My second reading of this Charlie "Bird" Parker thriller, in which he runs afoul of Mr. Pudd, the arachnophile who warns him away from his search forMy second reading of this Charlie "Bird" Parker thriller, in which he runs afoul of Mr. Pudd, the arachnophile who warns him away from his search for the murderer of a young woman by stuffing his mailbox full of brown recluse spiders. This book, one of several dark thrillers about this character, is the one that gets me on the most visceral level, because Mr. Pudd's favorite method for dealing with anyone who seeks his father, the former head of a commune whose members' bodies are discovered at the opening of the book, is by trapping them with hordes of deadly spiders. Connolly is brilliant, right up there with Stephen King and Andrew Vachss....more
Rather than focus on Parker, this book concentrates instead on Louis and Angel and the peculiar web of protections and allies Louis has built to supplRather than focus on Parker, this book concentrates instead on Louis and Angel and the peculiar web of protections and allies Louis has built to supply them, house them, and keep them safe. They all stem from his past as a hired assassin, trained up from boyhood by the man Gabriel as a Reaper, the best of killers hired for money. Now Louis' past is coming to kill him and Angel in the shape of Bliss, a turncoat who Louis left for dead 10 years ago. Bliss is luring him into a trap and doesn't care what kind of collateral damage gets piled up on the way. Louis is so eager for action after months of relative peace with Angel that he missteps, with painful results for a lot of people.
It's interesting to see Parker through other eyes, and good to see where Louis comes from, as he's the less understandable of the pair. I feel bad for Angel, being human for his lover, but he's definitely a perfect balance for someone who once knew nothing but death, and is slowly finding his way back....more
This is the first in the Mistress of the Art of Death series, introducing Adelia, a doctor of medicine who is also trained in forensic medicine at theThis is the first in the Mistress of the Art of Death series, introducing Adelia, a doctor of medicine who is also trained in forensic medicine at the University of Salerno in Italy (a university which taught Christian, Jew, and Muslim alike) and her manservant the Saracen Mansur, a eunuch. When four small children are murdered in Cambridge, one of them seemingly crucified, the townspeople turn on the Jews of the city, who flee to the sheriff's castle for protection. Henry II needs the Jews for the money they pay him in taxes and he dislikes unrest of any kind. He sends to the King of Italy for Salerno-trained investigators to solve the murderers. Due to miscommunications and the head of the medical department's unworldiness, Simon of Naples comes with a female doctor of death, not a male one.
And thus it begins. When Adelia relieves Prior Geoffrey of incredible pain, he becomes her friend, supplying her with a respectable woman to live with (Adelia's own nursemaid having died on the way), a place for them to live and set up a medical establishment with Mansur to masquerade as the doctor (because women are forbidden to be doctors by the Church) and Adelia to be his assistant and translator. Together with Simon, who is Jewish, the three begin to investigate the deaths of the children, together with the help/interference of Rowley Picot, the king's tax collector.
The webs are tangled and touch on the city's flesh and bone: their killer is probably a Crusader; the idea of Jews as Christ-killers and the idea of blood debt; the omnipresence of the river and fens in allowing the killer to come and go as he pleases. In all of this there is the danger if Adelia is found out, because the church will burn her as a witch. And there are other complications. Loads of `em. Plus a surly small boy, a smelly dog, the vaulting of one of the dead children to martyr status to bring money into a convent, and a king who is trying to bring the rule of law to the realm.
I love these books. This is my second reading of MISTRESS. ...more
Reading this again taught me how much better a writer Charlaine Harris is than the writers of the "True Blood" series on HBO. In the TV series, Bill'sReading this again taught me how much better a writer Charlaine Harris is than the writers of the "True Blood" series on HBO. In the TV series, Bill's sheriff vampire, tall blond Eric, cries out to Sookie that he has two silver bullets in him and they must be removed immediately. They're in his shoulder and chest, and she had no surgical devices or tweezers, so she ends up sucking them out, getting Eric's blood in her mouth (which was his point). One of them is in Eric's breast, near the nipple, which is what Sookie's doing when Bill arrives. In the book, Eric has only one bullet; Sookie gets a little blood in her mouth; it doesn't turn into a Roman carnival.
The same with the maenad's arrival. The show turns it into days' worth of carousing by the entire population of Bontemps. In the book, it's an affair for Sam, the vampires (who owe her tribute), and a small, nasty sex club.
It's nice to re-read the books along with the series to remind myself how sensible the characters really are. As for the show . . . I can't help myself. I'm so ashamed....more
Oops! I put the review for MISTRESS OF THE ART OF DEATH here. Now I'll have to go and re-read THE SERPENT'S TALE to review it correctly--what a chore!Oops! I put the review for MISTRESS OF THE ART OF DEATH here. Now I'll have to go and re-read THE SERPENT'S TALE to review it correctly--what a chore! ;-)...more
I'm re-reading after some years away, and loving the book even more than I did the first time! Marks creates a realistic society in which women are thI'm re-reading after some years away, and loving the book even more than I did the first time! Marks creates a realistic society in which women are the dominant sex. The home country has been conquered by an army with no home to return to, and its leaders have been fighting a long, guerilla war against them. What they need is the leader who is joined by her magic with the earth, but the one who inherited the office from the former leader is a drug addict and former prostitute who doesn't believe in her worth or her job. The second-in-command of the army is beginning to see that her people have to re-think what they are doing if they are to survive, as do some of the rebel leaders.
The characters are complex, facing complex problems. I not only love them and the world-building, but I was able to give this and EARTH LOGIC, which I also liked VERY much, to a gay friend who wanted a lesbian romance in which the fact that the women were gay was not an ISSUE, but simply part of the romance.
Definitely find EARTH LOGIC if you like this. Small Beer Press has published the third book, WATER LOGIC, which I will read as soon as I'm sure I'm ready for the next one. (Sometimes I overload on a universe if I read too many books in it one right after another.)...more
great book (the movie was based on it, but this is much more detailed) about the American involvement (and the Israeli, Egyptian, and Pakistani involvgreat book (the movie was based on it, but this is much more detailed) about the American involvement (and the Israeli, Egyptian, and Pakistani involvement) in ridding Afghanistan of the Soviets in the 1980s. As easy to read as a novel and as fascinating!...more
A book of short horror stories plus a Charlie Parker novella that details Bird's first encounter with the very weird killer/judger called The CollectoA book of short horror stories plus a Charlie Parker novella that details Bird's first encounter with the very weird killer/judger called The Collector. The stories are pretty standard horror fare with hints that even the good people are doomed beyond the limits of the story. What is it with horror writers? I'd read more mainstream horror if everything didn't go to hell in a handbasket.
The story about the British boys' school did convince me that Connolly is in fact Irish (he writes so well about American settings that I was really scratching my head). He also goes good stories in the Holmes style, the Lovecraft style, and the Poe style. Let's face it, when Connolly writes, even if it's in the standard horror form, he's still better than 90% of what's out there. ...more
The latest Charlie Parker thriller, in which Parker, still with his private investigator's license on suspension, digs into the fatal shooting of twoThe latest Charlie Parker thriller, in which Parker, still with his private investigator's license on suspension, digs into the fatal shooting of two teenagers which caused his policeman father to take his own life while his wife and son were downstairs. In the course of talking to people who knew his father, Parker has dealings once again with the mysterious Rabbi Epstein, who already holds one of the immortal fallen angels who pursued a bloody career before Parker and his friends captured and handed him over. The rabbi may be needed once again as Parker learns the teenagers may have been stolen bodies used to house two more of the fallen, the Lovers, who are determined to hunt him down and kill him.
Again, Connolly writes an un-put-downable book. I'm beginning to wonder what he sold to have acquired this ability!...more