The Grim Reaper Dance
Poisoned Pen, Aug 1 2010, $24.95
Casey “Jones” Maldonado is on the run from the CEO of Pegasus. One of his defective cars caused an accident that killed her husband and son. She is also wanted for the murder of a Louisville criminal and for questioning in the death of a Clymer, Ohio citizen. Her only companion is Death and she wishes he would really take her so she can join her family.
She hitches a ride with Wayne a trucker. They get into an accident caused by men who want the papers he has hidden on his truck. Before he dies, he tells Casey where they are and she stays in the small town where Wayne lived to obtain the papers and see that Wayne in death receives justice. Plenty of truckers from Class P Trucking wants the documents and will do whatever it takes to retrieve them. Casey takes refuge in a shed in the middle of nowhere. There she meets teens who were at the hospital. They kind of adopt her and help her when the truckers catch up to Casey who in spite of the danger remains resolute in determining who killed Wayne.
Death is an actual essence that only Casey can see though one can wonder whether she suffers delusions. He is with her trying to convince her that she needs to swing the bat by rejoining the living as it is not time for her to Embrace the Grim Reaper. Casey has a deep rooted social conscience so though she prefers death rather than life as her companion, she still insists social justice occurs and is willing to risk her existence to see it happen even for a dead person. The Grim Reaper Dance is an excellent mystery starring a strange perhaps deranged heroine and her “BFF” Death. Harriet Klausner
Putnam, Aug 10 2010, $26.95
Medical examiners Laurie Montgomery and Jack Stapleton are euphoric with the birth of their first offspring. Following medical leave, Laurie returns to work and her boss assigns to her a routine inquiry in which the preliminary indication is death by natural causes.
However, something feels off kilter to Laurie and she is positive it is not caused by postpartum blues. She digs a bit deeper and soon realizes the victim has been poisoned. Her investigation leads to the Mafia and Japanese gangsters competing with money laundering investments in a crooked stem-cell research firm. When the felons kidnap her son Laurie goes lioness berserker in pursuit.
Cure in an exciting medical thriller due to the diligence of the lead protagonist whose investigation leads to a convergence of the biotechnical and mob industries aimed at her and her loved ones. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Laurie begins her autopsy and never slows down. Although resolutions are incredibly too obvious, easy and abrupt, fans will enjoy the latest Montgomery-Stapleton tale (see Foreign Body) as the enemy goes after them by targeting their Achilles’ Heel. Harriet Klausner
Atria, Jul 20 2010, $16.00
When Edward Hunter was nine years old his life radically changed. First a voice in his head directed him to put nails inside a steak that he fed to a dog, who died a painful death. In that same year his father dubbed Jack the Hunter was arrested and convicted of killing at least eleven prostitutes; his older sister died from an overdose; and finally Edward’s mom committed suicide unable to cope with what Jack did.
Shocked into behaving, Edward becomes an accountant and affectionately loving towards his wife Jodie and their six-year-old daughter Sam. During Christmas week Jodie and Edward are at a bank in Christchurch, New Zealand when six armed robbers assault the place. Edward goes into face them, but his confrontation leads to Jodie’s death. The dormant voice is back ordering him to kill. Shook by his wife’s death and the voice, Edward visits his father for the first since Jack was locked away. Jack says he heard the voice too and suggests to his son to follow its call and avenge the murder of his beloved wife.
This is a fascinating character study that looks deeply at what motivates anti society activities. The story line is at its best when the focus is inside the head of Edward who thinks he may just be a chip off the old block. However, the story line also contains too many subplots in which none fully take charge though ultimately the myriad converge in a final clash. Still fans of twisting psychological thrillers with a red sea of blood will want to read Edward’s lament (perhaps too much lamenting by him) as he fears his DNA imprint is serial killer not family patriarch. Harriet Klausner