More from Harriet
Medallion, Oct 1 2009, $7.95
The Cipher is a psychopathic serial killer who takes perverse extra pleasure with seeing the face of terror on his victims. He slices their throats with a caring tenderness; takes a photo of their fear-ridden face; and finally kills them. Afterward he uses the picture to have a likeness tattooed on his body so he carries their soul with him that he steals just when they die.
Jake Helman is a fallen cop who uses cocaine to take the edge off the demons that haunt his soul. His wife Sheryl is irate with him and is threatening to leave him. Although he cares about her and what she will do, he remains diligent with stalking the Cipher. Billionaire Nicholas “Old Nick” Tower needs a Chief of Security to protect his genetic engineering corporation; he learns of Jake and hires him, which saves his marriage but not his soul as the Tower Corporation takes him away from the Cipher hunt, but soon the soul searching former cop has a new evil to investigate.
This taut serial killer horror thriller hooks readers from the onset and as the tension grows the audience becomes deeper involved. The cast is strong especially the Cipher who is an incredible villain with no doubts or bouts of remorse while his adversary is crippled with doubts and bouts of remorse; throw in aptly named Old Nick into the mix. Each has crutches with Cipher being the tattoos and Jake cocaine and alcohol. Fans will appreciate this edgy dark thriller anticipating the gruesome confrontation between evil and fallen good. Harriet Klausner
DAW, Oct 2009, $25.95
Gwenhwyfar is the daughter of King Lleeudd, the nominal vassal to King Arthur, who is struggling to unite England while fighting off the Saxon incursion. Her mother follows the old ways while Arthur straddles the line between the pagan past and the followers of Christ. Gwenhwyfar has a younger sister Gwenhwyfach who hates her goes off with Morgana to learn the magic of the Old ways. The good daughter is heavily imbued with power and it is thought she would go study at the school of the Ladies of the Well.
However Gwen is told she is touched by another Goddess Epora who is worshipped by warriors as the horse goddess. Gwen turns her back on magic and with her father’s consent, becomes a warrior. Over time she becomes the head of her father’s army respected by the men as their best warrior. For years she has done what makes her happy but when Arthur’s second wife dies without an heir, Gwen is the chosen one as his next spouse. Arthur’s bastard son kidnaps her and the leader of the Otherworld with the assistance of a priest helps her escape. She must return to a husband who she does not love in a land on the brink of war with her sister Gwenhwyfach amongst the enemy.
Mercedes Lackey has written her version of King Arthur who is an old man married to a young woman in order to begat his heir. He is far from the hero of legend especially with his treatment of his wives. Gwenhwyfar is a courageous hardened warrior who plans military strategy for her father in a world where Christ is displacing the old ways, she tries to treat both camps fairly although she possesses some of the magic of the Sisters. This is a brilliant feminist twist to the Arthurian saga. Harriet Klausner
Oceanview, Oct 5 2009, $24.95
In Philadelphia, the family of the late famous billionaire philanthropist Paul Parnell gathers for the reading of his will. He had outlived the three women in his life before dying at seventy-five. His first spouse Katherine died in 1963 giving him his two oldest children Daniel and Francis. His second significant other Monica expired in 1995 but they divorced two decades after one offspring, Monica. Finally his last marriage was to Vivian who past away three years earlier after leaving him with three kids (Rory, Ashley and Carla).
The estate is enormous, but his adult children and those with spouses are stunned by what the executor explains to them. Paul felt he neglected his family and decided to “test” them. His five legitimate heirs are further disturbed to lean of his illegitimate offspring Monica. The angriest is Frank and his wife Meredith as they planned on his presidential run funded somewhat by the inheritance. The stipulation is simple: each must give back to society over the next year in order to deserve a share of the billions. Taking advantage of the confusion is avaricious psychiatrist Dr. Conrad Welton who plots to marry Ashley. Let the fun begin.
THE TEST is Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None in a sort of Dynasty Survival contest in the first two years of this century. The story line is driven by the ensemble cast who by their varying behavior seem genuine though most of them spoiled as they cause twists to the plot compounded by a serpent in the battle to own Eden. Readers will enjoy Patricia Gussin’s entertaining tale as Paul wanted to just get his children to give back and not just take, but he could not have known how deadly his test would prove to some of his children and their spouses. Harriet Klausner