Archive for March, 2012

Last Will-Liza Marklund

March 30, 2012

Last Will

Liza Marklund

Atria/Emily Bestler Books, Apr 10 2012, $25.00

ISBN: 9781451606928

 

In Stockholm, Evening Post investigative reporter Annika Bengtzon covers the Nobel Prize gala.  American assassin “Kitten” arrives at the event.  Using a silencer, she shoots five people, killing Karolinska Institute’s Nobel committee chair Caroline von Behring and Israeli prize winner Aaron Wiesel.

 

As Annika tries to call in her story but cannot get through as the lines are jammed, Detective Inspector Q interviews her about the woman with the cold yellow eyes who pushed her and stepped on her foot.  He also bans her from disclosing what she knows about the shootings during the investigation.  Behind schedule to leave the “North Pole”, the Kitten races to her escape locale before her cohort exits without her.  Meanwhile placed on paid leave by her editor, Bengtzon investigates starting with the Karolinska Institute.

 

The second Annika Bengtzon investigative thriller (see Red Wolf) is an exciting but confusing tale.  The storyline provides insight into the Nobel Prize past and present through Bengzton’s inquiry as readers learn of scientific intrigue to garner the awards.  Fans of Scandinavian noir will enjoy the intrepid reporter’s Nobel prize investigation. 

 

Harriet Klausner

 

A Deeper Darkness-J.T. Ellison

March 30, 2012

A Deeper Darkness

J.T. Ellison

Mira, Apr 17 2012, $14.95

ISBN: 9780778313205

 

In DC, former major Eddie Donovan is meeting his wife Susan and their two daughters (Ally and Vicky) for a stroll along the Tidal Basin to see the cherry blossoms.  However, their fun ends when Eddie receives call.  Not long afterward two Metro cops arrive at their home in McLean to inform her Eddie was shot dead in an apparent carjacking.

 

Eddie’s mom Eleanor calls Dr. Samantha Owens, head of Forensic Medical for the state of Tennessee.  Sam used to date Eddie when she attended Georgetown medical school.  That seems like a different life as now Sam buries herself in her work to numb the grief of the deaths of her husband and children due to flooding.  Though she hesitates to deal with the violent death of another loved one, Sam travels from Nashville to DC to perform a second autopsy.  She finds anomalies that lead her to believe the motive for the homicide had nothing to do with a carjacking.  Following notes left behind by Eddie, Sam finds a string of murders in Afghanistan and the States as a killer observes her investigation.

 

With Taylor Jackson taking a respite (see So Close The Hand Of Death), J.T. Ellison introduces her myriad of fans to another super heroine starring a depressed woman who still is in the early stages of grief.  Sam is a terrific protagonist as her flaws (crippling grief) and skills (mentoring the staff on forensics practices) humanize her.  The whodunit is top rate as Ms. Ellison provides another powerful investigative thriller.

 

Harriet Klausner

Silenced-Allison Brennan

March 30, 2012

Silenced

Allison Brennan

St. Martin’s Apr 24 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9781250005953

 

Seven years ago as a high school senior Lucy Kincaid met a seemingly nice man on-line. When they finally met in person, he proved to be a psychopath. He attacked her, but she survived while her molester died (see Fear No Evil).  Since her assault, her ambition has been to become an undercover FBI agent exposing cyber predators.  Her dream is about to become true as she has been accepted to attend the FBI Academy.

 

As she waits for the training to begin, Lucy works with her mentor agent Noah Armstrong; investigating the murder of Wendy James a high-priced call girl linked to Congressman Crowley.  Lucy’s analysis of the murder scene proves correct, but only angers Noah’s boss, Supervisory Special Agent Matt Slater who does not want an untrained wannabe in the field.   Assigned to a different case, Lucy concludes her investigation of the murders of several call girls and a social worker is linked to the James homicide.  With her private investigator boyfriend Seth Rogan helping her, Lucy seeks the connection, Ivy, before the killers murder her too. 

 

The latest Kincaid-Rogan investigative thriller (see Love Me to Death) is an action-packed thriller from the moment the heroine alienates Slater and never slows down until the final confrontation.  Lucy has come a long way since her assault as she has strong instincts, but still lacks confidence about her skills that Slater plays on to demoralize her as he thinks she is unworthy.  Readers will enjoy Silenced as Lucy struggles to ignore her doubt and follow her gut.

 

Harriet Klausner

Truth Like the Sun-Jim Lynch

March 29, 2012

Truth Like the Sun

Jim Lynch

Knopf, Apr 10 2012, $25.95

ISBN: 9780307958686

 

In 1962 young Roger Morgan ambitiously wants to make Seattle the in place in the Pacific Northwest.  He successfully creates the Seattle World’s Fair.

 

As the fortieth anniversary of the landmark World’s Fair is coming, septuagenarian Roger decides he wants to become the city’s mayor, which means defeating the incumbent.  At the same time Seattle Post-Intelligencer decides to do a series of articles on the Fair and the symbol of the city that was created as part of the 1962 gala, the Space Needle.  Reporter Helen Gulanos investigates the Fair and the “Father of the Space Needle”.  However, she begins to find corruption, bribes and other shady behavior on the part of Seattle’s golden boy including implications of a role in the cold case murder of a person ready to testify against Morgan.  However, she has skeletons too involving libel charges that Morgan plans to deploy if necessary.

 

This is a super thriller that effortlessly moves back and forth between the Cold War era World’s Fair and the age of the Dotcom bubble bust in Seattle.  The story line focuses on the backroom political dealings fueled by ambition that makes Lady Macbeth look like Mother Teresa.  Although money in politics naively seems deemphasized (in fairness years before the Citizen United ruling), fans will enjoy the simmering release of information as we wonder whether Roger is an enthusiastic idealist or a brutal realist.

 

Harriet Klausner

 

 

Stolen Prey-John Sandford

March 29, 2012

Stolen Prey

John Sandford

Putnam, May 15 2012, $27.95

ISBN: 978-0399157684

 

Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension chief Lucas Davenport is determined to find and arrest the thin man and big woman who robbed him of $500 at an ATM and broke his wrist.  He assigns his best detective Virgil Flowers to track down the pair.  St. Paul leaders want Davenport’s team to locate the Naiads of the North valuable bronze statue before it is melted to sell as ore.

 

The case that garners media attention happens when the police are called to the affluent Brooks family home in Deephaven.  A husband, wife, two daughters, and their dogs are tortured and murdered.  The father Patrick owned Sunnie software that would make an ideal money laundering locale.  .Three Mexican thugs come from their country searching for their missing 22 million.  At the same time a computer gamer and his female accomplice tries to convert money into gold.  Nothing comes together, but Davenport and his team diligently work the cases.

 

Nobody writes a police procedural better than John Sandford consistently does.  The glimpse into Davenport’s home life humanizes the super cop; as does his need to incarcerate the two thieves though he will learn revenge can turn humorously horse sh*tty.  The prime murder mystery is a cleverly devised serpentine whodunit that twists like a Mobius band. It keeps readers up late to learn what happened.

 

Harriet Klausner

 

Deadly Negatives- Russell Hill

March 27, 2012

Deadly Negatives

Russell Hill

Pleasure Boat Studio/Caravel, May 15 2012, $16.00

ISBN 9781929355846

 

In California, photographer Michael McSwain visits Bill Fosberg’s camera shop.  Both are throwbacks to an era when a camera used film.  Nonagenarian Bill worked for the San Francisco Call Bulletin and was a combat photographer in WWII; while Michael shoots B&W portraits. 

 

Michael is euphoric when he notices a classic Leica M3 camera, which was made between 1954 and 1966.  Bill says a friend’s widow brought it in so he can sell it to a thirty-five years old dinosaur smelling of dark room chemicals.  The camera belonged to Aaron Sturgis who made history with his photos.  Inside the original box, Michael finds hidden negatives.  He visits Aaron’s widow Emma, who pleads with him to destroy the negatives before they destroy him.  Unable to resist, he develops the film in his dark room.  To his horror Michael realizes Sturgis captured American atrocities in Viet Nam to include a young soldier turned wealthy politician.  Emma’s daughter Olivia persuades Michael to team up with her in a blackmail scheme, but psychopathic Skinner makes a move to extort the money but hides his agenda while thugs continue to assault Michael.

 

Deadly Negatives is an exhilarating hard boiled amateur sleuth thriller from the moment the “messenger” visits Michael at his home and never slows down until the final confrontation.  Action-packed while also displaying a fondness for a by-gone era, readers will enjoy Michael’s escapades to learn the truth about what happened in Viet Nam decades ago that has made him a target of dangerous people.

 

Harriet Klausner

The Columbus Affair-Steve Berry

March 27, 2012

The Columbus Affair

Steve Berry

Ballantine, May 15 2012, $27.00

ISBNL 9780345526519

 

Columbus pleaded with Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand to fund a fourth trip to the New World, but they refused for four years until suddenly they agreed.  Suspicious, he and his friend de Torres make it to Jamaica where they pray no one finds what they hid.

 

Pulitzer Prize winning investigative journalist Tom Sagan cannot accept how far he has fallen in disgrace since he filed a report on a war crime eight years ago that subsequently was proven false.  He lost his family, his friends, his vocation and now he considers his life.  Tom never reconciled with his late wife or deceased father after each cut him out of their life.  The one that hurts most is his daughter Alle who demanded he leave when he showed up at the funeral of her mother and his ex-wife two years ago.

 

As he has a gun to his head, a man taps his window showing him a picture of a bound Alle.  Zachariah Simon informs Tom, Alle is his prisoner and if he failed to cooperate she will be raped.  Simon orders Tom to dig up the body of his deceased father, a devout Jew as he believes that the disgraced reporter’s renowned archeologist grandfather left him with Columbus’ secrets that would rock the world.

 

This is an exciting action-packed over the top of the Wailing Wall thriller that readers will struggle to put down.  The storyline is fast-paced from the moment Simon shows Tom his IPad displaying the threat to Alle and never takes a respite until the final confrontation.  Fans will be hooked as Simon seeks much more than just Columbus’ secrets while Tom seeks his daughter’s safety as redemption means little to him anymore.

 

Harriet Klausner

Act of Terror-Marc Cameron

March 26, 2012

Act of Terror

Marc Cameron

Pinnacle, May 1 2012, $9.99

ISBN 9780786024957

 

In freedom of information databases, Jericho Quinn works for the USAF Office of Special Investigations; in reality the President deploys him as an “other government agent” (OGA) who works those scenarios in which the finesse of the security agencies fail and a hammer is needed; he and his OGA operative peers are the hammers.

 

Terror strikes have frightened the nation leaving many dead from suicide bombers and most people panicking.  Allegedly loyal Americans like the Deputy Director of the CIA and a cop go on  a mass murdering spree.  The pending wedding of the vice president’s daughter poses a great target for terrorists.  Security will be at its highest to include Quinn and OGA, but he is also on the government’s anti-terrorist assassination list.

 

With collateral damage an occupational hazard, the latest Quinn OGA thriller (see National Security) is an exhilarating and gory over the top of the Washington Monument thriller.  Although the key players are stereotypical, the fast-paced storyline will excite fans who enjoy action, action, and bloody more action as Jericho terrorizes the terrorists.

 

Harriet Klausner

Dark Eyes-William Richter

March 24, 2012

Dark Eyes

William Richter

Razorbill, Mar 15 2012, $17.99

ISBN: 9781595144577

 

Crying Mrs. Ivanova informs young Valentina Mayskova that the American Stoneman couple has adopted her.  Called Wally, Valentina cries for her beloved Babushka before leaving with her new parents for the United Sates.  She is raised in affluence in New York, but at fifteen Wally runs away. 

 

One year later, Wally heads to Brighton Beach to learn more about her heritage.  At the Miszic & Sons store, she receives a folder with her name on it.  She finds the first clue to locating her biological mother Yalena since she left Russia.  However, a friend with Wally’s fake ID as Wallis Stoneman is brutally murdered even as Wally searches for Yalena.  At the same time her viscous birth father Klesko searches for the jewels stolen by her mother.  As a mob boss, he has no compunctions about killing his daughter; just visit the morgue to see what he and his thugs will do.

 

Dark Eyes is fabulous suspense thriller that takes readers all over the Big Apple.  Although why Wallis left her home is never explained adequately as she would visit her now divorced mom from time to time, Dark Eyes is loaded with action from the moment the teen takes the train to Brooklyn and never slows down until the anticipated confrontation between father and daughter on the mean streets of New York City.

 

Harriet Klausner

The Second-Last Woman in England-Maggie Joel

March 23, 2012

The Second-Last Woman in England

Maggie Joel

Felony & Mayhem, May 16 2012, $14.95

ISBN: 9781934609996

 

In May 1953, Great Britain is filled with energy for the future as the coronation of Queen Elizabeth is coming.  Mr. Cecil Condor Wallis watches the gala from his home in South Kensington on his new television set.  Family and friends are there also; as he and his wife Harriet host a coronation party.  At precisely the moment that the newly crowned ruler steps on balcony at Buckingham while the thousands at the scene sang God Save the Queen and many more watching on TV, Harriet shoots Cecil six times.  It took a jury forty five minutes to convict her.  She was The Second-Last Woman in England to be hanged.

 

Nine months earlier, Mrs. Harriett Wallis looked forward to the future.  Her spouse has a good paying prestigious job and their two kids are well behaved.  It started when she hired Miss Corbett as a nanny to Anne and Julius.  As she meets the kids, Inspector Harris arrives to talk with Cecil about Mr. Rocastle who worked at the same firm; he vanished after apparently embezzling funds.  This is the beginning of the end for Cecil and Harriet Wall even while everyone is increasingly euphoric.

 

This is an enjoyable historical thriller that opens up with the murder followed by what led to the homicide.  Harriet is like the rest of the country as life has begun to return to normal after the Depression and war, and the pending coronation brings fervor of renewal.  Although the storyline never matches the opening psychological suspense, fans will enjoy reading this engaging tale wanting to know why.

 

Harriet Klausner