Saturday, February 4, 2012

Five from Harriet

Death Magic
Eileen Wilks
Berkley, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425245125

Separate assassination attempts on FBI Agent Lily Yu and her Magical Crimes Division chief Ruben Brooks (see Blood Challenge) have both believing a traitor onside the agency wants them dead. Ruben decides the brutal combat between the Old Ones with no regard to collateral damage to human and supernatural beings needs a special solution. He establishes a top secret shadow force of various trusted individuals from different species. Whereas Lily declines a position in this unit because of her values that insist the government needs to adhere to the law regardless of circumstance, her Lupe fiancé Rule Turner accepts as his people are in mortal combat with an ancient adversary.

Someone using Death Magic assassinates US Senator Bixton who was a supporter of the volatile Humans First movement. The prime suspect in the high visible murder is Ruben. Lily investigates while wondering if her boss stepped outside the law to eliminate a senatorial threat. That doubt changes when the killer assaults Lily, which makes her realize the new cell is the only hope to prevent something big and ugly from happening.

The latest Lupi FBI urban fantasy is an entertaining entry in which the heroine’s internal ethical battle brings a strong morality element involving human (and paranormal) rights at a time in which torture and assassination are acceptable practices. The story line is fast-paced as Lily begins to understand why Rule did not blink when offered the opportunity to join a cell working above the law. With plenty of action and a deep look at morality, readers will appreciate visiting Wilks’ wonderful world. Harriet Klausner

The Chalice of Blood
Peter Tremayne
Minotaur, 25.95
ISBN: 9780312551216

Already a dalaigh advocate of the law, Sister Fidelma of Cashel asks her brother King Colgu of Mumen to appoint her as the Chief Brehon magistrate. He conditionally agrees, but insists she first look into the suspicious death of scholar Brother Donnchad.

Abbott Iarnla asked the king to investigate the death of the Brother who recently feared for his life. He was found dead in his locked cell with stab wounds on his body yet his corpse seemed restful rather than frantic. Additionally manuscripts he was working on appear missing. Accompanying Sister Fidelma to the island where the Abbey of Lios Mor is located is her Brother Eadulf, Even before reaching the abbey, someone tries to assassinate the two investigators. At Lios Mor, cooperation is not forthcoming from most of the residents.

This is a great seventh century locked room Mystery of Ancient Ireland. As always the setting comes to life in this strong historical series (see The Dove of Death). While the lead couple struggles with divisive personal issues that enhance the plot as both lose some focus on the mission, it is the brilliant locked cell inquiry that makes Peter Tremayne’s The Chalice of Blood an excellent thriller.
Harriet Klausner

A Crimson Warning
Tasha Alexander
Minotaur, $25.95
ISBN: 9780312661755

In 1893 London at Lady Londonderry’s ball, British intelligence agent Colin Hargreaves waltzes with his beloved wife Emily when he is forced to intercede between two men about to go to blows. Before he can finish what he started, the butler gives him a note. He informs Emily he must leave to look into a fire in Southwark. That night he comes home very late and tells his beloved spouse that exporter Michael Dillman died in the warehouse inferno.

Michael’s grieving fiancĂ©e Cordelia tells Colin that an unknown vandal threw red paint on his door. The family of Polly Sanders, the latest scandalous lineage rumor of the Ton, also is a victim of the red paint scoundrel. Other aristocratic families face the same paint assault followed by a shocking disclosure. That humiliates the victims. Emily wants to help her husband with the cases, but fears the sadistic culprit will paint her with a scarlet letter.

The sixth Lady Emily late Victorian mystery (see Dangerous to Know) is a wonderful period piece as the Ton suddenly live in fear of an unknown predator who gleefully exposes skeletal secrets. The story line is fast-paced from the moment that Colin leaves the ball in Mayfair and never slows down as Tasha Alexander provides a profound exhilarating historical with contemporary implications in which the ends justify the means. Harriet Klausner

Dead Bolt
Juliet Blackwell
Obsidian, $7.99
ISBN: 9780451235305

There are few females in Melanie Turner’s occupation, but the general contractor relishes taking over Turner Construction from her retired dad. Currently she leads the restoration of the Cheshire House a historic Queen Anne Victorian house in San Francisco. Every house has problems in the renovation, but this one includes Jim and Katenka Daley who insist on residing in the basement apartment while the renovations occur.

Mel also has the ability to see and hear ghosts. She believes there are many spirits roaming Cheshire House. Initially the ghostly occupants play harmless pranks like handprints on a very high ceiling and footprints in which only Mel the medium can see them. However, not all the spirits resting in Cheshire Inn are benign; one who is malevolent has the skill to make people do what it wants them to do. When cantankerous neighbor (and former resident) Emile Blunt is found dead, a former resident of Cheshire House when it was a boarding house, Mele believes there is a link between the murder and the spirits. Although she understands the lethal risk that no other living person on the project does, Mel must find a way to coax the ghosts to move on and out of Cheshire House while finding out who killed Emile.

The second Haunted House Renovation Mystery (see If Walls Could Talk) is a chilling paranormal locked inn whodunit that will frighten even the Ghostbusters let alone readers. Mel is a courageous strong person who though scared feels she must complete the project which includes ridding the house of its otherworldly occupants. Dead Bolt is a terrific paranormal amateur sleuth. Harriet Klausner

Iris Johansen
St. Martin’s, $27.99
ISBN: 9780312651220

Forensic sculptor Eve Duncan was a kid having a kid when she gave birth at sixteen years old to Bonnie. Eve thought Bonnie’s father John Gallo died on a military mission, but she and her long time significant other police detective Joe Quinn learned John lived incarcerated by the North Koreans until he escaped. Meanwhile when Bonnie was seven, she was abducted in Atlanta. Owing Eve for saving her son, FBI Agent Catherine Ling targeted John who suffers mental illness from his ordeal as the killer of Bonnie, but he proved to be innocent.

Clues lead the quartet to the Louisiana bayous and from there to Georgia as Bonnie’s spirit guides her mom. They track a new suspect with powerful ties enabling a government cover-up of unsanctioned mind experiments. As they get nearer to the truth, the new target prepares to kill if they get too close.

The final of the Bonnie trilogy (see Eve and Joe) is an exciting twisting thriller as the truth can set you free to a degree. Although the serpentine sensational story line contains too many spins that slows down the pace, fans of the Eve Duncan saga will relish learning what happened to Bonnie. Harriet Klausner

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