Archive for March, 2012

White Lies-Jeremy Bates

March 23, 2012

White Lies

Jeremy Bates

Oceanview, May 7 2012, $25.95

ISBN 9781608090488


In a torrential downpour, Katrina Burton drives the curving road through the cascades to Leavenworth, Washington where she has been hired to teach high school English.  Feeling sorry for a soaked hitchhiker, she picks him up though her brain screams not to.  However, she becomes frightened by his drunken nastiness so she lies about her destination before throwing him out of her vehicle.


At Leavenworth High School, Kat meets her hitchhiker Zach Marshall, who also teaches there.  Fearing Zach, Kat begins spinning a web of lies while he manipulates her and others.  At the hardware store, Kat and Jack Reeves meet.  He comes to her faculty party that Zach maneuvered for her to host at her rented cabin.  Attracted to Jack, Kat feels he may be able to liberate her from her nightmare.  Jack roughs Zach in a confrontation at the party that the intoxicated latter caused.  Soon afterward, Jack loses control and in a rage kills the elderly owner of the cabin Charlie.  He demands Kat help him cover-up the death.


Filled with suspense, the heroine learns Sir Walter Scott’s mantra (in Marmion): “Oh what a tangled web we weave; when first we practice to deceive”. – Fast-paced, the tense thriller grips readers as the beleaguered Kat learns to obtain background checks on males if she lives long enough to meet another man.  Although readers will need to ignore their plausibility meter, White Lies is an exhilarating taut tale.


Harriet Klausner

Vengeance is Mine-Douglass Mackinnon

March 23, 2012

Vengeance is Mine

Douglass Mackinnon

Threshold Editions, May 1 2012, $25.00

ISBN: 9781451640977


Two decades ago in Moscow’s Lubyanka Prison, KGB Colonel Vladimir Ivanchenko tortured and killed pregnant Irena for giving test information from the Sary Shagan Proving grounds to her American boyfriend CIA operative Ian Wallace. Ian was tortured and in chains when Ivanchenko brutally murdered his beloved and their unborn.  Shocked and filled with remorse, Ian escapes from the cell, Moscow and the CIA.


In Boston where Ian works as a private investigator, CIA agent and friend Phil Andrews approaches him with a Glock out to tell him that the Firm needs his help.  They want him to baby-sit an Ivan scientist defector Barkagan as the Russian Mafia has sent to Boston their top international assassin former KGB Colonel Vladimir Ivanchenko.  His partner will be Kathy Donahue, but this is one mission he personalized.


This is an exciting thriller starring an interesting protagonist who prefers the cold of the field rather than the desks filled with politically correct suits.  When the storyline focuses on what happened twenty years ago, and the present day Ivan protection and the Vengeance Is Mine solo theme, the plot is terrific.  When Ian pontificates with a zillion conservative talking points, the flow is disrupted as these asides mostly are not interwoven into the action.  Still even coffee drinkers will root for the “Dirty Harry” hero to kick KGB Mafia butt.


Harriet Klausner

Oscar Wilde and the Vatican Murders-Gyles Brandreth

March 23, 2012

Oscar Wilde and the Vatican Murders

Gyles Brandreth

Simon & Schuster/Touchstone, May 8 2012, $14.00

ISBN 9781439153734


In 1892, suffering from exhaustion on account of his publisher demanding he respond to all the letters sent to Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wonders if fame and fortune is worth the cost.  Needing R&R, Holmes takes a ten day respite at a spa in Homburg, Germany though the notes to Holmes come with him.  When the popular writer enters his hotel, he encounters Oscar Wilde who should be in Mayfair not in the foothills of the Taunaus Mountains.


Oscar offers to assist Holmes with the letters that came with Arthur on his respite.  The pair finds much more than correspondence as some of the envelopes postmarked Rome contain a severed finger with a papal ring and a hand.  Realizing that Doyle has been macabrely requested to come to Rome, he and Wilde travel to Italy to learn why and who owned the ringed finger.


The latest Oscar Wilde amateur sleuth (see Oscar Wilde and the Vampire Murders, and Oscar Wilde and the Nest of Vipers) is an entreating whodunit that has the protagonist and his Watsonian sidekick investigating Vatican murders.  Fast-paced from the moment the two Brits meet in Germany, fans will enjoy this entertaining late Victorian whodunit although the denouement is not quite as strong as the jaunty journey getting to the solution.


Harriet Klausner

Red Cell-Mark Henshaw

March 23, 2012

Red Cell

Mark Henshaw

Simon & Schuster /Touchstone, May 1 2012, $24.99

ISBN 9781451661934


When the CIA mission in Venezuela turned ugly, field agent Kyra Stryker is reassigned to a desk job at Langley in the Red Cell unit.  Her transfer doubles the number of agents working there.  Kyra finds her new associate Jonathan Burke an unwelcoming acrimonious visionary strategic thinker.  His record is impeccable when it comes to analysis as his suggested outcomes are always correct; but his gruff lack of political correctness alienates the politicians running the agency, the White House and the Congress.


In Taiwan, a raid on mainland spies turns ugly, angering the Chinese government and people.  China prepares to retaliate with an all-out invasion without any trepidation that the American navy will do anything even though The USS Lincoln aircraft carrier is in the Taiwan Strait.  CIA Director Kathy Cooke assigns her Red Cell duo to uncover out why the China leaders feel immune from any American retaliation.  To do so they need information from in Beijing, Chinese CIA spy Pioneer who cannot help as he under vigilant watch.  Stryker and Burke know they need to get him out of China safely in order to prevent a war.


The key to this great espionage thriller is the three governments (politicians, military officers, spies and analysts) make the escalating hostilities seem genuine.  Fast-paced from the opening scene in Venezuela followed by nineteen days of super action, fans will enjoy the confrontation over Taiwan.  Red Cell will be on most lists as one of the best espionage thrillers of the year.


Harriet Klausner

Powers of Arrest-Jon Talton

March 22, 2012

Powers of Arrest

Jon Talton

Poisoned Pen, May 1 2012, $24.95

ISBN 9781590589991


Having had a tumor removed from his spinal cord (see Pain Nurse), former Cincinnati homicide detective turned police public information officer Will Borders uses a cane to walk.  Taking a walk on the Miami University campus, former Cincinnati Memorial Hospital Pain Nurse Specialist turned Professor Cheryl Beth Wilson sees a crowd including cops around two of her now dead students; a third student Noah is the prime suspect.  Homicide detective Dodds asks Will to investigate a cop murder similar to that on the campus; and also tells his ex-partner to date cute Cheryl Beth.  Will says he is a cripple so cannot do either, but will make inquiries on the homicide.


Though she knows better, Cheryl Beth investigates by thinking what her former patient would do.  Her effort leads her to Will.  The pair shares an attraction and deep abiding loneliness.  They become lovers with hesitancy about their future.  Meanwhile the serial killer observes the amateur sleuth and the crippled cop with glee, bragging about creating “deathscapes” starring the duet.


The second Cincinnati Casebook mystery is a superb whodunit starring two wary wounded warriors and a vile violent villain.  Fast-paced, readers will enjoy the sensational sightseeing of Cincinnati with Cheryl Beth and Will as our tour guides.


Harriet Klausner

Fatal Induction-Bernadette Pajer

March 22, 2012

Fatal Induction

Bernadette Pajer

Poisoned Pen, May 1 2012, $24.95

ISBN: 978-1590586129


In 1901 University of Washington Electrical Engineering Professor Benjamin Bradshaw believes he is a sure shot to win the competition to create a telephonic system that will transmit music from the Seattle Grand Theater to homes throughout Seattle.  Bradshaw finds Ralph’s abandoned wagon behind his house.  He ponders where the peddler of miracle elixirs (and maybe deadly poisons) and his daughter went, but his musings are interrupted with news that President McKinley was assassinated.


The police show no interest in a missing child or a potential homicide case.  So curious and unable to accept the national tragedy as real, Bradshaw tracks the trail left behind by the girl who the professor thinks may have witnessed a killing.  As he enters the Tenderloin section, Seattle’s seediest side, he concludes to save the child’s life, he must do something drastic.  Thus Bradshaw modifies his contest entry to catch a murderous predator.


The second Professor Bradshaw historical amateur sleuth (see A Spark of death) is a superb whodunit in which Bernadette Pajer uses the assassination of the president to anchor her storyline in 1901.  Part of the fun is observing communication technological breakthroughs and the hero conjecturing what will come over the next century or so.  The mystery is strong, but that supports a powerful poignant period piece as Ms. Pajer escorts her audience to Seattle circa 1901.


Harriet Klausner

Don’t Die Under The Apple Tree-Amy Patricia Meade

March 21, 2012

Don’t Die Under The Apple Tree

Amy Patricia Meade

Kensington, May 1 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780758267580


During World War II, thirtyish Mrs. Rosie O’Doyle Keefe works as a riveter at the Pushey Shipyard in Brooklyn.  The work is demanding especially on petite Rosie.  The men despise women doing physical labor at their shipyard as they believe the females could never do a man’s job and will drive down wages.  Rosie gets into an altercation with heater Hansen.  Foreman Finch fires Rosie as he has a dozens of women ready to replace her while he has no one to match Hansen’s skills.  She pleads with him as she cares for her widow sister and baby niece.  He agrees to keep her on board if she meets his personal job requirement.  She escapes his grab, but is unemployed.


After she leaves, someone kills Finch.  Police lieutenant Jack Riordan investigates the homicide in which his supervisor gives him five days to make an arrest.  Rosie, knowing she is the prime suspect, also makes inquiries and soon learns many of the seventy or so employees had strong reasons to kill Finch.


As Marjorie McClelland (see Black Moonlight) takes a respite, Amy Patricia Meade introduces readers to her new Rosie the Riveter series.  The storyline takes readers back to WWII in New York City where male chauvinism rules yet women prove to be an equal partner in the greatest generation as they perform a “men only” job; setting the stage for their daughters to “come a long way baby” by breaking down glass barriers.  Rosie is a great protagonist and the whodunit cleverly devised.  However, it is 1940s mostly Brooklyn that come incredibly alive as armchair warriors will believe they have traveled back to where the women’s equal rights movement took hold in society.


Harriet Klausner

Citycide-Gary Hardwick

March 21, 2012


Gary Hardwick

HardBooks, Mar 5 2012

ISBN: 9780972480468


In dying Detroit, an assailant assassinates hooker Rashindah Watson as she sits in her car with her gay best friend Quinten Forrester.  He escapes the hit.  Special crimes Chief Yvette Riddeaux assigns the murder inquiry to detectives Danny Cavanaugh and Erik Brown.  They head to Rashindah’s apartment only to see it on fire.  Unable to sleep, Danny uses a street contact to track down the witness only to end up in a deadly shootout with Rakeif Simms; Forrester is dead too.  


Riddeaux announces the case closed, but dedicated Danny thinks otherwise as someone hired Simms a two bit felon.  As he continues to investigate Mayor Patterson orders Police Chief Tony Hill (see Cold Medina) to tell Danny to drop the case or else.  Soon all hell breaks out as the mayor’s seemingly illegal use of his office has him defended by attorney Marshall Jackson (see Supreme Justice) against criminal charges prosecuted by Jesse King (see Double Dead) .  Meanwhile, Danny continues his investigation.


Filled with twists involving high level cover-ups, drug trafficking, sex peddling and questionable federal surveillance, aptly titled Citycide is a terrific Motown police procedural.  Danny being white but growing up in the inner city is an interesting protagonist as he loves his endangered city almost as much as he loves his beautiful African American princess Vinny the ex-cop turned lawyer.  Fast-paced, readers will relish Danny’s tour of the mean streets of Detroit as he refuses to accept the politicians’ obit that his hometown is already dead; they just have not announced the wake.


Harriet Klausner

The Lost Years-Mary Higgins Clark

March 21, 2012

The Lost Years

Mary Higgins Clark

Simon & Schuster, Apr 3 2012, $26.99

ISBN: 9781451668865


In 1474 A.D. Pope Sixtus IV ordered the destruction of the Joseph of Arimathea Parchment; the only known letter written by Jesus, because he believes the document was a fake.  Instead it was snuck out of the Vatican and disappeared for over five centuries.


In the current day, Biblical scholar Jonathan Lyons believes he has found the original Arimathea Parchment.  He obtains affirmation from peers and shows it proudly to close friends.  Jonathan’s twenty something daughter Mariah comes home to find her father dead from a bullet in the head and her mom Kathleen, suffering from Alzheimer’s, inside a closet holding the murder weapon and blood splattered all over her.  The police believe Kathleen murdered her husband because in her lucid moments she knew Jonathan was having an affair and there are times when she is violent.  While her mom is locked away in a psych ward, initially a depressed Mariah accepts the horrid conclusion that her mom killed her dad, but once the fog lifts from her mind, she logically begins to wonder whether the motive was the Joseph of Arimathea Parchment.


Once again Mary Higgins Clark affirms why she is the “Queen of Suspense” with this exciting biblical archeological thriller.  The evidence points increasingly towards her mom as the murderer, but with help from friends Wiley and Alvirah, the dispirited heroine starts to find other viable suspects as she seeks someone filled with pride and avarice; but even then Mariah still lacks proof.  Ms. Clark has another winner for her readers to enjoy getting us there with this entertaining taut tale in which the suspense spins from family violence to biblical archeological violence.


Harriet Klausner

Kings of Midnight-Wallace Stroby

March 20, 2012

Kings of Midnight

Wallace Stroby

Minotaur, Apr 10 2012, $24.99

ISBN: 9781250000378


Career felon Crissa Stone needs a big score to get out of the criminal business so she can regain custody of her child and arrange for her lover’s parole.  However, her latest gig falls apart when her two partners Rory and Hollis turn avaricious and kill each other.  Crissa flees from the deadly scene.


In the Fed’s Protection program, retired gangster Benny Roth works at Café Milan in Indiana using the name Leonard when two New Yorkers, Danny Taliferro and his nephew Frank Long, arrive.  They make the sexagenarian go to his home where his twenty-something girlfriend Marta is being held by a third hood Dominic.  They want Benny to lead them to cancer victim mob boss Joey Dio who hid millions from the Lufthansa theft over three decades ago that Roth was part of.  Benny insists most of them were paid in death as he was lucky to survive and never got any of the loot.  Benny turns the table on the trio and flees with Marta.  As a raging Taliferro and his cohorts pursue Benny, he hooks up with Crissa to find Dio’s stash.


The latest Stone crime caper (see Cold Shot to the Heart) is a great tale that combines the real 1978 Lufthansa heist at John F. Kennedy International Airport as the motivation to a present day cat and mouse chase.  The storyline with the emphasis on the PDCA (plan, do, check and act) methodology of criminals will remind readers of Donald E. Westlake’s Dortmunder tales (see Get Real and Watch Your Back) though without the humor.  Loaded with action but driven by Crissa and her two new partners, fans will appreciate this taut thriller.


Harriet Klausner