Eye of Heaven

In the Dark of Dreams

The Iron Hunt

Shadow Touch

A Wild Light

The Red Heart of Jade
by Marjorie M. Liu
(Avon, $7.99, G) ISBN 978-0-06-201988-2
The Red Heart of Jade is the third novel in Marjorie Liuís Dirk & Steele series. Dirk & Steele seem to be a normal detective agency, but itís a faÁade. The detectives all have different psychic abilities, and they hunt down bad guys and magic to keep the world safe.

In The Red Heart of Jade, our hero is Dean Campbell. He grew up running wild in the streets of Philly, no holds barred. His parents were killed in a car crash when he was young and his boozy uncle doesnít care where he goes. The only things that keep Dean from any kind of real trouble is the stability and love of his best friend Mirabelle Lee and her grandmother, who they call NiNi. NiNi cooks and watches over the two kids she loves, regardless that Dean isnít hers. Slowly, over time, Miri and Deanís friendship deepens into a romantic love. They are just about to make love for the first time in the back of Deanís Uncleís car when they are attacked by a mugger who assaults Dean and tries to rape Miri. Dean, agonized, watches Miriís murder and heís never the same.

Now, Deanís a grownup and while heís nearly always single and putting in extra time at work, he thinks heís about as happy as he can be. He readily accepts an assignment to find a very screwed up serial killer in Taipei. A serial killer who manages to burn people alive without leaving a trace of fire. Dean and his co-worker Koni, another Dirk & Steele talent who can shapeshift into a bird, have been hunting the killer for three days with no luck, when suddenly, a break splits the chasm between Deanís past and his present wide open.

Dean finds the most recent victim of the serial killer before anyone else, and in the apartment he also finds a set of pictures with names, possibly a hit list of where the serial killer will go next. A photo labeled Mirabelle Lee, which states her location with an unmistakable picture of a twenty year older Miri stuns Dean. He races off to find her, only to see that a man has already found her. Dean conquers the seemingly bad guy, and races off with Miri to a Dirk & Steele safe house to try to figure out what the hell is going on.

Neither he nor Miri trust each other, as they both thought that they saw each other die that fateful night years ago. Miriís pissed that Dean never returned to her or NiNi, not even once. Dean canít believe that his best friend is still alive. This would be a lovely reunion except that Miriís on the hit list of a psychic psychopath, and the bad guys are a few steps ahead as they seem to anticipate Deanís next move each time. How can he possibly keep his newly found first love alive when it turns out that not only is the serial killer a psychic, he can also read minds and heís just waiting for Dean and Miri to hand him the powerful magic artifacts that will ensure his complete domination?

The Red Heart of Jade is a powerful read, and invitation to a vibrant underworld where nothing is truly as it seems.

The great parts about this story are:

1. Dean and Miriís near magical chemistry, crackling with heat from anger to passion from the very first moment they lay eyes on each other again, I loved it.

2. The shadowy, unique Dirk & Steele characters that Dean hunts with, in particular I liked Koni and Ren a whole lot for balancing out the teamwork part of the story.

The not so great part about this story was that it was a really heavy read. I had to be in the right mood to tackle Dean and Miriís unrelentingly dark and quest fueled existence.

Also, a warning to you romance fans out there, while Dean and Miri absolutely have chemistry, and devotion, there is very little physical action to back that up.

In conclusion, I do recommend The Red Heart of Jade as a great read, one that might best be saved for a rainy weekend.

--Amy Wroblewsky

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