Archive for July, 2013

Kill City Blues-Richard Kadrey

July 31, 2013

Kill City Blues
Richard Kadrey
Harper Voyager, Jul 30 2013, $24.99
ISBN: 9780062094599

In Los Angeles half-angel James “Sandman Slim” Stark and Samael the ex-demon relish the taste of deep-fried dough at the Donut Universe as both are relieved they are no longer Lucifer. Samael dumped the position on Stark who dumped the Devil position on Mr. Muninn; who ironically is one fifth of God after the deity’s nervous breakdown. At times Stark feels guilt but not when he tastes fritters with Candy at his side.

Declan Garrett interrupts their devilishly good snack offering Stark a million to bring him the Qomrama Om Ya god-killing weapon that the former Lucifer used against the child ghost. Stark says Aelita the angel possesses the weapon now; but realizes he better take back the Qomrama so if needed he can destroy its creators, the former owners of this universe before an upstart God conned the angry Angra Old Gods out of what is theirs.

The latest Sandman Slim irreverent humorous urban fantasy (see Devil Said Bang, Aloha From Hell and Kill the Dead) is a fun over the top of the Hollywood sign thriller. Fast-paced, Stark and his band search for the god-weapon ending up in the lampooned Kill City Mall where they meet a horde of supernatural losers while seeking one of the splintered five essences of God; as once again this is religious satire at its amusingly darkest.

Harriet Klausner

Chasing Atlantis-Kelly Coughlin

July 30, 2013

Chasing Atlantis
Kelly Coughlin
Outskirts Press, Jul 16 2013, $17.95
ISBN: 9781478703631

Teenager Amy Jane prefers remaining home with her dad in San Antonio for the summer. However, her desires are irrelevant as she travels to Vero Beach to spend her two-month vacation with her snobbish mom and Mr. Perfect Steve.

Upon arriving in Florida, Amy Jane sees how beautiful her mom and Steve are. The next day at the public beach she notices all the females entranced ogling three lifeguards. The trio stares at Amy Jane; who notices the women looking at her with ire. One of the lifeguards Ty asks if she remembers him; she says no. He tells her to leave as her kind is unwelcome here. Her mom and Steve escort Amy Jane to dinner with their friends the Greys as she wants to match up her daughter with their son Adam. Stunned as the parents no longer look leathery but instead lovely and Adam is a hunk not a big nose, Amy Jane assumes Steve is a plastic surgeon. When a fanged female stalks her, Ty rescues her. As she begins to learn the truth, Amy Jane and Ty fall in love while battling to prevent evil that covets the Texas teen.

Chasing Atlantis is a thrilling urban fantasy in which the deliberate set up and early pace enables readers to believe in the Coughlin realm of horror. The beleaguered heroine keeps the storyline focused as she deals with her controlling mom but also fears Steve is Svengali to her mother’s Trilby while not coping well with especially Ty, but also his brothers and Adam. The truth proves much more perilous as older teens and adults will enjoy Amy Jane’s fabulous Floridian adventures.

Harriet Klausner

A Study In Silks-Emma Jane Holloway

July 26, 2013

A Study In Silks
Emma Jane Holloway
Del Rey, Sep 24 2013, $7.99
ISBN: 9780345537188

While the ruthless steam barons rule 1888 London, Evelina Cooper enjoys science and is skillful with magic (ask Mouse and Bird) though the sorcery must be hidden as those in power claim this is the demon’s tool worthy of death or incarceration in a prison lab. In spite of being the niece of the renowned Sherlock Holmes, Evelina knows the elopement of her parents from two polar opposite worlds permanently brushed her with their scandal. The father of her BFF Imogen Roth has allowed her to stay with them at Hilliard House for her debut; as she chose her mother’s aristocratic past over her father’s traveling show heritage, but realistic Evelina also realizes if scandal touches her he will kick her out. Imogen’s dissolute brother Tobias does not care what happens to Evelina as long as she sleeps with him and Nick who joined a traveling show to find her has reentered her life.

In Hilliard House, Evelina is horrified when she finds the murdered corpse of a woman. Tobias arrives and recognizes the victim as Grace the maid. After consulting with Imogen, both agree that Evelina’s uncle would investigate. Thus motivated, the two friends look into the homicide; ignorant of how dangerous their probe will prove to them and their families from powerful barons.

The first The Baskerville Affair, A Study In Silks, is a strong steampunk Victorian mystery. The Holloway world is vivid as the author uses a myriad of characters to paint an alternate refreshing realm though there is some repetition. Fans will enjoy the adventures of Sherlock’s niece even if scarlet at times supersedes silk as Emma Jane Holloway provides a fresh Holmes whodunit.

Harriet Klausner

The Dark Man-Stephen King

July 26, 2013

The Dark Man
Stephen King
Cemetery Dance, Jul 30 2013, $25.00
ISBN: 9781587674211

He is the ultimate dangerous wanderer because as the outsider with no attachments, he loathes those with friends and families. In his denims, fuming with rage 24/7 he nightmarishly rides the rails frightening the hobos who recognize what he is and what he is not; or hitches at night with those moronically picking him up learning too late why he is The Dark Man.

A forerunner of Randall Flagg, Stephen King wrote this aptly titled short poem while in college. Artist Glenn Chadbourne provides his interpretation through approximately seventy intriguing illustrations to the 200 or so dark words. Fans of Mr. King will enjoy this entry though the picture to word ratio at times fragments the structure of the dark ode.

Harriet Klausner

Snipers-Kristrine Kathryn Rusch

July 15, 2013

Snipers
Kristrine Kathryn Rusch
WMG, Jul 15 2013, $18.99
http://www.wmgpublishing.com
ISBN 9780615762050

In 1913 a serial killer terrorizes the citizens of Vienna. The Carnival Sniper was never caught though investigator Johann Runge diligently tried. Runge eventually wrote a true crime book Death At Fasching as a means of moving past his biggest failure, but that never gave him any peace.

Thirty years ago, Sofie Branstadter’s life became defined when she witnessed as a child a sniper murder her parents. In 2005, her parents’ case remains unsolved, Sofie, a historian and an author, begins her research into the Carnival Sniper homicides that remind her of what happened to her parents three decades earlier. With forensic anthropologist Karl Morgenthau and others at her side, and the paparazzi trying to trump her and each other; Sofie arranged to disinter the remains of Carnival Sniper victim Viktor Adler buried in Zentralfriedhof Cemetery. Meanwhile the great grandson of Johann, pianist-composer Anton Runge has mixed feelings as her efforts increase the sales of Death At Fasching making him money but reminds him of how embarrassed his father and grandfather were with the book. In the grave the diggers find an impossible anomaly. Soon Sofie and Anton team up investigating the 1913 cold case.

This is an exciting twisting science fiction whodunit that raises questions about the impact on accepted historical events when pivotal players are eliminated before they become global movers and shakers. Although the romance feels more a required necessity, readers will relish Kristrine Kathryn Rusch’s fabulous fast-paced thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Anomaly-Krista McGee

July 15, 2013

Anomaly
Krista McGee
Thomas Nelson, Jul 9 2013, $9.99
ISBN: 9781401688721

The nuclear war ended life on the surface; forcing survivors underground. Though rumors of a Designer as the ultimate power, Ten Scientists saved those who survived but to prevent conflict they genetically removed emotion from their subjects.

Thalli, the Musician of Pod C, concealed for spent years her outlawed abnormality while doing her job by playing instruments to stimulate the labor of her mates. When she was nine running laps with her Pod mates, Thalli was shocked when Asta the historian stopped and began oozing from her nose until the Monitors removed her as a Code 4 never to return. Thalli concludes Asta broke one of the most important rules of never be different while she hides her innate curiosity. Three years later Berk the Scientist departed with a gala celebrating his becoming a leader. A few years later, because of Bach, Thalli’s anomaly surfaces so she is removed and slated for Annihilation. With minutes counting down until she dies, Berk persuades his peers to keep Thalli alive to study her anomaly.

Anomaly is an exciting thought-provoking young adult dystopian thriller that has the teen audience pondering faith in a Designer when faced with an execution countdown due to displaying feelings. The McGee world feels like Alice fell into the realm of Huxley’s Big Brother yet at the same time the milieu feels underdeveloped. Still fans will enjoy the “Curiouser and curiouser” Musician’s adventures as she learns to keep the faith with someone mighty watching out for her.

Harriet Klausner

Fifth Grave Past The Light-Darynda Jones

July 14, 2013

Fifth Grave Past The Light
Darynda Jones
St. Martin’s, Jul 9 2013, $24.99
ISBN: 9781250014405

The Grim Reaper Charlotte “Charley” Davidson moonlights as a private investigator as her prime gig does not pay the bills. She learns firsthand what temptation truly is when the son of Satan Reyes Farrow moves into the next door apartment.

Still Charley’s tsuris excludes her libido gliding in the troposphere. Dead women hover around her causing havoc as none want to move on in spite of the Grim reaper demanding they do. She fears a serial killer has targeted females and a serial arsonist she suspects is her hunk of a neighbor complicates her efforts to catch the murdering psychopath.

The latest Davidson urban fantasy (see Third Grave Dead Ahead and Fourth Grave Beneath My Feet) is an amusing exciting thriller though once again the overarching theme barely moves forward. Charley is at her graveyard humorous best while the horde of women drives her crazy but not as much as Reyes lingering in her mind as an arson suspect and in her body as a tingling tormenter. Readers will enjoy the fast-paced irreverent storyline toasting a fifth of Davidson.

Harriet Klausner

The Secret of Abdu El Yezdi-Mark Hodder

July 13, 2013

The Secret of Abdu El Yezdi
Mark Hodder
PYR, Jul 9 2013, $18.00
ISBN 9781616147778

In 1840, an assassin murdered Queen Victoria. Since the royal’s untimely death a couple of decades ago, a small oligopoly runs the British Empire with their prime advisor being Abdu El Yezdi, a dead mystic communicating with these rational men from the Afterlife.

Known for solving the mystery of the Nile, explorer Sir Richard Francis Burton heads to England struggling with his sense of reality. While he journeys home, the British Empire and the Greater German Confederation negotiate an alliance. However before the pact can be signed, Florence Nightingale, Charles Babbage, ruling cabal member Isambard Kingdom Brunel and other notable scientists and engineers vanish. Notified of the vanishings Burton receives a king’s agent appointment to locate Abdu El Yezdi, who has stopped communicating as if this spirit disappeared too. The case turns personal when Burton’s friends and family begin to disappear in an eerie manner that links to the muted Abdu El Yezdi.

The latest Burton & Swinburne Adventure (see Expedition to the Mountains of the Moon, The Curious Case of the Clockwork Man and The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack) is an exciting alternative historical Victorian era with a strong paranormal element. The storyline is fast-paced and captures the essence of the British Empire’s white man’s burden colonization rationalization that Burton rigidly believes. However, the time-altering plot is extremely thin though fun to follow as Burton must protect those he cherishes, communicate with a silent ghost and figure out what is real and what is a hallucination.

Harriet Klausner

On The Razor’s Edge-Michael Flynn

July 10, 2013

On The Razor’s Edge
Michael Flynn
Tor, Jul 2 2013, $25.99
ISBN: 9780765334800

Méarana the harper hopes she can reconcile her estranged parents though she knows former Shadow of the Confederation of Central Worlds Donovan (the scarred man) and Bridget ban of the Hounds are natural enemies. However, her plan goes astray when Counselor Gidula abducts Donovan because the kidnapper believes one of the ex-Shadow’s personalities knows the secret entrance into the City of the Names. This occurs at a time when the members of the Shadow’s Lion’s Mouth deploy assassins while heatedly debate support of the Name.

Needing help to rescue her dad, Méarana arranges for CCW Shadow Ravn Olafsdottr to kidnap her though the latter assumes it was all her doing; unaware that the hybrid harper needs her abduction to motivate her mother to bring the Hounds in pursuit of her and Donavan. With deceit and distrust everywhere, war seems imminent but it is hazy as to who is on which side; only that enemies CCW and the United League of the Periphery need Donovan to win.

The fourth futuristic CCW-ULP thriller is a complex entertaining tale that focuses on Machiavellian intrigue; as several civil wars seems imminent while the two rival empires continue their hostilities. More convoluted than the DNA helix, all roads pass through subconscious mind of The Scarred Man, but to appreciate and understand (for the most part) the journey with the Hounds and Shadows means fans must read the previous entries (see In the Lion’s Mouth, The January Dancer and Up Jim River).

Harriet Klausner

Constellation-Sharon Lee & Steve Miller

July 7, 2013

Constellation
Sharon Lee & Steve Miller
Baen, Jul 2 2013, $15.00
ISBN: 9781451639230

Constellation, Volume 1 (2013) provides fans of the Liaden Universe with seventeen previously printed short stories that fill some of the gaps in the novels especially background of the key cast. The stories’ dates range from 1995 to 2002 with ten of the entries released in the nineties. Val Con and Edger meet for the first time in “To Cut an Edge” while in “Where the Goddess Sends” provides the initial encounter between Moonhawk and Lute as she asks him why a great magician like him cannot conjure up their breakfast instead of using illusions to obtain eggs from the appreciated audience of villagers; they also co-star in “A Spell for Lost.” My personal favorites are Priscilla y Mendoza’s recent trials and tribulation in “Moonphase” and the short version of “Balance of Trade” (which readers will compare with the 2006 novel). Obviously targeting Liaden Universe travelers, Constellation is a fabulous anthology.

Harriet Klausner