Archive for the ‘Regional Mystery’ Category

NightZone-Steven F. Havill

October 20, 2013

Steven F. Havill
Poisoned Pen, Oct 8 2013, $24.95
ISBN 9781464200700

Retired Posadas County Sheriff Bill Gastner can’t sleep so he goes outside to enjoy the view of the night sky. The septuagenarian notices a fire and that the power in the area is out. He calls it in and heads to the blaze approximately 20 miles from the mesa where he was stargazing. Once there, Gastner finds a corpse and carved up wooden power-line supports.

Although he knows better than to get involved, Gastner makes inquiries. A cop’s murder leads him to believe the arson, vandalism and two deaths relate to local rancher Miles Waddell’s dream of Nightzone; the astronomy-based theme park resort that many New Mexican environmentalists allied with anti-federalists oppose.

The key to this super Posadas County mystery (see One Perfect Shot) is the protagonist acts like a person who is seventy-four years old as he tires much quicker than when he was the sheriff. The key characters (besides family) are divided over the Nightzone development, but each group is populated by real people instead of casting 101 stereotypes. Steven F. Havill writes a strong timely investigative tale.

Harriet Klausner

Death on Demand-Paul Thomas

October 20, 2013

Death on Demand
Paul Thomas
Bitter Lemon, Oct 8 2013, $14.95
ISBN 9781908524171

Six years ago, friends Adrian, Christopher, Fraser and Jonathan go on vacation together as they have done every year for fifteen years regardless of family and work needs. This time they go to Waiheke Island where they discuss solving their personal problems by hiring a hit man.

Three months later, a car kills Joyce while she jogged in St. Heliers, Auckland. Not long after that a mugger slices the throat of Roger in Ponsonrby, Auckland. Nine months ago, Evelyn is murdered in Auckland. As more deaths occur to include an undercover cop, Detective Sergeant Tito Ihaka investigates what appears to be a serial killer for hire; at the same time Auckland Central PD wants to exile the Maori police officer allegedly for his unruly behavior and appearance.

The latest Ihaka New Zealand police procedural (see Guerilla Season) is a fantastic investigative tale. The taut leisurely-paced storyline is filled with twists as the always in trouble with the brass protagonist works the case and deals with racism from his peers and superiors in his brusque manner.

Harriet Klausner

Aunty Lee’s Delights-Ovidia Yu

September 25, 2013

Aunty Lee’s Delights
Ovidia Yu
Morrow, Sep 17 2013, $14.99
ISBN 9780062227157

In the resort island of Sentosa, Singapore the young couple in love walk the beach when they see the plastic that looks like a large dead jellyfish. When they get closer they see the corpse inside the bag.

Widow Rosie “Aunty” Lee hosts her stepson Mark’s wine-tasting party at her Aunty Lee’s Delights Restaurant. Mark’s wife receives a text from Laura Kwee who says she will not make it. Police Commissioner Raja and Senior Staff Sergeant Salim arrive at the restaurant to interview Aunty Lee, her stepson and their guests as the victim in the plastic bag is Laura Kwee who forensics says was probably in the water for three days. Aunty Lee and maid Nina Balignasay investigate the homicide of the guest who failed to come to dinner.

This Singaporean Mystery is an enjoyable whodunit as Aunty Lee feels obligated to solve the homicide as the victim was a guest. She adapts her recipe-creating skill to her inquiry with the help of her sidekick Nina. Although the rest of the cast are stereotypes of the amateur sleuth subgenre, readers will appreciate the two female detectives as they work the case in a fresh locale.

Harriet Klausner

Alex-Pierre LeMaitre; Frank Wynne (translator)

September 13, 2013

Pierre LeMaitre; Frank Wynne (translator)
MacLehose/Quercus, Sep 3 2013, $24.95
ISBN: 9781623650001

In Paris thirty year old Alex Prevost knows she has become a beautiful young woman yet has doubts about her looks as she never forgets her days as a stammering ugly teen. She notices the fiftyish male seemingly following her, as she saw him in the Metro, the street and outside a shop; but assumes she is being inanely paranoid though her nervousness about him makes her stammer.

Alex starts to walk home when a van pulls up next to her. That same man grabs her hair but pulls off her wig so she he punches her in the stomach causing her to puke before flipping her into the van and driving away. A witness walking his dog tells height deprived Police Commandant Camille Verhoeven what happened. Though he prefers the case was not his as he still grieves the abduction-murder of his wife, Camille realizes he must ignore his feelings since his only experienced peer Morel is in Lyons and knows time is running out on the victim especially when no demands from the kidnapper surfaces.

This is a terrific twisting thriller anchored by a dark description of Paris by how Camille sees the City of Lights. With two fully developed supporting cops on the lead team, readers will appreciate this exciting French police procedural as the hero, who faces constant height deficient prejudice, believes the victim is already dead.

Harriet Klausner

Strong Rain Falling: A Caitlin Strong Novel-Jon Land

August 17, 2013

Strong Rain Falling: A Caitlin Strong Novel
Jon Land
Forge, Aug 13 2013, $25.99
ISBN 9780765331502

Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong travels to Brown University with Dylan Torres, the son of her lover Cort Wesley Masters. In Providence, gunmen try to kill Dylan.

At the same time in San Antonio, gunmen also try to kill Dylan’s brother, Luke. Trying to understand the motive to kill the two teens, Strong and Masters uncover a scheme that goes back to the origin of Mexican drug cartels in 1919, which led to an opium war between the traffickers and Texas Rangers including Caitlin’s great-grandfather, William Ray Strong. With help from German philosophy student Guillermo Paz, Strong realizes the last descendent of the drug cartel founding family Ana Callas Guajardo has a sinister scheme to destroy the United States.

The latest Caitlin Strong thriller (see Strong Vengeance and Strong at the Break) is a terrific action-packed tale starring a courageous fifth generation Texas Ranger and her fascinating adversary a descendent of the first generation drug cartel chieftain. Though the transitions between chapters feel misplaced, readers will enjoy this strong fast-paced entry includes fascinating Ranger and drug cartel intertwined history supporting the contemporary intertwined real and cyber war.

Harriet Klausner

A Crack in the Wall-Claudia Piñeiro, translated by Miranda France

July 25, 2013

A Crack in the Wall
Claudia Piñeiro, translated by Miranda France
Bitter Lemon, Aug 1 2013, $14.95
ISBN 9781908524089

In 2007 in Buenos Aires, twenty-something Leonor Corell visits the office of Borla and Associates, an architectural firm. She asks Borla, fortyish Pablo Simó and Marta Horvat if any of them know where Nelson Jara is. Though they rehearsed their response if the question came up and Borla says no, Pablo fails immediately to respond as his world shifted with that inquiry. However, he recovers as he and Marta deny knowing a Jara.

Three years earlier, Simó, Borla and Horvat buried Jara under the concrete of the parking lot. At a café, Corell sees Simó and asks him to help her with a photography assignment. Though he should say no, he agrees to assist her while wondering if his motive is guilt or a need for dangerous freshness with his marriage falling apart, his daughter in rebellion, and his work boring while his dream of designing a special tower is dead.

The latest Claudia Piñeiro Argentinian thriller (see Thursday night Widows and All Yours) is a fabulous tale that rotates between the Jara burial and the relationship between Pablo and Leonor. Gripping from the moment the young woman asks her question, readers will relish this taut twisting psychological suspense as Simó faces A Crack in the Wall as big as an iceberg.

Harriet Klausner

Death of a Chef-Alexander Campion

June 25, 2013

Death of a Chef
Alexander Campion
Kensington, Jun 25 2013, $24.00
ISBN: 9780758268815

Rumors abound that renowned Chez la Mere Denis chef Jean-Louis Brault was going to be reduced to two-star Michelin status. Thus when his corpse is found with a shotgun inside a pre-WWI Vuitton portmanteau purchased by Cecile at the Paris Flea Market, everyone in the gourmet industry assumes he committed suicide as his ego could not cope with the demotion.

Cecile called her friend Paris Police Judiciaire Commissaire Capucine Le Tellier to look inside the portmanteau. The cop thinks a homicide occurred and begins an inquiry. A pretty TV talking head implies Le Tellier is protecting food critics like Lucien Folon who unmercifully assaulted Brault in print and the Commissaire’s husband Le Monde’s Alexandre de Huguelet. Looking forward to shoving the killer’s identity down the throat of the inane talking head, Capucine and her team investigate the death of a Chef.

The latest captivating Capucine Culinary Mystery (see Grave Gourmet, Killer Critique and Crime Fraiche) is an enjoyable leisurely-paced police procedural. The storyline deliciously connects the Elysee Palace with haute cuisine as Capucine and Brigadier-Chief Isabelle Lemercier work the case that ends with a twist of justice.

Harriet Klausner

Hour of the Rat-Lisa Brackmann

June 19, 2013

Hour of the Rat
Lisa Brackmann
Soho Crime, Jun 18 2013, $25.00
ISBN 9781616952341

Twenty-something Iraq war veteran Ellie McEnroe works as an art dealer in Beijing. She loves her job and the dynamic city she has lived in for three years in spite of the air quality and her always in trouble mother residing with her; but also knows that the Chinese Domestic Security Department (DSD) secret police watch her every move because she is a foreigner who represents political dissident clients.

Two cops bring Ellie is for a spot of tea. Her “friend” John, Zhou Zheng’an and a DSD agent question her about her client Lao Zhang Jianlo. After they are finished for now with her, Ellie limps home on her war injured leg when John intercedes and drives her home. He suggests she leave Beijing for the moment so heeding his advice, Ellie and mom rusticate while searching for the missing American activist Jason, brother of her comrade in arms Dog Turner.

The latest Ellie McEnroe China mystery (see Rock Paper Tiger) is a fabulous thriller that vividly brings to life Beijing and the rural countryside. Ellie is terrific as she tours the country seeking Jason who has a raging business cartel perusing him. Readers will enjoy Ellie’s awesome adventures as she and mom share in common on thing besides DNA: getting into trouble.

Harriet Klausner

The Abomination-Jonathan Holt

June 19, 2013

The Abomination
Jonathan Holt
Harper, Jun 18 2013, $25.99
ISBN: 9780062264336

In Venice, while people enjoy the feast of La Befana, a fisherman finds a body floating near the Santa Maria delle Salute. Carabinieri Detective Katerina Tapo leads her first homicide investigation into the Abomination desecration as the female victim wore a priest’s garb and had two bullets in her head.

At the nearby U.S. military Camp Ederle, Second Lieutenant Holly Boland searches for missing documents requested by Barbara Holton under the Freedom of Information Act. Boland’s inquiry and that of Tapo intersect at Daniele Barbo’s cyber Venice site As their superiors warn both women not to stray, the two female investigators team up on the murder and vanished documents.

The Abomination is an exhilarating Venetian investigative thriller starring three diligent individuals and obviously Venice. The entertaining storyline is loaded with several mysteries inside one another like Russian nesting dolls as one is solved only to lead to another even connecting to Croatia. Although none of the steadfast lead triangle is dynamic, readers will enjoy Jonathan Holt’s tense tale.

Harriet Klausner

The Sound of One Hand Killing-Teresa Solana, translated by Peter Bush

May 15, 2013

The Sound of One Hand Killing
Teresa Solana, translated by Peter Bush
Bitter Lemon, May 7 2013, $14.95
ISBN 9781908524065

In Barcelona detective twins Eduard Martínez and Borja Masdéu return to their office only to find someone broke in and trashed the place. Heeding the advice of a friend, best-selling noir author Teresa Solana hires the siblings to investigate alternative therapies for a noir she plans to write while she stays in a vacant apartment upstairs.

Instead they find the apartment’s occupant Brian Morgan dead inside, but Borja’s Assyrian statue, the Lioness of Baghdad, he stashed there remains safe there. Although unaware that the corpse is CIA, the brothers sign up for various New Age classes. Only they find a director Dr. Horaci Bou murdered by a Buddha statue.

The third Borja and Eduard Barcelona satirical Noir (see A Shortcut to Paradise and A Not So Perfect Crime) continues to lampoon the sub-genre while this time also mocking New Age saviors. The enjoyable storyline rotates between the two homicides and Borja’s smuggling efforts. However it is the amusing skewing of con artists (especially believers who con themselves) preying on those struggling to find healing for even regular life ills in order to live as a norm in an abnormal land.

Harriet Klausner