Full Moon Publication, $16.95
Nineteen year old Sara Morningsky is a beautiful shapeshifter who can turn into a falcon and a wolf. Her grandmother insured she would be looked after; choosing private investigator Chase Dagger to watch over the innocent teen who has no concept of how ugly the world is. Together the pair has solved supernatural cases; while Chase fights his feeling although he knows deep in his soul he loves Sara as adult to adult and not parent or big brother to a child.
Four paranormal investigators are staying overnight in an allegedly haunted mansion near Cedar Point, Indiana when a storm breaks out. By morning, three remain as reporter Sheila Monroe vanished. On the grounds, a body of a man who disappeared over a year ago is found. However, instead of having the look of a person who vanished fourteen months ago, he appears to have left yesterday as his tattoo is still healing and his stomach contains the food he ate hours before he disappeared. Sara and Chase had been looking for that man so they decide to stay overnight to ascertain what is going on. A storm is heading their way and with it will be shockers for those occupying the house.
The fifth Chase Dagger thriller (see Chasing Ghosts and The Good Die Twice) deftly blends mystery and fantasy inside a haunted house horror tale. Sara has matured since joining Chase and he no longer considers her a person who needs his protection as she has proven she possesses strength and fortitude. Chase has changed too since he became Sara’s guardian. Their relationship metamorphosis enhances a taut Hoosier haunted house story. Harriet Klausner
The Company Man
Robert Jackson Bennett
By 1919, Evesdon, Washington is the headquarters of the McNaughton Western Foundry Corp. The firm is the world’s mot powerful company due to the technological genius of the late Lawrence Kulahee. Countries bow to McNaughton or face the threat of losing their needed products.
However, the fishing village of Evesdon has not easily turned into a Puget Sound mega-metropolis. Pollution and homicide are major byproducts of the industrial growth. When a John Doe is pulled from a canal, EPD police detective Garvey asks McNaughton security operative Cyril Hayes to assist. Hayes is already investigating industrial sabotage that many believe the active union movement is behind. He wonders if the dead floater is a McNaughton employee, a union grunt or nobody of importance. Samantha Fairbanks is assigned to keep Hayes clean as he works the investigation because the agent is addicted to opium and alcohol. Hayes has paranormal telepathic skills with individuals he knows, which may come in handy as those working the machines insist the machinery talks.
Putting aside the homage to Holmes, The Company Man is a timely dark gripping alternative historical investigative thriller. Each of the lead trio is fully developed, but Hayes is the one who stands out. Ironically the two males who have seen the worst of humanity cherish their still innocent female partner. Although the story line starts slow as Robert Jackson Bennett establishes his polluted world, readers will enjoy a walk on the darkest side with a flicker of hope throughout. Harriet Klausner
Twins James and Brigit Poe are hybrid human-vampire with the latter being the more prevalent. As far as they know they are a unique freak of nature. Each shares much in common, but also possesses different skills.
The siblings believe that everything and everyone has a purpose and theirs has to do with preventing the extinction of the Undead race. James and Brigit feel the answer lies with archeologist Dr. Lucy Lanfair, a Chosen One who can turn into a vampire. As the annihilation predicted by an ancient prophecy seems imminent and war between species likely, Lucy is abducted as her kidnappers want her to take them to James. However, instead Lucy and James end up teaming up to use his healing skill in what he thought was an amoral way and what the reluctant professor did not know she possessed to resurrect the five millennium dead Utanapishtim in a desperate attempt to prevent species cleansing.
It is highly recommended newcomers read at least the Children of Twilight saga of the Wings in the Night fantasy series (see Prince of Twilight, TWILIGHT HUNGER and EMBRACE THE TWILIGHT) to fully savor the bite of this superior paranormal tale. The story line is fast-paced and filled with action as James wonders if he is letting out the genie who will fulfill the prophesy and destroy the Undead while Lucy the scholar wants nothing to do with this dangerous field work. Readers will enjoy this engaging entry, which sets up nicely the next confrontation. Harriet Klausner
City of the Snakes
Grand Central, $21.99
The City has been ruled by the Cardinal, but with his death Capac Raimi became in charge with one difference from his late predecessor; he cannot be killed. Capac is not human; instead he is an Ayuamarcans created by The Cardinal abd capac is reanimated after each death. This is of little interest to Al Jeery, who is unconcerned with the blind Villac Inca priests living in the underground beneath the City though they control the Ayuamamcans. He has one interest to find and kill Bill Casey.
Bill killed the woman he wanted as well other people who meant something to Al. For a decade he lives for revenge. To draw Bill out, he dresses as the cold blooded killer Paucar Wami who happens to be his father and involved with the Incas. Al leads the gang that created the snakes that are part of the Inca’s magic. The plan is to create guerilla warfare in order to cause hostilities to force open warfare. When the City calms down, the Villac will be in control and take charge. Having dealt with Bill, Al can leave The City, but feels obligated defeat the Incas.
The third City thriller (see Hell’s Horizon and Procession of the Dead) is an enjoyable but extremely dark and bloody fantasy as people use horrific power to create, destroy, and resurrect lives. Al is a reluctant hero who seeks redemption when he makes his mind up to move past revenge and takes on the puppeteers as he risks his life to try to liberate The City.