Monday, November 21, 2011

Review: A Letter of Mary by Laurie R. King

I purchased this book at Borders, before its untimely demise. I was in the process of collecting all the titles in King's Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes series and this one and the previous Monstrous Regiment of Women were purchased at about the same time.

In this installment, a friend of Russell and Holmes comes from the Middle East, bearing gifts. Dorothy Ruskin, an amateur archeologist, brings Mary a beautiful Italian puzzle box which contained a papyrus purported to contain a message from Mary Magdalene. When Ms. Ruskin is killed in a suspicious car accident before she can return to her dig in the Middle East, Russell and Holmes take it upon themselves to solve the mystery of her demise.

I wasn't thrilled with this book. The series is going quickly downhill for me. I was a huge fan of the first book, The Beekeeper's Apprentice, but less so with the last installment, and even less so with this one. There just wasn't enough action for me in this book. I wanted to see Russell and Holmes get into and out of more scrapes than they did, do more detecting. I don't know. There just seemed to be a lot of boring undercover stuff and then a conclusion about what happened. We didn't get to SEE them solve the case. I didn't like that. And I wanted to hear more about the letter from Mary Magdalene. I kind of wanted Russell to devote more time to investigating it. It seemed like that story line sort of trailed off. Maybe it will be picked back up in the future?? Anyway, I'd give this one three and a half out of five Whatevers. I didn't hate it; in fact, I did think it was pretty good. I just hope the next book has a little more to offer, otherwise I might not make it through the rest of the series.


Friday, November 11, 2011

Review: Sandman Slim by Richard Kadrey

I received a copy of Sandman Slim from LibraryThing's Early Reviewer program.  Of course, by now I'm officially a Late Reviewer, as I think I was supposed to review this a couple of YEARS ago.  But anyway!

The book is about Stark, a magician whose friends banished him to Hell eleven years ago, then killed his girlfriend.  He's returned from Hell to seek out and kill Mason, the leader of the magical group responsible for Alice's death.  While in Hell, Stark perfected his killing abilities, returning to Earth stronger, faster, and more lethal than when he left.  So killing Mason should be relatively easy...right?

Wrong.  A host of demons, angels, and anti-angels stand between Stark and his quarry.  The book details Stark's attempts to seek out and kill Mason and how he overcomes the hurdles that stand in the way.

The novel definitely falls into the urban fantasy category.  I'm going to be sexist here and say it's a very MALE book.  While reading, I kept thinking that the voice was similar to what would exist if Stephen King and Anthony Bourdain had a baby.  Teenage boys would probably love this book, but I enjoyed it as well.  If you're not into blood and gore, cursing, or anti-religious themes, this would not be the book for you.  As none of those things particularly bother me, I didn't have any issues with the content.  My copy was an Advance Readers' Edition and, as such, was riddled with typos.  I hope those were corrected before the final edition was published.  They were a bit distracting for me, but I'm a grammar stickler like that.  The story, however, kept my interest fairly well.

I'd give the book three and a half out of five Whatevers.  If there were a sequel, and it feels like there might be, I'd probably check it out.  I enjoyed the character of Stark, and I would like to get to know some of the secondary characters better (Doc Kinski, Candy, Allegra, Vidocq).  Recommended for those with strong stomachs who enjoy hard-core urban fantasy.