Archive for October, 2013

Severed Trust-Margaret Daley

October 22, 2013

Severed Trust
Margaret Daley
Abington, Oct 15 2013, $14.99
ISBN: 9781426777936

In Summerton, Texas high school students BFFs Lexie Alexander and Kelly Winston attend a pill popping party. Accompanying them is Kelly’s boyfriend Jared Montgomery. After the party ends, Jared is found dead from a prescription pill overdose.

Lexie’s uncle Texas Ranger Ethan Stone investigates Jared’s death and that of two more students from illegally-obtained prescription drug overdoses to try to uncover the source. Petrified Kelly fears telling her parents, her BFF, the law or her teacher Sadie Thompson what she knows. By the time she realizes her error she is dead in what looks like a suicide, but Lexie thinks otherwise. As Ethan gathers evidence that an illegal prescription drug gang sells to local teens including his niece, he realizes he must keep Sadie and Lexie safe from this vicious ring.

The latest Men of the Texas Rangers inspirational thriller (see Scorned Justice) is a fabulous romantic police procedural that focuses on the illegal prescription drug usage epidemic including looks at “safe zones” like theft inside a nursing home and sales inside a school. Action-packed yet with a strong awareness message, Severed Trust is a thrilling wake up call.

Harriet Klausner

The Last Winter of Dani Lancing-.D. Viner

October 22, 2013

The Last Winter of Dani Lancing
P.D. Viner
Crown, Oct 8 2013, $26.00
ISBN: 9780804136822

Two decades ago in Durham, someone raped and murdered British college student Dani Lancing. The case remains unsolved but impacted the twentyish victim’s parents as neither of the separated pair moved on with their grief. Unable to cope with her death, Dani’s father Jim lives with his child’s ghost who does not remember the deadly assault on her; while her avenging seeking mother Patricia vigilantly searches for her daughter’s killer in a compulsion that will end with either the psychopath dead or her death. Also affected by Dani’s death is her childhood friend Tom “The Sad Man” Bevans; who after all this time still suffers from unrequited love and a sad obsession that rivals that of Patricia. He knows her death motivated him to become a cop in order to help victims and their loved one with closure.

Now a Detective Superintendent, Tom Bevans applies modern forensic technology to evidence gathered at the homicide scene twenty years ago. He informs Dani’s parents he plans to open the cold case, which triggers responses from Jim who refuses to lose his daughter for a second time; Patricia who renews her vendetta to kill the killer; Tom who hopes to move on; and those who prefer the murder remain unsolved.

The Last Winter of Dani Lancing is a fascinating character driven police procedural that focuses on what happens to the victim’s loved ones after her brutal murder. The flashbacks enhance understanding Dani without the rose colored glasses of her friend and parents as well as what drives the grieving trio, but also detract from the present day suspense. Still readers will enjoy this complex tale as Dani sums up: “It’s lonely being dead.”

Harriet Klausner

Far Shore-Traci L. Slatton

October 22, 2013

Far Shore
Traci L. Slatton
Parvati Press, Oct 10 2013, $16.99
ISBN: 9780989023276

The white miasma Mists killed billions when the metals were sucked out of humans during the fatal Day and aftermath. In Edmonton, Arthur saved Emma, her youngest daughter and several orphans when he dispatched the Mists and brought them into his safe camp. Emma assumed her husband Haywood and their oldest daughter Beth were dead; she and Arthur soon become an entry until her family members arrive at the camp (see Fallen). Not long afterward, raiders abduct Beth, but her parents rescue her (see Cold Light).

Adversarial psychopath Alexei abducts and tortures Arthur. A concerned Emma wants to mount a rescue, but Haywood demands she choose between him (and their kids he swears will go with him) and his rival. Heartbroken Emma feels she has no choice except to save Arthur and through him what is left of the dwindling safe sectors, but fears failure in finding, saving and healing him.

The third After the Day apocalyptic thriller is a terrific twisting tale as the lead quartet individually deals with their personal demons while time runs out for a seemingly dying world in its last throes. Fast-paced, readers will appreciate this super finish to a strong fantasy as hope fades with the final flickering of love or perhaps that tiny unsteady light reflects a new beginning.

Harriet Klausner

Alligator Man-James Sheehan

October 21, 2013

Alligator Man
James Sheehan
Center Street, Oct 8 2013, $23.00
ISBN: 9781455508648

After his company Dynatron went bankrupt destroying the lives of 20,000 employees and their families, and decimating investors, gazillionaire CEO Roy Johnson retired to Gladestown, Florida with a hundred million dollar Golden Parachute package. The Feds sent his accountant to prison for three years, but Roy and the rest of management proved uncatchable.

Roy’s wife Sylvia reports him missing to County Sheriff’s only local employee Carlisle Buchanan. On a hunch, Carlisle goes to the Everglades where he finds pieces of clothing that apparently belong to Roy. This leads to many locals assuming an alligator grabbed Roy during his nightly intoxicated stroll. Sheriff Cousins assigns Carlisle to work with detective Vern Fleming on the missing “Alligator Man” case. High school student Freddie Jenkins swears to Carlisle that he saw a hit-and-run and another witness claims to have overheard bar talk re a murder. Evidence soon points to angry ex-Dynatron employee Billy Fuller as the Alligator Man killer. Meanwhile Kate Parker calls lawyer Kevin Wylie with news that his estranged father Tom is in the hospital recovering from cancer surgery. Though almost three decades have passed since his mother, accompanied by their eight years old son Kevin, left his dad; he and his father defend Billy.

The Alligator Man is an entertaining legal thriller with roots in the capitalistic avarice underbelly of the Great Recession. Although the key cast is either pure of heart goodness or dark of heart wickedness and a twist improbable, readers will enjoy the reconciliation of father and son lawyers as they defend the accused in a Florida court.

Harriet Klausner

Rasputin’s Shadow-Raymond Khoury

October 21, 2013

Rasputin’s Shadow
Raymond Khoury
Dutton, Oct 8 2013, $27.95
ISBN 9780525953135

In 1916 in the Russian Empire’s Ural Mountains, miners suddenly go berserk and kill each other. Not long after the insanity began, an explosion leaves all the miners dead. Rasputin tells his horrified scientist companion, who trembles with what they wrought, that they saved their people.

In present day Queens, Russian embassy official Ilya Shislenko falls to his death from his high rise apartment. FBI special agent Sean Reilly investigates the death that he believes was a homicide. At the same time, Reilly also works the case of high school physics teacher Leo Sokolov who recently vanished. The Russian connection has Reilly seek a link between his two inquiries, but he remains ignorant that Sokolov possesses a gizmo his late ancestor made for Rasputin that radically changes a person’s normal behavior.

Although the premise seems over the top of the Ural Mountains, the latest Templar tale (see The Devil’s Elixir) is an action-packed save the world from a weapon of pandemic mass destruction thriller. Fast-paced, fans will enjoy Reilly’s in your face escapades even though the suspenseful storyline flows as expected.

Harriet Klausner

The Case of the Love Commandos-Tarquin Hall

October 20, 2013

The Case of the Love Commandos
Tarquin Hall
Simon & Schuster, Oct 8 2013, $24.99
ISBN 9781451613261

In India Ram and Tulsi meet and fall in love. However, Tulsi’s father Mishra objects to the relationship as he and his daughter are upper class Thakur and Ram is a lowly Dalit Untouchable. Mishra threatens to kill Ram if he continues to pursue Tulsi.

The desperate pair asks the Love Commandos, who assist star-crossed couples overcoming caste differences impeding their marrying; they plan to help them elope. However, before they can wed, Ram is kidnapped. Love Commando Laxmi talks with her boss at the Most Private Investigators Ltd, Puri; who agrees to find the missing groom. Puri soon learns that someone murdered Ram’s mother with Mishra as the prime suspect. Feeling the resolution too simple, Puri digs deeper; while his Mummy goes after a person she believes is a pickpocket about to commit a deadlier crime; and his operative Facecream works undercover.

India’s Most Private Investigator’s latest case (see The Case of the Deadly Butter Chicken) is a fabulous investigative tale that looks deep at the remnants of the Caste system in which money has dented the rigidity but it remains strong otherwise. The engaging storyline rotates between Puri, Mummy and Facecream with the first being a terrific insightful whodunit, the second comedic relief (except if you are “Chubby” Puri or her suspect), and the third well done but not at the same level.

Harriet Klausner

Fixed-L.A. Kornetsky

October 20, 2013

L.A. Kornetsky
Gallery, Oct 8 2013, $15.00
ISBN: 9781451671650

In Seattle, private concierge business owner Ginny Mallard enjoys stopping at Mary’s Bar & Grill. Bartender Teddy Tonica likes when Ginny and her shar-pei Georgie visit though the canine relaxes outside.

College student Mora Rees works as a volunteer at the Lifehouse animal shelter. She is concerned when $2000 vanishes; as the missing money could impact the animal shelter’s grants since all donations must be accounted for. Having read about Gin and Tonic in the newspaper (see Collared), she comes to Mary’s to persuade them to investigate the stolen funds. Gin accepts the case while Tonic reluctantly agrees to keep her out of trouble. As they interview staff and scrutinize records, Georgie and Penny the bar cat who adopted Tonic as his pet discuss how to help the humans solve the case so that there mates at the shelter have a home.

The second Gin & Tonic cozy is a lighthearted leisurely-paced anthropomorphist whodunit with life in a cheerful neighborhood bar in many ways superseding the sleuthing. The lead humans and their animal owners are unique engaging leads while the investigation is mostly low-keyed.

Harriet Klausner

NightZone-Steven F. Havill

October 20, 2013

Steven F. Havill
Poisoned Pen, Oct 8 2013, $24.95
ISBN 9781464200700

Retired Posadas County Sheriff Bill Gastner can’t sleep so he goes outside to enjoy the view of the night sky. The septuagenarian notices a fire and that the power in the area is out. He calls it in and heads to the blaze approximately 20 miles from the mesa where he was stargazing. Once there, Gastner finds a corpse and carved up wooden power-line supports.

Although he knows better than to get involved, Gastner makes inquiries. A cop’s murder leads him to believe the arson, vandalism and two deaths relate to local rancher Miles Waddell’s dream of Nightzone; the astronomy-based theme park resort that many New Mexican environmentalists allied with anti-federalists oppose.

The key to this super Posadas County mystery (see One Perfect Shot) is the protagonist acts like a person who is seventy-four years old as he tires much quicker than when he was the sheriff. The key characters (besides family) are divided over the Nightzone development, but each group is populated by real people instead of casting 101 stereotypes. Steven F. Havill writes a strong timely investigative tale.

Harriet Klausner

Death on Demand-Paul Thomas

October 20, 2013

Death on Demand
Paul Thomas
Bitter Lemon, Oct 8 2013, $14.95
ISBN 9781908524171

Six years ago, friends Adrian, Christopher, Fraser and Jonathan go on vacation together as they have done every year for fifteen years regardless of family and work needs. This time they go to Waiheke Island where they discuss solving their personal problems by hiring a hit man.

Three months later, a car kills Joyce while she jogged in St. Heliers, Auckland. Not long after that a mugger slices the throat of Roger in Ponsonrby, Auckland. Nine months ago, Evelyn is murdered in Auckland. As more deaths occur to include an undercover cop, Detective Sergeant Tito Ihaka investigates what appears to be a serial killer for hire; at the same time Auckland Central PD wants to exile the Maori police officer allegedly for his unruly behavior and appearance.

The latest Ihaka New Zealand police procedural (see Guerilla Season) is a fantastic investigative tale. The taut leisurely-paced storyline is filled with twists as the always in trouble with the brass protagonist works the case and deals with racism from his peers and superiors in his brusque manner.

Harriet Klausner

Inherit The Dead-assorted authors

October 18, 2013

Inherit The Dead
Jonathan Santlofer, Stephen L. Carter, Marcia Clark, Heather Graham, Charlaine Harris, Sarah Weinman, Bryan Gruley, Alafair Burke, John Connolly, James Grady, Ken Bruen, Lisa Unger, S.J. Rozan, Dana Stabenow, Val McDermid,, Mary Higgins Clark, C.J. Box, Max Allan Collins, Mark Billingham and Lawrence Block
Touchstone, Oct 8 2013, $25.99
ISBN: 9781451684759

Affluent Upper East Side socialite Julia Drusilla hires disgraced ex-NYPD cop turned private investigator Pericles Christo to find her daughter Angelina Loki, who when she soon turns twenty-one will inherit a large sum of money if she signs the documents on her birthday. The fee she offers him is exorbitant as the case seems simple, but Perry knows his client can afford it.

As he begins his search for the missing Angel, Perry runs into duplicity from the young woman’s loved ones. Angel’s father, her boyfriend and her BFF outright lie or omit something critical; and his instincts scream his client is too. As he investigates, his inner homicide detective radar warns Perry that Angel may be in peril. Desperately trying to find the missing woman before she is hurt or dead, Christo becomes a target too as the inquiry takes him to the Hamptons and Brooklyn.

Inherit the Dead is a fabulous collaboration in which each author provides a chapter that brings their particular genre strength to the mix though that can be somewhat distracting. Still surprisingly smoothly integrated and filled with terse twists, fans will enjoy this entertaining noir in which “… royalties in excess of editor and contributor compensation to Safe Horizon, the leading victim assistance agency in the country.”

Harriet Klausner