Archive for the ‘Thriller’ Category

Wendell Black, MD-Gerald Imber, M.D.

February 20, 2014

Wendell Black, MD
Gerald Imber, M.D.
Harper/Bourbon Street, Feb 11 2014, $14.99
ISBN 9780062246851

NYPD police surgeon Dr. Wendell Black flies home from Heathrow when the purser asks him if he is a physician and if yes show identification. After an annoyed Wendell complies, the purser escorts him to middle aged Marjorie who explains the young woman next to her began sobbing and babbling while not looking very well. As he tries to ascertain the cause, the woman suffers a seizure and dies. Later ME Chief Dr. Benson informs Wendell that his airplane she-victim is Azuk Capinpin, a genetic anatomic-he who was a mule carrying heroin inside his body when the breast implant erupted killing him with an overdose.

Farzan Byarshan, a friend of Black’s girlfriend Dr. Alice Sheppard, provides Wendell with information about the dead person on the plane, but soon is murdered too. Alice vanishes while a frantic Black, working with the Feds, investigates what begins to look more like a terrorist plot rather than illegal drug smuggling.

The first Wendell Black, MD mystery is a thrilling whodunit that hooks the audience from the opening 747 scene and the fast-paced storyline never let’s go of its grip until the final confrontation. The plot loses some believability when it veers from a police procedural into a terrorist thriller, but retains the exciting action-packed tension as readers will appreciate Dr. Gerald Imber’s entertaining tale.

Harriet Klausner

Baptism-Max Kinnings

February 15, 2014

Max Kinnings
Quercus, Feb 4 2014, $24.95
ISBN 9781623651022

On Madic Farm in Snowdonia, Wales religious fanatic Tommy Denning deploys his plan to surrender to God’s will by killing Father Owen of the Church of Cruor Christi. Tommy, his even crazier sister Belle and Simeon head to South Wimbledon where they kidnap the wife and two children of George Wakeham to use as hostages in order force the subway driver to cooperate or else they will die.

During a severe heat wave that makes the London Underground an unmanageable sauna, Wakeham’s train stops between the Leicester Square and Tottenham Court Road stations while three hundred plus frightened passengers face heat stroke and imminent execution. Blind Police Detective Chief Inspector Ed Mallory tries to negotiate with the psychopath in charge. As the deaths mount, MI5 conducts a deadly lone wolf operation and officials inside air conditioned rooms take advantage of the situation to further their ambitions.

With a modern day fiery John Brown Taking of Pelham 123, Baptism is an exhilarating action-packed thriller that focuses on the danger of religious fanatics cherry picking the bible to defend their claim of doing God’s will even sacrificing the innocent like Abraham was willing to do. The key players are fascinating as each has major flaws they overcome in everyday life as George drives an underground train in spite of being a claustrophobic; Tommy is a 200 proof psychopath yet a brilliant methodical operational planner; and Ed uses his other senses to overcome his lack of sight. The two prime females (George’s wife and Tommy’s sister) are less developed but enhance, along with the support cast, this bloody look at a lethal brand of religious fanaticism.

Harriet Klausner

Poison Town-Creston Mapes

February 11, 2014

Poison Town
Creston Mapes
David C. Cook, Feb 1 2014, $14.99
ISBN 9781434704870

Trenton City Dispatch reporter Jack Crittendon remains angry for the house invasion that traumatized his daughters (seven years old Rebecca and five years old Faye) and the kidnapping by Granger Meade of his wife Pam (see Fear Has a Name). He hides his rage from his family, but his wife knows her husband is fuming even at the Lord; but she is unaware he carries a gun now that Meade is out on parole.

When Jack drops his car off at friend Travis Randall’s garage, the mechanic tells him that his father has begun to obtain proof that the Demler-Vargus run chemical plant produces fiberglass and a toxin making all the employees and many local residents ill. Jack investigates whether the plant with government approval or ignorance is changing Trenton, Ohio into Poison Town.

The second Crittendon Files Christian suspense thriller is an exciting timely environmental tale (think of Keystone) that rotates perspective so that the audience understands the full scope of the issue. Although the climax feels unlikely, fans will enjoy this tale as Jack, already dealing poorly with his faith battered, struggles with the avarice of the local industrial-government complex in which poisoning workers and locals is an acceptable money-making job creating (including the medical field) by-product.

Harriet Klausner

Downfall-Jeff Abbott

February 7, 2014

Jeff Abbott
Grand Central, Jan 28 2014, $8.00
ISBN 9781455528424

In San Francisco, Janice Keene places her reluctant daughter Diana in charge of their company while she goes to New Mexico for a no contact two week retreat. Soon after concerned and suspicious Diana leaves, a man calls Janice telling her she will use the identity of Marian Atkins and fly to Portland, Oregon while also reminding her to complete the mission for the sake of her beloved daughter.

Not long after Janice leaves town, believing her mom lied to her, Diana searches for the truth and soon finds a hidden video that reveals her mom’s greatest secret. The next day, Diana rushes into former CIA agent Sam Capra’s bar The Select begging for help as two thugs follow. Sam protects Diana and soon learns John Belias assigned assassin to kill the daughter of one of his soccer mom agents; and now the bar owner too is in the deadly crosshairs at a time when Sam needs to focus on identifying who poisoned Round Table member Dalton Monroe.

The third Sam Capra thriller (see Adrenaline and The Last Minute) is an exhilarating action-packed tale that never decelerates. The complex storyline grips the audience from the moment Diana races into the bar and never slows down as the exciting plot rushes the audience through five cities in five November days without a breather. Although over the top of the Rockies, fans will enjoy Capra’s entertaining adventures.

Harriet Klausner

Notorious-Allison Brennan

January 26, 2014

Allison Brennan
Minotaur, Mar 25 2014, $24.99
ISBN 9781250035059

Motivated by the unsolved death of close friend Lindy Ames when both attended Atherton Prep several years ago, renowned New York City-based reporter Maxine Revere works cold cases. Though never arrested the only suspect in the Ames murder classmate Kevin O’Neal commits suicide. Returning to her hometown of Atherton, California for the funeral of the man who was her high school best friend until he lied to her (and others) re his alibi; Max decides it is past time to work on the one inquiry close to her heart. Ironically, she muses this is a place where she is unwelcome even by her family since she initially supported Kevin in spite of his becoming the pariah.

Upon arrival at San Francisco International Airport with her assistant David Kane who is visiting his daughter, elderly Penny and Henry Hoffman recognize her and plead with her to look into the death of their grandson Jason a construction worker at Atherton Prep. In town Kevin’s sister Jodie insists her sibling was murdered and asks Max to investigate. Ignoring the police insistence she not make any inquires, Max looks into the two recent deaths and the cold case that haunts her.

With a nod to the Cold Justice TV show, the first Max Revere investigation is a fast-paced whodunit that has the protagonist working three inquiries tied to Atherton Prep over the objections of the cops, her family and most of the affluent residents. Although the enjoyable storyline is straightforward, readers will enjoy tough Max as the clues lead to the one place she prays it never goes.

Harriet Klausner

Crossbones Yard-Kate Rhodes

January 20, 2014

Crossbones Yard
Kate Rhodes
Minotaur, Jan 21 2014, $14.99
ISBN: 9781250038197

In London, psychiatrist Alice Quentin feels she became a good therapist because she understands the mental anguish and suffering of her patients as she deals with some of the same personal phobias; having been abused as a child including lock ups in dark closets. Alice the child has become very judgmental, condemning and unforgiving as Alice the audit; her parents know this first-hand. That does not prevent Southwark Detective Chief Inspector Burns employing Dr. Quentin as a consultant to determine how closely the police need to monitor the soon to be released (by the courts) convicted killer of a hooker.

While jogging at night in Southwark, Alice stops for a breather at historical Crossbones Cemetery. She notices a decomposed naked female corpse with crosses made by a knife all over the body. Not long after that gruesome discovery, near the van owned by her schizophrenic drug addict brother, Alice finds a second dead nude female prostitute with the same etchings on the skin as the first victim. The police provide protection to the psychiatrist due to death threats while more women are murdered in the same horrid way that was used by incarcerated Marie Benson and her deceased husband Ray.

The first Quentin case is a dark macabre serial killer thriller made fresh by an emotionally scarred heroine and an extremely weird over the top of Big Ben support cast. Readers who appreciate a grim whodunit starring a very flawed protagonist will want to jog Southwark with aptly named Alice.

Harriet Klausner

The Ascendant-Drew Chapman

January 17, 2014

The Ascendant
Drew Chapman
Simon & Schuster, Jan 7 2014, $25.00
ISBN: 9781476725888

Twenty-six year old Garrett Reilly lives in two states: anger at the world and being high. He is also Wall Street’s top bond trader because he quickly recognizes number patterns that no one else notices. He informs his boss at Jenkins & Altshuler, Avery Bernstein that the Chinese are selling off two hundred billion dollars of treasuries bought twelve years ago through Dubai-based Al Samir trading house by an unknown client. Garrett explains their plan to flood the market with debt and destroy the dollar. He further tells Avery they also can make a fortune on this.

DIA overhears Avery’s call to Treasury re Chinese selling of American debt. Major General Kline sends Captain Alexis Truffant, who insisted the Chinese declared war in a type never seen before, to test if Garrett is the Ascendant. In minutes, Garrett identifies who she is and why she seeks him out; except he hates the military since his brother died in combat in Afghanistan. DIA places hostile Garrett in charge of the modern day Cold War operations using market manipulation as the WMDs.

With a nod to the TV show Numb3rs but on a global scale, The Ascendant is a tense thriller that grips readers from the moment Garrett reads the pattern and never slows down as actions affirms his distrust of both sides in the monetary war. The protagonist is a fascinating antihero ironically placed in the position of saving a world he loathes by those he detests. Although the motive for the Chinese actions seem over the top of the Great Wall, readers will appreciate this action-packed tale as the latest “War to End All Wars” fought by a different set of numbers.

Harriet Klausner

The House On The Cliff-Charlotte Williams

January 16, 2014

The House On The Cliff
Charlotte Williams
Bourbon Street Books/HarperCollins, Jan 7 2014, $14.99
ISBN: 9780062284570

Actor Gwydion Morgan finds his anxiety attacks destroying his career and perhaps his life as he considers suicide to end his anguish. Desperate to overcome his phobia of buttons before he takes a final curtain call, Gwydion turns to Welsh psychotherapist Jessica Mayhew for help. Jessica finds her patient’s mental trauma fascinating as the actor’s freezing in abject fear from koumpounophobia and is prepared to end his misery by death. She investigates his family past and present and learns his au pair as a child drowned in a strange accident.

Jessica’s home life is in shambles as her rebellious teenage daughter is nasty towards her and her spouse admits to sleeping with someone else. Upset Jessica considers an unprofessional relationship with Gwydion and his renowned father director Evan Morgan.

The House on the Cliff is a wonderful psychological suspense that is at its best when the focus is on the therapist or her patient in conjunction with each other or with their respective families. The amateur sleuthing subplot detracts from an otherwise strong relationship drama starring a deep lead and a fully developed supporting cast.

Harriet Klausner

The Execution-Dick Wolf

January 15, 2014

The Execution
Dick Wolf
Morrow, Jan 7 2014, $27.99
ISBN: 9780062064851

Not long after the Mexican presidential election, someone beheads twenty-three people at the American border. Mexican Comandante Cecilia Garza recognizes the Hummingbird etching on each body as the trademark of Chuparosa the assassin. Garza concludes Chuparosa plans a major event at the United Nations Week summit in New York where her President Vargas will attend; so she heads to Manhattan.

Having dealt with Swedish jihadists coming through the porous Canadian border, NYPD Intelligence Division Detective Jeremy Fisk works security at the summit though his role is at the office. While a mass murder with decapitated bodies with etched hummingbirds occurs in Rockaway, Queens, Fisk meets Garza and learns of Chuparosa’s planned assassination of President Vargas. Though both suffer from the violent loss of loved ones and a need to cooperate, the two cops reluctantly agree to team up to not just prevent Chuparosa from causing murderous havoc at the UN and Manhattan, but to end his reign of terror permanently though neither of their agencies believe this mass killer exists.

The second Fisk police procedural (see The Intercept) is a strong thriller due to the fully developed lead triangle as readers get to know each of them; especially interesting is Garza whose motivation is her mother and sister. The fast-paced storyline is frantic as time runs out and action-packed but decelerates as the plot nears the anticipated climatic confrontation before regaining final twisting speed. Still this is a ride worth taking by genre fans.

Harriet Klausner

The Moses Virus-Jack Hyland

January 15, 2014

The Moses Virus
Jack Hyland
Taylor Trade, Jan 7 2014, $24.95
ISBN: 9781589799080

The American Academy of Rome sponsors an excavation led by Bryn Mawr College archeology professor Dr. Robert “Doc” Brown into an underground passageway at the Roman Forum that he believes leads to Nero’s Palace missing for 2000 years. Attending the dig besides Doc and his students are NYU Forensics Archeology Professor Dr. Tom Stewart and International Herald Tribune Jim Ruchet. With care and diligence, the staff lowers Doc and his assistant Eric Bowen into the hole. The pair reaches a crumbling wall which they manage to open only communications turn silent. A tug on the rope from above proves they remain tied but neither Doc or Eric pull back to show they are okay. Greg Bater goes down into the hole to find their corpses horribly twisted and moss covering them.

The autopsy states a long buried virus caused the deaths, but the official position is that a cave-in killed Doc and Eric while burying the passageway. No one believes this as journalists and shadier people stalk anyone at the dig. Fearing the virus will end up in unscrupulous hands and distrusting a private firm too interested in the virus; nor the Vatican, the Italian government and other interested nations to do the right thing to prevent a pandemic, Stewart seeks the virus to destroy it.

The Moses Virus is an exciting cautionary thriller that grips the audience once Eric enters the hole and never slows down until the climatic confrontation. Although grad student Alexandra Cellini is a strong brave female, her romantic tie to the beleaguered hero seems more of a subgenre requirement. Still readers will relish this fast-paced taut tale.

Harriet Klausner