logo
Wrong email address or username
Wrong email address or username
Incorrect verification code
back to top
Search tags: female-authors
Load new posts () and activity
Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2020-10-12 07:51
The Red Lamp
The Red Lamp - Mary Roberts Rinehart

I knew this was a ghost story, of sorts, so I started it bright and early yesterday morning, and became so engrossed in the story that I almost, almost, finished it last night. leaving nothing but 3 of the last 4 conclusion chapters for me to read today.

 

Mary Roberts Rinehart was an excellent writer; that her genius has been so far forgotten today is a tragedy.  The Red Lamp was originally written in 1925, and putting aside the lack of technology and the beautifully elegant writing that today might be considered a tad verbose, the story holds up perfectly; it would take very little to make this story 'modern'.

 

The Red Lamp is complex to the point of labyrinthine though.  Like the main character, I stumbled through the story in ignorance.  Some of this was by design, as the mc is meant to be a spectator not an active participant in solving the crimes, but some of it was because there was just so much going on and that beautifully elegant writing of Rinehart's made for easy camouflage of any clues.

 

The book is, with the exception of the introductory and final 4 chapters, purely epistemological, with no chapters, just journal entries.  This style doesn't always lend itself to a submersive experience for the reader, but these journal entries are detailed enough that it makes almost no difference from a first person narrative.

 

The ghostly part of the story, in spite of the enormous potential for scarring the spit out of me, were subdued enough that they never raised so much as a hair.  This was a wee bit disappointing, I admit, but it didn't adversely affect the story; they were never the point of the book, it was always about the mysterious killings and there was never doubt that those killings were done by a very corporeal being.

 

All in all, this was an excellent mystery.  I'd recommend this to anyone curious about Golden Age Mysteries who might be hesitant fearing dry or dated story-telling.  While not perfect, The Red Lamp is most assuredly neither dry nor dated.

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2020-10-09 22:36
The Turquoise Mask
The Turquoise Mask - Phyllis A. Whitney

Wow, can Whitney be verbose.  Her earlier work has always been better, in my opinion, but this one was an in-between - first published in 1974.  Which makes the plotting excellent, and the abuse of the expository extreme.  Unfortunately the expository gauntlet must be run for many chapters before a hint of the rewarding plot can be found.

 

I'm undecided on whether it's worth the effort.  The plotting was very well done.  I was absolutely certain I knew who the villain was right up until almost the end, when she convinced me I was wrong, that it was really .... and then she blindsided me with the solution that was just unexpected.  Whitney got huge bonus points for stunning me, but I'm not sure how I actually feel about it as a legitimate ending.  It works, but it feels like it shouldn't.

 

The characters, and the romance, were, as is typical with both Whitney's writing and the time she wrote in, dramatic and overly simplified.  Insta-love has nothing on romantic suspense from the 70's; and characters' personalities are never subtle or nuanced.  If you accept this as the style of its time, it's not an insurmountable problem.

 

The one thing Whitney never lost, no matter how many books she wrote, was her sense of place.  I'm not sure I've ever read anybody better at putting the reader in whatever setting she wants them, and making them feel like they were there.  Here the deserts of New Mexico are the backdrop, and though I've never in my life seen an adobe house, I feel like I've lived in one the last couple of days.

I'd neither recommend it nor deter anyone from this one; the exposition is a challenge, but if that slow build isn't a deterrent, the story is one of her more complicated and compelling ones.

 

I read this for the Romantic Suspense square (which is on my card is the Psych square that's been flipped), for Halloween Bingo 2020.

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2020-09-13 09:08
The Sun Down Motel
The Sun Down Motel - Simone St. James

I am not a fan of horror, but I'm a big fan of old-fashioned ghost stories, when read in broad daylight.  I've been a big fan of Simone St. James' ghost stories since I first found The Haunting of Maddy Claire, the first of ... five?... historical ghost stories.  She branched off in a new direction with The Broken Girls, going with a dual time-line plot, which I read hesitantly, but enjoyed thoroughly.  The Sun Down Motel is another such book: a dual time-line mystery firmly rooted around a haunted place, this time a hotel that was pretty much doomed before it ever opened its doors.

 

I'm still a fan of St. James - I think this was a riveting read, and I devoured it in 2 sittings (daylight hours, all of them), but it wasn't as good as some of her others for two reasons, both purely subjective.  The first was the heavy handedness of the message: that women have always been, and sadly will always be, to some extent, vulnerable and expendable.  This is as unavoidable a fact as it is an inexcusable one, but more subtle writing would have had more powerful an impact.  Instead, there were times - just a few - that I felt like I was the choir and I was being preached at.  This wasn't a massive issue; it was just enough to pull me out of my head and the story a time or two.

 

The second reason is almost silly:  the ghosts.  They were almost exactly my right level of scary, but, and it took me some time to figure this out, they didn't have quite the effect on me as the ghosts in her previous books, because they never really focused on the main characters.  These hauntings were almost the remnant-kind: they were there acting in an endless loop, whether anyone witnessed or not, although there was a trigger.  The main ghost communicated with the historical time-line mc, but only once without being pushed into it by Viv.  The other ghosts communicated with the present day mc, Carly, but benignly.  They were spooky, absolutely, but at a remove, so that they fell just short of spine-tingling.

 

And I guess, as I write this I was left unsatisfied by Nick's story; it felt like it should be going somewhere and it didn't.  I'm also disappointed that there was never an explanation for the present-day entry in the guest book of one James March who registered the day Carly and Nick had their first real experience with the Sun Down Motel.  That was a BIG little thing to leave hanging with no follow up.

 

But overall, it was a good story; I liked that both Viv and Carly had solid friendships in their timelines; I liked that Nick was her support from pretty much page 1, and I liked the investigatory process of the mystery plot, even if I thought Viv was a reckless idiot.  The story sucked me in, and I remain a solid fan of St. James' books.

 

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2020-07-17 03:23
Consider the Platypus
Consider the Platypus: Evolution through Biology's Most Baffling Beasts - Rodica Prato,Maggie Ryan Sandford

I had this book on my list to buy long before it was published, so when I did buy it a few months ago, I was surprised:  I was expecting the book to be about the platypus.  Silly me.

 

It is, instead, a book about the animals that display aspects of evolution in its most baffling forms, or animals through whom are knowledge of evolution and homo sapiens has been advanced.  It's cheekily written, and could almost be used as a supplemental text for introductory classes in high-school, though it's nowhere near comprehensive enough.  Each animal gets between 2-4 pages, with a generous, though not excessive, illustrations.

 

I learned a bit about just about everything, and learned about a few creatures I'd never really heard of before.  Light, enjoyable to read, and something that is easily picked up and digested in small bits.

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2020-07-17 03:13
The Mystery of the Hasty Arrow
The Mystery of the Hasty Arrow - Anna Katharine Green

It's a long-term goal of mine to read all of Anna Katherine Green's mysteries and this one has been sitting on my shelves for awhile now.  

 

AKG was, and is, considered a strong mystery writer, but as is true of most every writer, her work is sometimes better than others.  This was one of the ones that wasn't quite so great, though still an enjoyable read.  I imagine Green was going for what we'd call today a police procedural, as the murderer isn't kept a mystery; the reader is made privy to the information the same time Inspector Gryce first voices his suspicions.  I'm not a procedural fan, as it contains less puzzle than I prefer.  There was also a plot twist that was either poorly hidden, or I'm too jaded, but I called it from the first.  Her reveal of it, though, would have knocked my socks off if I hadn't guessed early on.

 

Overall, I enjoyed it and look forward to acquiring more of her work.  

More posts
Your Dashboard view:
Need help?