Archive for February, 2011

Fly Me to Paradise-Catherine Andorka

February 28, 2011

Fly Me to Paradise

Catherine Andorka

Five Star, Apr 6 2011, $25.95

ISBN: 9781594149535

 

In Illinois, neither she nor her husband Charles wanted children, but before he underwent a vasectomy, his wife Madeline Holt persuaded him to leave sperm at the Lynwood Fertility Clinic in case they change their minds.  After he died, she decided to undergo insemination to raise a child of his.  However, a mistake occurs and she learns she is carrying the offspring of Cromwell corporate pilot Kurt Williams.

 

Both are upset‚ but she makes it clear she will not abort the fetus nor give the child up once born.  He surprises her as he agrees with her plans.  However he has one exception; Though he suffers from Hodgkin ’s disease that he prays is in remission,  he plans to be in their child’s life, as he vowed to never desert a kid of his like his dad did when he was six years old.  As they spend time together, they fall in love.  However, she keeps her distance as she feels his job is dangerous; besides which she fears heights; while he wonders why she never asked him why he donated sperm.

 

Fly Me To Paradise is an engaging contemporary romance in which a mistake serves as the matchmaker between a widow and a remission cancer victim.  Readers will empathize with Madeline’s reluctance to get involved as love hurts especially since her late husband was cautions and still died in an accident; on the other hand Kurt serves more as a role model as he learns life is precious and potentially expendable.  Although their hesitations becomes a bit repetitive, fans will enjoy this fun tale of two nice people falling in love, but each has doubts about their future except when it comes to the child she carries.

 

Harriet Klausner

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As the Crow Flies-Maris Soule

February 28, 2011

As the Crow Flies

Maris Soule

Five Star, Apr 6 2011, $25.95

ISBN: 9781594149528

Zenith, Michigan CPA P.J. Benson gives a talk at the town library warning people not to get sucked into scams; the mantra is that if it seems too good to be true it is because it is too good to be true.  After completing her presentation, elderly Ida Delaney hands a battered briefcase owned by her nephew Donald to P.J.  She reluctantly accepts it.

Ida fears her nephew is blackmailing people over what is inside the briefcase: lab reports, maps, and soil samples that make several people look guilty of criminal activity.  Not long afterward, Donald arrives at P.J.’s home, demands the briefcase and attacks her before leaving with it.  Her boyfriend Kalamazoo Sheriff’s Department Detective Sergeant Wade Kingsley warns her to back off, but P.J. obstinately refuses as she investigates a case that turns to homicide.

The second Benson Michigan cozy (see The Crows) is an interesting whodunit as the heroine and Baraka the Rhodesian Ridgeback investigate the case.  The story line is fast-paced, but I had an issue with how the heroine’s boyfriend the cop (and others) handle the violence against her as if she is at fault for the assaults by her neighbor Nora and Donald.  Still, fans will enjoy the intrepid amateur sleuth as she ignores Wade (except to wonder why he seems to have dumped her without telling her) and the threats to her life to continue her inquiries.

Harriet Klausner

Gardens of Grief-Boston Teran

February 28, 2011

Gardens of Grief

Boston Teran

High Top Publications, Apr 2011, $22.00

ISBN: 9781567030563

In 1915, the American State Department sends Bureau of Investigation agent John Lourdes to Constantinople where the fighting has been fierce.  Lourdes knows his assignment borders on suicide as the Ottoman Empire with their Central partners having defeated the British in the Dardanelles has begun an ethnic cleansing campaign to eradicate the Christian Armenians though the government insists they are at war with rebels rather than a planned genocide.  

Lourdes mission is to bring out of the war zone, Father Malek who has become a symbol of the Armenian resistance as he gave up the plow to pick up the sword.  At the same time the Ottoman Empire makes a concerted effort to catch the martyr and consequently the American whose Mexican roots enables him to somewhat blend in with the populace.

This is an incredible look at one of the first mass government sponsored genocides that rivals that of those that followed like the Nazis, the killing fields of Cambodia and the bloody red rivers of Rwanda, etc.  With a nod to Solzhenitsyn’s exposing of Stalin, the exhilarating story line is action-packed with some scenes of horrific inhumanity; but throughout the cautionary message is to never forget hoping the world shines a spotlight on the next ethnic cleaning to prevent another round of The Creed of Violence.

Harriet Klausner

Bel-Air Dead-Stuart Woods

February 28, 2011

Bel-Air Dead

Stuart Woods

Putnam, Apr 26 2011, $25.95

ISBN 9780399157363

In Southern California, elderly actor Vance Calder dies.  He leaves his much younger widow Arrington his stock in Centurion Studios in Bel-Air.  Arrington asks her former lover Manhattan based attorney Stone Barrington to travel to Los Angeles to represent her legally, as she battles over who controls the studio.  Dropping everything to assist the mother of his son, Barrington makes Strategic Moves starting with reorganizing Arrington’s shares; buying more stock for her; and finally forging partnerships with other holders in order for his client to have the controlling interest.

Known for playing hardball Terry Prince, CEO of Prince Investments, wants the choice property where Centurion Studios resides as he knows there is much more to be made from development.  When someone murders stockholder Jennifer Harris, Barrington assumes his opponent raised the stakes.  With his sidekick Dino Bacchetti having his back, Stone obtains local help as he plays chess with an amoral opponent.

With a twist that includes Ed Eagle territory (see Santa Fe Edge and Santa Fe Dead.); fans will enjoy the Stone invasion of Hollywood as the East Coast hipster matches up against a West Coast shark.  The story line is fast-paced from the moment Stone arrives in California until the climax as regardless of which coast the hero is in, he retains his usual unconcerned demeanor in the face of danger while also being a chick magnet.

Harriet Klausner

Wolfsangel-M.D. Lachlan

February 28, 2011

Wolfsangel

M.D. Lachlan

PYR, Mar 22 2011, $16.00

ISBN: 9781616143572

King Authun leads his men on a raid of a village; but before they arrive at their destination he warns them they will all die.  None are afraid as warriors prefer death in combat.  The monarch’s mission is to find the royal heir to his throne as prophesied by the Queen of the witches.  In a Christian church, Authun finds twin male babies.  He takes the pair with him leaving behind his loyal soldiers except one to die.  In the North Sea his last comrade raises his sword in combat before diving to his death as no one except the witch, the king and his wife will know the heir’s origin.

Several years later, one of the infants Prince Vali the heir lives with a rival ruler.  He loves Adisla and prefers working the land rather than fighting for land.  When raiders attack, Vali uses strategy to defend the village successfully though they capture Adisla.  Those he saved from certain death loath Vali for using unacceptable tactics as the warrior credo insists on fighting to the death.  Cerebral Vali and his feral brother Feileg raised by the Witch Queen as a warrior wolf join on a quest to rescue Adisla though neither realizes they are related.  The adventures of the twins are just beginning.

Using Norse mythology, M.D. Lachlan tells a strong quest fantasy that contains two distinct yet related story lines.  The first described above is a sword and sorcery thriller while the other subplot involved the intrusion of the Gods on the lives of mortals.  Fast-paced and loaded with plenty of action while establishing the Lachlan world order and setting up future escapades; readers will be hooked as the twins chase after raiders to rescue Adisla.  Interestingly even with long stretches without either of the polar opposite twin stars, Wolfsangel enchants the audience. 

Harriet Klausner

The Emperor of Nihon-Ja-John Flanagan

February 28, 2011

The Emperor of Nihon-Ja

John Flanagan

Philomel, Apr 19 2011, $17.99

ISBN: 9780399255007

In Toscana, the Aridi representatives led by Selethen negotiate a treaty with the Toscan Senate.  The two nations have had wars in the past, but with wiser leaders each sees the benefit of trade and security even as they deploy different military strategies.  At the same time that Will and Halt toss friendly insults at each other while watching the Toscan military perform under the leadership of General Sapristi, Alyss is part of the negotiating team. 

Meanwhile their friend Horace fails to communicate with his comrades in arms as he has spent months in the Nihon-Ja Empire.  However, something is not right as the popular Emperor Lord Shigeru is disposed of in a coup d’état.  Knowing he should stay out of the internal squabble between those loyal to the Emperor and the Arisaka led Senji rebels, but he feels injustice has come to the eastern kingdom.  Soon his worried Araluen friends (Selethen, Will, Alyss and Evanlyn) arrive in Nihon-Ja searching for him.

The latest Ranger’s Apprentice saga is a great thriller that grips the audience as all is quiet on the western front, but civil war has broken out in the east.  The story line is loaded with action from the moment the story line shifts to Nihon-Ja and never slows down with heroes’ regretting they have only one life to give to their emperor.  Fans will enjoy this powerful military thriller in the Flanagan realm as one person can clearly make a difference if he or she takes the risk.

Harriet Klausner

Enigmatic Pilot-Kris Saknussemm

February 28, 2011

Enigmatic Pilot

Kris Saknussemm

Del Rey, Mar 22 2011, $16.00

ISBN: 9780812974171

In 1844 in Zanesville, Ohio, clubfooted inventor Hephaestus Sitturd; his Seal islands Creole wife Rapture and their genius five years old son Lloyd receive an invitation to move to Texas.  Hephaestus’s half-brother Micah claims they can make a fortune, but his message is enigmatic as he insists he cannot explain how on paper.

Although mystified by Micah’s odd note as war with Mexico seems imminent, the Sitturd family begins their odyssey across America.  Lloyd a gifted inventor of oddities learns how to play poker from watching St, Ives a riverboat gambler with a mechanical hand containing a saber; they become partners.  He works out the issue of humans flying and encounters robots masquerading as people after meeting the Professor and his two mute wives as ambassadors of Mars.  It is Miss Viola who teaches him the ways of seduction as two ancient arcane societies continue their epochal war with one another over the future of humanity with each believing the brilliant Lloyd will be a tipping point.  However it is teenage Hattie the escaped slave who teaches the lad how to love.

Starting in Zanesville but a couple of centuries earlier than Kris Saknussemm’s previous Zanesville dark futuristic thriller, preadolescent genius Lloyd holds the exhilarating but enigmatic tale together as he creates oddities and meets oddities.  Lloyd learns from the masters while teaching his mentors as well.  However, each time the audience feels comfortable, Kris Saknussemm throws a spitball that spins the moral code elsewhere.  The author extrapolates the present values back to the nineteenth century arguing that the American dream is a nightmarish facade for most and a dream for few even as early as the Antebellum period. 

Harriet Klausner

The Uncoupling-Meg Wolitzer

February 27, 2011

The Uncoupling

Meg Wolitzer

Riverhead, Apr 5 2011, $25.95

ISBN: 9781594487880

At Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Stellar Plains, New Jersey, drama teacher Fran Heller chooses the Ancient Greek classic Lysistrata as the play her students will perform.  However the anti-war comedy has a strange effect on the town’s females.  Just like in Aristophanes’ drama, the adult women and teen girls refuse to have sex with their male counterparts.  Though in the Greek drama it was to end the endless Peloponnesian War; none of the Jersey women know why,

No exceptions to the sexual abstinence rule surfaces.  The guys are stunned as their seductive efforts fail miserably.  The women wonder where the passion went while the men wonder where the women went.  All are unhappy as a spell has been cast leading to the Uncoupling of couples breaking up. 

This is an intriguing sort of adult fairy tale look at female sexuality in the age of social media when people are living much longer.  The story line is character driven by the couples struggling with frustration over unfulfilled basic needs although the female side is much more complicated.  Readers will enjoy the New Jersey Housewives and other females starring in Mg Wolitzer’s modern day rendition of Lysistrata.

Harriet Klausner

Dangerous Pleasures-Fiona Zedde

February 27, 2011

Dangerous Pleasures

Fiona Zedde

Kensington, Feb 1 2011, $15.00

ISBN 9780758217400

Her Yoga students and her lovers appreciate Mayson a lesbian.  She enjoys her work as an instructor and relishes making love with various partners.  Her best friend Renee a heterosexual struggles to move on beyond a divorce from her emotionally abusive husband.  Her parents want her to date staid neighbor Grant who reflects his desire for her on his face (and other body parts), but she wants sex when she desires it with no strings.  Mayson helps Renee arrange trysts with strangers until the latter finds the man who plays her like a violin virtuoso as she wants more from him.

Kendra meets Mayson and is instantly attracted to her.  Mayson is somewhat curious about Kendra who openly displays her desire.  Kendra pursues Mayson earnestly as she wants her.  They begin a heated tryst that both enjoy.  However, as Kendra sends her gifts and tries to take up her free time exclusively, Mayson realizes her lover demands more from her than she wants to give.  While Mayson pushes back for some space, a hurt Kendra turns angry and jealous.

With a nod to the Douglas-Stone film Basic Instinct, aptly titled Dangerous Pleasures is a fabulous erotic relationship drama driven by the dysfunctional lead couple.  How Kendra acts after feeling betrayed will stun readers but seems plausible.  Though somewhat repetitive, Fiona Zedde provides an entreating contemporary cautionary tale warns the audience not to trifle with someone else’s heart.

Harriet Klausner

Fade to Blue-Bill Moody

February 27, 2011

Fade to Blue

Bill Moody

Poisoned Pen, Apr 5 2011, $24.95

ISBN 9781590588949

Though he is part of the San Francisco jazz scene, Evan Horne accepts a paying gig in Los Angeles.  Actually in Malibu where he has been retained to train actor Ryan Stiles to appear on the silver screen as if he playing jazz piano. 

However, the spoiled film star rages during a paparazzi attack and a photographer dies.  Evan wants to go home as the money is not worth the effort of dealing with the pampered Ryan even in the plush beach home.  However, Stiles’ manager offers him the chance to score the film if he continues to teach the actor to look as if he plays the piano.  The police determine Stiles is innocent of the death, but while filming a second person dies and a blackmailer extorts money from the beleaguered star.  Evan. assisted by his FBI girlfriend Andie Lawrence and LAPD Police Lieutenant Danny Cooper, investigates while serial killer Gillian Sims escapes from prison.

The latest Evan Horne mystery is an engaging tale that is fun to read, but lacks the intriguing jazz pedigree of Shades of Blue, Looking for Chet Baker and Bird Lives!  The story line is fast-paced as Evan decides to do what he believes is the right thing though he detests his mercurial student.  Although the serial killer subplot feels forced and unnecessary, fans will enjoy Bill Moody’s entertaining musical mystery.

Harriet Klausner