Archive for September, 2010

Dangerous to Know-Tasha Alexander

September 25, 2010

Dangerous to Know

Tasha Alexander

Minotaur, Nov 1 2010, $24.99

ISBN 9780312383794

In 1892, Lady Emily Hargreaves heals at her husband Colin’s family estate near Rouen in Normandy from her harrowing time trapped in a cavernous cistern underneath Constantinople (see Tears of Pearl).  Her emotional recovery is somewhat thwarted by her formidable mother-in-law Anne, who lucidly yet tacitly insures Emily knows she disapproves of her honeymoon behavior and what soon happens at the estate.

Emily is riding a horse when she finds a mutilated female body.  The police are called and Inspector Gaudet leads the inquiry though Emily believes he is incompetent.  She later learns the butchered victim is an escaped inmate from a nearby insane asylum and that the knife wounds suggest Jack the Ripper left London for France.  Unable to ignore what she saw, Emily investigates but fears for her mind as she keeps hearing a child’s voice but none seem nearby,

Dangerous to Know is a pleasant late Victorian Era whodunit though readers will doubt the company of the inspector and the amateur sleuth.  The relationship between Emily and Anne enhances the story line as does the French countryside and the trek into Rouen.  Although the detecting never comes across as strong as Emily’s’ efforts before she married (see A Poisoned Season and Only to deceives), fans will enjoy this entertaining historical.

Harriet Klausner

The Twelfth Imam-Joel C. Rosenberg

September 25, 2010

The Twelfth Imam

Joel C. Rosenberg

Tyndale, Oct 19 2010, $26.99

ISBN: 9781414311630

In the Islamic Republic of Iran, the civilian leadership feverishly pushes the nuclear weapons program as the Ayatollah demands Muslims begin the Jihad to destroy Israel, American and the rest of the infidel west.  However, this time it is different as citation from Holy Scripture claims the End of Days apocalypse is now as the Twelfth Imam will surface to lead Islam to glorious victory in the name of Allah.

The CIA takes this fundamentalist threat more seriously than the usual babble from President Ahmadinejad because this danger comes from the religious leaders making the proclamations.  Soon, rumors fly across the Middle East and beyond that a cleric claiming to be the Mahdi messiah has begun performing miracles.  Since the family of CIA operative David Shirazi fled Iran when the Khomeini Revolution occurred in 1979, he fluently speaks Farsi; thus he is assigned to go to Teheran to sabotage the Iranian nuclear weapons program, a key element in Armageddon.

This is a great thriller that uses twentieth century history, present day economics and politics and scripture from biblical holy books to tell a terrific Islamic perspective to the End of Days belief as the Twelfth Imam is the messiah.  Fast-paced from the moment David treks to Iran and never slowing down, Joel C. Rosenberg provides a powerful tale that readers will appreciate.

Harriet Klausner

Voyeur-Daniel Judson

September 24, 2010


Daniel Judson

Minotaur, Sep 28 2010, $24.99

ISBN: 9780312383619

In 2003 in Manhattan, intrepid private investigator Remer is conducting surveillance of a couple for a client who warned him her spouse is dangerous.  While parked, four men corner him; two with guns drawn professionally.  A third attacks him with a stun gun shooting 25 K volts into Remer.  They take him from his vehicle into their SUV and drive across the Williamsburg Bridge to Brooklyn.  They complete their assault by carving Voyeur onto his chest.

Years later, mentally Remer remains emotionally fragile while hiding from everyone; as he runs a liquor store in Southampton.  However, his friend from his sleuthing days, police detective Kay Barton finds him and asks him to hire Mia Ferrara to work at his store though she lacks experience.  Reluctantly he does, but she stole 80 K from him before vanishing.  Kay informs him that Mira is missing and that the woman’s mother Evelyn wants to meet him to beg him to find her daughter.  Instead of what he expected from the mom, when they meet, the frightened woman says her daughter’s disappearance is the first step that will end in Evelyn’s death.

This is an exciting character driven private investigative thriller.  The story line starts off as a Manhattan Noir, but quickly switches to a Long Island anti-Noir, and soon turns into a hesitant Noir as Remer is unsure he can get back in the saddle.  Fast-paced, Remer knows he owes the Frenchman and his thugs, but his chest reminds him what the cost is.

Harriet Klausner

Edge-Jeffery Deaver

September 24, 2010


Jeffery Deaver

Simon & Schuster, Nov 2 2010, $26.99

ISBN 9781439156353

Henry Loving is perhaps the best “lifter” there is as he can get anyone to provide him the information he requires.  He is especially adept at torturing his targets, but what makes him the absolute top gun is his uncanny ability to find the lever that gives him the Edge, which makes everyone he aims at dance to his tune.  No one pushes people buttons like he does.

Federal government Strategic Protection Department “shepherd” Agent Corte protects targets from lifters.  An intercepted message names Loving as the lifter directed to extract information from DC metro detective Ryan Kessler.  Corte is assigned to keep Ryan from harm and his family safe so they cannot be used as pawns.  He is also trying to identify who hired Loving.  Meanwhile the lifter works on finding the means to get what he needs from the cop.

Though over the top, readers will not care as the Corte-Loving grandmaster chess match is a superb cat and mouse thriller in which readers will keep changing their mind as to who the feline is and who the rodent is in this deadly cerebral contest.  The story line is fast-paced and loaded with action as each keeps placing the other in check, but checkmate seems just out of reach.  Jeffery Deaver is at his entertaining best with this High Noon confrontation between the two best gunslingers in the world.

Harriet Klausner

Bomber Bombs-David Champion

September 23, 2010

Bomber Bombs

David Champion

Alfred A. Knoll, Nov 1 2010, $

ISBN: 9781888310498

Cal Southern alumni football booster club honcho Clarence “Dixie” Dixon wants to hire the best defense attorney on the West Coast Bomber Hanson to defend ten players accused of rape.  Dixie drives to Angleton to explain that the guys put up a hundred each for a stripper to perform.  Mimi Parquette persuaded District Attorney Web Granger she is telling the truth.  Dixie fears that if the boys are convicted of being boys, the team would lose its national ranking and fire Coach Eddleman.

Bomber assigns his son Tod to do the leg work before deciding to accept the case though he hates football as a barbaric endeavor.  At trial, Judge McKorkle clearly shows his favoritism is towards the prosecution who brought a looker to sit at his table.  Bomber collapses in court and is rushed to the hospital.  The defendants, the judge, the D.A., the paying client, the coach, mom, and his girlfriend Joan expect Tod to take over the defense; everyone that is except stuttering unconfident Tod.

This is an entertaining legal thriller that is taken from the recent headlines (the story line references the Duke Lacrosse team).  Tod tells the tale even when the “Bombastic” one takes the lead.  The sports cast are three dimensional people though to a degree stereotypical while Bomber’s family, associates, and the other side enhance the differences between father and son.  Although a ploy used by Bomber seems inappropriate even with his late rationalization, readers will relish this exciting entry (see Easy Come, Easy Go) as Tod comes off the bench to run the team’s defense with a strong offense.

Harriet Klausner

A Stranger in Mayfair-Charles Finch

September 23, 2010

A Stranger in Mayfair

Charles Finch

Minotaur, Nov 9 2010, $24.99

ISBN: 9780312625061

In Victorian England, Charles Lenox, son of and brother to a baronet, is euphoric to marry his beloved lifelong friend and new wife, Lady Jane Grey.  Since they resided in adjoining houses, they hired an architect to create a larger abode out of the two smaller homes. 

His simple life becomes complicated when he responds to the doorbell.  An acquaintance Ludwig Starling wants Charles, a private investigator who has solved cases that baffled the Yard, to uncover who killed his footman Frederick Clarke.  Although Charles wants to be ready for the next session of parliament as he an active member, he cannot resist the lure of an investigation.  Charles finds no dark documents when he inquires inside of his client’s home.  Lenox and Starling visit the alley where Clarke was murdered only to have someone stab Ludwig.  The butler is arrested but Charles knows he is innocent even when the man confesses.  What Charles does not know could kill him as the culprit overtly observes his every move in plain sight.

The newest Lenox Victorian mystery (see the Fleet Street Murders) once again brings history and the culture of the era alive inside a strong whodunit.  However, make no mistake the tale belongs to Lenox.  The hero understands society’s rules especially limitations, but ignores the prejudicial class aspects.  For instance his occupation as a private investigator is considered as lowly trade by high society, but Lenox couldn’t care less as sleuthing gives him special satisfaction.  He loves his wife, but is also extremely grateful that in spite of her being a Lady and worried about his safety she encourages her forty years old husband to detect.

Harriet Klausner

The Lies That Bind-Kate Carlisle

September 22, 2010

The Lies That Bind

Kate Carlisle

Obsidian, Nov 2 2010, $7.99

ISBN:  9780451231697

The Executive Artistic Director of the Bay Area Books Arts Center (BABA), a bitch on wheels; thinks so highly of book binder Brooklyn Wainwright she has her teach a class on the subject and restoring the BABA collection.  No one likes Layla Fontaine, who stepped on bodies on her way to the top using lies, intimidation, and cheating as her means to success.

Somebody loathed Layla enough to kill her; no one, not even her niece Naomi, in BABA misses her though Layla brought in millions.  Brooklyn wants to find out who killed Layla.  With the help of security agent Derek, she investigates.  They learn that Layla was the ringleader of a book fraud business and soon find the corpse of Mr. Soo who bought one of the phony tomes.  When Brooklyn takes Derek to her hometown of Dhearm; they meet Gabriel a con artist who risked his life to save others.  An unknown adversary wounds Gabriel.  Brooklyn thinks all the deaths are connected, but Gabriel was not part of the fraud so Derek thinks his shooting is a coincidence.  Soon the amateur will prove right, but hopefully not dead right.

The latest Bibliophile mystery (see if Books Could Kill) feels like an amalgam of James Bond and Jessica Fletcher and  Brooklyn feels like a murder magnet who feels bound to investigate while the pros who surround her feel a need to protect her but not stifle her.  Excitingly action-packed, The Lies that Bind amateur sleuth fans into a fast-paced read.

Harriet Klausner

Secrets Of Harmony Grove-Mindy Starns Clark

September 21, 2010

Secrets Of Harmony Grove

Mindy Starns Clark

Harvest House, Oct 1 2010, $13.99

ISBN: 9780736926256

After losing her marketing executive job due to some sort of US Attorney General investigation of her, Sienna Collins considers moving onto the property she inherited from her late grandfather in Harmony Grove, Pennsylvania.  Based on the advice of her then boyfriend Troy Griffin, Sienna and her dad converted the place into a successful Lancaster County Bed and Breakfast though she has not been there in a couple of years. 

Still in Boston, Sienna tries to figure out what just happened to her when Troy calls.  Sienna heads to the B&B only to find Troy dead and already in legal trouble, she is only suspect.  As she investigates, she finds ties to the Holocaust and increased suspicion by the cops that she is dangerous while someone watches her every move.

The key to this strong suspense thriller is a romantic subplot remains mostly in the background supporting the prime theme of a woman in trouble.  The story line is fast-paced from the moment that Sienna is suspended from her job and never slows down as she and the readers try to figure out what is going on in this complicated mystery.  Although the climax seems too simple for such a complex plot, fans will relish learning the Secrets of Harmony Cove.

Harriet Klausner

The Shimmering Blond Sister-David Handler

September 21, 2010

The Shimmering Blond Sister

David Handler

Minotaur, Oct 12 2010, $24.99

ISBN: 9780312574857

The affluent residents of Dorset, Connecticut want the Dorset Flasher caught.  The culprit has upset the wealthy patrons of the Dorset Historic District as he does his thing every weekend; taunting the cops with ability to get in and out without being caught.

Police officer Des Mitry believes Augie Dinatelli is the Flasher, but lacks evidence.  The cop and the suspect have several public arguments so when the latter is murdered; Mitry becomes the prime suspect in the homicide.  The beleaguered African American police officer turns to her former lover, New York Jewish film critic Mitch Berger for help on proving her innocence.

The latest Berger and Mitry mystery (see Sweet Golden Parachute and The Sour Cherry Surprise) is an engaging tale in which the reader gets inside the heads of the lead couple.  This enables the audience to understand how each feels about not fitting the town’s predominant profile.  The whodunit inquiry is well done as B and M work the case methodically, but in many ways the investigative subplot feels more supportive of comprehending the motives of people especially Mitry to live and work in a sea of mostly rich upper class whites.

Harriet Klausner

Swift Justice-Laura DiSilverio

September 21, 2010

Swift Justice

Laura DiSilverio

Minotaur, Oct 12 2010, $24.99

ISBN: 9780312641504

Charlotte “Charlie” Swift always knew she preferred her own company over any entanglements.  Eight years as an Air Force military investigator affirmed her feelings that she would rather work alone.  After leaving the service, Charlie opens up a private investigative firm in Colorado Springs.  She has the perfect partner, Goldman, who puts up money and stays out of her way.

When Goldman flees as a fugitive from the law due to his financial shenanigans, Charlie is stunned.  Her firm is near bankrupt with debt and she no longer has a silent partner as Goldman’s wife Gigi takes over his interest and shows up at the office as she plans to work there.  Charlie wants the socialite out of the office so she can return to being hardboiled instead of cute kittens on the wall.  She assigns Gigi the worst projects imaginable such as doing undercover work as a fast food chain mascot.  However, whereas Charlie’s in your face with a fist approach fails on their current case; Gigi’s girly girl make nice gets people to talk.  The two women seek a teen mother who abandoned her baby on the doorstep of their client, who years ago gave up her baby for adoption.

The key to this delightful private investigator mystery is the pairing of the opposites as pampered and street wise make for amusing scenarios, but when it comes to the serious search for the mom the story line leaves the banter back at the office.  Though this type of teaming has been done before (for instance, Lynda Carter and Loni Anderson in Partners In Crime), readers will enjoy the antics of Charlie and Gigi as the unlikely duet work the streets of Colorado Springs.

Harriet Klausner