C. E.. Murphy
Luna, Sep 2009, $14.95
When Joanne Walker was left in a parking lot with a sword in her body, Coyote offered her a choice between death and life as a shaman. She embraced life as a shaman with healing powers and other mystical gifts. Her police partner Billy is not shocked by Joanne’s new skills because he is a medium who communicates with the dead. At a Halloween party, a cauldron appears out of thin air; Joanne sees that it is a dark thing of evil. Evil tries to trap her, but she resists the call.
The cauldron disappears leaving a massacre of evil behind in Seattle by raising the dead. It originally came from the Museum of Cultural Arts and the two security guards are gone from their posts; one was killed while the other has vanished.. Joanne believes the deaths of the guard and the cauldron are obviously linked, but she also receives further bad news when Suzanne whose soul she saved returns to tell her she had a vision of Loanne dying and it had something to do with the cauldron. Suzanne has a premonition that Joanne and Billy die on Halloween. They try to be careful while seeking the mage who started the horrific fiasco as the cauldron keeps reappearing leading to more deaths and reanimations.
WALKING DEAD is a special urban fantasy as the loads of action include the mundane and paranormal, which leads to a belief that Seattle is under siege with everyone trying to defend the city and fascinated fans going sleepless. The focus obviously is on the strong shaman who can travel to different planes as if she was hiking. The mystery behind the cauldron and its apparent power make for a fabulous investigation by the heroine and her partner at the same time they must prevent further destruction. C.E. Murphy is a great fantasist who makes the otherworldly devouring of Seattle seems so authentic. Harriet Klausner
Day of the Damned
Del Rey, Jul 21 2009, $26.00
Following his last bloody operation (see MAXIMUM OFFENSE), not quite human DNA, Army killing machine Lieutenant Sven Tveskoeg takes some deserved R&R at the home of the Wildside. That ends abruptly when his Commander General Jaxx sends a message to perform a cleansing mission with a new unit in his home city Farlight; the capital is in the midst of a brutal civil war; the reign of boyish looking Emperor OctoV spanning several millennia and tens of thousand planets is in jeopardy of ending.
Sven sans his combat arm or his AI Sag handgun and his squad try to prevent a successful coup d’etat while he still attempts to avoid unnecessary collateral damage in this urban warfare zone while the enemy couldn’t care less if planets are destroyed let alone a city to achieve the mission.. The intelligence is weak as no one knows that the rebels have support from the allegedly peace seeking United Free Empire that has plans to annex OctoV’s tens of thousands of planets into their spans of control. However the plotting of rulers means nothing to Sven. He lives for two reasons: the promise and the kill.
The third Death’s Head far futuristic in space science fiction is an incredibly fast-paced thriller that never takes a breather once the General sends Sven on his mission (almost at the very start of the book) and never decelerates even for a breather. As the speed of light story line moves bloodily on and on, David Gunn also answers much of the questions from the previous Sven’s adventures; not an easy task for a writer whose prime color in the minds of the audience is red. Readers will appreciate this bleak look at mankind in outer space still fighting one another. Harriet Klausner
The Lost Sister
Megan Kelley Hall
Kensington, Aug 2009, $9.95
It has been one year since the Hawthorne, Massachusetts based SISTERS OF MISERY tried to kill Cordelia LeClaire on nearby Misery Island, but somehow she survived. While she seeks her estranged father Malcolm Crane, whom she blames for the tragedies that have devastated all the females in her family, Maddie feels guilt and remorse for not helping her new friend out of fear of retaliation by the Sisters.
She is away at school struggling with her weakness especially her failure to help Cordelia. Haunted by neurotic trepidations she returns to Hawthorne when she learns her mother is dying from cancer. When a Sister dies at a party hosted by the Endicott family to announce their plans for a new hotel on the site of the Ravenswood Asylum, the police arrest Finn and Reed, who are still suspects in the cold case of the disappearance Cordelia as murder suspects. Cordelia returns so one charge against Finn and Reed is dropped. Meanwhile The Endicott Hotel construction is stopped due a blaze destroying what has been built. The townsfolk are divided in opinion between a human or an otherworldly arsonist. Maddie and Cordelia team up to investigate who burned down the partially constructed hotel and killed the Sister, but neither trusts the other for good reasons; they better move past their suspicions of one another as something is stalking them.
The second Sisters of Misery young adult fantasy will appeal to older readers as well due to the character driven tale containing a deep Gothic feel and haunting foreboding atmosphere that hooks fans of all ages. The lead amateur sleuths are terrific as they investigate while doubting the sincerity of one another at a time they better get over it or else. With strong ties to the late seventeenth century Salem Witch Trials, THE LOST SISTER is a super thriller as evil comes in all packages. Harriet Klausner