Books of the Week:
- Menagerie, Rachel Vincent
- Run to Ground, Katie Ruggle
- Physical Forces, D.D. Ayres
- River of Teeth, Sarah Gailey
- The Boy on the Bridge, M.R. Carey
- MatchUp, edited by Lee Child, assorted writers (including me)
Rachel Vincent’s Menagerie is a challenging book. First off, Delilah Marlow thinks she is a ‘normal,’ in a world where creatures who have other attributes are exhibited in traveling shows. But when she is viewing the menagerie of supernatural creatures in one such show, and she sees an exhibit being abused, she finds out she is something quite different. Almost every human she’s known all her life turns against her, and she’s caged. That’s shocking and sad. But it’s heartening to find out how Delilah rises to meet her new conditions.
I don’t read a lot of romance, but this week I read two of my favorite writers, Katie Ruggle and D.D. Ayres. Coincidentally, both their books are about dog trainers. Ruggle’s Run to Ground is about the fugitive Juliet Jackson and the gruff K9 officer, Theo Bosco, who offers her and her family help without knowing she’s outside the law. As always, Ruggle writes with tremendous charm and a great sense of how to establish a character very quickly and consistently.
Both Ruggle and Ayres write books that are romances but also solid mysteries, and Physical Forces is the best book Ayres has written to date. Australian search-and-rescue expert Oliver Kelly sees Macayla Burkett trying to lure an escaped pet from a bad area, and he thinks she is dumpster-diving. But then someone tries to bash in Macayla’s car. Is she a pet detective? Is she a hero? Is she in mortal danger? Macayla is in deep trouble, and Oliver, despite his previous relationships with women (shallow), finds himself determined to back her up.
River of Teeth, slim enough to qualify as a novella, is extremely weird. Sarah Gailey read an article (written in the early twentieth century) proposing that hippos be released in the Louisiana to be harvested as a meat source, and her imagination ran with it.
M.R. Carey is one of my favorite writers – admittedly, I have a lot of favorites — and this book, The Boy on the Bridge, is a followup to his excellent The Girl with all the Gifts. Please read The Girl first, so you can appreciate this very different sequel. But do read these books. I can’t tell you how well-written they are, and set in a world I can’t quite wrap my mind around. Which is to say, I’m just envious at his vision.
And, finally, MatchUp. The International Crime Writers of America funds itself by assembling anthologies, and this is the second one. It’s a crowd pleaser for sure, because each story is written by a male-female team, and features their detectives combined in a mystery. I wrote my story with Andrew Gross, and my character Harper Connelly solves a case (in Egypt!) with his Ty Hauck. Did you ever imagine Diana Gabaldon would write a story with Steve Berry? Now’s your chance to find out what the result is. This is a truly stellar, one-time-only, assemblage of teams.
Here’s what I’m up to these days. This coming weekend I’ll be on Sea Island, GA, for an event, and I’m looking forward to working in gorgeous surroundings with plenty of time off. Then I go to ThrillerFest in NYC. And after that, I have to take a quick trip to Comic-Con in San Diego, the mothership of pop culture conventions. I’m appearing with the cast of “Midnight, Texas” and I think we’ll all have fun, as loath as I am to get into such a huge crowd. And that gets me through July.
I’m also working hard on “Texoma” (working title), the first book in a trilogy I’m writing for Simon and Schuster. It’s an alternate history science fiction novel, and I’m having a blast writing something so different.
This week, we’re keeping our grandchildren. I am proud to say that our oldest son is donating his bone marrow, and has to travel to another city to do that. So we’re having fun, and our son is doing a great thing, because he is a fine man. My husband (another find man) will be exhausted, since he’ll have the two littles all by himself for a day and a half.
Our house is almost back to normal, months and months after the burst-water-heater disaster that has caused us so much upheaval. Our remaining rugs were put down today. We now have a tankless water heater in our garage, which is much more practical . . . at least, we sure hope so.
During the writing of this year’s Aurora, and the moving in and out of the house, my office got snowed under in the best possible way . . . under stacks of books. I am trying to clean it out, since I can’t work in the middle of chaos.
I hope all of you are having a pleasant summer, so far, and I hope you are not as busy as I am. Or maybe that’s how you like it! Next year, not as much travel. I’m promising myself and my husband.