Archive for September, 2010

The Wolf in the Parlor: The Eternal Connection Between Humans and Dogs

September 30, 2010

The Wolf in the Parlor: The Eternal Connection Between Humans and Dogs

Jon Franklin

St. Martin’s Griffin, Oct 12 2010, $14.99

ISBN: 9780312662646

Humans and canines have a special bond that is unique in the animal kingdom.  That is the hypothesis of Jon Franklin’s insightful look at how that loving tie formed.  Using several sciences to support his theory, Mr. Franklin takes the audience on a wonderful tour of evolution going back twelve millennia as wild wolves were tamed into followers and further tamed into domestic obedience.  Exploring human and animal behavior to include ethics, Mr. Franklin concludes evolutionary the dog gave up on a fifth of his or her brain power to allow humans to do the hard lifting thinking; he insists we gave away one tenth of ours too as dogs provide us unrequited loved as our best friend.  Finally, the author also brings in anecdotal support to his belief of the symbiotic relationship between man and dog when he discusses his beloved Charlie; these are my favorite entries while my husband says my significant other was Max the dog.   This warm, well written nonfiction is filled with scientific information as much as personal tales that showcase the Wolf in the Parlor goes back to the ancient caves as well as the modern day abodes.

Harriet Klausner

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The Sleepwalkers-Paul Grossman

September 30, 2010

The Sleepwalkers

Paul Grossman

St. Martin’s, Oct 12 2010, $24.99

ISBN: 9780312601904

In 1932 Berlin police detective Willi Krauss solves the notorious Child Eater serial killer case, which brings him a modicum of fame though the power hungry Nazis are unhappy about this as he is a Jew.  On his next assignment Krauss investigates the strange death of a woman floating in the River Spree.  The victim’s head was shaved and her fibula surgically removed from one leg only to be replanted in the other limb.

 Because of his recent fame, Weimar Republic President General Paul von Hindenberg assigns Krauss to look into the disappearance of a young Bulgarian princess who went out to purchase cigarettes, but never came home.  At the same time as his workload grows, he has no time to sit Shiva for his recently deceased wife nor spend time with their children who are staying with their aunt.  Between von Hindenberg and the Nazis, Krauss struggles to solve his difficult cases.

This engaging German historical police procedural contains a strong sense of how much enthusiasm the Nazis felt and the fear they placed in their rival, adversaries, and chosen scapegoats.  Krauss is a strong lead character whose religion places a scarlet letter on him as far as the Nazis are concerned as they would rather have the Child Eater still terrorizing people than have a Jew solve the case.  Although some of the key support characters are stereotypical and unnecessary (including an apparent love interest) as they detract from the entertaining plot by causing questionable character contradictions, fans will enjoy visiting Berlin at a pivotal wind of change sweeps Germany.

Harriet Klausner

South Austin Vampire-Russ Hall

September 30, 2010

South Austin Vampire

Russ Hall

Five Star, Oct 15 2010, $25.95

ISBN: 9781594148668

In Austin, Devil’s Due music scene owner Owen Peasey hires private investigator Travis Treegrow to learn what is bothering his star attraction, singer-songwriter Lola Pillaccherosi. However, before Trav gets very far he finds the local star dead; eerily her body contains no blood and her neck has two puncture teeth marks that remind him of a Jose Doe corpse lying pale in the morgue.

Putting aside somewhat his volunteer inquiry into several thefts that Trav is doing for Sister Consuelo he and his former girlfriend Texas Hill Country peace officer Cassie make inquiries into the homicide.  They soon begin to uncover a trail of avarice in which the clues lead to vampire cult leader Levi Damocles with lethal connections to the drug and human trafficking mobs.

The second Blue-eyed Indian mystery (see Bones of the Rain) is an engaging Austin whodunit in which the city’s music scene and the accompanying underbelly make for a fun atmospheric investigation.  Although the vampiric angle never quite seems blood harrowing enough as it pales in comparison to the city tour, fans will enjoy Trav’s Texas two-step turf trot.

Harriet Klausner

Fatal Error-F. Paul Wilson,

September 30, 2010

Fatal Error

F. Paul Wilson,

Tor, Oct 12 2010, $25.99

ISBN: 9780765322821

Repairman Jack feels like he is caught in some sort of cosmic middle between the Ally and the Otherness while also fearing that the Septimus Order united with the Kickers to kill the Lady in order enable the evil Otherness to enter earth reality.  However, even as he resents being the bodyguard of the lady, Jack is caught in a local scenario when a desperate Munir Habib pleads with the mercenary to save his family.

The Septimus Order and their nefarious allies plan to shut down the Internet.  Mr. Osala quietly encourages these cult terrorists to do so while he also prepares a newborn infected by the Otherness that he had abducted from the baby’s stunned mother Dawn Pickering to bring his prime adversary Jack to his knees.

The latest Repairman Jack thriller is a great refreshing entry in what consistently has been one of the best sagas over the past two decades (ancient history of Reagan was in the White House when he first appears).  The story line is fast-paced and filled with twists as several of the mercenary adversaries seem to have united with a common cause that starts with his death.  However though they have battled before and this is his penultimate tale, they still don’t know Jack.

Harriet Klausner

Factotum-D. M. Cornish

September 30, 2010

 Factotum

D. M. Cornish

Putnam, Nov 11 2010, $19.99

ISBN: 9780399246401

A Foundling, Rossamund Bookchild wants to know something about his roots as currently his knowledge about his parents is zero.  He leaves behind his home and in many ways his youth as he sets forth on an adventure to find out just who he is.  

As he treks the Half-Continent, he faces danger but never quits his quest.  As he continues his march, he faces frightening truths; of which the worst remains not knowing anything about who he is.   Naimes Duchess in Waiting, Europe the monster hunter, “adopts” Rossamund as her Factotum and friend while teaching her protégé that evil comes in all shapes and forms including human packaging, but his quest for his identity has already aroused the long time dormant Monster Lords.

The third Foundling’s Tale (see Foundling and Lamplighter) is a great final fantasy as Rossamund learns more truth than he would prefer.  Fast-paced with a sort of ancient feel to the vernacular and enhanced by drawings and maps, teen readers will want to join the Foundling and they aristocrat as they hunt monsters including people and seek clues to who Rossamund is especially since his search has awakened the most hideous lethal Monster Lords.

Harriet Klausner

The Wolf Age-James Enge

September 30, 2010

The Wolf Age

James Enge

PYR, Oct 5, 2010, $17.00

ISBN 9781616142438

By nature an extreme pessimist who in spite of his adept skills knows he cannot live up to the legend of his father except when he is intoxicated. Enchanter Morlock Ambrosius wonders what else could go wrong as nothing seems to be going his way.  In the werewolf city-state of Wuruyaaria, he figures he hit rock bottom when he is confined in a prison inside Vargulleion, a werewolf fortress.   Morlock soon learns he has not bottomed out when he is forced to kill another inmate who attacked him.

His new cell mate is Rokhlenu the werewolf, whose life he once saved.  They become friends watching each other’s back in the dangerous dungeons.  However, Morlock also struggles with his sanity as the glass spike pounded into his head blocks his Sight leading to out of control paranoid rages.   Working together, the pair escapes, but being on the outside in a city boiling over with angry werewolves divided in strife during an election year proves more dangerous than lock up.

Making last summer’s Tea Party look like tea partiers, The Wolf Age is an excellent political fantasy as James Enge paints balloting skewered by the sword and claw; making Wuruyaaria seem worse than 1850s Bleeding Kansas and that of 2008 violent Kenya.  The taut story line is character driven by the honor of blood werewolf voters as democracy proves deadly.  With morose Morlock as the guide (see Blood of Ambrose and This Crooked Way), readers will appreciate the dark, grim and gloomy portrayal of democracy. 

Harriet Klausner

Poisoned Kisses-Stephanie Draven

September 30, 2010

Poisoned Kisses

Stephanie Draven

Harlequin Nocturne, Oct 1 2010, $5.25

ISBN: 9780373618453

“Poisoned Kisses”.  The Underworld Nymph Kyra fears what her father Ares plans to do.  Ares wants to use toxic blood to change a man into a deadly hydra.  His choice is weapons dealer Marcos Kaisaris.  Marcos believes he can save the world from the madness of weapons of mass destruction by arming the oppressed.  Like her sire, Kyra seeks Marcos out with her plan being to kill him so her father cannot capture him. When they meet, Marcos’ tainted blood burns Kyra, costing her immortality.  Still she refuses to quit although now she considers locking him away from her dad.  In their second battle, they fall in love so she plans to keep him safe or die in the attempt.

“Midnight Medusa”.  As a child in war torn Bosnia, Renata saw first hand humanity’s cruelty.  She escaped to New York City where she became a sculptor who made pieces of the war criminals she witnessed performing their horrific cleaning.  Once she completed a work, the “model” died horrifically.  The son of Ares, Damon kidnaps the artist and informs her who she is and why her art kills.

The romantic fantasy Poisoned Kisses is a terrific tale that grips the audience from the moment lead couple meet and never slows down as natural enemies fall in love.  Readers also receive a wonderful romantic urban fantasy short story Midnight Kisses with a great paranormal twist though the lead couple is obviously less developed; this was previously an e-tale.  With two offspring of Ares entries, Stephanie Draven provides fans with a joyous trip to “Mythica”.

Harriet Klausner

The Keepers-Heather Graham

September 30, 2010

The Keepers

Heather Graham

Harlequin Nocturne, Oct 1 2010, $5.25

ISBN: 9780373618446

In New Orleans, Fiona MacDonald is one the Keeper sisters who watch over the city’s vampire, shapeshifter and a few unmentionables population though her focus is the bloodsuckers.  Her job is to resolve conflict as quietly as possible and to insure the species behaves themselves so as to keep the humans ignorant that the otherworldly reside in their midst.

A serial killer who apparently is a rogue vampire strikes the city.  The psychopath drinks blood dry of blond females before dumping their corpses on cemetery crypts.  Fiona and vampire detective Jagger DeFarge work together to end an undead reign of terror while her Keeper peers and her siblings warn her not to trust a bloodsucker.

This exhilarating romantic urban fantasy is an otherworldly police procedural that grips the reader with Heather Graham’s vividly dark view of New Orleans.  The story line is fast-paced and filled with twists.  The investigation makes for an interesting paranormal whodunit in which the Keeper and the Vampire try to ignore their attraction as they are natural enemies and critically understand ending the fiend’s murderous terror supersedes all else.

Harriet Klausner

The Perfect Love Song-Patti Callahan Henry

September 29, 2010

The Perfect Love Song

Patti Callahan Henry

Vanguard, Oct 12 2010, $15.95

ISBN: 9781593156169

Jimmy Sullivan writes a beautiful Perfect Love Song for his beloved girlfriend Charlotte Carrington.  The lyrics are so well received; he leaves Palmetto Pointe, South Carolina to go on tour with his brother Jack, their band The Unknown Souls and a who’s who of country music.  He enjoys the glitter of the bright lights, the fame of people remembering his name, and the side benefits of being with the legends.

However, his family and that girlfriend who he wrote his original song for are upset with Jimmy.  Indifferent to their pleading, he chooses to perform on Christmas Eve at Radio City Music Hall instead of being the best man at his brother’s wedding.  Will success spoil Jimmy Sullivan as he wanders alone in Manhattan on Christmas Eve?

The Perfect Love Song is an entertaining character study that modernizes the movie Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?  Jimmy is an intriguing lead protagonist who chose career over love so we naive romance fans will feel no empathy for him though logically we understand his opportunity choice.  Fans who enjoy a warm relationship drama will want to read Patti Callahan Henry’s tender tale.

Harriet Klausner

A Perfect Scandal-Tina Gabrielle

September 29, 2010

A Perfect Scandal

Tina Gabrielle

Zebra, Oct 1 2010, $6.99

ISBN: 9781420108491

In 1814 London Lady Isabel Cameron wants to cross the Channel to study art in Paris.  To achieve her goal once the Napoleonic wars end, she knows she must never marry.  Her father believes a lady needs a husband so he plans to arrange a marriage for his daughter before she becomes comfortable on the shelf.  Thus the earl plans to give her to a man over three decades older than her and even older than him.

Desperate Isabel needs to find the right man quick.  She meets scandalous Lord Marcus Hawksley, who is her age and a younger son of an earl; however, he is unacceptable by the Ton because he earns a living as a stockbroker.  Isabel chooses Marcus as ideal for her; not to marry but to destroy her reputation so no one will wed her.  Without a companion, she goes to see him to ask for his assistance, but when he is accused of stealing she is his alibi, but also his scandal.  They agree to a short term marriage of convenience, but an inconvenient truth surfaces when they fall in love.

A Perfect Scandal is a perfect Regency romance due to the lead characters, who bring refreshing new ideas to the entertaining story line.  Whereas she wants to study art while embracing spinsterhood; he breaks a social taboo by working as a stockbroker.  Readers will enjoy the relationship between these ducal offspring; as Tina Gabrielle proves that the whole formed by love is greater than the sum of the individual parts.

Harriet Klausner