Thursday, October 18, 2018

The Forgotten Beasts of Eld, by Patricia A. McKillip (author), Dina Pearlman (narrator)

Audible Studios, January 2011 (original publication 1974)

Sybel is the daughter and granddaughter of wizards, and a wizard herself, continuing the family tradition of collecting strange and magical animals. She has not mixed with her neighbors much, or at all, and has no children.

Then a local, lesser lord, Coren, arrives at her gate carrying a baby boy. The baby is Tamlorn, the son of her mother's younger sister, and also of King Drede.

But Drede believes,with some reason it must be said, that Tamlorn is in fact the son of one of Coren's older brother, Norrell. Norrell and Rhianna are dead, killed by Drede. Coren asks her to love, protect, and raise Tamlorn.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

The Fifth Risk, by Michael Lewis (author), Victor Bevine (narrator)

Audible Studios, October 2018

What happens when the people responsible for running our government have no idea how it works--and don't really care?

This is a look at how complex the actual workings of our government really are, what the federal agencies actually do, why it matters, and how completely unprepared and indifferent the Trump team was.

This is not a partisan work. Not at all--unless you count caring about government working properly as "partisan." But in that case, the "parties" you're talking about aren't Democrat and Republican, or liberal and conservative.

Lewis describes the senior staff of the federal departments and agencies preparing for the arrival, right after the election, for the arrival of the "landing teams" of whichever candidate won, to be able to brief them on what their agencies and departments do, to equip them to start the process of taking over.

Lewis also describes the utter silence and absence of anyone from the Trump team that day, that week, for weeks to come.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Dark Secrets (Dark Falls CO #2), by Savannah Kade

October 2018

Grace Lee's brother, Jimmy, has died in Dark Falls, CO, where he has lived happily with his boyfriend for years, and his death has been rule a suicide--by heroin overdose.

But former junkie Jimmy had been clean for just shy of five years, and Grace hadn't seen any of the signs she'd seen around his previous relapses into using. She just does not believe it. And Grace is a forensic scientist with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

Even the death scene photo is wrong. Very, very wrong.

Nate Ryder is the Dark Falls police detective who closed the case based on the medical examiner's report and verbal confirmation from the medical examiner. At first he's just humoring Grace because, after all, it's her brother who died, but the more they look at the report, the tests that weren't done, the fact that her brother's body has already been cremated...

Monday, October 15, 2018

How Language Began: The Story of Humanitiy's Greatest Invention, by Daniel L. Everett (author), Jonathan Yen (narrator)

Tantor Audio, March

This is such a frustrating book.

Everett has a lot to say, that's of interest, about the history of human language, and makes an interesting, and to me persuasive, case that language goes back to Homo erectus, if not further. One thing he points to, hardly the only one, is the H. erectus population on the the island of Flores. They must at some point have arrived in numbers sufficient to establish a viable population, which would mean a minimum of fifty men, women, and children arriving together or in close succession. This isn't likely with accidental rafting. It suggests more sophisticated skills, to build craft capable of crossing that distance in sufficient numbers intentionally--which would probably require language.

He's also quite, quite certain that language is an invention, not an instinct. If you think otherwise, you are wrong. Completely wrong. Oh, and he really thinks Noam Chomsky is completely wrong, and doesn't seem to concede him any significant contributions on the subject of language at all.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Hi Bob!, by Bob Newhart (author), Narrators: Bob Newhart, Marc Maron, Judd Apatow, Will Ferrell, Jimmy Kimmel, Lisa Kudrow, Conan O'Brien, and Sarah Silverman

Audible Originals, July 2018

Bob Newhart was for decades one of the most popular and consistently likable comics in America. His two tv series might be better remembered now (or not, I could be completely wrong about that), but he also had a long career as a stand-up comic, with some tremendously popular spoken-word albums. When he started out, there were no comedy clubs, and the entire experience of being a professional comedian was very different.

In this audiobook, he talks with fellow comedians, about his stand-up career, their experiences getting started in the business, friendships, challenges, and, somewhat oddly to me, mostly his second major tv success, Newhart, with only secondary mention of his original hit show, The Bob Newhart Show.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

The Practice Baby, by L.M. Ardor

Critical Mass/Saint Copy PR, ISBN 9781925579994, October 2018

Dee Flanery is a gp, with three kids, an ex-husband who has remarried and had twins, and a thriving practice whose patients include Tom, the first of her "practice babies," a person who has been her patient since birth, now in his mid-twenties. He's on the autism spectrum, calls himself "an Aspie," and has a tendency to be obsessive in ways that benefit both his career as a computer security expert, and the management of his potentially dangerous asthma.

When Tom doesn't show up for an appointment, it's out of character and very worrying. His mother doesn't always have the best judgment, but is a devoted mother, and when she can't get the police to take her missing persons report seriously, she asks Dee to help.

When they finally get the police to do, what in the US is called a wellness check, though I didn't see that term in this book set in Australia, Tom is dead. A man who was obsessive about managing his asthma has apparently died of an asthma attack.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Exit Strategy Murderbot Diaries #4), by Martha Wells (author), Kevin R. Free (narrator)

Audible Audio, October 2018

Murderbot has successfully escaped the environs of its latest run-in with GrayCris Corporation, with proof of GrayCris' criminal activity. If it can get back to Preservation space and reach Dr. Mensah, its...owner? guardian? friend?, GrayCris can, possibly, be stopped from getting more colonists and scientific expeditions killed in their pursuit of corporate profit.

Unfortunately, GrayCris has kidnapped Dr. Mensah and is demanding an enormous ransom, apparently in hopes of also luring Murderbot in. GrayCris thinks Murderbot still has the evidence in its possession. Murderbot is smarter than that, but Dr. Mensah is still at enormous risk. The sensible thing for a rogue SecUnit that was never programmed to care about anyone is to forget about Mensah, head out beyond the corporate rim, and let the  people it has sent the information to act on it.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Dark Falls (Dark Falls #1), by Lori Ryan

October 2018

John Sevier is a police detective in Dark Falls, CO, and the Major Crimes unit he's a part of of is investigating a string of jewelry store holdups. They started out targeting smaller, lower-end shops that couldn't afford good security, grabbing what they could at closing time, and getting out. Then they start ramping up, their leader in particular becoming violent.

John starts worrying about a woman he hasn't seen since college, when she left early to take care of her father and her sister. Ava McNair joined her father in running their jewelry shop. His heart condition won't let him keep the hours he used to. Her sister Janna's autism keeps her from working with the customers, although she's a far better jeweler than Ava. So Ava is the shop manager, and the one who'll be at most risk if the increasingly violent gang starts striking shops in the business district she's in.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Chasing Ghosts (Dudley Sisters Saga #6), by Madalyn Morgan

Madalyn Morgan, June 2018

This is number six in a series. However, I've read none of the previous books, and did not find it a problem to follow and understand what was going on.

Englishwoman Claire Mitchell and her husband, Canadian Alain "Mitch" Mitchell were SOE operatives during the Second World War, dropped into France to work with the French Resistance. During that time, Mitch was captured and imprisoned by the Germans. What exactly happened is unclear, but he did eventually escape. During the escape he was shot in the leg, but reached a doctor who removed the bullets and successfully saved the leg.

They did not exchange names; it would have been dangerous. You can't reveal what you don't know.

In 1949, they've been reunited for several years, and their daughter, Aimée, is now eight years old. But Mitch has been having problems since the war, and is now diagnosed with shell shock--what we now call Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. He's sent back to Canada to be treated by a specialist, and Claire and Aimée go with him. Three months later, when they are returning home, Mitch disappears before they board the plane.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Death and the Assassin's Blade (DI Tremayne #2), by Phillip Strang

Phillip Strang, November 2017

It's six months after the terrible events at Avon Hill. Tremayne is doing something utterly atypical for himself--attending a local "Shakespeare in the Park" performance of Julius Caesar. He's doing it for DS Clare Yarwood, who is back at work after extended compassionate following Harry's death, but still not fully back to normal. Tremayne thinks what they really need is a new murder to investigate, but Salisbury and environs have been quiet.

Some time after Mark Antony's speech following Caesar's death, the head of the local theater group, Peter Freestone, an occasional drinking buddy of Tremayne's approaches them. Caesar, or rather the actor playing him, Gordon Mason, a local solicitor, is actually dead, of stab wounds.

Two of the blades for the fake assassin's knives had been replaced with real, sharp, and non-retractable blades. Both had been used by Mason, on stage. Two of the actors among the theatrical assassins actually murdered Gordon Mason.

Friday, October 5, 2018

High Crimes (Georgia Davis PI #5), by Libby Fischer Hellmann

The Red Herring Press, ISBN 9781938733956, November 2018

It's January 2018, and Donald Trump has been President for a year. Dena Baldwin, respected scion of a wealthy Chicago family, head of a major nonprofit charitable foundation, founder of a Resistance group, has organized a major protest. She briefly worries her fellow organizers of the group and the protest by arriving late, but she makes it in time that her second, Ruth Marriotti, doesn't have to stand up and speak in her place.

Then a shot rings out, Dena and one of the others are dead, and Ruth is badly wounded. Moments later, the shooter blows himself up on the roof of a nearby building.

Dena's mother, Erica Baldwin, calls Georgia Davis when the FBI's silence and apparent lack of action frustrates and distresses her. She wants answers.

What Georgia finds are more questions.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

The Kennedy Debutante, by Kerri Maher

Berkley, ISBN 9780451492043, October 2018

Kathleen "Kick" Kennedy was the fourth child, and second daughter, of Joseph and Rose Kennedy. There were nine in all, and her siblings included Jack (President John F. Kennedy), Bobby (US Attorney-General, later Senator, Robert F. Kennedy), and Teddy (Senator Edward M. Kennedy.)

All of which sounds very dry. Kick Kennedy died young enough that she's barely remembered today, but her short life was packed with big events during a significant time in history. This is a fictionalized account, taking the bare facts and what we can infer from her impact on the rest of the family, and weaving them into an engrossing historical novel about a very real woman.

Joseph P. Kennedy Sr. was US Ambassador to Britain from 1938 to 1940. Catholic and Irish American, he was the first Catholic to represent the US in Britain, and this was a time when that still mattered. The Kennedys brought their children with them, and along with Joe Jr. and Jack, the two oldest boys, the two oldest girls, Rosemary and Kick, were old enough to be introduced to the social world. They were presented at court, and that is a moving scene where we get the first hints of why Rosemary is a problem for the family. It's also where Kick demonstrates her grace and poise under pressure.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Dog Care at Home: The Ultimate Dog Care Guide for a Happy & Healthy Dog at Home, by Gina Harding

PawLife, September 2018

Are you planning on getting a dog, especially your first dog? Dogs are a great addition to your family, bringing both a lot of fun and a lot of emotional reward, but they're also a lot of work. There's a lot to know, especially when you are just starting out as a first time dog owner.

This book is aimed at providing a convenient guide to what you need to know.

What this isn't is a breed guide book. Beyond a helpful overview of the various broad categories of dogs (terriers, hounds, herding dogs, etc.), Harding leaves that to others, concentrates on how to bring whatever dog you choose into your home, provide the care they need, and enjoy life with a dog.

It's a very helpful, straightforward guide, aimed at putting the information at your fingertips when you need it, as well as being readable enough that you can read through it in a few sittings. Even if not all the important details stick the first time, you'll know where to turn to look for them.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

All I Ever Wanted, by David Neth (author), Drew Malone Nienhaus (narrator)

David Neth, 2018

Leo and his mother have faced some challenging times, struggling to make ends meet, since Leo's father left. With very little money, Leo is looking for the perfect Mother's Day gift, when he finds a gravy boat in a local shop. It looks a lot like one of the family heirlooms they had to sell for money to get by on, and he hopes his mother will really like it.

It turns out to be a genie's lamp.

The genie, whose name is Felix, of course offers him three wishes. Well, not so much offers. He needs Leo to accept and use those three wishes.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Death Unholy (DI Tremayne #1), by Phillip Strang

Phillip Strang, September 2017

This is the first of the DI Tremayne murder mysteries. Tremayne is in his fifties, an older cop accustomed to older ways, not entirely comfortable with the changes--but not ready to retire, much though Superintendent Moulton would like him to. His partner is DS Clare Yarwood--young, eager for a career in homicide, and very comfortable with computers, the internet, and what they can do.

For both good and ill, she's also not old, hardened, and cynical, like Tremayne.

This case starts with what doesn't at first glance appear to be a murder, just a strange and unexplained death, apparently by spontaneous human combustion. But Tremayne doesn't believe in unexplained deaths, especially not the kind that leave no evidence of the cause.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Little Red Rodent Hood (Hamster Princess #6), by Ursula Vernon (author), Eva Kaminsky (narrator)

Recorded Books, September 2018

Ursula Vernon is, as always, a delight.

In this case, she takes the story of Little Red Riding Hood, and turns it inside out and sideways, with wonderful results.

Princess Harriet Hamsterbone and her friend Wilbur respond to a plea from a very odd young hamster girl, dressed all in red. and mount their riding quail to go to the aid of her grandmother. Grandmother's cottage in the woods is surrounded by weaselwolves of nefarious intent...

Thursday, September 27, 2018

The Tuscan Child, by Rhys Bowen (author), Jonathan Keeble (narrator), Katy Sobey (narrator)

Audible Studios, February 2018

Hugo Langley, English airman, son and heir of a baronet, is shot down over Italy in 1944. Sofia Bartoli, young mother, and wife of a soldier fighting in North Africa, finds him, and hides him in the ruins of a monastery bombed by the allies after the Germans had occupied it and turned it into a military strong point.

Thirty years later, Joanna Langley returns to her father's home to arrange his funeral and settle his estate, such as it is. Most of it was lost to death duties when Hugo returned home at the end of the war, his father dead, the estate occupied by British troops for most of the war, and his wife and son departed for America. Joanna is the daughter of his second marriage, and her mother died when she was eleven.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Malice at the Manor (Penny Summers #2), by J. Marshall Gordon

Taylor & Seale Publishing, April 2018

Penny Summers, a former Navy public affairs officer now out of the Navy and starting her own landscape design business, has traveled from Maryland to North Carolina with her friend and teacher, Madison Lerrimore. They're there to visit Brantleigh Manor, the (fictional) last garden designed by Frederick Law Olmsted before his death. A secondary goal is for Madison to meet and reconcile with her former stepfather, Wayland Morgan, who has become a Civil War enthusiast and reenactor, and who works as a docent, impersonating Olmsted, at Brantleigh Manor. They're staying with Penny's great-aunt, Zelma Porter. Penny doesn't really believe in her aunt's claimed psychic abilities, despite the fact that she (Penny) has her grandfather, Zelma's late brother, Jack, in her head making comments and suggestions.

That sounds like a lot going on. It only scratches the surface. Madison's goal in meeting her former stepfather again isn't reconciliation. She's got a serious and legitimate grudge, regardless of what one thinks of her method of resolving it.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Benjamin's Bride (Lawmen's Brides #2), by Natalie Dean

September 2018

Mary-Lee Jameson's father, Texas Ranger Aurelius Jameson, left some crucial papers with her and rode away from the home she lived in with her nanny and the housekeeper, when she was twelve. It was not long before, her father missing and presumed dead, her uncle, Augustus, arrives to take her from Oklahoma to Kansas. He has no time to waste from his criminal activities on raising his brother's daughter, so he sends her to school.

Eight years later, he still wants the papers he suspects her father gave her, and which he still hasn't found. At twenty, she's working as a teacher, but he figures he can force her to marry Lance Townsend, who'll beat out of her the papers' hiding place and split the wealth with Augustus Jameson.

Because the papers are the deeds to gold mines. Mary-Lee knows that now, and that she's rich if she can hang on to them--and a dependent victim if she allows herself to be forced to marry Townsend.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Single Malt Murder (Whisky Business Mystery #1), by Melinda Mullet (author), Gemma Dawson (narrator)

Audible Studios, June 2017

When the uncle who raised her dies, Abigail Logan inherits a highly regarded whisky distillery in Scotland. Unfortunately, Abi is a photojournalist experienced at doing her work in war zones, not a distiller, or even much of a whisky drinker. With her friend Patrick, a writer for Wine & Spirits, and her Irish terrier, Liam, she heads off to  Scotland, expecting to attend her uncle's funeral, settle the estate, and put in motion plans to sell the distillery to someone better qualified to run it.

That lasts until, on the one hand, people start telling her that women can't run distilleries, and on the other hand, the threatening notes start arriving.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Hiding With the Billionaire (Billionaires of REKD #1), by Donna K. Weaver

Emerald Arch Publishing, September 2018

Billionaire romances are not usually my thing; they often feel especially artificial. I can't necessarily claim this one is grounded solidly in reality, but I like the characters. They, including the four billionaire friends, seem like real, credible, likable people.

The basic background: A few years ago, some Harvard students, while still in grad school, created a game which hit it big, and sold it for millions. With that money, they started their company, REKD, and created a new game, a competitive arena type game, and went big into esports. Our first billionaire, Rafe Davis, is the CEO of the company, and persuaded his friends to locate in his native North Carolina, to be near his mother, stepfather, and younger siblings. Another of the friends, Kayn, has a sister, Ahri, who got married three years ago, to a guy Kayn never approved of.

For the past year, their marriage has been getting steadily worse. Then one day he comes home, tells her he's leaving, and oh, by the way, she needs to get out, too, because otherwise she'll be in real danger. Go to her mother, or her brother.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Dark Tide Rising (William Monk #24), by Anne Perry

Random House/Ballantine Books, ISBN 9780399179914, September 2018

Businessman Harry Exeter comes to Oliver Rathbone, who summons old friend and Thames River Police Commander William Monk, on a nasty, wet, cold evening.

Exeter's wife Kate has been kidnapped. The kidnappers are demanding a large ransom--one he can, with some difficulty, raise. He's ready to pay, in order to get his beloved wife back. Yet it has to be delivered on Jacob's Island, less an island than a slum built on a swamp and sinking into the river. He needs knowledgeable and trustworthy escort to even get to the right spot.

Of course Monk agrees. It's the only think to do. (Even the US was still decades away from the events that led to today's now long-standing Never Pay Ransom policy on the part of law enforcement.) He carefully selects a small team of his most trusted, reliable men, and escorts Exeter when the time comes.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Captive on the Fens (DI Nikki Galena #6), by Joy Ellis (author), Henrietta Meire (narrator)

Tantor Audio, September 2017

DS Jospeh Easter's daughter, Tamsin, is about to marry Niles, a young detective constable with the Greenborough police force. Freddie Carver, a vicious criminal boss formerly based in London and more recently hanging out in Spain, is apparently in Greenborough and planning to stay. Joseph and DI Nikki Galena are determined to  catch him before he becomes a fixture in their district. Two dead young women have turned up, both apparently held prisoner and tortured for some time before being killed and dumped.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

The Lost Carousel of Provence, by Juliet Blackwell

Berkley Publishing Group, ISBN 9780451490636, September 2018

Orphan Cady Drake grew up in Oakland, in foster care and group homes, until, finally, stealing something from an antiques shop, or trying to, throws her into the path of Maxine, the antique store owner. Now Maxine has died, Cady has lost her unborn, accidental baby to a miscarriage, and even finding new photography assignments seems too much.

Her only other friend, Olivia, is unwilling to leave it at that, though. Cady has an antique carousel rabbit Maxine gave her, believed to have been made by French sculptor and carousel maker, Gustave Bayol. Cady is fascinated by its past and by carousels, and suggests she go to France to photograph French carousels for a book on the history of carousels in France. And as it happens, she's already pitched the idea to a publisher her magazine works with. It's approved; Cady just has to agree.

Cady is not initially enthusiastic, in part because she finds coping with people challenging in the best of circumstances, never mind in a foreign country where she knows no one, and her mastery of the language is imperfect. But she has no other plans, and has to do something...

Monday, September 17, 2018

The Mistress of Pennington's, by Rachel Brimble

Aria, July 2018

It's 1910, the women's suffrage movement is in full swing in the UK, and Elizabeth Pennington, daughter of Edward Pennington, owner of the finest shop for men's and women's clothing and accessories in Bath, is determined to succeed her father as the store's head. Unfortunately, Edward Pennington doesn't believe women, including his daughter, are capable of being competent business people. He has grudgingly made her head of the women's department, and she's doing well, but what does that prove?

Joseph Carter is a glove maker in Bath. He and his father run Carter & Son, making and selling gloves and hats for women. Yet the time of the small, independent shop is passing, the elder Carter is approaching an age where he should be retiring, and Joseph has a vision of making his gloves known, admired, and wanted on a much larger scale. Pennington's is, potentially, the key to that.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Bloodlines:Cove Point Manor, by William B. Taylor (author), Bill Nevill (narrator)

William B. Taylor, March 2018

Alex Tinsdill takes a Y-chromosome DNA test, hoping to learn more about his paternal family prior to his great-grandparents. Not long after uploading his results, he's contacted by a New York City lawyer, telling him he is the long-sought heir to a fortune and a large estate on Long Island.

With little to hold him in Toronto, he figures it can't hurt to go to New York and check this out. Having learned the truth about his ancestry--his great-grandparents made creative use of the truth, though what they said certainly wasn't all lies--he goes to Long Island to see his new property. There he meets Maggie, the property manager who has maintained the property for years, having inherited the job from her father and grandfather.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Leverage in Death (In Death #47), by J.D. Robb (author), Susan Eriksen (narrator)

Brilliance Audio, September 2018

Dallas, Roarke, Peabody, and the rest are confronting a nasty pair of killers, smart, capable, but definitely not pros, engaged in a bizarre and deadly form of market manipulation. The very first victim is a man who walks into the meeting where the luxury airline he works for and an economy airline are going to finalize their merger, and blows himself up with a suicide vest, killing eleven other people and injuring more.

He had absolutely no discernible motive to do this. He was heard to say to the president of his company, right before he detonated the bomb, "I'm sorry, I don't have a choice." He had plans for celebrations after the meeting, first with his own staff, and then with his wife and daughter.

The wife and daughter are found, alive but somewhat battered, and bound with zip ties, at home.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

The Coming Storm, by Michael Lewis

Audible Studios, July 2018

The age of Big Data is upon us, and mostly what we hear are the troubling and potentially terrifying consequences of business and government having easy access to all of our data. That's a real problem that we have to devote time and attention to dealing with.

Yet Big Data can do many other things, many of them very beneficial. The misnamed Department of Commerce collects enormous amounts of data about, among other things, the weather. Before the growth of the internet into its modern form, that data mostly sat on paper, and later on tape, and eventually some of it on servers, in the bowels of NOAA--the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, inside the Commerce Dept. Then a grad student with the foresight to see how useful vast stores of data could be went looking for weather data to test out a theory for his research, and stumbled upon a hole in the Commerce Dept. systems that let him download that data and work with it.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Restriction (The Rise of Magic #1), by C.M. Raymond (author), L.E. Barbant (author), Michael Anderle (author), Kate Rudd (narrator)

LMBPN Publishing, July 2017

This is the first book of a trilogy, set in the already  well-developed fictional universe of the Kurtherian Gambit, which is founded on (Arthur C.) Clarke's law, "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."

I haven't read any of the previous Kurtherian Gambit books, so some of what I say that relates to previous events may be imprecise or just wrong.

The invention and escape into the wild of nanotechnology caused major changes in humanity, changes which allowed some people to attain powers not easily distinguishable from magic, some became vampires, ore werewolves, and others to just go completely mad and turn into cannibals. This is called The Age of Madness, and it lasted entirely too long. There was a long-ruling vampire named Michael, and faces with yet another attempt to overthrow him, he recruits Bethany Anne. She becomes, among other things, one of the major mythic figures of the world that will follow her. I think this is when humans start to get real control of the "magic" that is now inside every single human.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Hunter's Revenge (The Edinburgh Crime Mysteries #2), by Val Penny

Crooked Cat Books, September 2018

DI Hunter Wilson, of the Edinburgh police force, iis called to the home of crime scene investigator George Reinbold, who has been murdered. He was shot in the forehead once, and killed instantly, to be found not long after by a young woman delivering a package he'd ordered.

He quickly finds that George had unusually strong security for his home, which is only partly explained by insurance requirements for the valuable collection of first edition children's books his friends and colleagues also didn't know he had. Investigating George's murder is going to mean investigating George, both his present, and his past, in East Germany, which he left when he was eighteen.

Meanwhile, there's also a new supply of high-quality cocaine coming into Scotland from Peru, and the two cases don't remain separate for long. A dealer in high-end cars, now in jail for bank robbery, the drug dealer who used the car dealer's business as a distribution point, and the corrupt former head of the Edinburgh police force and father of  Hunter's second, are all locked up in the same prison.  This proves useful.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Voyage of the Dogs, by Greg Van Eekhout

HarperCollins, September 2018

I'll just say this up front, because I'm one of the people for whom this is important: No dogs die in this book. We do get the story of Laika*, told by one of the dogs to the others so that, at a critical point, they can make an informed choice, but Greg Van Eekhout kills none of his fictional dogs in the course of this story.

Lopside, Bug, Daisy, and their pack leader, Golden retriever Champion, are Barkonauts, dogs specially trained and equipped to be part of the crew of Laika, the first Earth ship to head out to start a colony on an alien world in a distant solar system. There are four human crew as well, and we only meet two of them before one, Roro, helps the dogs into hibernation for the FTL portion of their travels.

When the dogs wake up, the humans are gone, having taken the lifepod, and the ship is badly damaged.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Barnabas Tew and the Case of the Nine Worlds (Barnabas Tew #2), by Columbkill Noonan

Crooked Cat Books, September 2018

Barnabas Tew and Wilfred Colby, having completed their unwanted assignment in the Egyptian Land of the Dead, have been helpfully packed off to the Nine Worlds of Norse mythology, to help Odin out with a  little problem. Loki's bowl, that is, the silver bowl that his wife, Sigyn, uses to catch the venom that a snake is dripping on the face of the bound Loki, has been stolen. Odin wants to know by who, and he wants the bowl back.

Since neither Barnabas nor Wilfred has ever studied Norse mythology they understand even less of what's going on in the Nine Worlds than they did in the Land of the Dead. Since everyone around them is treating all this knowledge as self-evident, it takes them a while to work out that catching the falling venom is essential to prevent, or at least delay, the start of Ragnarok, because with every drop that falls on Loki's face, he struggles mightily to break loose of his bonds. This causes earthquakes, and if he does it long enough, his bonds will eventually break. Then he heads off to seek revenge, and Ragnarok, the end of the world, starts.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Death in the Village (DI Tremayne #6), by Phillip Strang

Phillip Strang, August 2018

DI Tremayne is edging ever closer to accepting the inevitability of retirement, as his body gets creakier, and technology plays an ever-greater role in policing. Tremayne is an old-fashioned police officer, wearing out shoe leather tracking down evidence. Looking for evidence electronically, and filing reports electronically, is alien to him. Yet he wants Detective Sergeant Clare Yarwood to succeed him in his job, so he needs to hold on a bit longer, so she can pass exams and qualify.

He also has no idea what he'll do when he retires, since crime solving is all he cares about.

In the meantime, he and Clare have another murder to solve, this time in the village of Compton. A malicious, self-righteous gossip has been found hanged in  her own barn, and pretty much everyone has some sort of a motive. Most of them--most of the inhabitants of the tiny village--aren't especially likable either.

And, it turns out, even as the bodies accumulate, nobody wants to talk to the police, who aren't part of their incestuous little village.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Just Add Water (Hetta Coffey #1), by Jinx Schwartz (author), Beth Richmond (narrator)

Books in Motion, ISBN 9781605482064, December 2008 (original publication August 2004)

Hetta Coffey is an engineering consultant who, at the beginning of this book, is working for an American consulting company in Japan. Her fiancée, an American whom she met after arriving in Japan, is working at another company.

When he is found to be stealing from the company and using company shipments to smuggle stolen goods, he gets out ahead of being arrested, and along the way cleans out her bank account. The only thing he can't get is the key to a certain locker, that he left in her innocent keeping, which she wears on a chain around her neck.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

The Quiet Side of Passion (Isabel Dalhousie #12), by Alexander McCall Smith (author), Davina Porter (narrator)

Recorded Books, July 2018

Charlie is now attending nursery school, and Isabel and Jamie take turns delivering him and picking him up. Thus it happens that Isabel is there at the gate one day, to meet Charlie's new friend, Basil Phelps, Jr., and his mother, Patricia, a musician whom Jamie occasionally works with.

Patricia seems unusually eager to make friends.

That night, Jamie shares the unexpected information that Basil Phelps, Jr., is rumored to be the unacknowledged son of a prominent organist, Basil Phelps. Jamie has worked with each of them, and they are both well known in the Edinburgh music community.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

A Liaden Universe Constellation, Vol. 1, by Sharon Lee & Steve Miller

Baen Books, December 2013

This is a larger collection of Liaden Universe shorter fiction. Some of the stories here I've read and reviewed in the earlier chapbooks, but some were new to me. Daav is, as a result of his very courtesy to the young daughter of a clan allied with Korval, is backed into a corner where he can't avoid a duel with that clan's heir. He can't avoid it; he can't kill the other clan's heir. He finds his solution in a very clever choice of weapons.

We also get the story, which I've wondered about, of how Ren Zel came to be expelled from his clan.

Friday, August 31, 2018

Weather Girl, by E.J. Swift

Solaris, September 2017 (in Infinity Wars: Infinity Project #6)

Lia has a high-stress, classified job, where they call her "the weather girl."

She's not forecasting storms. She's deciding what to do with the information about them--make it public, conceal it for a bit, or conceal it for as long as possible. There are hackers to ensure that if she decides it should be kept secret, other countries' satellites and systems don't pick up the information, and don't figure out that their systems are being hacked.

In a world where reduced carbon emissions came too late to stop global warming, control of weather information is a weapon. It's national security.

It's making sure your enemies get hit without warning, and that you don't.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Certain Symmetry (Adventures in the Liaden Universe #4), by Sharon Lee & Steve Miller

Smashwords, May 2011 (original publication 2000)

There are two more Liaden universe stories here. One advances the tale of Moonhawk and Lute, with a visit to an old friend of Lute's--whose husband has died, and who has shut up their inn out of her grief. She's determined to do nothing that would risk forgetting her husband, Rowan, by moving on in life.

Can Lute and Moonhawk help, in a way that she can accept?

The other story is of Pat Rin yos'Phelium, a few days after A Day at the Races, receiving a very welcome gift--and another package, the Balance book of a a friend who has killed himself. Several of the outstanding Balances are easy to resolve, but the last is different, and very tricky for Pat Rin to find a resolution for.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Lost Library (Lost Library #1), by Kate Baray (author), Kelsey Osborne (narrator)

Catherine G. Cobb, July 2015

There's a lot to like about this book.

Lizzie Smith and John Braxton are likable, interesting characters. The Lycan don't act out a stereotypical and scientifically disproven version of wolf dominance. The story is exciting, and keeps moving. The way magic works is interesting, and even the bad guys are somewhat interesting.

But.

You knew there was a "but" coming, right?

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Second Chance at Two Love Lane (Two Love Lane #3), by Kieran Kramer

St. Martin's Press, ISBN 9781250111081, August 2018

Ella Mancini is one of the three partners in the matchmaking agency Two Love Lane in Charleston, South Carolina, but once upon at time, she was a young actress in New York City, just starting out. But she was in love with Hank Rogers, and turned down what could have been her big break, in order to stay with him.

Then he got his big break, took it, and left.

He's now a big star, and Ella's acting is in local community theater. Ella is happy, successful in her new field, and respected in her community, but at some level she's never gotten over Hank.

Now Hank is coming to Charleston to shoot a movie, co-starring with Samantha Davis, an actor they both admired even ten years ago, when they were still together.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Duty Bound (Adventures in the Liaden Universe #3), by Sharon Lee & Steve Miller

Smashwords, May 2011 (original publication March 2001)

Again, two stories.

Pilot of Korval has the young Er Thom yos'Galan and Daav yos'Phelium, raised together, separated for the first time, as they each train as pilots and for their adult careers, Daav as a Scout, and Er Thom as a future ship's captain and Master Trader. For Er Thom, it leads to a test of both his commitment to his crewmates, and his judgment in pursuit of that. It's also a tricky test of his self-control, discipline, and relationship with his birth mother.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Two Tales of Korval (Adventures in the Liaden Universe #1), by Sharon Lee & Steve Miller

Sharon Lee & Steve Miller, April 2011 (original publication 1995)

Two stories of Val Con yos'Phelium as a young man.

I've often wondered how Val Con and the Turtle, Edger, met, and Val Con got adopted into Edger's family. In To Cut an Edge, we find out. It's on one of Val Con's final training missions as a Scout, and it's quite exciting. It's fair to say that Val Con and Edger have some similar challenges with the more hidebound members of their clans and cultures!

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Fellow Travelers (Adventures in the Liaden Universe #2), by Sharon Lee & Steve Miller

Sharon Lee & Steve Miller, April 2011

This is a collection of three short stories about Moonhawk, a priestess of the Goddess, who in the time contemporary to Val Con yos'Phelium is also Priscialla Delacroiz y Mendoza, and her lover, the magician Lute.

We see the first meeting and adventure of Moonhawk and Lute, and a later episode in which they search for a woman's missing daughter. And finally, we see the events that lead to Priscilla/Moonhawk, centuries later than the earlier stories, to leave the temple, her culture, and the planet.

Friday, August 24, 2018

A Cold Winter's Love (Love on the Trails #5), by Natalie Dean

Kenzo Publishing, August 2018

The wagon train is coming closer to the end of the trail, and this includes a stop in Boise, where they hope to leave killers and thieves they've been unhappily carrying with them since events in earlier books. Deputy Marshall Scott Mercer and Lilian Thomas, daughter of the printers, and scouts Bryon Clearwater and Rachel MacIntosh, are engaged in armslength courtships, deeply attracted but painfully aware that they have different expectations of life.

Or do they?

Yes, the MacIntosch clan wants to breed horses, but does Rachel want such a settled life?

This is in many ways the hardest part of the trail, with the Snake River to be crossed, and the mountains, with winter setting in and storms pursuing them.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Stalker on the Fens (DI Nikki Galena #5), by Joy Ellis (author), Henrietta Meire (narrator)

Tantor Audio, August 2017

DI Nikki Galena's friend, Helen Brooks, thinks she's being followed.

Helen was badly hurt in a building collapse a year ago, including some brain damage, and she's got some odd memories that don't seem supported by evidence. For instance, she thinks there was a man also in that collapsed basement with her, on the other side of a wall, who talked to her for a while before Nikki and Sergeant Joseph Easter, by chance the two officers closest to the scene, arrived. Yet no one else was in the building, nor was any evidence found that there had been.

So is she really being followed? Or is she still feeling the effects of the trauma and brain damage?

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

The Oracle, by Dominica Phetteplace

Solaris, September 2017 (in Infinity Wars: Infinity Project #6)

Rita is just trying to live her best life. She wants to have fun, be admired for having the best clothes, and achieve world peace. Somewhat reluctantly, she concludes that if the had to choose among the three, she'd have to choose world peace.

What she's really doing, though, is making money selling stuff via apps she writes, and also, via the whiskey-selling app, scraping all their data from their phones and selling that, too. She's got the fun and the great clothes and lots of followers on Instagram, but her Nobel Peace Prize app just isn't producing results for her.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

The Last Broadcasts, by An Owomoyela

Solaris, September 2017 (in Infinity Wars:Infinity Project #6)

Daja, a native of Colossus in the Sato system, is reassigned to Sato Station for a special assignment. It's a surprise to her that, having spent her career working on entertainment projects, she's now going to be working on classified transmissions from Caribou system.

But it's still going to use her entertainment skills and experience.

Caribou is under alien attack, and has been for years. There's no way for Sol and the other systems to get help to Caribou in time, because of the distances. At the same time, though, that means the other systems are not at any immediate risk. There's time to prepare, to build the defenses they'll need.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness, by Peter Godfrey-Smith (author), Peter Noble (narrator)

Macmillan Audio, March 2017 (original publication December 2016)

We generally consider mammals and birds to be the smartest creatures on Earth. It's not unreasonable; that includes us and crows.

But an entirely different branch of life on this planet also shows surprising intelligence--the cephalopods, including octopuses, cuttlefish, and squid. Their line and ours (that is, the vertebrates) separated hundreds of million years ago. Even our eyes and theirs evolved separately. Most of them live less than five years. They don't appear to be very social.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Russell Wiley is Out to Lunch, by Richard Hine (author), Aaron Abano (narrator)

Brilliance Audio, ISBN 9781469242811, December 2012 (original publication October 2010)

Russell Wiley spends his work life selling ad space in the Daily Business Chronicle, which is a print-only daily business newspaper with declining circulation. There are clear disadvantages to this, but it's not made easier by his boss, Henry, who is determined to make no useful changes, the hotshot new consultant who is trying to turn this short-term gig into a permanent job, the poor hiring choice Russell made a few month ago who is dead weight for his department but whom his boss thinks is Da Bomb...

Oh, and his marriage is falling apart, too.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Light of the Stars: Alien Worlds and the Fate of the Earth, by Adam Frank

W.W. Norton & Company, June 2018

What practical use is research into possible extraterrestrial live and civilizations?

We need a new frame to think about our own planet and our relationship. It's just false to all the evidence that we don't affect the habitability of Earth. It's unhelpful, providing no useful path forward, to think of ourselves as a completely malign, destructive force.

We need a new story to tell ourselves, that correctly places us as an active force on Earth, currently doing a lot of damage out of our ignorance until now, but able to change direction and, through use of our growing knowledge, able to make different, more useful decisions.