Archive for May, 2012

Hide and Seek-Major (Ret) Jeff Struecker and Alton Gansky

May 31, 2012

Hide and Seek

Major (Ret) Jeff Struecker and Alton Gansky

B&H Books, Jul 1 2012, $14.99

ISBN: 9781433671425


In Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, American military Foreign Affairs officer Amelia Lennon and the country’s First Daughter Jildiz Oskonbaeva meet at Blonder Pub to discuss the Manas Transit Center.  Jildiz explains that their next door neighbor the Chinese have offered 10 billion and the Russians 2 billion so the American offer of 60 million is not enough.  They leave, but the capital explodes into riots while three men try to abduct Jildiz.  Amelia uses her car to hit two of the kidnappers.  Jildiz get into her car as they flee from the third.


Ranger Master Sergeant J.J. Brantley is excited over seeing the ultrasound picture of his unborn twins.  He and his team are in Kyrgyzstan preparing to welcome the two new members.  However, before they can train together, Colonel Weidman assigns them to rescue Amelia and Jildiz in the midst of a tinder box that has erupted without bringing attention to American military roaming the streets.


This is a strong military thriller that brings to life the personal cost by those who serve and their family members as well as how volatile the situation in Kyrgyzstan can quickly become with the rivalry between the Kyrgyz and Uzbek populace.  The storyline is fast-paced whether the focus is on the two females in peril from an angry pursuer or the team mounting a rescue.  Looming in the background is the Bush legacy of our inability to compete with the Chinese monetarily on the world stage while providing an entertaining discerning look at the military operating in a hostile scenario.  Hide and Seek is a terrific realistic thriller. 


Harriet Klausner


Burning Midnight-Loren D. Estleman

May 30, 2012

Burning Midnight

Loren D. Estleman

Forge, Jun 5 2012, $24.99

ISBN: 9780765331205


Detroit Police Homicide Division Inspector John Alderdyce worries about his son’s Mexican brother-in-law, Ernesto Pasada who has been seen hanging around the city’s Mexicantown with the local branch of the Maldados gang.  Alderdyce asks his friend private investigator Amos Walker to find a way to inform the Maldados to forget about Pasada.


Walker enters Mexicantown where the Maldados and the Zapatistas gangs compete for control of the turf.  Soon after he begins his mission, war breaks out between the rival gangs.  As he tries to end the hostilities, Walker finds evidence that an international mob is manipulating both Mexicantown gangs.  However what to do with his proof is difficult to decide; as he knows each gang prefers to kill first and ask questions later.


The twenty-second Amos Walker PI thriller (see The Left-Handed Dollar and Infernal Angels) is a great tale that grips the audience from the moment Alderdyce becomes Walker’s surprising client and never let’s go until after a brilliant climax.  Readers will praise Loren D. Estleman as Burning Midnight will be on the short lists for thriller of the year.


Harriet Klausner

The Conviction-Robert Dugoni

May 30, 2012

The Conviction

Robert Dugoni

Touchstone, Jun 12 2012, $25.00

ISBN: 9781451606720


In Seattle, attorney David Sloane’s sixteen year old “son” Jake Carter continues to get in trouble as he has since he witnessed the murder of his mom who was Sloane’s wife.  Sloane has struggled with her death too, but has begun to move on.  When Jake is arrested for the second time, Sloane and the lad’s father Frank persuade the court not to incarcerate him.  His friend police detective Tom Molia invites Sloane and Jake to join him and his son TJ on a camping trip in Truluck, California.


However, the teens are caught breaking into a store trying to retrieve Jake’s driver’s license taken earlier by the proprietor.  Winchester County Judge Boykin coaxes guilty pleas without council from the two defendants.  They are sentenced to six months at six months Fresh Start, the Winchester County-owned wilderness boot camp where teens enter but never leave alive.


The latest Sloane legal thriller is an exciting “frontier justice” tale (see Wrongful Death and Murder One) as the legal efforts to free the teens fail.  The storyline is filled with action though the actions of the cop and the attorney are at best unlikely while what they failed to do even more improbable.  Still fans who ignore their plausibility meter will enjoy this entertaining story.


Harriet Klausner

XO-Jeffrey Deaver

May 27, 2012


Jeffrey Deaver

Simon & Schuster, Jun 12 2012, $26.99

ISBN: 9781439156377


Edwin Sharp likes country music singer and songwriter Kayleigh Towne.  He sends her an email, which her email system automatically responds to like it does all her fans.  His like turns into a dangerous attraction as he begins sending her tons of emails which gets past her staff in spite of their diligence to stop him.  He also knows more about her than seemingly she knows about herself and likewise her key staffers especially her father Bishop Towne; her personal assistant Alicia Sessions; her producer Barry Zeigler and her chief roadie Bobby Prescott.


Kayleigh returns to her hometown Fresno to perform.  Attending the concert is Edwin and her friend CBI Agent Kathryn Dance.  When a light fixture falls on the head of Prescott, sheriff’s deputy P.K. Madigan leads the investigation that Kathryn Dance joins over the local’s objection.  Her efforts to kinetically read Edwin’s body language prove impossible, which means he is innocent of the Prescott incident or insane.  She figures out what happens but lacks evidence, enables the stalker to remain free while other dangerous events occur.


The latest Kathryn Dance police procedural (see Roadside Crosses) is an exciting thriller filled with duplicity, double-crosses (too many) and Rhyme and Sachs making brief appearances.  The storyline is fast-paced as Dance mentors Madigan on the proper way to investigate while also using her kinetic reading skill.  However, there is too many perfidious villains that overwhelm the tale though some may be deceitful and they prove to be red herrings.  Overall this is a solid mystery with too many crooks in the kitchen.


Harriet Klausner

An Unmarked Grave-Charles Todd

May 26, 2012

An Unmarked Grave

Charles Todd

Morrow, Jun 5 2012, $24.99

ISBN: 9780062015723


In 1918 dedicated British nurses are in France to be close to those at the front.  However, the medicos also deal with the pandemic Spanish flu that is devastating everyone.  Flu victims are placed in sheds where Private Wilson finds one corpse too many; he shows Nurse Bess Crawford that Major Vincent Carson died from a broken neck instead of the flu.  However, before Bess can act on what she assumes is a homicide; she catches the flu and is sent home to recover.


By the time she heals, Bess knows Carson’s body is long gone and she soon learns Wilson committed suicide.  Though Bess knows she has little chance to find out what happened to the major who served with her father, Bess investigates anyway focusing on Vincent’s family.


The fourth Bess Crawford WWI mystery (see An Impartial Witness and A Bitter Truth) is a fabulous historical that focuses on trench warfare and its aftermath on the soldier and his family, and the impact of the 1918 pandemic influence that left many dead.  The whodunit is entertaining though Bess’ starting premise seems odd during a time of war and disease.  Still, this is an exciting thriller with much of the sleuthing occurring from the extended fog of war.


Harriet Klausner

Strong Vengeance-Jon Land

May 26, 2012

Strong Vengeance

Jon Land

Forge, Jul 17 2012, $24.99

ISBN 9780765330994


In 1820 off the Texas Gulf Coast, Captain Neal of the Mother Mary slave ship carries valuable cargo when they run aground in one of the swampy channels.  Due to his cousin Mother Mary First Mate Mr. Jeffreys, Captain Jean Lafitte and Jim Bowe lead their pirates to take control of the Mother Mary.  They take the slaves onto the Goelette la Dilidente.  The pirates next steal a pouch from a “guest” Quentin Cusp who warns them his employer will come for them before sinking the vessel.


In the present, an oil rig crew finds the lost Mother Mary and apparently something else; but they are slaughtered.  Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong investigates the massacre with help from her lover Cort Wesley Masters, who was recently freed from a Mexican prison.  As the pair seeks a motive for the mass murders, they are unaware that Cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, assumed dead in a drone attack, killed the crew to keep his deep water plot secret until he deploys a scheme to kill several hundred thousand Americans.


The latest Caitlin Strong thriller (see Strong at the Break) is a terrific action-packed tale starring a courageous fifth generation Texas Ranger.  The good (the brave heroine and her loyal partner) fight the bad (unscrupulous business moguls and corrupt officials – these are not oxymoron) and the ugly (Muslim and homegrown terrorists, and deadly sexual predators).  Fast-paced to include fascinating Ranger history and mythos interwoven into the super complex storyline, fans will relish this strong entry. 


Harriet Klausner

The Formula for Murder-Carol McCleary

May 26, 2012

The Formula for Murder

Carol McCleary

Forge, Jul 17 2012, $24.95

ISBN 9780765328694


In 1890, saddened reporter Nellie Bly arrives in London to bury her mentee cub reporter Hailey McGuire, who reportedly committed suicide.  Nellie rejects the notion that Hailey took her own life as she knew the young journalist was euphoric over her profession.  Instead, Nellie thinks the story Hailey was working on led to her death.  Enhancing her beliefs are someone emptied Hailey’s desk and files, and searched her room, and is threatening Nellie.


Not one to run from a challenge especially a menacing one, Nellie follows clues to an affluent spa in Bath, where owner Dr. Anthony Lacroix claims miraculous rejuvenation with peat moss.  Soon after Nellie arrives in Bath, Lacroix vanishes.  Nellie receives help from biology teacher H. G. Wells, scandalous Oscar Wilde fleeing his latest sexual peccadillo as he was doing when they previously met (see The Alchemy of Murder) and Arthur Conan Doyle stalking a beast on the moors of Dartmoor.  As a mad test tube scientist, beasts, and lunatics chase Nellie and her companions, murders seem everywhere they go


The latest Nellie Bly Victorian investigative thriller (see The Illusion of Murder) is an action-packed tale that once again uses famous persona as key players who also anchor time and place.  This fast-paced mystery grips readers from start to finish, but Nellie not only keeps it focused, she brings energy and enthusiasm to the engaging historical.


Harriet Klausner

Close Your Eyes-Iris Johansen and Roy Johansen

May 26, 2012

Close Your Eyes

Iris Johansen and Roy Johansen

St. Martin’s Press, Jul 17 2012, $27.99

ISBN: 9780312611613


Dr. Kendra Michaels was born blind but she learned to compensate by exponentially increasing the use of her other senses and dramatically deploying logical analysis to situations.  After two decades in darkness, she gained sight with little impact on the high acumen of her other senses.  Law enforcement likes to consult with this music therapist on their seemingly unsolvable cases.


Former FBI agent Adam “Puppetmaster” Lynch visits Kendra as she works with a young patient.  He realizes she is nothing like the agents told him and finds he looks forward to learn what her buttons are so he can push them.  Challenging Kendra to display her skill, he is shocked how accurate she describes him and what he did earlier.  Later they meet and she explains how she read him and he tells her that her former boyfriend FBI Agent Jeff Stedler has vanished and may be dead, a victim of a serial killer he was investigating in San Diego.  They team up hoping Stedler lives, but soon are caught in a deadly conspiracy in which she is targeted for elimination.


Mindful of the movie Blink but starring a Sherlock (“Shirley”) Holmes, this is an excellent investigative thriller.  Fast-paced, filled with twists and starring protagonists who seem real; it is Kendra’s skill at evaluation that occurs early on and throughout, and the acerbic teaming that make for a strong suspense. 


Harriet Klausner

Backfire-Catherine Coulter

May 25, 2012


Catherine Coulter

Putnam, Jul 10 21012, $26.95

ISBN: 9780399157325


In San Francisco, Clive and Cindy Cahill stand trial for serial killings and abetting espionage.  Soon after that presiding Judge Ramsey Hunt is shot in the back near his home overlooking the ocean. 


In DC an unaddressed letter is given to FBI Agent Dillon Savich with no deadly chemicals or biological agents; only a note: “FOR WHAT YOU DID YOU DESERVE THIS”.  Soon after that Ramsey’s wife Molly calls Savich to beg him to come to find out who shot her husband.  She further says Ramsey is in surgery to save his life.  Savich and his partner Lacey Sherlock head for California immediately to provide support to Moly and to investigate the shooting of their friend, a federal official.  Working with California-based law enforcement officials’ task force, they learn the Cahill proceedings started off with a shocker when in your face federal prosecutor Mickey O’Rourke provided a weak opening argument and now cannot be found. 


The latest S&S FBI procedural (see Split Second and Whiplash) is an exciting suspense-laden whodunit.  Somewhat a family affair, fans will enjoy this twisting over the top of the Golden gate bridge mystery as the fast-paced thriller never slows down until after the final confrontation.


Harriet Klausner

Size 12 and Ready to Rock-Meg Cabot

May 25, 2012

Size 12 and Ready to Rock

Meg Cabot

Morrow, Jul 10 2012, $14.99

ISBN 9780061734786


New York College may have been partially shut for summer but the Fischer Hall dorm is filled to capacity with fifty fourteen to sixteen years old girls attending the first annual Tania Trace Rock Camp for two weeks.  Hostess pop star Tania is married to Fischer Hall Assistant Dorm Director Heather Wells’ former boyfriend Jordan Cartwright.  To make matters worse, the dorm is not ready for occupation and the event will be filmed.


Assistant TV producer Jared Greenberg eats rat poison vegan cupcakes while at Fisher “Death Dorm” Hall.  The evidence points to the pop star as the intended victim as a fan dropped off the toxic treat.  Tania hires her brother-in-law Heather’s fiancé private investigator Cooper Cartwright to keep her safe.  Tania tells Heather a secret that has the assistant dorm director and Cooper seeking to find a killer before someone else dies.


The latest Heather Wells Mysteries (see Big Boned) is an amusing tale in which the sleuthing is somewhat in the background to the protagonist’s frantic coping with a college president seeking fame and fortune for the school, a diva pop star, her ex, and fifty screaming diva wannabe teens.  Fast-paced, fans of the series will enjoy this jocular dry entry in spite of the limited detecting.


Harriet Klausner