Tag: Andrew Mayne

Angel Killer

Cover image for Angel Killer by Andrew Mayneby Andrew Mayne

ISBN 978-0-06-234887-6

“A purpose can be larger than a man. Even if the man dies, the purpose can become a cause. If it holds on long enough, it will grow into a belief and then a religion. This is how gods are made.”

FBI agent Jessica Blackwood comes from a long line of stage magicians. She was poised to enjoy a successful career as magician herself, before a stunt-gone-wrong prompted her to leave the family business in favour of a career helping others. Her unusual past goes largely unremarked at the agency, and she does her best not to draw attention to it, until FBI consultant Jeffrey Ailes realizes she may be perfectly suited to helping the FBI catch a new serial killer calling himself the Warlock. The Warlock’s carefully planned and highly visible murders seem to defy explanation, driving media attention and public speculation to a fever pitch. It is up to Jessica to use her knowledge of stage magic to help the FBI expose the murderer’s methods and bring his killing spree to an end.

As a magician himself, and with a father and brother who are federal agents, Andrew Mayne is uniquely positioned to tell this type of story. Original independently published as an e-book, Angel Killer was picked up and re-released by HarperCollins as part of their Fall 2014 catalogue. Mayne has also worked with the James Randi Foundation to use magic to teach critical thinking skills in schools, giving him first-hand experience with how the public reacts to and thinks about stage magic, which he puts to good use here.

The chapters in Angel Killer are short but have cliff-hanger endings that keep pushing you forward to get that next bit of information that Mayne is holding back. The structure can be both exhilarating and a little frustrating when Mayne plays coy about how the killer has pulled off his various illusions. But Mayne explains his logic through Jessica: if you give the explanation too quickly or simply, the audience will believe the trick was equally simple and that they could have eventually figured it out on their own. Mayne also seems to adapt the big reveals to the pacing of the novel; early on, they are either very drawn out or sometimes elided all together. But as the action gathers speed, so do the revelations leading to a twisty and intriguing plot. Inevitably, the stakes eventually become personal when the media latches on to the idea of the FBI’s “Witch” opposing the self-proclaimed Warlock, drawing unwanted attention to Jessica’s past.

Although it stands alone well, Angel Killer is also set up for a larger series. We get only a glimpse at Jessica’s background, and she isn’t in contact with her family, the older magicians who shaped her childhood and early career. We meet Damian Knight, a mysterious past love interest whose inability to leave Jessica alone borders on obsession, but whose insight into the Angel Killer case proves invaluable. Mayne still has plenty of additional ground to cover, beginning with The Name of the Devil, due out in July 2015.

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Cover image for The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes You might also like The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes.

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Harper Collins Fall Fiction Preview

Things have been quiet here on Required Reading the last little while. Two weeks ago we moved to a new apartment, and then I spent this past weekend in Las Vegas attending the American Library Association’s annual conference. There were author signings, professional development events, and keynote speeches galore, but since I am a Harper Voyager Super Reader, I got up bright and early on Monday to check out the Harper Collins Book Buzz event, so that I could give you all a preview of what we have to look forward to from them this fall. Here are the highlights:

Cover image for Rooms by Lauren OliverRooms by Lauren Oliver. The best-selling author of the Delirium series is back with a ghost story recommended for fans of Alice Sebold, Audrey Niffenegger, and Neil Gaiman. Richard Walker has just died, leaving a large inheritance to his estranged family. But when his ex-wife and children come to claim their share, they find themselves in a house that is already occupied by two ghosts; Alice and Sandra. This sweet, sad, spooky ghost story has already received a starred review from Publishers Weekly, and is due out September 23, 2014.

Cover image for Agatha Christie's The Monogram Murders by Sophie Hannah Agatha Christie’s The Monogram Murders by Sophie Hannah. For the first time ever, the Christie Estate has authorized a new Hercule Poirot mystery, which will be penned by poet and crime fiction writer Sophie Hannah. Poirot’s quiet dinner at a London coffeehouse is interrupted by a young woman who tells him she is about to be murdered, and implores him not to interfere so that justice will  be done. Soon after, not one, but three young women are murdered in fashionable London hotels. Look for this new Poirot tale in stores on September 9, 2014.

Cover image for Angel Killer by Andrew Mayne Angel Killer by Andrew Mayne. This former e-book best-seller has been acquired and revamped by Harper Collins, and will be re-released as a paperback on September 23, 2014. Angel Killer is the first in a series of mysteries starring FBI agent Jessica Blackwood, whose unusual upbringing in a family of magicians makes her an invaluable asset when a murder seems to have no logical explanation. Author Andrew Mayne is a magician who has worked with Penn and Teller, and David Copperfield, and his father and brother are special agents.

Cover image for The Miniaturist by Jessie BurtonThe Miniaturist by Jessie Burton. This mysterious debut novel is set in 17th century Amsterdam, where eighteen-year-old Nella Oortman has just married Dutch merchant Johannes Brandt. As a wedding gift, she receives a beautiful miniature model of her husband’s extravagant house, and his wealth enables her to engage the services of a famous but reclusive miniaturist to furnish the model. Soon, however, pieces Nella never commissioned begin to arrive, eerily echoing events in the full-sized house that the artist could not possibly know about. Recommended for fans of Emma Donoghue and Sarah Waters, The Miniaturist is due out on August 26, 2014.

Cover image for Gutenberg's Apprentice by Alix ChristieGutenberg’s Apprentice by Alix Christie. Journalist and letterpress printer Alix Christie fictionalizes the birth of the printing press, chronicling the lives of Johann Gutenberg, his apprentice, Peter Schoeffer, and their financial backer, Johann Fust. Their efforts to create the first printed Bible will bring them head-to-head with the Catholic Church, threatening to tear their partnership asunder. This debut novel has already received a starred review from Kirkus, and will be available on September 23, 2014.

Cover image for Black Dog by Caitlin KittredgeBlack Dog by Caitlin Kittredge. First in a new dark Urban Fantasy series, Black Dog stars Ava, a hellhound who has spent a hundred years tracking down errant souls and dragging them back to Hell. But after a hundred years, Ava is getting tired of being used by the grim reaper she serves, and allows a human necromancer to persuade her to steal her reaper’s scythe. The theft unleashes the wrath of Lilith, a powerful demon who controls all the reapers. Suggested for fans of Richard Kadrey, Black Dog is out on October 28, 2014.

Of course, there are many more great titles coming out this fall from Harper Collins and other publishers. Check back next week to find out what else was hot at ALA!