Love, Murder & Mayhem by Russ Colchamiro, ed.

Love, Murder & MayhemLove, Murder & Mayhem

by Russ Colchamiro, editor

eARC, 385 pg.
Crazy 8 Press, 2017

Read: June 20 – 21, 2017


This is the strongest collection of stories that I can remember reading in the last few years — 15 stories and only 1 that didn’t work for me (it was fine, I just didn’t think it took advantage of the SF setting). I really would like to post a few paragraphs about each story — but wow, that’s too much to write and/or read. Especially when you can just go buy the book and read them instead. Each of these stories, all some sort of Science Fiction — some space opera-ish, some hard SF, some goofy, some super-hero based — involve the three things mentioned in the title: love, murder and mayhem (all of which can be interestingly defined, but they’re there). Despite knowing this about them, I wasn’t expecting some of the stories to take the turns they did — especially the murder part, which frequently showed up when I wasn’t expecting it (or at the hands of someone I didn’t expect). Check out the Spotlight post I did earlier today for more details.

So let’s focus on a couple of the standouts.

  • A Goon’s Tale by Kelly Meding
    It was clear from the early pages of her MetaWars series that Meding knows how to write super-heroes. This story about the insurance agents that have to clean up after them, as well as Super Villains (and their goons). Nice twists and development of the characters.
  • The Responders by Michael Jan Friedman
    So, what happens when a super-hero team breaks up? What if there’s a Yoko figure who may be at the root of it? I don’t know how many Star Trek novels by Friedman I read back in the 90’s (apparently, it was 2 — he only has 2 listed on his website, I thought the number was higher), it was nice to see that he still has that touch.
  • The Note on the Blue Screen by Mary Fan
    I think it was this story that really clued me into the fact that this book was going to be good all the way through — a story about an android that solves mysteries, has a close connection to a human and pays tribute to A. Conan Doyle’s most famous creation worked better than I thought it would as I started it (or than it sounds as I describe it). I would absolutely read more stories about Sherlock.
  • As Time Goes By by Patrick Thomas This Mortal Coil by Peter David , Kathleen David , and Sean O’Shea
    Simply put, there’s nothing that Peter David can’t write, and his co-authors here do a good job honing that. The super-rich and super-responsible are able to get people to sleep and dream for them to maintains high levels of productivity. Great concept and then building on that by asking, what happens when the person you dream for dreams about a murder?
  • DuckBob: Killer Service by Aaron Rosenberg
    What happens when a souped-up version of Alexa gets absolute power. It’s funny, as well as fun and thought-provoking.
  • I left off my favorite from this list, because I don’t think I could keep things to just a couple of sentences. But all of these stories (well, 14 of 15) have a great hook, some great characterizations and an ending you wouldn’t be able to guess right away. Not a stinker in the batch — I expect that many readers wouldn’t agree with my disappointment with one of the stories, so I’ll go ahead and make that bold claim.

    I frequently lament the length of short stories — not any of these, they are full stories, with well=established characters and worlds — I don’t need any more of them. I wouldn’t mind revisiting some of these characters in similar stories or full novels, but I didn’t object once to the length or depth. Just a really strong anthology.

    Go read this.

    Disclaimer – I received a copy of this book as part of my participation in the Book Tour.

    —–

    3.5 Stars

    Love, Murder & Mayhem by Russ Colchamiro, ed. Book Tour

    Welcome to our Book Tour stop for Eating Robots. Along with this blurb about the book, my take on it will be along in an hour or so (the link’ll work when the post goes live).

    Book Details:

    Book Title:  Love, Murder & Mayhem
    Editor: Russ Colchamiro
    Category: Science Fiction, 385 pages
    Publisher: Crazy 8 Press
    Release date: June 18, 2017

    About the Book:

    Love science fiction stories that all include elements of Love, Murder & Mayhem?

    Then welcome to the latest anthology from Crazy 8 Press! This amazing collection from 15 all-star authors will delight you with superheros and supervillains. AIs, off-worlders, and space cruisers. We’ve also got private eyes, sleep surrogates, time travelers, aliens and monsters—and one DuckBob!

    With tales ranging from wild and wacky to dark and gritty to heartbreaking and fun, take the deadly leap with authors Meriah Crawford, Paige Daniels, Peter David, Mary Fan, Michael Jan Friedman, Robert Greenberger, Glenn Hauman Paul Kupperberg, Karissa Laurel, Kelly Meding, Aaron Rosenberg, Hildy Silverman, Lois Spangler, Patrick Thomas, and editor Russ Colchamiro.

    You’ll never look at Love, Murder & Mayhem the same way again—and that’s just the way we like it.

    About the Editor:

    Russ Colchamiro is the author of the rollicking space adventure, Crossline, the hilarious sci-fi backpacking comedy series, Stephen OramFinders Keepers, Genius de Milo, and Astropalooza, and is editor of the new anthology, Love, Murder & Mayhem, all with Crazy 8 Press.

    Russ lives in New Jersey with his wife, two children, and crazy dog, Simon, who may in fact be an alien himself. Russ has also contributed to several other anthologies, including Tales of the Crimson Keep, Pangaea, and Altered States of the Union, and TV Gods 2. He is now at work on a top-secret project, and a Finders Keepers spin-off.

    As a matter of full disclosure, readers should not be surprised if Russ spontaneously teleports in a blast of white light followed by screaming fluorescent color and the feeling of being sucked through a tornado. It’s just how he gets around — windier than the bus, for sure, but much quicker.

    Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram

    Gather Her Round by Alex Bledsoe

    Gather Her RoundGather Her Round

    by Alex Bledsoe
    Series: Tufa, #5

    Hardcover, 315 pg.
    Tor Books, 2017
    Read: Jay 29 – 30, 2017

    Man, it’s hard to write much that doesn’t boil down to: It’s the new Tufa book by Bledsoe — it’s great, go read it. Which is essentially a tautology followed by a natural conclusion. And isn’t that interesting (then again, I never promised you interesting, Dear Reader).

    So, what sets this one apart? Well, there’s the pretty mundane nature of the inciting incident (mundane meaning not magical, not mundane meaning ordinary), the framing device, and the . . . I don’t want to say resolution (because there are a few — and yet none), I guess the way things end.

    The framing device is perfect for a Tufa novel — Janet Harper, a noted musician and actress is at a story-telling festival and brings her guitar onstage to use with her story — one that’s true, but that no one in the audience will believe, as much as she says it. She does change the names of the participants (which makes her different than Ray Parrish) to protect everyone involved — including herself (see Ray Parrish).

    Janet tells the story of Kera Rogers, who goes for a walk one morning to go play a little music, relax a bit, sext a little with a couple of guys, think a little about cutting out one or both of the guys when she’s attacked by a wild animal and is never seen again. At least not most of her — a small body part or two shows up. The community is horrified that this happens and her parents grieve the end of her young life. Duncan Gowan is one of the boys she was involved with — and thought he was the only one — is wrecked by her death and learning that she was also sleeping with someone else.

    The rest of the tale traces the ripples from this event over the next few months (almost a year) — and the next victim to fall prey to the animal — Kera’s family moving on, Duncan getting involved with another woman, the hunters that come in to track the beast (which will also hopefully prevent any police investigation). One of the hunters gets involved with a Tufa we’ve known since the first book, and is introduced to the real culture of Needsville.

    While all this is going on, we get the best picture of how things are going with the faction formerly led by Rockhouse Hicks, now led by Junior Damo, and it’s clear to everyone that Junior is not the new Rockhouse — which is mostly good, but there are some real drawbacks. Mandalay Harris takes it upon herself — even though the dead are Junior’s — to get to the bottom of what happened. Sure, it was a wild animal attack — but is that all it was? Her methods aren’t exactly anything you’ll find in a police procedural, but produce results that Gil Grissom and his kind would envy.

    The best parts of these books is the way that people like Junior, Mandalay, Bliss, and Bronwyn are secondary characters; while people we’ve never met (or just barely) like Kera, Duncan, Janet, and Jack Cates (the hunter) are the focus. Yet somehow, we care about them almost as much — and through the eyes and experiences of the new characters we learn more about our old friends and see them grow and develop. Bledsoe is fantastic at making each of these books very different from the rest, yet clearly part of a series.

    Like every novel in this series — this can be your introduction to the world. Actually, this one may be a better intro-book than any but the first (even as I write that I can think of arguments against it, but I think I can stick with it). You don’t have to have any advance knowledge of this world to appreciate 98% of the book.

    There’s heart, magic, fun, wonder, vengeance, a dash of romance and mystery wrapped up in this novel — expressed through very human characters. The humanity shown by these people who aren’t all that human shines through more than anything else.

    —–

    4 Stars
    2017 Library Love Challenge

    The Black Box by Ian Rankin

    I thought I’d scheduled this for yesterday, well, I’d intended to, but I typo’ed the date. So, hey, enjoy a bonus post to make up for the recent bits of silence.

    The Black BookThe Black Book

    by Ian Rankin
    Series: John Rebus, #5

    Hardcover, 278 pg.
    O. Penzler Books, 1994

    Read: June 2 – 5, 2017


    As interesting and well-written as the mystery in this novel was, as I think about the book, I have a hard time thinking about it — the non-case material dominates the book, and seems more important for the series as a whole. Which is kind of a shame — there’s a lot to be mined in this case, and we didn’t get enough of it. A famous — and infamous — local hotel burns down, and one body is recovered. This man didn’t die in the fire, but was shot dead before it started. There were so few clues left that the case had been long considered unsolved and unsolvable. Five years later, John Rebus starts reviewing the files and talking to people involved (getting himself in hot water for it). I really wanted more of it — and the people Rebus talked to about this case.

    So what made this book interesting? Well, Rebus got into this case because Brian Holmes was attacked off duty one night. It’s suggested that this is because of some extra-curricular investigations he’d been running. The only thing that Rebus has to follow-up that claim is Holmes’ black notebook, full of his personal code. Rebus can almost crack one set of notes which points him at the hotel fire and the killing involved. While Holmes’ recuperates, Rebus takes it upon himself to finish the DS’ work.

    We meet DC Siobahn Clarke here — Rebus’ other junior detective. She’s driven, she’s tough, she’s English, educated and careful. Most of what Rebus isn’t. She’s got a good sense of humor and duty — both of which make her one of my favorite characters in this series almost immediately (second only to Rebus).

    The big thing is our meeting Morris Gerald “Big Ger” Cafferty – we’d brushed up against him in Tooth & Nail. Big Ger is possibly the biggest, baddest criminal in Edinburgh, and it seems that Rebus will go toe to toe with him a few times. He’s both a source of information (for Rebus, anyway) as well as a target for the police (including Rebus, in a couple of directions in just this book) — for both the cold case and current operations. He’s dangerous, and yet not at all — I think spending time with him in the future will be a hoot.

    Lastly, Rebus’ brother is out on parole, having served a decent amount of time behind bars. More than that, he’s crashing with his brother. Family awkwardness (to put it mildly) ensues. I’m not sure he’s someone I want to spend more time with, but something tells me that Rankin has good plans for the character. Meanwhile, Clarke and Cafferty are characters I want more of right now.

    A solid mystery novel — with a conclusion I didn’t see coming (to at least one of the mysteries_ — with a lot of great stuff going on at the same time. This one’s a keeper.

    —–

    4 Stars
    2017 Library Love Challenge

    Saturday Miscellany – 6/17/17

    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:

      A Book-ish Related Podcast Episode you might want to give a listen:

    • A Stab In The Dark kicks off its second season with my chatting with Ian Rankin. I’m adding this one to the regular rotation (and listening to some back episodes)

      This Week’s New Releases I’m Excited About and/or You’ll Probably See Here Soon:

    • Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire — McGuire’s follow-up to the wonderful Every Heart a Doorway is almost as good — this one tells the story of Jack and Jill (the sisters, not the hill-climbers) before they found their door and of the adventures they found on the other side, all leading up to having to go toe Eleanor West’s Home. I tried to post about this yesterday, but sleep won out.
    • The Data Disruption by Michael R. Underwood — Speaking of prequels, here’s the “lost pilot” to the Genrenauats series. The price is right — free. Check out the link for details.
    • Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew Sullivan — yes, the gentleman I referred to above. Glad I saw that essay, because it lead me to this: “When a bookshop patron commits suicide, his favorite store clerk must unravel the puzzle he left behind.” That’s got the makings of a good one.

    Lastly, I’d like to say hi and welcome to pandaduh for following the blog this week.

    The Cold Dish (Audiobook) by Craig Johnson, George Guidall

    The Cold DishThe Cold Dish

    by Craig Johnson, George Guidall
    Series: Walt Longmire, #1
    Unabridged Audiobook, 13 hrs. and 18 mins
    Recorded Books, 2007

    Read: June 7- 12, 2017


    This is by and large what I had to say about the book a couple of years ago — but I’ve expanded it a touch.

    It’s hard to believe this is a first novel. I love it when that happens. Johnson is assured in his writing, he knows his characters and their world, there’s no mistaking that. The world and the characters are very well-developed, it’s hard to believe that Johnson worked in as much backstory as he did for these characters in such a short space. Walt, Vic, Henry Standing Bear, Lucien — they’re all fully fleshed out and ready to go.

    As always, the mixture of Cheyenne Mysticism (for lack of a better word) and Longmire’s realism (and Vic’s cynicism) is great — even at this point, Johnson’s ready to present things that could be Cheyenne ghosts, or it could be Longmire’s mind playing tricks on him as a result of injury and exposure without taking a clear narrative stance. It’s not a fast-paced tale by any means–Johnson saunters through his prose like Longmire would through the world. That doesn’t mean it’s not gripping, though. It’s lush with detail, as scenic and expansive as the Wyoming country it takes place in.

    It took awhile for Guidall’s narration to work for me, I did eventually come around, and I expect I’ll enjoy him more fully in the next book.

    I figured out whodunit pretty quickly, but it took a while to get the why. The journey to the why was compelling, interesting and well worth the time. Looking forward to the next installment.

    —–

    4 Stars

    Fool Moon (Audiobook) by Jim Butcher, James Marsters

    Fool MoonFool Moon

    by Jim Butcher, James Marsters (Narrator)
    Series: The Dresden Files, #2
    Unabridged Audiobook, 10 hrs., 6 min.
    Buzzy Multimedia Publishing Corp., 2009

    Read: May 30 – 31, 2017


    Let’s keep this short:

    I didn’t love this one as much as Storm Front, and I remember things as a whole being better. Still, we get the introduction of the Alphas, we get to see a little bit of every type of Werewolf in this world (I’d forgotten 1 of them), Dresden makes some smart choices re: Karrin Murphy (but man, most of what happened between the two of them in this book was annoying to a fan, and poorly constructed I think), and a (in retrospect) dumb one about Susan.

    The main story was pretty good — I’d have liked to see Harry be a little quicker to figure things out, but he’s not perfect. Nor is he the investigator he’ll become eventually. I need to remind myself these are early days. As I recall, book 3 is a little less-good than this, which doesn’t make me look forward to it. But I know I like where things go pretty quickly, so I’ll keep going.

    Marsters was fantastic — this would’ve been a 3 in just about any other narrator’s hands, er, vocal cords. I can’t say enough good things about him.

    —–

    4 Stars