THE MOTEL (2004) is a coming of age story in which a young Chinese-American teen working for his mother at the title establishment gets an odd mix of life lessons from a teen bully, a Korean-American womanizer and the slightly older Chinese waitress at a nearby restaurant. Lightweight but pleasant. “It’s okay for you to like it. You’re a boy.”
THE STAR TREASURE by Keith Laumer has by-the-book Space Navy officer baffled when the discovery of his best bud’s corpse leads to murderous attacks, a frameup for treason and eventual sentencing to a hellhole prison planet, all in hopes of making confess the Big Secret he doesn’t have. While the plot has many familiar elements (man into superman is a theme Laumer’s played many times), it’s unusual for Laumer to have a conformist hero (Ban genuinely can’t believe that what’s happening to him indicates a real problem) or to seem so baffled about how to resolve things—the book can’t decide between overthrowing the system or preserving it.
THE ISLAND OF FU MANCHU is the Caribbean base from which the Devil Doctor plots to shut down America’s Atlantic fleet if not recognized as an independent power (“I use the same methods as the dictators of Europe, yet they are treated with respect.”). A very good one, though deus ex at the finish, Rohmer being apparently unable to think of any way to stop Fu Manchu except for an act of God. Also heavier on the Yellow Peril overtones than they’ve been ina while (“There’s a war in Europe—but Fu Manchu threatens the entire white race!”), which I presume is to make him a threat equal to the Axis (amusingly, this explains Hitler’s death in the previous book as propaganda put out by the British government editing it).
The success of Vampire Diaries on TV apparently convinced the publishing world to complete author LJ Smith’s unfinished NIGHT WORLD series, so I decided to refresh my memories of the earlier installments. SECRET VAMPIRE is the first book, in which a terminally ill cancer patient discovers that her male Dioscuri has feelings for her other than friendship and has this cure that will make her disease proof—Unfortunately, since such feelings are Forbidden, that creates a few problems for both of them …
DAUGHTERS OF DARKNESS are three vampires fleeing their patriarchal clan, pursued by an arrogant brother who has to re-evaluate his view of humans when he soul-bonds with a mortal (one of those Love At First Sight Even If You Hate Them Things). Very much a mythos-building book, emphasizing more of the Night World customs including long-time hate between vampires and werewolves (making me wonder when that became such a standard—I know it’s part of the VAMPIRE RPG, but were they the first?).
SPELLBINDER has a good witch increasingly alarmed as she soul-bonds with a human, discovers her amoral sexpot cousin wants him too and then that her sorcerous efforts to break the bond have unleashed the homicidal spirit of a murdered witch. This reveals the origins of the Nightworld in good and evil twins, one of whom became the first vampire via her immortality spell, the other destroying her with magic and becoming the ancestor of all witches(no origin for werewolves yet) and the existence of Circle Daybreak, which is dedicated to forging bonds with mundanes.
THE NEMESIS OF EVIL was the first volume in Lin Carter’s Zarkon, Lord of the Unkonwn pulp pastiche, wherein the title Doc Savage clone and his crew go up a power-hungry phony cult leader claiming the wisdom of ancient Lemuria. Kenneth Robeson it’s not, but fun, and an interesting origin for this crusader.