For my last FFB review of 2016, I offer
my review of the fourth book in the Ruth Galloway Mystery Series. Make sure you
check out the full list of reading suggestions at Patti Abbott’s blog.
Kate is going to be a
year old as of November1, 2009 and her mother, Doctor Ruth Galloway, is keenly aware
that in all likelihood she is failing at motherhood across the board. It is one
thing to be head of Forensic Archelogy at the University of North Norfolk. It
is quite another thing to raise a child as a single parent. In addition to
everything else the overwhelmed mother is doing, she was talked into having a
birthday party for Kate. That means she is desperately racing though the market
trying to find the right stuff for adults and kids in attendance before heading
to another appointment.
Dr. Galloway is glad
the child escaped being born on Halloween. Bad enough she has Pagan godfather,
but at least she was born on All Saints Day. Dr. Galloway needs to get the
shopping done quickly as she has to get over to the local museum for a media
event. With the department chair out of town, Dr. Galloway has to stand in to
represent the University at the Smith Museum for the opening of the coffin believed
to belong to Bishop Augustine Smith.
Discovered at a site
that was once a church destroyed by bombing during WW2 the industrial land had
kept several secrets until now. As the site was being cleared and worked for a new
building, the foundations of a medieval church were discovered. Also found was
most likely the high alter for the ancient church. Underneath that, a coffin was
discovered that dates back to the fourteenth century. The inscriptions on the coffin
and other clues indicate that it holds the remains of Bishop Augustine Smith.
If that is true, it would mean that Bishop Augustine Smith was entombed at a
fairly minor parish church in King’s Lynn and not at Norwich Cathedral as
historians have long believed.
With descendants of
Bishop Smith alive and well connected, somebody made a decision to open the
coffin in front of the media. The bones have to be examined and carbon dated,
but first there has to be media coverage despite the fact that Lord Danforth
Smith would prefer otherwise. The Smith Museum and its contents are part of a
family legacy tied to the Bishop and numerous other parties so opening the
coffin at the museum is going to be a media event. This is history and the
opening of the coffin must be recorded and presented for all to see.
That is until Ruth
goes deep into the Smith Museum and finds the curator, Neil Topham, dead on the
floor next to the coffin. She calls for help and before long DCI Henry Nelson
and his team are involved in the case. It is not long after that when a second
body is discovered. History, legends, and the past are all present, but clearly,
there is a very modern day murderer at work in A Room Full of Bones.
The fourth book in
the series that began with The Crossing Places is another good
one. Though it could have been better as a plot point used for one character is
used again here for another one. By doing so, it comes across as a soap opera
contrivance and a cliché and not character development as intended. It also
creates a moment of incredulity for the reader and is jarring due to the
stupidity of it all.
Still the history and
the mystery are strong storytelling elements in A Room Full of Bones as
is the ongoing personal relationship between individuals as well as the
investigative team as a whole. This series is as much about the mystery and the
past as it is about how these characters live their lives away from the job.
Even the minor characters are not superfluous or shallow. These series features
books of depth and complexity and are very much worth your time. They must be
read in order.
By the time this appears, assuming the creek don't rise and the traffic don't stop us, we will be down at the hospital for Sandi. Today she is to have the IVIG infusion that will take all morning and maybe a piece of the afternoon. After more than thirty of these treatments just over the last couple of years, we have this routine down and pretty much know what to expect not only today, but the next few days.
Still, if you would and have the time, please keep a good thought for her. It isn't chemo, but this stuff hits her pretty hard too.
Carrie Fisher died this morning due to, according to local media reports, complications from her heart attack last week. I had so hoped she was going to survivce this. there had been a little encouragement over the weekend based on reports of family members saying she was stable.
As I just said on Lesa Holstine's FB page, "Between
the political crap and the death of icons, one wants to go live in a
cave with no access. It is like everything creative and wonderful is
I first heard about Patreon a few weeks ago. While it was suggested to me to use it for reviews or my own fiction, I could not figure out a way to do so. With three books out and a fourth on the way, author Jenny Milchman did. Check out what she came up with on her page.
Kicking off this final
week of December is Judy Penz Sheluk with a drink recipe. It ties into her mystery, The Hanged Man’s Noose. Depending on how the holiday weekend was at your place you
may really need this today….
How to Make a
It’s holiday time, and so I thought it would be fun to share
my Treasontini recipe.
You can find the Treasontini on the cover of The Hanged Man's Noose, which also
happens to be the name of a pub in Lount’s Landing, the small town where the
book is set. The Treasontini, a blueberry martini, is the Noose’s signature
drink; the town is named after Samuel Lount, a real-life nineteenth century
traitor who was hanged for treason.
2 oz. Blueberry Vodka
2 oz. Triple Sec
2 oz. Blueberry Juice
1 dash Club Soda
Fresh or Frozen Blueberries
Preparation: Combine blueberry vodka, triple sec and blueberry
juice in a cocktail shaker half-filled with ice cubes. Shake well and strain
into a cocktail glass. Top with club soda, garnish with blueberries, and serve.
The Hanged Man’s
Noose is on sale for $3.99 ebook from Dec. 26th to Jan. 15th on
Amazon/iTunes/Kobo/Nook. It’s also on at 33% off print at the publisher! Here’s
a bit about it:
Journalist Emily Garland lands a plum assignment as the
editor of a niche magazine based in Lount’s Landing, a small town named after a
colorful Canadian traitor. As she interviews the local business owners for the
magazine, Emily quickly learns that many people are unhappy with real estate
mogul Garrett Stonehaven’s plans to convert an old schoolhouse into a mega-box
store. At the top of that list is Arabella Carpenter, the outspoken owner of an
antiques shop, who will do just about anything to preserve the integrity of the
town’s historic Main Street.
But Arabella is not alone in her opposition. Before long, a
vocal dissenter at a town hall meeting about the proposed project dies. A few
days later, another body is discovered, and although both deaths are ruled
accidental, Emily’s journalistic suspicions are aroused.
Putting her reporting skills to the ultimate test, Emily
teams up with Arabella to discover the truth behind Stonehaven’s latest scheme
before the murderer strikes again.
Barking Rain Press,
the publisher of The Hanged Man’s Noose, is offering 33% off all e-books,
whether purchased on their website or directly through our distributors. That
amounts to $3.99. In addition, they are offering 33% off all print books
purchased through their website only. Here's a link to the promo page:
I woke up at 5 and could not get back to sleep so I gave up and got up just before six. Been working on reading a submission for a publisher while the rest of the household continues to sleep. Very warm and windy morning here so I have the back door open as well as the windows. On behalf of all of us I just want to say thank you for all your thoughts, prayers, and support this past year. It has been a hard one in so many ways. Some of which I shared, but far more I never said a word about. I don't have much hope about things getting better as we roll forward into the new year, but still here and we are doing our best to hang in.
From our little spot in North Texas we wish each and every one of you a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and a wonderful holiday season.
As 2016 comes to an end, KRL is playing catch up on
reviews--so check out this great group of reviews & giveaways of mysteries
from Penguin and Kensington authors-"Dangling by a Thread": Mainly
Needlepoint Mystery by Lea Wait, "Hooking for Trouble": A Crochet
Mystery by Betty Hechtman, "Saddle Up for Murder": A Carson Stables
Mystery by Leigh Hearon, "Prose and Cons": A Magical Bookshop Mystery
by Amanda Flower, and "Death at First Sight": Bay Island Psychic
Mystery by Lena Gregory http://kingsriverlife.com/12/23/end-of-the-year-penguinkensington-catch-up/
We also have a review & giveaway of "The Corpse
with Ruby Lips" by Cathy Ace
For someone who enjoys word play and books in
series, there are delights to be found in titles.What follows are some random thoughts about
how authors and/or publishers help readers follow their favorite characters.
When an author does a series of books, it often
helps readers if there’s a way to distinguish series from non-series. Some
authors have made this easier on readers by giving them a quick way to spot a
series book by its title. Some authors
make it REALLY simple by using the main character’s name as part of the title,
as did J.K. Rowling with Harry Potter and Nancy Atherton with Aunt
Dimity.Other authors repeat a particular
Stackhouse books all have the word “Dead” in the title, while the Lily Bard books repeat the word
“Shakespeare’s” and Harper Connelly
Simon uses the word “Grey” in the title of all her Dulcie Schwartz novels but uses animal
alliteration for the Pru Marlow (Dogs
Don’t Lie, Cats Can’t Shoot, etc.)
French uses the days of the week, starting with Monday, to
show series order
Malliet started her Max
Tudor series with seasons, beginning with Wicked Autumn but ran out
of those fairly quickly. (The 2017 book will be Devil’s Breath.)
Patterson now uses the word “Cross” in his Alex Cross books, but the early ones
were lines from nursery rhymes or songs (Jack and Jill, Along Came a
Spider, and so on).
·After the first two books, Mike Lawson uses the word “House” in
all of his Joe DeMarco titles.
·With her Moonshine Mystery series, Carol
Miller uses “Murder” in the titles but usually with an alcoholic tie in,
i.e. A Nip of Murder.
with Recipes series always uses the word “Catered” in the title.
D. MacDonald’s Travis
McGee books always have a color as some part of the title.
Rousseau Murphy’s Joe
Grey titles always begin with the
·And, of course, Lilian Jackson Braun’s Cat
Who series books always start with, well, The Cat Who….
Others use naming patterns, such as the birds and
puns for Donna Andrews’Meg Langslow or racing terms for Dick Francis’ books, though some are a
stretch. Kim Harrison likes to use altered versions of titles of Clint
Eastwood movies for her Hollows
Other authors kick it up a notch by giving series
order in the title, such as James
Patterson’s Women’s Murder Club
series, in which the number of the book is always somewhere in the title as an
ordinal (first, second, third, etc.) Janet
Evanovich also gives the number in her Stephanie
Plum books; Darynda Jones ups the ante by reusing the word “Grave,” giving an
ordinal, AND a direction (First Grave on the Right,Second Grave on
the Left, and so forth). In some
libraries, mine included, this is a bit less successful in getting the books
shelved in numerical order because we shelve alphabetically.This means Fifth Horseman comes before
1st to Die.(As for
those wondering about shelving order, there have been many long discussions
about how to do it with pros and cons for each.I won’t go into it here, but if anyone is interested, just ask.)
The Queen of Series Naming and Shelving has to go to
Sue Grafton, who not only gave her
books alphabetical titles but who made certain they would be filed correctly by
starting her series with a letter of the alphabet and proceeding
accordingly.The Princess Award goes to Mary Daheim, with her Emma Lord series:all the books begin with “Alpine” and the
second word follows the alphabet, so the list goes from Alpine Advocate
to Alpine Zen. Miss Congeniality
goes to Carol Nelson Douglas and Midnight Louie: for the most part, the
titles have colors in alphabetical order but since those occur at different
places in the title, they aren’t necessarily shelved in series order.
What are some of your favorite series naming
Over two years ago, I
first heard about The Empty Manger
by Bill Crider when Ben Boulden mentioned his 2008 review of the same over on
Blog. It wasn’t available via eBook or at my local library so Bill Crider
sent me a copy from his own personal library. I reviewed it here on the blog
late December 2014. I had planned to read the other novellas in the book and
still have not managed to do that. Life tended to laugh and interefer with my
plans on this and quite a number of other things. So it goes. Though I have not
managed to get the job done, my advice remains the same as it was then—if you can
get your hands on the book do so.
Make sure you head
over to Patti Abbott’s blog for
the rest of the FFB recommendations for this next to last Friday of 2016.
Sheriff Dan Rhodes can’t remember it ever snowing in
Blacklin County on Christmas. It certainly didn’t look like it would happen
this year with daytime temperatures in the upper 60’s and low 40’s at night.
Typical weather for the area residents of the county located in East Texas, but
not conducive to the postcard winter wonderland so many long for at this time
Like a lot of small Texan towns-- and
elsewhere for that matter-- the downtown area of Clearview has a number of
vacant buildings in various states of disrepair. Some of the vacant buildings
are in very bad shape. Shoppers were drawn away to the nearby Wal-Mart or one
of the big new grocery stores and local businesses closed leaving the buildings
to decay and rot. City council member Jerri Laxton had been pushing plans to
restore the grandeur of the downtown area.
One of her ideas was to get some of the
local high school students to paint a mural on one of the walls of a downtown
building. Some of the local religious leaders convinced all that in the spirit
of the season the mural should be of a manger with a brilliant star hanging
over it. Somebody else came up with the plan to have members of the local
Baptist congregation play the parts of Joseph, Mary, wise men, and the
shepherds with a doll standing in for the baby Jesus. After all, the risk with
a real baby as part of the outside scene would be too high.
It was a very good thing that a doll
was used because, according to Francis Blair, somebody stole baby Jesus. She is
very upset that somebody would do that. She might be more upset if she knew
there was a dead body in the alley behind the building.
While Rhodes never drinks a Dr.
Pepper----though he does talk about it---- and he never eats any crackers, he
does actively work the cases. Any Rhodes story is a good one and this one is no
exception. The novella The Empty Manger by Bill Crider is
well worth the effort to get your hands on the book, Murder, Mayhem, And Mistletoe. Crider’s
story is one of four novellas in the book that also contains works from Terence
Faherty, Aileen Schumacher, and Wendi Lee.
Around noon Sandi was trying to give herself her insulin shot and the needle dislodged from the pen as she pulled it away from her body. That meant the inch or so long needle was still in her. Neither one of us could see it and she could not feel it other than a small bump in her skin. After a quick consultation with the staff at the endocrinologist we went to the nearest ER as directed.
Once there they tried to find it by sonogram as well as CT. They couldn't as it is so small it won't show up. Even though Sandi could, on one occasion feel the tip of it, as soon as they touched her it vanished again. We got the impression they did not really believe us that it is still in her. Since they can't do anything they sent us home.
Theoretically it won't go deeper and damage any organs. They think, over time, her body will force it back to to the surface and out.
We just came home here to find water shooting out of one end of our building. Apparently the pipes have burst in the wall of a vacant apartment so now we have no water too. Sandi managed to get a shower before the building was turned off, but I did not. Not to mention the laundry, the dishes, etc that need doing. The only good thing in all this is that the neighbor down below has not been flooded yet so things got stopped before that happened.
Last week Terry
came by to talk about things research
and getting the little things right in his stories. Today he offers his
thoughts about getting the fight scenes right in his stories. The methods he outlines
below are probably better than hands on research at the malls fighting crowds
Warfare in Fiction
combat scenes are a common fare in fantasy and science fiction. Think: Armored
phalanxes armed with spears and catapults, backed by earth wizards and
flame-spewing dragons vs. necromancer-controlled zombie hordes, goblin mobs and
brutish ogres, backed by propeller-driven dive-bombers and mechanized tanks
reminiscent of WW II technology.
maybe that combination isn’t ‘common fare’ (unless you’ve happened to stumble
across my First Civilization’s Legacy
Series). The question is: How can an author bring such battles to life for
the reader. Infuse them with excitement and, well, believability?
I have absolutely zero military combat experience. I don’t count the several
years of U.S. Civil War reenactment, where I learned 19th Century
drills and military tactics, including the basics wielding a bayonet and saber.
I am competent in firearm safety and basic use, my experience mainly with
shotguns and revolvers. That’s it.
to that, how can I convincingly write about what no author, let alone human,
has experienced? For example, an interstellar taskforce made up of carriers,
cruisers and destroyers encountering a hostile alien fleet, from large
formations down to ship to ship combat using pulse lasers, nuclear tipped
missiles, railguns, ion cannons, fusion beams, and more?
can be done, as proven by a multitude of authors. Admittedly, sometimes it’s accomplished
more convincingly than others. In any case, here’s what has worked for me.
first thing that I’ve done is a lot of reading, supplemented by watching
various programs and documentaries focusing on wars and conflicts humanity has
engaged in over the centuries. My reading includes a variety of books which, if
listed in detail, would take up several pages. Nevertheless, I’ll share four
examples in several categories:
Books that provided ideas of
overall units, weapons and tactics on a large scale:
How to Make War by James F.
The Face of Battle by John
50 Weapons that Changed
Warfare by William Wier
Jane’s Fighting Ships of WW
II by Antony Preston
Books that covered tactics,
responses and reasoning, including personal experiences and insight from
larger to smaller scale:
The Battle of Leyte Gulf by
Edwin P. Hoyt
Citizen Soldier by Stephen
Iron Coffins by Herbert A.
Air Combat: The Aircraft, Tactics and Weapons Employed in Aerial Warfare
Today by Bill Gunston and Mike Spick
Novels that included
depiction/tales of combat at various levels, using a variety of
technologies, including magic, and equipment:
Red Storm Rising by Tom
The Chronicles of Thomas
Covenant the Unbeliever by Stephen R. Donaldson
The Chronicles of Amber by Roger
World War Series by Harry
is also the audiovisual aspect garnered from television and movies that proved
useful in supplementing the various reading material studied:
The Lord of the Rings
Saving Private Ryan
can add that playing some strategic war games, mainly during my college years,
such as Star Fleet Battles, Panzer Leader, Kingmaker, Diplomacy, and Global
Supremacy also laid a foundation for depicting fictional strategies and
of that said, I believe that #3 above is the most important and useful as it’s
directly relevant in exclusively using words to depict and provides specific
and varied ‘how to’ examples for me as an author.
as a writer you’re feeling overwhelmed and, as a reader, thankful it’s not your
job. Really, it’s not as bad as it sounds.
the scope of what’s to be achieved when writing a battle or combat scene. I
remind myself I’m telling a story, not writing an extensive training manual or
doctrine to be studied and employed.
the POV used and focus on the knowledge and observable aspects from that
perspective. Yes, as the author, I have a wider understanding of the war,
battle or conflict, all the way down to the individual vs. individual level.
Having that allows for depth and consistency, and much of that content won’t
make the pages of the novel because it isn’t necessary to convey the story.
Think world building. An author may create an extensive world, with names and
places, culture and history, but only a fraction of it graces the pages of a
my Crax War Chronicles, the main
character, Security Specialist Keesay, has a far different perspective and
available knowledge than his superiors, whether he’s serving in the trench
line, fending off the advancing Crax air and armored offensive, or attempting
to survive a Crax hit-and-run landing assault, assigned to defend the research
lab deep within the Io colony, until help arrives—if it arrives.
written in first person POV, the only description and events available to the
reader are those available to Specialist Keesay. But, as the writer, I’ve
already determined the Crax objectives, ships, equipment and numbers they have
available, and the tactics and backup plans they’ll use. I also have the
resources, plans and strategies Specialist Keesay’s side will employ.
there I just write what happens. What Keesay personally observes, is told or
witnesses through cameras, sensors or other reports. His emotions and
responses, and those of the characters around him. I keep in mind the
effectiveness of grenades, shotguns, magnetic pulse pistols and medium-duty
laser carbines, as well as the caustic pellets, molecular saws and tactics of
the armored and energy shield-protected Crax, and of their Stegmar Mantis
allies, with their CO2 powered firearms sending sprays of
addition to thoughts and actions, I include the senses. Yes, sight and sounds,
but tactile and especially smells are important in relaying the desperate
struggle to the reader.
how do you get it to flow? Make it real to the reader?
I remember that I am telling a story, and relay sufficient action, movement,
thoughts and emotion, dialogue, and sensory description to the readers so that
they can create the action in their minds’ eye. No amount of words and
description can match the readers’ imagination.
I work to pace it. Get the wording and description right. The amount of
dialogue and movement and reactions set properly for the reader to make it—the
do I know if I’m doing it right? Multiple revisions. I read it orally, and
share with a trusted reader. If I’m stuck or unsure, I go to the work of
another authors (category #3 above), ones who have relevant examples of
combat—similar to what I’m trying to achieve. I read and re-read those
sections, paying attention to wording and pacing and description and more.
Determine what made their scene work for me. Then I apply what I learned (or
re-learned) to my own scene and writing style, making the fictional
combat/struggle as real and believable as possible.
my most recent work, Thunder Wells, an apocalyptic alien
invasion novel, I counted on One Second After by William
Forstchen Alien Invasion: How to Defend Earth by Travis S. Taylor and Bob
Boan, and the Discovery Channel’s Alien Invasion: Are You Ready? If you, as a
reader, want additional insight or as a writer, more information, add them to
Terry W. Ervin II is an English teacher who enjoys writing fantasy
and science fiction. Beyond his new release, Thunder Wells, his Crax War Chronicles (science fiction)
includes Relic Tech and Relic Hunted, and his First Civilization’s Legacy Series
(fantasy) includes Flank Hawk, Blood Sword and Soul Forge. His short
story collection, Genre Shotgun, contains all of his stories previously published
in magazines, ezines and anthologies.
When Terry isn’t
writing or enjoying time with his wife and daughters, he can be found in his
basement raising turtles.
18 degrees this morning. Since it did not get to 15 the city defense
system did not trigger and thus the ball at Reunion Tower did not ignite
heating the area. The gas bill is huge, but the thing can really put
the heat out.
Purgatory Bay: A Novel by Bryan Gruley continues what began in Bleak Harbor . While not a straight sequel to the prior book, it feature...
Supporting The Blog
In my wife's memory and honoring a promise I made to Sandi, the blog continues...at least for now. If you would like to make a donation of support, you can do so at the links below. Most of the donated funds go to the purchase of medical supplies for me. Some of it goes to the purchase of various short story anthologies and collections which eventually are read and reviewed here.