Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

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 (www.wmgpublishing.com), 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

Operation Mockingbird-Linda Baletsa

January 20, 2014

Operation Mockingbird
Linda Baletsa
Spratt & Co. LLC, Nov 14 2013, $14.99
http://www.lindabaletsa.com
ISBN: 9780989446105

Miami Chronicle reporter Matt Connelly exposed the excesses of Commissioner Suarez before the pair got into a public brawl that ended the already shaky relationship the journalist had with his girlfriend Dana Fried. Suarez’s affluent political connections also harm Connelly’s position at the paper so he decides to cover the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan but outside of the Defense Department’s embed program. After a stint in Fallujah he is in Kandahar when the Americans attack an alleged Taliban weapons stronghold killing many innocents and injuring Matt before the enemy captures him. A local helps him escape.

Back in Florida, his editor Kagan warns him the media has changed while he played war correspondent as you comply, die or quit. He further explains the paper’s new owner Armstrong Media demands upbeat compliant stories including fictional accounts treated as real news and not war horrors exposing the Pentagon propaganda like the false weapons claim that led to Mike’s shoulder injury and capture. Mike risks his life trying to tell the truth to an America not interested in honest reporting of dark news.

With a nod to the Yellow Journalism of the early twentieth century, Linda Baletsa provides a powerful exposé of the duplicity to a war-weary and scandal-scarred public by the industrial-government-media complex. Although heavy-handed with too much explanation (in fairness as expected by a twenty-first century version of Sinclair Lewis’ The Jungle), fans will relish Operation Mockingbird as those of us who care about the Fourth Estate providing real news (to include the depressing) are “Holding Out for a Hero” (by Bonnie Tyler) like idealistic Iron Mike.

Harriet Klausner

Zane Presents: Little White Lies-Cole Riley

December 28, 2013

Zane Presents: Little White Lies
Cole Riley
Strebor Books/Simon and Schuster, Nov 26 2013, $15.00
ISBN: 9781593095185

In Brooklyn, seventeen year old African-American Melvin is the star of his high school basketball team. He knows his future is in hoops so he avoids the neighborhood illicit action though the pressure on his succeeding is immense. However, after a particular bad stretch with a terrible court performance, his father’s condemnation and his girlfriend using him, depressed Melvin, ignoring his gut telling him not to go, attends a party.

At the party Melvin awakens from being drugged only to find blood all over him and the police accusing him of leading a gang raping of two white girls. Though he knows he did not commit the heinous assault, the police him keep hungry, frightened and depressed while his public defender fails him until Melvin cracks and confesses to the delight of the media and politician Representative Crudele whose daughter was one of the victims. In prison with no hope of getting out, Melvin tries suicide, but survives. As years pass with Melvin still behind bars, Rose the reporter looks into the case and finds major holes.

With a nod to Morris’ The Thin Blue Line, Cole Riley condemns American justice being color blind especially towards urban poor African-Americans. The tense storyline is at its best when Melvin as a victim loses when he goes up against the media-government complex and when the plot focuses on his hopeless feelings while incarcerated. Though the ending seems unlikely, readers will appreciate this profound look at being an impoverish Black facing a system that assumes his race and social class classify him with a presumption of guilt who (without assets) must prove his innocence beyond a reasonable doubt.

Harriet Klausner

The Vintage Club-Darin Gibby

December 12, 2013

The Vintage Club
Darin Gibby
Koehler Books, Dec 1 2013, $18.95
http://www.koehler.com
ISBN: 9781938467653

Reggie Alexander knows he comes a long way from his impoverished life as a DC orphan thanks to affluent Walter and Sherri Trudell who gave him shelter and sustenance from the street violence as one of their “projects”. Now married with a wife and son in Rockville, Reggie takes the o-dark commute to his work in Washington as a bureaucrat at the Patent Office.

Reggie’s safe family façade collapses when someone murders Walter; as the philanthropist’s associates at the Vintage Club believe he killed his savior. Not long afterward, Reggie’s wife and son vanish while he goes into hiding to avoid the assaults on him that emotionally take him back to his brutal childhood before the rescue. What Reggie is unaware of is that the Vintage Club members seek the Last Supper wine of immortality and think he killed Walter for it.

This Brownian thriller is an action-packed tale that removes a young man from his heavenly middle class existence and places him in hell with the return of his childhood PTSD; turning Reggie into an unconfident David facing presumptuous billionaire Goliaths. Though transitions are choppy (hazard of first books), fast-paced with fascinating interpretations from the bible, fresh use of customized nanotechnology, insight into patent law, and child trauma haunting the adult; readers will relish this engaging novel.

Harriet Klausner

Dorothy L. Sayers: The Complete Stories-Dorothy L. Sayers

October 24, 2013

Dorothy L. Sayers: The Complete Stories
Dorothy L. Sayers
Bourbon Street Books/HarperCollins Sep 17 2013, $19.99
ISBN: 9780062275493

This interesting anthology contains 21 Lord Peter Wimsey entries; 11 Montague Egg stories; and 12 assorted other tales. Similar in tone to his novel appearances (see Have His Carcase and Gaudy Night: A Lord Peter Wimsey Mystery with Harriet Vane), the Lord Peter tales include the fabulous whimsy Wimsey humor (see “The Entertaining Episode of the Article In Question” and The Unprincipled Affair of the Practical Joker”). Some were written with crossword puzzlers and family enablers enhancing the quirky humor (see “The Fascinating Problem With Uncle Meleager’s Will” and “The Adventurous Exploits of the Cave of Ali Baba”) and others contain unexpected Twilight Zone-like mystery spins to include “The Bibulous Business of a Matter of Taste. The wine-selling Montague Egg stories are more typical whodunits (see “Bitter Almonds”) as the protagonist is driven by a strong ethical sense of right and wrong. The Others section run the genre gauntlet with my favorites being the satires like “Scrawns’” salute to the gothics and “Nebuchadnezzar” salute to Charades the game. All the short stories provide readers with a sense of time and place and most are quite good though a few are weak; for instance “The Incredible Elopement of Lord Peter Wimsey” due to overwhelming use of happenchance. Overall this is a great compilation of the short works by one of the Great Dames of mystery.

Harriet Klausner

The Last Winter of Dani Lancing-.D. Viner

October 22, 2013

The Last Winter of Dani Lancing
P.D. Viner
Crown, Oct 8 2013, $26.00
ISBN: 9780804136822

Two decades ago in Durham, someone raped and murdered British college student Dani Lancing. The case remains unsolved but impacted the twentyish victim’s parents as neither of the separated pair moved on with their grief. Unable to cope with her death, Dani’s father Jim lives with his child’s ghost who does not remember the deadly assault on her; while her avenging seeking mother Patricia vigilantly searches for her daughter’s killer in a compulsion that will end with either the psychopath dead or her death. Also affected by Dani’s death is her childhood friend Tom “The Sad Man” Bevans; who after all this time still suffers from unrequited love and a sad obsession that rivals that of Patricia. He knows her death motivated him to become a cop in order to help victims and their loved one with closure.

Now a Detective Superintendent, Tom Bevans applies modern forensic technology to evidence gathered at the homicide scene twenty years ago. He informs Dani’s parents he plans to open the cold case, which triggers responses from Jim who refuses to lose his daughter for a second time; Patricia who renews her vendetta to kill the killer; Tom who hopes to move on; and those who prefer the murder remain unsolved.

The Last Winter of Dani Lancing is a fascinating character driven police procedural that focuses on what happens to the victim’s loved ones after her brutal murder. The flashbacks enhance understanding Dani without the rose colored glasses of her friend and parents as well as what drives the grieving trio, but also detract from the present day suspense. Still readers will enjoy this complex tale as Dani sums up: “It’s lonely being dead.”

Harriet Klausner

Carpathian-David L. Golemon

August 4, 2013

Carpathian
David L. Golemon
Dunne, Jul 30 2013, $25.99
ISBN 9781250013002

In 1556 BCE, Moses the Deliverer leads the Hebrew tribes across the shallow Sea of Reeds while the Egyptian Crown Prince Amun-her-khepeshef pursues those who caused the plagues with an army assault when the tide comes. In 1520 BCE on the Plain of Moab, Joshua leads a Hebrew army surrounding the city of Jericho when he makes a deal with Kalel, chief of the Tribe of Jeddah, to deploy their Golia in return for allowing them to vanish. In 1943 urns are found at the ancient site Jericho. In 1949, a few selected people see the fossilized remains of what looks more wolf than human inside these urns before they securely are placed in Department 5656’s vault 22871 Grimm.

In the present, the Event Group, led by Colonel Jack Collins, is assigned to learn the truth about the creatures in the urns. They follow clues that lead to Romania’s Carpathian Mountains where an ancient treasure allegedly exists. However, others with varying but deadly agendas want the treasure too while the Golia in their temple ferociously guard it from outsiders.

Over the top of the Carpathian Mountains is a fun fast paced Event Group thriller (see Ripper and Legacy) as several teams violently fight for the treasure but learn first-hand the biblical passage of “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” if you live long enough. Filled with action, several myths, and terrific ancient and other historical passages, readers will enjoy visiting “The land of the Impaler” with Collins and the Event group as their guide.

Harriet Klausner

Cold Coast-Jenifer LeClair

July 12, 2013

Cold Coast
Jenifer LeClair
Conquill Press, Jul 1 2013, $15.00
ISBN: 9780980001761

Minneapolis Homicide Detective Brie Beaumont remains on leave suffering from PTSD after being shot and her partner Phil killed while on duty five months ago. Currently she is second mate on the Schooner Maine Wind sailing with passengers and crew along the coast. When a Nor’easter strikes, Captain John DuLac pulls up anchor in Tucker Harbor. The next morning the storm has left the harbor but remains dangerously nearby so DuLac allows crew and passengers to explore the village for a few hours. While hiking to Heron Head on Final Reckoning Road, they find a corpse of a man whose neck was sliced. Brie protects the crime scene until Washington County law enforcement arrives.

Shorthanded and having seen the results of her work before (see Rigged for Murder), Maine State Police Detective Fenton asks Brie to help investigate the homicide of local trucker Jake Maloney. Since DuLac has an extra experienced hand onboard, he reluctantly agrees as he will miss his second mate for professional and personal reasons; but he knows Brie needs this test to determine whether she should return to law enforcement or continue sailing. MPD also supports Brie working the case. Brie questions the victim’s widow and his former employee until she finds a link to a cold case murder of a researcher.

Though waiting out a storm was used at Granite Harbor in Rigged for Murder, readers will enjoy this engaging police procedural as Jenifer LeClair once again vividly captures the Maine background in her latest Windjammer mystery (see Danger Sector). The eccentric Mainers add depth to a fabulous step by step investigation; fans will enjoy Brie trying to uncover secrets that should tie together two seemingly unrelated murders four years apart.

Harriet Klausner

The Loner-Lindsay McKenna

July 3, 2013

The Loner
Lindsay McKenna
Harlequin HQN, Jun 25 2013, $7.99
ISBN: 9780373777723

Former Navy SEAL Dakota Carson received a medical discharge due to an injured arm hurt in a firefight in Afghanistan. He also suffers from PTSD, which is why he lives alone high in the Tetons. When a bear attacks him, he and his friend Storm the wolf kills the raging animal but not before the beast bit deeply into his arm hitting an artery. Using combat medical skills, he controls the blood flow but needs to reach a hospital or die.

Dakota reaches the Jackson Hole Hospital ER parking lot where Sheriff Deputy Shelby Kincaid helps him inside. As he goes into surgery, he asks Shelby, who looks familiar, to take care of his wolf. As he recovers, Dakota thinks “Barbie Doll” is much tougher than she looks; refusing to accept his efforts to push her away. When killers target his Shelby, Dakota risks his life to keep her safe from the adversaries who had ties to his family tragedy that led to his joining the military at eighteen.

The key to this strong military romantic suspense is the slowly changing relationship between the protagonists as the SEAL’s crippling PTSD does not magically vanish because he fell in love though that helps. Action-packed in a terrific outdoors environment, fans will anticipate the confrontation between the vicious killers and the fully developed loving heroes.

Harriet Klausner

Into The Dark-Rick Mofina

June 27, 2013

Into The Dark
Rick Mofina
Mira, Jun 25 2013, $7.99
ISBN: 9780778315001

Single dad, LAPD Detective Joe Tanner has no time to grieve his wife’s death as he leads a Southern California task force dealing with a serial killer who murdered five people in the area though the culprit has been seemingly dormant lately. With media cooperation, Joe hopes to capture the psychopath soon, but instead this predator taunts him and his team with a message that says the next chosen one to die has been selected so “race the clock … to save the next victim” from the Dark Wind Killer.

After an abusive childhood, psychologist Dr. Claire Bowen dedicates her life to helping victims like she was. While she is at a fertility clinic as a potential patient, her husband Robert the pilot saves a family from a car fire. When someone breaks into Claire’s office to steal records and a patient vanishes that brings her into the serial killer case, she realizes she knows nothing about her spouse’s background.

Into The Dark is a gripping psychological police procedural although readers will know who the psychopath is early on. The taut storyline is gripping once the fully developed cast (especially the troubled killer as the audience learns why the urge to kill) is introduced as Rick Mofina makes a strong case that the untreated abused child becomes the disturbed adult who can masquerade as a normal (whatever that is) person.

Harriet Klausner