MURDER-GO-ROUND: REVIEWS BY HARRIET KLAUSNER
In The Bleak Midwinter
There are few females in Melanie Turner’s occupation, but the general contractor relishes taking over Turner Construction from her retired dad. Currently she leads the restoration of the Cheshire House a historic Queen Anne Victorian house in San Francisco. Every house has problems in the renovation, but this one includes Jim and Katenka Daley who insist on residing in the basement apartment while the renovations occur.
Mel also has the ability to see and hear ghosts. She believes there are many spirits roaming Cheshire House. Initially the ghostly occupants play harmless pranks like handprints on a very high ceiling and footprints in which only Mel the medium can see them. However, not all the spirits resting in Cheshire Inn are benign; one who is malevolent has the skill to make people do what it wants them to do. When cantankerous neighbor (and former resident) Emile Blunt is found dead, a former resident of Cheshire House when it was a boarding house, Mele believes there is a link between the murder and the spirits. Although she understands the lethal risk that no other living person on the project does, Mel must find a way to coax the ghosts to move on and out of Cheshire House while finding out who killed Emile.
The second Haunted House Renovation Mystery (see If Walls Could Talk) is a chilling paranormal locked inn whodunit that will frighten even the Ghostbusters let alone readers. Mel is a courageous strong person who though scared feels she must complete the project which includes ridding the house of its otherworldly occupants. Dead Bolt is a terrific paranormal amateur sleuth.
Tell Lyons left the Border Patrol following the deaths of his wife and child in a firebombing incident. He accepts a position as Chief of Police of New Austin, Ohio. Although he is no where near the border, the town and Horton County have illegal immigration issues.
However, as Horton County Sheriff Able Hawk enforces the federal immigration law, someone rapes and murders single mom Thalia Ruiz, a legal Mexican-American. Tell investigates with pressure to not dig too deep. His only ally is Able who believes in enforcing the law regardless of what race broke it. As other deadly assaults on legal or not Latina occurs, Tell begins to come back to life when he meets and is attracted to natural citizen Patricia Maldonado, whose parents are documented; not that it matters to some.
This is an exciting pull no punches look at the full immigration issue. The story line is action-packed as the two law enforcement officials investigate the horrific felon in which they believe blood is red while other “profilers” believe their opponents need to bleed. Gruesome, Craig McDonald extrapolates the immigration issue insanity into a powerful condemnation of all sides.
Already a dalaigh advocate of the law, Sister Fidelma of Cashel asks her brother King Colgu of Mumen to appoint her as the Chief Brehon magistrate. He conditionally agrees, but insists she first look into the suspicious death of scholar Brother Donnchad.
Abbott Iarnla asked the king to investigate the death of the Brother who recently feared for his life. He was found dead in his locked cell with stab wounds on his body yet his corpse seemed restful rather than frantic. Additionally manuscripts he was working on appear missing. Accompanying Sister Fidelma to the island where the Abbey of Lios Mor is located is her Brother Eadulf. Even before reaching the abbey, someone tries to assassinate the two investigators. At Lios Mor, cooperation is not forthcoming from most of the residents.
This is a great seventh century locked room Mystery of Ancient Ireland. As always the setting comes to life in this strong historical series (see The Dove of Death). While the lead couple struggles with divisive personal issues that enhance the plot as both lose some focus on the mission, it is the brilliant locked cell inquiry that makes Peter Tremayne’s The Chalice of Blood an excellent thriller.
During the holiday season of 2004 in Alpine, Washington Emma Lord, editor and publisher of the Alpine Advocate, misses her lover sheriff Milo Dodge who is in the Seattle area dealing with his ex wife and their daughter. Emma has her own family to contend with over the Christmas season as her son Father Adam and her brother Father Ben are coming to see her.
Meanwhile human bones are found on the Skykomish River while some kids exploring a cave find human male remains. The townsfolk especially Roy Everson wonder whether the grisly river find is his mother Myrtle, who vanished sixteen years ago while berry picking and if the cave discovery is linked. At the same time Troy Laskey escapes from jail. His parents moved to Alpine to be near him, as he serves time for drug trafficking; his father is a reporter at the Advocate. Emma’s best friend House & Home editor Vida Runkel has problems with her spoiled grandson. When Milo returns to town, they have to figure out who killed the person that the bones belonged to while dealing with Ben who disapproves of her relationship with Milo.
The latest Emma Lord Cascades cozy (see The Alpine Vengeance) is an extended family affair highlighted with the knowledge that Milo will always be there for the love of his life. There is plenty happening to the townsfolk as this is a Christmas filled with death and attempted murder. Although newcomers will find it difficult to engage with the long running cast, everyone will relish the exciting Alpine Winter mystery.
As snow is on the ground in Badger's End, someone kills delivery boy Jimmy Taylor and shoemaker Thomas Willow. In each case, the culprit cut off a lock of hair and left behind a gold angel on their forehead. Constable Sam Northcutt surprises Cecily Sinclair Baxter of the Pennyfoot Hotel, when he asks for her help as normally he is annoyed with her sleuthing though he admits she has a successful solve rate (see Mistletoe And Mayhem). Her husband Baxter reminds Cecily of her promise to do no detecting this year.
She tries to nudge her spouse to free her from her promise, as the first telegram arrives, canceling reservations at the Pennyfoot. He reluctantly agrees to let her sleuth while lecturing stable hand Samuel to stay at her side at all times. As Cecily seeks links between the victims, more murders with gold angels as a signature and cancelations make this the deadly season of the Herald of Death.
The latest early twentieth century Special Pennyfoot Hotel Mystery (see Decked With Folly) is another superb homicidal historical holiday cozy. The "Upstairs, Downstairs” class difference just before WWI comes alive, as it always does in the Pennyfoot saga, in this exciting amateur sleuth. Although the story line starts a bit slower than normal as the feisty heroine must extract her self from her promise to her spouse, series fans will enjoy realizing she has come a long way with the inept Northcutt and her concerned spouse recognizing her sleuthing skills.
Brooklyn private investigator Moe Prager learns he has a golf ball tumor in his stomach that reminds him of his discussions with his late friend Auschwitz survivor Izzy Roth about God being the ultimate tough love advocate. His stomach cancer will wait until after his daughter Sarah marries Vermont State Prosecutor Paul, the biological son of Rico, his police buddy back in the Coney Island days.
At a pre-wedding party, his former wife Carmella Melendez pleads with Moe to investigate the stabbing death of her estranged sister, Alta Conseco; the cops show no interest as the bitch got what she deserved. His former sister-in-law was a FDNY EMT who became the focus of international scorn a few months ago when she and her peer Maya Watson refused to treat cook Robert Tillman as he was dying at an upscale restaurant from a stroke. Mo never could say no to Carmella even though she ripped out his heart when she left him for Toronto. Watson in hiding offers little useful information to Moe as she prefers to remain concealed. He makes little progress, but refuses to quit as he slowly, with the help of a former cop buddy, uncovers a department filled with de facto harassment and extortion.
Moe’s cynical bone weary Brooklyn shtick makes for a strong private investigative thriller loaded with plausible twists and a terrific resolution. The story line is an action-paced trek on the mean streets of New York as Prager is at his best, which says a lot (see Empty Ever After and Innocent Monster), working his element of looking into sleaze.
Kincaid extracts Rogan from the mine, but she also finds the corpse of a young woman inside the shaft. Sheriff’s deputy Weddle ridicules Kincaid as the body vanished. As Rogan heals from his dislocated shoulder and minor scrapes and bruises, he and Kincaid investigate a murder that the townsfolk ignore. Someone tries to kill the intruders while FBI agent Noah Armstrong arrives to assist his friends.
The third Lucy Kincaid FBI suspense (see Love Me To Death and Kiss Me, Kill Me) is an exhilarating tale from the moment the idyllic week ends with the arson. The story line is fast-paced throughout as reader will enjoy this taut tale while also wondering whether Kincaid can tell Rogan she loves him.
Bonus novella: Love Is Murder. Lucy Kincaid visits her brother Patrick, a former cop, in the Sierra Nevada’s. Also at the Delarosa Mountain Retreat are three newlywed couples. A snowstorm isolates the lodge from the outside as one of the brides Vanessa took too many pills and is found dead. Patrick suspects murder, but he becomes ill, so Lucy investigates the homicide. This is an entertaining locked lodge mystery occurring before the heroine became a Fed but Kincaid professionally works the case like a seasoned veteran.
In 1893 London at Lady Londonderry’s ball, British intelligence agent Colin Hargreaves waltzes with his beloved wife Emily when he is forced to intercede between two men about to go to blows. Before he can finish what he started, the butler gives him a note. He informs Emily he must leave to look into a fire in Southwark. That night he comes home very late and tells his beloved spouse that exporter Michael Dillman died in the warehouse inferno.
Michael’s grieving fiancée Cordelia tells Colin that an unknown vandal threw red paint on his door. The family of Polly Sanders, the latest scandalous lineage rumor of the Ton, also is a victim of the red paint scoundrel. Other aristocratic families face the same paint assault followed by a shocking disclosure. That humiliates the victims. Emily wants to help her husband with the cases, but fears the sadistic culprit will paint her with a scarlet letter.
The sixth Lady Emily late Victorian mystery (see Dangerous to Know) is a wonderful period piece as the Ton suddenly live in fear of an unknown predator who gleefully exposes skeletal secrets. The story line is fast-paced from the moment that Colin leaves the ball in Mayfair and never slows down as Tasha Alexander provides a profound exhilarating historical with contemporary implications in which the ends justify the means.
Scotland Yard Inspector Thomas Pitt’s mother-in-law Caroline Fielding and her husband Joshua the actor travel to Whitby, York for a performance of Bram Stoker’s recently published novel Dracula. Alice Netheridge has adopted the horror thriller to be performed on the stage at the town where the Count first disembarked on English soil. Joshua will direct the play with hopes of obtaining major funding from Alice’s wealthy father Charles for next spring’s theatre productions. Charles hosts the Fielding couple and actors from Joshua’s troupe.
A heavy snowstorm isolates everyone at the mansion on the hill. While the weather outside is frightful, a straggler Anton Ballin arrives asking for sanctuary from the storm. He uncannily resembles Dracula and makes recommendations to improve the production that sound like someone who is a vampire insider. Soon after his arrival, murder follows. With everyone locked inside the mansion believing Ballin is the cold blooded killer, Caroline investigates.
The latest Anne Perry Victorian Christmas mystery (see Silent Night and A Christmas Odyssey) is a superb locked mansion whodunit as Caroline proves to be a capable detective and a wonderful protagonist who holds the entertaining tale together. The cast is solid while Carline’s detecting is clever fun. Fans will enjoy Pitt’s in-law as an amateur sleuth investigating a homicide.
In London, septuagenarian Bostonian tourists, Widow Nancy Haynes and Widower Emerson Merkle attend the annual Chelsea Flower Show. However, their enjoyment ends when an apparently insane man hammers Emerson knocking him to the ground and then this crazy person throws Nancy in front of a bus. Scotland Yard’s Serious Crime Division investigates what is assumed to be a homicide committed by a lunatic.
Detective Chief Inspector David Brock and Detective Inspector Kathy Kolla are horrified by the violent act. Closed circuit cameras in the area fail to show the killer, which the cops assume means this was not a random murder but a planned assault needing help. The police round up the killer’s support team like Danny Yilnaz who drove the culprit from the homicide scene on his bike. None of them can describe their “client” and are shocked he committed a homicide; all of them are afraid they will be next. Near the Chelsea Mansions Hotel where the two Americans were staying, someone stabs to death wealthy Russian Mikhail Moszynski. Brock and Kolla assume the two murders are linked, but cannot find that connection.
The latest Brock and Kolla British police procedural (see Spider Trap and The Dark Mirror) is an engaging whodunit in which the cops struggle with the motives behind the murders. The story line is fast-paced but has too much on the peripheral going on from the Cold War hauntings to illegal financial and political dealings, etc. Still series fans will enjoy this entertaining case especially when the official inquiry is front and center.
As Christmas nears, the worst snow in a quarter of a century compounded by ice makes life difficult in Llanelen, Wales. Although there have been delays and not just because of the weather, business partners Penny Brannigan and Victoria Hopkirk continue with preparations for the grand opening of their new upscale spa overlooking the River Conwy.
American dance instructor Harry Saunders arrives in Llanelen and charms Widow Evelyn Lloyd while teaching ballroom dancing at the community center. However, though he appears to be a nice fellow, many residents suspect the outsider is taking Evelyn to the cleaners. They prove right when he persuades her to give him money in a sure shot investment. As soon as she gives him the loot, he vanishes. However, Saunders fails to get very far as his murdered corpse is found near Conwy Castle with a horde of people of interest since the Stretch and Sketch Club and other locals had the opportunity, but the weapon belongs to the fleeced widow. Knowing she is the prime suspect as she had the motive, the opportunity and the means, Evelyn pleads with Penny, who has solved murders before (see The Cold Light of Mourning and A Brush with Death), to prove her innocence.
The third Welsh Brannigan cozy is a delightful whodunit as it takes a village to convolute a murder investigation. The Canadian expatriate protagonist makes the story line entertaining as she remains a somewhat accepted outsider busy with the spa opening, but works an amateur sleuth investigation as well.
During a ground breaking ceremony for a museum at the Fort Washita Historical Site in Oklahoma, a load of Civil War era weapons, a metal box containing documents and much more is uncovered. The Heritage News Channel reports that the Oklahoma Historical Society assigns South Central College of Oklahoma historian Dr. Nick Journey to oversee the evaluation and cataloguing of the find. However, one viewer the Judge in West Virginia becomes particularly concerned with a gold pin with the initials G.W. on it and the documents.
Nick reads one document many times as he is chilled with what he peruses. When he and Assistant Professor Sandra Kelly go to lunch someone searches his office. Their mission is to do whatever it takes to retrieve the Glory Warriors’ original lost charter from the professor. Later that evening professional operatives attack him; he escapes but not before he runs one assailant wearing a G. W. pin down. In DC, researcher Meg Tolman joins Nick at a time when the Glory Warriors believes they must implement the instructions of their founding generals to take over the failed federal government.
This is a superb conspiracy thriller that uses the premise of what happened at Appomattox Court House when Grant and Lee were alone for a few minutes to build a shadow force waiting just in case martial law is needed when the war is over. Although over the top of Black Mesa and the Washington Monument with Nick’s escapes from an unknown highly trained special unit, readers will relish the fast-paced story line that never slows down yet also constructs a fascinating historical conspiratorial premise.
During the sweltering summer of 1976 on a infrequently traveled back dirt road in rural Georgia, Melodie Godwin driving her car swerves to avoid hitting ten year old Kyle Edwards riding his bike. Her quick action leaves the tweener unhurt, but the car overturned severely injuring Melodie. Kyle sees her blood everywhere and takes off in a panic. He tells no one.
The next day the lad returns to scene of the accident with trepidation, but there is no major indication an incident occurred just yesterday. Not long afterward, Sheriff’s Deputy Officer Dana Turpin searches for the missing woman while Kyle’s neighbor viciously clever stroke victim Kenny “the Paralyzed Man” Ahearn observes the youngster with a malicious intent.
This is an exciting historical suspense thriller starring a frightened child, a nasty villain, a dedicated law enforcement official, and the missing victim. The tense story line is fast-paced from the moment of the near collision and never slows down until the final confrontation. Although over the top of Stone Mountain, readers will enjoy what goes down At the End of the Road.
Freelance writer Robyn Guthrie enjoys her assignments for the Weekly News and Record. However, she is heartbroken when staff reporter Clair dies in a hit and run accident in a side of the road that makes no sense for her to be walking there. Clair’s editor hires Robyn to finish the late reporter’s piece on the Cedar Ridge subdivision; she accepts the assignment with the caveat she will investigate her peer’s death also.
Robyn diligently works both stories while dealing with personal traumas. Her senile mom is losing her memory and driving her crazy while residing in an assisted living facility; and the reporter is not seeing her long boyfriend Mick over the issue of children. Her two stories converge when she follows Clair’s notes and photos as something is insidiously wrong at Cedar Grove. This evil kills parents and children. Robyn develops a plan, but to succeed she needs cooperation from a lot of people wary to get involved.
Dealing with people who break the law on land deals is hard enough, but when these same felons place children in danger to make more money is evil. Robyn’s high school adversary is involved though initially ignorant and tries to make things as right as can be though the horse has left the barn. The storyline focuses on the key characters including a “blackmailing” rogue former EPA field agent and what motivates each to act and react in the way they do.
Wake Up, America! Morning show is on location in Chicago. Retired CPD cop Edward “Pat” Patton, the extreme right wing true crime blogger, guests appears on the show. He accosts the co-host Billy Blessing; whom he knew when the renowned chef was a two bit con artist Billy Blanchard who was sent to prison for fraud and implies he also knows what happened to Billy’s partner in that failed Detroit sting from twenty-five years ago.
After prison, Blessing did a complete makeover but concealed his sordid past. Patton threatens to out him on his blog unless Blanchard pays for silence. However, someone murders Patton and soon other homicides associated with the show occur. Still fearing exposure, Blessing investigates hoping to expose the killer.
The latest Blessing amateur sleuth (see The Morning Show Murders and The Midnight Show Murders) is an entertaining mystery in which the protagonist’s dark past deftly comingles with his lighthearted asides. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Patton and Blessing have that first heated discussion and never slows down until the final spin. Ironically, though in danger of becoming the tabloid’s latest celeb scandal and being assaulted, kidnapped, and shot at, Blessing knows his biggest tsuris is his attraction to the French actress in town filming.
The Tarzana Hookers crochet group is excited as one of their members, actress CeeCee Collins has made a comeback with insiders talking Oscar. CeeCee is excited with appearing on the popular Barbara Olive Overton Show where her niece Nell works as a production assistant. Although the movie star is wary that she has to cook a dish, Molly Pink and other Hookers mentor CeeCee.
While the Tarzana Hookers sit in the audience, Barbara interviews CeeCee until Adele starts shouting that crocheters deserve equal time with knitters. Adele and Molly, who tried to get the outspoken Hooker to sit, are removed from the auditorium by segment producer Robyn Freed. Nell brings a latte to Robyn who lectures her for not bringing her sweetener. Nell gets it and Robyn sips her cold coffee only to fall down dead. Detective Heather leads the homicide investigation in which the only suspect is Nell. As Nell is placed on leave, CeeCee asks Molly, who has solved mysteries (see You Better Knot Die) to investigate. Molly begins her inquiry fascinated by a photo on the victim’s desk in which a person has been cut out.
The latest Tarzana Hookers amateur sleuth is an entertaining tale although the whodunit for much of the story line plays second fiddle to the Behind the Seams look at the group. Nell is a delightful protagonist who is in denial as to how much trouble she is in. Cozy fans will enjoy this lighthearted whodunit as CeeCee trusts Molly to extract Nell from going to prison while Adele keeps screaming for Crocheters to unite.
In a freezing February in 1203, Serjeant of the Castle Garrison Ernulf walks the ramparts when he discovers the corpse of visitor Aubrey Tercel, part of the retinue of Peternille de la Haye, sister of the hereditary castellan Nicolaa de la Haye. The victim was obviously shot by a specially made longbow that Nicolaa’s late father gave her. Since the sheriff Gerald Camville is away, Ernulf informs Richard Camville, the son of Gerald and Ernulf. Richard and Ernulf conduct a preliminary investigation before telling Richard’s mom, aunt and cousin Alinor de Humez. They send for the coroner Pinchbeck who arrives to collect a fee for the death, but also claims that he is busy so Richard should investigate.
Nicolaa asks the Templar Preceptor d’Arderon if Knight Bascot de Marins can help with a homicide inquiry as he has solved murder mysteries before (see Shroud of Dishonor and Murder for Christ’s Mass) Thus he comes to Lincoln Castle to team up with Richard and Alinor, and assisted by Gianni who he brought with him from the Italian streets. The obvious culprit is Simon Adgate the furrier who’s much younger wife Clarice acts like her lover died. However, the case proves much more complicated with the roots born in 1177.
For the first quarter of the latest Templar Knight mystery, Bascot does not appear as Richard and Ernulf start the investigation. The four detectives make a wonderful team as their discussions are intelligent and relevant. Fans of medieval cozies, set in a vividly described background in which readers will feel the cold, will enjoy A Deadly Penance.
Following the death of her lover Cole, the father of her nine year old son David who suffers from cerebral palsy, A.J. Palladino returns to her hometown, Scotia, West Virginia. The environmental activist partners with attorney Elizabeth Hardy on environmental investigations. Owen Grandel wants to hire the famous A.J. to persuade protestors that his nuclear power plant is safe. The million dollar fee will help care for her disabled child.
Ignoring her values A.J. accompanies Owen to his plant in South Carolina. Her actions upset David who detests his mom selling out because of his condition. The tweener also overhears his grandfather plotting to gain custody of him. He turns to family friend Sheriff Ty to counter the diabolical lethal scheme of his grandfather. In South Carolina, as a hurricane bears down on the state, a fanatic wants to use the reactor to trigger Armageddon.
With the recent nuclear mess in Japan, Hot Water is a relevant environmental thriller that grips the audience once A.J. and Owen meet. The heroine is caught between her values and her son’s economic needs, which add realism to the mix. Although the detracting grandfather plot is over the top of Sassafras Mountain, the clean safe nuclear energy issue makes for a fabulous A.J. environmental thriller (see Rock Bottom).
In Lisbon Falls, Maine, Al Templeton, owner of Al’s Diner, discovers a temporal portal that enables a traveler to go back fifty-three years to September 9, 1958 at 11:58 a.m. Each time a person enters the time hole, they go to that same moment, but no matter how long they remain in the past, they return to the present having lost only two minutes while history is altered.
High school English teacher Jake Epping tests Jake’s theory, but when he returns he finds his previously healthy friend dying from lung cancer and admitting he has gone back in time trying to prevent the JFK assassination. With no family to speak of, a lonely Jake agrees to complete Al’s mission though he assumes Oswald did not work alone. Jake tests the concept by intervening in the family of a night student of his who faced a tragedy back in 1958. He soon learns history prefers to return to the original reality though he tries to prevent 11/22/63 from happening.
This is an engaging time travel thriller in which Stephen King makes a strong case that Oswald worked alone, a key element in the plot for conspiracy believer Jake to accept. The story line is action-packed with the changes in history such as cigarette smoking attitudes cleverly devised. Part of the fun is debating the possibility of the changes being reasonable as Mr. King provides an entertaining tale.
Two years ago, San Diego homicide detective Sami Rizzo confronted a serial killer who she felt took away her zest for police work (see They Never Die Quietly). After resolving the case but not before the predator tortured her, she resigned. Sami remains conflicted over quitting the department while struggling with her relationships with loved ones.
Sami learns that a corpse has been found in Mission Bay Park with the sternum surgically cut. Other bodies also sliced with physician’s precision also surface as if someone was conducting medical experiments. Like SDPD, Sami believes a serial killer is loose and she wants in on the case.
A child abuse victim, heart surgeon Dr. Julian seeks a cure for atrial fibrillation, which killed his mother. However, his grant request is denied, which spins his already psychosis into an obsessive compulsive need.
Sami’s super second case is an exhilarating thriller due to the lead antagonists as D.M. Annechino provides an insightful comparative analysis of how two people cope radically different with traumas. Ironically Julian’s rationale that the end justifies the means makes him the more fascinating character as his defense rings authentic especially since 9/11. Although there are too many subplots involving family members, fans will appreciate this entertaining thought provoking police procedural.
On her dying bed, the mother of art thief Gideon Crew informs him his late father was framed and murdered by his Army Intel Officer superiors to take the fall for their blunders. She makes him take a death bed pledge to avenge his dad. As he did as a thief, Gideon prepares for his mission and after a few years completes his mother’s last plea.
Gideon takes his first vacation since he leaned the truth about his father. While he is fly-fishing, a Department of Homeland Security agent, who observed how meticulous and successful Crew was on his family vendetta, offers him money to obtain the plans of a special weapon of mass destruction being brought from China to New York. Having doubts about the case, the Fed throws in the fact that Crew is dying from an incurable disease. Meanwhile the Chinese hire Nodding Crane to regain their WMD plans.
This is an entertaining over the top of the Empire State Building thriller starring an intriguing hero with a depressing history. The enemy agent is cartoonish as a super killing machine, but he adds fun to the tale that initially will remind readers of the TV show Revenge until DHS recruits Crew. Readers will root for Crew as he battles a powerful adversary for the plans to a WMD.
Residents of Barringer’s Pass, Colorado know the Larkin family as eccentric screwballs. The first generation is a hippie couple; while their offspring earned the reputation as wild sisters. Now Maggie, Sophie and Zoe, the wild sisters, seek respectability though each knows that will be like climbing the Rockies.
At Alpine Sky Resort in the Posh Aerie nightclub, reality TV star of Trust Fund Brats Rafe DeLuca demands Maggie put out since he bought her drinks. She grinds her heel into his foot, but he keeps hitting on her as he knows the reputation of a Larkin. Oklahoma State cop Cal Drummond, who is on a leave of absence from Oklahoma City, watches Red as he calls Maggie punch Rafe in the nose. Rafe’s bodyguard draws a gun out as Maggie yells at him. Cal rescues her but the whole incident is captured on video.
Cal believes Rafe is a serial killer who murdered and tortured his half-sister Julie. He further explains Maggie is in the tabloid crosshairs as well as the affluent De Luca family. He insists Rafe will come for her as no one embarrasses this psychopath. Finally Cal insists he will be at her side to keep her safe.
This is a delightful and exciting romantic suspense starring a by the book cop and a reckless dive head first woman. The story line is fast-paced with an eye-opening look at spin-masters playing the media like virtuosos. Readers will appreciate Silver Sparks between seemingly polar opposites as Starr Ambrose provides an entertaining Larkin first act.
Twelve years ago, Anna Pallino worked at an ice cream parlor. She was near closing waiting for her boyfriend Dante Renaldi and his foster brothers (Gabe, Roman and Jeff) to arrive for their nightly freebie. She goes to the dark alley to toss the trash, but someone assaults her with a knife. They hear her scream and rush to the alley where Dante tackles her attacker. The man dies. Anna has the boys flee so they can avoid juvie, but her relationship with Dante died that night too.
Encouraged by her dad Frank, Dante joined the army and for the next dozen years was in the Special Forces. Now his beloved foster mother Ellen Clemens asks him to come home for her twenty-fifth anniversary gala; he would do anything for her and George so he returns to St. Louis for the first time since that night in the alley. However, his return is marred by the murder of George that copy cats what went down in the same alley twelve years ago. St. Louis homicide detective Anna leads the investigating in which her former boyfriend is a prime suspect. More similar murders follow with Anna wondering whether the man she loves is a cold killer.
The Heart of a Killer is a tense second chance police procedural filled with a surprising twist that seems over the top of the Arch. Action-packed, readers will enjoy the marred homecoming of Dante as he struggles with the death of beloved George, helping Ellen with her loss and keeping Anna safe while being the prime suspect.
In Houston, former Army Ranger, private investigator Trace Rawlins will tell you dames are trouble; but redheads are the most troublesome of the breed. He knows first hand as his argument is built around his ex wife Maggie O’Connell the photographer.
Someone stalks Maggie sending her nasty messages and calling her with ugly threats. Though he feels he was born yesterday when it comes to her, Trace knows nothing adds up as he senses she conceals something from him and the cops appear indifferent to her plight. Still in love with her, Trace distrusts his former spouse but he cannot help himself as he has a deep gut need to protect her from whoever is assaulting her.
The third Raines of Wind Canyon (Against the Law and Against the Wind) romantic suspense is a tense psychological thriller in which the terror campaign takes top seat over the second chance at love subplot. Fast-paced with two obstinate fully developed protagonists, readers will feel the growing tension but are unsure what is going on as reasonable twists fool the audience and the hero. Kat Martin is at her best with Against the Storm.
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