Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Betrayal-Robert Fitzpatrick & Jon Land


Robert Fitzpatrick & Jon Land

Forge, Jan 3 2012, $24.99

ISBN: 9780765335517

In 1980 Washington, FBI Assistant Director Roy McKinnon assigns one of his best field agents Robert Fitzpatrick to go to Boston to “kick ass”. Fitzpatrick had success in the 1970s in Miami and previously to that worked on the KKK bombings in Mississippi (Burning) and the King assassination. Being Irish-American was the other trait that made him perfect for the job of turning Boston “straight and narrow.” His agenda is to clean out the corrupt field office that went Boston Irish native for three decades and put away Irish mob chief James “Whitey” Bulger and his top enforcer Stephen "The Rifleman" Flemmi. The two murderers killed anyone in their way, gun trafficked with the IRA and had high political and FBI protection. Three years with trying to bring down Bulger and clean the agency led to Fitzpatrick, getting no cooperation, lost his job for allegedly embarrassing the agency. Still he returned to the Mount Loretto Orphanage in Astoria, Queens where he first dreamed of being an FBI agent and visited the gravesite of Father Kenny knowing his mentor would believe he acted honorably.

The timing of this autobiography is sadly perfect with the scandal at Penn State as a reminder that the institution and its entrenched always protect themselves by maintaining the status quo even when that includes covering up horrific crimes. Betrayal provides a well written cautionary realism that reminds the readers that the truly courageous like Agent Fitzpatrick never give up your values in order to keep an organization’s “reputation” safe.

Harriet Klausner

Knit One Pearl One-Gil McNeil

Knit One Pearl One

Gil McNeil

Voice/HarperCollins, Dec 27 2011, $14.99

ISBN: 9781401341671

In Broadgate, England, Jo Mackenzie is the mother of three children (Archie, Jack, and toddler Pearl); all from different fathers. She runs her Gran’s knitting shop and co-owns a tea café with her friend, Connie. Her Gran and Connie's niece Cinzia help her with the kids.

Since Pearl’s father internal photographer Daniel Fitzgerald is gone from her life, she considers recently divorced woodworker Martin "Dovetail" Trent as she likes him. However Daniel returns to take her and the kids on a vacation. She must make up her mind and choose one and leave the other behind.

The latest Broadgate Beach Street drama (see The Beach Street Knitting Society and Yarn Club, and Needles and Pearls) is an amusing tale starring a single mom running a business while seeking a social life. Jo remains an engaging supermom and energetic entrepreneur while the support cast enhances the somewhat thin but entertaining story line. Although there is no growth for Jo or anyone else, fans of the series will enjoy sipping tea and knitting one pearl at a time.

Harriet Klausner

Moonlight in the Morning-Jude Deveraux

Moonlight in the Morning

Jude Deveraux

Pocket, Dec 27 2011, $7.99

ISBN: 9781416509745

They met when she was nineteen and though he was attracted to her, Dr. Tristan Aldredge felt Jecca Layton was too young for him. A few years later, he is excited that Jecca will spend the summer painting at her BFF Kim’s house in his hometown of Edilean, Virginia. She reciprocates his feelings especially in the dark.

As the town doctor and the Manhattan art gallery employee fall in love, each knows their career stands in the way of a permanent relationship. She resides in New Jersey and works in New York where a major opportunity has come her way. He resides in Virginia as the small town’s physician since his father retired. Their passion for each other may not be enough to overcome their passion for their respective occupations.

The latest Edilean contemporary romance (see Heartwishes and The Scent of Jasmine) is an engaging charming tale between geographically impaired lovers. The story line is made fresh by the support cast like Kim and Tristan’s parents who bring love and friendship into the story line. With a surprising final twist, fans will enjoy spending Moonlight in the Morning (and a lot of darkness time) in Edilean.

Harriet Klausner

Susanna’s Choice-Sara Luck

Susanna’s Choice

Sara Luck

Pocket, Dec 27 2011, $7.99

ISBN: 9781451650426

In 1878 business mogul Rab Trudeau arrives from San Francisco in Virginia City, Nevada. He poses as a Great Western Detective Agency investigator; a firm he owns. He wants to know who is responsible for illegal silver mine stock dealings as reported by a B.D. Elliot about his Silver Falcon Mine in the Virginia City Pioneer.

Rab rescues reporter Susanna Ward Kirkland from a runaway wagon. They are attracted to one another although he refuses her request for an interview even as accidents seem to be the norm for the newcomer. As they fall in love while trying to solve the mysteries of the mine and the accidents, Rab’s Nob Hill fiancé Margaret Worthington and Susanna’s future mate Jesse Kirkland the son of the man who rescued her as a child, refuse to give up their intended.

This is a superb Americana romance starring a strong cast especially the lead couple in a vivid setting. The story line focuses on silver fever and the complicated relationship between the affluent businessman with a haunting New Orleans past and the orphan. Fans will enjoy Sara Luck’s fabulous late nineteenth century tale of avarice, honor and love.

Harriet Klausner

The Pleasure of Your Kiss-Teresa Medeiros

The Pleasure of Your Kiss

Teresa Medeiros

Pocket, Dec 27 2011, $7.99

ISBN: 9781439157893

In 1834, Clarinda Cardew sails from England to marry her fiancé Lord Dravenwood, Max Burke in spite of the fact her future brother-in-law Captain Ashton Burke was her first love who deserted her for a fortune. However, Corsair pirates attacked her ship and sold her to a sultan in El Jadida. No ransom has been asked by the sultan. Max rescues his wastrel brother from certain death for cuckolding a powerful sultan. In return he asks Ash to rescue his fiancée Clarinda offering an exorbitant reward, the girl who tormented Ash as a child and he loved as a young adult.

Ash and his sidekick Luca rescue the sultan Zin al-Farouk from assassins. He recognizes the sultan as Frankie from his Eton days. Farouk takes the pair into his palace where his Uncle Tarik shows his disdain for the foreigners. Upon first sight, Ash knows he still wants Clarinda. She on the other hand asks her beloved Farouk why he allows rogues in his home.

The Pleasure of Your Kiss is an entertaining nineteenth century historical romance with an offbeat setting as no one will look at cucumbers in the same way. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Ash realizes who he is to rescue and never slows as the pair fall in love while on a desert adventure. Although much of the support cast is stereotyped and readers will know who the enemy is, fans will appreciate Teresa Medeiros’ sensational second chance romance.

Harriet Klausner

Warrior’s Redemption-Melissa Mayhue

Warrior’s Redemption

Melissa Mayhue

Pocket, Dec 27 2011, $7.99

ISBN: 9781451640878

In the Land of the Faerie in 1294 human time, Elesyria is hysterical when she learns her only daughter Isabella vanished in the World of Man. The Earth Mother tells her that her offspring lives with her SoulMate but not in the time and place Elesyria left her. Heeding the advice of the Goddess she crosses into the World of Man seeking the Tinklers to find out who aided her child.

Clan MacGahan Laird Malcolm MacDowylt feels doomed as the old gods of Asgard must constantly test his mettle. His spouse Isabella is dead and his sister Christiana is held captive by their half-brother Torquil who demands homage and silver from Clan MacGahan. Finally to drive him crazy the old gods send him the untamable shrew Elesyria.

Orphaned very young, Danielle Dearmon of Texas believes fairies are real. Her belief proves correct when she is sent back the Earth Mother seven centuries to Castle MacGahan. She thinks her host the laird is her one true love while he feels guilty how much he wants the opinionated newcomer. Dani’s magic enables Malcolm to survive the ordeal of his odious sibling while her love emboldens him to take the fight to the enemy as he begins to understand Christiana’s destiny.

The latest Melissa Mayhue’s marvelous magical mayhem (see Highlander’s Curse) is a superb time travel fantasy romance starring a twenty-first century Texan and a besieged thirteenth century Highlander-Viking. The fresh story line is fast-paced as Malcolm in the middle as the victim of two kick butt tongue lashers that make his abusive evil half-brother seem like a non in comparison. Readers will enjoy this otherworld medieval thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Heir of Danger-Alix Rickloff

Heir of Danger

Alix Rickloff

Pocket, Dec 27 2011, $7.99

ISBN: 9781439170380

Following the murder of his father seven years ago, Brendan Douglas fled Ireland and remained on the run. He left behind Elizabeth Fitzgerald at the altar to flee assassins while unable to leave behind the horror that haunts his every moment.

Finally, Brendan knows he ran out of time as he must prevent Maelodor the malevolent mage from raising King Arthur from the grave and destroying the world. To do so means retrieving the stone he left behind with his beloved Elizabeth who Brendan believes loathes him; she insists she does detest the dis-honorable one. He arrives in Dun Eyre, Ireland as his Lissie is set to marry Gordon Shaw. To keep her safe, Brendan abducts Lissie though the risk is that she will be in the midst of the fight, but he also needs her when he challenges the evil one.

The third Heirs of Kilronan Regency romantic fantasy (see the Earl of Darkness and the Lord of Shadows) is a terrific tale in which readers will believe they have been transported to 186 Ireland where mortals and Fey reside. The lead couple is a wonderful second chance at love tale; that is if they survive. Fans will appreciate the dark, fervid and deadly Rickloff mythos as the latest Douglas sibling and soul mate battle against impossible odds.

Harriet Klausner

Skirmish-Michelle West


Michelle West

Daw, Jan 3 2012, $25.95

ISBN 9780756407018

In the Essalieyan Empire, the Terafin leader of the House Terafin is dead, a victim of demonic assassination. A power struggle ensues as to who will replace the head of the most powerful House. Former Averallaan street and Undercity urchin Jewel “Jay” ATerafin, encouraged by her late mentor, her den mates and her magical associates (two immortals, the Winter King stag and three giant winged cats who never shut up), considers applying for the vacant position.

Four candidates announce they want the job; Jay is not one of them. Demons stalk and attack her while she deliberates whether she wants the job. Peaceful transition is impossible as each side has human and magical allies that they deploy.

The latest House War political fantasy (see House Name and City of Night) is an engaging thriller as civil war to take charge of the most powerful House has begun. Jay has come a long way since Rath, the late Terafin’s brother, found her (see Hidden City) and brought her to his estranged sister. However, the key to this exciting thriller is the magic feels genuine and lethal as paranormal combat has begun. Although fans will be disappointed in how Jay employs her skills, the demise of a major figure in the previous three entries brings freshness with death a real possibility to anyone in the House War saga.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Ata Bita Pie Cafe: Advice is Free-Bonnie Drury

The Ata Bita Pie Cafe: Advice is Free

Bonnie Drury

CreateSpace, Oct 16 2011, $9.99

ISBN: 9781463517359

After divorcing her controlling cheating spouse Blake the flake, Casey left Seattle and their beloved high school senior son Wyatt to run the Ata Bita Pie Café in her hometown of Hannigan’s Cove near Sacramento. Her internationally famous brother Jake the photographer returns home because he wants a second chance with Widow Nora who he deserted years ago. Nora considers insemination of her kind late husband Ethan’s sperm; but wants nothing to do with Jake who hurt her. Ralph loves his wife Gloria, a waitress at the café; but though she cares for him she misses her wanderlust road days. Zack has loved Casey for years and hopes for a first time around, as he comes home from Alaska to be with his twelve year old daughter Kayla and his very ill former wife Mary. Elderly Miss Birdie the pie lady has a secret she has been warned not to share with anyone while seventeen year old Echo is an abuse victim of her uncle when he gets intoxicated. Advice is free at the café, but anyone who stops learns there is a cost when loving caring relationships form.

This is a warm tender relationship drama starring a strong ensemble cast with the interconnecting hubs being Casey, Nora and to a lesser degree Gloria. The character driven story line engages the readers as the audience follows the highs and lows of each player. Although the next generation (Wyatt, Echo, Kayla and later on Emma) are too precocious, fans will enjoy the lives of the sandwich generation as they form deep second chance at love bonds while caring for one another and the seniors and youngsters they cherish.

Harriet Klausner

The Other Guy's Bride-Connie Brockway

The Other Guy's Bride

Connie Brockway

Montlake Romance, Dec 22 2011, $14.99

ISBN: 9781612181448

In 1897 Lady Althea lies about her grandson and heir driving away Charlotte who she thinks is not good enough to one day replace her. Her angry grandson leaves England, becomes Jim Owen and joins the Foreign Legion while his grandmother grooms his younger brother to become the duke. Jim fears he will soon be dead at the hands of Mahdists so he vows to never act stupid again due to a woman.

In 1905, Egyptologist student Genisse Braxton quits her job as a researcher to Professor Tyneborough when he rejected her belief she found a clue to the location of the lost city of Zerzura. Mildred Whimpelhall becomes seasick on her journey to meet her fiancé, Colonel Lord Pomfrey, Commander of Fort Gordon in the Sahara near Genisse’s destination. Mildred leaves the ship to take a train while Genisse in Cairo becomes Miss Whimpelhall to obtain a guide. Her escort to her “fiancé” is Jim who owes Pomfrey a favor for saving his life in 1897. “Mildred” leaves with Jim who flees Cairo after a fight with the dangerous LeBoeuf. While “Mildred” lands into one perilous situation after another, in Cairo two groups follow the pair with different agendas

This is a great Edwardian era romantic adventure starring a brave woman who seems to be a trouble magnet and a confused man caught in the dilemma of how does a “ghost” deal with falling in love with The Other Guy’s Bride. Fast-paced and loaded with action this outstanding tale also contains delightful light humor enhancing the insightful look at living one’s life to fulfill your desires or your perception of your family’s. Readers will envision Hepburn-Grant teaming up in Connie Brockway’s fabulous historical.

Harriet Klausner

Some Like It Hot-Louisa Edwards

Some Like It Hot

Louisa Edwards

St. Martin’s, Nov 29 2011, $7.99

ISBN: 9780312534394

New Yorker Danny Lunden joins his family and his team as they compete in Chicago in the Rising Star Chef Competition to be shown on the Cooking Channel. Eva Jansen replaces her father as the director of the competition. Both have in common a deep need not to let down their loved ones.

They meet and are instantly attracted to one another. Danny finds her fascinating with her take charge vulnerability but also thinks she is a spoiled rich brat; Eva finds him kind especially since he seems to ignore her affluence, but also thinks he is a know it all New Yorker. However, her father scrutinizes her every move so they agree to do nothing personal. As her dad wants the melodramatic embarrassments like food fights and affairs aired, Eva wonders if ratings are all that matter.

This is an engaging culinary romance starring two heated opposites in love. In some ways the kitchen combat and trysts supersedes the romantic subplot. Still sub-genre fans will enjoy the second Lunden Rising Star Chef tale (see Too Hot to Touch) as Danny and Eva fall in love amidst food fights and family drama.

Harriet Klausner

Explosive Eighteen-Janet Evanovich

Explosive Eighteen

Janet Evanovich

Bantam, Nov 22 2011, $28.00

ISBN: 9780345527714

New Jersey bounty hunter Stephanie Plum looked forward to her vacation in Hawaii with her lover. However, nothing goes right especially when her other love interest arrives to join her as a big surprise. Stephanie flies back to Newark with a stopover in Los Angeles leaving behind two raging testosterones.

In Trenton, FBI Agents Lance Lancer and Sly Slasher demand Stephanie give them an envelope she may have inadvertently picked up while flying home. She calls Morelli to check if they are legit and her mom to pull out of the trash the photo and envelope she tossed out there. Her mom says this was pickup day. Two more Feds show up demanding the photo or her lawyer. Meanwhile back in L.A. Dr. Richard Crick who carried the photo and sat next to her on the leg from Hawaii rests peacefully in a LAX garbage can. Besides the FBI, other miscreants want the photo that Stephanie’s grandma tossed out. Things are just as ugly at Vincent Plum Bail Bonds.

This Plum thriller contains the usual zaniness but the main plot is thin; and what happened with Ranger/Morelli in Hawaii obviously stayed in Hawaii as this segue is disappointingly underdeveloped. Filled with madcap scenarios fans of the series will enjoy the heroine’s photographic memory (not) while also singing the Lovin’ Spoonful’s Did You Ever Have to Make Up Your Mind?

Harriet Klausner

Cobra Guardian-Timothy Zahn

Cobra Guardian

Timothy Zahn

Baen, Dec 6 2011, $7.99

ISBN: 9781451637656

Governor-General Chintawa seeks the only female Cobra Jin Moreau Broom. Her second son Lorne pretends ignorance though he knows his mom and older brother Merrick illegally fought on the side of the Qasamans against the Troft invaders (see Cobra Alliance). Merrick remains on Qasama receiving treatment for severe injuries while Jin travels with Siraj Akim the Qasaman Djinn to Aventine. Chintawa assigns Lorne to find his mother; he also directs his new assistant Nissa Gendreves to help him.

Troft ships arrive at Aventine where they release deadly spine leopards. Meanwhile a family reunion on Caelian occurs as the Cobra and the Qasaman become tentative allies in the hostilities against the Troft who are not entirely monolithic combative as the Cobra World Council previously thought.

The Cobra War Book 2 (see Cobra Alliance) is a terrific military science fiction tale as the conflict with the Qasaman has somewhat abated due to the heroism of the mother-son team. The Troft show a schism as not all their houses are behind a second war. Although the characterizations are very thin, the Jin-Siraj relationship is fascinating. Still with plenty of personal courage, fans of the saga will enjoy the latest escapades of those deployed in space military soldiers.

Harrier Klausner

Galactic Courier-A Bertram Chandler

Galactic Courier

A Bertram Chandler

Baen, Dec 6 2011, $12.00

ISBN: 9781451637632

“Star Courier.” Former Federation Survey Service Commander John Grimes establishes the Far Traveler Couriers. As owner and solo operator he makes deliveries from his home base of Tiralbin to Boggarty on board his Little Sister vessel until the Shaara capture him and display him as a low level beast.

“To Keep the Ship.” Little Sister remains under arrest to be auctioned to pay Grimes’ fines on Pangst for taking native animals to the New Syrtis Zoo. Grimes needs money so he takes the tedious job on the Bronson Star. However, when he rescues Susie and her friends; they reciprocate by taking over the cruiser and threatening to kill him unless he cooperates.

“Matilda's Stepchildren.” On the Bronson Star, Grimes transport muckraker Fenella Pruin so that she can do a story on the sex industry of Venusberg. The pair mutually detest one another though the boring voyage is made fun by fighting for top potion. Grimes ends up in the midst of a clean-up operation and meets Underpeople Shirl & Darleen

“Star Loot.” After Little Sister is sold, Grimes buys Epsilon Scorpii; which he rechristens as Sister Sue. He joins the El Doradan Navy as a privateer.

The third exciting John Grimes omnibus saga (see To The Galactic Rim and First Command) reprints his adventures as a Galactic Courier. There is somewhat a sameness in tone as Grimes meets females fatales who "help” him step into the crosshairs of dangerous rogues. The best two tales are the fresh Star Courier in which Grimes starts his new career and Star Loot in which much of what is going on is deftly tied together with an exciting climax. Fans of Grimes will relish his time as a courier.

Harriet Klausner

Changeling Dawn-Dani Harper

Changeling Dawn

Dani Harper

Kensington Brava, Jan 1 2012, $14.00

ISBN: 9780758265180

Archeologist Kenzie Macleod is a lone wolf shapeshifter because she has never forgotten her running away from raging human vigilantes when she was a fledgling in Scotland. That near fatal incident remains imprinted on her brain to trust no one even her kind as she conceals from both species what she truly is.

In the real final frontier of the Alaskan wilderness, Kenzie is driving towards a locale near Chistochina where she has permission to dig for Ahtna tribal artifacts. She gives a ride to Alaska Department of Fish and Wildlife expert Josh Talarkoteen who was stranded with two flats. When a cub becomes endangered, c he fretfully thinks back to the nightmare of another child in Afghanistan. Josh soon comes to Kenzie’s camp to search for the lost cub that he knows is a Changeling just like Kenzie is as he belongs to the Tahltan tribe who read auras. As they try to help the frightened distrusting Changeling, Josh and Kenzie fall in love, but each has traumas to overcome while others have a different outcome in mind.

The latest Macleod werewolf romantic suspense (see Changeling Moon and Changeling Dream) is a superb thriller due to strong cast and location. Both protagonists suffer from Post traumatic Stress Disorder which motivates them to save the child while others in the area kidnap the young Changeling. Relationship driven with whether to trust or not to trust the key feelings, fans will enjoy this terrific taut tale.

Harriet Klausner

Well-Tempered Clavicle-Piers Anthony

Well-Tempered Clavicle

Piers Anthony

Tor, Nov 22 2011, $25.99

ISBN: 9780765331342

In Xanth, Picka Bones lives a rather mundane life. His daily highlight is playing tunes on his ribs and exploring cemeteries with his sister Joy’nt.

The two skeletons meet three former pets (Tweeter the bird, Midrange the cat, and Woofer the dog) who recently crossed over from Mundania. The outside trio challenges the bony siblings to discover their magic. Thus the quintet agrees to find and ask Princesses Dawn and Eve. They soon learn Eve is visiting someone (or thing) in Hades while Dawn needs a prince charming (with a bit more substance). Eve joins the traveling ménage who visit the good magician Humphrey. He suggests they visit the very dangerous Caprice Castle guarded by Attila the Pun and the home of Pundora's Box.

This is an entertaining Xanth fantasy filled with the usual inane but fun puns. The zany story line is similar in theme to previous entries yet contains its own wild adventures. Xanthophyll fans will appreciate this amusing entry as once again the punster prince Piers Anthony provides an amusing action adventure, Xanth style.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Rook-Daniel O’Malley

The Rook

Daniel O’Malley

Little Brown, Jan 11 2012, $25.99

ISBN: 9780316098793

In a London park, the woman awakens during a storm surrounded by corpses wearing gloves. She has two letters on her so opens the one identified as first. Inside a note is addressed to “Dear You from “Sincerely Me” as the writer explains the body hosting her was once that of the writer. Thus Myfanwy Thomas, as the note calls her, follows the instructions of finding a safe house before reading the second memo.

The second letter explains her choices. She can flee London to live a conformable life overseas or seek out those responsible for her lost memory. Thomas number two soon learns her predecessor was a Rook who fought for the top secret Chequy organization against supernatural evil. She also finds out she possesses a rare lethal paranormal skill. As she decides at least for now to learn the truth of who betrayed her, Thomas number two struggles on the mundane plane against deadly children warriors and on the dream plane from an aristocrat who easily enters him subconscious. The more Thomas two learns, the more convolute her inquiry turns as she struggles with what everyone she encounters assumes she knows; although that is a handicap Thomas two realizes she sees things differently than her Chequy mates enabling her to envision a diabolical conspiracy that others fail to fathom.

This may be the paranormal thriller of the year as Daniel O’Malley creates a fresh, fast-paced and entertaining tale. A sort of urban fantasy version of the movie Memento, readers will enjoy the escapades of “You” guided by “Me” in what is a fabulous fascinating fall though the "Rabbit Hole".

Harriet Klausner

Murder Season-Robert Ellis

Murder Season

Robert Ellis

Minotaur, Dec 6 2011, $25.99

ISBN: 9780312366179

At the latest Hollywood in-crowd spot Club 3 AM, someone shoots and kills two people. Police Detective Lena Gamble arrives at the murder scene to lead the official investigation. She knows the media will follow her with a frenzied microscope and the brass will gladly let her take the media’s hits while claiming the accolades.

However that was her feelings before she learns the identities of the victims. Club owner Johnny Bosco had high level political connections and twenty-five year old Jacob Gant recently was acquitted of raping and murdering sixteen year old Lily Hight due to police missteps in the latest trial of the century. Gamble knows this case is a nightmare as the prime suspect is Lily’s father who has the court of public opinion turning him into a hero. The detective looks closer at the Gant investigation led by seemingly unbalanced Dan Cobb and finds other discrepancies in the case put together by Deputy DA Steven Bennett. Meanwhile District Attorney Jimmy J. Higgins sees the homicides as a springboard to a state office while Gamble turns to another Deputy DA Greg Vaughan.

The latest LAPD Gamble police procedural (see The Lost Witness) is an exciting thriller that focuses on the taint of the judicial system when it fails to protect the innocent as the measure of success is convictions. Filled with plenty of suspense and taut twists, fans will relish Murder Season as Gamble works a convoluted case under the scrutinizing public spotlight.

Harriet Klausner

Shattered Dreams-Ellie James

Shattered Dreams

Ellie James

St. Martin's Griffin, Dec 6 2011, $9.99

ISBN: 9780312647025

Sixteen years old Trinity Monsour was raised by her paternal Gran in isolation in the Colorado Mountains hoping to keep her granddaughter safe from her maternal heritage. When Gran died, Trinity’s Aunt Sara takes her orphaned niece to live with her in New Orleans. Gran’s hopes to shelter Trinity from her DNA had already failed in Colorado as she suffered horrific nightmares about her late parents and visions of catastrophic happenings; just like her mom did.

At the new high school she attends in New Orleans, Jessica the cruel popular girl makes sure the newcomer is a pariah especially after her boyfriend Chase shows interest in Trinity. Soon afterward, Jessica vanishes just as Trinity envisioned it. While NOPD suspects Trinity of enacting revenge, she and Chase mount a rescue attempt.

Mindful of My Lunatic Life by Sharon Sala, Shattered Dreams is an entertaining young adult urban fantasy. Narrated by the heroine, Trinity is a fascinating heroine who struggles to understand her paranormal skills and life in a New Orleans high school while no reader will look at Halo in the same way. Although the story line jumps from one subplot to another at a disjointed too rapid rate, the first Midnight Dragonfly novel is a fun middle school age paranormal thriller.

Harriet Klausner

The Bitter Seed of Magic-Suzanne McLeod

The Bitter Seed of Magic

Suzanne McLeod

Ace, Dec 27 2011, $7.99

ISBN: 9781937007201

In London, with the witches deciding she is no longer a person of interest, Sidhe Genny Taylor welcomes a brief respite after recent harrowing events (see the Spellcrackers saga - The Sweet Scent of Blood and The Cold Kiss of Death). However, her R&R time ends rather quickly as the body of a dead faeling is taken out of the Thames; the cause of death is related to the Curse. Everyone knows that any curse is a bad thing especially to the recipients, but this one is horrific as the lesser fae become barren; losing their fertility means that magic will die along with the endangered species.

Genny is the focus of this insidious Curse. She contains the means to end the wicked Curse by becoming pregnant. The number of fae willing to do the deed could fill Wembley Stadium. As she tries to find an alternate way to prevent another victim of the Curse, the raging Gods intervene.

The third Spellcrackers urban fantasy is a terrific twisting thriller as Genny learns the roots of evil. The story line is fast-paced from the moment the faeling is found dead and never slows down as the beleaguered Sidhe heroine has run out of time to save several fae species from extinction.

Harriet Klausner

Dragon Fate-E.E. Knight

Dragon Fate

E.E. Knight

Roc, Nov 30 2011, $16.00

ISBN: 9780451463562

They are siblings, but the three dragons had diverse values. AuRon the scale-less grey chose isolation with his mate Protector Natasatch and their offspring (Commander AuSurath, Aerial Host Varatheela and former Protector Istach) from the humans as he felt co-mingling was impossible and deadly to his kind; though he heeded his mate’s advice to get involved. His sister Wistala the Green believed dragons and humans could live in harmony together. Their brother Emperor RuGaard the Copper felt strongly that dragons were superior to humans who should obey their masters. Their values led to differing alliances and a war of mass destruction in which they were aligned against each other (see Dragon Rule).

Wiser and war weary, the dragon siblings realize what they wrought to their dying species. Each leaves the troubles they helped cause behind as the fight cost them family and friends. Meanwhile the wars of man and dragon remain unabated as ancient sorcery is deployed. To save their rapidly expiring race, the three siblings must unite for the first time since they were hatchlings, but AuRon remains bitter for what Copper did to him when they were young and none of the trio trusts the other to protect their wings. Failure to come together means dragonkind will be no more as humans and even dragons fight against dragons as the second Civil War turns increasingly towards extinction.

The sixth Age of Fire is an exhilarating climax to a strong fantasy saga, as the story line soars from the opening act and never decelerates to the tense climax. Filled with political backstabbing intrigue and military combat, readers will enjoy the tale of the three adversarial dragon siblings as united might save dragonkind while divided they extinct their species.

Harriet Klausner

Himmler’s War-Robert Conroy

Himmler’s War

Robert Conroy

Baen, Dec 6 2011, $25.00

ISBN: 9781451637618

In mid June 1944 Germany, an American air raid turns into a dogfight with German planes. The battle is fierce; frightened twentyish First Lieutenant Paul Phips flies away from the fight. The Americans need to release their bombs to preserve fuel for the return trip. They drop a cluster on a group of buildings, unaware that they kill Hitler and his inner command.

SS leader Heinrich Himmler becomes head of the Third Reich. He methodically eliminates those fanatically loyal and connected to Hitler as he cements his control. Himmler also liberates his generals allowing them to fight the war without Hitler’s tether. The allies, especially Great Britain, are weary from years of war. Many decide that Chamberlain not Churchill was right and push for a negotiated peace with Germany as the enemy has the atomic bomb, the American’s great leader FDR is dead and his replacement had only a few weeks to get up to speed.,. However Harry S. Truman proves he has the mettle as he tries to rally the Grand Alliance to continue the fight knowing now that the Americans have superior weaponry.

Fans of Robert Conroy’s alternate history Red Inferno thrillers (1945, 1942, 1901 and 1862) and Harry Turtledove’s War that Came Early saga will fully relish this terrific tale that pivots with the death of Hitler just after the Normandy Invasion. The fighting is seen through the eyes of the grunts on the ground and in the air. They die and lose limbs while the leadership from the comfort in DC, London and Berlin makes policy that kill or maim millions. The key to this superb tale is the flow of events following Hitler’s death seems plausible.

Harriet Klausner

A Perfect Blood-Kim Harrison

A Perfect Blood

Kim Harrison

Harper Voyager, Feb 21 2012, $26.99

ISBN: 9780061957895

She may have won the battle, but lost the outcome as Rachel Morgan suffers from PTSD having almost lost her aura by unwittingly creating a new ley line that causes havoc (see Pale Rider). Feeling the weights of failure and responsibility overwhelming her, the witch turned demon decides to vanish in plain sight by deploying an Elven bracelet that Trent made. Almost everyone assumes she died in the combat.

Being declared dead makes it difficult to obtain a driver's license as she learns first hand at the Department of Motor Vehicles. Nina the live vampire allows the dead vampire chief of Inderlander Security to cut a deal with Rachel. The ancient dead one wants Rachel and Ivy Tamwood to investigate demon-like murders of Inderlander in the greater Cincinnati area in exchange for a valid license and registration. Rachel will soon learn that fanatical Humans Against Paranormal Association (HAPA) operatives have worked on an Inderlander Species ethnic cleansing project by developing a weapon of demonic mass destruction using the blood of witches like Rachel containing the Rosewood syndrome.

This is an intriguing and enthralling entry as Rachel feels she is a magnet of hurt to her friends so has chosen isolation. She will soon learn what FDR meant when he said in 1933: “…that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” The inquiry in Cincinnati is deftly handled as Rachel soon realizes she is both hunter and hunted. With a direct silver bracelet link to Pale Rider, fans will enjoy the .latest Hollows urban fantasy as the heroine comes back from the dead to battle the toughest, most sinister, and diabolical opponent to date: the dreaded humans.

Harriet Klausner

Immortal Hope-Claire Ashgrove

Immortal Hope

Claire Ashgrove

Tor, Jan 3 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780765367587

In 1119, the archangels warned the Knights of the Templar not to dig beneath the Temple Mount. They ignored the archangels and excavated holy relics. Their punishment for their disobedience is to combat Azrael’s demons until they become evil Knights of Azrael; as each demon slain places a darkness on their soul until they are engulfed. By 2011, six Templars remain loyal though time is running out. Their only salvation is to find the Seraphim before Azrael obtains the eight remaining relics needed to defeat the Almighty.

In Atchison, Kansas Professor Anne MacPherson has six weeks left to complete her Knights Templar thesis. Cursed Templar Knight Merrick du Loire believes Anne may be his salvation; as she possesses a relic that Gabriel gave to her to protect when he saved her from her Salem witch-hunt. Attracted to Anne, Merrick must take her to the Temple Mount for her to heal whomever she is supposed to save. If she chooses him, she has marked him for death while he fears for his cousin who is on the edge of turning. Meanwhile Azrael is coming.

The first Curse of the Templars urban fantasy is a super tale in which readers will believe in the curse, centuries old knights, demons, and a brave bookworm professor who cannot hurt a fly but carries a sharp sword. Claire Ashgrove deftly sets her background especially the curse and the Templar past in the first page. With a deep mythos, sub-genre fans will relish this action-packed thriller as Merrick faces twisting paradoxes before and after he meets his beloved salvation. Sub-genre readers will appreciate this terrific tense thriller as Merrick has a reason to live, but believes death not love is his salvation.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Hot Zone-Catherine Mann

Hot Zone

Catherine Mann

Sourcebooks, Dec 1 2011, $6.99

ISBN: 9781402244988

In the Bahamas, American lawyer Amelia Bailey knows how meaningless the Richter scale score is when an earthquake collapses a building on her and her newly adopted thirteen months old nephew, Joshua. Entombed she refuses to quit as she knows she needs to be there for the toddler.

Five years ago Air Force Pararescueman Master Sergeant Hugh Franco gave up on his own life; his mantra is “That others may live.” He rescues Amelia and Joshua from the rubble. The adults are attracted to each other, but both gave up on relationships. However, as the aunt and her nephew heal in a ground zero tent hospital, a black market baby commodity exchange kidnaps the pair. Hugh goes after the trafficking ring as he has his first reason to live in five years while the enemy pursues them.

The second Elite Force romantic suspense (see Cover Me) is a complex exciting thriller with a strong cast. The lead couple is a wonderful pairing of two people refusing to dive into the cold relationship waters, so their hearts force them to take the plunge. The support characters are fully developed; the plot contains additional romances and the motivation behind the chief smuggler’s trafficking enhancing the taut storyline. Catherine Mann provides a superb action-packed tale.

Harriet Klausner

Demons Like It Hot-Sidney Ayers

Demons Like It Hot

Sidney Ayers

Sourcebooks, Dec 1 2011, $6.99

ISBN: 9781402251771

The Fore-Demons Council assigns Rafael DeLeon (see Demons Prefer Blondes) the Paladin as handler to Matthias Ambrose. Irate with the choice Matthias has personal reasons to object as DeLeon has ties to purebred caterer Serah SanGermano who has gotten under his skin. DeLeon informs the brooding Matthias his job is to protect his fiancée Lucy’s BFF Serah SanGermano. Matthias considers Siberia instead of Connolly Park, but acquiesces.

Serah conceals her new supernatural skills that she finds as a nuisance rather than a convenience. She focuses on her try out for the American Chef IV reality show. Enter Matthias Ambrose, demon mercenary. Lucy arranged for Matthias to protect Serah, but her bodyguard wonders who will protect her from him. As they fall in love, they team up to try to save mankind.

This Demons Unleashed urban romantic fantasy is an engaging entry due to the wry banter between the lead couple; actually Serah is the protagonist who brings humor with her chats with her beloved demon and others to include some asides. Although the story line is slow for much of the first half, fans will enjoy Serah the chef and her demon lover cooking a tasty repast.

Harriet Klausner

Dreaming of the Wolf-Terry Spear

Dreaming of the Wolf

Terry Spear

Sourcebooks, Dec 1 2011, $6.99

ISBN: 9781402245558

In Breckenridge, Colorado, pack sub leader (to his older brother) Jake Silver stops at Cliffside Art Gallery to leave his latest popular photographs. However, the gallery is closed until later in the morning due to a family emergency. With time to waste, he notices a beautiful woman acting suspiciously before entering a restaurant. Jake follows her inside as she piqued his wolf. However, a brute accosts her and other brutes are outside. Unable to sit idly by, Jake enters the fray. He extracts her from the mess without a fight for now.

Alicia Greiston explains she is a bounty hunter after Danny Massaro and Mario Constantine as this case involves the mobsters who arranged the murder of her mother. Attracted to one another, Jake joins Alicia’s quest. As they fall in love, they face the mob. At the same time the lovers wonder if they survive the gauntlet will their love endure too.

The latest exhilarating urban romantic werewolf thriller (see heart of the Highland Wolf) is a great entry starring a fabulous duet battling against mob goons. Filled with an intriguing paranormal twist, the queen of werewolf dramas Terry Spear provides a powerful tale as she makes her mythos seem real due to the author’s blending of wolf pack culture into a great tale of love and war.

Harriet Klausner

How to Worship a Goddess-Stephanie Julian

How to Worship a Goddess

Stephanie Julian

Sourcebooks, Dec 6 2011, $14.99

ISBN: 9781402251504

Lucy Aster happens to be Lusna the Etruscan Goddess of the Moon. She is a big hockey fan going to She goes to every Railers’ game as she enjoys the gracefulness of the sport even at the minor leagues’ level of her favorite team; as she has for the past two years. However, Lucy knows Brandon Stevenson born in 1976 as opposed to her two millennia plus life is the puck she follows.

Most fans are unaware that the players perform bird watching. Brand has only looked at one fan in the stands for the past two years. Feeling like a stalker, he finds her remote quaint bar, Brand and Lucy meet following her singing. They make love, but she erases his memory though he has quite a hangover. The next day while playing Trenton he is distracted because his goddess is not in her seat. After the game and a vicious hit, he works his way through last night and returns to the bar he should not have remembered. At the same time, an underground stalker plans to devour Lusna whose power is waning. However neither her hunter from hell or the Etruscan Goddess of the Moon factored in her brave soulmate; who is ready to do more than hip-check their opponent.

The latest Forgotten Goddesses (see What a Goddess Wants) is an entertaining amusing urban romantic fantasy starring two wonderful protagonists and a vile villain coming for her. The sex mixes enhances the improbable pair in love as he remains resolute as her defenseman against a seemingly invincible foe. Stephanie Julian writes a delightful twisting paranormal Stanley Cup winner.

Harriet Klausner

All Fall Down-Megan Hart

All Fall Down

Megan Hart

Mira, Dec 27 2011, $14.95

ISBN: 9780778313069

Sunshine’s Mama sends her nineteen years old daughter and her three grandchildren (Peace, Bliss and Happy) away from the Family of Superior Bliss compound. Mama tells Sunny to go to her real biological father, as the teen learns John Superior is not.

Sunny and her three preschoolers arrive at the home of Christopher Albright. He wants nothing to do with a daughter or his grandchildren who he never knew he had; but his wife Liesel welcomes the foursome into their home. Already in shock with the revelations, Sunny is despondent to learn everyone at the Family of Superior Bliss compound including Mama committed suicide.

This is an engaging look at a cult from the perspective of someone who escaped but quickly realizes she will never fully escape mentally. Character driven, readers will root for this “family” to make it but Sunny’s adjustment issues are overwhelming having spent almost two decades with a truth that proved false. Although a deeper look at the thought processes of Sunny, her oldest four years old child, and her father would have been enlightening, fans will relish this family drama.

Harriet Klausner

The House At Tyneford-Natasha Solomons

The House At Tyneford

Natasha Solomons

Plume, Dec 27 2011, $15.00

ISBN: 9780452297647

In 1938, Nazi encroachment into Austria makes it unsafe to be a Jew even in Vienna. Nineteen year old Elise Landau leaves her family and her privileged lifestyle to accept a position as a maid at The House at Tyneford.

Miserable as she misses her mother the opera star, her father the novelist and her sister, Elise is bitter at what has happened to her. Instead of dancing at galas and being served by servants, she serves drinks. While she struggles with being an outsider due to her previous social status and her religion, Elise fails to free her family. While the war comes to England, Elise and the Tyneford heir Kit fall in love, but he feels obligated to join the Royal Navy.

This is a strong WWII era drama starring a wonderful displaced protagonist who goes from anger at what happened to her and her family to contentment at Tyneford. The cast is solid especially the protagonist who keeps the discerning story line focused. Readers will root for Elise to meet up with her loved ones though chances are slim as the Nazis eradicated centuries of tradition; there is no longer a “Fiddler”, but perhaps a glimmer of hope if a viola survives the Final Solution.

Harriet Klausner

All The Flowers in Shanghai-Duncan Jepson

All The Flowers in Shanghai

Duncan Jepson

Morrow, Dec 20 2011, $13.99

ISBN: 9780062081605

In 1932 Shanghai Sister is obligated to marry Xiong Fa. Her parents are pleased with the match as his family is wealthy and of a socially higher status. However, when Sister dies, unprepared Feng must marry Xiong. Feng prefers exploring gardens with her grandfather and her BFF Bi, Bi, the seamstress’s son, but is an obedient daughter so she marries Xiong.

Following seventeen years of freedom to do much of what she wants, Feng is unhappy with her suddenly restricted life amidst the Sang clan of her spouse. They treat her as a vessel for the required male heir. However, she soon figures out the power of her uterus and becomes the bitter tyrannical First Wife and First Mother to her son. The Japanese invade China leading to centuries of social class distinction collapsing. Remorseful Feng realizes what her acrimony has wrought as she must face what she did to her wrong gender first child.

All The Flowers in Shanghai is a deep historical tale that provides a profound look at China during the middle decades of the twentieth century when social upheaval was the norm. The story line is seen predominately though the eyes of Feng, an intriguing individual whose loathing of her lot makes her do ugly things. Although eras and key moments flash by too quickly becoming a distraction, overall readers will relish Duncan Jepson’s engaging glimpse of China circa 1930s-through the late 1960s Cultural Revolution.

Harriet Klausner

Born Ready-Lori Wilde

Born Ready

Lori Wilde

Harlequin Blaze, Dec 2011, $5.25

ISBN: 9780373796625

Home in Key West for three weeks Coast Guard Lieutenant Commander Scott Everly believes in his agency’s motto: “Semper Paratus,” but when he sees marine biology graduate student Jackie Birchard he feels unprepared. She is working on her thesis by finding the elusive Key blenny but shares Scott’s mutual interest upon seeing him.

Meanwhile a drug dealer uses the Keys to smuggle cocaine into the country. This deadly felon wants no witnesses, which means destroying the researcher’s marine equipment and killing her.

As Scott and Jackie fall in lust, each denies they are in love. However though on vacation, he teams up with her using her equipment to end the cocaine trafficking of a nasty seller.

Readers will enjoy this heated Uniformly Hot romantic suspense while never looking at a hammock or a beach in the same way. Fast-paced, the lead couple is a wonderful pairing as he rationalizes that six months of abstinence is why he needs her and she has barriers bigger than the Great Florida Reef. Fans will enjoy this enjoyable Wilde tale as the heroes prove they have The Right Stuff.

Harriet Klausner

The Phoenix-Rhonda Nelson

The Phoenix

Rhonda Nelson

Harlequin Blaze, Dec 20 2011, $5.25

ISBN: 9780373796618

Atlanta police detective Charlene “Charlie” Martin arrives for an interview with the renowned Ranger Security but believes she lack a key element in obtaining the position: a penis. Still she wants out of APD as a third generation cop whose peers assume her promotions are due to her pedigree rather than merit. She is disappointed when former Army Ranger Jay Weatherford gets the job she wants.

His first assignment is to work the dognapping of Truffles, the heir to the Betterworth candy fortune. Charlie handles the investigation for APD. The abductees demand two million or else. As they fall in love, each understands rescuing the Yorkie comes before their desires as time is running out for the famous canine.

The latest Men Out of Uniform is a charming regional romantic mystery. The protagonists are two people unafraid of facing danger but deathly afraid of facing love. Although the heat is somewhat limited as the rescue subplot efforts are the prime subplot, fans will enjoy the escapades of the Phoenix and the detective.

Harriet Klausner

The Deepest Sin-Caroline Richards

The Deepest Sin

Caroline Richards

Kensington Brava, Jan 1 2012, $14,00

ISBN: 9780758242792

British operatives know they killed Montagu Faron the enemy agent who failed to steal the Rosetta Stone. However, recent mysterious events leave the Home officer wondering if somehow Faron survived. The wisdom is that if this miscreant lives, he will contact his lover. Thus Sir Richard Avery is assigned to observe Faron’s lover, Lady Meredith Woolcott.

Richard understands his task is not to keep the traitor’s woman safe, but to use her as an expendable pawn to catch Faron. To his chagrin, he is attracted to her, but keeps his head on the mission. That is until he realizes she places herself in peril to bring out her former lover. Unable to ignore the danger to Meredith, Richard intervenes learning she wants Faron out of her life.

The second :Sin” Woolcott family historical romantic suspense (see The Deadliest Sin) is a super thriller as the fully developed lead couple fall in love while playing a losing game of chess against each other and a deadly match with a diabolical grandmaster. Fast-paced with a great late twist, fans will appreciate Caroline Richards’ exciting tale while awaiting Rowena’s cold darkest sinful entry.

Harriet Klausner

Hidden Summit-Robyn Carr

Hidden Summit

Robyn Carr

Mira, Dec 27 2011, $7.99

ISBN: 9780778313007

Leslie Petruso left Grants Pass and her ex husband Greg to start over in Virgin River, California hoping to regain her self esteem working for one of her former bosses at Haggarty Construction Paul Haggarty offered her a job as office assistant. She wants peace with no relationships beyond friendship as she still recovers from catching her husband of eight years cheating; he since has remarried and his new wife is pregnant. The hurt is big because Greg told her no children.

Sacramento Office of the District Attorney ADA Ray Maxwell asks his former colleague Brie Valenzuela to provide carpenter Conner Danson a place to hide until he testifies against affluent Regis Mathis in a homicide case. Thus Connor is in Virgin River temporarily.

When Connor and Leslie meet, they are attracted to one another. However, each is wary of any attraction having been hurt before. Still as they spend time together Connor and Leslie fall in love; but their pasts remain a hindrance to their future.

The latest Virgin River romance (see Bring Me Home for Christmas) is an engaging tale starring two newcomers finding love as they start over together. Greg is a fascinating troubled individual who is a harassing codependent with a need to be first chair; while Connors former wife Samantha is a manipulative piece of sh*t. Although neither spouse has any redeeming qualities, readers will enjoy a visit to Virgin River.

Harriet Klausner

Sins of the Demon-Diana Rowland

Sins of the Demon

Diana Rowland

Daw, Jan 3 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780756407056

Beaulac, Louisiana Police Detective Kara Gillian a demon summoner remains concerned about the contract she agreed to with demon Lord Rhyskahl (see Mark of the Demon). In fairness, he has been most helpful providing key information on her cases (see Secret of the Demon and Blood of the Demon); on the other hand he brings with him many powerful enemies who target his human ally. Rhyskahl assigns Eilahn the demon to protect the police detective.

Several humans who hurt Kara at some time in her life are dropping dead. With her as the link between the deaths, her law enforcement peers on the supernatural task force wonder if she has gone rogue and become a serial killer. Kara and her normal and paranormal friends investigate what proves even more sinister and rooted in her past than she expected.

The fourth “Demon” police procedural is a terrific Bayou fantasy due to the depth of the Rowland mythos. Holding the exciting story line together, Kara is a fascinating protagonist who is a super cop with a little help from her friends and has intriguing relationships with demons. Fans of the saga will appreciate the tremendous Sins of the Demon, but feel frustrated with waiting for the next entry due to a cliffhanger climax even with the series theme moving forward.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

At the Mercy of the Queen-Anne Clinard Barnhill

At the Mercy of the Queen

Anne Clinard Barnhill

St. Martin’s Griffin, Jan 3 2012, $14.99

ISBN: 9780312662134

In 1533 King Henry VIII marries Anne Boleyn. The ambitious family of the monarch’s second wife sends her cousin fifteen years old Lady Margaret “Madge” Shelton to serve as a Lady-in-Waiting to Queen Anne.

Madge falls in love with Arthur Brandon, the illegitimate son of a duke; they secretly marry as he is beneath her in social status so for them to overtly wed requires a royal decree. Meanwhile fearing her husband’s affection is waning as he has stayed away from her bed since she failed to provide him with a male heir, scheming Anne arranges for Madge to become Henry’s latest mistress before he turns to Jane Seymour.

This is an engaging look at a real historical figure who allegedly in 1535 became Henry’s mistress. Anne Clinard Barnhill paints her as a naive woman whose well-being relies totally At the Mercy of the Queen. Madge is an interesting individual caught between her love for Arthur and her loyalty to her cousin. Anne Boleyn comes across inconsistent; as she is too sympathetic in spite of her manipulation of her relative. Fans of Tudor historical fiction will enjoy her latest portrayal seen through the eyes of her cousin.

Harriet Klausner

The Devil’s Elixir-Raymond Khoury

The Devil’s Elixir

Raymond Khoury

Dutton, Dec 22 2011, $26.95

ISBN: 9780525952435

Drug kingpin Raoul “El Brujo” Navarro has been using a rare herb the Devil’s Elixir for years. He realizes that if the drug can be converted into a synthesized pill, he can make a fortune.

While Navarro sets in motion the manufacturing of the Devil’s Elixier, DEA agent Michelle Martinez calls her former boyfriend FBI agent Sean Reilly at his Mamaroneck, New York house. She tells him thugs with guns entered her San Diego home firing shots at her and hitting her boyfriend. Sean and his girlfriend Tess Chaykin head for the West Coast where they soon connect dots between Martinez, her four years old son, Navarro and his hoods, and law enforcement officials as whoever controls the Devil’s Elixir may, like what happened centuries ago in Mexico, end civilization as we know it today.

Although the premise seems over the top of the Mayan pyramids of Teotihuacan, somehow Raymond Khoury makes the elixir seem plausible. The return of Sean and Tess will please fans of the Templar sagas as they work another odd case. The Devil’s Elixir is a superb thriller as time is running out on the protagonists while their enemies are a drug sorcerer and law enforcement operative in which neither side has any moral fiber even with the death of civilization imminent.

Harriet Klausner

All Necessary Force-Brad Taylor

All Necessary Force:

Brad Taylor

Dutton, Jan 17 2012, $25.95

ISBN 9780525952626

The alphabet soup of U.S. intelligence agencies learns via the internet that a terrorist group plans an attack inside America rather soon. However, the CIA, FBI or DIS can’t identify who, when or where. Top Secret Taskforce is assigned to find the needed information before it is too late.

When a Taskforce operation in Asia leaves an agent dead, former chief Logan Pike is placed in charge of the field operation. He and his girlfriend/business partner Jennifer Cahill begin to unravel two planned attacks by separate terrorist groups. However, as he and Jennifer learn of the smuggling into the country of a WMD like none before, Logan knows he will violate the law in which Taskforce is not authorized to operate inside the United States, but he has no choice.

The second Pike Logan Taskforce thriller (see One Rough Man) is an action-packed tale from start to finish. The lead couple is an interesting pair as Logan struggles to run the show while Jennifer has a difficult moral dilemma to face. Although the government officials and the terrorists are stereotypes (except for the recruited inmates); readers will appreciate this fast-paced violent thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Dead Low Tide-Brett Lott

Dead Low Tide

Brett Lott

Random House, Jan 17 2012, $25.00

ISBN: 9781400063758

Ten years ago in Charleston, South Carolina, then teenager Huger Dillard killed a man (see The Hunt Club). He remains traumatized as he suffers from PTSD leading to his dropping out of college and still living at the family home Landgrave Hall; his teenage girlfriend Tabitha Gaillard moved on with her life as she attends Stanford as a doctorate student.

At two in the morning in spite of the golf course being closed, Huger caddies for his blind father Unc. They arrive by boat, but finding the corpse of a woman ends their time on the links before it begins. Suddenly the marsh is loaded with activity as the cops and U.S. Naval Weapons Station operative arrive. When Huger returns home, he finds Naval Commander Prendergast with his mother. Meanwhile a dead male is found in the trunk of a car. Needing to know shat is going on while wondering if his family is in peril, Huger snaps out of his doldrums to investigate the truth.

This is an entertaining second chance at life (if you live long enough) tale. The story line is at its best when the focus is on Huger still shut down after a decade has passed since his previous harrowing experience. When the story line turns into a standard thriller, Dead Low Tide loses some of its fascination as this seems of character for this sitting on the sidelines couch potato. Still fans will enjoy Huger’s second coming if he survives his latest ordeal.

Harriet Klausner

Power Play-Ben Bova

Power Play

Ben Bova

Tor, Jan 3 2012, $24.99

ISBN 9780765317865

Adjunct astronomy professor Dr. Jake Ross met his mentor Dr. Leverett Caldwell when he was in middle school on a field trip to James A, Van Allen Museum of science. Lev suggest Jake accept the position of science advisor to senatorial candidate Frank Tomlinson, who is making a run against incumbent Senator Leeds. Tomlinson fantasizes that he is JFK so he needs his moon mission. He chooses magnetohydrodynamics as a cheaper yet more effective way to generate electricity. Tomlinson makes the offer and Toss accepts.

Leeds sends his henchmen Ignacio “Nacho” Perez; and Benito “Monster” Falciglia to persuade Ross he can obtain tenure if he joins the right team by sabotaging his boss’ support to MHD. Ross refuses but also fears his employer is rushing things as MHD is not ready for prime time with potentially dangerous safety issues to resolve.

Power Play is an interesting political-economic thriller starring a dedicated likable hero who finds himself at the center of senatorial electoral hardball (Chris Matthews’ style). The support cast is inane with females sleeping around and goons acting like comic book rejects. Still, with a strong premise in which many in power prefer MHD to fail, fans will enjoy Ross’ growing awareness of what counts in DC and who is expendable.

Harriet Klausner

Magic, Murder and Microcircuits-Karen McCullough

Magic, Murder and Microcircuits

Karen McCullough

Karen McCullough, Oct 28 2011, $1.99

Amazon Digital Services: B0060Y5IQ6; BN ID: 2940013212879

Wizard Ilene McConnell travels to a North Carolina’s Outer Banks Island to deliver a letter from her late father to exiled wizard Michael Morgan. The Diamond Council that she belongs to also wants her to learn what the loner is doing. As she muses sadly that twelve years ago he left her and her father without a word, she becomes under attack by powerful winds. Though not easily, Ilene makes it to Michael’s home. However, soon afterward Jim the handyman is attacked. He is a private investigator spying on Michael. Jim gives them access to his information but is murdered.

Michael a brilliant physicist explains he is building a shield to protect him from magic having been the victim of organizational torture. However, his gizmo is stolen. After reading his former mentor’s letter, with Ilene having his back, Michael begins a trek to retrieve his device that has the Diamond Council, the Ruby Council and other groups concerned with the balance of power. Their journey is filled with death, magical assaults and love.

The key to this great investigative urban fantasy is that magic seems real with Michael the physicist providing an intriguing scientific theory for how it works. The story line is fast-paced and loaded with action as the lead couple search for the shield and who is killing anyone associated with his project. Karen McCullough writes an entreating thriller filled Magic, Murder and Microcircuits.

Harriet Klausner

The Thirteen Hallows-Michael Scott and Colette Freedman

The Thirteen Hallows

Michael Scott and Colette Freedman

Tor, Dec 6 2011, $24.99

ISBN: 9780765328526

Twentyish Londoner, Sarah Miller hates her life. Her tedious job goes nowhere, but she cannot afford to quit as Sarah supports her widowed mom while living together.

Having heard of the murder of her long time friend Millie and an apparent Good Samaritan, septuagenarian Judith Walker fears what the old man warned them seven decades ago not to bring the Hallows together is happening. Millie, Tommy, Georgie, Nina and Bea have been tortured and murdered for the artifacts they protected as Keepers. She expects to be next as she possesses Dyrnwyn, the broken sword of Rhydderch. She proves right when Skinner assaults her. However, Sarah intervenes and between them they batter her mugger. She pleads with Sarah to deliver her Hallow sword to her American nephew, Owen. The Dark Man is furious with his first setback, but takes his fight to Sarah with a gas leak explosion. He will soon realize she is not just a minor irritant as an angry Sarah with Owen at her side prepare to fight the evil Dark Man and his malevolent mistress while the cops seek her and the Yank for questioning in a string of murders.

As Nicholas Flamel takes a deserving respite, Michael Scott and Colette Freedman provide a strong exhilarating urban fantasy. This tale is fast-paced from the moment Judith defends herself and never slows down and fans will enjoy the adventures of the newly drafted Keepers against an amoral psychopath with paranormal powers and no compunctions to use them. Filled with twists and a vile villain, readers will enjoy touring London with Sarah and Owen as their guides.

Harriet Klausner

The Daemon Prism-Carol Berg

The Daemon Prism

Carol Berg

Roc, Jan 3 2012, $16.00

ISBN 9780451464347

In 883 Year of the Sabarian Realm, most knowledgeable people know to fear acrimonious blind practitioner Dante, the Queen’s Sorcerer. Sabarian King Philippe, the leaders of the Temple and the Camarilla Magica have condemned him for what he did to the Veil between life and death. For two years he desperately trains his student Anne de Vernase with hope for his redemption if she will repair what he wrought as she saved him from insanity.

However, Anne suddenly leaves him for her family. Stunned while feeling betrayed and hopeless, Dante turns to a puzzle for solace. He is unaware that what he dabbles in is a trap for him to trigger a magical pandemic that could turn Sabaria into a wasteland. As his mind turns increasingly mad, Dante needs Anne and other allies who loath him to prevent the disaster.

The third Collegia Magica epic fantasy (see The Spirit Lens and The Soul Mirror) focuses on a necromancer considered by everyone as the vilest soulless person in Sabaria. The universal detesting of Dante leads to an intriguing profound look at relationships when life is at stake and the truest meaning of evil. Filled with action and feeling as if it occurs in a Berg version of the an Age of Reason, fans will appreciate this stupendous story and the rest of the super saga while newcomers need to read the first two terrific thrillers to better understand the Berg realm and how her world got to this point.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, November 21, 2011

Copper Beach-Jayne Ann Krentz

Copper Beach

Jayne Ann Krentz

Putnam, Jan 10 2012, $25.95

ISBN 9780399157875

Lander Knox, claiming to be the dying patient’s son, visits Quinn Knox at Oakmont Hospital in Florida to gloat that he will soon obtain his rightful inheritance by opening the Phoenix Mine and using the crystals for personal gain. He explains he found a freelancing underground hot books code breaker in Seattle who he will hire to open Ray Willis psi-coded nab book. A stunned Quinn calls Elias Coppersmith who had his back like a brother forty years ago to warn him.

A maniac arrives with a gun that he points at octogenarian wheelchair bound Hannah Vaughn and her housekeeper Mrs. Jensen. Grady Hastings demands she give him the Key and her employee Abby Radwell who will unlock the Key to the Latent Power of Stones. She uses psychic energy from the tome to knock him out. The next day she receives a blackmailing email that states the sender knows what she did to Hastings.

Abby takes the water taxi to visit Elias’ son paranormal crystal expert Sam Coppersmith on the San Juan Islands. He agrees to keep her safe and hunt for her blackmailer if she can finds a dangerous book that his father asked him to locate in order to conceal it. They also are aura attracted to one another.

The first Dark Legacy romantic suspense is an engaging thriller starring two likable protagonists and an apparent insane antagonist; while the support cast enhances the engaging paranormal thriller. Although the storyline contains several meandering entertaining twists, the plot never veers from the course readers will expect. Still the key to enjoyable Copper Beach are the courageous lead couple who risks their lives to keep a dangerous tome from a mad man.

Harriet Klausner

The Secret Crown-Chris Kuzneski

The Secret Crown

Chris Kuzneski

Putnam, Jan 12 2012, $25.95

ISBN 9780399157455

Former Special Forces BFFs Jonathon Payne and David Jones are in Pittsburgher when Kaiser calls them to come immediately to Munich to discuss buried treasure. Once they arrive, he explains that crates buried during WWII were recently discovered with some containing a black swan insignia belonging to late nineteenth century Mad King Ludwig II. Before he was allegedly assassinated the Mad King supposedly put aside a humongous horde of gold and jewels to build a castle. However, after his murder, no evidence was found to prove this assertion until these crates were located.

Kaiser believes they can make a fortune. Payne and Jones agree though they hesitate because any dealings with Kaiser usually proves to be extremely dangerous. As they follow the clues, the two former Special Forces soldiers find their basic Kaiser assertion true as enemies wanting to own the treasure stalk them.

The latest Payne and Jones thriller (see The Lost Throne and The Prophecy) is a fun exciting tale in which the history of Bavaria enhances the suspense. The lead dudes provide humorous asides such as racist sausage and a zillion teenage locker room sex jokes, but never seem quite challenged by their adversaries. Still in spite of the evil enemy never seeming like much of a threat, fans will enjoy The Secret Crown as Payne and Jones search for the treasure of the Mad King.

Harriet Klausner

The Chalk Girl-Carol O’Connell

The Chalk Girl

Carol O’Connell

Putnam, Jan 17 2012, $25.95

ISBN 9780399157745

After being declared mentally incompetent and unfit for duty, Kathy Mallory takes three months of leave. Although not officially declared ready for work, Kathy shows up at the NYPD Special Crimes Unit. No one challenges the return of “Mallory the Machine”.

In Central Park, eight-year-old Coco observed a murder and kidnapping. She has blood on her shoulder that she says fell from the sky and her uncle is in a tree. When they find her relative dead in the tree, police question the child, but she cannot describe the killer. Kathy and Coco bond as each recognizes a hurting soul in the other. The cop begins to tie the Central Park homicide to two other similar cases and begins to connect dots totwo fifteen years old cold cases.

The latest Mallory police procedural (see Find Me) is a super investigative thriller starring two emotionally damaged females. The inquiry is excellent as Mallory methodically ties three present day investigations to two cold cases. The ties between the so called “machine” and the Chalk Girl enhance a strong New York thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Lunatics-Dave Barry & Alan Zweibel


Dave Barry & Alan Zweibel

Putnam, Jan 10 2012, $25.95

ISBN: 9780399158698

In Fort Lee, New Jersey, family man Philip Horkman referees an ATSO soccer championship game. He calls offside against Taylor Peckerman as she kicked the tying goal. Taylor’s dad Jeffrey, a forensic plumber, goes crazy cursing and threatening Phillip.

That night Jeffery’s wife asks him to stop for a bottle of wine as the Oprah Reading Club will meet in their house. Jeffrey stops at The Wine Shop only to learn it is a pet shop named after the prime in-law investors and the owner is Philip. Still fuming over the call, Jeffrey threatens Philip who grabs a bat. Expecting his enemy to swing, Jeffrey grabs a lemur before fleeing into the night with Philip in pursuit. One thing leads to another and soon the pair is on TV as terrorists trying to blow up the GW Bridge and shooting a cop in the scrotum. They are on the run from cops, soldiers, Charo, Chuck E. Cheese and terrorists,

Rotating first person accounts between the two antagonists (and authors), this is a zany over the top of Washington Heights thriller. Amusing and fast-paced, readers will enjoy the escalating soccer war between two individuals as the media puts on its spin to events while the government agencies insure the enemy combatants are accused of all sorts of felons to hide their incompetency and mistakes. With an insane spin into politics, the aptly titled Lunatics is a fun tale as fans will enjoy this pair of misfits jocular antics.

Harriet Klausner

A Quiet Vendetta-R.J. Ellory

A Quiet Vendetta

R.J. Ellory

Overlook, Jan 5 2012, $25.95

ISBN 9781590205082

In New Orleans, someone kidnaps nineteen year old Catherine Ducane; the teen’s bodyguard is brutally murdered. The NOPD reacts quickly as the victim is the teenage daughter of the state’s Governor Charles Ducane.

The kidnapper Ernesto Perez fails to ask for money or governor-level request. Instead he notifies the FBI he wants to meet with Ray Hartmann, a minor bureaucrat in the New York district attorney’s office. In exchange for this meeting, he will inform the Feds where Ducane is hidden. Perez informs Hartmann that he has been a mob hit-man for decades; he has been involved in at least 19 hits and recounts ties to Kennedy and Nixon. The FBI, the governor and the media wonder what Perez’s secret agenda is and why he is picking to chat with a nonentity like Hartmann.

This is a great thriller that uses five decades of Mafia history in the Bronx, Manhattan, Vegas, Cuba and elsewhere as the background to a fascinating tale. Readers will be hooked from the moment Perez makes his demand known and will keep on reading until they learn what his agenda is and why. Perez and Hartmann are fully developed superb antagonists as this time the truth will set both of them free. A Quiet Vendetta is a superb and enthralling story.

Harriet Klausner

Gideon’s Corpse-Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child

Gideon’s Corpse

Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child

Grand Central, Jan 10 2012, $26.99

ISBN: 9780446564373

In his short life, Gideon Crew has seen plenty of ugliness starting when his father, accused of treason, was gunned down. He recently learned the truth about the dad he once admired when his dying mom said he was innocent and assassinated. Now Gideon has a reason to live: revenge. Gideon went from a thief to a nuclear scientist motivated by his new quest. However, after his mission is accomplished he learns he suffers from a terminal illness with about one year to live.

Glinn, who runs the mysterious Elective Engineering Solution firm, ruins a rare serene Zen moment for Gideon by telling him a co-worker has taken a family hostage. By the time Gideon reaches the scene, Chalker is incoherent. Gideon learns his cohort is radioactive while the Feds believe he turned into a Jihadist when he converted to Islam and that he fashioned a nuke while working at Los Alamos. Gideon relooks email exchanges he had with Glinn and concludes like his late father, his peer is being framed. His superiors believe the real terrorists plan to nuke DC but Gideon’s intuition tells him they have something even worse planned..

Readers will root for Gideon whose life was shattered with the killing of his father and now has a death watch to contend with, but like the hero he is, Gideon refuses to quit. As his friends and peers turn against him, Gideon knows he wears his father’s shoes, but has the advantage of understanding what is going on and why they believe he is a chip off his treasonous block. Preston & Childs provide another exciting over the top of the Washington Monument suspense thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Sisterhood of Dune-Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson

Sisterhood of Dune

Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson

Tor, Jan 3 2012, $27.99

ISBN 9780765322739

Over eight decades ago, humanity defeated the tyrannical sentient cybernetics at the key Battle of Corrin. Debate rages over the use of safe machines in the everyday lives of people.

First Reverend Mother of the Sisterhood Raquella Berto-Anirul opens the Bene Gesserit School on the rainforest planet of Rossak as a place to teach women to use technology to improve their lot. The Venport descendants deploy mutated Navigators to fly early versions of Heighliners. On the other side of the argument is the Butlerian opposition, led by Manford Torondo and Swordmaster Anari Idaho, against technology as being dangerous. Soon everyone will have to pick a side as a human civil war over machinery seems imminent.

This is an exciting, fast-paced but thin Dune science fiction thriller as two diametrically opposite visions of the future surface even eighty plus years since the war against the machines. With what is going on in DC, Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson provide a timely tale built on the premise that idealism without pragmatism can turn into uncompromising tyranny.

Harriet Klausner

Once Bitten-Stephen Leather

Once Bitten

Stephen Leather

AmazonEncore, Nov 22 20111, $$14.99

ISBN: 9781612181479

LAPD hires British psychologist Dr. Jamie Beaverbrook to apply his Beaverbrook Program testing to determine whether suspects are insane or acting the part. The results of his examine will decide whether a person undergoes mental health treatment or an expensive investigation and court case. At the same time, Jamie’s marriage is over following the death of their infant child.

The police arrest teenager Terry Ferriman for murder as she has blood on her mouth while standing over a corpse whose throat has been ripped apart. Terry tells Jamie she is a vampire but denies taking blood from the throats of mortals. She insists she is much older than she looks. Her comments sound sincere but are insane; yet she passes Jamie’s sanity test. Unable to resist even as he tells himself to not investigate, Jamie needs to help Terry. He brings her to his home and searches her apartment where Jamie finds an old picture of an actor from what appears to a 1950s movie. Jamie has entered a world he never knew existed until now.

Jamie tells the storyline in the first person as his investigation nukes what he believes is truisms. Depressed over his daughter’s death and the ugly divorce, he fears for his sanity as he obsesses over desire for his client and learning the truth about her and her claims that immortals need blood. The rest of the cast including Terry is seen through Jamie’s biased eyes. His mental struggles between his belief system and what he learns makes a strong intriguing theme. However, the storyline loses some of its grip when the focus becomes a federal national security agencies intrusion. Still Once Bitten is an entertaining vampiric psychological thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, November 20, 2011

A Devil Is Waiting-Jack Higgins

A Devil Is Waiting

Jack Higgins

Putnam, Jan 3 2012, $26.95

ISBN 9780399158094

Following a difficult rough tour in Afghanistan, British Captain Sara Gideon heir to the Gideon Bank returns home. The Prime Minister’s “private army” leader General Charles Ferguson recruits war hero Sara to join his elite antiterrorism team. He knows her linguistic skills will enhance his unit’s chances for success against a devious enemy.

Meanwhile Muslim terrorist Ali Selim offers a special blessing to anyone who kills the infidel leaders of the West. Ferguson takes Selim’s threat serious as POTUS is coming to London to meet with the P.M. He assigns agents Sean Dillon, Daniel Holley and Sara to take out Selim before anyone acts on his assassination blessing. However as they follows clues to the Persian Gulf in seeking the Mullah, a kidnapping turns the mission into a desperate quest.

The latest Dillon-Holly tale (see The Judas Gate) is an action-packed thriller although somewhat similar in theme to this series and other stop the terrorists’ sagas. The story line refreshed by Sara who brings a feminist perspective to the mix. Although the story line is thin and the terrorists seem stereotypes, fans will enjoy this fast-paced novel.

Harriet Klausner

Breakdown-Sara Paretsky


Sara Paretsky

Putnam, Jan 3 2012, $26.95

ISBN: 9780399157837

In Chicago private investigator V. I. Warshawski attends a glamorous gala for Wade Lawlor, the star of Global Entertainment Network’s top show Wade’s World, a right-wing network. Her cousin Petra works for the Malina Foundation on a book club in which wealthy and penniless young girls meet.

A concerned Petra asks V. I. to search for the missing book club girls. She locates them conducting a rite from a YA vampire thriller in nearby closed Mount Moriah Cemetery. Besides the seven tweeners, V. I. also finds a corpse with a metal rod protruding from the victim’s heart. Though she knows she should not, V. I. helps the girls leave the murder scene before CPD arrives. V. I. begins her own inquiry into what proves a twisting case that makes Rubik's Cube look like a kindergarten puzzle.

This is a great Warshawski suspenseful investigative thriller as the heroine works a confusing case but never shuts down her moral compass of helping the helpless. The story line is fast-paced while keeping readers up late with what spin follows next. Fans will enjoy kick butt Warshawski as she escorts fans on a vast tour of the diverse Chicago landscape.

Harriet Klausner

The Whisperer-Donato Carrisi

The Whisperer

Donato Carrisi

Mulholland/Little Brown, Jan 5 2011$25.99

ISBN: 9780316194723

Five young girls have vanished. Eerily, six left arms are found in what appears to be a sort of graveyard. Mila Vasquez the famous profiler and Goran Gavila the renowned psychic criminologist lead the investigation. The pair believes the arms belong to the five missing girls, but have no idea who the sixth arm belongs to.

They also think they know who the identity of the serial killer is, but that proves apparently false. As their inquiry goes nowhere, the two sleuths become paranoid with the possibility that they were named as leads not to solve the impossible case but to take the fall when it goes cold. Mila and Goran obstinately refuse to quit, but each victim leads them to a different outcome.

This is an entertaining tough somewhat standard chess game between a brilliant psychopath and two investigators with lofty reputations for case resolution. The story line is fast-paced but over the top of wherever the setting actually is (the plot lacks a place anchor). Still fans will enjoy the contest between the desperate investigators and the diabolical adversary.

Harriet Klausner

Love In a Nutshell-Janet Evanovich and Dorien Kelly

Love In a Nutshell

Janet Evanovich and Dorien Kelly

St. Martin’s, Jan 3 2012, $27.99

ISBN: 9780312651312

In Oak Ridge, Michigan Kate Appleton loses her position as an assistant editor at a business magazine due to the amoral machination of sleazy the Melvin. Her spouse Richard leaves her for a marriage wrecker; so she decides to leave the Detroit area for Keene’s Harbor to convert her parents’ summer house the Nutshell into a Bed and Breakfast.

However, she needs cash, but loses her job at the bar due to bad beer. She confronts the Depot Brewing Company owner Matt Culhane who likes her energy. He hires her as a floater filling in when someone is out but that is to conceal his real reason for giving her work. He wants her to go undercover in order to determine who is sabotaging his company from within. Matt offers floater salary and a $20,000 bonus if she identifies the rat. She hates beer but likes her boss while everyone distrusts the newcomer.

This is an enjoyable lighthearted frolic starring two likeable protagonists, a villain in plain sight, and a heroic three legged canine. Fans will enjoy this tale that in some ways feels like a throwback to a 1930s romantic comedic mystery even without a plum in sight.

Harriet Klausner

The Hunter-John Lescroart

The Hunter

John Lescroart

Dutton, Jan 3 2012, $26.95

ISBN: 9780525952565

San Francisco private investigator Wyatt Hunt was raised by loving adoptive parents. He had no inclination to learn who his biological roots are as he knows who is true parents are.

However, Hunt changes his mind when he receives a strange text message: "How did your mother die?" Apparently she was murdered. His adoptive parents have no solid information on his roots as none were provided when he joined their family as a toddler. Hunt learns his dad lives in hiding having survived two murder charges and the Jim Jones’s mass suicide in 1978. As Hunt searches for the messenger of gloom and doom, he will learn the hard way that a dark secret interred for decades might prove dangerous for those he cherishes.

This is a strong exhilarating thriller as Hunt and an unknown individual who he is unsure is friend or foe plays a deadly game of chess with him. Hunt’s investigation is fast-paced and very entertaining though he seems to obtain information that is over three decades old and buried rather too easily. Still fans will enjoy this taut tale wondering whether the protagonist is The Hunter or the hunted.

Harriet Klausner

Stay At Home Dead-Jeffrey Allen

Stay At Home Dead

Jeffrey Allen

Kensington, Jan 3 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780758266897

Rose Petal, Texas is a small town in which everyone remains up to date on the latest happenings especially scandals, misdemeanors and felonies. The townsfolk struggle with accepting that Deuce Winters is a househusband while his wife Julianne is a high powered attorney. Whereas she brings in the income, he is the primary caretaker of their three years old daughter Carly.

Nobody is more shocked than this father and daughter when they find the corpse of Benny Barnes inside their van parked in a supermarket lot. Overwhelmingly the locals assume Deuce killed the man responsible for destroying the “suspect’s” football career and stealing his girlfriend Shayna over twenty years ago in high school. The clique of parents at the daycare center demands the removal Deuce as a school helper, which is symptomatic of others’ belief that Deuce is a killer. Shayna asks him to come over, which he reluctantly does. She follows up by taking out a restraining order to keep him away from her. Life turns stranger when Victor the “little person” detective follows Deuce around town; conducting a surveillance for a client he refuses to name. Determined to clear his name, Deuce with Victor and Julianne’s assistance investigates the murder; only to find a business plan turn deadly.

Stay At Home Dead is a charming (except if you are the beleaguered protagonist) creative cozy starring a likable hero and his spouse. She protects his interests and that of a daughter like a lioness. The plot seems simple as it smoothly flows until a twist turns the story line into a wild rapids ride as readers ponder what is going on in Rose Petal. Deuce makes the tale work as a househusband and an amateur sleuth.

Harriet Klausner

Leaves of Flame-Benjamin Tate

Leaves of Flame

Benjamin Tate

Daw, Jan 3 2011, $7.99

ISBN: 9780756407049

For several hundred years the three species have co-existed in a tentative peace by avoiding one another. The Alvritshai, Dwarren and Human races rarely have contact as none trust the others.

Much more than a human, Colin Harten notices the wraiths and their Shadow allies have increasingly posed a threat to the three races. Having mastered three of the five known magic’s while in the wilderness for decades (see Well of Sorrow), he has arranged for his friends the magical Trees to provide some protection to the separate but equal races. However, he knows that is not enough as he realizes he needs them to unite before it is too late; once the insidious enemy gains control of the magic nothing Alvritshai, Dwarren, Human, the Faelehgre spirits of light or even him will survive.

This is a terrific social-military-political fantasy but pales in comparison to the excellent thought provoking Well of Sorrows as the colonization theme of the first tale is replaced by a more standard genre scenario. Still fans will appreciate the exciting escapades in the Tate realm as an increasingly desperate but capable and cynical Colin (instead of the enthusiastic rookie) knows if he cannot motive all three species to unite, the dark Shadows will put out the light.

Harriet Klausner

The Bride Wore Leather-Simon R. Green

The Bride Wore Leather

Simon R. Green

Ace, Jan 3 2012, $25.95

ISBN: 9781937007133

After trying to escape from Darkside, John Taylor has accepted his place in the darkest part of London. He has become the new Walker Voice of the Authorities and is marrying his beloved Suzie Shooter, the most dangerous bounty hunter in town.

However, before settling down, John wants to work one last case as a private investigator. He learns of a plot at the annual Ball of Forever to destroy an immortality serum. John gets inside and finds himself investigating the murder of the King of Skin. As the Walker, he and his friend Julien Advent search for the Sun King who believes that this locality abomination and its denizen need ethnic cleansing. Meanwhile nothing goes right; everyone hunts John including his leather clad fiancée who he fears might choose the bounty over love.

Although a bit thinner than usual, the latest Nightside thriller (see A Hard day’s Night) is a fast-paced exhilarating thriller. John tells the tale of how he goes from the fire into the frying pan while someone in the shadows manipulates the scenario. Fans will enjoy John’s tsuris as Darkside and the Sun King come after him while he wonders if he knows Suzie.

Harriet Klausner