Book Reviews: No Time to Die by Kira Peikoff, Pickle in the Middle Murder by Jesse Chandler, and Conquest by John Connolly and Jennifer Ridyard

No Time to DieNo Time to Die
Kira Peikoff
Pinnacle Books, August 2014
ISBN 978-0786034895
Mass Market Paperback

Why don’t people live forever? That’s a question people have been seeking an answer to since time began. If possible, don’t we have a responsibility to find a way to prevent old age just as we found a way to prevent polio? And smallpox. And the plague. What about cancer research? Look how many resources are dedicated to that.

But there is also a faction that says the planet is already overpopulated. That we—meaning humanity—can neither afford nor provide for so many people. They say nature needs to take its course. People need to live the life span allotted to them.

Up until now, that’s the reality and the unanswered question, until a genetic mutation in one small girl changes everything we know.

It isn’t only that Zoe Kincaid stopped physical growth at age fourteen. Mentally she’s remained the same child/woman she was then. Her physician wants to know why, as does Zoe, who is odd-man out in her college class. She just doesn’t seem to have much in common with other twenty-year-olds. Zoe’s best friend is her grandfather, who is in the twilight of his life.

But now Zoe has the opportunity to discover why she’s different from everyone else, and just maybe, something within her can help keep her grandfather from dying of old age.

There’s a whole underground area of research that delves into the problem of aging. Dr. Natalie Roy is using the facilities at the university where she teaches to look for the secret of longevity, right up until she gets fired for doing unsanctioned work.

Further underground is a secret society that provides the money and facilities for Natalie to continue her work. The mysterious Galileo works covertly to bring her into the fold.

And then there’s Les Mahler, head of a task force for the Justice Department’s Bioethics Committee. He’s got his own agenda, which includes wiping out anyone who steps outside his moral compass—if that’s what you want to call it.

These people are on a collision course in this thriller by Kira Peikoff. I think the science comes too easily, although for the purposes of the story everything seems plausible. The characters are engaging for the most part, with a villain to hate side-by-side with several to root for. Zoe’s relationship with her grandfather is especially endearing.

The action rolls along. Twists and turns abound. You’ll be kept guessing right up until the final moments on how it’s all going to resolve and you won’t be disappointed. If a science and medical plot with non-stop action is in your wheelhouse, this book is for you.

Reviewed by Carol Crigger, November 2014.
Author of Three Seconds to Thunder.

 

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Pickle in the Middle MurderPickle in the Middle Murder
A Shay O’Hanlon Caper #3
Jessie Chandler
Midnight Ink, July 2013
ISBN 978-0-7387-2598-7
Trade Paperback

Café owner Shay O’Hanlon has never been to the Minnesota Renaissance Festival, until her girlfriend JT Bordeaux persuaded her to give it a try. The busty wenches, the jousting knights, and the peddlers of strange medieval crafts amaze Shay. When JT goes in search of a pickle vendor, Shay sets out for the Porta-potties. Before she has a chance to sigh with relief, she catches sight of the man slumped on the toilet, the back of his head blown away. There’s a large green pickle protruding from his lifeless mouth.

The cops are called, and while Shay is interviewed, she wonders where JT went to. JT’s a cop, and knows how these things work. But to Shay’s horror, JT is arrested for the murder. Who is the victim, and why would the cops suspect JT of the crime? Shay, with the help of her friends, sets out to prove her girlfriend’s innocence.

Third in a series, this appealing comic cozy ends on a great cliffhanger—you’ll have to wait for the next book.

Reviewed by Susan Belsky, October 2014.

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ConquestConquest
The Chronicles of the Invaders, Book 1
John Connolly and Jennifer Ridyard
Emily Bestler Books/Atria, February 2014
ISBN: 978-1-4767-5712-4
Hardcover
(In UK: Headline, 8/24/14 pb, 496 pp., 978-1-472-20960-3, 7.99 BPS)

John Connolly is best known as the author of the Charlie Parker mysteries and has written a trilogy for younger readers and even a modern fairy tale. Now he has turned his attention to a new series called the Chronicles of the Invaders, sort of sci-fi aimed at teenagers, teaming up with his life partner, Jennifer Ridyard. It is the story of the invasion of the earth by a highly developed alien species, Illyri, and of resistance by humans to the occupation.

The main characters are two teen-age Illyri girls, Syl and Ani, daughters of the Governor and commanding general of the Illyra in the British Isles and Europe, headquartered in Edinburgh, and two human boys, Paul and Steven, members of the Resistance, and their interactions. Each, in turn, saves the other pair from either capture or death. And thereby hangs a tale.

This is the first of the Chronicles books, introducing the characters for what apparently will be a fairly long-term project.  Written with all sorts of scientific mumbo jumbo, the plot contrasts all kinds of human and other types of emotions.  As otherworldly as the subject may seem, when it comes down to basic values there does not seem to be much difference in either personalities or beliefs between the cultures.  Only circumstances.  While the book is mainly intended for a teenage audience, an adult also can easily enjoy the novel, and it is recommended.

Reviewed by Ted Feit, August 2014.

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