Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Death, Taxes, And Hot Pink Leg Warmers-Diane Kelly

June 15, 2013

Death, Taxes, And Hot Pink Leg Warmers
Diane Kelly
St. Martin’s, Jun 4 2013, $7.99
ISBN: 9781250023070

In Dallas, Treasury Department Criminal Investigation Team field operative Tara Holloway learns two things on her recent assignment: do not trust grannies with baseball bats and how hard her head is. Tara must be in court due to her role in the “Tennis Racketeers” tax evasion mortgage fraud.

Her field assignment is undercover at the Guys and Dolls strip joint to uncover unreported income earned from the sales of drugs and sex. Tara relishes this bookkeeping assignment as this may be the only place at this time in which she and Special Agent Nick Pratt can begin a relationship that both want. However someone wanting her dead intrudes on her desires and her ex reenters the picture (or not?).

The latest Tara Holloway IRS criminal investigation (see Death, Taxes, and a Skinny No-Whip Latte; and Death, Taxes, and a French Manicure) is an engaging thriller filled with humor and dangerous issues involving unreported income. Ironically, the storyline inductively shows the timeline to bring a novel to print as the reference to Josh Hamilton (bat that Granny used) has him still as a Ranger but he left for the Angels). Fans will enjoy Tara’s latest cases as she works to bring down the sleaze and her relationships at the same time.

Harriet Klausner

Candlemoth-R. J. Ellory

April 27, 2013

R. J. Ellory
Overlook, Apr 4 2013, $25.95
ISBN: 9781590205167

In 1982 as he sits on Death Row in South Carolina’s Sumter Penitentiary with thirty days left before his execution for murdering his best friend Nathan Verney, thirty six year old Daniel Ford muses he has been betrayed four times in his life as he chats with Father John Rousseau. Daniel, who has lived on Death Row for a third of his life, explains to the Chaplin that he and Nathan became friends as six year olds in 1952 Lake Marion, North Carolina though he being white and his buddy colored made their friendship difficult to sustain, but they did it. In the 1960s, they fled the draft. In 1971 Nathan was murdered and Daniel convicted.

This is a strong “memoir” that grips the audience throughout as Daniel tells his tale of betrayal to the backdrop of major events in the Deep South through three decades of tumultuous change. The twisting storyline hooks the reader with a need to know what happened as R. J. Ellory provides a fascinating dark bittersweet spin through recent Carolina history.

Harriet Klausner

The Big Beyond- Michael Lister

April 27, 2013

The Big Beyond
Michael Lister
Pottersville Press, Apr 12 2013, $16.00
ISBN: 9781888146332

During WWII in in 1940s Panama City, Florida, private investigator Jimmy “Soldier” Riley awakens strapped to a bunk after two thugs knocked him out. He has one thought besides his constant one of how he failed Lauren Lewis: quick death before the woman who hooked up electrodes to his penis can give him a charge. However, former combat pilot Clipper Jones and Salvation Army nurse Ruth Ann Johnson rescue him from the psychos.

Jimmy, who has lost his right hand to the mean streets and his soul to his dead angel, thinks what a trio as Clipper lost an eye so no longer flies military planes and Ruth Ann lost a leg providing combat medical care to troops. Ruth Ann loves Jimmy, but knows he remains obsessed with Lauren. She decides to have a makeover in her ghostly rival’s image because she believes
that is her only chance with him though she knows in her gut that Jimmy will not move on until he confronts Lauren’s killer.

The sequel to The Big Goodbye is an exhilarating historical noir that brings to life the Florida Panhandle during WWII. Action-packed from the moment the protagonist wakes up strapped, fans will enjoy the adventures of the three hardboiled wounded warriors investigating murders in Panama City.

Harriet Klausner

Double Play-Jen Estes

April 13, 2013

Double Play
Jen Estes
Camel, Apr 1 2013, $15.95
ISBN: 9781603819411

The Buffalo Soldiers make the postseason playoffs. Team reporter Catriona McDaniel is euphoric the team has a good chance of winning it all. She also loves her live-in boyfriend Professor Benji Levy even if he prefers comic books to baseball.

Her older charming half-brother Quinn McDaniel arrives in town to his sister’s chagrin. Benji likes the charming Quinn while ignoring Cat’s warning consternation. Following a gala at a steakhouse to celebrate making the playoffs that Quinn crashed; he, Benji and several players come to Cat’s home to play cards. Several beers late, star pitcher Ryan Brokaw falls off the balcony and breaks his non-throwing arm; ending the dreams of winning the World Series. As BPD Detective Khan and the team investigate the incident, the city blames Cat while the roguish Teflon Quinn once again escapes culpability.

The third Foul Cat McDaniel sports cozy is an engaging look at the convergence of money and baseball as Quinn’s arrival sets in motion a game ending Double Play for the beleaguered Cat, the most hated person in Buffalo. Though less baseball action than in the first two innings of the series (see Curveball and Big Leagues), fans will enjoy Cat’s family reunion as her seemingly bright long career in baseball appears to have hit into a game ending called strike three.

Harriet Klausner

April 8, 2013

The Bedlam Detective
Stephen Gallagher
Broadway/Crown, Feb 5 2013, $15.99
ISBN: 9780307406651

In 1912 logically he knows he could have done nothing to prevent the lynching he witnessed in America. However unable to move on from that troubling incident Sebastian Becker quit Pinkerton to return home to London; accompanied by his wife Elisabeth, their disturbed genius son Robert and his unmarried sister-in-law. He works for the Ministry of Lunacy as a special investigator.

His current assignment is to determine the sanity of Sir Owain Lancaster who recently came home from the Amazon where his family and team died in what the man said in his book “The Empire of Beasts” was an attack by monsters who followed him to England to finish the job. Becker arrives by a delayed train due to a wax misconception in Arnmouth while a hunt for two missing girls occurs. When their mutilated bodies are found, most locals including Detective Stephen Reed believe insane Sir Owain killed the children; while the accused insists his Amazonian beasts murdered them. Becker joins the inquiry.

The Bedlam Detective is an exciting Edwardian Era mystery that focuses on a small village where denial is the norm as the locals prefer either Sir Oswain to be insane or an outsider committed the atrocities. The keys to this strong historical are the cast including the title character, his family and the villagers are fully developed and a powerful look at mental health in 1905 as psychopathic beasts roam freely amidst the populace.

Harriet Klausner

If You Were Here-Alafair Burke

April 6, 2013

If You Were Here
Alafair Burke
Harper, Jun 4 2013, $25.99
ISBN 9780062208354

High school star baseball player Nicky Cervantes supplements his mom’s income by stealing cell phones. When he takes an IPhone from a woman, she kicks off her shoes and pursues him. Instead of out running her, the female gains ground on Nicky until she catches him. He stumbles onto the tracks with a train coming. The woman grabs him and tosses him back on the platform; picks up her phone and runs away. Another rider catches the whole incident on a cellphone. The media goes crazy trying to identify Superwoman, but though the video is grainy, NYC Magazine writer McKenna Jordan believes she is her friend West Point alumni Susan Hauptmann; who died a decade ago.

As the reporter searches for the woman she thinks is Susan; she also recalls the other terrible incident just prior to Hauptmann vanishing. When McKenna was a Manhattan ADA probing a cop shooting of a teenager, she concluded the victim was unarmed. Her accusation led to her career dying. When her copy of the Superwoman video is stolen from her computer, McKenna expands her search for Hauptmann to also relook at the case that exiled her from the legal system as this reminds her of what happened back then as once gain she risks her career and this time her marriage.

If You Were here is an exciting investigative thriller that grips readers from the onset. Fast-paced, the key to the entertaining storyline is Hauptmann and Jordan come across as real though some of the protagonist’s decisions seem plausible but dangerously foolish. Readers will enjoy this super thriller wondering what happened to cause Hauptmann to disappear and whether Jordan reaches too far in seeking the truth.

Harriet Klausner

Dark Tide-Elizabeth Haynes

March 17, 2013

Dark Tide
Elizabeth Haynes
Harper, Mar 12 2013, $14.99
ISBN 9780062197337

Genevieve Shipley worked two lucrative jobs in London. During the day, she was a successful software saleswoman; at night she made much more money as a pole dancer at the exclusive Barclay Club. When Genevieve attained her monetary goal, she quit both positions and the city to relocate in Kent living on the Revenge, a houseboat.

However, her idyllic retirement turns ugly during her first boat party when her friend from her dancing gig days Caddy is found floating dead in the water near Genevieve’s houseboat. Distraught and filled with guilt because the stunned Genevieve believes she was the intended victim as she assumes the motive for murder traces to a package she holds for Dylan the Barclay bouncer who has vanished and not responded to her texting.

When Dark Tide focuses on the package, the storyline is an exciting psychological thriller that grips readers with a need to know what is inside the box that led to a homicide and imperils the protagonist. When the plot spotlights pole and lap dancing (flashbacks) and houseboat repair it feels padded with extraneous information. Still the heroine engages the audience with her youthful conquers the world attitude leading to foolish missteps Into the Darkest Corner of society.

Harriet Klausner

Lucky Stiff-Annelise Ryan

March 13, 2013

Lucky Stiff
Annelise Ryan
Kensington, Mar 5 2013. $7.99
ISBN: 9780758272751

On Christmas Day in Sorenson, Wisconsin, medical examiner Mattie Winston and her boyfriend Police Detective Steve Hurley look at the remains of a burned house and the body inside. Mattie concludes the arson was used to conceal a homicide; as the victim died before the inferno began. The victim, paraplegic Jack Allen recently won a large casino jackpot. The pair agree that the obvious motive is greed especially since Jack’s safe was open and empty.

Mattie and Steve visit the North Woods Casino where Jack won big but ended up an unlucky stiff. They ask questions and realize many people knew of the winnings, which leads the deputy coroner and the cop to conclude several suspects besides the victim’s girlfriend and housekeeper had opportunity. However Mattie and Steve begin a second inquiry by heading into the cold water to examine the dead body of floater Donald Strommen who vanished a few weeks ago.

The latest Mattie Winston police procedural (see Working Stiff, Scared Stiff and Frozen Stiff) is an enjoyable mystery with two murders to solve. The madcap mayhem has been reduced in this exciting entry as the heroine seems to have moved on passed her nasty ex-husband although this time Steve’s past arises. Fans will appreciate this well-written Wisconsin whodunit as both cases prove difficult even with Mattie finding forensic evidence that leads to more questions than answers.

Harriet Klausner

Lady of Ashes-Christine Trent

March 6, 2013

Lady of Ashes
Christine Trent
Kensington, Feb 26 2013, $15.00
ISBN: 9780758265913

In 1861 London, Violet Morgan is super at dressing a corpse but terrible at keeping a house. Violet is fabulous sympathizing and assisting those grieving a loss, but unable to understand why her husband is so angry with her lately and for practical purposes no longer gets involved with his family’s Morgan Undertaking funeral services.

Violet is unaware that Graham loathes the Americans and joins a conspiracy to help the South gain their independence by selling weapons to the Confederacy. At the same time Violet is hired to provide funeral services for a close friend of the royals. At the same time Graham vanishes, Violet investigates deaths among the impoverished; not appreciating the risk she places herself in with her inquiry.

The mystery takes a back seat to the historical aspects of the engaging story line; as readers obtain insight into the strict rules of Victorian funerals and grieving. Violet is a wonderful protagonist whose husband condemns her for not keeping the house proper while she also undertakes all the tasks at their funeral business since he stopped working there in order to spend time defeating America. Ironically she finds giving respect to the dead a haven from her marital troubles. Her investigation is slow and begins somewhat late, but still fans will enjoy this entertaining Victorian tale.

Harriet Klausner

Blood Money-James Grippando

December 21, 2012

Blood Money

James Grippando

Harper, Jan 8 2013, $26.99

ISBN: 9780062109842


Miami defense attorney Jack Swyteck defends notorious nightclub waitress Sydney Bennett from the charge of murdering her two-year-old daughter Emma whose remains were found near the Everglades.  The public overwhelmingly convicted Sydney of the homicide of her child.


When the verdict from the Vero Beach jury is not guilty, disbelief and anger overwhelm a stunned nation.  Many hold Jack in contempt for getting the murdering mom off the hook.  He receives threats and other forms of harassment while the media go on an ugly feeding frenzy.  Near the jail where the acquitted Sydney is about to leave, a mob attacks college student Celeste Laramore, a Bennett look-alike leaving her comatose.  The victims’ irate parents blame the media especially BNN, who misidentified Celeste as Sydney on TV.  They turn to Swyteck to represent them as they sue BNN who accuse the Bennett defense team of going after Hollywood and publishing Blood Money.  As they and their loved ones are threatened, Jack and his crew begin to uncover a shocking truth behind the Blood Money.


Partly based on the Casey Anthony case, Blood Money is an action-packed legal thriller that spins in a shocking direction just after the early verdict.  The latest Swyteck case (see Afraid of the Dark) grips the audience throughout as the trial aftermath proves dangerous to the lawyer and anyone close to him.  Series fans will enjoy this entry as James Grippando condemns the media for seeking ratings over the truth.


Harriet Klausner