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Dante Alighieri

Review: Inferno by Casey Hill #CSIReillySteel #IrishPoliceProcedural

Inferno (CSI Reilly Steel, #2)“The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis.” – Dante Alighieri – The Comedy

I have found myself a little jewel in an author who has been around for a while, but I hadn’t had the good fortune to come across previously. Casey Hill’s CSI Reilly Steel is an honestly strong female character. No running around with guns or knives, kicking bad-guy’s behinds. Instead, Reilly is smart, dedicated, and determined, willing to work until she finds the solution to the crimes she investigates. And this crime is going to require all her dedication if she is going to be able to help detectives Chris Delaney and Pete Kennedy solve this convoluted crime.

It begins in a rather horrific manner. The body of a well-known, and well-hated, journalist is found drowned in his own septic tank. Then, as more bodies pile up, all murdered in brutal and horrific ways, Dublin goes into a panic. Who will The Punisher, as the papers are calling him, attack next? I what brutal manner will they die? One thing Reilly knows is that the murderer is absolutely meticulous. Absolutely organized. And something is so, so familiar about the scenes he so methodically designs. But what is it?

Reilly is a great character. A former California surfer girl and previous FBI ERT (Evidence Response Team) Team Leader out of the San Francisco office. She has moved to Dublin, Ireland to bring the GFU, the Garda Forensic Unit, in Dublin, up to date on sorely outdated forensic procedures. Of course, being American, and female at that, doesn’t go over well with the previous GFU leader, but be that as it may, she holds her head up and does spectacular work, no matter the idiotic behavior of some of her coworkers. She is the reason I will continue reading these stories – she is multi-layered and strong, and yet kind to everyone around her. Lovely.

The story is fast paced, wickedly clever, and a well-researched police procedural. Reilly is finally getting to know her colleagues, Delaney and Kennedy, and it is interesting to watch them begin to grow their relationships, both professionally and as possible friends. It is a well-rounded tale. This is the second in the series technically, though there is a Volume 0 Crime Scene: CSI Reilly Steel Prequel so technically it is the third. I hope to find the time (and money, of course) to be able to read them all. My only complaint? The editing is terrible so be prepared.

Review: Fade To Black By Tim McBain And L.T. Vargus

23279082The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis. – Dante Alighieri

Knowing your own darkness is the best method for dealing with the darknesses of other people. – Carl Jung

“Come on,” he says. “Maybe I want to offer some fatherly advice or some goddamn thing, right?”

Poor Jeff Grobnagger can’t catch a break. You see, he suffers from seizures. Seizures that fling him not only into the pain of the seizure itself. They throw him into another world – a world where he wakes to find himself hanging by his ankle in a filthy alley in a dark and grayscale world. And every time he gets free, usually falling both ungracefully and painfully to the alley’s filthy pavement, his reward is to be strangled to death by a shadowy figure in a hooded cloak.

“Any minute now a hooded man will come barreling out of nowhere and kill me.

So. That sucks.”

That first line of Fade to Black sets the theme for the rest of the book – an extraordinarily snarky, moody, broody, and oh-so-elegant and humourous fall into the absurd that kept me reading well past ridiculously late hours.

I first found L. T. Vargus, the co-author of the book, along with Tim McBain, when I read and reviewed her book Casting Shadows Everywhere. In that book, I wrote:

This book moved me, pained me, in so many ways. It brought up memories best forgotten, pain, heart break. But mostly, it opened me up with the wisdom and compassion shown by the author.

Happily, I can say much the same about this newest book by Vargus. I completely identified with Grobnagger. His lost soul, his pain and distance from others, and his quirky psychological musings touched my heart and carried me away to his world. A world where people still watch VCR’s and the questions of humanity are deeply felt, and pity is far, far away. But I still burst into laughter in what should have been the most inappropriate moments. You can’t help it. Grobnagger is just funny.

Vargus’s work weirdly resonates with me. It is sneaky in a way – it holds the things we fear up to the light – opening the reader up to honesty – to love and hope and the truths of our souls found in the darkest of nights. It’s weird and dark and twisted – and real. And I recommend the trip.

I received this book from the author in return for a realistic review. My weird thoughts are my own!

About The Authors:

Tim McBainAbout Tim

People say your author bio should tell the world why you write. I write because life is short, and I want to make something awesome before I die.

About L.T.L.T. Vargus

L.T. Vargus grew up in Hell, Michigan, which is a lot smaller, quieter, and less fiery than one might imagine. When not click-clacking away at the keyboard, she can be found sewing, fantasizing about food, and rotting her brain in front of the TV.

L.T. Vargus now lives in Kalamazoo, Michigan with her special man friend/writing partner, Tim McBain.

 

 

Review: Windwalker By Natasha Mostert

Through me you pass into the city of woe:
Through me you pass into eternal pain:
Through me among the people lost for aye.
Justice the founder of my fabric moved:
To rear me was the task of power divine,
Supremest wisdom, and primeval love.
Before me things create were none, save things
Eternal, and eternal I shall endure.
All hope abandon, ye who enter here.
-Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy

This life’s dim windows of the soul
Distorts the heavens from pole to pole
And leads you to believe a lie
When you see with, not through, the eye.
William Blake – The Everlasting Gospel

 

 windwalkerHaunting and elegant. I have head Ms. Mostert’s works described this way before, by other reviewers. This, and so very much more, is the work of Natasha Mostert. For she has a voice that is deeply evocative, an exceptional, mystical writing style. Natasha’s turn of prose is both otherworldly and sensual, a voice that sends chills down my spine and reaches into my soul, making a home for itself in the sweet, dark recesses of my existence. Her writing comes to mind over and over, in the dark of night or the bright light of day, a paean to her brilliant style, as her ability to paint rich, intriguing portraits with words which steal into my awareness in the most common of moments. Words which bring me to my knees, to weep and sigh, to long deeply and without respite.

Kepler’s Bay. A remote and forbidding town in a remote and forbidding land, bitter and forlorn. Perched on the razor edge between the Namib and the sea, Kepler’s Bay clings to the edge of the world with barely restrained ferocity, much as do the creatures of the great desert upon which it backs. Kepler’s Bay. The melancholy call of the soo-oop-wa, the never-ending wind, maddens, takes piecemeal grains of the soul, eventually leaving behind naught but a dry, desiccated husk – a body walking with no spark within.

The Namib, oldest desert in the world, ‘The land God made in anger,’ say the San people. But he had always thought that only a god in pain could have imagined a place like this. And from this land of soaring dunes and brutal winds one day appears a wild man, filled with pain, with fever and madness. Madness and passion. Violence and death. Samuel Becket said: “All men are born mad. Some remain so.” And is madness not pain, turned in upon oneself?

Across the desert, in the lush green of the English countryside, a woman arrives. Lost and maddened in her own right, she arrive upon the doorstep of a sad and haunted estate. As she sinks into the stories of this place of madness, fratricide and pain, broken shadows and haunted rooms, one soon cannot truly discern where the house leaves off and the woman begins. Quiet desperation. Ghosts and haunting images through a camera’s lens.

They are so close, and yet so far apart. So very, very far apart. Has it been this way, lives upon lives, sinking into the past? And what of unintended consequences, the vagaries of fate and karma?

Yet ah! why should they know their fate?
Since sorrow never comes too late,
And happiness too swiftly flies.
Thought would destroy their paradise.
No more; where ignorance is bliss,
‘Tis folly to be wise.
Thomas Gray – Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College

Through our lives, do our souls search? Do they seek desperately, yearning for that which was, which could have been, or which shall never be? And is evil merely the absence of good, demons playing bones with our lives?

Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars. – Khalil Gibran

Photo courtesy of Michael Van Balen All rights reserved.

How many paths must we walk, how many lives to be lived? How long must we suffer before paths may cross, before we might know peace? Do our souls wander alone, searching beyond ourselves for knowledge, deep in the rending silence of the night? A photography of insanity may be a shard of light. Questions and blood and dreams of deaths long past, pain and ancient desire. All are spread before us between these pages. Allow her words to reel you in, to touch and tease, sooth and savage by turns. To think. To dream. To sorrow.

To hope.

This book was provided to me by the author in return for a realistic review. It touched me more deeply than any of her works yet have – and those have been absolutely brilliant. I hate reviews that begin with “If you like the works of” to be honest, but if the interspersed quotes touch your soul, I strongly, very strongly, encourage you to read Windwalker. And then her other works as well. I don’t believe, once you have read this one, that you will be able to resist.

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