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Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Never Send Roses by Craig Schaefer (reviewed by Mihir Wanchoo)

 


Official Author Website
Pre-order Never Send Roses over HERE
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of The Long Way Down 
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of The White Gold Score 
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of Redemption Song 
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of The Living End 
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of A Plain-Dealing Villain
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of The Killing Floor Blues
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of The Castle Doctrine
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of Double Or Nothing
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of The Neon Boneyard
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of The Locust Job
Read Fantasy Book Critic’s review of Down Among the Dead Men
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of Sworn To The Night
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of Detonation Boulevard
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of Winter's Reach 
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of The Instruments Of Control 
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of Harmony Black
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of Red Knight Falling
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of Glass Predator
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of Cold Spectrum
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of Right To The Kill
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of Black Tie Required
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of Ghosts Of Gotham
Read Fantasy Book Critic' review of A Time For Witches
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of The Loot
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of The Insider
Read Fantasy Book Critic’s review of Any Minor World
Read Fantasy Book Critic's Interview with Craig Schaefer
Read Fantasy Book Critic's Harmony Black Series Interview with Craig Schaefer
Read Double Or Nothing Cover Reveal Mini-Interview with Craig Schaefer
Read Part I of Fantasy Book Critic's In-depth Interview with Craig Schaefer
Read Part II of Fantasy Book Critic's In-depth Interview with Craig Schaefer
Read the Wisdom's Grave Trilogy Completion Interview with Craig Schaefer
Read the 2019 And Beyond Interview with Craig Schaefer
Read the Right To The Kill Cover Reveal Q&A with Craig Schaefer
Read the Black Tie Required Cover Reveal Q&A with Craig Schaefer
Read the Charlie McCabe series interview with Craig Schaefer
Read My Sworn To The Night Cover Reveal Q&A with Craig Schaefer
Read 2020 State Of Schaefer Interview with Craig Schaefer
 
AUTHOR INFORMATION: Heather Schaefer was born in Chicago and wanted to be a writer since a very young age. Her writing was inspired by Elmore Leonard, Richard Stark, Clive Barker & H. P. Lovecraft. Soon after her 40th birthday, she decided to give in to her passion and since then has released close to thirty novels spread out over seven series. Craig Schaefer is her favoured nom de plume. Heather currently lives in North Carolina and loves visiting museums and libraries for inspiration.

OFFICIAL BOOK BLURB: The House of Dead Roses offers murder, espionage, and mayhem to the highest bidder. Agent Harmony Black's war against the infernal cult -- and their seductive, sadistic mistress, the demoness Nadine -- last found her facing off against Nadine's top assassin under the glittering lights of Las Vegas, a battle that left her physically and psychically scarred.

Harmony has no time to heal. Now she's in the Windy City with a new enemy in her sights: the Roses' "mastermind," a poker-champion prodigy with a mind like a steel trap and a plan for a heist that will fill Nadine's war-chest with an infusion of dirty money. He's putting together a crew for the job and Harmony, along with her best friend and partner Jessie Temple, is going undercover.

What seems like a simple takedown soon proves more complicated -- and more deadly -- than anyone bargained for. The target of the heist, a government defense contractor, is keeping secrets of their own. The prize at stake has global consequences. And as Harmony's occult powers continue to mutate, tainted and twisted by Nadine's curse, she's going to have to push herself harder, go further, and delve deeper into her own darkness than she ever has before.

Harmony and Nadine are on a collision course. This time, only one of them is going to walk away.

FORMAT/INFO: Never Send Roses is 359 pages long divided over forty eight chapters alongwith an Afterword & a “The Story So Far” section. Narration is in the third-person, via Harmony Black , Jessie Temple, Dima Chakroun and a few other characters. This is the seventh volume of the Harmony Black series which is a spin-off to the Daniel Faust series.

November 21, 2023 marks the North American paperback and e-book publication of Black Tie Required and it was self-published by the author. Cover design is by Damonza cover design studio.

OVERVIEW/ANALYISIS: Oh boy, I’ve been waiting for Never Send Roses for a good long while. Ever since we got that slam bang of an ending in Black Tie Required, I’ve been waiting to see what Harmony does and how she deals with the trauma she experienced. The hunger she’s been hiding as well as her magic becoming different than what she knows. This book couldn’t come any soon for me. For readers, be forewarned, this is the seventh book in the series and there’s no way you can jump into this as a fresh reader.
 
The plot picks immediately after the events of Black Tie Required as we meet Harmony, Jesse and their rest of the team as they are finally in the driver’s position. Having finally understood how to take down Nadine, the team get cracking on their plan. However things are never straightforward and soon enough Jesse and Harmony have to take part in a heist under the leadership of a brilliant poker player (whom readers might recognize from A PlainDealing Villain the fourth Daniel Faust volume). An already complicated plan becomes tenuous with the addition of several new players and that might not be the only thing. The thing that they have to steal might be the ultimate Pandora’s box in a way that’s Craig Schaefer’s readers will get a dark chuckle out of. This is how the magnificent story explodes and you will have to read the rest to see how Heather’s brilliant plotting works.
 
Never Send Roses is another fine thriller and a particularly action-packed entry in the Harmony Black series. Once again Heather Schaefer brilliantly combines a heist plot within a Die Hard like scenario & to add to it, there’s the threat of murderous zombies. There’s so many angles to this plot that it’s hard to keep track of who’s trying to hoodwink/betray whom (in a good way). The characterization is strong as ever as we get several characters in various shades of black & grey, Heather has a thing for showcasing character complexity and here we get some hate worthy villains & some intriguing anti-villains.
 
The ending is action-packed and again gives us enough of a tease about what might come next. There’s enough twists and revelations packed in this volume to keep a fan like me sated but there biggest twist was the one that was teased since the past couple of books. All I can say about it is that it completely blew my mind and now forces me to re-evaluate all that has happened. Because one thing is for sure, Heather plans out things in advance and even the smallest occurrences have reasons. This revelation also throws a special twist in the whole Paladin angle and now the wait is on for the next Daniel Faust title for more light on the whole Paladin-Enemy conflict. The book also has a good dose of dark humour with Jessie and that’s a bit par for the course. The ending also sets up an intriguing Hannibal Lecter- Clarice like scenario and I for one am intrigued to see what the author has planned for the future. The cover is also top-notch and continues the trend from the past few books in marking itself out as a snazzy, eye-catching one.
 
With regards to any fallbacks within this story, there’s an episodic element to these stories and so that comes with its limitations. There’s always something left for the future books and that can be a tad frustrating at times (that’s not really a complaint urban fantasy readers have most of the time). Not getting a clear answer to the whole Enemy-Paladin is also frustrating. It’s been building up over the past few books in the Daniel Faust and Harmony Black books and I was hoping we would get movement on that aspect of the overall storyline but that’s not the case. I want to make it clear that this is a personal  observation and not something that other readers might care about. Besides these couple of small issues, there’s nothing else that would stop anyone from enjoying this book to the max.
 
CONCLUSION: Never Send Roses promised a lot and it delivered on almost all counts. Heather Schaefer has managed to create a fascinating character in Harmony Black and by creating this series, given us a fascinating action thriller saga to follow. Never Send Roses has action, plot twists and betrayals mixed in with zombies, making it another home run and highlighting what an awesome series this is. Kudos to Heather (and apologies), as I can’t wait for the sequel to this and the next Daniel Faust title.
 

1 comments:

Tracy Cooper-Posey said...

Interesting cover. Good review. I'm new to the series and will have to backtrack, it seems.

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