Murder in the Mews by Agatha Christie

Read January 2020
Recommended for Christie fans
 ★     ★    1/2

A collection that shows its age, culturally speaking.

Dead Man’s Mirror
3 stars
“The flat was a modern one. The furnishings of the room were modern, too. The armchairs were squarely built, the upright chairs were angular. A modern writing-table was set squarely in front of the window and at it sat a small, elderly man. His head was practically the only thing in the room that was not square. It was egg-shaped.”

Clearly written in the days when entrance and exit wounds were not a known Thing by all readers/viewers. Nonetheless, I liked the characterizations. The classic locked-room mystery that seems to be a suicide.

***********************************

The Incredible Theft
2.5 stars
“As the butler handed round the souffle Lord Mayfield leaned confidentially towards his neighbor on the right, Lady Julia Carrington. Known as a perfect host, Lord Mayfield took trouble to live up to his reputation. Although unmarried, he was always charming to women.”

I never really grooved much on Christie’s attempts at spy stories. It’s a strange bygone age, where people apparently take home Top Secret Plans and have Top Secret Meetings at their country estates. Still, Poirot, and it is intriguing as a period piece.

*****************************
Murder in the Mews
2.5 stars
“‘Penny for the guy, sir?’ A small boy with a grimy face grinned ingratiatingly. ‘Certainly not!’ said Chief Inspector Japp. ‘And, look here, my lad–‘ A short homily followed. The dismayed urchin beat a precipitate retreat, remarking briefly and succinctly to his youthful friends: ‘Blimy if it ain’t a cop all togged up!'”
Christie does a nice twist. Inspector Japp and Poirot investigate an apparent suicide, discovered by the woman’s roommate. More dialogue, with more feel of polish.

*****************
Triangle at Rhodes
2 stars
Don’t read this if you are going to read Evil Under the Sun.

Hercule Poirot sat on the white sand and looked out across the sparkling blue water. He was carefully dressed in a dandified fashion in white flannels and a large panama hat protected his head. He belonged to the old-fashioned generation which believed in covering itself carefully from the sun. Miss Pamela Lyall, who sat beside him and talked ceaselessly, represented the modern school of thought in that she was wearing the barest minimum of clothing on her sun-browned person.”

Christie must have been working out her plot for one of her better known, full-length mysteries. This is quite truncated at a mere 25 pages and loses much of the atmosphere that makes the book so powerful.

Two-and-a-half stars, rounding up, because, Christie. If I rate them lower, it’s probably because I’m comparing them to my memories of her at her best.

Edition note: this is the right ISBN number, wrong cover. It’s a 1984 reprint by Berkeley Books and features a sihlouette of Poirot on the front.

Posted in Book reviews | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Ocean Anatomy: The Curious Parts and Pieces of the World Under the Sea by Julia Rothman

Read January 2020
Recommended for people who like oceans
 ★     ★     ★    ★    ★   

Almost perfect*

This is a solid overview of the ocean environment that should appeal to both visual and book learners. Done in a very friendly format mix of text and colorful doodlesque-pictures, one could read a little or a lot at a time. It’s also a book that does a nice job of transcending an age target. I’d comfortably give this to a nine-year-old who was interested in the ocean, but equally, I plan to buy and re-read it myself as an ocean primer. As a swimmer and a snorkeler, much of my information on the ocean has been picked up in a hodge-podge of areas, so I think a solid overview is worth the investment.

The sections include:
1. The ocean: why is it salty, the speed of sound, trade winds, the ocean floor, tides, currents, waves
2. Fish: food chain, bioluminescence, fish anatomy, schools, shark anatomy, jellyfish anatomy, deep sea creatures
3. Whales: anatomy, size comparison, bubble-net feeding, dolphins, echolocation, species, manatees
4. Beaches: sand, tide pools ecosystem, shell anatomy, seaweed, shore birds, ocean birds, crab anatomy, snails and scallops
5. The depths: ocean floor, sea cucumbers, fishes, hunting, octopus, squids, lobster, starfish, anemones, turtles, migrations
6. Reefs: zones, polyps, coral, fish support, the Great Barrier Reef, sea horses, sponges, grasses, nudibranches
7. The arctic: ice, glaciers, icebergs, sea lions and seals, narwhals, penguins, polar bears)
8. Humans and the sea: low and high impact fishing, lighthouses, studying the ocean, studying the sea, sea commerce, climate change, good news.
It also includes a bibliography and recommended reading.

Some of the material is strictly fact presentation (with pictures) that might appeal to readers who like numbers, or who do not already have an appreciation of scale. For instance, the two pages on ‘Oceans’ describe the maximum depth of each ocean and a fun fact or two.
“Atlantic Ocean: covers 20 percent of the Earth’s surface
*slowly growing outward…
*average depth 11,000 feet.”

However, it isn’t just a litany of numbers. There’s description as well, such as how sand can be made of coral, volcanic rock, quartz or seashells, with drawings that illustrate how the textures and sizes differ. Charts are interesting, such as the one that compares types of seashells, or types/sizes of whales and types of dolphins.

Rothman clearly understands that part of the draw of the ocean is its animals, and significant space is devoted to the classic favorites (whales, dolphins, penguins, sea horses) as well as some more unusual and fun creatures (sea cucumbers, nudibranches).

The pictures enable potential intimidating sciencey-stuff (tides, world current flow) seem accessible. The text and mix of information types makes the pictures, and what could be just an encyclopedia of creatures, be more contextual and less overwhelming. Overall, an extremely well done book that I’ll look forward to seeing in print.

*my one caveat is that the text–probably in an effort to be fun and add variety–is occasionally in cursive. it’s the least readable of the variety of the fonts in this book, not only because it’s cursive, but it’s a couple grades above physician-level-cursive. I also had to laugh when I saw it, because the State of WI government just had a dust-up over whether or not to mandate schools include cursive writing in their curriculum.

**I’ll come back and add pictures after I buy and after publication date

My thanks to NetGalley for the ARC, and to Fran for reviewing and bringing it to my attention.

Posted in Book reviews, Non-fiction | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

A Game of Ghosts by John Connolly

Read January 2020
Recommended for fans of Charlie Parker
 ★     ★     ★   

“A new fall of snow had settled upon the old, like memories, like the years.

It would freeze, too, according to the weathermen, adding another layer to the ice that blanketed the city, and another day or two to the slow thaw that must inevitably come, although any release from the cold seemed distant on this February evening. Still, at least the latest snowfall, the first in more than a week, hid beneath it the filth of earlier accumulations, and the streets of Portland would look fresh and unsullied again, for a time.

Although the air was chill, it held no clarity. A faint mist hung over the streets, creating penumbrae around the streetlights like the halos of saints, and making a dreamscape of the skyline. It lent the city a sense of duplication, as though its ways and buildings had been overlaid imperfectly upon some earlier version of itself, and now that shadow variant was peering through, the people of the present within touching distance of those of the past.”

It’s not fair. One of the one writers who I would absolutely read a literary fiction book by has never written one. Oh, it’s integrated, to be sure. I would just prefer even more passages devoted to our main characters, and even less time on various depravities. I liked the emotions in this book; there’s tough work with Parker and Rachel, and serious things developing with Angel that result in some solid conversations. Jennifer and Sam both appear and do interesting things, although Sam’s are definitely from a more age-appropriate perspective, and Jennifer’s are from her otherworldly one.

For future-carol.: Parker is asked by Ross, FBI agent to informally look into a missing P.I., and Angel and Louis end up helping him out. This book is slightly more distinguishable through the multiple viewpoints that include Parker, Lewis, Jennifer, Sam, villain, the Collector, side villain. There’s significant threads from other books brought in, particularly the Collector and his father, and the remnants of the Webb family (who I had forgotten). There horror factor is dialed far down, with only one torture scene, and the supernatural spooky is dialed up. 

The short, spoiler-y (but not really) summation: this is the one where (the villains are all suburbanites–apparently Connolly’s new go-to; the Collector’s father is aging; Rachel initiates custody proceedings; Angel is hiding serious medical symptoms; there’s a weird side story with Webb’s son and an attempt to take over a criminal enterprise that is responsible for the other part of the gore/violence factor.)

Read again? Probably not. Except that first page. Solid.

Posted in Book reviews, Thriller | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Uncanny Collateral by Brian McClellan

Read January 2020
Recommended for fans tough guys with tats
 ★     ★     ★     

A decent urban fantasy; for those who follow the field, I’d say better than the first books in the Dresden series and on par with the Iron Druid series. McLellan has been writing a while, so this is definitely not the work of an inexperienced writer. The pace starts off running and doesn’t let up. Characterization is decent, although given there are essentially two main characters, Alek and Maggie, that’s a reasonable expectation. It does explore a different group of urban fantasy creatures than are normally seen, which is intriguing. The hero, Alek, is half-troll, his bestie is a trapped djinn, there’s a number of imps, along with few other creeps. An appearance by Death is particularly nicely done.

There are touches of humor: since the djinn, Maggie, has a telepathic connection with Alek, there’s steady banter between the two. It gives the feel of Dresden and the skull, or Hearne’s druid and his dog. Could banter be a genre requirement?

However, I’m not sure that the idea of the ‘OtherOps,’ or the police for the Others, quite makes sense, nor why our hero would still be allowed to be a contract slave in context of a legal society. But honestly, it wasn’t the kind of book that I was intending to read closely; I was using some brainless reading time on Kindle unlimited account. A good diversion.

Posted in Book reviews, fantasy, Urban fantasy | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

The Word is Murder by anthony horowitz

Read January 2020
Recommended for fans of horowitz
 ★     ★   1/2  

One thing you can say about horowitz, he certainly likes to base his mysteries around a Catchy Idea. In this book, he’s written himself into the story, biographical details and all, but because I’m not a horowitz Fan, versed in his history and genre, I found it more distracting than intriguing. It left me wondering how much was fact, how much fiction, how much autobiography and how much artistic license. Perhaps this is part of his intention; an odd genre mash-up of mystery, memoir, fiction, and craft advice.

There’s no doubt, Horowitz is a highly competent writer whose skill is far above the workmanship level of the normal thriller. Written in first person, in his role as himself, I enjoyed the bits of writing craft he discusses with the detective, Hawthorne, as when he tries to explain that saying ‘a bell rang’ when a door is opened is mental short-hand for the reader/viewer to think of an old-fashioned kind of establishment. At times, however, he becomes quite intrusive into the story; less of a Doctor Watson/Arthur Hastings than perhaps Dr. Sheppard (Murder of Dr. Ackroyd).

“It’s easy for me to remember the evening that Diana Cowper was killed. I was celebrating with my wife: dinner at Moro in Exmouth Market and quite a lot to drink. That afternoon I had pressed the Send button on my computer, emailing my new novel to the publishers, putting eight months’ work behind me.” (from Chapter Two, ‘Hawthorne’)

Part of the trouble, perhaps, is that the characters were drawn well enough to be not particularly likable, but not well enough to be redeemable. We both thought the mystery wasn’t that compelling; I mean, it was interesting enough, as was Tony’s reaction to it, but perhaps because the pace of solving the crime kept getting interrupted by personal issues and digressions (Tony’s Hollywood meetings, his obsession with finding out more about Hawthorne), it didn’t feel like a race to finish, even after More Stuff started happening.

And that ending. Oh, that ending drove me bonkers, because it relied on one of the worst genre tropes–tv tropes–there is. We also end with not learning much about Hawthorne, for all Tony’s attempts at ‘investigation,’ but we do know too much more about Tony. I will give him credit; he was willing to allow himself to be perceived as an insecure and obtuse person. Dr. Watson indeed.

This was the second of a buddy read with Dan 2.Ω and one where we both had hopes of success. We had read Magpie Murders with good results and saw some fair ratings on this as well. Overall, I’d say it scores above House of Suns for far better writing and better characterization… although I can’t say that I liked the characters any more. The mystery was originally moderately acceptable in the microscopic analysis, although in the larger psychoanalysis, I’m not sure it holds. Horowitz is a better writer, so this was far easier to get through, with many scenes that were easy to visualize.

Two and a half stars, rounding down for that ending.

Posted in Book reviews, Mystery | Tagged | Leave a comment

Sweep in Peace by Ilona Andrews

Read January 2020, 2015
Recommended for fans of magical inns
 ★     ★     ★     ★   

Surprisingly, I liked this even better than the first novel in the Innkeeper series, Clean Sweep. I expected a paranormal romance direction and was pleasantly surprised to discover the plot surrounded the challenge of an interspecies summit at the inn.

Caldenia, ex-tyrant, and galactic exile, remains my favorite character. Characterization, of course, is where the Andrews shine, and her cut-throat political advice is the dose of strategy that balances innkeeper goodness and the violent tendencies of the species at the summit. Despite a host of delegates and a small group of Arbitrators to manage them, many of the characters feel well developed. Well done, Andrews.

““Let’s take down the gold leaf,” Caldenia said. “Elegance is never ostentatious, and there is nothing more bourgeois than covering everything in gold. It screams that one has too much money and too little taste, and it infuriates peasants.”

World-building worked better for me than in the first book. Multi-world/verse fantasy felt more developed although I’m glad that they didn’t stay with it long. Apparently there is also cross-over from The Edge series, but I can’t speak to how that worked. It felt like mild fan service when I first read it, but improved the second time through.

“Judging by the small smile on her lips, Caldenia was reading something with a lot of smut or a lot of murder.”

Writing was much smoother; not so much info-dumping, or at least it was integrated better than the first book. There’s nice flashes of humor, but the last quarter of the book takes a particularly dark tone. I thought the ending particularly innovative, if a little uncomfortable emotionally. Overall, it turned into a solid read that should have appeal to Kate Daniels fans, or fans of urban fantasy who don’t mind some sci-fi touches.

“Quillonians didn’t always want their problems resolved. They wanted a chance to shake their clawed fists at the sky, invoke their gods, and act as if the world was ending.”

 

Posted in Book reviews, fantasy, Urban fantasy | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

House of Suns by Alastair Reynolds

Read January 2020
Recommended for Reynolds fans
 ★     ★   

 Surprisingly uninteresting.

(Un)profound thoughts on genre: every genre has its icons, and Reynolds seems to be one of science fiction’s favorites, with at least sixteen books and many, many, more shorts and novellas. With a PhD in astrophysics, he even has the professional cred in science. But can he write?

The Dan 2.Ω and carol. jury is still out on that one. I can tell you that he is in desperate need of editing.

I’ve been finding myself asking, are genre icons too big to fail? Everyone in-genre raves about so-and-so; everyone out-genre doesn’t get what the big deal is. “Oh, if only you try the other series,” “They get good after the fourth book in the series,” “It’s not until Book XX that it gets really good.” What is it about a fan base that allows for these kinds of excuses?

No. Just no.

To like an author’s writing does not mean you have to like a whole body of work. To be an ardent fan of one series does not mean you have to support the other. Discrimination is indeed allowed, and these authors would probably benefit–indeed, we might all benefit–if someone should feel confident about saying, “no, this isn’t very good at all” without worrying about feelings. Conversely, perhaps fandom should stop being so obsessively hungry for stories that they pressure authors to “Write more books in the XXX series,” “Finish telling the story of X and Y,” and “Can we please hurry and make a movie out of this book?”

No. Just no.

Look for and expect something beyond mediocrity from people who have the wherewithal to produce it.

Specifics, for me. This is not a particularly well-done story. The writing is adequate, occasionally nice.

Characterization has been pushed and stretched into what is needed for plot. There’s a culture that is millennia old, that behaves with the self-indulgence and impetuousness of youth, and that has remained impossibly naive. Aside from five main characters (arguable), new ones who are introduced aren’t distinguished far beyond a particular trait, which is then repeatedly referenced for the reader (‘the leader,’ ‘the mismatched eyes,’ ‘beautiful,’ etc). Centuries old beings observing the rise and fall of civilizations are duped not once, but repeatedly. The Shatterling’s House culture is barely explained, so that we may accept things that happen, such as it’s unacceptable to arrive fifty years late to a Reunion, long-term coupling with other Shatterlings is unacceptable, as well as (spoiler).

The plot sputters like an engine running out of gas. It begins strangely, with our couple late for the Reunion, and then side-tracked in the process of trying to buy a faster ship (although one half of the couple already has the fastest ship of them all) and then many pages of dialogue about all the things preceding and upcoming. There’s a major space action sequence, that finally adds a lot of tension, then many, many, more pages of dialogue about everything that just happened.

At the same time, there’s a parallel story that takes place millennia in the past involving a young girl, Abigail, her playmate and a immersion cube, and the medieval castle setting where the two play. As an aside, the modern timeline also seems to be about a female Shatterling’s emotional connection to her current companion, Campion, and a Machine Person.

The ‘science’ here has officially reached the maximum of being so far advanced that it resembles magic, only in this case, it is pretty much magic, with duel options of travelling in stasis or slowed-down time, living millennia long, ‘whisking’ between ships or within (teleporting), planet-wide energy fields containing destructive star energies, ships miles long, asteroid homesteads using black holes for energy, etc.

Is it a love story? A redemption story? Is it about how Abigail came to make the Shatterlings? Is it a mystery about (mild) (spoiler) Is it about the Absence in the sky? The Machine Person? It feels like Reynolds is trying to pull of something big and can’t quitepull the threads together. It mostly feels like Tommy and Tuppance In Space.

Poor characterization + uneven plotting + weird science (and I don’t mean the 1980s kind) = barely finish.

Two stars, for a resounding ‘meh.’

Posted in Book reviews, Science fiction | Tagged | 2 Comments

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

Read October to December 2019
Recommended for people who love beautiful things
 ★     ★     ★    ★    

Ultimately, I am reminded of an elaborate, beautiful confection, perhaps this Spanische Windtorte:

From The Great British Bakeoff, Season 2

 

Elaborately constructed, lovely, sweet, best enjoyed at a particular moment, not preserved at a later date.

Similarly, A Gentleman in Moscow is filled with lovely writing about a Russian noble, pre-Revolution, who is sentenced to ‘house’-arrest in a famous Moscow hotel. Towles states, “while arriving at my hotel in Geneva (for the eighth year in a row), I recognized some of the people lingering in the lobby from the year before. It was as if they had never left. Upstairs in my room, I began playing with the idea of a novel in which a man is stuck in a grand hotel.” It is a delicious concept that is turned into the examination of a life through time.

“..not simply of momentous events, but of all the little actions and interactions that constitute our daily lives – either deliberate or spontaneous, inevitable or unforeseen.”

Interestingly, it is a different take than a typical ‘imprisonment,’ because it is not about introspection of him own life or those around him, more like a biography of someone without direct political position but whom which was close enough to be impacted by and have his own effect upon them. When I was partway through, I remarked to my mom, “now this is the sort of book we should have read to create interest in history,” but I now think I would like to retract that thought; this is like sparking interesting in history through eating a slice of Spanish Windtorte; an elaborately constructed and sweet confection that crumbles when examined too closely.

Towles confesses that most of the book was organic to a long-time love of Russian writers and artist in ‘the Golden Age’,’ and he did some ‘applied research later.  He notes, “I generally like to mix glimpses of history with flights of fancy until the reader isn’t exactly sure of what’s real and what isn’t.” There’s much to love here, but it is important to understand it’s disconnect from reality; like the cake, this is a highly specific, created view, not a grand window through time.

It is beautiful, it is hopeful, it is lacking in a driving plot, and it is, indeed, the movement of a life, so this was a book that took me weeks to read. But I didn’t mind at all; every time I picked it up, the world of Alexander Rostov became delightfully immersive. 

“But just as important, a careful accounting of days allows the isolated to note that another year of hardship has been endured; survived; bested. Whether they have found the strength to persevere through a tireless determination or some fool hearty optimism, those 365 hatch marks stand as proof of their indomitability.”

 

Posted in Book reviews | Tagged , | 5 Comments

The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin

Read December 2019
Recommended for middle school detectives
 ★     ★     ★    ★    

The Westing Game is first full-length mystery I remember reading. Well, besides Encyclopedia Brown and Nancy Drew books. But the one mystery that I could still have told you general details about the plot. It might have been the cleverness of the mystery or  it’s absence of gore. It could have been identification with the shin-kicking protagonist, nicknamed ‘Turtle.’ It could have been the clever signals of winds and atmosphere that run throughout the book. Whatever it was, Raskin’s story stayed with me for years.

Opening page:

“The sun sets in the west (just about everyone knows that), but Sunset Towers faced east. Strange!
Sunset Towers faced east and had no towers. This glittery, glassy apartment house stood alone on the Lake Michigan shore five stories high. Five empty stories high.
Then one day (it happened to be the Fourth of July), a most uncommon-looking delivery boy rode around town slipping letters under the doors of the chosen tenants-to-be. The letters were signed Barney Northrup.
The delivery boy was sixty-two years old, and there was no such person as Barney Northrup.”

It is a variation on the manor house mystery, with a very disparate group of people brought together physically. Initially, they are convinced to rent or buy units in the newly constructed Sunset Towers, a small building that has room for a coffee shop, a restaurant and a small office, perfect for further enticing the future tenants. The tenants discover they have something additional in common when they are called together for the reading of Sam Westing’s will. An isolating snowstorm ramps up the tension.

Narration is third person, which is solidly done. Initially, all the characters have aspects that make them seem flawed, or perhaps somewhat unlikable. Interestingly, however, it was probably one of the broadest casts I can remember reading: a black woman who is now a judge, who grew up poor; a Greek family, whose skin is ‘darker’ than the black woman’s (an interesting concept for a young white kid!); a Chinese family, one a recent immigrant; a couple of economically limited white guys; a suburban white family; a single white older woman dressmaker. We pop in and out of most of their heads at some point, which ends up giving the reader more insight than they each have on each other.

There’s accusations in a review or two of racism, but on adult read, I’d say that the racism is all internal to the characters, and Raskin does a solid job of showing how things a certain character might say or do regarding someone else’s race is about their own knowledge deficits. I found only a couple of moments for me that might not pass the twenty-first century sniff test: One of the characters, Chris, has some sort of unspecified physical disability that impairs movement and speech. One of the questionable moments comes up when his brother, Theo, tells someone else that they don’t need to talk to Chris like a baby, “because he’s not retarded.”

I usually avoid reading books from childhood, as I’m afraid of having precious memories tarnished. I thought The Westing Game held up well. It’s told in an omniscient third person, and tends to switch person and location fairly frequently. In the book, the switches are clearly denoted with ****, but it’s the sort of thing that probably won’t translate well to audio, unless it was done with an ensemble cast.

 I think it is definitely a YA, but in the best sense of the word. Many of the techniques it uses are great for people that are younger and haven’t figured some of this out yet; ie. a judge that still has some insecurities, or decides that she will not to compete for the prize, but to protect. The shifts in perspective and time work well for developing empathy–I think each character goes through a redemption arc, and even the one I remember disliking the most–Otis–was shown to be something other than appearance suggested. I ended up searching out a hardcover for my own library, and am glad to have it around.

Posted in Book reviews, Mystery, young adult | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Ghosts of Gotham by Craig Schaefer

  b

Read November 2019
Recommended for people with tolerance, fans of Schaefer
★   ★    1/2

Well, if I hadn’t already been well and favorably acquainted with Schaefer’s Daniel Faust series, I might have given up on this one. More specifically, I might have never have given this one a try, which probably would have been a better choice; once again, reinforcing the idea that no author is an auto-buy.

Confused? Yeah, me too. How can the author of one of my favorite series put this out? There’s some seriously clunky writing, some goofy plotting, and its a kitchen sink of world-building. In an effort to preserve eyestrain, I almost quit until suddenly the plot twisted and the pace picked up.

An intrepid reporter, Lionel Page, gets an offer he can’t refuse from an attractive and enigmatic woman. Will he go to New York to investigate a recently surfaced manuscript to see if its the real Poe? Or will he stay in Chicago and have his past exposed, probably destroying his career and his relationships? His decision is aided by a junior reporter ambushing him in hopes of an exposé. The reader, of course, is prone to be sympathetic to the object of blackmail, but can’t help wondering at the past secrets. The blackmailer seems even more threatening when the reporter turns up dead. He heads off to New York City, first time visitor, and in a cafe, runs into an attractive woman named Madison Hannah… who keeps turning up where he is. Are they after the same thing?

Narrative is third person, mostly from Lionel’s viewpoint, although there are some chapters from Madison’s as well. Madison’s backstory isn’t done well, especially when we’re in her head, and as another reader mentioned, I have trouble believing her as a centuries-old witch (could even have been a millennia).  Lionel is more believable as a dude in his thirties that is invested in his career and maintaining a decent friendship with a past girlfriend.

There’s a romance here, but to me it feels very uneven and not particularly well done. At times it seems the main focus of the story, and it certainly becomes critical later, but then there’s the whole mystery/bad-guy plot. The insta-love that turns into romance is probably believable on Lionel’s part, although I’m much, much more skeptical on Madison’s part. Interestingly, Schaefer is completely okay with hetro relationships where women are more powerful than men. That sentiment is unfortunately littered with forced analogies such as,

“He wanted to know more about her, to get closer to her, but he wasn’t gong to barge into the mansion of her heart and kick the doors down.”

Plot seemed uneven. Once Lionel makes it into a super-secret auction, the pace went crazy and supernatural elements finally made an appearance. There’s a super-hero feel to some aspects, with over-the-top villain-hood, and villains that just want to be loved and can’t help but explain themselves as they deal the non-fatal blow.

And the writing. Dear Schafer, what happened? It contains some choice phrases that almost cost me a contact and are really unexcusable for his caliber of writing:

“the pavement was rigid and firm under Lionel’s feet’
“Maddie’s eyes narrowed to slits, glinting in the half light”
“He punched the button for the lobby”
“a plum dress that clung to her body like water on a leaf”

Although I’m a big fan of Faust, I honestly didn’t think this was up to the same caliber. The world feels more erratic, the writing occasionally awkward, and the plot uneven.

Posted in Book reviews, fantasy, Urban fantasy | Tagged , | 2 Comments