Putnam, Apr 2010, $25.95
In 1176, King Henry II of England orders his most trusted friend and adviser, his Mistress of the Art of Death, Dr. Adelia Aguilar to escort his ten year old daughter Joanna to Sicily where she will marry her second cousin King William. Adelia knows the area quite well having studied medicine in Salerno, Italy.
The trek proves dangerous as there are several assassins who want to strike at King Henry by killing his daughter and by one insidious killer Scarry, who wants Adelia dead. Some members of the wedding party are murdered as they journey across the continent. However though seeking the killers, Adelia never loses sight that keeping Princess Joanna safe is all that counts.
The fourth Mistress of the Art of Death historical mystery (see Grave Goods) is an entertaining tale based on the real wedding journey of Princess Joan. The deadly trek hooks the audience although the historical aspects overwhelm the whodunit. Still readers who enjoy a late twelve century tale will want to join Adelia, Joanna and their companions on they travel from England to Sicily. Harriet Klausner
Dutton, Mar 9 2010, $26.95
A Ukrainian ship carrying human cargo to New York sinks near Rockaway Beach in Queens. Many die with the few survivors talking in their native tongue about abuse and brutality. Thirty women were part of the cargo to be employed in the lucrative sex trade; however one of the females died before she fell into the icy water. New York County Sex Crimes Office ADA Alexandra Cooper is at the scene shocked by the inhuman behavior and vows to find out who killed this Jane Doe.
Married Manhattan Congressman Ethan Leighton flees the scene of a car accident that he caused being under the influence at the about the same time his lover Mexican immigrant Salma Zunega calls 911 to report his threatening her. Soon afterward she and their child Ana vanish. Mayor Vin Statler demands resolution, but not expected it to occur at Gracie Mansion nor the snakehead rose tattoo tying the cases together.
The latest Cooper thriller is a terrific entry (see Lethal Legacy) that hooks the audience immediately and never misses a beat though there is even more going on than the two prime subplots. Fast-paced throughout, fans will appreciate Hell’s Gate as Linda Fairstein provides a deep look at human trafficking in which pure capitalism rules over basic commonly accepted rights with the United States as a major economic partner in spite of solid law enforcement efforts to prevent it.
Tooth And Claw
Pantheon, Feb 23 2010, $25.95
In England, Detective Chief Inspector Mark Lapslie finds his synesthesia worsening so he has special compensation to work from his house; sound is the sense that gives him his most difficult challenges as often he nauseatingly tastes noise although he is beginning to hear smells making noises. His wife and child left him even before his olfactory sense changed as he is impossible to live with due to his condition. His sometimes partner Sergeant Emma Bradbury arrives at his house to take Lapslie to the Essex home of TV newscaster Catherine Charnaud, a torture murder victim who was horribly skinned alive. Before arriving Emma gives Mark headphones to keep noise away from him.
Meanwhile psychopath Carl Whittley continues to experiment with explosive devices while constantly fighting with his profiler mom and watching his dad remain bedridden. He is riding high since he skinned Catherine. He plans even more gruesome homicides.
Rotating perspective between a psychopath and a cop with synthesia, Nigel McCrery provides an intriguing English police procedural psychological suspense. Lapslie’s sensual issues along with Whitley’s obsessive compulsive behavior deadly impulses overwhelm the investigation. Readers who relish a psychological comparative study of a cop and a killer adjusting to their respective worlds will want to read Tooth and Claw and its predecessor Still Waters; as for those who prefer a more typical British police procedural needs to pass as the lead duo supersede the case.