Monthly Archives: January 2014

Sheen on the Silk by Anne Perry

The Sheen on the Silk

In 1273, a woman’s dangerous quest to clear her brother’s name of murder brings her to Constantinople. Anna Zarides, disguised as a eunuch physician, becomes one of a cast of characters that will ensure Constantinople’s survival or its destruction in a Crusade.

The characters have vibrant traits which make them compelling. Anna’ compassion born from painful events is one example. Constantinople, Venice and other locations are portrayed as full of beauty and some cruelty. The plot is a slow building mystery and historical tale that shows the human heart. Perry conveys her tale through details and lyrical descriptions such as as a bowl of apricots being “liquid amber touched from the red of the sun”(p.57). This book is a potential match for those looking for a tale of Constantinople, compelling characters, a slow building tale and/or lyrical writing.

Want other books like The Sheen on the Silk?

Seraglio, by Janet Wallach, is another richly detailed tale of a woman navigating a dangerous world. In the 18th century, a woman kidnapped and taken into the sultan’s harem in Istanbul undergoes trials and danger to rise to the powerful position of valide sultan.

Shadow Princess, by Indu Sundaresan, is another slow building historical fiction tale with richly detailed and lyrical style as well as interesting characters. Princess Juhanara, and her siblings, strive for power in the shadow of the construction of the Taj Mahal. (Click here for my blog entry on Shadow Princess.)

Books such as Constantinople: Capital of Byzantium, by Jonathan Harris, provide more information on Constantinople’s past and what happened to the city after the events of The Sheen on the Silk.


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January 31, 2014 · 4:39 pm

Winter Kill by Bill Brooks

Winter Kill

John Henry Cole is mourning his lost ranch when a Texas Ranger comes to him for help. The Ranger wants Cole to help locate a woman Cole loved who is mixed up in murder.  To find her, Cole and his allies will have to face a cold blooded killer, assassins masquerading as law men and the assorted dangers of the frontier.

Winter Kill’s characters are all tough people trying to survive in a tough and bleak land. Cole is a mixture of rough and kind. His two main two allies, the irrepressible adventurer Harve Ledbettor and bull-headed Ranger Ted Green, bring some humor to a serious story. Historical figures such as Doc Holliday and Wyatt Earp make appearances.  Brooks presents the West as bleak, but compellingly so, through people who are trying to survive, dangerous weather and challenges Cole faces in his travels.  Winter Kill could be a match for readers who want a rough tale of the West and/or a main character struggling to survive in a rough world.

Want books like Winter Kill?

Gun Man, by Loren D. Estleman, is the tale of how a man falls into the careers of lawman, highwayman and assassin.

Montana Red, by Ralph Cotton, is another tale involving facing down villains in the compelling and bleak West.

North to Bitterroot, by Ralph Compton, is the tale of a betrayed cowboy forced to deal with enemy Indians, weather and other dangers during a cattle drive.

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The Heist by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg

The Heist (Fox and O'Hare #1)

FBI Special Agent Kate O’Hare is a determined and intelligent agent who always gets her man. Con artist extraordinaire Nick Fox’s intelligence and suaveness always gets him what he wants. They could be the perfect team for catching cons like embezzler Derek Griffin. They could be if the job and annoyance with each other don’t get them killed…

This is a fun crime thriller with some romance. Kate and Nick’s relationship has the diverting elements of mutual attraction, respect and annoyance. Other supporting characters such as daredevil driver Wilma, neurotic actor Boyd and Kate’s ex-military dad are also fun. The Heist is also an escape into a world of luxurious travel, cloths and food. Among the highlights is a jaw dropping expensive shopping trip in Palm Desert’s El Paseo. The plot is a fast paced tale taking place in Southern California and Indonesia with quick stops in other locales. Readers looking for a fun crime thriller and/or a tale with some romance could enjoy The Heist.

Want other books like The Heist?

A food writer and a hitman are attracted and annoyed with each other as they search for a missibng fortune and deal with the mob in Jennifer Cruise and Bob Mayer’s Agnes and the Hitman.

A criminal crew deals with international intrigue and a emerald that just won’t allow itself to be stolen in Donald Westlake’s The Hot Rock.

Another crime caper with a diverse group and action taking place in rich places is Jeffrey Archer’s Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less.

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Slow Dollar by Margaret Maron

Slow Dollar (Deborah Knott Mysteries #9)

Judge Deborah Knott didn’t expect murder to arrive with a carnival in Colleton County, North Carolina.  She is shocked when the victim’s identity touches on old family secrets and a family member is a potential suspect. With family on both sides of the mystery, court life and a new relationship her docket is a full one…

This book presents several slices of life. The reader gets a look at a close knit North Carolina family, the routine of being a judge and the carnie lifestyle. These slices of life feel real rather than romanticized or tawdry. Judge Knott is worth getting to know because she feels like a normal person. The path of her life has not been smooth and she balances selflessness with pragmatism. Slow Dollar’s plot keeps the reader’s attention with several plausible leads. Slow Dollar provides slices of life, an everyday protagonist and an interesting mystery.

Want other books like Slow Dollar?

A widow’s attempt to solve a politician’s murder provides a slice of life look at Saskatchewan, Canada and politics in Gail Bowen’s Deadly Appearances.

A mortician and a sheriff find a shooting at a funeral is tied in with plans for valuable North Carolina land in Mark de Castrique’s Dangerous Undertaking.

Reopening a case brings a North Carolina police chief face to face with old Southern secrets in Michael Malones’s Time’s Witness.

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The Vigilante’s Bride by Yvonne Harris

The Vigilante's Bride (Texas Rangers #1)

Being rescued at gunpoint violates mail order bride Emily McCarthy’s sense of propriety. She would be happy if she never saw her rescuer, vigilante Luke Sullivan, again. Unfortunately, her unpleasant would-be-husband threatens both their lives and something about Luke keeps her from turning away…

This is a Christian Romance that feels like a Western. There is a man struggling with his past, a corrupt rancher, threatened innocents and Indians. Harris evokes the West with details about clothing, food and skills men needed as cowboys.  Emily and Luke’s stubbornness and repeated misunderstandings cause the reader to root for them with amusement. The Vigilante’s Bride is a good match for a reader looking for a Christian Romance with Western elements and/or a tale where misunderstandings happen on the way to love.

Want other stories like The Vigilante’s Bride?

A ranch owner and a female wrangler deal with ranch life, a cow thief and love in Janelle Mowery’s When All My Dreams Come True.

A niece of a ranch owner must contend with cattle drives and an annoying, but appealing, ranch foreman in Maggie Brendan’s No Place for a Lady.

A soldier and a woman stuck with a ranch are drawn together, and apart by the ranch, Indians and other challenges in Tracie Peterson’s Chasing The Sun.

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