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Threads of Malice    by Tamara Siler Jones order for
Threads of Malice
by Tamara Siler Jones
Order:  USA  Can
Spectra, 2005 (2005)
Paperback, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Belle Dessler

On Tamara Siler Jones's website, the author describes her unique genre, forensic fantasy, as 'CSI with swords'. This description is extremely fitting. If, like me, you've never missed an episode of CSI in all its grisly glory, you'll find Threads of Malice impossible to put down.

When an exhausted rider collapses in Dubric Byerly's stable, wounded and muttering about the dark having snatched another villager, Dubric realizes the situation has turned dire. There have been rumors of a dark presence kidnapping young men, but now a corpse has washed up on the banks of a nearby river, and there's finally evidence for Dubric and his pages to examine. They set off at top speed for neighboring villages, where Dubric finds disturbing proof of a sadistic killer. As he expects, he also finds the ghosts of all the young men who have been murdered. Cursed to see these unsettled spirits at every turn and to bear the burden of their distress, Dubric quickly realizes there's more at stake than he first assumed ... the next to die could be one of his pages.

This is the follow-up to Ghosts in the Snow, which won the 2005 Compton Crook Award for best first novel of the year. The second installment doesn't disappoint. With her unique blend of forensics investigation and epic fantasy, Jones plunges readers in a world full of evil and intrigue. Dubric isn't your typical hero. He's old and haunted by demons both real and of his own making, but he's determined to follow the evidence and discover the truth behind the murders and disappearances plaguing the Reach.

Filled with interesting secondaries and truly despicable villains, Threads of Malice is a page-turner. I stayed up much too late to finish this book, telling myself I'd put it down after just one more chapter. Before I knew it, the neon readout on my bedside clock read 4 a.m., and I was still eagerly absorbing every word. A word of warning for sensitive readers: the crimes depicted in this novel are graphic and truly horrendous. I had a couple of nightmares myself after closing the book - the characters and situations managed to extend beyond the pages that house them and enter both my waking and night-time thoughts.

Jones has quickly catapulted herself to the top of my list of favorite authors. Fans of both forensic investigation and epic fantasy will savor this book. And if you typically enjoy one genre or the other, but not both, pick up Threads of Malice anyway. You'll be glad you did.

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