Kensington, Mar 1 2011, $6.99
In San Francisco, beneath the police department is located the Underworld Detection Agency. Their mission is to conduct investigations and negotiations especially involving humans for their paranormal clients. In fact, the only “Breather” human working for UDA is administrative assistant Sophie Lawson.
Recently, the supernatural crowd is shocked when a serial killer begins a deadly murderer’s spree of the paranormal. Sophie becomes worried when her nice boss Peter Sampson the werewolf vanishes without a trace as she fears he may have been a victim of the predator. Never working the field, Sophie tentatively investigates her employer’s vanishing, which leads her to police detective Parker Hayes. Though attracted to the cop, she begins to realize that he is not telling her something critical either about Peter or himself, so she distrusts him.
This is an engaging investigative urban fantasy that takes a while to get the elements in place, but once that occurs (about a fourth of the novel) turns into a delightful thriller, extremely diffuclt to put down. Sophie the token breather keeps the story lien focused while her relationships to her werewolf boss and a vampiress roommate make the paranormal seem normal. Fans will appreciate her adventures on and under the streets of San Francisco as she and the cop she desires with her heart but distrusts with her head search for the lost lupine shifter. Harriet Klausner
Harlequin HQN, Feb 22 2011, $7.99
In 1902 in New York, Francesca Cahill and Calder Hart are getting married in a few hours. However, before the ceremony, Francesca sneaks off to a gallery to see a portrait Hart commissioned. She is locked inside, but by the time she escapes from the gallery, everyone including Hart believes she jilted him. Francesca knows someone set this up, but not who or why.
Hart refuses to listen to her explanation as he is hurt and humiliated; raging he ends their engagement. Stunned and hurt too, Francesca turns to Hart’s half-brother Police Commissioner Rick Bragg for solace at a time when his marriage to Leigh Ann is crumbling. As Francesca ponders who owns her heart, she and Bragg search for who “framed’ her and is trying to blackmail her and soon a killer is after her too.
Though the roller coaster ride for the heroine’s relationships and affection continues to the point it feels sort of inane yet due to Brenda Joyce’s talent very entertaining as Cahill and the crew work two mysteries as well as the enigma of her heart. Filled with action, dysfunctional relationships (a common thread) and a sense of being in Manhattan at the start of the previous century (once again a fabulous recurring theme), fans will enjoy Francesca’s latest escapades in maybe (nor not) making it to the altar. Harriet Klausner
The Breath of God
West Hills, Mar 1 2011, $15.95
Emory University doctorate student Grant Matthews knows he is running out of time on submitting his thesis. His topic focuses on the impact other cultures had on the early development of Christianity. In particular over the objections of the school’s advisory board, he pursues a legend of an Asian boy traveling fourteen-fifteen centuries before Marco Polo went the other way.
In Asia, he learns from Buddhist monks that what he seeks might exist in one of the monasteries in Bhutan. He journeys to the Himalayan nation where his guide is a former Buddhist monk working to feed his family. He learns more about Issa and the lad’s spiritual journey that affirms his subject loved and wrote down his travels. Grant meets Kristin Misaki and soon finds the treasure he sought. However, what happened to a Russian late in the nineteenth century when he made the same discovery soon proves history repeats itself. Christian fundamentalists are willing to kill, destroy or hide to prevent anything heretical that affirms that the early founders were in touch with other cultures for some of the religion’s critical foundations coming east to west.
This is a super Brownian thriller that is at its best when the beleaguered hero is in Asia pursuing the Issa documents amidst Buddhist monks. The Christian conspiracy to shut down the heresy feels more like a sub-genre requirement and detracts from a powerful insightful novel. Still, based on a real Russian Notovitch was condemned as a heretic for publishing his finding of the Saint Issa scrolls in Himis, India, as those ancient documents explained the “Lost Years of Jesus”, overall The Breath of God is a terrific tale. Harriet Klausner