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MBR Bookwatch

Volume 6, Number 4 April 2007 Home | MBW Index

Table of Contents

Cowper's Bookshelf Dunford's Bookshelf Klausner's Bookshelf
Laurel's Bookshelf Shelley's Bookshelf Shirley's Bookshelf
Taylor's Bookshelf Vogel's Bookshelf  

Cowper's Bookshelf

What Every Mother Should Tell Their Daughters
The Nita
BookSurge LLC
5341 Dorchester Road, Suite 16, Charleston, South Carolina 29418
1419615947 $11.99

Written by The Nita, an African-American survivor of domestic abuse who has risen above her destructive path through her faith in God and became the first Armed Services Officer in her family, What Every Mother Should Tell Their Daughters: A Book For Women is a guide written especially for mothers and daughters everywhere to avoiding harmful patterns in one's life. Peppered with vignette's from the author's life and her memories of her own mother and grandmother, What Every Mother Should Tell Their Daughters includes such pearls of wisdom as "Don't let circumstances control you", "Never compromise your beliefs or your principles; the results will be pain", "When you want a change in life, do something different", and "Teach your daughters how to manage their finances" . ("For some odd reason we seem to believe that the first sign of growing up and being on our own is to get as many credit cards as we can and max them all out! Completely untrue!") A Best Books Award Finalist at, What Every Mother Should Tell Their Daughters is a tenderly written, solidly grounded guide especially recommended as a mother's day or daughter's birthday gift.

The Polish Woman
Eva Mekler
Bridge Works Publishing
PO Box 1798, Bridgehampton, NY 11932
1882593995 $21.95

Written by Eva Mekler, The Polish Woman is a haunting novel about tragedy and love. Set in 1967 New York, The Polish Woman follows the story of Jewish lawyer Philip Landau, charged with handling the estate of a holocaust survivor, when a woman appears on his doorstep and identifies herself as the survivor's daughter, long since presumed dead. Even though she remembers certain details that suggest she could be the missing daughter, the situation appears suspicious, especially with inheritance at stake, yet Philip is dutifully obligated to meticulously research and examine her story. In the process, and in spite of professional etiquette, he falls in love with her. In a trip to Poland, a nation rife with postwar anti-Semitism, the two of them uncover the full truth that will forever change their relationship. A poignant and emotional tale of terrible repercussions that last a lifetime.

Carla Gibson
Llumina Press
7915 W. McNab Road, Tamarac, FL 33321
1595266518 $16.95

Written by registered nurse Carla Gibson, Jaded is the story of a woman caught between two loves, and a much more sinister plot. Doctor Erin Tyler is troubled by her feelings for her brilliant, career-minded ex-fiance Chris and her current rock musician boyfriend on tour to Ireland. Chris' mentor Alec has already decided that Erin is the perfect bride for Chris, and Alec's adulterous wife is up to plots of her own. A crisscrossed tale of seduction, trickery, hidden plots and powerful emotions that threaten to overwhelm reason, highly recommended.

Magdalena's Conflict
Frances Bries Wojnar
Xlibris Corporation
International Plaza II, Suite 340, Philadelphia, PA 19113
1413489389, $21.99

A carefully constructed mystery novel by Frances Bries Wojnar, "Magdalena's Conflict" is set in a community of Catholic nuns when Mother Rosaria's death seems to be from natural causes by everyone except Sister Camille who asks Detective Henry Kummer to look into the matter. This request alarms the New Mother Superior who orders Sister Camille to see a psychologist. The result is Sister Camille's examination of why she embraced the religious life of a nun. As the investigation by Detective Kummer proceeds, the reader is treated to a gradual uncovering of the rituals and personality conflicts that are a part of the life and society of the nuns. One unexpected result is Sister Camille resuming her civilian identity as Maggie Brenner and her evolving romance with Detective Kummer as the two work together to discover the truth about the death of Mother Rosaria. A superbly crafted novel and one that clearly documents Frances Bries Wojnar as a gifted storyteller, "Magdalena's Conflict" is especially recommended for mystery enthusiasts who enjoy a well crafted, well rounded mystery novel, and for non-specialist general readers who would enjoy a novel set within the world and lives of Catholic nuns. "Magdalena's Conflict" will have its readers looking eagerly toward Frances Wojnar's next novel!

Mary Cowper

Dunford's Bookshelf

The Manuscript
Brien Jones
Airleaf Publishing
35 Industrial Drive, Suite 104, Martinsville, IN 46151
1594534683 $12.00

The Manuscript is a tongue-in-cheek funny novel that blends the publishing industry, small town life, and high-stakes political intrigue. When Lee Goodwin, a sales rep at a print-on-demand publisher receives a manuscript in the mail, he reads it and discovers that it is beyond extraordinary - it explains the machinations of "The Club" and how their grip of power transformed the world. Mysteries and secrets ranging from JFK's assassination to what happened to Amelia Earheart are explained. Now the FBI and "The Club" are both hot on Lee's tail, placing his life in danger. Can Lee expose the secrets of "The Club", and will anyone believe him if he does? A roller coaster adventure ride from cover to cover, dotted with fascinating true anecdotes of American history throughout.

Earth is Ours
Gary W. Babb
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200, Bloomington, Indiana 47403
142592364X $22.95

Winner of the "Best SciFi/Fantasy 2005" prize of the San Diego Book Awards, Earth is Ours is an epic science fiction novel set on a world that aliens have stripped bare of technology. A self-aware, female computer and an American Indian man dying of old age must join forces for the sake of mutual survival, yet before they can battle the aliens, they must struggle against each other to determine who they will be jointly. Their conflict of minds gradually evolves toward tolerance, cooperation, and love - and they will need each other's full cooperation and strength to have a prayer of freeing the human race. An action-packed, fast-paced saga, presented alternately from the perspectives of the two heroes, Earth is Ours is highly recommended. A sequel, "Target Earth", is forthcoming.

Follow Me To Glory
Will Hutchison
Infinity Publishing
1094 New DeHaven Street, Suite 100, West Conshohocken, PA 19428-2713
0741435608 $19.95

US Army and Marine Corps officer Will Hutchison engaged in extensive research and interviews with serving and retired Scots Guards officers while writing Follow Me To Glory, an exciting novel about high-spirited Scottish nobleman who, despite the odds stacked against him, battles to become a skilled fighting officer in one of the most prestigious regiments of the British Army during the Crimean War. He wanted nothing more in his life than to lead men to war - but the glory he craved would come at a horrific price. A tautly written saga of the valor and bloodshed of combat, penned with meticulous attention to historical detail.

Famous Failures
Joey Green
Lunatic Press
PO Box 4571, West Hills, CA 91308
0977259021, $10.95

"Famous Failures" is a hefty little 288-page compendium showcasing descriptive vignettes of hundreds of famous and successful people in the fields of entertainment, sports, science, politics, and literature who all shared one thing in common – they experienced failure. From Albert Einstein who failed the entrance exams to the Swiss Polytechnic Institute, to J. K. Rowling (author of the Harry Potter novels) who was so impoverished that she lived on welfare in an apartment infested with mice, to Sharon Stone who could not get a date to her own highschool prom dance, to Dick Cheney who flunked out of Yale University (twice!), to John Wayne who was rejected from the United States Naval Academy, to Steve Jobs (founder of Apple Computer) who dropped out of Reed College in his freshman year, "Famous Failures" lists the well known and well respected who sometime in their lives and careers got rejected, flunked out, worked lousy jobs, goofed up, did time in jail, or had other kinds of failure experiences and frustrations before achieving the successes for which they are now know. A terrifically great read, "Famous Failures" is especially recommended for anyone getting discouraged about overcoming the seeming failures in their own lives and career paths.

Michael Dunford

Klausner's Bookshelf

Blood Red Square
Pat Mullan
LBF Books
0977308251, $14.95

In 1961 in Leopoldville, the Congo, the American Kearns and the Russian Zhukov ask the mercenary major with the Anglo-Irish accent if all is ready. He tells them that the VIP will meet with Mobutu before flying on to see Tshombe in Ndola; he will not make it there. They give him 50% of his fee. Three days later UN Secretariat Dag Hammarskjold and his retinue die in a place crash on his way from seeing Mobutu to meet with Tshombe. Rumors fly that his death was no accident, but no proof surfaces to prove otherwise and within two years an assassination in Dallas became the centerfold of conspiracy buffs. In 1997 as part of President Yelstin opening up Russia to new freedoms, secret documents of the KGB Communist reign are being revealed. Russian businessman Misha Kedrov finds some damming evidence implicating the Soviet Union and the U.S. in the death of Hammarskjold. Knowing who else was murdered as part of the Hammarskjold contingent, an outraged Misha takes his find to terrorist Conor "Eduardo Kelly Herrera" Brady with hopes and prayers to cause a new rift between the tentative allies the Americans and the Russians. President Clinton learns of the brewing problem sends his top troubleshooter Special Envoy Owen MacDara to do what is necessary to prevent a new Cold War from heating up. The key to this action-packed thriller that effortlessly moves back and forth between 1997 and 1961 is the plausibility of the two superpowers agreeing to rid themselves of a champion of the Third World, who wants the giants to stop using these poorer nations as heated pawns of the Cold War. The story line is action-packed from start to finish and the prime antagonists seem genuine. Adding to the realism of this exhilarating conspiracy tale is real world leaders like Clinton, Yelstin and Blair. Pat Mullan spins a one sitting suspense novel that will leave the audience demanding he take a close look at JFK's death next.

Lightning and Lace
DiAnn Mills
Barbour Books
1810 Barbour Drive, Uhrichsville, OH 44683
1597893579 $9.97

In 1898 Kahlerville, Texas, every morning for almost three years, Bonnie wakes up praying Ben is in bed with her instead of in the grave before putting on her happy face so that their two sons Zack and Michael Paul go to school in a positive mood and their daughter Lydia Anne can feel contented. Inside, Bonnie knows she still mourns her loss and has not moved on. After forty years preaching at the Piney Woods Church, Reverend John Rainer, Bonnie's stepfather, is retiring; Travis Whitworth will replace him though the congregation believes no one can take the place of their beloved pastor especially a bachelor. On his first day in town, Travis breaks up a fight between kids whom he escorts to the school only to have one of them Zack lie to his mother about his intervention. However, she soon realizes her son lied and has been abusive to his younger siblings too. As Travis begins preaching, he also works repairs at her ranch and takes over "fathering" an angry Zack. Travis and Bonnie fall in love, but neither has time to explore their feelings. Travis finds the murdered body of Rosie with much of his flock assuming he is the culprit because of the whispers of a model citizen and because he is the newcomer; that is without anyone knowing about his past. The third Texas Legacy western romance (see LEATHER AND LACE and LANTERNS AND LACE) is a fabulous historical that once again interweaves its message of have faith in the Lord during the good and bad times into an exciting late nineteenth century historicals tale. Bonnie and Travis are fully developed interesting protagonists who fall in love although have doubts that they are worthy of such regard. The support cast, as always with DiAnn Mills' saga augments the plot; in this case especially Zack. Though the homicide adds late suspense, fans will appreciate the entertaining inspirational latest "Lace" novel.

Down the Road: On the Last Day
Bowie Ibarra
Permuted Press

Nobody knows where or how it started, but people suddenly became ill from a plague and died only to be reanimated as zombies. These born again creatures have lost the ability to logically plan with their only objective to eat the living. Anyone butchered by them turned. The plague spread exponentially around the country although some small human enclaves like Beauxville were able to close their borders after removing the zombies from within. Desperate the United States invites UN troops onto its soil to help Homeland Security and local law enforcement cope with the crisis. People were ordered to go to FEMA camps and leave behind safe towns. Those who refused the marital law order were killed. Red La Rue and Alex Rich team up and head to Beeville, which they heard remains a safe independent town. However, near the outskirts of the town, they observe a UN unit preparing to mount a deadly assault. Bowie Ibarra writes an intelligent paranormal thriller loaded with blood, and gore that enables the reader to understand fully how dangerous the zombies, the government, and human marauders have become in a world filled with malice and mayhem. The outside forces have their plans for America while those besieged by a power hungry government and hungry zombies struggle to stay free and live. DOWN THE ROAD: ON THE LAST DAY is a great Zombie saga that will have George Romero reconsider his epics

The Giant Leaf
Davy Liu
Winepress Publishing
1730 Railroad Street, Enumclaw, WA 98022
1579218644, $19.95

Every night the exhausted Kendu the fox dreams of a giant leaf, which he believes means freedom from slaving to cruel beasts who own him. He finally escapes through a hole in the ground to the Out There. Kendu meets Yitzhak the monkey who also dreams of the giant leaf while worried that the ferocious Animal eater is cutting down the trees. Kendu and Yitzhak head to the Wilds in search of the giant leaf. They meet a weeping koala bear Odalia whose mate Gula is missing. She too dreams of the giant leaf. In the Wilds the trio sees the Animal Eater, but fear confronting it as they also see creatures inside it. As lightning and thunder fill the air with the implication of a storm to end all storms about to occur, the threesome must decide to "take a giant leaf of faith " or hide from the Animal Eater. This is a fantastic retelling with superb illustrations of one of the great tales from the bible. Though targeting children, adults will appreciate this delightful personification saga of three courageous animals on a quest for freedom and to rescue Gula; not prepared for what awaits them at the end of their journey.

Beyond the Hedge
Roby James
Juno Books
c/o Wildside Press
9710 Traville Gateway Drive, #234, Rockville, MD 20850
0809556790, $12.95

An orphan since her parents and her brother died in an accident, Jennifer Paul is a business executive at Glidden Industries currently based in London. She enjoyed her work for the firm in Boston and initially in London until her boss at both locales moved on to Barcelona leaving her to cope with the insidious Cobra whose unreasonable assignments are given to her so she would appear to simply want to resign. Thus spending Christmas with her Aunt Cecelia in Wales is a welcome respite. Accompanied by her greyhound Dragon, she drives towards her Aunt's home when she comes across a barrier on the road; a hedge is where no hedge should be and except for turning around Jennifer has no place to drive. While pondering what is going on, Jennifer takes a canine pit stop when a cat comes out of the hedge talking in the King's English; Dragon chases Malkin the cat back through the hedge. Jennifer follows her dog only to find a strange realm that should not be there. She learns she has stepped into Clipton Magna circa 1805 where King George III still misrules; a place in which nuns created a sanctuary for star-crossed lovers to include the Prince Regent whose marriage to Mrs. FitzHerbert was considered invalid. There Jennifer meets the Squire's son, Jeremy Clipton, who falls in love with Jennifer; but she does not belong there as this is magical land for the star-crossed not the no-crossed. If she fails to leave the land could die; if she leaves Jeremy could die of a broken heart. This is a fun Alice falling through the rabbit hole into a Brigadoon romantic fantasy. In some ways the story line feels like a time travel tale as the heroine leaves today when she crosses the hedge into the regency era. With a personification spin provided by Malkin and a wise owl (any other kind?), fans will enjoy Jennifer's adventures on the other side of the hedge.

A Mortal Glamour
Chelsea Quinn Yarbro
c/o Wildside Press
9710 Traville Gateway Drive, #234, Rockville, MD 20850
0809557940, $12.95

At the bidding of the Cardinal, Frere Odo delivers young Mere Leonie to replace the late saintly elderly Mere Jacinthe at la Tres Saunte Annunciacion to the shock of the nuns stationed there at a time when the plague, war, and a divided Papacy haunt the believers. Meanwhile noble born Seur Aungelique welcomes the newcomer as she hopes the youthful Mere will bring life to the dull tedious monastery; however Aungelique also refuses to take a chance on another Jacinthe so this is a good moment to sneak away. Seur Aungelique escapes to learn more about the pleasures of the flesh having enjoyed the sin of touching herself. She travels to Un Nouveautie to meet the renowned wealthy courtesan la Comtesse Orienne de Hautlimois to learn what she can about carnal pleasures. Orienne tutors the nun who ultimately returns to the monastery where she acts demonically possessed by defiling the church with her contagious lust as she sexually pleasures and punishes her seurs and any monsieur including the Frere who visits them. The once pious monastery has become a house of ill repute where demonic debauchery for the damned is the only prayers answered by sexual meditation. A MORTAL GLAMOUR is a reprint of a two decade old thriller that does not include Saint Germain. The story line brings to life medieval France at a time in which the world seems to be going crazy even before the nuns turn into bawdy lustful seurs. Readers will appreciate Chelsea Quinn Yarbro's dark fourteenth century thriller as la Tres Saunte Annunciacion becomes home to the sinful debauched while wondering if this is the devil's work, simply mob mentality mortals breaking God's commandments, or bad food and drink causing madness.

The Strangeling
Saskia Walker
Juno Books
c/o Wildside Press
9710 Traville Gateway Drive, #234, Rockville, MD 20850
0809557932, $9.95

In her lifetime no one was abducted by the evil Druids though stories persist that was not so a century ago. Most of the young assume it is an adult device to make them behave. However, with Samheim Eve five nights away, the hooded figure kidnaps the maiden Maerose as he knows she is they key to how the STRANGELING curse will be unleashed upon the world. Veldar the Druid believes that if he takes her virginity on Samheim Eve, he will prevent the only means of stopping his diabolical plan of bringing forth an army of evil spirits under his control that will attack the living. If he does not and she mates with a pious believer, the portal to allow evil to cross will remain closed. However, over confident, Veldar fails to insure his unwilling future mate cannot escape. Instead Bron rescues Maerose, who realizes to save her life and that of her people, he is the one she must mate with on Samheim Eve as in his way he is a true believer. This short novel (175 pages) packs a lot of action and three well developed characters in the exciting story line. Most fascinating is how similar Veldar and Bron are though at the same time they are opposites as each fervently and passionately believe in what they are doing yet the villainous druid is a megalomaniac while the hero is a caring kindhearted soul. That comparison along with the coming of age of Maerose from a village mouse into a superhero provides the audience with a wonderful one sitting fantasy.

Craig W. Tweedle
Llumina Press
7915 W. McNab Road, Tamarac, FL 33321
1595266798, $12.95

Since he entered school, Neil MacAllistair was physically, mentally, and emotionally abused by his peers. Now a senior in high school, he is barely enduring his lot at school but when he goes home, his drunken abusive father also beats him up. One day in the school corridor, Heather bumps into Neil but starts screaming that he hit her. Her boyfriend John Crossman, a demon on the football field, chokes him to within an inch of his life. When he goes home after that, he is stomped on by John and his two football buddies. As he lies dying, he enters a realm where people who were hurt for no reason turn into demons and kill those who picked on them. The overseer of the realm Luharen offers to make Neil one of the brotherhood, turning him into one of his demons so he can go out and kill those who tortured him. When he arrives back into the mortal world he pledges himself to Luharen and becomes a demon. He goes after the people who hurt him killing them one by one while the whole town is helpless to stop him. He has one last kill but his only friend as a mortal is trying to convince Neil that to forgive is humanly divine. Although targeted for the teen crowd, adults will enjoy DEMON just as well. There is a lesson to be learned from the plot. A person can takes so much bullying and violence before they erupt and turn the table on their tormentors. Readers will pity the boy Neil once was and hate the demon he has become. Timothy fights evil with evil and in the process becomes one of the damned and what he embraces he has become. Craig W. Tweedle has written a fine horror novel.

The Heart of Mars
Chuck Rosenthal
Hollyridge Press
0977229858, $23.95

The Return of the Nutions, as it is called now, happened when Earth was almost destroyed. The Nutions, who originally settled the planet, found a world in the throes of global warming and the rise of the oceans, which if not checked, will turn the globe into a new Ice Age. The amphibious Nutions stabilized the orb and these sentient beings benevolently ruled the earth except for the Wild Zones where feral humans live. Fish farms operate on Ghost Moon (Europia) run by Nutions (like everything else in the galaxy). A freighter from there containing fish heads for earth but is hijacked and reported headed to Mars. Marl a half-breed human-Nution, investigates starting with a trip to Europa to mollify the angry locals and hopefully find some clues amidst the dolphins and whales who do not want to keep working for the Nutions. He learns of a Kurtz involved in the hijacking and much more as a volatile Mars contains competing ethnic cultures battling for control of the planet and fomenting galaxy wide revolution. This exciting science fiction can be read on several levels. On the surface it is a simple detective story of a hybrid man working a stolen shipment case. ON a deeper level, the plot is a cautionary tale warning people about that "Inconvenient Truth". Even more profound is humanity's place in the universe. Chuck Rosenthal entertains his audience as he says we get what we ask for in this fascinating space thriller seen through the eyes of Marl.

Just Like A Fairy Tale
Sophia Babai
Luna Brillante Publishing
0978527224 $TBA

She arrives at the Eva After restaurant not remembering anything though the eatery seems to beckon her. Her first reception there is from a young woman who accuses her of being a whore and costing her a waitress position at the eatery when they both worked there. Next the owner Kevin has missed Anima Sola, but now that she has returned he wants to hit her; he settles for yelling at her asking why she came back and what she did with his pants when she left. Kevin has a "guest" little Eva who tells him to be nice to the bewildered woman Kevin provides shelter to a god-like creature Taliesin who is in mortal combat with his malevolent brother Morfran. However, Taliesin seems to behave as if he prefers death in spite of raging Kevin's frustrated coaxing to fight. Anima realizes Kevin's guest knows who she truly is, but he refuses to reveal anything of importance to her. Instead, he encourages her to learn the truth with surly Kevin's help because for him to defeat Morfran, he needs this duo. This is a character driven fantasy starring a strange super-being, a female amnesiac, and a churlish hero, who argue and fusses even when confronting the enemy. Readers will enjoy the verbal battles between the magnificent trio, as they prepare to battle evil though the loquaciousness makes the story line more passive then action fans will want. Still fantasy readers will enjoy the first Walking Shadows thriller while welcoming a new talent into the fold.

To Save the World
Heather Hayashi
Synergy Books
c/o BookPros
2100 Kramer Lane, Suite 300, Austin, Texas 78758
193353835X, $21.50

On the continent Zultar on the world of Arhka war between the two humanoid races Teregians and the Vampires remains heated as it has for generations. On another large landmass Venin reside the Dragons who manipulate ITH'RYA energy magic with goals of becoming the solo supreme species and the mysterious Derus. Since their feeding has collapsed due to the near extinctions of humans, the Vampires prove necessity is the mother of invention by creating a technology that enables them to feed on humans on other orbs. Sixteen year old high school student Stephanie Milianis and her mother Elsie move onto the estate of her late maternal grandfather. Not long afterward the two female Milianis and Stephanie's best friend Eris are accidentally yanked through the Vampiric portal to Arhka. However, as shocking as the trip proves, even more stunning toStephanie is that her mom knows this world having been here before. That disclosure turns out to be minor as her late forties mom is considered "The Power" by those strange humanoids they have met. The Teregians believe their goddess has come home to lead them to victory, but also feel Stephanie was brought here for a reason too. They need her help to win the war and prevent extinction yet the Dragons offer a different perspective of the future that splits mom and daughter. This is a terrific fantasy tale that feels fresh because of the changing relationship between mother and daughter. The issue of trust plays out on a global stage as Stephanie struggles with the revelations about her mother that mom never mentioned to her. Thus besides the global war and the realism of the four species and their respective cultures and geography, fans will appreciate the coming of age of a tomboy who struggles with what to do as everyone seems right yet everyone seems wrong.

Ron Stodghill
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
0060897155, $25.95 1-800-242-7737

While the 1996 Olympics placed Atlanta on a world stage, someone murdered forty-one years old ACCESS, Inc. computer consulting firm CEO Lance Herndon. Besides his once successful firm that was suffering from financial troubles, the victim was considered a star player amongst the affluent African-American jet set. Herndon was known to have quite the sexual appetite especially for "redbones" petite, light-skinned black women. One of his redbones, Dionne Baugh, was convicted of killing him as the prosecution pointed out that she became outraged after they had sex because she learned he was not going to help her in court with a charge of trespassing at his home; so while he was sleeping, she killed him. This is an interesting true crime book because of its close look at the power of affluent blacks in the New South. Thus the background and the victim come across three dimensional especially his sultan like behavior towards his harem. Though Herndon's convicted killer seems to nebulous except for her temper and court date motive, Ron Stodghill provides a solid entry that true crime readers will appreciate.

Getting Some
Kayla Perrin
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
0373605145, $13.95

Having obtained a modicum of revenge against the three male losers they were in respective relationships (see GETTING EVEN) with, the three friends (Lashelle, Claudia, and Annalise) and the latter's sister Samera each wonders now what. The exception is Annelise, who is enjoying great sex with a caring partner Dominic so different than her ex spouse Charles. However, Annelise notices how depressed her two buddies and her sibling are though she thinks the latter is because she left behind her beloved Miguel in Costa Rica. She decides to treat the trio with a trip to Sin City for them to find sex partners to indulge in their whims; she will pay for the trip to Vegas from the money she is making from the sale of her house (tough break for Charles). In Vegas, Lashelle finds several hunks to her liking; Claudia is ready to put away her gadget for real time with a younger hunk, who makes her feel good about being her which is so different than her former fiance Adam; and Samera has nasty Pierre, but pines for Miguel. However, when they return to Atlanta, someone stalks them threatening each of the four females; wondering if one of their former men has concocted a plan of vengeance. The sequel is a fine contemporary character study that showcases four females trying to continue their recovery from broken relationships. The story line rotates perspective with each of the fearsome foursome coming across as genuine and unique as their needs vary. Though the suspense comes late and seems a bit off kilter for this erotic Hot-Atlantans As they seek their groove, Kayla Perrin's fans will appreciate getting more escapades from this likable group.

Take Me Tonight
Roxanne St. Clair
Pocket Books
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 13th fl., New York, NY 10020
1416521860, $6.99 1-800-223-2336

Investigative reporter Sage Valentine asks her friend Lucy Sharpe of Bullet Catchers to help her learn what happened to her roommate Keisha Kingston. Lucy says the firm does not do investigations unless it relates to personal protection of a client, but gives Sage a thin folder filled with some data. Keisha apparently paid to abduct her and rescue her in a role playing fantasy adventure. Whereas Lucy insists Keisha committed suicide, Sage believes somehow that thrill Internet site led to her murder. She plans to uncover the truth about this division of Fantasy Adventures software gaming company. To do this Sage plans to register with so that she can be kidnaped. However, Lucy worries about her niece doing something foolish so she "hires" Bullet Catchers to protect Sage. Johnny Christiano pretends he is part of the rescue team to keep her safe. As they fall in love, Sage and Johnny team up to learn the truth about and her late roommate. This latest Bullet Catcher thriller is a fast-paced romantic suspense with the cautionary buyer beware warning when purchasing personal services over the Internet. The action never slows down once Johnny "rescues" Sage even when he cooks the sexiest tastiest repast in years. Fans of the series will appreciate TAKE ME TONIGHT as Roxanne St. Clair provides a faster then a speeding bullet tale. The Erotic

Secrets of a French Maid
Lisa Cach
Pocket Books
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 13th fl., New York, NY 10020
1416513302, $13.00 1-800-223-2336

In Seattle, Emma Mayson finds life after college not easy and very expensive as she is unable to find work in her architectural field. Needing to pay her bills including her student loan and eat, Emma finds work cleaning houses. Her employment introduces the impoverished wannabe architect to handsome successful Russell Carrick, CEO of TrackingTech, a firm that develops software to track inventory. He seems to her as being all work and no fun except for ice hockey; but he plays that for exercise at least that is what he insists. Desiring her and unable to accept the beautiful female cleaning his underwear or even making his bed, he offers her a different role. Attracted to Russell and seeing a chance to make more money faster, Emma accepts changing from duster buster to mistress for one year. However, she makes the worst mistake a kept woman of pleasure can make: she falls in love with Russell, who she assumes sees her as a one year sex partner just as in their original agreement. This is a fun lighthearted contemporary romance starring two likable protagonists whose affair turns into much more, but both fears revealing their vulnerability to the other. Readers will enjoy Lisa Cach's delightful tale of the American French maid and her computer nerd finding love in the northwest.

Tough Enough
Michele Albert
Pocket Books
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 13th fl., New York, NY 10020
1416531394, $6.99 1-800-223-2336

As an agent of Avalon, Will Tiernay knows you can't pick your assignments, but this one he wonders if he should claim a conflict of interest. His superior at the privately owned and funded agency that recovers stolen art has tasked Will to go undercover to learn who at Haddington Reproduction plans to switch the authentic priceless Eudoxia Reliquary collection with apparent realistic fakes. His fears is that Mia Dolan, the only woman he ever loved, is one of the bad guys. Will and Mia realize from the first moment of their second time around, the attraction remains stratospheric. As they explore their feelings, he worries foremost that she might be a thief and if not that she will never forgive him for his deception as she will wonder if he used her to get at the con artist(s). As they fall in love again, both have their doubts, but first they must deal with the issue of a clever felon whose replacement plan is foolproof as the fakes look so much like the real that most people would fall for switch. The art theft is the prime story line of a terrific romantic mystery although the second chance at love augments the dilemma facing the hero. The action-packed story line never slows down while leaving a few dangling threads for more Avalon thrillers. However, the reason this is worth reading by sub-genre fans is the doubt whether Mia is a crook hiding in plain sight of love, an unsuspecting dupe, or something else as Michele Albert leaves ONE WAY OUT for her lead couple.

A Wicked Gentleman
Jane Feather
Pocket Books
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 13th fl., New York, NY 10020
1416525513, $7.99 1-800-223-2336

To escape from the demands of her late husband's father, widow Cornelia "Nell" Dagenheim, accompanied by her children, heads to London to spend a month with her widowed sister-in-law Ellie and her children and their best friend Livia. The house the three country mice and their offspring plan to stay in belongs to Livia, who recently inherited the home. To their shock, the house is in bad shape as if someone deliberately tore it apart in search of something. Just after her arrival she meets Harry Bonham who offers to buy the townhouse. Harry is a royal cryptographer, who fears that somewhere in the house is a code breaking device that the French want. As he courts the widow to gain access to where she is staying, someone abducts her oldest son, heir to an earldom. Whereas she assumes ransom money and he considers the French involvement, either way they work together to rescue her child even as they fall in love while doing so. The lead couple supplemented by a horde of family and friends turn A WICKED GENTLEMAN into a superb Regency romantic investigative tale. The two prime subplots, the mystery and the romance blend together into a cohesive save the child thriller. Fans of the author already know she is no featherweight but instead a sub-genre superheavyweight as this team up of a frantic amateur sleuth mom and the spy she loves proves.

Red Hot Reunion
Bella Andre
Pocket Books
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 13th fl., New York, NY 10020
1416524185, $14.00 1-800-223-2336

At college Emma Cartwright fell in love with Jason Roberts. However, instead of following her heart she listened to her parents that she should marry her own kind not a scholarship type. She wed Steven instead and after a few unhappy years with the womanizer they divorced. She regrets heeding her parents' admonition as she knows she threw away the love of a lifetime. Ten years later they will see one another for the first time since she dumped him at the Stanford University class reunion. He, like his two scholarship friends, Rick Stodler and Ace McKinty, has become a success as a celebrity chef with a TV show and a bestselling book. He intends to attend only to avenge the affront that has burned his heart. However, when they see one another for the first time in a decade, the attraction remains strong, but not as powerful as his thirst for vengeance as he holds her culpable for the big hurt that haunts him regardless of the myriad of women he has been with since. RED HOT REUNION lives up to its title and more as the lead couple have a second chance at love if they can get past the recriminations and go to the heart of the matter between them. The story line contains light bondage as Emma and Jason provide torrid sexual encounters. The suspense remains whether Jason can see the truth of his failure a decade ago; Emma seen it form the moment she realized Steven was cheating on her while saying I do. Belle Andre writes a heated contemporary romance starring likable lead characters who hopefully find the ties that bind outside the bedroom as well as those they already have found inside the bedroom.

Laugh Lines
Holly Jacobs
Avalon Books
160 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10016
0803498144, $21.95 212-598-0222

Accepting the job as CEO at Hamlin Text, publishers of education books, Dani Sinclair returns to her hometown of Erie, Pennsylvania only to be under attack by a woman eating mutant bugs in a gas station bathroom. She flees out of the bathroom almost knocking out Luke Miller with the door. She explains about the killer monster inside as he drives her to a meeting. Luke, owner of Chuckles comedy club, enjoyed her saga of the killer bug so he invites her to perform standup at his establishment. She reluctantly agrees to try her hand at comedy. A few rotten tomatoes and other fruits and vegetables later, Luke and Dani begin to fall in love, as advertised by the disc jockeys of love emceeing at the club and hosting their shows on WLVH radio romance. The fourth WLVH Radio Romance" (see NIGHT CALLS, LOVE HANDLES and PICKUP LINES) is a fun lighthearted romp starring two likable protagonists. The humorous novel hooks the audience early when Dani fleeing from the terrorist bug that almost decapitates Luke. Her story to him of her escapade to escape an enemy combatant that sized her up as lunch sets the tone of an amusing contemporary romance that never misses a laugh except for a kiss.

Louise Bagshawe
c/o Penguin Group, USA
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0452288142, $14.00 1-800-847-5515

In Paris, jewelry tycoon Pierre Massot vanishes. His British wife Sophie remains in the city raising their son Tom in hopes that Pierre will return. However, she is very unhappy besides there is no closure as the millions spent on investigations proved fruitless. She also has to put up with the bullying tactics of Pierre's mother Katherine. Finally after seven years have passed since her husband disappeared; a fearful Sophie, over the objection of her martinet mother-in-law, has Pierre legally declared dead. Sophie begins to look into the House Massot business. Company CEO Gregoire Lazard offers her lessons in the boardooom and bedroom. Pierre's former lover American expatriate head of public relations Judy Dean "befriends" the widow to insure Sophie does not interfere with her get rich schemes. As Sophie learns the business, some of Pierre's darkest secrets including the Russian connection, she meets fellow Brit Hugh Montfort, who offers her real comfort though he himself has suffered from personal tragedy. When this thriller looks deep into the machinations of the missing Pierre, it is intoxicating as the audicne wants more; when the story line focuses on the lifestyle especially the wardrobe of the rich and famous the plot suffers inertia as momentum is slowed. Still the cast is fully developed beyond the central lead character as the three females in Pierre's life and the four males (to include Pierre) in Sophie's life bring the plot alive. With a final plausible twist that will stun the audience, this book entertainingly SPARKLES with delight.

The Sweet Life
Lynn York
c/o Penguin Group, USA
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0452288223, $14.00 1-800-847-5515

In 1988 in Swan's Knob, North Carolina, Wilma and Roy Swan continue to behave like youthful newlyweds though they are much older and married for eight years. Life is good for this couple as the PIANO TEACHER and the grapevine farmer share what most people envy, a strong loving relationship. However, the dynamics abruptly change when Wilma's daughter from a previous marriage Sarah begs her to watch her teenage offspring Starling as she travels in the Far East. Reluctantly Wilma agrees to take in her granddaughter; not realizing that when she acquiesces Star's father Harper will also come to town. A con artist, Harper persuades Roy to let him use the farm as the setting for a small bluegrass festival starring drunken has-been Delrina Kay. Wilma objects especially when she learns that Harper is thinking of a country and western 1980s Woodstock, but soon has a different crisis to deal with when Roy suffers a debilitating stroke that leaves him near death in a comatose state. When Delrina and Harper go on a wine binge they visit Roy who regains consciousness while they serenade him. The second Swan family drama starring a delightful older couple is an interesting look at small town southern life at the end of the Reagan era. The characters are cleverly drawn especially the beleaguered Wilma whose lament has to be a family member in need is a pest that is before Roy's stroke brings home the mortality of their love for one another. Though much of the issues brought forth by the strong secondary cast are left unresolved as if plans are for a next generation sequel, fans of family dramas with fully drawn protagonists will enjoy Lynn York's latest concerto.

Where Willows Grow
Kim Vogel Sawyer
Bethany House Publishers
11400 Hampshire Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55438
0764201832, $13.99 1-800-328-6109

In 1936 Spencer, Kansas, Anna Mae Phipps feels all alone in the world as the family farm is dying due to the drought and her beloved spouse Harley has left their home to work construction for the federal government's Works in Progress Administration. She feels isolated and abandoned as she has no husband, no mule, an infant Marjorie, an older preadolescent child Dorothy, and a third on the way. Anna Mae fears that Harley will not come back to her and the kids; if he does he probably will not find them on the farm that they will surely lose. Harley misses his family as he loves his wife and two children. He desperately needs to bring in income to put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads; that is why he sold their last mule and took a crazy job on the other side of the state building a castle in Lindsborg. He left his spouse angry with him, but he knows the corn cannot grow and if it did who could afford to buy it. He plans to make enough money so that he can come home to his family on their farm. WHERE WILLOWS GROW is a strong Americana family drama that focuses on the impact of the Depression in Kansas. Readers will feel Anna Mae's sense of desertion and hopelessness while also knowing how much Harley misses her and their children, but feels he must do what is needed to insure his family is fed and sheltered. Though the economic climax seems to simple, historical fiction readers will appreciate Kim Vogel Sawyer's deep look at what a 1930s family did to survive on a drought ridden Plains.

Dreaming the Serpent Spear
Manda Scott
Delta Trade Paperbacks
c/o Bantam Dell Publishing Group
1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
038533835X, $14.00 1-800-726-0600

Two decades have passed since the Roman legion began their occupation of Britannia. Now in 60 AD, the local tribes finally have put aide their bickering to join as one in a revolt to send the conquerors off their island. However, though over five-thousand are ready for the war, the only leader who can rally the tribes is not. Breaca of the Eceni, called Boudica the Warrior Queen by the Romans, recovers physically from a brutal whipping that the Romans gave her as a lesson to anyone fostering revolution. More difficult to Breaca is the gang rape of her daughter Graine by legionaries that has left her to doubt her abilities to protect her people since was unable to keep one person safe. She prefers to say no and heal her mental wounds, but also knows that no one else can rally the tribes so she agrees to lead the revolt. While the Romans make a rare tactical error by assaulting an Eceni stronghold Mona leaving them vulnerable for Breaca and the tribes attack on their island capital Camulodunum, which is burned to the ground. With much of the eastern side at war, the two armies will soon meet for a final confrontation that will decide who rules over Britannia. The final Boudica Dreaming thriller (see DREAMING THE EAGLE, DREAMING THE BULL, and DREAMING THE HOUND) is a fabulous ancient historical fiction tale that keeps the suspense coming from start to finish although the winner of the war is known. The key is the heroine who suffers from what appears to be battle fatigue syndrome, but feels duty and responsibility calls her for her to lead her side. Manda Scott rules the sub-genre with her delightful intelligent Britannia saga.

Kingdom Come: The Final Victory
Tim LaHaye, Jerry Jenkins
Tyndale House Publishers
351 Executive Drive, Carol Stream, IL 60188
0842360611, $25.99 1-800-323-9400

With Lucifer locked away for a thousand years, Jesus Christ's reign over the inhabitants of the Earth for the next millennium begins. At the beginning it is a beautiful place where rivers of milk, wine, and purified water flow freely in Jerusalem. David is the prince who answers only to Christ and all the people are believers. Cameron and Chloe Williams run the Children of the Tribulation school that teaches all the youngsters who were alive at the Glorious Appearing to give their lives to Christ. Each person has until the 100th birthday to be saved otherwise they will die. As the death of the non-believers rise, a cult comes into being, the Children of the Light who not only turn their back on Christ but worship Satan. They believe their children's children will keep the faith so that when Satan is freed, their side will win. Kenny Bruce, the leader of the Millennium Force, doesn't trust Qasin Marid who wants to not only be a member but an infiltrator. Kenny, Cameron and Chloe's grandson believes he is behind all the bad things that are happening to him, making Kenny look like a false believer. Time will prove he is on the right side. Rafe, Mac, Tsion, Irene, and Chaim are rebuilding the infrastructure of the various countries while Abdullah is in Amman being a preacher to the COL. As time passes and the millennium kingdom ends, everyone is looking forward to be lifted up to heaven. With the publication of KINGDOM COME, the tribulation series comes to a glorious end. Readers will enjoy seeing their favorite characters in the millennial kingdom and enjoy watching the children of the tribulation force take way to make of their parents. The descriptions of a hundred years of paradise are beautiful and makes one think earth should be like that. Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins are marvelous storytellers who appeal to both secular and Christian audiences.

The Religion
Tim Willocks
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
19 Union Square West, New York, NY 10003
0374248656, $26.00 1-888-330-8477

In 1540 in the Fagaras Mountains of Hungary, Muslim scarlet horsemen abduct twelve year old Mattias Tannhauser, the son of Saxon metal-smiths. They train him as a holy warrior whose entrance to heaven is to die in combat. However, he eventually obtains his release and settles in Sicily where Mattias taking advantage of having solid feet in the competing religious camps becomes a successful arms broker. In 1565 widow Contessa Carla La Penautier arrives in Sicily to hire Tannhauser to find her illegitimate twelve years old son Orlandu, whom she reluctantly abandoned at his birth due to uncaring pressure. Unable to resist her siren's call, Mattias agrees to go with Carla to Malta at a time that the Turkish Ottoman Suleiman the Magnificent declares a jihad to eradicate the affluent influential Knights Hospitaller of St. John, a monastic order based in Malta. On the disputed Mediterranean island, Mattias and Carla struggle to survive when the Turks begin their assault on the St. John knights. However, even more dangerous to the pair than the war is the arrival of dreaded Inquisition monk Ludovico Ludovici, working under order of Cardinal Michele Ghisleri, who deviously plans to bring Malta under papal rule after he takes care of a certain twelve year old indiscretion that he sired on a teenage Carla. This is an exciting swashbuckling look at a real sixteenth century religious war mostly from the perspective of the dashing hero who is one of the few people who seems to understand both sides of the conflict. The story line is action-packed, but it is the cast who brings to life 1565 Malta as the prime triangle (Mattias, Carla and Ludovico) seem genuine and the combatants fighting in God's name appear real. Readers will appreciate this terrific historical holy war thriller that grips the audience from the opening kidnapping until the final confrontation with more to follow.

Scott Sigler
Dragon Moon Press
3521 43A Ave, Red Deer, AB, Canada, T4N 3E9
1896944736 , $19.95

The Novozyme Corporation was working on xeno transplantation by putting the human DNA of one animal to keep donor organs from rejecting what it thinks is a dangerous invader. A virus previously contained among pigs leaps species and eradicates all the humans inside the Novazyme compound. The US government vaporized the site and plans to do likewise to other locations working similar experimental design research starting with Grenada where a firm is working with DNA to recreate the original "Eve" of all mammals. Dante Paglione, the chief of the project, has a CIA mole on his payroll so he learns about the eradication plan so he moves his secret labs, team and equipment from Baffin Island to Black Manitou Island in Lake Superior. There brilliant scientist Jian makes a breakthrough that enables the implant of a special embryo that grows in a fetus recreating the original ANCESTOR. There is only one slight problem when the ANCESTOR is reborn; this is not a cute little harmless creature. This is a deadly evil hunter/killer creature that will kill any animal including human in its path. Readers who liked the book or movie Jurassic Park will enjoy ANCESTOR, a genetic experiment that succeeded too well as philanthropic good intentions pave the way to hell with murder and cover-up of the return of a species with no natural enemies still living. Scott Sigler shows what happens when corporate science ignores morality for profit only (though defining common morality is difficult as shown by the stem cell research). ANCESTOR is a cautionary thriller along the lines of Frankenstein warning readers that science without moral considerations is dangerous to all mankind.

Good Night, My Darling
Inger Frimansson
Pleasure Boat Studios
201 West 89th Street #6F | New York, NY 10024
1929355372, $16.00

Justine Dalvik was a young child when her mother died, but her wealthy father, owner of a candy company, gave her his full attention so she coped with the loss rather well. It wasn't too long afterward that he married his secretary Flora who tried briefly to get Justine to warm up to her. However when Justine refuses to talk to her, Flora turns physically and verbally abusive. School proved to escape either as a clique of girls led by Berit Assarson tormented her there. Years later Justine falls in love with Nathan, who wants to open up a travel agency for clients who want a taste of something different. He and Justine meet Martina, a young adventuress who uses her photojournalist skills to travel the world. On a trek together, Nathan vanishes and Martina is killed. Justine explains to the police an intruder entered their room so she locked herself in the bathroom until he left. At about the same time, Flora has spent the last few years in a rundown nursing home. Justine meets Berit who apologizes for her mistreatment of her when they were students; however, she disappears with the police suspecting Justine of foul play because Nathan and Berit remain missing and Martina was murdered. GOOD NIGHT, MY DARLING won the Swedish Academy of Crime Writer's award as the Best Swedish Crime Novel. Readers will understand why as the story line starts off as a dysfunctional family drama but transitions into a suspense thriller. The audience doesn't get to know Justine very well although ironically the tale is told by her. Yet that feeling of detached aloofness makes her a fascinating character able to hold the tense story line together as fans will wonder whether she is a psychopathic killer or a victim.

Good Night, My Darling
Inger Frimansson
Pleasure Boat Studios
201W 89th St, New York, NY.20024
1929355372, $16.00

Justine Dalvik was a young child when her mother died, but her wealthy father, owner of a candy company, gave her his full attention so she coped with the loss rather well. It wasn't too long afterward that he married his secretary Flora who tried briefly to get Justine to warm up to her. However when Justine refuses to talk to her, Flora turns physically and verbally abusive. School proved to escape either as a clique of girls led by Berit Assarson tormented her there. Years later Justine falls in love with Nathan, who wants to open up a travel agency for clients who want a taste of something different. He and Justine meet Martina, a young adventuress who uses her photojournalist skills to travel the world. On a trek together, Nathan vanishes and Martina is killed. Justine explains to the police an intruder entered their room so she locked herself in the bathroom until he left. At about the same time, Flora has spent the last few years in a rundown nursing home. Justine meets Berit who apologizes for her mistreatment of her when they were students; however, she disappears with the police suspecting Justine of foul play because Nathan and Berit remain missing and Martina was murdered. GOOD NIGHT, MY DARLING won the Swedish Academy of Crime Writer's award as the Best Swedish Crime Novel. Readers will understand why as the story line starts off as a dysfunctional family drama but transitions into a suspense thriller. The audience doesn't get to know Justine very well although ironically the tale is told by her. Yet that feeling of detached aloofness makes her a fascinating character able to hold the tense story line together as fans will wonder whether she is a psychopathic killer or a victim.

All Saints
Liam Callanan
Delacorte Books
c/o Bantam Dell Publishing Group
1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
0385336969, $23.00 1-800-726-0600

Now fifty years old Emily Hamilton reflects back on her life especially since she left home thirty-four years ago. Named for three saints and a should-have been saint, Emily has been married three times and divorced three thrice. Thus her marital record makes her resume to teach church history at a California Catholic high school seem off kilter and her irreverence towards the "Saints and Sinners" of the past makes her popular amongst the present students. However, in her tenth year at the school, Emily feels lonely and guilty when she kisses handsome student Edgar Mandeville as she desires much more but knows that a teacher-student relationship is rightfully taboo. She wants to help a confused Paul, but is not sure how to reach him as his issues involve sexual preference. Finally she fears that reticent Cecily has made her a role model, which means she adulates a failure whose life is filled with hurt and loneliness. Finally there is her department chairman Father Martin Dimanche whose intellectual debates keep her alive and though she wants more, he is a priest even as both are realistic about sinning and godly forgiveness. ALL SAINTS is an interesting character study that stars an intelligent woman reflecting back on what she deems the failure of her life. Her personal emotional crisis is caused by the convergence of three students raising different emotional needs inside her. Though there is little action and perhaps too many sidebars sob subplots, Emily is a realist especially about herself, her school, her church, and her God so that readers obtain a deep look at a unique perspective of not achieving one's life goals.

A Mankind Witch
David Freer
Baen Books
PO Box 1403, Riverdale, NY 10471
0743499131, $26.00 1-800-223-2336

Scandinavia is home to pagan worship that disturbs their neighbor to the south the true believers of the Holy Roman Empire. Barbary sailor Cair Aidin ship wrecked on the Scandinavian coast has become a thrall to despised Princess Signy, stepsister of King Vortenbras. She is accused of stealing a magical relic that no human should have been able to touch; thus everyone except the technologically thinking Cair assumes Signy is a witch. If the relic is not returned to its proper place, Vortenbras and his horde will turn into berserker Vikings destroying Europe. Cair loves his mistress Signy and knows she is no thief let alone a killer as proscribed by many. He plans to prove her innocence by rescuing her, finding the lost token and carrying it back to its designated locale. To succeed he needs the help of Brittany Prince Manfred and the royal bodyguard and guide Erik, also seeking the relic. Cair begins his quest entering a realm filled with murdering dwarves, trolls, hags, and other supernatural cretins that Cair refuses to believe exist even as they try to kill him while also eluding the even more lethal agents of the Holy Roman Empire. The third Heirs of Alexandria alternate history tale (see THIS ROUGH MAGIC and THE SHADOW OF THE LION) is a terrific fantasy thriller that can stand alone though the previous tales co-written with Mercedes Lackey and Eric Flint are fun to read. The exhilarating mid sixteenth century story line contains a fully developed cast (human and others) who enable readers to accept that the Library of Alexandria did not burn and unlike the hero's skepticism, magic being genuine. Cair is terrific as he loves Signy; the reason he sets forth on his task while saving an empire or two from berserker Vikings is not his mission. Fans will enjoy the latest tale as Dave Freer keeps the series top quality without the collaboration.

Hell Hath No Fury
David Weber & Linda Evans
PO Box 1403, Riverdale, NY 10471
1416521011, $26.00 1-800-223-2336

The Union of Arcana using magic as its energy source and the Sharona employing psionic technology as theirs have sent numerous expeditions exploring other universes without encountering any other sentient beings including each other. Each world understood the importance of control when that anticipated first encounter with an intelligent life form occurs as scientists on both orbs expect it to eventually happen one day. The Arcanian led by Hundred Jasak Olderhan enter a portal into the Sharona universe where one of his soldiers fires the shot heard around the multiverse (see HELL'S GATE). Though Hundred Jasak Olderhan tries to prevent war, hostilities have broken out between the two societies over the incident and control of Hell's Gate. The Arcanian wizards ride their dragons with spells as their weapons into battle; the Sharona counter with their steam driven trains and boats and weapons like machine guns. As mass deaths occur on both sides the likes of neither have seen before, the Arcanian and the Sharona demand vengeance for their fallen warriors. That includes many innocent civilians amidst the dead. Both sides are used to being on the top of the food chain and with grievances to inflame the rabble by power seekers, the multiverse is at war on multiple earths with more deaths added to the hostilities. Book 2 in the Multiverse can stand alone, but is much more enhanced by reading HELL GATE as that tale provides deeper insight into understanding the differing societies. Though more entrenched as a military science fiction story line than the first encounter plot of the previous thriller, HELL HATH NO FURY is filled with action on several earths as two societies collide due to both distrusting the other worsened by an inability to communicate.

Tad Williams
DAW Books, Inc.
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0756403588, $26.95 1-800-847-5515

Hendon Tolly has claimed the throne of Southmarch. Herndon's cousin, the deposed former ruler King Olin Eddon has been incarcerated in Hierosol. The ex-monarch's royal heir Kenrdick is dead, a victim of dark magic. Olin's younger twin offspring has been split apart separately struggling to survive the ordeal of exile with Tolly looking to insure neither can come back by hiring the most lethal mercenary available to insure his cousins never return to claim the crown. Prince Barrick remains under the spell of Yasammez and the Twilight People behind the Shadowline with his only allies being Captain Ferras Vansen, the Storm Lantern, the mysterious and dangerous fairy Gyir, and Skurn the raven. Princess Briony hides in a forest near her former home castle where a woods Goddess abets her escape until she joins a traveling troupe of actors, who welcome her unaware that her presence amidst them endangers them. Meanwhile to the south King Autarch may be insane, but he sees an opportunity to seize Southmarch as chaos reigns. The second "Shadow" fantasy saga is a superb thriller though it is also the middle book of a trilogy so subplots on the three prime fronts move forward, but are never resolved. The story line is action-packed especially when the focuses are the twins. Though newcomers should read the previous tale (see SHADOWMARCH), fans of Tad Williams will enjoy his complex political fantasy

The Name of the Wind
Patrick Rothfuss
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
075640407X, $24.95 1-800-847-5515

As a child, Kvothe traveled with his parents from town to town as part of a troupe giving performances. His parents were quite talented, had the patronage of a lord, and stopped at only the best places. The troupe added Abertino who taught Kvothe much about his magic and was quite surprised how easily the lad picked up his lessons. After his mentor leaves the troupe, Kvothe decides to attend the University where he can obtain formal lessons in the use of magic. However his life is shattered after returning from a long solo walk to ponder his future; he finds everyone including his parents dead, killed by the Chandrian because his dad was collecting knowledge on them so that he could write a song about them. A traumatized Kvothe heads for the big city where he becomes a homeless vagabond who is picked on by everyone who lives on the streets. Still he does what he must to stay alive until he finally reaches the University. Three days later he is moved into the Arcanum, the school of magic where he makes an enemy of an older student Ambrose, who makes Kvothe's life miserable, which escalates until he jeopardizes the newcomer's life. Kvothe has had enough and gets Ambrose in trouble with the school authorities. Some call him a hero; others a killer as his legend has just begun. This is a complex enthralling "biographical" fantasy that will stun sub-genre fans with its vividness and depth as if Patrick Rothfuss has written numerous thrillers instead of his first. Kvothe's youthful tale is told mostly by him as he ventures forth once his beloved parents and the rest of those in his "world" were murdered. Readers will appreciate this strong saga of a young hero's salad days while looking forward to further escapades of Kvothe in "day two" of his story to the Chronicler.

Killed by Clutter
Leslie Caine
Dell Books
c/o Bantam Dell Publishing Group
1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
0440335981, $6.99 1-800-726-0600

Colorado Interior decorator Erin Gilbert enjoys walking through a house that she is seeing for the first time and redesigning each room in her head. So when she first observes the outside home of Helen Walker, Erin is euphoric as the Crestview bungalow is a designer's delight. Euphoric as this seems, it is also a nice easy job though she knows she must show proper respect to the grieving owner. Then she steps inside; to her horror she concludes the cluttered home needs weapons of mass destruction as Helen and her recently deceased sister kept anything and everything. The surviving sibling refuses to toss out what is classic junk clutter. Still Helen tries to organize, mess and pitch what is obviously worthless in terms of money or sentiment. The problem is Helen insists everything has sentimental value. Helen's neighbor Rachel and Erin's two friends Teddy and Kay support the surviving sister' frustrating Erin who may dump her so-called pals if they don't mind their business. However, these intrusions are irritants; the fourth invader causes colossal issues as that unknown visitor leaves behind murdered bodies amidst the clutter. The fourth Domestic Bliss mystery (see DEATH BY INFERIOR DESIGN and MANOR OF DEATH) is a charming cozy especially when Erin is cleaning the house or furthering her relationship rivalry with competitor Steve Sullivan. However, that is also the weakness of the story line as the homicides come across as just additional clutter to clean up when the heroine gets around to it. Still Leslie Caine provides a fun domestic tale starring a harassed heroine struggling with saving a house on the verge of being KILLED BY CLUTTER, something this reviewer can relate to.

Getting Old Is Criminal
Rita Lakin
Dell Books
c/o Bantam Dell Publishing Group
1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
0440243866, $6.99 1-800-726-0600

They might be living in a Fort Lauderdale retirement community Lani Gardens, but the women of the Gladdy Gold Detective Agency live life to the fullest with gusto. Led by the irrepressible Gladdy, they take on investigations though they are not licensed sleuths. Currently the distaff detectives work on the case of the Peeping Tom, a men seen looking through the windows of the female residents, but stays in the shadows so has not been caught. Mr. and Mrs. Alvin Ferguson hire Gladdy to find proof that his nonagenarian mother died at the hands of Lothario Philip Smythe. However, since the woman had heart trouble and there was no evidence of foul play, the doctor ruled natural causes. Alvin's wife believes her mother-in-law died from a heart attack as well. The detective agency learns that Philip will be in the Wilmington House retirement community so Gladdy and her sister Evvie go undercover as residents to fathom whether he is a killer. As Evvie falls in love with Phillip, evidence begins to surface that he is not what he seems. Gladdy is desperate to save her sister before someone kills her. This geriatric chick lit mystery is a charming and exciting amateur sleuth tale starring the golden girls. The storyline revolves around senior citizens who are portrayed as having more energy than many middle age people (at least this reviewer). Gladdy possesses her full faculties with a mind sharper than a kosher butcher's knife. Her relationships with the women of her agency involve friendship, trust and caring though in some ways she is the grandmotherly hen.

Diary of a Serial Killer
Ed Gaffney
Dell Books
c/o Bantam Dell Publishing Group
1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
0440243734, $6.99 1-800-726-0600

Twenty years ago Alan Lombardo, accountant to the mob boss George Heinrich, was convicted of killing nine people. He swore he was innocent, but nobody believed him. Now after two decades in jail, he hires law partners Zack Wilson and Terry Tallach to find a loophole that will get him a new trial. They reluctantly take the case. They think they have found an opening when they learn who originally defended the convicted CPA; as Zach's father was on two payrolls with Alan and Heinrich both paying him. His father, now a respected judge, could get disbarred if his conflict of interest goes public. Complicating their ethics dilemma is that the attorneys begin to believe their client is innocent even before a serial killer begins a series of murdering using the same MO as the Springfield Shooter did. The pinky of each victim is cut off and the phrase "Welcome to my World" is left with each victim. That information was never made public. Back then the police barely looked at author Malcolm Ayers as their serial killer because Lombardo fit so perfectly; however evidence points towards him being the "Eternally Yours" killer except lead detective Vera Demopoulos has doubts as everything is to simply perfect making her wonder about a frame, but proving it without dying is quite a task. DIARY OF A SERIAL KILLER is appropriate titled because it was Lombardo's journal that ultimately convicted him. Readers will feel sorry for the mild-mannered obsessive-compulsive convict who does not come across as a psychopath. The cat and mouse game between the cop and the killer will fascinate the audience who will obsess over deciphering clues from the present. Ed Gaffney has a hit series with this fine thriller as an indication. It is the perfect thriller.

Orchard of Hope
Ann H. Gabhart
c/o Baker Book House
PO Box 6287, Grand Rapids, MI 49516-6287
0800731697, $12.99

In 1964 Hollyhill, Kentucky, fourteen years old Jocie Brooke makes friends with the new negro family from Chicago; especially the son Noah Herndon nearest her age. However, Noah assumes that Jocie is a fake who thinks she knows black people and so has doubts about the friendship; besides which he and his family know how the white hierarchy will react to a colored boy hanging with a magnolia. Meanwhile Jocie's father David, owner and editor of the Hollyhill Barrier and a pastor, argues for human dignity and rights. He is seeing someone for the first time since his former wife Adrienne left without a look back taking their older daughter then thirteen years old Tabitha with her. However, David shocks Noah and the townsfolk when he offers the lad a job at his newspaper. Even more stunning he invites the Herndons to attend the church where he serves as pastor as he believes God would want him to, but his flock is not as tolerant. ORCHARD OF HOPE, the sequel to the insightful THE SCENT OF LILACS, is an interesting Christian historical family drama that focuses on race and family relationships during the civil rights movement. The cast is fully developed especially the Herndon and Brooke families. Although there are too many subplots taking away from the prime tale of the civil rights movement in a small segregated Kentucky town considering integrating schools especially since everyone knows the best teacher in town is a black woman, Ann Gabhart provides a strong inspirational look at a time of momentous change.

Joy Fielding
Atria Books
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
0743295986, $24.95

Torrance, Florida with its population of under 4,200 residents is a quaint town where the locals know one another on a first name basis and can walk safely alone at night. The sheriff John Weber does little more than break up an occasional bar brawl and domestic disputes. Trapped in a loveless marriage with an anorexic daughter, John regrets that his off and on lover Kerri Franklin is seriously involved with newcomer Ian Crosbie. Having left Rochester, New York because of her husband Ian's desire to start fresh in Torrance, Sandy moves her family there but he soon leaves her and their teenage children Megan and Tim because he wants to be with Kerri. She understands he wanted reality not virtual lovemaking with his on line sex partner Kerri

While the adults imitate Peyton Place, the most popular high school female student Liana Martin is kidnaped; eventually she is found dead from a shotgun blast to her face. Another woman in a nearby town disappears in a similar manner, but her corpse has not been found yet though law enforcement fears the worst. When babe magnet and wife abuser Cal Hamilton's wife's body is found by Kerri's daughter Delilah, the police arrest the father. A search of his apartment finds trophies of the dead women. The townsfolk sigh of relief is short-lived because a predator remains free to kill. Joy Fielding writes some of the best thrillers on the market today (see MAD RIVER ROAD). Readers who like the works of Mary Higgins Clark and Patricia McDonald will enjoy HEARTSTOPPER. The characters are fully drawn as they make mistakes which enhance the realism of the prime story line. There is plenty of action and a growing sense of horror as the killer seems increasingly invincible. Though a serial killer preying on a small town is a common theme, Ms. Fielding refreshes her plot with a whodunit that will keep the audience guessing until the shocking climax.

The Wilde Women
Paula Wall
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
0743496213, $24.00

In 1929 in Five Points, Tennessee, Pearl Wilde finds her fiance Bourne Cavanagh, oldest son of the owner of Cavanagh Whiskey Distillery, having sex with her sister Kat, who to add insult to injury is wearing her shoes. Pearl takes her shoes back and leaves for Chicago. As she travels overseas and across America, Pearl sends home post cards to Kat telling her to go to hell. However, late in 1932 she returns home to open up a whore house. Pearl enters the dilapidated hardware store owned by Bud Marshall. The men who hang out there are awed by her except the handsomest nineteen year old Eddie McCowan. She hires him to work for her and tells his mom Maysie that she is pleased with her son's work. Bud cleans up his store and Maysie persuades the men to accept work at Pearl's place. The Mayor informs the town council they will do nothing to prevent Pearl opening up her business, the first new one in town in a decade. Kat works at the Randolph and Hughes Shirt Factory where she sews sleeves onto the shirts. Mason Hughes, the son of the owner, sees her and wants her. She rejects his advances. Still Mason visits Kat who tells him to leave, but unbeknownst to both of them Pearl watches and realizes her sister wants this man because she pushes away those she desires; she now has her tool of revenge. The ensemble cast contains unique characters that bring to life Depression Era Tennessee while the story line has an underlying whimsical feel as the Wilde sisters wink at American history yet brings a sense of time and place to the delightful story line. The final wild twist will surprise readers as Paula Wall provides the audience with a fascinating historical romance starring two Wilde women, their men, and the fully developed townsfolk who observe the sibling war.

The Missing
Chris Mooney
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
0743463803, $25.00

In 1984 best friends Darby McCormick, Melanie Cruz and Stacey Stephens are hiking in the woods when they accidentally observe a man killing a woman. Darby calls the police as her hero her father "Big Red" is a cop, but though her dad promised he would catch the killer, the culprit was never caught. The impact of the horrific crime scene remains with Darby almost as much as her adulation of her late dad; she obtains a doctorate in criminal psychology and becomes a Boston Crime Lab crime scene investigator. Her current case feels a bit like deja vu as she and her partner Jackson "Coop" Cooper search for clues to the whereabouts of a missing girl, Carol Cranmore. This investigation quickly ties back to what happened when she was sixteen as Stacey is a murder victim and Melanie is among THE MISSING leaving a terrorized Darby in a constant state of panic that she is next. This is fun Reagan Era police procedural filled with twists and turns as Darby begins to unravel the truth about a serial killer and her father, whose statue of greatness has begin to crumble in her mind. The story line is action-packed and filled with twists, but also contains typical sidebars of the sub-genre like the brass as always bungling, stumbling and interfering. The serial killer crowd will enjoy Chris Mooney's exciting thriller.

Arthur Phillips
Random House
c/o Random House Trade Group Publicity
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
1400062519, $24.95 1-800-726-0600

Stationary store clerk Constance is euphoric and overwhelmed when she marries biological researcher Joseph Barton as she has changed from lowly shop girl to the lady of the manor. She decides to give her spouse children, but over the years only Angelica is born. When their daughter turns four, Joseph insists their offspring no longer sleep in their room. Constance panics as she fears for Angelica's safety having seen spirits hover over her child; however Joseph's temper is more frightening so she reluctantly accepts that Angelica will sleep in her own room. Still Constance consults with a spiritualist Anne Montague, who thinks there is something perverted about Joseph and his ferocious rage at home that manifests in the spirits. Joseph cannot understand why his wife suddenly fears him and cringes at his touch as if he is a beast. Years later, an adult Angelica wonders whether when she was a child if her father was a sexual predator, her mother a delusional maniac, or something even more frightening from beyond. This late Victorian psychological suspense tale switches perspective as the key players provide their point of view re what is happening when Angelica turned four. The story line grips readers who are unsure as to what is the truth as each person's version seems right at the time it is presented. Interestingly the audience will empathize with Constance and Joseph as hey share in common the belief that their partner does not understand them. ANGELICA is a strong suspense thriller that will keep fans reading to learn supernatural or mundane cause and effect.

Cold Day in Hell
Richard Hawke
Random House
c/o Random House Trade Group Publicity
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
1400064260, $24.95 1-800-726-0600

In New York, while popular talk show host Marshall Fox stands trial for the murder of two female employees, whom he was having affairs with; someone else kills two more people connected to him using the same MO. The latest homicides raise major questions re the guilt of Fox involving the first victims as he has the perfect alibi being a guest of the state to prove he did not commit the latter murders. Feeling guilty as one of the dead women asked him for help before her demise; private investigator Fritz Malone makes inquiries upsetting his beloved Margo, who wants paying customers not deadbeat clients. Still he feels the debt is his so Fritz begins to unravel the complex and convoluted relationships of the rich and famous while one person in the shadows continues to purge anyone who can identify him or her. Fritz is a terrific sleuth as his amusing asides, droll retorts, and bumbling balancing act (between Margo and the case) make a COLD DAY IN HELL a superb urban whodunit. The story line is fast-paced with the cops, Fox, and those tied to him reacting the same way whenever Fritz accosts them as they all think SPEAK OF THE DEVIL. Richard Hawke provides readers with an entertaining New York City mystery.

Chasing Justice: My Story of Freeing Myself After Two Decades on Death Row for a Crime I Didn't Commit
Kerry Max Cook
William Morrow & Company
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
006057464X, $25.95 1-800-242-7737

In 1977 in Tyler, Texas, Linda Edwards invited Kerry Max Cook back to her apartment. A few days later, she was found dead having been raped and murdered. The local police under extreme political, media, and public pressure to bring the culprit to Texas justice find a single fingerprint of Cook on a door in the victim's apartment. He is arrested, people including detectives perjured themselves on the stand and he was convicted. After At twenty-one years old he was on death row where he remained in spite of appeals tossing out the first trial. In 1996 the Texas Supreme Court threw out the conviction citing official misconduct; in 1999 while Governor Bush was defending his state's perfect record on capital punishment DNA proved he did not commit the act. This heart felt anti capital punishment biography contains several sections especially when the author describes life on death row that reads sloppy as the writing is unprofessional; yet adds emotion and a taste for those who still believe of injustice American style. Similar in tone to other pleading memoirs like Surviving Justice (edited by Vollen), once again an innocent man spent two decades in prison based on the courts concluding those in charge crossed The Thin Blue Line again.

Dark Room
Andrea Kane
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
0060741341, $23.95 1-800-242-7737

On Christmas Eve 1989 in Brooklyn, preadolescent Morgan Winter sneaks down to look at her gifts only to find two presents that she will haunt her soul forever; her parents corpses. Seventeen years later the murder of her beloved family still haunts her. Now the case of killing her father, an ADA is being reopened as new evidence points that the confessed killer Nate Schiller could not have done those homicides as he was in Harlem killing a cop Goddfrey and a gang leader Hernandez. Nate's confession was to keep him stay alive behind bars as murdering an ADA is not on a par of that of a gang leader who has some followers in prison. Former NYPD Homicide Detective Pete "Monty" Montgomery (see WRONG PLACE, WRONG TIME), a private investigator, agrees to make inquires into the re-heated Winter murders, but first informs Morgan what occurred. His photojournalist son Lane helps his dad especially with his strong contacts with the Intel crowd. As Lane and Morgan fall in love, Monty finds the case already filled with one odd twist with Schiller exposed; but even a homicide veteran like him is not prepared for the spins through Manhattan's most powerful. Though there is too much coincidence in the plot, fans of romantic police procedural will appreciate this fine thriller in which the legal system and the heroine are tested. The story line is action-packed as the Montgomery duo make inquiries into what was considered a closed case that has suddenly turned into a heated cold case. Fans will enjoy this exciting sequel as Monty father and son seek closure for Morgan.

Anatomy of Fear
Jonathan Santlofer
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
0060881976, $24.95 1-800-242-7737

NYPD sketch artist Nate Rodriguez is considered by the department as one of the best at capturing the essence of a suspect. Some say he has psychic skills that enable him to enter the mind of a victim or witness that facilitates his drawing beyond what is often poorly described. Nate has always seen the world in pictures rather than in words. A killer claiming to do God's cleansing leaves drawings at the scenes of the crime. NYPD Homicide Detective Terri Russo asks for Nate to join her on the investigation because the pictures eerily remind her of the police artist's skills. Upon seeing the graphic evidence of gruesome murders, Nate recognizes a kindred sprit though it is the other side of the coin. Nate turns to his Santera grandmother for guidance even as the adversary ups the murder count and the clues begin to point to a police artist with the grim sketches left behind reminiscent of Nate's work. The sketches alongside the text make this an astonishingly unique police procedural tale that grips readers from the first picture to the last. The story line is action-packed as the investigation comes across via the vivid pictures as much as by the text; which in turns means incredible twists and red herrings as the mind's eye can be fooled. Though the egotistical know it all FBI agents targeting Nate for Attica seems unnecessary as having Terri doubt should be enough personal pressure, readers will receive immense pleasure from Jonathan Santlofer's delightful serial killer thriller.

Diagnosis of Love
Maggie Leffler
Delta Trade Paperbacks
c/o Bantam Dell Publishing Group
1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
038534046X, $13.00 1-800-726-0600

She believes her mother's death several months ago brought her life into perspective; her older by six minutes twin brother Ben thinks otherwise. The first step on her journey begins twenty years ago when mom ran off to medical school in Grenada. Dr. Holly Campbell knows her life is in shambles since mom died as she fails in love and currently is angry at her patients at St. Catherine's Medical Center in Pittsburgh for being ill even as she logically knows how insane that sounds. However, it is patient Clara Storm who brings perspective talking about herself to Holly that she cannot be well until she leaves Pittsburgh

Following the revelation, Holly takes a residency at the Royal County Hampshire Hospital in Winchester, England. However, the States seem to have followed her or preceded her to this remote hospital as an orderly Edwin Clemens from Misty Creek Elementary is there and soon after Ben's fiancee Alecia arrives almost as if she running away. Finally her mom's lover from two decades ago Simon shows up to meet her. All have demands on her time, but it is she who came to England with her mom's suitcase who will learn to live over this year abroad. This is a well written character study of a confused woman struggling to find herself and in some ways this is a coming of age story. Holly is terrific as she feels lost even as she achieves her prime goal of becoming a doctor just like her mom was. Readers will appreciate her efforts in England as she learns what life is all about through the demands of others with their needs and those of others who teach her it takes a "village" to live life.

The Bee's Kiss
Barbara Cleverly
Delta Trade Paperbacks
c/o Bantam Dell Publishing Group
1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
0385340419, $13.00 1-800-726-0600

In 1926, Scotland Yard Commander Joe Sandilands has come home to England after working cases in India over the last few years (see THE PALACE TIGER and THE LAST KASHMIRI ROSE). Though the locale changes, the scene does not as Joe is assigned to a homicide investigation. Someone brutally battered renowned Dame Beatrice Joliffe in her hotel suite at the London Ritz. The victim was acclaimed for her efforts in WWI to establish the Women's Royal Naval Service and servings as a Wren. Thus the media is also sniffing around and making noise. Joe, assisted by former Army Sergeant Armitage and Constable Tilly Westhorpe, rejects the scenario that this was a random jewelry theft that turned ugly because the violence speaks otherwise. He wonders if her family or an acquaintance with a grudge committed a homicide but disguised it as a jewelry theft even as his superiors push him to walk gently as national security is whispered. This is a superb historical police procedural that contains an excellent whodunit enhanced by a terrific look at the Roaring Twenties in swinging euphoric post WWI London. Joe's change of milieu provides freshness to this great series as he and his team investigate a case that twists with every clue. Readers can solve the case, but not easily as the author cleverly provides the audience with a one sitting thriller.

Master of Secrets
D. S. Lliteras
Hampton Roads
125 Stoney Ridge Road, Charlottesville, Va. 22902
1571745386, $19.95

Rabbi Jesus is dead having been crucified. His followers are stunned, grieving, and fleeing. In that troubled Golgotha environs, a frightened Boy who watched the great Rabbi die seeks solace from his mother, but she instead tells him to find his father, a devout disciple of the late Rabbi Jesus. Frightened but young enough to hide his fear with bluster, the lad finds only distraught and angry people. That is until he meets devious conman Jeshua, who persuades Addan to come with him as the rambunctious charmer takes the youngster under his wings. They team up trying to survive the post-crucifixion danger from authorities, true believers, and others while Addan is mesmerized by the charlatan who keeps him physically safe, but morally breaks Jesus' ethical and religious code.

As with his powerful biblical tales, JUDAS THE GENTILE and THE SILENCE OF JOHN, S.S. Lliteras provides a strong insightful character driven thriller that occurs immediately following the crucifixion. The story line is told from the perspective of young Addan who is confused by what he saw and sees, but finds comfort with the pretender Jeshua rather than in the teachings of Rabbi Jesus. Interestingly, Jeshua in his own way is a moral "swindler", but this deep poignant novel is all about Addan's faith as he initially clings to the bird in the hand rather tan believe there might be two in the bush. This is great work by one of the best early Christian authors.

They Hunger
Scott Nicholson
c/o Kensington Publishing Corp.
850 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10022-6222
0786017139, $6.99 1-800-345-2665

The primordial world of the Unegawa Wilderness Area is about to be invaded by three different groups of people. The 'Boma Bomber, has entered the area with Clara, a woman who is turned on by his menace, enters the area to escape the Feds that are pursuing him because e made bombs that destroyed people and abortion clinics. Two FBI agents Jim Castle and profiler Derek Samdford are following a tip that he is in the area and are in pursuit of him. The last group is led by Bowie Whitlock and sponsored by Pro Ventures to test a new raft as the white waters of the Gregor River. All three groups see a bat winged humanoid figure with grey skin, blind eyes and the need to drink blood. It is believed that the explosives that Ace set and were exploded when an FBI agent stepped on the trip wire awakened the vampire like creatures from the underground depths. When the victims of the creatures die, they come back with the same fierce hunger for blood. As all three groups meet, Ace and Clara and one of the rafters Guthrie, take a raft leaving the FBI agent and the other rafters to work together to avoid getting killed. Eventually it will fall one person to make the move to eradicate the menace if he can. Scott Nicholson writes horror that scares the living daylights out of the reader even if the creatures that are so frightening are non-breathing, winged bat like humanoids with hand and feet. This could be the creatures the vampire myths were based on and they are very frightening. The characters in this bitingly good horror novel are well developed and range from the saint to the psychopathic who sees the vampires as angels. There is lots of action and chase scenes making readers feel like they are on the fastest and most twisty roller coaster ride on earth.

Then We Came to the End
Joshua Ferris
Little, Brown & Company
1271 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
0316016381, $23.95 1-800-759-0190

In a Chicago ad agency, the era of good feeling that marked most of the second Clinton term seems over. Empty cubicle syndrome frightens much of the staff as employees will be fired. Competition is fierce as symbolism like spots, chairs, and email bites represents who will survive the ordeal. Friendships are over as real survivor is being played. There are numerous stories in this agency; here are three that cross the culture. Word in the office "plaza", coffee pot, and bathrooms is that partner Lynn Mason has breast cancer and is dying; this elates those who work for her who pray the rumor proves true because if she dies or becomes incapacitated a promotion opens up that every employee believes they earned as he or she knows they do all the work while she makes the money and receives the accolades. In the eye of the cutting storm, recently divorced Tom Mota, wearing the same NASCAR polo shirt everyday, cites nineteenth century poetry while having temper tantrums that he hopes frightens management into keeping him employed. Everyone below middle manager Joe Pope blames him for the downsizing; while everyone above him blames him too for not rightsizing. However, he knows his job is secure because someone needs to take the blame. This is a terrific character driven look at the office during a period of uncertainty except for pink slips. The ensemble cast is fabulous as the audience looks deep into the varying reactions of people to the expected reductions (a euphemism for firing) as each wonders what to wear when seen on the unemployment lines. Similar in its cutting edge to Office Space but with a wider scope, fans will appreciate the aptly titled THEN WE CAME TO THE END of Joshua Ferris' wheel.

Night Life
Ray Garton
c/o Dorchester Publishing Company
200 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016
0843956755, $7.99 1-800-481-9191

Private investigators Karen Moffett and Gavin Keoph are linked by multi-millionaire horror novelist Martin Burgess. He wants them to investigate former New York Times reporter Walter Benedek under a pseudonym wrote an article about evil vampires for the New York Post. Mr. Burgess wants to know if they are real. Karen tracks Walter down to a small town in Upstate New York where he tells her vampires are real and he did battle with them. He gives them an introduction to nice vampires Casey and Davey, a married couple who drink blood from containers obtained through an underground network. The "brutals" believe mortals are meat to do with as they choose and they dine on anyone looking for them. They never forget a slight and when Davey, Casey and Gavin are in the home of a psychic vampire, Karen and Casey are kidnaped and placed into a hotel belonging to the most dangerous brutal of all. The place is a fortress but they are going to make a rescue attempt regardless knowing there will be casualties on both sides. NIGHT LIFE is the direct sequel to Bram Stoker nominated LIVE GIRLS and it is a fascinating modernization of the vampire legend. These vampires can stay awake in the day, wear sun block to go outside, are allergic to garlic but religious objects don't bother them unlike in most vampiric novels. The characters are full blooded and the storyline is fast paced, action packed and totally terrifying. Ray Garton writes horror fiction at its most frightening best.

Shell Game
Jeff Buck
c/o Dorchester Publishing Company
200 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016
0843958464, $7.99 1-800-481-9191

Taylor Simons is living the American dream with a handsome husband Alan whom she loves and who earns a large income so that they live in a mansion. She also runs her own multi-million dollar valued advertising business G-cubed. Their bank suddenly calls in Taylor and Alan to pay their note. past due. The pair had invested everything they owned and more into New Pro, but the firm disappeared overnight in a great scam. Down to a paltry few hundred K, they sell everything even as adding insult Alan loses his job. When they receive a tip as to the whereabouts of New Pro CEO Edward Brand, they head to Mexico to confront him. Per happenstance they find him where he is living and follow him when he leaves his luxurious villa. As the car nears the cliffs, Alan throws Taylor out of their vehicle and tries to run down Edward. Instead he misses and falls into the water below. DNA proves he is dead. Taylor teams up with a former New Pro employee Kelly who also works for the NSA; they set up a scam to take away all of Edward's money knowing failure means death. SHELL GAME is a thrill a minute crime caper in which appearances are deceiving and filled with twists that seem plausible yet stunning. Ironically, Edward is the only key character who appears to be what he is as everyone else has secrets they hide behind. Jeff Buck will be recognized by fans as a leading thriller writer due to this fast-paced tale in which the sting is the only game in town.

Deliver Me
Farrah Rochon
c/o Dorchester Publishing Company
200 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016
0843958626, $6.99 1-800-481-9191

Emergency room Dr. Monica Gardner was already considering a change following the news broadcasts of what Katrina did to the Gulf, but Patrick Dangerfield and his lies made it easier for her to leave depression behind in St. Louis and start anew start in New Orleans at Methodist Memorial. Her first day on the job starts with a fender bender and then a C-section emergency that has "Super-Doc" Eli Holmes demanding to know who she is and to get out that she was fired. A new emergency saves Eli from her wrath. Administrator Dr. Slessinger gets Monica to join their charity board; of which Eli is a member too. They reach a truce and soon make a deal to pretend they are seeing one another in order to keep his family from setting him up on dates he does not want and to keep the male vultures from surrounding her with courtships she does not want. As they work together and spend some time away from the hospital together, they fall in love; however his relationships last a month and she still feels distrust towards males thanks to Dangerfield. DELIVER ME is enhanced by the vivid description practicing medicine in post Katrina New Orleans; thus the delightful romance takes a back seat to the action of the emergency room. The lead couple is a fine matching of dedicated physicians wary of love while the romance of a secondary couple adds depth to a loaded story line. Elementary my dear readers, as Farrah Rochon captures the city inside her fabulous contemporary medical romance with hopefully more Holmesian sibling tales to follow.

Highland Warrior
Connie Mason
c/o Dorchester Publishing Company
200 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016
0843957441, $6.99 1-800-481-9191

In the fifteenth century Scottish Highlands, the Mackay and Mackenna clans have been fighting for years so no one is surprised when hostilities break out again. However, wanting an end to the seemingly back and forth battle of revenge in which both clans lose, the MacKay Laird approaches his Mackenna counterpart with an odd deal when he offers his daughter Gillian in marriage. Laird Ross Mackenna wants to end the bloodshed too while saving face. He met Gillian on the battlefield and appreciates her fiery spirit so he agrees. Everyone on both sides of the feud is elated with the upcoming nuptials that will ring in peace and prosperity for all. That is everyone except Gillian who feels like a pawn and another suitor who wants the lass' fortune for himself even if that means igniting the feud into an inferno. The gender battle between the lead protagonists make for a fine time for historical romance readers as Gillian proves more than a match for Ross. The story line is fast-paced with these strange bedfellows fighting one another and enemies who want their nuptials ended before they begin. Connie Mason provides a delightful fifteenth century Scottish romance starring a strong heroine and her powerful champion.

The Bare Truth
Elizabeth Clarke
c/o Dorchester Publishing Company
200 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016
0843956720, $6.99 1-800-481-9191

Desperate for employment in a reputable home, Juliette Garrison forges letters of reference. She actually succeeds in scoring a fine position, but knows she must keep her big mouth shut as her aristocratic employees are not interested in her thoughts. However, she soon learns that she is the offspring of a lord and a serving girl. She begins dreaming of asking her sire's family for help, but fears their reaction will cost her current position in which she has food and a bed. When American business man Thomas Jameson meets serving girl Juliette, he likes her spark and spunk. She reciprocates though the cost of a tryst she knows would mean sleeping on the streets as she knows guys like the wealthy Yank marry aristocrats while doodling with English servants. This is an interesting historical due to the outspoken Juliette whose mouth gets her into one problem spot after another though it is her loquacious vivaciousness that brings her to the attention of the visiting American. The story line is typical of the period as the lead female makes all other women pale in comparison and the brash Yank ignores convention. Sub-genre readers will enjoy this fine late Victorian.

A Portrait of Marguerite
Kate Lloyd
c/o Cook Communications
4050 Lee Vance View, Colorado Springs, CO 80918
1589190564, $13.99 1-800-323-7543

With her son Rob off to college, fortyish single mom Marguerite Carr feels her life is over as the empty nest syndrome slams her big time. Her best friend Laurie bullies a reluctant Marguerite to attend Beginning Drawing at the college; the "crime scene" where she met Rob's father Phil. However, the instructor is a bit of a surprise as Henry Marsh is no more than a decade older than her and has no ring. However a set back in her mind occurs when her ex husband Phil introduces Professor Henry to Marguerite and Laurie. Phil has failed Rob and her too many times to matter though he remains attractive; Laurie thinks he is even better than ever. Meanwhile Marguerite finds her love for art especially drawing remains as strong as it was twenty years ago when she passionately painted. Over the semester Henry proves a kind caring person who is smitten with Marguerite. As she reciprocates his feelings, she has doubts about men, love, and even God while Henry tries to prove his love with A PORTRAIT OF MARGUERITE. This is a well written character study of a woman whose only reason for existence over the past two decades is her son until now when she begins to understand that life is so much greater if one passionately goes for it as God would want of his children. Marguerite is a fabulous lead character who learns to believe in the Lord, herself, and her love for Henry as even the darkest secrets are nothings when willingly revealed in the light. Readers will enjoy this wonderful inspirational romance that feels so real even when everything comes together too perfectly to be plausible as Kate Lloyd's talent shines.

John Marks
The Penguin Press
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
159420117X, $25.95 1-800-847-5515

TV news show The Hour associate producer Evangeline Harker leaves New York for Romania to look into a possible segment on reputed Eastern European crime boss Ion Torgu with the coup de grace being an interview. In Bucharest, fellow Yank Clemmie Spence warns Evangeline to be careful because the forces of Satan are spreading their pestilence at an alarming rate as she explains what horrors she saw in Africa. The two Americans travel to Transylvania where Evangeline meets Torgu, whose teeth look rotted but not fanged. He takes her to a remote locale in the woods while two of his associates kill a cameraman. Stunned, Evangeline becomes further shocked when she inadvertently observes Torgu drinking blood. Fleeing she finds Clemmie, but instead of the relief of feeling safe, the TV producer thirsts; she slices her companion's throat and drinks the blood. While back in New York, the staffers of the Hour begin to die a horrid slow cancerous like death while a select few thrive. Evangeline is in-between, undecided whether to flourish on the blood of others or waste away while Torgu arrives to take a bite out of the Big Apple. The Romanian segment is a stupendous updating of Stoker's Dracula while the New York portion seems paler than the original London venue. Torgu is a terrific modern day "Count" whose minions are criminals while Evangeline Harker (great name for a character) is a fabulous individual who struggles with the metamorphosis. Overall FANGLAND is a fast-paced horror thriller that fans of vampires will devour in a series of delightful 60 minute bites.

Invisible Shield
Scarlett Dean
Five Star Books
295 Kennedy Memorial Drive, Waterville, ME 04901
1594145458, $25.95 1-800-223-1244

Her partner Gerard Alvarez tells Lindsay Frost that Buford Jones was released from prison after a drug bust failed. When the guilty verdict was pronounced Buford threatened Lindsay for she was instrumental in taking him down. When an anxious Lindsay enters her home, she sees noting disturbing so she relaxes. Not long afterward she watches the police looking at her naked body in the bathtub as the cops officially declare suicide, but Gerald and her sister, police officer Kate Frost believe otherwise. Lindsay soon meets other spirits like herself who have unfinished business to attend to on the mortal plane or have things to learn about their new existence. The only person who can see or hear Lindsay is Kate. Rivals in life, the sisters agree to team up to find Lindsay's killer, but the deceased sibling has bigger issues than uncovering her murderer. Lindsay battles an evil spirit bent on eliminating her entirely while Kate struggles with her superiors who demand she drop the case. INVISIBLE SHIELD is a superb paranormal police procedural that focuses on two sisters who are so eerily alike in life and were competitors pushing one another to excel while in death they find common ground. Lindsay makes friends and enemies in limbo with some allies saving her after-life when her spirit stalker tries to snuff her light out. There is plenty of action on both sides of the veil between the living and the dead as Scarlett Dean creates a marvelous mystical mystery.

The Charmstone
C.C. Harrison
Five Star Books
295 Kennedy Memorial Drive, Waterville, ME 04901
1594145792, $26.95 1-800-223-1244

Southern California based museum designer Amanda Bell feels guilty that she was never there for her father, a renowned University of Colorado archeologist Dr. Maynard Bell who recently died in a fiery desert crash in Monument Valley. Over the objections of her socialite mother and her fiance, UCLA Professor Elliot Sheffield plans to go to his last locale and sort out his papers and artifacts. When Elliot forbids her to go, she hands him back his engagement ring and leaves for the Navajo Cultural Center. At the site she meets former Hollywood film director Durango Yazzie who is a born again Native American having once turned his back on his people, but now embraces their traditions. He does not want the tall white female nearby because he finds her too attractive at a time he obsesses over the heritage of his people. However, as she offers him ideas to improve his showing of the Navaho culture and she begins to find proof her father lives, they fall in love although someone would not mind another fiery car crash that would kill the two of them. THE CHARMSTONE is a fascinating amateur sleuth romantic suspense that contains several late twists that will shock and delight readers though plausibility seems a stretch. Enhancing the entertaining story line is a fascinating look over the issue of ownership of Native American artifacts. Much of the first half of the book is establishing the relationships between key players especially the lead couple. However, once Amanda decides her dad may be alive, she is like a bull dog in her pursuit to save his life. Readers will enjoy C.C. Harrison's fine thriller.

Foolish Notions
Aris Whittier
Five Star Books
295 Kennedy Memorial Drive, Waterville, ME 04901
1594145849, $26.95 1-800-223-1244

In Los Angeles affluent CEO James Taylor wants the best for his mom as she undergoes cancer treatment so he plans to hire a live-in nurse for her. However, Marie has rejected all candidates; insisting Samantha is the only for the job. Used to getting his way, the arrogant James says to his mom anyone, but Sam. He loses the debate and his former girlfriend Sam, the only woman to ever dump James, is hired. Sam agrees only because she cares for Marie and once dreamed of being a close daughter-in-law before she caught James kissing another woman. James realizes he wants Sam back in his life. He bullies her and threatens to rough up her current boyfriend. She knows that she still wants and probably loves James, but does not trust him. Readers will enjoy this solid contemporary romance as James' obsessive behavior and Sam's reactions ring true though the audience will wonder why she puts up with his tactics. The story line is well written and entertaining as James tries to regain what he lost while Sam tries to avoid him as she misses what he cost them, and an ailing Marie plays matchmaker as she knows they belong together. However, a final revelatory twist seems off kilter based on the traits of the lead couple and all that went before. Still this is overall a fine tale.

Dick Lochte
Five Star Books
295 Kennedy Memorial Drive, Waterville, ME 04901
1594145253, $25.95 1-800-223-1244

In 1965 Harry Trauble thinks he has the best job for a single twentyish Southern California swinger. He works in the promotions department of Ogle magazine, the second most popular men's magazine in the country. However, Harry is unaware of a war between top management over the future of the magazine as he is to busy trying to make it with receptionist Terry O'Mara. The workforce is shook when the famous statue of the frog in the lobby falls and crushes Circulation Department Vice President Nick Hobart. Everyone assumes a tragic accident occurred, but the sculptor thinks otherwise. Terry agrees with the artist as she believes one of the top managers killed Nick probably over the strategic direction dispute that could be worth millions depending which way the wind blows. Dick Lochte provides readers with a delightful historical amateur sleuth that brings to life the swinging sixties. The story line is driven by the cast especially the hero Harry who thinks he owns the world because to quote his parents he works on a "porn" magazine. Fans who appreciate a deep look at a tumultuous era will appreciate the aptly titled CROAKED! as this is an entertaining mystery.

Cold-Case Killer
Dorothy Francis
Five Star Books
295 Kennedy Memorial Drive, Waterville, ME 04901
1594144850, $25.95 1-800-223-1244

In 1982 Key West, professional diver Randy Jackson is convicted of murdering his girlfriend Dyanne Darby. Years later DNA proved his innocence. The state freed him, but left him with no money or any employment prospects because no one wants to hire an ex-convict. Randy is bitter over his wrongful incarceration and vows on TV to find the culprit. Randy's mom Maxine pleads with her office cleaning client foot reflexologist Keely Moreno to investigate as a favor for her. Keely says no as she was involved in an inquiry once before that almost left her dead (see CONCH SHELL MURDER). Instead she asks her boyfriend private investigator Punt Ashford to help. Punt agrees only because an unknown adversary threatened his beloved Keely. Though she tries to stay out of it, Keely seems to step into the middle of a two decade old homicide whether she wants to or not. The key to this fun investigative tale is Keely who refuses to put her foot into any inquiry as she has learned her lesson; yet in spite of her efforts everyone seems to shove her right into the middle of the mess. The wrongful conviction subplot is fascinating to follow as it subtly supports the notion of using DNA when possible. The prime action comes late because Dorothy Francis provides a deep look inside the souls of her key cast members first. Fns will dive into this fine thriller wondering whether Randy will kill the culprit if uncovered or should his wad instead.

Sound of Mind
Jim Waltzer
Five Star Books
295 Kennedy Memorial Drive, Waterville, ME 04901
1594145334, $25.95 1-800-223-1244

In Philadelphia thirty year old former mental patient Richard Keene has supersonic hearing that makes it difficult for him to live a normal life though for the first time he is trying by moving into a Manhattan high riser and working as an audiometric technician. After completing his exercise program, Richard takes the elevator down, but gets off on the wrong floor. He hears noises that lead him to believe the resident of 2307 has strangled someone to death. Shook up he hustles down to his apartment one floor below. Richard reports what he heard to the building superintendent and the cops, but neither believes a nut case like him especially when the accused is renowned Dr. Davis Braun and no corpse surfaces. Still refusing to give it up, Richard needs to prove he may have issues, but his hearing is perfect even when murder occurs behind closed doors. Richard owns this novel as his super-hearing is a handicap that has brought him anguish and placed him on the brink of insanity. Thus when it is his word vs. a respected doctor, who is the cops, the tenants and manager, and readers going to believe? SOUND OF MIND is a fascinating thriller due to the lead character and his unique sense of hearing.

The Moving Water
Sylvia Kelso
Five Star Books
295 Kennedy Memorial Drive, Waterville, ME 04901
1594146063, $25.95 1-800-223-1244

The Lady Moriana rules the Assharral Empire with an invisible but iron fist. She is worshiped as a goddess, immortal, beautiful with powers that can put a whole empire under her spell so that its inhabitants have no will but what she lets them have. Alkir the captain of the Lady's guard is summoned to her presence and told to bring to her a crippled man with a scarred face. He finds the man Beryx who is an ader (a wizard), who willing accepts their escort to the place and person he wants to go see. On the trek to see Moriana he follows the Math (good magic) while the empress ruler follows Ammanth (Bad magic) amplified by the artifact the Well of Wisdom's light. When the two wizard's meet, they have a mental duel of sorts which ends with Beryx thrown into the dungeon where he promptly falls ill. Having won Alkir's loyalty and those of his guard, they help him and eventually he escapes taking those who helped him with him. Moriana destroys people and lands in her attempt to bring them back but Beryx is holding out in the hope that she makes the one mistake that will save the empire. THE MOVING WATER takes place in the same world as Everran's Bane and shows just how great the author's world-building skills are. This is a high fantasy at its finest with good and evil battling for control of the innocent. Although Alkir is the main protagonist and the story is told from his point of view, Beryx will capture the hearts of the audience with his grit and determination as he chooses the power of the light path even though it could kill him.

Lane to Heaven
Sara Daniel
Five Star Books
295 Kennedy Memorial Drive, Waterville, ME 04901
1594145695, $26.95 1-800-223-1244

Chicago lawyer Nick McAllister arrives in nearby Maplefield to destroy the reputation of a do-gooder, the Protestant Reverend Annie Lane. He detests the woman on two accounts though he never met her before. She destroyed his half-brother Jason Vonkall who tried to commit suicide due to her when he drove his car into Lake Michigan and her hypocrisy reminds him of his father. At first sight the pair are attracted to one another, but he is stunned by how virginally different she seems than what he expected; he assumes like his father she is a great performer. Nick "blackmails' Annie to visit Jason, who admits he never met her before. Jason explains to her about meeting her sister, Tanya, the spoiled actress known as the "world's sexiest viper" and insists he was not trying to kill himself. As her flock begin to whisper about her indiscretion with Nick, she falls in love with him; he reciprocates but remains at best an agnostic skeptic when it comes to God's existence and an atheist when it comes to organized religions like she preaches even as Tanya's Hollywood actions involving her druggy spouse and a protective cop will soon come to roost in the Midwest. LANE TO HEAVEN is an entertaining contemporary romance with some suspense (with a support character named Hardball what would one expect) that comes late in the story line. The lead couple is an interesting pairing of a skeptic (hopefully my brother-in-law Stephen does not read this, but he is a lawyer) and a believer whose lives intertwine due to the antics of siblings. Fans will enjoy this fine tale in which Nick learns that love is the LANE TO HEAVEN on earth.

Crime and Clutter
Cyndy Salzmann
Howard Publishing Company
3117 North 7th Street, West Monroe, LA 71291-2227
1582296448, $13.00 1-800-858-4109

This week the six members of the Friday Afternoon Club (FAC) escape from their families meeting at Lizzie's house. At the gathering, Maxine the cop asks Mary Alice what she was doing at Storage Unlimited. She explains that her father, who abandoned her as a baby, had his stuff shipped to her so she rented storage space. Her friends accompany Mary Alice when she goes to open her storage facility. Inside she finds a 1963 Volkswagen minibus. Looking at the memorabilia by the car, a series of flashbacks tells the story of the brief marriage between her parents. Following the clues at the storage facility, the crew heads to a commune with no bathroom facility and the residents hung around getting high. Letters tell her more about how her dad went to the Chicago Democratic Party Convention where he became a fugitive on the lam from the police forcing him to abandon the child he wanted to cherish with love. The mystery of what happened to Mary Alice's father is explained in CRIME AND CLUTTER in such a way Denny is the prime character of the story line. He was disillusioned by society and then disappointed with his efforts to foster change that cost him so much he held precious, his Mary Alice and her offspring. The group does more than share recipes (there is plenty of that too) as they support one another with coping with life's curveballs. The FAC is fans will want more tales of this fascinating group of moms weekly escaping.

Right from the Gecko
Cynthia Baxter
Bantam Books
c/o Bantam Dell Publishing Group
1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
0553588443, $6.99 1-800-726-0600

Eighteen months have passed since Brookside University School of Law student Nick Burby proposed to commitment phobic veterinarian Jessica Popper and she said no though they still seeing one another exclusively. However, they are now returning to the scene of the crime, make that proposal, as they leave Long Island for Maui for her to attend the American Veterinary Medical Association's annual conference and for them to share some romantic interludes. However their retreat is disturbed when the corpse of reporter Marnie Burton washes on the beach near Jessie. Having met the journalist the day before and as always curious when it comes to bodies, Jessica looks close at the deceased while someone observes her doing so and worries that the Long Islander might have found a clue especially when the vet begins making inquiries that lead her to a biotech firm. Though the latest Jessica Popper whodunit is not reigning cats and dogs, fans of a strong amateur sleuth tale will enjoy the heroine's return to Hawaii in which her biggest fear is that Nick will ask the "Question" even when someone wants to end her inquiry. The cast is solid even with just one supporting feline as so many two legged beasts make prime suspects. Though some purists might object to the lack of the four-legged secondary characters, Cynthia Baxter provides a strong mystery RIGHT FROM THE GECKO.

Tim Lebbon
Bantam Books
c/o Bantam Dell Publishing Group
1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
0553383655, $12.00 1-800-726-0600

Everyone believes the land of Noreela is dead especially since the savior, former farm boy Rafe Baburn, was killed by the Mage with his body given to Angel. A second age of dark magic has begun to cast a shadow over the realm as Angel, the S'Hivez, and the Red Mages have avenged their stunning loss during the Cataclysmic War. There is no hope with the savior vanquished. His compatriots, who fought to keep him safe, feel the devastating impact of gloom, doom, and disappointment even more deeply than the commoners. Hope the witch, Alishia of the books, Kosar the thief and Trey of the enigmatic yellow eyes know they failed on their quest. Yet Alishia believes they still have a chance to insure the ancient prophecy of rebirth by an unborn can happen. She demands they not quit, but valiantly continue the mission as she feels she contains an essence of Rafe that might prove enough to begin a resurrection if they can make it to the city of Kang Kang. The Mages are on mop up duty to prevent their success. Though Alishia is a solid heroine, she lacks the freshness that Rafe brought to DUSK, as that tale was also a coming of age saga. She and her three comrades make DAWN an exhilarating action-packed horror fantasy though the enemy also lacks that signature villain such as the initial Red Mage who massacred the villagers of Trengborne in DUSK. Still this is top-quality tale that provides a staying alive adventure that makes it much more than a middle filler thriller as DAWN can be read without the previous story though reading DUSK first enhances the understanding of how much the death of Rafe impacts his world and casts a gloomy spell on his teammates.

The Borderkind
Christopher Golden
Bantam Books
c/o Bantam Dell Publishing Group
1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
0553383272, $12.00 1-800-726-0600

He was suffering from cold feet the night before his marriage when Jack Frost busted into his Maine home pleading with him to save his life. Stunned lawyer Oliver Bascomb crosses the veil into the Two-Kingdoms where he finds a magical sword (see THE MYTH HUNTERS). When he returns to the earthly realm he learns of the murder of his father and more important the abduction of his sister Collette held prisoner by the lethal Sandman. He vows to rescue his sibling and avenge his dad, but is unaware that he is the prime suspect. Meanwhile his jilted fiancee Julianna Whitney, still believes in his goodness and that he did not kill his father or the other corpses haunting Oliver's every step though the evidence speaks otherwise. She teams up with homicide detective Ted Halliwell to track down Oliver. Christopher Golden is going to strike gold with this superior dark fantasy sequel that can stand on its own but is enhanced by reading the equally superb first tale. The story line is action-packed and stars a real American hero and a strong support cast from both sides of the veil. However, the key to this delightful saga is the belief that the Two Kingdoms and its fantasy creatures are not just plausible they are real.

The Alibi Man
Tami Hoag
Bantam Books
c/o Bantam Dell Publishing Group
1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
0553802011, $26.00 1-800-726-0600

One day while riding a horse near the canal in Wellington in south Florida, former undercover cop Elena Estes, now a horse groomer, sees the parts of a body in a nearby canal. She calls Detective Landry the man she just broke up with, to take care of the body. When they fish her out of the water, Elena is shocked to know the murdered victim is Irina, one of the women who works will the horses in the same stable as Elena. Once a cop always a cop as Elena's instincts are to find out who killed Irina. At first, she starts out to find out who Irina hung around with encouraged by the victim's lover Russian Mafioso Mr. Kulack who wants Elena to find out who killed the love of his life. She learns the shallow beautiful woman's only ambition was to have a sugar daddy marry her. When Irina's friend Lisbeth is beaten up badly, Elena realizes the murder and the assault are connected to the Alibi Club whose corrupt members are powerful men whom provided alibis for each other when the situation warrants. To make matters worse Elena's father who she hasn't talked to in two decades is the club's lawyer. One of the men in the club is Bennett Walker. He was the man who wanted her to alibi him when they were engaged so he wouldn't be prosecuted for the rape of a woman. Only time will tell if Elena's suspicious about him are correct. Tami Hoag has written another exciting suspense thriller that is heading for the New York Times bestseller list. Her protagonist is a vulnerable woman who has no ideals left about the justice system especially when the rich easily manipulate it. Yet she is strong enough to walk away from a life of privilege and take a job that her old crowd believes is socially beneath her. She believes in justice and serves as a strong role model because she thinks with her head and feels with her heart.

The Green Mill Murder
Kerry Greenwood
Poisoned Pen Press
6962 E. First Ave., #103, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
1590582403, $22.95 1-800-421-3976

The Honorable Phryne Fisher accompanies Charles Freeman to Green Mill, a dance hall that was very popular in Australia in the 1920's. She promised his mother that she would look after her son when one of the participants in a dance hall is knifed to death. He was behind Phryne who didn't see the actual stabbing but when her escort sees the bloody body, he gets sick and runs into the men's room. By the time the police arrive on the scene, Charles has disappeared. His mother, a cruel and hateful virago, asks Phryne, who moonlights as a private detective, to find him. She discovers Charles is gay and possesses pictures that could get him killed since at that time and place sodomy was against the law. When she finally finds Charles she hands him over to the police even though she doesn't think he is the killer. She also has to make a trip to the outback to find Victor, the brother who Charles believes is dead because his mother told him so. Mrs. Freeman wishes Victor was dead so she would inherit the house and money as her late husband left her with nothing. Phryne finds a confrontation between the two brothers is inevitable. THE GREEN MILL MURDER is so much more than a murder mystery, it is a journey into the heart of a family, a trip into the new musical world of jazz and it is the story of a woman who lives her life her way regardless what society thinks. 1920s Australia comes to glorious life in Kerry Greenwood's capable hands, but though the mystery is superb, the locale vivid, and the era descriptive, readers will continue reading this series because the heroine is such a fascinating character.

Island Blues
Wendy Howell Mills
Poisoned Pen Press
6962 E. First Ave., #103, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
1590583965, $24.95 1-800-421-3976

After the death of her controlling mother and finding a lump on her breast, Cincinnati schoolteacher Sabrina Dunsweeney decided she need a time out to learn what she wanted in life; she traveled to isolated Comico Island. Her thoughts of a carefree island lifestyle proved false and she ended playing adult Nancy Drew and solving the murder of Rollo Wrightley (see ISLAND INTRIGUE). However, instead of R&R on a warm beach, Sabrina becomes the island's first ombudsperson handling disputes between the rising tourist populace and the locals. Initially the job seemed relatively easy when compared with teaching in inner city Cincinnati; but then Hummers International Inc. arrive on a retreat where they feel they can best hear the Hum of the universe. However, key Hummer spokesman Gilbert Kane is found dead floating without a care or a noise in the marina. While the surviving Hummers fear the loss of the sound due to their potential deaths, Sabrina, as part of her position to keep the tourists contented and coming, investigates the homicide as well as several recently reported break-ins. Though it sounds so idyllic to run away from ones troubles, Sabrina finds her escape to paradise is wrought with danger as her amateur sleuthing brings her to the attention of a killer who wants to silence her. The story line is fun to follow as the heroine frolics where she does not belong. This is a delightful amateur sleuth tale as Wendy Howell Mills makes her island mysteries filled with intrigue and the blues caused by murder.

Final Undertaking
Mark de Castrique
Poisoned Pen Press
6962 E. First Ave., #103, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
1590582292, $24.95 1-800-421-3976

In Gainesboro, North Carolina, an elderly distraught Floridian Mitch Kowalski grieving the loss of his wife Lucy, fires at people on Main Street before local Sheriff Tommy Lee Watkins kills him. However Tommy Lee was one of the three people shot by the culprit so is unable to lead the official investigation. However ignoring protocol he asks former law enforcement official Barry Clayton to head the inquiry instead of his Deputy Reece Hutchins as experience is key. Barry, who runs Clayton and Clayton funeral home since his father began visibly suffering from Alzheimer's, reluctantly agrees. Being a witness to the shootings, Barry realizes a fiftyish paunchy white male was the target, but he escaped when he pushed a woman in front of him. To learn more about the motive Barry heads to Florida to understand why Kowalski targeted the guy who got away. As he uncovers information involving Medicare fraud and misuse of prescription drugs including Lucy's use of a non-prescribed medicine, Barry realizes that back in Appalachia, an outraged Reece is sabotaging his case. Still he digs up dirt on a conspiracy that ties his home state to the not so sunny Sunshine state as some in the medical profession use and abuse senior citizens for exorbitant illegal profit. In his fourth "Undertaking", Barry Clayton is at his best as he returns to his investigative roots. The murder mystery that he looks into turns into something so much greater as avarice leads to predators harming and even "killing" older Americans. Mark de Castrique provides a delightful conspiracy thriller that with what the IG has found in Iraq with soldiers placed at risk due to fraud, waste, and abuse makes this deep story line seem plausible and real.

The Dying Game
Beverly Barton
Zebra Books
c/o Kensington Publishing Corp.
850 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10022-6222
0821776894, $6.99 1-800-345-2665

In Chattanooga though her husband Judd would object to her showing off a house at night, realtor Jennifer Walker agrees to take a potential customer and his wife to see an expensive mansion. However, instead of a sale that she would use to furnish a nursery, the man slices off her hands before killing her. He leaves behind a rose and a devastated spouse, who hires his friend's Powell private investigative firm to uncover the identity of the killer. Over the next three years and eight months, twenty-nine beauty queens starting with Jennifer have been butchered by the Beauty Queen Killer, but so far there is no progress in apprehending the culprit. Judd has stopped living except for his obsession to wrap his hands around the killer's neck. That is until now. Apparently in Williamstown, Kentucky Barbara Jean Hughes visiting her sister saved Gale Ann Cain's life after the killer sliced off her legs. Griff Powell sends former Chattanooga detective, employee Lindsay McAllister to see Judd, whom she fell in love with when she was still a cop while he grieved his loss then but now Judd shows interest as he demands to join the hunt for a deadly deranged predator. THE DYING GAME is an action-packed cat and mouse thriller with several incredible yet plausible twists that will shake readers into leaving the lights on all night. The story line is fast-paced, but it is the psychologically damaged survivors like Judd and the sisters who make the tale real. A romantic subplot is deftly interwoven into Beverly Barton's tense thriller and readers will look forward to the sequel starring Griff and his FBI enemy combatant.

Virgin River
Robyn Carr
Mira Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
0778324907, $6.99

Nine months ago her beloved husband Mark Monroe was murdered during a convenience store robbery. The physician's widow Melinda, a nurse and midwife needs to escape Los Angeles which over night went from her home to a place of trauma for her. She accepts a job as a doctor's assistant in the small isolated Redwoods town of Virgin River. However, nothing is quite what was advertised as her cottage is a filthy dilapidated cabin and the crusty elderly Doc Mullins does not want her. Though restaurant owner Jack Sheridan is welcoming, she plans to leave and to stay with her sister in Colorado. Her plans change when she finds the newborn left on Doc's doorsteps. As one day leads to another and new patients arrive, Melinda has found a new home though she is unaware that Jack loves her but is patient as he knows her heart belongs to someone else. VIRGIN RIVER is a delightfully amusing small town character study that enables the audience to see deep into the souls of several key players but especially Melinda, Doc, and Jack. The support cast augments the solid story line whether they are the baby, the "realtor", the cook or patients. Fans of character driven poignant contemporary tales will want to drive the winding mountain road to VIRGIN RIVER.

Ice Blue
Anne Stuart
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
0778324788, $6.99

A world wide holy war seems imminent. However, the final catalyst is a not a terrorist, but instead is museum curator Summer Hawthorne. Her fifteen minutes of fame began with a beautiful present from her beloved nanny as the road to hell begins for her. Now she has information that if it goes public will ignite the globe as never seen before. Top secret agent Takashi O'Brien is the prime operative to prevent such a calamity from occurring. He is told to do whatever it takes to avert the war even if that means killing Summer so that her knowledge dies with her. He is perfect for the assignment as he lacks a conscience and no one has a colder heart than he, not even the Grinch. Yet for some reason that he does not comprehend he cannot kill Summer though he has her at his mercy. Instead Takashi discovers he has a heart as he risks his life and his assignment to protect the innocent curator while falling in love with her. Still he knows the easy solution is to kill her to prevent a maniac from tapping her brain as part of a scheme to ignite a global tsunami that will leave billions dead. Though ICE BLUE may seem simple this is a complex somewhat overly complicated twisting romantic suspense thriller that uses the premise of an innocent person caught up in larger than life issues not of her making (sort of like what happens to Thornhill in Hitchcock's North by Northwest). The story line is non-stop action, but it is the relationship between the agent and the curator that brings depth to the tale as he knows she is a superfluous statistic except in his heart.

Stella Cameron
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
0778324257, $7.99

Near San Francisco, high in a remote mountainous area Colin controls the members of the isolated commune Refuge. In spite of his strict rule, people join to escape from American materialism in order to return to nature. However, the egomaniacal avaricious leader has a different plan for his followers than a simpler lifestyle. He turns The Refuge into a giant cemetery killing everyone except three children, Nick and two sisters Sarah and Aurelie. Trying to forget the tragedy, the three survivors live quiet lives in Point Judah, Louisiana. However, the mass graves hidden by their remoteness for nearly two decades has just been found. The threesome realizes they will not be able to stay concealed much longer as names are tied to corpses. They also know Colin still waits for their surfacing so he can finish the job he started as he wants no survivors testifying what he did to his cult followers. The eerie opening sequence stays with readers throughout sort of the way the mass suicides and murders at the Jonesville compound orchestrated by Reverend Jones still haunts people. Thus the plot provides an interesting look at the impact a cult has on escapees long after they have left the compound. Although, why the avaricious Colin needed to come after the three survivors, why his targets surface, and how the small town Bayou residents ignore strangers in their midst seem a bit nebulous, Stella Cameron provides her fans with a tense and exciting suspense cat and mice thriller.

Swimming Lessons
Mary Alice Monroe
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
0778324621, $21.95

The ailing sea turtles washing ashore by Charleston, South Carolina have become a media circus as reporters question why they came ashore and what can be done to save them. This, in turn, leads to the locals, especially children and their parents, demanding that something be done to save the sea turtles. The local South Carolina Aquarium selects Toy Sooner to find a way to obtain funding to set up sea turtle medical clinic. Single mom Toy works on the grant while trying to care for her daughter, Lovie. She works directly with the aquarium's director Ethan Legare on the project. When she succeeds in obtaining the funding, she is elated to be placed in charge of the sea turtle hospital at a time when she is attracted to Ethan and her former spouse Darryl, just released from prison, returns insisting he wants to be in her life and that of their offspring. Turtles and location loosely connects SWIMMING LESSONS to the Southern Fiction family drama THE BEACH HOUSE, but readers do not need to obtain the previous South Carolina based tale as this delightful charmer needs no introduction. The story line is at its best when it either focuses on the plight of the sea turtles or on Toy's complex relationships with the two men demanding to be in her life exacerbated by her daughter's desires. Though late suspense seems an unnecessary detour, readers will enjoy Mary Alice Monroe's fine contemporary tale.

You Don't Scare Me
John Farris
c/o Tor Books
1403 Flatiron Building, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
0312850646, $24.95 1-888-330-8477

As she attends Yale University as a math major working to prove the existence of a dimension outside of the relative reality of ours, Chase Emrick knows how close she came to die as a teen. Her abusive disturbing stepfather Crow Tillman abducted her with the intention of a murder-suicide for some eerie motive. He failed as she escaped, but he killed himself. However though a decade has passed, Chase knows somehow Crow's evil eye still seeks her from beyond. She is alone because of him as bad things accidentally happen to anyone who tries to get close to her as he still plans to possess her. Chase thinks she has found the coordinates to what she calls Netherworld where she believes Crow lives, that is if a dead person can live. Desperate to destroy the serpent, the frightened Chase journeys to Crow's turf to challenge him with her soul on the line. The opening scenes on earth are some of the best horror description in years as everyone will feel the creepiness of Crow when he lived and the malevolence of this creature when he died as well as the astral-spatial geometry of Netherlands. Once Chase begins her trek into Netherworld, the story line retains its excitement, but loses some of its uniqueness. Still John Farris will have his audience hooked in a one sitting thriller in which the mouse insists to the cat (and herself) YOU DON'T SCARE ME when she knows she should be very scared.

Leopards Kill
Jim DeFelice
c/o Tor Books
1403 Flatiron Building, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
0765314363, $24.95 1-888-330-8477

In Afghanistan, CIA agent Mercury "Merc" Conrad is on a black ops assignment when he suddenly vanishes off the radar screen. The CIA would ignore a lost agent because the brass believes in minimizing damage to avoid an international incident. Besides which those in the cold understand the risks they take. However Merc also has two million dollars that the agency wants back so they decide to send someone in. Former Special Forces soldier Jack Pilgrim volunteers to rescue Merc as he owes the man for saving his life three times. Jack treks into the most dangerous part of Afghanistan where outsiders never venture in a quest to locate his buddy. Every step is filled with danger as no one welcomes the American intruder. You don't know Jack if you are a thriller fan and pass on this action-packed tale that starts off at hyperspeed and never slows down until the final confrontation. Besides one harrowing incident after another that fully tests Jack's capabilities to survive, his occasional asides on his and Merc's mortality as he does not expect to survive this ordeal and his muses on divided loyalty add depth to him. However, LEOPARDS KILL is first, second, and nth action, action, and more action.

An Irish Country Doctor
Patrick Taylor, MD
c/o Tor Books
1403 Flatiron Building, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
0765316234, $24.95 1-888-330-8477

Barry Laverty has just graduated from medical school, but is not sure what type of medicine to practice. So he responds to an ad for a physician's assistant in Ballybucklebo, Northern Ireland. After he's hired he travels to his new home immediately. Barry meets his new boss Fingal Flahertie O'Reilly as the doctor tosses an apparent patient out into the street and onto his butt. After that introduction to the ex-boxer turned medical practitioner, Barry is not sure whether to marvel or scorn Fingal's bedside manner as the physician will do anything to calm a distraught patient. Still he finds he likes the eccentric townsfolk, his boss, and especially civil engineering student Patricia Spence. Perhaps the only person the newcomer disdains is greedy Councilor Bishop, who plots for his personal gain at the cost of the community. This is a fun look at a small Northern Ireland village filled with delightful eccentric characters especially the doctor with a bit of the brogue who is part gruff and part nurturer. The story line is simplistic as the outsider finds his place in the town while ready to slay the meanie Bishop and get the girl. This is simply a lighthearted tale that readers will enjoy.

Turquoise Girl
Aimee & David Thurlo
c/o Tor Books
1403 Flatiron Building, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
076531715X, $23.95 1-888-330-8477

Navaho Police Special Investigator Ella Clah feels down because her mother moved into her new husband's home while her place is being renovated and her daughter is staying with her father. She also has to live with her partner Justine and her roommate until the repairs are completed. Her professional life heats up when Ella prevents a riot from igniting as protestors try to halt construction of a nuclear plant. She notices a stranger wearing sunglasses on the site. An anonymous call leads Ella to the home of Valerie Tso, who was tortured with her body garbed in church clothing while she was "baptized" in the bathtub with a note from the bible nearby. Besides the gruesome crime scene the homicide further disturbs Ella who is not sure why until she remembers she worked a similar case while working as an FBI agent in California. She quickly links her current case to two other women dying in a similar horrific way with their children executed. Ella finds a link involving her father's church years ago that also means she and her family are in jeopardy from an unknown adversary with a religious grudge. Aimee and David Thurlo has written some of the best contemporary Native American police procedurals on the market in recent years as readers over the course of the Clah series investigations obtain a taste of the Navaho culture while also being entertained. TURQUOISE GIRL lives up to those expectations with a strong whodunit and a look at the debate between the traditionalists and the modernization groups. Ella is at her best as her inquiries lead her moving deftly between the two opposing sectors when her case suddenly turns personal.

Devil in Amber
Mark Gatiss
c/o Simon and Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl., New York, NY 10020
0743283961, $13.00 1-800-223-2336

In the 1920s His Majesty's Secret Service Agent Lucifer Box has a license to kill; he does just that when he shoots obese drug lord Hubbard the Cupboard partially for being an American though his foe does cut him with a razor. However, just after the blood flows, Lucifer's younger Secret service rival Percy Flarge arrives on the scene, as always too late to matter. Percy takes a silk handkerchief from Hubbard to stop the bleeding. Lucifer takes a sexual aside from saving the world while he waits for his next killing assignment. Joshua "the dwarf" Reynolds informs Lucifer he is to observe The Fascist Anglo-United States Trinity (F.A.U.S.T.) as they anticipate something big occurring from this devilish pact specifically the "Amber Shirts" demonized group led by Olympus Mons, who promotes the end of democracy because it is too ineffective, inefficient and takes away from his power. Lucifer hates the assignment because his sister Pandora is a bon Mons follower. As Box is boxed in upstate New York by snow and a murder accusation, Lucifer knows he must flee the States because whatever Mons and Amber Shirts plan it will occur in England as Olympus and Pandora sail on the luxury liner Stiffkey. Nothing is sacred as Mark Gatiss puns politics, democracy, espionage, history, the paranormal and religion with this humorous lampoon sequel (see THE VESUVIUS CLUB). The story line is fast-paced and enhanced by illustrations that give it a pulp feel to this wonderful satire. Lucifer is at his best as he boxes his way out of boxes caused by those on his side as much as the opposition.

Staying Home Is a Killer
Sara Rosett
Kensington Publishing Corp.
850 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10022-6222
0758213387, $22.00 1-800-345-2665

On her way to see her husband who is with the 52nd Air Refueling squadron, stay-at-home mom Ellie Avery meets her daughter's babysitter Penny Follette. Instead of fading into the woodwork, she is all aglow promising to tell Ellie her secret later. She gives Ellie a bag of chocolate covered coffees beans and she promptly sets it down in the area where the squadron has its drinks and food. Later that day Ellie receives a phone call from a friend saying that Penny committed suicide. When a stunned Ellie listens to her phone messages, Penny's is full of vigor as she informs her that she is pregnant. Ellie is certain that her friend didn't kill herself as the enthusiasm is too great. A tox screen shows she was poisoned. Georgia, who is part of the squadron, drinks the coffee Ellie left behind and is rushed to the hospital because she was poisoned. Ellie soon becomes a suspect as she is the only link between the two women. Things get worse when she finds a third body, the general's wife who was also murdered. In between poisonings, Ellie is the victim of serious malicious pranks by someone who wants her to turn over "it" to him; since she doesn't know what it is, she begins sleuthing in earnest to prevent anyone else especially her and her family from becoming victim number four. Anyone who is a stay at home mom with a husband in the service who goes TDY frequently will empathize with Ellie who has to deal with all the family problems by herself. Sara Rosett is a great storyteller as she creates a magnificent protagonist who is a bloodhound once she gets the scent. The author infuses her delightful cozy with humor as a tension relieving technique that works so well that readers will eagerly awaits the next installment in this special Washington State cozy.

Absolute Fear
Lisa Jackson
850 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10022-6222
0758211821, $19.95 1-800-345-2665

Three months have passed since that fatal night that still haunts Eve Renner, the adopted daughter of Dr. Terrence Renner, former chief psychiatrist at the now closed Our Lady of Virtues Mental Hospital. That evening her borderline paranoid childhood friend Roy demanded Eve meet him at his Uncle Vernon Kajak's remote fishing cabin as he has evidence. Instead the serial killer the Reviver murdered Roy; Eve saw her boyfriend Cole's face just before going unconscious. She suffers from amnesia, but fears Cole is this number tattooing psychopath avenging an apparent affront received at the asylum. Detectives Reuben Montoya and Rick Bentz lead the investigation but though they question Cole, they lack evidence to hold him. As the cops try to stop a deranged killer from adding new numbers to the body count, Eve believes answers to the murderer's identity and why can be found in Our Lady of Virtues Mental Hospital where she grew up. However, she needs help so she wonders whether she should turn to Cole, who just might be the killer. ABSOLUTE FEAR will bring shivers up and down the spine of the audience every time the Reviver leaves his tattoo numbers behind on the latest corpse. Eve is a terrific central character as she wonders if the man she loves is the killer while deciding to uncover the truth by going into the asylum where she knows "hell" awaits her. On a personal side note for those fans following these Bayou thrillers, Reuben's fiancee Abby Chastain thinks Eve might be her half-sister. Though asylum serial killers and heroines with amnesia can be trite devices, Lisa Jackson keeps her plot brisk and fresh as the action-pack twisting story line thoroughly entertains readers.

Fat Free and Fatal
G.A. McKevett
850 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10022-6222
0758215509, $22.00 1-800-345-2665

San Carmelita private detective Savannah Reid is going to work as a bodyguard for famous actress Dona Papalardo who is on the comeback trail. She disappeared after gaining weight, had gastric bypass surgery, and had all the details of her ordeal exposed to people who read tabloids. She feels alone except for her assistant and friend Kimberly Dylan. One night Kimberly was going out wearing Dona's clothes and getting into her limousine when a shot rings out and kills her in Dona's arms. Detective Sargent Dirk Coulter talks Dona into hiring a bodyguard because he thinks the killer was trying to kill her. Savannah comes to live in Dona's mansion and when she isn't on duty as a bodyguard, she is helping Dirk look for the killer. What they find out is that Kim and Jack the gardener were using aliases that are in another state for fraud and larceny. Although they are not the killer but the murderer's victims, she knows they had an ulterior motive for working for Dona. They must find the killer but it is a piece of clothing that breaks the case open. FAT FREE AND FATAL is an exciting crime caper that shows off G.A. McKevett's incredible storytelling ability. The heroine is a swell female who doesn't care that she is not society's ideal definition of a woman. Instead she is a strong independent woman who doesn't let herself be pushed around and thinks enough of her abilities that she does an investigation her way. There is plenty of action but the heart of this tale lies with Savannah and the support cast, who make her look like an amazon warrior doing battle.

Come With Me
J.S. Hawley
Kensington Dafina
850 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10022-6222
0758219350, $6.99 1-800-345-2665

Like her two older siblings Jessica Bishop has been a success as the CEO of Utopia. However, her partner Doug wants to move on so he introduces Jessica to a proposed replacement Fred Tyler. When she meets Fred, Jessica rejects him as being unsuited, but realizes perhaps it is time for her to move on as well. Her leaving Utopia turns into a media feeding frenzy so Jessica flees Manhattan for a remote location in the North Carolina Mountains. Staying in her brother's getaway cabin, Jessica meets Michael Majestic Cloud Walker. Both are attracted to each other, but she just wants to be alone so that she can regroup. He refuses to back away as he has never felt this way before. Michael persuades "Jesse" that they can share a passion and still have space; but that ignites much more between them if he can convince his beloved that their way is the best way even as the "youthful invaders" begin to arrive. COME WITH ME is a delightful character driven contemporary romance starring a workaholic taking her first time out and a Native American seeking the right path as he will one day be the tribal leader. Readers will enjoy Michael's campaign to win the heart and soul of Jessica who has no time for herself let alone making room for another person (make that seven and growing). Though the ensemble invasion makes it difficult to keep track without a scorecard, J.S. Hawley provides a warm modern day tale of love enhanced by the message of it takes caring adults to nurture the young.

The Great Scot
Donna Kauffman
Kensington Brava
850 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10022-6222
0758212011 , $14.00 1-800-345-2665

The American came to Scotland seeking the perfect romantic setting for the romance reality show Your Prince Charming. Erin McGregor believes she found the ideal locale in the Glenbuie area of the Scottish Highlands as the Chisholm Keep feels right out of Pride and Prejudice. Being a sensible girl, Erin also finds the owner Dylan Chisholm quite hot too. Dylan agrees to allow Erin and her ridiculous reality show to use his castle as the villagers need the extra income that the visitors will bring though he detests the concept and plans to avoid her and her show. However, THE GREAT SCOT learns intentions and reality are quite different as he and Erin fall into lust with one another until she fears she has fallen in love with someone who loathes the emotion. The follow-up to the McGregor three siblings' novellas (see BAD BOYS IN KILTS) is a heated (especially outdoors) contemporary romance in which Hollywood meets old fashion Scotland. The changing relationship between the lead couple drives the story line starting when a reluctant Dylan agrees to Erin's offer, and then morhs into a tryst and finally into love. The relationship is doomed of one of them don't admit their true feelings. Though somewhat feeling extended (as if a novella was more suited) fans will enjoy Donna Kauffman's fun frolic between the Yank and the Scot.

Blood Matters
Taffy Cannon
Perseverance Press
c/o John Daniel & Co.
PO Box 2790, McKinleyville, CA 95519
1880284863, $14.95 1-800-662-8351

San Diego Sheriff's Department homicide detective Roxanne Prescott is taken aback and so is her senior partner when they enter Sam Brennan's mega mansion. It is huge and contains various collections like antique cars, salt and pepper shakers, and neon signs. Everything is presented by themes in the various rooms in the house, which is also unique with oval rooms, secret passages and a priest's bolt hole. Sam was murdered by someone he trusted which limits the suspects since he wasn't close to many people. He died when someone hit him in his head with a Michael Jackson statue. Sam founded Adoption Central to reunite adoptees with their birth family and to facilitate adoptions. Everyone at work liked him and he got along with his half sister even though he detested her right wing radio talk show host. After days of interviewing people, they have not even one suspect in hand. Roxanne comes up with an idea that will either make her look foolish or trap a killer. Taffy Cannon has written an excellent police procedural that shows two bored and frustrated cops working a murder case that goes nowhere. The protagonist is a strong woman who gets along equally with men and woman while she is willing to learn from those who are willing the mentor her. The investigative process is fascinating, the supporting characters are well designed as Ms. Cannon proves one doesn't need blood and gore to make a police procedural believable.

The Picasso Flop
Vince Van Patten, Robert J. Randisi
The Mysterious Press
c/o Warner Books
1271 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
0892960701, $24.99 1-800-759-0190

Having spent the past decade in jail on a manslaughter conviction, poker guru Jimmy Spain is stunned by the changes. Texas hold 'em is all over TV and the Internet, and women and amateurs participate in tournaments in which a zillion play. Prison friend Harold Landrigan worries about his daughter Kat, who dreams of making it big in the poker world though her tournament experience is near zero. Harold hires Jimmy to mentor his twenty-two year old daughter Kat; to do so Jimmy enters the Five Diamond World Poker Classic in which she is a participant. He arranges to meet her and cons her into hiring him to train her. When Jimmy manages to meet Kat he make his mentoring her idea. He also meets Sabine Chevalier, but his plan for her is more personal. When someone murders star Tim Bennett, leaving behind THE PICASSO FLOP (a jack, a queen and a king) Kat and Sabine name Jimmy as their alibi. As others are killed with the same calling cards left at the scene, Las Vegas Police Detective Cooper asks Jimmy, the son of a cop, to conduct a supplemental insider investigation. THE PICASSO FLOP is an interesting poker mystery starring a likable player who is caught between two women, LVPD, and the deadly tournament where someone is not bluffing. The story line is at its best at the card table where the audience will be enthralled while the games are played. The whodunit and Jimmy's background take gallery seats to Texas hold 'em as TV poker announcer Vince Van Patten and mystery writer Robert J. Randisi combine to provide a full house.

Death of a Garage Sale Newbie
Sharon Dunn
Multnomah Books
12265 Oracle Blvd., Suite 200, Colorado Springs, CO 80921
1590526899, $12.99 1-800-929-0910

In Three Horses, Montana, Ginger Salinski, Mary Margaret Parker, Suzanne Thames, and Kindra Hall join together to form the Bargain Hunters Network. The foursome travel the garage sale circuit and afterward meet to show the bargains they purchased at widow Mary Margaret's home. The quartet has little else in common beside their passion for the BHN. This time when the three visitors descend on Mary Margaret's home, they find her not home and her house a mess. Led by Ginger who fears the worst, they follow Mary Margaret's garage sale trail visiting the four sites the woman visited on that fatal day. They find little, but sift through the items their friend bought and left behind. One of the selling sites includes a person who needs to prevent the three surviving BHN members from learning the truth. Though the whodunit is resolved too easily by the ultimate amateurs, readers will enjoy the first BHN mystery for its rich characterization. Ginger is terrific as she begins to realize she takes for granted her spouse Earl, a retiree begging her to inspire and emotional encourage him as he tries to invent things. Her final confrontation with paying full price will leave readers with a positive amused taste; while her two surviving BHN cronies add depth as they are also unique much younger protagonists with issues. Readers will enjoy this amateur sleuth bargain shopping binge in Big Sky country.

Speak Through the Wind
Allison Pittman
Multnomah Books
12265 Oracle Blvd., Suite 200, Colorado Springs, CO 80921
1590526252, $12.99 1-800-929-0910

In the mid nineteenth century in New York City, Reverend Joseph Hartmann almost hits the little girl with his carriage. The pastor of the Tenth Street Methodist Church takes her into his home calling her "Sparrow" though her name is Kassandra. He teaches her to love God and she helps him in little ways. When she turns fifteen, she meets Ben Connor, who delivers packages for Samson's Butcher. He persuades her to leave Joseph so that the reverend can find a wife and have a family, but Ben turns out to be a shake-down artist and a snake who uses charm or muscle to get what he wants. Once he achieves his goal, he discards the heartbroken Kassandra into the mean streets. Humiliated and hurt, instead of returning to Joseph, Kassandra obtains work at local brothels, but soon leaves the city. She obtains employment on the sheets regardless of where she goes. Kassandra believes that God abandoned his sparrow until she meets two desperate women in Silver Peak, Wyoming Territory where she sells her body at Jewel Gunn's fancy brothel as Sadie. Gloria is pregnant with no hope while Biddy believes the Lord will help them through this crisis. The three women bond with each gaining so much strength from one another and from God. The second "Crossroads of Grace" tale (see TEN THOUSAND CHARMS) is a wonderful tale of second chance salvation and redemption. Readers will feel they accompany Sparrow from the onset of her physical journey from New York to San Francisco to the Wyoming Territory as much as her spiritual trek away from God. Allison Pittman writes a powerful inspirational historical starring a fallen woman who believes God has forsaken her until she meets Gloria and Biddy.

Randy Alcorn
Multnomah Books
12265 Oracle Blvd., Suite 200, Colorado Springs, CO 80921
1590526163, $19.99 1-800-929-0910

Thirty year police officer Ollie Chandler is irate that Portland Police Department Chief Lennox cuts a deal with the Oregon Tribune that enables a reporter to join him when he and his partner Manny Dumast work a homicide investigation. Ollie has not forgotten that fifteen years ago, the Tribune with no real facts or attempt to hear his side ruined his reputation by accusing him of racially motivated police brutality; though he was exonerated for his use of force having saved lives, people still think of him as a racist pig. Reporter Clarence Abernathy is to be Ollie's shadow though they are friends or as close to that as a journalist and a cop can be. The case turns out to be the murder of Portland State University Professor William Paletine. As the clues mount, Ollie begins to believe a cop is the killer and that this peer knows him as some clues are to set him up to take the eventual fall, and that his previous too perfectly resolved arrest of Lincoln Caldwell on a homicide might also have been a cop frame. When another detective is murdered, Ollie feels even stronger that a cop is behind all three murders, but who that person is and proving it seems impossible as the evidence initially targets a detective with iron clad alibs and himself. DECEPTION is a well written police procedural starring a crusty alcoholic cop who pays homage to Rex Stout and others. The religious elements are brought forth during breakfast between Ollie, Clarence (see DOMINION) and Jake Woods (see DEADLINE), but are handled deftly to allow insight into the lead character still mourning the death of his beloved "Saint" Sharon and the estrangement with his two daughters; though there are some heavenly scenes that feel intrusive to this earthbound mystery. Still this is a delightful whodunit as Ollie chewing his black juicy gum investigates a complex homicide with the media watching his every move.

Ever Present Danger
Kathy Herman
Multnomah Books
12265 Oracle Blvd., Suite 200, Colorado Springs, CO 80921
1590529219, $12.99 1-800-929-0910

Ivy Griffith left her hometown of Jacob's Ear, Colorado following the death of Joe Hadley. Over the years she used drugs and alcohol to bury her conscience as the pact she made with Pete Barton, Reg and Denny haunts her because she knows she should have spoke up. She sold her body to pay for drugs. Now after a decade away she calls her mom to ask if she, her seven years old son Montana, and a close friend seventy years old Lucia Ramirez can come home. Her mom is elated and wary, but welcomes her while her dad refuses to offer encouragement as he fears she will hurt them again; Ivy has doubts too that you can't come home. Lu is dying from leukemia so she needs someone to watch over her son while she works. Her mom jumps at the job of spending time with her grandson that she did not know existed until recently; her dad remains cold and aloof expecting Ivy to run. Not only does she stay she obtains work as a waitress at a restaurant and avoids Pete, owner of a deli as much as possible. However, a construction team has uncovered the buried skull of Joe while digging on the Collier Ranch just prior to Ivy becoming embroiled in something as lethal. The key to this fascinating character study is Ivy whose subsequent actions following the pivotal moment of her life seem genuine as she struggles to bury the guilt that has overwhelmed her. When she comes home with her son and her dying friend, the reactions of her parents especially her father, also seem realistic as a decade of dysfunctional and distrust does not suddenly end over night. Though a late suspense subplot takes away from an incredibly deep family drama, Kathy Herman provides a well written inspirational character study.

Ransomed Dreams
Amy Wallace
Multnomah Books
12265 Oracle Blvd., Suite 200, Colorado Springs, CO 80921
159052747X , $12.99 1-800-929-0910

In the Atlanta area, Mark and Gracie Ann Lang and their two preadolescent children Elizabeth and Joshua are going to spend New Year's at her parents' home. However, Gracie Ann forgot to turn on her oven so sends her three loved ones ahead. After they leave, Gracie Ann realizes she can bake the cake in her mom's oven; she leaves also. On the highway she is behind her family when an out of control pick-up truck rams into their minivan. The truck driver keeps going while Gracie Ann sees three sheets. Two years later in DC, FBI Crimes Against Children Coordinator Steven Kessler is assigned the abductions of seventeen years old Olivia Kensington daughter of the British ambassador Sir Walter, and her best friend Jordan. Sir Walter hides information from Steven making the case increasingly likely to result in murder. Steven meets still grieving Gracie Ann when he goes to pick up his son James at the Hope Ridge Academy where she teaches (having left Georgia). He arranges with a private sleuth friend to investigate her obsession to bring to justice her family's killer even while someone watches every move she makes to insure she cannot get to close to the killer driver. Though the DC link between Gracie Ann and the vehicular homicide "watcher" seems too great a coincidence and her meeting the Fed at the school seems doubtful but not as stretched, RANSOMED DREAMS is an exciting romantic suspense thriller due to the caring personalities of the lead couple. Whereas Steven personalizes when he or his team fail to save the life of a child from a human predator, Gracie Ann obsesses over an eye for an eye justice for her late family. Fans will root for this couple who need one another to move past recent traumas (hers is obvious; his is a kid "saved" too late). Amy Wallace writes a strong character study as grief is personal surfacing differently in people.

Reluctant Runaway
Jill Elizabeth Nelson
Multnomah Books
12265 Oracle Blvd., Suite 200, Colorado Springs, CO 80921
1590526872, $12.99 1-800-929-0910

HJ Security co-owner Maxine Webb is upset to learn her niece Karen has vanished leaving behind her daughter and spouse Brent. With her partner Desiree Jacobs they fly out to Albuquerque to also look into the theft of Indian artifacts from the New Mexico Museum of Art and Anthology. Desiree's FBI boyfriend Tony Lucano pleads with her to stay out of trouble. In New Mexico, Desiree begins to obtain information on the Inner Witness Ministries that she believes is tied to the theft and the disappearance. Back in Boston, Tony's loses one of his men during a shootout. He is placed on administrative leave, but is allowed to travel to New Mexico to be with Desiree and assist local agents as their case ties to one of his. Though she makes a concerted effort to stay out of trouble, Desiree seems to be in the middle even as Tony tries to keep her safe as all heck breaks lose in a desert sanctuary. The second reluctant Jacobs thriller (see THE RELUCTANT THIEF) is an entertaining tale that focuses on law enforcement and Desiree looking into a potential cult that may or may not have abducted the niece of the heroine's partner. The story line is fast-paced as Desiree tries to avoid trouble, but troubles tries to find Desiree. Though the look at regional art is almost empty as opposed to the first tale and in spite of the stolen artifacts being a key element, fans will appreciate this romantic suspense with the emphasis on the action.

Karen Kingsbury
Tyndale House Publishers
351 Executive Drive, Carol Stream, IL 60188
1414307640, $13.99 1-800-323-9400

In Bloomington, Indiana, Katy Hart and renowned actor Dayne Matthews plan for their wedding and his subsequent move from Hollywood to the Midwest. Though he is filming a movie, he flies to Bloomington on weekends to see Katy. After sharing breakfast with his costar Randy Wells they leave in separate cars, but the Paparazzi chase them causing a ricochet effect that leads to Dayne severely hurt in a life and death coma. Katy flies to his side in California while the Baxters pray for a miracle that their oldest recover as he has just been returned to them. That is all the Baxters except Luke who as a legal assistant in New York detests the newly found and famous older brother as he has believes he has lost his standing with his siblings and his widower father. Though the Luke subplot seems off in spite of his resentment ringing true, Karen Kingsbury fifth Baxter Firstborn family drama is a wonderful contemporary tale. The cast is strong as the family embraces the Lord praying for a miracle. Though newcomers need to read the previous novels (see FAME, FORGIVEN, FOUND and FAMILY) to fully understand the interrelation dynamics, FOREVER is an inspiring conclusion to a strong saga.

Queen of the Underworld
Gail Godwin
1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
0345483197, $14.95 1-800-726-0600

In 1959, having just graduated college and unable to stay under the domineering control of her parents, Emma Gant leaves North Carolina by train to start as a reporter at the Miami Star at a time when the southern city is a hot bed of Cuban exiles. Adding to her self imposed exile to southern Florida is her married lover Miami Beach nightclub owner Paul Nightingale lives there. In Miami she takes a room at the Julia Tuttle Hotel where Emma meets Cuban families who fled Castro's revolution. Life is exciting for Emma as she learns how to be a real journalist mentored by professionals at the Star and much about Cuba before and during the Castro conquest. Struggling with influences that pull at the young reporter, Emma meets a horde of people impacted by Castro's Communist revolution especially a non-journalist life mentor former madam Ginevra Brown, THE QUEEN OF THE UNDERWORLD. This is an interesting look at Miami at a time of turmoil that has turned the city and much of Southern Florida upside down. The support cast is solid and eccentric adding a touch of time and place to what the rookie reporter observes as everyday people do non-ordinary tasks. The heroine is also well drawn as more of an observer who has broken the prime directive of not getting involved in the story. However, the influx of sidebars like segments in Spanish and newspaper articles may augment the realism, but disrupts the flow of the story line though overall Gail Godwin provides a fine look at 1960s Miami.

Troy: Shield of Thunder
David Gemmell
1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
0345477014, $25.95 1-800-726-0600

Helen resides inside the safe walls of Troy under the protection of her husband Menelaus. Her former lover Paris fumes helplessly outraged by his beloved being in the arms of another. Meanwhile using the rescuing of Helen as a ploy, King Agamemnon of Mycenae begins to gather armies and a thousand ships to sail across the Great Green Sea with plans to invade Ilium so he can loot and destroy the great city of Troy. King Priam of Troy prepares his city for the war by arranging a marriage between his son Hektor and Princess Andromache of Thebe as he anticipates the Greek siege that he feels he can outlast until his new marital ally arrives to help him; Priam also believes the Princess will one day bear the legendary Eagle Child monarch and so having her inside the walls adds to his confidence of survival. Across the Great Green Sea men seeking to become heroes or running away from troubles merge under Agamemnon's banner. However, strange bedfellows arise when Priam debases King Odysseus of Ithaka, who planned to remain out of the war. Insulted Odysseus leads his mighty military joining Agamemnon's assault on Troy as the war ignites on the Plains of Ilium. The second Troy thriller as did its precedent (see TROY: LORD OF THE SILVER BOW) pays homage to Homer, but also to talented author David Gemmell who passed away recently. Mr. Gemmell provides a deep look at the legendary figures involved in the tale of Helen of Troy as he gets behind the scenes to "expose" those who used her to launch the thousand ships. The tale remains true to its Ancient Greek roots, yet has a modern day feel to it as political intrigue and avarice become key motivators. As with the Lord of the Silver Bow, Shield of Thunder is a superb rendition of a classic that can be read without the first story, but clearly builds on the saga of Troy as Mr. Gemmell provides a fitting tribute as a great legends teller.

Blood of Paradise
David Corbett
1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
0812977335, $9.95 1-800-726-0600

In El Salvador, American Jude McManus works as an executive protection specialist, currently keeping safe the captains of industry at a local bottling plant. Jude is approached by former Chicago Police Officer Bill Malvasio. Bill was a partner of Jude's late father at the CPD before they and a third cop Phil Strock were caught stealing from a drug dealer. Whereas dad drowned in Rend Lake after his disgrace, Wild Bill fled to El Salvatore. The surviving two "Laugh masters" as the trio called themselves back then, Bill and Phil want to hire Jude. He agrees to come home and accept the job offer. However, not only has his dad's legacy come back to haunt Jude, but he finds himself caught in the middle of international corruption at the highest levels of business and governments. BLOOD OF PARADISE is a fascinating thriller that never truly decides between being a political expose or an action-packed suspense. David Corbett makes a strong case that the Bush democratization of Iraq has a precedent not in Nam but in El Salvatore, which the American supported side won the 1980s civil war but two decades later is a model of democracy at its worst with abject poverty flourishing, corruption the normal way to run government and do business, and violent crime at stratospheric levels. Those who believe the Bush experiment affirms the Reagan experiment that you cannot transport democracy from without will enjoy this interesting tale; those who prefer an action-packed thriller regardless of political preference will want to pass.

Wrecker's Key
Christine Kling
1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
034547905X, $24.95 1-800-726-0600

Though it is only three years since she inherited her late father's tugboat, Seychelle "Sey" Sullivan struggles to keep the business afloat as the insurance is a fortune and her unscrupulous competitors use modern technology and amoral tactics to beat her to the job. Now Sey also deals with a lawsuit. Currently she is leaving her Fort Lauderdale base to help a friend in Key West. Nestor Frias is the captain of wealthy Ted Berger's yacht that needs towing to a repair dock. However, Nestor dies in what looks like a tragic accident except his pregnant wife Catalina believes he was murdered. Sey also has doubts as her late friend told her someone did something to the GPS, which fits nicely into her wondering how Ocean Towing always gets to the stranded vessels even before the Coast Guard arrives. Furthermore she ponders whether the owner Neville Pinder is somehow causing the beaching of yachts onto reefs and perhaps Nestor found the proof though Sey also thinks the concept is foolish. That is until someone starts stalking her. This is an interesting nautical whodunit starring a beleaguered (just ask her dog) tugboat Annie struggling to keep her business sailing against rivals with much more capital, better equipment, and no scruples. The story line is action-packed especially at sea where Sey has her legs anchored. Readers who appreciate a deep suspense thriller will want to join Sey on and off the Florida coast as she soon finds staying alive has become her prime issue.

What's So Funny?
Donald E. Westlake
Warner Books, Inc.
1271 Avenue of the Americas, Room 913, New York, NY 10020
0446582409, $24.99 1-800-759-0190

Former cop turned private investigator Johnny Eppick has evidence that could lead to the arrest of robber John Dortmunder. However, instead of turning it in to his former peers, the sleuth blackmails Dortmunder into doing a simple job for him. He is to steal a chess set once owned by a long dead Czar that Eppick's client believes belongs to him. The chess set is inside a secure Manhattan subterranean vault under a bank that has lawyers' offices above it. In the attorneys' offices the Northwood family argues vehemently over who rightfully not necessarily legally owns the chess set although the claims of ownership ties to the looter who took it from Russia and not to the Czar. Dortmunder realizes he has limited access to the bank or office spaces above and that the vault has more security guards than the Green Zone contains. Thus if he can't go to the mountain he must find a way to move the mountain to give him easier access. Proving that a baker's dozen retains a humorous freshness, the latest Dortmunder crime caper is a delightful amusing tale with a cast of a zillion seemingly playing chess with one another on the same board. Readers will wonder how Dortmunder will pull off the theft as he spends much of the first half of the droll story line feeling checked with every move he makes. Fans of the series will appreciate his escapades as he struggles to checkmate a horde of adversaries including the sleuth blackmailing him.

McKettrick's Heart
Linda Lael Miller
Harlequin HQN
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
0373771940, $7.99

Following a deep betrayal and subsequent nasty divorce, Keegan McKettrick vows no more permanent relationships with women. To accomplish his goal he buries himself in the family firm. Two years ago Molly Shields swore that there will be no men in her life after she gave birth to a child with a man she did not know was married. Reluctantly the Los Angeles based literary agent for the sake of the infant gave up all rights so that the child could be raised by two parents. However, the louse Thayer Ryan who impregnated her is dead and now his widow Psyche is dying from cancer and wants to see her. Psyche asks Molly to raise the toddler, but with the stipulation that she relocates to Indian Rock, Arizona where Keegan will share the parenting chores. He does not trust her because she is a woman, because she gave up her baby, because she was the other woman, and finally because he wants her too much. She thinks he is an obstinate dope who she wants too much. The final book in Linda Lael Miller's superb modern day McKettrick Cowboy romances (see MCKETTRICK'S PRIDE and MCKETTRICK'S LUCK) is an excellent tale of love between two distrusting souls who feels that emotion only leads to trouble and heartache. Their "family" beta test is hot and hilarious especially when the rest of the horde invades their relationship. Contemporary fans will appreciate this delightful tale that showcases Ms. Miller's abilities as she completes her bringing her nineteenth century McKettrick family romances into the 2007 descendants with a winner.

Montana Red
Genell Dellin
Harlequin HQN
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
0373772017, $6.99

In North Texas, Clea Mathison serendipitously steals "her" horse Ariel from her ex-spouse Brock, a fake in every sense of the word except when he seeks revenge. Clea would not call abducting Ariel a theft as she and the steed were one as they rode together until her vindictive wealthy and influential former husband cut her off from her beloved horse. Though she fears every mile she drives towards Oklahoma and beyond to Big Sky Country that she will be caught, Cleo knows the risk of jail time is worth having her beloved horse with her. Jake Hawthorne has signed a one year contract with California based "deep pockets" Natural Bands who wants to "baby-sit" horses in their natural habitat; he took the job to make plenty of money after losing his heart to Victoria and the two boys, but money proved stronger than love. Still his reason for accepting the wrangler does not sit well with him as in the past he accepted jobs because of adventure. At his house, Jake, Teddy and Buck see Clea in her real fox fur vest holding precariously a shot gun that she fires and kills a truck; they assume she is a horse thief although she stopped at the wrong barn. When Ariel escapes, Jake and Clea pursue; as they fall in love on the trail, Brock chases after the woman who embarrassed him. Though Brock comes across as an obstinate nasty person, readers will enjoy this fun contemporary Montana romance starring two protagonists who distrust love based on recent experiences. The story line is fast-paced with charming droplets of humor brought mostly by Teddy and Buck. Fans will enjoy this fine Big Sky romance from the moment Clea kills the truck and especially appreciate joining the lead couple on the trail after spirited matchmaking Ariel.

A Most Unsuitable Groom
Kasey Michaels
Harlequin HQN
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
0373771916, $6.99

In 1813 due to the incompetence of General Proctor, British soldier Spencer Becket expects to die in the upcoming battle with the American army.. He prays that the intelligent Chief Tecumseh survives as he expects the Five Nations will collapse without him and the British will lose again to the colonists. Spencer takes a bullet in his thigh and a rifle butt to his head. He awakens a week later to find his compatriot Clovis Meechum and an angel that he immediately thinks is the devil seeing to him. In 1814, Spencer continues to recover form his war injuries, but he is home at Beckett Hall in Romney Marsh when his "angel-devil" arrives pregnant. She greets him by congratulating him that he will soon be a father, but he does not remember making love to fiery Mariah Rutledge. The pair quickly marries so that their offspring is born legitimately, but the Becket brood agrees to hide their privateer history from the newcomer. Knowing they do not trust her, Mariah, after the baby is born, learns of an insidious plot to restore the Emperor in Paris so she decides she must act to prove herself to her relatives by preventing the return; Spencer follows the woman he loves. The fourth Romney Marsh historical romance is a fine Regency, but lacks the humor that made the previous tales see THE DANGEROUS DEBUTANTE, BEWARE OF VIRTUOUS WOMEN and A GENTLEMAN BY ANY OTHER NAME) some of the best the sub-genre has had in the past few years. The story line is filled with action especially when Mariah runs away twice and most enjoyable when she and Spencer bicker. Though why she must prove herself to her in-laws by abandoning her baby never comes across as plausible, series fans will enjoy the latest entry in a terrific saga.

Knit Two Together
Connie Lane
Harlequin Next
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
0373881304, $5.50

In Pittsburgh, Libby Cartwright learns she inherited "Barb's Knits" in Cleveland from her late mother, who abandoned her when she was a baby. She has no plans to reopen the store; instead encouraged by her forty years old husband and her teenage daughter Meghan she just wants to sell it and forget the last thread to her mother. However, Libby becomes outraged when she learns her spouse plans to divorce her to marry his pregnant girlfriend. Over the objection of her daughter, Libby divorces her cheating husband and moves to the loft over the knit shop. Deciding to make a go at it, she reopens Barb's Knits as Metropolitan Knits while feeling an attraction to customer Hal O'Connell. KNIT TWO TOGETHER is an interesting family drama that focuses on Libby who must face her heritage and her future at the same time due to the actions of the two people she believes betrayed her (her late mom and her cheating spouse). Libby's change of heart makes for a fascinating second chance at love when she decides to leave Pennsylvania for Ohio to get away from her husband. Though her lifestyle changes seem to knit together too easily, readers will enjoy her efforts to start over and forgive those who left her.

Wish Come True
Patricia Kay
Harlequin Next
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
0373881290, $5.50

Kate Bishop prays to God for a miracle because she and her four teenage kids have financial problems. Her ex-spouse does provide child support for the younger two, but that is not enough even with her salary from her job she and her offspring live check to check. God answers her prayer when Kate wins the lottery. She assumes her troubles are over as she can afford things that she did without. However, her extended family including those related to her ex wants hand-outs as they believe she should cover their fiscal troubles. Even strangers demand she fork over money for a cause or themselves. Kate is overwhelmed with the demands as she begins to ponder sometimes you get what you wished for. The premise is terrific as the lead protagonist learns sometimes you get what you wish for when she wins the lottery and everyone she knows and many she does not come out of the woodwork like rats leaving a ship demanding money. However, too many secondary characters overwhelm at times the premise as few except perhaps Kate's insistent sister seem developed enough to matter. Still Kate's changed status means changed woes making for an interesting tale.

A Breath Away
Wendy Etherington
Harlequin Blaze
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
0373793146, $4.75

Lucas Broussard (male lead of JUST ONE TASTE) asks his cousin former NSA agent turned personal security specialist Jade Broussard to protect art expert Remington Tremaine. Jade would do anything for her only known living relative so she agrees though she also knows that the client was an international art thief with many enemies. When Jade and Remington meet, sparks fly as they are attracted to one another and he has doubts about a female bodyguard though he wants her to guard his body in his bed. As they become acquainted, attempts are made on his life; she shows her competency and her courage as she risks her life to keep him safe. They fall in love, but first a dangerous adversary must be stopped before Remington and perhaps Jade become victims. This is a powerful romantic suspense thriller with plenty of action in and out of the bedroom as the hero's past catches up top his present. The story line is a fast-paced one sitting delight as the action grips the audience from the onset and never lets up until the final coda occurs. The support cast is fully developed, but the tale belongs to the gender bending couple as Wendy Etherington takes the breath away from her thrilled audience.

Constant Craving
Tori Carrington
Harlequin Special Releases
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
0373198620, $4.99

FBI Financial Crimes Unit Agent Adam Grayson is undercover working as an accountant at Sheffert, Logan and Brace, Certified Public Accountants, in order to find evidence of income tax evasion by partner Norman Sheffert. The assignment is boring except for his boss at the firm junior partner Eva Burgess, the star of his daydreams and night fantasies. Not only has she refused to date him, his Fed superior Wentworth informs him the case is a bust unlike Adam's efforts following the terrorist money trail. However, Eva asks the "geeky" Adam for a favor. She needs a temporary spouse to take home with her when she visits her ailing father, as she has just gotten a divorce and her parents, who never met her husband, are unaware that she is single. . He agrees as he sees this is his last chance to salvage the investigation; not the official one involving Sheffert, but the personal one between Adam and Eva. This is delightful reprint of the first team Carrington tale from the early 1990s and surprisingly in spite of the Internet explosion the story line holds up quite nicely. Readers will appreciate Adam's brain turning to mush as the CPA operative cannot think with his upper head when Eva is nearby. Though pretending a husband seems inappropriate even with good intentions, new readers will see why fans have a CONSTANT CRAVING for more from this authoring duo.

A Heartbeat Away
Eleanor Jones
Harlequin Everlasting
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
0373654065, $5.25

Lucy McTavish and Daniel Brown have loved each other since they met as children. His family farm was her escape from her unhappy home. With Daniel she felt needed and cared for and he swore he would always be there for her. That promise proved impossible when Daniel dies in an accident. She leaves the countryside for London to escape her memories, but though she has a boyfriend in Alex, Lucy always dreams of her beloved Daniel. Not paying attention while crossing the street, Lucy is hit by a car; Ben Carlisle, whom she just met in the park, saves her life. Alex has no time for a broken girlfriend so he dumps her while Ben stays with her while she heals. Somehow Lucy knows Daniel kept his promise when he sent her Ben. Mindful in some ways of the movie Heaven Can Wait, A HEARTBEAT AWAY is a fascinating contemporary romance starring a delightful protagonist who finds surviving her beloved undesirable until she meets a guy named Ben, whom she thinks was sent by her Daniel to her. The story line focuses on the emotions of Lucy following the tragic death of Daniel as at times she provides her inner perspective. Eleanor Jones provides a poignant character study.

The Depth of Love
Margot Early
Harlequin Everlasting
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
0373654057, $5.25

Besides loving to go caving, Eve Swango and Tommy Baca love one another. However, over the years though she did make passionate love in a cave, Eve has refused to marry Tommy, as she fears marriage would destroy their friendship because Swango females do not stay married. Tommy married and divorced twice including her sister as Eve remains his one true love. Time moves on and the pair goes caving less then they used to. However Tommy knows he still loves Eve and decides to try one last time to get her to exploring the subterranean as his wife. Eve has always said no to his myriad of proposals, but fears she may never get another chance to go underground with the man she loves if she rejects his plea. THE DEPTH OF LOVE is tested with this sleazier much more complex version of When Harry Met Sally as Eve's mom has some ethical issues as she seduced Tommy. The story line centers on the changing relationship between the lead couple although the one constant is their love for one another. Though some readers will be turned off by the Swango females, fans of a character driven contemporary romance will enjoy learning All About Eve.

Hearts Under Caution
Gina Wilkins
Harlequin Special Releases: NASCAR
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
0373217684, $5.99

When dangerous Jesse Norris escapes, Chicago based Assistant District Attorney Lisa Woodrow decides to take some R&R amidst the safety of her family in Charlotte because she knows this nasty person will be coming for those who put him away. She is at the top of his list. Her ailing parents are elated to see her, but she hides why she came home from them out of concern for their well-being though Lisa suspects her mother knows. However, her former fiance, Team Woodrow NASCAR crew chief Wade McClellan overhears the threat to his beloved's life. He altruistically blackmails her as a caution into staying with him by threatening to tell her parents if she refuses although he also believes her parents would be safer if she remained with him. Wade never stopped loving Lisa even though he assumes it is over between them, but he must insure she is safe and can best do it with the security of the racing circuit. The theme of an avenging convicted criminal going after the prosecutor has been used frequently, however Gina Wilkins freshens it with the milieu of the NASCAR racing circuit. The story line is fast-paced whether the subplot is a second chance at love or the criminal threat. Readers will enjoy this fine race between love and a murdering escapee intent on killing the ADA and anyone else blocking his victory lap.

Speed Dating
Nancy Warren
Harlequin Special Releases: NASCAR
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
0373217692, $5.99

People magazine named NASCAR driver Dylan Hargreave its Sexiest Male of the Year. Women salivate over this hunk who takes risks like no one does. Kendall Clarke is an actuary engaged to another number cruncher. She calculates the odds before considering the slightest risk. They meet by chance, but he assumes she is the actress hired to pose as his date at a North Carolina society wedding. They are opposites in outlook yet an instant attraction has ignited and united them. Still she is engaged (or is she) and he can taste the insipidness of his former wife. Yet this pair seems headed to the checkered flag as love links them. Though the theme of opposites attract is as old as coupling, Nancy Warren provides a fun contemporary romance due to the lead characters driving the plot. Dylan is a loose cannon who takes risks without considering the odds of success; while Kendall is the actuary centerfold who computes the probability before taking a baby step. Together they make for a fun time as they speed date to love with the world of NASCAR and the media watching every turn of the wheel.

Danger Zone
Debra Webb
Harlequin Special Releases: NASCAR
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
0373217706, $5.99

Twelve years ago, emergency room nurse Jenna Williams and NASCAR driver Buck Buchanan met and shared a heated tryst before both moved on with their respective lives. However, that is not exactly true as Jenna gave birth to his child, Becca, but never informed the father that he sired a child. Jenna is forced to stay late due to an emergency that has everyone at Jackson County Hospital in Scottsboro, Alabama working overtime. she receives a ransom note demanding a million dollars in exchange for her child. With no place to turn to as she lacks the money, Jenna turns to the father of her daughter as her only hope to save the life of their child. Though hiding a child from the father has become a trite theme, DANGER ZONE is a fast-paced second chance at love romantic suspense thriller as the life of the offspring is at stake. Buck is an interesting protagonist who understands the goal is not accusing Jenna or even making up lost time with his daughter, but saving her life. Readers will appreciate his dedication as he forgives and moves on so that they can concentrate on the mission without distraction except for the attraction of love.

Roxanne St. Claire
Harlequin Special Releases: NASCAR
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
0373217714, $5.99

Shelby Jackson and her grandfather are co-owners of Thunder Racing, a minor NASCAR racing team. However her grandfather has recently been warning her that he wants to retire and to do so he would have to sell his half of the team. He even has a perspective buyer, internationally renowned soccer star Mick Churchill, who needs to purchase a NASCAR team to pay off a bet. Shelby is appalled that some sports moron may be her business partner. She vows no way and tries to find alternatives including persuading grandpa to give her time to raise the money. Mick enjoys battling with his future partner as he finds her more than just an attractive distraction. Still the finish line beckons but who will be in driver's seat for Team Thunder remains confusing as love has left the battlers in disarray. THUNDERSTRUCK is a fun contemporary romance starring two likable characters though the underlying friction is caused not by love but by the overly used theme of business partnering in which one party objects to the other. Readers will enjoy watching Mick and Shelby bicker over the Thunder Racing team while each tries to ignore the attraction between them. Fans will enjoy watching this couple reach the checkered flag arguing all the way.

A Ready-Made Family
Carrie Alexander
Harlequin SuperRomance
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
0373714084, $5.50

Fearing for her kids and praying she was not late, Lia Howard Pogue runs off with her three children, teenage Samantha, ten years old Howie and four years old Kristen Rose so that they can escape the martinet control of their father Larry. Her destination if her dilapidated car makes it is a close friend in the Upper Peninsular of Michigan, but her buddy is not there. Instead her friend's brother, former Ranger Jake Robbin is there and offers sanctuary to the tired four travelers. She accepts his hospitality because she is desperate. She has no more money as she spent her last dime on fast food and the car on its last legs make that wheels, she accepts his hospitality. The two adults are attracted to one another and Jake especially likes the idea of an instant family without the preliminary hassles so he proposes. Lia considers his proposal as she is falling in love until Larry arrives reminding her of how controlling a man can be when her soldier loses his cool. This is a superb family drama as a wary mom screws up her courage to get her children into safe environs away from their martinet dad. The story line is driven by the cast, but what makes the tale superior is there are no easy solutions when relationships are involved. Carrie Alexander writes a great character study starring real people who lose their temper when provoked.

Houseful of Strangers
Linda Barrett
Harlequin SuperRomance
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
0373714092, $5.50

When veterinarian Dr. Eric Mitchell broke his arm, he advertised for help. Alison Truesdale applies and though he thinks she is too fragile looking he hires her. He quickly sees she has a deep sadness to her; unbeknownst to him she mourns the deaths of her spouse of fourteen years and their young son with the wisdom that surviving stinks. Initially he felt sorry for her, but soon becomes attracted to his capable assistant. She, in turn, begins to feel for the first time since the tragedy, especially with his son though he also reminds her of what she lost. However, it is a young runaway hiding from an abusive parent in Eric's barn who teaches the two adults what trouble truly is. HOUSEFUL OF STRANGERS is a delightful contemporary romance that showcases how relative problems are through the four prime characters especially the two females who have entered Eric's life. The story line is fast-paced as Alison grieves until she falls in love with her employer but feels some guilt for doing so while also recognizing that the teen has the deeper issue to confront. Fans of deep character studies will want to read Linda Barrett's fine tale of love's healing power.

The Last Cowboy Hero
Barbara McMahon
Harlequin SuperRomance
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
0373714068, $5.50

Holly Bennett left Wyoming years ago for Montana when her father kept reminding her that she was a chump for ignoring his advice. She loved Tyler Alvarez and was pregnant with his baby but miscarried due to a car accident. He dumped her without looking back. Now she comes home to run the ranch because her dad suffered a stroke. However, he refuses to allow a stupid daughter to take over so she must accommodate his anointed one Hank who seems to only want to come on to her. To her shock, Ty Alvarez owns the ranch next door as he somehow inherited the Wilson property. To her chagrin she still loves the rat who deserted her. Ty is also surprised because he loves his Holly. This time he vows as an adult he will win and keep his beloved as he knows her father conned a naive teen into leaving. THE LAST COWBOY HERO is a fine Wyoming ranch second chance at love romance starring two people who loved one another as teens and still do as adults, but do not trust the other. Though her acrimonious despot father seems over the top, the story line is fun to read as Ty realizes that what he thought was murdered still beats strongly in his heart and this time he plans to succeed.

Just One Look
Joanne Rock
Harlequin Blaze
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
0373793154, $4.75

NYPD Detective Warren Vitalis investigates the shooting at Tabitha Everhart in her apartment as he heard the telltale noise while walking his dog Buster in the West Village. However, the cop who prides himself with his objectivity is attracted to Tabitha from the first moment he sees her before interviewing her. Upon his questioning, Tabitha is stunned that she wants this cop as she vowed off men after dumping her cheating former spouse. As he works the case double time because he wants to see her and keep her safe, Warren and Tabitha fall in love. However, neither trusts this dangerous emotion having been burned in the past. Still they cannot ignore their feelings, but first a sly killer who already murdered an actor must be stopped before he harms the actress. The heated romance between the detective and the actress will cause Al Gore restless nights as it melts the polar icecap while the investigation and bodyguard subplot takes a somewhat back seat though well written. Warren and Tabitha desire one another, but neither has lost perspective as her safety comes first. Joanne Rock provides a strong Night Eyes police procedural romantic suspense

Her Secret Sons
Tina Leonard
Harlequin American
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
0373751575, $4.99

Thirteen years ago Luke McGarrett fled Tulip, Texas once he graduated high school. He never looked back though he left behind his sweetheart Pepper Forrester. However, unbeknownst to Luke he also left behind two other people as Pepper had twins. Pepper also left to study medicine. Now Pepper is back in town and everyone knows who sired her twins. The townsfolk especially his family brings Luke home to meet his offspring. Not unhappy with Pepper's decision to leave him out of raising their children, he offers her a marriage of convenience, which she accepts. However, as they fall in love again, he leaves town for an employment opportunity; Pepper feels deja vu all over again as she is once again carrying a McGarrett with Luke gone. Though the theme of learning about siring children years after they are born is overused and seems wrong as the father is not even given a choice, Tina Leonard keeps it fresh due to the antics of the Tulips Saloon crowd (see MY BABY, MY BRIDE and THE CHRISTMAS TWINS). The lead couple is a likable pairing as they find a second chance at love due to the matchmaking efforts of the Tulips; however history seems destined to repeat itself as Pepper would never want to hold back her beloved Luke when he has an opportunity. Tina Leonard provides a warm contemporary romance.

An Honorable Man
Kara Lennox
Harlequin American
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
0373751583, $4.99

In Dallas, Priscilla Garner wants to prove to the previously all male firefighting force at Station 59 that she is their equal. However, she is a bit concerned about her history with firefighter Roark Epperson as both felt the heat and lost control of everything but one another. Still that was six months ago before she joined this station; she is positive they can behave professionally together. Roark is delighted to have Priscilla back in his life even as an aloof teammate as he fell in love with her before she abruptly ended their relationship. He assumes her departure is connected to their firefighting careers, but he hopes to prove to her they can have both. His opportunity surfaces when her matchmaking mama wants to provide her an escort to a relative's wedding; she asks Roark to take her though she insists it as friends not lovers. He agrees as he believes this is the chance to prove he loves her. This is a delightful Firehouse 59 romance (see THE FAMILY RESCUE and HER PERFECT HERO) starring two likable protagonists whose firefighting careers bring them together yet keeps them apart. Priscilla's reasoning is sound as she tries to prove she can fight fires on the front lines and be more than a cook as the lone female at this station. Roark's logic is also solid as he believes she make it as a firefighter and as his lifetime beloved. Kara Lennox keeps the heat on with this charming second chance at love tale.

Demon's Delight
MaryJanice Davidson, Emma Holly, Vickie Taylor, Catherine Spangler
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0425213811, $14.00 1-800-847-5515

"Witch Way" by MaryJanice Davidson. Her heritage demands that Rhea the witch kill a member of her family's enemies Christopher though she prefers a love spell rather than a death incarnation. "Street Corners and Halos" by Catherine Spangler. Gabriel the angel and Rachel the vampire meet with him wanting to teach her that a loving life is more precious than being undead. "The Demon's Angel" by Emma Holly. Over her objection Yama research geneticist is forced to experiment on Harry the human though afterward she is elated with what she has wrought. "Angel and the Hellraiser" by Vickie Taylor. Zane is an out of control stuntman who willingly risks death until he meets Rosemary the Angel of Death who teaches him how to live and love. These are four fun "otherworldly" romances with three being paranormal fantasies and one a sci fi, but each of the entries are well written and entertaining.

All Jacked Up
Penny McCall
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0425214834, $6.99 1-800-847-5515

The big stud entered the Library of Congress with his Glock out. He informs bookworm Aubrey with a B Sullivan to move it. She argues with him until bullets fly. He pushes her down to the floor and jumps on her to keep her safe only to have her argue even more until FBI Agent Jack Mitchell says he ought to leave her with the bad guys so her mouth will kill them. To keep her safe Jack has abducted her, but he concludes she must be a wacko as her reactions are all wrong; too logical and calm as she insists he kidnaped her and he claims to have taken a bullet to save her life. As she provides first aid to his wound, Jack explains that she has information on Pablo "the Butcher" Corona, cocaine king of the hemisphere. Aubrey says she is in protective custody, but Jack says no as he is being set up inside the agency to take the fall as his peers believe he is a mole working for Corona; they want him dead just like the thugs want her dead. To survive, she must recall what she knows so they can go public making her no longer a target and proving his innocence. However, as he admires her courage, he realizes one of childhood's enduring lessons is no one messes with the librarian even a psychopathic killer will learn this life tenet. ALL JACKED UP is an amusing romantic suspense thriller starring a delightful pairing of two souls who are resourceful, do not understand mortality, and leave defeated bad guys all over the place. The chats between the Fed and the Librarian are humorous as she adapts to any scenario with aplomb. While Aubrey uses self-deprecating wit or tearing Jack's hide, fans of lighthearted romps will appreciate their fun bantering while battling to elude the Feds and to keep the Butcher from dining on either of them.

Beloved Warrior
Patricia Potter
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0425215733, $7.99 1-800-847-5515

For six years Patrick Maclean has been held prisoner on a Spanish slave ship waiting for an opportunity to escape. He finally sees the right moment and leads a successful mutiny with his plan to go straight to his Scottish clan. However, still a gentleman in spite of his horrendous mistreatment, Patrick learns two women were on board the vessel so he assumes their protection from his peers. When he learns their identities are the daughter of the ship's owner Juliana Mendoza and her maid Carmita, he wants to hand the former to the mutineers as he loathes her father for what he did to him. Still he does the right thing by both women though Juliana does not trust him. On the way to Scotland they make love and fall in love, but she is engaged to another aristocrat; to break their upcoming nuptials would prove lethal to her mother. The third Maclean early sixteenth century romance (see BELOVED STRANGER and BELOVED IMPOSTER) is a superior historical tale starring two strong characters whose love is the worst that could happen to either of them. Patrick is terrific as he cherishes the daughter of the man he loathes; Juliana is trapped in an untenable dilemma caused by her father as she loves her Patrick, but must marry someone else for the sake of her mother. Subgenre fans will gain immense pleasure from all three Maclean tales.

Night Life
Elizabeth Guest
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0425214826 1-800-847-5515

He was a revered pharaoh, but was betrayed by those he held close to his heart. His benevolent reign and his life ended in assassination. Millennia pass; Adrian King, that former ruler of the Ancient Egypt, has returned to life, if one can call being a vampire living as a ritual brought him back from the dead. He struggles to contain his desire to become a blood drinker even as his present kingdom is vastly different from the Nile Empire he ruled over as instead he owns the Royal Palace Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. Egyptologist Christine Day is stunned with how authentic to the minute detail the Royal Palace emulates an Ancient Egypt palace. Adrian notices her and realizes she is the Beautiful One haunting his recent dreams. He desires her and feels obligated to tell the woman he believes is his soulmate the truth about his previous life. However, those who once killed Adrian the Pharaoh are also awake with an obsession to assassinate him again. NIGHT LIFE is a superb second chance at life vampiric romance starring two wonderful protagonists who readers will adore and root for as they battle some evil adversaries. The story line is action-packed with the historical tidbits interwoven into the plot so cleverly and diligently that the audience will believe Adrian was indeed once a pharaoh. The irony of the come down from a major empire to ruling a Vegas hotel aside, fans of the sub-genre will appreciate this fine paranormal romantic suspense though the vampire elements seem less critical to Elizabeth Guest's fine tale than most of the sub-genre entries.

Unholy Grail
D.L. Wilson
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0425214788, $7.99 1-800-847-5515

Out of the blue, Father Joseph Romano gets a phone call from a man asking him to meet him at a certain time and place to discuss the Gospel of James, which describes what happened at the crucifixion. When the priest arrives at the Grand Central Station locale, a shot is fired at a woman holding a box. Someone tried to kill Brittany Hamar who is wring a book The Jesus Fraud that questions the basic tents of Christianity. Britt received the same call that Joseph did. Soon two priests including one that is a friend of Joseph dies. Joseph wants to know what Britt is working on that is so controversial that someone wanted her dead and how that ties to the dead priests. Britt tells him about a covert group the RexDeus and their inner circle Le Serpent Rouge dedicated to preserving the bloodline of Christ and Mary Magdalene. Britt has in her possession a piece of the Gospel of James that claims Mary was pregnant with Jesus' offspring. Joseph and Britt team up moving across Europe in a quest for the UNHOLY GRAIL believing the Lea Serpent Rouge has sent their minion after them. In the tradition of the Da Vinci Code, D.L. Wilson provides an exciting thought provoking religious thriller that will astonish readers with the amount of historical facts and dogma interwoven into the storyline without slowing down the action-packed story line. The two protagonists undertake the quest to quell their doubts, but find much more than they anticipated. Although the premise is over the top, the audience will appreciate this action adventure thriller.

Real Vampires Have Curves
Gerry Bartlett
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0425213773, $14.00 1-800-847-5515

When Scot-Angus Jeremiah "Jeremy Blade" Campbell III took a pint of blood from Gloriana Eloisa "Glory" St. Clair, he converted her into what he is, a vampire. However, though lovers or fighters more or less over the past couple of centuries since her conversion, she has never forgiven him for changing her when she was bloated. Au contraire to the Stoker mythos, the shape you were in when changed is your eternal shape. So instead of model thin, Glory is "full-figured". Successful entrepreneur Glory travels to be part of Vintage Vamp's Emporium. However, Blade worries about her as a lethal slayer using modern technology and self financed is hunting down vampires. Since Glory never took the time to explore her vampiric powers, Blade turns alpha male and demands she move in to his coffin digs so he can keep her safe. Glory likes the idea of sharing his coffin, but decides to protect herself as she plans to hunt the hunter as no one no matter how dangerous they may be will keep her from the latest fashion as offered at the Vintage Vamp's Emporium. REAL VAMPIRES HAVE CURVES and much more as fans of paranormal chick lit will want to take a bite out of Gerry Bartlett's amusing tale. The cast makes the story as Glory and Blade insure the audience believes that vampires are everywhere from the all night mini mart to the neighborhood bartender. Glory is terrific as she holds the amusing story line together with her fashion sense overriding her common sense; whereas readers will appreciate her antics, Blade figuratively is ready to kill her. This is a fun time for the subgenre reader.

Simmer Down
Jessica Conant-Park, Susan Conant
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0425213854, $22.95 1-800-847-5515

This Christmas Chloe Carter believes life is great as she has a terrific loving boyfriend, Josh Driscoll, who is also a gourmet chef. When they met he was between jobs so she was his only "customer" in the kitchen and in bed. However, Josh has accepted the executive chef position at Simmer, a restaurant opening on New Year 's Eve in downtown Boston's posh Newbury Street so is quite busy with hiring and the menu. However, to showcase their food in advance, Simmer has provided some of their items at the Food for Thought fundraiser. Things are defiantly looking good until someone kills Oliver Kipper of the Full Moon Group using Josh's state of the art Robocoupe food processor as a murder weapon. The publicity helps make the new restaurant a success, but Chloe realizes the notoriety in the long run is not good so she begins to draw up a list of suspects starting with Josh's ex girlfriends that could fill up Fenway Park. This is a fun "Gourmet Girl" mystery as a STEAMED Chloe seeks a motive and opportunity to narrow down her list; however, motives and opportunity are abundant so she has a standing room only horde to inquire about. Readers will enjoy the heroine's escapades as she risks her life to uncover the identity of a killer. The mother-daughter author team provides the audience with a delicious chick lit cozy filled with lists, recipes and asides as Chloe takes on Beantown.

Catching Genius
Kristy Kiernan
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0425214354, $14.00 1-800-847-5515

Raised in affluence in Florida, Estella and Connie Sykes may be sisters, but are also best friends. That is until Estella, two years older than Connie, catches the dreaded "eyecue", whatever that is. Fearing for her beloved normal sibling, Estella drifts away from Connie, hurting her sister who does not understand why. Estella is a math prodigy while Connie is a norm. Now years later, the two sisters still not close, return to their Gulf Coast home to help their mom sell the family house. As they work on what to toss, what to give away, what to sell, and what to keep, their past as precocious partners and the subsequent split when they were seven and five respectively surfaces forcing both especially the elder to reveal family truths. Alternating perspective, CATCHING GENIUS is a delightful look at how childhood relationships make the adults. Out of innocence and a real concern for her younger sister, Estella finds the road to hell paved with her good intentions. Though the Connie sections seem more insightful as the audience feels her decades old still lingering hurt while not quite understanding how Estella coped over the years, readers will appreciate Kristy Kiernan's poignant look at the changing relationship between two sisters.

Kathleen Dante
Berkley Heat
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0425214915, $14.00 1-800-847-5515

Dillon Gavin misses his Black Ops partner John "Lantis" Atlantis who left the field two years ago and is now married to his "heart sister" a pregnant Keira (see ENTANGLED). He is happy for both of them and even played matchmaker between them. Currently Dillon is on an enforced official month of R&R so he goes to the Walson Galleries to see the Jordan Kane exhibit as he is a big collector of her psyprints. When Dillon and Jordan meet, the attraction is ignitable, but though he wants to pursue it, she refuses as he scares her and her clairvoyance makes her wonder if he is a killer as she envisions a murder when she touches his gloves. He is surprised to learn she is blind as she sees better than most people with 20-20 vision and is jealous of her muse Timothy. Dillon begins his month long courtship with orchids and a mano a mano with Timothy her cat. However, as they see one another, she fears she has fallen in love with a killer while he finds the field no longer appealing, but first someone is trying to kill his beloved Jordan and she thinks it might be Dillon. Fans of erotic romantic suspense will enjoy this enticing thriller starring likable protagonists though the audience will think of Johnny Cochran's "if the glove don't fit acquit". The story line is fast-paced as the hero wants to become the new muse of his beloved while also keeping her safe from an unknown adversary whose motive surfaces late; his dilemma is that Jordan thinks he is her killer. Kathleen Dante provides a stupendous sequel as it is Dillon's turn to come out of the cold into the heat of love.

Naughti Boy
Lora Leigh
Berkley Heat
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0425214133, $14.00 1-800-847-5515

Rowdy Mackay left his old Kentucky home to join the marines to escape the seductive lure of Kelly Benton as he knew she was too young though he wanted her; he even re-upped because of her though he always asked about her as she owns his fantasies and dreams. Now he is a veteran returning home as a civilian with the objective to make Kelly his. However, Kelly is not the same precious happy person as some unknown adversary assaulted her and was probably going to rape her, but his attack was interrupted. The villain was never caught, but she believes her stalker remains nearby watching and waiting. Rowdy persuades her that they must draw out her assailant if he is to be caught. His plan is for her to participate in sexual games with him and his cousins, but once she acquiesces he does not want to share the woman he loves with anyone even blood relatives. Though some readers will question the use of sex especially a menage de quatre to capture a stalker, this is an interesting erotic romantic suspense thriller with the emphasis on the erotica. Kelly is a likable realistic protagonist whose zest for life and Rowdy has been damaged by the attack though her agreeing to having sex with her beloved seems genuine; adding his two cousins seems more a stretch as that does not fit her character before and after the assault. Still fans of the subgenre will enjoy the exploits of NAUGHTI BOY (mostly in bed) as he makes love to his dream woman which keeps her relatively safe as that is the preponderance of the story line.

Tutu Deadly
Natalie M. Roberts
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0425214869, $6.99 1-800-847-5515

Who would ever believe that providing ballet lessons to children could be hazardous to one's heath? One person who would believe that is Jenny T. Partridge who owns a dance studio in Ogden, Utah. She struggles with the demands of "psycho moms" who order her to give the best parts in her annual recital of the Nutcracker to their offspring. Detective Tate Wilson takes Jenny to the station for questioning in the murder of a mother of one of her students since the two women had a public argument witnessed by the dance pupils. Jenny swears she never delivered the arsenic laced cookie dough to Sandra Epstein. In fact she avows that another psycho mother Emma Anderson was to deliver the dough to her, but the woman and her daughter have conveniently vanished; so has Sandra's daughter. Jenny is attacked and shot at while her studio is bombed yet she insists to a bewildered Tate she has no idea why someone wants her dead or for that matter is killing the psycho mom clients. This is one of the more amusing cases this reviewer has read due to the kvetching of the heroine as she deals with one crisis after another because she has the experience of dealing with things worse than bombs: psycho moms. The characters especially the leads are refreshing and unique as Tate is not sure whether to handcuff Jenny and arrest her or handcuff Jenny because the heat is on. Albeit a police procedural, amateur sleuth fans will want to kick off their heels and dance with TUTU DEADLY.

The Matchbreaker
Chris Manby
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
042521379X, $14.00 1-800-847-5515

In London, twenty-something Lindsey Parker detests her beloved affluent father's fifth fiancee (with one marriage to her late mom) Karen as she believes the physical trainer has no taste. She treats her dad's intended with scorn and derision while plotting to end this engagement the way three others ended. Lindsey has her opportunity when she announces to her father and his fiancee that she will throw a hen night for her future stepmom. A hesitant Karen, knowing how Lindsey feels about her, reluctantly agrees at the urging of her future spouse. Lindsey starts the hen trek by slipping a special gift inside of Karen's bag, but the moron left it behind in a taxi. They fly to Ibiza where Lindsey's best friend during her school days Gemma hosts them on her family yacht Afsaneh. However, even Gemma feels Lindsey went to far when she pushed Karen into the water as the boat drove away. Lindsey gets what she wants when Karen breaks off with her dad, but soon learns a lesson on how much love a heart can contain when she falls in love with apparently fickle Karen's new "lover", but it is too late for her depressed dad. THE MATCHBREAKER is an interesting chick lit family drama starring a young woman who believes no female is good enough for her dad as he has been mother, father, and grandparent to her. The story line focuses on Lindsey whose actions impact the well being of others. Though the lead protagonist is unlikable with her scorn of others (not just Karen) in the audience's face, Chris Manby provides a fascinating relationship tale as no person seemingly can meet the standard set by her father when he raised her with love.

Spanish Dagger
Susan Wittig Albert
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0425213943, $23.95 1-800-847-5515

Between running her shop Thymes and Seasons, Thyme Cottage, and her partnering with Ruby Wilcox for Thyme for Tea and Party Thyme, China Bayles has no thyme make that time for herself. She is there for her friend Ruby who just broke up with her lover Collin, owner of an environmental friendly store. She doesn't tell Ruby that he's an undercover cop who got busted when he told a two level dealer that he was about to be busted. She is also adjusting to the fact that she has a half-brother, Miles Danforth who believes his and China's father was murdered in what was supposed to be an accidental car crash. China's husband, now a private investigator, takes the case and heads out of town to do some investigating. When she finally gets a moment to breathe, she and a friend go to railroad tracks to pick yucca leaves but find the knifed body of Collin. Ruby is in Fredericksburg trying to get her senile mother into an assisted loving facility and asks China to investigate. With key in hand China goes into Collin's store where she gets the numbers of Lucita who called Collin on unexplained business. When China goes to the nursery where Lucita works, she finds Lucita's dead body with her throat cut. Something rotten is going on in Pecan Springs, Texas and China vows to stop it with the help of a drug sniffing rottweiler. Susan Wittig Albert has written another excellent China Bayles mystery that is filled danger, action and intrigue. The mysterious stranger who is in town is either the cause or the one who intends to stop it. However he has never dealt with the heroine or Smart Cookie aka the Chief of Police. Readers will enjoy learning about China's past family life and hope that the answer about her father will be found in the next book in this delightful series.

Blood Moon
Dawn Thompson
Love Spell
c/o Dorchester Publishing Company
200 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016
0505526808, $6.99 1-800-481-9191

In 1811 England Jon Hyde-White knew he was changed by Sebastian's bite when he awakened naked in the field. However he learned how much he changed when his horse wants to toss him off its back. Each night he craves the blood, but so far he has been somewhat able to avoid that final drink that would complete the metamorphous from an earls' spare to vampire though he covets biting the neck of Cassandra Thorpe, who also struggles to prevent Sebastian's bite from turning her. Their only glimmer of hope lies in an ancient ritual done under the BLOOD MOON in Moldavia's Carpathian Mountains. As they race to salvation, Sebastian pursues wanting them either dead or undead. However, fortune is with them when Milosh the Gypsy takes them under his wings because he knows the BLOOD MOON ritual can leave someone partial without the thirst. This is a terrific vampire romance made fresh by the concepts of the BLOOD MOON and the "partials". The story line is fast-paced with the lead couple struggling for control while evil chases after them and good tries to protect them. Sub-genre readers will appreciate this exhilarating biter and look forward to more stories involving the "partials" especially the mysterious Milosh.

Calamity Jayne Goes to College
Kathleen Bacus
Love Spell
c/o Dorchester Publishing Company
200 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016
0505527014, $6.99 1-800-481-9191

Gazette editor Stan Rodgers offers cub reporter Tressa "Calamity" Jayne Turner a raise if she took college level journalism courses in which the newspaper would split the cost down the middle with her. Seeing a chance to make some extra money, Tressa enrolls at Carson College in nearby Des Moines. Though this is Tressa's fourth attempt at higher learning, she still assumes she can snooze through her six credits, Basic Reporting Principles and Investigative Journalism, as she is the ace cub reporter at the Gazette; of course she is the only cub reporter on staff. Four proves not the charm for Tressa as she is distracted by the hunks in her life especially Ranger Rick, the professor, her editor, and a guy named Joe; and of course Gram and finally to a lesser degree her job. However, what truly catches her attention is when she realizes the campus is hot bed of criminal activity perpetrated by a serial killer providing lessons in life and death. Unable to mind her business, Tressa investigates seeking an A with the case though her efforts may lead to her dropping out of school as the culprit plans to teach her first hand what happens to nosy coeds. The fourth Calamity chick lit whodunit is once again a lighthearted fun investigative tale as CJ bounces from one mistake to another while working to uncover the identity of the serial killer who is personally insuring no kid is left behind alive. Jayne is her usual self deprecating self as she courageously attends class, which is more dangerous to her psyche than seeking out a killer. Fans of the series will enjoy the serial dropout's latest escapades as she matches havoc for havoc against someone majoring in homicide.

Writ on Water
Melanie Jackson
Love Spell
c/o Dorchester Publishing Company
200 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016
0505527049, $6.99 1-800-481-9191

In 1998 Chloe begins having nightmares involving a privately owned cemetery in Virginia that she is supposed to take pictures of. She is not surprised by what she dreams of as she inherited the gift of sight from her grandmother, a mean spirited witch. However, Gran never bothered to teach Chloe how to interpret her visions so she feels isolated and alone. That is until the she meets the owner's son Rory Patrick as she is attracted to him and him to her although he does not trust the interloper while she wonders if he is the cause of her nasty dreams. As they fall in love in the midst of doubts, someone commits murder with the evidence targeting the Patrick clan. WRIT ON WATER is an interesting paranormal romantic suspense thriller in which the fantasy elements and to an even lesser degree the whodunit is somewhat downplayed as the dysfunctional distrusting relationship between the lead pair is the focus of the plot. The story line focuses on Chloe and Rory, whose eccentric differences makes for a fine tale as neither trusts one another or the attraction and ultimately love they feel for each other. Readers will enjoy Melanie Jackson's fine tale of love between doubters.

Karen Robards
G. P. Putnam's Sons
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0399154167, $24.95 1-800-847-5515

Katherine Lawrence feels as if she is in the middle of a draconian nightmare as thugs, spooks or terrorists break into the house where she is living that belongs to her lover Ed Barnes, the deputy director of operations for the CIA. They tie her and her friend Lisa up and they torture Katherine trying to get her to tell them where the safe in the house is. She never knew Ed has a safe but they don't believe her but Katherine manages to get her mouth free of the tape so she can scream. Her next door neighbor Don scares them off and takes her to the hospital where she feels like she knew him in another life. She also thinks she is losing her mind because when she looks in the mirror it isn't the face she remembers and when she takes a shower it isn't the body she remembers. For some reason she is afraid of Ed and with the help of Dan she loses the two agents he has guarding her. Ed soon picks up her track and when he finally gets his hands on her she feels she like she is living in the middle of a Hitchcock movie. Readers will love OBSESSION, a stunning and powerful tour de force thriller. Katherine doesn't know what is real and what is a figment of her imagination but she has clues that all is not right. Her rings are loose, her clothes are not comfortable and the tiles where her head bashed the kitchen floor seem to have shrunk. Readers will eagerly wait to find out what is happened to the vulnerable and frightened Katherine. Karen Robards proves once again she is a stupendous storyteller.

The Savage Garden
Mark Mills
G. P. Putnam's Sons
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0399153535, $24.95 1-800-847-5515

In 1958 at Cambridge University, Professor Leonard tears into wastrel student Adam Banting for spending more time with the ladies than on his thesis, which the student has no subject. Leonard assigns him a summer project to write a paper on a sixteenth century Tuscany garden dedicated to the then owner's late wife Signora Docci. Adam agrees that art and nature merge into a different aesthetic third type of entity. The Professor finishes the arrangement with his long time friend ailing septuagenarian Signora Francesca Docci. Adam leaves soon after final exams for Tuscany. He finds his hostess a combination of crusty charm, but it is the garden that hooks him with its myriad of neoclassical statues, odd grottoes and cul de sacs, and several ponds and brooks. The etchings fascinate him most as Adam begins to put together the writings into a cohesive message that implies Signor Docci killed his wife. Adam also starts to wonder if history repeated itself during WWII when his hostess' son was allegedly killed by the Nazis on the villa's third floor which remains just the way it was in the early 1940s. Finally he ponders over the strangest most complex mystery of all - why Signora Docci wanted a student to study her garden? This "academic" mystery will hook the audience once Adam meets his hostess and never slows down as the hero becomes interested in more than just a beautiful garden when he begins to piece together the etchings throughout the garden that imply motive, means and opportunity of a spousal homicide. The story line is driven by the relationship between Adam and the elderly Francesca as he feels she is a master puppeteer and he is dangling off her ropes. Fans will appreciate this deep cerebral amateur sleuth that contains two historical mysteries inside a cleverly devised "plot".

The Sun Over Breda
Arturo Perez-Reverte
G. P. Putnam's Sons
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0399153837, $24.95 1-800-847-5515

The war between Spain and Holland has been going on for eighty years including a twelve year truce. Spain considers Holland as part of its empire, but the Calvinist Dutch want their freedom from Catholic Spain. Part of the Spanish army including Captain Alatriste is traveling to take Oudkerk, needs to be in Spain's territory because the rebels supply Breda with mercenaries and supplies needed to survive the siege. Dutch, English, and French troops battle the Italian and Spanish soldiers in deadly combat. Blood flows on both sides, but the Dutch and their allies prevail so that some rations reach the beleaguered townsfolk. Alatriste becomes the de facto leader of the squadron; a cynic who sees the truth about the" glory " of war yet passionately defends Spain's honor. His "apprentice" fifteen year old Inigo Bablbo worships him though he tries to temper the teen's enthusiasm for war. Still, Alatriste is on the front lines of breaking of the siege at the fortified town of Breda. He knows at all times this could be his last moment of life. Told in the first person by Inigo, readers obtain a deep look at a soldier's life in the early seventeenth century. The lead character understands that soldiering means kill or be killed. Dying is the only way of life in battle as death maiming and gore are the outputs of war. He hopes to purvey that message to the hero worshiping Inigo. THE SUN OVER BREDA is a fabulous historical thriller with a message that remains powerful even today.

Fresh Disasters
Stuart Woods
G. P. Putnam's Sons
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0399154108, $25.95 1-800-847-5515

Attorney Stone Barrington is a counsel for the prestigious law firm of Woodman and Weld which means he takes the cases the firm doesn't want to dirty their hands with. He is eating at Elaine's with his old partner police detective Dino Bacchetti and Bill Eggers, the managing partner of Woodman and Weld. Two thugs walk into the restaurant and take small time crook Herbie Fisher outside to beat him up for failing to pay his bookie. When Dino breaks the fight up and Herbie comes back, he tells Stone that his bookie is owned by mafia chieftain Carmine Dattila. He wants to sue Carmine for bodily injury but Stone tells him to forget it. A tipsy Bill says he will take the case but the next morning he calls Stone and tells him the firm wants Stone to take Carmine to civil court because the attorneys will get good press without taking any risks. Herbie keeps disappearing and Carmine's goon's kidnap him, beat him up and are given orders by Carmine to kill him slowly. Herbie keeps escaping the goons and Stone but there is no escaping an enraged mafia boss who wants vengeance or is there? There is a secondary sub-plot with a stalker who is out to kill Stone because he is sleeping with the object of his affection. It is fun watching the hero care about the women in his life while dealing with an out of control homicidal stalker. A fast paced action plot and Stone's witty repartee make FRESH DISASTERS a very well written and entertaining crime caper.

The River Knows
Amanda Quick
G. P. Putnam's Sons
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0399154175, $24.95 1-800-847-5515

Anthony Stalbridge is highly placed in society even though his family is considered very eccentric. At present his image is tarnished because his fiancee committed suicide and there are rumors that he was breaking off their engagement. Although Anthony is sure she was murdered, he wants to find the killer in the hopes that it was nothing he did or didn't do that caused her demise. He believes Edwin Hastings had something to do with her death and he tries to break into the man's bedroom safe. Coming out of his Hasting's bedroom is Louisa Bryce who is looking into Hastings investment in a brothel. They meet up with each other and he grabs and kisses her because he hears a guard coming. After they leave, they talk about why they are interested in the same man. Louisa wants to write a story about him and Anthony wants to prove he murdered his fiancee. Later that night he breaks into the safe and finds his fiancee's necklace there as well as proof that the man is an investor in the brothel. As Louisa and Anthony work together to bring Hastings down, they fall in love but she has a dark secret that she hides from everyone and fears when she tells Anthony he will turn from her in disgust. Taking place in the late Victorian era, THE RIVER KNOWS is a fantastic romantic thriller. Like any Amanda Quick novel, this book is a charmer due to the realistic characters who don't quite fit the society mold. Their amusing antics will have readers chuckling out loud while the support cast moves the plot along quite subtly in a tantalizing tale filled with plenty of action and quite a few surprises.

Lost Echoes
Joe Lansdale
Vintage Books
c/o Random House
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
0307278174, $13.95 1-800-726-0600

Since childhood the slightest everyday noise can push Harry Wilkes into hell as he has been mentally tortured by his unique ability to envision murdered corpses. His skill allows him to look back at violence as he can sort of see and hear ghosts. Unable to live a normal life and depressed by the brutality he has witnessed, but cannot do anything about as the victim is dead, Harry turns to alcohol to numb the pain by becoming drunk. Harry meets another drunk, former martial arts teacher Tad. They agree to help one another turn sober while also controlling the visions. However, he soon has a request to use the "gift" from a childhood friend who knows what Harry can do. Reluctantly Harry agrees to find out what happened to Kayla's father; that is learn the truth if the death was caused by a brutal killer. This is a superb thriller that works on several levels because Harry's skill seems as real as his antipathy towards it makes him so human. The story line starts off by introducing the audience to Harry as he turns to alcohol to numb the visions, but quickly becomes a thriller when Kayla a cop persuades a reluctant Harry to get back into the saddle and help her. Joe Lansdale provides a strong mystery in which the paranormal comes across as normal.

Deadly Game
Christine Feehan
Jove Books
c/o The Berkley Publishing Group
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0515142611, $7.99 1-800-847-5515

Ghostwalker Jack Norton remains euphoric that he has found his soulmate Briony Jenkins (see CONSPIRACY GAME). However, as exhilarated Jack is his brother Ken believes he too may have his "programmed" beloved Mari, Briony's twin sister. However, to meet "his woman" for the first time is not quite simply having your brother and his woman introduce you, as he has been a "guest" of Insane Dr. Whitney and his training indoctrination. Ken plans to rescue his soul mate from the odious Whitney. However, though he succeeds she refuses to ignore her "sisters" in bondage though Mari is elated that her twin lives and is concerned that she desires her newest "jailer" Ken. This is not the Ken Norton of the Ali broken jaw fight or his son the Cowboys' former linebacker. Instead he is the latest GhostWalker who is psychically enhanced yet emotionally is damaged but believes his beloved will save his soul. In some ways Mari, who is no Barbie doll, is the more fascinating character as readers met up front and personal firecracker Ken in the previous thriller. Together they make an attractive powerful pairing as Christine Feehan heats up the Game with this terrific deadly conspiracy.

Just Like Heaven
Barbara Bretton
c/o The Berkley Publishing Group
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
051514262X, $7.99 1-800-847-5515

In Princeton, New Jersey fortyish antiques store owner Kate French suddenly feels immense chest pains and collapses in a parking lot. She lies on the ground where any passerby can see her red thong underwear, an item that the normally straight-laced single mom of an adult daughter would never be caught dead wearing. A Deadhead wearing a Grateful Dead T-shirt administers CPR saving her life until the ambulance arrives to take her to the hospital. Kate wants to thank her hero while her hero Mark Kerry wants to insure she is okay especially since his thoughts linger on the red thong though he knows how inappropriate that is. When Mark and Kate meet sparks fly although neither of the forty something pair expected to fall in love. This is an exhilarating contemporary romance that is much deeper than the brief description above as Barbara Bretton explores multiple relationships, besides that of the lead couple. The cast drives the terrific story line as the protagonists and the secondary players seem so filled with life. Subgenre fans will want to read this delightful Jersey romance enhanced by Kate's daughter who wants the best for her mom, but fears being left out in the cold if that becomes Mark.

The Best of the Best: 20 Years of the Best Short Science Fiction Novels, Volume 2
Edited by Gardner Dozois
St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
0312363419, $40.00 1-888-330-8477

Following up on the first edition of the Best of the Best (short story oriented), Gardner Dozois fills the second collection with classic novellas, starting with the fantastic "Sailing to Byzantium" by Silverberg. The entries speak for themselves as sci fi fans will recognize most if not all the contributions and many will have been read previously. The entries are Walter Jon Williams' "Surfacing", Joe Haldeman's "The Hemingway Hoax", James Patrick Kelly's "Mr. Boy", Nancy Kress's "Beggars in Spain", Michael Swanwick's "Griffin's Egg", Frederik Pohl's "Outnumbering the Dead", Ursula K. Le Guin's "Forgiveness Day", Maureen F. McHugh's "The Cost to Be Wise", Greg Egan's "Oceanic", Ian McDonald's "Tendeleo's Story", Ian R. MacLeod's "New Light on the Drake Equation", and Alastair Reynolds's "Turquoise Days",. The stories run the gamut of the genre with a few crossing into fantasy, but what they share are strong story lines with believable characters bringing to life questions of humanity's place in the universe. The only question for readers is to pay or not to pay in light of having read most before as this compilation is top rate.

One with the Night
Susan Squires
St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
0312941021, $6.99 1-888-330-8477

In 1821 obstetrician and research scientist Dr. James Blundell takes his daughter Jane to Urquhart Valley, Scotland where he continues his work to find a cure for vampirism, a disease that his offspring suffers from having been infected by a blood sample in his laboratory. When a monster attacks the Blundells, vampire Callan Kilkenny comes to their rescue. Afterward, he asks James if he has found the cure, but the scientist explains he can kill the parasite, but has not found a way to save the human host too. Jane helps Callan, injured in his recent fight to the death with the monster, inside their home. Though she has told her father almost everything about her needs including sipping blood like a lady from a cup, she hides from him her exponentially craving for sex that she has barely controlled until now. She hungers for Callan and he burns for her. As they fall in love, others having read of James' research. They have come from as far way as Marrakech to steal his "elixir" with avaricious plans to use expendable vampiric pawns to gain even more deadly power. Few writers combine a sensual romance within a supernatural thriller as well as Susan Squires consistently does. Her latest is a terrific Regency vampire romantic suspense starring two courageous heroes battling one hell of a meanie. The story line grips the audience from the opening birthing to the final confrontation between good and evil as sub-genre fans will wonder who will prove triumphant.

Sinful Between the Sheets
Barbara Pierce
St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
0312348223, $6.99 1-888-330-8477

In 1809 in London when the Duke of Solitea dies in a young woman's bedchamber, his heir Fayne Carlisle mourns the loss of his sire and his own womanizing hedonistic freedom as now he has responsibilities. However, first Fayne needs to know whether the legendary Solitea Curse struck or something more mundane like the lady poisoning his father. He plans to find out starting with meeting Lady Kilby Fitchwolf. Still in mourning with the shocking deaths of her parents in a yachting accident almost two years ago and only in London at the insistence of a family friend not wanting her left alone any longer with her violent half-brother Archer, Kilby swears she is innocent though she also recognizes the compromised situation the late Duke left her in when he died in her chamber. Fayne wants her and assumes she is an experienced woman, but finds strange mixed signals of desire and naive innocence from her. As she tries to learn the truth re the death of her parents and gain custody of her still hurting preadolescent sister "Gypsy" from Archer and Fayne likewise wants to know what happened to his father, they fall in love, but a deadly "matchmaker" lurks in the background ready to kill to keep them to keep their identity secret. SINFUL BETWEEN THE SHEETS, the sequel to the charming WICKED UNDER THE COVERS (the tale of Fayne's sister), is a fantastic Regency amateur sleuth romantic suspense. The changing relationship between the lead couple and three strong mysteries (need to read the novel to learn the third mystery) make for a superb historical that will elate the audience. Sub-genre fans who have no read Barbara Pierce is missing out on one of the best Regency authors today.

The Grave Tattoo
Val McDermid
St. Martin's
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
0312339216, $24.95 1-888-330-8477

Growing up in Fellhead in the English Lake Country area, Jane Gresham has heard numerous times the story of Fletcher Christian escaping the massacre at Pitcairn Island and returning to England where his schoolmate William Wordsworth gave him shelter. Further word of mouth through the generations is that Wordsworth wrote an epic poem re the adventures that the mutineer related to him, but this alleged work was either hidden or lost. Everything suddenly changes when a corpse dated from the first half of the nineteenth century is uncovered in a nearby peat bog. The townsfolk immediately claim Fletcher has been found. Jane, a Wordsworth academic, sees an opportunity to determine whether the great poet ever did a take on Bounty mutiny and if true she wants to find the poem. Unbeknownst to the scholar is that her unprincipled former boyfriend and her acrimonious jealous brother amongst others seek the poem for personal gain with one willing to kill to succeed. This is a fascinating mystery with present day "detectives" seeking a potential lost nineteenth century masterpiece. The switch back and forth between the two centuries is smooth and gripping as Val McDermid shows her talent at its best. Though the killer seems ironically obvious to readers, fans who appreciate something a bit different will want to read this wonderful literary sleuthing thriller.

Thistle and Twigg
Mary Saums
St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
0312360630, $23.95 1-888-330-8477

As a career military spouse, Jane Thistle has moved many times over the years. However when her husband Army Colonel John Bradford Thistle died, the widow, used to doing the packing and overseeing the move, effortlessly settles in Tullulah, Alabama though she grieves her loss. She selected Tullulah twenty years ago when she was driving by herself from Florida to his new post in the Midwest and during the drive she left the Interstate and found the town. In Tullulah, Jane meets widow Phoebe Twigg, who has been a towner all her life. In spite of the international and military outlook of Jane vs. the local sheltered perspective of Phoebe, the two become close friends. The pals find a murdered corpse in a firing range in the woods while someone harasses Jane's neighbor Cal Prewitt, who is arrested for the homicide. An unknown enemy firebombs Phoebe's kitchen and strange events are occurring in Jane's new home. Used to taking charge and having done some quiet work for her late husband, Jane persuades Phoebe that they must depend on no one but themselves as they investigate who is behind the crime serge in Tullulah. THISTLE AND TWIGG is an amusing whodunit with a sort of Home Alone feel to it as the widows battle the killers. The story line is fast-paced, quite humorous and insures the audience knows the two lead female friends up close so that when they try to outwit their adversaries, they (and the consequently the plot) seems genuine. Fans of amateur sleuth tales will want to read Mary Saums' delightful cat and mouse game reminiscent of Tom and Jerry.

Chosen Prey
Cheyenne McCray
St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
0312937628, $6.99 1-888-330-8477

Lyra Collins escaped Neal Barker, the self proclaimed Prophet leader of the Temple of Light cult five years ago; she made a low key life for herself as an artist in Bisbee, Arizona. When former cop Dare Lancaster comes to her home and mentions Neal, she panics and shoots with pepper spray in his eyes. She has to flee, but it is too late as the People followed Dare to her and have come for her to mate with their Prophet so that the new Messiah can be born. Dare realizing nothing seems quite right so he intervenes and rescues Lyra from the mess he inadvertently created. The People will never stop their pursuit of Lyra; for daring to interfere Dare will be sacrificed once they are caught. They have everything going as they have money, power, influence, her mother, and God on their side. The trapped rats have nothing except love. When I read I Cheyenne McCray's thriller I think of the James Bond song from the Spy Who Loved Me as "Nobody Does it Better". The story line is action packed from the first sentence when the beleaguered heroine realizes "They found her" and never slows down as a fanatical believer and his followers give chase in Arizona and Oregon. Fans of romantic suspense could not choose anyone superior than this author as her latest as usual is a winner.

The Bad Quarto
Jill Paton Walsh
St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
0312354096, $23.95 1-888-330-8477

Imogen Quy serves as an effective college nurse at St. Agatha's College, Cambridge University. However, her serene academic world is shook just as she is about to bike home for the evening. A stunned student calls for her assistance. She finds college fellow John Talentire dying with her realizing it is too late for him as blood pours everywhere. Apparently following what the locals dub Harding's Folly from a previous human dive, John fell off the side of a tower that he was climbing. At a BAD QUARTO production of Hamlet, the Kyd Society players imply that Talentire, a Shakespearean researcher was murdered when his rope was loosened. Unable to neither mind her business nor forget the sight of all the blood as John died, Imogen quietly makes inquiries to what has been officially considered a tragic foolish accident only to find the Shakespearean scholars being Lady Macbeth stock that has the Bard turning over in his grave. Using the shortened Hamlet as a reason to investigate, Jill Paton Walsh provides the audience with a wonderful amateur sleuth academic whodunit. The scholars are quite a crew with Imogen realizing any of them seem capable of unethical behavior yet pondering who would kill to do so as she is convinced someone murdered Talentire. Imogen keeps the tale focused as a magnificent central character whose investigation provides a spotlight on the backstabbing rival fellows. (See DEBTS OF DISHONOR).

Irresistible You
Francis Ray
St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
0312939744, $6.99 1-888-330-8477

In Santa Fe Ruth Grayson is more stubborn than President Bush as she begins in full swing her latest matchmaking campaign after completing another successful run with her son restaurateur Brandon (see DREAMING FO YOU). This time the focus is to find a wife for her offspring Pierce. However, Pierce knows his mom's plan and eludes her most dangerous lures. Thus when she sends him to pick up Broadway actress Sabre Raineau at the airport, he assumes she is the latest ploy though she allegedly is in town helping Ruth with a university production. However, Sabre has an agenda of her own that includes Pierce, just not as a spouse let alone a lover. Her goal is Hollywood and more Broadway, but he may be just the person to help her with her father. As each insists I'm not in love, neither can ignore the attraction. This is a lighthearted fun Grayson contemporary romance starring two likable protagonists in denial as they slowly fall in love. The story line is fun with General Ruth working her campaign while Pierce and Sabre retreat from their attraction. Fans will enjoy this fine New Mexico enchantment as mama does it again (see YOU AND NO OTHER).

We'll Never Tell
Kayla Perrin
St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
0312340168, $13.95 1-888-330-8477

At the University of Buffalo Alpha Sigma Pi pledge director Phoebe Matthews is irate when she sees Shandra James flirting with her man at a dance. She decides to teach the pledge to respect the territory of her sorority sisters. Using the help of her sisters, she enlists the aid of two of her sorority sisters, Camille and Miranda. They humiliate Shandra. However, not long after Phoebe fixed the problem, Shandra vanishes. When her corpse is found, the Alpha Sigma Pi sisters wonder if perhaps the jealous Phoebe went too far. Shandra knows she is the prime suspect so she begins investigating before the cops break the "stories" of her two best friends. This is an interesting college amateur sleuth thriller due to the desperation of Phoebe whose avenging prank proves successful, but now lingers as proof of a motive to kill her rival in a crime of passion. The heroine's actions ring true from her jealous vengeance to her efforts to uncover the real killer before she is arraigned; her panicky inquiries are based on knowing she must find the culprit or face the consequences for an act she did not commit. Kayla Perrin provides a delightful whodunit enhanced by the question how far loyalty goes.

Damsels In Distress
Joan Hess
St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
0312315015, $24.95 1-888-330-8477

With her fiance Peter, a Farberville, Arkansas police lieutenant out of town, Claire Malloy, the owner of the only bookstore in town, anticipates a quiet period with no dead bodies to trip over. Alas, her quiet time comes to an end when a Renaissance Fair comes to town. Edward Cobbinwood, known as Peter the Jester, asks her if they can set up a booth outside her shop to sell tickets and entertain the crowds with much of the money going to charity. Claire reluctantly agrees. Edward confides in her that he is looking for his father who lives in Farberville, but the man doesn't know he exists yet. Claire fears it could be her late husband's son, but Edward spitefully refuses to name names. She gets pulled into the lives of the local players when they start confiding in her or when she overhears conversation. When Angie, who is teaching a group of children how to dance like fairies, dies in an arson fire, Claire investigates since nobody except the children and Edward ever sees the recluse. At the fair, a player has an axe in his head. He was the richest person in the group and from her own investigation and overheard conversations, she has figured out who the killer is. Now she has to prove it. Joan Hess, author of sixteen Claire Malloy mysteries, outdoes herself in DAMSELS IN DISTRESS. The plot is wickedly funny and clever and the insider's look at what goes behind the scenes of a renaissance fair is fascinating. The group of players all have secrets to hide which leaves the readers wondering which one of them is the killer since they all have motives. This reviewer can't wait for the next book in the series.

Nefertiti: The Book of the Dead
Nick Drake
HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
0060765895, $24.95 1-800-242-7737

By Year 12 of his reign, King Akhenaten has solidified his religious reforms to eliminate the establishment that he believes is false while siphoning needed assets from the dynasty and the people. He feels the time is right to affirm the radical changes he has imposed on Egypt by declaring a great festival. However, the Pharaoh has a humongous problem that if unresolved could overturn his reform and his rule. His partner Queen Nefertiti vanished without a trace and he needs her presence as "The Perfect One" to show her support and his strength. King Akhenaten sends his most trusted advisor Ahmose to order detective Rai Rehotap to find his missing Great Royal Wife. Rai's spouse Tanefert pleads with him not to take the case as the royals can be fickle and anything involving them is dangerous. He tells her he has no choice as the ruler has given him ten days to succeed or he and his family will be executed; however Rai and Tanefert know he wants to investigate. Tanefert's prognostication proves correct as adversaries including some loyal to the royals try to kill Rai while he digs up clues that take him closer to the truth. Using the real historical mystery of the disappearance of Queen Nefertiti in the twelfth year of the reign of King Akhenaten as the base for Rai's inquiry, Nick Drake provides a terrific detective tale that brings to life over three and a half millennia ago in Ancient Egypt. The period is a Renaissance as the country flourishes while its ruler tries to reform religion and politics. Readers will taste the "Red" dry desert and the fertile "Black land around the serpentine Nile as NEFERTITI is a terrific whodunit that brings fourteenth century BC vividly alive.

Lone Creek
Neil McMahon
HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
0060792213, $24.95 1-800-242-7737

Former journalist Hugh Davoren figures he has come full circle as he works construction near his hometown of Helena, Montana. Hugh plans to keep out of trouble by just doing his day job as a laborer at the renovation of the colossal old Pettyjohn Ranch though the place has bad memories for him, bought by affluent Easterner, Wesley Balcomb and his wife Laurie. However, Laurie is fascinated by his scar on his face, which he says is nothing more than a drunken surgeon's reminder that medicine and alcohol don't mix even if the remains seem interesting. However, Davoren's efforts to stay clean fail when he finds two murdered thoroughbreds dumped in the reconstruction garbage heap. Instead of praise for doing his job, he is tossed in jail as the East Coast businessman wants him out of the way though Davoren cannot think of any motive unless the newcomer is dealing in illegal trafficking. With the help of his only on-site friend, Blackfoot Viet Nam veteran "Madbird", he makes inquires even as adversaries on both sides of the law want him dead with the most dangerous being hired killer John Doe. LONE CREEK is a fabulous thriller starring an individual trying to stay out of trouble, but becomes a magnet for danger though he does not know why. Hugh is a wonderful protagonist as for the most part he avoids people especially his employer's wife yet in spite of his efforts people come after him, literally trying to kill him. Readers will follow Davoren's efforts to survive an ordeal he does not understand in one Big Sky sitting.

The Perfect Fit: Fat-Free Dreams Just Don't Taste the Same
Louise Kean
HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
0061173088, $13.95 1-800-242-7737

Sunny Weston has believed forever that her weight correlates to her happiness. Now that she has lost ninety-eight pounds, she wonders why she remains unhappy. She ponders if it is the skin now hanging loose, that she transformed her addiction to food into an addiction to lose weight, or that she finally has the attention of her long time unrequited love Adrian though he is engaged to someone else. Her friends suddenly detest her leading Sunny to think they are jealous, but also feeling alone. Sipping coffee, Sunny hears a woman screaming hysterically. A man has abducted six years old Dougal. Sunny has finally found some good with the weight gone as she runs down the culprit and the rescues the child. Cagney helps her contain the snatcher. They meet at the police station and are attracted to one another. However, she assumes a hunk like Cagney would never have given her a first look a century of weight ago. Still she feels she should still love Adrian while Cagney makes her feel like a strong woman to admire. This is an interesting inspirational tale that stars a woman who has always believed her weight equates to happiness until she begins to realize there is more to a person that what a scale says. Sunny begins to truly change when she realizes losing the weight helped her run down the pedophile but that it is she mentally needing to change if she is to prevent her "psychological weight" from returning all she lost. Though the romantic subplot is too easy fixed, the key to this fine character study is that the heroine learns that to find inner contentment beyond the personal appearance of THE PERFECT FIT jeans is a bodacious lofty goal worth pursuing.

Shadows in the White City
Robert W. Walker
HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
0060739967, $6.99 1-800-242-7737

At the Chicago World's Fair of 1893, the Phantom of the Fair has killed seven people one of them an unborn child by garrote and then setting fire to them. Inspector Alastair Ransom has hack driver Waldo Denton arrested for the crimes. While he is recovering from a gunshot wound his nemesis police chief Nathan Kohler releases the man due to a lack of evidence. When Alastair learns of this he is livid and shadows Denton, trying to prove his guilt. He finally neutralizes Denton but he has little time to rest up on his laurels. A new predator is stalking Chicago and the media has dubbed him Leather Apron because that was what witnesses saw him wearing. This butcher saws the person when he is still alive and cuts out the organs and the fleshy part of the body. This has been going on for some time but when Senator Chapman's granddaughter is one of the victims, the police become actually involved. The senator offers Alastair, Koehler and a physician heavily in debt a fortune if they find the killer and bring him to the senator for some good old vigilante justice. Alastair is repulsed by the idea but and has no idea who the killer is but the groups of street children lead him to a horrifying and undeniable truth. Now all he has to do is locate the killer and figure out what to do with him. Robert W. Walker writes great historical mysteries that are compelling, complex and full of interesting historical data that brings the late 1800's to life for the reader. His protagonist is a product of his times and his actions should be viewed in that light though readers use twenty-first century historiographic perspective. In some ways this police procedural is a cerebral mystery because Alistair has to gather clues from frightened homeless children and a madwoman who has an interest in the killer. SHADOW IN THE WHITE CITY is a must read to fans of historical mysteries.

Boris Starling
c/o Penguin Putnam
375 Hudson Street, 3rd floor, New York, NY 10014-3657
0525949968, $25.95 1-800-847-5515

In 1952 former M15 operative, Herbert Smith works as a homicide detective with the Metropolitan Police's Murder Squad. His current case seems like a no brainer accident caused by the thick fog; a man drowned in a Kensington Gardens pond. However instead of closing the book, Smith tries to at least uncover the identity of the dead floater. He succeeds as the deceased is King's College graduate student Max Stensness. The sleuth also learns that Max was gay and an active member of the Communist Party. Smith finds a tie to his former M15 boss, odious Richard de Vere Green. Hating Green whose treachery cost him his MI5 position, Smith keeps digging hoping to destroy his sneaky deceitful supervisor. Smith begins to find a connection to the Russians and the Americans as Stensness was apparently selling top-secret DNA information to the highest bidder, but the detective wonders if Green was the silent partner. Using real people like double Nobel Prize winner Pauling and incognito Nazi criminal Mengele to anchor the 1950s anti-Communist fervor that swept America (McCarthy era –sounds similar to today's official scares) and somewhat England, Boris Starling provides readers with an exciting deep espionage thriller. The story line looks at the salad days of DNA research combining it with the Red scare and the WWII aftermath still devastatingly visible in foggy London. Readers will appreciate this fast-paced period piece that grips the audience with a whodunit spy thriller.

Season of the Witch
Natasha Mostert
c/o Penguin Putnam
375 Hudson Street, 3rd floor, New York, NY 10014-3657
0525950036, $24.95 1-800-847-5515

"Information thief" Gabriel Blackstone uses his gift "remote viewing" to obtain the thoughts of other people. He has no scruples about stealing from a mind for a paying customer. London investment banker William Whittington is dying, but wants to see his missing son Robert before he expires. Encouraged by his young trophy wife Cecily Franck, who intimately knows Gabriel, William hires the man. Gabriel uses his talent by "slamming the ride" to trace the twenty-one years old vanished heir only to find Robert dead. The Monk sisters Morrighan and Minnaloushe are the prime suspects as both have the occult talent as direct descendants of sixteenth century alchemist John Dee. Feeling a bit of ethics towards his client, Gabriel courts the siblings with hopes of learning which one killed Robert, but he soon finds himself bewitched by love. This is a one sitting exciting paranormal whodunit that grips the audience from the opening Prologue and never stops for even a gasp until the words The End. The story line is fast-paced, filled with action and makes the impossible seem plausible. The support cast enhances the plot, but clearly this terrific tale belongs to the Gifted as the readers, like the hero, wonder who the killer is and whether Gabriel has fallen in love with a murdering occultist or an angelic practitioner.

Red Cat
Peter Spiegelman
Alfred A. Knopf
c/o Random House
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
0307263169, $22.95 1-800-726-0600

Growing up brothers John and David March detested one another; as adults their scorn for the other remains unabated. Thus John is more than shocked when his snobbish business executive David turns to him for help. The married David used an Internet site to arrange a tryst. The woman videotaped their performance, which if revealed would cost the older sibling his job and probably his wife; he wants his younger sibling, a private investigator to find out what is going on and how to prevent the personal disaster from occurring. The only additional clue is a red cat tattoo on the hooker. John learns the female is Wren, who is not blackmailing David per say, but considers herself an artist selling her tapes of married men cheating with her to the highest bidding collector. The scenario takes a deadly spin when someone murders Wren. John assumes that a sex client committed the homicide, but wonders if righteous David could have performed the deed even as he ponders whether blood is thick enough to propel him to protect David especially if he turns out to be the killer. Besides the family dynamics, RED CAT is a fabulous modern day Noir that brings the Internet fully into the sub-genre. John is terrific as he loathes his pompous "superior" older brother, but also resolves to do his best by him as he is family. Peter Spiegelman provides a great whodunit starring one of the best sleuths to hit the information age (see BLACK MAPS and DEATH'S LITTLE HELPERS).

Whitehorn Woods
Maeve Binchy
Alfred A. Knopf
c/o Random House
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
0307265781, $25.95 1-800-726-0600

The proposed construction of a highway through Whitethorn Woods has divided the residents of nearby Rossmore, Ireland. While some see the economic miracle that the road will bring to the area; others decry the destruction of a popular local shrine St. Ann's Well. Many older female true believers feel the Well provides the miracles of healing and finding spouses. Pressure from both sides of the debate is squarely placed on the curate of St. Augustine's Father Brian Flynn to decide whether the revered Well is a shrine or not. Father Flynn has doubts about the Well and knows how a highway will help the area, but fears the desecration of St. Ann would cause spiritual harm to the dwindling few believers. He goes on a pilgrimage to the Well praying to God to help him hear what his most pious congregation members hear because his determination will go a long way towards whether the sacred Well survives the modernization of Ireland. Though the above paragraph concentrates on Father Flynn, Maeve Binchy provides a host of characters impacted by whatever occurs to the St. Ann's Well. The cast ranges from the cynical secular avaricious to the praying sexagenarian who still believes in miracles though she has not found love at least until now. Through the characters' varying reactions, fans obtain a well written entertaining look at the secularization of Ireland.

Black & White
Dani Shapiro
Alfred A. Knopf
c/o Random House
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
0375415483, $24.00 1-800-726-0600

Infamous photographer Ruth Dunne is dying from cancer yet hopes to put together one last book as a testimony of her work. Her youngest daughter Clara, the object of much of the sensational pictures, fled Manhattan and her mom for the serene quiet of Maine where she has lived for fourteen years in seclusion with her spouse Jonathan and their daughter Samantha, who is unaware that her maternal grandmother is alive or that her mom was the "star". When Clara's sister Robin informs her that mom is dying, she would like to reconcile with Ruth before dies, but has so much anger over those pictures of her as a naked child that Ruth insists were art, but Clara feels they were exploitation and abuse. Forced to tell the truth to Sam, the family travels to New York to see Ruth. At the MoMA, Sam sees some of her grandmother's work and believes they are fine. Robin who has always felt left out and alone and Clara bond as adult sisters; something they could not do as children. Meanwhile as Ruth nears death she begs Clara to forgive her as she never intended to harm her with her art. While her family wants a reconciliation, Clara has doubts as exploitation remains in the forefront of her mind. This is an interesting family drama as each of the key players come across as unique individuals with issues and concerns. The story line focuses mostly on the dysfunctional relationship between Ruth and Clara, but also provides some insight to the lack of rapport between sisters, spouses, and mother and daughter. Readers will know how everyone feels as no one holds back their emotions. Although the climax seems too forgiving, fans will enjoy this fine character driven tale.

Adam Roberts
59 John Glenn Drive, Amherst, NY 14228-2197
1591025389, $15.00 1-800-421-0351

Decades after the last moon landing, NASA still struggles with strategic objectives and vision. Many of the wealthy class feels NASA is a failed earthbound bureaucracy that cannot get a mission to reach the stars. In 2059, wealthy American Kristin Janzen Kooistra makes a deal to pay an exorbitant fee to hide from her government in the "Uplands". Now Gradisil's grandfather has the finances to turn over the paradigm caused by that former Nazi von Braun when he persuaded the Americans to go fixed wing aircraft in the 1940s and 1950s. Thus he builds airtight flying houses to orbit the earth with families residing inside them that will be free of government intervention and intercession on their lives. Over the decades however, the earthbound governments especially the tax hungry United States see things differently from the Utopian freedom lovers. Told in three parts with the first two sections being novel length and the final segment more of a coda novella, GRADISIL is a much more complex tale than the above paragraph provides in order to avoid giving away what happens to those orbiting the planet. The story line follows the orbiters over several decades as a stratospheric Utopia is under increasing scrutiny from below. Key players like Gradisil come across as fully developed yet lacking a motive of why anyone would voluntarily live such a limiting lifestyle. It is sort of turning Swift's of Gulliver Part III, The flying island of Laputa, upside down, Adam Roberts captures the attention and imagination of cerebral science fiction fans with his tale of a nation in the sky formed from courage and conviction not continual conquest.

Into The Darkness
Delilah Devlin
Avon Red
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
0061161233, $13.95

Following the murders of her parents, Natalie Lambert comes to New Orleans to uncover the identity of their killer. Instead, she is bitten by a creature of the night. To her chagrin, confusion and euphoria Natalie finds she has radically changed since the assault; for she craves sexual passion, an emotion she never felt before the nip on her neck. Other desires are almost as haunting as her sexual appetite. On the down side the animal kingdom has it in for her as she becomes a victim of attacking killer birds and locusts of biblical proportion. NYPD Police Detective Rene Broussard rescues Natalie from another attack. However, he is unable to remain professionally attached as he cannot resist her lure. The next morning he finds himself in bed with this beauty and a hunger for her like nothing he ever felt before. She reciprocates his feelings as her vampire nature surfaces with his touch. However, one (make that numerous) bites, nips, and caresses, etc. later, the pairs knows they must fight against an evil that is using Hurricane Katrina as a cover to kill vampires especially easy marks like these two in love fledglings. This is a terrific vampiric erotic romance starring a virgin vampire (making her a unique protagonist) and the cop who rescues her from various attacks and her new sexual cravings. The story line is hot from the first bite to the last bite while the police procedural elements take somewhat of a back seat to the vampiric lust and love of the lead duet. Fans of torrid paranormal romantic suspense will appreciate the two rookies hoping for an eternity of love while praying for surviving a lethal serial killer.

Claiming the Courtesan
Anna Campbell
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
0061234915, $6.99

By 1825, Soraya had become the Ton's most notorious courtesan. Hardly anyone realizes that she started only a few years earlier when as an innocent fifteen years old she sold her body to save her impoverished family. All these years as a kept woman, she prayed after each taking that soon she will escape back to what she once was, Verity Ashton. Soraya knows the time is right for her to vanish as she has the money and is falling in love with her current patron though she fears her kind wealthy benefactor the Duke of Kylemore will not simply allow her to disappear as the insult would be too great for an arrogant soul like him. Besides she believes Justin Kinmurrie would defy the aristocracy by making her his wife if she let him. When she runs off, he tracks her down and ignores her plea for his sake to forget her. Instead he abducts her to persuade his Verity that she would make a fine duchess of Kylemore although most of his peers would disagree, some violently. Though CLAIMING THE COURTESAN may seem like a typical Regency romance, the relationship between the fully developed lead couple turns this into a must read for sub-genre fans. Soraya is the more fascinating character as she wants to turn back the clock to when she was a simple innocent Verity, but knows that is impossible to achieve; Justin believes that his kisses and his trust will ultimately convince his beloved that she is Soraya in his bed only, but Verity, the Duchess of Kylemore in public. That match-up makes for a terrific gender battle.

When Seducing a Spy
Sari Robins
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
006078248X, $6.99

In 1810, the Girard Street Crier contains an article that comes to the attention of the Foreign Office as its author Deiniol writes about "Sifting Truths: The Power of Rumor and the Art of Discernment". Tristan Wheaton and Sir Lee Devane agree that this intelligent male aristocrat needs to be recruited. Two and half years later, Lady Tess Linowes is a card carrying member of the Society for the Enrichment and Learning of Females. The widow also works undercover for the Crown having been outed not too long ago. Her childhood friend Heath Bartlett has been assigned by another government agency to investigate Tess' involvement in a recent theft. To his chagrin he wants her though she is the worst type of female for his career plans as she is a blue-blooded modern day feminist. Still when she is framed to take the fall for a homicide, Heath does everything to prove her innocence and make her his wife. Readers will enjoy this delightful spy vs. sleuth Regency romance in which the suspense keeps the audience hooked until the final confrontation. The fast-paced story line stars two interesting characters as Heath wants a biddable spouse whose name will further his ambition yet he only dreams of Tess. She on the other hand is attracted to him, but fears marriage would end her career. Thus Heath knows he must seduce the spy to make her his spouse that is after getting her out of jail.

Mistress of Scandal
Sara Bennett
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022

In 1849, whereas her two older sisters have reconciled with their birth mother Madam Aphrodite and found love (see LESSONS IN SEDUCTION and RULES OF PASSION), Francesca Greentree hates what her biological mom does for a living. Instead she prefers to rusticate in Yorkshire where her "adopted" mom Amy Greentree raised her and her siblings rather than spend time in London where she is reminded of her biological mother a famous courtesan. Aphrodite asks the "human bloodhound" Sebastian Thorne to find the odious baby snatcher Mrs. Slater and learn from her who was going to pay her to steal her three offspring from her over two decades ago. She also begs him not to tell her darling daughters the truth about his mission. In Yorkshire Hal the blacksmith tricks Sebastian who begins sinking into the bog of the Emerald Mire moor, but Francesca rescues him. As he continues his sleuthing, he knows he is in love from the moment he first saw her; but he has a disgraceful past that leaves him too dishonorable to court his beloved even as he willingly risks his life to keep her safe from someone wanting her dead. In spite of the chance encounter between the lead protagonists on the moor, the third Aphrodite's children tale is a fabulous Victorian private investigator romantic suspense that ties up the key loose threads especially the who and why of the original abduction. The story line is fast-paced from the moment that Aphrodite hires Sebastian and never slows down until the final confrontation with a romantic subplot running through the middle. Historical romantic mystery fans will appreciate this pleasingly entertaining series.

The Secret Passion of Simon Blackwell
Samantha James
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
0060896450, $6.99

By 1848 Simon Blackwell has learned to distrust passion after what happened five years ago. Though declared to have survived his ordeal by his physician, Simon knows otherwise as he hides in the moorlands especially from aristocratic females. Only for his remaining maternal relative Aunt Leticia will he venture to odious London and this is because she begged him to attend her seventieth birthday bash. In London, Simon meets Annabel McBride and is unable to resist a kiss. She burns from his touch and he feels likewise. Forced to marry he vows for convention and convenience only while she vows for passion and friendship. Simon refuses to open his heart as love hurts while Annabel refuses to accept anything less than his hear as love liberates. THE SECRET PASSION OF SIMON BLACKWELL is in many ways a typical Victorian romance with a disturbed dark protagonist and a courageous heroine willing to risk her soul to more than just help him as Annabel knows that is not enough. She will do what it takes to earn his eternal love as nothing less is acceptable. Their relationship makes for a fine historical tale as readers will root for Anne to achieve what seems like a bodacious unattainable goal: winning the heart and soul of her beloved.

Bedding the Heiress
Cathy Maxwell
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
0061121800, $6.99

In 1807 Phillip Maddox gives up his claim to being a duke to his recently discovered older twin Justin, who was snatched as an infant and raised as a blacksmith. Phillip is comfortable with doing the honorable thing, but Justin is not as he is a Scot not an Englishman. One thing he does is hide the "Sword of the Mackenna" that in either the wrong English or Scottish hands would mean war. Heiress Francesca Dunroy enjoyed the attention of rake Lord Penthorpe following a sheltered life in which her mother died two years ago and her father instantly remarried a woman younger than her. However, she realized Penthorpe is no good as he stole her mom's necklace and is blackmailing her for its return. Phillip accepts an invitation to the Dunroy party as a minor first appearance for his brother as the duke. Because Justin will be there, the small party becomes the event of the season. Justin hates the gala so he hides in the library only to have Francesca arrive. He kisses her just before Penthorpe comes to demand Francesca give him 1000 pounds if she wants her necklace back. Justin wants Francesca but assumes she is Penthorpe's mistress; besides he distrusts females after the betrayal of his ex-wife. As he becomes entangled in Francesca's affairs they fall in love until his Scottish past arrives with a vengeance. Justin is a fresh character struggling between his old world and his new while his beloved Francesca is an out of control heiress who tries to protect her reputation only making it worst with every bold breech of etiquette she manages to break. The support cast is solid as they bring out the best and worst of the era. Though there is much less action involving the potential Scottish rebellion than in Phillips' tale (see In the Bed of a Duke) Regency fans will appreciate the anointing of the new Duke.

Alluring Tales – Awaken the fantasy
Vivi Ana, Sylvia Day, et al.
Avon Red
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
0061176036, $13.95

"Lover's Locket" by Cathryn Fox. All she needs is love, but Caira has no hope of finding her beloved until she opens up a locket that sends her on a quest to free Zarek. "Kili's Ice Man" by Delilah Devlin. Kili and the gladiator Ice Man meet, but nothing goes right yet they want to meet again. "The Hottest One-Night Stand" by Lisa Renee Jones. After a horrific divorce, Jessica vowed never again will she be in a long term relationship again until she meets the stranger Dominic and covets infinite nights and days. "Out of the Shadows" by Myla Jackson. Vampire hater T.J. covets his neighbor Cassidy until he learns his beloved has quite a bite. "Tempting Grace" by Sasha White. Feeling depressed and all alone, Grace turns to Luke for warmth and sex while insisting one night is all she desires and one night after that and after that, etc. "A Familiar Kind of Magic" Sylvia Day. Max the dominant warlock plans to seduce Victoria the temptress into being his submissive, but she supposedly prefers being on top too even as they share telepathically their inner secrets. "Quick Silver" by Vivi Ana. New States of America Conveyor Sangria is delivering special cargo, Vance the sex worker to Vegas, but they have time for a tryst or three. These entertaining seven erotic tales cross several genres but share in common heat that make the temperature of Mercury seem more like Neptune.

Be Still My Vampire Heart
Kerrelyn Sparks
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
0061118443, $5.99

In Central Park, someone kills a Russian Malcontent vampire. The group's leader Katya Miniskaya accuses the New York vampire clan of the slaying, but they know differently. A slayer stakes vampires mostly in Central Park and he or she must be stopped before a bloodsucker war ignites. Affluent Roman Draganesti assigns Angus MacKay to do whatever it takes to end the terror before hostilities break out. The four century plus vampire decides to out the slayer in her killing fields of Central park. There he meets CIA Stake-Out agent Emma Wallace, who is obsessed with deadening the undead as vampires slew her parents years ago. To both their shock these natural adversaries are attracted to one another. Angus revises his plan from slaying the slayer to making it with her, but he is not a fan of rough sex props as a stake in the heart does not sound like a good time. First he must persuade her to stop stereotyping his species while Emma feels she is betraying her parents because she desires sleeping with the enemy. This is an excellent vampire romance as readers will enjoy the escapades between the slayer and her target. The storyline is fast-paced, filled with action, but belongs to the lead pair, as readers will wonder whether they will make strange bedfellows. Sub-genre fans will want to take a bite out of this Big Apple supernatural delight and seek other sparkling "supernormal" thrillers by this entertaining author (see VAMPS IN THE CITY and HOW TO MARRY A MILLIONAIRE VAMPIRE).

And Then He Kissed Her
Laura Lee Guhrke
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
006114360X, $6.99

Lord Harry Marlowe is proud of the quality of his newspaper and the efficiency of his office. However, he ignores the submission of etiquette articles by some uptight author. When his prim and proper secretary Emmaline Dove realizes her employer failed to print her submissions sent in under a pseudonym, she becomes outraged and quits. She plans to give her collective work to Marlowe's rival. Harry realizes how good Miss Dove was when his office collapses affecting the newspaper he cherishes. He needs her back and decides any tool in his arsenal will suffice especially since he is a highly regarded rake. He decides to teach her to ignore etiquette and return to bring order to chaos with a kiss. What Harry never expected is how much everything changed in his world when he kissed her and her reciprocating makes him believe that he's never been kissed this way before. This is a fun late Victorian romance starring two likable protagonists who make for a fine reading experience for the sub-genre audience and would be just the novel to bring fans of other eras into the fold. The gender war is at its best as pompous womanizer Harry battles his reticent former secretary with the winner being in charge of the newspaper and their relationship. Laura Lee Guhrke provides a great tale as love complicates the duel.

Voices of the Night
Lydia Joyce
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
0451220773, $6.99

Maggie Knight grew up in the London slums where thugs and hookers were the norm. By 1860 though still young, she becomes a surrogate "Mother" to even younger orphans protecting them from the lowlifes who would prey on these innocents. In 1864 Lord Charles Crossham bet his sister Millie that he could make a purse out of a sow's hide. He selects Maggie as his metamorphosed target. She rejects his proposal until he offers to help her orphans as Maggie would do anything for her wards. As he teaches Maggie to behave as a lady, he falls in love with her. However, she knows a lofty aristocrat like her Charles needs better than a polished street ragamuffin especially since a dangerous gang leader threatens her "children" and her beloved. Placing Pygmalion in Dickens' London gives the audience a taste of VOICES OF THE NIGHT, a delightful Victorian romance. Whereas Maggie is a precocious nurturing Eliza, Charles is somewhat her Henry but actually is much more to her; and Danny the gang leader is Bill Sykes (of Oliver fame). The story line has a freshness of its own as sub-genre readers will rejoice with this fine historical.

On the Slam
Honor Hartman
Signet Books
c/o New American Library
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0451221400, $6.99 1-800-847-5515

It has been six months since Emma Diamond's husband died in an automobile accident; to escape the memories that are everywhere in the abode they shared, Emma moves to a house next door to her friend Sophie. One of the first people she meets in the upscale complex is the homeowners' association president Janet McGreevey, a virago who orders her not to let her cats roam loose on the streets and to keep her porch swing out of the front of her home. Emma takes an immediate dislike to the overbearing shrew. However, when Janet invites her and Sophie to come over to play bridge, the latter persuades the newcomer to go so as to get on the good side of the martinet. While several people play bridge, Janet eats a spinach dip brought by Marylou Lockridge, who loathes the president also, but knows not to antagonize her as the mean spirited woman will find a way to hurt anyone who doesn't treat her right. Janet suddenly keels over and dies from an allergic reaction to peanuts added to the spinach dip. Emma believes someone else added the peanuts during the evening festivities and she finds herself playing sleuth to find out who it is.. ON THE SLAM is the first book of what looks to be a terrific amateur sleuth series. Emma gains reader empathy from the onset as she struggles with grief while trying to move on with her life. Sophie, in many ways, steals the game, as a caring supportive person who makes her friendship "contract" to help Emma cope. The story line is well plotted and contains quite a few twists and tricks as Emma bids on who killed the despot.

Draw Down the Darkness
Naomi Bellis
c/o New American Library
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0451220951, $6.99 1-800-847-5515

In 1798 spy Master Sir Alaric Fitzwilliam learns from trusted agent Lord Bedford that the Hellfire League has returned with a plot to help the French invade Ireland while using darkness sorcery to cause havoc. Alaric needs help from the Circle to prevent the sorcery from causing harm and calls for his best agent Viscount Nicholas Saville to return from overseas to go undercover to learn who the traitor is. Back in England, Helen Barrett sees her fiance Nicholas for the first time in three years as he has been overseas on business; he never told her he was home. She informs him she will no longer wait for him; he says he loves her. She walks away only to have the Earl of Waring gives her a necklace that she reluctantly puts on. Helen tells Waring she made a mistake but Nicholas tells her to go to Waring as he is better for her. Nicholas goes to meet Bedford, but watches instead a carriage stop to dump the dead Bedford who holds the card of Helen's brother James. After gaining nothing from James, Nicholas visits Waring, considered a traitor by the Master. There he removes from Helen the necklace that contains dark magic to enslave her to Waring. Nicholas knows his beloved is a key target, but not why. He plans to confront Waring. The hero's dilemma and guilt feels real as he either gives up his beloved or his family making this Regency romantic fantasy feel genuine especially since the paranormal elements augment the suspense laden story line. Romance readers will feel the strength of the love between the lead couple even when she breaks off with him. Though the Master shows up at the right time and place making it seem as if the hero's efforts were not needed, fans will relish this action-packed thriller that never slows down for even a paragraph.

Barbara Metzger
c/o New American Library
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
045122079X, $6.99 1-800-847-5515

He knows he committed atrocities while fighting in the name of God during what foolish mankind called the Crusades. However, his eternal punishment is to be a Death collector, a minion of the Grim Reaper. Unlike most if not all of his peers, Ar Death remembers when he was Sir Coryn of Ardsley filled with a heart and soul. He could plead with his superior Sir Grimness to relieve him of duty as he believes he is a victim of battle fatigue, but that means ending up as a permanent resident of an even worse place, Hell. Still his only hope for salvation lies with gambling with His Eminence the Devil. The deal is simple six months on earth to find his missing humanity and freedom or more likely failure and eternity as one of the Devil's minion. Imogene "Genie" Macklin tends to the wounded at Waterloo while pondering her future as an undesirable destitute pregnant soldier's widow though her preference is to not think at all. Also healing the cannon fodder is Coryn, claiming to be an Earl, as he rips into haughty aristocratic Major Willeford. Genie and Coryn meet over a dying soldier and he realizes she is a lady of quality who could enhance his lies. When he proposes she accepts because she must think of her baby. Though they fall in love with one another, the sands in his HOURGLASS are slipping into a future of eternal condemnation if he fails to find his humanity. This paranormal romance grips the audience from the opening gamble until the final confrontation with Ar's former boss. The story line is fast-paced and filled with action yet most critical to this enjoyable supernatural historical is the belief in Hell, the Grim Reaper, and the soul as described by Barbara Metzger. Romance fans who appreciate a devilishly different type of Regency will want to read this delightful second chance at life tale.

Jacquelin Thomas
c/o Penguin Putnam Inc.
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0451217640, $22.95 1-800-847-5515

An unlikely couple is Hollywood superstar Marin Alexander and renowned televangelist Warner Brice although both are firm believers in God. Yet when they meet they fall in love. They marry, but being the preacher's wife devastates Marin's film career as parts she had before she said I do are no longer offered to her. Marin also misses her friends as she finds life away from Hollywood boring. Hoping to salvage her career, she returns to Southern California and her old friends. This puts her at odds with Warner's vocation and threatens his ministry. His advisors tell him to give up on his sinner of a spouse though not by divorce while her pals tell her to drop the religious albatross that hinders her Hollywood career. The Hollywood-preacher marriage makes for an interesting look at relationships as the lead couple shares love and strong beliefs in the Lord yet their marriage is in jeopardy as those powerful elements may prove insufficient. Though the Hollywood crowd seems hyperbolic hedonistic with drugs and sex especially when compared to Brice's pious followers, fans will enjoy the fall of an interesting person whose hope lies in REDEMPTION by returning to the Lord.

River of the World
Chaz Brenchley
Ace Books
c/o The Berkley Publishing Group
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
044101478X, $24.95 1-800-847-5515

It took a day to destroy a millennium of prosperity when the Marasi created a magical bridge that scaled the walls of Sundain to enable their conquering army inside (see BRIDGE OF DREAMS). Now two decades have passed since the conquering led to twin cities bridged by the dreams of children whose lives are sucked out until they wither and die while the Marasi magical rule. By happenstance the sultan of Marasi's latest wife Jendre meets Sundain water mage Issel after he has done the impossible by crossing the river to Marasi. They agree to help one another at a time when rivals battle for control in Marasi as she wants to save the life of her "dreaming" sister. However, their plan goes awry when the sultan is assassinated and Jendre captured as she has value to those craving power. Issel knows he must liberate her or else face failure as she is his only access into the castle. This terrific sequel assumes that the audience read the previous fantasy as much of the political intrigue especially the abuse of power was set in BRIDGE OF DREAMS and built upon that foundation rather than repeated in the deep RIVER OF THE WORLD. The story line is fast-paced once the lead couple recognizes a mutual need for one another and abets each other to achieve what they desire. Whereas Issel wants to free a city, Jendre wants to free a person as morality plays havoc with this duo with issues like sacrificing one for the better good or saving one at the cost of the many (early Ayn Rand). Chaz Brenchley writes a terrific political fantasy.

Allen Steele
Ace Books
c/o The Berkley Publishing Group
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0441014712, $24.95 1-800-847-5515

While the events take place on Coyote (see COYOTE and COYOTE RISING, but prior to COYOTE FRONTIER), in 2288 earth time scientists detect an alien object apparently aimlessly floating through space. Though the mysterious entity is quite a distance from earth a team was established to investigate the item, code named SPINDRIFT. However, upon reaching their destination in a distant star system, the EASS Galileo loses communication with its European home station. On earth, the assumption is everyone on board died. In 2344, the Maria Celeste shuttle craft arrives in Europe with three on board; the only survivors of the Galileo. None of the trio has aged though over five decades have passed since the launch and their vessel contains a drive system with a technology far advanced from those on earth. These three inform Director General Shillinglaw they made first contact with a superior force that could be coming for a not so friendly visit. Even as the Coyote audience knows the underlying tale, this is brilliant as Allen Steele uses what seems like a sidebar in the Coyote trilogy to write a fabulous stand alone science fiction (still recommend the previous books as great reads). The story line fills the gap between books two and three of Coyote with a vivid description of the failed Galileo mission. Readers will be hooked as three crew members endured while others died by adjusting to the reality that humanity is not the king of the universe, but instead a rat scurrying to survive.

Magic Bites
Ilona Andrews
Ace Books
c/o The Berkley Publishing Group
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0441014895, $6.99 1-800-847-5515

In the near future, the world is a very different place as magic has returned but it ebbs and flows. When it flows, technology fails, but when it ebbs technology works. Kate Daniels belongs to the Mercenaries Guild, taking care of magical problems that organizations won't touch. Her mentor Greg Feldman wants her to join his group the Atlanta chapter of the Chapter of the Order of Knights of Merciful Aid but she refuses as she prefers being a lone wolf. When Greg is killed, she goes to the Order to tell them she wants to find her mentor's killer. They tell her she can perform a sidebar investigation under their rule and provide her the information they know and the pictures they have. The crime pictures show the same entity murdered Greg and a vampire. It looks like a shapeshifter is the culprit, which implies hostilities are erupting between that species and the Masters of the Dead, necromancers who control the mindless vampires. Kate has a hunch that someone is orchestrating things behind the scenes to cause a war between the two wary adversaries; but she has no idea who has the power to pull off such a diabolically sly ruse. Ilona Andrews is the newest fantasy magician who makes her world seem plausible yet entertaining; mindful of Rosemary Edghill and Mercedes Lackey. The heroine is an enigmatic interesting individual who learns over her investigation that she is capable of trusting others as well as gaining the confidence of Pack King Curran while still keeping much of what she learns to herself. MAGIC BITES is an enchanting paranormal whodunit that takes the supernatural into new natural directions.

The Spellman Files
Lisa Lutz
Simon and Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl., New York, NY 10020
1416532390, $25.00 1-800-223-2336

In San Francisco Isabel Spellman has worked in the family business since she was twelve years old. However, the down side of being part of a family of private investigators is that your nosy parents have access to check into her dates though she is now twenty-eight years old. Still working for Spellman Investigations is an easy way to make a living. However, to the shock of her siblings, her Uncle Ray and her parents, Izzy falls in love with a dentist of all things; worse a Bush loving dentist. Her parents worry she is setting a bad example for her fourteen years old younger sister Rae who is the Bay area's greatest barterer. He older brother David the attorney is pleased to a degree with a dentist as he figures on discounts though he has not sunk his teeth into the man's background. However, Uncle Ray has vanished again so this no time to think about love as Izzy is assigned as always to find him. Rae is hired to follow Izzy to uncover the identity of the mystical dentist while Izzy is assigned a cold case to resolve. Life is normal amidst the Spellmans until Rae vanishes and the get Smart tapes must go on pause. This is a fun private investigative chick lit tale that will have readers chuckling at the antics of the zaniest family since the Sycamores rooted their shtick in You Can't Take It with You. The story line is driven by Izzy as she drives everyone around her dizzy with her antics. Fans of lighthearted amusing capers will appreciate this interesting thriller that showcases a grown up Nancy Drew trying to get a life outside her bugging family.

A Treasury of Regrets
Susanne Alleyn
Thomas Dunne Books
c/o St. Martin's Press Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
031234371X, $24.95 1-888-330-8477

In 1797, the people are trying to form a republic to replace the dead monarchy. Police spy Aristide Ravel is at the jail when Laurence Faueconnet, the widow of revolutionary Aurele, arrives complaining that the police arrested her domestic servant Jeannette Moineau for killing her father-in-law, Monsieur Dupont. He became ill after eating a meal she served and arsenic was found in her room. Laurence doubts the girl could have hatched and carried out the plan. Magdeline, the daughter of the late Dupont, does her best to convince the police that the servant murdered her papa. Aristide questions Jeannette and concludes the girl is innocent while someone within the Dupont family killed the deceased miserly patriarch. He questions the household and deems the victim's other daughter Charlotte knows more than she is saying. When he finds a family member hanging from a rope, he knows the murderer has struck again. Aristide believes everyone had a motive to see Dupont dead and the second victim as collateral damage. He plans to find out who and why. A TREASURY OF REGRETS is a fascinating historical mystery set in France just after the Revolution as readers see how the people adapt to the changes that came about. Aristide is an interesting character who cares that justice is served as he goes out of his way to prove the servant is innocent even when the legal system tries to guillotine his case with a fast fix. Susanne Alleyn provides a great tale that brings to life late eighteenth century France during a troubling fledgling attempt to legalize a fair justice system.

Jerry Kennealy
Thomas Dunne Books
c/o St. Martin's Press Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
0312354754, $23.95 1-888-330-8477

Without a second thought beyond the usual that the lunatics have found email, San Francisco Bulletin reviewer Carroll Quint deletes the message referencing the brutal stabbing of actor Montgomery Hines in his shower. He also tosses into the trash basket an email re the murder of screenwriter Charlie Reeder, whom Carroll found dead; the murder weapon being a leg of lamb. However, upon further reflection, Carroll reconsiders that both emails were from apparently the same person, Thanatos obviously named for the Greek god of death; and that the emails tie to Hitchcock movies. Carroll regrets tossing the two emails, but has mixed feelings about receiving a third. On the one hand, it might provide a clue to the Hitchcock killer while on the other another person is dead. He need not worry as Thanatos sends more emails with references to The 39 Steps and Frenzy while his mom advises him the killer is in plain sight like the midgets in Casablanca. The fun in this fine serial killer tale is with the homage to Hitchcock and the trouble with the law that Carroll is in as the police assume the reporter is the killer while also suspecting he stole a valuable necklace from arts patron Gineen Rosenberry. The whodunit takes a back seat to the Hitchcockian references that will remind the older readers of Vincent Price's Theatre of Blood yet the audience will enjoy Carroll's investigation to prove he committed no crimes other than perhaps some poor reviewing (I plead the fifth).

Dread Murder
Gwendoline Butler
Thomas Dunne Books
c/o St. Martin's Press Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
0312361335, $23.95 1-888-330-8477

Having survived the horrors of the Napoleonic Wars, Major Mearns and his battle brother Denny work and live at Windsor Castle as Watchers who insure the safety of the royal residents especially the recently crowned King George IV. Living at the monarch's abode may seem regal, but for the likes of Mearns and Denny, it is the dreaded Ds: dirty, dusty, and drafty. Still it is a lot easier and safer an assignment than combat was. Meanwhile ten year old former factory worker Charlie stows a ride on a coach leaving London for Windsor. During the ride, Charlie befriends actress Miss Fairface, who is traveling to the city to join the Theatre Royal. In town, Charlie makes some money when he delivers a couple of heavy packages to Mearns at Windsor Castle. However, inside the parcels are the ghastly remains of someone Mearns knew. Stunned, Major Mearns and Denny investigate with Charlie as their sidekick. Their efforts take them to Theatre Royal where a corpse is found and soon other homicidal attempts occur. The second Major Mearns (see THE KING CRIED MURDER –not reviewed) historical mystery is a delightful early 1820s whodunit in which the intelligent street smart kid steals the story line from the two heroes especially with a delightful final twist. The investigation, enhanced by real persona and places such as the Theatre Royal, is fun to follow as the audience obtains a taste of Regency England especially the royal town of Windsor where for instance a professional police force is a new concept. As with her Coffin tales, Gwendoline Butler provides a fabulous investigative tale.

Super Mom Saves The World
Melanie Lynne Hauser
c/o Penguin Putnam Inc.
375 Hudson Street,New York, NY 10014
0451220366, $14.00 1-800-847-5515

Birdie "Super Mom" Lee feels it is her duty to keep the world, at least that of her hometown of Astro park, safe from super villains, usually that denotes corrupt politicians. When Birdie must battle these evil doers, she uses super powers of squirting cleaning fluid from her fingertips and forcing the truth out of suspects and her two teen offspring Kelly and Martin with the Merciless Gaze. That she uses when she works the grocery store cash register. She wonders how superheroes save the world without breaking a nail when she struggles to keep Astro Park safe. Scientist Carl Sayers is attracted to Birdie, but she fears any relationship having been devastated by her remarried husband filing for divorce again from number two ex spouse Doctor Dan. Instead Birdie tries to keep her kids, her community and her heart safe. Still defying physics by persisting, Carl and Birdie begin dating over the objections of their respective children and her former husband. Meanwhile Birdie believes the politicians have done it again with a new stadium that has enhanced bankbooks and filled the little league ballpark with steroids. The latest adventure of Supermom is a fun satirical tale that lampoons superheroes, politicians, and suburban soccer make that security make that scandal moms. The story line is lighthearted fun as Birdie lives up the title at least in her "world" by cleaning evil and crooked creeps from her hometown while also falling in love.

The Refuge
Sue Henry
c/o Penguin Putnam Inc.
375 Hudson Street,New York, NY 10014
0451220471, $23.95 1-800-847-5515

After being away from her Alaskan abode for the past nine months sixty four year old Maxie McNabb yearns for her home in Homer. She has spent time with her mini-dachshund in the lower forty-eight states around the Four Corners region of the Southwest. When she arrives at her home, she has less than a week to enjoy it before a friendly acquaintance calls her from Hilo, Hawaii asking for her help. In a fall she tripped, hurting an arm and a leg and is out of commission. She needs Maxie to help her sort, point, sells and more to Alaska. Maxie reluctantly heads to the fiftieth state to help Karen out, even knowing that before Karen was injured, she was helpless and always needing someone to tell her what to do and how to do it. Needing a break from her friend, she goes sightseeing and meets the plumber's helper Jerry who has worked on Karen's house. They put Karen on a plane and get to work packing and then they plan to do some sight-seeing. However, men want something from Maxie and they will kill them if necessary to get it. Maxie doesn't know what they want or where it is but is determined to get the best of the men that stalked her and kidnaped Jerry. Sue Henry has written an exciting mystery focusing on a protagonist who has more energy at sixty-four than people do in their twenties. She certainly shows that life can be fulfilling as a senior while she appreciate the beauty of the things around us like Maxie does in Hawaii. There is lots of action, no blood or gore and a great cast. Readers will immediately take to the heroine and Jerry who is not quite what he seems.

Learning to Breath
Karen White
c/o Penguin Putnam Inc.
375 Hudson Street,New York, NY 10014
045122034X, $14.00 1-800-847-5515

In Indianola, Louisiana, Brenna O'Brien owns and operates the Royal Majestic Theatre when her former teenage lover Pierce McGovern returns home from San Francisco. The son of a local doctor, Pierce just left Brenna behind when he deserted the town. Now he is back to place his ailing father in the assisted living complex the Village and to open a multiplex theatre that will shut down Brenna's operation. Pierce blames his abrupt departure and his sarcastic outlook on Brenna. However, he admits to himself he still wants her; Brenna feels the same way but has decided to marry someone else. His ailing dad shows Brenna love letters that make her realize one should never settle, but risking her heart seems foolish as he rejected her once and will break her heart into a zillion pieces this time. This is terrific second chance at love romance starring two likable protagonists who blame the other for the end of the first time together. The support cast is strong as his forgetful father and her relatives especially her introspective young nephew bring wisdom to the pair of hurting soulmates. Karen White writes a deep Bayou contemporary love story as her lead pair begins LEARNING TO BREATH in the love they share.

Claimed by Shadow
Karen Chance
ROC Books
c/o New American Library
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0451461525, $7.99 1-800-847-5515

The Pythia is the earth's most powerful clairvoyant, but it is the power of the title that chooses the heir. Although Cassandra Palmer's mentor was out of the running for the position because she did something horrific, the vampire Mercia believed Cassandra would be the one. Mercia places a geas on his ward to drive men away so that the young woman can be the Pythia since the ritual needs a virgin when it starts and someone Mercia chooses to complete the power by making love

The Sylver Circle, a coven of mages, and the Senate, who represent the vampires, want to control Cassandra who was brought up in a vampiric court. Thus the vamps assume she will turn to them to guide her, but Cassandra is her own woman and plans to control her destiny especially if she can find the one male who she can mate with so she can complete the ritual and become the Pythia. Cassandra follows Myra, the initiate who flunked out, back in time to 1888 England and into the realm of Fairy as she knows she will only be safe if her enemy dies though all she wants to do is neutralize her jealous foe. Karen Chance is a great writer of supernatural fantasy that is on a par with the works of Kim Harrison, Charlaine Harris and Kelly Armstrong. Her heroine is one of the most powerful women in the sub-genre as she makes her own way with a deep desire to use her powers do it her way guided by her ethics. There is so much action in CLAIMED BY SHADOW that readers will never stop until finished as we must know what happens next to Cassandra.

Forged by Fire
Janine Cross
ROC Books
c/o New American Library
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0451461282, $14.00 1-800-847-5515

Though the Dragon Temple forbids females from owning property, Zarq Darquel ignores the tenet. Instead she makes a home for herself by purchasing a dragon-egg producing farm in Clutch Xxamer Zu. She also struggles with her craving for addictive dragon venom while finding herself nurturing the young victims of the repressive regime. Meanwhile her former overlord Waikar Re Kratt, outraged by her behavior even before she defied the ruling paternal oligarchy, is coming for her. He wants her incarcerated at the least but his real goal is to see her dead. Forced to react, Zarq flees into the jungle lair of the dragons where accompanied by her female dragons, she seeks an ancient power to defeat Kratt and his male priestly supporters of the status quo. The final book of the Dragon Temple fantasy trilogy (see TOUCHED BY VENOM and SHADOWED BY WINGS) is a vivid dark fantasy starring an intriguing heroine struggling with an addiction yet ironically her only hope to survive is using the venom that she craves. The story line is action-packed as Zarq lands in one nasty escapade after another. While not for everyone as this tale and miniseries is graphic, Janine Cross provides a deep look at the crippling impact of sexism, racism, slavery, addiction, and oppression in a wonderful over the top saga.

Black Ice
Linda Hall
WaterBrook Press
c/o Random House Trade Group Publicity
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
1578569559, $12.99 1-800-726-0600

In Fog Point, Lenore Featherjohn welcomes guests to her B&B not caring whether the visitor is alive or otherwise. She simply cares about anyone who passes through her door. She especially goes out of her way when a child regardless of whether the youngster still breathes enters her inn. A young female ghost receives the royal treatment from Lenore who finds her corpse in a praying like position. While the townsfolk of Fog Point adopt the child as an angel, Lenore hires Jake Rikker to investigate who Jane Doe was when she lived and what happened to her that led to her death. While Minister Ben McLaren fears that the person who killed an apparent innocent lamb could murder again if anyone like the owner-hostess of the B&B gets to close to the truth, his wife Amy is unhappy. The latest Fog Point thriller (see DARK WATER) is a fascinating tale of fear and belief though the multitude of players with the changing perspectives can be difficult to follow. The story line is action-packed as everyone reacts differently to the deceased "angel". Readers will enjoy Linda Hall's return to Fog Point with this fine Christian thriller.

Pamela Sargent
Tor/Forge Publicity
1403 Flatiron Building, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
0765314274, $17.95 1-888-330-8477

Ship was created to find worlds that could contain human life and seed these orbs with humans. One of the first worlds to fulfill the requirement is Home where Ship deposited colonists. The colonists make up two groups. One segment led by Ho settles in the warm south while the rest headed by Zoheret moved into the coastal north. The people of the south lost much of their technology and devolved into a more\primitive lifestyle, while the Northerners built domes and relied on the technology brought from earth. Ho's teenage daughter Nuy sees three strangers approach from the north. She brings them to their village, but Ho assumes they bring death so he kills them and exiles his offspring. A year passes with the second generation Northerners wanting to know what happened to their compatriots. At a town hall meeting Leila a second generation person wants to send a second expedition to the South and she is supported by the settlement so they go south to find out the truth. When they camp for the night, Ho sends his forces to attack them killing two of the campers. Leila insists on continuing and soon meets Nuy, who wants to save both groups from her out of control parent. Two groups, one primitive and one advanced, battle for control with some in power (on both sides) preferring the status quo. It takes the female adventurers from both sides to demand change and go against the status quo established by the original landing party. Pamela Sargent has written a fantastic science fiction novel that shows how humans adapt to new environs. FARSEED is enjoyable and exciting as readers will care what happens to the colonists especially the heroic offspring.

The Outback Stars
Sandra McDonald
Tor Books
1403 Flatiron Building, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
0765316439, $25.95 1-888-330-8477

The Colonial Freedom project blew up the Yangtze leading to Lieutenant Jodenny Scott risking her life to save the people trapped in the broken ship. After spending three boring months healing on Kookaburra she finagles a berth on the Aral Sea and is assigned to head of Underway Stores; a job that was supposed to go to outraged Lieutenant David Quenger. She leads a colorful crew of malingerers, criminals, and oddballs with one member Terry Myell being accused of rape but the witnesses dropped all charges. Although Terry Myell was let out of prison, many of his shipmates assume he is guilty and only freed by a technicality that he caused. Jodenny decides Terry is an honorable person but cannot help him when his many enemies constantly beat him up, as he refuses to whistleblow on any of his brutalizing mates. While traveling using the Alcheringa, the artificially constructed space warp made by an extinct alien species, Jodenny manages to shape up the Underway Stores. When they land on the next planet on their route, Jodenny and Myell stumble onto a top secret operation the Wordinna Transportation System developed by the aliens who created the Alcheringa. This system can transport people to various planets without ships. Back on the ship problems arise with the dingoes (robots) as units mysteriously break down and portins of their memories stolen. These two different problems can get Myell and Jodenny killed. THE OUTBACK STARS is a fantastic military science fiction thriller similar to the Honor Harrington sagas. Like David Weber's heroine, the characters are three dimensional as their concerns and hurts, and their socializing seem plausible making them in turn real. The relationship between Jodenny and Myell enhances a deep plot with a fascinating mystery as the senior officer risks her career and eventually her life for her mate.

Midnight Tides
Steven Erikson
Tor Books
1403 Flatiron Building, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
076531651X, $15.95 1-888-330-8477

The Warlock King of Hiroth has done the unimaginable by uniting the tribes of Tiste Edur under his rule. He continues to expand beyond the historical borders though he worries about his legacy as he fears his offspring will either divide the kingdom in fourths or plunge into a war of succession. Thus he feels strongly about further expansion. To the south, though not quite what it was in its glorious past, the still powerful kingdom of Lether continues it quest to reconstruct the ancient empire that once ruled the continent. All are falling to the might of the Lether except for the Tiste Edur. These two kingdoms have a bellicose history that goes back through the centuries. Both are expanding towards one another with the smaller neighbors squeezed into submission to one or both. War seems inevitable as only one giant bully can rule the world, but a meeting to forge a peace that neither wants but both fears the outcome of open hostility has begun. The fifth tale in the Malazan Book of the Fallen (see MEMORIES OF ICE and HOUSE OF CHAINS) radically changes the direction of the saga even compared with the prologue, giving MIDNIGHT TIDES an opening feel to its powerful plot. Only an epic author of Steven Erikson caliber could pull off a coup like this and yet provide the audience with an action-packed thriller in which the two superpowers step ever closer to a world war. This is a great series and its latest entry continues the incredible deep story line with an unexpected but refreshingly delightful right turn that will have fans enthralled again and newcomers seeking the "history" books.

Titans of Chaos
John C. Wright
Tor Books
1403 Flatiron Building, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
076531648X, $25.95 1-888-330-8477

Their forms were changed into earth children and they never knew their heritage nor did they know about their considerable powers. Instead they were raised in an orphanage surrounded by walls with no one allowed to enter or leave this realm. They cling to one another and learn to work together in exchange for a shaky peace with Chaos. The children grew up and yearned to learn who they are so they fought for freedom. The first thing they did was book a cruise, but the Olympians and their allies blockade the ship. This forces Vanity, a prisoner of the Olympian conquered immortal Phoenicians, to summon the Silvery Ship, which answers to her commands. The vessel takes her and her compatriots to a deserted island where they learn to control and find the limits of their power. They must protect one another because if even one dies, the war between the Olympians and Chaos will resume with one outcome, the end of the world they call home. The exhilarating story that began with the ORPHANS OF CHAOS, continued with the FUGITIVES OF CHAOS and now finishes with the TITANS OF CHAOS as the five children of Chaos are more mature with a cause as they were raised as earth children. Thus their loyalty is not to their lineage, but to their adopted home with nurturing superseding naturing. As a unit with a one for all and all for one mentality these Chaos offspring are willing to fight both sides in order to keep their "adopted" world safe. John C. Wright proves he has the right stuff as he provides a fabulous finale to a great trilogy that the Potter crowd will relish.

The Well of Shades
Juliet Marillier
Tor Books
1403 Flatiron Building, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
0765309971, $26.95 1-888-330-8477

In the sixth-century, bard and king's spy, Fortriu Faolan of the Uí Neill clan has been assigned three complex and difficult tasks. Pict King Bridei orders Faolan to locate a cleric Colmcille. For himself, Faolan needs to go home to Erin to make peace with his family whom he left behind a decade ago after they were all devastated with the death of his oldest brother. Finally the hardest task of all of all is that he owes his late friend Deord the courtesy of informing the man's family that he died. Faolan travels to Cloud Hill to deal with the most demanding of his chores, but finds an even more formidable task awaits him when he meets Deord's indigent sixteen years old daughter, Eile and her infant. He puts his personal quest and that of his monarch on hold to escort the child and grandchild of his brother in arms back to the safety of King Bridei's court. However, instead of returning to his mission, he and Eile become entangled in a scheme to destroy Bridei's half-fey son, Derelei . Bridei' enemies hope tis he beginning of the end of the ruler's dream to unite the country under his rule. Book Three of the exciting historical fantasy Bridei Chronicles (see THE DARK MIRROR and BLADE OF FORTRIU) is a terrific entry as the audience learns more about the pasts of Bridei and Faolan. The story line is fast-paced and will elate fans of the series yet newcomers will have no problem understanding the plot as it can stand alone. Readers will enjoy Faolan's latest escapdes as he teams up with the teenage daughter of his late friend.

Robert J. Sawyer
Tor Books
1403 Flatiron Building, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
0765311089, $24.95 1-888-330-8477

Almost four decades ago back in 2010 astronomer Sarah Halifax, closing in on her fiftieth birthday, translated the first known message from outer space. She was part of a team that in turn provided mankind's response back to the Sigma Draconis aliens' radio transmission. Now she is eighty-seven years old when the second message arrives. She is elated, but knows it is too late for her or her spouse of sixty years Don to work the second message. However, robotic technology billionaire and SETI supporter Cody McGavin offers the elderly Halifax couple a chance when he buys a promising untested allegedly Fountain of Youth rejuvenation treatment for them to try. Sarah and Don do, but ironically though she is the key player, he is the one to ROLLBACK the clock to his twenties. Sarah works on interpreting the response while Don feels euphoric and guilty about feeling and looking younger than his grandchildren. This is an exciting science fiction thriller that focuses on ethical questions pertaining to relationships between a couple and between two "pen-pal" species. The story line is cerebral as Don and Sarah continue to be there for one another yet his needs have changed while she, though disappointed by her failure to regain her youth, prays for one last hurrah in which she will leave behind a legacy of doing what is best for humanity and for those sentient beings sending radio messages from Sigma Draconis, but how to know what is appropriate remains difficult to validate.

Gods and Pawns
Kage Baker
Tor Books
1403 Flatiron Building, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
0765315521, $24.95 1-888-330-8477

These seven "stories of the Company" are reprints from other publications but brought together under one book for the first time to the delight of fans of the series who will understand the title while newcomers will enjoy these excellent time traveling tales. "To the Land Beyond the Sunset". Company men Lewis and Mendoza amongst others encounter a seventeenth century tribe in Bolivia who claim to be immortal and provide evidence to support their God-like assertion. "The Catch". In 1958 a family of five allegedly died in a car crash. The Company sends Clete and Porfirio to clean up a problem caused by the ten year old boy previously saved from that crash; instead of joining as operatives as all of the rescued do, Bobby Ross has become a problem for the Company to fix. "The Angel in the Darkness". In 1991 forty-six years old insurance underwriter Maria Aguilar has problems as she expects the new owners of her firm to downsize. However, she soon finds bigger troubles for her and her family. Only Company Security Technical Uncle Porfirio can keep them safe from an immortal. "Standing in His Light". In the seventeenth century Netherlands Agent Van Drouten meets Jan Vermeer, considered by twenty-fourth century aficionados as the greatest artist of all times as she tries to rescue his masterpieces. "A Night on the Barbary Coast". In 1850 Joseph and Mendoza explore the local flora because something of interest caught Dr. Zeus' attention in the future. "Welcome to the Olympus, Mr. Hearst". In the 1920s and 30s William Randolph Heart informs Mr. Denham he knows about the Company and wants to buy stock as a full player in the game of "correcting" history. "Hellfire at Twilight". In 1774 Lewis joins the aristocratic notorious Hellfire Club because of a toxic alert from a document once belonging to them.

Elizabeth Vaughan
Tor Books
1403 Flatiron Building, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
0765352664, $6.99 1-888-330-8477

Daughter of a now deceased warrior king Lara of Xy gave up her freedom and people as the WARPRIZE of peace negotiated with the victorious Firelanders' Warlord, Keir of the Cat. However, though she initially came into this union as a WARSWORN "hostage", Lara and for that matter Keir find love. She feels need for her healing skills though insurgencies continue to plague them. However to affirm that she is in deed the WARPRIZE, Lara must persuade the antagonistic Counsel of Elders and their priestly advisors without her beloved at her side that she is worthy. The priests especially loathe her based on rumors of her healing skills as they insist only special practitioners using magic can restore to health an ailing person. If she fails to win them over, as she expects to happen, she ponders how Keir will react. The final tale to the War romantic fantasy trilogy is a superb climax to an excellent saga. Lara is a courageous heroine who gave up all for the sake of her people and now in a deja vu setting may have to do so again, but this time around she has a personal endearment that would be part of her sacrifice. Romance and fantasy readers will appreciate this terrific trio as Elizabeth Vaughan provides a fabulous finish to a superior story.

Harriet Klausner
Senior Reviewer

Laurel's Bookshelf

Accidental Enlightenment
Extraordinary Travels of a Modern-Day Gulliver
Stephen Banick
2100 Kramer Lane, Suite 300, Austin, Texas 78758
1933538635 $16.95

The subtitle to Mr. Banick's book explains his purpose: "One Man's Journey to Self-Discovery In a Turbulent, Shrinking World." Most of us will never go where the author has trod, never venture into exotic, amazing worlds as he has. Don't fret, readers, if your life is humdrum like mine. Reading about Banick's experiences is an excellent substitute for the real thing. Gulliver's Travels seem pale by comparison.

Stephen Banick was born a Sagittarian of inquisitive nature – always searching for a new adventure and seeking answers to the unanswerable. As a young adult he traveled a meandering path across the U.S. on his way to a new job. From Boise to Banff, and all points in between, the author meets unusual, intriguing people. His spirit and imagination are fired by the sacred places he visits and the remnants of an ancient America he discovers. Seeing the Grand Canyon through his eyes was an adventure in itself.

As Banick ages and his thirst for adventure grows, we accompany him to South American rain forests, the mountains of Nepal and Africa, the Outback of Australia, and the amazing topography of New Zealand. We meet the fascinating characters he encounters in his travels, and walk each beach, see each ocean, climb mountains, suffer heat, cold, and biting insects with an uncommon realism. Just reading about his trek up Mt. Kilimanjaro, for example, left me breathless and exhausted. White water rafting on the Zambezi River frightened and exhilarated me, the reader, much as it did him.

But this book is not only about seeking first hand adventure in exotic locales. Readers also experience the social and cultural differences of people around the world. We learn how other cultures compare to our American way of life. And we learn that many of America's truths are not that "self-evident" to the citizens of other countries. Banick takes us not only to other continents, but to other dimensions, alternative realities. Sometimes it's a bumpy ride, but always an intriguing journey.

This book describes an inner and outer journey of body, mind, and spirit. Banick's exceptional writing style enhances the reading experience. I found a universal wisdom in his purpose for sharing these travels. The author hopes to help people understand and accept each other and their cultural differences. To that end, he's founded The Gulliver Project, committed to preparing tomorrow's leaders through positive intentions and actions. It seems that Stephen Banick is not only a gifted writer of exciting prose, but a visionary who puts his money, time, and experience into positive action. His book is thrilling, and highly recommended.

Evil Business
John F. Nienstedt
2021 Pine Lake Rd., Suite 100, Lincoln NE 68512
0595420567 $14.95

In this follow up to the popular See the Monkey, protagonist Norman Fuller battles evil in America's heartland. His career as a New York newspaper journalist is stalled. His Pulitzer nomination was heady stuff for awhile, but the prize went to someone else. His boss thinks Fuller has lost his journalistic edge and is sending him to Kansas City, of all places, in pursuit of the ultimate evil. Once again, the mysterious "Voice of Evil" that saved Fuller's life on 9/11 returns to reveal a conspiracy that threatens the lives of all Americans.

You don't have to be a conspiracy theorist to believe the truths uncovered in Fuller's investigation. The three powerful Midwestern CEO's in "the golden triangle" understand what buyers want and play to their customers zealously. The world wants cheap food that tastes good, easy meal preparation, and a quick fix to all problems. Past generations ate food fried in lard, ate sweets and butter. They lived through unbelievable hardships yet faced life with hope. The questions Fuller must answer in his investigative report are: Why is our generation paralyzed by depression, obesity, and high cholesterol? Could the answers be hidden in the foods we eat? Do we worry excessively about terrorist attacks when we should be worrying about the foods we put in our mouths? Are political donations more important to the government than the health of citizens? Fuller's life and career are on the line as he follows clues from Kansas City to a tiny Utopian village. The truths he reveals are frightening to consider.

Evil Business is a book of fiction based on a premise made scarier because it's probably true. The plot is fast paced and exciting, the characters believable, and Nienstedt's writing style exceptional. This thriller has "movie" written all over it.

Laurel Johnson
Senior Reviewer

Shelley's Bookshelf

A Habit for Death
Chuck Zito
Midnight Ink
c/o Llewellyn Publications
2143 Wooddale Drive, Dept., Woodbury, MN 55125
0738708364 $14.95

Chuck Zito is a theater professional with a lifetime of experience who graduated from Carnegie Mellon University. He presently lives in New York City. A HABIT FOR DEATH is his debut mystery, with more Nicky D'Amico mysteries in the offing.

Nicky D'Amico thought a summer job in theater at St. Gilbert's College in rural Pennsylvania would be a great escape from the heat of Manhattan and the craziness of New York. He is hired as a stage manager for an awful script, Convent of Fear. As if that isn't bad enough, the cast is constantly fighting, and Nicky soon discovers that in this small town they are almost all related. When one of the stars of the show, Sister Sally, dies on stage of bizarre causes even as the protesters outside continue their Twilight Zone activities, it seems that only the visage of David Scott, Nicky's fantasy come true, could save the day. Two of Nicky's friends from New York, Paolo and Roger, arrive in the midst of their lover's spat to spice things up even further:

"'This is the worst caesar salad I've ever had,' Roger said.
'Who orders caesar at a family restaurant in backwater Pennsylvania?' Paolo snapped. Then, to David, 'Nothing personal, of course. Lovely place. Really.'
'Oh, you didn't offend me. I can't wait to leave. I'm off to New York myself when the summer is over.'
'Really?' I said.
'Yup. You know, Nicky, we should make sure and exchange—'"

Zito scores big time with this impressive first effort. The story is well plotted, blocked, and the characters are absolutely hilarious. Chuck Zito's intimate knowledge of the theater creates the perfect backdrop for this zany story. There are so many subplots that the reader is kept laughing almost nonstop. A HABIT FOR HEATH is wonderfully thought out, and the reader is immediately drawn to Nicky's plight. The dreadful play implodes, there is more murder and mayhem, and Nicky's fantasy continues to elude him and us. An excellent first effort!

Murder Loves Company
John Mersereau
The Rue Morgue Press
87 Lone Tree Lane, Lyons, CO 80540
0915230690 $14.95

Written around the 1939 Golden Gate Exposition, this John Mersereau murder first published this mystery in 1940. There was another mystery written for the world's fair on the east coast, MURDER AT THE NEW YORK WORLD'S FAIR by Phoebe Atwood Taylor, aka Freeman Dana. Mersereau was originally a pulp magazine writer with two adventure novels to his credit. The Golden Gate Exposition was held at Treasure Island, built by the Army Corps of Engineers. The most prominent feature of the Expo was the Tower of the Sun, which looked like an automobile ornament. Mersereau himself was born in Michigan, but grew graduated from Oakland High School after his family relocated to California. Mersereau enrolled at UC- Berkeley on three separate occasions. He had a varied life, selling two novels for movies, losing his money in the crash of 1929, and inheriting money from his parents. He had a successful writing career until the pulps fell out of favor, whereupon he worked as dispatch for the California Highway patrol. Mersereau also built one of his homes by himself.

James Yeats Biddle is a professor of horticulture who has never fallen in love. His sports car is named Xantippe and serves as the means for him to meet Kay Ritchie, a young reporter who hitches a ride to a women's group meeting at which Biddle happens to be the featured speaker. They witness a bizarre accident on the Bay Bridge which looks suspicious to Biddle. But he is involved in the Golden Gate Expo as a consultant in charge of ancient olive trees that have been transplanted onto the grounds. Two of the trees die of the same poisonous gas that killed one of the accident victims, and Biddle and his new love Kay engage in their own sleuthing detail, which involves some varied and interesting characters:

"But because the byline was Kay Ritchie, and because her particular brand of split infinitives had a peculiar charm for him, James became positively concerned over poor Princess Tania's loss of her St. John. The martyr had reposed clandestinely in her suitcase, the princess reported, until last night."

Mersereau's sweet little tale of murder and mayhem nicely incorporates the fair; the ocean; some Russian royals; a greedy multimillionaire; and James Biddle's first love (of the split infinitives) to produce an engrossing and satisfying whodunit.

Blood Image
Pat Booth-Lynch
Xlibris Corporation
International Plaza II, Suite 340, Philadelphia, PA 19113
1413497667 $22.99

Corporate business tycoon Pat Booth-Lynch is an apparel company owner with a taste for exotic travel, writing stunning thrillers, and constantly expanding her horizons. She is an adventure junky who no doubt has the energy of several people and a lust for life that would make Van Gogh proud. At the moment she is a Florida resident, with a grown-up daughter and son-in-law. Her apparel company is called Ease-On.

BLOOD IMAGE continues the story of BLOOD PEARLS. Madelyn Duval, ex-CIA agent, is now ecstatically married to the talented artist Cheng Gao. They have a three-year-old daughter, Lyn, and own a place in the resort playground of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. The story opens with Cheng opening his first major art show in Seattle. Madelyn receives a cryptic message from Cheng's half-brother, Xiong, stating that he intends to "find them." Unbeknownst to Cheng, Xiong brutally raped Madelyn years before. Madelyn rushes home in a Wisconsin blizzard, and in her panic leaves the garage door open to her house. Sure enough, Lyn is kidnaped, and Madelyn is brutally attacked by the kidnappers when she tries to follow. The tale quickly evolves into a string of mishaps, sudden deaths, murders, and much angst as Detective Kenya Wilde (also a victim of a daughter being kidnaped and murdered) tries to help locate the child, who needs antibiotics. Luckily Kenya receives some help from her CIA friend and would-be suitor Jack, who is also an old co-worker and friend of Madelyn's:

"You are indeed, and if things don't start to improve with the sheriff's group and the FBI, don't worry I may be leaning on that you're here. Lyn needs antibiotics, you know. I can't tell you how frustrated I am. I've never felt so helpless. My baby's out there somewhere with a maniac, and I can't do anything about it. I've always been in control, but I'm losing it."

BLOOD IMAGE operates in the powerful world of the CIA investigating smuggling operations. Booth-Lynch gives the tale her usual International flair with plenty of romance; intrigue; some tragedy; and the ultimate victory over impossible odds. BLOOD IMAGE is a page turner that refuses to be put down once the reader has stepped inside of its pages. Booth-Lynch has produced another blockbuster, and this reviewer can't wait for the next installment! Another five star effort from a talented and fascinating author.

No Mortal Reason
Kathy Lynn Emerson
Pemberley Press
PO Box 1027, Corona del Mar, CA 92625
0977191346 $17.95

Kathy Lynn Emerson's thirty-third Diana Spaulding novel is written with an eye towards Emerson's own roots. Ms. Emerson writes in several different genres, including romance, mystery, and children's books. She has also written historical mysteries.

When Diana Spaulding and her fiancé, Dr. Ben Northcote decide to make their way back to Maine for their upcoming wedding, Diana wants to stop in Sullivan County, New York, to look up relatives she has never known. Her mother, Elmira Grant Torrence, had been disowned by her family after running off with Diana's now deceased father. They look up the Grants in Lenape Springs, only to find that the hotel Diana's family owns has been the victim of speculation; arson; and murder. Diana and Ben are caught up in what happened to the victim, whose ten year old skeleton is found under the hotel. Diana's boss, Horatio Foxe, wants her to write copy about the murder for his paper. However, Ben just wants Diana to marry him:

"Ben sat forward, resting his elbows on his knees, and let his hands dangle loosely between them. The telegram, now sadly crumpled, fell to the carpet. For a time, he stared, unseeing, at the pattern of roses on the rug, wondering if Diana would ever be free of her sense of obligation to Horatio Foxe. In a marriage, the wife was supposed to obey her husband in all things. It was right there in the wedding vows. What a pity he could not simply forbid her all further contact with her editor."

Diana Spaulding is an independent woman who has been burned by one marriage and is determined not to repeat the mistake. Ben Northcote is a well-meaning doctor who wants nothing more than to settle down with his wife. This sets up the perfect conflict which, adding in a strange family background and murder, makes for an excellent plot and fun reading. Ms. Emerson used real life historical figures to spice up the tale, as well as considerable research into the area in 1888. She also relied on her grandfather's memoirs to fire her imagination. NO MORTAL REASON is a clearly written historical thriller that informs and entertains the reader. Diana Spaulding is a formidable heroine, with a stubborn streak that adds spice to this page turner. An excellent addition to Ms. Emerson's considerable catalog of books!

Shelley Glodowski
Senior Reviewer

Shirley's Bookshelf

The Target
Dee Sullivan
Jericho Faith Publishing
322 East Walnut Street, Manly, IA 50456
0978600509 $12.99

In this outstanding book by author Dee Sullivan we are introduced to characters that have their lives intertwined to form a heart-gripping tale. We meet Kathy, a young girl with her entire life before her who is struck down with cancer leaving a loving boyfriend behind named William and her father Michael, who would be a strong tower in days ahead. We also meet the Dawson family, wife Karen, husband Kyle and little daughter Anna. A family that loved each other but lacked stability of finances and to relieve the pressure that Karen felt she found herself involved in a dangerous affair with a man named, Greg Mercer. Greg was not the type of man any sane woman would want around. Spoiled, self-centered, abusive, and totally absorbed in destruction he was about to destroy this family.

Karen works at a bank and Greg decides to use her inside information to successfully rob it. At first Karen sees this as perhaps an adventure, surely no one will get hurt, but when things go array her life and those she loves turns into a nightmare. Soon murder occurs and this event leaves little 5-year old Anna as the sole witness to this crime and one that this killer must silence. Will Anna end up as the victim did? William first encountered Anna at a construction site where little Anna loved to go to play, this at first you feel is deadly but the relationship that builds between little Anna and William may well be what saves her life.
You hold your breath as you realize, time is running out !

Author Dee Sullivan has written a work that takes you on an emotional ride into the mind of her characters and allows you to live the story through their eyes. She sculptures each one, detailing their deep inner self, splashing before your eyes the very heart of their motives and actions. Her characters have diverse personalities and are of different moral levels keeping the storyline alive and vibrant as she skillfully weaves the Christian theme within the story in a way that it is not overpowering yet visible and does not in anyway take from the adventure and suspense of this read. Good job! "The Target," is a fast paced suspense thriller that will have you turning the pages in anticipation as the seconds tick away bringing death closer and closer. Great book! Recommended!

The Success Effect
John Eckberg
Sterling & Ross Publishers
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY
0976637243 $22.95

I wondered when I first approached this book how well I could do a review since I was not sure if the contents would even hold my attention. I am a simple person and at my age perhaps not one that would be going forth to be a success in business, but I was pleasantly surprised by what I found.

You see, this is a book that is chock full of information that can be used in many areas of one's life, not just in business. The wisdom given and life lessons learned and shared, can be implemented in dreams both large and small in one's own life. Between the pages of this book our author, John Eckberg, compiles for us interviews of some of the most successful business people in the world. His questions are straight forward and asked in such a way that they actually bring the person to answer in a down-to-earth way that is both informative and at times down-right entertaining and always interesting. We hear from names like Donald Trump to Jerry Springer and we even get a little glimpse into their personal tastes with the injection of little sections such as, Books on The Nightstand, and CD's In The Changer.

I have to say this was a really interesting book, written in a free-flowing style, candid and alive and one that you will find some real gems of information to help you succeed in your heart's quest in life.

Crimson Hall
Jane Shoup
Whiskey Creek Press
PO Box 51052, Casper, WY 82605
9781593746707 $12.95

In this outstanding book our author, Jane Shoup, tells the story of the Barrett family, owner of Crimson Hall built in 1742 in North Carolina and home for centuries of this family of old money. Told through the eyes of a devoted servant we are taken on a tour of the home and introduced to the generation that now occupies the Hall and given history of the past.

The now occupant and colorful character, Mr. Barrett, is on his fourth wife, Barbara who is with child, but their relationship is strained as Barbara wonders if the Barrett curse will befall her and her unborn child and they too will die. You see, Mr. Barrett has lost his former wives to sad circumstances allowing a cloak of doom to rest over his former wife and their home. You are introduced to his three other children, twin girls of whom one is deaf and dumb from the same illness that took her mother's life and another the oldest, Felicity, from another wife.

As the servant tells of the past and present, you are swept into the life of Mr. Barrett his passions, his losses and his family. You see the mind of the present Mrs. Barrett grab hold of fears, act upon them and cause her destruction. You become familiar with the twins, Grace and Amelia; their mischievous ways and the supernatural bond and secrets they share. You will behold the passion of the young Felicity as she matures to a woman, becomes a wife,and a victim of abuse, causing an act to be committed that will shake yet bond the family forever. And you see a love bloom between two people, after much soul searching and tribulation, that unites in a way that only God can do.

Crimson Hall is truly a story of life lived, both good and bad. It touches upon human emotions and the actions that they produce bringing consequences that span generations. Written in such a way, the story shows life brings both tragedy and joy and both must be addressed and pressed through, as individuals and as a family. It is both touching and disturbing, realistic and fanciful; it is a story of one families challenges between each other and the world they live in, their struggle to overcome, and the hope for a better tomorrow. I laughed and I was saddened, rejoiced and sighed as I shared in their lives. A wonderful book from beginning to end and one I recommend. Another winner for author Jane Shoup; well done!

Ageless Spine, Lasting Health
Kathleen Porter
Synergy Books
2100 Kramer Lane, Suite 300, Austin, Texas 78758
1933538406 $24.95

I have to tell you this book was a real eye-opener in so many ways. The entire concept of this book is to show us how we have fallen into wrong alignment of our body. I know that sounds uninteresting and confusing but believe me this book is neither. Our author, Kathleen Porter, explains the proper alignment our body should be in and how we lost it through the years. She goes into detail of the harm this has done to us and how it has contributed to allowing much pain within us and also the many problems of the bow look as we age, and that is just a few of the many problems improper alignment can bring. She uses words that are easy to understand in her explanations, shows pictures that will blow your mind away and gives us many ways to help our body get back in the correct alignment.

It amazed me in one part of the book where the author shows that a small woman had more strength than a muscle body builder and she explains how and why. I really liked this book and I have been sharing it with my family, several of whom are suffering from back problems. Don't get me wrong, it isn't just about correcting back problems but it's about overall improvement in our health. Give this book a try; I think you will find some incredible information that will definitely enhance your life.

My Dream of Heaven
Rebecca Ruter Springer
Harrison House
P.O. Box 35035, Tulsa Oklahoma 74153
1577944704 $14.99

In this work we are taken on a journey to Heaven with Rebecca Rutter Springer as she lingers between life and death.Rebecca details her time in this wonderful place, with her family and friends. She tells of the beauty and peace that fill every corner of Heaven; the joy and love that binds every person with their Creator, and the excitement of seeing the untold wonders that every believer in Christ will partake of. I smiled when animals were revealed, for truly I have know that our Creator loves all that He has created and it brought me great peace to know we would be in a place where we could still enjoy the animals.

I have read and enjoyed many books from those who have visited our future home and with each one I have added to my heart the great expectation of the unspeakable joys that await me, and this work has reinforced the knowledge within my spirit of those wonders. Death hurts, but the comfort of knowing what awaits us or a loved one who is a believer in Christ cushions the blow. If we could only understand death is but a gate-way to an existence where there is no more pain, no more tears and unspeakable joy, that fear would torment us no more. Yes, we would still miss the departing soul but we would know, through works such as this, that their joy is complete and we will see them again.

My Dream of Heaven is a book that will comfort your soul and bring hope for your future. It just doesn't get any better than that.

Between The Rows
Ray Paul
Author House
1663 Liberty Drive Suite 200, Bloomington, IN 47403
1425976262 $16.95

I was happy to be asked to review Ray Paul's newest work, "Between The Row," with our beloved character George Konert.I first met George in Mr. Paul's work, "Cabbage Requiem." In this work George has settled in with his new wife Catherine and their relationship is absolutely priceless. George is still tending his garden with the help of the three children down the street, but tragedy will strike in a way within that family that will shatter all their worlds and change them forever.

The storyline also takes us into the relationship's that George and Catherine have with his and her children and grandchildren. Sound boring? Think again. The author makes the characters so alive that you feel as if you have known them all your life and you quickly become involved in every emotional aspect of their lives, good and bad. George is ever present with his wit and wisdom and his down-to-earth outlook which he freely will give to those who ask, and those who don't.

I think what I have found so endearing about the books with character George Konert is that he could well be our father, neighbor or friend and it is so easy to relate and almost be comforted by him. Again, the story is about life, about living, about dying and about savoring everyday in-between. George Konert is a character that brings to light what living is all about. I highly recommend this read; it's just a great book and you don't want to miss it.

Ask For The Ancient Paths
Jessica Jones
Xulon Press
2180 West State Road 434, Suite 2140, Longwood, FL 32779
1600341810 $19.95

I sit quietly at my desk humbly praying for the words that this reviewer may bring to you concerning the work, "Ask For The Ancient Paths," by author Jessica Jones.

As those of you who follow my reviews know, I am not new to reading and reviewing books concerning visions, dreams and directions from God. I have been privileged to read many that have warmed my heart and increased my faith, and I will be forever grateful for each of them for the encouragement and growth they have given to me. However, the words within this book took me on a journey that I never dreamed possible .It is not a small thing for me to say that I truly was not prepared for the revelation that was to be unfolded to me in this work. Revelation that would allow me to see deep into the heart of God, the beginning of time, the creation and fall of man, the depth of deception in Lucifer, the wondrous role of Angels and the deep penetrating, undying love that the Godhead has for mankind. It was literally breathtaking revelations that opened my eyes to more mysteries in the spiritual realm in the few hours it took me to read this book than in the almost 30 years of ministry that I have partaken of. And when I say this, understand that I have indeed seen my share of the miraculous, visions and miracles, heard deep secrets of the spirit and seen the hand of God mightily move.

Author Jessica Jones opens her heart to her readers, laying bear before them her own beginnings, heartaches, and trauma's in life that took her years to overcome until she realized her calling from her Creator. To me, she is a woman who is well aware that she will be held accountable to God for every word that she speaks or writes and is ever careful to follow the call of the Lord. I know that with any vision there are always areas that some may call gray, but our author has done everything she can to give the reader either Scriptural references or scientific data concerning her visions. You may not agree with everything you will read in this book, but I am pretty sure when you are finished you will be given to much thought and soul searching for a very long time. I highly recommend this book as a Minister of the Gospel, a reviewer, and just someone who was searching for some answers for a long time and finally found them.

Interview with Jessica Jones, author of "Ask For The Ancient Paths."

I have to tell you when I finished reading "Ask For The Ancient Paths," I knew I had to interview the author of this book. As a Christian I found the information intense, informative and if I may say, amazing, (see review in this column.) As I sit here now to transcribe this interview for you, the reader, I believe you will meet a woman for who is much like her book, informative and amazing. Let's begin.

Shirley: Jessica, I want to thank you for taking the time to do this interview with me. Let's start with me asking you if, "Ask For The Ancient Paths," was your first book.

Jessica: This is my second book; my first was a physiological thriller. The book was basically the trauma of my life made into a story. It took me 21/2-years to write this book and unfortunately the publisher did not fulfill his end of the commitment and I never saw a cent of the sales.

Shirley: Yes, unfortunately I have heard many horror stories about publishers. I am sorry your first experience with a publisher turned out this way, however it is apparent that this did not detour you in writing "Ask For The Ancient Paths." I understand this book was written from a vision you received from the Lord? Could you tell us about that?

Jessica: Yes, I was watching television one evening and the Lord spoke to me and said, " I'm going to show you a mystery; The Ten commandments are written upside down," and from that moment for the next four years I was in vision almost 24/7. It only took me 21/2 months to write my second book, however it took me two years to go through it step by step and ask the Lord what was the next part because I did not get the vision chronologically. I also had to do the research as well because it was so unusual that I wanted to check the facts, not only Scriptural, but also archeologically, history and other areas that I needed to in order to verify what I had seen. I found the verifications that I needed were all there.

Shirley: Yes, that is what impressed me so much was the documentation of your vision. May I ask you what was the main obstacle that you faced when you were writing this book? Was it the spiritual realm or perhaps people that you know who were against it?

Jessica: I was so excited about this book. The vision itself blew me away but what truly amazed me was the research; every time something was verified I was so incredibly excited. I found however, that because of the gift God has given me, I'm not as accepted by many of the traditional church leaders. They were perhaps my main obstacles.

Note: Jessica is under her church leadership and she does share with her Pastor the visions that she receives. The Holy Spirit has spoken to him that Jessica indeed has the Spirit of Truth.

Shirley: Jessica, do you feel that God gave you this gift before you were born knowing you would use it to educate the Body of Christ in Spiritual things?

Jessica: Yes, I believe we have these gifts before we are born. I do believe that every one of us is asked before we are born if we would accept what He wants to do through us on the earth. Unfortunately some are waylaid and do not fulfill this calling but yes, the gifts that we are given are given without repentance and are ours to do with what we want. That is why we have so many singers, writers, and dancers, etc. because they have been given these gifts but most do not use them for God.

Shirley: Thank you Jessica, that certainly was interesting. Now may I ask you about your family and friends; did you have support from others concerning this book?

Jessica: God has given me some wonderful friends that truly support me and all that I do with the Lord.

Shirley: Thank God for that and for them. May I ask you this, when you were ready for publication of your second book did you seek after a traditional publisher?

Jessica: No! The reason I did not is that an author gets around sixty-cents per book and the average author sells between 50 and 100 books. You are lucky if you sell 500, which would put you one step above and if you sell 1,000 that is pretty well the max of a good maximum sell. I believe at sixty-cents a book it is not worth my time writing it so I self-published and now I am about to open my own publishing house, Quiddity Press.
Shirley: That is really wonderful, will that be just for your own books or will you accept submissions from other Christian authors? If so, when do you believe this will come to pass?

Jessica: Well, I suppose we will be opening it up to other authors as well; I would say around the month of May.

Shirley: That is wonderful as you will be able to hear the Spirit of the Lord to know which books He would have you published.

Jessica: Yes! And Quiddity Press.………… means, what it is, is what it is.

Shirley: I like that.

Jessica: Yes, how much more meek can you get?

Shirley: Thank you Jessica for that information. Now let me ask you, for a Spiritual book what avenues have you taken in promotion?

Jessica: Well, I did something's that didn't work out. I lost some money by putting it on different sites that promised many things but did not deliver and sold no books. I did radio interviews and unfortunately out of all the paper and radio stations that I supplied my book to only one opened the book and read it. Not one other person ever opened it. I'll never do that again.

I sent over 1,000 postcards to Christian bookstores, and have received some sales through that. I did the Elijah list as well. (The Elijah List is a Christian website that sends out timely prophetic words and offers Christian books, tapes, etc.,)

My book is different than most Christians have come to accept because they just can't stretch their spirits enough to understand. My book goes into realms that are uncomfortable for them; it makes God a real personage, it makes the angels a real personage and people just can't handle that. They want to believe God in an untouchable area, the angels as untouchable. People are quite happy to strive their whole lives trying to get acceptable by God but that's not what it's about and this book says basically the angels are the same as we are. They don't have the same calling or place, we don't have theirs, they don't have ours, but they are real just like us.

Shirley: I love that; to me, it makes God and Heaven more real. If we are going somewhere to live for eternity we should certainly want to know about it and also who will be there.

Jessica: Yes, we have an eternity of life to live and God has so much more to create. He has not even lifted a baby finger of creation.

Shirley: I can only imagine. Now, let me ask you do you have an agent? Do you belong to any writing groups?

Jessica: No, I had an agent once but it didn't work out for me and I do not belong to any writing groups.

Shirley: When you are writing do you have a favorite spot that inspires you.

Jessica: I do my writing in my bedroom. I basically write in bed. I use my laptop and it just pours out of me and I'm always surprised what comes forth.

Shirley: Jessica would you tell us a little about the next book you will be releasing?

Jessica: The next book, which of course also comes from a vision as all my books do, will be called "Sons of God." It will have attributes of the Sons of God, but it's not that we need to attain to it as much as we already have it; we just don't let it be known because we are afraid of it. The entire book is from God's point of view that we are Sons of God. It should be released in July or early August.

Shirley: That sounds really interesting; I look forward to reading it. Now, let me ask you, do you read books?

Jessica: No, all of my research is done on the Internet. Also, the Lord told me one of the reasons I don't read a lot of books is that what comes out of my pen and out of my mouth must not be tainted by anyone else; it is a purity defense.

Shirley: I certainly understand that. Jessica, would you tell us how you would rate being a published author in comparison to other accomplishments in your life.

Jessica: Very satisfactory, and what is so neat about it is that I can move on to the next thing.

Shirley: Tell me, do you write everyday?

Jessica: No, I write my visions as I see them and my Editor takes it from there.

Shirley: Now, on the back cover of your book your hair is blue. Would you like to tell us about that?

Jessica: Interesting that you said that; I don't know. I woke up one day and dyed my hair blue and the reason for that is the color blue means revelation; my hair being blue is a symbol of the revelation coming into me. In my new book, "The Son's of God," my hair will be purple in my picture on the back of the book.

Shirley: Wow! That is something. Now concerning your book, "Ask For the Ancient Paths," can they find this at bookstores?

Jessica: Yes, it is in some bookstores, also on the Internet on Amazon and Barnes and Noble and they may purchase it from my website as well.

Shirley: It says on your website that anyone who purchases a book may ask for a vision is this correct?

Jessica: Yes, I will do that for them if they order from my site and ask me for one.

Shirley: I understand that you are now going places to minister is this correct?

Jessica: Yes, I am for cost and offering.

Shirley: Jessica is there anything you would like to tell our readers about yourself or you book. Any final thoughts you would like to leave with them?

Jessica: The main reason that I write is to bring people to repentance and restoring their relationship with God because that is His desire. As many people cry out and say, I want to see God, I want to know God, I want a relationship with God; He is crying out even greater than they. That is why we were created for that relationship and we just don't have it yet.

Shirley: Thank you Jessica!

I want to thank Jessica for allowing me to do this interview with her. I have to say it was one of the most enjoyable ones I have done in a long time. I found Jessica to be a wonderful Godly woman who I am very happy that I have come to know. Her book, " Ask For The Ancient Paths," was a real eye-opener to me, and although some I'm sure will strongly come against the information it contains I say to each one of you that reads it, let God quicken your heart to the truth; be open to His Spirit. Again, thank you Jessica for doing this interview with me and I pray that you continue to allow God to love us through you.


Jessica Jone's Website:
Elijah List:

Shirley Johnson
Senior Reviewer

Taylor's Bookshelf

One Came Back
Maureen D. Slagle, compiler
Vantage Press, Inc.
419 Park Ave. South, New York, NY 10016
0533152925 $18.95 1-212-736-1767

Compiled by the wife of the author, One Came Back: The Memoirs of Edwin L. Slagle is the true-life memoir of a man who, despite his own exemption from the draft, volunteered for the United States Air Force after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941. He was assigned as a B-29 pilot even though he had no multi-engine flying time, and survived a harrowing and brutal war, up to and including his participation in a May 1945 attack upon Tokyo. Though extremely brief - only a scant forty pages - One Came Back is a vivid first-person testimony of the dangers, exhilaration, and trauma of war, offering a keen insider's perspective into aerial conflicts that shaped human history. Highly recommended.

Stem Cells Saved My Life
Bernard Van Zyl
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200, Bloomington, IN 47403
1425960286 $21.95 1-800-839-8640

Stem Cells Saved My Life: How to Be Next is the true-life story of author Bernard Van Zyl, who suffered from severe heart disease that could not be brought under control by conventional surgery or therapy. Yet an FDA-approved clinical trial transformed his life - adult stem cells were harvested from his own body, and used to bolster the strength of his heart, transforming him from a dying invalid and giving him a new leash on life. Stem Cells Saved My Life does more than tell his story; it presents what he has learned about stem cell treatments, FDA-approved clinical trials for stem cell therapies that are currently helping thousands of people, and advice for readers who may be in need concerning how to locate and get into such clinical trials. Written in plain terms for readers of all backgrounds, Stem Cells Saved My Life discusses adult, embryonic, fetal, and umbilical cord stem cells, and is enthusiastically recommended for its inspirational message to never give up hope to anyone struggling with a medical problem that can potentially be helped through stem cell treatment.

Where Did This Come From?
Larry Nocella
International Plaza II, Suite 340, Philadelphia, PA 19113
1425713815 $20.99

Written by Larry Nocella, the former editor-publisher of the award-winning magazine "Question Everything Challenge Everything", Where Did This Come From? is a novel embodying today's modern consumer dilemmas. Set in the fictional South American nation of Palagua, Where Did This Come From? features the struggle for survival among members of the Huapi tribe. When a major American manufacturer discovers a rare and beautiful crystal on the Huapi's sacred land, mining operations commence; as the popularity of so-called "Crystal Clay" increases, the Huapi and the jungle that supports them teeter on the brink of annihilation, all due to the insatiable demands of legions of buyers who never thought to ask "Where did this product come from?" Though the precise events in Where Did This Come From? are fictional, its overall message is all too real and directly relevant in today's market flooded with goods made by child labor, produced with ecologically destructive practices, or even used to directly finance murder and terror (such as "blood diamonds"). Highly recommended.

Brian Allen Levine
Trafford Publishing
2333 Government Street, Suite 6E, Victoria, BC, Canada, V8T 4P4
142510620X, $24.50 1-888-232-4444

It's 1938 and English actor Abe Goldstein is offered the chance to star in a movie. The problem is the movie is to be shot in Germany – and the Nazi's have started their campaign against Jews that includes humiliations, discriminations, round-ups, and eventually – the death camps. "Julies" is a novel that begins in pre-war London, continues with the conditions of Nazi Germany, and culminates in the Hollywood of the 1960s. A highly recommended addition to community library fiction collections and personal reading lists, this is story of obsession, survival, love, and the movies. Brian Allen Levine is an novelist who writes with originality and an engaging style that is as entertaining as it is compelling from beginning to end.

John Taylor

Vogel's Bookshelf

The Comfort Of Home
Maria M. Meyer & Paula Derr
CareTrust Publications
c/o RES Marking Alliance
1927 Michigan Drive, Kissimmee, FL 34759
0966476778, $24.95

Now in a newly and substantially revised and expanded third edition, "The Comfort Of Home: A Complete Guide For Caregivers" continues to earn its reputation as the 'bible' for providing home caregivers to aged, ill or handicapped loved ones with a thoroughly 'user friendly' illustrated guide that covers everything necessary from daily living tasks to preparations for hospice care, to making funeral arrangements. This is a complete and superbly organized, 216-page, comprehensive 'how to' manual that will help the caregiver to develop their skills, expertise, and confidence, which will in turn enhance their peace of mind with respect to the quality of life they helping to afford their charge. Also available in a Spanish language edition, "The Comfort Of Home: A Complete Guide For Caregivers" is a 'must' for anyone having responsibility for helping another to continue to live in their home, prepare them for having to move into an extended care facility, or to help make final arrangements. Three other outstanding and highly recommended specialized manuals for professional home care from CareTrust Publications include: "The Comfort Of Home For Parkinson Diseases: A Guide For Caregivers" (09566476778, $24.95); "The Comfort Of Home For Stroke: A Guide For Caregivers" (0966476786, $24.95); and "The Comfort Of Home Multiple Sclerosis Edition: An Illustrated Step-by-Step Guide For Multiple Sclerosis Caregivers" (096647676X, $24.95).

Gunsmoke: An American Institution Celebrating 50 Years of Television's Best Western
Ben Costello
Five Star Publications, Inc.
4696 West Tyson Street, Chandler, AZ 85226
1589850149, $75.00

In "Gunsmoke: An American Institution Celebrating 50 Years of Television's Best Western", author Ben Costello has provided the legions of fans for America's most popular and long-running television western series with an exhaustive compendium showcasing and celebrating all twenty seasons (comprising a total of 635 episodes) of Matt Dillion and his many friends and foes. Profusely illustrated with literally hundreds of photos about what went on both in front and in back of the cameras, "Gunsmoke" covers the major cast members, as well as the producers, writers and directors, and features an especially insightful interviews with Dennis Weaver, Buck Taylor, and Burt Reynolds. There are even sections featuring Dean Martin Celebrity Roast Highlights; reminisces of distinctive guest stars; Gunsmoke memorabilia, the post-television series Gunsmoke films, and so very much more. A certain to be popular addition to any community library American Popular Culture collection, "Gunsmoke" is a 'must read' for anyone who grew up with Matt Dillion, Miss Kitty, Doc, Chester, Festus, and all the other denizens of Dodge City and the Old West.

An Italian American Odyssey
B. Amore
Center for Migration Studies
209 Flagg Place, Staten Island, NY 10304
Fordham University Press (dist.)
2546 Belmont Avenue, University Box L, Bronx, NY 10458-5172
157703046X $24.95 1-800-247-6553

Written by acclaimed artist and educator B. Amore, An Italian American Odyssey: Through Ellis Island and Beyond is not just a single person's memoir - it is the collective memoir of seven generations of an Italian-American family, chronicling the story of their journey to America. Full color photographs and collages are displayed on almost every other page of the English-language first half of the compendium; the second half presents an Italian translation of the English text, though without the photographs. The text is not a single continuous text, but rather an eclectic selection of vignettes, first-person testimonies, letters, insights, diaries, and much more. An Italian American Odyssey is a treasure to be savored a few pages at a time or all at once, and a wondrous window into the difficult yet often rewarding task of adapting to new challenges.

Harbor Journal Vol. 1
Sarah Sherman McGrail, et. al.
Cozy Harbor Press
PO Box 385, Southport, ME 04576
0965592537 $18.95

Published Sarah Sherman McGrail, Harbor Journal Vol. 1: A New Collection of Writing and Images by 37 Imaginative Mainers is a compilation of essays, nonfiction, poetry, art, black-and-white photography and sketches, fiction, book and movie reviews, and more from 37 creative Maine writers. Created especially to showcase Maine's modern-day talent, the writings each offer a different glimpse into the ups and downs of ordinary life, especially on the coast when the sea and the tides are an omnipresent part of the environment. A delightful smorgasbord from cover to cover. "Dear Mama": This battle is scaring me; / I am so afraid to die. / Mama, the fighting is constant. / I'm still not so old / that I can't cry. If my life / as one casualty is lost, / what great a difference / can it make? The country / will be safe at all costs, / one life given / for everyone's sake. But if I add / one more soul to the many souls, / are we at a stage of doom / that will destroy creation?

Good Daily Practices
Tom Schwartz
Leathers Publishing
4500 College Blvd., Overland Park, KS 66211
1585974129 $9.25

Good Daily Practices: Not Etiquette, Not Manners, Just Good Daily Practices is an easy-to-follow guide to simple practices of common courtesy that show respect for one's fellow human beings and ease interpersonal communication. Good Daily Practices surveys a wide number of beneficial habits to adopt for daily life, from useful talking and listening techniques ("Avoid talking about your health problems. Few other people will find them as interesting as you do") to gracious dining tips ("If in doubt about which utensils to use, watch others") to good telephone practices ("For a business call, there is never a time when you should not tell the person who answers the phone who you are, what company you represent, and why you are calling. That information must be the first thing out of your mouth") tipping habits ("Airports: If you use the skycaps to check your luggage at the curb, tip them $1 per bag"), and much more. A brief but solid primer to the most basic of positive social graces, highly recommended.

Paul T. Vogel

James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive
Oregon, WI 53575-1129
phone: 1-608-835-7937

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