Archive for April, 2013

Island 731-Jeremy Robinson

April 10, 2013

Island 731
Jeremy Robinson
Dunne, Mar 26 2013, $25.99
ISBN 9780312617875

The Magellan research ship is studying the Pacific’s Garbage Patch when oceanographer Avril Joliet finds a dead previously unknown humongous turtle. The forensic evidence points towards a human experiment in which the loggerhead’s stomach was twice the size of normal.

Soon afterward, a storm destroys the Magellan. Two die, but the rest of the crew makes it to a nearby uncharted island though none know how they came here and one member remains missing. They conduct a search of the island only to meet the inhabitants, who attack the newcomers with rage. Joliet and crew member Mark Hawkins, a former park ranger who knows how to live in the wild, take charge of survival and finding answers to these hybrid abominations with proof that this remote tropical paradise was once Japanese Unit 731 in WWII.

Island 731 is an exhilarating thriller that grips the audience from the moment the heroine meets the gigantic dead turtle and never slows down. With a nod to H.G. Wells’ The Island Of Dr. Moreau, readers will relish this terrific thriller as the crew learns the true meaning of survival of the fittest.

Harriet Klausner

The Black Stiletto: Stars and Stripes-Raymond Benson

April 10, 2013

The Black Stiletto: Stars and Stripes
Raymond Benson
Oceanview, Apr 2 2013, $25.95
ISBN 9781608090723

Martin Talbot has read two of his mother Judy Cooper’s over five decades old diaries (see The Black Stiletto: Black and White), but struggles with who she insists she was. He cannot question her because Judy suffers from advanced Alzheimer’s, but as he begins her third journal, the depth of the entries affirms his mom was the vigilante superhero the Black Stiletto. Talbot wonders whether he should tell his new girlfriend at the same time his daughter Gina proves more a chip off Judy’s block than him as she lands in trouble.

In 1960 New York’s Chinatown, local ruthless Tong hoods kill the father of Judy’s friend teenager teen Billy Shen Lee. Idealist Judy volunteers as a “Kennedy Girl” to help the elect JFK presidential campaign. As the Black Stiletto dodges NYPD, she takes on the Tong and a Cuban-Soviet spy ring planning to assassinate JFK.

The third super Black Stiletto thriller is a great tale as 1960 (through the diary) comes across as if Judy wrote her entries at the end of the Eisenhower Administration. The present segues add depth as Martin struggles with his life (as his ex remarries) while admiring his mom’s daring deeds. However, this is clearly the Black Stiletto’s story with her journal providing an insightful look at racism in 1960 Manhattan and the effect of the Cold War in NYC and on the presidential race.

Harriet Klausner

Outrageous October-Barbara Levenson

April 9, 2013

Outrageous October
Barbara Levenson
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, Feb 11 2013, $11.99
ISBN: 9781480093669

Residents of High Pines, Vermont are shocked with the news that local socialite widow Carolyn Broussard was found dead in her home. The police are investigating the death as there are some anomalies with the victim’s son Tom as the prime suspect.

One year later, Mary Katz is a criminal defense attorney after being fired by her fiancé Franklin Fieldstone when he caught her and developer Carlos having sex in the office. After successfully handling a case involving her lover’s cousin, Mary and her BFF Lucy go out to eat only to find Carlos dining with his ex-wife Margarita. After Mary ends her engagement to Carlos, Lucy insists she get away; she suggests the lawyer and Sam her dog use her summer home in High Pines. In Vermont, Mary realizes she entered the wrong home when she sees a ton of mail addressed to Brousseau. She investigates the unsolved murder of Carolyn, which leads Mary meeting village attorney Dash Mellman, who persuades her to help his client in a tree dispute that turns deadly. At the same time Mary finds out that Dartmouth student Sherry, the daughter of Florida client Lillian Yarmouth, has been kidnapped and held for ransom.

The latest Mary Magruder Katz legal thriller (see Fatal February and Justice In June) is an engaging tale as the protagonist proves that The Green Mountain State is as crazy as the Sunshine State. Filled with action, fans will enjoy Mary’s New England adventure as a cold case murder, a warm case homicide and a potential killing case converge on the lawyer who can’t get away from her criminal defense attorney vocation or for that matter romance.

Harriet Klausner

A Study In Revenge-Kieran Shields

April 9, 2013

A Study In Revenge
Kieran Shields
Crown, Jan 8 2013, $25.00
ISBN: 9780307985767

In 1893 in Portland, Maine Police Deputy Marshal Archie Lean follows the ashen footprints into the house until he finds the burned corpse of Frankie “The Foot” Cosgrove sitting in a chair. On the outside door written with ash and blood is a face with words “Hell Awaits” above it. Lean saw the victim buried a couple days earlier without any burns. At the gravesite, the empty coffin looks like it was busted from inside.

Lean asks hybrid Abenaki-Caucasian criminalist Perceval Grey to assist him in solving the strange homicide. Grey agrees to help although he already promised dying wealthy tycoon Horace Webster to locate his missing granddaughter Maddy. The rest of the Webster family has no interest in locating a missing heir except for her sister Phebe; instead the Webster clan prefers Grey focus on finding a missing heirloom. The deeper the two men dig into the cases, increasingly they believe them connected.

The second Lean-Grey collaboration (see Truth of All Things) is a great historical police procedural that once again enables armchair readers to believe they are in late nineteenth century Portland and to a lesser degree Boston anchored by real persona like Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. Action-packed, the taut storyline is an enjoyable fast-paced read as the two detectives will remind readers of a different Holmes partnership as they work to find the missing link.

Harriet Klausner

April 8, 2013

The Bedlam Detective
Stephen Gallagher
Broadway/Crown, Feb 5 2013, $15.99
ISBN: 9780307406651

In 1912 logically he knows he could have done nothing to prevent the lynching he witnessed in America. However unable to move on from that troubling incident Sebastian Becker quit Pinkerton to return home to London; accompanied by his wife Elisabeth, their disturbed genius son Robert and his unmarried sister-in-law. He works for the Ministry of Lunacy as a special investigator.

His current assignment is to determine the sanity of Sir Owain Lancaster who recently came home from the Amazon where his family and team died in what the man said in his book “The Empire of Beasts” was an attack by monsters who followed him to England to finish the job. Becker arrives by a delayed train due to a wax misconception in Arnmouth while a hunt for two missing girls occurs. When their mutilated bodies are found, most locals including Detective Stephen Reed believe insane Sir Owain killed the children; while the accused insists his Amazonian beasts murdered them. Becker joins the inquiry.

The Bedlam Detective is an exciting Edwardian Era mystery that focuses on a small village where denial is the norm as the locals prefer either Sir Oswain to be insane or an outsider committed the atrocities. The keys to this strong historical are the cast including the title character, his family and the villagers are fully developed and a powerful look at mental health in 1905 as psychopathic beasts roam freely amidst the populace.

Harriet Klausner

The Kill Room-Jeffrey Deaver

April 8, 2013

The Kill Room
Jeffrey Deaver
Grand Central, Jun 4, 2013, $28.00
ISBN: 9781455517060

In the Bahamas, a sniper kills American citizen Roberto Moreno who has been a major critic of the States in what appears is a sanctioned government assassination by the National Intelligence and Operations Service (NIOS) director Shreve Metzger issuing a Special Task Order. An investigative panel looks into the implications of the murder of this anti-government American on foreign soil. The team includes wheelchair bound forensics expert Lincoln Rhyme and his partner Amelia Sachs.

Rhyme goes to the murder scene seeking the sniper and to look over firsthand the evidence; while Sachs remains in Manhattan to look at what the victim did while in New York and the use of STOs by the NIOS (and other agencies that raise moral questions about the killing of an American by the government. Several other people work the case from the methodical erasing of all related evidence; with one person going the extra kilometer by eradicating witnesses and moving Rhyme and Sachs to the top of his elimination to do list.

The latest Rhyme-Sachs investigative thriller (see The Burning Wire and The Broken Window) is a great relevant entry with debates in DC over whether killing a U.S. citizen on foreign soil is acceptable as part of the war against terrorists. The gripping storyline is filled with action leading to readers anticipating the final confrontation between an amoral killing patriot and the forensic duet after the trio competed in a lethal intelligent contest throughout the super plot.

Harriet Klausner

If You Were Here-Alafair Burke

April 6, 2013

If You Were Here
Alafair Burke
Harper, Jun 4 2013, $25.99
ISBN 9780062208354

High school star baseball player Nicky Cervantes supplements his mom’s income by stealing cell phones. When he takes an IPhone from a woman, she kicks off her shoes and pursues him. Instead of out running her, the female gains ground on Nicky until she catches him. He stumbles onto the tracks with a train coming. The woman grabs him and tosses him back on the platform; picks up her phone and runs away. Another rider catches the whole incident on a cellphone. The media goes crazy trying to identify Superwoman, but though the video is grainy, NYC Magazine writer McKenna Jordan believes she is her friend West Point alumni Susan Hauptmann; who died a decade ago.

As the reporter searches for the woman she thinks is Susan; she also recalls the other terrible incident just prior to Hauptmann vanishing. When McKenna was a Manhattan ADA probing a cop shooting of a teenager, she concluded the victim was unarmed. Her accusation led to her career dying. When her copy of the Superwoman video is stolen from her computer, McKenna expands her search for Hauptmann to also relook at the case that exiled her from the legal system as this reminds her of what happened back then as once gain she risks her career and this time her marriage.

If You Were here is an exciting investigative thriller that grips readers from the onset. Fast-paced, the key to the entertaining storyline is Hauptmann and Jordan come across as real though some of the protagonist’s decisions seem plausible but dangerously foolish. Readers will enjoy this super thriller wondering what happened to cause Hauptmann to disappear and whether Jordan reaches too far in seeking the truth.

Harriet Klausner

The Truth Of All Things-Kieran Shields

April 5, 2013

The Truth Of All Things
Kieran Shields
Broadway/Crown, Feb 5 2013, $15.00
ISBN: 9780307720290

In 1892 Portland, Maine, someone mutilates and murders prostitute Maggie Keene in what looks like a ritual killing as the corpse contains clues about witches in the Abenaki language. Deputy Marshal Archie Lean enlists the help of Dr. Virgil Steig who turns to his former student hybrid Abenaki-Caucasian Pinkerton criminalist Perceval Grey to assist law enforcement in solving the homicide.

With further insight from library assistant researcher Helen Prescott, Lean and Grey soon connect the brutal killing to the past: the seventeenth century Salem witch-hunt and two decades ago fire and deaths. More murders as brutal as that of Keene follow with Grey applying the new forensic science concepts to the crime scene.

This is a fabulous historical police procedural that enables armchair readers to believe they are in late nineteenth century Portland due to the vivid early descriptions of single (Grey and Prescott) and family (Lean) life in that era; though at times the abundance of detail slows down the pacing. The Salem Trials come across as frighteningly macabre yet intriguing; adding depth to a strong investigative collaborative whodunit.

Harriet Klausner

Evidence Of Life-Barbara Taylor Sissel

April 5, 2013

Evidence Of Life
Barbara Taylor Sissel
Mira, Mar 26 2013, $14.95
ISBN: 9780778315162

In Texas Hill country, Nick Bennett and his daughter Lindsay leave on a weekend camping trip while his wife Abby and their son Jake stay home. Abby looks forward to alone time; while Jake studies for his finals.

A frightened Lindsay calls from a gas station bathroom telling her mom that her dad was acting strange as they took the scenic route, but the connection ends. Concerned Abby watches the Weather Channel reporting that the Guadalupe River and smaller waterways were flooding at historic levels leaving road conditions extremely hazardous. When her two loved ones fail to surface over the next few months, everyone including her mom and her BFF Kate sympathizes with Abby who refuses to believe they drowned. As she diligently searches for her spouse and child while her family and friends plead with her to accept the truth that they died, Abby begins uncovering damaging evidence about Nick that makes her fear she and Jake are in peril.

Evidence Of Life is a leisurely-paced, taut family drama starring a woman who initially seems unhinged by the lack of closure as she refuses to give up her quest even as she uncovers clues that shake her equilibrium further. Fans will enjoy this suspenseful thriller while wondering what Abby will find; if anything, conclusive.

Harriet Klausner

‘Til Death-Sharon Sala

April 4, 2013

‘Til Death
Sharon Sala
Mira, Mar 26 2013, $7.99
ISBN: 9780778314271

Two decades ago, Lincoln Fox was convicted of the arson that killed his father. During his trial and for the next twenty years, Linc swore the government incarcerated the wrong person. He vowed to one day come home to Rebel Ridge, Kentucky to investigate and identify who destroyed his life.

A near fatal accident sends Linc to his Appalachia hometown in search of the truth. When a blizzard leads to Meg Walker crashing her car, Linc comes to her aid. He realizes that he still loves his high school girlfriend and remembers she always believed he did not set that fire. However, those behind what happened then prefer the truth remain buried; so to insure nothing changes, they abduct Meg and dump her high on the frozen mountains to die.

The final tale in the Walker sisters’ Rebel Ridge trilogy (see Next of Kin and Don’t Cry For Me) starts slow as the players are introduced, but accelerates into a fabulous fast-paced romantic suspense. Readers root for Linc and Meg to make it together; but understand any vows of love may be short as ‘Til Death do us part could be any moment in a “Town Without Pity” (directed by Gottfried Reinhardt).

Harriet Klausner