Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Reviews from Harriet

Black Light
Patrick Melton, Marcus Dunstan, and Stephen Romano
Little, Brown/Mulholland, $25.99
ISBN: 9780316196710


Years ago when he was seven Buck Carlsbad lived a normal happy childhood until the Horrible evil murdered his parents and left him dead too. Instead he came back but with a skill from the beyond that enables him to be the exorcist of last resort. However, in spite of his success at ingesting malevolent spirits like normal people eating candy, Buck remains obsessed with finding the Horrible who ended his childhood; so far he has failed at the one objective that keeps him alive.

In July 2012, Buck and the voices only he hears are disturbed by a high speed rail from Los Angeles through the California desert to Las Vegas in under an hour. The train will go through a spot at over four hundred miles an hour where Buck knows personally how paranormally dangerous it is. He prefers not to ride the Jaeger Laser on its maiden voyage, but Buck feels he has no choice but to return to where his parents were murdered and he changed. Thus he agrees to keep the evil away from the Jaeger Laser as top celebrities and politicians take to the rails.

Black Light is an exciting noir urban fantasy horror novel starring an intriguing yet somewhat underdeveloped hero. The story line is as fast as the speeding Jaeger Laser while the audience anticipates the desert devastation as Buck battles some vicious opponents. Sub-genre fans will enjoy this entertaining thriller as Buck learns you can go home but do you want to risk that as the screenwriters of some of the Saw movies provide an engaging tale. Harriet Klausner

Cosmic Forces
Gregory Lamberson
Medallion, $14.95
ISBN: 9781605424088


Private investigator Jake Helman has successfully fought against the darkest Cosmic Forces. Mrs. White better known as Marla Madigon wife of the corrupt New York City mayor, wants to hire him to prove her spouse Myron is cheating on her. His NYPD time tells him to stay out of a domestic dispute, but she tosses the kids card at the softy and besides her spouse is a vindictive vicious piece of trash so he accepts the case. That inquiry leads to influential Karlin Reichard.

Joyce the girlfriend of his former partner Edgar the Raven asks Helman to speak with her angry teenage son Martin. He follows a raging Martin to the Dreamers Castle. Helman investigates the Dreamers only to find the trail leads to abuses of power. Meanwhile his late wife Sheryl Agent of the Sphere of Light asks Helman to do her a favor. She wants him to locate the Destroyer of Souls who may be involved in her missing boyfriend Abel of bible fame.

The third Helman hard-boiled urban fantasy horror tale (see Personal Demons and Desperate Souls) is an exciting entry as the tough sleuth with a heart fights monsters from the otherworld and from this plane. Readers will enjoy his three investigative cases as all roads lead to those who abuse power whether they are from hell, earth or otherwise. With a nod to Dresden, readers will appreciate the case load of kick butt softy Jake Helman. Harriet Klausner

Floating Staircase
Ronald Malfi
Medallion, $14.95
ISBN: 9781605424361


With the success of The Ocean Serene, bestselling horror writer Travis Glasgow and his wife Jodie buy a house in rustic Westlake, Maryland near where his brother Adam resides. Travis feels good to reconnect with his sibling and believes he will finally move past the guilt he has felt since he was thirteen and his other brother Kyle, the actual star of his novel, drowned.

Travis learns that a previous resident’s son Elijah Dentman drowned in the nearby lake. The tragedy reminds him of what happened to Kyle; that and other clues lead the author to conclude the death is being covered up. Feeling an obsessive need to learn the truth and a sense of something, perhaps the essence that wakes him with bumps in the night, is prodding his out of control need. Thus, Travis investigates what happened to Elijah believing the truth will set him free of his compulsion.

This is a super haunted house ghost story starring an interesting protagonist and a great final turn of the screw twist. The story line is fast-paced as tension mounts while Travis begins to learn much more than he expected. This is a must read for horror fans. Harriet Klausner

Shadow Highlander
Donna Grant
St. Martin’s, $7.99
ISBN: 9780312533489


In 1603 Galen, the Druid-created Highlander warrior is sent to an isolated Scottish loch to find a key powerful artifact that should enable the Castle McLeod forces to defeat their enemy Deirdre, the evil Druid. There instead of the arcane relic he came to retrieve, Galen meets Reaghan the Druid without any magical power.

Both are stunned by their immediate attraction to one another. She and her villagers join Galen as he returns to Castle MacLeod to help defend the Druids from Deidre’s malevolent assaults. Her horde attacks the travelers severely injuring Reaghan, the focus of the assault. As Reaghan heals and she and Galen fall in love, they will learn the dark powerful reason Deirdre wants her captive.

The latest Dark Sword historical romantic fantasy (see Untamed Highlander, Dangerous Highlander and Wicked Highlander) is a terrific tale that deftly merges early seventeenth century Highlander tidbits inside of Donna Grant’s Druid mythos. The story line is fast-paced but driven by the lead protagonists and their dangerous adversary. Readers will enjoy this strong thriller as Galen and fans wonder if love can overcome insidious evil. Harriet Klausner

Night of the Living Dead Christian: One Man's Ferociously Funny Quest to Discover What It Means to Be Truly Transformed
Matt Mikalatos
Tyndale, $14.99
ISBN: 978141433880


Chief Officer of the Neighborhood Watch Matt Mikalatos is on patrol when he encounters mad scientist Doc Culbertson. Doc tells Matt that he constructed a gizmo that gets into a werewolf’s head. Matt ridicules the claim insisting there are no monsters until he observes a horde of zombies pursued by a werewolf. Fearing the neighborhood will become unsafe,, Matt accompanied by Doc trace the Lycan to the home of Luther Martin whose wife left him a week ago when she noticed the changes.

Luther wants to rid himself of his inner beast so he can become a normal human. He knows transformation to Christianity is the king of conversion, but he is not a Christian having turned away from his father’s rigid religious doctrine. Matt and his new friends want to help Luther. They visit a church filled with a flock of zombies, a vampire who like Luther wants to revert to pure human, and a psychiatrist who counsels them. The despondent werewolf asks a pastor for answers. The response is simple, but Luther wonders how he failed to grasp the Word before; as he and his friends comprehend a transformed life starts with faith.

In his follow-up to the Imaginary Jesus, Matt Mikalatos provides a thought-provoking parable insisting there are monsters amongst us disguised as Christians claiming to be faithful yet unable to control their inner beast. Focusing on converting those beastly desires to become the type of person God wants of us takes different paths for different people at different times in their lives. Readers will appreciate Mr. Mikalatos’ profound Christian morality tale. Harriet Klausner

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