Friday, February 18, 2011

Interesting Looks at Alternate History and a Mystery

The Secret History of Elizabeth Tudor, Vampire Slayer
Lucy Weston
Gallery (Pocket), Jan 4 2011, $15.00
ISBN 9781439190333

In 1559 as she is about to become Queen Elizabeth I, the soon to be monarch meets the ghost of her mom Anne Bolyn, whose only transgression that led to her execution was not bearing a male. Anne informs her daughter that besides ruling over England, she has a much more important mission of the Slayer that has come down though the generations of her ancestors as far back as King Arthur whose offspring from the wrong side of the sheets Mordred is a vampire.

Mordred visits the young Tudor to offer her a deal of a lifetime; in his terms that is already a millennium. Although Elizabeth knows what her late mom wanted from her, Mordred’s offer of immortality and ruling over England together for eternity are much more tempting than fighting his kind.

Similar in concept to Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith including a journal, The Secret History of Elizabeth Tudor, Vampire Slayer is made fresh by fascinating Mordred as he brings a delightfully evil option to the young Tudor Queen. Although one must wonder why Anne waited until Elizabeth is queen to tell her daughter of her heritage, fans will enjoy this fast-paced tale from the moment that Elizabeth is escorted to meet her mom’s ghost and never slowing down as Lucy Weston provides a fun alternative historical fantasy. Harriet Klausner

The Youngest Templar: Orphan of Destiny
Michael P. Spradlin
Putnam, $17.99
ISBN: 9780399247651

In 1191, Tristan of St. Albans continues his quest to complete the mission of the Holy Grail as assigned to him by Sir Thomas in Outremer (see Keeper of the Grail). Thanks in major part to his companions Robard, Maryam the Al Hasshashin and Angel arrive in Calais (see Trail of Fate). However, the lunatic chasing them from the Holy Land Sir Hugh threatens to hang Maryam of Tristan fails to hand over the Grail. Tristan holds Queen Mother Eleanor hostage, but all seems lost. Although Tristan is hurt and unconscious, they manage to row across the Channel landing two days south of Dover where Sir Hugh awaits them.

With no place to go with the Grail except St. Albans in Scotland, they head there. However, ha harrowing trek upon arrival, they find the abbey burned to the ground. Only Brother Tuck lives. While Tristan and his allies ponder what to do with the Grail, Tuck gives him letters from the late King Henry II, Eleanor of Aquitaine, and Brother Rupert; the correspondence explains all Tristan as coveted knowing.

Orphan of Destiny is a fabulous fitting finish to a strong young adult late twelfth century thriller. Fast-paced with amazing action, readers will enjoy the final stretch of the quest as the trio struggles to find someone to trust with the Grail while Hugh continues to apply the pressure on them. Fans will enjoy the adventures of The Youngest Templar as he risks his life to complete the pledge he made to his mentor Sir Thomas in Outremer. Harriet Klausner

John Lescroart
Dutton, Jan 4 2011, $26.95
ISBN: 9780525951766

Ro Curtlee serves ten years of his sentence for the rape and murder of a family housekeeper Dolores Sandoval. However, due to the constant pressure of his affluent family, the Ninth District Appeals Court orders a new trial. His wealthy parents post a million dollar bond that bails him out of jail as he awaits a retrial.

Curtlee quickly goes to work murdering a witness who testified against him. He threatens to harm the family of San Francisco Police Homicide Chief Abe Glitsky. Meanwhile Ro’s parents, who own the city’s member two selling newspaper the Courier, use columnist Sheila Marrenas to pressure the new District Attorney Wes Farrell and others related to the case to back off or else. SFPD led by Glitsky finds new and old evidence swallowed up by the Curtlee brood either through influence peddling, not so subtle threats, or murder.

The latest Glitsky and Dismas Hardy thriller (see A Plague of Secrets) is a great entry as the villain is incredible with all the assets he has and uses including the media. Complicated with several subplots that initially seem more like additional police caseload, but cleverly merge into a super story line, fans will wonder if the Curtlee clan will defeat Glitsky and company. Harriet Klausner

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