Merriam-Webster defines mojo as: “a power that may seem magical and that allows someone to be very effective, successful, etc.” Bad Mojo is certainly something Marcus suffers from during the three days that we walk with him.
“The cards were screaming at him to hop a plane to anywhere else … Right now they told him to change his fucking direction and fast.”
But Marcus’ father is dying. If not for that, he would have stayed away from his dysfunctional family another ten years. His mom and dad are conservative Christians, his cousin is a blood-bag to a vampire and his sister (who begged him to come home) keeps away from Marcus. He is thought, by his family, to be dirty and evil because he practices magic.
Marcus’ relatives aren’t the only dysfunctional people we meet. Old friends try to mess with him, and some of their requests are pretty unfriendly. All, in all, the tarot cards seem to have been correct, this time, in their predictions.
Scott McCoskey has written about a mess of a person and done it in a manner that I enjoyed. This is a self-published book and there were flaws, but McCoskey’s style makes up for that. Bad Mojo Blues is a fun crime-filled novella set in an unnamed small town in South-West New Mexico.
Alan Scott has written a wonderfully funny and dark story about murder and mayhem.
I suppose it could be read as a warning about the consequences of training our soldiers too well. The thought did not enter my mind until the classroom situation. But, yeah, that could work.
A man with his own brand of conscience and his pet hamster, TF. A killer with a pet hamster. Not much like the hamster I used to own and adore. SCoT-01 is a fun and terrifying person I would hope to always keep on my side. His hamster, too.
My introduction to John Meaney came through the Nulapeiron series with the book Paradox. I was blown away by the quality of the writing. Then I placed the novel on my shelf and sort of forgot about it (I read a lot). Through my library Bone Song came to my attention. Talk about pleasant reunion with an author. This reminder led to the purchase of the remainder of the Nulapeiron Sequence and the later continuation of Tristopolis with Dark Blood.
John Meaney writes a mean book, a novel that draws me into its lair waiting to be consumed by it. And I was. Bone Song was incredibly difficult to put down. Meaney’s description of Tristopolis is beguiling and dark. Atmosphere and personalities light up like a beacon in my mind.
Considering the title of my blog Bone Song is the perfect first novel to review. In it we find the darker side of humanity described in a manner that shows us the lure of power – power-hunger – power-addiction and the concept that some people are more equal than others.
Bone Song is the first book in the Tristopolis series. Tristopolis is the city of Lieutenant Donal Riordan, the good guy in this plot. It is also a city where the dead are sent to give energy to the generators that keep the city running. Zombies, wraiths and gargoyles are only some the races inhabiting this world along with humans, and Donal manages to interact and make friends with them all.
Bone Song is supposedly a horror book but I’m not sure I agree with that assessment. It’s certainly a dark enough world, but it seems bleak rather than horrifying and creepy.
Donal has been assigned to protect an exceptional opera singer who the authorities suspect is on the hit-list of a mysterious serial killer. The job does not go well. Donal gets drawn into a world of deception and betrayal, a world where he has to find someone hidden by powerful connections.
There is murder and mayhem, but Donal shines like a beacon in this book. He’ll kill and maim if he has to, but he’d prefer it if he didn’t. His opponents (mysterious as they are) are quite different. “The end justifies the means” seems to be their motto. This does seem to be the motto of power-addicted people.
My sweet sister-in-law (she is a really nice lady, book or no book) gave me a copy of The Cuckoo’s Calling in Norwegian. The Norwegian title is Når Gjøken Galer. Therefore, my first comment goes to the translation. Heidi Grinde did an excellent job.
Robert Galbraith’s chances of falling from the heights of my expectations were huge. But you know, this is English mystery at its best. If you are a fan of the kind of mystery with little violence, little sex, tricks to fool the reader (both worked and did not work with me) and an explanation by the detective in the best of Christie tradition, then this is the book for you. I am one of those fans.
Strike (Cormoran Strike) is NOT anything like a James Bond character. Nor is he one of the bitter, cynical or alcoholic detectives that come and go in the fashions of writing. Instead I found Strike to be a likable hairy bear who was smart yet not a genius. His experiences as an investigator with the military police in Afghanistan had given him both the insight necessary for the work of a private investigator and a prosthesis (lower leg). He is huge, hairy, and a bit over-weight (result of processing loss of leg). He has also just dumped his off-on fiancè and is waiting for her to get her revenge.
In this manner I guess we could lob Cormoran Strike in with the beleaguered type of detective who has plenty on his plate already. Strike’s business isn’t a roaring success and payment on the loan from his famous but seldom seen birth-father is due. Galbraith is stacking the odds against him in great author tradition without making Strike a ridiculous figure.
Robin Ellacott is Strike’s temporary assistant. They get off to a rocky start but Robin’s intelligent handling of both the assignments Strike gives her and her handling of the clients causes Strike to want to keep her on – if only he had the financial stability to do so. Robin has fun being a detective’s assistant. She does feel unappreciated at times but that is always the role of Watson or Hastings. Fortunately for her, Strike is neither a sociopath as Sherlock or full of himself like Poirot. Both Strike and Ellacott do bring their prejudices to the WORKING relationship causing interesting interactions.
I enjoyed the way both Robin and Carmoran became more comfortable with themselves and each other. No romance though – strictly working relationship.
The plot itself is as old as humanity – is my guess. Wanting what the other person has and a willingness to do anything to obtain it. It is strange, yet comforting, how people tend to tell the exact same stories all over the world and up through known history. In my experience, it seems the only thing that ever differs is the window-dressing. The window-dressing is the truly fun part, the part that enables me to explore words and talent. Authors are such a gift to society.
There is a reason I love Wen Spencer’s writing. Her characters are all odd-balls trying to fit in with the rest of the world. Some are more successful than others. Having pretty much grown up in mental institutions ensures that Nikki is going to have a harder time of it than most people. Having an obsessive compulsive disorder called hypergraphia isn’t helping Nikki fit in.
The driving compulsion to write; the overwhelming urge to write. Hypergraphia may compel someone to keep a voluminous journal, to jot off frequent letters to the editor, to write on toilet paper if nothing else is available, and perhaps even to compile a dictionary. Hypergraphia is the opposite of writer’s block.
The way Wen Spencer describes Nikki’s writing compulsion is pretty intense. At one point Nikki tells us that she would even use her own blood to write if the urge became too strong. Wow! That is some disorder to have.
For some weird reason, quoting law to some policemen was like hitting Superman with kryptonite. They just couldn’t cope with material from their home planet. (p. 1)
When Nikki’s mom drags along a police officer to have Nikki interred in a mental institution, quoting law to the police officer is one of the tools Nikki uses to get away. She does get away to Japan on a roller-coaster ride of gods, goddesses, super-natural creatures (like tanuki) and new friends.
But first things have to be resolved with the police officer and Nikki’s mom.
All mom’s are nuts, but some moms are crazier than others. While Nikki certainly has a pronounced form of OCD her obsession is fairly easy to satisfy. All her mom had to do was make certain that Nikki had the writing implements she needed. Being a Senator from a wealthy family (in the US that goes without saying) would also give Nikki’s mom the finances to make certain Nikki could get her education and help her with her obsession at the same time. That means that either Nikki’s mom is insane or maybe there is some other reason for Nikki being placed in a mental institution than the one Nikki thinks is true.
The blurb kind of gives the answer to that. Hah, hah – one of the many reasons I seldom include the blurb in my reviews.
When Nikki discovers that perhaps there is more to her hypergraphia than insanity, she is filled with relief and despair. Her relief is obviously from understanding that she isn’t nuts (well, not only nuts). The despair comes from realising that her horror stories are real, real, real.
What would it be like to realise that the story you had written about a person being killed by a blender was for real? It’s not the most common method of killing a person and to have that person be killed in the exact manner you had written – well that would freak me out. Then imagine finding out that the gods, goddesses and mythical creatures in Japan were real, and wanted something from you. Nikki freaking out is an understandable reaction. She does, but not in a major manner. In fact, her experiences with getting away from her mom’s attempts to get her into mental institutions serve her well in adjusting to her new reality.
“Eight Million Gods” was a fun story. There is an element of romance, but it doesn’t dominate the tale. Instead, we get loads of action, murder and mayhem. In other words, my kind of fantasy story.
Dreamer is the title of a series of short-stories/novellas beginning with A Bit(e) of Discretion, Please.
If you are going to be naughty in this world of ours (with a few super-naturals added to it), you had better make certain you do not attract the authorities. Stuart did and he who was once a Prince of Dreaming now has his powers for mischief limited. As if that wasn’t bad enough Stuart also has to do community service in the form of catching other breakers of human rules with what seems to be a girl (Mei Lin the spiritualist) as his partner. But as long as the tea is good Stuart manages fairly well.
T.A. Miles gives us a humourous look at scoundrels and their baby-sitters, baby-sitters whose patience is sorely tried at times. We also get a look at characters who think themselves devious but who are fooled themselves instead. Dreamer is indeed a light-hearted and enjoyable read.
Draw One in the Dark made me think about what it must be like to be a foster-kid and a homeless kid in the US. I haven’t been a foster-kid anywhere. Nor have I worked with foster-children and am therefore unqualified to speak about its reality. But I have wondered what it must be like. That and being homeless. I’ve read books and articles about both but that doesn’t show me the way the minds of people who have been in the foster-system and living on the street work. How would this affect a person’s ability to deal with situations? Let’s say you throw in being a shape-shifter on top of that. And on top of that you aren’t really sure if you are a shape-shifter or if you are just having psychotic episodes that leave you covered in blood every once in a while.
This is the point that Kyrie Smith and Tom Ormson are both at when Draw One in the Dark begins. Some months after meeting each other they both receive revelations about their nature and are thrown together into one dangerous situation after the other. This means that life becomes even more chaotic for the two of them but they soldier on as best they can.
That tells me something about resilience. For regular people soldiering on can be difficult enough but for kids with an atypical background soldiering on must be even more of a struggle.
To my way of thinking Draw One in the Dark is partly about resilience and partly about bravery. It is also about messed up people making messed up decisions and living with the consequences of those. Trying to make amends as best we can is one of life’s major lessons. What has been done can never be fixed, but maybe/hopefully some of the pain we inflict can be lessened.
Draw One in the Dark is an easy to read young adult urban fantasy novel that is of pretty average quality. But it spoke to me and helped me clear up a couple of things in my head. Oh, and I really liked the cover art (roar, my name is dragon).
What we have in Dead(ish) is an example of a nutty Aussie author bent on making her readers laugh. Talk about insane mystery and vindictive murder victim. I have to say that this is one case of getting back at your murderer.
Our main characters are Mike: the murderer, Linda: the murderee and Trent: the detective. Linda, the ghost, hires Trent, the detective, to find out where Mike, her killer, has hidden her body. During that process Trent gets to hear both sides of the story and what a sordid tale it is.
This is what I love about fantasy and science fiction: there is always a chance of getting to hear a story from both sides – even if the story is murder.
Pastworld is a Young Adult dystopian, steam-punkish and semi-violent look at what could happen when the future is so bored with itself it seeks relief in pretending to travel to the past. Pastworld is the creation of such a future.
Not all participants know that it is all pretense. Eve is one such character. One of our main mysteries in Pastworld is the reason for Eve’s short memory. Why does she only remember events from the past two years? Why is she being kept hidden in Pastworld? Why does her protector/jailer/friend Jack get killed while keeping her from public attention? These are all questions that are answered.
Eve is 17 years old. I’m trying to remember what it was like to be 17 and decide if Eve is a proper representative of a Victorian 17-year-old young woman with an apparent memory loss. I have a couple of biographies to lean on (not the memory loss part). Girls of a certain class were pretty sheltered back in the day. They were not allowed to go anywhere without a chaperone. Accepted interests beyond home and family were nature. Education was so, so. They were taught how to read, some maths, etiquette, embroidery, housekeeping and painting. I guess with that as a guide, Eve was kind of representative for that group.
When Jack gets more and more eccentric after a mysterious person comes sniffing after Eve, Eve runs for her life. Quite stereotypically she decides that the circus must be the place to go. And she does – Jago’s Acclaimed Pandemonium Show.
In Buckland Corp. Comm. Center Sgt Charles Catchpole becomes aware that something is afoot in Pastworld. A murderer has returned (the Phantom), one who leaves his victims dismembered and sometimes headless. One can certainly see how this would keep his minions in line and whet the appetite of the Scotland Yard.
Much of what we see in Ian Beck’s novel seems probable. 2048 is in 35 years and quite a bit could happen in that time. We already have plenty of theme parks around the world. Making a city into one might not be the stretch I would like to think it is.
There is a timeline for Dalglish’ books. You can find it on his website. However, that does not mean you have to read the books in that order. I haven’t.
David Dalglish has created a world called Drezel. Once upon a time the brothers Ashhur and Karak came to Drezel and ended up representing dark/chaos/death and light/order/life. They are godlike-creatures who have been cast from the planet and acquired followers. Like many brothers out there Ashhur and Karak fight. Unfortunately that usually involves getting their followers to fight each other.
The Weight of Blood is a dark story, one of death and destruction. The Half-Orc brothers Harruq and Qurrah Tun are responsible for quite a bit of that destruction. These two brothers seem very different yet Harruq would do just about anything for Qurrah, even if it means killing children or friends. What Qurrah will discover in The Weight of Blood is just how far he can drive his brother. Because one thing is for sure, Qurrah manipulates his brother. In spite of this, the brothers have great love for each other.
Dalglish writes dark fantasy well. His characters are complex and loveable (in spite of their deeds). Life isn’t a matter of black and white in Dalglish’s litterary world. Instead we get shades of grey that mirror real life.
Commissario Guido Brunetti is once again out to catch his criminal in “Beastly Things“. The Brunetti series is quite extensive and follows Guido over several years. Leon has managed to maintain a good standard of writing throughout the whole series. “Beastly Things” is a good example of the quality of her work.
Some mystery writers seem to wallow in gore and violence. Leon is NOT one of these. We are made to work for the answers to her riddle. In addition we follow the private life of Brunetti and see his development over quite a few years. The Italian (Venetian) society is revealed in all its glory and corruption.
I like the way Leon has managed to write such an interesting character and maintained my interest over the years.
I like mysteries. Anything from Agatha Christie to Richard Morgan. They’re all the same, in a sense. Some crime happens and the detective (police or private) comes on the scene and (usually) miraculously solves the crime. The route from A to B varies, but in essence they’re all the same. That’s why they’re so fun.
Add mystery to cyber-punk. Cyber-punk tends to be cynical and dark. Altered Carbon sticks to that kind of tone. Maybe the whole concept of having our personalities stored and ready to be placed into new bodies is a theme that lends itself to exploitation and conflict. Imagine what a person holding immense power, such as the leader of a mega-corporation, could do with access to both bodies and personalities. The lure of power is what keeps the “baddie” of Altered Carbon doing their terrible deeds.
When Takeshi Kovacs, former United Nations Envoy and a native of Harlan’s World, is killed on Harlan’s World (humans now live on various planets in our galaxy) his personality is beamed from Harlan to Old Earth (good old Terra) for a mission where his only choice is do or die (or even do and die).
There he is expected to solve the mystery of what really happened to Laurens Bancroft. Laurens Bancroft is a Meth (Methusalem from the Old Testament). As the name indicates, Mehts live an incredibly long time through resleeving their personality into new bodies. Imagine living like that and the effects time would have upon you. I imagine that in order to choose such a path and to stay on it for centuries you would have to be somewhat of a psychopath. Otherwise you would probably go insane from every one else around you dying. Insane or not Mr. Bancroft’s death has the verdict of suicide. The reason Kovacs has been revived is due to disagreement about the verdict. Here we arrive at the who-dun-it.
Takeshi Kovacs is an enjoyable character. His past haunts him and being in a new body takes some getting used to. There is explicitness in Altered Carbon. I don’t mind that, but then I am 49 years old and not 15.
I like that Mr. Morgan has kept Kovacs alive past Altered Carbon. He is a character well worth knowing – complicated.