Monday, December 28, 2009

Demons and Other Villians

Demon Forged
Meljean Brook
Berkley, Oct 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425230411

Four centuries ago, Guardians Irena and Alejandro began to fall in love. However, when he made a deal with a demon, she rejected him. Alejandro has regretted his action ever since while Irena despondently muses over what never happened between them.

They went their separate ways, but recently a request for help brings the two guardians together for the first times since she sadly left him. He wants a second chance and will do whatever she demands to achieve it. She wants to give him a second chance, but kismet enhanced by a betrayal appears to leave this couple apart for eternity.

The latest Guardians thriller is a well written dark romantic fantasy. This is a second chance at love battling to survive betrayals as the audience will wonder if the odds are better on the Detroit Lions meeting the Oakland Raiders in the next Superbowl. Fans of the saga will relish this terrific DEMON BOUND entry while newcomers will struggle a bit adapting to the Brook demonic mythos, but soon will join the growing legion of Meljean Brook readers. Harriet Klausner

9800 Savage Road
M. E. Harrigan
Forge, Sep 15 2009, $24.99
ISBN: 9780765317964

In 2000 National Security Agency assistant director Alexandra O'Malley heads up Project Meridian, which was set to monitor terrorist leader bin Laden known as UBL inside of NSA. He has been sending and receiving numerous calls at his al-Qaeda headquarters in Afghanistan. All the discussions center on a vague major plot against America, but none provide any worthwhile specificity.

Abruptly the message traffic halts, panicking American security agencies that whatever is planned is imminent. Alex's boyfriend, CIA agent Gabriel Ayala, is sent inside Afghanistan to set up a tap into the al-Qaeda phone system. However, back in the States while Gabriel is deep undercover, someone is murdering key NSA personnel; Alex investigates the homicides that she believes is tied to the expected terrorist assault.

Although this reviewer is doubtful Harrigan would investigate rather then delegate, fans will enjoy this deep look inside NSA as the countdown to 9/11 occurs. Unsurprisingly the story line is not loaded with suspense as the audience knows the tragic outcome, but the fun in the tale is what is going on inside NSA and the CIA. 9800 SAVAGE ROAD provides that big time as M.E. Harrigan writes from an obvious insider’s perspective. Harriet Klausner

Paul Martin Midden
American Book Publishing, Mar 2009, $24.95
ISBN: 9781589824928

When he served in the army, Senator Jake Telemark, the junior member from Wisconsin, was a sniper working cover missions. However, the guilt of collateral damage led to a nervous breakdown. With help he moved on and became a politician.

The daughter of former Senator Hathaway, Dr. Isadore Hathaway, asks for his help. Dora swears that a cabal of a dozen powerful people is making a bid to take over the United States. This group the Bookkeepers plan to establish a theocracy with them in charge. Although Jake initially thinks she is over the top of the Washington Monument, Dora makes a very persuasive case. Her evidence includes inexplicable deaths of First Amendment advocates and poisoned reservoirs. Sold, he returns to his sniper days with the enemy from within.

Mindful of Pogo’s classic commentary that "we have met the enemy and he is us” in an over the top thriller. The story line is action-packed from the moment Dora convinces Jake and remains loaded until the final presidential call. Although a romantic subplot seems forced and the audience needs to ignore plausibility (though Jeff Sharlet author of The Family might argue otherwise), fans will relish this exciting thriller. Harriet Klausner

The Perfect Murder
Brenda Novak
Mira, Oct 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780778327257

One year ago, former cop Malcolm Turner killed his wife and teenage stepson before committing suicide. However, investment banker Sebastian Costas, whose ex-wife and son were the two victims of her second husband, believes Turner faked his death to escape the law. Costas quit his job and has spent the past twelve month futilely trying to prove his theory.

However, Sebastian’s efforts lead him to Last Stand victims’ advocate wannabe investigator Jane Burke. She is searching for two abducted teens (Marcie and Leticia) whose older sister raised them; Jane believes Turner kidnapped them. Jane and Sebastian team up to try to bring down a “dead” killer who connects the pair chasing him and decides to end their pursuit. He failed to do his homework as Jane survived a serial killing husband so has no qualms about destroying Turner.

The latest Last Stand thriller (see THE PERFECT LIAR and THE PERFECT COUPLE) is a super tale that stars a strong cast which includes the villain who committed the PERFECT MURDER, but had not factored in the impact of getting away with the homicides; he has to accept menial jobs with no respect. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Malcolm stalks his high school sweetheart and never slows down. Although the romance between Sebastian and Jane is a requirement of the sub-genre, the subplot enhances the anticipated confrontation. Harriet Klausner

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