27.2.15

HUSH MONEY, by Chuck Greaves

1/series. For a first-time novel, this is sensational. The author nails the exotic world of rotten-wealthy dressage afficionados, plus the even more exotic world of lawyers. Such a lawyer, ex-public prosecutor and now member of the "snobbiest law firm in Pasadena", is wise-cracking Jack MacTaggart, whose wry voice tells a tale of equine murder, hyper-privilege, double- and triple-dealing, and concealment at any cost. Which quickly includes murder. It all begins when Hush Puppy, a prize-winning dressage horse, is found dead in his stall. Click here for more...

VAMPIRES & GHOULS & ZOMBIES, OH MY...

I don't know how this happened, I'm not an admirer of these stories, yet I picked up four of them (yes! four!) at the library. So I read them, and for the most part have enjoyed them, although if I never read another one about a zombie I'll be very pleased. Here's my reviews; I hope you enjoy them.
THE RADLEYS, by Matt Haig, chronicles the angst of abstaining vampires and the falsity that characterizes their lives. I loved this one, the writing was clean and illuminating (vampires? angst? yes!), the characters very compelling. It's a 5.
THE BUNTLINE SPECIAL, by Mike Resnick, puts Thomas Edison in Tombstone AZ in time for the Gunfight at the OK Corral. Alternative history/western/fantasy/vampire, I guess you'd call it. Prolific, award-winning author Resnick has brought together the Earps, Bat Masterson, assorted criminals and gunslingers (including a zombie named Johnny Ringo), a lot of magic, Edison's inventions, and Geronimo as a magician. It's a 3.5.
PARIAH, by Bob Fingerman. I wanted to finish this, as the premise is fascinating and the characters - all stuck in a New York apartment building as zombies down on the street wait to starve them out -  are varied and very well drawn, although several are totally unsympathetic. But I just don't like zombies. Maybe you do, and if so this is an excellent read, I'll give it a 4, but don't ask me to justify that for something I couldn't even finish. I guess it's like being given a fab bottle of wine but being unable to drink it all?
CASTING SPELLS, by Barbara Bretton is reviewed elsewhere on its own, but it's a great romance touched by magick and populated by every kind of odd critter ever invented. It's an 4.5...even more if you like magic stories.

22.2.15

JUST WICKED ENOUGH, by Lorraine Heath

Silly title nothwithstanding, this is a good read. There's little wicked about either principal in this late Victorian love tale, there's just two wounded people groping for love and connection. Michael Tremayne, Marquess of Falconridge, is dead broke. Following the lead of many of his similarly-destitute peers, he decides marrying an American heiress is just the thing. Practical to a fault, Michael holds an auction for a handful of fabulously rich American daddies. Kate Rose's doting father wins, and Michael has - to his shame - sold himself and his title. But he has better reasons than simply installing electricity at the family seat. Click below for  more...

16.2.15

QUEEN OF HEARTS, by Rhys Bowen

8/series of Royal Spyness mysteries starring Lady Georgiana Rannoch, 34th in line for the British throne. Which means that she is too royal to work and too broke not to. In this delightful tale,  Georgie's mother, a self-absorbed stage actress, decides to cross the Atlantic and visit Reno, home of the quickie divorce. The much-married former Duchess of Rannoch whisks Georgie onto the Berengaria, where most of the passengers are wealthy, and many own fabulous jewelry. Pining for her not-quite-fiance Darcy O'Mara, attempting to play deck quoits without wounding bystanders, and trying to ignore her mother's endless flirtations, the not-always-graceful Georgie becomes embroiled in a possible man-overboard, and then a jewel heist. Click below for more...

13.2.15

WATCHING YOU, by Michael Robotham

9?/series, starring Professor Joe O'Loughlin and retired London Detective  Inspector Vincent Ruiz. Two less likely friends you will never dream up, but the O'Loughlin/Ruiz team will keep you on the edge of your seat almost until the last word. Do not start this gripping, multi-layered tale on a Sunday night! Marnie Logan's husband Daniel vanished a year ago. She's beyond broke, feinting and avoiding eviction, starvation . . . and her missing husband's debt-collector, a nasty piece of work that Ruiz has a history with. But strange things happen to those who cross Marnie: death. Rough, merciless, grisly death. Click below for more...

11.2.15

SAY YOU'RE SORRY, by Michael Robotham

7/series. A good novelist has no mercy on the characters. Robotham is merciless, plus he's a wizard at creating complex plots and even more complex characters. The Joe O'Loughlin and Vincent Ruiz duo - one a psychiatrist, the other a retired London detective - simply can't be beat in contemporary suspense. This harrowing tale, set in and around the lovely university city of Oxford, is filled to the brim with unrelenting tension, multi-layered and suffering characters. Three years ago, two fifteen year-old schoolgirls vanished, without a trace being found after an exhaustive police search. Click below for more...

8.2.15

THE BAKLAVA CLUB, by Jason Goodwin

5/series. Constantinople, mid-1800's, the Ottoman Empire is past its prime, known as The Sick Man of Europe: corrupt, inefficient, its rulers advised by men (and the rare harem-bound woman) ruled only by their own survival. There are exceptions, and one is Yashim, a forty year-old eunuch who investigates for the sultan. And cooks fabulous meals in his spare time. But he is distracted by love: the pretty Natasha, daughter of a Russian exiled to Siberia, come to see the Sultan's mother and beg a favor. Natasha brings with her tales of sexual subjugation and terror, and the lonely Yashim is swept off his feet, almost literally. Click below for more...

6.2.15

THE GOOD THIEF'S GUIDE TO AMSTERDAM, by Chris Ewan

1/series. Before you visit Amsterdam, this is as good a guide as you can find, particularly if you are interested in brothels, how to steal a bicycle, and where to find the most violence-prone bridges. The author has created a charming, amoral hero in Charlie Howard, a novelist who writes about crime. He ought to be good at it: his night job is burgling for fun and profit. Charlie's approached by an American who wants him to steal two little plaster statues, 2/3 of the Good Monkey series (see no, hear no, speak no, those monkeys). The fee is far more than generous. Click below for more...

2.2.15

THE POSTMISTRESS, by Sarah Blake

A war novel of great originality. Set in coastal Maine, and London, during World War Two, this sharply-written novel brings you into the heart of the action on these two sides of the Atlantic. They are linked through most of the novel by the gut-wrenching radio broadcasts of an American journalist who is mentored by Edward R. Murrow, and who is stationed most of the time in blitz-savaged London. Her one trip to France, to find out what is happening to Europe's Jews as the country is falling under the thumb of the Nazis, is a disaster that will haunt the journalist forever. Click below for more...