Shadow Touch

The Red Heart of Jade
by Marjorie M. Liu
(Love Spell, $6.99, PG-13) ISBN 0-505-52631-X
The Red Heart of Jade is the latest installment in Marjorie M. Liuís paranormal series, Dirk & Steele. As a unique and suspenseful adventure story, it works quite well. Readers who enjoy watching a romance slowly develop throughout a book may be disappointed.

Dean Campbell, a clairvoyant with the Dirk & Steele Detective Agency, is on the case in Taipei. During his pursuit, Dean discovers that his supposed-dead childhood sweetheart, Miri (Mirabelle) Lee may still be alive. When he learns she may be in danger, he drops everything to rush to her aid.

Professor Miri Lee is puzzling over a piece of jade found within a mummy when a man comes to her apartment to kidnap her. Dean comes to the rescue, and they combine forces to determine who is behind the attempted abduction and to solve the mystery of the jade.

To say that this description doesnít come close to providing a summary of The Red Heart of Jade is an understatement. The book is packed with twists and turns that keep a reader engaged. However, readers who have read at least one other book in the series may find this installment more meaningful. A number of minor characters from previous books make appearances here.

Liuís world is an imaginative one. Readers who long for paranormal stories beyond the worlds of vampires and werewolves will appreciate the original paranormal slant and setting. The pacing is also strong, and the story picks up speed as it progresses, leading to an exciting ending.

The storyís weakness lies in the romance. As teens, Dean and Miri fell in love; they parted only because each believed the other was dead. The initial conflict is one of trust ó what happened to each of them, and whether they can trust each other now. The problem is that this is resolved quickly, leaving a story focused much more on the adventure than the romance.

There is some nice banter between the lead characters. Miri and Dean are certainly likable, with a good deal of chemistry.

The Red Heart of Jade isnít perfect, but itís a story with heart, one willing to take risks. Spending an afternoon with this book may well be a risk worth taking.

--Alyssa Hurzeler

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