Archive for January, 2014

Road Kill-Jan Coffey

January 29, 2014

Road Kill
Jan Coffey
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, Dec 30 2013, $16.99
ISBN: 9781494847883

In 1997 Connecticut, teenage newcomer Lacey Watkins attends a party only to watch in horror as some of the others kill a girl. She testifies against them, but her life is in shambles so she leaves town.

Sixteen years later, Gavin MacFadyen attends the funeral of his former New Haven Police Department partner Terri Watkins, who was killed in a suspicious hit and run. Grieving Gavin thinks thirty-eight years old Terri had everything going for her until her sibling came back to town. Lacey also mourns the loss of the one person who abidingly loved her regardless of what trouble she caused. NHPD begins to look at Lacey as a suspect in her sister’s death. Feeling he owes Terri and attracted to Lacey, Gavin offers to protect her while investigating the vehicular homicide of her sibling and several other apparently related murders.

The First Gavin MacFadyen investigation is a strong whodunit as the evidence implicates Lacey while even her new hero wonders if his libido fogs up his brain. Fast-paced, readers will appreciate this entertaining mystery sprinkled with red herrings as Gavin tries to keep Lacey safe from a persistent killer with a powerful vendetta motivator.

Harriet Klausner

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Finders, Keepers, Losers, Weepers-Robert S. Levinson

January 28, 2014

Finders, Keepers, Losers, Weepers
Robert S. Levinson
Five Star, Jan 22 2014, $25.95
ISBN 9781432827816

In Indianapolis, rock and roll superstar Nat Axelrod has consensual sex with groupie Mae Jean Minter when her father arrives and accused him of violent rape before shooting the music legend. Nat survives the chest wound, but his career crashes when he is convicted of rape. Nat’s manager Danny Manings’ wife dies due to a drug overdose and his career shattered when his top gun began serving concurrent twenty-five year sentences. Nat dies in prison.

A decade later, reporter Laurent Connart investigates Nat’s fall from grace but uncovers evidence that the rock legend was innocent and shockingly free and alive. While the intrepid journalist searches for the truth, Danny and Nat seek respective second chances along different paths; with the deranged singer seeking vengeance and the manager hoping to launch a potential new star Patrice Malloy. All converge in Los Angeles.

Finders, Keepers, Losers, Weepers is an entertaining look at the underbelly of the music industry though none of the key players come across as likeable; which adds depth to the dark character-driven storyline. Readers will appreciate Robert S. Levinson’s rousing Rock and Roll thriller; as the women need plenty of contraception with their libidos as enticing weapons and the men need to prove they are the most kick ass.

Harriet Klausner

Notorious-Allison Brennan

January 26, 2014

Notorious
Allison Brennan
Minotaur, Mar 25 2014, $24.99
ISBN 9781250035059

Motivated by the unsolved death of close friend Lindy Ames when both attended Atherton Prep several years ago, renowned New York City-based reporter Maxine Revere works cold cases. Though never arrested the only suspect in the Ames murder classmate Kevin O’Neal commits suicide. Returning to her hometown of Atherton, California for the funeral of the man who was her high school best friend until he lied to her (and others) re his alibi; Max decides it is past time to work on the one inquiry close to her heart. Ironically, she muses this is a place where she is unwelcome even by her family since she initially supported Kevin in spite of his becoming the pariah.

Upon arrival at San Francisco International Airport with her assistant David Kane who is visiting his daughter, elderly Penny and Henry Hoffman recognize her and plead with her to look into the death of their grandson Jason a construction worker at Atherton Prep. In town Kevin’s sister Jodie insists her sibling was murdered and asks Max to investigate. Ignoring the police insistence she not make any inquires, Max looks into the two recent deaths and the cold case that haunts her.

With a nod to the Cold Justice TV show, the first Max Revere investigation is a fast-paced whodunit that has the protagonist working three inquiries tied to Atherton Prep over the objections of the cops, her family and most of the affluent residents. Although the enjoyable storyline is straightforward, readers will enjoy tough Max as the clues lead to the one place she prays it never goes.

Harriet Klausner

Crossbones Yard-Kate Rhodes

January 20, 2014

Crossbones Yard
Kate Rhodes
Minotaur, Jan 21 2014, $14.99
ISBN: 9781250038197

In London, psychiatrist Alice Quentin feels she became a good therapist because she understands the mental anguish and suffering of her patients as she deals with some of the same personal phobias; having been abused as a child including lock ups in dark closets. Alice the child has become very judgmental, condemning and unforgiving as Alice the audit; her parents know this first-hand. That does not prevent Southwark Detective Chief Inspector Burns employing Dr. Quentin as a consultant to determine how closely the police need to monitor the soon to be released (by the courts) convicted killer of a hooker.

While jogging at night in Southwark, Alice stops for a breather at historical Crossbones Cemetery. She notices a decomposed naked female corpse with crosses made by a knife all over the body. Not long after that gruesome discovery, near the van owned by her schizophrenic drug addict brother, Alice finds a second dead nude female prostitute with the same etchings on the skin as the first victim. The police provide protection to the psychiatrist due to death threats while more women are murdered in the same horrid way that was used by incarcerated Marie Benson and her deceased husband Ray.

The first Quentin case is a dark macabre serial killer thriller made fresh by an emotionally scarred heroine and an extremely weird over the top of Big Ben support cast. Readers who appreciate a grim whodunit starring a very flawed protagonist will want to jog Southwark with aptly named Alice.

Harriet Klausner

Operation Mockingbird-Linda Baletsa

January 20, 2014

Operation Mockingbird
Linda Baletsa
Spratt & Co. LLC, Nov 14 2013, $14.99
http://www.lindabaletsa.com
ISBN: 9780989446105

Miami Chronicle reporter Matt Connelly exposed the excesses of Commissioner Suarez before the pair got into a public brawl that ended the already shaky relationship the journalist had with his girlfriend Dana Fried. Suarez’s affluent political connections also harm Connelly’s position at the paper so he decides to cover the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan but outside of the Defense Department’s embed program. After a stint in Fallujah he is in Kandahar when the Americans attack an alleged Taliban weapons stronghold killing many innocents and injuring Matt before the enemy captures him. A local helps him escape.

Back in Florida, his editor Kagan warns him the media has changed while he played war correspondent as you comply, die or quit. He further explains the paper’s new owner Armstrong Media demands upbeat compliant stories including fictional accounts treated as real news and not war horrors exposing the Pentagon propaganda like the false weapons claim that led to Mike’s shoulder injury and capture. Mike risks his life trying to tell the truth to an America not interested in honest reporting of dark news.

With a nod to the Yellow Journalism of the early twentieth century, Linda Baletsa provides a powerful exposé of the duplicity to a war-weary and scandal-scarred public by the industrial-government-media complex. Although heavy-handed with too much explanation (in fairness as expected by a twenty-first century version of Sinclair Lewis’ The Jungle), fans will relish Operation Mockingbird as those of us who care about the Fourth Estate providing real news (to include the depressing) are “Holding Out for a Hero” (by Bonnie Tyler) like idealistic Iron Mike.

Harriet Klausner

Fear Nothing-Lisa Gardner

January 19, 2014

Fear Nothing
Lisa Gardner
Dutton, Jan 7 2014, $27.95
ISBN: 9780525953081

Forty years ago Harry Day murdered several prostitutes; but before the cops arrested him his wife killed him. His two young daughters grow up without their parents. The oldest Shana committed a homicide at fourteen that incarcerated her for life while three years younger Adeline, only a baby when her father died, became a pain therapist while ironically suffering from congenital insensitivity to pain.

Having fallen down stairs while on the job, Boston Homicide Detective D.D. Warren uses Adeline as her therapist. Ironically, when a serial killer copying Day’s M.O. begins a deadly spree, Warren leads the investigation. Warren visits Shana at the Massachusetts Correctional Institute where she has been a resident for two and half decades and talks with Adeline to learn what they know, if anything useful, about the Rose Killer.

The seventh D.D. Warren police procedural (see Love You More and Catch Me) is a powerful tense investigative thriller that rotates perspective between the three women although the sisters steal the show of this aptly titled tale. Fast-paced throughout, sub-genre fans will want to read Lisa Gardner’s homage to V.C. Andrews.

Harriet Klausner

Fear Nothing-Lisa Gardner

January 19, 2014

Fear Nothing
Lisa Gardner
Dutton, Jan 7 2014, $27.95
ISBN: 9780525953081

Forty years ago Harry Day murdered several prostitutes; but before the cops arrested him his wife killed him. His two young daughters grow up without their parents. The oldest Shana committed a homicide at fourteen that incarcerated her for life while three years younger Adeline, only a baby when her father died, became a pain therapist while ironically suffering from congenital insensitivity to pain.

Having fallen down stairs while on the job, Boston Homicide Detective D.D. Warren uses Adeline as her therapist. Ironically, when a serial killer copying Day’s M.O. begins a deadly spree, Warren leads the investigation. Warren visits Shana at the Massachusetts Correctional Institute where she has been a resident for two and half decades and talks with Adeline to learn what they know, if anything useful, about the Rose Killer.

The seventh D.D. Warren police procedural (see Love You More and Catch Me) is a powerful tense investigative thriller that rotates perspective between the three women although the sisters steal the show of this aptly titled tale. Fast-paced throughout, sub-genre fans will want to read Lisa Gardner’s homage to V.C. Andrews.

Harriet Klausner

Mayhem-Sarah Pinborough

January 19, 2014

Mayhem
Sarah Pinborough
Quercus, Jan 14 2014, $24.95
http://www.quercus.com
ISBN: 9781623650865

In 1887, Londoners live in abject fear waiting for the next Jack the Ripper murder. Assisting the police on the violent deadly assaults drives Dr. Thomas Bond to increasingly using opium to help him temporarily forget the gruesome sight though he believes the nightmares will haunt him until he dies.

When a new female victim even more violently attacked than the previous poor souls is found, the city panics. However, Bond realizes this homicide is different as Ripper leaves the entire corpse for the police and locals to deal with; while this murderer left only the torso. Doubting Ripper changed his method and more victims with body parts deposited all around town including the construction site of Scotland Yard are found; Bond concludes a second more violent psycho dubbed the Thames Torso is doubling down on the horror gripping the beleaguered city.

Based on the real Thames Torso murders that horrified London during the Ripper period and using as the protagonist a genuine historical person to tell the tale Sarah Pinborough provides a taut late Victorian crime thriller with a stunning Eastern European spin. The inclusion of world-wide newspaper coverage of the first known serial killers adds fascinating macabre shock and depth mindful of the Son of Sam coverage. Readers will relish this tense twisting historical whodunit.

Harriet Klausner

Do or Die-Suzanne Brockmann

January 19, 2014

Do or Die
Suzanne Brockmann
Ballantine, Feb 4 2014 $26.00
ISBN 9780345543790

At a prison near Sarasota, Florida, upon meeting her new client ex-SEAL turned felon Ian Dunn for the first time, Bryant, Hill and Stoneham lawyer Phoebe Kruger is amazed how big he is as he makes her Amazonian body feel petit and even the tall other attendee Martell Griffin seem little. Ian demands Phoebe’s boss the B in her firm “Uncle” Jerry Bryant be here, but a car accident left him hurt and his granddaughter dead. Griffin states he is not a Fed but represents them to offer Dunn freedom today if he cooperates on the rescue of nuclear physicist Lusa Vaszko’s two kidnapped children allegedly held inside the Kazbekistani Consul in Miami. They need him because he is a convict that allows government denial. Dunn prefers to remain in prison as he has for almost a year; he conceals that he must stay in jail as part of a deal to protect his brother and his sibling’s family from mobster Manny Dellarosa who just suffered a heart attack.

Abducting Kruger, Dunn fears for his family since Manny’s psycho brother leads the mob. As he works options to keep his loved ones safe, Dunn teams up with his cute lawyer to try to rescue the abducted kids before their kidnappers kill the youngsters or the scientist surrenders to them.

The first Reluctant Heroes romantic suspense is an exciting thriller as the heroine and readers learn nothing is what it seems as established by the opening fascinating yet too long encounter. Still once Dunn car jacks Kruger’s vehicle with her inside, the storyline accelerates into a fast-paced, impossible to put down race to save the innocent.

Whispers of Vivaldi-Beverle Graves Myers

January 18, 2014

Whispers of Vivaldi
Beverle Graves Myers
Poisoned Pen, Jan 7 2014, $24.95
ISBN 9781464202100

In 1745 Venice, the esteemed Teatro San Marco opera house is in financial trouble since many patrons deserted it for its lightweight rival Teatro Grimani in spite the latter’s focus on minor works with pretty inane tunes and beautiful by poor performing prima donnas. Teatro San Marco Director Maestro Torani orders former soprano Tito Amato to find a fresh saving piece in time for Carnival.

Tito offers his boss the False Duke by Niccolo Rocatti, whose previous works have not been very good. However, Tito insists that this piece about twins is different with Whispers of Vivaldi as if the late great Red Priest wrote it. Sold on the concept, Torani imports Angeletto of Naples as the star in spite of incessant rumors the castrato is actually a female. When someone murders Torani, recognizing himself as the prime suspect Tito must solve the homicide before it is too late for him and his beloved opera house.

The latest Baroque mystery (see The Iron Tongue of Midnight) contains an interesting surprising whodunit as the protagonist’s mentor is the victim. The exciting investigation is enhanced by the colorful descriptions of mid eighteenth century Venice and the behind the scenes of an opera house; so picturesque the background turns the storyline into a fabulous historical with a strong supporting whodunit.

Harriet Klausner