Archive for July, 2011

Thunder In the Morning Calm-Don Brown

July 26, 2011

Thunder In the Morning Calm

Don Brown

Zondervan, Aug 28 2011, $14.99

ISBN: 9780310330141

 

U.S. Navy Lieutenant Commander Gunner McCormick as the intelligence officer assigned to the Pacific Rim Carrier Strike Force 10 arrives at the office of Naval Intelligence in Suitland, Maryland for a top secret briefing on the fleet joining the South Koreans in a joint exercise in the Yellow Sea.  However, the historical background catches Gunner’s attention when the report states there are probably still POWs in North Korea though the “Forgotten War” ended in an armistice six decades ago.

 

Back on the USS Harry Truman in the Yellow Sea, Gunner debriefs the officers and obtains permission for leave from Admiral Hampton as long as he leaves a number where he can be reached.  He says he will spend time in Seoul.  Thinking of part of the Soldier Creed “will never leave a fallen comrade” and using his inheritance, Gunner obtains the help of two retired soldiers, Jung-Hoon and Jackrabbit, to make a daring unauthorized three person commando raid to liberate the POWs.

 

The entertaining first Pacific Rim military thriller will obviously remind readers of Rambo (even Gunner’s recruits tell him that), but is much more as Don Brown places a spotlight on the Korean Police Action with its sixty years’ armistice.  The story line rotates between following Gunner and what has happened and is happening in a prison camp in North Korea.  Although over the top of Baekdu Mountain, readers will appreciate this terrific rescue attempt with a fascinating late twist as Thunder In the Morning Calm is a super thriller that pays homage to our military especially those who fought in the 1950s in Korea.

 

Harriet Klausner

 

Son of Stone-Stuart Woods

July 26, 2011

Son of Stone

Stuart Woods

Putnam, Sep 20 2011, $26.95

ISBN 9780399157653

 

Lawyer Stone Barrington has made full partner at Manhattan’s Woodman & Weld.  After his latest escapades (see Bel Air Dead), Stone plans to stay low key in New York and get closer with his teenage son Peter who he only recently learned he sired.  Stone’s former lover and Peter’s mother Arrington Calder wants that for both males.

 

Peter plans to attend Yale University Drama School as he wants to become a film director.  He and his dad develop a nice relationship while Arrington is sleeping with University of Virginia Architecture Professor Timothy Rutledge who oversees the finish to her mansion in Virginia.   Stone uses some of connections to help Peter with his career choice.  Meanwhile New York Post tabloid reporter Kelli Keane senses a scandal so she investigates the relationship between Stone and Arrington while a threat using Peter as the bait occurs.

 

Son of Stone is more of a family drama than the usual Barrington suspense thriller as Stone and Peter get to know each other while the father uses his influence to try to help his son further his career.  Well written with a surprising twist, the tension comes late as much of the tale is about father and son getting to know each other.

 

Harriet Klausner

 

Crack in Everything-Angela Gerst

July 26, 2011

Crack in Everything

Angela Gerst

Poisoned Pen, Sep 6 2011, $24.95

ISBN 9781590589441

 

In Waltham, Massachusetts attorney Susan Callisto becomes a political consultant.  Susan finds her clients to be pieces of work as she holds Roddie Baird’s hand as he needs help with everything he does.  At the same Callisto practices law helping restaurant owner Nino Biondi in a suit with his landlord Peter Lombard.

 

However, her third client Charles “Chaz” Renfro offers her $20,000 to help him in a last second run for the office of the mayor of Telford.  However, her three clients are difficult enough, but the murder of Renfro’s assistant Tori Moran and assaults on Biondi and Callisto make her wonder if she gave up more than just financial security when she left the prestigious Boston law firm.  Her former boyfriend State Detective Lieutenant Michael Benedict investigates the homicide and the attacks.

 

The first Susan Callisto amateur sleuth is an entertaining twisting tale as each time the heroine feels she is about to solve the situation, a new spin occurs.  Fast-paced with a strong protagonist and solid support cast, fans will enjoy the political consultant learning a “You Can’t Take It With You” lesson about money, power and clients.

 

Harriet Klausner

 

Under the Dog Star-Sandra Parshall

July 26, 2011

Under the Dog Star

Sandra Parshall

Poisoned Pen, Sep 6 2011, $24.95

ISBN 9781590588789

 

In Mason County, Virginia feral dogs apparently ripped the throat of Dr. Gordon Hall.  However, deputy sheriff Tom Bridger has doubts that a wild pack murdered Hall; he believes a human handler had his or her canine kill the victim as a part of an illegal dog fighting operation.  However proving his assertion and finding the real culprit appears impossible though he looks closely at the dysfunctional family of the victim.  The outraged locals plan to hunt down the packs even as dog-napping has arisen in the county.

 

At the same, Tom’s girlfriend veterinarian Rachel Goddard and her assistant Holly Turner try to prevent the canine massacre from occurring while their clinic wall has been posted by Missing Dog pleas.  They end up in the middle of Tom’s investigation while the local dog fighting ring chief watches them carefully in case they need to join Hall.

 

With a nod to the Michael Vick conviction, the latest Rachel Goddard amateur sleuth (see The Heat of the Moon and Broken Places) is a superb thriller that focuses on animal abuse inside of a strong whodunit.  The story line is action-packed with a strong mystery, but it is the description of the maltreatments of animals, whose images at times overwhelms the heroine, her assistant and the readers, and will remain in our memories long after the climax.

 

Harriet Klausner

 

Pirate King-Laurie R. King

July 26, 2011

Pirate King

Laurie R. King

Bantam, Sep 6 2011, $25.00

ISBN 9780553807981

 

In 1924 Scotland Yard Inspector Lestrade sends Mary Russell to investigate rumored criminal activity by the Fflytte Film Company.   Her husband Sherlock Holmes supports her going to Portugal to keep his wife and his soon to be visiting brother Mycroft from another combative round.

 

Mary arrives in Lisbon where she obtains a position as an Assistant’s assistant on the documentary about The Pirates of Penzance so she can make her inquiries undercover.  She detests Gilbert and Sullivan so the chore of working that production is difficult, but so are the day to day operations with so many pratfalls.  Holmes joins her as they cross the Mediterranean on the road to Morocco.

 

As MRH says in the Author’s Forward to the latest Russell memoirs (see The God of the Hive): “I fear that the credulity of many readers will be stretched to the breaking point” proves accurate as the exciting story line is over the top of the pirate ship’s mast.  Holmes arrives late (this is his wife’s memoir), but Baker Street fans will enjoy his spouse’s Peninsular adventures as this is an entertaining historical with Mary working the Pirate’s King caper and dealing with a Gilbert and Sullivan production. 

 

Harriet Klausner

 

Canyons of Night-Jayne Ann Krentz writing as Jayne Castle

July 25, 2011

Canyons of Night

Jayne Ann Krentz writing as Jayne Castle

Jove, Aug 30 2011, $7.99

ISBN 9780515149883

 

Fifteen years ago on Rainshadow Island, Charlotte Enright was recued by her hero Slade Attridge from the assault of three drunken off islander visitors near the Preserve.  She already had a young girl’s crush on the orphan teenager before he saved her.  She explained she could read auras, a useless talent for an arcane while he never was registered as a hunter but will soon leave for the Federal Bureau of Psi Investigation academy.

 

In the present, Charlotte runs her late Aunt Beatrix’s Looking Glass Antiques.  Slade has just retuned to be the island as the police chief though his talent has become somewhat muted after a traumatic incident though his buddy Rex the dust bunny remains at his side (and on his shoulder).  As the pair starts seeing one another, she finds the corpse of a persistent customer who her father felt was a stalker; someone killed Jeremy Gaines in Charlotte’s shop.

 

The final Looking Glass sci-fi romantic suspense (see In too Deep by Jayne Ann Krentz and Quicksilver by Amanda Quick) is an engaging and delightful paranormal police procedural.  The romantic subplot within the Rainshadow otherworld realm leads in a slow deliberate manner until the homicide investigation begins about half way into the story line, but still does not pick up much speed.  Still fans of the Arcane Society saga will enjoy a visit to the island of Rainshadow.

 

Harriet Klausner

 

Damage Control-Denise Hamilton

July 25, 2011

Damage Control

Denise Hamilton

Scribner, Sep 6 200, $26.00

ISBN 9780743296748

 

In 2009 in Los Angeles thirtyish middle class Maggie Silver works for Blair Company crisis management firm.  Her clients include the rich and famous up and down the Pacific Coast Highway while her job description is insuring the spin favors her firm‘s affluent customers.

 

The firm’s Jack Faraday assigns Maggie and others to work with U. S. Senator Henry Paxton.  When she was a teen she was best friends with his daughter Anabelle, but they no longer talk to each other following a tragedy.  Maggie wants out but has no choice but to be part of the team as she supports her ailing mom.  Paxton’s assistant twentyish media director Emily Mortimer was found dead; the senator is the last known person to have seen her at a bar at midnight. 

 

This is an exhilarating suspense thriller in which justice is irrelevant as the truth does not matter; only how good the spin is.  Character driven by Maggie, as an adult she struggles with her memories of an idyllic time that she begins to wonder how Eden it truly was.  Readers will appreciate Damage Control as the wealthy use experts to spin the media to tell the story their way.

 

Harriet Klausner

 

Lethal-Sandra Brown

July 25, 2011

Lethal

Sandra Brown

Grand Central, Sep 20 2011, $26.99

ISBN 9781455501472

 

In Tambour, Louisiana, four year old Emily Gillette informs her mother Honor that a stranger dripping blood is in their yard.  Assuming her daughter’s imagination is running wild, the Widow Honor checks anyway.  Holding a gun Lee Coburn is fleeing from the police who believe he killed seven people on a mass murder spree. 

 

Coburn searches her home hoping to find a clue left there by Honor’s late husband Eddie a cop who dies in a car accident two years ago.  He fails to find what he seeks.  Eddie’s father sends the cops to check on his granddaughter, but Coburn is already gone.  However, he shoots a cop Fred who he swears to Honor was sent there by the Bookkeeper who runs illegal trafficking and owns the local police, including Coburn believes her husband. 

 

This is an exciting thriller that grips the audience from the moment Coburn points his gun at the frightened mom and never slows down even with some intriguing subplots involving other people.  The entertaining story line is character driven by the mom who must decide between believing an accused mass murder who claims her late spouse was dirty and the cops including her husband she has known all her life.  Although the tale follows the anticipated course, fans will enjoy the visit to Tambour, the Gulf and DC with Sandra Brown as the tour guide.

 

Harriet Klausner

Inmate 1577-Alan Jacobson

July 25, 2011

Inmate 1577

Alan Jacobson

Norwood Press, Jul 28 2011, $29.99

www.norwoodpress.com

ISBN: 9780983626008

 

In 1955 in Northfield, New Jersey, the police are on the scene of the murder of Sally MacNalley with her seven year old son Henry as the witness.  Her husband Walton arrives and is arrested for the vicious homicide, but a jury found him not guilty.  However, his life is shattered though he tried to raise his son.

 

In the present in San Francisco, SFP Inspector Lance Burdon leads the investigation into the rape, sodomy and murder of an old woman.  FBI profiler Karen Vail is sent from DC to San Francisco to assist Burdon and his partner Detective Roxxann Dixon on the vicious homicide of the octogenarian.  The FBI agent does not want to return to California after the recent Napa Valley mess (see Velocity and Crush), but does.  In spite of the efforts of the trio, the ruthless psychopath rapes and kills other victims.  The clues lead to Alcatraz, a tourist attraction for decades, but still the Rock for its surviving former inmates.

 

The latest Vail police procedural is a fabulous thriller as the sarcastic profiler and the dedicated serious cops struggle to end a psychopath’s brutal killing spree.  Although serial killers are a too frequent breed in the sub-genre (including the Vail case The 7th Victim), readers will relish this action-packed tale as the Fed, and the locals play cat and mouse with a vicious lunatic.

 

Harriet Klausner

 

The Tale of Castle Cottage-Susan Wittig Albert

July 25, 2011

The Tale of Castle Cottage

Susan Wittig Albert

Berkley, Sep 6 2011, $24.95

ISBN 9780425243508

 

In the summer of1913, Beatrix Potter is currently residing at Hill Top Farm in the Lake District while working on her latest story The Tale of Pigling Bland.  She admits to her publisher that her eight drawings are not that good as Beatrix still recovers from her recent illness in which she lived with her parents at their domicile in Kensington.  As she works on her latest novel, Beatrix also oversees the renovation of her new home that she and her fiancé solicitor William Heelis will move into once Mr. Biddle finishes the Castle Cottage improvements and they are married (in spite of the doubts of her parents). 

 

While the author struggles with her new work, the locals of nearby Near Sawrey begin to misplace items ranging in value from baked goods to money to family heirlooms.  Her friend Sarah Barwick believes she is the victim of a thief, but fears it is someone she knows. However that pales in comparison to the death of carpenter Lewis Adcock who was just fired by Biddle.  Beatrix and Will end up investigating the thefts, the death and Biddle’s lack of commitment to the castle Cottage renovation.

 

The eighth Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter (see The Tale of Oat Cake Crag) is a great historical cozy that brings to life the Lake District just prior to WWI.  The story line is a wonderful entertaining tale as once again Susan Wittig Albert combines Ms. Potter’s real life, the fables of the animals who dominate her tales and an enjoyable amateur sleuth into a delightful story.

 

Harriet Klausner