Archive for May, 2011

The Naperville White House: How One Man’s Fantasy Changed Government s Reality-Jerome Bartels

May 31, 2011

The Naperville White House: How One Man’s Fantasy Changed Government s Reality

Jerome Bartels

Bancroft, Dec 31 2010, $14.95

ISBN: 9781890862916

 

In 2019 former White House press secretary Jerome Bartels seeks the truth as to what happened last year as too many anomalies have surfaced.  The part time Radio Shack employee looks back to what occurred last year to set the record straight though he fears his manuscript will be censored.

 

In Naperville, Illinois insurance adjustor Jay Weise works during the day for NetHealth.   At night and weekends Jay is POTUS.  He and people around the world belong to The International Organization of Fantasy Governments with Jay being the President of the United States.  Chief of counterintelligence John Sykes informs his boss that someone in his cabinet is a terrorist with plans for abducting other members.  Weise worries that Sykes is mixing reality with gaming so he fires him, but everything his counter intelligence chief said turns out to be real as Al Qaeda terrorists hold hostage several Americans. They demand information on an alleged anti-terrorist biological weapon.  Weise may have been roll playing but the enemy is not.  While the other White House and Congress act impotently, Weise takes charge he and his cabinet try to stop the terrorists.

 

This whimsical political parody is an engaging thriller that will grip the audience once we readers adjust to the format and the concept.  The role playing cast to include Weise and his middle class working cabinet seem like real gamers who adjust their role playing from virtual Nationizing to real recue the hostages.  Mr. Bartels’ journalist account is a complicated tale that condemns DC power brokers as the role players pretending or divergent action (think of Contract with American – one passed and that was unconstitutional) rather than real solutions.

 

Harriet Klausner

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The Samaritan-Stephen Besecker

May 31, 2011

The Samaritan

Stephen Besecker

Bancroft, Jul 14 2011, $25.00

ISBN: 9781610880091

 

When half Seneca Kevin “Hatch” Easter was nine years old, his parents died.  He moved into the home of his shaman grandfather on the Cattaraugus Indian Reservation.  Hatch never felt at home until as an adult he met and married Karen.  Hatch took a position with the Central Intelligence Agency and became a highly regarded Tracker

 

He died figuratively when his wife and her sister Patricia Durante were murdered in a mob collection hit at Rudy’s Tavern in the Bronx.  Boss Tony D knows the stupidity of murdering two innocent sisters and a paying customer over 15 K, but worse his nephew collector Cercone left fingerprints on the throat of Easter. To satisfy the media and NYPD, he assigns Cercone to kill his triggerman Taliaferro to close the case.  However, someone refuses to accept case closed.  That individual like a ghost hunts down anyone remotely associated with the murders in the Bronx as this stalker feels an infinite degree of connection for those who must die.  The police detectives Montroy and Philips worry about being killed; New York Post reporter Butera gleefully sees homicide as his path to superstardom; while the CIA fears one of their own has gone vigilante.

 

This is a terrific New York thriller that grips the audience from the moment the mob enters the tavern and never slows down as the corpses including collateral damage pile around the city.  Although at times the action seems implausible, the suspenseful story line is fast-paced with a nod to the movie Die Hard, but also contains strong twists.  Readers will appreciate this entertaining murderers’ row.

 

Harriet Klausner

Long Gone-Alafair Burke

May 31, 2011

Long Gone

Alafair Burke

Harper, Jun 21 2011, $24.99

ISBN: 9780061999185

 

In Manhattan, Drew Campbell hires thirty something Alice Humphrey to manage his new Highline Gallery.  Unemployed for months Alice loves her job.  However, a few weeks after starting Alice arrives at the gallery to find it empty except for Campbell’s corpse.  NYPD suspects she murdered her lover and has proof of a picture of them together in a very friendly pose.  Furthermore they think she used the gallery that is in her name to her shock to distribute child porn.

 

A stunned Alice seeks information on Drew and the gallery, neither seems to have existed.  At the same time a PTSD FBI agent unofficially investigates the death of his sister while a teenager in Upstate New York vanished without a trace.  Alice, the fed and a small town cop will cross paths as each investigate seemingly unrelated crimes.

 

The three prime subplots are at times overwhelming; the Alice in the rabbit hole can definitely stand alone while the other two cannot.  However each is an intense psychological suspense as someone struggles with what is going on whether it is Alice, the Fed or the teen’s mom.  Alice owns the tale as she learns identity is not as simple as it may seem.

 

Harriet Klausner

 

Hotel Bosphorus-Esmahan Aykol

May 31, 2011

Hotel Bosphorus

Esmahan Aykol

Bitter Lemon, Jun 3 2011, $14.95

ISBN: 9781904738688

 

Forty three year old German expatriate Kati Hirschel was actually born in Istanbul, but moved away with her parents when she was seven years old.  However, Turkey felt like home for the single woman so she returned thirteen years ago and remained there since as the owner of a crime bookshop.

 

Kati’s friend from university Petra Vogel the movie star is in town as the star of a film.  They have not seen each other in about fifteen years but look forward to the reunion.  When they meet once the Ministry approves the project, both are excited.  However, someone murders the film director Kurt Muller.  The police suspect Petra killed him as this homicide was allegedly the end of a romantic tango.  Petra denies being the victim’s lover or killer.  Kati has doubts about her friend’s innocence but investigates the murder at the hotel

 

This is an engaging Turkish amateur sleuth in which the local culture and the city on two continents own the story line.  Readers will need a leap of acceptance wider than the Bosphorus Strait that Kati makes inquiries and more so that the local cop shares his information with her.  With the clues to the murder back in Germany, fans will appreciate Kati’s witty tour of Istanbul to include her mental male stripping as she works the case.

 

Harriet Klausner

The Vault-Boyd Morrison

May 31, 2011

The Vault

Boyd Morrison

Touchstone, Jul 5 2011, $24.99

ISBN: 9781439181829

 

Gordian Engineering Special Operations Chief Dr. Tyler Locke was ten minutes into his commute on a ferry from Seattle to Bremerton when his cell phone receives a text message from an unknown caller whose words are answer his phone or die in twenty eight minutes.  Locke responds to the person’s next call when he says he planted binary explosives on the ferry and wants Locke to defuse it as a test to prove whether he can handle a special job; failure means death for him and the rest on board.  He heads to a truck where he finds waiting for him is Chasing the Past TV host and classical languages expert Stacy Benedict who interprets the Greek instructions so he can defuse the bomb that he created from Archimedes’ geolabe for Jordan Orr and save her kidnapped sister Carol and those on the ferry.

 

Solving the puzzle with seconds to spare, they learn this pretest is to prove they have a reasonable chance to find King Midas’s lost treasure.  To do so the pair will need to interpret the arcane Antikythera Mechanism’s cryptic clues; another puzzling deadly device created by Archimedes over two millennia ago.   Failure to find the loot in five days will result in loved ones like Carol being brutally murdered; success will save Carol, but cause mass destruction to others.

 

The above is just the opening act of an exhilarating action-packed thriller that hooks the audience from the first text message to the confrontations in New York and elsewhere.  Readers will never look at the Hudson sediment in the same way as Boyd Morrison provides a taut thriller that never allows the heroes or fans to take a respite.

 

Harriet Klausner

The Knowledge of Good and Evil-Glenn Kleier

May 31, 2011

The Knowledge of Good and Evil

Glenn Kleier

Tor, Jul 19 2011, $24.99

ISBN 9780765323774

 

Survivor guilt though he was only a child when his parents’ died in a tragic plane crash years ago, Ian Baringer has spent the next couple of decades trying to contact them.  Currently the former priest skeptically believes in the afterlife though his hope is weakening with years of failure to achieve his obsession.  He works on the talk show Probing the Paranormal as an investigator while his lover agnostic psychiatrist Dr. Angela Weber is the show’s host.

 

Finally reaching a breaking point where he needs to know either way, the OCD Ian decides to prove the soul survives the body dying by experiencing a near death incident.  A shocked Angela who loves the troubled Ian pleads with him to no avail.  Determined, he will prove the theory either way, but soon finds the secretive Ordo Arma Christi brothers want him dead before he conducts the experiment as this Order believe they must prevent Ian from biting the apple.

 

This thought provoking exhilarating thriller asks many questions about religious dogma, but is not limited to the afterlife as Glenn Kleier questions contradictions for instance between free will and forbidden fruits of knowledge.  Ian is the key to the plot, as he suffers from survivor induced obsessive compulsive behavior that has worsened in reaction to his beliefs shrinking.  Angelia is a loyal wonderful person who refuses to give up on the man she loves although she fears he is losing his mind to his obsession.  The story line is fast-paced as the lead pair abruptly finds themselves being hunted by a cell who rejects the concept that man has the right to know anything about the afterlife. 

 

Harriet Klausner

The Paradise Prophecy-Robert Browne

May 31, 2011

The Paradise Prophecy

Robert Browne

Dutton, Jul 21 2011, $25.95

ISBN 9780525952237

 

At Trinity Baptist College in Harrison, Louisiana, Professor Sebastian “Batty” LaLaurie teaches Religious Studies and Rhetoric, but is on administrative leave due to a lecture that condemns God.  A widower, he suffers from nightmares and has turned to alcohol to abate the pain of his wife Rebecca’s death while acknowledging his beliefs were shattered when she died.

 

The State Department Section unit sends agent Bernadette Callahan to Sao Paulo, Brazil to investigate the burning death of Christian singer Gabriela Zuada.  The locals swear the devil murdered Gabriela, but the American thinks a serial killer added her to the list of the dead.  Needing expertise into the occult and Milton, Bernadette contacts Batty whose nightmares come from surviving a trek beyond.  She shows him Gabriela’s picture and he reacts stunned as she stars in his dark dreams with her death mirroring that of his late wife.  The professor and the agent follow the homicides to Istanbul, but the potential Armageddon is in Los Angeles where Michael the Archangel walks the earth hunting down rogue angels harming the offspring of Adam and Eve, and Beliel and her three Fallen teammates meet.

 

With nods to Milton’s Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained, and to the Walken Prophecy movies, The Paradise Prophecy is a superb rendition of good and evil as the agents of God and Satan battle for the souls of mankind.  Action-packed from the onset, Batty the “fallen” Milton scholar and Bernadette the pragmatic doubter make a delightful pairing as they argue over the clues starting with the toasted corpses that he insists come from agents of Hell and she insists the one doing the killing is a psychopath.  Fans will appreciate Robert Browne’s excellent thriller.

 

Harriet Klausner

Revenger-Rory Clements

May 30, 2011

Revenger

Rory Clements

Bantam, Jun 21 2011, $25.00

ISBN 9780385342841

 

John Shakespeare retired from field work to be with his wife Catherine and their four years old daughter Mary.  He teaches at a small school and finds his two females superseding the excitement he had working for Queen Elizabeth. 

 

Since he has been a family man since leaving the intelligencer field, John is surprised when the Earl of Essex asks him to investigate the disappearance of the Roanoke colonists who are rumored to be safe and sound in London.  Essex’s rival Queen Elizabeth’s Privy Councilor spymaster Sir Robert Cecil does not trust the Earl who he thinks might have seditious schemes.  As such, Sir Cecil orders Shakespeare to serve the Queen as he did five years ago (see Martyr).

 

Revenger is a great Elizabethan mystery as readers will feel they are in London during a tumultuous period in the Queen’s reign with the Spanish war on-going, a plague devastating London, and intrigue inside her royal court.  The mystery of Roanoke is handled deftly while Shakespeare proves worthy as he holds the plot together while not shocking to him finds strange even perverted bedfellows on both sides of the argument between Cecil and Essex.

 

Harriet Klausner

Killing Frost-Patricia Wynn

May 30, 2011

Killing Frost

Patricia Wynn

Pemberley, Jul 1 2011, $29.95

ISBN 9781935421016

 

By January 1716, the winter is so cold the Thames has frozen.  As is the custom when the river freezes over, a Frost Fair is constructed.  However, one early morning, a body garbed in a coronation suit is found against a wood booth.  The frozen corpse is Sir Walter Tatham, who officials affirm was brutally murdered.

 

Lord Harrowby Hawkhurst had recently been visited by the deceased so he asks Hester Kean, who know the dead man and has solved homicides before (see The Spider’s Touch and The Motive from the Deed) to make inquiries into the victim’s recent dealings.  Though she asks why he is interested, he offers no explanation even as he looks sickly panicked.  Hester, in turn, asks her friend, Viscount St. Mars who also earns a living as the highwayman Blue Satan, to assist her.  Although he already has a difficult mission to liberate a Jacobite from Newgate, he agrees to join her on the investigation.

 

Historical mystery fans will wear mittens and a woolen hat while reading this terrific early Georgian era whodunit as the worst winter in over a century makes it dangerous to be outside.  The story line brings to life early eighteenth century London and nearby towns as well as the political enmity that has divided the country during the reign of the first Hanover opposed by supporters of the Stuart “Great Pretender”.  Since the Birth of the Blue Satan, this series has been a winner with each entry.

 

Harriet Klausner

Blood of the Reich-William Dietrich

May 30, 2011

Blood of the Reich

William Dietrich

Harper, Jun 28 2011, $25.99

ISBN: 9780061989186

 

In 1938 Berlin, Reichfuhrer SS Heinrich Himmler sends Kurt Raeder to Tibet to investigate rumors of a secret force that allegedly brings eternal life.  At the same time Museum of Natural History zoologist Benjamin Hood, and pilot Beth Colloway need to prevent the Nazis from obtaining the substance.

 

In present day Seattle, a journalist saves software peddler Romminy Pickett from certain death when her car explodes.  He explains he is writing an article on Tibet and that her heritage may save the world from evil.  Sam Mackenzie and Romminy team up starting with investigating her birth and following up with what happened in Berlin, New York and ultimately the Himalayas just before WWII exploded as neo-Nazis try to capture them for nefarious malevolent reasons.

 

This is a great gripping thriller that will be on the year’s short lists for action packed adventure tales.  The two subplots rotate with each exciting yet nicely paired before converging into a super climax mindful of Indiana Jones that Spielberg should consider filming.  Fans will appreciate the globetrotting escapades in 1938 and today as they meet at the top of the world.

 

Harriet Klausner