Sunday, September 21, 2014

Sword of the Bright Lady-M.C. Planck

Sword of the Bright Lady
M.C. Planck
Pyr, Sep 9 2014, $18.00
ISBN 9781616149888

At first mechanical engineer Christopher Sinclair thought he was in some sort of weird dream with no electrical device anywhere and a dirty teenaged stranger named Helga sharing his bed instead of his wife.  He changes his mind about sleeping and assumes he was in a plane crash in a remote medieval part of Europe.  However, he soon realizes this is not Arizona, America or Switzerland; as somehow he “walked” into another realm.

Feeling lost and missing his spouse, Christopher begins to learn the rules of “physics” in his new world are based on tael death magic with the power hierarchy dependent on how much a person controls.  To initially survive in this war-ravaged dominion, Christopher pledges allegiance to the Goddess of Healing, the Bright Lady.  When Marcius the God of War offers the engineer a better deal he accepts performing the deity’s quests in return to going home.  Sinclair introduces a new type of magic based on guns and butter as he teaches commoners to forge steel to make weapons and household items.

Book One of The World Of Prime is a fantastic opening act in fantasy as a twenty-first century American engineer with contemporary inclusiveness ethics and a belief in physics falls through a rabbit hole into a medieval feudal land whose system is magic based and deity connected.  Much more Clark Kent than Superman, bewildered Christopher keeps the intense storyline focused by muddling through his new life as a fish out of water while dealing with enemies who relish the status quo and Doubting Thomas supporters.  He wants to go home, but the Gods refuse to give him ruby red slippers.


Harriet Klausner

A Death On Sunday-Tish Owen

A Death On Sunday
Tish Owen
Willow Tree Press/E.M.A. Mysteries, Jul 29 2014, $16.95
ISBN: 9781937778194

Maher Investigates sleuth Tessely Anne Marie Maher cherishes brunch with her extended family at her mommy’s home.  However, this time a long-distance shot is fired towards the house; Tess’ best friend Chick Donnelly falls out of a tree dead.  Near his body are drawings he made of his beloved Tess.

Although Chick’s death may have been a freakish hunting accident; Tess, her brother County Sheriff Connell Maher and their father the former sheriff believe a professional hit occurred though none of them can fathom why.  The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation sends Agents Lyle and Boyd to take charge of the homicide inquiry based on Chick’s alleged drug dealings.  They warn the Maher family to stay out of their case or face charges of interference in an official state investigation.  Firmly believing that grieving Tess murdered her lover over drug money, the TBI cops look nowhere else for the killer.  Knowing she will be railroaded, Tess, with help from her family and friends, stealthily conducts her own inquiry seeking a motive including Chick’s business, Donnelly Repair and Restoration.

Putting aside that a family of cops and a private eye fail to obtain a lawyer with TBI focused solely on Tess, A Death On Sunday is a terrific whodunit as the homicide is personal.  Mourning her loss, Tess’ chats with the late Chick feel genuine and add depth to an engaging investigation in which the heroine works around the Knoxville stereotyped obnoxious outsiders.


Harriet Klausner

The Front Seat Passenger-Pascal Garnierr

The Front Seat Passenger
Pascal Garnier, Jane Aitken (translator)
Gallic, Sep 9 2014, $13.95
ISBN 9781908313638

After visiting his père in Normandy, Fabien Delorme returns to Paris to an empty house.  He actually is pleased though surprised his wife Sylvie is not home as their relationship has drifted apart.  Fabien soon learns that Sylvie and her lover Martial Arnoult died in a car accident in Dijon.

Instead of grief, Fabien obsesses over his spouse having a secret lover she concealed from him.  In Dijon to identify Sylvie’s corpse, Fabien notices a woman do likewise with Arnoult’s body.  Obviously he concludes she is Arnoult’s widow, Martine.  Ironically in spite of her cuckolding him, Fabien misses Sylvie who kept him anchored.  Thus he decides since Arnoult stole his wife, he will do likewise with the other man’s widow.  Stalking Martine, Fabien becomes part of her life and that of her companion.

The latest Gallic translation of a Pascal Garnier suspenseful French middle class tragedy (see Moon in a Dead Eye, The Panda Theory and How’s the Pain?) is another superb dark surrealistic novella.  Character driven by an unlikable but realistic three degrees of separation quintet, readers will appreciate the impact on their respective mates by the deaths of The Front Seat Passenger and the driver.


Harriet Klausner

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Broken-Tracie L. Slatton

Broken
Tracie L. Slatton
Parvati Press, Sep 5 2014, $16.99
http://www.parvatipress.com
ISBN: 9780986061158

In 1939 earth time Alia mourns the loss of Ariel by leaving Heaven to take on mortal form just before Paris falls.  A self-anointed fallen angel, the hedonistic Alia insists she cares nothing about the beleaguered Broken Parisians and even less with the evil Nazi occupiers to come.

However, Alia enjoys sex with her sweet ferocious lover, half-Spaniard, half German Jew Pedro the bullfighter, whose father abandoned him and his mom in Spain while he was still in the womb.  Archangel Michael questions Alia why here when she knows the torment to follow.  She insists she did not lose her way; that God did by allowing this mad Führer loose on his so-called beloved mortals.  Michael reminds her she has one miracle to offer, he prays she wisely uses it.  As the war intensifies and unthinkable atrocities occur, Alia meets Josef the Jewish physicist, mathematician and violinist, and soon to be her lover.  As the years pass, Alia’s day of reckoning that Michael predicted finally arrives when she must choose between continual self-indulgence and sacrifice to save the lives of her friend Jewish widow Suzanne Dubois and her child Cecile.

Though the action is somewhat muted, Broken is a great philosophical WWII drama that focuses on a fallen angel who no longer believes God cares.  The key cast is fully-developed with diverse reactions to what is happening to the Jews and not just Hitler’s Final Solution as Josef learned in Antwerp and others in Cuba and America; while real persona like Sartre adds a powerful sense of time and place.  Tracie L. Slatton provides a profound look at religion during a crisis of faith in which even angels question whether God abandoned the flock.


Harriet Klausner

Shadows on a Maine Christmas: An Antique Print Mystery-Lea Wait

Shadows on a Maine Christmas: An Antique Print Mystery
Lea Wait
Perseverance, Sep 9 2014, $15.95
ISBN 9781564745477

Lovers Will Brower resides in Maine while antique dealer Maggie Summer lives in New Jersey.  Besides the issues of a long distance relationship, the couple disagrees over adopting a child.  Will insists never; while Maggie may soon raise a little girl or two young sisters.  However, the couple agrees to share a Maine Christmas.

Maggie the obsessive anxiety queen fears when she tells her beloved about the potential adoption, he will kick her butt back to the Garden State.  She adores the way he cares for his ailing Aunt Nettie, but panics his caretaking blinds him to nurturing others.  She also frets over his desire to remain in the Pine Tree State as affirmed by Will his seeking to buy a home.  However, Maggie biggest consternation is that she lost her Will to realtor Jo Heartwood.  Needing to forget her trepidations, Maggie wonders what Aunt Nettie and her longtime friends imply criminally happened when they were much younger.  When someone murders geriatric nurse Carrie Folk; Maggie, Maine State Trooper Nick Strait and Aunt Nettie investigate especially after learning that the victim was a blackmailer.

Returning to Maine (see Shadows on the Coast of Maine and Shadows of a Down East Summer), the seventh Antique Print cozy (see Shadows on a Cape Cod Wedding) is an enjoyable entry in which the secondary elderly characters especially one with dementia own the storyline.  The homicide investigation begins late though the informal inquiry into what happened decades ago starts very early; as Lea Wait provides a deep look at senior citizen mental health, abortion and adoption. 


Harriet Klausner

The Eyes Of Aurora-Albert A. Bell, Jr.

The Eyes Of Aurora
Albert A. Bell, Jr.
Perseverance: Sep 9 2014 $15.95
ISBN: 9781564745491

At the Centumviral Court, Gaius Pliny successfully prosecutes the case for his future mother-in-law Pompeia Celerina against rival defense Marcus Regulus who represented Quintus Vibius.  Pliny’s martinet mother and Pompeia host a victory celebration that includes toasting the upcoming wedding between their children though Pliny loves his slave Aurora instead of his wealthy beautiful fiancée Livilla.

Aurora recently met impoverished Crispina and her ailing son.  She persuades Pliny and his friend Tacitus to accompany her in order to help Crispina.  When they arrive at Crispina’s home, they find neither her nor her son in residence; left behind is an enigmatic word square.  The trio soon finds out that raging Regulus arrived before them and a further search of the grounds reveals a decapitated female body.  Horrified by the gruesome sight of a headless corpse, Aurora and Pliny find comfort with each.

The fifth Notebooks of Pliny the Younger (see The Corpus Conundrum and Death in the Ashes) is a twisting complicated Ancient Rome revenge thriller with additional stunning spins in the protagonist’s personal relationships.  Although the case turns overly byzantine, readers will relish traveling the Ostian Way; escorted by Pliny and Aurora.


Harriet Klausner

Friday, September 19, 2014

The Texan’s Twins-Pamela Britton

The Texan’s Twins
Pamela Britton
Harlequin American Romance, Sep 2 2014, $5.50
ISBN: 9780373755356

In the middle of a field in Nowhere, Texas, Jet Baron goes to meet J.C. Marks.  However, instead of the male project engineer just hired by Baron Energies, he sees a beautiful woman.  He assumes the female is a stripper sent as a joke.  After that auspicious start, arrogant Jet continues to step into sh*t including offering to meet no-nonsense Jasmine Caroline Marks for breakfast; while she mocks his occupation of rodeo performer and scorns his skirt chasing.

Attracted to the feisty engineer, Jet learns she is the single mother of twin girls (Brooke and Gwen) whose father, her fiancé, Darren died before she gave birth.  As they work together, Jet and J.C. fall in love, but her kids come first especially when Brooke becomes ill; reminding the harried mother heartbreakingly of what happened to Darren.

The fourth Texas Rodeo Barons romance (see The Texan's Little Secret by Barbara White Daille and The Texan’s Cowgirl Bride by Trish Milburn) is a warm family novel starring a seemingly care-free philanderer and a stressed-out mom.  The strong females (his sister Lizzie - see The Texan's Baby by Donna Alward, the engineer, and the twins) make this a winning contemporary; while their male counterparts (Jet, his dad and Lizzie’s mate Chris) struggle to live up to the high standards the women and girls set.


Harriet Klausner