Archive for June, 2013

Death, Taxes, And Hot Pink Leg Warmers-Diane Kelly

June 15, 2013

Death, Taxes, And Hot Pink Leg Warmers
Diane Kelly
St. Martin’s, Jun 4 2013, $7.99
ISBN: 9781250023070

In Dallas, Treasury Department Criminal Investigation Team field operative Tara Holloway learns two things on her recent assignment: do not trust grannies with baseball bats and how hard her head is. Tara must be in court due to her role in the “Tennis Racketeers” tax evasion mortgage fraud.

Her field assignment is undercover at the Guys and Dolls strip joint to uncover unreported income earned from the sales of drugs and sex. Tara relishes this bookkeeping assignment as this may be the only place at this time in which she and Special Agent Nick Pratt can begin a relationship that both want. However someone wanting her dead intrudes on her desires and her ex reenters the picture (or not?).

The latest Tara Holloway IRS criminal investigation (see Death, Taxes, and a Skinny No-Whip Latte; and Death, Taxes, and a French Manicure) is an engaging thriller filled with humor and dangerous issues involving unreported income. Ironically, the storyline inductively shows the timeline to bring a novel to print as the reference to Josh Hamilton (bat that Granny used) has him still as a Ranger but he left for the Angels). Fans will enjoy Tara’s latest cases as she works to bring down the sleaze and her relationships at the same time.

Harriet Klausner

Spree-Kristine Kathryn Rusch

June 14, 2013

Kristine Kathryn Rusch
WMG Publishing, Apr 25 2013, $14.99
ISBN: 9780615802602

Moira Clarkson drives through the Nevada desert heading to Hawthorne, Nevada in a vehicle that should have been scrapped two years ago. She is accompanied by little Kasey who holds on to her Barbie doll as her only friend in the world. Thirsty, hungry and tired, Moira finds the isolated town disconcerting with bombshells as lawn ornaments, but having lived near Fort McCoy she understands the influence of Hawthorne Army depot and Ammunition Dump though the town is nothing like Sparta, Wisconsin or other military locations.

She reaches her destination, the home of her former Wisconsin neighbor Gary Storvick. He initially does not recognize her, knows the kid is not his and wants her to leave before his wife Jenny comes home to ask questions. However, he soon realizes she is the victim girl he felt sorry for when he lived near Fort McCoy, but still wants her gone ASAP so he plans to give her some money. However, she has a goal that involves allegedly stolen money from the military and the trail leads to Gary.

Spree is an exciting crime thriller that purposely starts slowly, but accelerates as readers realize talented Kristine Kathryn Rusch sets us up with a super spin. Moira is a terrific protagonist who makes Spree a winner as everyone who meets her concludes she is a victim and needs to help her.

Harriet Klausner

The Doll-Taylor Stevens

June 13, 2013

The Doll
Taylor Stevens
Crown, Jun 4 2013, $24.00
ISBN: 9780307888785

In Dallas, the Doll Maker sends his nephew Valon Lumani to abduct Vanessa Michael Monroe, but warns him to be on alert as this woman can kill with her hands within a nanosecond. He succeeds in snatching her in front of her lover Miles Bradford. At about the same time the Doll Maker also arranges the kidnapping of Michael’s best friend Logan to insure she behaves.

Valon Lumani escorts Michael to Zagreb, Croatia where his uncle the Doll Maker tells their captive she will deliver live merchandise to a customer to repay the debt. A professional killing machine, she does the Doll Maker’s bidding after he shows her a video of a battered Logan. Michael knows the time to repay the debt will come, but believes Miles and his employees need time to rescue Logan.

The third Vanessa Michael Munroe gritty noir (see The Informationist and The Innocent) is a dark thriller due to a sociopathic vile trafficker and a psychopathic heroine dancing a deadly tango. Perhaps the key difference between them is she tries to keep the innocent out of the fight while he willingly, even going out of his way, sacrifices the innocent as expendables. Readers will appreciate the grim The Doll from the opening abduction to the final confrontation.

Harriet Klausner

Sniper Elite One Way Trip-Scott McEwen with Thomas Koloniar

June 12, 2013

Sniper Elite One Way Trip
Scott McEwen with Thomas Koloniar
Touchstone, Jun 4 2013, $26.99
ISBN: 9781476746050

In Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan Warrant Officers Sandra Brux and Billy Mitchell fly their UH-60M Black Hawk as Night Stalker pilots of the 160th Special Operations Aviation regiment. They were part of a rehearsal exercise but on the ground within so-called secure lines when an attack occurs. The Taliban kill the Rangers and grab Brux as a prize since she is the first female pilot of this elite unit. They take her into the Hindu Kush.

Claiming to be the target of an illegal kidnapping by her associates, Hezb-e Islamic Khalis leader Asdif Kohistani questions Brux on CIA activity. A video arrives in DC showing a raping of Brux that angers the female Speaker of the House who wants the 24 million ransom demand paid. The CIA wants a black ops rescue, but the Commander In Chief feels the risk to great so says no. The Special Ops forces believe POTUS fears the risk to his reelection and not to those willing to die to bring home a sister in arms. Special Ops sniper Gil Shannon is home in Montana when his friend Chief Steelyard informs him to expect the CIA to bring together the SOG to mount a rescue. Knowing time is of the essence, Shannon, Steelyard and a peer Crosswright, along with Tajik fighters go rogue to mount an extraction inside hostile territory.

This is an exciting action-packed military thriller once the players are set. The combat scenes are brutally realistic as blood and gore flow. While the heroes, Brux and Kohistani are full blooded, those in DC seem like political caricatures. Sniper Elite One Way Trip is a superb tale especially in Afghanistan.

Harriet Klausner

An Open Heart-Harry Kraus

June 11, 2013

An Open Heart
Harry Kraus
David C. Cook, Jun 1 2013, $14.99
ISBN: 978-0781405355

Missionaries’ son Jace Rawlings grew up in Kijabe, Kenya. At the first chance to flee the continent and his faith, he left Africa becoming a heart surgeon in the States. However, a scandal and his dead twin sister sent him home to open up a cardiac clinic while leaving his estranged wife Heather behind.

While driving, Jace runs over a goat. TIA (this is Africa). A boy asks for ten thousand shillings for killing his goat and a cop demands a two thousand shilling bribe. He refuses both and ends up as the only white person in jail. At the same time Jace is incarcerated, a parliamentary minister in Nairobi contacts Mzee Simeon Okayo the witch doctor in Kisii to perform a “Be Free” spell with a photo in the Standard of Dr. Jace Rawlins. Not long after the incantation, Jace is freed when miraculously the goat recovers. Returning to his clinic, Jace’s patients come out of anesthesia tell him that his soul is in peril from an evil. He begins to believe his terrible nightmares are a warning; his soul’s salvation can only come from one place but he also faces a lethal mundane threat too.

An Open Heart is an exhilarating thriller that works on the spiritual and worldly planes. The protagonist is a super lead as he struggles with his return to TIA while fighting to save his soul. Although the villains on two continents never quite gel, the insight into contemporary witchcraft (Dr. Okayo advertises herbal remedies for AIDs) and Christianity in modern day Africa make for a fabulous tale summed up by “Kenya (or any place) can be a scary place, if you don’t know the savior.”

Harriet Klausner

Choke Point-Ridley Pearson

June 10, 2013

Choke Point
Ridley Pearson
Putnam, Jun 4 2013, $26.95
ISBN 9780399158841

Journalist Sonia Pangarkar writes a story on the Amsterdam “knot shops” that employ kidnapped underage girls as its enslaved labor pool as they need the tiny fingers as knitters. Soon afterward, her source a low level bureaucrat is killed in a car bombing. Philanthropist Graham Winston reads the article and hires the Rutherford Risk private security company to shut down an illegal Amsterdam imitation Oriental rug factory and other Knot Shops that use abducted young females as their workforce.

Operations Chief David Dulwich assigns field agent John Knox and computer expert Grace Chu to dismantle the factory. In Amsterdam, the two Risk operatives find no support as the neighborhoods welcome the devious mob who has provided gifts that has gained them the support of even the girls’ families and the cops. The pair struggles to identify the leaders so Knox tries to hook up with Sonia who distrusts him while she works a personal agenda and Chu looks into Middle Easterner hate crime victim Fahiz.

The sequel to the exciting The Risk Agent is a powerful thriller with a deep look at a real international social issue. Whereas the audience knows who the good guys are, the villains are shadowy as they have protection from corrupt officials and the victims’ families. Fast-paced, readers will appreciate Ridley Pearson’s action-packed tale.

Harriet Klausner

Medea-Kerry Greenwood

June 9, 2013

Kerry Greenwood
Poisoned Pen, Jun 4 2013, $24.95
ISBN 9781464201455

Princess of Colchis, Medea is a priestess of Hecate and guardian of the wood in which hangs the Golden Fleece. She also controls the serpent that violently guards this grove from intruders. Her childhood training was to safeguard at all costs the Golden Fleece that makes her kingdom prosperous.

When the Argo arrives at Colchis, the islanders welcome Captain Jason, his best friend Nauplius and the Argonauts. Jason flirts with Medea who falls in love with him. She switches loyalties and abets Jason’s stealing of the Golden Fleece. They sail home to claim his throne. Over the years, Jason abandons his wife who gave up everything for him, and ignores their children.

The latest Delphic Woman ancient historical Novel (see Out of the Black Land) is a powerful rendition of Medea that turns the accepted “mommy dearest” as written by Euripides on its head. The storyline is fast-paced throughout with several unexpected but fabulous twists. However, what makes this entry fresh is the Kerry Greenwood’s deep research supporting a different spin than that of the leading playwright of his time; as the reporter in Liberty Valance says: “When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.”

Harriet Klausner

Her Boyfriend’s Bones-Jeanne Matthews

June 9, 2013

Her Boyfriend’s Bones
Jeanne Matthews
Poisoned Pen, Jun 4 2013, $24.95
ISBN: 9781464201370

Anthropologist Dinah Pelerin and Norwegian cop Thor Ramberg enjoy a romantic interlude on the Greek island of Samos. Thor selected the place and arranged for the cottage they are spending the summer at. However, she is taken aback when he seems excited over the cottage’s history. In 1973 Greek actress Marilita Stephan murdered her boyfriend, his mother, and a colonel before the military junta executed her.

Dinah’s widowed aunt by marriage Neesha calls her from Atlanta to tell her that her cousin Katherine was arrested for burglary so is sending her child to spend the summer in Greece with her worldly relative.

Meanwhile Thor admits that he is also working undercover for the Norwegian National Criminal Investigation Service, looking into terrorist arms trafficking. When an Iraqi is murdered nearby and Thor vanishes with his vehicle in a ravine, Dinah sees parallels to the 1973 case with her as the star suspect.

The fourth Dinah Pelerin amateur sleuth (see Bones of Contention, Bet Your Bones, and Bonereapers is an exciting mystery as the heroine works on proving her innocence, solving the disappearance of her lover and looking into the 1973 case. A fabulous subplot also takes a deep look at contemporary troubled corrupt Greece making parallels to the early 1970s. Although there are too many disruptive (but fascinating) mythological asides, readers will enjoy Pelerin’s Aegean Sea adventure.

Harriet Klausner

Capacity for Murder-Bernadette Pajer

June 9, 2013

Capacity for Murder
Bernadette Pajer
Poisoned Pen, Jun 4 2013, $24.95
ISBN 9781464201288

In 1903 in Ocean Springs near Seattle, the Healing Sands Sanitarium has earned an esteemed reputation for restorative cures. Owner Dr. Arnold Hornsby is proud of his facility’s safety and curative records; he especially is euphoric about his invention Dr. Hornsby’s electrotherapy machine that provides electrotherapeutics to patients.

When Hornsby’s son-in-law David Hollister is electrocuted in an electrotherapy machine, he asks the electrical forensic investigator State University Professor Benjamin Bradshaw to investigate the death. Bradshw concludes the machine worked properly but an anomaly means the deceased was murdered. Besides the family and staff, four patients were at the sanitarium at the time of Hollister’s death.

The latest Professor Bradshaw early twentieth century investigation (see A Spark of Death and Fatal Induction) is a super mystery in which readers obtain a close look at medical practices in the era. Fast-paced, the whodunit is top rate but it is a look at 1903 medicine (mindful of Dr. McCoy in the hospital in the movie The Voyage Home) that makes for a strong historical detective tale.

Harriet Klausner

The Flinch Factor-Michael A. Kahn

June 9, 2013

The Flinch Factor
Michael A. Kahn
Poisoned Pen, Jun 4 2013, $24.95
ISBN 9781464201424

In St. Louis, almost four years a widow, Rachel Gold is a single mom raising her son and two stepdaughters. Currently Rachel and her partner Jacki Brand represent clients in two complex legal cases.

Everyone who knew renovator Nick Moran including Rachel is shocked that he overdosed in a pickup truck on Gay Way as most people realized he took drugs and was gay. His sister Susannah Beale visits Rachel without an appointment because she believes the attorney knew her late brother and will help her prove the cops wrong as she insists her sibling was murdered.

Later that same day, Rachel is in Circuit Court of St. Louis County arguing over setting a deposition date in the “Frankenstein” case with attorney Rob Crane in front of the worst judge probably in the state, Flinch. She represents the middle class residents suing to keep their homes while Crane’s client developer Mr. Rubenstein is too busy to respond to why he should be allowed to build a gated community at the site of their homes. With legal help from her partner and investigative assistance from Benny Goldberg, Rachel’s cases begin to overlap.

The latest Rachel Gold legal thriller (see Trophy Wife and Due Diligence) contains two terrific cases that bring out the tough trial lawyer competing in court in front of the notorious Judge Flinch, a hyperbole of a horrendous judicial who does not belong on the bench. Outside of her all business legal world, Rachel shows her love for her children, other family members and her partner and friends, and even a grieving client. Readers will enjoy this gold mystery.

Harriet Klausner