Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Historical, Forensics and Lucas Davenport

Kathy is under the weather today, so here's Harriet to the rescue.

Fire in the East
Harry Sidebottom
Overlook, Oct 2009, $14.95
ISBN: 9781590202463

By AD 255, the Roman Empire struggles to maintain order especially in the outlying sectors as barbarians and infidels pose viable threats as Command and Control is almost nonexistent. Emperors Valerian and Gallienus send the honorary Dux Ripea, Marcus Clodius Bastilla, to take command of the legion on the eastern border.

Marcus leaves his wife in Rome and travels to his new outpost. He arrives in Arete, Syria where his force is struggling to defend against the overwhelming Sassanid Persian army. He expects reinforcements but has no idea how many or when. Meanwhile, he finds treachery and betrayal from within as traitors, especially amongst the elite patrician officers, resent someone who was not even a citizen too long ago ordering them about and the Persians have assassins trying to kill him.

This is an intriguing historical thriller that has relevance today as Harry Sidebottom provides insight into how destructive the Roman Empire can be to defend its freedoms by destroying those very liberties with security enforcement filled with bloody battles. The story line is action-packed from the moment Marcus says good bye to his wife as he deploys where he is unwanted and knows treachery and betrayal will be the norm as no one has his back except for perhaps stabbing him there.. Fans will relish this first Warriors of Rome profound thought provoking ancient historical military thriller as Mr. Sidebottom makes a strong but bloody case affirming Benjamin Franklin’s “They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security”. Harriet Klausner

Blood Game
Iris Johansen
St. Martin's, Oct 20 2009, $27.99

Forensic sculpture Eve Duncan goes home after a complex mentally draining case that featured the murders of several children (see QUICKSAND). She opens her refrigerator to find a goblet with blood stains inside. It looks identical to a goblet found by the corpse of nineteen year old Nancy Jo Norris; the blood had been drained from the U.S. senator's daughter.

Eve’s lover FBI agent Joe Quinn apparently can now see dead people; at least two that is: Nancy Jo and Eve’s daughter Bonnie. He assumes that he somehow obtained this paranormal skill from psychic Megan Blair (see QUICKSAND and PANDORA'S DAUGHTER). The ghosts thirst for blood so assist the human sleuths on a search for a wannabe Dracula copy cat killer.

This is an exciting Eve Duncan serial killer thriller that increases dramatically the paranormal elements. Eve remains restless, but Joe has proven to be a comfort for her as Bonnie haunts her emotionally and haunts him directly. The story line is fast-paced as Eve and Joe with help from beyond hunt a vampire killer, but gothic overtones detract from the suspense as the lead couple is too well known by fans for the pair to be overly melodramatic. Still BLOOD GAME is a fascinating Duncan investigative tale. Harriet Klausner

Rough Country
John Sandford
Putnam, Oct 2009, $26.95
ISBN: 9780399155987

Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension Agent Virgil Flowers is in a fishing tournament when his boss Lucas Davenport calls him. Lucas directs Virgil to investigate the shooting death of Minneapolis ad executive with strong ties to the Democrats Erica McDill at the nearby Eagle Nest Lodge.

Virgil quickly heads to the Grand Rapids to learn what he can at the lodge. He interviews owner Margery Stanhope, who explains most people who stay at the lodge are lesbians. Virgil questions the all girl rock band and wealthy guests who can purchase young men or women for a tryst without blinking. As Virgil investigates he learns there was a homicide here last year that seems unrelated, but now he seeks a link when a third killing occurs. He knows he better find the killer before another homicides occur.

The setting of the lodge being a place for lesbians to relax and have fun makes for a great counter to super womanizer Virgil, who is at his outlandish amusing best as he muses whether he is in heaven or hell. The investigation is super with Virgil adjusting his theory to new clues and especially another homicide. Fans who enjoy the Davenport police procedurals will enjoy the terrific efforts of one of his detective (see DARK OF THE MOON and HEAT LIGHTNING) whose behavior is quite different from that of his superior. Harriet Klausner

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