Archive for November, 2013

Cries of the Lost-Chris Knopf

November 12, 2013

Cries of the Lost
Chris Knopf
Permanent, Nov 12 2013, $28.00
http://www.thepermanentpress.com
ISBN 9781579623326

Still recovering from injuries he received during an assault on his Chilean wife Florencia Etxarte that left her dead and him temporarily in a coma, market researcher Arthur Cathcart persuaded his sister the doctor to declare him dead so he can go undercover to investigate the murder. What he so far finds out shocks him as his late spouse’s illegal financial activities include embezzlement and off-shore accounts leaving him to wonder who he married (see Dead Anyway).

In a bank in the Caymans, Cathcart and his new girlfriend Natsumi Fitzgerald obtain the contents from Florencia’s safe deposit box. When the pair leave, thugs attack them. Soon using a zillion disguises, a quadrillion gadgets and his uncanny ability as a finder (no relation to the TV show), Cathcart and Fitzgerald play lethal chess with dangerous people associated with Florencia’s Basque DNA.

The second Cathcart amateur sleuthing is a fast-paced investigative tale as thugs chase after the lead couple. Though there is a déjà vu feel to the suspenseful storyline and Cathcart has more gizmos than Inspector Gadget, readers will appreciate this action-packed international thriller as one cannot help but to root for the hero and his sidekick to come out of this deadly life and death game triumphant.

Harriet Klausner

An Old Betrayal-Charles Finch

November 12, 2013

An Old Betrayal
Charles Finch
Minotaur, Nov 12 2013, $25.99
ISBN: 9781250011619

In 1875 Lord John Dallington suffers from a cold so is unable to meet a potential client at Gilbert’s Restaurant in Charring Crossing Station at 8:00. After showing his former sleuthing mentor Charles Lenox the unsigned note, he asks his teacher to go in his place. Charles concludes from the note that the writer has a train to catch soon after 8:35 as the author states he will wait for no more than thirty-five minutes.

Bored with being the Parliament’s junior Lord of the Treasury even with a critical vote on the Factory Act that he supports coming up, and enjoying though embarrassed to say so his time with his wife Lady Jane and their toddler, Lenox shamefully relishes a case. He enters the restaurant seeking a man with a striped black umbrella dining alone. When a male enters late, Charles assumes he is the client until abruptly a woman runs out of Gilbert’s; as Lenox realizes his gender blunder. Charles seeks the frightened female to learn how he may help her.

The seventh Charles Lenox Victorian mystery (see A Beautiful Blue Death and The September Society) is an entertaining twisting historical. Filled with tidbits that anchor the era (like the Factory Act debate), series fans will enjoy the return of married with child Charles and his family and friends as Lenox (and readers) appreciate his complicated investigation made convoluted by his false gender assumption.

Harriet Klausner

Sins of the Flesh-

November 12, 2013

Sins of the Flesh
Colleen McCullough
Simon & Schuster, Nov 12 2013, $26.00
ISBN 9781476735337

In August 1969, Holloman, Connecticut police Captain Carmine Delmonico is on vacation with his family. However, crime does not stop because the boss is away. Someone severs the testicles and starves to death a man; a second male in the same brutal state is found soon afterward and a connection to four other vicious homicides is made.

HPD Police Lieutenant Abe Goldberg and Sergeant Delia Carstairs contact Carmine, who with his wife Desdemona’s permission, rushes back to Holloman. The cops begin a desperate search for a male-loathing psychopath before more men are violently castrated and murdered.

The fifth Delmonico 1960s police procedural (see The Prodigal Son, Naked Cruelty and Too Many Murders) is an engaging historical investigative tale in which time and place are anchored by technology though the college campus seems quiet for tumultuous 1969. The set-up is fabulous as the police hunt an insane lethal predator. Colleen McCullough provides her fans with a strong Connecticut serial killer mystery.

Harriet Klausner

Deadly Catch: A Mac McClellan Mystery-. Michael Helms

November 11, 2013

Deadly Catch: A Mac McClellan Mystery
E. Michael Helms
Prometheus/Seventh Street, Nov 12 2013, $15.95
ISBN 9781616148676

After nearly a quarter of a century as a U.S. Marine, Mac McClellan retires. He heads to the Florida panhandle for some R& R before deciding what to do as a civilian. While fishing, Mac hooks a rotted corpse.

The vet later learns the victim is affluent teenager Madison Lynn Harper. Meanwhile marijuana is found on the boat Mac has leased. Maddie’s uncle Sheriff Bo Pickron offers him a deal he cannot afford to refuse if he wants to remain a breathing free man. Bo tasks Mac to go undercover in order to find the killer of his niece and why her. With help from marina employee Kate Bell, Mac works the case hoping to escape from the mess in which someone cleverly has framed him for the homicide and for drug dealing.

The first Mac McClellan mystery is an exciting regional whodunit with a vivid backdrop and a fabulous beleaguered protagonist. Although there is too much passiveness especially by a marine, fans will root for the sleuth-drafted veteran as he battles against influence targeting him to take the fall.

Harriet Klausner

The Misfortune Cookie-Sara J. Henry

November 11, 2013

A Cold and Lonely Place
Sara J. Henry
Crown/Broadway Books, Nov 5 2013, $15.00
ISBN: 9780307718426

On a gig at New York’s Lake Placid’s annual Winter Carnival, reporter Troy Chance covers the ice cutters on Saranac Lake in the Adirondacks. As she takes photos, she and others notice a corpse under the frozen water. To her shock, Troy realizes the dead man is her roommate Jessamyn’s boyfriend Tobin Winslow.

Troy knows that the police will be interested in the philandering victim’s girlfriend and soon gets the opportunity to help Jessamyn when her editor assigns her to do a piece on the late Tobin. As she looks into his life with the assistance of his grieving sister Win, Troy wonders why an affluent Connecticut blueblood chose to live in the rural Adirondacks.

The second Troy Chance journalist investigation (see Learning to Swim) is an enjoyable regional mystery with a strong sense of place as fans will feel we are attending the Winter Carnival. The protagonist holds the engaging storyline together though a romantic subplot feels more like an unnecessary requirement. Still readers will relish this band of sisters investigating the murder.

Harriet Klausner

Southside-Michael Krikorian

November 10, 2013

Southside
Michael Krikorian
Oceanview, Nov 5 2013, $26.95
ISBN 9781608090556

L.A. Times reporter Michael Lyons works the street beat with his prime focus on members of gangs as he has the uncanny ability to put a human face on these seemingly interchangeable dangerous miscreants. Near his office, Michael stops at his favorite haunt the Redwood Saloon where affectionately he is known as “Hit’n’Run” for his frequent quickies. However, this time when he leaves the bar in daylight, someone shoots Lyons.

While he recovers from his wound, his journalist peers form a pool as to whom the trigger is and why. LAPD fails to find the culprit while the L.A. Times editorials rip the cops for incompetency and complacency until the police release a tape in which Michael eloquently explains the truth of being shot to a gang-member. While the shooter begins targeting other victims including the younger brother of incarcerated gangbanger Big Evil, a fired Lyons starts an investigation in the grim impoverished Southside.

Those who live on the means streets of LA own this dark graphic urban thriller; as the investigation highlights their grim existence. Fast-paced throughout, readers will appreciate entering the Lyons’ Den; escorted not by the late great New York columnist Leonard Lyons, but by a disgraced Los Angeles reporter working the gang circuit.

Harriet Klausner

Cassandra: A Delphic Woman Novel- Kerry Greenwood

November 9, 2013

Cassandra: A Delphic Woman Novel
Kerry Greenwood
Poisoned Pen, Nov 5 2013. $24.95
ISBN: 9781464202056

Aphrodite challenges her brother Apollo to a mortal manipulation contest. Apollo angrily curses Trojan Princess Cassandra for her rejection of him as no one spurns a god without wrathful repercussions especially when he is engaged in a contest with his sister. He enables Cassandra to foretell the future while Aphrodite gifts Diomenes with healing hands.

Cassandra foresees King Agammemnon of Mycenae winning the seize at Troy coming home after years away triumphant. She also sees his grieving angry wife Queen Clytemnestra, loathing her spouse for sacrificing their daughter to the Gods before he left for the war and abetted by her lover Aegisthus murdering the monarch. As the events unfold at Troy just as she envisions, Cassandra’s two lovers help her and endangered siblings Electra and Orestes flee from the royal wrath but not from deity rage; while Diomenes serves the army as a healer.

The second Delphic Woman (see Medea) is a strong retelling of Cassandra just prior to and during the combat at Troy. Cassandra is a wonderful lead but pales next to the more intense saga of Medea. Still Kerry Greenwood entertains her audience with the “real” story of Cassandra cursed to see the future.

Harriet Klausner

Dead Money-Dean Wesley Smith

November 9, 2013

Dead Money
Dean Wesley Smith
WMG, Jun 13 2013, $15.99
http://www.wmgpublishing.com
ISBN 9780615824901

In Idaho, poker champ Carson Hill dies when his small plane crashes. A person detonated an explosion in the plane’s engine while watching the crash but cannot retrieve the coveted key from the victim. Also in Idaho, on a whitewater trip Carson’s estranged son Jonathan “Doc” Hill learns from his business partner and BFF Fleet Korte that his father died. They tell the former’s grandfather Ace who asks them to learn the truth.

Someone hires Grove to dig up the grave of great poker champion Jeff Taylor who was murdered in an unsolved case twelve years ago. The smell is overwhelming in spite of the really good condition of the remains and worse to Grove is the gross touching of the shirt to remove a key from the deceased’s neck. Grove goes to Vegas to deliver the key to his client for a sizable fee. Steve Harrison the client takes the key while musing one down eight players with keys to go before killing Grove. As Doc seeks what happened to his father after the Big Game, he finds a connection to a 1982 game and the White House.

Though the premise should be over the top of the Central Idaho Mountains, Dean Wesley Smith draws a royal straight flush by making the hand he deals readers seem possible with this exhilarating political poker thriller. With his DNA containing the poker gene, the protagonist, accompanied by his loyal sidekick, raises the stakes, bluffs and calls his way in a Dead Money game in which the players ante is their life.

Harriet Klausner

Rituals: A Faye Longchamp Mystery-Mary Anna Evans

November 9, 2013

Rituals: A Faye Longchamp Mystery
Mary Anna Evans
Poisoned Pen, Nov 5 2013, $24.95
ISBN 9781464201691

Accompanied by her adopted teenage daughter Amande, archeologist Faye Longchamp works at the Rosebower, New York museum helping the curator classify documentation and artifacts in a town known for spiritualists and radical religious reformists. The mother and daughter team sift through decades of donations that run the gamut from incredible finds to disgusting junk with the latter much more abundant than the former.

Affluent medium Tilda Armistead provides the two rational Floridians with a reading that leaves the pair stunned with what she says as there is no way plausible she could know this except with talking to them or the dead. Not long after the Longchamp visit, someone sets on fire Tilda’s home; she fails to escape the blaze dying from smoke inhalation. Faye investigates the arson murder uncovering several people with strong motives for killing Tilda. At the same time, Faye ponders out of character strange behavior and greedy rivals thriving for power and money related to spiritualism, the museum and the arson.

The eighth Faye Longchamp mystery (see Strangers and Plunder) is a great whodunit with a touch of paranormal whimsy (as Sherlock Homes in the Sign of the Four says: “…when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth”) enhancing the strong investigation into the world of mediums. Readers will relish the archeologist and her able assistant probing the super spiritualist support cast and those not contacting the dead.

Harriet Klausner

Hidden Heritage: A Lottie Albright Mystery-Charlotte Hinger

November 9, 2013

Hidden Heritage: A Lottie Albright Mystery
Charlotte Hinger
Poisoned Pen, Nov 5 2013, $24.95
ISBN 9781464200762

In the middle of the night in Carlton County, Kansas, a corpse floats in the “shit pit” at the feed yard. Someone murdered Victor Diaz, who apparently had no known reason for being at this locale especially at two in the morning.

Sheriff Sam Abbott assigns Undersheriff Lottie Albright undercover at the feed yard where she learns of felonious activities tied to her boss. While she hides her current assignment from her concerned family, Lottie also rejects the idea that Sam is corrupt. KBI Agent Frank Dimon thinks Sam’s going bad is plausible as he believes the homicide is more than just a local murder. Also a historian Lottie realizes that the victim is the great-grandson of still living Dona Francisca Diaz, who developed the western part of the state. Dona Francisca explains to Lottie the motive for Victor’s homicide can be found in historical documents she gives to the undersheriff.

The third Lottie Albright police procedural (see Deadly Descent and Lethal Lineage) is a leisurely paced whodunit that uses Jayhawk State history as the key element in the protagonist’s investigation. Although the overly included insight into the cattle industry detracts from the mystery, readers will enjoy Lottie seeking the homicidal Hidden Heritage.

Harriet Klausner