Archive for May, 2013

You Cannoli Die Once-Shelley Costa

May 31, 2013

You Cannoli Die Once
Shelley Costa
Pocket, May 28 2013
ISBN: 9781476709352

Since 1937, the successful Miracolo family restaurant in Quaker Hills forty minutes north of Philadelphia has served Italian cuisine to hungry patrons. The current head chef Eve Angelotta and the current diva her septuagenarian Nonna Maria Pia Angelotta tend to argue a lot over marriage and producing future chefs.

On Monday, Eve finds her cousin Kayla’s lover lawyer Joe Beck in her garbage looking for his missing wedding ring after three nights of late banging. Tuesday tops Monday when Eve finds a corpse with his head bashed in the kitchen on top of a classic Caruso 78. The police inform Eve and her horde of relatives that the victim is Arlen Mather, Nonna’s boyfriend. When Nonna’s alibi collapses, the police arrest her for the murder. Eve and her cousins know Nonna is a feisty pain in the butt, but not a killer so they investigate Arlen’s “Night at the Opera”.

The first Angelotta culinary cozy is an amusing Philadelphia shtick amateur sleuth. The cousins’ inquiry is fun to follow especially Eve’s humorous asides though readers need a scorecard to keep track of who’s who amongst the family horde. Still fans will enjoy dining at Miracolo.

Harriet Klausner


Twilight Is Not Good For Maidens-Lou Allin

May 30, 2013

Twilight Is Not Good For Maidens
Lou Allin
Dundurn, May 25 2013, $17.99
ISBN: 9781459706019

In the middle of the night, as the Sooke Detachment will be delayed to get to a crime scene, RCMP Detachment Corporal Holly Martin goes to Vancouver Island’s French Beach where someone assaulted a young woman. Her job is to make sure no one is hurt and temporarily secure the location. Due to this being the off season and at night, Holly takes her mutt with her. Not long afterward in another isolated site a female is murdered and once again Holly heads there first.

Sooke takes over both cases. Meanwhile a female driver accuses Constable Chipper Singh, a Sikh, of sexual assault during a traffic stop; he is placed on administrative leave while an inquiry occurs. A third victim is raped; frightening and angering civilians as the cops fail to find the predator while Holly continues to seek clues.

The latest Holly Martin police procedural (see And On The Surface Die and She Felt No Pain) is a strong investigative thriller as a psychopath terrorizes Vancouver Island. The manhunt is fast-paced while the Singh subplot enhances the policing. With deftly interwoven references to literary figures (a personal favorite of mine) and insight into the protagonist’s family, fans will enjoy this taut thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Another Heaven- Annu Subramanian

May 28, 2013

Another Heaven
Annu Subramanian
Apprentice House, Mar 20 2013, $18.95
ISBN: 9781934074879

In 2009 the nineteen years old female suicide bomber blows up a train in the Seloor District of South India; killing many innocent people. In Ashville, Pennsylvania, Tina Matthew chats with her faculty advisor Dr. Katz about the horrific mass murders in India; as she is soon going to stay with her paternal Aunt Rita and Uncle Theo in Chennai, India while conducting research into the motives of terrorists for her thesis.

In India, religious fanatic Usman seeks desperate victims for his schemes. He easily finds them amongst the downtrodden trafficked and gives them meals, a bed, and a purpose to die for Allah as “the end of all means is the beginning”. Meanwhile Tina rides the train to Chennai, but a detour leaves her several hundred kilometers away in Seloor where Usman learns of the American.

This is a strong timely thriller that looks deeply into the motives of suicide bombers and the lethal Svengali who psychologically manipulates these traumatized impoverish giving them “hope” for a better future in Heaven. Putting aside the early coincidence of the protagonist ending up in Seloor, aptly titled Another Heaven is an exciting tale as Annu Subramanian provides a profound yet thrilling story that answers why.

Harriet Klausner

Cold Killing- Luke Delaney

May 28, 2013

Cold Killing
Luke Delaney
Morrow, May 21, 2013. $14.99
ISBN: 9780062219466

Sean Corrigan believes the best cop training he had was being a sexual abuse victim as a child. Now the lead Detective Inspector of one of the South London Murder Investigation Teams, Sean personally understands violence, which enables him to “see” much more than his peers or subordinates.

Detective Sergeant Dave Donnelly wakes him at three in the morning telling Sean that a young man Daniel Graydon was viciously beaten and stabbed to death in his flat. Initial reaction is a domestic dispute occurred between a gay couple; but murder scene anomalies including a lack of forensic evidence and Sean’s gut say otherwise. Soon Sean looks deeply at financier James Hellier as the suspect while more homicides occur with diverse M.O.s; as the case increasingly disturbs the DI who believes the serial killer keeps him going the wrong way.

The first Corrigan British police procedural is a taut whodunit that grips the reader from the opening murder. Corrigan is a refreshing protagonist as he uses his traumatic childhood to solve cases but also fears his demons will lead him to abuse his children. Although the climax is weak especially after the super strong investigation leading fans there; readers will relish getting inside the head of the troubled DI as he looks into a Cold Killing.

Harriet Klausner

The Altarpiece-Sarah Kennedy

May 27, 2013

The Altarpiece
Sarah Kennedy
Knox Robinson Publishing, Mar 6 2013, $27.99
ISBN: 9781908483478

In 1535 King Henry VIII sends soldiers to enforce the schism between England and Rome. His agents viciously destroy priories, churches and most remnants of the Catholic Church as the Church of England with the monarch as the Supreme Head has become the official religion of the kingdom. Priests, nuns and monks are tossed brutally onto the streets.

Lord Robert Overton arrives at the Priory of Mount Grace in Havenston, Yorkshire to claim his new property gifted to him by the king. However, he delays kicking the religious occupants out of their home when his younger brother William becomes seriously ill. Instead he orders a nun Catherine Havens the healer to save his sibling’s life. When William recovers, he and Catherine search for the missing valuable altarpiece that vanished at the same time as the siblings arrived at the priory; the prime suspects are the healer and her best friend Ann. Catherine and her former patient also investigate strange deaths that may be related to the Altarpiece.

The first Cross and the Crown Tudor thriller provides a deep look at the deaths, destruction and disarray caused by the shutting down of the Roman Church and the creation of the Church of England. The key cast is solid especially Catherine who faces moral dilemmas as she must choose between her past and an uncertain future. The leisurely-paced storyline enables the reader to believe we are there as Sarah Kennedy provides a wonderful spotlight on an age of deadly confusion.

Harriet Klausner

Angel Baby-Richard Lange

May 26, 2013

Angel Baby
Richard Lange
Mulholland/Little Brown, May 14 2013, $26.00
ISBN: 9780316219822

In Tijuana, the first time Lutz tried to escape from her violent husband Mexican drug lord Rolando “El Principe”; her dog Pepito paid the price as he viciously stomped to death the toy poodle in front of her. Heartbroken but not totally helpless, Luz knows she must do a much better job with her next attempt. Thus she takes her time working out a plan until she executes it by killing two of his troops and taking his safe’s money.

Raging Rolando liberates American “El Apache” from a Mexican prison. He orders him to locate his wife in the States and to bring her back to him; failure or refusal are unacceptable as El Principe threatens to kill the man’s wife and child. El Apache knows this is no idle threat so he goes to California seeking Luz who in turn searches for her four years old daughter Isabel whom she left behind in the Los Angeles area.

Angel Baby is a taut thriller as a brutal killer forces a felon to go after his missing wife; fans will shudder at what the psychopath will do if he catches his spouse and what he will do if he does not in This Wicked World of his. Character driven, readers will enjoy this tense tale as increasingly it seems an innocent(s) will be maimed or killed.

Harriet Klausner

Oscar Wilde and the Murders at Reading Gaol-Gyles Brandreth

May 25, 2013

Oscar Wilde and the Murders at Reading Gaol
Gyles Brandreth
Touchstone, May 14 2013, $16.00
ISBN 9781439153758

In 1895 London, Mr. Justice Wills sentences noted playwright Oscar Wilde to two years of hard labor for gross indecency with young men. While forty year old Oscar head to jail, his wife and two kids flee England and the scandal for the continent, and the production of the Importance of being Earnest continues on stage.

His time in Wandsworth Prison is physically and mentally hell; made worse by his wife’s forgiveness visit and the knowledge that he is financially broke. Just before his transfer to Reading Gaol, Warder Braddle comes to his cell in a rage, blaming him for his diseased body just before he dies. In Reading Gaol, Wilde learns of another Warder dying violently. Soon afterward others die so the Governor asks Wilde to look into the Murders at Reading Gaol.

The latest late Oscar Wilde Victorian mystery (see Oscar Wilde and the Vampire Murders, and Oscar Wilde and the Vatican Murders) may be the best in the series, but not because of the clever whodunit. Instead Gyles Brandreth provides a deep look into the two years of Wilde’s torturous incarceration and a powerful condemnation of the British gaol in the last decade of the nineteenth century. Wilde’s murder inquiry is terrific but it is the jailhouse that rocks.

Harriet Klausner

Afloat-Erin Healy

May 24, 2013

Erin Healy
Thomas Nelson, May 7 2013, $15.99
ISBN: 9781401685522

Architect Vance Nolan designed Eagle’s Talon as condos afloat on a peninsula jutting into the Rondeau River. Developer Tony Dean made Nolan’s dream reality. Now the construction is almost finished and some of the residences are occupied.

Vance senses something wrong but the usual suspects seem okay until he realizes no longer is there any bird sounds. A sinkhole has begun to form; made worse by horrific storms and subsequently flooding. The survivors huddle in one building arguing over what to do. Nolan says to wait for help to arrive while Dean says leave before it is too late. Single mom Danielle Clement wants to keep her son Simeon safe so insists they remain together.

Afloat is an exciting thriller that grips the audience once the key cast each provides their opening perspective as the trapped people struggle to survive against nature and each other. Although the rotating viewpoint slows down the pace, readers will enjoy Erin Healy’s enjoyable disaster tale that would make an engaging Irwin Allen-type movie.

Harriet Klausner

Indivisible? The Story of the Second American Civil War-Paul Martin Midden

May 23, 2013

Indivisible? The Story of the Second American Civil War
Paul Martin Midden
Wittmann Blair Publishing, May 7, 2013, $18.99
ISBN: 9780985922320

In 1861 Abraham Bellamy dedicated his life to the Confederate cause. In 1865 after his side lost, a despondent Abraham proved his dedication by suicide.

In the present, Abraham’s descendent Abner Bellamy believes the federal government is a sham tramping on the rights of the states. His mission is to resurrect his ancestor’s dream of for the people being not one size fits all but 50 diverse ways and has begun to find powerful supporters who agree with his assertion the government is too powerful. Though their motives differ from Abner as avarice is their driver, wealthy George and David Blinder join the cause. Fundamentalist Daniel Keenan also enlists as he knows the atheist DC government has destroyed religious and family values. Other also throw their lot in with the Sovereign Citizens group whose mission is de-evolution or if need be revolution.

CIA agent Max Grabel and contract workers (and lovers) Marie LeBrun and Samantha Stranger uncover a viable conspiracy to overthrow the United States government and return it to pre-Civil War states domination. Evidence implies this threat unlike previous ones has money, arms, and a wide range of influence. They must identify the diverse cabal of enemies of the USA before it is too late for the Union.

This is an exciting thriller that extrapolates the rage many have against the federal government turning into action to tear down DC. Although a sequel is set up that will disappoint fans wanting a final confrontation, readers will enjoy this fast-paced tale while trying to identify who’s who.

Harriet Klausne

Seduction-M.J. Rose

May 23, 2013

M.J. Rose
Atria, May 7 2013, $24.00
ISBN: 9781451621501

Emotional fragile, mythologist Jac L’Etoile was fourteen when she met fellow teen patient Theo Gaspard at the Blixter Rath Clinic and though neither knew the other’s surname they were attracted to one another. Now a grieving widower, he explains he read her book and found an intriguing 1855 letter that discusses Druid activity. Theo invites her to join him on Isle of Jersey to find a Hugo missing journal describing his contacts with the Shadow of the Sepulcher; his conversations with Jesus and other notables having been published.

Fascinated by Hugo’s efforts to contact his deceased teenage daughter and seeing Theo for the first time in years at his home front, Jac decides to go over the warnings of her therapist. On Jersey, the intrepid but troubled pair begins to unravel the mystery of Victor Hugo and the Shadow of the Sepulcher, but will either mentally survive solving this paranormal case.

The second Jac L’Etoile mythological thriller (see The Book of Lost Fragrances) is an exhilarating tale that rotates between the mid-nineteenth century and the present. Fast-paced in both eras, danger mounts then and now as evil stalks the past and the contemporary human seekers.

Harriet Klausner