Monday, May 23, 2016


    What a deal!  You’ve often heard the pitch “ 2 for 1" - well, this is two in one, yes, 2 popular Harlan Coben novels in one compact edition - 21 hours of the best of Harlan Coben performed by the noteworthy Scott Brick. 

    First off is Six Years - heartbreaking and shocking it is the story of one man’s passion.  College professor Jake Fisher has spent six years trying to forget Natalie,  the only woman he has ever loved who married another man.  He had promised to leave her alone and he has done so although wracked by thoughts of her with another man.  Even in this length of time he has not been able to quell his longing for her.  So, when he reads her hsuband’s obituary he cannot resist going to his funeral hoping for a glimpse of Natalie.

    He arrives at the service and searches the crowd for the grieving widow - what a shock!  It is not Natalie but a woman who had been married to the deceased for almost twenty years.  How could this be?  But once he accepts that fact Jake realizes that everything he had believed about Natalie might not be true. 

    As he begins to search for Natalie all he finds are dead ends - once mutual friends don’t remember him, no one has seen Natalie in years.  The woman who broke his heart, deceived and lied to him, now puts his life at risk.

    Once again Harln Coben delivers a shocking tale that explores the strength of a past love and the secrets that such an obsessive love may hide.

    With Stay Close we meet Megan, a suburban soccer mom who has a rather shady past.  She has two children, a perfect house yet is not satisfied.  We also find Ray who was once a gifted up and coming documentary photographer but now is a paparazzi earning dollars by selling celebrity photos to rich kids.  And we meet Broome, a detective who is unable to put a cold case aside - seventeen years ago a husband and father disappeared.    Broome observes the anniversaries of that disappearance by visiting the house where the man lived.. It appears frozen in time as the family waits as if the man will soon come home to dinner.

    So it is that three people are living lives they never sought and are keeping secrets from those closest to them.  It seems the past is really never gone or is it?

    Another can’t stop listening to tale from Coben!

Friday, May 20, 2016

SENT TO THE DEVIL by Laura Lebow

    Intrigue and murder take the fore in Laura Lebow’s sequel to last year’s The Figaro Murders.  Set in Venice in 1788 and punctuated with robust period detail we find Court Poet Lorenzo Da Ponte wishing only for time to work on the libretto for Mozart’s Don Giovanni.  This is of great importance as the opera is to be a command performance for Emperor Joseph II who recently declared war against the Turks.  That decision has seriously divided the capital city creating tension among the populace, and Lorenzo feels he has no time to waste.  But that is not to be.

    Lorenzo has been receiving a series of coded notes from an unknown writer and the notes make no sense to him.  But above all there is the brutal slaying of a dear friend, Father Alois Bayer, an elderly priest whose body is found with his throat cut and lines carved into his forehead.   There are rumors that the murder was committed by Turks who have sneaked into the city.  Whatever the case, Count Pergen, the minister of police, remembers Lorenzo’s success as a detective and enlists him to help in the investigation.  Of course, Lorenzo cannot refuse to help find his friend’s murderer but is dismayed to learn that a prominent general who the public believes  died due to a seizure was actually murdered in the same fashion as his friend.   

    The general’s daughter demands that her betrothed, Count Benda, avenge her father’s death, so Pergen dispatches Lorenzo and Benda to find the killer.  The libretto and two murders are quite enough to occupy Lorenzo until Marta Cavalli, a beautiful young woman arrives in Vienna to find the man she believes is her husband - the handsome Baron von Gerl who is a notorious womanizer.  When he rejects Marta she turns to Lorenzo.

    Two more murders follow, Lorenzo’s friend Casanova arrives from Venice for a visit, and Lorenzo has good reason to believe he is going to be the next victim.  Suspense mounts when he has no choice but to act as bait in a trap to catch the deranged murderer.   

    If you enjoy historical mysteries Sent To The Devil is for you.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016


The owl and the pussy-cat went to sea
Where the owl soon spoke of amour,
The pussy-cat said, "no thanks!
I'm in love with a manx."
Then jumped in and swam to shore.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

VIOLENT CRIMES by Phillip Margolin

With the sixth Amanda Jaffe novel we find our highly intelligent, fearless Portland attorney facing not only killers but a challenging ethical decision. 

    When Christine Larson, a member of a prestigious law firm, Masterson, Hamilton, Rickman and Thomas, asks Amanda to represent Tom Beatty, a paralegal at her firm, Amanda readily agrees.  Tom is a former Navy SEAL with PTSD who defended himself against a bully in a bar fight.  Witnesses all agree that Tom didn’t start the fight and Amanda gets the charge dismissed.  She’s pleased completely unaware that the real trouble is right around the corner,

    Christine had been looking into falsified financial statements provided by her law firm, but before she has a chance to even ask questions she is murdered and her body planted in Beatty’s apartment.  Further, someone tips a Portland narcotics detective that Beatty had been selling heroin - a trumped up accusation.  The police pick him up and Amanda promises she’ll soon have him bailed out as she’s sure Christine was murdered by one of the top lawyers in her firm - maybe Masterson himself.

    Beatty is released from custody shortly before Masterson is found murdered.  Masterson’s son Brandon is seen running from the house covered in blood so Beatty is off the hook for that murder.  An avid environmental activist Brandon readily admits to the killing and plans to use his trial as a platform to broadcast his father’s crimes. 

    It’s no surprise that Amanda is hired to defend Brandon.  She doesn’t believe his story, but if he didn’t kill Masterson, who did?

    For this reader the plot was overly complex and Amanda’s sleuthing does not reveal any great surprises.

BLOOD FLAG by Steve Martini

    With the first Paul Madriani novel hosts of readers became fans eagerly awaiting his next adventure, and they have not been disappointed.  Smart, courageous, humane Madriani has attacked each suspenseful case until its solved and the bad guys have gotten their just due.  However, with his 14th thriller, Blood Flag, there is a difference - Madriani and his partner Harry Hinds are rich following an unexpected windfall.  There couldn’t be two happier California lawyers until Emma Brauer walks into their offices.

    Emma’s father, World War II veteran Robert Brauer, died recently under mysterious circumstances.  Emma is seen as assisting his demise, sort of a mercy killing.  She vehemently denies any such things and tells Madriani about a package her father received several days before his death.  While the package which was left to him by a member of his World War II unit held only a key and a slip of paper it frightened him.  He asks Emma to take the package out of their house which she does and shortly after that their home is vandalized.   Emma is convinced that her father was murdered and the package had something to do with it. 

    Madriani agrees to take her case, but there is a slight hitch.  Emma is concerned about her dog when she is taken to jail.  Sofia, Madriani’s  attractive young assistant volunteers to go to the Brauer house and get the dog.  Tension mounts when Sofia doesn’t show up for work and days later her body is found by the side of a road.  She has been murdered.

    With her death Madriani is more determined than ever to find answers which takes him on a strange chase against formidable enemies who want a Nazi relic called the Blood Flag that is supposedly stained with the blood of Hitler’s followers.   Neither the lawyers nor the U.S. government know that the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad also want the flag and will evidently stop at nothing to get it. 

    When Madriani looks into records he finds that other members of Brauer’s military unit died under questionable circumstances.  It soon becomes a race against time for him to discover the secrets of the flag in order to prove Emma’s innocence and find Sofia’s killer. 

    Sorry to say that for this reader the plot seemed a bit contrived and even predictable with some unnecessary add-ons.  Nonetheless, it is a Paul Madriani story which is what fans have been waiting for.  Count me among them as I await the next from Steve Martini.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016


"There once was a sweet maiden from Paducah
Who was serenaded with a bazooka,
She said, 'I'll never give my hand
To one who doesn't hire a band,
So scram, you parsimonious palooka!'" -

WAR HAWK by James Rollins and Grant Blackwood

    Following on the heels of their blockbuster The Kill Switch (2014) this estimable writing pair again give us much to enjoy and much to ponder.  For this reader the relationship between former Army Ranger Tucker Wayne and his canine partner, Kane, a Belgian Malinois, is a  joy to behold.  I remain amazed by not only Kane’s loyalty to and protection of Tucker but also the dog’s ability to understand and obey 1000 voice and 400 hand commands.  As an animal lover do have to admit that for me Kane is the hero of this story that takes us back to World War II and mathematician Alan Turing who broke the Nazi’s Enigma Code.

    Tucker’s past catches up with him when a clearly terrified former army colleague, Jane Sabatello, comes to him for help.  Her life and that of her young son, Nathan, is endangered by stop-at-nothing assassins.  To protect her Tucker must start at the beginning and try to find out who killed a mutual friend, a brilliant, idealistic young woman.  There is no one he can trust so it seems it is the man and his dog against the world - Tucker must break laws and risk his life from swamps in Alabama to Nuclear test sites to Trinidad and the mountains of Serbia.

    Pruitt Kellerman, a greedy, power hungry media magnate wants total control.  With a fleet of military drones - the most potent drones imaginable he has and will continue to murder anyone who opposes him.   Secret teams unaware that they’re being manipulated by Kellerman use research stolen from Turing to develop drones that not only shower bullets at targets, but hack computer systems and distribute misinformation that can create chaos.         

    What chance do Tucker and Kane have against these enemies?  War Hawk is rife with non-stop excitement and leaves us to ponder what might happen in the future.