Archive for July, 2012

Ties That Bind-Natalie R. Collins

July 31, 2012

Ties That Bind

Natalie R. Collins

St. Martin’s Griffin, Jul 31 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780312941994


In Kanesville, Utah, the Stake President Mark Malone finds his seventeen year old son Jeremiah hung himself using a tie.  KPD Detective Samantha Montgomery becomes angry and frustrated when a peer at the death scene tampered with the evidence by removing the tie.  Her boss Chief Roberson tells Sam to make the inquiry fast as he believes Jeremiah committed suicide.  Sam feels the death is too similar to recent suicides by two girls Jeremiah’s age; she wonders if a serial killer stalks Kanesville.


Seminary principal and Sam’s high school sweetheart Pail Carlson shows his office computer screen to the police; someone with access to the seminary typed in “Vengeance”, which changes the cause for the three teen deaths from self-inflicted to murder.  Salt Lake City Police Detective Gage Flint arrives to help on the investigation over the objection of Sam who blames him, her former lover, for her having to leave SLCPD.  As they investigate, Vengeance watches Sam closely as she may be next.


Natalie R. Collins latest Mormon Church mystery (see Latter Day Saints, SisterWife and Wives And Sisters) is an exciting police procedural serial killer thriller.  The engaging whodunit shines a light on the closed abusive patriarchal society especially in an insular small-town (one near Salt Lake City) in which a dark soul rationalizes his actions by claiming he is God’s Vengeance against sinners; though one must wonder why he waited to attack Sam who disavowed any connection to the Church.  Although Sam can be too angry, fans will understand why with her older sister dead but still inside her head, her dad condemning her wicked ways and her mom a vegetable.


Harriet Klausner


False Impressions-Laura Caldwell

July 31, 2012

False Impressions

Laura Caldwell

Mira, Aug 21 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780778313731


In Chicago, Maggie Bristol of Bristol & Associates is going on maternity leave so she needs her best friend and employee lawyer- private investigator Izzy McNeil to take more responsibility.  Izzy owes Maggie who assister her transition from entertainment law to criminal law so will do what it takes to keep her BFF’s firm functioning.


Her friend Mayburn asks Izzy to do him a favor.  His former lover art gallery owner Madeline Saga has recently learned some originals she sold were fakes.  Madeline insists that when she first obtained these works they were originals; so far she has not gone to the police because she will be ruined.  Izzy investigates knowing this has to be an inside job by either someone working at the gallery or an artist.  The case turns ugly when this unknown adversary threatens to kill Madeline.  Packer cheesehead Detective Damon Vaughn tries to help Izzy the Bears fan when she becomes a target too.


The latest Izzy McNeil Chicago Files (see Question of Trust, Red Blood Murder Claim of Innocence and Red Hot Lies) is an engaging tale in which the whodunit though well written plays second fiddle to the changes in Izzy’s life.  Readers will appreciate Izzy’s tour of Chicago’s art scene as she learns the Agony and the Ecstasy (by Irving stone) that art imitates art.


Harriet Klausner

South by Southeast-Blair Underwood, Tananarive Due and Steven Barnes

July 31, 2012

South by Southeast

Blair Underwood, Tananarive Due and Steven Barnes

Atria, Sep 18 2012, $15.00

ISBN: 9781451650631


In Los Angeles, highly regarded director Gustavo Escobar hires actor Tennyson Hardwick to play the key role of the first victim in Freaknik, a zombie horror movie.  Ten, his ailing dad and his eighteen year old not quite adopted daughter Chela are in South Beach for the film.  Left back in Southern California is his ex-April.


During the shoot, Chela’s street friend Maria arrives at the set.  They go out together clubbing in Miami at the Phoenix like they did a few years ago before Ten took the former off the street.  Not long afterward, Maria’s murdered corpse is found with the police believing she was the latest victim of a serial killer stalking hookers in South Florida.  Ten investigates the death and soon believes he knows the identity of the killer.  However, the culprit commits suicide so the case is closed except someone murders a person Ten cares about and threatens the two females he loves.


The latest Tennyson Hardwick mystery (see from Cape Town With Love, In The Heat of the Night and Casanegra) is an exciting street thriller though between his reconciliation with his dad and his love for April and Chela the hero has lost some of his hard-boiled noir edge.  For instance he is like every caring parent setting rules as he worries about his teenage daughter clubbing.  His adversary is a diabolical brilliant serial killer who places Ten in what the military calls a Morton’s fork selection between two horrible choices each leading to death.  Readers will appreciate Ten’s dilemma as death stalks him and his loved ones.


Harriet Klausner

What You Wish For-Janet Dawson

July 29, 2012

What You Wish For

Janet Dawson

Perseverance, Sep 10 2012, $15.95

ISBN 9781564745187


Retired San Francisco history professor Lindsey Page has lunch with her two friends Gretchen Segal and Claire Megarris; but the trio knows it is not the same as the fourth member of their sisterhood Annabel recovers from a stroke.  They discuss family and Lindsey admits she has not heard from her daughter Nina since she walked out swearing to never see her mom again four months ago when she left with Chad for Austin.  However, each has secrets that if surfaced will shake their long time friendship forged back in the late 1960s at Berkley.  After leaving her buddies, Lindsey finds Nina who asks to stay with her mom for a few days. 


Meanwhile Lindsey is conducting interviews for her new book on Latin American female immigrants who fled their homelands due to war, deprivation and torture.  One of the people she has talked with, immigrant Flor Cooper asks for her help.  Her El Salvadoran village was the sight of a massacre in 1989, but she believes her son Efraín, a baby back then, survived the atrocity as she swears she saw at the Berkeley Farmers Market a man the right age that looks just like her executed husband Atenacio.  


Rotating between the Bay area and El Salvatore, the 1970s, 1989 and the present, Janet Dawson provides a thought provoking thriller as the author invokes the deadly full cost of a cup of coffee.  The subplots interweave while perspective change so that readers obtain a rich suspenseful blend that will stun the audience with the profound look at the outcome two decades after the coffee war massacres.


Harriet Klausner

Severe Clear-Stuart Woods

July 29, 2012

Severe Clear

Stuart Woods

Putnam, Sep 18 2012, $26.95

ISBN 9780399159848


Dignities flock to Bel Air for the grand opening of the luxurious Arrington Hotel built on the estate of Stone Barrington’s late wife Arrington Carter.  American President Lee, his Mexican counterpart, other foreign leaders and royals, billionaires and Hollywood’s A list are among the who’s who attending the gala.  Also at the bash besides Stone are police detective Dino Bacchetti and lawyer Herbie Fisher.  


Security is at its highest level as the Arrington is a prime terrorist target with so many of the elite attending the bash.  NSA overhears chatter that targets the Arrington.  They work with other agencies like the CIA’s Holly Barker to prevent a calamity while Stone enjoys the party atmosphere.


Though the usual over abundant mix of food, sex, wine and more sex are major ingredients, this is an exciting Barrington thriller (see Unnatural Acts).  Fast-paced once Stone and the alphas (Fed agencies not the TV series) begin their counter measures, fans will enjoy the latest Barrington tale though once again the hero’s involvement seems over the top of the Hollywood sign.


Harriet Klausner

To The Grave-Carlene Thompson

July 27, 2012

To The Grave

Carlene Thompson

St. Martin’s, Jul 31 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780312360757


Catherine Gray returns to Aurora Falls to establish her psychology practice.  Her teenage unrequited love James Eastman has a legal practice in town.  James met his troubled ex-wife Renée in New Orleans when he attended Tulane University law school.  She left Aurora Falls three years ago without a warning; not a word since she departed.


Catherine shows her sister Melissa, James’ country estate where both are shocked to find Renée’s murdered corpse.  They call the police who investigate the homicide while wondering why the victim came back to town and who someone wanted her dead.  At the same time the cops make their inquiries, another homicide occurs, which leads Catherine to wonder if she is next on the killer’s queue.


This is an exciting romantic suspense with a strong murder mystery anchoring the engaging storyline.  Although neither lead character nor any of the support players including the corpse comes across as fully developed, readers will want to know who killed Renée and why as the whodunit grips the audience from the start to the final confrontation.


Harriet Klausner

A Heartbeat Away-Harry Kraus

July 27, 2012

A Heartbeat Away

Harry Kraus

David C. Cook, Sept 1 2012, $14.99

ISBN: 9781434702579


Her peers and patients felt that top rate surgeon Dr. Victoria “Tori” Taylor is great in the OR, but lacked a heart; she is especially hard on support staff.  Ironically, Tori receives a heart when she is the recipient of an emergency transplant. 


Tori struggles to accept her new found feelings of commiserating with people rather than keeping her frozen professional distance.  However, what disturbs Tori most is the recurring horrific nightmare of a murder.  She wonders if her new heart is transmitting “cellular memories” from the donor.  Obsessed with a need to uncover the identity of who killed her former heart’s owner, Tori and therapist Phin MacGregor investigate while the cops thinks she became unhinged by her near death experience except for one veteran.  Meanwhile someone knows the surgeon and the therapist are searching for a killer.


This tense medical thriller grips readers on two levels as a strong murder mystery and a second chance at life redemption tale.  The fast-paced storyline deftly merges medical technology with amateur sleuthing as a Tin Man-like heroine figuratively finds her heart. 


Harriet Klausner

Trust Your Eyes-Linwood Barclay

July 27, 2012

Trust Your Eyes

Linwood Barclay

NAL, Sep 4 2012, $25.95

ISBN 9780451237903


Sexagenarian farmer Adam Kilbride dies in a tragic tractor accident.  His son Ray an illustrator returns home to Promise Falls, New York for his dad’s funeral.  With the death of his father, Ray’s biggest fear has arrived: how to take care of Thomas, his schizophrenic map savant brother.


Thomas lives on the Whirl360 website studying and memorizing layouts of cities so when the internet crashes, he will replicate them for the CIA.  However, Thomas goes viral when he demands his older brother investigate a homicide he witnessed on the Whirl360 images of Manhattan’s Lower East Side.  Reluctantly Adam agrees though he does not believing his sibling saw a murder of a woman on the net.  However, a former cop and his ice pick henchwoman become aware of the pair’s inquiry.  The Kilbride bothers are now part of their cleaning up a botched crime.


Trust Your Eyes is a gripping thriller that increasingly turns convoluted and violent.  The storyline is fast-paced from the moment Thomas insists he witnessed a homicide over the web and never slows down as the reader anticipates a High Noon showdown on the mean streets of Manhattan between the sympathetic amateur sleuthing siblings and the vile vicious murdering duet.


Harriet Klausner

The Dead Women of Juárez-Sam Hawken

July 27, 2012

The Dead Women of Juárez

Sam Hawken

Serpent’s Tail, Sep 4 2012, $14.95

ISBN: 9781846687747


Texan Kelly Courter fought in the States as a welterweight.  Now boxing on the other side of the border from El Paso in Ciudad Juárez, he is a middleweight but that is irrelevant as there is no weigh-ins before a bout; instead fighting south of the border is catch-all weight.  He understands what the fans want is gringo blood and his face shows his comprehension.


Kelly is seeing Paloma, the sister of his friend drug dealer Estéban.  At the same time, Mexican veteran police detective Rafael Sevilla investigates drug related violence in the border city that he believes is the factor behind the missing most likely dead women.  Paloma joins the survivor’s family advocacy group, but soon afterward men take her away.  Rafael and Kelly team up trying to rescue the latest victim by solving the serial disappearances and probably murders of The Dead Women of Juárez.


Based on the real tragedy of the shocking female homicide rate over the last two decades, The Dead Women of Juárez is an exciting hard-boiled thriller that that throws plenty of hooks and upper cuts in a violent crime thriller.  The storyline initially focuses on the washed-up Texan before placing the weary detective in charge.  Although the transition between them as lead is weak, fans will want to go the distance with both of them as Sam Hawken provides a strong gory tale.


Harriet Klausner

Detroit Breakdown-D.E. Johnson

July 26, 2012

Detroit Breakdown

D.E. Johnson

Minotaur, Sep 4 2012, $25.99

ISBN: 9781250006622


In 1912 in the Detroit area, the caller informs Elizabeth Hume that her cousin Robert Clarke, a lifelong resident of the Eloise Insane Asylum is suspected of murdering another patient.  Elizabeth tries to speak with her cousin, but is told no since Robbie is being kept in solitary confinement as this is the fourth person murdered by the Phantom using the “Punjab lasso”.


She asks her friend P. I Will Anderson to help. Elizabeth volunteers at the facility in order to prove her Robbie is innocent.  Will pretends to suffer from amnesia so he is committed as a patient at Eloise Hospital.  As the two along with Police Detective Riordan investigate the serial killings, Will learns what it is like to be a helpless patient with no champion to protect him from the abuse and abasement of the staff.


With a reminder of the need for vigilance to protect those most helpless (think of Willowbrook in the 1960s), Detroit Breakdown is a powerful dark historical noir.  Fast-paced from the moment Will enters the asylum, readers will be shocked by the treatment he receives.  The serial killer inquiry is superb, but it is the conditions at the Eloise Insane Asylum that grips the audience as D.E. Johnson provides another superb Anderson Motor City Shakedown (see Anderson Electric Car).


Harriet Klausner