This is the fourth in the Medieval West Country Mystery Series sometimes also called the Knights Templar series. In this one, Jecks has really hit hisThis is the fourth in the Medieval West Country Mystery Series sometimes also called the Knights Templar series. In this one, Jecks has really hit his stride.
The town of Crediton is awaiting the arrival of the Bishop of Exeter when it is also visited by a band of mercenaries, led by Sir Hector, their captain, on their way back to Gascony. They take over the local Inn and as soldiers will, behave badly. They attempt to rape, Sarra, a serving girl, who's saved by Sir Hector's interest in her, among other mostly harmless but noisy deeds.
The local bailiff Simon Puttock and Sir Baldwin Furnshill, Keeper of the King's Peace, have their welcoming dinner with the Bishop interrupted when a robbery and murder are discovered at the Inn. They leave to investigate and are told the newest member of the band, Phillip Cole, is accused of stealing Sir Hector's silver stash and also killing Sarra the servant girl found in a nearby chest. Cole is captured with some of the silver and jailed. His captors John Smithson and Henry the Hurdle say they were following him because he was acting furtively. Simon and Baldwin are skeptical of the entire set up and the rest of the book follows their investigation as they try to uncover the truth.
The story is a akin to a police procedural as Simon and Baldwin go down many blind alleys with bodies piling up and suspects multiplying. There are a few sub-plots, the major one being the effect of Simon's son, Peterkin, recently unexpectedly dying. Just when they and possibly the reader are sure they know what's what, something happens to muddy the waters. The ending is a bit of a surprise and a brief epilogue ties up whatever loose ends are left after the theft and the murders are solved.
This book can be read as part of the series or as a stand-alone story. I recommend it either way.
I have avoided reading the continuation of the Spenser series after Robert B. Parker's death. This book written by Ace Atkins has convinced me that II have avoided reading the continuation of the Spenser series after Robert B. Parker's death. This book written by Ace Atkins has convinced me that I was most likely wrong.
In this basically simple story, Spenser is hired to find out who's following a Boston Patriot's football star, Kinjo Heyward. Heyward's son, Akira, is kidnapped and Spenser is retained to try and save the kid. With his friends Hawk and Z, a new Native American buddy who's back story is developed in a previous Atkins book, and his mate, psychologist, Susan Silverman. he works through a complicated set of relationships and hidden past behaviors plus a vindictive ex-wife to solve the crime. There is a twist at the end that is not entirely unexpected but may set the stage for the next book in the series.
There are some differences between the Parker books and this volume but not enough to turn me off. One, this book seems a bit longer with more descriptions that aren't entirely relevant to the plot than most of the originals. Two, the dialogue is not as snappy as in the originals. Other than that, I enjoyed the book immensely and am happy that Spenser, at least, is still with us....more
I read the reviews at the front of the book. I read his introduction. I read the first 50 pages. I scolded myself for wasting my time.
Disclosure: I gI read the reviews at the front of the book. I read his introduction. I read the first 50 pages. I scolded myself for wasting my time.
Disclosure: I got this book through Bookmooch.com and should apologize to the person who sent it because if I'd done my due diligence, I would not have mooched it. I plan to offer her a free book.
If you are someone who believes that we are headed for the apocalypse and most Muslims are evil and that there are many plots out there to assassinate Christian leaders, then go ahead and spend your time re-affirming your beliefs. I have better things to do.
Needless to say, I do not recommend this book. If it was possible to indicate zero stars, that is what I would do. ...more
This has to be a guilty pleasure: a novel about a wizard with an office in Chicago, making himself available to people who need magical help.
This isThis has to be a guilty pleasure: a novel about a wizard with an office in Chicago, making himself available to people who need magical help.
This is the third book in the Harry Dresden series. I'd read Book 1 and liked it. I liked it more than this one. Butcher has added a great deal more violence and sex but that doesn't necessarily mean he's created a better story.
In this story, the plot revolves around some malevolent force trying to kill Harry, his associate Michael, his police supporter Lt. Murphy and his girl friend Susan Rodriguez. The barrier between the Nevernever and Earth has been weakened and ghosts are showing up on the earth side and creating chaos. Harry can't seem to figure out who the entity behind all the trouble, someone they call the "Nightmare", is.
As he follows the clues, his friends and others are possessed and/or hurt badly. Harry is weakened. Michael loses his sword. Lt. Murphy drops into a coma and Susan is attacked by vampires. Harry keeps pushing, though, and as you might expect, solves the riddle in the end.
My problem with the book, is that Butcher spends far too much time explaining and exploring the sub-plots. On the other hand, his descriptions of the battles between the "Good Guys" and the "Bad Guys", many of whom are women. by the way, are excellent. I just think he could have moved things forward a little faster than he did.
You can enjoy this without reading the previous books in the series. I recommend it as light reading....more
This was my first exposure to the Dresden Files. I'd seen a few episodes of its short run on TV and thought it might make an interesting read. I was rThis was my first exposure to the Dresden Files. I'd seen a few episodes of its short run on TV and thought it might make an interesting read. I was right.
First, to read this type of book you must suspend your disbelief. Harry Dresden is a wizard who practices "White Magic" in Chicago for a small clientele and occasionally for the Chicago PD as a "psychic" consultant.
In this, the first book in the series, he gets called in on a horrible double murder which is obviously the work of a "Black Magic" practitioner or "Mage". Detective Karrin Murphy is his contact and she wants results fast - results he is unable to provide for a number of reasons. One of the victims is a member of a Chicago Crime Family led by John Marcone, a crime boss not unlike John Gotti. Marcone wants results, also, but he wants to punish the killer himself. This puts Dresden in a fix, exacerbated by Morgan, a Warden of the "White Council", who are investigating Dresden for misuse of his powers. Morgan is convinced Dresden is somehow responsible for the killing.
All of this makes for an interesting story leavened with Harry's self-deprecating humor. In an exciting and satisfying ending, all the loose ends come together. I am certainly motivated to now try Volume 2 of the series.
Alan Furst is back. I was disappointed in his last two books, "Midnight in Europe" and "Mission to Paris" but this effort is top notch.
"A Hero of FraAlan Furst is back. I was disappointed in his last two books, "Midnight in Europe" and "Mission to Paris" but this effort is top notch.
"A Hero of France" has a protagonist, Mathieu, who is much like the Furst protagonists of his earlier books - engaging, imperfect, courageous, smart, dedicated and most of all human. I have always appreciated Furst's ability to get me, the reader, to care about his characters. Even some of his villains have redeeming qualities.
It's 1941. France has been occupied by Nazi Germany and Mathieu is the leader of a resistance group that rescues fallen British pilots and helps get them back to England. To do this, he relies on a group of similarly minded patriots and a number of outliers who help when asked. The plot is simple. We accompany Mathieu on some of his rescues and get to know his fellow resistors. We also see Mathieu as someone who has given up his previous life and, though, he has a girl friend, is constantly in danger of being captured.
Furst's impeccable research gives the reader an opportunity to get lost in occupied France and experience vicariously what Mathieu is going through. His descriptions of places, people, and simple things like transportation are what allows us to feel we are in a different time. He is a master at what he does.
This book can stand-alone. Although there are characters and venues from previous volumes, they are not intrinsic to this narrative. I wholeheartedly recommend this book to anyone interested in WW II history, spy stories, or realistic thrillers....more
Most sport-centered books do not grab me as they are either biographical or focused on a single season. The BoysA great book, telling a great story.
Most sport-centered books do not grab me as they are either biographical or focused on a single season. The Boys in the Boat is biographical but also historical. The author puts all the events in the context of the times. For instance, while focused on the 1936 Berlin Olympic competition, Brown also describes what was happening to minorities like the Jews and the Gypsies in Germany and how Goebbels manipulated the event to showcase the Germany, the Nazis wanted the world to see.
The story of the major character in the story, Joe Rantz, is the glue that holds the entire narrative together. While the book's sub-title features the 1936 Olympics, the bulk of the narrative involves Rantz's journey from his situation as an orphaned young boy to being a member of the the University of Washington heroic crew. He is also seen as emblematic of his 8 teammates, most of whom come from poor but hard-working families and spend a great deal of time rowing even though they are struggling to earn the funds to stay in school.
It's hard for us to realize how popular crew was as a spectator sport in the 1930s. 100,000 people turning out for the IRA regatta near Poughkeepsie, NY would be unheard of today. The description of what the crew members endure to compete and win is inspiring. Brown does a great job of describing the important races. He also makes the details of building a scull actually interesting by interweaving it with the life story and epigrams of George Pocock, perhaps the greatest boat-builder of his time.
While the fact that the U.S. crew won the race in Berlin is no surprise, the description of the race is thrilling as are the descriptions of many of the other competitions.
When I first heard about the book, I had little incentive to read it but it was lent to me by my brother-in-law who loved it. I'm glad I took his advice and got into the story. I can recommend it with no reservations as a worthwhile endeavor. Read it. You'll love it.