Books & Blog: June 18, 2015

Books of the Week:

  • Swerve – Vicki Pettersson
  • Dead Ice – Laurell K. Hamilton
  • Hex on the Ex – Rochelle Staab

Vicki Pettersson has long been a favorite writer in the paranormal field, and she’s certainly a delightful person. When she told me she’d written something completely different, of course I got pretty interested, since that’s practically right up my alley. And Swerve is absolute different from Pettersson’s popular Zodiac series. The catchphrase on the promotional material is simple and riveting: One woman. One road. One killer. It is as breathtaking as the promos suggest. Wow!

It will please readers who prefer the first few Anita Blake books to know that there are fewer sex scenes in Dead Ice, though there’s a lot of discussion about who to add to Anita’s bedroom scene to achieve a balance of power. But there’s even more discussion and action about the actual case Anita is involved in, that of horrifyingly lifelike zombies being used in porn films. While the supernatural element is different to what you’d see on somewhere like Nu Bay, it’ll be no shock to fans of Hamilton’s work. Anita, whose power to raise the dead is unrivalled, is not only a big professionally jealous, she’s also curious about who this new necromancer might be. This is a satisfying Anita Blake book, which dedicated readers will enjoy.

In the interest of full disclosure, Rochelle Staab and I have the same agent, and I just had a chance to visit with her a bit in California. I was also lucky enough to get a book of hers to read, and I really, really enjoyed Hex on the Ex. Psychologist Liz Cooper has gone to a Dodgers game with her boyfriend, Nick, and her family, to celebrate her dad’s birthday. Liz’s ex, Jarret, is the relief pitcher for the Dodgers. Jarret was unfaithful to Liz during their marriage, and he hasn’t changed any, but they have an amicable relationship. However, the next day Liz goes by to get the remaining box of her possessions and leaves, not knowing there is a body in Jarret’s bedroom. She is seen, and therefore she’s in a lot of trouble. I thoroughly enjoyed this live whodunit.



One of the weirdest and most upsetting everyday mishaps is when objects you have been regarding as helpful turn out instead to be malevolent tools of Satan.

I refer, of course, to the familiar chopping knife that suddenly chops your very own finger, or the light switch that gives you a shock, or the bedstead that stubs your toe. The shower handle that falls off on your bare foot. The comb that breaks off in your hair.

This feels like as big a betrayal as your beloved pet Fido suddenly biting your hand – the hand that feeds him. Now, you know inanimate objects can’t plot, but don’t you sometimes feel they do? “All together, now – let’s get her!” they crow during the night, and the next day will be a pinball course between getting cut, pinched, zapped, and stepping on broken china.
Then comes the suspicion. You might avoid the stapler in favor of a simple paperclip, because paperclips are not as prone to cause you harm. You might pick up the scissors with extreme caution. You become very careful handling paper, because those paper cuts can be vicious.
This is also a good time to avoid your bathroom scales and your razor, of course.

Here’s one that gets me every time. The cylinders of biscuits or sweet rolls that you buy in the refrigerated section. You peel off the label as the cylinder advises you to do, and then . . . and then . . . there’s a POP, and it’s always a surprise, and the cardboard springs apart and dough bulges out in a distressing way. I know it’s going to happen, but I startle every time. Why don’t I learn?

One of Elmore Leonard’s Ten Rules of Writing is to never use “suddenly.” I’ve always interpreted this to mean that nothing really happens except in its own time, so “suddenly” is redundant. However, I wonder if Mr. Leonard ever opened one of those cylinders of biscuits.
Somedays, navigating my house seems the most hazardous course of all.