Archive for November, 2011

A Quiet Vendetta-R.J. Ellory

November 21, 2011

A Quiet Vendetta

R.J. Ellory

Overlook, Jan 5 2012, $25.95

ISBN 9781590205082

 

In New Orleans, someone kidnaps nineteen year old Catherine Ducane; the teen’s bodyguard is brutally murdered.  The NOPD reacts quickly as the victim is the teenage daughter of the state’s Governor Charles Ducane.

 

The kidnapper Ernesto Perez fails to ask for money or governor-level request.  Instead he notifies the FBI he wants to meet with Ray Hartmann, a minor bureaucrat in the New York district attorney’s office.  In exchange for this meeting, he will inform the Feds where Ducane is hidden.  Perez informs Hartmann that he has been a mob hit-man for decades; he has been involved in at least 19 hits and recounts ties to Kennedy and Nixon.  The FBI, the governor and the media wonder what Perez’s secret agenda is and why he is picking to chat with a nonentity like Hartmann.

 

This is a great thriller that uses five decades of Mafia history in the Bronx, Manhattan, Vegas, Cuba and elsewhere as the background to a fascinating tale.  Readers will be hooked from the moment Perez makes his demand known and will keep on reading until they learn what his agenda is and why.  Perez and Hartmann are fully developed superb antagonists as this time the truth will set both of them free. A Quiet Vendetta is a superb and enthralling story.

 

Harriet Klausner

Gideon’s Corpse-Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child

November 21, 2011

Gideon’s Corpse

Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child

Grand Central, Jan 10 2012, $26.99

ISBN: 9780446564373

 

In his short life, Gideon Crew has seen plenty of ugliness starting when his father, accused of treason, was gunned down.  He recently learned the truth about the dad he once admired when his dying mom said he was innocent and assassinated.  Now Gideon has a reason to live: revenge.  Gideon went from a thief to a nuclear scientist motivated by his new quest.  However, after his mission is accomplished he learns he suffers from a terminal illness with about one year to live.

 

Glinn, who runs the mysterious Elective Engineering Solution firm, ruins a rare serene Zen moment for Gideon by telling him a co-worker has taken a family hostage.  By the time Gideon reaches the scene, Chalker is incoherent.  Gideon learns his cohort is radioactive while the Feds believe he turned into a Jihadist when he converted to Islam and that he fashioned a nuke while working at Los Alamos.  Gideon relooks email exchanges he had with Glinn and concludes like his late father, his peer is being framed.  His superiors believe the real terrorists plan to nuke DC but Gideon’s intuition tells him they have something even worse planned..

 

Readers will root for Gideon whose life was shattered with the killing of his father and now has a death watch to contend with, but like the hero he is, Gideon refuses to quit.  As his friends and peers turn against him, Gideon knows he wears his father’s shoes, but has the advantage of understanding what is going on and why they believe he is a chip off his treasonous block.  Preston & Childs provide another exciting over the top of the Washington Monument suspense thriller.

 

Harriet Klausner

A Devil Is Waiting-Jack Higgins

November 20, 2011

A Devil Is Waiting

Jack Higgins

Putnam, Jan 3 2012, $26.95

ISBN 9780399158094

 

Following a difficult rough tour in Afghanistan, British Captain Sara Gideon heir to the Gideon Bank returns home.  The Prime Minister’s “private army” leader General Charles Ferguson recruits war hero Sara to join his elite antiterrorism team.  He knows her linguistic skills will enhance his unit’s chances for success against a devious enemy.

 

Meanwhile Muslim terrorist Ali Selim offers a special blessing to anyone who kills the infidel leaders of the West.  Ferguson takes Selim’s threat serious as POTUS is coming to London to meet with the P.M.  He assigns agents Sean Dillon, Daniel Holley and Sara to take out Selim before anyone acts on his assassination blessing.  However as they follows clues to the Persian Gulf in seeking the Mullah, a kidnapping turns the mission into a desperate quest.

 

The latest Dillon-Holly tale (see The Judas Gate) is an action-packed thriller although somewhat similar in theme to this series and other stop the terrorists’ sagas.  The story line refreshed by Sara who brings a feminist perspective to the mix.  Although the story line is thin and the terrorists seem stereotypes, fans will enjoy this fast-paced novel.

 

Harriet Klausner

Breakdown-Sara Paretsky

November 20, 2011

Breakdown

Sara Paretsky

Putnam, Jan 3 2012, $26.95

ISBN: 9780399157837

 

In Chicago private investigator V. I. Warshawski attends a glamorous gala for Wade Lawlor, the star of Global Entertainment Network’s top show Wade’s World, a right-wing network.  Her cousin Petra works for the Malina Foundation on a book club in which wealthy and penniless young girls meet.

 

A concerned Petra asks V. I. to search for the missing book club girls.  She locates them conducting a rite from a YA vampire thriller in nearby closed Mount Moriah Cemetery.  Besides the seven tweeners, V. I. also finds a corpse with a metal rod protruding from the victim’s heart.  Though she knows she should not, V. I. helps the girls leave the murder scene before CPD arrives.  V. I. begins her own inquiry into what proves a twisting case that makes Rubik’s Cube look like a kindergarten puzzle.

 

This is a great Warshawski suspenseful investigative thriller as the heroine works a confusing case but never shuts down her moral compass of helping the helpless.  The story line is fast-paced while keeping readers up late with what spin follows next.  Fans will enjoy kick butt Warshawski as she escorts fans on a vast tour of the diverse Chicago landscape.

 

Harriet Klausner

The Whisperer-Donato Carrisi

November 20, 2011

The Whisperer

Donato Carrisi

Mulholland/Little Brown, Jan 5 2011$25.99

ISBN: 9780316194723

 

Five young girls have vanished.  Eerily, six left arms are found in what appears to be a sort of graveyard.  Mila Vasquez the famous profiler and Goran Gavila the renowned psychic criminologist lead the investigation.  The pair believes the arms belong to the five missing girls, but have no idea who the sixth arm belongs to. 

 

They also think they know who the identity of the serial killer is, but that proves apparently false.  As their inquiry goes nowhere, the two sleuths become paranoid with the possibility that they were named as leads not to solve the impossible case but to take the fall when it goes cold.  Mila and Goran obstinately refuse to quit, but each victim leads them to a different outcome.

 

This is an entertaining tough somewhat standard chess game between a brilliant psychopath and two investigators with lofty reputations for case resolution.  The story line is fast-paced but over the top of wherever the setting actually is (the plot lacks a place anchor).  Still fans will enjoy the contest between the desperate investigators and the diabolical adversary.

 

Harriet Klausner

Love In a Nutshell-Janet Evanovich and Dorien Kelly

November 20, 2011

Love In a Nutshell

Janet Evanovich and Dorien Kelly

St. Martin’s, Jan 3 2012, $27.99

ISBN: 9780312651312

 

In Oak Ridge, Michigan Kate Appleton loses her position as an assistant editor at a business magazine due to the amoral machination of sleazy the Melvin.  Her spouse Richard leaves her for a marriage wrecker; so she decides to leave the Detroit area for Keene’s Harbor to convert her parents’ summer house the Nutshell into a Bed and Breakfast.

 

However, she needs cash, but loses her job at the bar due to bad beer.  She confronts the Depot Brewing Company owner Matt Culhane who likes her energy.  He hires her as a floater filling in when someone is out but that is to conceal his real reason for giving her work.  He wants her to go undercover in order to determine who is sabotaging his company from within.  Matt offers floater salary and a $20,000 bonus if she identifies the rat.  She hates beer but likes her boss while everyone distrusts the newcomer.

 

This is an enjoyable lighthearted frolic starring two likeable protagonists, a villain in plain sight, and a heroic three legged canine.  Fans will enjoy this tale that in some ways feels like a throwback to a 1930s romantic comedic mystery even without a plum in sight.

 

Harriet Klausner

The Hunter-John Lescroart

November 20, 2011

The Hunter

John Lescroart

Dutton, Jan 3 2012, $26.95

ISBN: 9780525952565

 

San Francisco private investigator Wyatt Hunt was raised by loving adoptive parents.  He had no inclination to learn who his biological roots are as he knows who is true parents are. 

 

However, Hunt changes his mind when he receives a strange text message: “How did your mother die?”  Apparently she was murdered.  His adoptive parents have no solid information on his roots as none were provided when he joined their family as a toddler.  Hunt learns his dad lives in hiding having survived two murder charges and the Jim Jones’s mass suicide in 1978.  As Hunt searches for the messenger of gloom and doom, he will learn the hard way that a dark secret interred for decades might prove dangerous for those he cherishes.

 

This is a strong exhilarating thriller as Hunt and an unknown individual who he is unsure is friend or foe plays a deadly game of chess with him.  Hunt’s investigation is fast-paced and very entertaining though he seems to obtain information that is over three decades old and buried rather too easily.  Still fans will enjoy this taut tale wondering whether the protagonist is The Hunter or the hunted.

 

Harriet Klausner

Stay At Home Dead-Jeffrey Allen

November 20, 2011

Stay At Home Dead

Jeffrey Allen

Kensington, Jan 3 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780758266897

 

Rose Petal, Texas is a small town in which everyone remains up to date on the latest happenings especially scandals, misdemeanors and felonies.  The townsfolk struggle with accepting that Deuce Winters is a househusband while his wife Julianne is a high powered attorney.  Whereas she brings in the income, he is the primary caretaker of their three years old daughter Carly.

 

Nobody is more shocked than this father and daughter when they find the corpse of Benny Barnes inside their van parked in a supermarket lot.  Overwhelmingly the locals assume Deuce killed the man responsible for destroying the “suspect’s” football career and stealing his girlfriend Shayna over twenty years ago in high school.  The clique of parents at the daycare center demands the removal Deuce as a school helper, which is symptomatic of others’ belief that Deuce is a killer.  Shayna asks him to come over, which he reluctantly does.  She follows up by taking out a restraining order to keep him away from her.  Life turns stranger when Victor the “little person” detective follows Deuce around town; conducting a surveillance for a client he refuses to name.  Determined to clear his name, Deuce with Victor and Julianne’s assistance investigates the murder; only to find a business plan turn deadly.

 

Stay At Home Dead is a charming (except if you are the beleaguered protagonist) creative cozy starring a likable hero and his spouse. She protects his interests and that of a daughter like a lioness.  The plot seems simple as it smoothly flows until a twist turns the story line into a wild rapids ride as readers ponder what is going on in Rose Petal.  Deuce makes the tale work as a househusband and an amateur sleuth.

 

Harriet Klausner

The Exterminators-Bill Fitzhugh

November 19, 2011

The Exterminators

Bill Fitzhugh

Poisoned Pen, Jan 3 2012, $24.95

ISBN 9781590585429

 

Six years ago Bob Dillon and his horde survived hit men, assassins and murderers to abscond with several million from a Bolivian drug lord (see Pest Control).  He used his loot to obtain a truck with a bug on the roof. 

 

In Oregon, Bob and his partner Klaus Müller the assassin experiment with a ‘green’ solution to chemical pest control.  They genetically reengineer the assassin bug into a killer species but this is expensive and they are running out of money.  Bob and Klaus contact a venture capitalist to obtain seed loot, but their sponsor works for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’ who want to apply their experiments on terrorists.  They accept the terms and relocate to Los Angeles where a Bolivian drug lord out ten million dollars puts a Pest Control bounty of twenty million on the heads of the Bug Guys.

 

The second Assassin Bug Thriller is a fast-paced zany thriller that amusingly is over the top of the Hollywood Hills sign.  Filled with action, spins and a horde of the assassins, fans will appreciate this jocular satire that skewers the right and left, celebrity worship, and the losing war on bugs.

 

Harriet Klausner

Love, Honour, and O’Brien-Jennifer Rowe

November 19, 2011

Love, Honour, and O’Brien

Jennifer Rowe

Poisoned Pen, Jan 3 2012, $24.95

ISBN 9781590585450

 

In Australia, financial adviser Andrew McNish withdraws the savings in the joint account he took out with his fiancée Gorgon Office Supplies clerk Holly Love.  She is upset because he stole her money including her severance check from Gorgon and her heart.  Holly vows revenge.

 

In the Blue Mountains where Andrew owned a house, Holly hires rundown private investigator Mick O’Brien to find her former fiancé the SOB, but instead her sleuth dies on the job.  Holly takes over the case, but soon all types of strange people assume she is Mick’s partner.  Holly encounters clairvoyant Abigail Honour who shares an office with dead Mick; Cage the mouthing parrot; Constable Chloe Gruff investigating Mick’s death; the Elvis impersonator driving the hearse with Mick’s body as a passenger; and elderly Una Maggott who insists someone in her household murdered Mick, Andrew or both.

 

This zany Australian amateur sleuth is an engaging tale starring a brave obstinate heroine who on her trek for vengeance as the scorned woman feels like she fell though the rabbit hole as even the fat tabby she meets adds to the insanity.  Fans who appreciate something amusingly offbeat in the mysteries will enjoy Jennifer Rowe’s humorous taut suspense thriller as Holly find her groove.

 

Harriet Klausner