Tuesday, February 3, 2009

"A Kiss Before the Apocalyse" by Thomas E. Sniegoski

I've never read this author before, and when the book showed up on my recommendations from Amazon, I thought I might give it a try. It's sort of what I might classify as Christian science fiction, except I don't think too many inspirational fiction readers would enjoy it.

Remy Chandler is a PI in Boston. He handles the usual cases, cheating spouses and such. He's hired for one such case, and all seems pretty standard, until he's staking out the seedy hotel where the lovers have met. There are suddenly gunshots and Chandler decides to investigate; has there been a lover's quarrel gone wrong? No, it's a case of murder-suicide. But even more upsetting is that the man tells Remy he can see him, that he knows what he is, before he shoots himself in the head. Why is that upsetting? Because Remy is no ordinary PI; he's actually the angel Remiel, living on earth as a human for the last couple hundred years or so. And the man and woman don't die, even thought their wounds should be fatal. Remy can hear their spirits trapped in their bodies. And they're not the only ones not dying...

His next case is one straight from Heaven. He's hired to track down the Angel of Death, who has apparently been seduced to living as a human, perhaps trying to emulate Remy. His disappearance explains the lack of deaths lately, and what's worse is that someone is also searching for the scrolls that can bring the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse to earth, bringing about the last days of man. Can Remy find the Angel of Death in time? Can he convince him to do his job? Will he be able to save mankind, and will it mean giving up his own humanity?

Overall, this was an OK book. I think if I'd known more of my Christian hierarchy, I might have enjoyed it a bit more. As it was, I got lost a few times trying to keep track of who was who and what side they were on. I did like that Remy wasn't an angel who became human; he has actually managed to suppress his angelic nature and take on the guise of a human, which is more believable for this sort of book. It also means he can let the angel out and kick some serious butt when needed, again making some of this a bit more believable. The thing I liked best was his ability to understand any language; the author plays up on this by having him understand exactly what his dog is saying. That was wonderful! I've always thought that some people can understand their dogs - maybe they're angels in disguise as well!

I'd probably try one of Sniegoski's books again, and I have a feeling that he's not done writing about Remy. I don't know if he plans to make this a series or not, but if so, I'll probably pick up the second book and give it a shot. I just wish he'd give me a report card so I can keep track of my Heavenly Host!

"Midnight's Daughter" by Karen Chance

If you're familiar with Chance's Cassandra Palmer series (Touch the Dark, Claimed by Shadow, Embrace the Night), then you're going to love Midnight's Daughter. A lot of familiar characters show up in this new series, including two of my personal favorites, the vampires Mircea and Louis-Cesare.

Dorina Basarab is a dhampir, a half-breed, an outcast. Her father, Mircea, impregnated a peasant girl, then pretty much left the scene of the crime. Her mother tried her best to raise her, but back in those superstitious days, her fellow villagers only wanted to kill Dorina. Feeling she had no other choice, Dorina's mother gave her to a band of Gypsies to raise; dhampirs may have been scary, but they were also supposed to protect one from the actual vampires. When you live on the road with no village walls to protect you, you take what you can get.

Dorina harbors a huge load of resentment of her vamp daddy, so she's none too happy when he pays her a call with an offer she won't be allowed to refuse. Seems his brother, Vlad, is on the loose again and looking to cause trouble. Yes, that Vlad - Dracula. Dory has some very famous uncles, Vlad and Radu, and she's not eager to have a family reunion. The last time she went after Dracula she almost died; Mircea still doesn't want his brother dead, merely contained. To help her on her mission, Mircea has enlisted Louis-Cesare, the only vampire to ever be sired by Dory's Uncle Radu. Dory, of course, insists that she use her own people, a rather unscrupulous group of killers and thieves. Louis-Cesare would also rather not work with her, as he sees her as a "stain" on Mircea's good name.

The two are forced together, and the action shifts into high gear. It quickly becomes obvious that the two fighters are attracted to each other, despite their differences. It's also apparent that someone else is after them besides Dracula, and they must find out who's leaking vital information to the wrong party. It all culminates in a fiery showdown in an old castle; who will emerge victorious? Will the two star-crossed lovers have a happy ending?

This is the start of a series, so you're just going to have to wait for some of the answers. Sorry! This book is a nice compliment to Chance's Cassie Palmer series; having read those, I knew some of these characters already. It's nice to get their perspective, and as I said, I really like Mircea and Louis-Cesare. I also like Dorina - she's feisty but she does have limits. I flew through this once I started it, and now I can't wait for the second book!