Review: The Longmire Mystery Series

Do you like mysteries? Do you like westerns? Do you like contemporary western/cultural mysteries? You will like this series then.

While these short novels are not academic by any means, and are very simple reading, they are exciting if you like the midwest landscape imagery, the theme of mystery and all its tenets, and the cultural conflicts/comradery between wyoming white folk and the Cheyenne. This is the kind of reading to enjoy after a long day’s work, after dinner, without television blaring, with a fire on, (or not) and seated in a comfy chair with a cup of coffee, some tea, or whatever you enjoy drinking before bedtime. You will enjoy these books, I know I do.

There are 10 so far, that I know of, and I am sure he’s working on more, since it has become a hit series on television; first on A&E for four seasons, then on Netflix, the company working on the next series.

The novels thread through with the same protagonist, who is a Wyoming lawman, the best friend of a Cheyenne bartender/restauranteur, and the father of a daughter attorney. He has a Phillie deputy who is female, and (as far as I’m concerned) mouthy and a bit obnoxtious, with two other deputies: (on the show the name is different): Ferguson, and “Branch” and there is plenty of mysterious murders going on in the Absaroka County, which the protagonist, Sheriff Walt Longmire, reminds the readers (and Netflix goers) is HIS county, and he aims to keep it clean.

It’s exciting to watch how author Craig Johnson has characters interact with each other; father to daughter, lawman sheriff to deputies, white man to native man as childhood best friends, and a host of characters in each book that graces the county with such different perspectives on life, death, murder, mayhem, fair play and crime.

Each book is naturally carried through with the backdrop of a particular crime (usually murder), but while it is being solved (the mysery part), the characters are lively and interactive, always showing such human and realistic sides of people we can all identify with.

The first of the series is “The Cold Dish,” take it from there, you will have a lot to enjoy, and besides, you get to watch it on television/Netflix too–what a deal!

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Review: Ceremony

by Leslie Marmon Silko


ISBN-13: 9780140086836
Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
Publication date: 3/28/1986
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 272

While “Ceremony” is not a new book, it is a classic Native American book, with lots to teach us about the concept of coming home, and ceremonious ideology. Leslie Marmon Silko is Native American. She has written a book that still to this day, has me baffled as to the brutality with which some people live, and how that brutality perpetuates throughout the years to others.

Okay, what is it about? You HAVE to read it thoroughly, without blinders, and without racial prejudice, and without your quaint little life, if that is what you have, and open yourself up to a host of experiences you never want, things that hurt and maim, and wound the soul. Then, and only then, you will understand what is meant by “Ceremony.”


Many may feel this book is disturbing, I know my son did. Nevertheless, I cannot help but love the way Silko creates such intense psychological consciousness in her characters. Imagine the heart spilt work that goes into such narration from the mind of a creative master fo character and plot. The book was a great one for me. I felt I understood like never before the real plight and sense of loss of the Native American who tries desperately to “fit” into the contemporary and dominant culture, especially when they have gone to war and found that they must fight an enemy that looks much like them, but they must align themselves to an “ally” who has historically been abusive to their own lives and the lives of their families before them, in the taking, ravaging, pillaging, and destroying of their own identities and family members. So identity is a biggie in this book.

These Native American soldiers of WWII fought the Japanese, but can never really feel they belong to the White Americans to whose nation they DO–even more so–belong. For all intents and purposes, they are a “mixed breed.” While America is filled with mixed races now, at the time, and still for many, it is a sore subject, because a mixed breed never feels quite like they belong to either side; never any one group fully. I know, I experience that myself, being a mixed breed person.

I can identify with those feelings, and understand the sense of loss in spirit and identity: it happened to the First Indians, the Aztecs, MY ancestors. But I am far enough removed, by about four to five generations, to not feel the wound as deeply. This was where I first heard the idea of the “hollow” man, even though I had read T.S. Eliot’s poem, “The Hollow Men.” I thought it was a European make only. Now I know it is a universal wound of the soul, and to many (like thee characters) a mortal blow. Now, the image of a “hollow man” from within, from these two encounters with it, I am familiar and understand the term and the value of its tremendous effect on humanity.

In Silko’s book, “Ceremony” and in T.S. Eliot’s poem, “The Hollow Men” both authors are speaking of an emptiness inside by having been robbed of spirit.  But reading “Ceremony” gives such a deeper rendition of what it means to be hollow, as Tayo, the main character, learns in the plight of his coming home and resuming life; he sees everything and we see it all through his eyes as he learns first hand how the wound affects his ability to thrive in well-being.

I will never forget the plight of this young man, and I can never truly forget the plight of any race who suffers at the hand of another race, for money and power, at the cost of the original people’s’ peace and fullness of life. I understand the settlers in America did it (they say) for Christian ethics, but I do not think that is true. Those who abused these people, calling them savages or animals, were devoid of the true Christianity. They were instilled with fear and hatred for anyone and anything that did not look like them. For their period of abuse to the Natives of this land, those Natives suffer long after. Such an eye-opening read.

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Review: “Normal for Norfolk”

by Mitzi Szereto

Bookcover

Normal for Norfolk

Copyright 2012, by Mitzi Szereto

Published by Thelonius T. Bear Books

 

Normal for Norfolk is anything but normal, with its unflinching realism in a quiet setting marred by murder and mayhem, and coupled with an unusual protagonist—a miniscule BEAR with its name implying a colossal creature who may save the day—the first sign of irony.

Author Mitzi Szereto and her cohort and co-author, Thelonius T. Bear, wrote a marvelous story of fiction–fantasy, really; who has ever known a bear to be able to live in human character and be a detective no less!

Infused with characters possessing limited cleverness, the narrative persona gives us an in-depth account of each character’s thoughts and behaviors, moving the plot forward. The style is satire like Kurt Vonnegut or John Kennedy Toole, albeit both American writers, and while the novel is undeniably English, the framework of a general mystery genre is used while suffusing it with elements of the burlesque within an idyllic landscape, creating a consistent tension familiar with British comedy.

Everything was great for me, although I would have rather a man than the bear—sorry Thelonius. If it had been a little man, I might have had more interest in the story. On the other hand, the bear on assignment as a photojournalist was funny in a dry sort of way—imagine: the irony of a wild animal bound by traditional human parameters, contained in human qualities. His having been assigned to the project of a photo book, the little urbine creature had a propensity toward overeating and drinking one too many ales at the local pubs. It turns out he finds himself in the middle of a murder investigation and being harassed by an annoying police chief of limited mental capacity who rests his entire case on Thelonius, this tiny little bear who would not even be able to lift a body, let alone three, finals the act and discovers the murder.

The bear character did create a sort of tension with the human characters, since it was the only character walking about through each town— apparently oblivious to the wild schemes of the villagers—which we might expect of animals more than human beings.  So there are all sorts of idiots with lethal intent, and a lonely, overweight and amazonian B & B Inn keeper that we presume has an interest in….the bear? Ironic indeed!

A British mystery with brassy lingo and unwitting characters, plenty of expletives, vaudeville action and complications, the reckless brothers, the dreary constable, the traveling foreigners, and the townspeople will all entertain you. This is one of my recommendations. It’s quick, it’s easy, and it’s constructed by an excellent writing team.

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Review: “Black Sun,”

by Frank Fiore

Black Sun

First Rate Conspiracy Plot

by Frank Fiore

Frank Fiore,  Author of Cyber Kill, has proven once again that he is endowed with exceptional talent, from the arrival of his new release Black Sun.

Nothing short of exciting can describe this plot, which instills National Treasure or The Da Vinci Code, and you know what powerful leading men those two movies attracted. Here comes Jeremy Nash. This book is even better than the last,  with its fast-paced plot, adventure, brutal murders, old world retaliation, evil conspiracies, deceptions and international intrigue.

 Jeremy Nash, the protagonist of Black Sun, is an exciting accidental hero, one who is unassuming but when called to stand, the commander of resolve. This is the quintessential accidental hero archetype that we all imagine ourselves to become in the midst of danger and intrigue. He just does the right thing: helps people under duress—it’s his lack of suspicion that gets him into trouble.

Jeremy Nash—even the name is casual and cynical—IS casual and cynical. But Nash quickly discovers life is not as simple as he thought. Why would anyone want to murder an old man who made no sense anyway? So he is drawn in. At each juncture he begins to question his place in the game and finds himself more and more important in its complications. Although he never intends to be, he becomes subject to a frame-up, and finds himself at the center of an international retaliation of historical height.

Start with disgruntled WWII criminal minded people who used to call themselves Nazis. Nash has a goal to dispel conspiracy theories, for he is a renowned expert in his field. As a pragmatic scientist he loathes those who conjure conspiracy theories and questions everything, so he proceeds to question the question-er. Ironically, he becomes the one to be questioned for he is being held for the murder of the man he called a cook to begin with. To make things complicated he ends up running with the daughter of the dead scientist who was murdered for the very reason of his knowing too much. Nash faces a rather unique situation because the doctor he called annoying and completely mad who claimed he had secrets, may have been on to a monumental conspiracy. Drop in also those who claim God is in the machine and who want to bring on Armageddon and it is far more complicated than anyone surmised.

You must NOT put this book down for any lull in time or distraction in mundane life, for it will set you back to revisit the structural intent. Why? Because there are little nuances that describe various states, characters, and intentions, that only an astute reader will be able to pick up. In all its maneuverings, it is still a fast-paced read.

What I like most in Fiore’s style is how he moves his narrative from one setting and tone to another in successive rapidity. Dates, times and locations are running rapidly as the characters are moving, so that I feel I am moving right along side them.

Pick the book up at your nearest bookstore, and enjoy it on a comfortable evening chair with a bold black cup of coffee–you’ll need it. You’ll never be a happy camper again, but a suspicious citizen who cheers for the accidental hero, which may someday be you.

L. Nolan, Reviewer |  Founder | Creator

International Books Cafe 

http://www.ibcafe.net

For Reviews Contact: socalnovelist@gmail.com

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Review: “Noah’s Wife”

by T. K. Thorne

noahs-wife-cover

Noah’s Wife: 5500 BCE
ISBN: 978-0-9840836-4-0
Author T. K. Thorne
(October 2, 2009)
Chalet Publishers, LLC
$[…], 344 pages

Author T. K. Thorne has created an astounding fictional piece about a Biblical character named Na’amah, the wife of the Biblical and historical figure, Noah. I say astounding because it is written as though the author steps into the mind of Noah’s wife and tells us what it is to be his wife and to be autistic. She has truly created a character from the vestiges of true history. 

Na’amah has been essentially unknown to the western world. Written in first person, Na’amah is a very young girl when she meets Noah, but is noticed because of her special personality. And this is what is revealed to us throughout the book: her special persona. Yet with so believable a story we could actually entertain the idea that it could possibly be true of such a woman. Na’amah is so intricately fashioned, and with such deep thought and sensitivity, that she is fixed in my mind possibly forever.

While this novel does not claim to be a historical novel but only uses elements of history to create a possible mindset, Thorne has researched enough on the period in history, and the Biblical world and its culture, that she has masterfully created a unique variation on it. In fact, most effectively the characters, geography, period and plot have all been interwoven in such a way that one is unable to let go of the probability of such a story. The characters will live in the reader long after the novel has finished being read.


Audiences from Feminist, Biblical, legal, cultural, and spiritual groups, and from various perspectives and various levels of scholarly analyses will be drawn to this book of epic proportion. I love this story. It was not a page turner for me; otherwise one would miss the subtle nuances embedded in this first-person narrative. I stopped, digested and contemplated deeper meanings throughout the entire book. Tropes and themes abound throughout this wonderfully told story integrating romance, drama, history, culture, and adventure. There is so much here to fathom, you will not be disappointed. Some reviewers choose to focus on the physical storyline itself, but I think it is important for readers to know what the novel has to offer in the way of meaning and purpose, with spiritual, intellectual and inspirational elements. It is a MUST READ.

Everyone has heard of the Biblical story of Noah. But never told like this, and never from the perspective of his wife. Author T.K. Thorne has proven that she is exceptionally gifted in her sensitivity to life, love and loss, and in successfully applying what she knows today from those universal themes to fictional characters, which we come to genuinely love and of whom we wish to learn more.

Reviewed by: L. Nolan-Ruiz, Editor
International Book Cafe

http://www.ibcafe.net

email me: socalnovelist@gmail.com

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