a quarter of a century behind bars; now he obsessively loathes it and those who work it.

The second pairing of this obstinate duet (see The Brass Verdict) makes for a fabulous investigative legal thriller with Haller’s former wife on the team; he is thankful that having been married to her they can never meet in court as she is that tough and good.  Part of the fun is watching Haller switching sides for this case as fans of the Lincoln Lawyer will see how different what a defense attorney can do vs. a prosecutor.  With a strong investigation by Bosch and a powerful courtroom drama by Haller and McPherson, the audience will relish The Reversal.

Harriet Klausner

The Insider-Reece Hirsch

August 26, 2010

The Insider

Reece Hirsch

Berkley, May 2010, $7.99

ISBN: 9780425234624

In San Francisco, attorney Will Connelly arrives at work expecting to have made partnership at the firm Reynolds, Fincher & McComb LLP.  However, instead of feeling euphoric, he watches in stunned shock and awe as tax attorney Ben Fisher falls from Will’s thirty-eighth floor office window.  SFPD Detective Kovach questions Will as he was the only other person present in the office and lying on the ground outside next to Ben’s body is Will’s access card.

After the cops leave, the law firm’s managing partner “Teflon Don” Rubinoswki informs Will he has been voted partner.  He also will take charge of the late Ben’s major project; a merger involving Jupiter Software company firm.  That night Will stops at a neighborhood bar to quietly celebrate his promotion.  There he meets Katya and leaves with her to go to her place.  To impress her with his importance, he mentions the Jupiter Software merger.  The next morning two Russians bust into her apartment; they beat up Will forcing him to give them information on the merger.  He cannot turn to the police because he violated a legal ethics code involving attorney-client privilege and the insider trading rules of the SEC.  Complicating his mess is when he learns his new client has a secret contract with the government involving encryption coding.  The thugs sold the information to the Russian mob who demand Will obtains the Jupiter encryption code key so it can be sold on the black market.

This is a complicated action-packed thriller as Will finds out one thing leads to another as Federal, State, and local law enforcement want a piece of his butt, and the Russian Mafiya want his entire butt.  From the moment Ben dives until the final fabsulous twist, fans will enjoy this fast-paced terrorism thriller as the beleaguered hero struggles with what next; feeling like Murphy as nothing goes right. This is a fabulous must read chilling thriller

Harriet Klausner

The Detroit Electric Scheme-D. E. Johnson

August 25, 2010

The Detroit Electric Scheme

D. E. Johnson

Minotaur, Sep 14 2010, $24.99

ISBN: 9780312644567

In 1910 Detroit, Will Anderson works for his father’s electric car company.  In the machining room, Will finds the corpse of John Cooper, who was crushed by a hydraulic press.  Recognizing the deceased as the man engaged to his former lover Elizabeth, and panicking, a frightened Will flees the factory as the circumstantial evidence will hang him even without Detroit cops beating a confession from him.

Will informs Elizabeth that someone murdered John and he fears she could be next.  He offers to keep her safe, but she refuses.  As Will conducts an inquiry far from the spotlights, he finds cruel corruption as the cornerstone of the city; that is when he does not stop for a drink to dull the haze.

The Detroit Electric Scheme is a fabulous historical amateur sleuth that showcases the underbelly of the Motor City at a time of optimism when American companies made Michigan the capital of the fledgling auto industry.  Real persona including some of the founding fathers add a sense of realism as does Will’s alcoholism which makes his investigation off kilter due the application of fuzzy logic.  Although readers will feel some compassion for the lead with his plight that also is tempered by his self inflicting wounds as he is not a likable character.  Still the audience will enjoy this fine early twentieth century mystery as where there’s a Will there’s a way.

Harriet Klausner