Books & Blog: March 16, 2020

Books & Blog: March 16, 2020


  • Firewatching, Russ Thomas
  • False Value, Ben Aaronovitch
  • Heartsong, TJ Klune
  • Crescent City, Sarah J. Maas
  • A Star is Dead, Elaine Viets
  • The Silvered, Tanya Huff
  • Alone in the Wild, Kelley Armstrong
  • Wicked Bite, Jeaniene Frost
  • Stranger Diaries, Elly Griffiths

I had a wonderful reading time the past few weeks. Three of the books are by friends of mine (I hope they don’t mind me calling them that). Elaine Viets’ book (A Star is Dead) is in her Angela Richman series. Angela is a death investigator in an old-money enclave in the St. Louis area, and she’s both observant and tenacious. Angela, a widow, is a warm and compassionate woman, and it’s fun to root for her as she works on cases. Jeaniene Frost has written a second book about guardian Veritas and vampire Ian (Wicked Bite), the most unlikely couple ever. Frost makes them likable and credible with her usual skill. Kelley Armstrong’s latest (Alone in the Wild) is in her Rockton series, about a policewoman in an isolated town filled with people in hiding. As usual, it’s wonderfully written and it’s impossible to put down.

Firewatching is Russ Thomas’s first novel, and it’s very good. Detective Sergeant Adam Tyler has been handling cold cases, but he gets a chance to work on a live investigation. The body of Gerald Cartwright has been found bricked up in the basement of the house he supposedly ran away from years ago. Gerald hasn’t gone anywhere. Tyler himself is facing some devils. His father committed suicide, Tyler is out in a police force that doesn’t take to change, and he finds that the lead suspect is someone he’s been to bed with. Watching Tyler work his way through the maze of the case is fascinating.

I’m a long-time fan of Ben Aaronovitch, so I was happy to receive False Value. Peter Grant, my favorite policeman/magician, is about to become a father when he’s sent undercover at a place very like Google, but in London. The genius running the business, billionaire Terrence Skinner, is not what he seems, and his goals are very suspicious. So are his methods in achieving them. And there are adversaries who are also trying to find out what Skinner is really up to. Tense up until the end, this is another great book in an outstanding series.

TJ Klune’s Heartsong is the third in his werewolf series (preceded by Wolfsong and Ravensong), and if you’re following these books – in which magic plays a major part – you’ll have to gulp down this one, too. An evil witch is doing his best to eradicate the Green Creek pack we’ve come to love. His instrument for this evil is Robbie, whose mind has been tampered with repeatedly. Robbie begins to have flashes of memory about his life in Green Creek and the man he loved. But he won’t have long to remember; Robert Livingstone is coming for them again.

Sarah J. Maas’s first adult book, Crescent City, is a mammoth opus. There’s no other way to describe it. The world-building is fantastic, and the characters are engaging. Party girl Bryce Quinlan is living the life, with a clean cushy job by day and a lot of friends and a sexy wardrobe by night. Her world crashes when her friends are slaughtered while they’re waiting for her, and everything turns upside down. Bryce is not what she seems, but she’s kept it secret until it’s time for her to step up and hunt down who’s responsible. You may have to carve out some time, but read this book for a lesson in world-building.

I don’t get to see Tanya Huff often enough to put her in with my other friends, but we do have the same agent, and I am a fan. The Silvered is Huff at her best. Mirian Maylin (like Bryce Quinlan in Maas’s book) has no idea what magic she’s capable of until she’s thrown into the midst of war and must fight her way to the castle of an insane emperor. Amazing, like all Huff books. And charming, like all Huff books.

I’ve read a few books now by Elly Griffiths, and I’ve thought highly of every one. Stranger Diaries joins this list. Clare Cassidy, who teaches at a high school, specializes in writer R.M. Holland. When bodies start turning up with quotes from Holland’s best-known story, “The Stranger,” beside them, Clare knows she is somehow involved in the deaths. Then Clare finds a stranger’s handwriting . . . on the pages of her diary. This is a very satisfying and superior whodunit.



Aren’t we all a little surprised to find ourselves in this long-predicted situation? For years, decades, we’ve been warned that now we can travel globally, so can diseases. And here it is, COVID-19!

  1. At least it’s not Ebola.
  2. At least we know pretty much how it spreads.
  3. At least we are taking steps, though not as drastically as the rest of the world where it’s more widespread.

I had this stupid idea that people in our small town wouldn’t be as foolish as the more competitive shoppers in the cities. I was wrong.

A lot of people still must go to work as usual. We’re lucky that I work from home, my husband is retired, our oldest son works from home and so does middle son, and our daughter, a teacher, has been told to stay home. I did “work” at the church rummage sale (we pretty much had to continue with it, our parish hall was full of all kinds of discarded things), but I was making change and had a table between me and customers. None of them were coughing. We had a big bottle of hand sanitizer on the table and we were glad to see people using it.

I have lots of little projects to finish up. I may be driven to cleaning out my closet. This would be a good week to do it.

I hope you all stay healthy and occupied during this very trying time. Please check with the CDC rather than relying on other sources. The CDC tells the truth and knows the score.

Charlaine Harris