The Lion of Cairo
Dunne, Dec 7 2010, $25.99
In the impregnable Afghan mountaintop, Alamut the Hidden Master of the Assassins sends his top assistant Assad on deadly missions. So when Alamut gives Assad his latest task, he assumes he will assassinate an enemy. Instead his job is to keep the young caliph of Cairo safe from insidious enemies so as to arrange an alliance between Cairo and Alamut.
The task seems easy until Assad realizes how much peril Cairo is in. The Christian king of Jerusalem Amalric wants to use the lad to further his plans of tightening his control and Nur-ad-Din, Sultan of Damascus wants to own the Caliph or kill him. Amalric leads his army while Nur-ad-Din's loyal Kurdish general leads another. At the same time while ambition explodes, the grand Vizier plots to kill Assad, the Templars and Cairo. As Assad struggles to keep the Caliph safe, a rogue Assassin necromancer has murdered his allies, but he has himself, his magical sword and three kick-butt females; more than enough to defeat armies and traitors.
With a nod to Robert E Howard, The Lion of Cairo is a super sword and sorcery historical fantasy filled with blood and gore from the fresh perspective of an Arab. Assad is terrific as he uses masquerades, a special sword that loves to kill the Crusaders especially the Templars and is co-mingled with an ancient demonic salawar. He works the shadows so well even the infidel Europeans quietly call him "Emir of the Knife". Scott Oden provides a delightful twist on the Crusades and the Templars due to their enemy assassin. Harriet Klausner
The Nostradamus Prophecies
In Paris, a Gypsy Babel Samana insists he possesses the reported for centuries missing fifty-eight predictions that Nostradamus supposedly wrote down but concealed. The other 942 quatrains have been printed and analyzed numerous times, but no one has seen in centuries the complete set of ten verses for ten centuries. Achor Bale believed him and demanded the document, but when Samana fled, he killed the Gypsy.
French Surete suspect American writer Adam Sabir as the killer. He flees France and Spain accompanied by Babel’s witch sister Yola. Adam believes Nostradamus left the Lost Predictions with the Gypsies for safe keeping. Pursuing the pair is the assassin with "freakishly clotted eyes" Achor Bale, whose secret group wants ownership of the cache as they believe that Nostradamus mentioned an Antichrist triad of Napoleon, Hitler, and someone to come. Meanwhile though his peers remain confident that Sabir is a killer, French Police Nationale Captain Joris Calque thinks otherwise, leaning towards Bale as the amoral ruthless murderer.
Although this is another Brownian 101 thriller; fans will appreciate this exciting tale due to the insight into The Nostradamus Prophecies especially why some believe there are fifty-eight unpublished. Calque brings freshness as a diligent intelligent police officer whose professional inquiry is welcome because it is rare in a sect conspiracy tale. Fast-paced from the moment Bale stabs Samana, fans will enjoy the opening act as Nostradamus scholar Mario Reading shines a light on the legendary seer inside of an action-packed thriller. Harriet Klausner
Sundays at Tiffany's
James Patterson and Gabrielle Charbonett
Grand Central, $7.99
Born to affluence and fame, Jane Margaux grew up lonely with one exception. While her famous producer mother Broadway creates musicals and her father preferred spending quality time with his second wife in Nantucket, her only friend and companion is Michael, who provided her solace even if he was only imaginary. However, when she turned eight, Michael informs her he will no longer be with her though he will always be her best friend.
Over two decades later, Jane remains lonely even with a boyfriend and neurotic because she works for her mother. No one would believe she is Vivienne’s daughter as she is treated scornfully and horrifically. As Jane produces her first play based on her childhood with Michael, he returns bringing light into Jane’s dark life. They fall in love as each find their groove with one another; but Michael fears he will not be allowed to stay with his beloved as adults are not supposed to remember imaginary friends while she has never forgotten him especially since he left her once before.
This contemporary romantic fantasy is an enchanting tale in which Jane breaks the rules of imaginary friends by somehow always remembering her Michael. The story line effortlessly switches from preadolescence in which he is a sort of guardian big brother to her to and an adult love story. Although the standard operating procedures of what an imaginary friend does and does not do and the laws of physics that govern the relationship between a child and their buddy are lacking so that the audience cannot fully appreciate the heroine’s breaking the barrier, fans will enjoy it happened to Jane. Harriet Klausner