Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Mind Games, Choice of One, The Darkest Heart and A Shot in the Dark
Tor, May 24 2011, $6.99
Game designer River Weston escaped the video prison of the Dark Lord along with another cell mate Chase "Hawk" Hawkins (see Game Over) but if she thought her troubles are over, she is wrong. Reality proves just as damning as virtual as she is wanted for the murders of her fellow game makers.
Hawk uses the dead body of River’s ex Nick as the pair investigates what her parents wrought and how to liberate their souls incarcerated for three decades in a hellish lab. Having been locked away much longer than his companion and determined to be her Guardian, he trusts no one as he tries to persuade her to allow him to escort her to the realm of her Fae mother before Nick’s soul reclaims the body.
Although this is a direct sequel so it behooves newcomers to read Game Over first, the focus is more on reality earth than in the virtual realm of the previous book. River made the first thriller work, but this time Hawk brings the freshness as he fights external demons and his adulation for his partner. That intense attraction is key as Hawk is unsure whether it is his heart or the remnants of the soul of the previous body owner. Loaded with excitement, fans will enjoy the game maker and her cell mate as they battle their deadly diabolical adversaries in an exciting amateur sleuth dark urban fantasy. Harriet Klausner
Star Wars: Choice of One
Del Rey, Jul 12 2011, $27.00
Months have passed since Luke Skywalker blew up the death Star (see A New Hope), but he diligently practices to become stronger in the force. The war between the Empire and the Alliance continues with the former seeking to strike back at the rebels who desperately need allies, equipment and supplies. Empire Officer Thrawn warns Emperor Palatine that they are threatened by more than just the rebels. Nusoesva, a powerful warlord in the Unknown Region is conquering worlds in Wild Space and looks like he will soon make incursion into the Imperial sector. Palatine ignores the concern because the warlord is just an alien.
The rebels are offered a base on Poln Minor in the Outer Rim. Since the Empire won’t help them fight Nusoesva, the leaders of the planet turn to the Alliance asking for protection. The Emperor learns of two possible treasonous acts and deploys his Hand Mara Jade to determine the truth; if affirmed she is to kill the Governor of the Candoras sector, Bider Ferrouz and his accomplices. Han, Leia, and Luke head to Poln Major to find out if the governor’s offer is authentic or a trap. Also on the planet are the disgruntled Hand of Judgment storm troopers who work to root out evil in the Empire. All will converge with betrayal and death the common denominators
It is amazing to see caring good people like Mara and the storm troopers Hand of Judgment believe that the Emperor is a kind person who cares for his subjects. That soul searching element enhances an action-paced space opera. Readers will praise Timothy Zahn as he captures the original essence of the Lucas pantheon; not an easy mission to achieve since this would make a fine movie number 4.5 (in between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back). Harriet Klausner
The Darkest Heart
Gallery, Jun 21 2011, $15.00
The inferno killed her heir Nicolai years ago leaving his mother Countess Lazlaric increasingly desperate to see her family heritage continue. Her remaining son Charles is a hedonistic wastrel, but he is all she has. The Countess believes luck has finally come her way when a missive from a distant relative Senna Landseth asks for help. The matriarch invites Senna to stay with her at Drom Manor hiding her plans for the biddable chit to wed Charles.
Unknown to her hostess, Senna is not her kin and she is pulling a con. However although welcomed by the Countess, the manor and the woman disturb Senna. For two decades Dominick Janau has impatiently waited to obtain revenge against the person who turned him into a vampire. However, he finds he wants Senna and vows to keep her safe as he also believes she might be the catalyst for his vendetta finally happening. Dominick rushes her to London to keep her safe even as Charles and his mother pursue them.
This entertaining gothic vampire romance engages the audience once the players are set. The complicated story line is fast-paced and the cast solid with a neat twist. However, it is the paranormal world that feels genuine, which sub-genre fans will relish as the heroine trapped in the center of an evil circumference learns that sometimes you get what you wish for. Harriet Klausner
A Shot in the Dark
Roc, Jul 5 2011, $7.99
There are two kinds of demon hunters. The Catholic Church sanctions the Order of Saint Silvis and the others work for Grapevine. Jesse James Dawson is a champion though he has not one iota of magic; instead he relies on strength and cunning when battling a demon over a human’s soul. Needing a respite, he heads to the Colorado Mountains with his brother Cole who once sold his soul to a demon; Will the paramedic, Marty the Armorer, and Cameron the seminary school dropout.
Jesse almost changes his mind when powerful Axel the demon who craves his soul tells him he is glad to see the hunter on vacation. When the party arrives at the cabin, deformed hominoid creatures attack them; one bites the cabin owner’s son Zane who wears the mark of someone who sold his soul to a demon. Zane is dying but they cannot leave the cabin as they are surrounded by a horde of creatures. Jesse freaks when he realizes they are trapped by the Yeti who he has defeated before. The yeti demon bargains with Jesse for Zane’s soul. Axel arrives and seems on the side of Jesse and his friends; but the hunter knows how devious demons are when it comes to human soul harvesting.
K.A. Stewart’s second Jesse James Dawson thriller is an outstanding urban fantasy. The steadfast hero continues to remain duty diligent to protect the unsuspecting human race from demons that collect their souls. The protagonist knows never make a deal with a demon as it is like reading the fine print of a credit card contract in which A Devil in the Details will haunt the individual. The trapped vacationers will either male bond with trusting one another to protect their respective backs or become demon fodder in this super paranormal. Harriet Klausner