Wasps give thriller real st­ing

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - BOOKS - By David Pitt

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

month.

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