The first book in U.K. -- and Stephen King -- favorite Gardiner's series featuring featuring lawyer turned novelist Evan Delaney (probably a long-lost relative
of Sue Grafton's Kinsey Millhone) is a fast-paced and timely potboiler with its cult-centered storyline. Well plotted and compelling, it sets the stage well for more Delaney novels, even if it lacks that extra spark to make it a blockbuster.
At the funeral of an AIDS activist, Evan is shocked to find members of a local cult, The Remnant, hurling insults at the mourners. Brash Evan faces down charismatic cult leader Peter Wyoming, only to find that her former sister-in-law Tabitha has been ensnared by these religious fanatics. Evan's brother Brian, a military pilot, has been stationed at China Lake. While he gets a home ready on the base, Evan is the temporary guardian of Brian and Tabitha's young son. Though Tabitha walked out on her family a long time ago, the cult seems to be propelling her back, and it's soon clear that Evan's family is in danger. To save them, she'll have to figure out what the cult's true motive is and how they can be stopped. (OBSIDIAN, Jun., 416 pp., $7.99)