Thursday, May 24, 2012

Alternate History, Noir, Necromancy and Urban Fantasy

Angels of Vengeance
John Birmingham
Del Rey, Apr 10 2012, $26.00
ISBN 9780345502933

Several years have passed since the catastrophic wave of energy destroyed the United States killing millions in 2003 that came like a tsunami Without Warning; scientists remain baffled as to the cause and why it abruptly vanished a year later. President Kipper and the White House moved to Seattle where the new America is formed in the Pacific Northwest (see Without Warning and After America). World War III explodes as many nations want to fill the mantle of superpower.

In Uruguay, South American Federation, Echelon senior field special agent Caitlin Monroe seeks Ramon Luperico, held prisoner by a dictator; as she plans to interrogate the former prison governor of Guadeloupe detention center to learn how a terrorist escaped to destroy New York City and her loved ones. Teenager Sofia Peiraro survived the murderous rule of General “Mad” Jack Blackstone by fleeing to Kansas City with her dad Miguel; but a homicide hits home has her retuning to Texas to even the score with Mad Jack. In Darwin, Australia British smuggler Lady Julianne “Jules” Balwyn calmly waits for her stalker contract killer Norman Parmenter so she can kill her predator.

The final super alternate historical post-apocalyptic thriller works on four prime fronts (though there are other lesser ones) to show a world filling a power vacuum. The President’s problems in attempting to help the country heal and recover have issues from dissenters within his circle, from vicious despots throughout the nation and potential foreign invaders. The subplots led by the three female led subplots display how much the earth changed and yet remains the avaricious same since the wave. Together they make a cohesive exciting international tale as they converge as Angels of Vengeance. Harriet Klausner

Lucky Bastard
S. G. Browne
Gallery, Apr 17 2012, $23.00
ISBN: 9781451657197

In San Francisco, no one understands luck like private investigator Nick Monday does first hand as he makes his living by stealing, with a touch, luck from a victim and selling it on the black market commodity exchange. He has no interest as to who his clients are or why they purchase purloined luck, but he knows luck is fickle like a lady as it runs out at the most inopportune moments. Still swiping and selling luck keeps Nick rolling in Lucky Charms and gourmet mocha coffee though he understands the karma of stealing luck as someone is fated to pay the price.

The daughter of the city’s mayor, Tuesday Knight arrives at Nick’s shabby office with an offer he can’t refuse as she will pay him $100,000 to recover her father’s stolen luck. Before he can begin the recovery, Chinese crime boss Tommy Wong makes an offer that Nick better not refuse as he wants the sleazy poacher to steal the rare pure luck. Additionally, Nick notices Feds and Scooter Girl are following his latest adventures into the world of the avaricious and if his luck turns good he will have plenty of mocha coffee to wash down his Lucky Charms and apple fritters.

This is a superb satirical Noir fantasy starring a charming rogue who finds his luck turned bad since the femme fatale entered his office as the cosmos demands karmic equilibrium with his debt in the stratosphere. Fast-paced and filled with all types of biting humor, readers will appreciate the antics of the Lucky Bastard as he deals with Greedy Bastards that would make even Dylan Ratigan’s head spin in disbelief. Harriet Klausner

The Kingdoms Of Dust
Amanda Downum
Orbit, Mar 1 2012, $7.99
ISBN: 9780316068987

The recent disastrous events evolved from her investigation into a dead whore wearing the ring of the deceased queen of Selafai to Isyllt Iskaldur's master dying and assassins stalking her. Not only has she lost her position as the necromancer Agent of the Crown, she is exiled from the royal city of Erisin (see The Bone Palace). She and her mercenary friend Adam travel across the Caelurean Sea receiving sanctuary at the court of the Assari.

Dormant ancient spirits of entropy begin to awaken. If they break out of the imprisonment of dedicated mages, these spirits will destroy Assar and its neighbors. Isyllt and Asheris al Seth the jinn bound to a human body travel into the deadly burning desert in search of the lost ancient city of Qais. There they seek the vortex where the lethal ghost winds emanate from. If they find the city, they still have to figure out how to shut down the terrorizing ghost winds.

The latest Necromancer Chronicles fantasy series (see The Drowning City) is a great tale as Amanda Downum once again combines morality on an individual scale against the ethics of the greater good. Isyllt is the focus of the dilemma as she wonders whose needs belong on top of the food chain at the cost to others. She feels for her partner who fumes against his binding but she needs him to save humanity; she empathizes with the bound spirits trying to break out but also knows if freed they will destroy their mage guards (who she admires for their self-sacrificing vigil) and humanity. Filled with plenty of fast-paced action, The Kingdoms of Dust is fantasy at its most exciting morally thought provoking best. Harriet Klausner

Sins Of The Son
Linda Poitevin
Ace, Mar 27 2012, $7.99
ISBN: 9781937007379

Toronto Homicide Detective Alexandra Jarvis was a key player in ending the serial killing spree of Caim the fallen angel who had escaped from Limbo incarceration (see Sins of the Angels). However, victory came at an exorbitant price as she lost her soul mate. Seth Benjamin the angel, who insisted he is the appointed judge of mankind, saved Alex’s life.

To her shock, Alex sees Seth’s picture on a police bulletin. She knows something went terribly wrong as Seth was to prevent Armageddon but instead suffers from amnesia. Led by Lucifer, the Fallen come for Seth, as do the archangels. At the same time Caim’s exiled brother Aramael the Guardian Angel seeking divine redemption plans to kill the Appointed one before he destroys the Creator’s greatest creation. Alex plans to protect Seth from heaven, hell and anything in between.

The second Grigori Legacy is a great urban fantasy filled with twists, back stabbing and several terrific subplots that converge in Vancouver. Fast-paced from the onset, fans will relish this strong thriller as Lucifer and the Fallen hatch a diabolical plan to cause Armageddon. Harriet Klausner

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