Archive for February, 2014

Where Evil Waits-Kate Brady

February 26, 2014

Where Evil Waits
Kate Brady
Forever, Feb 25 2014, $8.00
ISBN 9781455502066

The hit man is an elitist killer; perhaps the best there is. In Atlanta, this predator targets Prosecutor Kara Chandler by going after her family and friends while stalking her. She especially fears for the life of her son Louie so she takes a desperate gambit by turning to a man she has tried unsuccessfully to place behind bars several times as she believes she must fight fire with fire.

Kara pleads with cartel hit man Luke Varon to help her. Though he knows if he comes to her aid he risks exposing himself to danger and jeopardizes his mission even if he can explain the mother and son hits to his boss. Still Luke agrees to fake murdering her and her son. Even more precarious to his safety, he offers to assist her in finding her adversary who he believes has ties to Kara’s felonious late husband.

The latest Mann Family romantic suspense (see Where Angels Rest) is an exciting twisting cat and mouse thriller as readers anticipate a High Noon showdown with a predatory pro. Fast-paced, in the frightened mind (more for her son than herself) of a prosecutor in peril Where Evil Waits is around every corner in metro Atlanta.

Harriet Klausner

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Baghdad Central-Elliot Colla

February 25, 2014

Baghdad Central
Elliot Colla
Bitter Lemon Press, Feb 18 2014, $14.95
ISBN: 9781908524256

In November 2003, the Iraqi Coalition Provisional Authority shut down the army, the police and the Ba’athists. Former Inspector Muhsin Khadr al-Khafaji deserted his post before the disbanding of the cops by the occupying forces. His concerned brother-in-law asks unemployed Muhsin to search for his missing adult daughter Sawsan who did not come home from work.

However, Muhsin’s inquiry abruptly ends almost before it began when the Americans incarcerate him as a high ranking Hussein official in Abu Ghraib. Realizing they made an identification error but not before they torture him, they free Muhsin and assign him to train a new police force and investigate the numerous missing Army translators. In return they give his daughter Mrouj quality medical treatment for her kidney ailment, which the sanctions previously prevented.

Baghdad Central is a strong Iraqi police procedural that captures the essence of surviving as a secularist in a Muslim nation ran by a vicious dictator while already under sanctions from the West made worse by the occupation. Poetry and family keeps the protagonist going as Elliot Colla condemns the superegos of the CPA and their impact on people after the harsh effect in Iraqi citizenry by the sanctions. The insightful look at a subculture ignored by the American media obsessive focus on blood and gore supersedes the investigations in this profound look at Iraqi life during the occupation.

Harriet Klausner

Dead Water-Ann Cleaves

February 25, 2014

Dead Water
Ann Cleaves
Minotaur, Feb 18 2014, $25.99
ISBN: 9781250036605

Having returned to his home in the Shetlands after a stint in London, reporter Jerry Markham drives at night in Brae when an unlit vehicle forces him off the road. Moments later the journalist is murdered. Prosecutor Rhona Laing finds Markham’s corpse.

Detective Inspector Willow Reeves arrives from West Scotland to lead the investigation into the Markham murder. She knows she must cooperate with Laing but finds the stressed local prosecutor acting odd and seemingly concealing something critical. Though still on partial leave as he grieves the death of his lover Fran (see Blue Lightning), Inspector Jimmy Perez agrees to assist Reeves on the case by interviewing the islanders he knows so well. Reeves and Perez find the locals split over their feelings re Markham due to an incident years ago involving Evie Watt before he fled the Shetlands. The two cops also learn Markham was digging into a story many islanders prefer he ignored, but who killed him with so many suspects proves difficult to identify.

The fifth Shetland police procedural (see Raven Black, White Nights and Red Bones) is an entertaining leisurely paced whodunit that requires a mental adjustment by series fans; as depressed Perez never displays any energy especially involving the inquiry. The murder mystery is well done and enhanced by a deep look at the constant debate between tradition and modernization (even the police seem enamored with pre social media methods).

Harriet Klausner

The Hit-David Baldacci

February 24, 2014

The Hit
David Baldacci
Grand Central, Feb 18 2014, $9.00
ISBN: 9781455521302

U.S. government assassin Will Robie knows the current kill will be his hardest as the hit is on another top level cold-blooded federal killer Jessica Reel. Not caring why she was chosen to die as she is just another job although Robie accepts that this is a High Noon showdown between two elite gunslingers with only one walking away; and he intends that to be him. The CIA Blue Man and his superior claims she went rogue so they give Robie confidential information on his subject that gives him the edge.

A trained killer all her life Reel knows she is the agency’s target and that Robie is her personal killer. Instead of waiting for him, Reel contacts Robie leaving him with a puzzle to decipher. She also informs the Blue Man that she is working on a pyramid of kills with her closing in on the top to include him.

The latest Robie assassin thriller (see The Innocent) is an exhilarating non-stop action tale as the top gun CIA assassin meets his equal in a killer vs. killer lethal match that initially will remind readers of a superhero battling a supervillain. Filled with twists, double crosses and Julie the kid humanizing both assassins, readers will enjoy this over the top of Langley showdown.

Harriet Klausner

The Hit-David Baldacci

February 24, 2014

The Hit
David Baldacci
Grand Central, Feb 18 2014, $9.00
ISBN: 9781455521302

U.S. government assassin Will Robie knows the current kill will be his hardest as the hit is on another top level cold-blooded federal killer Jessica Reel. Not caring why she was chosen to die as she is just another job although Robie accepts that this is a High Noon showdown between two elite gunslingers with only one walking away; and he intends that to be him. The CIA Blue Man and his superior claims she went rogue so they give Robie confidential information on his subject that gives him the edge.

A trained killer all her life Reel knows she is the agency’s target and that Robie is her personal killer. Instead of waiting for him, Reel contacts Robie leaving him with a puzzle to decipher. She also informs the Blue Man that she is working on a pyramid of kills with her closing in on the top to include him.

The latest Robie assassin thriller (see The Innocent) is an exhilarating non-stop action tale as the top gun CIA assassin meets his equal in a killer vs. killer lethal match that initially will remind readers of a superhero battling a supervillain. Filled with twists, double crosses and Julie the kid humanizing both assassins, readers will enjoy this over the top of Langley showdown.

Harriet Klausner

Moving Target-J.A. Jance

February 23, 2014

Moving Target
J.A. Jance
Touchstone, Feb 18 2014, $25.99
ISBN: 9781476745008

Exhausted by her wedding plans’ commander her mother, Ali Reynolds escapes to England by accompanying her octogenarian assistant Leland Brooks as he goes home to see his estranged family for the first times since the Korean War when his father disowned him for being gay. In England, they meet Leland’s relatives and learn that his dad was murdered in an unsolved decades old cold case. The pair investigates and based on circumstantial evidence, they believe Leland’s late brother Langston probably killed their father. DNA on bloody clothing should prove whether their hypothesis is correct.

At the same in Texas teenager Lance Tucker develops the GHOST program that will change online security once he finishes. However, he is arrested and placed in juvenile detention for hacking into and shutting down the San Leandro School District’s computer system in protest of their new Big Brother procedure. Someone sets Lance on fire and his computer teacher dies; both incidents are considered suicide attempts. Ali’s fiancé computer security expert B. Simpson, who hopes to hire Lance, thinks otherwise as he surmises ruthless people want GHOST. He arranges protection for the lad starting with Sister Anselm as Lance’s advocate and others for the endangered Tucker family.

The latest Ali Reynolds investigation (see Deadly Stakes) contains two engaging mysteries on opposite sides of the Big Pond. As separate entries the cases are fascinating, but the sum of the parts fails to make a cohesive whole. While the English whodunit enables fans to learn more about Brooks’ roots, the inquiry feels soft especially compared to the antics of Texas Taser tornado Sister Anselm.

Harriet Klausner

Troubled Water-John DeDakis

February 22, 2014

Troubled Water
John DeDakis
Strategic Media Books, Feb 15 2014, $18.95
http://www.Strategic Media Books.com
ISBN: 9781939521071

At the urging of her mentor Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Lionel Stone, Lark Chadwick leaves his Wisconsin newspaper the Pine Bluff Standard to accept a job as the Cops and Courts reporter for the Columbia Sun-Gazette in Western Georgia. Driving from her home, she is in Georgia desperately needing to take a leak. Lark leaves the highway and takes an isolated back road when a speeding vehicle forces her onto the dirt shoulder. After stopping in a spot with no one around, Lark feels euphoric following her flooding the ground until she steps on a corpse. She calls 911, but the cops place her in the back seat of their car where she calls in the story to welcoming Columbia Sun-Gazette employee Marcie Peck. Columbia County Sheriff’s Department Detective Benson arrives at the scene, questions Lark and sends her on her way.

Accompanied by photographer Doug Mitchell, Lark continues to follow the story questioning the lead detective, and friends and family of the fifteen years old victim Rae Donovan. Meanwhile as a second murder occurs, the ambitious Governor pressures law enforcement to solve the homicide and the journalist she replaced fumes on his blog and at Lark at being unjustly fired.

Troubled Water is a fabulous journalistic investigative thriller due to the strong lead protagonist on her first job away from her Wisconsin home (see Bluff and Fast Track). The whodunit is super, but it is fascinating realistic relationships between Lark and others; such as her with Lionel, Benson, Doug and others on the paper and the local residents; that make for a terrific mystery.

Harriet Klausner

Killer’s Island-Anna Jansson

February 20, 2014

Killer’s Island
Anna Jansson
Stockholm Text, Feb 11 2014, $14.95
http://www.stockholmtext.com
ISBN: 9789187173998

On Gotland Island, Sweden, Detective Inspector Maria Wern heads home in high heels after going to Quay 5 for drinks with her colleague Erika Lund who leaves with a man she met at the bar. Maria responds to a call for help, but when she intervenes to stop three men kicking and battering a young teen they attack her too while a witness flees. At the hospital Maria fears the brutes injected her with HIV. Dr. Eriksson says she more likely will suffer from hepatitis and that the lad suffered severe internal injuries that have left him in ICU after surgery with little chance of surviving.

Soon after Maria’s Good Samaritan beating, nurse Linn Bogen heads home after finishing her shift at the hospital when she is assaulted. When Linn learns of the attacks on the cop and the teen, she reports her assault. Pedestrians soon find her decapitated in a wedding dress that eerily emulates the White Sea-Lady myth and also found dead is the witness of the cop battering. As more murders occur, Erika leads the investigation into a serial killer while her private life intrudes on her inquiry.

The latest Maria Wern Swedish police procedural (see Strange Bird) provides an interesting look at the victims before they are murdered and the emotional damaging impact on their grieving loved ones and their frightened neighbors. Readers will enjoy this strong whodunit into terror that paralyzes the islanders with abject fear.

Harriet Klausner

The Deliverance of Evil-Roberto Costantini, translated by N.S. Thompson

February 20, 2014

The Deliverance of Evil
Roberto Costantini, translated by N.S. Thompson
Quercus, Feb 11 2014, $26.95
http://www.quercus.com
ISBN 9781623650025

In 1982 in Spain, Italy wins the World Cup. The country is ecstatic with its first championship since before WWII. While Rome celebrates, eighteen years old Elisa Sordi vanishes. Like much of the country, young politically-connected Police Commissario Michele Balistreri joins in the reveille while he delays the missing person’s investigation using SOPs as the rationale to the hysterical parents of the teen. Michele’s passion remains vino and women until a few days later when Elisa’s battered body is found on the banks of the Tiber. The despondent cop realizes the impact of what he allowed and vows never again.

In 2006, Italy defeats France in Germany to win their first World Cup since 1982. At the same time, Elisa’s mom commits suicide while several young women are tortured and murdered just like her daughter was. This time Balistreri vows to solve the present day serial killings and the cold case that still haunts him.

Ironically though the 1982 homicide radically changes the protagonist from an uncaring hedonist to a dedicated cop, Balistreri remains unlikable and unsympathetic. The engaging Italian police procedural provides the audience with a fascinating psychological look at how ugly nurturing turns a human into an amoral evil.

The Cat, The Devil and Lee Fontana-Shirley Rousseau Murphy and Pat J.J. Murphy

February 20, 2014

The Cat, The Devil and Lee Fontana
Shirley Rousseau Murphy and Pat J.J. Murphy
Morrow, Feb 11 2014, $19.99
ISBN 9780062268785

All because of a lost wager several decades ago, in 1947 Washington State, Lucifer arrives at McNeil Island Federal Penitentiary to visit convict Lee Fontana as he has plans for the soul of the aging bank robber. Also with plans to help Fontana keep his soul is his long time companion in and out of prison Misto the cat.

A paroled Lee struggles to adapt to the civilian world as this is nothing like what it was when he went to prison. He works for his friend Jake Ellison, driving a truck on a Southern California farm. However, Lee is angry with Jake for being married to his beloved Lucita and envies the affluence of the farm (and much more) owner. The Devil whispers to Lee he can have the wealth and the woman that he craves while Misto struggles to save the soul of his human buddy.

This is an entertaining supernatural “loose” prequel to the Joel Grey saga (Misto was in Cat Bearing Gifts). The dark soul war stars a unique triangle consisting of the caring spirit Cat, the avenging diabolical Devil and the ex-convict Lee Fontana. Although readers will wonder why Misto thinks slimy Fontana is redeemable, fans will enjoy the feline version of Stephen Vincent Benet’s The Devil and Daniel Webster.

Harriet Klausner