Archive for April, 2009

The Plague of Doves-Louise Erdrich

April 30, 2009

The Plague of Doves

Louise Erdrich

Harper, May 12 2009, $14.99

ISBN: 9780060515133

The massacre occurs on a farm near Pluto, North Dakota. Only an infant daughter survives. The white community is outraged and in a fevered pitch, a posse acting more like a mob search for Ojibwe Indians whom they blame for the horrific incident. When the posse finds several Indians, they hold them responsible without evidence and hang them; one of them Seraph “Mooshum” Milk survives.

Over the next few decades, the families involved in the lynching incident intermingle. Mooshum’s granddaughter Evelina Harp is raised on a nearby reservation in the1 960s and 1970s. As a teen she falls for bad-boy Corwin Peace and is friendly with a nun, who unbeknownst to her is descendents of the lynch mob; in fact she is too as part of her family come from that vigilante mob. Evelina attends college and work at a mental asylum Corwin becomes a felon.

In some ways this excellent story is a series of vignettes that are told in a non-linear manner; a technique that adds depth to what happened in 1911 and how by the 1970s the descendents of those involved in the two murderous incidents have intertwining lives. The complex story line is made even more complex by the many fully developed and important characters although Evelina as the narrator keeps the plot sort of focused. This is a winner as fans learn through a lot of seemingly irrelevant and apparently unrelated clues the truth of that tragic year once the big picture becomes complete. Louise Erdrich is at the top of her game with this terrific tale.

Harriet Klausner

Man of Fate-Rochelle Alers

April 30, 2009

Man of Fate

Rochelle Alers

Kimani, Jun 2009, $6.99

ISBN: 9780373831609

Somewhat distracted as she is driving to an emergency meeting with a client, social worker Ava Warrick crashes into the vehicle driven by attorney Kyle Chatham. Instead of seeing her client, Ava ends up in the hospital with a concussion. Kyle takes responsibility to insure she gets the best care though he did not cause the accident. He believes fate led to a fender bender meeting, but Ava scoffs at his kismet theory.

Ironically, neither wants a relationship, but both are attracted to one another. Soon the attorney and the social worker begin to fall in love. However, whereas his feelings accentuate his belief they are destiny’s darlings, she has doubts; he must persuade his beloved that he is her MAN OF FATE.

The first Best Men tale is a terrific contemporary that starts with a bang as Kyle and Ava learn a basic physics 101 lesson that two objects sharing the same place is a fender bender. As their relationship changes, they learn advanced physics in which two hearts beat as one. Clearly character driven (even inside his Jag), Rochelle Alers provides her audience with a fabulous contemporary New York romance and the anticipation that Kyle’s best friends and brownstone partners Duncan and Ivan will soon follow.

Harriet Klausner

Deep Down-Karen Harper

April 30, 2009

Deep Down

Karen Harper

Mira, Jun 2009, $7.99

ISBN: 9780778326458

In the Appalachia side of Kentucky, Sheriff Drew Webb of Deep Down calls Jess Lockwood to tell that her mom Mariah has disappeared. Only for Mariah would Jess come home as does not want to remember how much she once loved Drew.

Apparently, as part of the job her daughter got her several years ago Mariah was searching for Sang, a ginseng that is on the endangered species list. In the midst of her work, she vanished. Although Drew has no proof that foul play occurred, he quickly finds suspects who might harm Mariah as he and Jess believe her mom’s being missing is linked to Sang. As they investigate together, their previous feelings ignite, but first there is finding Mariah with neither suspecting how dangerous their inquiry will soon prove.

DEEP DOWN is an action-packed, fast-paced police procedural romantic suspense. The keys to the super story line are the fully developed lead couple as the audience will feel Mariah’s dichotomy of emotions of love and fear, and the location that adds a gloomy sinister ambiance. Readers will appreciate this exciting thriller as the heroine learns you can go home perhaps to die.

Harriet Klausner

Dangerous Lies-Anna Louise Lucia

April 30, 2009

Dangerous Lies

Anna Louise Lucia

Medallion, Jun 2009, $7.95

ISBN 9781934755082

Following the death of her father grieving twenty-four year old Englishwoman Marianne “Mari” Forster vacations in Rabat, Morocco so she can visit her paternal roots as her grandfather lived in the city. Nearby in the Sahara, thirtyish Alan Waring removes a smart card from a laptop held securely by a corpse. When worldly Alan and naively Mari meet, the attraction could light up the entire Atlantic coast of the country. After they make love, he leaves for home to deliver the smart card; only he grabs her bag instead of his.

Soon after he is in the air realizing his blunder, terrorists kidnap Mari. They rendition her taking her to Algeria as they seek the smart card. Meanwhile Alan has returned to North Africa seeking Mari and the card.

This engaging desert romantic suspense is a fun tale especially when the lead couple heat up Northern Africa. The story line is fast-paced when Mari and Alan couple, but slows down when they are apart even when she is held hostage. Thus fans who enjoy a fun contemporary romance with elements of intrigue will enjoy DANGEROUS LIES, but also need to understand the thriller elements never take charge nor anchor the plot, and in some ways feel more a detractor. Still the lead pair make for a fine African romance.

Harriet Klausner

The Secret Speech-Tom Rob Smith

April 30, 2009

The Secret Speech

Tom Rob Smith

Grand Central, May 2009, $24.99

ISBN: 9780446402408

In 1956 at the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Khrushchev claims Stalin was too paranoid leading to unnecessary fears throughout the country. He wants to loosen the controls so people can breathe without fear of being sent to a Gulag. However, THE SECRET SPEECH gets out and soon angry people retaliate against those who harmed family; mostly security officers.

One of those who know he deserves assaults from those harmed is former MGB security officer Leo Demidov. He hopes his work as a homicide detective will give him some redemption, but he also believes he cannot ever make up for the atrocities he committed or allowed. Still using the success of catching a serial killer (see CHILD 44), he obtains official blessing to form a homicide police unit. As his peers from the Stalin days of torture commit suicide rather than face vigilante justice, Fraera the wife of a priest Leo sent to Siberia, abducts his daughter Zoya as a hostage and informs the cop release her spouse from the gulag or have his child returned dead.

Based on a real event that Gorbachev acknowledged in 2007 was the first courageous step away from Stalin’s brutal totalitarian reign, THE SECRET SPEECH is a great Soviet historical police procedural. The cast is strong especially the remorseful hero whose beloved daughter has become a pawn in a dangerous game and his and outraged enemy. As with the CHILD 44 case, Tom Rob Smith provides a deep Cold War era mystery in which 1950s Soviet Russia is the star; as readers will travel on frozen solid prison ships and underground Moscow to see a side of the nation the Communists hid.

Harriet Klausner

Back To Life-Linda O. Johnston

April 30, 2009

Back To Life

Linda O. Johnston

Silhouette Nocturne, Jun 2009, $5.25

ISBN: 9780373618132

During an assault with four other Angeles Beach SWAT officers, Trevor Owens is shot in the neck. The murder suspect Jerome Marinaro somehow escapes seemingly vanishing in thin air. K9 officer Skye Rydell saves his life by using her Valkyrie powers on Trevor because she senses he must complete something still on earth.

Skye knows she is also attracted to the SWAT officer, but avoids him because she fears he suspects his life was saved by paranormal means; something she keeps secret. However, Trevor has not forgotten his angel nor her dog (Bella) whom he knows saved his life somehow. He also believes he has things left to do on earth starting with following up on his attraction to that mysterious female.

Fans of paranormal romantic suspense thrillers will enjoy this engaging police procedural due to the actions and reluctant reactions of the lead couple towards one another. In fact Skye’s mixed feelings of wanting Trevor and avoiding him make the tale fun to read as she comes across so human in spite of her Valkyrie powers. BACK TO LIFE is a well written romantic thriller.

Harriet Klausner


From The Mists Of Wolf Creek-Rebecca Brandewyne

April 30, 2009

From The Mists Of Wolf Creek

Rebecca Brandewyne

Silhouette Nocturne, Jun 2009, $5.25

ISBN: 9780373618125

Hallie Muldoon decides to return to Wolf Creek after her late grandma bequeathes her the family farmhouse where Hallie remembers having spent great times growing up whenever she stayed there. However, still grieving her loss since only a month has passed since her grandma died, she ignores a Starry Night that van Gogh would appreciate. However as she drives on the two lane road in her sporty red Mini Cooper S, she sees a large black wolf.

Aunt Gwen greets her at the farm. Gwen has hired Trace Coltrane to repair the farm. However, soon inexplicable things begin to occur to include a stalker; with each incident the large black wolf appears ready to keep Hallie safe. Hallie begins to wonder if the strange occurrences including the wolf might be tied to her mom’s death several years ago.

This is an intriguing romantic suspense thriller in which the audience will wonder if the threat is psychological or paranormal as hints of both surface throughout the fine story line. Hallie and Trace are a wonderful pairing as she wonders just who he is. Although the ending is too fast and abrupt, fans will enjoy learning the secrets FROM THE MISTS OF WOLF CREEK.

Harriet Klausner

The Bone Factory-Nate Kenyon

April 30, 2009

The Bone Factory

Nate Kenyon

Leisure, Jul 2009, $7.99

ISBN: 0843962879

Worried for the future especially their daughter Jessie, David and Helen Pierce are reaching the bottom of their savings. He is currently tring to get work having quit his last job when his superior stole his ideas without giving him any credit; his supervisor’s boss sided against David so he left. In retaliation they blacklisted him as a malcontent in the industry; no one will hire him due to the lies.

Hydro Development is building a hydroplant in an isolated area of Quebec. Michael Olmsted interviews and hires David for the position of completing the plan and overseeing the development of the reservoir in tiny Jackson. David and his family relocate to Jackson in the winter so can do little on the project. Jessie is clairvoyant, but her parents are in denial unable to accept the paranormal especially with their child. They soon learn the house they currently reside in, once had a little girl who just vanished without a trace; as did one of the searchers. Jessie and David see a shadow being, but both assume it is their active imagination while Helen fears she is being watched by a stalker though she sees no one. None of them understands the danger they face while a local deputy sheriff has stumbled onto a horrific site in the nearby woods that unless a miracle occurs could be the next stop for the Pierce trio.

There is a growing sense of foreboding as animals and fish look strange and a psychotic person disappears. Jessie’s visions increase that feeling as the reader senses like she does something is coming for her. As the Pierces put together the puzzle pieces, their chances of survival decreases; their only hope to get out alive is if David can find the missing links that relate the incidents to the project. Fans will enjoy Nate Kenyon’s creepy horror thriller as the next stop for the Pierce family appears to be a one way ticket to hell.

Harriet Klausner

Julia And The Master Of Morancourt-Janet Aylmer

April 29, 2009

Julia And The Master Of Morancourt

Janet Aylmer

Harper, Apr 2009, $14.99

ISBN: 0061672955

In rustic Derbyshire, Julia Maitland would be the first to admit she had a near perfect childhood along with her younger sisters and her brother. Perhaps the only down part is her brother is fighting for the British against Napoleon and though she supports the cause she fears for her sibling. Still she looks forward to her first season in society where she hopes to make a match with a handsome caring gentleman who finds her attractive.

However, Julia’s lifestyle and season collapses when her father’s investments fails followed by the news that her brother David died in combat. While the family grieves and adjusts to poverty, the patriarch suffers from depression and a weak heart leading to his wife’s desperation to make a suitable match for her oldest daughter as options are limited by society. Thus Julia ends up in London and Bath. That is followed by a trek to Dorsett with her Aunt Lucy where the previously docile country miss joins Kit chasing after smugglers, French agents, traitors, and love.

This Regency romp focuses on the accepted restrictions that the females of a family of quality are allowed and what duty must be done within these limitations. For instance although Julia’s mom would prefer to grieve her loss of her son; compounded by her husband’s health, having three daughters to marry, and the financial depression she heroically does what she believes is good for the family. The story line is fast-paced as Julia gets into one misadventure after another. With her sisters, wild Sophie and gentle Harriet, to go, Regency readers will look forward to future exploits by the Maitland siblings.

Harriet Klausner

B As In Beauty-Alberto Ferraras

April 29, 2009

B As In Beauty

Alberto Ferraras

Grand Central Publishing, Apr 2009, $13.99

ISBN: 9780446697897

Cuban-American Beauty Marie Zavala is tired of the world judging her by her waistline just because she is forty pounds over the so called norm. She has tried everything to lose the excess, but fads come and go, diets and exercise come and go, but her weight remains the same. B is ashamed of her body.

She really tanks when she overhears her boss at the Manhattan ad company commenting negatively about her size; even worse her waistline apparently will prevent her from receiving a well deserved promotion. B has had enough with the put downs. Her best friend Lillian the petit suggests she do a remake of the entire B. Russian-American Tax accountant Natasha Sokolov offers her work to show off her voluptuous body to men who will pay for a big woman. B accepts the deal of spending time with big body worshipping males only her first client is disappointed when he sees her as he insists she is too small to be anything but a fashion model.

B AS IN BEAUTY is an entertaining contemporary tale starring a woman who fans will root for as she begins to not accept her size, she learns to accentuate her assets. B is the star, but the kindhearted madam-mentor somewhat steals the show with her tutelage. The irony that B is too small adds humor to a profound tale in which the heroine learns beauty is only skin deep.

Harriet Klausner