Archive for October, 2013

Dead Men’s Harvest-Matt Hilton

October 30, 2013

Dead Men’s Harvest
Matt Hilton
Harper, Oct 29 2013, $9.99
ISBN: 9780062225306

Using four criteria in which a felon needs only meet one, top level maximum security Fort Conchar houses the most dangerous threats to national security; no one escapes from this facility. One particular inmate, Prisoner 1854, is the only individual who meets all four criteria; even his jailers are wary of this mute maniac. After eighteen months residency, with help from a mob chief, he does the impossible and breaks out. Even with MPs, K9s and a helicopter in pursuit, Prisoner 1854, once Secret Service Agent Martin “Harvestman” Maxwell and allegedly buried as Tubal Cain to hide the scandal of his crimes, gets away.

The Harvestman owes his benefactor so he plans to pay off his debt by killing John Telfer and his family who is under the protection of Witness Protection as the latter soon will testify against the crime boss who freed Prisoner 1854. Maxwell also targets those who incarcerated him and John’s half-brother, former Arrosake antiterrorist field agent Joe Hunter, who believes he killed the Harvestman several years ago (see Dead Men’s Dust).

The latest Joe Hunter action-packed thriller is a fast-paced tale from the moment Prisoner 1854 escapes and never slows down until the anticipated final confrontation. Over the top of Manchester, England’s Black Chew Head, fans will enjoy this adrenaline pumping rematch.

Harriet Klausner

The Devil Laughed-Gerrie Ferris Finger

October 30, 2013

The Devil Laughed
Gerrie Ferris Finger
Five Star, Sep 11 29013, $25.95
ISBN: 9781432826970

Judge Portia Devon invites Child Trace investigator Moriah Dru, Atlanta Police Lieutenant Richard Lake and the latter’s daughter Susanna for a July 4th shindig on Lake Lanier. Nearby on the water, Portia notices the Scuppernong sailboat that vanished almost four years ago with two couples (Johnny and Candice Browne of North Carolina, and Laurant and Janet Cocineau of Atlanta) on board partying. However, Johnny’s body with his head battered was found at the Swann Marina in Forsythe County, the last place the sloop was seen. The other three disappeared.

Candice’s thirteen years old daughter Evangeline believes her mother is alive and hires Moriah to investigate. Though her firm’s mission is tracing children, the sleuth agrees to take on the young teen as a client. Moriah begins the search for Candice tracking the Scuppernong’s last known stops in Georgia.

The third Moriah Dru / Richard Lake mystery (see The Last Temptation and The End Game) is an exciting missing person’s investigation that introduces the audience to the Georgia exurbs and rural waterways. Owning the engaging storyline, Dru, Lake and Devon are strong lead characters; while a myriad of support players add depth but need a scorecard to remember who’s who.

Harriet Klausner

A Catered Christmas Cookie Exchange-Isis Crawford

October 29, 2013

A Catered Christmas Cookie Exchange
Isis Crawford
Kensington, Oct 29 2013, $24.00
ISBN 9780758274892

In Longely, New York, the Christmas Cookie Exchange Club is thrilled over the Baking for Life TV show airing their annual competition hosted this year by local catering sisters Bernie and Libby Simmons. All the members like octogenarian Millie Piedmont with her Millie’s Majestic Meltaways expect to win. However Millie dies in a car accident, but before passing away she asks her niece Amber to persuade her employers at A Little Taste of Heaven, the Simmons sisters, to find her killer as she does not trust Police Chief Lucas to identify the culprit.

As they argue, the siblings agree to investigate the death of one of the contest’s favorites. They quickly realize the entire club resented Millie. Complicating the Simmons duo roles as the judges almost as much as the demands of the martinet producer; Amber replaces her deceased aunt in the contest.

This Simmons sisters holiday mystery (see A Catered Birthday Party and A Catered Halloween) is a wonderful lighthearted Christmas culinary cozy with recipes though it seems unsafe to belong to a food club (see A Catered St. Patrick’s Day). While the bickering siblings become a detractor after a while, series fans will enjoy will enjoy how the sleuth sisters spent their latest holiday.

Harriet Klausner

The Tulip Eaters-Antoinette van Heugten

October 29, 2013

The Tulip Eaters
Antoinette van Heugten
Mira, Oct 29 2013, $15.95
ISBN 9780778313885

In 1980 single mom, Dr. Nora de Jong comes home from her work as a pediatric surgeon at Methodist Hospital looking forward to seeing her beloved six-month-old daughter Rose and her widow Dutch mom Anneke in their three female Texas household. Instead of joy, she finds her mom lying on the living room floor with a bullet hole in her head, Rose is missing and a stranger is also dead. After calling 911, the hysterical Nora dials her visiting Dutch friend Professor Marijke van den Maas for comfort until Houston Police Lieutenant Richards arrives to take over the crime scene.

HPD, Child Abduction Rapid Deployment team and the FBI investigate the double murders and search for the missing infant, but their efforts go nowhere. As the case turns cold frantic Nora refuses to quit on rescuing her daughter. Nora looks into her parents’ past in Holland going back to WWII in search of clues as to the motive for the homicides and kidnapping.

The Tulip Eaters is an exciting mystery as what happened in the 1940s in the Old Country impacts what occurred almost four decades later in Texas. Grieving Nora holds the storyline together with her desperate search for Rose although she receives too much unlikely assistance on her frustrated fearful quest. Still this is a fabulous suspense thriller from the moment Nora is greeted by a mom’s worse nightmare.

Harriet Klausner

Safe House-Chris Ewan

October 28, 2013

Safe House
Chris Ewan
Minotaur, Oct 29 2013, $15.99
ISBN: 9781250038159

During the Tourist Trophy gala held on the Isle of Man, Rob Hale wakes up in a hospital after suffering a motorcycle accident. Dr. Gaskell explains to him that he was unconscious for seven hours; waking up briefly once, broke his left scapula, suffered bruised ribs and assorted other injuries. When he asks how Lena, who rode with him on the back of the bike and went in the first ambulance, was doing, Gaskell got Dr. Stanley. He bluntly tells the patient he suffered a traumatic head injury that besides nausea and dizziness could include hallucinations; as no one else was admitted with him.

Rob does not believe his injured brain made up Lena as the details about her are overwhelming. He and private investigator Rebecca Lewis search for Lena, but besides finding oddities re the missing woman they uncover a connection to Rob’s sister, Laura, who committed suicide a few weeks ago. As they dig deeper, the sleuths end up in the crosshairs between dangerous rivals.

With the Good Thief taking a respite from urban guiding readers, Chris Ewan provides readers with a taut twisting thriller with clues to what is going on cleverly placed in the suspenseful storyline. Rooting for the beleaguered dynamic duo, fans will relish this exhilarating hard to put down tale that requires discipline to avoid skipping chapters to read the climax early on due to a deep thirst to know the resolution.

Harriet Klausner

No Escape-Mary Burton

October 27, 2013

No Escape
Mary Burton
Zebra, Oct 29 2013, $7.99
ISBN: 9781420125061

It has been fourteen years since Texas Ranger Brody Winchester and psychologist Dr. Jolene Granger were married. In Austin Brody visits Jo to ask for her help. Sitting on Death Row in West Livingston serial killer Harvey Day Smith, who Brody caught, wants to give one last confession before he dies from cancer in a month or two; but only to Jo who wrote her dissertation on him.

Smith joyfully tells Granger that he has other bodies buried beside the ten he was convicted of murdering including one that explains why he selected her as his exit confessional. The psychopath also gleefully warns her that his apprentice is ready for the big time. As he fears for her life, Brody vows to keep his beloved ex-wife safe.

Reminding readers of NCIS’ “Mind Games” episode, this taut second chance at love thriller focuses on the investigation over the romance. Filled with action and plenty of twisting suspense, fans will enjoy aptly titled No Escape as a clever maniac proves a vicious chip off the old block of his deranged mentor.

Harriet Klausner

The Officer’s Prey-Armand Cabasson; translated by Michael Glencross

October 27, 2013

The Officer’s Prey
Armand Cabasson; translated by Michael Glencross
Gallic Books, Oct 15 2013, $15.95
ISBN: 9781906040826

In the summer of 1812, the French army reaches the Niemen River, the border between their ally the Grand Duchy of Warsaw and their target Russia on their march to Moscow. Emperor Napoleon’s stepson Prince Eugène de Beauharnais orders Captain Quentin Margont to see him immediately. Leaving his unit Margont reports as directed to the prince at the camp headquarters.

In nearby Tresno, Poland someone, most likely a French officer, butchered Maria Dorlovna, a woman of German and Polish ancestry. The Prince fears the reactions by their two allies and the troops once word spreads that an unknown French officer tortured and killed a woman, and murdered a military peer. Given no choice a reluctant Margont begins his investigation with limited information to identify the culprit and report the name to the Prince. He must do so discreetly to avoid scandal and with much of the evidence buried. As the army continues to head to Moscow, other similar brutal homicides of women occur.

This Napoleonic Wars mystery is a great historical whodunit that places a strong investigation inside of a vividly described over-confident unprepared French Army heading into disaster. The protagonist is fabulous as he (and others) recognize the calamity that awaits the Grand Army in Russia while seeking a murderous needle in a haystack of soldiers widely spread around.

Harriet Klausner

Peak Season For Murder-Gail Lukasik

October 24, 2013

Peak Season For Murder
Gail Lukasik
Five Star, Oct 9 2013, $25.95
ISBN 9781432827298

In Wisconsin, Door County Gazette reporter Leigh Girard covers the renovated Bayside Theater gala celebrating its 65th anniversary though her interest remains more on the disappearance of actress Danielle Moyer almost a quarter of a century ago. However, the journalist also is distracted by the death of homeless recovering alcoholic Brownie Lawrence.

Her editor Jake Stevens lectures her to ignore the Lawrence death though the late man’s friend insists he was murdered and not overly dwell on the cold case vanishing, instead he orders her to focus on the opening. Though she obeys Jake’s command, Leigh wonders what is going on at the theater after a bat invasion and several dangerous incidents. She also learns of strange activities occurring at Moyer’s abandoned cabin. Finally when actor Nate Ryan who was last in town twenty-three years ago dies, Leigh investigates.

The third Leigh Girard journalist mystery (see Destroying Angels and Death’s Door) is an entertaining mystery though too much emotional tsunami in the protagonist’s personal life detracts from the solid investigation. The fascinating look behind the scenes at a county theater adds depth to an engaging regional whodunit.

Harriet Klausner

Dorothy L. Sayers: The Complete Stories-Dorothy L. Sayers

October 24, 2013

Dorothy L. Sayers: The Complete Stories
Dorothy L. Sayers
Bourbon Street Books/HarperCollins Sep 17 2013, $19.99
ISBN: 9780062275493

This interesting anthology contains 21 Lord Peter Wimsey entries; 11 Montague Egg stories; and 12 assorted other tales. Similar in tone to his novel appearances (see Have His Carcase and Gaudy Night: A Lord Peter Wimsey Mystery with Harriet Vane), the Lord Peter tales include the fabulous whimsy Wimsey humor (see “The Entertaining Episode of the Article In Question” and The Unprincipled Affair of the Practical Joker”). Some were written with crossword puzzlers and family enablers enhancing the quirky humor (see “The Fascinating Problem With Uncle Meleager’s Will” and “The Adventurous Exploits of the Cave of Ali Baba”) and others contain unexpected Twilight Zone-like mystery spins to include “The Bibulous Business of a Matter of Taste. The wine-selling Montague Egg stories are more typical whodunits (see “Bitter Almonds”) as the protagonist is driven by a strong ethical sense of right and wrong. The Others section run the genre gauntlet with my favorites being the satires like “Scrawns’” salute to the gothics and “Nebuchadnezzar” salute to Charades the game. All the short stories provide readers with a sense of time and place and most are quite good though a few are weak; for instance “The Incredible Elopement of Lord Peter Wimsey” due to overwhelming use of happenchance. Overall this is a great compilation of the short works by one of the Great Dames of mystery.

Harriet Klausner

Killer’s Art-Mari Jungstedt

October 24, 2013

Killer’s Art
Mari Jungstedt
Stockholm Text, Oct 22 2013, $14.95
http://www.stockholmtext.com
ISBN: 9789187173455

In Visby on Gotland Island, someone batters before murdering art dealer Egon Wallin. The killer leaves the naked corpse hanging off of Dalman Gate. Detective Superintendent Anders Knutas leads the investigation assisted by Detective Inspector Karin Jacobsson into what is ruled a homicide as the corpse died elsewhere.

The brutality of the death shocks all of Sweden while the cops believe the viciousness probably means the culprit is filled with out of control rage; two more violent murders in the art world affirm that hypothesis. Due to a connection to Wallin, complicating the murder inquiry is the theft of the renowned Nils von Dardel’s “The Dying Dandy” painting. As the two cases tie together, the feeding frenzy media demand more blood except for reporter Johan Berg whose ethics leaves him and his loved ones in danger from an avenging killer.

The latest DS Knutas Swedish police procedural (see Unspoken, Unseen and The Inner Circle) is a terrific twisting tale with a moral lament in which gaming the system is an acceptable way of life as reminded by the apparent settlement between the government and Bank of America. For the most part the killer’s ire is never fully felt by readers except through the respective filters of how the media and cops portray the psychopath. Fans of Scandinavian noir will want to read this taut thriller.

Harriet Klausner