I loved the description of Zen process and the characterization in this book. The central character, Darcy Lott, interested me. I enjoyed the fact thaI loved the description of Zen process and the characterization in this book. The central character, Darcy Lott, interested me. I enjoyed the fact that she's a stunt double and a Zen Buddhist. I had no complaints about the mystery aspect, but I can see why others might have them. She did investigate, but she didn't actually solve the case. It's the usual cliche about amateur detectives. They stumble over the solution. In Darcy's case, it wasn't limited brain power. She was just too busy to reflect on the results of her investigation. I can see that Darcy had a great deal on her plate, and I find it realistic that she couldn't successfully discover the murderer in addition to her other responsibilities.
Although I've seen very negative comments about the procedural aspect Hungry Ghosts, the next book in the series, I'll probably still want to read it for the Buddhist aspect. This author is very good at portraying the Buddhist context....more
I won this book from Laurie R. King's e-mail giveaway. Since I love Mary Russell and The Pirates of Penzance, I very much looked forward to it. I endeI won this book from Laurie R. King's e-mail giveaway. Since I love Mary Russell and The Pirates of Penzance, I very much looked forward to it. I ended up liking this book even though it was unevenly paced. It did have some clever dialogue, a rousing finish, and I was absolutely charmed by (view spoiler)[the parrot trained to spout anarchist phrases. (hide spoiler)] I also enjoyed seeing the Gilbert & Sullivan quotes that headed each chapter because it gave me an excuse to sing those songs that were once a childhood obsession....more
This is the most sympathetic mentally unstable detective that I've encountered since Bo Bradley, the bi-polar child protective services worker createdThis is the most sympathetic mentally unstable detective that I've encountered since Bo Bradley, the bi-polar child protective services worker created by Abigail Padgett. Bo Bradley would go off her medication in order to access the flashes of intuitive insight she needed to solve her cases. Unfortunately, this would make some of her actions and decisions erratic, and she would get into trouble with her superiors. Claire DeWitt isn't on prescription medication but she does use certain uncontrolled substances which cause her to lose her judgment and the trust of people working with her. For me, the positive consequence of her mental instability is her visions and dreams which can inspire new directions for her investigations. She also utilizes the I Ching.
The investigative tool in Claire's arsenal that I found most interesting is the book Detection which is a fictional creation of the author. Detection is continually quoted throughout the book and copies of this volume show up unexpectedly. Detection doesn't focus on techniques, but on the mental/emotional attitude of the investigator, and the philosophy behind investigation.
I also was really impressed by the author's perspective on the New Orleans setting. She showed me that the city was really already dysfunctional before Katrina hit.
Here's a quote that I found insightful:
"Some people I saw, had drowned right away. And some people were drowning in slow motion, drowning a little bit at a time and would be drowning for years. And some people, like Mick, had always been drowning. They just hadn't known what to call it until now."
With all the character complexities and atmospheric detail, the case seems almost incidental to the narrative. It's as if the case provides an excuse for the author to play with this character and this setting. This is why I didn't give the book five stars. I hope that future volumes in the series will provide us with mysteries that are just as unique as Claire DeWitt.
This anthology by real life Wiccans had one good story, one very good story and one that could have been excellent. Unfortunately, mediocrity is wellThis anthology by real life Wiccans had one good story, one very good story and one that could have been excellent. Unfortunately, mediocrity is well represented and there were two thick-headed protagonists. One was amusing, but the second became annoying.
The story that I felt could have been excellent was "Tambourine Moon" by Zelena Winters about the Rom (gypsy) witch who visits her daughters that have defected to the non-gypsy world. It had lots of Rom cultural content, but when she did magic it was Wiccan. I feel sure that the author could have found out about authentic Rom ritual. I've read two books written by an anthropologist that contained Rom rituals.
The very good story was "The Iron Bride" by Rosemary Edghill which dealt with her Wiccan detective Bast solving the murder of a swordsmith. There are ethical and theological implications that are well-integrated with the plot. This reminded me that there is a Bast mystery that I should read.
"A Reverence For Trees" by Lorna Tedder has the protagonist's husband dying of cancer. This is the sort of plot that plucks at the heartstrings, but it did have good characterization. I also liked the way magic was dealt with in this story.
Some of the authors contributed spells or rituals that they had written. Although the editor's own story written under her pseudonym, Evelyn Vaughn, did not impress me, I very much liked her "Star Trek Time Travel Survival Spells inspired by the Star Trek animated episode "Yesteryear".
This is the Phryne Fisher I'd been led to expect. I didn't find her in Ruddy Gore, the first Phryne Fisher novel that I read, but she's far more develThis is the Phryne Fisher I'd been led to expect. I didn't find her in Ruddy Gore, the first Phryne Fisher novel that I read, but she's far more developed in Queen of the Flowers. The case and the milieu were not especially interesting, but the characterization in general was improved. ...more