BOOK & BLOG
October 7, 2008
Books of the Week:
This was a week of high-contrast reading. Lynn Viehl’s TWILIGHT FALL is one of her Darkyn series. Landscaper Liling Harper, an Asian-American beauty, is trying to live below the radar because assassins are pursuing her. She is working at an ultra-private hospital for patients who need long-term care. Though she’s the gardener, her visits leave patients feeling much better.
The owner of the hospital is Valentin Jaus, an immotal Darkyn Lord who accidently infected his first love with his blood. When his eyes light on Liling, he begins to be interested, and when her identity is outed, he provides a means of escape for her. Of course, they fall for each other, and happily for them, they prove to have similar sexual preferences. She heals Valentin in more ways than one. This is an excellently written fantasy with a dark shading.
Emma Holly is also a good writer; I’d read her before, years ago. I don’t know if all Holly books have as high an erotic profile as DEMON’S FIRE, but this was one sexual book. The important thing about Holly is that she writes erotic scenes well. The characters are distinct and complex; the story is interesting and would be even without the sexual content. There’s much to enjoy in this book.
SACRIFICE is the first novel by S.J. Bolton. Set in the Shetland Islands, this mystery is complicated and creepy. The protagonist is Tora Hamilton, who’s just moved to the Shetlands with her husband Duncan. Duncan is a native, Tora is not. Tora has found a job as a gynecologist at the local hospital, and her husband travels a lot. I’m sure it’s my fault that I never quite understood what Duncan did. Tora doesn’t have a completely likeable character, and she knows it. She has difficulty being warm, and she is slow to make friends. Her bedside manner is poor. But she struggles with improving, and she cares about her patients. Tora’s chief hobby is riding, and she keeps horses. When she has to bury one of them, she digs up a woman’s body. The heart has been removed, and runes are carved into her back.
Amazingly, when the woman is finally identified, her husband and the hospital staff swear she died a year before her body was buried.
This is just one of many tricky plot twists. I was fascinated by this book, and I look forward to reading something else by Bolton.
I’m looking forward to Bouchercon, the world mystery convention. (It was named for Anthony Boucher, critic and writer.) It’s a moveable meeting; this year, it’s in Baltimore. The mystery world doesn’t have as many conventions as the science fiction world. I believe you could find a science fiction convention almost every weekend, and in fact I’ve met a man who travelled from one to the other almost year round. That’s not possible for mystery lovers, so Bouchercon is the biggie.
Every section of the genre is represented: hard-boiled, woo-woo (paranormal elements), kid jep (child jeopardy), thriller, police procedural, private eye, cozy. A lot of books overlap in these categories, and there are always new sub-categories. There are cozy books and private eyes books with dogs as a big feature or even as characters. There are lots of cozy books formed around the occupation of the protagonist: candle maker, bed & breakfast owner, knitter, bridge player. There are private eye hard-boiled, and police noir. There’s even a private eye cozy or two. You can find just about any combination you want; it’s like going to a Mexican restaurant.
Like most conventions, Bouchercon is a great place to network. I see people I don’t see at any other convention, and I enjoy the chance to swap news with them. I get to see editors, agents, and publicists. I get to attend the odd panel or two, from time to time. I’ll do a signing at a library in Baltimore on Saturday the 11th, and one at the Powerhouse Barnes and Noble on Thursday night (9th) at 5:00, along with some of the other people who have stories in “Wolfsbane and Mistletoe.”
I hope to see some of you while I’m in Baltimore. Come along to the library event, which is free, or the Barnes and Noble event, which is free, too, come to think of it. There’ll be books for sale at the library and of course at the Barnes and Noble.
I’ll be glad to return home on Sunday, but I plan on socializing with my peers this week, and that’s simply bound to be fun.
© 2009 Charlaine Harris