Fiction, November 16, 2018 | Xpress Reviews

The plot is interesting, but the characters are fairly typical; for those who enjoy paranormal romance with well-developed worldbuilding; readers who enjoy World War II espionage thrillers will appreciate the combination of intricate conspiracies and fast-paced action; an adrenaline-fueled thriller in an alternate realm

Week ending November 16, 2018

Cantell, Mary. Beyond the Roses. Mainstream Mystery: Wild Rose. Dec. 2018. 266p. ISBN 9781509223244. pap. $14.99; ebk. ISBN 9781509223251. ROMANTIC MYSTERY
Lissa Logan, a military widow, returns to her old hometown of Pinewood, MD, with her young daughter, Lacy. Her most recent boss has asked her to move to be his assistant. Lissa holds idealized memories of the town, but she soon discovers it has a dark side. She meets up with her old school crush Brian, who is ready to separate from his wife. Things between them start to advance, but when Lacy disappears after a Halloween party, Lissa realizes that Pinewood is not the quaint place she remembered.
VERDICT The plot is interesting, but the characters are fairly typical; with a strong Christian emphasis, for fans of gentle romances that incorporate a mystery story line.—Susan Hayes, Columbus, GA

Frost, Jeaniene. Shades of Wicked. Avon. (Night Rebel, Bk. 1). Nov. 2018. 371p. ISBN 9780062695611. pap. $7.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062695598. PARANORMAL ROMANCE
Master vampire Ian is known for his ne’er-do-well manner and sexual exploits. He has no desire to work with prim Law Guardian Veritas, but both have their reasons to want the demon Dagon dead, so Veritas bargains with Ian to join their not inconsiderable talents to kill their foe. Fast-paced, large-scale cinematic action takes them from Eastern Europe to New York City as they discover that what they thought they knew about each other is false on any number of levels. The larger fight with the demon contrasts with the smaller story of how Veritas, for the first time in thousands of years, puts her heart at risk as she sees Ian for what he truly is: an honorable man. The sex is appropriately violent and bloody for vampire characters. The ample backstory makes it unnecessary to have read any of the “Night Huntress” novels to become absorbed in the universe that multiple New York Times best seller Frost has created.
VERDICT Readers who enjoy paranormal romance with well-developed worldbuilding, whether familiar or not with the “Night Huntress” titles, should love this beginning of a new spin-off series and clamor for the next, as it ends on a huge cliff-hanger.—Charli Osborne, Southfield P.L., MI

Griffin, W.E.B & William E. Butterworth IV. The Enemy of My Enemy. Penguin. (Clandestine Operations, Bk. 5). Dec. 2018. 400p. ISBN 9780735213067. $29; ebk. ISBN 9780735213081. THRILLER
Coauthors Griffin and Butterworth continue their “Clandestine Operations” series with the fifth tale featuring Special Agent James Cronley Jr. (after Death at Nuremberg). Known as “Super Spook” for his uncanny espionage skills, this time Cronley is after two Nazi war criminals who have escaped from jail, presumably aided by Odessa. His quest gives him common purpose with an agent of the Soviet NKGB—it’s in the best interest of both the United States and the USSR to see the Nazi threat exterminated. Investigating the missing prisoners puts Cronley on the trail of a cache of Nazi money earmarked for a secret religion dedicated to the late Heinrich Himmler, and following the money takes Cronley to some unexpected places, forcing him to use his wit and talents to ensure that justice is served. While readers new to the series may need a few chapters to find their footing, series fans will jump right in to Cronley’s continuing adventures—and the ending will leave readers wondering what’s next for the Super Spook.
VERDICT Readers who enjoy World War II espionage thrillers will appreciate the combination of intricate conspiracies and fast-paced action.—Nanette Donohue, Champaign P.L., IL

Kim, Un-Su. The Plotters. Knopf. Jan. 2019. 304p. ISBN 9780385544382. $25.95; ebk. ISBN 9780385544399. THRILLER
After decades of military dictatorship in South Korea, democracy has brought with it a thriving assassination operation. Most of the business is led by Old Raccoon, who operates out of his Doghouse Library, and Stanford MBA Hanja, who also runs bodyguard and security businesses, thus controlling both the virus and the vaccine. Reseng is an unusual assassin. Found in a garbage can in front of a nunnery and adopted by Old Raccoon, he taught himself to read in the library (where, as a nine-year-old, he was stunned at Achilles’s stupidity at not protecting his one vulnerable area), was schooled in assassination, and marked his first kill when he was 17. Now 32, he strays from explicit instructions given by anonymous plotters, which could lead to his own death. When he finds a bomb in his toilet, he realizes that he’s a target, and he launches a search for the plotter who is after him.
VERDICT In this high-voltage story that requires Reseng to make instant life-or-death decisions, Kim, who has been called “the Korean Henning Mankell,” creates an adrenaline-fueled thriller in an alternate realm. [See Prepub Alert, 8/10/18.]—Michele Leber, Arlington, VA

LJ Reviews

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