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Thursday, October 04, 2012

Catching Up with Reviews

Five from the last two months:

Night Watch by Linda Fairstein was a disappointing ARC.  Usually, Fairstein's books are interesting and enjoyable, but this one from the very beginning seemed uncertain about the path the novel wanted to.  Alexandra's French boyfriend Luc has never been a strong point for me, but Alex doesn't come off the page in this novel either.  The attempt to echo the real-life Dominque Strauss-Kahn (at the time, Strauss-Kahn was head of the IMF) scandal involving the sexual encounter with the hotel maid, didn't evoke as much interest as one would expect.

Fated by Benedict Jacka features Alexander Verus, a diviner mage, who is able to see future events and the multitude of  possible outcomes.  Fortunately, Verus can see all of these  events and possible outcomes with remarkable speed and thus make appropriate decisions.  Since his magic is limited to this unusual talent, he often has little immediate defense against the bad guys whose powers are seriously destructive.  First in a series, this novel never fully engaged me, but it remains to be seen if the characters can gain some depth in succeeding works.

The House of Velvet and Glass (ARC from Penguin) by Katherine Howe is another in the long line of novels with links to the Titanic.  From the press release that accompanied the book:  "1915, and the ghosts of the dead haunt a wealthy Boston family .. Sibyl Allston is devastated by the recent deaths of her mother and sister aboard the Titanic.  Hoping to heal her wounded heart, she seeks solace in the parlour of a medium who promises to contact her lost loved ones."

Actually, I didn't care much for Howe's first book The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane, but hoped for better on this one.   Frail hope--this one was long, not particularly involving, with one-dimensional characters.

Lonely Hearts:  A Charlie Resnick Mystery by John Harvey (from Net Galley) is the first of the 11 novels featuring Charlie Resnick (original publication 1989).  The writing has abrupt switches of characters and scenes and lots of unattributed quotes, but the characters had more body to them than any of the above novels.  I liked it well enough to want to continue with series for a while and see how it develops.

The Family Vault by Charlotte McLeod (Net Galley) is the first in the Sarah Kelling/Max Bittersohn series and was originally published in 1980.  It definitely has an old-fashioned tone to it and is somewhat reminiscent of Agatha Christie.  I wasn't nearly as impressed as Magaret Maron, who wrote the introduction.  And yet...I'm curious about how the relationship with Max Bittersohn develops.  As with the Charlie Resnick series, my curiosity about the way the  series develops may lead me to at least one more.

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