Archive for October, 2010

The 4th Victim-Tara Taylor Quinn

October 31, 2010

The 4th Victim

Tara Taylor Quinn

Mira, Dec 1 2010, $7.99

ISBN: 9780778328353

In Chandler, Ohio psychologist Kelly Chapman keeps her distance from everyone including her patients though she diligently tries to help them and the community, which is why she is called the “Fix-it lady”.  Still even she is surprised when she agrees to be a foster parent to fourteen year old troubled Maggie Winston.  While musing about being a loner who cares, Kelly exercises by in-line skating when a car thumps her.

Because Dr. Chapman has been an expert witness on numerous trials, the FBI investigates her disappearance.  A loner like Kelly, Missing Persons Special Agent Clay Thatcher leads the inquiry.  The more he digs into the life of Dr. Chapman the more he sees the female version of himself.  Diligently working the case, he fears the woman he never met but who he is attracted to has become the 4th Victim of a serial killer.

The key to the super fourth Chapman Files thriller (see The 1st Wife, the 2nd Lie and The 3rd Secret) is that the potential romance between the lead couple is treated throughout the suspenseful story line like the early part of the movie Laura.  Different in tone from the previous files but action-packed from the moment that the in-line skating shrink is snatched.  Fans will relish this entertaining entry as Kelly is the victim and the frantic Fed knows this case has turned personal as he likes what he knows of Dr. Chapman, but fears she is dead.

Harriet Klausner


Murder In Plain Sight-Marta Perry

October 31, 2010

Murder In Plain Sight

Marta Perry

Harlequin HQN, Dec 1 2010, $7.99

ISBN: 9780373774722

In Springville, Pennsylvania, the police arrest nineteen year old Amish Thomas Esch for the murder of twenty-four year old “Englischer” Cherry Wilson.  Philadelphia based law firm Henderson, Dawes and Henderson sends junior associate lawyer Jessica Langdon to plea bargain for a lighter sentence for the Amish teen in Lancaster County.

After getting lost while seeking the woman who hired her firm Mrs. Geneva Morgan, she meets the woman’s son Trey who tells her they changed their mind.  Geneva arrives and thanks Jessica as she wants her to defend Thomas over Trey’s objection.  Although unfairly in trouble with her legal firm’s partners over the Clements and Altmiller cases and knowing defending the teen will add to her job tsuris, Jessica decides to defend Thomas in court after meeting Mrs. Morgan, the teen and his family.  Trey is irate as he wants his mother to stay out of the brutal homicide case and firmly believes Thomas murdered Cherry.  Jessica diligently works the defense while studying the Amish culture.  However, someone wants the case resolved with Thomas locked away and that adversary begins a dangerous assault on the Philadelphia lawyer with Tey still dealing with his dad’s suicide at her side.

Murder In Plain Sight is an engaging Amish legal romantic suspense tale that readers will enjoy.  The Amish background anchors the locale while the romance between the lawyer and her critic is slowly developed.  Although the ending feels rushed and incomplete with an odd late motivation for the Wilson murder, Marta Perry provides a delightful thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Thieves Like Us-Starr Ambrose

October 30, 2010

Thieves Like Us

Starr Ambrose

Pocket, Nov 30 2010, $7.99

ISBN: 9781439181294

With her divorce from her criminal spouse Westfield final, Janet Aims looks forward to her new life as a single.  Part of moving on, though somewhat symbolic, is to pawn the jewelry he gave her.  However, her plan goes awry right away as she is accused of being a jewel thief since one of her items she tried to sell is a necklace belonging to the stolen Pellini Collection.

Her hope for proving her innocence resides with former jewel thief convict Rocky Hernandez who she has avoided even though she is attracted to him as she does not need another felon in her life.  Rocky agrees to help her because he loves Janet, but has taken it slow waiting for her to move past her divorce.  Cops and robbers are after her as her car and condo are ransacked and only Rocky stands in their way especially when he goes back to his thieving roots to find the missing loot.

The sequel to Lie to Me is a fast-paced enjoyable romantic crime caper starring a likable lead couple caught in a frantic scenario as everyone except Rocky assumes Janet has the jewels when her aim is to start over.  Although the support cast at times overwhelms the plot with so much going on, readers will enjoy Thieves Like Us as Janet just wants move on while Rocky wants her to move on with him, but the world intrudes.

Harriet Klausner

Blood and Fire-Nick Brownlee

October 30, 2010

Blood and Fire

Nick Brownlee

Minotaur, Nov 9 2010, $25.99

ISBN: 9780312550240

In Mombassa former British police detective turned Kenyan fishing boat skipper Jake Moore’s business partner Martha Brantley has returned to New York where she is murdered.  FBI Agent Clarence Bryson, who tried to warn her, believes her assassination has to do with Moore’s assistance to Kenyan Detective Inspector Daniel Jouma, which devastated a human-trafficking ring (see Bait). 

Bryson and Agent McCrickerd travel to Mombassa because they believe the deadly gang is cleaning up by killing those who impeded their lucrative business with Moore at the top of the hit list.  The American Feds trace the series of murders to a professional team of assassins tied to the traffickers.  Jouma struggles with government corruption, cronyism, bribes and incompetence while investigating a missing nun case and a local homicide as the new mayor wants him fired.  Finally Jake tries to get back to his fishing boat business, but the suits are planning progress that will destroy his locale Flamingo Bay.

Although too much is going on too quickly, readers will appreciate this powerful Kenyan crime thriller as the bad guys are clearly defined early when a killer takes a knife to Martha’s cat.  Ironically the readers know much earlier than the cops and former cop who the psychopaths are, but that will not matter to the audience, as the action never stops.  With a strong sense of locale, armchair warriors will enjoy the latest African adventure and want Moore from Nick Brownlee.

Harriet Klausner

Unwelcome Light-David Lehner

October 30, 2010

Unwelcome Light

David Lehner

Fithian Press, Sep 1 2010, $12.95

ISBN: 9781564744999

Three years ago, his dad gave his fortyish son a letter which the latter misplaced.  A year later, his father died and at the funeral his aunt asked if he read the letter he received from his dad at his uncle’s funeral last year.  The man admits he never did having misplaced it.  His aunt explains his father the man who raised him was not his father.

Stunned, he needs to know who his biological father was and what happened.  He obtains a teaching position at the school his “father” was the headmaster at for years.  His classes include Intro Greek, Level Two Latin and Advanced Greek with his most challenging student being Natalie.  He also finds a classmate from when he went to the school, married teacher Elizabeth.  As he makes inquiries, he recalls when his dad thought he may have stolen money only to have it turn out to be the son of his father’s bitter rival.  However, as he gets closer to the truth his rival from school arrives and soon whispers begin that he is having affairs with Natalie and Elizabeth.

This is exciting thriller as the lead character, aptly having no name, investigates his roots only to land in all sorts of trouble as the truth does not always set you free.  Readers will relish David Lehner’s riveting character driven tale starring the unnamed narrator who learns the hard way some people reject an Unwelcome Light shined on them.

Harriet Klausner

Rogue Island-Bruce Desilva

October 27, 2010

Rogue Island

Bruce Desilva

Forge, Oct 12 2010, $24.99

ISBN: 9780765327260

In Providence, Rhode Island, a serial arsonist is torching the Mount Hope section over the last three months with nine fires and five corpses.  Reporter Liam Mulligan wants to catch the murderer who has killed friends and acquaintances from his old neighborhood.  The city residents are in a panic as the police and fire department seem helpless.

Mulligan’s inquiry is enabled by a horde of collaborators stonewalled by a stunning coalition of cops, fire inspectors, politicians and landlords who make up the seamier underbelly of the city.  Lawyers are thrown at him and the newspaper with threats to bankrupt the paper.  The case turns even nastier when the police probe Mulligan insisting they have probable cause to name him a person of interest.

The key element to this strong arson investigative noir is the support cast of hookers, runners, bookies and hoods who make the atmosphere come darkly alive and mouthy Mulligan fit as one of them.  The whodunit is cleverly devised to keep readers’ attention with a strong spin that will stun the audience.  However, it is the denizen of the streets of the Mount Hope neighborhood especially in contrast to the “Suits” who make this an exhilarating mystery.

Harriet Klausner

The Last Confession-Solomon Jones

October 27, 2010

The Last Confession

Solomon Jones

Minotaur, Nov 9 2010, $24.99

ISBN: 9780312580209

A mass killer calling himself “the Angel of Death” murders three people in a church.  The police arrest Father Thomas O’Reilly, who is convicted and sentenced to death.  In spite of the overwhelming evidence against the priest that he committed the Confessional Killings, Philadelphia homicide detective who led the investigation Michael Coletti had doubts.

Now a decade since the killings, Coletti is near retirement after over three decades on the force but as the O’Reilly execution date nears, his sense that the wrong man was convicted remains strong especially when he poorly sleeps.  When homicides similar to that of the Angel of Death occur, Coletti believes the culprit has returned.  He, police detective Charles Mann, and Pennsylvania state police profiler Mary Smithson try to solve the killings with clues that lead back to Coletti and the long time homicide detective’s old cases.

Super Solomon Jones provides a strong gritty police procedural in which the author merges his Street Lit roots into a grim Philadelphia whodunit.  The story line is fast-paced as the audience is hooked wanting to accompany the cops as they investigate the new wave of murders.  Although the final confrontation fits the key cast personalities and the inquiry (from a Monday morning quarterback perspective), it feels too simple yet somehow apropos as Mr. Jones with his unique voice is a great welcome to the sub-genre.

Harriet Klausner

One Grave Less-Beverly Connor

October 26, 2010

One Grave Less

Beverly Connor

Obsidian, Dec 7 2010, $7.99

ISBN: 9780451231802

At the River Trail Museum of Natural History, curator Diane Fallon is working late when she finds two wounded individuals in separate rooms.  She recognizes one of them Simone Brooks as a World Accord International human rights activist who she worked with in South America.  The woman holding a child’s femur in a death grip mumbles “It was one of us” before collapsing into a coma.  Security calls for an ambulance for the first victim, but when Diane calls for a second ambulance, she learns no previous call was made and soon smells smoke in the room with the victim she does not know.

Not long after the nocturnal incident, Diane becomes the focus of a diabolical assault.  Her identity is stolen and soon after she is accused by law enforcement of committing a murder when she worked in Brazil.  Diane, her museum team and her fiancé Frank begin the counter attack trying to uncover who is behind the assault and why.

This is a brilliant mystery as not only does Beverly Connor tie Diane’s work in South America to the present case, the author also links back to her Lindsay Chamberlain series without missing a beat.  The story line action-packed from the first moan and never slows down until the final confrontation as the past and present subplots excitingly mingle.  However, adding to the fun is an overarching theme twist that is unexpected yet seems plausible.  Fans of Ms. Connor will relish One Grave Less.

Harriet Klausner

The Lion of Cairo-Scott Oden

October 26, 2010

The Lion of Cairo

Scott Oden

Dunne, Dec 7 2010, $25.99

ISBN: 9780312372934

In the impregnable Afghan mountaintop, Alamut the Hidden Master of the Assassins sends his top assistant Assad on deadly missions.  So when Alamut gives Assad his latest task, he assumes he will assassinate an enemy.  Instead his job is to keep the young caliph of Cairo safe from insidious enemies so as to arrange an alliance between Cairo and Alamut.

The task seems easy until Assad realizes how much peril Cairo is in.  The Christian king of Jerusalem Amalric wants to use the lad to further his plans of tightening his control and Nur-ad-Din, Sultan of Damascus wants to own the Caliph or kill him.  . Amalric leads his army while Nur-ad-Din’s loyal Kurdish general leads another.  At the same time while ambition explodes, the grand Vizier plots to kill Assad, the Templars and Cairo.  As Assad struggles to keep the Caliph safe, a rogue Assassin necromancer has murdered his allies, but he has himself, his magical sword and three kick-butt females; more than enough to defeat armies and traitors.

With a nod to Robert E Howard, The Lion of Cairo is a super sword and sorcery historical fantasy filled with blood and gore from the fresh perspective of an Arab.  Assad is terrific as he uses masquerades, a special sword that loves to kill the Crusaders especially the Templars and is co-mingled with an ancient demonic salawar.  He works the shadows so well even the infidel Europeans quietly call him “Emir of the Knife”.  Scott Oden provides a delightful twist on the Crusades and the Templars due to their enemy assassin.

Harriet Klausner

South Phoenix Rules-Jon Talton

October 25, 2010

South Phoenix Rules

Jon Talton

Poisoned Pen, Dec 7 2010, $24.95

ISBN: 9781590588147

NYU Professor Jax Delgado came to Phoenix to conduct research for his next book.  In town, he meets Robin and they begin dating.  However, soon afterward, Delgado is viciously murdered.  The acrimonious lead PPD Detective Sergeant Kate Vare believes the homicide is related to drug cartel activity.

While his wife Lindsay is in DC, historian and just resigned deputy police officer David Mapstone feels for his sister-in-law as he liked Delgado too, but this is not his type of case.  He worked mostly cold cases providing a fresh perspective.  However, those who killed Delgado are after Robin too.  This makes the case his as far as David is concerned.  As he investigates, he finds himself digging deep into a part of the city mostly concealed from the public; a place where human, weapons and drugs are trafficked without regard to the law.

The latest Mapstone mystery (see Arizona Dreams) has several interesting twists including in his personal life as the former cold case cop works the gutters of Phoenix.  The story line is action-packed from the moment Robin opens the box and never slows down until the final confrontation.  Readers will root for the professor as he risks his life and freedom trying to keep his sister-in-law safe.

Harriet Klausner