Under Lock & Skeleton Key by Gigi Pandian

Under Lock & Skeleton Key by Gigi Pandian

Is it any wonder I enjoyed Under Lock & Skeleton Key? It's a locked room mystery, more or less, with delicious descriptions of food, multiple secret rooms and staircases, and even a family curse. Tempest comes from a magic family- even if none of them are currently performing. The family construction business does keep up the tradition though - it's all about creating hidden rooms, secret staircases, and the like. The misdirection theme runs throughout the book, almost too repetitively. The mystery itself is well done. The whodunnit didn't surprise me exactly and I was glad of a certain twist near the end. This is one of those books that's more about the how, which was actually pretty simple in the end, but I didn't put the pieces together. I like Tempest and her family. They are interesting and charming and feel real in their concerns. Her friends make a great team too and I hope we see more of...
Read More
The Fields by Erin Young

The Fields by Erin Young

The Fields was a bit too much for me. Riley Fisher, with a new promotion under her belt, is in charge of the investigation of the gruesome death of a woman found in the middle of a corn field, a woman who was Riley's friend when they were teenagers. Too much: Backstory: Riley was friends with the woman, but there's also another more tenuous personal connection to the case. I'm not a fan of dwelling on backstories and if this is actually the first of the series and relied so heavily on Riley's past, I'm not sure I want to read the next.Gruesome details: I read a lot of mysteries. The details here made me flinch and were just gross. For me they were over the top, and not in an enjoyable way.Bad decisions: The detectives in books like this always make some questionable decisions, and Riley is no exception. There are also some decisions that put a child in danger,...
Read More
A Desolation Called Peace by Arkady Martine

A Desolation Called Peace by Arkady Martine

First, go read A Memory Called Empire if you haven't yet. It's a fabulous book and I'm not sure you can fully understand/ enjoy A Desolation Called Peace without it. It's where we are first introduced to the Teixcalaan Empire, which spans across galaxies. It's an empire full of political intrigue and poetry. We also met Mahit Dzmare, the ambassador to Teixcalaan from Lsel Station, a small, independent mining space station with its own culture, identity, and most importantly technology. Lsel creates imagos, memory imprints that are designed to meld into the personality of the wearer and preserve the preceding generations of knowledge. This time around we meet the aliens, the ones killing people on the edges of the Teixalaan Empire. There is so much I could say about this book. The world-building is amazing and the aliens interesting, although maybe not unique. The main characters, and there are several, are each fully drawn with strengths and flaws and...
Read More
A Dead Djinn in Cairo by P. Djèlí Clark

A Dead Djinn in Cairo by P. Djèlí Clark

I thoroughly enjoyed A Master of Djinn and my library had "A Dead Djinn in Cairo" on audio, so I picked it up. The setting is a steampunk 1912 Cairo in a world where magic has been discovered/released. With the help of the djinn, Egypt has pretty much thrown England out. Fatma is sent out to investigate the apparent suicide of a strong djinn, but nothing's ever that simple is it. I enjoyed meeting Fatma again and seeing how her relationship with Siti started. The plot was fun, full of djinn and clockwork angels and ghouls. The main problem, the thing Fatma has to stop, becomes a problem again in the first full-length novel in the series, so I'm not sure if I'm glad to see how it originated or disappointed that the same "machine" is used in both. ...
Read More
A Master of Djinn by P. Djèlí Clark

A Master of Djinn by P. Djèlí Clark

There are several short stories set in the same world as A Master of Djinn and I do wish I had read them first. A Master of Djinn does a fabulous showing us this Cairo and introducing the character, but the events from at least two of the stories are mentioned and I think reading them would have given me a better background. I may actually go back and read them now - I did love the world. A Master of Djinn is more or less a murder mystery set in a steampunk alternate 1912 Cairo where djinn live and work among mortals. Our investigator is Fatma from the Egyptian Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments, and Supernatural Entities. The dead men and woman are members of an Al-Jahiz Secret Brotherhood, all found murdered, their bodies, but not their clothes, burned to a crisp. Turns out an imposter claimant to be Al-Jahiz returned is running around town causing all kinds of havoc. Clark...
Read More
Putin’s People by Catherine Belton

Putin’s People by Catherine Belton

Putin's People is a clearly well-researched, possibly slightly biased, history of Putin, the KGB, and Russia from the fall of the Soviet Union to a couple of years ago. This was obviously published before the current war, but you can still see it coming. Honestly, the war is why I picked it up. I don't read much history or politics or economics, but then something happens and I wish I had more background to draw on. I am probably not the best audience for this book. There are tons and tons of people, places, companies, very few of which I'm familiar with. It's a dense book and I won't remember many of the details, but it's also well laid out and at times almost reads like a thriller. The Russia of today isn’t much different from the Russia before 1991 and the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Not only are the viewpoints, world views, and goals for the most part...
Read More