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MBR Bookwatch

Volume 4, Number 2 February 2005 Home | MBW Index

Table of Contents

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

Donovan's Bookshelf

Tarot ReVisioned
Leigh J. McCloskey
Oleander Press Ltd.
0972950206 $TBA

Tarot should be a tool, not a belief, so choose Leigh J. McCloskey's insightful, weighty guide to use tarot as a tool for undertaking the inner spiritual journey. Chapters discuss symbolism of the archetypes of tarot, provide plenty of psychological and spiritual insights into each tarot expression and form, and include reflections on life and the devine. An intriguing, detailed study emerges.

Building Your Own Database Driven Website Using PHO & MySQL
Kevin Yank
424 Smith St. Collingwood, VICD Australia 3066
0975240218 $39.95

First-time PHO programmers who are already familiar with HTML and web design will find this a key to understanding the pathways to building a dynamic website. The user follows along and builds a real-world, practical set of applications with PHP with BUILD YOUR OWN DATABASE DRIVEN WEBSITE, making the most of examples and details which range from an ecommerce shopping cart to securing a database. All that's needed is some basic background and this practical hands-on tutorial.

The Perfect Divorce
Cheri Arterburn
B&C Publishing
4967 Ocean Blvd., San Diego, CA 92109
0975304909 $24.95

Plenty of books have been written on recovering from divorce emotionally: few have been written to outline the healthy, fair alternatives available during the entire divorce process, and how to be sure an amiable divorce leads to a healthy after-life. Cheri Arterburn is herself a divorce survivor: chapters cover everything from handling the kids to respecting an ex-spouse's new private space. The Perfect Divorce: A Survivor's Guide By Someone Who's Been There is strongly recommended reading for anyone contemplating or experiencing divorce.

Greenwood Publishing Group
88 Post Road West, Westport, CT 06881

Jacqueline Newman's FOOD CULTURE IN CHINA (0313325812, $49.95) joins others in the Food Culture Around the World' series to explore the cuisine and history of Chinese food, from its early dynasties and migrations to modern times. The inclusion of recipes for a meal based on the specific topic enhances a resource which includes plenty of cultural and social information. Richard Trahair's ENCYCLOPEDIA OF COLD WAR ESPIONAGE, SPIES, AND SECRET OPERATIONS (0313319553, $75.00) gathers the latest information on Cold War events, people and operations. An encyclopedia A-Z organization allows quick reference to scandals, spies, assassins' covert operations, victims and agents, using extensive cross-referencing along with bibliographic references to ease the researcher's job. Julie Husband and Jim O'Loughlin's DAILY LIFE IN THE INDUSTRIAL UNITED STATES, 1870-1900 (031332302X, $49.95) uses source material to document a changing period of the Industrial Age, when electric power made the night accessible, cities became packed with immigrants from the countryside looking for work in the new industries, and pollution became an issue. First-hand accounts from workers, children and others make intimate these many changes in all their facets.

Monty Halls
Firefly Books
4 Daybreak Lane, Westport, CT 06880
1552979962 $29.95 1-800-387-5085

If scuba diving is your passion, make Monty Halls' Dive: The Ultimate Guide To 60 Of The Worlds Top Dive Locations your passionate reference to the best scuba dive locations in the world. Over 300 scuba dives in 60 popular destinations are rated along with visa requirements, insights on local culture and customs, marine life, geographic information and website references. Packed with color photos, each description includes a difficulty rating, water temperature chart, and sidebars of at-a-glance detail on getting there and local dive centers.

Kitchen Culture
Alex Wilson
Firefly Books Ltd.
4 Daybreak Lane, Westport, CT 06880
1552979687 $39.95 1-800-387-5085

Want to create a kitchen which is artistic as well as functional? Look no further than Alex Wilson's Kitchen Culture: Reinventing Kitchen Design, which provides a rich photographic selection of ideas which are both practical and exciting. From the latest ideas for storage and appliances to using natural light and creating logical work patterns and surfaces, KITCHEN DESIGN is packed with not only photos and ideas, but tips on materials, suppliers and applications, making it more well-rounded than most.

The Football Game I'll Never Forget
Selected by Chris McDonell
Firefly Books Ltd.
4 Daybreak Lane, Westport, CT 06880
1552978508 $24.95 1-800-387-5085

In The Football Game I'll Never Forget: 100 NFL Star's Stories, Chris McDonell's selections come from descriptions by the players themselves, as told to the editors of Football Digest, of the most memorable moments in games they played, and will thrill any football game who is heavily involved in the history of the sport. Dozens of famous Super Bowl games, divisional championships, and more are recounted by key players who contributed to historic events. A must' for avid football fans.

Mountain Bike Maintenance
Mel Allwood
Firefly Books
4 Daybreak Lane, Westport, CT 06880
155297734X $26.95 1-800-387-5085

If there's only one at-home reference needed for your mountain bike's maintenance, make it Mel Allwood's Mountain Bike Maintenance: The Illustrated Manual, a virtual bible of explicit, user-friendly details on the care of any mountain bike. Allwood's an expert mountain bike mechanic, but explains that these bikes are surprisingly simple in design, and easy to work on. Chapters detail minor adjustments ranging from brakes to transmission', cable-cleaning and chains and speeds, and include plenty of black and white and color photos for clear detail throughout. Highly recommended.

Kayaks You Can Build
Ted Moores & Greg Rossel
Firefly Books Ltd.
4 Daybreak Lane, Westport, CT 06880
1552978613 $35.00 1-800-387-5085

Kayaking has become the latest popular fad, with many discovering them easier to transport than canoes, and lower-impact than motorboats: for those avid kayakers who would customize their own design, her comes Kayaks You Can Build: An Illustrated Guide To Plywood Construction, an illustrated guide to plywood-constructed kayaks. You don't have to start from scratch: kits are widely available, and KAYAKS YOU CAN BUILD assumes one of these kits is the starting point, providing the authors' expertise as kayak builders and boatbuilding instructors as it follows the process.

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

Two of Firefly Books' "Paddler's Guides" titles will appeal to canoeists venturing into specific regions with paddle in hand, providing maps, first-person experiences and insights, and color photos throughout. Kevin Callan's WEEKEND WILDERNESS ADVENTURES IN SOUTHERN ONTARIO (1550464159 , $19.95) charts twenty quick get-aways in Southern Ontario: one-, two- and three-day paddles which are low on portages and big on lovely natural experiences. The route descriptions are quite detailed and both novice and experienced canoeists will find plenty here to like. Callen also provides ALGONQUIN PARK (1550464175, $19.95), another Ontario paddler's destination and one of the most popular in the region. Callan is a canoe guide and his in-depth familiarity with the park allows for detailed route suggestions and advice on easier routes for less adventurous canoers.

1005 Gravenstein Hwy N., Sebastapol, CA 95472

O'Reilly's technical computer books are excellent choices for libraries and individuals seeking hand-on practical explanations and applications and longevity of subjects. Preston Gralla's WINDOWS XP POWER HOUND (0596006195, $24.95) provides an important guide to improving upon the Windows XP operating system; from using live links to turn web pages into PC wallpaper to using virtual desktops, speeding up daily shutdown and startup routines, and using keyboard shortcuts with maximum efficient. This is the reference of choice for any new XP owner and should ideally come bundled with any XP-driven PC. Elliotte Rusty Harold & W. Scott Means' XML IN A NUTSHELL (0596007647, $39.95) appears in its third edition to provide an authoritative, updated developer's guide to XML. From Unicode characters to document structures, importing schemas for namespaces, DOM application examples and more, XML IN A NUTSHELL succeeds in its intention to provide a desktop quick reference to XML 1.1 and Xinclude. The do-it-yourselfer who has a bent for starting from scratch will appreciate Robert Bruce Thompson and Barbara Fritchman Thompson's BUILDING THE PERFECT PC (0596006632, $29.95): everything but the hardware is included in a guide which tells how to customize parts and string together high-quality components to get the latest and best results. From a home theater PC with fast video and lots of storage to a PC meant for super-fast networking, the focus on customization for different purposes sets BUILDING THE PERFECT PC apart from competitors. Brian McWilliams' SPAM KINGS (0596007329, $22.95) investigates the shady world of email spammers and those trying to stop them. With a high proportion of email traffic in spam, computer users will be more than interested in a guide which delves into the spammer's underworld, from spam entrepreneurs searching for easy fortunes to notorious spam kings' which have made fortunes with the stuff. An excellent history which explains why'. Simon Carless' GAMING HACKS (0596007140, $24.95) features tip and tools for gamers written by fellow gamers, developers and game journalists. Tips include how to take a game on the road, become a hero or villain online, buying real arcade gamers, and locating imported games without hardware conflicts. Elliotte Rusy Harold's JAVA NETWORK PROGRAMMING, 3RD EDITION 0596007213, $39.95) provides keys to the latest new features of Java's network APIs. Changes between JDK 1.4 and 1.5 (now J2SE5) and more cover everything from DPO sockets and server sockets to multicasting and writing secure networking applications including the code. Erica Sadun's MODDING MAC OS X (0596007094, $24.95) features extreme' makerovers for Mac users; from discovering hidden features in popular applications to changing application and systemwide keyboard shortcuts and creating a pseudo-application. Robert Hoekman Jr.'s FLASH OUT OF THE BOX (0596006918, $29.95) is a highly recommended tutorial Flash book which outlines best practices and creates a logical order of learning progression through hands-on exercises explaining when and how to use each feature. Finally, Marc Loy's DVD STUDIO PRO 3 IN THE STUDIO (0596005881, $44.95) gives all the basics of DVD authoring with Apple's DVD Studio Pro, and uses Loy's years of background DVD authoring to explain efficient routines and tricks.

Halloween Merrymaking
Diane C. Arkins
Pelican Publishing
1000 Burmaster St., Gretna, LA 70053-2246
158980113X $19.95 1-800-843-1724

Halloween Merrymaking: An Illustrated Celebration Of Fun, Food, And Frolics From Halloweens Past
by Diane Arkins is a very fine year-round family or community library acquisition illustrating the Halloween celebration of fun, food and holiday partying. This is no repeat history: material from a range of the vintage party guides and magazines that guided hostesses in their party-giving endeavors is presented and showcased in a lively survey of festivities and small color photos.

Savannah Sketchbook
Jffrey Eley
Pelican Publishing
PO Box 3110, Gretna, LA 70054-3110
1589801024 $29.95 1-800-843-1724

This set of paintings by artists from the Savannah College of Art and Design will require of readers an enthusiasm for the college or Georgia in general: readers with such an interest will love the views of Savannah as seen through the eyes of over twenty artists who share their sketchbooks of watercolors. Jeffrey Eley is in the perfect position to collect the best of these works in SAVANNAH SKETCHBOOK: he's taught art and architecture at the college and uses the city as a textbook to compliment his courses. The sketches are presented in full color a big plus'.

Tick Tock, Don't Stop
Robert S. Swiatek
Infinity Publishing
519 West Lancaster Avenue, Haverford, PA 19041-1413
0741416212 $13.95

Author Robert Swiatek has been a computer software consultant for over twenty years, studying computers and teaching math and working numerous jobs through his life. His manual for workaholics' documents his experience as one, revealing stress factors, motivation for overwork, different levels of job achievement in different types of jobs, and more. Packed with personal insights and tips.

War for Muslim Minds
Gilles Kepel
Harvard University Press
79 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA 02138
0674015754 $23.95

Gilles Kepel is a professor of Middle East Studies at the Institute of Political Studies in Paris, and is the perfect author for WAR FOR MUSLIM MINDS: ISLAM AND THE WEST: his background succeeds in synthesizing the wealth of detail charting the breakdown of Middle East/Western relations. Chapters provide both a history and analysis of the breakdown of communications between East and West, pinpointing changing policies and party lines on both sides and analyzing the effects of terrorism on the peace process. An involving survey and history charts the ongoing war'.

Historical Atlas of Islam
Malise Ruthven & Azim Nanji
Harvard University Press
79 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA 02138
0674013859 $35.00

It's a religion holding over 6 billion believers plus it's one of the great civilizations of the world yet Islam remains puzzling to a majority of Westerners, and scholarly histories only increase the mystery. Malise Ruthven and Azim Nanji's HISTORICAL ATLAS OF ISLAM solve this confusion in providing a lovely illustrated historical atlas by a noted scholar of Islam. Maps and eye-catching illustrations accompany clear articles on everything from the early Sufi orders to Islam in the British, Russian and Dutch empires. History blends with social insights and religious coverage in an all-embracing visual display which is highly recommended for high school collections on up.

Dover Publications
31 East 2nd St., Mineola, NY 11501

These new Dover classics reprint promising, lasting titles in affordable paperbacks, making them perfect choices for replacing an aging, tattered library holding or returning to the shelf a long out-of-print classic. Some winners in recent publications include John Colley's EXPLORING THE COLORADO RIVER: FIRSTHAND ACOCUNTS BY POWELL AND HIS CREW (0486435253, $9.95), which republishes THE GREAT UNKNOWN: JOURNALS OF THE HISTORIC FIRST EXPEDITION DOWN THE COLORADO RIVER, a 1988 title. Geologist and Civil War vet John Wesley Powell and his explorers first surveyed the Colorado in 1869, and this tells of their three-month excursion into one of the country's last uncharted frontiers. D.C. Beard's SHELTERS, SHACKS AND SHANTIES (0486437477, $9.95) provides a classic and basic guide to building wilderness shelters, republishing a 1914 edition including its over-three hundred black and white drawings. Gordon grant's GREASY LUCK: A WHALING SKETCHBOOK (0486437418, $9.95) reprints the 1932 story of the American whaling industry as it existed for almost two centuries. The author's dramatic full-page black and white line drawings accent this story of whaling. William H. Miller Jr's PICTURE HISTORY OF THE QUEEN MARY AND QUEEN ELIZABETH (0486435091, $16.95) provides a winning original publication as it surveys the Queen Mary, which made over a thousand successful Atlantic crossings since its launch in 1934. Maritime authority Miller describes refinements, ship amenities, and operations during World War II, packing in black and white photos to bring his account to life.

James Marcus
The New Press
38 Greene Street, 4th Fl, New York, NY 10013
1565848705 $24.95 1-800-233-4830 came to epitomize the rise and fall of the dreams and hopes of the .com world, and AMAZONIA: FIVE YEARS AT THE EPICENTER OF THE DOT.COM JUGGERNAUT probes inside the world's most famous online merchant to examine the history of the bookselling giant. Chapters provide a first-hand account from the perspective of one employee, also include insights on Amazon's unusual caste system, and follow the rise and fall of Amazon's employees in a volatile online world. A fascinating account from an employee insider who was there to watch it all.

Copies in Seconds
David Owen
Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of Americas, New York, NY 10020
0743251172 $24.00 1-800-223-2336

How did the lowly photocopy evolve to become a business-changing commodity? Enter one Chester Carlson, who almost single-handedly pioneered the Xerox machine. David Owen provides an involving history of the Xerox as a whole, describing the long effort to turn xerography into a essential business world commodity, and considering how one shy patent attorney pursued his father's strange business scheme, rising from poverty through hard work and dream up his own copying machine. Copies in Seconds: How a Lone Inventor and an Unknown Company Created the Biggest Communication Breakthrough Since Gutenberg--Chester Carlson and the Birth of the Xerox Machine is a strongly recommended acquisition for academic and community library collections.

Seeing What's Next
Clayton M. Christensen,
Harvard Business School Press
60 Harvard Way, Boston, MA 02163
1591391857 $29.95 1-800-668-6780

Theories of innovation and industry change all too often lie in back rooms and in schoolrooms: that's why Clay Christensen, Scott Anthony and Eric Roth's practical model is so important. Decision-makers will find Seeing What's Next: Using Theories of Innovation to Predict Industry Change is directly applicable to business forecasting, from understanding the initial signals of industry change to determining the effects of competition and future success. Chapters will teach a range of readers, whether they be mutual fund managers, senior executives, or business owners. The in-depth industry case studies cement theory with fact.

10 E. 53rd St., NY, NY 10022-5299

Three excellent new business guides are strongly recommended picks. Bill Rancic's YOU'RE HIRED: HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS AND LIFE (0060765410, $22.95) tells how to succeed in business and life, and it doesn't come from a young inexperienced upstart or a staid corporate manager. Author Rancic was determined to always to things he loved and never to work a 9-5 job but still to be profitable in the process and YOU'RE HIRED reflects his success at this strategy; from creating an online cigar company from scratch to beginning a real estate venture. Truly inspirational. Michael E. Gerber's THE E MYTH REVISITED: WHY MOST SMALL BUSINESSES DON'T WORK AND WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT (0887307280, $16.00) provides a new, totally revamped updated edition of the bestseller THE E-MYTH. Here new insights on e-commerce myths are exposed, from how ordinary assumptions can create business obstacles to understanding the typical growing pains' of a company and learning the lessons of franchising to apply to any business venture.

Women Police: Portraits of Success
Patricia Lunneborg
iUniverse Inc.
2021 Pine Lake Road, #100, Lincoln NE 68512
0595320759 $21.95

The numbers of women in law enforcement are declining, but remain vital to the force, and Patricia Lunneborg encourages participation through a set of interviews of women who work as police. Over 50 women officers across the country present their views of what drew them into the force, what keeps them on the job, and what are their daily satisfactions and special challenges on the job. From community policing to issues of having a family and fitting in work and family, WOMEN POLICE: PORTRAITS OF SUCCESS is an uplifting set of interviews remarking on just what makes policing a positive for female officers.

Managing Leadership
Jim Stoup
iUniverse Inc.
2021 Pine Lake Rd. #100, Lincoln, NE 68512
0595315518 $16.95

There's a leadership crisis brewing in business and modern organizations patterned on them, author Jim Stoup maintains in Managing Leadership: Toward A New And Usable Understanding Of What Leadership Really Is--and How To Manage It, and it revolves around the modern leadership's movement toward developing singular individual leadership characteristics for senior executives. Why is this a crisis? Because such visionaries' often neglect their duties, abuse their status, and suffer from untenable burdens by the same movement which has fostered their temperament. MANAGING LEADERSHIP advocates an alternative, maintaining it's never been correct to assume leadership most be imposed from above, but that it arises from within and is the senior executive's duty to manage.

Measuring Up
Christopher Thomas & Milton Ospina
ESRI Press
380 New York Street, Redlands, CA 92373-8100
1589480880 $24.95

GIS, intelligent digital geographic information systems are turning geography into a business science, and Measuring Up: The Business Case for GISprovides case studies about companies and government agencies which have implemented GIS solutions in their business goals and plans. Chapters show how to save money and time using GIS-based systems, how to use GIS to generate revenue and help budgets, and how to manage the resources and information bases resulting from GIS systems. The inclusion of over seventy articles from over twenty business sectors span the globe in experience and setting, creating a very specific, detailed set of insights on new GIS-driven business processes. Highly recommended.

Serves You Right!
Susan Brooks
Serves You Right!
6105 E. Osborn Rd., Scottsdale, AZ 85251
0975301802 $15.95

The basics of providing great customer service are all here in a guide for service professionals who would revamp their styles or understand the basics of a satisfied customer. From providing service perceived as personal by the customer to the basics of restroom conditions, SERVES YOU RIGHT covers it all.

The Two-Income Trap
Elizabeth Warren & Amelia Warren Tyagi
Basic Books
387 Park Avenue So., NY, NY 10016
0465090907 $14.00 1-800-242-7737

This is the book that first defined the concept of middle-class squeeze' a year ago: now The Two-Income Trap: Why Middle-Class Parents are Going Broke is out in paperback to reach new audiences with its claim that despite two incomes, modern middle-class families are actually financially worse off than their one-income counterparts of a year ago. Among the insights offered by the mother/daughter author team of Elizabeth Warren and Amelia Warren Tyagi: how the problem developed, and how today's middle-class families can get out from under it.

The New Agreements In the Workplace
David Dibble
Emeritus Group & Dream Team LLC
PO Box 237133, Ansonia Station, New York NY 10023-7133
0972251901 $12.95

The New Agreements in the Workplace: Releasing the Human Spirit by David Dibble is based on the personal growth concept of the four agreements' comes a business-oriented guide which advocates using these insights as the beginning of a journey to gain mastery in the workplace, and to see transformative wisdom in work experiences. Concepts of loving, growing and serving people in the workplace advocate helping all produce the best work they can in an environment friendly to personal growth.

The Solution Path
Tasos Sioukas
989 Market Street, San Francisco CA 94103
0787962759 $19.95 1-800-225-5945

Positive thinking, teamwork, relationship-building and creativity are all ideals of the workplace; but just how to problem workplaces become turned around so these ideals can be fostered and encouraged to develop? Turn to Tasos Sioukas' The Solution Path: A Step-By-Step Guide to Turning Your Workplace Problems Into Opportunities for insights into just how: chapters provide a step-by-step guide to common workplace problems which may be viewed as opportunities for positive change. A vision statement' is advocated throughout the process.

Elements of Great Speechmaking
Robert V. Smith
University Press of America
4501 Forbes Blvd. #200, Lanham, MD 20706
076182801X $30.00

Add drama and intrigue to speeches using the tools of The Elements of Great Speechmaking: Adding Drama & Intrigue, unique in its approach of encouraging readers to innnovatively infuse speeches with drama and intrigue to make them memorable and lively. Philosophy, the elements of crafting content, and examples from teaching courses infuse a title packed with detail on everything from speech content to dress.

Conquering Complexity In Your Business
Michael L. George & Steven A. Wilson
2 Penn Plaza, New York NY 10021
0071435085 $29.95 1-877-833-5524

How are Wal-Mart, Toyota and other big businesses creating even more value in their already-large companies? In Conquering Complexity in Your Business: How Wal-Mart, Toyota, and Other Top Companies Are Breaking Through the Ceiling on Profits and Growth, co-authors Michael L. George and Steven A. Wilson maintain that in every business, there's too much complexity, which erodes profitability, confuses the customer, and adds costs. The solution: identify and eliminate this complexity where it doesn't count and add it in, where it does. Chapters discuss adding value with complexity which attracts with customization' and variety', of identifying places where complexity doesn't belong, and for quantifying the costs of achievement and complexity in both products and services.

The Way of Go
Troy Anderson
The Free Press
1230 Avenue of Americas, NY, NY 10020
0743258142 $23.00 1-800-223-2336

Far older than chess, the Asian game of Go is played by millions of all ages, all around the world, leading to company tournaments, competition for millions in prize money, and interest: so why should CEOs and non-players care? Because many of the strategies of Go translate well into corporate strategies, creating important parallels between the major rules and mindset of Go and real-life business success. From maximizing limited time and resources to increasing focus and flexibility alike, The Way of Go : 8 Ancient Strategy Secrets for Success in Business and Life provides many important foundation lessons for both the game and business.

Scholastic Inc.
557 Broadway, NY, NY 10012-3999

Scholastic's long line of wonderful picturebooks brings many recommendations with its bright drawings and fine authors. ELLA THE ELEGANT ELEPHANT by Carmela & Steven D'Amico (0439627923, $16.95), for example, pairs simple but engaging drawing with the story of a new little elephant in town who must begin at a new school. Belinda Blue the bully doesn't like Ella but some surprises evolve. Deborah Blumenthal's DON'T LET THE PEAS TOUCH! AND OTHER STORIES (043929732X, $15.95) features zany drawings by Timothy Basil Ering, complimenting three short picturebook stories of two sisters who have very different styles. All the stories revolve around fighting and making up due to these differences. Arriving too late for holiday mention but suitable for an extended collection is Jean Little's PIPPIN THE CHRISTMAS PIG (0439650623, $16.95), which requires parental assistance or basic reading skills but tells of a little barn pig who wonders about the mystery of Christmas. Pippen believe she has no holiday gifts worthy of giving, but a struggle proves her wrong. Dan Santat's THE GUILD OF GENIUSES (0439430968, $16.95) tells of a group of genius scientists who excel in fabulous inventions, but can't figure out what's wrong with Mr. Pip the monkey. Kids receive a problem-solving invitation with this story of geniuses challenged by everyday life. James Mayhew's BOY (0439651069, $15.95) tells of a boy who doesn't want to share a bed's warmth with his parents, but seeks a place of his own. His exploration of the world outside his family's cave brings some unexpected sources of warmth in this prehistoric tale. James Mayhew's WHO WANTS A DRAGON? (0439672376, $15.95) receives Lindsey Gardiner's engaging drawings as it tells of a cuddly little dragon seeking someone to love him. Rhyming text brings a sweet simple tale to life for the very young. Carolyn Crimi's GET BUSY, BEAVER! (0439548667, $15.95) tells of Thelonious, a beaver who isn't anywhere as busy as his parents. He's working too just not the same way on a beautificatio project of his own. Ana Juan's THE NIGHT EATER (0439488915, $16.95) tells of a strange little night eater' whose job is to snack on stars and nibble up the nighttime. But what happens when he gets full and refuses to snack on another bite/ Mark Teague's DETECTIVE LARUE: LETTERS FROM THE INVESTIGATION (0439458684, $15.95) is also illustrated by Mark Teague, providing a fun story of a dog who goes to prison for disobedience and who takes matters into his own paws in proving his innocence of charges. Detective Ike can uncover a surprising amount of clues even from behind bars in this fun story of innocence. Karen Hesse's CATS IN KRASINSKI SQUARE (0439435404, $16.95) tells of cats who once belonged to someone just as a young girl whose family has been destroyed by war has also once laid claim to love. A brave young woman and survival in Warsaw comes to life.

Diane C. Donovan
West Coast Editor

Harold's Bookshelf

Who Runs the Church?
Paul E. Engle, Steven B. Cowan, editors
Zondervan Publishing
5300 Patterson SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49530
ISBN: 0310246075 $16.99 312 pp.

One of the divisive matters in many churches today is the subject of church polity. In particular, what is the appropriate form of church government? In Who Runs the Church?: 4 Views on Church Government the editors compile the views of representatives of the four predominant types of church government. Just about every form of church government is some variation of one of these four. The four views discussed are Episcopalianism, Presbyterianism, Single-Elder Congregationalism, and Plural-Elder Congregationalism. Arguing for Episcopalianism is Dr. Peter Toon, rector of Christ Church, Biddulph Moor, Diocese of Lichfield, in the Church of England. Arguing the position of Presbyterianism is Dr. L. Roy Taylor the clerk/coordinator of administration of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America. Presenting the position of Single-Elder Congregationalism is Dr. Paige Patterson, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. And presenting the case for Plural-Elder Congregationalism is Samuel E. Waldron, Ph.D. candidate in systematic theology at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. A typical chapter starts with one of them presenting their position on their chosen form of church government and why it is the most appropriate one. This presentation is then followed by commentary by each of the people with differing views. Each presents their case with passion and argues it well. If you want to understand why some churches choose one form of government or why others feel that position is wrong you will find excellent explanations in this book. Who Runs the Church? 4 Views on Church Government is highly recommended to anyone interested in this area.

Understanding Open Source & Free Software Licensing
Andrew M. St. Laurent
O'Reilly Media, Inc.
1005 Gravenstein Highway North Sebastopol, CA 95472
ISBN: 0596005814 $24.95 178 pp.

Software licensing can be one of the most confusing issues of software installation and development. Most people assume that there are few if any issues with Open Source and Free Software Licensing but that often is not the case. While it may be free to install you wade into murky waters when you change the code, make a new program that uses some of the coding of the open source program, make a derivative program, or a host of other situations. Part of the confusion is that all Open Source or Free Software licensing is not the same. For example there are the MIT, BSD, Apache, and Academic Free Licenses. Or what about the GNU license? Most people don't realize that there are two different versions of GNU licenses, the GNU General Public License (GPL) and the GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL)? Then there is the Mozilla Public License, Q Public License, Artistic License, and Creative Commons License. Author Andrew M. St. Laurent does an excellent job explaining all these various licenses, what you can do and can't do, the various benefits and shortcomings of the licenses and pitfalls to watch for. If you are doing development in this arena, have made an improvement to one of the programs, or have written a program for internal use that might have resell value you can't afford to not understand the nuances of the various licensing agreements. Understanding Open Source & Free Software Licensing is highly recommended and required reading for anyone in this situation.

Truth and Fiction in The Da Vinci Code
Bart D. Ehrman, editor
Oxford University Press, Inc.
198 Madison Avenue New York, NY 10016
ISBN: 0195181409 $20.00 197 pp.

With The Da Vinci Code at the center of a controversy over how much of it is based on fact and how much is fiction a strong historian who specializes in this time period would be of tremendous help. Bart D. Ehrman comes forward to fill this role. Professor Ehrman is chairman of the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and has made several appearances on the History Channel, CNN, A&E, and other programs as a widely recognized expert on the early Church. While he recognizes that The Da Vinci Code is a well written book and "a real page turner" he also takes exception with author Dan Brown's claim that it is based on historical fact. Since this is an area of particular expertise for Mr. Ehrman he took a particular interest in the book and its claims. For example, at several points in The Da Vinci Code the author has the characters refer to the writings of the early Christian church that were not put into the canon and what they contained. Fortunately, this is an area in which Mr. Ehrman has written two books and produced a lecture series on those "lost" scriptures and their contents. So he speaks with authority about what was in those manuscripts as well as what was not. While Mr. Ehrman does not step outside the areas of his expertise and comment on the information about Da Vinci and other art works mentioned in the book, he does provide a lucent and thoroughly well researched commentary on the historical aspects of the book as related to the early Church. Needless to say, the multiple errors and outright fantasies in this area leads the reader to question the credibility of the rest of The Da Vinci Code. Truth and Fiction in The Da Vinci Code is a highly recommended book and should be read by anyone who has read or intends to read The Da Vinci Code.

The Sushi Kit
Setsuko Yoshizuka, Shizuko Mishima
Running Press Book Publishers
125 South Twenty-Second Street Philadelphia, PA 19103-4339
ISBN: 0762413530 $30.00

With an innovative approach to learning about sushi, The Sushi Kit comes complete with recipes and all the tools necessary to prepare those recipes. In addition to the book you get a mold to help make nigiri-zushi, a rolling mat for making maki-zushi, a rice paddle, chopsticks, and dipping bowls. The first part of the book includes a lot of tips to help pick the right ingredients. Needless to say, picking the right fish can make a tremendous difference in the quality of the results. Following this is are short sections on Nigiri-zushi, gunkan, maki-zushi, kappa-maki (cucumber roll), California roll, teriyaki chicken roll, preparation instructions, serving suggestions, and a glossary. These are easy recipes to prepare and although there are few actual recipes it is easy enough to work from the base provided here to create your own favorites. This book is primarily for the novice as it does not contain very many recipes and all the ones included are both common and easy to prepare without mistakes. With easy to follow instructions and delicious results, The Sushi Kit is recommended for the novice or the average person who just wants to prepare their own at home on occasion.

Speed Bump
Dave Coverly
ECW Press
2120 Queen Street East, Suite 200 Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4E IE2
1550226584 $16.95 170 pp.

It has been a long time since I've read a cartoon book that is laugh out loud funny. Dave Coverly's quirky sense of humor and drawing skills combine to create a book that is hard to put down until you have read every one of the cartoons. In fact I didn't put it down until I had completed it and had to keep sharing individual cartoons with others as I went along. A joy to read and sure to put a smile on your face, Speed Bump is highly recommended humor.

Snowflakes for All Seasons
Cindy Hingham
Gibbs Smith, Publisher
PO Box 667 Layton, UT 84041
ISBN: 158685528X $9.95 80 pp.

At some point in our childhood almost everyone has probably folded paper and cut snips out of it to form a snowflake pattern. Now this snowflake tradition is no longer just for the winter. Following Cindy Hingham's specific folding pattern you can copy one of the 72 stencils in the book onto the paper, cut them out and end up with a snowflake pattern for any holiday. The patterns include hourglasses for New Years, hearts, arrows, cupids, and lips for Valentines, shamrocks for St. Patrick's Day, bunnies, lilies and baby chicks for Easter, Liberty Bells, and stars for the Fourth of July, pumpkins, black cats, owls, and ghosts for Halloween, Christmas bells, and snowmen for Christmas, teddy bears, dogs, cats, butterflies, love birds, and many others. Snowflakes for All Seasons is a very creative and fun craft book for children and adults and is very highly recommended.

Managing Security with Snort and IDS Tools
Kerry Cox & Christopher Greg
O'Reilly Media, Inc.
1005 Gravenstein Highway North Sebastopol, CA 95472
ISBN: 0596006616 $39.95 304 pp.

This is basically a book about intrusion detection using all open source tools. It starts with an introductory chapter that explains the problem of defining an intrusion and why it is becoming more and more of a problem. It follows up with a chapter on network traffic analysis including packet sniffing and using tcpdump and ethereal. Then comes the meat of the text installing Snort. Of course to really understand how to use Snort you have to understand how attacks occur and the common methods used. The authors provide a really nice chapter on this subject. After that come five chapters on configuring, deploying, and managing Snort rules, intrusion prevention strategies, and tuning. Once Snort is up and running the authors examine the use of ACID and SnortCenter as Snort IDS management consoles. Either of these products drastically decreases the burden of analyzing what has happened and is happening on the intrusion detection forefront. The book ends with additiona! l tools for Snort IDS management and implementation strategies for high-bandwidth situations. There are other very good books on Snort but one of the things that makes this one particularly valuable is that it also looks at other open source tools and provides a good basic background on intrusion detection theory. Managing Security with Snort and IDS Tools is highly recommended for those in charge of intrusion detection and prevention in a network environment and planning to implement a system their self.

The Real-World Network Troubleshooting Manual
Alan Sugano
Charles River Media, Inc.
10 Downer Avenue Hingham, MA 02043
ISBN: 1584503483 $44.95 383 pp.

This is one of the very few computer troubleshooting books I have read that actually delivers on its promise as a real-world manual. The very first chapter set this book apart from most others by the excellent writing style and clear explanations. This first section covers the basics from how to approach the problem to the steps to take to isolate it and the methodology for approaching a workable solution. These are the specific methods and techniques that so many computer consulting companies use and wish they could find employees who know how to follow it. Although it is a Windows centric book this part on troubleshooting methodology applies to all operating systems and software. After the overview of how to troubleshoot a problem, the book goes into specific scenarios with both examples and cookbooks on how to resolve the problem. Areas that get their own chapter include network printing, workstation troubleshooting, server troubleshooting, SQL Server troubleshooting, Exchange Server troubleshooting, wide area networks and IP Routing, wireless networking, firewall troubleshooting, and virtual private networking troubleshooting. This book provides specific tools, specific techniques, and details on how to interpret the results. When a printer prints garbage, when servers disappear from the network neighborhood, when shared network resources suddenly disappear, you will want to pick this book up first. The Real-World Network Troubleshooting Manual is very highly recommended.

Privacy: What Developers and IT Professionals Should Know
J. C. Cannon
c/o Pearson Education, Inc.
75 Arlington Street, Suite 300 Boston, MA 02116
ISBN: 0321224094 $49.99 299 pp.

When it comes to the privacy issue, this is a lucid look at what the issues are, how they are often overlooked or violated in the normal course of business and things developers should consider when writing programs. The book covers everything from the mundane privacy problems people don't think about to high level privacy issues. For example, he discusses the privacy problems of sending a "private" email to someone else when it is subject to examination at your ISP level, may be on their backup tapes, may be on the log files of several computers between your ISP and the ending ISP, may be subject to examination by anyone of them, etc. He also discusses the privacy considerations of such items as medical patient records accessed over the Internet, encryption issues, and authorization issues. With all this background information in mind he then discusses how to integrate consideration of these privacy issues into your program and way of thinking in general. This is not an expose of particular privacy problems but a theoretical framework for privacy that uses real-world examples to illustrate the issues. One of the really good points the author makes is that there is a difference between privacy and security. There are a lot of good books on security available today but privacy is rarely discussed. The author provides a thoroughly convincing argument as to why security is not enough and privacy issues must be considered at all times and in all environments. Privacy: What Developers and IT Professionals Should Know is highly recommended for everyone even remotely connected to the computer technology environment, no exceptions.

The Perfect Stock
Brad Koteshwar
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200 Bloomington, IN 47403
ISBN: 1418486884 $17.50 189 pp.

There are plenty of technical books for the stock investor on the market today. This one takes a totally different approach for teaching the basics of stock investing and how the market moves by following the characters in a fictional novel. By reading the various actions they take, the reasoning behind those actions, and the how they adapt to changes the reader comes to understand the basics of the stock market. If you are not a technically inclined person and don't want to get bogged down in trend analysis, price/earnings ratios, or other more complex methods of explaining the market then this book is a great way to get a handle on what goes on. If you want insight into how Wall Street works for both the insiders who understand it and the outsiders who don't then The Perfect Stock is an easy and illuminating read.

PDF Hacks
Sid Steward
O'Reilly Media, Inc.
1005 Gravenstein Highway North Sebastopol, CA 95472
ISBN: 0596006551 $24.95 265 pp.

With PDF files everywhere from web sites to help files, sooner or later you will run into a situation where you need to do something to a PDF file. For me the first time I realized I needed to do something I could not was when I needed to take one and convert it to a Word format so I could quickly outline the high points to study for a certification exam. After several hours I finally got it into a text file thanks to a web site that did the conversion. But even then I lost the tables, illustrations, etc. How to do that is one of the hacks included in this book. I wish it were printed a few years ago because it would have made my life easier. After testing that hack I browsed through the book and kept finding myself asking "You can do that with a PDF file?" There are a lot of good tips in this book from making Acrobat startup faster, to converting PDF files, to automatic timed scrolling for easy reading, to creating a PDF using Word, WordPerfect, OpenOffice, Perl, HTML, PHP, and Java. With page after page of coding, this is a tremendously useful book for anyone who wants to create or edit PDF files or change the way Acrobat works with files. PDF Hacks: 100 Industrial-Strength Tips & Tools is very highly recommended and will be put on my shelf reserved for books I want to be able to access quickly.

Peoples and Cultures of the World
Edward Fischer
The Teaching Company
4151 Lafayette Center Drive, Suite 100 Chantilly, VA 20151-1232
Format: Audio CD, DVD, Audio Cassette
Lectures: 24

When it comes to culture, practices, beliefs, ideas of right and wrong, political organization, economic perspectives, family roles and a whole host of other anthropological factors there are many similarities and many differences between groups of people. How do these societal norms come about? How do they affect how the culture develops? These and many other questions are examined in one of the most interesting introductions to anthropology I have ever heard. Professor Edward Fischer, Associate Professor of Anthropology at Vanderbilt University, starts by examining the individual and how their language and thought affects their beliefs and culture (and vice versa). Then he examines how that individual fits into a larger society, affects the society, and the society affects them. And finally he examines how the current trend toward globalization has affected the various societies. One of the best parts of this lecture series is the great use of examples from specific cultures used to illustrate various points. When discussing magic and religion he discusses the Fulbe of northern Cameroon with their strong belief and tradition of magic with cannibal witches, protective amulets and other things. He discusses the rites of passage among the Fulbe and the Sambia of New Guinea, cultures with multiple spouses like the Trobriand Islands and matrilineality. He even discusses marital preferences and taboos like marriage between cousins, siblings, and other groups. Two groups that were particularly interesting to me were the Dobe Ju/'hoansi of southern Africa (hunter/gatherers that use a click language) and the Yanomamo in South America. He spends considerable time with these two as examples of particular types of societies. Another interesting group that illustrates the adaptability of some societies and how they are changing as a result of globalization is the Kayapo. They have learned what newspaper and television programs want and how to put on a good show for them. As a result they have attracted international attention to their plight. Professor Edward Fischer is an excellent lecturer who does a great job of selecting his topics and social groups for illustration purposes. Peoples and Cultures of the World is highly recommended and one of the best of the already great courses offered by The Teaching Company.

PayPal Hacks: 100 Industrial-Strength Tips & Tools
Shannon Sofield, Dave Nielsen, Dave Burchell
O'Reilly Media, Inc.
1005 Gravenstein Highway North Sebastopol, CA 95472
ISBN: 0596007515 $24.95 325 pp.

This is basically a book on how to get the most out of PayPal. Whether you are trying to make a purchase, sell and item, or setup a complete e-Commerce solution based on PayPal you will find the information on how to do it here. Some of the information in the book includes how to create an account, what to do when you forget your password, how to get things fixed if your account has been limited, how to pay from a cell phone, dispute a payment, receive money, upgrade your account, lower seller fees, hack-proof your payment buttons, and even encryption. It even has information on the PayPal webservices API and putting a PayPal payment button in an email. This is an excellent and detailed course on how to use the intricacies of PayPal. PayPal Hacks: 100 Industrial-Strength Tips & Tools is highly recommended to everyone who shops or sells on the Internet as well as anyone who programs sites to use PayPal.

The Mezonic Agenda: Hacking the Presidency
Dr. Herbert H. Thompson, Spyros Nomikos
Syngress Publishing, Inc.
800 Hingham Street Rockland, MA 02370
ISBN: 1931836833 $34.95 408 pp.

The U.S. moved to electronic voting for the presidential election in 2004. At the same time hackers continue to prove again and again that there are always ways to get into a system and change data. The question now becomes one of whether a really determined hacker can alter the results of such a presidential election. This is the premise of The Mezonic Agenda. It is a fictional story of Chad Davis who spearheads an effort to penetrate the defenses of e-vote hardware from Advice Software, Inc. It is a good read but is also an educational story that allows you to learn many of the fundamentals of software deconstruction, how it is used to hide information, and other ways a hacker might penetrate a system. In addition to the book there is a CD that includes a game competition to begin in 2005. Hidden within the book and the files on the CD is information that if correctly decrypted allows you to elect yourself president! This is a unique twist that has you directly applying the methods you learn in the book. The Mezonic Agenda is a recommended read as good fiction, an educational book, and just plain fun. Pick up a copy and enjoy.

Timothy L. Warner
Charles River Media
10 Downer Ave Hingham, MA 02043
ISBN: 1584503556 $35.95 408 pp.

One of the many Microsoft certification exams the Microsoft Certified Desktop Support Technician (MCDST) certifies a technician to support the workstation or home user's system. The certification consists of one exam on Operating Systems and one on Applications. The purpose of this book is to prepare the test taker to pass the exams. As such, the book covers the exam objectives, installation, configuration, troubleshooting operating systems and applications, hardware devices and drivers, user environments, customization, and application security. It even comes with a CD-ROM with practice tests. The book does a good job of covering the various ways to install a Windows operating system as well as how to update a Windows system. Throughout the book are questions and answers to help the reader test their knowledge of the subject. Unfortunately, while it does provide the answers it does not provide an explanation of why it is the correct one. Presumably you would have to look it up in the text to understand why it is the correct one and the other answers incorrect. While the subject can be very technical it is written in an easy to follow narrative style. One of the problems of most certification exams is that real life often varies considerably from a pristine laboratory environment assumed in most exam situations. This may be an excellent book to prepare for the exam if that is your goal but it may not the best to learn actual installation and troubleshooting. For example, the problems that arise when upgrading an operating system can be quite difficult to troubleshoot and the book does not deal with this real life situation to any significant extent. For the purpose of passing the certification exam MCDST Exams is a recommended purchase and since acquiring the certification is the purpose of the book, it scores a direct hit.

Making It On Broadway
David Wienir, Jodie Langel
Allworth Press
10 East 23rd Street New York, NY 10010
ISBN: 1581153465 $19.95 245 pp.

A collection of commentary from Tony Award winners and other successful actors, Making It On Broadway gives a real-life view into the career of an actor. From the beginnings of their career when they first took an interest in acting to moving and settling in to a new home, survival jobs, live theater, Broadway life, the changing scene of Broadway, the personal life of an actor and problems that acting creates, romance, road trips, and finally when dreams come true, the whole life cycle of an actor is uncovered in detail. This is a very good book that shows the difference between the glamorized version of being a Broadway actor and what it really takes in terms of commitment, experiences, and the toll on your personal life. But it does not concentrate entirely on the difficulties of becoming an actor; the authors also discuss the thrill when you actually make it. When so many people have false ideas of what it would be like, and colleges and training facilities have a fin! ancial interest in encouraging students to remain it is a breath of fresh air to hear the viewpoint of all of these actors who have actually made it. Just like any other occupation, acting has its good and bad points and this book points them out from the perspective of people who did make it. Making It On Broadway is a recommended read for anyone who wants to pursue acting as a career.

An Introduction to Judaism
Shai Cherry
The Teaching Company
4151 Lafayette Center Drive, Suite 100 Chantilly, VA 20151-1232
Format: Audio CD, DVD, Audio Cassette
Lectures: 24

Judaism has a long history and rich heritage as a religion and a culture. Despite exile, conquest, and dispersion around the world it has survived to maintain a common sense of community among its people. What is this common bond that defines what it is to be Jewish? How do different groups within Judaism define their history and beliefs so that they maintain this common bond while proclaiming their differences? These are some of the questions answered by Professor Shai Cherry in this excellent series of lectures. Professor Cherry introduces the listener to the most important writings and oral traditions of Judaism including the Torah, Mishnah, Gemara, Talmud (Mishnah and Gemara combined), Midrash, Nevi?m, Ketuvim, and Tanakh (Torah, Nevi?m, and Ketuvim combined). I really appreciated the fact that he takes the time to carefully define terms that may mean different things depending on their context. For example, one of the more confusing terms when reading or listening to Jewish teachings is the use of the word Torah. Depending on the context it can mean the first five books of the Hebrew Bible, the entire Hebrew Bible, or all the teachings including the Tanakh, Talmud, and Midrash. He also explains the Jewish holidays, various movements within Judaism (Reform, Conservative, Modern Orthodox and Reconstructionist, Zionist, and others), and how various events have affected Jewish thought and shaped their traditions. This is a scholarly treatment of Judaism and provides a firm foundation for understanding Judaism. An Introduction to Judaism is highly recommended and an exceptional source of information for anyone who wants to gain a basic understanding of the Jewish religion.

The Linux Cookbook, 2nd Edition
Michael Stutz
No Starch Press, Inc.
555 De Haro Street, Suite 250 San Francisco, CA 94107
ISBN: 1593270313 $39.95 695 pp.

A review of this book should start with a description of what this book is and is not. There is nothing here on how to install, troubleshoot, or administer Linux and a cookbook is not supposed to contain that type information. This is a cookbook and is designed to be a resource when you have a specific goal in mind and want to know how to get there. The first several chapters focus on the very basic Linux information that everyone working with the operating system should know. This includes such common items as how to determine what processes are running and how to determine who you are logged in as. Of course anyone with even a minimum of Linux experience knows this stuff. For the more experienced Linux users the later chapters are where the real treasure is located. These include things like viewing and editing images, PostScript, working with sound, and cross-platform conversions. The recipe style layout really works well for this type of book. Like a list of ing! redients the author lists the program to be run, package manager name for the installation package, and the home page where the package can be found. This is one of the really nice features of the book. If you are looking for how to accomplish a specific task you can look it up, see if there is a program to accomplish it, locate and install the program if necessary, and follow through the specific directions to achieve your desired result. The Linux Cookbook, 2nd Edition is very highly recommended for the new Linux user, and recommended as a desk reference to keep available for the more experienced user who may just need to know how to convert that mp3 file to another format and burn the result to a CD.

How People Grow
Dr. Henry Cloud, Dr. John Townsend
Zondervan Publishing
5300 Patterson SE Grand Rapids, MI 49530
ISBN: 0310257379 $12.99 362 pp.

This book can be summarized as a Biblical based approach to understanding personal growth and how that relates to spiritual growth. Two psychologists, Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend examine the personal growth process and point out how that process is found within the pages of the Bible. With that personal growth process as the starting point they then show how personal growth is in fact spiritual growth. This is one of the best books on personal growth that I have read. How People Grow is highly recommended to anyone seeking to change their life, get out of the rut of stagnation, or move to a happier place in their life. It is also recommended to Christian counselors, Pastoral counselors, and others involved with helping people.

Guide to Low-Cost Canadian and US Pharmacies
Tod Cooperman, MD, Gabriel Levitt, MA, editors, LLC
333 Mamaroneck Avenue White Plains, NY 10605
ISBN: 0972969713 $17.95 142 pp.

Ordering from Canadian and U.S. discount pharmacies can save significantly over regular retail establishments. The problem is how do you know which ones are reputable and which ones are not, which have quality medicines, which add shipping costs, which require a Canadian doctor's prescription, which ones can be trusted, which ones are licensed and which offer the best prices. This book includes the top rated pharmacies with the best prices according to Whether you are considering a Canadian pharmacy, mail-order pharmacy, or an online pharmacy this will help you through the maze of potential suppliers and help you find the ones that will best serve your needs. One of the really nice features of the book is the information on hidden costs like dispensing fees, medical review fees, and shipping fees. It also includes all the information you might need including available payment methods, how a prescription can be submitted, contact information, and the like. If you are looking for an alternative to the high costs of filling monthly prescriptions locally and need advice on how to go about using mail-order or online pharmacies as well as which ones can be trusted you will find the Guide to Low-Cost Canadian and US Pharmacies indispensable.

From Bash to Z-Shell: Conquering the Command Line
Kiddle, Peek, Stephenson
2560 Ninth Street, Suite 219 Berkeley, CA 94710
ISBN: 1590593766 $34.99 408 pp.

When it comes to dealing with the various Linux shells most Linux books devote a single chapter or so to the subject. While this book does cover most of the command line information you need to use a Linux system, its best feature is the extensive coverage of shell scripting and other subjects that generally receive minimal treatment in most Linux books. The authors list internal shell commands and how they are used as well as working with the shell history file. It ends with a section on extending the functionality of the shell based on the items learned in the first two sections. Shell coverage is excellent for the bash and the z-shell and pretty much non-existent for others like the c-shell, t-shell and Korn shell. From Bash to Z-Shell: Conquering the Command Line is one of the best books I've read on the bash and z-shell and is highly recommended to anyone learning to work with either of these two of the most popular of all Linux shells.

Exploring the JDS Linux Desktop
Tom Adelstein, Sam Hiser
O'Reilly & Associates, Inc.
1005 Gravenstein Highway North Sebastopol, CA 95472
ISBN: 0596007523 $34.95 322 pp.

Putting Linux on the desktop has been the clarion call of many Linux users as well as people who want a system that does not crash almost daily or have multiple security and other problems. The problem is that a graphical interface that is similar enough to the Windows or MacIntosh systems that there would be minimal training and yet is easy to install without problems has been long in coming. While there are several contenders today, the Java Desktop System (JDS) Linux Desktop is one of the fastest, and easiest to install. In Exploring the JDS Linux Desktop the authors take the reader through the installation process and all the basic information for using the JDS Linux Desktop. Not only do they go over the infrastructure items like networking and printing but also the most common applications that come with JDS Linux Desktop. These applications include email, calendaring, instant messenger, the web browser, StarWriter (word processing), and StarCalc (spreadsheet). They even go over various options for running Windows programs in JDS Linux including some options that often run Windows programs faster than Windows!

The book comes with a Live CD, which is a version of JDS Linux Desktop that runs from the CD. Simply put it into your CD-Rom drive and boot your computer and you are running Linux with a graphical interface. I tried it on a couple of computers on which I had trouble getting a much more popular version of Linux to recognize the on-board video interface but JDS Linux Desktop got it right the first time and worked as expected without any special manual configuration. While many of the items covered in the book are not on the CD, enough of them are there to give the user a good feel for how the operating system works. The book warns that the Live CD allows you to create documents but you cannot save them. However, that is not entirely true. If you are knowledgeable in Linux it is simple enough to open a terminal and mount the hard drive including a Windows formatted drive and save any files there. Although I have done a lot with the Linux operating system this is the first time I have used the Sun Java Desktop System (JDS). The interface is very professional and definitely on par with Windows. Exploring the JDS Linux Desktop is a highly recommended read for anyone who wants to learn the basics of navigating and using this system.

The Encyclopedia of Origami
Nick Robinson
Running Press Book Publishers
125 South Twenty-second Street Philadelphia, PA 19103-4399
ISBN: 0762418958 $27.95 157 pp.

One of the better origami books, The Encyclopedia of Origami does one of the best jobs of describing and illustrating how to make the folds that I have seen. That is usually the biggest problem with origami books, how do you describe and illustrate an unusual fold? This is a three-dimensional activity illustrated in a two-dimensional medium and is difficult to describe well. Author Nick Robinson does a great job and all the folds on the projects I did were easy to figure out. The book is divided into five sections that work from basic techniques to beginner projects to intermediate projects to challenging projects and ends with a photographic piece on origami from around the world. This last section showcases masterful pieces of origami work and while it does not include instructions for these pieces it does provide a glimpse of what can be done by a professional. Some of the included subjects include geometric shapes, animals, and flowers. With projects for all ages, The Encyclopedia of Origami is a wonderfully fun book anyone can use to successfully fold origami pieces and a highly recommended book.

The Early Middle Ages
Professor: Philip Daileader
The Teaching Company
4151 Lafayette Center Drive, Suite 100 Chantilly, VA 20151-1232
Format: Audio CD, DVD, Audio Cassette
Lectures: 24

Professor Philip Daileader, Associate Professor of History at The College of William and Mary provides this series of lectures covering the Roman and Carolingian empires from approximately 300 CE to 1000 CE. Starting with the Roman Empire he examines the politics and other aspects of life as well as their nearly continuous problems with barbarians on the edge of the empire. One of the most important rulers during this period was Constantine the Great. When Constantine converted from paganism to Christianity it became the official religion of the Roman Empire. By 324 he had reunited the two divisions into a single empire creating both advantages and its own set of problems. One of the more interesting problems was how someone who desired to become a Christian martyr could go about doing it. Becoming a martyr was the ultimate sacrifice and proof of your dedication to Christ. When it became difficult to become a martyr because the empire had embraced Christianity they so! ught other ways to suffer and prove their commitment. Some went so far as to move out to the wilderness and live an ascetic life style. From this movement came the monk lifestyle along with a multitude of ascetic variations. For example, Professor Daileader discusses the practices of the stylites who lived on the top of long poles for many years so they would both suffer and be close to God. While that is one of the extremes in the ascetic lifestyle Professor Daileader also discusses the more common manifestations of monks and how it affected the history of the time period including the Irish and Anglo-Saxon monks and their effect on the history of the British Isles. Another interesting area discussed is the trial by ordeal where your proof of innocence was based on a miracle. For example, you might have to put your hand in scalding water and if it was not seriously burned then you were innocent. Or you might be bound hand and foot and thrown in a river to see if you would float. If you sank then you were innocent and possibly dead. Of course any discussion of this time period would not be complete without a thorough treatment of the military conquests of Islam, the rise of the Carolingian empire, and Charlemagne. Dr. Daileader does an excellent job of pointing out the contributions that Charlemagne made to standardize texts and how these changes still affect us today. He finishes off the series of lectures by discussing the Viking raids, decline of the Carolingian empire, King Alfred in England, and how the family system changed during this period. The section on the Viking raids was particularly interesting and included a lot of information that I had not heard elsewhere. Dr. Daileader has an excellent ability to provide a solid educational lecture in a manner that is both fun and interesting at all times. "The Early Middle Ages" is very highly recommended to anyone with an interest in the history of this time period.

Crazy About Crockery
Penny E. Stone
Champion Press, Ltd.
500 West Bradley Road, A129 Fox Point, WI 53217
ISBN: 1891400363 $24.95 299 pp.

This is actually a combination of three other crockery cookbooks Crazy About Crockery: 101 Easy and Inexpensive Recipes for Less than 75 cents a serving, Crazy About Crockery: 101 Soups & Stews for Less than 75 cents a serving, and Crazy About Crockery: 101 Recipes for Entertaining at Less than 75 cents a serving. This compilation book keeps each of the three included books separated by a tab so it ends up being organized by Inexpensive Recipes, Soups and Stews, and Entertaining Recipes by default. While there are no photos of any of the end products, the instructions are clear and easy to follow so you really can't make a mistake. I like the wide variety of recipes in each section. These include ones you would expect, like various casseroles, and recipes you would not expect to cook with a crock-pot like Cornish Game Hens and Brazilian Coffee. The estimated time to prepare and the number of servings is listed at the top of the recipe right under the name so you don't have to scan through the recipe each time you are looking for something that can be prepared in fifteen minutes. Unfortunately it does not have the cooking time listed there also, so while it might take fifteen minutes to prepare it may take three hours to cook. If you are looking for a meal that can be prepared in fifteen minutes and cook for two hours while you attend your child's school recital you have to search through the recipes. Very well organized with a tremendous variety of recipes for all occasions, Crazy About Crockery is a recommended cookbook.

The Age of Pericles
Jeremy McInerney
The Teaching Company
4151 Lafayette Center Drive, Suite 100 Chantilly, VA 20151-1232
Format: Audio CD, DVD, Audio Cassette
Lectures: 24

Before the 5th century BC Athens was still predominantly just another city on the Mediterranean. But that was soon to change, as Athens would become an important cultural power and a strong influence on Western culture. Professor Jeremy McInerney, an Associate Professor in the Department of Classical Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, takes the listener back to this period in an extraordinary series of lectures. We are introduced to the Greek culture shortly after the conclusion of the Persian wars. These years have Athens uniting all the smaller Greek states into a cohesive empire. This uniting of the states resulted in their becoming a military power with no equal in the Aegean. But the military was not the only thing changing; the political and cultural environments were also evolving quickly. But the military and political environments are not the only ones Professor McInerney examines during these lectures. He also takes us on a tour of the Agora and its importance in the life of the Athenian citizens and a discussion of Pericles as well as his mistress Aspasia. McInerney examines the architecture of the time including the Parthenon and the Acropolis and the building program of Pericles. He discusses the symbology used in the various columns, layout, and other details of construction. Professor McInerney also turns his attention to everyday matters of the period including the social functions of festivals, the educational system, marriage, property, business, and even death as well as the writings of Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides, and the Athenian court system. Of course the rise of the Greek culture did not end with Pericles and the title of the lecture series not withstanding, Professor McInerney also discusses several of the most important influences after Pericles including Socrates, the Sophists, and Plato. This is an excellent lecture series with a speaker who keeps it entertaining and interesting. The Age of Pericles is a highly recommended lecture series for anyone interested in the rise of the Greek nation to become the center of culture, military, and political power of the area.

Making Right Turns in Your Relationship
Myron D. Lewis, M.S.W.
Hansyd Publishing
PO Box 557 Harbor Springs, MI 49740
ISBN: 0975489615 $16.95 208 pp.

In any relationship both partners will have to make choices and be responsible for their actions. Sometimes they will be the right choice and sometimes they will not. When you make a bad choice, or wrong turn, you cause the relationship to experience tension, frustration, and disappointment that you should not have to endure. Making the right turn allows you to avoid these problems and experience more satisfaction in the relationship. While nobody is perfect and so there will always be times when we make a wrong turn, it is possible to learn to identify them early and make the right choices more and more often. This is the goal of this book, to teach the reader how to identify and make those right turns. The author starts by examining the characteristics of both a healthy and unhealthy relationship. From there he moves to understanding and respecting your relationship, creating a vision for where you want your relationship to be, and making it a priority in your life to move in that direction. By the time he gets the reader to this point the author starts asking the reader to consider their answers to various questions to help gain direction for their relationship. For example he asks, "What behaviors do you want to stop doing on a daily basis?", "What behaviors would you like to start implementing daily?", "Identify several positive characteristics or behaviors of your partner."

Other areas the author looks at include the rules and boundaries we live by, how to communicate better, better problem solving skills, creating change, and creating an action plan. If you want to take an active role in improving your relationship this book will help you understand how. There are other books on rescuing or improving a relationship but very few of them go as far as Myron Lewis has done in preparing insightful questions to help the reader decide what is important, what needs to change, and how to achieve that change. Making Right Turns in Your Relationship is highly recommended for anyone who truly wants to work through a plan with their partner to actively create change in their relationship and manage that change to create the best possible relationship.

The Play of Your Life
Colleen A. Sabatino
Rodale Press
33 East Minor St. Emmaus, PA 18098-0099
ISBN: 1579549640 $16.95 250 pp.

Using a unique format to help you find the career that will make you happy, author Colleen Sabatino approaches a career search like it is a play. The first act is career exploration. The base on which the rest of the "play" will rest is finding the right career for you. Act two is implementing a successful career search so you can actually get the job you want. For many people the hardest part of finding the right career is deciding what that career should be. Colleen A. Sabatino addresses that problem in the first part of her book by providing several questionnaires for the reader to fill in. From the results of the questionnaires you determine many of the most critical factors to finding the career you want. Some of the factors examined are your values, personality type, talents, interests, and fascinations. The next part (beginning of Act Two) is to develop a great resume and tailor it for the audience to whom you will be presenting it. Of course the final part of the play is the actual production. In this section she covers networking, the open job market vs. the hidden job market, and the interview process. For those who are seeking their first job or seeking to make a career change to a career where they can feel more satisfied this is a book they will want to look at. The Play of Your Life is highly recommended to any career or job seekers.

Harold McFarland
Senior Reviewer

Klausner's Bookshelf

Phi Beta Bimbo
Trish Jensen
Love Spell
ISBN: 0505525852 $6.99

Sociology graduate student Leah Smith decides to conduct a comparative analysis research study for her doctorate; her subject is to compare a bimbo to a nerd in the work place. To obtain data, Leah accepts two interviews under different names for employment at Just Peachy, her brother's cosmetics firm. For one appointment she arrives dressed and acting like a "classic" bimbo; for the other she behaves as a nerd. Her sibling Steve hired security specialist Mark Colson to determine who in his successful company is selling secrets to competitors. Mark notices that the bimbo and the nerd are the same person. Leah is his prime suspect for why else would she pretend to be two other people besides herself. The anecdotal approach seems lacking in terms of statistics, but not in terms of a wacky wonderful contemporary romance. The story line is fun as Leah as the student, the bimbo, and the nerd drives Mark to distraction. Though he suspects she is the culprit, he also finds he loves her in her two distinctive poses, but mostly for her energetic self. Adding to the insanity is that Steve to succeed in a female world comes up with Stephanie as his alter ego. PHI BETA BIMBO is a cross dressing laugh out loud romp.

Sex, Lies, and Vampires
Katie MacAlister
Love Spell
ISBN: 0505525550 $6.99, 352 pp.

Melissande Banacek flies Seattle based medieval history professor Dr. Nell Harris to Prague to discuss removal of imps and Nell being an untrained Charmer. Nell says she has no skill with charms reflecting back to the devastating deadly incident of ten years ago when she dabbled. Melissande ignores her saying she needs her help to find her missing brother Damien and his son Saar, Moravian Dark Ones who recently vanished. Damien believes that the Demon Lord Asmodeus captured Saar. Nell reluctantly agrees. Almost immediately, Nell runs in trouble with Dark One Adrian "The Betrayer" Tomas, who threatens her with fangs and kisses if she does not back off. Instead she offers him kisses back as both are attracted to one another. Adrian is stunned because he insists he's not in love yet the teacher feels like his soulmate. Ironically he realizes that he will not be around to enjoy love as his current quest is certain death though he would like to leave fearless Nell safe even if she seems to interfere, intercede and interject into everything. No one combines humor and vampires better than Katie MacAlister does. Her latest tale is the usual jocular suspense thriller starring a hunk with a sweet tooth for the Washingtonian and a heroine who dares go where no mortal risks their neck. Vampires, demons, charmers, and more provide a surreal tale in which the story line is fun, amusing and biting, typical of Ms. MacAlister, who always entertains her.

Divine Fire
Melanie Jackson
Love Spell
ISBN: 0505526107 $6.99

Book critic Damien Ruthven is shocked with how accurate the eighteen hundred page manuscript written by author Brice Ashton is. However, he also feels that two points in the biography needs correcting as she is slightly in error on his affair with Lady Caroline Lamb and on a poem he wrote to her. Out of character and shocking his assistant Karen Anderson, he invites author Brice Ashton to America to discuss her first of three overpriced tomes on the life of Lord Byron. Excited, Brice accepts the invitation believing that her host has access to documents she has not seen. The bad news is that Damien has no documents. The good news is that he knew Byron intimately because in 1816, Dr. Johann Dippel "cured" the aristocratic poet of epilepsy; Damien was Byron back in the early nineteenth century. As the critic and the writer feel a growing attraction to one another, his invitation inadvertently also brings danger to his guest as killers want Byron dead with collateral damage acceptable. DIVINE FIRE is a fantastic suspenseful romantic fantasy starring two wonderful protagonists even if a book reviewer and an author make strange bedfellows. Especially interesting is Damien's look back to his past that comes alive in such a manner that the audience will believe that Dr. Dippel cured his patient. This in turn leads readers to expect Melanie Jackson to provide sequels starring other patients of Dr. Dippel.

The Windhealer
Charlotte Boyett-Compo
Amber Quill
ISBN: 1592799523 $20.00

Everyone who cared and loved Prince Conar McGregor thinks he died several years ago although his body was never found. Instead his childhood mentor and tormentor Sorcerer Kaileel Tohre, leader of the Dominion and the kingdom of Serenia, condemned Conar to live what remains of his tortured life inside the Labyrinth Prison for a crime he never committed; the island prison contains many of his enemies who loathe him and enjoy torturing him especially with his childhood nightmares. Though some might question his sanity, he survives because of the memory of his love for his Princess wife and the pain from the beatings. However, Conar for all purposes is dead, but has metamorphosed into the Raven. He escapes his debilitating captivity to begin his plans to stop the evil that engulfs his people. Raven forges a force of twenty-two loyal strong and courageous soldiers the Wind Force. He and his troops believe the enemy is Tohre and his Dominion supporters, but they will soon learn that an evil entnity , perhaps worse than the wicked sorcerer, has started to also rise. To better understand the motives of the key two antagonists and several supporting cast members, fantasy fan should read the three earlier novels first although THE WINDHEALER easily can stand alone. Conar is a terrific hero who has met tortures that Job would struggle with yet somehow keeps on going. Tohre is one of the best villains in the genre as this evil seeks vengeance on his former student for rejecting him. In her fourth WindLegends tale, Charlotte Boyett-Compo once again provides an excellent novel that genre fans will find immensely satisfying and seek the rest of the saga.

Before the Frost
Henning Mankell
New Press
38 Greene Street, 4th floor, New York, NY 10013
ISBN: 1565848357 $24.95

No one is more proud of Linda Wallender graduating from the Swedish Police Academy than her dad Chief Inspector Kurt Wallender. Linda looks forward to begin work at the Ystad Police Department and ultimately to find a flat of her own having lived with dear old dad until now. Dad is eager to mentor his daughter and she is eager to learn from him how to run an investigation though her patience runs thin when he becomes protectively fatherly. Still while Kurt struggles to stop a religious extremist seemingly setting up a mass murder, Linda investigates on her own. Dad frets over her safety because of the disappearance of her friend Anna Westin, who vanished shortly after her father reentered her life after he went away and did not returning for over two decades. As Wallander the younger seeks clues from a variety of sources including Anna's journal, another young woman named in the journal, vanishes. The case has the Wallenders arguing and putting up a FIREWALL between them as the teacher-pupil relationship falls into a more adversarial situation with each feeling ONE STEP BEHIND the other in pursuit of FACELESS KILLERS. They must cooperate if they are to uncover the dark goings on as their two cases have merged. The Kurt Wallender Swedish police procedurals has been some of the best the sub-genre has had to offer over the last few years to include novels translated like these or originally in English. The latest story BEFORE THE FROST takes an intriguing spin as Kurt shares top billing with a chip off the old block his own daughter Linda. The two subplots merge effortlessly so that the audience receives another winning cop tale from talented Henning Mankell.

Cross Your Heart and Hope To Die
Nancy Martin
ISBN 0451213955 $19.95, 272 pp.

Used to wealth and privilege the Blackbird sisters have to find gainful employment after their parents wasted their trust funds and fled the country to a place that doesn't have an extradition treaty. Nora Blackbird works as an assistant to society editor Kitty Keogh, a relationship filled with antipathy, anger, and jealously on the employer's part because her worker has entry into the high society that closes its doors to her. Kitty wakes Nora up to have her cover a fashion show featuring the broken bra designed by Brinker Hill, a high society sadist who almost raped Nora's younger sister Emma when they were in school together. Later that night the murdered body of Kitty is delivered to Nora's front door and the police want to pin the crime on Nora's lover Michael, whose family is mafia connected. To clear his name, Nora takes many chances including breaking and entering into Brinker's office where she thinks evidence exists that could clear Michael. Michael and Nora come from two different worlds but together they make their own filled with love respect and tenderness. When the outside world intrudes, Nora is like a tiger protecting her mate and she is particularly suspicious of Brinker who couldn't invent a paper plane and is suspected of the arson of his comedy club. There are many people who hated the victim but Nora focuses on Brinker and socialite Hemmings Lamb, a submissive with a criminal bent. Both men had their names on Kitty's calendar on the date she was murdered. Nancy Martin has written a sublime who-done-it filled with laughter, heroes and plenty of action.

The Language of Sycamores
Lisa Wingate
ISBN: 0451213920 $12.95, 283 pp.

Karen Sommerfield feels she must be in hell not Boston. First Dr. Connor tells her she might have cancer again, previously diagnosed when she miscarried; Later that morning Lansing Technology downsized her mid management high tech job after fifteen loyal years in which she realizes as the anger flows through her that the firm was her first love, not herself or her spouse James. The two hits slam home to Karen. When her somewhat estranged sister Kate calls from Hindsville, Missouri, Karen decides it is time to mend fences and visit her family while she still can. In the Ozarks on Grandma Rose's farm, Karen begins to listen to the Sycamore trees while her family including Kate's children engulfs her with love just as she reaches out to a mistreated young neighbor with music ability. The talent of Lisa Wingate comes out very strongly with this powerful first person account of a person seeking what matters in life. The story line avoids the extreme so that the audience receives a deep character study that emphasizes loved ones as critical to well being while not condemning the urban rat race. The cast provides depth to the understanding of what motivates Karen so that she is a complete person struggling with establishing new goals. Genre fans will hear the entertaining message of THE LANGUAGE OF SYCAMORES.

The Case of the Virtuous Vampire
Monette Michaels
Ltd Books
ISBN 1553161335 $5.00 (amazon download) 264 pp.

The only preternatural lawyer in Austin, Texas is Abigail Merriweather Gooden and she has been taking mere-mortal cases since a witch beat her up and tried to rape her. Although her magic was stronger than his being the daughter of a wizard father and a powerful witch of a mother, the incident left scars so she is very leery when the vampire Jurnik Galub and the shape-shifter wizard Lucan Knight enter her office. They want to hire her because a stripper was killed in Jurnik's club Exotica and her parents are suing him for having her work in an unsafe environment. Lucan is a private investigator who intends to find the killer. Complicating matters are Jurnik's tie was the murder weapon and he once had a heated affair with the victim. Abbie takes the case and horns in on Lucan's investigation because her mother is involved with Jurnik. When somebody breaks into Abbie's apartment and tries to burn the place down the case becomes more personal and with Lucan as her partner, in and out of bed, she intends to solve it or die trying. Fans of Laurell K. Hamilton, Kim Harrison and Tonya Huff will love this urban romantic fantasy in which a wary witch finds her soulmate in a shape-shifting wizard. Lucan and Abbie are both extremely likeable characters and will grab and maintain reader interest. The suspense is so tight it feels like a rubber band about to snap and the tension is resolved by the quirky dialogue between the protagonists and their allies. The audience will be happy to know that there will be further adventures starring Abbie and Lucan.

Murder in Clichy
Cara Black
ISBN: 1569473838 $24.00, 304 pp.

In 1994 Paris, Aimee Leduc has sight for the most part and the blurriness is going away, but she still struggles with her injuries especially to the optic nerve from last month's assault. Her computer security firm partner Rene encourages her to continue to seek a healthier lifestyle. Vietnamese Sister Linh asks Aimee to deliver an envelope to Thadee Baret because the nun insists she cannot do it as she is watched, even in Paris, as she is the daughter of a blackballed judge in her native country and the sister of a jailed dissident. Reluctantly, Aimee agrees. The drop off seems to go smooth as Aimee provides the envelope to Thadee who hands over to her a jade piece to give to Linh. Not long afterward someone kills Thadee. Aimee wonders what is going on as she was just a delivery intermediary, but government agents tell her to back off from making inquiries and someone abducts her partner, making the scenario even more baffling. The fifth Aimee Leduc investigative tale is a fantastic story in which the readers remain in the dark along with the heroine wondering what is going on yet unable to stop reading to learn the truth. Aimee is a fabulous protagonist who learns a life lesson about Good Samaritans as she investigates the murder, the nun, and the abduction while pressure for her to back off increases. Cara Black provides her usual terrific Parisian joy ride that has helped make the Leduc tales consistently some of the best professional sleuth novels in recent years.

The Villa of Mysteries
David Hewson
ISBN: 0385337728, $22.00 352 pp.

Though six months of leave to recover physically from his wounds and mentally from the death of his partner seems a long time to Roman Detective Nic Costa, he has doubts about returning to work which include the skills of his new partner Gianni Peroni. Still he returns so his superior assigns him the case of visiting Americans Bobby and Lianne Dexter who found a corpse of a teenage girl near the Ostia Antica coastal harbor. The cops quickly realize that the girl was murdered in recent times and not during the Roman Empire era though the preserved garb would speak otherwise. Though police pathologist Teresa Lupo initially blows the murder date by two millennium give or take a century, she, Nic and Gianni soon learn that the victim is the 16-year-old stepdaughter of mobster Virgil Wallis and that another teen is missing. Worse the anti-Mafia task force is interfering as the two cops investigate, but get nowhere losing hope to save the second abducted teen from a sacrificial ritual murderer(s). Nic is a fine detective whose skills are ordinary, but he never quits even though he faces emotional trauma every time he works the field. Gianni is more amiable but also has plenty of woes to overcome. Teresa and anti-Mafia Agent Rachale D'Amato provide the impetus to keep digging. Though the case resolves abruptly in spite of the lead cops misinterpreting clues, fans will enjoy the return of Nic Costa though his second appearance is not quite as stellar as his superb pulled in two directions efforts in A SEASON FOR THE DEAD.

Picture Perfect
Fern Michaels
ISBN: 082177588X $7.99, 384 pp.

The FBI provides protection to murder witness Montclair College Professor Andrew Ryan from a drug cartel that killed a student Jason Forbes. While Andrew and his spouse Sara head to Florida, her sister Lorrie takes their seven years old son Davey camping. Davy looks forward to the trip because his aunt allows his freedom to be himself while his mother disapproves of him perhaps because of his hemophiliac condition. Cudge Balog kills his best friend Lenny Lombardi when the man tries to collect a debt. Cudge and his girlfriend Elva St. John start to bury the body at the Wild Adventure Campground, but Davey sees them. Cudge goes after the child who flees. Lorrie, worried that her nephew is missing calls the police. FBI Agent Stuart Sanders, who has been assigned to the Ryan family, arrives at the campgrounds. He and Lorrie already attracted to one another, work together to rescue a child in need of daily medicine for his condition. The suspense is very high as the clock ticks away not just because of the Cudge factor but also because of the needed dose of medication. Fern Michaels' fans will appreciate the lead duet though they are cut out of the hero handbook pro-am teaming and the little boy starving for affection, but hiss at the interesting tundra-like mother (who is conveniently eliminated) and the father who acquiesces to all her demands at the cost of their child's welfare. Cudge is a dumb thug while Elva, whose name she took in homage to Elvis, is frightened of him. Quite different from the Texas-Kentucky-Vegas triangle, Ms. Michaels' readers will enjoy this thriller.

At Risk
Stella Rimington
ISBN: 1400043700 $24.00

At Thames House, the Joint Counter-Terrorist Group employees learn that the al-Safa organization of the Islamic Terror Syndicate is planting an "Invisible". Pakistan cooperates and the Immigration Office combs the lists for possible suspects. However, the M-15 and M-16 attendees know how difficult to uncover an Invisible is as these terrorists are a special breed being a native of the host nation. An agent just in from Islamabad corroborates that al-Safa is a rare Islamic terrorist organization because it welcomes full blood Caucasians. M-15 agent-runner Liz Carlyle sees her work as a means to avoid her matchmaking mother and a place to hide from her married lover, Mark Callendar, who is no longer convenient. The need to track down the Invisible becomes imminent as the evidence mounts that something big is about to occur. Liz starts to put a human face that seems increasingly female to the trigger, but who she is and who is her handler remains just out of visible scope especially since agents allegedly on her side decide not to share information with anyone. This exciting counter-terrorist espionage thriller travels on two story lines that connect via the heroine. Readers receive an exciting race against the clock to prevent a catastrophe while also seeing the inner office shenanigans of hiding critical information behind a need not to know fa‡ade and sexual harassment towards the token estrogen in a testosterone world. The prime plot is typical of the sub-genre with its adrenaline rush to climax, but is slowed down somewhat by the office side, which is more interestingly unique (and perhaps autobiographical) though not as exhilarating. Spy fans are not AT RISK reading this fine tale.

Beneath a Marble Sky
John Shors
Post Office Box 1126, Kingston, NY 12402
ISBN: 0929701712 $24.95, 324 pp.

Looking back to her salad days at Red Fort, Jahanara begins to tell the truth of her lineage to her disbelieving grandchildren. Back in 1632, her father the Emperor of Hindustan Shah Jahan mourned the loss of his beloved soulmate his wife Mumtaz Mahal, one of many spouse in his harem, but to him she was The Wife. He depended on her wisdom in all matters including war and politics. Foreseeing the future, Taj as the Emperor affectionately called her, mentored her wisest daughter Jahanara to replace her as the regal advisor if misfortune should strike her down, which occurs during childbirth. Jahanara became the grieving Jahan's right hand "man" instead of her brothers. She encourages her father to have the monument to his wife built and becomes the liaison with the architect Isa. As she and Isa fall into a forbidden love, her time at the royal court ends when a brother Aurangzeb violently takes the throne forcing her into exile after a harsh incarnation with her being raped; now years later she tells her story to her descendents. BENEATH THE MARBLE SKY is a fantastic historical tale that may be the best the genre offered in 2004. In some ways the plot comes across as an autobiographical account because of the technique that John Shors employs, that of Jahanara telling about the events of several decades ago. The story line vividly describes the Indian subcontinent in the seventeenth century where love, intrigue, and betrayal are key elements. Mr. Shors has transported readers to a different time and place as he paints quite a picture to illuminate the events surrounding the construction of the Taj Mahal.

Star Wars: Labyrinth of Evil
James Luceno
Del Rey
ISBN 0345475720 $25.95, 339 pp.

In the far distant future, peace is broken by the Separatists who want to leave the Federation and join the Confederacy. The Jedi Knights fight for the Federation but nobody in the senate is prepared to believe that the enemy has infiltrated that august body but many of its prominent members are allied with the Sith Darth Sidious. His allies, former Jedi Knight Count Dooku and cyborg killing machine General Grievous are being pushed back to the outer rim by the federation forces. This doesn't phase Sidious and his supporters at all because it is part of their master plan that will see the Sith as ruler of the galaxy. Jedi Knights Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker, regarded by the Jedi Knights as "The chosen one" who will defeat the darkside of the force, are following the villain's trails in the hopes of capturing them and putting an end to this war. Anakin doesn't know that he is beingwatched by Sidious to see if in the future he can be seduced to the darkside of the force. In the meantime Anakin and his mentor seem to be always one step behind their enemies. This is the direct prequel to the Star Wars episode opening in theaters in May 2005. The author sets up the finale nicely so that the book and the movie should tie seamlessly together. This space opera is at its best when Anakin and Obi-Wan-Kenobi travel from planet to planet in search of their enemies hoping that they can bring the galactic war to a close without farther bloodshed. James Luceno captures the spirit and the essence of George Lucas's classic saga.

Market Forces
Richard Morgan
Del Rey
ISBN: 0345457749 $14.95, 464 pp.

In the middle of the twenty-first century, the market place controls all aspects of life with no governmental redistribution of wealth to interfere. In this global economy the big money makers are those who peddle Conflict Investments; there is a large and continuous market for the selling of all types of arms to small insurgent bands at a phenomenal price while encouraging the guerilla bands to make war not love. Recently safety has become an issue for the affluent. Chris Faulkner of Shorn Associates has become a successful salesman peddling arms and related equipment. The Brit enjoys his literally cut throat job especially the executive perks such as driving a car and killing other road hogs. However, he has recently made a mistake by allowing mercy to someone he defeated during a road rage skirmish. He vows to never again allow his conscience to get in the way of his lifestyle. His chance surfaces when the eternal South American coup d'etat may be out of control. Though wary and thinking back excessively to his ghetto roots, Chris plans to rectify this problem. This gloom and doom future will not be one to worry about social security as no social or security seems to be the norm in Richard K. Morgan's dark satirical spin of MARKET FORCES out of control. The story line paints a grim future in which to paraphrase Jessie Ventura as the wrestler not the governor that it is not whether you win or lose, but how well you cheat. Though Chris' growing disaffection is not adequately explained, the Enron and Bush-Blair economics are taken to the extreme in this powerful condemnation of a systematic handout to the rich while everyone else pays the price.

The Meq
Steve Cash
Del Rey
ISBN: 0345470923 $13.95, 416 pp.

In 1881, Zianno Zezen celebrates his twelfth birthday "for the first time" on a train with Momma and Papa heading from St. Louis to Central City just above Denver. Momma tells Zianno that the three of them are different then anyone else on the crowed train filled with ordinary Giza humans. Before she can explain further about being a Meq, the train derails killing everyone on board except Zianno. Jewish trader Solomon Birnbaum nurtures the injured Z, but is stunned by how fast the preteen heals. Solomon believes that Z might be a member of a legendary ancient race that he thought was mythical. He returns Z to St. Louis where the lad meets other Meqs and learns how his people stop aging at twelve until they find their Ameq soulmate. A Meq can choose to age and die like Giza. Z befriends Gizas and soon wonders if he is the last born as he has met no one "younger" than him. Could this mean the Meq Remembering has begun; some believe so and try to halt it. This engaging fantasy grips the audience due to the Meq, who interestingly repeat their twelfth birthday yet remain child-like in spite of experiences; this makes individual Meqs hard to delineate one from another. The story line is told from the first person account of Z, which adds a feel of detachment rather than emotion to the plot; yet also serves as a mechanism to display the blase attitude towards immortality and the acceptance of those who chose mortality. Much of the action will happen in the sequels, but fans will enjoy this introduction to the near immortal race that walks amongst us.

Midnight Cab
James W. Nichol
14 High Street, Edinburgh EH1 1TE, Scotland UK
ISBN: 1841956244 $23.00

Nineteen years old Walker Devereaux leaves his adopted home in Big River for Toronto, but not with the youthful vigor of living in the big city; Walker is obsessed to learn about his past starting with why his mom Lennie abandoned him on an isolated road when he was three. He has a clue from someone who apparently knew his mom; a letter that was written to Lennie from her school friend Kim that includes a picture of two girls that Walker assumes one is his mom. In Toronto Walker obtains work driving a cab on a graveyard shift and a friend he deeply likes is wheelchair-bound dispatcher Krista Papadopoulos. Her brilliance enables Walker to follow clues that take him initially to the exclusive upper crust Forest Hill neighborhood and eventually to Jamaica. However, someone wants Walker and Krista to stop or else; perhaps that unknown culprit is the seemingly deranged Bobby Nuremborski who Walker must confront if he is to close in on the truth about what happened to his mother. MIDNIGHT CAB is a solid suspense thriller starring two delightful lead protagonists whose banter lightens a dark tale. The prime story line is Walker's quest, but a subplot involving how crazy Bobby is will chill the audience who know that the two men will collide, but doubt whether the hero will survive. Interestingly in spite of wonderfully placed false leads and red herring missteps, fans know the altercation is coming so the suspense is somewhat muted when it does. Still James W. Nichols writes an intriguing entertaining thriller that will keep readers attention throughout.

Dating Can Be Deadly
Wendy Roberts
Red Dress (Harlequin)
ISBN: 0373895127 $12.95, 304 pp.

In Seattle, legal receptionist Tabitha Emery is with her friend Jenny Alton when someone snatches her purse. They give chase, but fail to catch the thief. Tabitha begins blinking and soon she has a vision that leads the twosome to a mutilated cat inside a pentagram. Not long afterward, another "vision" takes Tabitha and Jenny to a dumpster filled with blood. Jenny calls the police and cynical Detective Jackson handles the case once the blood is identified as human. Through friends Tabitha meets Lucien Roskell, owner of the Scrying Room and very understanding of her gift-curse. Lucien wants Tabitha, but she craves friendly attorney Clay Sanderson even though two years without a pass and his fiancee is beautiful and pregnant. As the clairvoyance continues to follow a cult death march, the killer begins to target the only person who might eventually identify him or her, Tabitha, who Jackson suspects is more intimately involved in the ritual serial killings than she tells the cops. DATING CAN BE DEADLY is a divine paranormal chick lit who-done-it that grips the audience from the first blood to the last blood and a "pity" F coda. The story line is action-packed but driven clearly by the delightful in denial Tabitha who insists she has no talent although her blinking says otherwise. The support cast fuels the tale with excitement as each key ensemble member adds depth to the heroine or the mystery. Fans will demand Wendy Roberts bring back Tabitha, her friends and lover for another clairvoyant amateur sleuth mystery.

Hating Valentine's Day
Allison Rushby
Red Dress
ISBN: 0373895119 $12.95 354 pp.

Wedding photographer Liv Hetherington detests the rituals of Valentine's Day and for that matter dating in general. She vows this year to elude her matchmaking father, the nonsense of her boss, and the machinations of her best friend. She growls at those who think that Valentine's Day is a smashing success for the romantic. Declaring V for victory, this year Liv is making it bah humbug clear to those who throw Valentine's Day and dating in general at her. However her negative ions are abruptly battered when the sixties great in crowd wedding photographer Mrs. Batty Smith comes from beyond to blithely inform Liv that she must change her attitude or be eternally wedded to the darkside. As Liv wonders what was in her food or water Batty-Smith avows that the spirits of Valentine Past, Present, and Future will come calling her. Each comes with a "video of her life with Past having been filmed, Present being filmed and Future filmed based on a trend analysis of her feelings. Allison Rushby provides a delightful rendition of the Dickens' classic switching holidays so that the audience obtains a fresh fabulous fable. Liv is a delightful scrooge and the human support cast brings out the bah humbug to relationships attitude. The ghosts are wonderful as each is quite different so the audience will feel as if there are three shorts running through this fabulous tale.

Bundle of Joy?
Ariella Papa
Red Dress
ISBN: 0373895100 $12.95, 304 pp.

When her best friend nee Jamie Jacobs married and became Jamie Jacobs-Sarakanti, she and Voula Pavlopolous remained best friends. However, now Jamie seems always busy when Voula needs her, but though the spouse is intimately involved he is not the cause. The married couple is attempting to become pregnant and that has caused the pause in their friendship. Voula is stunned but will do anything for Jamie because her best bud has always been their for her especially when she procrastinates as she always does whether it is paying bills, finding a new roommate or a new Manhattan pad, or writing the magazine article that is past due. When Jamie tells her that she is a Lamaze student, Voula is happy and depressed, but the joy of her pal makes her wake up that it is time to live life starting with dumping mom and finding a man who would appreciate Voula, neurosis's and all. BUNDLE OF JOY? Is an enjoyable insightful look at friendship through the eyes of the one left behind while the other moves on with marriage and children. The story line drifts a bit with all that Voula must confront, but puts off as is her nature; however though that makes it more difficult to follow her chick lit revelations, the wandering adds depth to the lead protagonist as she struggles to modify her behavior ever since her best friend announced the "pregnant pause".

The Shaughnessey Accord
Alison Kent
Kensington Brava
ISBN: 0758206704 $7.99

In Manhattan Tripp Shaughnessey of the Smithson Group is bored and a bit envious that his friend and fellow member of the elite five, Christian Bane, has had success with covert operations against Spectra (see THE BANE AFFAIR I will). Perhaps the only thing he is enjoying at the moment is flirting with Glory Brighton, owner of a sandwich shop. While Tripp obtains a delicious kiss from the restaurateur, Danh Vuong leads other thugs on a raid of the sandwich shop. His boss believes that Glory has something he needs in his war with Spectra. The police arrive before Danh and associates finish their assault. They take hostages, but had not reckoned that Tripp, an alleged engineer, turns into a super operative, which is what he is for the mysterious Smithson Group. Tripp vows no one will harm Glory, the woman he loves. THE SHAUNESSEY ACCORD is a humorous erotic romantic suspense novel that grips readers whether the lead couple are going at it or battling bad guys. Somewhat tongue in cheek (literally and figuratively), Tripp is a delightfully dangerous man including to his enemies and to his beloved; his kisses stir the all-American wisecracking heroine. Fans of the Die Hard movies will shout Brava to Alison Kent for a fabulous Smithson tale and look forward to the next novel in the series.

Wiped Out
Barbara Colley
ISBN: 075820762X $22.00, 272 pp.

In New Orleans, Charlotte LaRue owns Maid for a Day but also works as a maid for certain clients in order to support herself and keep busy. However, when Mimi Adams hires her Charlotte has no idea what she has let herself in for. Mimi explains that she is getting even with her neighbor Sally for hosting noisy pool parties and poisoning her trees. When the Horticultural Heritage Society meets at Mimi's home, Charlotte learns that many of the attendees detest their hostess. Rita believes that Mimi had an affair with her husband; to get back at her, she runs for HHS president. When the secret ballot is tallied, Mimi wins, but Charlotte saw that her client's nosy friend June rigged the vote. Two other members want to start their own club. When Mimi suddenly dies, the coroner determines she was poisoned. Charlotte believes she knows who killed the odious Mimi, but lacks proof. WIPED OUT is a down home charming and entertaining southern cozy. Charlotte is a realistic amateur sleuth because she does not go searching for evidence, but does listen to conversations and observes behavior and events that lead to her on the verge of unmasking the culprit. Barbara Colley provides a pragmatic common sense heroine whose actions makes her seem real and her tales fun to read as fans can picture their neighbors in the role.

The Samms Agenda
Alison Kent
Kensington Brava
ISBN: 0758206720 $7.99

The Smithson Group SG-5 Agent Julian Samms is assigned to protect Cosmopolitan Arm candy syndicated columnist Katrina Flurry from a sadistic hitman, Benny Rivers. Spectra wants to insure that the girlfriend of one of their proper businessman fronts Peter Decon has nothing that could hurt their operations. Bullets are fired at Katrina, but Julian manages to get her out of the situation safely. As they flee together, she realizes that this by the book hunk is her soulmate that she has waited twenty-eight for him to arrive. However, though extremely distracted by his charge, Julian assumes she is guilty of association and wants nothing to do with her. Still Spectra is coming with Benny leading the charge and he never fails to get his woman dead. The third SG-5 novel is a fabulous romantic suspense thriller starring two strong-willed individuals, both desire one another, but she must overcome his belief that she sleeps with the enemy. The story line never slows down as Benny (as deadly a sexual predator professional killer to grace a novel in a long time) never fails at his assignment. Each of the first three tales (see THE BANE AFFAIR and THE SHAUNESSEY ACCORD) can stand alone yet once a reader will learn they can't taste just one of Alison Kent's quintet.

Bad Boys with Expensive Toys
Nancy Warren, MaryJanice Davidson, Karen Kelley
Kensington Brava
ISBN: 0758205864 $14.00

The Fourteen Million Dollar Poodle by Nancy Warren. Labor negotiator Vince Grange is known for playing hardball; thus he is the last male anyone would expect to own a toy poodle. However, he inherits wealthy Mimi, who only responds to French-speaking commands. Vince hires Sophie Veneau to watch Mimi, but he can't keep his eyes off of his new employee. This amusing contemporary stars three delightful protagonists with the human pair in constant heat. The World Is Too Darned Big by MaryJanice Davidson. Dr. Ben Dyson invents espionage paraphernalia that helps agents make the world safer. His fondest desire is to use one of his gizmos in a field scenario. When agent Tara Marx struggles to recover stolen intelligence information, she never expected to have a civilian as her partner. This spy who stayed hot in the cold tale is humorous and hot due two strong gender bending lead characters. Anything You Can Do by Karen Kelley. Playboy Alex Cannedy promised his sister that he would not make a play to get Kagen Yates in his bed for the week that the beautiful woman is staying with him. Alex regrets his vow as he wants her and she seems as willing, but he plans to do the honorable thing by adhering to his pledge. However, Kagen bets him that she will have him in bed within two days as their desires for one another will overwhelm his misplaced ethics. The torrid lead couple provides readers with a terrific war of the sex's tale. All three novellas are hot, jocular and fun as the hunks exchange their toys for more interesting play things.

Tell It to the Marines
Amy J. Fetzer
Kensington Brava
ISBN: 0758208081 $14.00, 281 pp.

Hot Conflict. In Panama Mary Grace Heyward is hosting the marriage renewal vows of her sister and brother-in-law, the American ambassador to the South American country. However, she is kidnapped leaving it up to US Marine Gunnery Sergeant DJ McAllister to rescue her. DJ once pushed Mary away because he chose their friendship over a potential romance, but this time he has a different planned outcome if they survive. Hot Loading Zone. In Natuna Bear Island in the East China Sea, Marine Gunnery Sergeant Jake Mackenzie leads a team trying to rescue scientist Dr. Katherine Collier from the terrorist Kali who wants her to give him a deadly formula. The rescue is a success until Katherine hesitates to take her notes so that the terrorists cannot use them. Her action separates Jake and Katherine from the rest of the marines. As he fights to keep her safe, they fall in love, but survival remains the prime priority. Hot Target. Marine Gunnery Sergeant Rick Cahill is sent into a remote Amazon village to bring home Peace Corps volunteer Sam Pervon only to find he is Samantha. Worried that he must escort a female civilian across the dangerous rainforest with the drug cartel on their tail, Rick and Sam begin to fall in love, but first they must survive. These three military romantic suspense star alpha marine centerfolds with feisty intelligent and courageous females, capable of normally taking care of themselves. Each tale is exhilarating due to strong lead characters involved in the heated love and the torrid scrambles that salute the troops.

Mouth to Mouth
Erin McCarthy
Kensington Brava
ISBN: 075820843X $14.00, 280 pp.

Special Operations Police Detectives Russ Evans and Jerry Anders freeze their butts off waiting for con artist Trevor Dean to appear though both are surprised by his current choice of a victim. Trevor selects lonely plain looking females as his marks, but the woman working at Starbucks is beautiful. When Trevor fails to show up, the two cops wonder if Laurel Wilkins is Trevor's girlfriend. Russ enters the coffee shop, but is stunned when Laurel hugs him like they have known each other forever. They soon realize that probably Trevor was impersonating him over a chat line and that Laurel is most likely his next victim. Russ thinks Laurel is a "cute fuzzy bunny", but he does not go out with sweet women as all he wants is casual sex. However, she shocks him when she mentions casual sex as that seems so out of character for her. He wonders if she is diverting him from capturing Trevor. Still he cannot get enough of Laurel although that breaks the rules of his personal and professional lives even as he detests that he must use the woman he loves as a pawn in the cat and mouse game with Trevor. This erotic police procedural romance grips the audience from the moment a bewildered Russ pays for coffee at a quarter a sip until the final altercation with Trevor threatening his beloved Laurel. The lead couple is an endearing pair with Laurel's deafness deftly intertwined into the strong plot as her impairment is overcome with little courtesies like lip reading. Though Trevor is an odious predator taking advantage of the lonely, fans will appreciate Erin McCarthy's strong tale.

The Beach Alibi
Alison Kent
Kensington Brava
ISBN: 0758206747 $7.99, 116 pp.

Engineering Project Consultant to the Smithson Group, Kelly John Beach realizes he botched the assignment when he failed to notice the camera inside the wall clock that taped his illegal break and entry into Marian Diamonds. He sought proof that the firm was fronting a Spectra operation involving stolen diamonds from Sierra Leone. His espionage associate Tripp Shaunessey suggests he needs an alibi to prove he was elsewhere; the best alibi is a woman. Risking a sexual harassment case, head of the group Hank Smithson reluctantly asks his assistant Emma Webster to help. She readily agrees and soon learns what she needs to know about these mysterious consultants. Her task is an easy one for her; pretend to be Kelly's lover, a fantasy that she has had since they first met. Kelly shares her deep desire as Emma has been the star of many erotic dreams. As they work on THE BEACH ALIBI, they fall in love. However, "Professor" Oliver Shore of Spectra IT sees Beach's alibi as another pawn in the war with the Smithson Group. The fourth Smithson Group erotic espionage escapade is a terrific tale that starts with self-effacing profanity, turns into a heated romance, and twists finally into an espionage encounter with an abducted Emma as the trade in. Though the tongue in cheek (literally) story line can be read as a stand alone, THE BEACH ALIBI is more enjoyable to follow after the preceding three stories as previous leads make clever continuous appearances as secondary players. The lead duo and their opponents provide a fine time for fans of I Spy torrid tales with McKenzie up to the plate next.

Wicked Women 101
Susanna Carr
Kensington Brava
ISBN: 0758208286 $14.00, 225 pp.

"Six Weeks to Sensuality". Dr. Marc Javier feels the time is right for him to persuade librarian Amy Bryce that he is her forever beloved after waiting for five years for her to break off with that idiot Kevin. However, his latest effort fails leaving him depressed until she volunteers to participate in his Reclaim Your Sensuality project. He realizes fate has given him one last chance, but wonders if Kevin returns into Amy's life would she choose him or not. "Code Pink". Amy's sorority sister Jennifer Clark is happy for her friend, but must move on in her own life as the one Bryan Matthews broke her heart when he chose the agency's fast track over her. She puts out a coded message promising quite a 69 dessert to her rebound choice Robert, but instead Bryan arrives at the restaurant. He claims the prize, but actually wants more as he loves his encryption rival with all his heart though she thinks otherwise. "Fantasies Are Forever". Aromatherapist Caroline Mitchell has erotic dreams over co-worker Joe Hatcher, but is unaware he shares her deepest fantasies as he makes her feel like the klutzy nerd she was in college. Caroline decides the only way to delete the icon Joe that dominates her brain is indulging in real sex with the hunk of her dreams. Though he knows she sees him as a disposable tool, Joe has forever plans of sharing desirable pleasure with his beloved. These three erotic contemporary romances are fun starring delightful lead couples struggling with desire, need and love.

Blood Memory
Greg Iles
ISBN 0743234707 $25.95, 496 pp.

Forensic odontologist Dr. Catherine Perry specializes in bite marks on victim's bodies. She is on the task force with her lover, married New Orleans Police Detective Sean Regan working the case of a serial killer who leaves older men naked with deep bite marks all over their body accompanied by a nearby message "My work is never done". When Cat has a panic attack at the fourth crime scene, she is removed from the case and returns home to Malmaison, a mansion located in Natchez, Mississippi. When a child spills some luminal in her room, she sees a child's bare footprint and an adult's booted footprint. She wants to call in a forensic team to obtain DNA evidence, but her grandfather tells her that her father was killed in her room, protecting her from an intruder. Strange dreams and returned memories make her doubt his story; he confesses that her father was molesting her so he killed him. While the police think the serial killer is psychiatrist Dr. Malik who specializes in sexual child abuse cases and repressed memories and is treating her aunt, Cat needs to know the whole truth that destroyed her peace of mind all those years ago though she has to live long enough to accomplish her quest. This fantastic thriller contains a dark and foreboding atmosphere that makes Malmaison feel like a mansion straight out of a gothic novel. Readers will empathize with Cat who suffers terrible emotional trauma without knowing why. Yet despite depression and a bi-polar condition, she refuses to give into to her suicidal urges and is determined to have her baby regardless of whether Sean leaves his wife or not. She also links the her abuse to the serial killer and helps Sean in his quest to find the killer. This is a riveting tale that addresses one of society's most evil ills: sexual abuse of children.

Revolution No. 9
Neil McMahon
ISBN: 0060529180 $15.95

In Northern California, Marguerite comes to the home of Dr. Carroll Monks asking for help with a flat tire. He goes to look, but inside the vehicle he recognizes a face he has not seen in five years, his estrange son Glenn. Before he can recover from his shock, Monks is tied up and placed on the floor of the SUV. A few hours later even deeper into the mountains, Monks meets "Freeboot," leader of an outlaw band who demands he cure his three-year ailing old son. Monks realizes that the infant needs intensive medical help and suggests hospitalizing the child. When Freeboot declines and threatens Monks if he fails to heal his son, the doctor decides flees with the child strapped to his back, but he is unaware of who his pursuer is. Freeboot knows he is the Revolution that will change the world forever and has killed VIPs across the nation leaving clues with the homeless. No one lives if they betray Freeboot and Monks and his loved ones are now his public enemy number one. In his fourth thriller, Monks is at his best as knows he lost his son, but will die to keep his opponent's boy alive. Thus the story line plays out on two levels: that of a national homicidal group reminiscent of the Manson crowd yet much more deviously Machiavellian and a local good vs. evil one on one match-up. The key that keeps this tale sharp is the villain, who is a believable lunatic. Freeboot and his lieutenant Taxman are TO THE BONE quite a BLOOD DOUBLE killing without remorse as the leader has a cause.

With No One as Witness
Elizabeth George
Harper Collins
ISBN 0060545607 $26.95, 624 pp.

Three teens are killed in various locations around London, England. Nobody realizes that the murders are connected until a fourth homicide occurs; the latest victim being a young white teens as opposed to the black or mixed races of the first three homicides that the polices generally ignore. To prevent the press from spewing venom at Scotland Yard, Assistant Commissioner Hillier promotes black Officer Nkate to Detective Sergeant so that nobody could accuse the Yard of racism. Acting superintendent Thomas Lynley is ordered by Hillier to cooperate with a profiler and a reporter to show the public they are doing everything in their power to catch the killer. As the investigation moves into high gear, two more teens die with each one connected to Colossus, a youth outreach program. All the murders have the same modus operandi including the cutting open the victim's chest, putting a mark on their foreheads and cutting out their navels. Lynley, Police Constable Barbara Havers and the rest of the task force follow one false lead after another. Just when it looks like they are about to break the case wide open, one of the officers is taken by the killer who intends to make him his next victim. Life changing events take Elizabeth George's characters in new directions which keep this long running police procedural series fresh and very entertaining. While the police pursue the killer, they stumble across a child pornography ring and a sixth killing that has nothing to do with the Colossus murders. Ms. George can always be counted on to give her audience an absorbing and juicy reading experience.

Carla Cassidy
Silhouette Bombshell
ISBN: 0373513402 $5.50

Directed by her godfather Uncle Jonas White, cat burglar Lynette White seemingly does the impossible when she steals the Star of Russia diamond from the heavily guarded home of Sebastian Tyler. Security thinks only a ghost could have done this as it is so inconceivable otherwise. FBI Agent Nick Barnes is undercover as a security officer as he has been for several years working for Jonas in an effort to bring the notorious international criminal to justice. Nick's superiors decide it is time for him to play Post Office with Lynette, who seems like Jonas' Achilles heel as he seems to care for the lass like a daughter. As Nick seduces Lynn, he finds he realizes that she returns to sender more than he gives; soon his concerns change as he has fallen in love with the goddaughter of his target. This entertaining twist on the cat burglar romantic theme is fun to read because of the genetically altered prowess of the heroine that enables her to do the daring deeds she performs. That delightful spin however is two-edged as Carla Cassidy de-emphasizes Lynn's skills especially when she is with Nick. Still fans will appreciate this action-packed romantic suspense starring an amazing female and her deceiving beloved.

Evelyn Vaughn
Silhouette Bombshell
ISBN: 0373513445 $4.50

After years of hiding in the shadows due to sensory overload emitted inadvertently to her from other people, Faith Corbett decided it was time to live although she knows she will struggle with smelling emotions and hearing heartbeats. In New Orleans, Faith lives with four other females with varying paranormal skills and works as an assistant evidence technician. Faith and her roommate Krystal Turner are in DeLoup when the former feels something is wrong with the latter who has not returned from the bathroom. Faith goes to check up on her friend only to find her dead. She senses the culprit and follows him through a crawlspace, but he escapes. Detective Roy Chapin and his partner Detective Sergeant Butch Jefferson head the investigation. As Roy questions Faith, he addresses her as Bernie, but quickly realizes she is not your ordinary run of the mill witness. Soon he finds he wants to protect her because his attraction for Faith is monumental and growing, but a killer believes that Faith may have marked him so he plans to do away with Bernie. This paranormal police procedural thriller is an exciting tale that starts at hyperspeed and never slows down until the final altercation between the good guys and the killer. The beginnings of a romance between the cop and the psychic is handled with deft and just the right touch as Faith has to adjust to someone else's aura. CONTACT is a fantastic action-packed tale that uses New Orleans (past and present) as a breathtaking backdrop for two wonderful protagonists battling an evil killer.

Stella Get Your Man
Nancy Bartholomew
Silhouette Bombshell
ISBN: 0373513399 $5.50, 296 pp.

In Chester County, Pennsylvania, private sleuths Stella Valoccchi and her former fiance Jake Carpenter lie in a pigsty waiting to reposses a toy Santa, a sleigh and reindeer from drug kingpin Joey "Smack" Spagnazi, the self proclaimed Santa. A shotgun blast sends Stella and Jake fleeing with a partial load that will have to satisfy their client the Lifetime Novelty Company. The toy Santa flies off their truck as there was no time to tie it down causing the vehicle chasing them to crash. Stella takes Jake, who was sho,t to the hospital. Mia Lange wants Stella and company to find her brother who, like her, was adopted years ago. She explains that her biological sister, adopted by a third family, contacted her with the need of a kidney transplant, but Mia is not a match. Though Jake is ready to go to hell for the beautiful Mia, Stella thinks something just is not right about the case, but the money is good. Meanwhile Joey Smack and his thugs stalk Stella, her family, and Jake. The sequel to STELLA GET YOUR GUN is a fun private investigative romance that stars a wild dysfunctional but likable cast with Stella thinking she is the lead. The investigation is cleverly handled so that Stella gains an inch but loses a foot with each clue. Jake wants to be more than just her employee as he wants to be her partner in life, but knows Valocchi is suspicious of everyone especially Jake perhaps because she is a former cop. Nancy Bartholomew gets plenty of readers with her Stella Gets New Jersey tales.

Warrior Without a Cause
Nancy Gideon
Silhouette Intimate Moments
ISBN: 0373274203 $4.99

Tessa D'Angelo refuses to accept that her recently deceased father would have been working for drug lords and ultimately committed suicide in spite of the evidence that overwhelming condemns her father. Instead she believes he was to into justice for all so she keeps looking for counter proof. However, her inquiries cause concern for someone who beats her up in her home warning her next time she will be dead. Family friend Stan Kovacs sends Tessa to military trainer Jack "Lone Wolf" Chaney. He reluctantly takes her on in his hell of a boot camp. As he dishes out all he can and more, she keeps coming back for additional punishment as Tessa refuses to quit her investigation and refuses to ever be a frightened victim again. Though he swore her quest was stupid and he would not get involved in watching her die, Jack falls in love with his student and cannot help but keep her safe which includes from himself though Tessa loves him back. WARRIOR WITHOUT A CAUSE is a fabulous romantic suspense tale that stars a wonderful courageous protagonist who is more energetic than the energizer bunny is. Jack is an intriguing dedicated professional who does not believe in lost causes so he cannot comprehend why he is working with Tessa. Adding to the training camp from hell subplot are a fine romance and an especially fun mystery of her father's death as suicide seems the only solution to this locked door thriller that grips readers from the moment the intruder assaults Tessa until the final rescue.

Always Look Twice
Sheri Whitefeather
Silhouette Bombshell
ISBN: 0373513410 $5.50

FBI Special Agent Ian West is nasty with an attitude towards Native American psychic Olivia Whirlwind as he makes it obvious he does not like working with a clairvoyant. Olivia is a bit shook by his position because he believes in the supernatural. Still the Los Angeles police want her help as she has successfully helped them in the past; this time the culprit is a serial killer murdering Native American females that she feels has paranormal powers. Following their initial confrontation, Olivia drives home only to be pulled to the motel room that her father committed suicide in ten years ago; to her shock, Ian has this room. Neither understands what is drawing them together except that they cannot ignore their deep feelings for one another. While she worries about the safety of her sister, Ian worries that Olivia is the profile of the victim even as they fall in love and the crime evidence mounts that the killer is more than human. Though the killer comes out of nowhere (no mystical pun intended), fans will fully appreciate this powerful paranormal police procedural romance starring two wonderful protagonists and a strong support cast; in fact sister Allie needs her tale soonest. The suspense builds up on the two levels: the not so mundane investigation and the strange but cleverly developed spiritual. Sheri Whitefeather provides a fantastic merging of the two sub-genres, which will send the audience (including moi) seeking her previous Harlequin novels.

The Huntress
Crystal Green
Silhouette Bombshell
ISBN: 0373513429 $5.50

In Vasile, Romania, an area better known as Transylvania, Camille Howard seeks strong male villagers to help her on her quest to defeat the Strigoiaca. However, none of the men she tests by wrestling them hold up for long as each submits as soon as she locks them up. Camille informs her mentor Professor Beatrix Grasu that these men would only die if they challenge the five female vampires that she wants to capture. Also in town is vampire hunting mercenary Elijah Sargent who has an international reputation for killing the nightcrawlers. He and Camille disagree on tactics as he insists they cannot be cured of their hunger for human blood. However, Camille disagrees based on Dr. Grasu's research and her hope to save her former lover Griff who has been converted to the night life. THE HUNTRESS is a wonderful exhilarating vampiric romance that never slows down once Camille and Elijah face off on the mission. The story line is action-packed, but the cast understands the varying motives that drive the two heroes to face the undead. The support cast augments the tale by enabling the audience to feel they are in modern day Transylvania with the vampiric Strigoiaca just a bite away. The final twist makes for quite a confrontation that will send romantic horror fans with the emphasis on the supernatural seeking future paranormal collaborations between Elijah and Camille.

Within the Shadow of Stone
Sheri L. McGathy
Double Dragon
ISBN: 1554040957 $16.99 199 pp.

Twelve years old Bree of the Skye people worships the nearby stones. While the pre-teen visits the stones, Alric intends to force Bree into declaring she is his.He wants her "gift" as a "Shroud born" and ultimately the lands she will inherit. Desperate, Bree prays to the stones that legend says will provide warriors in a time of need; her pleading is answered freeing Bree from the assault. Years later, the Reformers consolidate power around a new religion. They outlaw worship of the stones, destroying most of them. One circle remains so Bree goes to the stones that saved her from Alric as the world seems in trouble. She learns that Chief Reformer Lord Blight is coming; only renewal in the belief of the stones by Skye clans can stop the destruction. Bree is the last hope but Blight already knows that. The mystical Hertha keeps her safe if her belief does not linger, but only Bree can save the Skye people if she can get them to believe in the Pact their ancestors made when they believed. This is a terrific allegorical fantasy that provides cautionary warnings on several paths besides the obvious religious overtones and the eco-environmental plea. The key cast members including Alric and Hertha seem genuine so that the audience understands motives of the good, the bad and the greedy. Bree is a female Moses filled with doubts about her self-worth to lead the flock back to the Promised Land yet her faith makes her the obvious one. WITHIN THE SHADOW OF STONE is an excellent cautionary fantasy.

Shades and Shadows
Sophia Shaw
Dafina (Kensington)
ISBN: 0758209568 $6.99, 302 pp.

After ending her marriage to her abusive spouse Peter, Jade Winters ignores men to concentrate on her dance studio. Noel Merson wanted kids, but his girlfriend three years ago said no so he ended their relationship and has played the "game" since. These two have never met, but today Noel is taking his bossy twelve years old niece Laura to Jade's Chicago studio for her lesson. Noel immediately wants to dance to the music of love, but Jade is hesitant. As he begins to break down her barriers, Peter decides he misses his former wife swearing he has changed. Though she has doubts that the leopard can change his spots, Jade wonders if she should give Peter a second chance or continue to take a chance on Noel. Someone viciously beats up Noel with Peter and his temper the obvious suspect; that is to everyone except Jade who thinks her ex is innocent. Is it wishful thinking, ignoring their painful past, or could someone else be involved? SHADES AND SHADOWS is a terrific contemporary tale starring a delightful beleaguered protagonist and a fabulous support cast to include friends, instructors, student and the two rival males. The story line avoids the soap opera cliff by concentrating on relationships so that fans will initially believe Peter is the culprit, change their mind several times and keep reading until the end wondering if not Peter who. Sophia Shaw writes a fabulous romantic suspense that grips her audience from start to finish on one of the finest Chicago joyrides since Ferris.

Speak Ill of the Living
Mark Arsenault
Poisoned Pen Press
ISBN 1590581393 $24.95, 256 pp.

Bank president Roger Lime was carjacked; later the coroner Dr. Crane identified the body using dental records. Now Roger Lime's picture is shown in the Second Voice, a weekly newspaper, very much alive and freelance journalist Eddie Bourque is covering the story. Eddie's brother Henry who participated in a bank robbery, took six million dollars in gold, killed two security guards, but was caught thirty years ago writes a letter to his little brother that contains a newspaper account on the Lime story and the message "I know who's doing this". For the first time Eddie visits his brother in prison. Hank tells Eddie that in the accompanying picture to the Lime article is a table that he made and gave to his partner's "old lady". Hank's wife demands Eddie get her husband released because the only person who testified at the trial was Dr. Crane who slanted the case like many others for the prosecution. While Eddie tries to help, someone wants Eddie dead to keep him from learning the Lime truth. Although Eddie has never seen his brother before his first visit to the prison, he soon realizes he has familial feelings for the man and if he is innocent, he wants him out of jail. He wants to get to know the man. After several attempts on his life he realizes that he has no idea who wants him dead or why but it has to be related to his newfound relationship with Hank. Speak ILL OF THE LIVING is a cleverly constructed mystery with so many people wanting thegold that Eddie doesn't know who he can trust. Mark Arsenault uses misinformation to create a fantastic journalistic thriller.

Cold Burn
Kit Ehrman
Poisoned Pen Press
ISBN 1590581431 $24.95

When Steve Cline's friend Corey Claremont asks him to look into the disappearance of her brother Bruce he jumps at the chance. He's bored in his present position and looks forward to working at Stone Manor Farm, where they breed thoroughbreds. By a lucky coincidence, Steve is hired in Bruce's former position and he is staying at Bruce's apartment. Steve discretely questions the workers at Stone Manor Farm but all he learns is that Victor Nash, the husband of the owner Dr. Deidre Nash, told everyone that Bruce quit. A neighbor tells Steve that someone drove Bruce's car to his parking space shortly after he disappeared. It really looks like Bruce is in hiding or dead. When a dealer wants to buy a significant amount of cocaine from Bruce, he is willing to deal with Steve instead. Steve wonders if Bruce's disappearance is drug related. The longer he works for Dr. Nash, the more he believes illegal activities are being carried out at Stone Manor Farm. As Steve looks for evidence, he almost gets himself killed. Readers will enjoy reading COLD BURN, a novel that showcases a protagonist who wants to right the wrongs of the world. There is plenty of action as well as a surplus of suspects who could have had something to with Bruce's disappearance. Fans of Dick Frances will think Kit Ehrman is his successor because it is obvious he knows and loves horses.

Siren's Call
Mary Ann Mitchell
Medallion Press
27825 N. Forest Garden Rd. Wauconda, IL 60084
ISBN 1932815163 $6.99, 244 pp.

Sirena ran away from home as a young teen to escape the vicious beatings inflicted on her by her father. She moved in with Joe who had her make kiddie porn movies until she told him she wasn't going to do it anymore. Now she works as a stripper at Silky Femmes in a small out of the way Florida town. She has friends she cares about like the bartender Ross who keeps an eye out for her and the girlfriend of the owner Chrissie. Sirena also has a very interesting hobby. She picks up men at the club and brings them to her isolated cabin. She has sex with them and at their moment of climax she kills them. She takes their bones and makes furniture out of them but the police and a private detective are beginning to think she's a killer. Both the private detective and the police know she was the last person to see a john she picked up alive; the private detective thinks she might be a killer while the police officer wants to jump her bones. Sirena thinks that Chrissie will make a good partner in her hobby but letting her in on her secret leads to a whole new set of problems for this killing machine. SIRENA'S CALL is horror of the human kind. There are no supernatural beings in this serial killer thriller but Serena is the personification of pure evil. She repels readers just as Stephen King's monsters do because they can't believe she is capable of such atrocities. The denizens of Silky Femmes are all criminals to one degree or another which is one of the reasons this book is so chilling and mesmerizing.

The Hinterlands
Karen Mercury
Medallion Press
ISBN: 1932815112

In 1896 the British northeastward from the Niger Coast Protectorate look to colonize the Kingdom of Benin. The plan is to cross the River Niger and bring the Edo people of Benin under the British flag as they have already done for the Ibo of Niger. Trader and renowned hunter Brendan Donivan realizes that the Brits are looking to colonize the kingdom and fears for what will be lost. He struggles to save this ancient African civilization while not jeopardizing his business with the British. New York anthropologist Elle Bowie arrives in hopes of fulfilling a dream of field work. To achieve her dream, she supports the British's efforts. She is accompanied by her fake "hired" husband Rip McCulloch. Brendan and Ellie quickly realize they are on opposite sides of the White Man's Burden; she believes Britain will bring the benefits of modern civilization while he disdains the destruction of an ancient surviving culture. They know they cannot share anything yet love blossoms between them. As the British begin their assault, they forge a bond that leads to love between Elle and Brendan while trying to save an endangered culture with many expected to die. THE HINTERLANDS is a fantastic historical tale that brings to life the Kingdom of Benin at the point when Britain begins efforts to colonize the nation using brute force. The romance between the lead couple is deftly handled, but takes a back seat to the astute intense look at the late nineteenth century Guinea Coast. Karen Mercury provides genre fans with a triumphant tale that will send the audience seeking more such reflective works.

A Lost Touch of Bliss
Amy Tolnitch
ISBN: 1932815260 $6.99, 320 pp.

In 1191 Cain Veuxfort falls in love with Amice de Monceaux, but after seeing her betray his feelings with someone else he heeded the advice of his mother and married someone more fitting to be the wife of an Earl. However, he never forgot the woman he still loves five years later. Cain needs Amice's skill as a Spirit Goddess to send a ghost that haunts his castle on to the next realm. To get her to even come to Wareham Castle, he offers her ownership of Villa Delphino on the Italian coast. Seeing this as a chance to escape an unwanted marriage, Amice accepts Cain's terms though she has doubts because she still loves the man who betrayed her heart. At Cain's castle, their love remains strong and encouraged by his brother and uncle especially since he is a widow and even his mom cannot argue as she died a couple of years ago. Still both blame the other and unless they talk to clear the air, their relationship will remain failed just like the two star-crossed lover-ghosts that haunt the castle. The ghosts especially the female spirit turns A LOST TOUCH OF BLISS into a unique paranormal medieval romance. The lead duet in spite of Amice's abilities to communicate with the ghosts are typical of the sub-genre; however the support cast to include his two relatives, her mentor, and the specters add twists and elan to the fine tale. Fans of historical and those of otherworldly will appreciate this second chance at love in which the present (that is twelfth century present) and the deceased share so much in common.

To Die For
Linda Howard
ISBN: 0345476255 $7.99, 378 pp.

When Blair Mallory refuses to renew Nicole Goodwin's membership in her fitness center Great Bods, the latter throws a temper tantrum. After closing for the evening, Blair heads to her car only to see Nikki there. A shot rings out; Blair believes Nikki is shooting at her. She calls the police who find Nikki dead with a bullet in her. Lieutenant Wyatt Bloodsworth heads the investigation though he dated Blaire a few times before dropping her like a hot potato. During his inquiries he makes it very clear that he wants a serious relationship with Blaire and even gets her to move into his home when someone tries to shoot her. When Nikki's killer is caught, everyone breaths a sigh of relief until someone cuts the brake lines of Blaire's car. Nikki's killer has an airtight alibi while someone else apparently wants the fitness guru dead. After numerous well written romantic suspense thrillers, Linda Howard employs the first person narrative for the first time and makes it work as readers know everything the beleaguered heroine thinks and feels. This means the audience knows that Blair finds her protective champion hot, which makes their time out of bed quite an amusing battle of the sexes. There is no apparent suspect except the jailed killer so Blair and readers ponder who and why. TO DIE FOR is an excellent romantic suspense as expected from Ms. Howard, who always provides a fabulous read.

Prince of Fire
Daniel Silva
ISBN 0399152431 $25.95, 436 pp.

The bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, the bombing of an Istanbul synagogue and the suicide bombing of the Israeli embassy in Rome are the work of one mastermind, a terrorist trained by Yassar Arafat. After the bombing in Rome, the Israelis were able to trace one of the perpetrators to his home and there they found the dossier of Gabriel Allon currently working as an art restorer in Rome. Gabriel used to work for covert organization known as the Office but when his son died and his wife was physically and mentally damaged he quit the organization although he does freelance work for them at times. With his cover blown, Gabriel is forced to return to Israel and the Office where he tracks the mastermind responsible for the murders of hundreds of Jews; he intends to spill as much blood as he can in an act of revenge. When it is discovered that the terrorist intends to blow up the French subway station, Gabriel moves to stop him but that is before he learns that they kidnapped has wife and made him look to the world like a man who was responsible for the bombings. This is the fifth Gabriel Allon book and it is Daniel Silva's best work to date. Gabriel finally comes home and returns to the work he gave up as penance for what happened to his wife and child. The war between two brilliant spies is terrific as nobody is certain at what point Gabriel is the cat or the mouse. Thriller readers are going to love PRINCE OF FIRE.

Rules of Engagement
Bruce Alexander
ISBN: 0399152423 $24.95

In 1775 a saddened Lord Chief Justice William Murray asks a favor of Sir John Fielding, the magistrate of the Bow St. Court. William explains to John and his clerk Jeremy Proctor how Lord Francis Talley died. The aristocrat was completing work on a bill to blockade the four biggest American ports so the economic consequences will put an end to the Adams' nonsense when he left his office to take a walk. Halfway across the Westminster Bridge he suddenly leaped into the Thames; several witnesses willingly testified to that account of the suicide. William wonders why. John agrees to make discrete inquiries to learn what motivated Francis to kill himself. John and Jeremy soon learn that Dr. Goldsworthy, is a newcomer in town whose patron is the widow of William's clerk. This leads the sleuths to wonder who would gain most by Lord Francis dying and soon realize that no member of the dysfunctional Lammermoor family grieves and some act euphoric celebrating the death of its patriarch Lord Francis. Though the great mystery author Bruce Alexander passed away, his fans (including this reviewer) still have a treat as his wife and John Shannon completed his last Sir John novel and no one will know who wrote which part. The story line is fabulous as Jeremy is a sort of Watson looking back from near the end of the century writing about his salad days as a clerk sleuthing for his employer and mentor. Sir John and Jeremy remain true to their personalities from previous tales and the mystery of Lord Francis' death is cleverly designed. RULES OF ENGAGEMENT is a wonderful homage to a notable writer.

The Year of Our War
Steph Swainston
ISBN: 0060753870 $13.95, 400 pp.

For two millenniums the Insects have swarmed, trying to destroy the Kingdom of Awia though the Insect Wall has kept them confined to the Paperlands. Still they keep trying to breach the wall and regain what the humanoids took back from them. Ultimately they want to turn all of Awia followed by the Plainsland and Morenzia into lands of paper tunnels and hives. War is a way of life. The immortal King Dunlin Rachiswater of Awia and his Circle of fifty knights keep a vigil at Lowespass, near the Wall and one inside Insect territory. The assaults have increased lately and the monarch and his court are very concerned. Mercurius "Jant" Comet is a junkie with a criminal past who has the ability to journey to the alternate realm of Epsilon where he has built a castle that could prove to be the final escape once the inevitable Insects doom Lowespass and the surrounding lands as even the King anticipates that will one day happen. This entertaining fantasy hooks the audience from the onset and never lets go as readers will wonder if the Insects will overwhelm the Kingdom and if yes what then. The story line is exhilarating as the action-packed tale moves quickly yet provides fans with a deep look at an intriguing society where immortals live, but are from perfect as the "hero" shows. Steph Swainston writes a fantastic gripping epic fantasy while paying homage to the Roman and Greek Gods.

The Fool's Tale
Nicole Galland
ISBN: 0060721502 $25.95

In 1198 Wales is a chaotic country divided into four separate principalities with neighbors coveting and quarreling. One of the rulers, Maelgwyn "Noble" ap Cadwallon struggles to keep his crown with the English and his Welsh peers assuming he is too young, inexperienced and an easy mark. The Norman killed Noble's father in one attack; the lad survived due to the fast thinking of a lowlife friend Gwirion. His father would have been very angry as he hated the Mortimers, but to bolster his hold on his kingdom, Noble weds Isabel, the enemy's daughter. However Isabel detests wedding this loser who has befriended Gwirion the royal Fool. While Noble is at war, his castle is taken; his wife and the Fool are incarcerated. To their mutual horror they begin to fall in love. When Noble returns and regains all he almost lost, he believes that his spouse and his loyal friend cuckolded him; even if they did not everyone thinks they did and image is everything to a leader. This engaging look at medieval Wales stars a wonderful triangle populated by real people who wear masks to hide their inner feelings so that they do not seem weak. Readers will initially dislike Isabel because she acts nasty towards the witty courageous Fool and does not hide her contempt for her likable husband. However, as the tale plays out, fans will empathize with Isabel as the realization is she is a pawn of pork politics. When the triangle forms, fans will see the mask begin to fall off of the trio. Nicole Galland provides an enjoyable historical relationship drama that is no fool's tale.

The Executioner's Game
Gary Hardwick
ISBN: 0060575840 $24.95, 256 pp.

American Secretary of Commerce Donald Howard witnesses first hand the devastation of AIDS has had on Africans while visiting the continent. He also receives some intriguing but volatile information on the Kennedy assassination that paints quite a different picture than that of the official one. Not long afterward, Donald and his Secret Service agent Alex Deavers die when their vehicle is blown up. CIA Director Kilmer Gray assigns his top assassin rogue agent Luther Green to kill Deavers who apparently somehow survived the blast, probably set the bomb, and remarkably is not even Secret Service. Luther goes after his former mentor in the manner that Deavers trained him to be, professional at all times, though he has doubts that his teacher committed the act. He trails his prey through east coast cities, but seems to be always too late until they meet up in Luther's hometown of Detroit where the student's family and friends are pawns in a world of spies. This exciting espionage thriller stars two interesting rogues in a game of cat and mouse in which readers do not know which one is the feline and which one is the rodent. Neither Luther nor Alex generates reader empathy as both seem better suited for field work. The action-packed story line does not offer anything new within the literary world of spy vs. spy, but still grips the audience from start to finish as if a non-stop heavyweight championship between two real contenders is heading to the final round with the loser probably counted out for life.

Drop Dead Blonde
ISBN: 0451214447 $6.99, 352 pp.

"Stay Belle" by Nancy Martin. After her parents moved out of the country but not before wasting the family fortune, Nora Blackbird goes to work as a society reporter. She gets locked in a department store bathroom, but once she escapes, she finds a murdered person. The police make an arrest but Nora thinks they have the wrong person and almost loses her life snooping. This upbeat and funny mystery will have readers wanting more Blackbird sisters' tales. "Kill Blade" by Elaine Viets. Helen moved to Florida and takes dead end jobs so she won't have to pay her cheating ex husband alimony. Her landlady Margery tells Helen about a job she had where a smart blonde made the workplace unpleasant. She picked on the shy Minnie until the victim gained the self-confidence to get rid of her boss permanently. Elaine Viets story proves that blondes have more fun especially when riled. "Dead Blondes Tell No Tales" by Denise Swanson. School psychologist Skye Denison is helping out at the bowling alley owned by the mother of her boyfriend in order to keep Bunny out of trouble. When Ruby comes to town, it becomes obvious that somebody s after something she has and when she disappears, everyone fears the worst. This small town amateur sleuth tale is an engrossing who-done-it filled with eccentric characters in amusing situations. "Blind Sighted" by Victoria Laurie. A vacation turns into work when a guest is murdered at the hotel Psychic Abby Cooper is staying at. Using her powers of clairvoyance and precognition, Abby identifies the killers who don't take kindly to someone missing up their plans. Victoria Laurie will make believers out of the most skeptic people who don't believe in ESP. This anthology involving blond females is a charmer!

Darkness on the Edge of Town
J. Carson Black
ISBN 0451213912 $6.99, 368 pp.

In Bisbee, Arizona, teen Jessica Parker was abducted near her home and killed. The perpetrator dressed in a little girl's outfit was posed in City Park's band shell. Needing help, the police chief asks the Arizona Department of Public-Safety to send an investigator. When Laura Cardinal starts investigating, she is shocked that the girl looks like her childhood friend who was also abducted and killed. Laura finds a matchbook cover with the name Crazygirl12 is on it. Laura thinks that Jessica met her killer over the internet even though local officer Buddy Hudson believes it was a local man. Two twelve years old girls are raped and killed by a perpetrator using the sane MO as Jessica's murderer. A tip sends Laura to a small Florida town where she finds out the identity of the sexual killer. When Buddy's daughter is abducted, Laura rushes back to Bisbee; he thinks the same perpetrator took his child. Besides the kidnapper, a sexual sadist who tortures, rapes, and kills young girls has plans for the girl and is always one step ahead of the police almost as if he has inside information. DARKNESS ON THE EDGE OF TOWN is a dark brilliantly plotted police procedural that is told mostly in the third person. The author uses the first person to hone in on the perpetrator's thoughts and feelings so that readers will feel a great antipathy towards him. This is J. Cooper Black's debut novel and it reminiscent of the works of Boris Starling and Michael Slade who show the audience the darkest side of human monsters with the skill to make people afraid that their next day neighbor could be such a person.

The Love of a Lawman
Anna Jeffrey
ISBN: 0451213882 $6.50, 352 pp.

After running away from home with Billy Bledsoe eighteen years ago, Isabelle Rondneau and her unhappy ten years old daughter Ava return to Calister City, Idaho. Her nasty neighbor Art Karadimos shoots her daughter's beloved pet collie Jack. Sheriff John Bradshaw responds to Isabelle's call, but cannot do anything about the canine murder. John has never forgotten "Frizzy Izzy" who was two tears his senior and to his chagrin he still desires her though he swore off women when his ex-wife dumped him for a wealthier Southern Cal stud and took their two children with her. Feeling inadequate for his new position that he insists is temporary, John soon becomes involved in a missing game warden case that involves Izzy's brother. As he falls in love with Izzy and her daughter, John's missing person turns into a homicide when the body is found. While his spouse dumps their kids on him, he knows he must arrest the sibling of the woman he loves. This engaging police procedural romance is a fine tale due to a wonderful fully developed cast. John is terrific as he feels over his head and loaded with doubts as to whether he can handle the job even before the homicide. Izzy is an intriguing woman who also is filled with doubts especially about coming home, but knows that she must do the right thing for her sad daughter who insists Texas not Idaho is home. Though the dumping of his sons is too convenient of a side solution that also adds new woes for the hero, THE LOVE OF A LAWMAN is a fabulous contemporary tale.

The Duel
Barbara Metzger
ISBN: 0451213890 $6.50, 352 pp.

Ian knows he is an idiot for dueling with Lord Paige over cuckolding the man's wife as killing or being killed is not worth what could happen to his mother and sister if they lack his protection. Paige fires early but misses. Ian fires at a tree, but the bullet ricochets and hits a fifteen year old bystander. Feeling guilt, he takes Troy Reshow into his home and brings the lad's sister Attie to his house explaining an accident happened during target practice. Attie thinks Ian is a hero with his treatment of her ailing sibling. However, Ian is stunned when he realizes the pint sized Attie is nineteen and needs a chaperone to stay with him. Ian's mom says he must wed her. Carswell says Ian must wed her. Butler and valet make it clear that Ian must wed her. Her stepbrother Spartacus arrives and says Ian must wed her. Finally his sister Dorothy arrives and says she does not need to wed him as she can stay with her. Ian knows what he must do as he wants to wed Attie, but fears her reaction when she learns the truth about the duel. He also worries that someone wants to hurt Attie and Troy. This Regency romance contains a powerful cast starting with the strong lead couple and ably supported by a fabulous ensemble. The suspense comes late as much of the tale is focused on Ian feeling guilty while Attie worships her champion. Though the culprit is too easily stopped, fans will appreciate this fine historical tale.

Portrait of a Bride
Tracy Fobes
Love Spell
ISBN: 0505525771 $6.99

The pandemic plague devastated the world especially women; few females remain available and the competition for them can be fierce. Most men choose a seemingly easier route to finding a wife. They transport someone from the past through the work of artists like the painter Conlean. In 2005 Philadelphia, research geneticist Jordan studies fertility. However, her work abruptly ends when Conlean's portrait of her pulls her into his time period. She rejects the notion of becoming a fixture on her host's keeper shelf as a consort to Conlean's sire would be, but also finds herself attracted to the artist who brought her through time. Still she wants to go back home as being a prized pampered possession grows tedious and not allowed any risk or work is too difficult on her active mind. Although she feels she belongs in 2005, she also find Conlean's arms feel better than anyone or thing she ever felt before. PORTRAIT OF A BRIDE is an intriguing time travel science fiction romance that paints an interesting future of a world in which the scarcity of females has led the gender to become a valuable commodity. The story line contains a triangle of sorts, but what makes the tale work is the displaced Jordan. She feels hyperactive in this realm that reminds her more of the Dark Ages than her time or how she envisioned the distant future. Science fiction romance readers will appreciate this fine tale that hopefully will have More Tracy Fobes' stories occur in this "devastated" realm.

What Do You Say To A Naked Elf?
Cheryl Sterling
Love Spell
ISBN: 0505526190 $5.99

Jane Drysdale is driving her car when a blowout causes her vehicle to land in a ditch. Before she can call for assistance, elves arrive to rescue her. However, their rescue turns into more of an arrest when they take the bewildered human to the magical land of Lowth where she is on trial for murder. Jane quickly discovers that on this world she has the ability to use magic. As her hybrid (half human-half elf) lawyer Charlie defends her, Jane learns that she has a mission to save her new world from total destruction. With Charlie at her side (and a few other hovering places what can you expect with a distant pair of wings?), Jane begins the quest to rescue Lowth, a seemingly impossible mission. In a sense this fabulous epic romantic fantasy is a coming of age story starring a terrific if somewhat bewildered heroine with her champion (though she does much of the rescuing) at her side. Jane is a terrific protagonist and Charlie brings honor and ethics to the legal profession (lawyers are too easily a fall group for doing their jobs representing people). The mythological species that populate Lowth come across as genuine in this sterling tale that showcases the talents of a delightful imaginative author. Read this fine book to learn how the heroine answered the title question in this It Happened to Jane adventure tale.

The Velvet Rope
Brenda L. Thomas
Downtown (Pocket)
ISBN: 0743477286 $13.00, 288 pp.

Public relations expert Tiffany Johnson decides to go for her dream to become the "Philly queen of the night"; she quits her successful career at Platinum Images and forms a partnership with her sister Kamille, her fiance Malik Skinner, and her best friend Essence to open up in a few months a club, Teaz Entertainment. She also obtains backing from suburbia's Greg "D-Dog" and his father. As the club becomes the in-spot, Tiffany learns that her fiance and her sister shared a one night stand in college that they hid from her; her nephew Kareem could be a result of that fling. The cops begin investigating the money trail of the club as drugs and mob ties surface with the link seemingly being D-Dog and dad. Tiffany's dream has taken a nightmarish spin with no one for her to depend on or trust except herself. This intriguing family drama smoothly switches from first person accounts to third person so that the audience obtains a deep character study. The ensemble cast is easy to delineate one from another, but Tiffany receives the most empathy though she is far from an innocent babe. The story line feels like an African-American 2005 Peyton Place as it seems everyone is doing in everyone else; thus readers will feel no empathy to any character. Still Brenda L. Thomas provides a strong look at the downside of hanging with the in-crowd, which proves to be more glitter than gold.

Got Fangs
Katie Maxwell
Smooch (Dorchester)
ISBN: 0843953993 $5.99, 193 pp.

Oregonian teenager Francesca only wants to be normal, but that is difficult when you are six feet tall, bigger than most males in the school, and can read minds by touching objects. Making it more difficult to be a norm is her recently divorced mother, a witch who has dragged Fran to Hungary on a traveling show tour filled with freaks and geeks. Fran is almost run over by a motorcycle. The driver is a hunk who is actually taller than her, which is what freaks her out. She does not blink when she learns he is Benedikt Czerny, a Czech Moravian Dark One over three centuries old. As she suffers from a crush over the geriatric vampire who does not look a day over his early twenties, he believes she is the one who will save his soul. Of course when it comes to battling a demon, Benedikt thinks Fran and his sister should stay home while he fights alone; he obviously does not understand an American Amazonian princess who is prepared to kick demon butt and his if necessary between their kisses. The cast whether they are normals, supernatural, or hybrid in-betweeners seem genuine so that the audience receives a delightful young adult fantasy. The story line grips the audience from the moment a lamenting Fran, the poster girl for teen angst, meets Benedikt, the centerfold of vampires; and never slows down until the final altercation with the demon that will open the Moravian's eyes (not his fangs). Fans will appreciate this fine amusing yet suspenseful tale of vampires, witches, and demons, oh my.

The Reluctant Bride
Leigh Greenwood
ISBN: 0843952369 $6.99, 373 pp.

In 1872 mail order bride Tanzy Gallant travels from St. Louis to meet her future spouse rancher Russ Tibbolt in Boulder Gap, Colorado Territory. Near the end of her trek she sees her husband for the first when she watches him shoot fleeing outlaws with buckshot. Uncomfortable with violence and hearing about Russ' reputation from a traveling companion that he killed someone ten years ago, Tanzy decides to delay the nuptials insisting to Russ they need to know one another better; Russ reluctantly agrees. Russ is attracted to the sassy Tanzy and begins courting his fiancee. She soon sees a different picture of the person so many fear; instead he is kind and caring. As they fall in love, his past surfaces when an enemy snatches his Tanzy to get at Russ. Leigh Greenwood always provides one of the year's best western romances, but his latest tale may be the best in an illustrious career. The lead couple is a likable pairing that readers hope come together as their interplay is terrific fun to follow. However, what makes the tale is the realistic support cast as the audience gets a different taste on relationships that would send someone less courageous than Tanzy is back to St. Louis. It is only January and once again Mr. Greenwood will have one of the sub-genre top guns of 2005.

Bobbi Smith
ISBN: 0843953128 $6.99, 321 pp.

He was hoping to start over, but former convict Darrell Miller witnesses a horrible violent act that has him fleeing for safety with pursuers chasing him. He ducks inside a church seeking a respite and figure out what to do while a service is going on. Pregnant Jenny Emerson will give birth in the next few weeks by herself. Her boyfriend Mark has rejected their child and consequently her. She sits in a pew praying for a miracle. After thirty plus years together, Alan Pennington informs his wife Dorothy that he is leaving her for a younger woman. Stunned she feels deserted by one and all including God whom she always firmly worshiped. Sixty-five years old Joe Myers is having doubts about God as everyday he reads about murders and rapes in the streets. As the violence rises, his beliefs fall. These four lost souls have come together at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church in need of miracles. What they get is each other but can they help each other gain a renewed faith in the goodness s of humanity? This inspirational tale will provide plenty of solace to readers interested in an upbeat contemporary story. The issues seem monumental especially to the individuals confronted with them and Bobbi Smith does a superb job laying out the problems. However, the key characters and important secondary players are never fully developed so that the impact is somewhat abated. Still HAVEN is a fine uplifting tale of faith lost and faith found.

White Tigress
Jada Lee
ISBN: 0843953934 $5.99

In 1898 Lydia Smith leaves England to make a surprise visit to her fiance, who she has missed. However, she never makes her destination as she is kidnapped, drugged, and sold into sexual slavery to a Chinese brothel. Ru "The Dragon" Shan is going to teach Lydia all he knows about sexuality, but the WHITE TIGRESS Buddhist will never release his seed physically as he wants to capture her yin to spiritually supplement his yang. However he finds himself attracted to the slave who displays intelligence that he has never seen in a woman before especially as she insists he is her teacher not her master. As they fall in love, Ru struggles to keep from physically ejactulating but Lydia makes it the most difficult task of his enlightened life as she insists their yin and yang belong together in loving harmony. This exotic, erotic and spiritual historical romance is unique as Jada Lee introduces her audience to the sexual side of Zen Buddhism by interweaving eastern beliefs into the robust story line. The lead couple is an enjoyable powerful pairing and comparing of two strong souls, but it is Ru whose inimitability not seen in romance tales that makes the novel different, educational, and engaging. WHITE TIGRESS is a fine distinctive tale of East loves West.

Jeff Buick
ISBN 0843955155 $6.99, 374 pp.

With the combined efforts of the U.S. government and Columbian authorities, ruthless drug lord Pablo Escobar was hunted down and killed. Fingerprint, dental records and DNA proved that the body was Escobar. Eleven years later, an account that only Escobar had access to has withdrawals. Columbian Mario Rastano and his son Javier, druglords masquerading as responsible businessmen, are notified of the withdrawals because much of the money belongs to them; they realize Escobar is alive and want the code to the account. The Rastanos kidnap the wife and daughter of Pablo's cousin Eugene Estobar. If Eugene hopes to see them alive again, he must bring the code to Javier in one week. He wins the help of the DEA, the CIA and a U.S. senator, all who have reasons to want Pablo dead. However, one team member is a mole reporting every move the group makes to Pablo. Eugene uses his family connections to look for his cousin, hoping one of them will know where he is and help him. BLOODLINE is an action-packed thriller which gives readers a feel for what it is like living in a country where the drug lords control so much. This work starts faster than a racing car in a straightaway and never slows down so that readers feel they are part of the action. Eugene is a loving and devoted husband and father who will do whatever it takes to get his family back. He is also intelligent enough to put a mole in the Rastano estate in the hopes that he can free his family if he fails to find Pablo. Jeff Buick is a writer with a great future ahead of him.

The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes: The Complete Short Stories
Leslie Klinger (editor)
ISBN: 0393059162 $75.00

This collection makes quite a holiday stocking stuffer (need an extra large sock) for the mystery aficionado as the two volumes focus on and provides the fifty-six short stories written by Arthur Conan Doyle. The tales are well known and require no accolades as to how good they are especially to fans of the great detective. Though this reviewer read most if not all as a teen, re-reading them was a delight that was done in one-two tales a night over the last month. Of interest is all the additions including annotations, commentary and essays on side subjects raised in the tale such as the Boer War. The biographies of Holmes and Watson are an added treat. Finally there are fascinating thesis and hypothesis provided on interpretation, alternate views, disagreements, and inconsistencies within the shorts, which this reviewer still is reading. A positive leap forward from the previous all encompassing work (see William S. Baring-Gould's ANNOTATED SHERLOCK HOLMES). This is a tremendous anthology not just for the stories that are excellent, but because of the side notes and anecdotal commentary that show an incredible amount of research, insight and the 700 plus illustrations that enhance this incredible tome. THE NEW ANNOTATED SHERLOCK HOLMES: THE COMPLETE SHORT STORIES is a fantastic introduction to the world's finest detective so complete that fans will believe that this Sherlock Holmes compilation proves the sleuth lived. Note that the four novels will follow in their own volume.

The Rose of the World
Jude Fisher
ISBN 0756401879 $23.95, 512 pp.

Three benevolent beings, the Woman, the Man and the Beast watched over the world of Elda making it a land of harmony, peace, and love. This idyllic world dissolved into chaos when Rahe, the most powerful sorcerer that ever lived kidnapped the Beast and the Woman, and buried the Man in a place to die. The Woman, the Rosa Eldi was stripped of her memories and her magic and taken to Rahe's hidden ice fortress where he siphoned off her powers and that of the Beast, making him more powerful and dangerous. When Rahe's apprentice stole the Rose of the World and the Beast, magic returned to the world. At a trade fair, the King of the North, Ravn and the Lord of them South Tycho Issianm saw the Rose of the World and wanted her. Ravn won but Tycho Issian swore he would get her for himself. He coaxed the population into making war on the north. While this political intrigue takes place, the Rose of the World remembers who she is and is horrified that the world is a hateful place of petty wars and enmity between the north and the south. It is something she won't stand for as the Woman plans to find the Man and the Beast so they can return Elda to what it once was. The third book in the Fool's Gold fantasy series ties up all the loose ends, answering all questions satisfactorily while rewarding readers with a fantastic climax. THE ROSE OF THE WORLD is more epic in scope, so the various sub-plots tie seamless back to the main storyline as readers understand why each sub-plot was necessary to make this romantic fantasy a complex and fulfilling work.

Phoenix and Ashes
Mercedes Lackey
ISBN: 0756401615 $24.95, 405 pp.

While World War I rages in Europe, in Broom, England widower Charles Robinson is a successful merchant raising his daughter Eleanor. One day he returns from a business trip with a surprise for Eleanor; he introduces her new "mother" his wife Alison and her two daughters. Almost immediate after the nuptials, he signs on for trench warfare and dies in combat. Alison, a dark Earth Master, binds Eleanor to the house with an obedience spell. Meanwhile former pilot and Air Master Reggie Fenyx returns home believing he lost his magical prowess when he was tormented by earth elementals. Though depressed the family ball is coming up and he will play the role of good host. Eleanor, who has loved Reggie, begins serendipitously to learn to use her skill as a Fire Master. If Alison finds out what she is doing too soon she knows she is doomed, but perhaps at the ball Reggie will realize she is his life mate and together combining the power of fire and air with love they can defeat earth. This is an intriguing retelling of Cinderella that combines history and fantasy to tell an adult fairy tale. Alison is a terrifically sinister malevolence while Eleanor is her perfect unsure opponent and slave. Reggie suffers from battle fatigue that has sapped him of his natural abilities leaving him magically impaired, which makes him an interesting protagonist. Though the story line at times is overwhelmed with historical details that seem unnecessary even if they provide in most cases a World War I era ambience, Mercedes Lackey provides a fine rendition of the classic tale with her latest Elemental Masters novel.

Ghost of a Chance
Peter Guttridge
P.O. Box 102004, Denver, CO 80210
ISBN: 0972577688 $14.00, 282 pp.

Weekly editor Bridget Frost commissioned reporter Nick Madrid to write a story after spending a night being haunted near Ashcombe Manor in Sussex; Nick figures that the modern day druids, loonies and a Priest of Isis, etc. haunt the manor converted into a New Age Conference Centre. Still Nick visits the nearby graveyard to spend a night visiting the dead except one of the dead is hanging upside down from a tree. He calls the police who like everyone else wonder what is so special about finding a dead person in a graveyard; Nick also faces the wrath of the New Age Conference Center's Moira Cassidy who warned him to stay away. As DI Bradley investigates murder, he suspects Nick. Knowing that this is NO LAUGHING MATTER, the reporter makes his own inquiries into all the believers at the New Age Conference Center especially those who frequent the cemetery wearing animal heads and a nearby filming of the Great Beast, the story of the infamous spiritualist Crowley. Although the plot is loose and all over the place, Peter Guttridge provides an amusing satirical take on the British who-done-it. The amusing story line has Nick struggling with his inquiries that makes him believe that he does not have A GHOST OF A CHANCE to solve the case. Everyone acts weird and suspicious, but no one seems to have motive to turn the victim into a tarot card poster boy of the Hanging Tree. Nick provides the little focus there is as he gets personal yoga lessons that leave him red in the face (and elsewhere) while investigating. Fans of wacky mysteries will enjoy this humorous tale.

The Silver Angel
Barbara M. Hodges
Tigress Press
2509 Morning Glory Drive, Columbia, MO 65202
ISBN: 097613151X $TBA 573-446-8525

Seven years ago, the Rift between Earth and Daradawn closed. On Earth, humans Ben and his daughter Delilah raise her six-year-old half-breed daughter Angel by themselves, as her purebred elven father was killed in Daradawn. However, now the Rift is reopening; Ben and Delilah want to give Angel a chance to meet the patriarchal side of her family and to slow the aging process that has the six years old looking and acting like a teenager. Although Ben looks forward to crossing over, Angel does not. Also waiting to go back to Daradawn, Dirrk the sorcerer has returned from the dead with the help of Kelsey's stepson; his goal has not changed. He plans to take over the kingdom with Regan as his queen or see her dead. His opportunity rises with the inadvertent help of the reluctant Angel. The battle of good vs. evil has reached the next generation. THE SILVER ANGEL is a terrific action-packed romantic fantasy starring the return of several delightful protagonists and an evil antagonist from the previous thrillers (see THE BLUE FLAME and EMERALD DAGGER) and the introduction of the next generation. Though the ensemble cast may at times seem overwhelming to newcomers, the tale stands alone and is fun to follow once the reader understands the relationships (for returning fans this is no problem); especially between key cast members and the two sisters (Regan and Kelsey) who serve as the center of the trilogy. Barbara M. Hodges provides a fabulous tale that grips her audience from start to finish leaving a desire for more trips to Daradawn.

Going All the Way
Tanya Michaels
Harlequin Temptation
ISBN: 0373692080 $4.50, 216 pp.

David Grant of AGI Voicetech is relocating from Boston to Atlanta. He looks forward to the change because his best friend since they attended Georgia Tech together Serena Donavan lives there, but he has other plans for their "platonic" relationship. Last year on a visit to see her, they spent the night making love for the first and only time. He flew back to the northeast on the wings of love, but she left him a terse email that their torrid evening was a mistake. He plans to correct her error. David begins his campaign to overcome Serena's doubts that they are too different to have a relationship and besides sex destroys friendships, something she does not want to lose although she feels that may have occurred already. He on the other hand knows she is the one and being a member of the determined Savannah Grant brood will use every trick in the book to persuade her that they can be friends and lovers forever. GOING ALL THE WAY is a heated contemporary romance starring two likeable protagonists struggling between friendship and love. David is a wonderful obstinate lead male who refuses to surrender without a fight while Serena worries that love and sex will destroy their wonderful friendship. Tanya Michaels provides the audience with a heated battle of the sexes with everyone rooting for David to prove he is right for Serena.

Without a Clue
Trish Jensen
Harlequin Flipside
ISBN: 0373442084 $4.50, 218 pp.

In Charleston, events planner Meg Renshaw hosts a weekend murder mystery gala. However, the festival goes poorly even before it begins as her assistant Tina Brown tells her the "corpse" Shakespearean actor Terence Brogan is so high probably to hide from how low he has fallen he would not feel a cement truck land on his head. Terence explains that he is a professional regardless of the gig, but he had emergency root canal surgery and is not inebriated; instead he is filled with pain pills slurring his words. That is the positive highlight as Meg concludes that Murphy was an optimist as everything seems to be going wrong and the weekend is just starting. Developer Matt Rossi comes to the estate her owns and rented to Meg. She and Tina persuade him to act the lord of the manor as her corpse. Out of character for the staid Matt he agrees because eh is very attracted to the creative Meg. She reciprocates though she feels somewhat like a necromantic sex fiend except this corpse stays warm and alive as he tries to lure her into his coffin, make that his bed. Though the theme of a prim and proper male meeting a loose extroverted female (think Sabrina) has been done plenty of times, Trish Jensen refreshes her tale with two wonderful opposites struggling with a wacky weekend made wackier by love. The lead duet is a likable pair and the support cast augments the plot by bringing to life the fun and pitfalls of the mystery weekend. The clues are obvious that this is an amusing romance in which the heroine gets the live corpse.

Her Little Secret
Anna Adams
Harlequin SuperRomance
ISBN: 0373712480 $5.50, 296 pp.

She left the police force for love, but six years ago Abby Carlton gave up on her fiance Thomas Riley. She concluded he was unable to balance his work as a soldier with a loving family relationship with her. His duty to country always came first, second and last; she did not make the bottom rung of the food chain. She moved to Houston returning to the force. Currently she works on the Houston Crisis Intervention Team. Thomas is back begging her to help him as he has no one else to turn to. He explains he lost his arrogance when he hesitated on a rescue mission; three of his team, a woman, children, and a cleric died. Abby is unable to say no, but soon their love rekindles. However, Abby knows he will leave and though she now carries his child, she plans to raise the child alone. Perhaps it was the deadly incident or his second chance, but Thomas knows what he lost and refuses to allow dej… vu to occur, but must persuade his beloved woman in blue to give him another chance. This fine police procedural romance stars a wonderful female protagonist and guilt wracked male needing her hugs, warmth, and love to help him cope with a form of battle fatigue syndrome caused by a failed mission leading to deaths. The story line grips the audience as Abby and Thomas battle their attraction even as she helps him accept he is not superman. A subplot involving another of the Women in Blue seems out of the blue; still HER LITTLE SECRET is a fine tale focusing on how difficult it is for a dedicated military person to keep a family.

As Hot As It Gets
Jamie Sobrato
Harlequin Blaze
ISBN: 0373791712 $4.75, 247 pp.

Phoenix travel agent Claire Elliot manages Sunny Horizons Travel, but mostly lusts over Mason Walker, whom she met and was stranded with for a week in Hawaii. She learns that he has built a successful adult only Caribbean resort, Escapade. While driving her car, Claire fantasizes that she is making love with Mason and runs a red light that leads to an accident. Claire decides she needs to get the hunk out of her system so she travels to Escapade. To her shock, Mason rejects her even though she tries to seduce him an though he wants her badly. As she turns up the tropical heat, he melts and knows he will never get enough of this woman who raises his blood to AS HOT AS IT GETS. This torrid sequel (see SOME LIKE IT SIZZLING in which this lead couple played a secondary role in Hawaii) stars an interesting male protagonist who at first feels Claire is a stalker as she never leaves him alone in spite of his asking her to do so. Fans will agree with Mason on that point. However, once he joins her in making her obsession their fixation, readers receive a heated passionate tropical romance.

Hard to Handle
Jamie Denton
Harlequin Blaze
ISBN: 0373791704 $4.75, 251 pp.

In San Francisco child advocate attorney Michaela Corelli joins her two friends Lauren Massey and Rosy Constable on a lock and key party (for the pals' tales see ON THE LOOSE BY Shannon Hollis and SLOW RIDE by Carrie Alexander). To Mikki's shock her former husband Nolan Baker is at Painter's Cove Resort too. Stunning her even further, Nolan informs Mikki they are still married as the lawyer she selected to handle her divorce was disbarred before the filing. Though he knows he has a death wish, Nolan still loves Mikki and plans to get back into her life. However, though she enjoys the sex and seems to love him too, Mikki refuses to engage in anything after the resort. She admits to herself she owes Nolan the truth but is too cowardly to reveal her shame preferring to dim it with alcohol. The third tale in the Lock and Key trilogy is a terrific ending that stars an intriguing individual who was a victim as a child albeit her profession, but the adult still hides in shadows out of fear. Mikki is not very likable yet the audience will feel deeply for her and pray that somehow Nolan can reach her. Jamie Denton provides a powerful tale that is more than just an inferno under the covers, but is an insightful realistic look at how crippling sexual abuse received as a child terrorizes the adult.

Picket Fence
Kimberly Cates
ISBN: 0373770251 $6.50, 384 pp.

In Whitewater, Illinois, new librarian Finnoula O'Grady buys March Winds; this is her first real home ironically using her late estranged dad's legacy to make the purchase. Finn meets her young next door neighbor Emma, who becomes angry when she learns that the house has a new occupant; Emma insists the house belongs to a ghost haunting the place. Emma's guardian Uncle Cade McDaniel arrives to collect his niece, but he acts sexist and condescending towards their new neighbor. Both visitors hurt Finn by telling her she does not belong, her biggest fear after a wanderlust childhood. Emma tries to drive Finn out of her home with mischievous pranks. However, when she finds a century and half old diary, she and the two adults become engrossed in the story of a previous resident. As Cade and Finn fall in love, they begin to shower his lonely niece with love. Still, these are three tortured individuals who in their own way have never been able to relate to anyone on an intimate level so unless a matchmaking ghost can change a house into a home, the future remains bleak. PICKET FENCE is a terrific relationship drama starring three lost souls who desperately need one another, but none has the ability or courage to reach out for fear of rejection. The story line grips the audience from the first skirmish between enemy combatants Finn and Emma; the plot takes several fascinating spins including the diary so that fans never lose interest. Kimberly Cates provides a discerning look at love offering its healing power if only the lead trio would take a chance.

Sex and the Serial Killer
Jennifer Skully
ISBN: 0373770278 $6.50, 384 pp.

In San Francisco, Warren Spivey heeds the advice of his psychologist to obtain closure with his former girlfriend Cookie; she vanished without a word when they were seeing each other in high school. Warren's wife of fifteen years forty year old Roberta helps him find Cookie and encourages him to go visit her in Cottonmouth, California. Not long after Warren leaves he notifies Roberta that he is not coming back as Cookie needs him because she is in an unhappy marriage. Roberta decides to redo herself before going to Cottonmouth to show off what Warren lost. She changes her name to Bobbie to symbolize her new "bad" girl image and moves to Cottonmouth. Next door is hunky artist Nick who most locals believe is a serial killer, but Bobbie thinks he is the perfect bad boy to introduce her into a new world of steamy pleasure. With a catchy weird title, SEX AND THE SERIAL KILLER lives up to it wild name as readers will receive a torrid humorous romance that will keep the audience wondering if Nick is a killer and who will Bobbie end up with. The tale is satirical and wacky, but contains several intriguing characters, especially the anchor, the converted Roberta now Bobbie. Jennifer Skully delivers a fun entertaining second chance tale that heats and amuses at the same time.

Our Two Sons
Kathryn Shay
Harlequin SuperRomance
ISBN: 0373712537 $5.50, 294 pp.

In Rockford, New York, liberal arts oriented Beckett College has added a Sports Study major that upsets Dr. Jacelyn Ross, head of the Business Department because she feels this new degree demeans the pristine reputation of the school. Still she asks the hunk putting it together, Mike "the King" Kingston for his autograph because her son Kyle, who is twenty years old and whom she raised by herself, wanted it. Mike categorizes her as an aging groupie as he raises his son Tyler by himself because the kid's mother fled to Europe to hang with a soccer star. When Mike meets Jacey for the second time he is stunned to learn who she is. As they cannot ignore their attraction, they begin a fling encouraged by their two sons. However, her odious ex manages to make Jacey have doubts that a relationship with the coach is good for their son plus he reminds her of the ethics rule of no fraternizing amongst the faculty. The Coach needs a Hail Mary to pull out the victory of a lifetime with his beloved Jacey. Outside of defeating Michigan this is a fine contemporary romance starring two amiable lead characters, their fine sons, and a host of academic types that bring the fall college scene in New York to life. Though readers will wonder why Jacey would allow her former spouse to sack her loving relationship (except to cause unneeded conflict between her and her beloved), fans will believe that Kathryn Shay scored the winning touchdown with this sweet tale of love.

The Sinner
Kathleen O'Brien
Harlequin SuperRomance
ISBN: 0373712499 $5.50, 294 pp.

Rising Hollywood star Lara Lynmore gives a presentation at the Breast Cancer Awareness luncheon when her stalker stuntman Kenny Boggs makes his move. Her bodyguard, former FBI Agent Bryce McClintock intercedes. The deranged Kenny uses a knife to stab Bryce in his upper arm to the bone; Bryce shoots and kills the dangerous intruder. Bryce returns home to Heyday where he surprisingly inherited the home of his estranged father. His plan is to recuperate enough to play blackjack in the Bahamas. Lara follows Bryce not because she hero worships him, but because she has loved her bodyguard from almost the first moment her lawyer, his friend, introduced them. Now she must persuade him that he comes first not fame. The latest "Heroes of Heyday" (see THE SAINT) is a fine contemporary romance starring two likable lead protagonists though the hero is in denial perhaps a bit too long as he insists he is not the marrying kind and that she is. Lara is a terrific individual who struggles to not let fame overwhelm her as much as she toils with getting Bryce to recognize they belong together. Fans will enjoy this fine look at the price of fame while looking forward to the third brother's tale, THE STRANGER.

Dangerous Curves
Pamela Britton
ISBN: 0373770359 $6.99

FBI Agent Cece Blackwell threatens to quit because her boss Bob takes her off the Mantos explosives case that she has worked undercover as a loose bimbo for weeks to handle a driver's death amongst the NASCAR racing set. Bob says she is the only one he has with racing car experience. Part of her ire comes from the fact that her high school nemesis and (unrequited crush) Blain Sanders heads the Sanders NASCAR team whose employee died. To her shock, Blain admits he asked for her to run the investigation because their mutual mentor insists she is the best and because of her experience with racing cars; she gloats that she beat him back in school. Blain explains that it appears on the surface Randy, his team's driver, died in an accident except for the fact he received threatening letters. Reluctantly she accepts the case. Rather quickly Blain and Cecilia (as he calls her) struggle with an attraction for one another, but unlike high school she is hesitant to act on her feelings for fear of rejection and the danger of her work. As the threats rise and the killer becomes even bolder, the duo works together to uncover the murderer while falling in love. DANGEROUS CURVES is a fast-paced police procedural romance that stars two wonderful protagonists whose romance has a bumpy detoured path. The investigation is cleverly handled and shares lead theme with the romance and the insightful look at a racing car team. Cece is handled brilliantly throughout but especially when she suffers a traumatic injury while Blain is more of a surprise as he seems so confident and sure of himself yet (read the book). Pamela Britton provides her audience with an exciting spin.

Lord of Dunkeathe
Margaret Moore
ISBN: 0373770405 $6.99, 384 pp.

In 1240 Scottish King Alexander awards Norman Sir Nicholas with Dunkeathe's Castle for his loyalty. Norman needs a wealthy bride so he announces that he hosts a selection gala. Ten ladies with quite a retinue participate with only one being a Scot, Lady Riona mac Dougen, whose kind Uncle Fergus wants the best for his ward. Nicholas is attracted to the brave kindhearted Riona and relishes the idea she is Scottish because he needs a ticket to gain friends; however she has no dowry so he knows nothing can come of this. As he observes the women, several are brainless; some are haughty; while a few do not want to wed him. All except perhaps Riona knows the abusive price of failure from their male protector. Only Riona interests him and he her, but both realizes he can not choose an impoverished bride. LORD OF DUNKEATHE is a fine fifteenth century romance that provides glimpses and hints of how women are less than cattle amidst the aristocracy. Readers will agree with Nicholas that the heroine is so perfect, she must be hiding something. The real rivals lack substance so that no true competition occurs. Still Nicholas is a captivating lead male hunk and Riona a delightful charmer so that fans of the sub-genre will enjoy this solid tale, but wonder what could have been if talented Margaret Moore broke out of the box into more of a historical plight of the female tale.

The Pleasure Slave
Gena Showalter
ISBN: 0373770324 $6.99, 384 pp.

In Imperia, the Priestess of Druinn Zirra demands that mortal warrior Tristan ar Malik binds with her or else; he refuses and insists he must leave because the Great Lord Challann wants to discuss the rebellion in Gillorad. Angry, Zirra breaks the alliance between sorcerers and humans by casting a spell on Tristan that makes him her PLEASURE SLAVE living inside a jewelry box unless she calls him. Only true love can break the spell. Fifteen earth centuries later in Santa Fe, antiquities dealer Julia "Jules" Anderson purchases a jewelry box at Kreuger Flea Market. When she opens the small box Tristan appears in her kitchen. To his shock she rejects his offer to pleasure her though he feels she wants him. As they begin to fall in love, Tristan becomes concerned that Zirra will learn the truth and kill his beloved even if they are light years away thanks to a second curse by the High Priest to hide the breaking of the alliance pact. He would prefer slavery especially to his "Little Dragon" than freedom and death for her. This exciting romantic fantasy with some science fiction elements especially when the reader visits Imperia is a terrific tale that sub-genre fans will appreciate. Tristan is a delightful hero struggling with the first person to not want him as a slave; his Jules displays the HEART OF A DRAGON (coming soon) as she courageously desires the best for her recent off the wall purchase, although she wants him just more than just self-indulgence. With this tale and the charming THE STONE PRINCE, Gena Showalter is gaining the reputation of a master wizard who enchants her readers.

The Bad Luck Wedding Dress
Geralyn Dawson
ISBN: 0373770375 $5.99

Big Jack Bailey blames dressmaker Jenny Fortune for the calamites that beset his three daughters after they wore Miss Fortune's showcase wedding dress at their weddings. Jack believes the designer cursed the dress since she can not find a groom of her own. Saloon owner Trace McBride, who raises the three female "McBride Menaces" by himself, rents space to Jenny to run her business. His three girls decide that Jenny is the perfect Momma to replace their dead mother; being menaces they will do what it takes to bring their dad and momma Jenny together. With Jack's word of mouth accusing Jenny of seemingly every catastrophe in the region in the last year, her business suffers; who wants to buy a happy occasion gown from a woman who creates curses. To prove her best wedding dress is not a bringer of bad luck, Jenny decides she needs to wear it at her wedding; she agrees with the menaces that Trace is perfect for her, especially since she loves the dope, who refuses to have a second wife after the mistreatment he and the girls received from spouse number one. This is reprint of a fantastic mid 1990s often amusing with plenty of pathos western romance that grips the heart and soul of readers due to the key cast especially the once burned Trace and his girls. Jenny is a courageous person who sees the three menaces as precocious children needing love, warmth and hugs to help guide them. Fans will appreciate this fine tale that holds up quite well and seek the sequels (THE BAD LUCK WEDDING CAKE and THE BAD LUCK WEDDING NIGHT).

Whirlwind Groom
Debra Cowen
Harlequin Historical
ISBN: 0373293380 $5.50, 300 pp.

In 1882 Galveston, Ian McDougal killed the fiance and parents of Josie Webster. The judge freed the killer. Over the next two years, Ian and three siblings went on a murder rampage, but his siblings are dead and he waits trial in Whirlwind, Texas. For four days, Josie has staked out the jail. Her actions seems obvious to Sheriff Davis Lee Holt; he assumes she plans to help Ian escape, an action he will never allow to happen. Josie is in town working on insuring justice occurs as she does not trust the Republic's judicial system. If that means helping Ian break out so be it, but her plan also calls for killing Ian, as she lives for vengeance. At least that is all she has breathed since that judge set Ian free until she met the sheriff who has reawakened her other feelings besides hatred. The third "Whirlwind" western romance is a fabulous historical that sub-genre fans will believe is a post holiday treat. The story line contains two protagonists who do not trust the other gender, which leads to resisting the growing attraction to one another. Ian is a psychopath who enjoys killing so the audience will support and commiserate with Josie's need for closure with vengeance being her only hope. Debra Cowen provides a delightful Texas late nineteenth century romance

The Virtuous Woman
Gilbert Morris
Bethany House
ISBN: 0764226614 $12.99, 320 pp.

In 1935, a dying convict Bertha Zale confesses to the chaplain of New York State Women's Prison Father Anthony Mazzoni that she committed a terrible sin. In 1916 at the City Hospital, Bertha's baby died and she switched her infant for another. The Father does some research and realizes that a Grace Winslow, daughter of fifty something renowned artist Phil and his wife Cara died that day. He believes Bertha's s dying confession substantiated by information and informs the Winslows of what he heard and learned. The Winslows hire Francis Key who locates Grace known as Ruby. He has a hard time persuading her, but to escape her brute of a boyfriend she agrees to take the train across the country to Long Island to meet the Winslows. In New York, her three siblings react differently, Brian and Paige have doubts that this street kid belongs in their upper class lifestyle and besides that makes one more person to split the inheritance with. The other brother Brian, who suffered a scarring facial injury as a teen welcomes her into the family. How will the family members adapt to this rough newcomer? This is a terrific inspirational House of Winslow historical tale. The interrelationships between the various members of the Winslow family with each other and with three beaus including Francis, but especially with Grace are realistic, honest and exciting to follow as each will need to turn to Jesus for their personal solace. Fans will appreciate Gilbert Morris' latest winner that brings alive the 1930s Long island lifestyle in a warm upbeat way.

Till Shiloh Comes
Gilbert Morris
Bethany House
ISBN: 0764229192 $12.99, 320 pp.

Besides being the favorite of his father Jacob who never believes his eleventh born son Joseph does any wrong, the lad who has yet to shave enjoys bragging how he is also Yahweh's favorite as the Lord visits him in his dreams. Already tired with his bragging and ranting about being the favored one as his new multicolor robe represents, Joseph's siblings go over the top when he claims they will one day bow to him. The siblings interpret this to mean that Jacob will select Joseph as the next patriarch. Angry, they plot to kill him, but one brother Ruben intercedes and saves his life. Instead they sell him into slavery. Over the years, Joseph becomes an important advisor to the Egyptian Pharaohs. He gains wealth and power and ultimately his family arrives in Egypt starving and on their knees to the advisor to the Pharaoh. Joseph forgives them their transgression; each sibling expects Jacob to name Joseph as the next patriarch, but instead the father states that "The scepter will not depart from Judah until Shiloh comes." Those who will consider reading this terrific biblical novel already know the story of Joseph and do not need the above two paragraphs. Gilbert Morris provides a fantastic rendition that brings to life Jacob, his wife Rachel and their children especially Joseph as few authors can. Fans of biblical fiction will want to read this insightful entertaining biographic fictionalized version that adheres to the Old Testament passages and seek the previous novels in the fantastic Lions of Judah series (see HEART OF A LION, NO WOMAN SO FAIR and THE GATE OF HEAVEN).

Gods and Kings
Lynn Austin
Bethany House
ISBN: 0764229893 $12.99, 320 pp.

Believing Yahweh as a myth of his ancestor King David and desperate to appease the idol Molech that he believes is the power, Hebrew King Ahaz of Judah decides to sacrifice his last son Hezekiah. By killing his son in sacrifice to Molech, Ahaz hopes to gain favor to win a war that has so far devastated his army and people. Only the lad's mother Abijah might be able to save her son's life, but she trusts no one yet needs help to keep Hezekiah safe. That help comes in the form of a miracle when Yahweh the true God makes his presence known at the altar. Surviving his evil father's excesses when he was a child, Hezekiah is now the king with only two people loyal to him out of love for him; his mother and his wife, but they know they must allow him to rule. Besides showering him with love, they pray to Yahweh to guide their beloved; for both knows his male role models have been abominations including his dead father, drunken grandfather, the power hungry disbelieving High Priest and foreign born instructor. Yet he must also deal with the Assyrian invasion and the scorn of the Great Prophet Isaiah. This is a terrific work of Old Testament historical fiction that provides an insightful look at two intriguing Hebrew descendents of David Kings Ahaz and Hezekiah; the former prayed to an idol while his son implemented needed religious reforms and a return to the One God. The story line is very entertaining while bringing to life a fascinating segment of the bible. Lynn Austin entertains her myriad of fans with her first of five book Chronicle of Kings series.

C.J. Cherryh
ISBN 0756402530 $24.95, 480 pp.

The Atevi send the spaceship Phoenix to Reunion Station where the inhabitants encountered the sentient space faring Kyo who planned to blow up the facility because it was in territory they considered theirs. Deploying diplomacy, interpreter and Human-Atevi advisor Bren Cameron convinces the Kyo to allow the four thousand inhabitants to peacefully leave and then the space station would belong to the Kyo. Now they are days away from home and both human and Atevi are looking forward to enjoying the little luxuries found on their planet. They come back to a world that is in the middle of a civil war and onboard the Phoenix is the dowager and the heir. No one knows where the ruler and his wife are and many think they are dead. Bren and his staff, the dowager and her staff, and the heir shuttle down to the planet where they travel through enemy territory to find the heir's great uncle. They hope to enlist his aid in returning the former ruler on his heir to power, but a traitor alerts the rebels who plan to kidnap or kill them. Nobody is better than C.J. Cherryh when it comes to writing an in depth exploration of an alien society. Relations between humans and Atevi are in jeopardy many of the native race believes humanity has too much influence and technology that disturbs the conservative elements of their society. Bren blames himself for pushing the space program and other technological advances on the leader who trusts him and he is desperate to undo the damage he has done. DESTROYER is a wondrous work starring two sentient races struggling to co-exist peacefully.

The Serpent in the Garden
Janet Gleeson
Simon & Schuster
ISBN: 0743260058 $14.00, 352 pp.

In 1766, Herbert Bentnick, a widower of under a year, is betrothed to two time Barbados widow Sabine Mercier. Herbert commissions renowned portrait artist Joshua Pope to paint their wedding picture at his Astley estate. However, Sabine, a horticulturist working with her fiance's pineapple plants, finds a corpse in the hothouse. While the engaged couple and his family seem unconcerned that someone was murdered on their estate, a shocked Joshua takes it upon himself to investigate. He assumes the deceased is Barbados attorney John Cobb based on documents the dead man was carrying. Joshua also learns that Herbert's wife was still alive and with him when he met Sabine, but died shortly afterward. Finally, he realizes how knowledgeable Sabine is when it comes to plants. Joshua's sleuthing efforts prove fruitless and he now must prove he did not steal Sabine's valuable emerald necklace while the family points their accusing fingers at him. As with THE GRENADILLO BOX (different artisan detective - cabinetmaker Nathanial Hopson, but similar theme and era), THE SERPENT IN THE GARDEN is an intriguing Georgian who-done-it with the emphasis on the 1760s England. The story line is loaded with historical detail providing the audience a close look at the upper class mostly through the eyes of the moralistic artist. Joshua is a fine protagonist; however the two antagonists will fascinate readers. Is Herbert is a besotted fool or a clever killer and even more intriguing is Sabine as Joshua's circumstantial evidence implicates her as the culprit in at least two deaths.

Alice in Jeopardy
Ed McBain
Simon & Schuster
ISBN: 0743262506 $25.00, 292 pp.

Eight months have passed since stockbroker Eddie Glendenning drowned off of Cape October on the Florida Gulf Coast. His wife Alice struggles to raise their two preadolescent children as her income dwindles to almost nothing while the life insurance company "eternally" processes her claim. As her bank account is almost empty, Alice unsuccessfully tries to sell real estate. Just when she thinks she is one step from bottoming out, she finds the chasm underneath her feet goes much deeper than she ever imagined. Her two children have been abducted by two people demanding a $250,000 ransom of which she can emit payment in the low four digits unless they accept credit; if she talks to the police, the kidnappers warn of dire consequences. Before Alice can decide what to do Rosie the housekeeper calls the cops. Suddenly Alice feels that she fell through the rabbit hole, as law enforcement, family members, friends, strangers, and other ilk turn her home into a three ring circus. Whether it is a police procedural or a thriller, no one consistently does it better than Ed McBain does (almost feel sorry for the rest). His latest tale is terrific, hooking the audience from the start as Alice, already struggling for her and her children to survive while also mourning her loss, suddenly finds she falling through a rabbit hole. The story line is action-packed with a fabulous cast especially the heroine, but also humorous as everyone wants to assist (this reviewer kept thinking of Groucho Marx's ship cabin scene in A Night at the Opera. Bottom line is that Mr. McBain does it again with his latest triumph.

Rockville Pike
Susan Coll
Simon & Schuster
ISBN: 074324477X $23.00, 319 pp.

In the DC vicinity Jane Kramer worries that she is flunking at Life 101 as nothing she does brings her any degree of satisfaction let alone happiness. She has no one she is close to including her husband Leon. Because money is tight, she works at the family store, Kramer's Discount Furniture Store, along side of her husband and his Uncle Seymour. The school has suspended their teenage Goth son Justin. Finally she believes that Leon is having an affair with furniture saleswoman Delia. Jane refuses to eat lunch at the store; instead she seeks solace in a graveyard where F. Scott Fitzgerald and his wife are buried. Jane turns to the Fitzgerald novels and Memories Inc., a business run out of people's homes for some solace. When Justin flees to New York without informing his parents and Leon leaves on a business trip with Delia, Jane follows in their wake, but has her own escapades to contend with. This is a solid character study told in the first person by Jane, who questions why she lives. The story line is intriguing as Jane struggles with the realization that no one cares whether she lives or dies beyond costs of a burial. Though the ending seems to simple for the centerfold of inferiority complexes, readers will appreciate this strong look at a woman in trouble with no one she believes she can turn to while she goes deeper into crisis.

Digging James Dean
Robert Eversz
Simon & Schuster
ISBN: 074325015X $22.00, 288 pp.

Hollywood paparazzi Nina Zero works for the tabloid Scandal Times fittingly out of a former sewage works warehouse in the San Fernando Valley. Her boss Frank informs Nina that the two of them are flying to Chicago and from there driving to a cemetery in Fairmount, Indiana where someone stole the remains of Rebel Without a Cause actor James Dean. Frank tells Nina that her parole officer gave the okay for her and her Frank to go on the assignment. In Indiana, Nina and Frank wonder who would steal the bones of Dean and why. Could the culprits be kids on a lark, the Raelians who believe ET scientists planted humanity on earth and desire a cloning of Mr. Dean, or a the Church of the Divine Thespians, whom she "met" in Hollywood through a tip from a rough living sixteen year old recent Hoosier transplant. Anyway you look at it; Nina plans to rattle a bone or two even as the skeletons from her own past such as Mary Alice Baker (her family name) surface to shake her complacency. The latest Nina Zero Hollywood (and in this case Indiana) tale is a wild journalistic investigative tale that is all over the place, but ultimately returns to classic American economics of supply and demand (everything has a price and is for sale). A subplot involving Mary Alice's sister whom she has not seen in decades adds knowledge to what readers know about the ex-con. Though the ending may put some readers off the series (this reviewer thought it apropos), Robert Eversz third tale may be a Zero, but is also a five star look at Hollywood.

Die A Little
Megan Abbott
Simon & Schuster
ISBN 0743261704 $23.00, 241 pp.

Schoolteacher Lora King shares a home with her brother Bill, an investigator with the Los Angeles District Attorney's office. They are decent middle class hardworking people who are very close to each other until Alice Steele enters their lives. Bill is besotted with her and within a few months he marries her. Lora tries to like her but she feels that Alice is trying too hard to be the perfect housewife. Seeing inconsistencies in her behavior, Lora investigates Alice's background which leads to her to thinking her in-law is involved in something criminal. A friend Lois from Alice's former life acts trashy as she depends on Alice to bail her out when she gets into trouble. Alice befriends the wife of Bill's friend, who shortly thereafter commits suicide just prior to Lois being murdered. It is only when Bill is prepared to break the law to abet his wife does Lora act to put an end to Alice's influence with the help of a very connected criminal who bears no love for Alice. DIE A LITTLE is a dark urban 1950s Hollywood noir where even honest lawmen break the law if they can get away with it. Lora is a fascinating character who loves her brother too much to let him throw his life away on a criminal and is a bit jealous of the hold Alice has on her sibling. There are no heroes in this book, only people who do what is necessary to get their own way. Megan Abbott is a fine writer who uses the first person narrative as a way of increasing the tension and the gradual feeling of overwhelming foreboding.

Los Angeles
Peter Moore Smith
Little, Brown
ISBN: 0316803928 $24.95

In a run down part of West Hollywood thirty-four years old Angel Veronchek, son of a thriving producer, lives a near hermit-like existence. Part of it is caused by his being an albino, but much of his hiding is psychological. The recluse sees no one and does little inside his apartment except occasionally work on a screenplay "Los Angeles" while his DVD eternally plays Blade Runner. He survives existence predominantly by psychological drugs. A new neighbor visits Angel introducing herself as Angela to the loner. : She is his opposite as she is effervescent beautiful black person who plans to one day own Hollywood. Clearly opposites in appearance and outlook, Angela's energy and elan awaken Angel; he quickly falls in love for the first time in his lonely life. Surprisingly, Angela seems to share his deep feelings. Angel struggles with a foreign emotion, happiness until he receives the call. She whispers "Angel" and hangs up; disappearing from his life. Stunned and not ready to go out into the world, Angel investigates his Angela, not even sure she truly exists. LOS ANGELES is an excellent psychological suspense drama that explores the concept of what is reality mostly from the perspective of Angel. The story line is moving and depressing as the lead protagonist is not an easy person for readers to understand or empathize with; thus this is not a one sitting tale as the dark mutterings (terrific prose) of Angel is disheartening and difficult to accept. Yet this deep look at reality is a two edged sword that makes Peter Moore Smith's tale compelling albeit with a warning label that the "star" is as gloomy a protagonist as one will find.

The Ha-Ha
Dave King
Little, Brown
ISBN: 0316156108 $23.95

Three decades ago while on his first month of duty in Viet Nam, Howard Kapostash suffered a head injury that devastated his communication abilities. Though his intelligence remained average, he no longer could speak, nor write or read. His emotional quotient was already lagging before the trauma and over the subsequent thirty years since has not developed. Howard shares his childhood home with Vietnamese-American Laurel, who makes specialty soups for local restaurants; and Steve and Harrison two housepainters he calls to himself Nit and Nat. Taking advantage that Howard still has some feelings for her, Sylvia dumps her reticent nine-year-old child Ryan on Howard to take care of him while she is away though he has no experience with children. This dysfunctional commune soon comes together as the four adults responsibly and lovingly rally for the child. As the quartet learn about what life is all about, Sylvia will return soon and take away their catalyst, but will each one slip back to indifference and irresponsibility? Though what happens to the foursome when Ryan enters their lives seems too obvious and expected, readers will not care as Dave King provides a deep look at the importance of having a reason to live not jus exist. The story line is terrific as the four adults begin to mature and provide stability to the introverted child who changed their lives for the better. Fans will enjoy this fine character study as everyone begins to heal because now they have a cause.

In His Own Words
Nelson Mandela
Little, Brown
ISBN: 0316110191 $28.95, 600 pp.

This is a compilation of Nelson Mandela's speeches divided into twelve categories that run a diverse classification. The topics run the gamut of historical: "Struggle" "Freedom", "Reconciliation", "Nation Building" and "Development"; social: "Education", "Culture", "Religion", "Health" and "Children"; Cross sectional: "Heroes" and "Peace". The collection provides a one source to obtain the works of a key twentieth century person, but like any of these IN HIS OWN WORDS is repetitive and at times boring. Unless needed for a school assignment, this biographical oratory is best savored over several weeks as Mr. Mandela through his words show why he remains an inspirational influential individual whose speeches provide a deep insight into the man, the legend, and an era of transition.

Winter of Discontent
Jeanne M. Dams
ISBN: 0765308053 $24.95, 256 pp.

Expatriate American retired educator Dorothy Martin and her British husband former Chief Constable Alan Nesbit settle into a cozy daily routine in Sherebury in which they enjoying their retirements together. Dorothy goes shopping with her best friend Jane Langland. They decide to drop the parcels off at Town Hall where Jane's boyfriend museum curator Bill Fanshawe works, but he is not there. Jane panics because Bill seemingly vanished. More to calm Jane down a bit Dorothy and Alan agree to set aside their afternoon tea to search for Bill. They interview Bill's assistant Walter Tubbs and not long afterward Bill is found dead in the Roman tunnel beneath the museum. Dorothy and Alan investigate, but soon Walter is hospitalized as someone hit him over the head with an object. The case seems to evolve around a new exhibit that Alan was creating on Sherebury's role in WWII, but the prime suspect becomes the next victim. The two retirees struggle to solve the museum homicides. The look at the silver years is terrific as readers obtain a taste (with tea) of how two retirees spend their lives together in a small English village. The who-done-it is fun more in the line of an amateur sleuth than a police procedural as Dorothy leads the inquiries while a reluctant Alan does not have to follow official procedures (though he is careful not to contaminate crime scenes). Fans of the series will enjoy this teatime cozy that solves the homicides between sips.

The James Deans
Reed Farrel Coleman
ISBN: 0452286506 $12.00, 288 pp.

Former New York cop Moe Prager and his wife attend a wedding ceremony for his assistant Constance in the fancy Long Island estate of her father. During the gala, Constance's dad Mr. Geary asks Moe if he remembers former State Senator Steven Brightman, whose career died when he was linked to a dead intern, Moira Heaton. At the time of the incident two years ago, Moe was working a difficult case in the Catskills so he knows little about the Brightman incident. Mr. Geary hires Moe to uncover what happened so that Brightman's once bright career can rise from the ashes like a Phoenix. Though Moe owns wine shops in Brooklyn, he accepts the private investigation. Moe interviews broken down cop Pete Parson and next his father-in-law, a major political fund raiser. Quickly Moe uncovers the identity of the killer, but something does not seem right as the resolution was achieved too easily, too quickly, and too perfectly. Moe continues to make inquiries and soon uncovers a much better buried secret that makes someone want him silent. THE JAMES DEANS is an excellent private investigative tale starring a delightful inner city "broken down" former cop whose personal life has collapsed ever since his beloved wife miscarried a few months ago; she has failed to emotionally recover. The investigation is filled with clever twists and turns that seem right yet will stun the audience who will think they have resolved who killed Moira when another spin occurs. Reed Farrel Coleman has provided a fabulous tale starring a strong hero and a wonderful secondary cast that will send the audience seeking more Moe works like WALKING THE PERFECT SQUARE.

A Taste of Revenge
Patrice Michelle
Ellora's Cave
ISBN: 1419950037 $11.49, 209 pp.

When Drace the vampire slaughtered vampire hunter John Markson, the Enforcer half breed Ian Mordoor knows he must find the rogue and kill him before he can officially become Bruen clan chieftain. Already not well received by some of the purebreds, Ian must prove himself capable. While Ian follows Drace, John's daughter Jax pursues both the Enforcer and the murderous vampire who killed her father. She plans to avenge John's death by killing Drace. Ian awaits Jax catching up to him, but when she does he is stunned because she is his soulmate. Jax, on the other hand, can detect a vampire, but even though she feels there is something odd about Ian, she is unaware that he is a hybrid bloodsucker. As they argue fuss and fall in love, Jax insists she works alone although a night or two with the hunk is worth her while. Ian must persuade his beloved they belong together before she does something stupid like challenging a murdering vampire. Mindful of Anita Blake, but with its own spin, A TASTE FOR REVENGE is a fantastic vampire romantic suspense that grips readers from the first bite to the final confrontation. The exhilarating story line stars two fantastic lead protagonists; of special intrigue is the courageous heroine whose weaponry rivals Batman and her ability to drive her champion off his game will provide plenty of delight to the audience. However, the key to this tale is that the purebreds, half-breeds and several other breeds seem genuine so that fans of supernatural romantic thrillers will appreciate this fine stand alone novel and seek the first book, A TASTE OF PASSION.

The Shadow of Saganami
David Weber
ISBN: 0743488520 $26.00, 755 pp.

While war rages between the Star Kingdom of Manticore and the Republic of Haven in another sector, the Talbott Cluster has voted to join the former. As a show of diplomatic unity, flag-raising, and military strength, the heavy cruiser HMS Hexapuma journeys to this remote sector. Though Captain Terekov is a weary war hero, much of the crew remains untested as recent graduates from the Saganami Island Royal Naval Academy. However, the simple show of strength turns dangerous as an alliance has sprung up abetting local terrorists opposed to joining the Star Kingdom. Apparently a pact to destroy Manticore has been agreed to by the Manpower slaveholders, the genetic slavers of the kingdoms of Mesa and Monica, and the Solarian League bureaucracy. The crew of the Hexapuma is all that stands in the way of a rear attack on the Star Kingdom, but how will this untested crew stand up when brothers and sisters in arms start dying? THE SHADOW OF SAGANAMI may be military science fiction great David Weber's best tale in the Honorverse as he shows war from various perspectives mostly from five newcomers. The audience can taste the excitement and fear that death stalks anyone and everyone and no one is immune. The rookie warriors will learn honor comes from the long tradition of those who previously served and in some cases died doing their military duty irregardless of mission for their kingdom. Mr. Weber provides an action packed tale with a fully developed multiple cast that lives up to the values of today's American army (Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless-Service, Honor, Integrity and Personal Courage).

Very Bad Deaths
Spider Robinson
ISBN: 074348861X $18.00, 271 pp.

Fiftyish Canadian Russell Walker writes "The Fifth Horseman" opinion column twice a week for the Globe and Mail national newspaper, but recently has found no joy in his work or his personal life, which he admits has been very good. As Russell hides inside his remote home on Heron Island near Vancouver, he is depressed and thinking about committing suicide as he has ever since his beloved wife and companion for over three decades Susan recently died. Russell's college acquaintance Zandor "Smelly" Zudenigo arrives needing help. In 1967, Russell met Smelly, an Einstein clone, who could read minds. Zandor needs Russell, the only mind that the genius can tolerate for more than a nanosecond as reading minds devastates the gifted; this skill turned him into a hermit. A low flying plane over his deserted island enabled Zudie to read the brain of a serial killer planning his next murder. He needs Russell to serve as his intermediary with the cops. Russell is blown away by the police categorizing him as a nut; only police officer Hilda Mandic helps, but though they close in on the killer, he is ready to become their predator. This fantastic paranormal serial killer tale contains four key characters, who seem genuine whether they are depressed, can read and influence minds, have doubts but take a chance, or just sadistically brutal. Russell tells the tale so the audience gains greater insight into him than the others as he somewhat filters how the remaining trio appears. Joyfully, Spider Robinson not so subtly hints this team will return.

Assault and Pepper
Tamar Myers
ISBN: 0451213947 $19.95, 227 pp.

Magdalena Yoder looks forward to the Beechy Grove Mennonite Church annual chili supper cook-off but her anticipation turns to horror when her beloved Reverend Schrock dies after sampling one of the dishes. His widow is convinced that he was murdered and that someone put peanut butter, which everyone knows he was allergic to, in one of the dishes. Magdalena doesn't want to believe that someone hated the preacher enough to kill him but she agrees to investigate the case even if she doesn't like the widow. To her surprise, her brother in law Hernia's chief of police "Melvin the Mantis" tells her he's quit his job and he wants her to investigate the case because after testing products, it was found that peanut butter was in one of the chili dishes. After talking to various people she finds that the Reverend Schrock was not the saint she thought he was. His crimes include embezzlement, bigamy, spousal abuse, his refusal to perform a marriage ceremony and much more. When Magdalena gets close to unveiling the perpetrator, he kidnaps her friend and cook and wants to exchange her for one million dollars in getaway money. Readers are going to want to buy ASSAULT AND PEPPER just to find out who the killer is. Nobody will guess the person's identity and it will come as a total shock to fans who have read this charming and delightful cozy series. Tamar Myers has changed the entire direction of the series storyline keeping it fresh and original. This reviewer will definitely want to read the next book in the series to see what direction the author takes her heroine next.

Dress Rehearsal
Jennifer O'Connell
ISBN: 0451213998 $12.95, 256 pp.

Boston magazine declares that Lauren Gallagher, owner of Lauren's Luscious Licks, is the new face of wedding cakes. Lauren's bakery is a success especially helping brides and grooms select their big event cake. She also believes she knows which coupling will end in divorce based on how and what they select. When her fool-proof method shows that her friend is making a mistake marrying Steve, Lauren launches Operation Save Paige. When her former boyfriend Neil arrives with his fiancee Julie she is stunned because he picked Lauren's perfect wedding cake. She wonders if she made a mistake not traipsing to DC with Neil. However, she is even more confused because she is also attracted to a lawyer. This is a sweet tale with a delightful gimmick that does not contain enough flour for a feature length novel. Though predominantly a one layered cake, the story line is fun to follow as Lauren's antics will bewilder and amuse readers as they wonder will she let the cake test choose her life mate and if yes how will she get Julie out of the picture. Of course she also mounts a military campaign to rescue Paige; while her pastry chef walks out filling the rest of Lauren's time in the kitchen. DRESS REHEARSAL is fine chick lit tale that is more cupcake than seven layer victory cake in spite of a likable loon of a chef.

Asgard's Heart
Brian Stableford
Five Star
ISBN 1594142106 $25.95, 316 pp.

Asgard is a gigantic artificially-made world consisting of many different levels, each area containing habitats with its own ecosystems. The Scarid from the thirty levels invaded Skychain city but the alien Tetrax put an end to the war by infecting the humanoids with influenza. Mike Rousseau, who made contact with the Nine, a machine intelligence, fights to get his way to the center of Asgard. War between two different life forms continues and at the moment of contact with the Nine, Mike hears a desperate cry for help. Whoever connected with him also inserted something in his brain so when the time came, he would have a weapon that would even the odds. Rousseau, Susarma Lear of Star Force, a Tetrax and a manifestation of the Nine travel down the levels to the center fighting monsters that are materializations of the real enemy as they go. The enemy has shut the lights in Asgard; Rousseau must put them back on again otherwise all of Asgard will perish. While he is wrestling with this dilemma he must figure out how to use the weapon that his alien gave to him if he wants to defeat the enemy once and for all. This is the third and last book in the Asgard trilogy and it ties up all the loose ends and answers all the questions that weren't addressed in the previous two books. Rousseau doesn't wish to be a hero but fate places him in that role and he rises to the challenges. ASGARD'S HEART is non-stop action that would make a terrific movie featuring one of the bravest and original heroes to ever grace the pages of a science fiction novel.

Sworn Off Women
Dale Ketcham
Five Star
ISBN: 1594142998 $26.95, 235 pp.

Speculative fiction author Ethan Warnerowski is exhausted from his extended six week book tour under his pen name Frank Farrah. He tells his agent that he needs rest in an isolated locale with no women to bother him after frenzy female fans drove him crazy. He rents a home in Bayswater, Long Island where he plans to do nothing. On the golf course for the first time, Ethan meets Tara Brooks who flirts and teases outrageously with him. Later, he learns that Tara is his landlady sharing her family home with him, but acting very differently than the golf course woman who turned him on as she now acts professionally aloof. However her efforts to avoid him fail as she finds herself falling for his out of this world humor. As they fall in love, she knows he is soon returning to Manhattan while he wonders how she will react to learn he is not just a wannabe writer, but a noted author with a major fan following. This is an amusing contemporary romance starring two delightful protagonists who cannot help but fall in love with one another. The story line is at its best as Tara taunts Ethan who gives back in kind. Fans of lighthearted upbeat tale of love will swear that Dale Ketcham provides a top quality romantic romp.

Warriors Heart
Jackie Kramer
Five Star
ISBN: 1594142939 $26.95, 222 pp.

After spending five years in prison due to the machinations of his brother-in-law, a Suffolk County judge at the time, Jake Lone Wolf returns to Capston, Oklahoma to retrieve his daughter Audrey. His wife and his nemesis are dead, but the judge's spouse Vicki Culver has custody of his six years old child; the girl has her surname not his. Jake learns that Vicki runs an ostrich ranch in Capston. He obtains a job there, but gives his real name, which shockingly his boss does not recognize. As he works to save her ranch, Jake and Vicki fall in love, but though they realize the other is much different than the initial image their respective minds held, their shared past makes it unlikely any relationship can form although his daughter and her septuagenarian Australian partner encourage that to happen. WARRIORS HEART is an enjoyable contemporary ranch romance starring two people who have in common a love for a six year old and a hate for a dead man. The story line character driven as Jake waits for the executioner's ax once Vicki learns who he is. Vicki is a courageous female lead trying to make a life for herself and her adopted child. The Aussie Toby Marshall provides an interesting spin to what is happening between the lead couple at this station. Though deaths of spouses facilitates relationships to easily, readers will receive plenty of pleasure with love blossoming as Jake and Vicki try to hide in the dirt from their feelings.

Some Welcome Home
Sharon Wildwind
Five Star
ISBN: 1594142750 $25.95, 328 pp.

Nurse Corps Captain Elizabeth Pepperhawk has returned to the states after a tour of duty in Viet Nam. Her latest assignment is at Fort Bragg where she will head up a wing at Womack Army Hospital. However, her stay in guest quarters is SOME WELCOME HOME when she finds a corpse wearing a World War II uniform inside her room. She calls the MPs who inform the Criminal Investigation Division of a possible homicide. All military law enforcement is jittery as the MacDonald fiasco still lingers here at Bragg. MP Captain Avivah Rosen and CID Captain Delaney arrive with other military police. The case takes a surprise spin when the victim turns out to be Dermid Hagan, who officially died in Nam two years ago. As Avivah and Elizabeth become friends and neighbors along with a third compatriot Benny Kirkpatrick, each has a personal problem to cope with. Elizabeth begins digging into what happened finding a tenuous link to the hospital; this endangers her, her friends, and others from a trained killer who will murder to keep secrets hidden. This is a superb historical military police procedural that grips the audience from the moment Elizabeth finds a body in her room and never slows down until the final good-byes. Besides a strong murder mystery, the tale provides insight into the minds of career officers struggling at a time when the Viet Nam War has begun to look helpless with no exit strategy (sound familiar?). The key to the tale is three buddies and the support cast that sheds more light on three protagonists. They provide an insightful look 1971 military life inside a terrific who-done-it.

Death on Grave Street
Barbara Burgess
Five Star
ISBN: 1594142696 $25.95, 275 pp.

Unable to work homicide ever since his pregnant spouse Cindy was murdered in a drive-by killing, fortyish widower Tyrone Trotman retires from the Detroit Police Department to accept the job of police chief of Port Ottawa. He makes an offer on a historical home with the famous Last Tree located in the yard. Tyrone meets the owner, Jane Blane, the love child of the town's recently deceased leading citizen; to his shock he wants her and she reciprocates. They even discuss marriage as love at first sight strikes both of them. Meanwhile, Deputy police officer Billy Budd informs Tyrone he found a corpse in the cemetery that was not primed for burial; not long afterward a second murdered body shows up in the same locale. While the townsfolk insist it is the spirit of the Last Tree calling out to all the trees cut down in the last century, Tyrone seeks a more mortal culprit. This is an entertaining paranormal police procedural romance starring a wonderful protagonist who does not believe in the legends yet talks to the Last Tree and heeds otherworldly advice to save his beloved. The romantic subplot is fun as the lead duet knows they belong together and don't waste time or energy otherwise. The townsfolk and the Detroit witch augment a fun lighthearted bewitching who-done-it that will have the audience wondering if the tree spirits or a Lorax like human is speaking violently for the long gone forests by killing people.

Annette Meyers
Five Star
ISBN: 1410401995 $25.95, 328 pp.

She escapes the thugs chasing her with assistance from a blind man and is his seeing eye dog, but the Good Samaritan took a bullet for her. Later the cops find Jane Doe suffering from hypothermia in Central park and take her for treatment at Mount Sinai. She has no idea who she is, but a trustee on a tour of the hospital sees her. Louis Gold claims Jane is his niece Mary Lou Salinger. The name does not feel right and her "Uncle" Louis strikes fear in her heart so TJ, as she calls herself Temporary Jane, flees the hospital. At an all night diner, TJ meets Zoey Kanter. They help each other with TJ filling in at the counter when Zoey has a seizure; while afterward Zoey gives TJ a place to crash. Later Zoey takes TJ to meet her mime troupe, but the amnesiac victim wonders who she is because Mary Lou allegedly died in a plane crash. Who can she trust, and why do thugs want her silenced? This is a terrific woman in peril tale starring a bewildered protagonist who has no idea why people are chasing her, but knows that those who help her end up hurt or dead. The tale hooks the audience from the moment that TJ uses a bus to flee Jersey for Manhattan. Fans of tense dramas will not be HEDGING their bets to read the latest Smith and Wetzon tale as this is a suspenseful winner that will send readers like this reviewer looking for the previous six Manhattan mysteries.

Angels Whisper
Tony Perona
Five Star
ISBN: 1594142653 $25.95, 319 pp.

In Franklin, Indiana, former Indianapolis Standard investigative reporter Nick Bertetto is taking home his four and half year old daughter and five other kids from St. Rita preschool when he almost hits a homeless person wondering in front of his vehicle. He stops to help the unconscious male who mumbles something about missing state representative Calvin Cahill wearing red. The police arrive to take charge of the scene so Nick takes the children home. Nick visits the homeless person learning that his name is Elijah Smith who insists that he angels told him that Cahill wore red. Though his spouse would have cardiac arrest if he began making inquiries, Nick cannot stop himself from sleuthing. Joining his old peer at the newspaper Ryan Lockridge, Nick begins to uncover a strange scenario involving gambling and corpses, but the tie back to Cahill remains nebulous. Now Nick and his family are targets of someone who wants him to stop his investigation. The second tale (see SECOND ADVENT) starring stay at home dad Nick Bertetto is an enjoyable journalistic investigative story. The mystery of Cahill is cleverly shrouded so that the audience wonders if Elijah is either crazy or truly hearing angels. Nick is a fantastic protagonist, but the key to the novel is the strong support cast especially his wife still mentally unstable from being abducted during his Indianapolis days, the "mystical" Elijah, and Ryan. Tony Perona provides a fine contemporary mystery starring a solid lead who hides his inquiries from his wife to protect her fragile mind.

Lost In Translation
Edward Willet
Five Star
ISBN: 1594143056 $25.95, 317 pp.

The S'sinn, a bat like sentient creature, colonized K'ikks'sarr; shortly thereafter humans established colonies on the planet. From the first contact, the two species were antagonistic towards one another. When the humans killed several S'sinn, war broke out with the S'sinn vowing to take it to any orb that contained the dreaded humans. Mankind retaliated leading to a belligerent stalemate until the multi-species Commonwealth declared the end of all hostilities with humans and S'sinn remaining on K'akks'sarr within separate boundaries. The human Kathryn and the S'sinn Jarrikk lost much that they held dear during the war; Kathryn's parents died while Jarrikk's training group perished along with his ability to fly. Both are empaths and become Translators in the Commonwealth. Another planet is claimed by both species so the Commonwealth sends the two translators to negotiate a peace that neither side wants. To avert renewed hostilities, both translators will have to break respective oaths. Betrayed on all sides, Jarrikk and Kathryn turn to one another forging a new telepathic weapon that hopefully will prove strong enough to stop the bloodshed. LOST IN TRANSLATION delves into the society and mores of the S'sinn that explains why they seem to behave in a feral manner towards humans. This in depth look at an alien culture makes for fascinating reading. The bond between the two cross translators enables them to understand the other side's perspective. The military science fiction audience will believe that Edward Willet is a Translator with first hand experience working with the sentient S'sinn and want future Translations.

A Love Woven True
Tracie Peterson & Judith Miller
ISBN: 0764228951 $12.99, 352 pp.

In 1849 Lowell, Massachusetts, widowed Jasmine Houston and her two years old son Spencer are making new friends to include a closer relationship with her brother-in-law Nolan, an antislavery author. Jasmine has also finally committed herself to work against slavery by becoming a conductor on the Underground Railroad. She has regained her equilibrium and balance lost during her marriage to the late Bradley. Her father requests she come home to the Willows in Mississippi because her mother and her Mammy are deathly ill and want to see her. Nolan accompanies his sister-in-law and nephew on the trek south. At the Willows, Mammy obtains a deathbed vow from Jasmine to free her son, which she does before returning to Lowell. However, ethical deeds do not prevent bad things happening to good people as her son is abducted perhaps for her allowing escaped slaves to hide on her farm; feeling like Job without his faith, Jasmine questions all she believes in. Book two of the Lights of Lowell series (see A TAPESTRY OF HOPE) is a terrific historical tale that brings to life a bygone era when people had to choose sides. Jasmine is a fabulous protagonist raised on a southern plantation by parents who owned slaves, and had one Mammy raise her. Interestingly, the thriving mill city of Lowell in Northern Massachusetts is divided over slavery as the town depends on cotton from the south to keep the textile mills running and competitive with England. A LOVE WOVEN TRUE is a deep look at mid-nineteenth century America at least in two fronts as states, communities and families are divided over slavery.

Love's Bewitching Thief
Angela Verdenus
Wings Epress
ISBN: 1590887573 $TBA 324 pp.

The Argon Marten bought the brooch for his mother's birthday, but stopped at a tavern to initially meet the seller of the jewelry. A dancer put on quite a show and somehow stole the brooch from Marten and vanished immediately afterward. More irate that she fooled him and that he has nothing for his mother, he tells the laughing at him Daameon Traders he wants the bewitching thief caught. Lysie, a feline Felys, ran away from home and her duty of breeding the next generation of her endangered species. She sneaks onto a parked spaceship to hide from a deadly cyborg who wants her dead. However, her luck of thieving enabling her to live a little better ends when the ship is captained by Marten, who is stunned to see her. As they travel together, Marten finds he is falling in love; Lysie reciprocates, but assumes his feelings are lust as she is going into heat. However, she might believe him when he risks all including his life to keep her safe from the killing cyborg that wants her dead. This reviewer is already a big fan of Angela Verdenus for her terrific outer space romantic thrillers (see LOVE'S SWEET ASSASSIN and SOUL OF A HUNTER, etc.), but LOVE'S BEWITCHING THIEF is her best futuristic to date. The action-packed story line never slows down yet insures that the audience believes in other worlds and other species especially the Daameons and the Felys. The lead duet is a fine pairing with each containing different personalities, motivations, and needs yet sharing love.

A Form of Godliness
Shane Johnson
Waterbrook Press
ISBN: 1578565499 $13.99, 402 pp.

In this post 9/11 world, Americans have lost their direction as if the terrorist attacks were God's fault instead of man's free will. Companies like Life Quality take advantage of the deep doubts about God by legally harvesting organs from handicap babies deemed unnecessary to battle crippling diseases, but the cost in saving a life is another life. Opposing Life Quality is Sacred Child whose mission is the sacredness of life. On top of a world lacking spiritual harmony, the Russians begin an oil embargo that causes havoc in the United States and the terrorists hit New York again. While the world heads towards the end of days with Arab states invading Israel, public relations specialist Karen Foley works for Sacred Child and loves Secret Service Agent Bryson Lowe, assigned to President Matthew Berger. However, Bryson has doubts about God although he admires the devout beliefs of his beloved girlfriend and his employer. Bryson, Karen and Matthew seek a means for America to survive the Mideast mess and its own ungodliness. A FORM OF GODLINESS is exciting and well written, but one sided on all issues whether they are religious or not (support for Alaska oil drilling for instance). The story line grips the audience with its description of a Sodom and Gomorrah United States and a globe in its final Revelations countdown. Though exhilarating anyone to the left of the Neocons (no room for Schwarzenegger in this tent so they need to switch amendments to a third term) or of Muslim descent will take exception to the religious and cultural stereotyping. Still the apocalyptic biblical crowd will appreciate Shane Johnson's tense inspirational thriller dedicated to Bush seemingly like a modern day Moses.

Suspicion of Rage
Barbara Parker
ISBN 0525948058 $24.95, 352 pp.

After a quickie marriage, Miami lawyers Gail Connor and Anthony Quintana plan to travel to Havana via Mexico so she can meet the Cuban branch of her new husband's family. They plan to stay at his sister Marta's house; she is married to General Ramirez Vega, a rising star in Castro's government. Anthony is also friends with political dissidents so he tries not to talk politics while he is there. This trip proves impossible because before he leaves a government investigator wants Anthony to persuade his brother-in-law to defect; they want him to verify what Major Omar Cespedes Ruzi, a Cuban defector, told them when he arrived in the United States. Gail and Anthony find that General Garcia, Romero's boss, wants Anthony to find out what Cespedes told government officials and he won't let them return home until he gets some answers. While these events are transpiring, dissidents in an underground cell plans to assassinate General Vega and one of these rebels has a very special relationship to Anthony. Unlike the previous books in this series, this novel takes place on Cuban soil and readers see how life is like for those who support the government and those who oppose it. Much against his will, Anthony is forced into the role of spy in order to keep America from invading Cuba. There is plenty of action in this romantic thriller but the heart of the story lies in Anthony's love for a Cuba that he was forced to leave when he was thirteen years old .SUSPICION OF RAGE is a fantastic thriller that will grab and keep reader interest.

The Secret History of the Pink Carnation
Lauren Willig
ISBN: 0525948600 $19.95, 400 pp.

Harvard graduate student Eloise Kelly is writing her thesis on the early nineteenth century dashingly romantic English spies the Scarlet Pimpernel, the Purple Gentian, and especially the Pink Carnation. The first two were unmasked by Napoleon's agents as Sir Percy Blakeney and Lord Richard Selwick, but the identity of the Pink Carnation never was revealed. Eloise receives a grant to research her dissertation in England, so she ends her relationship with her boyfriend made easier when she caught him in the cloakroom with an art historian major. Eloise believes that the Pink Carnation is somehow related to the Selwick family of the Purple Gentian fame. She visits Mrs. Arabella Selwick-Alderly at Selwick Hall, who provides her with access to a large trunk filled with family letters from the Napoleonic era. Arabella suggests that Eloise start with the intriguing account of Amy Balcourt on a trip to Paris in 1803 where she meets Richard Selwick. As Amy and Richard play spy counter spy they share in common efforts to keep Napoleon from invading England and a growing attraction. Meanwhile in the present, Eloise plays historical spy counterspy with Colin Selwick, but where this romance will go only time will tell. This treat of a tale occurs in two time periods with the brunt of the story line happening in the early nineteenth century. Readers will enjoy the Regency era gender battle between two fine protagonists yet also appreciate that this is being fed to the audience via present day characters in a chick lit setting. Though how easily she attains the letters seem odd as no outsider had access before, the dual themes merge into a finely blended fabulous romance.

Boris Starling
ISBN: 0525947701 $25.95, 480 pp.

In 1991 Moscow, Russia struggles with the transition from Communism to Democracy as economic reform means increasingly difficult hardships in the short run and an increase in influence by the already powerful Mafia. Children are murdered and kidnappings are a way of life while food shortages have become dangerously normal. Chaos is the order in Russia. International Monetary Fund advisor Alice Liddell is in Moscow to privatize the Red October Distillery, makers of vodka. Alice naively thought a lack of time and selling the concept of privatization were the problems she would face. However, Alice soon learns that vodka flows in every Russian's blood and control of its production symbolic, which means the Russian mafia, is involved. Alice is tugged in two directions both involving the Red October Director and parliamentary deputy Lev, who some insist is the biggest crook in Moscow. As Alice fights her attraction to her boardroom opponent, she finds Red October corrupt and run by the Mafia. Lev also battles with his attraction to the visiting American while he wars with his Chechen archenemy. This exciting thriller provides an insightful look at Russia during the aftermath of the fall of Communism. Alice is a terrific character who wonders how ruthless and crooked Lev is though she desires him. Lev is an intriguing protagonist, perhaps antagonist, who puts a human face to the power struggle. Though the stormy Chechen subplot is very exciting and adds insight to the overall tale, it seems as if it belongs in its own novel as so much is going on in Moscow. Distilled, the star character remains vodka that links all Russians.

Stay With Me
Beverly Long
ISBN: 0425200620 $6.50

She suffers from battle fatigue syndrome though she is not a soldier and has not fought in any war. Instead social worker Sarah Jane Tremont is weary of all that goes wrong as she works cases on the Salt Flats area of Los Angeles. Her last assignment puts her over the edge so she quits. While walking on the beach seeking solace, a storm hits. When the air clears, Sarah Jane is no longer in present day Southern California; instead somehow she finds herself in 1888 Wyoming Territory where she treks to the nearest farm. John Beckett accuses her of being the meanest witch on the planet and not welcome in his home though he takes her in. Bewildered, Sarah Jane learns that she looks just like John's sister-in-law, whose husband, his brother, is dead. As Sarah Jane proves that she is a nurturing good soul, she and John fall in love, but will he believe her transportation tale or assume she is still the queen of mean wearing a sheep's disguise? Though directly out of the time traveler mould, fans of the sub-genre will enjoy STAY WITH ME due to the genial lead protagonists, whose relationship is so anathema at first that readers will wonder if a romance will occur. Sarah Jane is a caring person who believes she was sent back for the purpose of providing love to the lonely farmer. The metamorphosis of John is what makes the tale as she changes from detesting her to doubting her to loving her. Beverly Long provides a fine romance.

I Spy
Jacey Ford
ISBN: 0425201120 $6.99

Joe McConnell CEO, of McConnell Aerospace, believes that a member of his executive board is selling secrets not just as an espionage spy to a rival company but to a foreign government. He hires former FBI agent Aimee Devlin of Partners in Crime to ferret out the culprit amongst his inner eight. Pretending to be an executive assistant, Aimee soon hones in on the newest member of the inner sanctum, CFO Race Gardner, who acts suspiciously. At the same time that Aimee focuses in on Race, he pays extra attention to her as an undercover CIA agent trying to figure out who is selling secrets to the enemy. Aimee acts the most suspiciously. Quickly both realize the other is an operative and soon they combine their resources to uncover the traitor even as they fall in love. As with DANGEROUS CURVES, the first Partners in Crime tale, I SPY is a delightful investigate romance starring two likeable protagonists. Aimee's reason for leaving the Feds is simply that her real hourly rate was below the minimum wage, something that Race can commiserate with. The who-done-it is cleverly handled so that the audience will wonder until the final altercation as prime suspects keep changing with new evidence surfacing. Jacey Ford writes a fabulous suspense laden thriller that will keep readers interested form start to finish.

Nothing More to Lose
Kathryn Shay
ISBN: 0425201112 $6.99, 368 pp.

Firefighter Ian Woodward was a first responder to the Twin Towers tragedy. While many of his brothers and sisters died on 9/11, he lived but lost the use of his legs and had to learn activities for daily living. Two years later, the wheelchair bound Ian visited his sister in Hidden Cove, New York; he met and formed a friendship with actress Lisel Loring, but when she wanted to take it to a more loving level he withdrew feeling inadequate to be her lover. A year after fleeing from Lisel, Ian wonders what he has to live for although he enjoys teaching at Hidden Cove Academy. Lisel returns to Hidden Cove, but an out of control fan stalks her. She has hired disgraced former police officer Rick Ruscio to protect her. Rick is doing community services at a preschool as part of his conviction. There he meets teacher Faith McPherson, whose lust for life consumes him although he feels inadequate to be worthy of her love. As the danger from the stalker mounts these stubborn dumb males do not yet comprehend the strength of the females who love them. The Hidden Cove tales continue to provide superb romantic suspense thrillers while paying homage to firefighters. The current tale is terrific as Kathryn Shay employs multiple story lines tied together by Lisle and favorites from previous books return. Readers will cry for Ian, yet Ms. Shay does not paint a tearjerker or provoke pity tears for him. NOTHING MORE TO LOSE is a strong entry in one of the best running collections on the market today.

Night of Sin
Julia Ross
ISBN: 0425200132 $13.00, 402 pp.

Jonathan Devoran St. George stayed away from his family and England while traveling the Far East. He planned to never return home preferring the estrangement to remain forever. However, he has no choice, but to return to England in search of a stolen valuable fossil. He follows the thief, but before he can confront the felon, someone murders the man; the killer escapes. The fossil is not on the deceased, but on innocent Anne Marsh, who was in the wrong place at wrong time. Jonathan flees with Anne, engaged daughter of a rector, who is now the target of murderers. As he tries to keep her safe, they stop at an isolated cottage for the night where Anne, out of character for her, seduces her protector into making love with her. To his amazement Jonathan feels like he has entered heaven and hell as he loves his dependent, but believes they cannot have a future together. This Regency romantic suspense is a terrific character study as the audience obtains a very close look at what drives Jonathan, a very introspective hero. Though the lead male's motivations are key elements, the driving force behind the story line remains the cat and mouse chase. Fans will appreciate gutsy Anne even if their NIGHT OF SIN while on the lam seems out of character for her and at the wrong time. Sub-genre fans will appreciate Julia Ross' in depth look at a troubled hero.

Crimson Moon
Rebecca York
ISBN: 0425199959 $6.99, 348 pp.

In Baltimore werewolf Johnny Marshall drinks in a seedy bar when he gets into a brawl with bikers. He wakes up in the hospital with only pain reminding him he still lives. However, he overhears several bikers discuss framing him for killing one of them though he is innocent. Instead of waiting around he flees westward changing his name to Sam Morgan and vowing to do good deeds. Sam becomes an eco-thief causing problems for environmental abusers. His current target is lumber baron Wilson Woodlock who is devastating Washington State. At a party Wilson hosts that Sam crashes, he meets his target's daughter Olivia who somehow can sense his presence even when he uses his werewolf powers to hide. When Sam goes to commit an act against Wilson, Olivia and her brother Colin catch him. They hire him to find a stolen artifact that if not returned to their family means death for the Wilsons. As Sam begins his assignment, he knows Olivia is his soulmate, but to persuade her of that will prove difficult once he reveals his true roots. This is an enjoyable werewolf romance starring two likable protagonists though Johnny's conversion from bad dude to heroic eco-avenger seems too quick and easy. Still the story line is loaded with action, suspense and an especially enjoyable romance as Sam has to find a way to convince Olivia they belong together after he reveals his animal nature. Sub-genre readers will appreciate this fine paranormal tale and hope for a sequel starring an interesting secondary protagonist.

True Crime
Alan Gold
ISBN: 0425201155 $5.99, 304 pp.

Once he was an investigative reporter and minor league ballplayer but Lou Tedesco started on a downward spiral when he began a dependency on alcohol to keep him functioning. Now he is a sober movie and food critic for Portland, Oregon's Stumptown Weekly. His current assignment is to cover the opening of the Bijou, a renovated movie theater in Seagirt that will show the classics. When he arrives in the small town, he finds no vacant motel rooms as the media occupies everything while covering the double homicide of locals Shelley Korta and Larry Narz. The couple was executed on the nearby beach where he was proposing to her. Lou meets Shelley's mother at the spot where the murders occurred; he promises her he will not allow this to become a cold case due to official incompetence. He makes inquiries that lead to a beating, death threats, and a poorly designed frame that coaxes Lou to work even harder to unmask the villain. Alan Gold has written an exciting crime thriller focusing on a town determined to keep its skeletons buried vs. an as obstinate reporter determined to uncover the truth. The hero accepts help from any source including the Office of the DA, a psychic, and the editor of the local paper (who he also romantically likes). Lou's persistence is the only hope that the culprit behind the tragedy will be caught. If TRUE CRIME is an indication, Mr. Gold has a long time running series to please readers.

Charlotte Boyett-Compo
Amber Quill
ISBN: 1592799590 $17.50

In Liza's home Oceania, Conar is unable to control his temper so his father-in-law incarcerates him. Unbeknownst to the royals, Conar's guard has drugged him. A recurring nightmare chills Conar because he would rather die than see his beloved Princess sleep with his half-brother and in those same dreams his former mentor/tormentor Kaileel Tohre vows to separate the lovers forever. Eventually, he and Liza decide to return to his father's kingdom over the objection of his mother-in-law who fears for her daughter's safety. Liza believes they are destiny's children with her being the Keeper and him the Prince of the Wind. However, Tohre is stronger and his thirst for vengeance over Conar's rejection deeper. He plans to give Liza to Conar's half brother, destroy Conar so he begs to return, and devastate the land by making Conar's twin Galen the monarch. The Brothers of the Dominion that he leads appear on the verge of achieving these goals the disinherited Conar lies seemingly dead in the Labyrinth, Galen has a now pregnant Liza at his side on the throne, and Tohre rules the kingdom. The third Windlegend tale is fantastic as time moves on with the death of Conar's father and Liza now with King Galen. The story line is action-packed leaving readers breathless at the pace of the major subplots. As with the fine first two novels, the tale is owned by a terrific cast of good vs. evil with the bad guys having the upper hand. Excellent fantasy that is best read by starting with the previous tales as this novel builds up the excitement and tension from them; how much higher can as Charlotte Boyett-Compo take her audience with the remaining six stories?

Murder in Alphabet City
Lee Harris
ISBN: 0449007359 $6.99, 304 pp.

After taking some time off to recover from her encounter with a serial killer, New York Police Department Detective First Grade Jane Bauer returns to duty in time to work a cold case with her two partners. Power broker Flavia Constantine wants the police to reopen the case of her brother Anderson Stratton who supposedly committed suicide eight years ago. She demands the police prove it was murder and find the perpetrator. After doing multiple interviews, Jane discovers a link between Stratton, his social worker Erica Renzler and building superintendent Larry Vale. Jane assumes that Erica visited Stratton as an excuse to talk to Vale. Eight years ago Erica also supposedly committed suicide after she quit her job at social services; Jane thinks the two deaths are linked. When she finds Erica's secret postal box with hidden records hinting that she was involved in something illegal, both cases are officially reopened as murder investigations. Someone doesn't want the police investigating and someone named Bill Fletcher takes off with the daughter of Jane's partner. When that doesn't cause the detective to back off, someone tries to kill Jane. This is a very dynamic and exciting police procedural. The author gives the audience a step-by-step insight into an ongoing investigation so that readers see how a case is solved. Jane is a remote individual so it is hard to warn up to her but nobody can doubt her dedication to solving the case especially after her two partners are deeply affected by one of the perpetrators. Lee Harris can always be counted on to give her fans an exciting mystery although her Manhattan mysteries are darker and grittier than the Christine Bennet tales.

Lisa Gardner
ISBN: 0553802534 $24.00, 346 pp.

In Boston, Massachusetts State Police Special Tactics and Operations Team (STOP) Trooper Bobby Dodge, a sniper, arrives at a domestic dispute in which Jimmy Gagnon holds a gun on his wife Catherine and their young son. Bobby joins the local enforcement team. He observes the scenario from a distance, but when he believes that Jimmy was about to pull the trigger, Bobby fires and kills the man. Jimmy's father Judge James Gagnon insists that Bobby used unnecessary force as he avows that Cat was the dangerous member of the family. James files a criminal complaint against Bobby. Needing to clear his name, Bobby knows Cat is the only one who can truly help him; however, he has doubts about her integrity especially when she seems so good at manipulating people. As the trooper struggles to prove he did the right thing against a powerful avenging father, others associated with this deadly domestic case are killed. Bobby wonders if he is on the hit list while also unable to see the motive. Bobby is a superb protagonist wondering how his world could collapse when he was only doing his job. His investigation is a delight and the comparison of perspectives between James senior and Cat will fascinate the audience. Especially enthralling is Cat, whose childhood traumas run deep inside her soul. Lisa Gardner provides a strong psychological suspense police procedural that grips readers from the domestic dispute beginning until the mesmerizing surprising climax.

Dancing Naked at the Edge of Dawn
Kris Radish
ISBN: 0553382632 $11.00, 329 pp.

Perhaps it was caused by almost three decades of a lethargic marriage raising two great adult children that turned Meg Fratano into a watcher, but when the forty-eight year old suburbanite sees her spouse Bob naked with a bimbo, she just wanted to observe. She reflects that she should have wanted to kill them or at least confront them. Instead she finds it curious that Bob is on the bottom and the act seems a lot more intense than their two minute warning that infrequently occurs. Meg ponders why voyeurism felt pretty good and concludes that she has lived the last quarter of a century plus living her family's dreams, not hers. She begins a trek to first find her desires; she meets wise women on her journey to self awareness including her deceased Aunt Marcia, who left her a Mexican hideaway. Will Meg ever find her solace perhaps in Mexico, in the arms of a man besides cheating Bob or perhaps a foundation benefiting women? Meg is an interesting protagonist struggling with a mid life crisis in which Bob's infidelity serves as the catalyst that wakes up "Sleeping Beauty". As she makes her romp through a world of fully developed females guides, Meg still needs to find where she fits. In spite of the importance of Bob causing the eye opening incident, he is never developed beyond seemingly a reasonably nice person who cheated, but the real motive for his wandering is never fully expanded upon so instead the audience sees a cut out male. Still DANCING NAKED AT THE EDGE OF DAWN is a fine look at middle age reflections on one's life.

A Cold Treachery
Charles Todd
ISBN: 0553803492 $25.00, 384 pp.

In December 1919 in wintry Urksdale, England someone murders five members of the Elcott family, three of them children, in their home. Paul Elcott discovers the grisly remains of his kin, but in his horror he fails to realize that ten year old Josh escaped the brutality. Inspector Greeley assumes the lad is dead as Dr. Jarvis stated that the killings occurred two days ago. Unable to overcome his bias that no local committed the mass murders, Greeley requests help from Scotland Yard's Chief Constable. While a blizzard hampers travel, the Chief Constable sends Word War I veteran Inspector Ian Rutledge to investigate the vicious killings. Ian keeps his thin grip on sanity through his police work as he feels remorse about Corporal Hamish who he ordered executed for insubordination. As the locals including Greeley and Jarvis insist it is a lunatic outsider, Rutledge looks for clues to find the whereabouts of Josh, not just for altruistic reasons. The murder scene implies deadly passion from someone the family members knew intimately; hence the ten year old is Ian's prime suspect; others from the village with fervent motives surface. In his seventh appearance, battle fatigue syndrome victim Rutledge seems as if he is getting mentally even more unstable than in his previous tales. Still as his grasp on reality lessens, his inspection skills remain strong. The who-done-it is solid, but it is the powerful historical look at the austere lifestyle of a northern England farm family just after the war that keeps the series fresh and at the top rung of the sub-genre.

Cat's Eyewitness
Rita Mae Brown & Sneaky Pie Brown
ISBN 0553801643 $25.00, 287 pp.

In a small hamlet in Virginia, animals talk to each other across species lines and the only ones unable to understand is the dumbest species: humans. Mary Minor "Harry" Haristeen loves her two cats Mrs. Murphy and Pewter and her corgi Tee Tucker; they reciprocate her feelings, going so far as to help her when she becomes too deeply involved in a murder investigation and puts her life in danger. The Greyfiars Monastery's has a Virgin Mary statue on their property that starts weeping bloody tears. Many people including some of the monks think it is a miracle. Monk Thomas is found frozen to death in a kneeling position besides the statue. Harry's intuition screams murder and her four legged protectors know a cardinal witnessed the homicide. The journalist covering this phenomenon is killed when someone sticks a pen in his eye. Harry thinks the killings and the tears are linked; she investigates but it is only because of her animal friends that she doesn't become the third murder victim. It is always a pleasure to read a book starring Harry and Mrs. Murphy but the CAT'S EYEWITNESS is particularly good as several changes in Harry's life has occurred. The heroine's ex-husband gives Harry a marriage proposal ultimatum or he will look elsewhere for love. Harry no longer works in the post office because she cannot bring her animals into the new facility. Susan, Harry's best friend, reveals a secret she kept for over two decades, and the sexpot Boom Boom finds a surprising new lover. Readers will find it impossible to figure out who the perpetrator is among the even tempered monks. Rita Mae Brown delights her fans with this fantastic feline mystery.

A Grand Deception
Elizabeth Mansfield
ISBN: 0451213831 $5.99

Lady Horatia Verney is having cardiac arrest because her unmarried daughter Georgianna is a bluestocking. Besides fretting that her oldest daughter is heading towards the shelf if she is not already there, Horatia needs Georgianna married to a wealthy man because the family lacks the funding to keep up their appearances. Her other daughter Alison is only fourteen so is not a variable alternative at this time. To avoid the matchmaking antics of her mother who has chosen Anthony Maitland for her, Georgianna flees from her home. Horatia sends her son Jeremy to find Georgianna, but he fails on his quest. Instead he meets the abused by a nasty father, Peggy, who could be Georgianna's twin sister. Feeling a need to protect Peggy from her odious father, Jeremy brings her home where Horatia concoct a diabolical plan. Horatia decides that Peggy will serve as a fine replacement until her daughter returns to her senses and comes home, but did not count on Jeremy falling in love with the substitute. This is a reprint of a delightful Regency romance. The cast is the key to the fine plot as the lead couple and the secondary characters are a likable group albeit with differing objectives. Sub-genre fans will take immense delight as Elizabeth Mansfield's tale remains a grand historical.

Silent Witness
Rebecca Forster
ISBN: 0451214242 $6.99, 384 pp.

Defense attorney Josie Baylor-Bates has taken troubled teen Hannah into her home after the girl's mother was found guilty of murder. While the two females adjust, Josie's lover, retired detective and practicing private investigator Archer is arrested for killing his mentally challenged stepson Tim two years ago in the Pacific Park amusement park while they and his dying wife rode the Shock and Pop together. A video shows Archer making what could be a threatening move towards Tim. Ironically, Tim's biological father bailed Archer out of prison because he needs the truth to support his civil suit against Pacific Park. Evidence at the preliminary hearing binds Arch for trial; Josie needs a miracle to prove her lover is innocent of first degree murder. Rebecca Forster's latest legal procedural is a thrilling courtroom and investigative drama in which Josie has doubts that she should represent her lover as she is too personally involved, but refuses to trust anyone else with his life. She also learns more than she ever wants to know about Archer in the course of her efforts to defend him. The investigative scenes are fascinating as Josie gathers evidence from witnesses that she uses at the trial to make the case that Archer had no motive to kill the child of the woman he loved. SILENT WITNESS is totally enthralling.

Cheryl Sawyer
ISBN: 0451213777 $6.99, 528 pp.

In 1812 in Haiti, Jean Lafitte questions one of his ship captains, Curtis of the Raleigh, about what he learned from meeting three days ago in Port-au-Prince with Roncival's daughter. Curtis says that "the whore of San Stefan" is recruiting crewmembers. Concerned that the daughter of his deceased rival is hiring sailors after a year of no Roncival at sea, Jean leads his fleet to San Stefan. There he abducts Leonore Roncival to insure she poses no threat to his activities. The infamous pirate quickly learns she is defiantly not a chip off the old block as he finds he desires her with every inch of his heart. With the Napoleonic Wars in Europe about to overwhelm the Western Hemisphere especially the United States and the Caribbean, Jean and Leonore choose sides, but will they be together when the hostilities erupt? This is a terrific historical romance that gives strong focus to early nineteenth century events, almost as much as the love subplot between two strong characters. Jean Lafitte as usual is a fascinating protagonist though it is difficult to separate the romanticized fiction from the reality. Leonore is his perfect counterpoint, but this reviewer could not find information to verify if she was his real soulmate. However, no one except historical fiction purists will care beyond curiosity as she makes his perfect counterpoint in Cheryl Sawyer's sweeping epic tale. SIRENS is a novel that wonderfully brings to life a bygone era in international relations when communications were too slow to stop the Battle of New Orleans even though the peace treaty was already signed.

Murder Can Mess up Your Mascara
Selma Eichler
ISBN: 0451214307 $6.50, 272 pp.

Sarcastic Blossom Goody informs Manhattan private investigator Desiree Shapiro that her cousin Gordie wants to hire her because he believes someone is trying to kill him, but lacks evidence to go to the police. Desiree argues with The Mouth at first, but knows no one human can win a debate with Blossom nor avoid wilting from the acerbic verbal assault. Not long after the call, Gordon Curry explains to Desiree that he and his wife Rhonda went on their annual fall vacation in the Pocono Mountains. With a warm Indian summer, he was swimming in the lake when a motorboat tried to run him over. Not long after that in the same area, someone fired a shot that just missed Gordie while he was hunting. He wants Desiree to insure no more attempts on his life and provides her with the name of the only person he believes might want him dead, former employee Roger Clyne. As Desiree searches for the vanished Roger, someone kills Gordie as he leaves his monthly poker game. Blossom tells Desiree to find the killer. Plus-sized Desiree Shapiro stars in a fine Manhattan cozy that fans of the series will enjoy in spite of the heroine being her usual unconfident self except over pizza at Little Angie's in her twelfth appearance. The Mouth adds depth and humor as no one peels skin off a person than the abusive queen of derision Mrs. Goody (an apropos ironic surname). Shapiro supporters will appreciate the case switching from keeping the client alive to finding his killer, not easy when the only suspect died a couple of months ago.

Hard Days Knight
Katie MacAlister
ISBN: 0451213866 $6.99, 368 pp.

At the Ontario Renaissance Faire, Seattle visitor unemployed software specialist Pepper March attends as an English wench because her cousin CJ persuaded her that she would find chivalrous medieval hunks as she always dreamed of a knight in shining armor. When the cat she is watching gets loose, Pepper follows, but almost is run over by a horse. The actions of English knight Walker MacPhail saves her from a stomping. However, her hero is not very chivalrous afterward as he rips her for being an idiot. Later, she learns from her cousin that Walker is a member of the jousting team Three Dog Knight that includes CJ's beau. As Walker and Pepper become acquainted, they begin to fall in love. However, he fears any lasting relationships as much as he struggles to reenter the jousting ring that he once owned. This is a delightful somewhat reverse anachronistic tale that cleverly uses a Renaissance festival to furbish a medieval context in a modern day Canadian setting. The story line works because of the strong cast. The heroine wants a caring knight for her to nurture while her choice has issues to deal with. The secondary players provide the background that will lead the audience to believe they are attending the gala. The final joust between the lead couple is a brilliant ending to a fine contemporary.

Big Girls Don't Cry
Donna Hill, Brenda Jackson, Monica Jackson, and Francis Ray
ISBN: 0451213769 $6.50, 384 pp.

Donna Hill. Workaholic advertising CEO Tricia faints during a presentation. At Midtown Memorial Hospital, she learns she has high blood pressure from Dr. "Fine" Evans. As she and her doctor begin seeing one another, her "bad girl" sister tries to entice him away. Brenda Jackson. Full figured Megan loved Tyler when they were teens, but he left her for veterinary school heeding the advice of her family to enable her to attend Harvard. Fourteen years later he vows to not repeat the same mistake. Monica Jackson. Forced to retire from the SEALs due to an injury, Shep has become a famous painter. Plus sized Cherise hires him to paint her beauty salons. On a private plane flight, the pilot dies from a heart attack. Shep uses his survival skills to keep himselfand his client alive in the wintry mountains; the climate proves easy, but Cherise not so as she is used to being in charge. Still they fall in love while living off the frozen land. Francis Ray. In Austin, domestic diva Cara desires Miami transplant Neal, a renovation designer. Neal wants her too, but he only desires her as a "hired wife" to help him with a client. As they fall in love, Neal refuses to believe in a real permanent wife. These four delightful novellas star delightful big babes who can take care of themselves in the workplace, the boudoir or the home, but know life would prove better with the hunk they love at their side, but if not these inspirational BIG GIRLS DON'T CRY.

The Good Girl's Guide to Murder
Susan McBride
ISBN: 0060563907 $6.99, 368 pp.

In Dallas, Martha Stewart clone Marilee Mabry, about to be launched on an unsuspecting American public, reflects how she now knows how her idol felt when she rang the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange. Andrea Kendricks knows she has one more reason to strangle her elitist mother, Cissy, who insisted her daughter attend her friend Marilee's celebratory party. Andrea wants no part of her mother's scene and would prefer to avoid this bow to the domestic queen event; she would prefer rush-hour on the LBJ. At the gala at the Sweet Life's Studio, a fire breaks out. During the chaos, Andy finds a seemingly comatose Kendall, Marilee's daughter, lying on the floor. When the studio cools down, a body is found. Other incidents follow. While Mother has no room on her social calendar for Marilee's troubles, Andy investigates into who wants to destroy their family friend. THE GOOD GIRL'S GUIDE TO MURDER is a terrific satirical investigative tale that readers will fully enjoy due to the relationship between Mother and Debutante Dropout daughter as Andy is anything but a chip off the old block. Andy is a wonderful protagonist still struggling to cope with a perfectionist mother, who feels her only child is a let down as women should not be sleuthing when they need to insure their nails, hair, and pumps are correct. Marilee is a trip as her pompous attitude comes across that her coronation should have happened already. Though the culprit and the motive seem obvious, fans will still not be sure who the perpetrator is until the very end. What makes this novel and its predecessor so good is the BLUE BLOOD detective Andy.

Seducing a Princess
Lois Greiman
ISBN: 006057156X $5.99, 384 pp.

Two years have passed since the highwaymen stopped the carriage bearing his wife and son yet William Enton still spends his time imbibing in drink to forget his loss and alleviate his feelings of guilt for not accompanying them. When highwaymen attacked their carriage, courageous perhaps foolish Elli, told the hostler to stride away from them, but the coach took a turn too fast and toppled. A lantern burned the carriage and its riders. The thieves caught up, but never stole her jewelry. Now in 1819 still wondering why she left and why he stayed silent when she said she was going, William vows vengeance. William enters Darkdowne, a den of iniquity run by thieves who attack him. The Princess rescues him and takes William to her leader Poke. William is fascinated by the Princess, the first woman to stir him since the tragedy and in a deep honesty to himself long before the calamity. As they fall in love while working on a robbery, Princess knows she has secrets that once revealed will send Will running back to either polite society or drink. The third "Princess" tale (see the delightful THE PRINCESS AND HER PIRATE and THE PRINCESS MASQUERADE) is a fabulous early nineteenth century romantic suspense that is a fitting climax t o a strong trilogy. The story line is action-packed yet character driven as William and the Princess struggle with respective issues that would destroy lesser beings and almost devastate them. It is with each other that they begin to overcome their particular trauma although new ones surface. Lois Greiman is a reigning monarch in the Regency sub-genre.

Much Ado about You
Eloisa James
ISBN: 0060732067 $6.99, 400 pp.

In 1816 Duke Raphael Jourdain buys four rocking horses so that the orphan sisters that recently became his wards would not fight over toys like he and his brother used to do. He hires a nanny and four nursemaids to care for the children, whom he never met. The quartet arrives to a nursery filled with toys. The oldest Teresa thinks that men will be boys, but a shocked Rafe apologizes for his misconception. Tess introduces her younger siblings (fifteen years old Josie, twenty years old Imogen, and twenty-two years old Annabel). While Rafe drinks too much brandy, Tess realizes she must marry off her siblings; each one's dowry is a renowned racing horse so she figures if men are like her father, besotted with steeds only, she should have no trouble finding a suitor for each of them. However, instead she finds an unsuitable rake for herself as Tess falls in love with Lucius Felton, disowned by his family for his unbecoming of a lord behavior. This is a terrific historical romance that showcases family living in Regency England. The story line predominantly plays out as Tess and her sisters display love and support for one another. On the other hand, Lucius is fabulous as he tries to gain entry into the sisterhood although his reputation as being barred by his parents precedes him; his family relationships are the opposite of the sisterhood especially with his peerage mother. The final discovery by Tess and readers of the cause of his estrangement tells a lot about the times in a few sentences. Fans will appreciate this strong tale that much ado about fantastic writing.

In the Night
Kathryn Smith
ISBN: 0060740663 $5.99, 384 pp.

In 1818 Winthrope Ryland shocks the siblings when he asks the older sister widow Viscountess Moira Tynsdale instead of the younger beauty Minerva Banning to dance. She is stunned, but Minnie comes to her rescue saying she still mourns her Tony, dead two years. Later a shook Moira tells her friend Octavia (Wy's sister-in-law) that she reacted stupidly to his request because no one ever asks her to dance. Later, Wy demands a kiss from Moira but she refuses believing he is using her to get to Minnie. William Daniels, who conned Wy into stealing for him years ago demands Wy do one last job or else his brother North's political ambitions will be destroyed; William says he has proof that North worked for Bow St. and saved Wy from prison. William wants Wy to steal a tiara from Moira, but after sharing sex with her for the first time, she catches him acturally returning the tiara to her that he already purloined. She orders him to leave though they both are in love. He must deal with the blackmailer if he has any hope of ever having Moira in his arms again that is if he can persuade her that he can be trusted. The solid cast makes IN THE NIGHT a fine Regency romance. Readers are blessed with a strong lead couple playing sexual chess, the return of Wy's three other brothers and wives of the married duo, and an interesting secondary character who happens to be gay and the heroine's best friend add depth to a fine tale. Though the final confrontation feels somewhat anticlimactic, sub-genre fans will appreciate fabulous historical romance.

What an Earl Wants
Shirley Karr
ISBN: 0060742305 $6.99, 384 pp.

In 1816 London, the Earl of Sinclair, Benjamin hires Joe Quincy as his secretary because he likes the cheeky response the applicant provides back to his inquiries although he has some doubts as the lad does not shave. Quickly, Joe gets the household staff and even Benjamin's mother warped around his thin finger and soon uncovers that his predecessor Johnson embezzled quite a bit of money from the Earl. Benjamin realizes something is not quite right with Joe; a revelation hits Benjamin that Joe is Josephine. As she hires homeless servants who seem to get married rather quickly, he earns the reputation as the "matchmaking Earl". When Jo and Benjamin fall in love, she rejects him because she fears the scandal will hurt her beloved and his kind mother. Benjamin knows he must persuade her otherwise. Though women masquerading as males have been done quite frequency amongst the Regency romance sub-genre, nonetheless this is a fabulous tale due "Mr. Quincy". Benjamin is a typical hero while the support cast augments the plot by providing insight into the lead couple. The "chase" for Johnson provides a bit of a mystery and some suspense, but the novel is owned by the wonderful Jo. Fans will enjoy her antics as a young man and as a desirable woman. Readers will look forward to more works if this is any indication of how talented Shirley Karr is.

Just Like a Man
Elizabeth Bevarly
ISBN: 0060509473 $6.99, 384 pp.

Michael "Raptor" Sawyer tells his former boss that he no longer worked for OPUS as he has a nine years old son to raise and parent association meetings to attend. His superior informs Michael that you work for OPUS for life. Furthermore he is needed to deal with the Sorcerer, currently behaving as a model businessman in Indianapolis, but OPUS knows how dangerous this man is. Michael takes Alex with him on his assignment as he has no choice. He enrolls his son in Emerson Academy, but rather quickly the precocious Alex is in trouble with stern headmistress Hannah Frost who lives up to her last name. Hannah calls in Michael to discuss his son's behavior and to her chagrin finds she is attracted to him although he does not fit her controlled lifestyle. Still as Michael works as an undercover secret agent, he and Hannah fall in love, but between the impacts on his son, the danger caused by the Sorcerer, and her stubbornness, the relationship between the Raptor and the educator appears doomed. Though Hannah lives up to her surname for much of the first half of the novel, readers will accept her cold professional approach as an educational administrator and manager, but feel a bit disjointed that she behaves the same way in her personal life even as this rings true. Michael and Alex thaw her. The suspense adds tension as Michael finds he has two people to protect from his enemy and willingly risks all to keep them safe. Fans will enjoy this taut romantic suspense thriller starring three fine protagonists.

Secrets Vol 11
Jennifer Probst, Jess Michaels, Kimberly Dean and Angela Knight
Red Sage
P.O. Box 4844, Seminole, FL 33775
ISBN: 0975451618 $12.99 727-391-3847

Masquerade by Jennifer Probst. Hailey, tired of living the life of a repressed wallflower, decides to seduce her boss at his annual sexual masquerade orgy. She asks her best friend, Michael, to learn what her supervisor will be garbed in over the weekend. Michael loves Hailey and plans to be the one that she seduces. Ancient Pleasures by Jess Michaels. In 1897 Egypt, Isabella arrives at the tomb that her late husband discovered hoping to learn why he came back a different person. Inside the tomb are Jake and another man. Stones fall isolating Jake and Isabella from everyone else. As they give into their desire for one another, they wonder if it is the tomb's curse or the love between two people. Manhunt by Kimberly Dean. Former detective turned drug dealing fugitive and murder suspect Michael arrives at the home of Assistant district attorney Taryn. He needs her to help prove his innocence. He decides seduction is the best way to get her on his side and under him. Wake Me by Angela Knight. Radolf the knight is cursed to remain inside a painting until a woman who loves him comes along to release him. He believes Chloe is the one. Chloe is attracted to the knight in a painting that she received anonymously. Soon afterward she starts having wet fantasies. Radolf realizes he still must persuade her that her dreams are real if she will believe in their love. No secret this reviewer is big fan of the annual erotic romances. The eleventh edition contains four hot tales starring wonderful protagonists and plenty of romance.

Slaying Is Such Sweet Sorrow
Patricia Harwin
ISBN: 0743482255 $6.50, 304 pp.

After Catherine Perry's husband Quinn dumped her for another woman, she packed her belongings and moved to Far Wychwood to reside near their daughter Emily, her son-in-law Peter, and her grandson Archie. When Quinn and his lover Janet come for a visit, Emily promises her mom to keep her dad away from her because Catherine wants nothing to do with her ex. Quinn and Catherine separately attend a dinner where Peter is to be named head of his department at Oxford. The outgoing head names Edgar Stone to replace him leaving Peter very disappointed. When Catherine returns to the banquet room, she sees Peter standing over a dead Edgar. The police arrest Peter, feeling they have an airtight case after hearing a phone call Edgar allegedly made to the prime suspect. However, the case collapses when Edgar's wife is found dead with a suicide note in her handwriting saying she killed her husband. Catherine feels good for her daughter and grandson, but has some lingering doubts how the two deaths occurred. Patricia Harwin has written a delightful British cozy that will appeal to fans of Ann Granger and Patricia Hall. Readers receive an insider's look at a small English village consisting of thirty cottages yet the heroine feels more at home here than back in the States where she used to live. The mystery is cleverly constructed so that Catherine's attempts to solve the case ring true as she stumbles from one incident to the next. Readers will seek out the previous Far Wychwood tale (see ARSON AND OLD LACE) and look forward for the next one.

Strange Affair
Peter Robinson
ISBN 0060544333 $24.95, 352 pp.

Detective Chief Inspector Alan Banks of Eastvale, North Yorkshire is recuperating after he almost lost his life in a home fire set by Detective Annie Cabbot's psychopathic boyfriend. He lost everything in the fire and while on medical leave falls in a deep depression. When his brother Roy calls, leaving a message on the answering machine, he asks him for his help, saying his life might be in danger. When Banks can't get him on the phone, he travels to London but Roy is nowhere to be found. In Eastvale, a woman is found dead in her car, a bullet in her head. In her pocket is the address of Alan's former home that is being rebuilt. Annie tries to find Banks but he didn't report to anyone where he was going. After fruitless searching, Roy's body is found in the river with a bullet in his head. Alan and Annie discover the murdered woman was Roy's girlfriend, a clear link between the two cases. Now they have to find out what Roy was afraid of and what he sent his girlfriend to tell Alan. The Alan Banks Police procedurals are some of the best mystery novels on the market today. STRANGE AFFAIR has so many twists and turns and false leads that readers find themselves so totally absorbed in the novel that they will finish it in one sitting just to find out who killed Roy and his girlfriend and why. Peter Robinson is the master of the English police procedural with tantalizing, exciting and totally believable works.

A Killing Rain
P.J. Parrish
ISBN: 078601606X $6.99, 384 pp.

Private detective Louis Kincaid tried for over a year to get a date with Susan Outlaw; when he finally succeeds and goes to her house, she informs him they will eat here with her son Benjamin. Louis does not mind because he likes Benjamin. While the trio dines together, Susan's estrange husband Austin arrives after an absence of a few years. For her son's sake, she lets her spouse stay in her home. A few days pass before Louis calls to see how Susan and Ben are doing. She frantically tells him that Austin and Ben are missing. After a search turns up nothing, Louis returns home to ponder his next move, but Austin waits for him there. A panicked Austin explains that his business partner and secretary were abducted and ultimately killed; he fears for his son. Louis believes Ben is bait to lure Austin into a deadly trap. He continues his search although the police believe the lad is dead. P.J. Parrish is a fantastic thriller writer with his latest winner filled with plenty of action and chase scenes and the author insures the key cast seems genuine. Austen is an interesting antagonist as readers will feel dismay towards him for abandoning his son to save his own skin and feel further ire when he refuses to reveal to anyone how he became a target of a professional hitman though that might help save Ben's life. In some ways he steals the show, but in contrast to the courage of Louis, who loves Susan and Ben, placing himself in danger to save someone else's son turns A KILLING RAIN into an enthralling gothic tale in the middle of the Everglades.

Shadow Valley
Gwen Hunter
Mira (Harlequin)
ISBN: 0778321304 $6.99, 384 pp.

While waiting for her divorce to be finalized from her cheating spouse, Mackenzie Morgan and her teenage daughter Bella take photographs of an abandoned fishery in an isolated part of the Appalachians. However, their solitude is disturbed when geologist Dell Shirley arrives on a horse accompanied by two dogs. Dell ties up Mac expecting her to die and abducts Bella. Refusing to sit idly by while her daughter is in trouble, Mac treks four miles although still tied up until she reaches a ranger. The police begin a search and rescue led by volunteer tracker Caleb Howell while Bella's dad Marlowe blames Mac and acts as the caring concerned father and martyr with the media. However, the seemingly random kidnapping runs closer to home as truths begin to surface, but the chances of Bella surviving her ordeal get slimmer by the second. This exhilarating suspense thriller with a romantic subplot that rightfully takes a back seat to the abduction will elate fans as the action never slows down until the final altercation. Fans will admire the courageous "superwoman" who is a lioness out to save her cub; on the other hand readers will hiss at her unsympathetic spouse who brings his latest bimbo to the Appalachians. The final twist will surprise the audience, but seems right as Gwen Hunter writes a tense search and hopefully rescue tale.

The Bay at Midnight
Diane Chamberlain
ISBN: 0778321460 $19.95, 384 pp.

In Westfield, Abby Worley visits Julie Bauer explaining that her father Ethan was a childhood friend in Bay Head Shores, New Jersey before the tragedy that linked their families forever forty-one years ago. Julie remembers Ethan, but had a crush on his older brother Ned, who was her older sister Isabel's boyfriend. Abby further explains that her Uncle Ned recently died from cirrhosis after a lifetime of drinking to forget the homicide. He left behind a note for the Point Pleasant Police Department in which he insisted that the wrong person paid for Isabel's murder. Julie wants to ignore this revelation since the convicted killer George Lewis died in prison five years ago. However, she always felt that George was innocent. She knows that the murder colored her world to the point of overprotecting her seventeen years old daughter, Shannon, who now plans to move to her father's home having recently graduated from high school. Even her relationships with her mother and her younger sister are tainted by the trauma. Unable to resist, Julie begins making inquiries into what really happened over four decades ago that destroyed more than just a teenager. This is an exciting amateur sleuth family drama that stars a fabulous ensemble cast including deceased people. The story line switches first person accounts though Julie is the prime narrator. That provides insight into various characters, but also makes for difficulty in following the plot as three families are interwoven by the homicide. Still Diane Chamberlain provides a tense engaging thriller that her fans will appreciate, but to fully cherish the tale concentration is needed to keep track.

Deadly Illusions
Brenda Joyce
ISBN: 077832138X $7.50, 384 pp.

In 1902 Manhattan, the Slasher has attacked three working class Irish women; the first two survived the ordeal, but the third victim is dead. Fearing for her friend Maggie Kennedy who lives in the same neighborhood that is under assault, heiress sleuth Francesca Cahill begins to investigate the vicious crimes over the objection of her fiance successful businessman Calder Hart. He does not want her in harm's way or hanging out with his rival his half-brother married Police Commissioner Rick Bragg because Francesca and Rick were once thought to be in love. Still Francesca is an independent person and no one, even her future spouse, will tell her what she cannot do. She makes inquiries and visits the crime scenes where she runs into Rick. Suspects are everywhere especially estranged spouses and fiances, but in spite of the combined efforts of Rick and Francesca the Slasher strikes again. To catch this killer Francesca knows she must be the bait. The seventh Cahill historical mystery provides Brenda Joyce's audience with a wonderful lamplight look at Manhattan at the turn of the century. The story line is fast-paced but loaded with intricate family relationships that bring to life the key players especially the half-brothers, Rick's wife, and the heroine. The who-done-it is fun as the suspects seem plentiful and the moving forward on relational fronts provides a freshness somewhat lacking in the last two books, but DEADLY ILLUSIONS is at its best lighting up 1902 New York City.

Rachel Lee
ISBN: 0778321290 $6.99, 384 pp.

With primary victories in Florida, Texas and Louisiana Senator Grant Lawrence becomes the Democratic Party's nominee for president. As he thanks the voters on national TV, someone shoots him. The FBI begins investigating the assassination attempt, but hot stuff out of the box maverick Tom Lawton is assigned work to keep him out of the prime inquiries. He feels the Los Angeles incident with his superior has turned him into a persona non grata maverick in the minds of his supervisors, but that will not stop him from doing the job. Tom still manages to find important information so as his reward he is totally yanked from the case. He digs into who and why the removal, but as he uncovers links to a Guatemala group that recently killed the American ambassador and CIA actions in the 1950s, he finds he is now the target of his bosses. He flees with only Agent Renate Bachle willing to help him as long as his needs fit her secret agenda. WILDCARD is an exhilarating international political thriller that never slows down from the moment Tom sees Grant shot on TV until the final altercation "ghosts" and all. The story line is action-packed and moves at quite a fast clip with Tom going from the frying pan into the fire. The political devices to manipulate people make this a fine tale as the romantic subplot takes a back seat to the global suspense.

Duchess for a Day
Nan Ryan
ISBN: 077832141X $6.99, 384 pp.

In 1895 governess Claire Orwell rejects the sexual advances of her employer Lord Nardees so he has her accused of theft. She is sent to Newgate where the Green Tooth keeps her safe from the advances of other inmates and also arranges for Queen Council Lord Northway to represent her in Magistrates Court where he gets her freed. Northway obtains a job for Claire to open up the Saratoga Springs, home of the wealthy Duchess of Beaumont. Claire gets Northway to liberate the Green Tooth, who cleans up as Olivia Sutton. In New York, everyone assumes that Claire is the Duchess who has not been seen in several years. At first she tried to correct the error, but soon begins to enjoy her "new" life especially when wealthy tycoon Hank "Silver King" Cassidy arrives in town. As Claire and Hank fall in love, she wonders how to tell him the truth without losing him; knowing full well that the Duchess is coming soon and could have her incarcerated for impersonating her. This engaging Victorian-American romance is a fun tale based on the classic "Oh what a tangled web we weave, When first we practice to deceive". The characters make the late nineteenth century in this Upstate New York resort town seem alive so that the audience can savor a taste of the past. Although a second subplot involving Nardees crossing the Atlantic seems unneeded though suspenseful, Americana readers will enjoy attending the season along side Claire and Hank.

By Summer's End
Pamela Morsi
ISBN: 0778321398 $6.99, 384 pp.

When the job or the boyfriend dried up, Dawn accompanied by her two children hit the road and moved on to the next "Sonny". However, her thirteen years old daughter Dakota notices that this time it is different as Dawn for the first time back tracks and heads to her hometown of Knoxville; Dakota's older sister Sierra fails to see anything unique on this trek until they reach their destination. Dawn pleads with her mother-in-law Sephrona to allow her two grandchildren to spend the summer with them because she is ill. Sephrona blames Dawn for the death of her son thirteen years ago; if he had not impregnated her and then married her, he would have been at university instead of logging when the tree fell on him. Still Sephrona forced by her spouse, who wants time with his grandchildren, reluctantly takes in the three women. Will love or hate rule this summer in which everyone struggles to adjust, but health becomes the key issue as grandpa and Dawn have threatening ailments. This engaging character study focuses in on an ensemble cast though the youngest player serves as the prime narrator. The family drama works on several levels as each sees the relationships quite differently. Pamela Morsi displays her talent so by the novel's end fans will appreciate that the four women, grandpa and even the canine Rocky Dog have unique personalities that remain consistent. This is a fine tale that showcases the relative strengths of love vs. hate on individuals.

Challenge to Honor
Jennifer Blake
ISBN: 0778321703 $6.99, 416 pp.

In 1840 New Orleans, Celina Vallier visits Rio "Silver Shadow" de Silva to persuade the "Master of Arms" not to duel her brother Denys. Rio says it is a matter of honor as Denys challenged him, but Celina counters that he made the disparaging remark about her. To her shock, Rio says Denys was not his target, but the sibling immediately stepped into the void that her fiance failed to do. He also says there is one way she can persuade him to accept disgrace by refusing to duel her brother. Her innocence is worth the price to save Denys' life. Rio is stunned by Celina's courage and is even greater shocked by the attraction he feels to the spunky woman. However, he knows he must not lose sight that she is a pawn in his personal war of vengeance with her fiance Count de Lerida. Celina sees Rio as her possible escape from a marriage with the odious Count. Of course the Count is a great manipulator of people who will not sit idly by. This opening act of the Masters of Arms series is a delightful historical romance starring two likable lead characters, and a fine support cast that adds depth to mostly the French New Orleans' lifestyle and a nasty villain. Besides the strong protagonists, the will written story line enables the audience to feel they are in the city in 1840 as a rich tapestry of history is cleverly interwoven into the fabulous plot. This is quite a treat for Americana fans and a challenge for Jennifer Blake to top this tale with her next honorable rogue novel.

The Butterfly House
Marcia Preston
ISBN: 0778321355 $19.95, 288 pp.

In 1990, a man claiming to be Harley Jaines visits Roberta "Bobbie" Lee with a request. Bobbie insists that the real Harley died in the 1960s in Nam, but the visitor remains insistent as to who he is. Harley wants Bobbie to testify at the parole hearing that his wife Leonora, incarcerated for killing Bobbie's drunk mom Ruth in 1971 in Shady River, Oregon, is about to face. He also asks if she can arrange for him to meet his daughter Cynthia, her best friend as children when Bobbie would flee her intoxicated mom to spend time at the Jaines' Rockhaven home. Bobbie considers both requests, but feels uncomfortable with fulfilling either of them. She has doubts about testifying on behalf of Leonora who was blamed for the fire that razed Rockhaven, killed Ruth, and destroyed the butterfly collection that fascinated Bobbie as a child. She feels strange telling Cindy she met her father long thought dead and that her dad wants to meet his daughter twenty years too late. Worse Bobbie knows the truth of what happened on that fatal day that destroyed two families; having spent time at a mental institution she fears revealing what she knows. THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE is a strong character study starring a distraught female protagonist ably supported by a deep secondary cast. The story line shifts eras smoothly through mostly Bobbie's looking back over time. Fans will wonder what secret Bobbie hides and why and what will happen if she reveals the truth as she knows it. Marcia Preston delivers a deep multi-family drama that leaves her audience wondering about the decisions made twenty years ago by several individuals.

Highlander in Disguise
Julia London
ISBN: 0743465075 $6.99, 384 pp.

After Liam Lockhart failed to regain the beastie, he married the woman who stole the valuable artifact back from him (see HIGHLANDER UNBOUND). The quest falls to his younger brother, Griffin. However, Griff lacks funding to spend any time in London even with his using the home of his best friend's grandmother while she vacations in France. He borrows heavily from his neighbor whose usury interest will cripple the lad if he fails to remit within a year to fund his search for an unknown Amelia, who allegedly bought the beastie from Lady Battenkirk who had purchased it from Liam's wife. Anna Whittington hopes that Drake Lockhart will ask for her hand in marriage, but he seems more interested in her beautiful younger sister. Meanwhile she wonders about this so-called wealthy Scot who asks questions about her cousin, Lady Battenkirk and anyone named Amelia especially since he looks so much like last year's wealthy Scot Laird. Anna investigates and learns that Griff is an impoverished fake. She blackmails him into teaching her how to seduce Drake, but soon desires her mentor instead; he finds the beastie means little now that he is deeply in love with his troublesome student. This entertaining Regency romance uses a theme that has been employed in many historical romances, yet the talented Julia London makes it feel as if this is the first time that an innocent asks to be trained in seduction graces a tale. The story line is fun as Griff knows from the first moment he meets Anna that her name spells trouble. This charming couple provides a solid gender war tale that readers will appreciate.

Killer Curves
Roxanne St. Claire
ISBN: 0743462777 $6.99, 384 pp.

Guggenheim Museum volunteer docent Celeste Bennett escorts rich patrons on private tours. However, her clam world is shattered when NASCAR champion Beau "Lightning Bolt" Lansing specifically asks for her to serve as his guide because no one ever name requested her before. When she confronts him on why her, Beau explains he wants her to donate a kidney to save the life of her biological father NASCAR legend Travis Chastaine. She wants nothing to do with the man who deserted her pregnant mother before she was born. Beau cannot understand why she would refuse as he sees Travis as a kindhearted father figure. He persuades Celeste to at least learn first hand that Travis is not the irresponsible SOB she thinks he is. Her condition is to work undercover at Chastaine Motorsports, which Beau agrees to help her accomplish. As they argue over Travis' merits, Beau and Celeste fall in love; neither wants the deep feelings as he enjoys "Beau Babes" and she has broken three engagements because she has doubts about relationships. This entertaining contemporary romance is at its best when Beau defends his beloved mentor while Celeste judges her sire as lacking. As they battle over Travis, fans get insight into the motives of this pair as the child makes the adult loud and clear in this fine tale. A subplot involving a crazy person with homicidal intent adds suspense but that also feels like an unnecessary hairpin turn to a story line that moves on full cylinders from the start to the finish line.

My Demon's Kiss
Lucy Blue
ISBN: 0743464486 $6.99, 368 pp.

Simon was a six years old Irish slave to a nasty Saxon overlord when the Normans invaded and killed his lord which made the lad very happy. Two decades later, Simon is fighting to retake the Holy Land when the Caliph Kivar provides Roxanna as a bride to the Duke leading this Crusader quest. She refuses and hell breaks out; Simon intercedes on her behalf only to be bitten. A virtual slaughter ensues, but Simon and two others including the girl survive. As Simon wonders whether a vampire can be a Christian, he wants his affliction gone. He learns from a scroll Kivar possessed that a holy chalice allegedly hidden in Charmot Castle in England may provide the cure he desperately seeks. He travels to England accompanied by Orlando the dwarf and the girl he saved. In England, Simon meets Lady Isabel, whose castle is allegedly where the Chalice can be found. As the Christian vampire and the English lady fall in love, someone wants him dead because he interferes with plans for Isabel. MY DEMON'S KISS is sort of taking Angel and placing him mostly in eleventh century England. The story line is action-packed from the moment that Simon "rescues" Roxanna and never slows down until the final altercation. Readers will appreciate the romantic subplot that brings new enemies to Simon who simply wants to become human again. He and Isabel are likable heroic lead characters while Orlando and Roxanna add depth to a fine medieval vampire romance. A terrific tale with an intriguing final twist that will have fans praising Lucy Blue while looking forward to more adventures starring Simon with Orlando the Wizard at his side.

Graham Masterton
ISBN 0743462947 $6.99, 285 pp.

Hearing impaired Holly Summers is very happy with the life she has. She has an adorable little girl named Daisy, works for the Portland child welfare office and is a court accredited lip reader. She works for the police and when she sees people talking about a crime they are about to commit she calls the cops and her testimony is legally acceptable in trials. As a social worker she sees many heartbreaking things done to children and when she calls on Mary Joseph, she finds her beaten to a pulp and her son Daniel is unconscious with almost every bone in his body is broken. They arrest Native American Elliot Joseph who puts a curse on Holly that seems to effectively work. Holly is suspended from her job when a young girl commits suicide after she confronts her about being abused. Her daughter is kidnapped and the man she considers a dear friend is responsible because he wants her to participate in an orgy. If she cooperates Daisy will be released. Is it bad luck or an Indian's curse? Either way Holly's life is in danger. Graham Masterton is a fantastic horror and thriller writer who knows how to build a growing atmosphere of foreboding. The story line shows the horrifying things Holly sees in her work as well as the supernatural kind where an evil man persuades a good woman to believe that one person can curse another because of the happenings of certain events in her own life seemingly the result of the curse. Fans of Richard Laymon and Douglass Clegg will want to read UNSPEAKABLE.

Killing a Unicorn
Marjorie Eccles
Dunne (St. Martin's)
ISBN: 0312324111 $22.95, 224 pp.

Fran Calvert is taking a walk on her husband's family estate when she finds the corpse of Bianca (Biba) Morgan near a refreshing waterfall. Fran knows that Biba and her nine years old son Jasie were brought here by Fran's brother-in-law Chip. Reflecting on the deceased Fran realizes she also knows almost nothing about the victim. She also worries that her spouse architect Mark is no where in sight and Jasie is missing. The family led by the matriarch Alyssa clings to the belief that an outsider killed Biba. Inspector Dave Crouch and Sergeant Kate Colville investigate the death and quickly find ties between Biba and the third son international cello star Jonathan and Mark; they believe an inside job. As the cops dig deeper into the family, the pretense of upper crust affinity begins to unravel as each Calvert has their own agenda. This English cozy is an enjoyable police procedural that combines insight into a family through the investigation. Fans will appreciate how cleverly Marjorie Eccles reveals her cast especially the hidden roles they mask from others while the two police officers strip away their veneer. The who-done-it is a terrific homicide investigation that also serves as the background to a deep family drama.

Walter Satterthwait
ISBN 0312339747 $23.95, 368 pp.

In 1923, The Pinkerton Agency based in London is hired by the Nazi Party to find the person responsible for trying to assassinate Adolph Hitler in Tiergarten Park. He was meeting with General Von Secit hoping that he could convince Von Secit to allow Hitler to have a Putch without the army interfering. While the men are talking, a shot rings out and a gun is found but there is no trace of the assassin. English agent Jane Turner and American agent Phil Beaumont travel to Berlin where they discover that only eight people, all trusted aides of Hitler, knew about the meeting. The Nazi's want to blame the communists who control part of Germany but the Pinkerton agents believe that the assassin either was one of the eight people or that one of them talked to somebody who then acted on the information. Jane and Phil spend most of their time questioning the eight men but as they get closer to the truth, the octet closes ranks and tries to kill the Pinkerton Agents who the Nazis know detest their war-mongering, hate spewing agenda. Germany in 1923 is a country on the verge of bankruptcy with beggars living on the streets and men, women and youngsters selling their bodies to get a meal. Walter Satterthwait shows why it was so easy for Hitler to rise to power because he gave the people hope that if they band together and take care of the Bolsheviks and the Jewish "Problems", Germany can because a powerful country again. CAVALCADE is an investigate thriller that shows how hate can fester under certain conditions allow atrocities to occur. This is a very exciting and intriguing reading experience.

The Actor's Guide to Adultery
Rick Copp
ISBN: 0758204973 $22.95, 224 pp.

Former child star Jarrod Jarvis' hopes of a comeback flop worse than a raw wiener. Wors,e the California parole board releases Jarrod's personal stalker from his fame days, Wendell Butterworth, over his objection. Finally bad things always come in three when his manager and best friend Laurette Taylor marries odious soap opera actor Juan Carlos Barrancos. Jarvis accompanied by his lover LAPD officer Charlie Peters attend the wedding celebration at Hearst Castle. However, someone poisoned the champagne and one guest collapses into the wedding cake dead. Jarvis wonders if Juan is the culprit having had a spat with the victim in public view just a little earlier. To find out Jarrod accepts a role in a horror flick starring Juan so that he can be close to the groom while he investigates the poisoning. He also must cope with the return of wonderful Wendell, who plans to kill his soul mate Jarrod. Of course the actor must also deal with a child star who deserves boiling in water and a mobster or two. As he did with THE ACTORS GUIDE TO MURDER, Rick Copp provides an irreverent amusing anti-urban noir amateur sleuth that lays naked LaLa land. The who-done-it is cleverly presented while the Hollywood minute or two serves as a delicious background. Readers will appreciate this way out expose of the stars, the wannabees, the has-beens, and the killers through Jarrod's insightful perspective.

The Fyre Mirror
Karen Harper
ISBN 0312326920 $23.95, 304 pp.

On a whim, Queen Elizabeth I decides to leave her London residence and stay at Nonsuch Palace for a while. Beside the courtiers and the rest of the retinue who make up Elizabeth's inner circle, she takes along artists, who are painting a state picture of her and she will pick the one that is the best and send it all over Europe. Gil Sharpe, who was sent to Italy to learn with the masters goes to Nonsuch and decides to enter the competition to paint his Queen's portrait. Since Nonsuch is small, many of the people who traveled with Elizabeth are staying in the courtyard in tents. One of the artist's tents catches fire, killing him and his assistant. It is determined that the fire was deliberately set using a mirror and the sun to start the flames. A second artist's tent is also burned in the same manner. Elizabeth convinces her Privy Plot council to help her smoke out the killer but the perpetrator is very cunning. Elizabeth finds her own life is put in danger by a person without mercy. This is the seventh Elizabeth I mystery by fabulous historical mystery writer Karen Harper and it is a thrilling reading experience because there are so many suspects with too few motives. Readers see the intelligence of the queen as she maneuvers Mary, Queen of Scots into a marriage of her choosing and plans to use her as a public relations tool to prove she is a queen in total command of the kingdom she rules. Fans of the Ursula Blanches series by Fiona Buckley will definitely love this glimpse into a bygone era.

Dark Eye
William Bernhardt
ISBN: 034547015X $25.95, 480 pp.

Alcoholic Susan Pulaski loses her job as a police psychologist for the Las Vegas Police Department because she rarely stays sober. However, she has no time to drown her latest sorrow with more drink because her former boss LVPD Chief O'Bannon, who fired her, needs her skills as a profiler to stop a clever serial killer who murders young girls and leaves behind a cryptic note. Susan asks her ex-boss' twenty-something son Darby, an idiot savant whose expertise happens to be encrypted messages to break the code. They soon find an Edgar Allen Poe cryptic, but have no idea what that means in the deadly modern context. Unbeknownst to Susan she plays a beleaguered heroine in a Poe work as the killer has a role for her that will end in her death if he directs the show. Though exciting, DARK EYE seems to come out of the ingenious insane and inane serial killer 101 mould where a brilliant murderer leaves clues to play cat and mouse with the cops (the Son of Sam syndrome in literature). Still Susan is a delightful protagonist struggling with an alcohol dependency; Darby is perhaps the most interesting character though why didn't pop turn to him to solve the puzzle? Though fans of serial killer police chess matches will enjoy the action-packed and exhilarating tale due to its cat and mouse demeanor, William Bernhardt readers will mostly sing Ben.

The Rosary Girls
Richard Montanari
ISBN 0345470958 $23.95, 416 pp.

Philadelphia detective Kevin Byrne, a twenty year veteran, works in the homicide unit. He has a phenomenal success rate of clearing his cases but his methods make him a maverick who adheres to the letter of the law but not its spirit. Detective Jessica Balzano is assigned to the homicide unit with Byrne as her partner; he accepts her as an equal. Their first case is the murder of a teenage high school girl who is found in an abandoned house. Her hands are bolted together by someone using a drill. Her vagina is stitched up and a cross in blue chalk is on her forehead. The perpetrator left no other evidence behind. Two more teens are found dead in the same way, all three having attended a Catholic high school. They finally figure out that the killer is reenacting the five sorrowful mysteries of the rosary which means he intends to kill at least two more girls before he is finished. Byrne and Jessica work overtime trying to get one step ahead of him, not realizing that for his finale he has very special plans for Jessica and her daughter. Anyone who has not read a Richard Montanari thriller is missing something very special. THE ROSARY GIRLS is told in the third person from the police working the crime and the first person point of view of the killer. This is a book that is very exciting with several red herrings to force the reader (and the police) down the wrong path so that the audience will need to finish it in one sitting so they can find out who the killer is. Hopefully there will be future books starring Byrne and Jessica.

Unlucky For Some
Jill McGown
ISBN 0345476557 $22.95, 320 pp.

Married couple Detective Chief Inspectors Judy Hill and Lloyd cope with a terrible two's daughter, having Judy's mother live with them and wondering if they can handle the responsibility of a cat. While they cope with their personal life, they work doubly hard trying to bring down a serial killer. His first victim Wilma Fenton won a tidy sum at the bingo parlor. Employee Stephen Holiday delivers her winnings and walks her home before meeting someone he doesn't want to reveal to the police when they question him. When a second person is murdered in much the same way as Wilma, Stephen is in the area again and doesn't have an airtight alibi that could clear him. The murderer contacts journalist Tony Baker, who brought down a serial killer years ago. It is obvious the perpetrator wants to play a Cat and Mouse game with the reporter and the cops. As the killings continue, Stephen is either the killer or somebody with inside information has set him up. Judy and Lloyd believe Stephen is innocent despite the evidence and don't want to see him go to jail, but the miasma of lies hide the truth. Jill McGown writes some of the best British police procedurals on the market today. The marriage between the two protagonists gives insight into the personal lives of these fascinating characters and the way they work together is remarkable because neither one is jealous of who is in command of the situation. Though the flaunting serial killer is over killed in novels, UNLUCKY FOR SOME is an enthralling mystery that should be on everyone fan's keeper shelf.

The Bitten
L.A. Banks
ISBN: 0312324081 $14.95

African American rock star Damali Richards was born to fight the evil creatures of the night like the vampires and the weres. Carlos Rivera was a criminal and a drug lord before he was turned into a powerful master vampire with a seat on the vampire council. He was born to be one of Damali's guardians but she couldn't give herself to someone who walked in the dark. Carlos is redeemed by Damali's love and together they put down a vampire resurrection and fought rogue weres in Brazil. Now they face their biggest challenge yet. One of the master vamps has stolen the key that will open the sixth seal and bring about Armageddon. They have to find the key so they journey to a master enclave in Australia, knowing one of them has the key. Damali and Carlos arrange a boat trip for the master vamps and their weres so that the guardians who are watching over Damali give Carlos the time to find the key. His treachery has him brought to the vampire council where a punishment greater than death awaits him. The Bitten excitingly blends a steamy romance, non-stop action, and urban fantasy adventure into a fabulous horror tale. The story line is fast-paced, but the key to the plot remains the fantastic lead protagonists struggling with love and against evil. Fans of vampire romances will appreciate L.A. Banks' fine novel of redemption through love battling seemingly invincible evil.

Wait Until Midnight
Amanda Quick
ISBN: 0515138622 $7.99, 368 pp.

While Queen Victoria grieves the loss of her beloved Albert and the members of Polite Society emulate her wearing mourning jewelry, physical research is the rage. When Adam Hardesty enters medium Elizabeth Delmont's home, he finds her dead, her skull crushed by a poker. She is wearing a wedding veil and brooch with a broken pocket watch nearby stopped at 12 o'clock. The next day Adam visits Caroline Fordyce who attended a seance at the victim's home just hours before the murder occurred. He asks Caroline if she took a diary that belonged to the medium because he does not want secrets about his past to come out. Caroline insists she does not have it and fears her secrets will become known. She persuades Adam to allow her to join him on his investigation. When a second medium is murdered, the broken watch left behind at the crime scene has Adam's name on it. Caroline provides Adam an alibi. As they continue to make inquiries, they become lovers and try to keep the other safe struggling with the case. Amanda Quick is deservedly respected for her terrific Regency romantic suspense novels, but in WAIT UNTIL MIDNIGHT, the talented author switches settings to the Victorian era yet maintains high quality of her previous historical romantic mysteries. Her latest tale has a gothic feel to the plot, but as expected the hero and heroine are likable characters whom readers will become absorbed in their investigation as much as their evolving relationship that ultimately turns to love, danger, and risk. Regardless of the time period, Ms. Quick provides a fabulous tale that seems always to land on the keeper shelf.

Dry Heat
Jon Talton
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312333854 $22.95, 213 pp.

Having a homeless person die is no big deal anywhere in this country. However, having a homeless person die with an FBI's badge sewn into his pocket raises eyebrows. When that badge found on the John Doe belonged to Agent John Pilgrim murdered in 1948, nothing makes sense. The FBI asks Maricopa County, Arizona Deputy s David Mapstone to help on the case because he brings a unique perspective to an investigation. A former San Diego State University Professor of History, David looks at clues from the viewpoint of a historian sifting through information. The Feds believe that point of view might explain how a badge lost over fifty years ago surfaced on a dead; ironically the FBI fails to cooperate when it comes to providing full information on the long dead agent. However David has other concerns involving his wife Lindsey; a computer whiz, she several others cracked a case involving the Russian mafia; now three members of her team have been assassinated. As the Mapstones struggle to stay alive, the professor begins solving the current spin of the cold case homicide. The third "History Shamus" tale is an intriguing mystery especially when David works the cold case with little cooperation from the FBI, who wants to restrict his investigation to how the homeless person got the badge. His work also puts him in professional conflict with the Cold Case Squad. The sidebar involving his spouse adds suspense and ultimately ties back to the prime theme, but can be distracting until the reader sees the links. DRY HEAT is a terrific entry in a fine unique police procedural (see CAMELBACK FALLS and CONCRETE DESERT for the previous novels).

Thicker Than Water
Rett MacPherson
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312334087 $22.95, 224 pp.

Genealogist and historical tour guide Torie O'Shea and her spouse return from vacation to their home in New Kassel, Missouri where she learns that her employer Sylvia Pershing passed away at one hundred and two. Torie grieves her loss because she truly loved her cantankerous but honest boss and thought the senior citizen would be around forever. Shockingly at least to Torie, she inherits Sylvia's wealthy estate including the historical Gaheimer House. Torie begins the monumental task of cataloguing the many boxes filled with objects letters, pictures and other documents dating back over eight decades. However, one odd 1920s postcard with a picture of a young girl on the front and a strange message on the back that says "I think you have forgotten your promise" surprises Torie as the two sides do not gel. The genealogist soon learns that Sylvia hired a private detective. Unable to resist especially as she begins to wonder if her boss was murdered, Torie seeks the truth of today and of what happened in the late 1920s, but someone very much alive wants her to stop or she and her extended family members will die. The latest Torie O'Shea is an entertaining amateur sleuth novel though describing the heroine as an amateur seems wrong due to her skills developed as a genealogist. The story line focuses on Torie's investigation with amusing asides and intrusions by her extended FAMILY SKELETONS, who bring out the best and worst in the lead protagonist. Rett MacPherson provides a wonderful tale in which the heroine relearns that blood may be THICKER THAN WATER, but flows as freely when significant promise are broken.

Forests of the Night
James W. Hall
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312271808 $24.95, 341 pp.

In her Coral Gables, Florida home, police detective Charlotte Monroe shockingly sees her spouse Parker and their daughter Gracey amiably talking with Jacob Bright Sky Panther, who she recognizes from the FBI's Most Wanted list. Jacob escapes abducting Gracey. Stunned, Charlotte questions her husband who reluctantly confesses that Jacob is his son from a summer affair with a Cherokee woman years ago in a North Carolina camp owned by his father. That same season arson burned down the camp killing his dad. Charlotte believes that Gracey is being held in the North Carolina Mountains near the sight of the burned out camp. There Charlotte and Parker hope to rescue their daughter though the latter does not believe his son would harm his stepsister. Making matters more complex is bad blood flows, as it has for over a hundred sixty years, between whites and Native Americans, placing their teenage daughter in further jeopardy. The opening prequel from 1838 is incredible, which makes for a tough act to follow, but for the most part James W. Hall achieves the objective. The exhilarating story line is at its best when either the felon Jacob or the schizoid Gracey serves as the focus as these two characters seem so genuine. Charlotte is an intriguing police officer with unique talents that surface as she behaves like a lioness seeking to rescue her cub. On the other hand, Parker, as the key link between the players, is one dimensional and never comes across as someone in conflict struggling between what to do for his two offspring. Fans will relish this tense thriller especially when the action moves to the Carolina mountainside.

Badger Moon
Peter Tremayne
St. Martin's
ISBN 0312323417 $23.95, 255 pp.

Sister Fidelma of Cashel, an advocate of the law courts in Ireland in mid-seventh century Ireland, married her beloved Brother Eadulf of Seaxmund's Ham from the land of the South Folk and has a month old son. Fidelma is not contented to rest in luxury in the home of her brother King Colgu of Muman. She yearns to apply the law so that she can win justice for whoever needs her help. Her cousin Becc, chieftain of the Cinel na Aeda asks Colgu for an advocate to find the killer of three young girls who were murdered in the past three months on the night of the full moon. When she and Eadulf go to Becc's territory, she finds frightened and angry villagers. Many believe that the three monks that are taking sanctuary in the church who come from Africa are the killers because the murders started soon after this arrived. A distraught person related to one of the victims blames the man who married his ex-wife after she divorced him or the man's son who was courting his daughter. Fidelma must cut through layers of lies and deceptions if she is to find out who the killer really is. Even in an enlightened country such as mid-seventh century Ireland, the three black African monks are feared and mistrusted because of their skin color. The protagonist is at her very best as she interrogates people, sifts through misleading clues and works with her beloved companion Eadulf, following a trail that will lead them to a much greater mess than either anticipated. BADGER MOON has a shocking cliff hanger that will have readers breathless waiting for the next installment in this fantastic historical mystery series.

Seize the Night
Sherrilyn Kenyon
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312992432 $6.99, 339 pp.

Valerius Magnus was the son of an Ancient Roman Senator and a successful General until he traded his soul to become a Dark-Hunter. Centuries later he still hunts vampires, but remains alone as his peers are Greeks who hold a bias that has led to an unfriendly rivalry just because he is a Roman. In New Orleans, mortal Tabitha Devereaux represents a new breed of vampire hunter who has proven her worth without bartering her soul. Val meets her while she battles the undead. She stabs him during the melee so afterward she takes him home. Tabitha realizes that his haughty aloofness is a front to hide his hurt and fear of rejection; she plans to peel away his armor. However, as she sets in motion her plan a dangerous vampire surfaces with a powerful grudge from his previous life; his objective is to destroy Tabitha's extended family, which forces two Dark Hunters to either end their feud or watch their loved ones die. The latest Dark Hunter tale is one of the best tales this terrific series has to offer as the exciting story line contains plenty of action, deep characterizations (including the return of the stars of NIGHT PLEASURES) that provide additional light on the origins of the good guys, and a strong romance. Val is an interesting protagonist because though almost two thousand years have passed since his change over he remains an aristocrat deep into his soul, which makes the earthly Tabitha his total opposite except when it comes to hunting vampires. Readers will embrace the darkness of the Kenyon night seeking other works in this pleasurable series.

John Donahue
St. Martin's
ISBN 0312288075 $23.95, 256 pp.

Edward Sakura sees the man in his shodo hut on his Brooklyn estate and knows the intruder is going to kill him. Before he dies, he creates a message in calligraphy that reads "spring wind". The police think it is a clue to his murderer and one of the lead detectives brings his brother, martial arts expert Connor Burke, is called into the investigation since he is an expert in things Asian. It is learned that Sakura has sent a calligraphic scroll to Professor Hoddington in Georgia for an evaluation. The evidence shows the professor ends up murdered by the same person who killed Sakura. The school journalist Kim who gave the scroll to Sakura is found tortured and dead. The man Connor suspects killed the three men is also interested in Connor's Sensei's friend Tibetan monk Changpa Ripache. The killer has ties to the People's Republic of China security forces but they don't know why China would be interested in one outspoken monk. All these events seem to tie back to Kita Tekenobo, an expert in martial arts who wants the scroll destroyed. At an isolated gathering, all the principal players come together but not all of them will leave alive. DESHI is a fascinating thriller that gives readers an in-depth look at those who practice the martial arts and how mysticism plays a role in the making of a warrior. The protagonist has been tutored by his sensei for many years yet still realizes he has a lot to learn especially how the interaction of eastern philosophy and mysticism creates warriors. The plight of Tibet and the Chinese attempts to destroy Buddhism and the monks who practice it add depth to this creative work of suspense.

To Wed a Scandalous Spy
Celeste Bradley
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312931166 $6.99, 384 pp.

In 1813 Nathaniel Stonewall chases after Sir Lucien Foster, the last free traitor of the Knights of Fleur. Nathaniel knows catching this turncoat would help ease some of the sacrifice he accepted when he was named as "Lord Treason" for allegedly betraying his country. In fact Nathaniel is a double agent, Cobra and a member of the top secret Royal Four. In Derryton, Willa Trent has resigned herself to being a spinster when her latest suitor is injured. On the way home she shoots a rock from her slingshot, but accidentally knocks out Nathaniel. She spends the night nurturing him though she stole a quiet kiss, but as he remains consciousness her guardian John Smith declares they must marry. As she learns who her spouse is, Willa realizes not all is as it seems. She and Nathaniel fall in love, but he remains undercover as a man detested by everyone except Willa, willing to risk her life to prove her husband is loyal. This terrific espionage Regency romance will remind the audience of the classic tale James Fenimore Cooper's The Spy though that novel occurs in colonies during the American Revolutionary War and has no courageous female as a co-star. The story line is action-packed, but also insures the audience fully grasps what the hero has given up and accepted, including the disowning by his father; even his Royal Four peers recognize how much the cost is. He and the incredible Willa make this a splendid story that will have readers desiring more tales like this one.

Nerd Gone Wild
Vicki Lewis Thompson
St. Martin's
ISBN: 031299866X $6.99

Following the death of her beloved grandmother who raised her, Ally Jarrett decides to live her dream. She leaves the relative warmth of Southern California to become a wildlife photographer in wintry Porcupine, Alaska. Not long afterward, her grandmother's nerdy personal assistant Mitchell Carruthers arrives with the pretext he needs her to sign estate documents. Mitch is actually a private investigator bodyguard hired by Ally's grandmother to keep her safe from her Uncle Kurt. Because she knew Ally would reject a bodyguard, grandma got Mitch to pretend to be a nerd and obtained a deathbed pledge from him that he would keep her beloved safe. As Mitch and Ally fall in love, Kurt arrives with dominatrix girlfriend Vivian pretending to be a famous wildlife photographer for they have plans for the wealth that his stepmother left totally to his niece. The nerd series has not gone much wilder than this tale that seems to take two Los Angeles citizens and voluntarily places them amongst a rowdy crowd that must have escaped from Northern exposure. The story line is fun to follow as Mitch tries to ignore his desire and love for Ally who thinks he is pathetic until the first kiss. Vivian is an intriguing character though some readers will be turned off by the S&M bondage relationship between her and Kurt. Vicki Lewis Thompson takes nerds where they never gone before with this amusing North to Alaska tale.

The Ottoman Cage
Barbara Nadel
St. Martin's
ISBN 0312337698 $23.95, 218 pp.

In the upscale neighborhood of Ishak Pasa in Istanbul, Turkey, a neighbor sees an open door to a house that is occupied by an Armenian. She calls the police and the body of a twenty year old male covered with track marks and garroted is found. Inspector Cetin Ikmen is assigned the case and quickly notices that the young man was in a small apartment, separated from the rest of the mansion. The tenant Mr. Zekiyan is nowhere to be found. There is nothing in the apartment except a collection of crystal figurines. There are no fingerprints, DNA or trace elements to give a clue to who Mr. Zekiyan really is or who the victim was. The drug found in the victim's system is a synthetic form of heroin available only to doctors. Using informants, Inspector Ikmen discovers that a medical doctor is supplying drugs to male prostitute addicts. While the investigation concentrates on the medical profession, the killer sends the inspector crystal figures like those found in the dead man's home, daring him to uncover his identity. It is obvious that Barbara Nadel has a love affair with Turkey using the culture of the country as the basis for the murder mystery. The inspector is an interesting and complex protagonist who works himself to death so he doesn't have to cope with nine children, an ailing wife and a delusional father. Though a killer scorning police is old hat, the exotic locale adds an extra bit of spice to a thrilling police procedural that makes THE OTTOMAN CAGE a great treat for armchair travelers.

The Go-To Girl
Louise Bagshawe
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312339917 $13.95

Thirtyish Londoner Anna Brown considers herself too tall, too heavy, too muscular and has too big a nose. Her boss constantly reminds Anna that she is a lowlife assistant whose job is to fulfill her employer's demand. At home, she feels like a giantess as her roommates are petit models. Her boyfriend of three months breaks it off perhaps because she outweighs him by at least two and a half stone. As she learned several years ago, males always humiliate her. Anna meets award winning film director Mark Swan, who encourages her to write a script. As she falls in love with her mentor, her lack of self-esteem makes her unable to believe that this powerful handsome man who could have anyone fancies her wants her. When he refuses to help her sell her script, she knows why. Mark ponders how to persuade Anna that she is a beautiful swan who hides her best assets behind a veneer of unattractiveness and that he wants her for at least the next six decades. THE GO-TO GIRL is an interesting chick lit romance that emphasizes that the grass seems greener in someone else's yard. Anna is a solid protagonist though her constant declaration of being the centerfold for ugliness can become irritating. The support cast is a wonderful group as the women envy one another with each one thinking that she is a loser in the gender wars while the men who desire them including Mark struggle with understanding them. Fans will appreciate this novel that will remind the audience of John Grey's MEN ARE FROM MARS WOMEN ARE FROM VENUS.

Little Children
Tom Perrotta
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312315732 $13.95

The young suburban mothers watch their children playing together while mourning how tired they are. Each one dreads the fact that yesterday they were the children; today they are adults whose identity is defined through their relationship to their children. Sarah once dreamed of being the super feminist, but that was when being bisexual gave her double the pleasure. Todd (yes - some of the moms are men) dreams of his teen days as a super jock, but laundry and little ones consistently intercede though not as much as his demanding workaholic spouse who wants him to practice law. Mary Ann dreams of the future of her child attending Harvard even when she has her scheduled weekly sexual appointment with her husband. However, a predator has returned to their dreamy neighborhood. Ronnie, a convicted pedophile has just come home from prison. While Sarah and Todd try to recapture their youthful elan and idealism with each other, the preschool commanding officers rule over those enlisted with an iron hand. No hope remains for the future for those trapped in family bliss in the burbs. LITTLE CHILDREN is a terrific satire that takes a hyperbolic psychological look at suburban supermoms whose dreams seem so ancient history though only a few years have passed since they harbored them. The story line takes no prisoners as Tom Perrotta condemns those who choose convenience over living. However what keeps this tale interesting is that the moms are sympathetic characters that many boomers will associate first hand with as reflections on our own lives. In many cases this results in shattered idealism replaced by a cyclical is that all there is?

Perfect Desire
Leslie LaFoy
St. Martin's
ISBN: 031298765X $6.99, 346 pp.

In London, though frightened, Acadian Louisiana resident Isabella Dandoneau visits Lord Barrett Stanbridge to offer him a deal he cannot refuse. Barrett stands accused of killing Isabella's cousin Mignon Richard, who he had a brief but intimate relationship with until she was murdered; Isabella believes he is innocent and will help prove him so if he assists her in exploring his home where she believes a map to pirate treasure is buried. Isabella further explains that her grandmamma had an affair with Jean Lafitte and that the map would lead to millions. Though he feels he does not need her assistance, Barrett is intrigued by his visitor who looks very similar in appearance to Mignon, but seems much nicer; he agrees to her deal. As they work together to uncover the map and to find evidence of who really killed Mignon, Isabella becomes a target; however, Barrett will not allow anyone to harm the "Yank" that he loves. This Victorian romantic mystery is a perfect novel that will elate fans of historical tales who will seek out Leslie LaFoy's previous two stories from this fine trilogy (see PERFECT SEDUCTION and PERFECT TEMPTATION). The story line grips the audience from the moment that Isabella courageously tenders her transaction until the final altercation. Besides insight into the era, historiographic tidbits from the vantage point of post American Civil War looking back at the Battle of New Orleans (during the War of 1812) impart depth to a fine suspenseful who-done-it romance.

Beneath a Panamanian Moon
David Terrenoire
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312321317 $23.95

DC pianist John Harper used to work for some super duper top secret agency that even his former mentor Mr. Smith cannot mention. He enjoys his current life he is popular artist amongst the rich and famous, especially the wives. However, Mr. Smith visits Harper to inform him that a Panamanian resort hotel needs someone with his consummate piano playing skills with experience in explosives and arms a requisite requirement of the job. John says no as he does not want to return to the cold even in the tropics. No one says no to Mr. Smith so John heads to the resort to mingle amongst the guests until he obtains the information that Mr. Smith needs involving the training of an apparent revolutionary army. He must complete his mission quickly so that he can play a gig in DC by New Year's Eve and abort a revolt on the next day. He learns in a not so veiled threat by seemingly Columbian cartel thugs that his predecessor was "fired" when a shark had him for lunch. The nasties want to turn John into fish bait while the ladies want to play with his tune and Mr. Smith beats the drums waiting for answers. BENEATH A PANAMANIAN MOON is a wacky amusing espionage thriller that stars a likable offbeat hero as its centerpiece. The story line is all over the place as the humor at times overwhelms the spy plot. Fans of zany tales like some of the Southern Florida mysteries will appreciate this madcap spy thriller that is more focused than say Casino Royale (the movie) but much less than a Le Carre tale.

Hunter's Moon
Lori Handeland
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312991355 $6.99, 352 pp.

Following the slaughter of her parents and her fiance by werewolves, former kindergarten teacher Leigh Tyler lives to kill these vile monsters. Her elderly mentor Edward Mandenauer orders her to leave Canada to train a rookie Jessie McQuade in Crow Valley, Wisconsin. Reluctantly she heeds his demand, but upon arrival kills a werewolf. Leigh and Jessie are two alpha females ready to brawl at the drop of a hat. As Leigh learns that apparently a rogue werewolf is killing her kin, an unprecedented scenario, she is also upset that Jessie loves Native American history Professor Will Cadotte, as their line of work does not lend itself to caring relationships. However, she is unable to follow her own advice as she is extremely attracted to bartender Damien Fitzgerald though he shows traits that seem paranormal. This sequel to the delightful BLUE MOON is an excellent paranormal romance with the twist that the two tough guys are females. The story line contains a deep mystery as the werewolf hunters wonder why fratricide is occurring. Readers will enjoy the return of Jessie and Will (see BLUE MOON) while the romantic subplot between Leigh and Damien blends in well with the monster theme so that sub-genre readers will appreciate this deep supernatural suspense thriller.

Son of a Gun
Randye Lordon
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312291310 $23.95, 288 pp.

Domestic cases are the type that normally intrepid New York City private investigator Sydney Sloane avoids though not out of fear of being physically hurt. These scenes are too much like what her family life has always been, so mentally to difficult to deal with for some minor pittance. Although in reality, involuntarily Sydney seems always embroiled with dangerous scenarios involving members of her family from sister, brother, father mother, uncle to niece. She thanks god everyday that she is a lesbian or else she would add husband, boyfriend, and child to her list; so far her lover Leslie has made no sleuthing demands on her. Someone shoots New York Police Department Captain John Cannady, the father of Sydney's godchild. Not long afterward, as John lies in a Manhattan hospital in critical condition, his spouse Peggy receives a death call from someone insisting he is the son she gave away as a teen; the sinister caller insists murder of her and her loved ones will follow. Sydney voluntarily investigates the adopted child of Peggy while vowing to keep John's family safe, not realizing how dangerous her pledge is. This is a fabulous private investigative tale starring one of the bright lights of the Manhattan sleuthing universe. Sydney is a fantastic as she struggles with finding the lost son, keeping everyone safe, and dealing with family crisis like Aunt Minnie's latest plumbing issue all while Leslie is in California. The who-done-it is cleverly handled so that the audience sees Sydney at her best trying to resolve the case and having other woes. Randye Lordon provides another winning Sloane mystery.

The Magdalen Martyrs
Ken Bruen
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312316453 $22.95, 288 pp.

The finding business has proven quite dangerous for Jack Taylor, who is quite acrimonious that life has past him by with the worst time of the year being Christmas bad cheer for all the lonely people. Actually this season he feels less self pity than usual although his last case (see KILLING OF THE TINKERS) was more brutal than ever. He still needs to eat and drink (even if his binges mean hospital stays) and this is about all he can do since he and THE GUARDS departed. Cancer victim Bill Cassell calls in a favor from Jack, who owes the local kingpin. Bill orders Jack to locate Rita Monroe, "the Angel of the Magdalen" who helped his mother escape the appalling abuse of these church "prisons". Trying is not good enough as Bill's enforcer will cancel debts the old fashioned way if Jack fails or gets drunk. A second client surfaces as Terry Boyle hires Jack to prove that his father was murdered and the official accident report is a lie; instead he insists that his stepmother killed his dad. As Jack investigates both cases, he begins to find a link though he was not looking for one as the same police officer seems to surface in both inquiries. Jack is at his "rosy" antihero best struggling with sobriety to work both cases. The story line is action-packed and takes an intriguing twist (no olives) when the seemingly separate investigations merge sending Jack even further over the edge. Although alcoholism is taken perhaps too lightly, the look at the Church 1950s atrocities towards female wards is shocking (see Marita Conlon-Mckenna's historical fiction THE MAGDALEN for more). Readers will appreciate Ken Bruen's latest Taylor British Noir.

That Way Murder Lies
Ann Granger
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312338279 $23.95, 279 pp.

Meredith Mitchell is elated to see her friend Toby Smythe, temporarily home from overseas assignment, for the first time in a long time. However, Toby is not here on a friendship renewal visit. He needs a favor, but not from Meredith. Toby's relative Alison Jenner needs help as someone has been sending her hate mail that implies that she murdered her Aunt Freida Kemp over two decades ago; a crime that she was acquitted of doing by a court of law and never solved. She hopes that Toby can get Meredith's fiance Detective Superintendent Alan Markby to investigate who the loathing pen pal is. Markby wants to tell his beloved no as he dislikes Toby, and can rationalize that he is preoccupied by the upcoming wedding. However, he meets Alison, her spouse Jenner, and his daughter Fiona. Before he can follow up, someone murders Fiona. Though the cause of death is different from the Kemp killing the similar crime scenes make the murder seem somewhat like a copy cat first homicide. Markby ably assisted by new team member Jessica Campbell and amateurish by his fiancee and her friend, begins to unravel the current homicide whose roots go back twenty-five years ago when Frieda was killed. Anyone who enjoys a delightful English cozy that is a clever blending of amateur sleuth and police procedural will enjoy the Meredith-Markby tales. The latest tale is another strong entry as Markby and company investigate the current homicide that leads to the need to look at the first murder. The cast is wonderful and the new cop adds freshness to a fine who-done-it.

L.A. Kelly
ISBN 0800759990 $12.99, 336 pp.

Tahn kidnaps Lady Netta Trilett from her bedroom, but allows her to scream so that she awakens her family so that they will have a chance to save themselves because someone is going to torch the manor house. Tahn is supposed to take Lady Netta to his master Samis's fortress but he can't do that to a woman he cares about, a noble whose husband he killed. Netta fears him until he sneaks into Samis's stronghold and rescues the children that Saamis took off the streets so that he can train them to be assassins. She learns Samis took Tahn in as a child as he did many other children, made them fear him and then got them addicted to opium so they would not leave him. He raised a fearsome group of mercenaries who would kill for him. Baron Trent hired Samis's men to kill the Triletts because they were in the way of his being crowned king as they are widely beloved for their kindness and piety. Most of Netta's family died in the fire or were hunted down by the mercenaries. Tahn risks his life to keep the children and Netta safe; he knows Samis's thugs will eventually kill him, but for love it is worth it even if he believes it is unrequited. This historical romance is a fascinating work in which even the greatest sinner can be redeemed if he truly repents his misdeeds. Tahn is a tough warrior but also a shy and introverted man who always expects to be friendless and hated because he is an outsider. Netta's love warms his heart and he realizes that redemption and death are only a heartbeat away. L.A. Kelly writes a beautiful adult fairy tale with a deep moral message.

The Soul Weaver
Carol Berg
ISBN 0451460170 $7.99, 480 pp.

While Karon rules in Avonor on the world of Gondai, a place where magic is practiced openly; his wife Seri and their son Gerik live on the mundane world of Valleorn, where magic is stamped out whenever the anomaly appears. Gerick recovers from being held prisoner by the lords of Zhev'Na, powerful evil sorcerers. They hoped to break Gerick and make him one of them but his parents rescued him. In Avonor, Karon battles the Lords of Zhev'Na, a war that has been going on for a millennium. The only time he sees his wife and son is when he crosses D'Arnath's Bridge that links the two worlds. He takes Gerick to Avonor for a day and returns him to his mother. Not long afterward Karon believes Gerick betrayed his plans to the Lords. Gerick crosses the bridge into a new world whose people say he is their rightful king. He cares for these people, damaged, broken, but kind. Still he knows he must leave them to so he can root out the traitors that counsel his father. He also wants to use his knowledge to help Karon put an end to the Lords and bring peace to a world that knows only war. Carol Berg is one of those rare and talented fantasists who has the ability to create worlds out of her imagination, populates them with tortured but likeable characters and place them in realms that feel believable. After reading THE SOUL WEAVER readers will feel as if they have gone through an emotional wringer having empathized with the three main characters. This exciting finale brings to a close one of the best fantasy series in a long time.

Deathstalker Coda
Simon R. Green
ISBN 0451460111 $23.95, 384 pp.

When King Douglas made Lewis Deathstalker his Champion, he earned the enmity of the Paragon Finn who drove a wedge between the Emperor and his Champion. Eventually Lewis fled for his life and Finn became Emperor while Douglass hid in the Rookery, the worst part of the city; the former ruler is building up a rebel force to take Finn down. Meanwhile Lewis is on Haden with his girlfriend and two other allies. They enter the Madness Maze seeking to bring back to life legendary Owen Deathstalker, dead for over two centuries. Owen returns but not to fight Finn but to stop The Terror which is destroying worlds. The Terror is Owen's lover Hazel who went mad when Owen died and was transformed by the Madness Maze into a creature that destroys whole planetary systems. Owen, who is now able to defy the laws of space and time, follows her and hopes to bring her back to what she once was; Lewis gathers a space armada to deal with Finn in the air while Douglas deals with him on the land. Two subplots, one cosmic and the other the outcome of ordinary human evil yet both are necessary to make DEATHSTALKER CODA a superlative work of science fiction. Simon R. Green brings to a close THE DEATHSTALKER SAGA and leaves readers satisfied that they have read a book that will be considered a classic by future generations. This space opera is fantastic as the audience hopes, but will not know, whether the coda is a fine ending for the heroes and a righteous death for the villain.

Human Resource
Pierce Askegren
ISBN: 0441010792 $6.99, 288 pp.

The moon has been colonized with most of the residents working for Allied Lunas Combined (ALC), a conglomerate of corporations that spy on one another to steal the latest research and development designs. Erik Morrison is the new site coordinator for EnTek, a position he does not want and hopes is temporary. Morrison's predecessor Roger Caspian works for a rival firm, a taboo under the unwritten rules the corporations have established on the moon. Wendy Sheer of the Halo Base is involved in SETI (sentient extraterrestrial intelligence), who will use any means or method to find an ET out there. She has psionic power that makes people want to please her and uses her skill for intelligence gathering. She, Erik and others seeks Keith Ramirez, who possesses something that everyone covets. Book one of the Inconstant Moon trilogy explores living on the moon in e minute detail from traveling in domed "atmospheric" cars on the surface to residing underground and critically adjusting to much lower gravity than earth. Though a few readers will feel that this much insight overwhelms the action, most of the audience will be in awe of Pierce Askegren, who obviously has first hand knowledge of lunar residency. Morrison and Wendy are intriguing enigmatic characters who not quite antagonists, but come close at times. Readers who appreciate the depth of life on the moon will anxiously await the next tale from what looks like a terrific miniseries.

The Challenge
Susan Kearney
ISBN: 0765348918 $6.99, 388 pp.

Special Agent in Charge Tessa Camen is guarding the President of the United States (POTUS) when assassins attack. Tessa saves Madam President from the first assault getting her out of Jefferson Central High School, but the coordination with her team fails and she is alone. She gets POTUS to the car, but instead of one of her men as driver, a killer draws a gun. Tessa leaps in front of POTUS taking the bullet that kills the dedicated American agent. Tessa wakes up believing she must be in heaven as she finds herself with a hunk. The man explains that he is Khan of planet Rystan, the year 2324, and the United States of North America and earth need her services. Khan explains she was selected to take the challenge of the Federation of Planets that earth desperately needs to join to obtain technology that will save the planet by finally cleaning the environment. At first disbelieving, then turning doubtful and cynical, Tessa eventually accepts the challenge, but has doubts about the psychic skills needed for success. As Khan prepares her, they fall in love, but another species wants earth to fail and interfere with the test. THE CHALLENGE is a superb science fiction literally star-crossed romance that fans of both genres will fill enjoy. The story line is fast-paced, filled with action, and believable multiple species so that the audience will know they are in the twenty-fourth century. Tessa is a terrific heroine and Khan is her perfect mentor, lover, and sidekick. Susan Kearney soars to stardom with this sterling tale.

The Iron Tree
Cecilia Dart-Thornton
ISBN: 0765312050 $24.95, 400 pp.

Jarrod grew up in the village of R'shael of the Kingdom of Ashqaleth raised by his mother and her family as his father left them promising to return, but never did. His mother, aunt and friends believe that the talisman his sire left him protects Jarrod from harm even earthquakes. Between his mom and his aunt Jarrod is showered with love, but though he reveres and cherishes his relatives, he yearns to learn more about his patriarchal side. Now that he is of an age to journey into the monster laden countryside, Jarrod decides to seek out his father. On the quest, Jarrod meets Lilith, who expects to fall into madness like her grandfather and her mother did before her. She joins his quest with her own to find the cure to her family's affliction. As they work together confronting continual peril after peril, they fall in love. Even minor success like Jarred obtaining information about his paternal side places the duo in deeper danger if that is possible. The first tale of the Crowthistle Chronicles, THE IRON TREE, is a fantastic epic fantasy starring a coming of age champion and a magnificent heroine, both seeking information on their respective families. The story line makes believers of readers that in the Cecilia Dart-Thornton universe monsters seem genuine because some are compassionate while others are killers; humans and half-humans can be divided the same way with some being benevolent and helpful while others evil. This ability to make fantasy creatures and spells an accepted part of mortal life is what makes this action-packed saga terrific except for having to wait for book two.

Harriet Klausner
Senior Reviewer

Laurel's Bookshelf

A Summer Harvest
Scott Fields
ISBN 0976247100 $11.95 183 pages

This is one of those triumphant feel good stories rarely found in modern books. Simple. Honest. Uncomplicated. Heartwarming. The characters are as real and human as any I have enjoyed in recent memory. Scott Fields is a writer with promise, and one whose work I hope to read again.

Frank Watson is an irascible retired farmer toughing out a solitary existence. Life has been meaningless to Frank since his wife's unexpected death two years ago. Without Ida as the centerpiece of his life, he's lost interest in everything. His once well-kept farm home and yard have been neglected as he goes through the motions, interacting on a superficial level with family and long time friends. Adding to Frank's sorrow is a once proud, strong father reduced to living in a local nursing home. Each visit finds the elder Watson more dependent and confused, less the man he used to be.

Frank's daily trip to town for breakfast at Bob's Diner is the high point of each day. There he trades sometimes sarcastic, often profane ribbing with townfolk he's known all his life. Bob's Diner is the local gathering place where folks share gossip, enjoy good food. and discuss the depressed farm economy. Springfield, their home town, has been going downhill for years. Two catalysts force Frank Watson to step outside his grief. First comes news of a corporate egg farm and promises of "big money" for farmers willing to sell their property. Then a new waitress starts working at Bob's Diner. Pepper Ledley is young enough to be Frank's daughter but the chemistry between them is immediate and unmistakeable. Frank's life is turned upside down by his attraction to a younger woman. And he's the only man in town who suspects the big spending corporation is not the solution to Springfield's economic problems.

The charm of A Summer Harvest is in the minute details that comprise Frank Watson's life. With poignant toughness, humor, and single minded devotion to his past and future, Watson takes each obstacle head on. He's an unforgettable character, believable and true to his beliefs. I loved this book.

A Memoir
Terry de Valera
Currach Press
55A Spruce Ave. Stillorgan Industrial Park Blackrock Co. Dublin
U.S. distributor
ISBN 1856079112 $37.95 322 pages

As the youngest son of the President of Ireland, Terry de Valera experienced first hand the politics and struggles his famous father managed on a daily basis. In this amazing book, the author shares intimate details of Ireland throughout the 20th century. Events leading up to the Easter Rising of 1916, the Civil War of the 1920s, and World War II are thoroughly documented as de Valera weaves a rich and fascinating tapestry of the times. For this information alone the book is priceless, and yet the author gives readers so much more than simply a lesson in politics.

Born in 1922, the youngest of seven de Valera children, Terry grew up in a very different Ireland than exists today. Charming, chatty anecdotes reveal fascinating tidbits of everyday life in the twenties and thirties when the atmosphere and standards of Irish society were far removed from what they are today. Formality of dress and social interaction, rudimentary treatments for medical conditions, experiencing death and funerals, and listening to news on the wireless radio are but a few reminiscences adding interest to this book. The author also shares tender memories of childhood in an unspoiled and undeveloped countryside, as well as his years at Blackrock College. His recollections of rugby games, struggles with Latin, and trips to the confessional enlighten and entertain. But the meat of de Valera's memoir concerns the life and times of his father.

The author clearly states one purpose of his memoir is to correct long held beliefs about his father. For example, Eamon de Valera has been portrayed rather unsympathetically as a man without humor or humanity. Information from those who knew him best proves the one time President of Ireland and the League of Nations to be a man of great strength with passionately held loyalties and beliefs, a man quick to apologize and forgive.

Through the notes of Terry's mother, Sinead de Valera contributes powerful commentaries about the life she shared with Eamon. She tells of his many imprisonments due to hard stands against British controls of Irish freedoms. Of particular interest were details of their friendship with Michael Collins and why Collins signed the treaty in de Valera's absence. Her notes address in detail the Gaelic League, Sinn Fein, and secret plans the Allies devised to pressure Ireland into joining them in World War II. I found Mrs. de Valera's contributions to this book to be invaluable.

It's impossible to cover in review the information found in Terry de Valera's memoir. In essence, the author looks back with grace on a long life lived with humor and honesty, providing pieces to a picture of his famous father who was President of an Ireland long gone.

Crippled Dreams
David Rehak
Just My Best, Inc.
1746 Dailey Rd. Wilmington OH 45177
ISBN 1932586121 $15.98 110 pages

David Rehak's books are never a clone of the familiar genre fiction we find on shelves these days. His writing style is reminscent of the 19th century and very European in flavor. Rehak's work is different, his topics off center just enough to add a sense of intriguing unpredictablity into the read. This third book by David Rehak, while a different subject, clearly reflects his unique voice as writer.

The setting of Crippled Dreams is rural France in the 1870s. The Prussians have swept through the bucolic countryside, raping and destroying as they go. Rose Petit is one of their helpless victims. Eight months pregnant, with her husband fighting away from home, she's set upon by four Prussian soldiers bent on claiming Rose and her farm as spoils of war. When Rose defies them, they beat her mercilessly and leave her for dead. Her first born son is physically damaged from the beating and born paralyzed in both legs.

Rose loves her crippled son, Alexandre, and lavishes him with mother love from birth. Even when her husband Paul returns from war and a second son, Gustave, is born, Alexandre receives the lion's share of her love and attention. Through such loving attentions, Rose hopes her crippled son's soul will be made fine, if not his ruined body.

As Alexandre ages, his bitterness and hopeless rage increase incrementally. He silently observes the world around him, filled with healthy, happy people with unimpaired bodies, and curses a God who picks and chooses who He blesses. He blasphemes God at every opportunity and refuses to believe Rose's assurances of a loving Heavenly Father. His feelings of resentment come to full flower when Gustave starts courting Marie-Anne Godard. Marie-Anne is a beauty, with billows of dark hair and flashing eyes that reveal a captivating spirit.

Alexandre dreams of finding true love with his brother's fiancee but accepts her loyal friendship as a poor substitue. When Gustave discovers that Alexandre and Marie-Anne have become close friends, his temper sets off a situation that ends in horrible tragedy. In the aftermath, nothing can be done to lessen Alexandre's despair. Only God's grace and mercy can heal a crippled body, mind, and spirit, but can a loving God reach Alexandre?

David Rehak takes common situations and transforms them to uncommon through his use of words and his development of interesting characters. If you are tired of the same old genre fiction, check out Crippled Dreams.

Azucar's Sweet Hope Her Story Continues
Alan Cambeira
P.O. Box 151 Frederick MD 21705
ISBN 1413743404 $19.95 188 pages

In this second novel in the Azucar Trilogy, Alan Cambeira once again works prosaic magic as a story teller. Lush Caribbean locales, a seductive story line, and clearly defined characters kept me riveted from page one. Cambeira's style is beguiling. Azucar's Sweet Hope picks up several years after book one ends. Azucar Ferrand-St. Jacques and her soulmate Lucien have formed a powerful international consotium in their efforts to attract tourists to the Caribbean. This beautiful, successful, and determined couple is protected by powerful island spirits and a seemingly endless supply of money. Despite unparalleled success in business, neither has forgotten the squalid roots from which they came. Azucar, in particular, never forgets her childhood of poverty, exploitation, violence, and abuse. She is determined to make life better for those who must labor long hours under a merciless tropical sun. Sugar cane fields and European-owned plantations have given way to pricey tourist hideaways. Still, laborers struggle daily with unimaginable horrors and hardships that persist in their island paradise. With their latest business venture, Azucar and Lucien plan to pay workers well, treat them humanely, and create new financial channels into impoverished areas. Their idealistic plans are threatened from the outset. First, wealthy tourists - members of the influential Montalvo family - are horribly murdered, victims of a kreyol ritual. Sociopolitical tensions result from these unsolved murders while a displaced work force of discontented sugar cane workers rebel against decadent consumerism. Will outside forces ruin Azucar's plans? And will she betray beneficial island spirits to achieve her goals? Azucar's Sweet Hope is a realistic picture of what happens when greedy, racist businessmen and politicians combine forces to gain wealth and power. The result, as always, is the raping of a country's resources and ruination of the poor who serve as laborers. Cambeira writes honestly, with powerful, persuasive prose. Through his words, inhumanity and hope, beauty and sadism, love and squallor come alive in the island paradise he loves.

Lucky Strike
Nancy Zafris
Unbridled Books
ISBN 1932961046 $23.95 352 pages

Nancy Zafris' credentials are impressive: Flannery O'Connor award winner for her short story collection; recipient of a New York Times Notable Book designation for her first novel; and fiction editor for The Kenyon Review. This latest book should further cast Ms. Zafris' credentials in stone. The strength of Lucky Strike is thanks in part to its quirky cast of characters. Each one is distinctly drawn and wholly human. Cementing these characters together is the author's considerable skill as story teller. The location is Utah in the 1950s. Widow Jean Waterman has fled west with her two children in search of the motherlode. Pamphlets distributed by the government promise that searching for uranium is profitable and fun. And a friendly Atomic Energy Commission promises to stand behind each treasure seeker, underwriting every expense. It's supposed to be that simple. Jean's precocious twelve year old son Charlie is ill. Their trip from Ohio to Utah in search of uranium is an adventure she hopes he will enjoy. Her ten year old daughter Beth is blessed with imagination and a flair for the dramatic. Once they've set up a rough camp in the wilds of Utah, the adventure begins in earnest. In short order, strangers become friends and certain friends prove to be less than trustworthy by book's end. Harry Lindstrom is a traveling salesman, selling geiger counters and other equipment necessary to hopeful uranium hunters. Harry is a lapsed Mormon, a lonely man whose unresolved past haunts his present. From first meeting, he sees himself as protector of Jean and her children. Jean has issues of her own to contemplate, but sees in Harry a kindred spirit seeking shelter from life's unpredictability. Jo and Leonard Dawson play the role of squatters at Jean's campsite. Leonard is a bully, Jo a browbeaten woman who discovers there is strength in numbers. Jimmy Splendid is a handsome mine owner, a natural born lady's man who sees Jean as easy prey. Belinda Dazzle owns a motel populated only by three aging sisters and an occasional wandering tourist. Belinda gives far more than she receives from life and seeks comfort in whiskey. She and Jimmy have a history, but lately her interest has focused on the bashful Harry. Vincent Flaherty is a money man who hides his insecurities behind scholarly humor. With his helicoptor, huge belly, and toothpick legs, Jean's children are drawn to Flaherty by their curious natures. These characters - and others equally interesting - come together in an age of innocence, before humans fully understood the effects of radiation. They pool their strengths and offset each other's weaknesses as they work towards the common goal of hitting a lucky strike. This was a book of many fascinating layers. Ms. Zafris draws her readers into complicated corners of the human mind, revealing thoughts and hopes with humor and insight. I cared about the characters and their individual fates. That's what good writing is all about.

The Anguish of the Blacksmith's Forge
Larry Jaffe
US Troubador Publishing Ltd.
ISBN 1904744567 $15.00 74 pages

Often the finest discoveries come about inadvertently, by chance. Such is the case with Larry Jaffe's poetry. As poet and otherwise, Jaffe's credentials are impeccable. He is the International Readings Coordinator for the United Nations Dialogue Among Civilizations through Poetry Project. He co-founded Poets for Peace. His work has been translated into many languages and is read around the world. Long time fans celebrate the release of a new book by Larry Jaffe. I regret not discovering him sooner. So where to begin with a review? Poem I is a good start: A woman materializes from the sea he risks all hope on a smile. Simple. Clearly expressed in a way that both characters come to life before our eyes. Minimalist, perhaps, but not minimizing, as in a following poem that is almost haiku-like in its design: They speak with fingers A teared cheek smiles. Jaffe writes of love -- its deepest pains and grandest blessings -- as in this excerpt where a loving encounter: replaces his emptiness baptizes his body with her own... And when love goes wrong, sorrow smothers out every other aspect of life: she works goodbyes into his emerging scars. Despite the bereft lover's sorrow, there is a wonderful humor in his thought processes: He sings her name in bed every night like an old rock and roll song. This lesson in forgetting is not very practical.

Jaffe describes the poems in this book as "minimalist." I found his poems to be simple but eloquent, rich with meaning and easily understood. Anyone who ever loved or needed love should read these poems. They're forged from Larry Jaffe's heart.

Breath and Bones
Susann Cokal
ISBN 1932961062 $23.95 384 pages

The press release accompanying my review copy of Breath and Bones states the book is "perfect for book clubs, summer reading, fiction fans, historical fiction fans, and people who just love a great story." That press release was certainly not an exaggeration of this book's appeal. As a story, Breath and Bones is definitely unique. As wordsmith, Ms. Cokal is a standout. I literally devoured this book, enticed by her skill to keep reading from first page to last. The heroine, Famke Summerfugl, is left as an infant on the doorstep of a Catholic orphanage in Denmark. Even as a newborn she's strong willed, a trait that increases as she grows into a beautiful child and then a flame haired adolescent. Sister Birgit adores Famke and makes allowances for her willful charge from infancy onward. But when her curiosity about fellow orphan Viggo Hart leads to inappropriate sensuousness, Famke is expelled from the convent to work as a farm laborer. The free thinking beauty despises cleaning barnyards and tending geese, so when Albert Castle comes by in a rented flower covered carriage, she leaves the farm and moves in with him. Albert is a painter, a rich man's son who lives on stipends provided by his father. With her youthful curves, striking blue eyes, and glorious red hair, Famke is the ideal artist's model and lover. Through paint on canvas, she is transformed by Castle into an ethereal Nordic goddess. When Albert returns to England without her, Famke is forced to fend for herself in an unfamiliar world. She works briefly as a housemaid, where she meets an American Mormon. Famke has nothing to fall back on but youth and beauty, and soon learns that such attributes speak a universal language. Heber Goodhouse is a Mormon missionary, converting Danes to his religion. From the moment he meets Famke, Heber is determined she will be wife number three, while she is determined to follow Albert to America. Without money, her options are limited. She marries Heber Goodhouse and sails with him into a new adventure. Her impressions of America are priceless, as they travel from New York to Utah by train in the last half of the nineteenth century. Heber's two dowdy wives are not pleased to have a nubile redhead in their midst. Goodhouse is a kindly husband, a man prone to failed money making schemes. He isn't young and handsome like Albert, but far surpasses him as lover. Despite her enjoyment of their marriage bed, Famke is determined to travel the American west until she finds Albert. Through wild and terrifying terrain, from boomtowns to ghost towns, Famke follows Albert's path from one bordello to another by masquerading as a man for her protection. She finds his paintings throughout the western territories, meeting unforgettable characters of all stripes in her travels. Famke adapts to her vagabond life by doing what she must to survive, but always with a strong sense of where she's been and what she wants. She wants to be held by Albert again, to be his model and share his life. By the time she reaches California Territory, a cough she's had since childhood has become consumptive. Fate places her at the home of Edourd Versailles. Versailles is a millionaire and self-proclaimed healer of consumptives who has dedicated his life to that end. Famke's beauty has faded due to deprivation and disease. She's nothing but breath and bones. Still, Versailles is enamored of her from the start. His treatment plan is slightly unorthodox for the times. Along with laudanum, soothing baths, fresh air and sunlight, he introduces Famke to his miracle cure -- electrical stimulation of the most delightful sort. He calls his unorthodox cure "hygienic crisis." And a most pleasurable crisis it is, indeed. But even the pleasures of opium and hygienic crisis several times a day cannot hold Famke in one spot for long. As soon as strength and health return, she's off to search for Albert once again. You'll have to read the book to learn the final chapter. All major characters come together at the end in one way or another. Throughout, Ms. Cokal blends fascinating characters and locations, humor and history into a splendid tale of an amazing woman and her travels. And she accomplishes the telling of her story in grand style.


Gertler is a best selling writer, author of four books so far, the latest of which is The Windmill. Her writing style and story telling ability impressed me, so I requested an interview through Ms. Gertler's publicist, Yolanda Carden of FSB Associates.

Johnson: How long have you been writing novels?

Gertler: My first novel, Jimmy's Girl, was written in 1999. I had a "day job" back then as a freelance feature writer for several newspapers and magazines. I wrote the book in the middle of the night (from say midnight to 3 a.m. after the kids and my husband went to sleep). It took me 15 months to write, and it was published in February 2001. As I wrote, I didn't consciously think that I was really writing a novel as much as I was just writing. It sort of "morphed" into a novel...and became an addiction until it was finished.

Johnson: Your online publicist, Yolanda Carden, is quite gracious. Do you also have an agent?

Gertler: Yes, Yolanda is terrific - gracious and quiet and yet prolific when it comes to publicity for me and my books. My agent is Stephanie Rostan of Levine Greenberg. The woman who was the agent for the four Dutton novels and the Hyperion nonfiction is Marcy Posner of The Marcy Posner Literary Agency.

Some unsolicited advice for budding writers: Writers need agents! A good agent knows where to offer your unpublished book, and serves as a liaison between author and publisher, and handles all those nasty mundane issues... like contracts.

Johnson: Your characters in The Windmill were strong and well developed. How do you conceive your characters?

Gertler: Oh, thank you. I am often sad when I come to the end of the book because I miss those characters. They come naturally - from what I am going through or witnessing in my life at the time that I am writing the book. It would be false to say they were/are entirely fictional, and not parts of me and those close to me. They become so much a vehicle for what I am feeling at the time I am writing. They are as much the story as the plot and the theme. For example, in The Windmill, I had a strong sense of past and the present, as I often do since I believe so profoundly that the past defines us. Additionally, I was going through a period of self-effacement as well as disillusionment: Carl embodied the part of my husband that felt disengaged to me; Olivia embodied the part of me who felt a compulsion to face my deepest feelings and fears. Olivia's parents had the kind of marriage and relationship I longed for; and both Olivia and Carl's mothers were the type of women/mothers both genders need at times in life when we are not feeling whole - and the kinds of mothers who ultimately can help in making us feel complete, although the task of self-completion rests primarily within ourselves. The characters, you see, tell the story just being who they are.

Johnson: Locations in The Windmill were described so clearly I could see them as I read. Do you research locations for your books on site?

Gertler: Oh, yes - I do research the locations for my books - quite extensively. Sense of place is key when I write. It almost becomes a character as well. I love the water, so there's always a place near the ocean or a lake...One of The Windmill's backdrops is Cape Cod -- my cousin Judy is a longtime Chatham resident and helped enormously with all kinds of local tidbits I might otherwise not have known. The fictional town of Willow is based on South Hadley, Massachusetts - and of course, Manhattan is my hometown. I transport myself to the venues in the books...sometimes, when I'm in the throes of a novel, I actually feel like I am "there" - and wish I were.

Johnson: I really like your writing style - your voice as a writer. Did you study writing on any level, at any time in your life?

Gertler: Thank you very much. I studied journalism at New York University, but I have never formally studied "writing a novel." I love to read, though and that's the greatest tool when writing. And I love to observe and listen (although my daughter says I observe people much too obviously, and that I am given to staring - isn't that dreadful?). Basically, I write the way I would tell someone a story. Truly, writing is like breathing for me.

Johnson: You've had five books published so far. Do you have a favorite among them?

Gertler: My favorite...probably The Windmill at the moment because it is the one closest to my own heart right now. It reflects my life in an eerie way and truly augured what was to come-- with a happy ending though ...The Windmill helped me to unravel, and clarified what I hold dear... Writing a novel is also cathartic for me and always runs parallel somehow to "real life."

Johnson: Do you have any new books in the works? If so, can you give us a hint what to expect?

Gertler: Much to my dismay, I have two synopses going for novels at the moment and about 100 pages written of one of the novels...Alice McDermott (Charming Billy, That Night, among others once said she does this and I never understood how - and still can't!)

One novel is about a twenty-five-year-old marriage that is in transition, and falls apart when the husband runs off with another and younger woman. It's written in the first person from only the wife's point of view, and although the subject sounds like "old hat," it's not (gee, I hope not) written as something trite. It explores many ramifications of marriage, understanding, anger, and forgiveness...

The other novel, is about a woman who tries to shake the notion heaped upon her for her entire adult life that she has to be a perfect individual...aren't so many of us women just such overachievers, trying to juggle being a wife, mother, and professional? I think this Superwoman status is epidemic among us -- until we hit a certain age, the kids grow up, the dogs pass on, and we feel a need to cut loose and go back to being our carefree, less-than-perfect selves.

There's a fifth book coming out in February but it's a nonfiction called To Love, Honor and Betray: The Secret Life of Suburban Wives (Hyperion) co-authored with my friend Adrienne Lopez.

Johnson: In addition to your career as author, you are a newspaper columnist. How did that position come about?

Gertler: In 1996, I was working for a chain of newspapers in Connecticut. We were starting up a weekly in the town of Wilton. I was a lifestyles editor and had an idea for a that would be chatty and intimate and talk about "life" - I called it These Days and it's been running ever since -- but now runs in The Stamford Advocate and The Greenwich Time. It's like writing in a diary of sorts - and hopefully, my readership can relate to it in the sense that it reassures everyone that none of us are unique in what we go through and how we feel...about life "These Days."

Johnson: Our readers have learned about Stephanie Gertler the writer. Do you mind sharing a bit about yourself outside the realm of writing?

Gertler: My passion besides writing is dancing. I take jazz dance three to four times a week. It's so great - I am a diva those few times a week and just love the music, the moves, the teacher and the women in the class. It's my drug! As I said, I love to read, of course. And listening to music -- all and decorating my house. Spending time with my girlfriends - just sitting around and drinking wine and talking and eating sushi! And of course, my family. They're always my first priority and what and who I enjoy the most and cherish above all else.

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

Gertler: I can't think of anything you haven't asked, and I enjoyed this interview immensely. It's so nice to know there are still so many readers out there. Thank you for this opportunity to connect with them.

Johnson: Thank you for agreeing to the interview, Stephanie. I appreciate your time. For more information about Stephanie Gertler or to subscribe to her newsletter, check out her website at

Interviewer note: I ran across the poetry of Christina Pacosz at and wanted to read more of her work. After reading several of her books and learning her history, I knew she would be a fascinating interview subject. Christina Pacosz is a poet well known in the 70s and 80s whose work is as meaningful today as it was then. Copies of her books can be found in many library systems and online bookstores. Her words are powerful and need to reach a new generation of readers. Ms. Pacosz' poetry is as timely today as it was thirty years ago.

Laurel: I've never known a writer who spent so many seasons as Visiting Artist or Poet in Residence. Your appearances attracted thousands, which surely must have been gratifying. Tell us about that experience. What were your responsibilities?

Christina: I had worked as a poet-in-the-schools in Washington state and for the arts commission of the city of Portland, Oregon before I moved to Tennessee to try to help my folks in their situation, which was dire, so I applied to work as an artist-in-the-schools in South Carolina and eventually as a Visiting Artist in North Carolina. There was no work in Tennessee, though I was juried into their arts program as well. My training was a Bachelor of Science with a major in Special Education and I had taught in my home state of Michigan and then in Oregon when I first moved to the Pacific Northwest in 1973.

I love teaching writing to anyone, really, but kids in particular, it was that simple. I would still prefer doing only that. I had all the fun and none of the drudgery or heartache of teaching. I have files of students writing saved over the decades.

Then, the Visiting Artist program accepted me, and I was working with adults at two community colleges in North Carolina and nonprofit groups in their service areas, too. It was a heady time. I met my second husband, Larry Rollings, when I first moved from Coker Creek, Tennessee to Lancaster, S.C.

There was still some Springs (textile) money left, though no longer enough to host a writer-in-residence full time. Ron Padgett had been the last poet to officially hold that position. We corresponded for a time as I recall, but the house fire in Lancaster in 1987 (ten months after my mother died) that killed my father, destroyed my correspondence and books and all the meager artifacts of my life and my family's life that I had tried to salvage. I have been "diving into the wreck" for most of my life. (That's a quote from Adrienne Rich, one of my favorite poets.)

I journeyed to Poland and Haiti while I was a Visiting Artist in 1986 and 1987, respectively. Searching out my family and ethnic roots. Wojciech Jaruszelski was still in charge. The wall was still up. I studied Polish-Jewish relations at the Jagiellonian University in Krakow before Schindler's List was printed in the states. I remember reading a British version in my dorm in Krakow. I also visited relatives on both sides of my family, including my father's sister and her son and daughter-in-law on the family farm in economically troubled southeastern Poland.

Poles had been part of Napoleon's invading army in Haiti and after the revolution were offered citizenship by Dessalines. I managed to get to one of the villages where their descendants were still living. Cazales, about 60 kilometers from Port-au-Prince. I have a book-length, creative nonfiction manuscript that outlines this experience and contrasts it with my familial history, A Simple Story. Some chapters have appeared here and there, but no one seemed to want the whole thing, at the time the genre was rare, though now everyone is writing such material. I haven't had the heart to do much with any promotion. My health is not that good. Nothing that will kill me, thankfully, but the spinal stenosis and fibromyalgia make even teaching full time problematic, though I must continue to do so. (I fractured my T-12 vertebrae as a junior in high school while on an American Youth Hostel weekend that winter. Someone took the toboggan I was seated on down a tree-lined slope and we hit a tree.) I have no time or energy to "toot my own horn" as I used to say when I did have time to promote my writing and get reading gigs, which are important in keeping your name out there.

Laurel: You've lived and worked in diverse areas of this country and traveled overseas. Your poetry reflects this diversity. Give us an overview of where you've visited or lived.

Christina: Well, to continue with the travelogue, though I have rarely been what one would call a tourist, Larry and I moved to Alaska together not too long after my four-year stint with the Visiting Artist program was finished. We hated leaving Madison County, North Carolina, but again, work was difficult to find, and I had always wanted to live in Alaska. Larry had lived there during his Vietnam-era Army service (before I met him) and he wanted to return. I was juried into their artist program but there was no work to support me like I had been able to do down south, so I returned to teaching in a public school in Delta Junction, Alaska, the terminus of the Al-Can Highway (which was built by black men, a very interesting, little-known story). (And also where Bush's Star Wars is being staged now. I imagine most of the residents are happy with that fact as the town was likely to fold up shop; I am glad we are no longer there.) Like so many others from the Gold Rush to the present, we couldn't make it in Alaska and blue-tarped it back down south after two years, to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Talk about contrasts! My brother, Richard Pacosz, was living there with his twin sons, Anthony and Daniel, who were preschoolers at the time. I tried to get work as a poet-in-the-schools but the red was off my candy apparently and I didn't manage to get much, just a bit on Hilton Head from a woman who was running the arts program there who had always liked my work. For a time I sold suncatchers in a mall that had been built after a grove of live oak were illegally knocked down to do so. An Italian family from Poughkeepsie hired me. I was grateful for the work. Eventually, we had to leave the coast and headed upstate to Clover, S.C.

A friend from Asheville (who had been the recreational therapist at the institution where Zelda Fitzgerald had died in the fire and had invited me to do a number of writing workshops with patients when I was Visiting Artist) now was director of foster care for Lutheran Family Services. There was a part time opening in Gastonia, N.C. right across the state line; she was amazed to find my resume crossing her desk. My "run" at poetry work was definitely over. I was a foster care social worker for less than a year. But what an education into the conditions of foster care in the United States! I rocked the boat often with my philosophy aligned with the German psychiatrist and writer, Alice Miller, who emphasizes the importance of being a witness in a child's life. I took a stand especially on behalf of a Jewish toddler (his grandfather was a rabbi) the state of North Carolina wanted to permanently take from his mother; I was fired. My friend was no longer my supervisor; no one had my back. I did manage to make sure that this child was returned to his mother, so the sacrifice was worth it. Monetarily, however, this meant that Larry and I ended up declaring bankruptcy. The loss of that job was the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back, though I did work for a little bit longer as a tutor at a teen crisis shelter.

In the spring of 1997, we moved to Kansas City because Larry's sister and her husband were living there at the time and owned a 50 plus unit apartment building where we stayed for almost 7 years. I had not lived in an apartment setting since college. This was a difficult place, actually, right off two freeways and above two major arterials, too. I felt like the trucks gearing down for the freeway split were in my bedroom with me. Several people were brutally murdered in 2 separate incidents the last year we lived there. I was so glad we moved to mid-town, where Jean Harlow is from and Walt Disney had his first studio. I could feel a sense of space again, though the old houses are pretty close together. There are still a lot of trees and freeways are a couple miles off. I can't do much driving due to my health conditions and everything I need is close by.

Last year the week my brother died in Tennessee and I went to deal with the awful aftermath, our landlord, who was letting the house run into the ground, proposed to Larry that we buy the property we had been renting. The house is a hundred years old and not as big as some of the dwellings designed during the Craftsman era, but it has some wonderful touches. Someone terraced the backyard with bergenia, a plant that riots with pink bloom in the spring. There is a very old chinkapin oak in the back and a silk tree out front. The odor of mimosa blossoms in my bedroom is such a blessing in the spring and early summer.

After much soul-searching we decided, finally, to buy the place, though neither of us had ever intended on remaining in Kansas City as homeowners. A twist of fate, I guess. I have never "owned" any real property before but I have no retirement except social security and harbor some small hope that with a bit of renovation and repair, which we have begun already, I could make a bit more on my "nest egg" than what I would get keeping the cash in the credit union. My early years had been spent journeying and working like Gary Snyder and the beats. Now I am "home" in a strange sort of way. I am not a part of any art or literary community, though I have tried here and there to become involved, without much luck. Most of the writers like me left long ago. A few years before his death William Burroughs moved to Lawrence, Kansas about 30 miles away, and I have always understood why. I can hear the trains most days and there is something about the Plains that has always inspired me. I do miss living on the coasts, but I am in touch with the ancient Niobrara Sea here and the water constantly running in the limestone. The tsunami on Boxer Day actually affected ground water here in Missouri!

Larry has had steady employment here and I have always managed to find work, too, though Missouri doesn't seem to have much of an artist-in-the-schools program. I have been teaching both sides of the state line in various schools for about 8 years. I worked part-time for almost 2 of those years at North Kansas City Public Library as a desk clerk, which I enjoyed, but I could never manage to make it into a better paying position with the bigger library systems in the area. I am now teaching in my third charter school, hoping it is the charm, but who knows?

Laurel: The depth of feeling in your poetry is often stunning, your meanings clear and easily understood. How do your ideas come to you?

Christina: Usually a line or two primes the pump. Sometimes in a dream, sometimes awake. And I am able to go down to the water and bring up words a la Dylan Thomas who was an early influence. As were T.S. Eliot, Yeats, Snodgrass, Ferlinghetti, Bob Dylan, Carson McCullers, Richard Wright, Rachel Carson. Katherine Anne Porter. I am talking high school here. As a child I was influenced by Latin chant and Polish Koledy (carols) when I sang in my Catholic church choir in Detroit.

My earliest influences were my mother, Sophia Kostrzewski Pacosz, and my father, Walter Frank Pacosz. Sophia wrote down my earliest stories and taught me to believe in (and see!) fairies and other wonders and eventually told me the awful tales of her life when I was an adult woman. Walter mesmerized me with his tales of two countries, Missouri and Poland. He remembered huddling with the other children behind mattresses stuffed into the windows of the boarding house my grandmother, Ewa Cholody Paczos Miazga ran in Leadwood for other Slavic immigrants working in Missouri lead mines like my grandfather Antoni Paczos who had come to Missouri in 1905 after being recruited. There was no work and no land for the komorniki in Poland. That is a term that means essentially the same as "masters of the dew" which is the title of a novel by Jacques Roumain, a Haitian writer.

The Lead Belt Riots of 1917 drove my people out. My father grew up in Poland. Anti-immigrant laws sound familiar? kept him and his mother out of the U.S. even though he was a citizen until early December, 1929. A very bad time to return. I learned about this sad story of the other literally at my father's knee while we sat on the porch on Piedmont Street in the Polish ghetto of Detroit's West Side. I have been able to do more research about these events, especially since moving to the state, but I have never actually met anyone who recalls those times or any of their children, either. I wish I could.

I went to New York City in 1965 during my first year of college to have my baby and give her up for adoption. (She is 39 now, the mother of 2, living in Hong Kong, where her husband is president of his German company. We are in touch now, wonderfully so, but for many years it was like she was dead to me and I sorrowed horribly. I have no other birth children.)

We lived in Corona, Queens and I took the el into Manhattan for a class in a loft on the Lower East Side at the first Free University in the country. Tuli Kupferberg was the teacher; Ed Sanders was a guest. I loved the Fugs, their band. There is a book about that time, All Poets Welcome: The Lower East Side Poetry Scene in the 1960s, by Daniel Kane, published by University of California, 2003.

Inclusion is the foundation of my world-view. As a poet, a woman, a teacher, an activist, a cultural worker. A human being.

Laurel: As a writer with many books to her credit, how is today's market different from the 70s and 80s, in your opinion?

Christina: In the late 1970's I drove the Plains Books Bus through 5 states in the Upper Midwest because I was so immersed in small press culture and I wanted to promote the writing and writers like Meridel LeSueur, Thomas McGrath, Frederick Manfred, Cary Waterman. I drove a 29 foot Barth motor home with my half-Basenji, Bonzo, for company, to small towns and large cities promoting writers and writing from North and South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, and Wisconsin. Plains and I parted company because, once again, too many were left off the gleaming wood folding shelves built by Amish craftsmen. Few women and fewer black or Native American writers made it through the volunteer reader screening process that I proposed to open up. No one was interested. Eventually the gas crisis of the 80's hit and the nonprofit distribution via bus had to shut down as did a few other similar ventures in the country that had hoped to bring regional writers to their communities in another way beside traditional books stores, etc. B. Dalton's helped underwrite the Plains Book bus for a while.

When I taught British Literature last year and we attempted (that's another story) to read Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, I realized how this quintessential tale of the other and one of the most famous novels ever published would never have made it in today's publishing world with its strictures of grabbing the reader in the first sentence. Shelley doesn't really begin her story for a hundred pages or more, but starts with important background information for a discerning reader with time. Obviously more time than we have now.

I was lucky enough to study with Margaret Atwood at Centrum twice. This was in the early '80's. She is a very humble writer. She said she made it in Canada because, first of all, there weren't very many writers in the country at that time, and hardly any women writers at all. She said she would very likely never have made it in the US because even then there were so many more of us scribblers on this side of the border. I also remember she said that self-help books and cookbooks were surefire winners. That hasn't changed. Neither genre interested me, of course, though I do like to cook when I have the time to do so.

Now there is even more competition from thousands of MFA graduates!

When I promoted my writing I really thought I would be a part of what would bring everyone to the banquet table. I weep to think about all the energy I devoted to such ideals. Now as I approach my sixtieth year, I am a citizen of a country run by ransacking, looting thugs and war criminals destroying the planet. Too late to run to Canada, though that was contemplated more than once in my life.

I thought that the guns and uniforms would be trampled to the ground by now like that old movement song I used to sing with such youthful fervor when I went to cold houses near Wayne State University as a high school student and studied with people in the Student Peace Union (that eventually became SDS) who were going to build a truly new world.

Laurel: From your experience, what can a contemporary poet do to gain even regional recognition?

Christina: Stay put (smile) and become a part of a community of writers where you will gain recognition for your writing by being involved in readings and other literary activities. I was able to do this in two regions, the Pacific Northwest and the Southeast.

The internet has been very good to me. If my work achieves anything resembling posterity, it will be because of the worldwide web. That is if electricity is available in the future. Lots of ifs. But, for now, thanks be to poets like Klyd Watkins, who does the web site for keeping my work out there.

Laurel: A couple of your books are out of print. Have you considered second editions through different publishers?

Christina: No, actually, never, though I do have the proofs/plates for This Is Not a Place to Sing. Not sure that almost 20 years later it would do me any good. We hauled that box around the country and back again. But the technology is different now. I still have a few of those books, too, if anyone out there wants to buy them from me at quite a discount.

I wish I could interest publishers in some of my other unpublished manuscripts, both prose and poetry. Especially my novel, The Moon It Gives No Light, a fictional account of the murder in June, 1970 of Nancy Morgan, a VISTA volunteer in Madison County, North Carolina. I immersed myself in her story while living in the area and have always regretted that the work, which is finished, and has won a Heekin award and other little bits here and there, never made it into print. I did the whole 9 yards for promotion, including researching and querying agents according to Poets and Writers and Writers Market, the Hoyle of the literary world. The only one who was interested couldn't take on a new writer and when I wrote to her a few years later, she had died. A lot of my life has been like that. Dead ends.

I have also been blessed with people like Jennifer Bosveld at Pudding House who published my chapbook, One River, in 2001, and poet/artist, David Chorlton, who recommended me for the Greatest Hits series, which Jennifer put out in 2002.

Laurel: Do you have any new writing projects in the works?

Christina: No, unfortunately, my health and energy do not seem to allow me to focus on writing much. Just sitting at the computer writing these answers to your questions takes quite a toll, but I am determined to do this interview. Though I still write poetry and recently have had a renewal of dreams, which often do not happen when one suffers from chronic fatigue, a part of fibromyalgia. Another favorite poet and writer, Linda Hogan, wrote The Woman Who Watches Over the World: A Native Memoir, 2002, where she discusses the profound loss of her dreams. For years my motto was the quote from Yeats, "In dreams begin responsibility."

I would love to be able to give a reading or two.

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

Christina: I think you and I have covered it all and then some, Laurel.

A bit of advice for new writers: write for your self first, then see if the writing will move into a larger arena. Don't worry about publishing and writing at the same time. It's like trying to revise when you are in the throes of a rough draft. Be willing to spend time on revision. Don't just accept the first thing you write. Remember, too, that people are more important than poetry. A "minor" poet from Oregon, Ethel Fortner, who is dead now, taught me that one.

Laurel: Thank you for your time, Christina.

Laurel Johnson
Senior Reviewer

Shelley's Bookshelf

Dead as a Scone
Ron and Janet Benrey
Barbour Publishing Inc.
P.O. Box 719 1810 Barbour Drive Uhrichsville, Ohio 44683
Tel: (800) 446-6240; Fax: (800) 220-5948
159310197X $8.97

Ron and Janet Benrey are a professional writing duo who live in Maryland. Ron is a graduate of MIT, holds a masters in management and a law degree. Janet is a native of Kent, England and has a degree from the University of Pittsburgh. They have written several books together, and Ron has had an extensive career writing books and articles for CEO's. He also is a veteran speaker for Fortune 100 companies.

The Royal Tunbridge Wells Tea Museum is an esteemed establishment with an acting director in the person of Nigel Owen, a permanent curator named Flick Adams, and an elderly heiress named Dame Elspeth Hawker. Dame Elspeth suspects someone is switching pieces of the museum's collection and substituting fakes. She has a pretty good idea who is behind it, but before she can report to the trustees, she is the victim of a murder. Only Flick Adams, who has a Ph.D. in food chemistry and a fairly extensive background in toxicology, is suspicious. Dame Elspeth has been her valued friend, and Flick is certain that the doctor, Sir Simon Clowes, also a trustee, is wrong in his diagnosis that Dame Elspeth expired from heart problems. Flick finds herself in hot water when she shares her theories, but Nigel finally makes the right choice and comes to her rescue, in spite of his misgivings:

"Why had he offered to help? Probably because vague pangs of remorse kept reminding him that he had intentionally ignored two opportunities to do right by Flick Adams. He might have eased Flick's sequential scoldings first by DI Pennyman and then by the trustees if he had repeated what Elspeth said on the day she died."

DEAD AS A SCONE is a delightful and warm tale written in the Agatha Christie "cozy" style. The team of Ron and Janet Benrey craft a tantalizing love story behind the whodunit tale of poison, pets hovering by to encourage the sleuths, and the world of art, tea, and baking. Old and grievous wounds figure as the motive, and the setting of the museum in the actual town of Tunbridge Wells reels in the reader with visions of marble, dead bodies, and intrigue.

Inspector Morimoto and the Diamond Pendants
Timothy Hemion
iUniverse, Inc.
2021 Pine Lake Rd., Suite 100, Lincoln, NE 68512
ISBN: 0595319866 (pbk) $13.95; 0595664555 (cloth)

Timothy Hemion is a Ph.D. in Mathematics, born and educated in England. His area of expertise is probability and statistics. He has published a college textbook in his area, numerous articles, and three Inspector Morimoto mysteries.

This is Inspector Morimoto's second appearance as an Inspector from Okayama, Japan, a medium city situated on the bullet train line, which is readily accessible to Osaka and Hiroshima. Inspector Morimoto and his assistant, Officer Suzuki employ the Hercule Poirot method of solving cases. They formulate theories and then act to prove or disprove them. In this case two large diamond pendants have been stolen using a similar modus operandi, by blowing home safes. Interestingly enough, the victims are competing kimono shop owners whose wives greatly value displaying their diamond pendants. The case involves a young bank manager, Mr. Izumi, who is hit by a car and ends up in the hospital. A diamond pendant is discovered in his briefcase by the hospital, and the case begins:

" Exactly,' Mrs. Akikawa said curtly. It looks like a diamond to me, and a diamond of that size must be worth a great deal of money. It's no business of this hospital whether or not Mr. Izumi carries large diamonds around in his briefcase, and it would be quite inappropriate for us to discuss the matter with his wife or with his bank not unless he gave us his permission, that is.'"

Timothy Hemion's style of writing is concise and well...mathematical. The first two-thirds of the book is dialogue driven, as Morimoto and Suzuki employ their brains to formulate their theories as to what exactly happened. The setting is Japan, and its culture is reflected in their conversations, as the wives of the two kimono salesmen are considered part of the upper crust of Japanese society. Morimoto is under pressure not only from his chief, who doesn't quite understand his methods, but also from the insurance company, who luckily sends a rather young representative who Morimoto can convince to join in the investigation.

INSPECTOR MORIMOTO AND THE DIAMOND PENDANTS is a tale about symmetry, as the considerable talents of Morimoto and Suzuki are ideally suited to unravel the tangle.

Extreme Cuisine
Kit Sloane
Durban House Publishing
7502 Greenville Avenue, Suite 500, Dallas, TX 75231
ISBN: 193075468X $12.95

Kit Sloane is a resident of Northern California. Her husband is a college professor, and Kit herself is a writer of short stories, is a fiction editor, and has published four Margot O'Banion mysteries. She is an animal and wine lover who also gardens.

Film editor Margot O'Banion and boyfriend/director Max Skull have been together long enough to have a teenage boy named Luis. They also work together for Acturus Studio, and the characters they are associated with soon provide the backdrop for a murder. Margot's glamourous friend and wine specialist Loretta Rose appears on their doorstep and quickly ingratiates herself into their lives, obtaining her first position in the Executive Dining room of the studio and hooking up with Robert Madrid of the restauranteur Estrella family. But everywhere she goes, murder seems to follow, and the Estrella's are heavily involved, first by Robert's murder which coopts a scene from Max's latest film, "Extreme Cuisine":

"Loretta Rose stopped frowning and stared, seeming oblivious to the tears still streaming down her face. 'Oh my God, the police. I have to call them, don't I?' She wiped her nose, ran across the room to a stainless steel counter and grabbed a black phone. Margot could hear the 9-1-1 call punched in. She turned away as Loretta Rose described the horror into the receiver. It was a brief conversation."

EXTREME CUISINE is a humorous look at the Hollywood scene, which includes agendas, the seamier side of movie-making, and Margot's metamorphosis from retiring film editor to amateur sleuth when the people she cares about find murder popping out all around them. Sloane gives a good bird's eye view of the movie business, along with the aberrant personalities. The result is a delightful and, at times, laughter-inducing and lighthearted look at murder, cuisine, and the temptations of the flesh.

EXTREME CUISINE is written in a blocked way, meaning it could easily translate into a comedic tale of murder and mayhem. Sloane has a definite eye for the absurd, and she also knows how to entertain. EC is a delightful read, and Sloane's characters cry out for an encore.

The Biloxi Traveler
Wilma Knox
iUniverse, Inc.
2021 Pine Lake Road, Suite 100, Lincoln, NE 68512
ISBN: 059529443X $12.95 U.S./$17.95 CAN/10.99 U.K

Wilma Knox is a clinical psychologist hailing from the Mississippi Gulf Coast, as well as engaging in itinerant travel. She is a poodle and cat enthusiast. She has published numerous articles in national and international journals. THE BILOXI TRAVELER is her third novel.

Kerry is the epitome of a Southern magnolia, working as a veterinarian in her father's clinic and developing a lasting relationship with her fianc‚, Frank Borth, Sheriff of Harrison County and ex-Vietnam vet. They plan to be married in October, but Frank decides to travel to Bogota, Columbia as a mid-level ambassador. Frank and his companions are kidnaped, and Kerry embarks on a cruise across the Atlantic to keep her mind off of Frank's fate. She is officially accompanying her Aunt Bess and Flush, a nervous spaniel who is Kerry's charge for the trip. Kerry is worrying about Frank non-stop, but manages to get involved in the murder of Jeremy, an art gallery owner from Mobile with less than perfect morals and behavior: "You said there were times when he tried your patience; I didn't know him long but he certainly tried mine. He gave my aunt a painting of a flower arrangement, very medieval looking in its lighting, colors and design. Just when she was really fond of it and redecorated her bedroom to set it off, he wanted it back. What can you say? The painting was his, but he seemed a little cruel."

THE BILOXI TRAVELER is mostly character driven, with all sorts of hidden agendas. The setting is mostly on a cruise ship, which is a great place for murder. Kerry is a likable lass who is a bit sheltered and definitely prone towards anorexia when the going gets tough, but she is also intelligent and resourceful. The orchestrated presence of dogs throughout the story is a delight, and adds quite a bit to an already rich plot.

Ms. Knox has made for pleasant, light reading of this Agatha type of cozy. The settings are beautiful; the characters are, for the most part, refined and upper class, and the human emotions are accurately drawn and fun. The ending leaves the reader yearning for more. Well done!

The Intersection of Law and Desire
J.M. Redmann
Bywater Books, Inc.
PO Box 3671, Ann Arbor, MI 48106-3671
ISBN: 1932859012 $12.95

J.M. Redmann has four mysteries to her credit, all dealing with private detective Micky Knight, a New Orleans private eye. Her previous titles are: DEATH BY THE REVIERSIDE, DEATHS OF JOCASTA, and LOST DAUGHTER.

Micky (Michelle) Knight is a private eye, having arrived at that occupation through a series of tough life experiences. Micky is strong and beautiful, but is also vulnerable and sensitive, which makes her the perfect savior for abused children. When her friend's daughter, Cissy, stops smiling and begins having nightmares, Micky is suspicious. Patrick, Cissy's brother, tries to hire Micky with his paper money to find out who murdered little Judy Douglas, a classmate of Cissy's. Simultaneously Micky is working on a case with Karen, a cousin of Micky's girlfriend Cordelia, extricating her from a money lending scheme that stinks to high heaven. Is there a connection between the two cases? "'Someone invests fifty thousand dollars and a month later gets seventy thousand back. Wouldn't that make you curious?

Bill let out a low whistle, then nodded. 'Could it be legit?' I asked. 'Only if I could be the Pope, and I'm Jewish. Drugs, most likely. How did you hear about his?'

In the midst of Micky's own demons haunting her from her hellish past, she manages to not only piece together the puzzle of a grand pornography ring, but also works through her own problems by getting involved with a child psychologist with a penchant for sex, and by actually infiltrating the crime ring. Luckily, she enlists the help of the local police in her adventures. She is working solo, everyone is angry with her, and she is feeling very alone. But she ends up the heroine, after taking on a gang of thugs and saving the day for the women she loves the most.

J.M. Redmann is one heck of a writer. This tale is so gripping that the pages can't turn fast enough. Emotions are taut through most of the novel, and Redmann continually ratchets the action to a higher level. Character development is pivotal, and the plot has lots of twists. New Orleans jumps to life, as does the pain of child abuse, the loneliness of the gay lifestyle. Great!

A Treasure To Die For
Radine Trees Nehring
St Kitt Press
PO Box 8173, Wichita, KS 67208
ISBN: 1931206007 $16.00

Radine Trees Nehring is a prolific writer of books, magazine articles, and radio news. She is a native of Arkansas and writes extensively about its inhabitants in her novels.

Hot Springs Arkansas has had a checkered past. When Carrie McCrite, senior pro-bono detective and companion friend of retired police detective Henry King, decide to embark on a trip to an elder hostel in the city of sin, they quickly become mired in past and present ghosts. Carrie is a bible stomping woman with buried insecurities about her role as a woman who also notices things. Henry is completely in love with Carrie and is waiting for her to get past her bible quotations and on to the real part of But he's willing to take the entire package, and when Carrie disappears and a suspicious elder hostel participant is murdered, all Henry can think about is rescuing Carrie, even as the police are considering Carrie as a suspect:

"Henry had also realized, after some thought, that Carrie Culpeper McCrite would not have stabbed Everett Bogardus and run away. Oh, it was possible that, to save her own life, she had stabbed the man, not intending to kill him. But she wouldn't have run away, she'd have run for help."

Nehring puts together a very entertaining whodunit in A TREASURE TO DIE FOR. Carrie is an interesting mix between an old-fashioned woman, a woman who is finding herself, and a woman who is comfortable with her own religion. The bible quotes seem pertinent, although they do bring the action to a complete halt in parts as Carrie huddles in a corner whispering bible quotes at the height of the action. Nonetheless, A TREASURE TO DIE for is absorbing and well written.

Nehring also puts together a touching love story between Carrie and Henry, who appear in earlier novels. As they struggle towards each other and a second marriage, their mistakes and past pain haunt both of them. At times the dance gets comical and frustrating to the reader, but it is the stuff of life and rings true. The murder plot itself is basically an old-time gangster tale, and the characters have risen out of the ashes of the old Hot Springs. A good read.

Shelley Glodowski
Senior Reviewer

Shirley's Bookshelf

Berry Yummy Cookbook Strawberry Shortcake
Ann Bryant
Illustrated by Lisa Workman
Grosset & Dunlap, Bk&Acces edition
Hudson Street, NY
ISBN: 0448435187 $12.95 95 pp.

In this colorful cookbook, sure to catch the eye of the youngest chief, we are taken into a world of delightful, yummy children's recipes. My granddaughter and I prepared, cooked and shared "Spectacular Berry Pancakes." Yummy! What a treat. Strawberry shares great recipes that are fun to make, and fun to eat, from breakfast right through the day. She gives cooking tips, rules of safety and even a few stories are tucked into this wonderful book to share at anytime. A little added plus is a set of measuring spoons to use. Nice touch.

Colorful, useful, kid and parent friendly, this is a wonderful book for young and old. A fun read, along with a super learning and sharing experience. Recommended.

Peter Rabbit Bedtime Stories
Beatrix Potter Publications International Ltd
Lincolnwood, Ill.
ISBN# 0785362991 $12.95 37 pages

This is one of the nicest books I have had the pleasure to review in a long time. Well made for durability, it is one that will be a keepsake for years to come. Beautiful illustrations are combined with tender bedtime stories that will delight and entertain your child. My granddaughter and I have read and reread these stories countless time, it seems she never tires of hearing them, nor do I. An added bonus is a wonderful little music box that plays, "Rock-a-bye Baby," sweet and soothing. I highly recommend this book, you and your child will enjoy many happy reading and sharing hours with this one.

Shadow of The Dahlia
Jack Bludis
Quiet Storm Publishing
PO Box 1666 Martinsburg, WV 25402
ISBN# 0975857118 $24.95 200 pages

Every mystery work has something special within its pages; a twist that leaves you shaking your head or thinking about it for days after the read. To me, this work left me with a smile and the realization that life often evens the score.

Rick Page is a private eye in L.A. He is hired by a millionaire to find his missing wife. He finds her, murdered and mutilated in the same fashion as another young women had been before her. Seemingly the two murders were not related, nor were the killers of the first victim, Elizabeth Short, ever brought to justice, but Rick knew better.

His investigation takes him into the depths of those who seem to have no soul, nor regard for the dignity of human life, only for their perverse pleasures and greed. Nearly losing his own life, Rick presses on determined to settle a burning desire to see the murderers of Laura Prendergast brought to justice. Perhaps the justice is not the way some would have liked, but nevertheless it seemed to fit the occasion.

I liked this book. It took on a new twist in a mystery read and kept my interest. The characters were well thought out and the author interwove them nicely within the storyline. There was mystery, adventure and a tad of romance. Well done and recommended.

Ten Little Ladybugs
Melanie Gerth
Piggy Toes Press
New York, NY
ISBN: 1581170912 $5.95 22 pages board book

The cover of this work will catch the eye of any young reader. Ten little ladybugs glow out at you making you want to see what is inside the book and you are not disappointed. We start off with our ten ladybugs, but as different predators come the number keeps getting lower and lower until we just have one that makes it home. This story shows little ones how nature works, and will give them some understanding of the natural order of existence. It is colorful and educational as well.

Baby Donald's Busy Play Group
Darrell Baker
Golden Press
New York, NY
ISBN: 0307123162 $5.95 14 pages

In this little book we find baby Donald going to his first day at play group. He is a little afraid and isn't sure he will want to stay there. All the little babies try to make Donald feel better. They tell him to sing and clap,make him a picture and let him play in the sand. Donald soon learns that it is okay to be at play group and his fears leave. By the end of the day baby Donald can't wait to come back again. A great little book to help relieve the fear a little one may have concerning going to nursery or school. Nicely illustrated as well.

Color of Laughter, Color of Tears
Laurel A. Johnson, Stephen R. Sulik
Winterwolf Publishing
ISBN# 0976247143 $8.95 97 pages

All poets write from their hearts, expressing emotions often buried deep within their soul. Some write of tender love, or treasured memories of blissful joy, while others words release the torment of hidden cries for help that were left unanswered. This work has no barriers, as authors Johnson and Sulik unleash upon the reader their inward substance of stored emotions, both good and bad. The contrast of style between the two poets keep your taste buds awakened and your interest perked, as you glide from one writing to the next waiting to see what will emerge.

I was not prepared for the raw and honest passion that consumed the pages of this outstanding poetry work, The Color of Laughter - The Color of Tears. Nor was I prepared for the hearts cry of sorrow, love, unfulfilled dreams, and scented memories of joy and despair that screamed from the words penned within this work. But there they were laid bare before my eyes, piercing my soul and stirring within me my own memories of life's twists and turns. What a read!

It isn't often that a book of poetry has the power to stir such intense emotions within me. Nor is it often that the words penned by another become seeded within my heart. But this was the case as I read the words of this work and whispered within myself that surely love, hate, life, death, joy, sorrow, pain, laughter, all of these and more, touch each one of us on the journey that we call life. This work stirred emotions buried deep within my being, the words of this work allowed them to surface and perhaps a little sadly I smiled and you will too, and whispered; "You are my brother, you are my sister. I have felt your pain, lived your sorrow, smiled at your victories and cried at your defeat", as you become one with the words before you.

Color of Laughter, Color of Tears, a work of raw emotions that will sting your heart and live within the recesses of your mind forever.

Mountain Shadows
Patricia Reiss Brooks
Pinto Press
Mt. Kisco, NY
ISBN# 0975567705 $14.95 333 pages

In the beginning of this outstanding read we are confronted by a rescue of a young man stranded and half dead in the snow. Joe Devlin is on a journey, one driven by love for his wife Alice, who is suffering from tuberculosis. Joe is a simple, honest man, but also a poor man, who is now faced with the cost of the 'cure' that Alice must receive at Lake Placid, New York, if he ever hopes to have her well again.

We are taken along the journey of Alice and Joe and their struggle to play the hand that life has dealt them. Joe soon begins to do things he never thought he would, both in his work and in his personal life and Alice if faced with hard decisions of the heart. Neither life will ever be the same.

The author does an exceptional job of bringing to life the immense hardships that patients and their families endured from tuberculosis during the 1920's. Her description of Lake Placid and the era bring you directly into the storyline as your heart merges with the well defined characters of her work. This is more than a story; it is a walk into part of America's past and the people who lived it. A story that shows love indeed has no end, nor obstacles that it cannot cross. Recommended. Great job! Great read!

Possessed By Ghosts
Wanda Pratnicka
Centrum Publishers
PO Box 257 81-963 Gdynia Poland
ISBN# 839180223X $25.00 348 pages

There are times when I am asked to read and review a work that I know I must put my own personal beliefs aside to be fair in my review, this was the case with the work "Possessed By Ghosts." Although I certainly do feel we are influences by those of the spirit realm, my take on whom or what we are dealing with is a little different than our authors. Nevertheless, her work was intriguing, interesting, well written and I sensed a sincere desire to help mankind as I read her book. That is always refreshing.

"Possessed By Ghosts," written by renowned exorcist and healer, Wanda Pratnicka is a work where our author opens her heart to you, and shares many years of her experience with freeing not only those troubled by ghosts, but the ghosts themselves.. Bridging this world with the next, she explains how she believes those departed influence our lives and often cause sickness and mishap. She gives testimonies and tells of different circumstances where this has occurred, taking time to answer the questions, you the reader, are sure to have. Carefully explaining her position as an exorcist and healer; Ms. Pratnicka offers solutions to these difficulties.

I believe we all have had some experience with those that we cannot see, even if we are not quick to admit it. In this work, Wanda Pratnicka offers you her answer to who these intruders from the spiritual side are, exactly what they are doing, and what you can do about it. Perhaps your answer lies within the pages of this work. You decide.

So Many Books, So Little Time
Sara Nelson
The Berkley Publishing Group
375 Hudson Street New York, NY 10014
ISBN# 0425198197 $13.00 240 pages

I scanned this book at first wondering how interesting a read like this could possible be. After all, someone writing about not having enough time to read books. Yawn! However I was greatly surprised by what I found between the pages. The book starts out with Ms. Nelson sharing that she will be reading a book a week for one year. She shares with the reader her love of books and why, how she became an avid reader and just what reading has done for her. What I found to be quite intriguing was her concept that the books we read chose us, we don't chose them. Interesting don't you think? What does she mean by that? You'll have to read the book to find out. Have I wet your appetite yet for this work? I hope so. I can't really explain to you why this was such an interesting read, but somehow Ms. Nelson and her book tales seemed to keep me turning the pages and enjoying what I was reading. It was interesting and fun; also informative as I learned a great deal about many books just by the authors short descriptions of them. I recommend this read. I believe it has something to say to every reader out there. Indeed we do have so many books and so little time.

Cabbage Requiem
R.L. Paul
Helm Publishing
3923 Seward Ave Rockford, Il 61108
ISBN# 0972301194 $16.95 291 pages

George Konert is a widow; his entire life now is his garden and he is beginning to hate even that. Life itself is holding no meaning and his future holds no promise of happiness. George Konert is merely existing in a world of gray. George has children, but their lives do not include him. He is lonely, discouraged and disillusioned with all life has to offer. Something has to change and thank God, for George it did.

In this read we are taken into the life of perhaps millions of Georges around the world. As their partners depart this earth; they are left alone in their latter years, faced with idleness, loneliness and the prospect of a bitter end. For George this was not acceptable, what could he do to change that forecast? Realizing that perhaps the idea of giving, that his wife had tried to impart in him years ago, just might have some merit; George sets out to give it a try. What did he have to lose? Having an abundance of cabbage in his garden, he loads up the old red wagon and goes house to house giving away his abundance. In doing this small act of kindness an entire new existence opens up for George. He finds a renewed zest for life as hearts open to his act of giving and George begins to receive the human contact he has longed for. Is it possible that even at his age he is needed by others? George found out indeed he was in ways he never imagined possible.

This is a work that shows we can change our circumstances by our actions, no matter what our age. It shows the frustration of the elderly but also gives encouragement and hope to them for the future. Many times life is what we make it; and this book shows we can make it better, not just for ourselves but for others. All of this moral learning is wrapped in a nice package. The storyline is honest yet heartwarming. The characters are well defined and bring forth the story in perfection, as we watch George bloom after being dormant for so long. A valuable message in a lovely story. Well worth your time.

Now No Opportunity Wasted
Phil Keoghan with Warren Berger
Rodale Publishers 1-800-848-4735
ISBN# 594860866 $22.95 221 pages

I have read and reviewed countless self-help books during my reviewing career. They all can pretty much be summed up in this; follow my directions and your life will change. Most times, you are not going to follow their directions and the only change in your life has been the thirty somewhat dollars that you lost. And so it is. However, there are times when the author is so enthusiastic about his concept that it oozes off the pages and you sit up alert thinking, maybe he has something here? You sense in the words screaming at you from the pages that this author truly has something that he has seen work, believes in, and wants to share it with you. Refreshing! That is what happens in this book by author Phil Keoghan, host of the Discovery Channel's "NOW." As with other books in this category, he gives you steps to take to reach the life goal that you have pushed aside for so long. He shares stories of others that didn't think they could, but plunged ahead and found their victory. He doesn't hide the fact that there will be obstacles to face and that perhaps there will be some failures, but his zest for life and his encouraging words make you think, perhaps I can! It's worth a shot at trying. And he also gives you tips to help overcome the many obstacles that would keep you from your victory. Including many of his own victories.That is refreshing in a self-help book. All of us have a hidden desire, an accomplishment that we long to achieve but perhaps have given up on ever having that goal met. This work will challenge you to rethink that goal, to look at the obstacles that have kept you from it, and perhaps give you enough courage to take the leap. Well worth your read and your consideration.

War Torn
John Marks
Riverhead Books
375 Hudson Street New York, NY 10014
ISBN# 1594460362 $14.00 174 pages

I have to say, to my shame, that I really knew very little about the war in Bosnia, so this book was informative to me. Written in a storyline that adds fact with fiction, it catches you up into an emotionally packed adventure, that will tug at your heartstrings and prick at your conscience. In this book we are shown the impact a war has on individuals and families, but we are also given a glimpse into traditions we know nothing about; yet things we all hold sacred in our own ways. A great story bringing to light truths we should always remember, but allow ourselves to forget, least we lose our comfort zone in life.Hate,love, war, adventure all packed into one moving novel. This is a thought provoking work and one you will remember for a long time. Recommended.

The Little Christmas Elf
Nancy Buss
A Golden Book
New York, NY
ISBN# 0307605027 $5.95 12 pages

In this little story an elf named Allistar gets to travel to the North Pole. He is so excited as he arrives, but soon finds he is too little to do any of the jobs that are assigned to him. Saddened, he is befriended by Nicholas, who doesn't mind that he is little and likes the way he does the jobs he gives him. To the delight of Allistar, he finds out his new friend is non other than Santa himself. A really sweet tale to share at the Christmas season, showing little ones how important they are, no matter what size they maybe.

Garfields Furry Tales
Jim Davis
Grosset & Dunlap
New York, NY
ISBN# 0448092867 $12.95 48 pages

This is a great book. My grandchildren and I giggled our way through it as we shared the stories of "Garfield and the Three Bears, " Little Red Riding Odie," and "Garfield and the Sleeping Beauty." We are all familiar with these tales, but take out the usual characters and replace them with Garfield or Odie and you are in for a real treat and a whole bunch of giggles. The illustrations are outstanding as well. All in all a real winner of a book, one that is fun for both young and old. Highly recommended.

Baby's First Bible Songs
Reader's Digest
Pleasantville, NY
ISBN: 1575844044 $12.99 10 pages

This is a wonderfully constructed carry along book for children. With it's own little snap and handle they can bring it with them whereever they go, with ease. Inside we find the words to many of the Bible songs children love to sing, such as, " Jesus Loves Me," and "Kum Ba Yah." With each song the children will be delighted with the colorful illustrations that flow so nicely with the words, giving a great visual aid to the little one. It is a beautiful work and will be a keepsake for years to come. I highly recommend it.

Atlas' Revenge Another Mad Myth Mystery
Robyn Ditocco & Tony Ditocco
Brainstorm Publications
Pompano Beach, FL
ISBN# 0972342931 $11.95 224 pages

I was first introduced to our hero in this couples first work, "Hero Perseus." PJ was four years younger and dealing with the trauma of losing his father at that time. In this work, we are reintroduced to a now college age PJ, who although is older is still dealing with his identity and what his future holds. Although the hectic California lifestyle seems to be agreeing with him; PJ is still plagues with some inner turmoil's. Things have changed for PJ. His mother has remarried and he has a new stepbrother, that he is definitely jealous of, and a new girlfriend, who he seems to be obsessed with. His life is full and the last thing he needs is another quest, but lo and behold here it comes. This time PJ is called by his old friend Hermes to complete Hercules Twelve Labors. Why? Because Hercules is busy holding up the heavens for Atlas who has disappeared. Ah! So we have our story. Chock full of adventure, PJ is hurled into a war to save the world. Forced to battle such mystical creatures as a lion, and a pig who becomes almost a friend and a host of other not so friendly characters, we are plunged into an adventurous read that is a real page turner. We also have a tad of mystery as Andi, PJ's former girlfriend, reappears on the scene. Just what part will she play in all of this? To add spice, we have a riddle that surely must mean something, but what? This is another delightful, action packed story for young and old. It's always nice to be familiar with the characters you have learned to love, and hate, from previous works as you begin the read. I recommend this book. It can stand alone, but start your own collection of Mad Myth Mysteries. I'm sure there will be more to follow, at least I hope so. These books are real winners!

A Book Of James
Jeanne P. Beggins
Publish America
ISBN# 141370851X $16.95 111 pages

Jeanne Patricia Beggins shares her heart with us in this touching read, "A Book of James." Giving birth to twins, this family is given the devastating news that little James's brain has not fully developed and his prognoses is not good. Taking his little sister home, the family begins a journey with James as they struggle to come to terms with a situation they cannot change. The author shares her thoughts and those of others in a personal journal that was kept during this emotional time. She shares the joys they had with their son, a tiny smile or watching him sleep, and shows the importance of every single moment we have with someone we love. She also shares the heartbreak of his struggle to live, which became a losing battle. I congratulate this family for their courage in sharing with others their personal tragedy and their road to recovery during such a traumatic time in their lives. I believe this work will help other families who are going through such a crisis, giving them a drink of cool water in a dry and thirsty land. One day they will surely see their James again; I am so glad they hold onto that promise.

Jonathon Wise
Hillard Harris Publishers
ISBN# 1591330882 $16.95 201 pages

In this novel we find a young couple, David and Julie. Tired of the humdrum of their existence, they longed to open a Bed and Breakfast in an old home. After searching they felt they found just the place in the old Bender house, but they were not aware of the danger that awaited them there. Moving in, Julie is left alone while David finishes up some work in the city. Julie begins to experience a presence and sees shadows throughout the house. Thinking at first it is only her imagination, Julie tries to lose herself in the vision of the future and their plans. However, the supernatural forces at work were determined this would not happen.

What was happening here? She had to know as she searches desperately trying to find the history of the house and a possible clue to what was happening. What she finds out fills her being with fear. As the story progresses it becomes more intense as the presence in the house brings death and the near loss of her husband. Will they make it out of this house alive? Wow! What a ride.

This work is a real page turner as you sit glued to your seat unable to put it down. Heart thumping, you have to know what secret is within the walls of the Bender house; and you silently pray that Julie will be able to battle the forces that hold her husbands life and their future in their hands. Horror fans will love this one. Recommended.

C.J. Morace
Publish America
Baltimore, MD
ISBN# 159286984X $19.95 180 pages

Our story begins with the brutal act of murder committed by a young soldier against his Sergeant in the year 1917. Jumping from the troop train to escape punishment for his act; he finds himself lost in a swamp called Cocodrie, in the state of Louisiana.

The author does an outstanding job in conveying the horror Cocodrie envelopes our young soldier in as he is trapped in the confines of her borders. Right from the beginning she gives the swamp life of it's own, portraying to the reader a living joint personality of the many life forms that call Cocodrie home. The writing was so vivid, I actually could taste his fear.

We follow this soldier as he makes it through the terror of his first night in the swamp, saves a small child from the jaws of an alligator and becomes her victim. Saved by the child's family, whose father is the last pirate of New Orleans, and who has given up his heritage to live in peace in Cocodrie; we are introduced to a community of swamp people. This unique community has left behind the world we know and has embraced the life of Cocodrie, where all are accepted without question of past.

Following the life of this family and our soldier we are taken into the amazing world that exists in this mysterious swamp. We share the lives of the people, their deep commitment to one another and their swamp and the upheaval as the outside world begins to devour their beloved land and the rules start to change. The characters soon become as real as your own neighbors and through the authors excellent descriptive writing we soon become part of this close-knit community. Without fully understanding why; we respect their love for a land that is hostile and to many uninviting and fearful.

Although this work has a wonderful storyline of well defined characters, I was more drawn into the actual life of the swamp itself and its struggle against the invasion of civilization, and the almost supernatural web it weaves on those whose lives it touches. It is as if the author is telling the story of Cocodrie for Cocodrie; the struggle to continue to generate the life that it has forged for centuries. Whether it be human, animal, plant or reptile its battle to survive becomes personal.

I have been privileged to read and review the works of author C.J. Morace and I applaud her outstanding ability to bring together a story that totally absorbs the reader into its very essence. Whether it be Appalachia, or Cocodrie, her skill as a writer is superb as she uses words to stimulate the true sensation of the events before you. I highly recommend her work and honestly tell you these reads you will not soon forget.

INTERVIEW WITH C.J. MORACE - Author of Cocodrie and Appalachia

(Note: Please see review of Appalachia in my January column)

Thank you Cora for doing this interview with me. As you know I have read and reviewed your works. I believe you are a very talented author with much to give to the world in this area. I am excited about getting to know you, and I'm sure our readers will enjoy getting to know you as well. Let's begin.

SPJ: Cora, you have two books published Cocodrie and Appalachia. What made your decide to write these books?

CORA: Shirley, thank you for this wonderful opportunity to express some of my deep feelings about what it means to write. Cocodrie and Appalachia were written to express the almost mystical connection that communities develop for the land that they inhabit. Both are fiction, but include elements of history and description of two seemingly brutal environments and the people who endure and thrive in them. I tried to draw analogies between the natural elements, which can be both glorious and sinister, and the souls of the people who live in these places.

Cocodrie was written about my husband's birthplace, a community that I came to know just as it was about to be destroyed by progress. I witnessed the impact from a view both sympathetic and aware.

Appalachia then grew from my memories of visits to the deep mountain regions during my young adulthood. The theme of change, progress, and the sanctity of a way of life as it reflects back to the individual recurred.

SPJ: Your subject matter in both works is so different then any that I have read before. How did you come up with the storylines?

Cora: As Stephen King says "all stories start with a what if". I truly developed my stories by placing a character in a situation in the area that I wanted to write about and just said "what if?". I then tried to make the situation suspenseful and realistic the rest of the story just seems to flow from there with a bunch more "what ifs" along the way.

SPJ: I will say, you have done an outstanding job. Are the characters fashioned in anyway towards people you know, or have known?

Cora: Yes and No. Most are composites of people that I've met in the areas that I write about and a few are strictly my imagination, none are patterned after any particular person entirely.

SPJ: Tell me, to you have your characters become a part of your life? This may seem like a strange question, however other authors have told me during the writing of their work(s) they think of their characters all the time. Was this true in your case?

Cora: (Laugh) Yes. I didn't start writing until I was over fifty years old and had no contact with other writers when I started. The characters of Cocodrie became so dominating at times that I often wondered if my reaction to these people I created was even normal. Thought perhaps I was entering a premature senility and creating some imaginary playmates for my old age.

SPJ: I can tell you, from interviewing many authors that indeed characters from their works become part of them. What, if any reaction did you receive after your decision to write these books?

Cora: I think my family was rather blas‚ about it at first. I have a long history of doing the unexpected to amuse myself, so they probably just accepted my writing as another one of Mom's phases. But as the first book progressed they drew closer and became very much a part of its development. They actually argued with me about scenes involving their favorite characters proving that I was not the only one adopting my imaginary playmates and confirming my sanity (or questioning theirs as well). Either way my writing has drawn us all much closer and for that reason alone I will always write! By the way, one daughter is now working on a young adult novel of her own as a result of my experience and I get to help her. How's that for a reward!

SPJ: How nice to have added blessings, both knowing you are not insane and getting to help your daughter. *smile*..How long did it take you to complete each one?

Cora: The first draft of Cocodrie was done in less than three months. I then spent two months on Appalachia, going back to second and third drafts of Cocodrie after that time. It seems to be the pattern that works for me. Letting the manuscript sit while I work on the next or a previous one, it usually takes me just about the right amount of time to finish one in time to review the other and re-write as needed.

SPJ: I can confirm that whatever you are doing the end results are excellent. What was the most difficult part in writing your work(s)? And what did you find as the most enjoyable?

Cora: The most difficult would have to have been the fear of failure to express what I was attempting to convey. The times when I read back over something and really was disgusted by the banality of it were discouraging. I always felt it was presumptuous of me to think I could actually write something worth publishing so it wasn't even a question of writing to suit anyone but myself, but I knew I could fail even at that. However the writing itself was so enjoyable that I continued and will continue even if no one ever chooses to read my efforts.

I also enjoyed the research. Both books required study of places, history, various animals and tools, methods of all kinds of production. Anyone who tries to write factual fiction gets quite an education along the way I found out. I was fascinated by it all.

SPJ: Do you have a favorite or are they both special in their own way?

Cora: Great question. Cocodrie is special because it is for my husband and is more personal as a result. Appalachia may be a better story. It does have more action and is more structured than Cocodrie. My favorite is the one that I'm currently writing. (Which is true of every manuscript as I write them.)

SPJ: I loved both of your works, but for me Cocodrie is my favorite. Although the reason could be that I live in Florida and I am both scared and intrigued by the swamps we have here. Tell us, did you find it difficult to find a publisher and if so what did you do to remedy that?

Cora: I call myself the "accidental author" because once I had finished the story of Cocodrie and had a couple drafts done, I was satisfied. I had written my book. It was my daughters who insisted that it be published, and one began looking for an agent for me. She printed out a list of agents that she obtained on-line and I agreed to mail queries to a few. I prepared the materials they requested and selected eight of their number, which I thought might be the most likely to be interested in the book. The postage was expensive enough that I thought eight every couple of weeks was all I could afford.

After the first week I received six of my packets back undelivered No such address Moved No forwarding Recipient Unknown, one after another drifted sadly back. In the next week I received my first actual reply and it wasn't a rejection not exactly anyway. It was from a very nice lady who informed me that she was sure her husband (the addressed agent) would have liked my book, but he was dead! That left only the one package and I had decided it was good enough that it be the last. I had only tried to pursue publication because it would please my daughters. I had felt from the start that I was chasing an impossible dream.

Then I received the last reply. From a woman who said she no longer acted as a literary agent and she recommended that I contact PublishAmerica with my manuscript. I did and three weeks later I had a contract for Cocodrie. Through PublishAmerica I met Lynn Price. And soon after she and Fred formed Behler Publications I proudly became one of their authors with APPALACHIA.

SPJ: I am very thankful to both of these publishers. Without them I may have never had the opportunity to read your wonderful books. What advice would you give to authors who are looking for a publisher?

Cora: I'm not too much on advice on this subject. There is a lot of controversy out there about publishers. I think each author has to decide for himself or herself just what they hope to accomplish by being published since obviously there are goals which are not attainable with all of them. I wouldn't want to see anyone deprived of the personal pleasure they might derive from seeing their book in print. But I would caution everyone to research carefully and seek legal counsel (from an attorney familiar with the contractual law for artists) before signing anything. I found a service that was fee-free through my state's Commission of Arts.

SPJ: If you could speak directly to publishers, what would you tell them?

Cora: Thank you.

SPJ: Do you have an agent? A publicist?

Cora: I've got this wild support group, my family and a self appointed promotion committee who shove my books down the throats of everyone they encounter evidently. Behler provides good national promotion and I'm involved on a local and regional level any agents reading this can feel free to solicit me if they wish, how's that?

SPJ: How much promoting do you do? Any tips for other authors?

Cora: I promote moderately on line. Locally, I do signings and have good exposure with the media. I am looking forward to being more aggressive once Appalachia is released (February 2005) (so everyone watch for the blimp at the SuperBowl). Seriously, I do consider promotion a very important part of an author's responsibility, whether they pay for it from their profits or whether they command it themselves, but I also think creating a reader base is important and so I relegate my expectations to future works. It would be my goal to build a loyal reader following and to be able to produce my writings frequently to satisfy them. Just steady, good writing sounds like high praise to me.

SPJ: I'll tell you Cora, since I live about in Florida, when the blimp goes by I'll be proud to tell everyone I know that author. Do you belong to a writer's group?

Cora: Yes, No, it's not anything formal, just a group of friends who happen to write.

SPJ: What has writing these works done for you and what do you hope it will do for your readers? What do you hope they will take away with them after reading your books? Pure reading enjoyment or some thought provoking material?

Cora: What writing my stories has done is open a whole new world Giving me the association of other writers who have become friends, the renewal of old acquaintances who came back to me after reading the books, and the resources of many, many serious professional writers who are available to help the novice.

I am always humbled by the responses of my readers. It is satisfying beyond my ability of expression to hear them relate a personal association to my stories.

I don't believe that there can be pure enjoyment in fictional novels, I believe that every author imparts some moral opinion with their words. The very basics of a plot is the premise of a moral decision. So unless the work is totally without plot, it cannot help but impart some moral opinion. I like to read about fine gowns and moonlight romances, luscious meals and beautiful people and I find some education in even the most obvious escapism literature.

SPJ: How supportive was your family in your writing experience and how important do you think this is to a writer?

Cora: I don't believe that a non-professional writer can, or should, devote serious time to writing without the support of their family. It's about meeting obligations to them first. Degrees of support vary I suppose, each writer's situation is different, and I am fortunate in the sacrifices that my family members willingly make for me to pursue this.

SPJ: It is said, that writers are always thinking of their next work; mulling over new characters or new experiences to mold into a story. With that said, do you have any other works in progress? If so in what genre and when will they be released?

Cora: I have about six complete manuscripts at present some more "finished" than others. All are fiction, a couple might qualify as thrillers and there's even one with a pioneer theme. I only have one actually in the submission process at present so I'm nowhere near a release date for these. One a year is enough I believe. My recent experiences include jury duty on two homicide cases, great material for a writer.

SPJ: Ah! One busy lady! I look forward to reading all your works when they are completed. How many hours a day do you write?

Cora: Probably averages about two hours. Some days I get more time than others, and I have written for six and eight hour stretches, then I have also gone a week without putting down a word. My writing turns out better when I want to do it (okay, I'll admit to poor discipline, just don't tell my publisher.)

SPJ: Is there a special place that you write, one that inspires you? Has there been a special person who inspired you to write?

Cora: I used to write in the lower portion of our building, it inspired me to type fast because it was cold - and not to get so involved in the process that I couldn't watch out for nocturnal visitors, like the raccoons and skunks who had access whenever I wanted fresh air. Now I am very content, without the need for inspiration, in a corner of the guest bedroom UPSTAIRS.

Not one person inspired me, but I'll happily credit all the marvelous writers I've read through the years. They have so long been my heroes; it is scarcely believable that I share the title author with any of them.

SPJ: Has having a book published changed your life in anyway and if so please share that with us.

Cora: It has brought me closer to my family, has renewed old friendships and given me new ones. Librarians love me and I keep the Post Office busy. What more could I ask for?

SPJ: Where do you hope your writing career will be in 3 years and what are you doing to achieve that goal.

Cora: Mostly, I'm writing. Three years should mean three more books.

SPJ: Great news for us! A question a little off the beaten track, do you read and if so what genre is your favorite?

Cora: Shirley, that's a bit like asking if the Pope is Catholic. I have been reading since age five and was known to read encyclopedias as bedtime relaxation when I was ten. A trip to the library is how I reward myself for little things. A stack of books exists in nearly every area that I might frequent during the day. It is honest truth that I only starting writing because I had run out of things to read one night and couldn't sleep, and it had taken a whole series of misadventures to reduce my reading inventory to that level.

I read best sellers in fiction, just about any genre (except maybe fantasy which tends to require too much imagination for me), biographies, mostly historical, (current biographies seem more like either press releases or nasty attacks). I also like studies of different periods in history and generally I'm undertaking a self-education in one time period or another as part of my reading regimen, as well as tackling research questions for whatever I'm currently writing.

My favorite authors would have to be James Michener, James Lee Burke, Pat Conroy. Those I enjoy for the intensity of their writing, which I long appreciated before I ever attempted the craft. I have just discovered T. Jefferson Parker who may be as powerful. I read Patricia Cromwell, John Grisham, and James Patterson and enjoy them, add some Stephen King (the most realistic) and just about every other well known name .I know, I'll just get the library to forward their inventory list, that should cover it.

SPJ: Would you tell us a little about yourself, outside of being a published author?

Cora: I am wife, mother and grandmother. I was trained in advertising art in Cincinnati, Ohio and moved to Louisiana as a young adult. I've resided in Concordia Parish since 1969. I have been employed in newspaper and radio. For the past ten years I have owned and operated a small plant nursery and garden center. I am a licensed landscape contractor.

In the past I was active in field trailing Beagles and was instrumental in the formation of several clubs in our state to promote the hunting hound. I also competed in horse shows riding a wide variety of breeds and classes.

I still prefer a day in the woods to a day at the mall and remain proud of calluses and work worn skin.

I try to be fair and kind to everyone I meet - honest plus dependable in my life and writing.

SPJ: You are one interesting and talented lady Cora. Please use this space for anything you would like to share with our readers concerning publishing, writing or your publishing experience in general.

Cora: As I stated earlier there is a lot of controversy surrounding small and first time publishers, some with merit and some without. But the resources exist through diligent web search for anyone who is serious about becoming published a far cry from years past. So I think perhaps all recent authors should pause a bit and give thanks for the opportunities that they now enjoy and resolve to assist others who would have the same dreams. If I can help anyone at all I will gladly do so. Thank you for showing an interest in me and my work, Shirley, and thanks to all who've taken time to read this.

SPJ: Thank you Cora for sharing with us your life and your works. Readers, I cannot recommend Cora's work highly enough. She is an outstanding writer, her words you will not soon forget. I know that she has only just begun and the future holds exciting achievements for her. Many blessings.


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Shirley Johnson
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