Archive for July, 2008

Book Of Scandal-Julia London

July 31, 2008

Book Of Scandal

Julia London

Pocket, Aug 2008, $6.99

ISBN: 1416547118


Because of their beloved son’s death, the once loving marriage between Nathan Grey the Earl of Lindsey and his wife died too although they are not divorced.  Over the next five years Nathan ignored his spouse Evangeline while womanizing in rustic splendor.  Evangeline remained prim and proper while residing in London.


However, Nathan becomes irate and though he will not admit it to himself is jealous to hear rumors that Princess Caroline’s infamous book contains scandalous behavior by Evangeline.  He comes to London to save the Lindsey reputation; demanding she leave for the countryside with him.  Evangeline no longer needs the man she loves who deserted her when she most did; besides she plans to divorce him and marry someone else.  He realizes how much he misses his wife, but to persuade her he will not leave her again proves futile.  However, they become caught up in a dangerous treachery in which an unknown adversary will gladly kill husband and wife.


Using the historical reference book of aristocratic scandal written by Princess Caroline as a backdrop to a second chance at love Regency romance, Julia London cleverly freshens up a common theme.  The story line is driven by the broken relationship between Nathan and Evangeline as each coped with their loss in different ways, but neither was there for the other.  With the looming scandal of the Princess’ BOOK O SCANDAL serving as a sort of matchmaker, fans will relish this astute entertaining historical.


Harriet Klausner


Being Elizabeth-Barbara Taylor Bradford

July 31, 2008

Being Elizabeth

Barbara Taylor Bradford

St. Martin‘s, Sep 2008, $27.95

ISBN: 0312354630


With the death of Mary Turner, her estranged daughter Elizabeth inherits Deravenel’s due to her late father’s will.  However, the Board has issues with Elizabeth being in her twenties and with the poor stewardship of her mother.  Mary has left the company in financial trouble having removed profits needed for capital reinvestments to assist her husband, Philip Alvarez instead.


However, her influential childhood friend Robert Dunley throws his support to Elizabeth, who he believes is more than capable of turning the company around.   As they work together to save Deravenel’s, they initially try to ignore their attraction to one another.  However, that proves more difficult than dealing with the Board of Directors as love is more complicated than business relationships.


The latest Deravanel’s family drama continues the saga (see THE RAVENSCAR DYNASTY and THE HEIR) with a fabulous cute twist taken from sixteenth century England and brought to contemporary times.  The story line is character driven, as always is the case of a Barbara Taylor Bradford’ sweeping epic.  Fans of the author will fully appreciate this fine contemporary in the boardrooms and bedrooms as BEING ELIZABETH is a novel of substance.


Harriet Klausner


Deadly Beautiful-Sam Baker

July 31, 2008

Deadly Beautiful

Sam Baker

Ballantine, Aug 2008, $25.00

ISBN: 0345475909


When her career collapsed after leaving behind her teen years, former supermodel Scarlett Ulrich landed in Tokyo working at a bar.   However, when Scarlett, the face that launched a million album covers, vanishes; her half-sister, Luella “Lou” McCartney becomes concerned.  Knowing she needs help, Lou asks her reporter friend Annie Anderson to investigate. 


Anne explains she is now a fashion features editor for Handbag magazine and is no longer doing investigative journalism as she used to (see FASHION VICTIM); besides she is in New York City while Scarlett was in Tokyo.  However, Anne makes a few long distance inquiries and learns of Japan’s Roppongi Ripper, who has murdered several Western young blonde females; she fears Scarlett is on the dead list.  She heads to Tokyo to learn what happened to Scarlett.


The investigation is superb as Anne tries to find Scarlett, but it is the look at the fashion industry’s obsession with the young that makes the tale worth reading.  The father of the half-sisters symbolizes the youth fixation as Rufus is a “modelizer” who only wants to screw the latest superstar who is younger than his daughters.  Readers will enjoy Sam Baker’s fine exposé in which twenty is old, twenty five is the walking dead, and thirty is an ancient history corpse.


Harriet Klausner

Paint the Town Dead-Nancy Bell

July 31, 2008

Paint the Town Dead

Nancy Bell

St. Martin’s, Aug 2008, $23.95

ISBN: 0312362811


In Post Oak, Texas, someone executes realtor Tom Delgado, whose corpse is found by his office desk with a bullet to his head.  The police believe Tom’s wife Dovie killed him when they learn his will leaves his vast estate to Dallas evangelist Sister Mary Dobbs McDermott; Dovie received almost nothing.


However, Judge Jackson Crain has some doubts that the motive was the will and wonders if business dealings could have been the motive for the homicide; Delgado as the king of local real estate had many enemies amongst the pretenders to his throne, especially those who felt he cheated them.  The Judge begins his own brand of southern fried chicken investigation along side the police while also dealing with the strange behavior of his teenaged daughter Patty and starting a tryst with artist Roxanne Kruger; in town to spend time with her dying mother.


The third Judge Jackson Texas cozy (see RESTORED TO DEATH and DEATH SPLITS A HAIR) is an entertaining small town regional mystery that brings to life the townsfolk mostly through their relationship with the lead character.  Jackson is a delightful main character as his personal life seems ready to engulf him with tsuris, but his calm sense of humor helps him cope and provides the audience with amusing asides.  The whodunit pales next to the Judge and the colorful support cast, but sub-genre fans will not care as they will enjoy this funny Texas tale.


Harriet Klausner

Exit Music-Ian Rankin

July 31, 2008

Exit Music

Ian Rankin

Little, Brown, Sep 2008, $24.99

ISBN 9780316057585


For the first time he can remember Edinburgh Police Inspector John Rebus is worried about the future.  In ten days, the long time cop is turning sixty, which means mandatory retirement although he does not feel ready to leave the force.


Still, Rebus plans to finish his last cases although he only has ten working days left.  His prime investigation is the murder of Russian poet Alexander Todorov; in which he and his associate Detective Sergeant Siobhan Clarke find no motive, but a horde of odd conspiracies bantered about that include Russian businessmen, Scottish bankers and local politicians rallying behind an independent Scotland.  The case turns even more bizarre when a second homicide occurs; the victim taped a recital of Todorov reading his work.  Increasingly the inquiry points towards Edinburgh crime boss “Big Ger” Cafferty, but finding proof to pin two murders on the mobster in under ten days seem impossible.


The investigation takes a back seat to Rebus’ final police case before going into forced retirement.  Thus, as good as the previous  entries are, this may be the most personal as the emotions are high as fans wonder what will their hero do.  EXIT MUSIC is an excellent complicated police procedural as the great John Rebus works what is his apparent last police case.


Harriet Klausner


The Swap-Antony Moore

July 31, 2008

The Swap

Antony Moore

Delta, Sep 2008, $11.00

ISBN: 9780385342346


In London Harvey Briscow knows the event that destroyed his life that turned him into a comic book shopkeeper.  Two decades as a child attending school in Cornwall, he traded his Superman One comic book to an idiot Charles “Bleeder” Odd in exchange for a plastic pipe.  That comic book is worth a fortune and he wants it back.  Worse, where he is a failure, Bleeds is a bloody success


He goes to the twentieth class reunion praying Odd will show up, but has doubts his nemesis will and besides the comic book is probably long gone.  Still this time he vows to take it back if Bleeder still has it.  Thus Harvey breaks into Bleeder’s house to steal the comic book; instead the corpse of Bleeder’s mother greets him in the cellar; her throat slashed.  Soon after he flees the crime scene to return to London, Superman 1 shows up in the mail at his store.  The police are interested in Harvey as a murder suspect as he had the means, the motive and the opportunity. 


This is a fun dark thriller in which Harvey, Bleeder and Superman One are fully developed characters.  The story line is fast-paced from the moment Harvey decides to steal back his swapped prize possession and never slows down although the climax does not soar as high as the rest of the fascinating plot.  Harvey is a terrific individual who blames his chain smoking and alcoholic binges on THE SWAP and the diabolically brilliant Bleeder.  Superman one is almost like a lover Harvey once had carelessly discarded and now regrets his error.  Fans who appreciate a dark humorous thriller will enjoy the battle of wits between Harvey and Bleeder as Superman One completes their odd dysfunctional triangle.


Harriet Klausner

Silks-Dick Francis and Felix Francis

July 31, 2008


Dick Francis and Felix Francis

Putnam, Sep 2008, $25.95

ISBN: 0399155333


Julian Trent blames his former London barrister Geoffrey Mason for his initial assault conviction that was overturned on appeal.  Mason thought his client got off soft on an overwhelming lost case.  However, Trent believes his lawyer did not provide a proper defense and begins sending intimidating messages to Mason.


Although he has doubts bigger than Big Ben, Mason agrees to defend jockey Steve Mitchell against a murder charge.  Evidence is strong that a crime of passion occurred as witnesses saw Mason’s client and another jockey Scot Barlow arguing over the latter’s late sister who was the former’s girlfriend Millie when he was married with kids.  Barlow blamed Mitchell for his sister’s suicide while Mitchell blamed Barlow for informing his wife of the affair as his spouse divorced him, remarried an Aussie, and moved with their kids to Australia.  Not long after that Barlow was found murdered with the means being a pitchfork.  However, to his shock, unknown adversaries order Mason to lose the case or else they imply his septuagenarian father would be battered like his computer just was.


SILKS is a terrific legal thriller starring a barrister with a difficult case exponentially compounded by threats to lose and by Mason’s problems to focus as he also believes Trent is involved.  The story line is a fast ride around the track although racing is more background than usual in a Dick Francis thriller.  Although the courtroom revelation seems out of Perry Mason rather than Geoffrey Mason, fans enjoy the latest collaboration from the father and son Francis horse racing mystery team (see DEAD HEAT).


Harriet Klausner

Debatable Space-Philip Palmer

July 31, 2008

Debatable Space

Philip Palmer

Orbit, Sept 2008, $12.99, 396 pp.



Lena is traveling solo in deep space glad to get away from the perfection of thirty-first century Earth when the computer implanted in her brain informs her that a pirate ship is heading her way. The leader of the pirates Flanagan wins the battle and boards her ship telling her she is a hostage to be used in negotiations with Cheo the dictator of Earth. He knows of the special relationship that exists between the two of them and intends to exploit that.


Lena knows that when it looks hopeless, the Cheo will let her get killed. Flanagan has plans and one includes the liberation of his homeworld Cambria a slave colony ruled by Doppelganger Robots who are inhabited by the minds of the elite on Earth. He has a plan that would allow the crew to disconnect Cambrina from the universal web. From there he convinces the pirates from all over the galaxy to help him disconnect the beacons which would result in isolating Earth and freeing the empire. The only problem is the empire has warships in the millions and the pirates have ships in the six digit range.


Philip Palmer writes a terrific space opera and DEBATABLE SPACE would make a great marquee movie in the tradition of Star Wars. Alien races co-exist with humanity and the aliens are major characters so readers feel as if they actually exist. Readers ride an orbital roller coaster that takes us to various planets in the galaxy, making the audience realize how enslaved the human race is if they don’t live on Earth.


Harriet Klausner


Untamed-P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast

July 31, 2008


P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast

St. Martin’s, Sep 2008, $8.95

ISBN: 0312379838


When the Goddess Nyx marked Zoey Redbird she was moved to the House of Night School where as a fledgling vampire she studied what would happen to her including the changes to her body.  She understands that some fail to make it through the change; as evident by her best friend Stevie dying in her arms.  However, Stevie did not remain dead as the High priestess Neferet, who turned on Nyx and took the dark path, changed him into an Undead.  With Zoey’s help Stevie regained her humanity as did other fledglings.


With the death of two teachers, Neferat has declared war on the human race, but Zoey knows her for what she is and intends to stop her.  She does not realize that Neferet has awakened an ancient evil; the fallen angel Kalona who will soon be freed once the ceremony is completed along with his children Ravenmockers.  Zoey tries to prevent the ritual from succeeding knowing that if Kalona and his children walk the earth again, no one will survive who crosses the path they take even with the Gods on their side.


UNTAMED is the fourth House of Night urban fantasy (see CHOSEN) in which the forces of good an evil have come out into the open to battle for supremacy.  Zoey is terrific as she prepares for war in which she feels inadequate but knows no other option except to fight as flight is impossible against this opponent.  Zoey’s powers grow and her confidence with that.  Fans of the series will particularly relish this entry as the fledgling is beginning to take wing and soar, but her flight to join the fight is lethally dangerous.


Harriet Klausner

His Wicked Sin-Eve Silver

July 30, 2008

His Wicked Sin

Eve Silver

Zebra, Aug 2008, $5.99

ISBN: 0821781294


In 1828 Yorkshire, impoverished Elizabeth “Beth” Canham arrives at a remote site awaiting the coach to take her to Burndale Academy where she is the new teacher.  Griffin Fairfax offers her a ride although he admits he is not from the academy.  She accepts.  In front of Beth at the academy he asks a servant if she (not the servant) will come to him; the servant says she refused.  Upset he leaves abruptly for his nearby home at Wickham Hall; while Beth ponders her attraction to him.  Griffin is upset that Isobel would not come with him.  His housekeeper tells him her niece Sarah is missing and assumed murdered by the serial killer who is stalking the area.  Griffin thinks back to his late wife Amelia.


Beth senses that someone evil is watching her. It reminds her of her youth when she feared so much.  She fears the dark and small closed spaces, but tries to hide it.  She sees Griffin and tells him to go play with his daughter, but he refuses as he says she blames him for her mother’s death.  Griffin is attracted to Beth not just because she is pretty, but  because he feels she knows his soul and still wants him though he believess he is unworthy of her and asks if she heard of the rumors that he killed his wife.  Soon she will know all the answers, but may not live long to tell anyone else like the father and daughter she loves.


The serial killer subplot is cleverly designed so that the hero looks guilty and ties everything together while the romance between the lead couple is fun to follow.  Historical romantic suspense readers who like a gothic feel to their tales will enjoy Eve Silver’s fine late Regency.


Harriet Klausner