Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Kingmaker's Daughter-Philippa Gregory

The Kingmaker's Daughter

Philippa Gregory

Touchstone, Aug 16 2012, $26.99

ISBN: 9781451626070

The Kingmaker Richard Neville, as the Earl of Warwick plans to see one of his daughters (Anne or Isabel) sits on the throne as wife to King Edward IV while the loser in his marital sweepstake would wed either royal brother George or Richard. However, independent Edward destroys Warwick’s scheme when he marries his choice ofs a wife while ignoring the demands of the Kingmaker.

An irate Neville arranges a marriage between George and Isabel while supporting his son-in-law’s revolt to take the throne from Edward. Meanwhile Anne becomes a widow at fourteen with no protection until the other royal sibling Richard marries her. Proving a chip off her sire’s block, she thrives on regal intrigue that places her, her husband and their children in peril as the War of the Roses continues unabated.

The latest Cousins’ War of the Roses historical thriller (see The Lady of the Rivers, The Red Queen and The White Queen) is an exciting tale filled with political intrigue as no one is safe from betrayal. Fast-paced, readers will relish observing the behind the scenes actions of a strong woman who like all females in the fifteenth century hides what she does in a male only world.

Harriet Klausner

Sour Apples-Sheila Connolly

Sour Apples

Sheila Connolly

Berkley Prime Crime, Aug 7 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 978-0425251508

One year ago her Boston bank downsized her so Meg Corey bought an apple orchard in Granford, Massachusetts. Though she is learning on the job especially from her manager Briona Stewart, Meg feels good with the change in employment and likes selectman Seth Chapin.

Her only friend at the bank, Lauren Converse arrives in town as the campaign manager for former local football hero Rick Sainsbury who is running for Congress. Seth overly shows he loathes Rick but will not tell anyone why. Meanwhile a cow kicks and kills experienced dairy farmer Joyce Truesdell while her husband Ethan was away on business. However, the autopsy proves a homicide occurred and the police suspect Ethan killed his wife. Meg wonders if the motive had to do with government-owned land that the deceased was leasing and complaining was toxic. Unable to stay out of the inquiry, Meg investigates.

The latest Orchard Mystery (Bitter Harvest and A Killer Crop) is a fun amateur sleuth in which the whodunit comes towards the middle of the engaging storyline as life in a small western Massachusetts town takes center stage. Although meg has no reason to investigate as she only just met the victim once and never the husband until after the murder, fans will enjoy the heroine taking a bite out of crime in this fun regional cozy.

Harriet Klausner

A Spoonful Of Murder-Connie Archer

A Spoonful Of Murder

Connie Archer

Berkley Prime Crime, Aug 7 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780425251478

Life for Lucky Jamieson is turmoil and grief when her parents died in a car crash. She moves back to her hometown Snowflake, Vermont where the big business is the ski slopes. Lucky inherits her late parents' By the Spoonful soup shop. Unsure whether she wants to run a restaurant or what to do with the family home, Lucky considers her options especially what to do about Grandfather Jack, who shows signs of Alzheimer's.

One morning after a brutal ice storm, Lucky takes out the garbage only to find the frozen corpse of a repeat customer blond haired Patricia Honeywell just outside the soup shop. The police quickly arrest Lucky’s soup chef, Sage DuBois for murdering Patricia. Without him, there is no soup kitchen and besides she thinks her chef is innocent so Lucky, taking her mind off her grief, investigates.

The first Soup Lover's Mystery is an engaging amateur sleuth due to the troubled heroine and the delightful Vermont location. Lucky feels unlucky at the moment as she is unsure about her future, what to do about her granddad, and unable to move on with her parents’ deaths.

Although the storyline is typical of the culinary cozy, fans will thoroughly enjoy A Spoonful Of Murder as Lucky dives head first into a bowl of trouble.

Harriet Klausner

Moonglow-Kristen Callihan


Kristen Callihan

Forever, Jul 31 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9781455508587

In 1883, widowed Daisy Ellis Craigmore feels euphoric to have escaped the stranglehold of a lousy six-year marriage to an abusive mate though she knows that is not nice thinking. However, she did her time in marriage with 366 days, ten hours, fifteen minutes faking mourning. She considers herself no longer a Craigmore in sham mourning. Now she plans to enjoy life.

However, her euphoria ends abruptly when she witnesses a homicide. Ian Ranulf, the Marquis of Northrup, pushes passed the crowd claiming to be a doctor though he had not practiced in almost two decades. He knows what happened here as he avoided his kind for seventy years but his kind has intruded on his self-imposed exile. When he smells a woman nearby, he moves the body to find Daisy underneath. Questioning her while keeping her safe, Ian knows he must eliminate the culprit before the law finds the rogue. However, his attraction to Daisy is an unwanted mistimed need that Ian cannot ignore.

This Darkest London Victorian historical fantasy (see Firelight) is a fabulous paranormal investigative thriller with an incredible opening scene. The lead couple is a nice pairing as the murder mystery plays matchmaker while neither feels comfortable with falling in love at this time. Kristen Callihan provides an entertaining paranormal whodunit as London remains dark even in a Moonglow.

Harriet Klausner

The Well of Tears-Roberta Trahan

The Well of Tears

Roberta Trahan

47North, Sep 18 2012, $14.95

ISBN: 9781612183725

The Order of the Stewardry wizards have waited for centuries for the time for, them to adhere to the pledge of fealty they made in the magically concealed Fane Gramarye Temple in the remote village of Pwll. There they vowed to support the one king of Cymru

In 905, the time has come to anoint Hywel as the King of Cymru. Madoc the elderly Ard Druidh chief mage realizes that he must choose his successor at the Well of Tears, but before he does he sends Guard Captain Aslak to escort sorceresses back to Pwll. The soldier goes for Alwen, wife of King Bledig and mother of two teenage children (Rhys and Eirlys). Alwen, accompanied by her family, travels to Fane Gramarye. However, all is not smooth as traitorous evil from within also has begun to march preferring the chaos of war over the promise of peace if Hywel is crowned and also covets Madoc’s heritage.

Though at times the overall entertaining storyline slows down due to too much mundane detail, fans will enjoy this engaging post Arthurian fantasy. Character driven by a strong cast who makes the Trahan mythos seems real while also somewhat limiting the action, readers will wonder who the traitor(s) is as the time to crown the King and select the Ard Druidh successor have arrived with good and evil competing for both jobs.

Harriet Klausner

Time Untime-Sherrilyn Kenyon

Time Untime

Sherrilyn Kenyon

St. Martin's Press, Aug 7 2012, $25.99

ISBN: 9780312546618

Many millennia ago, Ren Waya was the Keetoowah warrior Guardian chosen to keep hell sealed while resetting the celestial calendar. Instead his closet friend, half-brother Coyote killed him. However, Ren returned as an acrimonious angry Dark Hunter.

Her late grandmother left Kateri Avani with a precious stone to protect as the Keeper of legend. She scoffs at her grandma’s superstition until beasts like nothing she ever saw before attack her. When she meets Ren, Kateri recognizes him as the man who has haunted her dreams seemingly forever. However, she is not sure whether he is her fantasy savior-lover keeping her safe or the beast that kills her. With a depressed sense of déjà vu, Ren knows what he must do to keep the malevolence from arising but sacrificing his heart may save a world but kill him all over again as the Time Untime to reset the calendar is coming.

The latest Dark-Hunter urban fantasy (see Retribution and The Guardians) is a great fast-paced suspense thriller that uses the Mayan prophecy to great effect. Kateri is a wonderful scientist in distress unsure whom she should trust; while Ren is a fascinating haunted protagonist who has played this tune before but prays for an identical big picture ending and a better personal outcome. Fans will enjoy the countdown as time runs out.

Harriet Klausner

Angel Eyes-Shannon Dittemore

Angel Eyes

Shannon Dittemore

Thomas Nelson, May 29 2012, $9.99

ISBN: 9781401686352

Grieving Brielle Matthews the ballerina takes the train from Portland back to her hometown Stratus, Oregon, barely able to move as she suffers from PTSD after the death of her close friend eighteen year old Ali. Her dreams to make it as a dancer died when Ali died. Her family tries to help her cope with the heaviness that engulfs her heart and soul, but only offer platitudes.

At Stratus High school, she meets Jake Shield who moved into the previously vacant Miller house next door to her family home. He seems to be everywhere she is and she begins to heal from the death of Ali though she fears those she loves die as she is attracted to her teenage neighbor. However, the pair is caught in the middle of angels protecting them from demons wanting them dead.

This is an entertaining young adult good and evil urban fantasy as the Dittemore pantheon of angels and demons seems reasonable. The storyline starts slow as the audience meet the key players through rotation of viewpoints between the two teens, Canaan the guardian and Damien. Readers will enjoy this engaging tale as Brielle no longer trusts a God who allows bad things to happen to good people until she finds her life and soul (and that of Jake) depends on the angels of the deity she disavowed.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, July 30, 2012

Yankee Doodle Dixie-Lisa Patton

Yankee Doodle Dixie

Lisa Patton

Dunne, Aug 7 2012, $14.99

ISBN: 9781250007476

With her marriage over as he chose boobs over her and their daughters, Leelee Satterfield decides to leave Vermont and the Dixie B&B and restaurant she made successful with the help of Peter the Chef to go home to Memphis though she rationalizes her reason for leaving is that the inn was her ex’s dream. Before she heads south, Peter stuns her with a kiss (see Whistlin' Dixie in a Nor'easter).

In Memphis, she makes a home for her two young children with help from her late parents' housekeeper Kissie. Her BFFs welcome her back to the real world. Leelee obtains work at a radio station and is attracted to a rock star Liam White who takes her with him on his tour until she realizes he has the cloned personality of her former husband in which the world owes them. She just wishes Peter would become southern fried.

The storyline lacks the southern invasion of rural Vermont theme of the first tale, but still readers will enjoy the further complications in the life of Leelee due the eccentric cast who bring to life Memphis. Although her return as a single mom seems too easy; as she gets by with a little help from her friends (paraphrasing the Beatles) and Kissie, and obtains the radio station position though her résumé lacks any reference to air waves, fans will enjoy the return of the prodigal daughter.

Harriet Klausner

Ties That Bind-Natalie R. Collins

Ties That Bind

Natalie R. Collins

St. Martin's Griffin, Jul 31 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780312941994

In Kanesville, Utah, the Stake President Mark Malone finds his seventeen year old son Jeremiah hung himself using a tie. KPD Detective Samantha Montgomery becomes angry and frustrated when a peer at the death scene tampered with the evidence by removing the tie. Her boss Chief Roberson tells Sam to make the inquiry fast as he believes Jeremiah committed suicide. Sam feels the death is too similar to recent suicides by two girls Jeremiah’s age; she wonders if a serial killer stalks Kanesville.

Seminary principal and Sam’s high school sweetheart Pail Carlson shows his office computer screen to the police; someone with access to the seminary typed in “Vengeance”, which changes the cause for the three teen deaths from self-inflicted to murder. Salt Lake City Police Detective Gage Flint arrives to help on the investigation over the objection of Sam who blames him, her former lover, for her having to leave SLCPD. As they investigate, Vengeance watches Sam closely as she may be next.

Natalie R. Collins latest Mormon Church mystery (see Latter Day Saints, SisterWife and Wives And Sisters) is an exciting police procedural serial killer thriller. The engaging whodunit shines a light on the closed abusive patriarchal society especially in an insular small-town (one near Salt Lake City) in which a dark soul rationalizes his actions by claiming he is God’s Vengeance against sinners; though one must wonder why he waited to attack Sam who disavowed any connection to the Church. Although Sam can be too angry, fans will understand why with her older sister dead but still inside her head, her dad condemning her wicked ways and her mom a vegetable.

Harriet Klausner

False Impressions-Laura Caldwell

False Impressions

Laura Caldwell

Mira, Aug 21 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780778313731

In Chicago, Maggie Bristol of Bristol & Associates is going on maternity leave so she needs her best friend and employee lawyer- private investigator Izzy McNeil to take more responsibility. Izzy owes Maggie who assister her transition from entertainment law to criminal law so will do what it takes to keep her BFF’s firm functioning.

Her friend Mayburn asks Izzy to do him a favor. His former lover art gallery owner Madeline Saga has recently learned some originals she sold were fakes. Madeline insists that when she first obtained these works they were originals; so far she has not gone to the police because she will be ruined. Izzy investigates knowing this has to be an inside job by either someone working at the gallery or an artist. The case turns ugly when this unknown adversary threatens to kill Madeline. Packer cheesehead Detective Damon Vaughn tries to help Izzy the Bears fan when she becomes a target too.

The latest Izzy McNeil Chicago Files (see Question of Trust, Red Blood Murder Claim of Innocence and Red Hot Lies) is an engaging tale in which the whodunit though well written plays second fiddle to the changes in Izzy’s life. Readers will appreciate Izzy’s tour of Chicago’s art scene as she learns the Agony and the Ecstasy (by Irving stone) that art imitates art.

Harriet Klausner

South by Southeast-Blair Underwood, Tananarive Due and Steven Barnes

South by Southeast

Blair Underwood, Tananarive Due and Steven Barnes

Atria, Sep 18 2012, $15.00

ISBN: 9781451650631

In Los Angeles, highly regarded director Gustavo Escobar hires actor Tennyson Hardwick to play the key role of the first victim in Freaknik, a zombie horror movie. Ten, his ailing dad and his eighteen year old not quite adopted daughter Chela are in South Beach for the film. Left back in Southern California is his ex-April.

During the shoot, Chela’s street friend Maria arrives at the set. They go out together clubbing in Miami at the Phoenix like they did a few years ago before Ten took the former off the street. Not long afterward, Maria’s murdered corpse is found with the police believing she was the latest victim of a serial killer stalking hookers in South Florida. Ten investigates the death and soon believes he knows the identity of the killer. However, the culprit commits suicide so the case is closed except someone murders a person Ten cares about and threatens the two females he loves.

The latest Tennyson Hardwick mystery (see from Cape Town With Love, In The Heat of the Night and Casanegra) is an exciting street thriller though between his reconciliation with his dad and his love for April and Chela the hero has lost some of his hard-boiled noir edge. For instance he is like every caring parent setting rules as he worries about his teenage daughter clubbing. His adversary is a diabolical brilliant serial killer who places Ten in what the military calls a Morton’s fork selection between two horrible choices each leading to death. Readers will appreciate Ten’s dilemma as death stalks him and his loved ones.

Harriet Klausner

My Favorite Fangs: The Story of the Von Trapp Family Vampires-Alan Goldsher

My Favorite Fangs: The Story of the Von Trapp Family Vampires

Alan Goldsher

Dunne, Aug 7 2012, $14.99

ISBN: 9780312640200

After six centuries residing at the Abbey in Saltsburg, Austria the Mother Zombie tosses Maria the vampire novice out from their order. Stunned to no longer live with the zombie nuns, Maria obtains work as the governess to the out of control von Trapp family.

She is attracted to the Baroness von Trapp the succubus and the clan patriarch. Maria changes the family into vampires and marries the father. The family that performs together sips blood together. However the hills are alive with the sound of Nazi Undeath Squads hunting the undead including trapping the von Trapp troupe.

Taking a sarcastic bite into the Sound of Music, Alan Goldsher provides an overall amusing satirical tale although there are too many gross jokes that overwhelm the storyline. Fans of rowdy jocular horror (see Paul Is Undead) will laugh at the performance of the von Trapp vampire troupe.

Harriet Klausner

Rivals and Retribution-Shannon Delany

Rivals and Retribution

Shannon Delany

St. Martin's Griffin, Aug 7 2012, $9.99

ISBN: 9780312625184

In Junction Jessie Gillmansen and the Rusakova family including her boyfriend Pietr take the lycanthropic cure so that they can be "normal" and safe from the mob and the company whose headquarters in town was destroyed (see Destiny and Deception). However, Pietr has changed, which strains his relationship with Jessie.

Menwhile, Marlaena leads her Chicago werewolf pack to take over Junction. When someone abducts Jessie, Pietr goes berserk with an obsessive need to rescue his beloved. However, he turns wolf only to imprint with Marlaena. Like him she loves someone else so neither wants this bond. At the same a mutual enemy plots the demise of the Lycan while Jessie hopes to save her boyfriend and reverse engineer the terrible scientific experiments.

The final 13 to Life werewolf saga (see Secrets and Shadows and Bargains and Betrayals) is an engaging climax to an entertaining urban fantasy. The storyline is fast-paced, but the enemy who seems menacingly invincible early on fails to live up to their earlier reputation when the confrontation occurs. Still fans of the saga will appreciate Rivals and Retribution as time is running out to find the cure and deal with the adversarial assault.

Harriet Klausner

Dead Mann Running-Stefan Petrucha

Dead Mann Running

Stefan Petrucha

Roc, Sep 4 2012, $7.99

ISBN 9780451464743

The state executed former Liveblood cop Hessius Mann for murdering his wife. After his death, suppressed DNA evidence proved his innocence. To atone for their blunder the state applied the Radical Invigoration Procedure (RIP) to reanimate Mann as a Chak in which he is tested every month to insure he does not go rogue. The side effects are horrid as his IQ is gone along with his memory; his bones break easily and no lotion can help with the dry skin. He needs money so Mann becomes a private investigator with Misty the Liveblood as his office manager.

He asks who is it to a knock on his office door, but no one responds. Mann opens the door to see a hand attached to an arm holding the handle of a briefcase; there is no rest of the body. The arm enters the office taking the case inside with it. Leaving the case behind on the floor; the arm jumps out of a window. Misty orders Mann to investigate why an arm left him a suitcase containing two vials of a blue liquid; while adversaries seek the bottles.

The key to this super Mann zombie detective is the RIP seem plausible due to little nuances that enable the reader believe a walking arm seem reasonable. The Livebloods consider the Chakz an inferior race. Only Misty is an exception as she treats her employer with tough love affection as if he is a senile uncle who needs bullying not because he is a Chak, but because he is filled with self-pity. The mystery is fast-paced from the moment the hand knocks and never slows down as there are several people who will kill to get their hands on the vial.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Scone Island-Frederick Ramsay

Scone Island

Frederick Ramsay

Poisoned Pen, Aug 7 2012, $24.95

ISBN 9781464200557

Former CIA agent turned Picketsville, Virginia sheriff Ike Schwartz and his fiancée Callend University president Ruth Dennis vacation at Scone Island off the coast of Maine. Though she calls him a chauvinist pig, Ike plans to be gentle with his Ruth, who recovers from injuries suffered in a neat fatal hit and run (see Rogue), and has had a year that would have tested Job. Ike selected the location for the amenities it did not have like phone service so that Ruth can rest.

The suspicious death of Harmon Staley has natives begging Ike to help on their inquiry while Ruth fumes. His CIA buddy Charlie Garland who helped him on Ruth’s hit and run investigation tries to contact Ike who refuses to respond at a time unknown adversaries assassinate some of their former comrades with a Maine barrier island targeted next.

The latest Ike Schwartz thriller (see Secrets and Buffalo Mountain) is a superb tale from the opening bantering between the engaged couple until the final altercation in which Ruth rips skin from the CIA chief. With Scone island becoming Groucho’s cabin in a Night At the Opera as a horde including Ruth’s mom invade while the heroine insists they would have been better off in Vegas hiding in plain sight. Fans will enjoy this strong entry as Ike’s past arrives with an avaricious vengeance.

Harriet Klausner

Champagne: The Farewell- Janet Hubbard

Champagne: The Farewell

Janet Hubbard

Poisoned Pen, Aug 7 2012, $24.95

ISBN 9781464200793

NYPD detective Maxine Maguire flies to France to attend the wedding of family friend Chloe Marceau in Champagne, France. At the gala, Max meets and is attracted to older juge d’instruction Olivier Chaumont; he introduces her to Detective Abdel Zeroual. However, the nuptials are marred when at the wedding dinner someone murders Chloe’s fortyish widow Aunt Lea de Saint-Pern, the owner of a major vineyard.

A reluctant cop, Max plans to stay out of the homicide investigation that Olivier leads. However, she ends up getting involved when a second murder of a family member occurs. As she applies the sleuthing skills her dad Hank the legendary New York cop taught her, Max cleverly questions those in attendance only to find several suspects all tied to owning the vineyard.

The first French wine region mystery is an engaging whodunit starring an intriguing American with French blood from her mamam and police blood on her paternal side. Though the ending is abrupt yet fascinating, fans will toast Janet Hubbard with Champagne for an entertaining action-packed investigation.

Harriet Klausner

Dying Echo-Judy Clemens

Dying Echo

Judy Clemens

Poisoned Pen, Aug 7 2012, $24.95

ISBN 9781464200236

Ricky sits in jail accused of murdering his girlfriend waitress Alicia McManus. Attorney Don Winter notifies Ricky’s older sister Casey Maldonado. She, accompanied by her traveling companion Death, hitchhike home to prove Ricky is innocent as she firmly believes he could not kill anyone though the cops and the DA believe they have a perfect case.

On the way she begs Death take her to her late husband and baby once they solve the case. Death informs troubled Casey that when he took away Elizabeth Mann, Alicia’s real name, she alluded to the Three. Casey meets Eric Van Diepenbos, who offers to help her on her investigation. They along with Death look into the victim’s history only to find a top secret past.

The latest Grim Reaper mystery (see Embrace the Grim Reaper and Flowers for Her Grave) is a gender bending thriller as the hard-boiled heroine kicks butt while the male is her softer sidekick. The whodunit is fun and fans will feel the anguish of Ricky when she is not kicking butt. Although the attraction between Casey and Eric never seems plausible except as Batwoman and Robin and the final confrontation has too much chatter, fans of the series will enjoy meeting another member of the family.

Harriet Klausner

Shadows Before The Sun-Kelly Gay

Shadows Before The Sun

Kelly Gay

Pocket, Jul 31 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9781451625486

Atlanta police detective Charlie Madigan wants to get her partner Hank the siren released from the siren stronghold Fiallan where Circe tortures the prisoner. However, Charlie is stunned when she is informed that Hank was executed. Filled with denial, she vows to liberate Hank any way she can including using the power coming from being part of three races; though Charlie knows that her use of her talent brings Sachath ready to claim her in Death. Meanwhile mysterious Alessandra offers help again.

Charlie heads to heavenly Elysia with Fiallan just beyond. At the same time, jinn mob chieftain Grigori Tennin searches for the divine dormant Ahkneri. However, his actions awaken Ahkneri, which places Atlanta in peril.

The latest exhilarating Charlie Madigan urban fantasy has the heroine on another mission impossible rescue adventure (see The Hour of Dust and Ashes in which her sister is in peril in Charbydon). Filled with non-stop action, readers will appreciate this exciting thriller as Charlie risks all to save Hank who may not even be alive.

Harriet Klausner

The Map of the Sky-Felix J. Palma

The Map of the Sky

Felix J. Palma

Atria, Sep 4 2012, $26.00

ISBN: 9781451660319

In 1898 H. G. Wells, author of the War of the Worlds and The Time Machine meets with American author Garrett Serviss who wrote a sequel to the Martian science fiction novel starring Thomas Edison leading an earth invasion of Mars. Serviss informs Wells that he believes Martians are real and that he saw the ruin of a space ship and an alien found frozen six decades ago in Antarctica in the basement of the Natural History Museum. Though he has doubts, Wells decides to confirm the assertion. A drop of Wells’ blood rejuvenates the alien. The Messenger from space walks out of the museum as H.G. Wells. Others from his planet plan on total genocide and terraforming earth for their habituation.

New York socialite Emma Harlow accepts millionaire Montgomery Gilmore’s proposal if he meets her one stipulation. Though she is attracted to her wannabe fiancé, she demands he brighten up her otherwise mundane existence by recreating the War of the Worlds. Montgomery would do anything for the woman he loves especially with her marrying him on the line so he sets out to make a Martian invasion happen. All the players converge on the day Gilmore is supposed to make this invasion occur.

The second Wells’ transformation (see The Map of Time) is a fascinating historical science fiction thriller with three fully developed subplots starring full blooded characters who change as time goes by. Flashbacks are used to tell the present day scenario while also leading to a different ending than previously observed (sort of like the movie Clue). Filled with paradoxical twists Felix J. Palma pays homage to Wells with this engaging convoluted thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, July 27, 2012

All Afternoon with a Scandalous Marquess-Alexandra Hawkins

All Afternoon with a Scandalous Marquess

Alexandra Hawkins

St. Martin's, Jul 31 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9781250001375

In 1812 in Diphill Green, Catherine Deverall survived a horrid childhood filled with abuse and the sexual assault by her foster cousin Robert Royles when she was fifteen. Knowing her foster parents blame her, she fled for London, where she became a courtesan and five years later has become Madame Venna, the half-masked proprietress of the exclusive Golden Pearl brothel.

However, Madame Venna shares the most incredible night of her life with the Marquess of Sainthill, sinful Simon “Saint” Jefferes. Needing to get the Saint out of her blood, she sleeps around with his friend and other customers; while also dispatching employees to satiate the Saint’s needs.

The latest Lords of Vice Regency romance (see Sunrise with a Notorious Lord, Till Dawn with a Devil and All Night with a Rogue) is an entertaining historical with a unique spin. The actions of the two fascinating amoral protagonists are intriguing as each throws other bodies at each other to keep their distance. Though over the top of the Tower as no one will accept a permanent relationship can be forged between them even if they are in love; fans will enjoy the journey as the lead couple uses very wicked tricks to avoid that unwanted emotion.

Harriet Klausner

Almost A Scandal-Elizabeth Essex

Almost A Scandal

Elizabeth Essex

St. Martin's, Jul 31 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9781250003799

In 1805 Richard Kent dishonored his stunned family when he vanished rather than board the HMS Audacious in Portsmouth. To save the honor of her family his older sister Sally puts on the British Royal Navy uniform. She joins the crew of the Audacious as a midshipman. Sally loves sailing the High seas and being liberated from the rigid rules of polite society as she proves to be a super sailor.

Lieutenant David Colyear knows the Kent family having sailed with them over the years. He suspects something not quite right about Richard so he keeps an eye on the lad until Col realizes Richard is Sally. Col keeps it secret as he knows she is a superior sailor than most of the crew. However in sea battles with the Spanish and French navies, he becomes concerned for her safety and ready to batter a sailor for bullying her. As they fall in love amidst the war, neither is ready to deal with this undesirable feeling.

The first Reckless Brides Regency romance is a delightful high seas thriller as love and war merge. Fast-paced from the moment Sally becomes Richard, fans will enjoy the scandalous behavior of Sally as she is more comfortable in sea battles than in aristocratic balls.

Harriet Klausner

To The Grave-Carlene Thompson

To The Grave

Carlene Thompson

St. Martin's, Jul 31 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780312360757

Catherine Gray returns to Aurora Falls to establish her psychology practice. Her teenage unrequited love James Eastman has a legal practice in town. James met his troubled ex-wife Renée in New Orleans when he attended Tulane University law school. She left Aurora Falls three years ago without a warning; not a word since she departed.

Catherine shows her sister Melissa, James’ country estate where both are shocked to find Renée’s murdered corpse. They call the police who investigate the homicide while wondering why the victim came back to town and who someone wanted her dead. At the same time the cops make their inquiries, another homicide occurs, which leads Catherine to wonder if she is next on the killer’s queue.

This is an exciting romantic suspense with a strong murder mystery anchoring the engaging storyline. Although neither lead character nor any of the support players including the corpse comes across as fully developed, readers will want to know who killed Renée and why as the whodunit grips the audience from the start to the final confrontation.

Harriet Klausner

A Heartbeat Away-Harry Kraus

A Heartbeat Away

Harry Kraus

David C. Cook, Sept 1 2012, $14.99

ISBN: 9781434702579

Her peers and patients felt that top rate surgeon Dr. Victoria “Tori” Taylor is great in the OR, but lacked a heart; she is especially hard on support staff. Ironically, Tori receives a heart when she is the recipient of an emergency transplant.

Tori struggles to accept her new found feelings of commiserating with people rather than keeping her frozen professional distance. However, what disturbs Tori most is the recurring horrific nightmare of a murder. She wonders if her new heart is transmitting “cellular memories” from the donor. Obsessed with a need to uncover the identity of who killed her former heart’s owner, Tori and therapist Phin MacGregor investigate while the cops thinks she became unhinged by her near death experience except for one veteran. Meanwhile someone knows the surgeon and the therapist are searching for a killer.

This tense medical thriller grips readers on two levels as a strong murder mystery and a second chance at life redemption tale. The fast-paced storyline deftly merges medical technology with amateur sleuthing as a Tin Man-like heroine figuratively finds her heart.

Harriet Klausner

Trust Your Eyes-Linwood Barclay

Trust Your Eyes

Linwood Barclay

NAL, Sep 4 2012, $25.95

ISBN 9780451237903

Sexagenarian farmer Adam Kilbride dies in a tragic tractor accident. His son Ray an illustrator returns home to Promise Falls, New York for his dad’s funeral. With the death of his father, Ray’s biggest fear has arrived: how to take care of Thomas, his schizophrenic map savant brother.

Thomas lives on the Whirl360 website studying and memorizing layouts of cities so when the internet crashes, he will replicate them for the CIA. However, Thomas goes viral when he demands his older brother investigate a homicide he witnessed on the Whirl360 images of Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Reluctantly Adam agrees though he does not believing his sibling saw a murder of a woman on the net. However, a former cop and his ice pick henchwoman become aware of the pair’s inquiry. The Kilbride bothers are now part of their cleaning up a botched crime.

Trust Your Eyes is a gripping thriller that increasingly turns convoluted and violent. The storyline is fast-paced from the moment Thomas insists he witnessed a homicide over the web and never slows down as the reader anticipates a High Noon showdown on the mean streets of Manhattan between the sympathetic amateur sleuthing siblings and the vile vicious murdering duet.

Harriet Klausner

The Dead Women of Juárez-Sam Hawken

The Dead Women of Juárez

Sam Hawken

Serpent’s Tail, Sep 4 2012, $14.95

ISBN: 9781846687747

Texan Kelly Courter fought in the States as a welterweight. Now boxing on the other side of the border from El Paso in Ciudad Juárez, he is a middleweight but that is irrelevant as there is no weigh-ins before a bout; instead fighting south of the border is catch-all weight. He understands what the fans want is gringo blood and his face shows his comprehension.

Kelly is seeing Paloma, the sister of his friend drug dealer Estéban. At the same time, Mexican veteran police detective Rafael Sevilla investigates drug related violence in the border city that he believes is the factor behind the missing most likely dead women. Paloma joins the survivor’s family advocacy group, but soon afterward men take her away. Rafael and Kelly team up trying to rescue the latest victim by solving the serial disappearances and probably murders of The Dead Women of Juárez.

Based on the real tragedy of the shocking female homicide rate over the last two decades, The Dead Women of Juárez is an exciting hard-boiled thriller that that throws plenty of hooks and upper cuts in a violent crime thriller. The storyline initially focuses on the washed-up Texan before placing the weary detective in charge. Although the transition between them as lead is weak, fans will want to go the distance with both of them as Sam Hawken provides a strong gory tale.

Harriet Klausner

Ashes of Honor-Seanan McGuire

Ashes of Honor

Seanan McGuire

Daw, Sep 4 2012, $7.99

ISBN 9780756407490

One year has almost passed since October “Toby” Daye can claim a good night’s sleep as she suffers nightmarish reminders of who she lost rather than the country she gave up ruling. Her total focus is on doing her duties as mentor to her squire Quentin and detecting to pay her bills.

Etienne the knight retains Toby to find his changeling sixteen year old daughter Chelsea that he recently leaned he sired. He is worried for the safety of Faerie and his offspring as the untrained teleport leaps into long deserted sectors; which places the barriers that keep the realm secure at risk. As Toby, Quentin and Tybalt King of Cats search for Chelsea, an unknown adversary seeks her too and will assassinate any individual who gets in the way; at the same time Tybalt needs Toby’s help with trouble in the Court of Cats.

The latest October Daye urban fantasy (see One Salt Sea) is a terrific noirish thriller as the heroine and her companions set out to save a teen changeling, a world, and a kingdom. Readers will want to join Toby and her team as they traverse Faery on this fast-paced, action-filled tale with a strong twist re the consciences of the second order effect of magic.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Mad Lord’s Daughter-Jane Goodger

The Mad Lord’s Daughter

Jane Goodger

Zebra, Aug 7 2012, $6.99

ISBN: 9781420111521

In 1862 Melissa Atwell lived in isolation with her father the "Mad Lord of Northumberland" until his recent death. Melissa is stunned as she has no time to grieve her loss since her life as a recluse is over as her guardian her uncle Lord Braddock plans on introducing her to society; expecting his ward will find a proper husband. Braddock hires Miss Stanhope as Melissa’s chaperone.

He assigns his son John to help Melissa adjust to the Ton. John is attracted to Melissa and whenever he thinks of her marrying someone beside him he becomes agitated. Melissa is attracted to John and vows to marry him or no one. However, both know they can never wed though in love. At the same her late father’s secret that she is unaware of and he supposedly took to the grave with him begins to surface; if revealed she will return to rustic solitude as The Mad Lord’s Daughter.

This is an enticing Victorian romance starring two fabulous “fools in love”. The key to the engaging storyline is the secret that "Mad Lord of Northumberland" took to his grave (apparently not) as readers will want to know why Lord Atwill became a single dad hermit in Jane Goodger’s delightful historical romantic romp.

Harriet Klausner

A Woman Made For Pleasure-Michele Sinclair

A Woman Made For Pleasure

Michele Sinclair

Zebra, Aug 7 2012, $6.99

ISBN: 9781420126495

Having vowed to never marry, by 1816 Lady Millie Aldon loves excitement. She feels her childhood friend Marquis Chase Wentworth, who just returned to London after spending time in Spain, will provide her with plenty of stimulation as she senses he hides a secret that she plans to learn what it is.

While she clandestinely conducts surveillance of Chase, he steals a kiss from her, which has both reeling from the impact. As they fall in love, she reconsiders her non-marriage pledge and he thinks of his dangerous secret mission to uncover the murderous traitor who betrayed the crown and him in Spain. However, his attention towards Millie places his beloved in danger from his diabolical adversary. Instead of running from the peril, she thrives on the peril of their awesome adventure.

A Woman Made For Pleasure is a great regency romantic espionage thriller starring a dedicated “Spy Who Came In From The Cold” and a marvelous “Thoroughly Modern Millie”. Filled with danger, a great romance, and a thrilling late twist, fans will relish Michele Sinclair’s strong spy saga.

Harriet Klausner

Detroit Breakdown-D.E. Johnson

Detroit Breakdown

D.E. Johnson

Minotaur, Sep 4 2012, $25.99

ISBN: 9781250006622

In 1912 in the Detroit area, the caller informs Elizabeth Hume that her cousin Robert Clarke, a lifelong resident of the Eloise Insane Asylum is suspected of murdering another patient. Elizabeth tries to speak with her cousin, but is told no since Robbie is being kept in solitary confinement as this is the fourth person murdered by the Phantom using the “Punjab lasso”.

She asks her friend P. I Will Anderson to help. Elizabeth volunteers at the facility in order to prove her Robbie is innocent. Will pretends to suffer from amnesia so he is committed as a patient at Eloise Hospital. As the two along with Police Detective Riordan investigate the serial killings, Will learns what it is like to be a helpless patient with no champion to protect him from the abuse and abasement of the staff.

With a reminder of the need for vigilance to protect those most helpless (think of Willowbrook in the 1960s), Detroit Breakdown is a powerful dark historical noir. Fast-paced from the moment Will enters the asylum, readers will be shocked by the treatment he receives. The serial killer inquiry is superb, but it is the conditions at the Eloise Insane Asylum that grips the audience as D.E. Johnson provides another superb Anderson Motor City Shakedown (see Anderson Electric Car).

Harriet Klausner

L.A. Fadeaway-Jordon Okun

L.A. Fadeaway

Jordon Okun

Touchstone, Sep 11 2012, $15.00

ISBN: 9781451651980

In his early twenties, he was born with a gold spoon and a sense of entitlement as his parents gave him anything he wanted. His father being the head of a major talent agenct got him an entry level as position as a mail clerk at one of the most prominent talent agencies in Los Angeles. For following his elated dad into the business by adhering to his father’s master plan for him, he was given a home in Versailles, an unlimited credit card and a very expensive sports car.

However, he is far from happy as the pressure on him to succeed due to DNA mounts exponentially with every promotion. He uses Xanax, alcohol and marijuana like candy to stay calm. His current job is the assistant to Nick Rizzo, which means being 24/7 on call. He does whatever his boss tells him to do even unethical and potentially illegal things. When David Michaels fires Nick, he survives by transferring his loyalties to the former. David assigns him the task of signing up a client so he uses blackmail to accomplice the mission. A chip off the old amoral block, he will do anything to achieve his goals.

With a nod to Budd Schulberg’s What Makes Sammy Run?, L.A. Fadeaway is a fascinating character study of an unlikable but charismatic individual, whose ambition and his sense of entitlement enables him to stomp on anyone in his way. The nameless narrator makes the tale as a contemporary Sammy Glick who has no compunctions about his place as numero uno in the Hollywood celestial universe.

Harriet Klausner

Hearts Of Darkness-Kira Brady

Hearts Of Darkness

Kira Brady

Zebra, Aug 7 2012, $6.99

ISBN: 9781420124569

Norgard assigns Hart the mercenary werewolf to obtain a necklace. He watches the grieving human, alleged wearer of the necklace when Hart notices the ancient adversaries nearby. He muses over the bloody war between the self-proclaimed human protectors Kivati and the Drekar while detesting both sides but feeling the latter are honest in what they want.

Nurse Kayla Friday flies from Philadelphia to Seattle to identify the body in the morgue; her pregnant sister Desi lies dead on the slab. Stunned Kayla begins to do something that has Hart warning her to stop before she dies. He demands she give him the necklace he claims she stole from his employer while shocked that she is human. Hart finds the card of nasty Kivati Raven Lord Emory Corbette amongst Desi’s final possessions. He tells her to run back to Pennsylvania, but his advice proves too late when Rudrick and his thugs enter the morgue. Soon they are teaming up investigating her sibling’s murder, seeking the necklace and falling in an uneasy love that shakes the Aether.

This is an exciting romantic urban fantasy that has a horde of diverse paranormal running wild in the streets of Seattle. Fast-paced, sub-genre fans will enjoy this thriller from the moment Hart tells Kayla to run and never slows down to even a walk as Kira Brady provides a fabulous first act.

Harriet Klausner

Darksiders: The Abomination Vault-Ari Marmell

Darksiders: The Abomination Vault

Ari Marmell

Del Rey, Jul 24 2012, $15.00

ISBN: 9780345534026

They seek what is inside the Abomination Vault left behind by the Nephilim. If they achieve their objective they will have at their disposal weapons of universal destruction that will end the fragile cold war peace between Heaven and Hell.

The only surviving Nephilim are the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Death recognizes the threat to the universe from the shadows. With memories of what happened when his species committed all types of atrocities, he and his brother horseman War set out to prevent the raiding of the Abomination Vault; knowing failure is not an option.

This is an entertaining companion prequel piece to the Darksiders and Darksiders II games. Part of the fun is comparing the personalities of Death and War as the former prefers stealth sniper while the latter is more an infantry charging the hill. Although Death's barrage of amusing asides detract from the tension as at times he acts more like the Grim Reaper in Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey than a horseman assigned to prevent the end of days war, fantasy fans (not just gamesters) will enjoy the two Horsemen riding ironically to stop the Apocalypse from happening.

Harriet Klausner

Thirteen-Kelley Armstrong


Kelley Armstrong

Dutton, Jul 24 2012, $26.95

ISBN: 9780525952831

The barriers that separate dimensions rapidly are vanishing. Creatures no one has seen before have crossed over to earth as the Supernatural Liberation Movement has used their powers to batter the earth and shake Otherworld.

Investigator Savannah Levine still lacks her witch powers, but knows she must be there with her friends when the confrontation occurs. She needs to be with them though she knows she risks her life and that some of her loved ones will surely die. She joins with the man she wants as her lover Adam, her guardians; her two siblings (one of whom she recently rescued from the SLM) and others to defend earth from within and from the paranormal invaders who no one knows how to defeat. War as perhaps not seen in eternity has descended on earth

The final Women of the Otherworld is a great finish to a strong urban fantasy saga. The storyline is fast-paced while bringing to full circle the series starting with repeating the first chapter of the opening act (see Bitten) in a fabulous good and evil confrontation. Though it is preferably better to have read the entire series to see how far the Women of the Otherworld have changed over the years; at a minimum newcomers should read the previous two entries (see Waking the Witch and Spellbound) that lead directly to Savannah’s maturing into a responsible caring adult. Kelly Armstrong provides great final act to a wonderful long running show though fans will want curtain calls.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Sneaky Pie For President-Rita Mae Brown and Sneaky Pie Brown

Sneaky Pie For President

Rita Mae Brown and Sneaky Pie Brown

Bantam, Aug 7 2012, $26.00

ISBN: 9780345530462

The title says it all as Sneaky Pie Brown adopted by Rita Mae Brown is tired of the humans destroying earth and harming the non Homo sapiens population with their chemicals. Like any caring politician, Sneaky Poe listens to his constituency (consisting of the creatures on land, in water and in the air) for their concerns. The woodpecker dines on bugs, but the sprays kill their food. Others agree that pesticides must be banned. Fish state that the humans must end their polluting of the waters and land animals decry the hunter stalking mentality to claim a trophy. Sneaky Pie even gains the support of the rodent population as the non-humans rally behind their feline candidate.

Her friends (Pewter the gray cat, Tee Tucker the Corgi, and Tally the Jack Russell) support her bid because they believe that if Sneaky is president she can end the human destruction and make the world a better place. With a nod to Furry Vengeance and Animal Farm, fans will enjoy Sneaky Pie for President as she and her buddies make her case in this cautionary anthropomorphic tail.

Harriet Klausner

Simply Voracious-Kate Pearce

Simply Voracious

Kate Pearce

Kensington Aphrodisia, Jul 31 2012, $14.00

ISBN: 978-0758269461

In 1826 London, Jeremy sexually assaults Lucinda “Lucky” Haymore. Her friend Emily Ross takes her to her stepmother notorious owner of the Pleasure House Madame Helene Delornay. Lucky sees compassion in Helene’s eyes as the older woman says the animal will try to blackmail her and her ducal family into forcing her to marry him or face scandal.

Jeremy threatens Lucky if she fails to marry him. Her best friend Paul St. Clare offers to wed Lucky though he has no plans to end his tryst with Lieutenan. Colonel Constantine Delinsky. However, he also wants Lucky in his bed so proposes a ménage a trois. Meanwhile a raging Jeremy plots to expose the trio.

The latest House of Pleasure (see Simply Carnal and Simply Forbidden) is once again simply a pleasurable historical. The cast, especially the FMF triangle, is fully developed except for one trick Jeremy. Though the storyline is thin, Lucky, Paul and Constantine provide readers with an enjoyable post Regency erotica.

Harriet Klausner

Naked Games-Anne Rainey

Naked Games

Anne Rainey

Kensington Aphrodisia, Jul 31 2012, $14.00

ISBN: 9780758269034

Two months ago Catherine Michaels’ fiftyish parents died in a horrible car crash. Now family friend Dr. Cabel informs a grieving Catherine that she was adopted. She and her BFF Mary go through documents until they find a letter from Catherine’s biological mother thanking the Michaels. Catherine also learns from that note that she has an older sister Gracie Baron in Zanesville, Ohio.

Six weeks and several emails later, a scared Catherine visits Gracie (see So Sensitive). The latter introduces her visiting sister to her fiancé Wade Harrison and his younger brother Dean who accepts she is a lost sister of Gracie but also thinks Catherine is a con artist, which upsets him because he is attracted to her. Soon afterward Wade’s twin sister Deanna and her boyfriend Jonas (see Pleasure Bound) arrive. Dean and Catherine cannot resist their need so begin a boudoir BDSM tryst, but he remains wary about her motive for coming to Ohio,

The sisters’ subplot enhances a strong erotica as Dean and Catherine fall in love, but he still looks for her angle while she has doubts about relationships after feeling her late parents failed to tell her the truth. Fast-paced, fans will relish returning to Zanesville, Ohio, the BDSM capital of the world.

Harriet Klausner

Low Pressure-Sandra Brown

Low Pressure

Sandra Brown

Grand Central, Sep 18 2012, $26.99

ISBN 9781455501557

Bellamy Price never moved passed the murder of her sister Susan Lyston in Austen though almost two decades have passed. Now thirtyish the troubled Bellamy writes a novel under a pseudonym based on the homicide as a means of closure. Low Pressure becomes a best seller and Bellamy is exposed as the actual author.

Many people involved in Susan’s life become angry at Bellamy for opening up wounds. Susan’s boyfriend pilot Denton Carter is especially livid as he was at one time the prime suspect, but had a perfect alibi to exonerate him. Also upset is violent Ray Strickland, whose brother Allen was convicted of the homicide and eventually murdered in prison; he blames Susan for his sibling’s death. When an unknown adversary trashes her house and attacks Bellamy and Dent, they team up to investigate who is retaliating for her book and why he is a target too. Dent also believes Bellamy’s suppressed memory of what happened on that fatal night before the tornado destroyed the murder scene is the key.

This is an exhilarating romantic suspense starring three interesting flawed individuals tied together by the late Susan as each has weaknesses (though sociopathic violent Ray would deny it after hammering your head with an object). The romantic subplot enhances the mystery by adding tension to an already taut situation. Action-packed, fans will appreciate Sandra Brown’s Low Pressure

Harriet Klausner

Dead Anyway- Chris Knopf

Dead Anyway

Chris Knopf

Permanent Press, Sep 15 2012, $28.00

ISBN: 9781579622831

In Stamford, Connecticut, market researcher Arthur Cathcart returns home only to be greeted by a horrific sight. A stranger has a gun aimed at his wife Florencia’s head. He demands she sing a document. Once she does he executes Arthur and Florencia.

Florencia dies while Arthur is in a coma. Several months later he awakens. With the help of his sister a doctor, Arthur is declared dead so that he can obtain a new identity, which he learns is not as easy as TV claims. Still, his objective to learn who and why keeps him focused as revenge may be a dish served cold but tasty when the goal is left even colder.

The key to this powerful thriller is the difficulty Arthur finds in reinventing himself if he wants to function in a way that enables him to complete his life mission. Though his sibling’s medical occupation is too convenient, the spellbinding storyline is fast-paced but character driven by an obsessed Arthur who will do anything to kill his killer; which means entering the lethal world of professional hit-men and organized crime.

Harriet Klausner

Luther: The Calling-Neil Cross

Luther: The Calling

Neil Cross

Touchstone, Sep 4 2012, $25.00

ISBN 9781451673098

In London, the killer mutilated the bodies of Tom and Sarah Lambert before removing an eight-and-a-half-month-old fetus from the womb of the female victim. The assignment to find the infant goes to Scotland Yard Detective Chief Inspector John Luther, who is the best at apprehending killers though he increasingly acts unstable.

Already suffering from OCD and a failing marriage as his wife believes he is wedded to homicide cases; John knows the priority is to rescue the baby who hopefully lives. Filled with rage after years of unending battles with psychopaths, Luther vows to do anything to save the baby as time is running out. He also pledges to himself if he finds infanticide has occurred Luther painfully will kill the SOB.

This is an intriguing look at the case that drove the London cop over the edge mentally. The storyline is fast-paced, but does not quite capture the intense anger of the TV show or what led him to the precipice. Still this is an exciting police procedural as Luther will do anything necessary to save a life.

Harriet Klausner

A Wanted Man-Lee Child

A Wanted Man

Lee Child

Delacorte, Sep 11 2012, $28.00

ISBN: 9780385344333

On an eastbound Nebraska highway Jack Reacher seeks a ride that will take him to Omaha or Lincoln where he can ride a bus to Virginia. Two men (Alan King and Don McQueen) and a woman (Karen Delfuenso) pick him up; his goal is Virginia as soon as possible. In the other direction at a gas station is the corpse of a man who was professionally murdered.

County Sheriff Victor Goodman calls the FBI in Omaha who claim jurisdiction and leave with the body while a roadblock is set up to find the two men. The vehicle with Reacher manages to get around the roadblock and soon enters Iowa. FBI Agent Julie Sorenson leads the pursuit at the same time Jack realizes that Karen is not part of a trio but unsure why she is with this male duo.

Continuing Reacher’s journey to Virginia (see 61 Hours and Worth Dying For), A Wanted Man is an exciting twisting thriller as the former military cop learns moms are right about hitching a ride. Though over the top of Panorama Point, fast-paced throughout this is an exciting Reacher tale as his biggest fear is being trapped in a motel in Kansas.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Caravan of Thieves-David Rich

Caravan of Thieves

David Rich

Dutton, Aug 30 2012, $25.95

ISBN: 9780525952886

After going undercover in Afghanistan, U.S. Marine Lenten Rollie Waters returns to his home station Camp Pendleton, California. While driving his jeep, two men shoot the window. Rollie forces them off the road. However, the brass claims he drove while under the influence and declare he went AWOL before tossing him in the brig.

Knowing the charges are false but aware that means nada, Rollie kind of expects what the CO wants from him. Thus he is not surprised when his superior officer orders Rollie to find his con artist father Dan and recover the millions his dad stole from the loot taken from Saddam Hussein during the 2003 invasion of Baghdad. To locate his father, Rollie must separate the needle of truth from the haystack of deceptions.

This is a powerful thriller starring two fabulous antagonists sharing DNA. The storyline is filled with stunning twists inside of an exciting investigation. The key to this enjoyable suspense is the deep psychological look at the dysfunctional relationship between a law abiding young man and his felonious undependable father.

Harriet Klausner

Gone-Randy Wayne White


Randy Wayne White

Putnam, Sep 4 2012, $25.95

ISBN: 9780399158490

In Florida, the squall sent strong fisherwoman Hannah Smith hustling her two wealthy clients to safety though Lawrence Seasons questions how she takes him and his companion New York attorney Martha Calder-Shaun to safety. Mr. Seasons asks Hannah to meet with him for lunch to discuss a case involving the other work she “inherited” from her late uncle. He says his niece Olivia sort of disappeared as none of her family knows where she is though she calls every two weeks to the executor’s office as required by her trust. When Hannah asks what if his niece does not want to be found by him; he responds if she signs one legal document she gains control of $90 million. Finally Mr. Sessions explains he believes Olivia is living on a boat off the west Florida coast.

Though no longer a sleuth as that line of work failed to pay the bills and is normally boring, Hannah agrees to search for the missing niece as her fishing client makes an offer she cannot refuse; besides her strong sense of right coaxes her to insure Olivia is okay. She begins her search for Olivia finding clues that make Hannah wonder if the heiress was not voluntarily hiding.

With Doc Ford taking a respite though referred to, fans will appreciate tall, big and strong Hannah as she proves she is a super fishing guide and a not by the book investigator. She makes the storyline work though the support cast adds depth with diversity. Fans will enjoy Hannah making waves as she intimidates people with her size and her take no prisoners attitude while searching for the missing heiress.

Harriet Klausner

Death Of A Neighborhood Witch-Laura Levine

Death Of A Neighborhood Witch

Laura Levine

Kensington, Aug 28 2012, $24.00

ISBN 9780758238498

Freelance writer Jaine Austen lives in the slums of Beverly Hills amongst retirees. However, though logically she knows not to buy Halloween candy as no one goes trick or treating in her neighbor, the chocolates talk to her so she stocks up.

A hunk Peter Connor the book editor moves next door. Jaine thinks he will prove better than sugared candy (well almost as good); while her cat Prozac seems attracted to him; and shoe salesman Lance Venable challenges her for Peter’s affection. As Jaine and Lance compete for Peter, even acrimonious former TV monster mommy actress Cryptessa Muldoon is nice to the new kid on the block. When Prozac gives Cryptessa’s parakeet Van Helsing a heart attack, she tells Jaine see you in small claims court. Soon afterward, on Halloween, someone bludgeons Cryptessa with her own Do Not Trespass sign. VHPD looks at Jaine as the prime suspect.

The latest humorous Jaine Austen amateur sleuth (see Last Writes and Pampered to Death) is an enjoyable lighthearted cozy that lampoons fan obsession with where are they now Hollywood has-beens. Fast-paced, Jaine has two critical issues to confront: first finding the real killer and second not chomping on all the candy she bought that talks to her seductively saying softly “eat me”.

Harriet Klausner

Imitation of Death-Cheryl Crane

Imitation of Death

Cheryl Crane

Kensington, Aug 28 2012, $25.00

ISBN 9780758258885

Spoiled abusive Eddie Bernard, son of a major TV producer, is found murdered in a dumpster in an alley near the Beverly Hills mansion of legendary superstar actress Victoria Bordeaux. The killer stabbed Eddie in the chest with pruning shears belonging to the Bordeaux gardener Jorge Delgado.

Victoria’s realtor daughter Nikki Harper knows her friend quick-tempered Jorge would not murder even an obnoxious a-hole like Eddie. Though she admits to herself the evidence is very strong as, besides the murder weapon belonging to Jorge, Nikki witnessed a public argument between the pair in Victoria’s driveway with Eddie holding a gun. Though her last sleuthing effort (see The Bad Always Die Twice) was a near disaster, Nikki uses her DNA connection to investigate the homicide at the same time the media howls for the death penalty.

The second Nikki Harper Mystery is a lighthearted fun amateur sleuth as the heroine uses her pedigree to meet a horde of suspects who wanted Bernard dead. Her relationship with her mother brings humor to an entertaining whodunit as Cheryl Crane lampoons celebrity status in an engaging investigation.

Harriet Klausner

Murder of the Cat’s Meow-Denise Swanson

Murder of the Cat’s Meow

Denise Swanson

Obsidian, Sep 4 2012, $7.99

ISBN 9780451237811

In Scumble River, Illinois, the previous occupant the late Mrs. Griggs breaks Skye Denison’s Grandma Leonfanti’s cookie jar. The frustrated school psychologist and police consultant warns the ghost to stop her haunting or else her fiancé Police Chief Wally Boyd will not move in with her as most incidents occur when he is in the house.

Wally attends a police chief certification program in Springfield. Frannie calls Skye from Bunny Lanes with an emergency. Skye rushes over to the bowling alley owned by former Vegas dancer Bunny Reid. There she sees Elijah Jacobson dangling Alexis Hightower in the air using one hand on her throat while cuddling his cat Princess with his other hand. Bunny intercedes and accidently hammers Skye instead of Elijah. An injured Skye learns that Bunny, Frannie and computer expert Justin started a matchmaking web site CupidsCatsMeow.com in which almost exclusively cat lovers joined. Thus they host a cat show with Alexis as the judge combined with speed dating for the pet owners. Not long afterward the obnoxious judge is found dead in the bowling alley basement.

The return to Scumble River (see Murder of a Creped Suzette) is an amusing madcap cozy starring an intrepid heroine who muses how she became the center of craziness and a strong quirky support cast; especially wherever Bunny steps, trouble follows. The humorous storyline contains several other supporting zany subplots, but the prime tale centers on investigating the case of death by a cat toy.

Harriet Klausner

Rift-Andrea Cremer


Andrea Cremer

Philomel, Aug 7 2012, $18.99

ISBN: 9780399256134

In 1404 in the Scottish Highlands, family friend Guard Alistair Hart arrives to collect a debt Lord Morrow owes to his group Conatus. To pay for healing his wife, Morrow hands over his sixteen year old daughter Ember to Hart who escorts her to where she will be trained as a Guard swordswoman working for Conatus.

Ember always enjoyed swords as her stuffed kirtle recently learned; so she relishes that aspect of her training. She also begins to learn about magic and the darkness taking over the world. Her teacher brooding Barrow Hess demands more and more of her as he seems never satisfied with her accomplishments. Though Ember wishes he would encourage her, she falls in love with her mentor. However, evidence mounts that one of the Conatus leaders Eira deploys dark magic. Ember and Barrow know they need to destroy her and her followers though the temptation is to join Eira in the nether realm.

The prequel to the Nightshade Trilogy is an entertaining alternate historical fantasy that focuses on the rise of the Keepers even keeping the expected romance limited. Ember is a superb protagonist who is a strong person able to team with others or go solo; she makes the storyline fun to read. Although fans of the saga know the ultimate outcome a few centuries into the future, young adult readers will enjoy the chronicle of how it all began for the Keepers.

Harriet Klausner

Clean-Alex Hughes


Alex Hughes

Roc, Sep 4 2012, $7.99

ISBN 9780451464750

The Tech Wars destruction changed the social order as normal humans avoid telepaths. He seconds the motion as distance enables him to stay away from hearing the Mindspace thoughts of everyone nearby. The Telepaths’ Guild exiled him allegedly due to his addiction to Satin, but he believes they, like the humans, distrust him though he has been clean for three years.

The eighth level telepath works for the DeKalb County Police Department where the brass always makes sure a normal “baby-sitter” accompanies him to insure he does not break the rules of telepathic use on a subject. He and his partner Detective Isabella Cherabino investigate a case going nowhere. Six bodies have been found in two months with no apparent link. Thus Captain Paulson hopes the telepath can find clues in Mindspace. Recognizing he is Cherabino’s pet monkey performing Mindspace tricks, he finds a connection to the Telepaths’ Guild and sees a vision of the next victim: him.

The nameless telepathic detective brings to life an alternate Atlanta just after the Tech Wars. He and Cherabino work the investigation that their superior says is not a serial killer case while also providing insight into each of their backgrounds without intruding on the whodunit. Unequal partners, he accepts his second class citizen as a way of life while she struggles with hyperactivity when not in the field. Filled with a great late twist, the first Mindspace Investigations urban fantasy police procedural is a super mystery starring two wonderful protagonists.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, July 23, 2012

The King’s Damsel-Kate Emerson

The King’s Damsel

Kate Emerson

Gallery, Aug 7 2012, $16.00

ISBN 9781451661491

In 1525 Glastonbury, thirteen years old heiress Thomasine Lodge mourns the losses of her father Sir Arthur from a fever and her brother Stephen in a hunting accident. A letter arrives from a stranger, Sir Lionel Daggett who claims he is her legal guardian. A stunned Thomasine and her gentle stepmother Blanche meet with him as he explains he purchased her guardianship from King Henry VIII.

Sir Lionel assigns his ward as a Lady-In-Waiting to Princess Mary as a means to get inside the court where he orders her to become the monarch’s mistress. She disobeys his command as she has no desire to help the ambitious amoral Sir Lionel gain insider advantages though she ends up in the Anne Boleyn’s circle where she learns of the personal advantages of becoming the King’s Damsel.

Based on a 1534 letter, this is an engaging Tudor historical fiction that brings to life the insider machinations during the 1520s and 1530s reign of Henry VIII. Thomasine proves to be a strong protagonist who seems real as she more than just survives the intrigue of a court in which innuendoes lead to executions. Although the romantic subplot feels out of place as the heroine learns lessons in manipulating others and surviving the manipulation by the same others. Still fans of Kate Emerson’s Secrets of the Tudor Court will enjoy her latest sixteenth century thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Stranger in the Room-Amanda Kyle Williams

Stranger in the Room

Amanda Kyle Williams

Bantam, Aug 21 2012, $26.00

ISBN: 9780553808087

Private investigator and former FBI profiler Keye Street and Atlanta Police Department Lieutenant Aaron Rauser look forward to a restful Fourth of July weekend together. However, this being hot Atlanta, a respite over a holiday weekend proves impossible. Aaron Rauser investigates the strangling death of a teenage boy while Keye tries to persuading her emotionally damaged relative Miki that no one entered her home or stalks her.

Keye and her computer genius Neil head to Creeklaw County to work on a chicken feed crematorium case. When a second murder in Atlanta involving the hanging of an elderly man occurs Keye offers profile services to Aaron while both look into Miki’s frightened accusations.

The second Keye Street investigative thriller (see The Stranger You Seek) is a terrific tale as the heroine works her cases and helps Aaron with his. They team up on Miki’s assertion as both realize sometimes there can be someone chasing after a drug-addled paranoid while the crematorium subplot will remind Atlanta readers of the Tri-State Crematory scandal. Fans will enjoy this exciting Hotlanta regional mystery.

Harriet Klausner

Bones Are Forever-Kathy Reichs

Bones Are Forever

Kathy Reichs

Scribner, Aug 28 2012, $26.00

ISBN: 9781439102435

In Montreal, Amy Roberts arrives at the Honore Mercier ER suffering from vagina bleeding. Dr. Kutchemeshgi realizes the disoriented woman recently gave birth, but is distracted by an influx of victims from a car pile-up. Amy leaves. Kutchemeshgi calls Surete du Quebec. Homicide Lieutenant Detective Andrew Ryan goes to the address Roberts gave to the hospital. She had used the name Alma Rogers at the apartment house, but is obviously gone. With forensic anthologist Temperance Brennan and several cops they search for proof of the baby. They find the remains of one in the bath; a second decomposed in the window seat and pepper the dog finds the third in a closet. Ralph Trees arrives for paid sex with Alva Rodriguez who apparently fled to Edmonton.

Joining Andrew and Tempe on the case is Royal Canadian Mounted Police Sergeant Ollie Hasty, who had a fling with the latter just after her divorce. They head to Edmonton where they find a fourth newborn corpse. The trio pursues the mother who heads to Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories unprepared for what awaits them as diamonds are not a girl’s best friend.

The latest Temperance Brennan forensic police procedural (see Flash and Bones) is an exhilarating thriller in which the three investigators follow the horrible infanticide trail. This case especially haunts Tempe whose son died at three from leukemia. The relational triangle is a bit too coincidental, but adds tension to the storyline as the two men compete in different ways to claim Tempe who wishes both would tone down the testosterone. Fast-paced from the onset, series fans will appreciate this chilling tale.

Harriet Klausner

The Devil’s Madonna-Sharon Potts

The Devil’s Madonna

Sharon Potts

Oceanview, Sep 4 2012. $25.95

ISBN 9781608090495

In Miami, pregnant artist Kali Miller and her husband Seth dine at his parents’ home when the hospital calls her. To her dismay, her beloved nonagenarian Austrian grandma Lillian Campbell almost burned down her house.

Kali questions Lillian about her mom’s death and her grandma’s life in 1930s Austria and Berlin, and the death However, the response is a shocker as her grandma seems paranoid, psychotically frightened and withdrawn while insisting someone from seven decades ago has found her. Wondering what is going on, Kali fears she has a stalker though she cannot figure out whom or why. At the same time she searches for a small painting buried somewhere in Lillian’s house that is the key to the mystery.

This exciting thriller grips the audience with a need to know from the moment we meet grandma and never slows down until the final twisting confrontation that ties 1930s Berlin with present day Miami. Although over the top of the Austrian Alps, readers will enjoy this aptly titled entertaining chiller.

Harriet Klausner

Far North-Michael Ridpath

Far North

Michael Ridpath

Minotaur, Aug 7 2012, $25.99

ISBN: 9780312675042

In 2009 during the pots-and-pans revolution, unemployed banker Harpa Einarsdóttir accidentally kills her former boss Gabriel Örn. Several months later in London, someone shoots to death Icelandic banker Óskar Gunnarsson, who was under investigation for fraud. Other assassinations follow.

On loan to the Icelandic police because of his family’s roots, Boston PD detective Magnus Jonson is assigned to the inquiry into Gunnarrsson’s murder. He seeks a link between that death and the accidental death of Örn. However, the murder of his Icelandic expatriate father several years ago in Boston still disturbs Magnus who is unaware that the tie to his dad’s killing goes back to 1934 with what two young boys witnessed.

The financial meltdown in Iceland serves as the impetus for an exhilarating police procedural (see Where the Shadows Lie) as a nation of 300,000 suspects exist with rage against the banking elite. The investigation to excellent while Magnus works the case but struggles with what happened to his dad as he has never found closure. Readers will relish this strong Icelandic whodunit as the cops, who lost big time to the crisis, sympathize with the vigilante.

Harriet Klausner

Sherlock Holmes: The Army of Doctor Moreau-Guy Adams

Sherlock Holmes: The Army of Doctor Moreau

Guy Adams

Titan Books, Aug 7 2012, $12.95

ISBN: 9780857689337

After lecturing his brother for living up a flight of stairs, Mycroft Holmes tells Sherlock and Dr. Watson that defrocked genius Dr. Charles Moreau was funded by the Crown to look into evolution after he had been exposed as an insane vivisectionist. Several years ago Moreau vanished. Recently London has been attacked by wild beasts in which Mycroft believes the culprits come from Moreau’s lab; so he tasks his sibling to find Moreau before matters turn uglier.

Holmes and Watson investigate the deaths, which supports Mycroft’s theory re Moreau’s beasts. As they follow clues that lead to the Rotherhithe neighborhood, a raging Moreau vows to punish the scientific community and the Crown for scorning him by releasing his horde of Beast Men on them.

This is a superb Holmes mystery (see Sherlock Holmes: The Breath of God) as Guy Adams has the great detective go up against H.G. Wells’ Army of Dr, Moreau. Part of the fun is the appearances by other noted Victorian era characters from Arthur Conan Doyle, Jules Verne and Wells. The sleuthing is top rate as fans anticipate a confrontation or more between Holmes and the Beast Men.

Harriet Klausner

Münster's Case-Håkan Nesser

Münster's Case

Håkan Nesser

Pantheon, Aug 7 2012, $25.95

ISBN: 9780307906861

In Sweden, the four retirees (Leverkuhn, Waulers, Palinski and Bonger) win equal shares of the lottery prize of 20,000 guilders. Septuagenarian Leverkuhn knows his 5,000 will not pay for anything as he muses what an old grump he has become as he has no idea what he wants to do with his portion. His partners persuade him to join them as they celebrate at Capernaum. Before he leaves he fails to tell his wife of several decades Marie-Louise that he won some money and that he was celebrating with the guys.

Leverkuhn comes home intoxicated but before falling asleep he notices his spouse is not home. He never wakes up as someone stabs him twenty-eight times with a carving knife. With Inspector Van Veeteren retired, his top gun Intendent Münster leads the investigation in which the wife is the most likely suspect. The case seems closed when she confesses, but anomalies exist when one of the partners vanish and a neighbor his butchered.

The latest Inspector Van Veeteren mystery (see The Inspector And Silence, Mind's Eye and Woman with a Birthmark) is a great Swedish police procedural as the now misnamed series passes the torch to the next generation. Part of the fun is Münster’s amusing asides, which accentuate his personality differs from his former boss. With a great late twist, Münster’s Case is a fabulous investigative thriller as he proves he can be the lead protagonist.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Johnny Hiro (Half Asian, All Hero)-Fred Chao

Johnny Hiro (Half Asian, All Hero)

Fred Chao

Tor, Jul 17 2012, $16.99

ISBN: 9780765329370

In Brooklyn, Johnny Hiro lives with his Pollyanna girlfriend Mayumi while he works across the Bay as a busboy in a Lower East Side sushi restaurant owned by Chef Masago; she accepts her role is that of the pretty sidekick GF to the hero. One night while they are sleeping, Gozadilla the monster that destroyed Tokyo crashes through their paper thin apartment wall seeking vengeance against Mayumi’s mom who was a limb of giant Super A-OK Robot that kicked his butt. However, Johnny has experience battling urban blight waiters demanding greater tips for inadequate service or samurai carrying businessmen. Thus Johnny ruining Mayumi’s bunny slippers leaps in a single bound at the humongous lizard hoping his reflexes keep him from an extended hospital stay as he lacks insurance. Thank goodness for Mayor Bloomberg or Johnny would not be there to play catch with a gigantic tuna, battling sushi ninja, arguing the law with Judge Judy in Night Court and dealing with the government failure to bail out that critical too big to fail capitalist industry, high heels; all part of everyday living in New York City.

This graphic version of the award winning Johnny Hiro survivor of New York City comic books showcases the amusing satirical adventures of a young man trying to make it in a city that never sleeps (as Gozadilla proves). The entries are fast-paced short clips with the B&W drawings lampooning the misadventures of the working class couple as nothing is sacred when it comes to life in the boroughs.

Harriet Klausner

What Happened to My Sister-Elizabeth Flock

What Happened to My Sister

Elizabeth Flock

Ballantine, Aug 7 2012, $15.00

ISBN: 9780345524430

Nine year old Caroline “Carrie” Parker kills her abusive stepfather (see Me & Emma). She and her alcoholic mom Libby flee from their small North Carolina town. However, her mother emphatically tells her never mention Emma who has kept Carrie feeling pretty good about herself. Confused Carrie begins to wonder if her younger sister Emma, who recently vanished, exists as her mom insists she has no other daughter.

In Hartsville, while Carrie’s mom drinks and entertains men, the tweener searches for food. On one of her treks, she meets Cricket Ford and the girl’s mother Honor. Stunned by how much Carrie looks like her dead daughter, Honor wonders why she never sees the obviously neglected child with her mother.

The sequel to Me & Emma is an exciting thriller that focuses on survival techniques by victims of domestic abuse. Fast-paced but filled with way to much happenchance, the storyline rotates viewpoint between the neglected and abused tweener and to a lesser degree Honor while readers will wonder whether Emma is Carrie’s imaginary sister helping her live through her young ordeal or a real person.

Harriet Klausner

A Hundred Flowers-Gail Tsukiyama

A Hundred Flowers

Gail Tsukiyama

St. Martin’s, Aug 7 2012, $24.99

ISBN 9780312274818

In 1957, Chairman Mao proclaimed “Let a hundred flowers bloom; let a hundred schools of thought contend.” However, he failed to explain the unacceptable critiquing of the Party. Within one year of his declaration for open dialogue, the Communist party continues to round up the outspoken dissenters.

The police take history teacher Sheng Ying to a reeducation camp. His family is devastated by their loss of a loved one and on the economic impact of their new pariah status compounded by the incarceration of the breadwinner. His wife herbalist Kai Ying, their son Tao, his family friend Aunty Song, and his father art history professor Wei struggle with what has happened to Sheng. The adults try to hide the truth from Tao, but he learns about his father’s fate from taunting students at school. His grandfather admits his role in what occurred; further tearing apart a grieving frightened family.

This historical thriller is a great character study of a Chinese family caught up in Mao’s latest revolution. The perspective of life following a government sponsored rendition of a loved one is rotated between each member so that their fears and their interrelationships are fully developed yet also evolve since the abduction effects how each feel towards one another. Although there is no action, readers will appreciate the ordeal of a family and friends during the Hundred Flowers Campaign that challenged millennium of Chinese philosophy by going after the intellectuals.

Harriet Klausner

The Stars Shine Bright-Sibella Giorello

The Stars Shine Bright

Sibella Giorello

Thomas Nelson, Jul 17 2012, $15.99

ISBN: 9781595545367

FBI forensic geologist agent Raleigh Harmon returns to the Seattle office after being suspended without pay for stealing potential evidence (without a warrant) while on an Alaskan cruise ship with her mom (see The Mountains Bow Down). Her boss back in the Richmond office Victoria Phaup, who disciplinary reassigned her to Seattle, wants Office of Professional Responsibility to suspend her for six months before terminating her; instead with the local SAC’s approval her Seattle boss Allen McLeod assigns her to go undercover as the niece of an affluent racing horse owner, octogenarian Eleanor Anderson who claims races are being fixed at Emerald Meadows. Her case agent is Jack Stephanson who reported her illegal activity to OPR.

However as Eleanor shows her niece Raleigh David the ropes, more than just fixed races in which winning thoroughbreds lose occur. Soon some of the horses die. At the same time she worries about her mom who had a nervous breakdown on the cruise and reconsiders whether she wants to marry her controlling Virginia fiancé. Still in spite of knowing she is her family’s breadwinner, Raleigh once again crosses the line of procedue to prevent further killing of horses.

The latest Raleigh Harmon FBI investigation is a terrific undercover thriller in which the protagonist risks her career which is already in peril at a time she needs income to support her mother’s medical care. Insight into Washington State geology is deftly interwoven into the storyline while the horse racing elements provide much of the background. Fans will enjoy this strong entry as the heroine tells Freud she is coming to closure.

Harriet Klausner

Kept by Seduction-Jaymie Holland

Kept by Seduction

Jaymie Holland

St. Martin's Griffin, Aug 7 2012, $14.99

ISBN: 9780312386641

Three consecutive years on the same day, one of Awai Steele’s nieces vanished (see Annie in Bound By Desire, Alice in Taken by Passion, and Alexei in Claimed by Pleasure). She has no idea who or why, but Awai waits for the arrival of the culprit(s) to come for her on the anniversary date of their kidnapping is soon; she plans to make them pay.

Awai has become a Dom who still yearns to be a sub but refuses to give into her nature after the torture of marriage to an abuser when she was very young. Kingdom of Clubs ruler Ty comes for his bride Awai, but he senses she refuses to ever submit though that is what she desires. He explains she is his queen and that her family is safe and married to monarchs and raising were-children in the other three kingdoms of Tarok. Still danger stalks the kingdoms perhaps from allegedly dead sorceress Mikaela, sister of the four kings who never accepted female rivals.

This reprint of the final Wonderland (as Cheyenne McCray) BDSM fantasy romance is a delightful erotica as Ty must persuade his Awai they can enjoy love and life if she sets free her inner sub. Ironically she is the one who believes that the true power is with the sub over the dom. Readers will enjoy the titillating gender war as the King of Clubs tries to persuade his queen neither has to bust genital parts to have a wonderful SM life together.

Harriet Klausner

Wake-Amanda Hocking


Amanda Hocking

St. Martin's Griffin, Aug 7 2012, $17.99

ISBN: 9781250008121

On summer vacation sixteen year old Gemma Fisher swims all day at the nearby pool where her coach observes her laps. However, she prefers her late night swims at Anthemusa Bay though her father and her older sister Harper disapprove because three people have recently vanished. When her car breaks down, her neighbor Alex takes her to the bay. At the cove, three girls begin singing, which has Alex swimming towards them until Gemma gets him to leave with her. Gemma wonders about the beautiful newcomers (Penn, Thea, Alexi and Arista) who have interrupted the tranquility of her nocturnal swims.

One night Penn, Thea and Alexi lure Gemma to join them near the water. When she awakens the next morning she is battered from head to toe but has no lucid memories of the night before. Gemma realizes she is no longer just the best swimmer locally but so much faster with greater endurance than she was. She also has uncanny healing skills that she had not possessed before that strange night and though already beautiful has become even prettier. The three girls explain that curses are blessings in disguise, but Gemma’s gut warns her that her new friends are concealing the downside.

This is an engaging opening act of the Watersong horror thriller starring a fascinating protagonist who must choose between her previous life she loved and a new existence that makes her even stronger as a creature of the sea. The fast-paced storyline ends with a fabulous cliffhanger but the characters are not fully developed so that key relationships like between the siblings seem shallow. Still with tugs on her heart, fans will wonder whether Gemma swims with Alex or with the sirens.

Harriet Klausner

Glitch-Heather Anastasiu


Heather Anastasiu

St. Martin's Griffin, Aug 7 2012, $9.99

ISBN: 9781250002990

The planet surface was poisoned by the dwellers making it inhabitable for humans to reside there. In the underground Community, inside of everyone’s brains are computer chips that wirelessly connect all residents to the Link. Feelings are dampened to the point that emotion is nonexistent so that the rivalries that destroyed the outside will not devastate the inside.

Seventeen years old Zoe glitches, which at time disconnects her from the Link. She knows her duty is to report her new status so she can be fixed, but she enjoys thinking in a world filled with colors. Zoe also has telekinesis ability. She conceals her rebirth from authorities until she meets Max and Adrien who are just like her and learns about the Resistance trying to free humanity from electronic slavery.

This is a taut 1984-like dystopian thriller in which teenage readers will accept the premises of the Community. The storyline is fast-paced and filled with exciting unexpected spins. Although the cast is not developed to include the critical triangular relationships between the three glitchers, fans will enjoy this action-packed drama.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Pittsburg Landing-Robert Burns Clark

Pittsburg Landing

Robert Burns Clark

Definitive Words Cyber Publishing, Feb 15 2012, $19.95


ISBN: 9780985537500

Fortyish West Point graduate widower Will Moore knows the horror of war having served in the Mexican conflict. He opposes the War Between the States that have Americans fighting Americans. However, he joins the Union army and trains a unit in Indiana. There he meets twentyish surgical assistant "little Sarah" who years ago he taught to jump her horse. They fall in love and marry just before he leads his troops into battle.

Mexican War vet Amos Bingham vowed to never kill again after he killed over thirty soldiers in one horrible night. When the Confederacy called for soldiers to enlist, he refused. His family and neighbors called him a coward and his teenage son Noah, disgusted with him, joined the Southern army. Fearing for his son’s life, Amos pursues Noah vowing to kill anyone who gets in his way.

On April 6, 1862, the two armies collide at Pittsburg Landing on the Tennessee River. The fighting is brutal with Will and his unit at the front; while Sarah joined a field surgical team also near the fighting. Noah and Amos are on the other side of the combat that by the end of April 7, 1862 left 23000 dead.

The two soldiers and the surgical assistant put faces to the horror of war as the bloody battle at Pittsburg Landing (AKA Battle of Shiloh) proves a key victory for the Union and made the early reputations of Grant and Sherman. Character driven, military historical fiction fans will relish this insightful look at one of the most pivotal bloody Civil War fights as none of the lead characters want to go to war but each feels compelled they must.

Harriet Klausner