John Dolan, The Otford Dictionary
This Certainly Isn’t The Oxford Dictionary
Finished the Otford dictionary and enjoyed some belly-laughs, a few puzzled instants, some titters, and one or two ‘how old is this fellow’ moments. All in all, it tickled my funny bone and was worth reading from start to finish. Have forgotten plenty of definitions even if some were mind-boggling and some cynical. A few were caustic and some – alas – predictable. JD has a sense of humour, he has acidity and irony as well as sarcasm, which he declares to be a British affair. No doubt, brains work in their own way, and some have a huge number of windings.
A book like this, written by a male Brit, would necessarily be hugely different from a continental female approach, but that’s fine by me.
Maybe I can put it like this: it appears that JD has delved into the British English state of mind.
Will I write a review? Apparently. Anyway, The Otford Dictionary made me think when I wasn’t tittering or howling or shaking my head or cackling (loudly). That is something. Don’t forget that some people can make the telephone book sound interesting, and some people can achieve head-spinning boredom with the simplest ingredients. It’s a matter of talent. Is it surprising that it takes as big a talent to be jaw-droppingly boring as it takes to be pant-peeing hilarious?
Grand Guignol is a rare talent.
Raymond St Elmo, The Blood Tartan
Another Extravaganza from an Inspired Mind
The Blood Tartan. It is wonderful.
RSTE can write. His style is unlike anybody else’s.
Imaginative, ingenious, and quirky, full of surprises. His parallel worlds overlap the natural world. He knows his Blake and is no stranger to razors, specifically Occam’s.
What can I say? He makes you laugh and cry simultaneously. His mad characters sweep up fantastic imagery and his pointy-eared boys recite poetical marvels.
Susan Sage, A Mentor and Her Muse
Obsession and Longing
Maggie, middle-aged and white has lost her ability to write after her first, moderately successful book. She works in the library at a school in Flint, Michigan.
Taezha (Tae) is a black teenager with a considerable writing talent. Her mother has several children and lives a chaotic life.
When Maggie and Tae meet, they inevitably form a connection as mentor and muse.
The central part of the novel is a road trip that Maggie undertakes together with Tae. There are faint allusions to Lolita in this, but Maggie is different from Humbert. Maggie is a tortured soul, obsessed with doors that she photographs everywhere. Her secret chamber never opens completely but her contemplations knock on the door from time to time. She is lost in dreams but doesn’t act them out. Tae is attracted to her mentor but also repelled. This creates tension between the two characters, and that is the real suspense in this flawless book.
Multiple points of view can be difficult to execute, but Susan Sage dissects her main characters in her exceptional rendition of an existentialist and somewhat troubling study.
Tia Fanning, Fleeing Haven
Fantasy Realm with a Rigid Code of Honour
In Haven, women are supposed to be good wives and breeders.
Sara, instructor in healing arts at the Royal Academy for Girls, has other dreams. After an abusive marriage, her only wish is to hide away and keep the secret of her royal blood.
Princess Ischka, of marriageable age, studies at the academy and wishes that she could stay and hone her magic.
Can the two women escape their preordained fate? Can they avoid falling in love? Is there a way to avoid becoming caught in the erotic pull of their ideal partners?
Their only chance is to flee Haven.
There will be consequences that they can’t foresee.
Tia Fanning presents a complex tale of women’s liberation and magic that is well worth exploring.
David Toft, A Legacy of Butterflies
A Vision that Could Become Real
Gordon Aldridge is the son of Mark and Susie, the main characters of A Gift of Butterflies, who died when he was a baby. He has been reared by Becky and Dan, who found his parents after they died. Now Gordon has grown up and his heritage has manifested.
Europe has changed since then. Gordon is on a mission to save American hostages from the heart of fundamentalist England.
It is no surprise that David Toft can spin a web to catch his readers and create a plot that is both thrilling and thought-provoking. The biggest question is to find out if humanity can survive if they don’t stop violence, single-mindedness, and fundamental ideas. The chance is minimal.
With the Chaos Theory still looming in the background, David Toft has done it again.
CW Hawes, Death Wears a Crimson Hat
Small towns have much in common. There’s the gossip and there’s the wish to keep outsiders apart. That Magnolia Bluff also has a Crimson Hat society with a leader who savours character assassination is another weird attraction to this small town in Texas Hill County.
Harry Thurgood of the Really Good Wood-fired Coffee Shop is an outsider with a past.
Ember Cole is the new reverend of the Methodist Church. She too guards a secret.
All in all, these two make the ideal targets when a spate of murders occurs, and their only chance is to turn into amateur sleuths.
If you’ve read one or more books by CW Hawes, you know what to expect. Wit and quirky characters, an intelligent plot that you might not be able to figure out before he lands the only possible mystery solution. The one you never saw coming.
Death Wears a Crimson Hat is the first in a series of nine books written by nine authors, members of the Underground Authors. Every month for nine months a new book will dazzle its readers. Hold on to your hats and make a visit or nine to Magnolia Bluff. In my opinion, you won’t regret it.
Caleb Pirtle III, Eulogy in Black and White
A Dash of Hammett and Chandler
After reading Death Wears a Crimson Hat, I was hooked. The Magnolia Bluff series lives up to every expectation. I did not doubt that Caleb Pirtle III would ace the second part of the Magnolia Bluff series.
Welcome back to Texas and a small town that buzzes with mystery.
We meet Graham Huston, a troubled character, who deals with his personal nightmare. As if that isn’t enough, he must deal with a murderous riddle once he drops from the frying pan into the fire in the small town, known as Magnolia Bluff.
The May 23rd Murders are unrelated or so it seems. Nobody has been able to connect the dots and recognise the picture.
Will Graham succeed where others failed?
You must read Eulogy in Black and White to find out.
Caleb Pirtle’s writing will pull you into this dark and murky story of death and friendship, guilt, and possible redemption.
Christa Nardi, A New Place, Another Murder
Cosy Mystery – Amateur Sleuth
As I purchased A New Place, Another Murder, it didn’t occur to me that it was connected to the Cold Creek series. After all, it was book one in Sheridan Hendley Mysteries. I’ve no complaint about this, except for the uneasy feeling that I should’ve known some of the characters (perhaps in a former life). It was easy to get involved with newlywed Sheridan, her husband Brett, and his daughter Maddie. Likeable characters all.
The plot ticks all the boxes in a cosy mystery, and if you are a fan of them, you’ll have a great time following the troubles that meet the residents of Clover Leaf, Appomattox.
© HMH, 2022