Archive for July, 2011

The Ronin’s Mistress-Laura Joh Rowland

July 31, 2011

The Ronin’s Mistress

Laura Joh Rowland

Minotaur, Sep 13 2011, $24.99

ISBN 9780312658526


In 1703 Edo, forty-seven ronin samurai arrive at the estate of the Shogun Tsunayoshi’s master of ceremonies Kira Yoshinaka.  Though the shogun had declared no vendetta, in an act of revenge for turning them into masterless ronin twenty-two months ago; the band’s leader Oishi Kuranosuke beheads Yoshinaka for his evil involvement in the death of their master Lord Asano during a feud; others at the estate were also killed. 


Having been demoted from Chamberlain back to his previous job as the Most Honorable Investigator of Events, Situations, and People, Sano Ichiro leads the investigation though he seethes that manipulative, corrupt, ambitious and lethal Yanagisawa was back in power as the Chamberlain.  At the same time, Kuranosuke’s mistress Okaru informs Ichiro’s wife Reiko, that the feud is not what is publically believed.  Ichiro looks into the strange case of the forty-seven who completed a cleansing ritual and wait further “orders”, but came quietly with him and his detectives.  Now he needs to recommend whether the forty-seven commit ritual suicide as the honorable end to the dispute.


This is a great entry in the Feudal Japan saga (see The Fire Kimono and The Cloud Pavilion) based on the legend of the 47 Ronin.  The story line is fast-paced from the moment Kuranosuke severs the head of Yoshinaka and never slows down as dedicated Ichiro and his wife uncover anomalies in what looks like a shut and closed case.


Harriet Klausner



The Gilded Shroud-Elizabeth Bailey

July 31, 2011

The Gilded Shroud

Elizabeth Bailey

Berkley, Sep 6 2011, $15.00

ISBN 9780425242896


Lady Emily Fanshawe’s personal maid Mary Huntshaw walks to her mistress’ bedroom with a hot chocolate only to smell a horrific odur and the room in disarray.  Mary starts screaming as she realizes someone strangled Lady Emily and her husband Randal is missing.


Randal’s mother the Marchioness of Polbrook fears her son the marquis killed his wife.  Her other son Francis struggles to control his nausea as he takes charge.  The Marchioness’ temporary companion Widow Ottilia Draycott offers to investigate the homicide.  Though she has doubts the Marchioness agrees as she hopes to keep her oldest son out of gaol.  Tillie quickly learns a theft of a valuable family heirloom occurred also. Asking questions of those at the estate, Tillie seeks the motives and opportunities of a house of strangers; while her attraction to Francis helps and hinders her inquiry.


The Gilded Shroud is a charming Regency romantic amateur sleuth starring a wonderful intelligent heroine.  The story line engages the reader in the mystery while the romance between “Fan” and “Tillie” enhances the investigation.  Sub-genre readers will want Tillie and Fan working future inquiries.


Harriet Klausner

Garden of Secrets Past-Anthony Eglin

July 30, 2011

Garden of Secrets Past

Anthony Eglin

Minotaur, Aug 16 2011, $24.99

ISBN: 9780312648367


The intriguing unsigned letter asks retired botanist Dr. Lawrence Kingston to come to a specific address In Mayfair.  The anonymous author who says he knows that Dr. Kingston has solved cases wants his help in solving a crime that occurred on his property three weeks ago.


Fascinated by the note, Kingston visits the address, which turns out to be Jardine’s gentlemen’s club.  Stunned as they have had a checkered past, Kingston is greeted by Lord Frances Morley, owner of the Sturminster a country estate; which is renowned for its historical gardens.  Morley explains he wants Kingston to investigate the murder of a man found dead at Sturminster by a little girl.  Kingston investigates the homicide believing the enigmatic unbroken code on a monument in the garden is the key; someone agrees as the inquiry places Kingston and Morley in danger.


The fifth English Garden Mystery (see The Water Lily Cross and The Trial of the Wild Rose) is an entertaining whodunit as the past and the present converge during Kingston’s amateur sleuthing.  The cast is solid in support of the protagonist who is at his best working the enigmatic murder case.  The story line is fast-paced with a fascinating brief afterward explaining the code in further depth.  Gardens of Secret Past is wonderful mystery as events two centuries old still remain relevant.


Harriet Klausner

The Betrayal-Jerry Jenkins

July 29, 2011

The Betrayal

Jerry Jenkins

Tyndale, Sep 21 2011$14.99

ISBN 9781594153884


Chicago Police Department Gang Enforcement Section Detective Boone Drake took a life threatening bullet while leading the arrests of gang leaders and the crime syndicate (see The Brotherhood).   On medical leave while he heals at what all natives still call Cook County Hospital (instead of Stroger); from his near fatal wound, Boone has plenty of time to ponder what went wrong.  His former partner and current boss Jack agrees with his assessment.  Though it makes him ill to consider what he believes happened; he concludes someone inside of CPD tipped off the shooter, which leaves the key informant former gang kingpin Pascual Candelario in jeopardy.


However, as he digs a bit deeper, Boone finds his nightmare turns uglier.  He wants to deny what seems increasingly obvious.  The evidence points overwhelmingly to Haeley, his new girlfriend.


The latest Precinct 11 Christian police procedural (see The Brotherhood) is a fabulous thriller in which there are no atheists in the fox hole is a critical element in the strong plot.  Fast-paced and filled with action, readers will appreciate Boone’s uncertainty about the woman he adores as he prays to God for wisdom.  Fans will enjoy this entertaining internal investigation into who sold out the team.


Harriet Klausner


All Cry Chaos-Leonard Rosen

July 29, 2011

All Cry Chaos

Leonard Rosen

Permanent Press, Sep 1 2011, $29.00

ISBN: 9781579622220


Thirty years old American mathematician James Fenster is in Amsterdam to give a talk on his mathematical economics formula to at the World Trade Organization conference.  However, instead of the speech, he dies in a terrorist explosion at his hotel; the killer used a smart bomb military-grade rocket fuel.


Although his health is poor and he grieves the deaths of his loved ones at the hands of a vicious Serbian war criminal, Interpol agent Henri Poincare leads the investigation.  He starts with those close to Fenster like the victim’s former fiancée and his grad assistant; as both are missing.  However, the inquiry leads away from the females to a militant Christian Rapture group, but Poincare cannot rule out others interested in the late professor’s models.


This super cerebral police procedural is a terrific whodunit with a mathematical formula as the key to the homicide.  The story line focuses on chaos theory as Poincare quickly learns while dealing with the mathematician’s fractured personal life, religious fanatics and rival economists, and his own chaotic brain.  Readers who enjoy something different in their puzzlers will appreciate the aptly titled All Cry Chaos.


Harriet Klausner


Naughty in Nice-Rhys Bowen

July 29, 2011

Naughty in Nice

Rhys Bowen

Berkley, Sep 6 2011, $24.95

ISBN 9780425243497


In 1933 in spite of being 34th in the queue to the throne, Lady Georgiana Rannoch is impoverished.  She works in a London soup kitchen where she can save money an get some free meals. 


The Queen temporarily saves her from more terrible tasting food by assigning her an all expense paid trip to the French Riviera.  Her mission is to retrieve a snuff box stolen by nasty Sir Toby Groper.  In France, while riding the rails, Rannoch meets the legend Coco Chanel, who shocks the pauper when she asks her to model a new line of clothing when they arrive in Nice.  While doing her royal assignment and modeling for Coco Chanel, Georgina investigates whether her lover Darcy O’Mara is cheating on her.  However, her efforts merge when she is caught in the middle of a homicide and the royal necklace is lifted.


The latest endearing jocular Royal Spyness amateur sleuth (see Royal Blood) is a delightful Depression Era French Riviera romp.  The heroine is a charmer as she fumbles and bungles her investigation while strutting on the catwalk.  Coco Chanel adds to the fun as number 34 using the Queen’s money (she hopes) acts Naughty in Nice.


Harriet Klausner

Back of Beyond-C. J. Box

July 29, 2011

Back of Beyond

C. J. Box

Minotaur, Aug 2 2011, $25.99

ISBN: 9780312365745


In Montana, Lewis and Clark County Sheriff’s Department Investigator Cody Hoyt has a problem with the evidence in the house fire death of Hank Winters.  Apparently, Hank was intoxicated based on the flask near the corpse, but Cody knew the deceased personally when it came to alcohol; as Hank was Cody’s AA sponsor who saved him several times from going on binges.


Though removed from the case due to his connection, Cody believes his sponsor was murdered and due to his friend on the force Larry Olson he helps with the inquiry.  Cody finds a frightening series of links of cross country murders with the same modus operandi as the Winters’ death.  He also concludes the serial killer is heading to Yellowstone Park where Cody’s teenage son Justin, accompanied by Walt Franck the wealthy developer and fiancé to the investigator’s ex wife (and Justin’s mom).  Big city Cody goes to the Back of Beyond Yellowstone wilderness.


Joe Pickett gets a respite as C.J. Box introduces readers to a new law enforcement official who has personal and professional issues due to his drinking problem.  The investigation is deftly handled while the suspense is stratospheric.  Although some of the spins seem over the top of Granite Peak, fans will enjoy this tense thriller starring a flawed cop whose son is the stake in a cat and mouse game with a psychopath.


Harriet Klausner

The Bad Always Die Twice-Cheryl Crane

July 29, 2011

The Bad Always Die Twice

Cheryl Crane

Kensington, $25.00

ISBN 9780758258861


1950s TV star Rex March is found dead in the bed of realtor Jessica Martin.  Known for her sexual proclivity with living hunks, Jessica is stunned to have a corpse of her former lover in her bed. Rex was reported dead six months ago.  The police name her the prime suspect.


Jessica’s partner Nikki Harper, daughter of movie legend Victoria Bordeaux, investigates the case as she knows her friend would not kill anyone.  Nikki is extremely nice to those she interviews as she drops her mom the siren’s name on start struck Hollywood and charms information out of those she feels might have a motive to see Rex dead twice in under a year.


This is a fun entertaining amateur sleuth as Nikki tosses her DNA as the opener to meet suspects and then deploys her considerable charm (more DNA) to obtain info.  The mother-daughter relationship brings jocularity and warmth to the well written story line.  However, this is Nikki’ tale as she makes the murder mystery fun to read with her gutsy ballsy feminist inquiries.


Harriet Klausner

Flowering Judas-Jane Haddam

July 29, 2011

Flowering Judas

Jane Haddam

Minotaur, Aug 2 2011, $25.99

ISBN: 9780312644338


In Mattatuck, New York, the corpse of long missing college student Chester Morton is found hanging from a billboard that had been asking for information from anyone who had seen him for a dozen years.  The Local Police Chief Howard Androcoelho asks private investigator Gregor Demarkian to help investigate whether Morton was murdered or committed suicide as he was missing for a dozen years.


After taking his friend ninety-nine years old George Tekemanian to the hospital in Philadelphia, Gregor goes to Mattatuck.  Although concerned about his friend’s health that interferes with his case focus, Gregor still finds oddities that lead him to conclude Morton did not die on the billboard but was placed there after he was dead.  He soon finds a back pack near where the body was found; inside is the skeleton of an infant, which may have belonged to Chester.  While Gregor ponders why Chester vanished years ago, the deceased’s shrilling mother demands the cops arrest her son’s former girlfriend while also wanting odd information about her son.


The latest Gregor Demarkian private investigative thriller is an exciting tale that deftly contains a different type of inquiry compared to the last case (see Wanting Sheila Dead).  The protagonist works on the mystery of Chester Morton as he seeks answers to several whys that he believes will lead to the culprit; at the same time he is worried that his friend back home will not make it to celebrate his upcoming birthday.  Flowering Judas is a strong entry as Demarkian shows both his hard and soft boiled sides.


Harriet Klausner

The Neighbors Are Watching-Deborah Ginsburg

July 27, 2011

The Neighbors Are Watching

Deborah Ginsburg

Broadway, Aug 2 2011, $14.00

ISBN: 9780307463876


In the summer of 2007 seventeen year old pregnant Diana Jones arrives at her father Joe Montana’s home in the upper crust Fuller Court of San Diego.  Joe’s wife Allison is shocked by the biracial Diana’s arrival because her husband never mentioned a teenage daughter.  Feeling betrayed and irate as she had an abortion as Joe wanted no children, Allison cannot cope without alcohol as even her hair is no longer brushed.


Neighbors Dick and Dorothy Werner gloat over the scandal next door.  However, a few months later they are taken aback as their son Kevin is attracted to Diana and likes her newborn Zoe.  In October wildfires threaten the area while Diana vanishes.  Foul play is suspected as the teen’s extended family and the neighbors are suspects.


The Neighbors Are Watching is an entertaining thriller that looks deeply at the impact of Diana’s disappearance on her family and the neighbors though their eyes.  The cast is solid except ironically the missing person who may be the focus of the tale, but is more a shadow as there is not much action re what happened to Diana.  Still this is en enjoyable tale that centers on degrees of connection between people.


Harriet Klausner