Sunday, July 29, 2007

Sorceress--Lia jackson

Lisa Jackson
Signet, Sep 2007, $7.99
ISBN: 9780451221988

In 1289 Wales, Bryanna of Penbrooke hates being different, a feeling she has had since as a little girl she could see people and animals that no one else saw. Over time, she learned to hide her curse to see what others could not from her neighbors so that she is not ostracized. However, her time has come to use her gift to fulfill an ancient prophecy. Reluctantly she begins her solo odyssey to Tarth, praying she will find guidance there as she searches for four jewels that make up a magical dagger.

Sixteen years ago, Hallyd the watcher killed a witch who just before she died cursed him to live in the darkness. His only hope to ever see sunlight resides with that witch’s’ daughter Bryanna coming into his shrouded woods. He knows she is the Fates’ chosen one, but before she complete her destiny, he will make her lift her mother’s curse from him

Lord Agendor sends his paid assassins to kill his son Gavyn. They almost succeed, but the severely wounded Gavyn makes it to Bryanna's camp. To his shock, he recognizes her as the female who has haunted his dreams; he believes he must protect her not aware that Hallyd is coming for her nor comprehending he endangers her with his father’s killers coming for him.

This exhilarating medieval romantic fantasy grips the reader from the opening sequence in 1273 when Bryanna flees while her mother is murdered and never slows down as each of the players on Lisa Jackson’s stage come together for a confrontational prophesy in 1289. The cast is solid as Bryanna the orphaned SORCERESS; Hallyd the patient Watcher; Gavyn the dream lover; and Agendor the killing ruler make the tale exciting. It is their destiny to complete the prophecy, but who will survive the ordeal will keep the audience reading SORCERESS in one superb sitting.

Harriet Klausner

An Ice Cold Grave-Charlaine Harris

An Ice Cold Grave
Charlaine Harris
Berkley, Oct 2007, $23.95
ISBN 9780425217290

The residents of Doraville, North Carolina fear the worst as the number of runaway boys seems improbable. The townsfolk believe a serial killer is living amidst them murdering their male offspring. Against the opinion of Sheriff Sandra Rockwell, psychic detective Harper Connelly and her manager stepbrother Tolliver Lang come to the town to find the missing boys. To the horror of both women and Tolliver, Harper earns her fee when she uncovers eight corpses.

Not long afterward, someone assaults an already weary Harper. Worn out to her bone marrow and fearful of further attacks, Harper wants to go home to heal from her injuries; not all being physical. However, a less skeptical Sandra pleads with her and the North Carolina Bureau of Investigation demands she continue to work on the case. The media, learning of the deadly find and psychic link, turns the inquiry into a circus while Harper’s psychic friends try to assist her as they begin to find more horrific remains.

The third grave Connelly psychic mystery (see GRAVE SIGHT and GRAVE SURPRISE) is a tense thriller that grips the audience from the moment the heroine finds the grisly remains of eight bodies and never slows down until the final confrontation. The cast enhances the tale either by bringing local flavor to the plot or assistance/deterrence to Harper. Although there is a binge of serial killers in literature of late, the fast-paced story line deftly uses the paranormal to make it seem normal as the heroine confronts an abnormal psychopathic killer in an entertaining regional whodunit.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Rivals for the Crown-Kathleen Givens

Rivals for the Crown
Kathleen Givens
Pocket, Aug 2007, $14.00
ISBN: 9781416509929

In 1290 Isabel de Burke and Rachel de Anjou have been best friends since they met as children. Although they vowed forever and still love one another as sisters, their friendship seems over as King Edward I decreed that all Jews must leave immediately. Rachel accompanied by her parents and sister leave England for Berwick where they buy an inn; at the same time Isabel becomes a lady-in-waiting to Queen Eleanor.

When Scotland's preadolescent queen dies while traveling to claim her throne, rivals John Balliol and Robert Bruce wage a civil war, which fits nicely into the plans of King Edward I to annex Scotland. Highlander Kieran MacDonald arrives at the de Anjou inn where he is meets and wants Rachel. However, he is fighting with Rory MacGannon to keep the English from ruling over Scotland so has no time for his heart’s desire. Soon Isabel and Rachel reunite with the former and Rory attracted to each other. The two female friends are caught in the intrigue between England and Scotland and must decide between love for the Highlanders and love for England.

RIVALS FOR THE CROWN is a stupendous complex historical romance with the focus on the era. The epic saga uses the love between Rachel and Kieran, and Isabel and Rory to showcase the impact of war and royal intrigue on individuals as the two couples must make difficult choices that mean sacrifice of something cherished (love of country vs. beloved). Few authors can rival Kathleen Givens skill of transporting her audience so much so readers will feel they are along side the key cast members as late thirteenth century Scotland and to a lesser degree England comes alive once again (see the previous tale ON A HIGHLAND SHORE) in her wonderful novel.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Betrayed-Lisa T Bergren

The Betrayed
Lisa T. Bergren
Berkley, Sept 22007, $23.95, 416 pp.
ISBN: 9750425217085

In the year 1340, the Gifted, those chosen by God to spread Christ’s word among the masses and endowed with divine powers, are in Venice looking for clues to where the Lord wants them to go next. The group consists of the healer Lady Daria d’Angelo; Sir Gianni whose gift is faith; Hasani has visions; and Father Piero known for his wisdom and Tessa who has discernment and knows who is good and who is evil.

They are pursued by Lord Abramo Amidei who worships the forces of darkness and sacrifices children on the altar of his god. He intends to capture and convert the Gifted or destroy them; his plan is to separate them so that they do not have each other to rely on when he tortures them into doubting their beliefs. While the Gifted search for a glass map, a piece of which is hidden in the seven churches of Venice, Cardinal Boreli observes them as he hopes to use them to bring the papacy back to full power when he becomes the pope. Daria is captured and taken to Abramo’s prison where he tortures her: hoping to break her spirit. The rest of the Gifted mount a rescue, but it will take a miracle from God to free her from that darkness.

By books end, the Gifted knows where they are needed next, a place that is anathema to them yet their faith is so strong they don’t doubt God’s will and obey him even though they are heading into more troubles. The Gifted are good and honorable but circumstances sometimes causes them to have doubts. Abramo is a fully developed villain who is the sworn enemy of the Gifted and will do whatever is necessary to convert or kill them. Lisa T. Bergren has written an exciting thriller that is full of surprises and confrontations between good and evil.

Harriet Klausner

Crusade-Robyn Young

Robyn Young
Dutton, Aug 2007, $25.95
ISBN: 9780525950165

By 1274, the years of war that has devastated much of the Middle East especially the Holy Land appears over. A shaky peace has finally come to weary people mostly because of the Herculean efforts of the Brethren. However, one of the Brethren Will Campbell fears their cause has been betrayed from within and that hostilities will break out unless the traitor Prince Edward is stopped from meeting his pledge to the Pope that the Cross will soon control Jerusalem. However, Will remains unaware that European war profiteers have found their profits gone since peace has descended on the land; so to stir up business they plan a scheme to use Edward as a foolish tool to erupt the Muslin world into a Jihad against the European infidels.

In Egypt, Sultan Baybars’ heir Baraka has turned a deaf ear towards his fathe; who left him with his mother until he was old enough to train as a warrior and then left him with a tutor. Now he ignores his offspring even more since his closest friend died saving his life. Instead Baraka heeds the guidance of soothsayer Khadir who tells him his dad is going to leave him a destroyed kingdom unless he acts. Baybars believes he must fight the powerful Mongol horde while Khadir insists that is not only suicide, but it is the Christians who are the real enemy. A new wave of crusades seems imminent with Will and some of his Brethren peers the only hope to prevent another region wide conflation that could easily spread across the Mediterranean.

The middle book of this superior historical fiction trilogy (see BRETHREN) is a terrific entry as the late thirteenth century Middle East seems on the verge of another Crusade unless Will and his peers can pull off several miracles. The fast-paced story line effortlessly moves back and forth between the subplots and the key cast members are fully developed so that the audience obtains a taste of the medieval age especially in Jerusalem and Cairo in AD 1276.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Fearless-Robin Parrish

Robin Parrish
Bethany House, Jul 2007, $19.99
ISBN: 9780764201783

The world teeters on the brink of extinction under the RELENTLESS surge of natural disasters; obviously people are terrified as no respite happens between tragedies. The only hope is Grant “Guardian” Burrows who leads a group of Loci Ringwearers trying to save humanity. These Shifted Loci were once people for instance Grant was Collin Boyd, but now has a new body with extraordinary mental prowess. The Secretum of Six believes he is The Bringer who ancient prophecy claims will bring in a new age to the world.

Grant and his Loci pack do not hesitate to use their powers for the better good of humanity. However, as the Secretum of Six continue to watch the events unfold towards the coming of The Bringer bringing the new age with him, Grant realizes he and his team are not achieving much though the populace cherishes them as superheroes. He starts an odyssey to learn the truth whether he is the Bringer, but that means seeking his past as Collin and who knows what else he will find even before that persona. Thus he is pulled in two directions: saving what he can of the world now vs. saving what is left of the world assuming he understands and can make the Bringer prophecy happen. Either way people will die in biblical numbers

Whereas RELENTLESS set the stage with the series of disasters and the initial introduction to the Collin/Grant tyro superhero, FEARLESS goes deeper into his essence and his predicament as he gains superhero experience and begins to understand his limitations. Thus the audience sees Grant and his colleagues struggle with the demands and their limited ability to supply solutions. This action-packed suspense fantasy also goes deeper inside the mysterious Secretrium and provides more information re the Bringer Prophesy. Readers will enjoy the middle book while waiting the conclusion to learn whether it is end of the world, beginning of a new age, or status quo of pandemic disasters.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, July 20, 2007

The Phoenix Unchained-Mercedes Lackey & James Mallory

The Phoenix Unchained
Mercedes Lackey & James Mallory
Tor, Sept 2007, $27.95, 400 pp.
ISBN 9780765315939

When the Flowering War ended, the Darkness was defeated and the land has known a millennium of peace. The elves and the rest of the other folk isolated themselves in the Northern lands. The humans multiplied along with the brownie, fauns, and centaurs, who stayed with them. Tiercel Rolfort reads a book of magic and suddenly can light fires using High Magic that he can learn unlike Wild Magic which people are blessed with instinctively knowing how to use.

There is nobody to teach Tiercel magic as Wild Magic is found only in times of need. Tiercel needs a wild mage because he is kept up nights dreaming about a demonic woman, fire and another entity. They are something evil and Tiercel finally realizes that he is seeing the future and he must journey to where this woman is. First though, he and his friend Harrier journey to find a Wild Mage hoping that one knows how to stop the visions from returning. The journey takes them into the land of the elves where both learn what fate has in store for them.

Set in the same world as the Obsidian trilogy, THE PHOENIX UNCHAINED is book one of the Enduring Flame saga and is a fantastic spellbinding epic fantasy. The heroes Tiercel and Harrier need each other as close friends will during a crisis; the latter especially watches out for the former who gets them in trouble. Their repartee and quips add a touch of humor to a very enchanting quest tale.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Dead Heat-Dick Francis and Felix Francis

Dead Heat
Dick Frances and Felix Francis
Putnam, Sept 2007, $25.95, 352 pp.
ISBN: 9780399154768

Business is booming at the Newmarket restaurant in Newmarket, England; and the proprietor Max Moreton is hired by the racetrack to be the guest chef of a dinner. The meal is a success but most of the people came down with a bad case of food poisoning including Max. The next day he has to drag himself out of bed to perform as the guest chef in the sponser’s box. A bomb goes off killing many and injuring even more including Max’s staff. The cause of the food poisoning is caused by undercooked kidney beans. Max knows nothing in the dinner called for kidney beans.

He believes somebody deliberately poisoned his meal so that they would have an excuse not to go to the sponsor’s gala. Two couples who were supposed to attend the sponsor’s gala never showed up; one couple is one of Max’s best customers and the other is Peter, an importer of polo ponies and his wife. While he is investigating he is almost killed when the brakes on his car go out and his house with him in it is set afire. When Max and his lover go to the states, he gets a broken arm just for asking about a certain person and showing a metal ball to the security guard. Even with his life in danger, Max refuses to give up his quest to find out who tainted the meal that left so many ill and he has a number of unexpected allies willing to back him up.

This father and son writing team changes the dynamic of a book written by Dick Frances. There is more humor in the storyline and readers get even closer to the characters because Max is an everyman the audience can identify with even with his outrageous risks to clear his name. The mystery itself is clearly set up so that through the use of misdirection, readers aren’t sure who the villains of this tale are.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Sweet Revenge- Diane Mott Davidson

Sweet Revenge
Diane Mott Davidson
Morrow, Sept 2007, $25.95, 368 pp.
ISBN 9780060527334

Goldy Schulz’s catering business is booming as she has twenty– five events between December first and Christmas. On the way to the MacArthur’s house to finalize theevent she is catering, Goldy sees someone she believed has been dead for six months; the woman who killed her abusive ex-husband the Jerk. Sandee Brisbane had cause because he raped her when she was a teenager but everyone believed she perished in the blaze. When she tells her husband, a police officer he believers she saw someone who looked like Sandee because nobody could have gotten out of that fire even though her bones were never found.

At a library event she is catering she thinks she sees Sandee again but loses sight of her when the head librarian finds the body of ex-D.A. Drew Wellington who tried to cover up his DUI and his being in the car with a nubile minor.. One of Drew’s business acquaintances is also found dead with his head bludgeoned. Goldie thinks the two murders are connected and she starts investigating and uncovers some very ugly secrets people hide in their closets.

Diane M0tt Davidson is one of the premier writers of culinary mysterious of this decade and after readers finish one of her books, they come away hungry for food and the next tale. Goldy needs to know the truth about the alleged rebirth of Sandee and the murders. Once the motive becomes clear, readers will feel no sympathy for the victims. SWEET REVENGE is a satisfying and tasty treat.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Winterbirth-Brian Buckley

Brian Ruckley
Orbit, Sep 2007, $14.99
ISBN: 9780316067690

After the failure of the one race during the First Age, the Gods created five races when they rebuilt the world in the Second Age. Everyone prospered until the Huanin and Kyrinin attacked the brutal wolven Whreinin; the Gods are upset and concluding that their creation is flawed abandoned their children ending the Second Age in chaos and beginning the Third Age of the Godless World where after years of open hostilities, a truce exists between the High Thanes of the True Bloods though their direct report Thanes still somewhat fight.

However, in the Third Age, war explodes when irate High Thane Ragnor oc Gyre the Thane of Thanes of The Bloods of the Black Road, still outraged over the exile in 942 for heresy, sends his Gyre forces to conquer the lands of the Haig True Bloods south of the Vale of Stones. The war expands beyond Anlane as the Dargannan Haig Blood revolt against the Haig High Thane. All sides in the complex dispute believe they have a noble cause, but for most of the Godless World honor or not means simply their death. By 1102 the Godless World has become a hellhole with death everywhere. In this maelstrom on the southern side of the Veil of Stones Orisian nan Lannis-Haig begins an odyssey filled with bleak hope and plenty of blood.

This epic fantasy is grim with no magical last second heroics as Brian Ruckley paints quite a dark realm. The story line is fast-paced and filled with non stop action that traverses much of the Godless World. Yet the key to this excellent fantasy is the cast as the leaders of the various armies seem genuine in a Machiavellian way; for instance some see terrific personal profit in the war. Orisian and his accompanying warriors are not your typical heroes as they understand war is hell and act accordingly. Readers who enjoy a powerful enthralling thriller will appreciate Brian Ruckley’s aptly named WINTERBIRTH.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, July 16, 2007

Silent Counsel-Ken Isaacson

Silent Counsel
Ken Isaacson
Windermere Press, Sept 2007, $24.95, 332 pp.
ISBN 978097886224

Just having gotten the BMW, Vince Saldano is seeing how fast he can get from 0 to sixty miles per hour when he hears a thump and sees a child in the street motionless. Scared, he runs away from the scene of the accident; six year old Ben Altman is dead and Vince is having pangs of conscience. A man calls attorney Scott Heller and tells him about what he did and wants him to try and negotiate a good plea bargain with the prosecution without giving him his name. Scott researches it and realizes the name is privileged but the ADA won’t bargain without a name.

Scott invokes privilege when he talks to the police. The victim’s mother Stacy Altman a hires a lawyer and hopes that a judge will make Scott reveal the name of the hit and run driver. The judge upholds his position on privilege. Stacy is determined to find out who her son’s killer is and she starts stalking Scott’s wife and daughter. The ironic part of the whole affair is that his client gave him a phony name; his phone and pager are disconnected and his e-mail address is no longer valid. Stacy refuses to let go of her obsession and she does the one thing that will force Scott to try to find out who his client is in order to avert a tragedy.

It is hard to believe that this is Ken Isaacson’s first legal thriller as the tale is on a par with the works of John Grisham. This is a very action oriented legal thriller that starts off at light speed and just keeps accelerating. Yet the characters are so well developed especially Scott, his family, and Stacy readers will feel as if they know them as people they meet in their everyday lives. This book will make the audience feel a myriad of emotions.

Harriet Klausner

Act Normal-William Mamchester

Act Normal
William Manchester
Top Publications, Sep 2007, $14.95
ISBN: 9781929976409

Overcrowding on a planet caused some of the inhabitants to colonize two orbs, Earth and Tarizon. A terrible ecological disaster on Tarizon forced the people to erect and live inside domed cities while women had a difficult time becoming pregnant. The governments of Tarizon and that of the earth’s United States signed a treaty allowing a citizen of the former to marry an earthling, have children with them, and after a few years on earth return to their Tarizon with the children leaving behind an abandoned bewildered spouse to explain to her family what happened.

Lawyer Stan Turner’s son is on Tarizon as a means of controlling the former and having him do what his CIA handlers demand. At present they want Stan to get an acquittal for Charlotte Wenzel whose husband and sons disappeared. Their father was from Tarizon and there is no hard evidence. That changes when the policefind the body of one of her children. When the beam bringing him to the ship failed, he fell back to earth. Besides that case, Stan is also working to make sure his friend Ben Stover isn’t convicted for money laundering due to the manifestations of a vindictive son-in-law who embezzled from their firm. At the same time Stan’s partner Paula is trying to get an innocent man cleared of the murder of Chester Brown and his family.

This is a fascinating science fiction legal thriller in which the government trades children for advanced technologies. The story is told throughout the book in bbeween believable legal strategy amidst the three cases. The CIA and the American government come across as avaricous turncoats as they manipulate people for personal gain. William Manchester goes into incredible depth with the trials and the missing alien and his half-breed children so that the audience is immersed in a legal procedural in a world somewhat similar to ours, but with a radical ET difference. ACT NORMAL will appeal to science fiction and mystery fans; obviously especially those who appreciate the joining of the two genres.

The Electric Church-Jeff Sommers

The Electric Church
Jeff Somers
Orbit, Sep 2007, $12.99
ISBN: 9780316021722

Avery Cates is a professional hit man, but his latest kill in old Harlem angers him as his client’s agent failed to provide key needed information. First the victim was probably a Systems Security Force (SSF) cop; second there was a child in the apartment. Avery knows the SSF elite Stormers and throwaway Crushers hunt for him for what he assumes is killing one of them, undercover Colonel Janet Hense. He also knows if they catch him the Stormers will set it up so that they can legally kill him in one of the illegal Old Manhattan dives or on the street fleeing.

Instead, the authorities want Avery to kill Dennis Squalor, the founder of the fastest growing religion the Electric Church. The government leaders know Squalor is a threat to their primogenitary power. He espouses the belief that an individual’s life is too short to understand the universe as it takes eternity to do so. The faithful convert to invincible cyborgs with their brain inside; these Monks kill objectors. To get to Squalor he must get past protected by concentric circles of Monks, Avery needs a miracle; hell whatever he does he needs a miracle because he is caught between the Stormers and Crushers on one side, and the Monks on the other.

THE ELECTRIC CHURCH is an invigorating futuristic urban noir science fiction that grips the audience from the first fight in the East Side dive and never slows down as the antihero with ethics runs a gauntlet with the stake being his life. If he fails the authorities, they will kill him; if he goes after Squalor, they will convert him, which means they will kill him; if by some miracle he succeeds and kills Squalor, the authorities will kill him. Any way he sees it he sees his imminent death. Fans will want to walk on the wild side of Old New York as tour guide Jeff Somers provides a powerful thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Ivory-Mike Resnick

Mike Resnick
PYR, Sep 2007, $15.00
ISBN: 9781591025467

In 6303, Braxton's Records of Big Game senior researcher Duncan Rojas knows why he relishes his work on a wasteland where the biggest surviving animal besides the few humans like himself is a small rodent. His vocation enables Duncan to dream of a better earth where large mammals lived instead of being extinct or like most Homo sapiens deserted the planet for other worlds leaving behind a dying orb.

Thus when the apparent last Maasai, a race most thought long gone, Bukoba Mandaka, offers him a large some of money to locate the legendary vanished tusks of the long extinct Kilimanjaro Elephant, he would have agreed even without the cash. Over three millennia ago the last known tusks weighing easily over 200 pounds vanished. Although he tries to learn his client’s motive as this will be an expensive project, Mandaka declines to give any further explanation. Still the challenge awakens Rojas from an ennui that had left him almost as dead inside as the planet. As Rojas follows clues through time and worlds with deadly adversaries competing for the prize, he begins to truly appreciate what was lost when man abused his stewardship of the planet as he learns how magnificent Africa once was through the people he meets and ultimately the majestic Kilimanjaro Elephant.

IVORY is science fiction at its best as the tale works on multiple levels with the most prevalent being a cautionary thriller warning people that what we do today has impact on all the tomorrows. The story line is fast-paced and loaded with non stop action as Rojas travels back and forth through time and across the galaxy in his quest while rivals less scrupulous want him eliminated. However, even with a terrific hero and excellent eccentric support characters that make the pit stops eras and places seem genuine; the Kilimanjaro Elephant owns Mike Resnick’s thriller as the magnificent animal even in a limited appearance serves as the symbolic warning of man’s reign ending with a disposable planet dying.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, July 15, 2007

The Innocent Mage-Karen Miller

The Innocent Mage
Karen Miller
Orbit, Sep 2007, $6.99
ISBN: 9780316067805

The youngest son of a fisherman twenty years old Asher dreams of being much more than someone without a room of his own. Asher does not look down at his father’s vocation that has provided him with food and shelter; he just thinks he can make a fortune so he can buy his own fishing fleet if he takes the risk of sneaking away from home and traveling to Dorana, the capital of the Kingdom of Lur.

However, he arrives at a time of unrest as the native Olken populace object to the strict rule of the warrior mages who control the use of magic by executing anyone without their permission who yields it. Asher finds work, but is unaware that the preservers of the ancient magic, the Circle have been expecting him having seen him in a vision. He may have come to earn the money to purchase a fleet, but the first stage of an ancient prophecy has begun with his appearance; for the Circle believes he is THE INNOCENT MAGE who will turn the order of centuries upside down.

The story line is fast-paced yet filled with twists that will keep the readers’ attention throughout, wondering whatcomes next. The worldbuilding (mostly inside the capital) is cleverly developed by the actions and reactions of the reluctant hero who is awed by the thriving market place, Prince Gar and his retinue and the Circle (especially enjoyed the “deference” by Dathne and Matt to “him” being here). Thus, the first entry of the Kingmaker, Kingbreaker series is driven by the changing relationships between the strong prime characters. Epic fantasy fans will appreciate this deep opening saga and look forward to the conclusion, THE AWAKENED MAGE.

Harriet Klausner

The Hades Project-Lynn Sholes & Joe Moore

The Hades ProjectLynn Sholes & Joe Moore
Midnight Ink, Sep 2007, $14.95
ISBN: 9780738709307

Reporter Cotton Stone is a Nephilim, the daughter of a fallen angel and a mortal; but unlike the rest of her species, she is on the side of good as one of God’s warriors. Her father repented his sin and he had two daughters; one took his place in heaven. A new battle is brewing as the Devil’s Nephilim is creating a super computer using the code given by the kidnapped son of Alan owner of CyberSys. The forces of evil intend to unleash the Hades virus, which will cause disasters leading to millions dead and a new Dark Ages.

A childhood friend of Cotton is on the run with her daughter who sees the red auras of those aligned with Satan. They want her dead and Cotton is her only hope for survival. Alan’s son and Lindsay’s daughter meet after both are temporarily free of Satan’s minion and it is obvious they know each other. Cotton thinks these Indigo children are blessed by God and there is an increase in their births for a reason she does not know. Both supercomputers need thodium, the substance found in the resin of The Tree Of Life and the wood is used by Noah to build the arc; the only known artifact that still contains this is the Spear of Destiny. If Satan obtains it hell will come to earth.

Once again, Lynn Sholes & Joe Moore have written a compelling thriller in which Satan, the Nephilim and their offspring the Rubie walk the earth as government, religious, and financial leaders. Cotton plays a major role in putting the pieces together that lead to the Spear of Destiny, but that only insures she will be under attack by the dark forces who already loathe her as a traitor. Readers will enjoy the latest escapades of God’s champion as she battles the minion of Satan.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade-Diana Gabaldon

Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade
Diana Gabaldon
Delacorte, Sep 2007, $25.00
ISBN: 9780385337493

Being a gay man in 1758 England is difficult as caught sodomites are hung in a grisly manner. The government does not call attention to a group of conspirators who will be tried for treason; so instead accuse them of sodomy. Lord Major John Grey, brother to Hal, the Duke of Pardloe, keeps his sexual orientation hidden for fear a wrongly placed whisper means death.

While in the Hal’s Office, a page of their dead father’s journal is found on his desk. Hal tells John he was exiled to Aberdeen when his father died because there were rumors that their father was a traitor who was going to be arrested and rumors of his being a sodomite were on everyone’s lips. John takes solace in his new relationship with Percy, the stepson of the man about to marry his mother. Percy joins the same regiment that John and Hal belong to so that they have another reason to be brothers. John has recently been attacked several times; their mother believes the incidents are tied to their father’s murder. John is content to be with someone he cares about and not delve into the homicide even if it ties to the present. After their regiment deploys to the German front to fight the French, clues surface that could solve the decade old murder mystery.

The latest Lord John book is more a historical drama than a mystery. Readers obtain a glimpse at life in mid eighteenth century England for someone who is gay. John is an honorable person who relishes his sexual orientation although he hates having to hide it (not out of shame but out of a real fear for his life). The murder mystery is interspersed throughout the story line as that subplot serves to enhance the look at the life of a homosexual in historical England. Diana Gabaldon’s provides a powerful Lord John tale that is unforgettable especially with its relevancy today.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, July 13, 2007

The Devil’s Right Hand-Lilith Saintcrow

The Devil’s Right Hand
Lilith Saintcrow
Orbit, Sept 2007, $6.99, 437 pp.
ISBN: 9780316021425

In the far distant future on Earth, the phenomena known as the Awakening brought into being a vast number of psionics and those with magical abilities that hid in the shadows before entered this new world. Dante Valentine has found her necromance powers (the ability to raise the dead and ask them questions) that help her earn a living as a bounty hunter. When out on one of her assignments she meets Japhrimel a demon who is part of the Greater Flight, Lucifer’s oldest son and his best assassin.

He gives up his place in hell for her becoming an A’nankhimel a fallen who has tied himself to Dante who he genetically changed into a half demon known as a hedaria. Lucifer calls Dante to him and Japhrimel accompanies her. They make a deal that they will hunt down four greater demons who escaped to earth in exchange for Japhrimel getting his demonic powers back in full. Dante is now under Lucifer’s protection for eternity and full control of the Hellessvront, people places, objects, and money that Lucifer has available on Earth. When Dante finds out whom one of the demons she is to hunt is she wants to back out of the deal but nobody reneges on an agreement with Lucifer and lives to tell the tale.

The story line is fast-paced but devilishly driven by the Faustian deal. Dante is strong and independent but she is also using magic and afraid that good things and people in her life, like Japhrimel will be destroyed. Readers can actually see her struggling to accept Japhrimel’s love for her. It is a torturous process with so many doubts when she feels insecure that the audience will think Japhrimel is a saintly demon for putting up with her. Lilith Saintcrow is one awesome fantasy writers.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Divine by Blood-P.C.Cast

Divine by Blood
P.C. Cast
Luna, Sep 2007
ISBN: 9780373802913

Morrigan assumed she was a normal Sooner teen with wants and desires similar to her peers. However, when she turns eighteen, Morrigan learns the truth that she is not just an Oklahoma native; instead she learns her roots are literally magically from a tree and a centaur. Her mother Shannon Parker wanted her daughter to avoid all the otherworldly woes that she twice faced (see DIVINE BY MISTAKE and DIVINE BY CHOICE), but now regrets her decision as Morrigan is outraged and upset.

Her explosion opens the portal to the world of Partholon, which she enters expecting to be treated with adulation and respect as befitting the offspring of the goddess Incarnate. Instead she is treated as an unwelcome outsider. Desperate to belong, she causes problems for the residents of Partholon as she is the Light Bringer whose efforts lead to a growing darkness that is engulfing the realm; her only ally is a shaman centaur warrior

The third Divine fantasy is a major departure from the previous two and not just because the next generation is the mover and shaker. The story line retains the fast-paced rate established by Shannon’s starring escapes, but provides greater insight into Partholon through the amazed, dazed and razed teen. This is one fantasist who knows how to cast a spell on her readers.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Dark of the Moon-John Sandford

Dark of the Moon
John Sandford
Putnam, Sep 2007, $26.95, 384 pp.
ISBN: 9780399154775

To look at him nobody would believe that Virgil Flowers is a police officer; one of Lucas Davenport’s best (see INVISIBLE PREY for the case in which Flowers assisted the Minnesota Bureau of Crime Apprehension Chief). He wears casual clothing, has long hair, looks younger than his years and has a breezy amiable manner which enables him to make friends easily. He is on his way to Bluestem, Minnesota to investigate the deaths of the octogenarian Gleasons, who apparently knew their killer.

As he enters the town he sees a house belonging to the recently deceased wealthy Bill Judd. The sheriff asks Virgil to help him with the Judd murder; another eighty-something year old person killed in a horrendous fashion. Judd scammed the townsfolk with a pyramid scheme making millions so he had plenty of enemies. In a town where murder almost never occurs three in a short period of time doesn’t strike Flowers as coincidental especially the age of the victims. When another couple also in their eighties is killed, Flower is certain that there is a methodical organized sociopath killer hiding in plain sight. During the course of his investigations he discovers a meth lab, a mole in the police department, and a church dealing with criminals. For one independent police officer he finds himself involved with a serial killer, townsfolk, the sheriff, a lover and the dead all lead him to the killer if he is clever to find the link.

John Sandford’s latest protagonist is an adrenaline junkie living on the edge but within the rules of an excellent police officer. Flower deserves his own series because his style and methods is as good as his boss Lucas Davenport even though there are ying and yang. There are many different mysteries that tie into the storyline and they are easy to follow although the reader will be perplexed until the very last page of a very fine police procedural.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, July 7, 2007

A Perfect Grave-Rick Mofina

A Perfect Grave
Rick Mofina
Pinnacle, Sept 2007, $6.96, 362 pp.
ISBN 9780786018482

Everyone who knows Sister Anne thinks she’s a saint for her compassion and good works concerning the homeless, the mentally ill, prisoners, and families in crisis. The homeless adore her for her non-judgmental attitude and the community as a whole believes she is a truly good and moral person. It comes as a shock when this good person is killed in her home by a man who knows her and wants something he believes she has.

Seattle Mirror reporter Jason Wade scoops all the other news people when he reports on the weapon, a knife stolen from the soup kitchen where Sister Anne worked. Slowly he gathers information from a variety of sources that a strange man in the soup kitchen talked with Sister Anne who tried to minister to him and he made her sad. What Jason doesn’t know is that his father is connected to this case by the incident that made him quit SPD or that an innocent child with a brain tumor in need of surgery will be kidnapped by this killer in order to get what he wants from the child’s mother. The reporter remains clueless and time is running out for an innocent child.

Thriller writers like Rick Mofina make the genre something special. Jason goes from being a disgraced journalist to the man who keeps getting the inside breaking story. It is hard to accept anyone killing a nun who everyone believes is a saint but as Jason finds out, there is no evidence of her existence prior to her entering the order. The answer to the mystery lies in the nun’s past and Jason, a strong, kind yet vulnerable tough guy doesn’t even know where to start looking.

Harriet Klausner

Antiques Maul-Barbara Allen

Antiques Maul
Barbara Allan
Kensington, Sept 2007, $22.00, 220 pp.
ISBN 9780758211934

Small town living in Serenity, Iowa is anything but dull for divorcee Brandy Bonne. After her marriage breaks up, she went home to live with her quirky and eccentric mother Vivian and her dog Sushi who she got custody of in the settlement. Her husband has custody of their son Jake who rightly blames her for the divorce. Both Brandy and her mother are seeing psychiatrists to get the murders that kept them on edge out of their systems and to deal with their other problems.

After solving one homicide, Brandy doesn’t want to play amateur sleuth again but her mother wouldn’t mind being in the middle of such a situation again. When her mother’s good friend gets the director’s position in the community theater that Vivian wanted, Brandy persuades her mother to open up a stall in the antiques mall. When they arrive there one day, they find the woman in charge dead and the victim’s pet bull covered in blood; it looks like the dog killed her, but Vivian is positive she was murdered by a human. Brandy is afraid mom will try to prove her theory.

The second Trash ‘n Treasure mystery is a delightfully charming cozy that keeps readers interested in the storyline because of the protagonists, Brandy and Vivian. Their witty repartee and Brady’s attempt to keep her mother under control will have the audience laughing out loud. There aren’t any viable suspects in ANTIQUES MAUL so readers will wonder if the dog actually did the deed. Barbara Allen is a terrific storyteller who knows how to grab and keep reader interest.

Harriet Klausner

Hounded To Death-Laurien Berenson

Hounded To Death
Laurien Berenson
Kensington, Sept 2007, $22.00, 304 pp.
ISBN 9780758216038

Her husband Sam and her Aunt Peg persuade four months pregnant Melanie Travis to take a break from all her activities. She agrees and goes with Peg and her sister-in-law Bertie to a symposium for dog show judges and those who want to be one in the Pocono’s. Melanie is shocked to learn that Peg is going to meet Richard Donner, whom she corresponds with on the internet; he brought his mother, who is very possessive of her son and her she also brought her Chihuahua with her.

When Melanie goes for a walk she finds an abandoned German Shepard who is terrified of people. That night they try to find him buit instead come across well known dog judge Charlie Evans floating dead in the Jacuzzi. The police discover it’s a homicide and everyone at the symposium expects Melanie to find out who the killer is. Many people think the controversial keynote speech he gave led to his murder; but Melanie thinks otherwise. Although she tries to stay out of the investigation, she keeps getting pulled into it until she finally surrenders and aggressively investigates wondering whose bite was louder than their bark amidst the many canine loving suspects.

Fans of dog lovers and amateur sleuth mysteries will thoroughly enjoy HOUNDED TO DEATH, a doggedly good who-done it. There is lots of humor in this book as the author plays up the pitfalls of the heroine’s pregnancy (an amusing salute to Fargo) to the enjoyment of the audience. The abandoned German Shepard and the adorable Chihuahua also are played for laughs although dogs play an important role in protecting humans. Laurien Berenson keeps her series fresh by having her key characters change.

Harriet Klausner

When She Was Bad-Jonathan Nasaw

When She Was Bad
Jonathan Nasaw
Atria, Sept 2007, $25.00, 304 pp.
ISBN: 9781416534167

As a very young child Lily De Vries was abused sexually by both her parents so was given to her grandparents who loved and raised her. She developed disassociate identity disorder (DID) once known as multiple personality disorder. She is being treated by psychiatrist Dr. Irene Cogan who was kidnapped by another DID Ulysses Maxwell; he tortured her, but she was fortunate to escape because he raped and killed her as he did with most of his victims, strawberry blondes who looked like his sexual abuser his former elementary school teacher who got custody of him.

When Lily learns her grandparents were killed in an automobile accident she becomes a new alter: biker chick Lilith. Dr. Cogan and her friend Pen track her down and bring her to Alan Corder’s Institute where Ulysses is being confined. When he sees Lilly he falls in love but his alter Max comes out and is interested in Lily now Lilith. Both are deemed non-violent and are invited to Dr. Corder’s home for a party in honor of Ulysses’ birthday. The doctor thinks he is dealing with Lily and Ulysses instead of Max and Lilith; Max takes advantage of that misconception to get even with the doctor and to wipe out the two psych attendants before they go on the run. Irene and Pen hope to find them before Lily does something that will have her end up in prison.

Jonathan Nasaw provides a terrific psychological thriller with quite a spin in his latest, perhaps best work to date. Readers will feel sorry for the abuse the two protagonists suffered even though the audience condemns Ulysses’ actions. Readers and her doctor have hope for Lily because except for Lilith her egos are passive and don’t want to hurt anyone. Mr. Nasaw takes his fans to the max with the tense WHEN SHE WAS BAD

Harriet Klausner

Stolen in the Night-Patricia McDonald

Stolen in the Night
Patricia MacDonald
Atria, Sep 2007, $24.95
ISBN: 9780743269568

The DeGraff family always went on a summer vacation camping in a small New Hampshire town until tragedy struck. One night when Tess was nine and Phoebe thirteen, a man cut a hole in their tent and abducted the teen. Phoebe was found two days later dead, having been raped before he killed her. When Tess describes the invader to the sheriff, they arrest well known sexual pervert Lazarus Abbott. He was convicted solely on Tess’ testimony; when his appeals ended, the state executed him.

Lazarus’ mother never believed her son kidnapped, raped and killed Phoebe. Twenty years of trying to prove he did not commit any of those horrific crimes leads her to attorney Ben Ramsey who persuades Governor Putnam to approve DNA testing. The test proves conclusively that Lazarus at least did not rape Phoebe. The case is reopened with the townsfolk angry at Tess for sending an innocent person to the gallows. However, she realizes if Lazarus was not the killer, a clever murderer still lives free. When her son Erny is abducted she fears history will repeat itself.

Patricia MacDonald affirms once again she is one of the grandmasters of psychological suspense with this strong thriller that fans of Mary Higgins Clark and Sandra Brown will relish. The protagonist is a strong person who feels guilt that her testimony led to an apparent wrongful state execution yet has a burning need deep in her gut to uncover the identity of her sister’s killer. Tess is ignorant that this sheep in wolf’s clothing watches her every move as he hides in plain sight inside the cloak of nicety.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, July 5, 2007

The Elves of Cintra-Terry Brooks

The Elves of Cintra
Terry Brooks
Del Rey, Sep 2007, $26.95
ISBN: 9780345484116

Five decades into the future earth is a terrible place to live as pollution is everywhere with plague being the norm. Most humans live inside fortifications never venturing outside the walls if they want to live as human predators are everywhere, but along with these “once-men” are powerfully magical evil Void demons.

A few good souls remain with the strength to keep dwindling humanity safe, but these Knights of the Word are realistic as they know they are slowly losing the fight. Still they adhere to their pledge so that the remaining twosome Logan Tom and Angel Perez risk death or worse protect children. However, they are losing the battle of Seattle where they and a child with magic Hawk try to keep the Ghosts children of the street safe from the demons and their once-men minion. Hawk vanishes; ending up in the mythical Garden of Life. However, there is no time to worry about the young practitioner as Logan and Angel split up in hopes of saving at least one group. Logan assisted by Cat the lizard girl lead one horde of kids out of the city; Angel takes another group into hiding in the nearby woods where they meet Kirisina Cintra elf hiding there also. Hopes are slim, but Kirisin offers an idea, find the blue Elfstones that will lead him to the powerful Loden Stone.

The second Word and Void fantasy thriller (see ARMAGEDDON'S CHILDREN) is a terrific bleak epic tale of an earth destroyed by human excesses especially the inability to see beyond the immediate bottom line of the “it’s the economy stupid” philosophy. The post-apocalyptic world seems genuine even with magic working as the audience will accept Terry Brooks’ theory that we of today killed the earth. Thus in this nightmarish future, readers quickly understand the courage of Logan and Angel, who could easily walk away to a safer nicer lifestyle.

Harriet Klausner