Read Recently — March 2016 — And the Rest

Property of a Lady Faire: a Secret Histories novel by Simon R. Green

Eddie Drood and Molly Metcalf finally head back to the Department of Uncanny, something they set out to do I think two books ago. They have lots of questions for the Regent of Shadows, the head of the Department and also Eddie’s grandfather. Questions like, why did he kill Molly’s parents? Who ordered him to do it? Unfortunately, they won’t be getting those answers: the Regent, along with everyone else in the department, has been bloodily killed. This should have been impossible for the Regent, at least, because he had an amulet that rendered him invulnerable, but someone has ripped it out of his chest. The only people they can’t find any trace of are Eddie’s parents. Then a mysterious voice informs them that it (or rather, the person behind it) is responsible for the massacre, which was to find the mysterious Lazarus Stone, which can supposedly bring back the dead. It has Eddie’s parents, and the only way he can get them back is to bring it the Stone.

Of course, Eddie and Molly are accused of the murders, and between that and the voice warning them not to contact the Droods they are cut off from openly drawing on the family’s resources. It turns out, though that the stone is in the possession of the Lady Faire, one of Victor Frankenstein’s later creations, now a kind of supernatural concubine (the Lady Faire is neither male nor female, but according to The Armourer partakes of both natures. Howver, throughout the story a female pronoun is used, so I’m not really sure why that element is even ever mentioned). Unfortunately, getting in contact with the Lady Faire isn’t easy; unless you’re a former lover she doesn’t exactly keep in touch, and as she’s semi-retired the Droods haven’t been keeping close tabs on her. However, she throws an annual party and has just sent out the invitations. If Eddie and Molly can find out where the party is being held, infiltrating it shouldn’t be too hard . . . assuming the Droods don’t take them down first, and the mysterious voice doesn’t double-cross them . . .

So, yeah, typical Green in a lot of ways. Fun read, mildly recommended.

Skybreaker by Kenneth Oppel

A re-read. Originally written up here. Still recommended.

The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith

Basically, this is a cozy detective novel set in Botswana. Mma (a title similar to Ms. or Mrs) Precious Ramotswe takes the money her father leaves her in his will and creates the titular detective agency. She gets to track down missing husbands, lost cars, disobedient daughters, etc, and sometimes has to find creative ways of dealing with what she learns (especially when what she has to report is not even close to what the client wants to hear).

Mma Ramotswe is an intelligent, likeable character, and she is surrounded by the kind of likeably quirky people that can give a series like this its legs (and this is, make no mistake, book one of a series). It’s a comfortable read, with little stress or tension and few trigger warnings (child endangerment, domestic abuse — but both are dealt with quickly and positively), and it’s nice to have a story starring a woman of colour in Africa.

On the other hand, there’s little stress or tension, and the woman of colour in Africa is being written by a white man living in England (but he was born and educated in Botswana). Overall, I enjoyed this a bit but can only mildly recommend it.

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