Archive for October, 2010

Reapers-Frederick Ramsay

October 25, 2010


Frederick Ramsay

Poisoned Pen, Dec 1 2010, $24.95

ISBN 9781590588062

The corpse is found in Botswana’s Chobe National Park.  The cause of death for the male victim was a gunshot. Chobe National Park game ranger Sanderson and police officer Kgabo Modise team up to investigate the homicide.

Sanderson’s mind is not on the case as her son is dying of pneumonia caused by AIDS.  On the other hand, Modise is euphoric about the opportunity to use his FBI trained skills.  He knows he is expendable to work this case as his superiors are more focused on the World Cup overflow from host South Africa that could lead to a crime wave especially smuggling.

Closer in tone to Michael Stanley’s tales of police detective David “Kubu” Bengu (see A Carrion Death) than Alexander McCall Smith’s No. 1 Ladies’ Detective (see The Double Comfort safari Club), Reapers is a strong Botswana police procedural (see Predators).  The story line is action-packed as Sanderson and Modise investigate the Chobe National park homicide while much of the police and the country are focused on the World Cup hosted by their neighbor.  Although the Russian gangsters seem out of place, readers will relish this strong whodunit with insight into the save the continent “Orgonize Africa” movement based on questionable science.

Harriet Klausner

Threats at Three-Ann Purser

October 25, 2010

Threats at Three

Ann Purser

Berkley, Dec 7 2010, $23.95

ISBN: 9780425237052

The villagers of Long Farnden, England want to raise the money to refurbish the village hall.  The community meets to discuss plans including who does what with electrician Derek Meade chosen as the lead of the fundraising subcommittee.

Not everyone is euphoric over the Village Hall Renovation Fund-Raising renovation plan to “save our shed”.  Some feel it is a waste of money and prefer nothing occur while one person fears her spouse will cause trouble for the townsfolk.  New Broome cleaning business owner Lois Meade becomes embroiled in the middle trying to prevent a calamity from happening.  However she fails as the first corpse is found leading to Inspector Cowgill investigating the homicide and Lois “helping” him.

Well written, the latest Lois Meade amateur sleuth (see Warning at One and Tragedy at Two) is an engaging tale that spends most of the story line on a small village politics when an issue divides the community.  The support ensemble cast is solid as each picks a side in the community debate.  However, the whodunit takes a back seat to the increasingly divisive ugly fight to shed or not to shed.

Harriet Klausner

Critical Condition-CJ Lyons

October 24, 2010

Critical Condition

CJ Lyons

Jove, Nov 30 2010, $7.99

ISBN: 9780515148688

In Pittsburgh several staff and visitors at Angels of Mercy Hospital were shot by a hit man.  Detective Jerry Boyle received the worst injury.  The killer escaped, but also failed to kill his intended victim.  Boyle’s girlfriend Dr. Gina Freeman worries about him because he is not same since he took the shot to the head. 

On New Year’s Eve, a blizzard shuts down the streets and strands everyone at the hospital.  The trapped includes the killer and his cohorts who plan to finish the job even if it means leaving a blood bath behind.  These predators take charge with hostages.  ER Charge Nurse Nora Halloran and medical rotational student Amanda Mason worry inside the facility, outside the hospital remains frantic ER Dr. Linda Fiore

The latest Angels of Mercy medical thriller (See Urgent Care, Warning signs and Lifelines) is a fantastic fast-paced finish to a strong hospital saga.  Loaded with action but a bit over the top of PNC Park, readers will be hooked from the moment the killers begin taking over the hospital.  With a neat late twist, fans will appreciate this terrific tale that inside an exciting plot showcases how far four women have come since CJ Lyons introduced them to fans two years ago.  Perhaps a four-novella sequel to see where each is in five to ten years would be wonderful.

Harriet Klausner

The Midnight Show Murders-Al Roker and Dick Lochte

October 24, 2010

The Midnight Show Murders

Al Roker and Dick Lochte

Delacorte, Nov 23 2010, $26.00

ISBN: 9780385343695

Although his doubts creep up and down his spine without a respite, Manhattan’s Blessing Bistro’s owner and the Morning Show TV personality Chef Billy Blessing returns to Los Angeles for a job.  He joins a new nighttime talk show O’Day at Night.  Billy soon knows his gut was right when someone murders Des O’Day host of the show.

Billy believes the homicide is tied to a cold case killing of his friend Tiffany Arden over two decades ago.  That homicide is why Billy fled Southern California as the person Roger Charbonnet he suspected committed the crime threatened to kill him if he remained in town.  To his shock Charbonnet asks Billy to investigate the murder of O’Day.

The second Chef Blessing culinary amateur sleuth takes the hero across the continent where he becomes embroiled in a murder mystery.  The culprit is relatively easy to spot, but no one will care as the fun in the story line is Blessing’s tour of Hollywood.  Readers will root for the writing team of Al Roker and Dick Lochte to cook up another entertaining tale of murder and TV meals.

Harriet Klausner

A Killing in Real Estate-Michael Castleman

October 24, 2010

A Killing in Real Estate

Michael Castleman

MacAdam/Cage, Jul 10 2010, $13.00

ISBN: 9781596923652

A serial arsonist has been lighting up the Mission District.  San Francisco Foghorn columnist Ed Rosenberg is concerned as the latest inferno was just a few blocks from the renovated Victorian where he, his wife Julie and their two kids (ten years old Sonya and infant Jake) live.  He could smell the flames three blocks away

Although he did not sleep well and Julie pushed him again for them to move, Ed meets his friend from the paper real estate reporter Ryan Duffy for brunch and a discussion on a 1934 diary kept by his grandfather, a longshoreman during the bloody acrimonious strike; the scribble is impossible to read for a layman so Ryan hopes historian Ed can translate it.  Ed arrives to find a naked Ryan dead; bound as if an S&M tryst turned ugly.  Stunned he takes the diary with him and begins interpreting what looks like an arson’s scribble.  Motivated Ed investigates his friend’s death and the fires creeping closer to his abode.

The 1934 diary refreshes the exciting investigative whodunit as the readers learns of a nasty period in San Francisco history.  The present day inquiry into the murder and especially the serial arsons is cleverly designed as the audience wonders who is lighting the fires and why.  A Killing in Real Estate is a fabulous San Francisco treat.

Harriet Klausner

The Redemption of Holly Dobson-C. Lynn Barton

October 24, 2010

The Redemption of Holly Dobson

C. Lynn Barton

Dark Willow Books, Sep 30 2010, $16.95

ISBN: 9780615349411

Holly Dobson understands her name quite well.  Her simple first name denotes sweet and stable, which she is not and her surname comes from her adopted parents who bestowed her with her basic needs of food and shelter, but nothing else.  She is like the Holly trees she planted in front of her Illinois home; or perhaps the red berries of the trees is more descriptive as they look beautiful on the outside but are inedible as twenty of them will kill anyone.

Holly knows one thing: society considers her evil because she will do anything to protect her son and grandson.  She knows she takes the family values mantra to an extreme, but so what she rationalizes is that not what the politicians say to do until you do it.  As she smokes her Meerschaum pipe, Holly muses about life with George Dobson, who mentors her on all things evil or perhaps it is her who teaches him the evil facts of life.  She is the daughter, the mother and the grandmother while he is the son and father. 

Told by the title character looking back on her life one puff at a time, The Redemption of Holly Dobson is a deep thought provoking psychological thriller that ponders the essence of what is evil.  The story line looks at nurturing vs. naturing while using hyperbole to skewer the family values mojo practitioners who conveniently surface during elections and dark incidents.  Holly, her son and her grandson Simon are strong individuals with apparent an evil DNA flowing through their cells.  Elderly, the matriarch reflects on her life and its impact on her descendants as it is with them she believes she can claim redemption as a caring mother and grandmother who will do and has done anything for her progeny; as her family right or wrong is her family.

Harriet Klausner

The Nostradamus Prophecies-Mario Reading

October 23, 2010

The Nostradamus Prophecies

Mario Reading

Dunne, Nov 23 2010, $24.99

ISBN 9780312643799

In Paris, a Gypsy Babel Samana insists he possesses the reported for centuries missing fifty-eight predictions that Nostradamus supposedly wrote down but concealed.  The other 942 quatrains have been printed and analyzed numerous times, but no one has seen in centuries the complete set of ten verses for ten centuries.  Achor Bale believed him and demanded the document, but when Samana fled, he killed the Gypsy.

French Surete suspect American writer Adam Sabir as the killer. He flees France and Spain accompanied by Babel’s witch sister Yola.  Adam believes Nostradamus left the Lost Predictions with the Gypsies for safe keeping.  Pursuing the pair is the assassin with “freakishly clotted eyes” Achor Bale, whose secret group wants ownership of the cache as they believe that Nostradamus mentioned an Antichrist triad of Napoleon, Hitler, and someone to come.  Meanwhile though his peers remain confident that Sabir is a killer, French Police Nationale Captain Joris Calque thinks otherwise, leaning towards Bale as the amoral ruthless murderer.

Although this is another Brownian 101 thriller; fans will appreciate this exciting tale due to the insight into The Nostradamus Prophecies especially why some believe there are fifty-eight unpublished. Calque brings freshness as a diligent intelligent police officer whose professional inquiry is welcome because it is rare in a sect conspiracy tale.  Fast-paced from the moment Bale stabs Samana, fans will enjoy the opening act as Nostradamus scholar Mario Reading shines a light on the legendary seer inside of an action-packed thriller.

Harriet Klausner

The Price of Life-Greg McCarthy

October 23, 2010

The Price of Life

Greg McCarthy

Otherworld Publications, Sep 2010, $19.95

4949 Old Brownsboro Rd, Suite 113

Louisville, KY 402222

ISBN: 9780982649459

Eight years old Jennifer Haller suffers from a brain tumor that is too late to just remove.  The insurance company denies coverage of what they deem is an “experimental” operation to remove the tumor.  Her father U.S. Marine Captain Ed Haller comes home from his fourth tour of Iraq to bury his child and his belief in the American way.

He and his wife Julie hire lawyer Grant Mercer to sue a doctor who failed to order an MRI when Jennifer’s ailment was still operational.  However, the medical malpractice suit is difficult to prove as the doctors and insurance companies with their lawyers refuse to cooperate; abetted by Texas state politicians who decided a life lost due to medical negligence is worth no more than $250,000.   As a senator, lobbyist and insurance executive are murdered; Captain Haller sits stoically less a limb lost to an IED staring at witnesses providing depositions.  

Clearly biased on one side of the debate on malpractice lawsuits, Greg McCarthy provides a strong legal thriller that will leave readers questioning the ethics of the health-jurisprudence system that buys politicians.  The story line is fast-paced from the moment Jennifer dies and never slows down as no one takes responsibility for her death except perhaps her father who is filled with remorse that he chose his country over his family.  Although much of the cast except for grieving guilt laden dad is not fully fleshed out and the homicides seem unnecessary even if exciting, readers will enjoy this deep look at The Price of Life.

Harriet Klausner

The Last Run-Greg Rucka

October 23, 2010

The Last Run

Greg Rucka

Bantam, Oct 26 2010, $26.00

ISBN:  9780553804751

Thirtyish, she had been doing field work for years. British agent Tara Chace knows her job has a short time frame as evident by the death of her lover Tom Wallace in Saudi Arabia; yet, she felt she would go on forever as a Minder.  Then came the fall from a rung at re-training school; a type of climb she had done twenty-nine times before without incident; she realizes her almost decade was up as her aching bones insist it is time for a desk and teaching role.

Although Tara is ready to come in from the cold, her superiors have one last errand for her.  An enigmatic cryptic note has surfaced from Tehran in which the eldest nephew of the Supreme leader Ayatollah Khomeini, Hossein, may be defecting.  It also may be a brilliant ruse for the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and Security to lure enemies into Iran to exploit them like they paraded the American Embassy workers.  Tara and her extraction team sneak into Tehran knowing a double cross is likely, but though she feels her age, she refuses to be hunted when she remains a deadly predator.

The latest Queen and Country espionage thriller (see Gentlemen’s Game and Private War) is a super entry due to Tara’s waning confidence.  She knows her time in the field is over, but dedication, loyalty and honor has her make The Last Run.  Ironically, readers sort of know somewhat the danger that awaits Tara and her team in Tehran although keep in mind Greg “the magician” Rucka is the author so even a dead rabbit might be pulled out of the hat.  Fast-paced from the opening training mishap until the final confrontation, fans will relish this Tara Chace kick butt spy thriller.

Harriet Klausner

The Evangeline-D.W. Buffa

October 23, 2010

The Evangeline

D.W. Buffa

Blue Zephyr, Jul 28 2010, $12.99

ISBN: 9781452826097

Learning from the mistakes of nautical disasters like the Titanic, the Evangeline was constructed to never sink; yet the designer insured the vessel contained every reliable electronic high tech gizmo on the market and also safety escapes like enough lifeboats just in case. 

However, history repeats itself when the unsinkable Evangeline sinks off the African Atlantic coast during a torrential storm and in spite of mundane safety precautions only one lifeboat makes it off the ship.  The tiny lifeboat contains fourteen survivors including Captain Vincent Marlowe.  Weeks later as the stored food and water supplies that were on board were depleted, only one source remained.  Forty days at sea, the survivors of the Evangeline are rescued; six people including the captain who is charged with multiple homicides.  His defense of the murders is simple: to save some others died.

Although this exhilarating thriller ostensive occurs in a courtroom with testimony used to tell what happened at sea, readers will be reminded of the Hitchcock classic The Lifeboat with its similar crammed setting.  The question of saving a few by killing a few leads to a strong moral debate over how to choose who shall die and why even though the law is allegedly blind to ethical debates.  Although some of the key support characters are never fully developed, the defense lawyer, the prosecution and the captain are so that fans will appreciate The Evangeline.

Harriet Klausner