The Pope's Assassin
Luis M. Rocha
Putnam, Mar 31 2011, $25.95
Like all the Popes before him in the past half a center, Pope Benedict XVI is given a top secret document to read. As the Pope reads, he becomes ill with worry. Five decades ago, Israeli archeologist Ben Isaac and the Status Quo team found the Dead Sea Scrolls, which included the Gospel of Jesus that if revealed would devastate the flock. Twice, twenty-five year agreements have been signed, but this year a third pact has not been renewed as rumors fly that the Scrolls are a hoax to conceal the truth.
Jesuits kidnap the son of Ben to demand he hand over the gospel and the bones of Jesus to them. At the same time, someone is assassinating the survivors of the Status Quo. London-based reporter Sarah Monteiro gets caught in the middle of a Christian power grab. Her beloved Vatican secret agent Father Rafael Santini is unsure where she fits in, but tries to keep her safe.
Loaded with action and an impressive body count (Hell is a growth industry), die hard fans of the Da Vinci Code will enjoy this derivative. The story line is fast-paced, but is too much a copy cat of the Brownian saga though much more graphic as if The Andalusian Dog (of Dali-Brunel) met Dan Brown. Still this is an exhilarating action-packed thriller as Sarah and Father Rafael are caught in the middle of a potential shattering hoax. Harriet Klausner
Heads You Lose
Lisa Lutz and David Heywood
Putnam, Apr 5 2011, $24.95
In California, Paul and Lacey Hansen are twentyish brother and sister whose parents are dead. The orphaned siblings grow pot to sell in order to earn some money.
However, their smoke hazed world is shook when they find a headless corpse in their land. The headless body places the siblings at odds with each other; a normal occurrence. The only thing they agree to is they cannot call the cops as they will be busted for growing weed. They relocate the corpse, but a few days later the headless body returns albeit a lot smellier. The pair decides after haggling to investigate who killed the person without a head and why their dump of a property is a dumping ground.
With a nod to the Spellman family chronicles and to Hitchcock’s The Trouble with Harry, Lisa Lutz and David Heywood collaborate (in the blind) on a jocular crime caper starring two siblings who humorously battle one another over who should do what. Simply put when it comes to pot or not, readers know what the Hansen duet choose without a flip of the coin. The Spellman crowd and any one who relishes a zany over the top crime thriller will appreciate the insanity of Paul and Lacey, the poster kids for keeping pot illegal. Harriet Klausner
St. Martin’s Griffin, Mar 22 2011, $17.99
New Orleans high school student Nick Gautier has not had an easy laid-back life as he and his mom live in abject poverty while his father resides in prison convicted of murder. He attends a private school, but has no friends as he fails to fit in with the affluent social scene.
Until yesterday Nick assumed he was a normal disenchanted teenage outcast. His perspective was devastated when he learned that the supernatural exist. His boss is a Dark Hunter and near the place where his mom strips, shapeshifters surrounded him. Nick has powers though in the embryonic stage, but two sides want him, dead or alive. The Meloch, his Uncle Ambrose guides him to make the right choice. Nick fears what his Uncle Ambrose teaches him in the use of his powers. The demon Caleb and the Chthonian Xenon are Nick’s guardians who try to steer him to make the right choices. Xenon, known as Kody helps Nick try to stop a demon from slaughtering people. Now if they somehow survive he hopes she will be his girlfriend, but then again he hopes not.
The latest Chronicles of Nick in his teenage urban fantasy (see Infinity) is a creative intriguing off shoot of the Dark Hunter Saga similar in concept to the F, Paul Wilson’s Young repairman Jack series. Nick is a good soul, but the dark powers want to turn him to manipulate him to assault humanity. While unanswered questions remain, fans will want to know how his destiny plays out especially if this freshman finally get a girl who is not trying to kill him? With an action-packed story line, Sherrilyn Kenyon’s fans of all ages will enjoy Nick’s efforts to survive high school and a world turned paranormally upside down. Harriet Klausner
Hide And Seek
ImaJinn, Feb 4 2011, $14.00
Ten years old, Tess Fairmont tells her mama she needs to say goodbye to her beloved Grandmama who died suddenly. Tess reaches into the casket to hold Grandmama’s hand one last time, but sees something horrible: her Uncle John suffocating Grandmama with a pillow to obtain her money. Shaken, Tess witnessed first hand the violent crime.
Although her psychic skill feels more like a curse than a gift, over the next eighteen years Tess uses it to help solve homicide cases. Chicago PD Detective Jake Williams meets Tess at the morgue where she loathes touching the dead but loves knowing Dr. Michael Adams is there. Tess dreams of Michael kissing her and he muses over what she would see if she touched a live person falling in love with her. Tess touches the twenty-something tortured victim and sees five females in the room with Raymond whose face fails to come in clearly as the deceased never looked at him in her final moments. However, this time for Tess is different as she feels the actual pain. Turning to the pathologist for comfort while trying to cling to her façade of No Fear, Tess knows Raymond will continue to kill.
Hide And Seek is an enjoyable paranormal police procedural with a supporting romantic subplot. The key to this entertaining serial killer urban fantasy is that Tess’s psychic ability seems real as a critical element in to the deadly game of Hide And Seek. Michael is supportive and protective of her while he and Jake never call a body “it” as each knows someone probably cares for the late human being, but even if no one did the victim deserves respect. Allie Harrison writes a compassionate psychic mystery. Harriet Klausner