- Finley Donovan is Killing It, Elle Cosimano
- Tomb of the Queen, Joss Walker
- Assassin’s Apprentice, Robin Hobb
- Crowbones, Anne Bishop
- Devoted, Dean Koontz
- Orphan X, Gregg Hurwitz
- Spelunking Through Hell, Seanan McGuire
- Long Shadows, Jodi Taylor
Elle Cosimano’s Finley Donovan is Killing It is a wonderful book. Maybe I liked
it so much because it’s about a writer, one who’s stuck in a book she must finish
or she’ll have to return her advance . . . a writer’s nightmare! Divorced mother
Finley is mistaken for a hitwoman, and next thing you know, she’s burying a
corpse along with her babysitter. That’s the way things happen, right?
I also enjoyed Joss Walker’s Tomb of the Queen . . . maybe because it’s about
a librarian with mysterious skills who suddenly gets a dream job in Ireland. And
there’s a handsome Irish kickboxer. (Who wouldn’t enjoy that?) Also, there’s the
pursuit of an ancient grimoire, and secrets about Jayne Thorne’s own past that
will come to haunt her.
How I’d missed a classic like Assassin’s Apprentice I don’t know. This is one of
Robin Hobb’s most popular books, and the reasons why are easy to see. A child
is revealed to be the illegitimate son of the heir to the throne, and he’s brought to
the castle home of his grandfather and raised in obscurity. But Boy has special
talents he must hide, and he’s serving an apprenticeship he can’t talk about.
Anyone who’s followed this column knows I am a huge Anne Bishop fan. I could
hardly wait for Crowbones, since her books set in the world of the Others are my
favorites of her work. This one is no exception. As usual, humans are the
baddies. In this book, they’re deliberately terrifying the Crowgard by sending in
an impersonation of the corvine boogeyman, a nasty trick which triggers a set of
deaths. Vicki Devine, whom we first met in Lake Silence, has more on her plate
than she can handle . . . as usual.
Devoted runs true to form for Dean Koontz. Koontz loves dogs, especially
Golden Retrievers, and the idea in Devoted is that a select group of dogs can
communicate long distance with each other. Turns out some humans can also
join this network, including high-functioning mute autistic Woody Bookman,
whose mother, Meg, is a widow. Unfortunately, she is lodged in the memory of a
wealthy psychopath, Lee Shackett. Now he’s coming for her. As suspenseful as
most Koonce books are, which is a lot. He’s a master of pacing.
Gregg Hurwitz’s has written several books about Orphan X, whose background
feels quite familiar in some ways. This boy was taught how to kill early, and
trained in everything necessary to remain undetected, as far as finances and
location go. (Very Jason Borne.) Now that Evan Smoak is older, he’s out of that
building. He’s more into Equalizer or Jane Whitefield mode. Fast paced,
complicated, this is a satisfying read.
Alice Price has been looking for her husband Thomas for fifty years. Alice is
ruthless, pragmatic, and has a very high pain threshold and a dubious friend.
Alice discovers that she has been lied to for many years, and she sets out on her
final expedition to retrieve her husband. There are complications galore and
much mayhem in Spelunking Through Hell, just as you’d expect from Seanan
Elizabeth Cage has been the protagonist in two previous Jodi Taylor books, but
in Long Shadows Elizabeth finally finds out a bit about who and what she is.
Elizabeth is calm, collected, orderly; a great reader and a witty conversationalist
in a quiet way. She has her own little home and has started making a circle of
friends following the death of her husband. But there are more revelations to
come, and more to discover. This may make or break Elizabeth’s future.
We’re tiptoeing into Spring. We’re lingering in the stage where we need the air
conditioner during the day and the heat at night, which is truly frustrating. We are
also still in a serious drought condition, with fires an ever-present threat. Not only
is this scary from a personal property point of view, in an area of the country
where many people keep horses and cattle, evacuating is a whole different
shooting match. You can load three dogs into your car, but three or more cows?
Here’s hoping for some good rain.
Also this month, in addition to all the religious rituals that Christians have during
April, I will travel professionally for the first time in years. I’ll be at Malice
Domestic in Bethesda, Maryland, the 22nd-24th. Then it’s on to NYC for the Edgars
banquet on the 28th .
Though I’m beginning to dread travel because of the discomfort (I have fairly
severe arthritis), I am truly looking forward to visiting with friends I haven’t gotten
to see in person in a very long time. And my agent, Joshua Bilmes! We email and
call each other, but nothing’s as good as an in-person chat.
My attitude toward this trip is a mixture of excitement and dread. I think all will go
well, and possibly Paula and I won’t even have to wear masks on the plane. That
would be a pleasure, maybe a guilty one.
Many of you have told me the people of Ukraine – and refugees everywhere –
are occupying your thoughts and prayers. Mine, too.
Try to enjoy the signs of Spring around your own environment, and let’s all reflect
on how much better this Spring is than the one two years ago . . . at least as far
as pandemics go.