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Tuesday, March 29, 2011


by David Rosenfelt - Just released in hardcover and as an eBook

Richard Kilmer meets and falls in love with Jennifer Ryan, the girl of his dreams.  On a visit to her mother and father they find themselves in a terrible dark windstorm and Richard loses control of his car.  When the dust settles, Jennifer is nowhere to be found but that's not the worst of it.

Returning home to Manhattan, none of Richard's friends know who Jennifer is, even though they've met her before.  There's also no sign of her in their apartment; it's as if she's vanished into thin air.  Returning to Kendrick Falls where Jennifer's parents live is even worse.  No one knows anyone named Jennifer Ryan and nothing is the same; not the house that was supposed to be Jennifer's childhood home, nor her family. 

A writer, Richard writes his story for Manhattan Magazine.  Because of the article, he's contacted by Allison Tynes, a woman who could be Jennifer's twin, whose own sister Julie is missing.  Soon more strange things begin to occur and Richard isn't sure if Jennifer actually existed or is a figment of his imagination. 

The PI who has done research for Richard's stories in the past intimates that Richard was working on a major story that he felt was Pulitzer worthy, but which Richard has no memory of.   He visits Dr. Garber, a psychiatrist who insists that Richard has been there before.  While Richard and Allison continue to search for Jennifer/Julie, the story soon degenerates into a bizarre and absurd mind control plot.

Is it just me or was this the strangest book Rosenfelt has ever written?  Although I've long been a fan of David Rosenfelt's books, ON BORROWED TIME while entertaining, stretched the credibility factor to the realm of ridiculous. 

ISBN 978-0-312-59836-5
291 pages

Saturday, March 26, 2011

STICKY FINGERS - Roxy Abruzzo Series No. 2

by Nancy Martin - to be released in April 2011

Roxy Abruzzo runs an architectural salvage business by day, but picks up jobs from her incarcerated mob boss uncle to make ends meet.  She doesn't mind collecting gambling debts but she draws the line at kidnapping one of her old schoolmates, Clarice Crabtree.

When Clarice turns up murdered, Roxy is on the trail of the killer, in part to prove that she isn't the murderer.   Roxy soon discovers that Crabtree had two separate families and was the major breadwinner for both, something that wouldn't have been possible to afford even with her lofty museum job.  Roxy's search leads her to a dinosaur bone collecting rock star and a small army of other zany characters.

Halfway through STICKY FINGERS, I had to go to Google to see if Nancy Martin was a pseudonym for Janet Evanovich.  (She's not.)  The parallels between Roxy and Evanovich's Stephanie Plum are uncanny. 

Instead of Lulu, Roxy's sidekick is Nooch, a big lovable guy who's a little slow; instead of feisty Grandma Mazur, Roxy has Sister Bob, a retired nun looking to spend her golden years discovering sex.  Just like Stephanie, Roxy has commitment problems even though Martin takes it a little further and has given her character the persona of a sex addict.  Like Stephanie Plum who can't stand next to Morelli or Ranger without her pulse increasing, Roxy's sexual attraction to her high school boyfriend (and the father of her daughter Sage) pulsates off the page.  The similarities don't end with the characters; even the writing style and one-liners will have you thinking you're reading Evanovich. 

STICKY FINGERS is a quick fun read, but I can't help but wonder if Janet Evanovich is flattered or alarmed that Nancy Martin has so closely followed in her footsteps.

ISBN 978-0-312-57373-7
304 pages

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

WHEN THE THRILL IS GONE - Leonid McGill Series No. 3

by Walter Mosley - just released in hardcover and as an eBook

Leonid McGill is a NYC private investigator.  He's just been hired by Chrystal Tyler, a woman who claims to fear for her life.  Her husband's first two wives met unusual deaths and she's afraid she's going to be next.  Her story about being married to a wealthy patron of her art doesn't jibe with her clothing or demeanor but he really needs the large amount of cash she's offering as a retainer.  But very quickly, Leonid discovers that many of the people in this case are not who they're pretending to be, including the woman who hired him. 

At the same time, McGill is searching for William Williams at the request of a local crime boss.  No one has seen Williams in decades and his real identity is a shock. 

Quieter and gentler than Mosley's street-smart Easy Rawlins character, Mosley has infused McGill with an "uptown" style.  As well as pursuing Tyler's case, he's dealing with a cheating wife, his good friend Gordo is dying of cancer and is staying at the McGill home, and one of McGill's sons is up to something illegal.  He's also longing to rekindle his relationship with his lover, Aura, and assisting random people he meets along the way.

I first discovered Mosley's books almost twenty years ago when then presidential candidate Bill Clinton, who is a fan of mysteries, said that Walter Mosley was one of his favorite authors during an interview.  It was 1992 and I started with Mosley's DEVIL IN A BLUE DRESS.  I've been a devoted fan ever since and WHEN THE THRILL IS GONE did not disappoint.   I hope to be happily entertained by Mr. Mosley for the next twenty years.

ISBN 978-1-59448-781-1
358 pages

Saturday, March 19, 2011

SILENT MERCY - Alexandra Cooper Series No. 13

by Linda Fairstein - just released in hardcover and as an eBook

Manhattan Prosecutor Alexandra "Coop" Cooper and Detective Mike Chapman arrive at the scene of a horrible murder. A young woman has been decapitated and set on fire on the steps of Mount Neboh Baptist Church in Harlem. Coop is assisting with the prosecution of a defrocked priest accused of molestation. Because she's been rattling the cages of the Catholic hierarchy, her boss assigns her to this new murder instead.

Joined as usual by Det. Mercer Wallace in this investigation, another body is soon discovered at a cathedral in Little Italy. It appears that someone is targeting women of different religions who aspire to become church or synagogue leaders, rather than assume the typical roles of their gender.

Fairstein has once again provided an interesting historical backdrop.  In SILENT MERCY, she's injected the story with obscure facts about the history of many of New York City's churches.

For me, reading one of Fairstein's novels is usually like slipping on a comfortable pair of slippers. Coop, Chapman and Wallace continue the bantering relationship that's been well established in Fairstein's previous novels, and they make their friendly wagers on the final Jeopardy questions. Coop continues to have her disagreements with her boss and is still involved with her French restaurateur lover.

But SILENT MERCY disintegrates into the absurd when the trio begins to hone in on the killer.  Although entertaining, this one is definitely not up to Fairstein's standards. 

ISBN 978-0-525-95202-2
387 pages

Friday, March 18, 2011


by Brad Thor - available in hardcover and as an eBook

Delta Force created THE ATHENA PROJECT, the code name for their all female, top-secret operatives.  Selected for their intelligence and athletic abilities, not to mention their incredible beauty and impressive measurements, these four women can apparently overpower even the most trained terrorists while wearing evening gowns. 

Following a deadly terrorist attack in Rome, the four are dispatched to find and capture the arms dealer who supplied the weapons.  They eventually follow the trail of a transporter device invented by the Nazis that can supposedly transport bombs through a portal (think time travel).  Unknown to the Delta quartet, the US government wants to install this transporter in the secret underground facility they've built below the Denver Airport.  Along the way, the gals are able to covertly enter any country they choose, chasing after and annihilating international bad guys without so much as chipping their nail polish. 

It was surprising that one of the fabulous four had the same name and nickname as the main character from another well known mystery writer's books.

Friends have told me for quite a while that I should try one of Thor's books, but I guess I picked the wrong one to start with.  Reminiscent of CHARLIE'S ANGELS, this is a silly, silly book with a terrible plot.

ISBN 978-1-4391-9295-5
322 pages - Published November 2010

Monday, March 14, 2011


Saloma Furlong's discussion and book signing at Mendham Books yesterday was standing room only! 

A crowd of over thirty people showed up to hear Ms. Furlong talk about her book, WHY I LEFT THE AMISH.  The audience was varied and included Episcopalian nuns as well as local librarians.  A lengthy question and answer period followed and everyone was enthralled with Ms. Furlong's story. 

It was interesting to me to hear the topics covered in the Q&A.  When I reviewed Saloma's book way back in October, 2010, I focused on the human story depicted in her book.  Many of the people attending yesterday's event asked questions that dealt more with the religious customs and practices of the Amish. 

Saloma is a talented and engaging speaker and it was a delight to have her and her husband David stay at our home for this event.  Our chitchat ranged from talking about our families to discussing some of our favorite movies.  Saloma and I agreed that we don't like "THE BIG LEBOWSKI", while our husbands's are big fans of that movie.  Rarely do you meet someone for the first time and discover the kind of kinship I experienced with Saloma which made this past weekend so enjoyable!

Before beginning her discussion, Saloma selected the name of the lucky winner of her just published book.  Congratulations to SUE PISCITELLO!  I'll be emailing you to arrange to get your inscribed copy of WHY I LEFT THE AMISH to you.

The Furlongs are continuing on their way to another event in Virginia this week.

It was nice to finally meet Pat Anderson who attended with her huband, John.  Pat manages the blogs for the Recorder Newspapers' website and as most of you know, Monarch Book Reviews is linked to the websites of their fifteen newspapers. 

A big thank you to Saloma and David Furlong for making the trip to New Jersey.  Thanks to Mendham Books for hosting Saloma's discussion and book signing.  Thanks to everyone who attended for making this event an incredible success!  And a special thanks to my friends, Candace, LouAnn, Irene and Noreen for their support.

Saturday, March 12, 2011


Last chance! Winner need not be present!

The drawing for a brand new copy of Saloma Furlong's newly published book WHY I LEFT THE AMISH will be held tomorrow, March 13, 2011 at 2:00 p.m. when she appears at Mendham Books in Mendham, NJ for a discussion and book signing. If you're in the area, please stop in and say hello to Ms. Furlong.

You do not have to be present to win. Just email me at either or to enter your name in the drawing.

Photo of Robert and Bill Kimmerle from the Kimmerle Family Album, 1989

Friday, March 11, 2011

THE COMPANY WE KEEP: A Husband-and-Wife True-Life Spy Story

by Robert Baer and Dayna Baer - just released in hardcover and as an eBook

For decades, Robert Baer was a top CIA operative in the Middle East.  Dayna Williamson worked her way up through the ranks in the CIA, serving in strife torn sections of the world.  Both were married when their paths crossed in Sarajevo, but their covert lifestyles and long absences from home had destroyed their marriages as well as strained Dayna's relationship with her elderly parents. 

Robert and Dayna tag-teamed the chapters in THE COMPANY WE KEEP as we follow them on their real-life missions in very dangerous locales.  After resigning from the CIA, they decided to live in Beirut, but their background and training makes regular civilian life nearly impossible and they eventually settled in California.

The Baers have provided us with very in-depth insight into their work for the CIA, including naming names of world leaders you'll recognize.  However, the reader learns very little about their growing personal relationship, cloaked as it is in their adventures.  As their lives continue after resigning from the CIA, the book seems to flounder.

Blogger's note:  I had some trepidation when writing this review because I've never reviewed a book before whose authors were trained in weapons and explosives.


Like most of you, I woke up this morning to the news of the horrible earthquake and tsunami in Japan.  My thoughts and prayers are with them today.

Just as a cautionary note, if you wish to donate to the victims of this enormous tragedy, please be sure that you're donating to a legitimate organization. 

Japan has their own Red Cross organization, but the American Red Cross is currently collecting donations for Japan on their website.  Save the Children is also collecting donations. 

In New York City, Mayor Bloomberg has said that The Mayor's Fund to Advance New York City is accepting financial donations from organizations and individuals to assist victims of earthquakes or the recent tsunami that affected Japan. The fund only accepts financial contributions.  The Mayor's Fund to Advance New York City is a 501 (c) (3) public charity; all donations are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.  You'll find more information on New York City's 311 website.

Saturday, March 5, 2011


Spring is almost here and I know this because my husband ordered two dozen new baby ducks today. They should be arriving by April 1st. When they arrive at the post office, they're only one day old, so they require lots of water, food and warmth. After they reach duck puberty, they'll enjoy swimming in the stream in our yard and tromping through the flowers.

Only two of the original ducks from four years ago (pictured above) have survived predators, although a few decamped for a neighbor's house further downstream and we haven't been able to entice them home despite herculean efforts by George, Bill, Robert and Stacey.

I've been surprised and amazed at what terrific pets ducks are and how much fun it has been to watch their exploits. As soon as they hear the backdoor open, their song of "quack, quack, quack" begins. If they're not nearby, they quickly learned to respond to my calling out, "Hey, guys, c'mon, hurry up!" Along with nutritious regulation duck feed, they've enjoyed Mexican feasts (stale Tostito chips), Italian night (leftover Italian bread), movie night (popcorn), not to mention stale breakfast cereal and breads and crackers of every flavor. Much like me, they're not too crazy about pretzels and entire bagels just mystify them as they watch them bob up and down in the stream like little life preservers. Untoasted English muffins and leftover rice cakes seem to be their culinary preference, but don't try to open the backdoor empty handed!

Our original ducks were guests of honor at Robert and Stacey's wedding in November of 2008.  They swam in circles just below the bridge and started quacking loudly as the vows were being exchanged, not to mention enthusiastically diving for the Oyster Crackers everyone threw instead of rice.

I'm eagerly awaiting the arrival of our new flock and looking forward to watching their antics!  Thank you, George and happy spring everyone!


by Lisa Lutz and David Hayward - to be released April 2011

Paul and Lacey Hanson are orphaned siblings in their twenties, living together and supporting themselves by growing and selling marijuana.  They bicker about anything and everything, but one thing they agree on; because of their illegal activities, they can't call the sheriff when a headless corpse shows up on their property.  They move the body to a place they're sure it will be found pretty quickly but won't be connected to them.

When the headless corpse reappears on their front lawn, Lacey and Paul embark on their own investigation, each going off in their own direction.  In typical Lutz style, the humor increases as the bodies pile up.

HEADS YOU LOSE is a fun read even if it were just your average quirky mystery, but it's not.  The format for the collaboration between former lovers Lutz and Hayward gives this one a whole new spin.  Their plan to co-author this book together is for Lutz to write the first and all odd numbered chapters and Hayward to write the even numbered chapters, without the benefit of outlining or discussing the plot.  Neither could undo the other's chapter content.  After each chapter, they've provided their critiques and responses, evidencing an escalating battle of wills to determine the direction the story will take and which characters will be killed off.  Their humorous repartee sent me to Google to see if they've reunited romantically, because they sounded like every married couple on the planet who ever decided to do a lengthy project together, kicking and screaming all the way! 

All in all, it's a fun read with a new spin.  If you're already of fan of the Spellman series, you won't be disappointed with this light-hearted mystery.

Friday, March 4, 2011


by Kristin Hannah - to be released March 22, 2011 in hardcover and as an eBook

Fourteen year old Lexi Baill has bounced between her drug addicted mother and foster care for years.  Following her mother's death, a relative is finally located in Washington State.  Her elderly Aunt Eva brings her home and provides a stable and loving home for her on the poorer side of this wealthy community.

On her first day of school Lexi meets Mia Faraday, a vulnerable and insecure girl, and the two quickly become friends.  Lexi is soon a part of the Faraday family, welcomed by Mia's parents, Jude and Miles, as well as Mia's twin brother, Zach.  Jude had her own difficult childhood growing up and she is determined to be the perfect mother, totally micromanaging her children's lives and guarding them closely. 

NIGHT ROAD follows the high school years of the Faradays and Lexi and the burgeoning love between Lexi and Zach until a bad decision and ensuing tragedy shatters all of their lives, severing the bonds of family and friendship.  Emotionally complex, this powerful novel deals with the intricacies of family life, parenting, despair, hope and the search for forgiveness with heartbreaking realism.

I loved this book, but I strongly recommend that you keep the Kleenex handy!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

WIN THIS BOOK - Drawing will be held on March 13th

Don't forget to enter your name for a chance to win a new copy of WHY I LEFT THE AMISH by Saloma Furlong.  Ms. Furlong will choose the lucky winner on March 13th at 2:00 pm when she's here in Mendham for a book signing at Mendham Books

You don't have to be present to win.  Email your name to  If you have any trouble, please email me at

You can find my review of Saloma's book in my blog entry of October 28, 2010.  You can also access it through any of the Recorder Newspapers since it was printed in it's entirety in the OUT AND ABOUT section last week. 

Good luck!