Archive for September, 2011

Picture of Lies-C.C. Harrison

September 29, 2011

 Picture of Lies

C.C. Harrison

Five Star, Oct 21 2011, $25.95

ISBN: 9781432825065


Ever since her little girl Daisy was snatched on the San Diego beach, investigative reporter Keegan Thomas lives in a world of anger, rage and depression.  The cops declared the abduction a cold case, but not to Keegan.  The Offbeat Arizona magazine writer has gained numerous awards and national attention with her series on missing children; five of whom went home.


Her relationship with Jeffrey over, but still on vacation, Keegan decides to visit Monument Valley where her grandfather was a Bureau of Indian Affairs doctor on the Navajo Indian Reservation.  Her cousin gave her an old photo of her grandfather with other people who she plans to meet and interview for a potential article.


The Navaho refuse to cooperate with the “Nosy Pants” reporter; who wants to chat with any of those in the photo still living.  Jilly Wolf introduces the journalist to her grandmother.  Keegan learns that missionaries took one of the children in the picture.  Soon afterward someone murders Jilly’s grandmother.  Not sure why, Keegan knows an unknown predator will kill apparently to keep buried secrets interred.  With assistance from archeologist Dante “Shovel Bum” Covelli, she begins to learn why but she may be the next victim silenced by those who want the truth to remain hidden.


The entertaining return to Monument Valley (see The Charmstone) with a different heroine is an engaging romantic suspense thriller that once again includes a deep look at Navajo customs and recent history.  Keegan is a fascinating lead who has never been the same since the traumatic abduction.  Although somewhat over the top of Kings Peak, fans will relish a dedicated no longer whole heroine trying to do what is right for the little victims of family disputes.


Harriet Klausner


The Cheaters / Dial M for Man-Orrie Hitt

September 27, 2011

The Cheaters / Dial M for Man

Orrie Hitt

Stark House, Oct 28 2011, $19.95

ISBN: 978-1933586359


“The Cheaters.”  Big twentyish Clint Mayer leaves his hometown of Beaverkill for working class Wilton.  He meets Charlie Fletcher, owner of a bar near the docks.  Charlie also runs a prostitution ring, in which he pays Police Detective Red Brandon extortion money.  Clint offers to buy out Charlie’s businesses until he meets the man’s wife Debbie.  He revises his business plan to include Debbie.  However, he failed to understand how ambitious and lethal Debbie is.


“Dial M For Man.”  TV repairman Hob Sampson makes a house call to fix the set of Doris Condon, wife of wealthy Ferris who holds a grudge against him.  Upon seeing the beautiful blonde bombshell, Hob knows she is trouble for him.  He tries to focus on his Kathy, but like a moth to a light he cannot resist Doris.  Although he knows what he does is amoral, Hob needs Ferris eliminated so he can be with Doris; who has a different ending in mind for her new knight in shining armor,


These two exciting 1950s pulp fiction reprints share a common theme as outlined in the Afterward (by Michael Hemmingson) of a man losing his moral compass to a femme fatale married to a rich older person.  Both entries are mindful of James M. Cain’s Double Indemnity, as Orrie Hitt provides two exciting character driven thrillers that will have readers seeking more from an author who brings out the gritty sleazy side of 1950s towns; Brian Ritt’s Introduction provides more on Mr. Hitt’s sense of place.


Harriet Klausner

Reunion-Carl Brookins

September 27, 2011


Carl Brookins

Echelon, Aug 31 2011, $13.99

ISBN: 9781590806685


Jack Marston is the student services director at City College in Minneapolis.  He lives with his beloved Lori Jacobs.  When she receives an invitation to attend the Riverview class of 1989 twenty year high school reunion, Lori hesitates as she says little about her teen years.  Jack agrees to accompany her though she seems reluctant.  He figures he will learn so much about the woman he loves when they visit her roots.


The first night dinner and icebreaker is held at Georgina’s 40-Mile Club.  However, the return home proves brutal as someone murders former quarterback Elroy Guteman near the club.  More homicides follow as Jack and Lori become embroiled in Sheriff Arnason’s investigation into a vicious pack eating alumni.


The latest Jack Marston amateur sleuth (see Bloody halls) is an entertaining whodunit as a serial killer with a vendetta attacks the class of 89.  The story line is fast-paced from the moment the lead couple arrives in Riverview and never slows until the final confrontation.  Readers will enjoy this strong Minnesota thriller as Jack learns you get what you wish for as he knows a lot about his girlfriend’s past now since it is deadly haunting the present.


Harriet Klausner

The Chocolate Castle Clue-JoAnna Carl

September 27, 2011

The Chocolate Castle Clue

JoAnna Carl

Obsidian, Oct 4 2011, $22.95

ISBN: 9780451234742


In Warner Pier, Michigan, TenHuis Chocolade is owned by Aunt Nettie, but run by her Texas niece Lee Woodyard.  After delaying for months cleaning out the storage room, Lee begins the task finding stuff that are four decades old including a trophy and related paraphernalia form over forty years ago when the singing group Pier-O-Ettes won a contest at Castle Ballroom; Aunt Nettie and five other young girls made up the group.


The singing group is having a reunion and everyone associated with the sextet is elated except elderly angry Mrs. Rice, the wife of the late Daniel, owner of the long demolished Castle Ballroom.  Mrs. Rice tells Lee and her husband Joe that her aunt is a slut just like the other singers and this time they will get what they deserved over forty years ago when Rice died from a gunshot to the heart.  When someone murders Mrs. Rice, Lee becomes the next target as she learns the Pier-O-Ettes were tied to the death four decades ago, but the secrets of how and why remain concealed.


The latest Chocoholic cozy (see The Chocolate Pilot Plot) is an entertaining whodunit as Lee is caught at the angle of a death forty plus years ago and a murder today.  The exciting story line includes chocolate trivia, but it is the two deaths of the Rice couple four decades apart that make for an enjoyable amateur sleuth as Lee learns reunions can prove deadly.


Harriet Klausner


Skeleton Letters-Laura Childs

September 27, 2011

Skeleton Letters

Laura Childs

Berkley Prime Crime, Oct 4 2011, $25.95

ISBN: 9780425243893


Memory Mine scrapbooking shop owner Carmella Bertrand and JuJu Voodoo store owner Ava Gruiex visit historic spooky St. Tristan’s Church in New Orleans’ French Quarter.  The friends hear a noise followed by a scream and a crash.  A hooded figure pushed a statue onto Byrle Coopersmith, a regular attendee at Carmella’s scrapbook group.  The culprit escapes as Ava calls 911.  They also learn that an ancient crucifix apparently was stolen also.


NOPD Detective Edgar Babcock warns his girlfriend Carmella to stay out of the investigation as he knows she is prone to snoop.  He also tells her the killer used blunt force with St. Sebastian as the murder weapon.  However when Babcock fails to take the lead and encouraged by the scrapbook regulars who do not trust dispassionate detective Bobby Gallant to dig deep, Carmella and Ava investigate the murder of a friend.


Although amateur sleuths coincidentally finding a corpse and feeling compelled to behave foolishly by investigating are not new concepts (see Death Swatch), readers will enjoy the latest scrapbooking mystery (see Fiber & Brimstone) as the BFFs place themselves in danger with their inquiry.  The cozy is fun to follow and there are plenty of scrapbooking tips.  Fans of the series will root for the dynamic duo as they work the case of a regular murdered in a church.


Harriet Klausner

A Dark and Lonely Place-Edna Buchanan

September 25, 2011

A Dark and Lonely Place

Edna Buchanan

Simon & Schuster, Nov 8 2011, $26.00

ISBN 9781439159170


In 1904 West Florida, Joe Ashley comes home late informing his wife Leugenia that they and their nine kids must leave immediately as a man was shot and he will be accused.  His son John grabs his guitar and banjo before running to see his girlfriend Laura Upthegrove to say goodbye for now.  However, John is falsely accused of murder and with Laura at his side flees with much of the state’s law enforcement in pursuit.


In 2011 Miami Beach, homicide detective John Ashley leads the investigation into the high profile murder of politically connected Indian lawyer Ron Jon Eagle.  However, he is stunned when he notices a model Summer Smith at a photo shoot who looks identical to the woman who has haunted his dreams for years; though he has never mentioned his fantasy female to his fiancé cop Tracy Dominguez.  He also believes she sort of recognized him too by her reaction.  John catches up with his model, but soon is accused of murder and forced on the lam with Laura (Summer’s real name) at his side while many of the state’s law enforcement pursue.


This is an exhilarating thriller as the premise to A Dark and Lonely Place is history repeats the ugly scenarios because humanity fails to truly understand the lessons instead preferring to forget.  The two subplots are fascinating with the historical segue based on a real Sunshine State Bonnie and Clyde.  Although at times the contemporary plot seems stretched to make it appear identical to what happened to the first John and Laura, readers will enjoy Edna Buchanan’s taut thriller.


Harriet Klausner

Scotched-Kaitlyn Dunnett

September 25, 2011


Kaitlyn Dunnett

Kensington, Nov 1 2011, $22.00

ISBN: 9780758238818


In Moosetookalook, Maine the Spruces Hotel hosts the First Annual Maine-ly Cozy Con for mystery fans who prefer limited violence and no graphic sex.  The headline at the May gala is actress turned mystery writer Yvonne Quinlan.  Also attending is odious blogger J. Nedlinger, who described the actress’ book as trash to be tossed out.  The town’s storekeepers look forward to the gala as they expect plenty of cozy aficionados will buy items from shops such as at Liss MacCrimmon’s everything plaid Scottish Emporium.


However, the Con turns graphically ugly when Nedlinger falls off Lover’s Leap cliff.  While no one liked the vicious unscrupulous blogger, everyone assumes it was a horrible accident.  However, Liss reconsiders that premise when she realizes how many people celebrate the death of J. Nedlinger.  When another victim surfaces, Liss and her town cohorts investigate who is murdering the Con.


Scotched is an engaging MacCrimmon amateur sleuth as the heroine and her BFFs look into the homicides.  The background of a cozy Con makes for a fun retinue as does springtime in Maine.  Cozy fans will enjoy attending the First Annual Maine-ly Cozy Con.


Harriet Klausner

Bad Moon-Todd Ritter

September 25, 2011

Bad Moon

Todd Ritter

Minotaur, Oct 11 2011, $24.99

ISBN: 9780312622817


In 1969 as Neil Armstrong steps on the moon, the parents of nine year old Charlie Olmstead go to get him to watch on TV, but he is not in his bedroom as they thought.  Perry Hollow, Pennsylvania Police Chief Jim Campbell leads the search that ends when they find the lad’s bike at the bottom of a nearby waterfall.  Although his body was never found, the cops assumed he drowned.


Four decades later, Charlie’s brother Eric has returned to Perry Hollow to bury his mother.  In honor of his mom who never gave up the hope her son would come home, he asks his high school girlfriend Police Chief Kat Campbell to reopen the cold case disappearance of his sibling.  Eric also hires injured former state police officer turned cold case investigator Nick Donnelly to look into his brother’s disappearance.  The trio finds newspaper clippings in the house of Eric’s late mom.  Kat does a follow-up having a much better data base than her dad had; she uncovers the fact that several children vanished in what was called accidents during moon landings.  As the threesome connect the dots of an apparent serial killer, Kat’s fifth grade son James resents his single mom spending all her time on the inquiry and none on him.


The second Kat and Nick collaboration (see Death Notice) is a terrific investigative thriller that grips the reader from the onset and several stunning but plausible spins later leaves fans satiated yet craving a third team-up soonest.  The story line is fast-paced while rolling back the years using the successes and failures of NASA as a launch into political upheavals over forty years.  Bad Moon is a powerful serial killer whodunit.


Harriet Klausner

The Blood-Red Indian Summer-David Handler

September 25, 2011

The Blood-Red Indian Summer

David Handler

Minotaur, Oct 11 2011, $24.99

ISBN: 9780312648350


The NFL suspends volatile New York superstar linebacker Tyrone “Da Beast” Grantham for the season due to his off the field “beasted” assaults that are detrimental to the league’s image.  Da Beast takes his six children from five women and his fawning horde from the Big Apple to a mansion in Dorset, Connecticut. 


However, his idyllic time out of the limelight to allow civil suits against him to be settled and maybe get him reinstated ends when his teenage sister-in-law Kinitra a popular singer is rescued from certain drowning by neighbor scrawny Jewish-American film critic Mitch Berger and his moving parents on the Gold Coast; she is bloodied and battered.  The cops suspect Da Beast who has a reputation for Beasted behavior.  Even his pregnant wife Jamella, sister to the victim, believes her spouse battered her sibling.  As the media drives north from New York to invade Dorset, two of the linebacker’s biggest critics are executed.  Berger’s lover six-foot plus African-American Connecticut state trooper Desiree “Des” Mitry leads the investigation assisted by her depressed dad the Deacon recovering from heart surgery and Mitch.


The latest Des-Mitch investigation (see The Shimmering Blond Sister) is a great whodunit that combines a strong inquiry with human interest.  Besides the well written whodunit, there is Da Beast’s legacy mindful of NFL stars’ legal problems, another neighbor turning into a demented voyeur, and the tsuris the parents of the lead protagonists face as age is catching up to them.  Readers will enjoy this engaging Connecticut murder mystery as David Handler provides a super combo of sports headline news with personal problems inside of an attempted murder and homicide investigation.


Harriet Klausner

Burned-Thomas Enger

September 25, 2011


Thomas Enger

Atria, Oct 4 2011, $15.00

ISBN: 9781451616453


In 2007 Oslo, the arsonist set the home of investigative reporter Henning Juul ablaze.  Henning survived with sever burns to his face and other body parts while his young son Jonas died in the inferno.  His marriage to reporter Nora Klemetsen also went up in smoke.  Unable to work Henning takes a two year hiatus before returning to work at 123news. 


His current boss Heidi Kjus was one of the many journalists he mentored.  She assigns him to work with Iver Gundersen, who is stepping out with Nora, on the homicide of twentyish Henriette Hagerup.  The victim was found inside a tent on Ekeberg Common where she was partially interred, her body battered and a hand severed.  OPD Detective Investigator Bjarne Brogeland focuses on the Westerdals School of Communication film student’s Pakistani boyfriend Mahmoud Marhoni with the motive being a sharia honor kill as her texting implies she was dating someone else and he tried to flee from the cops.  The virtual tips from 6tiermes7 Juul centers his inquiry on Henriette’s screenplay A Sharia Caste co-written with Anette Skoppum. 


This is an intriguing Norwegian whodunit as the motive is the key to solving the case.  All the circumstantial evidence points to a Sharia kill by her boyfriend, but Juul helped by an on line informant looks at the screenplay as the cause.   Juul’s mental state surfaces when he and the killer witness one another while the latter murders again.  Although the mystery contains too many headline issues especially involving Muslim expatriates living in Denmark, readers will root for Burned out Juul to solve the homicide.


Harriet Klausner