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Still Life With Crows by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

 Publisher: Warner Books  ISBN: 0446531421

FBI special agent Pendergast is back, this time in the middle of a tiny town in Kansas, surrounded by corn, and on the hunt for a serial killer.  As heís on vacation, nothingís official, but his help is at first eagerly accepted by the dumbstruck locals.  People are dying in the night, gruesome deaths, surrounded by strange tableaus that make little sense.  Enlisting the aid of the town rebel, the 18-year-old Corrie Swanson, the two meticously track clues, as well as attempt to discover just how the mysterious massacre of 1865 fits in with these modern day killings.  When itís made clear that this is definitely not your garden type serial killer, the race is on to save whatís left of this dying town.   

This richly detailed novel is so steeped in atmosphere, you can actually feel the heat rising off of the sun-baked earth.  My only complaint is that this same detail is applied to the overly gruesome scenes of murder and destruction, and these scenes are quite disturbing.  But other than that, this is one heck of a story.  Special Agent Pendergast is one of the most unique characters to grace a page, and along with his sidekick for this trip, the defiant teen-aged Corrie, this book comes close to perfection.  Be careful when you start this one, a weekend would be advised, because itís almost impossible to put down.

 

The Awakening by Donna Boyd

 Publisher: Ballantine Books  ISBN: 0345462351

Penny and Paul Masonís marriage is failing, and their daughter, Elsie, has still not come to terms with a tragic event from her past.  Hoping that time spent together at their beautiful summer lakeside house will help matters, theyíre unprepared for the eerie happenings that soon follow.  Pennyís dreams, disturbing and filled with blood, pale in comparison to the strange woman that seems to appear before Paul and Elsieís eyes unbidden, and unwanted.  As events grow increasingly stranger, the three must set aside their differences in order to banish the evil lurking in their home. 

An all too brief a book, this new one from Boyd still packs a wallop.  This emotional look at a marriage in flux, and secrets held from the past, is rendered with intensity and poignancy.  More than just a ghost story, this is a book that offers redemption and hope.  A must read for fans of the genre.