Archive for January, 2013

All Natural Murder-Staci McLaughlin

January 27, 2013

All Natural Murder
Staci McLaughlin
Kensington, Feb 5 2013, $$7.99
ISBN: 9780758275011

Ex-Silicon Valley copywriting hot shot, Dana Lewis enjoys life as a marketing expert and all around laborer cleaning cabins and duckling herding at the O’Connell Organic Farm and Spa; Dana also loves quality time with her boyfriend Jason who is reporter for the Blossom Valley Herald. The only two negatives on her serenity are her drama queen sister Ashlee and the creative food Zennia gets from “Torture Cuisines R Us” that she serves to crash dummies like Dana.

When someone murders Monster Truck driver Bobby Joe Jones, the cops question his girlfriend Ashlee; as her Facebook entry and witnesses at the Fairgrounds heard her say she will kill him for cheating on her; her responses increase the belief she killed the victim. Though she prefers to stay out of a homicide investigation, Dana knows how it feels being the prime suspect (see Going Organic Can Kill You). Additionally, her mom and sister badger her so over personal objections, Dana investigates the murder seeking a motive that has nothing to do with Ashlee’s out of control superego.

This Blossom Valley mystery is an entertaining whodunit as the heroine finds her inquiry places her in danger while Ashlee flits and flirts her way through life. Although a critical cleaning coincidence that feels unlikely occurs, the amateur sleuth audience will enjoy Dana’s quirky friends and family encouraging her to step into the pig sty and challenge Monster Trucks.

Harriet Klausner

Shadowkiller-Wendy Corsi Staub

January 25, 2013

Shadowkiller
Wendy Corsi Staub
Harper, Jan 29 2013, $7.99
ISBN: 9780062070326

In Glenhaven Park, New York Allison and Mack MacKenna feel as if the nightmares are over. She finally has moved passed her encounter a decade ago with the Nightwatcher and him with being a potential serial killer as a Sleepwalker. Instead they enjoy suburban Westchester County while raising their children. In fact she muses her biggest issue is to finish the novel before her book club meeting in three hours.

However, neither is aware of a murder on Saint Antony Island in the Caribbean that will haunt them as Allison’s dark childhood past comes home to roost. A raging someone brutally ripped the face off a Jane Doe victim with the only clue a faded photo. This vicious killer deploys plans to remind Allison of their shared past; which returns NYPD Detective Rocky Manzillo into the Mackenna family.

The latest MacKenna-Manzillo tale (see Sleepwalker and Nightwatcher) is a taut twisting thriller that grips the audience from the opening suspense in the Caribbean until the final stunning confrontation. Action-packed, readers will relish this tense climax to an exciting trilogy although the finish is over the top of Bailey Mountain.

Harriet Klausner

Reunion at Red Paint Bay-George Harrar

January 21, 2013

Reunion at Red Paint Bay
George Harrar
Other Press, Jan 29 2013, $14.95
http://www.otherpress.com
ISBN 9781590515457

In Red Paint, native son Simon Howe owns and edits the Red Paint Register. As they go out to dinner leaving their son Davy alone for the first time, his wife Amy teases him about the newspaper, which carries stories from UFO sightings to terrorist landings to town hall meetings; the residents enjoy the fiction over the news.

However, Simon’s idyllic life becomes disturbed when he begins receiving postcards from someone slowly coming to Red Paint. This unknown person seems to know Simon and accuses him of wrong doing at a graduation party in which the editor was so intoxicated he barely remembers anything. Simon remains unsure who has targeted him except that the culprit apparently is a former local seeking revenge against Simon. After seeing a psychologist, using the name Paul Chambers and believing God sent him on an eye for an eye mission, the postcard writer comes to Red Paint, Maine.

The suspense grips the audience from the arrival of the ignored first postcard and never slows down as readers anticipate a final showdown between Paul and Simon at Red Paint. Part of the tautness is the contrast between the obsessively driven Paul and the serene “Friendliest Town in Maine” especially Simon’s family. The series of confrontations escalates the tension; however the key players act seemingly out of character (though one could argue under pressure changes people from their norm). Still readers will appreciate the Reunion at Red Paint Bay of Paul and Simon.

Harriet Klausner

Speaking from Among the Bones-Alan Bradley

January 20, 2013

Speaking from Among the Bones
Alan Bradley
Delacorte, Jan 29 2013, $24.00
ISBN: 9780385344036

In 1951 in Bishop’s Lacey, Great Britain, church officials are excited with the opening of the tomb of Saint Tancred on the five-hundredth anniversary of his death. However, no one is as enthused with the excavation as tweener amateur sleuth Flavia De Luce the home grown chemist. She has solved murder mysteries (see I Am Half-Sick of Shadows) but not the mysteries of her older sisters or the enigma of her mother.

The Vicar and other adults fail to keep the curious Flavia away. As she sneaks closer to the crypt, Flavia stumbles over the body of the current church organist Mr. Collicutt. Complicating her inquiry is Adam Sowerby, who insists they team up on the Collicutt investigation as Flavia works alone.

The latest fabulous Flavia 1950s amateur sleuth (see A Red Herring Without Mustard, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie and The Weed That Strings the Hangman’s Bag) is a superb locked crypt whodunit. Flavia is her usual precocious self as she relishes chemistry, dead bodies and irritating her siblings. Fans will enjoy this exciting historical village cozy as Flavia works the murder mystery, deals with a “partner” and makes progress on her mom’s mystery.

Harriet Klausner

Speaking from Among the Bones-Alan Bradley

January 20, 2013

Speaking from Among the Bones
Alan Bradley
Delacorte, Jan 29 2013, $24.00
ISBN: 9780385344036

In 1951 in Bishop’s Lacey, Great Britain, church officials are excited with the opening of the tomb of Saint Tancred on the five-hundredth anniversary of his death. However, no one is as enthused with the excavation as tweener amateur sleuth Flavia De Luce the home grown chemist. She has solved murder mysteries (see I Am Half-Sick of Shadows) but not the mysteries of her older sisters or the enigma of her mother.

The Vicar and other adults fail to keep the curious Flavia away. As she sneaks closer to the crypt, Flavia stumbles over the body of the current church organist Mr. Collicutt. Complicating her inquiry is Adam Sowerby, who insists they team up on the Collicutt investigation as Flavia works alone.

The latest fabulous Flavia 1950s amateur sleuth (see A Red Herring Without Mustard, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie and The Weed That Strings the Hangman’s Bag) is a superb locked crypt whodunit. Flavia is her usual precocious self as she relishes chemistry, dead bodies and irritating her siblings. Fans will enjoy this exciting historical village cozy as Flavia works the murder mystery, deals with a “partner” and makes progress on her mom’s mystery.

Harriet Klausner

The Boogie Trapp-Kerry Copeland Smith

January 17, 2013

The Boogie Trapp
Kerry Copeland Smith
The Peppertree Press, Oct 31 2012, $29.95
http://www.peppertreepublishing.com
ISBN: 9781614931126

In May 2008; after seeing the black cat with a red collar and a red Corvette, septuagenarian Kerry Copeland Smith thinks back to his childhood when he was called Boogie, short for Boogieman due to all the 6s in his birth. He expected the Shreveport letter that arrived from his childhood late best friend Charles Edward Trapp’s sister Jean; inside is a sealed envelope that Trapper gave to his wife Marlene who had her sister-in-law forward to Boogie; reminding him of his promise to Trapper six decades ago. Boogie knows the time has arrived for him to get off his butt and begin writing what happened to a pair of young teens in 1949 at the Black Creek coal mining town in Alabama.

The thirteen year old friends were having fun when they run afoul of a dangerous predator. Boogie and Trapper fear they will be next as someone has killed and will insure no witnesses live. Instead of kisses with his item Darlene, Boogie (and Trapper) realizes they are in trouble with no one not even the Sheriff or their parents able to help them.

The Boogie Trapp is an exciting historical adolescent suspense with sprinkles of BFF humor. The teen Deliverance storyline brings alive the bygone era of Alabama coal camp towns while juxtaposing with contemporary Florida retirement. However, the keys besides capturing the vivid essence of rural (ironically only 20 miles from Birmingham but years before the superhighway system) Alabama are the cast as Kerry Copeland Smith captures the essence of two teens in over their respective heads (run is their mantra).

Harriet Klausner

Tiger by the Tail-John Ringo and Ryan Sears

January 10, 2013

Tiger by the Tail
John Ringo and Ryan Sears
Baen, Jan 1 2013, $25.00
ISBN: 9781451638561

Ex-Navy SEAL turned Caucasus Mountains Kildar warlord Mike Harmon decides he and his Keldara followers deserve R&R after their efforts in the war against terrorism. However, instead of returning to their home in the former Soviet republic Georgia, he leads his team of Keldara and other retired SEALs like Charles Adams against pirates off Pulau Manghai Island near the Malaysian Peninsular, thousands of miles from their mountainous land.

The mission proves successful especially with the enigmatic find of an unlabeled box containing nuclear reactor computer chips. Harmon knows there is no way these pirates should possess these chips so he tortures information out of pirate Captain Yeung Tony to learn how he obtained them and who his customer(s) and destination are. With leads, Harmon, his SEALs and the Keldara follow a lethal trail leading to Myanmar.

The latest Paladin of Shadows tale (see Ghost, Kildar, Choosers of the Slain, Unto the Breach and A Deeper Blue) is an exciting entry that starts off with plenty of action, but decelerates in the middle before stepping on the gas. The banter and camaraderie between the reoccurring cast is fun to follow while newcomers like teenager Vanel Kulcyanov feel like they came out of the generic Keldara typecasting. Still fans will enjoy this Southeast Asia thriller.

Harriet Klausner

The Wrath of Angels-John Connolly

January 3, 2013

The Wrath of Angels
John Connolly
Atria/Emily Bestler Books, Jan 1 2013, $26.00
ISBN: 9781476703022

Retired Maine Forest Service Ranger Harlan Vetters knows that very soon he will join his late wife Angeline. Before he dies, he summons his son and daughter to tell them the tale of the crashed airplane he and his deceased buddy Paul Scollay found in the nearby Great Northern Woods. No one reported the plane missing and the best friends found no bodies in the wreckage or in the vicinity.

However, the plane contains a list that many people covet; names of those who made a Faustian deal with the devil. Marielle Vetters and Ernie Scollay mention the plane that the forest tried to swallow to private detective Charlie Parker who believes he is on this roster of the damned. Hired by Ernie, Parker plans to find the damnation document before others like a scarred female killer; the perpetual tweener who recalls all the details of his death; and the serial killing Kushiel Collector, etc. They and others race into the Great Northern Woods searching for this lost plane with some wanting to use the list to strike at the human quislings and others especially the named needing it destroyed; unaware that the primeval forest and the malevolence that survived the crash passionately look forward to greeting visitors.

The latest Charlie Parker paranormal private investigative thriller (see The Burning Soul) is a great convoluted tale due to the dark foreboding atmosphere that engulfs everyone who enters the woods. Fast-paced from the moment Harlan tells his story to his adult children and never slows down; hooked readers will wonder what next as John Connolly writes a taut twisting suspense.

Harriet Klausner