Archive for March, 2014

Apocalypse-Dean Crawford

March 21, 2014

Dean Crawford
Touchstone, Mar 18 2014, $24.99
ISBN 9781451659498

In Miami, witnesses saw former NASA physicist Charles Purcell fleeing from his house where someone murdered his family. Employed by billionaire philanthropist and CEO of International Rescue and Infrastructure Support Joaquin Abell to study the time-space continuum, Purcell contacts MPD Captain Kyle Sears insisting he is innocent; demanding they test the bullets for Rubidium-82; and to get Ethan Warner involved; before he hangs up Purcell predicts the immediate future including his death. At about the same time of the Purcell homicides, a plane filled with scientists working for Abell crashes in the Bermuda Triangle.

As the scientist’s predictions prove uncannily accurate, Defense Intelligence Agency Agent Douglas Jarvis enlists the help of private investigator Warner and his partner Nicola Lopez to find Purcell before he dies. When a major earthquake devastates Puerto Rico, Abell begins relief efforts immediately as he was unbelievably prepared for the disaster.

The third Warner-Lopez collaboration (see Covenant and Immortal) is a faster than the speed of light, but stratospherically over the top of Cerro Punta thriller in spite of being anchored by the physics of time; as the villain fails to seem real. Action fans ignoring their plausibility meter will enjoy Apocalypse as the diabolical felon has all the time in the world to perform nefarious deeds while his pursuers have run out of time before they even begin their chase to prevent his deployment.

Harriet Klausner

Crime: A Fiction River Anthology Special Edition-Edited by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

March 20, 2014

Crime: A Fiction River Anthology Special Edition
Edited by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
WMG (, Mar 18 2014, $15.99
ISBN 9780615935164

This entertaining Fiction River Special Edition anthology contains sixteen new crime tales that mostly focus on felonious behavior rather than solving the case. In “Hitler’s Dogs” by Doug Allyn, Doc comes home from self-imposed exile to be a pallbearer at the funeral of his beloved gang boss mentor. Biddle and the young girl work a lottery scam that nets then $40 from a sucker only to lose that money and more to a hold-up, which means running the scheme again in Steve Hockensmith’s “Wheel of Fortune.” The cop tells the Fourth AKA Nico that he needs a lawyer as the gas accelerant that caused the fire points to him as is the arsonist; but the “Fol” (by Kristine Kathryn Rusch) is unconcerned as he has affluence to buy his way out of trouble though this time money turns out to be not enough. Deputy Sheriff Jill Jordan (see the police procedural A Death In Cumberland) patrols lonely Highway 50 in which drivers think they can get away with anything in “Jackrabbit DMZ by Annie Reed. With no clinkers, the fabulous collection runs the genre gamut and more as affirmed by Jan who, in a cozy told in Haiku, finds the corpse in which her ex is the obvious strangler, but she keeps sleuthing “Gas, Tan, Video” (by M. Elizabeth Castle).

Harriet Klausner

Citadel-Kate Mosse

March 19, 2014

Kate Mosse
Morrow, Mar 18 2014, $26.99
ISBN: 9780062281258

In 1942 in Carcassonne, France, her sister Marieta warns her younger teenage sibling Sandrine to stay off the bridge over the River Aude. Though heeding the warning, Sandrine finds a battered man who did not drown in the river. As he lies dying, he pleads with her no police or doctor, but instead tell Audric Baillard that a sea of glass, of fire is real. Ignoring the man’s plea, Sandrine informs the local authorities. Like Marieta, Sandrine soon joins the all-female Citadel Resistance. However, the Deuxième Bureau continues to stalk her every movement since she reported about the man at the Aude. She flees from Carcassonne reaching Rennes-les-Baines. There she meets Audric Baillard who enlists her help in his quest for the ancient Christian Codex.

In 342 AD, Arinius the monk knows he must leave as his haven is no more. Taking with him his treasured papyrus, he heads to Carcaso where Gnostics and Christians live in peace as he prays to the Lord to allow him to complete his project before calling him.

The final Languedoc entry is an exciting thriller that compares the beginning of the end of the Nazis (and Vichy France) with the fall of the Roman Empire. The insightful storyline contains much less paranormal than its predecessors (see Labyrinth and Sepulchre); while providing a fascinating look at the history of France (especially as a trilogy). Fans of the epic saga will appreciate the Citadel as Kate Mosse completes her saga with a strong historical.

Harriet Klausner

Hotel Brasil-Frei Betto; Jethro Soutar (translator)

March 18, 2014

Hotel Brasil
Frei Betto; Jethro Soutar (translator)
Bitter Lemon, Mar 18 2014, $14.95
ISBN 9781908524270

In Rio de Janeiro, the rundown Hotel Brasil caters to singles; at least that is what proprietor Dona Dinó claims. The regulars residing in this dump include wannabe telenovela actress Rosaura dos Santos; political hack Rui Pacheco; reporter Marcelo Braga; transformed due to age restrictions from hooking to pimping Madame Larência; transformista nightclub entertainer Diamante Negro; former professor and present collaborator with anthropologist Mônica Kundali on a book (though he craves a different collaboration) Cândido Oliviera; and gemstone seller Seu Marçal.

The family like camaraderie shatters when someone decapitates Marçal before removing his eyes. Delagacia da Lapa Police Chief Delegado Olinto Del Bosco sarcastically interrogates and accuses the owner, the residents and caretaker Jorge Maldonado as the murderer. Del Bosco arrests only Maldonado as the easiest for him to get away with a brutal beat down until he breaks and confesses.

Although a Brazilian police procedural, Hotel Brasil reads more like a fascinating character study of a different side of Rio than typically depicted. The ensemble cast is solid with their background cleverly darkly satirizing stereotypes and as a group lampooning the Agatha Christie country house mystery subgenre in a South American urban setting. Readers who appreciate something different in their whodunits will enjoy this entertaining suspense.

Harriet Klausner

City Of Darkness And Light-

March 17, 2014

City Of Darkness And Light
Rhys Bowen
Minotaur, Mar 4 2014, $25.99
ISBN: 9781250011664

In 1905, NYPD Police Captain Daniel Sullivan battles crime in the city while his wife “retired” private detective Molly raises their son Liam. Their happy home ends when an explosion blows up their house injuring the couple and killing their servant Aggie; their infant is okay.

Though many assume the gas accidentally was left on unlit, Daniel believes the Cosa Nostra lethally attacked his home to kill him and end his investigations into their activities; with his family and servant expendable collateral damage. They discuss what to do and agree that Molly and Liam will travel to France to stay safely with friends Gus and Sid. After a seasickness voyage across the Atlantic, Molly and her baby arrive at her friends’ apartment only Gus and Sid are not there. Molly moves into their abode while searching for the missing pair. She learns that anti-Semite Reynold Bryce, who she planned to visit, was murdered with the motive most likely a reaction to the Emile Zola’s articles on the Dreyfus Affair. The clues lead sleuthing Molly to American expatriate painter Mary Cassatt, where her friends hide because Sid a Jew met with Bryce on the day he was murdered. Feeling right at home in Paris, Molly investigates the homicide.

The latest Molly Murphy investigation (see The Family Way) is a superb whodunit that provides fans on a fabulous tour of the City of Lights at a time when anti-Semitism has become publically visible due to Zola’s J’Accuse and in contrast the fine arts flourish; as readers meet a who’s who. The murder mystery is terrific and exciting yet 1905 Paris owns the storyline as the City Of Darkness And Light is also a great historical.

Harriet Klausner

The Dead of Summer-Mari Jungstedt; Tiina Nunnally (translator)

March 16, 2014

The Dead of Summer
Mari Jungstedt; Tiina Nunnally (translator)
Stockholm Text, Mar 11 2014, $14.95
ISBN: 9789187173981

Two boys playing in the water off Gotland Island’s Sudersand Beach find a corpse floating nearby. The victim did not drown, but instead was shot several times in the abdomen and once in the head. While DCI Anders Knutas vacations with his family for two weeks in Denmark, Assistant DCI Karin Jacobssen heads the investigation; but calls her boss to inform him of the murder as he required of her. Over the objection of his wife Lina and though he trusts his assistant, bored workaholic Anders uses the murder as an excuse to leave his family in Denmark to return to Gotland to lead the inquiry.

Though diligently working the inquiry, the police uncover nothing while neither does reporter Johan Berg. At the same time, a Russian tanker arrives with a crew known for illegalities and soon afterward, a second homicide occurs. Having made no progress on the first murder, Knutas seeks the connection between the two victims as the means to solving the case.

Overall the fifth Gotland Swedish police procedural (see Killer’s Art, Unspoken, Unseen and The Inner Circle) is an enjoyable whodunit. Much of the storyline focuses on the relationships between the key players (Johan with Emma, their daughter and his photographer; and Karin with Knutas) rather than on the investigation. When the fascinating case takes front and center; the police and the journalist are stymied on solving the homicides; while fans ironically know much more.

Harriet Klausner

Watching You-Michael Robotham

March 16, 2014

Watching You
Michael Robotham
Mulholland Books/Little Brown, Mar 11 2014, $26.00
ISBN: 9780316252003

In London over a year ago, Daniel vanished leaving behind his grieving financially strapped wife Marnie and their two children. Depressed and forced to work as an escort to put food on the table, Marnie turns to her neighbor psychologist Dr. Joe O’Loughlin as a patient of his; particularly since she insists she is not paranoid while claiming someone follows her.

Marnie finds an incomplete scrapbook and accompanying DVD that Daniel worked on as a birthday present for his wife. The DVD contains interviews he conducted and images he took of people who knew Marnie. Almost all of those he spoke with feared her as a terrible monster and many of them wish she would drop dead. Marnie is stunned by the revelatory reactions. She asks Joe what is going on; in turn he persuades his friend former cop Vincent Ruiz to investigate especially when a person she recently contacted and met is murdered with Marnie being the last known individual seen with the victim.

The latest O’Loughlin-Ruiz case (see Say You’re Sorry) is a great psychological investigative thriller; as the protagonists wonder whether their client is a dangerous psychopath or a victim of an insidious adversary with both heavily leaning towards her being a lethal lunatic. Although the premise seems improbable, Michael Robotham convinces his audience that it is genuinely happening.

Harriet Klausner

Murder In The Worst Degree-F. M. Meredith

March 16, 2014

Murder In The Worst Degree
F. M. Meredith
Dark Oak Mysteries, Jan 23 2014, $12.95
ISBN: 9781610091459

In Southern California, two surfers riding a wave share the trip with a corpse. Rocky Bluff PD Police Officer Gordon Butler responds to their call before turning over the case to Detectives Doug Milligan and Felix Zachary. The cops believe the deceased is affluent Harlan Knight, whose adult children filed a missing person’s report a few days ago in which they said their widower father suffers from late stage dementia. Meanwhile Doug’s wife Police Officer Stacey Milligan and her partner Lizette Gibbs interview severely beaten rape victim Felicia Higgins.

The ME reports that the cause of Knight’s death is not drowning, but an overdose of a prescription drug. Besides family members, the housemaid, the victim’s three Seabee buddies and a loving widow are suspects. New Captain Chandra Taylor uses a computer generated program to draw the face of the rapist from the description provided by his second horribly battered victim Jenny Jacoby. Stunned Stacey is horrified as the face looking back at her from the monitor is a younger version of Police Officer Ryan Strickland whose wife just gave birth to a cute Down’s Syndrome baby.

The latest Rocky Bluff PD police procedural (see Dangerous Impulses, Bad Tidings and No Bells) is a wonderful leisurely-paced investigative thriller that deftly combines the cops’ personal lives with adapting to a new chief while working two violent crimes and several other offenses. Subgenre fans will appreciate F. M. Meredith’s engaging rotation of the lead amongst her ensemble cast as the cases and what is happening off the job prove very interesting.

Harriet Klausner

City of the Sun-Juliana Maio

March 15, 2014

City of the Sun
Juliana Maio
Greenleaf Book Group, Mar 11 2014, $24.95
ISBN 9781626340510

In 1941 Egyptians fear for their lives and what appears to be coming to their kingdom as General Rommel leads a desert blitzkrieg speeding towards Cairo. King Farouk struggles to rule under the thumb of the British Protectorate while the new rebellious Muslim Brotherhood demands these arrogant foreigners leave or face their wrath. Neither the weak puppet monarch nor the pompous British rulers are aware that the Nazis and the Brotherhood are negotiating a deal to rid Egypt of its feeble ruler and its overbearing overlords.

Feeling fortunate to be alive while coming from the Libyan Desert to Cairo along with thousands of fleeing refugees, American reporter Mickey Connolly saw first-hand the power of Rommel’s forces that threaten to take all of North Africa. Meanwhile American Chief Spymaster “Wild Bill” Donovan persuades Connolly to help find German Jewish physicist Erik Blumenthal, who probably hides in the Jewish sector. At the same time German espionage agent Heinrich Kesner also pursues Blumenthal. Mickey allies with Jewish refugee Maya Levi in his effort to locate the hiding nuclear scientist.

City of the Sun is a strong historical thriller that uses real persona and events to anchor a powerful storyline. Readers will feel they are in 1941 Cairo as Juliana Maio provides her audience with a taste of a divided, frightened, yet angry city expecting war. The romantic subplot adds hope and passion in the midst of strife. However, readers will relish the profound look at the early days of the Middle East dispute (interwoven into a superb drama) that still haunts the region and world decades after the end of WWII.

Harriet Klausner

Retribution-Anderson Harp

March 13, 2014

Anderson Harp
Pinnacle, Feb 25 2014, $9.99
ISBN: 9780786034215

At the United States Embassy in Doha, Qatar, CIA case worker Maggie O’Donald receives an email from a top level source in the House of Saud. Almost immediately, a small bomb explodes at the embassy gate. Realizing a bigger bomb will follow, Maggie manages to download her data onto a thumb drive and conceal it. From the second blast Maggie suffers a brain trauma leaving her comatose.

Knowing why the Korean event (see A Northern Thunder) was successful, CIA Agent James Scott visits William Parker to ask for his help on a new dangerous mission. At a time the House of Saud Bay’Ah Council prepares to vote on the heir to the King, Scott explains to Parker that his country needs him to prevent charismatic Yousef al-Qadi from creating a new fundamentalist Islamic state constructed from the Jihad murdering of millions. He further explains this man is behind the Lockerbie bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 that left Parker’s parents dead. They put together a team and deploy a plan beginning with Parker masquerading as Zabara the Muslim reporter who has a scheduled interview with Yousef. CDC provides the means for the assassination with a vial of deadly Neisseria Meningitis, but there is only one delivery method.

Rotating perspective mostly between Parker and Yousef, aptly titled Retribution is a hard to put down thriller because the superb storyline deftly builds tension leading to the anticipated High Noon confrontation between two kick butt adversaries with revenge fueling both of them. Mr. Harp’s talent is obvious as he takes his time setting up the chess board, but still keeps his exciting plot at hyperspeed to the delight of readers.

Harriet Klausner