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review 2017-09-20 09:47
A Cast of Vultures (Samantha Clair, #3)
A Cast of Vultures - Judith Flanders

Flanders delivers again - with the exception of one scene that asked too much suspension of disbelief, I had a great time with this book.


Helping a neighbour check on her missing friend, Sam is sucked into a well-intentioned case of B&E, but when that friend turns up dead in an arson-related house fire down the street, Sam can't resist wondering: how does a man who worked with at risk boys, dined with elderly neighbours, and helped squatters negotiate the law end up setting fires and selling drugs?


The mystery surrounding all of this is deliciously complex, and even though I correctly picked out the guilty party early, I had no earthly idea why that person was guilty (sometimes it's obvious by the story's construction - the dog that doesn't bark, so to speak), and finding out was fun and a little bit... if not surprising, interesting.  And a little bit sad.  


Most of all, I love the scenes that are played out in the publishing house Sam works for - the politics of the job, the editing process (the part that isn't all about the grammar), and the office interactions are all some of my favourite bits.  (Miranda is awesome.)


This is one of those cozy mysteries I can recommend without reservation; it's not the fluffy stuff being pumped out in droves; it's smart, funny, real, and highly relatable in just about all aspects (save that scene I mentioned at the beginning).  These are the ones I buy in hardcover - bring on #4!


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review 2017-09-20 04:33
Halloween Bingo - Cozy Mystery - This time for sure
The Case Has Altered - Martha Grimes



I thoroughly enjoyed this.


If I were a truly dedicated mystery reader, I might have been bothered by all the side stories, for there were a lot of them.  Jury's romance, and Plant's lack thereof.  The courtroom shenanigans of barristers, solicitors, and the wanna-bes.  Aunt Agatha and the Long Pidd denizens were like old friends I hadn't seen in a long time.


Oh, yes, and the murder.  Or murders, I should say. 


Although I liked Ruth Rendell's The Babes in the Wood, I felt the resolution was a little too much after the fact.  Here, however, Grimes held virtually nothing back.  All the information was there for the right person to put it together.


Two women are killed.  One is a well-known beauty who is almost universally disliked.  The other is an unattractive servant who is almost universally ignored.  One is shot; two weeks later the other strangled.  The local police inspector, one Arthur Bannen, has only circumstantial evidence, but it all points to a woman Scotland Yard's Richard Jury has more than a passing interest in.


In an attempt to collect additional information, Jury enlists his friend Melrose Plant to pose as an antiques appraiser.  Plant, the wealthy former earl, is none to eager but he agrees to learn just enough about a few important pieces.  He has no idea how valuable that knowledge will become, or how it will impact people who have absolutely nothing to do with the murder investigation.


I like reading about people I can care about.  Even though this is the first Grimes novel I've read in close to 20 years, I still felt as though I knew these characters.  Sgt. Wiggins with his allergies, Aunt Agatha with her . . . designs.  I enjoyed spending some time with them again.


Did I figure out who the murderer was?  Oh, toward the end I did, when a little bit more information was made available and a few people let some things slip.  But I'm not one of those who has a need to solve the case before the end of the book.  I'm content reading and discovering right along with the characters.



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review 2017-09-20 04:29
The Fifth Elephant by Terry Pratchett
The Fifth Elephant (Discworld, #24) - Terry Pratchett

Series: Discworld #24


Vimes is being sent off to act as a diplomat in Uberwald for some do about the Low King of the dwarves. Sybil claims it’ll be a holiday, but as Vimes puts it, he’s a policeman and policemen find crime, so he’s going to find a crime even if he tries not to. Meanwhile, Angua leaves town and Carrot enlists the aid of Gaspode, the talking dog, to go after her. Gaspode is awesome. He’s been sending letters to the Patrician complaining about the cruelty to dogs in the city and the clerks never see who leaves the messages. He holds the crayon in his mouth to write. Oh, the poor flea-bitten mutt.


I had a lot of fun with this book, with the narrative split between Vimes’s journey to Bonk in Uberwald and Colon acting paranoid with terror and basically running the Watch into the ground as acting captain. I quoted some of the laugh out loud moments in my previous updates. One thing that I may not have mentioned is that one of Colon’s manifestations of paranoia is that he keeps counting the sugar cubes, coming up with different totals, and then accusing various watchmen of stealing sugar.


I think I resent the comparison of Gaspode to Nobby. Gaspode’s way cooler and just keeps getting knocked down.

And poor little Gaspode has to make his way back to Ankh-Morpork from Uberwald because they just assume he’s dead. Oh well, at least he talks his way onto a barge to save his little doggy legs.

(spoiler show)


I read this for the “Werewolves” square for Halloween Bingo, but it would also work for the “Murder Most Foul”, “Locked Room Mystery”, “Vampires”, “In the dark, dark woods” (Vimes gets chased through the woods by werewolves at one point), “Supernatural”, and “Monsters” (Trolls) squares.



Previous updates:

137 of 460 pages

119 of 460 pages

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review 2017-09-20 02:11
The Devil Crept In - Ania Ahlborn

It's been a while since I felt so indifferent toward a book. Like . . . I'm having trouble thinking of anything to say, at all. Sorry 'bout that. It happens to every reviewer.


Ania Ahlborn has talent, okay? I can tell. She has talent in spades. Brother, though horribly gruesome and terrible, is well written and . . . well, horrific. That book still makes me a little sick.


The Devil Crept In is much tamer. I liked that. I'm not a fan of excessive gore and whatnot (though I do enjoy splatterpunk from time to time). This was a novel more about atmosphere and psychological scares. I liked the characters, especially little Stevie. And I loved part two, with Otto. I could have read an entire novel about that storyline.

Part three lost me. I don't know. I just got bored and had to force myself through. I'll give this 3 stars because I really enjoyed parts one and two. Maybe I'll reread this in the future and like it more.


Read for 'Terrifying Women'.



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review 2017-09-19 21:54
Lord Halloween
A Soul to Steal - Rob Blackwell

*Published 2011

Today is the first day of October. By the end of it, five women, five men and five children will be rotting in the ground. You cannot stop me, just as you cannot stop change. I am night. I am cold. I am flesh rendered and torn. I am steel. I am the harbinger of fail: I am death. You can call me Lord Halloween. 

Borrowing heavily from the Headless Horseman legend and adding some Jack the Ripper and Freddy Kruger elements, this definitely had a nice Halloween feel to it. Our heroine Kate finds herself having dreams where she is being chased by a headless horseman and her mother is trying to warn and help her. When Kate was little her mother was murdered by Lord Halloween and he always told her he would come back for her. Unable to ignore her dreams Kate goes back to her hometown to try and solve the Lord Halloween mystery.

Quinn works at the local paper and immediately is drawn to the new reporter Kate. He's also been having dreams about a headless horseman chasing him. Coincidence? I think not! What follows is a murder mystery involving a Lord Halloween who writes letters to reporters describing his murders and wanting them printed so he can get the respect he thinks he deserves for everyone celebrating his holiday. There is also a paranormal mystery with the headless horseman chasing Quinn and Kate in their dreams and real life. There is a sizable cast of characters that work to keep you guessing as to who the murderer/s is/are and how Kate and Quinn tie in to it all. 

I think adding the paranormal aspect overly complicated matters and gave the story a looser feeling; I couldn't follow along with it. The graphic and at times creepy letters from Lord Halloween were adequate enough to provide some spook factor. This looks to be a continuing series and I imagine the paranormal storyline and connection Quinn and Kate have will be continued on and maybe flushed out a bit better. 

The writing was overall good but like I said, the murder and paranormal plot lines had a tendency to get a bit loose. A great October read though to get you in the Halloween mood. 

We are night. We are October. We are flesh rendered and torn. We are the rider that was promised long ago, the harbinger of fall: We are death, riding on a black horse. You can call us the Prince of Sanheim. 

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