Friday, May 18, 2012

Reviews from Harriet

Destiny Kills
S. D. Tooley
Full Moon Publishing, Apr 15 2012, $16.95
ISBN: 9780984635757

In Chasen Heights, Illinois Marti Johnson is having fun with her nine moth old daughter Savannah when her cell phone rings. Immediately after the four-second call ends; she puts on her sneakers, ignores her baby, walks out of the condo onto an overpass, and leaps. She lands on a semi to her death.

The police call Marti’s death a suicide but her husband Forrest rejects the official position as his wife was a contented person. He pleads with the police to reopen the case, but the cops have no grounds to do so; instead they refer bereaving Forrest to police consultant and former cop Sam Casey. She also meets a client who tells her that her sister calmly walked into Lake Michigan and drowned herself just after a four-second call one week before her wedding. Sam’s husband, police detective Jake Mitchell investigates the case of a woman strangled to death by her purse strap. When Sam touches the victim’s purses, she hears the same word destiny, same as the two “suicides”. They need all of Sam’s Indian magic and Jake’s police smarts to figure out who or what the caller is.

The sixth stupendous Sam Casey paranormal police procedural (see What Lies Within, When the Dead Speak and Echoes From The Grave) is the usual great mystery. Sam and Jake are a terrific yin and yang pairing as she believes in the ethereal and he in technology; together they are an incredible team. With some humor especially when the heroine deals with her spouse, Destiny Kills is a fabulous whodunit it as S.D. Tooley makes her cast and the Lake Michigan fantasy elements seem real inside of an enjoyable tale. Harriet Klausner

The Paths of the Dead
Steven Brust
Orb, May 22 2012, $15.99
ISBN: 9780765330307

Two centuries have passed since Adron's Disaster imploded the Empire with the magical destruction of the capital Dragaera (see The Phoenix Guards and Five Hundred Years After) and the loss of the emperor. Many ambitious dukes vie for leadership of the unstable remnants especially the powerful Dragonlord Duke of Kana Skinter. The Gods are divided with some insisting the present cycle requires a Phoenix as emperor and therefore they support the Phoenix heiress Zerika as the Empress; others defend Skinter.

To become the Empress Zerika must retrieve the Orb that is the primary base of wizardry. To obtain the orb she must traverse the dangerous Paths of the Dead. The Enchantress of Dzur Mountain Sethra Lavode supports her and lines her up the offspring of legendary warriors to assist her on her quest. Viscount of Adrilankha Piro, Tazendra the Dzurlord wizard, Kytraan the warrior, and others escort her to the Paths of the Dead while the sorceress Orlaan and her bandits led by Wadre and Mora, and Skinter's loyal supporters try to prevent them from achieving their goal.

This reprint of Book One of the Viscount of Adrilankha, allegedly written by Sir Paarfi and translated by Steven Brust, remains an exciting uniquely written teen quest fantasy that assumes young readers are intelligent and savvy. The story line contains other subplots but the one above is the main theme of The Paths of the Dead while the others are for another day (future book). Although it behooves the audience to read the previous two volumes to learn how the Empire got to where it is, readers will appreciate this witty entry that remains fresh with its unconventional approach to a quest fantasy. Harriet Klausner

Tangle of Need
Nalini Singh
Berkley, May 29 2012, $25.95
ISBN: 9780425247563

Sienna Lauren released her X-Psy powers against the Pure Psy Forces to protect the SnowDancer and DarkRiver packs who took her and her family in when they fled from the PsyNet years ago though she knew this will speed up her death (see Kiss of Snow). Her actions have shaken up both sides in the hostilities over the PsyNet and bring civil war that much closer.

Riaz has returned home to his SnowDancer pack after a stint in Europe. He is depressed that his “mate” is married to someone else, but will not allow his broken heart to prevent him from doing his job for his pack. Adria also has returned to the pack as her mate dumped her because her alpha strength left him feeling emaciated. Adria and Riaz are attracted to one another, but both assume this is a rebound sexual need only. Ironically these two powerful alpha warriors, who willingly risk their lives in mortal combat, fear risking their hearts on love.

This Psy/Changeling romantic fantasy is a great entry that compares the big picture hostilities with the small picture relationships. As the war seems shortly imminent with its accompanying death and maiming, the pairing of two heartbroken changelings and a look at previous leads are doing as mates provide a strong counterpoint in the fabulous Singh mythos. Harriet Klausner

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