DAW, Mar 1 2011, $7.99
Half-breed private investigator Toby Daye finally believes she belongs in Faerie after leaving the land two years ago for San Francisco. She even has made a shaky peace with an adversary Tybalt the Cat King. However her serenity abruptly ends when her close friend the undine Lily the Lady of the Tea Gardens was recently poisoned and is dying. She becomes further shocked when Luna the wife of liege lord Sylvester Torquil becomes ill. Toby believes someone is targeting her through people she cares about.
At the same time Oleander de Merelands has returned. She was a key part of a group that kept Toby trapped as a fish for years. No one else believes Oleander is back as only Toby can see her, which leaves her friends wondering if the changeling has become insane. Crazy or not, Toby investigates before something else horrific occurs to someone else she cares about.
The fourth October Daye urban fantasy whodunit series (see An Artificial Night, Rosemary and Rue, and A Local Habitation) is a fabulous thriller as the heroine burned by both sides of her DNA has a lingering distrust of everyone so her paranoia kicks in and she does what she does best: investigate. Fast-paced, the case is personal as friends are dying; she is the accused; her enemy has surfaced; and her mom is somehow in the middle of what the heroine believes is a concerted effort to destroy her. No one provides better Noir tours of San Francisco and Faerie than Ms. Daye does when she resolutely works an investigation. Harriet Klausner
Berkley, Mar 1 2011, $7.99
Humans keep shapeshifters in run down squabble. They also insist the beasts wear fae created collars to insure these monsters are unable to use their animal nature.
Half-breed fae-lupine Andrea Gray flees from a potential mate who insists she belongs to him. She arrives at the Shiftertown section of Austin where she hopes to find protection. Feline shifter Sean Morrissey, who possesses the powerful shifter soul release sword, claims her as his mate though he does so in name only to keep Andrea safe. As the two alphas begin to investigate their desire for one another, they fall in love, but each fears to raise the issue of being true life mates as he expected no one due to his sword’s skill and she has always detested the concept of belonging to any mate even as she knows he is not just any mate.
The latest Shifters Unbound urban fantasy (see Pride Mates) is an enjoyable thriller as the Ashley mythos is further developed with a sense that shifters exist and what happens in Austen is genuine. The story line is fast-paced with the sexual taut relationship between the feline and the lupine cutting across the action packed tale. Readers will enjoy the Primal Bonds between two alphas who mate at the drop of a page to the delight of fans. Harriet Klausner
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.
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