Showing posts from 2011

Murder in the Mountains... a Snow-Covered Mystery

In the dead of winter, Norway is a land of ice and snow. It has never been more so though, than during what is proving to be the worst blizzard in several decades--a complete and utter whiteout, the likes of which not even the old-timers can recall.
Hardly the ideal conditions for traveling by rail through the high mountain peaks, of course, but for the passengers of train 601, en route from Oslo to Bergen, such is their nerve-wracking--if temporary--predicament... until everything goes topsy-turvy, and train 601 jumps the icy tracks and smashes into a snowy embankment, stranding all aboard in a tiny, remote town situated 1,222 meters above sea level, while the biting winds and blinding snows rage all around.  Miraculously, it appears that everyone (aside from the train’s unfortunate driver) sustained only minor injuries, and all two-hundred-sixty-nine passengers are transported from the wrecked cars to the town’s one hotel, an historic mountain lodge fortuitously located nearby. 


Destiny Takes Flight on the Wings of a Song: Intrigue in Appalachia

Take some garden-variety youthful rebellion, then throw in a heap of raging hormones and rivalries old and new, and you’ve got the makings for the sort of angst-y drama which plays out everywhere, every single day.  Add a few unearthly mysteries, a wealth of beautiful lyrics and exquisite music, the unmatched splendor of (mostly)-unsullied nature, and a small, enigmatic race of people into the mix, though, and the end result is something quite different... something which can only be found, in fact, in a place like the bucolic Great Smoky Mountains of Eastern Tennessee, in author Alex Bledsoe’s newly-released novel, The Hum and the Shiver~ / ~ / ~ / ~ / ~ The tale begins with what appears to be a festive event--a big parade, welcoming the return of still-wounded war hero Private Bronwyn Hyatt to her Cloud County, Tennessee home. In reality, the very last thing the twenty-year-old soldier with the shattered leg wants is fanfare, but--as someone points out to her--a parade isn’t actuall…

Finding Strength Born of Earth, Blood, and Tears

It is often said that there is no rest for the wicked, and--regardless of whether you interpret it (as I do) to mean that evil never sleeps (but is always lying in wait, ready to attack)... or you prefer the biblically-derived (with oodles of hellfire-and-damnation implicit) interpretation which posits that evildoers will eventually find themselves forever in torment--it’s a saying which has the ring of a truism. The equally-important corollary, of course, is that the good guys--namely, the police, watchdogs (be they canine or human), and other assorted heroes and super-heroes--manage to get precious little rest, either, since they must needs be ever-vigilant against the sundry forces of all that lurking evil. Imagine, then, always having to straddle a line between the two sides... being viewed by certain segments as a savior, while others pegged you as a monster. That’s the uncomfortable (not to mention exhausting) position which Victory “Vicky” Vaughn finds herself in once again, as s…

Jack-o'-Lanterns from Beyond: Beware the Pumpkin Man

As summer eases into fall, we’re treated to a fabulous array of seasonal delights... brisk days warmed primarily by the sight of sun-dappled, multi-colored leaves, making their last (and grandest) hurrah; the smell of woodsmoke permeating the air by night, as fireplaces and wood stoves are brought out of semi-retirement; farmer’s markets piled high with enticements ranging from bags of shiny apples, mounds of gourds, and jugs of sweet cider, to paper cones filled with still-warm, freshly-roasted nuts; and a general desire for coziness, such as can be found in cuddly sweaters and mugs of hot cocoa. Amusements are likewise in abundance when autumn rolls around. Homecoming festivals, arts and crafts shows, beer-and-sausage-themed “Oktoberfests”, and, of course, everything that Halloween brings--from the costumed day/night itself, to the various haunted houses, hayrides, and quirky regional offerings (corn maze, anyone?), that take place in the weeks prior. Something a bit darker and more s…

Good Golly, Molly: Runaway Brides and Tong Wars

When it comes to books, I rarely do “charming” or “cute”; that sort of unrelenting cheer (and overly-pat endings) just isn’t my style. Give me something with a little bite, a sharp edge, every single time. Still, I’m willing to make the occasional exception, and Rhys Bowen’s “Molly Murphy” mystery series has been one of those. With a feisty protagonist--an independent young Irish immigrant who takes up the unlikely job of sleuthing so that she can put food on her table and a roof over her head, and an irresistible setting--New York City, circa the early 1900s, this has been a fun little series with much to recommend it. All of that may be about to change, though, on the heels of Bowen’s tenth entry in Molly's ongoing saga, Bless the Bride... * ~ * ~ *~ * It’s 1903, and our intrepid redheaded detective is on the verge of getting married (hence the dreadfully saccharine title, which if not part of the series would have sent me running away as fast as possible) to her NYPD sweetie, fello…

Remembering 9/11: The Day That Changed the World

As I sit sniffling at my computer, reading countless articles and blog entries about this, the tenth anniversary of the day that will forever be known simply by its date-- “9/11” --it hits me anew how much this changed not just our world, but all of us. In that one horrific day, the last vestiges of our innocence literally went up in flames, leaving only indescribable sorrow, bitterness, and an increased awareness of evil in the remaining ashes.
★ ~ ★ ~ ★ Ten years ago saw me far removed (in body) from the shocking events which would take place that day. I was nearing the end of a seasonal job in a midwestern state, preparing to pick up stake and move again in just a few weeks’ time. I’d been to Washington D.C. on a couple occasions (once for business and once for pleasure), but hadn’t yet ventured to New York. I barely knew anyone there at the time, either--one relative, a few business acquaintances. Still, having seen numerous TV shows and movies, as well as having read so many books …

Beware the Darkest Dark of Night

A nearly-packed plane en route to Atlanta, departing several hours late from Denver, takes to the skies in the wee hours of a cloudy night with a passenger list ranging from the merely-inconvenienced and tired to the openly-disgruntled and testy. It will soon turn into a flight like none of them has ever experienced... nor even dreamt of in a nightmare, for that matter. The switch from the rocking evening shift to the easy-listening, night-owls-only one is currently in progress at KMRT, a tiny radio station in small-town Jesman’s Bend, Colorado. Those loneliest hours of the night before dawn are about to become a whole lot lonelier. A handsome--albeit somehow “off”--young man, gloating over the fact that his identity as the city’s infamous killer, the “Mummy-Man”, is still unknown, gains entry into the home of his latest, soon-to-be-very-unlucky victim. Unbeknownst to the killer, he will shortly be getting more--and less--than that for which he bargained. A middle-aged widow--who staves …

Sons, Daughters, & the Deep Blue Undersea

It’s always something, when it comes to life in Faerie... and for a knight who’s only recently added “Countess” to her growing list of names and titles, truer words were never spoken. Sir October Daye is still getting used to all the changes that have taken place since she unravelled the nefarious plot against her liege, Duke Sylvester Torquill of Shadowed Hills, and his wife, Luna. Their daughter--the insane, angry, and unhappy Rayseline--has fled to parts unknown. Sylvester has seemingly aged overnight, and Luna now wears a mantle of sadness instead of her former kitsune disguise. Things have altered for Toby, as well. After being hit with deadly elfshot during the last skirmish, she underwent some major (magical) resuscitation efforts--courtesy of her freaky-powerful (but rarely-seen) mother, Amandine--which left her... well, rather different than she was before... and she’s still trying to come to grips with what all of that means.   Not everything’s doom, gloom, and thirty-nine shad…