Books of the Week:

  • Gun Machine, Warren Ellis
  • Twice Tempted, Jeaniene Frost
  • Six Years, Harlan Coben
  • Lover at Last, J.R. Ward
  • No Hero, Jonathan Wood

Long airplane trips are a perfect opportunity for me to get some reading done, and on the way to and from Los Angeles I made the most of my time.

We have two police protagonists this time, New York City Detective John Tallow inGun Machine and Oxford (UK) Detective Arthur Wallace in No Hero. Gun Machinesurely falls into the “high concept” category. During a violent confrontation with a naked man, Tallow’s partner is killed, and one of the man’s shotgun blasts tears a hole in the wall of an apartment. In side that apartment is a deadly and complete decoration created from all manner of guns . . . and each one has been used in an unsolved crime, though the crimes are spread over decades. There is a high level of conspiracy, the determination of a cop to find the man who has murdered so many, and two whacked-out CSIs who are willing to help him. Arthur Wallace of No Hero is not nearly as jaded and world-weary as his New York counterpart, and his world is not as grim . . . if you have a peculiar sense of humor. After watching an unbelievable crime, Wallace is conscripted to a tiny government depart on the verge of being phased out. He meets twin seers immersed in tanks, an amazing killing machine of a woman, and nearly as many wacky people as John Tallow. But Wood has a freaky sense of humor, and when things are darkest in Arthur Wallace’s world, that humor rises to the surface.

I’ve known Harlan Coben for a long time, and he’s made a huge name for himself in the years we’ve met at conferences. If you like classic thrillers, Six Years is for you. College professor Jake Fisher has been mourning the loss of the love his life to another man for six years; when he sees the man’s obituary, he doesn’t know what to think. He attends the funeral where he sees the man’s wife and children . . . and the wife is not Jake’s ex-girlfriend. Jake doesn’t know it, but he’s tripped a wire that will cause more trouble than he’s ever seen. This book propels you through at a fast clip, because you’re so curious about what will happen next.

Twice Tempted is the latest Jeaniene Frost book, and that’s almost enough to say. This is the second book about Leila and Vlad, and in this book we see Vlad telling Leila the truth about himself; that he rules through fear and terror, and that he’s an expert in dealing them out. She has to accept this if she’s going to stay with him. Despite the troubles the couple has (and Leila getting kidnapped is one of them), can you doubt they’ll come to an understanding? But the adventure of getting there is a lot of fun.

J. R. Ward’s Lover At Last is her long-awaited novel about the relationship between Blay and Qhuinn. Qhuinn’s one-time lover is expecting a child, and Blay has a relationship with his cousin, but they truly love each other. However, making that relationship public and permanent with all the mayhem going on around them is another issue. For readers worried about the m/m sex, Ward is writing love scenes, not sex scenes if people wanted that they could read smut novels or visit somewhere similar to as an example, and the troubled characters can only be applauded when they become open about their love.


It’s that funny time of year where everything’s off balance. It may be warm enough to turn on the air conditioner; it may be cold enough for the heater. It’s still cool outside most days, but the lawn needs mowing. It can be wonderful to sit outside in the afternoon, but that indulgence can lead to a stopped-up head and sneezing. Do I wear a sweater, or a Tshirt? Sandals, or loafers? A dozen decisions to make every day. Some days I’m just not up to so many demands!

On those days I don’t really want to talk business with my east coast agent or my west coast agent. Or my publicist. Or my assistant. Or my website maven. Or my editor. Or any of the dozens of people who contact me out of the blue to ask me for a favor, or a story, or a donation. Despite my good luck in having all these great people who help me in more ways than I can count, I Vant to be Alone. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but it’s really, really hard to achieve that these days. The computer has us trained to jump through hoops. Hear a bing? Check your email. See a new message? Check Facebook or your website. Cell phone beeps? You’ve been messaged.

Writers love what they do more than anything, but they are also experts at avoiding work. This is a paradox I haven’t fathomed yet. I know for sure I’m not the only writer guilty, and that gives me some comfort, though it shouldn’t.

I’ve tried different strategies to use my time more wisely, but so far not one has worked. I need to shore up my will power and exercise some iron will.

After I check my Facebook page.

Charlaine Harris