Archive for February, 2010

The Lumby Lines-Gail Fraser

February 28, 2010

The Lumby Lines

Gail Fraser

NAL, May 1 2010, $14.00

ISBN: 978-0451221391

Forty years ago when their lives were tanking, Mark and Pam Walker knew they needed a respite together.  They had planned to visit historical inns, but kept kicking the can until they decided this was no longer acceptable.  So each year since, they have visited rundown due to a fire Montis Abbey in Lumby in the Northwest, built in 1893, but the Church and then the affluent allowed it to deteriorate.  Now the Walker pair wants to turn the edifice into an inn with them running a restaurant there.

Nothing occurs in town that gets passed the notice of The Lumby Lines owner William Beezer.  He opposes the outsiders moving in and forming a business as he fears what makes his town quaint and quirky will soon be inundated by other “fungi”, which will drive the long time families away.  The mayor is silent on the issue as the burned down Montis Abbey is not a nice place to do his business in public

The reprint of the first Lumby rustic village family saga is filled with fun subplots over the top of the Rockies.  Whimsical, uplifting and warm, The Lumby Lines’ newspaper makes the tale enjoyable with columns like the Sheriff’s Complaints and quoting the mayor barking out orders.  Although rural conquers urban too easily and with a nod to Mossy Creek, Gail Fraser does so with humor as Beezer steals the show from the outside upstarts with his amusing commentaries.

Harriet Klausner


On Shadow Beach-Barbara Freethy

February 28, 2010

On Shadow Beach

Barbara Freethy

Pocket, Mar 30 2010, $7.99

ISBN: 9781439101575

Lauren Jamison vowed to never return to her hometown of Angel’s Bay, California where her sister Abby was murdered thirteen years ago.  However, her dad suffers from Alzheimer’s while her brother David is on the East Coast and mom refuses to take care of her ex husband whom she divorced eleven years ago.  Thus, Lauren comes home to find nothing changed except the empty nest; not even the room she shared with her late sister.

Her former boyfriend Shane Murray, who was accused of killing Abby and condemned by the locals as guilty, is also in Angel’s Bay.  At the same time, Mark Devlin is making a movie about the death of Abigail Jamison.  Lauren thinks the cold case requires a villain for a film so if none is forthcoming she will choose the still perfect fall guy; the boy and now the man she loves but let down when she refused to believe Shane’s claim of innocence.  Someone must agree as a car runs over the filmmaker.

Although the Angels’ limited roles seem forced into appearing in the plot, fans will appreciate the return to Angel’s Bay (see Suddenly One Summer) as Barbara Freethy provides a strong entry filled with remorse and angst.  The characters are fully developed especially so the lead couple who remains restrained by their love as their relationship died along side Abby.  Readers will enjoy this fine second chance at love romantic suspense as Lauren learns you can go home, but do you really want to?

Harriet Klausner

Dirty Laundry-Liz Osborne

February 28, 2010

Dirty Laundry

Liz Osborne

Five Star, May 7 2010, $25.95

ISBN: 9781594148576

Near Seattle, at Madrona Bay Hospital and Medical Center, Nurse Manager of the 3-West Unit Susan Wong complains about the perverted behavior of patient Jason Hilliard to forty year old Patient Relations manager Robyn Kelly.  Apparently the twenty-six years old Hilliard flashes the staff though he insists it was done accidentally.  He has been an in and out patient several times who no one wants to help.  Robyn says the staff does not have to put up with this lewd behavior and she will warn him to cut it out.

Before she can do that she meets bewildered William Jones who says he lives in Central Park New York.  The indigent elderly man has a nasty cut filled with maggots so Robyn intervenes and insures he receives proper treatment, but she goes home before she can visit Hilliard.  That weekend her friend Police Detective Matthew Pierce injures his back moving heavy bags for Robyn and is hospitalized.  Robyn accompanies him and stops to see William only to find another Hilliard complaint.  She visits Hilliard who is dead with an IV cord around his neck.  Police Chief Roberts botches the case from the onset, but claims he has a suspect so in spite of the warnings from her son and Matthew, Robyn investigates like she has done before (see Masquerade) as she knows who he will blame.

This is an engaging Washington State cozy with a nice late twist.  The story line takes awhile to get into the whodunit as the focus is for a good portion of the tale is on the cast at the hospital.  As Robyn proves a likable advocate for patients and staff, readers who enjoy a medical amateur sleuth competing with the cops will want to read the airing of Dirty Laundry at Madrona Bay.

Harriet Klausner

Elegy for April-Benjamin Black

February 28, 2010

Elegy for April

Benjamin Black

Holt, Apr 13 2010, $25.00

ISBN: 9780805090918

In 1950s Dublin, Dr. April Latimer apparently vanished; at least that is what her best friend Phoebe Griffin believes.  She failed to meet the group at the Dolphin Hotel as she always does though the other members (Patrick Ojukwu, Isabel Galloway and Jimmy Minor) seem less concerned.  Phoebe called the Hospital of Holy Family where April is a resident, but was told her pal called in ill.

Desperate April asks her “Uncle” Quirke the pathologist to investigate.  She only recently learned he, not his recently widowed brother-in-law Malachy Griffin, was her biological father who gave her up when her mom died in childbirth.  Although in detox at the House of St. John’s, Quirke would do anything for his “niece”.  As he investigates what happened to the niece of a government minister, Quirke begins to unravel the worst in humanity as he finds the Latimer family conceals abuse and brutality within their circle so as to remain influential, the Catholic Church condoning people like the Latimer brood with their silent acceptance of abuse and brutality, and finally the community de facto collective racism that accepts abuse and brutality towards a white Catholic female and a Nigerian expatriate who must never fall in love.  However, even as Quirke works the darkest streets, all roads lead to the convergence of the Dolphin Hotel group with her family.

The latest Quirke historical thriller (see Silver Swan and Christine Falls) condemns Ireland for its enabling the Church and the aristocracy to get away with what should have been criminal activity.  Containing a strong cast, the fast-paced well written inquiry with brilliant final twists grips the reader throughout as Ireland is exposed for ignoring the shortcomings of moral institutions.

Harriet Klausner

Black Jack-Lora Leigh

February 28, 2010

Black Jack

Lora Leigh

St. Martin’s, Mar 2 2010, $7.99

ISBN: 9780312945824

Like all Elite Ops field agents, Travis “Black Jack” Caine and Lillian “Night Hawk” Belle died in their previous civilian lives.  Both were British aristocrats with him joining Elite Ops after British M16 felt he was too out of control while she enlisted after her agent father was murdered and almost her too.  For six years, her mother, uncle and brother grieved her death in the car crash into the river that killed her dad; while his family rejoiced he was dead.  Additionally they are attracted to one another.

Six years since she died, someone somehow recognizes Lilly Belle as Lady Veronica and tries to kill her; the bullet grazes her head leaving her with selected amnesia as she forgets everything that occurred since her first death.  Elite Ops knows her father had uncovered a traitor who killed him before he could reveal who the person is.  Black Jack’s assignment is to ferret out how dangerous the woman he loves as Night Hawk is in exposing other undercover operatives; and if she is the slightest threat kill her.

The latest Elite Ops (see Heat Seeker, Maverick, and Wild Card) is a character driven thriller that focuses on the mind of the heroine who if she recalls her lost memory becomes expendable by her agent peers and the traitor.  Although amnesia has been used in espionage thrillers (Bourne) the story line is fast-paced with an interesting late spin.  Fans will try to determine who the enemy is while also wondering why this person and the Elite Ops just don’t take Lily out before she regains her missing six years as she is a dangerous liability to each side.

Harriet Klausner

Deliver Us From Evil-David Baldacci

February 28, 2010

Deliver Us From Evil

David Baldacci

Grand Central, Apr 20 2010, $27.99

ISBN: 9780446564083

Shaw belongs to an agency that ignores legal limitations when it comes to capturing those who threaten the free world.  His latest project is billionaire Evan Waller who makes his money kidnapping third world teens and selling them in the Western markets.  However, he is widening his capitalist operations with the sale of nuclear weapons to Islamic Fundamentalists.  Shaw and his team are to prevent the sales by eliminating the beast and his customers.

Fahir Kuchen killed and ordered massacred thousands in Kiev to keep the survivors in line and not give Moscow any problems.  When the Soviet Union collapsed, he escaped making a new future for himself.

Reggie Campion works for an elite group that hunts down mass murderers.  She and her unit are in Provence to make a hit on Waller whom she believes is Kuchen; Shaw is shocked after the two groups cross paths and hunt their respective villain.. Shaw persuades Reggie they need to unite before the hunted become the hunter as Kuchen has someone inside working for him and whether he is Waller or not, Evan is a deadly predator.

Many of the protagonists possess ulterior motives so that double crossing teammates and the other squad seem a way of life.  This is the key element in the return of Shaw (see The Whole Truth) that makes Deliver Us From Evil a fascinating thriller.  Shaw remains an enigma who is perfect for the jobs he undertakes in contrast with Reggie who has a secret agenda that makes her seem more human yet not detached enough to be his equal in the cold deadly field.  David Baldacci is at his best with this exciting suspense thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Allon-Shawn Lamb

February 28, 2010


Shawn Lamb

Creation House, Jan 2010, $13.99

ISBN: 9781599798912

When the Guardians fell so did Allon.  In the wake of the collapse fostered by Dagar the malevolent spirit, he fills the power vacuum by placing his mortal as evil as he is, King Marcellus to run the nation.  They walk the Dark Way eliminating opposition and cruelly abusing the people.  Evil has proven much stronger than good.

However, an ancient prophecy proclaims a return to the days of paradise that were before Dagar did his most foul deeds.  The Guardians must come back though that seems improbable as Daga would never allow this to occur without massive destruction on a scale only an  immortal malevolence can do, and a just blood descendent of the former rulers must prove worthy which seems also unlikely as King Marcellus will kill any contender.

In the Southern Forest near Garwood hides sixteen year old Prince Ellis, who must prove kingly worthiness by defeating powerful Dark Way paranormal foes before he takes on the current ruler and his evil spirit.  However, impatient Ellis knows his people cannot wait for his maturity when soldiers attack the Jor’ellian Fortress where he hid.  Fleeing rather than fighting he knows his mentor Master Ebenezer will die for him and their people.  The Lord of the Southern Forest, Sir Angus of Garwood escorts Ellis away as the time is not right for the fight so the frustrated lad is forced into flight.

With a strong nod towards Christopher Paolini’s Inheritance fantasy saga, Allon is a superb coming of age quest fantasy.  Ellis is a terrific teenager who eagerly wants to fight while his handlers demand flight.  The support cast is solid especially the heroes die to defend the prince and the evil duet.  Targeting young adults, anyone who enjoys Eragon (book or movie) will want to journey to the fallen land of Allon where hope was flickering out until now.

Harriet Klausner

Glaen-Fred T. Lybrand

February 27, 2010


Fred T. Lybrand

Barnabas Agency, Feb 14 2010, $14.99

ISBN: 9780578046525

College grad student Annie is shocked and confused when her mother calmly informs her that she is divorcing Annie’s dad.  She had thought her parents were happy together and there for one another.  As she looks around her, Annie notices the downside of her younger sister’s relationship and those of her BFF Jennah.  Relationships make no sense as a person gives up so much in return for being hurt so conceals the truth to abate the hurt.

Annie signs up for a class on Original Non-Fiction 101 taught by Professor Glaen Breuchis.  On her first day in class, Annie looks around to find she is the only pupil.  Professor Glaen explains that the administration is well aware he is teaching a class with only one student attending.  He begins mentoring her to learn what is important in relationships is the truth.  By being honest with others, Annie finds out that others will respect and admire you and most will reciprocate with veracity.

This is an interesting approach to encouraging and mentoring people to be honest and sincere in their relationships with others.  The cast is solid especially the professor and his sole student while the fascinating story line simplistically focuses on Annie (and readers) learning how best to relate.  Using a character study fiction, Fred T. Lybrand provides an engaging self help primer.

Harriet Klausner

The Hittite-Ben Bova

February 27, 2010

The Hittite

Ben Bova

Forge, Apr 13 2010, $25.99

ISBN: 9780765324023

The Empire of the Hatti had defeated the Babylonians, Egyptians and many more, but face defeat from within by treachery.  The emperor was stripped of his clothing by his sons and hence the Gods abandoned Hatti.  Lukka leads his military unit home seeing the capital Hattusas ablaze from a distance.  When they arrive inside the burning city they see gangs of drunken youths looting and killing.  Lukka finds his dying father who informs him that his wife and sons might live, but are gone as property of the slavers.

He concludes his family would be sold in Troy.  Leading his force to Troy, he finds the city under seize by the Achaians, whose lack of discipline makes Lukka ill to need them as an ally.  He learns his spouse is a slave and vows to rescue her anyway he can and to learn the fate of his sons.  Thus he begins the construct of a wooden horse that if he understands human nature should enable him to see “the face that launched a thousand ships”.

This is an interesting retelling of the Trojan Horse with the above description only the beginning as the reader also for instance obtains Helen’s side of the saga instead of the usual male machismo as she is all these super hunks’ Achilles heel.  Lukka is a fascinating military leader who understands war has three offspring: death, maiming and slavery.  He knows when his men fight, some will die, some will be maimed, and maybe a few captured and tortured as slaves.  Fans will enjoy Ben Bova’s rendition of part of Homer’s the Iliad

Harriet Klausner

Cool Like That-Nikki Carter

February 27, 2010

Cool Like That

Nikki Carter

Kensington Dafina, Mar 2010, $9.95

ISBN: 9780758234421

Her mom Gwen has some doubts about Gia spending the summer in New York City especially since Ricky is going to attend the same enrichment program although the pair are just best friends.  Gwen and her spouse Gia’s stepdad LeRon set rules for the two high school seniors as does Ricky’s mom.

Gia desperately wants her crush Ricky to make a move on her, but so far he has not so she prays the summer with no parents or siblings will encourage him as she wants to be his squeeze and not just his BF.  When he does not and another cutie Rashad makes a move, Gia apparently adopts a new crush.  Ricky is crushed as he wants her to be his girl.

This is an engaging young adult romance starring a teen drama queen and the two hunks in her life.  Once Rashad forms the triangle, the fun begins and never slows down until the final beach scene.  Readers will enjoy Cool Like That as Gia’s soundtrack in her head includes Chrisette Michele, Beyonce, Ledisi and Mraiah Carey, etc, but should also have her singing ancient history’s Did You Ever Have to Make Up Your Mind? (Lovin’ Spoonful)

Harriet Klausner