Book Review: Concealed in Death by J.D. Robb

Author Synopsis:  In a decrepit, long-empty New York building, Lieutenant Eve Dallas's husband begins the demolition process by swinging a sledgehammer into a wall. When the dust clears, there are two skeletons wrapped in plastic behind it. He summons his wife immediately–and by the time she's done with the crime scene, there are twelve murders to be solved.
The place once housed a makeshift shelter for troubled teenagers, back in the mid–2040s, and Eve tracks down the people who ran it. Between their recollections and the work of the force’s new forensic anthropologist, Eve begins to put names and faces to the remains. They are all young girls. A tattooed tough girl who dealt in illegal drugs. The runaway daughter of a pair of well–to–do doctors. They all had their stories. And they all lost their chance for a better life.
 
Then Eve discovers a connection between the victims and someone she knows. And she grows even more determined to reveal the secrets of the place that was called The Sanctuary–and the evil concealed in one human heart.



As always, once I started reading, couldn't put it down. Eve is trying to solve the murder of 12 homeless kids between the ages of 12 - 14. Their bones were found hidden behind false walls in a closed shelter. As each one was identified and a forensic artist provided faces to go with each one, Eve is left with the task of having to notify the families. The beginning is different in that it isn't a death scene or the voice of Eve, we hear, but Roark's which sets an entirely different tone for the story.  The death of children is always a difficult subject and I can see why some folks had a hard time with the story. And there wasn't too much excitement, compared to the prior story, Thankless in Death, in which the reader got blasted entirely too much with the horrific thoughts of the killer. All the characters we love were involved, and learned more about Mavis's background, prior to meeting Eve. Plus a new character is introduced - forensic anthropologist, Garnet DeWinter. It was more a straight forward police procedural and the ending a bit anticlimactic, both for Eve and the reader, as she was left not entirely satisfied, even though she caught the killer.  I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Writerly Wednesday: Dialogue

This week's task was to do a scene using only dialogue and not tags.  Easier said than done.  I wanted to do a scene with Bree from Red Thief, but she was too busy working, debugging a computer program to speak to me.   So did one of those - open up a vein and see what happens - moments. 




Molly and Julie

I can’t stand this. Nothing is coming out right.  I can’t read or write. Everything in my brain is so jumbled.

Slow down a minute, Molly and take a deep breath.  Now, tell me what’s been going on. 

It’s Jason. He’s seeing that, that, that witch again, the one with the yellow hair.

You mean Dora, Seriously?

Seriously! She’s got her claws into him somehow and he’s stone deaf, dumb and blind.  Can’t eat, sleep,
or drink anything but her. 

When did this happen?

Couple days ago!  I was driving to the market and there they were, canoodling right in the middle of Main Street, by Sherry’s Craft Store. 

Canoodling?  

She had her tongue so far down his throat I’m surprised it didn’t come out his ass.

Molly!  Come on now. 

No, seriously dude, it was gross.  She doesn’t know the meaning of the word no. Has no propriety to her what so ever.  Doesn’t even care if she poaches another girl’s guy.  He was into it too. You could tell. 

So what are you going to do?

I don’t know. Should I tell Geri about it.  I’m surprised I haven’t heard from her. She would have told me if they broke up.  Oh God! I’m going to have to tell her.  

Why?

Why! Why? She deserves to know. I’d hate for her to see them. Or worse, have demon bitch tell her.  It’d break her heart.

Oh, I don’t know about that.  I saw Dora over at McCourt Inn and she seemed pretty chummy with Victor. Seems she’s into a lot of guys. Not just one.  She must want something out of Jason.  She’s a user and in the worst way.  Doesn’t care who she hurts or what she has to do to get her own way.  

Jason’s a dunderhead.  All he knows is football. 

He is strong and…  Actually, he’s just strong, fast on the football field,  and yeah, I agree, he doesn’t have any brains.  Everyone knows his brother does his homework.  So why is she after him? Do you think she needs him to move something or better yet,  beat someone up.  Who do you think?

Huh? Beat someone up?  Why is Jason doing the witch got you so bummed? I didn’t think you liked him or Geri. 

Well. My brother hangs with both of them and they both have been decent to me.  Well as decent as possible for idiots.

Speaking of idiots. What do you think of the new owner of the Art studio.

He’s a fairy.

Molly!  You shouldn’t say things like that, especially in here.

I didn’t mean it that way.  Fairy as in magical, mystical, weird. 

You’re right, he is weird.  I wonder what Mrs. Murphy sees in him.  He seems as  faithful as Jason.
And those clothes, on my gawd! 

The hair.

Weird!

Book Review: The Twelve by Justin Cronin

The Twelve by Justin Cronin
Author Synopsis: In the present day: As a man-made apocalypse unfolds, three strangers navigate the chaos, desperate to find others, to survive, to witness the dawn on the other side of disaster. Lila, a doctor and an expectant mother, has been so broken by the spread of violence and infection that she continues to plan for her child’s arrival even as society dissolves around her. Kittridge, known to the world as “Last Stand in Denver,” has been forced by loss of electrical power to flee his stronghold and is now on the road, dodging the infected, armed but alone and well aware that a tank of gas will get him only so far. April is a teenager fighting to guide her little brother safely through a minefield of death and ruin. These three will learn that they have not been fully abandoned—and that in connection lies hope, even on the darkest of nights.

A hundred years in the future: Amy, Peter, Alicia, and the others introduced in The Passage work with a cast of new characters to hunt the original twelve virals… unaware that the rules of the game have changed, and that one of them will have to sacrifice everything to bring the Twelve down.

The scope widens and the intensity deepens as the epic tale of sacrifice and survival begun in The Passage surges forward in its breathtaking sequel—The Twelve


It took me a bit of time to really get into The Twelve (#2 in the Passage Trilogy). Even though I went back and reread The Passage prior to starting the book, the beginning half was confusing. Too many new characters and story lines jumping back and forth in time.  It wasn't until the halfway point, I was able to put it all together and follow where Cronin was going with the story. It jumped between the beginning of the virus and how the infection killed or transformed people and the present with Peter, Amy, Michael and the cast of others from The Passage until the storyline merged to a cohesive whole and the fight to destroy the Twelve. It is one of those books that is definitely worth a reread. Especially since the last book, The City of Mirrors, is coming out some time this year. Yes, The Twelve was good, but a bit of a slog at first.

Writerly Wednesday: Conflict

This week's f2k lesson was all about conflict - minor conflict of some sort.  I had a scene already written in mind, one of the few in the story that was minor.  However, the lesson called for only 500 words.  Cut the scene down, hopefully while maintaining some sense of what was going on.






Bree walked down the stairs, the throbbing pain in her arm competing with her grumbling empty stomach. She entered the kitchen, the smell of garlic and onions made her mouth water.

“Oh Richard, I hope you saved me some leftovers. It smells delicious.”

She went around the corner, stumbled to a halt. The one man Richard hadn’t wanted her to meet, Adam Kotchara, the Russian mobster, leaned against the counter, holding a pie plate. He wore a heavy overcoat, his cheeks flushed from the cold. His black eyes glittered and one hand disappeared underneath his jacket. Bree put up her hand, palm out as she backed up.

“Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t expect anyone to be in here.

Adam relaxed, gave her a half bow. “No problem. Miss Bree, correct? Forgive me for startling you,”

She glanced around the kitchen. “Where’s Richard?”

“Speaking with my father, They are old friends.” He watched her with unwavering dark eyes, making her want to bolt, but it was too late. “Please. Do not let me stop you from your meal. I believe there is a tray in the oven.”

Eating was the last thing Sabrina wanted to do but he gave her no choice. Eyeing the sling on her arm, he held out his hand. Resigned, she gave him the pot holder and let him pull out the tray. Her stomach growled at the sight of the food. Adam chuckled, placed the tray on the table and held out the chair.

“Come. Sit.” He picked up her knife and fork, nodded toward her plate. “May I?”

Sabrina’s face grew hot with embarrassment, but she stifled her pride. “Please.”

“What happened?”

She couldn’t tell him the truth. Up til now she hadn’t needed a cover story. “Accident with one of the horses. I fell, it got spooked and crushed my hand.”

“Hmm. Not plausible. Will have to come up with a better story.”

Bree blinked, sat back, undecided on what to do. It would be rude to get up and leave.

“I’m sorry, dear Bree. I do not mean to upset you. Please forgive me. But those of us who understand horses, know that particular scenario is not plausible.”

The back door slammed open at the same time as the kitchen door. Tory entered, just as Richard walked in with Doc at his heels.

Adam smiled. “Ah, the Calvary has arrived."

Sabrina red faced, glanced at the men. “I came down for something to eat and ran into Mr. Kotchara.”

“Yes, she caught me red handed having another piece of pie. Most delicious.” He handed the fork to Sabrina. "And assisted Miss Bree with her meal as no one else was around to do so. Is there a problem, gentlemen?"

Tory sat down in the rocking chair and glowered at them.

“Is he always so stern.” Adam asked Bree in Russian, “or is he pretending to be tough for your sake.”

Bree laughed, almost choked.

He patted her gently on the back. “Dah, he is big bad wolf.”



Book Review: Here Be Dragons by Sharon Kay Penman


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Author Synopsis: Set in the 13th Century, Here Be Dragons is the story of King John and his England. A paradoxical man, he was charming, generous, clever -- and he was unstable and brutal. He was capable of great kindnesses, but he butchered child hostages. He was the youngest son and favorite of Henry Plantagenet, but he would betray his father in order to seize the throne of England. For centuries, history recorded him as a bad king, upon whom the Magna Carta was forced. Yet history also tells us he was intent on bringing a measure of justice to his realm in the face of his greedy barons' refusal to accept the law.

Here Be Dragons is also the story of Llewelyn the Great of Wales. At 14, he began a civil war; by 21, he held all North Wales. He was John's vassal -- and most bitter enemy. His dream of a free and united Wales, unencumbered by English laws or lords, was to spur a lifelong crusade that left little time for peace or pleasure.

 And, at its heart, Here Be Dragons is the story of Joanna: daughter to one, wife to the other. Bastard-born, hidden from her father until her embittered mother's death, then brought, a bewildered five-year-old, to John's court. He would cherish her, cosset her,and yet use her as a political pawn, marrying her off at fifteen to a wild Welsh prince She was terrified, but he was the father she adored and obeyed. Wife to Llewelyn, whom he came to love, daughter to John, whom she worshipped, Joanna was trapped in the crossfire of their implacable enmity. Told with a richness of detail that brings the England, France, and Wales of the thirteenth century fully to life, Here Be Dragons combines high drama, romance, adventure, and authentic historical fact.


I inherited quite a few historical and historical fiction books about Britain from my late, very English, mother in law. I think the whole reason I came up with the Centuries challenge was so I'd have some incentive to read some of the books.  I finally read Here Be Dragons and took a trip through the 13th century with King John, and Lleweleyn - Prince of Wales, who married John's daughter Joanna to form an alliance between England and Wales. Political intrigue and infighting, arranged marriages, wars between England and Wales, England and France, threats by the Pope to excommunicate everyone involved, fluid political alliances. Penman took a very dry subject, at least for me, and made it interesting. She personalized the characters, taking you inside their heads and lives, from childhood to death.Once starting reading it, found it very hard to put down and the story, the characters stayed in my head, drawing me back to the story. Thoroughly enjoyed it and look forward to reading the rest of the Welsh princes series.

Writerly Wednesday: Points of View

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John Harvey Photos

The task this past week in my F2k writing course was to write two paragraphs from two different points of view. I don't normally write 1st person point of view and actually had fun with it.

Here's my take:



3rd POV

Samantha wandered through the ancient forest, down a narrow moss covered trail.  Wind whistled through the branches, scattering leaves everywhere. She rounded a bend and off in the distance, the bridge came into view.  She could hear the roar of the waterfall now.  The breeze grabbed at her, urging her forward and she began to run. It was almost as if she could leap into the air and fly. She ran until she reached the bridge, a natural crossing over the river, formed by the roots of two oaks from both sides of the waterfall. She walked across the warm, bumpy roots to the middle of the bridge and stood at the edge.   The river thundered underneath and emptied into a crystal clear lake surrounded by ferns and wild lilies of white, yellow, gold and orange. Sunlight sparkled off the water and fish swam in aimless circles. She looked out across the forest, to the edge of the village, where a church steeple rose high above the tree tops. The tolling of a bell drifted by on the wind. A soft breeze caressed her face and whispered in her ear ‘I will catch you when you fall’. The breeze plucked at her once again pulling her toward edge. She closed her eyes, took a deep breath and dove out into the void.


1st Pov

I wandered through the ancient forest on a narrow moss covered trail. Wind whistled through the trees, branches rustling and singing, while scattered leaves flew all about me. I could see the bridge now and hear the roar of the waterfall. The breeze pushed and pulled me; leaves crunched and crackled under my bare feet. Crack! I jumped out of the way as a huge tree crashed behind me with a bone jarring thud. Once the dust cleared, I realized it blocked the pathway and I’d have to take the long way home. The wind whipped up again pulling me along, and I sprinted as fast as I could. I’d heard about the bridge but never seen it. Awe inspiring. Two huge oaks trees stretching across the water towards one another, the roots forming a natural walkway. Warm and bumpy underneath my feet, I walked to the middle and stared down at the water. The river roared underneath and emptied into a crystal clear lake surrounded by ferns and wild lilies of white, yellow, gold and orange. Sunlight sparkled off the water and fish swam in aimless circles. I looked out across the forest, to the edge of the village, where a church steeple rose high above the tree tops.  The tolling of the bells drifted by on the wind. A soft breeze caressed my face and whispered ‘I will catch you when you fall’. The breeze plucked at my clothes, once again pulling me towards the edge. The leap of faith, that’s what all the kids called it. I can do this. I closed my eyes, took a deep breath and jumped.

Writerly Wednesday - Dawn

courtesy of Farlukar

The task for this past week was to write a scene capturing all the senses including the sense of unknown, space and time.  So much fun!   Here's my take:

Dawn walked down the narrow corridor; the dim light from the dust encrusted windows hid the filthy carpet. She really didn’t care to see, each footstep brittle and crunchy, as if the rug had gotten wet, then froze. Something snapped beneath her boot. She reached down and picked up a pair of broken eye glasses. Rose tinted, like Martha’s. She hadn’t seen Martha in three days. Where had she said she was going? To dinner with Max, a guy she met at Book and Candle. He seemed a bit skeezy, but that’s the way Martha liked them.

Dawn shook her head and wandered down the hall until she reached door #25. She grasped the doorknob, grimacing at the tacky, sticky grime. She wiped her hand on her jeans and pulled a tissue out of her purse. She tried the knob again and it turned in her hand. She glanced up and down the hallway. If anyone else was here, she’d be in big trouble. If not for the note, she would have turned around and gone home. She inched the door open and peered through the crack. Pitch black. She opened the door wider, her nose twitching at the sulfur, spoiled milk and unidentifiable odors spilling out of the room. She pinched her nose and tried to take shallow breaths, gagging as rotten eggs coated her tongue.

She clicked on the flashlight and panned it around the closet sized room. Two doors, side by side, one scarred and pitted with multiple scratches. She knew what the other odor was now, wet dog. She decided to go with the less scarred door and avoid the dog, in case it was still there. The door opened, revealing a stairway, black as pitch, except for a minuscule glow several flights above. The bannister, worn smooth from a multitude of hands over the years, vibrated under her fingers. As she climbed the stairs, the glow brightened, revealing a room at the top.

It was a loft, half full of boxes and a couch with a package lying on one of the cushions. She inched over to the couch to see her name, printed in big bold letters, taped to the top of the box. She frowned, picked it up, held it to her ear and listened, then shook it. Nothing rattled. She pulled off the ribbon and opened the box. Inside, a remote with a note ‘press here’ with an arrow pointed at one of the buttons. Okay, what the heck. She sat down, pushed the button and the floor lurched and sank downward, leaving the light behind. She squealed, turned on the flashlight and clutched the cushions. The couch stopped with a thump, and she sat with her eyes tightly shut, waiting. When nothing happened, she cracked open one eye and jumped as all her friends shouted surprise, stepping back to reveal a well-lighted banquet hall decorated with birthday balloons and flowers. She slumped back on the couch and laughed.