(No Spoilers) Start with a traditional high fantasy, add a hefty dose of noir, mix it up with a dark protagonist and a compelling authorial voice, an...more (No Spoilers) Start with a traditional high fantasy, add a hefty dose of noir, mix it up with a dark protagonist and a compelling authorial voice, and you've got LOW TOWN by Daniel Polansky.
The story begins with The Warden, the otherwise unnamed protagonist, going about his usual day of slinging dope and running into trouble with the law (known as Black House), when he finds the body of a little girl. Now, The Warden may not be the best person on the planet, but there are some things he cannot abide. With a shove from his former coworkers at Black House, he enters into a web of criminal intrigue and magic in order to protect the slums he calls home.
LOW TOWN caught me by surprise. I picked it up on a whim after being enticed by the blurb, and I quickly found myself swept up in the world of The Warden. It is part mystery, part fantasy, and entirely wonderful.
The pace is snappy from the moment we meet The Warden and his city, and it drives you all the way to a twisty-turvy end. The plot should be fun for any mystery lover to play at-home detective, and the setting will keep dark fantasy lovers enraptured. Writing is from first person, past tense, and commands a strong voice. You can read an excerpt of the first 7 chapters on the author's website to see if it's your cuppa.
The city of LOW TOWN is a character within itself, and the setting was my favorite part of the book. It's a gritty, urban landscape. Those who appreciate more contemporary fantasy will find much to love about LOW TOWN's modern tone. While the fantastic and magical is present, it is not the focus of the book. Traditional fantasy lovers should be warned that you'll find no elves or spell-slinging wizards in LOW TOWN, and if you do, they are periphery at best.
At the end of the day, LOW TOWN was fun. From beginning to end, it pushed me to read. I had to know what happened next to The Warden. I had to know if I'd guessed right about who-dun-it. That compulsion to turn the page is what turns a good book into a great book. LOW TOWN kept me up late at night and made me forget to eat. It's bloody brilliant.
Content Warning: PG-13 (violence, language, drug use, mature themes)
(No Spoilers) CLARITY is an excellent debut novel. Lovers of both young adult and mystery genres should enjoy. If you like a dash of paranormal, this...more(No Spoilers) CLARITY is an excellent debut novel. Lovers of both young adult and mystery genres should enjoy. If you like a dash of paranormal, this is definitely worth the read.
Clare Fern is able to see things when she touches objects, impressions from the past. Her family runs a psychic reader shop where they perform readings for tourists. When a young woman is murdered in a local motel and Clare's brother is a possible suspect, Clare puts her skills to use to catch the murderer. It doesn't hurt that the son of the detective on the case is cute and interested in seeing if Clare can really do what she claims.
The mystery is cleverly plotted and quite fun. Writing style is clean and precise. I enjoyed Clare and her family, all of which feel like real people with personalities, flaws, and emotions. Clare is a smart girl, and you won't find a lot of the typical teen-angst that permeates the YA genre.
There's a dash of romance between Clare, the detective's son, and Clare's ex who's still carrying a torch, but it's not a love triangle. It's more like a real girl and real boys dealing with their young emotions and relationships.
The pacing is steady and the plot drives readers along. My one criticism is that it felt too light and short. I would have liked more details about Clare, more time with her and her family, and more tension build-up for the end. I wish the author had dug deeper into the characters and the mystery, however, the fact that I had this wish and wanted to spend more time with the book should indicate how good it is.
(No Spoilers) "E" is for Evidence is the 5th novel in Grafton's Alphabet Mysteries / Kinsey Millhone series. Thus far each book's plot has started wit...more(No Spoilers) "E" is for Evidence is the 5th novel in Grafton's Alphabet Mysteries / Kinsey Millhone series. Thus far each book's plot has started with Kinsey being hired for a job. However in "E" the private investigator must unravel a case for herself: someone is framing her for insurance fraud.
"E" is a bit different than the previous books. It's more character-driven, bringing in the past entanglements of Kinsey's ex husband (mentioned briefly in Book 3: "C" is for Corpse), and an old high school friend--who might have something to do with the arson Kinsey was investigating.
As with all of Grafton's plots, this one is beautifully designed with strong side characters and plenty of red herrings to keep the reader guessing. What I love most is the attention to detail in character motivation. Grafton also excels at narrative description, placing the reader fully into a given scene.
"E" is a fun cozy where we learn more about Kinsey, something kept minimum in previous books that I was happy to see addressed. The slow unfolding of her history over the course of the series has been a pleasure to read. As a standalone, "E" delivers with its quick pacing and well-crafted plot. It was a bit on the short side, and I wished for more immediate content rather than long descriptions (though expertly done) of settings we visit only once. A bit more Kinsey is always preferred.
If you're looking for a light mystery with a realistic P.I heroine, the Alphabet Series is for you. Those who have read "A to D" will appreciate the character focus of "E" and those who pick it up as a standalone will not be disappointed!
Content Warning: PG (mild language, some adult themes)
(No Spoilers) 'A' is for Alibi was originally written in 1982 by Sue Grafton as the first book in her Alphabet Mysteries series. After seeing the 'U'...more(No Spoilers) 'A' is for Alibi was originally written in 1982 by Sue Grafton as the first book in her Alphabet Mysteries series. After seeing the 'U' book smash bestseller lists in 2009, I decided I needed to read these. And, being that I'm neurotic about such things, I had to start at the beginning.[return:][return:]I love a good detective story. Grafton's main character is Kinsey Millhone, a tough chick P.I. operating along the west coast. The book is well-written with quirky characters, interesting locales, and a structured murder mystery plotline. There's nothing spectacular about the novel, it didn't rock my literary world, but it was a fun read from cover to cover. It was never slow or boring, and it kept me hooked all the way through. A quick read, entirely fun, and recommended at 4 Stars, and I will continue with this series.(less)
I'm not entirely sure what happened with 'B' is for Burglar, but I found it very hard to get into the story. The characters were still there, quirky a...moreI'm not entirely sure what happened with 'B' is for Burglar, but I found it very hard to get into the story. The characters were still there, quirky and interesting as ever, and Grafton's narrative descriptions still struck me as unique and engrossing, but I just couldn't find myself caring about the plot. It wasn't a murder mystery I could sit around guessing at, thereby provoking my interest as the pieces were revealed. Instead, the ending came from left field and accusations that were previously made are never wrapped-up. There's a rather important side character who is glossed over at the end, leaving me wondering what happened? Why? HOW?!
The book was good for a quick read on a rainy day, but it didn't blow my mind. Grafton has a gift for metaphors, they stand out without seeming like melodrama. She can describe something in a few sentences that would take less skilled writers many paragraphs. All in all, I will continue to read this series. I hope 'C' has a more engaging storyline.(less)
(No Spoilers) Book 3 in Sue Grafton's Alphabet Mysteries series starring P.I. Kinsey Millhone is a fantastic romp through the city of Santa Teresa, th...more(No Spoilers) Book 3 in Sue Grafton's Alphabet Mysteries series starring P.I. Kinsey Millhone is a fantastic romp through the city of Santa Teresa, the fictional setting in California where Kinsey lives. We learn more about the area, beautifully described by Grafton, and its denizens. Though Kinsey is full of voice and attitude as always, each character in this book stood out to me with their eccentricities and style. I loved Bobby, our "blond dame" substitute who hires the P.I. as in all good hard-broiled detective fiction, and his crazy-rich family. I loved the further development of Kinsey, her landlord Henry, and her love interest Jonah, all reoccurring characters I can't wait to see more of. The characterization in this book was excellent.
Grafton has a knack for metaphor and narrative description. Filtered through Kinsey's perspective, the author brings the world alive and keeps the reader sucked in. The mystery itself is beautifully plotted. I followed Kinsey through each step, making my own guesses as she went, and in the end felt rewarded by the results.
After not being thrilled with the previous book, I am delightfully surprised by 'C' is for Corpse. It's a fun little mystery with a great protagonist. I'm looking forward to the next book in the series. (4 Stars)(less)
An enjoyable collection of short stories from renown mystery authors. I particularly enjoyed the addition of fantastical elements, most of which were...moreAn enjoyable collection of short stories from renown mystery authors. I particularly enjoyed the addition of fantastical elements, most of which were not the over-used vamp/wolf supernaturals. Ghosts, banshees, and stranger things that have no name, all make appearances in the shorts. As this is a group of mystery writers, most of the endings have the twist that readers expect, though some may surprise you. I found that the authors NOT billed on the cover offered the best stories, while some of the popular authors were lacking.
A great read that demonstrates the craft of short stories while keeping the reader thoroughly entertained.(less)