Sirantha Jax, March and their crew struggle with ending the death and destruction of jumpers in Grimspace. However as the peril from the man-eating Morgut expands, the Conglomerate has need of March. They want March to train an Armada whose missions will be to take the war to the deadly pirates and the Morgut.
Jax considers a perilous trek jumping through Grimspace without the use of beacons. Hesitating she wonders if her new nanotechnology will enable her to do the jump or kill her. However, while she vacillates, Jax also knows time is running out.
The fourth Jax science fiction (see Doubleblind, Wanderlust and Grimspace) continues the outer spaces escapes of the heroine and somewhat less March in the dark (sort of like leaping in grimspace without a beacon) bleak Aguirre universe. The story line is faster than the speed of light as Jax goes from one thrilling adventure to another though she is much more mature but still her philosophy remains shoot first or be killed; questions are irrelevant if you are dead. Fans of the saga will need to set aside time as Killbox is a terrific taut thriller, which sets up book five; newcomers can jump right in and appreciate this entry, but will relish it much more with the reading backlist. Harriet Klausner
Juno (Pocket), $7.99
In Detroit, city fire department arson investigator Anya Kalinczyk works more than just the blazes as she is also a Lantern. Her latter skill is to send spirits into nothingness. Used to 24/7 shifts, six months ago, with her salamander familiar Sparky having her back, she faced the vaunting challenge of Sirrush (see Embers) and has been slow to rebound mentally.
Recently, Anya feels she is returning to her lifestyle pre Sirrush. However, her two skills merge when she is assigned an investigation into what has been purported to be spontaneous human combustion at the home of elderly wealthy Jasper Bernard who was caught in the inferno but left not an iota of a trace of his remains. Her inquiry leads to Hope Solomon who insists she grants miracles to her donors. While Sparky hatches the next generation, Anya senses something not quite right about her or her charity backers as if evil has taken hold feeding on the souls of the desperate.
The terrific second Kalinczyk urban fantasy is a great saga that works mostly because of the portrait of Detroit as a city with many ruins, but trying to recreate a new image. The heroine is fabulous as she keeps her wits and sense of humor in the midst of infernos (some created by unnatural arsons) while battling psychopathic and avarice arsonists and supernatural malevolent essences; in this preying on impoverish forlorn seeking miracles. Harriet Klausner
In 1812, Napoleon's army marches closer and closer to Moscow. Nothing seems to slow down the inevitable. Four Russians are dispatched to obtain help from a dirty dozen mercenaries to hassle the French in order to slow down the encroachment; they agree.
However, two of the Russians Aleksei and Dimitry soon debate whether they made a deal with the devil when the twelve beasts attack civilians; drinking their blood. Aleksei feels these vampires must be destroyed as they harm the populace; Dimitry claims they are allies hurting the French as much as the peasants. As his friend insists the end of stopping Napoleon justifies the mean of deploying vampires even as the undead cause collateral damage without a second thought, Aleksei internally ponders how to rid Russia of the twelve when even his mistress wants to become one of them.
This is a fascinating historical vampire thriller as Jasper Kent places Napoleon’s devastating wintry march into Moscow within a horror setting. The vampires are a bloodthirsty lot who do not delineate when it comes to a French or Russian morsel when dining on humans; a lesser species on the food chain. Aleksei is an intriguing character whose conscience has him deeply disturbed with what they wrought. Although he can overdo his internal debate, readers will enjoy this terrific horror thriller as vampires turn the snow red. Harriet Klausner