Archive for September, 2013

Silent Assassin-Leo J. Maloney

September 29, 2013

Silent Assassin
Leo J. Maloney
Pinnacle, Aug 27 2013, $9.99
ISBN: 9780786029914

In the Paris Metro, the bombs at a crowded station leave thirty-two dead including three Americans and much more in critical condition. Three months earlier a New York to Atlanta plane crashed due to the release of mustard gas leaving all 107 on board and six on the ground dead. Barcelona and Oslo followed with mass deaths and now Paris.

Desperate to end the terrorism, the Feds turn to the Zeta Division for help. They assign the operation to their top gun retired CIA agent Dan “Cobra” Morgan. His mission is to terminate former KGB operative turned international arms dealer Nikolai Novokoff, find and secure this terrorist’s biological weapons of mass destruction cache threatening major Western cities and identify the person behind the Russian. Cobra’s first effort in Bucharest fails while the enemy targets his wife and son in Andover.

The latest Cobra thriller (see Termination Orders) is an exhilarating action-packed over the top of Holt Hill tale. Fast-paced, readers who ignore their plausibility meter will appreciate this entertaining exciting story.

Harriet Klausner


Twist-John Lutz

September 27, 2013

John Lutz
Pinnacle, Sep 24 2013, $9.99
ISBN: 9780786028290

In 1984 Medford City, Kansas, pregnant Abbey drives her truck on an isolated road when it overheats. Seemingly kind-hearted Mildred gives her a lift only to duct tape the young woman and gut her with a knife.

In the present in New York City, someone drugs and duct tapes Bonnie Anderson before surgically slicing off her eyelids and cutting open her stomach as she watches in horror. The killer places a cheap Statue of Liberty inside the corpse. When a second similar murder occurs, Police Commissioner Rentz hires Q&A Investigative Agency to work the brutal homicides because former NYPD detective Frank Quinn is experienced with serial killers. Carlie Hobbs, the niece of Frank’s ex-wife May, visits Q&A saying someone is stalking her; she fits the description of the victims so Frank places her under the protection of his team. As more slaughters occur, Frank uses a TV show and an inheritance to try to capture the brilliant psychopath, but knows who he needs to offer as the perfect lure.

The latest Frank Quinn and Associates investigative tale is an exciting serial killer thriller. The chilling storyline is action-packed as the Liberty killer has no problems with seducing his victims before torturing them to death; he makes the case that the child is the adult. Although the plot loses some of its edginess when it turns into a cat and mouse game between Frank and Liberty since the psychopath (and readers) gains nothing by playing; sub-genre fans will enjoy following the twisted mind of a brilliant maniac taking NYC hostage.

Harriet Klausner

Mother, Mother-Koren Zailckas

September 25, 2013

Mother, Mother
Koren Zailckas
Crown, Sep 17 2013, $24.00
ISBN: 9780385347235

Matriarch Josephine Hurst runs a tight ship as she expects her three children and husband Douglas to obey her demands in order to maintain their perfect life though the youngest, tweener home-schooled William, is imperfect suffering from Asperger Syndrome and epilepsy. When the oldest child Rose flees the nest to move in with her boyfriend, Josephine is aghast with this transgression and tightens the rules on her remaining children Will and his older sister Violet. While their weak father turns to alcohol to numb his obeying his wife’s orders, Violet uses drugs and Will turns to Mother.

When Violet is stoned, Will is slashed. Josephine accuses Violet who cannot remember what occurred that night. Her mother commits her to a psychiatric hospital. Meanwhile Violet searches for what happened to Rose who never contacted her after she fled home; and Will seeking for someone to say good boy to him grows even closer to his mother.

Mother, Mother is an exciting dark psychological thriller that rotates perspective between Will and Violet. Will is the more fascinating family member with his needs for acceptance and belonging lead him ironically turning to the one person who will always keep his self-esteem in the cesspool. Violet begins to understand that happiness in the Hurst family must be initiated by Mother only, which means for the daughter to live she must cut off all ties like the vanished Rose did.

Harriet Klausner

Aunty Lee’s Delights-Ovidia Yu

September 25, 2013

Aunty Lee’s Delights
Ovidia Yu
Morrow, Sep 17 2013, $14.99
ISBN 9780062227157

In the resort island of Sentosa, Singapore the young couple in love walk the beach when they see the plastic that looks like a large dead jellyfish. When they get closer they see the corpse inside the bag.

Widow Rosie “Aunty” Lee hosts her stepson Mark’s wine-tasting party at her Aunty Lee’s Delights Restaurant. Mark’s wife receives a text from Laura Kwee who says she will not make it. Police Commissioner Raja and Senior Staff Sergeant Salim arrive at the restaurant to interview Aunty Lee, her stepson and their guests as the victim in the plastic bag is Laura Kwee who forensics says was probably in the water for three days. Aunty Lee and maid Nina Balignasay investigate the homicide of the guest who failed to come to dinner.

This Singaporean Mystery is an enjoyable whodunit as Aunty Lee feels obligated to solve the homicide as the victim was a guest. She adapts her recipe-creating skill to her inquiry with the help of her sidekick Nina. Although the rest of the cast are stereotypes of the amateur sleuth subgenre, readers will appreciate the two female detectives as they work the case in a fresh locale.

Harriet Klausner

Long Gone Man-Phyllis Smallman

September 24, 2013

Long Gone Man
Phyllis Smallman
Touchwood Mystery, Sep 17 2013, $14.95
ISBN: 9781771510301

Two decades ago in Arizona, Singer Brown was singing with the band Vortex when she met Michael, the love of her life. When he vanished without a trace, she mentally collapsed relying on drugs to help her make it past her nightmares. Recently, Michael’s murdered remains were found in the desert. Seeking revenge, Singer heads to British Columbia’s Gulf Islands to confront the Vortex band leader Johnny Vibes who she believes killed her beloved as she doubts he wrote his only quality tune Long Gone Man.

In a thick fog the ferry takes her to Glenphiddie Island. At the dock she drives her Beast up the narrow road on Mt. Skeena, but is forced to flee her decrepit van as it teeters on the edge. When she arrives at Vibes’ home, she meets his wife Lauren and finds her target murdered. Singer and Lauren agree to provide a joint alibi to Royal Mounted Police Sergeant Wilmot so that the cop can concentrate on finding the real killer. Singer investigates the two homicides twenty years apart by looking at the band and their families; while one of them wants her dead.

With Sherri Travis taking a well-deserved Florida respite, talented Phyllis Smallman starts a new exciting mystery series diagonally across the continent. Singer is terrific and the cops competent; but it is the angry band members and their families who make for a strong amateur sleuth as the audience, Wilmot and the heroine uncover their guilt, rage and greed. Fast-paced, readers will appreciate the first act while expecting encores.

Harriet Klausner

Strange Bird-Anna Jansson; translated by Paul Norlén

September 24, 2013

Strange Bird
Anna Jansson; translated by Paul Norlén
Stockholm Text, Sep 17 2013, $14.95
ISBN 9789187173950

On Gotland Island, the pigeon lands at Ruben Nilsson’s dovecote. Soon afterward Nilsson dies from avian flu. Others become ill and die causing a panic as the epidemic spreads; a shortfall of medication makes it worse as Tamiflu fails to stop the contagion while the sick are quarantined. When young campers catch the disease, they are isolated adding to the anxieties. Detective Inspector Marian Wern fears for her tweener son Emil who is among those held in isolation.

Meanwhile at the Vigoris Health Center, Nurse Sandra Hägg discovers a shocking revelation. Only someone wants her finding buried so Sandra is murdered in her apartment. Worried about her child, Wern struggles to concentrate on her homicide investigation.

This is a strong Swedish thriller that looks deeply into how first responders, medical personnel and the general population deal with an out of control lethal contagion in which money buys health even in a highly socialized system. As the death count grows, panic exponentially rises faster because those depended upon to end the epidemic not only are failing but are dying too. The murder mystery is clever, but it is the community’s reaction to the deadly disease that makes this a profound tale.

Harriet Klausner

Torn Blood-David J. Bain

September 24, 2013

Torn Blood
David J. Bain
Bo Iti Press, Sep 17 2013, $17.99
ISBN: 9780988171008

In 2007 in Kazakhstan at the Stepnogorsk Scientific and Technical Institute for Microbiology, attendees discuss deploying a new strand of undetectable airborne anthrax in Palestine. Not only will this strain kill the population, it can be neutralized afterward so that the Palestinians can go home after a six-decade exile.

A few months later, the new Consular Officer Addison Deverell reports to the American Embassy in Tel Aviv three weeks before his due date. He sits for hours at the embassy until Arabic Hafiz IbnMansur arrives from Jerusalem to escort him around the country and teach him how to survive by avoiding being an easy American target. However, he came early not to play tourist, but to learn more about his past. Instead Deverell becomes embroiled in a dangerous bioweapon plot to destroy the Zion State and replace it with a Palestine homeland. Meanwhile in Oregon, Dr. Janelle Henning receives a message that shakes her existence and has her considering a trip to the Holy Land.

This is an action-packed thriller that focuses on biological weapons of mass destruction while also providing insight into what it means to be an Israeli as identity matters. Fast-paced from the opening discussion on anthrax and never slowing down, readers will appreciate this exciting tale as no compromise and no surrender remains the values of a small nation as depicted by the “relative size” map.

Harriet Klausner

Nowhere Safe-Nancy Bush

September 21, 2013

Nowhere Safe
Nancy Bush
Zebra, Aug 27 2013, $7.99
ISBN: 9781420125030

After being on medical leave for ten days recuperating from a stab wound to her shoulder Laurelton Police Department Detective September “Nine” Rafferty returns to work. With much of the staff down with the real flu, her first case back on the job is the same one she was working on when she left. A few months ago in February, a vicious clever killer tied a naked postal employer Christopher Balloni to a flagpole in front of his station; Christopher died from exposure.

Nine’s stepbrother Stefan Harmak was tied almost naked to a basketball pole at the Twin Oaks Elementary School where he works. A jogger fortunately discovered him before the kids arrived. Stefan was taken to Laurelton General. Nine and Detective Wes Pedigree question Stefan who insists he is the victim of a prank, but both cops know he conceals the truth. Even as they pursue the predator targeting alleged sexual predators, other cases overwhelm those cops still standing; at the same time Nine and her boyfriend Jake begin to move in together though his ex remains an obstacle.

The Laurelton PD police procedural (see Nowhere to Run and Nowhere to Hide) is an exciting thriller as the flu has debilitated the department; making those on duty working much longer shifts. The whodunit is fast-paced and the glimpse at an understaffed PD brings a frantic feel to the plot and a need to prioritize that places critical cases a notch below their norm. Although the romantic “triangular” subplot seems insignificant, fans will appreciate the beleaguered Laurelton PD working the cases especially that of a brilliant predator.

Harriet Klausner

Second Watch-.A. Jance

September 21, 2013

Second Watch
J.A. Jance
Morrow, Sep 10 2013, $26.99
ISBN 9780062134677

For years Seattle PD homicide investigator J.P. Beaumont has lived with painful knees. Finally the detective opts for knee replacement surgery on both joints. After the operation is successfully finished, while still under pain medicine the patient dreams of visits from two people involved in scenarios from decades ago that still haunt him.

In 1973, Beaumont, on his first homicide investigation, never identified who killed coed Monica Wellington though he promised her parents he would; now Monica is his first visitor. Not long after that the late Lieutenant Lennie Davis visits the patient; reminding Beaumont he has unfinished business after vowing to visit his Vietnam platoon commander’s fiancée to tell her he heroically died saving J.P. Filled with guilt, Beaumont plans to resolve both once he is released. Beaumont persuades his boss to reopen the Wellington cold case and seeks the late Davis’ fiancée.

The latest Beaumont police procedural is a super intelligent thriller that cleverly brings the hero who understands aging is a combat sport back to his younger days. Based on the real Lennie D, this subplot and a poignant heartfelt behind the scenes afterward grip the reader throughout while honoring our fallen and injured soldiers. The clever cold case inquiry is also engaging, but takes longer to hook the audience as the Lennie D homage touches the reader’s heart.

Harriet Klausner

Death in the Ashes: A Fourth Case from the Notebooks of Pliny the Younger-Albert A. Bell Jr.

September 20, 2013

Death in the Ashes: A Fourth Case from the Notebooks of Pliny the Younger
Albert A. Bell Jr.
Perseverance, Sep 9 2013, $15.95
ISBN 9781564745323

In 84 AD Rome, twenty-something Gaius Pliny the Younger loves his childhood friend and servant Aurora. However his Mother wants the slave to show more respects towards her superiors and stay far away from her offspring. Mother also selected Livia, the daughter of Pompeia, as her son’s wife. In spite of being a lawyer, Pliny feels like a condemned man as he sees no way out of his marital dilemma.

Thamyras the servant arrives from Naples informing pregnant Aurelia that her wealthy husband Calpurnius is accused of murdering a freedwoman two days ago; and his refusal to defend himself adds to the common belief he killed the victim. Aurelia sends Thamyras to tell her friend Pliny, who rescued her a few years ago (see All Roads lead to Murder). Pliny questions the servant who says he saw the accused holding a knife while standing over the corpse, but never saw Calpurnius stabbed the woman. Reflecting back to when he last was in the city four years ago just after Vesuvius buried Pompeii killing his mentor, Pliny and Tacitus discuss the cold case as they travel to Naples to investigate the homicide.

The latest Notebooks of Pliny the Younger case (see The Blood of Caesar and The Corpus Conundrum) is an entertaining whodunit as the two sleuths realize a few days in Roman times means a cold case investigation. The aftermath of Vesuvius still haunts people with ash as a macabre visible reminder and ultimately important to this inquiry. Readers will appreciate this ancient mystery as the late Emperor Augustus dead for decades still impacts the living and the recently murdered.

Harriet Klausner