Second installment of The Retrieval Artist series follows ex-detective-cum-Retrieval-Artist, Miles Flint undertaking a possible case brought to him bySecond installment of The Retrieval Artist series follows ex-detective-cum-Retrieval-Artist, Miles Flint undertaking a possible case brought to him by Ignatius Wagner of the law firm of WSX (Wagner, Stuart & Xendor). It seems that Rabinowitz, a firm Retrieval Artist has died in what Ignatius considers sketchy circumstances. A cold virus. But not just any cold virus, this one is possibly the result of a Disappeared, scientist Frieda Tey (my brain kept wanting to call her Josephine because of the author of same last name.). To say she's mad would be an understatement. She's undoubtedly brilliant but is, as shown through the story, working on some next level batcrap crazy. She's the one on which our multi-threaded story centers. And it should because when we come in on the story, she's already got several hundred murders under her belt care of said virus she released into a population under a closed environment just to test that whole Survival of the Fittest thing & try to nudge human evolution to, her decided, appropriate next step.
It so happens that Tracker, Miriam Oliviari (trackers look for Disappeareds to turn them over to the authorities), is also on the hunt for Tey at the Moon Marathon. This is a race for extreme sport enthusiasts and pulls very high revenue for Armstrong Dome as a tourist draw. Oliviari is sure Tey is there under an assumed identity & is herself working undercover to capture her. And then there's Flint's former partner, Noelle DeRicci investigating a death at the marathon that leads to the search for Tey.
I really enjoyed this one and was really impressed that it takes place mostly in one day. Flint is still getting his bearings as a RA and I enjoyed the push off that former mentor Paloma gave him. It was for both their benefit. I'm even more curious about her now and look forward to what will be revealed about her past cases as the series progresses. Much of the story here is procedural and that's an aspect that I liked. To see the various paths of disparate investigations come together was satisfying and really made for good build up to a tight close. There were good questions posed about ethics in the pursuit of knowledge and also about how human perspectives can be quite broad depending on ones point of view (in this case, attitudes of what is right or wrong with human enclaves varied between those from Earth & those from the Moon, based on things like environment, scarcity of resources and emphasis of individual vs. communal goals/wants). Like the first book, it's an easy read but gives this reader other things to think about more deeply after I'm done.
Recommended and I will of course, be continuing with this series. I don't think these need be read in sequence, but I do intend on doing it that way....more
I was expecting a shocker of a thriller here given the summary & blurbs about its grittiness but after reading it... not so much. Both the summaryI was expecting a shocker of a thriller here given the summary & blurbs about its grittiness but after reading it... not so much. Both the summary & hype prompted me to buy this in hardcopy as it's not yet out in my country (a thing I will routinely do when I don't want to wait!)! Either I'm jaded or the usual reader's standard for shocking and cutting edge are at a much lower bar than mine. Or, in addition to having read too many mystery/psychological thrillers, I've seen so many Law & Order: SVU, DCI Banks & Luther episodes that I'm inured to what I was offered here.
I thought the veiled reveal of the horrors Annie/Milly's mother meted out on her victims was very well done. It was never gratuitous and always left me wondering. This may be the best aspect to the story. It was effective as these things are related to the reader through Annie/Milly.
Milly was the only well drawn character, unfortunately. She was the only one who was fully realized and with such care and attention that I have to wonder if the writer just didn't have any more left for everyone else. Mike, the psychologist treating Milly & also foster-father was flat. His best moment is when it's revealed he's been secretly writing a book on Milly & her mother's case. Saskia, the bored, drug-addled, cheating, long mentally absent wife & foster-mother was a ghostly copy of every other type you've read of this. I hoped we'd go deeper but that's not what she was here for. Phoebe, the beautiful, Queen B, bully daughter whose entire purpose on the planet seemed to be hissing, spitting & coming up with uninspired names to call people. Morgan, the girl who befriends Milly was a touch better drawn but even she misses the feels real mark.
I predicted the two big reveals and have to admit that I was disappointed. It felt like it couldn't have gone any other way even though I'd been hoping it would. It made for a terribly anticlimactic end. I'm glad I read Milly's story but if I could do it all again, I wouldn't rush to it....more
I've been wanting to get into a good romance for a while now (lately it's so hard to find something that's contemporary and not cliche) so when I sawI've been wanting to get into a good romance for a while now (lately it's so hard to find something that's contemporary and not cliche) so when I saw this, I pounced! Persuasion is by far my favorite Austen and is one of my all time favorite reads. As a proper Austenite/Janeite, I'm susceptible to falling for works that purport to be re-imagined re-tellings. A Thousand Letters did that and I'm here to tell you this... it bloody damn well isn't!
You know that wit Austen shows us when Anne's family are present in all their vapid glory? It's not here. You know that societal commentary Austen shows us in the urgency and precarious nature of Anne's singlehood (monetarily, familial & social)? Also not here. You know that absolutely heart-rending anticipation and worry she writes that has you on tenterhooks along with Anne that it may not all work out thereby damning her forever? Nowhere to be found here. I could go on but it'll only serve to annoy me further.
There are plenty of ways the author could have made the case that Elliot and Wade were at their last chance in life here but she didn't. The reason they part to begin with is that she's 17 and in need of finishing high school. Who in this modern age would advise a teenager that dropping out to marry is a good decision? Elliot's reasoning rings sound, Wade's immature and proof that, however earnest, he wasn't ready to marry anyone.
Fast forward seven years and our supposed last chance lovers are 24 & 26 or so (adding to the hard sell that is the "last chance at love" & anything remotely hinting at Anne type spinsterhood). Here's the thing, Elliot displays no signs of being anything close to being societally vulnerable (like Anne). She has a Literature degree from NYU, lives in her sister's tony brownstone & when she isn't nannying for her niece & nephew, she clocks parttime hours at a bookstore called Wasted Words (I laughed at the irony of that business name here!). This is not a woman living a life in the pursuit of penury also known as Student Loan debt. This is not the life of a woman that society at large and life in general is on the cusp of leaving behind in the rubbish bin of value. She doesn't have any actual worries pertaining to finances, social position or singlehood so fills up her time with angst over her lost love, Wade. That's the entirety of her life of quiet desperation. She quietly endures her family but that's window-dressing here and doesn't hit the mark Austen set. Elliot is imbued with none of Anne's pathos and resultantly comes across as a dim sap instead of a rootworthy heroine. Wade has his own problems & I don't have the inclination to go into them in detail here but suffice it to say, he's no Frederick Wentworth. The only thing they share is military service.
A few thoughts on setting here. I realize that it may be challenging in the modern age to give characters similar struggles to those offered in Persuasion. Still, there are things that are real that could be used to. A loss of financial position or job loss due to the collapse of 2008, for example could have been used to show Elliot with some sort of desperation when Wade reappears in her life. Having Elliot as a woman under a mountain of student loan debt who's facing eviction and economic downturn woes. Keep him military but have him as having made his fortune in defense contracting after his service would have given him a modern Wentworth-like characteristic. That would have given them opposites to play off of here instead of coming from class parity and pretty well being on par when they meet again. I kept waiting for the personal stakes of Elliot and Wade to be bigger and it was never capitalized on. It made for a disappointing read. Because truly, Wade's dying professor father & already dead mother in a terrorist attack was cheap. Its heavy-handedness annoyed me instead of pulling at my heartstrings. Another hallmark that there's nothing of Austen's deftness of story craft here. Beware the work that has a profusion of quotes from The Bard, Byron, Whitman & other poetic masters trying to bolster it & elevate its depth. It didn't work here. Melodrama and angst are not the same as sentiment and literary or emotional depth. I'll say this in the author's favor, she had the good taste not to mention Jane Austen in her Thank You.
If you've read and love Persuasion, skip this one. If you haven't read Persuasion, go read that instead of this. If after you've read that, you still want to read this, don't expect it to be a modern day re-telling as this is to Persuasion what Hershey's Kisses are to French chocolate mousse. Two stars because while I did not like it, I'm sure this book has an audience that will fall head over heels for it (and I really hate to give one star ratings). Not recommended....more
My goal for 2017 is to work in earnest on my ridiculous TBR pile (ebook & physical copy) with concentration on past publications. I'll still get nMy goal for 2017 is to work in earnest on my ridiculous TBR pile (ebook & physical copy) with concentration on past publications. I'll still get new publications in but the backlist needs some love too. This is an ongoing list of what I've read so far & hopefully this will help keep me on track too. Here's to a good reading year!
As I'm a big fan of all things scifi and most definitely all about shows like BSG (Battlestar Galactica) & Humans, I'm likely fairly predisposed tAs I'm a big fan of all things scifi and most definitely all about shows like BSG (Battlestar Galactica) & Humans, I'm likely fairly predisposed to like this book. I'm also one who has accepted that though the tidal wave of YA books is inescapable, those that stand out to me and capture my imagination are few. As an adult, I don't have as much time left on the planet as I did when I was in the YA targeted teenager, so I need to make my reading time really count. Defy the Stars was definitely worth the three days it took me to read it.
Noemi Vidal is winsome and I enjoyed watching her evolve over the course of the story. She begins as a soldier of Genesis who will give her life to save her world & fight any enemy that poses a threat. She ends as a soldier of Genesis who will give her life to save her world & challenge the threat the world has become to itself. The experiences she has in between are what pulled & shaped her and I found it well done. She lost a friend, made more in places unexpected and saw things she never imagined. I enjoyed seeing the worlds on the Loop with her.
And then there's Abel. Skynet should be so lucky. Abel's not just self-aware. Thirty years of accidental isolation have given him unexpected and interesting abilities & characteristics. He's not human but he has humanity. Abel's definitely a person. And he also has some of the best insights and lines in this book while still maintaining sincerity and innocence.
"Some aspects of humanity were programmed very badly." - Abel
Too true and that is on display here. There's a bio-weapon gone awry, terrorist bombings by a cell of Remedy (a loosely connected group opposing Earth's tyranny), planetary disparity & a Nobel Prize winning scientist that is, in my estimation, damned near mad with his long game plan to circumvent mortality. On the upside, we do get to see the best of humanity on display here also and as in life, so it is in books, they are always a welcome surprise & I look forward to seeing more of them in the next book.
Random thoughts & observations:
1) Rare is the book that makes me realize I need to watch a movie but that happened here & I seriously need to check out Casablanca. I think I'd have been more moved by the references herein.
2) I'm all in on the personhood of Abel but I don't know if he's feeling love for Noemi. I mean, what sentient being wouldn't glom onto the first other sentient being they've been around after 30 years of complete isolation? Still, I liked how this thread was handled. Very deft.
3) The Queen mech choosing to remove her upgrade or as Abel put it, "chose to be something instead of someone", didn't quite work for me for reasons having to do with sentience & abilities of mechs not like Abel, as laid out. Still, it's one small thing in a lot of good.
Definitely recommended. If you're like me & don't go for a lot of YA but you do love science fiction, give this one a read.
I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for my honest review....more
This close look in at a group of financially privileged students who attend a high school in Mill Valley CA & their teachers was pretty lush. AllThis close look in at a group of financially privileged students who attend a high school in Mill Valley CA & their teachers was pretty lush. All the characters were written with brilliant insights and equally stunning blindness. The teens were given so much but not enough. They didn't have enough expected of them yet caved and wilted under the enormous expectations of them. The parents and teachers were either absent or too close in the wrong ways. Everyone's true lives and selves were excruciatingly on display yet obscured. They all burn bright and are tight black holes where light can't penetrate.
The dichotomy of being a teenager isn't just what's lain out here, it's that of being a human being in this modern age. A world where feverish online interaction of likes & friending has never equated to a real life true friends. Where caprice can amplify words & reposts on a screen carry over into the real world where real feelings are felt. Where a litany of posts of care & love don't even translate to a real world visit when you've almost died. These teenagers were like gladiators hurting and trying not to be hurt at every turn. It took the majority of them to learn over the course of years what Tristan Bloch learnt from them earlier on. That insecure & thoughtless people aren't to be trusted with hearts. They don't know what to do with them so will likely mistreat and break them, so put down that silver tray upon which you were about to offer yours up to them.
Each chapter is from the POV of a character so here they are ( students only but I'm not telling you their names so as not to spoil):
The Note- The one who broke my heart early on. Done in by a cruelty he didn't understand & wasn't equipped to parse or deal with.
The Pretty Boy. The predator who eventually becomes prey.
The Sleeping Woman. The catalyst, then a virtual ghost who in the end awakens to likely reinvent herself yet again at some uni on the East Coast. The one who wants to repent and atone but doesn't know how or to whom.
The Lover. The over-achiever who hits all the marks from academics to sports and still can't get her parents' attention but does get attention from another adult.
The Dime. The beautiful one with no friends, as her silence is perceived as loftiness & arrogance.
The Striver. The over-managed one who, in a final gambit to make his parents' dreams for him come true goes to illegal and wholly understandable lengths.
The Dancer. The soaring bird streaking across the sky that doesn't realize until she's fallen that gravity applies to her too.
The Ride. The slacker who realizes too late that while he was earnestly in ennui everyone else is probably going to not just pass him by but leave him behind.
The Artist. The smooth dealer who hides his intellect from others and uses it to run cons and criminal entrepreneurial endeavours.
This book also made me think about teachers in a way I never had before. I'm more impressed and confused than ever about this group of people who choose to spend their lives in the pursuit of pedagogy & mentoring in a place that most people couldn't wait to escape and never look back. They don't remain there after they graduate, they willingly return to this place & it isn't because the pay is great. Madness. Sublime and beautiful madness. Beth was a tertiary figure but was I thought the best drawn of the bunch here. I felt her portrayal was believable and expressed all the pathos that I didn't get from Molly or Doug's.
While there's plenty to engage with here, there isn't a lot in the way of rootable characters or happy endings (the only two who have them were the least objectionable or culpable in the initial incident) & I thought that was a positive. I did like all of the endings or not and they varied on level of bleakness or hopefulness. This book gave me anxiety and a nervousness that made me all the more glad it was my treadmill book so that I could burn it off. The heights and depths of teenage viciousness is obvious but this also highlights the damage they do to themselves with those acts. This book also has interesting things to say about social media and from what I've seen in the book and real life, teenagers are not the only ones doing it wrong.
In some ways this reminded me of last year's Those Girls by Lauren Saft. Just like that book, people don't necessarily become better people after they do bad things, they just come out on the other side and it's on to the next thing. Real. Definitely recommended. ...more
I've been on a serious science fiction binge of late because... reality, but I've been determined not to fall into a genre rut. The Disappeared is theI've been on a serious science fiction binge of late because... reality, but I've been determined not to fall into a genre rut. The Disappeared is the first in The Retrieval Artist series has just made that determination waver. This story was addictive and I mean in that way that not only is it a page turner but also I felt a bit resentful when I had to put it down and do other things. I literally woke up with my tablet in my hand because my body finally got its way in the middle of the night and sleep overtook me. I want to read the entire series straight through.
This is the story of how Miles Flint, a detective, becomes a retrieval artist. In the future, humanity has colonized the Moon and Mars and has interstellar agreements with three alien species (Disty, Wignan & Rev). Flint and his partner Noellle DeRicci have cases land in their laps of humans who've run afoul of the aliens laws and are due to be handed over. The problem is that all the offenders are literally the titular Disappeared. They've paid a service to give them new identities as a way to abscond from their sentences. It's a complex legal landscape here where sentence can be levied on the child of an offender, a lawyer who defended a repeat offender is now liable criminally for his crimes & the penalty for teaching one of a particular alien race human language costs the teacher their tongue. The police on the Moon in Armstrong Dome are tasked with following the law as proscribed and handing people over and this proves to be the problem for our detectives here. Basically, the perspective of humans is primary here so all the penalties are seen as excessive & inhumane.
I was invested in the outcome of each situation and I felt the world-building was well done. I do have to say that the offender who was guilty of clearing what she thought were trees to expand her residence of an alien planet only to find that she'd wiped out several sentient beings and thousands of other beings that nested in them was fairly unsympathetic. I just didn't want her child to suffer for her deeds. The writing here just seemed like the lives lost didn't need to be paid for because she was a human being. Not a good look. Still, I liked the resolution.
I only want more of this universe even though its a bit of a grim future. Honestly, unless the aliens are trading the cure to all mankind's physical maladies and also the answer to universal peace and total prosperity, I can't believe whatever is being traded is worth the cost. I look forward to finding out more about the politics & trade situation. Definitely recommended as it was as good a police procedural as it was a science fiction story. Definitely hit a lot of my The Expanse feels....more
When I'm introduced to a character that is eyeing a window in a restaurant bathroom and sizing it up to see if she can manage to get her 75 year old sWhen I'm introduced to a character that is eyeing a window in a restaurant bathroom and sizing it up to see if she can manage to get her 75 year old self out of it to escape a surprise party in her honor, I have no choice but to love her. And so, Florence Gordon had my adoration. She has almost an excess of personality and she brooks no fools. I never had grandmothers when I was a child so I've have a mental list of who I thought would make neat ones from books & television. Murphy Brown, Murphy's mother, Avery Brown, Diana Trent... my list goes on and now has Florence.
This was a fast read with wit and insight. Florence has done her bit for feminism in her lifetime but if her family (son, daughter in-law, granddaughter & estranged from everyone,grandson) are any indication, she's had to sacrifice her family in the service of the good fight. They're all members of a family who don't truly interact in the ways they most need too. Everyone's yearning for more but remain quite closed off from one another in some of the most meaningful ways. Still, through it all, I was intrigued and invested in how everything from Florence's memoir to all the family stuff would all resolve itself. Abruptly is the answer here and I could have gone another fifty or so pages to satisfy me with a more in depth closure.
Definitely recommended. Not since I read (& loved) Gloria by Keith Maillard have I been so very taken by a man penning a woman so deftly. ...more
This is about a 2.5 star book for me. I very much liked the opening of the story and the POV of the murder victim in the moments of her demise. I quitThis is about a 2.5 star book for me. I very much liked the opening of the story and the POV of the murder victim in the moments of her demise. I quite liked the POV of the killer and thought the author deftly obscured their identity while giving the reader a glimpse into their mind. Main character Jayne is our typical cozy mystery heroine in that she's got a knack for nosing and also has a bit of a winsome personality so a reader can't help but root for her. Jayne has a deceased officer brother and a mother suffering from Alzheimer's, so she's definitely someone I wanted to see have a win here. Enter Danny, survivor's guilt ridden, ex-partner of deceased officer brother and we've got the suspense with a dash of romance. All the elements were here for something really great but it added up to middling, at best. It's a comparatively short book so would do if looking for something to while away some hours but in all honesty reader, if you missed this one, you won't have missed much in your lit life....more
There's so much to say about this book because it propelled me on a rollercoaster that had me laughing, rolling my eyes & yelling at the characterThere's so much to say about this book because it propelled me on a rollercoaster that had me laughing, rolling my eyes & yelling at the characters throughout, but I truly don't want to put out a bunch of spoilers. So what's left to say? This is a very well done book and I enjoyed it immensely.
Once or twice a year, I come across a book that gives me a look in at characters that is so uncomfortable in its bare honesty that I am both repelled and pulled in. In this way and especially as the mains here were women who seemed determined to self-sabotage, it reminded me of Hausfrau by Jill Alexander Essbaum. All the pain & frustration with more hope in the end than I thought Lady nor S deserved. The themes of repetition and becoming the thing you've railed against and hated was strongly written. The descriptions of LA and it's otherwordly expanse and inhabitants were done beautifully. Also worth mention here, I really loved the pastel hued cover.
It's like everyone in this book is running two versions of themselves & you can't differentiate which is real & which is the Sim. Lady & S are deftly rendered & their lives yin/yang but also parallel along the way. Seth, though, was the one I was most interested in & he didn't even get a POV. He didn't need a POV to come through as a strong character & that was excellent. Points to the author for enlightening me on selective mutism as I'd never heard of it at all. Blistering, witty & hits the pain feels but is also so unerringly Cali this reader was transported.
Definitely recommended & a favourite. If you're a fan of literary fiction, LA settings or looking for your next Hausfrau-type read, this is worth a look.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.
Expected publication: May 9th 2017 by Hogarth...more