Archive for October, 2012

The Wrong Hill To Die On-Donis Casey

October 28, 2012

The Wrong Hill To Die On

Donis Casey

Poisoned Pen, Nov 6 2012, $24.95

ISBN: 9781464200441


In 1916, Alafair and Shaw Tucker leave behind nine of their children under the watch of their oldest offspring in Boynton, Oklahoma.  They travel to the home of Alafair’s sister Elizabeth Kemp in Tempe, Arizona so that their ten year old daughter Blanche can heal from bronchitis in the dry climate.


The morning after Elizabeth and her husband Webster hosted a party, Alafair finds the body of Mexican handyman Bernie Arruda, who performed as a mariachi singer at the gala, in an irrigation ditch with less than six inches of water.  Constable Nettles leads the investigation at a time when Whites fear and rage at Mexican refugees flooding into Arizona and a movie is being on location here.  Unable to resist while fearing for her sister who she fears is involved in human smuggling and whose marriage is teetering, Alafair investigates as a second homicide occurs.


The latest Alafair Tucker amateur sleuth (see Crying Blood) is an enjoyable historical mystery with a strong emphasis on social issues like racism, immigration and family ties that resonate today.  Readers will appreciate the whodunit, but it is Arizona circa 1916 that makes for a strong Americana.


Harriet Klausner


A Christmas Garland-Anne Perry

October 28, 2012

A Christmas Garland

Anne Perry

Ballantine, Oct 30 2012, $18.00

ISBN: 9780345530745


In 1857, as a rebellion sweeps across India, Colonel Latimer assigns newcomer Lieutenant Victor Narraway with an unpleasant assignment.  He is to defend British medical orderly Corporal John Tallis for abetting the escape of a Sikh prisoner Dhuleep Singh that led to the murder of a guard Cutter Singh and other deaths.  With the recent Siege of Cawnpore on everyone’s mind and the deaths of comrades, the garrison occupants demand execution immediately.


Narraway assumes his defense of Tallis is a meaningless check the box formality as he expects his “client” to hang.  However, Narraway realizes there is no physical proof or an eyewitness tying Tallis to the murders.  In fact the evidence is indirect as he is the only soldier who apparently has no alibi.  Though his comrades warn him to do nothing, Narroway, encouraged by a widow and her children, investigates what really happened.


The latest annual Perry Christmas treat (see A Christmas Homecoming, A Christmas Odyssey, A Christmas Promise, A Christmas Grace, and A Christmas Beginning) is a terrific Victorian era legal thriller.  The background of a rebellious India enhances the tale as the protagonist begins to believe his client is innocent while almost everyone else demands a scapegoat.  However, believing in the innocence is not the same as proving it as Narraway learns; yet he finds hope to have a Happy Christmas if he can prevent a travesty of justice.


Harriet Klausner

Edge of Black-J.T. Ellison

October 28, 2012

Edge of Black

J.T. Ellison

Mira, Nov 13 2012, $14.95

ISBN: 9780778313724


Following the tragic deaths of her husband and children a couple of years ago (see A Deeper Darkness), former medical examiner Dr. Samantha Owens finally left Nashville to teach forensic pathology in the fall at Georgetown.  She even has a boyfriend veteran Xander Whitfield.   Currently she teaches a summer class at GW when a student Brooke Wasserstom becomes very ill.  With the help of students, she takes Brooke over to campus ER where Sam finds other patients with the same condition.


Wearing her M.E. cap as a consultant, Sam learns the common thread of all those ill is riding the Metro.  Meanwhile three die from the unknown pathogen while the media and Homeland Security causes panic across the nation.  As Sam works the case, she realizes the predator is not a terrorist, but instead a psychopath with a personal lethal agenda.


The second Samantha Owen forensic thriller is a great tale that grips the audience starting with the collapse of Brooke and never stops until the final confrontation.  Fast-paced with insight into forensics theory like Locard’s Exchange Principle interwoven into the exciting storyline, fans will relish this great entry as Sam proves she is the equal of Taylor Jackson (see Where All The Dead Lie) when it comes to strong nail-biting suspense.


Harriet Klausner

Not A Fire Exit-Christopher Finlan

October 27, 2012

Not A Fire Exit

Christopher Finlan

Milverstead Publishing, Nov 30 2009, $4.95

ISBN: 9780984284702


Five months ago, widow Beth Groves gave birth to Michele.  However, instead of a happy occasion, her baby was dying from Type One Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA).  At Philadelphia Hospital, Dr. Thomas Schad claims he can cure Michele.  Though Beth and her dad believe he is a con artist, she is desperate so she accepts his terms, but becomes horrified when he explains the procedure.  To save her daughter, he needs a little girl as the host; that other child will die.  He demonstrates on Michele with a temporary fix that gives the infant a short-term lift and leaves a cell phone message to “Go ahead.”


Three months after Dr. Schad offered Beth a deal, Michele who was hours from death is on the news with her miraculous recovery.  Jim Knox tells his wife Sarah, he knew Beth’s older sister in high school.  At Tyler Elementary, Sarah is part of a cupcake sale.  She prevents affluent Cal Nolan of Nolan Knockouts fame from stealing a cupcake for his son; but he makes her look like the villain.  Soon after her run-in with Nolan, Sarah’s life unravels leading to her receiving a cell phone message of two words: “Go ahead.”


The tone for this strong at times dark medical thriller is set by Hillary Dunlap Schmid in the Forward when she lovingly talks about her late baby Zane who died from SMA.  Character driven by the strong cast yet deeply thought-provoking, readers will wonder how far a parent goes to save the life of their child.  Christopher Finlan provides an uplifting tale filled with love and angst yet avoiding over-sentimental emoting. 


Harriet Klausner

Collared-L.A. Kornetsky

October 27, 2012


L.A. Kornetsky

Gallery, Nov 13 2012, $15.00

ISBN 9781451671643


In Seattle, Washington, Ginny Mallard struggles to make a success of her private concierge business.  Needing a new client to stay afloat and feed her puppy Georgie, she heads to her neighborhood bar Mary’s with hope that she can find a customer there.


At the pub, Ginny overheads realtor Walter Jacobs telling bartender Teddy Tonica that he is worried about his Uncle Joe, who vanished with some important business documents.  Ginny offers her services to find Uncle Joe and the papers; though doubtful about her abilities, Walter hires her.  Ginny persuades Teddy to help her as his people skills, honed by bartending, complements her research talent.  Also joining the human duet on the hunt for Uncle Joe are Mary’s Mouser Mistress Penny-Drops and Georgie.


The first Gin & Tonic amateur sleuth is an engaging missing person’s mystery with a delightful Seattle setting.  The lead quartet is a fun teaming as the humans argue much more than the cat and dog.  Fast-paced, readers will enjoy this engaging cozy.


Harriet Klausner

Stalked-Allison Brennan

October 26, 2012


Allison Brennan

Minotaur, Oct 30 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9781250005960


Lucy Kincaid is excited over finally being accepted to attend the FBI Academy.  Though she knows her work on crimes especially the Cinderella Strangler case (see Kiss Me, Kill Me) were a major reason she was accepted by the Feds, she hopes her résumé does not prove a distractor. 


In New York City someone murders true-crime writer Rosemary Weber.  The author’s last incomplete work was the Cinderella Strangler case.  FBI agent Suzanne Madeaux who worked that investigation tells Lucy of Weber’s murder.  Lucy’s FBI mentor Tony Presidio brings her onto the NYC case as he believes the Weber murder ties back to a cold case killing of a young girl over ten years ago.  Lucy’s boyfriend RCK East private investigator Sean Rogan helps her only a death in Quantico stuns the FBI as the killer is one of them.


The latest Lucy Kincaid investigative thriller (see If I Should Die) is a fast-paced taut suspense as deaths in Manhattan and in Quantico have everyone including readers shocked and on edge.  The fast-paced storyline grips the audience throughout as Lucy feels Stalked by a lethal adversary in what she thought was the safest place in the world.


Harriet Klausner

A Drop of Chinese Blood-James Church

October 25, 2012

A Drop of Chinese Blood

James Church

Minotaur, Nov 13 2012, $24.99

ISBN: 9780312550639


Near the North Koran and Russian borders, Ministry of State Security chief of the Yanji Sector/Special Bureau (YS/SB) Major Bing is a legend back in Beijing headquarters as he has remained in charge for seven years when the betting line had been under a year.  He knows his career is over as his success in the desolate region means he can never leave.  Currently he lives with his highly regarded uncle Inspector O (see The Man with the Baltic Stare) though their relationship is an odd respectful and affectionate discord.


Beautiful Fang Mei-lin arrives at their home seeking the assistance of Inspector O.  Almost immediately after she left their home, she crosses the Tumen River into North Korea.  Her pleading and subsequent vanishing force a hesitant Bing, accompanied by his even more reluctant uncle, to travel to North Korea in search of a missing Chinese official.


This is a terrific Inspector O spin off series that has the brilliant sleuth working with his nephew as the pair head into the older relative’s homeland.  The storyline is fast-paced with a fabulous dangerous inquiry enhanced by an exorbitant sense of deep rooted paranoia that permeates everyone in the region as even the Intel crowd know the criticality of adhering to Sergeant Shultz’s (Hogan’s Heroes) survival philosophy: “I see NOTHING! I know NOTHING!” 


Harriet Klausner

Deadly Deception-Marie Romero Cash

October 25, 2012

Deadly Deception

Marie Romero Cash

Camel, Nov 15 2012, $12.95

ISBN: 9781603818933


In 2001 in Santa Fe, a person screams at State Policeman Don Ilford for failing to hit the tree with his car correctly.  The individual fixes the scene so that investigators believe that Don’s wife Rose died in a car accident.  Ilford’s neighbor paramedic Roger Streeter arrives at the accident and notices anomalies, but is ignored.  Afterward, he wonders why Don told him his wife had leukemia while she denied it and why he exaggerates his injuries.  State Police Captain Jeff Whitney accepts Don’s story that he was rushing his wife to the hospital when he lost control and crashed though there is no skid marks.


In 2008, the police commissioner, under pressure from Rose’s influential family, orders Whitney to reopen the investigation, he does nothing.  One year later, forensic psychologist Jemimah Hodge is assigned to look into the cold case.  She asks Santa Fe County Sheriff Department Detective Rick Romero, head of the Cerillos satellite office, for help; explaining that Whitney is uncooperative.  He agrees though he knows working with her will be difficult as he is attracted to her though she keeps him at a distance. He is unaware of the trauma of her Mormon roots.  Whitney warns Rick to drop the inquiry, which he refuses even when someone tries to kill him and Jemimah.


The second Jemimah Hodge Santa Fe police procedural (see Shadows among the Ruins) is a superb investigative thriller that combines a strong mystery in spite of knowing the accident was murder and solid personal relationship issues (her Mormonism and his ex-con brother).  Though the Fed Sandra Gorman feels forced into the plot, readers will appreciate this entertaining whodunit wondering who lectures Ilford at his wife’s death scene.


Harriet Klausner

Trapped-April Christofferson

October 24, 2012


April Christofferson

Tor, Oct 30 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780765364753


Backcountry ranger Will McCarroll protects the wildlife of Yellowstone National Park from poachers, hunters and trappers.  He arrives at the Pebble Creek campsite where a drunk killed his friend.  Irate, Will takes away the guns from everyone at the campsite.  Superintendent Gonzales wants to fire Will for breaking rules as Congress passed a law allowing the carrying of weapons into the national parks, but recognizes Will is a hero who will soon testify in front of Congress.  Instead he exiles Will to Glacier National Park,


Leaving behind his girlfriend Yellowstone Magistrate Judge Annie Peacock, Will travels to Glacier, where he meets angry wolverine biologist Johnny Yellow Kidney; someone stole an olfactory concoction he created to trap animals.  Meanwhile illegal trappers continue their self-proclaimed Constitution given right while political connected radio talk show personality and former governor Faith Unsword sponsors a predator derby.  At the same time, the American Rifle Foundation sets a trap to kill Will before he testifies in Congress on the impact of weapons in the parks.


No one will doubt what side of the rifles in the park issue April Christofferson is on with this exciting vivid thriller.  Action-packed, fans will relish traveling the wild alongside of obstinate Will (see Alpha Female) as we appreciate the beauty of Montana’s “Crown of the Continent”.  Additionally, a great realistic coda of how politicians think happens with the placement of running the Department of the Interior someone who believes in unfettered hunting and trapping; ironically the agency’s mission statement is “Protecting America’s Great Outdoors and Powering Our Future.  The U.S. Department of the Interior protects America’s natural resources and heritage, honors our cultures and tribal communities, and supplies the energy to power our future.”


Harriet Klausner

Highball Exit-Phyllis Smallman

October 24, 2012

Highball Exit

Phyllis Smallman

TouchWood Editions, Oct 30 2012, $18.95

ISBN: 9781927129791


In Jacaranda, Florida thirtyish Sherri Travis worries that the bank will foreclose her Sunset Bar and Grill as she is three  months behind on her mortgage.  She cannot turn to her lover Clay who has lost his fortune when the housing market imploded. 


Aunt Kay tells Sherri that childhood friend Holly Mitchell committed suicide and that another buddy from the old days, police officer Danny Raines found the body but failed to identify the corpse as Hilly.  She offers Sherri three months of mortgage payment if the bartender finds out what happened to Holly’s baby Angel.  Sherri had no idea that Holly had a child through Aunt Kay insists she met the baby.  The bartender puts down the Jack Daniels visiting Raines who had an affair with Holly that he does not want his superiors to know abour.  She also learns Holly was an escort at Angel Escort Service.  With Aunt Kat as her sidekick, Sherri investigates what happened to Holly in order to track down a baby no one except Aunt Kay knew exists.


The latest Sherri Travis amateur sleuth (see Margarita Nights, Sex in a Sidecar, Brewski for the Old Man and Champagne for Buzzards) is an engaging whodunit in which the heroine begins to wonder whether saving her bar is worth the investigation into an infant who might not exist.  Aunt Kay’s antics add fun to the tale while the relationship with Clay seems shaky since he is on the road with his ex with him.  Fans will enjoy downing a fifth while touring the West Florida beaches with Travis as our guide.


Harriet Klausner