John Darnielle: Black Sabbath – Master of Reality

Darnielle’s entry on Black Sabbath’s Master of Reality in the 33 1/3 series of books about albums uses the device of a teenager’s diary entries to explore the record. (There’s nothing that specifically identifies the diarist as the kid in The Mountain Goats song “Best Ever Death Metal Band in Denton,” but it sure soundsContinue reading “John Darnielle: Black Sabbath – Master of Reality”

MaryJanice Davidson: Undead and Unwed

What I liked best about Undead and Unwed is that neither Davidson nor her heroine take the proceedings too seriously. Betsy reacts to joining the ranks of the undead with sass and irreverence not totally dissimilar to Buffy’s response to learning that she is “The Slayer.” In fact, I almost wonder if that might haveContinue reading “MaryJanice Davidson: Undead and Unwed”

Peter David: Sir Apropos of Nothing

I can’t help but think this heroic fantasy parody would be substantially better if it were a lot shorter. It opens with a rather laborious description of personal combat ending with a gag death. The humor relies on the reader’s visualization, and I think it would have worked much better as a handful of pagesContinue reading “Peter David: Sir Apropos of Nothing”

Alexandre Dumas: The Three Musketeers

Translated with an introduction by Richard Pevear I’m no literary critic; I read The Three Musketeers primarily because I recently saw Slumdog Millionare, and I’ve been making a conscious effort to read books a little farther afield from my usual choices. But for whatever it’s worth, here are my impressions. Initially I found The ThreeContinue reading “Alexandre Dumas: The Three Musketeers”

Doug Dorst: Alive in Necropolis

The book jacket description and a handful of pull quotes (from writers with ties to the McSweeney’s camp, mostly) were enough to get me to read Alive in Necropolis, but the novel exceeded the expectations I had of it. It sounds perhaps a bit silly in capsule form: emotionally fragile rookie cop Michael Mercer rescuesContinue reading “Doug Dorst: Alive in Necropolis”

Lindsey Davis: The Iron Hand of Mars

Don’t worry, I’m not going to write about every single volume of Davis’ Marcus Didius Falco series. But this one is interesting because it both is and isn’t a major departure from the preceding 3 novels. The basic ingredients are the same: historical fiction, hardboiled whodunnit, comedy of manners, political intrigue, and romance. But theContinue reading “Lindsey Davis: The Iron Hand of Mars”

Lindsey Davis; Venus in Copper

With this, the third novel in Davis’ series of mysteries set in the Roman empire and featuring professional “informer” Marcus Didius Falco, I became an unabashed fan. A library request for the next volume was delayed by the long holiday weekend, and as my impatience grew, I cleaned Kate’s Mystery Books out of their entireContinue reading “Lindsey Davis; Venus in Copper”

Peter Dickinson: The Seventh Raven

An illustration of the power of context: Lately I’ve been writing quite a bit about fantasy novels marketed to young adult audiences (probably to the dismay of many readers, but that’s beside the point for now). I was on the Amazon website perusing lists of people’s favorite young adult novels, and in a list withContinue reading “Peter Dickinson: The Seventh Raven”

Lindsey Davis; Silver Pigs

Silver Pigs is a hard-boiled historical mystery set in ancient Rome, specifically, in the reign of Vespasian, just after the turbulence that followed Nero’s death. I’ve frequently enjoyed historical mysteries, but they rarely succeed for me on both levels — either the period detail is compelling and the mystery is a bit slight, or theContinue reading “Lindsey Davis; Silver Pigs”