* urban fantasy, especially kick-ass chicks
* fast-paced chase novels
* good bad guys and bad good guys
* something completely different-surprise me!
* a sense of humor, especially if it's weird and/or a bit twisted
Fortune Favors the Dead is a funny, character driven mystery written in a classic noir style, but with a twist. Our mystery is narrated by Willowjean Parker, aka Will, a young woman who ran away from home to join the circus when she was 15. It’s 1945 and Will finds herself in New York City working at a side job. Due to her knife-throwing skills, Will draws the attention of Lillian Pentecost, a famous private detective, and soon finds herself in Lillian’s employ. Ms. Pentecost is hired to investigate the death by crystal ball (definitely a unique weapon) of the Collins’ family matriarch at a séance gone really wrong…in a locked room. The “spiritual adviser” to Mrs. Collins is a mysterious medium who seems to have special powers.
Will is the narrator and star of this mystery. Ms. Pentecost may have the brains, but Will has the heart and soul to tell this story in such a gutsy, strait-shooting way that I just had to keep rooting for her to carry the day. Definitely for fans of strong female characters who lead the way, told in a classic noir style.
Welcome back to the Hollows. We have not visited witch-born demon Rachel Morgan and her crew in a while, so the preface of American Demon gives the reader a rundown of people, places and terms to either introduce or catch us up on the Cincinnati supernatural scene. I was happy to read that Rachel’s tough talking pixy partner Jenks is still at her side, as is adolescent gargoyle Bis. They are facing an increase in zombies in the ‘hood, some murders that are a bit strange in nature and a big demon peril to Rachel and her lover, elf born Trent. Trent is a political threat to others in power and a plot to kill him is putting everyone and everything Rachel loves in peril. But the cure may be even worse, like world-altering dangerous. What’s a demon to do? I was pulled into the Hollows world once again, and happy to be there.
Can you believe it’s the 50th or Golden Anniversary of J. D. Robb’s Eve Dallas series? Golden in Death sends New York detective Eve Dallas after killer who is sending a toxic airborne virus via a contaminated package. Pediatrician Kent Abner is the first victim. He seems like the epitome of a nice guy, so Eve begins to investigate his background. Another victim dies by the same gruesome virus and Eve now needs to find some connections between the victims fast! The Eve Dallas series is called futuristic suspense, but it’s solid policework that drives these mysteries. Well, that and Eve’s great outfits and killer boots perfectly suited for a kick-ass police detective.
This is a story of 6 best friends, senior girls in high school, who share a very special bond…magic. Their secret binds them close, and even more so when an accident involving magic causes a boy’s death. They try to make it right. Really, bring him back? Didn’t anyone read or at least see the movie Pet Sematary? So, naturally, consequences ensue. Their pursuit of some kind of resolution, however darkly amusing (or maybe macabre) these adventures, is not the real strength of the story. The heart of When We Were Magic is their closeness, loyalty, and friendship, despite insecurities, jealousy and some good old-fashioned lust/love. I think, or at least hope, that we all have had a best friend or two to share secrets, and although we can grow apart, our friends are still with us, influencing us as we mature. I have read all of Sarah’s books and have enjoyed them all. From hippo wranglers to a murder investigation at a school for mages, we can be sure to find unique and colorful characters within a Sarah Gailey book.
The author of the wonderful “hippo wrangler” stories is back with their first novel, a mystery with magic. P.I. Ivy Gamble is hired to investigate the macabre death of a faculty member at The Osthorne Academy of Young Mages. There are multiple problems with this case. First, her estranged twin sister Tabitha teaches at the academy. Second, Ivy has none of the magical talent that her sister possesses in abundance. And three, none of the other faculty know that Ivy has no magical abilities. Ivy goes forth with quiet determination to solve the case and somehow communicate with and reconnect with her sister. So what if there’s a cute guy she finds attractive and she has to lie to about her family history, magic talent…or lack of any. Ivy is struggling to solve this increasingly convoluted magical murder case, hoping to find love, and maybe even make peace with her sister and herself.
Although the blurb and cover photo on the book indicates that Forever and a Death was based on a possible James Bond story, it was rewritten by Westlake when the script was not chosen for a Bond film. Instead, he turned it into a wonderful espionage, chase thriller with bad guy businessman Richard Curtis seeking revenge on Hong Kong after Chinese rule was restored and he was no longer welcome there. He has hired engineer George Manville to create a method of leveling land on an island using a wave created by explosions. The first use of this technique is on an island to be developed into a resort. It will cause an oscillating wave that will turn the island, basically landfill and coral reefs, into “mud soup”. The results will make it easier and cheaper to develop. Because there is the possibility that the delicate coral reefs will be damaged, Planetwatch, an ecological guardian group, has sent a ship to try and stop the explosions. Kim Baldur of Planetwatch decides on her own to jump off their ship and put herself between the explosions and the reef in the hopes that Curtis will cancel the job. He doesn’t, of course, and she is caught in the explosion. Curtis reluctantly sends out a search party for her body, but she is found alive. He wishes she were dead, as it would cause bad publicity to be directed at his nemesis Planetwatch, so he plots to have her murdered. Enter hero George Manville. He rescues the girl and helps her escape. The chase has now begun, with Manville and Baldur trying to stop Curtis from carrying out his plans for the destruction of Hong Kong while also avoiding the hired guns chasing them. Since Curtis is a respected and powerful businessman, their first goal is to get someone, anyone, to believe them. Pick up this unexpected treat, Forever and a Death, because Donald Westlake was a great storyteller. You won’t be disappointed if you are looking for a fun, escapist thriller.
The basis for this story is a plan that our government came up in the early 1900’s to import hippos into the Louisiana rivers and marshlands to be bred for a possible meat source. Nevermind that they are ferocious creatures with very strong jaws, capable of killing a person pretty darned fast. Bad idea rejected. River of Teeth takes place in an alternate 1890’s America where feral hippos have run amok in the bayous. Professional hippo wranglers are hired to clear out a particular bayou where a gambling ship abides. The leader, Winslow Houndstooth, his faithful hippo Ruby, and his crew are on the job. Yes, we have man-eating hippo mayhem in the old west. The tame hippos are ridden rather like horses and can navigate the waterways so their riders can search for the deadly feral hippos and hopefully herd them away from populated areas. What ensues is a clever and violent caper, where Houndstooth and his crew are trying to make their fortune by taking on a very, very dangerous job. Just go ahead and suspend your disbelief. Your reward is a thoroughly enjoyable caper that comes with a big bite.
Lydia Smith works at the Bright Ideas Bookstore in an up-and-coming neighborhood in Denver. For those acquainted with this type of neighborhood, they know it means a population of homeless people are usually waiting at the door when the store opens. Lydia knows that some of the BookFrogs, as she calls them, like to hang around, feeling safe within Bright Ideas’ aisles. When Joey, one of the BookFrogs, commits suicide in the store and leaves his possessions to Lydia, she must unravel the clues left behind within the books, a hidden message that Joey left just for her. As Lydia follows the clues, she rediscovers a long-suppressed memory about her own unusual and violent childhood: a killer who was never caught, the obsessive cop assigned to the case, and her estranged father who may have information about her repressed memories. Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore is for readers who enjoy the idea of a mysterious death in a great location, their local bookstore, and clever clues left behind to unravel and keep the reader guessing until the end.
This recently discovered novel is based on the rivalry, known as the Bone Wars, between real-life paleontologists Edwin Cope and Otheniel Marsh and takes place in the 1876’s Wild West. Both are heading expeditions to the western territories, and William Johnson, a Yale student of privilege, decides to tag along with Marsh’s group after placing a bet with a rival student. The secretive and paranoid Marsh decides that William is a spy for Cope, and sneaks off, abandoning William in wild and wooly Cheyenne, Wyoming. William ends up joining Cope’s expedition. They make an astonishing discovery, a huge dinosaur skeleton and one enormous tooth. Rivalries are heating up as William attempts to hold on to the find (especially the giant tooth) while fending off the archeologist adversaries, Indians, thieves, and a famous Western character or two. William, once a rich and spoiled student, must grow up fast if he wants to stay alive and bring the bones home for scientific study. As usual, Michael Crichton did extensive research, turning Dragon Teeth into a fast-paced action, science, and history thriller any fan of his previous books (and movies, tv shows, etc.) will thoroughly enjoy. We are told that more manuscripts will be turned into novels, making Michael Crichton a best-selling author almost 10 years after his death.
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Crime boss Max has made crime pay. But he’s getting older and his doctor says to slow down. Max decides to close down the family business and take care of loose ends, including getting rid of anyone who knows too much. Meanwhile, actor Harry Murphy has to pee. He wanders into a restaurant only to be told to get lost. Harry goes around to the alley and does his business. Above him is an open window where Max and his family are talking about who needs to disappear for good. Harry overhears the discussion and decides to take action and warn their intended victim in London. And so, the chaos ensues, with Harry in a foreign country carrying a suitcase full of cash, a killer on the loose, a pretty girl who happens to be a British agent who is sort of helping Harry, and a series of unfortunate coincidences throwing monkey wrenches into the plans of the crooks, the cons, the dames, and the law. A darkly humorous chase novel reminiscent of Elmore Leonard and Donald Westlake.
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Lots of high tech details, action and adventure await the reader of Killfile. John Smith has a special gift where he can read people’s thoughts. Maybe this is a curse, not a blessing, since he can hear those pesky songs that go through your head and relive your most painful memories. A former valuable CIA agent, John now works freelance as a private consultant. His latest client is rich software genius Everett Sloan who hires John to check out a former employee for possible intellectual property theft. John’s identity becomes compromised and he finds himself on the run from unknown enemies. He, along with Sloan’s associate Kelsey Foster, goes off the grid where he can hopefully use his special skills to save himself and Kelsey, and also solve the mystery of the data that may or may not be stolen. For fans of the Preston and Child stories with Pendergast as well as James Rollins supernatural adventures.—Linda
A unique debut fantasy taking place in an alternate 1800’s England where magic seems to be on the wane and the new Sorcerer Royal need to fix it fast, if possible. Unfortunately, Zacharias Wythe will not be getting much help from his fellow members of The Royal Society of Unnatural Philosophers. You see, he’s the adopted son of the former Sorcerer Royal, a freed slave and definitely not a proper gentleman. Zacharias visits Mrs. Daubeney's School for Gentlewitches, a school for suppressing the spells caste by young ladies who have a proclivity for magic. There he meets Prunella Gentleman, a young woman who will change his life forever. Proper ladies do not practice magic as it is too much for their delicate minds and bodies. However, Prunella, an assistant at the school and an orphan whose heritage is also questionable (read “person of color”), has magical abilities far beyond any woman he has met before. She also has a dark secret involving some mysterious stones full of magic. Zacharias takes Prunella as an apprentice, intending to convince the Society to change their policies on women and magic. And so the fun begins! For those who like Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, a dash of Jane Austin, dragons, some vampires, and witches too-well, who doesn’t!
This sequel to The Ice Limit throws Gideon Crew into the mix. The Ice Limit tells the story of a massive meteorite discovered in the Antarctic and the attempt by an eccentric millionaire to salvage it. Well, that idea went to hell in a handbasket. Five years later a science team, with Gideon on board, are going to attempt to destroy this thing, not a meteorite but an organism from deep space, that is now rooted on the ocean floor and growing. Gideon is an expert with nuclear weapons, and along with other scientists, plan to use one-person manned subs to place devices designed to blow up the creature. Well, the best laid plans… Unfortunately for them, the alien creature is not cooperating but fighting back and it appears to be reproducing. It must be destroyed or we’re all doomed. Beyond the Ice Limit is a fast-paced, action packed thriller for fans of Michael Crichton and James Rollins. Reading Ice Limit first will help with the backstory, but is not necessary (I really liked it). –Linda
Arf is the sequel to Woof and continues the adventures of Bowser and Birdie. Bowser is still in charge of home front security for the Gaux family, so when there is a break-in, he starts the investigation to find the intruder with the stinky aftershave and even stinkier cat companion. No one knows why someone broke in, as nothing seems to be missing. Someone is also asking questions about Birdie’s father, a police officer killed several years ago, and the cold case involving his murder. Bowser knows he’s looking for a man with a strong limeade aftershave scent mixed with cat, but why can’t these humans, even Birdie, catch this trail of odors and help him out? If you’ve read Spencer Quinn’s Chet and Bernie series, then you know that the author speaks dog fluently and also writes a suspenseful mystery suitable for all ages.
Spencer Quinn has already proven that he has no trouble getting inside a dog’s head and providing a convincing voice with the Chet and Bernie mysteries. His new young adult series features the just adopted, slightly slobbery but handsome mutt Bowser and his new pal, eleven-year-old Birdie Gaux. When Birdie and her grandmother bring Bowser home to the family bait and tackle shop in the bayou, they find that their prize stuffed marlin is missing. Bowser and his powerful nose immediately sniff out a clue in the form of a cigar discarded by the dock. This sends Birdie and Bowser on the trail to danger. Narrated by Bowser, and similar to the mysteries as told by Chet the Jet, Woof is perfect for adults and kids who like dogs and mysteries. It helps to be easily convinced that our pooches know what’s going on, but are simply distracted by bacon and cats.
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I read the premise for this book and thought what a great idea – but will it live up to the hype? It does, it does! Bailey Chen is out of college and looking for work. She hooks up with an old high school friend who gets her a job as a bar back. When she accidentally mixes a drink from a secret stash of booze and then hits the streets, she discovers a demon prowling the dark alleys of Chicago; and the screwdriver she consumed gives her powers to fight this ugly monster. Yup, there is a secret society of bartenders, called ale-chemists, who take to the streets, fortified by spirits, to combat ugly demons. Last Call includes recipes for various mixed drinks with the history of the drink, spirits used, and powers given when the magical cocktail is mixed correctly. This is one of the most fun urban fantasies I have ever read, with a sharp, kick-ass heroine who faces demons, a pushy mom, a possibly unrequited love interest, and a plot to take over the world. You know you should be reading this with a tall, cool glass of your favorite libation close at hand. I can’t wait for the sequel
The sequel to Murder as a Fine Art, my favorite mystery of 2013, Inspector of the Dead brings back opium-eater Thomas De Quincey, his headstrong daughter Emily and Scotland Yard detectives Ryan and Becker. Based on real attempts to assassinate Queen Victoria, in Inspector of the Dead, a serial killer is targeting the upper crust of British society. With each victim, he leaves a note naming a person who previously attempted to assassinate Queen Victoria, implying she is the ultimate target. De Quincy isn’t the most likable character, nor do the British citizens respect him. Fighting his opium addiction and poor health, he, never the less, is able to look at the murder scenes with an unbiased and unique perspective, seeing beyond the prejudices of an upper-crust society where appearances are everything. Inspector of the Dead skillfully blends fact and fiction, re-creating 1855 Victorian London’s fog shrouded streets. As always, David Morrell’s impeccable research and gifted storytelling elevates Inspector of the Dead to the pinnacle of historical thrillers.
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As Raymond Chandler once wrote “Down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean, who is neither tarnished nor afraid.” It is the early 1950’s and Philip Marlowe is back walking the mean streets of Bay City, California. Benjamin Black (aka John Banville) is guiding the quintessential P.I. through a dangerous case involving a seductive young heiress, the black-eyed blonde. She hires him to find her former lover Nico Peterson. We know that the case is not going to be a simple search for a lover gone missing. As Marlowe begins his search, he starts to grasp how far the heiress and her rich Bay City family will go to protect their interests. Full of plot twists to satisfy the most discerning mystery reader, The Black-Eyed Blonde is a sharp, somewhat melancholy, yet compelling novel. To continue in Raymond Chandler’s words “The detective must be a complete man and a common man and yet an unusual man. He must be, to use a rather weathered phrase, a man of honor.” Benjamin Black’s Marlowe fits the bill. –Linda
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The latest winner of the Tony Hillerman Prize, Bad Country is a lean, mean, noir western mystery as harsh and dry as the remote corner of Arizona known to locals as "El Hoyo” where our hero, Rodeo Garnet lives. A former rodeo cowboy, Rodeo gets by as a private investigator, bounty hunter, and warrant server. Rodeo takes on a case involving an elderly Indian woman from his own Reservation who has hired him to help discover who murdered her grandson. Rodeo and his faithful old dog chase the twisted trail of clues in his trusty (and rusty) pick-up as he also tracks down information on related cases involving a series of murders, including one where the body was found in his own backyard. I suspect that fans of Craig Johnson and Michael McGarrity will want to check out Bad Country, making sure to have an icy beverage close by.
Helen and Troy head out on a road trip. Just your average all-American boy (nearly perfect in every way) and your awkward teenage girl (who is a minotaur) along with a three-legged dog embarking on a mission from an ancient god. Helen is worried because she will be so embarrassed to shed in Troy’s classic car or rip the roof with her horns and she can’t get cute shoes that fit her hooves to save her life! Troy is ever optimistic that all will work out in the end. He doesn’t know about the badass orc bikers on their trail. Or the various challenges they will face at every stop. You know, like a Cyclops and an enchanted Mystery Cottage. Fun as usual from one of my favorite authors. Guaranteed to bring a laugh or two or more!
Let me hear you say “Hooray, Chee and Leaphorn are back”. Tony’s daughter Anne takes up the mantle to bring a new perspective on a classic series. Chee’s wife, Navajo Nation Police Officer Bernadette (Bernie) Manualito, is a witness to a shooting and someone she knows is seriously wounded. Her husband, Sergeant Jim Chee, is put in charge of finding the shooter. So even though Bernie is ordered to step back, since she is a witness, you know she will be in the thick of this very personal investigation. Intrigue in the world of ancient Indian art and artifacts along with the atmospheric locale of Chaco Canyon add to the rich Southwestern atmosphere of Spider Woman’s Daughter. I am looking forward to the next Bernie adventure.
Hooray, Carl Hiaasen is back, bringing us a new Floridian tale of mayhem, greed corruption, voodoo, and a deranged monkey. Andrew Yancey is an ex-cop assigned to roach patrol, i.e. restaurant inspector, after being demoted for publicly assaulting his girlfriend’s husband with a vacuum cleaner hose. I won’t say what part of the anatomy was breached. He is asked by the local sheriff to take a severed arm to Miami for DNA testing. He now has the mauled arm in his freezer. The best-laid plans…Real estate monkey business, as well as a pet monkey belonging to a voodoo priestess in the Bahamas, draws Yancey into a crazy unpredictable adventure sure to leave you laughing.
Wow! I was hooked on Touch from the first page. Kepler recounts watching the body she (he?) had just been occupying die from an assassin’s bullets. Then the gunman turns away from the body known as Josephine, still looking for her. He knows she can switch hosts. Kepler is not safe yet. Touch has the pace of an express train with faulty brakes. A continuous chase novel with accounts of past lives thrown in to bring humanity to characters constantly changing bodies and circumstances. Kepler treats her host bodies well, even coming to care for them deeply, especially Josephine. So when Josephine is murdered, Kepler looks for revenge. What does it mean to be human? What’s love got to do with it? How can a thrilling science fiction novel manage to explore the meaning of life at a profound level while still sending the reader on a roller coaster ride with twists and turns on every page? Be prepared to set aside some time to read Touch because you won’t want to put this book down.
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I have always looked forward to reading a new book by David Morrell, knowing it will be scrupulously researched with attention to details, along with fast-paced action, pulling you into the story with a fierce grip. “Must keep reading” you tell yourself at 2 A.M. “To hell with work tomorrow.” Murder as a Fine Art takes us to Victorian London. The story begins with the very accurate retelling of a brutal massacre occurring 40 years earlier known as the Ratcliffe Highway murders. David warns us in the introduction that the description of the slaughter is accurate. He introduces Thomas De Quincey, the famous, or infamous author known for his memoir Confessions of as English Opium- Eater. DeQuincey also wrote an essay detailing the Ratcliffe Highway murders and becomes a prime suspect in a series of copycat killings mirroring the ones 43 years ago that caused panic in the streets. His efforts to prove his innocence are hampered by his need to chug back the laudanum to function. Fortunately he is accompanied by his daughter Emily, a delightfully outspoken, no-hoop-wearing modern woman, who provides moral and physical support for her father when he is weakened. She also manages to contribute to the investigation led by a Scotland Yard detective and a very likable policeman. We learn about techniques of investigation just beginning to be used by the newly formed Scotland Yard and the changing Victorian London verging on the industrial age. Appealing to those fans of historical crime fiction, of course, but also to anyone who enjoys a fast-paced, well-written thriller full of quirky characters and fascinating historical figures.
Zoe has just moved to New York City, and is looking to start fresh as a travel editor after leaving her old job because of a disastrous affair with her publishing boss. She spots a quirky ad in a dingy bookstore and sees it again in a strange coffee shop. When she meets the person who placed the ad, she is repeatedly told that she’s just not right for the job. Zoe perseveres and is hired to edit a different kind of travel guide—for the undead. As the only human on the job, she must quickly learn about vampires, zombies, death goddesses, and other undead visitors who require a unique approach to tourist spots. Each chapter begins with a quote from the guide, with restaurant recommendations and hotel accommodations (or whatever is needed, like fresh dirt or a nice park). This is a unique and fun addition to urban fantasy, with Zoe ready to jump into the fray when the delicate balance between the undead and the humans is threatened.
There is always cause for celebration when a new Discworld novel arrives. Snuff features Commander Sam Vines, taking a vacation with Lady Sybil and young Sam to her ancestral home in the country. Not that Commander Vimes wanted a vacation, especially a country holiday, with trees, animals, fresh air and strange country noises unfamiliar to a city dweller. But never fear, soon a corpse will appear and Sam’s vacation will turn into an investigation full of goblins, magic, murder, kidnapping, and poo. Yes, poo. For while Inspector Vimes is investigating the murder of a Goblin girl, young Sam is deep into poo. He has met a children’s author who writes about the different kinds of poo, and young Sam is delighted to find that the country affords many examples of his new infatuation, ready for sample collection. So while Commander Vimes fights Goblin prejudice and a bit of smuggling by local pirates, young Sam is armed with a bucket and considerable determination to collect samples of the local forest creatures' scat, secretly (well, not so secretly) wishing for an encounter with an elephant. What else can I say except enjoy! --LNT
Welcome to Terry Pratchett’s version of Victorian London, where a guttersnipe by the name of Dodger can rise up out of the sewers to become a (sort-of) gentleman. Dodger gets by as a tosher, one who scours the sewers searching for treasures washed into the murky depths from the busy streets above. One day he rises from a drain to rescue a damsel in distress and finds himself in the middle of a mystery involving the girl’s identity and powerful foes that want her dead. Dodger is soon in the thick of things, partnering with reporter Charlie Dickens and social reformer Henry Mayhew, grappling with Sweeney Todd over a haircut, and hobnobbing with Benjamin Disraeli and Sir Robert Peel. Dodger is an appealing hero, kind enough to issue a warning about “Richards” (cockney slang involving certain dangers from “Richard the Thirds” rhyming with…) while giving the upper crust a tour of the sewers. A well-researched setting, great characters, sly jokes (of course!), action and adventure, and hopefully, true love, make Dodger simply irresistible.
Reading instructions: Pick up Raylan, settle down in a comfy chair, enjoy the ride. My praise for Raylan, a collection of three interlinked stories featuring Deputy U.S. Marshall Raylan Givens, is totally “justified”. Make the stories even easier on your mind’s eye by picturing Timothy Olyphant in the role as Raylan. Each of the three stories involves a very unique bad gal. Layla is a nurse who has come up with a very unique kidnapping scheme involving human organs. Carol Conlan is a viperous vice president of M-T Mining, ready willing and able to deal with coal miner problems any way necessary, including shooting a man who's standing in profit’s way. Then there’s Jackie Nevada, a college student who can outplay anyone at the poker table, and hopes to outplay Raylan, or at least participate in some interesting foreplay, depending on the flop, the turn and the river. Will she have the winning hand? Bottom line…snappy dialog, quirky characters, true grit, totally justified.
What’s a spineless (literally), conquering warlord to do once a planet’s inhabitants have been subjugated? Emperor Mollusk, conqueror and now benevolent ruler of Earth, is bored. He, his loyal pet ultrapede Snarg, and his tough Venusian army commander Zala are hanging out at his lair on Dinosaur Island, experimenting with the earth’s polarity when a new challenge rears it’s ugly head, er, make that brain. No body, just a brain. The Sinister Brain and his nefarious brain gang, the Council of Egos, are fervently plotting to take over the universe. Luckily, Emperor Mollusk has plenty of weapons hidden under his tentacles. That about sums up the plot. Plenty of crazy action, with skewed science, a cool death ray, and robots that definitely don’t follow the rules, Emperor Mollusk Versus the Sinister Brain is for readers that like their science fiction pulpy. Similar to John Zakour’s Plutonium Blonde.
Myfanwy (rhymes with Tiffany) Thomas wakes up in a London park with no memory of who she is. Never mind that she is surrounded by bodies clothed in lab coats and wearing rubber gloves. Luckily, there is a note in her coat pocket with the salutation “Dear You, The body you are wearing used to be mine” and signed “Love, Me”. She’s given a red pill, blue pill choice and decides to go down the rabbit hole. Following the instructions left by her former self, she reports to work with the idea of finding her true identity and discovering who wants her out of the picture. But that job! Myfanwy is an executive, a Rook, in a super-secret organization, the Checquy Group, that keeps the world safe from supernatural threats. The Checquy Group has sort of an X-men feel, with kids attending a school to help them develop their powers, and a hierarchy of agents doing fieldwork, fighting various supernatural forces. The former Myfanwy was a shy, awkward girl, unsure of her supernatural powers and happy to stay in her office, organizing the Group. The new Myfanwy is still unsure, but is not satisfied to hide in her office, waiting for her enemies to come back and finish her off. Using the copious notes and files left by her former self, her confidence grows and she begins the transformation from shy office girl to kick-ass agent. With a backstory told in the unique form of letters and notes, totally unexpected creepy yucky monsters, and surprising plot twists, The Rook makes for a great supernatural spy thriller. Marketed as “On Her Majesty’s Supernatural Secret Service”, Myfanwy is a force to be reckoned with ... and there’s room for a sequel.
For those who like their mysteries Dark and Danish! Nina Borg, a Red Cross nurse in Copenhagen, is asked to do a favor for an old friend. Karin leaves Nina a key to a train station locker, and when Nina retrieves the suitcase in the locker, she finds a little boy inside, naked, barely alive and obviously drugged. She encounters a violent man at the train station lockers, leaving her confused, afraid, and hesitant to contact the police. She sets out to discover the boy’s identity and the reason he’s being smuggled into the country. You can look forward to a suspenseful thriller with intriguing characters, a surprising twist and definitely a sequel with nurse Nina.
Ahoy maties, get ready to buckle your swash. The manuscript for this pirate, make that privateer, tale was found as a complete manuscript after Michael Crichton’s death in 2008. Pirate Latitudes is set in 1665 in the Caribbean. Captain Charles Hunter decides to go after a Spanish galleon and its cargo of riches moored in the bay of a small island near Jamaica. The governor of Jamaica approves the venture, so technically, Captain Charles will not be stealing the treasure (pirateering = death by hanging), but privateering (making a profit off an enemy of England). What ensues is an adventure caper on the high seas, filled with lusty pirates, a kick-ass female warrior, a nasty villain (or two), a hurricane and, yes, a sea monster. Release the Kraken!
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I let my husband read Impact first because the cover had a fiery ball of flames hurtling toward earth and I thought, oh yeah, another apocalyptic meteor collision. Call Bruce Willis and full speed ahead to save the world. But my husband said, “Hey, this is great. I think you’ll really like it.” Blast it. Right again! Impact IS a blast! We’ve got three scenarios. First up is former CIA operative Wyman Ford, last seen in Blasphemy, checking out radioactive gemstones mined in Cambodia. Over in Maine, college dropout and frustrated astronomer Abbey Straw spots a meteor landing near one of the many small islands near her home. She wants to cash in by selling fragments on e-bay, so she and girlfriend Jackie begin a search for the impact crater. And then there’s the angry red planet. Gamma rays from Mars? Mark Corso, a Mars mission technician at the National Propulsion Facility gets hold of some very classified and dangerous data. How do these three occurrences tie together? Well, I’m not telling, so you’ll have to read Impact to find out. There are several reasons why I loved this story. The two women searching for the impact make a great team. While they are hunting down the point of impact, a psycho who wants in on the action, even though he doesn’t know what the action might be is chasing them! Wyman Ford kicks ass over in Cambodia in a totally moral way. And the mysterious gamma rays along with a High resolution NASA image revealing a feature hidden in the depths of a crater on Mars reveal some unique surprises about this Impact.
--LNT (and hubby Jan Tonnesen)
A precocious teen girl loves chemistry. She helps Dad solve a murder while plotting to make her sister's lips explode with a new lipstick formula. Gotta love it.