Fiction Reviews K: 1998-2013

KANSAS CITY NOIR, edited by Steve Paul: Kansas City- where East meets West and stunted hopes create broken dreams. Blues in the night and mayhem during the day. The latest of the Akashic City Noir series features authors Daniel Woodrell, Matthew Eck, Catherine Browder, Nancy Pickard, John Lutz, J. Malcolm Garcia, Kevin Profer, Linda Rodriquez, Nadia Pflaum, Phony Nyugen, Andres Rodriquez and others. Steve Paul has been editor of the Kansas City Star since 1975 and he knows his city and his authors. I mean, how about this Daniel Woodrell line, “She was eighteen, said she was twenty, and have every appetite, none of which he could satisfy”. And it couldn’t be KC with barbecue as in Charlie Price’s Last Supper by Nadia Plaum. And the perfect ending – “Nobody’s talking. Nobody ever would” – John Lutz’ Thelma and Laverne. 10/12 Jack Quick

KEEP IT REAL by Bill Bryan: Former investigative reporter and now reality TV producer Ted Collins accidentally witnesses a violent exchange between gangsta rapper Boney and his current hottie, Patrice, just before Patrice goes missing. Since rap music and reality TV rank right up there with prostate exams and root canals in my list of favorites, along with “TV personalities,” this was not a book I would normally purchase. However, since it was sent to me to review, I felt honor bound to give it a try. Reading the book reminded me of the evaluation a college friend got for a college ROTC paper he turned in after 72 hours of coffee, No-doz, and similar substances. “Well written and covers the subject matter. Would have been more effective and very much shorter if the quantity of profanity had been reduced by at least 50%.” That said, if you can get past the subject, the setting and the language, it ain’t that bad a book, just not for me. 05/07 Jack Quick

THE KEEPER by Sarah Langan: Susan Marley wanders the town of Bedford, Maine, leaving a trail of nightmares in her wake. Everyone in the town thinks of Susan at their worst moments. Thoughts and dreams of her come unbidden and are beyond the townspeople’s control. Then, Susan Marley is dead. Rather than relief, her death brings a plague of darkness and evil to the dying town of Bedford. Those who are able, leave before the worst of it begins. Everyone who remains hides a dark secret in their past, a secret that the dead Susan Marley can now release upon them. Sarah Langan’s Stoker nominated debut is an absolute must for horror fans. This creepy tale will, at times, remind readers of King’s Needful Things. Like King, Langan’s characters are not ideal small town folk. Most of them are barely able to keep their dirty secrets hidden from the prying eyes of gossipy neighbors. It is just this element that makes the people of Bedford more realistic, if grandiose, depictions of the worst sort of people today. Langan has an impressive voice that is all her own. I recommend you lock your doors and curl up with this book late into the night. The Keeper is only the beginning. Langan’s recent follow-up, The Missing, revisits the cursed town of Bedford. 11/07 Becky Lejeune

THE KEEPER OF LOST CAUSES by Jussi Adler-Olsen: Carl Mørck has been back on the job for just one week after returning from medical leave. After surviving being shot in the head on a case that left one partner dead and the other paralyzed, to say Carl has lost his desire to work would be an understatement. Luckily for Carl and his department, politicians are pressuring for the creation of a new investigative arm that would focus on cold cases. Carl is given the job of heading up the new Department Q while his superiors can be satisfied in knowing that he’s out of their hair, all the while getting the benefit of new funding. A five-year-old missing persons case catches Carl’s eye and is the focus of this first in the new mystery series. Carl and his assistant, Assad, dig deeper into the case, which involves a young politician who went missing without a trace, and discover leads previously overlooked. As they unravel the threads of this complicated case, time is running out for the woman who, until now, has managed to survive. Adler-Olsen’s Department Q debut, published in the UK as Mercy, marks the beginning of a fabulously promising series. Carl and Assad make a great team and the plot is one of the most twisted I’ve come across in a while. This is the first of the Danish author’s books to be translated into English. 09/11 Becky Lejeune

THE KEEPER OF LOST CAUSES by Jussi Adler-Olsen: Long-time Homicide Detective Carl Morck suffers from survivor’s guilt. His head’s no longer in the game. Rather than risk union and political backlash he’s promoted to the head of Department Q. It turns out to be a department of one in a basement filled with boxes of Copenhagen’s coldest case files. Much to his surprise, a five-year-old case about a missing and presumed dead politician catches his interest. He, along with his newly acquired office assistant, Assad, is on the hunt. When new information leads him to believe that she’s still alive, it becomes a race against time to save her life. Keeper of Lost Causes is the first book in Adler-Olsen’s new series centering on Department Q. Detective Morck’s blandness, at first annoying, later accentuates the flamboyance of the other characters. His assistant, Assad, with the questionable background, attention to detail and a host of other slowly revealed skills kept me interested. The scenes with the captive politician were detailed and graphic but the investigation moved so slowly that by the middle of the book my concern for her waned. As the hunt was coming to a close the footwork accelerated at a startling pace, my concern for her waxed and the ending took my breath away. 10/11 Kimberly Bower

KEEPER OF THE BRIDE by Tess Gerritsen: Nina Cormier is a jilted bride and it is her lucky break; the church blows up just as she is leaving. The bomb squad investigates, headed by Detective Sam Navarro, and all leads point to a bomber for hire who is presumed dead, leaving Nina’s ex the prime suspect. Nina is heartbroken and scared, Sam is brave and strong, and both are determined to keep this all professional. But when someone tries to run Nina off the road, Sam realizes her life is in danger and they are thrown together for her safety. Nina’s high society mother isn’t much help, her father is busy with his much younger wife, leaving the two of them to work things out. Sam is skittish since his marriage fell apart because of his dangerous job, but he cannot stop thinking about Nina, and she soon realizes that this is no rebound romance. This fast-paced story has some good twists and two likeable protagonists. Keeper of the Bride is a re-release of a 2002 romantic suspense novel. Rizzoli and Isles fans may think of this as Gerritsen-lite, but Sandra Brown readers will love it. 7/13 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch Copyright © 2013 Booklist, a division of the American Library Association. Reprinted with permission.

KEEPING IT REAL by Justina Robson: When I picked this up, I was kind of like, “elves, bleh, they make my teeth hurt.” But they kind of have the same effect on the heroine of the book, with lots of complaining about their twinkly pan flute music and prissy attitude. (“Elves don’t rock!”)
In the story, it turns out there was some kind of temporal anomaly or something, it doesn’t really matter, and now people can travel between dimensions to the elf world and the demon world and possibly others, I don’t remember exactly. And there’s this one elf who is a rock star in the human world, and a human woman who is assigned to be his bodyguard because she was in a horrible accident and is now basically the Bionic Woman and more or less invincible. It’s definitely an unusual take on the whole elf thing, and it was pretty fun with lots of sciency details about magic.
My only problem with it was the rather pointless romance aspect, which is a bit like Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series with the “we LOVE each other because we are SOULMATES because we LOVE each other because we are SOULMATES because we LOVE each other”. Even so, I liked it a lot and will probably read the next one in the series. Jenne Bergstrom 03/08

KEEPER OF LIGHT AND DUST by Natasha Mostert: Mia Lockheart is a Keeper like her mother before her and her mother before that and so on throughout the years. It is Mia’s job to protect and heal warriors. Her particular warriors are all martial arts fighters in the London area. Mia is also a tattooist and uses her art as part of her Keeper duties, using special symbols and ideograms to enhance her link to the fighters in her care. When one of her fighters dies mysteriously, just days after his last fight, Mia senses that there is something dark and sinister at work. How does an otherwise healthy man’s heart just stop beating? Nick Duffy, one of Mia’s closest friends and a fighter himself, also thinks the death is strange and manages to track down five other similar cases from recent years. As they both search out the truth, independent of one another, they are both led back to a stranger who calls himself Dragonfly. Little do they know that Dragonfly is a thief of the worst kind and he wants both Nick and Mia as his latest conquests. Mostert is one of the most creative authors I have read in ages. In each new book, she ties paranormal occurrences to scientific discoveries and philosophy to create intricate and thrilling stories. In Keeper of Light and Dust she has also incorporated the martial arts world and Eastern medicine as well as a new spin on the traditional vampire myth and the idea of Chi; another fantastic read from an amazing talent. 04/09 Becky Lejeune

Kentuckiana by Johnny Payne: This was seriously funny stuff, brilliantly written, about a family that will be impossible to forget. I wasn’t sure what to expect, I never heard of metafiction and still had some trepidations about Southern fiction. Braselton drew me out, and now this…I may be over it! I read it to gain some insight into the author, and I think I accomplished that, but I gained so much more. Onward to North of Patagonia… Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

KEY WEST CONNECTION by Randy Wayne White: Ex-Navy SEAL Dusky MacMorgan will need all his military skills when a psychotic pack of drug runners turns the Gulf stream waters red with the blood of his beloved family. His new life as a fisherman is shattered but soon he is tracking the pack responsible right into the island fortress of a corrupt U.S. Senator. However, even that fortress in vulnerable to a one-man hit squad with MacMorgan’s expertise and arsenal. Originally published in 1981 under the pen name of Randy Striker. Hope they have some more stashed away. 06/06 Jack Quick

KIDNAPPED by Jan Burke: Reporter Irene Kelly and husband Detective Frank Harriman return in this latest installment to the series. The mystery begins with the murder of Richard Fletcher, member of the famous Fletcher family, and the disappearance of his infant daughter Jenny. Five years later, Jenny is still missing. While investigating a story on missing children, Irene fills in for another reporter at a crime scene where human remains have been discovered. The scene turns out to be strangely linked to Irene’s own story. As she investigates further, she becomes entangled in something much bigger than she could have imagined. With original stories and an engaging cast, Jan Burke always delivers. Fans of the series will not be disappointed. This is also a perfect opportunity for newbies to jump in, though there are a few references to past releases. 10/06 Becky LeJeune

THE KIDNAPPING OF ROSETA UVALDO by Zane Grey: Good westerns are like potato chips. It’s hard to stop with just one. Twenty years as a Texas Ranger were about enough for Vaughn Merrill. He was ready to settle down with a good wife, and raise children and cattle on a spread of his own. However, when the lovely dark-eyed Roseta Uvaldo is kidnapped by bad guys from South of the Border, Merrill knows he could never pursue his own dreams until he rescued her and made sure her captors paid the price. 04/06 Jack Quick

KILL ALL THE LAWYERS by Paul Levine: Levine delivers yet again with this fast, funny legal thriller, third in the Solomon vs. Lord series. Steve Solomon, Miami lawyer who lives by his own law and favors t-shirts with pithy sayings like, “Lawyers do it in their briefs” has his hands full. A former client, Dr. William Kreeger, recently released from prison, has somehow learned that Steve threw the case and got him convicted. Instead of appealing or suing, Dr. Kreeger, a well-known psychologist, decides to torture and kill Steve. Steve’s law partner & lover, Victoria Lord, is pressuring him to make a commitment, and worse than that, he thinks he wants to. Steve’s lovable-albeit-challenging nephew, Bobby, is at full pubescent turmoil, compounded by Bobby’s drug-addict mother finding Jesus and trying to move back into his life. To round out this picture of family dysfunction is Steve’s father, who has also found religion – he’s become an Orthodox Jew and is driving Steve crazier than usual. But despite all their faults, none of them really wants to see Steve get killed. With a little help from friends and family, Steve & Victoria live to fight another day. And to fans of this series, that is very good news indeed. I love this series; it’s become one of those that when I read the latest book – a couple of weeks before the on-sale date, mind you – I’m immediately impatient for the next. Hey, Levine, I know you’re reading – can’t you write any faster??? 08/06 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

KILL ALL THE LAWYERS by Paul Levine: The oddest of odd couples continue their legal practice and love-hate relationship. She honors the rules, he bends them, she wants to settle down, he is too high flying. This time Steve has a little problem, an ex-client and convicted killer psychologist with a genius level IQ discovers that Steve deliberately lost his case. This is not someone you want as an enemy as Steve learns when a 300-pound fish is found dangling from Steve’s door. The threats escalate from there and strain the relationships to the max, before the matter is finally resolved. Please, please keep them coming, Mr. Levine. This has got to be more fun than practicing law. 11/06 Jack Quick

KILL FOR ME by Karen Rose: In Dutton, Georgia, an elderly monster known only as Charles and his associates steal teenage girls to sell to perverts in a lucrative human trafficking scheme. Hot on their trail are the Georgia Bureau of Investigations special agent Daniel Vartanian; his partner, special agent Luke Papadopoulos; and his long-suffering sister, Susannah Vartanian, a New York City ADA. A botched raid spurs the murders of five girls and the removal of abused assets to another hiding place. Two courageous teen survivors provide the GBI with help, but a mole in the GBI working for Charles complicates the takedown. In spite of its topic and some gruesome scenes, there are also romantic overtones that quite frankly, keep taking me out of the action. Not chic lit, but not as hardcore as the subject matter would indicate. 09/09 Jack Quick

THE KILL LIST by Frederick Forsyth: Count on Forysth to deliver a crackling taut thriller. In Virginia, there is an agency bearing the bland name of Technical Operations Support Activity, or TOSA. Its one mission is to track, find, and kill those so dangerous to the United States that they are on a short document known as the Kill List. TOSA actually exists. So does the Kill List. Added to it is a new name: a terrorist of frightening effectiveness called the Preacher, who radicalizes young Muslims abroad to carry out assassinations. Unfortunately for him, one of the kills is a retired Marine general, whose son is TOSA’s top hunter of men. Known only as Tracker, he has spent the last six years at his job. He knows nothing about his target’s name, face, or location. He realizes his search will take him to places where few could survive. But the Preacher has made it personal now. The hunt is on. Not even the Preacher can stand up to the Tracker and the combined might of the United States, Great Britain and Israel. 9/13 Jack Quick
KILL ME by Stephen White: Clinical psychologist Dr. Alan Gregory plays only a cameo role in this tale about a wealthy, happily married businessman with an adventurous streak who becomes one of Gregory’s patients. The businessman has learned of an organization that, for a hefty fee, will end your life should you become a burden to family as the result of catastrophic accident or illness. He signs up, only to learn that while he has a potentially deadly medical condition, it could strike now or twenty years from now. The problem is that the organization has activated his contract. Can our hero evade the assassins he paid with his own money in time to put his house in order? Bizarre and thrilling, but bottom line – I think I prefer White’s other efforts better. 08/06 Jack Quick

KILL ME IF YOU CAN by James Patterson & Marshall Karp: Walter Zelvas has been stealing a few diamonds from each of the international diamond syndicate’s shipments for years, and now he has been found out. He is about to skip town with a bag full of $13 million in gems when the Russian mobsters hire the mysterious contract killer The Ghost to kill Zelvas and retrieve their diamonds. The contract killing does not go as planned, and former Marine-turned-art-student Matthew Bannon ends up with the bag of diamonds. Matthew decides to keep the diamonds and takes his girlfriend, Katherine, an art teacher at Parsons, on a romantic trip to Europe, where he plans on selling the diamonds. The Russian syndicate wants its property, of course, and they have dispatched several hired guns to find Matthew. Part keystone cop comedy and part thriller, the story twists its way to an inevitable conclusion. Not Patterson’s best and not as cool as Karp’s Lomax and Biggs series. Maybe next time. 11/12 Jack Quick

KILL SHOT by Vince Flynn: Prior to beginning this review I was sorry to note in Vince Flynn’s preface that he is fighting prostate cancer. I am sure that his many fans join me in wishing him well, and in the light of the many medical advances currently available it is hoped that his fight against this disease will be successful.

Kill Shot is the second book in which Flynn’s now famous CIA hero Mitch Rapp appears in an actual prequel to a long series of novels about his exploits fighting America’s enemies. Mitch’s forte has traditionally been doing the job assigned without regard to what the do-gooders in our society think should be the right way. If killing is required to defeating the enemy Mitch has no second thoughts about just going ahead and doing it. Kill Shot and the preceding novel American Assassin follow Mitch’s exploits in his first year out of CIA training. His skills as an assassin are positive and he has convinced his supervisor as well as the deputy director of the CIA that he is one of the best agents to ever work in the field for the CIA.
In the opening chapters Mitch has been assigned to assassinate an individual in Paris that seemingly has culpability in the Lockerbie bombing and those responsible for that are the people that Mitch has been hunting. As soon as Mitch pulls the trigger on the target he realizes that he has fallen into a trap set by Al Quada to get the individual responsible for killing so many of them that were involved in the bombing. In a series of permutations and combinations involving the French police, the French equivalent of the CIA, several factions of the CIA Mitch must find a way out of the trap set for him, prove himself innocent of wrong doing, and exposing what finally comes out as a high level rogue employee of the CIA. Always exciting, engrossing and keeping the reader glued to the pages, Flynn delivers another winner. 3/12 Paul Lane

KILL SWITCH by Neal Baer and Jonathan Green: Claire Waters has worked hard to earn a fellowship in Rikers Island’s psychiatric facility and her first case will test all of her instincts and training. As a child, Todd Quimby witnessed his mother murdering his father. Claire knows that Todd’s issues and escalation in sexual misconduct are a direct result of this traumatic experience. But when Quimby seemingly confesses to murder, Claire has no choice but to turn him in. As the bodies pile up, Quimby eludes the authorities again and again and Claire may just be his ultimate target. I wanted to enjoy this debut from Baer and Green, but each turn of the novel seemed to become more and more unbelievable. Unfortunately, none of the twists were all that surprising and the characters didn’t stand out. 1/12 Becky Lejeune

KILL YOU TWICE by Chelsea Cain: Gretchen Lowell is back in almost full form in this latest from Cain. When the flayed body of an unidentified man is found tied to a tree in one of Portland’s parks, Archie and his partner are called in to handle the investigation. Underneath the body, they discover a single white lily. Then a second body is discovered. This time it’s a woman found burned alive next to a Portland monument. Meanwhile, Susan Ward answers a call from Gretchen and gets an exclusive on her very first victim. But Gretchen wants something in return – she wants Archie’s attention and is willing to do just about anything to get it. She even claims to know who is behind this latest string of murders. Archie has fallen for Gretchen’s tricks before but this time it seems she may be on the right track. Cain’s penchant for uber violent and gory description continues in this fifth of the series. Unsurprisingly, it’s this unflinching attitude towards the dark and twisted parts of her characters’ psyches that makes the series a fan favorite. 8/12 Becky Lejeune
KILLER CUTS by Elaine Viets: This is the latest entry in the fabulous Dead End Job series. Helen Hawthorne, who likes to live below the radar and work for cash only, gets a job as assistant to a hair cutter to the stars. Miguel Angel deals with celebrities and tourists with same good grace and humor. One of his clients hires him to do her hair and makeup for her wedding to Kingman “King” Oden, a cable gossip star. King makes it through the wedding, but turns up dead in the pool a few minutes later. Cops find drugs in Miguel Angel’s bag and he becomes the prime suspect in the murder. Helen is sure he didn’t do it and sets out to prove it and find out who did, with the help of her fiancé. Nothing falls into place easily here, but there are lots of laughs on the rocky road to marriage. This is a great beach read, breezy and fun – another winner from Viets. 05/09 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

A KILLER IN THE WIND by Andrew Klavan: One of the most intriguing psychological novels to come out in a long time. Klavan creates an almost Gothic aura surrounding the events and characters in the book and gets his reader wondering what is real, and what is supernatural. Detective Dan Champion working vice in the city of New York busts a sex slavery ring and the case and it’s resolution busts him. He is so affected by what he had to do to break up the ring that he finally resigns the NYC job and gets a position in a small town with what are seemingly less traumatic crime situations. Three years after joining the police force in that town he is called to help in the investigation of a young woman washed up, but alive, on the beach. Dan immediately recognizes the girl as one that has been in his dreams along with interaction with the ghost of a boy named Alexander. To help him cope with the seemingly impossible hallucinations he gets onto a new drug sold to him by a drug dealer that he has used as a contact before. The drug brings new hallucinations and involvement with events that are not within his memory. What is real, what is imagined and what does it all have to do with seeing the girl in his dreams alive and apparently wanting to contact him are the key factors in the story. Klavan has written a book that logically brings the reader into a seemingly supernatural scenario and ties all factors together with an extremely satisfying climax. Dan Champion may appear as a character in future Andrew Klavan books, but if not has been well fleshed out here. 1/13 Paul Lane

A KILLER IN THE WIND by Andrew Klavan: Former NYPD Vice Detective Dan Champion got burned out after uncovering a sex slavery ring run by a kingpin known only as the Fat Woman. He became a drug user and soon began to form hallucinations of a dead child prowling the streets of New York and a beautiful woman named Samantha with whom he fell in love. Now he is a small town detective in upstate New York and finds the body of a woman who has washed ashore. She is Samantha, the woman he dreamed about long ago, .a woman who doesn’t exist. Is he losing his mind. Yes, Champion is haunted again, but this time it’s by a team of expert killers who want to make sure he never finds the truth. The ghosts of the dead are all around him, and Champion has to find out who murdered them, fast, or he could become one of them himself. 2/13 Jack Quick

KILLER INSTINCT by Joseph Finder: Finder pens another corporate thriller that is his best yet – and that’s saying a lot for the “John Grisham” of the corporate world. Jason Steadman is a happy guy; he’s a successful salesman for Entronics, Panasonic’s biggest rival, he works with some good guys, plays softball for the company team. His wife isn’t so happy; she’d like to see him work a little harder, get further ahead, buy her a bigger house. When he accidentally drives into a ditch, he befriends the tow truck driver, Kurt Semko, ex-Special Forces and semi-pro ball player, recruiting him for the corporate team and getting him a job in security. In a strange twist of fate, good things start happening for Steadman while bad things are happening to his rivals. He becomes uneasy with all the yin and yang and the suspense gets thick as Steadman tries to figure out what is going on and how, or if, to stop it. Believable characters doing unbelievable things combine to make a fast paced, tension filled story that works because of Finder’s superb writing and storytelling skills. This is a page turner of the highest order; don’t plan on putting it down until you turn the last page. 05/06 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

KILLER INSTINCT by Zoë Sharp: This is the first Charlie Fox adventure. Fox, psychically damaged by a horrendous episode when she was in the British army is a biker chick whose conscience restrains her from using her potentially deadly hand-to-hand combat skills. After some backstory, we meet self-defense teacher Charlie, who is hired as the only woman on the security force at the rehabbed New Adelphi nightclub in Lancaster. She is soon involved with club owner Marc Quinn and mixed up in porn videos, illegal drugs, and multiple rapes and murders. As Charlie herself is threatened by the murderer, action and peril intensify to a harrowing climax. Sharp manages to combine blood-and-guts action with a strongly feminist slant, as Charlie, who knows what it’s like to be a victim, seeks to empower women with her training. 2/12 Jack Quick

KILLER MOVE by Michael Marshall: John Hunter has just been released from prison, and he’s had years to plan his revenge. Meanwhile, Bill Moore is going places. A successful real estate agent, he nonetheless strives for more. One day, Bill has it all: a great life, a great job, a fantastic wife, and prospects. But all that changes with the blink of an eye. It begins with a card that reads: Modified. Soon, someone has hacked into his email and Amazon accounts. It’s making Bill look bad, but it’s still mostly an inconvenience. Then the stakes get much higher and Bill finds himself on the run. And John Hunter? Well, he doesn’t know Bill Moore… yet. This latest from Michael Marshall (aka Michael Marshall Smith) is a stand-alone with ties to his earlier Straw Men trilogy. Fans may know where the plot is headed, but for most it will come as a complete surprise. Marshall is pretty much an expert at setting up a story to go one place and then switching it up completely unexpectedly on the reader. It works on all levels—the twists drive the plot along at an excellent pace. I’m a big fan and can only hope that Marshall starts to gain more recognition here in the States—he’s an author who definitely deserves to be bigger. 07/11 Becky Lejeune

Killer Smile by Lisa Scottoline: After Dead Ringer, Mary DiNunzio and the all-women law firm of Rosato & Associates are back in another installment of the popular series. While it’s chock-full of Scottoline’s trademark murder, mayhem, and merriment, this time she has a more important and personal story to tell-that of the little-known internment camps for Italian Americans during World War II. Scottoline discovered her own grandparents’ alien registration cards, giving her the impetus and passion to bring this story to light. DiNunzio has taken on a pro bono case for the family of Amadeo Brandolini, an Italian immigrant fisherman who settled in Philadelphia but died under mysterious circumstances in one such camp in Montana; now, his family is seeking retribution. DiNunzio takes his case to heart, but her fervent research uncovers more subterfuge than she was supposed to find. Her crazy blind dates offer some comic relief, but the threats, violence, and bodies continue to pile up, and the truth remains elusive throughout this complex and riveting tale.

KILLER SWELL by Jeff Shelby: Smart-talking, wisecracking, surfing San Diego PI Noah Braddock, has a problem with his newest prospective client. Marilyn Crier is the mother of his high school sweetheart, Kate, and was actively involved in making sure the romance didn’t last. But Kate, now married, is missing, and Marilyn plays on his old feelings for her daughter to get him to take the case. After he finds Kate, too late, he sets out to find out exactly what has happened in the dozen years since they parted.. Drugs and drug lords, Federal and local police, Kate’s parents, sister and husband, all work to complicate the puzzle. Good action and a surprise plot twist make it a safe bet that Braddock will return. WICKED BREAK is his next one. 04/06 Jack Quick

KILLER YEAR, edited by Lee Child: Killer Year features a group of 13 debut crime/mystery/suspense authors whose books were published in 2007. The graduating class includes such rising stars as Brett Battles, Robert Gregory Browne, Bill Cameron, Toni McGee Causey, Sean Chercover, JT Ellison, Patry Francis, Marc Lecard, Derek Nikitas, Gregg Olsen, Jason Pinter, Marcus Sakey, and David White. These stories are intorcued by the likes of Lee Child, Jeffrey Deaver and Tess Gerritsen, In addition there are stories by Ken Bruen, Allison Brennan and Duane Swierczynski and essays by Laura Lippman and MJ Rose. Lee Child proves to be as adept as an editor as he has already shown as an author. Definitely a keeper. 04/08 Jack Quick

THE KILLER’S WIFE by Bill Floyd: What if your somewhat controlling, know-it-all husband turned out to be a serial killer? That is the intriguing premise of Floyd’s debut novel that never quite lives up to expectations. Nina Mosley has a baby before she is finally able to admit to herself that there is something wrong in her marriage and with her husband. By that point, he’s decided to trust her, and leaves her the evidence she needs to turn him in, get a divorce, move cross country and change her name. Years pass and then she is confronted by the parent of one of her ex’s victims, turning her new life upside down. When her son is kidnapped by a copycat killer, the tension really escalates. While interesting and towards the end, very suspenseful, the book tends to meander choppily between the back story and the present day situation, but all in all, a very impressive debut. 04/08 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

THE KILLER’S WIFE by Bill Floyd: Leigh Wren has been through one of the worst experiences any wife can imagine. Her husband, Randy, was a serial killer and it was Leigh who discovered the truth and turned him in. Some people couldn’t believe that Leigh had nothing to do with the murders. It is one of these people, the father of one of Randy’s victims, who has tracked Leigh down six years after the fact and has turned her world upside-down. Now, neighbors look at her with suspicion, her son is being bullied in school, and it seems that the two may have become a target for a new killer. This is an explosive debut that elicits the most visceral emotional responses – everything from sympathy to downright anger. Like many novels, this one picks up in the middle, Randy sits, running through appeal after appeal on death row and Leigh has attempted to make a new life for her and her son. The story alternates between the events of the present and the events of the past – from the point when Randy first meets and woos Leigh, through her discovery of his terrible secret, to her new life and identity in Cary, North Carolina. This is one of the most talked about debuts of the year, and Bill Floyd really delivers. 03/08 Becky Lejeune

KLLING ART by Jonathan Santlofer: Kate McKinnon is back and has some major adjusting to do since her husband’s demise. She’s moved out of their luxury digs into a slightly more modest Chelsea apartment. She’s working on a new book on the 1930’s-40’s New York School of artists, which included such artists as Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning. Then in an odd coincidence, the de Kooning painting that Kate had donated to a museum in her husband’s memory is slashed during a museum benefit. More paintings are destroyed – and their owners are being murdered. The trend continues with an intriguing twist: the murderer is leaving a calling card, paintings that include clues to the next victim. Santlofer is a gifted artist and these paintings are featured throughout the book, putting an unusual spin on the thriller that really draws the reader in. Top notch. 02/07 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

THE KILLING ART by Jonathon Santlofer: Kate McKinnon, a former NYPD detective turned art historian has given up her rich clients and is now writing a book about the New York School of painters of the 1930s. After someone slashes a painting by Willem de Kooning, which was loaned to a museum by Kate’s late husband, she reluctantly returns to police work, helping the NYPD’s art squad find out who’s behind this and other slashings. An interesting look into what, for me, was a totally different world. 05/06 Jack Quick

KILLING CASTRO by Lawrence Block: Hardcase Crime Number Fifty One is a reprint of a 1961 classic by one of the masters. Five guys on a mission. The reward – $20,000 each. The target – Fidel Castro. Originally published just before the Cuban Missile Crisis under a pen-name used only this once, it reads as good today. From the opening line – “The taxi, one headlight out and one fender crimped, cut through downtown Tampa and into Ybor City.” to the final scene at the airport, you know this book was not written on a word processor. At best it was typed two fingered on a battered Remington with a cigarette in the ashtray on one side and half a glass of good scotch on the other. No pretty boys here, no psychological insights, no sensitive touchy feely – just what the name implies – Kill him. 12/08 Jack Quick

THE KILLING CIRCLE by Andrew Pyper: Widower and single father Patrick Rush is looking for more out of his life than his journalism career has been giving him. On a whim, he joins a writing class. He finds that he has trouble developing his own story, but he quite enjoys one of his fellow classmates’ tales in particular. Time passes and Patrick hears that the author of this tale has died in a car accident. Patrick, who still has no story of his own, decides to tell hers instead. Then the dead girl shows up at one of his signings cryptically telling him to watch out, that he has awakened the Sandman. Soon, others from the class reveal that they have felt a presence, perhaps someone stalking them, a malicious being hiding in the shadows. Patrick, too, has felt this and believes that the person behind it has to have been one of the members of that writing group. Then the first body appears and Patrick knows that time is quickly running out for them all. At first, my impression was that Killing Circle bore a strong resemblance to Jincy Willett’s Writing Class. Quickly, though the book took a much darker tone than Willett’s more sarcastic tale. Pyper’s story is an ominous thriller with a really great ending. Certainly readers who enjoyed Willett’s novel will also like The Killing Circle, but in the end they are refreshingly different. 09/08 Becky Lejeune

A KILLING FROST by Michael A. Black: Ron Shade is a Chicago-area tough-guy P.I. and martial arts aficionado. Things aren’t going too well for him so he makes some life changing decisions. He buys a new Camaro Z-28 and a big yellow pages ad and starts looking for a different office. Then he meets Maria Castro. She wants him to find her friend Juanita’s missing fiancé Carlos. When Carlos is located, facedown is a shipping canal, the journey really begins to get interesting. By now Shade is involved with Maria, and there are lots of potential bad guys. It’s the Chicago way. Is Shade gonna be tough enough? Stay tuned. 07/09 Jack Quick

KILLING GHOST by Christopher Ransom: It’s been a year since James’s wife, Stacey, was killed. Though it was a terrible accident, no one has ever come forward. No one has ever been caught. For James, this year meant the end of his job, though not quite the end of his life. Hard drinking and wallowing in self-pity take up most of his time, until Annette moves in next door. Annette is a nice distraction—maybe a chance for James to move on—but Annette is starting to look and act a little too much like Stacey. And weird things are starting to happen in his house. Could Stacey be hanging around, unwilling to move on? Christopher Ransom again offers up a nice twist on the classic ghost story. Killing Ghost is a disturbing but fun horror read that will have you looking over your shoulder and second-guessing strange noises in the middle of the night. (Originally released in the UK as The Haunting of James Hastings.) 5/12 Becky Lejeune

THE KILLING GROUND by Jack Higgins: Is there anyone better at writing about bad guys doing good things? Sean Dillon, the colorful former IRA hit man turned British intelligence antiterrorism op is back, along with his able sidekick, Billy Salter, son of London pub keeper and career criminal, Harry Salter. The actual villain is Muslim extremist Hussein Rashid, aka the Hammer of God, one of the most successful assassins alive, with 27 certified kills of American and British soldiers and Iraqi politicians. This time Hussein is after Charles Ferguson, head of British intelligence. It’s a longstanding grudge, complicated by the recent kidnapping of Hussein’s promised bride, his 13-year-old cousin Sara, who was earlier kidnapped by Hussein himself. Don’t worry, it reads easier than it explains. Just don’t get too comfy because you never know what the next page will bring. With almost forty of these published, Higgins knows how to pull all the strings and without ever a letdown. Definitely recommended. 03/08 Jack Quick

A KILLING IN COMICS by Max Allan Collins: Mr. Collins is a throwback to the days of serious pulpwriters who produced solid crime story after story without getting too formulaic. Not bad company – Dashiell Hammett, Ellery Queen and currently Lawrence Block and Ken Bruen. Prodigious producers all. (And not to be confused with those who write the same book over and over – like James Patterson and Stuart Woods), One of the areas Collins has dabbled in is setting older crime fiction writers as characters in his novels. It has been a real source of pleasure to me to see how he treats the old masters like S.S. Van Dine in his works. One may well ask whether if it were not for Philo Vance, whether there could have possibly been a Lord Peter Wimsey.
In this outing, Mr. Collins is taking a slightly different tack and adopting heroes from the golden age of pulp comic books. The result is an amusing effort interspersed with good graphics reminiscent of both comic books and the excesses of the Batman television show. I really liked the resolution with a “here are the suspects, who did it?” presentation, pictures and all. My only minor complaint with the book is the tacky name changes for the creators of Superman and Batman. That is more than redeemed by the dedication of the book to one of the truly great men of comic literature (yes, there is comic literature), Will Eisner, the creator of The Spirit. 07/07 Geoffrey R. Hamlin

KILLING ME SOFTLY by Maggie Shayne: Bryan Kendall is a young cop in the Shadow Falls, Vermont PD who kills a perp in a hostage situation. He is placed on leave and then eventually cleared to go back to work. That news calls for a small party, but somehow Kendall ends up on the bathroom floor. The next morning he finds his girl friend has been strangled in the unique style of .the Nightcap Strangler, who terrorized the town of Shadow Falls fifteen years ago, before being arrested, convicted and dying in prison. Is this a copy-cat crime or was the wrong man arrested? Kendall’s ex-love, Dawn Jones, learns of his problems and returns to Shadow Falls to help him. Doing so places her at risk for the same fate. Not a bad book, but a little too much emphasis on the “true love” between Dawn and Bryan, as well as Dawn’s “ability” to talk to the dead. 06/10 Jack Quick
A KILLING NIGHT by Jonathon King: This time out Florida PI Max Freeman, is primarily in Fort Lauderdale and Philadelphia helping pal Bill Manchester look after the interests of a dozen immigrant cruise ship employees who were injured in a boiler explosion. Freeman is also looking into the murder of three pretty female bartenders. The suspect is Philadelphia ex-cop Colin O’Shea, with whom Max once worked. King just keeps getting better and better. 05/07 Jack Quick

KILLING RAIN by Barry Eisler: A blown assignment in Manila for his new employers – the Mossad – leaves two CIA agents dead and John Rain in the cross hairs as the Israelis fear his continued existence will lead back to them. Mossad operative Delilah who had become Rain’s lover and introduction to Mossad is now tasked with finding him and setting him up for elimination. But the dead agents are actually ex-CIA and there is more going on here than suspected by anyone. There are both official and unofficial agendas being pursued. Most of the action actually happens in Bangkok and Rain and his partner Dox seem to be under the gun all the time. Rain is a contradictory character, but Eisler makes him likable and the pace is always fast. Expect the unexpected and you may still be surprised at the end as I was. Recommended. 07/05 ~This review contributed by Jack Quick.

THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS by Katrina Kittle: Sarah Ladens is struggling to keep her family intact after the death of her husband. Her oldest son, Nate, has been getting in trouble at school and her youngest, Danny is barely getting by. Sarah learns that her best friend is charged with a horrendous crime against her son, a classmate of Danny’s, as well as several other young children in this small, close-knit town. Sarah must determine who to believe–the scathing evidence the police has found, or her best friend. And caught in the middle is Jordan, Danny’s classmate. Jordan has never known what it feels like to really be loved. Now, without parents, he’s destined to become part of the foster care system. The Ladens step up and offer to foster him. After a long and difficult struggle, the Ladens, once again a family of four all begins to heal. The Kindness of Strangers is powerful and full of emotion. Katrina Kittle deals with a sensitive topic that is often buried. The emotion that each of the characters experience is genuine and believable. The reader feels that they are part of the story, a member of the community that is forced to deal with this horrendous crime. 05/08 Jennifer Lawrence

KINDS OF LOVE, KINDS OF DEATH by Donald Westlake: This was first published January 1966 under the penname of Tucker Coe, so a reissue of an early book introducing Mitch Tobin, a police officer that was let go from the force for a love affair outside of his marriage. He was an honest cop with the one glaring error to mar his career and cause him to lose his job and his pension. He has spent six months watching his savings go down to nothing, and attempting to live off the small amount of money his wife makes on a low end job. She has forgiven him and stays with him. Crime boss Ernie Rembeck turns up and asks Mitch to investigate the murder of his mistress. He explains that he would like an ex cop to do the investigation and feels that the murderer is someone inside his crime syndicate. Mitch is reluctant to work for a crime boss, but does take on the job for the large sum of money promised to solve the case. While certain factors date the novel, such as comparatively small amounts of money that are stated as large, it is still good Westlake and holds the reader’s interest during Mitch’s investigation. All told there were five Mitch Tobin novels written and look like they will be reprinted and offered to today’s readers. If, like this one, which was the first Tobin book, they will be well worth the read and take the reader into the era of the 1960’s. 8/13 Paul Lane

THE KING OF LIES by John Hart: This powerful literary thriller starts off slowly but builds momentum like a runaway train. Jackson Workman Pickens, Work to his friends, is an unambitious criminal defense lawyer in a small North Carolina town who has some serious baggage. He’s lost his mother, his father Ezra has been missing for more than a year, leaving Work to deal with his psychologically damaged sister, and his marriage is on the rocks. Ezra, a prosperous attorney of questionable ethics and Work’s boss, made a lot of enemies, so when his body is found pretty much everyone is a suspect – but only one man is charged with the murder. Small town ostracism and a social climbing wife only add to the difficulties of trying to find out the truth behind the murder, which eventually opens a Pandora’s Box for Work. The writing is beautiful and the story is gripping, but it is the character study of a damaged southern lawyer that puts this debut novel on the must-read list. 06/06 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch. Copyright © 2006 Cahners Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. Reprinted with permission.

THE KING OF LIES by John Hart: This debut novel is evocative of some of the early John Grisham works. “Work” Pickens is a second-generation lawyer in Salisbury, North Carolina who has always lived in the shadow of his father, Ezra. Ezra’s body, with two .357 bullet holes is found over a year after he disappeared the same night Work’s mother died. Because Work stands to inherit over $15 million, he is an immediate suspect, although it is known that Ezra had a number of people who actively disliked him. Then Work learns that Alexandra, his sister’s partner, was convicted of killing her own abusive father which makes Work fearful for her safety an well. A powerful story and reasonably well written. I found it a bit long on “touchy-feely” and had some difficulty in warming up to Work because of his brooding nature and some of his personal predilections. I look forward to Hart’s next effort to see if there is improvement. 04/07 Jack Quick

KING OF SWORDS by Nick Stone: Nick Stone made his debut last year with the award-winning Mr. Clarinet. In his first thriller, readers were introduced to PI Max Mingus. Now, Stone takes readers back to 1980 when Mingus was still a Miami cop. In King of Swords, Miami is suffering the results of years of racial intolerance and turmoil. It’s only a matter of time before a wrong step is taken and the whole city explodes. Max is part of an elite team of cops who don’t always go by the books, or follow the rules, to get their results. Max’s partner, however, is another matter. Joe has been left out of the loop and only Max’s dedication to his friend has kept him in his current position. When a prominent member of the Miami drug trade is gunned down on the witness stand, Max is told to make a certain connection in an attempt to bring down a wanted drug lord. He and Joe decide to play it the boss’s way, but continue to investigate on their own in hopes of actually solving the case. When it is discovered that the killing is linked to yet another series of murders that took place just months before, Max and Joe know that they have stumbled onto something big. Miami gangsters, drug lords, dirty cops, and Haitian voodoo are just some of the key aspects of this gritty and dark prequel. King is a great starting point for new readers, and fans of Mr. Clarinet are guaranteed to enjoy reading about how Max Mingus got his start. 12/08 Becky Lejeune

KING OF SWORDS by Nick Stone: Stone’s 2007 thriller Mr. Clarinet was one of my top ten reads for last year. This second thriller is actually a prequel which begins when Detective. Sergeant Max Mingus and his black partner, Detective Joe Liston, of the Miami PD discover a decomposed body in a primate park. When a tarot card—the ominous King of Swords—is found in the victim’s stomach and his entire family killed, it’s clear something darker is at work. The detectives are soon hot on the trail of a young Haitian pimp and his fortune-teller mother, who are thought to be linked to voodoo gang leader Solomon Boukman. Mingus and Liston soon realize that with the rampant police corruption there is no one they can trust and they are both in way too deep to back out. There are hauntingly violent and gruesome scenes as in Clarinet, but if you can stand the heat, Stone has turned out another great read. 06/09 Jack Quick

KING OF THE ROAD by Paul Hemphill – Paul Hemphill grew up in Birmingham, Alabama and became a featured daily columnist in the Atlanta Journal during the 1960’s. In this novel, he captures the spirit of the last American cowboy – the over the road trucker – who is trying to pass along his love of this life to his son. Jake and Sonny go on the road for Jake’s last trip from Alabama to Nevada – a journey that will enable Sonny to see his father, and himself, in a new light. Jake is over seventy, his wife has Alzheimer’s and doesn’t know him most of the time, his daughter and son-in-law have disowned him. All he has left is Dixie Red ball IV – his gasoline powered Dodge truck – and Sonny, an alcoholic want-to-be writer who has settled for teaching at community colleges rather than reaching for his goals. Extremely well written and accurately depicts the time and location. 08/05 ~This review contributed by Jack Quick.

THE KINGDOM by Amanda Stevens: In this second book of the Graveyard Queen series, cemetery restorer Amelia Gray has been hired to clean up Thorngate in the small South Carolina town of Asher Falls. Once the Asher family cemetery, Thorngate was donated to the town in an attempt to make amends after Pell Asher allowed the state to build a reservoir over the prior graveyard. To say the townspeople are still sore over the deal would be an understatement and Thorngate has been neglected in the years since. Amelia is prepared for some resistance to her hiring, but her reception in town is downright chilly. When she discovers an unmarked grave and begins digging into Asher Falls history, Amelia soon finds that she’s upset someone or something that might be willing to kill to make sure their secret remains safely buried. As with the first in the series, Amelia’s position and her talent for seeing the dead leaves lots of opportunity for interesting cemetery and burial practice history as well as a great set up for a creepy paranormal mystery. Stevens also reveals more of Amelia’s somewhat secretive background in this follow up to The Restorer. 5/12 Becky Lejeune

THE KING’S DECEPTION by Steve Berry: A very complex novel but the ease with which Berry ties all factors neatly together marks a truly fascinating and engrossing read. What do Elizabethan times in British history, going from the reign of Henry VIII to Queen Elizabeth I and her successor, the return of one of the terrorists in the Pan Am Flight 103 bombing to Libya due to humanitarian reasons based on his terminal cancer, and questions of territory granted to Irish Protestants by Elizabeth I have to do with one another? A possible answer to this is presented by Steve Berry in his latest Cotton Malone novel. Malone is returning to Denmark with his son Gary via a stopover in England. His previous employer: the CIA, has asked him to escort a teenager that fled England rather than endanger himself by providing facts about a murder he saw. Looks like an easy drop, with a delivery of the fugitive to British authorities than on to Denmark with Gary for a much needed father and son get together visit. No such luck, the boy and Gary are kidnapped by persons unknown and Malone enters into the midst of a conspiracy involving the US CIA, the British equivalent of the FBI, a visit to Oxford University, exploration of London underground, and tours of the tombs of deceased British royalty interred in Westminster Abbey. Steve Berry and his wife are fascinated by history and together founded a society called History Matters which is dedicated to historic preservation. He incorporates his love of history with a great story featuring a theory about Elizabeth I changing the way she is featured, and based upon interpretation from writings of her contemporaries as well as an essay published by Bram Stoker, the creator of Dracula showcasing that change in view of her. The concept of a different Elizabeth I and what it could mean if true has the possibility of reshaping the UK. King’s Deception is fiction, but a reading of certain facts presented by Berry in the course of the novel are sure to provoke the reception of new ideas and theories on the part of the reader. In keeping with the formats of his last several books Steve Berry’s research into other times leads to alternative ideas of that period and I certainly look forward to his next novel. 6/13 Paul Lane

KINGS OF MIDNIGHT by Wallace Stroby: Crissa Stone is a career criminal who has pulled a number of impressive heists by knowing how to keep her mouth shut and her temper in check. Still, as good as she is, she wants to get out of the life. She’s not the only one. Benny Roth, a former mobster, has been straight for years, but now he has his own problems. A face from the past has popped up to tell him that boss Joey Dio is finally dead and to ask about the five million dollars that Joey was rumored to have stashed away years ago. Benny denies knowing anything about it and claims he’s out of the business. That may be what he says, but he’s willing to risk almost everything for one last shot. The two unlikely partners risk it all for that one last score. Excellent. 6/12 Jack Quick

A KISS BEFORE MIDNIGHT by Eloisa James: My quest to find a romance novel I can read and enjoy continues, with a fun stop with this fairytale. If the title didn’t clue you in, allow me – this is a retelling of Cinderella. This is not a modern, Enchanted type tale; the author states in her note at the end that it is set probably around 1813, so a historical Cinderella, if you will. The rats are small, yipping dogs, there is no pumpkin, and the glass slippers are made of spun tapestry silk that looks like glass. The godmother is no fairy but a practical, sensual, funny woman, and yes, there is a prince. He’s probably darker than Disney ever envisioned, but totally hot – a real fairytale prince. This was a fun read and I’m looking forward to the next book, a retelling of Beauty and the Beast. 08/10 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

A KISS GONE BAD by Jeff Abbott: Welcome to Port Leo, Tex., original home of porn star Pete Hubble, the black sheep son of a senator, who returns only to be killed. His producer and girlfriend, Velvet Mojo, along with rookie Judge Whit Mosley and police detective Claudia Salazar, a pompous southern sheriff, a wrestler turned evangelist, a shadowy psychotic killer named Blade, a corrupt female senator and a delightful sidekick who sticks to his ethics even if they don’t always coincide with judicial law seek to get to the bottom of the matter. You’ve probably guessed the conclusion by now, but you still should give it a read. 06/06 Jack Quick

KISS HER GOODBYE by Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins: Mickey Spillane is no longer with us but thanks to his notes, and his good friend Max Allan Collins, we still have some more of Mike Hammer. Hammer has been recuperating in Florida after a deadly mob shootout when his friend Pat Chambers calls to tell him their old mentor on the New York Police force, Inspector Bill Doolan, has committed suicide rather than face a drawn out death from cancer. Hammer returns to New York for the funeral—and because he knows that Inspector Doolan would never have killed himself. Hammer’s lovely longtime partner, Velda, has disappeared after he broke it off for her own safety, and his office is shut down. When a woman is murdered practically on the funeral home’s doorstep, Hammer is drawn into the hunt for a cache of Nazi diamonds and for the mysterious beauty who had been close to Doolan in his final days. He also mixes it up with some drug racketeers, who had it in for the tough old police inspector, and plays footsie with a sleek lady D.A., a modern female on the make for the old fashioned Hammer. At the end Hammer and his .45 do a bit of house cleaning. Its definitely Hammer Time. 05/11 Jack Quick

KISS ME, JUDAS by Will Christopher Baer: Remember the one about the man who wakes up in a hotel bathtub full of ice to discover someone has removed a kidney? That really happens to Phineas Poe, an ex-cop on his first night out from a six month stay in a psychiatric hospital. Poe heads to the sex-shop where his friend Crumb works. “Crumb isn’t really a doctor. He does cheap abortions and gunshot wounds and even dental work for the mad and desperate.” Crumb confirms the absence of Poe’s kidney and even further complications : but you just have to read it for yourself…. 11/05 ~This review contributed by Jack Quick.

KISS ME, KILL ME by Lauren Henderson: Every girl knows how hard it is to be a teenager. Scarlett Wakefield is one the very unlucky ones. When Scarlett is invited to attend a party thrown by one of the most popular girls at St. Tabby’s private school, she is elated. Her crush, Dan McAndrew will be there. Her two friends are understandably angry at being ditched, but Scarlett can always deal with that later. After all, this could finally be her chance with Dan. Everything is going fantastically well. She and Dan are talking, and then, magically, kissing, but something is wrong with Dan. Dan is dead and it seems like Scarlett must be cursed with the kiss of death. Shamed out of St. Tabby’s, Scarlett is whisked away by her grandmother to attend Wakefield Hall Collegiate. Wakefield Hall is a far cry from St. Tabby’s and being the headmistress’s granddaughter isn’t helping. At least no one knows about Scarlett’s killer past. There is even a boy at Wakefield, the gardener’s hot grandson. Scarlett can’t shake the horrifying memory of Dan’s death, however, or the guilty thought that it was all her fault and she vows to find out the truth at any cost. This is Henderson’s first young adult title and the start of what promises to be a great teen mystery series. It’s fun for adults as well. Henderson is no newbie to the mystery trade. She is the author of seven precious adult tart noir mysteries. 01/08 Becky Lejeune

Kisscut by Karin Slaughter: In this sequel to Blindsighted, Dr. Sara Linton and Police Chief Jeffrey Tolliver are back, dealing with very disturbing subject matter; a child porn ring and teenage genital mutilation, in a story even more depraved and gory than it’s predecessor. Slaughter borrows a page from Andrew Vachss, but unfortunately doesn’t quite measure up. The story just plods along in places, and certain plot points were dubious at best.

KISSER by Stuart Woods: This is Woods’ 17th Stone Barrington novel and I am afraid that with it, Mr. Woods has joined James Patterson and the late Harold Robbins on my list of “burned out” authors. Stone Barrington (who, other than Stone Phillips of NBC-TV, is so uniquely named), ex-NYPD Detective and current legal eagle falls hook, line and sinker for one Carrie Cox, an aspiring actress who’s recently moved from Georgia to New York City, whom he picks ups at Elaine’s, his favorite Manhattan restaurant. Add her to Barrington’s long and somewhat unusual list of conquests art gallery assistant Rita Gammage, U.S. attorney Tiffany Baldwin, and mentally unstable Dolce Bianci, to whom he was once briefly married. Ms. Cox allegedly is being pursued by a violent ex-husband who wishes her great harm, so Stone and his current and former NYPD and CIA friends jump into protect the poor lass. Stone even allows her to spend most nights with him. In a few days major discrepancies appear in Ms. Cox’s story but in the meantime, Barrington manages to get involved in protecting young heiress Hildy Parsons from a con artist/drug dealer, and plots to take down Ponzi scammer Sig Larsen. I know I am not getting old, but all the whining and wining and dining and bedding, etc. begins to wear thin. 02/10 Jack Quick

KISSES AND LIES by Lauren Henderson: Six months ago, Scarlett Wakefield thought all her dreams were coming true. After being invited to an exclusive party by some of the most popular teens in London, she ends up alone with the guy she’s been crushing on for ages. But everything falls apart when Dan, the boy in question, dies while kissing Scarlett. She’d thought it was her fault, but in Kiss Me, Kill Me she finally discovered that she was wrong. Dan had a severe peanut allergy and someone laced the chips at the party with peanut oil and then stole Dan’s epi-pen (emergency allergy injector). Though her own conscience is clear, Scarlett is now determined to track down the person responsible for Dan’s murder. Her investigation eventually leads her to Dan’s ancestral home in Scotland. Scarlett manages an invite to the estate, but is not prepared for the surprises that await her upon arrival. This mostly lighthearted, contemporary mystery series is great fun for teens. I have a teen sister who’s been dying to get her hands on this book. I must admit that I was so intrigued after Kiss Me, Kill Me that I just had to read this one before handing it over to her. I was not disappointed. Who knows what Scarlett and Taylor will be up to next, but I can tell you the twist at the end of Kisses and Lies looks very promising for this series’ continuation. 04/09 Becky Lejeune

Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto: Quirky first novel, more accurately a novella. I found the translation a bit awkward but it was a funny, touching story worth reading. Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

THE KITCHEN DAUGHTER by Jael McHenry: Ginny Selvaggio doesn’t have a syndrome, she has a personality. Or that’s what her mother always said. In truth, Ginny has Aspergers, which makes social situations somewhat awkward. Her mother has always protected her and had plenty of rules to help Ginny along. But when both of Ginny’s parents die, she must finally face things on her own. Her sister is ready to sell their house and believes Ginny shouldn’t be on her own. Meanwhile, Ginny, who has always been more comfortable in the kitchen than anywhere else, has discovered that she can bring back the dead by cooking their handwritten recipes. But their brief visits bring strange messages that are a riddle yet to be solved. Jael McHenry’s debut is a sweet and touching story about sisters, loss, family, and cooking. I loved Ginny as a narrator. Her unique point of view really captures the reader. The Kitchen Daughter is a fine debut and a lovely read. 04/11 Becky Lejeune

THE KITCHEN HOUSE by Kathleen Grissom: In the early 1800’s, Lavinia is orphaned on a ship from Ireland to America and becomes an indentured servant to the ship’s captain. He brings her to his home, ordering his slaves to train her in the kitchen house, a building far enough away from the main house to avoid any sort of fire problems. Lavinia has no memory of her life prior to her parents’ deaths and she clings to Mama Mae, the head of the household staff, and Belle, who’s in charge of the kitchen. Lavinia grows up there and leads a life that mirrors that of the slaves, until the captain dies and his sister-in-law takes her in. Life becomes even more difficult as a free woman, especially when Lavinia marries. Grissom is a wonderful story, bringing these characters and this place to life. A very interesting and very disturbing read about life on a plantation, told from the slave’s point of view. Lots to discuss here, which is why this book is so popular with reading groups. 12/11 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini: I had the privilege of meeting Josseini this past summer which compelled me to finally pick up his book. This book is an incredible coming-of-age story along with a fascinating history of modern Afghanistan. Amir is the son of a very successful businessman in Kabul and he grows up in privilege. His closest friend, Hassan, is the son of their servant. Amir’s mother died in childbirth and Hassan’s mother left him as an infant, and they shared the same wet nurse. They grow up together, playing games and flying kites, which is serious business in Afghanistan. They would be as close as brothers, except they are separated by class and by a horrific incident during their teenage years. Eventually Amir and his father flee Afghanistan and end up in California, (rather like the author’s own experience) but as an adult, Amir ends up going back to the Taliban-ruled Afghanistan to right some wrongs. Anyone with an interest in other cultures, especially in light of what’s going on over there, should plan on reading this. Beautifully written and very autobiographical, it is a book that will be haunting me for years to come. This one is definitely going to make my top ten for the year.

KITTY AND THE MIDNIGHT HOUR by Carrie Vaughn: Kitty Norville is a DJ for a Denver radio station. She’s also a werewolf, a secret that she’s been able to keep from her audience. One night, however, things change. She brings up the topic of “Bat Boy”, a local phenomena that frequently appears in the news. Hundreds of calls start pouring in, comments ranging from “My girlfriend, a werewolf, won’t bite me” to recommendations on exorcisms. And thus, “The Midnight Hour”, a supernatural advice show, is born. Kitty is overjoyed at the success of her new show. But her pack leader, Carl, is not. He’s afraid the show is casting too much attention on their pack. Nevertheless, Kitty continues to broadcast, and a rift forms between her and her pack. Her desire for independence is misunderstood as an attempt to gain power within the pack. When Kitty accidentally reveals herself as a werewolf on one airing of a show, her life is in danger. When Cormac, a werewolf hunter, threatens her life, Kitty, and her show, are brought to the attention of the local police. Hardin, a local detective, asks for Kitty’s advice on a batch of unsolved murders. Murders originally thought were the work of wolves. Kitty visits the crime scene and it’s instantly obvious—a rogue werewolf is killing people. The first in a series, KITTY AND THE MIDNIGHT HOUR is a very addictive read. I can’t wait to pick up the next book in the series. 03/09 Jennifer Lawrence

KLLRS by Phil Bowie: John Hardin has just been given an offer he can’t refuse, literally. Living under an assumed name and working as a pilot specializing in aerial photography, Hardin has some skeletons in his closet that are better off remaining hidden. When Nolan Radar, a former ATF agent, approaches him and blackmails him into helping him on a job, Hardin has no choice. Radar’s younger brother is missing and he believes that the notorious motorcycle gang, Satan’s Ghosts, is behind it. Radar wants Hardin to infiltrate the group and find his brother in exchange for keeping quiet. What the two don’t know is that a man calling himself Brain has taken the younger Radar as part of a twisted experiment and it’s just a matter of time before he’s killed. A great thriller that just sucks you in! Kllrs is third in a series that has been praised by both Lee Child and Stephen Coonts. 10/08 Becky Lejeune

KNEE HIGH BY THE FOURTH OF JULY by Jess Lourey: Chief Wenonga is one muscled dude. Of course, he is also 23 feet tall and formed from fiberglass. But when he goes missing just before the town of Battle Lake, Minnesota celebrates the statue’s 25th anniversary, there is sadness throughout the land. Enter amateur sleuth Mira James. However, her investigation is quickly interrupted by both the disappearance of her second biggest crush after the Chief, one Johnny Leeson, and the discovery of a dead body. So is Mira after a statue thief, a kidnapper, or a murderer? And the clue? A scalp left at the scene of the Chief’s disappearance. Better cook up another hot dish, Mama, this one is going to take awhile. One of the better cozy series, but then again I also love Prairie Home Companion. 11/07 Jack Quick

KNIT TWO by Kate Jacobs: It’s been five years since we met the members of the Friday Night Knitting Club. Dakota is now an eighteen year old NYU student, working part time at her mother’s yarn shop, Walker & Daughter. She aspires to become a pastry chef, but everyone seems to remind her of her duty to her mom’s shop. Darwin and her husband Dan, after trying for many years, are expecting twins. Lucie has really taken off as a video producer, while trying to be a single mom to her hyperactive 5 year old, Ginger. Anita, the mentor of the group, decides its time she do what she wants to do in life, and not rely on what her family thinks is best. Catherine has a successful wine/antique shop, and KC goes back to work at a firm that once dismissed her, but this time she’s their legal counsel. Reading KNIT TWO was like coming home again. The first few chapters were very difficult; I missed Georgia (who passed away from cancer at the end of FNKC) tremendously. Apparently so did the members of the Friday Night Knitting Club. They all relied on Georgia so much, and they were just now coming to terms with how to survive without her. I cried tears of sympathy for dear Dakota. Everyone thought they knew what was best for her, but weren’t listening to what she wanted. The strength of the women in this group is quite amazing. They have all overcome so much. And while they started as a knitting club, they evolved into so much more. 02/09 Jennifer Lawrence

KNOCKEMSTIFF by Donald Ray Pollock: If Flannery O’Conner and William Faulkner created a bastard lovechild, the result would be Donald Ray Pollock. Instead of the deep south, Pollock sets his stories in Knockemstiff, Ohio. The town is harsh and unforgiving. This despair is reflected in the lives of it’s characters. Incest, drug abuse, and domestic violence are pasttimes for the denizens of Knockemstiff. The factories are closing. Poverty is rampant. This is the forgotten underbelly of America where life is cheap. While the subject matter may be grim, it is delivered with a deft touch. Pollock’s writing style is nothing short of high-art, the work of a craftsman. This book will delight fans of transgressive fiction and university professors alike. 05/08 Dan Cawley

THE KOREAN INTERCEPT by Stephen Mertz: This one avoids Iraq and Afghanistan in favor of the other member of the Evil Axis – North Korea. The space shuttle Liberty, in orbit and set to deploy a defense satellite while making repairs to other satellites, has its mission aborted on order from NASA. Veteran captain Ron Scott is uneasy but obeys the order–then crash-lands in the frontier between North Korea and China. Scott, copilot Kate Galt and handsome but hotheaded crewman Bob Paxton survive. Scott must try to help the others avoid capture until Kate’s estranged husband, Major Trev Galt, a special-ops type for the National Security Council, can get them out of harm’s way. Not great literature but enough action to satisfy those who prefer an adrenaline rush to more subtle pleasures. 02/07 Jack Quick

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