Within the Flames
Marjorie M. Liu
Avon, Nov 29 2011, $7.99
Dirk and Steele Detective Agency operative pyrokinetic Eddie nearly flamed out when he somewhat lost control of his fire. He remains shaky at his near death and at his struggle to contain his skill.
The Agency’s Roland orders Eddie to go to New York to find and protect Lyssa the dragon shifter on the run from the Cruor Venator witches who she witnessed murder her parents. Eddie locates the frightened orphaned shifter in the city sewers where she has taken refuge. Though he was reluctant to take on the assignment as his talent remains unreliable and he knows to fear the powerful adversary, Eddie bonds with Lyssa over their flaming problems as orphans.
The latest Dirk and Steele Detective Agency paranormal suspense (see In the Dark of Dreams) is a great thriller due to the neurosis of the lead couple; both are PTSD sufferers. Readers will feel the danger of confronting the powerful enemy whose name denotes nightmares for victims. However, it is the tenuous mental states of the lead characters who make this super action packed story line into a profound tale. Harriet Klausner
77 Shadow Street
Bantam, Dec 27 2011, $28.00
In the nineteenth century, Pendleton built the luxurious Shadow Hill. After the tycoon died, his palatial abode was broken into apartments in which only the one tenth of one percent of the affluent can afford to reside there. In 1888 the disappearances of his wife and their two children broke Andrew North Pendleton’s spirit. Every thirty-eight years since, people simply vanish from this grandiose building never to be seen or heard from again.
In the 1970s, the impossible begins again with fluctuations that enable the current residents to glimpse into the history of this imposing edifice. The security cameras pick up images that cannot exist and communication in tongues that seem arcane as no one understands them. The cycle of darkness that has engulfed this magnificent mansion has begun once again in 2011and those inside will soon feel abandoned as hell has come to them.
This exciting haunted mansion thriller rotates perspective between several characters so that the reader obtains a variety of views as to what is happening inside their current residence. However that technique proves somewhat confusing as the transitions are choppy and no one stands out except for 77 Shadow Street until late in the story line. Still Dean Koontz provides his fans with a tense horror thriller as fans will wonder who will be left standing on this plane and why those who are not were chosen. Harriet Klausner
Putnam, Dec 27 2011, $26.95
Nobel Prize winner, molecular geneticist Tobias Rothman, who worked with virulent strains of typhoid-causing salmonella, concentrates on organogenesis, growing fully functional entire organs from stem cells. He notices the energy and intelligence of Columbia Medical School student Pia Grazdani so Tobias brings the troubled twenty-six years old onto his team.
Avaricious board chair of LifeDeals Inc. Edmund Mathews uses his firm’s assets to buy life insurance policies from the sick and elderly on the cheap. However, if Rothman’s work succeeds making organs cheap, Mathews and his partners would go bankrupt and potentially face criminal charges of fraud and embezzlement. An accident at the safe lab shakes up Pia who soon realizes someone caused the lethal incident and wants her dead too. She turns to Columbia medical student George Wilson, who loves her, for safety.
Although an exciting medical thriller, Death Benefits is over the top of Morningside Heights; thus requiring readers to ignore their plausibility measures. The story line is fast-paced from the moment the lab incident occurs and never slows down. Robin Cook shines a fascinating spotlight on the multitrillion dollar insurance commodity market inside an engaging Manhattan tale. Harriet Klausner
Putnam, Dec 22 2011, $26.95
At Elaine’s New York City lawyer Stone Barrington believes his son Peter does not need him (see Son of Stone) though his best friend NYPD Lieutenant Dino Bacchetti insists otherwise. However, their daddy discussion ends when CIA Assistant Deputy Director Holly Barker joins them. She reminds them they are consultants on call who need to go to DC though she cannot reveal why; she explains they will need credentials to visit the White House.
In Washington, CIA Director and First Lady Katharine Rule Lee greets them while they wait for her husband to arrive from the West Coast. President Will Lee wants them to investigate the murder suicide of the First Lady’s social secretary Mimi Kendrick by her husband Brixton Kendrick the White House manager of the physical layout investigated last year by the FBI and Secret Service.
This is an engaging Barrington-Bacchetti investigative thriller though the reason for the inquiry makes a strong case that the First Lady should not be a CIA director as she states the “FBI agents are not awfully good at investigating homicides.” The story line is fast-paced from the onset though Stone has time for a tryst with Holly. Over the top of the Washington Monument and containing an unnecessary subplot involving a former agent, fans of the series still will enjoy D.C. Dead. Harriet Klausner