Archive for July, 2013

A Murder In Passing-Mark de Castrique

July 8, 2013

A Murder In Passing
Mark de Castrique
Poisoned Pen, Jul 2 2013, $24.95
ISBN: 9781464201516

In Asheville, North Carolina, Sam Blackman and Nakayla Robertson have no clients. Sam is bored so Nakayla suggests they close the Blackman & Robertson Detective Agency for the day and go on a mushroom hunt on the historic Kingdom of the Happy Land. Thinking this venture will increase his ennui, Sam goes anyway. Sam finds human skeletal remains on the freed-slave commune property. Henderson County Sheriff Deputy Overcash, who hates Sam for solving a case of his, warns the two private investigators to stay out of their inquiry; though jurisdiction may belong to Greenville County, South Carolina as the boundary is right at the hollow log containing the corpse.

Marsha Montgomery arrives at the office of Blackman & Robertson Detective Agency wanting to hire Sam and Nakayla to investigate a burglary at her mother Lucille’s home in 1967. She explains someone stole a rifle and a photograph of her mother, grandmother, and great grandmother taken in 1932 at The Kingdom of the Happy Land by famous photographer Doris Ulmann. The police arrest African-American octogenarian Lucille for the murder of her white lover Jimmy Lang over forty years ago. Sam and Nakayla investigate the cold case murder.

The fourth B & R mystery (see The Sandburg Connection, Blackman’s Coffin and The Fitzgerald Ruse) is an engaging investigative whodunit with the artist being the famous Appalachia photographer rather than a writer. Fast-paced from the moment Sam finds a body and never slowing down even with some repetitive back story, fans will enjoy this tale that links several decades at a place where former slaves created The Kingdom of the Happy Land.

Harriet Klausner

The Terrorist Next Door-Sheldon Siegel

July 8, 2013

The Terrorist Next Door
Sheldon Siegel
Poisoned Pen, Jul 2 2013, $24.95
ISBN: 9781464201646

Chicago PD Homicide Detective David Gold receives a Medal of Valor in a public ceremony for stopping student Hassan Al-Shahid from bombing the Art Institute of Chicago, but his partner and best friend Paulie Loszewski died. As he gives a short uncomfortable speech, a car bomb explodes and a text arrives claiming it is not over. His boss Maloney calls in the Feds as terrorism has come to South Chicago.

Other car bombs explode near landmarks with the motive to force the city to free Al-Shahid. As the city lives in fear with deaths mounting and no place safe, Gold, his new partner A.C. Battle and the FBI pursue a clever Muslim extremist terrorist thought to be related to Al-Shahid.

The Boston marathon bombing makes the first Gold police procedural appear authentic as terrorism shuts down a major American city. The lead cops have plenty of personal tsuris but remain focused on taking down the brilliant predator while their insight into Chicago (Cubs or Sox) brings depth to the mix. Although late happenchance detracts from the excitement and Mike Daley is on recess, readers will enjoy the taut Terrorist Next Door which warns Americans to avoid stereotyping the enemy.

Harriet Klausner

The Right Side Of Wrong-Reavis Z. Wortham

July 8, 2013

The Right Side Of Wrong
Reavis Z. Wortham
Poisoned Pen, Jul 2 2013, $24.95
ISBN: 9781464201486

In 1966, twenty-four year old Constable Cody Parker is stunned by the snow piling up as it rarely comes down let alone sticks in Center Spring, Texas on the south side of the Red River. He notices tire marks in the snow so he follows them using his wife Norma Faye’s vehicle as his car’s battery died due to the freezing temperature. When he sees the sedan parked, Cody down shifts but skids anyway. The other driver fires a 12 gauge through the windshield hitting Cody whose Plymouth crashes. A starving pack of abandoned dogs fights over his injured body until elderly newcomer Tom Bell kills the alpha and another sending the rest fleeing.

Cody’s Uncle Constable Ned Parker and deputy sheriff John Washington lead investigations into the near fatal attack and other homicides in the area. Each concludes that a new type of trafficker had come to Red River; these homicidal predators sell drugs that they obtain in Mexico. Still upset with the assault that nearly killed him, Cody follows suspects south of the border. Ned follows his foolish nephew to save him from killers.

The third Parker clan historical police procedural (see The Rock Hole and Burrows) is a great 1960s period piece thriller with segregation remaining strictly enforced; for instance Washington is the Jackie Robinson of law enforcement in the area but separate facilities for whites and coloreds remain in place a dozen years after the Brown ruling. The drug trafficking is also just beginning to find favorite lethal migratory paths. The cast is solid as is the investigation, but it is the vivid look at 1966 Red River shootout that makes for a super entertaining tale.

Harriet Klausner

Death of a Coupon Clipper-Lee Hollis

July 6, 2013

Death of a Coupon Clipper
Lee Hollis
Kensington, Jul 2 2013, $7.99
ISBN: 9780758267399

In Bar Harbor Maine, Island Times food and cocktails columnist Hayley Powell needs money to pay her bills after a collapsed roof, a crushed car and a busted furnace. She thinks she has the answer when Hayley learns that the Wild and Crazy Couponing TV reality show will host an event at the Bar Harbor Shop ‘N Save.

Hayley and shrewish nurse Candace Culpepper are selected as the contestants. Show host Drew Nickerson displays his prejudice when he interviews Hayley harshly and Candace gently. Hayley finds the murdered body of Candace. Police Officer Donnie looks at Hayley’s BFF lobsterwoman Mona Barnes as the killer; as witnesses at a bar told him she said would like to kill the victim. Not trusting the inexperienced cop to dig deeper, Hayley investigates her rival’s homicide.

The latest Hayley Powell Food & Cocktails Mystery (see Death of a Countryfried Redneck and Death of a Kitchen Diva) is an engaging amateur sleuth. The breezy (in spite of the cold weather) storyline is fun to follow though the whodunit commences a quarter of the way into the novel as the protagonist’s financial crisis and the TV show take center stage early on. Fans will enjoy this lighthearted frolic.

Harriet Klausner

Of Grave Concern-Max McCoy

July 6, 2013

Of Grave Concern
Max McCoy
Kensington, Jul 2 2013, $7.99
ISBN: 9780758281937

By 1877 many surviving family members heeded the advice of New York Tribune editor Horace Greely to “Go West, young man.” Heading for Colorado, spirit sensitive Ophelia Wylde rides the train accompanied only by Eddie the quoting bird in a cage. As the train passes the Hundredth Meridian that all schoolgirls know, Ophelia sees a spirit of a murdered girl. When the train stops moments later in Dodge City for a ten minute break, Ophelia takes a look at a murdered girl.

When she goes to re-board the train, Ford County attorney Michael Sutton stops her. She is accused of being murderess Kate Bender of the Bloody Benders and will be handed to the sheriff of Labette County where she will stand trial. Ophelia sits in a jail cell musing men enjoy taking away freedom from independent women. She puts on a psychic performance at the opera house to raise money to pay her lawyer Potete that stuns everyone except bounty hunter Jack Calder who knows she is a con artist. The customers turn into an ugly mob who takes her to Boot Hill where she encounters real ghosts; as Ophelia is legit but to make money means being a fake spiritualist; skeptical Jack saves her.

The first Ophelia Wylde Paranormal Mystery is an enjoyable Reconstruction Era investigative thriller. Ophelia’s fabulous first person account anchors the time and place with terrific tidbits and witty commentary that holds true today. Readers will enjoy this entertaining historical as the medium and the bounty hunter make a fine team.

Harriet Klausner

The Loner-Lindsay McKenna

July 3, 2013

The Loner
Lindsay McKenna
Harlequin HQN, Jun 25 2013, $7.99
ISBN: 9780373777723

Former Navy SEAL Dakota Carson received a medical discharge due to an injured arm hurt in a firefight in Afghanistan. He also suffers from PTSD, which is why he lives alone high in the Tetons. When a bear attacks him, he and his friend Storm the wolf kills the raging animal but not before the beast bit deeply into his arm hitting an artery. Using combat medical skills, he controls the blood flow but needs to reach a hospital or die.

Dakota reaches the Jackson Hole Hospital ER parking lot where Sheriff Deputy Shelby Kincaid helps him inside. As he goes into surgery, he asks Shelby, who looks familiar, to take care of his wolf. As he recovers, Dakota thinks “Barbie Doll” is much tougher than she looks; refusing to accept his efforts to push her away. When killers target his Shelby, Dakota risks his life to keep her safe from the adversaries who had ties to his family tragedy that led to his joining the military at eighteen.

The key to this strong military romantic suspense is the slowly changing relationship between the protagonists as the SEAL’s crippling PTSD does not magically vanish because he fell in love though that helps. Action-packed in a terrific outdoors environment, fans will anticipate the confrontation between the vicious killers and the fully developed loving heroes.

Harriet Klausner

Unseen-Karen Slaughter

July 3, 2013

Karen Slaughter
Delacorte, Jul 2 2013, $27.00
ISBN: 9780345539472

Macon police detective Lena Adams married her late partner Jeffrey Tolliver’s son Jared whose mother Dr. Sara Linton blames her for the homicide of her spouse five years ago due to her shoot from the hip attitude. Last week, Lena led a drug raid that turned ugly leaving four dead, one hospitalized and her with a scalp wound and the haunting memory. After dealing with Internal Affairs, Lena plans to get back to working on taking down local drug lord Sid Waller.

Shooters break into their home hitting Jared and leaving him barely alive. Lena takes down one of the intruders and recognizes another as GBI Agent Will Trent who is undercover as Bill Black. Jared is rushed to the hospital while his paternal grandmother tells his mother who immediately leaves Atlanta’s Grady Memorial to be with her estranged son. Will knows his cover may be busted with the woman he loves in town. Both believes Jared being in intensive care is due to Lena’s crossing the line again, but though he works a drug case, this time Will hopes to prove it before someone else is hurt.

Longtime fans of Karen Slaughter’s Georgia police procedurals (Grant County and Will Trent) will appreciate the latest series crossing as the anticipated cat fight between Sara and Lena comes to a head; while Jared lies near death and Will hopes to avoid exposure leading to his becoming the next victim. Gripping from the opening home invasion, readers will relish this strong twisting thriller as all roads lead to Lena.

Harriet Klausner

Private Spies-P.J. Nunn

July 3, 2013

Private Spies
P.J. Nunn
Tidal Wave, Jun 18 2013, $13.95
ISBN: 9780615832562

After graduating from college, Joey Catronio came home to open Private Spies, a P.I. firm. When Joey dies, his childhood best friend Jesse Morgan inherits the successful business. Jesse considered selling as she only worked the information technology end but decided to keep the company open though she knows very little about sleuthing and cannot park in his spot. Just before he died, Joey hired retired police officer Byron Montgomery as an investigator; at least that is what the ex-cop claims. Not stupid, Jesse knows she needs Byron if she is to make it as a P.I.

Beverly Gafford calls to speak with Joey, but instead hires Jesse to find her ex-husband Lawrence Gafford who she says abducted their daughter taking her back to his Dallas home. The simple case turns convoluted as nothing is what her client claims it to be. With a corpse in Jesse’s tub, she sorts through names and pictures that fail to match until Beverly abruptly fires her.

This is an engaging twisted private investigative thriller starring a wonderful rookie and the veteran trying to keep her out of trouble though she is a magnet for tsuris. Fast-paced from that first call, readers (and the sleuths) wonder what is going on as nothing is what it is supposed to be; the refreshing reason will stun the audience.

Harriet Klausner

The Riddle of Solomon-D.J. Niko

July 1, 2013

The Riddle of Solomon
D.J. Niko
Medallion, Jul 1 2013, $14.95
ISBN: 9781605425290

British archaeologist Sarah Weston and American anthropologist Daniel Madigan lead the excavation of the state sanctioned dig of the Kindite City Qaryat al-Fau in Saudi Arabian Rub’al Khali Desert. The couple wanders a couple miles away where they make a find only to have a nomadic tribe warn them to stay away or else. However, before the intrusion, they discovered a buried ancient scroll that leads them to believe King Solomon’s mythical treasure is real.

British millionaire Trent Sacks believes he is the last direct descendant of King David. To prove he is the long awaited Messiah, he needs his ancestor’s legendary treasure. When Sacks learns of the find in Saudi Arabia that he spent a fortune and much of his life seeking it, he sends mercenaries to take the scroll and kill anyone who tries to prevent him from obtaining what he knows belongs to him.

The second Sarah Weston Chronicles (see The Tenth Saint) is a taut thriller that uses the modern day religious conflicts as a base to an engaging storyline enhanced by a twisting revelation that if released would shake the world. Readers will not care that the latest “Messiah” claimant is over the top of Mount Meron as the fabulous The Riddle of Solomon pays homage to H. Rider Haggard’s classic late nineteenth century King Solomon’s Mines.

Harriet Klausner