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MBR Bookwatch

Volume 4, Number 4 April 2005 Home | MBW Index

Table of Contents

Cynthia's Bookshelf Donovan's Bookshelf Klausner's Bookshelf
Laurel's Bookshelf Shelley's Bookshelf Shirley's Bookshelf

Cynthia's Bookshelf

Every Whispered Word
Karyn Monk
Bantam Dell Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, New York, New York, 10019
ISBN 0553584421 $6.99 416 pages

A fabulously entertaining Victorian.

In 1885, Lady Camelia Marshall returns to London following her father's death to secure investments that will allow her to continue her father's work. An archeologist in South Africa, Camelia believes that she is poised the brink of a major discovery. Others, however, doubt the value of her quest, and encourage her to give up her career to return to a more ordinary existence. Instead, Camelia seeks out an inventor whom she has thoroughly researched, believing he can create a steam engine capable of ridding her archeological site of water so she might continue her dig.

Inventor Simon Kent has little use for London society. His family periodically patents his inventions, but he is much more interested in discovering new things and allowing others to elaborate on the possibilities that might better society. Hard at work on a washing machine, he does not notice his interloper until she has been drenched with water. While he might be flattered by her interest in his work, Simon does not become willing to aid Camelia's quest until a mysterious fire guts his home. Then accompanied by a variety of guests, including Camelia's pet snake, bird and monkey, Simon embarks upon a life altering journey to South Africa.

Author Karyn Monk presents a light and amusing read in EVERY WHISPERED WORD. Days after finishing the novel, I could not help recalling especially vividly realized and humorous tidbits, which would once again have me giggling. Camelia's intelligence, determination, and career choice nicely compliment Simon's own unorthodox lifestyle. Startling original, marvelously humorous, and wonderfully told, EVERY WHISPERED WORD is a must read. EVERY WHISPERED WORD comes very highly recommended.

Cynthia Penn
Senior Reviewer

Donovan's Bookshelf

Barry Bonds
John Bloom
Greenwood Press
PO Box 61109, Denver, CO 80206
0313329559 $29.95 1-800-225-5800

Baseball star Barry Bonds was one of the sport's greatest hitters, and John Bloom's biographical sketch BARRY BONDS joins others in the 'Greatest Hitters' series presenting a review of his life and talents. Chapters detail his statistical performance, his controversial public image, and the accusations of steroid use which cloud his reputation today. An intriguing coverage.

Encyclopedia of American Women In Business
Carol H. Krismann
Greenwood Press
88 Post Road West, Westport, CT 06881
0313333831 $175.00 1-800-225-5800

Specialized business collections or those seeking biographies of notable women will find Carol H. Krisman's two-volume reference invaluable: women have been active in American business since the 18th century, but overcoming great obstacles to success in the process. Entries discuss both their lives and careers, plus add topics central to American businesswomen's issues, from career planning and childcare to flexible work arrangements and even golf. The result's a substantial reference key to any in-depth understanding of the American business environment.

Popular Psychology
Luis A. Cordon
Greenwood Press
88 Post Road West, Westport, CT 06881
0313324573 $75.00 1-800-225-5800

Luis Cordon's reference is actually an encyclopedia, providing a basic guide for high school to college students who want to understand the foundations of serious psychology. There are over a hundred entries from acupuncture and alien abduction to brainwashing, chemical imbalance and more. Topics range from mood disorders to stress disorders, seasonal disorders and pop trends which aren't really true psychology.

Statistical Handbook on The Social Safety Net
Fernando F. Padro
Greenwood Press
88 Post Road West, Westport, CT 06881
1573565164 $150.00 1-800-225-5800

The 'social safety net' may be defined as public service programs such as social security, unemployment insurance and the welfare systems: social systems which address issues of the poor in society. Here's an array of 300 tables, graphics and charts which converts statistics into solid facts and references, provides source materials for further user reference, and includes a glossary of terms and chapters analyzing programs. Perfect for college-level reference collections, STATISTICAL HANDBOOK ON THE SOCIETY SAFETY NET is a reference not to be missed by any college collection with strong social issues courses.

Encyclopedia of American Regional Studies
Mark Busby, Editor
Greenwood Press
88 Post Road West, Westport, CT 06881
0313332665 $699.95 1-800-225-5800

College-level collections serious about their American cultural or history holdings would do well to consider the ENCYCLOPEDIA OF AMERICAN REGIONAL CULTURES despite its hefty price tag: it provides 8 volumes divided by U.S. region: THE SOUTHWEST, SOUTH, MIDWEST, NEW ENGLAND, PACIFIC REGION, GREAT PLAINS REGION, ROCKY MOUNTAIN REGION and MID-ATLANTIC REGION. Each book is almost 500 pages in length and features research in the areas of ethnicity, fashion, food, language, literature, music and the arts, religion, folklore and more. An introductory essay provides the overview, with timelines, charts, a bibliography and more packing each book with all the appropriate material for reference and reports. While black and white photos pepper each, the meat of each book lies in its detailed reports and analysis of what makes each regional American culture unique. A highly recommended, indispensable 'must' for any college-level collection strong in American regional studies.

Greenwood Press
PO Box 5007, Westport, CT 06881-5007

History references are another one of Greenwood's great strengths, providing solid background coverage in references equally important and recommended for high school to college-level collections. Take the 2-volume encyclopedia edited by Katharina M. Wilson and Nadia Margolis, WOMEN IN THE MIDDLE AGES (0313330174): leading scholars across all disciplines contribute their expertise to over 300 alphabetically arranged entries blending biography with critical analysis, covering women from the third to the fifteenth centuries both well-known and obscure. Primary and secondary source bibliographies accompany listings which run a page and a half to several pages in length. Two coverages on major wars are also important library references: Lawrence Tritle's THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR (0313324999, $45.00) covers the early democracy created by Athens, which warred with its neighbors for decades in struggle to control the region. Tritle's history serves as a fine introduction to the event, packing in not just biographies and history, but annotated primary documents and a cultural and social overview of the war and the times. Cole C. Kingseed's THE AMERICAN CIVIL WAR (0313316384, $45.00) also provides an essential overview to the important important event in American history, using a narrative format to present six topical chapters covering major issues during the war, from Lee's final battle to modern consequences of the war today. Again, primary documents serve as the foundation. More more of a focus on ancient cultures' daily living patterns, choose Kristen Wolf's DAILY LIFE OF THE VIKINGS (0313322694, $49.95), a survey which probes the realities of the greater Scandinavian community and its relationship to its Viking explorers. Chapters are organized into major life experiences, from religion and education to political and domestic life. Or perhaps it's a historical overview which is needed: Glenn E. Perry's HISTORY OF EGYPT (0313322643, $45.00) and Anne Baltz Rodrick's HISTORY OF GREAT BRITAIN (0313319685) each contributeto Greenwood's 'Histories of the Modern Nations' series, each emphasizing recent times and covering each country's development through different periods of modern times. Biographical sketches, timelines of events, and essays devoted to major political periods and news make it easy for researchers to understand the social and political history of the countries. Or try Robert Steven Bianchi's DAILY LFIE OF THE NUBIANS (0313325014, $49.95), reflecting recent archaeological discoveries which fill in many gaps in the history of ancient Nubian life. Any library with a history of Nubian culture will find this essential. Elspeth Whitney's MEDIEVAL SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY (0313325197, $45.00) surveys major changes of the era, examining the nature and methods of medieval inquiry from astronomy to chemistry and geography, discussing how technological inventions of the times changed world history, and including biographical sketches of the achievements of 20 selected men and women who contributed vastly to the changes in Medieval scientific thinking. Randall Huff's REVOLUTIONARY WAR ERA (0313322627, $49.95) joins others in 'American Popular Culture Through History', re-creating the different paths American culture took during the course of the Revolutionary War. From how information and customs were transmitted and changed to marriage, public art, and religious debates, discussions are lively and analytical - but easily accessible by both high school and college-level students. Excellent choices, all.

Prometheus Books
59 John Glenn Drive, Amherst, NY 14228-2197

What is radiation, what are its pros and cons, and how does it affect our lives? On the 100th year of Marie Curie's first Nobel Prize awarded for the discovery of radioactivity, Alan Waltar's Radiation And Modern Life: Fulfilling Marie Curie's Dream (1591022509, $28.00) provides an engrossing overview of radiation's many benefits and untapped potentials. As past president of the American Nuclear Society, Dr. Waltar is in the perfect position to clearly explain this energy source and uses plenty of examples and anecdotes to keep RADIATION AND MODERN LIFE accessible to non-scientist readers. Thomas G. West's Thinking Like Einstein: Returning To Our Visual Roots With The Emerging Revolution In Computer Information Visualization (1591022517, $28.00) views Einstein as a classic example of a visual thinker who tends to think in images but has problems with standard numerical symbols. An intriguing connection is made between such visually oriented folks as Einstein and learning disabilities such as dyslexia as West explores the idea of visual thinking enhanced by computer graphics, widening his discussion to maintain we're at the beginning of a transition from word/number based culture to images and pictures in which computer visualization technology will change how we all think.

Timothy Miller & Steve Milton
Firefly Books
4 Daybreak Lane, Westport, CT 06880
155297829X $19.95 1-800-387-5085

For NASCAR race fans, Timothy Miller and Steve Milton collaborate to provide the definitive inside scoop on NASCAR drivers, cars and crew including past and present legendary drivers, to their teams, their sponsors, and more. Packed with color photos throughout, NASCAR NOW provides interviews, case histories, team statistics and much, much more for the avid NASCAR fan.

Firefly Books Ltd.
4 Daybreak Lane, Westport, CT 06880

Four astronomy guides are also recommended picks. Terence Dickinson's fourth expanded, revised edition of THE UNIVERSE AND BEYOND (1552979016, $29.95) includes the latest astronomy findings with new images from the Hubble Space telescope and latest space probes as it attends to a visually exciting, yet easy scientific expose with lay readers in mind. Weightier and more appropriate for the college-level reference library is Paul Murdin and Margaret Penston's ENCYCLOPEDIA OF ASTRONOMY (1552977978, $59.95), packing in over 1700 entries and 350 color photos with its comprehensive survey of stargazing. An encyclopedia format of listings lends to ongoing research use. Andrew K. Johnston's EARTH FROM SPACE (1552978206, $49.95) offers three hundred images of Earth from space from the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, presenting a unique global view and including plenty of written description on geography and maps. Pam Spence's SUN OBSERVER'S GUIDE (1552979415, $14.95) tells how to view the sun through filters or projecting its image. Spence is an experienced astronomer, and explains all aspects of sun viewing; from safety to identifying sun qualities and keeping records of observations. Fun guides for amateur astronomers, all four are unique, outstanding additions to any astronomy reference collection.

Firefly Books Ltd.
4 Daybreak Lane, Westport, CT 06880

Mark Carwardine's SHARK (1552979482, $24.95) is a lively, inviting blend of natural history and color photos. The beautiful color photos throughout carry Carwardine's expert detailed information covering sharks; from origins and ancestors to distribution and natural history. A photographer, zoologist, and regular contributor to BBC wildlife Magazine, Cardwardine's background in marine biology makes him the perfect author for SHARK. Likewise, Stephen Mills' TIGER (1552979490, $24.95), written by a professional naturalist who has studied tigers in India and Nepal for over 20 years. Mills' background lends to an authoritative, exciting discussion while his camera skills capture rare tiger footage throughout. Both are fine coverages. Chris G. Earley's HAWKS & OWLS OF THE GREAT LAKES REGION & EASTERN NORTH AMERICA (1552978478, $16.95) uses almost two hundred color photos to outline the birds of prey from this region, depicting them in their natural environment and offering comparison pages of similar-looking birds for further reference. Add discussions of sex and breed differences, seasonal plumage changes and more and you have an exciting field guide. Phil Schappert's THE LAST MONARCH BUTTERFLY (1552979695, $19.95) presents a researcher's survey of the monarch, pairing over fifty color photos with details on how monarchs are endangered. Detailed observations and discussions of their extraordinary migration patterns supplement an exciting, colorful discussion. The revised edition of ORANGUTANS:WIZARDS OF THE RAINFOREST (1552979989, $24.95) presents Anne E. Russon's personal odyssey about her life with orangutans. Her furry friends have names and personalities: this newly revised publication includes new data on orangutan thoughts, rehabilitation processes, and more.

Diary of Samuel Pepys: Selected Passages
Richard Le Gallienne, Editor
Dover Publications
31 East 2nd Street, Mineola, NY 11501
0486436675 $9.95 1-800-223-3130

Dover's republication of PASSAGES FROM THE DIARY OF SAMUEL PEPYS returns a 1921 classic to print, providing select passages from Pepys' more extensive DIARY recounting the Great Fire of London and the Plague years. A vivid description of life in bygone England evolves, recommended for college-level courses in period English history.

My First Summer In the Sierra
John Muir
Dover Publications
31 East 2nd Street, Mineola, NY 11501
0486437353 $6.95 1-800-223-3130

In the summer of 1969 naturalist John Muir, then a young Scottish immigrant joined a crew of shepherds in California's Sierra Nevada mountains, keeping a diary while tending sheep and reflecting a newfound love for the area. MY FIRST SUMEMRI N THE SIERRA was first published in 1991 and blended his observations with his sketches: Dover reprints the experience for new audiences.

The King in Yellow And Other Horror Stories
Robert W. Chambers
Dover Publications
31 East 2nd Street, Mineola, NY 11501
0486437507 $14.95 1-800-223-3130

Robert Chamber's title story became one of the most important works in American supernatural fiction since those of Poe, representing one of the first attempts to establish the horror of the names: this reprints all the supernatural stories from THE KING IN YELLOW, presenting some of Chambers' best from a range of sources. A highly recommended pick for fans of horror and the supernatural.

Early Motorcycles
Victor W. Page
Dover Publications, Inc.
31 East 2nd Street, Mineola, NY 11501
0486436713 $29.95 1-800-223-3130

Early Motorcycles: Construction, Operation and Repair was first published in the 1920s, when thousands of motorcycles were already in use. Author Victor Page himself was an early transportation pioneer: his background lends to a lively survey of motorcycles, from engines, lubrication and materials to gear types and standard equipment. It's hard to believe EARLY MOTORCYCLES first appeared in 1924 - and that the instructions on operation and repair remain as relevant today as it did when it was first published.

Good Things to Eat
Rufus Estes
Dover Publications, Inc.
31 East 2nd Street, Mineola, NY 11501
0486437647 $8.95 1-800-223-3130

Dover Publications has reprinted Rufus Estes' Good Things to Eat: The First Cookbook by an African-American Chef, the first cookbook by an Afro-American chef, returning this time-lost 1911 culinary classic to print. It's refreshing to read a title from the past which doesn't skimp on the lard or the fats, and intriguing to read about Estes' Southern childhood and early years as a railway attendant, while the easy recipes for Baked Milk (an early form of custard), or Parsnip Fritters.

Dover Publications, Inc.
31 East 2nd Street, Mineola, NY 11501

Garma C.C. Chang edited TEACHINGS OF TIBETAN YOGA in 1963, and here it comes again (in an affordable, unabridged republication to reach new audiences with its survey of Tantric Buddhism. Chang's Teachings and Practice Of Tibetan Tantra (0486437426 $8.95) remains more accessible than most, offering a step-by-step instructional on how to perform the purification exercises, rather than the usual spiritual overview of theory. Frederick Thomas Elworthy's THE EVIL EYE: THE CLASSIC ACCOUNT OF AN ANCIENT SUPERSTITION (0486434370, $17.95) reprints an 1895 classic treatise first published over a century ago, and holding importance for modern researchers. Early 200 illustrations of 'evil-preventing' charms from the author's personal collection accompany an in-depth history. David Bakan's SIGMUND FREUD AND THE JEWISH MYSTICAL TRADITION (0486437671, $16.95) republishes a 1965 treatise challenging the popular view of Freud as a secular intellectual. Bakan's treatment maintains Freud's psychoanalytic theory is rooted in Jewsih tradition - particularly the mysticism of the kabbala - and provides new interpretations based on this theory. Two new mythologies are inviting: W. Max Muller's EGYPTIAN MYTHOLOGY (0486436748, $14.95) reprints the Egyptian section of the weighty MYTHOLOGY OF ALL RACES, V. XII form 1918, culling out the scholarship surrounding the role of art in religious expression and revealing how Egyptian doctrine evolved. John Arnott MacCulloch's CELTIC MYTHOLOGY (048643656X, $12.95) does the same for the Celtic section of Volume III, recounting ancient stories of Ireland and Wales and including illustrations from rare source materials.

Diane C. Donovan
West Coast Editor

Klausner's Bookshelf

Bran Mak Morn: The Last King
Robert E. Howard
Del Rey
ISBN: 0345461541 $15.95, 384 pp.

Though Bran Mak Morn is the prime player of this collection, as he stars in three of the short stories and is a feature star of the Miscellanea Part two section, this compilation is more accurately described as a deep look at the author's "Lost Race": the Picts. The compilation is fabulously enhanced by the illustrations of Gary Gianni that bring even more to life Howard's blending of fantasy and history in this case, the ancient world of the Picts. Clearly the sword and sorcery crowd who like a more historical anchor will want to read this insightful look at Mr. Howard's Pict world. Especially those who enjoy Conan will cherish BRAN MAK MORN: THE LAST KING that will remind fans of THE BLOODY CROWN OF CONAN in format and style; containing short stories enhanced by Mr. Gianni's delightful illustrations and Miscellanea and Appendices segments that provide further insight into the author and his rendition of the Picts.

Holy Smoke
Tonino Benacquista
Bitter Lemon
ISBN: 190473801X $13.95

Dario Trengoni and his childhood pal Antonio Polsinelli meet for the first time in years and discuss what each is doing and what is happening with some of their mutual friends from growing up Italian in South Paris. Dario insists "Anto" speaks the real language, Italian better than he so he asks a favor. Anto reluctantly agrees to writes a love letter for Dario to Madame Raphaelle ironically in French. Not long after their encounter, someone shoots Dario in the head. Tonio as he known now is stunned to learn he inherited an Italian vineyard near Naples from Dario. He also finds out that his friend was a Taxi-boy earning his money as a gigolo. Tonio tries to locate Madame Raphaelle, but that proves a bit dangerous. So instead he travels to his new property only to find the wine stinks, the vines are worse, the locals already hate him, and a religious scam is in place. With the inheritance comes the Mafia and the Vatican, two of the toughest mobs in Europe, who expect Tonio to give each of them a 100 percent tithe. HOLY SMOKE! This tale is a terrific twisted look at crime from the perspective of a small timer who is being squeezed by organized groups who want the whole action. Tonio is fabulous as a minnow suddenly swimming with sharks. Fans will appreciate his distinction between the two outside "mobs". The story line satirizes criminal behavior (a crime is defined by the state) to include organized religion as a subcategory of crime. Tonino Benacquista provides a delightfully droll dark thriller.

Death Takes a Honeymoon
Deborah Donnelly
ISBN 0440241308 $5.99, 335 pp.

Wedding planner Carnegie Kincaid is going through a rough patch professionally and personally. Her Seattle based businesses "Made in Heaven Wedding Design" is not making much money and her relationship with her commitment phobic significant other Aaron Gold is strained. She decides to attend the wedding of her college friend Tracy West because of the business contacts she will make there as Tracy is a big Hollywood star and her parents know all the movers and shakes. When Carnegie learns her cousin died, she decides that the wedding is the perfect place to get some answers regarding his death. Although Carnegie wasn't close to her cousin Brian Theale, she wants to know if his death was an accident or murder. A professional who examined the body thinks he was murdered but the sheriff and the task force classified it an accident. Brian's fellow smoke jumpers who were with him shortly after he died will be at the wedding so Carnegie will have an easy time questioning the suspects. To her delight, Aaron comes up for the wedding and since he is a journalist with skills that are needed to question suspects, they team up to find out the truth behind Brian's death. The heroine becomes the de facto wedding planner for the West wedding which gives her easy access to the suspects and her determination to find out if the cousin she didn't like was murdered is laudable. Doing her job while trying to scope out a murderer leads to some very funny situations and the comic relief is needed because the tension throughout the storyline is as tight as a high wire. Deborah Donnelly is a very creative writer whose mystery series is refreshingly innovative and totally exciting.

Funeral Music
Morag Joss
ISBN: 044024241X $6.99

World class cellist Sara Selkirk remains stunned by the death of her lover, which led to her inability to perform at a recent Paris concert. She has come to Bath to play the Cello at a charity event although she still mourns her loss. Following the event in the Pump Room, Sara finds the host organizer Museum Director Matthew Sawyer floating in the Roman Baths' Sacred Spring, stabbed to death. Heading the investigation Detective Chief Investigator Andrew Poole has a vested interest that should probably disqualify him as he gets cello lessons from Sara and is attracted to her although he is unhappily married. The inquiries go nowhere as everyone detested the victim. Initially reluctant to talk with Sara about the suspects, Andrew realizes he needs her insight to reduce the list because so many seem to have motive and opportunity. She helps the DCI but rejects his romantic advances even when he swears he left his wife because he loves her. Sara's efforts help her overcome her grief, but also threaten her career as an angry female warns her that if she fails to back off she will lose her hands. This British police procedural tale hooks the audience due to the star Sara, who struggles with the death of a loved one, understands that the show must go on and rejects the romantic advances of the head investigator. The who-done-it is cleverly designed for an Agatha Christie like finish, but what makes the tale is the deep look at Bath and Sara especially her refreshing refusal to become Andrew's lover. Several secondary players seem add nothing to this well written allegro paced murder mystery that has a crescendo ending.

Dark Planet
Charles W. Sasser
ISBN 1932815139 $6.99, 368 pp.

In the far distant future while earth is a wasteland populated by mutants, humanity colonized countless planets becoming the dominant power in the galaxy after they crushed the Indowy technology which made humans and Zentadons little more than slaves. Now under the Galaxia Republic, humans are the species with the most power and the Zentadon and the Indowy races have evolved into pacifists. There is a new alien species that is moving into Federation territory known as the Blobs and it is believed they are building a base on the Dark Planet Aldenia. Deep Reconnaissance Team 2113 is sent there undercover and one of the members is Kadar San, a half-breed human Zentadon with telepathic powers. They discover an old Indowy weapon that could decimate the galaxy and Kadar San wants it destroyed. However another member, of the team Blade who is influenced by the evil Presence wants to take the weapon off planet so it can be used as a weapon of mass destruction. There is a benign Presence who sides with Kadar San in his battle with Blade and the evil Presence and the stake of their encounter is the survival or destruction of the galaxy. Readers who like military science fiction within a space opera will love DARK PLANET. The alien seem very real as if the author traveled through time to the future and recorded the cultures of different sentient species. There is a lot of action in this novel but that doesn't mean the characters are stereotypes. The protagonists are well developed sometimes make mistakes but always fight to destroy evil. The romance between Kadar San and one of his teammates adds another dimension to a satisfying reading experience.

The Keeners
Maura D. Shaw
ISBN: 1932815155 $25.95 279 pp.

In 1846 County Clare, Ireland, seventeen-year-old Margaret Meehan thinks the world is terrific as her family farm has always done well growing potatoes and she anticipates marrying Tom Riordan. Adding to her belief that all is right in her orbit is that she is also apprenticed to the elderly keener Nuala Lynch as they provide solace to those grieving the loss of a loved one. However, her idyllic life collapses as the potato famine begins with people dying throughout the devastated country. Unable to cope with so much death and demand on the keeners and with her spouse condemned as a criminal, Margaret and Tom flee to Troy, New York, where many Irish have immigrated to start anew. Here Margaret finds her expatriate countrymen in need of a Keener, but can she use her gift after watching her family, friends, and nation die? THE KEENERS is a superb historical tale that brings to life the blight of the Irish when the crops failed in 1846 and many fled to a new world to begin again. The key to Maura D. Shaw's tale is the historical perspective that comes across with depth whether Margaret struggles with the nightmare of Ireland or the new optimistic beginnings in Troy. Margaret is a terrific center holding the novel together as she never forgets her roots, but wonders if she can return to keening after being overwhelmed with so much death as she suffers from a form of battle fatigue syndrome yet knows she is needed. This is a fabulous mid nineteenth century story that historical fans will cherish.

Cain and Abel
Michelle Perry
ISBN: 1932815031 $6.99, 308 pp.

In Tennessee, the woman in Polly's Restaurant panics when she notices the patron dining there. She flees even as he notices her escape. She is hit by a car and rushed to a hospital, but not before perplexed private investigator Alex Ramsey wonders who Emily Jackson is, why she fled, and why when he reached her did she mumble his twin's name Cole. Alex learns that Emily is actually his sister-in-law Jessica, who allegedly died five years ago. He also learns he has a nephew Joe. Deciding that Joe is in jeopardy from a crazed mother, Alex calls his estrange sibling to tell him his spouse lives, is crazy, and may prove harmful to the son that Cole never knew existed. However, Alex soon changes his mind when Jessica comments that Cole is going to kill her and spread her remains across the country; the same comment their father said to their mother when she fled with Alex while his sibling decided to stay behind. Alex realizes what he has done and vows to keep Jessica and his nephew safe from his brother. Though Alex is too easily persuaded that initially his in-law is wacko and then his brother is the maniac fans will appreciate this strong romantic suspense. The comparison between the siblings makes the strong case that nurturing is more important than naturing as the varying environments the twins were raised in make them so different. The guilt that attacks Alex's soul for first leaving his twin behind and then when he comprehends what he has done to Jessica and worse little Joe makes Michelle Perry's tale of brothers an exhilarating chiller.

The Baby Trail
Sinead Moriarty
ISBN: 0743496760 $23.00, 308 pp.

Married one year thirty-three years old make-up artist Emma Hamilton and her spouse rugby coach James decide to have a baby. Emma conducts research, develops an action plan with a detailed time line, and implements the process because she must be ready to celebrate next Christmas with her three month old child. However, month two in her plan called for pregnancy, which failed to happen in spite of constant sex. Now two months behind schedule, Emma decides to supplement the au natural plan that failed to perceive its objective. Months later and still not pregnant, fertility drugs, standing on her head, and James not allowed wasting one iota in case that one is the gold medal swimmer, Emma is stopped by a cop who has just adopted a Romanian child. Two years and no kid, even James is losing patience with Emma (can the readers be far behind?) so perhaps Bucharest is the perfect vacation spot that is after a stop at Lourdes hoping for divine intervention. This chick lit tale is more a series of vignettes that focus on contraception and fertility than a novel. Though the obsessed Emma is an interesting character, readers will become weary of her antics yet ironically root for her to achieve her goal and become pregnant. James is a saint (or the reincarnation of Job) for putting up with Emma's insanity. THE BABY TRAIL has amusing moments and overall is well written, but reads more like a short story collection with a central character worth perusing over several sittings.

Charlie Higson
ISBN: 0786838140 $16.95, 352 pp.

In the 1930s in the Scottish Highlands, fourteen year old Alphie Kelly sneaks under a fence that contain dead animals and other keep out trespassing notices to go fishing at Loch Silverfin. However, strange behaving eel attack the lad. At the same time that Alphie vanishes, James Bond enters Eton after spending the last couple of years living with his Aunt Charmian following the deaths of his parents in a mountain climbing incident. He runs into trouble from the start with an older student, American George Hellebore and the teen's father weapons tycoon Randolph. James heads to Keithly, Scotland to spend the Easter holidays with his beloved aunt and his ailing Uncle Max. On the train, he befriends Red Kelly who is heading to the same area to search for his missing cousin. In Keithly, James and Red breech the perimeter fence, trespassing on Randolph's property where he is conducting experiments on a super soldier that will eliminate the frailty of those he observed during the last Great War. SILVERFIN is a fine young James Bond tale in which the lad shows glimpses of the cool spy, but just as often displays young teen bravado to hide a lack of confidence. Thus the middle school audience that this novel targets can believe that this is indeed James during his school years. The investigation is intriguing and Randolph is a solid Bond villain. The Eton chapters set the tone for James and his allies vs. the father and son Hellebores. Fans will enjoy their altercation that makes up Part Two of the fine novel.

Cut and Run
Ridley Pearson
ISBN 0786867264 $23.95, 416 pp.

U.S. Marshall Roland Larson has guarded Hope Stevens for forty-one days waiting for her to be placed in the Witness Protection Program. She has information of the Romero crime family that can put them away for life. So far they have tried to kill her three times and although failed, they will keep on trying so it is imperative that she gets a new identity quickly so she can be alive to testify at their fraud and murder trials. Before she disappears, Hope asks Larson to go into the program so they can be together. The next day she is gone and nobody will tell Larson where she has been relocated to or the name she is now using. Six years later, Hope is out of the program and on her own with her five year old daughter Penny. The Romero family has gone underground and wants to locate her now because their brother Donny is due out of prison unless she comes forth to testify. They kidnap Penny to use as a bargaining chip but Larson has found Hope and he is determined to get Penny, no matter what the costs. Action, adventure, and romance are blended together to become one of the best books Ridley Pearson has ever written. The characters touch a chord in the readers' hearts especially Hope who wants daughter safe at all cost to herself. Larson wants Hope and Penny out of harm's way and with him while Penny has to be brave beyond her years to survive the kidnapping. The brilliant characterizations, the fast paced storyline and the romantic sizzle between two protagonists make CUT AND RUN a book to put on the keeper shelf.

Haunted Ground
Erin Hart
ISBN: 0743272102 $12.00, 352 pp.

While working his land cutting up peat, farmer Brendan McGann uncovers the well preserved severed head of a red hair woman. Apparently the local peat conserved what later proves to be a three-century-old head. Since "Bog Bodies" are a popular pastime in Western Ireland, Archeology Professor Cormac Maguire is asked to look at the precious find. He quickly enlists anatomy expert Irish-American Nora Gavin to accompany him to evaluate the head. Near the McGann farm in Dunbeg, townsfolk discuss the disappearance two years ago of the wife and toddler of wealthy Hugh Osborne. The spousal vanishing reminds Nora of the murder of her sister, killed in her mind by her brother-in-law. As Nora and Cormac work together, their attraction for one another grows. While they explore the peat find, Detective Devaney continues to investigate the missing Osbornes over the objection of his superior who demands his inquiry ends as a cold case. Though the lead protagonists are more equals and begin falling in love, HAUNTED GROUND feels like a modern day rendition of the HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES with forensic science replacing Holmesian logic. The two professional visitors are a delightful pair trying to solve the peat mystery, but unable to resist involvement in the Osborne case especially Nora due to her sibling connection. The villagers with their suspicious nature of the outside invaders add a gothic atmosphere to a strong suspense thriller. Readers will appreciate this suspense tale that combines modern day forensic science with a three hundred-year-old murder and a current mystery that might be "buried" in the HAUNTED GROUND of the bogs.

Carol Higgins Clark
ISBN 0743242750 $23.00, 288 pp.

Private investigation Regan Reilly is ready to leave California and spend the weekend in New York with her fiance Jack. She's also supposed to go over wedding plans with her mother, a bestselling author. A terrible blizzard closes down the airports in the East so when Megan's best friend Kit calls her from Hawaii to invite her to stay with her for a long weekend at the Waikiki Waters Playground and Resort she gladly accepts. When she arrives she learns that an employee of the hotel washed ashore; the police declared it an accidental drowning. What is strange about her death is she was wearing a priceless lei that belonged to Hawaii's last queen. The manager of the hotel Will Brown has doubts about the death and hires Regan to investigate. The lei is the twin to the one that is being auctioned off at the hotel on Saturday. The thief who originally stole the lei returns and takes both leis. What follows is comedy of errors as Regan and the police successfully find the leis. In the meantime, Regan is also involved is saving the lives of two people who just got engaged from two ruthless killers and investigating Kit's new boyfriend to make sure he's on the up and up. What starts out as a vacation for the heroine turns into a non stop workathon where she tries to juggle three cases at the same time without getting killed. Carol Higgins Clark has created a fantastic private investigator that is a cross between Kinsey Milhone and Irene Kelly. There is so much action that takes place readers will feel that they have taken a ride on the world's fastest roller coaster.

Just Murdered
Elaine Viets
ISBN 0451214927 $6.50, 288 pp.

When Helen Hawthorne saw her husband having sex with another woman, she became so mad she smashed his car to pieces. The judge ordered them to split to the income when they sell their house equally and ordered Helen to pay alimony because supposedly he supposedly supported her career by being a house husband. Rather than give him a dime, Helen runs down to Ft. Lauderdale, going from a six figure job to a series of dead end positions that she receives remittance for under the table. Her latest job is as a salesperson at the posh Millicent's Bridal Salon but Helen discovers that weddings bring out the worst in people. Kiki is a rich mother of the bride who is determined to out shine her daughter on her wedding day. Kiki makes enemies wherever she goes as she believes her money insulates her from taking responsibility for her actions. On the day of the wedding Kiki is found murdered in a closet and Helen has to find out who the killer is because she is the police's number one suspect. JUST MURDERED is a hilarious chick-lit mystery where the bride and groom get married despite the fact that Kiki fails to attend. When her body is discovered, there are a host of suspects who would have liked to kill Kiki from the chauffer who was used as a stud to the owner of the bridal store who hasn't been paid for the gowns, accessories and the daughter who despised her mother. Readers will find themselves laughing out loud when Helen subtly tries to question the suspects, all of whom look at her as the hired help.

Women of the Bible: Abigail's Story
Ann Burton
ISBN: 045121479X $5.99, 288 pp.

When her father Oren who taught her to believe in Adonai and to make pottery, no longer could walk to the market, Abigail took over those chores as her older brother Rivai who should have done so was too much the foolish dreamer. Still she dreams of marrying for love and raising children together while worshipping Adonai. Her hopes for the future are shattered when Rivai owes a gambling debt to Nabal that he cannot pay. Abigail offers Nabal her hand in marriage as remittance because a family pays every member's debts; Nabal accepts. Being the Fool that he is,Nabal sends his spouse away to work with sheep. Although she still hopes to be a good wife, Abigail enjoys the solitude and the people she meets. One of those is David, who takes a liking to the proud strong young woman. However, when her husband the Fool refuses to provide food and liquid to a requesting David for his soldiers and actually insults the warriors, war seems imminent. Abigail tries to bring peace between the two men. Abigail is an interesting biblical character whose story is a short segment of the Book of Samuel. Ann Burton brings more than just Abigail to life as she paints a vivid deep look at a biblical time when Saul is the king. Ms. Burton through the first person account of the title heroine provides an intriguing glimpse at family life of shepherds, warriors, and artisans and obligations like debts. A glossary provides helpful definitions to what is a terrific biblical biographical fiction, the genesis of a new series.

If Angels Burn
Lynn Viehl
ISBN: 0451214773 $6.99, 304 pp.

In Chicago, Dr. Alexandra Keller is a renowned reconstructive surgeon who works complex cases with a speed and accuracy that no else match. In New Orleans, M. Cyprian offers Alexandra an outrageous sum of money to work on his face; she refuses informing him to come to Chicago as she has other patients who need her. However, refusal is unacceptable; Michael's men abduct Alexandra and bring her to his home. She is stunned by the hole where his face is and he demonstrates how fast his body heals so that a normal surgeon would not have the time to operate. Alexandra reluctantly does repair his mutilated face. Afterward he sucks her blood in rapture, but she survives; the first human to do so in centuries. Feeling guilty Michael knows he must protect Alexandra from his fellow Darkyn and from their opposites the Vatican sponsored Brethan. He heads to Chicago where his loyal servant dumped the surgeon, not knowing that soon he will love this mortal. This exciting vampire romance is action packed from the moment that Alexandra is abducted and never slows down until the final altercation. The story line contains terrific characters that make the Darkyn seem like a real species especially the jealousy of a rival Lucan. Alexandra's brother Farther John adds depth to understanding the heroine. Lynn Viehl writes a fabulous paranormal tale that readers will appreciate each bite and look forward to sequels.

The Veil of Night
Lydia Joyce
ISBN: 0451214838 $6.99, 320 pp.

In 1864 Duke Byron Stratford hides in the darkness of his estate Raeburn Court. The recluse seeks vengeance from Jack Gifford for stealing the woman he planned to marry and has succeeded by buying up the man's markers. Jack's sister Lady Victoria Wakefield, a renowned spinster, asks the duke not to embarrass her family or destroy Jack. Byron responds by inviting her to spend time at his estate. To his shock she agrees. At Raeburn, Byron offers Victoria a deal in which he will call off the debt if she spends a week at his beck and call and have sex with him. She surprises him again by acquiescing to his demands. However, she is much more than a prim and proper spinster as Byron soon learns. They begin to fall in love, but he lives in the shadows of the night and she prefers horse back riding on a sunny day making a permanent relationship impossible. THE VEIL OF NIGHT is an intriguing Victorian romance that in many ways reads like a well written gothic. The story line grips the audience who want to know why Byron hides in the shadows (his coach sounds eerie). Victoria in certain ways is typical of the aristocratic female circa 1864, but much of her outlook was shaped by a common cold years ago. A better explanation is needed for how Byron was apparently part of the London glitter and then suddenly becomes a recluse hiding in the shadows (though the present is cleverly explained). Fans will appreciate this fine Victorian romance starring two interesting protagonists.

Dare Me
Cherry Adair, Jill Shalvis, & Julie Elizabeth Leto
ISBN: 0451214374 $6.99, 384 pp.

"Playing for Keeps" by Cherry Adair. The flight from San Cristobel to Miami was filled by the staff or family of President Pelacios when the plane crashed; flight attendant Danica Cross and the seven years old son of Pelacios miraculously survive. Her estranged husband Jon Raven pulls strings to see the woman he loves, but goes bonkers to learn she is back in San Cristobel. Not all the president's men or his personal physician can keep Dani safe; only Jon can and he will be tested to the max. "Nothing to Lose" by Jill Shalvis. DEA Agent Will Malone is unofficially chasing con artist Mario Alvarez who killed his sister Wendy. In Los Angeles Jade Barrett just broke off with Tomas only to find he looted her antiques store, her bank accounts, and her home. Will informs Jade that she was hustled by Mario and offers her a partnership to bring down this SOB; she accepts. "Dare to Desire" by Julie Elizabeth Leto. In New Orleans, T-45 Agent Macy Rush informs the realtor she will buy the house only to have Arm Agent Dante Burke tell her he already purchased the place. Macy hates Dante who betrayed her love nine years ago destroying her reputation and heart. Dante insists they team up as the count down to find the hidden code to avert terrorist use of an abandoned Russian missile in an unknown location has begun. These three romantic suspense thrillers grip the audience from the beginning and never let up until the climax. The lead couples are a delightful pairing and the action non-stopped as all three novellas are terrific tense tales.

Dating is Murder
Harley Jane Kozak
ISBN: 0385510349 $19.95

Because of her friends and the lack of income from her Good Golly Miss Wollies greeting card artistry, Wollstonecraft "Wollie" Shelley is a contestant on the new reality TV show Biological Clock. Her two pals entered her name and key stats, big chest, big legs, big bod and she was accepted as the perfect six foot contrast to the other female contestants. Wollie would trade in her fifteen minutes of Warhol fame for money so she agrees to the opportunity. Three women date three men with the audience deciding who should mate and produce the next generation. While dating on the air, Wollie's math tutor Annika vanishes. Unable to stay out of the situation, Wollie finds LAPD lacking interest in the case except for a cop wanting to take her out. So Wollie decides to look for the busy Annika, who besides teaching works as a production assistant and as an au pair for an Encino superwoman. As she makes some fumbling progress, a stalker warns Wollie to back off or else. Being Wollie and attracted to the stalker, she chooses or else. Chick lit meets amateur sleuth in Southern California. Wollie is as irreverent as ever though her dates seem a bit livelier than her previous appearance (see DATING DEAD MEN). The story line never takes itself seriously as it spoofs reality TV, chick lit novels, and amateur sleuth who-done-its. The cast starting with Wollie, but also her friends, her TV dates, the stalker, and the missing Annika come together to provide a humorous take on DATING IS MURDER.

Watch Your Back
Donald E. Westlake
ISBN 0892968028 $24.95, 310 pp

The family of New York fence Arnie Albright is so fed up with his obnoxious nasty personality that they stage an intervention and send him to the resort island of Club Med in the Caribbean to get a personality transplant. There he meets Preston Fareweather. The wealthy venture capitalist has been living on the island for three years to avoid being served the subpoenas, injunctions and other legal papers from his four ex-wives who have banded together to get even with Preston and take him for all he is worth. While on the island, he treats Arnie so terribly that when he returns to New York he decides to have his revenge on the man who made him feel worthless. He contacts Dortmunder and explains that Preston has a penthouse with exclusive art and antiques easy to rob because nobody lives there. Dortmunder and his crew accept the job but they get sidetracked when the mob takes over the O.J. Bar and Grill, their meeting place. While Dortmunder is fixing that problem, his ex-wives lure Preston off the island and he is heading to his penthouse at the same time Dortmunder and his crew plan to rob the place. Donald E. Westlake scores again with another deliciously ironic crime caper where criminals are trying to steal from one another. Preston, a white collar crook, is no different than his mob counterparts or Dortmunder and his misfits. The screw-ups outwit both the mob and the venture capitalist through some hilarious maneuvers. WATCH YOUR BACK is a crime thriller that will have readers chuckling out loud.

A Confidential Source
Jan Brogan
ISBN: 0892960078 $24.95, 326 pp.

She had an affair with an alleged murderer that she was profiling for the Boston Ledger. When she learns he was using her, reporter Hallie Ahern quits and relocates to Rhode Island where she takes a journalist position at a satellite bureau of the providence Morning-Chronicle. She fears working on any major story until the night she is in the back of the near deserted Mazurksy's market when someone shoots Barry the manager. Hallie writes the article and Leonard of Late Night radio offers her vital information for her story. Leonard tells Hallie that Barry had a gambling addiction that forced him to sell his stores, but though broke still played; he believes the mob sanctioned a hit. However Hallie notices how rabidly anti-gambling Leonard is as he challenges the mayor every chance he gets on the issue as His Honor wants to legalize the "vice" in Rhode Island. He offers her more information on political corruption at the highest state levels, but someone who has killed twice to keep the story out of the media will add Hallie to the list of the dead if she fails to drop her investigation. Fans who read A CONFIDENTIAL SOURCE will understand why many people oppose legalized gambling; Jan Brogan shows how the lure can cause a person to lose everything yet the addiction keeps them playing. Hallie learns this first hand when she begins playing at a casino and quickly is unable to pay her bills. Though one sided on the issue by ignoring the multi billion dollar illegal gambling industry, this novel is a well thought out thriller that is full of misdirection especially a believable unexpected u-turn that will surprise an elated audience.

More Than They Could Chew
Rob Roberge
Dark Alley (Harper Collins)
ISBN: 0060742801 $13.95, 306 pp.

In Long Beach, California Nick Ray works the first floor desk of the historic but not preserved Lincoln Hotel. On the graveyard shift, Nick seeks a way to communicate with his lover Tara without her lover knowing as he enjoys the sex but does not want a beating from her lesbian lover. To hide the affair, Nick buys a dinosaur age used computer. The relic turns out to be a former government machine in which the hard drive was not properly sanitized. It contains an interesting database that is apparently current: the names and present residences of whistle-blowers concealed by the government's witness-protection program. Seeing a chance to make a bundle by selling the information to mobsters seeking revenge or examples or to the recipient, Nick enlists two partners, Russian thug Sergei and disbarred lawyer Maggot Arm Joe. They beta test his new employment scheme with astonishing ease and success. However, the euphoric trio soon finds MORE THAN THEY COULD CHEW when someone will kill to possess the database. This is a zany thriller starring the ultimate loser who as his ex wife says would still find a way to come in second in a rigged race of one. Nick is the center of this madcap mania as he keeps the story line together though in a spiraling out of control way; yet he and the solid support cast make a strong case for genetic engineering of the next generation. Though the climax seems to gentle for such a wild dark yarn, readers will gladly bunker down appreciating the humorous look at anything has a price in the United Sales of America.

The Sugar Camp Quilt
Jennifer Chiaverini
Simon & Schuster
ISBN 0743260171 $22.00 306 pp.

In the years prior to the Civil War in Creek Crossing, Pennsylvania, the Grangers having lost their farm to a flood and have taken refuge with Uncle Jacob, a pious but harsh man. Robert and Lorena Granger hope that when Jacob dies, the farm will go to their son Jonathan who is apprenticing to a physician in Baltimore. Teenaged Dorothea is the dutiful niece going so far as to make a quilt for her uncle when he requests a specific pattern. When her uncle dies, she learns that Jacob was an abolitionist and his Sugar Camp was a stop on the Underground Railroad. Dorothea and her parents vow to continue Jacob's work knowing if they are caught, they could lose the farm and go to jail. Once her beau Cyrus Pearson learns that Dorothea didn't inherit anything from her uncle he drops her and becomes engaged to another woman. When slave catchers threaten Dorothea and the slaves she is helping to free, she turns to her nemesis Thomas Nelson for aid and learns that love can creep up on a person. Jennifer Chiaverini captures the ambience of Pennsylvania in the years prior to the Civil War. Readers learn the fears and anxiety of the conductors of the Underground Railroad feel as they try to outwit slave catchers and those who help them for bounty. Dorothea is a brave and realistic heroine who along with her family needs to star in future historicals.

Hyperlinkz Book 5: Hack Attack
Robert Elmer
ISBN: 1578567513 $5.99, 128 pp.

In Normal, Illinois, siblings Austin and Ashley use his digital camera to actually visit Internet sites. Currently they are in Italy as Mt. Vesuvius is about to erupt. They get back from their adventure, but two things different occurred than from their previous web treks. For the first time they brought something back from the Internet dimension to their world: volcanic dust and Ashley insists she saw Austin playing when they needed to leave while he insists he was not fooling around. Someone wearing the identical clothing as Austin has on and looking like his twin is destroying the Dr. King exhibit with graffiti. Austin tries to stop the kid, but instead the janitor catches him. He is suspended. Ashley believes that someone else has that unique access to the Internet they have and is using it to get her brother in trouble. With the help of her Aunt Jessi, who is her age, and other friends, Ashley sets a trap to catch the real culprit. The Hyperlinkz novels are exciting and insightful tales that take pre-teens a on a wonderful journey of web sites while also providing tips for safe use by children on the Internet highway. The fifth book provides tours of Mt. St. Helen, the moon IO and Vesuvius amongst other fascinating stops, but all that is rolled into an action-packed preteen thriller. HACK ATTACK is fun, imaginative and entertaining.

Whence Came a Prince
Liz Curtis Higgs
ISBN: 1578561280 $11.99

In 1790 Scotland Leana McBride is coming home to Auchengray although she knows her father will not welcome her, only dictate her behavior. Still she has no options. Jamie McKie who sired her son Ian is married to her sister Rose and together they are raising her child. Jamie also wants to return home to the Lowlands with his wife Rose, who is pregnant with their child. He loves his spouse but also cherishes her sister who he ruined. Jamie worries about Leana's reception and wonders if his brother still hates him enough to kill him. As the trio faces obstacles that would task Job, Leana turns to God for comfort and to learn how to forgive her sister and her former lover. While she begins to find solace in the Lord and turning the other cheek, her two compatriots struggle to follow in her example in spite of having each other. This inspirational Scottish historical tale works because the key cast seems genuine especially in their relationships with one another and with the Lord. Leana is heroic as she struggles to overcome her malice towards her sister for betraying her and other obstacles that would make a lesser soul give up. Rose is a much more complex person having obtained her desire yet feeling regret for having done so. Jamie is a terrific individual as he cares deeply for the siblings knowing he caused much of the conflicts within his family and the McBride's. Fans of deep motivating historical tales with a powerful religious message of finding God for comfort will appreciate Liz Curtis Higgs' strong novel.

Empire Rising
Thomas Kelly
ISBN: 0374147817 $25.00

On St. Patrick's Day 1930, construction is to begin on the Empire State Building in spite of the nation struggling with the Great Depression. As with anything in the city that matters, the world's planned for the highest structure, though not a brick has been laid yet, already has a history. Bribes, extortion and kickback to grease unions and industry cooperation and to obtain political acceptance as high as the mayor's office and some say Albany and DC has been the norm. Mayor Jimmy Walker understands best the importance of the construction of the Empire State Building as he is a magician able to turn a hand shake into "honest graft". Al Smith is in charge of the construction because a politician needs to be in charge. In this city where many starve, jobs count whether you are former IRA terrorist turned ironworker like Michael Briody, illegal bankdrop artist Grace Masterson, or the Deputy Commissioner of Buildings Johnny Farrell, the building means money and political careers can fall off the observation walk or vanish into a crater if one betrays the bosses who run the island. This is an interesting period piece that makes readers think about legal contributions that both parties receive today (who attended those inauguration balls anyway?) though the parallel is not totally fair as the 1930 payouts were illegal. The lead character is the Empire State Building, who even today though no longer the highest structure still holds a grip on people; though one must wonder if the previous champ the Chrysler Building did likewise for our grandparents? The prime story line centers on the building's construction fueled by a city of graft and bribery providing a fascinating look at the underbelly of the politico-capitalist complex.

Jonathan Rabb
ISBN: 1400049210 $24.95

In the Berlin area in 1918 four homicides of middle-aged women with a signature design etched onto their backs have the criminal police baffled by what appears to be a German Ripper. Heading the investigation Detective Inspector Nikolai Hoffner sees the pattern, but as tells his trainee Hans Fichte, they have plenty of clues that go nowhere. In other words they have made no progress as the new year begins. In mid January a fifth victim is found in a subway station. At the morgue, Nikolai is shown the sixth woman, Rosa Luxemburg, the "Devil Jewess" Socialist Democrat who was involved in the recent failed revolution. However, Nikolai quickly sees the signature on Rosa's back differs slightly from the five other dead women. Before he can delve deeper into his theory that the serial killer is being used to cover the Rosa murder by someone else, the political police arrive to take over at least that element of the case. In spite of friends, family, and colleagues telling him to back away, Nikolai makes inquiries into his two cases, but especially Rosa who takes over his life. ROSA is an intriguing historical police procedural that at times does get bogged down in Nikolai's Laura-like obsession, but that also provides the motive for him to continue seeking the truth. Most interesting character is Rosa, a real person, whose attitudes, life and death provide a pre-Nazi look at the roots of anti-Semitism; this gives the fine police story a stronger historical perspective than most sub-genre novels contains. Readers will appreciate this deep look at post World War I Berlin mostly from the eyes of a caring honest cop.

Night Bites
Nina Bangs
Love Spell
ISBN: 050552614X $6.99

Whenever Cindy Harper felt stressed out, she turns to ice cream which helps sooth her especially with the strange requests of her guests who stay at her New Jersey Woo Woo Inn, the center of weirdness. However, the stress that Thrain Davis brings to her cannot be cured by a sweet cold treat. Thrain's best friend, Cindy's father; asked him to help his daughter believe that seven hundred years old like she is and having customers who are vampires, deities, and other paranormal ilk is real albeit abnormal. Even Thrain has a special bite to him, which frightens Cindy when she realizes he is a vampire. As Thrain falls in love with his host, she reciprocates, but fears his blood sucking nocturnal needs. Demonic feline visitors Sparkle Stardust and Ganymede "Mede" are guests at the inn doing what they do best, interfering with the natural order of things so that chaos reigns. As Thrain makes progress and Cindy starts to become comfortable with her beloved and with other revelations, the cosmic troublemaking duet strike. Nina Bangs is a master of blending ecstasy and humor within a romantic fantasy. The jocular story line is fast-paced as the way out cast makes for a delightful time for the audience. Thrain is a sensual sensitive vampire who feels guilt and a sense of betrayal by falling in love with the daughter of his best friend who he is supposed to help regain her footing. The inn is a terrific locale as the paranormal check in, check out, and sometimes in between. The bonus of the dynamic troublemaking duet of Sparkle and Mede add plenty of laughs. Fans will appreciate Ms. Bangs' lighthearted supernatural fantasy.

To Kiss a Frog
Elle James
Love Spell
ISBN 0505526204 $5.99

The Voodoo Queen warned playboy attorney Craig Thibodeaux not to play with the affections of her granddaughter or else she will curse him. When Craig rejected the granddaughter, the Voodoo Queen declared he did not know love so she hexed him. Craig will be a Frog during the day and a man at night, but if he fails to find his true love by the next full moon, he will turn into an amphibian permanently. Craig initially scoffed at the curse until he finds that flies are a delicacy. He realizes that the clock is short and needs to find someone to love him. His only hope is environmental research scientist Elaine Smith, who is in the Bayou studying pollution. Craig manages to get the job of her guide, but soon becomes her protector as someone wants the professor stopped before she learns who the prime source of the Bayou pollutants are. Craig has fallen in love, but the curse requires the woman to love him and what intelligent person would want a pond frond as a home. This fairy tale romance, the winner of a Golden Heart award, is a fine story that readers will enjoy because of the lead male's inadequacies as a hero. Craig is more frog than lion yet courageously will risk his life to keep Elaine safe; sort of mindful of the hero in My Demon Lover. Elle James provides a wonderful fantasy romantic suspense with two delightful lead protagonists, an intriguing Voodoo Queen, and some baddies to round out a fine novel.

Sympathy Between Humans
Jodi Compton
ISBN: 0385337140 $22.00

The victim was low life Royce Stewart who got away with the rape and murder of Kamareia, the daughter of a Hennepin County, Minnesota sheriff officer, on a technicality. Seven months later Royce was found murdered. The case was not solved although Detective Sarah Pribek knows who the killer is. Most suspect either Sarah did it for her former partner, Kamareia's mother or Sarah's former spouse ex Minneapolis detective Shiloh did it. Sarah knows if she admits the truth she can be held for obstruction of justice, but though there is heightened interest thanks to the media and a glory hound DA, Sarah heeds the plea of teenage Marlinchen Hennessy, daughter of a famous novelist, whose twin brother Aidan has been missing for five years, but ignored by police. Though not her case, the background information feels close to home so Sarah does some preliminary inquiries and quickly learns that Marlinchen has hidden much of what she knows about her sibling's disappearance. She soon finds herself into the middle of a dangerous dysfunctional family powder keg that she could end up being the igniting factor. SYMPATHY BETWEEN HUMANS is a strong police procedural that brings home the message that justice is neither simple nor blind. The story line works on two levels with questions about the Stewart murder lingering in the background while supporting the prime efforts of Sarah to learn what happened to Aidan. Sarah is a terrific heroine planning not to implicate anyone in Royce's death though her peers figure she provided the blue revenge. Jodi Compton writes a strong thriller that will send readers seeking Sarah's previous appearance (see 37th HOUR).

Simply Unforgettable
Mary Balogh
ISBN: 0385338228 $22.00, 352 pp.

Frances Allard travels from Miss Martin's School for Girls in Bath to spend the Christmas holidays with her beloved great-aunts in Mickledean. However a rare holiday snowstorm strikes; while her coach crawls, Viscount Lucius Marshall goes full speed cuasing a near accident. Her coach is stuck in the drifts and though she the tortoise and he the hare argue he takes her to a nearby inn. Shockingly they share an incredible night of passion. In the morning light, Frances knows he is way above her station and besides even if she was not her past makes her unsuitable for him; she must move on, but she will never forget the greatest night of her life. Lucius refuses to take no for an answer as he realizes that he has found his soulmate although she is far from the perfect wife, love makes her even better suited for him, but he must persuade her one kiss at a time. The opening of the "Simply" delightful Regency series is a reason to rejoice as the great Mary Balogh starts off with a terrific tale of two individuals who by Ton standards could never be together except as his mistress. The story line is character driven as the determined male protagonist knows what his perfect spouse should be, but his ideal wife will share one trait with him: love. Anything less is unacceptable. Frances is his wonderful counterpart who rejects him out of her love for him. The secondary cast adds depth and humor while also deftly introducing us fans to future lead characters. This is no slightly diverging novel as sub-genre readers will simply treasure this unforgettable romance.

Rupert Holmes
Random House
ISBN: 140006158X $24.95, 372 pp.

In 1940 Ray Sherwood is touring as a sax player with the Jack Donovan Orchestra, a big band group working the West Coast presently performing in Berkley. Composer Gail Prentice, a college student at Berkeley, invites Ray, a talented arranger, to discuss his orchestrating her work, Swing Around the Sun, which is to premier shortly at the Golden gate World Fare. As they talk on Treasure Island, Sherwood watches a Frenchwoman jump from the Tower of the Sun exposition to her death. Stunned by what he witnessed, Sherwood is shocked by the attraction he feels to the Berkeley coed although he knows his ex-wife works nearby serving as a cold reminder of happier times. Though he feels something is not right with Gail or with the suicide, Ray blindly continues the path he is on . He remaining unaware of the major link that turns recent incidents into one great composition; The Big Event, coming next year will explain all, but may be too late for him as he could be the next suicide victim. SWING is a more a historical musical tale than a pre World War II suspense thriller; the sinister mystery elements feel more like a coda to the deep look at 1940 America. The story line is a terrific look at San Francisco just prior to the war, but also insight into the music of the era; in fact part of the charm, some might say gimmick, is that award winning composer Rupert Homes has includes a CD that provides period piece music that enhances the tale. A different unique type of thriller, fans of the Big Band era will swing with Mr. Holmes' fine composition.

Karin Lowachee
Aspect (Warner)
ISBN 0446615080 $6.99, 448 pp.

When Yuri was four years old, the aliens who were at war with humanity, raided Plymouth Moon killing many colonists, and injuring a lot more. The survivors were relocated to the planet Grace, a half terraformed rock that was low on the basic things of life; food ,shelter and medicine. During the evacuation Yuri, his father and his siblings were separated from his mother and sister who were taken to another camp and it looked like the family would never be reunited. One day a visitor Bo-Sheng arrived on Grace and recruited Yuri to work on a merchant ship. When he signed up and was brought aboard, he learned he was on a pirate ship and he was Captain Falcone's new protegee. During his years on the ship he learned to be a geisha who spied on the competition, a killer and eventually a captain on his own ship. He was eventually captured by Black Ops and made a deal with them but when you deal with the devil, a heavy price is paid as Yuri learns to his cost. CAGEBIRD is not for the faint of heart. There are graphic scenes of violence and training to be a geisha, which includes explicit scenes of same sex and male-female sex. Making love is not a pleasure in this book but a tool that pirates use to disarm the enemy, get information and recruit young blood. Yuri never had a chance to be a child and when he is finally caught by the authorities, they want him to pimp for their cause. Karin Lowachee provides a thought provoking science fiction thriller that applies to the world today.

Mystic Quest
Tracy & Laura Hickman
ISBN 0446531065 $24.95, 453 pp.

Three different dimensions, three different worlds all linked so that the fate of one is the fate of all. It is twenty-three years since the events of Mystic Warrior took place and the sons and daughters get out on their own adventures, hoping to find salvation and a place to call home. The dragons on the human world are not just killing the mystics but are after the priests who worship them and the peasants who have no say in what the leaders do. Galen's son and his priest half brother are moving south to the lost city of Calgandria if they can find it. The mystics will have a homeland free of persecution but the two brothers have opposing goals on the quest and once it is completed a choice that will mean life or death for humanity will be made. On the goblin world, King Mimic and the wizard Thux share a dream in which the wizard goes south to the ogre city to find out the relationships between the titans (robots) and the books that make them work. His wife is held hostage to control him, but when he finds a library full of books, he wants Mimic's plan to fail while the ogre king believe that his side will prevail. In the world of faery, the Kree are going to see if there is a chance they can return to their homeland after the catastrophe destroyed their city. A representative of each of the domains in fairy accompanies the Kree on their expedition. However, a traitor is among them with plans that do not include the Kree or faery; it is up to a deposed princess to stop the villain from carrying out his diabolical plan. Three different worlds, three heroes who all have dreams to go south and a magical artifact is the deciding factor on the success or failure of the missions that demonstrates that these worlds are definitely linked. Tracey and Laura Hickman have written an enthralling fantasy novel with plenty of action and fully developed characters. MYSTIC QUEST is fantasy at its very best.

The President's Assassin
Brian Haig
ISBN: 0446576670 $25.95

In exile to the CIA's Office of Special Projects, Army JAG Major Sean Drummond is escorted by FBI Agent Jennifer Margold to a Virginia crime scene where six corpses are located. Considering that the house is impenetrable with cameras and radar detectors outside and agents inside, no one knows how the killer breached the premises. That is no one until Sean explains the most likely method that led to the assassination of the White House Chief of Staff Terry Belknap, his wife, and their four secret service bodyguards. The message left behind is " the president will be history in the next two days". Though he wants out because he knows what will hit the bureaucratic fan, Sean wonders if the mass murders are linked to the $100 million bounty offered for killing the president? Soon a Supreme Court Justice and the Republican National Committee chairman are killed too. Drummond concludes that a mole inside the inner circle of security is giving away information. He must remove the mole before he can stop the killing machine, but has only one day left. In his fifth appearance, Drummond is at his wisecracking best because he has the perfect straight man (make that woman) the tight Margold as his sidekick. Sean is stupendous as he cannot sit idly quiet even when it is his in his best interests while working for the civilians. The story line is terrific, perhaps the best of a strong series as Brian Haig provides a fabulous political investigative thriller that grips the audience from the moment Sean opens his mouth in the affluent Virginia suburbs and never slows down until he gets the final word in.

Lords of Grass and Thunder
Curt Benjamin
ISBN 0756401976 $24.95, 464 pp.

After defeating the enemies of the Cloud Country, Count Mergen Khan and his heir Prince Tayyichiut head euphorically home. The Prince was a hero who played a major role in the triumph. His uncle is only waiting for his nephew to gain more experience before he turns the power over to him. Mergen's son Qutvla not officially reorganized as his child wants to be the khan instead of Prince Tayy. The snake demon who killed Tayy's parents weaves a spell over Qutula to kill Tayy and his father, and marry her so she can be the Khan's wife until she kills him and rules in her own right. Tayy's one hope is the shaman in training Eluneke who is learning how to use her power and is determined to save her beloved future husband (she saw that in a vision) from death from those he trusts. It will take a lot of power for an untried shaman to go against a demon and her consort but go against them she will in order to save her beloved prince. This novel takes place in the same universe as the SEVEN BROTHERS where Tayy was a hero. In LORDS OF GRASS AND THUNDER he comes home an idol but almost immediately he is trapped by court intrigue, serpent demons bent on conquest and the love of a shaman who has much to learn about the use of her powers. His cousin envies Prince Tayy; so out of jealously of his power and the love his father has for him, starts planning to bring him down Curt Benjamin has written an exciting and enthralling stand alone book that readers will enjoy immensely.

Guardian of the Freedom
Irene Radford
ISBN 075640178X $24.95, 544 pp.

Since the time of Merlin, the Pendragons have been charged with keeping Britain safe from her enemies. Drake Pendragon is the present head of the family and the society of magical practitioners; however King George III, unfamiliar with the British heritage, does not believe in the power of the Pendragon. Drake's sister Georgina, unwilling to stay a helpless female, runs away and hires herself as a mercenary to England's enemies. Her brother suffers from ill health and relies on his distant cousin Dr. Millen Marlowe who has the ear of the king. Marlowe wants to bring his eldest who was killed in the colonies back to life but to do that he must enter the archives that are heavily guarded by wards. Another son Barclay, a soldier in King George's army in the New World, has summoned a demon to cause chaos; when the time is right, he will grab he power his father covets. Georgina fights for the rights of the people who choke under English rule while across the sea; her cousin Emily does her best to keep Marlowe and his minions in check. A magical battle looms and if the forces of good lose, England will dissolve into chaos. The fifth book in Merlin's Descendants retains the freshness and excitement as the previous books contained. Georgina would be more at home in the twenty-first century with her ideas of women's rights but her love for the mortal Major Roderick Whythe keeps her grounded and happy and he is wise enough to give her the freedom she needs. Irene Radford uses actual historical events and intertwines then with the Pendragon magic to create a fascinating and riveting tale.

Mr. Lucky
James Swain
ISBN: 0345475445 $19.95

When a fire breaks out in the Riverboat Casino, small time gambler Ricky Smith jumps from his burning balcony into a pool. A few minutes later without a look back he enters the Mint. He borrows twenty bucks; Smith starts at blackjack, turns to roulette and dice before completing his incredible run by wiping out poker expert Tex Snyder. In a short period, Smith went from loser to millionaire never losing a hand at any of the games he played. The Vegas Nevada Gaming Control Board wants Tony Valentine, head of Grift Sense, to figure out how Smith accomplished this incredible run. Tony wants to refuse the assignment, but when the consortium adds the wiping out his wastrel son's debts, he agrees only for the sake of his daughter in-law and granddaughter. Smith is back in North Carolina, but the streak continues with a lottery win. Tony struggles to debunk MR. LUCKY as no pattern except the wins emerge. In his latest grift tale, James Swain provides a delightful wild gambling tale that also provides a cautionary waning to those hooked by the glitter of internet and televised poker. Tony is terrific as he cannot find how Smith can win at seemingly random events like a lottery. Wild and zany, MR. LUCKY is a terrific royal flush thriller.

The Alpine Quilt
Mary Daheim
ISBN 0345477200 $22.95, 314 pp.

Alpine, is a small semi-isolated Pacific Northwest hamlet located deep in the forest and perched on a mountainside. The owner and publisher of the local weekly newspaper, The Alpine Advocate is Emma Lord and the stories concern mostly the people and the special events in their lives. Emma plans special coverage for the returning prodigal Genevieve Bayard who hasn't been back to her hometown in decades. Gen is coming to see her son Buddy and his wife as well as her old girlfriends who belonged to a quilting circle. After a celebratory party, Gen goes to visit her best friend Annie Jean who works as a housekeeper at the local church. Annie Jean fixes a delicious meal but by the time it is finished Gen is dead and Annie Jean is in the hospital. Tests show both women were poisoned by an insulin product used by diabetics. It is a front page story but Emma's House and Home reporter Vida Runkel who usually gets involved in homicides keeps her distance and makes it plain that she doesn't care that Gen is dead. Emma comes to believe that if she knows why Vida hated Gen, she will discover who the murder is. THE ALPINE QUILT is an exciting and complicated who-done-it with the protagonist determined to find out who the poisoner is. During her investigation readers are treated to an insider's look at Vida's past, which is very fascinating because she has always been an important secondary character. Mary Daheim combines lots of action with great characterizations to create a fantastic regional mystery.

The Diva's Guide to Selling Your Soul
Kathleen O'Reilly
Downtown (Pocket)
ISBN: 0743499409 $13.00, 384 pp.

In Manhattan, V is struggling to make it as a designer until she meets New York Post gossip columnist Lucy. In exchange for her soul, Lucy, who happens to be the devil, offers fame and fortune, which V gladly accepts thinking what the hell is a soul - that's later in life, make that death. Soon V becomes a member of the Life Enrichment Program; this has led to a successful Fifth Avenue store that only the rich frequent as the prices are exorbitant though everything sells. However that is not where the fortune and good luck are; every soul she brings into the Life Enrichment Program means a cut of their action. The only commandment is no good deeds; if one does a good deed even inadvertently, one faces the worst punishments like an inch or more to the thighs while you were sleeping. Faust relocated into chick lit heaven (make that hell) as Kathleen O'Reilly writes a creative modern day take on the legendary sell your soul theme. Fans will appreciate the devil's clever pyramid scheme and enjoy the antics of the lead couple, the devil and Ms. V. The story line is amusing with a fine message of materialism is not enough in life, but late in the novel key characters behave out of synch. Still THE DIVA'S GUIDE TO SELLING YOUR SOUL is an intriguing modern day cautionary chick lit tale.

Irish Girls Are Back In Town
ISBN: 0743499263 $13.00, 384 pp.

The fourth edition of this annual anthology that raises money for charity is surprisingly different in tone than the previous "Girls in Town" collections as these contributions are much darker than the previous Irish, American and Scottish romps. The tales are for the most part well written though some chick lit quirky twists in a few stories seem out of place. Overall the contributions appear more realistic yet paradoxically in many cases the lead male comes across acrimoniously nasty hiding behind the veneer of keeping women safe from themselves. Not for everyone, generally IRISH GIRLS ARE BACK IN TOWN is a solid at times amusing but also at other moments cynically depressing look at relationships in which misery loves miserable company as seen by nineteen female Irish authors including strong entries by Patricia Scanlan, Cecilia Ahern and especially Clare Dowling.

Open Channel
Jill Morrow
ISBN 0743486277 $7.50, 404 pp.

Once before Katerina Pirelli and her husband Stephen Carmichael fought the demon Asteroth and while they thought they were finished with him, he was not through with them. He tried to break them up so the prophesized Child of Light will not be born but Kat and Stephen now have two daughters Julia and Kent. Her parents don't know it yet but Julia is having dreams and visions of fourteenth century England. Kat's Aunt Francesca has come home from touring Europe and tells them Asteroth is back. He is in the fourteenth century using the dead body of a man named Hugh and he is trying to get Isabel of the nearby convent to pledge her fealty to him so he can use her as a conduit to return to the twenty-first century. Francesca travels to where Asteroth is as does Kat, Julia, and Stephen who hopes to bring them all home but Julia's doubts weaken the light;. Julia fear causes one of them to make the ultimate sacrifice. OPEN CHANNEL continues the story in ANGEL CAFE where good and evil fight on different sides for the child of light. Angels help the soul travelers but it is Francesca whose total belief and faith in her spirit gives her the confidence to strengthen her loved ones in the latest battle with the demon. Kat, the most pragmatic person of the group, finally sees with the spirit eyes and knows that she has the power to save her daughter because she now has a strong belief in the light. Jill Morrow has written a beautiful inspirational tale of good triumphing over evil because one is so much stronger than the other when you believe.

Pretty Woman
Fern Michaels
ISBN: 0743457811 $24.00, 320 pp.

In Savannah, Georgia Vickie Williams warned her best friend and business partner Rosie Gardener not to marry the philandering Kent Bliss. Vickie accuses her size 6 friend of jealousy because a size 14 like her could have such a fiance. Rosie accepts a job as companion to elderly Adeline Summers and leaves for Europe. Three years later Rosie is miserable as Kent treats her like dirt except for short moments when she buys him expensive presents. She asks him to be home for their anniversary dinner, but he gives her a lame excuse. Rosie has had it with Kent. She takes his name off of everything and when he finally comes home she kicks him out. Rosie is beginning to regain her self esteem when she runs into Vickie, who is back in town following the death of Adeline. They hug and pick up the friendship as if nothing happened. Meanwhile Rosie obtains a physical fitness trainer widow Jack Silver and has won the three hundred plus million dollar lottery, but refuses to acknowledge her victory if Kent gets even a cent. Kent knows she won and plans to take it all. Though Rosie makes the weight loss seem too easy (the easy is putting it on), fans will enjoy her retaking control of her life with the help of friends. Rosie is the focus of the story line as she gains courage to finally confront her errors. Although Kent is unhinged when he blames her for his total fall from grace, contemporary fans will enjoy seeing him receive his comeuppance even if the story line seems too simplistic.

The Martian War: A Thrilling Eyewitness Account of the Recent Alien Invasion As Reported By Mr. H.G. Wells
Gabriel Mesta
ISBN: 0743446399 $23.00, 272 pp.

In 1894 at London's Normal School of Science elderly biology Professor T.H. Huxley and his young protege H.G. Wells observe a meteor shower with plenty of enthusiasm. While watching the heavenly display they discuss life on other worlds specifically arid colder Mars leading Huxley to conclude with a "war of the worlds" comment. Huxley decides that Wells has the needed intelligence and imagination to accept that live Martians are on the red planet. He introduces his student and Wells wife Amy Catherine ("Jane") Robbins to the wonders of the Britain's Imperial Institute, where he meets Dr. Hawley Griffin working on invisibility, Dr. Moreau and astronomer Percival Lowell who have sent a message to Mars. However, Wells, Jane and Huxley are accidentally propelled into space where they meet the Martians and learn how the hive-mind Selenites were enslaved. On Mars, the three earthlings cause a Selenite revolt and unleash disease on the water system of the drying out fourth planet from the sun. Desperate for water, the Martians turn to that plentiful third rock for the War of the Worlds seem eminent. This is a terrific homage to H.G. Wells as well as the late Victorian scientific and technical community whose advances laid much of the foundation of the twentieth century. The story line cleverly blends real historical figures like Huxley, Wells, and Lowell with literary characters like Griffin and Moreau. The tale is fast-paced and action packed yet the key players feel three dimensional especially the Martian leader. Fans will enjoy this strong historical science fiction novel while concluding somehow Gabriel Mesta will contact Orson Welles to simulcast the story over the Internet.

One Way Out
Michele Albert
ISBN: 0743485025 $6.99, 384 pp.

Their first clash occurred five years ago and every time they meet they argue. Paleontologist Professor Dr. Alex Martinelli detests commercial collector Cassie Ashton because she buys and sells fossils in the market place. He thinks of her as the E-Bay of the dinosaur crowd. Deep inside he envies her uncanny skills in somehow locating dinosaur bones, but he would never admit that to anyone. She enjoys their legendary confrontations in a perverse manner so she always makes them worse than they have to be. This time she has a find that she wants only Alex to know of and to confirm what she thinks may be an intact infant T-Rex. This would be the mother lode so Alex agrees to take a look. Alex and Cassie work out a deal; she takes him to the spot where he sees nirvana as he affirms the find. However, someone steals "Trixie" and the two partners initially suspect the other of a double cross, but quickly realize a third party is involved. As they conclude that their years of heated bickering were a courtship, the in love partners pursue the kidnapped Trixie. This exciting romantic suspense novel stars two scuffling dinosaur experts whose exchanges make for a fine tale. The story line is action-packed, but belongs to the battling bone hunters whose wars are as legendary as their finds (think of INDIANA JONES AND THE RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK when Jones meets Marion Ravenwood in her remote bar). As the two near fortyish couple (she has a teenage son) tries for a cease fire, they soon are jumping each others bones. Michele Albert provides a fine exhilarating way out tale of love amongst the dinosaur remains.

The Point in the Market
Michael Pearce
Poisoned Pen
ISBN: 1590581377 $24.95, 212 pp.

The British presence in Egypt has in fact ruled the country, but not in name until now; with World War I raging on two continents, Egypt has become a protectorate of the British Empire. The Khedive has been ousted and replaced by a sultan who answers to the British. Captain Gareth Owen, the Mamur Zapt (head of the secret police) has enough work to keep a dozen people busy. One of his spies Sabri was murdered; the inquiry has led Gareth to believe the man had information to sell to him. Owen married his lover, the Pasha's daughter Zeinab, who is ostracized by her former friends for entangling herself with the Welsh expatriate. A number of fires in liquor houses have swept through the city and Owen learns that it is not the heat or the arid conditions that are the cause but a person and Owen wants to apprehend him before a tragedy engulfs the entire area. The Egyptians await an attack of the Turks so that they can align with the victors. With all this and more going on, Owen remains steadfast that justice will prevail for Sabri and comes up with an ingenious plan to achieve his goal. The fifteenth Mamur Zapt historical mystery retains the uniqueness, excitement and freshness that are the character traits of all the novels in this exciting series. Zeinab is a "modern" woman who demands freedom to make choices while Owen is a mother hen worried that his beloved might be hurt by those who scorn her marriage by an Englishman. They make quite a couple. The Egyptian culture during World War I is exquisitely detailed as if Michael Peace was there. All this wealth of information is adroitly used to enhance the who-done-it so that fans of historical novels and those of historical mysteries receive quite a treat.

Carnosaur Crimes
Christine Gentry
Poisoned Pen
ISBN: 1590581504 $24.95, 330 pp.

The stealing of fossils including dinosaur tracks is a lucrative business so there are as many poachers as paleontologists. Something went wrong for one poacher when an explosion killed him near the Big Toe Museum in Montana. DA panicked curator Dr. Cameron Dieselmore informs paleoartist Ansel Phoenix that her allosaurus replica killed someone as part of the victim resides as a burned husk dangling from the teeth of her model. Ansel arrives at the crime scene only to find law enforcement arguing jurisdiction between the Big Toe police, LaCrosse County sheriff, the state, the FBI and the Bureau of Land and mines. Not long afterward, FBI Agent Outerbridge asks Ansel for help in capturing poachers who devastated a major find because she being half-Indian might provide access that he cannot achieve. Reluctantly she agrees because she fears the BLM will shut the Big Toe Museum that is on federal land and move the find to a California think tank. Ansel may have reconsidered her acquiescing if she knew that the allosaurus victim was murdered and that Police Chief Flynn has been killed too. CARNOSAUR CRIMES, the sequel to the pleasant MESOZOIC MURDER, is a fine amateur sleuth tale with plenty of police procedural elements to make for a wonderful investigative tale. The story line hooks the audience from the moment that Dr. Dieselmore calls Ansel and never lets up until the final confrontation. Ansel is a terrific center keeping the plot moving while the deadly dinosaur hunting and the competition between the various law enforcement agencies makes the mystery realistic and much more entertaining.

Against the Tide
John Ringo
ISBN: 0743498844 $25.00, 402 pp.

In the distant future, the United Free States felt safe inside its paradise. The UFS avoided war for centuries but spent a fortune on a military deterrent leading to a collective national ego believing that the country had military superiority over everyone. Thus a terrible defeat at sea to the tyrannical enemy New Destiny is a major shock though it should not have been since the UFS was using untrained dragons with sportsmen on a lark against skilled Dragon Carriers. The New Destiny invading force contained more than just Dragon Carrier superiority; other legendary warriors out of myth attacked a shocked nation turning it from a place of waste and plenty to a place of starvation and waste. Desperate to stem a tide that seems heading to certain defeat, the UFS names military genius Edmund Talbot to head the Navy. Stomping on Naval egos (not that defeat to the enemy would ever do that), foot soldier Herzer Herrick is selected to command a critical Dragon Fleet consisting of inexperienced dragons, untrained pilots, and unqualified combat support to go up against a superior in number, highly skilled war tested military machine. This novel is a sequel to THERE WILL BE DRAGONS and EMERALD SEA. AGAINST THE TIDE is military science fiction tale (with fantasy elements) that is well written and the plot can stand alone or follow the previous well written tales. The strong story line hooks the audience with plenty of action (much more than described above), terrific characters including a neat romance, and a fascinating differing historical perspective on real events. John Ringo provides a fantastic tale that will elate sub-genre readers, but also fascinate historiographers with the thought provoking look at history.

Evil Intentions
Denise Osborne
Perseverance Press
ISBN: 1880284774 $13.95, 192 pp.

Salome Waterhouse is a Feng Shui practitioner with some of her clients being Georgetown's wealthiest and most powerful residents. June McGann hires Salome's friend Germaine Brilliante to follow her sister April for two weeks and report to her everything her sibling does. On the fourteenth day, April enters Black Friar's Books followed by Germaine, but once inside the latter realizes that her target is gone; the owner offers nothing. A few days later, the police raid the bookstore breaking up a gambling ring; however that does not interest June as she fears her sister is seeing Duncan Mah again. He brings illegal aliens into the country for an exorbitant fee and work off their entry price as indentured servants. An arsonist targets Salome's house and she fears that Mah is behind the incident since she forced him underground last year. Her ex-husband finds the murdered body of a Chinese worker who has a link to mah and therefore Salome as well. Salome knows the danger that stalks her while she investigates Mah's whereabouts. Denise Osborne has written a fast-paced character driven amateur sleuth mystery that will fascinate readers with its insightful look at Feng Shui. Salome is offbeat and charming who in spite of the danger goes after an evil man to bring him to justice. Her reconciliation with her former spouse adds flavoring to a finely crafted mystery.

Face Down Below the Banqueting House
Kelly Lynn Emerson
Perseverance Press
P.O. Box 2790, McKinleyville, CA 95519
ISBN: 1880284715 $13.95, 246 pp.

In Greenwich Castle in 1573, Lady Appleton's housekeeper Jennet Jeffries watches in horror as her sister-in-law Sarah takes a jewel from the pocket of her mistress Jeronyyme Hole. Sarah explains that Jeronyme steals things from members of the court that Sarah tries to quietly return. This jewel belongs to Elizabeth I and Sarah is stymied as to how stealthily to return it.Sarah dumps the jewel on Jennet and she gives it to the queen with an explantion. She ells her who she works for and shortly thereafter the queen decides to makes a summer pilgrimage and plans to stay at Susanna's manor as one of her stops. Susanna is less than thrilled with the regal visit as she must get her estate ready which entails plenty of hard work and incredible costs. She also hates working with Brian Tymber, who insures that the Queen is comfortable at any of her respites. Brian and his servant Miles threaten to reveal information that locals want kept secret. However, instead of extortion money, someone kills Miles though most people including Susanna's magistrate lover Nick says it is an accident. When Nick's servant dies, he and Susanna conclude murder and search for a killer. Although it has been way too long between Lady Appleton novels, this is one of the best of the long running enthralling Elizabethan mystery series. The audience obtains a first hand seat into a meticulously researched tale in which blackmail and murder occur, but who the killer is remains just out of sight until the climax. Kelly Lynn Emerson's historical descriptions surfaces throughout the tale, but especially when watching the manor prepare for a royal visit (reminds me of when my beloved late mother-in-law would be arriving to see her grandson). Amateur sleuth history fans will appreciate this fine tale.

Exile's Return
Raymond E. Feist
ISBN: 0380977109 $25.95, 384 pp.

Once the mighty Duke of Olasko, nomads have now captured the magically exiled Kaspar halfway around the world. The deposed evil aristocrat ultimately escapes his bondage and is obsessed with avenging his defeat and ignominious deportation. Eventually he meets traders who possess a suit of armor containing a malevolence that killed part of their group. Kaspar has no plans to travel with his hosts, but like them he touched the armor and no longer is free; the wickedness inside the armor controls Kaspar though he fights it with his every breath. Kaspar learns that the armor is a weapon of mass destruction from another plane that will ultimately devastate this world if not stopped. Feeling a need to defeat an essence even wickeder than he ever was; Kaspar puts aside his thirst for vengeance to return home to confer with the Conclave of Shadows' sorcerers who expelled his wickedness across the globe. Together, if they can learn to trust one another, they must find a way to stop the armor. This is an exciting Conclave fantasy in which the villain of the first two novels returns from exile having learned the hard way during his trek and his battle with a greater evil the wickedness of his former ways. The story line is action-packed, but it is the metamorphosis of Kaspar from avenging devil to world savior that makes the tale work though the audience and the Conclave sorcerers wait for him to revert. Raymond Feist provides an entertaining tale with a fine twist that his fans will appreciate.

Singing in a Strange Land: C. L. Franklin, the Black Church, and the Transformation of America
Nick Salvatore
Little, Brown
ISBN: 0316160377 $27.95, 448 pp.

This is a refreshing well written biography that stands as a reminder that a conservative theologian can support progressive social change. Unlike much of today's moral preaching that right is right and everyone else deserves to be burned if they commit heresy like defending gay marriage or claiming that the pro-life vs. women's rights is an economic war, the Reverend C. L. Franklin supported civil and individual rights as common decency for everyone. He used a voice that Motown would have wanted to have tospread the word of freedom to his followers in Detroit and others as a leader in the Civil Rights movements of the 1950s and 1960s. Nick Salvatore using public records, family information, and interviewing older members of Reverend Franklin's New Bethel Baptist Church puts together quite a full picture especially of the pulpit over three decades just after World War II until he was shot and fell into a coma ultimately dying. Readers get a feel for inner city Detroit politics and social upheaval as a backdrop to a deep look at one of the most influential civil rights spokespersons of the era.

Savannah Secrets
Fiona Hood-Stewart
Mira (Harlequin)
ISBN: 0778321533 $6.99, 448 pp.

In Savannah, ninety-three years old Rowena Carstairs dies regretting that she never believed her daughter Isabel when she insisted she was raped by a family friend as a teen. Isabel went to Europe to give up her baby. Years later, married with a preadolescent daughter Dallas, Isabel was unable to deal with her pain and nightmare and committed suicide pleading with her mom to see that she will be avenged. Attorney Meredith Hunter is stunned when the will announces that Rowena's unheard of grandson, corporate raider James Grant Gallagher, will inherit everything; if he refuses the $100 million plus estate will go literally to the dogs. Rowena's extended family is irate while Grant's half-sister Dallas does not care except for needing money to save her horse breeding ranch. As Meredith tries to persuade Grant to do the right thing with the bequest that he does not want, he finally accepts because he is attracted to the widow with two preadolescent sons. However, he also feels Rowena is manipulating him, but trying to figure out what she wants seems impossible. This character driven contemporary tale contains a diverse solid cast in which readers can easily distinguish the different players who bring plenty to the plot. The story line grips the audience from the moment that Grant rejects Meredith's plea and never lets up until a Senate confirmation hearing. Meredith is a terrific protagonist as she struggles with understanding Rowena's will and the reaction of the presumptive heir to learning who his biological family is. Fiona Hood-Stewart provides a fine novel in which a recently decreased matriarch manipulates everyone from the grave in a last ditch Hail Mary pass to see justice is done for her daughter.

Table for Five
Susan Wiggs
ISBN: 0778321673 $19.95

In Comfort, Oregon, Laurelhurst private school third grade teacher Lily Robinson enjoys her job, likes her students, and not having any permanent emotional attachments. She holds a conference with the divorced parents of student Charlie Holloway to discuss why the little girl cannot read and how to remedy this. This teacher-parent conference is tougher than usual because the mother is her best friend Crystal and the kids call her "Aunt". The meeting fails as neither Crystal nor her ex husband PGA star Derek can get past their personal needs. After the meeting, Derek gives Crystal a ride in bad weather when her car fails to start. They argue over his sibling being banned for cheating on the Asian Tour and his upcoming nuptials to Jane Coombs. As his anger rises, Derek loses control and crashes; both die leaving Charlie, her teenage sister Cameron and her younger sibling Ashley orphaned. Derek's brother Sean becomes the guardian of his nieces, but he feels inadequate and besides he has a chance to regain the promising golf career he blew. Lily helps, but also tries to keep the quartet out of her heart. She fails and Derek finds he needs Lily and his three wards; the youngsters need the love and stability provided by both adults. TABLE FOR FIVE is an intriguing family drama starring two adults who avoid emotional responsibility and three hurting children who were devastated before the deadly car accident. While Sean and Lily carry baggage that make them both feel inept at caring for the kids, the children have woes as manifested by Charlie's reading problems even before his parents die. Susan Wiggs provides a well written four tissue box tear jerker that showcases people in trouble.

The First Mistake
Merline Lovelace
ISBN: 0778321649 $6.99, 384 pp.

Ten years at Luke AFB USAF Office of Special Investigations Special Agent Captain Cleo North made inquiries into an alleged threat made by Staff Sergeant Thomas Mitchell to his girlfriend Sergeant Debra Smith. Although she had a hunch there was more to the case, her superior pulled her off it because she found nothing out of the ordinary. Not long afterward Mitchell and Smith were found dead together in what was ruled a murder suicide. North left the air force and opened up her own personal protection firm. A few years later, Cleo accidentally meets Debra's sister who believes the air force covered up the murder as her sister feared a Greek sounding name officer. Cleo learns of retired Colonel Alexander "the Greek" Sloan, but could not do anything further. However, the opportunity eventually arrives when her former commander General Barnes needs her help at the Santa Fe Film Festival to protect spoiled film star Marisa Connors, who Cleo knows as a pit-bull with nuts caught in an animal trap; Alex heads the gala which includes a North Korean communications expert that the military wants on their side. To keep Cleo in line, Barnes assigns her former lover Major Jack Donovan. Fans of romantic suspense thrillers will enjoy Merline Lovelace's latest terrific military tale as various key players including the heroine have agendas that collide with one another. Cleo is a wonderful protagonist who still ahs deep feelings for Jack, but will not allow him, the military or the FBI/CIA consortium stand in her way of proving Alex killed the two sergeants. A final twist adds a fantastic climax to another five star triumph.

Double Exposure
Bonnie Hearn Hill
ISBN: 0778321452 $6.99, 384 pp.

While the country mourns the death of former President Michael Remington, in San Francisco Reebie Mahoney works two jobs trying to a living. She works at a cosmetics counter of a department store and as a temp at a catering service. At a gala she set up for a newspaper, Reebie gets a strange call from a woman claiming to be Jeanette Sheldon, Michael's mistress who wants to meet with her. Reebie and her friend photographer Daphne Teng visits Nora McFarland as Jeannette told her to ask for that name at her Nob Hill apartment only to find her dead. She recognizes the corpse as a woman who spent a lot of time and money with her at the cosmetics counter. Based on input from the doorman, the victim had a picture of Reebie in her home, and she was at the scene, the cops believe Reebie killed the woman. Reporter Leo Kersikowski arrives to get her away from the cops. When she is involved with a second murder and attempts on her life, Leo tries to keep her safe, help her solve the murder, and figure out the connection between the president's mistress and the woman he loves. DOUBLE EXPOSURE is an entertaining political romantic suspense thriller that grips the audience from the moment that Reebie recognizes the first victim and never slows down until the audience gets the message that the historical legacy is everything. The story line is action-packed as Reebie with Leo and the readers try to figure out what is going on and why. Bonnie Hearn Hill provides a fast-paced tale that explains presidential libraries from a different perspective.

Dinah McCall
ISBN: 0778321614 $7.50, 384 pp.

Twenty-five years ago someone kidnapped two year old Olivia Sealy after murdering the child's parents. Her grieving wealthy grandfather Marcus hears nothing after dropping off the ransom money. However, two months later, Olivia is found at a mall; the police arrest Foster Lawrence, who picked up the ransom money. He spent the next twenty-fives years behind bars, but has just been freed. In Lake Texoma, Texas retiree Marshall Baldwin works on renovating a cottage he just bought when he drops a sledge hammer on the floorboard, which leads him to a hidden suitcase. Inside is the remains of a two year child buried for twenty-five years and having the second thumb that is a genetic trademark of all Sealys. Dallas homicide detective Trey Bonney investigates the toddler murder although Olivia was his high school girlfriend who dumped him. Olivia, who had the two thumbs, turns to him to help her learn the truth as to whether she is the real granddaughter and if not who is she. Readers will ponder until the end whether Olivia or the corpse in the suitcase is Marcus' granddaughter and who the one is that is not as both have the genetic trademark though Olivia's residual thumb was surgically removed once the dominant digit was affirmed. Though the climax seems too pat, this story line combines a strong police procedural, a fine second chance romance, and an identity mystery into a powerful thriller that will garner Dinah McCall new readers.

Touching Midnight
Fiona Brand
ISBN: 0778321525 $6.99, 336 pp.

To project her from her father John Mallory and his aristocratic family, Victoria Quinton's Aunts Olivia and Hannah moved with her to a remote part of Peru as an infant following the death of their sister Rebecca. Victoria received a special education from her relatives who have advanced degrees from Oxford but they emphasized her psychic skills for medical healing as much as book learning. While her aunts run a local medical mission, Victoria enjoys archeology especially ancient writings. She dreams of the Temple of the Sun, which she believes is near. Five years later, an injured Jay Lomax comes to the medical center to heal. He feels he has known "Quin" all his life and more; she feels the same way. She heals him before he departs. Years later, he returns to her and what has always felt as home to protect the ruins of a recently discovered ancient temple city that worshiped the Sun God. At the same time Jay and Quin renew a love that began here a long time ago when the sanctity of the High Priestess and her retinue were destroyed by greed. However, an enemy is coming for them in the present to claim what could prove to be a temple of doom. TOUCHING MIDNIGHT is an exciting complex adventure romanced that runs on two prime plot lines enhanced by additional minor subplots. The story line is filled with action that never slows down past or present and a delightful courageous cast (in both eras) willing to die to do what they believe is the right thing for others. No question this romantic suspense thriller has the brand of a top author who keeps her audience riveted throughout the novel.

Single Kid Seeks Dad
Linda Randall Wisdom
Harlequin American
ISBN: 0373750633 $4.99

Thirteen-year-old Nick Donner hacks into his school's computer, which brings him in front of Judge Kincaid, who sentences the teen to community service at the animal clinic run by his son Logan. Nick deliberately caused trouble because he worries about his single overworked mom Lucy being alone except for him and feels that the veterinarian is perfect for her since he is so kind to animals. He will dowhat it takes including harmless mischief if necessary to bring this couple together. However, Nick does not understand the adults he is matching together. His mom fears allowing any male except her son inside her heart. His chosen dad rejects commitment. Still as Nick and the Judge partner, Lucy and Logan keep finding themselves together and their initial attraction is growing. Fans of sweet contemporary romances will appreciate this fine matchmaking tale starring two realistic protagonists who though attracted have doubts about relationships and a fine support cast, especially her son, his father, several animals, and out of the oven cookies. The returns of the Walkers from previous novels (see PREGNANCY COUNTDOWN) provide a sense of homecoming. However, this warm Americana relationship drama belongs to the Donner and Kincaid families.

The Prince Next Door
Sue Civil-Brown
HQN (Harlequin)
ISBN: 0373770766 $6.99

Dermatologist Serena Gregory is on vacation when he overhears the cavalier reaction of the hunk next door, Darius Maxwell whose mom has been kidnapped. Darius knows his widowed mother Maria Teresa is pulling a stunt to get him to take his rightful place as the Prince of Masolimian. He informs the abductor Pablo Minos of the Masolimian Consulate that he feels sorry for him having to deal with Maria while as for him he will deal with art. Maria Teresa is frustrated with her son who is impressed with how Serena saved the life of a lightning victim. They begin to see one another and soon Serena and Darius fall in love. Theatrics worthy of an Oscar, Maria Teresa sees the American as a pawn to manipulate her recalcitrant son to do his duty to his Duchy. However, neither mom nor her diplomatic drafted henchmen are prepared for the battling dermatologist. Maria Teresa's antics sort of like a royal Auntie Mame turn this contemporary tale into an amusing romantic farce. Serena is a wonderful heroine wondering how Darius can be so nonchalant over his mom's kidnapping; Darius is fun as the center of all the activity especially his mom using her loyal Masolimian supporters to try to get Darius to act princely. Fans will enjoy this humorous tale between the dermatologist and THE PRINCE NEXT DOOR.

Shannon Drake
ISBN: 0373770332 $7.50

Her guardian Tristan Montgomery seems to always be in trouble, but his latest stunt frightens Camille. Tristan was caught trying to steal an artifact from the "Beast", Earl Brian Stirling who wears a mask to hide his scarred visage. Camille visits Brian to get Tristan released, but the Earl refuses. He becomes upset when he learns that Camille works at the British Museum Egypt Antiquities Wing as he blames them for the deaths of his parents. Brian begins escorting Camille around town especially the museum while keeping her guardian as his "guest". As they fall in love, he still plans to use her to identify which of the museum's workers killed his parents. If he knew the risk he placed his beloved Camille in, he would never have used her to get at a killer. WICKED is an entertaining Victorian romantic suspense thriller that grips the audience the moment that Camille confronts the beast in his lair. The lead couple is a delightful pairing as she brings him back into society; however it is the support cast that makes the tale work as they either provide insight into Camille or Brian like her guardian and servant or his housekeeper does or they serve as suspects in the murder mystery. Sub-genre fans will take pleasure in this fine historical tale.

Wild Horses
Bethany Campbell
Harlequin SuperRomance
ISBN: 0373712618 $5.50, 298 pp.

The letter informs Carolyn Trent that her Uncle Enoch Randolph died in his sleep. The executor Adam Duran also said in his impersonal note that he will be arriving to handle Enoch's final wishes involving the Texas properties including the Circle T that his niece leased from him for decades. Carolyn is angry that Adam never called her to tell her Enoch died though she and her uncle rarely communicated; his choice. Even before she meets him, Circle T ranch secretary Mickey Nightingale dislikes Adam for his cavalier treatment of her boss who is more like a mother to her. Health problems drag Carolyn away from the ranch leaving it to Mick to host the barracuda. However, instead of an ambulance chaser, Adam is good with the horses and kind to people. Mick is attracted to the outsider whose claim shakes the Trent family to its roots and Mick realizes if true in some ways it makes him more an insider than she is. WILD HORSES is more a Crystal Creek family drama than a romance as the love story between Mick and Adam comes late and in the Caribbean rather than the States where most of the plot occurred. Instead the tale centers on who Adam is and why Uncle Enoch sent him to Texas. Through Adam and to a lesser degree Carolyn, readers learn more about the previous generation of Trent brothers who left Texas and never looked back. Bethany Campbell has written a fine entry that long time fans of the series will want to read for its insight into Enoch and his brother Steven, Carolyn's father.

Into Thin Air
Elizabeth Ashlee
Harlequin SuperRomance
ISBN: 0373712642 $5.50, 298 pp.

The G3 Logistics officer Captain Kelsey O'Roarke is inside an isolated warehouse on Fort Belvoir when she hears strange noises from the machinery. She investigates only to find a soldier where he should not be. As she goes to help him down, a shot is fired; the soldier falls thirty feet to the ground; his blood is everywhere. Kelsey is knocked unconscious with a blow to the head. Later that evening a bewildered Kelsey explains to Criminal Investigation Division Major Julian Fordham what happened, but no corpse or other evidence is at the crime scene. Last year Kelsey and Julian dated; the kisses were incredible, but also carried a forever stipulation that scared the CID cop away. Kelsey knows she still trusts him with her heart and soul let alone her life, so he reluctantly agrees to investigate though he expects to find nothing out of the ordinary. Neither expected what they find which places their lives in danger from killers and their hearts from one another. INTO THIN AIR is an intriguing military police romantic mystery in which readers know Kelsey witnessed a murder, but Julian firmly believes she banged her head and imagined the whole thing. The story line is fast-paced when it concentrates on the present; when the plot looks back at last year's relationship fiasco it seems out of step because Julian who has all the doubts resolves them too easily. Still following the lead couple tries to solve the military murder mystery provides a fine R&R for readers.

A Mother's Vow
K.N. Casper
Harlequin SuperRomance
ISBN: 037371260X $5.50, 296 pp.

After Kelsey read the Houston Sentinel obit on William Summers, she informs her mother, Houston Police of Chief Catherine Tanner that he was murdered. He was the one who met her dad Jordon a year ago to discuss missing Yellowcake uranium from a warehouse because the newspaper's numbers were wrong. Kelsey's comment along with the cop who headed the investigation being corrupt make Catherine wonders if Jordon's death may have been murder. If she is right than she has no idea who to trust on her force because higher ups had to be involved with the uranium depletion. Knowing she cannot do this alone, but not sure who to trust on the force, Catherine turns to former officer Jeff Rowan for help though she expects him to say no. She fired him last year for evidence tampering while the media fried him as a racist. She offers him a chance to get even on the cop who ruined him. Wanting to say no Jeff accepts Catherine the civilian as a client. Neither is prepared to where the inquiries or their hearts will take them. A MOTHER'S VOW, the sixth Women in Blue police romance, is a fabulous tale that answers many of the questions surfaced by the earlier novels, especially the first few. The story line is action-packed, but more a private investigative story than a police procedural as Jeff follows the clues including to a surprising climax. Though why Jeff instead of her five friends is not clear, readers will appreciate this fine conclusion to a strong series written by six authors who kept the quality at the top throughout.

Slow Ride
Carrie Alexander
Harlequin Blaze
ISBN: 037379178X $4.75, 250 pp.

In California, bakery owner Aurora "Rory" Constable and Tucker Shultz meet at a party. The duo is attracted to one another immediately and during a dance, he admits to "foreplay", but flees once the music stopped. Though he wants her Tucker backs off because she smells of marriage and children, relationships he is not ready for. Rory donates bakery goods to the "Lock & Key charity event that she also is a willing participant along with two close friends, Michaela Corelli (see HARD TO HANDLE by Jamie Denton) and Lauren Massey (see ON THE LOOSE by Shannon Hollis). She and Tucker win a weekend together. While he wants just a two day fling, she knows he is her forever soulmate; now she has to persuade her beloved that he will never find another Rory. The third and final "Lock and Key" torrid contemporary romance is a fine story though in some ways feels too similar to the previous tales that just came out in the last two months. Rory and Tucker are a likable couple and her explanation about Woodstock and her first name hooks the audience from the onset. Fans of the mini- series will appreciate Carrie Alexander's fine finish to a fun trilogy.

Shockingly Sensual
Lori Wilde
Harlequin Blaze
ISBN: 0373791798 $4.75, 249 pp.

Luke Cardasian spent the last six years of his life in Limbasa and much of his life before that overseas, so the liberated American media is culture shock. He came home to help his brother with the family business following his father's recent heart attack, but the Midnight Ryder show discussing erection shocks his senses, especially since the host is female. The shock jock that has stunned Luke's sense and sensibilities by giving blazing sex advice at midnight is Callie Ryder. When Callie receives threats for writing a book on her adventures as a female shock jock, her agent becomes concerned. When she is to go on tour he wants her protected so he hires the Cardasian firm to travel with her for three weeks. Luke is the only one available so he is on the road with the queen of sex talk. Neither expected these opposites to fall in love. SHOCKINGLY SENSUAL is an amusing contemporary romance between two opposites who initially repel each other, but soon cannot resist one another. The relationship between the lead couple make the tale work as she matures yet pulls out every seductive trick she knows to entice Luke to come to what he originally perceived as the dark side. Sub-genre fans will enjoy this fine humorous tale.

Falling For You
Heather Macalister
Harlequin Temptation
ISBN: 0373692145 $4.50, 216 pp.

Police spokeswoman Megan Esterbrook has never been able to say no to any request by reporter Barry Sutton even if that means her job, her reputation, and her esteem. She vows to deny his next fiasco and comes up with her "Barry aversion therapy" concept; a series of index cards highlighting how he has abused her feelings for him. Barry feels bad about getting Megan in trouble, but needs her if he is to break out of his exile to the society pages. He also realizes charm will not persuade Megan to assist him on getting a hot story involving a Congressman. He needs to up the ante so he tries a kiss that leaves Megan breathless, senseless, and ready to break and enter the congressman's office just to get him a story that could cost her job and some time if caught. FALLING FOR YOU is an amusing satirical chick lit romance that pokes fun at excesses, but though realizing this, readers will still have a difficult time with Barry's manipulations and Megan's inability to say no even when it jeopardizes her. Readers will detest what he does to Megan although he feels bad for doing so and want to pound Megan for being a patsy. Still in spite of doubts about the lead couple, FALLING FOR YOU has a strong message on dominant-submissive relationships inside a humorous well written tale.

The Future Widows' Club
Rhonda Nelson
Signature Spotlight (Silhouette)
ISBN: 0373836465 $5.99

In Moon Valley, Jolie Marshal regrets marrying charming SOB Chris who embezzled money from their company leaving friends and her mother potentially in the lurch. When she can pay back her "creditors", she will divorce Chris, who she married when vulnerable following the death of her father and rejection by her boyfriend Jake, who was not ready for a wife. The Future Widows' Club invites Jolie to join their group. Finding solace, she agrees and begins following some of the rules like taking out life insurance on her spouse. However, someone was irate when they shot Chris in the heart and cut off his penis. Could it be Sheriff Dean who has pictures of his wife with Chris? Or Police Officer Jake who is livid that this worm hit Jolie, the woman he still loves and regrets he let down? Or perhaps the grieving widow who just took out insurance on the rat? THE FUTURE WIDOWS' CLUB is a strange dark humorous romance with police procedural elements to add excitement to the question of who killed Chris. The story line initially appears to be one of an abused spouse but switches gear once the merry widows invite Jolie to join. Rhonda Nelson writes a strong satirical dark look at society that accepts plenty of abusive "values" under the label of protecting the family.

A Real McCoy
Tori Carrington
Signature Select
ISBN 0373836473 $5.99

In the DC area, junior criminal defense attorney Kat Buckingham finds her fiance James Smith dead on the kitchen floor. Detective Leary immediately arrests Kat for murder. US Marshal Harry Kincaid has been undercover watching James who is actually the sleaze Darin Ichatious, protected under the Witness Protection Program. He keeps quiet though he realizes his stakeout substantiates no one else entered or left as he would have seen them. Sean McCoy visits Kat in jail and confesses that he is her biological father. He also tells his second wife and his five married law enforcement sons that their biological pregnant mother gave birth as she died; he gave the infant away in his grief. Harry whisks Kat from the cell to allegedly protect her from James' killer. Harry, her overly protective five older brothers, and her dad refuse to allow her to be killer bait; then again they want her to play touch football at family gatherings, but Kat prefers tackle. She is ready to prove that she is A REAL MCCOY. Fans of the Magnificent McCoy Men miniseries (see FOR HER EYES ONLY, LICENSE TO THRILL, YOU ONLY LOVE ONCE, NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN and THE PI WHO LOVED HER) will appreciate this addition that brings back the brood. Though the audience might believe a female could never be A REAL MCCOY (don't tell the wives that), readers will accept Kat as the sixth sibling. The who-done-it is cleverly handled so that all that testosterone cannot protect the newcomer yet giving the audience a chance to see friends while the romance between the lead couple adds to the feel that Kat is a legitimate McCoy.

The Hope Chest
Jacquie D'Alessandro, Julie Kenner, and Susan Kearney
Silhouette Signature Select
ISBN: 0373836457 $5.99

"Yesterday's Magic" by Jacquie D'Alessandro. In 1820 Cardiff Maxwell buys a hope chest at Gibson's Antiques and Curiosities just before Amanda tries to purchase the same item. He is cold to her efforts to buy the chest from him. Though the earl is known as the "Crazed Killer of Cardiff" due to the Scandalous Incident, he and Amanda fall in love due to the "matchmaking" of the hope chest. "Today's Secrets" by Julie Kenner. While Ryan celebrates his taking over as head of Kinsey Applied Sciences, reporter Marty reflects on how disappointed her father, head of Allied International Technology, is in her. Marty and Ryan meet and are attracted to one another, but when he sees her hope chest with a special formula written on it he becomes fascinated with that. She wonders if he loves her hope chest or her. "Tomorrow's Promise" by Susan Kearney. In 2705 Mars, womanologist Kendar looks back three centuries to doomed heroine Sara, a Martian archeologist, who tried to shut down a machine that ultimately obliterated the female population. While visiting Station 32 the site of Sara's doom, Kendar is sent back to 2405. He meets Sara. Together they must interpret the ancient Martian writings on the machine, a hope chest, or women will vanish from the planet. This anthology contains three related romantic novellas that is fun to follow as readers gradually learn the secrets of THE HOPE CHEST. Each tale is unique with Ms. D'Alessandro providing a Regency; Ms. Kenner a contemporary; and Ms. Kearny a futuristic science fiction. Yet each tale is linked by fine writing that stars delightful protagonists and the overall lead theHope Chest.

One of the Boys
Merline Lovelace
Silhouette Signature Select
ISBN: 0373285086 $5.99

"One of the Boys". At Eglin AFB, Florida, test manager Maura Phillips is attracted to uptight Deputy Commander for Operations Colonel Jake McAllister. He reciprocates as he wants the free spirited civilian. They go out on a date, but regret that the other is not right for them. When a test that Maura analyzed almost resulted in a tragedy, the military wonder whether the flaky Californian is a serious risk. Jake knows she is compassionate about her work and the safety of the crews; he plans to prove her innocence even as they fall in love encouraged by his fifteen year old daughter. "Maggie and her Colonel". At Eglin AFB, Armament Division Commander Colonel Alastair MacRae is irate with the new civilian Chief of Environmental Engineering. Dr. Maggie Westscott explains why she rejected his team's test proposal. Mac asks Maggie to help his team revise the test parameters to meet her environmental concerns. As they work together on the project, they fall in love. When a colleague accuses Maggie of sabotaging a test to help her former company gain a contractor's edge, she wonders what her Colonel believes. ONE OF THE BOYS is a rewrite a fine military romantic suspense (BITS AND PIECES) that includes the impact of the Global War on Terrorism on domestic bases since the original novel was published. The story line is fresh and tense starring two opposites. MAGGIE AND THE COLONEL is a bonus tale from around the same time frame, but not updated with the GWOT impact. Still this remains an insightful look at military life as only retired officer like Merline Lovelace could provide. Fans of military romantic suspense will enjoy the two stops at Eglin AFB.

Harper Allen
Silhouette Bombshell
ISBN: 0373513488 $4.50

Only a few days have passed since Dawn O'Shaunessy learned the truth about her life, which turned out to be a lie. Her "Uncle" Lee Craig was not a relative, had killed her biological mother, and was actually the notorious assassin Cipher. Dawn makes it clear to Athena Academy grad, police lieutenant Kayla Ryan that she will personally go after Cipher's boss Dr. Aldrich Peters. She will also destroy his Lab 33 that genetically changed her as the instant healing from a bullet wound proves. After locating two "sisters" over the last nine moths that she was AWOL from Lab 33, Dawn confronts Peters. He informs her that the genes of her and her sisters are breaking down; the worse case is they will be dead in twenty-one days. Peters also states that her only hope of living means breaking into the Arizona lab of geneticist William London who is guarded by US and British elite troops led by Special Air Services Captain Des Asher, a rare opponent worthy of Dawn's skills. The key to this terrific science fiction action thriller is Dawn, an interesting character who is becoming less robotic and more humane as the series continues. Previously it was her lab rat sisters to soften her, but now Des brings out the feminist side including love that the heroine has denied exists since her "Uncle" and her employer were exposed as the bad dudes. Fans will fully appreciate this fine fast-paced tale in which the escapades and the romance are worthy of an Athena Academy graduate, of which Harper Allen obtains her diploma like Debra Webb and Evelyn Vaughn before her.

Wild Woman
Lindsay McKenna
Silhouette Bombshell
ISBN: 0373513518 $4.50

Perseus chief Morgan Trayhorn and his assistant retired US Army Major Mike Houston make it clear to CIA Agent Mace Phillips he will work with a woman on his next assignment or he can go back to manning a desk. He reluctantly accepts the assignment which teams him up with CWO2 Jessica "Wild Woman" Merrill. They are to find the third totem as seen in a vision by Kai Alseoun. Canadian Robert "global coyote" Marston is believed to have the artifact hidden in either room 2 or 3 of his Hong King fortress. Mace and Jessica pretend to be a married couple and owners of software giant Titan Industries. That gets them access to room 1, but it will be up to Jessica to breech the inner sanctum. However, she believes she has a second mission to see her sad looking partner smile; Mace still mourns the death of his wife from ovarian cancer. If she succeeds that should provide a cover stronger than anything else unless the duo takes it seriously, which could weaken their efforts against a dangerous octogenarian. WILD WOMAN is a fantastically enjoyable romantic suspense thriller with the emphasis on action starting from the moment that Mace meets the title character and never lets up until the final confrontation. The story line is action-packed, but as with its predecessors (see SISTER OF FORTUNE and DAUGHTER OF DESTINY), Native American mythos is infused into the plot. Fans will enjoy the efforts of the undercover agents while finding Marston fascinating in a negative way. Lindsay McKenna writes an exciting ending to the totem trilogy.

The Midas Trap
Sharron McClellan
Silhouette Bombshell
ISBN: 0373513534 $4.50

In New York, archeologist Simon Owens visits Discovery Incorporated to discuss a find with Veronica Bright, a woman who hates him since he and his peers devastated her paper on some myths being verbal history. Though unwelcome by her, Simon shows Veronica a gold mouse and MRI documentation that proves the object was once alive. He now believes that the Midas Stone exists and can be found if one can find the Eye of Artemis. He has come to Veronica, who mentioned the Eye of Artemis in that debunked paper, because he now believes in the Midas touch. Her sister Alyssa verifies that the mouse once lived, but is now pure gold inside and out. Though she has no reason to trust him, Veronica teams up with Simon; they head to the Vatican where she first found a codex referring to the Eye of Artemis. As she and Simon work together, their attraction reignites, but her former boyfriend Michael, who betrayed her in Brazil, has plans to steal her project. THE MIDAS TRAP is a delightful romantic fantasy thriller that grips the audience from the moment Veronica confronts Michael over an urn and Simon over his golden find, and never slows down until the final golden touch. The story line is fast-paced sort of like a modern day Indiana Jones meets ancient mythology, but the cast seems genuine amidst the escapades. Veronica is a delight wondering whether she can trust any male besides her dad and her brother-in-law while her sibling worries for her safety. Sharron McClellan furbishes a wonderful rendering of the Midas Touch that is a pure gold winner for sub-genre fans.

Silent Weapon
Debra Webb
Silhouette Bombshell
ISBN: 037351347X $4.50

Two years ago Merri Walters was an elementary school teacher, but suffered total loss of hearing from an illness. The Nashville Police Department hired her as an archivist filing cold and closed cases. She comes across a misfiled folder and after looking at details obviously missed by the cops on the case and her predecessor decides to solve the case, but once she has the proof she does not turn to her family of police and fire officers; she asks Homicide Detective Steve Barlow to complete the bust, which he does. The brass is impressed with how well the deaf civilian performer and decide she is perfect for an undercover assignment to catch a much bigger fish than Sawyer who she just nabbed with Barlow's assistance. Steve is heatedly opposed to her doing this because he insists she is untrained and has a handicap. He hides that he is attracted to her and worries for her safety. However, Merri has to prove her worth especially to herself and accepts the opportunity though that places her in danger. More a police procedural than a romance, SILENT WEAPON is a fine tale starring a heroine who overcomes her recent physical handicap by being all she can be. Merri is a terrific lead protagonist and Steve is her ideal counterpoint. The undercover work is handled quite nicely although the romance between the pair is rightfully kept on the backburner (lovemaking and atheism are not common in foxholes). Debra Webb weaves a solid thriller that hopefully will star the Homicide Detective and the detailed oriented archivist in a future story perhaps with a wee bit more romance.

Calculated Risk
Stephanie Doyle
Silhouette Bombshell
ISBN: 037351350X $4.50

The email from brilliant Arnold Salinski addressed to GG (as he called her - girl genius) immediately stated he was dead. To verify Sabrina "GG" Masters calls the number her mentor gave her. CIA Assistant Director Kreuger confirms that Arnold is dead and they arrange to meet in Gettysburg. Ironically the CIA fired her ten years ago yet she is the one that Salinski selected in an Einstein contest involving his last project, Deep Throat. Kreuger explains the Lithium isotope has the potential to be the strongest counter to global terrorism. However, only Salinski knew how to use it; some bad dudes are in country planning a neo 9/11, but with Salinski dead his work is useless. Not only do they want her to break into Salinski's computer, but help bring down internationally number one terrorist Kahsan who they believe plans to steal the technology. Agent Jack Quinlan, her former lover who betrayed her a decade ago, is assigned to protect her, but Kreuger makes it clear to her that her bodyguard Q who she never stopped loving is expendable. CALCULATED RISK is an electrifying fast-paced espionage romance starring an exceptionally different type of heroine and not just because of her brain power. Sabrina has spent the last decade working casinos using her intelligence for minor personal gain as she drifts through life since she learned her beloved Jack was engaged to someone else and the CIA canned her. Now she is their only hope, but still loves Jack who in her mind is not expendable as she simply has to save the world or at least America. Stephanie Doyle writes a fun thriller that climaxes with a slate of the hand.

The Orchid Hunter
Sandra K. Moore
Silhouette Bombshell
ISBN: 0373513496 $4.50

Rare orchid hunter Jessica Robards has traveled the world in search of the best for her client Linus von Brutten III. The work is dangerous enough going into remote locations like New Guinea, but rivals who prefer to steal than dig make it more perilous. Currently Jessica is in Texas visiting her ailing Uncle Scooter, owner of the most dilapidated honky tonk, the Slapdash Bar and Grill, but though away only six weeks she learns her beloved relative is dying the victim of a pharmaceutical research experiment. Von Brutten tells a stunned Jessica that he can save her uncle if she brings back the legendary Death orchid. Besides wondering how he knew Scooter was dying from the Cradion experiment, she agrees. In the Brazilian Rainforest, Jessica meets entomologist Rick Kincaid who is studying the moths that pollinate her orchid. As they work together, they fall in love. Others including the CIA, von Brutten's rivals, and a local tribe try to prevent Jessica from completing her mission. THE ORCHID HUNTER is an action-packed adventure romance with the emphasis on the skirmishes with their enemies even more than the lead couple's growing love for one another. The description of the Amazon is absolutely incredible as tour guide Sandra K. Moore escorts readers on a fabulous trip. Mindful of the Indiana Jones tales, but in a modern gender bending context (we've come more than just a long way), fans of romantic suspense in an exotic locale will cherish this novel and want more from the von Brutten associates.

Total Package
Cait London
Silhouette Desire
ISBN: 0373766424 $4.50

In Amoteh, Washington, brooding Danya Stepanov, whose family owns and runs the nearby resort, walks along the cliffs still mourning the loss of his wife Jeannie to a DUI nine years ago. While wandering around he notices a woman by the gravesite of Kamakani asking the chief why her partner, friend, and sometime lover Ben dumped her to marry a bimbo. When she notices Danya, she fears he is suicidal and plans to leap. She informs him her name is Sidney Blakely, a photographer doing the models shoot and she will be his buddy. Danya is shocked because he is attracted to this spirited female, but fails to inform her that he is not a jumper. Danya persuades Sidney to move into his cottage so that she can escape the horde of females that she is working with and of course she agrees to stay in his home as platonic friends. As his family wonders what is going on, he tells them that she is the one. Meanwhile she continues to moan the loss of Ben, but admits only to herself that Danya is a caring hunk and would she not mind a lifetime or two with him except that she has a wanderlust soul. TOTAL PACKAGE, the fourth Heartbreaker tale, is a fun contemporary romance starring two likeable protagonists and a horde of support players (mostly his family, but to a lesser degree the models too). The story line's tension comes from Danya knowing eh must be patient with his beloved who needs to recover from what she perceives as her love and he feels was her convenience. Fans of warm contemporary drama will enjoy this fine romance.

A Killing Night
Jonathan King
ISBN 0525948651 $23.95, 304 pp.

Max Freeman was a Philadelphia cop until he gets injured so badly he received a disability pension. One of the people he shot was an unarmed youth and he was unable to cope with what he had done even though it was called a righteous shooting. He leaves the Northeast and head to Southern Florida where he works as a private investigator for attorney Billy Winchester. Max's ex-lover Detective Sherry Richard asks him to check out former Philadelphia police officer Dan O'Shea who is also in South Florida. Three women bartenders have disappeared without any reason and O'Shea detests two of them and knew the third. He travels to his old hometown to talk with O'Shea's ex-wife, who tells him that Dan never hit her. Max also talks with his ex-wife in charge of Internal Affairs who believes O'Shea was involved in the disappearance of a young women though charges were never filed. When he returns home he relies on his own instincts because he believes his ex-lover is not thinking objectively and while she has her sights set on the wrong man, the real killer gets away with murder. Every once in a while a fictional private detective comes along that is unforgettable like Perry Mason or Spenser. Max is in their league because he goes the extra mile to see that justice occurs for the victims of violent crimes. Max gets involved so that the wrong man is not convicted of a crime because a police detective believes he's guilty and goes out of her way to harass him. Jonathan King has written a gritty urban "noir thriller" that is hard hitting and exciting.

Bubbles Betrothed
Sarah Strohmeyer
ISBN 0525948643 $19.95, 304 pp.

After a decade of working in hair salons and solving homicides, Bubbles has a new career as a reporter at the News-Times. She is covering the trial of Crazy Popeye, a homeless person whose real name is Julia Simon. She is accused of killing revered Lehigh Principal Rudolph Schmidt in his podiatrist's office. Because of a run in with security Bubbles shares a cell with Julia, who tells the reporter that the podiatrist always let her use her bathroom and even let her sleep in the waiting room. She insists she didn't kill Schmidt; she heard a man and a woman running; and was trying to save the Principal when the police busted her. In the middle of the conversation Julia drops to the floor and dies. The police demand Bubbles' notes but she refuses to turn them over. She not only has the police on her case, but also a Polish Mafioso who want them as well. While she pretends to be engaged to reporter Steve Stiletto and deals with her eccentric family, Bubbles finds herself in the middle of hostage situation hosted by a diabolical killer who plans the deaths of three innocent people unless Bubbles can figure out a way out of her predicament. Readers who like a funny upbeat mystery on the orders of Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plan novels will definitely love BUBBLES BETROTHED. The heroine may not have a first class education or an upscale wardrobe, but she has plenty of heart and that is why readers care about her. The scenes between Bubbles and her "fiance" are hilarious and the mystery is well constructed with plenty of surprising twists and turns. Sarah Strohmeyer scores again with another amusing who-done-it.

Gasa-Gasa Girl
Naomi Hirahara
ISBN: 0385337604 $12.00

In Altadena, California, elderly Japanese-American widower Mas Arai lives alone nurturing the plants in his gardens. His daughter Mari resents him because he never was there for her and she believes his beloved plants came before her. Mas never understood his only child as he could spend hours looking at the beauty of a flower while she could not sit for more than a nano second. Their estrangement is wider than the cross continental geographical distance between them even with her residing in the Park Slope section of Brooklyn. However, perhaps for the first time in their relationship or at least that he recognized, Mari needs him so he goes to New York. Mas learns how much he has missed out on his daughter's life when Mari introduces him to her spouse Lloyd and his grandson. He is disappointed that Mari only wants him here for his gardening skills for the Waxley Garden community project that Lloyd's boss Kazuhiko "Kazzy" Ouchi sponsors. When someone murders Kazzy, Mas discreetly observes that the police suspect Mari and Lloyd killed the victim; so he begins his own inquiries. The sequel to the delightful SUMMER OF THE BIG BACHI, GASA-GASA GIRL is a terrific who-done-it starring a wonderful protagonist who brings to life the first generation Japanese-American subculture. Mas, a survivor of Hiroshima, and his daughter Mari see life differently; he leisurely strolls at the pace a flower will move on a windless day while she is a wind tunnel. Mas' reaction to Brooklyn is priceless and his inconspicuous investigation into the homicide is a fantastic amateur sleuth inquiry that feels genuine. Readers will demand more Mas novels from refreshing author Naomi Hirahara.

Special of the Day
Elaine Fox
ISBN: 0060740590 $5.99, 384 pp.

In Old Town Alexandria, New York transplant and former model and a recent CIA grad (Culinary Institute of America that is) Roxanne Rayeaux opens up a new restaurant Charters Fish House where she will also serve as the pastry chef. She leaves open the door to her new Virginia apartment so after knocking, her upstairs neighbor historian and bartender Steve Serrano enters to introduce himself to his new boss. Instead he frightens Roxanna and her cat Cheeto before she throws him out. Steve works at the Charters Fish House to give him access to the restaurant as he is actually looking for a historical document that he thinks is somewhere on the premises of this old edifice. Roxanne meets the current workers of the failing restaurant and lays down her changes starting with organs to a disbelieving staff and puts Steve in his place when he tries to explain that before management ruined the place six months ago, it was a success. As he and his boss argue they fall in love while break-ins and other nasty activity occur as others seek what Steve wants (that is besides his employer). Steve also worries that Roxanne will end their relationship once she learns about his undercover sleuthing. This is a fun contemporary romance starring two likable lead protagonists and a terrific support cast. The war of words between them is worth the price of admission as the two combatants battle with one another as much as each one wrestles with their growing attraction to each other. Elaine Fox provides a sly sweet tale of love in the kitchen and a few other places.

As An Earl Desires
Lorraine Heath
ISBN: 0060529474 $5.99, 384 pp.

In 1879 Archibald Warner struggles with the pomp and circumstance of being the new Earl of Sacshe although his predecessor's widow Camilla offers plenty of help and advice on etiquette. Camilla makes it clear to Arch that she will find him a proper wife and in the process plans to marry a duke. Arch does not want any acceptable spouse; he wants Camilla, who is two years younger than him. She refuses to consider being his spouse as she is barren and he needs an heir. As Camilla pushes respect over love, Arch showers her with kindness even telling his solicitor to back off on how she spends his money and occasionally steals a kiss that always jolts her. He plans to marry Camilla or no one, but he knows how difficult that will be to achieve as she is stubborn and her late spouse his predecessor scarred her mentally, hopefully not for life. Victorian romance readers will enjoy Lorraine Heath's latest historical starring a wonderful male protagonist. Fans at first will dislike Camilla as being a snob, but change their tune as they get to really know her especially what she does with her "excesses" and how her past (childhood poverty and the previous Earl) shaped her present. It is the change in attitude by the audience towards the female lead that makes this a fine tale while showcasing Ms. Heath's storytelling skills.

Lady in Red
Karen Hawkins
ISBN: 0060584068 $6.99, 384 pp.

His siblings admit to the oldest brother Marcus that they have failed to find the missing family heirloom, the Talisman Ring that vanished after it worked its last magic leading to another one of them getting married. Only Marcus remains single, a state he plans to remain permanently in. However, he learns that a woman with a streak of white in her hair that made her look unique and an uncanny knowledge of Italian ancient swords might have the ring. This female was a companion to Lady Talbot who has since died and no one knows the female's name. Marcus does - the bane of his existence - Honoria Baker-Sneed possesses the ring. He offers her money, but she refuses demanding much more. In desperate financial straits with her father and brother overseas and they being without money, Honoria and her sisters need help. Honoria wants Marcus to sponsor her sibling so that they can broker a good marriage. As they argue the ring does its best and soon Marcus and Honoria fall in love, but he remains obstinate that love does exist in spite of his seemingly happy insane siblings and his desire to kiss his antiquities opponent Honoria every time he sees her. The final Talisman Ring regency romance is a wonderful finale to a terrific fun series as the most stubborn of the siblings falls to the power of the ring. The story line is driven by the gender war between Marcus and Honoria as they squabble over remittance for buying what he claims he already owns and she insists possession is the law. Karen Hawkins provides a delightful ending to this historical, but perhaps the ring can do some Victorian magic on readers.

She Woke Up Married
Suzanne Macpherson
ISBN: 0060517697 $5.99, 384 pp.

With a hangover, thirty year old model Paris James awakens in a strange hotel room in Vegas. She notices the diamond on her finger and is stunned when Elvis the younger greets her with a good morning Mrs. Pruitt. Apparently during the night of overindulging she married Elvis. Reverend Turner Pruitt is as stunned to realize he married Paris whom he knew as Patricia Jamison thirteen years ago and dubbed her Paris as in Bogart's Casablanca. He runs the local Graceland Chapel trying to reach sinners. While Paris plans to annul their marriage before running back to New York, Turn plans to stay wedded to Paris as he realizes he loved her back then and apparently never stopped loving her or why would a conservative person like him lose control. All he needs to do is persuade his bride that they belong together in and out of bed forever. SHE WOKE UP MARRIED is an amusing contemporary romance starring two likable protagonists with differing opinions on their sudden marital status. Paris is an interesting kooky lead while Turner knows that she is the one as she gets him to do things he would never do. Somewhat inane, fans will enjoy this humorous tale of love between Reverend Elvis the younger and the over the hill model.

A Woman's Innocence
Gayle Callen
ISBN: 0060543965 $5.99, 384 pp.

In 1844 Leeds, spy Sam Sherryngton finds it hard to believe that his childhood friend Julia Reed betrayed her country resulting in the slaughter of 16000 soldiers at the Khyber Pass in Afghanistan. Still he did his job and she lingers in a nearby jail awaiting extradition to London to stand trial, a formality as the evidence is so overwhelming. Still one thing bothers Sam which involves the time sequence of the death of the mother of the government's key witness Edwin Hume. Deciding to ask Edwin a few more questions, Sam finds instead a dying man.. In his last breath Edwin tells Sam that Julia is innocent; her brother General Lewis Reed is the traitor. As Edwin dies, two constables arrive. They accuse Sam of murder to help Julia. He escapes and shortly afterward frees Julia. As they run for their lives, Julia refuses to believe her sibling would set her up like this. Sam hopes to keep them alive while seeking proof that Lewis is a traitor and a killer. He never expected to fall in love too. This solid Victorian thriller is more an action yarn than a romance though fans of the latter will appreciate the growing love between the lead couple. The story line is fast-paced as Sam and Julia go on the lam with little hope of convincing authorities without concrete proof that a British general officer sold the country out; getting that proof is the fun of this tale. The ending will surprise the audience though historical readers will know the realism of the decision that just wraps up final tale of the "Spies and Lovers" trilogy in triumph.

A Kiss in the Dark
Kimberly Logan
ISBN: 0060751878 $5.99, 384 pp.

In 1819 Earl Tristan Knight panics when he learns his feisty sister Emily has vanished somewhere in London. He needs help to locate her from someone who knows the streets of the slums; rumors about haughty Viscountess Deidre Wilks hint at her childhood in those same mean streets where he needs a guide. A desperate Tristan confronts Deidre who reluctantly agrees to escort him through the worst neighborhoods of the city. Pretending to be his servant to provide a cover, Deidre walks the streets as if she were born to them, which in a sense she was. As they continue to search for the lost sibling, Tristan admires his companion's courage and spunk. Soon he falls in love with her; she reciprocates but tries to hide her feelings as she trusts no one with her well being or her secrets other than herself. Placing Oliver Twist in the Regency with the Rag Tag gang, Kimberly Logan writes an invigorating unique historical romance that hooks the audience the moment that Tristan confronts Deidre to help him find his sister. The story line is fast-paced and action-packed starring a refreshing female protagonist who takes charge of the situation rather than wait for her "partner" to do so. Ms. Logan has written a fantastic brisk Regency romantic suspense that sub-genre fans will devour in one energizing read.

Just One Touch
Debra Mullins
ISBN: 006056167X $5.99, 384 pp.

The Duke knows he is dying and has one worry the welfare of his adult daughter Caroline. Years ago she was abducted and though rescued fears the touch of a man. When the Duke meets Rogan Hunt he feels he has found an honorable man who will see to the welfare of his beloved Caroline after he dies. He learns Rogan is obsessed with restoring the honor and reputation to his family name, which starts with money to pay off debts. The Duke offers a marriage of convenience in which Rogan takes care of Caroline and in return will have the funds needed to achieve his objective. Rogan agrees and so does Caroline when her dad makes it a death wish vow. To her surprise, her spouse proves gentle, caring and patient with her. Rogan slowly gets her used to his tender touch and soon this couple falls in love. However, an unknown villain does not want this pair to make it as he has plans for the estates; this person has killed and will do so again to accomplish what he desires. Though the machinations of the villain add suspense, this takes away from a wonderful Regency romance starring two delightful protagonists. Rogan is a gentle person except when it comes to anyone harming his beloved; then he turns into a wild avenger. Caroline is a fabulous lead character whose fear of men makes her atypical of the females who star in sub-genre novels. Debra Mullins provides a wonderful historical romantic suspense that is at its best when a tender Rogan slowly wins over the heart and body of his scarred spouse.

Norah Hess
ISBN: 0843950587 $6.99

In the 1860s Wyoming Territory, her abusive dad sold Rachel to an individual who may be the only breathing critter whom is even meaner and viler than her father. However, Rachel believes in God when minutes after her groom said "I do" he dies. Still she fails to land on her feet as her pop still plans get rid of his unwanted daughter through marriage. He selects a new husband, a ranching relative Dylan Quade. Dylan does not want a wife as he has enough troubles, but especially not one from his lowlife relatives that he always avoided. However, he reluctantly agrees to take Rachel off the hands of her father for her sake; she has other ideas and finds a kind trading post owner willing to hire her. Little did Dylan a confirmed loner anticipate falling in love, but he does. Rachel also begins to fall in love with the tender Dylan, but hides those feelings from him because she knows he never wanted her. Two stubborn proud individuals refuse to reveal to the other their deepest secret, the regard they hold the other in, that if told would make their lives infinitely greater. DYLAN is a fine western romance starring two likable protagonists who in spite of the attraction fear a relationship because they have seen first hand how disgusting their extended family members are. The story line grips the audience from the moment Rachel's abusive father sells her to an even greater male abomination and never slows down until the lead couple begins to find one another as the answer to loneliness. Though the odious brutes seem over the top, fans will enjoy Norah Hess' latest tale.

Kathleen Nance
ISBN: 0843954914 $6.99

NSA Agent Daniel Chaplain completes a case only to see the name Isabella Q appear on a sex chat line that is on the open web page of a computer of the enemy along with an electronic message from Lokus, Cyber Soldier, the premier hacker in the world. He wonders if this could be his Bella who he betrayed four years ago when he proved her father falsified scientific data. He heads to the Northern Peninsular of Michigan, but wonders if it is to see Bella, see her safe, or confront her if she is Lokus. Bella is driving home on terribly icy conditions when she is run off the road. Daniel arrives to rescue her from hypothermia, but she hides Fran an artificial intelligence computer that she created using her defrocked father's design. She plans to unveil Fran at the Turing Competition in three weeks. However, Lokus knows Bella has a major find and plans to take it from her at any cost including murder; only Daniel can keep the two females safe, but Bella does not trust him although Fran seems to have faith in their man. JIGSAW is a tense science fiction romantic suspense thriller that never slows down from the moment Bella is run off the road until the final confrontation with Lokus. The story line is action-packed, but it is the relationships between Daniel and Bella, and Bella and Fran (think of Johnny Five is alive) that make the tale spin as she needs him to survive, but distrusts him with her beloved Fran, a daughter to Bella. Fans will appreciate this fine tale that puts plenty of heart in the middle of a strong artificial intelligence story.

The Lady Doth Protest
Jennie Klassel
Leisure Books
ISBN: 0843953926 $5.99

King Edward's ward Lady Margaret de Languetot is tired of constantly being betrothed, but remaining a virgin as her eight suitors died before they reached the bedroom. Sick of the warring of men and wanting to finally gain control of her life and wealth, Lady Megge decides to rally the females from aristocrat to servant in a velvet siege and revolt at Castle Rising. The battle plan is simple no more sex until their demands are met. King Edward sends his strongest knight Sir Olyver of Mannyngs, known as the Scourge of the Saracen and considered by many as a "Limb of Hell" to retake the castle from the feminist revolutionaries. Olyver obtains a pledge from his liege that when he succeeds in ending the revolt, he will be Megge's ninth and last groom for he plans to share her bed for decades (avoid that curse word lifetime as that has proven short for Megge's wannabe spouses). This magnificent medieval version of the Greek classic Lysistrata stars a terrific heroine who is tired of being a GIRL ON THE RUN to her next selected soon to be dead husband. The ferocious warrior Olyver is her perfect counterpoint as he finds boudoir battles much more difficult than the Crusades. Olyver admires Megge's courage, pluck, and strategy knowing that SHE WHO LAUGHS LAST will be his forever beloved. Fabulously amusing historical romance with that delightful ancient Greek third leg twist.

A Perfect Wedding
Anne Robins
ISBN: 0821777017 $5.99

In 1912 Marjorie MacTavish leaves Glasgow, Scotland to catch the maiden voyage of the Titanic accompanied by her fiance. On board Marjorie befriends Loretta Quarles. Although Marjorie and Loretta survive the sinking of the Titanic, the former's fiance dies in the tragedy. In 1915 Marjorie resides in San Francisco where she works as secretary and personal companion to Loretta. She enjoys her work for her outspoken friend, a champion of women's suffragette, but feels Loretta's childhood friend Dr. Jason Abernathy is a nuisance and the bane of her existence. Jason enjoys teasing Marjorie, who he would like to see on a social basis, but she rejects his minor advances. He even joins the church choir to be near her. When his nursing assistant Lo Sing informs him that a tong war in Chinatown has injured many people, Jason and Marjorie go to help. As she sees a different side of the doctor, Marjorie begins to fall in love, not knowing she already owns Jason's heart. In her third "perfect" historical romance (see A PERFECT STRANGER and A PERFECT ROMANCE), Anne Robins provides a terrific tale that enables the audience to get a close look at San Francisco just prior to the United States entering WWI. Especially intriguing is Chinatown and the treatment of Chinese including specific prejudicial racial laws aimed at control of the Asian immigrant population. The romance between the lead couple is charmingly presented even when the duo works as a team providing medical care to Chinese victims of the tong war and other racially motivated incidents. A PERFECT WEDDING is a fine early twentieth century Americana tale.

Crazy for You
Kate Angell
ISBN: 0505526166 $5.99

In 1925 on the luxurious SS Majestic that he owns, Randolph St. Croix breaks off his engagement to Eloise Hogue to propose to flapper Daisy Alton. She accepts his family heirloom, a six carat fire opal in the center of diamonds, as an engagement gift. Not long afterward, Daisy allegedly killed Randolph and committed suicide. No gun was found and the SS Majestic went into mothballs as no one wanted to ride a vessel allegedly haunted by the killer ghost. The great nephew of Randolph, Sexton St. Croix, takes the SS Majestic out to sea on a five day psychic cruise that he figures will end the nonsense. He brings with him one supposedly reputable ESP whiz, Bree Emery, who resides in Daisy's cabin, unchanged since 1925. Though attracted to the skeptical Randolph especially after viewing his homage to the Big Mac, following contact with Daisy, Bree believes the ill fated dancer and her beloved were murdered by a third party. To free the ghost, she must solve the homicides while other psychics dance the high wire of shams. Randolph scoffs at her firmly convinced Daisy murdered his relative. No one does crazy romantic romps that have readers laughing one moment and feeling the passion the next than Kate Angell does. Her latest tale is a fabulous paranormal romance with a wonderful historical who-done-it. The story line is hilarious and ardent from the Big Mac to the ghostly high wire as a cruse ship has not ever been quite as majestic as this one. Fans will treasure the modern day romance between the clairvoyant and the skeptic, and the love story that transcends time.

Deep Blue
Kat Martin
ISBN: 0821773828 $6.99

In Manhattan, Midday News reporter Hope Sinclair finds her apartment trashed, but nothing stolen and she is no longer covering the Buddy Newton Hartley House story as the newspaper owner has assigned her temporarily to another of his publications Adventurer Magazine to cover a treasure hunt story in the Caribbean. Led by Operations Chief Connor Reese they seek the Spanish gold and silver bearing ship the Nuestra Senora de Rosa which sunk along with three other ships in 1605 due to a late hurricane. Hope comes on board the Conquest upsetting Connor who was not expecting a woman or a journalist. Conn fears publicity will make the quest more dangerous with amateurs showing up. Hope frets over her attraction to the belligerent Conn, who feels the same way as neither trusts the other gender. As they become acquainted with the courage and caring of the other, Hope and Conn make love. As the search continues and the danger mounts at Hartley House where Buddy is dead and at sea, Conn and Hope fall in love, but neither is ready to compromise. The third Sinclair sister romance (see DESERT HEAT and MIDNIGHT SUN) is a strong suspense thriller starring a wonderful lead couple and fine support cast especially the crew and the Professor. The story line takes the audience under the sea with an interesting look at underwater salvage especially the Caribbean locale. Surprisingly, the New York subplot enhances the prime Caribbean story line; a tribute to Kat Martin's writing skills. Hope's stubbornness makes her a terrific reporter although she drives readers and Conn crazy with her fear of relationships. Still this is a deep descriptive contemporary.

Deep Freeze
Lisa Jackson
ISBN: 0821772961 $7.99, 507 pp.

Unable to cope with the memories of her sister dying on the set, film star Jenna Hughes leaves Southern California to relocate with her two daughters in Oregon. While her remote ranch provides Jenna with solace, her teenager rebels with the radical change in their lives. Meanwhile Sheriff Shane Carter worries that a serial killer is murdering women. The culprit apparently abducts his victim, kills her and dips the corpse in hot wax so as to replicate his beloved Jenna. Unbeknownst to the sheriff or the actress who receives scary fan mail from him, this predator is Jenna's biggest devotee. Soon Jenna will learn first hand how devoted her greatest fan is. DEEP FREEZE hooks the audience from the onset when Lisa Jackson introduces her readers to the killer and a victim. The story line never slows down as the murderer piles up numbers and gets closer to his beloved. The romantic subplot takes a back seat to this tense thriller as the obsessed psychopath, the caring over his head sheriff, the killer's intended, and her daughters especially the teens make for a terrific chiller while also setting up a sequel for fans to look forward to read.

Josie Day is Coming Home
Lisa Plumley
ISBN: 0821776967 $6.50, 320 pp.

While performing, Vegas showgirl Josie Day notices an elderly woman in the audience choking. She leaves the stage to provide the Heimlich Maneuver, saving the woman from having her obituary reading choked to death on a martini olive. Backstage the grateful sixty-seven years old Tallulah Carlyle, who happens to sign the paychecks as the hotel's boss, thanks Josie and rewards her with a "spare" estate in Donovan's Corner, Arizona. Reluctantly yet also gleefully Josie leaves Sin City to take over her new property, which happens to be in her hometown that she fled years ago. The townsfolk's reception remains as frozen as before with the exception of the estate's "caretaker" Luke Donovan, who wants her to leave immediately. As Luke and Josie become acquainted they fall in love, but he fears she will dump him once she knows the truth about his upper crust background and that his Aunt Tallulah cannot give away property that he owns. JOSIE DAY IS COMING HOME is an amusing light hearted romantic romp starring two likable protagonists who will remind the audience of the Doris Day-Rock Hudson pillow films. The slowly changing relationship between the lead couple from "Knock Knock" jokes to love drives the story line with Josie receiving plenty of reader empathy as the town pariah. Fans of humorous contemporary tales will enjoy Lisa Plumley's fine imperfectly together pairing.

Caught in the Act
Pam McCutheon
ISBN: 0821775103 $5.99

Scott Richmond left the charity ball that bored him early only to confront a cheeky teenage female cat burglar taking his mother's jewels from the family safe. She cannot escape because his security measures keep thieves in as well as keeping them out. Instead of calling the cops, he asks the feline felon why him? She says his family owes hers; just before his father died, he fired her father as a cost reduction measure. Since there was no call for valets and he had no pension, Dreyfuss, who just died, left his family impoverished. She needs money to pay for tuition at Juilliard. He lets her leave with the loot knowing she has no fence. Not long afterward Scott catches an older female trying to sneak into his home. Nicole realizes what Chrissie was doing and has come to stop her before she gets into trouble. Scott soon learns that the jewelry he gave to Chrissy are not originals. With Nicole's help, Scott begins making inquiries to learn what happened to the originals. As they work together, they fake an engagement that both wish was real as they have fallen in love, but neither has admitted the truth to the other. CAUGHT IN THE ACT is a zany surprisingly sophisticated screwball comedy reminiscent of the 1930s Hepburn movies. Scott is a terrific foible who plays the clown because that is what is expected by his peers and family from him. Only those who get inside like Nicole realize a fool could never have saved the family as he did. Pam McCutheon provides an amusing with serious undercoating romantic romp starring two likeable protagonists and a solid support cast.

Otto Penzler Presents a Time of Predators
Joe Gores
ISBN: 0765310511 $14.95, 224 pp.

Thirty-six years old Paula Halstead met Rockwell on the bus because both of them were holding brochures to the opening of the San Francisco Spring Opera. At the Greyhound Station, she waits for her spouse Curt to arrive while Rockwell walks towards a car. A gang of four drunken teens on a lark viciously attack the blond. Paula pleads with them to stop, but they don't until Curt arrives. They flee the scene, but leave behind a blinded victim; Paula pukes up her guts at the horrific sight. Rick Dean realizes Paula could identify him and his associates. They learn she is the wife of Los Feliz University anthropology Professor Curtis Halstead. The quartet plan to insure she says nothing so they obtain her home address and pay a visit. They viciously beat her, threaten her, and rape her. When they leave, unable to cope she slashes her wrists. The cops fail him so Curt knows he must find, torture, and execute the four punks who destroyed his life. He hires a PI who meets with no success either. Curt concludes he must descend to the underbelly of society to confront the killers on their terms, which he obsessively is determined to do. This is a reprint of an award winning 1969 tale that holds up quite nicely though feels like a historical. The story line is character driven whether it is Rick, Curt or Paula, but within an action-packed dark plot. The then rookie Joe Gores showcased a pessimistic San Franciscan society with his no SF elements version of Clockwork Orange meets Hammett.

Murder a la Mode
G.A. McKevett
ISBN: 0758204604 $22.00, 266 pp.

When the sleuthing business or a stakeout is at a lull, private investigator Savannah Reid passes the time reading steamy romance novels. Though she insist she reads the books, her friends believe that she only buys novels to gaze lovingly at the cover picture when Lance Roman is the model. Her friends Ryan Stone and John Gibson know about her fantasy so arrange as a birthday present for Savannah to be a contestant on a reality show in which the prize is Lance. Savannah wants to win the prize badly and makes every effort to use her southern charm on Lance. However, her endeavor takes a back seat when someone kills a show's producer Tess with fudge ice cream as the murder weapon; the body is left in a freezer that could only have been loaded by a Texan. Savannah begins investigating the homicide even as she continues to play the Georgia peach with Lance. This is a terrific Savannah Reid who-done-it as the heroine combines her sleuthing skills with her southern charm to impress her fantasy lover. The entertaining story line grips the reader as Savannah cannot resist the lure of a murder investigation or the lure of the cover model. Fans of the series will enjoy her latest binge while newcomers will get a taste of one of the better continuing female private investigators on the market today.

"Wicked" Women Whodunit
ISBN: 0758210264 $14.00, 336 pp.

"Ten Little Idiots" by MaryJanice Davidson. At an offshore Maine island getaway given to her by her friend, Caro decides another good intention is turning into a trip from hell. One of the other guests Dana claims to have murdered someone, but everyone is accounted for. "Single White Dead Guy" by Amy Garvey. It must be karma that last night was perfect as Lanie spent the greatest evening of her life in bed with hunk Will. However, banking on breakfast with Will, she finds him dead on the outside steps until he blithely walks in with her morning meal. "Fast Boys" by Jennifer Apodaca. Someone murders tabloid reporter Ranger, but make it look as if Tess killed him for using her to uncover dirt on her beloved NASCAR driver Ark. Tess plans to prove her innocence on both the murder and the Ark expose; in spite of his need to race away from her Ark needs to help her. "Three men and a Body" by Nancy J. Cohen. Heather tries to win the reality TV show contest because the prize is a Florida B&B although she is attracted to one of her opponents, Rex. However, Heather changes her goal when another contestant is murdered and she and Rex may be on the short list for elimination. These four amusing amateur sleuth romances are well written fine novellas starring wonderfully "wicked" women solving a murder mystery while finding the right hunk.

Wildwood Road
Christopher Golden
ISBN: 055338208X $12.00, 315 pp.

Tired and a bit intoxicated after attending a masquerade party with his paralegal wife Jillian, ad agency artist Michael Danksy drives home with his spouse asleep. Michael dozes off, but as his vehicle veers off the road, he awakens in time to avoid hitting a girl standing on the side of the road. Concerned that a young girl would be out by herself at night, Michael takes her to her home on dark hilly Wildwood Road. As the little girl runs inside, she tells Michael try to find me as if she is playing a game. Feeling uncomfortable that the girl charged into the dark house, Michael follows her in only to be confronted by ghosts; he escapes. Not long afterward, female ghosts assault Jillian, removing her joyful childhood memories. As Jillian turns from kind to nasty, Michael struggles to find the big dark house on Wildwood Road to bring back his wife, but finding the place seems impossible as it is not where he entered it. He next seeks the girl, but will she prove easier to locate? This ghost story is Christopher Golden's best work to date. Michael is a terrific beleaguered hero who wants his pre-house visit life especially his endearing wife back; Jillian is fantastic as she transforms from a friendly caring person into a cynical soulless individual as the child who became the adult was erased from her memory. Fans will keep reading until they learn who the little girl is and then want to know how Michael plans to rescue his wife if he obtains that knowledge. This is a one sitting tale that will keep the audience up all night with lights on in every room.

Finders Keepers
Linnea Sinclair
ISBN: 0553587986 $6.99, 453 pp.

Captain Trilby Elliot and her only companion Dezi the droid operate an obsolete outer space cargo ship when her intruder alarm noisily explodes, warning her of something nearing her vessel. The best she can hope for is a sizable fine that she cannot afford to pay when her binocs show only one ship, a high powered fighting Tra'Tark that crashes onto the planet. Trilby feels her luck has changed as the "sko" from that wreckage should be worth a fortune for the FINDERS KEEPERS salvage of what is now space garbage to anyone but her. However, Trilby finds one problem near the crash site as the pilot still breathes. Imperial Senior Captain Rhis Vanur informs Trilby that he is commandeering her ship and is kind enough not to maroon her on this isolated rock. As they become better acquainted they defy the astronomical odds and begin to fall in love. However, he is genetically engineered to have no emotions while someone needs her dead and wants her old ship with its seemingly ancient charts for no lucent reason. Fan of romantic science fiction will enjoy this outer space adventure tale. If it sounds somewhat like Star Wars (loquacious droids, empires at war, etc.), it is to a degree, but the story line develops its own gravity due to the powerful lead couple. The audience will root for Trilby and Rhis to overcome their enemies and make it together. Linnea Sinclair has written a wonderful novel that has strong cross-genre appeal to those readers who take pleasure in an action-packed thriller.

Almost a Bride
Jane Feather
ISBN: 0553587552 $6.99

At Brooks Gaming Club, Duke Jack Fortescu plays Faro with four other blokes including Earl Frederick Lacey. The Duke and the Earl have met over cards and other games of chance rather frequently lately with Jack winning all the time. However, Fred believes his luck has changed and he offers Lacey Court and all the contents inside as his wager. Jack accepts especially because of the stipulation of inside means Fred's sister. A couple of minutes later, Fred commits suicide. Jack travels to Kent to collect his winnings. However the sister Arabella is nothing like her brother. She is calm but laughs when he mentions the death of Fred and laughs when he offers a marriage of convenience. She wonders why a handsome wealthy Duke would settle for a twenty-eight year old rusticated spinster when he can have any diamond amidst the Ton. Jack cannot complete his vengeance without hurting Arabella just like Fred did to his sister Charlotte when he gave her away to the mob during the final days at Marie Antoinette's court. He did not count on falling in love with his victim. Though Arabella accepts her lot with a Fonzie level of cool that seems out of place, fans will appreciate this delightful late eighteenth century romance. The story line is character driven though much action occurs especially as the audience learn more about Charlotte. The tale focuses on the relationship between Jack and Arabella as he admires her from the onset, his admiration grows, and soon he is in love, but as he constantly reminds himself do not lose sight of the mission. Jane Feather provides an intriguing tale of love conquering hate.

The Sinner's Tale
Will Davenport
ISBN 0553802178 $13.00, 320 pp.

All his life Sir Guy de Bryan was a loyal vassal to King Edward fighting for him in the war with the French. He loved one woman Elizabeth but lost her through trickery by another of the king's warriors, Sir John Molyns. Sir John would commit any atrocity if it meant that England would win the battle. A brave soldier Guy comes to believe he will go to purgatory for all the men he killed in battle. He bought more absolutions than he could afford and built a chapel on his estate in Slapton where monks provide continuous prayers for him. By the end of his life his opinion of war changed dramatically. In the present, British government aide Beth Battack assures the Americans that her country will support them in the upcoming war. She believes that sometimes war is the only answer for a lasting peace. A scandal has Beth hiding out in her home village of Slapton. Her dying father expects her to arrange the yearly mass for Guy de Braun. The Battocks are descendants of Sir Guy's priest who led the prayers in the chapel Sir Guy built. After tragedy strikes her family, Beth realizes war is not always the answer. This is really two stories in one novel, Sir Guy is a man who has come to hate war with its lack of chivalry and horror while Beth believes that war is sometimes the answer. The two stories are linked by the priest who first said the prayers on Sir Guy's behalf, who is an ancestor of Beth's family. The medieval parts of the tale are absorbing and entertaining but Beth's story seems comparatively weaker with a seemingly implausible ending to an overall fine rally cry for give peace a chance.

Legacy of Masks
Sallie Bissell
ISBN: 0553802798 $23.00, 352 pp.

Mary Crow has returned to Hartsville before (see IN THE FOREST OF HARM), but this time she is serious about staying. She broke with her anthropologist boyfriend Gabe while they were in Peru and quit her job as an ADA to seek work as a prosecutor or in a law firm in the North Carolina Mountains. No offer has come as no one believes that "Killer Crow" will remain here after seventeen years in Atlanta; so she opens up her own office. Her first major case will not endear Mary with the bigwigs. The police suspect Ridge Standingdeer killed his girlfriend Bethany Daws. Mary believes her client is innocent, but her only help comes from two preadolescents including Kayla the sister of the victim. Meanwhile sexual predator Deke Keener, the wealthiest person in the country with major political ties due to his construction company, targets Kayla as his next squeeze, but needs to keep Mary occupied perhaps with some of his legal business. The fourth Mary Crow tale returns her to her hometown where with exception of Kayla and hunk Jonathan Walkingstick no one wants her to stay. Her efforts to obtain work are met with resistance because of her stellar reputation making her seem over-skilled and the fact that she did kill the corrupt sheriff on a previous visit; even the native tribe rejects her offer of council. The who-done-it is not quite as thrilling as Crow's previous efforts, but the audience will appreciate her cat and mouse game with this clever predator who uses money, contacts, and racism to hide his being a killing pedophile.

No Simple Thing
Sara Miller
Unlimited Publishing
ISBN: 1588321142 $15.95, 287 pp.

In Manhattan Kate Van Horn has a successful career and enjoys the life of a single woman. However, when she meets divorcee Alec Callahan she surprises herself by falling in love with the kind man. He reciprocates though he was not looking for anyone after the debacle of his marriage. Kate and Alec decide to marry, but his ex-wife Cheryl goes berserk warning the newcomer that her life will be miserable and that she blames the breakup of her marriage on her; the fact that Kate and Alec did not know each other is irrelevant to the obsessed crazed ex. While he is out of town on business, an out of control Cheryl visits Kate at her office with her young daughter Jessica in tow. Spouting profanities at Kate, the future second wife takes Jessica to stay with her assistant so that she can try to calm down Cheryl. When she returns Cheryl is gone having dumped the kid on a stunned Kate. As she ponders between eternal love and a lifetime with the "perils of Cheryl", Kate wonders what happened to her cozy life. This fascinating contemporary tale will grip the audience not so much for how much Kate is willing to endure, but instead how far Cheryl will take her obsessive hatred that her child is an expendable pawn. The story line will remind the audience of Fatal Attraction though the cause is different. Sara Miller is an author to keep an eye on of this complex character driven plot that is NO SIMPLE THING is any indication.

Veterans Way
Robin Lee Hatcher
Revell (Bethany House)
ISBN: 0800718550 $14.99, 160 pp.

When he was eighteen, Jimmy Scott left Hart's Crossing, Idaho to join the army leaving behind his high school sweetheart Steph Carlson because he felt he was too young to marry. He married Martha and raised three children with her until she passed away three years ago. Steph wed Chuck and raised a daughter until he died last year. After fifty-two years away from his home town except for occasional visits to his parents, Jimmy moves back from Bremerton, Washington to live his final years in Hart's Crossing. Steph and Jimmy reflect back to their first kiss when he was ten and she was nine on V-J Day. Other memories are just as fond of their times together. Although they were both happily married for decades to different spouses that they still love and cherish, these two grandparents still love one another. However, even with the Thimbleberry Quilt Club praying for this septuagenarian couple coming together, will Steph and Jimmy take that step they did not take over five decades ago? This enjoyable second chance romance stars two likable elderly protagonists who find love though in the autumn of their lives. The key to the tale is that their deceased spouses were nice people not monsters easily forgotten once scars healed. Instead both enjoyed a fruitful loving marriage after splitting as teens and are now debating coming back together as senior citizens. The second Hart's Crossing tale (see LEGACY LANE for the previous novel) is a fine tale that emphasizes life is to be lived to the fullest at any age.

The Secret Portrait
Lillian Stewart Carl
Five Star
ISBN: 1594143072 $25.95, 381 pp.

In Edinburgh George Lovelace, a retired Leicester University professor, visits Great Scot magazine editor and writer Jean Fairburn, a former academia also. He provides Jean with a gold coin for her to authenticate which he insists he found while bird watching near his home that appears to be part of Bonnie Prince Charlie's horde he allegedly left behind when he fled for France after the Culloden debacle in 1745. At the nearby museum, Jean learns that Lovelace brought in an antique last year so his story of needing her to help him with the law seems even more farfetched than when she first heard him tell her. As she travels to talk further with George, Jean arranges an interview with American dot com millionaire Rick MacLyon, who recently bought the local castle. She arrives at the MacLyon appointment early having failed to find George before her meeting with the new lord of the manor. While waiting she senses a ghost and follows her feelings only to find the murdered corpse of George. As the police investigate, Jean finds herself embroiled in a weird conspiracy that ties back to the last Stuart pretender. THE SECRET PORTRAIT is a solid amateur sleuth tale although the heroine had no plans to get involved in a murder mystery as she only was interested in finding the "mother lode" left behind by Charlie. The who-done-it has an intriguing late twist that fits the tone of the tale yet deftly will surprise most readers. Lillian Stewart Carl provides a fine tale that cleverly blends history with the present (a trademark she is known for - see LUCIFER'S CROWN).

Perchance to Dream and Other Stories
Michael A. Stackpole
Five Star
ISBN: 1594141495 $25.95, 340 pp.

This sixteen story collection runs the gamut of speculative fiction from fantasy to sci fi to horror and a few points in between. The tales with the title exception can be found in other publications dating back to 1991, but not in one place. The title, Perchance to Dream is a new story that takes place in the DragonCrown War universe; the superb tale is written from hints and other references in the books that make up that realm. The anthology also includes a 1992 rewrite of a 1983 Marek-Rais tale, "Wind Tiger". The tales show the range of skills that Michael A. Stackpole has as each contribution is well written and entertaining and would be a fine short story collection even without the DragonCrown War Alexia's Dream Raid tale. That new tale enhances a strong compilation that fans of the author will appreciate and newcomers will seek his novels.

The Traynor Legacy
David Stinson
Five Star
ISBN: 1594142858 $25.95

The injuries in Viet Nam ended his military career, but former Brigade Commander Jonathan Traynor is not ready to go desk side. He has a concept for a different type of human Intel, but no one listens to a veteran whose better years have passed. That is no one until his college roommate Sandy Colburn is named Director of the CIA. Sandy buys Jon's pitch of a covert operation to handle affairs where the government cannot afford a trace of a taint. Jon recruits his best officer Hackler Staley as his agent. Almost three decades later, their partnership a success, Hackler is nearing retirement. He completes a mission, but someone betrayed him. He has been caught by the enemy, but wonders just who his foes are. Could Traynor the man he trusted for years have betrayed him as a Cold War relic liability? Or is it someone else whose secrets he learned back in Viet Nam when he obtained evidence that Air Force Lieutenant Robert McGowan attempted murder, but won a Silver Star for his action; McGowan is running for President and nothing must stand in his way. This is an intriguing political espionage thriller that grips the audience the moment that Hackler is abducted at the French airport and never slows down until the final courtroom drama is played out. Hackler is an interesting protagonist whose twenty-eight years in the cold deserve their own tales. His efforts to learn who wants him eliminated serve as a counterpoint to McGowan's run for the Oval office. Though the plot seems a bit over the top, readers will enjoy David Stinson's exciting tale.

Odysseus on the Rhine
Edward S. Louis
Five Star
ISBN: 1594142815 $25.95, 235 pp.

Odysseus is home after fighting in the Trojan War and battling with gods, monsters, and the supernatural. He and his faithful wife Penelope celebrate the wedding of their oldest son, but it is a bittersweet reunion because they both know she is dying. After Penelope dies, Odysseus feels restless and wants to go on an adventure; the gods heed his call and send him a vision of a blond haired woman in the Northlands. Several defeated Trojans also make their way to the Northlands and defeated the local tribes. The Trojans have created a new empire that is expanding. Odysseus and several Trojan War vets, their sons and even Achilles' grandson head north to stop the Trojans. On the sea voyage, they fight hostile enemies, make peace with Poseidon, and listen to Athena as they help the tribes with their advanced technology. Ultimately Odysseus must find the blond female who will teach him there is more to life than battle and killing. Displaying guts, chutzpah, or lunacy, Edward S. Louis creates the further adventures of Odysseus following up on his Homeric role with the thousand ships, the burning of the towers, and the "gift" horse. Homer would agree that Mr. Louis stayed true with his original persona of the legendary Greek hero. The further adventures are exciting and well written as Odysseus turns from restless warrior to contented royal advisor.

The Butterfly Garden
Annette Blair
Five Star
ISBN: 1594143145 $26.95, 294 pp.

In 1883 Walnut Creek, Ohio, partially ostracized midwife Sara Lapp rushes to help Abby Zuckerman give birth for the fourth time in four years. However, Abby's spouse Mad Adam refuses to allow her to see his wife. Instead he tells her to take his four daughters with her. Adam believes that his children would be better off with Sara, who agrees to temporarily watch the children once she learns that Abby died birthing their fourth daughter. A few weeks later, Adam falls hurting himself. Sara and his four children move in to nurse him over his protestations. Adam fears that he will hurt his daughters just like his father abused him. As he begins to meet his children and become acquainted with Sara, he falls in love with the five females who have disrupted his life. When Bishop Weaver insists they marry, Adam wonders if Sara could learn to love him, which has already happened now that she knows he is not mad or a beast as he cherishes his children. Annette Blair writes a wonderfully insightful Amish historical romance starring two intriguing lead characters and four precocious little girls. The story line focuses on relationships as Mad Adam fears that he will prove a chip off the old block and abuse his daughters while Spinster Sara courageously confronts him and his phobia. Fans who appreciate a deep look at a different lifestyle will enjoy THE BUTTERFLY GARDEN and THEE, I LOVE for their deep look at the Amish through the eyes of the key cast members.

Death of a Prince
Susan Baker
Five Star
ISBN: 1594142688 $25.95, 293 pp.

In Galveston, the police arrest Kitty Fulton in the murder of her father, attorney Phillip Parker, who fell from a balcony. Kitty hires former prosecutor turned defense lawyer Sandra Salinsky to defend her. Sandra quickly realizes that his client had numerous motives including a vast inheritance and had the means and opportunity to push her father following a party the night before. The case is personal for Sandra as her mother and partner was the victim's best friend and her boyfriend his legal partner. Making the case more complicated for Sandra is that her former friend police Lieutenant Dennis Truman heads the investigation and he still considers her a turncoat for changing sides so he is uncooperative. Sandra quickly learns that those who attended the party at Phillip's home tell diverse stories of what happened that evening. Though the case that no nonsense prosecutor Edgar Saul lays out seems open and shut, Sandra believes Kitty is innocent, but to prove this seems impossible. This entertaining legal thriller grips the audience more for the almost incestuous ties between the defendant, her defense team, and the prosecution-police side. The story line is action-packed, but is character driven and the heroine realizes that as she digs deeper into life of the deceased the more personal it feels. Fans of a fine mystery will appreciate Susan Baker's delightful DEATH OF A PRINCE.

A Little Learning is a Murderous Thing
Lou Allin
Five Star
ISBN: 159414253X $25.95, 281 pp.

Copper University Victorian Literature Professor Maddie Temple always looks forward to the start of a new school after the summer vacation. However, this year her enthusiasm is a bit tempered by the demands of Flo Andrews, the empty department coordinator, who prefers to administer discipline than teach and the rants and rage of the Chair Malcolm Driscoll over the money spent (and his mind wasted) on SWINC, designed to help the handicap. However, the first day turns deadly when an "A" student falls from a library window in what looks like a suicide. Not long afterward, Maddie finds her boss dying in his home. While the police believe that Flo, coveting Malcolm's job, is the prime suspect in what turns out to be a deadly poisoning, Maddie thinks otherwise. Temporarily the chair, she makes her own inquires into both deaths wondering if a SWINC supporter decided to eliminate a vocal influential opponent and where the tie to the dead student lies. This interesting academic amateur sleuth mystery hooks the audience once they see how frustrating teaching at a university can be even without murder. The story line moves forward at a fast pace when Maddie decides to prove that her despicable nitpicking peer Flo could not have killed the chair although she has a clear motive and opportunity. Lou Allin provides a fabulous look at university life in Upper Michigan inside a fine who-done-it.

Dead Run
P.J. Tracy
ISBN 0399152466 $23.95, 352 pp.

Deputy Sharon Mueller, on loan to the FBI, asks two Monkeewrench computer software company partners Grace McBride and Annie Belinky to drive to Green Bay from Minneapolis to help the police use their new software designed especially for criminal apprehension. On their way Sharon convinces them to make a quick stop at a place where she wants to show them something unique. They are in a deserted area when Grace immediately realizes something is wrong in the town of Four Corners and the area surrounding it. There are no people, animals or sounds of life except for men dressed in soldiers' uniforms setting up a roadblock keeping everyone out. These soldiers know Grace, Annie and Sharon are in the area and have orders to kill them on sight but these women aren't easy to murder and lead the men on a merry chase until they come up with a plan to get out of the area. The other two members of Monkeewrench, Sharon's wannabe lover, and law enforcement officials seek the trio so they can find out what these men are doing and put a stop to it. The soldier who are up against the Monkeewrench gang literally believe the words in the Declaration of Independence "to provide new guards for their security" since the government fails to do so. Tracy makes readers wonder if these soldiers are misguided patriots or the terrorists they want to annihilate. There is a very important political message embedded in this fascinating thriller one the government should heed if it doesn't want another revolution to explode on American soil. This refreshing novel stars protagonists trying their best to stop a horrible catastrophe from happening.

Karen Robards
ISBN 0399152806 $24.95, 432 pp.

On Pawleys Island off the coast of South Carolina, television reality reporter Nicole Sullivan of Twenty-Four Hours investigates is doing a reenactment of the murder of teenager Tara Mitchell and the disappearance of her two best friends who were supposed to have a sleepover together. Nobody has lived in the house since the murder for very long because the tenants felt they were residing with the ghosts of the dead girls. During the filming, one of the technical people Kenen Wise is murdered in almost the same way that the teen was killed over a decade ago. Nicky investigates the crime which causes her to come into conflict with chief of police Joe Franconi. Even though they are working opposite sides of the murder investigation, the cop and the reporter fall in love, an emotion neither wants. Nicky sees ghosts and Joe is haunted by his guardian angel Brian who he knew when he worked vice in Trenton New Jersey. Joe thinks he's going crazy and Nicky believes in ghosts including Joe's because she sees him but it is up to the two protagonists to find the killer because the spirits don't reveal their insider information. Karen Robards is one of the best writers of romantic suspense available today. Fans of Tami Hoag, Iris Johansen and Kay Hooper will love SUPERSTITION, a fascinating romantic police procedural with supernatural elements that add an extra dimension to the story line. Nicky is a wonderful protagonist, a reporter in the tradition of Lois Lane who will do whatever is necessary to get her story. Ms. Robards always delivers a thrilling reading experience.

In the Company of Liars
David Ellis
ISBN 0399152474 $24.95, 384 pp.

Famous novelist Allison Pagone is on trial for the murder of lobbyist Sam Dillon, but she is not mounting any credible defense. Instead she is more worried about her ex-husband who bribed three state senators to pass a law that would allow the drug Divalpro to be put on the state's prior approved Medicaid drug list. She made a deal with federal agent Kat McCoy that she would allow the state to try her for murder if her ex-husband and daughter gain immunity from prosecution. Although Allison is protected as part of the deal, a terrorist from the Liberation Front kills her because they believe she knows that a doctor they are working with has developed a medicine that will kill millions. The reason they believe this is because her lover lobbyist Sam Dillon was going before the grand jury. They didn't know he had no idea about a terrorist plot but was going to testify about the bribery involving Allison's husband and daughter. Kat believes that if they capture the head of the Liberation Front Allison wouldn't have died in vain. This novel is told in reverse chronological order similar to the movie Memento, a writing technique that is brilliantly successful in David Ellis's capable hands. Even though readers know from the very first pages that Allison is murdered that adds suspense and enjoyment to this exciting thriller because although it looks like everyone's motive are clear-cut, as the story progresses readers will see that things are not as they appear. IN THE COMPANY OF LIARS demonstrates that some government operations are ugly and morally wrong regardless of the ends.

Trial by Fire
D.W. Buffa
ISBN 0399152814 $24.95, 304 pp.

Famous defense attorney Joseph Antonelli and Berkley law professor Justin Sinclair met on the talk show "The Bryan Allen Show", with lawyer Paula Constable and San Francisco assistant district attorney Daphne McMillan. There was a rapport between Antonelli and Justin from the start. Joseph represents all the goodness humanity has to offer while Justin admires the defense attorney and thinks of him as a defender of truth. It is to Joseph that Justin turns when he gets in legal trouble. Justin calls Joseph early one morning and asks him to come over to his house. When he arrives, he sees the butchered up body of Daphne there. Justin admits she spent the night in his house but he never killed her or heard any intruder in the house. Joseph knows Justin is innocent and agrees to be his lawyer but before the case can go to trial, it is played out in the media. Justin is found guilty and is sentenced to life without parole but Joseph is determined to prove that Daphne's abusive husband killed her and he goes to amazing lengths to see that justice prevails. D.W. Buffa is one of the few authors since perhaps Zola who can write a legal thriller and make it become a work of literary fiction that is quite exciting. The story of TRIAL BY FIRE is not about guilt or innocence or the death sentence but how a person's life can be decided in the court of public opinion enflamed by a J'accuse media of controversial shock television and radio shows. This work is haunting, memorable and will be considered a classic in the years to come.

Two Dollar Bill
Stuart Woods
ISBN: 0399152512 $25.95, 304 pp.

At Elaine's nightclub in Manhattan, lawyer Stone Barrington meets his new client Billy Bob Barnstormer. Stone doesn't understand why Billy Bob needs an attorney, but he gets his first inkling that this is the client from the nether regions when someone shoots at them while in a moving vehicle. Billy Bob stays at Stone's house for awhile floating a wad of cash including two dollar bills. When his latest client and houseguest vanish, Stone and his girlfriend District Attorney Tiffany Baldwin share some recreational sex. The next day on the Justice website, is a video of the DA and Stone having sex; another relationship of Stone's is also trashed. Besides the video, Billy Bob left behind a present for his host, the strangled body of a call girl. Stone does an internet search on his former guest only to find that Billy Bob has many aliases in varying corporations. The CIA want Stone to help them find Billy Bob who has stole weapons that terrorists will pay a great deal of money to get their hands on. The FBI wants Stone to help them find Billy Bob who has stolen money in his possession. The DA wants Stone to find Billy Bob not just because of the embarrassing video, but because he stiffed many people with his con games. Stone wants Billy Bob for personal reasons. Stuart Woods has created a fabulous hero who can turn from nebbish to dynamo when he feels someone threatens people he cares about. Stone does not know why Billy Bob targeted him, but he knows he must take precautions to stop this psychopath; alas his efforts fail and he becomes a hunter tracking his prey. Mr. Woods provides a delightful Barrington tale in which the enemy will fascinate readers with his outrageous behavior.

Mountain Peril
Tom Eslick
ISBN 0670033863 $24.95, 274 pp.

Climbers love to challenge New Hampshire's Mount Washington, New England's tallest mountain. When they get in trouble a search and rescue is mounted; one of the volunteers is high school teacher Will Buchanan. When it is thought a boy is lost on the mountain Will and others in SAR go looking for him but instead find the body of a dead woman. A month ago another woman was also murdered in roughly the same area. Will and his girlfriend Sheriff Laurie learn the deceased is Samantha Rayley, who used to hike and rock climb on Mount Washington but was caring for her son who has cancer and the bills are astronomical. The police think she came back to town to blackmail the father of her child into paying some of the medical bills. Suspicion falls on Mr. Carpenter who had an affair with her years ago. A search of his house finds Samantha's wallet, the gun that was used to shoot Laurie, a fair amount of pot and a pile of money. Not content to let the police take care of it, Will goes after Carpenter, but when his target has the chance to kill him he does not. Will reconsiders Carpenter's guilt and intends to find out who the real perpetrator is. The vivid and colorful description of the mountain makes it easy to understand how crimes can be committed in areas so isolated that the bodies are never discovered. The protagonist is a strong yet vulnerable hero whose love for Laurie is touching and is the reason he feels he has to personally find out who the killer is. Tom Eslick is a very visual writer; whose eye catching MOUNTAIN PERIL would make a great movie.

The Boy I Loved Before
Jenny Colgan
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312331983 $13.95

Thirty something accountant Flora Scurrison seems to have it all making plenty of money though the hours seem endless and having a nice boyfriend Oliver who treats her well. So Flora wonders why life seems unfulfilling and tasteless. At the wedding of her best friend Tashy, Oliver proposes. Instead of leaping for joy, Flora wishes she could start over again. To her shock, something magical or a curse occurs; Flora finds herself as a high school sixteen year old, but not back in time. It is still the Bush Junior period, not the Reagan era and Tashy is still getting married next month. Tashy and Oliver are in their thirties though they recognize the sixteen years old Flora. Over the next month Flora relives her teens, but will need to decide between thirty-two and sixteen when Tashy says I do. THE BOY I LOVED BEFORE is a refreshing chick lit tale with a few twists that bring an entertaining uniqueness to the story line. Similar in some respects to Peggy Sue Got Married with a Fountain of Youth twist as Jenny Colgan's heroine does not go back in time only in age; Flora's reliving her school days is amusing to follow as she brings adult knowledge with her. Chick lit fans will enjoy this humorous entry that is based on something many people dream of: a second chance at youth with the knowledge of experience.

The Headmaster's Wife
Jane Haddam
St. Martin's
ISBN 0312313144 $24.95, 384 pp.

Mark DeAvecca is a first year student at Windsor Prep but isn't feeling well; his hands shake, he hallucinates and has memory loss. Everyone on the campus assumes he is doing drugs because his roommate Michael Feyre is a drug dealer. One night he thinks he sees somebody lying down on the ground but when he goes to investigate nobody is there. Worried about his health, he calls his mother's friend, former FBI agent Gregor Demarkian. Gregor notices right away that Mark is not himself but he doesn't believe he's taking drugs. He takes him to his hotel for a meal and some sleep and when Mark wakes up he returns to the school. When Gregor goes to find him, he sees Mark convulsing on the floor. He calls 911 and after some tests are made they learn he is suffering from caffeine and arsenic poisoning. They don't know who gave it to him or who wants him dead but Gregor thinks it is linked to the "suicide" death of his roommate. Gregor leads the local police in the direction he believes is the right one to catch the perpetrators. Jane Haddam has written another fantastic Gregor Demarkian mystery only in this book his role is more of an observer than an active participant. Gregor is more concerned with his lover's revelation to his offhand comment about getting married and he uses the crimes as a way of escaping from Bennis's odd mood. The HEADMASTER'S WIFE is filled with eccentric and oddball characters, with secrets to hide. Gregor's job is to figure out which one is desperate enough to kill to keep the secret buried.

Too Much Drama
Debra Phillips
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312305265 $12.95, 304 pp.

In an exclusive part of Los Angeles, Adeena LeBeau decides that she needs her daughters married starting with the oldest, Donneeka. Adeena shows up unannounced at Neeka's home with successful trucking company owner Braxton Dupree. He may be a handsome thriving player but she remembers him as "Yuck Boy" when they lived two doors down as kids in Compton. Though attracted to Braxton, Neeka rejects him because she is weary of her mother interfering in her life. Braxton pursues Neeka and soon they begin an affair that he wants public, but she demands kept in the shadows so her mother will not know. As they fall in love, Braxton wants more from their relationship, but Neeka insists they remain hidden as anything with him means a loss of freedom since he is tied to her mother. Neeka plans to declare her independence by humiliating her magnolia steel mother at a church banquet honoring Adeena although that will cost her Braxton and perhaps even a hurt mother. TOO MUCH DRAMA is an amusing contemporary romance starring a male protagonist everyone would want and a self-centered selfish woman who seems superficial especially because she uses Braxton as a tool to declare her independence at any cost. The story line is well written with a strong support cast especially her mother and to a lesser degree her siblings. However, readers will not like the "me-me" Neeka as she uses the likable Braxton (in comedic scenarios) and is unappreciative of her mother's efforts to improve the life of her children though admittedly Adeena can be a terror. Contemporary fans will enjoy this humorous tale hoping that Neeka will learn THE HIGH PRICE OF A GOOD MAN.

All the Dead Feathers
David J. Walker
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312334540 $24.95, 336 pp.

When she was younger Kirsten's uncle Father Michael Dugan helped her through personal problems. Now he has troubles having his name appear on a list of priests who allegedly abused their positions of authority; someone plans to execute those on the list. Kirsten, owner of the Chicago-based private detective firm Wild Onion, Ltd, plans to stop the killer from harming her uncle accused of sex with a seventeen year old minor female. Her friend lawyer Dugan does not hold Father Michael in the same regard as Kirsten. When she agrees to help her uncle and the other condemned priests, all locked away though the evidence has not yet proven the charges in all cases, Dugan knows he will do likewise. Kirsten develops a short list of probable threats, but when the menace targets Kirsten, she feels she knows the identity of the priesthood killer. Now she must stop him and prove she is right although the FBI wants her off the case and her husband remains oblivious that she is in the eye of the storm. Readers will enjoy this strong cat and mouse murder mystery because of the antics of Kirsten who though her uncle has crumbled from his exalted spot, will still be there for him because he was there for her when she needed someone, which bewilders Dugan. Although the tertiary characters like the Feds and to a degree the culprit are stereotypes, the lead pair, her spouse, Father Michael, and several other accused priests make a wonderful cast. Fans will enjoy this modern day priestly version of the List of Adrian Messenger.

G.H. Ephron
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312335954 $23.95

The bomb exploded near a Harvard law school building killing several people including student Mary Alice Boudreaux. The law student had been assisting battered Jackie Kelvinski with ending her marriage and getting an injunction against her abusive husband Joe. Jackie has no doubt that Joe killed these people to get at her counselor and to warn her others will die if she persists though her hired private investigator Anne Squires says that most likely will not come to pass. A second bomb explodes at a Cambridge courthouse killing more people. Neuropsychiatrist Peter Zak would have been part of the body count except that he was late for an appointment at the courthouse. He wonders if he was the target. Deliberate evidence left behind by the bomber connects the two deadly incidents insisting more will follow. Detective Sergeant Joseph MacRae leads the investigation in which he obtains Peter's reluctant and somewhat frightened help with profiling the culprit, but denies any assistance to Anne who worries her client will return to her husband so that no one else dies. Zak's latest mystery is an interesting police procedural because those "fortunate" to survive believe they were the target even though no evidence exists to sustain their claim. The story line contains a terrific investigative tale starting several strong characters especially Peter, who is frightened and wants to hide, but does the right thing anyway. Team Ephron provides a wonderful tale in which even those still living are victims consumed with GUILT that not only did they survive, but they were probable cause.

Mad Cow Nightmare
Nancy Means Wright
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312331339 $23.95, 256 pp.

Nola is recovering from brain surgery in a Toronto hospital when her significant other Ritchie forces her to leave and go to Ruth Wilmarth's Upstate New York dairy farm to talk to his brother. Darren. Apparently Darren has left his Uncle Tormey's Tonawanda farm to work as a hired hand for the summer at Ruth's spread. Nola left the hospital without being released and a patient died there from Creutzfeldt Jekob disease, a form of mad cow disease that people can catch from infected food. The hospital wants Nola to return so they can test her, but she wants to get her son away from Tormey first. Darren, who is Colm's cousin and Ruth's lover, refuses to go back to his uncle's farm despite his brother's pleading. Ritchie turns violent even towards Nola, but soon is found dead. Everyone except Ruth thinks Nola killed him; Ruth, though she has problems with the USDA confiscating her herd, tries to prove Nola is innocent although her lover Colm is on the police force and convinced Nola killed Ritchie. Torney is a first class villain who has terrorized Nola, Ritchie, and Darren using an inheritance as a lever to control the trio. When they revolt, he becomes angry and unstable and there is no telling what he will do. Ruth is furious with Tormey because he sold her claves that might have mad cow disease. There are plenty of folks with a motive to kill Torney, but fans will keep reading to learn who performed the deed.

He Loves Lucy
Susan Donovan
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312992335 $6.99, 352 pp.

Pittsburgh transplant Lucy Cunningham came up with the marketing campaign for her new client Miami's Palm Club. An overweight woman would receive personal health nutrition, and fitness training from a professional. For every pound she loses up to 100 pounds, she pockets 1K, the trainer gets matching funds. The pair potentially could make 100K each. Her boss Stephan Sherrod at Sherrod and Thoms selects Lucy to serve as the guinea pig whose success or failure will be aired monthly on local TV; Steve chose Lucy because he believes she will fail and he owes the Palm Club rival Goldstein a debt.. The Palm Club chooses their most popular trainer hunk Theo Redmond, though the owner knows when he succeeds he will leave to complete law school. Lucy is attracted to Theo from the start, but figures someone as frumpy as her has no chance. Her choking at first sight further makes her feel like a dud. Theo in turn finds his student dedicated and refreshingly humorous and honest. He begins falling in love with her, but as the weight comes off in spite of her well meaning parents, he knows she will not believe him unless he can register his proof. This is an enjoyable contemporary romance that stars a wisecracking female protagonist and "Theo-dorable" who falls in love with her even when she is overweight. Lucy is a humorous delight whether she reflects on herself, her hunk, her family or her psychiatrist. Though the infidelity by her boss seems unnecessary and foolish as this would hurt his firm even if Lucy takes the hit, fans will enjoy this fine look at one year of hard work to find love.

Unfinished Business
Brenda Jackson
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312989989 $6.99, 320 pp.

When she was thirteen and upset, family friend Alexander Maxwell gave Christy Madaris a pinky ring and promised to one day marry her. Wearing his ring since, Christy graduates from college and throws herself at Alex; he rejects her saying he was not serious back then and only said so to make her feel better. Christy is mortified and vows to move on with her life; she returns the ring she wore for years back to Alex. Three years later, Alex realizes he made a mistake and misses Christy although he refuses to believe that he could love anyone. When she relocates from Houston to Cincinnati as a reporter, he sees an opportunity to correct his error. However, he must deal with the legendary stubborn pride of a Madaris. He makes headway by helping her with an investigation into the disappearance several years ago of a young woman, but though her body says yes, her heart says no. This is an intriguing romantic suspense thriller that fans will enjoy as Alex goes out of his way including taking his first vacation as a CEO of a security firm to regain what he lost. Though his incessant I'm not in love would turn 10cc red, the relationship between Alex and Christy is terrific to follow. A rape date scenario does ease Alex's efforts, but also adds a modicum of reality to the mix that will have readers also wonder about paranormal intervention attempting to prevent the abduction and selling of young females.

Full Bloom
Janet Evanovich and Charlotte Hughes
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312934300 $7.99, 352 pp.

In Beaumont, South Carolina, Annie Fortenberry is trying to prepare her historical mansion turned B&B into a wedding reception for her best friend Jamie Swift and millionaire Max Holt. Her handyman Erdle Torney who came with the place she inherited from her grandmother has failed to do his job so she loses her temper and goes after him with a rolling pin. Visitor Wes Bridges gets in the way and is knocked out. A gardener borrowed from her neighbor finds human skeletal remains in an isolated area where foliage has grown. The victim is Annie's spouse Charles who allegedly ran away several years ago. In fact, Wes is a private investigator working for Charles' mother to prove that Annie lost her temper and harmed her son. As the police suspect Annie as the killer, Wes believes she is innocent, but wonders if that is because he really likes her when she is not holding a rolling pin. This amusing romantic who-done-it has the audience laughing from the moment Wes finds out how insane the Peach B&B is that is after he awakens from a bonking and swallowing a horse tranquilizer given by a retired vet. The story line gets even zanier, but never loses focus on the murder investigation handled by the cops and Wes separately. FULL BLOOM is a strong comedic romantic mystery that readers will want more plums from Janet Evanovich and Charlotte Hughes.

Company Man
Joseph Finder
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312319169 $24.95, 528 pp.

In Fenwick, Michigan, Fairfield Equity has taken over Stratton Corporation. The new owners order Stratton CEO Nick Conover to lay off 5000 employees, which makes the local resident the most detested person in the area; his nickname, "the Slasher". On top of his pressure at work, Nick struggles with the recent accidental death of his wife Laura and raising two children alone. However, someone is stalking Nick and his children, entering his home, and recently upped the ante by brutally killing his family dog. His friend, Stratton security chief, Eddie Rinaldi, installs a burglar alarm that leads to Nick killing an intruder. Eddie convinces a reluctant Nick to hide the corpse. Meanwhile Detective Audrey Rhimes investigates the homicide and its links to Nick, who is already unglued with his neighbors' feelings, his wife's death, his distraught children, and now a murder. Worse he does not trust Fairfield to destroy him as culpable fodder for the masses. This is a terrific thriller that focuses on the gimmicks and misdeeds of the modern day corporation as much as it does on a police investigation. The story line is action-packed, but insures the audience understands how much Nick's world is collapsing. Although why Nick would hide the body when he was in the right seems stretched for a sensible albeit beleaguered guy, fans will want to find out what happens to this COMPANY MAN under siege from family, friends, cops, and employers.

Dead Reckoning
Patricia Hall
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312321538 $23.95, 288 pp.

Michael Thackeray and his team learn of a John Doe murder at the same time Bradfield Gazette reporter Laura Ackroyd intercedes when a mob of young Brits assault two Pakistani women. Though appreciative for Laura's aid, the younger Pakistani tells her he doesn't want the police called as they do nothing since 9/11 New York. Meanwhile the Yorkshire town is stunned with the news that the prime employer Earnshaw's Mill is closing with mass layoffs expected. Michael's case goes nowhere as even identifying the victim has been stalled while Laura begins looking into the plight of the Asian immigrants since 9/11 including lack of action by Michael and his law enforcement peers. The mill rumors have led to deeper racial unrest between the long time locals and the new foreigners with the British Patriotic Party using the tension for political advantage. When Frank Earnshaw fails to hear from his son Simon, who quit mill management to return to school, he notifies Michael. The corpse has been identified with two isolated groups sharing the same community blaming the other for the homicide and other woes. The conflict between the two racial groups is brilliantly depicted so that the audience feels the fears and concerns of both especially as Laura finds racial and religious bias and abuse, but is rewarded by being considered a traitor to her patriotic roots. The who-done-it adds tension, but the killer's motive seems tame almost inane especially in light of the plight facing the Bradford, Yorkshire townsfolk. DEAD RECKONING is a terrific Thackeray-Ackroyd entry that plays stronger as a social commentary of the times than as a police procedural although Michael does his usual bang up investigation.

Peter Bowen
St. Martin's
ISBN 031227730X $22.95, 208 pp.

Gabriel Du Pre meets with his Aunt Pauline at the Toussaint Saloon. She tells him her latest husband Badger has gone missing for two weeks and that the FBI is somehow involved. She wants him to call his FBI friend to find out what happened to her spouse. Du Pre does exactly that and finds Badger was caught coming across the Canadian border with ten thousand valium tablets. Badger agreed to infiltrate a white supremacist and the charges against him will be greatly reduced. There is heavy gambling at these races and the FBI supplied him with marked money that turned out to be counterfeit. The group killed Badger but the Feds still wants someone to infiltrate the urban theorist group. Du Pre has his granddaughter ride a horse in the races in the hopes that he will be accepted by the group and learn who the real leaders are. It is a dangerous situation but Du Pre has it under control until the leader escapes during an FBI raid. Du Pre is determined to be the one to find him no matter how long it takes. Du Pre is a unique, independent and ageless protagonist who goes his own way and doesn't let anyone stop him from doing what he wants. It is lucky for law enforcement that he is on the side of Justice because he would make an untouchable crook. Peter Bowen does for Montana what Tony Hillerman does for New Mexico. Perhaps the most delightful character in this novel is STEWBALL, the horse that is in love with Du Pre's granddaughter Lourdes.

Murder on the Salsette
Conrad Allen
St. Martin's
ISBN 0312307934 $23.95, 336 pp.

George Porter Dillman and Genevieve Masefield are private detectives for the P&O cruise line. After working together on several cases they fell in love and were married by the captain of the Marmora as it sailed to Australia. After honeymooning in Bombay they are working on the Salsette which is sailing to the Aden Protectorate. The purser assures them they will have a quiet cruise since there is relatively no crime on the Salsette. That statement proves false almost immediately when a woman passenger has her jewels stolen from her unlocked cabin while she rendezvoused with her lover. Three more passengers have their purses stolen when they are on deck, sleeping or talking to other passengers. Genevieve is in charge of finding the thief as George concentrates on finding out who murdered Dudley Nevin, an Englishman who was sent to India after a scandal in England. In fact, the person, Dudley tried to harm is also a passenger on the ship and George is waiting for the right moment to confront him. Although the year is 1909, sea cruises have not changed much in the last ninety plus years. There are still class divisions and cliques and the crew is sometimes treated as serfs by some of the passengers. The two mysteries are well crafted, especially the theft sub-plot. Readers are going to be shocked when they discover who the thief is. The murder mystery is also well done although there are hints that reveal the identity of the killer midway through the storyline. Conrad Allen has written an entertaining and enjoyable sea cruise mystery.

Sick of Shadows
Marion Chesney
St. Martin's
ISBN 0312329644 $22.95, 224 pp.

Her father is an earl so Lady Rose is firmly ensconced in polite society, a situation she abhors because women have no freedom and are passed from their father to their husband. Lady Rose circumvents the system by arranging a pretend engagement with Captain Harry Cathcart so her parents won't try to find suitors for her or send her to India for a husband. One night at a ball, Lady Rose meets country girl Dolly Tremaine who seems miserable. Dolly hates the city and wants to return to the country but her socially ambitious parents want her to find a wealthy aristocratic husband. Feeling sorry for the girl, Rose arranges to meet her in Hyde Park but when she goes to the place they were supposed to meet, she finds Dolly knifed to death. Believing that Dolly confided in her and she has an idea who killed her, someone tries to kill Lady Rose. When the assassin is killed, they find out he was hired by someone to murder Rose which means her life is still in danger. Marion Chesney, author of the Hamish Macbeth and Agatha Raisin series under the pseudonym M.C. Beaton, has written an entertaining and charming tale. Rose is not the typical aristocrat but a woman who sees the class divisions and tries to help the poor. She refuses to let the restrictions her parents impose on her get in the way of doing what she really wants. The romance between Lady Rose and the captain is funny because both constantly misunderstand the other and that gets in the way of the feelings that are growing between them. SICK OF SHADOWS is a fantastic Edwardian amateur sleuth mystery.

The Moai Murders
Lyn Hamilton
ISBN 0425200442 $22.95, 272 pp.

Lara McClintoch, co-owner with her ex-husband Clive, of an upscale antiques store in Toronto, has been to some very exotic places but has never really gone on a vacation. Her best friend Moira Meller who is also Clive's girlfriend, convinces her to go on a real vacation to Easter Island also known as Ropa Nui. The island is famous for its Moai statues several feet high and facing inland several resting on a base known as an ahu. Nobody knows who carved them or how they were made but the Ropa Nui Moai congress meet on the island and accept Moira and Lora as members. A native who has visions says that one of the group will die shortly on a specific spot. This actually happens but Lara sees evidence that the member was murdered not accidentally killed by a horse. When the star of the Congress, who made a very important find to back up his belief that the native language came from Chile, is murdered, the police are forced to act. The daughter of another group member lies in a coma and nobody knows why. Lora thinks that all these events are linked and she goes his extraordinary lengths to prove her theory and save the remaining members of the group. After reading THE MOAI MURDERS, readers will have a definite picture in the mind's eye what Easter Island actually looks like, what the natives are like and who people want to vacation there. Lyn Hamilton has written a colorful, exciting and totally absorbing amateur sleuth novel that will be enjoyed by readers who like a complicated and complex who-done-it and armchair travelers.

A Date with the Other Side
Erin McCarthy
ISBN: 0425202674 $5.99

In Cuttersville, Ohio, Shelby Tucker leads a Haunted House tour when they wake up Boston Macnamara in the White House. Shelby's grandmother Jessie failed to tell her that she rented the haunted house to the naked hunk. Jessie informs Boston that the lease he signed allows the owner to enter at anytime. Already turning purple in exasperation, he turns green when he sees a big man with Shelby. During the next tour, Shelby and Boston become locked inside the parlor unable to open the door or any windows. Jessie figures the ghosts are on her side in matchmaking Shelby and Boston. Her ex husband Danny Tucker breaks an outside window to rescue Shelby. On a subsequent tour, the ghosts lock Shelby and Boston inside his bedroom. They kiss and begin to make love until the door suddenly opens. Shelby stops the kissing and caressing, and leaves. Word travels that ghosts are on the tour. Crowds arrive expecting to see them. Shelby asks Boston to be around for her tours because he is the catalyst. He agrees as he and Shelby are in love; Danny tells her that when "Big City" leaves her, he will be there for her, but nice Danny is no longer enough. The interesting support cast especially the ghosts enhance the relationship between the strong lead couple so that the audience receive a wonderful paranormal romance. The story line is fun to follow as the ghosts and Jessie play matchmaker however, no explanation is provided for why the ghosts frequent Cuttersville. Still fans will appreciate this otherworldly romance and want a sequel starring Danny who is too nice not to have a woman love him.

Chamomile Mourning
Laura Childs
ISBN 0425202518 $21.95, 336 pp.

In Charleston, South Carolina, Theodosia Browning's Indigo Tea Shop is a smashing success and is now very much one of the in places. Theodora's contribution to the first Poet's Tea is moved indoors to the Heritage Society when the weather turns nasty. During a presentation given by Drayton Conneley, a shot rings out and a man falls off the balcony and lands on Theodosia's cake. The killer escapes and the gala obviously ended early. She was the last person to see auction house owner Roger Crispin alive when she brought him a cup of tea in the balcony. The police question her and Gracie Venable who is just about to open a millenary story near the Indigo Tea Shop. Haley another co-worker of Theodosia's is friendly with the woman and is upset that the police are looking at her as a suspect because she was having an affair with the much married Roger. His wife, a mover and Shaker in Charleston, is putting pressure on the police to look at Grace as the killer, leaving it to Theodosia and company to find the real killer just like they have five times before. The protagonist is one of the most realistic and likeable characters to grace the pages of a mystery novel. Her investigative techniques are all within the realm of possibility so readers feel that anyone could do what Theodosia is doing. This delightful amateur sleuth mystery is entertaining and keeps the audience interested from the time the victim falls into the heroine's cake. Laura Childs knows how to create the ambience that makes this series so special because one of the main characters is the city of Charleston.

Pretty Poison
Joyce and Jim Lavene
ISBN 0425202992 $6.50, 272 pp.

Peggy Lee, who lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, is a widow and a botanist who teaches part time at Queens College and owns the Potting Shed. One fall day her bicycle bumps into Steve's car, Saturn Vue, she adopts a dog the size of a small horse and she finds the body of a dead man in the warehouse space in the back of her store. His head was bashed in by a shovel and when the police are called, another shop owner tells them about the homeless man who hangs around the mall. Peggy has befriended the man, giving him food and money and doesn't think he could have killed anyone. When the homeless man Mr. Cleever is arrested they find the victim's wallet and shoes in his possession. One of Peggy's clerks, Keely Prinz was having an affair with the victim who was a married man. She was pregnant with his child and also had a motive to kill him. If Peggy finds evidence that will free Mr. Cleever, suspicion will fall on Keely. Peggy with the help of Steve who makes his interest in her plain, decades to investigate so that both suspects will be cleared of all suspicions. Joyce and Jim Lavene have written a fantastic amateur sleuth mystery where the protagonist goes to outrageous lengths to prove the two suspects innocent. Peggy proves life can be rich and rewarding after fifty and the beginning of a romance with a sexy younger man adds an extra ingredient to a charming story. This mystery will appeal to men and women of all ages as PRETTY POISON is a great tale.

The Spice Box
Lou Jane Temple
ISBN 0425200434 $21.95, 320 pp.

Irish Immigrant Bridget Henry has not had an easy life. Her family was forced to leave Ireland during the potato famine by their English landlord; her mother died on their ship while en route to America; and when they finally arrive, she and her younger sister have to survive on their own because their father disappears for months at a time. They both get sent to the orphanage where Bridget learns to be a cook and she lands a job at the home of wealthy department storeowner Isaac Gold. On her first day on the job she finds the body of Mr. Gold's son in the dough box. He was shot twice in the chest and the police are so incompetent Mr. Gold decides to find his son's killer with Bridget's help. While they are chasing down every clue, Bridget is also looking to solve the mystery of her sister's disappearance, a quest that she can finally do now that she has Mr. Gold to help her. This is one book that should not be read on an empty stomach because the mouth-watering descriptions of the food that the chefs serve to the Gold family will make the reader very hungry. Bridget and Mr. Gold are a great pair of amateur sleuths and readers get a look at life in New York City during the Civil War. The division between upstairs and downstairs classes gives the reader a feel for what it was like to be a servant for the rich and powerful. Lou Jane Temple has written a delectable culinary historical mystery.

Delectable Mountains
Earlene Fowler
ISBN 0425202496 $23.95, 320 pp.

In San Celina, California Benni Harper has her hands full as the wife of the chief of police, curator of the local folk art museum, attending two church committees and being a participant for the heritage walk. Yet when her grandmother Dove asks her to help put together the children's church musical of Pilgrim's Progress she is unable to tell the woman who raised her no. At the same, Benni has unexpected company when her husband Gabe's cousin, Luis, drops in unexpectedly. Surprisingly, Benni has life under control until she finds the dead body of the church custodian Walt Adams. She notices immediately he was murdered by blunt force trauma to the head and nobody knows why the man who was kindness itself was murdered. Shortly thereafter, a valuable violin that is exhibited in the church is found to be a forgery. The original instrument is worth over a million dollars. Between the robbery and the murder Gabe has his hands full with Benni conducting her own parallel investigation because she thinks the two crimes are linked. Little does she know that before the perpetrators are revealed, she will put her own life at risk to save the innocents who are in harm's way. Earlene Fowler has written another exciting Benni Harper mystery but DELECTABLE MOUNTAINS is extra special. Readers, used to seeing Benni's thoughts, get inside the psyche of Gabe who must cope with two major crimes, a hostage situation, his wife's sleuthing, and the volatile relationship that exists between him and his cousin. The mystery is very cleverly designed so that it is impossible to figure out what is really going on even though there are solid clues sprinkled throughout the exhilarating storyline.

Murder Most Crafty
Edited by Maggie Bruce
ISBN: 0425202062 $21.95, 320 pp.

Though technological advances have made mass production not only much easier but customized so the phenomena of craft shops and shows around the country might seem like an anachronism but remain very popular. This fifteen short story collection anthology adds murders as the extra ingredient in the artistic crafts. The tales are top rate with each hooking the audience (and not just because the star is making a rug) as the reader seeks the pattern to the homicide. Fan favorites include China Bayles, Lili Marino, Betsy Devonshire, Rei Shimura, Catherine Levendeuer, etc. In other words, some of the craftier series sleuths star in these shorts. Each author provides a craft tip, but what make MURDER MOST CRAFTY worth reading are the latest appearances of some of our favorite detectives starring in fine tales.

The Siren of Solace Glen
Susan S. James
ISBN 0425202003 $6.99 308 pp.

In the small Maryland town of Solace Glen, life looks good for Flip. Her cleaning business is doing so well that she needs to hire another person just to keep up with requests and she is engaged to marry the love of her life, the town lawyer Tom. All she wants is for her fiancee is to set a wedding date which he keeps postponing using the completion of their new house as an excuse. Trouble arises for the town and Flip personally when the beautiful Stewart Lawton and her macro-millionaire father come to town. Stewart was being stalked in California by someone who left notes and handcuffs (as well as other things) in her home and car. Having spent time in Solace Glen, Stewart moves into Flip's house which she bought hoping to get away form the stress. However, the stalker follows her to the quaint town, calling her and leaving such gifts and even going so far as to killing one of the local residents. Flip starts investigating and almost loses her life when she discovers the identity of the killer. This delightful regional amateur sleuth mystery will tantalize readers with its red herrings, false trails and unexpected twists. The audience will feel sympathy for Stewart who is being emotionally and mentally tortured by a madman. Flip just wants to find the stalker so the victim can leave town and life can return to normal. Susan S. James has that siren's spark of a good writer.

Carrie Brown
ISBN: 0425200272 $14.00, 356 pp.

In 1939 Jewish tailor Arthur Henning accompanied by his wife, their son and their infant daughter barely escapes the Nazi invasion of his hometown of Vienna. He relocates in London, but ironically tragedy occurs about a year later when his spouse and daughter die during a Nazi air assault. In 1946 Arthur and his son Toby immigrate to the United States. In the New York City suburbs, he becomes a chauffeur to wealthy banker Mr. Duvall and his wife. However, Toby impregnates the Duval daughter Aggie, who refuses to reveal the identity of the father to her parents. Having no say, Aggie is sent to Mrs. MacCauley's house for unwed mothers. When the child is born, the baby is given away for adoption. Over the years the five participants increasingly feel betrayed by their loved ones. This character driven historical tale uses flashbacks to provide insight into war years and the beginning of the boomer era. The story line is cleverly designed so that the audience knows how the key quintet feels especially Arthur who believes that life is one big tragedy. Though quite dark in outlook fans of deep pessimistic mid twentieth century stories will want to be confined with Carrie Brown's gloomy tale.

Goodnight Sweetheart
Suzanne Simmons
ISBN: 0425201937 $6.99

Boston based lawyer Eric Law returns to his hometown of Sweetheart, Indiana to attend his brother's wedding. Currently he is heading back to the ceremony with his sibling's passport and airline ticket, when his Porsche breaks down. After a while Sydney St. John driving a BMW arrives. She lost her Chicago financial job for whistle-blowing and is coming home to Sweetheart. She recognizes Eric as her unrequited love from high school and gives him a lift; he persuades her to attend the ceremony. At her family home, Sydney is shocked that Eric is also there. He rented nearby space to stay while he oversees his honeymooning brother's law firm. Both agree to ignore one another although each secretly wonders how to achieve that since they are attracted to one another. Each thinks back to when Sydney flung herself at Eric in high school, but he rejected her. She thought she was too ugly for him, but instead he refused her because he feared how much he wanted her. Eric and Sidney keep seeing one another in spite of their pact. They are attracted to each other and when they kiss each is stunned by the impact. They soon enjoy sex with a humorous nutty fruity taste, but he will return to Boston and she will remain in Sweetheart unless he recognizes that he loves Sydney. Readers will enjoy this sweet love story starring a strong lead couple and fine support cast including several returning from the previous Indiana romance (see SWEETHEART, INDIANA). Although a harassment of Sydney subplot seems unnecessary and is resolved to easily, fans will enjoy this pleasant romance with a fruity nut flavor.

Truly a Wife
Rebecca Hagan Lee
ISBN: 0425201945 $6.99

In 1813, though he hates sailing Daniel is at sea near the French side of the Channel working as an undercover smuggler when shots are fired. Daniel is hit; on English soil he is sewed up, given whiskey to hide the pain and travels by coach to attend his mother's annual ball. Daniel's aide delivers the information they gathered to his partners the Free Fellows League. At the gala, his wound opens up. He dances a waltz with Miranda, who is extremely tall and strong so is able to help him make it to the coach. To protect her from scandal, the intoxicated Daniel convinces Miranda, who loves him, to marry him. They do via his connections before she takes him to property she owns. Miranda tends Daniel's wounds but when he recovers he forgot their marriage. They make love before he leaves to meet with his League friends. Miranda is heartbroken, but refuses to mention their marriage. She leaves him with the papers so that he can choose to acknowledge their nuptials or not. Daniel who fears his love for Miranda ponders how brave his beloved giantess is while wondering who in the Home Office betrayed him on his last mission. Miranda is an intriguing courageous heroine who freshens up the latest Free Fellows League Regency romance as women, not just Miranda, once again prove more than capable doers. The story line is exciting and is character driven, a trademark of this series (see BARELY A BRIDE, MERELY THE GROOM, and HARDLY A HUSBAND). Fans of the series and the sub-genre will appreciate the love story between the magnificent Miranda and the daring (except for his feelings for her) Daniel.

On Winding Hill Road
Diane Tyrrel
ISBN: 0425201953 $6.99

Sarah Logan flies from Santa Barbara to San Francisco to serve as a companion to thirteen years old May DeFalle. May's mom Lisa died last year in what was either an accident or suicide; her father Gatien is a Grand Prix driver away from home a lot. If Sarah thinks about the assignment, she would realize that the family starting with Lisa's sister Helene Browning wants her to be a surrogate mother to May. Sarah accepted the job because of the exorbitant salary and the incredible bonus if she stays a year. May is unhappy with the babysitter, but Sarah does her best to help the despondent teen who only perks up when her dad is in town. Sarah also begins looking into what happened to Lisa not because she suspects anything diabolical, but only to gain a better understanding of May's needs. As her inquiries begin to gel, Sarah wonders if murder occurred and could a cuckolded Gatien have killed his wife for cheating on him. She needs to know because she is falling in love with her prime suspect her employer. This entertaining gothic romance contains all the classic elements, but places them in modern day California with soccer playing teens and auto racing to counter an innocent heroine, a dark mansion, a brooding hero, and the suspicious death of his first wife. The story line is character driven as Sarah slowly falls in love with her employer who she believes killed his spouse. Fans of modern day gothic romantic suspense will enjoy the drive in, around, and ON WINDING HILL ROAD.

Sex, A Mystery
Fiona Quirina
ISBN: 0425200345 $13.00, 240 pp.

Lydia Quess has an MBA from Harvard and worked as Senior Vice President of International Marketing at a nameless Fortune 500 food conglomerate. However, having slept through the course on Business Ethics, Lydia blows the whistle on how the company's lucrative overseas baby formula was causing malnutrition. The company was fined and Lydia was unemployed and unqualified when she sought new executive work. Wanting to maintain her Manhattan lifestyle, Lydia obtains work from a friend, sex therapist Dr. Sylvie Kahn who sends clients her way. The position proves lucrative enabling Lydia to pay her share of the apartment she platonically shares with Father Paddy as her stable consistently shows up for sessions. However, Michael Peabody Linscott III of Tuesday appointment fame is murdered in Lydia's bed. The police assume Lydia killed her client as opportunity for anyone else to have committed the crime is very limited with a doorman on duty. Unable to sit back and take the hit, Lydia investigates the murder starting with learning more about Michael. SEX, A MYSTERY is a tremendous chick lit amateur sleuth romp that deftly handles a variety of social and personal issues with humor and intelligence. Lydia charms the audience as she provides an amusing Manhattan romp while seeking to prove her innocence, which she knows the man she saw flee the crime scene (for murder not bad sex) in the gray suit probably is one of her other clients. Fans of lighthearted with a serious undertone chic mysteries will enjoy Lydia's New York City joy ride.

Alice Thompson
ISBN 0425200205 $12.00, 160 pp.

Twenty-seven miles off the coast of Scotland lies the island that is the home to the Jacob's Rock Lighthouse. Cameron is the principal keeper of the lighthouse and he has been alone on the island so long that he is eagerly awaiting the boat that is bringing his new assistant. When Simon arrives, the two men quickly fall into a routine, which is broken when Simon rescues a young woman who has washed up on the rocks. When the woman regains consciousness, she has no memory of who she is or where she came from. The two men feed and clothe her and gradually she comes out of her apathetic state and takes notice of the world around her. She hears strange noises and constantly sees a young mulatto girl running around the island. Cameron insists she is imagining things and he keeps on telling her that until she is convinced that there is something evil on the island, something that Cameron is hiding from himself and her. Readers gradually get the feeling that there is something not quite right about the people who are living on Jacob's Rock. The shipwrecked woman comes to believe that the Principal Keeper does not want her to leave but she doesn't know why. There is a mystery about him that she intends to solve but there are other forces at work on the island that intend to have their way and there is nothing the amnesiac can do to stop them. Thus the audience receives an exciting gothic-like paranormal thriller that entertains from the moment the woman arrives on the rock.

Dead Man's Bones
Susan Wittig Albert
ISBN 0425200175 $23.95, 336 pp.

With revenues down at China Bayle's Thyme and Season Herb Shop, Ruby Wilcox's Crystal Cave New Age Store and their joint venture, The Thyme for Tea restaurant, both women are taking on additional jobs. Ruby has started the Party Thyme Catering Service and China is doing more customized garden planning to make ends meet. China also has to balance her personal life which includes a husband, her stepson Brian and assorted pets. In a cave Brian finds the skulls of two humans, who lived there over ten thousand years ago; the university sponsoring the dig is ecstatic. They are not so happy when Brian finds the body of a man that was murdered in the same location about a quarter of a century ago. The cold case heats up when the town's leading citizen Jane Oberman kills Hank Dixon in self-defense. Hank's father worked for the family for years. The sister state he broke into their home with a knife in his hand. China believes that killing and the discovery of the twenty-five year old skeleton are linked and plans to find what the two cases have in common. Susan Wittig Albert has written an entertaining and diabolically clever amateur sleuth mystery focusing on a heroine who can't keep away from on ongoing investigation. She is endearing loyal and smart enough to figure out the identity of the victim in the cave. Together with Ruby, there two women make Batman and Robin look like amateurs.

The Marble Kite
David Daniel
ISBN: 0312323514 $23.95

In Lowell, Massachusetts, private investigator Alex Rasmussen is enjoying his fourth date with Phoebe Kelly at a carnival. He is on the verge of winning her a stuffed animal when a scream occurs. Dropping the mallet, Alex rushes to the locale of the shriek only to find a small growing crowd surrounding a dead woman. The next day local attorney Fred Meecham informs Alex that the carnival owner Pop Sondry hired him to represent the prime suspect in last night's carnival murder Troy Pepper. The lawyer further explains that Pop is convinced that his employee is innocent. Fred hires Alex to make inquiries into Troy, the victim Flora Nunez, and other carnival employees. Alex puts aside his insurance work to conduct a field investigation into the murder of Flora. THE MARBLE KITE is an entertaining regional private investigative tale starring a delightful protagonist. Alex seems very realistic as he is a bit annoyed that his date was ruined just when he is just getting back into the scene having been divorced, waiting for a reconciliation and finally watching his ex remarry and have someone else's child. The who-done-it is cleverly devised so that the audience wonders why Pop thinks Troy is innocent as the circumstantial evidence points heavily towards him. David Daniel provides a fabulous murder mystery that will send newcomers seeking previous starring roles of Alex (see GOOFY FOOT).

The Nanny Murders
Merry Jones
ISBN 0312330383 $23.95, 336 pp.

Zoe Hayes lives in the Queen Village neighborhood of Philadelphia with her five year old adopted daughter Molly. It is an ethnic mixed neighborhood caught between gentrification and stagnation, a place where she knows most of her neighbors and feels secure. That security is destroyed the day Molly plays in the snow and finds a woman chopped off nail polished finger. The police think that the digit belongs to one of the nannies who have recently disappeared from the neighborhood. Detective Nick Stiles is in charge of the case and asks Zoe to look at the profile psychologist Beverly Gardner prepared. She believes that "The Nannynapper" is someone who lives or works in the neighborhood. She agrees to help out because as an art therapist for the mentally disturbed and familiarity with the neighborhood, she might have insights that Beverly missed. Little did she know that her decision would gain her a lover, become involved in a hostage situation, chased by a killer, and kidnapped by someone she thought of as a friend. Merry Jones' debut fiction thriller is absolutely fantastic, a novel with so many unexpected twists and turns that readers will feel like they are on a fast merry-go-round. This is a character driven who-done-it it with plenty of action so THE NANNY MURDERS will appeal to a wide range of readers. The protagonist seems realistic; the neighbor next door one might visit to borrow a cup of sugar (or for the Atkins crowd - a pack of calorie free sweetener) and stay for coffee because she is so friendly.

The Paperwhite Narcissus
Cynthia Riggs
ISBN 0312339836 $22.95, 224 pp.

On Martha's Vineyard, ninety two year old Victoria Trumbull is fired from her job at the Island Enquirer where she has been writing the West Tisbury column for over a half a century. Publisher Colley Jameson feels he can get someone to work the section cheaper. Shortly thereafter, he gets a fake obituary notice that he believes Victoria sent to him but she denies it vehemently. Instead the nonagenarian goes to work for the West Tisbury Grackle a one page broadsheet published by William Botts. When Colley's biggest advertiser is killed, a second obituary notice arrives. When one of his ex-wives gets shot, he receives a third obit. Colley hires Victoria to find out who the writer is even though she has increased the circulation of the Grackle forcing Mr. Botts, who wanted to do the paper as a retirement hobby, to hire more staff. When Colley's ex-wife is shot and then killed in the hospital by candy laced with cyanide is killed by candy laced with cyanide another obituary notice arrives. Victoria figures out who the obituary writer is but believes that person is not the killer. The last obituary notice happens when Colley's lawyer is murdered. The crime wave comes to a climax when the two suspects meet with Victoria because they need her help. The protagonist may be ninety-two but she has more energy than people half her age. Poor Mr. Botts didn't have a chance when Victoria changed his broadsheet into a sixteen pager with pictures and a staff of eight. The authorities think that none of the murders are linked but Victoria is determined to prove otherwise and ends up saving Colley's life when someone lures him into a trap. Cynthia Riggs has written a delightful cozy starring a likable protagonist.

The Nitrogen Murder
Camille Minichino
ISBN 0312333838 $23.95, 256 pp.

Retired scientist Gloria Lamerino and her fiance Matt Gennaro are in Berkley California to attend the wedding of her close friend scientist Elaine Cody to retired chemist Phillip Chambers, a consultant to Dorman Industries. Phil's daughter Dana is still traumatized by seeing her EMT partner gunned down while bringing their patient Lakesh Patel to the hospital. Mr. Patel dies in the hospital and the killer makes off with his duffel bag but Dana brings home his briefcase what contains severed ID's under different names including access to Dorman Industries. When Phil and Gloria meet, she isn't impressed with him but her mild feelings of disdain turn to severe anxiety when Dana confides that somehow the briefcase wound up in her father's apartment. Patel and Phil collaborated on several papers involving nitrogen weapons research. When Phil disappears, Gloria and Matt work together to try and figure out the connection between the dead scientist, the stolen research and the multiple identifications that Mr. Patel carried. There are very few mystery authors today who can incorporate a lot of scientific data into the story and make it part of a one sitting thriller as Camilla Minichino consistently does. She makes the science understandable so reader can learn while they are being entertained. The protagonist of THE NITROGEN MURDER is spunky, strong-willed and totally loyal to her friends, which endears her to the audience. The relationship between Gloria and Matt is believable and affirms that there is life after retirement.

Ted Dekker
ISBN: 0849943736 $21.99

In 1973 Hamburg, Germany, Gerhard Braun is upset because of an article in the American newspapers that refer to the five Stones of David. He has wanted the stones since they escaped his grasp during World War II because he believes that the female Jew who sucked his soul would finally die. His son Dekker could not care less about a concentration camp survivor or the stones, but knows that near the stones is the incriminating journal that lists the names of the "Elders" and the two hundred plus women they abused and killed. He wonders who this Rachel Spritzer is. In Los Angeles realtor Stephen Friedman lives the good life, but always wondered about his family who probably died during the war in Poland. Though obsessed to know what happened, he gave up a long time ago until now. His Rabbi informs him that Rachel Spritzer had branded her concentration camp newborn with half of a Stone of David; she could have been Stephen's mother. He digs into the life of Rachel, but is unaware that Roth is coming to clean up another of his father's mistakes as he has done for much of the last three decades. This engaging suspense thriller rotates back and forth between 1973 and the War using the 1940s as a base for the 1970s cat and mouse game between the second generation offspring. The concentration camp scenes are graphic, compelling and realistically sadistic (not for everyone) leaving readers with empathy for the victims and a bad taste as the Elders use an organized sponsored ism to condone what they do to the Jews. This is a taut thriller in which the grounds for torture, rape and murder is Nazism.

Death of the Party
Carolyn Hart
ISBN 0060004762 $23.95, 304 pp.

Britt Barlow lives on Golden Silk Island, a private place belonging to billionaire Jeremiah Addison, taking care of her sister who is dying of cancer. In the early morning hours, she hears a thump and sees Jeremiah at the bottom of the stairs, dead after falling over a trip wire. Someone on the island murdered him but with her sister dying she covers up the crime making it look like an accident so her sibling wouldn't be disturbed by the police or the media. A year later, Jeremiah's will has gone through probate and through her sister Britt inherits the island and a lot of money. She receives a letter in which someone claims they saw her cover up the murder. Rather than give in to blackmail, Britt invites everyone who was on the island a year ago to return so the murder can finally be resolved. She hires Max Darling of Confidential Commissions to help her. He and his wife Annie go to the island not realizing that before the perpetrator is revealed one person will leave taking the only transportation and communication with the mainland with him, a guest will be murdered, and Annie will be held hostage. Max Darling might like living a life of leisure but when he works, he lets nobody get in his way, even his beloved wife Annie. Carolyn Hart has written another exciting mystery with a cast of characters that are memorable because they each had a motive to murder Jeremiah. Readers will never guess who the real killer is and that is why Ms. Hart is such a popular mystery writer. Fans will be pleased with the latest DEATH ON DEMAND mystery.

Sentenced To Die
J.A. Jance
ISBN: 006077603X $21.95, 645 pp.

"Until Proven Guilty". The victim was no more than five years old; the weapon a Holly Hobbie gown used to strangulate Angela "Angel" Barstogi. Seattle Homicide Detective J.P. Beaumont may have fifteen years of murder cases under his belt, but whenever a kid is involved it is tough. He and his partner newcomer Ron Peters concentrate on the mother Suzanne and the cult leader Pastor Michael Brodie of the Faith Tabernacle. However, as he struggles to understand how Michael has such control over the "sisters", Beau, as J.P. is called, is sidetracked when he meets and falls in love with Anne Corley. Though Beau. does not come out as professional as he does in later tales because he spends the middle of the novel sniffing after Anne rather than the case, the partnering between he and Ron cleverly start to form, storm, norm, and perform. "Injustice for All". Beau is on vacation at Rosario resort when he heard the scream that sounded like a bad teen slasher flick. Ginger Watkins was sobbing while Sig Larson of the parole board attending a seminar lies dead on the beach. Though a hundred plus miles from his jurisdiction, Beau takes charge of the crime scene only to learn that the husband of his witness is Darrell Watkins, running for lieutenant governor and that the victim's wife accuses said witness of an affair with her now dead spouse. The vacation shot to hell even though Beau is attracted to his star witness. In an early appearance, Beau conducts an intriguing investigation that is somewhat sidetracked by his attraction to Ginger, but he show more of the depth of caring that highlights his later tales as he makes inquiries though outside his jurisdiction. "Trial by Fury". The corpse of Mercer Island High School basketball coach Darwin Ridley was found in a dumpster; he was executed state-style. Beau investigates starting with the pregnant wife Joanna who says her husband never comes home following a defeat as he needs time to recover and the team just lost at the finals. The suspects are shockingly everywhere including the spouse, but who could have done a state style execution seems juts outside Beau's grasp. This is the Beau that readers adore as he is filled with flaws, gets no respect, but keeps working in between drinks to solve the case. These three 1980s Beaumont tales introduces the audience to Beau, his partner, his journalist enemy, and some of the lovers in his life while providing a grim realistic police procedural. SENTENCED TO DIE is a terrific way to meet one of the better long running police procedurals.

The Well of Stars
Robert Reed
ISBN: 0765308606 $25.95, 352 pp.

After the near disaster at Marrow (see MARROW), The Great Ship continues its journey into space. Inside the millions perhaps even billions of near immortals go about there tedious everyday life regardless of the vessel's path. How else can one live when riding a space ship that contains whole planets inside on a trek that seems forever. The recent calamity has agitated the populace. The Master Captain is worried not just about the morale of the millions on board; that is a normal concern for her as boredom and post trauma reaction can prove mutinously dangerous. Of immediate concern however are the Polyponds and a seemingly Black Hole that is in their way. She assigns Submaster Captains Washen and Pamir to deal with the Polyponds, gigantic water beings that are attacking the Great Ship. The hero of the Marrow incident Mere investigates the Black Hole. Pamir learns a God-like essence, the Ink Well, perhaps devil might be more descriptive, threatens to "imprison" everyone on board the Great Ship for eternity inside the black hole. The sequel to the exciting MARROW, THE WELL OF STARS is an action-packed science fiction thriller that never slows down as the crew battle three enemies, the Ink Well, the Polyponds, and internal ennui. The story line is fast-paced, but with the Star Trek like crisis to confront, the key cast members seem unemotionally detached to the predicaments. Especially strange is that the population is allegedly edgy and tired of perhaps living forever yet an eternity within the Ink Well has to exacerbate all that is eating at everyone, but no one seems agitated. Still Robert Reed will have readers pondering living for eternity.

Once Upon A Summer Day
Dennis L. McKiernan
ISBN 045146012X $23.95, 384 pp.

Once upon a time in the world of Faery, Prince Borel Winterwood visits his brother Alain in his realm of Summerwood when he has a dream about a beautiful maiden who is in a stone turret, a blindfold hiding her weeping eyes speaking in the old language. When he wakes up he finds that the dream was a visitation from an imprisoned golden maiden, who will die thanks to the curse of the witch if he doesn't rescue her before the next full moon. In his quest to find the woman Chelle who he knew as a child, he gains two allies in Flec the sprite and Buzzer the Bee. He and his two friends help the three crones who are disguised; in return for his kindness they each give him a riddle to solve that will lead him closer to Chelle. Along the way they fight evil monsters sent out by the witch to kill them and though Borel is near where Chelle sleeps, the path to her turret is filled with danger. He knows he might be killed but does not give up trying to reach the woman he loves even though he courts her only in dreams that they both share. Dennis L. McKiernan always manages to enchant his readers with his fabulous fantasy novels. ONCE UPON A SUMMER DAY is his magical rendition of Sleeping Beauty only updated with more characters both good and evil including monsters, trolls, goblins, the sprites and other players. This romantic fantasy is very different because the lovers come together for the most part only in their dreams. Readers will not be disappointed with this beautiful adult fairy tale.

Buried Deep
Kristine Kathryn Rusch
ISBN 0451460219 $6.99, 384 pp.

In the far distant future, the moon and Mars have been colonized although the red planet is controlled by the alien Disty. All the different alien and human species belong to the federation and each member must obey all the laws of all the species or suffer the consequences. On mars the dead body of a human is found when the Disty are excavating the ground; according to their laws they are contaminated and blame the humans for what they think is their deliberate deception. Aisha Costard, forensic anthropologist, comes from Earth to Mars to examine the body before traveling to Armstrong Dome on the moon to meet the retrieval artist Miles Flint in the hopes that he can identify the corpse so that the Disty can perform the decontamination rituals. On Mars, a mass grave is found underneath where the skeleton was found. The Ditsy go berserk tearing the planet apart in order to find a place to live. Miles looks for a solution that will end the possibility of war between the humans and the Disty knowing if he fails, humanity will be slaughtered. Kristine Kathryn Rusch has written another exciting Retrieval Artist novel that reveals to readers much of the cultural mindset of an alien species. The negotiations and diplomatic maneuvering of the two races to avoid an all out conflict is similar to the 1970s roundtable Viet Nam negotiations. Miles is an important character seeking the solution to the problem but there are other prime protagonists who have an even bigger role in dealing with the Disty. The audience will find this science fiction mystery an excellent who-done-it due to the prominent role the aliens play.

Saint Vidicon to the Rescue
Christopher Stasheff
ISBN 044101271X $6.99, 320 pp.

The Catholic Church is poor with members leaving every day to join Reverend Sun's organization. In one last desperate measure, the pope goes on television to show why the church must survive. The equipment they use to televise the pontiff is old but Father Vidicon repairs the apparatus until he receives a shock and dies; thanks to his perseverance the show went on and the church is saved. People pray to Father Vidicon, who they want to make a saint, to help them when Finagles General Principle operates in their lives. Father Vidicon who is fighting the minions of the imp of the perverse is busy answering all prayers. His solution is to find an assistant who is smart and to help those who need some spiritual help. He contacts computer technician Tony Ricci threw his writings on the computer screen directing him where to go to help people in need. In return Father Vidicon gives advice to Tony about the woman to loves who he met when company's computers were showing the writings of Father Vidicon. Christopher Stasheff, the author of the famous warlock series, uses a contemporary setting but with the same humor in his latest work, SAINT VIDICON TO THE RESCUE. This novel is really a series of vignettes where Tony or Father Vidicon are helping people who are entangled with Finagles General Principle and Murphy's law. The spirit and the man communicate through dreams and a computer. When Tony works on solving a prayer he is a spirit that can become any size he chooses to get the job done. This is a stand alone book that will please fans of this talented author.

Dead as a Doornail
Charlaine Harris
ISBN 0441012795 $22.95, 304 pp.

When the Japanese invented synthetic blood, the vampires came out of the closet and mankind had to learn to co-exist with another species. Sookie Stackhouse, cocktail waitress in Merlotte's Bar in Bon Temp, Louisiana, is thrilled because she is a very strong telepath who cannot read a vampire's mind. (How can she? They're dead). After breaking off with her first lover vampire Bill and her second lover Eric magically forget about their one night sexual extravaganza, Sookie vows to live a quiet life. She finds she can't turn her back on the supernatural community because her brother Jason was bitten by a were-panther and on the nights of the full moon he changes. When that happens he spends his time in Hotshot a small shapeshifting community. When one of the Hotshot residents is killed and two other shifters are killed, the shape changers look towards Jason as the culprit because he was turned against his will. Sookie wants to find the shooter so her brother won't be killed but she has her hands full with amorous weres, sexy vampires and two fairies who watch over her because she keeps getting into dangerous situations. Charlaine Harris has created a charming, beguiling and sometimes unsafe alternate Earth where the creatures of the night are both sexy and dangerous, sometimes at the same time. The heroine of DEAD AS A DOORNAIL is a southern steel magnolia who has the spine to get a hazardous job done even if it means risking her own life. Sookie's world is never dull and she more in common with the supernatural beings than she does with her own kind.

The Aware
Glenda Larke
ISBN 0441012779 $6.99, 336 pp.

The Isles of Glory consists of eleven island nations each a country with its own laws and rulers. It is an inbred place because it is forbidden for one islander to marry a person from another island. Blaze Halfbreed is the product of parents of two different islands and was abandoned as a child when it was obvious she was not a purebred. She is not a citizen and cannot gain citizenry from most of the isles but Blaze has Awareness, the ability to see and sense dunmagic (evil sorcery) and sylv magic (good magic). This ability makes her useful to the Keepers who rule the Keeper Isles by protecting the weaker islands from being assaulted by the more powerful islanders. Blaze works for the Keepers and in five years if she performs adequately she will be made a citizen of the Keepers Isles. She is on the lawless island, Gorthan Spit, looking for a Cirkasian who ran away from home rather then marry the Bastionlord of Breth who prefers his sex partners to be very young boys. She meets Flane, a slyv practitioner who comes to the attention of a very powerful user of Dunmagic. He tries to turn her into a dun magician but Blaze finds a way to save her. The two women form a bond of friendship so that when one is in trouble, the other will help get her out of it. Blaze learns that there are more important things tthan citizenships like friendships and ridding the Isles of Glory of Mordred the most powerful Dinmagican of all. Book one of the Isles of Glory is one of the best fantasy novels imported from Australia. Glenda Larke has written a fantastic fantasy full of action adventure and romance so that readers of other genres will enjoy THE AWARE. Blaze is a very complicated character who wants to be selfish but always manages to do the right thing even though it costs her the chance to be a citizen. It will be very hard to wait for the next book to be published as the audience will want to read more of Blaze's fantastic adventures.

Ironcrown Moon
Julian May
ISBN 0441012442 $24.95, 416 pp.

The former prince of Cathra is King Conrig of High Blenholme and the former independent kingdoms are now vassal states. The king sits uneasily on the throne because he has a small amount of magic as does his three sons. By law, all of these royals are not suited to rule. He is desperate to keep this a secret but he learns that his first wife that he divorced because he thought she was barren is the mother of his son, a child who has no magic and should be the heir to the throne. King Conrig has other enemies including the former Royal Alchemist Killian and Prince Beynor of the House of Mass. Killian is locked away in an abbey wearing an iron collar around his neck so he can't perform magic and Beynor is exiled to the Downtide Isles with the sentient Salka monsters who want to rule the humans. These two men pair up to overthrow the empire starting with the destruction of the royal family of Didion. Prince Somarus allies with these two rebels and proclaims himself the king and wants his country to be independent again. Conrig's first wife intends to tell the world that the king has magic flowing through his veins and her son should be the king. All these characters are players in this drama of the Beaconlight, sentient beings in the sky who have the power to activate the sgyls so that whoever wears one has magic. There are forces at work to keep Conrig on his throne because he has the best chance of defeating the evil Beaconlights and be an instrument for the good Beaconlights. Julian May is a talented and visual writer whose descriptions make High Blenholme seem very real. There are many heroes in this tale who do the right thing for honor while the villains act in evil ways because they want power. Ms. May has written a work that is reminiscent of the LORD OF THE RINGS whose fans will definitely want read this book and the first Boreal Moon fantasy.

The Unhandsome Prince
John Moore
ISBN: 0441012876 $6.99, 272 pp.

Once upon a time in the charming backwater village of Ripplebrook in the Kingdom of Melinower, the Sorceress Amanda turned Prince Hal into a frog for daring to break into her castle. Caroline, the most beautiful female in the village and perhaps the kingdom, spent seven weeks in the swamp kissing frogs until she found the princely one. When she kissed him, she expected a handsome royal to marry, but instead found the returned human Hal looked like a dweeb. The Prince was not thrilled with Caroline though she rescued him from an amphibious life of insects as he felt her husband criteria too shallow for Hal. However, he reluctantly agrees to take her and her friend Emily to the capital so the younger can apprentice to a wizard and Caroline can search for a handsome noble to marry. If she fails to wed within a prescribed time as a stipulation of the original spell, Hal converts back to a frog prince. THE UNHANDSOME PRINCE is an amusing and adorable adult fairy tale. Caroline matures over the course of the novel so readers come to eventually like her and hope she finds her true love, an unlikely event since she lacks a dowry (who says money can't buy happiness). Emily is smitten with the Prince, but she must remain chaste during her apprenticeship or else. Hal is too worried about his short swampy future to take a leap in thinking of having a family. The interrelationships of the characters showcase John Moore's magical writing skills.

Down Time
Lynn Abbey
ISBN 0441012701 $6.99, 336 pp.

Fifty years ago, Emma Merrigan's mother Eleanor abandoned her newborn baby and her husband and it is only recently that they reconciled. Both Emma and Eleanor are hunters, going into the wasteland to destroy curses and rogues (giant curses). Eleanor was imprisoned by powerful curses and upon returning to the mundane world, she could pass as Emma's daughter. The immortal hunters never age as they possess the power to appear younger even though Emma chooses to look her real age of fifty. The two women take a Caribbean cruise hoping to bridge the breach that exists between them but Emma has a headache most of the time. She sees a cursed woman on the wait staff, a person who has seen the atrocities committed in Serbia. Emma has the ability to plunge through time and stop a curse before it begins. When she gets off the boat she does exactly that and finds a young boy without an adult to take care of him since Emma took away his primary caretakers in order to end the curse. He is either a hunter or a rouge but either way he sets up a loop that prevents Emma from returning to her own time and she must hope that someone from the mundane world come into the wasteland looking for her to guide her home. DOWN TIME is an interesting urban fantasy featuring a heroine who is smart enough to know she doesn't have all the answers and is savvy enough to listen to people who have more of them. The wastelands are an interesting place, a barren dimension with a magnetic sky where curses and rogues abound. Emma is obsessed with destroying as many as she can to make the world a better place. Lynn Abbey is a spectacular urban fantasist.

Harriet Klausner
Senior Reviewer

Laurel's Bookshelf

Kiot: Selected Early Poems 1963-1977
Charles Potts
Blue Begonia Press
225 S. 15th Avenue, Yakima WA 98902-3821
ISBN 0911287515 $10.00 256 pages

Charles Potts has aptly named this breathtaking retrospective of his early work: Kiot -- the Coyote -- the wary trickster and cagey loner, announcing his existence with penetrating voice. Like the coyote, Potts wnnders through time and the cosmos, heralding his protest and outrage with a voice that cuts through human imagination and registers at our prehistoric core. Lending power to Potts' words are kiot drawings by Robert McNealy. Like the poetry these drawings represent, the art is simple but evocative of truth.

One poem alone -- "Obit Mirage" -- is worth the price of this book. In it, Potts reveals multi-layered worlds within worlds with such skill and grace that only one reading barely scrapes the surface of its content:

My people came
On a rickety ship
From the Favorsham
To the land of profits...

From the "land of profits", Potts takes us on a journey that enlightens, then amazes with his wily use of words. With him, we experience the:

Existential beadwork of despair....

And the:

Snapped synapse of communication

And we see through his heart and eyes the disfigurement of pristine land:

Though the unmysterious
Clutter of the mess men make with
Unordered hands
Can be found on the surface
Of the national forest...

We experience the laying of a railroad where native Indians once lived:

The Golden Spike
Came on a hammer
To clinch the tie that binds the blinded
Termites of a deserted woodwork...

Those are chilling words, but Potts has just begun his cry:

To the consciously expanding
Already rotten basket of
Interlocking grids
The erratic
Cancer America spreads to
Defacto territories and
Girdles the world with fear...

Solutions to such taints and fear-provoking problems are beyond man's ability to grasp:

And only the stars know
Which way to turn...
The mountains do not notice
That man has plumbed a line
On their rocks

Man pays a heavy price for his dysrhythm with the land, as does the poet who protests it, as:

The shattered self scattered
With too much to place
Specimens in a death heap...

Well, those were excerpts from just one poem. Do you know yet why the kiot cries? Potts' use of word and cadence is often stunning, regardless of the topic. Consider, for example, these excerpts from "I Dream of Oaxaca":

I dream of Oaxaca
And the lean and haggard vigil
Born of love
I don't break laws
I reject civilizations...
The blue winds of October blow
The particles of light
Into the whites of my eyes
And sculpt
Of the wind Sound
A Puget flower...
I'll neither live nor die
For any madness other
Than my own...

I appreciate the ways Potts adroitly pinpoints weaknesses. This excerpt from "Throback" is one example:

The simple sexless creatures
Who imagine they are in charge
How I loathe Caucasians and the fear
That forces them to burn
Slant eyed children...

With equal ability, this poet also uses humor and irony as he moves forward and backward through generations, addressing religion, class distinctions, government trickeries and lies. His style is more elegant and eloquent than the Beat poets and more engaging than post modern symbolism. Potts sets himself apart from the rest with earthy turns of phrase and cunning metaphors. Not one word or syllable is wasted or extraneous. In an Afterword that is easily as powerful and precise as his poetry, Charles Potts adds this later message to his early work:

The weddings, births, and baptisms turn quickly enough into hastily assembled wakes....I wear death like a necklace of chocolate skulls for school children in La Dia de Los Muertos in Oaxaca or Jalisco. What these poems from more than twenty-five to forty years ago have in common is dead earnestness.

This poet writes on his own terms. The dead earnestness of Charles Potts is highly recommended.

Jonathan Rabb
Crown Publishers -- New York
ISBN 1400049210 $24.95 405 pages

Rosa was my first experience with Jonathan Rabb's work, although it is his third book. His gift for detail is unerring, which makes this complex mystery all the more appealing. Simply stated, I could not easily lay this book aside until the last page.

The place is post World War One Berlin. Rabb brings this metropolis to life with deft touches, shedding light in each dark corner, every nuance that gave Berlin its flavor at the time. Rabb doesn't simply tell the wonderful and gritty details. He takes his readers there so we can live it, experience the snow and mist, explore the scents and sounds. His skill with descriptive prose adds resonating depths his readers might not have experienced otherwise.

Detective Inspector of the Kriminal Polizei -- the Kripo -- Nikolei Hoffner, is in pursuit of a serial killer whose madness borders on genius. Hoffner and his assistant, Hans Fichte, methodically follow every small clue, groping in the dark, until they find Rosa's body. Rosa Luxemburg is a socialist revolutionary and enemy of the Reichstadt. Hoffner knows immediately that, as a victim, she is out of place. That initial thought draws Hoffner and Fichte into a provocative conspiracy involving the Political Police, the black market, secret Aryan societies, and scientific developments overseen by a young Albert Einstein.

Nikolei Hoffner is a magnificent character, a troubled and brilliant man who seeks the truth with dogged determination. We walk in Hoffner's shoes as he dissects cryptic clues and searches Berlin's underbelly for his killer. The truths he uncovers and losses he experiences are horrible, beyond even his comprehension.

Rabb totally immerses readers in place and time and his character development is brilliant. We experience what Hoffner sees and feels, even his despair and impotence. And we witness the horrifying stirrings of anti Semitism, glimpse the spectre that will be Nazi Germany.

Jonathan Rabb blends history with fiction in Rosa with exciting results. Rosa Luxemburg was real, as were many characters from that time. Her murder and disappearance of her body were never solved in real life. This book is one possible explanation. For lovers of mystery, suspense, and history, Rosa is a must have, must read.

Sign Language
David S. Pointer
Indian Heritage Council
P.O. Box 2302, Morrisstown TN 37816
ISBN 1884710352 $10.00

Sign Language is a work commissioned by the Indian Heritage Council in Morristown TN. Proceeds from the books they sell are used to benefit causes of importance to the Heritage Council and the indigenous tribes they serve. Pointer's book of poetry, for example, is dedicated to Native American Veterans of war.

Appropriately, topics addressed in Pointer's poetry have concerned Native American people since Europeans first stepped foot on Turtle Island -- America. The voracious squandering of natural resources is one example, in an excerpt from "Life Cycle":

...they keep slicing
and serving resources
as if catering
for infinity.

And in "Grass Wars", Comanche and Kiowa watch helplessly as their grasslands are transformed:

...for the mass
make over
of the buffalo
into cow.

With a wisdom that goes beyond book learning, native tribesmen understand the difference between white Europeans and the black men imported to serve, simply and beautifully stated in "Tanka":

Native marksman aims
bathing Buffalo Soldier
has white-welt whip scars
he lowers rifle shotless
rides for the next winter lake

One short, untitled piece makes plain the rewards reaped by indigenous people who welcomed Europeans to their lands:

The Dead Indian Epigram: For many of our ancestors
openmindedness often meant a head shot.

And in "Historical Context of 1492 (For the Average American), Pointer likens Native acceptance of white invaders to Jesus' dealings with Herod and his ilk. Throughout time, the result never varies -- power and greed win out -- and the metaphor is stunning:

...Extending a scarred hand
that had already been through Herod's
Hellspark, a hand that would be cut off
for not bringing a quick quota of gold
for Columbus' backers, a lopped foot
suitable for fertilizing new and old
world crops. A body that would feel
boiling soap several centuries before
the Fuhrer's factories were operational.

With free verse and Haiku, Pointer weaves the history of Native tribes. The untitled Haiku are equal to free verse in effect:

As Jesse and Frank
experience vast green growth
Custer's account closes

And this Haiku says much in few words:

Drab concrete rainbow
defaces land that sparkled
The Saint Louis Arch

Many of Pointer's ironies are heart breaking, such as advising hunters faced with scarcity of game to retrain "retrievers to point aluminum cans." And the harrowing truth in "Indian Life Today: A Politician Explains the Issues", sadly, will be missed by most Americans today -- tribes relocated far from their homeground so whites can possess rich land -- Mandans in Missouri; Cherokees in Rhode Island; Kansa in California; Iroquois in Alaska; Comanche in Wisconsin. And if such numbing thoughts were not enough to contemplate, in "Love Quest", Pointer speaks Earth's sorrow at what this country has become:

...Who knows better than
Mangus Coloradus that America isn't in Kansas
anymore or what the going price of eternal
peace could really be? If we can't lift
and love Mother Earth's exposed entrails;
what else is possible?

Injustice on an international scale is common fodder in the news these days. David Pointer narrows that focus and brings it back to our own doorsteps, where this insatiable hunger for land and resources began in the Indian Nations and now encompasses the world. This book is highly recommended.

Trilogy: a music and poetry CD
David Pointer with music production by Michael Panasuk
CPR Records
123 G, S. Kings Highway, Murfreesboro TN 37129
running time 20.23 at $10.00, incl. s and h

The Trilogy CD insert provides fair warning to listeners. Following is an excerpt:

"David Pointer is a poignant Nashville poet with a penchant for...socio-psychoid experimentation.

His stories cut to the very depths of the everyday tragic human soul.

Each track...provides a mindscape panoramic view of how the broken cogs on the cosmic wheel still rock and reel with the rest of the world."

Those broken cogs and that cosmic wheel rock and reel to amazing effect in Trilogy. Pointer's words are spoken, chanted, and sung, accompanied by Michael Panasuk's musical production. The result is an impressive blending of music and voice.

Track One, "The Blue Handed Man", is spoken and sung to blues guitar, harmonica, and bongos. Street Corner Carson -- The Blue Handed Man -- is a war veteran, one of our forgotten heroes, forced to ride through life in the back of the bus: handed man
lost his arm in the war
he couldn't strum his guitar...
Pointer chronicles Carson's musical abilities in words, with background music that brings deeper meaning to the legend of a warrior who lost his identity in the aftermath of war.

Track Two, "The Town Drunk", is haunting and seductive in its picture of a man ignored and forgotten by the world:

No clean clothes
broken nose
...Never has one man's Social Security check
done so much to help the local economy.
...He supports ten bars on SSI.
...Has reached the pint of no return.
Despite the troubling subject matter, Pointer skillfully captures the essence of broken lives in this surprisingly sweet ballad. The musical production on this track was particularly effective.

Track Three, "It Wasn't My Night" gains its power from Pointer's whimsical and ironic delivery. The musical backing on this one is brilliantly conceived as Pointer interviews men in prison. Indian drums and trilling pipes segue to a driving jazz back beat and finally to rock and roll guitar as Pointer speaks, chants, and sings his message.

David Pointer effectively champions the downtrodden in this CD. Michael Panasuk's music adds power to Pointer's words in subtle ways. Neither words nor music can be adequately conveyed in a review. Trilogy should be listened to, and often, for listeners to fully appreciate its message.

Spirit of Rebellion
Alexander Shaumyan
ISBN 1413729061 $19.95 156 pages

Alexander Shaumyan's trademark is wry or self-effacing humor, heart rending psalms of loneliness and love, and cynical commentaries on modern times. Each of his four books is different, however, and Spirit of Rebellion is exceptional for the addition of prose. The stream of consciousness prose in "It was a Long and Lonely Night" was first rate. But as always, it is his deeply felt poetry that shines.

"Just Once" expresses Shaumyan's deep loneliness:

Just once I want to feel free from this depression,
Just once.......
O to feel the sadness of the naked Moon,
to touch the needles of despair, to hug the stones of pain.
Tonight dress me in black velvet and hang me upon a

In "O God, I Could Never Create" he cries out for an Earth and a humanity he longs to rescue:

But I can kiss the Earth, breathing Love into
this once infertile soil,
And I can make this paper into music,

"To a Poet Who Looks for Dinosaurs in His Toilet Bowl" mixes Shaumyan's bizarre humor with the poet's hope:

.....that verbal acrobat playing
with images and words
that spread a magic veil
over the world of anguish,
loneliness and despair --

He rails hopelessly against the world's ugliness and sorrow in "Some Thoughts on War and Human Ugliness":

I'm not in my right mind and
I cannot write poetry amidst it all --
as if something inside me has been
cut --

As always, he dreams of desire, love and hope, but tempers these thoughts with harsh realism, as in "With Years":

With years your drive goes down
And your soul
Becomes accustomed to the daily grind --
With years you, too, become a local clown
Indifferent to everything and blind.

Alexander Shaumyan is a prolific poet who writes in a wide range of styles on a multitude of subjects. His work is well worth contemplating.

C.H. Foertmeyer
ISBN 0595343821 $15.95 205 pages

C.H. Foertmeyer is the award nominated author of seven previous books in the fantasy genre. Fans will find no time travel, shape shifting Native Americans, or other fantasy storylines in Bewildered. What readers will experience is a nifty suspense thriller, a reality based adventure with cunning twists and turns of plot that will keep you guessing until the end.

Annie and Charlie McVee plan to hike two hundred miles of the Appalachian Trail as a tenth anniversary gift to themselves. Never one to stick with the ordinary, Charlie plots a hike offtrail, in uncharted territory. Annie is uneasy when they discover impassable cliffs, then a small 18th century town with no inhabitants in sight. They decide to return to the trail, which takes them on a grueling experience that turns deadly when their GPS is damaged in a fall. Charlie wakes up in the Harlon County Tennessee hospital with two broken legs and a fractured hip. The hospital is staffed by one doctor and one nurse, and the facts don't match up with what Charlie remembers. He's told Annie died in a fall. After six weeks of recuperation, he returns to their home in Cincinnati to resume life without Annie. He's transported home by Michael McClellan, a resident of the tiny town they ran across while hiking. The town is Jessup, a Puralist community of people who do not believe in modern technology or violence.

After several weeks at home to think about his experience, Charlie discovers chilling truths. His family doctor says x-rays show no sign of badly fractured legs or hip. No medical bills have been sent or insurance claims filed for his six weeks in the hospital. And the hospital, town, and county where he recuperated do not exist on any map or record. He enlists a long time friend to accompany him back to Tennesee in search of answers.

Dr. John Roberts joined the Jessup community five years prior to Charlie's accident. He masquerades as a Puralist, who practice pure motives, when in truth he is after gold rumored to be buried nearby Jessup. He's developed an elaborate series of lies to throw Charlie off the truth and convinced the Puralists to go along. Roberts' sanity hangs by a thread as he bides his time anticipating a life of wealth with contraband gold. He definitely does not live by the Puralist philsophy of non violence and is prepared to kill everyone who interferes with his plans. People die. Horrible lies are concocted. And in the end, no one will be the same -- not Charlie, and certainly not the shy Puralists whose way of life is changed forever.

Bewildered features appealing characters and wild Appalachian terrain in an exciting storyline. Foertmeyer's first venture into the suspense thriller genre is a heart pounding experience.

Schizo-Latte: #14 in the Pocatello Blend Chapbook Series
Douglas Airmet and Doug-Bob
Blue Scarab Press
P.O. Box 4966, Pocatello ID 83295-4966
No ISBN Chapbook at $3 plus $1 mailing rate US

Each chapbook in the Pocatello Blend series features two writers or poets living in the Southeast Idaho area. From what he calls a "naieve and stumbling" beginning as poet, Airmet has proceeded to a sensitive maturity. Doug-Bob brings an irreverent and earthy tang to their collaboration. Together they comprise two halves of a whole, with a rather schizoid attitude.

In "Shall I Compare Thee...", Doug-Bob introduces a quirky paraphrase of Shakespeare's sonnet with the same title by comparing his beloved to a dog:

Dogs will not stay, lie down, they want to fetch,
They jump the fence and end up in the pound.
You never roll in filth, you don't consort
With wild dogs who go howling in the night.

In contrast, Airmet's "Two Nights / One Moon" rhapsodizes the effects of nature on two lovers:

...the full moon behind massed clouds
our path a darkness
up into manifold darknesses
...the lake in and out of moonlight
over the lake white mist moving
the far spruces, firs shredding the mist
moon tearing the clouds apart
hiding the pieces behind the cliffs...

Doug-Bob follows with a witty double entendre of a poem titled "The Soft Red Chair", whereby he contemplates poetry, women, and grammatical correctness in a bookstore:

So snatch a couplet, squeeze a quatrain,
Swell an extended metaphor!
Seize both the Either and the Or
And shatter the ultimate prohibition:

End every sentence with a preposition!

And again, in "Donelle", Airmet contrasts his partner's wit with tenderness:

You teach love to the foolish poet,
childish man, as my useless words
drop around my feet

In the wonder of your love.

I enjoyed the contrasting styles of Douglas Airmet and Doug-Bob. Blue Scarab Press has done an amazing job in this pairing, as with the others published in Pocatello Blend. And I must add that in each of the fourteen chapbooks so far, Blue Scarab Press has proven its point: There are, indeed, many gifted writers and poets living in the Southeast Idaho area.

The Great American Novel or Random Start
Eliot Stafford
ISBN 0595334466 $13.95 177 pages

What writer would not want to create the great American novel? Well, Eliot Stafford is quick to point out in the preface that he has not risen to such heights...yet. This is more like a "random start" and thus the subtitle. With satirical humor and cunning wit, Stafford proceeds from his random start to lead readers through hilarious happenings in the life of Dr. Daniel Morrisson.

Daniel Morrisson is a retired OB/GYN physician determined to write a novel that will ensure his place in history. He patiently awaits his Muse, doodling in his notebook, hoping for inspiration. Morrisson is a quiet, unassuming man, plagued by odd happenings. First the eccentric Martha James comes to call, demanding that he provide her with psychiatric counseling. His explanation that he is not a trained psychiatrist does not dampen Martha's crazed enthusiasm. She's determined. Her problems are unique, to say the least, since she is addicted to Sesame Street and dreaming of orgies with the Muppets.

As if Martha James and a novel in limbo were not enough, Alice Baxter and her teenage daughter Miriam arrive on Morrisson's doorstep. Alice comes from Morrisson's home town and has a miracle to share. Miriam receives messages from God in an unbelievable form. During frequent periods, her menstrual flow takes the form of religious icons -- crosses, the face of Jesus, the Alpha and Omega. Alice wants Dr. Morrisson to examine Miriam and explain the odd happenings.

Against his better judgement, Morrisson and wife June accompany the Baxters back to Kansas. Awaiting them are media swarms voraciously devouring any tidbit of news they can exploit and euphoric crowds of religious zealots. When Martha James follows, the circus is compounded by her delusional influence.

Stafford's characters are priceless. Morrisson plays the weary and unwitting straight man for a gaggle of local crazies, misfits, and visiting evangelists. And skillfully woven into the zany humor are sad truths of life as we know it today. Would the media really celebrate a young girl's maxi pads as news? Do religious zealots really blindly worship at ridiculous shrines? Do evangelists prey on the weaknesses of zealots in order to reap wealth and live like kings?

The answer to those questions, of course, is yes. But it's in the telling of this fictional story and the development of his odd mix of characters that Stafford shines. Some readers may be shocked by the off beat storyline. Hard line Christians may be offended at the way they and their iconic evangelists are portrayed. But the majority of readers will enjoy the humor and identify with the world weary Morrisson as he separates important truths from from empty platitudes.

The American Dissident: a semi annual Literary Journal
Editor G. Tod Slone
The American Dissident
1837 Main Street, Concord MA 01742
No ISBN Subscription $15 annually, $8 single issue

A writer / poet in Tennessee sent me a copy of The American Dissident because he thought I would enjoy its distinctive premise and style. At first view, I was impressed with its perfect bound presentation and clear dark font. This is not a fluff journal, not one to read through in one sitting and forget. Its purpose is clearly stated:

Truth, Wisdom, and Protest in Poetry and Other Writing In the Spirit of Revolutionary Patriots

The Editor, Dr. G. Tod Slone, puts his money where his mouth is. He receives no monetary support, no grants with which to fund this journal. The editor and subscribers provide the only financial support. That may be for the best since monetary support and grants have invisible strings attached. Such strings often act as both muzzle and carrot, as stated by one submitter. It's very difficult to protest when one is both blind and mute. This very lack of "strings" allows for pure dissent, voiced by Americans of every age group and walk of life, male and female.

The American Dissident reflects the sort of dissidence practiced by writers and patriots when America was young and idealistic. The hard truth is spoken here in clear voices. Dr. Slone encourages submissions based on the "...Samizdat tradition of engaged writing...examining the Dark Side of the Academic / Literary Industrial Complex."

Samizdat is a term originating in Russia, meaning the publication and distribution of literature banned by the government. In America, where supposedly nothing is banned, Samidzat refers to dissenting voices spread through underground presses. Either meaning can apply to Dr. Slone's Journal.

The Winter / Spring 2005 edition of the Journal features poetry, essays, and cartoons: poetry about inequities in literature, health care, employment and the caste system America supposedly does not embrace; essays about the good old boy and girl system thriving in all things literary; and cartoons that are both hilarious and sobering because of the truths revealed in them. All are submitted by real American taxpayers whose truths found voice in this Journal. I particularly relished the "Open Letter to Henry David Thoreau" and the references to Emerson -- both of whom were outspoken dissenters in their day.

The spoken and unspoken message of The American Dissident is that voices of dissent have nothing left to lose. Everything has been stripped away already by Literary and Governmental entities determined to control, contain and silence dissenting voices. All that remains is truth, pride, courage, and voices that will not be silenced no matter what bully tactic may be applied.

I thoroughly enjoyed this Journal and compliment the Editor for his determination to present dissenting voices. Where things literary, in particular, are concerned, this is not your common, everyday journal.

Interview with G. Tod Slone

A colleague recently sent me a copy of The American Dissident, a semi annual publication conceived and edited by G. Tod Slone. Dr. Slone is also an educator, novelist, essayist, and poet. I was favorably impressed with both the quality and content of his publication, and wished to learn more about this interesting, intelligent man who believes "Anger is not a sin, it is a citizen's duty!"

Johnson: Thank you for agreeing to this interview, Dr. Slone. What gave you the idea to publish The American Dissident? Give readers a rundown of its philosophy, content, and purpose.

Slone: Thank you for this honor to be interviewed, a rare opportunity indeed, at least for me. Not even the local Concord Journal will interview me as a local Concord writer and publisher. Instead, it's interviewed the local trinket artisan and new funeral parlor director. By the way, I rarely use the "Dr." title because I've known far too many academics to ever respect it. I only use it, now and then, in a desperate attempt to get published because I know most people blindly hold the title in respect. Let us not, however, forget the wisdom of Concordian Ralph Waldo Emerson:

"I am ashamed to think how easily we capitulate to badges and names, to large societies and dead institutions." Unfortunately, our society can be so perverted at times as to hatch an Emerson Center for the Arts, whose directors and members couldn't possibly fathom what those words mean.

As for the philosophy of The American Dissident, I'd written a 22-page essay on that very subject, "The Cold Passion for Truth Hunts in No Pack or Why Poetry Doesn't Matter." In essence, it was an unusually tough, academic-unfriendly response to Dana Gioia's famous essay, "Can Poetry Matter?" I'd submitted it to over 40 academic and pseudo-academic literary journals, including The Atlantic Monthly. All refused to publish it and almost all refused to respond to it. They probably took it as a personal affront, if they ever read it, and probably should have. A truncated version of that essay was finally published by a non-academic journal, The Pacific Coast Review.

In any case, each profession has its code of silence. The cop doesn't criticize other cops; the doctor doesn't criticize other doctors; the professor doesn't criticize other professors; and the poet doesn't criticize other poets. The American Dissident certainly breaks that code of silence, especially with regards to literature and academe, or, as I've dubbed those spheres, the Academic/Literary Industrial Complex, which constitutes the very core of the nation's intellect. The very cornerstone of democracy is free speech and expression (i.e., tough criticism, questioning and challenging). Yet proponents of the Academic/Literary Industrial Complex tend to viscerally reject that cornerstone whenever it concerns them. In each issue of The American Dissident, letters are published as testimony of that assertion. The American Dissident, via incessant questioning and challenging of literati and academics, thus seeks to encourage the reinstitution of democracy in the academic/ literary sphere of society. It seeks to revalorize hardcore truth telling and criticism, especially where it entails risk, that is, on the grassroots level. It is so easy to criticize Bush, but try biting the hand that feeds, try criticizing the local poet center director, local cultural council members, local academics or your boss.

People know instinctively when to keep their mouths shut. Thus, they also know instinctively where it is risky to open their mouths and, in the words of Emerson, "go upright and vital, and speak the rude truth in all ways." Those words constitute the philosophy of The American Dissident, as do the words of Thoreau, "let your life be a counterfriction to stop the machine." Oddly, the directors, cultural functionaries, and members of the Emerson Center for the Arts, Thoreau Society, and Thoreau Institute do not understand the philosophy of The American Dissident, which comprises both its purpose and content. Finally, The American Dissident is realistic and does not really believe that changing the academic/literary status quo of visceral rejection of criticism is at all possible. The playwright and former Czech president, V…clav Havel, defined "dissident" in a way that is entirely compatible with the purpose of The American Dissident.

"The dissident does not operate in the realm of genuine power at all. He is not seeking power. He has no desire for office and does not gather votes. He does not attempt to charm the public, he offers nothing and promises nothing. He can offer, if anything, only his own kin-and he offers it solely because he has no other way of affirming the truth he stands for. His actions simply articulate his dignity as a citizen, regardless of the cost. You do not become a "dissident" just because you decide one day to take up this most unusual career. You are thrown into it by your personal sense of responsibility, combined with a complex set of external circumstances. You are cast out of the existing structures and placed in a position of conflict with them. It begins as an attempt to do your work well, and ends with being branded an enemy of society."

Johnson: In our pre-interview correspondence, you've stated clearly that no grants or financial support is used to publish The American Dissident. Funding comes from your own pocket and from subscriptions. I would think a high quality publication dedicated to literary purity and freedoms would attract funding from Educational and Literary sources. Why is that not the case?

Slone: Clearly, it is not the case. The reason is quite simple:

Educational, Cultural and Literary sources love "the rude truth" when it concerns Bush, but abhor "the rude truth" when it concerns them. The American Dissident will not "bend" for money. Even the local Concord Cultural Council and Concord Poetry Center refuse to help, financially or otherwise, and refuse to debate issues evoked by The American Dissident as to intrinsic corruption and egregious lack of logic with their regard. As an example, the poetry center's director, Joan Houlihan, stated: "We welcome dissidents! All the best poets were dissidents." But then I informed her I'd be protesting at the opening of the center. So she stated:

"The idea of your teaching a workshop or delivering a lecture on the art of literary protest or poetry protest, or simply protest (Concord is where it all started!) occurred to me even before you mentioned it, so, yes, it's something I will consider as we progress (this is only our first event). However, I must say I don't favor having you teach at the center if you protest the reading."

Houlihan's egregious breach in logic is quite simple: you can teach literary protest at the center if you do not protest literature at the center. I gave her the opportunity to rescind the statement, but she refused. I of course protested at the center and have been ostracized since. Houlihan will not respond to my concerns or emails. The Concord Journal refused to publish an account of the protest. So, this is what The American Dissident is up against: a big, red, cultural brick wall. In fact, I sketched a cartoon around that very idea and sent it to the Massachusetts Cultural Council, which has not and will not respond.

Johnson: You've been characterized as a bitter and angry man. However, your commentaries and essays frequently communicate empathy and compassion. Why do you think literary movers and shakers -- the literati -- label you in such a way?

Slone: Hmm, empathy and compassion? That must be the crux. It all depends who you are. For one person, empathy, while for another, sheer bitterness. Actually, it is quite simple why literati and academics would characterize me that way. Those fortunate citizens, though unfortunate writers, who have not tasted injustice, smelled its stench, bitten their shiny white teeth into its rot, and have otherwise never gone against the grain, never rocked the boat, and never made waves, let alone rivulets, will likely not be able to comprehend the editor's logic or reasoning. The temptation for them to shoot the messenger and ignore the message will simply be overwhelming. The social psychologist, C. Tarvis, wrote: "The ideas that rebels expound tend not to be attacked by those in power. The latter are inclined rather to kill the messenger by character assassination. For example, one rebel was said to be a womanizer... bitter... disloyal... and even, in the words of one accuser, dangerously mentally ill." Notice the word, "bitter"? Journalist Bernard Goldberg also understood the motivation for calling someone angry and bitter: "I do think it's convenient for some to focus on the messenger-why?-it conveniently deflects attention from the message."

In reality, labeling me angry and bitter is immaterial, proves nothing whatsoever, and reflects that perhaps those calling me thus are themselves angry and bitter, lacking in courage, lacking in cogent argumentation, and intellectually lazy. Besides, anger is not a sin. It is a citizen's duty! Anger augments the message! Were not the American revolutionaries and slaves angry? Were not the poets of the Soviet gulags angry? Why aren't the academics and poets of the American office cubicles angry too?

Sure, sometimes I'm angry. Hell, I'm not a robot. Now and then, I "lose" it. At the Concord Bookshop, for example, I "lost" it and actually uttered the word "shit" because the chief book functionary refused to carry The American Dissident, yet carries Ploughshares, The Kenyon Review, and other literary journals. The American Dissident is, after all, published in Concord! The other journals are not! Wouldn't that anger you? But "bitter"? Never! I don't like that word at all. I don't hold grudges and am always open to reason and logic and will always change my positions if someone can prove them wrong with reason and logic, not via intellectually-unoriginal, base name calling.

Johnson: Do you believe there is a "good old boy" system at work in literary circles today? By that I mean, must writers have connections to succeed, and play by a strict set of unspoken rules?

Slone: Without a doubt there is a "good old boy and girl" system at work. And I stress girl because the local cultural council is wo-manned almost entirely by "good old girls," not boys. Networking is the absolute key to getting published, grants, literary prizes, academic jobs, speaking engagements, festival invitations, etc. In my field of work, academe, one needs three letters of recommendation. What do those letters represent? They clearly represent three opinions that you will not make waves, will not be a threat, and will fit in and be like all the other professors. And that I find truly shameful in a field like higher education.

Networking is also the absolute key to the diminishing quality and significance of American literature. Without connections, writers, no matter how good, will face nearly insurmountable obstacles; whereas those with connections will not.

The strict set of unspoken rules is actually one rule and known by everyone, which is why there is no need to write it down. But I shall write it down for you here: 1. Do not bite the hand that feeds or potentially will feed. The American Dissident purposefully and continually breaks that rule in the name of democracy and literature. As an example, I was invited to the Festival International de la Poesie de Trois-Rivieres in Quebec because I challenged its chief organizer to invite me. I argued he would not invite me because I was a dissident poet who dared criticize. The organizer was so blind and self-assured that, to my surprise, he took up the challenge. I ended up being the only poet out of 150 invited poets who dared criticize the Festival and its management in public and right in front of the director. Not only did I end up ostracized but also was never invited back, a loss of future $800 honoraria paid to each invited poet. I knowingly risked publication opportunities and those future honoraria. But I am a poet and behave accordingly: I do "go upright and vital, and speak the rude truth in all ways." On another note, my 743-page autobiographical novel, The Dissident, completed last year, remains unpublished. Hell, who would I send it too? I have no connections at all. One must wonder how much literature-some good, some perhaps excellent-has been and will be buried in America because of that very concept.

Johnson: People from every region of the country submit to your journal. Frankly, I was amazed at the high quality of work presented. Are you the sole decision maker regarding accepted submissions?

Slone: Yes, The American Dissident is a one-man operation. But I have had some great support from subscribers over the years, including Dahn Shaulis (Ely, NV), David Pointer (Murfreesboro, TN), Luis Berriozabal (West Covina, CA), Mary Gribble (San Marino, CA), and Doug Draime (Ashland, OR). As you might imagine, obtaining good submissions reasonably in line with the focus of The American Dissident is, by far, the greatest challenge. Most poets simply do not write the kind of material The American Dissident seeks. What I need most is a person who knows how to market. I am a terrible marketer. I'd be happy to give such a person one of those nice poetry titles like CEO of Poetry Marketing.

Johnson: Those wishing to submit can check the guidelines on your website at You accept no email submissions, only postal mail submissions. Why is that?

Slone: Actually, I do accept email submissions from subscribers, though prefer not to. Often, people who send by email are less likely to read the guidelines and proofread their submissions. In other words, sending via email is too easy and too quick. Even by snail mail, I receive many submissions from poets who simply do not read the guidelines. For some odd reason, most academics (creative writing instructors!) who have submitted to The American Dissident have either not read the guidelines or simply have an odd blind spot with regards the following: "DO NOT SUBMIT CREDITS, but rather a short bio of personal dissident information. What enabled you to neutralize indoctrination? When did you stand apart from your friends or colleagues to speak the rude truth? Why are you submitting poems to a journal called The American Dissident?" Yes, they inevitably feel compelled to send the list of lit journals that have published them. It is their badge. It is what makes them who they are: read, published and, especially, approved.

Johnson: What are your future goals for The American Dissident?

Slone: Well, I am ever banging my head against the brick wall of the grant machinery. Money is always the key. Oddly, to get grants, one needs money. The Massachusetts Cultural Council, not only requires the nonprofit designation and incorporation (about $650), but also demands that the literary journal applying for funding spend a minimum of $10,000 during the year of the application. In other words, we only give money to those who have it. If I had more of it, I'd advertise, find a distributor, print out a 1000 copies, instead of 100, and try to get on the shelves of B&N. But I don't think that is going to happen. I'm not convinced there is that kind of market for The American Dissident. I'm rather convinced most poets would detest the journal if they had the opportunity to read it. As an example, a hundred poets must have walked by me during my protest at the opening of the Concord Poetry Center. They were all on their smiley-face way to listen to Pulitzer Prize Franz Wright. Not one of those poets expressed any interest whatsoever in my protest. On the contrary, a number of them mocked me by chuckling. One declared with grand indignation: "How can you possibly protest poetry?" That in itself is an absurd statement. Franz Wright actually approached me chuckling away like a loon. But he was not at all interested in my protest. He wanted a copy of the critical cartoon I sketched mocking him as superpoet. He offered to pay me $20 for it. I didn't have the original with me. On another instance, I was protesting the lack of free speech at Walden Pond State Reservation, where I'd been evicted on several occasions and even incarcerated in Concord for having engaged in a nonviolent dispute with a free-speech hating park ranger. Cambridge's Stone Soup poets walked past me, one after the next, on their way to read at the park. Not one of them expressed an iota of interest in my protest. Instead, they tended to either pretend I was a ghost or chuckle. Chuckling is indeed an aberrant reaction manifested by some people when confronted with their own cowardice and/or criticism.

Johnson: You're working on a book project. Care to give us a thumbnail of its content?

Slone: I'm glad you mentioned this because actually it evokes something else. A poet or writer who is not encouraged by publishing opportunities will probably tend to write less and less, which of course will please the establishment. As mentioned, I completed a 743-page novel last year. But it is going nowhere. and I am not encouraged to begin another for that reason. Just the same, after having attempted in vain to find a Quebec publisher for my French poems (yes, I also write in French), somehow by accident I bumped into someone in America who decided to take on the project. The poems are due out in a year or two in a bilingual addition. I've begun work on a Socratic-like play involving dialogues between a dissident and cultural apparatchiks, but am not encouraged to really work hard on it, because I wouldn't know where to publish it. Such projects require serious sustained mental effort, as opposed to writing a simple poem or sketching a literary cartoon. In the past, I've self-published my own poems, but do not find that at all satisfying. Actually, I rarely send out my writing any more. I'd love to find someone to publish my literary cartoons. I've also got over 1000 pages of essays and five or six other unpublished novels, including one written in the hull of a US destroyer, when I was teaching English as a bottom-rung professor several years ago. Of course, I am not the only poet and writer in America unable to find a publisher. Also, I am simply stating facts here. By no means am I complaining. I wouldn't have it any other way.

Johnson: Is there any question you wish I had asked or any other information you'd like to share with our readers?

Slone: You posed some excellent questions that seem to cover everything. Once again, I commend you for being different from the bulk partisanship of the Academic/Literary Industrial Complex, which seems entirely fixated on creating and promoting names, as opposed to issues and concerns. Names sell. Badges sell. Pulitzer sells. Nobel sells. America is all about selling. Poetry is all about selling. Pinsky sells. Billy Collins sells. Franz Wright sells. Maya Angelou sells. recipe and greeting card poetry.

Laurel Johnson
Senior Reviewer

Shelley's Bookshelf

Luz Stella's Tale
Max Blue and Wilson Abut
iUniverse, Inc.
2021 Pine Lake Road, Suite 100, Lincoln, NE 68512
ISBN: 059528728X $14.95
ISBN: 0595749627 $20.95

Paul Fritz has accomplished many things in his life. He was born in 1929, during the Great Depression in Alabama. He played professional baseball for one summer for the St. Louis Browns. He served in Korea as a line officer on a destroyer. He received a postdoc degree in biochemistry and plant molecular genetics, and served on the faculty at Auburn University, Penn State University, and after retiring, worked for a few years at the Center for Tropical Agriculture in Turrialba, Costa Rica. He has written numerous scientific articles during his research and began publishing novels in 2001. LUZ STELLA'S is his third Pacheco mystery.

Inspector Bismark Pacheco is Costa Rica's top detective, working as Chief Inspector for the Ministry of Justice. His friend, Luz Stella, is an ex-revolutionary from Columbia who has just lost her love, Stefan, and is on the run from El Hermanadad, a revolutionary group from Columbia, for reasons unknown at the beginning of the tale. Luz Stella and Pacheco meet on a cruise ship, and when Pacheco makes contact with a C.I.A. operative, he is shot and the operative is murdered and it is only Luz Stella's quick action that saves Pacheco's life. Luz Stella is an interesting lady with a dark past who is tough and plays poker with the best. Luz is also a plant scientist who has an interest in the spread of the rubber industry to Asia, which has hurt the growers in her own country. When two scientists are kidnaped who have connections to rubber tree research and plant pathogens, the CIA wants Pacheco and Luz Stella to investigate, and they make a deadly and intelligent team. Characters abound in this thriller:

"Pacheco and Luz Stella each thought he was talking to them. They waited for Tom to answer his own question. 'We want you to go under cover in Columbia and find out what's going on here. It's a long shot, and it's about as dangerous as it gets.' He paused. 'You two are the only ones who can do it. We want those two guys back.'"

Max Blue and Wilson Abut use Inspector Pacheco and Luz Stella as politic mouthpieces in their adventures that span the Americas, the Caribbean, Mexico, and the Southern United States. Pacheco and Stella are both interested in making the world a better place. A great read!

Sherlock Holmes Lost Adventure
Laurern Steinhauer
iUniverse, Inc.
2021 Pine Lake Road, Suite 100, Lincoln, NE 68512
ISBN: 0595317073 $12.95

Lauren Steinhauer is a artist and storyteller. He has written poetry and short stories, and these are all hobbies. Lauren has worked at Universal Studio with Albert Whitlock, Alfred Hitchcock's special effects man. He also performed at the Magic Castle as a professional magician. He designed movie posters for Hollywood studios and has experience in art campaigns and advertising. He worked in San Francisco in computer graphics and has spent time teaching computer workshops. He has published books for the DUMMIES series in Director skills. He spent ten years writing SHERLOCK HOLMES LOST ADVENTURE.

Using a near perfect imitation of Arthur Conan Doyle, Lauren Steinhauer resurrects Sherlock Holmes for an adventure that expands on hints of an adventure alluded to by Doyle in THE SUSSEX VAMPIRE. This story follows A STUDY IN SCARLET, as Holmes is recuperating from his most recent adventure. Sherlock has several clients: one a missing little girl, and two others which both speak of a stolen typewriter. Lucy Gates, a radiant and fragile beauty, graces Sherlock's parlor and totally mesmerizes poor Watkins. Holmes suddenly decides upon a holiday, and at every step something bizarre happens and dark figures materialize out of nowhere:

"I bolted over a crag just in time to see Holmes slap his hand on the figure's shoulder, only to be violently shaken off as the villain swiped Holmes with the purloined satchel, then threw it at him in the heat of defeat. Suddenly the brute disappeared with a horrific scream. What I finally reunited with Holmes, I saw that our mysterious foe had stumbled into the entrance of a deep, vertical shaft and was hanging by the bleeding finger-tips of one hand to crumbling limestone, his right hand outstretched to meet Holmes' offer of aid."

Steinhauer has been a careful student of the writings of Arthur Conan Doyle, and he produces a veritable masterpiece complete with fiends, maniacal scientists, damsels in distress, travel to dangerous places replete with snakes, volcanoes, mosquitos, and nightmarish freaks. The cadence of his writing is so like Doyle that it is uncanny. This is an absolutely wonderful work!

Dead Air
Mike Brogan
PublishAmerica, Baltimore
ISBN: 1413747000 $21.95

Mike Brogan spent most of his professional life in advertising, but as an English major, he always kept a dream of writing in the back of his mind. When he penned his first novel, BUSINESS TO KILL FOR, he spent the time needed to research writing skills and it showed. He garnered an award from WRITER'S DIGEST. DEAD AIR is his second novel, and he uses the news of the day as his subject...terrorism. What's scarier than sarin gas? Not much.

Dr. Hallie Mara, a promising young M.D., has just met the love of her life in the person of Reed Kincaid. When Reed's older brother, Kyle, calls with a strange cough and a desperate plea to talk to a doctor, Reed invites him over to help him out. Unfortunately Kyle dies before telling his story, but he does warn Reed that many will be killed the following Friday:

"Kyle's eyes, pink and wild, locked on Reed's. His brother's face turned scarlet as he gasped for air. Reed held his trembling shoulders as Hallie ran in and unbuttoned his collar. Kyle opened his mouth, attempted to form words. Reed leaned in to listen '' 'Who?' 'K-kill many Friday.... S-stop him....'"

DEAD AIR picks up the reader from the first chapter and leads us on a chase that leads down blind alleys; near drownings; insane scientists; mobsters chasing the characters; and near misses. The plot is compelling; the action non-stop. As in real life, what needs to work doesn't, and the heroes are constantly desperate. Characterization is well developed, and the tale is finely honed.

Brogan has an innate sense of how to pull in the reader. He also knows what scares us, and so DEAD AIR is sort of a LORD OF THE RINGS of thrillers. One can't turn the pages fast enough, and the story ends all too soon. It is no wonder that Mike Brogan was recognized by the respected WRITER'S DIGEST. He's got what it takes. DEAD AIR is a real barn-burner!

FLIGHT OF AQUAVIT Anthony Bidulka Insomniac Press, 192 Spadina Ave., Suite 403, Toronto, ON, CAN M5T 2C2 ISBN: 1-894663-75-6 $15.95-U.S./$9.95 UK/$21.95 CAN/$22.95 AUST

Participating in academic, accounting, fashion, farming, and food services has made Anthony Bidulka a well-rounded character who also enjoys parties, reading, and traveling. He hails from Saskatoon, CAN and, judging from his acknowledgments, has, as he puts it, "an amazing network of supporters." A writers dream, indubitably.

Private Detective Russell Quant, erstwhile policeman, dog lover, and gay male replete with a Ukrainian mother who has come for Christmas with her cooking accouterments and cute accent, is warned off from a case before it even spans his radar. A friend of a friend has been receiving threats from someone calling themselves "Loverboy," who threatens to unmask a superficially happily married businessman who has had encounters with gay men. A blackmail note appeared in the envelope of Quant's client as he was about to receive a business award. Quant's task is to find Loverboy before the money is due. The question is, whether or not to pay the money or to turn Quant loose to uncover the blackmailer:

"'Loverboy has made a convincing case for himself in very few words. He wants to be compensated for something he knows and I want to hide. Pretty classic case of blackmail, I suppose.' I couldn't argue with him there. 'I guess I've always unconsciously expected this day would come - it's time to pay the piper.'"

Russell Quant chases around, trying to accommodate his mother's Christmas visit, while giving his lesbian friend whose breast cancer foists another dog upon his home, even while he is constantly being tailed, spied upon, and finally kidnaped.

Bidulka manages to spin a compelling detective story with colorful characters, hilarious situations, and touching relationships. His first person style of writing is perfect for this extremely entertaining tale. When Bidulka isn't focusing on the puzzling case and the people who seem intent upon stopping him in his tracks, he is either showing the reader the ups and downs of the gay lifestyle and how it fits into the general scheme of things. But most touching is his halting relationship with his mother that blossoms into genuine love as the two delve into the very nature of their relationship. A quality achievement from a first time author. Bravo!

Shelley Glodowski
Senior Reviewer

Shirley's Bookshelf

Personal Healthcare Journal
Mark Bird, R.N. CCRN.EMT-P PHC
Incorporated Sarasota, FL
ISBN# 0976230298 $34.95 8 Categories

If you are like me, you are always saying you are going to get things in order, but it seems to take more determination to achieve it then you have to give. However, there are some areas that really do need our attention, such as our health and pertaining facts in that area. Do you forget the last time you had a tetanus shot? Or just what was the name of that medicine you had an allergic reaction to? Did Grandma have Diabetes or was that someone else? Sound familiar? Now there is help for you.

In this work, The Personal Healthcare Journal you find a tool designed to help you take control of your healthcare or anyone whose healthcare you might be involved in. In a hard bound, 3-ring binder format, you find a section for just about any area of health information that needs to be recorded, that you would be able to find at a moments notice. No more digging through drawers for tiny pieces of paper that may or may not have the information you need. That frustration gone forever! This sturdy notebook contains eight tabbed sections where you can record valuable information and store important papers, just about every category is covered such as: Personal Data, Demographics, Insurances, Family History, Medical Problems, Immunizations, Medications, Pharmacy Contacts, Appointments, Healthcare Providers, Medical Tests, Legal Documents, Baby Data, Diabetes Log, Weight Log, Daily Monitoring Log, Provider Visits, and much more.

This work is a must for all of us, as it will aid in making one area of our lives far less complicated. Going to the doctors and need to bring your information with you? Just grab your notebook and away you go, what a relief.The Personal Healthcare Journal is a well compiled, well thought out book and one that will certainly prove to be a blessing in any household. Finally something that will help organize an important part of our lives. Recommended.

Blessed, I'm So Damned Grateful
Raymond M. Saunders with Craig R. Saunders
Authorshouse Publishers
ISBN: 1418445851 $26.50 564 pages

Author, 94 year-old Raymond M. Saunders, is not just a man, but a piece of American history. You cannot truly understand that statement until you have feasted on his life's story and that of seven generations before in his newly released book, "Blessed, I'm So Damned Grateful." As we begin the journey we are told of his great-grandparents immigration from England to America and the terrible violent murder suicide that occurred leaving six orphaned children. He then begins to share the different events and encounters with some well known figures in history that family members had, their journey in America, and how it shaped the future of his family. We travel along to our author's life, share with him his hopes and dreams as a child, a young man and an adult, watching not just his life unfold, but also that of America. We rejoice in his victories, cheer him on in his battles through his lives journey, and sigh at the struggling growth of our wonderful country, as we are reminded of the great depression, several wars and the many growing pains she encounters. The pictures and personal family records that are included in the work add a very nice touch and help to bring the experience of the read to a more personal level. Good job. Mr. Saunders is open and frank in his recollection of his lives memories. No life is free from pain, challenges or sorrows, yet the author has taken the very essence of what living is all about and conveyed it to this work. It isn't how big a house you live in, or the model of the car you drive; it is the sharing of friends, family and God. There are many threads that make up the fiber of a man, and through his writing one realizes they have the choice of what threads they will allow to make up their fiber and to mold their character. Blessed: I'm So Damned Grateful, is more than a book of someone's memoirs; it is a book on living' a book on being thankful for the very gift of life; a families journey that continues on. Enjoy and be reminded what really is important.

Liberty's Poet Emma Lazarus
H.S. Moore
TurnKey Press
Austin, Texas
ISBN# 0975480340 $14.95 107 pages

I want to thank H.S. Moore for this writing. In her work, Liberty's Poet, Emma Lazarus, I was privileged to learn about a young Jewish girl living, in the 19th century in New York City, who had a true gift from God in penning words. The famous poem, "The New Colossus," that is inscribed on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty was written by her hand. I have loved those words since childhood, but not until now did I understand the deep conviction of the one who wrote them, Emma Lazarus. I had to smile as just the other day a commercial came on television quoting her words, never did they mean so much to me as they did at that moment. I thank the author for that understanding. Emma knew first hand the degrading humiliation of the Jewish people, those seeking refuge in the United States and the poor reaching out. Through this work I have learned what a wonderful visionary she was; I have gasped at her courage, applauded her compassion, and smiled at her victories. In this book history is brought to life in a way that is both entertaining and a pleasure to read as well as informative. Recommended for young and old that wish to partake of a slice of history that touched our country from shore to shore. The story of a young girl whose journey through this life left a thumb print for all generations to follow.

101 Simple Suggestions and Quotations to Express Compassion and Empathy
Linda Furiate
iUniverse, Inc.
ISBN# 0595324134 $12.95 103 pages

I was pleasantly surprised when I opened this book by author,Linda M. Furiate. I didn't expect to see only one thought on each page, but I have to tell you it certainly caught my attention. The author, whose life was changed drastically by a car accident in 1995, has learned and put into practice the finer art of living. In her work, she shares with the reader 101 convictions for what I would call having a more meaningful life, and being a better person.

As an example, let us take Suggestion Number 60:

"Realize you have nothing until you are able to give something of yourself away."

And my favorite, Suggestion Number 95:

"If you are in an irritable mood and projecting negative energy towards another person, visualize for a moment, the other person is you. Do you appreciate the way you are being treated?"

Now, didn't that make you stop and think? So it is with this work, short and simple, yet deeply profound, the author touches on the core of our existence. If you want a work that will make you take a moment to reflect on who you are as a person, how you relate to others in this world, and some gentle suggestions that if implicated could help you become a positive person in this world, this book is for you. A short read with a mighty message.

Stormy Fall
Betty Barclift
Kregel Publications
PO Box 2607 Grand Rapids, MI
ISBN# 0825420288 $6.99 169 pages

Let me start this review by saying, "What a great book." In this story, Stormy Fall, we find Katie; a young girl who has moved to a new town. Her families circumstances financially are not the best as they struggle to improve their standard of living. The character development of Katie and her family are excellent, well defined and extremely realistic; you immediately join with them as though you are part of the family, which causes you to actually care what happens to them. Good job.

Katie is involved in her church's homeless project, as at one time she and her family were in that situation, her compassion runs deep concerning them. The author introduces you to the plight of the homeless and the often callous reactions those more fortunate have towards them. We are introduced to two very likeable homeless ladies Edith and Stella, who now work for the church and one very unlikable Board Member of the church,Phoebe, who definitely is not sympathetic to the homeless plight.

When money comes up missing at the church and the blame is put on our now two missing homeless ladies the adventures begin as Katie and her friends set out to prove Edith and Stella are not guilty.

Ms. Barclift does an outstanding job in building the suspense in this mystery read, drawing you into the age old question, who done it?. I loved the way she kept alive the compassion for others that you find in Katie's family even during times when it would seem that would be far from what should be felt. All in all this was an exceptional read that kept me glued to the pages. Mystery, suspense, adventure and moral teaching all wrapped up on a great story. Don't miss this one.

A Fortune In The Junk Pile
Dorothy H. Jenkins
Crown Publishing
New York, NY
ISBN# 0517027410 $15.00 440 pages

Are you wondering if your junk may just be a treasure? If you are this is a really good starter book to check on some of those pieces. The author gives you over sixteen categories such as, "Country Furniture," and "Pottery and Porcelain." In these she shows some pictures and gives detailed explanation of other pieces to help you identify an object that maybe of value. Although this is an older book, it is very well done, easy to read and quite informative. A great help for the beginning treasure hunter.

The Jesus Habits
Jay Dennis
Broadman & Holman Publishers
Nashville, Tennessee
ISBN# 0805431276 $16.99 232 pages

In this work, The Jesus Habits, we find author Jay Dennis laying the foundation for changing our lives in his unveiling of the habits of Jesus Christ. Rev. Dennis looks deeply into the habits of Jesus; things that he practiced daily and incorporated into every thing that he did or said; and the author carefully explains them to you, telling you the benefits of making these your habits as well. If there was any man that we should try to imitate their lifestyle , it certainly would be Jesus. He tells you why they are important to incorporate in your life and even gives you enemies of the habits, which are reasons or circumstances that would stop you from developing them. I have to say, I definitely could relate to some of these enemies and others I was not aware of until my reading. Thankfully now I see where they have hindered me without my realization and I am able to make some needed changes. What a blessing that is and will continue to be.

As a Christian I found this work to be extremely helpful and used it to check my own walk with the Lord. There are 31 habits listed and include categories such as; Prayer, Worship, Rest, Thanksgiving and Purpose, to name a few. Each category is clearly developed and you definitely have a complete understanding of their importance in the life of Jesus and in your own life when you complete this read. A book of information, instruction and encouragement; The Jesus Habits is a must have for all believers to enrich their Christian walk. However, I feel this book would benefit not only Christians, but all that would like to become better all around productive people. Recommended for all those who would like to see their lives and this world become a better place.

Growing Up In Missouri And Other Short Stories
Nell M. Berry
Publish America
Baltimore, Maryland
ISBN# 1413749712 $12.95 60 pages

It always warms my soul to read stories of true life experiences told from the heart of those who lived them. In this work by author Nell M. Berry I was privileged to share the memories of her youth and her beloved family during his growing up years in Missouri. Told in refreshing simplicity, the author shares numerous happenings of her childhood and the meaning and impact they had upon her life. Raised during the depression area, Ms Berry relates the hardships her family endured, but also shows the spirit of unity of family to survive through hard times. In this work, she communicates to the reader the commitment of friends, the importance of love, and the appreciation of the smallest blessings. I found this book to be truly heart-felt in it's meaning. A sharing of an era perhaps forgotten by many, never known by some, yet one that is etched in the portals of time. A book about days of yesteryear that have helped fashion the world we live in.

Rosary Book: Joyful Mysteries
Patmos Tools For Worship
Shohola PA
ISBN# 0976174823 $24.95 32 pages

Have there been times when you have taken out your Rosary to pray, but realized you did not fully understand what you were praying or why? Have you been trying to explain to your children the true meaning of praying with their Rosary? Do you want a better understanding of your prayer life and your faith? If the answers are yes to these questions; this work is for you. This Rosary Book was designed to help you pray the Rosary, and to understand its deep meaning spiritually. Each page is brimming with colorful pictures, filling your mind with a visual aid of the importance of your prayer and in addition you are given Scripture after Scripture to bring to light the meaning of your prayer words.

The book contains the following features:

This book is extremely large, large enough for the whole family to see while praying, which helps to make your prayer time a wonderful family experience.

- 50 Scripture passages to bring to light each mystery of the Rosary
- 50 beautifully painted medallions for each Scripture passage
- 5 beautifully painted icons used to help teach you true meaning to your prayers
- A tutorial on how to pray the Rosary and how to use this book
- All the prayers of the Rosary
- Pope John Paul II's Apostolic letter on the Rosary

This is an exceptional work, so detailed in the explanation of praying the Rosary that even young children will have a clear understanding of their prayer time, and those of us who are older will have a renewed appreciation of the time spent in prayer. Colorful, factual and a must have for all the faithful in prayer who bend their knee on behalf of mankind. Recommended.

David H. Brown with John T. Dailey, Ph.D
ISBN# 1418466735 $21.95 128 pages

Author David Brown is no stranger to the workings of the government, nor is he a stranger to the problems of plane hijacking. David was an information officer for the Federal Aviation Administration and while there he was asked to be part of a special task force to prevent air piracy. They did some great work and made great strides such as a profiling tool devised by John Dailey, who was the top psychologist at the FAA. These profiles would help identify hijackers before they boarded planes. The success rate of this was 87%. I was amazed to read about this system constructed so many years ago. I don't think the American public really knew the dangers that were mounting, do you? The warnings were there however and they were given in these reports along with recommendations; if these tactics were followed perhaps 9/11 would not have occurred. I know that this knowledge cannot change what happened on that horrible day, but perhaps we can learn from our mistakes. However, mankind is destined to make mistakes, grow and hopefully learn from our past; that is my prayer that indeed we will. Author David H. Brown has a story to tell; a burden upon his heart that I believe is well worth your time to read; the information is waiting to be shared with you. I believe you will find it intriguing, informative and will certainly help you to better understand the path that we have been on. This work contains information that all Americans will want to know. A must read for all those who care about tomorrow, and pray for a safer future.

The Greenhorns
Chas S. Elinsky
Authorhouse Bloomington
Indiana 47403
ISBN# 1420817027 $14.95 107 pages

In this outstanding work by author Chas S. Elinsky, I found myself grinning from ear to ear, much the same experience I had in reading his first work, Meisas. The Greenhorns is a historical account of the lives of Jewish immigrants as they struggled to merge themselves in American Society. Although this is indeed historical, the writing ability of the author makes this read not a boring ho-hum historical account but a learning experience of pure reading pleasure. He sprinkles splatters of lighthearted material throughout, telling stories, anecdotes and fun facts that make you keep turning the pages for another giggle. Great attention grabber.

In this work we learn so many interesting things such as some of the Jewish superstitions. Wait until you read the explanation of the 'evil eye,' 'spitting three times and saying, "Poo, Poo, Poo," and the number 'thirteen.' I found it fascinating to learn the meaning behind these. Another interesting fact was that many Jews in the early 1900's became traveling peddlers, this lead to many of the large stores that we recognize today, such as, Bloomingdale's, Gimbals', and Sterns. I always wondered how they began, now I know. Mr. Elinsky also gives us many names of Jewish people who have made an immense impact in many areas, such as Science, The Arts, Religion and Government, just to name a few.

All in all I highly recommend this book. It is packed full of information that you will find fascinating and the read is so enjoyable that you will walk away feeling totally refreshed. A book of learning that leaves you with a smile. Truly, Mr. Elinsky has outdone himself in this work, don't miss it it is well worth you time.

Ducklings Love
Lisa McCue
Random House
New York, NY
ISBN# 0679889329 $3.99 10 pages

In this little book we learn what ducklings love to do. Ducklings love jumping off a dock, or drinking from a birdbath, but most important duckling love YOU. This book is chock full of adorable illustrations that will win your heart, and keep the attention of your child. A great little book using a little duck to teach children about love. A simple read with a mighty message. A great sharing book for you and your child.

Golden Sound Story Tiny Toon Adventures The Circus Comes To Town
Justine Korman
Western Publishing
Racine, WI
ISBN# 0307740110 $14.96 12 pages

In this fun tale the circus comes to town and away the gang goes. The little ones enjoy the Flying Fiascos and the clowns, but they especially love the elephants. In this colorful illustrated book, the action comes to life as children as able to push a side button and hear the sounds of the circus. Sounds include the elephant, the roaring lion and the clang of money. A fun interaction book that's sure to keep their attention and put a smile on any little ones face.

Count All The Way To Sesame Street
Dina Anastasio
Golden Press Books
New York, NY
ISBN# 0307020231 $3.99 24 pages

In this adorable book, children are introduced to numbers, 1 to 12. The Count himself tells a story of Big Bird and his trip to Sesame Street each day and what happens along the way. They learn the numbers in the story for example, "I stopped to wait for a train to pass. I counted eight cars in the train." Children are able to see how many items make up the number eight. This is really a fun way to help your little one learn their numbers, great story and great illustrations.

Shirley Johnson
Senior Reviewer

James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
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Oregon, WI 53575-1129
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