Wednesday, May 27, 2015

What Lies Behind - J.T. Ellison

What Lies Behind
J.T. Ellison
Mira, May 26 2015, $24.95
ISBN 9780778316503

Leaving the perilous law enforcement field work somewhat behind, Dr. Samantha Owens chairs Georgetown University Medical School’s Forensic Pathology Department.  The FBI also employs her as an expert on cases.

Sirens in her Georgetown neighborhood wake her up.  With Thor, Sam goes to look at what is happening so close to her home.  Homicide Lieutenant Darren Fletcher leads the investigation into what appears to be a murder-suicide with the latter barely alive rushed to the hospital.  Two intoxicated underage students including the deceased male’s former girlfriend found the victims.  Darren asks Sam to look at the crime scene; the former D.C medical examiner concludes a third person made it look like the man murdered the woman and tried to kill himself. 

Sam’s boyfriend Xander and his partner Chalk protect affluent British entrepreneur James Denon, while he is on business in America.  Their service overlaps with Fletch’s inquiry.  Meanwhile the Feds order the police detective and his advisor to back down at a time when evidence mounts of a pending bioterrorist attack.

The fourth Samantha Owens mystery (see When Shadows Fall, A Deeper Darkness and Edge of Black) is a very byzantine whodunit that grows exponentially more complicated (to our delight) with every new clue.  Incredibly fast-paced, readers will relish this tremendous suspense thriller; while also waiting for the next confrontation between the heroine and a person taunting her.

Harriet Klausner

Led Astray & The Devil’s Own - Sandra Brown

Led Astray & The Devil’s Own
Sandra Brown
Mira, May 26 2015, $7.99
ISBN: 9780778318569

“Led Astray.”  Burying her own desires, Jenny Fletcher fully supported her dedicated fiancé Hal Hendren.  Committed to helping political refugees escape to the United States, Hal heads to Mexico but not before a night of passion with his future wife.  When tragedy strikes, the late Hal’s wild brother Cage steps in to be there for grieving Jenny.  When he shows her what passion truly is; Cage knows he loves Jenny and the unborn she carries even if he may not be the sire.

“The Devil's Own.”  In a seedy bar dressed as a whore, Kerry Bishop seeks a fearless warrior to rescue nine orphans.  She chooses drunken patron Linc O'Neal, whose definition of a shot comes from being an internationally famous photojournalist.  Looking forward to leaving the war-ravaged hellhole, Linc revises his plan to go home when Kerry propositions him.

These are two entertaining related 1980s romantic suspense reprints.  Although Kerry’s behavior is unlikely lunacy, readers will appreciate these early Sandra Brown tales.

Harriet Klausner

Clawed - L.A. Kornetsky

L.A. Kornetsky
Pocket Books, May 26 2015, $7.99
ISBN: 9781476750088

Having earned a reputation as part of a team of unlicensed private investigators in Seattle (see Doghouse, Collared and Fixed); Ginny Mallard is thrilled with her first out of town client who wants to use her day job skills as a concierge.  Ginny’s sleuthing partner Teddy Tonica is concerned over her propensity for trouble, but since she is not detecting he expects no problems.

As Teddy and Penny the cat remain at Mary’s where the human manages the establishment, Ginny and Georgie the shar-pei drive to Portland to meet with her new patron.  After leaving Georgie at the Pines Hotel, she continues onto her meeting with wheelchair-bound Mrs. Adaowsky.  Running late, Ginny rings the bell but no one responds.  Finding an unlocked door, Ginny cautiously enters but only a corpse greets her.  Calling 911, PPD cops arrive and tell her to go home but remain available if needed for further questioning.  Perhaps out of a sense of loyalty, Ginny feels a strong need to investigate.  The rest of the sleuthing quartet reluctantly joins her mostly to perform the impossible task of keeping Ginny out of stepping into danger.

The fourth Gin & Tonic Mystery “researchtigations” is an appealing anthropomorphist amateur sleuth that takes the heroine and her entourage out of the comfort zone of the Ballard neighborhood bar and Seattle into a “foreign” location.  The lead humans and their animal owners remain fresh protagonists while the Portland homicide case proves once again perilous.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Summer By The Sea - Susan Wiggs

Summer By The Sea
Susan Wiggs
Mira, May 26 2015, $14.95
ISBN: 9780778318538

"Celesta's by the Sea" owner Rosa Capoletti feels good for her BFF Linda whose beloved Jason just proposed to her.  However, Rosa’s happiness ends when “yachtis” from Newport arrive in her Winslow establishments for drinks.  Amongst them is the last person she ever wants to see, her teenage sweetheart Alex Montgomery who left one day without a word, never returning until now. 

Her dad was his affluent family gardener; so Rosa assumed theirs was a summer fling that could go nowhere.  Thus she focused on her highly regarded restaurant as the love of her life.  Alex informs her he is staying at his family summer home that has been vacant for over a decade.  She thinks back to when they first met and the subsequent summers afterward; he needs to tell her why he left a dozen years ago.  Family tragedies connect the gap.

Though the transition between past and present at times is difficult to follow, this is a reprint of a wonderful 2004 family drama.  The twenty-first century Romeo and Juliet couple is an absorbing pairing of old money Yankee and working class Italian-American.  Ironically it is not the social class difference that nuked their relationship, but a family tragedy that tore them apart and another family tragedy that may, if each is willing, give them a second chance.

Harriet Klausner

The Calamity Janes: Gina & Emma - Sheryl Woods

The Calamity Janes: Gina & Emma
Sheryl Woods
Mira, May 26 2015, $7.99
ISBN: 9780778317784

“To Catch a Thief.”  In Manhattan, Tuscany Café co-owner Gina Petrillo is stunned by the court order.  Her partner Roberto Rinaldi embezzled the funds their investors sunk into the Upper East Side restaurant.  Fuming as his mother is one of the victims, Attorney Rafe O'Donnell turns angry when he learns Petrillo filed a delay on submitting her deposition so that she could go home to Winding River, Wyoming.  He follows her expecting her to be guilty and also leading him to Rinaldi.  Instead he falls in love; as does she.

“The Calamity Janes.”  Denver-based lawyer Emma Rogers returns to Winding River for a class reunion.  When a domestic dispute turns ugly, Emma agrees to defend the accused though that means more time not spent with her six year old daughter Caitlyn.  Reporter Ford Hamilton covers the murder trial, but finds Emma very uncooperative in several ways including those of the heart. 

Published in 2001, these reprints of the third and fourth Calamity Jane novels (see The Calamity Janes: Cassie and Karen) are engaging romances.  Although “To Catch a Thief” contains too many sidebars slowing down the plot; The Calamity Janes provides an intense look at domestic abuse.

Harriet Klausner

The Charlemagne Connection - R. M. Cartmel

The Charlemagne Connection
R. M. Cartmel
Crime Scene Books, May 26 2015, $13.99
ISBN: 9780992948627

In Nuits-Saint-Georges, Burgundy, Madame Blanchard informs the Gendarme that German tourist Horst Witter is missing.  Constables Lenoir and Montbard find no evidence of foul play so assume Witter found either a companion or a job; so they close the case and move his abandoned camper to their compound.

Vintner Simon Marechale calls Paris-based Commander Truchaud informing him that his Alzheimer’s inflicted father urinated on a neighbor’s vines.  Obtaining time-off, Truchaud heads home to Nuits-Saint-Georges to consult with his widow sister-in-law on what to do.  However, though on leave, his supervisor and the town’s mayor arrange for Truchaud to fill the vacant Municipal Chief of Police position temporarily.  Not long after that, Horst’s sister Dagmar and her traveling companion arrive looking for him.  Needing someone fluent in German, Truchaud arranges for Paris-based Sergeant Natalie Dutoit to join him.  Soon after her arrival, Dutoit and Truchaud investigate what happened to a badly decomposed corpse found in the nearby woods.

The second Commander Truchaud French police procedural (see The Richebourg Affair) is a pleasant leisurely-paced mystery.  The sleuthing is limited as Truchard’s family and other personal issues supersede the inquiry; which takes off late in the storyline.  Feeling more like a transitional middle book, The Charlemagne Connection still provides readers with an interesting glimpse into life amongst the vines of Burgundy.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, May 25, 2015

A Match For Marcus Cynster - Stephanie Laurens

A Match For Marcus Cynster
Stephanie Laurens
Mira, May 26 2015, $7.99
ISBN: 9780778318347

In 1849 Scotland, Marcus Cynster believes he will soon meet and marry his Fate.  Though attracted to independent Niniver Carrick, Marcus believes she cannot be his; as Fate could not so kind. 

One year later, with her dad dead, her oldest brother missing and assumed dead like her other male siblings, Niniver learns how bad the clan’s finances are.  She vows to never marry as she cannot have a spouse interfere with her making it right for Clan Carrick.  Knowing unwanted suitors will pursue her, Niniver turns to someone she trusts though fearful of her desire for him, her neighbor Marcus for help.  Surrounded by Cynster females, Marcus knows firsthand strong women and believes now that Niniver is his Fate, but she needs to conclude on her own that he is her fate too.

The third Cynster’s Next Generation (see By Winter’s Light) is an appealing leisurely-paced Victorian romantic suspense that behooves the audience to first read Marcus’ twin Lucilla’s novel (see The Tempting of Thomas Carrick); which sets up much of the action in this tale.  The contemplative, compassionate chats between the leads make their relationship seem real; as Stephanie Laurens authors another winner.

Harriet Klausner