Archive for March, 2011

In the Rooms-Tom Shone

March 31, 2011

In the Rooms

Tom Shone

Dunne, Apr 12 2011, $24.99

ISBN: 9780312622787

Following a nasty end to a relationship and his work tanking, publisher Patrick Miller flees London for New York.  Patrick moans the fate of British expatriates around the world as he toasts London until he spots the literary legend Douglas Kelsey.  The man’s first novel made him the top American writer of his generation, but leading with his chin Kelsey got into a battle with his publisher and seemingly vanished.

Knowing how easily Kelsey rages, Miller needs a ploy to meet the man.  He stalks Kelsey until he finds the opportunity when the writer enters an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting.  Miller follows him pretending to be an alcoholic so that he can make first contact and hopefully renew his publishing career.

This is an amusing tale that is at its best when it focuses on the changing relationship between the two “alcoholics” as the British expatriate is on a mission to publish the American author’s next book.  The story line is rapid fire stand up comic humor that gels nicely when the lead couple takes center stage.  The plot loses some of its lampooning of Anglo-America when the tale turns to the changing relationship between Patrick and Lola as that feels more of a requirement though in fairness well written and funny.  Fans will relish the jocular British invasion as Patrick sadly muses that he is a victim of the “Sun never sets on the British Empire”.

Harriet Klausner

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Bonded in Brazil-Rhiannon Ellis

March 31, 2011

Bonded in Brazil

Rhiannon Ellis

Camel Press, Mar 25 2011, $15.97

ISBN: 9781603818469

In Caxias do Sul, the Brazilian Menino family is in trouble as they have failed to pay their loan.  They stand to lose the Vina da Gloria vineyards that have been part of the Menino clans for four generations.

Daughter Eliana Menino is willing to do almost anything to save the land as she knows losing it will destroy her father the vintner.  She arranges a deal with “Demonio”, her name for the investor who holds her family’s IOUs.  Hale Forester brings his new indentured servant to his Napa Valley estate.  Her first time outside of Brazil frightens Eli, but she would go to hell for her family.  However, she soon finds her heartless employer has a heart broken in his past, but what she feels for her Demonio is not pity but she fears it is unrequited love.

This warm contemporary romance is an enjoyable read as Eli proves her mettle in Brazil and California.  Although the story line is somewhat linear even with an unexpected twist on the loan, feisty Eli makes for a wonderful tale as the lovely Brazilian takes America to save her family’s birthright from the Demonio she loves.

Harriet Klausner

The Redeemed-M.R. Hall

March 31, 2011

The Redeemed

M.R. Hall

Simon & Schuster, May 3 2011, $25.00

ISBN 9781439157121

Thirtyish Conway Unit senior psychiatric nurse Alan Jacobs is found dead in a churchyard of Saint Peter’s Church in the Severn Vale district.  Coroner Jenny Cooper looks into what appears to be a suicide. 

Not long afterward prison priest Father Lucas Starr asks Jenny to investigate the murder of adult film actress Eva Donaldson.  The request is odd as Paul Craven, who confessed, was convicted of the homicide.  Father Starr believes Craven confessed because he is a bit touched and that the man did not commit the killing.  Jenny agrees to do a cursory look.  She finds out that that the late actress joined the Mission Church of God after quitting the porn industry.  The victim also supported Decency a group demanding internet pornography be outlawed.  As she works on both cases while still struggling with her nasty divorce that pile on top of her uglier childhood, Cooper finds connections between Donaldson and Jacobs; even as her fuming superiors (over Jenny solving the Disappearance case) demand she wrap up her two investigations immediately.

Cooper is an incredible character as she is so F up that it is amazing she is not restrained; the subplot when she was five years old enhance how mentally hurt she is.  The whodunit focuses on religious and political corruption that the brass prefers disappears as M. R. Hall makes a strong case that justice is a two tiered system: the wealthy can flaunt the law and then there is the masses.  Sub-genre fans will appreciate The Redeemed as Cooper battles with her personal problems fearing a breakdown and wars with her superiors over her successful inquiries breaking the Golden Rule of those with the gold make the rule.

Harriet Klausner

The Law of Angels-Cassandra Clark

March 31, 2011

The Law of Angels

Cassandra Clark

Minotaur, Apr 12 2011, $24.99

ISBN: 9780312674557

In 1385, Abbess Hildegard sets up a tiny religious cell in Deepdale, England.  However, her serene rustic retreat is disturbed when armed men attack two of her youthful guests, Maud and Petronilla, who had turned to her for protection.  They are fortunate to have survived the crisis, but Hildegard and the two victims fear they will return to finish the job.

Maud is especially worried that she was the intended target as she escaped from killers who murdered her young brother and destroyed their home.  Hildegard knows no one is safe in England since the Wat Tyler revolt and the latest Papal excommunication.  She escorts the girls to York where she hopes they can obtain protection, but soon the Abbess finds herself in the middle of a murderous plot centering on the Cross of Constantine, which she found.

The third Abbess Hildegard of Meaux medieval mystery (see Hangman Blind and The Red Velvet Turnshoe) is a charming tale in which the late fourteenth century era of abject fear supersedes the slower suspense subplot.  Hildegard is a wonderful caring person who risks her life to insure her two wards are safe as she keeps the story line focused.  Fans of profound historical tales with a supporting mystery will enjoy the Abbess’ latest adventures.

Harriet Klausner

Spider Web-Earlene Fowler

March 31, 2011

Spider Web

Earlene Fowler

Berkley May 3 2011, $25.95

ISBN 9780425240984

In San Celina, California, a sniper fires at the driver’s side window of a parked police car near the town courthouse.  Nobody was hurt as the vehicle was empty at the time of the shooting.  Town police chief Gabe Ortiz leads the inquiry wondering what the motive could be.

Gabe’s wife Benni Harper is busy with her myriad of jobs as a museum curator, rancher and caring for her beloved older relatives while also preparing for the first annual Memory Festival where she and the Coffin Star Quilt Guild will show their Graveyard Quilt for the first time in public.  At the same time Benni scrambles with not enough hours in the day, a woman comes to town seeking a retirement home.  However, instead she meets with Benni to discuss Gabe.

The latest Harper whodunit (see State Fair) is a fun amusing cozy due to the antics of the lead couple’s eccentric family and friends.  The sniper mystery is cleverly set up with readers, Benni and Gabe wondering about the motive; while the female stranger in town adds quite a wallop to the mix.  This is a strong entry as even the most powerful people sometimes need help.

Harriet Klausner

Classified as Murder-Miranda James

March 31, 2011

Classified as Murder

Miranda James

Berkley, May 3 2011, $7.99

ISBN: 9781101514351

In Athena, Mississippi elderly eccentric James Delacorte hires librarian Charlie Harris to catalogue his prized rare book collection.  He explains to Harris that he has supported his extended family even allowing them residence in his vast mansion though they show little respect to him from the heart.  However, he is upset as he believes one of his relatives is stealing his valuable books.

Harris begins his inventory while listening to the taunts of boorish family members.  When one of them kills Delacorte, Charlie assumes the stolen books are the clue to who the culprit is. With the help of Diesel his Maine Coon Cat in the Stacks partner, Charlie seeks to uncover the identity of the ungrateful murderer.

The second Cat-in-the-Stacks amateur sleuth who-done it (see Murder Past Due) is an engaging whodunit due to the male lead whose detecting is suspect (and fun).  However, Charlie’s relationships with his paw partner and with his adult son Sean make him seem real even with a sort of anthropomorphic dialogue between the two sleuths.  Readers will enjoy this entertaining regional whodunit as the librarian and the cat work the case.

Harriet Klausner

Shadow Raiders-Margaret Weis & Robert Krammes

March 31, 2011

Shadow Raiders

Margaret Weis & Robert Krammes

Daw, May 3 2011, $24.95

ISBN: 9780756406622

On the world of Aeronne, the Kingdoms of Rosia and Freya have been enemies for centuries.  Both nations have engaged in arms race as each tries to produce a more powerful weapon to topple their adversary.  Freyian patriot master spy Sir Henry Wallace believes he has the means to defeat Rosia.  A Journeyman knows how to merge magic into metal, which makes the alloy impenetrable by artillery.  Sir Henry goes to Rosia to bring the Journeyman and his family to Freya.

Lord Captain Stephano de Guichen detests his powerful mother who is the advisor to King Alaric of Rosia.  The Counte Cecille de Morjolaine orders her son to find a missing Journeyman who was experimenting on a new weapon when he vanished.  She thinks Sir Henry kidnapped him.  Stephan and his friends the Cadre of the Lost follow Sir Henry’s trail and meet up with Father Jacob of the dreaded Arcanium and the godfather he never met, Sir Arder Martel is a knight protector to the priest.  They join forces at the Abbey of Saint Agness where one hundred nuns were massacred.  Demon riders attack them, but they use counter magic to eliminate the horde.

Also seeking Sir Henry is Grand Bishop Girard who has Agent Dubois searching for the master spy and the Journeyman he escorts.  Dubois knows he must prevent Sir Henry and his retinue from reaching Freya as all parties converge on Westfirth.

Margaret Weis & Robert Krammes have written a grand epic fantasy reminiscent of the early Shanarra books.  Magic is emboldened in objects and large percentages of the populace can use it.  Readers will feel they are visiting another world mindful of the English French medieval war period; but also filled with paranormal creatures; some are allies of mankind while a few are indifferent and the rest are belligerent.  The key characters are fully developed, but most important is the magic of the first Dragon Brigade saga seems real.

Harriet Klausner

The Law of Angels-Cassandra Clark

March 31, 2011

The Law of Angels

Cassandra Clark

Minotaur, Apr 12 2011, $24.99

ISBN: 9780312674557

In 1385, Abbess Hildegard sets up a tiny religious cell in Deepdale, England.  However, her serene rustic retreat is disturbed when armed men attack two of her youthful guests, Maud and Petronilla, who had turned to her for protection.  They are fortunate to have survived the crisis, but Hildegard and the two victims fear they will return to finish the job.

Maud is especially worried that she was the intended target as she escaped from killers who murdered her young brother and destroyed their home.  Hildegard knows no one is safe in England since the Wat Tyler revolt and the latest Papal excommunication.  She escorts the girls to York where she hopes they can obtain protection, but soon the Abbess finds herself in the middle of a murderous plot centering on the Cross of Constantine, which she found.

The third Abbess Hildegard of Meaux medieval mystery (see Hangman Blind and The Red Velvet Turnshoe) is a charming tale in which the late fourteenth century era of abject fear supersedes the slower suspense subplot.  Hildegard is a wonderful caring person who risks her life to insure her two wards are safe as she keeps the story line focused.  Fans of profound historical tales with a supporting mystery will enjoy the Abbess’ latest adventures.

Harriet Klausner

Spider Web-Earlene Fowler

March 31, 2011

Spider Web

Earlene Fowler

Berkley May 3 2011, $25.95

ISBN 9780425240984

In San Celina, California, a sniper fires at the driver’s side window of a parked police car near the town courthouse.  Nobody was hurt as the vehicle was empty at the time of the shooting.  Town police chief Gabe Ortiz leads the inquiry wondering what the motive could be.

Gabe’s wife Benni Harper is busy with her myriad of jobs as a museum curator, rancher and caring for her beloved older relatives while also preparing for the first annual Memory Festival where she and the Coffin Star Quilt Guild will show their Graveyard Quilt for the first time in public.  At the same time Benni scrambles with not enough hours in the day, a woman comes to town seeking a retirement home.  However, instead she meets with Benni to discuss Gabe.

The latest Harper whodunit (see State Fair) is a fun amusing cozy due to the antics of the lead couple’s eccentric family and friends.  The sniper mystery is cleverly set up with readers, Benni and Gabe wondering about the motive; while the female stranger in town adds quite a wallop to the mix.  This is a strong entry as even the most powerful people sometimes need help.

Harriet Klausner

Shadow Raiders-Margaret Weis and Robert Krammes

March 31, 2011

Shadow Raiders

Margaret Weis & Robert Krammes

Daw, May 3 2011, $24.95

ISBN: 9780756406622

On the world of Aeronne, the Kingdoms of Rosia and Freya have been enemies for centuries.  Both nations have engaged in arms race as each tries to produce a more powerful weapon to topple their adversary.  Freyian patriot master spy Sir Henry Wallace believes he has the means to defeat Rosia.  A Journeyman knows how to merge magic into metal, which makes the alloy impenetrable by artillery.  Sir Henry goes to Rosia to bring the Journeyman and his family to Freya.

Lord Captain Stephano de Guichen detests his powerful mother who is the advisor to King Alaric of Rosia.  The Counte Cecille de Morjolaine orders her son to find a missing Journeyman who was experimenting on a new weapon when he vanished.  She thinks Sir Henry kidnapped him.  Stephan and his friends the Cadre of the Lost follow Sir Henry’s trail and meet up with Father Jacob of the dreaded Arcanium and the godfather he never met, Sir Arder Martel is a knight protector to the priest.  They join forces at the Abbey of Saint Agness where one hundred nuns were massacred.  Demon riders attack them, but they use counter magic to eliminate the horde.

Also seeking Sir Henry is Grand Bishop Girard who has Agent Dubois searching for the master spy and the Journeyman he escorts.  Dubois knows he must prevent Sir Henry and his retinue from reaching Freya as all parties converge on Westfirth.

Margaret Weis & Robert Krammes have written a grand epic fantasy reminiscent of the early Shanarra books.  Magic is emboldened in objects and large percentages of the populace can use it.  Readers will feel they are visiting another world mindful of the English French medieval war period; but also filled with paranormal creatures; some are allies of mankind while a few are indifferent and the rest are belligerent.  The key characters are fully developed, but most important is the magic of the first Dragon Brigade saga seems real.

Harriet Klausner