Archive for November, 2010

The Judas Gate-Jack Higgins

November 19, 2010

The Judas Gate

Jack Higgins

Putnam, Jan 4 2011,

ISBN: 9780399156547

General Ferguson, Sean Dillon and company hear a tape Major Roper made.  It takes place in Afghanistan in which a horde of terrorists led by Shamrock killed several Army Rangers and a British medical team.  They hear the euphoric voice of Shamrock whose accent is English.  There exists plausible evidence he has ties to Al Qaeda; although unknown to Dillon and company this killer answers to Osama’s main henchman in Britain the Preacher.  After listening to the tape taken from the Afghan battlefields by Major Roper, General Ferguson thinks a Taliban attack was led by an educated upper-class Englishman.  The General and Dillon want to track down the traitor and put him on trial for treason.

Daniel Holley, as lethal as Dillon is, joins the team but he makes the mistake of telling his business partner and close friend Hamid Malik what he is doing.  Malik considers Hill a member of his family; he worries about him and confides his concerns bed friend of thirty years Ali Hakin; unaware that hat his pal is an Al-Qaeda agent.  Hakim informs the Preacher that Dillon and company are searching for him.  The Preacher welcomes the news by setting up a chain of events leading to a confrontation on is terms in a crowded sector of Algiers populated by the dregs of society.

Highly regarded for his Dillon suspense thrillers, Jack Higgins’ latest is the usual strong tale that feels plausible as the author extrapolates the story line from the headlines.  The plot is filled with triple crosses accentuated by the addition of a new player to the team, who readers will wonder if Hill is to be trusted or a pure capitalist crossing back and forth between sides.  Once started The Judas Gate is impossible to put down.

Harriet Klausner

Peace-Jeff Nesbit

November 19, 2010


Jeff Nesbit

Summerside, Nov 1 2010, $12.99

ISBN: 9781609360436

Using stealth bombers purchased from America, the Israeli Air Force attacks Iran.  The Islamic populations around the world are outraged while internationally Fundamentalist Christians and Jews rejoice.  Western governments’ fear what the crisis will bring, but cannot stop the tsunami.

AS expected by many, the attack places the world on the brink of World War III.  Time is running out and a peaceful solution increasingly looks unlikely.  A small group of people is the last hope to prevent the pandemic destruction of global conflict.  These brave souls think the only way to prevent war is to talk directly with the so called enemy; to achieve this requires a cell phone.

The first “Principalities and Powers” global thriller is a superb tale that takes the audience inside of some nasty places as well as top secret locales.  Fast-paced from the onset readers are hooked with the action that seems plausible as Jeff Nesbit uses headlines to guide the tale.  Although the ending seems off kilter with the foot suddenly not putting the pedal to the metal after speeding from one international hot spot to another, fans will appreciate this realistic twisting doomsday clock countdown.

Harriet Klausner

Possession-Rene Gutteridge

November 17, 2010


Rene Gutteridge

Tyndale, Jan 1 2011, $12.99

ISBN: 9781414324340

Montgomery County police detective Vance Graegan worked the infamous DC Sniper case diligently.  However, each new murder of an innocent ripped at his gut.  Now that the serial killers are caught, Vance knows he suffers from Post traumatic Stress Disorder.  With his mental health shaky at best and feeling distant from his family, he decides that they need to start over; his wife Lindy agrees with his assessment to save the marriage.

Vance and his wife Lindy accompanied by their young son Connor move across the country to California where they plan to open up a deli.  While Lindy moves ahead to find them a home, Vance stops in Chicago to see his old friend Erin.  The move proves complicated by the moving company demanding higher fees before delivering their goods.  As they face more violence, what Vance has held inside him that Lindy saw in his eyes begins to eat at his soul again.

Filled with super spins and terrific twists enhanced by an underlying message that you have to have faith to move mountains as Connor insists, readers will relish this strong character driven inspirational thriller.  Fast-paced once the Graegan family begins to relocate after using the DC Sniper as a catalyst, this action-packed story line never slows down until the final confrontation is over.  Rene Gutteridge provides a taut family drama that grips the souls of readers.

Harriet Klausner

Secrets to the Grave-Tami Hoag

November 17, 2010

Secrets to the Grave

Tami Hoag

Dutton, Dec 28 2010, $26.95

ISBN: 9780525951926

In 1986 in Oak Knoll, California, Peter Crane, the notorious See-No-Evil killer awaits trial (see Deeper Than the Dead).  Meanwhile someone assaults twenty-eight year old single mom Marissa Fordham ruthlessly mutilating the artist before killing her.  A little voice calls 911 to say her daddy was hurting her mommy.  The cops find Marissa’s four years old daughter Haley strangled but with a faint pulse.  She survives the lethal attack though she is traumatized.

Police Detective Tony Mendez leads the investigation.  He obtains help from Anne Navarre Leone who will try to obtain the identity of the “Bad Monster” from the frightened child; and from her husband former FBI agent Vince Leone to look into Melissa’s background.  The former effort makes little progress while the latter is bewildering as if Marissa lived two lives.

This is a gripping suspense police procedural that brings to life mid 1980s investigative skills with significant elements that enhance the story line.  For instance 911 not providing an address (enhanced 911 had cost a lot of money) so that the victim rots for two days and the daughter lying on her dead mom’s shoulder almost joins her in death due to the time lag.  Although the killer is obviously crazy with rage, the psychopath still manages to hides in plain sight; which felt wrong especially when the villain is revealed.  Fast-paced, filled with action, a troubled witness, and a strong law enforcement team, readers appreciate the return to Oak Knoll with a twisting whodunit filled with misdirection.

Harriet Klausner

The October Killings-Wessel Ebersohn

November 17, 2010

The October Killings

Wessel Ebersohn

Minotaur, Jan 18 2011, $24.99

ISBN 9780312655952

Looking back, two decades, South Africa’s justice department chief Justice Abigail Bukula knows she has come a long way.  Back in 1985 in Lesotho, teenaged Bukula survived a raid on an African National Congress house due to the kindness of a white soldier, Leon Lourens, who was part of the assault.

In 2005, Lourens proves to Bukula that most of those who were with him on the attack have been murdered over the years on the anniversary of the raid.  Bukola knows to end the serial killer’s murdering spree she will need expert help.  She turns to brilliant former prison psychologist Dr. Yudel Gordon for help as he has access to the imprisoned commander of the assault Marinus van Jaarsveld. Although he lost his job when Apartheid ended, Dr. Gordon agrees to assist Bukula.

The whodunit is excellent and will please readers but is more a tool to enable the audience to observe the radical changes and problems to overcome in South Africa not long after the Apartheid wall came crumbling down.  Profound, fans will relish this terrific timely thriller (recent movie Invictus) as the return of Gordon after a three decade hiatus will send new fans seeking his 1980 cases (see Closed Circle, A Lonely Place to Die and Divide the Night).

Harriet Klausner

Precious and Fragile Things-Megan Hart

November 16, 2010

Precious and Fragile things

Megan Hart

Mira, Jan 1 2011, $13.95

ISBN: 9780778329244

Todd Blauch carjacks Gilly Soloman’s vehicle with her inside.  He takes his kidnapped victim to a remote snow-bound mountain.  There they are trapped for months by the wintry weather conditions that make it impossible to leave while her family prays for her safe return.

Over time, Todd and Gilly forge an odd relationship beyond guard and prisoner.  He tells her he  just wanted her truck not her.  However, he also admits he cannot free her because he fears she will turn him over to the cops.  He refuses to return to prison.  When she has a rare chance to escape, she hesitates not out of safety but out of the bond she formed with Todd.

This is an odd well written thriller that will remind readers of the 2005 Georgia courtroom murders with what went down after the killings between the hostage and the killer.  Gilly and Todd are fascinating protagonists who forge a bond during the captivity as they get to know one another’s concerns especially once the snow melts.  Although the late introduction of the tragic past feels unnecessary while slowing an intriguing character driven duet, fans who appreciate a strong look at what truly are Precious and Fragile Things like life will want to read Megan Hart’s dark suspense.

Harriet Klausner

Indefensible-Pamela Callow

November 16, 2010


Pamela Callow

Mira, Dec 28 2010, $7.99

ISBN 9780778329220

In Halifax, Nova Scotia, Elise Vanderzell falls off her balcony to her death.  The police suspect foul play because she died just after a heated argument in front of their kids with her former spouse attorney Randall Barrett, who demanded increased time with their children.

The police investigate what they believe is a spousal homicide.  Randall’s fifteen years old son Nick wants him dead and is willing to kill his father so he provides detailed witness testimony to the cops in order to hang his dad.  Randall’s twelve years old daughter Lucy is totally frightened of him having witnessed first hand his raging temper and partially thanks to Elise’s ramblings.  A lawyer at McGrath-Barrett, Randall’s legal firm, Kate Lange is the only one who believes her boss is innocent.  When the police arrest him for the first degree murder of Elise, Kate becomes his defense lawyer because she believes in him.

More a family drama following a tragedy, as the arrest and defense comes very late, readers who enjoy an insightful look at a dysfunctional family will want to read Indefensible.  The key cast members are fully developed as fans will get inside the heads of the two kids, the dad and Kate.  Nick comes across as a raging chip off the old block, but Lucy steals hearts with her abject fear of her father and to a degree her older brother.  However, this is Kate’s tale as she displays courage with her convictions though one would think Randall would have selected an experienced defense attorney even if that person deemed him guilty.  Although the story line is slow until the arrest, fans will enjoy this character driven thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Catch Her if You Can-Merline Lovelace

November 16, 2010

Catch Her if You Can

Merline Lovelace

Berkley, Jan 2011, $7.99

ISBN: 978042523924

Once she was a cocktail waitress in Vegas, but now she is USAF Second Lieutenant Samantha JoEllen Spade on loan to DARPA as an officer in charge of testing inventions from civilians with potential military applications.  Right now they are coming out of the desert after testing Snoopy SNFIR (self nurturing find and identify robot).  They reach Pancho’s to get a drink when Snoopy tries to get into a truck.

The overseer comes out of Pancho’s furious that people are at his vehicle.  He takes out a gun, but Poncho kills him.  In the trunk, they find a cooler with three heads inside it.  The story hits the media who focus on Samantha and her previous exploits which they covered.  After the hoopla dies, the Air Force brass feel Samantha is in danger from an enemy of her lover as several incidents aimed at her occur.  They provide her protection, but a Mexican Warlord kidnaps her anyway in attempt to use her as bait to lure her boyfriend into a lethal trap.

Smart, sassy and insecure summarizes Samantha who though unsure of herself, gets the job done.  Filled with action and acerbic often self-deprecating wit, readers will admire Samantha as she overcomes her doubts about her skills to perform what is needed.  Fans of military home-front thrillers will enjoy Catch Her If You Can and Spade’s previous DARPA escapades (see Now You See Her and All The Wrong Moves).

Harriet Klausner

Lawn Order-Molly MacRae

November 15, 2010

Lawn Order

Molly MacRae

Five Star, Jan 5 2010, $25.95

ISBN 9781594149139

In Stonewall, elderly Leona is attracted to newcomer Gene Mashburn.  Her younger cousin Blue Plum Books store owner Margaret Welch has to admit her relative has good taste as Mashburn is handsome.  However, she is suspicious of why he is here as strangers do not move to this small Blue Ridge Mountains town.

Meanwhile the normally quiet town is hit with a violent crime wave starting with the poisoning of pigeons, arson, and ultimately the homicide of developer Doug Everett.  Margaret’s former boyfriend police sergeant George Buckles encouraged by his prim and proper sister Bitsy, thinks the timing of Mashburn coming to town with the crime wave is too coincidental.  Additionally Mashburn and Everett were partners along with others in a plan to convert an old school into condos.  While George investigates the murder with his mind set on one suspect, Margaret also makes inquiries but looks for others with motives and opportunities.

The return to Stonewall (see Wilder Rumors) is an entertaining Blue Ridge Mountains cozy that introduces readers to new stars, Margaret and Bitsy who will charm the audience with their humor and intelligence.  Fast-paced from just after meeting the key cast members, fans will keep changing their guess as to who the killer is as Molly McRae provides a charming regional amateur sleuth enhanced by a police procedural investigation in which George believes the ladies actions are unsafe conflicted with his official inquiry.


Harriet Klausner

Open Season-Maryann Miller

November 15, 2010

Open Season

Maryann Miller

Five Star, Jan 5 2010, $25.95

ISBN 9781594149153

During an undercover drug sting that went ugly, Dallas police detective Sarah Kingsly’s partner John was killed during a sting operation; at the same his killer fired at him, Sarah shot his murderer a teenage African-American male.  Sarah remains on the job, but is fearful of what the Dallas Review Board will determine though she feels she did everything in accordance with procedure.  DPD wants her scalp to clam the Black community as everyone except Sarah ignores a cop was killed.

The DPD decides to team her up with African-American partner Angel Johnson as a public relations ploy; Angel’s family pressures her to demand a different partner.  Neither female trusts the other, which impedes their investigation into murders at the Galleria Mall.  Someone used piano wire to garrote to death three drug using men.  Each new killing has an increasingly deeper deranged message by the psychopath as if whatever grip on reality the culprit had is melting away.  If Sarah and Angel fail to move past their racial divide soonest, people will be dead by an out of control serial killer.

This is a great taut police procedural starring two fully developed lead characters with personal issues that keep them from forging the type of partnership that Sarah had with John.  Although loaded with plenty of typical law enforcement action, the deep look at the psyche of both females make for a fabulous thriller.  Fans will want more appearances by the fab females and police shrink Doc Murray, whose professional relationship with especially remroseful Sarah brings freshness to a strong character driven story line.

Harriet Klausner