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review 2019-01-07 04:57
Ice Blues (Donald Strachey #3)
Ice Blues - Richard Stevenson

I do love a snarky bastard, and Don Strachey is up there with the best of them. <3 He's not always easy to love - like when he's bemoaning his forced monogamy due to the AIDS crisis - but he keeps Detective Newman and the bad guys on their toes. Even when they think they have him where they want him, he's always one step ahead, if only just. Timmy is way too good for Donald. I honestly don't know why he puts up with half the stunts Don pulls in this one. He has way more patience than I would.

 

The case is kookier than ever, as Don finds himself unexpectedly neck deep in political intrigue, possible dope dealers and millions gone missing - all thanks to some dude he met once at a party. Which really is all the more reason not to go to parties and stay home with a good book, if you ask me. Poor Timmy is put through the wringer in this one, but I think I felt most sorry for the anonymous men and women at Don's call service. You know they gossip about him during their lunch hour! Watching Don scrambling to stay ahead of the game, and the ease with which he lies and schemes and snarks his way through one scene after another was a treat. 

 

There were a bit more typos than I could put up with, especially in the last third of the book where "he" and "be" were constantly mixed up. There was also some punctuation misuse and so on. 

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review 2018-12-23 20:07
The Ghost Had an Early Check-Out (TGWYS #2)
The Ghost Had an Early Check-Out - Josh Lanyon

The Ghost Wore Yellow Socks was one of the earliest Lanyon books I read, after Fair Game and the Adrien English series. I adored Perry and really liked Nick. The atmosphere of the old house full of crazies was perfectly written and eerily portrayed, and the mystery was engaging and just as zany as the people in the house. I've read that book at least three times and enjoyed it more each time.

 

However, it wasn't a book or a pairing that was crying out for a sequel. Even so, I was one of the ones (semi-)excited when the sequel was first announced a few years ago. But I was nervous too because so many of the JL's books lately just haven't appealed to me or haven't lived up to those earlier books, so I went into this with mixed feelings.

 

This was painfully average. Once again, I found myself asking "who wrote this" while I was reading it because this isn't the JL of ten years ago, or even of five years ago. The writing was adequate but there was no real sense of atmosphere or the space this story was taking place in, which is too bad because she really could've done a lot with this setting of a broken down hotel full of B-movie horror props. The characters were zany but randomly so, as if their characteristics were chosen by throwing darts at a board. They didn't play off each other very well at all, and there was so little interaction with them - or maybe they were just so forgettable - that I couldn't really keep them straight, even though this only took a little over a day to read. The mystery was all over the place and didn't even make any sense. There are just too many unanswered questions, and it felt like Lanyon was just making things up on the fly instead of plotting out the mystery elements ahead of time.

 

Most importantly, Nick and Perry's relationship was just there. Because they're a couple and in the same book. It was barely touched upon. They have next to no conflicts in their relationship. Nick is gone a lot because he's the low man on the totem pole at work and has to do the overnight and away assignments, but Perry's busy with work (whatever that is) and school and his paintings, so while he misses Nick it's not really an issue for him. Perry's homesick, but that's hardly touched on either. Nick misses Perry but that's just mentioned in passing. He's frustrated their rare weekend together is being hogged up with a silly mystery in an old house, but other than a couple of short conversations about it, it's also not really an issue. So there was no real development, either individually or as a couple. There was only one sex scene - interrupted thank God, because it was averagely written as the rest of this.

 

I have to say, I finished this and had to wonder why this story was even necessary. Maybe a lot of this could have been improved if the story had been longer, but then we'd still be waiting for it.  

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-10-25 04:51
Dark Economy
Dark Economy - M.J. Keedwell

This was the book that would never end. I should have DNF at 50% like I planned to, but I thought that adjusting (and lowering) my expectations would suffice. And it did get better for awhile. But then it started dragging again and I had to skim the last 5% or so to get through this because I wanted it finished tonight.

 

Maybe it was reading this while also listening to What Angels Fear, since they're roughly in the same time period (this one takes place 17 years after Angels) and they both feature amateur sleuths who pursue murders that will ultimately never see true justice done for them, but I found this book lacking. Where Angels had a protag who was interesting, versatile and charismatic, Dark Economy's MC is kind of an obnoxious git. Where Angels has an intriguing mystery within the mystery - French spies in wartime England - Dark Economy has privileged boys who couldn't wait for their allowances to buy things. 

 

You've got Cadell Meredith, the obnoxious git, whose constant back-patting made my hand itch to smack him. He's supposed to be a conscientious, top-rate medical student but he's barely in class. He decided to take it upon himself to solve the murder of a man whose body he stole from the graveyard because he obviously couldn't go to the cops with the info. He also clearly didn't know what he's doing, though he did a decent job of faking it, and I was scratching my head what he planned to do with any of the information he was digging up. Even an anonymous letter to the copper who's supposedly dogging his every step yet missing 95% of his antics wouldn't do much good since Cadell messed with most of the evidence he found. Then again, who needs evidence in Ye Olden Tymes? He kept running into one dead-end after another only to find out that it's exactly who you thought it was right from the start.

 

Then there's the "love interest," or shall I say love interests. He lusted after every other guy he came into contact with and even got a mutual hand job from one of them, but it's the copper who he really wanted. Why? I have no clue, actually. Their first interaction, Breton had broken into his home, cooked him dinner (why? IDK!) and interrogated him, threatened him, was an overall jerk and then manhandled him against the wall. I guess it was sexy manhandling??? And from this encounter on, Cadell's supposedly in lust with the guy but since he was lusting after every other guy, it was hard to see why Breton was so special. They did finally get some real interaction after the 50% mark, but most of that was so nonsensical I couldn't buy into it. They didn't actually get together until 98%.

 

The author did well in portraying what it must have been like being a medical student at a time when grave-robbing, even for medical purposes, could get you sent to the gallows, and there's a good sense of atmosphere for the time period. Unfortunately, that atmosphere was often lost by Cadell's inner-thoughts, which made him come across more like a modern-age brat than a mature medical student of the early 1800s.

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review 2018-10-12 05:02
Halloween Is Murder
Halloween is Murder - Josh Lanyon

Another half-baked short story by JL. Sometimes her short stories are really beautiful, spectacular displays of prose. But most of the time they're this: not fully-formed, more of an outline than a story, with characters you barely have time to get to know before the story is over. Add on the paranormal elements of actual real vampires and vampire hunters  and this just becomes a head-scratcher. There is also zero romance here. A hint of a love story, but that's it. The action is non-existent too, despite this being about vampires and vampire hunters. And there's a really big issue left unresolved at the end too.

Barry seriously didn't think it necessary to tell his client that her brother is out for her fortune? Um...he'll probably try to kill her next. Geez.

(spoiler show)

 

I was also really thrown by the fact this takes place in the world of Adrien English (and therefore Holmes & Moriarity, All's Fair, Art of Murder and just about every other series she's done her little crossover/tie-ins with). Um...what? That makes no sense. And just makes The Hell You Say look like a missed opportunity. Not the best tie-in she's come up with, in my opinion.

 

Still, it's JL, so the writing is still good and has a mild, throwback sort of humor (this is based in the 50s/60s) one expects from a Lanyon story. Just wish it had been longer, like the world and characters really deserved. 

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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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