Archive for August, 2011

Murder Unleashed-Rita Mae Brown

August 24, 2011

Murder Unleashed

Rita Mae Brown

Ballantine, Oct 4 2011, $25.00

ISBN: 9780345511836


The financial meltdown nuked Mags Rogers’ Wall Street career.  Humiliatingly, Mags and Baxter the dachshund move onto the ranch of her octogenarian Great Aunt Jeep Reed and King her Shepherd mutt in Reno. 


Nevada realtor Babs Gallagher tells her friends Mags and Jeep that several families she knows of live in squalid conditions in foreclosed homes; they have no utilities and if they did could not pay the bills.  The three females are appalled that in this day and age in America people survive without running water.  Led by Jeep they decide to launch a campaign to help the squatters. 


Running for Congress on a tough on personal responsibility rather than government dole, Patrick Wentworth uses the unfortunates as a wedge issue.  He plays up a homicide, another death and Jeep’s neighbor who was wounded as proof the sinful non taxpayers are destroying the community.   However the politico failed to count on the dog-gone sleuths.


The latest Jeep-King canine amateur sleuth tale(see A Nose for Justice) is more a moral condemnation of big business and the political puppets who dance as marionettes to the string pullers than a mystery; though the whodunit serves somewhat as an enhancer into the plight of homeless families.  The story line is fast-paced from the moment Jeep starts her campaign for sustenance with dignity and never slows down as the women and the dogs investigate crimes that break the law and crimes against humanity (and pets).


Harriet Klausner


Elvis and the Tropical Double Trouble-Peggy Webb

August 24, 2011

Elvis and the Tropical Double Trouble

Peggy Webb

Kensington, Sep 27 2011, $23.00

ISBN 9780758241412


Wanting to escape her man problems back home hairdresser Callie Valentine Jones accompanied by Elvis the reincarnated basset hound flees Mooresville, Mississippi to join her family at an archeological excavation dig near Cozumel, Mexico.  Her cousin Lovie’s boyfriend Rocky leads the work at the site.


Almost immediately upon arrival, Elvis finds human remains that are too modern to be ancient Mayan.  Even Callie’s inane mom recognizes a homicide when she sees the bone Elvis possesses.  Callie wants nothing to do with sleuthing as she hates getting involved, but feels she has no choice when Lovie and Elvis vanish just as her hopefully soon to be former husband Jack arrives like the cavalry at the crime scene


The fourth Southern Cousins mystery (see Elvis and the Grateful Dead, and Elvis and the Memphis Mambo Murders) is a zany intelligent cozy starring the extended eccentric Valentine brood.  Callie holds the story line focused as she reluctantly investigates her missing loved ones and by default the murder while she knows Jack will have her back.  Though Elvis is less of a hound dog than usual, fans will enjoy his (and Callie) Mexican adventures


Harriet Klausner

The Burning Soul-John Connolly

August 24, 2011

The Burning Soul

John Connolly

Atria, Sep 6 2011, $26.00

ISBN: 9781439265270


In Pastor’s Bay, Maine Randall Haight consults with attorney Aimee Price over unsigned threatening letters he receives in the mail at a time when fourteen years old Anna Kore vanished from a strip mall.  The anonymous author knows who Randall was.  When he was fourteen years old William Lagenheimer and a buddy raped and killed a teenage African-American girl.  He was convicted and did time.  Upon his release, the state court granted him a new identity.


Aimee persuades private investigator Charlie Parker to look into who the pen pal is and if the timing is deliberate to make Haight the suspect in the Kore case.  Although Charlie detests doing anything for a rapist-killer, he begins his inquiry into Haight’s claims of being a victim, a town without pity horrific heritage and the Kore clan’s bloody secrets.


The latest Charlie Parker investigation (see The Whisperers) is a superb mystery as readers will understand troubled Parker’s self flagellation as he realizes perhaps too late his arrogance could harm the abductee.  The story line starts slow but a few chapters in accelerates into a terrific running out of clock thriller with a great late twist as Parker and law enforcement know each hour a kidnap victim remains a captive means it is less likely finding the person alive.  Readers will appreciate Parker’s doubts as he wonders if he is doing more harm than good.


Harriet Klausner

The Affair-Lee Child

August 24, 2011

The Affair

Lee Child

Delacorte, Sep 27 2011, $28.00

ISBN 9780385344326


In 1997 in Carter Crossing, Mississippi someone slashes the throat of twentyish Janice May Chapman by an isolated railroad track.  The Pentagon is concerned that evidence points to a Ranger training in nearby Fort Kelham committed the homicide as Captain Reed Riley has connections as his father Carleton is chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee. 


Colonel Garber assigns military police officer Major Jack Reacher to go undercover to learn the truth and keep the local sheriff Elizabeth Deveraux under control without her knowing it.  Each distrusts the other but soon need to protect each other’s back from a dangerous cover-up as the military are uninterested in the facts; their preference is for a local hillbilly to take the rap.  However, Reacher becomes incompliant when he learns Janice is the third female to have been killed by this slasher.


The latest Reacher thriller (see Worth Dying For) is an exciting throwback tale to when the heroic vigilante was still in the Army.  Ironically though going back to the case that led to his leaving the military, there is not much new added to the Reacher mythos.  Still the story line is fast-paced and filled with action as Reacher learns what happens to officers doing their duty with personal courage vs. those with DC connections.


Harriet Klausner

Scorch City-Toby Ball

August 23, 2011

Scorch City

Toby Ball

St. Martin’s, Aug 30 2011, $25.99

ISBN: 9780312580834


In 1950 in the City reporter Frank Frings awakens Police Lieutenant Piet Westermann in the middle of the night.  He asks the ethical cop to help him move the corpse of a blonde found on the riverbank near the affluent Uhuru Community.  Frings believes if the competing powers learn a murdered while female was found inside the Negro community, all hell would break out. Reluctantly he agrees to move the body though he knows tampering would end his career while he also considers investigating though likewise that could be a career killer too as he is the most loathed cop in the City for his mathematical police deployment System.


The case turns nasty with more related deaths and all sorts of religious and racial bigotry.  Much of the media’s jaundiced commentary adds to heated exchanges as the Communist scare is played up.  However what makes the inquiry particularly ugly is election year politics using the victims as vote getters. 


Fifteen years have passed since The Vaults were opened up, but the City remains trapped in a corrupt system that destroys good honest people.  Scorch City is an exhilarating police procedural which focuses on the good, the bad and the ugly in a society in which corruption, connections and bigotry are the engines to success.  Readers will see parallels to the McCarthy-KKK era as it will not take much for the righteous to turn Uhuru into Scorch City.


Harriet Klausner

Bad Weeds Never Die-Christopher Valen

August 23, 2011

Bad Weeds Never Die

Christopher Valen

Conquill Press, Sep 1 2011, $15.00

ISBN: 9780980001730


In St. Paul’s Lowertown, at four in the morning patrol cop Palmer found a Mercedes splattered with blood left as the only vehicle still at a park and ride lot.  The owner Teresa Blackwood is missing.  Homicide Detectives John Santana and Kacie Hawkins lead the investigation.  Kacie thinks the missing owner might be the daughter of child psychologist Jonathan Blackwood whose TV show was pulled off the air for reasons other than low ratings.


They go to her condo and meet her frightened reluctantly cooperative live in lover Steven Larson the veterinarian who has a woman from work in his bedroom.  The two detectives meet her anxious father and her estranged twin Maria who chose drugs over work.  Jonathan explains that his daughters will inherit a million dollar plus a trust fund in two years, but if one dies before that the other inherits half the other’s money now.  Maria’s alibi is the family’s married lawyer Daniel Calloway and says her father is dating the cops’ boss Rita Gambolini.  They also learn that the twins’ biological mother came from Colombia where John fled when he was sixteen leaving behind his sister Natalia.  The suspect list grows and the case takes deadly ominous paths in Minnesota and Columbia.


The latest John Santana police procedural (see White Tombs and Black Minute) is an excellent investigative thriller as the two detectives methodically work a case that spins out of control with homicides.  Readers will enjoy accompanying Santana and Hawkins as they follow twisted leads in Minnesota while John learns you can’t go home in a world filled with violent predators.


Harriet Klausner


The Burning-Jane Casey

August 23, 2011

The Burning

Jane Casey

Minotaur, Aug 30 2011, $24.99

ISBN: 9780312614171


In London Parks, the notorious Burning Man has battered four women before setting them on fire.  A special police task force has no leads.  Detective Constable Maeve Kerrigan has two strikes against her in the London police as women and Irish are not very popular.  She hopes her work the Burning Man task force gives her the opportunity to prove he worth to her male superiors and colleagues.


Rebecca Haworth becomes the fifth victim but she does not fit the standard set by the Burning Man in his previous homicides though overall the specifics line up.  Her supervisor assigns Maeve to investigate Rebecca’s background to see why she was killed.  Her inquiry leads Maeve to Rebecca’s lonely best friend Louise North even as she begins to believe either a copy cat killer or someone concealing the homicide behind the Burning Man façade murdered the woman.


This opening British police procedural is an engaging serial killer investigation due to the diligent Maeve and to a lesser degree the fifth victim and her friend.  The inquiry is cleverly done to increase the tension as the count mounts.  Readers will enjoy this entertaining cat and mouse game as The Burning is a fast-paced thriller.


Harriet Klausner



Sweet Money-Ernesto Mallo; translated from the Spanish by Katherine Silver

August 22, 2011

Sweet Money

Ernesto Mallo; translated from the Spanish by Katherine Silver

Bitter Lemon, $14.95

ISBN 9781904738732


Jorge Turcheli is euphoric when he is named the new chief of the Buenos Aires police department.  He asks his associate Superintendent Lascano, still recovering from a bullet, to return to the force.  However, once an honest dedicated cop, Lascano wants to leave his homeland.  However, on his first day in his new job in his office, the Apostles drug-selling cops assassinate Jorge as they plan to put one of their own in charge.  The Apostle knows the next to kill is dedicated honest Lascano.


Meanwhile, Mole Miranda is released from Devoto Prison after spending one thousand four hundred and sixty one nights there for intellectual crimes.  He finds his family rejects him and his best friend spent much of his money. A desperate Mole decides to rob a bank, but that goes ugly.  Lascano sees an opportunity to leave Argentina with the bank robbery loot before the Apostles provide him with a funeral.


The second translated Lascano 1980s Argentina police procedural (see Needle in a Haystack) is a dark gloomy thriller in which corruption controls all aspects of the country.  The two leads appear as polar opposites but share in common how far they have fallen in a system that destroys the honest.  With plenty of fascinating metaphors to highlight the broken society, readers will appreciate this grim look at brutal Argentina less than three decades ago.


Harriet Klausner

Shock Wave-John Sandford

August 22, 2011

Shock Wave

John Sandford

Putnam, Oct 4 2011, $27.95

ISBN 9780399157691


Three weeks ago a bomb at the Michigan headquarters of the chain PyeMart left Executive Assistant Kelly Brown dead although CEO Willard Pye escaped unscathed.  In Butternut Falls, Minnesota, townsfolk are angrily divided over the superstore company setting up shop there.  Environmentalists know the poor record of the firm when it come to anything interfering with the bottom line profits while the small town’s storeowners know they will be driven out of business as has happened elsewhere.


A bomb ignites at the superstore’s construction site killing construction superintendent Gilbert Kingsley.  ATF investigates both explosions that have left PyeMart’s leadership shaken and behind on the Minnesota project.  Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension Agent Virgil Flowers also looks into the homicide at Butternut Falls, but finds many townsfolk remain defiant and hostile towards the company’s “invasion”, but who would take the opposition to such deadly lengths remains hard to determine.


The fifth Virgil Flowers police procedural (See Rough Country and Bad Blood) is a great whodunit as the state cop makes inquires using modern technology and inductive reasoning to try to solve a case with too many suspects.  The town already tense before the deadly explosion brings a profound look at development vs. preservation/environmentalism, but does it inside a well written investigation starring the amusingly self deprecating Minnesota cop.


Harriet Klausner

Attracted to Fire-DiAnn Mills

August 21, 2011

Attracted to Fire

DiAnn Mills

Tyndale, Oct 1 2011, $12.99

ISBN: 9781414348643


Like all the dedicated agents who work for the Secret Service, Meghan Connors hopes to protect POTUS.  Her current assignment is one Megan would prefer to not have, but she knows this is the last step before POTUS as the dedicated agent diligently tries to keep the Vice President’s daughter Lindsay Hall safe as her father makes a bid for the Oval office.  This is not an easy task as Lindsey is a rebel without a cause whose addictive behavior places her in awkward often dangerous situations while also causing harm to her dad’s campaign.


To keep Lindsey safe from a viable threat, she is exiled to the remote Dancin’ Dust Ranch in Texas.  Vice President Hall demands Lindsey accompany his daughter while Agent Ash Zinders is also assigned to the team.  However though the ranch is in the middle of nowhere, the attempted assaults on Lindsay escalate with bombings and homicides.  Although they are rivals for the opening slot on the POTUS protection unit, Agents Connors and Hall rely on one another as they keep their charge safe while investigating why Lindsey remains a target with her so removed from DC.


This is a tense romantic suspense thriller in which readers learn quickly how dedicated and diligent the Secret service Agents are as they risk their lives to protect their charges.  The romance is typical of the sub-genre as a critical grump falls in love with a peer who understands addiction from her sister’s issues.  Although readers will ironically identify the villain long before anyone else does, the key to this strong taut tale is the whodunit while keeping Lindsay is the prime focus of the story line and the two agents.


Harriet Klausner