Archive for December, 2012

The Dead Shall Not Rest-Tessa Harris

December 31, 2012

The Dead Shall Not Rest
Tessa Harris
Kensington, Dec 24, 2012, $15.00
ISBN: 9780758266996

In 1782 at the Oxfordshire annual spring fair, Lady Lydia Farrell asks her betrothed American Dr. Thomas Silkstone to examine attraction eight-foot-tall Charles “Irish Giant” Byrne. The anatomist concludes that Byrne is dying. Not wanting to be a dissected freak in death especially after learning that unscrupulous Dr. John Hunter plans on grave robbers snatching his body, Byrne arranges his burial at sea; Thomas vows to insure the man’s wishes are met.

In London, someone removed the larynx from Signor Cappelli after murdering the castrato. Because of his unsavory grave-robbing reputation and the surgical precision, Hunter becomes the prime suspect though he swears he is innocent. His rival Silkstone believes the anatomist is innocent so in spite of his preference to see the amoral doctor sent to the gallows, he investigates the homicide.

The second Dr. Thomas Silkstone mystery (see The Anatomist’s Apprentice) is an outstanding late nineteenth century whodunit. The investigation is top rate with clever clues and anchored by a strong sense of time and place; for instance Byrne and Hunter were real persona and grave-robbing was a thriving occupation as the opening transaction depicts. The Dead Shall Not Rest is a fabulous historical investigative thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Fear Collector-Gregg Olsen

December 26, 2012

Fear Collector
Gregg Olsen
Kensington, Dec 24 2012, $7.99
ISBN: 9780786020461

“Fear Collector.” Ted Bundy rots in hell, but his vile legacy macabrely lives on in the minds of his victims’ loved ones. Grace Alexander grew up in the shrine of her vanished older sister Tricia as her parents never let go of the belief she was a Bundy dead. They assigned her a life mission as a baby to learn what happened to Tricia. She joined the Tacoma police department and married a Fed. Currently Grace and her TPD partner Paul Bateman investigate several missing girls who physically look very similar to each other. They find the corpse one of the vanished females, but also find the older remains of a person nearby who may have been a Bundy murder. Peggy Howell passed her version of the Bundy legacy to her son Jeremy: his life mission is to surpass the body count of her beloved hero.

“The Bone Box.” Tommy Freeland sends a note to his cousin Kitsap County, Washington forensic psychologist Dr. Birdie Waterman. Two decades as a teen, her testimony helped convict him of murder. She visits him at prison where he swears he is innocent. Tommy begs his cousin to investigate. Birdie finds the townsfolk resent her while some fear she will uncover hidden secrets.

Filled with a strong obsessed cast of survivors and an insane groupie, and terrific twists, the Fear Collector is a taut suspenseful thriller that focuses on two interpretations of the Bundy legacy, which makes the rotating storyline feel like a fast-paced true crime tale. Though a late spin seems over the top of Mount Rainier, The Bone Box is an enjoyable cold case short story starring a haunted heroine who learns the truth about telling the truth.

Harriet Klausner

The Sound of Broken Glass-Deborah Crombie

December 25, 2012

The Sound of Broken Glass
Deborah Crombie
Morrow, Feb 19 2013, $25.99
ISBN 9780061990632

Scotland Yard Superintendent Duncan and DCI Gemma James Kincaid plan a weekend of fun with their foster child Kit and their two younger children. They enjoyed Friday night Pizza, but Saturday morning, Gemma’s subordinate DS Melody Talbot informs her they have a homicide in which a naked bound man is found at the Belvedere in Crystal Palace. While Duncan watches the kids, Gemma leads the investigation.

The victim is highly regarded barrister Vincent Arnott, who while tied up was strangled to death in this dive of a hotel. Not long afterward, the corpse of a second barrister, murdered in the same manner is found. Besides the M.O., other evidence points to the same killer. Gemma and Melody soon link these homicides to a lethal encounter between two lonely people, a young male teen and a grieving widow teacher, fifteen year ago in Crystal Palace.

The latest James and Kincaid British police procedural (see No Mark Upon Her, Necessary As Blood and Kiss A Sad Goodbye) is a super entry as flashbacks interweave deftly with the present day investigation. The police inquiry engages the reader as Gemma and Melody take the lead in that subplot; while the marital relationship and the kids show the caring gentler sides of the Kincaid couple. Series fans will enjoy this fine whodunit.

Harriet Klausner

Miss Dimple Suspects-Mignon F. Ballard

December 24, 2012

Miss Dimple Suspects
Mignon F. Ballard
Minotaur, Jan 22 2013, $24.99
ISBN 9781250009678

During WWII in Georgia, first grade student Peggy Ashcroft vanishes in the nearby woods. The townsfolk conduct a search for the missing child. Peggy’s teacher at Elderberry Grammar School Miss Dimple Kilpatrick joins the hunt, but takes a solo path. She finds Peggy but the child is too exhausted to travel far. Max the dog arrives and escorts the teacher and her student to the nearby farmhouse of reclusive Mae Martha Hawthorne and the artist’s companion Suzu “Suzy” Amaya, who provide shelter to both females.

Several days later, someone murders Mae and steals her increasingly valuable paintings; Suzy is missing though she frighteningly contacts Miss Dimple as she fears mob anti-Japanese fever before vanishing in the middle of her call. She proves right when the locals fervently believe Suzy killed Mae Martha due to her Japanese roots. Not one to embrace ignorant racism, Miss Dimple, assisted by teachers Virginia and Charlie, search for Suzy and the art while a killer stalks the trio.

The latest Miss Dimple Mystery (see Miss Dimple Disappears and see Miss Dimple Rallies to the Cause) is a fun twisting WWII cozy that focuses on the home-front Japanophobia as much as the trio’s inept investigation. Although the support cast seems too stereotyped, readers will appreciate Miss Dimple Suspects the paintings are the motive.

Harriet Klausner

Blood Money-James Grippando

December 21, 2012

Blood Money

James Grippando

Harper, Jan 8 2013, $26.99

ISBN: 9780062109842

 

Miami defense attorney Jack Swyteck defends notorious nightclub waitress Sydney Bennett from the charge of murdering her two-year-old daughter Emma whose remains were found near the Everglades.  The public overwhelmingly convicted Sydney of the homicide of her child.

 

When the verdict from the Vero Beach jury is not guilty, disbelief and anger overwhelm a stunned nation.  Many hold Jack in contempt for getting the murdering mom off the hook.  He receives threats and other forms of harassment while the media go on an ugly feeding frenzy.  Near the jail where the acquitted Sydney is about to leave, a mob attacks college student Celeste Laramore, a Bennett look-alike leaving her comatose.  The victims’ irate parents blame the media especially BNN, who misidentified Celeste as Sydney on TV.  They turn to Swyteck to represent them as they sue BNN who accuse the Bennett defense team of going after Hollywood and publishing Blood Money.  As they and their loved ones are threatened, Jack and his crew begin to uncover a shocking truth behind the Blood Money.

 

Partly based on the Casey Anthony case, Blood Money is an action-packed legal thriller that spins in a shocking direction just after the early verdict.  The latest Swyteck case (see Afraid of the Dark) grips the audience throughout as the trial aftermath proves dangerous to the lawyer and anyone close to him.  Series fans will enjoy this entry as James Grippando condemns the media for seeking ratings over the truth.

 

Harriet Klausner

Illegally Iced-Jessica Beck

December 20, 2012

Illegally Iced

Jessica Beck

Minotaur, Dec 24 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9781250001078

 

In April Springs, North Carolina, friends Donut Hearts owner Suzanne Hart and town blacksmith James Settle are arguing.  However, soon afterward someone stabs and kills James while the sun was up out in the open.  Another shop owner Gabby Williams tells the police that she saw Suzanne fighting with James just before he died. 

 

Police Chief Martin leads the investigation though he believes Suzanne is not the killer though many townsfolk do.  Knowing her reputation and business are on the line, Suzanne and her BFF Grace Gauge begin their own inquiry especially wondering why no witnesses in a daylight public stabbing had come forth.  They soon learn the victim was a wealthy heir and had issues with his ex-girlfriend.

 

The latest Donut Shop Mystery is an engaging amateur sleuth as the intrepid dynamic duo investigates who murdered their friend.  This time suspicion rotates back to Suzanne who shared the prime suspect role in Killer Crullers and had the lead in Fatally Frosted; Grace was the suspect in Powdered Peril; the heroine’s mom Dorothy in Drop Dead Chocolate; and ex-husband Max in Sinister Sprinkles.  Readers will enjoy this entertaining regional culinary cozy as Suzanne knows it is her turn for her neighbors to wonder and gossip about whether she killed the blacksmith.

 

Harriet Klausner

Take The Trophy & Run-Gail Sattler

December 20, 2012

Take The Trophy & Run

Gail Sattler

B&H, Nov 1 2012, $14.99

www.BHPublishingGroup.com

ISBN: 9781433677298

 

In Bloomfield, BFFs crafts shop owner Amber Weathersby and mechanic Stan Wilson belong to the Bloomfield Garden Club though the former knows she is pathetic when it comes to growing things and expects to lose her membership even with his help.  Her expertise is with creating crafts out of her store and arranging the Spring Fling Early Bloomer display in the winner’s garden.  As she does annually, she uses her gnome Gnorman to hold the trophy as the centerpiece in the winning garden.  This year Gnorman wears Stan’s sombrero as an added touch in Becky’s garden.

 

Before Amber can receive the accolades due her for her wonderful arrangement, someone gnome-naps Gnorman and the trophy.  Amber and Stan track the elusive Gnorman but the clues they follow seem crazy; almost as insane as the awareness of the deep attraction each of the two amateur sleuths feel for the other.  As they continue their odd pursuit, Gnorman the gnome plays matchmaker between two BFFs in love.

 

Take The Trophy & Run is an enjoyable romantic comedic cozy starring two engaging protagonists supported by his mom Kathy and several other Bloomfield Garden Club members, and of course the elusive Gnorman (picture the gnome in a tux).  Fast-paced fun, fans will appreciate this jocular whodunit as the detectives find love in Bloomfield.

 

Harriet Klausner

Easter Bunny Murder-Leslie Meier

December 17, 2012

Easter Bunny Murder

Leslie Meier

Kensington, Jan 29 2013, $25.00

ISBN 9780758229359

 

 

Residents of Tinker’s Cove, Maine, enjoy the annual Easter egg hunt hosted by elderly Vivian Van Vorst at her Pine Point.  Pennysaver reporter Lucy Stones loves to cover the fun event for the paper.  However, when Lucy and other townsfolk arrive at Pine Point, they are shocked by the closed gates as no one can remember when the estate was not open for the gala.  Before anyone can decide what to do next, as concern for the hostess rises; the Easter Bunny rushes out of the mansion staggering erratically towards the gates.  To the horror of the witnesses especially the children he collapses before reaching it. 

 

The Easter Bunny, VV’s grandson and heir Duff, dies before reaching the hospital.  Lucy wonders if Duff was a murder victim or just died because his time ran out.  She increasingly considers the death a homicide when she learns that VV recently became a recluse; as the vivacious town matriarch has always been outgoing.  Though the cause has not been determined, Lucy thinks the only motive seems to be money as Diff was the heir.

 

The latest Lucy Stone mystery (see Chocolate Covered Murder and The Christmas Thief in A Winter Wonderland anthology) is an entertaining cozy.  The heroine investigates though admits to herself Duff may have died of natural causes but the journalist remains vigilant in her inquiry as she knows her friend VV has been acting differently.  The enjoyable storyline is fast-paced with a solid twist that turns the Easter Bunny Murder into an engaging family affair.

 

Harriet Klausner

The Silence of the Llamas-Anne Canadeo

December 10, 2012

The Silence of the Llamas

Anne Canadeo

Gallery, Jan 22 2013, $15.00

ISBN: 9781451644791

 

Married a few years, Bostonians Ellie and Ben Krueger leave successful careers to open up the Laughing Llama Farm just outside a New England coastal village, Plum Harbor. They host a grand opening fiber festival to introduce their llamas to their neighbors.  However, someone maliciously attacks the llamas with a paintball gun.  Black Sheep Knitting Shop assistant Phoebe Myers sees the effect on the llamas and brings help, but not before Buttercup suffers a head trauma and seizure.  The Krueger tenant Dot takes charge with washing the paint off the llamas as they were becoming sick from the toxin on their skin. 

 

Ben blames reclusive nutcase Justin Ridley, who expects the newcomers to flip the property to developers once the legal date to sell occurs.  Black Sheep Knitting Shop owner Maggie Messina suspects Angelica Rossi, as the vandal since the owner of the alpaca fiber Sweet Meadow Farm has been spreading negative rumors about llama fiber.  The culprit stabs to death sweet llama Daphne followed by the homicide of Ridley.  As the Black Sheep knitters investigate the murders, the killer remains hidden in plain sight like a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

 

The latest Black Sheep Knitting Mystery (see Till Death Do Us Purl) is an enjoyable amateur sleuth mystery with the members investigating because of the friendship between Dana and Ellie (reunited thanks to Facebook); the other Knitters welcome the newcomer as a kindred spirit.  The storyline is fast-paced from the first assault until the final confrontation with two fabulous twists while also providing insight into fiber spinning.  Although the knitters’ reason to make inquiries remains soft in spite of the friendship and love of animals, fans will appreciate The Silence of the Llamas.

 

Harriet Klausner

The Lawyer’s Lawyer-James Sheehan

December 7, 2012

The Lawyer’s Lawyer

James Sheehan

Center Street, Jan 8 2013, $22.99

ISBN: 9781455508662

 

In 1993, University of North Central Florida at Oakville student Stacey Kincaid claims a man tried to kill her.  She works with local and county detectives especially Danni Jansen of OPD and the FBI to draw a sketch of her attacker.  Soon afterward the police arrest Thomas Felton.  Not long after that Felton is convicted as a serial killer who eight years later sits on death row awaiting execution once his appeals end for murders he swears he did not commit. 

 

To defend him, Felton supporters turn to retired Miami trial attorney Jack Tobin because the latter is considered the “lawyer’s lawyer” by the best of the profession when they need legal representation.  He looks into the case and finds odd anomalies that make him wonder if Felton is a fall guy.  Tobin decides to leave Bass Creek to represent Felton in court.  However, Robin is unprepared for the brouhaha of rage against him by the jurisprudence system as if justice is an inconvenience.  The citizens of Oakville threaten him and even his soul mate condemns him though she has a personal interest in this case; while the lawyer’s lawyer soon finds he needs a lawyer.

 

The latest Jack Tobin legal thriller (see The Mayor of Lexington Avenue and The Law of Second Chances) is a great tale filled with stunning twists in and out of courtroom.  The storyline is fast-paced from start to finish, but it is the cast who make this a winner as many of those in law enforcement and the legal system are angered with Tobin for mounting a competent defense when almost all of them prefer the State execute Felton.

 

Harriet Klausner