Xpress Reviews: Fiction | First Look at New Books, October 25, 2013

Week ending October 25, 2013

Adeline, Marie L. S.E.C.R.E.T. Shared. Broadway. (S.E.C.R.E.T. Trilogy, Bk. 2). Oct. 2013. 304p. ISBN 9780804136860. $15; ebk. ISBN 9780804136877. F/EROTICA
The S.E.C.R.E.T. society is at work again, this time on new recruit Dauphine Mason, a timid woman who seems to use organization and retro fashion as a means of coping with her traumatic past. Cassie Robichaud returns, fresh from her own heartbreak (S.E.C.R.E.T.), to serve as Dauphine’s guide. S.E.C.R.E.T. orchestrates a series of fantasies for Dauphine that begin to rebuild her self-esteem and open her up to a realm of sexual freedom she’d never known. However, both women find their confidence and their allegiance to S.E.C.R.E.T. tested as complications arise in the form of old flames and new lovers.
Verdict Though well written and engaging for the most part, S.E.C.R.E.T. Shared does have a tendency to get a bit lost in the poetry of its own description, particularly when it comes to the sex scenes. The “society” component allows for a variety of fantasies that will appeal to diverse erotic appetites, although the formulaic structure and details of each encounter threaten to become monotonous. Yet the impressively complex narrative will keep readers guessing throughout. The pseudonymous Adeline does an excellent job of infusing her characters with a lot of heart in a short amount of time, and the final twist leaves an obvious opening for the inevitable third series installment. Recommended for fans of S.E.C.R.E.T. and those who enjoy a healthy dose of plot with their erotica.—Ashleigh Williams, Library Journal

Loomis, Gregg. The First Casualty. MysteriousPress.com: Open Road. Nov. 2013. 287p. ISBN 9781480426863. $14.99; ebk. ISBN 9781480426825. F
When an Air France flight crashes in the Atlantic, the subsequent investigation proves that one of our worst nightmares has come true. The plane was brought down by a high-powered laser, which was based on ideas proposed by legendary scientist Nikola Tesla a century ago. But who did it and why? Jason Peters, a former operative for a shadowy organization called Narcom, is brought out of retirement to investigate. Narcom takes care of messy problems for our government and does so in very deadly and extralegal ways. In this third thriller featuring Peters (after Gates of Hades and Hot Ice), the characters are colorful and the action nonstop and wide-ranging.
Verdict Despite the over-the-top science, some minor plot glitches, and a not very original premise (an entity like Narcom), this technothriller offers solid entertainment for fans of the genre.—Robert Conroy, Warren, MI

Matthews, John. Letters from a Murderer. Exhibit A: Angry Robot. Oct. 2013. 416p. ISBN 9781909223370. pap. $14.99; ebk. ISBN 9781909223387. MYS
New York, 1891. When a prostitute is found brutally disemboweled, there’s only one question on Manhattanites’ minds: Has the Ripper crossed the pond? The city is in a panic by the time New York cop Joseph Argenti and English pathologist Finley Jameson are assigned to investigate. As the body count rises and the taunting letters commence, Argenti and Jameson battle police corruption, murderous street gangs, and their own dark pasts in a race to catch the killer before he strikes again.
Verdict The deceptively sedate start to this racehorse of a narrative gives way to a thrilling dash for the finish. Part noir thriller, part potboiler, Matthews’s (Past Imperfect) latest is likely to be wholly satisfying to Ripperologists and Victorian enthusiasts. Fans of Matthew Pearl, Alex Grecian, Lyndsay Faye, and Alan Moore should take special note.—Liv Hanson, Chicago

starred review starSegal, Lore. Half the Kingdom. Melville House. Oct. 2013. 176p. ISBN 9781612193021. $23.95; ebk. ISBN 9781612193038. F
Joe Bernstine is dying. Fans of Segal’s books may remember Joe as the director of a think tank in her previous collection of interconnected short stories, Shakespeare’s Kitchen, short-listed for a Pulitzer Prize. Joe is working on a project to catalog “end of the world” scenarios. He’s hired his daughter Bethy, an old friend Lucy Friedgold, Lucy’s son Benedict, and a computer whiz named Al. Nothing, however, goes as planned. Joe ends up in a hospital where there seems to be an epidemic of perfectly sane seniors developing dementia within hours of arrival. Is this a terrorist plot? Is it something the hospital is doing? Segal artfully connects the stories of several individuals’ lives into a patchwork quilt of the elderly trying to survive their last days, dealing with their children and grandchildren, holding grudges, and then letting them go.
No one tells a story better than the 85-year-old Segal. With a few carefully chosen words, she is able to create a real person and in this novel at least 20 fully fleshed-out characters. Each one is unique, and their end-of-life scenarios will resonate with anyone who has dealt with aging parents or is in the post-65-year-old demographic.—Andrea Kempf, formerly with Johnson Cty. Community Coll. Lib., Overland Park, KS

Bette-Lee Fox About Bette-Lee Fox

Bette-Lee Fox (blfox@mediasourceinc.com) is Managing Editor, Library Journal.

Now in her 46th year with Library Journal, Bette-Lee also edits LJ's Video Reviews column, six times a year Romance column, and e-original Romance reviews, which post weekly as LJ Xpress Reviews. She received the Romance Writers of America (RWA) Vivian Stephens Industry Award in 2013 for having "contributed to the genre or to RWA in a significant and/or continuing manner"