Archive for September, 2010

The Sleepwalkers-Paul Grossman

September 30, 2010

The Sleepwalkers

Paul Grossman

St. Martin’s, Oct 12 2010, $24.99

ISBN: 9780312601904

In 1932 Berlin police detective Willi Krauss solves the notorious Child Eater serial killer case, which brings him a modicum of fame though the power hungry Nazis are unhappy about this as he is a Jew.  On his next assignment Krauss investigates the strange death of a woman floating in the River Spree.  The victim’s head was shaved and her fibula surgically removed from one leg only to be replanted in the other limb.

 Because of his recent fame, Weimar Republic President General Paul von Hindenberg assigns Krauss to look into the disappearance of a young Bulgarian princess who went out to purchase cigarettes, but never came home.  At the same time as his workload grows, he has no time to sit Shiva for his recently deceased wife nor spend time with their children who are staying with their aunt.  Between von Hindenberg and the Nazis, Krauss struggles to solve his difficult cases.

This engaging German historical police procedural contains a strong sense of how much enthusiasm the Nazis felt and the fear they placed in their rival, adversaries, and chosen scapegoats.  Krauss is a strong lead character whose religion places a scarlet letter on him as far as the Nazis are concerned as they would rather have the Child Eater still terrorizing people than have a Jew solve the case.  Although some of the key support characters are stereotypical and unnecessary (including an apparent love interest) as they detract from the entertaining plot by causing questionable character contradictions, fans will enjoy visiting Berlin at a pivotal wind of change sweeps Germany.

Harriet Klausner

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South Austin Vampire-Russ Hall

September 30, 2010

South Austin Vampire

Russ Hall

Five Star, Oct 15 2010, $25.95

ISBN: 9781594148668

In Austin, Devil’s Due music scene owner Owen Peasey hires private investigator Travis Treegrow to learn what is bothering his star attraction, singer-songwriter Lola Pillaccherosi. However, before Trav gets very far he finds the local star dead; eerily her body contains no blood and her neck has two puncture teeth marks that remind him of a Jose Doe corpse lying pale in the morgue.

Putting aside somewhat his volunteer inquiry into several thefts that Trav is doing for Sister Consuelo he and his former girlfriend Texas Hill Country peace officer Cassie make inquiries into the homicide.  They soon begin to uncover a trail of avarice in which the clues lead to vampire cult leader Levi Damocles with lethal connections to the drug and human trafficking mobs.

The second Blue-eyed Indian mystery (see Bones of the Rain) is an engaging Austin whodunit in which the city’s music scene and the accompanying underbelly make for a fun atmospheric investigation.  Although the vampiric angle never quite seems blood harrowing enough as it pales in comparison to the city tour, fans will enjoy Trav’s Texas two-step turf trot.

Harriet Klausner

Fatal Error-F. Paul Wilson,

September 30, 2010

Fatal Error

F. Paul Wilson,

Tor, Oct 12 2010, $25.99

ISBN: 9780765322821

Repairman Jack feels like he is caught in some sort of cosmic middle between the Ally and the Otherness while also fearing that the Septimus Order united with the Kickers to kill the Lady in order enable the evil Otherness to enter earth reality.  However, even as he resents being the bodyguard of the lady, Jack is caught in a local scenario when a desperate Munir Habib pleads with the mercenary to save his family.

The Septimus Order and their nefarious allies plan to shut down the Internet.  Mr. Osala quietly encourages these cult terrorists to do so while he also prepares a newborn infected by the Otherness that he had abducted from the baby’s stunned mother Dawn Pickering to bring his prime adversary Jack to his knees.

The latest Repairman Jack thriller is a great refreshing entry in what consistently has been one of the best sagas over the past two decades (ancient history of Reagan was in the White House when he first appears).  The story line is fast-paced and filled with twists as several of the mercenary adversaries seem to have united with a common cause that starts with his death.  However though they have battled before and this is his penultimate tale, they still don’t know Jack.

Harriet Klausner

A Butterfly in Flame-Nicholas Kilmer

September 28, 2010

A Butterfly in Flame

Nicholas Kilmer

Poisoned Pen, Nov 2 2010, $24.95

ISBN 9781590587911

 

Near Boston, the Stillton Academy has financial woes.  However, a scandal also surfaces when instructor Morgan Flower and first year student Missy Tutunjian disappear apparently together from the North Shore art school; she of the bad romantic poetry happens to be the daughter of the largest donor at a time when money is tight and accreditation is critical and on the line.

Two school trustees Abe Baum and Parker Stillton visit art collector Clay Reed to ask for his help.  He asks his employee private investigator Fred Taylor to find the runaways.  Fred pretends to be Flower’s replacement at the academy so that he can work undercover.  He talks with staff and students only to learn the one common theme is a universal loathing of President Liz Harmony.  When Liz’s predecessor, Rodney Somerfest is found dead stark naked on a nearby beach, Fred interrogates the president who refuses to respond to his questions and the only famous alumni painter Basil Houel.

The latest Fred Taylor “animal” art mystery (see Madonna of the Apes and Man with a Squirrel) is a great entry as the sleuth works an art school disappearance and murder.  The story line is fast-paced with a terrific twist.  Fans of the series will enjoy Fred’s lectures as he seeks motives beyond inane poetry that would be subpar for bubblegum rock and roll.

Harriet Klausner

The Damage Done-Hilary Davidson

September 28, 2010

The Damage Done

Hilary Davidson

Forge, Sep 28 2010, $24.99

ISBN: 9780765326973

Travel journalist Lily Moore is in Spain when she learns that her drug addict younger sister Claudia apparently drowned in a bathtub.  She is stunned as this is on the same day their mom committed suicide years ago.  Hysterical Lily leaves Europe for Manhattan.

Lily goes to the morgue to identify the body only the corpse is not Claudia.  Apparently the dead stranger has impersonated Claudia for months.  NYPD detectives Norah Renfrew and “Brux” Bruxton lead the investigation in which the only suspect is the missing Claudia, but anxious Lily searches for her sibling too.  Her former boyfriend wealthy Martin Sklar keeps pushing her for a second chance, Lily finds out that Claudia had hooked up with a recently deceased pseudo-psychologist whose tendency was to get unprofessionally too close with his female patients.

Although The Damage Done contains two interrelated strong mysteries, the story line is character driven by mostly Lily.  Her need to find her sister brings a humanizing genuineness to the whodunit; especially the amateur sleuth elements as she searches irregardless of her own safety and in spite of the sibling estrangement.  Readers will want Moore thrillers like this one from Hilary Davidson.

Harriet Klausner

Blond Run-Jim Michael Hansen

September 26, 2010

Blond Run

Jim Michael Hansen

Thriller Publishing Group, Nov 15 2010, $13.95

ISBN: 9780981999395

In San Francisco, the SJK serial killer has the city panicked.  Thirtyish SFPD homicide detective Trane Ravenwood believes the killer is Condor, but lacks proof.  He illegally sneaks into the Nob Hill Victorian home of his prime suspect to find files on the victims starting with Paris Zephyr and the six other females, but no hard evidence.  Upstairs in the mansion he sees a telescope, which he looks through only to have his quarter Apache and three fourth other blood boil over with what he witness between two women in a “dungeon”.

As he struggles to take down this serial killer and how to handle what he saw, Trane knows the next SJK victim will be found dead in a few days. Complicating matters for Trane is when his department creates a SNAFU in the Grayson fiasco as the chief and a detective were fired leaving Trane in charge.  He has to conceal how he knows Condor is the killer if he does not want to join his predecessor and another detective while he also meets the dungeon mistress, attorney Trance St. Croix.

One of the best police procedural writers on the market today Jim Michael Hansen provides a great Run tale that is so dissimilar from the super Coventry “Law” cases, fans will assume a different author wrote them.  Ravenwood does things that Coventry would never do, which enhances the exciting story line.  Readers and the cop believe Condor is SJK, but to prove it in court after the Grayson flop is going to be tough.  St. Croix adds a refreshing but needed element to what is a fantastic Lombard Street crooked twisted mean streets of San Francisco noir.

Harriet Klausner

Smooth Operator-Risqué

September 26, 2010

Smooth Operator

Risqué

One World (Ballantine), Sep 28 2010, $14.00

ISBN: 9780345504326

In Holmby Hills, California resides Lyfe, a black hunk who knows he has come a long way from his Crenshaw and UPS delivery days to becoming one of the most powerful business moguls in the United States.  Any time his ego gets to super status, his wife Payton reminds him that behind almost every powerful man is a woman as she brought him from street driver to boardroom driver.

Arielle “Arri” Askew is a secretary, but needs to make real money to escape Brooklyn with her five years old nephew Zion who she raises while her sister drug addicted Samara seeks her next hit.  To be at home at night with Zion and bring in money, Arri runs the Internet sex show ASmoothOperator.pro in which she provides live bare skin web performances for her clients.  She avoids any male relationship ever since the New Year’s Eve incident with her beloved Ian when she learned he had a wife with a gun.  However, Arri meets a real Smooth Operator when she begins working for Lyfe.  As they begin an affair and fall in love, Payton plans to destroy both of them and is prepared to use the kid as her tool.

This heated Risqué street Noir proves William Congreve is right when he said in The Mourning Bride: “Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned; Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned.”   Character driven by the relationship between Mr. California and Ms. New York, readers will relish this powerful tense erotic thriller as Arri wonders if love is “déjà vu, all over again” (Yogi).

Harriet Klausner

Dead Spy Running-Jon Stock

September 25, 2010

Dead Spy Running

Jon Stock

Dunne, Nov 2010, $25.99

ISBN 9780312644765

Thirty-five thousand runners are testing for the London Marathon.  Two of them work for M16 though Agent Daniel is on suspension at full pay; the other is girlfriend Leila who worries about her lover’s mental health since his father’s death.  However, just prior to the start, another operative Myers called Leila with a warning that electronic chatter says something is going to happen at the event.

About fifty minutes into the race, Daniel notices an Asian runner wearing a belt who seems out of place.  He further sees two obvious American Secret service agents with another participant who he thinks is the U.S. Ambassador Munroe.  He realizes the Asian is wearing a bomb.  He learns the Asian is Pradeep from India and terrorists kidnapped his son with the admonition do the mission if you want your offspring to live.  The bomb is defused, but Daniel is under suspicion as a terrorist.

Dead Spy Running is a superb espionage thriller, which contains the usual suspects of foreign agents and internal moles.  However, what makes the story line super is rivalry between M16 and the CIA, M16 and M15, and the CIA and the Secret Service as each agency fails to work together, but instead prefers front dog status even if it causes problems for their respective country.  Fans will appreciate Jon Stock’s strong run.

Harriet Klausner

Negative Image-Vicki Delany

September 25, 2010

Negative Image

Vicki Delany

Poisoned Pen, Nov 2 2010, $24.95

ISBN 9781590587881

 

Along with the initial arrival of spring in Trafalgar, British Columbia comes renowned photographer Rudolph Steiner.  He plans to do a shoot on mountain tourism, but has a hidden agenda.  However, whatever his real reason for coming to this mountain resort town, someone shoots him in the back of his head in his room at the historic Hudson House Hotel.

Maid Rachel Kowalski finds the corpse.  As soon as the body is identified, Trafalgar City police sergeant John Winters recuses himself from the inquiry as his wife former model Eliza and the victim Steiner knew each other intimately at one time.  Under the antagonistic leadership of Royal Canadian Mounted Police Detective Madison, Constable Molly Smith investigates the homicide, but soon finds a horde of visitors with motives including family, employees, and rivals.  There is even one local suspect Eliza.  At the same time Molly’s dad goes to the hospital for surgery due to an accident, someone stalks her, and Smith considers a job in Toronto.

The latest Trafalgar Canadian police procedural (see In the Shadow of the Glacier, Valley of the Lost and Winter of Secrets) is a great whodunit as Molly works the case with her caring teacher replaced by an odious curmudgeon while facing two personal crises.  The story line is fast-paced from start to finish, but the tale is owned by the town and Molly as Vicki Delaney provides a wonderful regional murder mystery.

Harriet Klausner

City in Shadow-Evan Marshall

September 25, 2010

City in Shadow

Evan Marshall

Severn, Nov 1 2010, $27.95

ISBN 9780727869210

Recent Cincinnati high school graduate Patti Fairchild is coming to Manhattan to spend time with her older second cousin sanitation garage supervisor Anna Winthrop.  Patti has not made any plans for her future so Anna is excited with her relative’s visit.

At the same time that Patti is due in town, Anna’s edgy neighbor Nettie Clouchet, the “ghost blogger” is investigating Winthop for a section in her new book on local women of achievement.  To make space for her cuz in her small apartment, Anna sells a desk to Ukrainian Grigori Sidorov.  Inside Grigori’s truck sits a pretty woman who drops a note onto the sidewalk while the desk is loaded.  Anna picks up the message, which pleads: “help me”.  She gets her boyfriend, NYPD police officer Santos Reyes, who agrees the woman, may be in trouble and they should not ignore that possibility.  Nervous Nettie can’t either as a journalist.  None of them nor Patti who wanders the avenues at night know yet that their separate inquiries involve trafficking as the Kirkmore Apartments is where Death Is Disposable.

The fourth Hidden Manhattan mystery (see Dark Alley) is a gripping urban mystery in which the four “sleuths” learn where all avenues ends, but may be too late by the time they figure out the horror they investigate.  Fast-paced, readers will want to journey the streets of Manhattan along side their tour guides as mean is too soft of a descriptor.  This is all lights-on after reading thriller.

Harriet Klausner