Thursday, July 24, 2014

Alone In The Classroom-Elizabeth Hay

Alone In The Classroom
Elizabeth Hay
Quercus, Aug 1 2014, $24.99
ISBN: 9781623651053

In 1937 Ontario, schoolgirl Ethel Wier picks berries.  Not long after she started, someone brutally murders her; leaving behind her battered body, two pails and berries.  The murder is identical to that of a killing almost a decade earlier in Saskatchewan.

In the present historian Anne Flood reads newspaper articles written by her aunt Connie the journalist.  In 1929, eighteen year old Connie Flood became a teacher in Saskatchewan.  Her principal Parley Burns takes a special interest in her as he seems to do with all the young females (staff and students) in the school.  Once a failed thespian and playwright, Parley loves the theater.  Not surprising, the principal directs Hardy’s classic Tess of the d'Urbervilles starring thirteen-year-old Susan Graves.  Like a Svengali to Susan’s Trilby (see Trilby by George du Maurier), he shapes the teen into what Parley believes is a star.  Meanwhile Connie recognizes that Susan’s older brother Michael is not a menacing retard, but instead an intelligent person who learns for some unknown reason differently than the norm.  As she works and encourages him, a tragedy forces a mass exit from the province.

In 1937 Ontario, Connie the reporter runs into Parley just after Ethel’s vicious homicide.  She realizes raging martinet Parley had opportunity in both cases, but lacks substantive evidence to accuse him.

This enthralling twentieth century murder epic is not an easy read with switching time periods and an absorbing point of view.  Character driven by a deep cast (to include the narrator), readers will believe we were transported to the Depression Era Canadian Plains as Elizabeth Hay provides a compelling literary mystery.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Jaspar’s War-Cym Lowell

Jaspar’s War
Cym Lowell
Rosemary Beach Press LLC, Mar 1 2014, $12.99
ISBN: 9780991491308

Trevor Moran was the star quarterback when Notre Dame won the national championship game.  He became a success at Wall St. and with his beloved wife Jaspar raises two tweeners (Theo and Chrissy) in Greenwich, Connecticut.  When the economy collapsed, the President appointed Trevor as the Treasury Secretary to begin saving the country and the world from the worst downturn since the Great Depression. 

While Trevor is in Europe trying to persuade reluctant leaders to spend money on stimulus packages, Jaspar watches her kids playing baseball.  After the game, Jaspar turns frantic when she cannot find her children in spite of tight security.  At the same FBI Agent McGuire informs Jaspar that Trevor’s flight home from London crashed in the ocean near Iceland.  A text message from Trevor arrives informing her that her spouse is shark food and her kids will join him as ocean waste if she does not shut up re the stimulus package.  Not one to back down and willing to do anything and ally with the worst dregs of society, Jaspar begins a quest to rescue her children from those who plot to destroy the United States. 

Over the top of the Burj Khalifa, Jaspar’s War is an action-packed pulp fiction thriller that grips the audience from the moment the Mama Grizzly hunts for those who abducted her cubs and assassinated her mate.  Action-packed, readers will root for the heroine to kick ass as Cym Lowell provides readers with an entertaining tale.  Note that 100% of the proceeds from this saga go to Operation: Next Chapter to help wounded warriors stay connected through the Soldiers’ Angels Project: Valour-IT.

Harriet Klausner

The Game And The Governess-Kate Noble

The Game And The Governess
Kate Noble
Pocket, Jul 22 2014, $7.99
ISBN: 9781476749389

In 1822 “Lucky Ned” Ashby has become pompous and conceited ever since he became the earl several years earlier due to several untimely deaths.  He hires his war friend John Turner as his secretary.  However, their third pal Dr. Rhys Gray notices a strain between them probably caused by the changing of their relationship since Turner was Ashby’s superior officer while fighting Napoleon.  After an argument over whether women consider wealth when selecting a man, Ned and John make a bet.  Ned will pretend to be John the secretary while John will be Ned the earl.  As John, Ned must persuade Phoebe Baker to want him as working class Mr. Turner.

Five years earlier, then seventeen year old Phoebe’s circumstances collapsed due to the inaction of the Earl of Ashby who chose to protect his lofty name and reputation rather than take down scoundrel Mr. Sharp; her father died and all she could hope for was becoming a governess.  Ned begins his campaign to win Phoebe’s heart, but she seems uninterested in him as her goal remains moving to America.  As he falls in love, Ned learns firsthand the downside of England.  His biggest fear is that his good luck may have run out when it comes to Phoebe who loathes the Earl of Ashby.

Though historical romance wagers are not new (see His By Christmas by Kaitlin O'Riley), Kate Noble refreshes the concept due to Ned’s coming of age maturation into a caring person rather than vacuous “Lucky Ned”.  As he finds out what life is like for non-aristocrats; ironically the romance begins later than usual yet the brave heroine steals this fun Regency from the three betters.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Atonement of Blood-Peter Tremayne

Atonement of Blood
Peter Tremayne
Minotaur Books, Jul 22 2014, $26.99
ISBN: 9781250046000

In 670 AD at Cashel, to honor the blessed Colmán mac Lénine, Muman King Colgú hosts a gala.  Among those attending are his sister dalaigh law courts advocate Fidelma and her husband Brother Eadulf.  The couple plan to spend quality time with their son Alchú who resides at his uncle’s castle while his parents traveled to conduct investigations.

During the feast, a religieux guest Brother Lennan of Mungairit Abbey fervently screams “Remember Liamuin” as he stabs the monarch in the chest before killing brave Brehan Aedo who jumped between the assassin and the ruler.  Commander of the King’s Bodyguard Caol kills the murderer.  As gravely injured Colgú fights for his life, Fidelma investigates the attempted regicide and homicide.  Her only useful clues from the deadly gala are the fanatic’s final reiterated diatribe and the abbey located inside of rebellious Ui Fidgente; where many oppose the merging of the Five Kingdoms under Colgú

The 24th Mystery of Ancient Ireland Sister Fidelma mystery (see The Seventh Trumpet and Behold a Pale Horse) is a fascinating whodunit as the sleuthing couple risks their lives to follow the clues into hostile territory.  Fidelma is at her best interviewing, watching and drawing conclusions that a seditious conspiracy threatens the Five-Kingdom alliance; while also praying for her sibling. 

Harriet Klausner

Taken-Lora Leigh

Lora Leigh
St. Martin’s, Jul 22 2014, $14.99
ISBN: 9781250045454

“Reno’s Chance.”  Raven loves her best friend Morganna’s brother, but Reno treats her like another sister.  With Reno on leave, Raven decides this is the time to show him what she wants.

“For Maggie’s Sake.”  Grant fooled his wife Maggie and his SEAL friend Joe as part of the vicious Fuentes gang.  Joe believes Maggie who he loved but lost to Grant somehow is involved with this dangerous drug lord. He reassesses his belief when his Maggie is abducted.

“Atlanta Heat.”  Mason and Emerson are attracted to each other, but he refuses to act on his desire out of fear her godfather Admiral Holloran would fry certain body parts he cherishes.  A failed kidnapping brings the pair’s feelings out into the open.

“Night Hawk.” For three years Elite Ops agents “Black Jack” and “Night Hawk” have met clandestinely sharing no personal information.  This night is their last time together.

“Cooper’s Fall.” Former army ranger Ethan has the biggest boner of his life when he stares out his window like a pervert seeing virginal Sarah naked (except for nipple rings) masturbating; unaware he is the star of her sexual fantasies.  

“Sheila’s Passion.” Nick saw a lot of crap while in combat as a marine. Out of the service, Nick loves Sheila, but believes she sees him as a pal after being hurt recently by a former boyfriend. Sheila wants Nick to admit he passionately loves her.  The dynamics change when an adversary threatens Sheila.

These six reprinted erotica tales star “Real Men” (from Lora Leigh’s series) and females proving to be their equals.  Though the plots are thin, The Heat Is On (Glenn Frey) every page.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, July 21, 2014

Ice Shear-M. P. Cooley

Ice Shear
M. P. Cooley
Morrow, Jul 22 2014, $25.99
ISBN 9780062300706

Though she loved being an FBI agent, June Lyons quit the Feds when the doctor told her that her husband Kevin was dying from cancer.  She took a job in her hometown Hopewell Falls Police Department to spend time caring for her spouse and raising their young daughter Lucy with help from her father, the retired town police chief.

Now a widow living in her Upstate New York childhood home with her six years old child and her dad, June patrols at night.  However, her former law enforcement world crashes with her current one when June finds the corpse of Danielle Brouillette, daughter of a US Congresswoman, spiked onto a chunk of ice protruding from the frozen Mohawk River.  The newlywed had married Marty Jelickson, the son of the Abominations motorcycle gang enforcer.  Her Hopewell PD peers already scorned June as a failed outsider; but their resentment explodes when a former FBI associate Agent Hale Bascom deputizes her.  The discovery of a Meth lab complicates the convoluted investigation as does a biker’s homicide.

This regional police procedural is an electrifying investigative tale starring an interesting single mom forced to straddle two diverse law enforcement plateaus in which she has been part of both.  Although there are too many support players requiring readers needing a roster to keep score; filled with twists, blue penis envy and held together by a fully developed intriguing heroine, fans will want to tour Hopewell Junction with June as our guide.

Harriet Klausner

Remains of Innocence- J. A. Jance

Remains of Innocence
J. A. Jance
Morrow, Aug 12 2014, $26.99
ISBN: 9780062134707

A decade ago in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, Liza Machett graduated high school and left home to escape the abuse of her insane mother.  Now her mother is dying so Liza reluctantly ends their estrangement.  Her mother asks Liza to bring her a cookbook from the house.  Inside Liza disgustingly sees her childhood home even more cluttered and filthier than when she grew up, which says a lot.  She also finds 1,470 $100 bills stashed inside of cookbooks.  As she wonders how her mom accumulated $147,000, Liza plans to use the windfall to clean up the house in order to put it on the market; unaware of the deadly danger to her and others unfortunately in her sphere that her endeavor will trigger.  When she finally realizes the peril, Liza disguised as a cancer and abuse victim sneaks off to Arizona to locate and discuss the situation with her older half-brother, Cochise County M.E. Dr. Guy Machett who left home for Harvard when she was a young teen and never returned.

Cochise County Sheriff Joanna Brady and her team search for a missing developmentally disabled sexagenarian.  They find Junior Dowdle’s corpse among a “graveyard” of mutilated animals in a cave.  Meanwhile Liza’s current and past Massachusetts troubles follow her to Arizona.

The latest super Sheriff Brady police procedural (see Judgment Call, and Fire And Ice) is a tremendous entry as the cop works two complex cases that have no obvious ties.  The fast-paced Remains of Innocence is a fascinating mystery that grips the audience from the moment Liza enters her childhood home and never slows down as homicide investigations in two states diagonally across the country keep the audience spellbound.

Harriet Klausner