Sunday, January 25, 2015

A Stitch In Crime-Cathy Marie Elliott

A Stitch In Crime
Cathy Marie Elliott
Abingdon, Jan 20 2015, $13.99
ISBN: 9781426773655

In Larkindale, antiques store owner and Quilt-Without-Guilt member Thea James agrees to co-chair the town’s first “Legacy of Quilts” show.  At a soiree at the Wentworth mansion, textile expert Dr. Cottle fails to arrive as expected; and someone assaults Thea’s affluent elderly friend Mary-Alice Wentworth and apparently steals a diamond brooch from her.  As Dr. Wellman examines Mary-Alice, Thea interrogates newcomer Odette Milsap in an upstairs area she should not have been.  Soon after she finished her questioning, Detective Brewster arrives.

Meanwhile Mary-Alice’s family heirloom quilt Larkin’s Treasure quilt, rumored to be a treasure map, is on display at the Hastings McLeod Museum.  Thea plans to visits her injured friend, see the quilt, and run her shop; but when the other chair is never available to work on the event, she is stuck with everything.  Making matters worse, Thea’s BFF Renee, just back from Europe, acts mean-spirited towards her.  Finally Thea also gets embroiled in the investigation when the Larkin’s Treasure vanishes.

This is an enjoyable Quilts of Love (see Masterpiece Marriage by Gina Welborn and Quilted By Christmas by Jodie Bailey) cozy.  The heroine initially acts like a patsy, but with faith and her Uncle Nick’s support proves otherwise; slightly modifying I Am Woman by Helen Reddy: if she has to, she can do anything since she is strong and invincible.  Although the romance and the mystery are very light, A Stitch In Crime is an engaging life in a small-town novel.

Harriet Klausner

The Evil Deeds We Do-Robert S. Levinson

The Evil Deeds We Do
Robert S. Levinson
Five Star, Jan 21 2015, $25.95
ISBN 9781432829674

Two and half years ago in Los Angeles, a Grand Jury indicted Blue Pacific Records producers Roy and Lainie Davis Gardner for unlawful business practices due to his ties to organized crime.  Not long after that, someone kills Roy in front of their teenage daughter Sara.  With his death the charges against his wife were dropped, but her music career died too along with their house in Encino.

The cop on that case ruthless Harry Roman has become an Assistant District Attorney obsessed with putting Lainie behind bars for her hiring a hit on her spouse; though as she points out to him when he accosts her in a theater’s parking lot that if he had proof she’d be arrested not lectured.  Meanwhile ambitious political powerbroker Thom Newberry informs her that the ADA has a sworn statement that she contracted the hit on her spouse.  He offers Lainie an opportunity back into the music world and removal of the stalking ADA from her life.  In return, he demands Lainie obtain a file from influential Leonard Volkman.

This is an exhilarating action-packed suspense that grips the reader from the moment Roman waylays Gardner in the parking lot and throughout the taut storyline.  Though overly complicated with plenty of twists including a great climatic spin and rotating between the past and present, readers will wonder who will be left standing at the end.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Wild Cards IV: Aces Abroad-George R.R. Martin

Wild Cards IV: Aces Abroad
George R.R. Martin
Tor Books, Jan 13 2015, $15.99
ISBN: 9780765335586

This mostly reprint contains two new tales (in Peru for “Warts and All” by Kevin Andrew Murphy and Carrie Vaughn’s “Always Spring in Prague”) that blend in nicely with the original 1988 publication.  The premise focuses on the Wild Cards’ escapades during a UN and WHO sponsored world tour.  The key connectors are "The Tint of Hatred" by Stephen Leigh with the return of the Puppetman and “From The Journal Of Xavier Desmond” by Mr. Martin that include stopovers in places like AfghanistanThe first official stop of the "Stacked Deck" jet is Haiti where Ti Malice works his “Beasts Of Burden” (by John J. Miller).  In "Blood Rites" by Leanne C. Harper, Mayan psychic twins lead a revolt in Guatemala.  Other stops include meeting Nur-Al-Allah and the Gods in “Down By The Nile” by Gail Gerstner-Miller; Dr. Tachyon practicing medicine in Walton Simons’ “The Teardrop Of India”; an encounter in Australia with Wyungare who lives “Down In The Dreamtime” by Edward Bryant; and Lewis Shiner’s “Zero Hour” in which Fortunato saves a life in Japan.  There are also stops in Europe (see “Puppets” by Victor W. Milán where we encounter Mackie "Mack the Knife" Messer in Germany, and Melinda M. Snodgrass escorting fans to Versailles’ “Mirrors of the Soul”). 

This is an entertaining entry as fans meet influential (in future sagas) new Aces, Jokers and some entities difficult to classify in places around the world while holding up to the test of time even in Soviet Moscow (Michael Cassutt "Legends").  While the superb contributions highlight the Wild Cards world and introduce two major villains, this anthology would have been incredible with more focus on the newbies rather than those we know.

Harriet Klausner

A Murder of Clones: The Anniversary Day Saga-Kristine Kathryn Rusch

A Murder of Clones: The Anniversary Day Saga
Kristine Kathryn Rusch
WMG, Jan 13 2015, $18.99
ISBN 9781561466085

Fifteen years ago on Epriccom, the Eufasse Emir contacted the Earth Alliance with news that an enclave of humans resided near their territory.  The Earth Alliance’s Marshal Judita Gomez and her most experienced Security Squad deputies Kyle Washington and Shakir Rainger head to this Frontier habitable moon to investigate.  They send for recovery when they find corpses and with Eufasse permission continue the search for humans who, with the exception of three, choose death.  The evidence pointed to an internal human clone civil war.

In the present, terrorists attack the Moon in what the future will call the horrific Anniversary Day bombings.  Although not authorized to make inquiries, Marshal Gomez probes the lethal assaults and soon connects the amoral killers to her mission fifteen years ago on Epriccom. 

Filled with plenty of action, a deep cast and an intense philosophical ethical debate re what a human is; the third Retrieval Artist Universe: The Anniversary Day saga is a fantastic thriller as the audience obtains new perspectives re the pivotal tragedy.  Readers do not have to wait eight years for all the books to be released.  Instead of an annual publication, this excellent science fiction series is on a monthly schedule; having started last November and December with Anniversary Day and Blowback respectively, and Search and Recovery to follow in February.

Harriet Klausner

Nagasaki-Éric Faye

Éric Faye; Emily Boyce (translator)
Gallic Books, Jan 13 2015, $12.95
ISBN: 9781908313652

In a Nagasaki suburb, fifty-six years old meteorologist Shimura Kobo enjoys being a solitary man.  For instance, instead of occasionally joining his colleagues for drinks after work, the bachelor prefers no deviation from his daily routine, which means go home.

However, Shimura notices minute deviations to his orderly life, but assumes it is his imagination running wild.  One day he feels ill so he comes home early only to find proof that his paranoia is based on reality; someone drank half of his juice while he was at work.  Though he loathes to do so, Shimura changes his daily routine; instead of going home he take the tram to Hamanomachi to buy monitoring equipment so he can observe his kitchen from his office computer.  After setting up the camera in his kitchen, Shimura struggles to do anything at work but watch the monitor.  Seeing tiny differences in what he perceives he left in his kitchen to what he observes on his screen, the meteorologist rationalizes these are in his head until he witnesses the fruit juice thief.

Based on a 2008 event in Japan, this profound psychological novella with no action takes an insightful look at how two middle age people react to living alone.  Whereas Shimura thrives on a solo act; the house invader desperately seeks belonging (Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs third level).  Selecting this house eventually makes sense to the audience. 

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Originator-Joel Shepherd

Joel Shepherd
Pyr, Jan 6 2015, $18.00
ISBN: 9781616149925

The human civil war between the Federation and League has left many casualties with the trend heading towards extinction.  Fearing for the species in spite of being a synthetic human loathed by purebreds, Federation Specials Ops GI Cassandra “Sandy” Kresnov and her comrades in arms try to avert another war,  However, the mass extermination of Cesta innocents by lunatics with Talee-implanted technology inside them leave hundreds of thousands dead and hostilities between the two major human groups heated.

In Tanusa, Cai the synthetic Talee investigates human use of his race’s ancient technology.  Cai cautions Sandy that his people nearly went extinct when they went down the same technological path the humans are following, and his people will exterminate anyone who they think might go that way to insure a lethal repeat does not happen.  Eluding the League and the Talee, the father of human synthetics, Renaldo Takewashi arrives in Federation space claiming that the implant in Sandy’s youngest adopted child Kiril will prevent the psychosis from happening.  Only his insistence is a major portion of what Cai warned Sandy has terrorized the Talee into taking action.

The sixth tremendous Cassandra Kresnov military science fiction (see Operation Shield and 23 Years on Fire) once again is a complex timely outer space thriller anchored by plenty of action and a strong cast, but also interweaves a deep look at real issues (like expanding rights to others).  Sandy makes the fresh storyline thrilling; as she faces conflicting dilemmas between being a grizzly momma protecting her cubs and as a GI defending a species that refuses to grant her or her peers the inalienable human rights they should have had regardless of origin but clearly earned in combat.

Harriet Klausner

Behind God’s Back-Harri Nykänen

Behind God’s Back
Harri Nykänen; Kristian London (Translator)
Bitter Lemon Press, Nov 18 2014, $14.95
ISBN: 9781908524423

In Helsinki, someone murders Jewish office supplies stores owner Samuel Jacobson in front of his home in Tammisalo.  Helsinki Violent Crimes Unit Chief Detective Huovinen assigns Detective Ariel Kafka to investigate the homicide because his subordinate and the victim are Jewish.  Ariel knew Samuel as the cop dated the victim’s daughter Lea when they were eighteen, but conceals that from his superior officer. 

As he and Detective Simolin go to the crime scene, Ariel knows Lea lives in Israel.  Neighbors inform the culprit was a cop.  They next question the widow Ethel who mentions her son Roni is in Lapland.  The cops also learn from her that her workaholic husband stayed home for three days in spite of not being ill; and that he obtained a loan from Baltic Invest Estonian bank through the law firm of Kafka & Oxbaum; owned by Ariel’s brother Eli and their second cousin Max.  As the inquiry internationally widens to include Israel’s Mossad and the Russian Mafia, a second similar murder occurs; thus the Finnish Security Police become involved.

The second Case for Ariel Kafka of Helsinki’s Violent Crimes Unit (see Nights of Awe) is a fabulous Finnish police procedural.  The lead protagonist may not be a practicing Jew, but feels strongly about keeping his race and Israel safe.  The multifaceted investigation follows subgenre standard procedurals but also contains red herrings and twists.  However, it is the close look into Finland’s small Jewish community, still distrustful of authorities even by those generations born decades after the Holocaust, that make for a complex terrific whodunit.

Harriet Klausner