Desert Isle Keeper
I considered the preceding book in this series, After Dark a return to the Jayne Ann Krentz/Jayne Castle I know and love. After a string of disappointing books for me, she hit her stride with Emmett and Lydia and the world of Harmony a planet discovered after an energy anomalie opened a gate between Earth and other livable worlds. I was glad to make a return trip with her. Although it’s not strictly necessary to have read After Dark, I would recommend it to familiarize yourself with the background and history of Castle’s newest world. That’s my recommendation; according to the otherwise positive review in Publishers Weekly, this one should not be read without having first read After Dark.
Lydia is a talented tangler – that is, an ephemeral-energy para-resonator – who almost lost her talent and her life during her Lost Weekend in the Dead City seven months ago. A tangler handles the illusion traps found everywhere in the Dead City so that archaeological groups can excavate and study the old catacombs found on Harmony; tanglers are protected from the unstable energy “ghosts” found in the ruins by people known as hunters. When Lydia was left by her ghost hunters in the catacombs; only a small dust bunny rescued her. Since then she reluctantly paired up with Emmett, an extremely strong hunter and a member of the Cadence Guild. Both of the bodyguard hunters who betrayed Lydia were Guild members, and she considers the Cadence Guild to be little more than a gang of thugs and organized criminals.
Emmett is now the acting head of the Cadence Guild, since former leader Mercer Wyatt was shot and seriously wounded. Lydia is not happy about that. To make matters worse, her investigation into her Lost Weekend has run into a big snag: she’s just found her newest lead dead in his apartment. Although it was apparently a drug overdose, other suspicious events lead Lydia and Emmett into a mystery that could be deadly.
In these two books it’s apparent that Castle is trying to build her paranormal universes correctly again, instead of merely throwing some cardboard around and calling it background (the infamous coff-tea from her previous Castle books, anyone?). Harmony is unique and the framework of the ghost hunters and tanglers is well thought out and works well. The mystery of the previous inhabitants and their lost culture adds an extra interesting component.
Another of Castle’s great strengths is apparent here in the teamwork between Lydia and Emmett, who first met up in After Dark. They work together to solve the mystery they find themselves embroiled in and enjoy themselves along the way. There are no big misunderstandings or long separations, just two people trying to make their relationship work. Melanie, Lydia’s unique co-worker is back, as well as some of the other characters from After Dark. Fuzz is most definitely one of my favorites.
I loved both Emmett and Lydia, from Lydia’s terrible taste in ball gowns to Fuzz and Emmett’s “Find Lydia” game. There are no dark and tortured people here; both characters have their strengths and weaknesses to work through, together. Apart from their psi powers, these are characters I can imagine as friends, as real people. Any guy that will continually drink terrible wine for his lady love and likes dust bunnies is worth it in my book. I could mention more about the mystery plot, but really, it’s much more fun to find out for yourself. Do yourself a favor and pick this one up. I wouldn’t mind seeing more of them myself.