Archive for May, 2013

Not By Sight-Kathy Herman

May 14, 2013

Not By Sight
Kathy Herman
David C. Cook, May 1 2013, $14.99
ISBN: 9780781408042

In Arkansas, Jimmy Dale Oldham goes out hunting as a sign of passage though he loathes killing anything. However, a bearded older man tells the lad he shot and killed a person. The man tells Jimmy Dale to go home while he cleans up the mess.

Five years have passed without a word since the Cummings patriarch Micah and their youngest daughter Riley Jo vanished; leaving behind his wife Kate and three other children. Kate runs the Flutter’s Café though she has given up hope of her spouse and child coming home and like her kids suffers from a lack of closure. Her oldest child sixteen year old Abby sees a girl who looks like Riley Jo. She takes a picture of the girl just before a bearded man hustles her away. Abby tries to convince her mom with the cellphone picture, but Kate rejects the premise that Riley Jo lives nearby. With her BFF Jay, Abby makes inquiries but soon someone threatens the pair to back off or else.

The first powerful Ozark Mountain inspirational tale is a terrific tense thriller that readers will relish as the incomparable Kathy Herman combines a family tragedy with survivors who gave up on their “unkind God” for abandoning them. Action-packed with a fabulous twist, fans will enjoy Not by Sight as the Cummings brood lost their faith, but Abby, with a foxhole mentality of praying for divine help, refuses to give up on finding her sister and her Daddy.

Harriet Klausner

The Fallen Angels Book Club

May 13, 2013

The Fallen Angels Book Club
R. Franklin James
Camel Press, May 1 2013, $14.95
ISBN: 9781603819176

In the San Francisco Bay area, the Fallen Angels Book Club meets at the San Lucian Library. To become a member, a person must be a “book lover” and a “white-collar ex-felon”. Hollis Morgan hosts this month’s event on World at Midnight. She meets the requirement as she served half of her three years sentence in prison for insurance fraud; a crime her ex-husband Bill committed but he cut a deal with the DA that sent his ex-wife behind bars.

Hollis’ lawyer Clay Boone arranges a meeting for her with the court to pardon her so she can return to law school. Instead, San Lucien police detectives Faber and Lincoln question her about the murder of club member Rory Norris following a book club meeting with the M.O. right out of the World at Midnight (the killer in the novel being a cop). Other killings follow that emulate books. Because of coffee after meetings and no more with the first victim, the cops look at Hollis as the suspect. This time Hollis refuses to sit idly by while the cops (or the DA) use her as the fall gal to close the homicide. Instead she investigates the murder.

The first Fallen Angels Book Club amateur sleuth is an engaging whodunit due to a refreshing protagonist who refuses to be a victim though she knows she could be next on the killer’s list. Fast-paced, readers will enjoy Hollis’ investigation as she has two advantages over the cops: she read the books and she knows she is innocent; though she also knows the latter does not matter to the justice system that is measured by convictions.

Harriet Klausner

The Body in the Piazza-Katherine Hall Page

May 13, 2013

The Body in the Piazza
Katherine Hall Page
Morrow, Apr 30 2013, $24.99
ISBN: 9780062065506

Aleford, Massachusetts caterer Faith Fairchild and her husband Reverend Thomas Fairchild head to Tuscany to celebrate their wedding anniversary with her friend Francesca Rossi at her Cucina Della Rossi cooking school. Faith’s former assistant in New York Francesca met Thomas and saw her mentor when the couple honeymooned in Italy.

In Rome, British travel writer Freddy Ives charms the Fairchild’s. Intoxicated by the city, Faith and Tom stroll hand in hand the streets when in horror they observe a man stab to death Freddy. The vesting American couple wants to solve the homicide, but instead go on to Tuscany as Francesca awaits their arrival. Several people they saw in Rome appear in Tuscany while someone sabotages Francesca’s new dining endeavors. Faith plans to resolve all mysteries including learning the secret recipe for Nona Rossi’s incredible sauce.

The latest Faith Fairchild amateur sleuth (see The Body in the Boudoir) is a fabulous entry as Tuscany and Rome provide fresh locations while also giving long-time fans a glimpse into the heroine’s salad days. Filled with action and mouthwatering delights (cover should include a dieter’s warning label), readers will enjoy this strong culinary investigation.

Harriet Klausner

State of Emergency-Marc Cameron

May 12, 2013

State of Emergency
Marc Cameron
Pinnacle, Apr 30 2013, $9.99
ISBN: 9780786031801

Someone viciously murders agents, Russian Mikhail Polzin and American Riley Cooper in Uzbekistan. In Seattle, college student Taylor Bancroft dies at a hospital from radiation poisoning that she carried inside her when she agreed in Helsinki to deliver drugs back to the States to make some easy money. Less than two minutes apart, bombs explode almost simultaneously at the Embarcadero BART station in San Francisco and at Vikebsk Station in St. Petersburg, Russia; both sites leave many dead and panic of terrorism goes stratospheric. Espionage agencies fear that a cold killer has control of the dreaded mythical Baba Yoga which means cold war nuclear bombs are next.

Air Force OSI agent Jericho Quinn and his unit search for the sinister genius who has gained control of at least two nukes; their mission is to eliminate the threat by retrieving the bombs and killing the adversaries. Aleksandra the Russian operative joins the team who end up in South America where as part of his mission, Quinn rides in the 6,000 mile Dakar Rally motorcycle race.

The latest Jericho Quinn thriller (see Act of Terror and National Security) is an exhilarating over the top of Nevado Sajama tale as time is running out even before the hero, his squad and the Russian begin countermeasures. Fast-paced, readers will enjoy Quinn’s sprint to prevent a calamity from two ice-cold terrorists who early on watch the sunset together while Cooper slowly dies at their feet.

Harriet Klausner

The Jericho Deception-Jeffrey Small

May 10, 2013

The Jericho Deception
Jeffrey Small
West Hills Press, Apr 30 2013, $15.95
ISBN: 9781933512440

Dr. Ethan Lightman and Professor Elijah Schiff hypothesize that the brain’s left temporal lobe creates religious phenomena. The Yale University pair builds Logos to test their theory. The
“God Machine” as they call Logos emits electrical pulses into the part of the brain that Lightman and Schiff believe control religious thought especially extremist behavior. The Neurological Advancement Foundation’s Dr. Allen Wolfe funds the project.

Not long after Wolfe provides the money, someone murders Schiff and kidnaps grad student Rachel Riley. Ethan ends up in Egypt where he learns that a Dr. Wolfe, working for the CIA, has deployed Project Jericho using a Logos “clone” to convert Muslims into Christians and end seemingly eternal religious conflict.

The Jericho Deception is a super thriller in which the real scientific research is so compelling, at times overwhelms the action scenes. The cast is solid but it is the references to real experiments that bring a sense of genuineness to this exhilarating tale. Readers will enjoy this taut religious suspense while looking up those factual entities that make Jeffrey Small’s saga superbly fresh.

Harriet Klausner

Deadly Harvest-Michael Stanley

May 10, 2013

Deadly Harvest
Michael Stanley
Bourbon Street/Harper, Apr 30 2013, $14.99
ISBN: 9780062221520

Botswana Criminal Investigation Department assigns Police Detective Samantha Khama to work a four-month old cold case; the disappearance of ten year old orphan Lesego Betse. The first CID female detective Samantha concludes a witch doctor killed the female to harvest her human remains as key ingredients in Muti medicine.

When another young girl vanishes, CID Assistant Superintendent David “Kubu” Bengu joins Samantha on her investigation as the cold case has become hot. As two cops investigate serial killings tied to Muti, an irate father of one of the victims plans a vengeance murder of a politician who may be using a witch doctor’s Muti.

The fourth Detective Kubu police procedural (see Death of the Mantis) is a great gritty investigative thriller that contrasts modern Botswana with its long standing heritage of witch doctors. Adding depth to the storyline is introducing the first female detective who expects to face sexism in spite of her deft handling of the case. Readers will relish this tense suspense as team Michael Stanley provides a super Botswana investigation.

Harriet Klausner

The Roots Of Betrayal-James Forrester

May 7, 2013

The Roots Of Betrayal
James Forrester
Sourcebooks, May 7 2013, $14.99
ISBN: 9781402272691

In 1564, William “Clarenceux” Harley detests being the keeper of the “Catholic Treasure” document as possession is not conducive to a long happy life span researching coat of arms by the warmth of a fire with his family. Queen Elizabeth’s advisor Sir William Cecil entrusted him to safeguard the document so the devoted Catholic herald will do what it takes to keep it secure. Clarenceux understands the significance of what he watches as religious civil war between the Catholics supporting Mary, the Protestants deeming the Pope is the Antichrist, and the compromised Church of England straddling both camps seems probable; with what Harley diligently protects as a fire-starter in the wrong hand.

However, in spite of his efforts, someone steals the Catholic Treasure as betrayal is everywhere. As Clarenceux faces harsh incarceration, stink and torture, he remains steadfast in pursuit of what he lost with his worst adventures on the pirate ship the Davy captained by atheist Raw Carew.

The second sequel Clarenceux historical thriller (see Sacred Treasure) is a powerful action-packed Elizabethan era tale in which gore, filth and violence are as normal as mutton pie (modifying H. Rap Brown quote); combat was a bloody endeavor but so was living in the Reformation Era. Definitely not for anyone with a queasy stomach; James Forrester provides fans with an unromantic picture of mid sixteenth century England as not “the best of all possible worlds” as (Voltaire).

Harriet Klausner

Antiques Chop-Barbara Allan

May 7, 2013

Antiques Chop
Barbara Allan
Kensington, Apr 30 2013, $24.00
ISBN 9780758263629

Antique sellers and amateur sleuths, Vivian and Brandy Bourne are starring in a new reality TV show the Antique Sleuths based on this the adventures of this mother and daughter duet. They are filming in Vivian’s hometown of Serenity, Iowa at an old house where a cold case axe murder of Archibald Butterworth occurred in 1950.

However, reality becomes too vivid when Brandy’s young son Jake proves he is a Bourne when he finds the corpse of producer Bruce Spring at the Butterworth house; the murder weapon is an ax. As the show must go on so the filming continues while Vivian and Brandy stealthily sleuth.

This Trash ’n’ Treasures mystery (see Antiques Knock-Off and Antiques Disposal) is an amusing whodunit as the third generation proves to be a Bourne with a nose for trouble. The jocular storyline is fun but the inserted directional commentary rather than wry humor distract from the plot. Still fans will enjoy this all in the family madcap antiques whodunit.

Harriet Klausner

Stolen-Daniel Palmer

May 7, 2013

Daniel Palmer
Kensington, Apr 30 2013, $25.00
ISBN 9780758246660

The three avid Massachusetts mountain climbers are working the West Ridge in Tibet when an avalanche sends David Clegg and Brooks Hall over the side. The third climber John Bodine quickly realizes he cannot save both men; failing to cut one of their attached lines means all three die. He must choose between Brooks married with no kids and David married with two kids. Twenty-nine years old John knows he will hear the scream for the rest of his life.

Several years later, the love of John’s life, his wife Ruby suffers from late stage cancer, but the insurance company refuses to pay for the lifesaving expensive treatment; as it is not included in their plan. Desperate, John learns that Elliot Uretsky has the right insurance so he steals the man’s identity to pay for Ruby’s treatment. However, serial killer Uretsky orders Bodine to play his game or watch his beloved die while he remains behind bars for insurance fraud. John plays the dangerous contest until he says enough leading to his ruthless opponent killing people he cares about until he rejoins the game.

This is a taut thriller due to the three protagonists coming across as real even with a surreal triangular relationship. Readers will relish this tale as a ruthless Uretsky tests a desperate Bodine’s pledge to do anything to save his beloved.

Harriet Klausner