Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Secret Sister - Brenda Novak

The Secret Sister
Brenda Novak
Mira, Jul 28 2015, $14.95
ISBN: 9780778317807

Paralleling her ugly divorce, Maisey Lazarow’s brother Keith attempted suicide.  Thus believing her sibling needs her (and deep down in her soul, she knows she needs him too), Maisey returns home to a place she loathes, Fairham, South Carolina.  Her mother, self-anointed city Queen Josephine, fails to meet and greet her; which Maisey is happy with after a decade old riff.

Maisey avoids her ‘royal” mom by renting a different home rather than moving back into the family place.  Next door is Rafe Romero, who she fell in love with as a teen and still finds him extremely attractive.  When Maisey finds old photos of a familiar looking girl; memories begin to surface.  Though she adheres to the belief her only sibling is Keith, Maisey and her brother have vague memories of a forgotten sister.

The Secret Sister is a suspenseful family drama starring a fully-developed cast.   The well-written romantic subplot between Maisey and Rafe (and his matchmaking preadolescent daughter) intrudes on the mesmerizing mystery; as the search for the missing Secret Sister grips the audience from the first revelation to the climatic resolution.

Harriet Klausner

Prisoners Of Tomorrow - James P. Hogan

Prisoners Of Tomorrow
James P. Hogan
Baen, Jul 7 2015, $14.00
ISBN: 9781476780658

“Endgame Enigma.”  Russia proudly constructs Valentina Tereshkova, an orbiting city space station.  However, America remains suspicious of their former Cold War enemy especially when information from reliable sources claims this is a nuclear weapon launch pad.  While the world marvel at Russia’s success, agent Lew McCain and scientist Dr. Paula Bryce arrive at the Valentina Tereshkova to confirm the claims of Russian duplicity.  They are locked in an inescapable prison even as the countdown to a North American nuclear winter begins.

Voyage from Yesteryear.”  The colony on Chiron in the Alpha Centauri sector became isolated from the mother planet when WWIII devastated the Earth.  Decades later the Earth’s three superpowers engage in a space race to renew contact with the descendants of the original Chiron colonists.  The Americans arrive first with a dictatorial dogma to impose their belief system on the people of Chiron, who adheres strongly in the belief that everyone has the right to pursue life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

These reprints of two 1980s science fictions showcase James P. Hogan’s ability to tell enjoyable yet thought-provoking thrillers.  Though the casts are one-dimensional stereotypes; Endgame Enigma provides an intriguing look at the Cuban Missile Crisis in planetary orbit and the Prometheus Award winning Voyage from Yesteryear timely focuses on the seemingly human need to impose one’s deepest personal beliefs on unwilling others.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Lone Rider - B.J. Daniels

Lone Rider
B.J. Daniels
Harlequin HQN, Jul 28 2015, $7.99
ISBN: 9780373788415

In Big Timber, Montana, worried Emily Calder tells her brother Jace that her boss at the Sarah Hamilton Foundation Bo Hamilton failed to return from a night of camping.  Emily says depressed Bo arranged for auditors to look into embezzlement of foundation funds.  They were to interview her; but she failed to make the meeting.

Jace prefers to stay far away from the woman who rejected his proposal, but fears something happened to Bo.  Though in the minority, he strongly believes she did not take the money nor would deliberately miss the appointment with the auditors especially since she found the discrepancies.  In the nearby mountains, fearful Jace learns why Bo missed her session with the auditors she contacted.

The second Montana Hamiltons romantic suspense (see Wild Horses) is an exciting rustic thriller.  The lead couple and the villain make for an interesting potentially deadly triangle in which the life-threatening danger rightfully supersedes the romance.  Although there are too many subplots started for future entries (in fairness there are six Hamilton siblings and their mom back from the grave after a two plus decade vanishing needing a scorecard), Lone Rider is a wonderful second chance, if they survive, contemporary.

Harriet Klausner

Silent Creed - Alex Kava

Silent Creed
Alex Kava
G.P. Putnam's Sons, Jul 28 2015, $26.95
ISBN: 9780399170775

In Haywood County, North Carolina, heavy rain leads to a deadly landslide.  The precipitation continues hampering efforts to rescue trapped survivors.  Lieutenant Colonel Peter Logan contacts K-9 CrimeScents Hannah Washington; specifically requesting her partner rescue dog trainer Ryder Creed to search for forty-five missing and most likely dead people trapped in the avalanche.  Logan sends a jet to bring Ryder and his dogs like America’s favorite canine Grace to the disaster.  Ryder loathes Logan, who was his superior officer in Afghanistan, but besides the business needing the commission there might be people still alive and in need of rescue rather than recovery once the inundation stops.

At the same time Ryder flies to North Carolina, FBI Agent Maggie O'Dell comes to the scene as Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency scientists are among the missing.  Having recently worked together (see Breaking Creed) Creed and O’Dell team up when they realize Mother Nature did not kill a recovered corpse; a human committed the homicide.

The second Ryder Creed suspense is a non-stop exhilarating thriller that grips the audience from the moment the protagonist arrives at the deadly avalanche site (after a leisurely paced opening) and never slows down.  Filled with twists and two types of mud (the other being flung by Congress) Alex Kava authors a winning drama starring two heroes, a sneaky vile villain (mindful of X Files’ Cancer Man) and show-stealing K9s.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Lady Be Good - Meredith Duran

Lady Be Good
Meredith Duran
Pocket Books, Jul 28 2015, $7.99
ISBN: 9781476741376

In London, Viscount Kit Stratton worries about the lunatic threatening his loved ones.  This military hero believes Catherine Everleigh, co-owner with her brother Peter of Eveleigh’s Auction House, can lure the maniac into the open so that Kit can end the danger to his family. 

When Kit catches Everleigh Girl hostess Lilah Marshall stealing letters from her employer, he seizes an opportunity to catch the homicidal enemy.  Kit blackmails Lilah into helping him with his crusade.  Thus Lilah, who left her crime family kin behind four years ago, travels with her boss to Kit’s estate.  However, neither Kit nor Lilah expected to fall in love, which makes her the prime target of a psychopath. 

The latest Rules for the Reckless Victorian (see Fool Me Twice, That Scandalous Summer and E-novella Your Wicked Heart) is a thrilling romantic suspense filled with tension and a vibrant resilient lead couple.  The entertaining relationship hooks the audience as on the surface Lilah is from Venus and Kit from Mars, but readers know before the protagonists how much they actually have in common.  The merciless predator brings out the good and fear in the targeted prey as fans of historical novels anticipate High Noon in 1886 England.

Harriet Klausner

The Devils Seal - Peter Tremayne

The Devil's Seal
Peter Tremayne
Minotaur Books, Jul 28 2015, $26.99
ISBN: 9781250059727

In 671 Ireland, religious leaders are irate over the latest Papal decree of Rule of the Blessed Benedict.  They come to Cashel to debate over how to implement and more important ignore the dictate by the Council of Autun.  One of the attendees Anglo-Saxon Brother Egric survives a shipwreck that killed his three traveling companions.  He claims to be Brother Eadulf’s brother who the latter thought died years ago.

Before the divided discussion between the Irish and Anglo-Saxon delegates commences someone slices the throat of Saxon emissary Brother Cerdic; leaving his corpse in a position of prayer.  At Cashel, Mumen King Colgu assigns his sister (Eadulf’s wife) Sister Fidelma to investigate in hopes of preventing more homicides from occurring.  As she makes her inquiries, additional killings happen including Cill Naile steward Sister Dianaimh.

The silver anniversary Mysteries of Ancient Ireland (see Atonement of Blood) is an enjoyable medieval whodunit.  The fascinating focus on the various religious leaders’ reactions to the Papal decree anchors the novel in time and place.  Sister Fidelma’s intriguing investigation entertains the faithful, but the climax lacks the vigor of most entries (including this novel) in one of the consistently best historical series.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Death Chamber - Sarah Rayne

The Death Chamber
Sarah Rayne
Felony & Mayhem, Aug 7 2015, $14.95
ISBN: 9781631940507

In 1938, Dr. Walter Kane returns to Calvary Gaol for the first since he made the vow to his late dad, but as part of the staff.  .  Though he suffers doubts at times over a convict’s guilt, Walter diligently performs his execution duty even when a case haunts him.  In WWII, Walter joins the British military and after the hostilities end moves to Switzerland.

In the present, Walter's great granddaughter Georgina Grey knows nothing about his time at Calvary Gaol.  The Caradoc Society Secretary Vincent Meade informs her that her great grandfather donated to their paranormal cause and they will give her any money left after paying off debts.  This enables Georgina to flee a failed business and an ugly relationship with David the deserter to look first hand into her ancestor’s life especially when he served as the prison doctor.  Meanwhile a television show investigates abnormal energy at Calvary Gaol.  Neither Georgina nor the crew expected ghosts clamoring for their tale to be told and even worse the nasty clamoring to kill the living telling their tales.

Aptly titled, The Death Chamber is an action-packed paranormal epic.  The twisting ghost story starts off as a leisurely-paced historical starring Walter during WWI and WWII; but accelerates once his descendent and the ghostbusters arrive at Calvary Gaol to look into the past (except when Georgina to our chagrin reflects on David); unaware until it may be too late of the horrors that welcome them. 

Harriet Klausner