Berkley, Jan 3 2012, $15.00
For fifteen years, psychopath Keaton Weiss preyed on lonely females who he kidnapped and then sadistically tortured them in his house of horrors before murdering his victims. That changed when Tawny Lawrence a mother incarcerated for seven years by the maniac escaped. Obsessed FBI Special Agent In Charge of a unique unit Taylor Jones arrests Weiss before escorting his psychic Desiree "Dez" Lincoln in to the torture chamber. She takes him to a field of horror in Iowa.
In Virginia, Taylor, thanks to Dez, traps young girl rapist and murderer Edward Mitchell, but the predator fires a shot that hits the psychic. As she is rushed to the hospital, Taylor realizes how much he cares for his employee. After she heals, they make love, but he believes this was an inappropriate mistake. Hurt by his attitude, Dez heads to French Lick, Indiana alone to help a dismayed spirit; Taylor follows her to his hometown where his then six years old kid sister Anna vanished so long ago, but still drives him to help the unprotected.
The Departed is an entertaining romantic urban fantasy police procedural. The storyline is fast-paced, but as Shiloh Walker admits in the forward requires acceptability of the special FBI cell. The cases are fun to follow but accelerate even faster once the lead couple enters Larry Bird territory. Readers will enjoy this exciting paranormal FBI romance. Harriet Klausner
Janet Lee Caret
Dial/Penguin, Jan 5 2012, $17.99
In 1192 Pendragon King Kadmi is dead, but the heir Prince Arden has not yet returned from a Crusade to Wilde Island to become ruler of the dragons, fairies and humans who reside there. Instead the regent Lord Sackmoore rules for now even as species civil war seems imminent.
When thieves stole the royal treasure from Pendragon Castle, a search led by Arden’s younger brother Price Bion finds nothing. Blaming the hybrid abominations, Sackmoore sends the witch hunter to burn the evil ones at the stake. Abused by her dad the blacksmith, seventeen year old Tess is shocked when she is accused of being half-fae. Having gained experience with flight from her violent father, she flees with two also accused friends into the forbidden Dragonswood. There warden Garth Huntsman offers Tess sanctuary. When the fairies plead with her for help, Tess learns why her father loathed her and who her protector truly is.
This dark epic romantic fantasy is an exciting fast-paced sequel to Dragon's Keep. Fast-paced from the moment the heroine flees and never slowing down until the final altercation, the storyline on the surface seems similar to most quest fantasies. However, Tess brings freshness as a victim who remains optimistic about her future but unforgiving of those like her father who have harmed her and made her wary of males even caring Garth. With several super twists, and filled with gore, vivid beatings and on-page torture, readers with strong stomachs will appreciate this terrific tale that targets teens and up. Harriet Klausner
The Mortal Bone
Marjorie M. Liu
Ace, Dec 27 2011, $7.99
Like her bloodline going back ten millennia, demon hunter Maxine Kiss carries her five “boys” as tattoos on her body, which serves as prison for these Reaper Kings who if freed would devour the world. She and her soulmate Grant the Lightbringer escort Bryon the teenage to a “safe house” once belonging to Maxine’s mom in Texas.
However, a possessed woman arrives giving Maxine a plastic bowling bag of which the visitor says someone in her dream told her to deliver it. Inside is a crystal skull that has the demon within the woman and the five on Maxine’s skin clamoring to go to it. The connection between her boys and her is severed; they are totally free to bring hell on earth unless Maxine can somehow reconnect with them.
The fourth Hunter Kiss urban fantasy (see A Wild Light, The Iron Hunt and Darkness Calls) is a great thriller that is action-packed but driven by the aftereffect of the broken link as Marjorie M. Liu gets deep into the psyche of the heroine. Maxine has mixed emotions of being liberated but in some ways misses the bond that has been part of her for a long time. She also feels guilt and responsibility to prevent her boys from returning to their Reaper King days; as nothing short of the end of the world is at stake. Harriet Klausner
Roc, Jan 3 2012, $7.99
Rogue vamp hunter and Cherokee skinwalker with Beast the mountain lion spirit inside her, Jane Yellowrock is considered the best security expert around. Her current assignment is to secure Asheville and the surrounding Appalachian Mountains for a big parley between the envoy and heir Katie of Blood Master of New Orleans Leo Pellissier and local fanghead chief Lincoln Shaddock. For six decades Shaddock has petitioned Pellissier to allow him to establish an independent vamp clan in the area; currently his group owes allegiance to the New Orleans chief fanghead.
Instead of Katie arriving, Pellissier sends his number two Mithran vamp, Gregoire, who he wants to mate with Jane. However, on the cable news is a report of a vicious bloodbath of a couple in Cocke County. Leo calls Jane to tell her to kill the rogue and make it go away. Jane heads to the Pigeon River site of the massacre to begin her inquiry. Beast tells her the smell is not vamp or Pigeon, but that of the mythical Grindylow. Jane realizes werewolves killed the couple with the Grindylow as the were-enforcers in pursuit.
The latest Yellowrock urban fantasy (see Mercy Blade, Blood Cross and Skinwalker) is a super thriller as the kick butt heroine investigates the murders with the eyes of humans, vamps and werewolves upon her. The Grindylow believe in taking care of their own kind with lethal punishment, but objects to outside intrusion. Fast-paced, Raven Cursed is an exhilarating paranormal whodunit with several thriller spins as the heroine muses that vamps and guns suck but though make for a crappy life are energizing. Harriet Klausner