Doubleday, May 26 2009, $24.95
In Paul Bunyan State Forest, Minnesota a hunter finds the butchered corpse of a teenage girl. FBI Agents Bernadette Saint Clare and Tony Garcia lead the investigation into the horrific homicide made worse by the culprit slicing open the victim’s body to remove her nine month old fetus.
The fatality is Lydia Dunton, the found daughter of U.S. senator Magnus Dunton, who has made it publicly clear his scorn for the bureau even before his daughter’s death and is even more outraged with the feds. On Lydia’s head is an inverted red pentagram, but that somehow vanishes at the morgue. Conducting research into similar recent cases, Saint Clare discovers an identical murder in Wisconsin and proof that Lydia had been at that location recently.
The third Saint Clare Minnesota FBI paranormal police procedural (see BLIND RAGE and BLIND SPOT) is an exciting whodunit enhanced by the abuse of power of the grieving father. The investigation is fun to follow though it predominately goes by the sub-genre’s standard operating procedures. Ehat is interesting is Saint Clare’s ability to “see” through the eyes of a killer; yet as with BLIND RAGE, this skill is for the most part irrelevant to solving the case. Still Fans will enjoy this entertaining Minnesota murder mystery. Harriet Klausner
Vanguard, Jul 2009, $24,95
In the waters of Whiskey Gulf in British Columbia, joint naval maneuversby Canada and the United States are going on when the damaged and filling with water sailboat Rebecca Anne enters the exercise zone. The Kinsleys reach the Comax Coast Guard who transfers them to Winchelsea Control before they are cut off and never heard from again. The Kulsham Yacht Club hires former Coast Guard investigator turned maritime private sleuth Charlie Noble to learn what happened to the couple.
He goes to the area in Whisky Gulf where the sailboat allegedly landed and finds fiberglass pieces and other evidence that supports the theory the Rebecca Anne blew up. Charlie sees two torpedoes going through the water near him. Charlie later learns they were used as a decoy to show the buying country Baharin that the guidance system still needs work. Intelligence confirms that the Kinsley’s (not their real names) are needed to testify against a terrorist in the States while the Canadians hide them to keep them safe until they do. An assassin is coming to kill them; a person Charlie once called friend until he shot his brother and that former pal plans to take out Charlie too for killing his sibling.
Action, action, and action to the nth degree makes WHISKEY GULF an absorbing thriller filled with characters who for the most part are hyperbole to insure the action never decelerates. Charlie is retired, but feels duty bound to help destroy a terrorist cell. His partner Raven brings depth to Charlie as he is like a father figure to him. Clyde Ford provides a thriller faster than a speeding Mustang filled with surprising twists and revelations. Harriet Klausner
The Memory Collectors
Dutton, Jun 11 2009, $25.95
At a San Francisco Airport, forensic psychiatrist Jo Beckett examines an upset airline passenger Ian Kanan who has just returned from Africa. She concludes he apparently suffers from a form of short term amnesia that does not allow him to make new memories more than five minutes old though his pre-flight remain okay. Despondent and hyper with anxiety Ian is rushed to the hospital. Unable to calm down, he insists his family was abducted and in trouble, and someone poisoned him. He soon vanishes from the hospital to go after those he feels harmed him and his family.
Beckett investigates Kanan’s background and learns he was a security consultant for Chira-Sayf, a nanotechnology company. She finds out he also may be the accidental victim of an experimental biological weapon Slick. She fears those who Kanan referred to plan to gracefully emit Slick on the city. With her boyfriend Gabe Quintana and SFPD Police Lieutenant Amy Tang accompanying her, Beckett hopes to prevent a terrorist tragedy as the disease is spreading.
The second Beckett thriller (see THE DIRTY SECRETS CLUB) is an action-packed, fast-paced tale in which the audience will not have time to breath. The story line starts at hyperspeed and never slows down so that readers will want to join the ride (wear seat belts). However, the frantic speed keeps character development to a thin level, but no one will care as the enjoyable adventures are faster than the speed of light. Harriet Klausner
Finger Lickin’ Fifteen
St. Martin’s, Jun 23 2009, $27.95
Bond enforcement officer Stephanie Plum is inside Uncle Vinnie’s bail bonds office when her co-worker Lula arrives screaming hysterically that she saw two thugs decapitate chef Stanley Chipotle; a former hooker she is used to giving head not have a head bounce next to her. They know she can identify them so they try to kill her by leaving a bomb in Stephanie’s car, which blows up. Next they firebomb Stephanie’s house because Lula is living there. A bail jumper ruins her car twice. Both vehicles actually belong to Ranger who accepts the loss of his cars with a scary calm detachment since he knows her car was blown to smithereens.
Stephanie helps Ranger in a professional capacity as he hires her to be an extra set of eyes to help him figure out who is robbing his clients. His security business has been taking an exorbitant amount of hits by an insider who knows the protection codes. While trying to bring in people who missed their court dates, Stephanie helps Lula and Grandma Mazur who entered a barbeque contest sponsored by the company who the man who lost his dead worked for. The thugs try to kill them again; Stephanie is tired of being shot at, cars blown up, and her house firebombed. She intends to kick butt and solve who is wrecking Ranger’s business..
FINGER LICKIN’ FIFTEEN is a funny laugh out loud crime thriller filled with plenty of out of control action. The heroine is put through the wringer and rinsed several times she should be suffering from PTSD, but instead she suffers from PISSED OFF. There are several other zany subplots besides those above as Janet Evanovich provides her usual over the edge of the Hudson plum of a tale. Harriet Klausner
Berkley, Jul 2009, $6.99
Heaven does not want him and Hell is not calling either. In life Kevin Fahey was a lousy cheating husband and an absentee father; these were his better traits. As a cop he failed to solve most of his cases. As a spirit wandering his town, he believes he is still on earth to earn redemption though he has no earthly idea how.
One day the ghost of Alissa Hayes appears and leads him to the corpse of a woman who was positioned in the exact manner of her murder that he solved. Kevin now knows he was so drunk and incompetent he let an innocent young man get sent to prison .Kevin is drawn to the lead detective on the case who shine with a pure light; Maggie Gunn quickly connects the homicide of Alissa to that of Victoria Meeks. Fahey is Maggie’s persistent yet invisible companion; he smells evil while she senses it. Maggie figures out who the killer is, but lacks evidence for a conviction. She, as does Fahey, knows he must be taken down because he will torture and slowly kill others. Although Maggie can not sense Fahey’s presence, somehow she feels connected to him. He intends to keep her on the right road so a tragedy can be averted.
As a roaming ghost, Fahey is a much better person than he was as a living being. He sees the beauty of nature, the joy in loving relationships of all kinds, and bitterly regrets how he lived his life. He needs to make reparations and is elated to finally have found a way to do so. Fahey feels he is doing a higher calling and embraces this with a fervor he lacked when he breathed. His feelings for Maggie are not quite defined at this time but emit an interesting aura as he obviously cares what happens to her; a first for him. The investigation is top rate as Chaz McGee has written a mesmerizing paranormal police procedural. Harriet Klausner