Monthly Archives: June 2019

Amy Caudill’s Reviews : The Sign of the Nine

The Sign of the Nine by G.S. Denning
The Sign of the Nine (Warlock Holmes #4) by

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Amy Caudill‘s review

This fourth volume of the adventures of Warlock Holmes is the broadest sweeping narrative yet.  Out-maneuvering Pinkerton detectives, overcoming Italian Mafioso’s, and uncovering folktale selkies, are just some of the encounters depicted in this paranormal spoof of Arthur Conan Doyle’s illustrious detective stories.

Our story begins as John Watson and Warlock Holmes reverse their characters more than usual for this author’s version of the famous duo.  Watson, determined to find Moriarty and Adler, begins experimenting with introducing a 7% solution of mummified Persian sorcerer into his blood stream in hopes of inducing prophetic dreams.

Watson’s “dream sequences” populate every other story in this anthology of linked narratives, as Watson poisons his body and gains Holmes’ suspicions, under a drug-induced hallucinated state that shows him truths about Moriarty’s past.  Watson’s addiction leads to an even greater role reversal for the master of deduction (Watson) and the bumbling sorcerer (Holmes) who is forced for once to be the responsible one, and attempt to save Watson’s life and soul in the process.

But how does Warlock manage to accomplish such a task with his limited understanding of humanity and human interactions?  Holmes decides Watson needs a love interest of course.  And naturally he chooses the latest damsel in distress to cross their paths, Mary Morstan.  It doesn’t matter that Watson is not the least bit interested in her, not to Holmes. Because he has determined Mary will be John’s salvation, through a magical intervention that rocks the conclusion to this anthology.

G.S. Denning takes these well-beloved characters and molds them to fit perfectly into the new scenarios he has devised, while retaining enough of the original source material that they remain recognizable to fans of Conan Doyle. The author manages to seamlessly insert his own dramatic and paranormally influenced-material into the 1890’s vernacular, while his creations are at home discussing subjects of magic, sorcery, necromancy, and fairy tales.

While G. S. Denning is hardly the first author to imitate, or reimagine, the writings of the classic author, this book and the series are both a humorous and entertaining tribute, one I would recommend to any fans of either Sherlock Holmes or paranormal mysteries.   I award The Sign of Nine five stars.  I’m sad I have to wait almost another year for the next volume in the series.

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Amy Caudill’s Reviews : Summer Knight

Summer Knight by Jim Butcher

Summer Knight (The Dresden Files, #4) by

Jim Butcher (Goodreads Author)

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Amy Caudill‘s review

  

Summer Knight opens as Harry Dresden’s life is falling apart.  Reeling from the consequences of the last volume, (Grave Peril, which takes place some nine months before,) Harry is ignoring everything and everyone else in his life in his ill-fated attempt to find a cure for his love.  Susan Rodriquez was infected by a vampire’s venom, and one moment of weakness is all it would take for her to give into the blood lust and turns into a creature of the night.

Unfortunately, the world waits for no wizard, and the events taking place in the Nevernever and spilling out into the mortal world will soon distract Harry from his quest.  The debt Harry owes to his faerie godmother Leanansidhe has been sold to the Winter Queen, Mab, who wants Harry to investigate the murder of the Knight of the Summer Queen.

Meanwhile, the Red Vampire Court is after Harry’s blood and the White Council of Wizards may just be willing to sacrifice him to keep the peace.  Harry has both allies and enemies on the council, and is quickly running out of time to appease them.  The only chance the wizards have of avoiding all-out war with the vampires is for Harry to solve Mab’s case, earning safe passage through the Nevernever into the vampire’s territory, and doing so before Winter and Summer start a war of their own that could literally end the world.

This novel, fourth in the Dresden Files series by Jim Butcher, plunges the reader into a much wider world of paranormal politics and intrigue than is seen in previous volumes.  The epic battle in the clouds above Chicago reminds me of scenes from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, while the camaraderie between Harry and the Alphas, the pack of werewolf-shifters he befriended in Fool Moon, is reminiscent of other epic tales like Lord of the Rings.

I award Summer Knight five stars, and recommend it and the series to any fans of paranormal detective stories, and fans of adventure epics.

Happy Father’s Day!

This coming Sunday is the day set aside each year to celebrate the man that means so much too so many of us-Dad.  Where would we be without our fathers?  We may not always appreciate the advice or lessons they attempt to teach us, or eagerly jump into the chores they give us.  Still, dads have a way of letting us know they care in everything they do.

family of four walking at the street
How will  you celebrate your father this weekend?  Photo by Emma Bauso on Pexels.com

My own father passed away a few years ago, but I feel blessed that I had the chance to know him, not only from the perspective of a child, but as an adult.  And what a difference a few years made in my opinion of him!  As I grew older and raised my own children, I began to appreciate him all the more, for all the hard work and sacrifices he made in raising me and my siblings.

Towards the last years of his life my dad was more likely to have, and take the time, to tell us some of the fascinating stories of his own childhood, then some seventy-plus years past.

My father was born and raised in rural Tennessee, and received more education about farming, animal husbandry, and carpentry work than he ever did in formal schooling.  He raised wild turkeys, which I learned were actually capable of flight, and which he had to chase out of trees to get them to their roost at night.  He learned to churn butter, and grind pork into sausage by hand, by actually helping to provide for a large family of parents and siblings.

He left farming behind, and moved into the city, when he and my mother started a family, so that his children could have advantages he lacked growing up.  Many of the skills he acquired working the land did not translate well to our little suburb, but he adapted, and till his last year still tended a garden in the backyard, and helped family and friends with home repairs.

My father was not always an easy man to know, or communicate with, but in his own way he always showed he cared.  You could see it in his smile, feel it in his hugs, and tell in the look of pride on his face whenever he watched his grandkids.

I miss my dad, but I know he’s watching over me, and my family.  I hope we make him proud.  When I watch my husband interact with our children today, I am reminded that behind his sometimes gruff manner, he really does have the best interests of our children at heart.  He reminds me of my own father just a little bit, but that’s okay.

Thanks for listening to me ramble on.  The main point I hope to make is that fathers are special, and often underappreciated, so take this time to acknowledge everything they do and mean to us.  Above all, to all my readers out there, Happy Father’s Day!

Amy

Amy Caudill’s Reviews : Leverage in Death

Leverage in Death by J.D. Robb
Leverage in Death (In Death, #47) by

J.D. Robb (Goodreads Author)
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Amy Caudill‘s review

The New York City of 2061 may have flying cars and off-world colonies, but crime is still the same for Lt. Eve Dallas, the NYPSD cop with the tragic past, and her multi-billionaire husband, Roarke, who has a checkered past of his own and tech skills that make Batman look like an amateur.

In the latest volume of this long-running series by author Nora Roberts writing as J. D. Robb, our heroes investigate a family man who is coerced into committing an atrocious crime- going into his workplace wearing a suicide bomber’s vest.  The true villains think they are oh-so-clever, but get greedy and target multiple other victims, until Eve and Roarke find clues to their identities and then go in for the arrest.

While the main plot is thrilling as always, with lots of false starts and leads that don’t pan out and crooks that aren’t necessarily guilty of the major crimes; what I love the most about this series is the amazing continuity in the storylines.  This continuity is largely fueled by the large supporting cast of characters that surround the main power couple.

Minor characters come and go in background plot and occasional main storyline features, but their subplots extend over multiple books and long-term arcs for the series.  The addition of these extra characters as they grow, develop, and live their lives “off-camera” as it were, adds a sense of time and normalcy into the frequently fast-paced murder investigations.  Case in point: this novel features two men who are involved in the kidnapping of three different families, as well as bombs that kill eighteen people, and all the action takes place over three days.

While Eve and Roarke’s lives are exciting in the extreme, they would appear as static, superhuman but unrealistic facsimiles if the reader was not allowed to see their interactions with other characters; to see Eve complain about dressing up for an event with friends, to see Roarke’s love of hanging out with the e-geeks, makes them seem all the more human, and amazing.

I award this novel five stars and would recommend it to anyone who likes strong, female detectives, or police dramas that contain equal amounts of plot and action.