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Four moon gifWarner Books (Paperback) ISBN 0446606677
Maureen Tan, a congenial Midwestern woman with a gray hair or two, looks like somebody's mom. But what goes on inside that brain -- whew! Definitely not maternal! To cite but one example from AKA Jane: "My knife caught him in the throat. . . . From where I lay, I could see his face. His eyes were stretched wide, his mouth gasping and bloody."

Book: Maureen Tan, AKA JaneOne minute this woman bakes cookies for the local PTA in Champaign, Ill. The next, she creates a woman who unhesitatingly kills for a living. Forget cookies, Tan kicks butt, and so does her protagonist, Jane Nichols.

Jane, who lost a piece of her childhood and her self when she watched her parents die at the hands of an assassin, can't recall the killer's face, not even in the dreams that plague her. Now, as an adult she serves queen and country as an undercover MI-5 counter-assassin. But after years of service, her lover and best friend dies, and all the trauma in her life begins to close in on her. She seeks closure, even at the cost of her own life.

Book: Maureen Tan, Run Jane RunOn her quest, Jane travels to Savannah, Ga. She searches both for her past, and for the man who ordered her lover's death -- her own. Jane's cover as a writer of mystery thrillers serves her well and smoothes her way into the antebellum home of Savannah's handsome and eligible police chief. Jane's plan is simple: "to rest, to write and to hunt down the killer of the spy who loved her."

Savannah's hot and humid climate serves as an appropriate backdrop for a plot that rapidly comes to boil. Tan takes readers on a well-developed adventure complete with romance, action, blood, close calls and alluring details that keep readers involved to the last page.

Tan offers a mysterious, yet multi-faceted, young woman who survives childhood trauma to become a professional killing machine. The author quickly reveals the human side of her protagonist through a series of assignments and relationships with coworkers and her boss. We also learn much by the glaring absence of female friends and family. Secondary characters come and go, but the author creates villains and colleagues that stick in your memory.

This book, though satisfying on many levels, leaves enough unanswered questions to draw readers into Tan's newly released novel, Run Jane Run. Perhaps this second Jane Nichols novel will reveal the identity of the assassin of Jane's parents and other threads left deliberately dangling from AKA Jane. But whatever secrets Tan decides to share, expect a well-crafted, suspenseful story of blood and angst, psychological and physical pain.

Dawn Goldsmith

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