Monday, January 31, 2011

The Archer

 Laura King, a young college student who lives with her parents, is being harrased by an obsence phone caller. Who would be so entranced by  Laura, called 'prudish', by her male classmates? Is it the evil twins? Or someone more sinister? Laura claims she has no jilted lover or even a boyfriend. So who is frightening her with their dirty mouth and who is following her around town?  Tom Casey, nicknamed 'Hawkman' by the townspeople of Medford, Oregon, is a private investigator drawn into the case. There are no clues until the perpetrator can't resist showing off a particular skill - archery. Flying arrows, and the discovery that the recorded voices are not the same, leads the detective on a merry chase among Laura's neighbors and friends.

This ebook is the 13th in the Hawkman series by Betty Sullivan LaPierre. Casey, his wife Jennifer, cat Miss Marple and a falcon called Pretty Girl make up the backdrop of the Hawkman investigations. The Archer is a pleasant read, especially if you have followed the series. It's a mystery set amid ordinary farm related circumstances with extraordinary perversion and a rather surprising ending.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

I see by your letter. . .

A writer's group I belong to recently started a discussion about characterization. How do you make your characters seem real? There were several excellent comments, especially from the published authors, but no one mentioned the form I personally use. I have my characters write me a letter.

A what? I hear you saying. Being of an age when letter writing was a fine art I resorted to that means to get to know the characters in my book. Those of you reading this that are writers won't be shocked at this method, others may decide I'm really crackers and they shouldn't be on this page. Hear me out.

With paper ready and pen in hand I begin to visualize the character I want to create. I ask them who they are, what they want me to know, and then I begin writing. I suppose psychics would term it automatic writing. I give it no such airs. Letting the words flow I begin to understand what makes these people unique. For instance, I had no idea the main character in my recent work was a reformed alcoholic. A minor character began his letter by saying, 'it's about time you got around to me.' I find him playing a larger role in the plot than previously allotted.

Just a suggestion - take it for what it's worth and happy writing!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Old World Murder

I love a book where I can be entertained and also learn something I didn't know. Old World Murder didn't disappoint. Set in the reconstructed historic village of Old World Wisconsin, amid pioneer living history characters and less than perfect administrators, Chloe Ellefson returns to her Scandinavian roots and begins a new job as museum curator. 
On her first day an elderly woman came to see her wanting desperately to retrieve a Norwegian rosemaled (rose painting)  bowl that she had given the museum several years ago. When the woman dies under mysterious circumstances Chloe becomes intrigued by her request and begins an investigation that not only puts her in danger but other characters within the story.

Set in the rich backdrop of Scandinavian and German immigrant history the book moves rapidly through to a conclusion that leaves you wanting more. It is a book about history, mysterious deaths, prejudice and rebuilding a personal life. 
I have only two concerns with this first adult novel by Kathleen Ernst. Number one is the title, I felt it to be a little misleading but won't tell you why because I don't do 'spoilers'. The second; I know the main character, Chloe, has come through an emotional struggle but I felt she relied a little too heavily on the consumption of alcohol. Seems she always has a drink in her hand. Perhaps, Ms. Ernst has a reason for this since this is obviously a series?
At any rate it's a good read and now I know about a place I want to visit if ever in Wisconsin - and I know about the wonderful art of rosemaling. Well done, Kathleen.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Virgin of Small Plains - Nancy Pickard

This book is haunting, both literally and metaphorically. Who was the beautiful young girl found naked and dead in the aftermath of a blinding snowstorm? Why was her face so brutally disfigured? And where is Mitch Newquist, the Judge's son? 

Abby Reynolds, daughter of the local doctor is still asking those questions seventeen years after the town buried the 'virgin' in their  Kansas plains cemetery. Did miracles really occur when someone visited her grave? Or had the years of myth just made it seem true?

Answers to questions begin to unfold when Mitch Newquist arrives back in town. Family secrets, long buried, are unearthed and shake the very foundation of Small Plains. A realistic, memorable book of misguided honor, horrific storms, and a touch of faith in the unknown.

Friday, January 7, 2011

The Rose in the Wheel - S.K. Rizzolo

For readers who love the sights and sounds of 19th century England ‘The Rose in the Wheel’ is a must read.  Was young, attractive Constance Tyrone, a woman philanthropically inclined and of high moral standards, really struck down and killed by a hackney coach? Or was there something more sinister in her death? Why was she in the street, late at night, in satin slippers and why was there only one jeweled slipper found at the scene of her death?
These are a few of the puzzling questions facing Bow Street Runner, John Chase. Renowned artist, Jeremy Wolfe, becomes a prime suspect and then mysteriously disappears.  Wolfe’s estranged wife, Penelope, believes in his innocence and sets out to prove it by volunteering at the St. Catherine Society were Ms. Tyrone helped the indigent and abused woman of that period.  When Penelope learns of a social disease circulating among the workers at St. Catherine’s she is drawn to ask pertinent questions that eventually leads her and other characters, including John Chase, to an exciting conclusion.
The book is well crafted, the characters unique, and the plot complicated enough to keep the most critical reader involved until the end. 

Coming Next - The Virgin of Small Plains - Nancy Pickard