Archive for September, 2012

Paradise City-Archie Mayor

September 27, 2012

Paradise City

Archie Mayor

Minotaur, Oct 2 2012, $25.99

ISBN: 9780312681951


In Beacon Hill, three thieves break into the house of octogenarian Wilhelmina “Billie” Hawthorn.  Billie interrupts their burglary, so they eliminate her.  Boston Police Detective Jimmy McAuliffe leads the investigation in which the murderers steal silverware while leaving behind easy to snatch valuables.  The victim’s twentyish granddaughter Mina Carson demands in on the official inquiry.  Clues lead to Northampton, Massachusetts.


Vermont Bureau of Investigation Chief Joe Gunther and his team investigate arson and a theft at affluent Tucker Peak ski resort.  Clues lead to Northampton.  Gunther and his subordinate Willy Kunkle join the Massachusetts police team (and one angry feisty civilian) as they hunt for a fence and those working for this dealer of stolen property.


The latest Joe Gunther police procedural (see Tag Man) is a fabulous whodunit as the VBI chief and his top gun team up with their Massachusetts counterparts and Mina who refuses to be denied entry onto the task force.  The storyline is fast-paced with Neanderthal Kunkle bringing humor to the exciting whodunit.  Readers will enjoy fast-paced Paradise City.


Harriet Klausner

Nerve-Jeanne Ryan

September 27, 2012


Jeanne Ryan 

Dial, Sep 13 2012, $17.99

ISBN: 9780803738324


High school junior “Little” Vee is the one who hides behind the curtain designing costumes and applying makeup to others.  Matthew challenges her to audition at a prelim Dare for a spot on the popular Nerve reality show that fans pay a fee to watch.  Deciding to enter, she pours cold water on her T-shirt; her friend Tommy sends her Dare to the show.


Now she, Ian and several other chosen ones team up and back stab as they begin taking on challenges with coveted customized prizes as their rewards.  The stunts increasingly turn dangerous as each participant debases themselves in the not so friendly competition.


Nerve is an unnerving thriller as Jeanne Ryan asks readers how far someone will go for fame and fortune.  The storyline is frantically-paced as Vee and the other contestants seemingly answer that question with anything though psychologically what motivates each of them is not very clear.  With a nod to Chuck Barris’s Gong Show and Andy Warhol’s wry comment “In the future everyone will have their fifteen minutes of fame”, fans will relish this insightful look at the contestants inside the coliseum.


Harriet Klausner

Live by Night-Dennis Lehane

September 26, 2012

Live by Night

Dennis Lehane

Morrow, Oct 2 2012, $27.99

ISBN 9780060004873


In 1926 Boston, nineteen year old troubled youth Joe Coughlin prefers the illegal night life in spite of his dad and older brother being cops.  Joe supplies hookers and illegal drugs and alcohol to customers.  During a heist with the Bartolo brothers of a speakeasy owned by Albert White, Joe meets Emma Gould.  That robbery proves fruitful for Joe’s career when he ends up in prison where Mafia Don Maso Pescatore befriends him, as he likes the kid’s moxie.


In 1929 after Joe leaves prison, Maso puts him in charge of his West Florida operation based in Tampa.  Over the years, Joe builds a powerful underworld empire and marries Cuban Graciela Corrales.  He relocates his headquarters to Havana where Batista is friendly to American gangsters for the right price.  As he continues to thrive, cracks begin to surface from within, and from without as rivals and ambitious mobsters want more than just a piece of his action and from the changing American and Cuban governmental interests.


Almost a decade since Joe first appeared in The Given Day, this is an entertaining epic of a career gangster.  The storyline is great when the plot is in Boston and prison; it remains strong in Tampa, but in the stretch, the drama seems a bit muddled as too much happens.  Still fans will relish Dennis Lehane’s deep look at the life of a twentieth century gangster.


Harriet Klausner

Death of a Longship-Marsali Taylor

September 24, 2012

Death of a Longship

Marsali Taylor

Attica Books, Aug 15 2012, $9.99

ISBN: 9781908002457


To the chagrin of her parents, Cass Lynch always preferred sailing to schooling.  At sixteen years of age she left home, but to stay afloat, she waits tables.  While serving Mr. Berg of Mr. Berg Productions, Cass overhears their discussion about using a Viking longship for a Hollywood movie.  She persuades him and his associates to let her skipper the Stormfugl lying in the Shetland Islands; though that means going home for the first time since she ran away.


However, her euphoria ends when she sees the corpse of Maree Baker, stand-in to the film’s star, lying dead on the ship’s deck.  Detective Investigator Macrae leads the homicide investigation with two distinct groups on his radar: the film crew and Cass and her family.  Knowing how much a family affair the murder is and fearing she was the intended victim, Cass as is her personality refuses to wait for a killer or a cop to complete their respective actions; instead she investigates.


Death of a Longship is an entertaining amateur sleuth starring an intrepid heroine.  The storyline showcase sailing as the protagonist’s love of the sea is a key supporting element.  Although the storyline can somewhat slow down with the insight into Lynch family dynamics, fans will relish sailing into murder with Marsali Taylor as our skipper.


Harriet Klausner

Death and the Maiden-Frank Tallis

September 23, 2012

Death and the Maiden

Frank Tallis

Random House, Oct 2 2012, $15.00

ISBN: 9780812983340


Detective Inspector Oskar Rheinhardt and his assistant Haussmann arrived at the home of Vienna Opera renowned soprano Ida Rosenkrantz.  Rheinhardt learns from Constable Drasche that only the housekeeper frau Marcus who found the body and Dr. Engleberg who she called is inside the home.  The corpse is oddly placed at the center of the rug.  Dr. Engleberg tells the DI that the victim apparently imbibed a large amount of laudanum so she could have overdosed.  To his chagrin, Rheinhardt has to inform his boss Commissioner Brugel so the latter can notify the Lord Chamberlain of the Court Opera singer’s death, making the case extremely sensitive.


The autopsy reveals that someone using immense force to crack a rib of the victim while suffocating the famous singer.  The DI obtains the assistance of Freudian Dr. Max Liebermann in spite of knowing Vienna’s powerful and anti-Semitic Mayor Karl Lueger will object to using a Jew while running for reelection. 


The latest Rheinhardt-Liebermann police procedural (see Vienna Secrets and Vienna Twilight) is a superb early twentieth century historical that uses real persona like Court Opera Director Gustav Mahler, Lueger and indirectly Freud.  The case proves dangerous while the pair also looks into an alleged accidental death of a Brahms’ compatriot who died four decades earlier.  Even the personal front comes to life as Rheinhardt increasingly likes being with his family and Liebermann’s inamorata Amelia joins the budding feminist movement.  Although somewhat more of a cozy with the abatement of violence as compared to previous entries, Frank Tallis provides a strong look at Freud’s Vienna.


Harriet Klausner




Phantom-Jo Nesbø

September 23, 2012


Jo Nesbø

Knopf, Oct 2 2012, $25.95

ISBN: 9780307960474


Oslo Police Inspector Harry Hole fled to Hong Kong suffering from PTSD after the horrific Snowman serial case compounded by his debt.  However, he came home when Oslo Homicide Detective Kaja Solness needed his expertise on The Leopard case.  The damaged cop has no plans to stay or remain in Norway.


However recovering alcoholic Harry returns to Oslo from Hong Kong once again to help one of the few people he would come home for his estranged eighteen years old Oleg.  The police suspect the teenager killed Gusto Hanssen as each was employed by mysterious Dubai as street pushers of Violin, a synthetic heroin.  With covert help from his former peers, Harry investigates the Norwegian drug trade with ties to the police force of which he once was a member. 


The latest Harry Hole case is a fabulous thriller as the former cop escorts his audience around the lucrative drug trafficking in Norway.  However, the inquiry also enables readers to understand a core value of the mentally damaged former detective whose obsession with the truth supersedes his paternal instinct to protect his offspring.  Fans will relish Phantom as Harry’s latest return home is a winner.


Harriet Klausner

The Lost Artist-Gail Lukasik

September 23, 2012

The Lost Artist

Gail Lukasik

Five Star, Jun 6 2012, $25.95

ISBN: 9781432825768


In Anna, Illinois Professor Karen Caffrey owns the 1836 Braun House.  After stealing pages from the Emily Braun diary, she is shocked to find the nearby grave of the woman open and empty.  Soon afterward Karen realizes the man she obtained a restraining order for still stalks her. 


Karen’s sister Rose, a performance artist, drives from Chicago to Anna because her sister’s eerie phone call frightened her and her efforts to phone Karen back were no answered.  Rose enters her sibling’s home only to find her in the library near a ladder and books on the floor.  Though not close, a stunned Rose plans to sell the house until she sees three enigmatic murals whose subjects relates to the 1830s Trail of Tears and learns her late sister hired restoration artist Alex Hague to remove layers of wallpaper that concealed four known murals in all.  As she investigates who the mural artist was, Rose and Alex soon team up in search of missing sixteenth century Americana historical National Treasure art while an adversary pursues them.


This is a great thriller that provides the audience with a deep look at the Trail of Tears and at mural art.  The storyline is fast-paced from the opening murder scene until the final discovery and disappearance.  Rose is a superb heroine as she bravely continues her inquiry knowing what happened to her sister and distrusting the only person she can partner with in her search; as Alex is enigmatic.  The Lost Artist is a fabulous mystery.


Harriet Klausner

Invisible Murder-Lene Kaaberbøl and Agnete Friis

September 22, 2012

Invisible Murder

Lene Kaaberbøl and Agnete Friis

Soho Press, Oct 2 2012, $25.00

ISBN: 9781616951702


In Copenhagen, Red Cross nurse Nina Borg (see The Boy in the Suitcase) promised her husband to end her volunteerism in order to spend more time with their two children.  However, Nina cannot stay away from the plight of the Hungarian Roma living in an encampment in Valby so she continues to volunteer for the Network.


Networker Peter Erhardsen the engineer and much of the Roma expatriates become violently ill with an unknown sickness.  The police arrest Budapest law student Sándor Horváth who they mistakenly think is his stepbrother Tamás Rézmüves; as the cops believe the latter and his partner Pitkin stole radioactive products from an abandoned hospital in Hungary to sell in Denmark. Matters turns ugly as the tainted contraband travels the city while sex traffickers and terrorists threaten the Networkers, their families, the Roma and other good people.


This is an exciting Danish thriller that grips the audience with an obsessive need to know how everything ties together, which Lene Kaaberbøl and Agnete Friis successfully achieve by their stunning climax.  Action-packed, readers will “clink and drink one down to wonderful, wonderful Copenhagen” (Frank Loesser).


Harriet Klausner

Valley of Dust-Karoleen Vry Brucks

September 21, 2012

Valley of Dust

Karoleen Vry Brucks

Xlibris Corporation, Aug 7 2012, $19.99

ISBN: 9781477125342


In Spruce Pine, North Carolina, as she attends the Penland School of Crafts and tends bar at night to eat, twentyish Selene Holmberg knows she has always been different even from her sisters while growing up in Raleigh.  She was and remains the outsider.


A stranger assaults her with intention to rape Selene.  Instead a silver haired individual comes out of the shadows, kills the predator, and vanishes back into shadows.  Years ago, Lucian recognized Selene’s aura when she was a little girl; as a rare live born Strigoli from human parents like him and his brother Anton.  He also believes Selene is his destiny after a millennium with no one.  However, Anton, who was to keep her safe, and Selene meet and are attracted to one another.


Valley of Dust is an enjoyable vampire romance in which the Strigoli culture comes across fully developed to insure the undead species seems genuine although Selene the loner adjusts to quickly to fitting in with her world turned upside down.  The key triangle is deftly established, as readers anticipate a sibling confrontation with the heroine being the prize.


Harriet Klausner

Skating on the Edge-Joelle Charbonneau

September 20, 2012

Skating on the Edge

Joelle Charbonneau

Minotaur, Oct 2 2012, $25.99

ISBN: 9780312606633


When her mother died, Rebecca Robbins returned home to Indian Falls, Illinois planning to sell the roller rink she inherited, but a murder in the bathroom delayed her plans (see Skating around the law).  Still in town, Rebecca volunteers for a turn in the dunk tank at the Native American Days gala.  However, she cancels at the last moment to help her crazy grandfather with his Elvis performance.


Replacing her in the tank is roller derby queen Sherlene “M Mean” Patsy who gets electrocuted on her first trip into the water.  Rebecca rules out it was an accident and wonders if she was the intended victim or could the culprit have known of the last second switch and still have time to take advantage of an opportunity to go after the former Sister Shirley.  She soon knows the truth when a humongous disco ball nearly crushes Rebecca; followed by her skates tampered and shots fired at her.  Assuming her con artist dad is somehow involved, Rebecca investigates who wants her dead while the EstroGenocide roller derby team members become her bodyguards.


The third Rebecca Robbins amusing amateur sleuth (see Skating over the Line) is a humorous whodunit with a fabulous slapstick final confrontation worthy of the madcap 1930s shorts.  Fast-paced, fans will enjoy Rebecca’s latest escapades as who would have believed that a skating rink could prove so dangerous.


Harriet Klausner