A Darker Place
by Laurie King
- Mystery, Suspense, Thriller. Anne Waverly is an expert on cults and sometimes
undercover agent for the FBI. When disturbing reports surface about a group
in Arizona, she is pulled in to investigate.
Guilty Pleasures by
The darker place that Anne investigates is not only the group in Arizona,
but also her own mind and emotions. Anne is the only survivor of a cult
who committed mass suicide while she was away. The dead included her husband
and young daughter which shattered her world and in some ways her sanity.
Many years later, she is a professor of religious studies and an expert
on cults, although she doesn't like that term. Occasionally, she is called
in by the FBI to investigate a group due to her unique combination of academic
and personal knowledge. She survives these assignments by becoming the
girl she was before the deaths of her family - open, innocent, and seeking.
The years and experiences have taken their toll however and her latest
and, she insists, her last assignment takes unusual twists and turns before
the heart stopping finale. I don't want to give too much away so that's
all I'll say about the plot, but this is an excellent novel about facing
inner demons and real life monsters. I was already a Laurie King fan for
her Sherlock Holmes and Mary Russell books and this one explores some of
the same questions of religious belief, academic study, personal relationships,
and the evil that men can do. I'd recommend this book to anyone who wants
to explore deep themes while sitting on the edge of her seat.
Hannibal by Thomas
Description: Horror, mystery. The supernatural is real and they
have legal rights. Anita Blake, Zombie Animator, investigates vampire murders
and gets entangled in vampire politics in St. Louis.
Ah, the innocence of the first book in a long running series. Everything
is so fresh and new. Laurell Hamilton does an incredible job of developing
a credible world peopled with the mundane and the supernatural. The Police
have a supernatural crime investigation unit. Vampires exist and, thanks
to an excellent legal lobby, have rights under the law. Lycanthropes are
merely victims of a contagious disease which, although it is illegal to
discriminate, they must hide in order to keep their jobs. Zombies are regularly
brought back from the dead to resolve legal issues, write wills and bring
emotional closure. It is a fascinating world because it makes sense.
And then there is Anita Blake. She may be small, but she kicks. She
raises the dead, does the odd consultation for the police, carries out
legal vampire executions, likes penguins and she carries a gun, with attitude.
Actually, Anita is hilarious. She has this great running complaint about
trying to carry a concealed weapon. Put it in your purse. Well, then you
can't get to it. Shoulder holster. Well, then you have to wear a jacket,
in the midwestern summer. Thigh holster. Sigh, chaffing. This book doesn't
even start on the difficulties of packing heat while wearing a formal.
God, I love Anita.
This book also introduces some of the long running characters for the
rest of the series. My personal favorites being Edward, a hit man who really
enjoys his job, and Jean Claude, master vampire and complete babe. There's
a dandy mystery, well actually I've read the book so many times, its hard
for me to tell. There is certainly adventure and a certain amount of gore.
Not that much compared to the rest of the series, but hey it's only the
River of Fire
by Mary Jo Putney
Description: Horror, Intrigue. Dr. Hannibal Lector, cannibal
gourmand, isn't the only monster in the world. Mayhem ensues.
So, I saw the movie and I thought,
well I've read his other books, I really ought to read this one.
In Hannibal Lector, Harris has created a character who is beyond the
writer. Like Frankenstein's creature or Dracula, within the book, Hannibal
is a mythic entity. Evil, ruthless, and oddly understandable. Someone blocks
Hannibal from a job, Hannibal kills him. A bigot gradually destroys the
career of someone Hannibal admires. Well, lets just say what happens to
him isn't pretty.
There is some small exposition on Hannibal's background to explain why
he is the way he is, but it is minor and almost irrelevant.
Harris has also quite cleverly peopled Hannibal's world with inhabitants
who are evil in much less likable ways. People who abandon their honor
for pieces of silver and power. People who mess with the minds of children
for the fun of it. Petty bureaucrats ruling petty fiefdoms.
Mustn't forget Agent Clarice Starling. The moral center of the book.
Noble and upright. A warrior with a clear sense of right and wrong. And
she can't kiss executive posterior to save her life, which is basically
what has condemned her career to mediocrity.
I don't think it is coincidental that her mentor from Silence of the
Lambs and the agent who caught Hannibal, meets his fate (nothing horrific
I assure you) at the same time that Hannibal begins (or is it ends?) his
seduction of Starling.
Starling, over the course of the book, is cut off from everything that
defines her life for reasons that actually have very little to do with
Hannibal. So, odd as it is, the end of the book makes a certain sense.
Not really moral sense, but the reader gave up on that about three hundred
pages ago. And odd and perverse as it is, the end makes Harris a kinder
creator than Dr. Frankenstein, who sent the monster into the world without
a companion of any kind.
Romance, Regency Historical, Adventure.Captain Wilding makes an undercover
investigation of the mysterious
death of Lady Seaton, amid the art world of Regency England, while
romantically drawn to her daughter Rebecca.
About midway through the book, Rebecca compares the fire of creativity
to a river of fire in your blood. The compulsion above all others to create
art and express your internal vision. Although Putney is a writer and not
a painter, she is clearly speaking through the voice of her character.
There is a wonderful delicacy as Captain Wilding, a man who has spent
his entire adult life at war, opens up to the power of artistic creation
and (well this is a romance novel) love. And yet, because he is in the
middle of a covert murder investigation in which his prime suspect is his
ladylove's father, well let's just say there is a lot of angst and romantic
Rebecca is his match. She's feminine without being a wuss. She's creative.
Opinionated. Just a bit prickly because she's been hurt in the past, but
willing to love.
The mystery is decent, if not that complex. Well, I mean there aren't
that many characters. There is a small amount of action. Mysterious attacks
in the middle of the night, that sort of thing. The real suspense comes
from watching these two damaged people learn to open up both artistically
and emotionally to each other.
Putney's descriptions of painting and the London art world in Regency
England are obviously well researched and make a nice back drop to the
story's main action. There are a number of repeat characters from other
Putney books, however there
is enough explanation that a first time reader shouldn't have any problems.
This is a wonderful book to curl up with on the couch with a glass of
wine, a bit of rain outside, and just while away the day.