Archive for December, 2011

Raylan-Elmore Leonard

December 29, 2011

Raylan

Elmore Leonard

Morrow, Jan 17 2012, $26.99

ISBN: 9780062119469

 

In Harlan County, Kentucky, the two cash crops are marijuana and organ harvesting.  U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens (see Pronto and Riding the Rap) investigates who removed the kidneys from drug dealer Angel Arenas.  His inquiry leads to weed dealing brothers Dickie and Coover Crowe who expanded their operations into the lucrative harvesting of organs to sell back at 10K to the donor; the Fed knows this pair’s combined IQ would remain in single digits so someone medically competent is the brains of the operation.

 

The Crowe family owns mountain land that a coal company covets.  Executive Carol Conlon will kill anyone who gets in her firm’s mountaintop removal operation.  Givens follows a deadly feud to the Crowe clan and the mining company.

 

Raylan pursues stoned bank robbing strippers.  The clues lead to Jackie Nevada who pays for her college tuition at Butler by playing poker. 

 

More novellas and shorts (there is additional vignettes) than a novel, the tie between the tales is Raylan.  The zany tales are over the top of Black Mountain as the madcap police procedurals are fun to read while satirizing American capitalism especially through the various legal and illegal industries and the caricature villains and villainesses.  Fans will enjoy Elmore Leonard’s latest madcap thriller.

 

Harriet Klausner

 

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No Story To Tell-K.J. Steele

December 21, 2011

No Story To Tell

K.J. Steele

Fiction Studio, Oct 1 2011, $16.95

PI Box 4613; Stanford, CT 06907

ISBN: 9781936558209

 

In Hinkley, twins were born, but the tiny feeble female was expected to die.  However, instead her brother named Victor passed away while she survived against all odds.  Later her parents name her Victoria.  Her father loathes his surviving child as he wanted the boy not a girl.  A year later her abusive father dies, but her mother is shocked that she slept for hours with a corpse; she joined him only a few months later when she realized he still bullied her from the grave.  Victoria moves in with her Auntie May, but her newest guardian dies shortly afterward.

 

Her husband Bobby treats Victoria as a prized possession that he ridicules rather than a partner.  All these people who have controlled her over the years deny her dream of dance.  Only her solo friend Rose knows the real Victoria hiding inside the outer shell of a childlike persona.  However, Elliot the artist recommends the once upon a time dreams of the inner Victoria the dancer and encourages to go after her most fulfilling dream.

 

This is a deep engaging psychological thriller that focuses on an abused woman who wants to soar free to dance, but is so used to being the scorned bird in a gilded cage she has no concept of idea how to fly.  Victoria makes the insightful storyline work as the protagonist who metaphorically grows wings that changes the dynamics of her relationships.  No Story To Tell tells a terrific story of a survivor finally taking a risk that will shake her world.

 

Harriet Klausner

Need You Now-James Grippando

December 21, 2011

Need You Now

James Grippando

Harper, Jan 3 2012, $25.99

ISBN: 9780061840302

 

How far Abe Cushman has fallen is the whispers on Wall St.  He has been a major player on the Street for five decades and includes on his sterling résumé a stint as the chair of NASDAQ.  Now Abe who had billions of Money To Burn is scheduled to meet with the Feds on a $60,000,000,000 Ponzi scheme.  Instead Abe commits suicide rather than spend the rest of his life behind bars.

 

However, the billions have vanished angering investors; some of whom want revenge and their money as those who understand the Street know Cushman could not have done this alone.  The Manhattan branch of the International Bank of Switzerland assigns junior analyst Patrick Lloyd and his former girlfriend Lilly Scanlon to search for the lost loot.  However, Lily has insider knowledge that leaves her and Patrick in jeopardy from those who will kill for the money.

 

Filled with twists and action, fans of financial thrillers will relish this strong tale that offers a terrific solution to the missing Madoff money.  Fast-paced, the fun in the entertaining storyline is how James Grippando brilliantly delivers his Ponzi scheme spin.

 

Harriet Klausner

Deep Sky-Patrick Lee

December 21, 2011

Deep Sky

Patrick Lee

Harper, Dec 27 2011, $7.99

ISBN 9780061958793

 

President Garner is on TV giving a speech to the nation from the Oval office when the screens went black.  A missile strike hit the White House killing POTUS and blowing the roof off the facility.  Vice President Holt is given the oath of office while flying back from Los Angeles to DC.  In the Wyoming desert at the most secure facility in the world, agents of ultra-Top Secret Tangent discuss who is responsible.  One of the operatives mentions the Archer Air Force defense program of missiles hidden in civilian areas as a last deterrent against nuclear strikes.  Agent Travis Chase realizes what is implied; the military assassinated their Commander-in-Chief.

 

Soon after the assassination of the president, enemy operatives mount a precision assault on Tangent.  The target is to take control of the Breach pathway to and from another dimension.  Both incidents required powerful backing. His lover Paige Campbell and technological expert Bethany Stewart are running out of time in spite of having all the time in the world to uncover who is behind the unmentionable that dates back to the Reagan administration yet the truth lies in the near future.

 

The third Chase thriller (see The Breach and Ghost Country) is a great twisting tale that grips the audience from the moment POTUS is killed and never let’s go until after a climatic stunning finish.  Faster than the show 24, Chase is a sort of Jack Bauer but in a science fiction universe.  Readers will relish this exciting entry in a strong trilogy.

 

Harriet Klausner

The Crown-Nancy Bilyeau

December 20, 2011

The Crown

Nancy Bilyeau

Touchstone, Jan 10 2012, $24.99

ISBN: 9781451626858

 

In 1537, Dominican novice Joanna Stafford learns her beloved cousin Lady Margaret Bulmer is to be burned at the stakes for treason against the Crown.  Stunned Joanna violates convent rules of enclosure by leaving Dartford Priory; she rushes to London to stand by her relative while praying for divine intervention to save her Margaret from execution.  Instead Joanna’s father uses gunpowder to expedite his niece’s death. 

 

Father and daughter are arrested for violating the King’s justice.  They are taken to the Tower where the Stafford pair resides for the next several months.  Bishop of Winchester Stephen Gardiner visits Joanna with a deal she cannot refuse if she wants to prevent him from torturing and murdering her father.  She is to return to her priory accompanied by two monks in order to locate the crown worn by Saxon King Athelstan in 937 during the battle of Britain unification.  However Dartford proves deadly, but clues lead Joanna and Brother Edmund to Malmesbury where much of English secret history is interred.

 

When this exciting Tudor era thriller focuses on Joanna, the storyline is fast-paced and intriguing; however subplots involving other characters at Dartford detract from the prime plot.  Still, fans will enjoy the escapades of Joanna and Edmund as they try to do what is right under God and to save her father while their ruthless ambitious adversaries have no moral or religious limitations.

 

Harriet Klausner

Blotto, Twinks and the Dead Dowager Duchess-Simon Brett

December 20, 2011

Blotto, Twinks and the Dead Dowager Duchess

Simon Brett

Felony & Mayhem, Jan 16 2012, $14.95

ISBN: 9781934609927

 

The Dowager Duchess of Tawcester informs her two offspring (better known as Blotto and Twinks than Honourable or Lady) that the trio will attend a weekend gala at the estate of the Dowager Duchess of Melmont.  Blotto tries to avoid Laetitia Melmont who seems to find him with uncanny skill.  However, the house party gaiety ends abruptly when someone uses a pitchfork to murder the hostess in her kitchen garden.

 

While the Dowager Duchess of Tawcester accuses her rival the dead Melmont of doing anything to gain a societal edge, Snitterings the butler sends for Constable Trumbull and Sergeant Knatchbull.  Guest amateur sleuth Troubadour Bligh accuses the Tawcester chauffeur Corky Froggett of murdering the Dead Dowager Duchess.  Blotto and Twinks know Corky is innocent so they investigate the homicide that leads them to evil League of the Crimson Hand

 

This is a fun P. G. Wodehouse-light satire of the 1920s manners mysteries in which idle wealthy aristocrats solve cases while simpering moronic constables provide comic relief.  As a case against in-breeding Blotto turns into a detractor as he proves IQs can be negative numbers with his incessant need for a zillion explanations mostly from his patient brilliant sibling.  Still overall the second Blotto, Twinks aristocratic amateur sleuth (see Blotto, Twinks and the Ex-King’s Daughter) is an amusing parody as a name by any other name is still a name.

 

Harriet Klausner

Rapture Alley/Winter Girl/Strictly for the Boys-Harry Whittington

December 19, 2011

Rapture Alley/Winter Girl/Strictly for the Boys

Harry Whittington

Stark House, Feb 13, 2012, $23.95

ISBN: 9781933586366

 

“Rapture Alley.”  Lora lives with her wheelchair bound sister Chris and lecherous brother-in-law Ken hoping to be a movie star.  Her luck has been all bad with her only escape being marijuana as whiskey no longer provides a dulling sensation until she meets Arty and then Boyd.

 

“Winter Girl.”  In Cottonseed County, wealthy snowbird Frank wants Fanny the dog, but owner Calder refuses to sell though the lad fears his dad will complete the deal.  Frank’s daughter Lu Ann arrives flirting with a besotted Calder.  However though they drive away together, she sees him as a joyride to taunt her dad.  Still there is Judge Stark’s daughter Willi Ruth though she too is from a higher social and economic class.

 

“Strictly for the Boys”.  Amy met Burt when she was fourteen.  Now three years later the married Amy lost her youthful energetic innocence replaced with bitterness due to Burt’s jealousy for no cause leading to physical and emotion abuse.  Desperate Amy flees back home to her mom Stella when Burt is drafted by the army and meets kind Terry.  Burt returns to reclaim his property and her mom supports his position that she is his wife who he insists he will never leave him.

 

These engaging reprints of three Harry Whittington pulp fictions provide readers with a taste of a non-Happy Days 1950s.  Each of the protagonists is fully developed with flaws that make them seem real.  With an introduction “The Restoration of Harry” by David Laurence Wilson providing background depth to Mr. Whittington’s literary history, fans of stark relationship dramas will want to read this powerful trio.

 

Harriet Klausner

Dying in the Wool-Frances Brody

December 18, 2011

Dying in the Wool

Frances Brody

Minotaur, Feb 14 2012, $24.99

RSBN: 9780312622398

 

Presumed awidow since her husband Royal Medical Corps captain Gerald vanished in 1918 near Villiers-Brettonneaux during heavy bombardment, ironically thirtyish Kate Shackleton has earned a deserved reputation for finding missing people but failed to find her husband.  Thus when Tabitha Braithwaite offers her money to investigate the disappearance of her father Joshua in 1916, Kate reluctantly agrees to take on her first paying gig though the case is seven years cold

 

Kate and her friend former police officer Jim Sykes make inquiries into what happened to Joshua.  They learn the missing person was unfaithful to his wife though a stalwart of the church.  His wife Evelyn revels in her independence as she makes it clear she remains euphoric that she does not have to deal with her bullying husband.  However, it is Tabitha’s fiancé Hector who draws her interest as he obviously conceals something.  When a mill murder occurs, Kate believes there is a link to her inquiry and sets out it prove her theory though that leaves her in peril.

 

With a nod to Carola Dunn’s Daisy Dalyrmple, the second Shackleton 1920s investigation (see A Medal For Murder) is an entertaining historical mystery.  Little things set the time and place; for instance the reaction of the locals to the protagonist driving a car and the instance of her mother to come home as young women do not live alone.  A flashback to 1916 enhances the inquiry; while some improbable key scenarios involving major secondary characters detract.  Still fans will enjoy this British cozy as Frances Brody provides a wonderful post WWI tale.

 

Harriet Klausner

 

The Next One to Fall-Hilary Davidson

December 18, 2011

The Next One to Fall

Hilary Davidson

Forge, Feb 14 2012, $24.99

ISBN 9780765326980

 

Travel writer Lily Moore still grieves the death three months ago of her sister Claudia (see The Damage Done).  Her best friend photographer Jesse Robb persuades Lily to leave New York with him and visit Peru.

 

At Machu Picchu, the Lost City of the Incas, after hearing an argument, Jesse and Lily see a thirtyish woman dangling from a statue.  The female tells them she is Trista and her boyfriend Len drugged her before pushing her off the ledge; they look on in horror as the woman falls to her death at the bottom of the ancient staircase.  The police discount the two American’s testimony as the forensic evidence fails to support their assertion; ergo the official position is a terrible accident.  Lily vows Len will go to prison for his nefarious deed.  She learns he is wealthy with a history of females’ disappearing with no consequence to him.

 

This is a terrific amateur sleuth tale enhanced by the superb look into the Incan history of Peru and the vivid description of the Andes and the rest of Peru’s geography.  The story line is fast-paced and filled with surprising plausible twists as the travel writer plays cat and mouse with a psychopath.

 

Harriet Klausner

One For The Money-Janet Evanovich

December 18, 2011

One For The Money

Janet Evanovich

St. Martin’s Griffin, Nov 22 2011, $14.95

ISBN: 9780312600730

 

In Trenton, New Jersey, times are tough for Stephanie Plum who lost her job as a lingerie buyer.  She needs to bring in income and considers between using her sports bras and working for her cousin Vinnie.  Since she has no furniture for entertaining clients, she asks Vinnie to hire her on as bond hunter though her cousin would insist she used blackmail to coax Vinnie into giving her a $10,000 murder suspect pick up, disgraced vice cop Joe Morelli.  Now all Stephanie needs is a gun and a car. 

 

Stephanie and Joe have a long time relationship that some would say is insane as she has driven her car over him and gave him her virginity as a teen.  Stephanie knows this is the latest chapter when she catches and loses her mark.  She interrogates boxer Benito Ramirez before borrowing Joe’s car; he would say stole it.  To insure Joe cannot repossess his vehicle before she collects her bounty, Stephanie installs a car alarm for she is coming to hogtie her money source.

 

This reprint of the first entertaining Plum guided tour of the mean streets of Trenton retains the freshness due to the tough humorous heroine.  Fast-paced. the jocular Stephanie Joe chess match is fun to follow.  With the movie due out shortly, fans will enjoy One For The Money as the raunchy first person asides of the kick butt protagonist hold up nicely.

 

Harriet Klausner