Archive for September, 2012

Finding Mercy-Karen Harper

September 30, 2012

Finding Mercy

Karen Harper

Mira, Oct 16 2012, $14.95

ISBN: 9780778313977

 

Thirtyish Alex Caldwell detests what has happened to his life ever since he turned witness against his ex-boss Marv Boynton who conducted illegal deals with the Chinese.  Alec rejected the witness protection program while waiting for the trial to begin.  He knows his career on Wall Street is dead as is the firm SkyBound he worked for but hopes to start over soon.  In Atlanta while his bodyguard Jake sleeps, Alec steps out only to have someone shoot at him. 

 

The hit attempt leads to Alec placed in WITSEC where he is hidden amongst the Amish in Home Valley, Ohio.  Alec meets Ella Lantz, the daughter of his hosts.  They are attracted to one another though she knows he is not Amish even if the elders imply otherwise that his difference comes from being a Pennsylvania cousin.  As they fall in love, the outside world intrudes with hit men trying to kill Alec; collateral damage being acceptable.  As the couple flees Eden County, accompanied by her grosmamm, the enemy pursues them.

 

The third Home Valley Amish romance (see Return to Grace and Fall From Pride) is an exciting rendition of Witness with the twist that the lead couple flees Amish country.  Fast-paced and filled with action, readers will this love on the run romantic suspense.

 

Harriet Klausner

The Five O’Clock Follies: What’s a Woman Doing Here, Anyway?- Theasa Tuohy

September 30, 2012

The Five O’Clock Follies: What’s a Woman Doing Here, Anyway?

Theasa Tuohy

Calliope Press, Oct 15 2012, $14.99

www.calliopepress.com

ISBN: 9780984779918

 

In 1968 freelance writer Angela Martinelli arrives in Saigon as a rare female war correspondent.  Her male counterparts ridicule the tall classy looking Angela in her high heels and long red hair as out of place in Vietnam.  Only Chicago journalist Nick O’Brien gives her a chance to prove herself if she acclimates to life without American upper middle class “luxuries” like a lovely summer dress.

 

Angela adapts to the ups and downs of war reporting.  She bravely covers a covert operation in Cambodia and escapes from the Viet Cong while the military deny any breaching of the boundaries.  Her male counterparts continue to scorn her as they reject her accounts as female fanciful fabrications except for Nick.

 

This is a powerful military historical thriller that focuses on journalists covering the Vietnam War especially a feisty courageous woman crashing through the glass ceiling.  The excitement occurs during the major events like the Tet Offensive and the insight into the psychological and physical injuries sustained by the soldiers and reporters.  When the storyline concentrates on the mundane between the key war moments the plot slows down yet is even more discerning as the audience observes the journalists (and soldiers) dealing with ennui yet anticipating the next bipolar explosion to report on.  The Five O’Clock Follies answers “What’s a Woman Doing Here, Anyway?” with reporting the news.

 

Harriet Klausner

 

Strong Poison: Lord Peter Wimsey Mystery with Harriet Vane-Dorothy L. Sayers

September 30, 2012

Strong Poison: Lord Peter Wimsey Mystery with Harriet Vane

Dorothy L. Sayers

Harper, Oct 16 2012, $14.99

ISBN: 9780062196200

 

In 1929 mystery writer Harriet Vane stands trial for the arsenic poisoning of her fiancé, author Philip Boyes.  Everyone knows she murdered Boyes as she had the means having purchased strychnine, prussic acid, and arsenic just before he died; the opportunity as he was her fiancée though she left him after a spat heard by the neighbors; and the motive as her intended was an advocate of free love, which may have been why that argued.

 

Unable to resist the lure of the most scandalous murder cases in years, Detective Lord Peter Wimsey attends the trial expecting to find a killer.  After hearing the evidence and observing the accused in the dock, Peter explains to Chief Inspector Charles Parker that the latter erred as the accused is innocent.  The jury shockingly reports they failed to reach a unanimous verdict as three holdouts refuses to bow to the pressure of the other members.  He gets Sir Impey Biggs to add him onto the defense team as he investigates the murder with intensity as he has fallen in love with the accused.  After being the forty-seventh person to propose to Miss Vane, Wimsey investigates.

 

The reprint of the first Wimsey-Vane mystery is a terrific period piece that brings to life 1920s England.  The whodunit is entertaining as time is running out on identifying who killed Boyes.  The whimsical fun in this tale comes from Wimsey’s serial proposals and vane’s serial refusals.  Fans will relish this strong entry as Dorothy L. Sayers shows why she remains relevant with her ability to provide a slice of a bygone era to the reader.

 

A Grid For Murder-Casey Mayes

September 30, 2012

A Grid For Murder

Casey Mayes

Berkley Prime Crime, Oct 2 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780425251645

 

Savannah Stone drives into nearby Asheville, North Carolina when she stops for tea at Café Noir.  She would have headed straight home in Parson’s Valley if she knew obnoxious Joanne Clayton was there.  Joanne shows Savannah a puzzle she created that was bought by the Asheville Alternative newspaper.  Savannah, who is a nationally syndicated puzzle creator, congratulates her.  Two other residents of Parson’s Valley Laura Moon and Sandra Oliver join them. 

 

When she gets home, her husband retired Charlotte police chief Zach tells her that someone poisoned Joanne.  Savannah tells her spouse about having distasteful tea with Joanna.  Zach takes her to the Asheville police where State Police Captain North temporarily runs the office.  Savannah tells her story to North and Zach offers his services.  Back home, Savannah, worrying about her reputation as a relative newcomer, and her widow friend hardware store owner Rob Hastings draw up a list of suspects as they investigate the murder.

 

The third Mystery by the Numbers (see A Killer Column and A Deadly Row) is an engaging amateur sleuth as Savannah and Rob work their inquiry.  His reason for investigating seems possible though unlikely; while hers seems improbable.  Still the whodunit is clever as Savannah works her suspect list by the numbers.

 

Harriet Klaussner

Mrs. Malory and a Necessary End-Hazel Holt

September 30, 2012

Mrs. Malory and a Necessary End

Hazel Holt

Obsidian, Oct 2 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780451415387

 

Monica’s daughter Julia needs her after giving birth prematurely while moving.  She asks her friend Sheila Malory to replace her three days a week over the next few weeks as a volunteer at a charity shop in Taviscombe.  Initially greeted by dreadful Norma Stanley, Mrs. Malory finds the work interesting.  However, she also dislikes her controlling egomaniac supervisor the unpleasant Desmond Barlow; a pain to work for as he always criticizes the staff and bullies his wife Wendy; even Norma bows to his tyranny.

 

Someone must have agreed with Mrs. Malory’s assessment just more sharply when the murdered corpse of Desmond is found in the shop.  Inspector Bob Morris leads the inquiry while Mrs. Malory gossiping with friends and other townsfolk begins to uncover pertinent information about a man universally disliked.

 

The latest Mrs. Mallory English village cozy (see Mrs. Malory And Any Man’s Death) is a fascinating leisurely paced whodunit.  Mrs. Malory’s guided tour of Taviscombe enables the armchair reader to see the town through her eyes.  Well written and fun to read although fans will quickly boil down the killer to one of two people.

 

Harriet Klausner

Murder She Wrote: Domestic Malice-Jessica Fletcher and Donald Bain

September 30, 2012

Murder She Wrote: Domestic Malice

Jessica Fletcher and Donald Bain

NAL, Oct 2 2012, $23.95

ISBN: 9780451238030

 

In Cabot Cove, Maine, mystery writer Jessica Fletcher volunteers at the Cabot Cove Women’s Shelter.  She and the shelter’s head Edwinna Wilkerson are chatting at the facility when battered Myriam Wolcott arrives.  The mother of two (sixteen years old Mark and twelve years old Ruth) rejects medical attention, rejects filing a police report and refuses to remain at the facility.  She goes home though she fears her spouse Josh, a financial planner, will harm her again.

 

The next morning Edwinna shocks Jessica with the news that someone murdered Josh just outside his home.  Myriam’s brother and sister-in-law arrive followed by her martinet mother Mrs. Caldwell who threatens legal action if either Edwinna or Jessica mentions her daughter’s visit to the shelter.  Mrs. Caldwell warns the sheriff as well while demanding her late son-in-law provide her with the will.  When Myriam confesses, Jessica begins an investigation though she vowed not to.

 

The latest Murder She Wrote mystery (see Trouble at High Tide) is a terrific whodunit that highlights family abuse and to a lesser degree environmental concerns.  The whodunit is clever with a stunning twist on top of an “obvious” spin as Jessica Fletcher and Donald Bain provide a super mystery that leaves the heroine questioning whether the truth is always the right thing.

 

Harriet Klausner

The Gemini Virus-Wil Mara

September 28, 2012

 The Gemini Virus

Wil Mara

Forge, Oct 2 2012, $24.99

ISBN: 9780765324313

 

In Ramsey, New Jersey, Bob Easton dies in horrible agony from an unknown illness that had him suffering from large pustules on his entire body and total delirium,.  However before he passed away, Bob spread the disease to others.  Six more people are dead while the local health responders are overwhelmed with the sick. 

 

Centers for Disease Control Epidemic Intelligence Service epidemiologists Michael Beck and Cara Porter investigate the horrific deaths.  As they work the New Jersey epidemic trying to identify what the killer is and whether Easton is patient zero, the disease spreads exponentially across the United States and beyond.  America panics as does the world.

 

With a nod to the movie Contagion, The Gemini Virus is a vivid (the audience will become mysophobia agoraphobic), exhilarating lethal virus thriller.  Part of the fun is the reactions of people as some welcome the biblical End of Days while others blame the government.  Fast-paced from the first cough and sneeze, the storyline never takes a respite as the Gemini Virus goes viral.

 

Harriet Klausner

Spy in a Little Black Dress-Maxine Kenneth

September 28, 2012

Spy in a Little Black Dress

Maxine Kenneth

Grand Central, Oct 2 2012, $14.99

ISBN: 9780446567428

 

In 1951, CIA rookie Jackie Bouvier feels better about her espionage work after surviving her first assignment (see Paris To Die For) and having received some need training.  Deputy Director Allen Dulles asks the Washington Times-Herald photojournalist to meet and flirts with Jack Kennedy as he wants the Massachusetts Congressman to become “a friend of the CIA.”  

 

Jackie is sent under the guise of her photojournalist job to Cuba.  There she is to learn what she can about revolutionary Fidel Castro by getting inside the Communist Party.  The CIA wants to better understand his objectives and whether he is a viable threat to the brutal regime of Battista.  

 

The second Jackie Bouvier, CIA operative thriller is a fun over the top of Pico Turquino espionage tale.  Fast-paced with plenty of action and anchored in time and place by real persona like Hemingway and Sinatra, fans who relish an exciting implausible action thriller will enjoy Jackie meeting Jack and Fidel as the Spy in a Little Black Dress.

 

Harriet Klausner

If Mashed Potatoes Could Dance-Paige Shelton

September 28, 2012

If Mashed Potatoes Could Dance

Paige Shelton

Berkley, Oct 2 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780425251614

 

In Broken Rope, Missouri, Miz Winston owns Gram’s Country Cooking School; her granddaughter Isabelle “Betts” Winston works closely with her.  Betts’ best friend, Broken Rope’s Historical Society historian and fake sheriff Jake asks them if they can host a busload of foodies whose reservation was messed up and provide cooking lessons.  The two relatives wonder where anyone will stay except the floor as their establishment is not a hotel; Betts arranges accommodations for the foodie crowd.

 

Soon afterward, Miz and Betts encounter the ax-wielding ghost of patricide murderer Sally Swarthmore.  She pleads with the pair to find her diary that will prove she is not the notorious cold-blooded killer of legend.  They also find one of their guests dead with a noose around his neck; two other foodies are missing. Betts turns to her boyfriend Cliff of the local police department while also doing an inquiry.  

 

The latest Country Cooking School Mystery (see If Fried Chicken Could Fly) is an entertaining amateur sleuth starring a heroine struggling to adapt to communicating with ghosts though she has a mentor helping her adjust.  The pair of whodunits engages the audience though the solutions of each seem obvious early on.  Still fans will enjoy Betts working paranormal and human murder cases.

 

Harriet Klau

A Fatal Stain-Elise Hyatt

September 28, 2012

A Fatal Stain

Elise Hyatt

Berkley Prime Crime, Oct 2 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780425255230

 

Daring Finds furniture refinishing storeowner Candyce “Dyce” Dare is running out of diversions as her mom and her BFF Ben Colm demand she join them to plan her wedding to Goldport Serious Crimes Unit Chief Investigator Cas Wolfe.  Dyce struggles with their concept of Pythagoras dressed in a tuxedo as the Best Cat and fears whatever else the dynamic duo has in mind.

 

While sanding a table she bought at the semi-permanent garage sale, Dyce uncovers a stain that looks like blood.  Though she knows it is probably her imagination running wild due to growing up in her parent’s mystery bookstore, Dyce visits the garage sale location accompanied by E.  She learns the last owner vanished; so she wonders if the disappearance ties back to the stain. 

 

The latest A Daring Finds investigation (see French Polished Murder) is an amusing amateur sleuth starring a likable but immature heroine.  The mystery is fun to follow though Dyce has no real reason to make inquiries.  Still fans will enjoy this cozy and appreciate tips on restoring furniture.

 

Harriet Klausner