22 August 2019

Traitor’s Codex by Jeri Westerson

Traitor's Codex (A Crispin Guest Mystery Book 11)


"Throughout this novel, themes of loyalty oaths taken, and re-evaluating what we thought we knew take the lead. Crispin and Jack both are forced to closely analyze the things they had always taken for, well, gospel truth."

AMAZON UK
AMAZON US 
AMAZON CA

Mystery
14th century
London

In 1394 London, Crispin Guest, self-styled Tracker of London, and his apprentice Jack Tucker are making ends meet with small jobs here and there. But their world gets turned upside down when a mysterious man drops a package in Crispin’s lap and disappears. Inside is a book written in a language Crispin has never seen. Making use of his varied contacts throughout the city, he learns that the book is written in Coptic and contains a secret gospel, the Gospel of Judas, which claims that Judas was the most beloved apostle and that salvation can come from within a person, not through Christ’s sacrifice. Knowledge of this gospel would overturn the Church’s authority and lead to a dangerous heresy, something even sceptical Crispin isn’t willing to allow. When people who have helped him start getting murdered, Crispin finds himself in the middle of a race to get the book to a safe place. In the meanwhile, someone in London is impersonating Crispin and wreaking havoc on his reputation… 

Throughout this novel, themes of loyalty, oaths taken, and re-evaluating what we thought we knew take the lead. Crispin and Jack both are forced to closely analyze the things they had always taken for, well, gospel truth, and both come away from their adventure changed in some fundamental ways. I think it was a good, if hard, lesson for Crispin to learn that Jews are people who have a great deal to contribute to his society and he realises he was not very good to them, or not as good as he could have been, only after two of his Jewish friends are killed. 

The subplot with Crispin’s copycat was amusing, and the way he handled it was very inventive. I liked how it came full circle in the end and Crispin used the man the way he did. It made that subplot more meaningful, rather than just a nuisance to Crispin that had no other purpose. 

The concept of loyalty also comes into play a lot throughout this novel. It was good to see Crispin evaluating his past role in the rebellion to place John of Gaunt on the throne and to understand the impact it had on others in ways he had never considered. Assessing one’s own thoughts and actions is an indication of a well-rounded adult and Crispin has really learned a lot about himself throughout the novels, and in this one especially. 

I am looking forward to the next book in the series with both excitement and bittersweetness, knowing it will be one of the last. But also - Excalibur! YES! I am also really, really curious to see how Crispin’s tale will end. I know *I* have my own ideas and hopes for how it will end and what will become of Crispin, Jack, and the rest. But it will be interesting to see if any of those align with Westerson’s plan for our favorite intrepid, disgraced knight. 

© Kristen McQuinn



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21 August 2019

A Discovering Diamonds review of No Stone Unturned by Pam Lecky


"In addition to the lively writing, the Victorian scenes set in London and Yorkshire were perfectly painted, the realistic dialogue and the actual plot moved along apace and I revelled in all the characters."

AMAZON UK 
AMAZON US 
AMAZON CA 

Mystery 
188os
London / Yorkshire


"London October 1886: Trapped in a troubled marriage, Lucy Lawrence is ripe for an adventure. But when she meets the enigmatic Phineas Stone, over the body of her husband in the mortuary, her world begins to fall apart. When her late husband’s secrets spill from the grave, and her life is threatened by the leader of London’s most notorious gang, Lucy must find the strength to rise to the challenge. But who can she trust and how is she to stay out of the murderous clutches of London’s most dangerous criminal?"


It always a pleasure to meet a new character created by a familiar author, and making the acquaintance of Lucy Lawrence was no exception. I enjoyed Ms Lecky's The Bowes Inheritance, and her various short stories, and thoroughly enjoyed this first of a planned series of murder mysteries. I hope there will be several!

In addition to the lively writing, the Victorian scenes set in London and Yorkshire were perfectly painted, the realistic dialogue and the actual plot moved along apace and I revelled in all the characters; Lucy herself, investigator Mr Stone, Mary the maid and the various 'baddies' were all so splendidly drawn they leapt to life on every page. I even liked the cat, Horace!  

From the opening chapter, I felt empathy with Lucy; her boredom, her resignation to a loveless marriage, her sheer frustration of not being able to do anything of true use or to stretch her mind - beyond charity work or visiting museums. This, above all else, rather brought home the monotony of daily life for the Victorian wife who did not have to work for a living. But then, for Lucy, her world was to change when she suddenly becomes a widow. 

No spoilers, but my heart went out to the poor woman during those first few days of bewilderment and confusion. I found myself wanting to give her a hug, and then bit my lip and worried about her as the story unfolded -  and cheered as well for her stout-heartedness

Oh well done Ms Lecky! 

© Mary Chappell 



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20 August 2019

Him Or You by N L Collier

Shortlisted for Book of the Month


Him or You (The Flowers of the Grass Book 3)

"
What this book does so wonderfully well is to place the reader into the squadron alongside these men. Through Franz's narration, we watch as they all struggle to cope with the pressures by drinking heavily when weather precludes any flying or they have finished for the day."

AMAZON UK
AMAZON US 
AMAZON CA

Military / Fictional Saga
1916
Belgium, the Western Front

This is Book 3 in a series and I would say from the outset that it is very advisable to read the first two in the series as I have. The reason being that this carries on directly from Book 2 (Below Us The Front) which in turn follows Book 1, Home Before the Leaves Fall and it would be very helpful to know the main characters.

Franz and Kurt, together with Kurt's brother Johnny, have been friends for years. Franz and Kurt had both served in the trenches before becoming flyers. And this is where we pick the story up in this volume. Their job is simple – shoot down as many 'Tommies' as they can and especially the Observer planes, which are always accompanied by at least two fighters.

What this book does so wonderfully well is to place the reader into the squadron alongside these men. Through Franz's narration, we watch as they all struggle to cope with the pressures by drinking heavily when weather precludes any flying or they have finished for the day. They drink (and utilise the local brothel) because they know they may not see another day. The turnover of pilots is rapid and each one of them knows their days are numbered. Both Karl and Franz suffer from nightmares of their times in the trenches, but they are not the only ones. Watching their fellows die becomes a regular occurrence and their biggest fear is from burning; this haunts Franz particularly.

Karl is a hotshot and is soon an 'Ace' – one who has shot down five enemy aircraft – and this causes traces of jealousy from his elder brother Johnny. Karl is calm, a fatalist; Franz is steady without being spectacular. And for the first time, the author explores the relationship between the two …

I found it impossible not to be moved by the characters – even the minor ones – and although the passage of each day is pretty much the same for them all, the author handles this extremely well without ever making the reader feel bored. 

Books on the horrors of World War I are plentiful, though very few deal with the state of the war in the air. This one takes on the task and succeeds magnificently. 

Very highly recommended by this reviewer

© Richard Tearle




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