Archive for January, 2012

The Twelfth Insight: The Hour of Decision-James Redfield

January 31, 2012

The Twelfth Insight: The Hour of Decision

James Redfield

Grand Central, Feb 9 2012, $14.99

ISBN: 9780446575942

 

Now in the final countdown year, on December 21, 2012, the Mayan calendar predicts the world as we know it will end.  Wil and his best friend receive an odd segment of an ancient manuscript; other fragments are also being released around the globe to chosen ones who have displayed a potential enlightened soul.  Wil and his buddy know they need the rest of the document to understand how to use the mind and spirit to achieve universal contentment and harmony though deployment of the twelve integrations.  As the enlightened 144,000 converge in the spirit of synchronicity and integrity to reach the plateau of world unity theyt must contend with powerful political and religious leaders; fanatics who prefer the status quo as well as preventing a nuclear terrorist attack.

 

The fourth Celestine spiritual thriller (see The Celestine Prophecy, The Secret of Shambhala and In Search of the Eleventh Insight) is a fascinating uplifting tale.  When the focus is on the integrations, readers learn the steps that James Redfield recommends while the protagonists and other chosen struggle with world leaders who oppose any downgrading of their status.  When the storyline turns to the terrorists it loses some momentum as this feels forced.  Still fans will enjoy Mr. Redfield’s enlightenment re the Mayan doomsday prophecy.

 

Harriet Klausner

Upgunned-David J. Schow

January 30, 2012

Upgunned

David J. Schow

Dunne, Feb 14 2012, $26.99

ISBN: 9780312571375

 

Elias McCabe had sex with his best friend Clavius’ ex-wife Nasja and took pictures of her naked when a man holding a very formidable looking gun enters the photographer’s loft.  Elias considers that Clavius might be annoyed for his banging his mentor’s former spouse, but soon realizes otherwise.  Gun Guy escorts Elias at gunpoint before taking him to meet his teammates Cognac and the Professor, and a dead Dominic Sharps who made the news whenever LAPD was involved.  The photographer’s assignment is to take shots of Sharps seemingly having sex and afterward Elias will leave with ten grand.  However, if he opens his mouth Gun Guy will reuse Sharps’ body bag.

 

During the shooting, Elias video records the event without Gun Guy knowing what he did.  When Elias finds out what Gun Guy has used the shoot for, he places his video version of the encounter on the Internet where it goes viral and destroys the blackmail scheme.  Raging Gun Guy begins killing those who were involved while seeking Elias, who hides on a New York movie set.  Elias knows flight is impossible from this ruthless maniac so he must fight but a shoot to him is a photo gig not a gun gig.

 

This is a super satirical noir starring an antihero who is comfortable with shooting porn but not shooting guns.  His adversary Gun Guy is terrific as a violent stranger who gets mad and even.  With a biting mocking of fictional violence and an even more acerbic masticating of the American obsessive quest for the perfect look at any cost, fans will anticipate the High Noon encounter between the porn photographer and the Gun Guy.

 

Harriet Klausner

The Preacher-Camilla Lackberg

January 30, 2012

The Preacher

Camilla Lackberg

Free Press/Simon and Schuster, Feb 7 2012, $15.00

ISBN: 9781451621778

 

In Fjallbacka, Sweden, police detective Patrik Hedstrom is on vacation spending time with his eight months pregnant mate Erica when the call comes from Superintendent Mellberg.  A six-years old boy exploring the mouth of the King’s Cleft discovered the corpse of a naked lady.  Patrik arrives in time to get his boss away from contaminating the crime scene.  When Forensics lifts the body, they find the skeletal remains of two more victims.  Mellberg asks Patrik to lead the investigation as his other detectives, Martin lacks experience and Ernst lacks imagination; Martin resents not getting a chance to lead and Erne rages over the Kid getting another case.

 

Patrik believes the older skeletons are female teens, Siv Lantin and Mona Thernblad, who vanished in 1979.  The autopsies affirm that each victim was tortured in a deliberate simmering manner until death provided relief.  The latest deceased is identified as German Tanja Schmidt.  Time becomes precious when a young girl vanishes without a trace while evidence points to the Hult family.

 

The keys to this strong Swedish police procedural (see The Ice Princess) are the profound look inside the souls of the key players to learn what motivates each them; including negative incentives and the discerning glimpse into group dynamics when time is running out.  Using flashbacks to 1979 to tell the tale of the Hult evangelical healers who are involved in the present day investigation enhances the overall tension.  Although Erica’s sister Anna’s domestic problems with her ex add to the look at what moves people, this subplot takes away from an otherwise taut Swedish whodunit.

 

 Harriet Klausner

Death of a Kitchen Diva-Lee Hollis

January 27, 2012

Death of a Kitchen Diva

Lee Hollis

Kensington, Mar 1 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780758267375

 

In Bar Harbor, Maine, Island Times Editor in Chief Sal Moretti offers his office manager single mom (of fifteen year old Gemma and thirteen years old Dustin) Hayley Powell the position of writing the food and wine column with the nonagenarian reporter retiring.  She agrees and her column proves successful with its unpretentious Maine earthiness, which angers her rival at the Bar Harbor Herald prim and proper British aristocratic Karen Applebaum.

 

However, Karen is found dead with her face buried in a bowl of Hayley’s clam chowder.  The police consider Hayley their only suspect and soon Officers Earl and Haley arrest her.  She makes bail and with her BFFs investigates the Death of a Kitchen Diva.

 

This is an amusing culinary amateur sleuth starring a delightful beleaguered protagonist.  The breezy storyline is fun to follow as the war of the recipes turns deadly.  Although the sub-genre is loaded with similar entries (see Diane Mott Davidson), sub-genre fans will enjoy this entertaining regional whodunit as Haley seeks out a cold blooded killer whose recipe includes the soccer mom taking the fall.

 

Harriet Klausner

The Sound of a Scream-John Manning

January 27, 2012

The Sound of a Scream

John Manning

Pinnacle, Mar 6 2012, $7.99

ISBN 9780786027637

 

Orphan Daphne May has spent her life cloistered at Our Ladies School for Girls.  Now at twenty-two years old, she leaves the convent where she met only one male in her life Father O’Donnell to ride the train to her first job as a governess in Point Woebegone, Maine.  No one from Swallowtail meets her at the station, as promised.  Instead a stranger takes her to a nearby inn.

 

Daphne is taken aback by a clown before she enters the ladies’ room to find a waitress with her throat slashed.  The gruesome homicide has the townsfolk angry and anxious.  Meanwhile Daphne struggles with the behavior of her eight years old charge Christopher whose grandfather was a serial killer wearing a clown costume.  When the psychopath kills several more times, Daphne wonders whether somehow she was the spark that ignited a dormant serial killer.

 

The bloody storyline is an exciting thriller with an interesting late twist that ties the tale together.  Daphne is a terrific damsel in distress whole local Gregory Winston tries to be her knight in shining armor.  Although the plot is very typical of the suspense sub-genre even with a fascinating spin re the killer’s identity, fans will enjoy The Sound of a Scream in gothic aptly named Point Woebegone (no relationship to Garrison Keillor’s Lake Wobegon).

 

Harriet Klausner

Head Race-R. Lee Nathans

January 26, 2012

Head Race

R. Lee Nathans

Hudson House Publishing, Sep 23 2011, $12.95

http://www.hudsonhousepub.com

ISBN: 9781587761850

 

Medical director of the Doubestrover Township Community Health Center in New Jersey, single mom Dr. Audrey Epstein raises her twelve year old daughter Lainie and her away at a nearby college Josh alone ever since their dad Ben was murdered.  She has problems at home with her tweener and at work with another state inspection and in the Newark Star Ledger where reporter A. J. Amoreaux accuses her staff of improprieties.  On the bright side Bradford Lecoyne Eccleston IV gives her a large pink diamond as an engagement ring.

 

Craig Boseman believes the world owes him.  He collects a check from the state due to a fake back injury, but that is not enough as he had to move back in with his disgusting mom.  His cousin Dennis’s friend Bill Hartick tells Craig they can make a fortune robbing a clinic.  Instead the trio abducts Audrey and a colleague Tim.  When the local police chief investigates, the mayor tells him to stop wasting money as the pair of pain in butt missing persons are obviously decamped lovers.  The media following the mayor’s lead drops the story while only Brad searches for his missing fiancée.

 

Bias disclosure: I was hooked with the mention of Jerome Avenue, spaldeen and sewers as my husband was all-neighborhood in stickball.  This is a dark humorous satirical tour of New Jersey in which R. Lee Nathans mocks the media-big business-government complex that has Ike turning in his grave.  The entertaining storyline is fast-paced though it rotates between several subplots starring an ensemble cast besides those above and the suspense comes late.  Readers will appreciate Head Race as the audience will learn that avarice lowlifes come from all classes.

 

Harriet Klausner

Victims-Jonathan Kellerman

January 26, 2012

Victims

Jonathan Kellerman

Ballantine, Feb 28 2012, $28.00

ISBN: 9780345505712

 

In her apartment, the victim fifty-six years old Vita Berlin was mutilated with her guts placed like a precious necklace around her neck.  The only clue to the horrific murder is a strange note with a question mark on it left inside a pizza box that adds eeriness to an already unnerving homicide.  LAPD homicide detective Lieutenant Milo Sturgis leads the investigation.  His friend and frequent police consultant psychiatrist Dr. Alex Delaware assists on the inquiry.  Both men who have seen too much violence over the years are particularly shook up by this gruesome killing.

 

As they work the case, several additional similar murders occur.  They find a link at the mothballed Ventura State Hospital; a place that at one time housed mentally troubled people with the worst head cases locked away in the Specialized Care Unit.  Alex interviews psychiatrists who worked with the victims, but all hide behind a wall of privacy. 

 

The latest Delaware-Sturgis police procedural is an entreating serial killer thriller as mildly mocking Miles is off his feed bag with this case.  The storyline is fast-paced with a deep spotlight shining on when the mental health care system fails.  Although the ending feels off kilter and Delaware has worked vicious serial killing cases with and without Sturgis (see The Butcher’s Theater), fans will enjoy the latest buddies’ whodunit as their usual quipping is subdued by the brutal homicides.

 

Harriet Klausner

 

If You Know Her-Shiloh Walker

January 24, 2012

If You Know Her

Shiloh Walker

Ballantine, Feb 29 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780345517555

 

Nia Hollister knows logically the law caught the killer Joe Carson who brutalized and killed her cousin Jolene six months ago in Ash, Kentucky.  She saw his corpse, yet her instincts scream at her that something is not right.  To obtain closure, she heads to Ash.

 

The only negative with her quest in her mind is in Ash is Law Reilly who she obsesses over as much as finding who killed Joely.  Law reciprocates her attraction and goes up in her mind when he does not scorn her theory but actually supports her assertion.  As Nia scrutinizes the police report and other related public documents, Law fears for her safety from an unknown enemy watching her.  He will soon learn that sometime paranoia is justified when her room is haphazardly searched.

 

The final Ash romantic suspense is a great finish to a strong series.  The overarching whodunit os brilliantly resolved while the romantic subplot takes a back seat to the increasingly dangerous investigation.  Although it behooves the audience to read the previous novels in order (see If You See Her  and If You Hear Her) as they build up and directly lead to this suspenseful climax, Shiloh Walker completes the fabulous Ash saga with another super entry.

 

Harriet Klausner

Run From Fear-Jami Alden

January 24, 2012

Run From Fear

Jami Alden

Forever, Feb 28 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780446572811

 

Two years ago in Seattle, former Green Beret Jack Brooks saved the life of Talia Vega from a serial killer.  Talia was part of fifteen minutes of notorious fame and she still is unfairly trashed on the Net.

 

She relocated in the Bay area with her teenage sister Rosario.  At the restaurant where Talia works, Jack enters, which brings back the bad times in her mind.  He explains he is in town for a few weeks helping his boss at Gemini securities.  When Jack meets Rosie’s friend Kevin, he warns the douche bag that these siblings have met enough creeps.  However, Talia soon will be grateful for Jack’s return into her life as a psychopath decides to complete the Seattle nightmare.

 

The latest Jami Alden romantic suspense (see Beg For Mercy and Hide From Evil) is a pulse pumping taut thriller that grips readers from the first threat to the final confrontation.  The lead couple is an interesting pairing as both have survived the baptism of fire.  The support cast augments a terrific tense tale in which the romantic subplot is palatable but it is the viable threat from a madman that takes center stage.

 

Harriet Klausner

A Parliament of Spies-Cassandras Clark

January 24, 2012

A Parliament of Spies

Cassandras Clark

Minotaur, Jan 31 2012, $25.99

ISBN: 9780312595746

 

These are chaotic times in England under the unsteady rule of King Richard II and the viable threat of a French invasion.  In these dangerous times, Abbess Hildegard prefers to rusticate in prayer. 

 

However, though she insists she has no skills, York Archbishop Alexander Neville orders the nun  to come with him to the Parliament meeting at Westminster in London, where she will be his spy; a role she is extremely uncomfortable with.  Before they leave York, Neville assigns her a short clock to investigate the murder of Martin his saucier drowned in a wine vat filled with water and barley.  The road to London is filled with violence as Hildegard thinks no place not even near the monarch is safe in these dangerous divisive partisan times.

 

This is a great medieval historical thriller as murder, mayhem and politics converge in fourteenth century England.  The storyline is fast-paced as a power struggle that makes Machiavelli seems like an amateur manipulator.  Timely, readers will relish Cassandra Clark’s strong entertaining Abbess Hildegard tale (see The Law of Angels).

 

Harriet Klausner