Lauren Henderson: Freeze My Margarita

It may partly be “too many books in the same series back-to-back” syndrome, but Freeze My Margarita felt much more tired and formulaic than the previous book in the Sam Jones series, Black Rubber Dress, and several particulars bugged me: The opening scene is set in a D/s club. It seems to be set thereContinue reading “Lauren Henderson: Freeze My Margarita”

Lauren Henderson: Black Rubber Dress

I liked Black Rubber Dress quite well right up to the final chapters. Sculptress and amateur-sleuth-by-virtue-of-nosiness Sam Jones (don’t call her Samantha) sells a piece of artwork to a London investment bank, which — along with the titular garment she wears to the unveiling — gives her an entrée to, and a pleasantly outside perspectiveContinue reading “Lauren Henderson: Black Rubber Dress”

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”

Diana Peterfreund: Under the Rose: An Ivy League Novel

I was a little hard on Secret Society Girl, so I’m happy to report that Under the Rose addresses both major defects I complained of in the first novel: less heavy-handed telegraphing of evolving plot points, no deus ex machina. Amy Haskel’s breezy narrative voice is if anything even more assured, and the novel wasContinue reading “Diana Peterfreund: Under the Rose: An Ivy League Novel”

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”

Martin H. Greenberg and John Helfers (eds); Slipstreams

Pretty much ever since the genres science fiction, fantasy, and horror have existed as distinct marketing categories, there have been periodic movements seeking to un-define them as such. In the 60’s there was “The New Wave.” In the 80’s some bruited about the awkward, demi-hemispherist phrase “North American magical realism.” And more recently, an unrulyContinue reading “Martin H. Greenberg and John Helfers (eds); Slipstreams”

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”

Jen Banbury: Like a Hole in the Head

I’m not a big fan of movies that rely on “twist” endings. I think the value of surprise as an artistic technique is easily overrated. If it’s not a good movie if you know the ending, it’s just not a good movie, period. But on the other hand, it can be really rewarding to seeContinue reading “Jen Banbury: Like a Hole in the Head”