I'd been meaning to read this book for a while. I had heard people call it one of Hammett's best. When I noticed it on a friends bookshelf and he offeI'd been meaning to read this book for a while. I had heard people call it one of Hammett's best. When I noticed it on a friends bookshelf and he offered to lend it to me, I couldn't pass up the opportunity. It went to the top of my to read pile.
One of the things I loved about this is how Hammett plays with the convention of the mystery. I don't know if he was doing it on purpose, but to me, the story starts as a mystery novel and becomes a screwed up mess of people killing one another. The mystery elements remain as you can't be sure who killed who at times, but it seems secondary to the violence that permeates the story. The violence effects everyone it touches, including the narrator.
If I had to recommend a Hammett story for someone to read, I would recommend this one. People know the Maltese Falcon. They are familiar with what that story does and the precedents it sets. Red Harvest (and I love that title) is both seminal and much more unknown....more
I picked up the Concubine's Tattoo over the holidays with the plan of reading the next of the Sano Ichiro mysteries soon. With the start of the New YeI picked up the Concubine's Tattoo over the holidays with the plan of reading the next of the Sano Ichiro mysteries soon. With the start of the New Year, I delved into the book and found myself drawn forward. I was not disappointed.
The book begins in Edo, days after Sano Ichiro's return from Nagasaki, at the wedding between Ichiro and Ueda Reiko. The celebration is cut short when Harume, one of the shogun's concubines, runs out from the Large Interior into the procession of concubines and dies. Ichiro is charged by the shogun to discover the cause of her death, cutting short his expected month's vacation.
The book adds a number of characters to the growing cast of the series as well as continuing to develop previously established characters. Reiko is shown to be vibrant and assertive. She compliments Ichiro well and provides him with interesting challenges. Hirata's inferiority with woman of rank comes to light. Yanagisawa finds the love he always needed, though what he does with that love is an interesting matter. Midori, from Shinju, is reintroduced as an attendant in the Large Interior. Magistrate Ueda is shown to be a strong proponent for justice, but he has problems standing up to the demands of his daughter. Ryuko is a Buddhist priest who uses the Tokagawa bafuku to his own ends through the shogun's mother, Keisho-in, who may be a great fool or a cunning actress.
And these are just a few of the characters and portrayals. Each is distinct, allowing one to be distinguished from the other. I am interested to see what happens to this cast of characters over the next few books. If she continues to add, I am afraid that it may become unwieldy. I suppose I will have to read and find out.
The story is well paced, working out the conflict of Ichiro and Reiko's marriage, Hirata's struggle with Ichiteru - one of the suspects, and the overall investigation of the murder of Harume. The political tensions are much more present than in Way of the Traitor, returning to their previous levels, but Yanagisawa puts a new twist to his machinations and possibly brings about his own ruin.
The book is a great read, and it pulled me along strongly. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes period mysteries, the Japanese setting or a little political intrigue. I will be reading the next one soon....more
Now that I've finished Monk's Hood, I have found a new appreciation for Ellis Peters' work. After one death too many, I was expecting a rather staticNow that I've finished Monk's Hood, I have found a new appreciation for Ellis Peters' work. After one death too many, I was expecting a rather static setting that would seem to change, but in truth, it would really change from book to book. I am definitely the product of watching too many American sitcoms and am glad my expectation was not met.
The story begins with Father Abbot Heribert leaving Shrewsbury to a council being held to reassess the leadership of the Church in England. He believes is going to be replaced so he leaves any legal matters unsigned so the new Abbot could determine the course of things once appointed. In the meantime, the Bonel household was going to cede its holdings to the abbey in exchange for a quiet retirement. The contract was left unsigned by the Abbot and shortly after Gervase Bonel, the head of the household, was murdered by way of poison, a medicine called Monk's Hook made by Cadfael himself.
The book is filled with a wonderful assortment of characters. None of which are good or bad. They have their own strengths, aspirations and failings. Once of things I enjoy about the Cadfael stories is he passes very little judgment against others (Brother Jerome and Prior Robert being exceptions). We have a new assistant - Brother Mark, his former fiancé - Richaldis, the return of Hugh Beringer, not to mention a number others. Even the murderer in the end is a many Cadfael felt sympathy for and helps. Yes, there is a sense of right and wrong in these books, but the means to right are often rather unorthodox and thus enjoyable.
I would recommend this book to anyone continuing to read the stories of Cadfael. They would appeal to a mystery reader and perhaps a fantasy reader as well. Definitely someone who likes historical fiction. I know I am well hooked into the series now....more
I picked up Partner in Crime CDs from the local library. I've seen Jance's name about for sometime (she takes up over a shelf at the local bookstore),I picked up Partner in Crime CDs from the local library. I've seen Jance's name about for sometime (she takes up over a shelf at the local bookstore), and I'm trying to get into the habit of listening to books during my commute. On that note, I checked out the CDs and gave them a whirl.
To start with, the readings of Debra Monk and Cotter Smith were phenomenal. They were able to bring me into the story and the views of the characters. The tones of their voices depict the characters accurately. Monk, reading the 3rd-person sections, handled the challenge of the changing tones from the subjective voice of Joanna Brady to the more objective description well, switching her tone from one to another easily, making each distinct, though on a page they would all be a part of the same flowing text.
The story itself was engaging. The conflicts between characters were perhaps more engaging than the mystery. In fact, the end of the mystery was well telegraphed, not leaving much surprise over who was behind the incident. Even when the cause of the information leak on the witness protection program is traced back to the Washington State Attorney General's family, it did not provide a satisfying end to the mystery. It was not disappointing. The mystery was just not the exciting part of the book.
Perhaps the most engaging part of the story was the interactions between Beaumont and Brady. As Beaumont's history with Anne Rowland Corley and how it relates to Coshise County plays out, a second plot behind the primary plays out. I do not know if Jance was rehashing and building on story from previous Beaumont novels. Either way, the development of his scarring and healing from his relationship with Anne (and his developing relationship with Joanne) kept my rapt attention.
I am sure I could have started with a better book to get a sample of Jance's work. One that would give me either Brady or Beaumont, but for a mixture of two primary characters, I enjoyed it. It felt balanced, and I would recommend it to others looking for something light and quick to ready....more
I saw this book on the website of a local bookstore. I've been interested in learning more about the mystery and suspense forms for a while. The summaI saw this book on the website of a local bookstore. I've been interested in learning more about the mystery and suspense forms for a while. The summary caught my eye, so I went down to the store and picked it up.
I found the prose direct and to the point. Wheat organized the book in a format that is easy to follow and brings the reader the sought after information rather rapidly. The book does not skimp on details though. She is thorough with providing examples, explanations and reviewing information to reinforce her point.
Wheat addresses the forms of mystery and suspense separately, dividing each into four arcs. Once she is through talking about the two genres, she talks about different writing styles: Outlines and Blank-Pagers. The strengths and weakness of each are discussed in detail. I found this section to be particularly enlightening, as I have tried both forms in my effort to find my own rhythm. Her insight hit home.
This is a great book to add to a writer's library. I would not limit it to mystery or suspense writers, but those who seek to understand these genres for their own enrichment. For me, the book was a good buy....more
With the second book of the series, I found a book different from the first though still engaging and maintaining the central character of Brother CadWith the second book of the series, I found a book different from the first though still engaging and maintaining the central character of Brother Cadael. The book is centered around Shrewsbury this time. The contest of sucession between Maud and Stephen helps drive the story, but it does not overshadow the story or the character. It is certainly a part of the story, masterfully intertwined.
In the story, Brother Cadael has the daughter of a noted noble put under his charge. As the story progresses, you find the couriers for a secret treasury were waylaid. The body of one was unsuccessfully disposed of, while the other escaped. As the story progress, Peters keeps you guessing as to who committed the murder, making you suspect someone on one page ans respect them on the next.
The story was a quick read and a good one. I would definitely recommend this to anyone looking for period fiction. It would work for a fantasy reader looking to bridge over into another genre as well....more