Archive for April, 2012

Bonereapers-Jeanne Matthews

April 22, 2012


Jeanne Matthews

Poisoned Pen, Jun 5 2012, $24.95

ISBN 9781590586204


Anthropologist Dinah Pelerin is one of an American contingent delivering seeds to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault in Longyearbyen, Norway; just six hundred miles from the Pole.  Also among the American group to the “Doomsday Vault” are United States Senator Colt Sheridan (from Montana) who as a wheat famer plans a White House run, his Norwegian born wife Erika, his biggest supporter Tillcorp Industries agribusiness CEO Jake Mahler, and American Senators Keyes of Massachusetts and Frye of Hawaii; as well as high ranking Norwegian officials like the agricultural minister.  An incident occurs at the press conference as a protestor goes after the senators with a laser gun blinding a Norwegian official while shouting about the death gene.


Dinah wonders why she gave up tropical Hawaii to spend December inside of the Arctic Circle as zero is a heat wave in this tundra.  Two homicides occur and attempts on Dinah’s life also happen.  She knows sh*t goes downhill even amidst the permafrost, which means as the lowest person visiting Longyearbyen, she is the most likely left carrying the guilt as she understands the political industrial complex always insures the low ball takes the hit.  Not one to wait for the crap to hit her, Dinah investigates.


The third Dinah Pelerin amateur sleuth (see Bones of Contention and Bet Your Bones) is an engaging whodunit.  The storyline occurs in an intriguing location while focused on the fascinating controversy of genetically engineered food and the debate over placing these seeds inside the Doomsday Vault.  The whodunit is nicely handled, but it is the agribusiness corporations with Congressional support trying to gain control of the seed bank that makes for a strong entry.


Harriet Klausner

Target: Tinos-Jeffrey Siger

April 22, 2012

Target: Tinos

Jeffrey Siger

Poisoned Pen, Jun 5 2012, $24.95

ISBN 9781590589786


When two gypsies are immolated on Tinos, Special Crimes Division Chief Inspector Andreas Kaldis and his boss, Greece’s Minister of Public Order Spiros Renatis, head to the Aegean Sea pilgrimage island to investigate what appears to be a hate crime.  His fiancée Lila is outraged with Andreas leaving on a case with less than a week to their marriage on Mykonos. 


The Greek governmental leadership wants the investigation stopped as they believe the country cannot afford further bad press at a time when tourism is down and the financial crisis international news.  Thus Renatis orders Kaldis to end his inquiry.  Kaldis, his chief assistant Yianni Kouros and Cyclades chief homicide investigator Tassos Stamatos continue to work the case that spins into diverse interests including the Albanian mob, the growing Gypsy presence on the island and a cult with a two hundred years old tenet.


The latest Chief Inspector Andreas Kaldis Greek police procedural (see Prey on Patmos, Assassins of Athens and Murder in Mykonos) is a great tale as the whodunit and the “Greek Lourdes” island make for a winning combination.  Kaldis is terrific as the most feared cop in Greece, but he fears what Lila will do to him if he fails to hustle back like yesterday.  Action-packed fans will relish this trip to the Aegean with Kaldis as our tour guide.


Harriet Klausner



Bad Faith-Robert K. Tanenbaum

April 22, 2012

Bad Faith

Robert K. Tanenbaum

Gallery/Pocket, Jun 5 2012, $26.00

ISBN 9781451635522


After learning the facts about the painful death of ten year old Micah Ellis, New York County District Attorney Roger “Butch” Karp prosecutes the parents Nonie and David Ellis for reckless manslaughter because they denied their son treatment for cancer on religious grounds.  As God’s emissary Reverend C.G. Westlund is outraged at the DA’s affront to the Lord’s will as he led the Ellis family with their prayers for a divine miracle at his End of Days Reformation Church of Jesus Christ Resurrected.


At the same time Federal prisoner Nadya “Ajmaani” Malovo informs law enforcement officials about planned terrorist attacks.  She also works on her escape fueled by her need to destroy Karp.  Reverend Westlund and his followers protest the arrests of two their flock, but he conceals the fact that Nonie signed over life insurance taken out on her child to the church and its leader without her husband’s knowledge.  Attorney Marlene Ciampi, Karp’s wife, investigates Westlund’s past in Memphis. 


The latest Karp-Ciampi tale (see Outrage) is an action-packed in your face thriller.  The storyline is fast-paced from the moment Karp chooses to prosecute.  However, making Westlund into an avaricious villain instead of a deeply devout believer in prayer rather than medical intervention detracts from the novel as Bad Faith becomes a standard legal thriller rather than a complex First Amendment case.


Harriet Klausner

Drop Dead Chocolate-Jessica Beck

April 22, 2012

Drop Dead Chocolate

Jessica Beck

Minotaur, Apr 24 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9781250001054


In April Springs, North Carolina elections are coming soon.  Mayor Cam Hamilton has been in office for years having won reelection numerous times.  This election he has no opponent.  Dorothy Hart is incensed with the mayor over winning the bid for a tax payer-funded job.  Her daughter Suzanne Hart, owner of Donut Hearts, pushes her mom to file as a candidate, which she does.  The election won’t take place because someone brutally kills the incumbent in the office that was going to be Dorothy’s election headquarters.


The police chief recuses himself from the homicide investigation because he is dating Dorothy.  Suzanne’s boyfriend Jake leads the inquiry as there is no other choice with experience available and he is one degree further removed from the homicide than the chief is.  He informs Suzanne they will not be able to see each other until the case is resolved.  Knowing her mother is a prime suspect, Suzanne, as she has done before (see Killer Crullers and Sinister Sprinkles), decides to investigate.  She quickly learns the late Hamilton demanded bribes and kickbacks among his multitude of nefarious activities; this leads to multiple suspects with a motive to end the extortion.


Suzanne acts like natural born investigator whose skills match those of her highly regarded experienced boyfriend.  Once the sub-genre fan accepts her need to prove her mom’s innocence in spite of knowing Jake is great at his job (implies she distrusts her boyfriend), her actions are plausible and logical as she talks about the case with her suspect list in a shocking news manner.  This Donut Shop Mystery is a charming Carolina culinary cozy and readers will enjoy visiting April Springs.


Harriet Klausner

Death and Transfiguration-Gerald Elias

April 21, 2012

Death and Transfiguration

Gerald Elias

Minotaur, Jun 19 2012, $26.99

ISBN 9780312678357


Fortyish violinist Scheherazade “Sherry” O’Brien asks blind violin teacher Daniel Jacobus to help with her obtaining the permanent position of concertmaster at the prestigious Harmonium Orchestra as their new concert hall is being built in lower Manhattan.  She has held the position on a temporary basis.  Jacobus refuses her plea for assistance.  The music director Vaclav Herza escaped Czechoslovakia in 1956 and over the decades has earned his reputation as an odious despotic legend.  After harassing her from the moment she filled the position, Herza abruptly fires Sherry though she was the obvious best choice as the concertmaster.  Distraught, Sherry commits suicide.  The already upset orchestra members struggling with contract negotiations go hysterical with rage at egomaniacal Herza who they hold culpable.


Feeling guilt and remorse, Jacobus, accompanied by his sighted friends (Nathaniel Williams, Max Furukawa and Martin Lilburn) investigate Herza’s past in Prague and Tokyo.  At the same time the angry contract negotiations and the nasty auditions continue.


The fourth Daniel Jacobus amateur sleuth (see Death and the Maiden, The Devil’s Trill and Danse Macabre) is an entertaining mystery as the cantankerous protagonist believes he has one more major addition to his redemption list.  Humorous, readers obtain a look behind the scenes at a major orchestra.  Still, it is virtuoso Jacobus who makes this a fun tale as the acrimonious violinist probes Herza’s history.


Harriet Klausner

Blind Goddess-Anne Holt; Tom Geddes (translator)

April 21, 2012

Blind Goddess

Anne Holt; Tom Geddes (translator)

Scribner, Jun 5 2012, $15.00

ISBN 9781451634761


In Oslo, thirtyish civil lawyer Karen Borg finds the dead body while walking her dog.  At about the same time the cops bring in a dazed man wandering the streets with blood on him; he refuses to speak.  Special Branch police attorney Hakon Sand observes while Inspector Hanne Wilhelmsen interviews the man and learns he is Han van der Lerch, a student from the Netherlands who confesses to killing the drug dealer.  Hakon tells his friend Karen that the Dutch suspect wants her as his lawyer though she has not practiced that form of law since her exams eight years ago and she is a witness having found the corpse. 


Two days later, someone kills sleazy attorney Hansa Larsen.  Sand and Wilhelmsen find a connection between the two homicides.  Drugs cop Billy T informs them that on the Oslo streets is a rumor that drug-dealing lawyers are involved in the trafficking, which explains why van der Lerch demanded the civil attorney to defend him; as her reporting the corpse makes her most likely trustful.  As the police continue their inquiry, they begin to unravel a web of corruption that permeates all levels of the Norwegian Danish government.


The first actual Wilhelmsen Norwegians police procedural (second after 1222 published first in America when the heroine is retired and wheelchair bound due to a bullet in her spine) is a fabulous investigative thriller as the inspector and the police attorney follow clues that increasingly include highly affluent individuals.  Part of the fun of this whodunit is the insight into the criminals discussing the police investigation.  Although the prime villain seems a bit disappointing fans will enjoy this entertaining Norwegian Noir.


Harriet Klausner

The Wowzer-Frank Wheeler Jr.

April 21, 2012

The Wowzer

Frank Wheeler Jr.

Thomas & Mercer, May 1 2012, $14.95

ISBN: 9781612182124


Almost a decade ago in the Ozarks, Madison County sheriff Tom recruited borderline psychopath Jerry as a deputy and to serve as an enforcer for the for the Sanhedrin local drug cartel.  He is excellent as muscle as he has no compunctions about breaking joints or killing someone though he never murders unless assigned by Tom to do so.


Jerry’s ten year contract is nearing an end.  His plan is to leave the enforcement business which he is unaware of that one just does not retire from the Ozark mob.  He is upset that his girlfriend Dr. Maggie who he rescued from a fire has fled Arkansas in fear of him; having read his psychology report.  Finally Tom has not provided him with the code to his Swiss bank account that contains his share of the loot; which has Jerry thinking his boss may have plans to retire him in a casket to insure he takes his secrets to the grave when he goes out on his last mission.


This is a dark gory rural noir starring a psychopath who may be losing control of his inner demon or perhaps as he believes is actually gaining control.  Action-packed with vividly gruesome scenes, surprisingly in contrast, fans will also see inside the head of a cold blooded killer who understands right from wrong just differently from a neurotypical individual.  The Wowzer will wow sub-genre readers; just don’t read on a full stomach.


Harriet Klausner

The Last Kind Words-Tom Piccirilli

April 21, 2012

The Last Kind Words

Tom Piccirilli

Bantam, Jun 12 2012, $26.00

ISBN 9780553592481


Second-story thief Terrier Rand is a chip off the old block as his family consists of thieves.  He quit his criminal activity when his older brother Collie murdered eight people.  Terry left Long Island becoming a rancher in the west.


Five years later with his sibling facing execution in a few days, Terry returns home at his brother’s request.  Collie swears he committed seven of the cold-blooded killings but not that of Becky Clarke.  Though he knows he should return to the ranch instead of getting involved with the Rand brood, Terry investigates the homicides.  He begins to find evidence that supports Collie’s assertion that a killer used the murders to hide another homicide. 


This is a dark noir that hooks the audience due to the interplay between the extended hard boiled crime family members especially the chats between the two brothers.  Action-packed yet with a powerful cast, fans will relish this strong whodunit as Terry fears the truth will not free him, his family or the woman he left behind when he fled Long island; instead he considers leaving it buried.


Harriet Klausner

Into the Darkest Corner-Elizabeth Haynes

April 21, 2012

Into the Darkest Corner

Elizabeth Haynes

Harper, Jun 5 2012, $24.99

ISBN 9780062197252


In Lancaster, Catherine Bailey enjoys her swinging singles lifestyle as do her friends.  By 2007, Catherine Bailey lives in fear as she cannot leave her apartment without an anxiety attack and she refuses to speak with her neighbors.


In 2003, Catherine meets charismatic hunk Lee Brightman.  He charms her and her friends.  However, what started out as a passionate loving relationship begins to turn ugly as a darker angry Lee emerges from behind the façade of a caring charmer.  Lee begins to isolate his lover from her family and friends and increasingly controls her activities.  Catherine’s friends believe she is crazy when she complains as they only see the caring charmer.  She becomes obsessively desperate to escape her warden.  In 2005, he is sent to jail for an assault.  By 2007, Cathy still diligently checks her locks several times when at home.  She meets Stuart Richardson, a psychologist neighbor living in the same building as she does.  They become friends as he helps her heal.  However, she panics when she learns Lee is being freed and she sees her former BFF Sylvia Jane who testified in the 2005 trial against her and in favor of Lee.  At her flat, she finds items slightly rearranged an old Lee trick to keep her unbalanced.  Cathy believes he is back, but though frightened she is not paralyzed as she was a few years ago because she is not totally alone.


This is a great gripping psychological thriller that focuses on the crippling aspects of abuse.  The prime players are fully developed with the changes from happy Catherine to crippled Cathy appallingly frightening.  Fast-paced, this is a stunning scary suspense starring degrees of obsession.


Harriet Klausner

The Inquisitor’s Key-Jefferson Bass

April 21, 2012

The Inquisitor’s Key

Jefferson Bass

Morrow, May 8 2012, $25.95

ISBN: 9780061806797


Miranda Lovelady is in France excavating a recently discovered chamber beneath the Palace of the Popes in Avignon.  She finds a stone chest inscribed with the message that inside lie the bones of Jesus of Nazareth.  Using a ploy, she gets her lover and teacher Dr. Bill Brockton to leave his Tennessee Body Farm for France.  The two forensic scientists believe that in all likelihood, these remains are a fake, as Chaucer pointed out with The Pardoner’s Tale, the Middle Ages had a thriving business.


To their amazement, the early analysis supports the stone’s claim that this is the remains of Jesus or at least someone who died in a similar fashion two millennia ago.  Brockton also analyzes the Shroud of Turin.  However, killers try to murder the pair while a true believer wants the bones as a means to begin the End of Time with the Second Coming.


Putting aside how Lovelady got Brocton to drop an autopsy to rush to Europe aside as improbable unless she was insane, the latest Body Farm forensic thriller (see The Bone Thief and The Bone Yard) is an exhilarating entry that focuses on the potential remains of Jesus.  When the storyline centers on the science and Christian history, it is incredibly well written and fascinating; when the plot turns into a shoot en up action thriller it is exciting but ordinary.  Still fans will appreciate Brockton examining the Shroud and looking at two thousand year old remains.


Harriet Klausner