The End Of October by Lawrence Wright


The End Of October by Lawrence Wright
Publisher: Penguin Random House UK
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Fern

In this riveting medical thriller–from the Pulitzer Prize winner and best-selling author–Dr. Henry Parsons, an unlikely but appealing hero, races to find the origins and cure of a mysterious new killer virus as it brings the world to its knees.

At an internment camp in Indonesia, forty-seven people are pronounced dead with acute hemorrhagic fever. When Henry Parsons–microbiologist, epidemiologist–travels there on behalf of the World Health Organization to investigate, what he finds will soon have staggering repercussions across the globe: an infected man is on his way to join the millions of worshippers in the annual Hajj to Mecca. Now, Henry joins forces with a Saudi prince and doctor in an attempt to quarantine the entire host of pilgrims in the holy city . . . A Russian émigré, a woman who has risen to deputy director of U.S. Homeland Security, scrambles to mount a response to what may be an act of biowarfare . . . Already-fraying global relations begin to snap, one by one, in the face of a pandemic . . . Henry’s wife, Jill, and their children face diminishing odds of survival in Atlanta . . . And the disease slashes across the United States, dismantling institutions–scientific, religious, governmental–and decimating the population. As packed with suspense as it is with the fascinating history of viral diseases, Lawrence Wright has given us a full-tilt, electrifying, one-of-a-kind thriller.

A race-against-time thriller as one man must find the origins for a new killer virus that has brought the world to it’s knees.
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I’ve not read many “end of the world” or “plague” type thrillers in the last eighteen months or so for the simple reason it feels rather like we’re currently living on one of those stories and I’m feeling pretty weary of it all. But I kept on seeing good reviews for this novel and it’s in a bunch of the stores lately so I finally caved in and bought a copy because I usually really enjoy them. I’m pleased I did because this was a good story – even if many factors of it hit rather close to home right now.

Considering this book was written before Covid-19 was a reality – let alone in pretty much every major headline worldwide – I feel the author did a remarkable job, both with his research but also with a pretty fair guess as to how a lot of the politics and medical bodies worldwide would react. A major factor in my enjoyment of this story was also that even though the book is quite political and medical focused – as you would expect in a plague type of mystery-thriller story – I feel all the major characters were highly relatable. The author has a really good and relaxed style of voice and writing and this made many of the characters really enjoyable to me, I could easily empathize with them and the situation they found themselves in and even some of the smaller characters, like Bambang, who were from a different culture, a different religion and a completely different walk of life, the author showcased Bambang in such a way I could not just see where his choices and actions came from, but why he made these decisions and I could easily relate to him despite our lives being completely different. It was a lovely feeling and really got me hooked into the story.

I admit I found the start of the story (maybe the first quarter of it or less) was a little slow moving. I strongly feel readers should stick with it though because there are a number of different, complex working parts to this story (different medical facilities, different parts of the world that are extremely important and different government/political regimes) that all need to be lined up, explained and laid out in order for the reader to fully grasp how all the dominoes fall once the virus gets out of control. Understandably there are a number of different things that all happen in tandem that need to be followed and having it all lined up correctly in the beginning is crucial. So while a part of me could see the pandemic begin to flourish and I wanted to go faster and faster the author did an excellent job really getting everything outlined clearly and all the characters introduced and ready for the explosion to occur.

In many respects this is simply a really well written pandemic story but in the current circumstances I find my enjoyment and tolerance for these stories fairly short. So the fact I really enjoyed this is testament to how well it’s written and how gripping I found the tale. Better still there is a solid “wrap up” and explanation at the end and while it was a bit of a twist (and dealt with very quickly) I was pleased that those loose ties were indeed wrapped up and we weren’t left hanging not really knowing how the outbreak happened. I’m not sure all readers will be as pleased as I was with the ending – and while I didn’t guess it, I would expect some readers probably will, but it was nice to not have dangling threads of plot and wondering for a while after I’d finished the book.

A solid and enjoyable read and one I will likely come back to another time.

The Chelsea Girls by Fiona Davis


The Chelsea Girls by Fiona Davis
Publisher: Dutton/Penguin
Genre: Recent Historical, Women’s Fiction
Length: Full Length (352 pgs)
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

From the dramatic redbrick facade to the sweeping staircase dripping with art, the Chelsea Hotel has long been New York City’s creative oasis for the many artists, writers, musicians, actors, filmmakers, and poets who have called it home—a scene playwright Hazel Riley and actress Maxine Mead are determined to use to their advantage. Yet they soon discover that the greatest obstacle to putting up a show on Broadway has nothing to do with their art, and everything to do with politics. A Red scare is sweeping across America, and Senator Joseph McCarthy has started a witch hunt for Communists, with those in the entertainment industry in the crosshairs. As the pressure builds to name names, it is more than Hazel and Maxine’s Broadway dreams that may suffer as they grapple with the terrible consequences, but also their livelihood, their friendship, and even their freedom.

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Snooping, concern and McCarthyism… oh my!

This is my first book by Fiona Davis and I’m glad I got the chance to read it. I’ve been on a binge reading recent historical and historical novels, especially if there’s a period in history that interests me. This one did because I enjoy the 1950s. This book deals with women handling the highs and lows of the McCarthy era.

The plot is interesting. A pair of women living in the famed Chelsea Hotel in New York with the artists and artsy types. One is an actress and the other a playwright. Interesting, right? I mean, I read Trumbo and have done reading about that era. There’s a lot to work with.

But this book deals more with the characters, not so much the time period. The Chelsea Hotel becomes a character, which is neat because it becomes more of a person than a thing. I liked that aspect. The characters of Hazel and Maxine left a little to be desired. I wanted to like them. I wanted to root for them, but they seemed a bit too one-dimensional to me. Now other readers might love them. They just didn’t strike a chord with me. It was more like reading diaries or the everyday lives in detail, rather than being drawn into the story. Again, it might just not have been the right book for me at this time.

It’s a good enough book that I suggest you try it for yourself. You might love it. It might be the read you’re looking for. Give it a shot.

Deceptions by Kelley Armstrong

KELLEY
Deceptions by Kelley Armstrong
Publisher: Dutton – An Imprint of Penguin Random House
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Paranormal, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (453 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Thistledown

TRUST NO ONE

Olivia Jones is desperate for the truth. The daughter of convicted serial killers, she has begun to suspect that her parents are innocent of their crimes. But who can she trust, in a world where betrayal and deception hide in every shadow?

RISK EVERYTHING

Liv does have one secret weapon: a mysterious sixth sense that helps her to anticipate danger. The trouble is, this rare power comes with its own risks. There are dark forces that want to exploit Liv’s talents – and will stop at nothing to win her to their side.

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Now Liv must decide, before it’s too late. Who does she love? Who is really on her side? And can she save herself without burning down everything that matters most?

Deceptions and illusions at every turn.

Olivia Taylor-Jones has just had her life upended. She has discovered she’s adopted and her real parents are convicted serial killers. Hiding in the small town of Cainesville to escape media attention, she finds herself at the center of a very different sort of plot that may or may not involve the true nature of her parents. Behind the lies and pretty fakery lie the twisted secrets of the fae and their trickery runs deep.

There are several aspects to this novel. One is the Welsh mythology that runs throughout. I found that fascinating in the extreme. Without having read the first two books however, I was utterly lost and floundered around like a misplaced fish. So-take my advice and don’t pick this book up until you’ve had the pleasure of reading the first two. They are now on my list. With all the mysteries dredged up, the plot kept me guessing and summarily scratching my head. I just didn’t have the correct context in which to read the book in the middle of the series. The author has too many things going on and you need to have the solid background for the book to flesh out in the appropriate fashion.

Another appealing facet of this book was the love triangle between Olivia, Gabriel and Ricky. There was tension in the air and wow…you can feel something building here. Sort of Twilight-ish. Ricky is perfect-in my mind almost too perfect for a biker. Gabriel is moody and I’m not altogether sure where things are going to lead but either way, it’s going to be interesting.

The nightmarish quality of Olivia’s visions was the part that intrigued me the most. Her heritage brings her down all manner of dark passages and leaps in time and space. And bodies for that matter. Despite not knowing exactly what I was reading, I was transfixed by the sheer creep factor of Olivia being inside of her mother’s body while she was in the asylum watching her relative-and seeing the true nature of the nurse as a shining one. So cool. The rage. The thrumming emotion. It was as vibrant as any painting. There is a lot of fear of the unknown and it floods the pages, making any lover of horror, romance or fantasy just revel in it.

My rating of 4/5 is mostly based on the fact that picking up the book, I wanted to be able to understand what was going on and at least be able to have a point of reference without having to have read the others in the series. I didn’t have that and was quite frustrated. If not for that, this would be a five star all the way. The characters were alive. The sex scenes-the ones that there were-were hot and appropriate for the story line. The dialogue was spot on. The mythology nicely woven into the fiber of the book. With Kelly Armstrong I would expect nothing less. She is one of my favorite PNR authors and has been for years. I will be going back and investing time and money in the other books in the series because now I simply have to find out what the heck is going on. The mystery is too compelling for me not to.

Read them in order-but read them. And be sure to sleep with the lights on.

Siren’s Call by Jayne Castle

CALL
Siren’s Call by Jayne Castle
Publisher: Penguin
Genre: Action/Adventure Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full Length (246 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

In the mysterious world of Harmony, there are places filled with unexplored marvels. But Rainshadow Island isn’t about to give up its secrets…

In the alien catacombs of Rainshadow, there are creatures whose compelling songs lure the unwary to their death. That’s why Rafe Coppersmith, hired to clear out the catacombs for exploration, needs a music talent. He’s knows the perfect one, but she probably doesn’t want anything do with him…

Ella Morgan had once fallen hard and fast for Rafe, but then he disappeared for months…and he’s not about to tell her why. Ella, too, has secrets that only her dust bunny knows. She’s not just a music talent, she’s a Siren: a paranormal singer capable of singing men to sleep—or to their deaths.

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The dust bunny in Siren’s Call cracked me up. She dragged that wedding veil everywhere! I love their attachments to bling. Dust bunnies never cease to amaze and amuse which only enhance the stories they are found in. In this adventure, Ella and Rafe are two unlikely people who meet under the weirdest and dangerous of situations. Lorelei, the dust bunny, is a fluffy heroine from the get-go. She and her new partner, Ella, become a vital team especially once the heroine, Ella, finds herself in a pickle where only a dust bunny’s alien talents can save the day. Even big, hunky, alpha, chip-on-his-shoulder Rafe had to agree.

I always enjoy my visits to Ms. Castle’s planet Harmony because it’s always so unusual and surprising. Each book takes place where a discovery of alien influence occurs and this one is no exception. What was surprising were the dinosaurs. I actually felt bad for them once Ella figures out what is going on, and what had happened in the past. But that didn’t stop them from being significant reasons for fear, drama and action.

Another thing I enjoy about Ms. Castle’s stories is how she weaves villains in, leaving red herrings to distract a reader while drawing us closer and closer to the real plot conflict and motivation behind the criminal activity. There’s always someone who is so villainous, they’d be eligible to join the “injustice league” but Superman can’t be found here on Rainshadow. Only Rafe and his fevered dreams, which, incidentally, turn out to be sort of like a superpower. It took Ella’s faith and confidence in him to stop fighting it and embrace what he feared. Once he does, the hero works wonders. I adore the scenario of a hero or heroine being supported by the ones who love them to such a degree that they accomplish feats unimaginable to them prior. Ella does that for Rafe. I’d call that a superpower too.

Humorous dust bunny antics aside, the story does have its moments of seriousness and mystery. There’s action, suspense, and donuts. Yes, donuts are a serious business but only by reading the book will a reader understand why. You could have knocked me down with a feather.

I greatly enjoyed it when Rafe and Ella finally got together. I also found it amusing as to how hard it was for Rafe to give in to his falling in love with Ella. The more they fight it, the harder they fall and that applies to the hero. Entertaining reading, for sure.

Siren’s Call is another excellent adventure on Rainshadow Island and not to be missed by fans of the series. I think this could be read as a standalone because it does focus primarily on Ella and Rafe with only vague references of past stories of the supporting cast.

Ms. Castle has another winner on her hands with this one and I definitely recommend it. A fan’s bookshelf would not be complete without a copy of Siren’s Call added to it. I have it on mine.

Echoes by Laura K Curtis

ECHOS
Echoes by Laura K Curtis
Publisher: Penguin
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (282 pgs)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Aloe

Who is she?

A single photo of herself as an infant on a beach, taken before the date on her birth certificate, throws everything Calliope Pearson knows about herself into question. Hoping to find answers, she takes advantage of her job as a travel writer to make a reservation at the Caribbean island resort in the picture.

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The deeper Callie and Mac dive into the mystery of her past, the more bodies surface. And they’ll have to learn to trust each other, or become victims of a dark danger neither could’ve imagined…

After her father’s death, Calli finds a photo hidden behind another when she changes frames. The problem she has with it is that it shows her as a baby in her mother’s arms and it predates her own birth certificate. How did that happen? Were her parents lying to her? Why would they be at that Caribbean resort anyway? She has the perfect excuse to visit the resort; she’s a freelance writer that does articles about vacation spots.

Ms. Curtis writes a fast paced story with a complex plot. She combines gun running, genetics, a secret agency, and a madman all together in a mix of a search for answers and danger. Her characters are real, some a little too real. It didn’t take me long to read this entire book. I didn’t want to set it down and do something else, I wanted to see what was going to happen.

Calli didn’t expect to make an enemy as soon as she stepped in the hotel, but that’s what happened. The chief security guard thought his wife had sent her. After all, she looked like her but was a bit more filled out. Callie had no idea what Mac was talking about, but she knew she didn’t like him and his pushy ways.

As the story goes along, Ms. Curtis introduces you to the madman. You don’t know who he is and you aren’t quite sure what he’s trying to do but he still manages to scare you.

The author paces the story well, keeps spiking your adrenaline with the close misses, and it’s only with the help of the high level security agency that they have a fighting chance. She gives you strong characters and a romance to keep the story interesting. Ms. Curtis did a very nice job on this one.

Girl Underwater by Claire Kells

GIRL
Girl Underwater by Claire Kells
Publisher: Penguin/Dutton
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary
Length: Full Length (300 pgs)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Hawthorn

Nineteen-year-old Avery Delacorte loves the water. Growing up in Brookline, Massachusetts, she took swim lessons at her community pool and captained the local team; in high school, she raced across bays and sprawling North American lakes. Now a sophomore on her university’s nationally ranked team, she struggles under the weight of new expectations but life is otherwise pretty good. Perfect, really.

That all changes when Avery’s red-eye home for Thanksgiving makes a ditch landing in a mountain lake in the Colorado Rockies. She is one of only five survivors, which includes three little boys and Colin Shea, who happens to be her teammate. Colin is also the only person in Avery’s college life who challenged her to swim her own events, to be her own person—something she refused to do. Instead she’s avoided him since the first day of freshman year. But now, faced with sub-zero temperatures, minimal supplies, and the dangers of a forbidding nowhere, Avery and Colin must rely on each other in ways they never could’ve imagined.

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Girl Underwater is a suspenseful mix of the struggle to survive and the gentle, but strong emotions that can only develop in the most extreme situations.

The switching back and forth between the days after the plane crash and Avery’s present day effort to cope with the psychological consequences of the trauma propels the story forward. The reader keeps guessing about what will happen next or what exactly happened in those five days of terror that affected Avery so much that she still can’t let go.

This story is much more than just a romance. It’s a novel about growing up, about coming to terms with a horrific event and with life in general. It’s also a story populated with strong characters that are likeable and realistic and that we care for since the very beginning. Despite the focus being on Avery and her struggle, first to survive, and later with PTSD, the author also managed to write very detailed scenes in the wilderness of the Rockies that evoked the desperation of the five survivors. Those chapters were filled with tension, but also with hope and warmth because of the genuine relationships that developed between Avery, the boys and Colin.

A little less convincing were Avery’s reasons for avoiding Colin at the beginning of the story and I kept waiting to read a deeper, more unpleasant reason behind it, but apart from that first meeting of theirs, nothing else was offered as an explanation. Similarly, the ending felt a bit disjointed. Towards the end, Avery changed her mind about how she felt a few too many times, so the epilogue came a bit out of the blue, although it offered a satisfying ending after the harrowing tale.

The descriptions of Avery’s PTSD were very vivid and I could feel her struggle throughout the novel. It made me really feel for her. I admired her strength, but also her parents for raising her to be the independent, strong woman that she was. The family scenes, both Avery’s and Colin’s, were very precious and infused the novel with a feeling of hope.

Girl Underwater is a gripping tale of survival, growing up, friendship and the most epic sort of love. You just have to dive in and let it knock the air out of you by its intensity and optimism.

Tempted by the Billionaire Tycoon by Jennifer St. George

BILLIONAIRE
Tempted by the Billionaire Tycoon by Jennifer St. George
Publisher: Penguin Australia
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (134 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Hawthorn

Three strikes and you’re out…

A series of strange accidents are occurring at Sirona, a luxury spa resort in the picturesque English countryside. Billionaire owner Nic Capitini wants the person responsible sacked. But the law requires he give three official warnings. Nic checks in undercover to gather the evidence he needs, and when he arrives to find his general manager enjoying the spa’s facilities, he doesn’t think it will prove very challenging.

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Mixing business and pleasure can be problematic, but it can also be irresistible, especially when it comes to Poppy and Nic.

Nic is a self-made billionaire with a dark family past. His main focus in his adult life has been his business, so it’s understandable that he is very protective of it. When the events at one of his resorts endanger his success, he flies to England to personally sack the manager. He doesn’t expect to encounter the innovative, capable and feisty Poppy.

I loved Poppy’s character because she was independent and strong. She’d supported herself and her sister since her teens. Her energetic personality was a great counterpart to Nic’s principled view of things, and both helped create great chemistry and a deep conflict between them. It was easy to understand their motivation and sympathize with their struggles as they began to feel mutual attraction.

While the characters were well-developed, the story and plot were rather cliché and too predictable. I figured out who the saboteur at the resort was much too early, so there was practically no suspense left for me. Even the romance between Nic and Poppy developed in a predictable way and thus made it less enchanting. I wished for a surprise twist, something that would show them and their relationship in a different light.

The story ends with a happy ending that is perhaps a bit too fairytale-like and slightly spoils the otherwise lovely story. With all the troubles that Poppy and Nic had had, they were solved too easily in the end. I felt the plot needed either a more realistic ending, or maybe a longer finale in which the resolution would slowly come together.

What I really liked in this novel was the main character, Poppy, and I’d recommend the book to anyone who likes strong female characters.

Perfect Mate by Jennifer Ashley

MATE
Perfect Mate by Jennifer Ashley
Publisher: Penguin
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Short Story (119 pages)
Other: M/F
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Lisianthus

New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Ashley continues her Shifters Unbound series with the tale of a hot hunk of a bear Shifter on the hunt for a mate…

Cormac has been moving from one Shiftertown to the next in search of a mate. Now he’s in Southern Nevada, where a beautiful, unmated bear Shifter greets him…with a shotgun in her hands.
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Nell is a hot-tempered mother of two cubs, and she doesn’t take kindly to new Shifters showing up in town without her consent—even one with a sexy smile and brilliant blue eyes.

But when her sons are endangered and she desperately needs help protecting them, Cormac proves he’s worthy of her trust as well as her desire.

A quick novella that dives back into the wonderful world of Shifters Unbound, a series that is wonderfully built and well done. It has it all, rich history, great characters, and new surprises always popping up.

This is an older novella, but it had the same chemistry between Nell and Cormac I’ve come to expect. And the way and the reasons that Cormac seeks out Nell is just plain romantic and well done.

There is a bit of suspense thrown in with some bad humans and bad shifters that allow Cormac to show that he really means it when he says he loves Nell, and will protect her and her sons. I really enjoyed this story, yes it is quick, and Nell and Cormac fall for each other fast, but when it’s right it’s right. These two are definitely right and meant for each other.

Just enough history and story to satisfy old friends of the series, and enough of a taste of the author’s writing style and the world of shifters to hook in new readers. Ms. Ashley has a written a fabulous story to showcase her world all the while only being a short enough read to whet your appetite for more.

Captive by A.D. Robertson

CAPTIVE
Captive by A.D. Robertson
Publisher: Dutton/Penquin
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full Length (306 pages)
Other: M/F
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Stephantois

Twenty-five-year-old Tristan Doran enjoys a life of incredible power and privilege. As a direct descendant of the Keepers—witches who have embraced dark magic—he defers to no one but his overlord, Lord Bosque Mar. For most of his life, Tristan has been kept out of the centuries-old Witches War, his bloodline too valuable to risk in battle.

But when a beautiful, young human Searcher named Sarah is captured and made a prisoner in his Irish castle, Tristan’s infatuation with her flings him headlong into the fray. Captive and captor, unable to contain their longing, embark on a passionate, forbidden romance together—only to learn that their love is at the heart of a prophecy predicting the downfall of the Keepers’ ages-old reign.
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Captive explores the darker side of the richly imagined Nightshade universe, a fantasy world of powerful dark witches, shape-shifting wolf warriors, and fascinating history. The first of three erotic novels, Captive delves deeply into the fiery, illicit romance of two young lovers whose very desires invite their doom.

Having not read the Nightshade young adult novels by this author, I had to get quickly caught up with the paranormal world of Captive. There’s lots going on in the beginning of the story and the author does a good job filling you in on some of the paranormal elements and characters, like the Keepers and Searchers.

I loved the setting which the author conveyed perfectly to set up the danger and intrigue in this story. It reminded me of some of the older gothic novels I’d read many years ago. Tristan is a sexy hero, who comes across as a nice guy even when he discovers the heroine, and intruder, Sarah, naked on his bed.

There’s nothing quite like a romance between two sworn enemies and that’s exactly what you get with Captive. The paranormal world set up by the author is also fascinating with its wolves and witches.

It’s a page turner and I continued on just to see what happened between the two main characters. I’m not sure if there will be more books for adults in the Nightshade series, but it will be fun to check back to see where the author goes from here.

Deadlocked by Charlaine Harris

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Deadlocked by Charlaine Harris
Publisher: Berkley Publishing, Penguin Group
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Full Length (327 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

It’s vampire politics as usual around the town of Bon Temps, but never before have they hit so close to Sookie’s heart…

Growing up with telepathic abilities, Sookie Stackhouse realized early on there were things she’d rather not know. And now that she’s an adult, she also realizes that some things she knows about, she’d rather not see—like Eric Northman feeding off another woman. A younger one.

There’s a thing or two she’d like to say about that, but she has to keep quiet—Felipe de Castro, the Vampire King of Louisiana (and Arkansas and Nevada), is in town. It’s the worst possible time for a human body to show up in Eric’s front yard—especially the body of the woman whose blood he just drank.

Now, it’s up to Sookie and Bill, the official Area Five investigator, to solve the murder. Sookie thinks that, at least this time, the dead girl’s fate has nothing to do with her. But she is wrong. She has an enemy, one far more devious than she would ever suspect, who’s set out to make Sookie’s world come crashing down.

Deadlocked is like a huge pot of gumbo, slowly cooking and building steam until it’s hot and yummy enough to eat. There are a lot of elements that make this book enjoyable, interesting and at times, quite surprising. There are old friends and foes that cross paths bringing story threads to a head which created shockwaves that left me reeling.

What I found surprising was the tone of the story. It was almost conversational. For a change, Sookie was able to enjoy mundane, normal human events without the paranormal influence. The author took precious moments in the story to explore the heroine doing everyday things with her friends and family. I interpreted it as giving readers short bursts of insight as to what her life would or could have been like without the high octane influence of Eric, Bill or Alicide, and the supernatural politics that follow them.

Unfortunately, that isn’t Sookie’s life and any oasis of normalcy only served to showcase how crazy her life has become. It really amazes me how much her character has changed over the course of the series. At one point, the fact that she has killed is brought up and its revelation really made me stop and think. Oh yeah! That’s right, that happened! And that. And, I can’t believe I forgot that one! Her thought process has certainly matured, but I’m not certain if it’s a good thing or a sad thing. One fact remains, she’s not a pushover, she’s not afraid to make hard choices nor does she cower away from the consequences. Those are good characteristics to have because every single one was tested in this book.

I can’t put my finger on who the hero is this time around. It’s not clear cut and in fact, I think there is a new reality starting to rear its ugly head and it’s not a happy thought. That brings up something I’ve realized about Ms. Harris. She’s not afraid to take the road less traveled, nor does she bow to popular pressure. Her characters do what they must, even if it hurts or they bleed because of it. That is true in this book.

The pace of the tale wasn’t as tight and hard-hitting as some of the past books have been. There were a lot more pages expended on downtime than actual dealings with crises. At one point, it seemed like it had elements of Perry Mason – sleuthing, asking questions and trying to put together a puzzle by cross-examining one’s self conscience with the little facts they knew. I mean, it was good she was making a sweet potato casserole, but I would have been happier with less descriptive steps of the process.

As for bad guys, there are always trouble makers that complicate Sookie’s life. In this installment, I expected one of them because it’s a carryover character from the previous book. What I didn’t expect was the other villain. That was a shocker. I suppose it made sense as the person did have a sour attitude for a lot of the time that the bad guy was on scene. In retrospect and in thinking back with the knowledge I now have, would I have seen it then? Probably not. The bad guy was very clever.

The one thing that really made this novel a must read was the cluviel dor. Finally, its mystery is solved. It’s about time Sookie made her wish and its use was one of the most significant shockers in the whole book. It was pretty dramatic.

Romance for the heroine is a rocky road. Each man she’s been with has helped her grow and learn about herself. Through the pain of separation, she’s learned that she can survive and move forward. I believe that Sookie is going to grow a bit more and I won’t be surprised if it’s going to be even more painful than in the past. I’m not sure which way it will ultimately fall, but at the end of this book a new possibility nipped at my brain. Could that even work? Only the author knows. But I did find a few of their actions as something that could feed that kind of development. As for her usual hunky beau, Eric and the word sex don’t go together much in this one, much to my disappointment. In fact, there is not a lot of togetherness with anyone in Deadlocked. I think I’m being set up.

I want to make it clear that this is not a standalone read. Too much character by-play has gone on between all the characters, both main and secondary, for a new reader to jump in here. What has happened in past books has a clear impact on the plot and its effect on Sookie in Deadlocked.

Deadlocked lulls a reader with a false sense of calm illusion before it explodes into an amazing tale of drama, suspense and intrigue with shocking revelations that leaves a reader stunned. For fans of the series, it’s a must read because so many threads are being gathered and some important ones are solved. There is no doubt that Sookie is loved by the men in her life but which one will be the love of her life? That is the one final mystery that I hope one day will be solved. In the meantime, sign me up for the next Sookie adventure. It’s going to be an auto-buy for me.