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Monday, August 14, 2017

The Salt Line, Friend Request, The Essence of Malice

The Salt Line by Holly Goddard Jones is a dystopian novel in which the world has been severely altered by disease carrying ticks.  Cities and communities have retreated behind salt lines to protect themselves.  The borders that protect communities also separate them from the beauties of nature, confining them to strictly urban lives.  There are, however, always adrenaline junkies who are willing to pay outfits for a "safe" trip into the wilderness.

The ticks are terrifying enough, but they are not the only problem that an adventurous group will encounter.

Given the serious diseases ticks transmit, the idea of a deadly tick-borne plague isn't as far-fetched as it may originally seem.  The latest threat from these tiny, parasitic arachnids is not from the usual culprit, the black-legged tick, but from the Lone Star Tick which causes an allergy to mammalian meat--beef, pork, or lamb.  

Tick bites can be serious enough without having the horrors that occur in the novel, but it does make one remember the devastation caused by the plague epidemic that resulted from bites from fleas infected with Yersina pestis.  

NetGalley/Penguin Group

Dystopian.  Sept. 5, 2017.  Print length:  400 pages.

Friend Request by Laura Marshall.  

How would you react to a Facebook friend request from a person who died over two decades ago?  Especially if you still felt guilty over some callous behavior involving that person?

Suspenseful, but no truly likable characters.  Louise, a middle-aged mother who receives the request from the long-dead Maria Weston, is caught in a web largely of her own making.  The strands originate in the past, but continue in the present as Louise tries to determine who really sent the request and why.  

While understanding Louise's guilt over her role in the kind of meanness that often occurs in adolescence, she never comes across as admirable.  In fact, while her behavior may be understandable in the realm of peer pressure and the search for acceptance, there is no way to condone her actions which certainly contributed to tragic results.

Several twists and turns, and the conclusion surprised me.  

An interesting premise.

NetGalley/Grand Central Publishing

Mystery/Suspense.  Sept. 5, 2017; July 2017.  Print length:  384 pages.

I just realized that I never reviewed the third novel in this series, but it wasn't my favorite.  

So The Essence of Malice moves from Lake Como to Paris and involves perfumery (do you scent the hint in the title?), Milo's old Nanny, and murder.   

These novels are reminiscent of the Golden Age of the British Detective Novel and deliberately so.  Some of the rules involved during this period included complicated plots, a clever murder and a clever detective, little graphic violence, little emphasis on character development,  all clues should be available to the reader, multiple suspects, etc.  

Weaver's novels follow the general outlines with, perhaps, a slightly more modern approach, and if you enjoy Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers, or Margery Allingham, these novels should fill the bill.

My suspicions about Milo have yet to be confirmed, but hints are included.

NetGalley/St. Martin's Press

Historical Mystery.  Sept. 5, 2017.  Print length:  320 pages.  

All of these were read in July, but are scheduled for August 14.


  1. All the books sound intriguing. I'm especially curious about Friends Request. I've only read the first book by Ashley Weaver and I loved the writing style. I need to get to the rest of her books!

    1. The first book in Weaver's series is still my favorite. Like you, I enjoy the way Weaver imitates the 1930's detective novel style. And I love the covers. :)

  2. I'm a little iffy on Friend Request just because I don't enjoy reading books where it's impossible to like the main character, but I might give The Salt Line a try. I'm kind of in a dystopian mood at the moment. :)

    1. You might notice that I didn't really say much about Salt Line or Friend Request. :\


  3. Can't do the dystopian novels as I've said before, nor does the FB-related one seem that interesting, but the last one with its nod to old British mysteries would probably fit the bill.

  4. I considered reading The Salt Line until I saw mention of the word ticks. Not sure I'm brave enough to go there. Friend Request sounds really interesting. I've seen mention of that one around. Unlikable characters I can do if done well. I have my eye on The Essence of Malice. I haven't read the earlier books in the series, but from your description, I think I might like the series.

    1. The ticks are scarier and much grosser than real ticks, so I'd skip Salt Line. I was trying to be neutral about Salt Line and Friend Request. I gave them 3/5 on Goodreads, but wasn't really impressed with either book, although others seem to like them a lot more than I did.