Archive for December, 2009

Angel’s Peak- Robyn Carr

December 31, 2009

Angel’s Peak

Robyn Carr

Mira, Jan 26 2010, $7.99

ISBN: 9780778327615

U-2 pilot stationed at Beale Air Force Base, Sean Riordan remains in Virgin River after being the best man at his brother Luke’s wedding (see Temptation Ridge) as he has six weeks of lose or lose leave to kill.  He stops at a restaurant’s bar for a drink when four women enter the establishment.  One of them is flight nurse Franci Duncan who four year ago demanded they go to the next level in their relationship or end it; he reacted by telling her not to let the door slam into her butt.  She left and vanished from Luke AFB in Phoenix; he went on to Beale regretting what he lost.

Sean demands Franci explain why she left so abruptly after they split up.  She wants him to leave her alone though she still loves him.  However, he is stunned when she explains he is the father of little Rosie who she has raised as a single mom.  He wants in his daughter’s life, but Franci distrusts Sean and wonders if he is mature enough to have the staying power to be a part of his son’s life.  Sean knows he has a second chance to rectify his biggest mistake as he wants both of his females in his life permanently.

Once readers accept the opening coincidence that the lovers when they were in Arizona meet by chance in remote Northern California, fans will enjoy the story line is emotionally driven by a strong cast.  Sean is terrific as he regrets what he blew and is appreciative that he has a second chance.  Franci on the other hand does not want to give him one.  Well written, Robyn Carr provides a delightful Virgin River entry as she overcomes an overused trite premise of a dad unaware of siring a precious child with a super cast especially the lead couple who make for a fine tale.

Harriet Klausner

Murder in the Palais Royal-Cara Black

December 31, 2009

Murder in the Palais Royal

Cara Black

Soho, Mar 1 2010, $25.00

ISBN: 9781569476208

In 1997 Paris, Leduc Detective’s four foot Rene Fiant is shot twice by his colleague Aime Leduc.  He is rushed to intensive care at Hotel Dieu.  Stunned eyewitnesses tell Inspector Morbier they saw her fleeing the office where the dwarf was shot and an unexplained large amount of money has suddenly appeared in the firm’s bank account, which has the tax authorities looking closely at Leduc Detective’s.

Aimee knows this will be her toughest case ever as even Rene believes she tried to kill him with the Beretta.  She wonders whether someone impersonating her shot her best friend, but though she has enemies from previous cases, Aimee cannot fathom whose motive would include attempted murder, which quickly changes into two homicides tied to her.  Only Miles Davis believes in her innocence.

This is a super entry that goes full circle back to the first Leduc case Murder in the Marais, but a newcomer does need to read that tale to enjoy Murder in the Palais Royal although they will thoroughly enjoy that mystery and the rest of the series.  Fans will appreciate this super thriller as the high heeled computer analyst has her work cut out proving her innocence and insuring her partner stays alive while providing the audience with a tour of the rest of Paris (and its suburbs) where impoverished immigrants from the former French colonies reside.

Harriet Klausner

Murder in the Palais Royal- Cara Black

December 31, 2009

Murder in the Palais Royal

Cara Black

Soho, Mar 1 2010, $25.00

ISBN: 9781569476208

In 1997 Paris, Leduc Detective’s four foot Rene Fiant is shot twice by his colleague Aime Leduc.  He is rushed to intensive care at Hotel Dieu.  Stunned eyewitnesses tell Inspector Morbier they saw her fleeing the office where the dwarf was shot and an unexplained large amount of money has suddenly appeared in the firm’s bank account, which has the tax authorities looking closely at Leduc Detective’s.

Aimee knows this will be her toughest case ever as even Rene believes she tried to kill him with the Beretta.  She wonders whether someone impersonating her shot her best friend, but though she has enemies from previous cases, Aimee cannot fathom whose motive would include attempted murder, which quickly changes into two homicides tied to her.  Only Miles Davis believes in her innocence.

This is a super entry that goes full circle back to the first Leduc case Murder in the Marais, but a newcomer does need to read that tale to enjoy Murder in the Palais Royal although they will thoroughly enjoy that mystery and the rest of the series.  Fans will appreciate this super thriller as the high heeled computer analyst has her work cut out proving her innocence and insuring her partner stays alive while providing the audience with a tour of the rest of Paris (and its suburbs) where impoverished immigrants from the former French colonies reside.

Harriet Klausner

Vienna Secrets-Frank Tallis

December 31, 2009

Vienna Secrets

Frank Tallis

Random House, Feb 23 2010, $15.00

ISBN: 9780812980998

In 1903 Vienna, having collaborated before (see Vienna Blood) Detective Inspector Oskar Reinhardt asks his much older friend psychoanalyst Dr. Max Liebermann to take a look at a gruesome corpse found on the grounds of Maria Treue Kirche.  Max informs Oskar the victim a pianist monk Brother Stanislav had his head savagely ripped from his body.  Before going on to the General Hospital to make his rounds, Max suggests Oskar interview strong men as well as the monks.  Under questioning the monks insist Brother Stanislav was a good holy person until finally one breaks ranks and says the victim wrote anti-Semitic articles published in Vaterland.

Meanwhile two city council rivals Burke Faust and Julius Schmidt compete for favors from the mayor.  Schmidt begins an anti-Jewish campaign using the homicide as justification.  Rebbe Barash and his Kabala followers insist God’s wrath descended on the monk which just enflames the city and encourages Schmidt.  When Faust has his head torn off, the city reacts with anger and fear as anti-Semitism fever rises exponentially.  While struggling with the case whose lone link is odd mud at the murder scenes, Max is in trouble at the hospital over Last Rites and Oskar dreams of dating a feminist.

Once again as in the Liebermann-Reinhardt previous collaborations (see A Death in Vienna and Fatal Lies), the time and place make for a great historical police procedural with the emphasis on the anti-Semitic atmosphere of 1903 Vienna.  The murder inquiry is a terrific police procedural that will grip the audience wondering who and why.  However, once again what makes Frank Tallis’ latest tale and the entire series one of the best on the market is the sense of being in Vienna at the time of Freud.

Harriet Klausner


The Wild Zone-Joy Fielding

December 31, 2009

The Wild Zone

Joy Fielding

Atria, Feb 23 2010, $25.00

ISBN: 9781416585299

Married Tom Whitman is in the Wild Zone in the South Beach section of Miami Beach with his friend Jeff Rydell and Jeff’s visiting half-brother, Princeton grad student Will.  A few male bonding drinks later leads to the duo betting on whom has sex with the bartender Suzy Bigelow first.  Flash tempered Jeff has his live-in lover Kristen who works at the bar talk with Suzy.

Suzy chooses to go out on a date with the safe one Will.  However, though she seems cute and innocent, Suzy hides from her date that she has a nasty abusive husband Dave waiting for her as she sees the innocent one, his older sibling and their wild eyed friend as the answer to end her personal nightmare.  Tom also has serious issues having been dishonorably discharged from the military after some incidents in the Afghan theatre; his wife Lainey knows what caused his issues but is so frightened of him she files for divorce and flees with their kids.  Soon all will collide in a clash in the Wild Zone where each will soon learn the meaning of “proceed at your risk”.

This is a super Miami Beach thriller starring a strong ensemble cast with a great final twist.  Each of the key players is fully developed to include their hidden agendas so that the audience understands their motives while wondering how a drunk-induced joke of a bet could turn so nasty.  Joy Fielding is at her best with this impossible to put down tale.

Harriet Klausner


Hard Rain-David Rollins

December 31, 2009

Hard Rain

David Rollins

Bantam, Feb 23 2010, $26.00

ISBN: 9780553805369

The U.S. Military Attache to Turkey, Colonel Emmet Portman vanishes for three days.  When he is found dead in his home in Istanbul, alarm spreads amidst the American government.  Whoever killed Portman tortured him before brutally murdering him.

Air Force Office of Special Investigations Special Agents Vin Cooper and Anna Masters arrive in Istanbul to investigate the gruesome homicide; as Vin puts it they are USAF internal affairs cops.  However, before they can begin their inquest, other associates of the late Colonel are also killed in horrific ways.  The obvious response is a serial killer is on the loose.  However, the victims are diverse and vary in what is left behind; the only commonality is the abduction and execution are done with military precision..  However, with Portman’s email being erased, Vin and Anna wonder why a crazed killer would do something of this sort making them wonder if someone needed to conceal something, but what and who remain elusive.  As the two agents investigate on non-verbal terms (one can say a lot with a one finger salute) while the body count rises, they begin to uncover a military conspiracy to encourage coups to topple Middle Eastern governments, but neither is sure how to expose it without harming American interest; that is if they live long enough to do so.

This is an entertaining over the top thriller that has the audience accompanying the bickering lead couple (arguing when they rarely talk to each other) as they hop the globe starting in the Middle East going on to Africa and Tennessee.  Fans will enjoy the action and the rapidity of the story line but what makes the tale fun is the lead couple working a deadly international case once again (see The Death Trust) while on non-speaking terms ever since she informed him she is “Dancing on the Ceiling” for JAG lawyer Col. Richard “Dick Wad” Wadding.

Harriet Klausner

Our Lady of Immaculate Deception-Nancy Martin

December 31, 2009

Our Lady of Immaculate Deception

Nancy Martin

Minotaur, Mar 2 2010, $24.99

ISBN 9780312573720

In Pittsburgh, Roxy Abruzzo tries to keep her Bada Bling Architectural Salvage business clean although her Uncle Carmine the Mafia boss tries sending her work.  Roxy feels strongly about staying legal in spite of Uncle Carmine’s efforts because she feels she must set an example for her sixteen year old daughter Sage; who is the result of a teen fling she had with Chef Patrick Flynn, just back from a Middle East deployment and wanting to deploy a second time with his former high school girlfriend.

However, Roxy is unable to resist stealing an ancient Greek statue that belongs to wealthy womanizing Julius Hyde.  Her assistant “Nooch” Santonucci does whatever she wants and easily hoists the garden statue.  Soon after her heist someone murders Jules and burns down the estate of his nonagenarian mom, who is more fretful that her prized possession, an ancient Greek statue is missing, rather than her son’s death or the arson.

With the Blackbird Sisters taking a breather, Nancy Martin introduces her fans to a steel tough single mom trying not to join the family business though thievery runs in her DNA.  Roxy holds the story line together especially after she purloins the statue.  Filled with dark humor, Ms. Martin’s fans will enjoy the Stealer escapades of a woman who straddles the line between a touch of piracy and a role model citizen as one tiny caper proves to the heroine that  crime doesn’t pay (sometimes).

Harriet Klausner


Ordinary Thunderstorms-William Boyd

December 31, 2009

Ordinary Thunderstorms

William Boyd

Harper, Jan 26 2010, $26.99

ISBN: 9780061876745

Climatologist Adam Kindred and immunologist Dr. Philip Wang met by chance at an Italian restaurant near Royal Hospital not far from where the Thames flows through Chelsea as each dined alone on tables next to each other.  The former is in London trying to obtain a research fellowship position at Imperial College while the later works in Oxford at a pharmaceutical firm as a sort of allergist.  Wang departs while mumbling something about a good feeling but leaves behind a file with his papers.

Adam picks up the documents so he can return them to Dr. Wang.  However at the immunologist’s flat, he finds Wang’s dead body.  Not sure what to do as someone is after him besides the cops who have evidence of his visit to the dead man’s apartment, Adam flees for his life.  Meanwhile, Wang’s boss at Calenture-Deutz, Ingrym Fryzer, realizes someone at the firm wants him out and Wang’s data on an anti-allergy drug that the scientist was working on is missing as the board refuses to wait any longer to market the drug to get the profits though the late researcher was not finished testing it.  Fryzer, his shadowy adversary and his paid assassin, and the cops seek a thirty-one years old climatologist who vanished somewhere in Chelsea.

This is an exciting fast-paced thriller in which a young man seeking a job becomes the focus of corporate killers, an ethical CEO, and the Metropolitan Police.  The two subplots converge though a series of coincidences starting with the restaurant encounter, but fans of action-packed conspiratorial tales of the avarice affluent vs. a lone reluctant everyman will enjoy Ordinary Thunderstorms turning into a torrent for Adam.

Harriet Klausner

Ghouls Gone Wild-Victoria Laurie

December 31, 2009

Ghouls Gone Wild

Victoria Laurie

Obsidian, Mar 2010, $6.99

ISBN: 9780451229410

M. J. Holliday is a psychic with her top skill being a medium who can communicate with ghosts.  She gives readings and makes her grateful clients feel good by telling them the truth; unlike the numerous charlatans.  She and her partner are also ghostbusters who send evil spirits back to where they came from.  They are now on Briar Street, the most haunted street in Scotland.  Under the street is the close (several caves and catacombs) where victims were sent to die from the plague.

While they are on Briar Road, the interest of the hundreds of spirits make M.J. and her co-worker medium Heath Whitefeather almost insane.  Inside the close the same phenomena happens with the ghouls of the plague screaming.  They would love to leave immediately, but they are contracted to Bravo TV to film what they find at this location.  To make matters worse, the centuries dead witch Rigella who cursed the village of Queen’s Close because they murdered her and her sisters are brought back by a villager to murder seven descendents of the families that killed them.  When their tech expert is attacked by ghouls, M.J. and her crew becomes the target of a mortal who is in league with the witch because brake lines were cut, which means the witch has a human helper.  When another villager dies, M.J.  and company investigate determined to find the witch and her mortal assistant.

Victoria Laurie is the queen of paranormal mysteries as her fourth ghostbusters whodunit brings the reader into her world (see DEMONS ARE A GHOUL’S BEST FRIEND and GHOULS JUST HAUNT TO HAVE FUN).  Ghouls Gone Wild. is a hauntingly good whodunit filled with plenty of action above and below the street.  The cast is solid even the spirits while the two protagonists are fully developed especially when the supernatural haunt their senses.  With plenty of humor including with a Potter meets Bedknobs and Broomsticks battle of flying brooms, fans will enjoy ghosts, ghouls, and witches, oh my.

Harriet Klausner

An Irish Country Girl-Patrick Taylor

December 30, 2009

An Irish Country Girl

Patrick Taylor

Forge, Jan 5 2010, $24.99

ISBN 9780765320711

 

In Ballybucklebo, Ireland, Kinky Kincaid serves as housekeeper to small village’s two doctors (Dr. Barry Laverty and Dr. Fingal Flahertie O’Reilly).  On Christmas Day, Kinky turns storyteller as she spins a spellbinder to the children with the tale of the St. Stephen’s Day ghost.

 

When she was a child the age of her audience, Kinky was known as Maureen O’Hanlon.  She had the unique skill of seeing the future.  As Kinky tells about dark fairies to enraptured fans, back then Maureen must choose between her heart and her career.

 

The latest Ballybucklebo Irish County cozy (see An Irish Country Christmas, An Irish Country Doctor and An Irish Country Village) is another superb tale with a neat twist as the previous support player housekeeper takes the lead effortlessly.  The story line has two key plots one of which is Kinky’s past when she had to make up her mind and choose one of two roads and the present when she tells the ghost tale.  Fans will relish this terrific twist as Kinky proves to be a superb storyteller as the top banana title lead character.

 

Harriet Klausner