Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Mandel Files, Lord of the Vampires andThe Shadow Wolf reviewed

The Mandel Files
Peter F. Hamilton
Del Rey, Aug 23 011, $19.95
ISBN: 9780345526359

“Mindstar Rising” - England like the rest of the world struggles to adjust and rebound from the insidious effect of global warming. In that environs Greg Mandel was once a member of the elitist Mindstar Battalion whose soldiers gained telepathic abilities through implanted glands. His enhanced intuition skill told Greg the time to leave the unit. Event Horizon CEO billionaire Phillip Evans hires Greg to investigate why a successful orbit operation is suddenly losing money. Phillip’s granddaughter teenage heiress Julia Evans believes amoral financier Kendric di Girolamo and vicious former country leader Leopold Armstrong are behind the failure.

“A Quantum Murder”
- Two years later Julia Evans assigns Greg Mandel to investigate the brutal murder of Dr. Edward Kitchener. The professor worked at Events Horizon researching quantum cosmology. Julia explains the crime scene was the somewhat paranoid former Cambridge professor’s locked lab at Laudne Abbey. Greg learns that the Physics peers of the deceased envied his reputation as the twenty first century Newton, but who killed him and how remains difficult to resolve.

These reprints of early 1990s futuristic investigative science fiction thrillers remain fun tales that seem timely with the trends in economics, politics, technology and global warming in circa 1990 extrapolated to 2030 or so as much of what Peter F. Hamilton predicted remains on the path he expected. The story lines are entertaining although the endings seem weak while readers will wonder why the last tale Nano Flower is not included (apparently it will be in a volume 2), these Mandel thrillers are enjoyable (now near) future whodunits in the Hamilton world.
Harriet Klausner

Lord of the Vampires
Gena Showalter
Harlequin Nocturne, Aug 23 2011, $5.50
ISBN: 9780373618668

In Elden, the Blood Sorcerer conducts a bloody coup killing the nation’s rulers. He made two critical mistakes when he failed to prevent the dying king from sending to his offspring an obsessed need to avenge their deaths; and the queen using her last breath of power sends their four children into hiding so they could buy time to complete her husband’s vendetta. Thus the Blood Sorcerer failed to kill the Crown prince Nicolai and his three siblings (Breena, Dayn and Micah).

Two Kingdom of Delfina princesses capture Nicolai who they turn into their sex slave. He uses magic to call out for help. In Oklahoma, scientist Jane Parker recovers from a car accident that killed her family. She “hears” Nicolai’s plea when she finds a tome by her door and reads it. She arrives but looks like the evil royal he killed. Nicolai plans to use Jane to escape but leave her behind. However he finds he cannot leave the intelligent woman behind even as he laments she may be the death of him.

The first Royal House of Shadows is an exciting romantic fantasy in which the paranormal supersedes the romance. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Jane enters the Nicolai universe without blinking. Although her humorous commentary fails to fit in with the sex slave themes (his and hers), fans will enjoy the Crown Prince of Elden’s tale while waiting for a sibling starring in Jill Monroe’s series entry. Harriet Klausner

The Shadow Wolf
Bonnie Vanak
Harlequin Nocturne, Aug 23 2011, $5.50
ISBN: 9780373618675

The Draicon Council has incarcerated shadow wolves on Shadow Island out of fear of the sub-species skill to turn invisible. Megan Moraine knows she cannot raise her two younger seven years old twin cousins (Jillian and Jennifer) from a prison cell; so using her invisibility power, she escapes with her young relatives.

Draicon Council Enforcer Gabriel Robichaux hunts escapees. Known for killing runaways as much as bringing them back to lockup, he stalks the three female shadows. However, his reputation for assassination proves false as he tries to take Megan and her wards to a safe house, but someone inside his support cell betrays Gabriel and the three females.

The latest Draicon wolf romantic urban fantasy (see The Immortal Wolf) is a terrific thriller due to the traits of the fearsome foursome while on the lam. Gabriel and Megan are falling in love, but most significant to both of them is getting the youngsters to safety. The twins make the tale as they are frightened but intrepid. This is an exciting entertaining read.

Bonus story: Darkness of the Wolf. For killing his Alpha, Guy Laurent was imprisoned for life in the Savage Kingdom Zoo. Phoenix offers him his freedom if he escorts Brianna the young Draicon girl and her guardian Kayla Morris to the youngster’s pack. He accepts the job while wondering why Kayla ignores her Draicon background. As the adults fall in love, neither loses sight of keeping their young charge safe from insidious enemies. This reprint of an e-byte novella is a fun Draicon urban romantic fantasy. Harriet Klausner

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