Archive for January, 2010

Spring Break-Kayla Perrin

January 31, 2010

Spring Break

Kayla Perrin

St. Martin’s Griffin, Mar 2 2010, $14.99

ISBN 9780312547288

On Artula, following a break up with her boyfriend Ryan Sinclair, college student Ashley Hamilton vanishes.  Her disappearance occurs just after she meets New York editor Jason Shear who had come to the Caribbean island to investigate human trafficking; his sister had disappeared without a trace while on spring break here in 1987.  Jason finds out that nineteen women have disappeared in the last seven years.

Ashley’s best friend Chantelle Higgins searches for her after the local authorities ignore her plea for help.  On the other hand Jason agrees to assist her in her investigation into what happened to Ashley.  At the same time Ashley’s frantic family arrive on the island; someone murders an informant willing to talk to Chantelle.

This is a superb romantic suspense that looks deeply into human sexual trafficking through the constant questioning by the courageous Chantelle who refuses to stop asking the why.  The story line is fast-paced throughout as the frantic desperation of the heroine and the family of the abductee turns into a frenzy of extreme anxiety due to hopelessness as what increasingly looks like a lost cause.  Although several late twists detract from an otherwise strong thriller, fans will enjoy this cautionary tale of being smart and safe while on Spring Break.

Harriet Klausner

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A Different Light-Mariah Stewart

January 31, 2010

A Different Light

Mariah Stewart

Pocket, Jan 2009, $7.99

ISBN: 9781439155103

In Woodside Heights, New Jersey, although she tries to put on a good pretense for her daughter Callie’s sake, Athena Moran has not been able to move on past the death of her police officer husband John; killed in the line of duty.  Nothing seems to turn her on anymore although she hides her grief and lethargy for the sake of their child and their friends who see the grieving widow as a reminder of what could happen to them.

Since she is the daughter of a former councilman and the wife of a slain cop, Mayor Dante Rossi offers Athena work in his office.  She accepts.  However, Athena is stunned when Dante asks her to run as his replacement.  Although she wins, Dante still runs the city.  Reporter Quentin Forbes is attracted to Athen, but detest that she is just Dante’s puppet.  He attacks her in the paper, which hurts her as she cannot understand his vendetta.  Everything changes when Her Mayor meets Ms. Evelyn, who mentors Athena on redevelopment and living with gusto, which angers her puppeteer and his cronies.

Although this is a reprint of a Clinton Era political romance, A Different Light remains relevant with its simplistic instead of Mr. Smith goes to Washington, Ms. Moran remains in New Jersey.  Initially blind to the corruption that surrounds her, Athen matures in political savvy without losing her idealism as she sees the town in A Different Light.  Fans will enjoy this fun tale even if there are no instant blogger twitting on everything.

Harriet Klausner


Warrior Ascended-Addison Fox

January 31, 2010

Warrior Ascended

Addison Fox

Signet, Mar 2010, $7.99

ISBN: 9780451229380

Enyo the Goddess of War plans to steal five Egyptian Summoning Stones that will enable her to rule the world.  Themis the Goddess of Justice to abate the mass destruction that Enyo has set in motion creates immortal warriors to fight for her cause of balancing the scales.

One of Themis’ fighters Leo warrior Brody Talbot is assigned to protect museum curator Ava Harrison.  She is grieving her father’s murder, but excited over running his exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History in Manhattan where the ancient summoning stones her dad found are going to be displayed.  Her only concern besides her father’s death is the hunk of an archeologist Brody working with her.  As they fall in love, she has horrific visions that she believes are stone induced.

The first Sons of the Zodiac saga is a superb urban fantasy romance starring an eons old warrior and a mousy curator.  The story line is action-packed as the Goddesses battle through minion over possession of the stones.  Fans will enjoy the Fifth Age of Man as the Leo Warrior Ascended with the mortal he protects to fight the forces of Enyo.

Harriet Klausner

Bride of the Wolf-Susan Krinard

January 31, 2010

Bride of the Wolf

Susan Krinard

Harlequin HQN, Mar 2010, $7.99

ISBN: 9780373774777

In 1881 in Pecos County, Texas, Holden Renshaw finds his boss, owner of the Dog Creek Ranch, dead in what looks like a riding mishap.  Holden has doubts about it being an accident as Jedediah McCarrick was a superb rider.  He finds the bags that Jedediah hid as if the man knew he was going to be killed.  Inside the bags are his three wills with the unsigned last one giving the ranch to a mail order bride Rachel Lyndon coming from Ohio.  The first dated will gives the spread to Jedediah’s nephew Sean while the last signed will bequests all to Holden.

Rachel arrives and insists she is Jedediah’s wife; Holden knows that is a lie, but says nothing.  Holden and Rachel are attracted to one another, but distrust each other.  However, she proves to be really good with his baby recently dumped on him by a dying prostitute.  Each has secrets as she was kicked out of her home by her grandma and rejected by her lover, but a miscarriage left her barren.  He is wanted as the dangerous Heath Renier and can change into the wolf without blinking.  Neither expected how far Sean will go to manipulate everyone to do what he wants.

This is an exciting werewolf historical romance starring two likable but fragile (mentally that is) individuals who feel love arrived at an inappropriate moment.  Ironically, Sean, in spite of being over the top of the Guadalupe Mountains, is the most fascinating character in the fast-paced story line.  Although a late Ranger twist seems wrong even considering paranormal justice, fans will enjoy this fine tale while wondering what will happen when everyone learns Jedediah is dead.

Harriet Klausner

The Heavenstone Secrets-V.C. Andrews

January 31, 2010

The Heavenstone Secrets

V.C. Andrews

Pocket, Dec 2009, $7.99

ISBN: 9781439154953

The two Heavenstone sisters live with their parents in an old Kentucky mansion.  The older sibling Cassie is the perfect Heavenstone as she behaves properly everywhere.  The younger sister Semantha is prettier, but somehow pales next to her accomplished older sibling.

It is hard to live up to the perfect definition of her parents when everything frightens you which is what Semantha feels.  Her biggest fear is that of Cassie who always orders her around when their parents are not there to see the other side.  When mother becomes ill and hospitalized, Cassie takes over her role in the household.  She scares Semantha even more as the younger Heavenstone feels like a criminal under interrogation by her sibling and fears what her sister is doing to her and her father even as she conceals something that will be obvious in a few months.

The concept of good seed bad seed has been a round a long time (Bette Davis in Dead Ringer, Whatever happened to Baby Jane? and Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte).  However, V.C. Andrews keeps it fresh due to Cassie as the perfect teen Machiavellian manipulator though it helps that her pathetic parents prefer not to dig below the surface.  Semantha overkills the victim defense as much of the story line she whimpers about her fear of her sister and just about everything else.  Although entertaining as readers will wonder if hormones running wild will bring a backbone to Semantha The Heavenstone Secrets contains no Flowers in the Attic.

Harriet Klausner

Term Limits-Vince Flynn

January 31, 2010

Term Limits

Vince Flynn

Pocket, Dec 2009, $9.99

ISBN: 9781439148105

In Washington DC everyone demands favors or else will take their money and influence to someone who will grant that favor.  The American system is built on trading favors, not stock.  Senator Fitzgerald was in DC for over four decades; his job as he knows it is to get reelected.  However that will never happen as an assassin breaks the senator’s neck in his home.  Next stop for the Johnson’s Brothers Plumbing van is putting a bullet through the head of Congressman Koslowski.  The final victim of the night is Senator Robert “Prince of Pork” Downs.

Everyone in DC is frightened from the military like precision of the assault.  The FBI finds no clues to the murdered Congressman though the Fitzgerald’s homicide differs in means from the other two.  Quoting Jefferson, the killers announce a plan to form a new perfect union since the leaders of the present United States chose corruption and reelection over ethics and what is good for the people.  Everyone points at everyone else in the usual blame the donkey game.  Only fed up first term Congressman Michael O’Rourke, a former marine planning on not rerunning, begins to put together who is behind the assaults.

This is an exciting thriller from the onset and never slows down as Vince Flynn makes the case that party affiliation or political philosophy of those in power is irrelevant as only reelection matters.  Although originally published during the Clinton era, the underlying premise holds up through the Bush administration and looks likewise for Obama.  Congress is worse as it is has career participants who even when they leave still hold power as lobbyists, etc.  The recent Supreme Court decision on election funding will exponentially increase peddling, which adds to the timely reprinting of Mr. Flynn’s cautionary political thriller.  Perhaps the only Rapp on Term Limits is Rapp never shows up.

Harriet Klausner

Frame-Up-John F. Dobbyn

January 31, 2010

Frame-Up

John F. Dobbyn

Oceanview, Mar 1 2010, $25.95

ISBN: 9781933515632

Best friends John McKedrick and Michael Knight graduate from Harvard Law with each accepting a professional position with a legal Bostonian legend.  Michael works for his mentor trial attorney Lex Devlin; John becomes an associate of notorious mob lawyer Benny Ignola.

Michael is worried about John as the longer one is associated with the lawyer to mid mob management, the more difficult it would be to practice law in cleaner circumstances.  Michael’s fears for his buddy prove underestimated when he awakens in the hospital having survived the car bomb blast that killed John, mob style.  The police arrest Peter Santangelo, son of the Mafia chief Dominic.  Lex asks his junior partner to defend Peter as the former muses how three friends four decades ago, (Lex, Dominic and Father Matt Ryan) chose diverse paths, but are brought back together due to two friends choosing different paths.

Mindful of Cagney-O’Brien in Angels with Dirty Faces, Frame-Up is a terrific character driven legal thriller that is at its best when the focus is on two generations of best friends going down diverse paths.  The story line remains exhilarating, but loses some of the profundity of comparing decisions of seemingly similar people when Michael follows clues re illegal art sales to Amsterdam.  Still fans will relish John F. Dobbyn’s superb tale with plenty of dirty rats, beautiful women, but no grapefruit.

Harriet Klausner

Occupied City-David Peace

January 31, 2010

Occupied City

David Peace

Knopf, Feb 2 2010, $25.95

ISBN: 9780307263759

On January 26, 1948, in the Occupied City of Toyo, a man claiming to be Dr. Yamaguchi Jiro of the Ministry of Health and Welfare arrives at the Taikoku Bank at closing to explaing to management that dysentery has broken out in the neighborhood.  He claims the Occupation sent him to provide medication to those most likely exposed to the disease.  They take the medicine, but rather quickly after taking it, twelve die and four fall into a coma.

Dr. Jiro, if that is his name, leaves with all the money.  He is a mass murder because he has poisoned his victims.  The lead detective is frustrated with the descriptions of witnesses that vary while the media and others claim the incident was a biological weapon experiment by the occupiers but an American Occupation doctor scoffs as that thinking the idea is inane.

This is a super historical whodunit as twelve different people including one of the dead with various perspectives explain how they see what happened while providing a profound look at Tokyo just after World War II as that is how they filter the homicides.  Each “lights” a candle for a city weeping, but brings their baggage and psychological defense mechanisms to cope with the horrific mass murder at a time when the country struggles with esteem having lost the war.

Harriet Klausner

Slow Motion: A Memoir of a Life Rescued by Tragedy-Dani Shapiro

January 30, 2010

Slow Motion: A Memoir of a Life Rescued by Tragedy

Dani Shapiro

Harper, Jan 2010, $14.99

ISBN: 9780061826696

Raised by Orthodox Jewish parents in the New York City suburban part of New Jersey, Dani Shapiro gave up Sarah Lawrence to be a trophy girlfriend to an older married attorney though Lenny Klein is the stepfather of her BF.  One call while she enjoys a San Diego spa changes everything into before and after.  Aunt Roz tells her that her mom and dad were in a car accident; both are in ICU at Overlook Hospital in Summit; no one has called her father’s other daughter from his first marriage while a blizzard shuts down the airports.  Uncle Hy tells has that her dad is in a coma and her mom may never walk again.  Adding to her fears and suddenly found maturity is the blizzard has shut down the New York airports.

This is a fascinating heart wrenching memoir because the tragic incident proves a revelation for Dani Shapiro as no miracle saves the day yet she rises to the occasion with a maturity her family would not have believed she possessed prior to the accident.  Readers will cry on at least two occasions re her father seeing her mother for the first time after the accident and her chat with her father in the cemetery obviously after his death. She realizes what her parents taught her about what matters in life and death is the truth.

Harriet Klausner

A Stain on the Silence-Andrew Taylor

January 30, 2010

A Stain on the Silence

Andrew Taylor

Hyperion, Feb 16 2010, $15.99

ISBN: 9781401302849

Lily Murtheston calls twice asking to speak to Jamie.  Since he turned sixteen, everyone calls him James except for one woman back two decades ago when he was in his twenties; so he is taken aback but decides to learn what Lily wants.  He muses about being thirteen when he met Lily through her marrying Hugh, the father of his best friend in school Carlo.  Dying Lily is in a hospice in Wembley.  He goes to see her; Lily informs Jamie that he fathered a child with her years ago; a daughter in trouble needing her father.  He insists Katie’s father is Lily’s husband Hugh, but Lily says Jamie owes her.

James meets his daughter Katie just before he leaves the hospice for his home where his wife Nicky is leaving for her book club meeting.  Pregnant Katie expects to be arrested for the murder of her former fiancé Sean.  She demands her biological father help her; James is confused what to do as his perfect life has been nuked but also fears telling his wife.

This is a fascinating character study of a man who seems to have his life together only to find it collapse with the first troubling intrusion, the knowledge of a daughter he sired during an affair over twenty years ago surfaces.  Readers will be stunned by how far James will go to avoid confrontation even not telling his wife; though he fails each time he chooses dodging an altercation behind a denial of responsibilities as a defense mechanism to reduce his anxiety, which never works.  Although suspense comes extremely late with a clever Hitchcockian psychological twist, fans will enjoy the aptly titled A Stain on the Silence

Harriet Klausner