Title: Daughter of the Sun
Series: Cult of the Cat Series, Book 1
Author: Zoe Kalo
Genre: YA Contemporary Fantasy / Paranormal
Word Count: 93,000 words
No. of Pages: 330
Storyteller at heart…
A certified bookworm and ailurophile, Zoe Kalo has always been obsessed with books and reading. The pleasure of writing and sharing her fantasy worlds has remained. Today, Zoe passes her stories to you with lots of mystery, adventure, a hint of romance, and the delicious sweep of magic.
Currently, she balances writing with spending time with her family, taking care of her clowder of cats, and searching for the perfect bottle of pinot noir.
The first interview with a witness.
Or, as Breen had put it, ‘Initially a witness, anyway.’
‘Meaning?’ Dan asked, as they walked down the stairs from the MIR.
‘It’s remarkable how quickly a witness can become a suspect in this business.’
All it needed was a musical sting to emphasise the drama of the detective’s words. Dan was beginning to suspect his new colleague was a frustrated actor. He certainly enjoyed a little theatre.
Dan deposited the thought safely in his mental bank. It might just be useful.
Carter Ross, I. M. Fletcher, Annie Seymour, and Jack McEvoy are my favorite reporters who happen to find themselves in the middle of criminal investigations (“find themselves” is typically code for throw themselves into, slip past the all the blockades surrounding, etc.) — I think Dan Groves has added himself to the list. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Dan Groves is a TV Reporter for Wessex Tonight, covering environmental news. With the Christmas holiday rapidly approaching, he’s forced to help cover the latest in a string of attacks on prostitutes. He and his cameraman/friend Nigel are found taking a less-than by-the-book approach to getting a colleague of the latest victim on camera (really, Nigel didn’t do anything — but he didn’t stop Dan, either). The story they aired was good, but their tactics were reported — between his editor’s need, his skill, and his editor’s fresh material for leverage — Dan’s taken off the Environment beat and made the program’s new crime reporter.
The problem is, he knows nothing about reporting on Crimes. And demonstrates it with a facepalm-worthy performance at his first crime scene (a murder, of course) after getting this assignment. So he pitches this idea to his editor, who in turn runs it by the local police. The police haven’t been looking good to the (and in the) press lately, Dan needs a crash course in detective work — so why doesn’t he shadow the investigation, giving the police some good coverage and PR while he learns on the job from the best around. DCI Breen — and (the underused) DS Suzanne Stewart — aren’t crazy about this idea, but they aren’t really in a position to argue with the brass, so they bring him on. Tolerating his presence largely at the beginning, but gradually finding ways to use him.
This is one of those cases that the police would probably be okay with not solving — at least most of the police. Edward Bray was in Real Estate — he owned many buildings, treated his tenants horribly and evicted them when he could find a way to make more money off of the land/building. He was heartless, notorious, and had an enemies list worthy of a, well, an unscrupulous land-owner. Yet, he also gave generously to a local hospice — so generously that many people had a reflexive notion to commend him while they suffered cognitive dissonance between his perceived nature as a shark, and his obvious and selfless good work with the hospice center. The list of suspects is long — former tenants, an employee, competitors he profited from and ruined, his own father — and the head of the hospice center who chafed under his authoritative hand.
So there’s the setup — a pretty good hook, I have to say. It’s an interesting pairing — Castle-ish, but not as goofy. I could totally buy this without suspending a whole lot of disbelief. The reactions of the other police officers help ground this. So who are the investigators?
First is Dan Groves — he seems to be a decent reporter, we’re told repeatedly that he has a history of looking out for the little guy in his news stories. He’s into the outdoors, hiking and whatnot. He’s very single and has been for some time — there’s a hint of something significant in his past that put him there, but we don’t get into that in this book. I’ve never read about a reporter not wanting the crime beat — it’s the most interesting, right? I just didn’t get his rationale for quite a while. But by the time we’ve heard about a few of his past stories, I guess I could see it (and have to admit that Environmental News sounds pretty dull, but wouldn’t have to be in the right hands). Lastly, Dan has a German Shepherd named Rutherford, who seems like a great dog. This speaks volumes for him.
DCI Adam Breen is your typical driven detective — stern, unbending (at first, anyway), not that crazy about the unusual staffing on his inquiry. He has a flair for the dramatic (as noted above — but it’s worse), seems to spend more time and money on clothing than most (somewhere, Jerry Edgar is fist pumping the idea that he’s not alone). We eventually get to know a little about him outside the job — and it seems to go well with the character we’ve met. He seems like the kind of detective most police departments could use more of. Breen will warm to Groves (and vice versa) and will find ways to use his strengths, as Groves finds ways to flex them.
DS Suzanne Stewart, on the other hand, is little more than a name and a presence. Hall needs to find a way to use her character in the future or drop her. This character is the biggest problem with the book. Not an insurmountable one, or one that greatly detracts from the book, but still. I get that Hall’s priority was establishing the relationship between Groves and Breen — and he nailed that. But he could’ve given us more of Stewart along the way. We could also use a little more development with Nigel and Dan’s editor, Lizzie — but I honestly didn’t notice how underused they were. Stewart stuck out to me.
Hall does a really good job of balancing the murder inquiry and dealing with the characters outside of the case — Breen off-duty, Dan’s blossoming personal life, another story or two that Dan works on. The suspects are well-developed and interesting — and there are times that you could totally buy all of them (well, maybe all but one) as the actual perpetrator. That’s really hard to pull off, many writers will start off with a long list of suspects and really only have one or two that you can believe being the killer after one conversation. They all have similar but individualized reasons to want Bray dead. Most of them also have strong alibis, because you don’t want this to be easy. The solution to the case is clever — and better yet, the way that Groves and Breen have to work together to get the solution proven is well executed.
Hall’s writing is confident and well-paced. He knows how to use characters and plot to strengthen each other. There are occasional turns of phrase that will really make the day of readers. I have a lot of “oh, that’s nice” notes throughout the book. This is a solid start to a series — the kind that makes me want to read more. I’m looking forward to finding out a little more about Dan’s history as well as seeing the relationship between he and DCI Breen grow and change (and be challenged, I assume). Good stuff.
So today we’re pleased to be welcoming a Blog Tour Stop for The TV Detective by Simon Hall to our lil’ patch of cyberspace — this spotlight post and my post about what I thought about the book here in a bit. At the end of this post, there’s a giveaway, too. But let’s start by learning a little about this here book, shall we?
Dan Groves is a television reporter newly assigned to the crime beat and not at all happy about it.
Dan knows next nothing about police work or how to report on it so when he persuades Detective Chief Inspector Adam Breen to allow him to shadow a high-profile murder inquiry it seems like the perfect solution though it soon becomes clear some members of the police force have no intention of playing nice with the new boy.
With his first case Dan is dropped in at the deep-end. A man is killed in a lay-by with a blast through the heart from a shotgun. The victim is a notorious local businessman, Edward Bray, a man with so many enemies there are almost too many suspects for the police to eliminate.
As tensions rise between Dan and the police he comes close to being thrown off the case until the detectives realize that far from being a liability, Dan might actually be the key to tempting the murderer into a trap.
The TV Detective is the first book in a classic crime series from Simon Hall, who until recently was the BBC Crime Correspondent for the Devon and Cornwall area.
About Simon Hall:
He has been a broadcaster for twenty five years, mostly as a BBC Television and Radio News Correspondent, covering some of the biggest stories Britain has seen.
His books – the tvdetective series – are about a television reporter who covers crimes and gets so involved in the cases he helps the police to solve them. Seven have been published.
Simon has also contributed articles and short stories to a range of newspapers and magazines, written plays, and even a pantomime.
Alongside his novels and stories, Simon is a tutor in media skills and creative writing, teaching at popular Writers’ Summer Schools such as Swanwick and Winchester, on cruise ships and overseas.
Simon has also become sought after as a speaker, appearing at a variety of prestigious literary festivals. His talks combine an insight into his writing work, along with some extraordinary anecdotes from the life of a television reporter, including the now notorious story of What to do when you really need a dead otter.
Now 49 years old, he began a broadcasting career as a DJ on the radio and in nightclubs, then moved into radio and TV news. He worked in Europe, London, Ireland, and the south west of England, before settling in Cambridge.
Simon is married to Jess, Director of Libraries at the University of Cambridge, and has an adopted daughter, Niamh. She’s an army officer, which makes her father both very proud and very nervous.
Simon lectures on careers in the media at Cambridge University, and in schools and colleges. Amongst his proudest achievements, he includes the number of young people he has helped into jobs in broadcasting, and aspiring writers into publication.
As for his likes, Simon lists beer – he judges at real ale festivals – cycling the countryside, solving cryptic crosswords, composing curious Tweets (find him @SimonHallNews) and studying pop lyrics.
For more on Simon, see his website – www.thetvdetective.com
Simon’s Social Media:
At the last moment, I decided to add a (and man, I hope this is okay to do…) Giveaway for this book. I’m not that creative, and I don’t want to bother with setting up a Rafflecopter or anything, so we’ll keep this simple. In the next 48 hours (check the post for the time — Mountain Daylight Saving Time zone), leave a comment on this post — include the name of your favorite fictional reporter (preferably one that shows up in Crime Fiction), and make sure I can get in touch with you somehow. I’ll draw two names for an electronic copy of this book from Fahrenheit Press (format of your choosing).
My thanks to damppebbles blog tours for the invitation to participate in this tour and the materials they provided.
by The Babylon Bee
eARC, 208 pg.
Read: May 13, 2018
I’m pretty sure my introduction to the concept of satire came from the works of “Jovial” Bob Stine (this was before he discovered you could make a bazillion dollars selling horror books to kids) — The Sick Of Being Sick Book, The Cool Kids’ Guide to Summer Camp, Don’t Stand in the Soup, and How to be Funny. I hadn’t thought of him for years. Until I read How to Be a Perfect Christian, that is.
I’m not trying to suggest that this book is the equivalent of satirical children’s books from the early 80’s and late 70’s. But it’s exactly what someone who grew up reading that kind of thing should read. Also, I’m glad I got to spend a few moments remembering Jovial Bob Stine, and I wonder if I still have those books somewhere (and how un-funny would my own kids think they are).
If you’ve ever read anything from The Babylon Bee, you know what to expect from these guys. If you haven’t — you either should, or maybe this isn’t the book for you.
Styling itself as a guide to sanctification — there’s even a handy ruler at the end of each chapter helping the reader to note their progress — How to Be a Perfect Christian is a hands-on guide to making progress in Cultural Evangelicalism. There’s a chapter on picking the right Church (what can they do for me?), what things to volunteer for at church (minimum of work, maximum of exposure/attention), how to use social media (if your Quiet Time doesn’t result in an Instagram post, was there a point?). There’s a wide variety in the types of jokes here: there are dumb and obvious jokes, some subtle, some clever — all pointed. Which is the idea, they’re pointed so they can deflate contemporary American Evangelicalism — its cultural (sociopolitical/cultural) manifestations, anyway.
Yes, sometimes the prose contradicts itself — because the target or punchline on page 70 is different than the target or punchline on page 47. But that’s okay for two reasons — 1. the jokes land on both pages 70 and 47 (these numbers are made up, by the way), and 2. this books isn’t really trying to make a coherent, consistent argument. At least not for the first 98%, anyway. But the jokes are funny — not all of them laugh out loud funny, but they’ll elicit a chuckle or a grin. Some might just leave you with a general sense of amusement. Most will find a way to strike home (and there are a few duds — but everyone will have their own list of duds, I don’t think there’s one in the book that everyone will dislike).
More importantly, everyone will find themselves at the receiving end of the serrated edge of the satire more often than they’d like. But not in a guilt-inducing way, but in a — “hmm, I should probably work on that” kind of way. Which, I trust, is the point.
The last two percent (for those clever enough to do the math) that I pointed at earlier? Yeah, that’s what the whole book driving toward — the lampooning is for fun but there is an overall point under-girding everything. A point, that’s both well earned, and very needed, by cultural Christians, sincere and thoroughgoing Christians, and a waiting world.
Solid satire — laughs with an edge — directed toward a deserving target. The conclusion was equally on-point and earned. I honestly expected less from this book — yes, I knew there’s be good laughs along the way and that the necessary sacred cows would be shot at — I just wasn’t sure if The Babylon Bee could pull off a piece this long, and count the whole thing as a pleasant surprise.
Disclaimer: I received this eARC from WaterBrook & Multnomah via NetGalley in exchange for this post — thanks to both for this.
Odds ‘n ends over the week about books and reading that caught my eye. You’ve probably seen some/most/all of them, but just in case:
- Anne Frank’s ‘dirty’ jokes found on diary pages she covered over — When I first saw this headline, I figured it was from The Onion or McSweeney’s, but no. This is an actual thing.
- Why a Daily Habit of Reading Books Should be Your Priority, According to Science — We’ve seen all this before, but what member of the choir doesn’t like being preached to?
- I wanted to write something about the death of Tom Wolfe, he had such a huge impact on me, starting in junior high and continuing until…well, now. But I just didn’t have the time, also, I just didn’t know what to say rather. Thankfully, these people did:
- Tom Wolfe, ‘New Journalist’ Turned Literary Icon, Dies at 88 — from Publisher’s Weekly.
- Tom Wolfe, 88, ‘New Journalist’ With Electric Style and Acid Pen, Dies — The New York Times
- Tom Wolfe, ‘Right Stuff’ Author and New Journalism Legend, Dead at 88 — Rolling Stone
- Tom Wolfe: The writer who dissected and deconstructed America’s absurdities — Andy Martin writing for the Independent
- How and Why I Became a Book Blogger
- The Best Gifts for Bookworms (That Aren’t Books)
- Unpopular Bookish Opinions — there’s some merit to some of these. And the others . . . wellllll…
- A couple of different takes on this odd topic:
- This Week’s New Release that I’m Excited About and/or You’ll Probably See Here Soon:
- How It Happened by Michael Koryta — Just reading the pitch for this — and knowing what Koryta can do with suspense — makes me think about doubling up on the blood pressure medication the day I start this.
by Malka Ann Older
Series: Born to the Blade, #1.5Kindle Edition, 25 pg.
Serial Box, 2018
Read: May 17, 2018
After all the excitement last week, we get a little bit of a breather here as we see some of the fallout from what happened in Kris’ trials. Michiko has to answer to Lavinia for the way things went against Kris and she finally updates her ancestors on the same events. Not for the first time, I wondered if the advice and counsel she’s able to draw upon from her ancestors is really more of a curse and burden than a gift and help. Still, between her own self-doubt and the scrutiny of just about every authority figure in her life, Michikio seems to be reconsidering things and maybe making some positive steps. I have high hopes for her as a character.
While Michiko is under the microscope, Kris is could maybe use a little scrutiny. Between becoming a Warder and completing is first acts as one Kris is starting to settle in. It’s a lot of fun watching the new reality settle in. There’s a sense in which Kris didn’t give a lot of thought to how things were going to be after the trials. I can’t tell if that’s because no one really thought it’d happen, or Kris needed to focus on the immediate challenge first. I’m not sure that Kris has been as interesting before — showing questionable judgement, and an impressively growing awareness of what the future can be.
There’s a little bit of action that’s not really fallout from the gauntlet, but is what we’ve been waiting for, pretty much centering on the person of Ojo. Kris and Ojo finalize the trade deal they promised to make, and then the final shoe drops with what’s been going on with Penelope. While this is happening Ojo gets some news from home that colors everything he does. He’s still the character that interests me the most, even as I’m sure the series really wants me to focus on Kris and Michiko.
This installment isn’t just wrapping up what was left dangling after episode 4, it sets up the stories the series will be focusing on next. This isn’t going to be your typical fantasy series, and will a lot of fun to see what it ends up being — although reading the characters and plots will be better. Given the last paragraph, it’s going to get exciting soon.
For me, the character of Takeshi stole this episode. I liked watching him at work in Episode 4, but honestly, I didn’t pay all that much attention to him before. But between his attitude, his secrets, and his non-Warder activities, he really seems like quite the guy (watching the reactions of the younger Warders running into the concept of non-Warder activities was great, by the way.).
While there wasn’t much transpiring in this episode, I really appreciated it for the character moments, and what it seems to be setting up for the future. I’m feeling better about Born to the Blade as a whole, too. In short, this was good stuff.
by Nicky Peacock
Series: The Twisted and The Brave, #1PDF, 180 pg.
Evernight Teen, 2018
Read: May 14 – 15, 2018
I’m not sure what it says about me/the books I read/the world in general, that given the strangeness of the world depicted in this series — the serial killer, vigilante organization, imaginary friend that’s not that imaginary, Native American legendary creature that’s going around killing people — and the even stranger stuff on the horizon of this book, that the hardest thing for me to swallow came in these opening pages. The Prime Minister imposes mandatory capital punishment for murder? That’s just so hard to believe. All the outlandish supernatural stuff just around the corner of that moment seems routine and blasé in comparison.
It takes awhile for this novel to show how it’s related to Lost in Wonderland, although it shares a sensibility and style from the get-go. Because of a couple of references and a news story, you know that this happens in the same world, but the characters are all new for the first two-thirds or so of this book. So when some of the characters from Lost in show up, it almost feels like they’re guest stars.
A 17-year old orphan named Halo is living with her horrible step-father who uses her for a punching bag and a cover for him as he sells drugs, she’s just not sure how to get out of this life when someone calling himself the Wizard shows up to recruit her for his club — Oz. The members of this little club are all murderers, many are technically serial killers at least partially responsible for the re-imposition of capital punishment.
Gavin is a police detective from the States, working with the British police to stop some of these serial killers — apparently Britain is recruiting police officers from around the globe to help slow their slide into dystopia. Gavin and his partner are on the hunt for a killer they call Valentine — who takes the hearts of his victims. A reporter is also trying to get him on board his personal crusade to help exonerate a convicted murder before he’s the first execution in decades.
These actually have more in common than you’d expect — a whole lot more than they’d ever expect or guess. Both end up immersed in the activities of Oz. Which is really about all I can say without ruining everything.
The prose is sharp and sparse — there’s hardly a wasted word. I mean this as a description, not a criticism, but frequently this reads more like an extended outline than a completed draft. It’s a gamble to try it — but Peacock makes that kind of writing work for her.
Fast-paced, focused, imaginative, action-packed and strange. This is an entertaining read — The Assassin of Oz novel delivers what it promises, a genre-mashup full of excitement. This is a solid sequel and does a nice job of setting up the next installment which seems like it’ll be another fun one.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this novel from the author in exchange for my honest opinions.