Leisure, Aug 1 2010, $7.99
While trying to save the life of his best friend, Custo Santovari was murdered by traitorous Spencer, an apparent wraith supporter. The Shadowman brings Custo to heaven where his courage and willingness to die for his buddy makes him an angel. However, Custo’s goal is to get back to America to warn his BFF Adam Thorne; besides he rationalizes he is too much a sinner to be an angel.
In Manhattan Annabella the ballerina magically dances causing a rift between realms. Custo returns to earth, but also making it through is Wolf the shadow hunter. Custo knows his mission is to go to the New York Segue Institute safe house to warn Adam and to keep safe Annabella from a nightmare; but nothing goes right as Adam thinks he must be a wraith and he falls in forbidden love with the "angel” he protects.
This is a fascinating urban romantic fantasy starring an obsessed lead male fleeing heaven on a quest and the woman who enables him to escape from the angels. The story line is fast-paced, as the city comes across grim and foreboding. Readers learn a little more about the wraiths since the events of Shadows Bound (Adam’s romance), but Shadowman remains enigmatic. Sub-genre fans will relish the second wraith war thriller as the shadows continue to darken the earth. Harriet Klausner
Land of the Burning Sands
Orbit, Jun 1 2010, $7.99
The Kingdom of Casmantium used griffins and the magic of fire to annex territory from its neighbor Feierabiand, but the subsequent war ended in abject defeat (see Lord of the Changing Winds). However, inside Casmantium, the loss has led to a power struggle as the fuming griffins have filled much of the void and are overtly hostile to the other sentient species especially the last surviving mage.
Convicted to a life of slavery Gereint Enseichen also believes the debacle has given him a chance to escape from his servitude. However, instead of freedom across the border, he finds himself caught in the middle of trying to prevent the griffins from turning the kingdom into a graveyard of burning sand as they are doing with the city of Melentser; ceded to them during the peace treaty. His mentor Amnachudran rescues Geraint from his botched plan; he and his wife send Gereint to Bredichboden to become an assistant to their brilliant absent minded scientist daughter Tehre. Back in his home city, the adventures continue as Gereint fears he will be caught while the King tries to save his throne.
While the griffins who starred in the first book take a bit of a respite, Gereint picks up the mantle of driving the story line as he tries to stay free. The story line is fast-paced from start to finish and the aftermath of a bitter defeat is made worse when everyone expected the glory of victory which is the vivid focus of this terrific fantasy. The middle Griffin Mage Trilogy thriller is a terrific entry as the action never stops coming while the cast is superb especially the convicted slave and the scientist. Harriet Klausner
Putnam, Sep 21 2010, $27.95
Bob Tripp, in charge of the Battenberg Farmer’s Co-op grain elevator patiently waits for Jacob Flood to arrive to deposit his crop; Bob plans to kill Jacob. His scheme works perfectly as the police arrive at the scene and conclude he was murdered by Tripp rather than the accident the young man claimed happened. They arrest Tripp who is placed in a jail cell with overnight deputy Jim Crocker remaining in the office. While in the jail Tripp dies in what looks like a suicide, but is a homicide while at his home Crocker is also dead with the evidence pointing towards a female.
Because of a conflict of interest, Warren County Sheriff Lee Coakley asks BIA Agent Virgil Flowers for assistance. They drive separately to Homestead where the killings occurred. The pair learns that two of the victims belonged to the cult World of Spirit where rumors of rape, incest, and young teen brides are acceptable practices. Virgil and the sheriff also know they have no legal admissible evidence as the cult members stick closely together circling the wagons. Knowing the innocent are being harmed, the two law enforcement officials continual their diligence, but remain clueless.
With his fourth Flowers (and the zillion Prey tales) thriller, John Sandford once again affirms he is amongst the top echelon in the police procedural sub-genre. Virgil has a wicked sense of humor that distinguishes him, but when it comes to a case he is serious and meticulous. With plenty of murder, mayhem, and more, fans will enjoy the investigation by “F” Flowers and the female sheriff. Harriet Klausner
The Rembrandt Affair
Putnam, Jul 20 2010, $26.95
Art restorer and retired Mossad agent Gabriel Allon and his agent second wife Chiara retreat to Glastonbury, England for some R&R and a return to normalcy after the recent near fatal abduction of her (see The Defector). However, the respite ends when Allon learns a dear colleague was murdered and the Rembrandt painting the victim was restoring was stolen. Unable to hide on the sidelines, Allon investigates.
Allon’s inquiry into a theft turned ugly takes him into the underbelly of capitalism as European firms clandestinely and illegally are selling reactor centrifuges to Iran. He realizes all nuclear waste in this case leads to Switzerland. Knowing he cannot go it alone, Allon calls in his former crew mates.
The latest Allon thriller is a terrific tale that has a different feel to the story line. The tale starts off as a mystery, but the clues turn the plot into an action-packed espionage thriller. Fast-paced regardless of genre, The Rembrandt Affair has the hero doing his usual quality job as he comes out of retirement to try to prevent the illegal sales to Iran. The escapades never stop until after the final confrontation; yet the key that refreshes this entry is Allon, who on the surface seems the same as in his previous appearances, but long time fans will notice subtle by fascinating differences. Harriet Klausner