Archive for January, 2012

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

Chasing Midnight-Randy Wayne White

January 23, 2012

Chasing Midnight

Randy Wayne White

Putnam, Mar 6 2012, $25.95

ISBN: 9780399158315

 

Marine biologist Doc Ford seems like a mild amiable person who enjoys studying sea life and providing fresh or preserved specimens to schools and labs nationwide from his Sanibel Island base.  In his other life, Doc is a brutal agent working for the American government by cleaning up dire ugly situations.

 

He and his friend Tomlinson attend an eastern waters caviar productivity improvement conference hosted by vicious Russian black marketer Victor Kaslov on Vanderbilt Island.  Attendees come from China, Iran and Turkmenia etc., but Doc diligently focuses on Kaslov in order to obtain some Intel.  While Ford goes underwater to inspect the Russian’s yacht, six eco-terrorists crash the conference.  Just after their assault, an explosion knocks out the electricity and jamming electronic communication on the island.  The party crashers demands must be met or one hostage every hour will die until at the stroke of midnight, everyone still breathing will die in an explosion.  Doc realizes how precarious the situation is; his goal is simple to get his friends and himself off island, but the execution is impossible as this group acts more like the Russian’s deadliest “capitalist” rivals than environmental extremists.

 

This is an exhilarating Doc Ford thriller as the meek marine biologist and the ruthless agent makes him seem like a sea version of Clark Kent-Superman.  Tomlinson is his usual Zen-self driving Doc crazy, but who though not brave turns competently hyper with ideas when facing danger.  He actually is the one who provides the twists to another fabulous Doc Ford tale as he battles to keep alive his friends from cut throat competitors with no business ethics.

 

Harriet Klausner

Question of Trust-Laura Caldwell

January 23, 2012

Question of Trust

Laura Caldwell

Mira, Feb 20 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780778313212

 

In Chicago, Bristol & Associates criminal attorney Izzy McNeil and her boyfriend Theo Jameson move into her place together until his new house is ready once his mortgage is approved.  However, soon after he arrives at her home, someone breaks into her abode. 

 

Not long afterward, the Feds arrest Theo charging him with fraud at his firm HeadFirst software he co-owns with Eric.  While Izzy defends the Cortadero Mexican drug cartel family, her boss Maggie Bristol represents Theo.  As Izzy wonders about Theo’s anomalies like his mortgage request being rejected and his inability to put up the $50,000 bail money when his firm has made a fortune, Cortadero stunningly demands her firm stop their defense of her boyfriend.

 

The latest magnificent McNeil legal thriller (see Red Blood Murder and Claim of Innocence) has a loose sense of déjà vu that the beleaguered heroine notices (see Red Hot Lies).  With her father back in her life after years of not being there for her, last year’s Sam fiasco (see Red Hot Lies), and now the Theo incident; Izzy wonders whom do you trust when you cannot trust a loved one.  This is a terrific twisting tale.

 

Harriet Klausner

Kill Shot-Vince Flynn

January 22, 2012

Kill Shot

Vince Flynn

Emily Bester Books/Atria, Feb 7 2012, $27.99

ISBN: 9781416595205

 

One year ago Mitch Rapp completed the CIA special ant-terrorism training.  With the support of his now handler Irene Kennedy he is a lone wolf who has left a trail of corpses around the globe.  The blood does not disturb him as he believes devoutly these killers deserve retribution as you live and die by the bullet.  The Lockerbie mass murder still motivates him into the revenging grim reaper he has become as killing these monsters proves therapeutic. 

 

His current assignment is to assassinate a Libyan in Paris, which he does.  Before Rapp can leave, Samir Fadi and cohorts burst into the room with machine gun firing to kill the solo ghost who stalks them.  Rapp takes a bullet but escapes.  Samir is shocked that the enemy got away and his brother died in the assault.  The French gendarme finds nine corpses in that room while the CIA denies any responsibility for the deadly incident. 

 

Unlike his agency’s leaders depending on heavenly intervention, Rapp’s former trainer Stan Hurley knows a liability must be eliminated before the local authorities capture him.  However, Rapp refuses to die or be caught while a betrayal high inside the agency leaves him hanging alone.

 

Bloodily over the top of the Eifel Tower, the direct sequel to American Assassin continues Rapp’s early years with the CIA in another action packed thriller that takes off explosively in Paris and never slows down until the final bullets are fired.  The hunter becomes hunted by an avenging Muslim and his former teacher, but it is the betrayal that leaves Rapp in peril.  With the next tale seemingly set up by the betrayal, fans will enjoy Vince Flynn’s latest super suspenseful Rapp entry.

 

Harriet Klausner

Deader Homes & Gardens-Joan Hess

January 22, 2012

Deader Homes & Gardens

Joan Hess

Minotaur, Feb 14 2012, $24.99

ISBN: 9780312363628

 

Bookseller Claire Malloy and police lieutenant Peter Rosen return home to Farberville, Arkansas after spending their odd honeymoon in Luxor, Egypt (see Mummy Dearest).  However, first order of business is finding a place to live as the married couple and her teenage daughter Caron need more space.

 

After a week of failure hunting for a house without Peter who is busy working but with Caron, Claire finds the perfect home in Hollow Valley.  She goes to close the deal with realtor Angela Delmond, who drove her to this house, but following a phone call the woman vanished; stranding Claire.  A second shock occurs when Claire goes inside to get her purse and sees octogenarian Moses Hollow drinking Bordeaux.  Nattie Hollow-Brown soon arrives and takes Angela to a nearby tavern for her to make a call.  Later, Angela cannot find the realtor whose office hides something seemingly sinister and she learns the owner Winston died under mysterious circumstances; his lover Terry of Key West says the house is not for sale.  When Terry dies, Claire knows she must catch a killer if the house is to belong to her and her family.

 

The latest Malloy amateur sleuth (see Closely Akin to Murder)  tale is a zany regional whodunit as one learns that even with a recession realty is a killer market.  Deader Homes & Gardens is fast-paced with a breezy amusing tongue in cheek undertone starting with the jocular opening refrain of “… my kingdom for a house.”  Fans of the series will wonder what next will happen to anyone associated with the house not for sale in Hollow Valley.

 

Harriet Klausner

Stay Close-Harlan Coben

January 22, 2012

Stay Close

Harlan Coben

Dutton, Mar 20 2012, $27.95

ISBN: 9780525952275

 

Ray Levine was once a highly regarded photographer until the incident that shattered his life occurred almost two decades ago.  Fortyish, he now is a despondent sham paparazzo posing as such for his celebrity craving clients. 

 

Megan Pierce has come a long way from the incident that changed her seventeen years ago when she buried that wild life in a shallow ditch.  Now she is a bored suburban soccer mom with a teenage daughter Kaylie and a younger son Jordon; her spouse is nice Dave whom has no idea who the woman he has slept with for the past sixteen years really is; including her real name Maygin.

 

Police Detective Jack Broome remains haunted by the cold case he failed to solve though he knows his torment comes from watching what has happened to the missing’s person wife and children as their house is an untouched tomb.  The spouse Sarah Green still leaves her husband Stewart’s slippers out for him while their kids Susie has been arrested for DUI twice and Brandon was busted for possession.  Jack investigates the disappearance of Carlton Flynn and has found other similar husbands-fathers vanishing without a trace.  Three people tied together with what happened to Stewart seventeen years ago will learn whether the truth sets them free.

 

With Bolitar taking a well-deserved time-out, Harlan Coben provides a superb stand-alone thriller.  The key is the ensemble cast connected by the incident in which none of them is able to move on passed what happened though they disguise their trauma with seemingly “normal” behavior.  Action-packed hooking appreciative fans, this is a taut suspense as the past has returned to shake up the lives of three people going through the motions of living.

 

Harriet Klausner

Shatter-Michael Robotham

January 22, 2012

Shatter

Michael Robotham

Mulholland/Little Brown, Jan 26 2012, $14.99

ISBN: 9780316187428

 

Clinical psychologist Dr. Joe O’Loughlin teaches part-time behavioral psychology at the University of Bath.  He lives with his beloved family in Somerset.  His wife of two decades Julianne is a successful executive while both adore their daughters, twelve years old Charlie and three years old Emma.  The only bight to their idyllic life is Joe’s deteriorating health due to Parkinson’s disease diagnosed four years ago.

 

The cops come to the campus to get Dr. Bruno Kaufman to talk down a potential jumper on the Clifton Suspension Bridge.  Bruno sends his friend Joe to the scene.  A middle aged naked female ignores everyone around her including Joe as she frantically talks on a mobile before leaping; her last worlds to Joe was he would not understand.  Student Darcy Wheeler arrives at Joe’s home insisting her mom Christine would never commit suicide.  Joe begins to realize the psychological pattern of a leaper does not fit Christine.  When a similar suicide occurs, police Detective Inspector Veronica Cray leads the investigation.  Joe and his friend retired Detective Inspector Vincent Ruiz join the inquiry.

 

Shatter is an exciting psychological thriller as a master of mind manipulation successfully breaks the will of single confident females.  The latest O’Loughlin thriller (see Suspect and The Night Ferry) is fast-paced with a cat and mouse contest between the psychologist whose wife wants him off the dangerous case and the villain a virtuoso playing with emotions.  As readers learn why, Michael Robotham keeps the suspense tropospheric in anticipation of a showdown between the protagonist and the antagonist. 

 

Harriet Klausner

Fall from Grace-Richard North Patterson

January 22, 2012

Fall from Grace

Richard North Patterson

Scribner, Mar 20 2012, $26.00

ISBN 9781451617054

 

On Martha’s Vineyard, internationally famous writer Benjamin Blaine is found dead at the bottom of a cliff overlooking the sea.  Ben’s estranged son Adam returns home for the first time in a decade to attend his dad’s funeral.  Others expected at the burial are the deceased’s widow Clarice, their other son gay Teddy, his mistress movie star Carla Pacelli and Ben former girlfriend Jenny Leigh.

 

Ben thinks someone pushed his larger than life father off the edge.  He knows the revised will is a powerful motive for those who gained wealth and for those who lost wealth.  Carla receives $10 million; Jenny gets $1 million; Adam inherits $100,000; and Clarice and Teddy were left out of the new will with each obtaining nothing.  Using what he learned as an agricultural envoy in Afghanistan, Ben investigates.

 

This is a great thriller filled with stunning but plausible twists as Ben’s training and experience in duplicity comes in handy when dealing with the extended Blaine clan.  As the protagonist uncovers secrets he wished he never knew, readers will relish his exhilarating investigation.  Fall from Grace will be on most short lists for mystery of the year.

 

Harriet Klausner

 

 

Force of Nature-C.J. Box

January 22, 2012

Force of Nature

C.J. Box

Putnam, Mar 20 2012, $25.95

ISBN: 9780399158261

 

In the Saddlestring, Wyoming area Joe Pickett and Nate Romanowski are friends though the former knows the latter has concealed something from him.  In 1991, Nate was assigned to a Special Forces unit when the “Five” led by Lieutenant John Nemecek did something terrible.  He walked away, but knew one day they would come for him.  That day of reckoning arrives when a gutted Large Merle tells Nate in his last breath: “The Five. They’ve deployed.” 

 

Nate understands no one stands in the way of Nemecek’s rising political career especially those who witnessed the atrocity.  He knows the tactic Nemecek uses to kills those on that infamous patrol.  His goons will get at him but won’t go directly; instead they terrorize friends and family.  The Five will assault the Pickett family.  Upset for what has come to his friends and concluding there is Nowhere to Run, Nate believes that the only way to defeat the enemy is outside the law, but doubts his game warden friend can walk the crooked path.  Joe has his friend’s back though he prefers not going “rogue” but a High Noon confrontation with Nemecek’s minion is imminent and he must choose between life and the law.

 

With a nod to the movie Red, bestselling author C.J. Box has written a fresh fantastic Pickett thriller (see Cold Wind) as fans of the series finally learn what recurring support character Nate has hidden though numerous books.  The villain has a powerful network in Wyoming and Idaho that informs him who is where and identifying their loved ones so he can arrange their deaths.  It is Nate’s turn through the Pickett clan is a Force of Nature that is not to be trifled with. Each book in the series is better than the one before.

 

Harriet Klausner

 


The Inquisitor-Mark Allen Smith

January 21, 2012

The Inquisitor

Mark Allen Smith

Holt, Mar 13 2012, $27.00

ISBN: 9780805094268

 

Manhattan-based Geiger “the Inquisitor” is an expert in breaking down people to obtain the truth as he has an innate lie detector that warns him when a person is not telling the truth.  He mostly uses mental attacks to insure fear supersedes all other emotions; while he rarely deploys direct physical assaults as Geiger understands the target will lie to end the pain.  Nobody is a better “information retrieval” guru than Geiger is.

 

Client Richard Hall hires Geiger and his partner Harry Boddicker to obtain information from Matheson who stole a valuable Willem de Kooning masterpiece from a private collector.  Hall fails to arrive with the thief, but instead has Matheson’s twelve year old son Ezra for the Inquisitor to learn whether the lad’s father hides.  Irate as he does not deal with children, he beats up Hall and accompanied by Boddicker takes the tweener to a safe-house.  Hall and his gang pursue them as Geiger wonders why the kid is important.

 

With a nod to Jeff Lindsay’s Dexter, Geiger is perhaps the most refreshing character of the year as his matter of fact treatise on torture will stun, horrify and fascinate readers.  The storyline is action-paced from the first torture to the last as the amoral antihero shows he has a conscience when it comes to protecting kids; yet he also makes the euphemistic titled “enhanced interrogation” techniques of the Bush crowd look like amateurs.  With a strong shocking climatic spin, fans will enjoy the exhilarating “information retrieval” thriller.

 

Harriet Klausner