My Five Last Reviews of 2023

Ian Campbell, And the Salesman Came to Town

Old Nick is Always Worthy of Satire

The Devil, going by the name of Devin, wants to be a reasonable man. Not an easy task when you lead an international corporation. A CEO’s work is never done.

Father John Murdoch is a disreputable priest. Maybe it puts him in the perfect position to act as the Chosen in the fight against evil.

Sell your soul and lead a charmed life. Sounds evocative? It could, but before signing a contract make sure to read the small print.

This is the concept behind And the Salesman Came to Town, and it won’t disappoint. Ripe with satire, ghouls, demons, and ambitious church dignitaries, the salesman leads the world on a merry dance.

Yes, there are some recurring typos (you don’t role your eyes, you roll them). Yes, the manuscript could be more polished, but it doesn’t detract from the wild humour and the characters who confidently jump off the page and down your throat. Expect to laugh and try hard not to die laughing. The church, politicians, the corporate world, and capitalism all get a dressing down that compels the reader to carry on reading.

And the Salesman Came to Town

John Dolan, Possessed by Death (Crimes of Inhumanity)

How to Deal with Happiness Ever After

David Braddock has achieved his happy ending, and it is boring. Spending too much time alone with no pressing interests and no occupation will do that to an observant mind.

Devish Bannerjee, Braddock’s neighbour is dead under suspicious circumstances.

This gives Braddock the kickstart, he’s waiting for. The rest is a whirlwind of weird clues and shocking discoveries.

It is no surprise that Possessed by Death has a plot arc that keeps astonishing this reader.

As always, John Dolan doesn’t disappoint. On the contrary, his brand of black humour shines through from the first paragraph. For me, it meant helplessly laughing my head off for several minutes. John Dolan takes the reader underground in more ways than one. The dialogue is fascinating and the characters compelling. I wouldn’t expect less from this author.

Possessed by Death

Anna Casamento Arrigo, Weeds Beneath the Open Meadows

Between Open Medows and Confining Towns

A stream-of-consciousness memoir, haunting and beautiful. Weeds Beneath the Open Meadows takes the reader on a journey from flowers and embroidered dresses to stone desserts in American towns.

Anna Casamento Arrigo explores the difficulties of a language you hardly understand and cannot speak, the differences in rural and urban societies, and the ways people adjust to a life different from everything known.

Possessions or community feeling, violence in various guises, and unending love. These are the elements of a touching confession that will consume the reader long after closing the book.

Weeds Beneath the Open Meadows

Susan Jean Ricci, A Delicate Reunion

Love and Reconciliation can Hurt

Melanie lives alone with her young child after being abandoned by her CIA agency sweetheart.

Nate returns from the eight-year hell of a mission, hoping to reconcile with his beloved.

It isn’t easy for either of them to take up the broken thread after the long period apart and their individual experiences. Will love prevail? Can Melanie forgive, and can Nate find his place in civilian life?

Ms Ricci throws light on the hardship and work needed to find closure. A Delicate Reunion explores not only the plight of two adults but also presents a precocious child with wit and charm.

Not that it does much to deduct from the plot or mar the character building, but it is perhaps worth mentioning that there are no jungles in Yemen (pp. 64-65).

A Delicate Reunion

SS Bazinet, Arel’s Blood

Duellists through love and hate

After his trials in Michael’s Blood, Arel believes he has reclaimed a life worth living.

Enter William, who initiated Arel into vampirism.

What takes place between these two evokes the tragedy of duels and the hope of blood brothers and leaves the reader wondering if they can ever find harmony and understanding for one another.

Will their travels end in peace? Will they learn to overcome their differences and understand the essence of life?

Ms Bazinet brings her usual flair and excellent writing into a convoluted and often painful narrative that will keep you on your toes throughout the mental and physical journeys of two men with different outlooks but similar emotions.

Arel’s Blood

© HMH, 2024


2 responses to “My Five Last Reviews of 2023”

  1. Anna avatar

    Thank you so very much, Hanne! Your reviews are extraordinary!

    1. Hanne H avatar
      Hanne H

      My pleasure, Anna! Thank you for your words of appreciation! It means a lot to me.

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