Archive for the ‘Thriller’ Category

It Happens In The Dark-Carol O’Connell

June 7, 2013

It Happens In The Dark
Carol O’Connell
Putnam, Aug 20 2013, $26.95
ISBN: 9780399165399

Peter Beck missed opening night of his Broadway play The Brass Bed. He arrives alone on the second evening somewhat drunk and angry at those involved in his production as he sits in his reserved seat. A very short blackout occurs, but when the lights go back on, the woman sitting near Peter screams as he dies in front of her. On stage, an actor comments “… Not again” as someone died on opening night.

New York Special Crimes Unit Detectives Mallory and Riker lead the investigation into the two suspicious deaths. Ironically, the production is based on the cold blooded massacre of a Nebraskan family. A ghostwriter redoing Beck’s dialogue leaves Mallory with taunting messages on a blackboard in the back area of the theater as Riker comments about this being a strange way of dating someone. As she works the case applying her high standard of diligence and deploying devious manipulations, the taunts continue as the anonymous author seems to have added Mallory to the cast; while the cop brings in some Cornhusker help.

The latest Mallory police procedural (see The Chalk Girl) is a great dark whodunit. The superb storyline primarily focuses on the investigation, but contains short interludes involving dying nonagenarian Charles that shows the heroine has a heart that she definitely does not wear on her sleeve. Action-packed series fans will enjoy Mallory ripping skin from peers and suspects as she expects no interference from the brass and seeks clues from suspects.

Harriet Klausner

Angel Baby-Richard Lange

May 26, 2013

Angel Baby
Richard Lange
Mulholland/Little Brown, May 14 2013, $26.00
ISBN: 9780316219822

In Tijuana, the first time Lutz tried to escape from her violent husband Mexican drug lord Rolando “El Principe”; her dog Pepito paid the price as he viciously stomped to death the toy poodle in front of her. Heartbroken but not totally helpless, Luz knows she must do a much better job with her next attempt. Thus she takes her time working out a plan until she executes it by killing two of his troops and taking his safe’s money.

Raging Rolando liberates American “El Apache” from a Mexican prison. He orders him to locate his wife in the States and to bring her back to him; failure or refusal are unacceptable as El Principe threatens to kill the man’s wife and child. El Apache knows this is no idle threat so he goes to California seeking Luz who in turn searches for her four years old daughter Isabel whom she left behind in the Los Angeles area.

Angel Baby is a taut thriller as a brutal killer forces a felon to go after his missing wife; fans will shudder at what the psychopath will do if he catches his spouse and what he will do if he does not in This Wicked World of his. Character driven, readers will enjoy this tense tale as increasingly it seems an innocent(s) will be maimed or killed.

Harriet Klausner

The Jericho Deception-Jeffrey Small

May 10, 2013

The Jericho Deception
Jeffrey Small
West Hills Press, Apr 30 2013, $15.95
ISBN: 9781933512440

Dr. Ethan Lightman and Professor Elijah Schiff hypothesize that the brain’s left temporal lobe creates religious phenomena. The Yale University pair builds Logos to test their theory. The
“God Machine” as they call Logos emits electrical pulses into the part of the brain that Lightman and Schiff believe control religious thought especially extremist behavior. The Neurological Advancement Foundation’s Dr. Allen Wolfe funds the project.

Not long after Wolfe provides the money, someone murders Schiff and kidnaps grad student Rachel Riley. Ethan ends up in Egypt where he learns that a Dr. Wolfe, working for the CIA, has deployed Project Jericho using a Logos “clone” to convert Muslims into Christians and end seemingly eternal religious conflict.

The Jericho Deception is a super thriller in which the real scientific research is so compelling, at times overwhelms the action scenes. The cast is solid but it is the references to real experiments that bring a sense of genuineness to this exhilarating tale. Readers will enjoy this taut religious suspense while looking up those factual entities that make Jeffrey Small’s saga superbly fresh.

Harriet Klausner

Slice-William Patterson

March 4, 2013

William Patterson
Pinnacle, Feb 26 2013, $9.99
ISBN: 9780786027644

Pregnant Jessie Clarkson fled her home Sayer’s Brook, Connecticut upon witnessing that her husband Emil Deetz was a homicidal psychopath. Her sister Monica and her brother-in-law Todd Bennett got her an apartment in the East Village where she raised her daughter Abby; When Jessie learns that Emil died in a Mexico drug-related shootout, she, her child and their nanny Inga move back to Sayer’s Brook.

Her sibling and her former BFF Heather are unhappy with her return because each stole their husband from Jessie. Horror writer John Manning, who allegedly killed his wife, also lives in the cul de sac. Following a block welcome home party in which the female guests except her aunt wish Jessie stayed in New York, Inga visits John at his home. On her way back to her house, someone slices Inga’s throat reminiscent of what Jessie saw Emil do at the Black Wolf Tavern in Port Chester. As the cops suspect Manning and Clarkson, Abby finds a playmate her age while the adults wonder whose family he belongs to. More murders occur with the same M.O.; the link to the homicides is Jessie.

Slice is an exciting thriller with a supernatural element and a fully developed cast. Although there is too much soap opera-style melodrama, fans will enjoy this fast-paced tale from the first Slice to the last leap of faith.

Harriet Klausner

Heart of Ice-P.J. Parrish

March 4, 2013

Heart of Ice
P.J. Parrish
Pocket, Feb 26 2013, $7.99
ISBN: 9781439189375

In 1990 Florida based private investigator Louis Kincaid is in Michigan spending time with his ten year old daughter Lily. Seven months ago, Kincaid had been working a case in Ann Arbor when he learns his college girlfriend Kyla had not aborted their unborn as she threatened and he dared her. Now he is grateful she did not as father and daughter visit Mackinac Island though he detests the comparisons his tweener makes of him to her stepdad police officer Eric Channing who persuaded Kyla to tell Lily.

Kincaid plans to return to law enforcement if he can obtain an offer in Florida as he knows he is marked as a troublemaker in Michigan. Meanwhile he and Lily bike Mackinac Island when she notices Twin Pines, a house she thinks is haunted so they make an abrupt detour. When she trespasses Lily falls through the floor onto bones. The victim is probably teenage summer resident Julie Chapman who vanished in 1969. Chief of Police Jack Flowers hands over the investigation to State Detective Norm Rafsky, a working acquaintance of Kincaid’s girlfriend Joe Frye who he is to meet in two days. Meanwhile Lily asks her dad to help Flowers with the case as the local cop has no experience with homicides.

The latest Louis Kincaid investigation (see Thicker Than Water, Paint It Black and Dark of the Moon) is an enjoyable twisting whodunit that in spite of the 1990 date has a historical feel to the storyline due to the salad days of the IT gizmo revolution. Although the cop-P.I. rivalry feels somewhat stereotypical, sub-genre readers will relish this thrilling cold case Michigan mystery from the moment Lily rushes into Twin Pines until the final stunning revelation.

Harriet Klausner

Seal Team Six: Hunt The Scorpion-Don Mann and Ralph Pezzullo

February 25, 2013

Seal Team Six: Hunt The Scorpion
Don Mann and Ralph Pezzullo
Mulholland Books/Little Brown, Feb 19 2013, $25.99
ISBN: 9780316209601

Thirty-five miles off the coast of East Africa in a busy sea lane frequented by foreign vessels, prates hijack the MSC Contessa as the ship headed to the Island of Suqutra. Captain Jake McCullom feels guilt for bringing his wife Tanya on this voyage because he concealed the dangerous risk from her.

SEAL Team Six assault leader Warrant Officer Thomas Crocker and his unit who wait for the CIA sent drone in the middle of al-Qaeda held territory in South Yemen when the mission is abruptly aborted. They were contacted and flown to the USS Carl Vinson where he learns his new mission has higher need to know priority. Pirates captured the MSC Contessa, which contained yellowcake as part of the cargo. Securing this war grade uranium before terrorists obtain it has become their task; rescuing the hostages is acceptable as long as that does not impede their obtaining the radioactive material.

The latest Seal Team Six thriller (see Hunt The Wolf) is an exciting action-packed tale from the opening hijacking to the final confrontation. Though incredibly fast-paced, readers also obtain a deep look at how complex and convoluted (outside of Congressional sound bite hearings) foreign policy is even working with allies. Fans of high octane thrillers will enjoy this Seal team Six adventures as plausibility coming from political considerations interfering with mission accomplished and blood flowing from the heroes make for an enjoyable adrenaline ride.

Harriet Klausner

Death, Taxes and Peach Sangria-Diane Kelly

February 24, 2013

Death, Taxes and Peach Sangria
Diane Kelly
St. Martin’s, Jan 29 2013, $7.99
ISBN: 9781250023063

Treasury Department Criminal Investigation Team field operatives Tara Holloway and Eddie Bardin share a great partnership though they are total opposites. He is a married suburban dad who knows the difference between a metaphor and a simile, and a near extinct African-American Republican; she is a single white inner city woman who is the one person education left behind. However, when it comes to catching tax cheats, they are the best (see Death, Taxes, and a Skinny No-Whip Latte; and Death, Taxes, and a French Manicure).

Tara toasts the destruction of the “Deduction Diva” especially after the cheat kneed Eddie so that his wife will be celibate for a while. The remaining three frauds involve a retired incompetent IRS auditor the “Tax Wizard”, and the owners of Beauregard Financial services and Bulls-eye Taxidermy and Tax Processing. At the office, her associates look for love at the online Big D Dating Service. She can deal with her boss “The Lobo” and the virgin Josh going on line for a date, but not her secret attraction for bad-ass Senior Special Agent Nick Pratt even if she has Brett in her life. Eddie and Tara are assigned to the most dangerous death and taxes case yet; working with CIA agents Zardooz and Wang to take down the financiers of terrorists.

The latest Tara Holloway Death and Taxes thriller is an engaging suspense with the heroine’s asides adding humor. The storyline is fast-paced while the CIT officials bring depth and jocularity to the mix. Fans will enjoy the antics of the fastest gun in the IRS as she deals with terrorists, ball-busters and obtaining a perfect Peach Sangria.

Harriet Klausner

Reunion at Red Paint Bay-George Harrar

January 21, 2013

Reunion at Red Paint Bay
George Harrar
Other Press, Jan 29 2013, $14.95
ISBN 9781590515457

In Red Paint, native son Simon Howe owns and edits the Red Paint Register. As they go out to dinner leaving their son Davy alone for the first time, his wife Amy teases him about the newspaper, which carries stories from UFO sightings to terrorist landings to town hall meetings; the residents enjoy the fiction over the news.

However, Simon’s idyllic life becomes disturbed when he begins receiving postcards from someone slowly coming to Red Paint. This unknown person seems to know Simon and accuses him of wrong doing at a graduation party in which the editor was so intoxicated he barely remembers anything. Simon remains unsure who has targeted him except that the culprit apparently is a former local seeking revenge against Simon. After seeing a psychologist, using the name Paul Chambers and believing God sent him on an eye for an eye mission, the postcard writer comes to Red Paint, Maine.

The suspense grips the audience from the arrival of the ignored first postcard and never slows down as readers anticipate a final showdown between Paul and Simon at Red Paint. Part of the tautness is the contrast between the obsessively driven Paul and the serene “Friendliest Town in Maine” especially Simon’s family. The series of confrontations escalates the tension; however the key players act seemingly out of character (though one could argue under pressure changes people from their norm). Still readers will appreciate the Reunion at Red Paint Bay of Paul and Simon.

Harriet Klausner

Tiger by the Tail-John Ringo and Ryan Sears

January 10, 2013

Tiger by the Tail
John Ringo and Ryan Sears
Baen, Jan 1 2013, $25.00
ISBN: 9781451638561

Ex-Navy SEAL turned Caucasus Mountains Kildar warlord Mike Harmon decides he and his Keldara followers deserve R&R after their efforts in the war against terrorism. However, instead of returning to their home in the former Soviet republic Georgia, he leads his team of Keldara and other retired SEALs like Charles Adams against pirates off Pulau Manghai Island near the Malaysian Peninsular, thousands of miles from their mountainous land.

The mission proves successful especially with the enigmatic find of an unlabeled box containing nuclear reactor computer chips. Harmon knows there is no way these pirates should possess these chips so he tortures information out of pirate Captain Yeung Tony to learn how he obtained them and who his customer(s) and destination are. With leads, Harmon, his SEALs and the Keldara follow a lethal trail leading to Myanmar.

The latest Paladin of Shadows tale (see Ghost, Kildar, Choosers of the Slain, Unto the Breach and A Deeper Blue) is an exciting entry that starts off with plenty of action, but decelerates in the middle before stepping on the gas. The banter and camaraderie between the reoccurring cast is fun to follow while newcomers like teenager Vanel Kulcyanov feel like they came out of the generic Keldara typecasting. Still fans will enjoy this Southeast Asia thriller.

Harriet Klausner

The Wrath of Angels-John Connolly

January 3, 2013

The Wrath of Angels
John Connolly
Atria/Emily Bestler Books, Jan 1 2013, $26.00
ISBN: 9781476703022

Retired Maine Forest Service Ranger Harlan Vetters knows that very soon he will join his late wife Angeline. Before he dies, he summons his son and daughter to tell them the tale of the crashed airplane he and his deceased buddy Paul Scollay found in the nearby Great Northern Woods. No one reported the plane missing and the best friends found no bodies in the wreckage or in the vicinity.

However, the plane contains a list that many people covet; names of those who made a Faustian deal with the devil. Marielle Vetters and Ernie Scollay mention the plane that the forest tried to swallow to private detective Charlie Parker who believes he is on this roster of the damned. Hired by Ernie, Parker plans to find the damnation document before others like a scarred female killer; the perpetual tweener who recalls all the details of his death; and the serial killing Kushiel Collector, etc. They and others race into the Great Northern Woods searching for this lost plane with some wanting to use the list to strike at the human quislings and others especially the named needing it destroyed; unaware that the primeval forest and the malevolence that survived the crash passionately look forward to greeting visitors.

The latest Charlie Parker paranormal private investigative thriller (see The Burning Soul) is a great convoluted tale due to the dark foreboding atmosphere that engulfs everyone who enters the woods. Fast-paced from the moment Harlan tells his story to his adult children and never slows down; hooked readers will wonder what next as John Connolly writes a taut twisting suspense.

Harriet Klausner