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October 31, 2008 Edition

Sacrifice, by S.J. Bolton

Tora has moved to the Shetland Islands, where her husband Duncan grew up. An obstetrician hoping to start a family of her own, Tora is stunned to find a linen-wrapped body buried in her backyard, and dismayed to discover that the young woman with runes carved into her flesh and missing her heart had given birth shortly before her death. Not only that, but she isn’t some ancient sacrifice, but a modern young woman wearing nail polish. The ominous landscape and glowering skies reflect the rising threat Tora feels as she investigates tangled legend and history, uncovering sacrifices reaching back centuries.

The Calling, by Inger Ash Wolfe

When a serial killer strikes in Detective Hazel Micallef’s small town, killing a terminally ill woman and leaving her body drained of blood and strangely deformed, Hazel rises to the challenge. At 61, newly divorced and living at home with her mother, she’s thinking more about retirement and her chronic back pain than serious crimes landing in her lap, but she finds herself crossing the country, following bodies and clues to put the puzzle together. With the help of a girl who was healed by the murderer’s ministrations, Hazel closes in, but finds herself suddenly caught in the killer’s trap. Suspenseful and imaginative, this will keep readers up all night.

Implied Spaces, by Walter Jon Williams

Aristide, kept youthful by technology, but getting bored by life, has mostly given up his computer science career in favor of traveling through the universe, visiting computer-created worlds. On the pre-technological world of Midgarth, he finds something that rouses his interest: a plot to seize power that may just bring about an existential crisis to the computers that house the universes. Touching on a variety of genres, from conspiracies to zombies to war movies, this clever and fun book sustains its fast pace.

Oh Joe, by Michael Z. Lewin

In an attempt to become a better person and learn to spend his nights alone while his girlfriend is gone, Joe Prince agrees to houseboat-sit for his buddy George. But hanging around with George has always meant trouble for Joe, and sure enough, first, George doesn’t pay Joe all he owes, and then, George doesn’t return when he said he would and Joe has to make a raft to get back to shore. But the real trouble begins days later, when George’s body is found on the boat and Joe ends up the prime suspect. Part family drama, part mystery, this is the story of a guy who isn’t that bright, but whose heart is in the right place.

The Bible Salesman, by Clyde Edgerton

Set in the American South after World War II, this is the story of a Bible salesman and a car thief, brought together by naïveté and avarice. Henry is a good Bible salesman – he understands what people need, but he doesn’t always understand what they’ll do to get it. Preston, on the other hand, is a great manipulator who sees in Henry the energy and motivation that Preston needs to move cars and make money. Henry, for his part, is thrilled to be working for a G-man and helping the FBI out – it pays a lot better than selling Bibles. But the more he earns, the more he questions what’s going on, until he finally wakes up and realizes he’s been duped.

Sharp Teeth, by Toby Barlow

Epic verse meets horror and the combination is quirky, fun, and surprisingly attractive. In Barlow’s world, werewolves live among us, free to change from two to four legs whenever they feel the urge. A series of vignettes intertwine to make a whole: Annie, a werewolf, falls in love with Anthony, a dogcatcher, and loses her pack. Lark, asleep on the floor in front of the TV, dreams of his days in a law firm as his owner scratches behind his ears. There’s a plot to infiltrate animal shelters, and another involving bridge tournaments. Don’t let the free verse intimidate: the effect is spare and economical and the story carries readers along at a brisk but unrushed pace.

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