Books & Blog: March 30, 2015

Books of the Week:

  • Past Tense, Catherine Aird
  • Poison Fruit, Jacqueline Carey
  • The Shifting Price of Prey, Suzanne McLeod

It’s only fair to remark that I got about a third of the way through a mystery when I realized I just didn’t care about any of the characters enough to continue, though I recognized it was well-written. That happens sometimes. I find that the older I get, the less obliged I feel to continue a book if it doesn’t spark that excitement in me. But I gave it a fair shot, which is all a writers asks . . . at least, all this writer asks.
 

Catherine Aird has written book after book, and her they’re always worth reading.  Detective Chief Inspector Sloan and Detective Constable Crosby (the bane of Sloan’s existence from below, just as his superior, Police Superintendent Leeyes, is from above) are handed a very strange case in Past Tense. Josephine Short, a nursing home resident, has died, and when her relatives are informed of this, though they live in the same county, they had not known she was anywhere near. Very odd! And it gets odder, when yet another unknown relative arrives to share in the inheritance. Though it’s not terribly hard to figure out whodunit, the journey is more amusing than the destination.
 

Poison Fruit is by far my favorite of Jacqueline Carey’s Hel books. If you’ve been following the adventures of Daisy Johanssen, you’ll know Daisy, who is half demon, is the liaison between the domain of Hel and town of Pemkowet. She works at the police department, which makes its own kind of sense. Aside from having a tail, Daisy is a very likeable and ordinary young woman, but she’s become something more as she assumes her responsibility seriously. Another hell-spawn, a lawyer, is buying up important land in Pemkowet for an unknown party. Daisy is rightly suspicious when the land just happens to be adjacent to Hel. To come out on top of this situation, Daisy has to confront the thing she fears the most, and conquer it. She also has to resolve her confusing love life.
 

Suzanne McLeod is a friend of mine, though we don’t get to see each other as often as we’d like (I’m assuming she’d say the same!). I was shocked to find out one of her Spellcracker books, The Shifting Price of Prey, had hidden from me on my own To Be Read bookcase. So not only did I have an unexpected book to read, but it was considerably longer than the others in McLeod’s series about Genevieve (Genny), who is now running a company which can solve your magical problem. Genny cannot perform magic, but she can break (crack) spells. I do NOT recommend letting this be your first Spellcracker book. It would be better to start at the beginning to maximum enjoyment out of Prey. There are a lot of elements in this book that original in previous ones: the fae’s fertility problem, Genny’s persecution by the head vampire of London, the ousting of the police witch who tried to kill her. Though McLeod does a great job of filling the reader in, knowing the characters is a big plus, and this is a complicated book, with Genny ricocheting from crisis to crisis with different powers and at least three goals. It’s well worth the prep work!

Blog

Travelling time is coming up. And this year, I have a new suitcase! I travel so much that I buy my luggage for visibility, not durability.
 

This started about six years ago, when my hard-working black suitcase wore out. I swore I would never get another one like it.
 

I looked at a lot of websites until I found a suitcase I could spot across the room without my glasses on. This hard-sided suitcase was supposed to look like the hide of a white and tan cow (perhaps), and it provoked a lot of comment. When I would tell a driver, “You can’t miss it,” I would actually mean that. I never saw another suitcase like it, though logically I knew mine had not been the only one manufactured, until one very strange night in Shreveport when four rolled out on the baggage carousel. Four. Identical. Suitcases. In this freaky pattern. Three were empty. The fourth one was mine. I have never understood or been able to imagine the story behind that.
 

My next bag, the one just deceased, was aqua and brown and had tan and black circles on it. It was a good size and I could spot it (though not from the next planet, as I had the first one). Unfortunately, I took it out of the country a few times, and it was cloth. It began to show wear and tear, and a zipper got cranky, and one of the plastic feet. Then it frayed. Goodbye, circle bag!
 

My new one is imitation crocodile. At least, I am pretty sure that crocodiles don’t come in burgundy. I think it is beautiful, though a bit small. (Maybe I’ll see if I can get a larger model, too.) Crocodile bag is about as conspicuous as the circle bag, but it seems to inspire more respect. It also attracts more admiration than the cow bag. I’m all for that!
 

If there’s ever a company that makes a diagonally striped suitcase in green and blue . . . could you have them give me a call? I’ll be glad to test it for them.
 

Charlaine Harris