March 21st, 2016

_Silkworm_, Robert Galbraith

Yes, you all know who Galbraith really is.

Oh and SPOILERS RUN AWAY or you will be included as a minor character in Bombyx mori.

Seriously.

This is the second novel featuring Cormoran Strike and Robin Ellacott, and takes up not too long after the first one leaves off. Things are going better for Strike's business, but not perfect. Ellacott is about to get married, as is Charlotte. One of these weddings actually happens and it isn't the one you might think it would be.

The mystery starts out as a missing persons case and only turns into a murder mystery partway through. The cast of possible suspects and various ancillary hangers on work in the London publishing industry. Galbraith includes some really great red herrings. For example, the character in one of the Bombyx mori books who says they are going to sing but winds up barking, and then the character in _Silkworm_ who has a barking cough throughout the book -- turns out NOT to be salient! Well, okay, the _cough_ turns out to be salient, in much the same way that the gloved hands in that Ngaio Marsh novel turn out to be important. Which shows up in the other publisher who has very reddened hands I was so SURE was going to turn out not to be eczema or psoriasis but rather acid burns but no, that TOO was not salient.

There is a bit more backstory about how Strike lost his leg, and we see one of his half-brothers a couple times. Matthew also gets more meaningful on-screen time.

I read this for book group which is tonight, unless it gets canceled due to weather (possible -- my son's school was canceled and my daughter's school was 2 hours delayed). Unlike many book group selections, I was planning on reading this anyway (and, in fact, we read the first book for book group, too). I really enjoyed it, altho a lot of the descriptive imagery is super awful and creepy.

Not sure what to think about entry 3 in the series -- it has a serial killer apparently. And I am developing an allergy to serial killers in fiction.

Book Blogging: Thea Harrison Elder Races/Tarot novellas

Thea Harrison's "Elder Races" series starts out with novels, but includes many shorter works, more or less novellas. Several of these novellas are linked by a Powerful Tarot deck that passes from one couple to the next through a variety of mechanisms purchase, theft, gift, etc.). A variety ...

HEY SPOILERS GET THE HELL OUT OF HERE

... of characters speculate that the Tarot deck is one of the God Machines mentioned in some of the novels, Powerful objects cast into the world which takes different forms to work the will of a god. Har de har har. Kudos to Harrison for naming these things what they are.

_True Colors_: somebody is killing Wyr, specifically, rainbow chameleons. A former army, now cop (particular variety of cop, but cop) Wyr shows up a little late to save one rainbow chameleon, but in time to save another one, a school teacher. So we have here a cop-school teacher romance. The _details_ are not realistic, but the pairing is very realistic. Alice, the school teacher, bought the Tarot deck some years earlier.

_Natural Evil_: Claudia Hunter, ex-special forces human with some telekinesis, is given the Tarot deck by Alice, because the deck wants to go to her. This particular transition is one of the most forced, but it works well enough. Claudia finds a very large dog by the side of the road and rescues it. It's not a dog, obvs, it is a Wyr and there some kind of weird thing going on in the very small town of Nirvana. It involves magical silver from a pocket of Other Land. Hunter, the Wyr, and the local vet manage to get it mostly squared away. As Claudia drives away, a goth Medusa teen steals the Tarot deck from the back seat.

_Devil's Gate_: The silver magic/Other land discovery starts a gold rush, a tent city, and a jurisdictional dispute that is not resolved promptly. Our friend the medical examiner Medusa, Dr. Telemar, has to go rescue her niece, the goth from the previous novela. She has been accused of murdering Dark Fae who was trafficking and other things. She is being held by first gen, pariah Djinn Malphas when Dr. Telemar and Vampyre lawyer Duncan Turner show up to rescue her. The plot is thin in this one, but Telemar/Turner are a ton of fun, so that's just Fine. Xanthe volunteers to take the Tarot deck with her back to Adriyel.

_Hunter's Season_: Xanthe takes some time off before going back to work for Niniane and Tiago. Since too many people might recognize her now, she won't be doing more undercover work (she was working for the Dark Fae guy in the previous novella, on assignment for Tiago). She's been crushed out on Aubrey Riordan for decades if not a century or more, and seeing him while she works for Niniane as a guard just makes that oh, so much worse. Riordan is attacked and Xanthe gets to guard him in secret at her cabin a long ways away from everyone else, while he recovers from his wounds. Yum. They do actually deliver the Tarot deck to Inanna's temple where it disappears when they aren't looking (which happened to Claudia Hunter, but probably this time it isn't being stolen by a goth teenage Medusa).

This next novella is not part of the Tarot series.

_The Wicked_: Carling's library in the abandoned house on the island in the Other land in San Francisco Bay needs to be packed up and packed out through the underwater tunnel. Three symbologists and a security team head out to take care of it. One is Olivia, librarian friend of the Oracle of Louisville. Another is Phaedra, repaired but still kinda weird, even for a Djinn. The team leader is Sebastian Hale, who was cursed and is going blind and is NOT happy about that at all. One of the other symbologists makes some trouble. Hale and Olivia go see the Oracle and THAT IS SO HYSTERICALLY FUNNY. Honestly, I love the Oracle. The Oracle is hilarious, particularly _after_ she's done something amazeballs and then comes out of it and goes Oh Gross. Having a Djinn -- or better yet, two -- around is Handy.

There are more novellas, but I haven't read them yet, and they seem to involve the Pia-Dragos-Liam family.

I'm enjoying the choices that Harrison is making to have some stories be full length novels, and other ones be novellas. There are connections, but everything reads okay standalone, and the reading order is quite forgiving.

_Night's Honor_, Thea Harrison (elder races #7)

This is the 7th novel, but if you want the gory details on the reading order, go look at the author's website.

SPOILERS! Run away or the evil pariah Djinn will get you!

In this outing, a human on the run from Malphas (boy, he just keeps turning up, doesn't he?) auditions for a job as a Vampyre, er, something or other. There's a cattle call (har de har har) for aides, donors, wtf, and she participates. She watches the people who go on stage before her and the audience (non) response and is fairly pissed by the time she goes up, so she's very to the point (My looks are forgettable and I'm smarter than most of you) and walks off -- to be very surprised to get a next round interview with Xavier Del Torro himself, second in commond to Julian King of the Nightkind. She gets a 1 year probationary period and then next chunk of the novel (after the desperate collect her car and drive over to the estate and be patted down security check sequence) is a training sequence. She's quite young (20s) and we learn slowly a little of her background: degrees in accounting and computer science, used to work for a casino in Vegas (owned by Malphas, natch), foster kid, rigid internal code, not a lot of friends/not any significant support system. As one might expect from a person with a broken attachment system, as soon as she and Xavier start to get along, she feels bad at relying on him for her protection/putting him at risk from the Evil Djinn and is about to run. But he's no idiot and gets the story out of her -- antics ensue.

And indeed, they are antics! Harrison has gone to some trouble to think about the powers of her Powers, and what their limitations are, and how a wily human could get around them. And Harrison has a lovely, lovely sense of humor. The whole thing with the piece of paper and the envelope and the deal with Soren is truly priceless.

Violent aftermath unrelated to that deal, and there's quite a little cliffhanger at the end to set up the next book, which is apparently a war in Nightkind demesne, Justine v. Julian and who knows who else, but involving other races as well (inevitably).

I liked how Xavier really got to thinking about the giving blood "test", and how in the past, more were reluctant (as Tess is) and now they are right up there and ready to go -- and the balance of trust has really changed, where those humans willing to offer blood right from the beginning turn out not to be reliable or loyal. I'm hoping he gets a chance to rework the ritual to better accomplish what it once did.

This has been a surprisingly strong and consistent series, despite the variety of protagonists, the many romances, the novels and novellas, the sense of humor, etc. I'll be sad when I run out of books and am stuck waiting for the next one.

Something Smells

I know it has been a few years, and I do recognize that it was state politics so if you don't live in the state in question, you may have forgotten, but allow me to remind you of this candidate, Carl Paladino, who mailed out some campaign flyers some years ago when he ran for governor. The flyers smelled like garbage (he also produced campaign materials with fecal themes):

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/11/nyregion/11ads.html

Why am I bringing up Paladino now?

Well, he's stumping for Trump in NY. And let me tell you, it isn't easy finding reputable links on this topic.

http://www.syracuse.com/politics/index.ssf/2016/03/carl_paladino_to_gop_leaders_get_behind_donald_trump_or_else.html

Also, there's this:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/29/nyregion/29advisers.html

Again, that article is from Paladino's campaign, when Haggerty was indicted. He has since been convicted, served his time, and is back out, again working for Paladino, this time in support of the Trump campaign.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/20/nyregion/john-haggerty-gets-prison-for-stealing-bloomberg-election-funds.html

I can't find a legit source for this bit, so I'm linking to the Daily Mail and I apologize in advance and I'll probably shower later just to feel clean again.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3501582/Convicted-felon-stole-750K-Bloomberg-s-campaign-joins-Trump-s-team-New-York.html

On the one hand, I do believe that people who make restitution, do their time, etc. often deserve another chance. On the other hand, yuck. Something smells.