Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Conduct in Question - Mary E. Martin

                Conduct in Question is a legal mystery thriller involving money laundering, a missing will and greedy relatives. Added to that is a sadistic serial killer nicknamed “The Florist” because he/she carves intricate flower designs on his/her victims.
                Harry is an estate lawyer whose elderly client, Marjorie, has passed just as she’s called him to her house so she can change her will. Harry’s a bit suspicious but is distracted when money problems plague him and his law firm after his partner dies. Conveniently, a wealthy man wants to hire Harry and give him a huge retainer that makes it all seem a little too good to be true. Scattered throughout the book are bits and pieces from The Florist’s point of view and by the end of the book, everything is tied together.
                Conduct in Question is the first book in the Osgoode Trilogy and I really enjoyed it. I don’t usually like legal thrillers as I find them often to be rather dry and filled with too much legalese. The author of this book, however, keeps the story flowing at a good pace with lots of entertaining mystery to keep my interest. I have to admit that I was about a quarter of the way through the book before I was completely hooked but after that I thoroughly loved the story and the characters were brilliantly written. Harry in particular was superbly multidimensional. He had his weaknesses and a lack of confidence but by the end he showed just how strong he could be. Even though he’s a lawyer, he’s very likeable and without the arrogance often exhibited by lawyers in books. It was easy to figure out who The Florist was and it was interesting to see this person as both a sadistic killer and someone who appeared to live normally in society. My only qualm with the book was that sometimes a paragraph would involve one character and without any kind of segue, the next paragraph moved on to a different character.
                I read this in a digital format and it worked well on my ereader. The editing was well done as well. The cover, for me, didn’t represent the story or draw my interest a whole lot.
                I look forward to reading the next book in the trilogy.

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Vanessa Schierman PhD Witch - Sandy Nathan

              Vanessa Schierman PhD. Witch is a short book of around one hundred and thirty pages on my ereader that contains three short stories about a character previously introduced in other Sandy Nathan novels. That character is Vanessa Schierman, a renowned theoretical physicist who also happens to be a witch. She is also the richest person in the world and, due to a small bit of narcissism, wants the world to know it. After an article stating that her nemesis (also the man she loves), Will Duane, is named the richest person in the world, she enlists the help of a journalist to write about her and tell the world the truth. The article written is not very flattering so she deals with the journalist in a rather unprofessional manner. The first story in the book is about all of these aspects and introduces a bit of Vanessa’s back story, although not nearly enough for me. I haven’t read any of the novels Vanessa has shown up in so I wasn’t familiar with the character at all. For those readers, like me, who aren’t familiar with her as a character, it would have been nice to have a bit more of an introduction about her and her past. A little about her background and some more of who she is and what makes her tick would have made the first story more enjoyable. Instead I felt like I opened the book in the middle and just started reading. The other two stories are much better and I was able to settle in to these stories and enjoy them much more. The second one, The Talisman and the Witch’s Code, was my favorite of the whole book. The writing has a faster pace and the characters were given more depth, in particular Vanessa and her niece, Adriana, who is not only a witch but also a vampire. The last story, How Did You Become a Witch, answers some questions about Vanessa that I had from the first story so it was a nice way to tie the book up. Plus there is a nice little door left open for another book involving Vanessa, Will, and Vanessa’s entertaining family. I would love to read a full length book involving all of these characters. They are fun, quirky, and just a little bit dark. I read this book on my ereader and the formatting and editing was well done. The cover is intriguing and does draw the reader’s eye to it. Overall, this is an entertaining read.

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Two Graves - Zoe Kalo

                I am a fan of Zoe Kalo’s work so when I was given the chance to read her new novella, Two Graves, I jumped at it and within the first few pages I was hooked. Ms. Kalo draws the reader in with a masquerade party, of sorts, and a main character secretly following another party-goer who is either her prey or himself up to no good. By the next chapter, we flash back seven years to find out a bit more about the main character, Anjelica, and her troubled past. This is the type of story where the author is going to keep the reader in the dark until the very end and, usually, I love these kinds of stories. However, to keep the reader’s attention, enough tidbits need to be given out to keep the reader wanting to turn the pages. For me, the story became too confusing by places and by the end I still wasn’t sure if I had things figured out correctly. All of the elements are there to make this a great story. The setting for the present is a mysterious and richly described masquerade party. The past is gritty and ugly which establishes the character of Anjelica as the tough, no nonsense type of woman she appears to be in the present. I really liked her, and the alternating time periods with each chapter allowed the reader to see how she changed throughout the seven years, but a bit more of development to her as a character may have added to the depth of the story. By the end, we find out why she is following the Maestro and a lot of it is inferred but not really explained. I would have enjoyed more information about the events leading up to the revelation at the end. I felt like it was assumed the reader would know what was going on without being told and as a reader, I enjoy having things laid out for me. I enjoy reading the explanations for why things have happened in a story. For me, there was too much chase at the masquerade and I started to get a bit bored because I wasn’t told why she was after him. I loved the “past” part of the novella and with a bit more explanation this would have been a great story. It is still a good read and well worth picking up.