Deadly Tasting is a short little novel. It has the feeling of an episode in an ongoing PBS mystery series. By that, I mean that it is kind of quirky, slow-moving, and talky. There is talk about French wine, as you would expect, and also talk about what went on in the Bordeaux area during World War II. Much of the talk centers around the Nazi occupation and the French collaborators. Sometimes there is too much talk. I started to skim over it, because I didn’t know the area, or the vineyards.
The main characters aren’t too well-developed, but still fun and likeable. I’m sure that you would get to know them better if you read the rest of the series. The plot was fairly straight forward with no major surprises. Like I said, more like a TV episode than a movie.
This is an interesting, quirky, little book. Not bad, but nothing too much either. If you drink French wine, this series will be right up your alley, but for the rest of us, there isn’t too much that will connect.
I give Deadly Tasting 3 Stars out of 5. If this sounds interesting to you, you probably will like it, but most Americans will find it rather too quirky.
I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
A serial killer is on the loose in Bordeaux. A local chief detective calls wine expert Benjamin Cooker to the crime scene of a brutal murder. The killer has left a strange calling card: twelve wine glasses lined up in a semi-circle with the first one filled with wine. Cooker is charged with the task of identifying the fabulous grand cru and is astonished by what he learns. A second victim is found, with two glasses filled. Is the killer intentionally leaving clues about his victims and his motives? Memories are jogged about the complicated history of Bordeaux during Nazi occupation. It was a dark time: weinfuhrers ruled the wine trade, while collaborationists and paramilitary organizations spread terror throughout the region. In present-day wine country, time is running out. Will Cooker and his young assistant Virgile solve the mystery before all twelve glasses are full?
Series: Winemaker Detective (Book 4) Hardcover: 144 pages Publisher: Le French Book (October 17, 2014) Language: English ISBN-10: 1939474221 ISBN-13: 978-1939474223 Product Dimensions: 8 x 5 x 0.4 inches Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
About the Author
Jean-Pierre Alaux is a magazine, radio and TV journalist when he is not writing novels in southwestern France. He is the grandson of a winemaker and exhibits a real passion for wine and winemaking. For him, there is no greater common denominator than wine. He gets a sparkle in his eye when he talks about the Winemaker Detective, which he coauthors with Noël Balen. Noël lives in Paris, where he shares his time between writing, making records, and lecturing on music. He plays bass, is a music critic and has authored a number of books about musicians in addition to his novel and short-story writing.
I’ve read a few books by South African authors. This one is definitely on the top of the heap. Mr. Meyer does an excellent job of drawing the reader into the story. He uses a multi-ethnic cast of characters to bring the diversity of Cape Town, South Africa to life. His characters have an authentic feel. You like them.
Captain Benny Griessel and the rest of the Directorate of Priority Crime Investigations (DPCI), commonly called the Hawks, have to fight against government corruption and public preconceptions. They have to dodge officials that want to shut down their investigation, and they know that nearly everyone else wants to bury the truth, but if they succumb to pressure, more people will die, and the corrupt officials and organized criminals will go free. They are the good guys, so they press forward.
Cobra is a difficult book to initially get into. Mr. Meyer uses quite a bit of South African slang and Afrikaans phrases. He has a glossary in the back of the book, but looking up each word gets tedious, and slows down the book. So I ended up just reading them phonically, and acting like they were spoken words that I didn’t understand. I got the gist of them, and just kept on reading. Once I started doing that, everything flowed much better.
Mr. Meyer uses a changing “Point of View” type of writing to build tension and keep your interest as the story unfolds. As he gets to the climax, he cuts rapidly from scene to scene, and that keeps the action at a frantic pace. You have to keep reading, you just don’t want to stop. It works very well.
The Hawks are a bunch of well-rounded characters. Mr. Meyer isn’t afraid to give them real personalities, warts and all. But their strongest character trait is that they all really care, and want to be the best cops that they can be. I feel like I want to read more of the books in this series.
The storyline is very engaging. Mr. Meyer has the ability to write an exciting, fast paced story, but still makes you care about his characters. He also gives you a look into life in Cape Town. You feel that you get to know the area through his eyes.
I really enjoyed Cobra, and think that you will too. I give it 4 1/2 Stars out of 5, and A Big Thumbs Up! If you are will to put in a little work at the beginning, you will be well rewarded.
I received this book for free from the publisher, in return for an honest review.
Celebrated as the “King of South African crime,” Deon Meyer is a world-class writer whose page-turning thrillers probe the social and racial complexities of his native country. In his latest novel, the bodies of three people are found at an exclusive guest house in the beautiful Franschhoek wine valley. Two of them were professional bodyguards, but the British citizen they were meant to be protecting is nowhere to be found; left behind are his brand new passport, new suitcase, and new clothes. And the spent shell cases bear a chilling engraving: the flaring head of a spitting cobra.
Meanwhile, in Cape Town, a skilled pickpocket is using his considerable talents to put his younger sister through school. But one day he is caught in the act. Security guards begin to question him, only to be killed with consummate ease by a stranger who leaves behind the distinctive shell cases.
With the help of his colleagues, Detective Benny Griessel rushes to untangle a case that only grows more complex. The British man’s passport turns out to be a fake, but the British consulate is decidedly unhelpful. And then the pickpocket’s sister is abducted. From Cape Town’s famous waterfront to a deadly showdown on a suburban train, Cobra hurtles towards a shocking finale—and someone may not make it out alive.
Hardcover: 384 pages Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press (October 7, 2014) Language: English ISBN-10: 0802123244 ISBN-13: 978-0802123244 Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 5.9 x 1.4 inches Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
About the Author
Deon Meyer was born in the South African town of Paarl in the winelands of the Western Cape in 1958, and grew up in Klerksdorp, in the gold mining region of Northwest Province.
After military duty and studying at the Potchefstroom University, he joined Die Volksblad, a daily newspaper in Bloemfontein as a reporter. Before becoming a full-time crime author in 2009 he also worked as press liaison, advertising copywriter, creative director, Internet strategist, and brand consultant. Deon completed an honours degree in History (UFS), and an MA in Creative Writing at the US.
He wrote his first book when he was 14 years old, and bribed and blackmailed his two brothers into reading it. They were not impressed (hey, everybody is a critic …)
Heeding their wisdom, he did not write fiction again until he was in his early thirties, when he started publishing short stories in South African magazines.
“I still believe that is the best way to learn the craft of writing. Short stories teach you a lot about story structure – and you have limited space to develop character and plot,” says Deon.
In 1994 he published his first Afrikaans novel, which has not been translated, “simply because it was not good enough to compete on the international market. However, it was a wonderful learning experience”.
All later novels have been translated into 27 languages, including English, French, German, Dutch, Italian, Spanish, Japanese, Mandarin, Korean, Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, Russian, Finnish, Czech, Romanian, Slovakian and Bulgarian.
He has written several feature film screenplays based on his short stories, including Jakhalsdans, Die Ballade van Robbie de Wee, and Die Laaste Tango (he also directed the latter), and two series for television – Orion (based on Dead at Daybreak) and Transito. The film rights of Thirteen Hours have been sold to an international production company, and most of his other novels have been optioned for movies.
Deon lives near Cape Town. His big passions are motorcycling, music (he is a Mozart fanatic, but loves rock ‘n roll too), reading, cooking and rugby (he unconditionally supports the national Springbok team and the Free State Cheetahs provincial team).
Book Description and Details are from Amazon. Cobra
This collection of original stories was a Kickstarter Project. Like any short story collection, some stories will hit home more than others. Two or three of the stories were quite good, and I only skipped one. Most of the time I jump to the next story more than that, so that is a good thing. I enjoyed reading this book. I like short stories, because you can read most of them in a half hour or so. I used this book to fill in gaps, and it worked well for that.
The concept of the book was intriguing, but too many of the stories seemed similar. It was an easy read, but didn’t really move me. Nothing bad to say, but it wasn’t great either.
I give Upgraded 3 Stars out of 5. You may be more into this than I was.
I received a review copy of Upgraded. In return, I am giving an honest review.
Better . . . Stronger . . . Faster . . . The doctors rebuilt Hugo Award-winning editor Neil Clarke and made him a cyborg. Now he has assembled this anthology of twenty-six original cyborg stories by Greg Egan, Madeline Ashby, Elizabeth Bear, Peter Watts, Ken Liu, Robert Reed, Yoon Ha Lee, and more!
CONTENTS Introduction by Neil Clarke
Come From Away by Madeline Ashby
No Place to Dream, but a Place to Die by Elizabeth Bear
Married by Helena Bell
A Cold Heart by Tobias S. Buckell
Honeycomb Girls by Erin Cashier
What I’ve Seen With Your Eyes by Jason K. Chapman
Wizard, Cabalist, Ascendant by Seth Dickinson
Seventh Sight by Greg Egan
Negative Space by Amanda Forrest
Mercury in Retrograde by Erin Hoffman
Tongtong’s Summer by Xia Jia
God Decay by Rich Larson
Always the Harvest by Yoon Ha Lee
The Regular by Ken Liu
Coastlines of the Stars by Alex Dally MacFarlane
Fusion by Greg Mellor
Memories and Wire by Mari Ness
Oil of Angles by Chen Qiufan
The Sarcophagus by Robert Reed
Synecdoche Oracles by Benjanun Sriduangkaew
Tender by Rachel Swirsky
The Cumulative Effects of Light Over Time by E. Catherine Tobler
Small Medicine by Genevieve Valentine
Collateral by Peter Watts
Taking the Ghost by A.C. Wise
Musée de l’Âme Seule by E. Lily Yu
About the Authors
About the Editor
Cover art by Julie Dillon
Paperback: 368 pages Publisher: Wyrm Publishing (September 23, 2014) Language: English ISBN-10: 1890464309 ISBN-13: 978-1890464301 Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 5.9 x 1.1 inches Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
About the Editor
Neil Clarke is the Editor-in-Chief and publisher of Clarkesworld Magazine. His work at Clarkesworld has resulted in countless hours of enjoyment, three Hugo Awards for Best Semiprozine and four World Fantasy Award nominations. He’s a current and three-time Hugo Nominee for Best Editor (Short Form). In 2012, Neil suffered a near-fatal “widow-maker” heart attack which led to the installation of a defibrillator and a new life as a cyborg. Inspired by these events, he took on his first non-Clarkesworld editing project, Upgraded, an all-original anthology of cyborg stories scheduled for publication this September. He currently lives in NJ with his wife and two sons.
The Book Description and Details are from Amazon. Upgraded
I enjoyed Crossing the Line. It’s an English translation of a French mystery published in 2011. The translator did a very good job. Everything flows nice and smoothly. It doesn’t read like a translation, but it still has the feel of a French book. The description of life in Paris is very authentic, and it makes you want to visit and experience the streets, shops, sights, and everyday events.
The story also flows very smoothly. It starts with a message found buried inside an intentionally badly filled molar. This is discovered by dental students learning surgery. They were working on a head from a body that was recently donated to science. The body was an apparent suicide, but the message said “I was murdered”. Nico Sirsky and his team of detectives start with this puzzle and slowly follow a trail of evidence, information from interviews, and other clues. They discover murders that were ruled accidents and suicides. The closer they get, the more bodies they find. Everything is very logical and reasonable. There are plot twists and surprises, but nothing feels implausible.
The characters are interesting and believable. Ms. Molay is building a base of appealing characters. As this series continues, I expect that she will fill them out even more. Chief of Police, Nico Sirsky, is a multifaceted person. He is an injured policeman trying to return to his job, a divorced father with a son living with him, and a man who is in love with a woman. He has to combine his work and home-life. and keep everything moving forward.
I give Crossing the Line 4 Stars out of and a Thumbs Up. If you would like a glimpse of Parisian life, combined with a good, logical police procedural, this is the book for you. Everything works, nice and smooth.
I received this book for free from NetGalley and the publisher, Le French Book, in return for an honest review.
It’s Christmas in Paris. Chief of Police Nico Sirsky returns to work after recovering from a gunshot wound. He’s in love and rearing to go. His first day back has him overseeing a jewel heist sting and taking on an odd investigation. Dental students discovered a message in the tooth of a severed head. Is it a sick joke? Sirsky and his team of crack homicide detectives follow the clues from an apparent suicide, to an apparent accident, to an all-out murder as an intricate machination starts breaking down. Just how far can despair push a man? How clear is the line between good and evil? More suspense and mystery with the Paris Homicide team from the prizewinning author Frédérique Molay, the “French Michael Connelly.” This is the second in the prize-winning Paris Homicide series.
Series: Paris Homicide (Book 2) Hardcover: 224 pages Publisher: Le French Book (September 23, 2014) Language: English ISBN-10: 1939474167 ISBN-13: 978-1939474162 Product Dimensions: 8 x 5 x 0.6 inches Shipping Weight: 13 ounces
About the Author
Writing has always been a passion for Frédérique Molay, author of the international bestseller The 7th Woman. She graduated from France’s prestigious Science Po and began her career in politics and the French administration. She worked as Chief of Staff for the Deputy Mayor of Saint-Germain-en-Laye, and then was elected to the local government in Saône-et-Loire. Meanwhile, she spent her nights pursing a passion for writing she had nourished since she wrote her first novel at the age of eleven. After The 7th Woman took France by storm, Frédérique Molay dedicated her life to writing and raising her three children. She has five books to her name, with three in the Chief Inspector Nico Sirsky series.
About the translator
The translator, Anne Trager has lived in France for over 26 years, working in translation, publishing and communications. In 2011, she woke up one morning and said, “I just can’t stand it anymore. There are way too many good books being written in France not reaching a broader audience.” That’s when she founded Le French Book to translate some of those books into English. The company’s motto is “If we love it, we translate it,” and Anne loves crime fiction.
I went to Scott Westerfeld’s website after I reviewed Afterworlds. He is running a series that anyone who writes, wants to write, or even reads YA should check out. I put the first 2 paragraphs here, with a link to his page. Check it out. Quite interesting.
My next novel, Afterworlds, is about a young writer reworking her first novel after NaNoWriMo. I thought a fun and useful promotion for it would be a series of writing advice posts. I got carried away.
So between now and November, this blog will host excerpts from a non-fiction book I’m releasing next year, called How to Write YA. You can’t buy it yet, because it’s not done, but you can preorder Afterworlds. It comes out September 23.
My wife picked the two lucky winners of Ark Storm..
TOR/Forge Books will be sending a hardcover copy of Ark Storm to…
I hope that both of you will enjoy your books. I got my copy from UPS today, so I will be starting it sometime next week, and should have a review up around October 1. I am sending an email to the lucky winners to tell them that they won, and also to TOR/Forge Books to tell them where to send the books.
Jeanette and Sheila, come back and tell me what you thought of the book.
A big thanks goes out to Ardi Alspach, Associate Publicist for TOR/Forge Books for providing the books used in this contest.
The Ark Storm is coming—a catastrophic weather event that will unleash massive floods and wreak more damage on California than the feared “Big One.” One man wants to profit from it. Another wants to harness it to wage jihad on American soil. One woman stands in their way: Dr. Gwen Boudain, a brave and brilliant meteorologist.
When Boudain notices that her climate readings are off the charts, she turns to Gabriel Messenger for research funding. Messenger’s company is working on a program that ionizes water molecules to bring rain on command. Meanwhile, Wall Street suits notice that someone is placing six-month bets on the prospect of an utter apocalypse and begin to investigate. Standing in the shadows is journalist Dan Jacobsen, a former Navy SEAL. War hardened, cynical, and handsome, Jacobsen is a man with his own hidden agenda.
Linda Davies’s Ark Storm brings together the worlds of finance, scientific innovation, and terrorism in a fast-paced thrill ride that will leave readers gasping.