Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Next President: How the Man Defines the Office-Dee J, Rammell-

The Next President: How the Man Defines the Office

Dee J, Rammell

Tate Publishing, Jun 26 2012, $14.99

ISBN: 9781620240885

This is an excellent timely short primer with the election coming in the fall as Dee J, Rammell gives an overview of each of the presidents including their background, accomplishments, famous quotes, failures, personal lives, and more but does so in context of the era in which they served. One of the more interesting tidbits is Hayes overcoming “Rutherfraud” and adhering to his contract with America to serve one-term; by the short entry he comes across as transitional at a time when leadership was needed yet ranked by historian polls as 24th. The death of Pierce’s last living son left his wife blaming his political ambitions as being ungodly and probably led to his oath on a law book not a bible. The rankings are interesting as there is a consensus that at a time of crisis, the 1850s include three great failures (Google each president’s last name to see when they show up to tell you their contemporary significance). Including Bush the younger when he was only five years into his term and less than four years since leaving seems invalid as too soon and those like the assassinated Taylor may not have had enough time to matter. I would have appreciated more information on the survey mechanism (questions), who participates with overarching summaries of personal biases, and comparative rankings over the decades to include theories for why radical changes occur. Still this is a fabulous quick look at the presidents; summed up nicely by President McKinley with this wry comment over a century before Citizens United: “He who controls the money supply of a nation controls the nation.”

Harriet Klausner

The Girl's Still Got It-Liz Curtis Higgs

The Girl's Still Got It

Liz Curtis Higgs

WaterBrook, Jul 10 2012, $14.99

ISBN: 9781578564484

In circa 1200 BC (give or take a century or two) in Moab, three women stand by graves grieving the deaths of two brothers. The widow mother of the deceased Naomi has decided to travel to Bethlehem. One daughter-in-law hysterical Orphan selects to remain in Moab; the other Ruth chooses to accompany her mother-in-law on her journey. Impoverished, the two women meet Boaz who takes both of them into his home and soon weds Ruth. Their great-grandchild becomes the King of Israel.

This is an excellent retelling of the biblical tale of Ruth using contemporary idioms and metaphor to tell the backstory while also extracting line by line the Old Testament entry; for instance Liz Curtis Higgs explains how Naomi the Jew ended up in Moab not explained in the bible. The three prime stars are fully developed as readers will understand their motives and their beliefs especially in the Lord. Though some fundamentalist might take exception as heresy this entertaining breezy treatment of the story of Ruth, I found the tale refreshing, insightful and lighthearted yet reverent to the Lord. Ms. Higgs takes her audience back over three millennia ago (without a DeLorean) as she provides a unique way to tell the Lord’s message.

Harriet Klausner

Suzy's Case-Andy Siegel

Suzy's Case

Andy Siegel

Scribner, Jul 10 2012, $26.00

ISBN: 9781451658781

In New York City criminal lawyer Henry Benson has given work to personal injury and medical malpractice attorney Tug Wyler that four times has led to the latter being called before the Disciplinary Committee. Once again he is slapped with an ethics violation and a fine of $25.00 as Judge Howell knows Wyler was right. Observer Judge Piccone warns Tug he will throw the book at him if he oversees a lack of zealousness defending a client regardless of cause.

Benson asks Wyler to handle the Suzy Williams tragedy. In a Brooklyn hospital, six years old Suzy went into cardiac arrest; a seizure left her “a spastic quadriplegic with severe brain damage.” When Benson’s medical expert claims the child’s sickle cell anemia caused the seizure rather than staff negligence, Tug knows there is no complaint. However, Suzy’s single mom June persuades him to represent her daughter in their multimillion-dollar lawsuit.

Wyler will remind legal thriller fans of Joseph Teller’s Jaywalker (see The Tenth Case), as he thrives to do the right thing regardless of personal costs. The engaging storyline is fast-paced though there are too many happenchance incidents. However the cast is top rate starting with the wisecracking Wyler who enjoys busting the chops of righteous shitheads in power, the caring mom and especially Suzy.

Harriet Klausner

The World Between-Belva Rae Staples

The World Between

Belva Rae Staples

Tate Publishing, Mar 27 2012, $22.99

ISBN: 9781617779633

Georgie O'Dell was eight years old when his elderly neighbor Miss MacAlpin began to tell him the tale of evil Alex Edgecomb, a boy with a dark soul. Instead of paling with his friends, Georgie is hooked on the story and visits next door frequently to hear more.

Young Alex hated everyone including his family but especially his sister. The wicked Alex tries to overthrow the kingdom of Kriterion. However, to Georgie’s delight, Alex's coup d’état fails. Unremorseful Alex awaits punishment for his murders of other children and additional atrocities. Georgie soon learns a stunning truth about his hostess; who has asked him to one day write her fable.

The first Kriterion Saga (see the sequel: Tide Walker) is a superb morality fantasy as the villain’s amoral actions impact his family, neighbors and the kingdom. The entertaining metafiction storyline will remind readers of Michael Ende’s Neverending Story; as Georgie learns that if he does not change his attitude and behavior towards others like his brother, he will be the next Alex. Fans will enjoy journeying with Georgie to The World Between.

Harriet Klausner

Shadow Show: All-New Stories in Celebration of Ray Bradbury-Edited by Sam Weller and Mort Castle

Shadow Show: All-New Stories in Celebration of Ray Bradbury

Edited by Sam Weller and Mort Castle

Morrow, Jul 10 2012, $15.99

ISBN 9780062122681

Paying homage to the late Ray Bradbury, twenty-six authors provide strong short entries honoring the recently deceased superstar whose career spanned decades and many of his works turned into many movies. Mr. Bradbury added a short thank you to his contributing “children” while acknowledging his “true papa” was originally Poe and then Wells and Verne. Neil Gaiman sets the tone with his whimsical “The Man Who Forgot Ray Bradbury” as the narrator knows all the stories but not the name of the author. With a nod to the short story “The Swan”, he met her too late as she is “The Girl In The Funeral Parlor” (by Sam Weller). “Something Wicked This Way Comes” to BFFs in “Conjure” by Alice Hoffman. The compilation pays homage to Mr. Bradbury; for instance, Dave Eggers’ “Who Kicks” to “A Sound of Thunder”; Bonnie Jo Campbell’s “The Tattoo” to “The Illustrated Man”; and Bayo Ojikutu’s “Reservation to my personal favorite Bradbury “Fahrenheit 451”. This is a fitting tribute to one of the great writers.

Harriet Klausner

War Maid’s Choice-David Weber

War Maid’s Choice

David Weber

Baen, Jul 3 2012, $26.00

ISBN 9781451638356

Hradani horse stealer Prince Bahzell Bahnakson met Sothoii leader Baron Tellian Bowmaster on the battlefield when the latter outnumbered him by 30 to 1. He persuaded his foe to surrender or die; Tellian chose discretion as he knew his opponent was the War God's Own. They became friends but the Sothoii are upset with what they perceive as cowardice. To add insult the gigantic Bahzell takes a Sothoii steed Walsharno and becomes the first Hradani to be recognized as a wind rider (see the Wind Rider’s Oath).

Bahzell and Tellian push a public works project to build a canal that connects the Sothoii city Derm with the Hradani city Hurgrum. The construction symbolizes to too many on both sides a new era of cooperation. However irate Sothoii deploy assassins targeting Tellian, Bahzell and other leaders of the new alliance made even more insulting by the Baron’s daughter Leanna choosing this Hradani animal; this group choses civil war. Meanwhile the Dark Gods led by Phrobus try for the fourth time to eliminate Bahzell who is the prime barrier from their taking over Norfressa, but this time they deploy powerful minion but miss the key opponent as they target Bahzell and Tellian; no one would suspect an aristocratic war maid and a one-eyed mare to stand in their way.

The latest Bahzell epic fantasy (see Wind Rider’s Oath, Oath of Swords and The War God's Own) is an engaging tale as David Weber enhances his world though it behooves newcomers to read the backlist entries to understand the social dynamics. Loaded with action and filled with fun but obvious twists as well as a once taboo romance (fuel for the purists), fans will enjoy the War Maid’s Choice.

Harriet Klausner

Fever Moon: The Fear Dorcha -Karen Marie Moning, David Lawrence, Al Rio (illustrator) and Cliff Richards (illustrator)

Fever Moon: The Fear Dorcha

Karen Marie Moning, David Lawrence, Al Rio (illustrator) and Cliff Richards (illustrator)

Del Rey, Jul 10 2012, $25.00

ISBN: 9780345525482

The Lord Master pulled down the Walls enabling the demonic Unseelie Fae to escape their 500,000 years of incarceration in a wasteland. They swamped Dublin leaving many humans dead and much of the city eradicated; the world has not fared any better. However, these malevolent Unseelie and their Quisling supporters made one major mistake in Ireland when they raped but failed to kill Mackayla “Mac” Lane, as she has become the most potent adversary the evil Fae face.

However though she has matured due to constant combat and has met twisted allies like Jericho Barrons and V’Lane, Mac has not encountered the deadliest Unseelie; a Fae that the Fae fear as the Fear Dorcha who has brutally hunted anyone in his path on several worlds including the genocide of humans, sometimes out in the open. He has come to Dublin to collect body parts from fifteen victims that will become him as he mutilates those in Mac’s circle with her being his final target. Mac, with her Spear of Destiny and Barrons, expects her existential existence will expire once this monster comes for her, but she plans to stand her ground against this invincible fighting machine.

This is a terrific graphic comic that apparently occurs just before Shadowfever. The adaptation by David Lawrence engages fans from the moment the vilest villain in the series to date arrives (hat in hand) in Temple Bar to collect body parts and never slows down as he closes in on Mac. The colorful illustrations by the late Al Rio and Cliff Richards enhance the “Fecking-A" superb storyline.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, June 29, 2012

Deception-Kris Kennedy


Kris Kennedy

Pocket, Jul 31 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9781439195918

In 1294 in Last Fells, England, Sophia plans to steal her odious late father Judge Roger Darnly’s ledger on the wealthiest merchants; a tome that would destroy many people. Kier recognizes her by just seeing her neck as they were once lovers until he abruptly left her after being outlawed.

He is on a vengeance quest so has no time to deal with an obstinate Sophia. However, he quickly realizes she has not changed at all when she persuades him to team up with her on both of their missions. She comes up with a scheme to gain access to information; Sophia will masquerade as a shipping magnate with Kier as her trusted employee. However, neither anticipated that their love remains strong or that an unknown powerful adversary wants Darnly’s damning ledger to become the most powerful person in England.

Deception is a super medieval romantic suspense starring two lead characters who find their second chance at love more dangerous than their first time. With a fully developed cast, Kris Kennedy provides a fabulous historical as Sophia and Kier follow clues to try to identify the villain who will kill for the ledger.

Harriet Klausner

All Seeing Eye-Rob Thurman

All Seeing Eye

Rob Thurman

Pocket, Jul 31 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9781451652222

Ironically Jackson Lee muses that as a psychic he never saw it coming when he was fourteen years old and he touched the dusty pink shoe in his family’s yard. The shoe belonged to his five years old sister Tess who told told him she was murdered. Due to him his family is massacred as well leaving a traumatic Jack left in the Cane Lake County Home for Boys, definitely not for the good. There he meets bookworm Charlie Allgood.

Years later, Jack becomes a carny psychic until he takes out his own shingle as the All Seeing Eye for hire. He keeps people at a distance except for his assistant and adopted sister Abby, and Houdini the dog. Fed Hector Allgood tells Jackson that Charlie, who died ten months ago, told him about his friend’s skills. The SOB blackmails the psychic into working for him on solving Charlie’s murder and on an experiment that turned violent. Charlie sense déjà vu as he expects his life will radically change just like when he touched Tess’ shoe.

This is an exhilarating twisting paranormal thriller starring a troubled soul who struggles with his psychic skill, his knowledge of his sister’s death and his belief he caused the follow-up massacre. Fast-paced, readers will relish All Seeing Eye as the traumatized protagonist knows you can go home because the truth will never set you free from truly leaving home.

Harriet Klausner

Ripper-David L. Golemon


David L. Golemon

Dunne, Jul 17 2012, $25.95

ISBN: 9780312580803

In 1887 the British Empire hire American scientist Lawrence Ambrose to create a means to change a civilized person into a berserker war machine. In 1888, Jack the Ripper murders his last victim. At the same time, Robert Louis Stevenson visits Scotland Yard with information on the Ripper’s identity that he connects to his Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde model, American chemist Lawrence Ambrose. Queen Victoria ended the project and ordered the secret execution of Ambrose who escaped with his notes.

In present-day Mexico, American government top secret Event Group geologist Sarah McIntire leads a team investigating caves where Pancho Villa allegedly stored his weapons. Anaconda the drug lord sends his vicious army to attack the geologist. They abduct Sarah. The Event Group sends a rescue team led by Colonel Jack Collins that uses information from General John “Black Jack” Pershing’s 1916 Mexican raid. However they are unaware that Anaconda has Ambrose’s notes and plans to use them.

The latest suspenseful Event Group thriller (see Legacy) is an exciting action-packed tale that deftly links Ripper to the contemporary war on drugs. Though the villain and hero are stereotyped, fans will enjoy this engaging entry filled with action and a thrill seemingly around every corridor and cave.

Harriet Klausner

The Care and Feeding of Stray Vampires-Molly Harper

The Care and Feeding of Stray Vampires

Molly Harper

Pocket, Jul 31 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9781451641837

In Half-Moon Hollow, Iris Scanlon runs Beeline a vampire day-time concierge business. Her clients ask her to take care of just about anything, which she does for a nice fee. Because of her variety of gopher tasks, Iris is an expert on vampirism, something she considers TMI especially for a church goer (at least on the Big days) like her.

She brings welcoming flowers and the contract to her newest client Mr. C Calix. Only he lies on the floor looking pale. He drank poisoned donated O blood. She refuses to give him her blood but provides him two tampered proof sealed bottles. Cal pleads with the daywalker to find him a hiding place while he works on who wants him dead-dead; Iris does for a fee. To her chagrin she is attracted to her acrimonious customer as Iris refuse to break her no fraternization rule.

Though the locale is the same as the Jane Jameson urban fantasy saga (see Nice Girls Don't Bite their Neighbors), The Care and Feeding of Stray Vampires is a new offshoot series. This amusing romantic frolic stars a business minded human and an irritable vampire; who prove that only love can resolve the paradox of an irresistible force meeting an unmovable object.

Harriet Klausner

21st Century Dead: A Zombie Anthology-Christopher Golden

21st Century Dead: A Zombie Anthology

Christopher Golden

St. Martin's Griffin, Jul 17 2012, $15.99

ISBN: 9780312605841

This nineteen story anthology follows up on The New Dead with a solid collection based on the premise that death and resurrection is an everyday Z day occurrence. All the entries are well written with no clinkers, but only a few provide freshness (only so many ways you can walk the dead). The best tale is “How We Escaped Our Certain Fate” as Dan Chaon explores the zombie grief cycle starting with the perquisite of love. Exciting “Parasite” occurs in the Robopocalypse world of Daniel H. Wilson. Home, hearth and zombies are a major theme of several contributions like Chelsea Cain’s “Why Mothers Let Their Children Watch Television”, “All the Comforts of Home: A Beacon Story” by John Skipp and Cody Goodfellow, “Couch Potato” by Brian Keene and Mark Morris’s “Biters.” 21st Century Dead is an entertaining Zombie Anthology.

Harriet Klausner

The Unraveling of Wentwater-C.S. Lakin

The Unraveling of Wentwater

C.S. Lakin

Living Ink Books, Jul 16 2012, $14.99

ISBN: 9780899578927

In Wentwater, village matriarch Arlynna begins the naming ceremony of the baby just born to Iris when Ursell the banished marsh witch arrives. Ursell proclaims that the unnamed infant will unravel Wentwater one thread at a time until by the time she is eighteen the village will be no more. Before leaving Ursell tells them to exile the mother and put the babe to death. The superstitious frightened villagers make the parents leave and with the babe inside set the cottage on fire.

All who were witness remain haunted by the incident. Now seventeen years later, Teralyn from the science-based Heights arrives at Wentwater with her lap harp to play at a festival. She meets Iris’ two sons Justyn who left for the Heights and Fromer who stayed in the village. She and Fromer fall in love, but an angry jealous Justyn make a deal with Ursell that leads to The Unraveling of Wentwater vanishing one word at a time; only Teralyn is capable of stitching it back one word at a time over seven years, but that final word is jarred from her reach.

The fourth Gates of Heaven fantasy (see The Land of Darkness and Map Across Time) is a terrific allegorical drama based on the premise that one needs to "Be careful with your words - they have consequences!" With a reverse Sleeping Beauty theme and biblical references on wisdom, passion and faith, fans will appreciate this timely tale of two siblings and the harpist, as sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can harm you too.

Harriet Klausner

An Officer’s Duty-Jean Johnson

An Officer’s Duty

Jean Johnson

Ace, Jul 31 2012. $7.99

ISBN: 9781937007690

Powerful Space Force Navy psychic Ia can slip in and out of the time streams and see centuries into the future. Knowing that three hundred years from now, a near invincible enemy enters the galaxy destroying everything in their hunt for energy, Ia finds only one time line in which the destruction of the Milky Way does not occur. Thus she enlisted in the military when she turned eighteen as the first step towards insuring the one positive outcome happens (see A Soldier’s Duty).

Ia returns to her home heavyworld Sanctuary in order to insure the safety of her family and makes sure her brother wins the lottery at a time when religious disputes begin to turn hostile. The money will be used to for Sanctuary to survive one of the wars in which her home world plays a pivotal role. Ia plays a role in a series of armed conflicts with her goal to save billions of lives if every step in the time stream happens. Ia is a part of the Blockade Patrol keeping the amphibian race the Saliks blocked up in their sector. However, she knows they plan to break through the blockade; she must prevent this from happening because if they succeed her efforts to follow that one time stream ends in the earliest stage.

Known for her romantic fantasies (see the Sons of Destiny), Jean Johnson continues to display the width of her talent with her second exciting Theirs Not to Reason Why military science fiction thriller. Fans of Honor Harrington will appreciate heroic Ia who gives up the life she wants and the man she loves to prevent a futuristic galactic wide catastrophe, which, if unimpeded, would occur after she is dead. Fast-paced with terrific battle scenes and deep characterizations, Ia brings a sense of urgency to this deep tale.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Getting Over Mr. Right-Chrissie Manby

Getting Over Mr. Right

Chrissie Manby

Bantam, Jul 10 2012, $15.00

ISBN: 9780345529022

After years of failing at the dating game while her friends paired off with their respective Mr. Right with a tsunami of weddings, a financially and emotionally broke perpetual guest Ashleigh decides no more men. However, kismet strikes almost as soon as the thirty-something muttered no males when she meets Michael with his odd attire at a party.

They hit it off and months later, Ashleigh thinks of their future with children. Everything changes when her hunk obtains a promotion. Instead of Ashleigh and offspring, Michael upgrades into a player. She learns he dumped her when he changes his relationship status on Facebook and defriends her. While in denial as she refuses to accept he ended it, Ashleigh stalks Michael giving him flowers, messages on-line and casting paranormal spells. Her friend Becky and her brother Lucas warn Ashleigh to move on as the rat has a new girlfriend Miss Well-Sprung.

Getting Over Mr. Right is a witty look at the end of a relationship in the social networking era as Ashleigh goes through the five stages of grief customized with voodoo spell-casting. Readers will appreciate Chrissie Manby’s profound storyline as moving on by Getting Over Mr. Right seems wrong to Ashleigh.

Harriet Klausner

Pride and Pyramids-Amanda Grange and Jacqueline Webb

Pride and Pyramids

Amanda Grange and Jacqueline Webb

Sourcebooks, Jul 1 2012, $14.99

ISBN: 9781402265341

In their thirties, Elizabeth and Darcy have been happily married for fifteen years. They are raising six children ranging from fourteen years old bookworm Beth to six years old Margaret (William, John, Laurence and Jane in between). Darcy's cousin Edward Fitzwilliam unexpectedly visits saying he needs a place to stay for a week before he leaves for Egypt. The kids adore their favorite cousin while Meg ends up with a wooden doll of Aahotep that Edward possessed. All of the children state they would love to join him on his travels under the tutelage of British Museum Egyptologist Sir Matthew Rosen.

By the end of the week, Elizabeth and Darcy decide to join enthusiastic Edward accompanied by their brood when he heads to Egypt. Also coming with them are jilted Sophie Lucus to watch the children and artist Paul Inkworthy to draw their memories.

Putting aside how easily and quickly Darcy puts together their adventure, the sequel to Dear Mr. Darcy is a fun Egyptian Regency. There is some suspense and hints of the paranormal, but for the most part the storyline is a lighthearted extended family drama as each offspring has their own unique personality and a triangle between Sophie, Edward and Paul. Fans will enjoy this entertaining historical as Amanda Grange and Jacqueline Webb takes Jane Austen to the pyramids.

Harriet Klausner

A Summer of Seduction-Candace Camp

A Summer of Seduction

Candace Camp

Pocket, Jun 19 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9781451639513

Aristocratic friends Alec Stafford and Gabriel Morecombe got into a brawl over the late Jocelyn who had been the former’s fiancée and the latter’s sister. Jocelyn left behind baby Ruth with Thea Bainbridge before she died. The father is not Alec but another friend (see A Winter Scandal). Married, Gabriel and Thea raise his nephew in a happy home.

Alec and Thea’s friend Widow Damaris Howard met during his estrangement with Gabe; but she remains an enigma to her neighbors in Chesley including her best friend. Damaris and Alec meet in London starting at the theater and their already strong attraction explodes. However, her past makes her know she must stay away from him and passion; while he still reels from his late fiancée’s infidelity with a close friend. Everything changes in an instant when an unknown predator abducts Damaris.

The second Legend of St. Dwynwen Regency romance is an enjoyable second chance at love tale. The storyline starts slow with a feeling out round as the lead couple wants to engage but their respective relationship histories make each fearful and too pensive over I’m Not In Love (10Cc). The plot accelerates somewhat late with the kidnapping. Fans will enjoy Alec and Damaris as neither wants love, but the heart fails to heed the brain.

Harriet Klausner

The Next President-Robert Livingstone

The Next President

Robert Livingstone

Moore House, May 22 2012, $8.99

145 Fifth St, Toronto, Ontario, M8V 2Z5

ISBN: 9780615645988

International TV Systems News Division anchor Catherine Cortez is bored as she misses her field days. However, she is bringing in high ratings so her boss Hanson keeps her from doing any investigating. Catherine finally persuades her boss that she will quickly lose credibility with the public and ratings. He finally allows her to cover Presidential front runner Senator Francis Ellsworth, who is favored to defeat incumbent President Walter Graham in the upcoming election, as he visits post-Castro Cuba where President Eduardo Rodriguez leads a fledgling democracy.

In Cuba, Catherine and her camera man cover the local cops attacking anti Rodriguez protesters. Cuban Security Chef Fernandez talks away their footage. During her interview of Rodriguez, her camera crew film violent incidents in the Havana streets. Soon Catherine and her team find evidence that the Cuban democracy modeled after the American is a sham for a dictatorial fascist rule that has ties to Ellsworth.

This strong timely thriller affirms Benjamin Franklin’s warning that “Those who desire to give up freedom in order to gain security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one.” Fast-paced from the moment the intrepid reporter and her cameraman arrive in Post-Castro Cuba, fans will relish this exciting cautionary with a great final twist that laments the media-industrial-government complex as freedom of the press means unbiased reporting regardless of economic and ideological beliefs if democracy is too thrive.

Harriet Klausner

Some Like It Hawk-Donna Andrews

Some Like It Hawk

Donna Andrews

Minotaur, Jul 17 2012, $24.99

ISBN: 9781250007506

Former Mayor George Pruitt embezzled funds leaving Caerphilly, Virginia on the brink of bankruptcy. The town became infamous when the word spread that public facilities were mortgaged by Pruitt who took the money. The First Progressive Financial LLC, aka as the Evil Lender, closed the public facilities due to the lack of payment. Only town clerk Phineas Throckmorton remains in the way as for the past year he has barricaded himself in the courthouse basement though he uses a secret pre-Civil War tunnel leading from his abode to a crawl space beneath the bandstand to obtain supplies.

To help Phineas reload without the financiers hearing the old rusty door creak and to take advantage of their recent publicity of losing even the jail, the townsfolk host the Caerphilly Days festival for the summer tourists. However, FPF Vice president Colleen Brown is found murdered in the basement with Phineas as the only suspect though he has a perfect alibi that if revealed will be the curtain call for beleaguered Caerphilly unless the blacksmith and mom of infant twins Meg Langslow and others an find the real killer.

The latest Meg Langslow Mysteries (see The Real Macaw) is a great tale that satirizes the financial industry as a bunch of predatory hawks who will do anything for another golf course. Filled with eccentric characters, fans will relish this jocular whodunit as the bottom line is eighteen holes supersede a courthouse.

Harriet Klausner

The Coldest War- Ian Tregillis

The Coldest War

Ian Tregillis

Tor, Jul 17 2012, $25.99

ISBN 9780765321510

The Soviet Union is winning the Cold War against Great Britain. By 1963, only the warlocks keep the Soviets from annexing the British Isles; however it is just a matter of time before the superpower crosses the Channel as each time a British wizard dies, the power balance shifts in favor of the Soviets.

Meanwhile, twins Gretel and Klaus were once Nazi experiments who became Soviet research specimens. Now with Gretel using her precognitive skills, to guide them while Klaus uses his super strength to break impenetrable barriers, they escape. Their destination is British secret agent Raybould Marsh as she has visions of him. Marsh and mage Will Beauclerk are caught in Milkwood while the Eidolons threaten both sides in the Coldest War.

Though this ends up as a middle book with no conclusion, readers will appreciate this strong alternate historical fantasy. Ian Tregillis cleverly captures the Cold War paranoia and anything goes attitude including collateral damage (that Neocons apparently still cling too like a comforting blanket) with Marsh beginning to question whether the end ever justifies the means. Gretel makes the storyline work as her twisting plot deploys. Readers will enjoy the second Milkweed Triptych (see Bitter Seeds) as the world spins on its axis or does it.

Harriet Klausner

Goddess in the Middle-Stephanie Julian

Goddess in the Middle

Stephanie Julian

Sourcebooks, Jul 1 2012, $14.99

ISBN 9781402251535

Many, many centuries ago, Amity Monroe was Munthukh the Etruscan Goddess of Health. Now she lives in Pennsylvania working as a medical aesthetician in Reading Hospital. Amity learned a long time ago to avoid loving relationships as that always leads to hurt so she focuses on her job where she also uses her diminished deity powers to reduce a patent’s pain in order to enhance healing; but that always leaves her weakened at a time a when Charun the underworld god hunts the goddess population; sex refurbishes her strength.

She and her best friend trauma nurse Jill Doyle are at Kelly’s Corner where two Etruscan men want her. Werewolf-witch cousins Rom and Remy Caneglosi knows the demon who killed their family wants Amity. They are stunned when she comes over to them offering to buy them a drink and much more. As they team up to kill a demon, their attraction grows.

The third Forgotten Goddesses erotic romantic urban fantasy (see What A Goddess Wants and How to Worship a Goddess) is an exciting paranormal that works due to the vile villain. The sex scenes are well written and hot, but also unrealistic as danger stalks her. The three fascinating protagonists carry baggage as she knows love hurts and struggles with how far she has fallen while the cousins blame themselves for what happened to their family. Readers will enjoy this heated Etruscan triangle.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Madame Serpent: A Catherine de' Medici Novel-Jean Plaidy

Madame Serpent: A Catherine de' Medici Novel

Jean Plaidy

Touchstone, Jul 3 2012, $16.00

ISBN: 9781451686203

In Florence, her father Pope Clement VII arranges for his fourteen years old daughter Caterina de’ Medici to marry the second son of the King of France Prince Henry of Orléans; as she leaves behind her beloved Ippolito. However, when she meets her fiancé, Caterina quickly realizes Henry has no interest in her as he loves his mistress Diane de Poitiers.

Prince Henry ignores his wife for his mistress even after they have children. When his older brother the Dauphin and then his father die, Henry becomes the king. Diane’s influence is even stronger as visiting dignitaries pay her homage by kissing her hand rather than the Italian wife. However, bitter Caterina accepts the affronts as she stoically plans to insure her offspring one day will sits on the throne while also patiently waiting for the right moment to remind the manipulative Diane just who the queen of France is.

This reprint of the first Jean Plaidy Catherine de Medici tale (released in 1951) is an engaging historical that brings to life the French court during the middle of the sixteenth century. The key triangle is fully developed as fans will understand what motivates the lead to act as each does. However, the action feels tame compared to contemporary written historical biographic fiction. Still readers will know why the late Ms. Plaidy is highly revered by the sub-genre as the author enables her audience to get deep into the heads of the three protagonists especially the maligned queen.

Harriet Klausner

The Girl in the Blue Beret-Bobbie Ann Mason

The Girl in the Blue Beret

Bobbie Ann Mason

Random House, Jul 10 2012, $15.00

ISBN: 9780812978872

In 1944 over France, the Germans hit an allied B-17 bomber heading to Frankfort. Co-pilot Marshall Stone lands the crippled plane in Belgium saving much of the Dirty Lily crew. The resistance enables him and others to get back to England safely.

In 1978 his wife Loretta suddenly died and soon afterward he is forced into retirement as being too old to fly planes. Two years since his Loretta passed, feeling alone, sexagenarian Marshall compulsively decides to fly to France and Belgium to thank those who saved his life as he scurried from one house to another like a rat. He hopes the Vallons who kept him safe in Paris, Robert the planner of his great escape from France through Spain, and Annette the teenage school Girl in the Blue Beret who lived in one of the safe houses still live as he prays he can find them.

Rotating between the war and 1980, this is a moving historical as the memories and the realties do not often gel. Like Marshall, readers will want to know what happened to those who risked their lives for the pilot. Although a 1980 subplot involving Marshall and Annette feels unnecessary; fans will enjoy trekking from Paris across the Pyrenees as he retraces his trail.

Harriet Klausner

Bond Girl-Erin Duffy

Bond Girl

Erin Duffy

Morrow, Jul 17 2012, $14.99

ISBN: 9780062065902

In 2006 hoping to prove a chip off the financial block of her dad, Alex Garrett feels euphoric when the Street’s brokerage firm Cromwell Pierce hires her after she graduates from college. However, the fulfillment of her dreams starts off nightmarish when she arrives at her job on the trading floor to finds she has no desk or office chair; instead she has a folding chair and a boss Ed "Chick" Ciccone who calls her "Girlie" as her tasks are obtaining coffee and lunch while learning.

When she arrives late, Chick punishes her by sending her to the Bronx to buy heroes and a fifty pound parmesan wheel; she is left with the hefty bill. However, she survives her first year and is pleased with receiving an $110,000 bonus. Alex and colleague Will Patrick begin a clandestine tryst though he vanishes every weekend. Hedge-fund manager Rick Kieriakis stalks her, but Alex knows she cannot win in a confrontation with this powerful psychopath. In 2008 the market collapses leaving Alex a chance to regain her soul or continue with the devil’s money

This is an engaging chick lit look at macho Wall Street right before and during the financial collapse. The vivid descriptions of the Street’s office politics is nauseating with an only the strong survive the devouring of the rookies but seems genuine; while the insight into the finance world reads more like a quantum physics primer. Still fans will enjoy the Bond Girl escorting readers around the Street.

Harriet Klausner

Blazing Bedtime Stories, Volume VIII-Kimberly Raye and Julie Leto

Blazing Bedtime Stories, Volume VIII

Kimberly Raye and Julie Leto

Harlequin Blaze, Jul 24 2012, $5.25

ISBN: 9780373797042

“The Cowboy Who Never Grew Up” by Kimberly Raye. Western America leatherworks firm executive Wendy Darlington thinks wild child eight-time Professional Bull Rider champion Pete Gunner is perfect as a spokesperson for their Outlaw Outfitters line. Pete agrees to sign on condition they spend the night together.

“Hooked” by Julie Leto. Since they were sweethearts in high school, former rodeo star James Hooker and Allie Barrie have broken up more times than Mark Twain gave up smoking. However, this time Allie is determined to take their relationship beyond just the greatest sex either has known, but to do so they need to overcome their history.

These two heated Texas rodeo romances are fun short stories starring fully developed protagonists.

Harriet Klausner

Guilty Pleasures-Tori Carrington

Guilty Pleasures

Tori Carrington

Harlequin Blaze, Jul 24 2012, $5.25

ISBN: 9780373797073

Veteran Jonathon Reece knows that in spite of his Army Ranger experience, as the rookie at Lazarus Security, he starts over again proving he belongs. His boss Darius Folsom assigns Reece his first solo task in his hometown of Winslow, Arizona; where he is to bring in bail jumper Mara Findlay, murder suspect.

He assumes he will have no problem catching the bobcat. Jonathan’s assumptions prove partially correct as he quickly catches up to Findlay; so have Feds and a militia who agree that this hot female must die. Mara realizes that her only prayer to get out of the frame-up rests with the hunk who seems to have only two things on his brain: sex and incarceration with the latter might be fun in combo with the former, but that is not his intent; thus she must work his lower head.

This is an exciting heated romantic suspense as Reece learns that “the best-laid schemes of mice and men often go awry” (John Steinbeck) especially when dealing with a hot chick. Fast-paced and filled with action though over the top of Humphreys Peak, fans will appreciate this entertaining thriller as the bounty hunts the hunter right where he is vulnerable.

Harriet Klausner

Heron’s Cove-Carla Neggers

Heron’s Cove

Carla Neggers

Mira, Jul 31 2012, $24.95

ISBN: 9780778313755

FBI undercover agent Colin Donavan and special agent Emma Sharpe met at the Sisters of the Joyful Heart in Maine when respective religious mentors asked each for help (see Saint’s Gate). Attracted to each other, the two feds are seeing one another.

Currently the pair is in his hometown of Heron’s Cove, Maine when jewelry designer Tatiana Pavlova arrives in town from London to ask Emma for help. Tatiana explains that someone plans to steal a prized collection recently found. She proves right that trouble is coming to Heron’s Cove in which the unknown adversary has no qualms with collateral damage occurring to the families and friends of the two FBI agents.

The second Donavan and Sharpe fast-paced romantic suspense returns the two intriguing Feds who find love a distraction as they work the Russian case; as once again the fine arts prove deadly. With a clever villain hidden in plain sight, the romance playing second fiddle to the whodunit, and the return of cast like Father Finian Bracken, reader will enjoy this exciting Maine mystery mindful of early Savich and Sherlock (by Catherine Coulter).

Harriet Klausner

Romeo Spikes-Joanne Reay

Romeo Spikes

Joanne Reay

Gallery, Aug 14 2012, $25.00

ISBN: 9781451674446

Once a leading neurophysicist, who researched molecular telomeres that control longevity, Dr. Agnus Day lost his mind when his daughter died. He vanished only to reappear in a coma at a horrible murder scene. Now he resides at Morphic Fields Penitentiary where he suffers from Geschwind syndrome, which leaves him out of control of his mind and body as he obsessively is compelled to write down the “violent, inhuman visions” that haunt him. He is unaware what he sees ties back to the Tormenta demons whose sustenance is devouring the predetermined life not used when a mortal commits suicide, which these beasts “encourage” in their human form.

Homicide Detective Alexis Bianco soon learns about the Tormenta and their adversarial human protectors the Chiro Scuro when she meets Lola who effortlessly places her in a chokehold to get her attention. At the same time these demons are extremely active in anticipation of the arrival of the dark messiah Mosca; while knowing that the arrival of their champion means the Sinistra angels’ Moera will follow. All will converge on Morphic Fields Penitentiary where a mad researcher sits on death row while his avaricious shrink sees fame and fortune.

This is an extremely complex opening act of the powerful paranormal thriller that grips readers from start to finish. In some ways the various organizations competing for top gun can prove confusing as there seems to be a Cecil B. De Mille size cast. Though a glossary or “family tree” would have helped, fans will appreciate this superb supernatural that brilliantly brings angels and demons into the contemporary world in which the good go insane, the bad are mortal protectors and the ugly are demons and often angels.

Harriet Klausner

Romeo Spikes-Joanne Reay

Romeo Spikes

Joanne Reay

Gallery, Aug 14 2012, $25.00

ISBN: 9781451674446

Once a leading neurophysicist, who researched molecular telomeres that control longevity, Dr. Agnus Day lost his mind when his daughter died. He vanished only to reappear in a coma at a horrible murder scene. Now he resides at Morphic Fields Penitentiary where he suffers from Geschwind syndrome, which leaves him out of control of his mind and body as he obsessively is compelled to write down the “violent, inhuman visions” that haunt him. He is unaware what he sees ties back to the Tormenta demons whose sustenance is devouring the predetermined life not used when a mortal commits suicide, which these beasts “encourage” in their human form.

Homicide Detective Alexis Bianco soon learns about the Tormenta and their adversarial human protectors the Chiro Scuro when she meets Lola who effortlessly places her in a chokehold to get her attention. At the same time these demons are extremely active in anticipation of the arrival of the dark messiah Mosca; while knowing that the arrival of their champion means the Sinistra angels’ Moera will follow. All will converge on Morphic Fields Penitentiary where a mad researcher sits on death row while his avaricious shrink sees fame and fortune.

This is an extremely complex opening act of the powerful paranormal thriller that grips readers from start to finish. In some ways the various organizations competing for top gun can prove confusing as there seems to be a Cecil B. De Mille size cast. Though a glossary or “family tree” would have helped, fans will appreciate this superb supernatural that brilliantly brings angels and demons into the contemporary world in which the good go insane, the bad are mortal protectors and the ugly are demons and often angels.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Sasha Plotkin’s Deceit-Vaughn Sherman

Sasha Plotkin’s Deceit

Vaughn Sherman

Camel Press, Aug 1 2012, $16.95

ISBN: 9781603818117

In 1972 after spending two years as a geographical bachelor in Viet Nam while his wife and kids resided in the Seattle area, CIA officer Chris Holbeck is now home with his family. However, he receives a call to come to headquarters. His disappointed wife Lisa warns him that if he works this case, she will leave him. Chris flies to DC where he learns KGB operative Sasha Plotkin has surfaced and wants to defect but only to Chris. The Agency wants Plotkin hoping he identifies the high echelon mole who sold secrets that led to the death of undercover operative Han Weiner.

In 1968 Stockholm, American Embassy’s First Secretary Bill Broom invites Chris and Lisa to a gala because they fluently speak Swedish. At the party, he meets Swedish Foreign Office’s Chief of Protocol Peter Palmstjerna; a few weeks later Peter invites them to a bash he hosts. There they meet Sasha Plotkin; both spies immediately recognize the other as comrades in arms albeit opposite sides. They become friends. The Russian asks his American counterpart to help him defect. Chris arranges the escape, but on D-Day Sasha fails to arrive and soon afterward the American realizes the extent of the Russian’s deceit. Now three years later Sasha wants his friend to help him defect.

This exciting Cold War espionage thriller is a character driven tale that brings to life the Nixon Era through the cast as even the parties display tension while the backdrop of Stockholm during the Swedish anti-Vietnam War protests enhances that sense of moving back to a dangerous time. The storyline is fast-paced as the audience will obsess over what Sasha Plotkin’s Deceit is as Vaughn Sherman provides a strong period piece.

Harriet Klausner

Cat In A White Tie And Tails-Carole Nelson Douglas

Cat In A White Tie And Tails

Carole Nelson Douglas

Forge, Aug 7 2012, $24.95

ISBN: 9780765327475

Las Vegas public relations expert Temple Barr accompanying by Midnight Louie travels to Chicago to meet the family of her fiancé radio star Matt Devine. While she goes to the Windy City, her former fiancé counterterrorist magician Max Kinsella recovers his memory he lost when he suffered injuries while looking for the evil Synth magicians’ organization. Police Lieutenant Carmen Molina drafts Max to help her investigate cold case murders in which he is her only suspect; Midnight Louise diligently guards the recovering amnesiac.

Meanwhile Kitty “the Cutter” O’Connor is back in the States after a stint in Ireland where Max was MIA; her return means trouble with a humongous T for anyone unfortunately in her deadly radar . In Chicago, Temple deals with her future mother-in-law’s plans for the wedding but the latter’s past surfaces with the cat-napping of Louie.

The latest Midnight Louie Anthropomorphic Mystery (see Cat In A Vegas Gold Vendetta) is a wild affair filled with terrific tense thrilling twists and soap operatic family drama. Series fans will enjoy the father and daughter feline duet working the tail of two cities.

Harriet Klausner

Peril in Paperback-Kate Carlisle

Peril in Paperback

Kate Carlisle

Obsidian, Aug 7 2012, $7.99

ISBN 9780451237620

Book-restoration expert Brooklyn Wainwright and her friends, Suzie Stein and Vinnie Patel drive from San Francisco to Lake Tahoe to spend a week at a luxurious mansion. It is owned by Suzie’s computer and engineering genius Aunt Grace. She is celebrating her 50th birthday. Eccentric Grace has converted her house into an odd home with hidden panels, holograms and many other stunners. Because Brooklyn rebounded some of bibliophile Grace’s favorite books last year, she places her guest in the Library Suite where she finds incredible first copies of classics; though some were mishandled by morons.

At dinner, Grace tells her guests she plans to read extracts from her unpublished autobiographical novel in which everyone in attendance is in included though she changed their names to protect the guilty. When Grace’s employee Bella Santangelo dies after drinking passion fruit iced tea, Brooklyn obsessively investigates as she believes her hostess was the intended victim.

The latest Bibliophile cozy (see One Book In The Grave and Murder Under Cover) is an entertaining amateur sleuth in which the zany mansion steals the show from the cast. Readers will enjoy the guests exploring the madcap mansion at a leisurely pace as the murder occurs a bit later than usual for a Brooklyn whodunit. The fun but strange climax has everyone confessing to something as fans will enjoy the witty Peril In Paperback.

Harriet Klausner

Freak-Jennifer Hillier


Jennifer Hillier

Simon & Schuster/Gallery, Aug 7 2012, $24.99

ISBN 9781451664546

Seattle PD homicide detective Mike Torrance shows his retired partner turned private investigator Jerry Isaac the corpse of Brenda Stich whose throat was cut in a room at the Sweet Chariot Inn. Mike asked Jerry to come to the inn so he can see the message carved into Brenda’s skin by a knife: “FREE ABBY MADDOX”. Jerry has a scar across his throat and his voice is destroyed due to Abby’s attack last year while he worked a case involving Maddox’s boyfriend serial killer Ethan Wolfe (see Creep).

Still suffering from PTSD, Jerry feels ill that some lunatic would kill an innocent to make a case to free a maniac like Abby; though many people feel she committed no crime except her choice in boyfriends. Jerry knows psychologically he needs to stay away from this homicide, but obsessively cannot.

Jerry has not recovered his swagger from his traumatic meeting with Abby (in Creep) though his wife Anne and others are there for him, but feels he must act on the latest murders. Abby is a fascinating person who is a sub in her loving relationships and psychopath protecting her beloveds. Whereas his personality negatively has been changed by their encounter; hers has been strengthened. Although serial killer thrillers inundate the market, sub-genre fans will want to know who the twisted Freak is behind “Free Abby Maddox”.

Harriet Klausner

Rebooting in Beverly Hills-Marcy Miller

Rebooting in Beverly Hills

Marcy Miller

Bancroft Press, Jun 12 2012, $22.95

ISBN: 9781610880466

Rebooting in Beverly Hills is a combination memoir with tips for middle aged single women deciding whether to dive back into the dating pool after a long absence. Though the target audience in many ways is divorcees like Marcy Miller, the short, amusing and witty anecdotes can be used by any mature woman (and some discerning men). . The author suggests diverse business cards that either provides your real personal information, disinformation or misinformation depending on the how you relate to the recipient. This reminds me of a tip the Army provided to my husband on answering password questions as the truth may set your information free to an identity thief so misinformation is okay (just remember the answer is the City not the Bronx). Further short discussions surface on “Not So Mr. Big who is a good kisser and caring person, but his lover needs a magnifying glass. The engaging guide for the forty and older crowd can be summed up by deciding where to meet dates as the maligned Internet is not what we used the first time around (shows our age). Readers will appreciate Ms. Miller’s marvelous memoir as she focuses on rebooting the mission of finding "The One" (or not) after the previous “The One” proved the not one.

Harriet Klausner

The Sleeping Night-Barbara Samuel

The Sleeping Night

Barbara Samuel

Bell Bridge Books, Jun 21 2012, $14.95

ISBN: 9781611941272

In 1926 in Gideon, Texas, white Parker, who suffered injuries in the war, believes God demands that he act with kindness to the poor colored folks. He and his family become friends with colored Jordan and his family. However, “they” kill Jordan. Parker refuses to turn his back on his friend’s widow and son as his daughter Angel and Jordan’s offspring Isaiah play together while growing up.

During WWII, Isaiah serves in the military in the European theater. He and Angel exchange letters that include recipes and vows of taboo love. He earns the Medal of Honor, an award not given to colored people. Yet his love for Angel places both of them in peril from the townsfolk who refuse to accept him as a war hero. Isaiah and Angel flee to France where they marry. In 2005, they are coming home to Gideon for a different reception than the one that exiled them six decades ago

Most of the action occurs during WWII, but with small bookend segments in 1926 and 2005 and a reference to 1972. Thus readers obtain a strong historical that showcases how far race relationships have come in eight decades; especially since the end of WWII as the Greatest generation vets knew that blood flows red in combat. Character driven by the interracial courageous lead couple, fans will agree we’ve come a long way baby, but have a long way to go.

Harriet Klausner

Ain’t Misbehaving-Molly Cannon

Ain’t Misbehaving

Molly Cannon

Forever, Jun 26 2012, $5.99

ISBN: 9781455515721

In Everson, Texas Marla Jean Bandy still feels humiliated that her now ex-husband Bradley dumped her for another woman; made worse by the fact Libby Comstock is twenty years older than her and frumpier but speaks five languages including Russian. The divorced Marla Jean muses that she encouraged his husband of six years to read more, but in her wildest imagination never expected Bradley to hook up with a fifty-four years old Bookmobile driver who introduced him to Tolstoy.

Tired of the pity of her friends and family, Marla Jean decides to get back into swinging singles lifestyle at Lu Lu’s. Her first attempt with Donny Joe is a bust as she feels uncomfortable. Her brother Linc’s best friend, Abel “Jake” Jacobson, whose aunt owns her ex, intercedes when Donny Joe fails to remove his hands. Jake decides to be her guardian but begins to wonder who will protect her from his traitorous lower head’s fantasies starring her.

Ain’t Misbehaving is a lighthearted zany Texas two-step starring engaging protagonists and an eccentric support cast. Filled with zany humor, fans will enjoy this wild regional contemporary with two romances.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, June 25, 2012

The Absolutist-John Boyne

The Absolutist

John Boyne

Other Press, Jul 10 2012, $16.95

ISBN: 9781590515525

In 1919 twenty-one years old former soldier Tristan Sadler travels to Norwich, England to deliver letters written by his late comrade in arms and lover Will Bancroft, to his friend’s sister Marian. On an errand of mercy, Sadler suffers from battle fatigue as he was one of two survivors from his unit of mostly teenagers who fought on the Western Front.

Principled Will declared himself The Abolitionist. He refused to fight anymore and will do nothing in support of the war machine, as he watched in horror as teens like himself whom he knew die due to the stupid disregard of those in charge back in London and Paris to gain inches of ground from an enemy who fought the same type of trench warfare led from Berlin. Tristan knows the horrible truth how his lover died, but fears telling anyone the truth except Marian who rejects what he tells her.

This is a profound look at war from the perspective of those young expendables at the front lines sent to die by those still living in luxury. The storyline uses the muses of the lead trio and other soldiers to provide a complete picture of all dying on the western front; yet a homosexual love is condemned as perverted. Readers will appreciate this gloomy yet timely condemnation of those always ready to send someone else’s child to die for some allegedly patriotic cause yet those same flag raisers declare homosexuality as evil.

Harriet Klausner

The Red Chamber-Pauline A. Chen

The Red Chamber

Pauline A. Chen

Knopf, Jul 10 2012, $26.95

ISBN: 9780307701572

When Jia Min dies in poverty, her wealthy brother Jia Zheng the Under-Secretary of the Ministry arranges for his orphaned niece Daiyu to come to Beijing to live. She moves into the young unmarried women wing of the extended family’s humongous Rongguo mansion. Almost upon arrival Daiyu realizes her maternal grandma Lady Jia loathes her as the offspring of an unacceptable father and knows with simple looks how removed she has been from her affluent relatives as her wardrobe is not good enough for the lowest servant.

Xue Baochai is plain looking but chosen to wed Jia Baoyu. However, he prefers his cousin the pretty newcomer over his fiancée. Jia Lian’s wife Wang Xifeng has been unable to provide the heir. He and his mom agree he needs a concubine; and selects Xifeng's loyal servant P'inger. When the emperor is poisoned the new ruler incarcerates those who supported the disposed leader to include the Jia males. Now the women have no men to protect them so they must learn to fend for themselves.

Though the extended duo family trees are needed to keep the names straight, this rewriting of the classic eighteenth century Dream of the Red Chamber by Cao Xuequin is an entertaining Chinese historical. The storyline enables readers to obtain a fascinating glimpse into the lives of aristocratic females who when they are child bearing age are a marital political and social commodity. The storyline starts slow as Pauline A. Chen introduces her ensemble cast by rotating the focus. Once done the plot accelerates into a powerful Chinese family drama as fans will want to know how the various triangles will play out especially after the male angles are removed.

Harriet Klausner

Line of Fire-Stephen White

Line of Fire

Stephen White

Dutton, Aug 7 2012, $26.95

ISBN: 9780525952527

Boulder, Colorado psychologist Dr. Alan Gregory finds the recent calm in his life seemingly over. His friend and therapist partner Diane, who already was emotionally struggling from an abduction several yearsago, cannot cope with a fire that has devastated her home and left her marriage in trouble.

He and his friend Police Detective Sam Purdy try to keep closed the apparent three year old suicide of psychotic J. Winter Brown as an eight years old witness has provided recent evidence that claim a murder occurred. Compounding problems is a drug dealer learns of their involvement. Finally a new patient Amanda Bobbie tells Gregory a story that has the psychologist fearing for his family, his friends and his life as the Brown case has gone torrid.

The first of the final two-part last Alan Gregory thriller (see The Last Lie and The Siege) is a fabulous tale as the cool doc is no longer calm with his cover-up of his indiscretion surfacing. The action-packed thrilling storyline is character driven as the audience will feel Gregory’s fears. With a great cliffhanger involving the hero’s wife setting up the climatic last Gregory caper, fans will enjoy this entry and look forward to the final curtain call.

Harriet Klausner

The Absent One-Jussi Adler-Olsen; K.E. Semmel (translator)

The Absent One

Jussi Adler-Olsen; K.E. Semmel (translator)

Dutton, Aug 21 2012, $26.95

ISBN 9780525952893

Copenhagen Deputy Detective Superintendent Carl Morck heads the police Department Q, whose mission is solving cold cases. Formerly a good homicide cop, Morck almost died on the job while two of his peers did because he blames himself for failing to fire his gun (The Keeper of Lost Causes). He suffers from remorse and survival guilt.

The latest case for Morck and his two exiled undesirable assistants Assad and Rose Knudson involves a 1987 double homicide of teen siblings; both beaten to death at a summer cottage in Rorvig. Neither Carl nor Assad knows why they got the closed solved case, but they study the file. Suspicion back then fell on six boarding-school students staying at a nearby cottage who had several brawls at the local Round nightclub. Five of them (Pram, Florin, Jensen, deceased Wolf and vanished Lasson) were born silver spooners while the other was on scholarship (Thogersen); the father of the victims, a cop, killed himself. Nine years after the brutal murders, Thogersen confessed and remains in prison. Three of the surviving now gold spooners realize the cops are reinvestigating the murders and may find evidence linking them to that and more such violent acts. They need to eliminate the one person who could expose them if Department Q finds her before they do.

The second Department Q Danish police procedural is an exciting cold case mystery as the more Carl and Assad learn, the more convinced they are that all the suspects were involved in the murders and in subsequent killings since. Readers will enjoy following the clues as everyone hunts for a homeless member of the original six.

Harriet Klausner

12.21-Dustin Thomason


Dustin Thomason

Dial, Aug 7 2012, $27.00

ISBN 9780385341400

On December 11, 2012 in Los Angeles, Presbyterian Hospital’s third-year resident Michaela Thane calls Dr. Gabriel Stanton, head of CDC’s Prion Center. She says she believes she believes they have a case of Prion Disease. Stanton scoffs at Thane’s assertion until she says he seems to suffer from fatal familial insomnia (FFI), but he changes his mind when she also mentions the tests indicate the patient had not slept in a week. Stanton rushes to over to Presbyterian.

Nearby at the Getty Museum, epigraphist Chel Manu deciphers a Mayan codex just given to her by a distraught Hector Gutierrez. As she begins to understand why her Mayan heritage ancestors suddenly vanished and what December 21, 2012 means, Michaela’s diagnosis proves correct and soon the greater metropolitan area is quarantined as an epidemic of Prion disease has spread to thousands. To understand the patient they bring in Manu. Soon Stanton and Manu race to the Guatemalan jungle to find a cure to the spreading FFI, which will blanket the world by December 21, 2012.

This is a tremendous medical-Mayan doomsday thriller that grips readers from the moment Thane calls Stanton and never slows down as the clock is running out on preventing a pandemic end of the world. Fast-paced throughout, readers will short list this superb tale as one of the best thrillers of the year.

Harriet Klausner

Through These Veins-Anne Marie Ruff

Through These Veins

Anne Marie Ruff

Open Door Press, Jun 20 2011, $15.00

ISBN: 9780983249801

In Ethiopia, the villagers considered Nataniel the healer as a witch doctor. They came from all over the country and beyond to see him in his hometown of Chochotte. His daughter Zahara knows that her father is an Orthodox Christian pharmacist who graduated from Addis Ababa University. She is proud of her dad who does what he can using many local remedies to help those ailing.

He found a cure for a terrible disease that was destroying the Ethiopians and much of East Africa. Word spread around Africa and beyond until the American Big Pharma firms learns of a potential cure made from local foliage that violently rids the body of AIDs. Soon afterward, Nataniel is murdered and his daughter wants to know why and who though she thinks she already knows the answers.

This is an engaging thriller that works on two planes. First there is a remarkable discerning look at global AIDs field research that takes armchair readers obviously to Africa but also Asia as well as the labs interwoven into the entertaining storyline; second there is the competition for controlling Nataniel’s elixir in which Big Pharma is not the evil kingdom though ruthless businessmen are in the mix. Readers will enjoy Anne Marie Ruff’s strong saga as she shines a spotlight on AIDs through what could happen after finding the cure.

Harriet Klausner

In The House Of The Wicked-Thomas E. Sniegoski

In The House Of The Wicked

Thomas E. Sniegoski

Roc, Aug 7 2012, $15.00

ISBN: 9780451464569

Remiel the seraphim archangel fought on the Creator’s side in the civil war against Lucifer’s rebel army. Although his side won, he no longer could abide living in heaven after the atrocities that followed after brother fought brother to the death on the battlefield. Thus Remiel becomes Remy Chandler, Boston PI, and in love with a mortal woman who died leaving him a grieving widow who understands Lord Alfred Tennyson’s immortal words: “'Tis better to have loved and lost; Than never to have loved at all.”

Remy is also very fond of Ashley Berg who he treats like a beloved daughter. When she disappears, Remy vows to find her to bring her home. He learns a sorcerer kidnapped Ashley as an expendable pawn to bring the seraphim to him; he schemes to steal Remy’s power and life force in order to become an immortal. Remy is uninterested in the games of Algernon Stearns and Konrad Deacon who drained life forces immediately after Hiroshima; instead he would go to hell to rescue his Ashley, but at what cost as the ensuing battles could leave humanity extinct.

This is a powerful Remy Chandler urban fantasy (see A Hundred Words For Hate) as someone he trusts with his life is loyal to Lucifer; thus the Prince of Deceivers uses his mole to trick Remy into going down wrong paths (leading to twisting subplots). The exciting storyline effortlessly switches back to Deacon’s past in WWII and afterward enabling the readers to observe the odious antics of an evil individual planning his coup. House of the Wicked is a terrific fantasy that will thrill readers.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Run to Ground-D.P. Lyle

Run to Ground

D.P. Lyle

Oceanview, Aug 7 2012, $25.95

ISBN: 9781608090570

In Alabama, Martha and Tim Foster struggle to cope with the murder of their seven year old son Steven. DNA evidence in a truck tied Walter Alan Whitaker to the homicide. However Judge Ben Kleiman trashed the reputation of HPD homicide detective T-Tommy Tortelli and disallowed the use of the DNA on a technicality. Whitiker was convicted of perjury and interfering with a police investigation. He received three years and now after nine months at Stone Gate Prison near Huntsville he is freed.

Martha and Tim fear their son’s killer as he threatened her. Though they will never see their son’s grave again, the pair change their identity and plan to leave the state. However, before they leave for the Carolinas, they fire shots from a distance that kills Whitaker whose brother blames T-Tommy. HPD forensic evidence and criminal behavior consultant Dub Walker, T-Tommy Tortelli and TV reporter Claire McBride search for the Fosters, but find some anomalies in the evidence.

The latest Dub Walker/T-Tommy police procedural (see Hot Lights, Cold Steel and Stress Fracture) is a taut manhunt investigation. Character driven especially at the onset when readers meet the distraught parents, the storyline is filled with a stunning late twist. Fans will appreciate aptly titled Run To Ground while wondering would they act like the bereaved Foster parents who watch an injustice occur.

Harriet Klausner

Silent Slaughter-C.E. Lawrence

Silent Slaughter

C.E. Lawrence

Pinnacle, Aug 1 2012, $9.99

ISBN 9780786025633

In Manhattan’s Thirteenth Precinct, Detective Leonard Butts consults with profiler Dr. Lee Campbell on a note addressed to the cop received at the station. The memo signed by the Professor taunts Butts and the profiler. Campbell tells Butts the man is literate, intelligent and a real threat. He answers what should we do and the profiler says we wait.

The first known victim is Lisa Adler found in the back of Shinbourne Alley with a note addressed to Butts and friends from the Professor. Forensics Linguistics Specialist Elena Krieger says the culprit is enjoying himself and uses sophisticated amusing language as the Professor plays a game in which he sets the rules. He also removed a finger from the victim. Cop Jimmy Chen and his autistic brother Barry join the investigation.

Although serial killers running rampart are the repeat theme in this exciting series (see Silent Kills, Silent Victims and Silent Screams), the cast makes it fresh as Leonard, Elena, Barry and the Professor bring diverse eccentricities to the investigation. The storyline is fast-paced from the moment Butts and Campbell eat bagels while discussing the first note and never slows down until the final confrontation of a literary predator.

Harriet Klausner

The Last Victim-Karen Robards

The Last Victim

Karen Robards

Ballantine, Aug 7 2012, $26.00

ISBN: 9780345535405

When Dr. Charlotte Stone was seventeen years old, due to being sick in the bathroom, she was the sole survivor of the Boardwalk Killer massacre of her BFF Holly Palmer and her friend’s mom Diane. She hid from everyone the “visits” in visions by Holly and her mom. That nightmare led to Charlie obsessively dedicating her life to becoming the authority on serial killers.

Fifteen years later at Wallens Ridge State Prison in Big Stone Gap, Virginia, Charlie’s interview of death row inmate Michael Garland ends when FBI agent Tony Bartoli arrives to talk to her. Tony informs a horrified Charlie that the Boardwalk Killer is no longer dormant or a copycat has surfaced; as just like with Holly someone abducted a teen after massacring her family. After she leaves Garland, he dies in an attack by another prisoner. Garland’s ghost blames his death on Charlie even though she tried to save his life. He continues to harangue her, which radically deviates with what she knows about ghosts after years of contact. Charlie knows this is her bogeyman case, but believes she must rescue the teen while an irate Garland refuses to go away.

This is a great paranormal police procedural starring a fascinating researcher whose worst nightmare apparently has returned. The suspenseful story line grips the audience from the moment the teen stays hiding and never let’s go until the final confrontation with a diabolical serial killer. Adding to the fun is a touch of a romantic triangle as Karen Robards proves a fantastic ghostly whodunit.

Harriet Klausner

Blood Line-James Rollins

Blood Line

James Rollins

Morrow, Jun 26 2012, $27.99

ISBN: 9780061784798

Sigma Force Commander Gray Pierce struggles with the murder of his mother. However, the team is assigned by leader Painter Crowe to extract a high value abductee taken by Somali pirates off the Seychelles. Confused by the task as this is not the type of mission Sigma deals with since the kidnapping is not a global threat, which is their mission even if the victim is the First Daughter Amanda Gant-Bennett. Even more bewildering is that former Army Ranger Tucker Wayne and his K9 partner Kane join the rescue effort. Reluctantly as they table their combat against the Guild, Sigma heads to the Horn to meet their two newcomers.

A firebombing in a South Carolina fertility clinic reveals a centuries-old plot to reengineer the human genome. Sigma is assigned to save an unborn whose existence questions the meaning of what humanity is:

As always in a James Rollins’ thriller, scientific theories (in this case: genetics, robotics, immortality and canine intelligence) are key to an exciting action-packed tale. The cast is strong with the newcomers fitting in with the likes of Pierce, Bryant, Kowalski and even enigmatic Seichan while the locales diverse. With a strong conspiratorial plot that ties back to the eleventh century and Jesus, Sigma fans will enjoy the fabulous Blood Line (see The Doomsday Key and The Devil Colony).

Harriet Klausner

Hunter and Fox-Philippa Ballantine

Hunter and Fox

Philippa Ballantine

PYR, Jun 26 2012, $17.95

ISBN 9781616146238

The Caisah massacred the Vaerli so long ago it has become almost a myth. However, the Caisah’s Hunter, Talyn knows better as she was once a proud member of the Vaerli before she sold her soul to the beast that murdered her people and still rules the world.

The Caisah’s mistress Kelanim fears Talyn’s influence on her lover so plots to destroy her “rival”. At the same time, Finn the teller of tales and Talyn meet. They are attracted to one another, which each realizes is unrealistic and dangerous. Meanwhile, Talyn’s lost brother Byre seeks a means to remove the curse on the Vaerli. Soon all will converge shaking the foundations throughout the Conhaero.

Although the theme of a ruthless vicious ruler and a small band of courageous opponents is an old fantasy theme, the constantly changing Conhaero landscape in which a mountain can become lake in an instant adds some freshness to an engaging storyline. Readers will have mixed feelings toward Talyn who regrets selling her soul to the devil in order to survive while Finn brings hope and secrets; and Caisah and Kelanim are stereotypical evil. Although much of the tale sets up the Ballantine mythos and realm, fans will enjoy this opening act while looking forward to future escapades in this shifting world.

Harriet Klausner

False Covenant-Ari Marmell

False Covenant

Ari Marmell

PYR, Jun 26 2012, $16.95

ISBN: 9781616146214

In Davillon, Adrienne Sati escaped the mean streets thanks to a benefactor only to return to the mean streets as a thief thanks to the minor God Olgun (not one of the revered 147) sharing her skull. Now known as Widdershins, she knows she was lucky to survive the serial killer nightmare over six months ago (see Thief's Covenant). She and her deity agree to go straight so they try to earn a living working at Genevieve's tavern.

While the pair fails at bar-keeping, malevolence hunts the nightlife of the city. Widdershins and Olgun return to what they are good at: thieving. However, they uncover a diabolical dark magic plot. The powerful Church distrusts her after the death of their Archbishop. The Guard distrusts her after what happened to Constable Henri Roubert. The Thieves' Guild distrusts her after she left them twice before. Only Guard Major Bouniard seems to be her ally but neither Widdershins nor Olgun trusts the orphan’s attraction to him. If they survive an irate noble who wants her dead; the mortal-deity combo has a night time engagement with an evil serial killer.

Widdershins returns in an exciting entertaining investigative fantasy in which the strong city presence anchors the otherworldly elements. Readers would assume the lead protagonist is schizophrenic, if not for the occasional magic, as she and her guest hold amusing satirical discussions on redemption, death and love. Though there is purposeful stereotyping of secondary players that sets the tone of the Church, the aristocracy, the Guard and the Guild; high school age and older fans will enjoy touring the underbelly of Davillon with the squabbling jocular hosts.

Harriet Klausner

Before I Wake-Rachel Vincent

Before I Wake

Rachel Vincent

Harlequin Teen, Jun 26 2012, $9.99

ISBN: 9780373210619

Twenty-nine days ago, sixteen years old Kaylee Cavanaugh the bean sidhe banshee’s final soul scream was for herself when she was stabbed to death by an incubus math teacher (see If I Die). She has become a reaper working in the reclamation department for Madeline collecting souls. Her boss brought her back hoping a banshee reaper can end the serial soul stealing of an unknown thief. Her dad knows she is dead and she has a new boyfriend Tod the two and a half years old dead reaper at her side as well as Styx the netherworld Pomeranian guard dog.

Now Kaylee faces her greatest challenge yet when she returns to high school pretending to be alive as her death was local headline news. Madeline assigns her to recapture a soul taken by a rogue reaper at the donut shop as a training exercise. Kaylee rushes to the donut shop where she meets Thane the reaper who killed her mom thirteen years ago. He wants Kaylee dead, and was sent to hell by Rod. Using her banshee skills, she takes the soul to Madeline and with seconds to spare makes it to Eastlake where her former boyfriend Nash is. Now she balances life at school with collecting souls and uncovering the identity of the soul thief who makes the war personal.

The latest Soul Screamers young adult urban fantasy (see My Soul to Keep and My Soul to Save) is a great entry with a stunning climax. Fast-paced from the moment Kaylee faces Thane over the soul of the donut shop owner, fans will appreciate this super entry as Rachel Vincent continues to shake up things in the world of Kaylee Cavanaugh.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Off the Grid-P.J. Tracy

Off the Grid

P.J. Tracy

Putnam, Aug 2 2012, $25.95

ISBN 9780399158049

Minneapolis Monkeewrench computer guru Grace MacBride and FBI cybercrime desk jockey John Smith met on his first field case three months ago on an internet murder investigation (see Shoot to Thrill). Out of the blue, the older Fed asked her to go sailing with him off the Florida Keys; the lone accepts his invitation. While musing over why she came, she and Charlie the dog realize there is a boat invasion. She sees them with a knife aimed at John. Grace shoots and kills both of them while John struggles with breathing. They realize John was the target of Saudi assassins though he has no idea why; she tosses the bodies into the ocean.

Minneapolis Police department homicide detectives Gino Rolseth and Leo Magozzi investigate the murder of fifteen year old Aimee Sergeant, one of five Native American children kidnapped from the Sand Lake Reservation. Not long after that in nearby Little Mogadishu, two Somali males are executed; followed by three more. The two cops believe the connection between the homicides is a Somali mob that traffics in the sex trade by kidnapping young Native American girls as their commodity. Soon on the sand lake reservation what happened off the Keys, and in Minneapolis converge with the police and the Monkeewrench consultants (Grace, Harley Davidson, Annie Belinski and Roadrunner) facing a diabolical foe who has frightened much of the Midwest.

This powerful police procedural (see Dead Run and Snow Blind) is a fabulous whodunit in which Team Tracy uses the headlines to tell a stunning rousing thriller; whose most frightening aspect is that the plot is very plausible. Action-packed from start to violent finish, fans will appreciate the super Monkeewrench drama.

Harriet Klausner

You Don’t Want to Know-Lisa Jackson

You Don’t Want to Know

Lisa Jackson

Kensington, Aug 1 2012, $25.00

ISBN 9780758258571

Two years ago the nightmare began. Two year old Noah Garrison vanished from his family’s Washington State home. His grief stricken mom Ava mentally collapsed and is placed on meds while spending much time since Noah’s disappearance from their island home in Seattle institutions as she is under suicide watches.

The meds fail to eliminate her nightmares and Ava in a rare lucid moment believes her dugs trigger them. Recently Ava has stopped taking the numbing meds and beginning to regain her memory, which brings its own terrorism as she wonders if Noah fell off the dock and drowned. Ava finds it outrageous yet fascinating that sympathy is towards her husband Wyatt who was never there for their son or her. She also thinks he is cheating again. To add to her tsuris, the police suspect a deranged Ava is a brutal serial killer as the victims are tied to her. Stable hand Austin Dern rescues Ava when she falls off that same dock where she fears Noah fell from. Austin helps Ava try to prove her innocence in the homicides and with what happened to Noah.

You Don’t Want To Know is a gripping thriller that hooks the audience from the onset and never let’s go until the final climax. Filled with twists and spins, and a powerful cast staring with Ava, readers will need to know what happened to Noah in Lisa Jackson’s stunning psychological mystery.

Harriet Klausner

Lake Country-Sean Doolittle

Lake Country

Sean Doolittle

Bantam, Jul 31 2012, $15.00

ISBN 9780345533920

Five years ago, on Minnesota State Road 169 after several nights of little sleep Minneapolis architect Wade Benson fell asleep at the wheel, crossed into traffic going in the other direction, and crashed head on into the vehicle driven by Mankato State sophomore Becky Morse. She dies while he gets probation to include two days a year in jail.

Former marine Darryl Potter is a friend of the Morse family. He believes an injustice occurred that he decides to rectify with an eye for an eye. Potter kidnaps Benson’s twenty years old daughter Juliet and heads into Lake Country. His Afghan combat veteran Mike Barlowe realizes what Darryl has done and tries to prevent another innocent dying. Reporter Maya Lamb who was there from the beginning of the tragedy, Buck, bounty hunter Bryce, law enforcement officials and other parties with superego agendas pursue.

Everyone collides in Lake Country as Sean Doolittle provides a powerful regional thriller. Fast-paced and loaded with action, readers anticipate the confrontation while wondering whether Juliet will be the sacrifice to “right” a wrong. Filled with a strong diverse cast that run the emotional gamut, Lake Country is a great thriller.

Harriet Klausner

The Crowded Grave-Martin Walker

The Crowded Grave

Martin Walker

Knopf, Jul 10 2012, $24.95

ISBN: 9780307700193

Apparently PETA activists rip open a fence on the Villatte farm allowing many of the three thousand birds to leave; cars run over a few. As Bruno, his team and his dog Gigi work the fowl containment; an archeological team led by German Professor Horst Vogelstern seeks the remains of Cro-Magnon and Neanderthal in the Perigord region. Instead they find the bones of a corpse wearing a St. Christopher medal and a swatch with a bullet in the skull and the hands tied from behind with electrical wire. St. Denis police chief Benet “Bruno” Courrèges investigates the cold case homicide that is over three decades old.

At the same time, Bruno and his small staff are on alert as a major publicized meeting between French and Spanish officials are in St. Denis. He also struggles with the new magistrate who demands the enforcement of the health codes by the local police; this decree forces Bruno to enforce violations of neighbors for slaughtering livestock without regard to government licensing. To make matters worse, Horst disappears.

The latest magnifique Mystery of the French Countryside (see Bruno, Chief of Police; The Dark Vineyard; and Black Diamond) is a delightful potpourri of murder, various types of terrorism, gourmet dining, and intelligent women competing for Bruno. With a sad but realistic exciting climax, fans will appreciate Martin Walker’s superbe gendarme procedural.

Harriet Klausner

The Impeachment of Abraham Lincoln-Stephen L. Carter

The Impeachment of Abraham Lincoln

Stephen L. Carter

Knopf, Jul 10 2012, $26.95

ISBN: 9780307272638

In 1865, John Wilkes Booth, supported by several co-conspirators, enters the Ford Theater to kill President Lincoln. The assassin fails to murder Lincoln; though Vice President Andrew Johnson dies and Secretary of States William Seward is so severely injured he is unable to carry out his duty. Booth and his team are executed before they can be properly interrogated to determine who else was involved in their nefarious assassination plot.

Over the next couple of years, Lincoln pushes a Reconstruction agenda that faces strong opposition in Congress who prefers punishing the losers rather than bringing them back into the Union. In 1867, the House of Representatives led by Radical Republicans pass a bill of impeachment against Lincoln. The US Senate will try the President. He hires Dennard & McShane law firm to defend him. They, in turn, employ Abigail Canner, a young “dark nation” graduate of Oberlin College allegedly as a clerk but actually as image confection. She refuses to be an idle symbol so she begins her own inquiry in Washington City to uncover the identity of the rest of the Booth team.

This is an entertaining alternate history based on Lincoln not Johnson surviving and being impeached. The storyline captures the essence of Post-Civil War society through a strong cast especially the middle class heroine, and the politics of the era as his own party fails to heed his words of “A house divided against itself cannot stand” when the Republicans prefer punishment over Lincoln’s reconciliation; they use his war powers as the rationale to impeach. The thriller starts fast with the assassination attempt, but slows down for a while before reengaging the reader with the trial and with Canner’s investigation.

Harriet Klausner

Dark Companion- Marta Acosta

Dark Companion

Marta Acosta

Tor Teen, Jul 3 2012, $17.99

ISBN: 9780765329646

Since becoming an orphan a decade ago at the age of six, Jane Williams has bounced around the foster care system. She learned rather quickly to hide in plain sight and to work hard at escaping. When she turned sixteen, her diligence pays off when she receives a full scholarship including a cottage to attend prestigious Birch Grove High School. To her shock she is welcomed as a friend by the affluent students especially Mary Violet.

Jane is attracted to both sons Lucian and Jack of Headmistress Radcliffe. Street-wised Jane knows she is naïve when it comes to boys. Still she recognizes there is something dark inside both of them, but it is Lucien who she is willing to pay the piper to be with. However, Jane feels a need to know what happened to the previous scholarship student and why Jack loathes her

This is an engaging paranormal gothic thriller starring a unique protagonist and a strong cast. The taut storyline builds on the innocent female in peril as tension of mysterious happenings in an isolated boarding school mount. Although the heroine’s revelation about love seems abrupt, young adult fans will enjoy It Happened to Jane (Eyre).

Harriet Klausner

Love On The Run-Katherine Kerr

Love On The Run

Katherine Kerr

Daw, Aug 7 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780756407629

Across the multiverse, there are infinite earths. Nola O’Grady and her psychic family reside on the Level Four earth. Nola works for the top secret The Agency whose mission is to police the Chaos and stop it from entering the worlds. Her lover Ari Nathan is a double Israeli agent for Interpol and TWIXT (Trans-word Interpol X Teams) whose mission is border guard patrol of global crossing.

Both agencies are searching for the Peacock Angel Cult, on an unknown deviant world that is used as a base to spread the chaos to other worlds. Ari and Nola are working on a case involving Earth Three; a radioactive world in which technology is low level and radiation is at a poisonous high rate. The residents would do anything to escape to the any other level. The Axeman and Ash, who fought Nola on a previous caper, are running a scam that proves deadly to the native on Earth Three who want to get away but the freedom on Earth Six is just an illusion. Fourth Level Earth Nola and Ari team up to prevent the spread of the Chaos on Earh Six and bring order to this orb.

The latest Nola O'Grady dark urban fantasy (see License to Ensorcell and Water To Burn) contains several subplots focusing on Nola’s family as her relative is under siege from an abusive husband and her younger brother is in trouble for misusing his psychic skills. Though the Agency and TWIXT want the talented O’Grady brood on their respective teams, their entries detract from the prime exciting storyline starring Nola and Ari returning to Earth 3 (see Apocalypse To Go) to deal with a problem that could bring Chaos to the rest of Earths. Love On the Run is a fantastic work due to excellent characterizations, a fascinating who done it and a bit of romance. The quirky secondary cast adds humor to a dark storyline.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, June 22, 2012

Don’t Say a Word-Beverly Barton

Don’t Say a Word

Beverly Barton

Zebra, Jul 31, 2012, $7.99

ISBN 9781420110371

In Chattanooga, the vicious “Tongue Slasher” serial killer haunts the city as even a judge is unsafe from this psychopath. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Special Agent Will Brannock and Detective Julia Cass, new to the CPD and sister to his TBI peer J.D. (see Don’t Cry), lead the inquiry.

While both law enforcement officials know ending the hideous Tongue Slasher’s reign of terror is top priority, they are attracted to one another. However, Julia pegs him as a player so rejects any relationship besides professional and Will has a past that prevents him from pursuing his temporary teammate. As they work the case, they find too many suspects, but diligently try to eliminate most of them before another victim is gruesomely slaughtered.

This is a fast-paced direct sequel to Don’t Cry as some of the dangling threads continue in this police procedural. The killer’s scrap book will bring chills to the audience as does his gruesome crimes. Fans will appreciate this strong thriller as the late Beverly Barton, known for her taut tales, provides a terrific tense romantic suspense.

Harriet Klausner

Nowhere to Run-Nancy Bush

Nowhere to Run

Nancy Bush

Zebra, Jul 31, 2012, $7.99

ISBN 9781420125016

Olivia “Liv” Dugan celebrates her sixth birthday though her toddler brother Hague upsets her. After eating cake, Liv watches cartoons when she hears her Mama cry out. She goes to check on her Mama while noticing the door opened. Mama tells her to go back to the den and she will join her soon. When Mama fails to come to the den, Liv goes to the kitchen only to find her hanging dead.

Almost two decades later, Liv receives a package that Mama had left in trust for her when she turned twenty-five. Inside are pictures, a birth certificate, and a strange note that makes no sense to her. Liv obsesses with knowing the entire truth about her Mama. When she returns from lunch to her office at Zuma Software, Liv is shocked to find everyone murdered. She assumes she was the intended victim with her Mama’s package the motive though she is unaware why. She trusts no one and believing she is followed Liv carjacks a random vehicle driven by Detective August “Auggie” Rafferty. She tells him her story, which he believes is either BS or delusional until incidents occur. Now they team up trying to understand why something that happened twenty years ago is leaving innocent people dead while Liv is the prey of a predator.

Nowhere to Run is an action-packed thriller that keeps the romance between the heroes to a minimum (though the attraction is unneeded) as the focus is on survival and the investigation. Auggie’s teaming with a civilian even an endangered one seems odd though arguably he also trusts no one with her safety. Readers will be hooked with a need to know the roots of why in this exciting romantic suspense.

Harriet Klausner