Archive for November, 2011

Explosive Eighteen-Janet Evanovich

November 29, 2011

Explosive Eighteen

Janet Evanovich

Bantam, Nov 22 2011, $28.00

ISBN: 9780345527714

 

New Jersey bounty hunter Stephanie Plum looked forward to her vacation in Hawaii with her lover.  However, nothing goes right especially when her other love interest arrives to join her as a big surprise.  Stephanie flies back to Newark with a stopover in Los Angeles leaving behind two raging testosterones. 

 

In Trenton, FBI Agents Lance Lancer and Sly Slasher demand Stephanie give them an envelope she may have inadvertently picked up while flying home.  She calls Morelli to check if they are legit and her mom to pull out of the trash the photo and envelope she tossed out there.  Her mom says this was pickup day.  Two more Feds show up demanding the photo or her lawyer.  Meanwhile back in L.A. Dr. Richard Crick who carried the photo and sat next to her on the leg from Hawaii rests peacefully in a LAX garbage can.  Besides the FBI, other miscreants want the photo that Stephanie’s grandma tossed out.  Things are just as ugly at Vincent Plum Bail Bonds.

 

This Plum thriller contains the usual zaniness but the main plot is thin; and what happened with Ranger/Morelli in Hawaii obviously stayed in Hawaii as this segue is disappointingly underdeveloped.  Filled with madcap scenarios fans of the series will enjoy the heroine’s photographic memory (not) while also singing the Lovin’ Spoonful’s Did You Ever Have to Make Up Your Mind? 

 

Harriet Klausner

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Murder Season-Robert Ellis

November 28, 2011

Murder Season

Robert Ellis

Minotaur, Dec 6 2011, $25.99

ISBN: 9780312366179

 

At the latest Hollywood in-crowd spot Club 3 AM, someone shoots and kills two people.  Police Detective Lena Gamble arrives at the murder scene to lead the official investigation.  She knows the media will follow her with a frenzied microscope and the brass will gladly let her take the media’s hits while claiming the accolades. 

 

However that was her feelings before she learns the identities of the victims.  Club owner Johnny Bosco had high level political connections and twenty-five year old Jacob Gant recently was acquitted of raping and murdering sixteen year old Lily Hight due to police missteps in the latest trial of the century.  Gamble knows this case is a nightmare as the prime suspect is Lily’s father who has the court of public opinion turning him into a hero.  The detective looks closer at the Gant investigation led by seemingly unbalanced Dan Cobb and finds other discrepancies in the case put together by Deputy DA Steven Bennett.  Meanwhile District Attorney Jimmy J. Higgins sees the homicides as a springboard to a state office while Gamble turns to another Deputy DA Greg Vaughan.

 

The latest LAPD Gamble police procedural (see The Lost Witness) is an exciting thriller that focuses on the taint of the judicial system when it fails to protect the innocent as the measure of success is convictions.  Filled with plenty of suspense and taut twists, fans will relish Murder Season as Gamble works a convoluted case under the scrutinizing public spotlight.

 

Harriet Klausner

The Rook-Daniel O’Malley

November 28, 2011

The Rook

Daniel O’Malley

Little Brown, Jan 11 2012, $25.99

ISBN: 9780316098793

 

In a London park, the woman awakens during a storm surrounded by corpses wearing gloves.  She has two letters on her so opens the one identified as first.  Inside a note is addressed to “Dear You from “Sincerely Me” as the writer explains the body hosting her was once that of the writer.  Thus Myfanwy Thomas, as the note calls her, follows the instructions of finding a safe house before reading the second memo.

 

The second letter explains her choices.  She can flee London to live a conformable life overseas or seek out those responsible for her lost memory.  Thomas number two soon learns her predecessor was a Rook who fought for the top secret Chequy organization against supernatural evil.  She also finds out she possesses a rare lethal paranormal skill.  As she decides at least for now to learn the truth of who betrayed her, Thomas number two struggles on the mundane plane against deadly children warriors and on the dream plane from an aristocrat who easily enters him subconscious.  The more Thomas two learns, the more convolute her inquiry turns as she struggles with what everyone she encounters assumes she knows; although that is a handicap Thomas two realizes she sees things differently than her Chequy mates enabling her to envision a diabolical conspiracy that others fail to fathom.

 

This may be the paranormal thriller of the year as Daniel O’Malley creates a fresh, fast-paced and entertaining tale.  A sort of urban fantasy version of the movie Memento, readers will enjoy the escapades of “You” guided by “Me” in what is a fabulous fascinating fall though the “Rabbit Hole”.

 

Harriet Klausner

The Devil’s Elixir-Raymond Khoury

November 22, 2011

The Devil’s Elixir

Raymond Khoury

Dutton, Dec 22 2011, $26.95

ISBN: 9780525952435

 

Drug kingpin Raoul “El Brujo” Navarro has been using a rare herb the Devil’s Elixir for years.  He realizes that if the drug can be converted into a synthesized pill, he can make a fortune. 

 

While Navarro sets in motion the manufacturing of the Devil’s Elixier, DEA agent Michelle Martinez calls her former boyfriend FBI agent Sean Reilly at his Mamaroneck, New York house.  She tells him thugs with guns entered her San Diego home firing shots at her and hitting her boyfriend.  Sean and his girlfriend Tess Chaykin head for the West Coast where they soon connect dots between Martinez, her four years old son, Navarro and his hoods, and law enforcement officials as whoever controls the Devil’s Elixir may, like what happened centuries ago in Mexico, end civilization as we know it today. 

 

Although the premise seems over the top of the Mayan pyramids of Teotihuacan, somehow Raymond Khoury makes the elixir seem plausible.  The return of Sean and Tess will please fans of the  Templar sagas as they work another odd case.  The Devil’s Elixir is a superb thriller as time is running out on the protagonists while their enemies are a drug sorcerer and law enforcement operative in which neither side has any moral fiber even with the death of civilization imminent.

 

Harriet Klausner

All Necessary Force-Brad Taylor

November 22, 2011

All Necessary Force

Brad Taylor

Dutton, Jan 17 2012, $25.95

ISBN 9780525952626

 

The alphabet soup of U.S. intelligence agencies learns via the internet that a terrorist group plans an attack inside America rather soon.  However, the CIA, FBI or DIS can’t identify who, when or where.  Top Secret Taskforce is assigned to find the needed information before it is too late.

 

When a Taskforce operation in Asia leaves an agent dead, former chief Logan Pike is placed in charge of the field operation.  He and his girlfriend/business partner Jennifer Cahill begin to unravel two planned attacks by separate terrorist groups.   However, as he and Jennifer learn of the smuggling into the country of a WMD like none before, Logan knows he will violate the law in which Taskforce is not authorized to operate inside the United States, but he has no choice.

 

The second Pike Logan Taskforce thriller (see One Rough Man) is an action-packed tale from start to finish.  The lead couple is an interesting pair as Logan struggles to run the show while Jennifer has a difficult moral dilemma to face.  Although the government officials and the terrorists are stereotypes (except for the recruited inmates); readers will appreciate this fast-paced violent thriller.

 

Harriet Klausner

Dead Low Tide-Brett Lott

November 22, 2011

Dead Low Tide

Brett Lott

Random House, Jan 17 2012, $25.00

ISBN: 9781400063758

 

Ten years ago in Charleston, South Carolina, then teenager Huger Dillard killed a man (see The Hunt Club).  He remains traumatized as he suffers from PTSD leading to his dropping out of college and still living at the family home Landgrave Hall; his teenage girlfriend Tabitha Gaillard moved on with her life as she attends Stanford as a doctorate student. 

 

At two in the morning in spite of the golf course being closed, Huger caddies for his blind father Unc.  They arrive by boat, but finding the corpse of a woman ends their time on the links before it begins.  Suddenly the marsh is loaded with activity as the cops and U.S. Naval Weapons Station operative arrive.  When Huger returns home, he finds Naval Commander Prendergast with his mother.  Meanwhile a dead male is found in the trunk of a car.  Needing to know shat is going on while wondering if his family is in peril, Huger snaps out of his doldrums to investigate the truth.

 

This is an entertaining second chance at life (if you live long enough) tale.  The story line is at its best when the focus is on Huger still shut down after a decade has passed since his previous harrowing experience.  When the story line turns into a standard thriller, Dead Low Tide loses some of its fascination as this seems of character for this sitting on the sidelines couch potato.  Still fans will enjoy Huger’s second coming if he survives his latest ordeal.

 

Harriet Klausner

Power Play-Ben Bova

November 22, 2011

Power Play

Ben Bova

Tor, Jan 3 2012, $24.99

ISBN 9780765317865

 

Adjunct astronomy professor Dr. Jake Ross met his mentor Dr. Leverett Caldwell when he was in middle school on a field trip to James A, Van Allen Museum of science.  Lev suggest Jake accept the position of science advisor to senatorial candidate Frank Tomlinson, who is making a run against incumbent Senator Leeds.  Tomlinson fantasizes that he is JFK so he needs his moon mission.  He chooses magnetohydrodynamics as a cheaper yet more effective way to generate electricity.  Tomlinson makes the offer and Toss accepts.

 

Leeds sends his henchmen Ignacio “Nacho” Perez; and Benito “Monster” Falciglia to persuade Ross he can obtain tenure if he joins the right team by sabotaging his boss’ support to MHD.  Ross refuses but also fears his employer is rushing things as MHD is not ready for prime time with potentially dangerous safety issues to resolve.

 

Power Play is an interesting political-economic thriller starring a dedicated likable hero who finds himself at the center of senatorial electoral hardball (Chris Matthews’ style).  The support cast is inane with females sleeping around and goons acting like comic book rejects.  Still, with a strong premise in which many in power prefer MHD to fail, fans will enjoy Ross’ growing awareness of what counts in DC and who is expendable.

 

Harriet Klausner

The Secret Crown-Chris Kuzneski

November 21, 2011

The Secret Crown

Chris Kuzneski

Putnam, Jan 12 2012, $25.95

ISBN 9780399157455

 

Former Special Forces BFFs Jonathon Payne and David Jones are in Pittsburgher when Kaiser calls them to come immediately to Munich to discuss buried treasure.  Once they arrive, he explains that crates buried during WWII were recently discovered with some containing a black swan insignia belonging to late nineteenth century Mad King Ludwig II.  Before he was allegedly assassinated the Mad King supposedly put aside a humongous horde of gold and jewels to build a castle.  However, after his murder, no evidence was found to prove this assertion until these crates were located.

 

Kaiser believes they can make a fortune.  Payne and Jones agree though they hesitate because any dealings with Kaiser usually proves to be extremely dangerous.  As they follow the clues, the two former Special Forces soldiers find their basic Kaiser assertion true as enemies wanting to own the treasure stalk them.

 

The latest Payne and Jones thriller (see The Lost Throne and The Prophecy) is a fun exciting tale in which the history of Bavaria enhances the suspense.  The lead dudes provide humorous asides such as racist sausage and a zillion teenage locker room sex jokes, but never seem quite challenged by their adversaries.  Still in spite of the evil enemy never seeming like much of a threat, fans will enjoy The Secret Crown as Payne and Jones search for the treasure of the Mad King.

 

Harriet Klausner

The Chalk Girl-Carol O’Connell

November 21, 2011

The Chalk Girl

Carol O’Connell

Putnam, Jan 17 2012, $25.95

ISBN 9780399157745

 

After being declared mentally incompetent and unfit for duty, Kathy Mallory takes three months of leave.  Although not officially declared ready for work, Kathy shows up at the NYPD Special Crimes Unit.  No one challenges the return of “Mallory the Machine”.

 

In Central Park, eight-year-old Coco observed a murder and kidnapping.  She has blood on her shoulder that she says fell from the sky and her uncle is in a tree.  When they find her relative dead in the tree, police question the child, but she cannot describe the killer.  Kathy and Coco bond as each recognizes a hurting soul in the other.  The cop begins to tie the Central Park homicide to two other similar cases and begins to connect dots totwo fifteen years old cold cases.

 

The latest Mallory police procedural (see Find Me) is a super investigative thriller starring two emotionally damaged females.  The inquiry is excellent as Mallory methodically ties three present day investigations to two cold cases.  The ties between the so called “machine” and the Chalk Girl enhance a strong New York thriller.

 

Harriet Klausner

Lunatics-Dave Barry & Alan Zweibel

November 21, 2011

Lunatics

Dave Barry & Alan Zweibel

Putnam, Jan 10 2012, $25.95

ISBN: 9780399158698

 

In Fort Lee, New Jersey, family man Philip Horkman referees an ATSO soccer championship game.  He calls offside against Taylor Peckerman as she kicked the tying goal.  Taylor’s dad Jeffrey, a forensic plumber, goes crazy cursing and threatening Phillip.

 

That night Jeffery’s wife asks him to stop for a bottle of wine as the Oprah Reading Club will meet in their house.  Jeffrey stops at The Wine Shop only to learn it is a pet shop named after the prime in-law investors and the owner is Philip.  Still fuming over the call, Jeffrey threatens Philip who grabs a bat.  Expecting his enemy to swing, Jeffrey grabs a lemur before fleeing into the night with Philip in pursuit.  One thing leads to another and soon the pair is on TV as terrorists trying to blow up the GW Bridge and shooting a cop in the scrotum.  They are on the run from cops, soldiers, Charo, Chuck E. Cheese and terrorists,

 

Rotating first person accounts between the two antagonists (and authors), this is a zany over the top of Washington Heights thriller.  Amusing and fast-paced, readers will enjoy the escalating soccer war between two individuals as the media puts on its spin to events while the government agencies insure the enemy combatants are accused of all sorts of felons to hide their incompetency and mistakes.  With an insane spin into politics, the aptly titled Lunatics is a fun tale as fans will enjoy this pair of misfits jocular antics.

 

Harriet Klausner