When a powerful hypnotist succumbs to the charms of a talented crystal worker, both of their futures are threatened.
In Quick's (Jayne Ann Krentz's pseudonym) mediocre latest installment to the Arcane Society series, Leona Hewitt, a crystal reader, and Thaddeus Ware, a hypnotist, meet trying to steal the same relic-the aurora stone-from a private collection, but a murdered prostitute and a trap protecting the stone initially complicate their success. Thaddeus, hired by the Arcane Society to claim the stone, allows the plot's loudly grinding gears to ally him with Leona. Both Leona and Thaddeus are sensible and pragmatic, qualities that make for efficient sleuths but passionless lovers, and Quick has to try unusually hard to make their romance believable. The story fares better when it focuses on the crystal and its connections to secret societies, to the Midnight Monster (a hackneyed serial killer) and to Leona's personal history. When the plot threads finally pull taut and the villains' motives and schemes are completely (if clumsily) exposed, Leona is endangered in a suspenseful climax. This is unlikely to garner Quick any new fans, or even delight her devotees, but it will tide them over until the next episode. (Apr.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.