Monday, April 30, 2012

Effie: The Passionate Lives of Effie Gray, John Ruskin and John Everett Millais-Suzanne Fagence-Cooper

Effie: The Passionate Lives of Effie Gray, John Ruskin and John Everett Millais

Suzanne Fagence-Cooper

St. Martin's Griffin, May 8 2012, $15.99

ISBN: 9781250016256

In 1854, Effie Gray, abetted and encouraged by Lady Easterly, wife of the head of the Royal Academy, did the unthinkable though she knew her action will ostracize her; she filed for an annulment after six years of marriage to famous art critic John Ruskin on the grounds she remained a virgin. Soon after obtaining the dissolution of her marriage, Effie married Ruskin's student, pre-Raphaelite painter John Everett Millais and along with her sister Sophy became his muse and mother of their eight children.

Suzanne Fagence-Cooper provides an intriguing biography that combines knowledge obtained from family correspondence mostly written by the upper class heroine with the state of Victorian art and aristocratic history. Though insightful, Ms. Cooper also fills in gaps with speculation. Those that are based on the state of Victorian art and high society seem reasonable and enhance the bio especially the annulment events; on the other hand those that are psychological fillers like Sophy’s relationship with Millais and Ruskin’s rejection of his wife ask too much of the reader. Still this is an enjoyable Victorian biography.

Harriet Klausner

The Bird Saviors- William J. Cobb

The Bird Saviors

William J. Cobb

Unbridled, Jun 12 2012, $25.95

ISBN: 9781609530709

Ruby Cole knows the world has gone wrong when the government pays hunters to kill birds she loves to count. They rationalize the kills on a deadly flu fever blamed on birds, but do nothing about dust storms, fires and deadly felonious activity. Her Colorado no longer has room for a Moon Bird or for that matter her.

Meanwhile her dad “Lord God” the disabled Forsaken Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints preacher gives his daughter Ruby Cole two untenable choices. She must give up her baby Lila or marry Page a man her dad’s age who has two wives because Lord God received a heavenly vision. Deciding to not honor her martinet father, Ruby selects a third option when she decides to run away with Lila. Her seemingly isolated act of defiance turns into a butterfly effect on Widower Ward Costello and other people involved in aviary population and criminal activity.

The Bird Saviors is a fascinating low-key character driven thriller starring a young woman who decides to take a chance on living instead of dying a slow domestic death. The storyline starts slow as the world around Pueblo and the key cast are established during a difficult recession. Once done, chaos theory takes effect as one thing leads to another in a world that seems to have gone mad. Readers will enjoy Ruby’s impact as she becomes a bird savior while searching for a good happy life for her and her baby.

Harriet Klausner

The Wrong Man- David Ellis

The Wrong Man

David Ellis

Putnam, Jun 14 2012, $26.95

ISBN 9780399158285

After class, paralegal Kathy Rubinkowski heads to her SUV to go home when someone shoots her in her head. Detective Frank Danilo and Mona Gregus arrest Iraqi war veteran Tom Stoller who is incoherent and apparently homeless in spite of an address. Stoller was found with the murder weapon and Kathy’s purse near the homicide scene. The cops get a confession out of the mentally unstable Stoller.

Tom’s Aunt Deidre Maley observes in court attorney Jason Kolarich destroy the testimony of a key prosecution witness in a murder case. She pleads with him to defend her nephew as public defender Bryan Childress is leaving the office. He agrees though the trial is in a few weeks and his client wants it over so a continuance is unlikely. As he goes over the evidence and talks with his client, Jason begins to believe Tom confessed to a horrible event in Iraq not to the killing of Kathy. He finds proof that Kathy was assassinated because someone wanted to end her inquiry into a terrorists’ money trail.

The third Jason Kolarich legal thriller (see The Hidden Man and Breach of Trust) is an exciting tale that is at its best in the courtroom and in client-lawyer meetings. The attorney defends an individual suffering from PTSD triggered Disorganized Schizophrenia who mumbles okay though he apparently has no idea what he responds to. When the case turns into an improbable thriller, the storyline remains fast-paced but loses some of its freshness of defending a person whose sanity seems unlikely.

Harriet Klausner

The River Witch-Kimberly Brock

The River Witch

Kimberly Brock

Bell Bridge, Apr 6 2012, $14.95

ISBN: 9781611941234

Thirty years old Roslyn Byrne’s charmed life ended with the crash. Her career as a professional ballet dancer on the Atlanta stage ended and while healing at her mom’s house, she gave birth to a stillborn.

Worried about her daughter’s inability to move past her grief, Rosalyn’s mom pushes her to spend a summer healing on Manny's Island; Georgia just off St. Simon’s. Rosalyn rents a house from the Trezevant family. Their tweener daughter Damascus adopts the grieving Roslyn by introducing her to gators and hoodoo magic as the ten years old knows loss too with her mom dead. As Roslyn’s past and that of the Trezevant family become known due to the river where the dead rest, the former dancer begins to heal.

The gothic atmosphere makes for a strong character driven tale of people struggling with grief. The support cast is solid especially ephemeral cousin Nonnie and patriarch Urey. However, this haunting whimsical tale of soul healing belongs to the Sea Isle with its magical music by the riverbank and the two females; each barely coping with their respective losses until they meet.

Harriet Klausner

Shadow Blizzard- Alexey Pehov

Shadow Blizzard

Alexey Pehov

Tor, Apr 24 2012, $26.99

ISBN 9780765324054

Shadow Harold the thief seeks the horn to prevent the awakened Nameless One Dark Lord from destroying Sial. His journey has been marked by the deaths of comrades in arms as they fight the forces of the Dark Lord, but though he would prefer to return to the shadows of thievery, Harold remains resolute in his quest to obtain the horn by breaching the impregnable Hrad Spein, a place no army, even that of wizards, has entered. If he and those allies who live and have not betrayed him (yet) reach the dark underground palace, only Shadow Harold alone, as the Dancer in the Shadows can complete the journey.

Even if Harold obtains the horn and escapes Hrad Spein, he knows he remains behind enemy lines with orcs hunting him to recapture him. However, Harold cannot think that far ahead as war explodes in Sial. Before he can take the horn, he still has to confront deadly hindrances entering and leaving Hrad Spein; obstacles that have destroyed every fool trying to steal the artifact.

With a nod to the Lord of the Rings, the Shadow Chronicles of Sial epic fantasy (see Shadow Prowler and Shadow Chaser) is an engaging trilogy as the third entry is a taut thriller that never abates the tension until the anticipated final confrontation between good and evil. Shadow Blizzard contains greater tension than the previous novels as the jocularity that seemed out of place with so much death and destruction is virtually nonexistent. Harold is terrific as he deals with immense pressure as he expects his destiny is death, but remains steadfast on his quest as he knows in the end he must go it alone.

Harriet Klausner

The Taken-Vicki Pettersson

The Taken

Vicki Pettersson

Harper Voyager, Jun 12 2012, $13.99

ISBN 9780062064646

Five decades ago Griffin Shaw private investigator was murdered. His gig is collecting the souls of murder victims like Nicole Rockwell who in spite of a crushed larynx tells him she is a photographer not a hooker who due to the movie Ghost distrusts him to Take her soul to Everlast. Unable to resist a crying female; he breaks the rules and allows her to change her clothing; allowing Anas of the Powers angels to claim the soul. Griff’s efforts to prevent the theft angers Anas who clips his wings and returns him to life in a skin of sin.

Nicole’s friend Las Vegas reporter Katherine “Kit” Craig arrives as Griff flees. Kit and Nicole were working on a child prostitution ring. Meanwhile Griff figures since he is being punished by the heavenly powers, he will investigate the cold case murders of himself and his wife Evie. However, he is given one last chance to regain his heavenly status: he must collect the soul of Kit Craig whose guilt and obsession to avenge her friend’s death has her facing death. Falling in love Griff cannot deliver though it means damnation.

This is an engaging romantic urban fantasy as Vicki Pettersson deftly exaggerates the traits of the hard boiled 1950s detective with a soft boiled heart and the go into hell for a story reporter (Rosalind Russell in His Girl Friday). The paranormal hierarchy contains a uniqueness that is two-sword as the premise enables the reader to understand Griff’s “sin” and the universe he works, but the complexity of the Pettersson pantheon also slows down the storyline while never explaining his “fickleness” between Evie and Kit. Still this is an entertaining paranormal as two souls defy heaven.

Harriet Klausner

Lethal Rider- Larissa Ione

Lethal Rider

Larissa Ione

Grand Central, May 22 2012, $7.99

ISBN 9780446574501

Thanatos the Horsemen of the Apocalypse Death rages over what has happened to him. For centuries this Lord of Deliverance knew he must remain sexual abstinent to prevent his Agimortus seal from breaking. An ancient prophecy claims that his offspring will save the world so two of his Horsemen siblings (Ares and Limos) drugged him so that Aegis Guardian Regan Matthews could seduce him in order to become pregnant (see Immortal Rider).

Feeling date raped and betrayed Thanatos abducts Regan in order to make her his sexual prisoner. However, he finds an obsessive compulsive disorder individual filled with remorse and eight months pageant. Stunned Thanatos realizes the baby is his Agimortus and the fourth Horseman Pestilence, whose seal was broken (see Eternal Rider), hunts them for he knows killing the infant will fuel the Apocalypse.

The third Lords of Deliverance romantic urban fantasy is a superb apocalyptic thriller that grips the reader from the moment Thanatos realizes he has been betrayed and never slows down until the final confrontation. Though it helps to have read Immortal Rider as the drugged seduction occurs as a secondary plot; that is not necessary as this fast-paced story line filled with betrayals can be read alone; while setting up the Ione apocalyptic mythos final doomsday confrontation.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Cottage at Glass Beach-Heather Barbieri

The Cottage at Glass Beach

Heather Barbieri

Harper, May 15 2012, $24.99

ISBN: 9780062107961

In the Boston area, forty years old Nora Cunningham knows she lives a charmed life as the wife of the youngest attorney general in state history and the mother of two precious children (seven years old Annie and twelve years old Ella). However, the magic ends when the media hounds her over her husband’s unfaithfulness. Nora, accompanied by her daughters, move to Burke’s Island, Maine where she lived as a little girl until her mom vanished.

Aunt Maire warmly welcomes her niece and grand-nieces to Glass Beach. Nora tries to keep a happy face for the sake of the girls, but one night alone on the beach she cries. A few days after her weeping fit, Nora finds fisherman Owen Kavanagh shipwrecked on the rocks. Her aunt Maire's friend Polly insists he is a selkie who was drawn by her tears. Nora thinks he is most likely a man running from personal tsuris. When her daughters go off on an adventure, Nora pursues them while she frets over their safety, her mom, her marriage and herself.

The Cottage at Glass Beach is a whimsical family drama starring a heartbroken protagonist struggling to regain her equilibrium. The entertaining storyline gets deep inside the soul of the heroine. Although the two children seem too mature way beyond their ages and adults treat them as emotional equals that seems implausible with things I (and I doubt anyone else) would not tell my adult child now let alone when he was a tweener or younger. Still this is an engaging tale of emotional healing as those she loves forces Nora to move past the infidelity that rocked her Boston Brahman world.

Harriet Klausner

Under Fire-Catherine Mann

Under Fire

Catherine Mann

Sourcebooks, May 1 2012, $6.99

ISBN 9781402245015

Pararescueman Major Liam McCabe and Rachel Flores worked together in the Bahamas rescuing people during an earthquake. For the next six months he tried to make contact with her, but she refused to respond though she is attracted to Liam. She has a problem with his multi failed marriages somewhat but deep down she knows her fears of commitment go back to her fiancé who died on a mission.

On Patrick Air Force base, Florida, Liam and his team provide external security for a NASA sponsored international summit. This is the thirty eight year old soldier’s farewell mission after a career in the military though he knows he is going out with a whimper. Rachel finds Liam’s car and breaks into it. Meanwhile her house is ablaze due to an explosion. Liam is stunned to find her and one of her rescue dogs Disco inside his vehicle. She explains a flag officer has betrayed the country and wants her dead; she trusts only Liam to help her.

The latest Elite Force military romantic thriller (see Cover Me) is an exciting tale starring two individuals who met during the Bahamas rescue mission (see Hot Zone). Fast-paced and filled with action, Liam knows that if he chooses his heart, he could lose his twenty year career retirement; but if he ignores his heart he will live with regret as his unit’s mantra "that others may live" haunts him especially since Rachel is the one asking him. Fans will enjoy Under Fire as the protagonists, assisted by his squad, team up to try to bring down a highly ranked officer.

Harriet Klausner

COAST: An Act Of Burial-Xander Richards

COAST: An Act Of Burial

Xander Richards

BookBaby, Apr 25 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9781620956076

Tactical Deployment and Response Team (TDR-12) chief special ops agent Corporal Ian McKinley assassinates his Uncle Brennan, weapons dealer who sold high-tech armament to terrorists. He returns to his base under the streets of Nottingham where his superior officer General Sutton assigns TDR-12 to get to the Fort William navy supply ship that has foundered in the Persian Gulf because the vessel contains four trident nuclear warheads that they must possess. McKinley and his teammates Carter and Brook arrive quickly, but are attacked and two nukes are gone.

At the same time, members of the TDR units are being murdered. When TDR-7 is wiped out, TDR-12 takes over their mission traveling to Russia to meet arms dealer Vladimir Kholitczyn to learn what he knows about the two nukes. They survive an assault as the Russian informs them to look back home. Sutton realizes a traitor is betraying the TDR from within; so he sets up a scheme to find the operative who has betrayed his brothers in arms and his country.

This is an action-packed international espionage thriller starring a team of agents trying to prevent the use of the stolen bombs on British citizens and to uncover the diabolical killing traitor. The entertaining plot can turn passively wordy when Xander Richards goes deep into the thought processes of TDR-12 during the planning, execution, and after action debriefing of an operation. I found the insight fascinating but the action to the nth degree fan might not. With a great twist adding to the fun, COAST: An Act Of Burial is a fabulous war against terrorism tale though Ian and company can use some R&R.

Harriet Klausner

The Danger That Is Damian-Lisa Renee Jones

The Danger That Is Damian

Lisa Renee Jones

Sourcebooks, May 1 2012, $6.99

ISBN 9781402251627

GTECH Renegades soldier Damion Browne keeps reminding himself to remain focused on his current mission in the war against the Zodius. Instead the woman in the bikini keeps distracting him.

His assignment goes wrong, but Damion escapes with the bikini woman Lara Martin. He takes her to his apartment where he is stunned when he realizes she is a female GTECH. He is unaware she is one of a newly engineered super woman soldier Serenity whose mission is to end the Renegades. Although he soothes her headaches and has her heart pumping, Lara’s customized brainwashing is to destroy her beloved who has doubts about his beloved’s loyalty.

Once again with a nod to Captain America, Lisa Renee Jones provides a great romantic military fantasy. The action-packed story line grips the reader from the moment Damion’s mission fails and never slows down as readers will wonder whether love can supersede intense brainwashing. Fans will enjoy this Project Zodius (see The Legend of Michael) as the two adversarial groups of Super Soldiers bring a deadlier female element into the war.

Harriet Klausner

Kiss of the Goblin Prince-Shona Husk

Kiss of the Goblin Prince

Shona Husk

Sourcebooks, May 1 2012, $6.99

ISBN 9781402262067

Amanda married in a registry office. Three months later she was a pregnant widow. Now Amanda Coulter is a single mom raising an asthmatic daughter Brigit with love. At her sister-in-law Eliza Coulter’s wedding to Roan King (see The Goblin King), Amanda and Brigit meet his brother Dai, a noted scholar.

Dai, like his sibling, survived his Druid millennia banishment in the Shadowlands by his compulsion for knowledge. Now he finally has returned to the human Fixed Realm where his magical experiments over the centuries have the Birch Trustees watching him carefully. The best man and the matron of honor are attracted to one another. However, his actions to keep Roan and other family members safe lead him believe he is unworthy of her; while she knows Brigit comes first in her heart.

The second Shadowlands romantic urban fantasy is an engaging tale of two people who believe love is not enough to cement a permanent relationship. The storyline is at its best when it stays in the present; when the scholar looks back at his deeds against Rome and in the Shadowlands, the storyline loses momentum as those segues are well written but come across as unnecessary. Still fans will enjoy the love story of the goblin and the mom.

Harriet Klausner

Where There’s Smoke-Karen Kelley

Where There’s Smoke

Karen Kelley

Sourcebooks, May 1 2012, $14.99

ISBN 9781402263866

In 1959 Destiny Carter died and went straight to hell. Vetis the demon informs Destiny that she must destroy the soul of a mortal in one week before she can achieve demon status; she does not want to know what failure denotes. Vetis sends her back to earth.

In Fort Worth, Texas near the stockyards, Destiny enters the Stompin’ Ground bar where she chooses lonesome cowboy Chance Bellow as she assumes he is an easy mark. Chance the nephilim has waited in the dive for the demon apprentice to arrive so he can show her what she failed to read in the fine print of her deal with Vetis. However, from the first smoldering touch, Chance and Destiny are so hot for each other; hell seems to have frozen over. As they fight for control, they fall in love, but there is no room for such a wasteful mortal emotion in hell.

This is a fast-paced urban fantasy romance starring two enticing paranormal engaged in a holy gender war. Although the ending seems too simplistic for the protagonists' journey, this somewhat tongue in cheek lampooning of capitalist religious dogma will have fans cheering for the rookie demon and the heavenly hybrid to light their respective fire.

Harriet Klausner

Home From The Sea- Mercedes Lackey

Home From The Sea

Mercedes Lackey

Daw, Jun 5 2012, $25.95

ISBN: 9780756407278

In Edwardian England, magic has faded from the minds of most people while psychic powers are thought to be evil. In Clogwyn, Wales, Mari Prothero’s father Daffyd does not blink when going out in storms to fish in his coracle as he always comes home regardless of the fury of the torrent with a boatload filled with the catch.

On her eighteenth birthday, Daffyd tells his daughter that the first Prothero made an arrangement with the clan leader of the Selch (a seal who can turn into a human and vice versa).

A Selch and a Prothero would copulate and give birth to twins and the Selch and one of the twins would return to the sea. Mari is so furious she makes her own deal with the Selch clan leader leader Gethin. He would send some Selch to court her and another to teach her to use her powers as a Master Water Elemental. Master of Masters Lord Alberscroft sent two psychicals Nan and Sarah to help Mari from the enemies who want her dead.

With a nod to the Nordic tale East of the Sun and West of the Moon, the latest Elemental Masters historical fantasy (see Unnatural Issues and Reserved for the Cat) is a thrilling tale due to the brave heroine who will fight for those she cherishes and to keep what is rightfully hers. She possesses the protection of Puck, a Power who used to be worshiped as a god. Nan and Sarah (see Wizard of London) with their respective bonded birds enhance the tale of a world in which magic is becoming a forgotten force.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, April 27, 2012

The Gift of Fire / On the Head of a Pin: Two Short Novels from Crosstown to Oblivion

The Gift of Fire / On the Head of a Pin: Two Short Novels from Crosstown to Oblivion

Walter Mosley

Tor, May 8 2012, $24.99

ISBN: 9780765330086

“The Gift of Fire.” Prometheus escapes from Zeus’ divine punishment for his betrayal with The Gift of Fire to the mortals. Though Prometheus knows he should plead with Pluto or Neptune for asylum, he refuses to cower. Instead he hides as a human in Los Angeles with plans to give the second gift. Cops greet him by beating him. Soon afterward he calls himself Foreman Prospect and meets wino Nosome Blane who agrees to take the big man around the city. After facing a judge, Foreman continues his trek around South Central.

“On the Head of a Pin.” At Jennings-Tremont Enterprises, Joshua Winterland and Ana Fried are developing an animatronics editing technique to create movies that contain the same quality as live filming. Their method will enable the perfect blending of dead superstars with the top talent of today. However, neither is prepared for the final cut on their footage that denotes a new reality.

Somewhat different in tone, these are two superb urban fantasy novellas share in common a focus on mankind’s relatively short and low stature in the universe. This leads to a degree of separation between an African-American wino and a billionaire oil man being insignificant in the expanding realm of the big bang. Intelligent, readers will appreciate this fine two-story collection as Walter Mosley makes it look Easy switching from mystery to fantasy.

Harriet Klausner

The Investigation of Ariel Warning-Robert Kalich

The Investigation of Ariel Warning

Robert Kalich

MacAdam Cage, Apr 19 2012, $24.00

ISBN: 9781596923720

Identical twins Adam and David Remler want to film the former’s novel. They hire Ariel Warning to help them make their movie. Ariel and David begin a romance, but she soon has an affair with Adam while still seeing his sibling. Adam feels guilty about betraying his brother but cannot resist Ariel’s allure; so he attempts to conceal from David his tryst with Ariel.

His esteem shattered and filled with remorse with what he is doing to David behind his back; Adam feels a need to protect the brother who for the first time in their lives he has acted disloyal towards. He investigates Ariel with an inquiry that sends him to America and Asia as each new clue leads to increasing confusion and “warning” to beware.

This engaging amateur sleuth also looks deep at the connection between identical twins. The mystery of Ariel is very alluring though in many ways it is more a self-awareness journey as Adam discovers who he is as a single entity. The twins' aspects start strongly by establishing their personalities, but become a redundant distractor that takes away from the enticing Investigation of Ariel Warning.

Harriet Klausner

The Eye of the World: Book One of 'The Wheel of Time-Robert Jordon

The Eye of the World: Book One of 'The Wheel of Time

Robert Jordon

Tor, May 8 2012, $15.99

ISBN: 9780765334336

The Trollocs unexpectedly attack Emond's Field. While the surprise assault on the village continues unabated, a Myrddraal targets three young men (Rand al’Thir, Matrim Cauthon and Perrin Aybara. The trio assumes they are the true focus of the hostilities so to save the townsfolk from further slaughter they flee. Joining them on their exodus is Egwene al’Vere, Moraine Damordred the Aes Sedai, Warder Al’Lan Mandragoran and Thom Merrilin the Gleeman. Led by the Myrddraal, the Trollocs pursue while Nynaeve al’Meara the Wisdom of Emond's Field join the beleaguered band on the run

The weary travelers reach the evil city of Shadar Logoth where only Mashadar the malevolence lives. Rand, Mat and Thom head to Whitebridge while the Myrddraal closes in on them. The deadly adventures have just begun.

This reprint of the opening act in the epic Wheel of Time holds up nicely due to the tremendous creating of the Jordan mythos. Magic is deftly introduced as elemental but left somewhat shadowy with a fabulous twist on yin and yang theory tainted by the end of the last age leading to a matriarchal society, which becomes clearer in later entries. The cast is solid with women as the stronger gender flaunting their superiority. Although there is a ton of books that followed, many not as powerful as book one, The Eye of the World is a wonderful epic fantasy.

Harriet Klausner

Into the Dreaming-Karen Marie Moning

Into the Dreaming

Karen Marie Moning

Delacorte, Apr 24 2012, $20.00

ISBN: 9780345535221

"Into the Dreaming." In Indiana, Jane Sillee dreams of the Highlander and now owns a medieval tapestry that she has no idea who or why it was sent to her. She looks deeply at it when suddenly she is transported back to 928 Scotland where she meets her Highlander, Aedon MacKinnon. She has to break the evil spell that engulfs the man she has loved since she first dreamed of him.

“Dark Highlander Lite.” Druid mage Daegus MacKeltar used his powers to travel back in time to save the life of his twin brother Drustan (see TO KISS A HIGHLANDER). However, Daegus pays a high price for his good deed as he released the spirits of evil Druids that share residency with him in his body. Medieval expert Chloe Zanders delivers a five century old reprint of the third book of Mannannan to Daegus, who recognizes his soul mate.

Part of the Tapestry anthology, Into The Dreaming is an engaging standalone novella with wonderful lead characters. Dark Highlander Lite contains the first seven chapters of the first “draft”; I would have preferred the entire first cut to compare with the published novel. The rest of the collection feels more like filler material as it includes interesting entries like a deleted scene from Kiss of the Highlander, a proposal for never published Ghost of a Chance, Chapter 1 of Darkfever and scenes from upcoming graphic novel of Fever Moon. Die-hard fans of Karen Marie Moning will enjoy this collection.

Harriet Klausner

Blue Remembered Earth-Alastair Reynolds

Blue Remembered Earth

Alastair Reynolds

Ace, Jun 5 2012, $26.95

ISBN: 9780441020713

In the latter half of the twenty-second century, Africa is the world’s superpower. For the most part, after barely surviving the Anthropocene climatic change disaster, national hostilities, violent crime and poverty no longer exist as a death from disease or a murder in an outpost in Europe or Australia become featured on the Nairobi news.

In this pristine realm, Geoffrey Akinya relishes his field studies of the elephants of the Amboseli basin. However, his pleasure is disrupted, but not by the death of his space exploring grandma Eunice who was the matriarchal cornerstone of the powerful Akinya business empire. Instead, soon after Eunice’s ashes are scattered on Mt. Kilimanjaro, he is blackmailed into looking at a potentially embarrassing incident on the moon where like elsewhere in the solar system colonization is growing by those who prefer not to reside inside of Earth's Surveyed Zones. He and his sister Sunday’s mission are to insure no scandal erupts, but what they learn about a secret of their grandma shakes their core while this twin cousins Hector and Lucas take a different approach.

This is an exciting futuristic science fiction tale in which the world building is phenomenal though only surfaces when an aberration occurs like a Caucasian or not speaking Swahili although a key element the Mechanism monitoring humans seems to Big Brother intrusive (and too selective). Sunday is the more aggressive of the siblings as they investigate a moon incident that damns their family if surfaced and may destroy their world.

Harriet Klausner

The Reckoning-Alma Katsu

The Reckoning

Alma Katsu

Gallery, Jun 19 2012, $25.00

ISBN 9781451651805

In 1817 immortal alchemist Count Adair saved the life of Lanore McIlvrae when he gave her an immortality potion but at the cost of her becoming his mistress. However, when her savior went after her true love Jonathan, she imprisoned him in a secret tomb in Boston (see The Taker). Now he is free though confused by contemporary Boston.

Still the Count knows achieving his objective is all that matters. He will break his betraying former lover who plans to own her for eternity. As he searches for his lost treasures and amasses a fortune, he knows the way to get to Lanore is through her mortal lover Luke Findley.

The second Taker paranormal thriller continues the adventures of Lanore and the three males in her life. The key players seem fully developed and remain in character from the first Taker tale. Fast-paced throughout, Lanore seeks redemption while the Count seeks possession. Although an obvious middle book as it sets the table for the climax, fans will enjoy this supernatural drama as the heart beat between love and obsession is very faint.

Harriet Klausner

The Hot Gate-John Ringo

The Hot Gate

John Ringo

Baen, Apr 24 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9781451638189

In the outer Solar System, the orbital gates appear as a trading boom for mankind and the Grtul, but the Horvath arrive in warships conquering Terra (see (see Live Free or Die). As humanity quickly teetered on the brink of extinction, tycoon Tyler Vernon converted the large asteroid Troy into a tremendous battle station that along with the Solar Array Pumped Laser humans was used to drive away the invaders from the Sol System. However, an even more dangerous threat entered the system as the reptilian Rangora began a deadly serpentine blitzkrieg (see Citadel).

Though earthlings have battled back, the threat remains ominous. To survive and thrive they must go where no one has dared ventured before: into the heart of the Rangora horde. Tyler Vernon and his unit aboard Troy begin the suicidal counter assault.

The latest Troy Rising storyline starts slow with a deep but irrelevant look into relationships in various cultures before finally turning back into the war of the solar systems. When the plot returns to its military science fiction theme, the tale goes into hyperspeed as readers anticipate the deadly confrontation that affirms Stalin’s commentary: "When one man dies it is a tragedy, when thousands die it's statistics.”

Harriet Klausner

The Gift of Fire / On the Head of a Pin: Two Short Novels from Crosstown to Oblivion-

The Gift of Fire / On the Head of a Pin: Two Short Novels from Crosstown to Oblivion


Tor, May 8 2012, $24.99

ISBN: 9780765330086

“The Gift of Fire.” Prometheus escapes from Zeus’ divine punishment for his betrayal with The Gift of Fire to the mortals. Though Prometheus knows he should plead with Pluto or Neptune for asylum, he refuses to cower. Instead he hides as a human in Los Angeles with plans to give the second gift. Cops greet him by beating him. Soon afterward he calls himself Foreman Prospect and meets wino Nosome Blane who agrees to take the big man around the city. After facing a judge, Foreman continues his trek around South Central.

“On the Head of a Pin.” At Jennings-Tremont Enterprises, Joshua Winterland and Ana Fried are developing an animatronics editing technique to create movies that contain the same quality as live filming. Their method will enable the perfect blending of dead superstars with the top talent of today. However, neither is prepared for the final cut on their footage that denotes a new reality.

Somewhat different in tone, these are two superb urban fantasy novellas share in common a focus on mankind’s relatively short and low stature in the universe. This leads to a degree of separation between an African-American wino and a billionaire oil man being insignificant in the expanding realm of the big bang. Intelligent, readers will appreciate this fine two-story collection as Walter Mosley makes it look Easy switching from mystery to fantasy.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, April 26, 2012

My Cross to Bear- Gregg Allman with Alan Light

My Cross to Bear

Gregg Allman with Alan Light

Morrow, May 1 2012, $27.99

ISBN: 9780062112033

In 1971, guitarist Duane Allman died in a motorcycle accident, on the first anniversary of his death, the Allman Brothers Band bassist Berry Oakley also died in a biking tragedy. These two deaths set the tone behind Gregg Allman’s profound memoir. Mr. Allman discusses his childhood growing up in Florida with Duane and a widowed mom; that first loving guitar; his addictions for sex and drugs; his kidney transplant; the ABB (with Dickey Betts, Butch Trucks and Jai Johanny Johanson) Southern rock; and across the decades his love for music. Somewhat meandering, the scandalous behavior is titillating fun. However, the siblings’ relationship and the life and times of the ABB in the late 1960s that haunt this winner especially the climatic death of Duane as the author portrays his feelings of survivor guilt. Photos enhance this quality biography as Mr. Allman apparently hides nothing while he proves to be more than just a Ramblin’ Man as he lays out his life, regrets and all.

Harriet Klausner

Two Crosses-Elizabeth Musser

Two Crosses

Elizabeth Musser

David C. Cook, Jun 1 2012, $14.99

ISBN: 9780781405003

In 1961, twenty-one year old Gabriella Madison arrives in Castelnau, France as part of the Franco-American exchange program at the Church of Saint Joseph. Director Mother Griolet welcomes the forty-two young women.

After Mother Griolet dismisses the students, Gabriella and her housemate Stephanie rush over to their first class “Visions of Man, Past and Present” conducted in English and French by M. David Hoffmann. The young ladies tryto act mature with him as each assumed she is the perfect debutante for him which amuses the professor. However, he is stunned by his attraction to the red haired pupil wearing the Huguenot Cross as this Gabriella reminds him of a Raphaelite angel who shocks him that she knows Alexander Pope’s “Essay on Man.” Gabriella is attracted to her literature professor but after offering to help at the orphanage she meets the little children, mostly victims of the Algerian war for independence. She finds herself challenging her Christian beliefs.

The reprint of the first Secrets of the Cross historical Christian thriller is a great opener starring a young woman who begins to question her faith as she learns more about the war and herself. A coming of age tale, readers will relish Gabriella’s growth as a woman who cares. With a warm regard to various religions, Elizabeth Musser provides a timely story of faith in the home front during the time of a violent war.

Harriet Klausner

Damage Control-John Gilstrap

Damage Control

John Gilstrap

Pinnacle, Jun 5 2012, $9.99

ISBN: 9780786024933

The Crystal Palace Cathedral Reverend Jackie Mitchell hires Security Solutions to rescue church members held hostage in Mexico. Operatives Big Guy (Brian Van de Meulebroeke) and Scorpion (John Grave) head to the drop point in the Mexican jungle to exchange three million dollars for the safe return of the teen and adult hostages. However, as the bus arrives containing the church prisoners, the two Americans with the electronic help of Mother Hen back in Fisherman Cove’s Virginia notice another group nearby. All hell breaks out leaving everyone dead outside the bus except Bug Guy and Scorpion; inside only seventeen years old Tristan Wagner survives.

The two men and the teen begin a harrowing trek with an angry enemy waiting for them at several points. In Virginia, Venice (Mother Hen), Gail and Father Dom gather information as to who set up their field agents leading to the massacre of the church missionaries. The evidence points to a highly placed CIA operative, a powerful Mexican drug cartel chief and the Crystal Palace Cathedral. Grave knows his thirst for revenge will wait until he and Boxer safely delivers the only surviving “Precious Cargo” to his family.

The latest Jonathan Grave thriller (see Hostage Zero and No Mercy) is an incredible action-packed tale that grips the audience from start to finish. Fast-paced throughout, fans will enjoy this tale as someone has murdered innocent civilians to set a trap for his or her real target.

Harriet Klausner

Spellcrossed-Barbara Ashford


Barbara Ashford

Daw, Jun 5 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780756407292

In Vermont, after she freed Rowan Mackenzie from the earthbound curse and enabled him to return to Faerie, former actress Maggie Graham replaced him as director of the non-profit Crossroards Theatre. The summer stock season has been difficult on her because of the cast. The professionals are an obnoxious group scornful of Maggie and nasty towards the bewildered amateurs while the children seem like an out of control army.

She considers using the magic she found at the converted old barn, but knows her first mission is selling tickets to get her boss out of her theater. However, ignoring the magic proves an unviable option as she finds herself drawn into a past personal mystery that needs resolution before the first curtain call.

The second Graham Vermont fantasy (see Spellcast) is an engaging whimsical witty tale due to Maggie who casts a spell on readers. The charming storyline is fast-paced while the musical numbers bring the freshness from the previous entry as the heroine is the sideline general rather than the on stage participant. Barbara Ashford provides a magical tale that readers will enjoy..

Harriet Klausner

Live And Let Drood-Simon R. Green

Live And Let Drood

Simon R. Green

Roc, Jun 5 2012, $25.95

ISBN: 9780451464521

Eddie "Shaman Bond" Drood muses that he saved the world and went on vacation in the South of France with his beloved Molly Metcalf the witch only to come home to find Drood Hall a burned ruin. Since there is no whisper of smoke the incident occurred a few days ago. Finally as he thinks he no longer has that rooftop he has escaped to many times over the years, he wonders what happened to his family who seemingly are all dead and why no one notified him?

Eddie knows he must honor his Shamon Bond as the last Drood standing to make the vile Crow Lee pay for this assault. The only problem Eddie has is that his Drood armour is no more, which means a frontal suicidal attack against Mr. Evil is doomed to failure. As he and Molly begin to find enigmatic clues that imply Drood Hall is intact and his family lives, Eddie asks the Regent of Shadows for help knowing the powerful essence will enact an exorbitant price.

The latest Secret Histories urban fantasy (see For Heaven’s Eyes Only and From Hell with Love) is a fresh thriller as Drood realizes he is stripped of his weapons and armour while facing malevolence. Thus he learns to err is Drood; to forgive is death as Eddie and Molly work a twisting vendetta that turns into something more complex and lethal.

Harriet Klausner

Blood Kin-M.J. Scott

Blood Kin

M.J. Scott

Roc, Jun 5 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 978-0451464583

Half-fae Holly leaves a room charmed before going to a nearby roof to see what happens. The weather is unusually cold and damp so she is freezing at her surveillance spot. She watches as Henri Favreau of the Favreau pack and Blood Lord Ignatius Grey meet in the charmed room. Holly knows her employer will pay big for the knowledge that this meeting occurred, but as she leaves someone on a horse saw through her invisibility charm and shouts at her. She slips off the four story roof to certain death except that Templar knight Guy DuCaine catches her. Holy tells him a lie as to why she was on the roof.

Her father orders Holly to spy on Guy’s brother Simon the healer (see Shadow Kin). Guy catches her again when his secret investigation collides with her espionage. They agree to team up undercover as a fallen knight is in love with a hybrid. Neither is prepared for fiction to become reality.

The second Half-Light City political romantic fantasy is an exciting thriller as various factions manipulate the shaky treaty that peacefully governs the city. Fast-paced and well written, the storyline feels like déjà vu as the lead couple is identical to the protagonists of Shadow Kin with Guy being a dedicated Templar like Simon and Holly a half fae forced to do the villain’s bidding like Lily.

Harriet Klausner

The Mongoliad-Neal Stephenson, Greg Bear, Mark Teppo, E.D. deBirmingham, Erik Bear, Joseph Brassey, and Cooper Moo

The Mongoliad

Neal Stephenson, Greg Bear, Mark Teppo, E.D. deBirmingham, Erik Bear, Joseph Brassey, and Cooper Moo

47North, Apr 24 2012, $14.95

ISBN: 9781612182360

By 1241, the feral Mongol Horde led by Onghwe the dissolute Khan of Khans defeated the armies of Christendom at Legnica. The third son of the Great Genghis has built a city here as he plans to use this locale as a springboard to continue his western conquest.

Reeling from the slaughter at Legnica only three months ago, a band of warriors and mystics led by elderly Feronantus of the Skjaldbraedur shield-brethren begin a desperate trek to end the bloody invasion. They need to learn why superpowers war with each other for top dog at the cost of the innocents. Evidence point to powerful secret societies shaping the world in their image. Some of the warriors prefer assassinating the Khan of Khans, which wise Feronantus knows is a short term fix of a millennium problem. Cnan the messenger using the name Vaetha enters their camp, which has all of them mystified by her except Feronantus who welcomes her as he knows she is the first sign if he can gain her trust. She tells him Illarion lives minus his right ear and he sent her to him to rescue Illarion as Feronantus needs his information.

The first book of The Foreworld Saga is a terrific alternate history thriller starring a brave band of warriors on a mission behind enemy lines. Filled with gory action from the start (the killing of captives is vividly haunting) and never slowing down, it is the full blooded cast that makes for a strong opening act.

Harriet Klausner

The Mongoliad-Neal Stephenson, Greg Bear, Mark Teppo, E.D. deBirmingham, Erik Bear, Joseph Brassey, and Cooper Moo

The Mongoliad

Neal Stephenson, Greg Bear, Mark Teppo, E.D. deBirmingham, Erik Bear, Joseph Brassey, and Cooper Moo

47North, on saleApr 24 2012, $14.95

ISBN: 9781612182360

By 1241, the feral Mongol Horde led by Onghwe the dissolute Khan of Khans defeated the armies of Christendom at Legnica. The third son of the Great Genghis has built a city here as he plans to use this locale as a springboard to continue his western conquest.

Reeling from the slaughter at Legnica only three months ago, a band of warriors and mystics led by elderly Feronantus of the Skjaldbraedur shield-brethren begin a desperate trek to end the bloody invasion. They need to learn why superpowers war with each other for top dog at the cost of the innocents. Evidence point to powerful secret societies shaping the world in their image. Some of the warriors prefer assassinating the Khan of Khans, which wise Feronantus knows is a short term fix of a millennium problem. Cnan the messenger using the name Vaetha enters their camp, which has all of them mystified by her except Feronantus who welcomes her as he knows she is the first sign if he can gain her trust. She tells him Illarion lives minus his right ear and he sent her to him to rescue Illarion as Feronantus needs his information.

The first book of The Foreworld Saga is a terrific alternate history thriller starring a brave band of warriors on a mission behind enemy lines. Filled with gory action from the start (the killing of captives is vividly haunting) and never slowing down, it is the full blooded cast that makes for a strong opening act.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Safe Within-Jean Reynolds Page

Safe Within

Jean Reynolds Page

Morrow, Jun 12 2012, $14.99

ISBN: 9780061876943

Professor Carson Forsyth is dying from pancreatic cancer. He asks his wife of thirty years Elaine to take him back to her childhood home, a tree house overlooking Lake Riley, North Carolina. She would do anything for him so they leave Chapel Hill. Their twenty something son Mick comes down from Rhode Island to spend time with his dad and to be there for his mom.

Carson’s septuagenarian mom Greta hates her daughter-in-law whom she believes had an affair with Wallace Jamison, the son of her enemy. Greta refuses to recognize Mick as her grandson as she thinks he is Wallace’s child. When Carson dies, Greta refuses to sit with her family at the church or stand near them at the cemetery. Meanwhile Mick learns something from his teen years that shakes the dysfunctional family further while that also fosters his need to know why his grandma rejects him as she has since his birth.

This is an intriguing character study that uses short flashbacks (especially by an accepting Carson) to tell the backstory. The ensemble cast is fully developed but the insightful storyline belongs to the mother who holds a grudge that began before she met Elaine, the dying son’s only wish being reconciliation between his two beloved females for the sake of his son; and the wife who wants to continue distancing herself from her mother-in-law. Though keeping the secret of what happened between Wallace and Elaine seems like an exorbitant loyalty price in which the innocent pay the costs, with some metaphysical elements enhancing the plot, readers will relish this entertaining look at the impact of dying and death on the loved ones.

Harriet Klausner

Hannah’s Joy-Marta Perry

Hannah’s Joy

Marta Perry

Berkley, May 1 2012, $14.00

ISBN: 9780425246948

Following the death of her husband Travis while on a military tour in Afghanistan Hannah Conroy and her twenty-month old son Jamie move to Pleasant Valley, Pennsylvania to live with her Aunt Paula Schatz. Hannah lived in Pleasant Valley as a child until her parents left their Mennonite faith. She works in her aunt’s bakery while wondering if staying here is good for her and her son.

When Hannah and woodworker William Brand meet, they share a sense of camaraderie as both feels like outsiders; she because of her years spent in the Englisher world and he due to a stutter. Hannah wants to help him with his speech impediment though she never completed her speech therapy program. William’s family opposes any relationship, even as a speech teacher, between them; while Travis’ father retired officer Robert threatens a custody suit if she fails to leave a community that does not support the military.

The latest Pleasant Valley (see Katie’s Way and Anna’s Return) is an enjoyable Mennonite romance starring two fascinating individuals. Each feels they do not belong in the community as Marta Perry provides a strong case that one can feel alone even within a welcoming loving family. Both are poster children of Maslow’s Hierarchy’s third step (each recognizes their physiological and safety needs are covered); as Hannah and William feel a lack of belonging. Though setting the key cast members takes a bit longer than usual, fans will enjoy this warm tale of love and belonging.

Harriet Klausner

A Place in the Country-Elizabeth Adler.

A Place in the Country

Elizabeth Adler.

St. Martin’s, Jun 19 2012, $25.99

ISBN 9780312668365

Following her divorce from her philandering husband, late thirty-something Caroline Evans, accompanied by her fifteen year old daughter Issy, leave cheating James in Singapore and move to Upper Amberley in Great Britain’s the Cotswold’s. Though broke, she finds the townsfolk warmly welcome mother and daughter as Carline obtains a job as a cook at a pub while Issy enters a prep school.

Issy resents her mother for ending their affluent lifestyle and taking her away from her beloved father. As Caroline begins to plan on converting a barn into a restaurant, James arrives but quickly vanishes. While Issy makes poor dangerous decisions, a homicide in Singapore threatens Caroline’s new sense of well-being.

This is an exciting family drama as the two Evans’ females try to find their groove halfway around the world but Asia comes to England anyway. The storyline takes a close look at accountability and responsibility inside of a taut romantic suspense thriller starring a mother learning how strong she really is and her confused teenage daughter.

Harriet Klausner

The Next Target-Nikki Arana

The Next Target

Nikki Arana

David C. Cook, Jun 1 2012, $14.99

ISBN 9780781404310

Her Uncle condemns Sabirah for disgracing their Muslim family when she embraced Jesus. He kills her while planning to find the identity of the Christian who corrupted his niece because that infidel must die too.

Widow ESL teacher Austia mourns the murder of her friend and student Sabirah. She hires Zaki as a translator as she teaches Muslim immigrants to speak English while also trying to reach out to help Muslim females assimilate. However, Austia fears she made a mistake when she employed Zaki as she believes he has ties to a Muslim terrorist cell that wants her dead as an infidel leading Muslims away from the true religion. Zaki is an undercover FBI agent trying to penetrate the terrorists in order to destroy them from within. He fears for his caring employer and wants to keep her safe, but cannot jeopardize his mission as intervening would do; while her and the women she helps become targets from Muslim fundamentalists.

This is a fabulous Christian romantic suspense that grips readers because Nikki Arana insures the followers of Christianity, Islam and Judaism are treated with tolerance and respect regardless of which religion a person follows. Using her experiences from her real-life ministry A Voice for the Persecuted Ms. Arana provides a strong storyline that is action-packed from the moment her family kills Sabirah IAW Sharia law and never slows down until a final confrontation. The heroine is The Next Target while the agent falling in love with her feels torn between government duty and his heart and soul.

Harriet Klausner

The Demands-Mark Billingham

The Demands

Mark Billingham

Mulholland/Little Brown, Jun 12 2012, $24.99

ISBN: 9780316126632

Several months ago, Amin Akhtar tuned himself in to Detective Inspector Tom Thorne for having killed a boy in what he claimed was self-defense. Shockingly, Amin received an eight-year sentence. In a detention facility, someone attacked and injured Amin. He went to the hospital and soon afterward authorities inform the lad’s father convenience store owner Mr. Akhtar that his son died a few months ago from an overdose of drugs.

Despondent Mr. Akhtar believes his beloved Amin was murdered or died from negligence. Already irate over the unfair sentencing, he fails to persuade anyone to probe what really happened to his child. Mother of a one year old, Detective Helen Weeks enters the store to pick up her daily candy bar. Mr. Akhtar holds her and another patron hostage. His demand is that Thorne investigate what happened to Amin.

The latest Detective Inspector Tom Thorne police procedural (see Death Message and Bloodline) is a great thriller, which takes place over three harrowing days. Thorne’s investigation is top rate as reverse engineers the known facts to determine why Amin was at the original crime scene so as to better understand that motive and seek links to his death, if any. The convenience store scene is a fabulous psychological counterpoint to Thorne’s inquiry. Readers will realize how little parents truly know or perhaps choose not to acknowledge about their offspring as Thorne methodically works the case while time is running out on the hostages.

Harriet Klausner

Niceville-Carson Stroud


Carson Stroud

Knopf, Jun 12 2012, $26.95

ISBN: 9780307700957

In Niceville, a security camera catches the sudden disappearance seemingly into thin air of Rainey Teague on Main Street. Not long after that a bank robbery turns ugly with four cops killed and a TV helicopter shot down by a sniper. A pedophile and a SWAT team are on the verge of a violent encounter. More people abruptly vanish as other unexplained incidents occur too.

As the townsfolk reel from the tragic events, police officer Nick Kavanaugh investigates while his wife Kate the lawyer tries to help him understand the apparently inexplicable. Thirty-six hours since Rainey disappeared leaving a town in crisis; Nick finds clues that lead to something he cannot rationally accept in nearby Crater Sink.

This is a convoluted but exciting horror police procedural thriller that never quite gels on a prime plot between the vanishings and the bloody bank robbery. This leads to way to many characters for the Kavanaugh couple and the audience to cope with. Still fans will enjoy a trip to Niceville with a need to know who or what is snatching people off the streets and in homes and stores as safety is nowhere in the town. The storyline is at its best when the abductions take center stage over the bank robbery.

Harriet Klausner

Extremis-Steve White and Charles E. Gannon


Steve White and Charles E. Gannon

Baen, Apr 24 2012, $7.99

ISBN-13: 9781451638141

The telepathic Arduans fled their galaxy as their sun went nova. They traveled for centuries until they reached their destination Bellerophon. However, they are unhappy to find a sentient race recently colonized the planet. Still after what they have been through to reach their new home, the Arduans believing they are supreme as the only sentient race see the humans as a minor irritant.

Adding to their manifest destiny belief is the feebleness of human existence. Whereas the humans live one short life as telepathic mutes, Arduans live numerous lives while recalling each. The warrior caste wants to cleanse the orb and the rest of the galaxy using stolen technology from humans and their allies (Orions, Ophiuchi and Gorm) of these nothing species while Ankaht the scientist-philosopher tries to find a peaceful solution to benefit both species as well the indigenous population.

The latest entry (co-authored by Charles E. Gannon) in Steve White's Starfire saga collaborating with David Weber (see The Stars at War) and Shirley Meier (see Exodus) is a terrific military science fiction that is at its best during the non-combat scenes. The battles are entertaining, but it is the philosophical debate on belief systems, species profiling and ethics especially from the alien perspective that make for a powerful timely thriller with applications in our society.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

My Fair Concubine-Jeannie Lin

My Fair Concubine

Jeannie Lin

Harlequin, May 22 2012, $6.25

ISBN: 9780373296941

In 824 Changan, China, Fei Long came home when his Ministry of Works father died. He had ignored his sister Pearl’s plea to help her avoid a heqin bridal alliance to a powerful barbarian lord in Khitan as decreed by the Emperor. Stunned Fei Long believes his father’s spirit is restless because Pearl has run away with her beloved Zheng Xie Han. A desperate Fei Long selects recently fired from the teahouse Yan Ling as a perfect substitute for his sibling though his choice is an orphan ignorant about behaving like lady.

Enlisting his friends, Fei Long tries to teach his recruit to act like a noble instead of an outspoken opinionated street urchin. Inspector Tong feels Fei Long is pulling off a ruse, but shockingly the substitute hequin behaves like a lady. However, as Fei Long works his miracle to prepare her to “the other side of heaven”, he falls in love with his student while Yan Ling falls in love with her mentor.

This is a great My Fair Lady in a vividly drawn ninth century Tang Dynasty setting. The lead couple is a fabulous pairing of two intellects in a teacher-pupil relationship that is actually a delightful gender war. Fans will agree this is the year of Lin.

Harriet Klausner

Shades of Desire-Virna DePaul

Shades of Desire

Virna DePaul

Harlequin HQN, May 22 2012, $7.99

ISBN 9780373776351

The serial killer has only failed to complete the murder once. Photojournalist Natalie Jones escaped, but pays the price from her harrowing assault as she has become a legally blind agoraphobic. Natalie never leaves her home as her beloved vocation is a thing of the past.

California Department of Justice Special Agent Liam McKenzie investigates the Jones attack. He is upset with himself when he unprofessionally wants the victim, who feels the same way about their undesirable attraction. Liam persuades a reluctant acrimonious Natalie to help him catch the predator; neither is aware that her photos she has taken already contain the clues needed to identify and put away this deadly psychopath.

This is an engaging romantic suspense starring two individuals who know love is unwanted at this time as each has major issues to deal with. The over the top storyline is still fun to follow though the jaded cast takes away from the unique romance between a cop and a victim who team up to hunt a deadly hunter who, in turn, stalks them.

Harriet Klausner

The Enemy’s Kiss-Zandria Munson

The Enemy’s Kiss

Zandria Munson

Harlequin Nocturne, May 22 2012, $5.50

ISBN: 9780373885862

New York auction gallery owner Nicholas Drakon is elated that he no longer turned into a gargoyle at daybreak every day; as his Romanian clan’s centuries-old curse was lifted (see Heiress To A Curse for his brother Marius’ tale). Master cat burglar Daniela Ferreira knows of the successful siblings as she plans to rob an amulet from them for a client. However, she is unaware that this relic and a companion piece will bring back the curse on the Drakon family.

Nicholas vows to regain the priceless artifact while Daniela’s client abducts her younger sister to insure she cooperates and steals the second amulet. When the thief and the once cursed man meet, each is stunned by the attraction. As he reluctantly teams up with her to rescue Elaina, Nicholas fears he will soon have to choose between his family and his heart.

The second Drakon romantic urban fantasy is a superb suspense thriller. The lead couple is a dynamic pairing as neither can afford love at this time with family members from both sides in potential peril depending upon what they do. Fast-paced from the moment the heroine conducts surveillance of the auction gallery and never slowing down, readers will relish this terrific tense thriller with a fabulous climatic twist.

Harriet Klausner

Guardian of the Night-Linda Thomas-Sundstrom

Guardian of the Night

Linda Thomas-Sundstrom

Harlequin Nocturne, May 22 2012, $5.50

ISBN: 9780373885855

A Blood Knights Guardian created centuries ago to protect the purity of vampires in order to keep humans safe from his species; Mason LanVal has remained faithful to his pledge. Miami surgeon Dr. Faith James arrives in France seeking her missing sister Hope. To do so she must find Mason who has no phone. However, she foolishly falls into a vampire trap. Mason rescues her but not before she is injured.

She asks Mason for help, but is confused with what she has learned so far especially her being a no longer dormant trueborn Lycan thanks to his kiss of blood and Hope is an innate werewolf hunter adopted by their parents. For the first time in his centuries of existence, Mason struggles with his pledge of remaining a pureblood as he wants his worst taboo.

The latest Vampire Moons romantic urban fantasy (see Golden Vampire) is a thrilling entry from the moment Faith arrives in South France and never slows down until the final confrontation. Readers will relish this well written thriller due to a wonderful Midi location and a s strong cast as the werewolf and the vampire commit seemingly the worst sin possible by falling in love.

Harriet Klausner

The Frenzy War-Gregory Lamberson

The Frenzy War

Gregory Lamberson

Medallion, Jun 1 2012, $14.95

ISBN 9781605424538

NYPD Captain Tony Mace risked his life before finally killing psychopathic werewolf Janus Farel, who terrorized the city (see The Frenzy Way). His award from his superiors for ending this brutal predator’s serial killing spree is he kept his rank, but for the two years since Tony has worked in the office in support of the K-9 unit.

The Vatican sends it top secret, highly trained and armed Brotherhood of Torquemada unit to New York with the objective to eradicate these wicked werewolves as the only good shifter is a dead shifter. These elite Christian warriors attack the werewolf population in the name of God. They abduct teenage Lycan Rhonda Wilson and assassinate several werewolves using silver bullets and the Blade of Salvation. Pack alpha Gabriel Domini has lost his hold as his pack wants to rip the throats of their stalkers. Take out of mothballs as the NYPD werewolf expert, Mace and a select law enforcement teal hunt the hunters to end the Torquemada terrorism while continuing to hide the existence of werewolves from the public while his wife Cheryl the reporter believes the people have a right to know.

This is an exhilarating gory police procedural urban fantasy as the death scenes are not for those with a queasy stomach, but enhance the overall war is hell theme. The action on the mean streets of the Big Apple grips readers, but also never allows any of the characters including the hero to be fully developed. In spite of the emaciated cast, readers will enjoy this bloody entertaining thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Hard Magic-Larry Correia

Hard Magic

Larry Correia

Baen, Apr 24 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9781451638240

A few decades after magic entered the world, Charles Darwin claimed this ability as proof of his general law that the strong survive and the weak die as he believes traditional mankind will become extinct. Two opposing groups have surfaced vying to control magic. The idealistic Grimnoir Society believes magic should be used as a force for good for the planet while the realistic Japanese Imperium know practitioners are the top of the food chain.

Both are fighting over control of Nikolas Tesla’s last known invention. Caught in the middle is private investigator Jake Sullivan. One side magically recruits him giving him an option of joining or joining; while the other side actively wants to kill him giving him an option of death or death. A veteran of the trenches, kick butt Jake always leads with his chin, having spent time for magical manslaughter. Being an Active Magical his skill is changing the mass of an object to make it much lighter or heavier and has used it against those trying to kill him.

The first Grimnoir Chronicles is an exciting historical hard boiled fantasy as the Magicals are like Wall St. bankers who use their skill with too big to fail immunity unless another practitioner destroys them. The storyline is action-packed especially when the hero gets into one of his zillion brawls. Although the good and evil war over magical deployment is well written and entertaining, it is the little alternative historical tidbits that pull the reader from the plot; for instance Hitler’s suicide in 1929 had this reviewer wondering what happened to Germany and WWII. Mindful of the movie Cast A Deadly Spell, this is an intriguing opening act.

Harriet Klausner

The Devil Delivered and Other Tales-Steven Erickson

The Devil Delivered and Other Tales

Steven Erickson

Tor, Jun 19 2012, $14.99

ISBN: 9780765330031

The Devil Delivered. The hole in the ozone layer has grown so immense that it is equivalent to a third of the once proud United States. Dead zones are everywhere and the oceans are a graveyard. The earth is dying with only the time for the wake and burial remaining. William the anthologist explores the land of the Lakota Nation. Jack Tree informs him that the Lakota has shut their borders to the outside. On the net, people around the globe watch the lone anthropologist as he roams these dead lands at a time when nature changes the rules against a species that has brought hell on earth.

Revolvo. In Canada, bureaucrats and technocrats control the arts by controlling the grant money or the award winners. They choose who will be funded, which means they tell who will eat, which in turn determines what is created as the money holders must be satisfied not the artist’s muse or the public. Thus patrons, bureaucrats and technocrats converge on artists who talk about fighting back, but know they won’t if they want funding.

Fishin’ with Grandma Matchie. His Grandma Matchie calls her nine year old grandson Tike while everyone knows him as Jock Junior. He is spending three weeks at a cabin in Canada where he learns his Grandma Matchie is feuding with the "One Armed Trapper", his mother "Lunker", and Satan. Grandma and grandson travel on and under the lakes as they go on a series of adventures.

These are three strange but well written novellas that satirize the real world. Not for everyone, fans who enjoy something different will appreciate these three whimsical cautionary tales.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, April 23, 2012

An Unquenchable Thirst: Following Mother Teresa in Search of Love, Service, and an Authentic Life

An Unquenchable Thirst: Following Mother Teresa in Search of Love, Service, and an Authentic Life

Mary Johnson

Spiegel & Grau, Sept 13 2011, $27.00

ISBN: 9780385527477

At nineteen, Mary Johnson aspired to become a Missionary of Charity in Rome as she felt her purpose in life was to help the poorest on the planet. She became Sister Donata and spent the next two decades working closely with Mother Teresa in the latter’s order. However, Sister Donata struggled with adjusting to the rigid rules and even more the impossible to achieve religious code that Mother expected of her followers. After twenty years of “failing”, disenchanted Sister Donata left the Missionary and soon after her faith.

This is stunning insightful memoir that follows a journey into and away from the spiritual realm and also provides a rare look inside the Missionary of Charity especially Mary Johnson’s work as Sister Donata alongside of Mother. Although a tryst with a priest and dealing with a sexual predator and bullying nuns add fascinating scandalous depth, it is the impact of everyday occurrences that make this a winner as second order effects of kindness can prove deadly to the recipient; no one will look at an egg in the same way. The glimpses of Mother make her seem even more saintly as she comes across as human with problems of balancing her need to tend to the impoverished with her Order’s needs. Readers will appreciate An Unquenchable Thirst: Following Mother Teresa in Search of Love, Service, and an Authentic Life as Mary Johnson argues that for her and she believes most people “having an authentic life” denotes not joining the church.

Harriet Klausner

The Understory-Elizabeth Leiknes

The Understory

Elizabeth Leiknes

Bancroft, Jun 1 2012, $21.99

ISBN: 9781610880497

Twenty-nine years old Story Easton knows she is a total failure who recently has had a compulsion to break into homes at night in order to pretend to be someone else rather than her unremarkable life. She sleeps in their beds before sneaking out early in the morning.

Story enters the home of Martin Baxter, an author and botanist. She realizes he is very sad as his wife Katherine and their daughter Hope are dead. He once wrote “Once Upon a Moonflower” in which Hope was the narrator and star.

The next night Story enters the home of eight year old Cooper Payne and his therapist mom Claire who grieve the loss of his dad, her husband. Each night Claire reads “Once Upon a Moonflower” to her son while he holds a wooden umbrella. Story realizes there are people worse off than she is as Cooper considers ending it if he does not see the Amazon rainforest where the moonflower can be found by the time he turns nine. Story leaves later than usual but runs into Hans Turner, repairing the Payne door; he kisses her. Encouraged by an Ouija board, Story decides to help Cooper with his dream of visiting the enchanted land that Hope told. She starts her quest by contacting the author.

This is a fabulous whimsical tale starring an intriguing individual trying to succeed at something she believes is worthwhile, saving the life of a grieving child; for the first time in a long time, Story knows failure is unacceptable. The entertaining storyline is filled with irony, humor, pathos and a major coincidence that foster the concept that there are no degrees of separation as everyone is linked to everyone in some manner.

Harriet Klausner

The Newlyweds-Nell Freudenberger

The Newlyweds

Nell Freudenberger

Knopf, May 1 2012, $25.95

ISBN: 9780307268846

Twenty-something Amina Mazid (from Bangladesh) and thirtyish George Stillman (of Upstate New York) meet on She wants to escape the prison of her family while he wants a woman who does not play emotional games; they agree to marry. Amina comes to snowy Rochester in 2005 and struggles to adapt to her new home. They marry; she obtains a green card and attends college classes while also working at a nearby Starbucks. She finds an understanding friend in his cousin Kim.

However her three years with George are not perfect as their sex is unsatisfying, George becomes an unemployed engineer and she is upset that they still have not had that Muslim marriage he promised her. When she learns a dark secret that he hid from her, George agrees for Amina to go home to bring her parents to the states, but her father’s visa application is delayed. While she waits for approval, Amina finds herself back in the family melodrama that led to her fleeing to America while her former Bangladeshi beau Nasir aggressively demands she stay home with him.

This is an intriguing look at a young woman caught between her old world culture and her new world lifestyle. Amina is superb as she somewhat assimilates to the American way of life but never quite overcomes a quarter of a century nurturing that emphasized the obedience expected of females even when assaulted. George never quite comes into focus so that the heroine’s fish out of water in Rochester never quite gels as much as her time in Bangladesh. Still The Newlyweds is an engaging contemporary tale of cross cultures pulling a modern day woman in opposite directions.

Harriet Klausner

One Naughty Night-Laurel McKee

One Naughty Night

Laurel McKee

Forever, Jun 1 2012, $7.99

ISBN 9781455505470

The St. Claire family found Lily on the streets and adopted her. She knows she owes her life to this brood who showered her with love as if she had their blood; Lily would do anything for her family.

In 1851 in London, the widow Lily manages the family-owned The Devil's Fancy exclusive gaming den. She is obsessed with restoring her adopted family’s wealth and influence stolen by their enemy the Huntington clan over a century ago. However, Lily feels like a traitor when she learns the greatest night of her life was with Aidan Huntington who wants letters she possesses. As each knows they must end their relationship, neither can resist their secret trysts. However, an enemy from her past plans to destroy her and her loved ones while Aidan will do anything to keep his beloved safe.

This is an exciting Regency romance with a Romeo-Juliet feel to the feud. Fast-paced, the couple is clearly in lust as they share sex even at importune and risky moments. He shows his mettle when his beloved is threatened. However, sub-genre fans will enjoy the opening Scandalous St. Claires because of the unique unflappable heroine.

Harriet Klausner

Seeker of Shadows-Nancy Gideon

Seeker of Shadows

Nancy Gideon

Pocket, May 29 2012, $7.99

ISBN 9781439199510

In New Orleans, shifter-chosen geneticist researcher Dr. Susanna Duchamps of the Chosen arrives at Cheveaux Du Chien shifter club to meet with Nica Fraser who asked for her help so she took the train from from Chicago as she owes the assassin (see Hunter of Shadows). Nica’s friend has a human buddy who was injured with no chance of recovery; her friend and a male shifter bonded and his regenerative qualities were passed on to her, and perhaps could be passed on to save the human. Considering ethical issues, Susanna is excited yet uncertain she should proceed.

Nica’s boss Jacques LaRoche orders her back on the floor while Susanna recognizes his scent and voice from when he was in the North, but she knows he is unaware of who she is; only what she is. As he dreams of the mysterious female from the North who is his lost mate, Jacques realizes Susanna is trouble, but unaware of why beyond her being a stray in his shifter world. As clans bloody the streets, Susanna fears she will not be able to let go of her Jacques a second time.

The second Shadows romantic urban fantasy with links to Nancy Gideon's Moonlight saga (see Masked by Moonlight and Bound by Moonlight) is a wonderful thriller and Nica serving as the tie to the previous entry Hunter of Shadows. The storyline is fast-paced from the moment Susanna enters the club and never slows down as the pair dance an intriguing tango. While the overarching themes move forward in the complicated Gideon mythos, fans will enjoy this latest paranormal romance.

Harriet Klausner

Asgard Park-Ronald Simonar

Asgard Park

Ronald Simonar

Eventhor Media, May 27 2011, $14.99

ISBN: 9789197966719

In June 1991, psychologist Dr. Birger Wallenberg flies from Copenhagen to New York to become the Director of Research at Asgard Park Mental Institution. He has no idea why him as his experience is limited and he only applied because a friend nagged him to do so.

Birger replaces retiring Dr. Karl Leamas who will still reside at the Westchester County facility. Upon arrival, chief psychiatrist Dr. George Kennan informs him a patient Haakon Beale left the place last night and killed two men. Soon after his auspicious welcoming, he finds Birger everywhere as the older man encourages the newcomer to embrace the Nordic God Heimdallr as the chosen one.

In Albania, Rakipe “The Kid” whore argues with widow Shequere Avhiu over the value of sex. Rakipe relies on herself to survive while Shequere, whose late husband committed suicide, depends on her dealing brother Spiro. Soon they will find a connection to a bewildered European doctor in New York who learned Leamas funded the protection of the chosen children of Heimdallr.

This is a fascinating but odd thriller that is not an easy read as the storyline predominantly rotates between Westchester and Albania, but their link comes later so readers who remain patient will relish learning the secret behind what is going on. While, the key players are fully developed so that the audience understands what motivates each of them. Fans will appreciate this strange yet engaging modernization of Heimdallr the Nordic Watchman who never sleeps.

Harriet Klausner

The Craving-Jason Starr

The Craving

Jason Starr

Ace, Jun 5 2012, $15.00

ISBN: 9781937007553

In Manhattan, thirty-nine years old Simon Burns struggles to adjust to major changes in his life; as he lost his job, his marriage is on the rocks, and he avoids the Pack whom he met, along with other stay at home dads watching their kids like he does with his three years old son Jeremy. The Pack leader Michael Hartman changed Simon, Charlie, and Ramon into werewolves. Simon shaves his face and chest twice a day; has the strength and speed of a wolf; and craves raw meat.

Unable to cope with what happened to him and aware he owes his wife Alison an explanation of the radical changes especially his nocturnal wanderings she has noticed him taking; Simon informs his spouse that he suffers from lycanthropic disorder. His lies drive the couple further apart until Alison finally kicks him out of their apartment when she no longer trusts him. He stays at Charlie’s place as he reconciles with the Pack members except Michael who he distrusts. Meanwhile Ramon met his heart mate Geri Rodriguez, a cop who works the toughest cases. He takes the first step to convert his beloved, but Michael believes Simon stole it and prepares to end the rogue’s life.

The second Pack urban fantasy is a fascinating Manhattan horror tale in which readers observe the changes to Simon that he struggles to curtail or ignore his new life out of fear that what he is will harm his beloved wife and child. The New York setting adds to this unusual tale as readers wonder whether the real monster is the werewolf or a criminal. Jason Starr provides an action-packed (pun intended) great Lycan psychological horror thriller. The author writes one of kind

horror tales that will make him tomorrow’s superstar in his field.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Black & White- Raymond Benson

Black & White

Raymond Benson

Oceanview, May 30 2012, $25.95

ISBN: 9781608090419

In the present fortyish Martin Talbot finds an 8mm film dated 1959 inside a strongbox given to him by his "Uncle" Thomas that belongs to his Alzheimer’s ill septuagenarian mother Judy, a resident of the Woodlands Nursing Home in Riverwoods, Illinois. However, Martin learns of a second copy when the apparent filmmaker's son demands payments or else he will go to the Feds as the FBI wanted the Black Stiletto. At about the same time he deals with blackmail, in New York City Martin’s daughter Gina is viciously attacked.

In 1959 Judy Cooper as the Black Stiletto challenges the deadly heroin king of Harlem when her martial arts instructor Soichiro’s teenage daughter Isuzu becomes a prisoner in a narcotics den. She invades the place to mount a rescue while planning to bring justice to the owner Carl Purdy. At the same time a filmmaker threatens to reveal her alter-ego to the media unless she pays him.

This exciting thriller moves back and forth between five decades as in the present Martin watches the film and reads his mom’s dairy, and deals with the blackmailer and his daughter’s assault; while in 1959 Judy battles drug dealers and a sleazy filmmaker. The story line is over the top of the old Yankee Stadium but is exciting fun to read as a young female heroine kicks butt.

Harriet Klausner

Photo Finish-John McEvoy

Photo Finish

John McEvoy

Poisoned Pen, Jun 5 2012, $24.95

ISBN 9781464200151

County Cork bookmaker Niall Hanratty calls his friend Jack Doyle in Chicago. He asks Jack to become an agent to seventeen year old Irish jockey Mickey Sheehan, who Niall says is as talented as her brother Kieran except she won’t throw races. Though he has no experience as an agent, he’s been around the track too many times and is between gigs so Jack agrees. He meets Mickey and her older sister Nora at O’Hare while Jack reels from the fact his client is a girl.

Jack introduces the sisters to trainer Ralph Tenuta at nearby Heartland Downs. The trainer has problems with his fired highly functional mean-spirited alcoholic veterinarian Eric Allgauer who also seems to desire destroying Ingrid McGuire, known for her communication skills with horses. Jack and his friend mob connected Moe Kellman buy Plotkin who is ridden by Mickey. Meanwhile someone is drugging the horses leading to Jack investigating to insure his jockey on his horse has a safe successful ride in the million dollar Heartland Downs Futurity.

The latest Jack Doyle turf mystery (see Close Call and The Significant Seven) is an entertaining amateur sleuth with the prime concentration on the track. Fast-paced, fans will know Jack is a sure bet as he looks into the threats to his friend Ralph and the drugging scandal while his tender relationships with the Sheehan sister soften the in your face protagonist.

Harriet Klausner

Bonereapers-Jeanne Matthews


Jeanne Matthews

Poisoned Pen, Jun 5 2012, $24.95

ISBN 9781590586204

Anthropologist Dinah Pelerin is one of an American contingent delivering seeds to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault in Longyearbyen, Norway; just six hundred miles from the Pole. Also among the American group to the “Doomsday Vault” are United States Senator Colt Sheridan (from Montana) who as a wheat famer plans a White House run, his Norwegian born wife Erika, his biggest supporter Tillcorp Industries agribusiness CEO Jake Mahler, and American Senators Keyes of Massachusetts and Frye of Hawaii; as well as high ranking Norwegian officials like the agricultural minister. An incident occurs at the press conference as a protestor goes after the senators with a laser gun blinding a Norwegian official while shouting about the death gene.

Dinah wonders why she gave up tropical Hawaii to spend December inside of the Arctic Circle as zero is a heat wave in this tundra. Two homicides occur and attempts on Dinah’s life also happen. She knows sh*t goes downhill even amidst the permafrost, which means as the lowest person visiting Longyearbyen, she is the most likely left carrying the guilt as she understands the political industrial complex always insures the low ball takes the hit. Not one to wait for the crap to hit her, Dinah investigates.

The third Dinah Pelerin amateur sleuth (see Bones of Contention and Bet Your Bones) is an engaging whodunit. The storyline occurs in an intriguing location while focused on the fascinating controversy of genetically engineered food and the debate over placing these seeds inside the Doomsday Vault. The whodunit is nicely handled, but it is the agribusiness corporations with Congressional support trying to gain control of the seed bank that makes for a strong entry.

Harriet Klausner

Target: Tinos-Jeffrey Siger

Target: Tinos

Jeffrey Siger

Poisoned Pen, Jun 5 2012, $24.95

ISBN 9781590589786

When two gypsies are immolated on Tinos, Special Crimes Division Chief Inspector Andreas Kaldis and his boss, Greece’s Minister of Public Order Spiros Renatis, head to the Aegean Sea pilgrimage island to investigate what appears to be a hate crime. His fiancée Lila is outraged with Andreas leaving on a case with less than a week to their marriage on Mykonos.

The Greek governmental leadership wants the investigation stopped as they believe the country cannot afford further bad press at a time when tourism is down and the financial crisis international news. Thus Renatis orders Kaldis to end his inquiry. Kaldis, his chief assistant Yianni Kouros and Cyclades chief homicide investigator Tassos Stamatos continue to work the case that spins into diverse interests including the Albanian mob, the growing Gypsy presence on the island and a cult with a two hundred years old tenet.

The latest Chief Inspector Andreas Kaldis Greek police procedural (see Prey on Patmos, Assassins of Athens and Murder in Mykonos) is a great tale as the whodunit and the “Greek Lourdes” island make for a winning combination. Kaldis is terrific as the most feared cop in Greece, but he fears what Lila will do to him if he fails to hustle back like yesterday. Action-packed fans will relish this trip to the Aegean with Kaldis as our tour guide.

Harriet Klausner

Bad Faith-Robert K. Tanenbaum

Bad Faith

Robert K. Tanenbaum

Gallery/Pocket, Jun 5 2012, $26.00

ISBN 9781451635522

After learning the facts about the painful death of ten year old Micah Ellis, New York County District Attorney Roger “Butch” Karp prosecutes the parents Nonie and David Ellis for reckless manslaughter because they denied their son treatment for cancer on religious grounds. As God’s emissary Reverend C.G. Westlund is outraged at the DA’s affront to the Lord’s will as he led the Ellis family with their prayers for a divine miracle at his End of Days Reformation Church of Jesus Christ Resurrected.

At the same time Federal prisoner Nadya “Ajmaani” Malovo informs law enforcement officials about planned terrorist attacks. She also works on her escape fueled by her need to destroy Karp. Reverend Westlund and his followers protest the arrests of two their flock, but he conceals the fact that Nonie signed over life insurance taken out on her child to the church and its leader without her husband’s knowledge. Attorney Marlene Ciampi, Karp’s wife, investigates Westlund’s past in Memphis.

The latest Karp-Ciampi tale (see Outrage) is an action-packed in your face thriller. The storyline is fast-paced from the moment Karp chooses to prosecute. However, making Westlund into an avaricious villain instead of a deeply devout believer in prayer rather than medical intervention detracts from the novel as Bad Faith becomes a standard legal thriller rather than a complex First Amendment case.

Harriet Klausner

Drop Dead Chocolate-Jessica Beck

Drop Dead Chocolate

Jessica Beck

Minotaur, Apr 24 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9781250001054

In April Springs, North Carolina elections are coming soon. Mayor Cam Hamilton has been in office for years having won reelection numerous times. This election he has no opponent. Dorothy Hart is incensed with the mayor over winning the bid for a tax payer-funded job. Her daughter Suzanne Hart, owner of Donut Hearts, pushes her mom to file as a candidate, which she does. The election won’t take place because someone brutally kills the incumbent in the office that was going to be Dorothy’s election headquarters.

The police chief recuses himself from the homicide investigation because he is dating Dorothy. Suzanne’s boyfriend Jake leads the inquiry as there is no other choice with experience available and he is one degree further removed from the homicide than the chief is. He informs Suzanne they will not be able to see each other until the case is resolved. Knowing her mother is a prime suspect, Suzanne, as she has done before (see Killer Crullers and Sinister Sprinkles), decides to investigate. She quickly learns the late Hamilton demanded bribes and kickbacks among his multitude of nefarious activities; this leads to multiple suspects with a motive to end the extortion.

Suzanne acts like natural born investigator whose skills match those of her highly regarded experienced boyfriend. Once the sub-genre fan accepts her need to prove her mom’s innocence in spite of knowing Jake is great at his job (implies she distrusts her boyfriend), her actions are plausible and logical as she talks about the case with her suspect list in a shocking news manner. This Donut Shop Mystery is a charming Carolina culinary cozy and readers will enjoy visiting April Springs.

Harriet Klausner

Battleship (Movie Tie-in Edition)-Peter David

Battleship (Movie Tie-in Edition)

Peter David

Del Rey, Apr 24 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780345535375

In 2006 in Honolulu Alex and Stone Hopper are having drinks when a beautiful woman asks the bartender for a chicken fajita; he says the kitchen is closed. Hopper, as Alex is called, races to a convenience store as the owner locks up and refuses his money. Undisturbed he breaks in and delivers the woman a fajita only to have the cops arrest him. Stone uses his influence as a naval officer to get him out of trouble. Stone tells him the woman Sam Shane is the daughter of the Rear Admiral; if he wants her he needs to clean up his act. Stone joins the navy.

After SETI shuts down, in Tibet, Dr. Andrew Nogrady becomes the head of Beacon International Project. His team sends signals into space seeking alien contact.

Five years later, Sam encourages Hopper to ask her father for permission to marry her. When he gets into trouble with a Japanese sailor, Shane informs him he will be court martialed after the military games are completed. The games end when disaster strikes around the globe and a strange vessel shows up in the zone. Nogrady realizes he got what he wished for; an armada answered his signals with efficient force.

Based on the upcoming movie’s screenplay (by Erich Hoeber and Jon Hoeber), Peter David provides an exciting military science fiction thriller. The first few chapters establish the always in troublesome hero, whose propensity for causing disturbances helps him later on when facing an enemy more powerful, faster and impossible to see (radar down). However the invasion that readers anticipate arrives 25% into the entertaining storyline. Still this is a fun thriller as the superior alien armada is conquering the planet.

Harriet Klausner