More reviews from Harriet.
Knopf, Oct 2009, $25.95
Excellent contract killer Toby “Lucky the Fox” O'Dare works for the Right Man who insists his chosen victims are the bad guys while their side is funded by the good guys. Toby has come a long way from a family tragedy that changed his life; when his mom murdered his siblings and herself, he quit God because he believed God deserted him. He no longer continued his studies for the priesthood, but remorse is setting in.
He has just completed his latest kill when guardian angel Malchiah coming out of the shadows offers Toby a chance for redemption. Toby accepts the deal, but finds himself in the thirteenth century in England; masquerading as a Dominican friar. He is immediately caught up in a vendetta against all Jews; as a couple Meir and Fluria is accused of killing their daughter for her converting to Christianity. His assignment is to prevent a religious massacre.
The first The Songs of the Seraphim saga is an exhilarating redemption thriller starring a fascinating protagonist who goes from one extreme to another. His “past” in “Angel Time” (our recent past and present in “Natural Time”) and that of the Jewish couple and their daughter’s “Natural Time” add depth though it is somewhat disjointed (as time flows differently between NT and AT) to understanding Toby’s life and medieval life for Jews inside a Christian world. Using real persona and events in thirteenth century England, Anne Rice provides a deep save the soul story. Fans will enjoy Toby’s attempts to redeem his soul although he understands he can never make up for violating the Commandment Thou Shall Not Kill, but he has begun his soul survivor salvation mission in the past and hopefully with a call to New Orleans.Harriet Klausner
Orbit, Jul 2009, $15.99
In the Fourth Kingdom Tungdil Bolofar the dwarf was found as an abandoned infant and raised amidst the long-uns. He works for master magus Lot-Ionan the Forbearing ruler of the enchanted realm of Ionandar, who is one of the great sorcerers protecting the Girdlegard Valley; a land also defended by mountains on all sides with five passages watched over by the five tribes of dwarves.
However, all is not well in Girdlegard in the 5199th Solar Cycle. The evil ones want to breach the natural and species fortification. The alfar, gnomes, trolls, orcs, and others have apparently found an egress through the deserted Fifthling Kingdom while the sorcerers are busy trying to prevent the spread of the Perished Land where those who die reanimate as tormented revenants. However, a traitor from within has placed Girdlegard in jeopardy. On an assignment for his master, Tungdil meets dwarves especially a female he is attracted to; but the mission comes first.
The incredibly deep vivid descriptions of the five kingdoms is a two edged sword as readers become fully versed with the Heitz fantasy realm but also can slow down an exciting sword and sorcery saga. The cast is strong as the culture of with long-uns, magus, and dwarves come across as genuine. Fans will enjoy Tungdil’s escapades as he goes from a blacksmithing ward to adventures to save the world as he knows it; ironically his quest changes that world because he begins seeing it differently. With a nod to Willow, DWARVES is en entertaining well written quest fantasy that at time times slows down with the mountains of detail. Harriet Klausner
Dexter by Design
Doubleday, Sep 8 2009, $29.95
Miami Police department forensic technician Dexter Morgan has just returned from his honeymoon with his wife Rita in Paris. However, he has no time to ease back into his role of studying blood splatter patterns. Two corpses brutalized in a way that only Dexter would appreciate (especially the fruit “basket” designer body) have been found on the beach; a sacred part of Miami unlike the streets.
Dexter’s sister Sergeant Deborah is investigating the homicides when a suspect Alex Doncevic stabs her before fleeing the scene. Dexter assumes Alex is the serial killer and murders him; not out of sibling love or loyalty but because he is an avenging angel murdering murderers. However, to his shock his homicide of Doncevic appears on You Tube while Dexter also realizes the serial killer remains free to keep playing with him.
This is an amusing satirical Dexter thriller as his latest caper is a bit more personal than usual. Although the plot is thin and the climax feels forced, Dexter and his straight foil Doakes make for a delightfully droll dark dueling duet as the serial killing technician balances a wife with his homicidal activities. Harriet Klausner
Vanguard, Sep 29 2009, $25.95
In 1971 eleven year old Dylan Raines killed his entire family except his older brother Richard whose leg was severely sliced up. Dylan suffered from selective amnesia not recalling how he murdered his father, mother, sister and cat with an ax that put him in the international headlines as Minnesota’s “Butcher Boy”. Richard takes Dylan from Rochester to New Orleans with him to start over.
Polly Deschamps grew up in Mississippi living in a brutal home. At fifteen she fled into the night vowing to never return. Now she is a professor at Tulane raising two kids as a single mom following a divorce. Polly remarries charming Marshall who is extremely nice to her daughters. However her new spouse acts odd at times and her brother-in-law Danny is even stranger; which begins to frighten her.
With Anna Pigeon taking a breather, Nevada Barr provides a compelling psychological thriller that grips the audience from the start to the finish in a one sitting family drama. The story line is character driven as the strong casts including powerful secondary players like the tarot card reader make for a tremendous tense tale. Harriet Klausner