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hapsburg_variationDecember 1, 2017

The Hapsburg Variation, by Bill Rapp

Eight years into his career with the CIA, Karl Baier once again finds himself on the front line of the Cold War. He is stationed in Vienna in the spring of 1955 as Austria and the four Allied Powers are set to sign the State Treaty, which will return Austria’s independence, end the country’s post-war occupation, and hopefully reduce tensions in the heart of Europe. But the Treaty will also establish Austrian neutrality, and many in the West fear it will secure Soviet hegemony in Eastern Europe and create a permanent division.

Asked to help investigate the death of an Austrian aristocrat and Wehrmacht veteran, Baier discovers an ambitious plan not only to block the State Treaty, but also to subvert Soviet rule in lands of the old Hapsburg Empire. Then Baier’s wife is kidnapped, and the mission becomes intensely personal. Many of his basic assumptions are challenged, and he discovers that he cannot count on loyalties, even back home in Washington, D.C. At each maddening turn in the investigation, another layer must be peeled away.

Even if Baier succeeds in rescuing his wife, he faces the unenviable task of unraveling an intricate web of intrigue that reaches far back into the complicated history of Central Europe.

Book 2 in the Cold War Thriller series, which began with Tears of Innocence.

parkinson_bookshelvesDecember 15, 2017

Parkinson Pete’s Bookshelves: Reviews of Eighty-Nine Books about Parkinson’s Disease, by Peter G. Beidler

Parkinson’s disease has struck more than a million people in the United States, and many more worldwide. Although it is an incurable, progressive, and ultimately debilitating neurological disease, Parkinson’s can be managed with certain medicines, treated with certain surgeries, and slowed down with regular exercise and nutritional regimens.

In the past two decades, many conflicting and a confusing books about Parkinson’s disease have appeared. Some were written by doctors who have been trained to study and treat the disease. Some were written by men and women with the disease who wanted to share with others what they have learned. Still others are novels about fictional characters with Parkinson’s.

How are doctors, patients, families, friends, and reference librarians to know which book or books will best serve the particular needs of readers? Parkinson Pete spent several years collecting, reading, and writing reviews of eighty-nine books about the disease. His no-nonsense reviews are an indispensable guide for people who wants to know what books will most help them understand Parkinson’s disease, the people who have it, and the people who treat it.

crazy_rhythmJanuary 1, 2018

Crazy Rhythm, by T.W. Emory

In the summer of 1950, private eye Gunnar Nilson reluctantly agrees to accompany Rune Granholm on an errand to collect gambling winnings. When Gunnar arrives at Rune’s Wallingford apartment, he finds the man dead, shot with his own gun. No one much cared for the caddish ne’er-do-well, but Gunnar feels he owes it to Rune’s brother, a good friend and casualty of World War II, to find the killer. When a paying client arrives, Gunnar puts this investigation aside.

Attorney Ethan Calmer wants him to investigate a series of phone calls menacing his fiancée, Mercedes Atwood. Mercedes lives in Broadmoor, a tony neighborhood occupied by Seattle’s moneyed class, many of whom are descended from lumber barons. A poor little rich girl, Mercedes is beautiful but strangely passionless.

Then, like the hula-girl lamp in the apartment of the late and unlamented Rune, Mercedes shows him her moves. Gunnar soon wonders if the two cases might be connected in some way, but how, exactly?

Book 2 in the Gunnar Nilson Mystery series, which began with Trouble in Rooster Paradise.

derosFebruary 1, 2018

DEROS, by John A. Vanek

When Father Jake Austin is assigned to his hometown of Oberlin, Ohio, in July of 2002, he has been away for a long time. A physician and a war veteran before entering a Catholic seminary, he is now a member of the Camillian Order. He takes comfort in his vows of obedience, poverty, chastity, and service to the sick.

Jake arrives just in time to attend his high school reunion, where an encounter with his high school sweetheart forces him to question his commitment to the priesthood. Before the night is over, one of his classmates will be dead, a second gravely wounded, and a third hospitalized. The carnage at the reunion comes on the heels of what appears to be an unrelated murder at the quarry. Overseeing the investigation is Jake’s former football teammate, Chief of Police Tremont “Tree” Macon, who is unwilling to rule out anyone as a suspect, not even Jake. As he struggles to prove his innocence and to find his footing in a town that remembers him as a hellion, Jake searches for threads that will connect these brutal attacks.

The war may be long past, but in some ways Jake is still waiting for his DEROS: Date of Expected Return from Overseas. Can he put aside his own demons long enough to find the living, breathing devil who stalks his classmates?

Book 1 in the Father Jake Austin Mystery series.

illegal_holdingsMarch 1, 2018

Illegal Holdings, by Michael Niemann

UN fraud investigator Valentin Vermeulen is on assignment in Maputo, Mozambique. His ho-hum task is to see if Global Alternatives is spending UN money the way they promised. The nonprofit was set up by hedge fund mogul Vincent Portallis to revolutionize development aid. The only upside for Vermeulen is the prospect of seeing his lover Tessa Bishonga, who is reporting on foreign land acquisitions in Africa.

When Vermeulen notices that a five-million-dollar transfer has gone missing, he is given the run-around. First he is told the files have been mislaid, then stolen, then he is assured that the money was never transferred to begin with. But the money was transferred, so where is it now? Vermeulen’s dogged pursuit of the missing transfer makes him the target of some ruthless operators. And once he meets up with Tessa, she is inevitably sucked in to the story as well, which turns out to be far more nefarious than either of them imagined. Now they are both in deadly danger.

Book three in the Valentin Vermeulen Thriller series.

TheSongsApril 1, 2017

The Songs We Hide, by Connie Hampton Connally

In 1951, a grim hush has settled over Hungary. After a lost war and a brutal transition to communism, the people live under constant threat of blacklisting, property confiscation, arrest, imprisonment, and worse. In this milieu of dread, the best land of Péter Benedek’s peasant family is seized and his life upended. Moving to Budapest for a manual labor job, Péter meets Katalin Varga, an unwed mother whose baby’s father has vanished, most likely at the hands of the secret police. Both Péter and Katalin keep their heads down and their mouths clamped shut, because silence is the only safety they know.

The two have something in common besides fear: they are singers whose very natures make the silence unbearable. When Katalin starts giving Péter voice lessons, they take an intrepid step out of hiding by making music together. Little by little they tell each other what they cannot tell others. In their bond of trust, they find relief and unexpected happiness.

Yet the hurts and threats in their lives remain, waiting. As harsh reality assaults them again, is hope even possible? Facing their hardest trials yet, Péter and Katalin learn to carve dignity and beauty out of pain.

too_famousMay 1, 2018

Too Famous to Live Long, by David Linzee

Renata Radleigh is set to co-star in a new opera based on the movie Thelma and Louise, about to premiere at the Saint Louis Opera. Then the conductor, Vladimir Grinevich, is murdered. Everyone thinks a protestor murdered Grinevich because of his politics—everyone but Renata. She recognizes that his grisly murder was inspired by a famous death scene in an opera. If, as she suspects, the killer is someone close to the production, she might be in the best position to discover the truth. Unless the case is solved soon, her big break may be canceled.

Suspects abound: Grinevich’s ex-wife, a faded soprano who looked to him to revive her career, his own sister… even the head of the opera company. Struggling to make the show ready for opening night, Renata and company are buffeted by new shocks, as more victims turn up, each death inspired by an opera. The police are baffled. Renata’s only ally is her lover Peter Lombardo.

Too late, Renata realizes the scene is set for yet another opera-inspired death.

Book 3 in the Renata Radleigh Opera Mystery series.

THE DUTTON GIRLJune 1, 2018

The Dutton Girl, by Stan Freeman

In January, 1915, John Nolan’s life is in a shambles. A recent immigrant from Ireland, he wants nothing more than to bring his fiancée over too, but he is only a poorly paid private detective living in New York City in a tenement flat without water or a bathroom.

When the daughter of a wealthy real estate developer is kidnapped from her Manhattan apartment, the police are baffled. A $50,000 ransom demand puts the girl’s father in fear for her life, so he hires Nolan in hopes that he can find her quickly.

Early in his investigation, Nolan realizes the missing girl’s family members are the main suspects. Her father gave her a small fortune in jewelry to avoid losing the pieces in court when he divorced her mother. Everyone in the family needs money, and they all knew where she kept the jewels hidden in her apartment.

The case will bring Nolan up against police corruption, the Black Hand, and racist stevedores on the waterfront. And before he uncovers the truth, he must survive a biplane pursuit, a gun battle in the Tenderloin, and finally a deadly chase on the tracks beneath Grand Central Terminal.

Book 1 in a new detective series featuring John Nolan.

where_privacy_diesAugust 1, 2018

Where Privacy Dies, by Priscilla Paton

An executive’s corpse is discovered in a Minneapolis wetland, and with it the photo of a girl. Is she unconscious or dead? Detective Erik Jansson takes on the investigation and is mismatched with a new partner, the imposing Detective Deb Metzger. They soon learn that the murdered man worked for a reputation management firm that serves wealthy clients. Other employees from the firm have also vanished, but information is withheld from the detectives by a corporate cover-up.

Erik and Deb pursue promising leads about the identity of the photo girl. When these leads take them to a down-and-out family and a Northwoods cabin, they seem to be dead-ends—or are they?

Despite informants who lie, the online targeting of another girl, and threats to their own safety, Erik and Deb delve deeper. The story becomes stranger and more unsavory as intensely private and deadly secrets come to light.

whereverSeptember 1, 2018

Wherever You Are: A Memoir of Love, Marriage, and Brain Injury, by Cynthia Lim

Cynthia Lim thought she had the perfect life: a husband who was a successful attorney, a fulfilling career in education, two teenage sons in private school, and a home in Los Angeles rich in books, music, and art. Then in 2003, her husband Perry suffers a cardiac arrest and brain injury, lingering in a coma for ten days before slowly awakening. A different person emerges, one who has lost his short-term memory and is fully dependent on others. Married for twenty years, she doesn’t know how much of his former self will return as she fights for the treatment and care he needs.

She struggles with caregiving and working full-time while finding connection with the man she once knew and loved, whose brain will never again function as it did before. While wrestling with the urge to leave him in an institution and walk away, she discovers the strength and resolve that will allow her to build a new life. Wherever You Are is the story of a marriage after a spouse is forever changed by a catastrophic event. It is a story of redefining life with disability and discovering the real truth of love and marriage.