The Redemption of Althalus–David and Leigh Eddings

I first read this book about half of a lifetime ago. It was one of the first fantasy novels that I read (wait, surely that can’t be true!) Okay, it was one of the first stupidly-thick, can-be-used-to-club-seals fantasy novels that I read. It was described to me as nine hundred pages of Fetch Quests. (Gather your party, go to a place, do a thing; rinse and repeat, making sure to check in with the Quest Giving Non-Player Character often enough.) I don’t remember whether I thought that this was fair at the time, but that description has definitely influenced how I’m approaching this reading of the novel.

I’ve mentioned David Eddings previously when I reviewed the Belgarion novels: Pawn of Prophecy, Queen of Sorcery, Magician’s Gambit, Castle of Wizardry, and Enchanter’s End Game.

Author stuff: David Eddings was an American fantasy writer. His Wikipedia page is here and his Amazon page is here. Along with his wife Leigh (she is getting co-author credit by now–Wikipedia and Amazon) he wrote more than twenty fantasy novels, most of which were best-sellers. Their partnership is regarded as a staple of the fantasy genre.

Athalus, burglar, armed robber, is paid to steal a book by a sinister stranger named Ghend. Althalus sets off to the House at the End of the World where the book is kept. There, in the same room as the book Ghend described, he finds a talking cat. What he can’t find when he turns around is the door by which he entered.

By the time he sets out again, Althalus can read. He’s read the book and discovered that the evil god Daeva is trying to unmake the world. The cat, whom Althalus calls Emerald, is in fact the god’s sister, and she needs Althalus to prevent Daeva returning them all to primordial chaos. Althalus will teach her what she needs to know, which is how to lie, cheat and steal — ‘Whatever works,’ Emerald reflects.

Althalus is the first and foremost of a band of colourful helpers who will batlle Daeva and his bizarre, deadly minions. The existence of the world hangs in the balance in this glorious epic fantasy.

That’s pretty much it. And damn you person who is going to remain anonymous who fifteen years ago described the book as an epic series of Fetch Quests, as I couldn’t not view it in those terms upon this reading! Althalus is presented as a likeable rogue, but he is a thief, he is an (occasional) murderer, he fraternises and cavorts, and generally leaves people worse off! Dweia (Goddess of Change, sister to Deiwos (God of Creation) and Daeva (God of Destruction), for reasons absolutely unknown sees him as the saviour of the world, and spends two-and-a-half millennia somewhat falling to break him of his unsavoury habits. From there, it’s finding his companions, who are presented well-enough, but eventually (sadly!) become caricatures who occasionally don’t quite ring true. It honestly felt like the authors had the big plot points written, and wrote the bridging parts later. There is nothing wrong with this, nothing at all! But, it doesn’t quite integrate naturally in places. The motivations sometimes just feel a bit “off”.

It’s an easy nine hundred pages, mind you. There cast of characters, both main and supporting, are well-presented (barring some minor motivation problems, as mentioned above), and the mixture of literary styles is well done. Using the mental link between the members of the group and Dweia allows the story to nudge up against the fourth-wall at times, which generally works quite well. There is a heavy emphasis on the importance of stories, and the importance of narrative, which is quite interesting.

So, should you read it? Sure. It’s not the best example of fantasy literature, but it’s light, it’s enjoyable, the characters are fun enough, the plot is uncomplicated (a very nice way of saying completely linear with almost no subplots whatsoever), and the authors generally did a good job.

It’s available in hardcover, softcover, and is probably available in your local second-hand bookshop. Well, if you’re lucky enough to still have one of those!

Amazon linky:

Some Buried Caesar (Rex Stout) — A Nero Wolfe novel

Some Buried Caesar is the sixth Nero Wolfe novel by Rex Stout. It was published in an abridged form in 1938, and released as a novel in 1939.

I’ve reviewed Rex Stout novels in the past. Borrowing the author bio I’ve previously used: Rex Stout (mainly cribbed from his Wikipedia page) was an American writer noted for his detective fiction. He is best remembered for his creation of Nero Wolfe (more on him in a moment). He started his writing career with serialised novels in various magazines, which were not in the detective genre. He dabbled in crime, scientific romance, fantasy, and historical fiction, before settling into what would define his career. He was elected the president of the Mystery Writers of America in 1958, and received their Grand Master Award a year later. He received the Silver Dagger Aware from the Crime Writers Association in 1969. (His Amazon page.)

Nero Wolfe is an armchair detective of the Hercule Poirot or Sherlock Holmes variety. He is supported by his assistant Archie Goodwin, who also narrates the cases of the detective (playing Watson to Nero’s Holmes, of course). He is not portrayed as a likeable character–he is obstinate, obese, refuses to leave the house except under exceptional circumstances, drinks heavily, and is singly devoted to the study and care of orchids.

The title is a reference to Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, Act 3, Scene 2:

Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears.
I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.
The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interrèd with their bones.
So let it be with Caesar. The noble Brutus
Hath told you Caesar was ambitious.
If it were so, it was a grievous fault,
And grievously hath Caesar answered it.
Here, under leave of Brutus and the rest—
For Brutus is an honorable man;
So are they all, all honorable men—
Come I to speak in Caesar’s funeral.
He was my friend, faithful and just to me.
But Brutus says he was ambitious,
And Brutus is an honorable man.
He hath brought many captives home to Rome
Whose ransoms did the general coffers fill.

(I’m aware that I didn’t need to include the entire quote, but it’s such good writing that I hope that you indulge me.)

Nero Wolfe and his companion/bodyguard/private detective Archie Goodwin are on the way to an agricultural show where they intend to display Wolfe’s beloved orchids. There is a good reason that they are breaking Wolfe’s cardinal rule to never travel out of Manhattan, as he intends to win the orchid competition, thereby putting one over a rival. Unfortunately, due to a tyre blow-out, Archie crashes their car, and they are forced to walk to a nearby house to telephone for assistance. They cut across a pasture where they are threatened by a large bull. It is this bull, Hickory Caesar Grindon, that is the titular character of the story. The house that they travel to is owned by Thomas Pratt, who is planning an incredible publicity stunt for his chain of fast food restaurants by barbequing and eat the champion bull, Caesar. There is a tremendous amount of uproar about this, with breeders and stockmen aghast at the waste of potential.

The bull is implicated in the goring murder of a man, and then found to have anthrax in his system, and is quickly killed and cremated, thereby destroying any potential evidence as to whether he was responsible or not for the death of the man. Archie is vaguely interested in the outcome, as he was theoretically on guard when the murder occurred, but Wolfe has minimal interest in interfering, as he suspects that it will delay his desired return to the comforts of home in Manhatten. The plot develops nicely, with plenty of potential clues scattered about for the reader, and plenty of red herrings too.

Needless to say, with a tremendous amount of ego on the part of Wolfe, and hard work and effort on the part of Archie, the true murderer is uncovered, the local authorities are shown to be incompetent, and some minor romantic comedy is managed.

It’s fine. Honestly, it is. I stand by my previous assessment that the Stout/Wolfe books are quite even in quality, and a blanket recommendation is appropriate.

The Long Earth (Terry Pratchett, Stephen Baxter)

The Long Earth is the first in a series of books (three so far!) by renowned British fantasy author Sir Terry Pratchett, and British science fiction author Stephen Baxter. It is anticipated that there will be five books in the The Long … series.

Author bio stuff: I’ve reviewed one of Terry Pratchett’s books previously. He really is one of my most adored authors, and I cannot help but love the vast majority of the Discworld novels. I was quite surprised to see him venturing into Science Fiction territory, though he’s dabbled in it previously. I have, however, found the last few Discworld to lack the sparkle and magic that I had come to expect. This is almost certainly because “Pratchett was diagnosed with a rare form of Alzheimer’s disease called posterior cortical atrophy (PCA) in 2007, a condition where the symptoms root themselves more in the physical rather than cognitive.” (Source) The following quote is from Neil Gaiman, Pratchett’s collaborator on Good Omens, one of my beloved books: “Terry still has all of his faculties. He’s fighting Alzheimer’s, but he has a rare kind of Alzheimer’s which means physical objects no longer make sense to him, but he still has memory, and he still has a mind, and he’s still very much the sharpest knife in the drawer. But he couldn’t read the script, so I had to give him his lines. … And it was this very strange, sad, sweet, funny, odd moment, as the two of us sat in the car with Dirk’s lines inspired by a line that one of us had written 26 years earlier. With me saying my line first and then Terry’s line. And then Terry echoing his lines. It was a little moment for me and Terry. I don’t know if we’re acting terribly well, but it’s a moment that made me extra happy.” (Source) Given that, it was quite surprising to me that Pratchett was collaborating on a new series.

Stephen Baxter, Wikipedia page and Amazon page. I will admit to not having heard of Baxter prior to this collaboration. He writes hard science fiction (emphasis on scientific accuracy or technical detail), and has been quite prolific over the past two decades.

The basis for the story was from an unpublished short story by Pratchett, The High Meggas, details of which can be found in a collection of his short stories, A Blink of the Screen. The Discworld series took off, and the story was never pursued.

The Long Earth is a (potentially infinite) series of parallel worlds similar to Earth that can be reached by almost anyone who has build a “Stepper” device, the plans for which were released anonymously on the internet. It is believed that each of these worlds are present on some probability tree, with the defining changes occurring longer ago as a person travels further from the original Earth (or “datum” Earth). Humans in the form of homo sapiens appear to be unique amongst the Earths, though not the only form of sapient life. The story primarily follows Joshua Valienté, a level-headed young man who is a natural stepper–that is, he can step between worlds without the use of a stepper box. He is co-opted to an exploratory journey by Lonsang, an artificial intelligence who claims to be the reincarnation of a Tibetan motorcycle repairman. (I’m sure that there are references there to Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values that I’m missing.) As they explore more than a million parallel Earths they encounter other sapient humanoids (the peaceful “trolls” who carry their history through song, and the violent “elves”), as well as humans who discovered that they were natural steppers prior to “step day”, and an extinct race of dinosaur descendants. There is plenty of political commentary and social and scientific speculation on how humanity would act and develop if freed from the constraints of limited land and resources.

The book is good. Fantastically good. And I’m surprised. As I mentioned in my author bio section, Pratchett is sick, and his writing has been suffering badly as a result of that (in my opinion). But this book is strong! The pacing is good, the story is well-crafted, there are sufficiently many storylines interweaving with each other, and there is a good overall arc to the narrative. I’m sure that a lot of that is due to the strong influence of Stephen Baxter as a coauthor.

I really hope that Terry Pratchett remains healthy enough to finish the series. At the moment it is at three books: The Long Earth, The Long War, The Long Mars. The Long Utopia is scheduled for release mid-2015. The novels have been released on a fairly strict yearly schedule (second week of June each year). With Pratchett’s failing health, I don’t hold out too much hope, sadly.

Of course, the book is available on Amazon: (I read it on Kindle, but Amazon is still refusing Affiliate links to Kindle titles):

Too Many Cooks (Rex Stout) — A Nero Wolfe novel

Too Many Cooks is the fifth Nero Wolfe novel by Rex Stout (Amazon Link). It was published in 1938 as both a novel and as a serial.

Rex Stout (mainly cribbed from his Wikipedia page) was an American writer noted for his detective fiction. He is best remembered for his creation of Nero Wolfe (more on him in a moment). He started his writing career with serialised novels in various magazines, which were not in the detective genre. He dabbled in crime, scientific romance, fantasy, and historical fiction, before settling into what would define his career. He was elected the president of the Mystery Writers of America in 1958, and received their Grand Master Award a year later. He received the Silver Dagger Aware from the Crime Writers Association in 1969. (His Amazon page.)

Nero Wolfe is an armchair detective of the Hercule Poirot or Sherlock Holmes variety. He is supported by his assistant Archie Goodwin, who also narrates the cases of the detective (playing Watson to Nero’s Holmes, of course). He is not portrayed as a likeable character–he is obstinate, obese, refuses to leave the house except under exceptional circumstances, drinks heavily, and is singly devoted to the study and care of orchids.

Detective novels are difficult. There is an expectation that the author will provide the reader with sufficient hints and clues to solve the mystery. But, it cannot be obvious or blatant. There must be sufficient material, red herrings, that the reader is off-balance and cannot commit to a theory. There are authors (Agatha Christie and Arthur Conan Doyle, for example) who keep a little too much from the reader so that at the end of the novel you are a little frustrated that the clues weren’t presented reasonably to you. (There is an alternative explanation: I’m not very good at spotting the clues, and am somewhat oblivious!)

Nero Wolfe, detective extraordinaire, has been coaxed from New York by the only thing else he loves, gastronomy. The meeting of the Les Quinze Maîtres is convening in West Virginia, and Nero Wolfe has been invited to give the keynote speech, on the subject of American Haute Cuisine (possibly oxymoronic!) Sadly, cooks being the vindictive, petty egomaniacs that they are, one of them is promptly murdered. C’est la vie detective! Wolfe has little interest until a friend is arrested for the murder. He wishes to remain involved just long enough to exonerate his friend, deliver his speech, indulge in some light blackmail, and then depart for home. This, sadly, isn’t quite how it develops.

As with all of the Wolfe novels, the narrative is delivery by Wolfe’s bodyguard/gumshoe detective/bruiser/manservant Archie Goodwin. He has a good delivery, and enough humour and sarcasm to keep things moving.

Set in the 30s, written in 1938, the story is a product of its time. There is casual racism (this was West Virigina in the 30s after all!) and sexism. It’s eye-rolling-inducing, but raises the question of whether the time period should be factored into the review. I’m torn on this matter.

In small doses, Rex Stout and his quite objectionable lead character Nero Wolfe are quite enjoyable. I think I’ll drop something else into my reading queue before coming back to the series.

Recommended. Blanket recommendation on any of the Stout/Wolfe books, as they’re quite even in quality.

Three to get deadly (Janet Evanovich) Stephanie Plum 3

(This post was sitting in my Draft queue for months. I have no idea why I stopped mid-sentence. Completed now!)

Book three of the main storyline of Stephanie Plum, New Jersey’s accident-prone bounty hunter not-quite-extraordinaire, continues. The first novel was reviewed here, the second was reviewed in this post.

The standard author stuff: Janet Evanovich is an American crime writer. Wikipedia, personal page, and Amazon. She started off as a romance writer under a pseudonym, but came to fame when she moved to crime, winning several awards.

Story background: some recurring characters: Stephanie Plum, is a fugitive apprehension agent, more excitingly known as a bounty hunter. Joe Morelli, sex fiend, Trenton cop, Plum’s not-quite-boyfriend, and general good-guy. Ranger, whatever the male equivalent of a Mary-Sue is. Lula, bounty-hunting filing clerk. Connie, office manager, and generally described as a few inches shorter than Stephanie, a few cup sizes larger, and all Italian woman. Plum is on the wrong side of community opinion, as she has the unenviable task of tracking down Mo Bedemier, more affectionately known as Uncle Mo, a neighbourhood fixture. He has quietly sold candy and ice cream to generations of children, but has gone missing after failing to show up for court on a weapons charge. She is abused and reviled for daring to sully his reputation by chasing him down. However, the more that Stephanie investigates, the more fishy Mo’s angelic reputation seems.

It’s more of the same. Honestly, it is. And like I’ve said before, and will probably say another dozen times, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Nothing really stands out in the book. (If you check the previous post, you may note that I’ve been a bit busy recently!) It was fun, it was light, it was easy to dip in-and-out of.

I think this was the one that Ranger insisted that Stephanie go jogging with him if they’re going to work together. Now, this is definitely a vector for blogging discussion! I’ve been kinda-vaguely-but-not-really getting into the running thing over the past nine months. I ran the City2Surf in August last year. It’s 14 point something kilometres from the centre of Sydney out to the beach at Bondi. I did reasonably well on not a massive amount of training. I never feel like I’m particularly “good” at running, but there are moments where it almost feels like I have a rhythm going, and that I’m not going to die, and maybe this is a thing that I could do more often, better, for fitness and enjoyment. And then reality sets in, and I realise that I’m a sweaty, spluttering, staggering mess!

I managed to hit up Park Run during Winter. (There are international versions too, it’s definitely not just an Australian thing.) Five kilometres, community-run, it’s a good thing.

Anyhow. The book. It’s alright. Evanovich is finding her rhythm, the characters are developing, the story is still grounded in something approximating reality (the later stories veer a little towards slapstick in places).

Obligatory Amazon Links

Three to get deadly isn’t available on Kindle, but there is a box-set of the first three Stephanie Plum novels here: Plum Boxed Set 1, Books 1-3 (One for the Money / Two for the Dough / Three to Get Deadly) (Stephanie Plum Novels).

Films adaptations of books–an opinion of characterisation

This has been swirling around in my head for a while, and I currently have a stretch of time free and uninterrupted (in theory) to try to sort out some opinions.

The Lady of Shalott [of Tennyson’s poem] was of an indeterminate age and might once have been plain before the rigours of artistic interpretation got working on her. This was the annoying side of the Feedback Loops; irrespective of how she had once looked or even wanted to look, she was now a pre-Raphaelite beauty with long flaxen tresses, flowing white gowns and a silver forehead band. She wasn’t the only one to be physically morphed by Reader Expectation. Miss Havisham was now elderly whether she liked it or not, and Sherlock Holmes wore a deerstalker and smoked a ridiculously large pipe. The problem wasn’t just confined to the classics. Harry Potter was seriously pissed off that he’d have to spend the rest of his life looking like Daniel Radcliffe.

Jasper Fforde–One Of Our Thursdays Is Missing.

I suppose that’s a good place to start. Harry Potter will forever be Daniel Radcliffe. Hermione Granger will be Emma Watson. Ron Weasley will be Rupert Grint. And so on and so forth.

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(The providence of that picture is unknown, but for sure it is not an original piece by 9Gag.)

Until movie adaptations are made, the reader has to use their imagination. I read the Harry Potter novels, and looked at the cover illustrations, and the descriptions within the books, and an amalgamation of memories pasted themselves together, and the characters formed where unique to me. No one else shares my past and my memories, and so the characters are unique to me. The same thing happens with Lord of the Rings, The Fault In Our Stars, Twilight even; every reader had a mental picture of the story, and they were more actively involved, because their imagination was providing part of the story.

And now? Frodo Baggins is Elijah Wood. Gandalf is Sir Ian Mackellen. The Fault In Our Stars have the same actors as Divergent (another book adaptation), and the story melt together a little once you’re aware of that! Even Kirsten Stewart and Robert Pattison have filled the admittedly empty spaces that were Bella and Edward Cullen. (Interestingly, the character of Bella was deliberately left as blank as possible to allow the teenage female reader to more easily insert herself into the role.)

To me, this is something of a sad thing. Books are more of an interactive medium than a film. With a film, you are most definite a passive participant–the pacing is set for you, the characters are [i]shown[/i] to you, there is nothing that can be done by the viewer to alter the story. Sure, there is plenty that can be done afterwards with analysis, finding nuances, connections, dissecting meaning, intention, but the viewer is not a participant in the story. With a book? You can be Katniss Everdeen. You can be Scout Finch. You can shape the characters in your mind, because the author is giving the outline of the action, and you, the reader, are filling in the details with your memories and imagination.

Ice Cold–Tess Gerritsen (Rizzoli & Isles 8)

Ice Cold (or The Killing Place) by Tess Gerritsen is book eight in the Rizzoli & Isles series.

Amazon DVD and Amazon Play links to the TV Series. Click on them. Buy stuff. Rizzoli & Isles First Season (Amazon Play) and on DVD. Rizzoli & Isles Season 2 DVDs and on Amazon Play. Rizzoli & Isles Season 3 DVDs and Amazon Play. Rizzoli & Isles Season 4 DVDs and Amazon Play. Rizzoli & Isles Season 5 on Amazon Play. Enough of that!

Author notes in brief: Tess Gerritsen is a living Chinese-American author writing romantic suspense and medical thrillers, as well as the Rizzoli & Isles series. Her Amazon page, Wikipedia page, and personal page have plenty of personal details. I have previous reviews of The Surgeon, The Apprentice, The Sinner, Body Double, Vanish, The Mephisto Club, and The Keepsake.

Again, I wasn’t very good at keeping notes for this one, which is something of a shame, as this book was a reasonable departure style-wise from the previous few novels. Dr Maura Isles, upset at the difficulties of having an illicit love affair with a catholic priest, takes up an offer of an impromptu ski trip after a medical conference with an old school friend, his daughter, as well as another couple. Unsurprisingly, things go quite wrong, with the car getting stuck in a snowstorm. They seek shelter at Kingdom Come, a religious community (a cult) that appears to have been very recently, very suddenly, abandoned.

Further disasters occur, with medical emergencies, one of their number trying to ski out for help, the inevitable “are we truly alone?” fears in this abandoned community, plus determining the truth behind the abandonment.

Up to this point, Detective Jane Rizzoli has nothing to do. This changes with news reaching Boston that the car has been found off the side of a cliff, with the burnt remains of Isles and her companions inside. Needless to say, this is just a red herring, but the local law enforcement and community, as well as the powerful religious leader (cult!) are determined to prevent the questions.

Stylistically, it’s a shake-up from the past few books, which is a point in its favour. It’s difficult to separate reviewing the book on its own merits from reviewing the book as part of the ongoing series. Each novel is sufficiently self-contained that a reader can pick up one at random and get the story and the backgrounds of the characters.

The Keepsake–Tess Gerritsen (Rizzoli & Isles 7)

The Keepsake (or Keeping the Dead, depending on which region you’re in) by Tess Gerritsen is book seven of her Rizzoli & Isles series.

Amazon DVD and Amazon Play links to the TV Series. Click on them. Buy stuff. Rizzoli & Isles First Season (Amazon Play) and on DVD. Rizzoli & Isles Season 2 DVDs and on Amazon Play. Rizzoli & Isles Season 3 DVDs and Amazon Play. Rizzoli & Isles Season 4 DVDs and Amazon Play. Rizzoli & Isles Season 5 on Amazon Play. Enough of that!

Author notes in brief: Tess Gerritsen is a living Chinese-American author writing romantic suspense and medical thrillers, as well as the Rizzoli & Isles series. Her Amazon page, Wikipedia page, and personal page have plenty of personal details. I have previous reviews of The Surgeon, The Apprentice, The Sinner, Body Double, Vanish, and The Mephisto Club.

I have only moments previous put down my Kindle to write these notes, yet I’m struggling to form sentences to describe the book.

It feels awful to say, but it is kind of more of the same. It’s not bad, but nothing outstanding. Dr Maura Isles disappears from the last fifteen of the narrative. Detective Jane Rizzoli is kept in the background until needed to advance the plot. Isles’ affair with the catholic pries Fr Brophy advances to its inevitable doom. Detective Barry Frost, who is yet to develop as a character suffers marital troubles, which comes across as some clumsy social commentary from the author. Or possibly just a weak effort regarding some character development. The problem is the story never returns to this particular subplot!

We open with a media circus surrounding a CT scan of an Egyptian mummy. Dr Isles is there only as an observer. She is drawn in more significantly when the scan shows the mummy is a murder victim mummified! The archaeologist Jennifer last-name-unimportant, appears to be the target of a deranged personality, as a shrunken head, followed by a peat bog body appear; all creative disposals of murder victims.

Aside: I studied the poetry of Seamus Heaney at school. He wrote on many subjects, of course, but is well-known for his compositions on peat bog bodies of Ireland. There you go.

The book is fine. Honestly. It’s solid detective fiction, I’m just being finicky and picky. (So unusual, that!)

The Mephisto Club–Tess Gerritsen (Rizzoli & Isles 6)

The Mephisto Club is book six of the Rizzoli & Isles series of books by Tess Gerritsen.

Amazon DVD and Amazon Play links to the TV Series. Click on them. Buy stuff. Rizzoli & Isles First Season (Amazon Play) and on DVD. Rizzoli & Isles Season 2 DVDs and on Amazon Play. Rizzoli & Isles Season 3 DVDs and Amazon Play. Rizzoli & Isles Season 4 DVDs and Amazon Play. Rizzoli & Isles Season 5 on Amazon Play. Enough of that!

Author notes in brief: Tess Gerritsen is a living Chinese-American author writing romantic suspense and medical thrillers, as well as the Rizzoli & Isles series. Her Amazon page, Wikipedia page, and personal page have plenty of personal details. I have previous reviews of The Surgeon, The Apprentice, The Sinner, Body Double, and Vanish.

Okay, again I was a little slack and didn’t take good notes for this one. We are back in Boston with homicide detective Jane Rizzoli and medical examiner Dr Maura Isles. And unfortunately, the painful subplot involving Isles and the catholic priest Fr Brophy has been returned to, and there is only so much lusting that can be written about before the author has to take things to the next logical step. So lusting has turned into a surreptitious affair and hiding from the congregation. Good grief.

A series of disturbing murders, that’s far more palatable! There are overtones of satanism, and the occult, and better still, weird symbols (oh Dan Brown, the damage that you caused!), all of which draw in a mysterious sleuthing society who also hunt demons. (Jinkies!)

Re-reading the plot summary I wrote above, it sounds a whole lot worse than it actually is. The plot is clunky, and the character development is more stilted than the last few novels, but it is still actually not bad.

It’s readable, it’s enjoyable. There are worse books out there.

Oh! Just like the previous few novels, there are passages told from other character’s first-person perspective to help the story along. It’s a good technique, and thankfully Gerritsen doesn’t overuse it.

Vanish–Tess Gerritsen (Rizzoli & Isles 5)

Vanish by Tess Gerritsen, the fifth book of the Rizzoli & Isles series.

I, unfortunately, didn’t take notes during the reading or immediately after reading this book, so this review is going to be sketchy at best.

Amazon DVD and Amazon Play links to the TV Series. Click on them. Buy stuff. Rizzoli & Isles First Season (Amazon Play) and on DVD. Rizzoli & Isles: Season 2 DVDs and Amazon Play. Ahem.

Author notes in brief: Tess Gerritsen is a living Chinese-American author. Her Amazon page, Wikipedia page, and personal page have plenty of personal details. I have previous reviews of The Surgeon, The Apprentice, The Sinner, and Body Double.

In short, Boston Homocide Detective Jane Rizzoli is thoroughly pregnant and ready-to-go at the hospital. Unfortunately, a corpse that turns out to be alive wants to take some hostages, and the book wouldn’t be all that exciting if one of those hostages wasn’t one of the titular characters. All this mystery woman wants is to tell her story, and fears that she will be silenced before she can do so. There is a house of sex slaves who were brutally murdered, and the requisite cover-up. It progresses like a crime thriller novel.

There is a deviation from the previous standard style: some of the story is presented from the point-of-view of one of the enslaved sex workers. It allows for a variation in the storytelling, and it allows the plot to develop more naturally, and somewhat more closely to “real time”. One of the problems with crime and detective novels is that so much has to be presented through analysis and exposition. Very rarely do we see the story unfold as it happens.

There is a lot more of Dr. Maura Isles lusting after the priest, Father Brophy. It’s jarring, to be honest. I know that I need to divorce the character from the TV show from the novel character, but even here, it is a stretch.

Less surgery and gore in this novel, but an increase in horror from sex slavery. These books are pretty tough-going at times, which isn’t out-of-the-ordinary for the genre, but I find that it’s taxing on me as the reader.

Amazon linky!