Ed Gorman is a prolific writer, specializing in crime, mysteries, westerns, and horror and methinks he enjoys combining those genres from time to timeEd Gorman is a prolific writer, specializing in crime, mysteries, westerns, and horror and methinks he enjoys combining those genres from time to time. This novel certainly has all the trappings of a classic western story but it has major elements of crime and even a bit of horror thrown in. Call it “western noir.”
The plot is more realistic than you typically find in western novels. Even though it’s told in first person POV, the protagonist isn’t very good at bragging about himself. While he does have honorable tendencies, this gets crowded out by his motivation for revenge, even at the expense of his own well-being. He isn’t a gunfighter or the typical square-jawed, narrow-waisted, stranger come to save the town from the bad guys. Instead he is sort of a dim-bulb farmer’s boy, being duped by the conniving rascals that he has pitted himself against time after time.
This sounds like a recipe for a disastrous novel but Ed Gorman is a great storyteller and the story here is a good one. I liked the easy-going, page-turning style and as soon as I realized this wasn’t going to be the “typical” western novel, and be burdened by predictable outcomes, I settled in for a great read. This is without a doubt the best “western” novel I’ve read in the past several years although I hate to pigeonhole it with that moniker. I’ll definitely be seeking out more Gorman in the future. ...more
This novel was a bit of a surprise for me. I’ve read Stephanie Barron before and I always have the same experience: the novels start out a bit slow anThis novel was a bit of a surprise for me. I’ve read Stephanie Barron before and I always have the same experience: the novels start out a bit slow and I have a difficult time getting into them. This, I feel, is partly due to the style of the narrative, a little more “literary” than I usually read. But then, I keep at it and the plot starts to develop and the characters start to come to life and by the end, I sit back and feel the need to take some time to reflect on what I’ve just read. The same thing happened with this novel.
There are two levels of mystery here. The story takes place in 1861, during the early years of Queen Victoria’s reign. The street level mystery revolves around a series of deaths, potentially murders that seem to be tied to the Irish barrister, Patrick Fitzgerald, whom Queen Victoria has summoned to deal with the after effects of the death of her consort, Prince Albert. All paths seem to lead to Fitzgerald in one way or another. At the same time, a much larger mystery, grander in scope, is occurring. This involves the Queen herself and the genetic flaw of hemophilia she passed to three of her children. This leads to questions on how the flaw has genetically transferred from one generation to another and how she herself is involved with its transmission…and ultimately to major questions on her parentage and right to rule.
Most chapters are told from Fitzgerald’s point of view but we do have quite a few from Victoria’s herself. There are quite a few characters sprinkled throughout and I found it confusing from time to time, trying to keep them all sorted. The ending really saved the book for me (5 stars there) but my struggles through the first three quarters will not permit me to grant more than three and a half stars for the whole. ...more
The second of the four swashbuckling sky-pirate fantasy/sci-fi adventure novels is just as good as, if not better than, the first novel, Retribution FThe second of the four swashbuckling sky-pirate fantasy/sci-fi adventure novels is just as good as, if not better than, the first novel, Retribution Falls. The adventure continues, but this time around we get to learn a whole lot more about the individual crew members. Every one of them has a secret or three but has found acceptance on board the Ketty Jay and it is their jelling together as a crew under the evolving leadership of Captain Darian Frey that makes this one such a fun read.
Fresh off the events of that first book, we find the scalawag crew trying to continue surviving beneath the notice of the law, by robbing an orphanage. Yes, you read that right. One must find one’s fortune wherever one can. But that brief attempt proves unsuccessful and the embarrassed crew moves on to bigger and better things, namely making a risky partnership with a rival pirate Captain and his crew. Together they go after a prize treasure that will lead to all sorts of dangerous adventure, backstabbing allies, revealed secrets, and a potentially catastrophic result. The return of a woman from Captain Frey’s past who just happens to be the current queen of the pirates makes for added fun but also some serious stress on the rest of the crew. Sounds like a three-ring circus of fun reading and it most definitely is.
I will say that a couple of the sub-plots were a little too predictable, most notably how Pinn’s subplot resolved and how Jez’s ultimate decision at the end of the novel was forecasted throughout the rest of the book. But no matter. The sheer fun of reading the adventure combined with the deepening nature of the crew’s interdependence (not to mention the intriguing evolution of Captain Frey’s character) all combine for a rousing good read.
I’m ready for book number 3, The Iron Jackal. We already have several clues for what that adventure will entail, based on the final few pages of this one. Should be fun! ...more
Many reviewers mark this as their least favorite Bond novel but I for one still found much to enjoy. It is the final novel in the series (two short noMany reviewers mark this as their least favorite Bond novel but I for one still found much to enjoy. It is the final novel in the series (two short novellas follow) and reportedly was written in Ian Fleming’s last year of life and in fact was published posthumously. Indeed, it is one of the shortest of Fleming’s novels and most agree that he simply didn’t have time to flesh out and polish the final manuscript.
The story begins with a rather bizarre segment wherein Bond has been brainwashed to assassinate M. That section is resolved pretty quickly and to be honest seems a likely candidate for a part of the plot that needed some fleshing out. But after that, M wants to redeem Bond in the eyes of the other leadership so assigns him to a relatively straight forward, albeit dangerous mission: to take out the dangerous assassin Scaramanga, who favors the use of a golden .45 caliber pistol for his dirty work. Bond trails his quarry and catches up to him in Jamaica, a locale we’ve visited before in these books and the main plotline takes off. The overall plot is a bit thinner than usual, meaning there aren’t as many side events or subplots as most Bond books but the main plot thread of infiltrating the criminal conglomerate by posing as a bodyguard for Scaramanga himself, is spot on Bond. The path to the climactic scenes are quick but work fine although here is another area that Fleming would have probably fleshed out given the chance.
Two more short stories to go in one final volume of the series. Looking forward to them. ...more
Despite the author's attempts to portray a realistic approach to a child struggling to endure while his parents pursue a divorce, he has failed miseraDespite the author's attempts to portray a realistic approach to a child struggling to endure while his parents pursue a divorce, he has failed miserably. His young protagonist tries to deal with his situation by having an active imagination. I applaud him for that. But the author of this book seems to feel that is the wrong approach. His bottom line seems to be that reading comic books is bad for you. They lead you down a path of sickness because, I guess, they aren't real...? He doesn't make any case for his viewpoint but is content to let the supporting characters simply say things like, "Uggh...you actually read that disgusting trash? No wonder you are always getting into trouble."
Not recommended for children or for parents (or teachers or youth ministers) to give to their children to read....more
While I enjoyed the first novel in Patrick O’Brian’s British Napoleonic-era naval series (Master and Commander) I confess to being a bit puzzled at itWhile I enjoyed the first novel in Patrick O’Brian’s British Napoleonic-era naval series (Master and Commander) I confess to being a bit puzzled at its overall popularity. It was certainly well written but the extensive use of nautical terminology made it cumbersome to get through without getting bogged down. I concluded that subsequent novels in the series would be at least slightly less cumbersome and allow the plots and characterization to drive the popularity.
Judging by this second book, I think I was correct. The nautical jargon is still present but substantially toned down and does not interfere with the numerous scenes of battle in the least. This book also adds a lot more plot based on the characters rather than the sea battles, and sheds light on the extremely complex system of promotion for naval officers in the age of sail. Despite the courageous and innovative actions of Capt Aubrey and his crew in the first book, he is not rewarded with the new level of command he desires or deserves. There are simply too many officers of similar rank and too few ships to go around. Add to that the temporary peace brought on by the Treaty of Amiens as well as Jack’s penchant for sleeping with other officer’s wives and Jack Aubrey’s career seems stalled.
This is one of the longest books in the series and much of it is devoted to what others have referred to as Jane Austin style romantic entanglements. Who should marry whom and what position can be gained from it…that sort of thing. Some readers complain of this but I thought it offered insight for both main characters as well as introduced some other characters which could, conceivably, continue on in the series. Perhaps the most notable plot element of the novel is a conflict between Jack and his best friend (and ship’s surgeon) Stephen Maturin which comes close to dissolving their association forever after. I imagine that when I look back after reading the entire 20-book series that’s what will stick out most in my mind.
At this point, I still prefer the Horatio Hornblower series, but this series is coming on strong. On to book number 3! ...more
I’ve been getting a real kick out of several different “Golden Era” adventure/mystery series for a couple of years now and the Sumuru series has probaI’ve been getting a real kick out of several different “Golden Era” adventure/mystery series for a couple of years now and the Sumuru series has probably provided the most fun. It’s sort of like reading a Doc Savage novel or one of The Shadow books; filled with action and intrigue and characters reminiscent of B-movies.
This third book in the series is definitely a step up from the first two. It finds Sumuru assuming yet another one of her numerous aliases, this time in her exotic Jamaican enclave. She is, of course, as diabolically evil as ever and intent upon using her ill-gotten fortune to advance her women-will-take-over-the-world agenda. This objective is, in her and her cult followers’ minds, inevitable due to women’s inherent superior cunning, intelligence, and most importantly, beauty. Simply marvelous!
The author, Sax Rohmer, is most well known for his Fu Manchu novels, written prior to these Sumuru books. I haven't read any of those yet but based on my experiences with Sumuru, I will most definitely be checking them out....more
Author Stephen England just keeps getting better and better. “Embrace the Fire” is the third full-length novel in the Shadow Warrior series and, amaziAuthor Stephen England just keeps getting better and better. “Embrace the Fire” is the third full-length novel in the Shadow Warrior series and, amazingly, it is even better than the first two books. That’s a difficult statement for me to make because I loved the first two. I’ve read a boatload of novels with a similar premise (present day, anti-terrorism, rogue CIA agent, etc.) and quite frankly I don’t look for these much anymore because they all tend to meld together in my mind. Usually, after I’ve finished reading one, I can’t even summarize the plot after a week or so.
But not so with this series. The action picks up shortly after the calamitous events of book two, Day of Reckoning and the ride, my friends, is as unpredictable as it is dangerous and exciting. This is a much longer novel than the first two books, and at first I was concerned that it would get bogged down with too many details, characters, etc. But it doesn’t read that way at all. There are quite a few characters to absorb and several subplots but they all weave together beautifully. It was really interesting to see the moral dilemmas faced by Harry Nichols, the main character, as well as others. I found myself making excuses in order to spend more time reading this book because I wanted to spend time with the characters and with the rapidly evolving and perilous situations they were facing. And the plot…oh, the plot! I certainly won’t be forgetting this one anytime soon. And the ending, while complete, tee’s up the next book in the series perfectly. I only wish that one would be available now… ...more