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Showing posts from May 22, 2010

A Medieval Temperance Brennan or Kay Scarpetta

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It is late in the 12th century--1170, to be precise. Tensions between the Church and England’s King Henry II are running high, following on the heels of the recent assassination--committed by a group of Henry’s followers--of the (former) Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas a Becket, in a dispute over the rights of the Church. In the midst of this religious turmoil, Henry is also growing exceedingly concerned with an issue which has plagued rulers throughout the ages--that of money, how to collect enough income to effectively continue governing his lands (and the people living therein). For Henry, an important part of that equation centers around a group of people scorned and distrusted by the majority of his subjects--the Jewish population, whose menfolk have proven to have an aptitude for money-lending, and thus, have become quite valuable to the king in terms of producing revenue. The latest snag for Henry is that the Church, already furious with him, has just petitioned the Pope for th…

Shades of Nosferatu and the Independent Woman

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Can lightning strike--the same place, or the same person--more than once? Statistically, yes, although a high concentration of electrical wires and/or electronic equipment seems to play a major role in determining the likelihood of such an occurrence. Under most conditions, though, it’s pretty unlikely. But what if we’re talking about authors? (Metaphorically-speaking, of course; I’d really hate to see Zeus flinging lightning bolts at my favorite authors, all of a sudden...) What are the odds that an author with a very successful book or series already under her/his belt can create similar results, a second time?  With that question in mind, I had high hopes going into Deanna Raybourn’s latest book, The Dead Travel Fast. As the first standalone from her delightful Lady Julia Grey series, this new book would have a very pretty pair of slippers to fill. Still, the idea of a supernatural mystery set in the 19th-century was utterly compelling, especially coming from the mind of such a talen…

High-Tech Magical Hijinks

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If Seanan McGuire’s first October Daye novel (Rosemary and Rue) was her spin on a moody, atmospheric, noir-style mystery (set in an uber-cool world populated by the Fae, Changelings, and regular humans), then her follow-up novel, A Local Habitation, goes the modern, high-tech crime thriller route (albeit with the same Fae and human mishmash of characters). And once again, she’s managed to create something quite magical. The differences between the two stories--and the two approaches--are striking. It fell to R&R, the first of the series, to set up the whole world--introducing us to the characters, their environment, some background, and all the lore. We first glimpsed lands of unimaginable beauty and thrilling magic, as we viewed various kingdoms and duchies of the Summerlands through Toby’s eyes. We learned how the Fae interact not only with each other, but also with the Changelings (whom they see as sort of second-class citizens) and the humans (whom they suffer as well as fear).…

Adoption: Happiness & Heartbreak

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It starts off innocuously enough, as things so often do. A random bit of junk mail--one of those postcards advertising window replacement, or margarita night at the local Tex-Mex joint, or maybe a donation request from the Salvation Army--escapes from an unruly stack of mail and floats free of the rest to land face-up on a little 3-inch by 5-inch section of floor. Most people would just pick up the offending scrap, a little annoyed at having to do so, only to toss it into the recycling bin without further thought. Maybe, if the ad offered a free something-or-other, they’d tack it up on the refrigerator under a magnet shaped like a piece of fruit, where it would remain until the next housecleaning frenzy caused them to gather up all those expired coupons and forgotten shopping lists from the fridge door for disposal. That’s really about the best that most junk-mail senders can hope for: that their unwanted piece of advertising doesn’t immediately go into the trash, but lingers long eno…