Monday, October 31, 2011

Oogy: the Dog only a Family Could Love-Larry Levin

Oogy: the Dog only a Family Could Love

Larry Levin

Grand Central, Oct 18 2011, $13.99

ISBN: 9780446546300

The Philadelphia police raided a suspected drug dealer’s home in Montgomery County. There they found a ripped apart canine barely alive. They took the dog to Ardmore Animal Hospital where the battered animal fought for his life while Saint Diane insists Dr. Bianco save the dog with half of his face missing. Apparently, the “owner” assumed the dog was not a fighter; ergo useless except as training bait for his fight dogs.

Larry Levin and his adopted twin sons (Noah and Don) were taking their elderly ailing cat to the hospital to be put down. They meet Oogy recovering from surgery when he escapes his cell to kiss the boys to the amazement of the veterinary staff as Oogy should have been an angry beast instead of a gentle trusting canine. With Dr. Bianco insisting to a reluctant Jennifer that Oogy is “Mr. Happy Dog”, the battered canine joins the Levin family where he bonds with Larry and becomes the protective “third twin” to the boys.

This is an engaging memoir that focuses on a dog that beats the odds to bring joy to a family. Canine lovers will appreciate Oogy’s story as the odious abusers could not rip the heart and soul out of this remarkable canine.

Harriet Klausner

Pharmacology-Christopher Hertz


Christopher Hertz

AmazonEncore, Dec 62011, $14.95

ISBN: 9781612181387

In the early 1990s, Sarah Striker is leaving Kansas City, Missouri to attend school in San Francisco. However, before leaving home, over grilled cheese her beloved dad informs her he has cancer, but insists she go. She promises to send home money to help pay for her father’s medical treatment.

In San Francisco, Sarah rooms with six people and obtains work at the Horseshoe Café. She makes money selling weed to her sibling bosses, which Sarah sends home so her dad can undergo radical medical treatment. Sarah publishes the Luddite issues which leads to a high paying gig for a pharmaceutical firm peddling its attention deficit disorder elixir through a blog. However, as she begins to learn the side effects of the miracle drug, Sarah’s ethics and her father’s expensive treatment place her in an uncomfortable position even as she alleviates some of her guilt with a zine exposé.

Pharmacology is an entertaining character study that captures the essences of the early states of the internet information (and misinformation and disinformation) of the Clinton first term. The support cast in San Francisco and the protagonist’s parents enhance a look at the era and at Sarah. However, the heroine makes the tale work as she confronts her conflicting values.

Harriet Klausner

Roam: A Novel With Music-Alan Lazar

Roam: A Novel With Music

Alan Lazar

Atria, Nov 1 2011, $22.00

ISBN 9781451632903

Nelson the half beagle, half poodle lives with Katey and Don. The canine especially loves his Katey though he fears the marriage between her and Don is falling apart. When Don accidentally leaves a gate open, Nelson follows his nose and wanders outside the perimeter. However, he soon becomes lost and his frantic efforts to sniff his way back to his “Great Love” fail, but he never quits trying to find his Katey. Over the next few years, Nelson trucks with Thatcher and joins a wild wolf pack. As Nelson survives still seeking his beloved Katey, he loses a leg before a widower’s young son saves him from state execution leaving his dream alive.

Roam is an engaging whimsical tale of lost love told mostly from the ultra loyal childlike canine perspective of charming Nelson. The hero is placed in several perilous situations, but his obsessive quest keeps him going. With seven songs (on the internet) enhancing Nelson’s search, readers will never listen to Here Comes the Sun the same way again as we root for the determined dog to reunite with his lost Great Love.

Harriet Klausner

If You Give a Girl a Viscount-Kieran Kramer

If You Give a Girl a Viscount

Kieran Kramer

St. Martin’s, Nov 1 2011, $7.99

ISBN: 9780312374044

In crumbling Castle Vandemere in Scotland Daisy Montgomery lives a horrific life due to her cruel Cheapside London stepmother Mona and malevolent stepsisters (Perdita and Cassandra). She dreams of a Prince Charming coming to her rescue, but knows that inanity only occurs in fairy tales not for someone like her. When she finds a note that says she has a Godmother Lady Pinckney, she writes in hope of a recue. Instead of her Godmother responding, the grandson Viscount Charles Thorpe does.

Cut off from his family funds and after a bet with his now married Impossible Bachelors pals (see Cloudy with a Chance of Marriage) Charles travels to the Highlands hoping for an adventure of a lifetime. She wants to save her home but he lacks the funds to do so. As they fall in love, the pair persuades a neighbor to use his estate to host a gala for outsiders to experience the Highlands.

The latest Impossible Bachelor historical romance stars a Cinderella heroine and a not so charming Prince Charming. Filled with jocularity yet containing a deep poignancy as the lead couple finds they are more than just a victim and a wastrel, fans will appreciate the tale of a Godmother giving her goddaughter a viscount to love and be loved in return.

Harriet Klausner

Death, Taxes and a French Manicure-Diane Kelly

Death, Taxes and a French Manicure

Diane Kelly

St. Martin’s, Nov 1 2011, $7.99

ISBN: 9780312551261

IRS Agent Tara Holloway works white collar tax frauds. Her small town kick butt Texas attitude works great when dealing with violent Dallas offenders. Working a case with agent Eddie Bardin, she is forced to fire her gun at menacing felon Battaglia, shooting a box cutter knife from his hand. Thus in spite of her cut arm, she earns the rep of Annie Oakley.

Tara’s boss Lu “Lobo” Lobozinksi assigns her first solo task to investigate a granny complaint that ice-cream truck salesman Joseph “Joe Cool” Cullen failed to report his profits from selling illegal drugs to teenagers. Her other major inquiry is much more complex than a drug dealer. She scrutinizes the dealings of financier Michael Gryder and banker Stan Shelton, who appear to be running a Ponzi scheme. The problem is her best friend Brett Ellington is Shelton’s landscaper.

The first exciting Tara Holloway IRS investigative tale is an entertaining story that stars a tomboyish mascara wearing noir heroine who appreciates a French manicure. The story line is lighthearted fun as Tara works the Dallas beat along with other agents. Although some readers may dislike the wisecracking asides especially when facing danger; the story line is filled with humor and satire as the IRS does not care whether the gains are legal only that Sam collects its share.

Harriet Klausner

The Black Stiletto-Raymond Benson

The Black Stiletto

Raymond Benson

Oceanview, Sep 5 2011, $25.95

ISBN: 9781608090204

Septuagenarian Judy Talbot resides in the Woodlands Nursing Home in Riverwoods, Illinois. “Uncle” Thomas gives Judy’s forty-eight year old divorced son Martin the accountant a journal. Judy gave the dairy to Thomas to give to Martin if the time is right.

Martin is stunned to learn his ailing mom claimed she was the famous pop hero of five decades ago the Black Stiletto vigilante. Judy explains what happened in 1958 when she was twenty years old. Being very tall and athletically gifted with incredible senses she dedicated herself to fighting evil. Disbelieving her account though there is great detail and he knew his mom was a terrific athlete, the skeptical Martin changes his mind when seventy-eight years old Roberto Ranelli, just released from prison after a fifty-two year stay, arrives to threaten Judy, her son and her granddaughter.

This exciting thriller moves back and forth between Martin reading his mom’s diary and Judy’s description of her exploits; bridging the five decades is Ranelli who has a voice in both decades. The story line is over the top of Wrigley Field, but fun to read especially the fast-paced exploits as accounted by a young female heroine.

Harriet Klausner

Not Your Ordinary Faerie Tale-Christine Warren

Not Your Ordinary Faerie Tale

Christine Warren

St. Martin’s, Nov 1 2011, $7.99

ISBN 9780312357221

Following the interspecies marriages of her BFFs, New York reporter Corinne D’Allesandro vows not her. However, her editor assigns her on a paranormal investigative tale. Her jaunt around Manhattan leads her to Queen Mab’s chief of the guards Luc Macinaw. He searches for the missing royal nephew who is causing havoc that could endanger the Faerie realm.

Luc is stunned that his destined heart mate is human. Corinne disregards her pledge to never date an Other, while her buddies tease her for joining their ranks after she proclaimed never her. They team up on his quest and in the boudoir, but love may not be enough to counter the threat to both their lives.

This engaging Other urban fantasy is a fun investigative tale though the paranormal elements seem somewhat diminished in comparison to the previous entries (see The Big Bad Wolf and Black Magic Woman). Corrine is a terrific heroine while Luc is her prefect mate even if she has to renege on her vow. Fans of the saga will relish Corinne falling in love as she was adamant that never her.

Harriet Klausner

Hearts of Smoke and Steam-Andrew P. Mayer

Hearts of Smoke and Steam

Andrew P. Mayer

PYR, Nov 22 2011, $16.00

ISBN 9781616145330

In New York, the murder by the Automation of Sir Dennis Darby has devastated the Paragons as he was their social compass (see The Falling Machine). Without the moral guidance of Sir Dennis, the group falls apart as each of their superegos supersedes their superhero team.

Sarah “the Adventuress” Stanton possesses the clockwork heart of the late killing Automaton who was her friend. She hopes to rebuild him while supervillain Lord Eschaton has other plans for the Paragons and society as a whole, but needs the clockwork heart to rebuild the Automaton. When The Children of Eschaton assault Sarah, Italian immigrant Emelio Armando rescues her. The genius inventor planned to live an invisible life with his sister in New York to avoid his troubles in the Old Country, but has fallen in love with Sarah, whose adversaries target him and his sibling to get at her.

The second The Society of Steam Steampunk Victorian fantasy is an exciting fresh tale starring a beleaguered heroine who gave up affluence in high society to join the poor Paragons of Sir Dennis. The Fortified Steam concept serves as the base for this alternative nineteenth century New York. However, Emelio’s choppy dialect may seem genuine but slows down the pace of an overall faster than the speed of steam pulp escapism thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, October 30, 2011

A Study in Sherlock-Laurie R. King (Editor) and Leslie S. Klinger (Editor)

A Study in Sherlock

Laurie R. King (Editor) and Leslie S. Klinger (Editor)

Bantam, Oct 25 2011, $15.00

ISBN: 9780812982466

The sixteen contributions are over all quite good with no clinkers though few are outstanding enough to stand out in the vast Sherlock universe. Alan Bradley opens the overall engaging homage to the great detective of 221B Baker Street with a throwback tale that comes across as if Mr. Doyle wrote You’d Better Go in Disguise” if you want to catch a killer in a park. Tony Broadbent as a modern day taxi driver give a fare “As to an “Exact Knowledge of London” tour in a strange but enticing entry. In 1901 President McKinley meets with Holmes in Buffalo with a strange request (see “Starling Events in the Electrified City” by Thomas Perry). An Anglophile FBI agent investigate the murder of an American in London, only to learn the path from Baker Street to Leavenworth is through Pennsylvania in “The Bone Headed league” by Lee Child. The Margolin brothers have Baker Street trivia guru New Yorker Ronald Adair on the moors solving “The Adventure of the Purloined Paget.” Colin Cotterill provides a refreshing amusing take with his animated “The Mysterious Case of the Unwritten Short Story.” Finally Jacqueline Winspear ends the collection with an ailing lad inspired after reading Holmes to solve the case with “A Spit of Detection.”

Harriet Klausner

The Time Traveler's Guide to Medieval England: A Handbook for Visitors to the Fourteenth Century-Ian Mortimer

The Time Traveler's Guide to Medieval England: A Handbook for Visitors to the Fourteenth Century

Ian Mortimer

Touchstone, Oct 25 2011, $15.00

ISBN: 9781439112908

Using the refreshing format of a travel guide, medieval historian Dr. Ian Mortimer provides a profound look at living in fourteenth century England. Besides a sense of touring, armchair travelers will learn much about diverse lifestyles beyond the typical warriors, farmers, and religious leaders as society is not just abuser-abused relationships. Part of the fun is how easily Dr. Mortimer explodes contemporary myths about life six centuries ago starting with the belief that squalor was the norm although cottage smog was a norm. With insight into medicine (or lack of) as the plague devastates England and the continent, readers will learn how people worked to put food on the table and the in your face with profanities sermons. With corpses hanging on the edge of town and in water supplies, history fans will appreciate a tour of Medieval England with Dr. Mortimer as a super guide who amongst other tidbits provides “Ten Places to See in London” a city of approximately 40,000 as an example of what to expect in this strong “Handbook for Visitors to the Fourteenth Century.”

Harriet Klausner

Marina Melee-Lynne M. Hickey

Marina Melee

Lynne M. Hickey

Casperian, Jun 1 2011, $15.00

ISBN: 9781934081327

George Marshall learns the true meaning of three strikes and you’re out when his lawyer Uncle Bernie loses his third divorce case. His father, CEO of Marshall Enterprises, is sick of his playboy son so he ends his allowance as the firm’s alleged CFO.

Deciding to leave Texas, George sails the Caribbean where he learns that American expatriate Tracker is selling his Sao Jorge marina at a cheap price in order to go home. George buys the marina unaware of its deficiencies. He soon is overwhelmed with code violation fines and local operating fees that leave him teetering near bankruptcy. As he sleeps with the governor's wife, George hires three maybe capable locals while his mom hires a private investigator to check in on what trouble George has fallen into this time.

Filled with mirth, Marina Melee is a wonderful Caribbean adventure starring a silver spoon slacker who matures while stumbling away from home as he did back in Texas. Character driven by a strong cast to include George, his family, the islanders, and his mom’s hirelings, fans will appreciate this jocular tale of an “Ugly” American in Sao Jorge.

Harriet Klausner

A Pinch of Love-Alicia Bessette

A Pinch of Love

Alicia Bessette

Plume, Oct 25 2011, $15.00

ISBN: 9780452297111

In Wippamunk, Rose Ellen Roy, known better as Zell, remains grieving for her deceased husband Nick, who died one year ago while on a volunteer mission of relief in New Orleans following Katrina. With her dog Ahab at her side, she wears his camouflage apron as a means of remaining connected to Nick though she does not cook, but cannot enter the attic filled with their memories.

A fire caused by Zell’s first use of the stove since Nick’s death brings Garrett Knox, his replacement at the Wippamunker to her place. She informs the Chief that the cooking fire was caused by the postman bringing her Meals in a Cinch with Polly Pinch. Zell says she was baking cookies for her new neighbor, Garrett’s motherless nine year old daughter Ingrid. The two females soon plan to enter the uplifting cooking contest that the Polly Cinch flyer proclaimed.

This is an interesting character study of a woman who is beginning to move through the phases of grief due to her new neighbors especially the somewhat too precocious Ingrid encouraging her to bake meals and treats. The cast is fully developed including the late Nick and even Ahab has a personality as readers will enjoy Zell baking a new recipe for life though she still feels survivor guilt.

Harriet Klausner

Gideon's Sword-Douglas Preston & Child

Gideon's Sword

Douglas Preston & Child

Vision/Grand Central, Oct 25 2011, $7.99

ISBN: 9780446564311

On her dying bed, the mother of art thief Gideon Crew informs him his late father was framed and murdered by his Army Intel Officer superiors to take the fall for their blunders. She makes him take a death bed pledge to avenge his dad. As he did as a thief, Gideon prepares for his mission and after a few years completes his mother’s last plea.

Gideon takes his first vacation since he leaned the truth about his father. While he is fly-fishing, a Department of Homeland Security agent, who observed how meticulous and successful Crew was on his family vendetta, offers him money to obtain the plans of a special weapon of mass destruction being brought from China to New York. Having doubts about the case, the Fed throws in the fact that Crew is dying from an incurable disease. Meanwhile the Chinese hire Nodding Crane to regain their WMD plans.

This is an entertaining over the top of the Empire State Building thriller starring an intriguing hero with a depressing history. The enemy agent is cartoonish as a super killing machine, but he adds fun to the tale that initially will remind readers of the TV show Revenge until DHS recruits Crew. Readers will root for Crew as he battles a powerful adversary for the plans to a WMD.

Harriet Klausner

Resuscitation-D.M. Annechino


D.M. Annechino

Thomas & Mercer, Oct 11 2011, $14.95

ISBN: 9781612180717

Two years ago, San Diego homicide detective Sami Rizzo confronted a serial killer who she felt took away her zest for police work (see They Never Die Quietly). After resolving the case but not before the predator tortured her, she resigned. Sami remains conflicted over quitting the department while struggling with her relationships with loved ones.

Sami learns that a corpse has been found in Mission Bay Park with the sternum surgically cut. Other bodies also sliced with physician’s precision also surface as if someone was conducting medical experiments. Like SDPD, Sami believes a serial killer is loose and she wants in on the case.

A child abuse victim, heart surgeon Dr. Julian seeks a cure for atrial fibrillation, which killed his mother. However, his grant request is denied, which spins his already psychosis into an obsessive compulsive need.

Sami’s super second case is an exhilarating thriller due to the lead antagonists as D.M. Annechino provides an insightful comparative analysis of how two people cope radically different with traumas. Ironically Julian’s rationale that the end justifies the means makes him the more fascinating character as his defense rings authentic especially since 9/11. Although there are too many subplots involving family members, fans will appreciate this entertaining thought provoking police procedural.

Harriet Klausner

11/22/63-Stephen King


Stephen King

Scribner, Nov 8 2011, $35.00

ISBN: 9781451627282

In Lisbon Falls, Maine, Al Templeton, owner of Al’s Diner, discovers a temporal portal that enables a traveler to go back fifty-three years to September 9, 1958 at 11:58 a.m. Each time a person enters the time hole, they go to that same moment, but no matter how long they remain in the past, they return to the present having lost only two minutes while history is altered.

High school English teacher Jake Epping tests Jake’s theory, but when he returns he finds his previously healthy friend dying from lung cancer and admitting he has gone back in time trying to prevent the JFK assassination. With no family to speak of, a lonely Jake agrees to complete Al’s mission though he assumes Oswald did not work alone. Jake tests the concept by intervening in the family of a night student of his who faced a tragedy back in 1958. He soon learns history prefers to return to the original reality though he tries to prevent 11/22/63 from happening.

This is an engaging time travel thriller in which Stephen King makes a strong case that Oswald worked alone, a key element in the plot for conspiracy believer Jake to accept. The story line is action-packed with the changes in history such as cigarette smoking attitudes cleverly devised. Part of the fun is debating the possibility of the changes being reasonable as Mr. King provides an entertaining tale.

Harriet Klausner

Halo: Glasslands-Karen Traviss

Halo: Glasslands

Karen Traviss

Tor, Oct 25 2011, $15.99

ISBN: 9780765330406

By 2553, the war between the Sangheili Covenant and the Unified Earth left billions dead and planets destroyed, but the worst of the combat seems over. The Covenant stands on the brink of civil war between the purist rebels of the Servants of Abiding Truth fundamentalists and the leaders who led the race the Covenant to collapse. Unified Earth President Dr. Ruth Charet sends Office of Naval Intelligence Serin Osman accompanied by linguisitic Professor Evan Phillips to foster the internal hostilities of the enemy by dealing with the Sangheili insurrection leader the Arbiter Avu Med ‘Telcann.

OSI Admiral Parangocky dispatches a Kilo Five unit to Onyx, a planet destroyed during the hostilities. The military want to capture scientist Dr. Catherine Halsey who broke the law when she created the Spartans. She, Chief Mendez, Spartans and Spartans III survive in a Forerunner slipspace. Meanwhile the threat to humanity comes from within the Unified Earth confederacy.

This is an exciting post Halo 3 science fiction thriller that grips fans of the game saga from start to finish. Although there are too many major subplots going on as Karen Traviss sets in motion the opening act of a trilogy, readers will enjoy seeing another aspect of the Spartans who were created for war, but must either die or adapt to potentially peace.

Harriet Klausner

Mecha Corps-Brett Patton

Mecha Corps

Brett Patton

Roc, Dec 6 2011, $7.99

ISBN: 9780451464316

The Union and The Corsair Confederacy are on the brink of war, which makes decaying earth the perfect training ground for the biomechanical-riding mecha training ground. The trainees prepare to fight against their enemy: The Corsair Confederacy Matt Lowell has lived on colony ships all his life so he welcomes the respite of training on this hellhole planet. He conceals his secret agenda for why he joined the Mecha corps as he plans to use the neural link inserted in his body which connects him to the Mecha vehicle to find and kill the Corsair Pirate who murdered his father.

Training is abruptly ended when the Corsairs attack a Union planet killing millions of civilians. Matt and his training comrades in arms are deployed to the hidden Mecha world to train on the Demons, the latest generation of Mecha. Matt recognizes the orb where the leader of the pirates is, but when they arrive with the coordinates, the unit finds the planet under Corsairs assault. Desperate, Matt devises a counter-attack that either will destroy the Union or neutralize the vicious adversary. They also decide to go after the Corsair leader in a do or die mission.

Brett Patton has written a thrill a minute military science fiction starring a fascinating hero who learns in training to be part of a cohesive unit which requires him to give up for now his personal goal. Readers also observe the politicians who use and sacrifice Black Ops agents to further their ambitions. Filled with twists and secrets that are not all revealed in this action-packed story line, fans will enjoy sparing into combat with the Mecha Corps.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Puppy That Came for Christmas: How a Dog Brought One Family the Gift of Joy-Megan Rix-

The Puppy That Came for Christmas: How a Dog Brought One Family the Gift of Joy

Megan Rix

Plume, Oct 25 2011, $14.00

ISBN: 9780452297487

In her early forties, Megan and Ian Rix wanted a baby, but even fertility treatments seemed to fail. Rather than mope, they train golden retriever pups as Helper Dogs for people with disabilities. However, six months as “foster” parents to Emma, followed by Freddy broke their hearts when the canines moved into their permanent homes. Ready to quit as trainers, Traffy The Puppy That Came for Christmas, joins the household. However Traffy remained a permanent member of the Rix household.

With an obvious nod to John Grogan's Marley and Me, Traffy is indeed the dog who brought joy to the Rix family. Well written, canine lovers will appreciate Megan Rix's account of how much happiness a dog that is part of a loving family brings to the bonded household.

Harriet Klausner

Deliciously Sinful-Lilli Feisty

Deliciously Sinful

Lilli Feisty

Grand Central, Dec 1 2011, $7.99

ISBN: 9780446571555

Phoebe Mayle took over her family owned Green Leaf café in Redbolt, California, but her cooking incompetence has her fearing she will put the restaurant out of business soon. She desperately needs a chef so she hires British expatriate Nick Avalon currently of Los Angeles in spite of his unsavory reputation.

Over the next couple of months, the pair argue over the menu as he loves butter and she prefers organic cuisines that the café is known for. Nick muses how much he feels like he belongs in the small town, but also fears his attraction to his employer; as relationships end. Phoebe also struggles with her needing her chef, but expects him to ride his hummer into the sunset sooner than later while also trying to be there for her grieving brother whose wife recently died.

With a nod to the movie No Reservations, Deliciously Sinful is an entertaining culinary romance starring two seemingly opposites falling in love in the middle of nowhere. The amusing lighthearted is fun to read as love appears to not be enough to keep the big city Brit and the small town Californian together.

Harriet Klausner

Hot Water-Erin Brockovich and C.J. Lyons

Hot Water

Erin Brockovich and C.J. Lyons

Vanguard, Nov 8 2011, $25.99

ISBN: 9781593156848

Following the death of her lover Cole, the father of her nine year old son David who suffers from cerebral palsy, A.J. Palladino returns to her hometown, Scotia, West Virginia. The environmental activist partners with attorney Elizabeth Hardy on environmental investigations. Owen Grandel wants to hire the famous A.J. to persuade protestors that his nuclear power plant is safe. The million dollar fee will help care for her disabled child.

Ignoring her values A.J. accompanies Owen to his plant in South Carolina. Her actions upset David who detests his mom selling out because of his condition. The tweener also overhears his grandfather plotting to gain custody of him. He turns to family friend Sheriff Ty to counter the diabolical lethal scheme of his grandfather. In South Carolina, as a hurricane bears down on the state, a fanatic wants to use the reactor to trigger Armageddon.

With the recent nuclear mess in Japan, Hot Water is a relevant environmental thriller that grips the audience once A.J. and Owen meet. The heroine is caught between her values and her son’s economic needs, which add realism to the mix. Although the detracting grandfather plot is over the top of Sassafras Mountain, the clean safe nuclear energy issue makes for a fabulous A.J. environmental thriller (see Rock Bottom).

Harriet Klausner

A Deadly Penance-Maureen Ash

A Deadly Penance

Maureen Ash

Berkley, Nov 1 2011, $14.00

ISBN: 9780425243367

In a freezing February in 1203, Serjeant of the Castle Garrison Ernulf walks the ramparts when he discovers the corpse of visitor Aubrey Tercel, part of the retinue of Peternille de la Haye, sister of the hereditary castellan Nicolaa de la Haye. The victim was obviously shot by a specially made longbow that Nicolaa’s late father gave her. Since the sheriff Gerald Camville is away, Ernulf informs Richard Camville, the son of Gerald and Ernulf. Richard and Ernulf conduct a preliminary investigation before telling Richard’s mom, aunt and cousin Alinor de Humez. They send for the coroner Pinchbeck who arrives to collect a fee for the death, but also claims that he is busy so Richard should investigate.

Nicolaa asks the Templar Preceptor d’Arderon if Knight Bascot de Marins can help with a homicide inquiry as he has solved murder mysteries before (see Shroud of Dishonor and Murder for Christ’s Mass) Thus he comes to Lincoln Castle to team up with Richard and Alinor, and assisted by Gianni who he brought with him from the Italian streets. The obvious culprit is Simon Adgate the furrier who’s much younger wife Clarice acts like her lover died. However, the case proves much more complicated with the roots born in 1177.

For the first quarter of the latest Templar Knight mystery, Bascot does not appear as Richard and Ernulf start the investigation. The four detectives make a wonderful team as their discussions are intelligent and relevant. Fans of medieval cozies, set in a vividly described background in which readers will feel the cold, will enjoy A Deadly Penance.

Harriet Klausner

Moonsinger’s Quest-Andre Norton

Moonsinger’s Quest

Andre Norton

Baen, Nov 1 2011, $12.00

ISBN: 9781451637564

“Flight to Yiktor.” In the lawless slums of the Limits, Farree the hunchback alien has no friends except for Togger the war-beast he telepathically communicates with. Lady Maelen the psychic Moonsinger asks his name and he replies Dung. She insists he is Farree who has no idea how he ended up on this lethal planet. Maelen and Free Trader Krip Vorland take Farree and Togger with them as they journey to her planet Yiktor while enemies pursue them.

“Dare to Go a-Hunting.” Farree has come a long way since Lady Maelen rescued him as his wings came out of his misshapen body. Krip has found wings like Farree’s in a marketplace. With his friends, Farree begins his journey to find any of his species.

This is a reprint of the exciting books three and four in the super Moonsinger saga which focuses more on Farree than on the stars of the first two tales (see Moon of Three Rings and Exiles of the Stars) although they play key roles. The fast-paced Flight in Yiktor feels like a transition tale that is enhanced by having the fascinating conclusion Dare to Go a-Hunting (with ties to some other Andre Norton outer space thrillers) in the same omnibus collection although that also shows a rather radical change in the hero’s personality. Still these terrific two tales are entertaining thrillers.

Harriet Klausner

Immortal Rider-Larissa Ione

Immortal Rider

Larissa Ione

Grand Central, Nov 22 2011, $7.99

ISBN: 9780446574471

As the world turns ugly, The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse ride once again. One brother Reseph has turned into Pestilence as his agimortus broke his seal, but another Ares was saved by his fiancée Cara Thornhart (see Eternal Rider). A third rider Limos, though she, Ares and Thanatos defeated Reseph-Pestilence for now, fears she will fall to the dark too as Satan demands she become his wife and her seal if broken frees Famine.

U.S. Army R-XR solder Arik Wagner attends the engagement party of Ares and Cara. He walks outside onto a beach to get away from super-powered a-holes, but the object of his penis follows him. Limos challenges him to fight, which leads to a kiss. His final thought was her shouting at him not to say her name. The other two horsemen explain to human Aegis leader Kynan Morgan that an angry jealous Satan has captured Arik for kissing his bride and will torture him in Hell until he says her name, which will make him one of the lost minions. Limos cuts a deal with Pestilence to save the world and Arik though her cost is her soul.

The second Lords of Deliverance romantic urban fantasy is a superb post apocalyptic thriller that grips the reader from the first apparently fatal kiss to the final confrontation. The story line is fast-paced and contains the twist of a Horsewoman as Famine. The cast is fully developed and the twisting story line is loaded with action at time fueled by betrayal. However, it is the dark world of Larissa Ione that readers will want to ride alongside of the Horsemen (and horsewoman) of the Apocalypse,

Harriet Klausner

Destined-P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast


P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast

St. Martin’s Griffin, Oct 25 2011, $18.99


Seventeen years old Zoey Redbird feels safe now that she is back in the Tulsa House of Night and being with her Guardian Warrior Stark. She still reels from the Vampyre High Council condoning Neferet’s evil actions and allowing the malevolent one to return as the High Priestess at Tulsa’s House of Night. Zoey and Neferet know it is not over between them.

Meanwhile after fallen guardian Kalona freed him, Nyx the Goddess has not just forgiven Rephaim the Raven-Mocker; she turned him into a human so he can be with the love of his life Stevie Rae at Tulsa’s House of Night. As Neferet sets in motion a chaotic revenge plan against Redbird and the teen’s friends, she also has a new vendetta with her former ally Kalona.

This is a powerful entry as young adult fans better understand what motivates the good, the bad and the ugly. Action-packed yet character driven (by much of the key cast) Zoey quickly realizes her hope for sanctuary in order to heal especially emotionally proves false as she is quickly caught in another Neferet monstrous scheme.

Harriet Klausner

Virtual Virgin-Carole Nelson Douglas

Virtual Virgin

Carole Nelson Douglas

Pocket, Nov29 2011, $7.99

ISBN: 9781439167793

Paranormal investigator Delilah Street saved the life of her lover Ric Montoya, but apparently he obtained some of her silver skills in the process. The former Fed Ric brought to life Maria, the silver robot from the classic sci fi movie Metropolis (see Silver Zombie). Lilah feels for her rival for Ric’s affection as Maria the CinSim robot is a virgin and will remain a virgin forever. Maria is the property of the owner of Metropolis, mysterious albino rock star Snow.

Ric and his former FBI partner Leonard Tallgrass battle the Immortality Mob, who run a zombie commodity exchange. At the same the powerful demonic drug lords see an opportunity to change Las Vegas into their image with Maria as the engine. While dodging paranormal psychopaths, Lilah and Ric must prevent the demonic take over of Sin City.

The latest Delilah Street Paranormal Investigator is an exhilarating thriller as the heroine, her lover and his partner battle the wicked in Post-Millennium Revelation Las Vegas. Although it behooves fans to read at least Silver Zombie, Virtual Virgin is a strong action-packed entry yet Carole Nelson Douglas also raises question of ethics and values.

Harriet Klausner

The Storm That Is Sterling-Lisa Renee Jones

The Storm That Is Sterling

Lisa Renee Jones

Sourcebooks, Nov 1 2011, $6.99

ISBN: 9781402251597

Renegade soldier Sterling Jeter is a take the hill at any personal cost warrior. His current assignment is to keep NASA astrobiologist Rebecca Burns, who he knew and admired in high school over a decade ago, safe from rebel leader Adam Rain and his Zodius super soldiers. Knowing she is dying from lung cancer, Becca comes out of her three month medical treatment in Germany to return to her home in Houston. Waiting for her at her door is Sterling whose GTECH senses warn him of a Zodius assault.

He protects her from the abduction attempt and explains why he and his Special Forces unit needs her help with an addictive drug made from an alien DNA sample found in the 1950s. Sterling vows to keep the woman he adored as a teen safe and help her find a cure. Rebecca soon discovers the experimental treatment has her addicted to the new drug, but also possesses new skills. As the enemy Zodius ramp up the attacks, Sterling and Rebecca must trust in their love for one another to survive the ordeals.

The second Zodius romantic science fiction (see The Legend of Michael) is a superb second chance at love thriller. Loaded with action as the enemy keeps on coming, fans will root for the lead couple to Lifebond, but to complete the ritual means reaching a safe zone and curing her cancer. The Storm That Is Sterling is a great tale.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, October 28, 2011

Destined-P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast


P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast

St. Martin’s Griffin, Oct 25 2011, $18.99


Seventeen years old Zoey Redbird feels safe now that she is back in the Tulsa House of Night and being with her Guardian Warrior Stark. She still reels from the Vampyre High Council condoning Neferet’s evil actions and allowing the malevolent one to return as the High Priestess at Tulsa’s House of Night. Zoey and Neferet know it is not over between them.

Meanwhile after fallen guardian Kalona freed him, Nyx the Goddess has not just forgiven Rephaim the Raven-Mocker; she turned him into a human so he can be with the love of his life Stevie Rae at Tulsa’s House of Night. As Neferet sets in motion a chaotic revenge plan against Redbird and the teen’s friends, she also has a new vendetta with her former ally Kalona.

This is a powerful entry as young adult fans better understand what motivates the good, the bad and the ugly. Action-packed yet character driven (by much of the key cast) Zoey quickly realizes her hope for sanctuary in order to heal especially emotionally proves false as she is quickly caught in another Neferet monstrous scheme.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Hollows Insider: New Fiction, Facts, Maps, Murders, and More in the World of Rachel Morgan-Kim Harrison

The Hollows Insider: New Fiction, Facts, Maps, Murders, and More in the World of Rachel Morgan

Kim Harrison

Harper Voyager, Oct 25 2011, $25.99

ISBN: 9780061974335

Obviously this fabulous compilation targets fans of Kim Harrison’s Hollows realm going beyond the filter of the bounty hunter Rachel Morgan. The Hollows are ruled by the Interland supernatural species while the humans struggle to survive in a realm in which we are at the bottom of the food chain. This tome provides the rules, insight into spells, descriptions of the various species and a lot more including a murder mystery. Profiles of Banshee, demon, elf, fairy, gargoyle, ghoul, leprechaun, pixy, troll living and undead vampires, were, witch and warlock sum up the Ineterlanders. Additionally there is insight and biographical information about Rachel and other recurring characters like Ivy. Throw in maps, charms, memos, journal articles and much more as Kim Harrison gives a marvelously monster tour of everything Hollow in this super guidebook.

Harriet Klausner

Brazen-Margo Maguire


Margo Maguire

Avon, Nov 29 2011, $7.99

ISBN: 9780062018410

In 1816 widow Lady Christiana Warnick’s parents and brothers are in Italy mourning the death of their brother Lang Jameson in a ship explosion. Christina has received her second blackmail note having paid the first from someone who insists Lang lives. She is practicing target shooting when Gavin Briggs arrives seeking the estranged granddaughters, Christina and Lily Hayes, of elderly ailing Lord Sunderland. Christina accidently shoots him. Gavin ignores the wound and explains her relationship to Sunderland. She asks if he can locate anyone which he says yes. She asks him to come to London to help her find Lang. After London, Christina agrees to go to Windermere to meet the grandfather she never met as he kicked her pregnant mom out of his house. He mentions the heir Lord Chetwood is nasty having already tried to kill Lily.

Gavin needs the reward money to buy a place for his sister and baby niece to live since their father tossed them out for her getting pregnant out of wedlock. He also remains hurt that his fiancée Lady Amelia married someone else while he served in the military. While Christina and Gavin head to London, he knows he wants her but accepts he cannot have her as the granddaughter of a duke is way above his station. Still they make love though both agree this is a bad idea.

The lead couple is a strong pairing of star-crossed lovers while the Regency woman in peril story line is entertaining and the Lang mystery cleared up with a nice spin. Although a coincidence involving the magistrate helps the lead couple and Gavin ignores his bullet wound, readers will enjoy this entertaining historical romance.

Harriet Klausner

Behind the Seams-Betty Hechman

Behind the Seams

Betty Hechman

Berkley, Nov 1 2011, $24.95

ISBN: 9780425241424

The Tarzana Hookers crochet group is excited as one of their members, actress CeeCee Collins has made a comeback with insiders talking Oscar. CeeCee is excited with appearing on the popular Barbara Olive Overton Show where her niece Nell works as a production assistant. Although the movie star is wary that she has to cook a dish, Molly Pink and other Hookers mentor CeeCee.

While the Tarzana Hookers sit in the audience, Barbara interviews CeeCee until Adele starts shouting that crocheters deserve equal time with knitters. Adele and Molly, who tried to get the outspoken Hooker to sit, are removed from the auditorium by segment producer Robyn Freed. Nell brings a latte to Robyn who lectures her for not bringing her sweetener. Nell gets it and Robyn sips her cold coffee only to fall down dead. Detective Heather leads the homicide investigation in which the only suspect is Nell. As Nell is placed on leave, CeeCee asks Molly, who has solved mysteries (see You Better Knot Die) to investigate. Molly begins her inquiry fascinated by a photo on the victim’s desk in which a person has been cut out.

The latest Tarzana Hookers amateur sleuth is an entertaining tale although the whodunit for much of the story line plays second fiddle to the Behind the Seams look at the group. Nell is a delightful protagonist who is in denial as to how much trouble she is in. Cozy fans will enjoy this lighthearted whodunit as CeeCee trusts Molly to extract Nell from going to prison while Adele keeps screaming for Crocheters to unite.

Harriet Klausner

Under Attack-Hannah Jane

Under Attack

Hannah Jane

Kensington, Nov 1 2011, $7.99

ISBN: 9780758258939

Her new boss at the Underworld Detection Agency in San Francisco wants supes only so one Executive Assistant Sophie Lawson, the human immune to the paranormal, expects to receive the pink slip shortly although she wonders if EEOC will protect her rights against firing due to ethnic origin. The thought of unemployment disturbs Sophie as she loves what she does.

Her sometimes boyfriend Alex Grace the fallen angels asks Sophie to help him obtain the Vessel of Souls before someone else obtains the relic that he believes will restore him his wings. Ophelia the fallen angel also wants the artifact. She believes the best way to win the prize is to cause issues for Sophie. As the paranormal are murdered related to the search, Sophie distrusts the fallen angel or any other supe possessing the Vessel of Souls. To her shock, Sophie finds the clues take her to her family’s history.

The second UDA urban fantasy (see Under Wraps) is a delightful amusing yet taut thriller. The heroine struggles with the fear of losing her job while on the dangerous hunt for a relic in which she does not quite understand its significance but knows that fallen angels want it so she comprehends the implication. The investigation is terrific across the streets of San Francisco while balanced by the satirical jocularity of life as a supe different from the Hollywood portrayal and no reader will look at a bathroom the same way.

Harriet Klausner

The Hunters-Theresa Meyers

The Hunters

Theresa Meyers

Zebra, Nov 1 2011, $6.99

ISBN: 9781420121247

The Jackson Brothers (Winchester, Remington, and Colt) are chips off the old block as they like other family members hunt down vampires and demons. They rely on the steam gizmos created by brilliant inventor Marley Turlock.

The sulfuric smell means to Colt riding his clockwork horse, the supernatural is crossing in much greater numbers than before; which also implies a hole in the barrier between the realms. Colt knows he will have to face Lucifer’s older brother the vampiric demon lord Rathe the fallen archangel. Desperate he summons a demon to help him close the schism. Lily the succubus who wants to become human again arrives. Filled with desire and struggling to focus on the mission rather than just her body, Colt knows his soul is already lost to Lily; he is unaware her heart belongs to him.

This steampunk western romance is a fast-paced exhilarating fantasy starring two delightful star-crossed lead protagonists. Much of the fun is with Turlock’s gadgets like the freeze machine. With a wonderful climatic confrontation, readers will relish this exciting thriller while looking forward to more Jackson brothers’ tales along with further inventions by Turlock.

Harriet Klausner

Supernatural: Bobby Singer’s Guide to Hunting-David Reed

Supernatural: Bobby Singer’s Guide to Hunting

David Reed

It/HarperCollins, Sep 6 2011, $14.99

ISBN: 9780062103376

Bobby Singer cannot believe what is happening to him as he suffers from rapid accelerating memory loss. Three days ago he was in Ashland, Wisconsin on a hunting assignment before driving to Sioux Falls. Somehow he awakes in his home confused with how he got there and struggles with things like opening his tumbler. Fearing he will lose what is left of his memory, Bobby writes down a guide to hunting so that the dwindling others like Sam and Dean will have something to help them when they are hunting. This is his legacy if he can remember to write it.

He considers calling Rufus, but he is gone. Bobby thinks back to Ashland where he recalls Sam and Dean were also hunting the Banshee that was terrorizing the Northern Wisconsin town. They don’t answer their zillion cellphones. Still Bobby remembers the banshee had with it a liquid woman who wanted his head on a platter. As they took care of the banshee using an iPhone, Bobby next found himself on his couch wondering how he got there and what happened to his memory. His Chevelle is entangled with another car and on its windshield is written Karen, the wife he loved and lost.

This is an entertaining supernatural thriller that uses an intriguing technique to tell the story line and provide insight into the realm. The key cast mirrors the personalities on a TV show though there is somewhat less camaraderie between the brothers than for instance in John Pasarella's entry Night Terror. Still fans of the show will appreciate David Reed’s unique entry as Bobby tries to learn what happened to him while at the same losing his memories as to whom he is.

Harriet Klausner

Alien Proliferation-Gini Koch

Alien Proliferation

Gini Koch

Daw, Dec 6 2011, $7.99

ISBN 9780756406974

Earthling Katherine “Kitty” Kat-Martini is carrying the child of her husband Alpha Centaurion Commander Jeff Martini. Other females are also carrying the hybrid fetuses. No one truly knows what the babies will be like.

However, once baby Jamie is born, Kitty’s insides recover, but she and her spouse find their newborn is a prodigal infant with unheard of skills that has him and his peers targeted for abduction by those who want to exploit them. At the same time someone tries to assassinate the CIA Extra-Terrestrial Division Chief Reynolds and Kitty’s mom Presidential Terrorism Control Unit Angela at a time when Alpha and Airborne members vanish. Meanwhile Kitty has begun to display superpowers, which she will need once she understands what the Martini family and others face.

The fourth Kitty Katt science fiction (see Touched by an Alien, Alien Tango and Alien in the Family) is a fast-paced action-packed thriller. The cast is solid as readers will believe the two species live and mate; while the Jamie effect provides fascinating spins. Though still satirically jocular, there is a serious unexpected twist that makes Alien Proliferation a strong entry.

Harriet Klausner

Count to a Trillion-John C. Wright

Count to a Trillion

John C. Wright

Tor, Dec 20 2011, $25.99

ISBN 9780765329271

In AD 2221 in independent Texas, eleven year old Menelaus Illation Montrose listens to the elders discuss the old future that never happened. He wishes he could confront the perpetrator who caused destruction of what the old future should have been. From reading and listening, Menelaus knows The War of Religion and the War of Economics devastated the planet that now is equivalent to that of the late nineteenth century as the oil is gone and the electric grids no longer work while the Infertility Plague went pandemic. Menelaus especially distrusts political and religious leaders who make holy claims while each day his world deteriorates.

In AD 2235, Menelaus the duelist for hire has a chance to escape Texas a place he loathes. He joins a space expedition traveling to a nearby system in order to obtain antimatter from an alien relic. To increase his intelligence, Montrose undergoes an experiment, but it leaves him in a coma for years. When Montrose finally awakens he is a super genius and learns his former space mates used the antimatter to conquer Earth. As he translates the alien language on the relic, he learns of the planetary debt his comrades remitted to the aliens and fears what will happen when they collect their IOU.

Extrapolating contemporary trends, John C. Wright writes an action-packed futuristic science fiction. The story line starts slow as Mr. Wright provides the backdrop of life in the twenty-third century; however once the angry Menelaus joins the space mission, the story line soars into a fast-paced thriller. Menelaus is an interesting protagonist who goes from an acrimonious gun for hire into a save the world hero on an earth that is not looking for a hero.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, October 16, 2011

A Study in Sherlock-Laurie R. King (Editor) and Leslie S. Klinger (Editor)

A Study in Sherlock

Laurie R. King (Editor) and Leslie S. Klinger (Editor)

Bantam, Oct 25 2011, $15.00

ISBN: 9780812982466

The sixteen contributions are over all quite good with no clinkers though few are outstanding enough to stand out in the vast Sherlock universe. Alan Bradley opens the overall engaging homage to the great detective of 221B Baker Street with a throwback tale that comes across as if Mr. Doyle wrote You’d Better Go in Disguise” if you want to catch a killer in a park. Tony Broadbent as a modern day taxi driver give a fare “As to an “Exact Knowledge of London” tour in a strange but enticing entry. In 1901 President McKinley meets with Holmes in Buffalo with a strange request (see “Starling Events in the Electrified City” by Thomas Perry). An Anglophile FBI agent investigate the murder of an American in London, only to learn the path from Baker Street to Leavenworth is through Pennsylvania in “The Bone Headed league” by Lee Child. The Margolin brothers have Baker Street trivia guru New Yorker Ronald Adair on the moors solving “The Adventure of the Purloined Paget.” Colin Cotterill provides a refreshing amusing take with his animated “The Mysterious Case of the Unwritten Short Story.” Finally Jacqueline Winspear ends the collection with an ailing lad inspired after reading Holmes to solve the case with “A Spit of Detection.”

Harriet Klausner

Dangerous Alterations-Elizabeth Lynn Casey

Dangerous Alterations

Elizabeth Lynn Casey

Berkley, Nov 1 2011, $7.99

ISBN: 9780425244616

At the local clinic, town librarian Tori Sinclair and the members of the Sweet Briar Ladies Society provide support to the knitting circle’s matriarch Rose Winter as she receives treatment for rheumatoid arthritis. Tori is taken aback by another patient at the clinic. Two years ago in Chicago, she was engaged to Jeff Calder but caught him with a friend. She broke it off and took the library position in Sweet Briar, South Caroline. Now Jeff’s Great-Aunt Vera is at the clinic, but soon dies from heart failure.

Lynn, the wife of Vera’s stepson Garrett, is at the clinic; she suffers from breast cancer. She asks Tori to call Jeff as she knows Garrett will not since he hates his relative. Tori does the right thing and even picks up the womanizing personal trainer Jeff at the airport. When Jeff asks for a second chance, Tori rejects him as she has a caring beau schoolteacher Milo and the friendship of the sewing circle life rafts. Though in great shape, Jeff dies of a heart attack while jogging, which is not a shocker since it runs in his family. However, because of a recent physical, the police treat Jeff’s death as a murder with family members and Tori as suspects. The sewing circle sisters investigate the death.

The latest Southern Sewing Circle amateur sleuth (see deadly Notions) is an entertaining whodunit with the investigative subplot coming late. Instead much of the story line focuses on the Sweet Briar Ladies Society members especially Tori with Jeff in town and Milo away at a convention. With a deft look at health care insurance, fans will enjoy this fun regional cozy which includes how to knit a comfort pillow.

Harriet Klausner

The Talk Show Murders-Al Roker and Dick Lochte

The Talk Show Murders

Al Roker and Dick Lochte

Delacorte, Dec 6 2011, $26.00

ISBN 9780385343701

Wake Up, America! Morning show is on location in Chicago. Retired CPD cop Edward “Pat” Patton, the extreme right wing true crime blogger, guests appears on the show. He accosts the co-host Billy Blessing; whom he knew when the renowned chef was a two bit con artist Billy Blanchard who was sent to prison for fraud and implies he also knows what happened to Billy’s partner in that failed Detroit sting from twenty-five years ago.

After prison, Blessing did a complete makeover but concealed his sordid past. Patton threatens to out him on his blog unless Blanchard pays for silence. However, someone murders Patton and soon other homicides associated with the show occur. Still fearing exposure, Blessing investigates hoping to expose the killer.

The latest Blessing amateur sleuth (see The Morning Show Murders and The Midnight Show Murders) is an entertaining mystery in which the protagonist’s dark past deftly comingles with his lighthearted asides. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Patton and Blessing have that first heated discussion and never slows down until the final spin. Ironically, though in danger of becoming the tabloid’s latest celeb scandal and being assaulted, kidnapped, and shot at, Blessing knows his biggest tsuris is his attraction to the French actress in town filming.

Harriet Klausner

Claimed-Rebecca Zanetti


Rebecca Zanetti

Kensington Brava, Nov 1 2011, $14.00

ISBN: 9780758259257

Geneticist Emma Paulsen has always protected her empath sister plant physiologist Dr. Cara Paulsen and her four years old niece child Janie. However, Emma lost that role to vampire warrior Talen Kayrs (see Fated) though she still seeks a cure to save her infected sibling and unborn nephew.

Talen’s brother Dage, King of the Realm, wants Emma as his mate. He has waited centuries for her and has no patience when she rejects his mark. To her chagrin, Emma is attracted to the ultimate chauvinist, but rejects his bossy attitude. Meanwhile the enemies of the vampires,, the Kurjans, wants her research and are willing to kill the innocent to obtain it.

Although Dage’s bullying abuse adds realism as he is not a sensual vampire but instead someone used to getting his way, readers will dislike him. Still the story line is action-packed and the sex scenes heated as Dage’s only success with Emma resides in the bedroom. Readers will enjoy the romantic urban fantasy but outside of the mark subplot, no major threads are climaxed.

Harriet Klausner

Devilishly Hot-Kathy Love

Devilishly Hot

Kathy Love

Kensington Brava, Nov 1 2011, $9.95

ISBN: 9780758265876

Annie Lou Riddle left the dirt of the rural south for a chance to make in the fashion industry in the dirty streets of Manhattan. However, to break into the highly competitive field, Annie sells her soul to the devil. She obtains a job as an assistant to the head of Hot! Magazine Finola White, the deviously damning diva. Annie Lou wants out, but to demon kind a contract is a contract.

Detective Nick Rossi investigates the magazine, a hot bed of missing employees; twenty-one have vanished with most being Annie Lou’s predecessors as a magazine assistant position proves hazardous to one’s health. Finola is attracted to Nick so she orders Annie Lou to help her. Nick is attracted to Annie Lou but makes no headway with her as she keeps passing him on to her boss. Annie Lou wants Nick, but wants her soul more than him.

Although the story line is thin, the second Hot! Magazine romantic urban fantasy (see Hot! in So I Married a Demon Slayer anthology) is an amusing triangular from hell frolic. Filled with humor, readers will enjoy this entertaining tale as hearts and souls are on the line in the world of high fashion.

Harriet Klausner

Fifth Gospel: The Odyssey of a Time Traveler in First Century Palestine-William Roskey

Fifth Gospel: The Odyssey of a Time Traveler in First Century Palestine

William Roskey

iUniverse, Aug 5 2011, $26.95

ISBN: 9781462028573

In 1958 United States Secret Service Special Agent Clarence David Jones flies 2000 miles to Nellis AFB, Nevada to meet with Captain Al “Lightfoot” O’Brien on a top secret project. Jones picked O’Brien after incredibly researching the aviator to become a passenger of the most serendipitously guarded mission since perhaps the Manhattan project. The man who reports only to President Ike explains why O’Brien is perfect even as he knows more about his chosen one than Lightfoot knows about himself.

Jones and Ike brief O’Brian on the latest in physics in which speeds faster than light enables someone to go back in time. From Oak Ridge next year, O’Brien is to go back to first century Palestine seeking the Holy Grail and making contact with Jesus of Nazareth.

Besides a strong cast and deep historical anchors in the late 1950s and in ancient Palestine, the key to this super thriller is William Roskey supports his exciting premise of Einstein meets Wells with physics formulas. Fast-paced from the moment Jones sells O’Brien on the mission, readers will want to soar back in time to first century Palestine.

Harriet Klausner

In The Bleak Midwinter-M.R. Sellars

In The Bleak Midwinter

M.R. Sellars

E.M.A. Mysteries/Oak Tree, Nov 1 2011, $16.95

ISBN: 9780979453380

On December 22, 1975, Santa sexually assaulted her at school. He threatened to kill her parents if she told them what he did. That night while her mom purchased groceries, her little sister wanted to visit Santa. Merrie Callahan never wanted see Santa ever again, but was forced to escort Elizabeth to visit him. He turned out to be her predator and Merrie vanished for thee days.

Decades later, the residents of Hulis, Missouri are living out a nightmare just as they did when Merrie was abducted. FBI Special Agent Constance Mandalay investigates. She learns that though thirty-five years passed since the rapes, Merrie believes it is December, 22, 1975 before Santa brutalized her. Sheriff Skip Carmichael explains to the Fed that every anniversary of Merrie’s trauma leads to her falling into a catatonic state for three days. On Christmas Day in the shack where Merrie was sodomized, someone chops up a man using an axe exactly like Merrie did and the body parts are in the same place when she counterattacked her abductor years ago. Constance senses the townsfolk conceals something critical from her; when the FBI Agent learns what it is, her belief system is shaken to the core in spite of her case work with Wiccan practitioner Rowan Gant.

M.R. Sellars has written an exhilarating supernatural mystery that will have readers wondering what is going on in Hulis, and when we figure that out, the author twists the entertaining police procedural into a new direction. Constance has been a recurring support character in the RGI whodunits (see Blood Moon), but proves she can run the show as a pragmatic independent investigator who prefers denial of the supernatural though the supporting evidence in this case and her work with Gant forces her to accept an inconvenient truth.

Harriet Klausner

Acquainted With The Night-Piper Maitland

Acquainted With The Night

Piper Maitland

Berkley, Nov 29 2011, $9.99

ISBN: 9780425243633

After the fire made her a young orphan, Caroline Clifford grew up with her Uncle Nigel, a noted archeologist who took her on digs where she learned to curse in seven languages. She became a Ph.D. candidate in medieval history but dropped out to take a position as a London tour guide.

Caroline receives a call from British Embassy representative Sir Geoffrey McKitterick informing her that someone murdered Nigel at the Perperikon dig site in Bulgaria. Geoffrey made arrangements for Caroline to fly to Sofa and then train to Kardzhali near the murder scene. At Heathrow she meets biochemist Dr. Jude Barrett who also is flying to Bulgaria and shows her letters proving he corresponded with Nigel. In Kardzhali, he explains his mission is to rid the world of vampires, which she scoffs as insane. When she looks at Nigel’s possessions, she notices enigmatic anagrams on her uncle's passport. While Wilkerson Pharmaceutical hunts Caroline, she interprets Nigel’s cryptic clues and with Jude travels to Meteora, Greece. There she begins to learn the truth about an artifact she owns, an ancient arcane text and a prophecy of a war between the dark and the light with her as the catalyst.

This is an exciting action-packed Brownian fantasy with several twists that keep the reader obsessed with a need to know what next. Caroline is a courageous beleaguered individual who has several rivals converge on her; as each knows her value while the audience (and the heroine) slowly learns why they want her. Fast-paced, Acquainted With The Night is a super action-packed tale as Caroline finds out the world as she has known it is an illusion but that facade is on the verge of cataclysmic crumbling.

Harrier Klausner

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Talking to the Dead-George Noory and Rosemary Ellen Guiley

Talking to the Dead

George Noory and Rosemary Ellen Guiley

Forge, Oct 11 2011, $24.99

ISBN: 9780765325389

Throughout recorded history, people have tried to communicate with the deceased. Up into the Industrial Revolution of the nineteenth century, most contact attempts were through a medium. Machines like the telephone and the telegraph began to change that need of a medium. Edison stated he was a believer in the ability to talk to the dead and implied he was working on a telephone like device. Newer technologies like computers have increased the belief of many that one day two way communication will occur.

Radio host George Noory and paranormal expert Rosemary Ellen Guiley provide a fascinating look at the ancient and recent past, the present, and the possible future for the living and the dead talking to one another. Although the two authors affirm there is no scientific validated reliable proof of such contact, they provide interesting anecdotal entries as Mr. Noory has done on his radio show. Although a four page appendix explaining how to experiment on your own seems more an inane afterthought, Talking to the Dead is an enjoyable look at the history of possibly the final communication frontier.

Harriet Klausner

Christmas Note-Donna VanLiere

Christmas Note

Donna VanLiere

St. Martin’s, Oct 25 2011, $14.99

ISBN: 9780312658960

Accompanied by her two small children (Emma and Ethan) while her husband is overseas with the military, Gretchen Daniels moves into an apartment building to be closer to her divorced mom Miriam and to her job as a hygienist. On their first day in their new place, they meet their neighbor reticent Melissa McCreary, who barely acknowledges the Daniels family. Melissa is an urban hermit who owns almost nothing and relates with no one.

The landlord seeks Melissa who is not home. He asks Gretchen to inform Melissa that her mother Ramona died and she needs to clear out the apartment. Gretchen offers to help Melissa with the difficult task. The apartment is a disaster of junk with no items of value except personal stuff. However, a note reveals to a stunned Melissa that she has two siblings. Gretchen and Melissa begin a search.

The latest Donna VanLiere Christmas inspirational (see The Christmas Shoes, The Christmas Blessing and The Christmas Hope) is a terrific tale of two females bonding as friends. Each gains much from their friendship. With a great late twist, fans will enjoy this entertaining holiday tale by one of the best authors at providing good will to all.

Harriet Klausner

Sunrise on Cedar Key-Terri DuLong

Sunrise on Cedar Key

Terri DuLong

Kensington, Nov 1 2011, $15.00

ISBN: 9780758268655

A decade ago Grace Stone and Beau Hamilton broke up. She moved to Cedar Key, Florida where she opened up "Coffee, Tea and Thee". Recently she convinced her beloved Aunt Maude to move from Brunswick to Cedar Key. However, while helping her relative, Grace learns her coffee shop and her apartment were destroyed in a fire.

Maude invites Grace to live with her in the historic "Coachman House" and partner with her in turning the large home into "The Blue Moon Knitting Retreat". Grace and Lucas Trudeau, the newcomer who owns the Book Shop, meet and are attracted to one another. Meanwhile her estranged sister Chloe arrives, which in Grace’s mind means trouble and nastiness as she and her sibling have never gotten along.

This is a warm tender contemporary tale starring a strong cast who bond one stitch at a time. The amazing Grace is the glue that holds the plot together as she reinvents herself for the second time. The secondary characters enhance the engaging novel as knitting brings together a caring sisterhood. Terri DuLong provides a charming Cedar key sunrise.

Harriet Klausner

Ed King-David Guterson

Ed King

David Guterson

Knopf, Oct 18 2011, $26.95

ISBN: 9780307271068

In 1962 Seattle, thirtyish actuary Walter Cousins’ wife Lydia suffers a nervous breakdown. He hires teenage English exchange student Diane Burroughs as an au pair to take care of his two kids, four years old Barry and three years old Tina. A week into her employment, he is sleeping with her. Diane becomes pregnant but vanishes with her newborn.

For years afterward, Walter sends child support payments to Diane for a child he has not seen. He remains ignorant to the fact that Diane abandoned her infant. Alice and Dan King adopt Ed; he is raised in a nurturing reformed Jewish family. As a teen Ed gets into a fatal highway incident, but walks away shaken only and has an affair with a high school teacher. He becomes a brilliant mathematician working on the field of search. Diane and Ed meet at the same exhibit she attended years earlier with Walter and his kids. They are attracted to one another even as his firm Pythia becomes mega. However, his genome mapping leads him to much of the truth about who he is not.

This is a brilliant satirical modernization of Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex in which the Gods are computers and fate is avarice fueled by happenchance that brings womanizing Walter, Diane the con artist, and Ed the older woman lover with a Freudian Oedipus Complex together. The three protagonists are not likable individuals yet their human foibles make for a fascinating, often amusing lampooning of contemporary relationships.

Harriet Klausner

Pleasure Bound-Anne Rainey

Pleasure Bound

Anne Rainey

Kensington Aphrodisia, Nov 1 2011, $14.00

ISBN: 9780758269027

Deanna Harrison and Jonas Phoenix are attracted to each other, but he has kept his distance for years as she is his best friend’s sister. They finally succumb to their years of desire and have the most incredible weekend of sex in their lives in his Miami beach house.

Both want more in their budding relationship, but each is hesitant how far to tread. However she becomes upset with him when Jonas the private investigator warns her to back away from her current interior designer client as he is dangerous while she resents his intrusion until he is proven right, maybe dead right.

This is a heated erotic romance with the lead couple making up for lost time. Inside the boudoir the story line is torrid as the protagonists come to life in all sorts of positions. Outside the bedroom, they seem somewhat flaccid even when danger turns their relationship into a perilous triangle. Still sub-genre fans will enjoy Anne Rainey’s contemporary as the heat is on.

Harriet Klausner

Mastiff-Tamora Pierce


Tamora Pierce

Random House, Oct 25 2011, $18.99

ISBN: 9780375814709

Holburn the Dog was killed when he foolishly attacked a nest of slave guards. His mother blames his death on her son’s betrothal to a fellow Dog Beka Cooper; while her peers, her partner, her superior and the rest of his family knows Holburn acted in a suicidal way with his assault. Instead of mourning her loss, Beka feels free and guilty for feeling free.

King Roger the “randy one” and his second wife Queen Jessamine need a special top Secret Hunt with a team having the best scent hound. Thus Beka and her partner Matt Tunstall accompanied by her animal friends (Pounce the supernatural cat and Achoo the scent hound), his lover Sabine the lady knight and Farmer Cape the Kennel mage begin a search and rescue Hunt for the kidnapped heir to the throne of Tortall

The third Beka Cooper young adult fantasy police procedural (see Bloodhound and Terrier) is a terrific thriller due to the lead protagonist. Her peers recognize her strengths as she believes in doing what is right though that is often difficult to gauge. The story line opens with the stunning realistic funeral of her fiancé and never slows down as the heroine and her retinue Hunt clues for the abducted heir in what is a superb kidnapping investigative tale.

Harriet Klausner

1Q84-Haruki Murakami; translated by Jay Rubin and Philip Gabriel


Haruki Murakami; translated by Jay Rubin and Philip Gabriel

Knopf, Oct 28 2011, $30.50

ISBN: 9780307593313

Thirty years old Aomame caught the cab in Kuta heading inbound towards Tokyo. However, an accident shuts down the expressway. The cabby suggests Aomame whose name means green peas to try something different. Bored the passenger agrees; she leaves the taxi stuck on the elevated highway traffic jam to walk down stairs into a rabbit hole.

Thirty tears old Tengo the bored math teacher is the ghostwriter for teenage girl Fuka-Eri's bestseller Air Chrysalis. He too disappears.

Aomame realizes she is not in her Tokyo as the cops are uniformed and supplied with different guns; she calls her new land 1Q84. Though she wonders how to go home, an animated Aomame becomes involved in criminal activity. Meanwhile Tengo obsesses on a quest to find his childhood friend Aomame before the rules that she apparently is shattering in this Tokyo turns into pandemic chaos while the Sakigake cult hunt for this infamous female.

This is an omnibus translation of a powerful epic trilogy as Haruki Murakami explores the degrees of connection and separation between people within an Alice-Orwellian Tokyo. The story line is fascinating as the plot purposely meanders as it mirrors relationships. Still readers will enjoy Tengo’s quest to save Aomame from her becoming the trend setter on her 1Q84 world.

Harriet Klausner

The Dark at the End-F. Paul Wilson

The Dark at the End

F. Paul Wilson

Tor, Oct 11 2011, $25.99

ISBN: 9780765322838

In Long Island Otherness avatar Rasalom has set in motion a diabolical scheme to force the Change. The avatar knows that if the planet’s Lady dies one more time, she cannot return as she has twice before, which will enable the Otherness to invade an unprotected earth. He also prepares the second coming of Dawn Pickering’s dead baby to mentor as the face of the Change.

Jack wants to destroy his enemy, but is bound by the vow he made to his teacher Glaeken. However, his mentor is dying and Jack will not only replace him, but will go after his evil enemy. Former Rasalom lieutenant Ernst Drexler allies with his long term nemesis Jack as he knows what the Change will mean to his well being. Meanwhile as the time nears, Jack knows he must kill Rasalom and save the Dawn baby or die trying.

The final Repairman Jack urban fantasy is a great ending to a powerful long running series. The story line brings closure to all the major threads in a dynamic finish. With the cosmic apocalyptic war between the Ally and the Otherness on battlefield earth, ironically and brilliantly, the climax is human.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Three Gifts: A Story About Three Angels and the Baby Jesus-Kathie Lee Gifford and Michael Storrings (Illustrator)

The Three Gifts: A Story About Three Angels and the Baby Jesus

Kathie Lee Gifford and Michael Storrings (Illustrator)

St. Martin’s, Oct 25 2011 , $16.00

ISBN: 9781250000941

God summoned three angels to go sing a song rejoicing the birth of his son. The Lord also directs his angels to deliver a trumpet, a star and a special surprise. The heavenly messengers find the newborn Son with his mom in a manger in Bethlehem where shepherds already gathered to worship the child.

Enhanced by charming illustrations that pay homage to the collaborators’ beautiful Angel Block ornaments, this delightful preschool Christian poem is a wonderful look at the birth of the Baby Jesus. Readers of all ages will be aglow with the heavenly message while wondering what the third gift is. Kathie Lee Gifford also shines not just for an appreciative tale, but for her inspiring deed to donate “her proceeds to Childhelp non-profit organization dedicated to helping victims of child abuse and neglect.”

Harriet Klausner

The Day Before Happiness-Erri DeLuca and Michael Moore (Translator)

The Day Before Happiness

Erri DeLuca and Michael Moore (Translator)

Other Press, Nov 1 2011, $16.95

ISBN: 9781590514818

During the war, Naples building super Don Gaetano befriends a boy. When the lad errantly kicks his soccer ball, he climbs a drainpipe to retrieve it. There he sees Anna a Jewish girl inside a room hidden from view except his lofty position.

Residents of Naples want to move on now that WWII is over although signs of the combat and atrocities are everywhere. The orphaned youngster realizes his mentor Don, who was in danger of Fascist execution during the war, hid a Jewish child there. He hopes his Anna will return soon. When she does, he knows she is his love, but though they share a heavenly tryst, she has a gangster boyfriend and lost her mind as her madness comes from her years of concealment.

The Day Before Happiness is not an easy read though it is a well written late 1940s historical thriller. The story line is character driven by four people and with a nod to The Diary of Anne Frank, Erri DeLuca captures the battered soul of a people, a country and a continent struggling to deal with turning blind during the Holocaust.

Harriet Klausner

Me, You-Erri DeLuca and Beth Archer Brombert (Translator)

Me, You

Erri DeLuca and Beth Archer Brombert (Translator)

Other Press, Dec 1 2011, $12.95

ISBN: 9781590514795

In the 1950s the teen spends the summer with his uncle and Nicola on a Neapolitan barrier island. The lad stays mostly with Nicola who uses the uncle’s boat to fish and taught the sixteen year old how to fish.

He meets Caia, a Yugoslavian war orphan who was rescued from Nazi atrocities that left her family dead by Italian soldiers. She is spending the summer on the island with a friend. Nicola warns him to be careful with his affections. Still he falls in love with Caia who is Jewish and begins to explore Italy's role in World War II in which his father was a soldier. The Slav and the Italian teen forge a tender relationship as she allows him to use the Yiddish pronunciation of her name "Chaiele" and dubs him her Tateh as he feels a need to protect the vulnerable orphan. When he gets into a fight with German tourists singing the SS anthem he takes it as an affront to his girlfriend but his cousin Daniele intercedes. Meanwhile he increasingly gets more and more frustrated as his demands about the war remain unanswered except by the stoic fisherman.

This is a powerful look at the psychic aftermath of the Nazi reign of terror on Europe. The Italians feel ashamed for what happened but would prefer Caia as a surviving reminder of Never Forget atrocities to leave, and the family of the protagonist who narrates the drama prefers he stop asking questions on events they want buried and forgotten. While the Americans debate the merits of the three New York centerfielders, Europe struggles to deal with turning blind during the war and wanting to remain myopic afterward re the Holocaust.

Harriet Klausner

The Cats in the Doll Shop-Yona Zeldis McDonough and Heather Maione (Illustrator

The Cats in the Doll Shop

Yona Zeldis McDonough and Heather Maione (Illustrator)

Viking, Nov 10 2011, $14.99

ISBN: 978670012794

In New York City, the letter arrives from Russia written in Hebrew informing Mama and Papa that their eleven year old niece Tania is coming to live with them as her Mama obtained a position as a maid but with no children allowed. Whereas eleven years old Anna is exhilarated with a cousin her age for at least a year until her aunt can come too; her nine years old sister Trudy and her smarty pants teenage sibling Sophie are not quite as exuberant with the prospect.

As they anxiously wait to show their cousin their parents’ store Breittlemann’s Doll Shop, the three sisters tend to an injured kitten they name Plucky; Papa remains adamant no felines in his house as cats are outdoors in the old country. Tania arrives sad and lonely. Anna soon realizes her belligerent cousin is like Plucky unable to communicate and feeling lost without her Mama.

The continuation of the early twentieth century New York Lower East Side tenant family drama (see The Doll Shop Downstairs) is a great middle school historical. The timely engaging story line is character driven by the four young girls and the intrepid cat as readers will enjoy a slice of life while learning how much immigrants have brought to this great nation.

Harriet Klausner

Dangerous Master-Tawny Taylor

Dangerous Master

Tawny Taylor

Kensington Aphrodisiac, Nov 1 2011, $14.00

ISBN: 9780758265654

Camera in hand, private investigator Amanda “Mandy” Thompson follows a cheating husband to a BDSM dungeon to capture pictures of the philanderer. There she meets dom Master Zane. She has never felt the slightest S&M itch but finds Zane somehow controls her libido. Used to other spilling their guts, a surprised Mandy reveals her most innermost sensual desires to her hypnotizing Master.

Zane compels Mandy into a ménage a trois with him, her target and her, but Zane shocks himself when he realizes he wants no one else touching his Mandy as even his male lover and feeder pales. However, as she surrenders to her need for her Master at the cost of her client’s assignment, he knows he must admit to his beloved sub just what he is.

This is a great BDSM romance starring an intriguing dom and a fascinating sub. The heated story line is fast-paced as readers wonder whether this new relationship, strange to both protagonists, will hold up outside of the dungeon. Although late suspense leads to an implausible climax, readers will enjoy the heated erotic romance between Mandy and Zane.

Harriet Klausner

Triple Shot-Sandro Balzo

Triple Shot

Sandro Balzo

Severn House, Dec 1 2011, $27.99

ISBN: 9780727880796

At the Brookhills Junction Depot in Wisconsin, the owners of Uncommon Grounds Maggy Thorsen and Sarah Kingston are ecstatic as their gourmet coffeehouse appears on the brink of success especially their popular autumn espresso while a chill is in the air.

At the same Sarah the Kingston Realtor is being investigated for a complaint filed by her apprentice Brigid Ferndale. Not long afterward, the smell of a rotting corpse overwhelms the usual pleasant odor of A Cup of Jo. They follow the nasty scent into a room neither knew existed. Inside a closet is the dead body of Brigid. Brookhills County Sheriff Jake Pavlilk investigates the homicide while thinking he is Lassie to Sarah’s Timmy as he likes her but she seems to become brewed in too many homicides. As he works the case in which Sarah is the obvious prime suspect, Maggy also investigates From the Grounds Up.

The latest Thorsen caffeine crime cozy affirms that this series remains one of the best gourmet amateur sleuths on the market. The whodunit is cleverly constructed as sassy Sarah seems to be the solo suspect. Courageous Maggy knows her partner is a hemorrhoid bringer, but would never murder anyone so she sets out to find the real killer. Although their location seems to be a “morgue”, armchair readers will enjoy sipping coffee as Maggy does the leg work.

Harriet Klausner

The Secret in Their Eyes-Eduardo Sacheri

The Secret in Their Eyes

Eduardo Sacheri

Other Press, Oct 18 2011, $15.95

ISBN: 9781590514504

In Argentina, sixty years old Benjamin Chaparro has retired after three plus decades investigating crime. He knows he is an ancient dinosaur who has seen so much change in his country from the nasty Dirty War period to the cleansing afterward. However, one case remains imprinted in his gut; the one he begins to write a book about.

When Benjamin was in his late twenties back in 1968 as a Palace of Justice deputy clerk, he investigated the brutal rape and murder of teacher Liliana Colotto. His inquiry had three results. First he identifies the killer Gomez through revealing photos; he kept the case from going cold until four years later he caught the culprit, but corruption superseded justice. Second that fed the raging frenzy of the victim’s husband Morales who lived with one value: avenging his late wife. Finally, though he did everything right except for falling in love with intern Irene Hornos who did not reciprocate his feelings, Benjamin had to flee Buenos Aires for over a decade as connections and corruption made him a target of the execution goons deploying the Dirty war.

This is a translation of a terrific historical Argentinian police procedural that will grip readers with the outcome on the three men linked forever with the death of the young woman. The story line is fast-paced whether the setting is the sexagenarian pondering about his book or the investigation the years in self exile. With a deep dark look at The War Years, readers will understand why the movie version of the novel won Best Foreign Film Oscar.

Harriet Klausner

Getting Lucky-DC Brod

Getting Lucky

DC Brod

Tyrus, Dec 18 2011, $24.95

ISBN: 9781440531989

Freelance writer Robyn Guthrie enjoys her assignments for the Weekly News and Record. However, she is heartbroken when staff reporter Clair dies in a hit and run accident in a side of the road that makes no sense for her to be walking there. Clair’s editor hires Robyn to finish the late reporter’s piece on the Cedar Ridge subdivision; she accepts the assignment with the caveat she will investigate her peer’s death also.

Robyn diligently works both stories while dealing with personal traumas. Her senile mom is losing her memory and driving her crazy while residing in an assisted living facility; and the reporter is not seeing her long boyfriend Mick over the issue of children. Her two stories converge when she follows Clair’s notes and photos as something is insidiously wrong at Cedar Grove. This evil kills parents and children. Robyn develops a plan, but to succeed she needs cooperation from a lot of people wary to get involved.

Dealing with people who break the law on land deals is hard enough, but when these same felons place children in danger to make more money is evil. Robyn’s high school adversary is involved though initially ignorant and tries to make things as right as can be though the horse has left the barn. The storyline focuses on the key characters including a “blackmailing” rogue former EPA field agent and what motivates each to act and react in the way they do.

Harriet Klausner

Borderlands: The Fallen-John Shirley

Borderlands: The Fallen

John Shirley

Gallery/Pocket, Nov 22 2011, $16.00

ISBN: 9781439198476

Engineer Zac Finn takes shortcuts on his projects so he can move onto the next one. He, his wife Marla and their son Cal are on board the Homeworld Bound docked at the Study Station. While his family waits on the ship for him, Zac uses DropCraft to head to an ET crash site in the Borderlands to loot alien artifacts. However, his vessel fails and he crash lands on hostile Pandora while thinking his mission was sabotaged as he transmits back to his astonished family his coordinates so they can mount a rescue. Only the pair is forced to abandon ship in one person lifeboats as the security drones have gone rogue.

Zac fears for his family are superseded when skags come for him. He is recued by people who want to roast him on an open fire. Berl and Bizzy rescue him from being dinner. At the same time slavers seem to have captured Marla and Cal tricks skags and spiderants to fight one another. The Finn family gets their second critical break when Cal runs into Roland the mercenary.

This superb science fiction tale is one of the best tie-ins to a videogame as John Shirley captures the essence of the Borderlands through the fresh futile survival efforts of the separated Finn trio. Rapid rotating between the three action-packed subplots, the solid cast makes for a dark thriller as Roland and his two compatriots try to form a Finn family reunion.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Making Spirits Bright-Fern Michaels, Elizabeth Bass, Rosalind Noonan, Nan Rossiter

Making Spirits Bright

Fern Michaels, Elizabeth Bass, Rosalind Noonan
Zebra, Nov 1 2011, $7.99

ISBN: 9781420108361

"Making Spirits Bright" by Fern Michaels. Melanie wants to adopt the twins made orphans by a car crash. To do so by Christmas, she would need a husband so her plan includes a marriage for the holidays to Bryce. His New Year’s resolution is to remain with his new family.

"Runaway Christmas" by Elizabeth Bass. Heidi the Brooklyn diner owner has had a rough holiday season. However, the biggest surprise is when her grieving for her late mom teenage niece runs from Texas to be with her New York aunt for Christmas. A runaway, a blizzard and a cop turn Heidi’s holiday into one to remember.

"Home For Christmas" by Rosalind Noonan. Single mom Jo needs Santa for her gift shop's Christmas Eve party. She pleads with wounded warrior Sam, a veteran of the Afghan war, to take the role.

"Christmas On Cape Cod" by Nan Rossiter. Maddie agrees to help Asa puppy-sit during Christmas Eve as she has a secret Santa wish involving the troubled teacher.

These are four lighthearted sweet holiday tales that readers will enjoy though none of the lead protagonists are fully developed.

Harriet Klausner

Seductive as Flame-Susan Johnson

Seductive as Flame

Susan Johnson

Berkley, Dec 6 2011, $7.99

ISBN 9780425244906

In 1894 independent Griselda “Zelda” MacKenzie returns home from Brazil after a successful orchid hunting trip. At the Duke and Duchess of Groveland’s gala, Zelda in a strange outfit with odd jewels meets womanizing earl, Alec Munro. Though married to the bitchy Violetta, he makes it clear that he wants the exotic Scottish beauty in his bed. Although bed hopping has become an acceptable activity amongst the Ton unless you are caught, she is attracted to him but has doubts due to his marital status.

However, her desire supersedes her caution. Zelda and Alec make love numerous times as neither can have enough sex with the other. He promises his beloved he will divorce his wife so they can marry. However, both are concerned over the well being of his six year old son Chris, who he loves though he is the offspring of his wife’s first husband.

Although the story line is extremely thin except in the boudoir, fans of Susan Johnson will enjoy her latest erotic late Victorian romance (see Gorgeous as Sin, Sexy as Hell and Sweet as the Devil). The boudoir scenes are scintillating, slow and steamy; while the relatively ethical lead couple is a nice pairing of a feisty female with a philandering married male.

Harriet Klausner

Hickory Smoked Homicide-Riley Adams

Hickory Smoked Homicide

Riley Adams

Berkley, Nov 1 2011, $7.99

ISBN: 9780425244609

In Memphis, Widow Lulu Taylor owns popular Aunt Pat’s BBQ. Lulu hires teenager Steffi Pembroke as a waitress and gives her a room to stay in after her mother the odious pageant coach Tristan tossed her out of their home. Not long after that Lulu, her friend saucy Cherry Hayes, her daughter-in-law Sara and Steffi attend an auction at Tristan’s home. Sara and Tristan get into a heated argument over a portrait the former painted of the latter. Soon after the argument Lulu searches for Sara, but cannot find her; instead she finds the murdered body of Tristan; something the MPD notes is a regular part of her lifestyle (see Finger Lickin’ Dead and Delicious and Suspicious).

The prime suspect is Sara due to the public conflict and a series of bad luck at the wrong time. Sara’s husband Ben worries about his wife even as he arranges a blind date for his mom with popular food blogger Gordon. Lulu refuses to allow the mother of her grandchild to go to jail so with Cherry they begin to investigate who committed Hickory Smoked Homicide.

The third Memphis BBQ Mystery is an entertaining regional amateur sleuth starring a quirky neighborhood cast. Although the mischance that has Sara in peril is way too much of a coincidence, so much so fans will change Murphy’s Law to Sara’s Syndrome, fans will enjoy this fine cozy as Lulu and Cherry find more suspects than ingredients in Brunswick Stew but a final terrific twist adds just the right amount of source to Riley Adams’ fun whodunit.

Harriet Klausner