Monday, May 6, 2013

Summer reading options have never been better!

Calculated in Death (In Death Series #36) by J. D. Robb

Kirkus Reviews –

Beautiful people meet unlovely numbers in Lt. Eve Dallas' 36th case. Even in 2060, upscale citizens still need accountants, but Marta Dickenson was evidently one accountant too many. Someone hoping to make her death look like a mugging gone bad broke her neck, stripped off her coat and earrings, and left her at the bottom of a stairwell in an apartment building Bradley Whitestone and his two partners are rehabbing. But since the killer didn't think to take Marta's expensive footwear, Eve Dallas and her partner, Detective Delia Peabody, know from the first that this was no random robbery. The evidence points to one of the well-heeled clients Marta handled for the firm of Brewer, Kyle, and Martini. Maybe it was trust-fund dependent Candida Mobsley, who treated Marta's audit the way most people would treat a pesky mosquito. Maybe it was Latisha Vance or Angie Carabelli of the decorating firm Your Space. Or Carter Young-Sachs or Ty Biden, salt-and-pepper business partners. Or Sterling Alexander and the similarly mismatched Thomas Pope. And since whoever it was wouldn't have wanted to take on the job personally, Dallas and Peabody must also search for the killer who was hired to do the dastardly deed and who doesn't seem to be finished. The setup screams danger and suspense, but in between Dallas' lightning inferences at the initial crime scene and the confrontation with an overconfident accomplice, the case is strictly routine, with no surprises likely for anyone familiar with Dallas' best-selling series. On the plus side, Dallas and her zillionaire husband, Roarke, continue to enjoy a great sex life, including one interlude only moments before the denouement. It's enough to make you nostalgic for the 2060s.

The Chance: A Novel by Karen Kingsbury

Kirkus Reviews –

Another weeper from Christian-fiction diva Kingsbury, this time featuring a prayerful NBA star and his long-lost first love. Kingsbury appears to concede that a slavish adherence to the sterner side of Christianity can subvert that religion's founding principles, as happens when Alan Tucker, a Marine drill instructor, casts off his wife, Caroline, after discovering she is pregnant with a lover's child. Righteous though it may be, his implacable anger has ruinous long-term consequences. He immediately moves from Savannah to Camp Pendleton, San Diego, ostensibly to save teenage daughter Ellie from the shame of growing up near her disgraced mother and her illegitimate half sibling. (Abortion, of course, is never brought up, nor is the question of contraception.) Ellie is devastated: She'll leave behind Nolan, her closest childhood friend, a promising basketball player whose moves are described with a sportswriter's skill. The teenagers, both 15, are chastely awakening to love, and before Ellie departs, they bury letters confessing their true feelings under a favorite tree. They make a pact to return on June 1st, 11 years hence, to dig up the box and read the letters. Cut to the present. Caroline is raising her son, John, and writing weekly letters to Ellie, which go unanswered. Long estranged from Alan, Ellie has forsworn college, has an illegitimate child of her own, daughter Kinzie, and works as a beautician. Nolan, a superstar with the Atlanta Hawks, is far out of her league: There are paparazzi-perpetrated rumors of girlfriends galore. When Alan shows up to beg forgiveness for a shocking transgression, it's only Kinzie's faith that causes Ellie to relent. But as June 1st approaches, can she undo 11 years of miscommunication and bad luck? Since deus ex machina is Kingsbury's go-to plot device, nothing, particularly redemption, is left to chance. Unfortunately, putting everything in the Almighty's hands leaves mere mortals with little to do, which makes for tedious reading. Will appeal mainly to Kingsbury devotees, as well as lovers of religious tracts…and basketball.

Deadly Stakes: A Novel by J. A. Jance

Kirkus Reviews –

Agreeing to look into a murder case for an acquaintance becomes a very dangerous game for an Arizona crime expert. Now that she's finished managing her mother's unsuccessful election campaign, former reporter Ali Reynolds (Left for Dead, 2012, etc.) is at loose ends, but not for long. Ali had met Lynn Martinson when they were both doing a television story on a cyberstalker. She's concerned that Lynn's bad taste in men may have carried over to her new boyfriend, Chip Ralston, an Alzheimer's expert who treated her father. When Chip's gold-digging ex-wife is found stabbed to death in the desert, Lynn and Chip are arrested by an overzealous prosecutor, and Ali agrees to investigate for Lynn's court-appointed attorney. Going one better than the police, who haven't found out who reported the crime, Ali learns that it was A.J. Sanders, a frightened teen out in the desert looking for a hidden treasure his ex-convict father wrote him about after turning up on A.J.'s 16th birthday with a car and enough money to pay for gas and insurance. When James Sanders' body is found near the crime scene, both the police, who are not happy with Ali's investigation, and Ali herself are determined to establish a connection. With help from her boyfriend's clever go-to computer expert, Ali finds some things the police have missed--perhaps enough to lead her into a deathtrap. Prolific Jance melds elements of the thriller and police procedural with a touch of romance to carry readers swiftly to an unexpected conclusion.

Ever After (Rachel Morgan Series #11) by Kim Harrison

Kirkus Reviews –

The 11th volume in Harrison's popular ongoing urban-fantasy series (A Perfect Blood, 2012, etc.) continues to chronicle the adventures of Rachel Morgan, who is both a witch and a detective. In Harrison's alternate universe, set in Cincinnati, the world of magical beings, including vampires, witches, elves, werewolves and demons, has crossed with the world of humans. In partnership with Ivy, a vampire, and Jenks, a pixy, Rachel now works as a freelance investigator. When her friend Quen asks her to watch over Trent, a handsome but stubborn elf who attracts trouble, Rachel bridles at the idea. Then, she discovers that someone is abducting what are known as Rosewood babies, infants stricken with a usually fatal, supernaturally inspired disease. When both Rachel's close friend and goddaughter disappear, Rachel and Trent have no choice but to put aside past differences and join forces in order to find them and set things right. Along the way, the pair discovers they are up against a merciless and powerful demon named Ku'Sox, who forces Rachel to go outside the realm in which she normally dwells into what is known as the Ever After in order to recover her abducted friends. Harrison's fans know every corner of the imaginary and intricate world the author has created, including Rachel's history with Trent, which complicates the path she must take in order to retrieve her friends. Adding to the fanciful characters' drama is a past when a genetic-manipulation cataclysm reduced the human population and changed the balance of how humans and the others interact. The storyline is populated with insider references that will mystify those who haven't already been steeped in the world Harrison has created, but for fans of her work, this lengthy and complicated volume will be a welcome new addition to her universe. There's no denying this tale is skillfully written, but the author's tendency to rely heavily on endless, mundane dialogue can be a turnoff to readers who would rather have their stories short, sweet and to the point.

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