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Paranormal Review – Rajmund

June 25th, 2015

Rajmund by D.B. Reynolds

 

Review by Cynthia F. (frazerc)

 

I liked the first book (Raphael) and I like this one even better. Rajmund was a ‘warmer’ person than Raphael but certainly not a teddy bear. Just as alpha but less powerful than Raphael, he is still a power to be reckoned with.

The setup was interesting with converging plot lines for both the hero and the heroine. Sarah is a human friend of Cyn’s (Raphael’s mate from books one and two) who has left sunny California for a teaching position in a Buffalo, New York university. And if teaching freshman history surrounded by cold, snow and ice isn’t bad enough; her psychic ability to channel traumatized women comes screaming back. She can’t tell anyone, who would believe her? But she has to do something, it’s all happening again…

Cyn, who doesn’t know about the psychic stuff or her past, still recognizes her friend is depressed and unhappy. She talks Raphael into taking her to New York where she and Sarah can meet and have some ‘girl time’.

Raphael uses the excuse to meet with Rajmund, the vampire in charge of New York City, about a growing problem and imminent power struggle in the Vampire Council. Raj meets Sarah and they are both attracted but each move on to their separate lives. That’s until they end up working on finding the missing girls together and the sexual tension begins to build…

There’s a lot of wit in this one and less angst.  I loved quotes like Cyn’s answer when asked about the weather in California: “It’s raining, which means the natives are convinced the end is near and are engaged in ritual auto pileups in an attempt to appease the angry gods.” (Having grown up in California, all too true!)

The Sarah and Raj plot lines resolve nicely. My only complaint? There’s a cliff-hanger teaser masquerading as an epilogue…

 

Jabril (Vampires in America, #2)

Rajmund (Vampires in America, #3)

Sophia (Vampires in America, #4)

Duncan (Vampires in America, #5)

Vampires in America The Vignettes, Volume 1 (Vampires in America, #1)

 

 

 

Mystery Monday – Grave Descend

June 22nd, 2015

Grave Descend by Michael Crichton, writing as John Lange

 

Review by Matt B. (BuffaloSavage)

 

Semi-broken down Marine combat veteran is hired to dive and salvage a sunken luxury yacht in waters off Jamaica. The yacht reportedly went down the day before due to unknown causes. The employer seems cagey about what exactly will be found on the yacht.

But ominous signs – like seeing the yacht deliberately blown up in front of his eyes – make our hero smell a rat. He realizes that he is being played for a fool, fall guy, or murder victim by very rich, very cunning villains.

All in all, this is an ordinary pulp thriller with rapid-fire action and violence. Plus, we have characters with bounteous curves, one of whom keeps two ocelots, named Fiona and Fido. Fido provides the only comic relief in the book, while they both feature in the climax.

The prose reminded me of Erle Stanley Gardner, since description and characterization were kept to a bare minimum.

“In the distance, he could see blue water, with waves breaking across the inner reefs, and hotels lining the beachfront.”

What more could a fan of bare-bone punch ask? Putting vapid characters through lots of twists and turns does have entertainment value, especially when we don’t feel up to reading something more challenging but perhaps less entertaining. Back in 1970, this novel was nominated for an Edgar Award, which must have tickled then-med student Crichton.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mystery Monday – A Question of Proof

June 15th, 2015

A Question of Proof by Nicholas Blake

Review by Matt B. (BuffaloSavage)

This straightforward mystery from 1935 premiers PI Nigel Strangeways. Strangeways’ ability to charm while he grills people calls to mind Lord Peter, but without the fatuous dottiness, mercifully. His penchant for drinking tea all day long identified him, for those in the know at the time, with poet W.H. Auden.

Set in an English prep school, the story offers fertile ground for a realistic examination of a closed society within a closed society. That is, the masters (teachers) circle the wagons when parents are around. The boys form their own secret society to raise hell and enforce conformity. As teenage boys are still wont to do, they coin their own slang terms for misfits and deviants, such as “oick” and “chivver.” Cecil Day Lewis (his real name) has clearly drawn from his year-long experience teaching at Summer Fields, a prep school in Oxford, so we readers can’t expect more authority on this score.

Lewis/Blake knew his audience required a higher level of literacy and reasoning so he peppers his text with Latin and French tags that drive us to the web for translations, not to mention allusions to the Bard and the Greek classics. This is not a thriller like Smiler With A Knife nor is it as relentless as The Beast Within. I found the most likeable characters to be the boys, who are presented with a realistic mixture of naïve openness to and alert mistrust of the adult world.

Malcolm Noble, an expert on vintage mysteries says that in this novel, Blake shows that it is possible to write an effective detective story within the conventions of vintage mysteries, without overplaying social comment or abnormal psychology. I say, that the psychological explanation of the perp’s motivation is so inane and improbable that Blake meant it to be a parody of the psychological reveal.

Highly recommended for fans of Golden Era mysteries. In Twelve Englishmen of Mystery, Earl F. Bargainnier says this novel was written because Blake couldn’t think up any other way to make a hundred pounds to pay for a leaking roof without attracting the attention of the police. So, necessity really is the mother of invention. And a 15-book series starring a memorable detective.

 

 

 

 

Thriller Review – The Savage Dead

June 11th, 2015

The Savage Dead by Joe McKinney

 

Review by Kelsey O.

 

A Mexican drug cartel hell bent on assassinating Senator Sutton for her unwavering war against them unleashes a deadly bacteria on the cruise ship she is on. This bacteria turns the humans into ravenous carnivores destroying all in their path. For those that aren’t affected they must fight for survival among the many undead. Juan Perez, former Delta Force and current secret service, must use his training to keep the few left alive. With the help of several other interesting characters such as Tess, another secret service agent, they begin to wage their battle only to find that not only are the fighting the undead but they are battling an assassin named Pilar and have to stop all this before they land in the U.S.

It has been awhile since I’ve enjoyed a straight up zombie book. With a bit of a twist Joe McKinney puts the reader in a state of panic along with the survivors. From the very beginning the reader is drawn into each character. The plot is laid out cleverly making it a fast past storyline.

Zombie fans will not be disappointed and as a first time Joe McKinney reader I will definitely not hesitate to pick up another great thriller by him.

Rating: 4 BUTTERFLIES

 

 

Mystery Monday – Bones of Contention

June 8th, 2015

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Bones of Contention by Edward Candy

 

Review by Matt B. (BuffaloSavage)

The Director of London’s Museum of Pathological Conditions in Childhood, a Mr. Murivance, is dumb-founded by the unexpected arrival of a female skeleton in a steamer trunk. A few days later, he is found dead, apparently of natural causes but the exact cause of death cannot be solidly determined.

Some days after that one of his colleagues, Miles Latimer, is shoved through a rickety balustrade. He wakes up to find himself trapped in a private nursing home run by his would-be murderer. The attempted killer is keeping him doped up to stave off his remembering what really happened.

This inverted mystery could be counted as either an academic mystery or a mystery involving doctors and nurses. Adding suspense are the trusty standbys of “doctor gone off the rails” and “kept prisoner in a hospital” not to mention both “old-school deference to authority” and “experienced nurse smells something fishy.” Not to mention, “concerned friends and allies” and “loyal fiancée.”

I highly recommend this one. Like Edmund Crispin but not as silly, more like a lighter Michael Innes, if that can be imagined. This 1954 novel is like early P.D. James, given the medical settings too. I didn’t get some of the differences in medical customs, such as why surgeons are “Mr.,” not “Dr.” But that didn’t stop me from enjoying the highly literate and witty prose.

Edward Candy is the pseudonym of Barbara Alison Neville (1925-1993). She was born in London and educated in Hampstead and University College, and later earned a medical degree. She practiced medicine and had a family of five children while writing about a dozen books, three of which are medical mysteries, this one, Which Doctor and Words for Murder, Perhaps.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Author Spotlight – Georgette Heyer

June 2nd, 2015

Georgette Heyer Author Spotlight by Charlie M. (bookaddicted)

Are you a fan of Agatha Christie mysteries? Discover another author very similar to her in Georgette Heyer. Georgette Heyer, you say? Didn’t she write Regency romances and historical novels? Yes, and those are probably what she is best known for authoring. But, Heyer also wrote a dozen very engaging mystery novels.

Four of the books feature Police Superintendent Hannasyde Death in the Stocks, Behold, Here’s Poison, They Found Him Dead & A Blunt Instrument.

 

Four feature Inspector Hemingway, Hannasyde’s subordinate No Wind of Blame, Envious Casca, Duplicate Death & Detection Unlimited.


The final four are stand-alones: Footsteps in the Dark, Why Shoot a Butler?, The Unfinished Clue & Penhallow.

 

Heyer’s books are classic English country house mysteries and it is said her barrister husband, Reginald Rougier, provided many of the plots for the detective novels.

 

Most of the mysteries were written in the 1930′s – early 1940′s and the characters are engaging and the plot twists inventive. Heyer’s mysteries was praised “for their wit and comedy as well as for their well-woven plots”. (critic Nancy Wingate)

 

If you have not had the pleasure of settling in with one of Heyer’s mystery novels, don’t wait. They will most likely become new favorites.

 

Mystery Monday – According to the Evidence

June 1st, 2015

According to the Evidence by Henry Cecil

Review by Matt B. (BuffaloSavage)

“It is better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer,” goes the formulation by the English jurist William Blackstone. But in this 1954 novel, due to a lack of evidence a serial killer is acquitted, and goes on to kill not one but two women. An ex-commando, Alec Morland, takes the law into own hands and dispatches the serial killer over the edge of a cliff.

The evidence tying Morland to the murder is tenuous, but Morland’s fiancé Jill worries that suspicion will never be dispelled and thus blight their family life. She asks con man turned stockbroker Ambrose Low to figure out a way to get Morland to trial and get him acquitted. Low turns to witness tampering (interfering, in British English), which blows up in his face.

Henry Cecil was a barrister and high court judge himself so his views on evidence, judges, juries, lawyers, and clients are worth listening to. His legal fiction from the Fifites and Sixties is still in print, because his wit, style, intelligence, and deft plotting still provide much interest and sheer reading pleasure. The writing is lucid, simplified for the lay reader, but we never feel condescended to.

While this is not a typical whodunit, I still recommend it to mystery fans. Cecil’s humor is very English, wise, and humane. He uses Wodehousian characters such a dim-witted colonel to delightful effect, putting them in situations designed to exploit all comic potential.