10.9.19

THE BEEKEEPER'S BULLET, by Lance Hawvermale


Germany, 1917. A mesmerizing story of flying aces, feisty heroines, and death in the sky over war-torn Germany. When a British flying ace crash-lands his stolen plane near a German farm, American Ellenor Jantz, beekeeper on the farm, shoots first and asks questions later. She ought to turn the handsome pilot in, but something about Alec Corbin-Dawes instead makes her hide him in the farm's stables.
Alec is on a personal mission: to save his sister, who lives in Metz, which is scheduled to be hit by a massive air-raid in four days. He talks Ellenor into helping to start the plane he plans to steal from the German squadron based on the farm. In the pre-dawn process, as the plane taxis across the field, everything goes terribly wrong.
As usual, you'll get no spoilers here. It's a fun beach read, with a plethora of arcane facts about bees, "crates" as the pilots called their flying machines, and the intricacies of mid-air dogfights. There's also a charming but deadly villain, an underground anti-war cell, and a nice war-time love story. 
It's a 4. A fun read with some interesting historical tidbits and a fascinating in-depth look at the original fighter planes. Unsurprisingly, the author is a beekeeper.

3.9.19

THE DEVIL'S WORKSHOP, by Alex Grecian

Third in the acclaimed Scotland Yard Murder Squad series set in Jack the Ripper's London. If you like brooding atmosphere and psychological terror combined with the graphically gory, this is your series.
London policeman Walter Day is confronted by a sly, cunning murderer...or is it more than one? Could it be a copycat of Jack the Ripper, still at large?
A carefully arranged prison break frees four notorious killers. In theory, the four were supposed to be delivered into the hands of a vigilante group. In practice, the wily criminals are at large. Along with a fifth that nobody ever dreamed would again be on the loose.
Walter Day and colleague Nevil Hammersmith pursue clues and find gory bits of victims as the killers lead them on a chase through London streets and sewers. Hammersmith seems impervious to danger...with the resulting injuries.
While the police sleuth, a far-seeing doctor establishes a morgue to analyze murder victims, and (with typical Victorian disregard) has his teenaged daughter sketch the results. Meanwhule, Day's family is at risk, and while he's away the threat literally comes homes.
Complex, chilling, the perfect read for lovers of detailed and graphic mystery. It's another 5. Read the series in order if you can.
Find the author at https://alexgrecian.com




GAME OVER, by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles

11 in the best-selling series starring London CID Inspector Bill Slider and his incomparable team. One of the great charms of this series is the fully-drawn private lives of the major characters, particularly Detective Inspector Bill Slider and his sidekick, the suave and way-too-debonair Jim Atherton.
Here, Slider and his very pregnant girlfriend Joanne try to find time to tie the knot before their baby is born. In typical incautious style, Jim Atherton gets tangled up with a victim's journalist daughter as they investigate the murder of a noted BBC correspondent. With friends in high places, the victim has influence from the grave.
Complicating matters are the threats Slider receives from an escaped criminal out for the ultimate revenge. For the Detective Inspector, the notion that a game is over when a felon goes to prison is not true. Now, under chilling conditions, he's got to figure out how to stop this personal threat as he investigates corruption in high places. And find time to marry Joanna, of course.
The series is compelling and best read in order. The author combines crime and police procedural with a full array of personal problems and foibles into a marvelous mix of can't-put-down tales. To date, there are 26 books. Think of the binge! It's another 5 from this prolific writer.
Find the author at www.cynthiaharrodeagles.com
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1.9.19

ARTIFACT, by Gigi Pandian

#1 in the Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt contemporary mystery series, for which the author won an award from Malice Domestic.
Historian and professor Jaya Jones receives a package from an old boyfriend and discovers a lovely piece of what she first thinks is costume jewelry: a heavy gold ankle bracelet with a large red stone in it. She quickly learns that the boyfriend, Rupert, has died in a car crash in Scotland. And that the anklet isn't costume jewelry, it's real and part of a lost cache of Mughal-era jewelry lost for centuries. It may in fact have once belonged to Nur Mahal, wife of the famous Jahangir who built the Taj Mahal.
When Jaya's Merkely apartment is burgled, she decides answers to the threat are in Scotland. Accompanied by Lane **, atractive and blond and mysterious, she goes to London. She is followed from the British Library, where they research history of the Raj. In Scotland, the plot thickens as bogus summons to London and Lane's arrest on faked theft charges that put them out of action. But only until Jaya figures out the solution.
Filled with the lore of the Highlands and the history of the British Empire, Jaya and Lane are a great team with just enough romance to muddy the waters.
This prize-winning book and its subsequent series are a fascinating meld of history, mystery, danger, action, and just enough romance. It's a 5.


A MURDEROUS PROCESSION, by Ariana Franklin

4/series Mistress of the Art of Death. Anatomist and physician Adelia Aguilar is ordered by King Henry II of England to accompany his pre-teen daughter to her future husband. The thousand-mile journey, fraught with more than merely danger from brigands, will traverse Queen Eleanor's French holdings as well as factions not under either monarch's control, including the unruly Cathars. In faxt, the unruly everyone. This was an age of every man for himself. Part of the young princess's dowry is the legendary sword Excalibur, which is coveted by Henry's sons as the emblem of their right to rule.
As the procession slowly wends its way south through France, from castle to monastery, Adelia must keep the princess safe, her own tiny daughter unscathed, everyone healthy, and hope that Excalibur, cleverly hidden, will safely arrive at its destination. But there is a murderer traveling with them, and Adelia must find him before he finds her. It's a 5, as are the other books in this compelling series.
The author does not have a website.
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THE CAIRO AFFAIR, by Olen Steinhauer

An author whose works ought to be more well-known (pardon to the author, maybe they are and I'm just now discovering him). International intrigue in all its convoluted, misleading details. Sophie Kohl has just confessed to a long-ago affair with one of her husband's colleagues when a stranger arrives at their table and shoots her diplomat husband Emmett. The killer is a known assassin-for-hire. Sophie, guilt-stricken, flees to Cairo where she stays with Stan Bertolli, her old lover. Who has never stopped desiring her. What at first appears to be a garden-variety tale of infidelity with an exotic background, soon develops into a tortured mid-east plot awash in murder and intrigue. Steinhauer has been called the next Le Carre, and this tale is ample proof of his writing prowess. Click below for more...

THE SCARLET LION, by Elizabeth Chadwick

2/series on the life of William, Earl of Pembroke and English kingmaker. Medieval fictionalized biography rarely gets better than this. William, one of the most powerful men in medieval England, friend to Richard Lionheart, Eleanor of Aquitaine, and their sons, is ordered by his dying king to see Prince John on the English throne. At that time - 1197 - the English throne was more Norman, with lands on both sides of the Channel. William, Marshall of England, throws his support behind the sly, licentious and unpopular Prince John. Click below for more...

AMERICAN NEOLITHIC, by Terence Hawkins

To be released November 2019. Chilling, terrible, tragic, funny, Orwellian. In an America brought to near-dictatorship by a bogus nuclear scare, a strange-looking fellow named Blingbling is accused of murdering a rap star. Raleigh, a mid-grade Manhattan attorney who remembers the good old days pre-Patriot Amendments to the Constitution, is coerced into defending the oddball.
Little escapes the notice of the ever-vigilant Homeland Police, an enormous and dominating agency with seemingly unlimited power.  When it looks as if Raleigh will actually mount a defence for the accused, a series of events begins that will give chills to many readers.
The most startling aspect of the story is Blingbling's memoir. Narrated in turns by Blingbling and Raleigh, the fascinating, entertaining, horrid tale unfolds. Blingbling, while he cannot talk clearly, is self-educated, and a man of keen observation, dry wit and gently scathing observation. Impossible not to care for him. And for the self-indulgent but calculating Raleigh as well, although they are very different characters.
Many times, after each bizarre turn, I could only think, "This could easily happen."
It's a 5. It will sadden many, perhaps infuriate others. Do not skip to the last pages and read the ending. Part of the power of the book is its gradual slide from gray to black. Every page counts, there are few wasted words here. It ought to be a best-seller.

THE DEAD TRAVEL FAST, by Deanna Raybourn

Theodora Lestrange shudders at the thought she might have to marry, have children, sit by the fire and embroider as she waits for her husband to come home. This is the normal trajectory of the Victorian woman and, now that her well-meaning but respectably poor brother-in-law is her caretaker, it becomes a real threat. When an invitation comes from an old school friend to visit her in Transylvania, Theodora doesn't think twice. She's got her Get Out of Edinburgh card in hand.
The farther east she goes, the more atmospheric and wild the country. She arrives at Castle Dragulescu at day's end and her old friend Cosmina is delighted to welcome her. The elderly, ailing Countess Dragulescu, Cosmina's guardian, introduces her to her arrestingly handsome son Andrei, Count Dragulescu. Theodora is instantly attracted to the enigmatic man who, she quickly discovers, Cosmina is afraid of. The count knows every ploy in the seducer's arsenal and finds the lovely visitor susceptible.
Local lore and the peasants on the count's land believe in strigoi - vampires - and Theodora finds persuasive evidence they may actuaslly exist. As she and Alexei grow closer, his behavior seems more and more odd. A midnight exorcism involving chants and holy water and wooden stakes in the castle crypt - suitably horrific - ups the ante. Why does Alexei's long-deceased father looks so fresh and lively? Who killed the serving girl, whose lifeless body has two puncture wounds on her bosom? Should she believe Alexei's cool claims of indifference?
Matters come to a head in an unexpected moment which, in my zeal to do no spoilers, you will have to discover for yourself in the book.
Very readable, with a feisty heroine and a suitably surprising villain. Very Gothic. Five stars. Raybourn is a great writer of romantic suspense.