Sitka PI Cecil Younger is asked by his former lover, Hannah, to help a woman who was raped while working at a labor camp. Before he can do much, she iSitka PI Cecil Younger is asked by his former lover, Hannah, to help a woman who was raped while working at a labor camp. Before he can do much, she is killed. Straley is a fine writer, but there was a bit too much non-essential detail on mining and ecology for my taste. Good to see Younger on the wagon and always enjoy his interactions with his mentally challenged roommate, Todd....more
Furutani's Samurai mystery series is one of the most unique in the mystery genre. It follows a structure that is more often used in science fiction, tFurutani's Samurai mystery series is one of the most unique in the mystery genre. It follows a structure that is more often used in science fiction, the trilogy. Jade Palace Vendetta is the second installment in the trilogy, with Death at the Crossroads the first. The series' protagonist, Matsuyama Kaze, is a ronin (without a master) samurai following a quest in 1603 Japan. He has pledged to his dying master that he will find her young daughter who has been abducted in the feudal wars of the time. The clues to her whereabouts are slim indeed, but he doggedly pursues every lead over the course of several years. As he does so, he faces much adversity and many adventures.
As Kaze continues his quest, he runs across a merchant who is about to be killed by a rogue band of thieves. Kaze is a master swordsman and dispatches the group handily. At the time, merchants were viewed as lower class while the samurai were at an elevated level of society. Kaze is fascinated by this particular merchant because of his obsessive love of his wife, Yuchan. At the time, marriages were arranged and passionate love for one's mate was quite unusual. The merchant has ensconced Yuchan in a jade palace on his premises and appears to support her in a very luxurious lifestyle.
But, of course, all is not as it appears. Kaze has to overcome great evil, and he does so by following the samurai code. He never kills anyone who does not deserve it, but many people are deserving in this tale! The book concludes with another piece of information about the young girl he is seeking, albeit disturbing, which will serve as the new direction for his quest in the last book of the series.
This book is a work of art, in more ways than one. In addition to the excellent characterization and interesting plot, each chapter is preceded by a haiku verse that relates to its content. The cover artwork is gorgeous. I most appreciated how Furutani seamlessly wove in facts about the legends and culture of the time, as well as the unique moral perspective possessed by the samurai class. The prose is poetic and the book highly recommended.
Trained teams of park rangers respond to catastrophes ranging from weather emergencies to presidential visits. In this book, Anna Pigeon is assigned tTrained teams of park rangers respond to catastrophes ranging from weather emergencies to presidential visits. In this book, Anna Pigeon is assigned to a team that is attempting to rescue an injured “caver” who has broken her leg down in the Lechuguilla, a relatively uncharted cave near New Mexico’s Carlsbad Caverns. The injured woman is Frieda Dierkz, the dispatcher from Mesa Verde and a friend of Anna’s. It is felt that Frieda will find Anna’s presence soothing.
The only problem is that Anna is highly claustrophobic. The idea of venturing into dark, tight caves is anathema to her; and she struggles to overcome her own fear so she can help her friend. Frieda seems to welcome her presence, however, and confides that she believes her injury was caused by someone intentionally. As the team transports Frieda out of the cave, there is a huge avalanche. Anna finds evidence that this was caused by a human, not by nature. The stakes become higher when another caver is killed and Anna is shot at.
Every one on the team in the cave is the object of Anna’s suspicion, and she makes only one friend while investigating. Park officials are only too anxious to see her leave. Anna doesn’t always follow the rules, and she irritates many of the people in power.
Barr describes the cave environment lyrically. The descriptions are vivid; and despite Anna’s claustrophobia, she appreciates the subterranean wonders of the cave. Barr also emphasizes the concern that the cavers have for the environment, which cannot repair itself. There’s a funny scene where all the cavers strip naked to cross a pool. They don’t want to despoil the water with the grime from their clothing.
There’s more development of Anna’s internal character than in past books. Her fear of the cave is real, and her tenacity in spite of her inner qualms is commendable. One area that doesn’t ring true is the fact that Anna is a recovering alcoholic of 2 years and begins to drink beer and wine again with no problem. Most alcoholics would not be able to handle the return to drinking so easily.
BLIND DESCENT is filled with the details of the world of cavers, including the processes they use to traverse a cave and the awesome sights that may never be seen by other eyes. Despite the beautiful prose and the skilled characterization, the plot dragged during several points in the book. However, the heart-stopping action of the ending redeemed the book. Barr is a best-selling author, and this book a fine example of what she does well.