Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Update and reviews from Harriet

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Herbert’s Wormhole
Peter Nelson and Rohitash Rao
Harper, Jun 2009, $12.99
ISBN: 9780061688683

His parents have rooted for their ten year old son Alex to win his Alien-Slayer 2 game so they can have some peace; he promised them that once he was victorious he would spend the rest of the summer outside. Thus when he wins, his parents rejoice as he has been driving them crazy over the first half of the summer.

His parents send their six-grader to their brilliant neighbor Herbert Skewg, who shows the preadolescent his latest invention that creates a wormhole shortcut through the space-time continuum. The pair journeys a century into the future to find their hometown run by the kind six tentacle G’Daliens who need a hair make over. The humans and the G’Daliens welcome the time travelers in a friendly way though the latter’s diction sounds somewhat Aussie. Herbert and Alex soon become embroiled with preventing a scheme to take over by an outraged G’Dalien Gor-Don who was rejected by a human woman.

Filled with numerous drawings on almost every page by Rohitash Rao, HERBERT’S WORMHOLE is an enjoyable older elementary school science fiction with a sort of youngster’s smirk to the fun story line. Fast-paced once the dynamic duo meet the G’Daliens and the future humans, young readers will enjoy Peter Nelson's exciting futuristic thriller though at times the illustrations distract from the plot especially when they depict something different than the prose on the same page. Still this is a fun romp that will have the audience traveling back to the future with Alex and Herbert. Harriet Klausner

Mark of the Demon
Diana Rowland
Bantam, Jun 23 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780553592351

On her first homicide case, Beualac police detective Kara Gillian needs help capturing a serial killer who has murdered thirteen taking their souls with him. Instead of other cops, she uses her inherited occult skills as a demon summoner to conjuror up a minor demon to help her stop the Symbol Man. However, the mage is stunned when her ritual brings her demon lord Rhyzkahl.

At the next murder scene the wastewater plant, Kara senses a trace of magic, but before she can follow up, she is stunned when FBI Agent Ryan Kristoff arrives. She needs his help, but also fears the price she will pay to bring in a killer thought dead three years ago; as Kara knows Ryan’s touch burns her soul.

This romantic police procedural fantasy is a fast-paced thriller starring two fascinating lead characters who each understands catching the Symbol Man comes before their personal desires. The investigation is top rate as paranormal clues are as important to solving the case as the mundane (poor choice of words with what happens to the victims). Sub-genre fans will welcome Diana Rowland into the fold as the author brings a fascinating twist to forensic science and police work with the exhilarating magic murder mystery MARK OF THE DEMON. Harriet Klausner

Best Served Cold
Joe Abercrombie
Orbit, Jul 29 2009, $24.99
ISBN 9780316044967

Nineteen bloody years of civil war with no end in sight as each side of the armed conflict claims the high road, but those living in Styria know differently as hostilities and atrocities are the norm. Duke Orso thinks he can end the war and be named King of Styria for doing so. He believes assassinating infamous General Monza Murcatto, a bloody mercenary known rightfully as The Snake of Talins, is all he needs to do.

The attempt fails though Monza is severely injured and her brother is dead. As she heals, she vows to cut off the heads of Orso and his collaborators. She brings together a team of killers who have no consciences or care about collateral damage. They kill Orso and his six co-conspirators, but now Orso’s family and that of his dead partners vow vengeance.

Returning to the world of the First Law saga, Joe Abercrombie provides his fans with a great sword and sorcery fantasy that contains his trademark dark humor and gender bending cast. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Orso sets up the failed assassination and never slows down as vengeance fuels each side to raise the ante. BEST SERVED COLD is simply a super thriller in which a head count has literal connotations. Harriet Klausner

The Dame
R.A. Salvatore
Tor, Aug 2009, $25.95
ISBN 9780765317902

In Honce, after beheading the evil Ancient Badden, Bransen Garibond and his five cohorts bring the dead head to Dame Gwydre of Vanguard as proof they did the deed. Bransen hopes the aristocrat lets him go home as all he wants is to spend time with his wife in Pryd Town.

However, instead of trekking home, Bransen is accused of assassinating King Delval and other seditious acts against the state. Although the charges are false and those who bring them smirk as they are aware of that, he is offered a choice between jail and another deadly quest. Outraged over the unfairness of being punished for the success of bringing the evil one’s head and caught between fighting blocs, a volunteered Bransen, accompanied by scout Jameston Sequin begins another undesired mission with the added incentive of proving his innocence.

The sequel to THE ANCIENT is an entertaining fantasy as Bransen is once again forced on a quest he not only does not want to do, but is not his issue except the powers make it his. Thus he is not just a reluctant hero; he is an angry antihero. His escapades and that of his cronies are typical of the quest subgenre and his adventures fail to nudge the overarching theme forward; still readers who enjoy a fine quest fantasy will want to join Bransen and his teammates on their deadly mission. Harriet Klausner

Branded by Fire
Nalini Singh
Berkley, Jul 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425226735

With her DarkRiver sentinels mated, Mercy Smith feels somewhat abandoned, but also knows as an alpha, few men will meet the demands of her cat and human needs. However, the worst that could happen is she is attracted to an alpha male, SnowDancer Lieutenant Riley Kincaid. Mercy is unaware that Riley loathes the concept that he desires the female equivalent of him.

Someone abducts a young changeling, which frightens the law abiding packs. They fear a new threat has surfaced that could cause havoc if not stopped early. Mercy and Riley with the support of their respective packs team up to uncover a conspiracy to undermine the peace. They must rescue the changeling while each has reasons not to pursue their attraction, but neither can prevent the pull from getting stronger.

The sixth Psy-Changeling romantic suspense fantasy (see, MINE TO POSSESS, SLAVE TO SENSATION and CARESSED BY ICE, etc.) is a super entry in a great series. The world of Singh seems genuine as the sentinels, their mates, and their enemies come across as real. Fans will enjoy the mission that Riley and mercy team up on as two alphas in love will leave the audience wondering who will end up on top. Harriet Klausner

Sucker for Love
Kimberly Raye
Ballantine, Jun 23 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780345503664

At a Dead End Dating gala, Esther, a Born vampire client who is five century old (who’s counting – she’s not) Lilliana Marchette, vanishes. Hostess of the evident, pink loving vampire Lil learns that the warlock Mordred Lucius abducted the vampire with plans to use her in a ritual as an Undead sacrifice. Mordred plans to regain his youth and obtain immortality.

Lil is told to mind her business as Mordred is too powerful to confront. However, she believes interfering is her business as the warlock stole a client from her. She begins her quest to save Esther’s vampiric life (an anti oxymoron) while avoiding the warlock. However, the party attendees and crashers from her mom, her best friend, and her brother’s girlfriend refuse to let her go it alone; making stealth somewhat difficult.

The latest Dead End Dating (see JUST ONE BITE) is a terrific paranormal amateur sleuth as Lil and her cronies take on the worst dude in town without her significant other Ty, a bounty hunter working a case. The story line is a fun filled over the top of the Empire State Building caper as pampered Lil feels she is responsible for matchmaking her clients and since Mordred is not one of them, he can’t have Esther who is one of them. Fans of the series will enjoy Lil and the stable as they challenge Manhattan’s meanest malevolent mage Mordred the Warlock.
Harriet Klausner

Mr. Monk and the Dirty Cop
Lee Goldberg
Obsidian, Aug 2009, $22.95
ISBN: 9780451226983

When tragedy struck SFPD Detective Adrian Monk, he had a nervous breakdown; when he recovered he suffered from a severe case of obsessive compulsive disorder. He no longer functions as a cop yet remains brilliant at solving mysteries. His former superior Captain Leland Stottlemeyer uses him as a paid consultant on the most difficult cases, but begins to detest the fact that Mr. Monk gets the praise while he receives scorn and derision.

The Captain swears to Mr. Monk he is not jealous, but the latter’s assistant Natalie believes otherwise. However, the captain soon lets Monk and Natalie go due to budget cuts. Angrily she wants her boss to find a new job within the private sector. Nicholas Slade, CEO of the Internect private security and investigation firm, hires Monk, who accepts the position because of the benefits. While Monk solves cases at an incredible pace, Stottlemeyer is arrested for killing a criminal informant suffering from Alzheimer’s. The captain swears he was framed and asks his friend and colleague whom he fired to find the real culprit. Even Natalie wants Monk to take the case on, which he does.

No one writes books based on popular TV series better than Lee Goldberg consistently does as the author always catches the essence of the key characters and their prevalent traits; in this case obviously the OCD. Mr. Monk in spite of his crippling illness gets around solving crimes at a Guinness Book of records rate. Natalie is protective of Monk so she lashes out at those who harm him like the captain did. Although the prime case takes time to become front and center, fans will enjoy Mr. Monk’s latest adventures as he solves case after case after case. Harriet Klausner

Secret of the Seventh Son
Glenn Cooper
Harper, Aug 2009, $7.99
ISBN 9780061721793

In New York, the victim receives a postcard of a coffin just prior to being murdered. The FBI assigns the case to Agent Will Piper, who has no interest in a serial killer investigation as he nears retirement. Young agent Nancy Lipinski is tasked to work with Will, who has even less interest in mentoring a rookie.

The clues outside of the postcards are nonexistent as the psychopath is careful to leave nothing behind. Meanwhile Will is ugly to Nancy over her being overweight and even nastier to his junior partner when he drinks excessively while investigating or when he is hung over. However, as they begin to find ties to a medieval scenario and he sobers up, Will and Nancy begin a romance.

This is an engaging mystical FBI thriller with a supernatural tie to the SECRET OF THE SEVENTH SON born in 777. The story line is fast-paced when Will stays sober long enough to not have a hangover; but too much of the plot is tied up by his drinking, which after the first time the audience got the message. Still fans will enjoy the legendary profiler ready for the pasture of toasting his past glory and the rookie who brings him back to life.
Harriet Klausner

The Alpine Uproar
Mary Daheim
Ballantine, Jun 23 2009, $25.00
ISBN: 9780345502551

The weekly Alpine Advocate newspaper covers the brawl between car mechanic Alvin De Muth and trucker Clive Berentsen at the Icicle Creek Tavern. De Muth was killed and Berentsen arrested by Skykomish County Sheriff Milo Dodge for the homicide. The paper’s editor-publisher Emma Lord has doubts as the witnesses contradict one another as to what they saw and none saw the actual killing blow. House & Home editor Vida adds to her concerns when she insists most locals despised De Muth.

Unlike the law and the townsfolk, Emma and Vida believe there is enough doubt to warrant further inquiries, which they do. Meanwhile Milo who is not just covering his butt decides on a second autopsy of De Muth because he begins to doubt also since no one admits they saw the punch that killed him. A traffic fatality of a young man high on drugs leads Emma to believe a dealer is in town but that and the death remain unsolved even as she ends up in a cat fight with a woman wanting to kick her butt in.

The latest Alpine journalistic mystery is an engaging whodunit with a support cast seemingly that could fill up Qwest Field, but as always belongs to the reporting BFFs especially Emma. The story line is fun to follow as Emma tries to tie together seemingly unrelated events. Although not a new underlying theme of a universally loathsome person getting murdered, fans will enjoy Emma and Vida seeking to find the truth when chaos and satisfaction prevail.
Harriet Klausner

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