A Decline in Prophets by Sulari Gentill

rowly-2Book Title: A Decline in Prophets (Rowland Sinclair, #2)

Author: Sulari Gentill

Publisher: Pantera Press

Genre: Crime, Historical Fiction

Release Date: July 1st, 2011

Book synopsis: In 1932, the R.M.S. Aquitania embodies all that is gracious and refined, in a world gripped by crisis and doubt.

Returning home on the luxury liner after months abroad, Rowland Sinclair and his companions dine with a suffragette, a Bishop and a retired World Prophet. The Church encounters less orthodox religion in the Aquitania’s chandeliered ballroom, where men of God rub shoulders with mystics in dinner suits.

The elegant atmosphere on board is charged with tension but civility prevails…until people start to die. Then things get a bit awkward.

And Rowland Sinclair finds himself unwittingly in the centre of it all.

~*~

My second adventure on the Aquitania was as charming and mystery filled as the first, when I read it for the New South Wales Writer’s Centre. This was my introduction then to Rowly, Milt, Clyde and Edna, but I still loved reading it again. Following the disastrous events of A Few Right Thinking Men, Rowly is still reliant on a walking stick to support his healing leg while he and his friends travel abroad, on their journey home from a tour of Europe back to Sydney. Yet, as the quiet cruise pushes forth through the waters of the world, bodies begin to drop. First, Orville Urquhart, an Englishman on the voyage towards New York with them, is murdered with the can Rowland’s cane that he now has to discard as evidence. Yet, the case is unwanted by Scotland Yard, and by the NYPD, and is thus left to fester as a great maritime murder mystery.

Following the somewhat unexpected departure of Jiddu Krishnamurti, Hubert Van Hook, a Theosophist with Annie Besant, proclaims Rowland as the next World Prophet of the organisation, something that will follow him home, much to the ire of his brother, Wilfred, half way through the novel. Yet it is the death in Sydney Harbour is Bishop Hanrahan’s niece, Isobel, that starts the unraveling of the case and descends Rowland and his friends into a world of discovery and attack in a Roman Catholic graveyard and church. The events of the final, climatic chapters lead to a conclusion that I never saw coming but that effectively wraps up the novel, leading into the excitement that I hope will be Miles off Course.

           

Having read this for a second time after reading book one, several things made a lot more sense, such as his brother Wilfred’s attitudes towards Rowland and his friends, and what he thought of the apolitical stance his brother took. But also, the little references to book one were clearer, perhaps an excellent reason to start with A Few Right Thinking Men, so that the scope of the series is better understood, and enjoyed. The combination of history and mystery in equal parts is fascinating and extremely well done, and I am eager to read the rest of the books.

Veneri Verbum Book Review

Veneri Verbum by Zanzibar 7 Schwarzenegger

Writing a book may be the perfect solution to all of Christopher Cullum’s problems. He’s currently living at home (at age twenty-five), but his mom fears she’ll be doing his laundry forever. If he doesn’t accomplish something notable soon, she may invoke some tough love. He might even have to clean his room.

~*~

Opening this book is like opening Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and The Eyre Affair at the same time: an explosion of welcome insanity, and a healthy dose of crazy that we all need at some point in our lives. I entered the world of Christopher Michael Cullum, and followed him down the plot hole after his Figment, Elsa. Traversing the land of lost plots, faceless characters and court cases involving a jury of poopieheads, and a hot-dog judge, Christopher and Elsa discover Shiv, the one whom reincarnates several times, my favourite as the female impregnated dragon as one of his sex changes, and named Shivana, and Eric, the One Who Always Dies. And thus we have entered the world of NaNoWriMo, where we will meet NaNa Romo, and launch cat cannons across the realm, and bask in the eternal deaths of Eric. Confused? Welcome to NaNoWriMo. Enjoy the plot bunnies while you stay.
Christopher’s journey is complicated by multiple plot bunnies and tribbles, and the many plot holes he finds himself tumbling down like Alice down the rabbit hole, although, unlike Alice, he doesn’t play croquet with a long-necked bird, he has to fix his plot holes…and at every turn, Eric is dying, Margie the fairy appears but she is not his fairy godmother and he must defend himself against faceless jurors after blood, and a confused NaNa Romo who integrates her shopping list into prophecies he needs to follow to find his way back home, away from the insanity of his mind…but is a healthy dose of crazy all he really needs to finish his journey of NaNoWriMo? And will he clean his room when he is finished?
It took me about four or five days to complete this for review, and I was disappointed when it ended. It was one of those books that I wanted to keep reading to find out what happens, but then, once it came to it’s conclusion, I felt myself feeling sad that I had to leave Christopher and his Figments. But I hope that Zanzibar has more in store for me, and Christopher. Whilst this is quite niche and definitely, participants of the great NaNoWriMo will understand this more than those who do not, it is still a great read, a fun read. There is so much to explore and be found in between these covers that the journey is half the fun, and upon finishing, you will find yourself crazier than you once were, but in a good way.

The Ice Cage by Joshua Cejka

The Ice Cage by Joshua Cejka

When the Twin Cities do winter festivals, they spare no expense – outside taverns with gas heating, photo Santa in a sleigh, room made of polished ice with a dead body inside… wait a minute. When such a very public affront to the festival spirit comes up, Homicide Detective Meg Brown must move as quickly as a reindeer to get the whole thing solved before the vaunted and famous Papa Brown Christmas dinner. Thankfully, a ‘usual suspect’ makes herself clear straight away, but of course nothing is quite so simple.

Can Meg clear the case before one of her suspects ends up dead at the hands of someone else? Can she gather the witnesses and evidence before the Christmas Ham gets cold? Can she ever get enough coffee? And just what does a mysterious nightclub owner have to do with all of it?

This is the fifth of the Meg Brown Mysteries and the first one of any length. If you haven’t read the others, please do. They’re fun. You’ll probably like them.

~*~

This was a first for me in my love of crime fiction and crime television shows, even considering I watch Castle, and they’ve investigated some fairly strange murders in the seven seasons the show has been going: death by candy cane to the eye. And at Christmas! With the case not so cut and dried as Meg hoped so she would be able to make it home for Christmas with her loved ones, Meg and Riggins are working against the clock to solve the case.
The pace of the writing and story was set out in a lovely fashion, and I found myself reading for over an hour one day, just to get to the end and find out what was going to happen and who had killed the victim with a candy cane. It is the mystery of the candy cane death and the looming spectre of Christmas, and family Christmas traditions. I enjoyed this just as much as the previous four, and am looking forward to reading book six, and any subsequent books in the series.
One thing I love about the Meg Brown books is their continuity with each other. In book four, we were introduced to Kenzie, Meg’s former enemy and now friend, and her daughter. The inclusion of them, and Spike, Meg’s best friend, connected the books in a seamless way. Also, the deliberate slow reveal of character’s lives and what they are like works well – I think it fits the way Cejka has chosen to tell these stories of Meg and her friends.
The climax of the story reveals an outcome that I never saw coming, and it worked. When everything seemed to wrap up tidily in a Christmas bow, so to speak, so easily, I did wonder if there was much more to the case than I had been presented with. And behold, there was! Wonderfully executed, and I hope to revisit these books one day.

obtained from Amazon

Craven by Melanie Casey

cravenBook Title: Craven, Book Two of the Cass Lehman and Ed Dyson series
Author: Melanie Casey
Publisher: Pantera Press
Genre: Crime
Release Date: June 1st, 2014
Book Synopsis: A reluctant psychic, a troubled detective… and a deeply twisted serial killer.

Moving to the city, Cass Lehman hoped to leave her recent notoriety behind her. Her ability to experience the final moments of a violent death helped the local police capture a serial killer, but also meant she was almost his first victim…

With a place of her own and a new job, things are looking up for Cass. But just as she starts to feel settled, Cass is targeted by a deranged stalker.

Are the personal attacks linked to a string of unsettling deaths that have left the police stumped?

Her gift is called on yet again by the one man she vowed she would never contact. Cass and police Detective Ed Dyson are thrown back into each other’s lives but can they overcome their feelings to put an end to the terror?

Will her experiences of death reveal the mind of the killer… or is there no such thing as a happy ending?

~*~

Picking up a year after where the devastating and traumatic events for both Cass and Ed left us in Hindsight, Craven brings a new world of threats to Cass and those she cares about. Things start out innocently enough in Adelaide with Cass house hunting. Though a vision of a death in one house, foreshadowed in the prologue, counts that house out. An effective way to bring Casey’s fans back into the fold, and reintroducing us to Cass and her gift, was the vision she had about the death that had taken place there. I would have liked to have known more about that victim and the case, but it served its purpose in the context of the novel and plot that was to follow.
Also in Adelaide, is Detective Ed Dyson, her former boyfriend and the police officer she assisted in the Fleurieu Killer case back in Jewel Bay twelve months ago, working with a new partner, in the Major Crime Investigative Branch, or MCIB, on a twelve-month secondment. When her car is vandalised, Cass calls Ed for help, spurring on a series of events that continue to throw them together, along with Dave, Ed’s new partner, and the only person Cass has been able to confide in since her move to Adelaide, Claire. Along with investigating his serial killer, Ed is thrown back into Cass’s life, trying to protect her from a stalker, yet little do they both know the danger hiding in the shadows that will befall them in the closing chapters of the novel.
Again, Casey has had me on the edge of my seat, with many sleepless nights out of a desire to find out what happens next and fear of the serial killer. I feel this fear is what makes her novels exceptionally well written, because I definitely felt the fear Cass felt. I felt her sleeplessness and I also felt her uncertainty about things. There were moments of sadness though, and moments where I wanted to shake some of the characters into thinking sense – again, this is why I loved this book, because the characters were so believable. They weren’t just black and white, they had grey areas and were flawed: nobody is perfect. Cass and Ed illustrate this in a wonderful way. I am looking forward to reading future Cass Lehman books, and I recommend the series to crime lovers anywhere.

Hindsight by Melanie Casey

hindsightBook Title: Hindsight, Book one of the Cass Lehman and Ed Dyson series
Author: Melanie Casey
Publisher: Pantera Press
Genre: Crime
Release Date: May 1st, 2013
Book Synopsis: Cass Lehman has a terrifying ‘gift’…The youngest in a family of extraordinary women with supernatural talents, Cass is cursed with the not-so-sexy gift of seeing the past…but not just any past; she sees death. For years she’s hidden herself away in her family home. Now, desperate for a better life, she ventures into sleepy Jewel Bay, only to stumble upon murder and mayhem and a killer at large who’s long been lurking in their midst. Taking a chance, Cass volunteers to assist Detective Ed Dyson with the investigation. Will Cass be able to save the latest victim – and herself?

~*~

As a lover of crime books, it took me less than a week to devour this book on my commute to and from an internship. Each page took me along Cass’s journey through her gift and isolation further and further, giving the reader an understanding of Cass that they can carry with them through the reading, and I quite like how the author revealed Cass and what she had been through to us throughout the novel, but at exactly the right times for readers to know. Aside to this, we have Cass, living at home in her twenties, struck by fear of her gift, and doing what she can to avoid it being triggered if she crosses a path where someone has died in the past. Cared for by her mother and grandmother, who also have manifestations of psychic gifts, Cass is sheltered until she meets Ed.
When Cass met Ed Dyson, his sneering attitude, along with the same attitude his partner, Phil, exhibited towards Cass, made me step back from him at first, yet as we learnt more about him and what had happened to his wife, Susan, and as his relationship with Cass developed, I grew to like him, and sympathise with him. I wanted him to find out what had happened to his wife, and when Cass made a connection between several of the victims, this became the turning point in their relationship and their quest to work together to find the perpetrator of the heinous crimes, the serial killer operating within the same time frame every year, leading to a breakthrough in the case of Ed’s wife, Susan. The raw emotion of the characters, especially Ed, when he linked his wife’s case to the other murders with Cass’s help with what seems like an inconsequential or coincidental link, and one that had been brushed aside by the detectives investigating, even Ed, leapt right off the page and kept me reading to see if the link Cass made between the victims became a tangible link instead of a coincidence that the detectives would soon follow.
It is this coincidence that leads them to bring in a suspect towards the end of the novel, and events following Cass attempting to confirm his identity cause a rift between Cass and Ed, and her life is soon in danger. Will Ed be able to save her before it’s too late?

This book had everything a good crime novel should have for me: an dark yet intriguing mystery, characters who have weaknesses and strengths we get to experience, a tight story line and a bad guy who is creepy, slimy and who we want to see chucked jail. A very good first novel from Melanie Casey.