Monday, May 28, 2012

Action and murder can be soooo sweet

Stay Close by Harlan Coben

Kirkus Reviews –

The past comes knocking for a former stripper who thought she'd said goodbye to all that in an altogether less-successful distaff reworking of The Innocent (2005). In some ways, the life Megan Pierce left behind when she stopped giving lap dances and calling herself Cassie was perfect: exciting, glamorous and anything but routine. If only her abusive client Stewart Green hadn't vanished under circumstances that strongly suggested a violent end, Megan would never have taken a powder, ultimately trading Atlantic City's La Crème nightclub for the American dream with a lawyer husband, two perfect children and every appliance of the upscale suburban lifestyle. One day, however, Megan--motivated solely, it seems, by the need to kick-start the plot--decides to drop in at La Crème. Her sudden reappearance, together with her old colleague Lorraine Griggs' sighting of somebody who looks a lot like Stewart and the remarkably similar disappearance exactly 17 years later of construction heir Carlton Flynn, sets in motion a new chain of violence and threatens to reveal all of Megan's carefully hidden secrets. Eventually she reconnects with her old flame Ray Levine, a photographer who has hit the skids big time, and tells what she knows to Det. Broome of Atlantic City Homicide. But both men's most protective instincts are challenged by a pair of wholesome killers calling themselves Barbie and Ken--and by the fact that Broome's own boss is working against him.

A proficient but routine thriller in which you can tell for miles in advance who's disposable and who's slated for survival, marked by the virtual absence of the baroque plot twists fans of Coben (Live Wire, 2011, etc.) expect as their due.

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A Rising Thunder by David Weber

Publishers Weekly –

Intrigue and counter-intrigue heighten the tension in Weber's 13th Honor Harrington novel (after Mission of Honor). Two wary interstellar nations, the monarchical Star Kingdom of Manticore and the oligarchic, Earth-based Solarian League, have often crossed swords in skirmishes, but an unprovoked attack by Solarian forces at Spindle and a recent homeworld assault known as the Yawata Strike leads the Empire to believe that the League is the dupe of the slaveholding and manipulative Mesan Alignment. Tensions rise as the Manticoran Empire impedes Solarian trade through its wormhole junctions in preparation for war. Duchess Honor Harrington acts mostly as advisor to the Empire but for a brief interlude is charged with protecting Manticore from an invading fleet of Solarian superdreadnaughts, as the author highlights the complex maneuverings of government leaders in this politically savvy but militarily uneventful novel that bridges the gap between the last novel and the expected sequel.

Cinnamon Roll Murder (Hannah Swensen Series #15) by Joanne Fluke

Kirkus Reviews –

A bus crash diverts cookie maven Hannah Swenson (Devil's Food Cake Murder, 2011, etc.) at least momentarily from the train wreck of her love life. Hannah had been looking forward to hearing the Cinnamon Roll Six perform live at the Lake Eden Inn during innkeepers Sally and Dick Laughlin's first-ever jazz weekend. Too bad the group's tour bus wiped out on one of the icy roads Minnesotans routinely navigate in April. The driver is dead at the scene, but Hannah and her youngest sister Michelle help paramedics load the injured musicians onto an ambulance. Still, only five of the six survive their hospital stay. Keyboardist Buddy Neiman dies, not from his relatively minor injuries but from a pair of surgical scissors plunged into his chest. So Hannah, still reeling from her breakup with Norman Rhodes, who plans to marry his fellow dentist Bev Thorndike in two weeks, seeks solace in Lake Eden's newest murder. She soon tracks Buddy's roots back to the Seattle jazz scene. But her investigation really starts to cook when she discovers that Dr. Bev has a Seattle connection too. Suddenly it's not clear whether Hannah is trying to forget Norman or win him back. With sisters Michelle and Andrea at her side and mother Delores at her back, Hannah discovers that once she's on the trail, there aren't enough Chocolate Caramel Pecan Bars in the world to stop her from seeing justice done. Fluke wraps up her 16th recipe-studded entry sweetly but not neatly, leaving just enough loose ends to hint at a tasty sequel.

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