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review 2018-10-08 04:10
Point of Sighs by Melissa Scott - My Thoughts
Point of Sighs - Melissa Scott

I love this series and I love the two main characters, Philip Eslingen and Nico Rathe.  I love that in this book they're getting a little more settled into their relationship.  And they've not forgotten Sunflower, the dog!  I love that Nico is a born pointsman (policeman), smart, logical, observant and so upright sometimes that it hurts!  And I love that Philip, one of the leaders of the new City Guard (a type of militia unit), is more of a running on instinct fellow, more liable to jump to the right conclusions and just sly enough to get by.  And I love that the author doesn't forget to remind us of his soldiering/cavalry roots.

The mystery this time around focusses on the water.  The weather, the river, the tunnels beneath the city. Philip is quite unlucky with water, his stars being very bad for it.  There are abductions, murders, thugs and bribery.  There are river monsters and a river spirit who is absolutely evil.  And there are some pointespeople at the Point of Sighs office that we start to get to know, mostly don't trust at the beginning but then see Rathe be Rathe and grudgingly they begin to be won over.

One thing that bugged me however, and I don't remember it being the case in previous books.  The society of Nico and Philip's world is matriarchal. No problem, I'm good with that.  But in many instances, the narrative would read something like...  oh... he was looking for a place where a woman might hide - it was every woman for herself - which is all well and good, but when the story is being told from a man's POV, it's kind of jarring for me.  Because I find myself wondering if why they're looking for a woman, if they're ONLY looking for a woman, did I miss why it's a woman.  It felt almost obnoxious to my reading ear, but maybe that's because I'm 61 years old with 55 years of reading under my belt and habits are hard to break. 

But I loved this visit to Astreiant and I truly hope there are more, 'cause I'll be there to buy them!

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review 2018-09-22 22:16
A Death at the Dionysus Club (Lynes & Mathey #2)
A Death at the Dionysus Club - Amy Griswold,Melissa Scott

This is a solid sequel to Death by Silver. There is still no steam here, and while there is some focus on Julian and Ned's relationship, this is first and foremost a mystery. Anyone looking for romance and smex will need to either look elsewhere or adequately adjust their expectations before diving into this. 

 

The mystery here had several layers to it and took awhile to untangle them all. The suspects were many, and the motivations just as numerous. It was fun following along as Ned and Julian tried to figure out what was going on, and learning more about how the magic in this world works. There's old magic, or non-conforming, now considered uncouth. And there's the new magic, or conforming magic, that's been designed to be more humane (no need for animal parts or blood, for instance). Of course, the two systems don't clash well at all, and when a particularly nasty bit of non-conforming magic starts to kill off men, it leaves Ned, Julian and Hatton in a bind on how to handle it, much less even figure out how it works and who is working it.

 

Complicating matters further, it seems that the culprit is part of the Dionysus Club, and Julian and Ned have every bit as much of an interest in keeping connections to the club and its membership away from the police investigation. They could face jail time or hanging themselves in their private inclinations become publicly known. This is not a world progressively-minded people or "as long as you're happy" platitudes, and these men have to be very careful who they trust with the truth, and even those who might know and support them - or at least be willing to turn a blind eye - aren't reckless enough to come out and say it.

 

We get to meet one of Miss Frost's friends, and more of Julian's crowd from his wilder days. Miss Barton is a hoot, and Julian didn't exactly have the best taste in men in his youth to say the least, lol. And then there's Challice, who I couldn't help feeling sorry for. 

 

This is a tightly-written book, with smart characters who are actually good at their jobs (so many books that claim their characters are the best in their fields are actually filled with rampaging idiots) and who know how to communicate with each other when they discover things the other needs to know. Fancy that! They're not as good as communicating when it comes to their relationship, but Ned and Julian find ways to do that as well, no matter how uncomfortable it might make them. 

 

This could have used another pass through by an editor, since there was some unnecessary repetition and a lot of missing words. A less misleading title wouldn't have gone amiss either.

There never is a death actually at the Dionysus Club, but I guess "Deaths of Dionysus Club Members" doesn't have the same ring to it.

(spoiler show)

But those are my only quibbles.

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url 2018-08-08 00:53
$2.99 Sale from Publisher Orbit (SF/F genre imprint of Hachette Book Group)
Jade City - Fonda Lee
Soul of the World - David Mealing
The Court of Broken Knives - Anna Smith Spark
The Fifth Ward: First Watch - Dale Lucas
Strange Practice - Vivian Shaw
The Tethered Mage - Melissa Caruso-Scott
Age of Assassins - R.J. Barker
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review 2018-07-28 21:22
Death By Silver (Lynes & Mathey #1)
Death by Silver - Amy Griswold,Melissa Scott

This was a good solid mystery set in a fantasy historical setting with a slightly steampunkish vibe. Julian Lynes is a private investigator and Ned Mathey is a metaphysician (kind of like a wizard, only magic in this world can be learned by anyone with the inclination). They're old school chums - and occasionally something more - who are called in to work a case by another old schoolmate. 

 

There are plenty of suspects and twists in the case, and while I suspected the perp early on, I couldn't figure out the how and why of it until much later. There were also plenty of other possible motivations for the other suspects, so this wasn't one of those mysteries where the perp was so obvious that it made the MCs look like idiots for not figuring it out earlier. They had to follow the clues and eliminate suspects.

 

What I liked even more than the mystery was how the author weaved in flashbacks to their school days and their bullying at the hands of the prefects to show why Julian and Ned bonded so early on. This is an author who knows how to show and not just tell. The pain of those years are still there, and it adds an extra layer of complication to the case as they have to face on of their former bullies.

 

This wasn't at all what I was expecting from this book, but that made it that much more fulfilling to read. I do wish the world-building were a little less subtle, since I felt things that made up this world could have been explained or described better, but the social aspects of the world are closer to our own in that time period.

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review 2018-07-16 00:00
The Tethered Mage
The Tethered Mage - Melissa Caruso-Scott My only regret about The Tethered Mage is that I didn't read it sooner, so I didn't nominate it for a Subjective Chaos Kind of Award. On the other hand, this has dramatically reduced the amount of time I had to wait to read the sequel!

This is instantly one of my favourite fantasies. Alt-fantasy Venice is always a draw for me, and Caruso has a fine touch for character and politics that makes this a joy. This is a book I wish I'd read when I was a teen inundated with fantasies of chosen one farmer boys, where women were flighty love interests or wicked villains; in The Tethered Mage they are independent, nuanced, competent and vibrant - without taking anything away from the men around them (even Ruven is chilling, if a bit of a pantomime villain). Throw in a page-turning plot, and I struggled to put it down.

What a delight.

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