Here is a blog I follow regularly. I liked this post for a couple of reasons. There is the sense…


Drop By, But Be Polite

Reading books from Carol Ervin’s Mountain Women Series is like going back to a childhood home after a long absence. In this case, I am sure to have a place to stay. The Boardinghouse is book five in this series. Readers should not be discouraged by the bewildering number of characters, each with their own backstory because Ervin helpfully provides a guide in the front of the novel which lists all the characters the reader will meet. Each introduction has a few keywords indicating what the backstory will contain. Reading all the books in the six-novel collection is a good idea for fans of TV series such as Dallas.

Stephen King sends you an invitation to a party in Derry, Maine. You will recognize it by the envelope with the inscribed IT on the outside. Going to any party can be an exhausting activity. You enter an unknown environment and meet new people. You like some of them. Others, you don’t. But you do a little bit of work and fulfill social obligations. Listening to IT is like that. If you accept the invitation, you will meet a lot of characters, some of them may not inhabit the social milieu to which you are accustomed. But be polite, acknowledge everyone; each character contributes something. King would not invite characters who don’t contribute. It’s just that when you accept the invitation to the read, you must contribute something as well. Pay close attention.

Well… this works. Your household animals seem to have outsmarted you. In no way am I equating the younger members…

Simmy Doesn’t Like to Hear “No.”

Déjà Vu by Emma Clapperton is a very short story of delayed revenge. Celia was a young teenager trying to get over a bad relationship with Tom. Her best friend, Lainey knew better than to invite Celia and Tom to the same party but that hadn’t stopped Lainey from doing it. She assured Celia everything would be alright because she had invited her cousin Simmy to the party. Simmy would protect Celia from the attention of Tom. Once Celia saw Tom again, the attraction was so strong she left Simmy to enjoy the party with his cousin. Simmy didn’t enjoy the party and a year later when he met Celia again, it did not go well for Celia. Simmy stabbed Celia to death.

Dueling Almost-Cop Brothers

Land of the Brave by Tom Fowler is a mystery novella. It is a formulaic mystery with a by-the-book cop working together with a thinks-outside-the-box private investigator. Somewhere within the first third of the novella, the reader is secure in the knowledge that the two are brothers. Rich, the cop, had a friend, Jim Shelton, who died while working for a charity that focused on help for returning combat veterans. The verdict was suicide but, due to the close wartime relationship between Rich and Jim, Rich didn’t accept the finding and recruited his brother for a road trip to the scene of death where they would conduct their own investigation. The locals would not welcome the two and would employ the small town everyone-knows-everyone social structure to hinder the brothers’ investigation. Possible corrupt politicians and possible police involvement in a wrongful death are a given. Formulaic.

Run His Heart Out

The Ultimate Race by Tara A. Devlin is a short story about a race. In this case, you might even call it a human race because Max is running it to get his mom’s name on the top of a heart transplant list. His father had already died of cancer so for the sake of his younger sister and himself, he wanted to save their sole remaining parent. But there were special rules for this race. The way Devlin sets out the rules increases the disbelief and horror as each new rule is presented. Detailing the rules here would spoil the effect, so I won’t.

The Third Parent by Elias Witherow is a novel of extreme horror, fantasy, and a cry for social responsibility when bad things happen. Neighbors should help neighbors. Teachers should investigate situations where something is obviously out-of-whack. Parents should always be able to protect their children. The novel opens with the transcript of a 911 call. A situation has already gone too far so there is a plea for help. But this situation was beyond police help.

Chief Among Sinners by Lois K. Gibson is a crime mystery with a cover that promises revelations of secrets that are really not so secret in a small town. The story starts out strong with a murder in the first few pages perpetrated by one person that the reader will immediately suspect. A few pages later the possibility of one or two other suspects arises. Then the strong prologue ends and a lull occurs for approximately five chapters. This is where the author introduces most of her characters, something about their backgrounds, and the context that will move characters to interact.

I received an advance copy of this book from the author’s mailing list.

The Clearing by Patrick Kanouse starts out as a clear-cut mystery. Who shot William (Billy) Nimitz in cold blood execution-style on a winter night in Zion, a small town very close to the Canadian border? The shooting is described in chapter one. After following a series of mysteries related to different crimes, I found it interesting to read chapter one again after finishing the novel.