Sunday, May 23, 2010

Book Reviews from Harriet

Harriet stays busy reading. Here are some more books reviews to share with you.

Alaya Johnson
Dunne, Mar 2010, $24.99
ISBN: 9780312565473

In 1920s Manhattan, Zephyr Hollis is a rare human immune to vampires. The offspring of a demon hunter, she is a social activist who always makes time for the Family Action Committee for Nonhuman Laborers equal rights protests of City Hall (to the chagrin of Mayor Jimmy Walker) and teaches at a Lower East Side night school for underprivileged paranormal.

Considered a softhearted liberal, Zephyr is surprised when her student Amir the djinn suggest she kill vampire mobster Rinaldo. However, Amir never explains why Rinaldo must die, but she agrees as she can use the money he offers. Zephyr turns to the ruthless Turn Boys for insider trading information even as her hunting father prepares to kill them and the bloodsuckers high on a new customized street drug try to dine on her.

Moonshine is a fabulous urban historical fantasy that will have readers believing in a paranormal 1920s New York City though Gentleman Jimmy is probably turning over in his grave. The amusing story line never takes it self seriously even when blood (not always red) flows. Although the city (and somewhat story line) is inundated by the horde of supernatural species, fans will enjoy the Roaring Twenties Manhattan adventures of the Vampire Suffragette. Harriet Klausner

The Devil's Playground
Jenna Black
Dell, Mar 23 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780440244943

Exorcist Morgan Kingsley knows not to be complacent as no one has tried to killer in several months. However, because no one has made an attempt does not mean she should ignore her paranoia. Besides her boyfriend, Brian has issues with her sharing her human body with demon king Lugh.

Meanwhile Lugh ironically may be inside an exorcist, but has not sat back idly. Instead on the Mortal Plain, Lugh has established a royal council. They have evidence that Lugh’s traitorous brother Dougal has set in motion in Philadelphia at the Seven Deadlies demonic nightclub the openings salvo of another fratricide assassination attempt in order to take over as the ruler of all demons. Lugh knows he has no choice but to kill his brother or be killed while his hostess body jumps head first into the fray.

Trust is the key to the latest superb Kingsley urban fantasy as the heroine distrusts everyone except to e a degree Brian and she has no choice with Lugh. The monarch has to rely on the obstinate Morgan to do the right thing for both of them. With betrayal everywhere, Kingsley and Lugh know no one has their back to the delight of fans of this excellent saga as the overarching devilish theme moves forward (except when the heroine pukes in a toilet due to control shifts) to the anticipated war of the brothers. Harriet Klausner

Destiny's Star
Elizabeth Vaughan
Berkley, Apr 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425234679

Ezren Silvertongue the Storyteller knows he owes his life to take charge warrior Lady Bethral, who fell from the sky only to save him from certain death. He also knows he loves her, but conceals his feelings from his lady as he believes he is undeserving of his warrior; partly because he cannot control the wild magic that flows within him.

When the wild magic explodes, Bethral makes Ezren, accompanied by her relocation magic travel to the isolated plains. However, the Warrior-Priests attack the pair with plans to sacrifice Storyteller and regain the wild magic. However, Bethral and some local warriors defend Ezren to insure evil practitioners do not obtain his magic.

Fans of Elizabeth Vaughan will relish Destiny’s Star as the author deftly combines her two fantasy sagas by having support Star players fight for their lives on the plains of the Warlands. The lead pair shows they can be stars of their own tale even if it is in another land as the kick butt female warrior and the mage carrier fall in love while helping the Plains’ people. Fans will relish this strong romantic quest fantasy as the action never slows down while the Plains come alive with ironically death in the aptly titled Destiny’s Star. Harriet Klausner

Shoot to Thrill
P.J. Tracy
Putnam, Apr 29 2010, $24.95
ISBN: 9780399155208

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
David Stone
Putnam, Apr 29 2010, $25.95
ISBN: 9780399156328

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

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