Friday, September 30, 2011
Paranormal sleuth Corey Shaw is enjoying vacation with his family in the Baltic Sea when terrorists bomb restaurants hosting World Cup parties in London and Copenhagen. On each occasion the explosion coincides with the cruise ship leaving port. Although the United States isn’t attacked directly, Corey and his colleagues are unavoidably drawn into the investigation with or without the blessing of international intelligence agencies. When a third bomb goes off in St. Petersburg, Russia, Corey is convinced the answer lies aboard his ship.
Corey is torn between a vacation with his family, his burgeoning attraction to handsome dancer, Raul and solving the mystery behind the series of explosions. Can he protect the ones he loves and identify the terrorist before an even greater tragedy occurs?
He must use all his psionic abilities to protect his family, and his friends, and keep the world safe from this worrying upsurge in international terrorism
Thursday, September 29, 2011
One great aspect of The Wolves of Savernake by Edward Marston is the stark differences in the main characters and how these opposites provide humor and wit to this mystery. This is the first novel in Marston’s Domesday Book series featuring Gervase Bret, the young lawyer, and the former knight Ralph Delchard.
The Domesday Book is a record of the survey conducted of much of England and Wales by order of William I (William the Conqueror). In Wolves, Gervase and Ralph are summoned to the forest village of Bedwyn by a miller who is viciously attacked and killed on the eve of their arrival. They find the town in a near-panic that a wolf is on the loose in the Savernake forest. The presence of the king’s men does nothing to help. The townspeople are distrusting of the men who may levy more taxes on them, even though they’re already stretched beyond their meager means.
The cool-headed Gervase and the fiery-tempered Ralph combine their diverse talents to delve through documents and charters to uncover the claim on some land the miller made prior to his death. It was this claim that brought Gervase and Ralph to Bedwyn. Another powerful man in the town and the local abbey also present claims to the parcel of land. Ownership of the land means income for the owner from rent of those living there.
While Gervase tries to determine which, if any, of the charters are genuine, Ralph pursues the beautiful wife of the town’s reeve, who is out of town on business. Someone is distributing counterfeit coins. Gervase strikes up a friendship with a young noviate in the abbey and a second man is killed by the same phantom wolf.
The novel is an interesting look at the mindset of England not long after the Conquest of 1066. It was a time of upheaval after William I came to power and the populace still had many harsh feelings toward the monarch. Sometimes it gets difficult to keep track of who’s Norman, Saxon or neither and who was wronged by whom. That hostility and disrespect extended to the king’s men.
The Wolves of Savernake also made me wonder and marvel at the record-keeping practices of a time over 900 years ago, before the invention of the Gutenburg press when copies were made by hand, usually in abbeys and monasteries. From reading Marston’s book, record keeping was not easy but there was an effective process in place at least during William I’s reign in the later years of the eleventh century.
The novel has some very interesting developments and surprises as Gervase and Ralph uncover the truth behind the attacks, the forgery, the counterfeiting and finally who actually owns the land under dispute. That’s what whets the reader’s appetite for more of the Domesday series.
The vivid details that Michael Jecks uses to describe the daily conditions of the small village of Crediton in fourteenth century England are real enough the reader can almost smell the odors of the open sewage trench running though the middle of the main street and the animal guts and excrement thrown out into the open from the butcher’s shop.
In The Crediton Killings, the fourth in the series featuring Keeper of the King’s Peace Sir Baldwin Furnshill and Bailiff Simon Puttock, a team of mercenaries has descended upon the town after being turned down by King Edward II to join his army. While the disgruntled soldiers of fortune cool their heels at a local inn, a serving girl has her eye on their leader, Sir Hector, and a newbie wants to join the band of mercenaries. Soon after the newbie disappears at the same time Hector’s silver goes missing and the serving girl is found murdered.
Hector and his closest lieutenant’s think the solution is simple when the newbie is found with some of the missing silver. Baldwin isn’t so certain. After a beggar woman is found murdered, he feels that someone is trying to manipulate him into a false conclusion.
During all this, Simon and his wife are reeling from the recent loss of their infant son Peterkin. Their grief puts a strain on their marriage and Baldwin feels helpless that he can’t help his closest friend.
Another reason I like medieval mysteries is the complex and deliciously twisted plots that cant’ be pulled from today’s headlines. Jecks pulls from fourteenth century culture, politics and public mindset to weave an intricate mystery with surprising twists even after the final solution.
The Crediton Killings is a great read even for those who aren’t fans of mysteries.
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Alys Clare’s fifth Hawkenlye mystery with Josse d’Acquin and Abbess Helewise, The Faithful Dead, takes a walk on the strange side. Clare has introduced some interesting characters in the forest people that inhabit the woods around Hawkenlye Abbey and they give a bizarre element to the stories. But in this novel, Clare mixes a little bit of the supernatural with a touch of magic.
Much of the book takes place in the past (prior to the events in the novel) and focuses on Josse’s father Geoffroi and his adventures in the Crusades in the Holy Land. After saving the young son of a powerful Muslim, Geoffroi is given the Eye of Jerusalem, a large sapphire set in gold that has arcane powers. Geoffroi puts the jewel to the test and it surpasses his expectations.
He finally returns home with a friend known as the Lombard, but keeps the jewel hidden. He uses its power once to save the brother of his beloved doesn’t disclose its presence to anyone. After the Lombard has returned to his home, Geoffroi realizes the jewel is missing.
Years later, Josse receives a visit from Prince John, who gives the knight a cryptic reason for seeking him out. The prince asks the whereabouts of a man Josse has never heard of. After the royal departs, Josse travels to Hawkenlye Abbey to enquire if the man had sought out its healing waters, as many travelers do. He learns plenty from the monks and the nuns but it’s only when his brother Yves arrives unannounced, that the clues start to come together. The reason his younger brother made his way across the Channel to seek out Josse is directly connected to a mysterious death six weeks prior near the abbey.
In addition to the strange powers of the Eye of Jerusalem, another character brings an mysterious twist to the work; a seer in the service of Prince John. He appears to have precognition among his many powers. And he’s not the only one.
Sometimes The Faithful Dead reads more like science fiction/fantasy. Not that there is anything wrong with that. It’s just not expected in a medieval mystery. It seems to put Abbess Helewise in an awkward stage of character development. Some of the strange aspects of magic and the supernatural, she accepts but others she dismisses. It’s confusing at times. Josse seems to accept everything for what he’s told.
I enjoy Clare’s Hawkenlye series but I hope they take a step back from the edge of strange.
I was serious when I mentioned in my review of The Bishop’s Tale that I couldn’t wait to read the next Margaret Frazer novel. So I picked up The Boy’s Tale devoured it, for a second time. It was as exciting as the first time I read it.
Dame Frevisse is a captivating sleuth, humble and unassuming, yet intelligent and sharp witted. She can lock horns with the best of them: bishops, duchesses and know-it-all crowners.
In The Bishop’s Tale, Frazer introduced us to medieval medical literature as Frevisse searched for poisons. In The Boy’s Tale, she portrays the intrigues and scandals of Henry VI’s court. The young king’s mother has remarried in secret, without the approval of the regents in charge of Henry. More than that, she has had children by her new husband.
The king’s half-brothers are in jeopardy by those who would control them and, through them, the king. For their safety, the Queen Mother sends them off on a journey to Wales as fast as they can travel. The first part of the book is told from the young boys’ perspective, the excitement of traveling to far away lands; the confusion and frustration of riding for days while avoiding towns and well-traveled roads; and the horror of losing favorite servants in an ambush. Their governess, a young maidservant and the boys barely manage to reach the safety of St. Frideswide Priory.
Dame Frevisse recognizes the governess, Lady Maryon, from an experience several years before. Although she distrusts Maryon, she understands the boys need sanctuary.
Especially after attempts on the boys’ lives are made outside the cloister. Fully aware of the situation, Frevisse wonders what will happen to the priory if it is learned the boys are there. She’s managed to keep their identity a secret to everyone except Domina Edith, the aging, dying prioress.
There was never a shortage of political intrigue in any court of the English kings and queens, and from what I understand Henry VI was no exception. Frazer weaves a terrific story around the controversy and the danger to the king’s half-brothers as people risk their lives to deliver the boys to Wales where they will be safe with their father’s family. The interesting thing about the situation is that the boys have no claim to the English throne. Through their father, however, they have a strong claim to the French throne.
I enjoy the way Frazer can intertwine fifteenth century politics with the culture of the period in The Boy’s Tale. It brings the series to a whole new level.
Friday, September 16, 2011
I had the pleasure of reading Cornerstone Deep while in its draft form. Now in its final form, it is even more enjoyable. Cornerstone Deep reads as a science fiction/fantasy – romance, two genres that usually aren’t found together but Charlene A. Wilson makes them work.
Cornerstone Deep is a mythical realm ruled by lords and guarded by three wizard brothers: Cole, James and Vincent Shilo. Only the lords know of the brothers’ wizardry; the rest of the city knows them only as the founders’ sons.
They’re immortal but unfortunately their women aren’t. They have to ‘relocate their soulmate after she has been reincarnated. They will seek out her soul from lifetime to lifetime.
Sometimes they aren’t successful. Cole has given up hope of finding his beloved Mianna until they ‘harvest’ a curfew-breaker for one of the lords. He cannot ignore the calling of her soul to his even though now she is the property and under the control of Lord Dressen.
How can Cole rescue her without angering the Council of the Lords and the gods of this realm?
Wilson has a keen eye for detail and gives the planet /dimension Meridian, the setting for Cornerstone Deep, plenty of vivid details. She has created a beautiful world in which magic is powerful but has boundaries.
Love, however, has no boundaries. That is the underlying theme of Cornerstone Deep. Nothing can separate two people in love, not even the barriers of different dimensions in space.
Everything is tied up nicely at the end of Book 1, but Wilson does leave opportunities open for more excitement in Book 2. She has a knack for whetting the readers’ appetite for more. I’m glad because Cole, James and Vincent are certainly characters you want to see more of.
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
Despite Rex being head coach of the Jets and Rob being defensive coordinator of the Cowboys, Buddy is still the center of attention.
The Jets Flight Crew.
The Jets Flight Crew.
Laura Young, NFL Head Coach assistant extraordinaire!
LaDanian Tomlinson, Running Back Extraordinaire!
Derrick Mason, Wide Receiver Extraordinaire!
Mark Sanchez, Quarterback Extraordinaire!
Rob Ryan on the Cowboys sideline.
Robert DeNiro broadcast live from Ground Zero in NYC for the pregame festivities.
A soldier played 'Taps' from Ground Zero.
A gigundo flag covered the entire field!
Lady Antebellum sang the National Anthem.
A wounded soldier was honored during the game for his acts of bravery.
The stadium lights were turned off during the Halftime celebrations.
A tribute to the World Twin Trade Centers by the children of 9/11 survivors.
The Twin Towers of Light.
Country Western Singer Extraordinaire Toby Keith and NY Jets Cheerleaders.
Our last day in California, we drove through the Joshua Tree National Park.
Fuzzy and some very large rocks.
The higher desert, the Mojave, has more rain and therefore more Joshua trees than the lower, drier desert, the Colorado.