Archive for May, 2011

Watch Me Die-Erica Spindler

May 29, 2011

Watch Me Die

Erica Spindler

Minotaur, Jun 21 2011, $24.99

ISBN: 9780312363949


In New Orleans, Mira Gallier loves her caring husband and her vocation as a stained-glass restoration artist.  However Katrina changed everything for the woman with a seemingly perfect life when her spouse was washed away and much of her work ruined.


It has been several years of grief since The Hurricane destroyed her life but finally Mira begins to move on emotionally.  However, she is shocked when someone breaks the church windows she has restored.  That is terrible but the vandalism does not compare with the murder of a priest near one of her restoration projects; the culprit left behind a graffiti message from the bible sprayed on the window.  More homicides with biblical references left behind and seemingly tied to Mira and her work occurs.  NOPD homicide detective Spencer Malone leads the investigation in which the prime suspect is Mira.


With a nod to Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, readers will feel Mira’s angst and fears as she has only recently recovered from Katrina turning her into a widow and now those close to her are being slaughtered by a maniacal believer.  She is so distraught she fears for her mind.  With post Katrina New Orleans as the backdrop, Erica Spindler provides a taut psychological suspense.


Harriet Klausner

The Reservoir-John Milliken Thompson

May 27, 2011

The Reservoir

John Milliken Thompson

Other Press, Jun 21 2011, $15.95

ISBN: 9781590514443


In 1885 Richmond, Virginia, the body of a pregnant white female is found in the city reservoir in what seems to be a suicide.  However there is some counter evidence nearby so the police investigate beause there is pressure to solve the homicide of Lillian Madison. 


Nearing retirement, Police Justice Daniel Cincinnatus Richardson heads the inquiry at the same time Detective Jack Wren coerces potential witnesses.  Looking into Lillie’s relationships leads the cop to the Cluverius brothers, Tommie the ambitious lawyer and Willie the steadfast farmer.  Due to temperament Richardson believes Tommie the hothead killed his mistress in a fit of rage over the entangled triangle, but it is Willie who is caught in the trial’s crosshairs.


Based on a true trial, this exciting historical thriller grips the audience once the players, time and place are established.  The story line uses flashbacks to tell the tale of the triangle while also providing a strong inquiry and trial.  John Milliken Thompson will have readers pondering the issue of love of family as the author deftly examines how far a person will go to protect a loved one.


Harriet Klausner

Telling Lies-Cathi Stoler

May 27, 2011

Telling Lies

Cathi Stoler

Camel Press, Apr 11 2011, $17.95

ISBN: 9781603818438


Magazine Editor Laurel Imperiole and NYPD Identity Theft chief Aaron Gerrard are on vacation in Florence, Italy.  At the Uffizi Museum, Laurel accidently bumps into a man she assumes is an Italian.  As she apologizes in Italian and English, she realizes he is Jeff Sargasso who died in the Twin Towers on 9/11.


Although Aaron and the museum Dottore security chief thinks she lost her mind but Laurel knew Jeff for a decade and was with his grieving widow Monica when the authorities presumed her husband was dead.  Laurel recalls that Sargasso, an art dealer, was working on a nine-digit dollar sale of a masterpiece lost during World War II between CEO Alfred Hammersmith who also died in the WTC terrorist attack and billionaire MMJapan Corporation CEO Miayamu Moto.  Laurel meets and pairs up with private investigator Helen McCorkendale; as they follow leads back to New York while dealing with Mossad operative Lior Stern and unscrupulous collectors.  Aaron warns her to back off, but Laurel and Helen continue the hunt for Sargasso and the painting.


This is an exhilarating art investigative thriller with several neat twists.  The story line is fast-paced from the moment Jeff and laurel bump into each other and never slows down.  Filled with action, but containing a strong cast, readers will want to know why Jeff decided to be dead while Laurel obsesses over the case to the point that trust becomes an issue.  Readers will relish Cathi Stoler’s taut tale of deception.


Harriet Klausner

The Mistress’s Revenge- Tamar Cohen

May 26, 2011

The Mistress’s Revenge

Tamar Cohen

Free Press (Simon and Schuster), Jun 7 2011, $15.00

ISBN: 9781451632828

For five years Sally Islip and Clive Gooding had an affair until he broke it off.  Upset, she begins to keep a journal addressed to Clive.  To his chagrin she publishes her musings anonymously though all know who the overweight egomaniac male is.

As Clive is frustrated with his ex, he takes another blow to his portly gut when Sally becomes friends to his wife and adult children.  Over the top Clive vows revenge.  Meanwhile despondent Sally seems even gloomier each day while someone hacks into her email and sends ugly notes to her employers.  Though it costs her a living, her dark depression keeps her fueled in her assault on Clive.

This is a very dark relationship drama that makes Fatal Attraction seem tame as obsessive compulsive disorder turns the loving obsession into the loathing obsession.  Sally cannot stop herself while Clive has been hooked with a need to avenge what she has done to him.  However, the cost to their respective extended families will soon come home to roost.  Not for everyone, readers will wonder what the boundaries of revenge are.

Harriet Klausner

East on Sunset -Ken Mercer

May 26, 2011

East on Sunset

Ken Mercer

Minotaur, Jun 7 2011, $25.99

ISBN: 9780312558376

Fired from LAPD ironically due to drug use as he was a narcotics detective, Will Magowan has turned his life around in the past few months.  He has reconciled with his beloved wife Laurie and they are expecting a baby.  He has obtained employment as a security guard for the L.A. Dodgers, which is great for a baseball fan like Will.

Erik Crandall was arrested and convicted on a drug charge; he spent five years in prison but is free.  He believes Will stole the stash during the bust and plans to collect for the drugs with interest.  Crandall demands Magowan give him his fair share, but Will insists he never stole the drugs.  However, the raging ruthless ex convict increases the pressure, which Magowan counters in order to keep his pregnant spouse out of harm’s way.

Magowan’s latest thriller (see Slow Fire) is a terrific tense suspense as the audience anticipates a final confrontation.  Crandall is obsessed over the stolen drugs but only focuses on the ex cop; Magowan is as obsessed but his focus is on keeping Laurie and their unborn safe.  Readers will enjoy High Noon East on Sunset as Will’s unsavory past has returned to haunt him and his beloved.

Harriet Klausner

Highway 61- David Housewright

May 26, 2011

Highway 61

David Housewright

Minotaur, Jun 7 2011, $25.99

ISBN: 9780312642303

In the Twin Cities, former cop, affluence Rushmore McKenzie has doubts about helping the ex husband Jason Truhler of his current lover Nina.  However, he cannot say no to Nina’s eighteen years old daughter Erica so he agrees to see what he can do.  

Jason attended the Thunder Bay Blues Festival in Ontario.  He met a girl on the way, but woke up the next day in a dumpy motel on Highway 61 with the corpse of his new companion on the floor.  He quietly left without notifying the authorities. Truhler insists he has no memory after picking up the female until he awakened to the horror, but someone obviously does as he is being blackmailed with photos.  McKenzie begins to unravel a clever scheme, but soon learns his client has not been honest as he finds himself in the crosshairs of nasty individuals like Big and Little Joe, and Backdraft and Bug, as well as the Twin Cities’ most influential.

In his latest favor (see The Taking of Libbie, SD), Rushmore McKenzie is at his best as he muses over the outcome of good intentions in a caper that is too close to home.  The story line is fast-paced as the hero figures out the motel game, but unprepared for the truth about Truhler.  Instead of case closed, McKenzie finds deadly felons with ugly intent and even more lethal powerhouses with uglier intent targeting him.  Readers will think twice before venturing on Highway 61.

Harriet Klausner

Paradise Dogs-Man Martin

May 26, 2011

Paradise Dogs

Man Martin

Dunne, Jun 7 2011, $25.99

ISBN: 9780312662561

In 1965 Florida, realtor Adam Newman dreams of one thing, a person he once had as his wife Evelyn but no more.  He muses about how happier he was when he and Evelyn managed legendary Paradise Dogs roadside hotdog diner.  He is successful but knows that is nothing without Evelyn.

Ironically only Adam would want a second chance with one woman while engaged to another.  He tries to help his son Addison compete for a coed against his older half brother while also searching for $250,000 in diamonds not belonging to him that he misplaced.  However before he assists his offspring, finds the diamonds, delivers a newborn, works a land deal, loses his Evelyn again (though he never actually had her for the second time),and more involving the Russians are coming; he needs a drink.

Paradise Dogs is a fun Florida tale although there is too much frenzied humor that overwhelms at times the thin plot.  With a nod to It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, fans who enjoy an out of control nostalgic thriller will enjoy Adam’s strange sense of second chances as he recalls his happiest moment was selling dirty dogs but ignores the grease burns. 

Harriet Klausner

The Borgia Betrayal-Sara Poole

May 26, 2011

The Borgia Betrayal

Sara Poole

St. Martin’s Griffin, Jun 7 2011, $14.99

ISBN: 9780312609849

In 1493 Alexander VI has sat on Saint Peter’s chair for a year though there are plenty of adversaries and rivals who want him removed preferably dispatched to hell.  His employee Francesca the Poisoner continues her vigil to keep the formerly named Rodrigo Borgia alive as the Pope.  Francesca owes it to her late murdered father.

However, her killing rivals have left her suffering nightmares and visits from ghoulish phantoms of those she has murdered.  Her only solace is her affair with her boss’ son Cesare.  Alexander’s other son Juan protects the priest who Francesca owes a death debt to.

The sequel to Poison continues the deadly fascinating escapades of Francesca at the beginning of the Renaissance as her life is totally intertwined with the Borgia family.  Although attempts to use fifteenth century dialect adds a sense of time and place, the speech patterns feels forced and slows down the pace.  Still fascinatingly feisty Francesca is a great character as she poisons the enemies of her employer, her lover and herself though she waits impatiently to provide her form of justice to the priest and perhaps to his host.

Harriet Klausner

The Return of Captain John Emmett -Elizabeth Speller

May 26, 2011

The Return of Captain John Emmett

Elizabeth Speller

Houghton Mifflin and Harcourt, Jul 5 2011, $26.00

ISBN: 9780547511696

In 1920, Laurence Bartram still struggles though three years have passed since he saw combat on the continent.  The war and a family tragedy have left the widower a shell of his former self.  He hides in London not wanting to see anyone.

A former girlfriend Mary Emmett sends him a note informing him that her brother John who served as an officer committed suicide at a veteran’s hospital.  She wants to know why her sibling killed himself.  Thinking of Mary and John, Laurence accompanied by his only friend Charles Carfax investigates the death of John.  They quickly learn Emmett was involved in the execution of an officer who was court martialed for desertion.  More clues follow as the daunting duet deduce what happened, but more regiment deaths follow.

This is a terrific post WWI thriller starring a hero who suffers from battle fatigue, but regains some equilibrium when he receives Mary’s message.  The deadly investigation forces Bartram to look inside at the demons from his combat experiences that haunt him.  Although the inquiry depends on luck at key moments, fans will appreciate the two amateur sleuths seeking the truth as to whether Emmett was murdered or committed suicide.

Harriet Klausner

The Lion-Nelson DeMille

May 22, 2011

The Lion

Nelson DeMille

Grand Central, Jun 7 2011, $14.99

ISBN: 9780446699600

Years ago Asad the Libyan “Lion” Kahil fooled the Americans into believing he was defecting only to begin a Jihad avenging vendetta for the 1983 deaths of his family by Reagan; he was somewhat stopped by then NYPD Detective John Corey and FBI Agent Kate Mayfield (see The Lion’s Game), but escaped.  A lot has happened in the ensuing years as 9/11 changed the security landscape, and Kate and John are married though she remains with the FBI and he is retired from NYPD.  Both work for the Federal Antiterrorism task Force. 


Khalil has returned to America using an Egyptian passport granted to a Hasheem.  The outcome of his objective is either home or paradise as he begins round two of killing Americans in the United States for what they did to his family.  In the Catskills, he attacks John and Kate while they were skydiving.  Kate is severely hurt by a hard landing while John vows the family vendetta between Kahil and him has just been raised with one of them seeing their maker rather soon.

This exciting sequel hooks the audience starting with the skydiving incident and never releases us until the climax. Readers anticipate a final confrontation between two super heavyweights whose first match ended in a draw.  Although the Corey wisecracking asides remains humorous, it feels out of place as the body count grows.  Still fans will enjoy the rematch as Nelson DeMille writes an entertaining but very linear thriller that asks did the billions spent in security money make us safer.

Harriet Klausner