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Originally published Monday, September 2, 2013 at 5:07 AM

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Seattle-area authors plumb past, present, future in novels

Three new novels by local authors, including Cate Campbell (pen name of Louise Marley), Jayne Castle (Jayne Ann Krentz) and Debbie Macomber use past, present and future settings as backdrops for their compelling stories.

Special to The Seattle Times

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Another great piece by Melinda Bargreen. Whenever I see her name at the top of an... MORE

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From historic Seattle and a cozy Kitsap Peninsula inn to a distant future planet, three Northwest authors have come up with intriguing settings and characters in a trio of unrelated but highly entertaining new novels.

Seattle author Louise Marley has adopted the pseudonym of Cate Campbell for her intriguing and colorful “Benedict Hall,” (Kensington, 372 pp., $15) the first novel in her projected series of three historicals based in Seattle during the 1920s. (Marley also has written more than a dozen other novels, three of them under the Toby Bishop pseudonym.) Billed as an American “Downton Abbey,” with story lines about the wealthy and influential Benedict family and their loyal servants, this entertaining novel also is a story of implacable evil that lurks in the scion of the family, Preston Benedict.

Returning home from World War I, Preston is joined in Seattle by his army comrade Frank Parrish — a nice guy and a gifted engineer who is in constant pain from a botched amputation of his arm. Frank, who goes to work for the fledgling Boeing Company, is drawn to the maverick daughter of the Benedict family, the brilliant Margot, who has defied convention to become a doctor. But both are sabotaged by the sheer malice of Margot’s brother.

Seattle readers will particularly enjoy this historical snapshot of the city, where the plot plays out against a backdrop of the Pike Place Market, the Alexis Hotel, shopping at Frederick & Nelson, and some crucial columns for C.B. Blethen (son of newspaper founder Alden Blethen) in The Seattle Times.

Writing as Jayne Castle (her nom de plume for futuristic novels), Seattle author Jayne Ann Krentz has added another deftly plotted, speedily paced book to her series set in the world of Harmony, where dangerous doings are afoot at Rainshadow Island.

In “Deception Cove” (Jove, 342 pp., $7.99), protagonist Alice is being stalked and persecuted by a wealthy woman who wrongly blames Alice for the death of her son. Alice is drawn into a web of intrigue as she discovers some well-hidden secrets about her own mysterious past. She comes to Rainshadow with Drake Sebastian, a powerful man whose damaged vision makes Alice’s own paranormal talents particularly handy in recovering some powerful crystals from a dangerous corner of the island. (Alice is able to manipulate light so that she becomes invisible).

Funny, smart, and passionate, these characters and their friends do battle with wordplay as well as with paranormal talents, against an especially nasty foe who threatens to unleash powers that will make their world an unsafe place. As always with Krentz, even in her most plot-driven work, it’s the people and their relationships — whether love or hate, and there’s plenty of both in this book — that make “Deception Cove” a page-turner.

Popular Northwest author Debbie Macomber returns to the cozy ambience of Cedar Cove (a fictitious town on the Kitsap Peninsula) for “Rose Harbor in Bloom,” (Ballantine, 322 pp., $26), the latest book in her series about a young widow who runs the town’s Rose Harbor Inn.

Heartbroken after the death a year earlier of her soldier husband in Afghanistan, Jo Marie Rose is building a new life full of colorful neighbors and interesting guests at the inn. This time, there’s Annie, newly unengaged from an unfaithful charmer and busying herself with a big 50th anniversary party for her contentious grandparents; and Mary, newly emerged from chemotherapy for cancer and hoping to look up the long-ago love of her life whom she had abandoned in favor of her New York career.

Also on the scene is Mark, Jo Marie’s cranky handyman and mysterious neighbor. Jo Marie gets to know him better when her wonder dog, Rover, somehow senses that Mark is injured, and twice drags her over to his house to help out. (Readers of the baby-boomer generation may be irresistibly reminded of those “Lassie” TV episodes in which the dog unfailingly communicates to young Timmy’s parents that he has suffered yet another accident.)

The author draws in threads of her earlier book in this series, “The Inn at Rose Harbor,” in what is likely to be just as comfortable a place for Macomber fans as for Jo Marie’s guests at the inn.

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