Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Black Dog: Hellhound Chronicles-Caitlin Kittredge

Black Dog: Hellhound Chronicles
Caitlin Kittredge
Harper Voyager, Oct 28 2014, $14.99
ISBN 9780062316912

Ava the hellhound collects a debt owed by Bob Dobkins to her employer Gary the reaper who sent the miscreant’s soul to Hell.  Ava is lonely as she has been for the past century in which Gary has owned her; as no one human or otherwise with an ounce of sanity, wants coffee with a hellhound; except her vicious boss when he makes demands of her that she knows she better fulfill.

Gary’s boss Lilith orders the Reaper to send his Hellhound to look into the increase in deadhead activity in the Mohave near the locale of Alex Ivanoff and kill the human for dabbling in necromancy though his debt is not due.  In Vegas, a deadhead juiced by a necromancer attacks her; only he is not an Alex convert; he is Alex.  Instead of killing Ava, Leonid Karpov the necromancer kidnaps her.  Leo explains she is his third captured hellhound, but the first two died snarling at him; that he still owns his soul; and that with her help he will kill Gary starting with Ava stealing her reaper’s scythe.

The first Hellhound Chronicles is an exciting urban fantasy starring a sympathetic repo hellhound who muses on how far she has fallen since she fled as a teen Bear Hollow, Tennessee for New Orleans during Prohibition.  However, the Cecile B. DeMille sized support cast and especially an inordinate number of supernatural species are difficult to follow and keep track of without a paranormal classification similar to the Linnaeus seven-category hierarchical biological systemStill subgenre fans will want to tour the USA with Ava as our snarling badass guide.


Harriet Klausner

Ho-Ho-Homicide-Liss MacCrimmon-Kaitlyn Dunnett

Ho-Ho-Homicide: Liss MacCrimmon Scottish Mystery
Kaitlyn Dunnett
Kensington, Oct 28 2014, $24.00
ISBN 9780758292834

In Moosetookalook, Maine, Gina Snowe asks her high school BFF Liss MacCrimmon Ruskin to look at the Christmas tree farm in New Boston she inherited from a late great-uncle to see if it is a feasible money-making enterprise.  Owner of the successful Scottish Emporium, Liss agrees to help her Chicago-based lawyer friend though they had drifted apart several years ago.  She and her husband Dan decide to check out the farm that is a couple of hours west of their home with a one week pre-holiday paid vacation.

However, the town and the farm residents lack the Christmas spirit as seemingly everyone demands the visitors leave.  Liss learns of a corpse buried amidst a delivery to New York and the farm’s owner vanished.  As Liss investigates the cold case incidents, the uncooperative locals, especially the cops, resent her inquiry, but one of them has a deadly vendetta.

The eighth Liss MacCrimmon Scottish Mystery (see Vampires, Bones, And Treacle Scones; and Bagpipes, Brides, And Homicides and Scotched) is a pleasurable twisting Yuletide amateur sleuth.  Although the Ruskin relationship is not quite as cozy as the detecting into the farm and town, this is a Merry Christmas tale.


Harriet Klausner

By Winter’s Light: A Cynster Novel-Stephanie Laurens

By Winter’s Light: A Cynster Novel
Stephanie Laurens
Harlequin Mira, Oct 28 2014, $16.99
ISBN: 9780778317470

In 1837, the six Cynster families, their servants and others in their circle like tutors come to Casphairn Manor in Scotland to enjoy the holidays.  Attracted to each other, Daniel Crosbie (tutor to the sons of Lucifer and Phyllida) and Claire Meadows (governess to the daughter of Rupert and Alathea) especially look forward to the extended family gathering as this gives them an opportunity to see each other. 

Daniel patiently waited until he is on sound financial footing before he asks Claire to marry him.  Though she believes she loves the kind honest tutor, the widow refuses as being married once was one time too many for her.  However, Daniel knows who he wants to spend his life with so he continues to court his reluctant Medy.

The second Cynster Christmas special (see The Promise in a Kiss) is a pleasant holiday historical with a large cast (a listing helps with who belongs to whom) that includes the romance between the two likable employees, the return of leads from the previous twenty novels and the introduction to the Cynster offspring who will probably lead in a new Victorian series.  Targeting her fans, Stephanie Laurens authors a warm (even in snowy Scotland) Yuletide treat.


Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Dead Don't Lie-L. R. Nicolello

Dead Don't Lie
L. R. Nicolello
Harlequin HQN, Oct 28 2014, $7.99
ISBN: 9780373785001

In Europe, eighteen year old model Evelyn Maslin returns home to find a DVD apparently sent to her by her family in Seattle.  When she plays it, she observes the vicious slaughtering of her parents and her fourteen years old sister.  Numb but she prays this is a cruel prank until Police Detective Nikols calls to inform her that her family is dead.

Fifteen years later, having changed her surname and motivated by the slaughter of her family, Seattle Detective Evelyn Davis now is considered the top profiler in the department, reinforced by the horrible Langdon homicides.  She keeps her distance from everyone, but her partner Ryan O’Neil, his wife Kate and their children welcome her as a favorite “relative”.  Dinner with the O’Neil brood ends when their supervisor Captain Kessler tells them Chief Diaz wants them working a family annihilator case on Mercer Island, the second in two weeks there.  Due to the mayor’s request, FBI Special Agent Marcus Moretti joins the investigative team.  He provides information on the deaths of the Garland and Middleton family who both had two young daughters.  Marcus conceals one thing from Evelyn; that he wants her on his special task force.  As they work the case that turns Deja vu personal, the Fed and the local officer fall in love.

Dead Don't Lie is a taut police procedural that grips the audience from the first family invasion until the final confrontation.  Readers will respect Evelyn and admire caring Marcus even while the serial killer pushes the heroine’s buttons into mental freefall.  Although the love subplot is unnecessary, this is a tremendous romantic suspense.


Harriet Klausner

Dead Don't Lie-L. R. Nicolello

Dead Don't Lie
L. R. Nicolello
Harlequin HQN, Oct 28 2014, $7.99
ISBN: 9780373785001

In Europe, eighteen year old model Evelyn Maslin returns home to find a DVD apparently sent to her by her family in Seattle.  When she plays it, she observes the vicious slaughtering of her parents and her fourteen years old sister.  Numb but she prays this is a cruel prank until Police Detective Nikols calls to inform her that her family is dead.

Fifteen years later, having changed her surname and motivated by the slaughter of her family, Seattle Detective Evelyn Davis now is considered the top profiler in the department, reinforced by the horrible Langdon homicides.  She keeps her distance from everyone, but her partner Ryan O’Neil, his wife Kate and their children welcome her as a favorite “relative”.  Dinner with the O’Neil brood ends when their supervisor Captain Kessler tells them Chief Diaz wants them working a family annihilator case on Mercer Island, the second in two weeks there.  Due to the mayor’s request, FBI Special Agent Marcus Moretti joins the investigative team.  He provides information on the deaths of the Garland and Middleton family who both had two young daughters.  Marcus conceals one thing from Evelyn; that he wants her on his special task force.  As they work the case that turns Deja vu personal, the Fed and the local officer fall in love.

Dead Don't Lie is a taut police procedural that grips the audience from the first family invasion until the final confrontation.  Readers will respect Evelyn and admire caring Marcus even while the serial killer pushes the heroine’s buttons into mental freefall.  Although the love subplot is unnecessary, this is a tremendous romantic suspense.


Harriet Klausner

Neurotic November-Barbara Levenson

Neurotic November
Barbara Levenson
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, Sept 9 2014, $11.99
ISBN: 9781500519452

After spending a vacation in Vermont with her lover Carlos Martin, lawyer Mary Magruder Katz returns to Miami where she notices her always reliable paralegal assistant Catherine Aynsworth acting distracted.  Meanwhile Mary worries about her hospitalized father Abe recovering from a heart attack and her mother Hope wanting them to move back to Miami from Boynton Beach; Thanksgiving with her parents and brothers should be quite a family affair.

Lorena Lincoln wants to hire Mary to represent her son, University of Miami quarterback Jay Lincoln, accused by high school student Jennifer de Leon of statutory rape.  The college assigned Mary’s former boss Franklin Fieldstone to represent him; he insists Jay accept a plea bargain as circumstances do not matter when it comes to an underage girl made worse by the race card.

Carlos’ father J.C. faces SEC and Justice Department probes into money laundering at the Seaside Bank where he is Vice President.  Mary advices J.C. on how a Grand Jury works as lawyers are not allowed inside the proceedings.

Catherine former husband Brady demands back in her life and their two frightened young children.  While he batters Catherine, Carlos arrives with a gun and soon afterward the cops.  Mary files a restraining order, but someone kills Brady; the prime suspect is Carlos

The fourth Mary Magruder Katz legal thriller (see Fatal February, Justice In June and Outrageous October) contains three entertaining diverse cases enhanced by the heroine’s personal issues.  The lead lawyer provides captivating advice to clients interwoven into the storyline; i.e., Grand Jury hearings and ethics rules re replacing an attorney, etc.  Subgenre fans will appreciate the latest Mary Magruder manic caseload.


Harriet Klausner

Monday, October 27, 2014

The Girl In The Woods-Gregg Olsen

The Girl In The Woods
Gregg Olsen
Pinnacle, Oct 28 2014, $9.99
ISBN: 9780786029945

In Port Orchard, Washington, on a nature hike in Banner Forest, an Olally Elementary school sixth grader finds a human foot.  Sheriff’s Detective Kendall Stark and Kitsap County Forensic Pathologist Birdy Waterman look into what happened that led to a severed body part.  The rest of the person is not found nearby and remains missing.  Birdy believes an animal ripped the foot off of a probably dead teenage girl.

Meanwhile Birdy’s sixteen year old nephew Elan asks to stay with his aunt for a while as he left his home after seeing his mom in his bed with her lover.  At about the same time Elan came to Port Orchard, Ted Roberts dies suspiciously with the pathologist thinking his wife Jennifer poisoned him.  Thus Birdy heads to Arizona to exhume and test the body of Jennifer’s first husband for poison.  Extreme Hoarder Tess “The Mess” Montgomery reports her high school daughter Darby missing to the Sheriff’s Department; and soon afterward dirt biker and Afghanistan war veteran Marvin Best finds a corpse with one foot missing in a garbage bag.  Investigating Darby’s homicide, Stark and Waterman follow clues leading to a fired prison guard and an extreme narcissist serial killer convict with raging grudges towards Tess.

The first Waterman and Stark police procedural is a fabulous investigative mystery with a three-dimensional cast involved in several dysfunctional relationships (by far the most positive is the friendship and mutual respect between the two investigators).  Filled with twists, especially an astonishing unexpected but plausible climatic spin, readers will appreciate the detective and the pathologist working together on two homicides.


Harriet Klausner