Archive for November, 2010

Silent Victim-C.E. Lawrence

November 29, 2010

Silent Victim

C.E. Lawrence

Pinnacle, Dec 7 2010, $6.99

ISBN: 9780786021499

NYPD forensic psychiatrist Lee Campbell receives a call at home from former patient Ana Watkins.  Reluctantly he lets her in his apartment.  She tells him someone is following her; he has doubts that this is true, but tells her to call the police. 

Meanwhile NYPD asks Lee to help on a case.  Two apparent suicides died within a week of each other; one was electrocuted in the tub while the other was found floating down the East River.  Each has GBH in their blood and a suicide note written by the killer surfaces.  A third victim with GBH in her system surfaces; a suicide note is found in her home, but written by someone else.  That last deceased is Ana found in Spuyten Duyvil.  Although the police work the cat and mouse game with the serial killer, Lee is most determined to catch this psychopath as he ignored Ana’s fears.

This vivid chilling serial killer thriller will have readers jumping at every sound because the plot seems plausible.  The hero has issues mostly with an inability to move passed the disappearance of his sister though he intellectualizes that he must do so.  Instead he buries himself in his police work and somewhat with his girlfriend, but she has issues to from her work as a body parts identifier of those who died at 9/11 Ground Zero.  Her decision for a time-out in their relationship sends Lee into an even deeper depression; his answer is a defense mechanism of drilling deeper into his police work.  Although serial killer thrillers glut the market including Lee’s previous case Silent Screams, C.E. Lawrence’s flawed champion makes for a strong tale as readers will paraphrase Abraham Lincoln: A shrink who heals himself has a fool for a patient.

Harriet Klausner*


Sinister Sprinkles-Jessica Beck

November 28, 2010

Sinister Sprinkles

Jessica Beck

Minotaur, Dec 1 2010, $7.99

ISBN: 9780312946128

The townsfolk of April Springs, North Carolina are delighted when snow falls as the Winter Festival begins.  Donut Harts owner Suzanne Hart enjoys the cold weather especially when snow covers the town.

However, this time the pristine color is red when someone Fatally Frosted Darlene Higgins using a candy cane as the weapon.  Suzanne loathed Darlene who was her ex-husband Max’s mistress, but would not have wanted her dead.  Meanwhile a shocked Muriel Stevens fears for her life as the victim wore her winter coat and a wig that that matched her hair color.  The police suspect somewhat look into the possibility of a wrongful murder, but lean to Max as the killer in a murder of passion.  Suzanne reluctantly investigates the homicide in order for Max not to fry by digging into Darlene’s past; which leads to an observant killer preparing to murder again and someone else also watching with appreciation in his eyes.

Sinister Sprinkles is a charming Carolina culinary cozy.  Readers will enjoy visiting April Springs and take delight in the recipes included with each chapter.  Although the motive for the amateur sleuth baker to investigate seems weak, sub-genre fans will enjoy her following the “recipe” how to investigate step by step.

Harriet Klausner

The Orchid Affair-Lauren Willig

November 21, 2010

The Orchid Affair

Lauren Willig

Dutton, Jan 20 2011, $25.95

ISBN 9780525951995

In 1804 governess Laura Grey leaves England after ten years employed there to come home to Paris to spy on Napoleon.  She enrolled at the Selwick Spy School where Laura was sort of trained in espionage under the code name Silver Orchid.  In France, undercover as Laure Griscogne she becomes governess to widower Andre Jaouen’s two children (nine years old Gabrielle and five years old Pierre-Andre).  However, her mission is to use her new position to learn what her employer, the assistant Prefect to the Minister of Police, knows.

The plot deploys perfectly in spite of Laure’s lack of experience and limited training; in fact her being a tyro spy helps her conceal her probing.  Meanwhile Griscogne and his rival Gaston Delaroche investigate the latest alleged Royalist plot to dispose of Napoleon.  However, whereas Griscogne cares about the French, Delaroche cares about himself so he uses this inquiry to destroy his enemy.  This leads to Laure and the Jaouen family fleeing for their lives across France; the adults pose as mom and dad and the Pink Carnation assists them while Delaroche seizes the opportunity.

The eighth Pink Carnation historical thriller (see The Betrayal of the Blood Lily) is a great tale filled with action from the moment Laure comes home and never slows down until the final altercation.  Fast-paced with a strong cast (including the ambitious villain) who bring to life France in 1804 and a sort of historiographical perspective as each of the adults and others look back with different views from fondness to disdain to the 1789 Revolution.  

Harriet Klausner

Tranquility Initiative-Joan Meijer

November 21, 2010

Tranquility Initiative

Joan Meijer

Eloquent, Aug 15 2010, $16.95

ISBN: 9781609114336

In a bid for a second term, President Charles Anderson must end the latest American Middle East war in Astrakhan.  Like Iraq and Afghanistan, this endless conflict has cost lives and treasure, but mostly a tired American people.  To insure victory at the ballot box, he must win in the Middle East where Muslims loath the invaders.  His Medici Group advisors insist we avoid another humiliating retreat by deploying the Tranquility Initiative, which uses internationally banned anthrax as a weapon of mass destruction.

Terrorists steal two containers that they believe hold explosives from Trabzon Base in Turkey.  They smuggle the boxes into New York City, but in Times Square they are surprised by what they find when they open the tightly sealed container; strips of aluminum foil with nothing else inside falls to the ground.  The terrorists unwittingly introduce Anthrax that quickly spreads around the world from the most internationally tied city.  CDC anthrax expert Doctor Cassandra Williams and New York Senator Richland Powell try to prevent the unleashing of the second box as the terrorists now know what the aluminum contains.

One would hope this could not happen, but with Iran-Contra allies like Hussein and the Taliban in the 1980s, the unsolved anthrax mailing, etc. Joan Meijer provides a powerful plausible cautionary thriller.  The lead pair represents the turbines driving the tale as the Tranquility Initiative combines elements from the medical thriller with that of a political tale.  Fans will be hooked from the moment the box is stolen as Ms. Meijer’s premises are the reelection of the president supersedes national interests at any cost and that the consequences of decisions today will surface in a decade or two in the future.

Harriet Klausner

Gideon’s War-Howard Gordon

November 21, 2010

Gideon’s War

Howard Gordon

Touchstone, Jan 11 2011, $24.99

ISBN: 9781439175811

U.S. President Diggs sends his best peacemaker special envoy Gideon Davis to the Pacific island the Sultanate of Mohan.  An Islamist insurgency led by terrorist Abu Nasir threatens to overthrow the American-friendly government.  Diggs also sends advisor Earl Parker, Uncle Earl to Gideon and his older brother Tillman, as he raised them after their parents died two decades ago.  Though he has not had a breather after working a cease fire in the jungles of Columbia for the last three months and just came out of a Columbian hut a few hours ago to attend a DC award ceremony, Davis knows he has to leave immediately as his sibling Tillman has twenty-three hours left.

Earl and Gideon travel to Mohan where they are to pick up rogue CIA Agent Tillman to bring him back to the States.  Instead nothing goes right and Parker is abducted while Gideon struggles to survive amidst the civil war tearing apart the island country.  Besides rescuing Uncle Earl, Gideon must liberate the Obelisk deep sea oil rig that terrorists led by Tillman seized.  Oil rig manager Kate Murphy is Gideon’s only ally.

Faster than the speed of light, the executive producer of 24 Howard Gordon brings that concept to the written thriller genre.  Ignoring plausibility with the story line over the top of the Himalayas, fans of the TV show will enjoy the Houdini escape artistry of the hero while the clock ticks down with a lot more at stake than his Uncle and a key oil rig as a world conspiracy is about to ignite.  Inane, but fun, Gideon’s War is to take back the Obelisk from his brother while readers anticipate a Cain and Abel confrontation; lurking in the background is the global crisis.

Harriet Klausner

The Athena Project-Brad Thor

November 21, 2010

The Athena Project

Brad Thor

Atria, Nov 23 2010, $27.99

ISBN: 9781439192955

Over twenty Americans along with numerous other nationalities were killed in a terrorist attack in Rome, Italy.  Homeland Security makes it a priority to bring the people behind the deadly assault to justice anyway necessary.  Delta Force assigns four top female agents (Gretchen Casey, Julie Ericsson, Megan Rhodes, and Alex Cooper) to capture the black market arms dealer Nino Bianchi who supplied the terrorists.

However, the quartet succeeds at their mission only to learn of a deadlier plot.  At the same time of the abduction, a soldier in South America finds the horrific sight of human bones embedded in rocks in underground tunnels in the jungle. He is unaware that these are the remains of failed experiments to transport in time and place Nazi concentration camp victims as part of the top secret Nazi technological advancement approved by Hans Kammler during WWII.  The Delta Force operatives follow the lead to Castle Zbiroh in the Czech Republic where radio waves are suppressed.  However, clues take the operatives back to the United States where they learn of the American post WWII Operation Paperclip and increasingly fear The Kammler Device teleportation technology.  They are stonewalled by their own government, which seems to want the Delta Force operatives from uncovering the truth below Denver International Airport and at Camp Hero in Long Island.

Updating the Philadelphia Experiment with real people, places and events, Brad Thor provides a fast-paced exhilarating thriller that never takes a breath once the two subplots converge (a few chapters into the high speed tale).  Connecting dots that go back through the Communists to the Nazis, the four women try to prevent a disaster while an adversary follows similar clues but prefers collateral damage.  Action-packed, the first full thriller of the Athena Project quartet is an entertaining winner.

Harriet Klausner

Blood of My Brother-James LePore

November 21, 2010

Blood of My Brother

James LePore

The Story Plant, Dec 25 2010, $16.95

ISBN: 9780981956886

In 1967 at the St. Lucy’s School in Newark, New Jersey, five year old Jay Cassio and Danny Del Collinao met while each were watching the nearby street riots.  They became best friends being there for one another although their personalities were opposites with Jay being cautious and Danny a risk taker.  Helping each other survive the mean streets, Jay became a lawyer while Danny ended up as a private investigator.

In 2004, Danny tells Jay that Donna Kelly hired him to deliver 500,000 dollars to her in Miami.  Apparently the now deceased Bryce Powers, husband to Jay’s late client Kate, gave it to her to hold for one month.  With both Powers dead from what the cops insist was a murder-suicide, Donna wants the loot.  However, not long afterward, Dan is found tortured and dead in the South Miami Beach Motor Hotel.  Out of character for the conservative Jay, he needs to know why.  The Florida and New Jersey roads lead to Isabel Perez in Mexico where Bryce lived for five years.

Moving back and forth between 2004 and the past, fans obtain a taste of the two best buddies who have each other’s back.  Thus when his friend his murdered, Jay, seemingly out of character, but in search of closure must know who killed Danny and why.  Fans will accompany Jay who for the time takes a major dangerous risk without Danny coaxing him.  The aptly titled Blood of My Brother is a tense thriller as the hero will learn whether the truth shall set him free or kill him.

Harriet Klausner

Mr. Hooligan-Ian Vasquez

November 21, 2010

Mr. Hooligan

Ian Vasquez

Minotaur, Dec 7 2010, $25.99

ISBN: 9780312378110

In Belize, Riley James has worked as a smuggler for Carlo and Israel Monsanto for over two decades; ever since they took care of a deadly mess he was involved in as teen numbers runner.  Few, if any, know the inland waterways better than Riley.  However, Riley also realizes smuggling is a young man’s game; not a middle age pursuit.  He is doing his last run for the brothers before retiring as the siblings agree this will wipe out his long standing debt to them.

Riley figures on co-owning Lindy’s Bar in Belize City with his friend Harvey Longsworth and marry his American sweetheart Candice.  However, his plan goes astray starting with a car accident that has mobsters from Central America and Mexico in it, corrupt local officials especially cops, and DEA agents wanting his hide and what he delivers.  A veteran of illegal trafficking, Riley will not go down without a fight.

Mr. Hooligan is superb crime thriller in which Charles Bronson (from Murphy’s Law and Mr. Majestyk) would play the lead.  Fast-paced from the moment the last run goes wrong, readers will be totally hooked wondering if Mr. Hooligan will survive the gauntlet as betrayals engulf his every step.

Harriet Klausner

Disciple of the Dog-R.Scott Baker

November 21, 2010

Disciple of the Dog

R.Scott Baker

Forge, Nov 23 2010, $24.99

ISBN: 9780765321909


Newark, New Jersey private investigator Disciple Manning has the uncanny ability to remember everything he hears or sees exactly like an instant replay.  When he says he seen it all or heard it all, he can play back the tape in his head. 


Worried about their twenty-one years old daughter, Jonathan and Amanda Bonjour hire Manning to find the missing Jennifer, who joined the New Age cult Framers founded by former Berkley university Professor  Xenophon Baars.  Amanda left the nursing school she attended and presumably resides within the Framers’ “Compound”; that is if she still lives, which Manning doubts.  Manning drives to the converted Pennsylvania farm Compound to learn the fate of Amanda.  Instead he finds out that Baars believes the world is coming to an end shortly.  His obsessed followers blindly do what he tells them to do in preparation for the end of days.


Readers will either love or hate Disciple who is a sort of younger and gross version of The Old Man (played by Victor Wong) in the Golden Child.  Thus, he is definitely different as a hero and not just because he has the uncanny total recall skill; farting and nose picking in public is part of his repertoire as a cynic who not only sees and hears it all he remembers it all.  The fate of Amanda is engaging and twisting, and Baars fascinating in a Reverend Jim Jones of Guyana way.  However, this plot is owned by the king of gas who can smell up a paragraph with one release.


Harriet Klausner

Bitter Legacy-H. Terrell Griffin

November 21, 2010

Bitter Legacy

H. Terrell Griffin

Oceanview, Dec 2010 2010, $25.95

ISBN: 9781933515960

Retired lawyer Matt Royal has been away from his beloved fishing and beer at Longboat Key, Florida.  When he finally comes home he is stunned with what has happened to friends.  An assassin shot in the chest Logan Hamilton on a busy Sarasota street,  Logan survived, but Longboat Key Police Chief Bill Lester, expecting a second attempt of the sniper knows his target lives, sets up a bit of misdirection by having the “victim” taken to the morgue.

Soon after that attack, that same professional kills attorney Jason Blakemoore.  Not long after that Matt finds himself in the crosshairs of a determined diligent killer.  Matt has no idea who and why anyone is gunning down him and his friends; however, he plans to find out and end the marauder’s murdering assault even if that alienates police officer Jennifer Duncan.

This is an engaging low key thriller in which the targets are clueless as to why the perpetrator is after them.  The story line is fast-paced from the opening murder attempt and never slows down.  While the motives is low brow, the plot is entertainingly delightful; when the motive ties to the past and the Black Seminoles, it loses its edge as that feels forced to provide a powerful rationale.  Still fans will enjoy Royal’s latest tale (see Blood Island, Murder Key and Longboat Blues); as unlike his last outing (see Wyatt’s Revenge) in which he was shot on two continents, he only becomes target practice on one.

Harriet Klausner