Cemetery Dance, May 2010, $30.00
Nathan had an ordinary childhood until his half sister died; which plunged his mother into a depression that made her a recluse who could not leave the house nor throw anything out. Their home was covered with piles everywhere making it impossible to walk. Both his parents told him and his sister Pam cautionary tales that made each fear even crossing the street.
Nathan and Pam were in the woods near his best friend Aaron’s home. An accident occurs and Aaron falls into the overflowing creek and cannot get out. Neither of his two companions can swim, but both refuse to give up on rescuing Aaron. They come up with an idea, but as they leave the woods with their friend still in the water Aaron curses them. Later Nathan goes to visit Aaron; his friend’s brother beats him up.
Nathan and his family move to another state; where he grows up into a male “spinster”, afraid to take even the slightest chance. However, after his parents die, something from their warnings surfaces to challenge Nathan’s Invisible fences that allow no risks.
The child is the adult as the impressionable boy is frightened by his parents by their stories into fearing life. Nathan faces a supernatural essence that is a horror from his childhood; leaving readers to wonder if he psychologically created his demon. This is a chilling tale as Norman Prentiss provides a profound look at the child inside the adult whose fear is palpable while the audience wonders if it is externally real or internal psychosomatically real. Harriet Klausner
Shoot to Thrill
Putnam, Apr 29 2010, $24.95
Minneapolis Police department homicide detectives Gino Rolseth and Leo Magozzi are sent to a decrepit section of the Mississippi where they see the body of a dead floater dressed in a bridal outfit. They later learn the homicide of the drag queen in a wedding dress was filmed for the Internet crowd.
FBI cyber crime special agent John Smith joins the Minneapolis PD inquiry into the bride murder and other similar filmed horrifying deaths. He also enlists the aid of the Monkeewrench computer gurus (Harley Davidson, Grace MacBride, Annie Belinski and Roadrunner) who have helped law enforcement before including donating special software applications. While the Minneapolis detectives follow more typical procedures, the Monkeewrench crew works on a program to delineate real web-based murder from acting. As more homicides occur in other cities but linked to the bridal murder, no progress is made until a victim in Medford, Oregon survives.
This is a superb police procedural that fans of the Monkeewrench crew will fully appreciate while newcomers will be hooked immediately by the likable team and seek out previous thrillers (see Dead Run and Snow Blind). The story line is fast-paced from the moment the two Minneapolis cops begin to investigate the bridal drag queen floater case and never takes a respite as the Feds and their computer “consultants” make inquiries into live Internet serial killing from other cities. Shoot to Thrill is a fabulous entry in a consistently strong series. Harriet Klausner
The Skorpian Directive
Putnam, Apr 29 2010, $25.95
CIA “cleaner” Micah Dalton is in Vienna meeting with former-Mossad field operative Issadore Galan when he feels something is not right. Used to cleaning up the mess of failed operations, he fears he will need a cleaner too, as he quickly realizes that he is under surveillance by unknown assumed to be hostile enemies. Not one to sit back and wait, Micah catches one of them, Veronika Miklas.
After sex, he flees with her accompanying him following a failed assault on him. Someone wants Micah dead, but he is unsure why; especially since his CIA contacts and handlers are part of the death squad pursuers. He turns to his alcoholic psychopathic friend Ray Fyke to insure he has his back covered. As the trio travels to the Balkans, the former KGB assassins, an American top secret agency, other espionage groups, and Smoke the Serbian killer follow with death to the threesome as their mantra.
The latest Cleaner espionage thriller (see The Venetian Judgment, The Echelon Vendetta and The Orpheus Deception) is a great conspiratorial story line filed with action, action and more action. The cast is especially powerful including the enigmatic killing machine Smoke while the locales enhance the exciting plot. Genre fans will enjoy The Skorpian Directive as someone high up has decided to clean the cleaner. Harriet Klausner
The Secret of Excalibur
Bantam, Mar 23 2010, $7.99
Eddie Chase and Nina Wilde have been successful with finding ancient myths (see The Hunt for Atlantis and The Tomb of Hercules). Not the type to sit on their laurels, neither knows what next until family friend historian Bernd Rust sends Nina a cryptic message about the sword of Excalibur. He explains to her his belief shared by a Russian that Arthur's legendary sword exists and is a source of earth energy no longer used in modern times.
Before they can further talk, Rust is murdered. Nina sells Eddie on the worthiness of a search while fearing a Russian Kruglov perhaps backed by his government and the American governments are also seeking the sword that allegedly makes a bearer invincible in battle. Lost for over a millennium, the daring duet begins their search in the deserts of the Middle East, but as they elude deadly encounters, they follow clues to Siberia.
The third Wilde and Chase adventure thriller is a fast-paced, action-packed and over the top of Camelot saga that is fun to read. From the opening scene with Kruglov, the giant Russian and the blue-haired lady visiting a church but not for confession until the final anticipated confrontation, fans will enjoy the escapades of the lead heroes as they distrust the Americans as much as the Russians. This work is very entertaining, a superb thriller that hooks the audience from the very first page. Harriet Klausner