Archive for October, 2013

The Girl in Berlin-Elizabeth Wilson

October 18, 2013

The Girl in Berlin
Elizabeth Wilson
Serpent’s Tail, Oct 8 2013, $14.95
ISBN 9781846688270

In 1951, Great Britain and her Western allies are appalled by suspicions of Soviet spies in high government positions. MI5 Chief Miles Kingdom needs someone to go undercover who he can trust and has a strong socialist background as a cover because he believes a Communist mole operates inside his agency. Thus he assigns Special Branch operative Jack McGovern to masquerade as a Communist sympathizer in order to identify who betrayed the Crown.

Communist Party member Colin Harris leaves East Berlin for London. Soon after he arrives in England he visits the Wentworth’s to tell him he loves an East Berliner. When someone murders German physicist Konrad Eberhart, the police and the Intel community focus on Harris as the killer. Meanwhile Harris goes back to extract his beloved from East Berlin while McGovern follows him.

The Girl In Berlin is a terrific post WWII espionage thriller (see The Twilight Hour and War Damage) that plays out on a personal level even as major events unravel in the background (for instance the Burgess and Maclean spying betrayal). This exciting Cold War morality play focuses on the influential acting intellectually superior and untouchable while rationalizing collateral damage caused by their actions were for the good of the state (the second Iraq War comes to mind).

Harriet Klausner

Thankless In Death-.D. Robb

October 16, 2013

Thankless In Death
J.D. Robb
Putnam, Sep 17 2013, $27.95
ISBN: 9780399164422

In 2060 as Manhattanites prepare for Thanksgiving, twentyish Jerald Reinhold murders his mom using a knife. He patiently waits holding a bat for his dad to come home. After committing the homicides of his parents, Jerald flees the murder scene taking money with him

New York Police and Security Department Lieutenant Eve Dallas heads the investigation into the killings of Barbara and Carl Reinhold in their apartment. Though money was stolen, the violence indicates a crime of passion rather than a robbery that turned ugly. Thus Dallas and her team seek the couple’s missing son Jerald who has others to kill for their alleged affronts towards him.

The latest In Death futuristic police procedural (see Concealed In Death) is an engaging cat and mouse tale as the heroine knows the identity of the raging psychopath early on. Fast-paced, Dallas acts distracted perhaps because Roarke’s horde is arriving for the holidays as she makes blatant mistakes that lead readers to shout at her. Although the protagonist is not on her usual A-game, series fans still will enjoy aptly named Thankless In Death.

Harriet Klausner

Killer’s Prey-Rachel Lee

October 14, 2013

Killer’s Prey
Rachel Lee
Harlequin Romantic Suspense, Oct 1 2013, $5.50
ISBN: 9780373278411

In Minneapolis irate businessman Cranston Langdon cannot believe he was placed under electronic house arrest for his assault on psychologist Nora Loftis. He plans to kill his wife who testified against him at his hearing insisting his violence is the reason their child sees the shrink; and afterward Loftis wherever she hides for daring to survive.

Nora needs to recover from her near death experience so returns to her hometown Conard City, Wyoming. To her chagrin and gratitude, rancher-cop Jake Madison meets her at the airport. Twelve years ago, she courageously asked him to the prom and he brutally said no. To insure her safety while she heals, he takes her to his ranch. As he falls in love with her while she always unrequitedly loved him, Langdon begins his revenge.

The latest Conard County: The Next Generation (see Rocky Mountain Lawman and No Ordinary Hero) is an action-packed romantic suspense. The second chance thriller entertains readers though the exciting storyline follows the anticipated path; while Nora brings freshness with her vulnerability and her understanding of the predator.

Harriet Klausner

Lowertown-Richard A. Thompson

October 14, 2013

Richard A. Thompson
Forty Press, Oct 1 2013, $16.95
ISBN: 9781938473098

When Herman Jackson lived in Detroit, he was a bookie and racketeer. Deciding to go straight, he moved to St. Paul where he opened up a legitimate bail bonds office.

Public Defender Trish Hanover asks Herman to bail out alleged serial killer-rapist Ray Valenti from the Hennepin County jail. None of the Minneapolis bondsmen will float the bail for this vicious charmer, but Herman visits the jail where the cops tell him don’t let this psychopath back on the street. Herman tells Ray in jail and Trish in her apartment no. When he leaves Trish’s condo, someone knocks him out. Herman awakens at Regional Hospital suffering from a concussion. He soon learns he allegedly bailed out Ray; Trish has been viciously murdered; and the killer’s PD is Chris Parker not Hanover. With “Wide” Wilkie, Herman investigates how someone used his name to bail out a ruthless killer.

The latest Herman Jackson investigation (see The Fiddle Game and Frag Box) is an action-packed Twin Cities’ noir that grips the audience throughout. Fans will enjoy the antics of the wisecracking head cracking (including his own) sleuth and his sidekicks as Richard A. Thompson provides the audience with a strong mystery.

Harriet Klausner

Spider Woman’s Daughter-Anne Hillerman

October 13, 2013

Spider Woman’s Daughter
Anne Hillerman
Harper, Oct 1 2013, $25.99
ISBN 9780062270481

Navajo Nation Police Officer Bernadette Manuelito enjoys breakfast with her peers and retirees. As Manuelito talks on her cell to her husband Police Sergeant Jim Chee, she watches in horror as someone from inside a vehicle shoots retired Police Lieutenant Jim Leaphorn. He is rushed to the hospital where he remains in a coma.

Captain Howard Largo selects Chee to lead the investigation. Because she witnessed the shooting, Largo and Chee warn Manuelito to stay away from the case. Chee knows Leaphorn’s worked with the American Indian Resource Center so visits the place only to learn that the victim’s anthropologist friend Louisa Bourebonette recently vanished. Unable to remain on the bench, Manieloto bulldogs her way onto the inquiry even as fear grows the culprit will kill again.

Revising her late father’s super NNPD series, Anne Hillerman provides readers with a strong police procedural that captures the vivid locale and the cast’s essence just like her dad created them and enhances that with an engaging look at tribal history. Although the final anticipated encounter seems weak, readers will welcome back Bernie, Chee, Leaphorn and the rest.

Harriet Klausner

The Big Chihuahua-Waverly Curtis

October 11, 2013

The Big Chihuahua
Waverly Curtis
Kensington, Oct 1 2013, $7.99
ISBN: 9780758274977

In Seattle Private Investigator trainee Geri Sullivan works for Jimmy G at his nearly bankrupt Gerrard Detective Agency. Jimmy G assigns Geri and her talking (only to her) Chihuahua Pepe to extract depressed (following a miscarriage) Tammy Darling from the Dogawandan cult. Geri and Pepe meet with the client Tammy’s husband Mark who gives them a note from his wife that sounds suicidal; he also says she withdrew a large sum of money.

The apprentice and the canine enter the cult who believes that Dogawanda the dog is the true path for the enlightened. Inside the compound Channeler Crystal Star proclaims Pepe is the next incarnation of Dogawanda. However, besides Pepe’s superstar status, a homicide complicates the extraction.

The latest Barking Detective mystery (see Dial C For Chihuahua and Chihuahua Confidential) is a fabulous satirical investigative tale that amusingly mocks cult worshippers mostly by Pepe’s expert commentary yet balances the humor with insight into various wolf species. Pepe’s nose for trouble makes for a fun whodunit.

Harriet Klausner

Silencing Eve-Iris Johansen

October 10, 2013

Silencing Eve
Iris Johansen
St. Martin’s, Oct 1 2013, $27.99
ISBN: 9781250020024

Psychopath Jim Doane brilliantly executed his kidnapping plan re Taking Eve Duncan when she was alone in order for the forensic artist to reconstruct the face of his late child Kevin using his son’s skull. Filled with guilt for canceling plans to be with Eve, her loved ones (police detective Joe Quinn, her adopted child Jane MacGuire and Kendra Michaels) believe she is dead following an explosion while they were Hunting Eve. CIA agent Catherine Ling who owes Eve for finding her missing son is in shock with the news.

However animal whisperer Margaret insists otherwise. Catherine enlists Eve’s father Lee Zander the assassin to join her, Joe, Jane and Kendra in search of their beloved before Doane decides Silencing Eve is prudent.

The final entry in the latest Duncan trilogy is an exciting twisting thriller especially when the focus is on the cat and mouse deadly game between the clever maniac and title abductee’s loved ones. Subplots involving the pursuers add depth to these characters that we all already know but also slow down the prime suspense. Still this is an entertaining ending to another Eve epic.

Harriet Klausner

Secretariat Reborn-Susan Klaus

October 9, 2013

Secretariat Reborn
Susan Klaus
Oceanview, Oct 1 2013, $26.95
ISBN 9781608090945

His mother tells her son Christian Roberts that his father Hank is dying from lung cancer and wants to see him. Though estranged from his dad since his parents’ divorce, Chris drives through Ocala to Citra and on to Make A Wish farm. Hank explains to his son what happened in 1985 Kentucky before giving Chris control of his Triple Crown dream and information on a colt that happens to be a clone of Secretariat.

Though Chris loses his thoroughbred to avaricious trainer Ed Price, he begins to seek funding for his Secretariat Reborn venture. Mobster Vince Florio lends him the money, but Chris fears the price may be too exorbitant as he becomes a mule picking up illegal drugs in the Gulf.

This engaging crime caper is at its best at the track and stables as Susan Klaus provides a refreshing premise and a fabulous lead. The mobsters come out of casting 101 and the added tsuris of the protagonist’s lunatic ex-girlfriend detracts from the otherwise very entertaining horseracing storyline.

Harriet Klausner

Justice For Dallas-Mark Rusin and Priscilla Barton

October 9, 2013

Justice For Dallas
Mark Rusin and Priscilla Barton
Loop O Press, Oct 1 2013, $14.95
ISBN: 9781490399706

In 1986, Iron Cobra Vallejo lead biker Butch Crowley and his brothers enjoy a three day party. Afterward they bike to Fort Bragg in Mendocino County. There they brutally kill former member Billy Derhammer, his wife, teenage son and five years old daughter.

Law enforcement from several jurisdictions unites to work the vicious homicides in which the violence leads to Butch. ATF agent Marko Novak is on the case, but personalizes it when he takes a photo of the youngest victim Dallas and promises her justice. The case makes little progress because everyone including bike members and his woman are afraid of ruthless Butch’s brutality.

Justice for Dallas is a terrific police procedural as readers get inside the head of a cop working a particularly violent case. Marko is a fabulous protagonist who turns to the Vegas casinos to relax from a difficult inquiry. Although the transitions between the past and present are choppy, fans will appreciate Marko’s efforts to take down Butch.

Harriet Klausner

The Chatelet Apprentice-Jean-Francois Parot

October 8, 2013

The Chatelet Apprentice
Jean-Francois Parot
Gallic Books, Sep 24 2013, $15.95
ISBN: 9781906040062

In 1761 twentyish Nicholas Le Floch arrives in Paris with a letter from his godfather asking Lieutenant General of Police Monsieur De Sartine to hire the lad. No one, not even the Paris magistrate, who wants to remain employed, ignores a request from a Marquis and besides De Ranreuil is a friend so Nicholas becomes a police officer. Nicholas knows his godfather wanted him out of Brittany; after he and De Ranreuil’s daughter Isabelle declared their love for each other, but wonders about the older man’s enigmatic response.

After fifteen months in Paris working cases discreetly, De Sartine shows how much he trusts Le Floch when he assigns him to investigate prudently the disappearance of Police Commissioner Lardin. Assisting Le Floch on the inquiry is Police Inspector Bordeau.

The Chatelet Apprentice is a fabulous eighteenth century French police procedural that brings to life pre-Revolutionary Paris through the eyes of a resolute honest newcomer. The support cast serves as foibles for the protagonist or to anchor time and place while the final denouements re the case comes across too passive and the hero’s personal mystery seems obvious early on. Still sub-genre fans will appreciate this enjoyable historical as the storyline, for the most part, achieves the Gallic vision of “The best of French in English.”

Harriet Klausner