Archive for the ‘Private Investigation’ Category

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

Dead Money-Dean Wesley Smith

November 9, 2013

Dead Money
Dean Wesley Smith
WMG, Jun 13 2013, $15.99
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

After I’m Gone-Laura Lippmann

November 3, 2013

After I’m Gone
Laura Lippmann
Morrow, Feb 11 2014, $26.99
ISBN: 9780062083395

On July 4, 1976, Felix Brewer kisses his wife Bambi like he did the first time when they met at a high school dance in 1959. They are to meet later, but instead abetted by his mistress former stripper at one of his clubs Juliet Romero Saxony, Felix flees the country. He left to avoid a prison sentence for his illegal activities that kept him, his wife, their three daughters (Rachael, Linda and Michelle) and his mistress living luxurious lifestyles. Julie takes Felix to a private plane but instead of joining him in flight he leaves her behind.

On July 3, 1986, Julie disappears with those who knew of her relationship with still missing Felix assuming she finally joined her lover wherever he hid. In 2001 in Baltimore’s Leakin Park, Julie’s body is found. Over a decade later, retired police detective widower Sandy Sanchez, who works cold cases, investigates the murder of Julie and the related vanishing of Felix.

While Tess Monaghan takes a deserved respite (except for a last second appearance), Laura Lippmann writes a strong mystery that hooks the reader with a need to know what happened to Felix while learning how his vanishing act impacted the five females he loved and cherished. Character-driven, the gripping storyline rotates between past and present, as Felix wonders if he really escaped incarceration.

Harriet Klausner

City of Lies-R.J. Ellory

November 2, 2013

City of Lies
R.J. Ellory
Overlook, Oct 31 2013, $26.95
ISBN 9781590204658

Almost a decade has passed since former New Yorker John Harper wrote his only novel Depth of Fingerprints. In the interim, he stopped drinking and stopped believing while becoming a Miami reporter who started many things but finished nothing.

Drifting through life, his aunt notifies John that someone shot his father Edward “Lenny” Bernstein when he intervened during a hold-up. He is stunned with the revelation because he was told his father died before he was born and his mom committed suicide. No longer an orphan John returns to New York; home of his horrid childhood, to visit the father he never knew on the comatose man’s deathbed. NYPD Detective Frank Duchaunak orders Harper to leave town for his safety while the cop lingers at the hospital hoping for a breakthrough to nail Bernstein for financing mob activity. His aunt informs her nephew that her brother was a mobster while Bernstein’s top adviser Walt Freiburg tells Harper to stick around town using Cathy Hollander as the lure.

City of Lies is a strong crime drama starring a person with childhood demons that still haunt him as an adult. John makes the exciting storyline work with his obsessive need to know whether his father was a mobster and if his mother killed herself superseding his fear of becoming a hit victim. Readers will appreciate this deep noir while rooting for the protagonist to outwit the mob and the cop as he seeks his gene tree truth.

Harriet Klausner

The Devil Laughed-Gerrie Ferris Finger

October 30, 2013

The Devil Laughed
Gerrie Ferris Finger
Five Star, Sep 11 29013, $25.95
ISBN: 9781432826970

Judge Portia Devon invites Child Trace investigator Moriah Dru, Atlanta Police Lieutenant Richard Lake and the latter’s daughter Susanna for a July 4th shindig on Lake Lanier. Nearby on the water, Portia notices the Scuppernong sailboat that vanished almost four years ago with two couples (Johnny and Candice Browne of North Carolina, and Laurant and Janet Cocineau of Atlanta) on board partying. However, Johnny’s body with his head battered was found at the Swann Marina in Forsythe County, the last place the sloop was seen. The other three disappeared.

Candice’s thirteen years old daughter Evangeline believes her mother is alive and hires Moriah to investigate. Though her firm’s mission is tracing children, the sleuth agrees to take on the young teen as a client. Moriah begins the search for Candice tracking the Scuppernong’s last known stops in Georgia.

The third Moriah Dru / Richard Lake mystery (see The Last Temptation and The End Game) is an exciting missing person’s investigation that introduces the audience to the Georgia exurbs and rural waterways. Owning the engaging storyline, Dru, Lake and Devon are strong lead characters; while a myriad of support players add depth but need a scorecard to remember who’s who.

Harriet Klausner

The Tulip Eaters-Antoinette van Heugten

October 29, 2013

The Tulip Eaters
Antoinette van Heugten
Mira, Oct 29 2013, $15.95
ISBN 9780778313885

In 1980 single mom, Dr. Nora de Jong comes home from her work as a pediatric surgeon at Methodist Hospital looking forward to seeing her beloved six-month-old daughter Rose and her widow Dutch mom Anneke in their three female Texas household. Instead of joy, she finds her mom lying on the living room floor with a bullet hole in her head, Rose is missing and a stranger is also dead. After calling 911, the hysterical Nora dials her visiting Dutch friend Professor Marijke van den Maas for comfort until Houston Police Lieutenant Richards arrives to take over the crime scene.

HPD, Child Abduction Rapid Deployment team and the FBI investigate the double murders and search for the missing infant, but their efforts go nowhere. As the case turns cold frantic Nora refuses to quit on rescuing her daughter. Nora looks into her parents’ past in Holland going back to WWII in search of clues as to the motive for the homicides and kidnapping.

The Tulip Eaters is an exciting mystery as what happened in the 1940s in the Old Country impacts what occurred almost four decades later in Texas. Grieving Nora holds the storyline together with her desperate search for Rose although she receives too much unlikely assistance on her frustrated fearful quest. Still this is a fabulous suspense thriller from the moment Nora is greeted by a mom’s worse nightmare.

Harriet Klausner

Peak Season For Murder-Gail Lukasik

October 24, 2013

Peak Season For Murder
Gail Lukasik
Five Star, Oct 9 2013, $25.95
ISBN 9781432827298

In Wisconsin, Door County Gazette reporter Leigh Girard covers the renovated Bayside Theater gala celebrating its 65th anniversary though her interest remains more on the disappearance of actress Danielle Moyer almost a quarter of a century ago. However, the journalist also is distracted by the death of homeless recovering alcoholic Brownie Lawrence.

Her editor Jake Stevens lectures her to ignore the Lawrence death though the late man’s friend insists he was murdered and not overly dwell on the cold case vanishing, instead he orders her to focus on the opening. Though she obeys Jake’s command, Leigh wonders what is going on at the theater after a bat invasion and several dangerous incidents. She also learns of strange activities occurring at Moyer’s abandoned cabin. Finally when actor Nate Ryan who was last in town twenty-three years ago dies, Leigh investigates.

The third Leigh Girard journalist mystery (see Destroying Angels and Death’s Door) is an entertaining mystery though too much emotional tsunami in the protagonist’s personal life detracts from the solid investigation. The fascinating look behind the scenes at a county theater adds depth to an engaging regional whodunit.

Harriet Klausner

The Case of the Love Commandos-Tarquin Hall

October 20, 2013

The Case of the Love Commandos
Tarquin Hall
Simon & Schuster, Oct 8 2013, $24.99
ISBN 9781451613261

In India Ram and Tulsi meet and fall in love. However, Tulsi’s father Mishra objects to the relationship as he and his daughter are upper class Thakur and Ram is a lowly Dalit Untouchable. Mishra threatens to kill Ram if he continues to pursue Tulsi.

The desperate pair asks the Love Commandos, who assist star-crossed couples overcoming caste differences impeding their marrying; they plan to help them elope. However, before they can wed, Ram is kidnapped. Love Commando Laxmi talks with her boss at the Most Private Investigators Ltd, Puri; who agrees to find the missing groom. Puri soon learns that someone murdered Ram’s mother with Mishra as the prime suspect. Feeling the resolution too simple, Puri digs deeper; while his Mummy goes after a person she believes is a pickpocket about to commit a deadlier crime; and his operative Facecream works undercover.

India’s Most Private Investigator’s latest case (see The Case of the Deadly Butter Chicken) is a fabulous investigative tale that looks deep at the remnants of the Caste system in which money has dented the rigidity but it remains strong otherwise. The engaging storyline rotates between Puri, Mummy and Facecream with the first being a terrific insightful whodunit, the second comedic relief (except if you are “Chubby” Puri or her suspect), and the third well done but not at the same level.

Harriet Klausner

Inherit The Dead-assorted authors

October 18, 2013

Inherit The Dead
Jonathan Santlofer, Stephen L. Carter, Marcia Clark, Heather Graham, Charlaine Harris, Sarah Weinman, Bryan Gruley, Alafair Burke, John Connolly, James Grady, Ken Bruen, Lisa Unger, S.J. Rozan, Dana Stabenow, Val McDermid,, Mary Higgins Clark, C.J. Box, Max Allan Collins, Mark Billingham and Lawrence Block
Touchstone, Oct 8 2013, $25.99
ISBN: 9781451684759

Affluent Upper East Side socialite Julia Drusilla hires disgraced ex-NYPD cop turned private investigator Pericles Christo to find her daughter Angelina Loki, who when she soon turns twenty-one will inherit a large sum of money if she signs the documents on her birthday. The fee she offers him is exorbitant as the case seems simple, but Perry knows his client can afford it.

As he begins his search for the missing Angel, Perry runs into duplicity from the young woman’s loved ones. Angel’s father, her boyfriend and her BFF outright lie or omit something critical; and his instincts scream his client is too. As he investigates, his inner homicide detective radar warns Perry that Angel may be in peril. Desperately trying to find the missing woman before she is hurt or dead, Christo becomes a target too as the inquiry takes him to the Hamptons and Brooklyn.

Inherit the Dead is a fabulous collaboration in which each author provides a chapter that brings their particular genre strength to the mix though that can be somewhat distracting. Still surprisingly smoothly integrated and filled with terse twists, fans will enjoy this entertaining noir in which “… royalties in excess of editor and contributor compensation to Safe Horizon, the leading victim assistance agency in the country.”

Harriet Klausner

Thankless In Death-.D. Robb

October 16, 2013

Thankless In Death
J.D. Robb
Putnam, Sep 17 2013, $27.95
ISBN: 9780399164422

In 2060 as Manhattanites prepare for Thanksgiving, twentyish Jerald Reinhold murders his mom using a knife. He patiently waits holding a bat for his dad to come home. After committing the homicides of his parents, Jerald flees the murder scene taking money with him

New York Police and Security Department Lieutenant Eve Dallas heads the investigation into the killings of Barbara and Carl Reinhold in their apartment. Though money was stolen, the violence indicates a crime of passion rather than a robbery that turned ugly. Thus Dallas and her team seek the couple’s missing son Jerald who has others to kill for their alleged affronts towards him.

The latest In Death futuristic police procedural (see Concealed In Death) is an engaging cat and mouse tale as the heroine knows the identity of the raging psychopath early on. Fast-paced, Dallas acts distracted perhaps because Roarke’s horde is arriving for the holidays as she makes blatant mistakes that lead readers to shout at her. Although the protagonist is not on her usual A-game, series fans still will enjoy aptly named Thankless In Death.

Harriet Klausner