Master mystery writer Burke ventures into new territory, deftly combining bone-chilling thrills with the supernatural. A devilishly creepy villain whose veiled presence inspires true menace is a terrific counterpoint to the hero's ambivalence about his fate. Burke's excellent pacing keeps the plot moving as it accelerates toward the inevitable confrontation. Her gift for storytelling crosses genre lines.
A fateful meeting on the bloody battlefield of Waterloo changes Tyler Hawthorne's fate forever. Dying, he accepts a ring and a duty from the cryptic Adrian Varre, having no idea that it'll turn him into an immortal Messenger -- a person who can communicate the last thoughts of the dying.
For centuries Tyler has wandered the world, helping the dying. He'd hoped that his nemesis Adrian was permanently entombed at the bottom of the sea, but a treasure-hunting expedition unleashes his evil presence. That brings Tyler to Amanda Clarke, who's haunted by ghosts. It may take their combined efforts to defeat Adrian once and for all. (SIMON AND SCHUSTER, Jan., 320 pp., $25.00)