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April 16th, 2011


04:58 pm - Doctor Who: The Forgotten Army -- Review *completed*
 Doctor Who The Forgotten ArmyPremise:  He's known, only, as "The Doctor".  He appears human, but he is actually the last surviving member of a race called the "Time Lords" and he travels through space and time, usually with a comely human assistant.  He doesn't go looking for trouble -- he seems to think of himself as a tourist -- but, somehow, trouble always finds him and he overcomes adversity primarily through his advanced intelligence, superior knowledge, utter unpredictability, and his trusty sonic screwdriver.

Story:  The Doctor and Amy arrive in New York city just as something unusual is occuring:  an exhibit of a preserved mammoth has come alive, in the museum of natural history.

The Doctor and Amy proceed to investigate and discover {spoiler -- highlight at your peril} that the mammoth is, effectively, a Trojan horse, concealing an invasion force of small aliens.

This invasion force is *very* speedy -- faster than the human eye can track -- very disciplined, and very effective.  They soon have Manhattan sealed off.  The Doctor and Amy have to figure out their invasion plan, and stop it, in a brief amount of time.

Positives:

  • The story moves at a quick pace.
  • The dialogue and characterization are consistent with the characters as portrayed in the TV show.

Negatives:

  • I suspect that the writer has previously written primarily for visual media:  he often will suddenly reveal something crucial in the environment that a character suddenly is interacting with -- which wasn't even *hinted* at before.  Its rather the inverse of Checkov's principle:  he suddenly have the proverbial gun going off, without ever having mentioned it before.  In a collaborative, visual media, this wouldn't be a problem -- the scenic designer or artist would insert those kind of details.  But in a narrative work, every time that occurs, it throws me out of the story, as I wonder "where did *that* suddenly come from?
  • The antagonists are a little too comical and absurd to take seriously as a threat.

Evaluation:  To the good, the action of the story was constant enough that it kept me reading along.  However, the errors in story telling and the crude humor frequently challenged my suspension of disbelief.

Assessment:  For only the second time here, I can't recommend this novel.  The writing is very, very poor.  

However, I've read some other Doctor Who novels, and most of them are quite entertaining.

I'll be recommending some good ones, shortly!


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March 19th, 2011


05:04 pm - Doctor Who: The Forgotten Army
 Doctor Who The Forgotten ArmyPremise:  He's known, only, as "The Doctor".  He appears human, but he is actually the last surviving member of a race called the "Time Lords" and he travels through space and time, usually with a comely human assistant.  He doesn't go looking for trouble -- he seems to think of himself as a tourist -- but, somehow, trouble always finds him and he overcomes adversity primarily through his advance intelligence, superior knowledge, utter unpredictability, and his trust sonic screwdriver.

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March 7th, 2011


04:07 am - My tweets
  • Sun, 23:57: A good beer, a good book, and an affectionate cat cuddling in your lap. It is such small, but undeniable pleasures which make life wort ...
  • Mon, 00:02: ...Which make life worth the living

Tags:

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March 1st, 2011


04:48 pm - My tweets

Tags:

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12:45 pm - Ed McBain -- 87th Precinct -- Cop Hater
Ed McBain -- 87th Precinct -- Cop Hater Premise:  The detectives in the 87th Precinct, in a fictionalized version of Manhattan called "Isola", use authentic police investigatory techniques to deal with crime in a poor/working class neighborhood.

Story:  A man gets up, late at night, to go to his job, on the late shift.  Before leaving, he gazes lovingly on his wife and children, all sleeping.  On his way to work, he is gunned down without warning.  A couple detectives are called from the 87th Precinct and discover that the victim {mild spoiler -- highlight at your own risk} is one of their own.

They commence an investigation, all the more motivated because this was a person they knew and cared about, and, moreover, because the reputation of the precinct may be at stake if they don't succeed.

Shortly after, another detective is shot down.  Did the two victims have anything in common.  Is it just a coincidence?  Or are they confronted with a serial killer who is a ...... cop hater?

Positives:
  • As with the previous 87th Precinct novel I read and reviewed earlier, this one actually has remarkable good prose -- always fluid, and, sometimes, surprisingly lyrical.
  • There is a mordant sense of humor that runs throughout the grim story.
  • Being a mystery, there is always the issue that a good deal of the story ends up being blind alleys.  However, the author makes up for this by providing interesting characters, and sharp, terse dialog, that enliven these sections.  Even if a given area of investigation proves fruitless, its fun to read, anyway
Negatives:
  • There is a side-plot-line involving an arrogant reporter who inadvertently stirs up a local youth gang to violence while pursuing this ill-considered opinion that a gang member could have committed the shooting.  This plot thread doesn't advance the story -- its another blind alley -- and the reporter was neither particularly interesting nor appealing to me as a character.
  • Ed McBain -- 87th Precinct -- Cop HaterWe are introduced to Detective Carella's fiancée, Teddy.  Teddy is a deaf mute who, in her few scenes, becomes a vivid and appealing person, and an obviously good match for Carella.  That being said, I have a couple issues with the way that she is presented:
    • First, in the first scene where he visits her, she is able to understand him by lip reading, and communicates with him by gesture and expression.  However, the author falls back on a literary devise that, I think, compromises the believability of this scene:  when Teddy wants to communicate something that can't easily be expressed as gesture, he is able to fill in the gaps by reading the expression in her eyes.  *sigh*!  If only it was that easy!  I know of this from experience, having lost my own hearing about 3 years ago ... trust me, the amount of information you can get just from looking at someone's eyes is no where near as exhaustive as its portrayed here!   In real life, to carry on this conversation, he would likely needed to learn at least some basic ASL, and/or have a writing pad available for her to communicate with him
    • Second, given that the author indicates that the relationship has been going on for at least a few months, why hasn't Carella already learned some ASL, if he cares for her so much?
    • Third, and finally, there is one scene in which the author gives us something of what Teddy is thinking, after Carella has proposed to her.  She is portrayed as feeling unworthy of him and having low self-esteem, because of her handicap.   Um .... trust me! ... that is not typical of us deaf people!  If anything, Deaf people seem to take a certain pride in their sense of community, fostered by their common language, and common struggles with interacting with the hearing world.
      • That being said, I have wonder, is this a reflection of ignorance on the authors part, or is it truly reflective of how deaf people felt at that time.  Consider:
      • One continuing debate in the deaf community is between manualism vs. oralism :  whether deaf people should focus on communication effectively primarily through sign language or by speech.  From what I understand about the history of deaf education, the tendency at the time of the writing of this novel in terms of deaf education favored oralism ... which implies a sense that sign language is a lesser form of communication.  This attitude may have also impacted the self-esteem of deaf people at the time?
  • Finally, and like the other 87th Precinct mystery I've read, the ending was a bit hasty and perhaps just a bit too convenient:  Just about the time that Carella finally figures a tack to take which might actually work and which no one else has considered, the killer is revealed {spoiler} when the obnoxious reporter publishes an interview with Carella, in which he has distorted Carella's words in just such a way that it inadvertently creates a trap for the killer ..... with Teddy as the bait.  That being said, the way that Teddy figures out how to alert Carella of her danger (and his) shows her to be able of thinking effectively and shrewdly under pressure, aming her all the more appealling a character as a result.  I would have found it much more satisfying if Carella had been able to attain his victory via the investigatory process instead.
Evaluation:  Overall, the characterization, the dark humor, the authentic police techniques, the oft-times lyrical prose, and the well paced storytelling more than compensate for these relatively minor flaws.  it says something about how much I enjoyed this book that I immediately went looking for the next one in the series.

Assessment:  Recommended.  Not just for people who like police procedurals -- this book rewards reading for quality storytelling, characterization, and prose.

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February 19th, 2011


03:48 pm - Ed Lacy -- The Best that Ever Did It
 Story:  A young working class man, Franklin Adersun, wins a contest, and announces to the press that he plans to spend the money to take a trip to Europe.  That evening, after celebrating at his neighborhood tavern, he and a second man are gunned down on the street.  The second man turns out to be a police detective

His widow, Betsy Turner, becomes dis-satisfied with the approach being taken by the official investigation of her husband's death.  One of the detectives, consequently, gives her a referral to a private detective, his brother-in-law, Barney Harris.

However, Harris actually does private detective work as a sideline, and, at that, mostly just does skip-tracing.  he makes the bulk of his living as an auto mechanic.  He admits to the widow that he has no experience at criminal investigation, and tries to dissuade her from hiring him.  But, needing extra money to afford a private pre-school for his daughter, and at the widow's insistence, he reluctantly agrees to investigate.

The plot then follows three distinct threads:
  • First, Barney pursues the investigation, and gradually proves his capability as a criminal investigator, by finding leads which the police have missed, figuring out the scheme that lead to the shooting, and suggesting a means of setting a trap for the shooters, which hadn't occured yet to the police nor to the FBI, who eventually become involved.
  • Second, the widow requires Barney to come by her place every evening to report his progress, and a relationship gradually, and believably, develops between them.
  • And, third, and a surprising use of a clever literary device:  every chapter is divided in two parts, the first written in first person recounting Barney's experiences, and the second part, written in third person, telling us about the schemers/shooters responsible for the crime, and the train of events which eventually led to them resorting to violence.
Positives:
  • Very good characterization -- the author gives us vivid pictures of the appearance and personalities of even relatively minor characters.
  • The author does a good job of gradually revealing the backstories of Barney, Betsy, and the killers.
  • There is a nice sense of symmetry:  a seemingly minor character, a strongman who has lost his sight, and living on disability, ends up playing a pivotal and heroic role in the final chapters, during a well described confrontation in a darkened room, in which circumstance, the blind man actually proves to have an advantage against the assailants.
  • Its a refreshing change of pace to see a detective who is a loving father, instead of a stereotypical "lone wolf".  I also appreciate that the author emphasizes that criminal investigation is not the typical work of P.I.s -- that Barney's task of skip tracing is far more typical.
Negatives:
  • One crucial clue is discovered entirely by coincidense.  However, the author "lampshades" this.  Moreover, Barney shows intelligence by immediately realizing the significance of this information, which others may have dismisses as a mere curiosity.
  • The story starts a little slowly -- its only at the end of the first chapter that we get a narrative hook.  The author devotes the bulk of the first chapter to describing the key characters, their personality and their situation.
    • That being said, if you read through to the end of the first chapter, when you get to that hook, you will probably find yourself eagerly reading through to the end of the story.
Evaluation:  Unfussy, smooth prose, appealing protagonist, engaging plot -- what's not to like?

Assessment:  Recommended!  I've enjoyed this and one other novel by Ed Lacy -- I plan to read more of them!

You can download this novel for free at this webpage.

(Or, if you want to ebay a hardcopy, look for it under its alternate title, "Visa to Death")


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February 18th, 2011


10:32 am - Slice of Murder
 A Slice of Murder by Chris CavenderPremise: A "cozy" mystery.  Cozy mysteries typically involve murder in unlikely, homespun locales and/or involve quirky and/or amateur sleuths.
 
Story:  Eleanor Swift, a widow, owns a pizzeria in a small town in North Carolina, delivers a pizza on evening to find the orderer's door open, and the oderer, himself, lying, stabbed, in his own hallway.  Eleanor does the sensible thing, stays outside, and calls the police.  It turns out that there is some bad blood between her and the chief of police because of something that happened when they were both in highschool (this *is* a small town!).  Moreover, it turns out that Eleanor had slapped the victim at a public festival some month ago when he got a little too fresh.  The police chief shortly makes it clear that he regards her as his chief suspect.  Fearing the impact that this could have on her business, Eleanor succumbs to the advice of her sister Maddy, who suggests that they investigate on their own.  Taking advantage of the odd hours she has with her business, which allow her to go where she will during the morning (and the fact that people in this town seem to have no qualms about coming back into the kitchen to talk to her when she is at work), Eleanor and Maddy proceed to talk to various parties, dig up the information and evidence that the victim was a blackmailer, and eventually work out a list of suspects who the police, with their focus on Eleanor, haven't even realize had much, much more reason to kill the victim. 

Positives:
  • The prose is smooth and readable; it doesn't get in your way.
  • The characters are credible.
  • There is a scene early in the novel where the protagonist goes along with her attorney to be questioned by the police chief.  I was impressed that the author did a good job not only of portraying the advice that an attorney would, typically, give to a client in this situation, but also captured effectively the tense, adversarial nature of such a conversation.

Negatives:
  • The banter between Eleanor, a widow, and her sister (and employee) Maddy, who has been married a number of times, was initially amusing, but by about the midway point, I started finding it wearisome.
  • As the investigation proceeds, the sisters find out not only incriminating information, but also important physical evidence -- which they then proceed to either conceal or not to disclose to the police.  By doing this, of course, they would only make Eleanor look even more suspect to the police mindset -- and conceivably destroy the chain of evidence needed to get Eleanor off.
  • None of the supporting characters were particularly interesting nor appealing to me.
  • Nor do Eleanor nor Maddy evince any special competence or insight in the way they investigate

Evaluation:  What is the source of the appeal of the cozy mystery.  Surely, it isn't realism.  Raymond Chandler memorably stated that the goal of himself and the other hardboiled mystery writers was to "g(i)ve murder back to the kind of people that commit it"  (http://www.en.utexas.edu/amlit/amlitprivate/scans/chandlerart.html).

The cozies which I have enjoyed tend to feature an interesting, exotic locale, and/or colorful, appealing, eccentric characters, or a sleuth who evidences idiosyncratic insight into human nature.  (The Hamish McBeth novels by M.C. Baird, for example, feature all three:  they take place in the highlands of Scotland, have appealing eccentric supporting characters, and Hamish McBeth usually figures out the mystery by dint of either observing physical evidence others have missed and/or by a surprising astuteness about human nature and personality).

So, how does this one rack up:?
  • Although we are told a number of times that we are in North Carolina, I wasn't really given anything distinctive that made this locale stand out:  it might have been just about any small town I've ever been in.  Although it has a place, the story has no sense of place.
  • Besides Eleanor and Maddy, who are fairly believable characters, none of the background characters is really particularly distinctive.
  • As sleuths, Eleanor and Maddy really, rather, blunder along.  Even at the end, when they have sorted down a suspect list to a few people, the malefactor is only revealed when s/he lures Eleanor into a trap.  -- Yes, we get the old "I might as well tell you why and how I did what I did 'cause I'm just about to kill you anyway" canard.  


Assessment: For only the second time on this blog, in all honesty, I have to not recommend a book.

In Mitigation:  On the one hand, I really have no inclination to get the next novel in this series -- nothing about this setting or characters lures me back.  On the other hand, I do have to give the writer, whose real name is Tim Myers, credit for having a smooth, prose style, capable, engaging storytelling and have the feeling that this novel may just be a bit of a miss.  I suspect that other novels of his might be better.  It may also be that, since I'm not a woman (and the audience for cozies is understood to be primarily women), I may not be the intended audience, since I can't, really, relate to how sisters quarrel with and yet strongly love one another.  Not being able to particularly relate to that dynamic, it didn't speak to me -- but if you are a woman with a quarrelsome, beloved sister, this might speak very powerfully and effectively to you.

That being said, here is a link to an alternative take on this book.

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February 11th, 2011


11:20 am - Ed McBain -- 87th Precinct -- Lady Killer

Premise:  The detectives in the 87th Precinct,  a fictionalized version of Manhattan called "Isola", use authentic police investigatory techniques to deal with crime in a poor/working class neighborhood.

Story:  Early in the morning, on a blisteringly hot summer day, a boy brings a message to the desk sergeant at the 87th precinct.  Upon opening it, the sergeant reads this message:  "I will kill the lady tonight at 8.  What can you do about it?"

Going on the operative theory that the killer actually wants to be caught -- that the letter may contain hidden clues -- the detectives hustle to find either the intended victim or the perpetrator inside of a 12 hour window.


Positives:
  • The novel, published in 1958,  does an effective job of evoking the feeling of living in a city and enduring a hot day, before air conditioning became common place.
  • The police techniques seem to be appropriate to pre-Miranda law enforcement.
  • There are two or three sequences involving a detective who works in the crime lab using scientific techniques to try to find useful clues.  Although this isn't a predominant element, its pleasantly surprising to see forensics being given an important role, decades before CSI
  • As with any mystery, there are a number of red herrings and blind alleys the police go down in the course of their investigation.  These are, however, enlivened by colorful characters, wonderful, terse, dialogue, and some interesting philosophical reflections.
  • The story is suspenseful ... the time factor is always present, and I found myself compelled to keep reading to see whether the police would be able to find the intended victim or perpetrator before the 8:00 deadline.
Negatives:
  • Just going on the basis of this novel alone, the characterization of the policemen is mostly pretty 2-dimensional, with the possible exception of Detectives Hawes and Carella.  Hawes is the primary point of view character, and we see a good bit of the story through his eyes, and are privy to his reflections on the people and circumstances he encounters.  Carella seems to be the first amongst equals amongst his squad, often advancing suggestions to his colleagues as to how to pursue the investigation.  He also seems to be something of a mentor to Hawes.  However, besides these two, the majority of the other characters are little more than names and one or two idiosyncrasies.
  • The ending, when it  comes, is a bit abrupt, and the killer's reasons for wanting, at some level, to be caught, are never fully explained.
  • I also have some misgivings about the underlying concept of a "corporate hero":  the series is aptly named, because the eventual success of the investigation is a group effort.

Evaluation:
Its probably unfair to gauge the level of characterization based on this one novel alone.  This was part of a series that ran over decades, and from what I gather, in the course of the series, the characters cumulatively acquire depth.  Given the nature of the stories and their short length, the author only focussed on one or another Detective in each book ... but, over the course of the series, a group portrait eventually develops.

Moreover, having spent a good part of my life living in one of the largest cities in the country, I appreciate the picture that the author gives of that kind of urban environment, and the realpolitik considerations which the police are forced to confront.

Assessment:  Recommended.   Although I have long heard of this series for quite awhile, this was the first 87th Precinct novel I've read.  It was a good, brisk, entertaining read, with convincing details about police investigatory techniques, colorful characters, some lively humor, both wry and profane, and a little philosophical reflection on the role of the police trying to uphold justice in a corrupt society.  It says something positive about this series that, even though, as a rule, I prefer the individualism implicit in the Private Eye story to this kind of "corporate hero",  I'm tempted to get ahold of the first volume in the series, and read some more of these.

For what its worth, just found another review of this book at this website.


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January 22nd, 2011


05:10 pm - Ellery Queen -- The Lamp of God
10 Cent Edition of Ellery Queen's "The Lamp of God" I was looking for a diverting mystery which would keep me engaged for a day or two, and came across "The Lamp of God", a novella by Ellery Queen, that at only 60 pages in length, seemed to fill the bill.

Premise:  Ellery Queen, a mystery novelist and amateur detective, whose Father is an Inspector on the New York police force, frequently gets called in to assist in solving various mysteries .... which presumably become the grist for the mystery novels written under that pen name.  (If this sounds reminiscent of the "Castle" novels and TV shows, then you now know who they are copying!)

Story:  In the midst of winter, Ellery Queen received a call from an attorney friend, who says that he needs Ellery's unique skills, and asks him to pack a bag.  Ellery ends up at a port, waiting for a ship, just in from England, to release its passengers.  At the dock, they meet a rotund gentleman, a doctor, with whom the attorney is acquainted.  It turns out they are all waiting for a young woman to disembark from the ship.

They all leave together in the Doctor's car to go to the young woman's isolated family estate.  It develops that she is the daughter of a recently deceased man of wealth, who is said to have left a fortune in gold for her, hidden somewhere in his mansion, dubbed the "black house", a unkempt Gothic revival manse.  It is paired with a smaller house, the "white house" house, where the Doctor, a shirttail relation, and a couple other family members reside.

Ellery, the attorney and the heiress spend the night in the "white house", but the next morning, they are stunned to discover, when they awaken, that the "black house" has entirely vanished in the night.  It soon turns out that none of the cars available are working, and a heavy snowfall forces all parties to stay in the white house for a number of days.

The house seems filled with intrigue and plotting -- an air of something amiss.  Can even the penetrating intelligence of Ellery Queen figure out what is going on?

Well .... of course he can, but how he does so is what all the fun is about!

Positives:
  • The first couple of chapters create a powerful and effective gothic atmosphere.
  • The solution, once it is revealed, seems not only logical, but the only credible answer that accounts for all the strange goings on
Negatives:
  • Weeeeellll, anyway you look at it, the characters are pretty 2-dimensional
  • The outcome hinges upon the development of an emotional bond developing between two characters which seems rather unlikely, and just a little too convenient, for the circumstances.

Evaluation:  Well, this is a mystery in the classic mode, a narrative puzzle, so we can hardly expect the characterization to be profound.  What matters is whether it lives up to its own standard:  whether the mystery and solution are convincing, and whether it is a "fair play" puzzle, in which all the necessary pieces needed to come to the solution have been presented in the course of the narrative.

Assessment:  The story does what it sets out to do:  it presents a challenging puzzle and a convincing, fair-play, solution.  If you are in the mood for a mystery in the classic mode, especially one you can read in two or three sittings,  this novel is:  Recommended.

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December 1st, 2010


06:53 pm - Soulless
 Gail Carriger, Soulless, Volume 1 in the "Parasol Protectorate" seriesNote on Genre:  Steampunk is a subgenre of science fiction, premised on the development of technology similar to our modern technology, but typically based on analog, steam-powered technology.  This novel adds further levels of cross-genre borrowing, since it includes both elements of the "urban fantasy" genre, by positing a Victorian era in which vampires, werewolves and ghosts are accepted members of society, but also adds generous helpings of P.G. Wodehousian comedy of manners and more than a bit of Jane Austin comic romantic intrigue.  Long and short, this novel is a bit of a cross-genre mongrel.  However, that term is not used in derogation:  mongrels often have better temperaments than their purebreds ... and often perform better as hunting dogs.  

So .... how does this novel perform as an entertainment? Well .....

Premise:  Alexia Tarabotti is beset with many obstacles .... she is a spinster (at the "advanced" age of 25), of Italian descent ..... and she has no soul.  This latter aspect is something that she keeps secret.  It makes her the *opposite* of supernatural entities, a "preternatural", and gives her the ability to cancel out a supernatural being's powers, making them temporarily mortal.

Story:  Acting as chaperon for her two younger and more marriageable sisters at yet another party at a mansion, Alexia absents herself to the library for some tea and sandwiches, and finds herself confronted by a newly formed vampire, consumed by bloodlust.  Using her preternatural ability to negate vampire invulnerability, she defends her honor (and her tea and treacle tarts), and ends up dispatching the vampire in the process.  This leads to Lord Maccon, London's alpha-werewolf and the head of the BUR (Bureau of Unnatural Registration), being brought on the scene to investigate.  Alexia eventually learned that this was just the most recent of a spate of possibly related incidents:  lone werewolves and vampires have been vanishing, and "new", unregistered vampires have been discovered, who are act out in a most uncivilized manner.  Alexia, a bit of a busy body, takes it to investigate this puzzle on her own, which leads her into conflict with Lord Maccon.

Will Alexia and Lord Maccon overcome their antipathy to each other and work out some meeting of minds in time enough to overcome the conspiracy that seems to be in the process of attacking the supernatural populace?  Well ..... of course they will -- it wouldn't be much of a story if they didn't ..... but *how* they do so is a good deal of the fun.

Positives:
  • Carriger has a wonderfully wry, comic prose style, using Jane Austin-like formal diction to describe events and situations which a proper ladylike Jane Austin character would be unlikely to find themselves.  This tension between the writing style, and what it is writing *about* provides much of the amusement.
  • The lead characters have well shaded, distinctive personalities, and a number of the supporting characters are almost as vivid.
  • The ;beginning third or so of the novel immerses you effectively in this alternate reality as the heroine is borne along by the progression of events.
  • The final third leads to a satisfying and effective climax, solving the central mystery, overcoming a challenging foe, and resolving personal and romantic issues between the protagonists.
Negatives:
  • The only major disappointment I had was with the middle portion, which tends to slow down, and brings the comedy of manners and romance to the fore, and lessens the tension established by the thriller elements.  The story dragged a little for me, at this point, but I'm glad I got through it.
  • There is some repetition which could have been minimized.  For example {SPOILER -- highlight at your peril} how many times do we need extended makeout scenes between her and Lord Maccon to establish their growing attraction?  The first time I didn't mind because the author played with the contrast between Alexia's book knowledge of the passions as contrasted to her new experience of them, but after about the third time (one instance takes up most of a chapter if I recall correctly), I started to find it tiresome.
Observation:

In terms of genre writing, the author is taking on quite a challenge, by blending together elements of 3 or 4 distinct genres:  steampunk, urban fantasy, comedy of manners and romance.  Whenever two or more genres are blended together, this poses the problem of  maintaining a balance between them, and satisfying the implicit expectations that go with each genre.  By on large, she pulls this off very effectively -- and my dis-satisfaction with the middle part might be caused  by the fact that I'm not much of a fan for either romance or comedy-of-manners.

Evaluation:

Even when the pace of the story slackened in the middle, I found myself enduring that slack because I enjoyed the characters, and the witty writing.  As I've established in other reviews, I usually prefer page-turners -- but if the pace has to slacken, it helps if by that time the characters have been established as compelling and appealing persons I can care about and whose fate commands my interest.

It says something that, immediately after I finished reading this, I immediately went out and bought the next book in the, Changeless, and am currently about halfway through it.

Assessment:

Recommended.  If you are a fan of any two or more of the genres which this novel brings together, I think you will enjoy it.



 

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