Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Harriet Reads Some More

Crimes by Moonlight: Mysteries from the Dark Side
Edited by Charlaine Harris
Berkley, Apr 2010, $24.95
ISBN: 9780425235638

These twenty short stories focus on paranormal mysteries that run the urban fantasy gamut with vampires, werewolves, witches, ghosts, seers, mages and Mike Hammer making featured appearances. All of the contributions by The Mystery Writers of America authors are enjoyable tales that sub-genre fans will want to read as the diversity of the supernatural adds to the overall fun. Vampires are right at home in Parnell Hall's amusing “Death of a Vampire” and Charlaine Harris’s “Dahlia Underground”. Ghosts star in Harley Jane Kozak’s “Madeeda”, Carolyn Hart’s “Riding High” as a marriage counselor and even as a phantom ship in Lou Kemp's “In Memory of the Sibylline”. Finally Hammer has a “Grave Matter” (by Max Allan Collins and Mickey Spillane) case with a supernatural taint. This is a strong anthology as everyone contributing showed up in top form providing enjoyable Crimes by Moonlight: Mysteries from the Dark Side collection. Harriet Klausner

Dragonfly Falling
Adrian Tchaikovsky
Pyr, Apr 27 2010, $16.00
ISBN: 9781616141950

For generations, the methodical Wasp kinden Empire has slowly conquered the Lowlands. Only recently has some enlightened members of the other species realize the perilous threat of the advancing Wasp horde.

Currently the Wasp army threatens Collegium, a city with a mix of opinions as the resistance is strong here and so are the deniers. Stenwold so far has failed to persuade the Collegium leadership that the Wasp threat endangers the city.

In Tark, Totho and Salma are arrested as spies by a fearful of strangers law enforcement officials who determine guilt based mainly on one’s status. They are released, but seemingly too late as the Wasp army has the city under siege.

This is a fascinating second tale (see Empire in Black and Gold) in a unique fantasy series in which the world built by Adrian Tchaikovsky engages the audience. The strife is reminiscent of the Greco-Persan Wars (the movie 300 is one major battle) , but with the refreshing insectoid spin. Fans who appreciate something different in their military-social fantasies will want to read the strong Shadows of the Apt saga as a deep entrenched caste system struggles with survival since the invasion changes everything previously accepted as the divine order.
Harriet Klausner

The Last Christian
David Gregory
WaterBrook, May 4 2010, $14.99
ISBN: 9781400074976

In 2088, the unknown disease has devastated the small Inisi village. Desperate, Christian missionary Abigail Caldwell leaves the jungle for the first time in eight years seeking help for those surviving. She is found dehydrated and taken to Meriden Hospital in Lae where she is treated by American Dr. Kate Sampson. The two women fly by helicopter to the village only to find everyone dead.

Grieving as she loved the villagers, Abby goes to America after receiving an odd missive from her neuroscientist grandfather, an inventor of brain transplants. She is stunned to find Christianity is dead in America, but she vows to lead the crusade to bring it back from the grave. However, her grandfather is also dead. His death leads her to History Professor Creighton Daniels, whose father like Abby’s grandfather and villagers suddenly died. The duo join forces to investigate what is going on. They soon discover a plot to evolve mankind into eternal non-believers transhumans with silicon based brains and no one will stop them; not even two people grounded in faith that God created Adam and Eve.

The Last Christian is a terrific futuristic thriller in which the religious elements come across (no pun intended) as powerful and refreshing while the political spin felt mechanical, a rehashing of early twenty-first century DC paralysis. Fast-paced with two strong believers as champions, sub-genre fans will want to join these David’s as they battle Goliaths with plans to make mankind in their image. Harriet Klausner

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