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Books for Review should be sent to: Don D'Ammassa, 323 Dodge Street,  East Providence, RI 02914

Last Update 8/28/12

The Lost World by C.J. Henderson, Moonstone, 2012, $4.99, ISBN 978-1-936814-16-9 

I was quite surprised to find a Carl Kolchak, Night Stalker novel on a book rack, even more so to find the really low price – the book is only 124 pages long.  He gets drafted into an official investigation of something odd in South America after a strange encounter with a mystic, and promptly has an out of body experience.  Then his quest to find a mysterious society is hampered by the intervention of a drug lord and his thugs. Henderson does a good job of evoking the spirit of the television series initially, although it felt more like a Doc Savage novel by the end. This was a lot of fun and I’ll keep my eye open for more titles from this publisher, although I suspect they will be hard to find. 8/28/12

The Third Gate by Lincoln Child, Doubleday, 2012, $25.95, ISBN 978-0-385-53138-2

An expedition is formed to search the swampland at the head of the Nile River for the tomb of the first king of unified Egypt. There is a curse on the tomb, obviously, and it is echoed in the visions of a woman who has survived a near death experience and whose husband is the medical adviser for the expedition. The protagonist is a man who specializes in paranormal events, brought in as an extra safeguard when a series of accidents and malfunctions suggests that something other than chance is working. The buildup in this one is extremely well done as the incidents become more severe. I did, however, think the payoff failed to live up to what preceded it and since I can't talk about that without revealing surprises, you'll just have to take my word for it. But even with that cavil, this was one of the more riveting books I've read recently. 8/15/12

Kitty Steals the Show by Carrie Vaughn, Tor, 2012, $7.99, ISBN 978-0-7653-6566-8 

This is one of best written and most interesting urban fantasy series, sometimes edging into horror, although more in subject matter and plot than in tone. The protagonist is a benevolent werewolf celebrity who in this volume is a speaker at an international convention to discuss the supernatural. There is also a convention of vampires going on and Kitty’s connections there reveal a conflict among the undead that threatens to spill over into the world of normals. There are also old friends and enemies returned to stir the stew. This one almost reads like a mystery novel despite the supernatural elements. It’s about mid-quality for the series, which is as a whole well above average. 8/4/12

Blood and Silver by James R. Tuck, Kensington, 2012, $7.99, ISBN 978-0-7582-7148-8

The publisher lists this as Urban Fantasy, but it is definitely on the darker side. The protagonist is a male - which is unusual in itself - whose job is to protect the innocent, human or otherwise, from the predators, human or otherwise. There's the familiar conspiracy which puts our hero at a disadvantage, a wide variety of shapeshifting creatures, more overt action than  usual, and some actual inventive thinking in the plot structure and backdrop. There is also a good deal of wry humor sprinkled through. It's kind of a tough detective novel with horrific elements set in a contemporary fantasy world with overtones of a convention thriller. It's also the second in a series and I've never seen the first, but I didn't have any trouble picking up the story lines. 8/3/12

Uncommon Places by W.H. Pugmire, Hippocampus, 2012, $20, ISBN 978-1-61498-023-0 

I am generally not fond of the form most people think of as “prose poems”, that is, slice of light pieces that don’t have any real plot but are meant to provide a snapshot rather than a narrative. Not all works that get this label are that narrowly defined, but that’s what appears to have become the more common usage. This is a collection of pieces many of which fall into that category, others have a narrative, and others fall outside easy definition. I confess that most of these were not to my personal taste, although they were certainly well written.  The best, for me, were “The Host of Haunted Air”, “Some Distant Baying Sound”, and “The Zanies of Sorrow.” 7/28/12

Forever Azathoth by Peter Cannon, Hippocampus, 2012, $20, ISBN 978-1-61498-024-7 

I have long had a soft spot for parodies and pastiches. I’m not sure what the attraction is, but ever since reading a collection of them in grade school (I think it was edited by Carolyn Wells) I’ve watched for them. This is a reprint – although there might be some slightly different contents – of a 1999 collection. The longest and best is “The Thing on the Doorstep”, which pummels Lovecraft, but there are also pokes at everyone from William Faulkner to P.G. Wodehouse. I’d read most of these before and there’s a little bit of repetition from one to the next but they’re still fun. Humor often gets panned as not up to the measure of serious literature but that's snobbery. 7/27/12

Romeo Spikes by Joanne Reay, Gallery, 2012, $25, ISBN 978-1-4516-7444-6 

The protagonist of this supernatural thriller is a police officer who encounters a Tormenta, which is a variation of a succubus crossed with a vampire. The Tormenta are demons who can pass for humans – daylight or night time – and can extend their own existence by driving their victims to suicide, receiving as a reward the remaining years of that person’s natural life.  They’re bad enough already, but rumor has it that an even more powerful version of their kind is about to appear, and to forestall this our protagonist must explore ancient legends and infiltrate a secret society, because if she fails, the world may never be the same again. A promising plotline that doesn’t lend itself to its present tense narration. 7/25/12

The Room in the Tower by E.F. Benson, 1912 

A collection of stories of the supernatural, most of them traditional ghost stories, by a British writer actually better remembered for his mundane Mapp and Lucia novels. Some of Benson's ghosts appear physically while others are only heard, some are benevolent and some kill anyone who sees them. The best in the collection include the title story, “Caterpillars” – in which the ghosts are manifestations of the cancer that killed a former resident of the room in question – and “The Other Bed”, set in an inn where an empty bed seems not so empty after all. There’s even a touch of modernity; one of the ghosts manifests itself as a motorcar. Not as good on average as Benson’s later collection, Visible and Invisible, but remarkable durable. 7/23/12

Incredible Adventures by Algernon Blackwood, MacMillan, 1914 

Five stories by one of the most productive of the Edwardian horror writers. Blackwood’s horrors are often subtle and frequently involve elemental forces and their impingement upon our world. The stories here involve a man who feels that the universe has no gods, until he encounters something strange while climbing a mountain, a young man divorced from life until he witnesses a strange ritual performed by a tribe of outcasts, and a house dominated by the personality of its dead master. “The Damned”, a kind of haunted house story, is the strongest in the collection, closely followed by “A Descent into Egypt.” Blackwood’s style may put off some readers who prefer the thinner narrative forms which are now popular. 7/19/12

On Fire by Nancy Holder, Gallery, 2012, $11, ISBN 978-1-4516-7447-7

I always looked forward to Nancy Holder's Buffy the Vampire Slayer tie-ins because I thought she captured the spirit of the show much more effectively than most of the others doing similar projects. I can't say the same for this tie-in from Teen Wolf, but only because I've never seen the program, although having read this novel I've put the first season DVD set on my shopping list. It's not so much the plot - which involves a mystery hovering over a small town where brutal attacks have set nerves on edge and where our hero is coming to grips with the problems of being an involuntary shapechanger. The real power is in the characters and their interactions. I can't say it felt like another Buffy, but it's one of the rare werewolf novels I actually enjoyed. 7/16/12

Stalking the Others by Jess Haines, Zebra, 2012, $7.99, ISBN 978-1-4201-2402-6

Tainted Night, Tainted Blood by E.S. Moore, 2012, $7.99, ISBN 978-1-7582-6873-0

Two more novels perched on the border between horror and urban fantasy, and both predictably are parts of a series. The first one is closer to fantasy despite the werewolves and vampires. The protagonist is a private detective who gets drawn into the world of the paranormal and both of the previously mentioned critters have designs upon her. The first book I read by this author was somewhat lighter in tone if I remember correctly, but this is more reminiscent of Laurell Hamilton.  The Moore title is more specifically horror, with a benevolent female vampire as its protagonist. She has the job of protecting humans from rogue vampires and werewolves who break the rules an prey on them. This obviously makes her a lot of enemies, but the problem intensifies when someone begins acting parallel to her, and with less discrimination. Both novels have romantic elements, but both are relatively low key. I liked the latter somewhat better. The dialogue felt more realistic and the plotting was tighter. Both are competent examples of their form and urban fantasy fans should welcome them. 7/14/12

Visible and Invisible by E.F. Benson, Doran, 1922 

A collection of twelve stories, most of them horror, from a British writer perhaps better known for his Mapp and Lucia novels. Several of his best are included here, including “Mrs. Amworth,” “And the Dead Spake”, and “The Horror-Horn”, the last of which is one of the earliest stories dealing with the abominable snowman. “Negotium Perambulans” – in which a sluglike creature stalks the darkness – has also long been one of my favorites. Benson’s prose is crisp and clear and ages remarkably well. Most of these stories could be a modern setting with minor changes. If you like traditional British horror and haven’t tried Benson, you’re overdue. 7/13/12

Bad Men by John Connolly, Pocket, 2012 (originally published 2004), $16, ISBN 978-1-4516-6880-3

A crazed killer who is apparently reincarnated from a similar murderer who lived in colonial America leads a gang of cut throats to an island off the coast of Maine in pursuit of his runaway wife. The wife, who is becoming romantically involved with the local police officer, did not cover her tracks very well. The island, however, is haunted by those killed in the colonial massacre and its uneasy spirits have been stimulated by the imminent approach of violent men, and a chance for revenge against the reincarnated menace. As always Connolly pens a tight, very suspenseful story with a few surprises - some people die who shouldn't and others live whom I expected to die. I was a little disappointed in the island mythos, which seems inconsistent. If they're after evil people, why do the ghosts also kill some good ones? Otherwise, this was another winner and, alas, I only have one novel left to read by Connolly until he writes another. 7/8/12

Urn & Willow by Scott Thomas, Dark Regions, 2012, $16.95, ISBN 978-1-937128-36-4

A Little Help from My Fiends by Michael McCarty, Samsdot, 2009, $12.95, ISBN 978-0-9821068-9-1

Two very different collections of short horror fiction. Thomas writes in an older tradition, ghost stories set in the 19th Century of earlier. They are restrained, atmospheric, tend to be understated, avoid extreme descriptions, and often follow a discernible formula. They may seem old fashioned but there is something really appealing in a quietly told ghost story which operates by implication rather than explication. Several of them feel more like newspaper accounts than fiction. While few of them stand out individual, they create a kind of gestalt that makes the reader want to put on a robe, pour a glass of sherry, and curl up in front of the fireplace. McCarty, on the other hand, races off in multiple directions and is often over the top in his narratives. Each of the stories here is written with a collaborator, so that's not entirely surprising. The teammates include Charlee Jacob, Mark McLaughlin, Sandy Deluca, and several others. The stories involve everything from killer robots to alien invaders, and usually not entirely seriously. The Thomas collection is mulled wine; the McCarty is freshly made popcorn. 7/5/12

The Infernals by John Connolly, Atria, 2011, $15, ISBN 978-1-4516-4309-1 

Sequel to The Gates. Young Samuel Johnson thwarted a demonic invasion of Earth, but now he and several other living people have been transported to Hell by his old nemesis, Mrs. Abernathy. Fortunately he still has his ally, Nurd, the not particularly bad demon who has become his friend. But they have to find a way back before they meet their fate. Evil Mrs. Abernathy, another demon, is determined to thwart her enemies and avenge herself on Samuel. Another delightful romp full of humorous sidebars, colorful scenes and characters, and witty observations on a wide variety of subjects. These two books were quite a divergence from Connolly’s thrillers but they’re every bit as good. 7/4/12

The Undying Monster by Jessie Douglas Kerruish, Award, 1960 (originally published in 1922)

This surprisingly good horror novel from the 1920s was the basis of an interesting but less successful movie in 1942 and is the only occult novel by its author. The Hammond family has long been plagued by a curse - the periodic attacks on family members and friends of a mysterious monster that promptly disappears. When Oliver Hammond survives the first such incident in decades, his sister Swanhild prevails upon a psychic to help solve the mystery. She does so by investigating a barrow filled with Viking artifacts, a hidden room containing a Hand of Glory, and other arcane areas. The novel depends entirely on atmosphere and mystery and there is only one violent incident toward the end of the novel. It is nevertheless tense, well written, and ages quite well. 7/3/12

Dark Melodies by William Meikle, Dark Regions, 2012, $16.95, ISBN 978-1-937128-37-1

There are horror stories that reach out and grab you by the guts and twist them a little, usually by means of shocking imagery and visceral action. There is horror which pricks up your nerves and puts you on the edge of your seat by building suspense until you're almost afraid to turn the next page. And there is horror which seems relatively innocuous when you read it, but which has a  lingering effect that leads to moments of disquiet long after you've set the book aside. It is mostly the last of these that are displayed in this collection by William Meikle, eight tales of the supernatural most of which are apparently original to this book. As with the best of horror fiction, the stories are more about the characters than what happens to them, and the changes that result from their contact with something uncanny. Good collection. A couple of the stories could have benefited from being a bit longer but that's about the closest to a criticism I'm going to venture. 7/2/12

Technomancer by B.V. Larson, 47North, 2012, $14.95, ISBN 9781439293430

I was a little bit skeptical about this one. The promotional material identifies the authors as a "best selling author" but I've never heard the name before. He does seem to do well on Amazon although the books I see listed there are mostly digital and don't  look very appealing. On the other hand, this one is well written and certainly readable enough, treading the borderland between horror and urban fantasy. The protagonist wakes up in a hospital with amnesia, but discovers that in the past he has been involved in investigating the supernatural. He also finds out that he has been framed for a series of odd murders, and naturally the rest of the story involves his efforts to find out what happened to him and clear his name. Not the most original plot in the world, but handled nicely and the prose is certainly readable. It's not quite as suspenseful as the blurbs imply; it's actually rather sedate, but it's fun. First in a projected series. 6/27/12

The Gates by John Connolly, Washington Square, 2009

Having discovered Connolly's sometimes supernatural thriller series, I decided to pick up his other work. This is the first adventure of a young boy named Samuel Johnson (who has a dog named Boswell). In an effort to show initiative, he goes trick or treating three days early and stumbles upon four neighbors who have managed to open a door, though not yet the gates, to Hell, their efforts facilitated by an experiment at a supercollider. He spends the rest of the novel fending off attacks and foiling the demonically possessed humans, while trying without success to convince adults that he's telling the truth. Although there is some genuine creepiness, this is played mostly for laughs and quite cleverly so. It reminded me a great deal of Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, one of my favorite books. There's a sequel in my unreal pile, so you should be hearing about that one some time very soon. 6/25/12

Ghost Heart by Weston Ochse and Yvonne Navarro, Dark Regions, 2012, $16.95

A collaboration between two authors of whom I don't see enough. It's also a very unusual novel that is as much fantasy as horror. The protagonists are a boy and girl, one of whom has been traumatized by tensions between her parents. With an escort consisting of a dog and some ghosts, they wander off into a wasteland where they encounters a plethora of real and unreal creatures, ghosts, witches, and the like. They have various adventures, some of them very harrowing, and eventually the pair discover that they are on a quest, although that wasn't what either of them had in mind when they first set out. The story is episodic but the individual encounters are wrapped around the central plot quite nicely. For some reason this reminded me of the early Dark Tower books by Stephen King, although with a darker coloration. It's more a coming of age story with weird overtones than a suspenseful horror novel despite some quite creepy things that happen along the way. 6/23/12

By the Blood of Heroes by Joseph Nassise, Harper, 2012, $14,99, ISBN 978-0-06-204875-2

I ordinarily would not have read two consecutive zombie novels, but Nassise has written some very good stuff in the past and the plot in this seemed so much different that I decided to break my policy. It's the first in a series of alternate world horror novels in which the Germans develop corpse gas during World War I, which they can use to reanimate corpses, as well as control devices which they attach to the cadavers. This is pretty vaguely described. It also appears that some of these revenants retain their former skills so they can be used as fighter pilots. When a popular American pilot is taken prisoner of war, a rescue mission must penetrate enemy lines, living and dead, to bring him back. This was an okay adventure story but it really didn't feel remotely like horror. The zombies were just soldiers rather than anything particularly horrid. So on the one hand I was disappointed, while on the other, it was indeed a pretty good adventure story. 6/22/12

This Dark Earth by John Horner Jacobs, Gallery, 2012, $15, ISBN 978-1-45166666-3

The stream of zombie novels continues unabated. Despite a lot of same old same old, there have been a few that stood out - Amelia Beamer, Joan Frances Turner, etc.  This one is a little more original than most but what should have been suspenseful sequences were undermined by the present tense narrative. Now I know that I have a prejudice against it, but in this case it's really a problem because it sucks all of the horror out of the story, which might otherwise have been very good. And since it takes place over the course of several years - it's a coming of age story - the present tense narration just doesn't make sense. The plot? It's a zombie apocalypse with a group of survivors battling the zombies, a new plague, and other difficulties, before finally facing possible extermination at the hands of the living - a rival power - who in many ways are worse than the zombies.  Some nice stuff, but undermined by the narrative structure. 6/21/12

Werewolves of Wisconsin and Other Myths, Monsters, and Ghosts by Andy Fish, McFarland, 2012, $17.99, ISBN 978-0-7864-6798-3

I was not aware that this publisher did graphic novels until this turned up. I believe each of these short pieces is based on an actual American legend or historical event, including the famous Lizzie Border case, and the obvious one mentioned in the title. They're done in full color and the artwork is okay to pretty good. The stories are pretty much what you would expect from folklore, that is, they all seem vaguely familiar even if you haven't encountered them before and they all have the feel of urban legends rather than actual events. No real surprises, but I would not have expected any. 6/21/12

Silver by Rhiannon Held, Tor, 2012, $14.99, ISBN 978-0-7653-3037-6

Tor says this is urban fantasy and I guess it falls into that category as well, but it's essentially a werewolf novel with good and bad werewolves. The premise is a familiar one, although there are some interesting embellishments. Werewolves/shapechangers run in packs and have their own territory, and certain members of the pack are designated to maintain the security of their turf. The male protagonist is one of these enforcers who encounters a most unusual interloper, a shapechanger whose abilities, and disabilities, don't quite match the pattern. When he does so, he also discovers that there are people who are plotting the destruction of all of their kind. Pretty well written although for some reason I found it emotionally flat much of the time. I'd wager there will be a sequel. 6/12/12

Survivors by Z.A. Recht, with Thom Brannan, Gallery, 2012, $15, ISBN 978-1-4516-2882-1

This is the third and final novel of a zombie apocalypse trilogy, whose author apparently died quite young in 2009. Presumably the manuscript was finished or edited or both by Thom Brannan. This is one of those in which the cause is a new plague, and the novel follows various characters as they travel around in the aftermath trying to find a cure. There's also non-infected criminals and a government conspiracy. The prose is competent and there are some moments of genuine suspense, but there really isn't anything noteworthy about the writing or the story, and the characters are almost as flat and indistinguishable as the zombies. For devotees of the form primarily, although others might enjoy the action sequences. 6.4.12

Seed by Anya Ahlborn, 47North, 2012, $14.95, ISBN 9781612183664

I'm not particularly fond of possession stories, so this tale of a man whose young daughter begins to act very strangely had to struggle to engage my interest. It's a reflection of something mysterious in his own childhood, a period he prefers to forget. With his wife and two daughters, he sets out to make a life for himself, but cannot escape the demonic force which strikes through the younger child. There are occasional awkward moments in the prose but nothing fatal. The story, however, is very predictable including what was probably meant to be a shocking surprise ending, but which mirrors so many recent horror movies that it is almost a cliche. It's readable enough though not particularly "in the tradition of Stephen King." 6/3/12

Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig, Angry Robot, 2012, $7.99, ISBN 978-0-85766-230-9

I almost never see Angry Robot books in this area, so finding this was a pleasant surprise. Although it's called urban fantasy on the covers, it's a horror novel, a marketing ploy I find irritating while understanding that it helps the author's sales. This one has a familiar premise. The protagonist is a young woman with clairvoyant powers who is able to foresee people's deaths, and who views this talent as a curse rather than a gift. When she encounters a man whose violent death is not far off, she sees a link to herself and realizes that it is quite possible that her own fate is tied up with this particular prospective victim. I managed to finish this despite the annoying use of present tense narration, which seemed particularly out of place given the nature of this particular story, so it's probably well above average because I usually don't bother. 6/1/12

Blood of Innocence by Tami Dane, Kensington, 2012, $7.99, ISBN 978-0-7582-6710-8

Second in the Sloan Skye series. Skye is an FBI agent who finds herself in a secret division that deals with supernatural criminals. When a number of young women turn up dead with the blood drained from their bodies, it's pretty obvious the killer is some kind of vampire. The story that follows is pretty standard but like the first in the series, this The romance factor is way overdone this time and there's really not much mystery. Dane writes agreeable prose but her pacing continues to be problematic. 5/29/12

Perception by Kim Harrington, Point, 2012, $16.99, ISBN 978-0-545-23053-7

Second in the Clarity Fern series for young adults. Psychometry, deriving information by physically touching objects associated with that information, is a supernatural power, but in this case the story is more of a mystery than a horror. Fern, whose first adventure I've not seen, is now widely known as being psychic after solving the murder in the first book. Predictably, she wants to blend into the crowd and is rather embarrassed by it all, but it gets worse when she picks up a secret admirer/stalker. When another teenager goes missing and Fern suspects that her admirer is not all that he seems, she decides to investigate despite her reluctance to get involved again and in due course she finds the truth, which I obviously can't tell you here. It's been done before, but it's carried off pretty well here. 5/28/12

Blood Lite III: Aftertaste edited by Kevin J. Anderson, Pocket, 2012, $7.99, ISBN 978-1-4516-3624-6 

Truth in advertising: I have a story in here. The third collection of dark but humorous stories from the Horror Writers Association opens with a nice Harry Dresden short by Jim Butcher, followed by a very funny tale of golfing during a zombie apocalypse by Joel Sutherland. Christopher Golden has a good, but not very funny, story about clowns and a deal with a demon. Stephen Dorato describes what it’s like for the singles scene after the apocalypse. Heather Graham has a creepy haunted house story, but it's deadly serious. Similarly Daniel Pyle's account of a senile serial killer is good, but not funny. John Alfred Taylor's story about a steeple factory run by demons is quite good, and funny. Brad Hodson has an amusing story about a con job run by Dracula and Van Helsing. A couple of the stories are funny, but not really stories, like a dark parody of software license agreements or a set of acknowledgments. The style of humor ranges widely, from subtle to over the top absurdity. In addition to those mentioned above, I also particularly liked the stories by Eric James Stone, James Ryan, Nina Kiriki Hoffman, L.A. Banks, Lucien Soulban, and Lisa Morton. 5/16/12

Black Static 28, 2012, Ł3.95

This is the third issue I've seen of this UK horror magazine. There are five short stories, all by names unfamiliar to me, as well as an array or reviews and other material. As with the first two, it is visually very impressive, although perhaps a bit too busy at times. The stories are all interesting but none of them really stands out this time, and I'd say this was the weakest of the three issues I've read, though that's by no means knocking the quality of the stories. Carole Johnstone and Joel Lane have slightly better stories but the margin isn't much. Lots of color illustrations and photos and a probably necessary nod to media oriented horror and SF. Worth reading. 5/9/12

The Weird edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer, Tor, 2012, $29.99, ISBN 978-0-7653-3362-9

There is really no way to adequately review this very large collection -110 stories in 1100 pages. Arranged chronologically by publication date, it starts in 1906, ends in 2010, and includes stories by some of the most famous and respected names in the genre. A few of them are very familiar - "Sredni Vashtar", "The Dunwich Horror," and "It's a Good Life" for examples - but most are not quite the most famous stories by their famous authors, including selections from F. Marion Crawford, Lucius Shepard, Stephen King, and others. There are also stories from authors who generally had limited careers but who made a distinct impression during their times like William Browning Spencer and William Sansom. I kept this by my bed with the intention of reading two or three stories per night, but the temptation to read just one more occurred with regularity. Most of these I had read before, many of them were old favorites, and a few were quite new. But with very few exceptions, they were all very rewarding for either the first or tenth time I'd read them. 5/7/12

Deadfall Hotel by Steve Rasnic Tem, Solaris, 2012, $9.99, ISBN 978-1-907992-83-4

Steve Rasnic Tem often explores the less familiar aspects of the horror genre, as is the case here. The protagonist and his daughter move to the mysterious Deadfall Motel, where he has been hired as manager, but before he realized just how unusual the job is going to be. The hotel is patronized by a variety of people/creatures who aren't always entirely human. The hotel itself changes its layout spontaneously at times and some of the guests are potentially very dangerous. Despite the plethora of the supernatural, this is a relatively quiet horror novel, more about atmosphere and human emotion than overt horror or bloody dismemberments. I would not have expected the latter from Tem, whose work has always been on the subtle side. If you're a fan of made for video horror slashers, this probably won't light your fire, but if you like thoughtful, disquieting horror stories, you should pick up a copy. 5/5/12

The Lingering Dead by J.N. Duncan, Kensington, 2012, $7.99, ISBN 978-0-7582-5565-5

I disliked the first in this paranormal romance series, never saw the second, but the third arrived just as I my mood changed so I decided to give it a try. It's better than the first, but the problems I had with that one remain, although they're not as intrusive. Primarily I don't like the protagonist. She's irritating and unsympathetic and I didn't really care if she solved her mystery, resolved her romantic problems, or rescued the imprisoned ghosts. The story tended to plod at times. It's a mixture of office and sexual politics, dream creatures, passages back and forth from the world of the living and that of the dead, and some malevolent entities that need to be defeated. Some of the other characters come off better this time though and I thought the overall plot was better conceived and executed. I might not read the next one, but you never know. Or at least I don't. 5/3/12