Archive for the ‘Mystery’ Category

All That I Need-Francis Ray

July 8, 2013

All That I Need
Francis Ray
St. Martin’s, Jul 2 2013, $7.99
ISBN: 9781250023810

Travel writer Fallon Marshall has the patience of Job especially when things go wrong, but she always gets the job done right. She learns of an auction being held by Saxton Auction House at the famous Yates Estate. To gain access to the sale and the landmark home, Fallon will need the cooperation of Lance Saxton who two weeks ago she called a thief.

Fallon knows she first became attracted to Lance when she saw a photo of him in Fortune magazine. Lance knows he was first attracted to the journalist when they first met and argued. Each thinks the other uses the misfortune of people. He agrees to allow her access so she invites him to dinner to make up for her calling him heartless. Both are wary, but begin seeing each other as their attraction turns to love; which frightens these world travelers even more as each doubts relationships survive the early desire.

The latest Grayson Friends contemporary romance (see The Way You Love Me and One Night With You) is a fabulous entry as the protagonists struggle with love due to false preconceptions caused by caring family members trying to keep away the hurt only to make matters worse. With the recent passing away of Francis Ray, subgenre fans have lost one of the consistent greats whose Grayson pantheon is a fabulous legacy that has at least one more entry in the Fall (All That I Desire).

Harriet Klausner

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A Murder In Passing-Mark de Castrique

July 8, 2013

A Murder In Passing
Mark de Castrique
Poisoned Pen, Jul 2 2013, $24.95
ISBN: 9781464201516

In Asheville, North Carolina, Sam Blackman and Nakayla Robertson have no clients. Sam is bored so Nakayla suggests they close the Blackman & Robertson Detective Agency for the day and go on a mushroom hunt on the historic Kingdom of the Happy Land. Thinking this venture will increase his ennui, Sam goes anyway. Sam finds human skeletal remains on the freed-slave commune property. Henderson County Sheriff Deputy Overcash, who hates Sam for solving a case of his, warns the two private investigators to stay out of their inquiry; though jurisdiction may belong to Greenville County, South Carolina as the boundary is right at the hollow log containing the corpse.

Marsha Montgomery arrives at the office of Blackman & Robertson Detective Agency wanting to hire Sam and Nakayla to investigate a burglary at her mother Lucille’s home in 1967. She explains someone stole a rifle and a photograph of her mother, grandmother, and great grandmother taken in 1932 at The Kingdom of the Happy Land by famous photographer Doris Ulmann. The police arrest African-American octogenarian Lucille for the murder of her white lover Jimmy Lang over forty years ago. Sam and Nakayla investigate the cold case murder.

The fourth B & R mystery (see The Sandburg Connection, Blackman’s Coffin and The Fitzgerald Ruse) is an engaging investigative whodunit with the artist being the famous Appalachia photographer rather than a writer. Fast-paced from the moment Sam finds a body and never slowing down even with some repetitive back story, fans will enjoy this tale that links several decades at a place where former slaves created The Kingdom of the Happy Land.

Harriet Klausner

The Terrorist Next Door-Sheldon Siegel

July 8, 2013

The Terrorist Next Door
Sheldon Siegel
Poisoned Pen, Jul 2 2013, $24.95
ISBN: 9781464201646

Chicago PD Homicide Detective David Gold receives a Medal of Valor in a public ceremony for stopping student Hassan Al-Shahid from bombing the Art Institute of Chicago, but his partner and best friend Paulie Loszewski died. As he gives a short uncomfortable speech, a car bomb explodes and a text arrives claiming it is not over. His boss Maloney calls in the Feds as terrorism has come to South Chicago.

Other car bombs explode near landmarks with the motive to force the city to free Al-Shahid. As the city lives in fear with deaths mounting and no place safe, Gold, his new partner A.C. Battle and the FBI pursue a clever Muslim extremist terrorist thought to be related to Al-Shahid.

The Boston marathon bombing makes the first Gold police procedural appear authentic as terrorism shuts down a major American city. The lead cops have plenty of personal tsuris but remain focused on taking down the brilliant predator while their insight into Chicago (Cubs or Sox) brings depth to the mix. Although late happenchance detracts from the excitement and Mike Daley is on recess, readers will enjoy the taut Terrorist Next Door which warns Americans to avoid stereotyping the enemy.

Harriet Klausner

The Right Side Of Wrong-Reavis Z. Wortham

July 8, 2013

The Right Side Of Wrong
Reavis Z. Wortham
Poisoned Pen, Jul 2 2013, $24.95
ISBN: 9781464201486

In 1966, twenty-four year old Constable Cody Parker is stunned by the snow piling up as it rarely comes down let alone sticks in Center Spring, Texas on the south side of the Red River. He notices tire marks in the snow so he follows them using his wife Norma Faye’s vehicle as his car’s battery died due to the freezing temperature. When he sees the sedan parked, Cody down shifts but skids anyway. The other driver fires a 12 gauge through the windshield hitting Cody whose Plymouth crashes. A starving pack of abandoned dogs fights over his injured body until elderly newcomer Tom Bell kills the alpha and another sending the rest fleeing.

Cody’s Uncle Constable Ned Parker and deputy sheriff John Washington lead investigations into the near fatal attack and other homicides in the area. Each concludes that a new type of trafficker had come to Red River; these homicidal predators sell drugs that they obtain in Mexico. Still upset with the assault that nearly killed him, Cody follows suspects south of the border. Ned follows his foolish nephew to save him from killers.

The third Parker clan historical police procedural (see The Rock Hole and Burrows) is a great 1960s period piece thriller with segregation remaining strictly enforced; for instance Washington is the Jackie Robinson of law enforcement in the area but separate facilities for whites and coloreds remain in place a dozen years after the Brown ruling. The drug trafficking is also just beginning to find favorite lethal migratory paths. The cast is solid as is the investigation, but it is the vivid look at 1966 Red River shootout that makes for a super entertaining tale.

Harriet Klausner

Questions of Travel-Michelle de Kretser

May 26, 2013

Questions of Travel
Michelle de Kretser
Little, Brown, May 14 2013, $26.00
ISBN: 9780316219228

In 1966 in Sydney, Australia, her older twin brothers tried to kill two year old Laura Fraser after her mom died as they blamed this female “alien” for her death. In the 1980s her brother Cameron dies, but she has no grief as he clearly hated her. When the only person who cares about her Aunt Hester died, Laura inherits a lot of money. She begins a travel odyssey around the world seeking someone who would love her.

In the 1970s and 1980s, Ravi Mendis dreamed of seeing the world though he has no hope to escape his Sri Lankan village except perhaps to live in nearby Colombo. He marries and has a daughter, but the brutal civil war forces Ravi to flee his homeland. In 2000s he and Laura meet in Australia.

Questions of Travel is a fascinating look into journeys (of the mind as much as the body). The underlying premise is that the treasure is not always at the end of the rainbow; instead you may trek from and to sh*t. Character driven by the fully-developed lead pair within rotating subplots, readers who appreciate something different will enjoy this tale of leaving home.

Harriet Klausner

Kneading To Die-Liz Mugavero

May 18, 2013

Kneading To Die
Liz Mugavero
Kensington, May 7 2013, $7.99
ISBN: 9780758284785

When Warner Insurance downsized her public relations position, Kristan “Stan” Connor, accompanied by her significant other Nutty the Maine Coon cat, left West Hartford for a simpler life in Frog Ledge, Connecticut. While her boyfriend Richard wonders if she lost her mind by leaving the big city for Sleepy Hollow, Stan hears the neighbors brawl while she moves into her Victorian.

Stan likes her new neighbors; especially Char Mackey, homeopathic animal nurturer Amara Leonard and “Pet’s Last Chance” director Nikki Manning while they seem to welcome her and her special food that she makes for Nutty and soon the other town pets. Town veterinarian, Dr. Carole Morganwick visits Stan demanding she bring Nutty in as a patient before office hours. Though her stomach churns and her mind tells her not to, Stan and Nutty arrive for the early appointment only to find unpopular Morganwick buried dead in kibble. State trooper Jessica Pasquale and the locals look at the newcomer as the suspect when their pets become poisoned; so Stan seeks answers especially the source of what is harming the animals.

The first Pawsitively Organic Gourmet Pet Food amateur sleuth is an engaging whodunit with two mysteries for the heroine to resolve. Although the love of pets feels like a hammer used to frequently to even a cat and dog lover like me, readers will enjoy Stan’s investigative asides into the poisoning of pets and as a byproduct the vet’s homicide.

Harriet Klausner

Deadly Harvest-Michael Stanley

May 10, 2013

Deadly Harvest
Michael Stanley
Bourbon Street/Harper, Apr 30 2013, $14.99
ISBN: 9780062221520

Botswana Criminal Investigation Department assigns Police Detective Samantha Khama to work a four-month old cold case; the disappearance of ten year old orphan Lesego Betse. The first CID female detective Samantha concludes a witch doctor killed the female to harvest her human remains as key ingredients in Muti medicine.

When another young girl vanishes, CID Assistant Superintendent David “Kubu” Bengu joins Samantha on her investigation as the cold case has become hot. As two cops investigate serial killings tied to Muti, an irate father of one of the victims plans a vengeance murder of a politician who may be using a witch doctor’s Muti.

The fourth Detective Kubu police procedural (see Death of the Mantis) is a great gritty investigative thriller that contrasts modern Botswana with its long standing heritage of witch doctors. Adding depth to the storyline is introducing the first female detective who expects to face sexism in spite of her deft handling of the case. Readers will relish this tense suspense as team Michael Stanley provides a super Botswana investigation.

Harriet Klausner

Daddy’s Gone A Hunting-Mary Higgins Clark

April 16, 2013

Daddy’s Gone A Hunting
Mary Higgins Clark
Simon & Schuster, Apr 9 2013, $26.99
ISBN: 9781451668940

Retired Gus Schmidt meets CPA Kate Connolly at four thirty in the morning at her family-owned Connelly Fine Antique Reproductions in Long Island City; where he once worked. An explosion leaves Gus dead and Kate unconscious. While Kate lies comatose and unable to defend herself, rumors abound as to why she met with a former employee before the place was open.

Her sister, fashion designer Hannah, wants the truth, which she believes will exonerate her sibling. Clues lead to the disappearance almost three decades ago of an aspiring actress from Illinois whose attorney brother has just moved to the city and to a two years old cold case murder of a Barnard student.

Readers who can ignore the quadrillion happenchance plot forwarding moments will enjoy this suspenseful tale; as Hannah, bungling her amateur sleuthing endeavor, brings tension to the entertaining storyline; more than the villain and the felonious few abetting the culprit. Though not one of Mary Higgins Clark’s stronger thrillers, fans of the author will want to know what is going on in this exciting mystery.

Harriet Klausner

Chihuahua Confidential-Waverly Curtis

April 15, 2013

Chihuahua Confidential
Waverly Curtis
Kensington, Apr 2 2013, $7.99
ISBN: 9780758274960

Partners Geri Sullivan and Pepe the Chihuahua she rescued from the local pound drive from their home in Seattle to Hollywood as contestants on Dancing With the Dogs. Geri, used to Pepe never shutting up, listens to her canine friend tell her about his time living in Southern California as a pampered pet of starlet Caprice Kennedy.

Pepe expects to win the dance contest if Geri can keep up with his steps. However, when they go on stage, they are greeted by one of the three judges being dead. A second corpse follows and several canines vanish. While the Washingtonian duo dances together, they also investigate the murders and dognapping.

The latest Barking Detective mystery (see Dial C For Chihuahua) is a lighthearted engaging whodunit as the reality show humor provides a fun counterbalance to the homicides and canine abductions. Readers will appreciate Pepe’s antics as he seems to have a nose for trouble that match paw to hand to the stratospheric levels of tsuris attained by Geri’s boss, private investigator Jimmy G.

Harriet Klausner

Angel’s Gate-P.G. Sturges

February 28, 2013

Angel’s Gate
P.G. Sturges
Scribner, Feb 26 2013, $27.00
ISBN 9781476712970

In Los Angeles, former cop and now a fixer, Dick “The Shortcut Man” Henry works odd cases using any means including peeing on a barred lawyer’s plant to obtain satisfaction for his clients and a fee for services for him. Producer Melvin Shea supplies cocaine and wannabe actresses like Rhonda Carling to Ivanhoe Studios chief Howard Hogue. Vicious Director Eli Navaria thrives in this den of inequity where he can get away with abusing women. Meanwhile Ex-marine Devi Stanton watches over the young starlets as the housemother. She needs help with a nasty situation so turns to the Shortcut Man to clean the mess.

Ellen Arden has not heard from her sister in years. She hires the Shortcut Man to find her missing sibling. The cases intertwine with a questionable death on a boat several years ago.

The latest Shortcut Man caper (see The Tribulations of the Shortcut Man) is an enjoyable Hollywood studio system satire. The engaging storyline is fast-paced with plenty of humor (including some gross smelly slapstick) yet with a serious undertone involving the abuse of power of the naïve ambitious and those in charge deem that satisfying.

Harriet Klausner