When a new book in a series I read is about to come out, I frequently reread the last entry (or even the entire series) so that I will have all the events leading up to the new entry clear in my mind. I wasn't sure I wanted to reread "Pirate King," but since Garment of Shadows didn't appear on Audible the same day that it appeared on Amazon in hardback, I was feeling I might explode with anticipation. So I thought to myself, "Maybe Pirate King wasn't really as bad as I remember. I'll re-listen to it while I'm waiting for 'Garment.'" Well, Pirate King WAS as bad as I had remembered it. I listened for about an hour and then turned it off again. So I was a little worried. I mean, I never would have believed that Laurie R. King could have written anything as bad as PK. Did she have a stroke? Is she on some new and horrible cholesterol drug that has destroyed her mind?
I was worried.
Well, put your minds at rest. I still don't know what happened with Pirate King, but it was apparently just temporary. Garment of Shadows is back in the groove. The plot is good and there is plenty of mystery. Mary gets to exercise her considerable tenacity and ingenuity. There is plenty of Holmes. There are subsidiary characters in this book that we can actually like. Danger abounds.
One strange thing. In some of the Mary Russell books, we get sections written from Holmes's point of view. That is true in this book too. In previous books, Jenny Sterlin narrated both those parts of the book from Mary's POV and those from Holmes's POV. But in this book, they chose to get a second narrator to narrate those sections which are from Holmes's point of view. I've gotten used to Holmes's voice the way Jenny Sterlin does it, and the new narrator's voice for him is quite different, so it was sort of a shock. Even more strange is the fact that when the story is told from Mary's point of view, there is still dialog in which Holmes speaks, and this is still spoken by Sterlin. So we have two very different voices for Holmes in the same recording. I suspect many people are going to hate this. I didn't hate it, but I did think it was entirely unnecessary. We've gotten used to Sterlin's performance of Holmes's voice over many books. It wasn't broken. It didn't need to be fixed.
So finally: I recommend this book highly. Thanks Mrs. King. I loved your new book.
I just finished listening to “Fer-de-Lance”. It was written in 1934 and is the first book in a series that runs to more than 40 books. The Nero Wolfe series is considered by many to be one of the great mystery series of all time.
There are fashions and fads in publishing just as there are in clothing. At the time Rex Stout was writing, the fashion for crime novels was for them to be short. I think they usually ran 180 to 200 pages. Just before listening to this book, I listened to a rather horrible and over-long science fiction novel, and starting this was like a refreshing breath of cool mountain air. The Sci Fi novel ran nearly 24 hours. Fer-de-Lance, at 8.5 hours, was about a third as long. This means that Rex Stout had to make every word in this novel count. The plot had to be tight; he didn’t have any room in his word count for long, preachy speeches or irrelevant subplots. This novel may have been a third the length of the other, but I got three times or ten times or 50 times the pleasure from it.
And yet in that 8.5 hours, he manages to give us vivid characters who are instantly recognizable by the way they speak, a complicated mystery, and a great deal of humor. He does not find it necessary to assault us with bad language, gratuitous sex (or any sex at all), or gruesome details of gory or prolonged deaths. Thank goodness.
I was introduced to this series as a teenager, and every few years I have to reread them. I’m not sure I’ve read every one in the series. It used to be hard to get the whole series. The series was written over more than 40 years so some of them always seemed to be out of print. I’m not sure all of them are available now, but Audible has 19 of the 47 (By my count. I could be wrong.) Kindle has most of them, but I’m not sure if they have them all.
Do not be afraid to start the series because you can’t get them all. This is one series in which each book truly stands alone. You don’t need to read them in any particular order. However, since they were written over such a long period of time, I like to read those I can get in order by publication date because I get some amazement and pleasure out of watching the changes in society over time. For instance, in this book, cars still have rumble seats, housemaids earn $1.00 per week, and biplanes are still the standard. In one of the books in the series written 20 years later, Archie (Wolfe’s assistant) boards an airplane in New York and flies to Italy while wearing his gun in a shoulder holster and nobody even questions him about it.
Now a word about the narrator. I think all the books in this series are read by Michael Prichard. He narrates a lot of crime and suspense novels. He does a good job. I can tell Wolfe from Archie by his voice. I have no complaints about the way he does women’s voices. I am sorry that he doesn’t do accents because there are people in these books that definitely have them. But on the other hand, you probably couldn’t find a single narrator who could do as many accents as you would need for this series, so I guess we have to be grateful for what we get.
Bottom line: I recommend this entire series. Big time.
Eric Flint has written a number of books that are so good that he would be on my list of favorite authors if he hadn’t written such a high proportion of books that are so bad that I sometimes swear I will never again read anything with his name on it. (All of these bad books were co-authored with inferior writers.)
This book is part of Flint’s Ring of Fire series. The first book in the series, “1632", is very good, and the two books he wrote with David Weber are also good. The story begins in Central Germany in 1632 in the midst of the 30 Years War. But soon the action spreads to involve most of Europe. Because the action is so huge and over such vast areas, he has broken the books out into spinoffs which he calls threads. This book is the third in the Southern European Thread.
After reading the first book and the two collaborations with David Weber, I was so thrilled that I bought the first two books in the Southern European thread (both co-authored with Andrew Dennis) at the same time in hardback. I plowed through the first, “1634: The Galileo Affair,” but was so disgusted by it that I donated the second, “1635: The Cannon Law,” to my local library unopened. Periodically, I reread “1632" and being hungry for more of the same, I will try another of the spinoffs. I am usually disappointed. After reading “The Galileo Affair,” I would never read another book with Andrew Dennis’s name on it. But when this book came out, I saw that Flint had a new co-author for it, and the reviews indicated that this book was better than its two predecessors in this thread.
So I bought it....... Sigh.
There are several subplots going on at once in this book, and one of them follows the group that is trying to save the pope who has been deposed by a cardinal who plans to kill him and put himself in as the new pope. The bad guy, a Borgia, is portrayed as so evil and stupid that the only comparisons that come to me are the bad guys from super-hero comic books or Saturday morning cartoons. The supposed good-guy pope doesn’t have credentials much better. In this book it is mentioned that in history he is mainly known for his extreme nepotism. He supplied his family members with everything he could get his peculating hands on. And something I read about him elsewhere indicated that he had a habit of sending out squads of assassins to deal with people he couldn’t get out of his hair any other way. Yet in this book he is revered by everybody whether Catholic or not, and we the readers are subjected to long, dull arguments about the various tenets of twelfth century catholocism. Somewhere, Robert Heinlein remarked, “One man’s religion is another man’s belly laugh.” I am neither Catholic nor a Christian. I can’t really get into arguments about the infallibility of the pope or whether good people should consider it their duty to save the souls of unbelievers by burning them at the stake.
Another subplot involves efforts to rescue a young couple in the hands of the evil wannabe pope. These people are being held in comfort, although the threat of harsher treatment is always at hand. But meanwhile dozens of military personnel and hundreds of innocent civilians are being tortured and killed in the attempt to rescue two people. What? I just couldn’t see any justification for this. In real life some innocent civilians may be captured and held prisoner by the enemy, but usually the best way to rescue them is to win the war, not waste far more lives making ridiculous commando raids deep into enemy territory.
The book is waaaay too long for the material it covers. There are waaaay too many characters, making it difficult to remember who is a good guy and who isn’t. The storyline switches from one subplot to another waaaay too often so that it is impossible to get involved in any of them.
So: if you have read or listened to all the previous books in this series and liked them, you will probably like this one too. But for the majority of readers, I cannot recommend this book.
I recently reviewed the latest entry into this series, and I blasted it pretty hard. Then, when my anger cooled, I wished that I could edit my review a bit, but Audible does not offer us a way to do that. So this review is, in part, my apology to Mr. Weber.
“On Basilisk Station” is the first book in a very large series. The series has given me a great deal of pleasure over the years. The main character in this series is Honor Harrington. Please note that her initials are HH. Weber has said that his inspiration for this series is the Horatio Hornblower series. (I recommend that series as well. Thanks to Audible for finally getting it. The Hornblower series was also the inspiration for the original Star Trek TV series, according to Gene Roddenberry.)
In this book we see Honor Harrington as a young(ish) star ship captain. Her country is small, consisting of the people of three planets all in the same star system. They are being threatened by a very large and corrupt star nation consisting of many star systems. Many of the events--at least in the early part of the series--parallel broad events in the conflict between England and France in the early 1800s. (Napoleonic wars) The Hornblower series was about English sailing ships helping their country to fend off Napoleon. This series is about Manticoran star ships protecting their country.
I hope what I have said so far doesn’t make Weber sound like a cheap hack copying a better writer. Hornblower was the “inspiration” for Honor, but the plots, characters and story arcs are all Weber’s.
We have various levels of peril in these tales - peril to Honor’s family and career, to her life and the lives of those she commands, and very real peril to her country. We have a large company of characters; people (on both sides of the conflict) that are honorable and whom we grow to love, as well as people (on both sides of the conflict) who are venal, evil. Many writers become so fond of their characters that they can never kill off the good guys. Weber does--on a regular basis. It takes some getting used to.
AND Weber writes amazingly good action scenes.
There are now more than 20 books in this series, I think (the main series has 13 books, but there are also a couple of spinoff series and at least five anthologies of short stories in the Honorverse). Many people say that the first three books in the series are the best. I would agree that the first three are among the best, but I do have some favorites that occur later in the series. There are also five or six compilations of short stories in this series. I have reviewed a number of them. Many of them provide tidbits of information that will help you understand events in the next full-length novel. There is no question, however, that later books in the series are too wordy and have too few action scenes.
So here is the bottom line: I recommend this series. It is one of my favorites. But each person will have to decide whether they will read the next book in the series. My son stopped reading them at about book 9 or 10. I quit once, then started again, and I think I may have quit completely now. But don’t let poor books late in the series stop you from starting the series. You would miss out on some great stuff.
This is the middle book of a planned trilogy. Many authors have had trouble with the middle of their trilogies; think of the Lord of the Rings. I liked the first book in this series better than this one, but I definitely plan to buy the next one.
I liked much about this book (and its predecessor). I like the double fantasy: Part of the action takes place here on Earth in the present and part of the action takes place on another planet which is more like your typical sword and sorcery fantasy world (Medieval setting; kings and peasants; swords and mages, etc.) I like the world-building. Card’s novels always show that he puts in considerable thought into how the science or fantasy work in his worlds. He really thinks about the background stuff. I like the two narrators. One, a man, narrates everything that takes place on Earth; and the other, a woman, narrates everything that takes place on the other planet. This makes it easy to follow the switches in location. I liked the explanation that different mythologies actually reflect families of mages who lived in particular parts of the world: One family lived in Scandinavia, so they are known in mythology as Odin, Thor, Loki, etc. Another family lived in Greece and were known in mythology as Zeus, Mercury, etc. I liked the unfolding of the plot. In the first book, the story is mostly about Danny trying to survive and trying to figure out how to use his powers without any living tutor to mentor him. But in this book, a deeper problem unfolds.
Now to the things I didn’t like. I didn’t like the amount of time spent on discussions of sex. Danny is an adolescent boy; this means he’s horny all the time. I get it. But it doesn’t interest me. I also didn’t like the portrayal of virtually every girl in the book (not the women; just the girls). It seemed that every single adolescent girl in the book was just as obsessed as Danny with sex, and they one-and-all come on to him. I have read other young adult books in which adolescent horniness reared its head and I didn’t mind it, but in this book I found it unpleasant. In fact, I didn’t care for most of the repartee among Danny and his high school friends. I didn’t feel that it contributed to the story, either. Maybe it will become more apparent in the third book why Card felt it necessary to add these kids.
Now I’d like to comment on the woman from North Carolina who says she can never read another Card book because Jesus is mentioned once in this book. She reminds me of those fanatic Christians who wouldn’t let their children read the Harry Potter books. (I had a 13 or 14-year-old student who was reading an adult romance novel that had quite a lot of pretty explicit sex, and that was okay with her mother, but she wasn’t allowed to read the Harry Potter books, because magic comes from the devil.) Don’t they understand the concept: FICTION? And in fact, I thought the question of whether Jesus was one of the mages in these families was left very much up in the air.
Okay, bottom line: I liked this book. As far as I can tell at this moment, I think the complete trilogy is going to be terrific. If you haven’t read the first book in this series, I would recommend that you do. Read them in order.
P.S. There is another story which Audible has which takes place on the second planet in this series and the magic system is the same. It is called “Stone Father” and it is novella-length. I liked it a lot.
This is the first book in a series which I first discovered when I was in junior high. Since I lived in a rather isolated small town and our local library only had two or three of the books in the series, I had to wait impatiently until I went away to college to get the rest of the series. It was well worth the wait.
I have listened to both this entire series and also the Aubrey-Maturin series, and while there are many points of similarity between them, I like this one better.
Forester did not write the series in chronological order. The first book he wrote in this series was “The Happy Return” (That is the name it was published under in England; in the U.S. it was named “Beat to Quarters”) I know another reviewer here has said the that the first book was “The Commodore,” but I have consulted Wikipedia and a couple of other sources online, and they all say, “The Happy Return.” However, he went back over time and filled in the gaps in the chronology, and I have always read them in the order Audible presents them here.
There are five short stories about Hornblower which Audible does not have. I doubt that audiobooks of them were ever made. However, they are available on Kindle in a book called “Hornblower Addendum”. If you are interested in reading them in the order they fall in in the series, consult the Wikipedia article, “Horatio Hornblower.”
David Weber credits this series as the inspiration for his Honor Harrington series. Like Weber, Forester writes a ripping good action scene. And I have been assured that he did a good job with his research so that the historical details are authentic.
C. S. Forester wrote many novels other than the Hornblower books. The majority of them were never made into audiobooks, and when I checked a few years ago, most of them were out of print. However, many of them are now available on Kindle, and I recommend them to you. I have read two of them recently enough to be able to recommend them particularly: “The Good Shepherd” (about an American ship captain during World War 2) and “Captain from Connecticut” (about an American ship captain and a British ship captain around 1814).
I consider this one of the best series I have ever read. I recommend it to you.
I’m coming to the conclusion that to recommend David Weber’s Honor Harrington series is illegal for the reason that it breaks the Constitution’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment.
When I was about halfway through this book, I seriously debated whether to finish listening to it. I was so incredibly frustrated I had to restrain myself from throwing my iPod against the wall. For my taste, Weber has always spent far too much time with the bad guys onstage plotting their evil deeds. But in the early books, it seemed like there were just a few locations and groups of bad guys. So maybe you got a half-hour of the good guys doing their good guy stuff, and then you got ten minutes of bad guy stuff. But in this book it seemed like there were a couple of dozen groups of bad guys all in different locations. So you got maybe ten minutes of the good guys, then 15 minutes with bad guy #1, 15 minutes with bad guy #2, .... until you finally got to bad guy #37, and then you finally got 10 more minutes with the good guys.
Also, there are WAAAY too many characters and locations to keep track of them with ease. I imagine there were maps if you bought the hardcover, but us second-class citizens who listen to our books don’t get maps. There is an Honorverse wiki site on the internet that has clickable character bios that you can use to figure out who is who and where they fit into the story. But should it really be necessary for readers to have footnotes in order to follow what’s going on?
Most of the time up to the halfway point in this book, I truly felt like I had almost no idea of what was going on. In the second half of the book, all that set-up began to pay off, but it was still too wordy. (Nobody ever comes straight to the point in a Weber book.)
And then it ended on a cliffhanger. I actually shed a couple of tears when this book came to an end. Not because I was sad that it had ended; not in sentimental happiness at the wonder I had just finished reading. It was combined rage and frustration, because Weber has sucked me in again. I need to know what is going to happen in the next book. I hope that with a year to cool myself off, I will be able to resist buying the next book. This series has stopped being fun. It’s more like drug addiction. I’ve got to have my fix, but there is no pleasure in it anymore, just the degrading feeling of being out of control.
Because I knew this book was coming out, I re-listened to all the Mercy books, the Alpha and Omega books, and all the short stories in either series in their proper order.
With all the entries in this double series fresh in my mind, I have to say that this book and "River Marked" are my two favorites. The overall quality of the series makes it a close call. The series started very good and has gotten better as it goes along.
I like the fact that Mercy still has lingering trauma from when she was raped. I like even better that she doesn't dwell on it. When bad things happen, instead of moaning about her problems, she takes action. And action is what this genre of book is about. I like that she feels free to take actions that she knows her husband would not approve, and I like that she is secure enough in herself and in him that she doesn't have to spend a lot of time and energy moaning about that. Again, she calmly recognizes the situation, but takes the action she feels necessary.
I like the fact that even when she doesn't think she can win, she still does what she thinks is right. I like the fact that she doesn't default to a big gun in a fight. She has the Coyote's gifts, and she uses them.
I like the fact that not only Mercy, but many of the minor characters have grown and changed over the course of the series. And I like the fact that the characters who get the most on-stage time are the likable ones. One of my problems with some authors is that unpleasant characters get so much time onstage.
Patricia Briggs knows how to build suspense, and she does it to great effect in this book.
If you have not read the previous books in this series, I think you could start with this one and still follow what is going on, but I recommend that for the richest experience, you start with the first book in this series ("Moon Called") and read both this series and the Alpha and Omega series in order of publication date.
I highly recommend both this series and this entry into the series.
I’ve noticed lately that I seem to be writing more negative reviews than positive ones, and I decided to begin writing reviews of some of my favorite books. The Amelia Peabody series was for many years my very favorite series in any genre. It was only demoted after I discovered the Mary Russell series and the Vorkosigan series. I can’t tell you how many times I have listened to the entire series. For a while there I know I was listening to it two or three times a year.
I won’t go into the reasons why Amelia Peabody is so great because other reviewers have already done a good job with this. I totally endorse the reviews by Carrie from Plainfield, IL and Joanna from Scottsdale, AZ.
However, I do want to talk about the narrator, Barbara Rosenblat. She does an incredible job with this series. As others have noted there is much humor and sarcasm in this series and she delivers it perfectly. I only attempted to “read” rather than listen to one book in the series, and it was so much less without Barbara’s inspired acting, that I never tried it again. There is one character in the series who is first seen as a baby, then a child, young teenager, older teen, young adult and ultimately as a man in his thirties. Barbara Rosenblat manages to change his voice to be appropriate to each age and yet make it still recognizably the same person over the course of this long series. It totally blows my mind.
Audible has most books of the series, but not all of them. I know they are (or were) all available as read by Ms. Rosenblat because I had them all at one time on cassettes or CDs. Now, for some totally incomprehensible reason, Audible is acquiring the series again but read by a different person. I haven’t heard any of the books as read by the other person, but the reviews I’ve read say she is very second rate. I can’t imagine what Audible thinks they are doing with this move.
So I highly recommend that you read this series (which actually gets better as it goes along), and that you make sure to get only those recordings in which Barbara Rosenblat is the narrator.
In this anthology, each author was asked to write a short story which included a werewolf or other supernatural creature and Christmas. I didn't like all the stories, but I tend to be picky. There were enough good ones that I don't regret spending my credit on it. I will rate the stories individually.
“Gift Wrap” by Charlaine Harris (Part I)
A Sookie Stackhouse story. Not very long. It involves a lonely Christmas that turns into something more. A nice story with a good ending. 4 stars
“The Haire of the Beast” by Donna Andrews @43 minutes (Part I)
Amusing but a bit mean-spirited. I gather that this story is not part of the series she is apparently best known for - Meg Langslow. I liked it well enough that I’m going to get “Murder with Peacocks”, the first book in the Meg Langslow series, which is available here on Audible. Unfortunately, at this time Audible only has three books of the 14-book series. I’ve also ordered the first book in her Hopper Turing series in paperback. 4 stars
“Lucy, at Christmas-time” by Simon R. Green @59 minutes (Part I)
I didn’t care for this one. Very British tongue-in-cheek. Reminds me of Terry Pratchett. I think (but am not sure) that we were expected to find this darkly amusing, but I just found it dark and downbeat. Not my cup of tea. 2 stars
“The Night Things Changed” by Dana Cameron @1:12 (Part I)
Has werewolves and vampires, but they are quite different from your typical ones. I didn’t really care for the accent that the narrator used for them, but that is just a personal taste thing. Basically an upbeat theme which I liked. I gather that Cameron is turning this into a series with the first entry coming out in 2013. If they acquire it for Audible, I will get it. 4 stars
“The Werewolf Before Christmas” by Kat Richardson @2:21 (Part I)
A werewolf replaces Rudolf pulling the sleigh. I found it preachy in an illogical, rather sickly over-emotional way. 2 stars
“Fresh Meat” by Alan Gordon @3:19 (Part I)
This was not my favorite book in the anthology, but not the worst either. It’s about a man who trains guard dogs, and takes place on Christmas Eve. I plan to look into other things he’s written. 3.5 stars
“Il Est Ne” by Carrie Vaughn @4:22 (Part I)
Google translate tells me that “Il est ne” means “It is not.” I’m writing this review a few days after I listened to this story, and I can’t figure out what “It is not” has to do with the story. Anyway, this story is part of her series about the werewolf named Kitty who has a late-night radio talkshow. I read the first book in that series and felt no compulsion to read the second, and this story was the same. It wasn’t terrible, but it didn’t quite do it for me. You’d think that two werewolves investigating a horrible serial killer would be exciting, but I found the story dragging. 2.5 stars
“The Perfect Gift” by Dana Stabenow @5:35 (Part I)
I didn’t quite understand this story. I think I might have followed its subtleties better if I’d actually read it rather than listening. If I ever choose to listen to this a second time, maybe I’ll pick up more. Anyway, there are vampires and cops and where those two elements come together there must be blood. 3.5 stars
“Chritmas Past” by Keri Arthur @6:08 (Part I)
I didn’t care for this one. We have two cops who are undercover to find a bad guy. One is dressed as a Christmas elf and is manning one of those donation buckets one sees outside shopping areas around Christmas, and the other is supposedly hiding in a dark doorway to spring out upon the bad guy when he appears. But they keep talking to each other. I couldn’t help thinking that the bad guy would notice that the elf kept talking when no one was around and would locate the hidden one. Illogicalities like this just kept on occurring. And there was actually very little mystery. There would be one paragraph about the ongoing investigation and then three pages about their romantic problems. Then another paragraph about the investigation and another five pages about how mouth watering the elf found the werewolf. I listened to this less than a week ago, and I can’t remember a thing about the bad guy. Was he supernatural? Did they kill him or merely catch him? I can’t remember. He had little to do with the story. Did the hero and heroine get back together? I don’t want to spoil the story for you, so you’ll have to guess. You’ll only need one. 2 stars
“SA: by J. A. Konrath @18:00 (Part II)
I found this story indelicate but very amusing. It involves some very unusual shapeshifters and a great triumph. 4 stars
“The Star of David” by Patricia Briggs @1:48 (Part II)
This story is part of the Mercy Thompson series. It involves David Christensen, the first werewolf to come out to the rest of humanity. I can’t think what else to say because I don’t want to spoil anything. Just say I liked the story. 4 stars
“You’d Better Not Pyout” by Nancy Pickard @2:58 (Part II)
I didn’t like this story. It involves two Russian vampires and Santa Claus and I just didn’t find it amusing. Tastes differ. Maybe you will. 2 stars
“Rogue Elements” by Karen Chance @3:50 (Part II)
Another instance of former lovers getting back together and starting up the same tedious arguments that broke them up the first time around. I couldn’t even bring myself to finish this one and I tried twice. Werewolf politics. A “hero” who smokes cigars, cheats at cards and isn’t interested in rescuing young women who have been kidnaped. Sorry, but I didn’t like him. In fact by the time I’d been listening to this story for forty minutes, there was not a single character I liked. 1 star
“Milk and Cookies” by Rob Thurman @5:11 (Part II)
A teenage boy having trouble with the school bully. I thought I was going to like this one in spite of the narrator’s terrible rendering of children’s voices. However, it took a turn at the end that I didn’t care for. But tastes differ. Give it a try. 2.5 stars
“Keeping Watch Over His Flock” by Toni L. P. Kelner
A young werewolf on Christmas Eve. I liked this story despite the same narrator as “Milk and Cookies” doing his worst with the children’s voices again. 4 stars
This is a collection of urban fantasy/detective stories. This is one of the best anthologies I’ve read in recent years. Usually, I only like a few of the stories in an anthology, but in this large anthology there were only a few I didn’t like. There were several stories by authors I already know and like and there were several by authors that I am glad to have been introduced to. I’ve already downloaded one novel by one of the authors below and have put others into my wishlist. There was also a great deal of variety in this anthology. There were stories in many different and unusual places and times. There was also much variety in the form the fantasy took. In some stories we had your typical urban fantasy werewolves and vampires, but in others there were less typical types of supernatural events taking place, and in still others the supernatural was only in the minds of the characters. I recommend this book.
“Death by Dahlia” by Charlaine Harris
A vampire named Dahlia is asked by the vampire sheriff to find out who committed a murder in the vampire nest. So-so. Not bad; not great. 3.5 stars
“The Bleeding Shadow” by Joe R. Lansdale
Takes place in the 1950s near as I can tell. We have an unlicensed private detective asked to find the brother of his ex-girlfriend. This is a dark story but very gripping. 4 stars
“Hungry Heart” by Simon R. Greene
I’ve tried one of Greene’s novels and two of his short stories. They are dark, cynical and tongue in cheek a la Terry Pratchett. I think he writes well, but his style is just not to my personal taste. Give it a try.
“Sticks and Stones by Stephen Saylor
Stephen Saylor is the author of a popular series of historical novels set in ancient Rome. This story’s main character is a young Roman man who goes to the even more ancient city of Babylon as a tourist. Ghostly events follow. 4 stars
“Pain and Suffering” by S. M. Sterling
Very well written. Narrator is good too. The story of a man who, after leaving the military, returns to New Mexico and becomes a cop. Only problem is, he keeps running into things that aren’t quite right. I’ll be trying this author again. 5 stars
“It’s Still the Same Old Story” by Carrie Vaughn
I’ve read other things by Carrie Vaughn. They almost do it for me. This is framed as a murder mystery as most of the stories in this anthology are, but it is more of a bittersweet romance. If you are into romance, you may like it more than I did. 3 stars.
“The Lady is a Screamer” by Conn Iggulden
I really liked this story. The main character has a lot of personality. I enjoyed his journey from fake psychic to... I haven’t read anything by Conn Iggulden before, but I plan to try him again soon. 5 stars
“Hellbender” by Laurie R. King
Laurie R. King is one of my favorite writers. She has written a little science fiction, but she is best known for her crime novels. In this story she combines the two, and she does her usual excellent job. I don’t want to give away ANY of the details; better to let the story unfold itself as you read. All I will say is that I found the ending brutally satisfying. 5 stars
“Shadow Thieves” by Glen Cook
“No Mystery, No Miracle” by Melinda M. Snodgrass
I enjoyed this one. We have a being from another universe, disguised as a human private detective, riding the rails during the Great Depression, disguised as a hobo... 4 stars
“The Difference Between a Puzzle and a Mystery” by M. L. N. Hanover
A cop is working with an exorcist to solve a torture-murder of a young woman. I have to admit that I don’t quite understand this story. I liked elements of it. I’m left with questions. I guess that was the author’s intent. 3.8 stars?
The Curious Affair of the Deodand” by Lisa Tuttle
This seemed as if it must be the beginning of a series. Though the names are different, we seem to have a young Sherlock Holmes and a female Watson. The language seemed very similar to that of Conan Doyle, but whereas Holmes consistently rejected belief in the supernatural, this story embraces it. I liked it. If it WERE part of a series, I would buy the next one. 4 stars
“Lord John and the Plague of Zombies” by Diana Gabaldon
I was a big fan of Diana Gabaldon’s first book, but I liked each of its successors less. I’ve read one other Lord John story and it didn’t inspire me to search out the others. I didn’t dislike this one, but it dragged a bit for me. 3 stars
“Beware the Snake” by John Maddox Roberts
This is another historical mystery with a Roman as the main character. In this case we have a Roman senator who has been commissioned by Caesar to solve a crime involving a stolen religious object. I liked this one. I plan to look into the author’s other books. 4 stars
“In Red, with Pearls” by Patricia Briggs
This story is part of the Mercy Thompson series. However, the main character in this story is Warren. If you have read the Mercy books, you know that Warren is third in dominance in the local werewolf pack, and that his lover has helped him get a private detective’s license. This story doesn’t involve the pack. He is doing outside detective work. I don’t want to give away any plot details, so I’ll say nothing more than that it has a very fine ending. 5 stars
“The Adakian Eagle” by Bradley Denton
This story is set on one of the Aleutian Islands during World War II. We have
American troops stationed there to prevent the Japanese from invading, and we have a torture/murder which needs investigating. I liked this story. 4 stars
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