Book Review: Breaking Butterflies by M. Anjelais

Breaking ButterfliesBreaking Butterflies
M. Anjelais
Chicken House, August 2014
ISBN: 978-0-545-66766-1
Hardcover

When we think of arranged marriages, what usually comes to mind are child brides in foreign countries or royalty in olden days. For Sphinx and Cadence, things were different, very much so, in fact. Their connection began when their mothers, Sarah and Leigh, met when they were seven. Leigh was the leader, Sarah the follower. As their friendship blossomed, Leigh began scripting everything that would happen to them, beginning with what they’d have as careers, that Sarah would have a girl, while she would have a boy and the two would bond, eventually marrying and provide another connected generation.

Leigh’s plan worked until it didn’t. Both married and got pregnant two months apart. Leigh had a boy, Sarah a girl and they were raised together. Like their moms, one took the lead, the other became a follower. Cadence thought up the best games and Spinx was happy to follow. Happy until the day Cadence took out a knife and sliced her face open.

Sarah’s father was furious, more at not heeding his suspicions about Cadence, raised when at age five, the boy crushed a butterfly and showed neither emotion or remorse. Leigh was devastated and hauled her son off to her house in England where her marriage soon fell apart.

Fast forward to when the kids are sixteen. Spinx has a modest social life, but has never had a boyfriend. She’s mostly content playing soccer and spending time with her girlfriends. Every morning, however, she sees the thin scar on her cheek before applying concealer and it reminds her of Cadence and her still conflicted feelings about him and what he said the day it happened.

A phone call from Leigh, who has remained friends with Sarah, starts in motion a strange journey for Spinx, one that’s both physical and emotional. Cadence has an aggressive form of leukemia and wants her to come see him before he dies. Despite her fear, she realizes that something inside is telling her she has to do this, so she and Sarah agree to come to England for one week.

Despite Cadence’s abruptness and rudeness, Spinx comes to believe that coming was the right thing to do and when it’s time to go, she convinces her mother to let her stay until Cadence dies.

What transpires as she waits for his passing, particularly in terms of her growing insight and understanding make for a compelling read. I expected this to be more of a horror story, but it’s sad and Spinx’s growing awareness of how intertwined the two of them really are is quite insightful, particularly in terms of portraying Cadence and what’s really wrong with him.

Reviewed by John R. Clark, MLIS, July 2016.

No Fleas On Reacher

Jeanne Matthews 2Jeanne Matthews is the author of the Dinah Pelerin international mysteries published by Poisoned Pen Press. Like her amateur sleuth, Jeanne was born with a serious wanderlust. Originally from Georgia, she enjoys traveling the world and learning about other cultures and customs, which she incorporates into her novels. She currently lives in Renton, Washington with her husband who is a law professor. Where the Bones Are Buried, the fifth book in the series, is in bookstores now . You can learn more about Jeanne’s books at http://www.jeannematthews.com

I haven’t gotten as much writing done this summer as I’d hoped and my dearth of accomplishment started me thinking about Colette. Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette was the avant-garde French novelist whose works explored the problems encountered by women in their struggle for independence in a male-dominated society.  In addition to her writing, she was a journalist and a stage actress, while leading what can only be described as a lively, not to say strenuous, love life.  I couldn’t help but wonder what accounted for her productivity.

Like most writers, Colette had a few kinky rituals.  The ritual I’ve been contemplating is the one about fleas.  She couldn’t sit down and write the first word until she’d spent several hours plucking fleas off her beloved French bulldogs, Toby Chien and Souci.  Her cat, Kiki-la-Doucette, offered an equal plentitude of fleas and Colette certainly didn’t neglect Kiki’s grooming.  But it was Toby Chien whom the author regarded as her muse, and presumably it was the time she spent scouting for fleas beneath his short, sleek fur that whetted her imagination.  Her third husband said that when she finished her daily flea-picking, she leapt up and bounded to her typewriter as if seized by sudden inspiration.

I’ve not read any scientific opinions on the benefits of flea-picking, but it occurs to me that Colette may have attributed her itch to write to the wrong muse.  Fleas are remarkable jumpers, able to leap over a hundred times their height, and they’re not finicky about which species they prefer.  It occurs to me that Colette may have leapt off the divan and dashed to her typewriter because she’d been bitten by une puce.  Not that le chien didn’t contribute some good ideas.  I so want to believe in the inspirational potential of les chiens.

Jeanne Matthews Reacher

A few months ago, I acquired a Norwich terrier named Jack Reacher, after Lee Child’s fictional knight-errant.  Through the modern miracle of Frontline and NexGard, Reacher has no fleas.  He’s all flealess energy and enthusiasm and curiosity.  He is approximately fifty-five inches shorter than Child’s Reacher, but he has amazing – well, reach.  Nothing left on the chairs or a low shelf is safe.  I’m more likely to leap off the divan to rescue a chewable thesaurus or my husband’s iPod than I am to race to the computer and begin writing.  In fact, Reacher Chien is something of an anti-muse.

Like all terriers, he loves games.  Remember the movie, “After the Thin Man”?  In one scene, someone has thrown a rock through Nick and Nora’s window.  The rock has a piece of paper wrapped around it, but before they can get to it, their fox terrier Asta snatches it and gleefully darts away. When Nick and Nora finally chase Asta down and retrieve the message, most of it is missing.  “Bad dog,” says Nora.  “You ate the clue.”  Metaphorically speaking, Reacher is eating my clues before I can write them.

Whenever I feel an idea coming on and head for the computer, Reacher comes roaring through the house with a ball in his mouth, looking irresistibly adorable.  Then diabolically, he rolls the ball under the furniture and barks incessantly until I go down on my hands and knees and retrieve it for Where the Bones are Buriedhim.  I spend a lot of the day trying to locate and retrieve stolen items – socks, pens, books, eyeglasses.  Often they aren’t discovered in their original, pristine condition.  My eyeglasses have only one earpiece and Shakespeare’s Bawdy could not be glued back together.  He demands at least two walks each day and, in between walks, he wants to sit in my lap – displacing the laptop.

It’s evil, I know, but I’ve considered skipping the Nexgard for a month.  If hand-plucking Reacher’s fleas meant that I could finally finish my novel, I might do it.  Then again, maybe I’m just suffering from a case of the summer blahs.  I’ll look into the customs and rituals of other prolific writers.  I read somewhere that Sir Walter Scott wrote while riding his horse.  There’s a thought.  Reacher could never keep up with a horse.

Book Review: Buffalo Jump Blues by Keith McCafferty

Buffalo Jump BluesBuffalo Jump Blues
A Sean Stranahan Mystery #5
Keith McCafferty
Viking, June 2016
ISBN 978-0-5254-2959-3
Hardcover

From the publisher:  In the wake of Fourth of July fireworks in Montana’s Madison Valley, Deputy Sheriff Harold Little Feather and Hyalite County Sheriff Martha Ettinger investigate a horrific scene at the Palisades cliffs, where a herd of bison [a/k/a buffalo] have fallen to their deaths.  Are they victims of blind panic caused by the pyrotechnics, or a ritualistic hunting practice dating back thousands of years?  The person who would know is beyond asking, an Indian man found dead among the bison, his leg pierced by an arrow.  Farther up the valley, fly fisherman, painter and sometime private detective Sean Stranahan has been hired by the beautiful Ida Evening Star – – a Chippewa Cree woman who moonlights as a mermaid at the Trout Tails Bar & Grill  – to find her old flame, John Running Boy.  The cases seem unrelated, until Sean’s search leads him right to the brink of the buffalo jump.

This is the fifth entry in the series, and to call it eclectic would be an understatement.  Both the fishing and wildlife aspects of it, which predominate in the early sections, are entirely foreign to this reader, whose usual preference is for character-driven novels.  But the header for Chapter 8, “A Mermaid, an Arrowhead, and True Love,” captures the elements of most of the rest of the book.  The aforementioned Ida is the first of these, the arrowhead a piece of evidence in the search for the murderer of the Indian Man, and true love is – well, as Sean says: “True love knows not logic nor lust, but the synchronized bearing of hearts.”

The bison was the “icon of the West” that only a century ago had stood at the brink of extinction.  When Harold comes upon the first body, he puts the dying animal out of its misery.  He muses, “The irony of what he had done, killing the first bison to have returned to these ancient hunting grounds in one hundred and fifty years, was not lost on him.”  But he had done what he had to do, and cannot second-guess himself.  Shanahan is a terrific protagonist, of whom Martha says “You’re what I call a Montana Renaissance man.  You have about five different jobs and still you have to stick a hose down a gas tank to siphon up enough fuel to get to the store.”  (He guides during the trout season, writes for fishing magazines and paints in the winter (or when he gets a commission).  He says of himself “I’m a better artist than I am a detective.  Or fishing guide.”  But he is selling himself short, as he demonstrates during the ensuing investigation, assisting Martha in the search for the man or men behind the events.  The geography of Montana is vividly presented.  The writing is terrific and filled with humor, e.g., “Fishermen are born honest, but they get over it.”  The beauty of Montana is vivid, and that and the wonderful writing have pointed me to the fourth novel in the series which I had somehow missed, Crazy Mountain Kiss, next up for this reader.

Recommended.

Reviewed by Gloria Feit, June 2016.

Waiting On Wednesday (41)

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event that
spotlights upcoming releases that I’m really
looking forward to. Waiting On Wednesday
is the creation of Jill at Breaking the Spine.

This week’s “can’t-wait-to-read” selection is:

Continue reading

Book Review: There Once Were Stars by Melanie McFarlane

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Title: There Once Were Stars
Author: Melanie McFarlane
Publisher: Month9Books
Publication Date: April 26, 2016
Genres: Science Fiction, Dystopian, Young Adult

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There Once Were StarsThere Once Were Stars
Melanie McFarlane
Month9Books, April 2016
ISBN 978-0-9968904-0-3
Trade Paperback

From the publisher—

Peace. Love. Order. Dome. That’s the motto that the Order has given the residents of Dome 1618 to live by. Natalia Greyes is a resident of Dome 1618, a covered city protected from the deadly radiation that has poisoned the world outside for four generations. Nat never questioned the Order, until one day she sees a stranger on the outside of the dome. Now Nat wants answers. Is there life outside the dome and if so, what has the Order been hiding from everyone?

Although I know everybody isn’t a fan of Under the Dome by Stephen King, I am and I like the idea of a society closed off this way. That kind of setting is the first thing that drew me to There Once Were Stars, that and the fact that it’s a dystopian tale. While I had some niggling issues, I enjoyed Nat’s story on the whole.

Society lives under domes because, in the past, a deadly worldwide virus struck and the powers that be chose to irradiate the world to stop it. This was the first hiccup for me as I can’t imagine such a response to a pandemic being thought a good idea, much less the world’s leaders agreeing to it, but it’s certainly a fresh concept for a subgenre that’s becoming a little roadweary. Living under domes has “evolved” into tightly controlled situations with many restrictions on citizens’ freedoms and they’re told that life is not possible on the outside.

Nat is a likeable girl if quite immature. That immaturity isn’t totally surprising considering her very limited life experience but I’m not sure how the people got to the point of almost sheep-like adherence to the rules and her lack of real interest in the outside is odd since she is selected to work in the science unit. I really didn’t expect her story to revolve so much around her personal issues…and a dreaded love triangle…and she was kind of whiny but I *did* like Nat so I mentally encouraged her to pursue answers to the questions she has, particularly about the outside and how people can be surviving despite the admonitions that it’s still too deadly.

There’s a lot of potential in a storyline that involves a virus that produces zombies and a world that’s contaminated by nuclear radiation and, in some ways, I was quite satisfied except that the pace was pretty unexciting, almost making such life-altering conditions something of an adjunct to “a day in the life of”. Eventually, though, Nat begins to really question everything she’s been told all her life and the story picks up. Still, I found it really odd that Evan, the boy Nat saw outside the dome, is assigned to work in the science unit as though he hasn’t just apparently defied the government’s restrictions and secrets.

On the whole, this wasn’t the tightest dystopian I’ve read or even close to it but I never felt the urge to give up and, long before it was over, I’d become comfortable with the discrepancies and occasional plot holes. I wasn’t left with the sense that there will be a sequel but, should there be one, I’d like to spend more time with Nat & Company.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, August 2016.

About the Author

Melanie McFarlaneMelanie McFarlane is a passionate writer of other-wordly adventures, a little excitable, and a little quirky. Whether it’s uncovering the corruption of the future, or traveling to other worlds to save the universe, she jumps in with both hands on her keyboard. Though she can be found obsessing over zombies and orcs from time to time, Melanie focuses her powers on writing young adult stories to keep the rest of the world up reading all night.

She lives with her husband and two daughters in the Land of Living Skies.

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An Interview with Carole Nelson Douglas

Carole Nelson DouglasFor a quarter of a century, Carole Nelson Douglas’s Midnight Louie mystery series has explored social issues and pop culture through a cast of four human crime solvers: two women, two men; two pros; two amateurs. Midnight Louie’s intermittent voice and investigations, described as “an irresistible combination of Nathan Detroit and Sam Spade”, both celebrate and satirize Noir detective fiction.

Driven to write popular fiction during college by helpless female protagonists, Carole had an award-winning newspaper journalism career before she finished and sold that college novel. She’s written sixty New York-published novels, including the New York Times Notable Book of the year, Good Night, Mr. Holmes. Carole was the first woman to write a Sherlock Holmes spin-off series and the first to use a female protagonist from the Canon, Irene Adler. She’s also written nationally bestselling high and urban fantasy series. Off the keyboard, she rescues cats, collects vintage anything, and designs book covers for her new indie pub career.

Website // Twitter // Facebook // Goodreads

Ms. Douglas is here today to
answer a few “probing” questions:

cncbooks: When and why did you become interested in writing mysteries, not to mention some fantasy early on?

Ms. Douglas: As a reporter, I relaxed reading through mystery and science fiction novels. The SF classics, Ursula LeGuin and Roger Zelazny and Andre Norton (the rare woman back then), the mystery greats Josephine Tey and Dorothy Sayers etc. My first novel, the updated Gothic, Amberleigh, was a mystery, and even had an 1893 Irish terrorism subplot, like the contemporary Louie books have a contemporary one today. Only the Irish achieved a Peace. It seemed Tolkienesque fantasy would be my bestselling genre, but when that was mispublished, I wrote two slightly SF thrillers. Then I saw a notice that a new Sherlock Holmes spin-off novel series was forthcoming, written as always by a man about a secondary male character in the series. I thought, “Why don’t women do this; we all read Doyle”? So I wrote Good Night, Mr. Holmes, which became a NYT Notable Book of the Year. I didn’t even realize it would be shelved as mystery until it was almost released. (I considered it a small subgenre of the science fiction/fantasy world, as SH has always been.)

Midnight Louie had been written as a framing narrator in a romance quartet. The editor bought the concept, but booted most of Louie and the mystery elements out, so I flipped the concept and Louie into full-fledged mystery, with relationships. His mysteries debuted two years later after the first Adler. And he’s been going since then.

cncbooks: How difficult is it to keep up with the rigors of multiple series?

Ms. Douglas: We see many writers were active in theater at one time, so are used to switching from Shakespeare to Noel Coward to Neil Simon. Writing about varying settings and characters is invigorating and keeps things fresh. I just had an idea today of how I can resurrect one of my earlier and dated novel series. Living that long is the challenge.

cncbooks: If you had it to do over again, what would you do differently in your writing career?

Ms. Douglas: This may be too much “raw realism” for the audience.

Big freshman mistake. I’d had two wildly unexpected successful national bestsellers heading me for the NYT list in a genre not mystery, and a new publisher had paid a lot for new books. I was to have dinner with the publisher in NYC and he’d said the founder of fan magazine would join us. I’d met the man and he creeped me out the way he took my picture. I saw women authors tarting themselves up to get pictured in the magazine. I’d been covering women’s issues in my former newspaper job and was not about to play. I had no idea he had such power, and that dinner would have put the publisher’s seal of approval on me. My first books made the magazine’s bestseller lists, but he made me invisible in his publication. It hurt my career and livelihood, along with other factors, and I was driven to move on to mystery. Sound crazy? That is the way it was, and I was there, to paraphrase that old TV show with John Cameron Swayze, “You Are There”.

cncbooks: Do you think social networking, blogging, tweeting, etc., are worthwhile promotional tools for authors or do they steal too much time away from career writing?

Ms. Douglas: Obviously, I don’t think they’re valuable enough because I am so not able to keep up with all of that.

cncbooks: Is there one author (mystery or otherwise) who has really influenced your writing career?

Ms. Douglas: Many authors, good and bad (even more), influenced my writing. I started a novel in college to reinvent the witless, spineless heroines of sixties’ Gothics. The most important author in my having a career doing that was the late Garson Kanin, 1940’s-70s Hollywood and Broadway director and novelist and memoirist, who 12 years later took that finally finished first college novel to his publishing house on the basis of an interview and newspaper story I’d done on him five years earlier. And it sold, even though it was by then “off-market”. Thanks, Garson!

cncbooks: What part of your crime research has been the most interesting?

Ms. Douglas: For a while, the trend was for authors to visit medical examiner’s offices, more than one, and until you’ve seen a brain being sliced like salami, you haven’t lived.

cncbooks: What has been the toughest criticism you’ve been given as an author? What has been the best compliment?

Ms. Douglas: An author really can’t afford to listen to anything but the muse. The worst: any one-star review on Amazon, though the early zeal to obliterate has moderated with time. The best: the man who emailed me that he’d been reading one of my Irene Adler books aloud to his wife in the hospital. That was so nice to hear. She was blind. That was so touching. He went on to say “She died at the end of Chapter 18”. That destroyed me. I went racing to look up the chapter. Was it worthy to be the last thing a person heard? Oddly, there was a gentle reference to mortality in that section. Many readers say they find solace in our books, and that’s the best critique.

cncbooks: What do you like best about being a writer? What do you like the least?

Ms. Douglas: The writing, when my husband leaves the house and magically appears again five minutes later. Uh, in real time two hours later. I hate being unable to answer every reader who’s ever sent me a card or a letter, or an email. I keep them all, and my annual four-page newsletter is an apology.

cncbooks: Are you a plotter or a pantser, i.e., do you outline your books ahead of time or are you an “organic” writer?

Ms. Douglas: My conscious mind is a “pantser” and only outlines in emergencies. My subconsious is a plotter that is up to things behind the scenes. When they finally meet on the page, I slap my forehead and say “Of course, I knew that’s where I was going!” That’s a lie.

cncbooks: If you had one take away piece of advice for authors, what would it be?

Ms. Douglas: I always paraphrase Jimminy Cricket, that profound mentor. “Let your subconscious be your guide.” Don’t outthink yourself. Let your imagination fly. Don’t censor yourself. Don’t edit yourself until you have a page or a chapter to look over the next day. Writing a novel is like whitewater rafting: you know you’re going to get somewhere, and it may be a bumpy ride, but you need that momentum to stay afloat.

cncbooks: What do you read for pleasure when you’re writing?

Ms. Douglas: Biography and social history, art books, really! Sometimes the current “hot book” like Gone Girl.

cncbooks: Who did you pretend to be when you were a kid?

Ms. Douglas: Every female movie musical star on the planet, especially my fave, Judy Garland. I’m tone deaf and have no singing range, but am a champion lip syncher. I actually can perform “Your servant, indeed I’m not you’re servant” from independent teacher Anna in “The King and I” (I was a very early feminist), and can do a credible Richard Burton from “Camelot” because those were “talked.”

cncbooks: Did you read mysteries when you were a child or teenager?

Ms. Douglas: Nancy Drew, Nancy Drew, Nancy Drew. My mother was a widowed elementary school teacher, and she had to take me on her annual July visits to St. Paul Book and Stationery Company downtown for school supplies. Every time, please, please, please, can I have a Nancy Drew for 99 cents? What a bargain that was! When I was a teen, I put them in a car trunk and took them to a friend in a tiny North Dakota town where my grandparents lived. I was literally giving away the “things of a child”. Also a future fortune in collectibles, but what I got was the idea that “girls can do unexpected things”.

I devoured every “genre” on the family bookshelves as a young reader, which included Balzac and Kipling etc. My favorite books at eight were Little Women, The Three Musketeers, the plays of Oscar Wilde, and Edgar Allan Poe. I’ve probably been writing variations and riffs on all four ever since. I loved an Africa-set obscure, but awarded Polish novel, Through the Desert, about a 19th-century Mideast uprising following two lost children surviving in a war zone. I typed out a letter to Hollywood to make a movie and put me in the role of the eight-year-old heroine before I was too old for the part. I don’t recall any family member sending that for me, but I discovered a Polish film was made decades later, without me.🙂

cncbooks: Name one place you’d like to visit, anywhere in the world, and tell us why.

Ms. Douglas: Machu Pichu. The mists, the mystique, the mythology, the ruins have always called to me. However, I got altitude sickness on Pike’s Peak.

cncbooks: If you could spend a weekend with one fictional character not your own, who would it be and why?

Ms. Douglas: Once it would have been Sherlock Holmes, but I’ve done that through my Irene Adler novels. So . . . Scarlett O’Hara, so strong and so bipolar before her time. What would she think of women in our time? What did tomorrow bring?

cncbooks: When you began the series, did you expect Louie to end up with his own sort of Rat Pack?

Ms. Douglas: Not at all. The series explores human (and cat) family relations, good and bad, and the cat universe expanded book by book to Louie meeting his feisty unacknowledged daughter, Midnight Louise, and father and mother. His mother named herself “Ma Barker”. She’s the battle-tested head of Vegas’s toughest feral cat clowder, or pack . Truth to tell, hard-boiled Louie would deny it, but he’s a bit hen-pecked by his female relatives, and that is true to animal behavior.

cncbooks: What made you decide a cat would be a terrific character?

Ms. Douglas: “Meeting” the “real and original” Midnight Louie, a twenty-pound black cat, who managed to finagle a woman into flying him home 1800 miles to save him from being sent to the pound to be killed. What a survivor! What a Ladies’ man! (with all species, I add). When I was a recovering high fantasy and romance writer, I realized he was Sam Spade in a cat suit and made him the authentic “noir” narrator of his own mystery series.

cncbooks: Do you carry on conversations with Temple while you’re working on the story?

Ms. Douglas: No, my characters have conversations with each other, and I just write it down. I pick a setting and two characters with “issues” or in a crisis and off they go. At book four, I introduced a new male protagonist and told him mentally , “Okay. You really need to be strong to top the other characters”. And he delivered a line of dialogue that had me saying, “I didn’t know you had that in you.” Now it’s all a subconscious flow. In the Midnight Louie series I have four main human point-of-view characters I pop in and out of like a body-shifter. As a a theater and English major I got used to “picking the meat out of a walnut” when it comes to interpreting and creating dialogue and narrative.

cncbooks: What is the best weapon a lady can take with her on a first date?

Ms. Douglas: A lady would never date a man who required a concealed weapon to behave (I was taught by nuns for 16 years), but a long, strong nail file is a good start.

cncbooks: How much of you is in your character, Temple?

Ms. Douglas: Less than some might think. I’m short and always loved high heels because of that–seeing more than shoulderblades in a crowd is divine–but I was inspired by a tiny high school theater director on spikes and endless energy, who maneuvered hulking high school boys into being actors, and self-confident. Temple’s observations on human nature are shared, though. She is the nucleus character around which everyone revolves.

cncbooks: What would Temple, Delilah and Irene think of each other?

Ms. Douglas: Oh, my. Delilah is an action heroine from a post-monster apocalypse Las Vegas, and my Irene Adler once had a sword duel with a nobleman while she was disguised as Sarah Bernhardt’s teenage son. So Delilah and Irene would buckle swash together and Temple would write a screenplay about them and sell it to Reese Witherspoon’s production company. Chicks rule.

Cat in an Alphabet Endgamecncbooks: Can you tell us a little bit about Cat in an Alphabet Endgame?

Ms. Douglas: I started the Midnight Louie, feline Pi series because I saw his part-time Sam Spade-Nathan Detroit narrative voice had a lot to say about our human world. I created four human crime-solvers–two amateur, two pro; two men, two women–who would go from allies to antagonists as their characters and the story grows and also record the social issues from 1991 with the AIDS panic to today’s terrorism. With each book a chapter in one mega-novel, it was important to make the order evident, so I used the interior alphabet in the titles.

Cat in an Alphabet Endgame ties up the continuing character and crime arcs of the 28 books, answering who (and how) and why some cold case murders fit into the puzzles in all the previous books.This where all the main characters find closure on their flawed family pasts and hard-won futures. And, yes, Midnight Louie’s “roommate”, energetic, tenacious petite PR woman, Temple Barr, will marry someone. Team Max is rooting for the enigmatic, terrorism-marked magician and counterterrorism agent. Team Matt is rooting for the ex-priest who started by hunting his abusive stepfather and found a career helping others as a radio counselor.

cncbooks: What is your favorite scene in Cat in an Alphabet Endgame and why?

Ms. Douglas: It’s when Matt, the ex-priest, finally meets the lowlife “real” son of his abusive stepfather, who had missed and loved his absent dad, mean or not. They are antagonists with opposing goals, but they don’t interact the way anyone would think. I love characters who surprise me and themselves.

cncbooks: What’s next for Temple, Louie and you?

Ms. Douglas: We’re cooking up a continuing scenario with an interesting twist on what someone called Louie’s “slightly surreal” Las Vegas.

Thank you so much for visiting today. I can hardly
wait to start Cat in an Alphabet Endgame and I’m
*so* glad to hear that Temple and Louie are not going
to be gone for long even if this series is finis🙂

 

Book Review: American Nights by Gerrie Ferris Finger

American NightsAmerican Nights
A Moriah Dru / Richard Lake Mystery #6
Gerrie Ferris Finger
Five Star, August 2016
ISBN 978-1-4328-3221-6
Hardcover

From the publisher—

Saudi Arabian prince, Husam al Saliba, hires child-finder Moriah Dru to find his missing wife, Reeve and daughter, Shahrazad.

The inquiry begins with Husam tells Dru of falling in love with Reeve, of turning his back on his ascendancy to the Saudi power structure for the woman he loves. He talks of his king’s disapproval of him marrying and siring an infidel.

But there are cracks in his story. At times he seems to long to return to the good graces of the royal family and marry cousin Aya and be an heir to kingship. Sometimes Dru thinks she’s fallen into a fairy tale, since the prince is fond of telling tales from the Arabian Nights.

Her search for mother and child had just begun when Reeve’s parents, Lowell and Donna Cresley were killed. They hated their prince son-in-law for fear of losing their grandchild to the land of his ancestors and for a generally racist attitude. The prince is immediately suspected when the Atlanta police, in the person of Dru’s lover Lt. Richard Lake, come into the case.

It’s soon evident infidelity abounds and everyone has something dreadful to hide.

When a four-year-old child and her mother go missing and a Middle Eastern prince hires Moriah to find his wife and daughter, she’s initially perplexed. This clearly is not the kind of abduction she would have expected involving Saudi law and religion and, with a French-born child and American mother, Interpol and a US federal agency should be looking for the pair. What makes it even more puzzling is that the prince insists that the investigation remain private. Moriah agrees to look into the matter but with one caveat…she must be allowed to discuss the case with her other half, Atlanta police lieutenant Richard Lake, although the APD will not be involved.

Most surprising of all is that, upon first meeting Prince Husam, he doesn’t seem very concerned, just slightly impatient that Reeve and Shara have been gone longer than usual. Still, it’s apparent that their disappearance could be connected to the king’s disapproval of the marriage and the need for a successor, most likely Husam.

When Reeve’s parents are murdered, the case takes on an entirely new aspect with hints of bigotry and infidelity and their hatred of Husam, leading Moriah and Lake in several directions. Every theory and idea they have, though, goes right out the window when Moriah learns that Husam is not at all who he purports to be and that he has some very powerful secrets.

As always, I enjoyed spending time with Moriah and Lake and this case takes them far beyond the norm. This is a couple I really like, largely due to the respect they have for each other and the way they can share information openly because of the absolute…and warranted…trust. They’re a power couple in their own way and about as appealing as can be. Ms. Finger has given us another winner😉

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, August 2016.