Archive for April, 2013

Chihuahua Confidential-Waverly Curtis

April 15, 2013

Chihuahua Confidential
Waverly Curtis
Kensington, Apr 2 2013, $7.99
ISBN: 9780758274960

Partners Geri Sullivan and Pepe the Chihuahua she rescued from the local pound drive from their home in Seattle to Hollywood as contestants on Dancing With the Dogs. Geri, used to Pepe never shutting up, listens to her canine friend tell her about his time living in Southern California as a pampered pet of starlet Caprice Kennedy.

Pepe expects to win the dance contest if Geri can keep up with his steps. However, when they go on stage, they are greeted by one of the three judges being dead. A second corpse follows and several canines vanish. While the Washingtonian duo dances together, they also investigate the murders and dognapping.

The latest Barking Detective mystery (see Dial C For Chihuahua) is a lighthearted engaging whodunit as the reality show humor provides a fun counterbalance to the homicides and canine abductions. Readers will appreciate Pepe’s antics as he seems to have a nose for trouble that match paw to hand to the stratospheric levels of tsuris attained by Geri’s boss, private investigator Jimmy G.

Harriet Klausner

Sleight of Hand-Phillip Margolin

April 15, 2013

Sleight of Hand
Phillip Margolin
Harper, Apr 9 2013, $26.99
ISBN: 9780062069917

A decade ago, millionaire Horace Blair met and fell in love with Carrie when she was a Commonwealth ADA prosecuting his DUI trial. Much older than her, he persuaded her to marry him, but also sign a prenup in which she would receive twenty million dollars if she never cheated in the first ten years of their marriage. One week prior to her fulfilling the terms of their agreement, Carrie vanishes. The police arrests Horace charging him with murdering his wife to avoid paying her the money. He hires defense attorney Charles Benedict to defend him in court.

Private investigator Dana Cutler returns to Virginia after failing to find an Ottoman Empire stolen gold scepter on the other side of the country. The former cop becomes involved in the Blair case and begins to find contrary evidence that the wrong person is on trial for a Capitol Murder. However, attempts on her life affirm her belief that a magician is getting away with a Sleight of the Hand.

The latest Cutler investigative thriller (see Supreme Justice and Executive Privilege) is an exciting mystery as the sleuth confronts a diabolical brilliant adversary. Fast-paced and filled with suspense, readers who can ignore the villain’s seemingly superhuman skills to get away with murder and grand theft will enjoy this taut tale.

Harriet Klausner

Fear In The Sunlight-Nicola Upson

April 15, 2013

Fear In The Sunlight
Nicola Upson
Harper, Apr 9 2013, $14.99
ISBN: 9780062195432

In 1954 Scotland Yard’s Archie Penrose learns that someone confessed to the murders of three women during the filming of Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window in California. That same person also admitted to killing three people two decades earlier in Portmeirion, Wales.

In the summer of 1936, mystery writer Josephine Tey celebrates her fortieth birthday with friends at a resort in Portmeirion, Wales. Movie director Alfred Hitchcock films the gala while wanting the rights to her novel A Shilling for Candles that his wife Alma gave to him to read as a possible adaption to the big screen. The renowned director also plans to deploy experiments in how people negatively react to the belief they caused someone else’s death. While many of the Tey party believe Hitchcock is a pest, someone brutally slashes to death an actress at a cemetery. Hitchcock has gotten what he wished for as long time friends look at each suspecting one another is the killer. Scotland Yard Chief Inspector David Penrose becomes involved in the investigation.

The latest Tey-Penrose “Golden Age” historical British mystery (see Two for Sorrow, An Expert In Murder and Angel with Two Faces) is a tense whodunit based on the real encounter between Tey and Hitchcock in Wales over filming her novel. Although a cast that Cecile B. DeMille would relish slows down the storyline, fans will appreciate this psychological suspense as the joyous birthday bash turns from a happy occasion into a fearful one.

Harriet Klausner

The Frozen Shroud-Martin Edwards

April 14, 2013

The Frozen Shroud
Martin Edwards
Poisoned Pen, Apr 2 2013, $24.95
ISBN 9781464201073

Five years ago in Ravenbank, England, someone viciously murdered Katya Moss on Halloween with a shroud used as a frozen cover to conceal her battered face. The homicide eerily reminds locals of the Faceless Woman brutal murder in the exact same way on Halloween just prior to the start of WWI because her ghost allegedly haunts Ravenbank. Criminologist Daniel Kind finds the eerie similarities too macabrely fascinating to ignore; so he begins to look into the murders almost a century apart.

Meanwhile Cumbria cold case Detective Chief Inspector Hannah Scarlett must deal with austerity that cuts her office’s budget cuts to a level in which she must reduce her workforce as salary is the major expense. When a third killing identical to the two cold cases Kind investigates happens, Scarlett opens up an inquiry into those murders with the criminologist assisting her and her unit.

The latest Lake District police procedural (see The Serpent Pool and The Hanging Wood) is a strong entry that grips the audience from the opening murder and never loosens its hold until the final denouement. Fast-paced, the romance between the DCI and the criminologist for the most part simmers on the back burner as the murder investigation takes center stage throughout in this super whodunit(s).

Harriet Klausner

Parrots Prove Deadly-Clea Simon

April 14, 2013

Parrots Prove Deadly
Clea Simon
Poisoned Pen, Apr 2 2013, $24.95
ISBN 9781464201042

In Beauville, to the shock of no one working at the LiveWell retirement complex as she was very ill, octogenarian Polly Larkin dies in her Room 203. Polly’s fiftyish daughter Jane asks pet guru Pru Marlowe to retrain Polly’s roommate, foul-mouth African grey parrot Randolph Jones.

However, Pru listens to Randolph’s mimicry and concludes the parrot is repeating Polly’s last words. The psychic animal expert further thinks Randolph witnessed a murder instead of the natural death that staff Dr. Wachtell insists happened and that someone wants the parrot silenced forever. Pru and her animal team (Wallis, Buster, Frank and Growler) investigate what each believes was the murder of an elderly woman.

The third Pru Marlowe Pet Noir (see Dogs Don’t Lie and Cats Can’t Shoot) is an enjoyable psychic mystery as the heroine “talks to the animals” in order to seek their guidance on solving the case. Though the whodunit solution seems obvious in spite of several viable suspects, fans will appreciate this fun anthropomorphic investigation.

Harriet Klausner

Braking Points-Tammy Kaehler

April 14, 2013

Braking Points
Tammy Kaehler
Poisoned Pen, Apr 2 2013, $24.95
ISBN 9781464200991

At the Road America event in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, racing car driver Kate Reilly tries to pass Miles Hanson on the oval, but he refuses to allow her so she bumps his vehicle. The NASCAR officials call the crash a racing incident in which both drivers are at fault. Miles ends up at a nearby hospital and off the track for a few months while he heals from his injuries.

Irate Miles is a fan favorite with a huge following. At the same time while his supporters demand she at least be banned until his return, “Racings Ringer” constantly assaults the allegedly violent Kate in his blog. Kate fears for her safety as the vitriol gets worse and a hit and run attempt almost succeeds. Still she heads to the next stop to Petit Le Mans in Georgia while wondering whether pit reporter Felix Simon, who loathes females on the track, is the culprit until he becomes a murder victim and the war against Calamity Kate intensifies with the murder of her friend Ellie Prescott who once was engaged to Kate’s current boyfriend Stuart Telarday.

The second Kate Reilly mystery (see Dead Man’s Switch) is a fabulously fast spin around the track as some sports fanatics quickly turn psychotic (mindful of the murder of Columbian soccer player Andres Escobar in 1994) although that also leads to an overly abundance of suspects. Still readers will enjoy this entertaining sports whodunit.

Harriet Klausner

Blood, Ash, and Bone-Tina Whittle

April 13, 2013

Blood, Ash, and Bone
Tina Whittle
Poisoned Pen, Mar 5 2013, $24.95
ISBN 9781464200939

Her former cheating boyfriend John Wilde arrives at Tai Randolph’s Atlanta gun shop. He says he married her former best friend Hope last month, but she left him last week taking an artifact with her that he wants back. Further explaining, he says they run a pawn shop in Jacksonville where they found inside a roll-top desk a bible signed and dated by Lincoln to Sherman. John hires Tai who charges him 15% rather than the usual 10% finder’s fee.

Tai and her boyfriend security expert Trey Seaver deliver authentic Civil War items to the participants at the Southeastern Civil War Expo reenactment in Savannah. They also search for Hope and the missing King James Bible, but soon learn the hard way rabid rivals seek the same valuable artifact and much more at any cost to competitors.

The third Tai Randolph finder mystery (see The Dangerous Edge of Things and Darker than Any Shadow) is an exciting twisting thriller as the feisty but foolhardy heroine and her brave but deliberate partner end up in one perilous mess after another. Separately they could end up as cannon fodder, but together they make a powerful team. Readers will relish this terrific entry while, like Tai, compare reserved Trey to passionate John.

Harriet Klausner

Some Like It Hot-K.J. Larsen

April 13, 2013

Some Like It Hot
K.J. Larsen
Poisoned Pen, Mar 5 2013, $24.95
ISBN 9781464200984

Billy Bonham opens up a detective agency in Bridgeport. His training consists of watching Bogart play hardboiled sleuths. Bartender and murder witness Cristina McTigue becomes Billy’s first client; on her part because of a brain tumor and his part because she is a Mary Astor-like femme fatale. She employs him to find stolen diamond earrings that Marilyn Monroe wore on Some Like It Hot.

Chicago-based Pants on Fire private investigator Cat DeLuca gets Santa garbed Billy out of a jam. However that night Cat’s brother informs her that someone murdered her first boyfriend Billy. Cat claims to have been Billy’s partner to uncover the identity of the killer. She quickly learns the history of the diamonds while eluding bullets and searching for a killer and the gems with help from the posse and Mama’s Cannoli.

The latest Cat DeLuca Mystery (see Liar, Liar and Sticks And Stones) is a fun farcical thriller. Fast-paced with some macabre graveyard humor, fans who enjoy a lighthearted over the top of the Willis Tower detective tale will enjoy Cat’s zany escapades as she learns “Diamonds are a girl’s best friend” except instead of men, gems grow cold when you are dead.

Harriet Klausner

Double Play-Jen Estes

April 13, 2013

Double Play
Jen Estes
Camel, Apr 1 2013, $15.95
ISBN: 9781603819411

The Buffalo Soldiers make the postseason playoffs. Team reporter Catriona McDaniel is euphoric the team has a good chance of winning it all. She also loves her live-in boyfriend Professor Benji Levy even if he prefers comic books to baseball.

Her older charming half-brother Quinn McDaniel arrives in town to his sister’s chagrin. Benji likes the charming Quinn while ignoring Cat’s warning consternation. Following a gala at a steakhouse to celebrate making the playoffs that Quinn crashed; he, Benji and several players come to Cat’s home to play cards. Several beers late, star pitcher Ryan Brokaw falls off the balcony and breaks his non-throwing arm; ending the dreams of winning the World Series. As BPD Detective Khan and the team investigate the incident, the city blames Cat while the roguish Teflon Quinn once again escapes culpability.

The third Foul Cat McDaniel sports cozy is an engaging look at the convergence of money and baseball as Quinn’s arrival sets in motion a game ending Double Play for the beleaguered Cat, the most hated person in Buffalo. Though less baseball action than in the first two innings of the series (see Curveball and Big Leagues), fans will enjoy Cat’s family reunion as her seemingly bright long career in baseball appears to have hit into a game ending called strike three.

Harriet Klausner

That Old Flame of Mine-J.J. Cook

April 10, 2013

That Old Flame of Mine
J.J. Cook
Berkley Prime Crime, Apr 2 2013, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425252048

Stella Griffin left the Chicago Fire Department after catching her now ex-boyfriend cheating to become the fire chief of the Sweet Pepper, Tennessee volunteer fire department. Before she reaches town, Deputy Chum pulls her over for speeding on her motorcycle. When she removes her helmet, he looks like he is having a seizure as he calls her Abigail and flees the scene.

Tory Lambert welcomes Stella to town by giving her a file on her husband’s alleged accidental death by fire that she and others believe that pepper plant owner Ben Carson arranged so that people will not fear a killing arsonist amongst them while the annual Sweet Pepper Festival occurs. The next day the firefighters put out a blaze in Tory’s house. Stella and police officer John Trump later find Tory’s dead body inside with the fire chief believing the arson covered a homicide. When she is injured in a biking incident, she meets the grandfather she never knew existed before, Ben. As she investigates Tory’s death, Stella receives help from her predecessor Eric Gamlyn, who died in the line of duty before she came to town.

The first Sweet Pepper Fire Brigade mystery is a Great Smokey Mountains whodunit starring a tough dedicated woman and a town where everybody knows everyone personally, yet many of the locals (including her kin) keeps dark secrets. Fast-paced from the moment Chum sees Stella, fans will enjoy this entertaining paranormal investigative thriller as the protagonist with her ghostly advisor works the case that involves her family.

Harriet Klausner