Archive for the ‘Private Investigation’ Category

The Color of Light-Wendy Hornsby

April 7, 2014

The Color of Light
Wendy Hornsby
Perseverance, Apr 7 2014, $15.95
ISBN 9781564745422

TV host of “Maggie MacGowen Investigates”, film documentarian Maggie MacGowen is back in her childhood home in Berkeley cleaning out her late father’s stuff. Inside his desk, she finds film shot thirty years ago by her dad that provide leads to solving the cold case violent murder of Vietnamese immigrant Trinh “Tina” Bartolini.

Though she believes her father hid the evidence to protect her especially from her biological mother, Maggie investigates the late Mrs. Bartolini’s past. Helping her with her inquiry are high school boyfriend BPD Detective Kevin Halloran, current boyfriend French diplomat Jean-Paul Bernard and her agent Uncle Max. While the lack of cooperation from family and friends who make it clear they want her to stop snooping; another schoolmate sleazy Larry Nordquist lurks nearby while also implying to Maggie that he knows who and why.

The ninth Maggie MacGowen Investigates (see The Hanging, The Paramour’s Daughter and In the Guise of Mercy) is a fabulous whodunit that deftly goes back and forth between the present and what happened in the college town three decades ago. The sleuthing is strong with red herrings, twists and non-cooperation as this homicide shook the community in the early 1980s and Maggie’s search for the truth proves it still remains very sore with residents.

Harriet Klausner


Evil in the 1st House: A Starlight Detective Agency MysteryMitchell Scott Lewis –

April 5, 2014

Evil in the 1st House: A Starlight Detective Agency Mystery
Mitchell Scott Lewis
Poisoned Pen, Apr 1 2014, $24.95
ISBN 9781464201899

In Manhattan Dr. Ethan Williamson offers nationally known Starlight Detective Agency chief David Lowell $1 million in cash if he searches for his missing wife Gloria Greenwood; if he finds her the surgeon will give the astrologist-private detective another million. Williamson further explains they have been separated since just after their twin sons were born. After a nasty fight following the births, she vanished with now fifteen year old Kevin while leaving behind Edward with Ethan to raise by himself. Edward will soon die if he fails to receive a compatible kidney as the lad has an extremely rare blood type and his dad has only one good organ; leaving his sibling as the obvious suitable match.

While working this case and another inquiry, Lowell obtains help from his six foot daughter Melinda the lawyer, hacker guru Mort, office assistant Sarah and bodyguard-driver Andy. Others from California also become embroiled into the inquiry; as nothing is quite like the client claimed.

The third Starlight Detective Agency case (see Murder on the 11th House and Death in the 12th House) is an engaging twisting mystery with the paranormal seeming so genuine due to normalcy brought to the storyline by the staff; for instance Lowell needs legal advice on transplants instead of the stars. As fans, Lowell and his staff accept karma, Evil in the 1st House is a fun fascinating astrology private investigative thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Killer Physique-G.A. McKevett

March 30, 2014

Killer Physique
G.A. McKevett
Kensington, Mar 25 2014, $24.00
ISBN 9780758276544

Private detective Savannah Reid anxiously waits to meet the parents of her new husband Detective Sergeant Dirk Coulter for the first time. Her friends Ryan Stone and John Gibson invite Savannah and Dirk to attend the Hollywood premiere of their buddy superstar hunk Jason Tyrone’s new film.

The next day, Jason is found dead in his room at the Island View Hotel by Ryan and John, who call Savannah. Soon after the P.I. and her spouse enter the hotel room, San Carmelita’s medical examiner Dr. Jennifer Liu arrives and quickly announces accidental death due to massive steroid use. However Savannah and Dirk have doubts as they just met the hunk a few hours ago and he showed no signs of ill health. They investigate those inside of Tyrone’s circle starting with movie co-star Alanna Cleary who he allegedly had an affair with; his former lover Thomas Owen; and others employed by the late actor, and contacts at the studio and at the gym where he worked out.

The latest Savannah Reid mystery (see Killer Honeymoon) is an entertaining investigative tale as increasingly the sleuth, her mate and readers wonder if the M.E. is right. Although issues like steroid use and the inquiry feel superseded at times by the intrusive meet the parents subplot, series fans will appreciate the newlyweds working the case; as the couple that solves murder mysteries together, stays together.

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

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

A Bad Reputation-Jane Tesh

February 18, 2014

A Bad Reputation
Jane Tesh
Poisoned Pen, Feb 4 2014, $24.95
ISBN: 9781464202322

Former beauty queen Madeline Maclin works as a private detective in Celosia, North Carolina. She is happily married to former con man Jerry Fairweather, who seeks legitimate employment as he no longer wants to swindle people or take money from his affluent family.

Former resident Wendall Clarke returns to Celosia accompanied by his second wife Flora. He plans to open an art gallery in the downtown area. However, his triumphant homecoming ends when someone murders him at his gallery. Flora retains Madeline to investigate her husband’s death. The P.I. is shocked by the vast pool of people from his first wife to his second spouse’s former husbands to an angry rival to local artists wanting Wendall dead. At the same time, Honor Perkins comes to Celosia attempting to tempt Jerry away from Madeline as she wants him back as her partner.

The latest Madeline Maclin Mysteries (see A Case of Imagination, A Hard Bargain, and A Little Learning) is a wonderful regional investigation due to the antics of a fabulous eccentric cast. The Clarke case inquiry takes a back seat to these characters as marvelous Madeline deals with a horde of whimsical suspects containing strong motives and a con artist targeting her husband.

Harriet Klausner

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

Reel Stuff-Don Bruns

December 7, 2013

Reel Stuff
Don Bruns
Oceanview, Dec 3 2013, $26.95
ISBN 9781608090969

At the filming of a TV episode of Deadline Miami, Moore or Less Investigations Skip Moore and James Lessor work as guards. In the hot Miami sun, over the objections of director Randy Roberts, actor Jason Londell rejects the use a stuntman. He leaps off scaffolding as scripted only to splatter as not scripted to his death.

Jason’s upset costar Ashley Amber claims the late actor loved her and insists his wife Juliana killed him. Ashley hires Moore or Less Investigations to determine whether Juliana murdered her beloved though the sleuths believe the victim died in a horrible accident or a suicide; still she is a paying client, so they take the case. James remains in Miami to monitor the investigation and seek clues amongst the show. Skip and his girlfriend Emily Minard travel to Hollywood with her pretending to be a wannabe hoping that Juliana the agent takes her on as a client. Em proves that besides brains and beauty, she can act as she becomes an overnight star.

The latest Stuff mystery (see Hot Stuff and Too Much Stuff) is an amusing murder mystery as the two stooges cause separate havoc in Miami and Hollywood with the California setting as the prime locale once they split up. The investigation is fun but thin while fans of the Stuff duo will enjoy their cross America antics and the homage to movies and TV shows.

Harriet Klausner

The Tunnel-.D. Tooley

December 2, 2013

The Tunnel
S.D. Tooley
Full Moon Publishing, Dec 1 2013, $26.00
ISBN: 9780988868335

Several months have passed since Chasen Heights Police Detective Jake Casey died in an explosion. His wife Sam barely functions as she struggles with her grief though she tries her best with their toddler Dillon. She no longer uses her gift to assist the cops on cases by communicating with the dead or touching objects the killer held; nor does she go anywhere with her persistent BFF Jackie.

Since his mom died, six-year-old Nemo lives alone in an abandoned building. He ignores his late mom’s warning to never enter the tunnels in the sub-basement. There he encounters a severely abused drugged man locked up like a dangerous convict. The lad brings fresh food and water to the prisoner. When Nemo takes fruit from Sam’s mom Abby, her friend Alex Red Cloud pursues the child observing his hideaway. Alex enters the building and finds Nemo’s mom dead. He anonymously calls the cops who identify her as addict Coralee Adams shot dead by Jake’s gun. Feeling a purpose, Sam sets out to learn what happened to her beloved spouse in his final hours when he went for coffee after losing the coin flip to his partner only instead of returning to the precinct he journeyed alone into death.

This Sam Casey paranormal investigative tale is a fresh entry due to the despairing protagonist behaving hopelessly rather than her usual competent self (see Restless Spirit and When The Dead Speak) as her grief overwhelms her in spite of the efforts from caring family and friends. Although a nepotistic appointed cop adds humorous realism, he feels like a distraction from what we readers (and the heroine) want to know: what happened to Jake and why.

Harriet Klausner

The Vaporizer-Lee Driver

November 29, 2013

The Vaporizer
Lee Driver
Full Moon Publishing, Mar 1 2013, $26.00
ISBN: 9780988868304

Shapeshifting Sara Morningsky wakes up with a headache in pitch blackness with someone touching her while breathing into her hair. Moments later her private investigator partner Chase Dagger awakens to a sensual touch, a satin pillow and sheet inside a contained rather small for two enclosure. Neither knows how they ended up in a coffin. Chase believes his former employer BettaTec found him in Cedar Point, Indiana and went to great lengths including drugging them to warn him to cooperate or they will bury Sara for real; though he also believes they remain ignorant about her ability to turn into a hawk and wolf since they did not take her.

As the sleuths begin inquiries into what happened to them and why, the medical examiner’s autopsies of three gang members show they did not coincidentally die of natural causes as improbable as it first seemed; instead someone removed their brains. The cops know “Who ya gonna call” (Ghostbusters by Ray Parker, Jr.) to investigate the Eerie in Indiana; as Chase has a reputation for successful resolution of the weird.

The latest Chase Dagger Mystery thriller (see Fatal Storm, Chasing Ghosts and The Good Die Twice) once gain deftly blends mystery and fantasy into a fabulous investigative thriller beginning with a great claustrophobic opening scene. Sara continues to mature while Chase knows he would willingly die for the young woman he mentors and loves as an adult equal. Action-packed from start to finish, fans will want to join the lead couple working together on a personal case and on the gangbangers’ murders.

Harriet Klausner