Archive for October, 2011

Death, Taxes and a French Manicure-Diane Kelly

October 31, 2011

Death, Taxes and a French Manicure

Diane Kelly

St. Martin’s, Nov 1 2011, $7.99

ISBN: 9780312551261

 

IRS Agent Tara Holloway works white collar tax frauds.  Her small town kick butt Texas attitude works great when dealing with violent Dallas offenders.  Working a case with agent Eddie Bardin, she is forced to fire her gun at menacing felon Battaglia, shooting a box cutter knife from his hand.  Thus in spite of her cut arm, she earns the rep of Annie Oakley.

 

Tara’s boss Lu “Lobo” Lobozinksi assigns her first solo task to investigate a granny complaint that ice-cream truck salesman Joseph “Joe Cool” Cullen failed to report his profits from selling illegal drugs to teenagers.  Her other major inquiry is much more complex than a drug dealer.  She scrutinizes the dealings of financier Michael Gryder and banker Stan Shelton, who appear to be running a Ponzi scheme.  The problem is her best friend Brett Ellington is Shelton’s landscaper.

 

The first exciting Tara Holloway IRS investigative tale is an entertaining story that stars a tomboyish mascara wearing noir heroine who appreciates a French manicure.  The story line is lighthearted fun as Tara works the Dallas beat along with other agents.  Although some readers may dislike the wisecracking asides especially when facing danger; the story line is filled with humor and satire as the IRS does not care whether the gains are legal only that Sam collects its share.

 

Harriet Klausner

The Black Stiletto-Raymond Benson

October 31, 2011

The Black Stiletto

Raymond Benson

Oceanview, Sep 5 2011, $25.95

ISBN: 9781608090204

 

Septuagenarian Judy Talbot resides in the Woodlands Nursing Home in Riverwoods, Illinois.  “Uncle” Thomas gives Judy’s forty-eight year old divorced son Martin the accountant a journal.  Judy gave the dairy to Thomas to give to Martin if the time is right.

 

Martin is stunned to learn his ailing mom claimed she was the famous pop hero of five decades ago the Black Stiletto vigilante.  Judy explains what happened in 1958 when she was twenty years old.  Being very tall and athletically gifted with incredible senses she dedicated herself to fighting evil.  Disbelieving her account though there is great detail and he knew his mom was a terrific athlete, the skeptical Martin changes his mind when seventy-eight years old Roberto Ranelli, just released from prison after a fifty-two year stay, arrives to threaten Judy, her son and her granddaughter.

 

This exciting thriller moves back and forth between Martin reading his mom’s diary and Judy’s description of her exploits; bridging the five decades is Ranelli who has a voice in both decades.  The story line is over the top of Wrigley Field, but fun to read especially the fast-paced exploits as accounted by a young female heroine.

 

Harriet Klausner

The Black Stiletto

Raymond Benson

Oceanview, Sep 5 2011, $25.95

ISBN: 9781608090204

 

Septuagenarian Judy Talbot resides in the Woodlands Nursing Home in Riverwoods, Illinois.  “Uncle” Thomas gives Judy’s forty-eight year old divorced son Martin the accountant a journal.  Judy gave the dairy to Thomas to give to Martin if the time is right.

 

Martin is stunned to learn his ailing mom claimed she was the famous pop hero of five decades ago the Black Stiletto vigilante.  Judy explains what happened in 1958 when she was twenty years old.  Being very tall and athletically gifted with incredible senses she dedicated herself to fighting evil.  Disbelieving her account though there is great detail and he knew his mom was a terrific athlete, the skeptical Martin changes his mind when seventy-eight years old Roberto Ranelli, just released from prison after a fifty-two year stay, arrives to threaten Judy, her son and her granddaughter.

 

This exciting thriller moves back and forth between Martin reading his mom’s diary and Judy’s description of her exploits; bridging the five decades is Ranelli who has a voice in both decades.  The story line is over the top of Wrigley Field, but fun to read especially the fast-paced exploits as accounted by a young female heroine.

 

Harriet Klausner

Gideon’s Sword-Douglas Preston & Child

October 30, 2011

Gideon’s Sword

Douglas Preston & Child

Vision/Grand Central, Oct 25 2011, $7.99

ISBN: 9780446564311

 

On her dying bed, the mother of art thief Gideon Crew informs him his late father was framed and murdered by his Army Intel Officer superiors to take the fall for their blunders.  She makes him take a death bed pledge to avenge his dad.  As he did as a thief, Gideon prepares for his mission and after a few years completes his mother’s last plea.

 

Gideon takes his first vacation since he leaned the truth about his father.  While he is fly-fishing, a Department of Homeland Security agent, who observed how meticulous and successful Crew was on his family vendetta, offers him money to obtain the plans of a special weapon of mass destruction being brought from China to New York.  Having doubts about the case, the Fed throws in the fact that Crew is dying from an incurable disease.  Meanwhile the Chinese hire Nodding Crane to regain their WMD plans.

 

This is an entertaining over the top of the Empire State Building thriller starring an intriguing hero with a depressing history.  The enemy agent is cartoonish as a super killing machine, but he adds fun to the tale that initially will remind readers of the TV show Revenge until DHS recruits Crew.  Readers will root for Crew as he battles a powerful adversary for the plans to a WMD.

 

Harriet Klausner

 

Resuscitation-D.M. Annechino

October 30, 2011

Resuscitation

D.M. Annechino

Thomas & Mercer, Oct 11 2011, $14.95

ISBN: 9781612180717

 

Two years ago, San Diego homicide detective Sami Rizzo confronted a serial killer who she felt took away her zest for police work (see They Never Die Quietly).  After resolving the case but not before the predator tortured her, she resigned.  Sami remains conflicted over quitting the department while struggling with her relationships with loved ones.

 

Sami learns that a corpse has been found in Mission Bay Park with the sternum surgically cut.  Other bodies also sliced with physician’s precision also surface as if someone was conducting medical experiments.  Like SDPD, Sami believes a serial killer is loose and she wants in on the case. 

 

A child abuse victim, heart surgeon Dr. Julian seeks a cure for atrial fibrillation, which killed his mother.  However, his grant request is denied, which spins his already psychosis into an obsessive compulsive need. 

 

Sami’s super second case is an exhilarating thriller due to the lead antagonists as D.M. Annechino provides an insightful comparative analysis of how two people cope radically different with traumas.  Ironically Julian’s rationale that the end justifies the means makes him the more fascinating character as his defense rings authentic especially since 9/11.  Although there are too many subplots involving family members, fans will appreciate this entertaining thought provoking police procedural.

 

Harriet Klausner

Hot Water-Erin Brockovich and C.J. Lyons

October 29, 2011

Hot Water

Erin Brockovich and C.J. Lyons

Vanguard, Nov 8 2011, $25.99

ISBN: 9781593156848

 

Following the death of her lover Cole, the father of her nine year old son David who suffers from cerebral palsy, A.J. Palladino returns to her hometown, Scotia, West Virginia.  The environmental activist partners with attorney Elizabeth Hardy on environmental investigations.  Owen Grandel wants to hire the famous A.J. to persuade protestors that his nuclear power plant is safe.  The million dollar fee will help care for her disabled child.

 

Ignoring her values A.J. accompanies Owen to his plant in South Carolina.  Her actions upset David who detests his mom selling out because of his condition.  The tweener also overhears his grandfather plotting to gain custody of him.  He turns to family friend Sheriff Ty to counter the diabolical lethal scheme of his grandfather.  In South Carolina, as a hurricane bears down on the state, a fanatic wants to use the reactor to trigger Armageddon.

 

With the recent nuclear mess in Japan, Hot Water is a relevant environmental thriller that grips the audience once A.J. and Owen meet.  The heroine is caught between her values and her son’s economic needs, which add realism to the mix.  Although the detracting grandfather plot is over the top of Sassafras Mountain, the clean safe nuclear energy issue makes for a fabulous A.J. environmental thriller (see Rock Bottom).

 

Harriet Klausner

A Deadly Penance-Maureen Ash

October 29, 2011

A Deadly Penance

Maureen Ash

Berkley, Nov 1 2011, $14.00

ISBN: 9780425243367

 

In a freezing February in 1203, Serjeant of the Castle Garrison Ernulf walks the ramparts when he discovers the corpse of visitor Aubrey Tercel, part of the retinue of Peternille de la Haye, sister of the hereditary castellan Nicolaa de la Haye.  The victim was obviously shot by a specially made longbow that Nicolaa’s late father gave her.  Since the sheriff Gerald Camville is away, Ernulf informs Richard Camville, the son of Gerald and Ernulf.  Richard and Ernulf conduct a preliminary investigation before telling Richard’s mom, aunt and cousin Alinor de Humez.  They send for the coroner Pinchbeck who arrives to collect a fee for the death, but also claims that he is busy so Richard should investigate.

 

Nicolaa asks the Templar Preceptor d’Arderon if Knight Bascot de Marins can help with a homicide inquiry as he has solved murder mysteries before (see Shroud of Dishonor and Murder for Christ’s Mass)  Thus he comes to Lincoln Castle to team up with Richard and Alinor, and assisted by Gianni who he brought with him from the Italian streets.  The obvious culprit is Simon Adgate the furrier who’s much younger wife Clarice acts like her lover died.  However, the case proves much more complicated with the roots born in 1177.

 

For the first quarter of the latest Templar Knight mystery, Bascot does not appear as Richard and Ernulf start the investigation.  The four detectives make a wonderful team as their discussions are intelligent and relevant.  Fans of medieval cozies, set in a vividly described background in which readers will feel the cold, will enjoy A Deadly Penance.

 

Harriet Klausner

Behind the Seams-Betty Hechman

October 18, 2011

Behind the Seams

Betty Hechman

Berkley, Nov 1 2011, $24.95

ISBN: 9780425241424

 

The Tarzana Hookers crochet group is excited as one of their members, actress CeeCee Collins has made a comeback with insiders talking Oscar.  CeeCee is excited with appearing on the popular Barbara Olive Overton Show where her niece Nell works as a production assistant.  Although the movie star is wary that she has to cook a dish, Molly Pink and other Hookers mentor CeeCee.

 

While the Tarzana Hookers sit in the audience, Barbara interviews CeeCee until Adele starts shouting that crocheters deserve equal time with knitters.  Adele and Molly, who tried to get the outspoken Hooker to sit, are removed from the auditorium by segment producer Robyn Freed.  Nell brings a latte to Robyn who lectures her for not bringing her sweetener.  Nell gets it and Robyn sips her cold coffee only to fall down dead.  Detective Heather leads the homicide investigation in which the only suspect is Nell.  As Nell is placed on leave, CeeCee asks Molly, who has solved mysteries (see You Better Knot Die) to investigate.  Molly begins her inquiry fascinated by a photo on the victim’s desk in which a person has been cut out.

 

The latest Tarzana Hookers amateur sleuth is an entertaining tale although the whodunit for much of the story line plays second fiddle to the Behind the Seams look at the group.  Nell is a delightful protagonist who is in denial as to how much trouble she is in. Cozy fans will enjoy this lighthearted whodunit as CeeCee trusts Molly to extract Nell from going to prison while Adele keeps screaming for Crocheters to unite.

 

Harriet Klausner

A Study in Scarlet-Laurie R. King (Editor) and Leslie S. Klinger (Editor)

October 16, 2011

A Study in Scarlet

Laurie R. King (Editor) and Leslie S. Klinger (Editor)

Bantam, Oct 25 2011, $15.00

ISBN: 9780812982466

 

The sixteen contributions are over all quite good with no clinkers though few are outstanding enough to stand out in the vast Sherlock universe.  Alan Bradley opens the overall engaging homage to the great detective of 221B Baker Street with a throwback tale that comes across as if Mr. Doyle wrote You’d Better Go in Disguise” if you want to catch a killer in a park.  Tony Broadbent as a modern day taxi driver give a fare “As to an “Exact Knowledge of London” tour in a strange but enticing entry.  In 1901 President McKinley meets with Holmes in Buffalo with a strange request (see “Starling Events in the Electrified City” by Thomas Perry).  An Anglophile FBI agent investigate the murder of an American in London, only to learn the path from Baker Street to Leavenworth is through Pennsylvania in “The Bone Headed league” by Lee Child.  The Margolin brothers have Baker Street trivia guru New Yorker Ronald Adair on the moors solving “The Adventure of the Purloined Paget.”  Colin Cotterill provides a refreshing amusing take with his animated “The Mysterious Case of the Unwritten Short Story.”  Finally Jacqueline Winspear ends the collection with an ailing lad inspired after reading Holmes to solve the case with “A Spit of Detection.”

 

Harriet Klausner

Dangerous Alterations-Elizabeth Lynn Casey

October 16, 2011

Dangerous Alterations

Elizabeth Lynn Casey

Berkley, Nov 1 2011, $7.99

ISBN: 9780425244616

 

At the local clinic, town librarian Tori Sinclair and the members of the Sweet Briar Ladies Society provide support to the knitting circle’s matriarch Rose Winter as she receives treatment for rheumatoid arthritis.  Tori is taken aback by another patient at the clinic.  Two years ago in Chicago, she was engaged to Jeff Calder but caught him with a friend.  She broke it off and took the library position in Sweet Briar, South Caroline.  Now Jeff’s Great-Aunt Vera is at the clinic, but soon dies from heart failure.

 

Lynn, the wife of Vera’s stepson Garrett, is at the clinic; she suffers from breast cancer.  She asks Tori to call Jeff as she knows Garrett will not since he hates his relative.  Tori does the right thing and even picks up the womanizing personal trainer Jeff at the airport.  When Jeff asks for a second chance, Tori rejects him as she has a caring beau schoolteacher Milo and the friendship of the sewing circle life rafts.  Though in great shape, Jeff dies of a heart attack while jogging, which is not a shocker since it runs in his family.  However, because of a recent physical, the police treat Jeff’s death as a murder with family members and Tori as suspects.  The sewing circle sisters investigate the death.

 

The latest Southern Sewing Circle amateur sleuth (see deadly Notions) is an entertaining whodunit with the investigative subplot coming late.  Instead much of the story line focuses on the Sweet Briar Ladies Society members especially Tori with Jeff in town and Milo away at a convention.  With a deft look at health care insurance, fans will enjoy this fun regional cozy which includes how to knit a comfort pillow.

 

Harriet Klausner

 

 

The Talk Show Murders-Al Roker and Dick Lochte

October 16, 2011

The Talk Show Murders

Al Roker and Dick Lochte

Delacorte, Dec 6 2011, $26.00

ISBN 9780385343701

 

Wake Up, America! Morning show is on location in Chicago.  Retired CPD cop Edward “Pat” Patton, the extreme right wing true crime blogger, guests appears on the show.  He accosts the co-host Billy Blessing; whom he knew when the renowned chef was a two bit con artist Billy Blanchard who was sent to prison for fraud and implies he also knows what happened to Billy’s partner in that failed Detroit sting from twenty-five years ago.

 

After prison, Blessing did a complete makeover but concealed his sordid past.  Patton threatens to out him on his blog unless Blanchard pays for silence.  However, someone murders Patton and soon other homicides associated with the show occur.  Still fearing exposure, Blessing investigates hoping to expose the killer.

 

The latest Blessing amateur sleuth (see The Morning Show Murders and The Midnight Show Murders) is an entertaining mystery in which the protagonist’s dark past deftly comingles with his lighthearted asides.  The story line is fast-paced from the moment Patton and Blessing have that first heated discussion and never slows down until the final spin.  Ironically, though in danger of becoming the tabloid’s latest celeb scandal and being assaulted, kidnapped, and shot at, Blessing knows his biggest tsuris is his attraction to the French actress in town filming.

 

Harriet Klausner