BOOKS & BLOG: January 23, 2021

by | Jan 26, 2021 | 2021

It’s been so long since I wrote a Book & Blog that I have a huge pile of books on my desk. I’m going to be brief in my comments, or at least I’ll try to be.


  • Forged, Benedict Jacka
  • Dead and Gone, Andrew Vachss
  • Fortune Favors the Dead, Stephen Spotswood
  • Ready Player Two, Ernest Cline
  • Shatter the Earth, Karen Chance
  • Don’t Go There, Svetlana Oss
  • Mountain of the Dead, Keith McCloskey
  • Dead Mountain, Donnie Eichar
  • A Solitude of Wolverines, Alice Henderson
  • Master of One, Jaida Jones & Dani Bennett
  • The Jane Austen Society, Natalie Jenner
  • Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Laini Taylor
  • The Magpie Lord & A Case of Possession, KJ Charles
  • The Tenant, Katrine Engberg
  • A Beautiful Crime, Christopher Bollen

If you’ve read many of my B&Bs, you’ll already know I’m a follower of  Benedict Jacka’s Alex Verus books. I will follow Alex’s path to the end, as he becomes the very thing he feared. The world is herding him to that end in Forged.

Andrew Vachss is one of the most hard-boiled writers I’ve encountered. It’s been a few years since I read one of his Burke novels. In Dead and Gone Burke, a career criminal, has a new face and a new job: tracking the enemy who killed his dog and blew up his home. It’s a suspenseful trail.

Fortune Favors the Dead leans heavily on the Nero Wolfe/Archie Goodwin relationship. Aging detective Lillian Pentecost recruits Willowjean “Will” Parker to assist her in solving crime in the New York of the forties.

If you’ve read Ready Player One, you really can’t skip Ready Player Two. It’s big and bold, a return to the gaming world in a virtual reality that’s really only a step away from now. But the adventures and quests are deadly.

I love Karen Chance’s kinetic style, and Shatter the Earth, a Cassie Palmer novel, is as lively as ever. The Pythia is more than ever aware she has to take hold of her rank and stand on her own. Yay!

Don’t Go There, The Mountain of the Dead, and Dead Mountain are all books about my current obsession, the Dyatlov mystery. Look it up! Each book has a different viewpoint, and I haven’t finished Don’t Go There, so I’m not going to pick a favorite.  In 1959, ten young and healthy Russians undertake a January hiking expedition. One of them becomes ill about halfway through the journey, and he returns to Sverdlovsk. The others die horribly. What happened?

Continuing with the cold snowy theme, I really enjoyed A Solitude of Wolverines (Katherine Henderson). Alex Carter escapes a bad situation by accepting a position to study wolverines in Montana. It’s right up her alley. Right away, she meets with opposition by the locals, and mysterious incidents begin. This is very suspenseful. I love the character.

Master of One is a superior YA book with a great quest. The thief Rags is forced to serve a dark sorcerer, who is assembling the group he needs to finish his plot. None of them are willing, and the sorcerer is wicked and strong, but Rags is crafty.

Natalie Jenner’s The Jane Austen Society was just what I needed. In t he village of Chawton, an assorted group of people unite to save Jane Austen’s home. I happen to have visited this home of Jane’s, and I was rooting for them all the way.

Laini Taylor’s book (Daughter of Smoke and Bone) got buried in my TBR bookcase for literally years. A sticky note from an editor said Kevin wanted me to have a copy. The only Kevin I could think of was Kevin Hearne, and he says it wasn’t him. So to the unknown Kevin, thanks! This was a great book! Young Karou lives between two worlds, and she doesn’t really question this. But the world in which she grew up is blown away, and all her assumptions are blown away with it. Humans and angels and devils are part of her legacy. Loved it.

The two KJ  Charles books are part of a trilogy (I actually have the third one somewhere and have read it). Stephen Day, a sorcerer, is sent to help Lord Crane, whose family seems to be cursed. Day is small and powerful, Lord Crane is large and colorful, and they have many adventures in the three books, including falling in love.

The Tenant was Katherine Engberg’s debut mystery. It’s a stunner set in Copenhagen. A young woman is found killed and disfigured in the apartment she rents from Esther di Laurenti, older and a bit too fond of wine. Esther is also writing her first detective novel, which features a death much like her tenant’s. What’s going on?

Christopher Bollen’s A Beautiful Crime is set in Venice, and you’ll know a lot about the city by the time you finish . . . which is part of the adventure. This is a very twisty novel. I thought it was finely written and very startling.




I caught COVID19. Our little grandson was patient zero, and he shared it with his parents and my husband. His sister and our other son were spared, somehow. Our daughter caught the virus at work (she’s a teacher and coach) and shared it with her loved one.

Though none of us had to go to the hospital, which was a blessing considering how crowded they are and how sparse ventilators are, we were unpleasantly sick with varying symptoms. Hal and I ran fever for a few days, coughed and sneezed, had unpleasant bathroom-type symptoms, lost our appetites (rare for us), and were absolutely exhausted from the moment we got up until we went to bed. Then, just as I felt a bit better, I lost my sense of smell.  It came back after a couple of weeks, so I was lucky. I’ve talked to other COVID veterans who can’t smell anything after two months.

We were able to have a delayed Christmas with our whole family. All’s well that ends well. But I still look back on that two-plus weeks as time lost out of my life. I couldn’t work. I couldn’t think clearly.

I’m not sure I’m so much better now! But I feel alert and interested in life again.

Having gone through it, it’s great to have the antibodies. Though both of us are in the “threatened” category, and had hoped to have the first shot by now, our doctor assured us that we were good for at least ninety days. Of course, we’re still wearing masks in public, as always, but I think I’ll go out to eat with some friends on Tuesday without being afraid.

People, please do everything in your power to avoid catching this. You may not be as fortunate as we were.

Charlaine Harris