Monday, August 2, 2010

Strange Reviews

Shakespeare Undead
Lori Handeland
St. Martin’s griffin, Jun 8 2010, $13.99
ISBN: 9780312641528

In 1592 London, William Shakespeare walks at night in the Southwark neighborhood when he is attacked. Amateur chasseur hunter of the undead Katherine slices his throat. However, Shakespeare counterattacks the lad who tried to cut off his head; only to find he is a she.

To his regret, the vampire bard is attracted to his chasseur especially after he steals a kiss from his dark lady. They soon team up on solving a mystery that threatens the undead and the living of London as zombie gangbangers troll the streets; while Shakespeare also wonders if this time he gets the happy ending with the girl instead of another tragedy in five acts; as the last one he wanted he lost to a Roman and ultimately the asp.

Shakespeare Undead is a lighthearted frolic based on the concept that the Bard would have needed several lifetimes to produce the quantity and quality of his work; thus he must have been an immortal vampire. That twisted logic permeates the humorous spoofing story line. With references to the Elizabethan Era and to the masterpieces, Lori Handeland provides an amusing lampooning starting with the Dark Lady star of the sonnets trying to cut off the Bard’s head; making one wonder just who the Fool is when he wants her with his other head. Over the top of Westminster Abbey, this is a fun Elizabethan fantasy spoof. Harriet Klausner

Shadow Zone
Iris Johansen
St. Martin’s, Jul 20 2010, $26.00
ISBN: 9780312611606

Morinth was a technologically advanced city that sunk to the bottom of the sea, but was recently found. People like submersible designer Hannah Bryson are mapping the city, which has been beautifully preserved. They could see from the city’ design and architecture how the people had a magnificent culture as art especially statues are found. They obtain enough information to determine what living was like in Morinth, but what remains unknown is why the city sunk.

The researchers find a patch of algae on the perimeter that does not seem to be anywhere else. When cultivated, it grows at an extraordinary pace, which unless stopped will overcome all living things in the sea. They also locate an odd artifact, a trellis that explains how the pollution mixed with the algae left the islanders without a food source. The algae called TK 44 can be a weapon of mass destruction worth millions to arms dealer Vincent Gadaire who plans to harvest the algae in order to sell it to the highest bidder. Hanah with the help of Nicholas Kirkov plan to prevent the insane scheme.

The Johansen mother-son team has written an exhilarating thriller that grabs reader attention early and maintains it throughout. The characters are fully developed especially the heroine who is a combo of beauty, brains and brawn. Hannah obsesses over preserving Morinth and saving the world. Gadaire plays an enthralling cat and mouse game with Hannah while Kirkov is an enigmatic individual. Readers will enjoy this timely somewhat over the top environmental thriller. Harriet Klausner

The Search
Nora Roberts
Putnam, Jul 6 2010, 26.95
ISBN: 9780399156571

The Red Scarf Killer murdered twelve twentyish women before he abducted Fiona Bristow, tied her up and tossed her into the trunk of his car. She had a knife on her so was able to get free; Fiona provided the FBI with a description of her kidnapper. They failed to find him until he snatched Fiona’s befriend, killing the caring cop.

After much therapy, Fiona starts over on Orcas Island in Puget Sound. She is a canine search-and-rescue trainer and dog trainer in general who has no plans to have a relationship with artisan Simon Doyle as eight years have passed since her last tragic one ended n his death. As he creates beautiful furniture, they get to know one another due to his feisty matchmaking puppy. As their feelings grow, Fiona feels contentment for the first since the Red Scarf serial killings.

However, that ends when the FBI agents arrive to inform her that someone using imprisoned Perry’s M.O. is killing young women leaving on their necks the telltale red scarf. Law enforcement and Fiona believe the copycat killer is coming for her, but this time she will not run from her nightmare; this time she plans to confront her bogeyman.

The Search is a strong romantic suspense mostly because of the lead couple’s bickering teasing, a strong support cast including an eccentric four legged pup, and the Washington State setting. The serial killer subplot is not new as the copy cat has been done before, but Nora Roberts makes it seem fresh with her incredible writing skill as she uses the S&R canines as key elements in the exciting story line. Readers will enjoy Ms. Roberts' entertaining Puget Sound thriller. Harriet Klausner

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