Wasps give thriller real sting
IAfter publishing so many novels about forensic sculptor Eve Duncan — we’re approaching 20 now — Iris Johansen might be forgiven if she started writing on autopilot. But Hunting Eve (St. Martin’s, 375 pages, $10), the middle volume in the latest Duncan trilogy, is lively and suspenseful. In Taking Eve, Duncan was kidnapped by Jim Doane, who wanted her to prove that his serial-killer son wasn’t really dead. Now Eve is on the run from her captor, desperately trying to stay one step ahead of him while her friends and family search for her. But someone else is also tracking Eve’s captor, and it doesn’t matter who’s standing between him and Doane.
Johansen, who lives in Georgia, keeps the pace moving at a brisk clip, and the cliffhanger ending pretty much guarantees you’ll be itching to get your hands on the next book. In The Thieves of Legend (Pocket Books, 514 pages, $10), by New York’s Richard Doetsch, reformed thief Michael St. Pierre is thrust back into the world he’s been trying to leave behind. Someone is threatening to kill Michael and his estranged girlfriend, KC Ryan, unless they track down a couple of ancient artifacts and solve a 500-yearold mystery, one whose solution could bring the world to its knees. The St. Pierre novels — this is the fourth — are slick, exciting adventures. Michael is a very interesting character, and you can tell that the villain, who’s obsessed with revenge against someone almost as crazy as he is, would be chewing the scenery and wringing his hands with maniacal glee if Doetsch didn’t make him an actual human being (and not a cartoon character). If you haven’t read a St. Pierre novel before, don’t worry: this one works just fine as a standalone. Serge A. Storms, the cheerful, history-obsessed, trivia-infused Florida serial killer, returns in The Riptide Ultra-Glide (Morrow, 294 pages, $18), by Tampa’s Tim Dorsey. Serge has a great idea for a new TV reality show, and all he and his drug-addled buddy, Coleman, need are a couple of people to star in it.
Serge’s life is basically a series of violent events and hilarious situations, linked together by randomness and coincidence. So it should come as no surprise that Serge and Coleman find their new stars in, of all places, a seedy motel in a seriously dangerous part of Florida. Serge’s plan to take his new pals on a tour of the state is hatched with the best of intentions, but on the whole his new pals would rather be, well, anywhere else. This long-running series never feels stale. And it never gets anything less than brilliantly warped and hugely entertaining.
Species (Berkley, 483 pages, $11), by Joseph Wallace, is literally a creepy thriller. A species of wasp, facing devastation of its natural habitat, looks for a new home — which wouldn’t be so bad, except that these wasps are very large, possessed of a kind of mass consciousness, and use pretty much any creature, including human beings, as hosts for their young. A physician, an entomologist and a professional explorer have the almost hopeless task of convincing the rest of the world that these wasps exist, and finding a way of stopping them. Wallace, who lives in New York State, does a remarkable job of taking a slightly wacky premise — wasps that want to take over the world — and making it not just plausible, but downright frightening. The writing is very tight, the dialogue crisp, the characters vividly realized. And if you think you know how the book will turn out, think again: Wallace has some serious surprises in store for you. Halifax freelance writer David Pitt’s column runs on the first weekend of the