Monday, November 29, 2021

Razorblade Tears by S.A. Cosby


Ike Randolph has a good life these days.  His prison days are fifteen years behind him and he owns his own landscaping business which is doing well.  When he hears that his son, Isiah, has been killed along with his husband, Ike is devastated.  All his revenge and violence rises to the top but Isiah has left a small daughter behind that Ike and his wife will now be raising.  As a black man, Ike never accepted his son as a gay man, nor did he have any relationship with his white husband, Derek.  Now both are gone along with any chance to heal the relationship.

Buddy Lee, Derek's father, has the same issues.  Disbelief that this tragedy could have happened and lifelong regret that he allowed Derek's sexual identity to rob them of a relationship.  Buddy Lee's time in prison is much more recent and he hasn't thrived once released.  He still has connections to the outlaw world and is determined to revenge Derek.

The first time Buddy Lee approaches Ike, Ike turns him down flat.  His need to be there to raise his granddaughter has to be his first consideration.  But when he is pushed too far, he goes back to Buddy Lee and the two agree to work together to avenge their sons.  Their investigation puts them afoul of a local motorcycle gang and the influential men who are connected to the gang.  Can they find peace by bringing the killers to justice?

This novel is fast-paced and full of violence.  But there are positive aspects also.  The love of these men for their sons who they never could accept is searing.  Their growing acceptance that they were at fault and it can never be put right is redemptive.  Their friendship as they fight together, forgetting their racial differences, is hopeful.  This book has won high praise and I'd add my voice to that chorus.  This book is recommended for readers of literary fiction and thrillers.

Sunday, November 28, 2021

Death On The River by Diane Fanning


Vince Viafore loved to kayak.  On April 19, 2015, he set out for a day of fun on the Hudson River with his fiance, Angelika.  The couple kayaked to a private island, Bannerman where they explored and took pictures as Angelika was a volunteer there and had access.  As they started to return home, the water had gotten much rougher due to wind conditions.  Angelika ended up calling 9-1-1 for assistance.

When help arrived, the crews were in time to see Angelika's kayak capsize and she was quickly pulled from the water with no issues.  But Vince was nowhere in sight nor was his kayak.  The kayak was later located but there was no sign of Vince.  It was almost a month before his body was later recovered.

Was this just a case of bad luck and unforeseen weather conditions?  Within days, family, friends and the police did not think so.  Angelika seemed unconcerned, posting cheerfully on Facebook about the search for Vince and never showing any grief or sadness.   It turned out that while Angelika had a safety vest, Vince did not although he was a stickler for proper equipment.  Then there was the life insurance policy for $250,000 that she was the beneficiary of.  Police brought her in for questioning.

As the questioning progressed, Angelika started to portray a relationship on the verge of collapse.  They were to have married while on a visit to Europe, but Vince had delayed the marriage.  Angelika portrayed Vince as controlling and possessive, saying she felt trapped.  Soon she was admitting that she had taken the plug from Vince's kayak and then pulled his oars away.  She was charged with murder.

Fans of true crime will enjoy this book.  Fanning lays out the facts, including dialogue from Angelika's police interrogation.  She also researched both Vince and Angelika's background and what family and friends thought about the relationship.  She also covers the trial extensively.  This book is recommended for true crime readers.

Friday, November 26, 2021

Coloring Books


Recently I was lucky enough to receive two gorgeous adult coloring books to review.  The first is Kaleidomorphia by Kerby Rosanes wno is the author of the bestselling Morphia series.  The images in this book are very finely detailed and many extend across two pages.  This is one image from the artist.

The other book is Coloring The Zodiac by Christina Haberkern.  It contains fifty pages to color and each one is detailed and fresh.

The Widow by Fiona Barton


As this novel opens, a man has just been killed; hit by a bus and gone in an instant.  Glen Taylor isn't mourned by many however.  He had been the main suspect in the disappearance of two year old Bella, the toddler whose story had captured the attention of the nation.  Glen had been identified as a person of interest, taken to trial but found not guilty.  He and his wife had been vilified in the press, losing jobs and friends.

We are now given the story of Glen's death and Bella's abduction as seen through the eyes of three people; Jean Taylor, Glen's wife, Bob Sykes, the police inspector who still firmly believes in Glen's guilt and Kate Waters, the reporter who is determined to get Jean's story.  Along the way, we are taken back and follow the police investigation from start to finish.  We track the Taylor's marriage, how Jean fell in love with Glen because he was confident but later found that confidence and the controlling that came with it confining.  We learn about the conflicts a reporter faces as they have to decide how far they will go to get a story.  Finally, we learn the truth about Bella.

This is the first in the Kate Waters series, which has three books.  The switching between viewpoints allows the story to be told in a way that hints at secrets and slowly reveals them.  The reader will change their minds several times about what really happened and who was to blame.  This was a debut novel and Barton has become successful since writing other stories in this same genre.  This book is recommended for mystery readers.

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Dead Scared by S. J. Bolton


D.C. Lacey Flint has recently returned to work after a case that went awry and almost took her life.  But things never stand still in the police force.  Cambridge University has had a recent string of student suicides.  Almost all are women and almost all are suicides by violent means that women rarely use.  Although the victims almost all had psychological issues, the police are not convinced that the women were not bullied into their actions or maybe even lured into situations where someone else forced their deaths.

D.I. Mark Joesbury is in charge of the investigation.  He comes up with the idea of sending Lacey in as a new student who projects fragility and vulnerability.  Lacey is up for the assignment although she matches the profile all too well due to her recent disastrous assignment and her upbringing.  The plan seems to be working.  Almost as soon as she is installed in the university in the former room of the latest victim, things begin to happen.  She is targeted for a horrendous hazing incident where she is kidnapped, tied to a tree and drenched with ice cold water as other students watch.  She starts to hear noises at night and feels like she is being watched.  Can she and Joesbury uncover the plot before someone else dies?

S.J. Bolton who also writes as Sharon Bolton is one of my favorite mystery authors.  She is not as well known here in the United States as in her native England and that is a shame.  This novel is the second in the Lacey Flint series and she also writes standalones that are suspenseful and taut.  This book is recommended for mystery readers.

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt


When Theo Decker is thirteen, his life changes forever.  He and his mother are on their way to his school where a possible suspension will be discussed.  They stop at a museum and Theo sees a girl who fascinates him, there with what appears to be her grandfather.  Moments later, an explosion rocks the museum.  Theo can't find his mother who had left to go to the museum shop but he does find the man he thought was the girl's grandfather.  He stays with the man as he dies.  Before he passes, the man gives Theo a ring and a small picture.  The picture is the museum's and is of a goldfinch.  

The man isn't the only victim of the bomb.  Theo's mother is killed also.  His father took off months ago so Theo ends up at the house of a former school friend, a wealthy Park Avenue family.  Grieving and lost, Theo eventually makes his way to the grandfather's house where he discovers Pippa is recuperating under the care of Hobie, the grandfather's partner.  The two ran an antique store with Hobie doing the restoration and the other man running the business.  Hobie is a soothing man who takes Theo under his wing and gives him a space to grieve and start to heal. 

But things soon change again.  Theo's father blows into town to collect him.  He has been living in Las Vegas where he supports himself gambling.  Theo goes to live with him and his girlfriend but the two are mostly gone, leaving Theo to his own devices.  He meets a friend, Boris.  Boris is Ukrainian, his father a mining engineer who stays at the site and leave Boris to his own devices as well.  As is common with unsupervised teenagers, the two become more and more delinquent.  Through it all, Theo keeps the painting hidden; he now knows it is a masterpiece and the police and the art world are searching for it.

The reader then watches the course of Theo's life.  He eventually winds up back in New York where he lives with Hobie and becomes his business partner when he is an adult.  Theo drifts from day to day, relationship to relationship, his own life forever marked by the explosion.  

This novel won the Pulitzer Prize For Fiction.  It is a masterwork.  Theo isn't a saint but he enters the reader's heart and takes up residence.  The reader cannot help but wonder how Theo's life would have turned out if he and his mother had gone straight to his school that day.  Tartt is an author whose infrequent novels are all books the reader will never forget.  This book is recommended for literary fiction readers.

Monday, November 22, 2021

Dead By Dark by Paul Doiron


Mike Bowditch has been an investigator for the Forestry Department for years.  He's exactly like one would expect; curious, insightful and introverted.  He lives alone with a wolf for a companion.  The wolf had come to him injured and he nursed it back to health but to his surprise, once healed the wolf had chosen to stick around.  Mike doesn't consider it a pet but he must admit he enjoys having him around.

A new case has just come in.  A wealthy professor died on the river several months ago.  The case was ruled an accident but his family doesn't think that is so.  The man's daughter-in-law is a South African who came to this country as a young woman and regarded the professor as her own father.  Yet he left his fortune to her daughter, his granddaughter.  The older woman is sure that the death was a murder rather than an accident and she wants Mike to investigate the death again.  Mike finally agrees to ask around about it.  He talks to some of the local families who don't have anything new to add to the investigation.  

Before Mike can make up his mind, he encounters tragedy.  Driving home in the dark, his vehicle is booby-trapped and before he can react Mike is thrown out into the river, trapped under the ice.  He manages to fight free of the ice and get out but now he is caught in a race against whoever wants him dead.  They are still out in the night, with a working vehicle and a gun they are quick to shoot at him.  Exhausted and injured, it will take everything Mike has to survive...if he can.

This is the twelfth novel in the Mike Bowditch series.  The story is told in chunks between two time periods; the now where Mike is fighting desperately for his life and the past where the reader learns more about Mike and about the case and people he has talked with.  The action is fast and suspenseful and the reader will be caught up in Mike's fight for survival.  Henry Leyva is the narrator and does an admirable job; his voice bringing a vision of the quiet ranger who won't be deterred from the truth.  This book is recommended for mystery readers. 

Saturday, November 20, 2021

Those Across The River by Christopher Buehlman


Stealing another professor's wife is not the best way to make it to the top in the academic world.  Blackballed at every campus where he applies, Frank Nichols finally decides that he will have to make a living doing something other than teaching.  Taking Dora with him, Frank leaves the North for a foreign environment to them both--deep in the Old South.  For Frank has a secret.  His great grandfather was the notorious Lucian Savoyard, known for his savagery towards his slaves before and after the Civil War.  The stories of his cruelty are still whispered.  Frank plans to write a book about Lucian and if it is successful, move Dora out of the hot, humid place he has brought her to.

Dora gets a job teaching and the couple are welcomed into the community.  The townspeople are good folk, focused on working, family and God.  But there are hints that there is something else under the smiles.  The way that people turn away when Lucian's name is mentioned.  The fact that hogs are set loose in a monthly ceremony that no one wants to talk about.

When Frank tries to explore and find the ruins of the old plantation house, he finds unsettling sights.  The atmosphere once he gets over the river is tense and foreboding.  He encounters a naked boy whose gaze and malevolence is disturbing and that hastens his departure.  Townspeople start to have unsettling encounters and then random violence starts.  What has Frank's arrival set loose?

This is one of the scariest novels I've ever read.  Buehlman is a master writer, setting the environment of small town, sleepy Georgia town successfully.  The horror starts as a series of slightly unsettling occurrences and then roars to life with can't put down horror writing.  Readers will turn the last page sure that they won't forget this book anytime soon.  This book is recommended for horror readers.

Friday, November 19, 2021

Tell The Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka Brunt


June Elbus is fourteen and life is not going well.  She is not like the other kids at school and is considered strange.  Her favorite person in the world was her uncle Finn but he unfortunately died of AIDS recently, in an era when that is considered scandalous.  Finn was a famous artist and one of the things he left behind was a portrait of June and her sister Greta.  The portrait would be worth thousands if the family sold but it is a gift to the girls and cherished.

Besides June there is one other person who misses Finn.  Toby was Finn's partner and lived with him for nine years although his existence was hidden from the sisters by their parents who were ashamed of Finn's lifestyle.  They also blame Toby for Finn's illness and portray him to the girls as the worst person imaginable.  Imagine June's surprise when Toby reaches out to her and when after much inner angst, she develops a friendship with Toby.  What will happen if her parents find out?

Carol Rifka Brunt has written a touching coming of age novel that readers won't be able to put down.  Besides losing Finn, June is dealing with a strained relationship with her sister with whom she was once extremely close.  There's a boy at school who might be interested in June and maybe she is interested back.  Readers will be cheering for June and won't be able to stop until they know how everything turns out for her.  The novel is a debut novel and the author hasn't published another in the years since.  This book is recommended for literary fiction readers.  

Thursday, November 18, 2021

The Forger's Forgery by Clay Small


Henry Lindon is a university professor.  He has just taken a semester off from his institution in Dallas to take a job lecturing in Amsterdam.  Henry leaves for his new job; his wife Mary Lou is to follow.  He finds his university supplied apartment with the help of his official liaison and upstairs neighbor, Bernadette, an art professor at the same university.

When Mary Lou arrives, it is with bad news.  A figure from their past, Wheeless Kessler, is back.  Kessler who ran an investment trust was jailed after allegations of sexual harassment and worse from multiple women.  He is even suspected of murder in the case of his niece and police officer Esmerelda Ortiz is still working that case.  The Lindons have reason to despise Kessler as he was instrumental in importing dangerous toys that Mary Lou sold unknowingly through her business.  When the danger of the toys was revealed, she lost her business as she tracked down and bought back the toys from as many customers as she could find.  Mary Lou also has a personal reason to hate Kessler dating back to her high school days.  She had been okay while Kessler was in prison but he has somehow found a way to make his victims retract their stories and get released.  Now she is back living in fear.

The couple, with the help of Bernadette and Henry's brother Marvin, decide that they need to take care of Kessler once and for all.  Henry comes up with an audacious plan, brought to him by the presence of Bernadette with her art background and a new book about a master forger.  Will the plan do as Henry suspects and put Kessler out of business once and for all?  Will Ortiz find the evidence to tie him to the murder?

This is the second book in the Henry Lindon series.  The main story is interesting and the plot is full of twists and turns.  The only quibble is that the story moves back and forth in time and location between Amsterdam and Texas which can be confusing for some readers.  I listened to this novel and the narrator was perfect and logical without being overly dramatic just as Henry's personality was logical.  This book is recommended for mystery readers. 

Go Go Gato by Max Everhart


Eli Sharpe was a professional baseball player for a short time.  He was talented but when his career didn't take off, he started drinking and doing drugs and ended his career in spectacular fashion, driving a truck into the bull statue at the Durham minor league ballpark.  Now Eli lives in Ashville, NC.  He is a private investigator, specializing in marital infidelity cases and cases related to baseball such as running background checks on potential signees before teams offered them a contract.

When Veronica Sharpe walks into his office, Eli is ready to do whatever she wants.  Veronica is a tall, leggy blonde who is both a lawyer and a personal manager.  Her latest protege, Go Go Gato, playing for Ashville's minor league team, has disappeared and she wants to hire Eli to find him before his pro team finds out.  Eli takes the job, figuring Gato is just off on a bender.

But as he investigates the young player, Eli can't help but feel sympathy for him.  Gato was signed to a multimillion dollar contract when he was eighteen.  His first act was to arrange for his parents and twin sister to get to the United States, taking a boat from Cuba.  Unfortunately, the boat capsized and only his sister survived.  Now she is also living in Ashville with Gato in a condo that he titled in her name.  That's not the only thing that shows Gato's heart.  He has been thinking about marrying a woman with a young child who is down on her luck to help her out, although he has a rich girlfriend already.  Can Eli find Gato before he throws his chance at a professional career away?

This was a debut novel of the author.  It is noir in feel with Eli as a hero who doesn't want to be.  There are plenty of suspects in Gato's eventual murder and twists and turns on the trip to find the murderer.  Since I'm from North Carolina, it was fun to read a mystery set in Ashville where I've visited many times and recognize landmarks in the book.  This book is recommended for mystery readers.

Monday, November 15, 2021

The Invention Of Nature by Andrea Wulf


The Invention Of Nature narrates the life and times of Alexander von Humboldt.  He was born in Germany in 1769 to a wealthy family.  He was trained as a mining engineer but felt stifled by his surroundings.  From the time he was a young boy he longed to travel to other countries and see things not found in his environment.  When his mother died in his twenties and he came into his inheritance, he had his chance.  

Humboldt went on expedition to South America.  He reveled in the new vistas, the plants, animals and even insects never seen before.  He climbed mountains, navigated rivers and crossed the endless plains.  His expedition lasted five years and more than just exploring, he began to sense a connection that tied all the earth together and was new to thoughts of the world and our relationship to it.

When he returned to Europe, his new ideas took hold everywhere.  He was revered as the most important scientist of his time and extremely influential.  Humboldt lived into his eighties and his work influenced other scientists such as Darwin, John Muir and Thoreau as well as poets and authors such as  Goethe and Wordsworth.  Although he is almost forgotten today in common knowledge, he is still considered one of the most forward thinkers of his time and his theory of the earth's interconnectedness fuels the environmental movement.

This book has won many prizes.  It was a Best Book of the Year by such publications as The New York Times, The Atlantic, The Economist, Publishers Weekly, The Telegraph, The Spectator and many others.  The author, Andrea Wulf, is a German-British writer who focuses on scientific works.  She is interested in nature and how it is perceived and plants.  Her work focuses on the influence Humboldt had on thoughts about the earth during his time and how his work is still felt today in the environmental movement.  This book is recommended for nonfiction readers interested in science.

Saturday, November 13, 2021

The Icepick Surgeon by Sam Kean


The premise of this book is the harm scientists can do as they go about acquiring knowledge.   Each chapter discusses a different example of scientific practices that were ultimately knowledge producing yet harmful.  Kean starts with the case of William Dampier a naturalist who traveled the world collecting samples but whose temper resulted in him losing all his worldly goods as well as ending up imprisoned for beating up a naval officer on one of the ships he traveled on.

Other examples abound.  There were the anatomy doctors whose thirst for corpses to dissect led to the crimes of men such as Burke and Harte who supplied bodies by digging them up from the graveyard.  Those who did the first work on electricity such as Tesla and Edison also experimented on animals, electrocuting dogs and even elephants as entertainment for paying customers.  The paleontologists gave us knowledge about the dinosaurs and that epoch in the Earth's development but their knowledge was rife with territorial battles.  

Doctors have done many horrific things in the name of knowledge.  There were the experiments of the Nazi doctors in the death camps.  Less well known but also destructive were the doctors who worked on venereal diseases and gave these horrific diseases to patients so they could study the disease's progression.  The book's title refers to the lobotomies that were forced on mental patients and which left them damaged for life.  Psychologists and psychiatrists have used their knowledge to test how to break down a patient's defenses, which was done to the man who later became the Unabomber.  This field also has much to answer for when dealing with characteristics such as homosexuality or gender issues, which the field first called diseases and tried to 'cure' by horrific methods. 

Scientists err in other ways also.  There are the scientists who sold information to foreign intelligence agencies, both scientific knowledge and military information when they worked on projects for the government.  Some were involved in helping with torture, naming dissidents as mentally disturbed or overseeing such patients' care in asylums.  Scientists in crime labs who scrimp on their work or misreport the conclusions evidence points to are responsible for false imprisonment or conversely, for guilty prisoners going free because all the trials in which they testified are now tainted.

Same Kean has concentrated his career on writing books about various scientific topics.  This book is an interesting collection although personally I had heard of almost all the cases prior to reading this.  I listened to this book and the narrator was very good.  The two men have collaborated on several of Kean's books.  This book is recommended for nonfiction readers who are interested in science and for those who wonder how to balance ethics with the need to discover new knowledge.  

Thursday, November 11, 2021

Booksie's Shelves, November 11, 2021


It's almost Thanksgiving in what has seemed like the shortest year in my memory.  It's still warm in North Carolina with daytime temperatures in the 60's and 70's.  Things are moving along nicely in our family.  DH has taken up golf and heads out to the links twice a week.  Our daughter is working her first professional job and doing well, working remotely and living with us to save money for a while.  Our son recently started a new job and moved into a new house with his fiancee and kids.  I'm making progress in my goal of reading books from my own shelves and downsizing the outrageous number of books we share our home with.  But that's not to say I don't get new books now and then.  Here's what's come through the door:

  1. The Best American Mystery Stories of 2014, edited by Laura Lippman, anthology, purchased
  2. By The Time You Read This, Giles Blunt, mystery, purchased
  3. Bottled Goods, Sophie van Llewyn, literary fiction, purchased
  4. Touch And Go, Thad Nodine, literary fiction, purchased
  5. Love Slave, Jennifer Spiegel, literary fiction, purchased
  6. The Halloween Moon, Joseph Fink, fantasy, sent by publisher
  7. Hyde, Daniel Levine, suspense, purchased
  8. God's War, Kameron Hurley, fantasy, purchased
  9. The Inquisitor's Wife, Jeanne Kalogridis, historical fiction, purchased
  10. Vladimir, Julia May Jonas, literary fiction, sent by publisher
  11. The Secret Of Snow, Viola Shipman, women's fiction, sent by publisher
Here are the ebooks I've bought:

  1. The I-5 Killer, Ann Rule, true crime
  2. Breakdown, Sara Paretsky, mystery
  3. Deadly Secrets, M. William Phelps, true crime
  4. Night Watch, Terry Prachett, fantasy
  5. Bewilderment, Richard Powers, literary fiction
  6. Every Move You Make, M. William Phelps, true crime
  7. Lore, Alexandra Bracken, lore
  8. A Dying Fall, Elly Griffiths, mystery
  9. Five Little Pigs, Agatha Christie, mystery
  10. A Double Life, Flynn Berry, mystery
  11. Mayo Clinic Guide To Arthritis, Lynn Peterson, nonfiction
  12. The Snowdonia Killings, Simon McCleave, mystery
  13. Forty Words For Sorrow, Giles Blunt, thriller
  14. The Twilight City, Gregory Mattix, fantasy
  15. The Black Coast, Mike Brooks, fantasy
  16. The Information, James Gleick, nonfiction
  17. Star Mother, Charlie Holmberg, fantasy
  18. Her Perfect Family, Teresa Driscoll, mystery
  19. A Head Full Of Ghosts, Paul Trembley, thriller
  20. The Boy, Tami Hoag, mystery
  21. Go-Go Gato, Max Everhart, mystery
  22. Her Last Breath, Hilary Davidson, literary fiction
  23. Desire Lines, Christina Baker Kline, literary fiction
  24. Sleepyhead, Mark Billingham, mystery
  25. Jackaby, William Ritter, fantasy
  26. Blow, Demelza Carlton, fantasy
  27. Firewall, Henning Mankell, mystery
  28. Into The Sound, Cara Reinard, thriller
  29. Hogfather, Terry Prachett, fantasy
  30. The Saracen's Mark, S.W. Perry, mystery
  31. The Sound And The Fury, William Faulkner, literary fiction
  32. Absalom, Absalom, William Faulkner, literary fiction
  33. As I Lay Dying, William Faulkner, literary fiction
  34. Cry Baby, Mark Billingham, mystery
  35. The Burning Girl, Mark Billingham, mystery
  36. The Demands, Mark Billingham, mystery
  37. Bloodline, Mark Billingham, mystery
  38. The Good Turn, Dervla McTiernan, mystery
  39. Duel Of Fire, Jordan Rivet, fantasy
  40. The Binding, Bridget Collins, fantasy
Here's what I'm reading:

  1. The Goldfinch, Donna Tartt, literary fiction, paperback
  2. The View From The Cheap Seats, Neil Gaiman, nonfiction, hardback
  3. The Painter, Peter Heller, literary fiction, paperback
  4. The Widow, Fiona Barton, mystery, Kindle
  5. Go-Go Gato, Max Everhart, mystery, Kindle
  6. Tell The Wolves I'm Home, Carol Rifka Brunt, literary fiction, hardcover
  7. Those Across The River, Christopher Buehlman, horror, paperback
  8. The Night Swim, Megan Goldin, thriller, Kindle
Happy Reading!

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

The Fallen by Eric Van Lustbader


The Fallen are the angels who were expelled from Heaven with Lucifer.  When Lucifer and the Fallen come to power, humankind will be destroyed.  Mankind has dreaded and done whatever is possible to avoid this for over two thousand years.  Has the time come for Lucifer to succeed?

Bravo Shaw is the head of the Gnostic Observatine sect whose purpose is to defeat Lucifer and his legions.  He is warned by his closest friend who is an immortal monk, Fra Leoni, that the battle has been joined with the discovery of a manuscript buried deep in a remote cave.  Bravo has enemies everywhere who want to defeat his quest to find and destroy the manuscript.  His sister and a mysterious woman work with him to follow the clues.  Will they be in time?

This is the second novel in the Testament trilogy.  The action is fast and furious.  There are plenty of betrayals, mysteries, blood, sex and heartstopping battles.  Readers who loved The Da Vinci Code will find this novel interesting and in the same genre.  It is not a book for the fainthearted.  This book is recommended for readers of mysterious religious tales.  

Saturday, November 6, 2021

Lesson In Red by Marie Hummel


Maggie Richter is the copy editor/publicist for the Roque Museum in Los Angeles  although her dream is to be a fulltime journalist.  She has tons of contacts throughout the LA art world so she seems the perfect choice when her mentor, Janis Roque, has a problem that she needs solved but in a discreet fashion.

Brenae Brasil was an up and coming art student at LAAC, the Los Angeles Art College, which is tightly aligned with the Roque Museum.  Brasil's art was cutting edge and tended to make people uncomfortable as she told the truth as she saw it.  But her potential is cut off prematurely when she kills herself.  Before she died, she created her most controversial art work.  It is a video work that shows Brasil having sex with an unnamed man; a man she insists pressured her into the sex and who had the influence to end her budding career.  

Janis wants to know if the allegations are true as the video was not discovered at the time of Brenae's death.  Was someone on the museum staff guilty of this crime?  Was Brenae's death really a suicide or was someone getting rid of a career-ending allegation?  Janis wants Maggie to go undercover at the museum and LAAC, talk to the students who knew Brenae and determine which staff might have been involved.  Maggie will have Ray, a detective she had been involved with in the past to help.  Can Maggie and Ray find the answers and validate Brenae's work?

This is the second novel in the Maggie Richter series.  Ray is a character from the first novel as well.  This narrative is told from Maggie's viewpoint and is confused since she is slowly unraveling the secrets of the museum and college.  She only has incomplete information and is filling in the pieces but readers used to third person narratives may find the story vague.  There are also many characters, administrators, students and police personnel that are a bit difficult to keep straight.  This book is recommended for mystery readers, especially those who read the first Maggie Richter novel.

Friday, November 5, 2021

Waiting For Sunrise by William Boyd


The novel opens in Vienna in 1913.  A young man, Lysander Rief, has come to Vienna to seek the help of a new kind of doctor, a psychoanalyst.  Lysander is an Englishman and an actor.  His father was a famous actor before his death and his mother is now a Lady after her remarriage.  Lysander is having a sexual problem and needs help.  His doctor gives him some tools to try but then he meets Hettie and his problems seem to be solved.  Hettie is a fascinating woman, the common law wife of painter and a sculptor herself.  The two have a torrid affair that ends badly with Rief fleeing Vienna ahead of the law and a baby neither planned on having.

Due to the help Rief received from the British Embassy in his departure, he owes a debt to the government.  As the first World War starts up, the bill becomes due.  Someone is a traitor in the government and sending classified information to the enemy.  The government wants Rief to find this person.  As someone with no prior attachment to the government, he will not be suspected of spying.  Thus begins his next life.  Attached to the military as are most young men, he begins a life of intrigue and subterfuge.  Can Rief find the traitor?

This is an interesting novel.  The reader is quickly drawn in and cares about what happens to Lysander.  There are betrayals and intrigues everywhere he looks and he is thrown back on his own ingenuity in order to find those who can be trusted and those who would do anything to keep their secrets buried.  This book is recommended for readers of literary fiction.

Thursday, November 4, 2021

The Clockwork Crown by Beth Cato


In this second and concluding novel in the Clockwork series, healer Octavia Leander is on the run from her enemies and on a mission.  The Lady from whom Octavia draws her magical powers to heal seems to be in trouble and the Tree which symbolizes her power is fading.  Octavia is accompanied by Alonzo Garrett, a man who gave up his identity as a Clockwork Dagger when he fell in love with Octavia and vowed to save her from all danger.

As the two attempt to solve the mystery, they learn new secrets.  There is a reunion with a powerful king from the past and the two learn the mystery behind the chimeras that the powerful have created.  But something is happening to Octavia.  Her skin is thickening and darkening; almost as if it was turning to bark.  What is happening?

This is an interesting young adult series.  There are plenty of mysteries to be solved and the love story between Octavia and Alonzo is fulfilled without being too graphic.  The world building is done in a satisfactory way that supports the action taking place.  This book is recommended for young adult and fantasy readers.

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

Tooth And Claw by Jo Walton


When the ancient and powerful dragon Bon Agornin died, it caused many family complications.  His eldest daughter is married to a rich dragon and that dragon claimed rights to Bon's body he didn't have.  The other two girls in the family are of a marriageable age, but Bon left little fortune behind and it is unclear where the girls will end up.  There are also two sons.  One is a parson, dependant on his mentor's good will for his living and that of his family.  The other works in a civil service job and is trying to move up in society and make his fortune.

In the months following, complications arise.  The brother in civil service sues his rich brother-in-law, setting off that dragon's ill will and temper.  The girls have suitors but don't have the dowry that would allow them to marry.  There are lots of threads to follow as the family attempts to move forward.

Jo Walton is a fabulous science fiction writer.  This novel won the World Fantasy Award.  It is written in a style reminiscent of Victorian writers like the Bronte sisters and Jane Austen and the society of dragons it describes is much like that.  The role of society and where one fit into the ratings scale is paramount, except that these are dragons and might eat you at a moment's notice.  Similarly to those Victorian novels, in this one the threads are satisfactorily tied up in happy endings.  This book is recommended for fantasy readers.