Archive for May, 2013

Confession-Richard Freis

May 23, 2013

Richard Freis
Sartoris Literary Group, May 7 2013, $19.95
ISBN: 9780988947412

As successful attorney George Burden reaches his double-5 birthday, he seems to have the perfect life with a wonderful caring family especially his adoring wife Julia and is a highly regarded member of upper class society in Jackson, Mississippi. However, George feels differently as he knows everything came too easily.

George does the unthinkable by leaving his safe zone to begin an affair with Becca Talbot, divorced mother of a five year old son who is also younger than his youngest child. When George falls in love with his paramour, he decides to obtain a divorce to marry his beloved. He is stunned when Becca refuses his proposal. Raging George goes berserk when he sees his Becca with a man her age and will do anything to make her his wife.

Taking place in under 100 hours, Confession is a taut psychological suspense starring a fascinating violent protagonist who tells his Confession by letter to a priest. Ironically as he confesses his sins (and readers learn his history from his perspective) George has everything except spiritual connections. Richard Freis provides a strong character-driven thriller; as George has achieved the four lower steps of Maslow’s Hierarchy, but fails at Self-Actualization and Self-Transcendence leading to his placing his (and his family) Physiological, Safety, Belongingness and Love, and Esteem at risk.

Harriet Klausner

The Barbed Crown-William Dietrich

May 22, 2013

The Barbed Crown
William Dietrich
Harper, May 7 2013. $26.99
ISBN: 9780062194077

Crossing to France on the Phantom, American adventurer Ethan Gage feels he owes his one-time employer Napoleon for nearly killing his wife Astiza and kidnapping their young son Harry (see The Emperor Storm). He plans to destroy Napoleon while his spouse schemes to prevent the little dictator from becoming crowned Emperor by using the Crucifixion Crown of Thorns.

When their effort fails to prevent the coronation, the married couple returns to England. Gage stops in Walmer Castle where he joins Sidney Smith, inventors Robert Fulton and William Congreve, and smuggler Tom Johnstone to keep Napoleon from invading England. This escapade soon leads Gage to the Battle of Trafalgar.

The latest Ethan Gage Napoleonic Era thriller (see The Barbary Pirates) is an exciting over the top of the Admiral Nelson Statue and column in Trafalgar Square (built decades after the famous battle). The storyline is fast-paced though the hero’s swashbuckling role seems diminished as he is less actively involved than usual with him on the sidelines for the most part during the coronation. Still fans will enjoy this engaging mix of history and action as The Barbed Crown is an enjoyable early nineteenth century tale.

Harriet Klausner

Kneading To Die-Liz Mugavero

May 18, 2013

Kneading To Die
Liz Mugavero
Kensington, May 7 2013, $7.99
ISBN: 9780758284785

When Warner Insurance downsized her public relations position, Kristan “Stan” Connor, accompanied by her significant other Nutty the Maine Coon cat, left West Hartford for a simpler life in Frog Ledge, Connecticut. While her boyfriend Richard wonders if she lost her mind by leaving the big city for Sleepy Hollow, Stan hears the neighbors brawl while she moves into her Victorian.

Stan likes her new neighbors; especially Char Mackey, homeopathic animal nurturer Amara Leonard and “Pet’s Last Chance” director Nikki Manning while they seem to welcome her and her special food that she makes for Nutty and soon the other town pets. Town veterinarian, Dr. Carole Morganwick visits Stan demanding she bring Nutty in as a patient before office hours. Though her stomach churns and her mind tells her not to, Stan and Nutty arrive for the early appointment only to find unpopular Morganwick buried dead in kibble. State trooper Jessica Pasquale and the locals look at the newcomer as the suspect when their pets become poisoned; so Stan seeks answers especially the source of what is harming the animals.

The first Pawsitively Organic Gourmet Pet Food amateur sleuth is an engaging whodunit with two mysteries for the heroine to resolve. Although the love of pets feels like a hammer used to frequently to even a cat and dog lover like me, readers will enjoy Stan’s investigative asides into the poisoning of pets and as a byproduct the vet’s homicide.

Harriet Klausner

Silent Voices-Ann Cleeves

May 18, 2013

Silent Voices
Ann Cleeves
Minotaur, May 7 2013. $24.99
ISBN: 9781250033581

Northumbrian Detective Inspector Vera Stanhope enters the sauna at the Willows Health Club in Newcastle only to be greeted by the corpse of social worker Jenny Lister. Someone strangled the victim. Stanhope and her team interrogate employees at the club and talk with residents of Lister’s village Barnard Bridge.

The prime suspect is temporary cleaner Danny Shaw though several other employees and villagers surface with motives for killing Lister. Heeding local gossip, Vera finds a connection between Jenny’s work with foster kids and adoptions, and the villagers; which obfuscates the case by increasing the list of potentials who is the killer.

Relocating from the Shetland Islands to Northumbria, Ann Cleeves provides readers with an enjoyable British police procedural (see The Crow Trap). The investigation is a fun mess that makes no sense yet is entertaining due to the crusty, at times irritating alcoholic heroine. Vera keeps the whodunit focused as she and her team works the homicide inquiry using unique listening devices, ears.

Harriet Klausner

The Night Detectives-Jon Talton

May 17, 2013

The Night Detectives
Jon Talton
Poisoned Pen, May 7 2013, $24.95
ISBN 9781464201325

In Phoenix, Arizona, Felix Smith visits the office of private investigators David Mapstone and Mike Peralta. The former historian and ex-deputy sheriff, and at one time sheriff notice how much the elegantly garbed Smith stands out in their dumpy office. He retains the partners with $10,000 in cash to look into the reported suicide of Grace Hunter.

In San Diego the retired hooker leaped from a nineteenth floor balcony to her death. Smith admits there is no evidence to the contrary to make a case for an accident or murder. The client leaves only to have his face blown up by an AK-47 in their parking lot. The two sleuths begin their inquiry in San Diego seeking Grace’s boyfriend Tim Lewis in Ocean Beach where Mapstone once lived. Tim says Scarlett, as Grace was called in America’s Finest City, is his girlfriend and mother of his child; unaware she is dead. He also admits that he and his Scarlett have deadly financial trouble with America’s Finest Pimp.

This tense David Mapstone mystery (see South Phoenix Rules) is an exciting whodunit that keeps the audience in suspense wondering what next. Although the bad guys are out of casting 101, readers will relish the two Night Detectives’ superb investigation.

Harriet Klausner

Night Terrors-Dennis Palumbo

May 17, 2013

Night Terrors
Dennis Palumbo
Poisoned Pen, May 7 2013, $24.95
ISBN 9781464201318

In Pittsburgh, the FBI quietly asks psychologist Dr. Daniel Rinaldi to help former FBI special agent Lyle Barnes deal with his experiences of hunting serial killers. Barnes was the best because he could get inside the heads of these predators, but now in retirement they get inside his head every time he tries to sleep. Adding to his Night Terrors is a serial killer targeting anyone involved in ending John Jessup’s homicidal reign; which includes Barnes who captured the psychopath and by extension Rinaldi may be on the murderer’s list.

At the same time, Wes Currim confesses to decapitating businessman Edward Meachem in Wheeling. Wes refuses to show the body unless the shrink who works with the Pittsburgh PD accompanies them. Thus at the request of Chief Block, Daniel arrives in nearby West Virginia as an obviously disturbed Wes takes him and WPD to the severed corpse. Wes’ mom Maggie believes her troubled son never killed the victim and pleads with Rinaldi to prove her contention while in Pittsburgh, the Jessup body count rises and Barnes vanishes from federal protective custody.

The third Daniel Rinaldi mystery (see Fever Dream and Mirror Image), is a fabulous police procedural as the protagonist struggles between patient confidentiality and law enforcement needs. Fast-paced throughout, readers will relish this twisting thriller as Wheeling and Pittsburgh keep Dr. Rinaldi and two police departments overworked trying to prevent further homicides.

Harriet Klausner


May 16, 2013

Jeff Carlson
47North, Jul 23 2013, $14.99
ISBN: 9781612183640

In 27,000 BC in what is now France, Nim leads his Neanderthal tribe as they tracked reindeer. However, he soon finds the Dead Man Cro-Magnon also hunting the reindeer. Nim knows the enemy has reach and size but his people have stamina. However, the magic of what happens in the sky tips the war towards the Dead Man.

In present day Los Angeles, biologist Emily Flint struggles with an auto accident, her upcoming wedding and an argument over the use of prenatal vaccine and existing conditions. However, also in California, Emily’s woes seem irrelevant when Marcus Wolsinger discovers an increasing level of solar flare activity not seen in several millenniums assaulting the earth. At the same time in the South China Sea, Naval Lieutenant Commander Drew Haldane flies his fighter jet to investigate a Chinese electromagnetic pulse weapon. As the world stands on the brink of total collapse into a new Ice Age, Marcus begins to lose control between being a modern man and a Neanderthal throw-back; while Emily’s eight year old autistic nephew P.J. suddenly becomes the Southern California Neanderthal leader.

Interrupt is an exhilarating end of the world thriller that takes a whack at science drawing absolute conclusions by filling Grand Canyon size theoretical gaps with speculation. The storyline is fast-paced though the transitions are not smooth. Still readers will enjoy the dawning of a (not so) new dominant species as survival of the fittest takes a strange twist in Jeff Carlson’s exciting Ice Age thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Yesterday’s Echo-Matt Coyle

May 16, 2013

Yesterday’s Echo
Matt Coyle
Oceanview, May 7, 2013
ISBN: 9781608090761

Eight years ago in Santa Barbara someone murdered Colleen Cahill. The media and the police suspected her husband Rick, a cop. Though never convicted of any crime, feeling guilty Rick was forced to leave the police as pariahs like him never receive back-up.

In the present, his wife’s homicide has become a cold case while Rick co-owns with Turk Muldoon’s Steak House in La Jolla. When Rick meets TV reporter Melody Malana, he believes he has a second chance until she is arrested for murder. Melody pleads with Rick to help her, but he knows he must say no. Instead, he tries to help her only to become once again the prime suspect in a murder with cops and others hunting him like a rabid dog.

Yesterday’s Echo is a terrific thriller starring a protagonist who understands first hand déjà vu. Rick’s options are surrender, die or find the killer as his ex-peers salivate with a second chance to destroy him; the woman he loves he distrusts; and clues lead him to people who wants secrets kept buried along with him. Readers will enjoy Rick’s investigation that also takes him back eight years.

Harriet Klausner

The Sound of One Hand Killing-Teresa Solana, translated by Peter Bush

May 15, 2013

The Sound of One Hand Killing
Teresa Solana, translated by Peter Bush
Bitter Lemon, May 7 2013, $14.95
ISBN 9781908524065

In Barcelona detective twins Eduard Martínez and Borja Masdéu return to their office only to find someone broke in and trashed the place. Heeding the advice of a friend, best-selling noir author Teresa Solana hires the siblings to investigate alternative therapies for a noir she plans to write while she stays in a vacant apartment upstairs.

Instead they find the apartment’s occupant Brian Morgan dead inside, but Borja’s Assyrian statue, the Lioness of Baghdad, he stashed there remains safe there. Although unaware that the corpse is CIA, the brothers sign up for various New Age classes. Only they find a director Dr. Horaci Bou murdered by a Buddha statue.

The third Borja and Eduard Barcelona satirical Noir (see A Shortcut to Paradise and A Not So Perfect Crime) continues to lampoon the sub-genre while this time also mocking New Age saviors. The enjoyable storyline rotates between the two homicides and Borja’s smuggling efforts. However it is the amusing skewing of con artists (especially believers who con themselves) preying on those struggling to find healing for even regular life ills in order to live as a norm in an abnormal land.

Harriet Klausner

Dead Wrong-Allen Wyler

May 14, 2013

Dead Wrong
Allen Wyler
Astor + Blue, May 1 2013, $12.99
ISBN: 9781938231179

As an antiterrorism tool, neurosurgeon Dr. Wyse experiments with transplanting brain tissue from one person to another so that information can be transferred. Confused Seattle resident Bobbie Baker learns the hard way when she panics over her missing baby while her husband Trent says they have no children. At Doctors Hospital also in Seattle, two OSD agents confront neurosurgeon Dr. Tom McCarthy over stealing top secret DARPA experimentation documents. Totally confused by the accusation, he escapes from the Feds.

The CIA want Tom captured or dead while SPD seeks him over the death of a male found in his office. Tom inadvertently drags Dr. Sarah Hamilton, who is treating Bobbie with the wrong medicine, into his mess as the pair eludes law enforcement while wondering why the deadly pursuit.

Dead Wrong is an adrenaline pumping medical thriller that hooks the reader with Bobbie’s belief she has a son that her spouse denies they have. Fast-paced, the gripping storyline focuses more on a cat and mouse chase rather than delving deep into the fascinating concept of brain matter and accompanying stored data transference. Still readers will relish Allen Wyler’s taut tale.

Harriet Klausner