An easy read and a pretty good story

I just finished Lonely Path, the second Bodhi King mystery by Melissa F. Miller. King is a forensic pathologist who also happens to be a Buddhist. It is an interesting combination. In this book, King is presenting a paper at a conference in Quebec City. Once there, he discovers an old friend form medical school is also in attendance. While exploring the area, they come across a young woman who is unable to communicate much but doesn’t seem to be in physical distress. They get her to the hospital, where it is later determined that the young woman died a few years before. Sounds kind of crazy, right? I was sure that this wasn’t going to be a zombie apocalypse book (at least I hoped it wouldn’t be!) so I kept reading. And I am glad I did.

In solving this mystery, the good doctor also helps to solve the mystery of a rash of drug overdoses that have baffled police and medical personnel. He and his old friend are almost killed in the process, but he manages to save the day – and their lives.

Bodhi King is someone I would like to spend time with. He is smart and thoughtful and caring. He is, as I said, Buddhist, and Miller does a good job of making it a part of his character, not something artificially added on either to make a point or to add interest. The reader can pay as much or as little attention to these details as she wants. I chose to pay a lot of attention, but you certainly wouldn’t have to

If you come across anything by Miller, I suggest you give it a try. I have never been disappointed.

Another excellent book by R.A. Salvatore

That title could be applied to everything Salvatore has written, I think, but in this case I am talking about Servant of the Shard. It was excellent, and I loved it. This book mentions Drizzt, but that’s all. Instead, the main characters are Artemis Entreri, the assassin, and Jarlaxle, the drow leader of a group of mercenaries.

The Crystal Shard is an artifact that Drizzt had tried to destroy – before it was stolen by Jarlaxle. He eventually realizes that there was good reason for Drizzt to want to eliminate it from the world, and he and Entreri join forces to do that, alienating the other mercenaries in the process. In the end, of course, they are successful, but it isn’t easy.

Both these characters have appeared in many Drizzt books, but they were bad guys basically. They have grown and, while they are not totally good “people”, they are much better than they used to be. Will Entreri still kill without hesitation? Yes, but he will also save your life if the need arises. Will Jarlaxle scheme and try to gain as much advantage as he possibly can? Definitely! But the two develop a respect for each other and eventually even a friendship that makes them really fun characters. There are two more books in this Sellswords trilogy, both centering on this duo. I am looking forward to reading both.

Before I ever read anything by Salvatore, my son had told me that he wrote the best fight scenes, and I have to say that this book is really a good example of that. Much of the book is fight scenes, and they are really well done. I am not usually a fan of fighting, but Salvatore writes these scenes in such a way that I am right there with the combatants. I can visualize and almost feel what they feel. I am still amazed by that! If you enjoy fight scenes in general, I’m sure you will love any of Salvatore’s books.

A decent mystery

Early this morning I finished Rollover, the second Dan Mahoney mystery by Susan Slater. It was a mystery set in northern New Mexico that uses an actual unsolved bank robbery as its basis. I had read one other book by Slater, and I enjoyed it, so I thought I would give this one a try. And I am glad I did. Again, a big part of the appeal for me is the location. Slater lived in New Mexico for almost 40 years, and her descriptions and understanding of the place seem spot on to me.

Dan Mahoney is an insurance investigator sent to Wagon Wheel, New Mexico to investigate the apparent theft of an extremely valuable Tiffany necklace that his company had insured. Fairly early on he receives an anonymous message: “It’s not what you think.” And that is actually an understatement. There are so many twists and turns and stories within the story that you are left as confused as Dan about what actually happened for a long time. But it was not confusing or hard to follow by any means. It was just a good story.

Dan and his girlfriend, Elaine, are good characters, and I enjoyed getting to know them. I expect to read more in this series and get to know them even better. I encourage you to do the same!

A book by an author I’ve wanted to read for a while now

As I have said before, I am fascinated by history, and I have long wanted to read something by Harry Turtledove, one of the most famous authors of alternative history. So when i found a good deal on Hitler’s War: The War That Came Early, Book One, I bought it. And I finally was ready to read it a couple weeks ago. So I did. And I guess I am glad that I did.

Let me start by saying that this book is written in a way that is not at all appealing to me: long chapters, no discernible organization to those chapters, lots and lots of stories and characters that were sometimes confusing to me. I was telling my husband about it this morning, and he asked me why I was reading it if it was so uncomfortable to read. I thought for a minute a told him that after reading more than 400 pages of a 530 page book, I wasn’t going to give up. But I also thought about all the parts of the book that I enjoyed.

I am NOT a fan of war fiction or history. My undergraduate degree is in history, but I definitely was not/am not interested in the history of war. So I had to back and re-read the blurb about the book to be sure I knew what made it alternate history and not real history. (Hint: Chamberlain didn’t sign the Munich Accord and the war began early.) I don’t enjoy reading about battles or guns or airplanes. So why didn’t I just give up? The main reason is that Turtledove made me care about the characters – German, French, English, Soviet, American, and all the rest. They were real people. Would I have enjoyed having fewer characters to care about? Yes, I would have. But that isn’t how Turtledove wrote the book, so I have to be satisfied with the fact that I cared about the characters he gave me. As a matter of fact, I cared about them so much that I am almost — but not quite — tempted to buy the second book in the series. There was, of course, no real conclusion in this book, so we are left not knowing what happens to the characters, but I am prepared to live with that. I am satisfied with having read a Turtledove novel. That’s enough for me! .

A great book by one of my favorite authors

I just finished The Punishment She Deserves by Elizabeth George. Detective Sergeant Barbara Havers and her New Scotland Yard superior, who is looking for an excuse to fire her, are sent to investigate the handling of a suicide. Since the man died in police custody and the father has complained to his Member of Parliament, they need to verify that the first investigation was cnducted appropriately. Of course, Havers, who is a good cop but has trouble following orders, wants them to investigate the suicide instead of the investigation into the handling of the suicide, so there are problems from the start. When that investigation leads to more questions, Havers’ usual partner, Inspector Thomas Lynley, is called in later to help her discover what really happened. They unravel a very complicated series of events and lies and ultimately discover the truth.

This is not just a police story, though. George has created a complex story with many layers. This book is filled with wonderful, flawed characters. She doesn’t tie things up neatly at the end, so one is left with a lot to think about. And you do think about it because you come to care about them over the course of the book (704 pages in this case!). And then there is the title. Which “she” does the title refer to? There are a lot of women who either deserve to be punished or at least think they deserve to be punished. It was an extremely satisfying read because I can’t just put it aside and move on to the next book as I so often do. I will be thinking about this one for a while.

This is the 20th of her Inspector Lynley books, and I have read all but one of the first 19. There is a 21st book out, too, and it is on my wishlist!