BOOKS & BLOG: MAY 9, 2023

by | May 9, 2023 | 2023, Blog Posts

  • Wraithbound, Tim Akers
  • Backpacking Through Hell, Seanan McGuire
  • Where the Crawdads Sing, Delia Owens
  • Nine Lives, Peter Swanson
  • The Wanted, Robert Crais
  • Last Remains, Elly Griffiths
  • The Survivors, Jane Harper
  • The Devil’s Highway, Luis Alberto Urrea
  • The Queen’s Price, Anne Bishop
  • The Secret Lives of Country Gentlemen, KJ Charles
  • A House with Good Bones, T. Kingfisher

Tim Akers’ Wraithbound is categorized as a dark epic fantasy, and it absolutely fits the bill. Rae, the main protagonist, has many character flaws, but he has a burning desire to be able to perform the same kind of magic as his late father, and he has a mysterious sword that his father kept hidden. Rae is also lucky enough to have a loving and practical sister. The misfortunes that befall them are dark, sure enough, but so is the strong spirit that carries Rae through all of them.

Backpacking through Hell is Seanan McGuire’s latest Incryptid novel, and it’s really satisfying because of the long trek we’ve taken to get to the point in the story. Please read the other novels first, so you can really enjoy this one. The Price family has more adventures than you can count.

I was really stubborn about reading Where the Crawdads Sing. Every now and then, I resist reading a book that everyone tells me is marvelous. Well, Delia Owens’ book is marvelous, even if I was very startled by certain plot twists. To this day, I’m mulling them over. Crawdad, set in the recent past, feels familiar to me as a southern woman, and is very finely written.

Nine Lives is quite a thriller: nine people receive a typed list of nine names, including theirs. One by one, they begin to die. They are not the same age, they did not grow up together, and they have a wide range of occupations. What’s the common thread? Why are they targeted? It didn’t take me too long to figure it out, but getting there is fun, and Peter Swanson’s book is truly suspenseful.

Robert Crais is an excellent writer, and I enjoyed The Wanted as much as I’ve enjoyed all his past books – which is to say, quite a lot. If you want to study action and dialog, Crais is the writer to study. A single mother comes to Elvis Cole, private detective, for help in finding out what her son has done. He’s got cash he shouldn’t have, he’s secretive and elusive, and she’s afraid he’s dealing drugs. The truth is more complicated and just as alarming, and if Cole can’t track down the boy, he’ll be dead.

I’m quite an Elly Griffiths fan, and Last Remains is her most recent Dr. Ruth Galloway novel. Archaeologist Ruth is afraid her university teaching job is at an end, the father of her child is detached from his previous marriage and available to Ruth fully for the first time, and Ruth feels her life is in chaos. When she investigates a body found during a renovation, the body turns out to be the remains of Emily Pickering, missing since 2002. Emily’s murderer is still alive, and Ruth and her daughter are in terrible danger.

Jane Harper is an Australian writer. I’ve been lucky enough to read her before, so I was glad to plunge in to The Survivors. Kieran Elliot and his partner, plus their infant daughter, return to the seaside town in Tasmania where Kieran grew up, to help Kieran’s mom pack up the house. Her husband is suffering from dementia, and she must move him into a location where he can have the nursing care he needs. But this means Kieran has to face the past trauma of his brother’s death . . . and after Kieran’s return, other deaths happen.

The Devil’s Highway is Luis Alberto Urrea’s award winning book about the immigrants who die on the road to the US, and what they leave behind. It’s heartbreaking, eye-opening, and every other adjective you can think of. Bleak but beautifully written.

Anne Bishop is a wonderful writer with a bold imagination. The Queen’s Price is part of her Black Jewels series, and a skillful addition that anyone who’s read the previous Jewels books will enjoy. The mythology of this series is complicated, so you should start at the beginning (Daughter of the Blood). Then you’ll have hours and hours of reading! These books are all about the choices you make when you are young, and how they lead the predicaments you find yourself in when you are older . . . at least, that’s what I think.

I really enjoy KJ  Charles’s books. The characters are vivid, the plots are entertaining, and overall, they just make me feel good. Gareth Inglis, abandoned by his family, makes a precarious living in London. He’s delighted to meet a man who seems to be eager to form a relationship with him.  But Gareth’s lover vanishes, and Gareth is further upset to find his father has died, and Gareth is his heir and now has a title. When he goes to his father’s estate, he finds many surprises, among them his vanished lover, and problems galore.

I had the good fortune to meet TJ Kingfisher at a signing a few months ago. Reading A House with Good Bones just confirmed my high opinion of her writing. Sam Montgomery has some unexpected time off from a dig that should have lasted months, and she goes to see her mother in North Carolina. Mom is living her own mother’s house, but very soon Sam realizes there’s a problem or two. Maybe the fact her mom’s painted the house white, or the jar of teeth in the garden? Or the vulture on the mailbox? Or the invasion of ladybugs?


It’s summer, almost, and I’ll be traveling a bit. At the beginning of June, I go to Thrillerfest in NYC, where I’ll receive the Thrillermaster award, to my surprise and amazement. Walter Mosley will also be honored.  Best of all, my daughter will travel with me.

In July, I will go to Avila, Spain, for Celsius 232. I’ve been invited for four years straight, and this time I’m going.

In late August, I’ll fly to San Diego for Bouchercon, the world mystery convention. I look forward to seeing many friends there.

In September, I have a 50-year college reunion. My alma mater is Rhodes College in Memphis, TN, one of the most beautiful campuses you could ever see, and a brilliant education to boot.

In October, our daughter will get married.

Somewhere in that time, I hope to get my long-needed knee replacement. I have lost the amount of weight the surgeon required me to lose, finally! I’m both excited at the prospect, and dreading the prospect.

After the first knee is done, I have to get the other one to match. Arthritis, which some people dismiss as a trivial complaint, really isn’t. Believe me.

But all this is exciting, too, so wish me well in my travels and health adventures.

Charlaine Harris