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Tuesday, July 26, 2016

From Fantasy to Historical to Australian Crime

Catalyst Moon: Incursion by Lauren L. Garcia was a fun little adventure and the first in a new series.

In this world magic users are considered dangerous and kept secluded in heavily guarded bastions, only allowed out when they are subdued with hematite cuffs.

There are sentinels who are dedicated soldiers who guard the mages and on occasion take them out to use their abilities for the benefit of the dominant society.

We are not given much information about this dominant society other than it is very hierarchical.  The only information we are given has to do with the sentinels, the mages, and the role of religion.

We know there are 5 tiers to the society, but there is no real information about any of the tiers or about how the society functions outside of the little subset we have with sentinels and mages.

Kali, a crippled mage, is being transferred to Whitewater City by a sentinel escort when they are attacked by bandits who seem transformed into some kind of demonic state.  Kali and the sentinel who guards her manage to escape.  

There is plenty of action and some budding romance.  Another reviewer referred to this first book as a kind of prologue, and I have to agree.  It was fun, but there are more questions than answers.   Hopefully, the next book will provide a more satisfying explanation of why things are the way they are, give a more developed look at the society, and explain what is going on with that second moon.  And I liked it plenty well enough to want to find out more.


Fantasy.  July 14, 2016.  Print length:  292 pages.

The Sculthorpe Murder is the latest in the Stephen Lavender mysteries, and I've liked the two previous books in this series.

Set in 1810, these Regency mysteries feature Detective Stephen Lavender of Bow Street in London and Constable Ned Woods.

Henry Fielding, author of Tom Jones, became London's chief magistrate and helped found the Bow Street Runners (considered London's first professional police force) in 1749.  Stephen Lavender is a real historical character who was frequently mentioned in court cases in the early 1800's.  
The Sculthorpe Murder was inspired by two historical cases, and Charlton uses a combination of facts and fiction to allow Lavender and Woods to become charged with the investigation.

Charlton writes mysteries that concentrate on more than just dead bodies and has created two very likable characters in Lavender and Woods.  I look forward to more in this series.

NetGalley/Thomas & Mercer

Historical Mystery.  Aug. 30, 2016.  Print length:  318 pages.

Resurrection Bay, Emma Viskic's debut crime novel, is set in Australia.  

What I liked:  the setting -- in both Melbourne and the small coastal town of Resurrection Bay; a protagonist who is profoundly deaf and struggles to understand what others are saying; his ex-wife and her Koori family who give some insight into the struggle of native aboriginal peoples.

There are some humorous moments in this dark novel--but make no mistake, there is a lot of violence.  The story begins with the murder of Caleb Zelic's friend Gary, who was aiding Caleb in an investigation into warehouse robberies.  His partner Frankie is a 57-year-old former member of the police force and an alcoholic who has been clean for several years, but Caleb wonders how trustworthy she is after finding a bottle of Jack Daniels.

Caleb's information is often faulty because he must rely more on reading lips than on his hearing aids, and anyone who is not directly facing him causes gaps and misunderstandings in what is said. Caleb's problems are exacerbated by his unwillingness to admit to his disability; his attempts to appear "normal" cause additional problems when he refuses to ask people to repeat themselves or he appears to be ignoring people who talk to him.

An intriguing novel that sets a fast pace, Resurrection Bay has an original protagonist who is flawed more by his pride than by his deafness.  This is a case of who, as well as why.  The novel has plenty of tension with a mysterious villain, secrets and betrayals, and the uncertainty of who is to be trusted.

NetGalley/Echo Publishing

Crime.  Sept. 1, 2016.  Print length:  231 pages.


  1. Catalyst Moon sounds good!

    1. I enjoyed it, but it will be a wait for the next in the series.

  2. Hmm...another book with more questions than answers. At least with Catalyst Moon there's another book in the series. :)

    1. The world-building was a bit lacking in the history department. :) This is one of those books that could use a prequel.

  3. I'm definitely intrigued by Catalyst Moon! :)

    1. I love the cover! Oh, yes, I enjoyed the content, too. :)

  4. Resurrection Bay sounds really good. I don't read enough books set in Australia. I just have to be up for the violence when I read it.

    Detective Lavender and Constable Woods both sound like characters worth getting to know. I tend to read more in the Victorian era then I do in Regency, admittedly.

    1. I liked the idea of a deaf protagonist--although I wonder how successful that would be in a real world violent situation. RB looks to be the first in a series, so I'm curious about Caleb's next adventure.

      Ha! The only other Regency mystery series I can remember is the wonderful Julian Kestrel series by Kate Ross. I was devastated when she died so young.