Friday, January 31, 2014

Elly Griffiths Continues Ruth Galloway Mysteries with The Outcast Dead and...Mother Hook???!!!

'And we ask your abundant blessing, Lord, on these, the outcast dead...'
There is a murmured response from the group gathered on the bank below the castle walls. But Ruth Galloway, standing at the back, says nothing. She is wearing the expression of polite neutrality she assumed whenever God is mentioned. This mask has stood her in good stead over the years and she sees no reason to drop it now. But she approves of the Prayers for the Outcast Dead. This brief ecumenical service is held every year for the unknown dead of Norwich: the bodies thrown into unmarked graves, the paupers, the plague victims, forgotten, unmourned, except by this motley collection of archaeologists, historians and sundry hangers-on.
"Lord, you told us that not a sparrow falls without our Father in Heaven knowing. We know that these people were known to you and loved by you...'
The vicar has a reedy hesitant voice which gets lost before it reaches Ruth. Now she can only hear Ted, one of the field archaeologists, giving the responses in a booming baritone.
'We will remember them.'

The Outcast Dead:
A Ruth Galloway Mystery
By Elly Griffiths

This is the sixth novel in this series; my second. It begins in somewhat of a pedantic pace that raised my concern, but soon I realized that with the complexity of the story--two different time periods are involved--the author did need to establish the basics prior to moving on... By that time I was well hooked and read to midnight last night to finish! I can tell you that I again enjoyed meeting Ruth Galloway and wish I could have started at the beginning (see my review) and continued each book. As always too many books; too little time! This book does stand on its own with a few hiccups that refers back to earlier cases--get through that minor frustration because there is followup that gives you enough to understand these flashbacks...

First, let me mention that the scene above opens the book and it is in the present time period. The historical time showing the castle was my choice to show that the other time period is approximately 100 years ago...when a body, its skeleton was found. They soon believed it was Mother Hook, who was hanged for the murder of five children.

Saxlingham Thorpe Church
"This is the franchise," she says briskly. Her
voice is an odd mixture of transatlantic drawl and
upper-class English. Women who Kill is a series
about notorious woman murderers. It tends to be a
bit sensationalist. Corinna Lewis presents it and
she's not exactly one for subtlety, but I've been called
in to do this one and I want it to be a bit different,
more accurate historically. That's why I want to
involve Frank here.
"So not too many closeups of the famous hook,"
laughs Phil. "No screams in the night."
"No," says the woman, deadpan. "None of that.
The thing is, we've got a different angle."
"What Dani is saying," Frank leans forward.

"is that we've got some pretty compelling
evidence that Jemima Green may have been
"Mother Hook innocent?'
Ruth had already been digging at the Castle and just stopped to attend the service and then left to pick up Kate her daughter... Sometime (LOL) in an earlier book, Ruth had an affair with DCI Harry Nelson, who is the father of Kate... and who is personally quite happy to be the man in the lives of two women and his children.

My impression of Ruth is that she puts her career first normally, so is willing to be in such a situation, but it does get awkward at times. In fact, there are quite a number of other types of sexual connections between and among the characters. Several of which include what are called childminders (or nannies, depending upon their duties I guess)...

Pay attention to all of the characters because even while a former convicted childminder murder is being taken from her grave, there are children being murdered in the present!

And while that investigation begins, Ruth and others involved with the dig have been chosen to appear on a television program, Women Who Kill!

Interestingly, as the research and excavation continues, there begins to be a question whether Mother Hook was guilty! But when the third child of the Donaldson family died, this time the ME indicated that he felt the child had been suffocated. 

Immediately the mother was considered, and then the father was taken in. It was during that time that affairs of Donaldson with former childminders was discovered.

But then the whole situation took a twist--a child was taken from its bed and a note was left signed by The Childminder...Who was this person and was there possibly a relationship to the death of the Donaldson child?

One of the contributions made by the historian who had been brought in for the television show was
to share two books that had been found--a diary and The Book of 
Dead Babies...somehow, the story got spookier for me as Ruth began to read about the children that Mother Hook had cared for... and if one died, they were added to the Dead Babies Book along
with a poem: 

For A
You never spoke yet we miss your silence
You never walked but we miss your step.
Dearest Child, sweet Babe
Now you are singing and dancing with the angels.
Your cheek was cool and soft as snow
Precious Girl, we loved you so.

When The Childminder took another child, it was the son of one of DCI Nelson's team... The Hunt included the whole police force!

...doesn't even notice at first, she's so intent on Michael.
'Swing low sweet chariot,' she's singing. A very scary song,
Ruth has always thought, isn't it all about dying?

I enjoyed this encounter with Ruth Galloway! She and Frank seem to be getting friendly, while DCI Nelson is not happy seeing it! LOL That should prove interesting, don't you think, in future books? Lots of drama in this story and it alllll comes out! A touch of history, a visit to what is now called Norfolk in the UK...and a mystery that I didn't solve! In fact, hadn't a clue! Highly Recommended...

Castle Now a Famous Norfolk Museum!


Elly Griffiths' Ruth Galloway novels have been praised as "gripping", "highly atmospheric" and "must-reads for fans of crime fiction." Griffiths is the winner of the Mary Higgins Clark Award. She lives in Brighton, England.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Rare Gem Found in a Kindle Wrap - Before the Flood by John Sherman - WWJD in Today's World?

Note: Pictures are selected based upon time period of novel...and for dramatic effect of today's world...and are not meant to be sacrilegious... Nor does it reflect the individuals that are actually selected to sit around this table in the book... This is representative of the Calvin Klein generation--those who choose to wear what is hot, as opposed to not...

They were communicators. All of them. In their own unique way, they could convey their thoughts to the masses. Some, like Vu and Daniel, were painters. Some were musicians. And some, like me, could write. Each one had a unique talent, a special way of connecting with others. Reading this, I finally began to see why Manuel chosen who he had. They were young and passionate and deeply committed to using their talents to spread the messages that Manuel crafted for them. He believed in them all, but in reading his journals, it was clear that he held one in higher regard than the rest...

With the exception of Vu and An, Manuel had saved them all from something— from fear, from shame, from anger, or in my case, from all three. I imagined they felt a sense of gratitude towards him or maybe an obligation. I could see that they all regarded him as holy, as something larger than themselves. A prophet from above sent to prepare them. A messiah sent with a message of warning. They had accepted this and the roles he had asked them to play. They had watched three of their brethren die. Sitting there, they looked ready to do the same. But I could tell that Manuel’s silence bothered them. They wanted instruction, some hint of what he expected them all to do. After they had finished eating, he gave it to them.


Before the Flood
By John Sherman

No matter what your background is, where you live, or whether you are religious or not, most people are fully aware that predictions about the end times have been around for as long as any of us have lived...and before that. Some call it the Apocalypse. The basic question is whether or not the world we live in will be destroyed, disappear... You may have read at least one or more books about it and certainly have gone through the period of those times when predictions have occurred, the last, I think, was 2012.

And, of course, we are still here... Still, there seems to be a need, a burning desire, even, to know what the future holds for humans... I've enjoyed a number of novels on the topic, but this one, I think, is my favorite so far...and, perhaps, the most realistic??? The setting in San Francisco, well, it seemed like right from today's it?

When she opened the door, her eyes
confirmed what her ears had already discovered—
a small, brown baby boy lying on a green Army
jacket for a bed and wrapped in a Nirvana T-shirt
 for a sheet.
This book would be considered to be written based upon the Christian Bible. A main character is a journalist, an atheist who was known for routine articles questioning or sarcastic toward Christianity,  and also the son of an Episcopal Priest, so he was early versed in that book. But once he became involved in what happens, he took the time to study all of the world's religions and their "main characters."

Another main character is also a priest of the Episcopal Church, When they first met, she asked him to call her Beth...and then began to interview him, which he thought was quite funny since he was the journalist who was supposed to be doing the interview.

After they had determined that he would be involved, Beth began her story. Basically, any Christian reader will see an immediate parallel to the early life of Jesus. I'm not going to spend much time on that, except to say that, a baby boy was left at the door of Beth's church and when she had picked him up, three boys who looked like gang members said the baby was to be hers. Beth named him Manuel.

From the time he was brought to the first service, people from all races, the homeless and the rich, began to come...sitting by him first and moving outward...

San Francisco - Mission District: Episcopal Ch...
San Francisco - Mission District: Episcopal Church of Saint John the Evangelist (Photo credit: wallyg)
The one in the camo pants stepped forward. Dog tags hung around his neck and shimmered as the early morning sun crept up the street. He stared at Beth holding the baby. Despite the hood, she could make out the dark “Is he yours?” she shouted to the boy. 
He took another step forward and continued to stare at her. The other two boys followed his lead. All three removed their hoods to reveal the same tattoo on the right side of their necks— the simple black outline of a cross, the sight of which made Beth shiver. She studied each of them as if trying to remember their faces for a future line-up. She thought they all looked feral— one white, two Hispanic, all thin, all dirty. Mud caked their faces. The white boy’s hair hung in matted dreads down the side of his face. One of the Latino kids, the one with the blue eyes, wore his hair shaved close to his skull. 
“Take care of him,” he said in heavily accented English. 
Beth stepped off the front porch and into the street. “This is your baby …” she repeated, no longer sure if she were making a statement or asking a question. 
“No madre,” the boy replied, “he’s yours.” He took another step forward, but the others pulled him back.

All of the miracles of Jesus: turning water into wine, healing...and more began before he was even 10. By that time, A man named Eli had met Manuel and explain to Beth that he had been waiting to meet him. All of those involved with the child had been dreaming of what was to come... Eli was much more capable of teaching Manuel, especially when they realized that he was begin to paint... Eli, also a painter, taught him everything and more... and it wasn't until he was killed that Manuel began to change... Manuel's choice of artistry had been using spray cans...and much of his work soon appeared on the walls in the mission area, but they soon became much darker, threatening of hell's fire, after Eli was killed.
Revelation Chapter 1

In the materialistic world of today where name brands such as Calvin Klein are "must-wear" for young people, together with the latest electronic equipment,  where gods of music and social media seem to rule, etc., it was to the poor--those diseased by drink and drugs or starving--who were those ministered by Manuel. It was when he wanted to minister directly on the street that it happened...
Suddenly, Manuel had The Man's--Arius, in this novel--attention... and his followers began to be killed, one by one...

There was only one issue that bothered me somewhat in this book and it is near the end.  But, the overall issue that came across was that Manuel was attacking a world that belonged to someone else. He had left his home and came to invade a world that was being handled quite well and totally responsive to Arius wishes. If you read it, I'll give you my opinion on this scene if requested.

I'm going to say this is almost a thriller, at least it comes across that way because of the later activities. Are you willing to see today's world welcome the end of the world???  Not an easy book to read if you believe in the second coming...

...if not, enjoy a well-written thriller with San Francisco's mission area as the setting...

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Monday, January 27, 2014

Jillian Hart Meets Unexpected Ghost Cat in Latest Cats in Trouble Mystery Series by Leann Sweeney! Featuring Ghost Cats~

Dustin knelt and extended a hand. "They're not afraid of strangers?"
Syrah answered by starting toward Dustin, but all of a sudden he stopped, arched his back and hissed. Strange thing was he didn't seem to be hissing at Dustin. The cat was focused on something behind me and I wondered if a bug or a little lizard had come in the door behind us. I turned and looked at the floor. Nothing.

The Cat, The Mill and the Murder:
A Cats in Trouble Mystery

A killer's been milling about...
By Leann Sweeney

"It's nothing...Let's hurry and get iin here."
But is was something--that feeling again,
the brief touch against my leg...Maybe
this creepy place and Jeannie's belief
she had a companion cat no one else could
see had seeped into my mind, because it
definitely felt as though a cat had just
touched me...
Personal weekend time allowed me to check out the latest Cat in Trouble that was published many months ago... But that's alright, a book never gets too old, does it? And if you haven't read it yet, it brings the readers just as much fun! Check this one out!

Jillian Hart thinks she might be going crazy in the latest Cats in Trouble Mystery...She doesn't believe in ghosts, but she's been experiencing some sensations that are not easily explained. After all, she has three feline companions so she knows the moves they make and what it feels like...

So, if you felt something soft lightly rubbing against the side of your leg, Jillian did what any cat owner would, she looked down, expecting to see one of her own cats... But nothing was there! That she could see...
I held up a hand to Shawn, hoping he'd keep
quiet. "I'm Jillian. What's your name?"
"Clara Jeanne if you'd met my mama, but I
was always Jeannie to the rest of my kin...
Couse Mama's been gone so long. I can be
Jeannie, period. Just Jeannie." She looked
toward the saucer on the floor. "Aim't that
right Boots?"
"Boots?" I said.
"My kitty. She's pretty, huh?" Jeanne smiled,
revealing her rotting teeth.
An invisible cat. My heart ached with sympathy
and concern. This woman definitely needed
our help..."
It all started when a large former mill was going to be 
English: Herd (clowder) of Cats Српски / Srpsk...
But when a woman's voice yelled,
"What you think you're doin' in here?"
I jumped back and got a taste of my
own heart...
The clouded eyes of a woman stared
up at us. The odor hit me then, the
unpleasant combination of spoiled food
and an unwashed body...
"This place is dangerous, lady, Plus,
I'm thinkin' you don't have a key."
Dustin cleared his throat. "This isn't
a healthy place to be...staying."
The woman drew her legss up to her
chest, wrapped them with her arms and
began to rock...
converted into some other type of building. Jillian is always on call to help Shawn who runs the local shelter. The mill had been home for many feral cats, so now he was being asked to move them. 

But when they went into the mill, they found a woman was also living there! As
Jillian talked to her, the engineer went on to investigate the building, but when they found a skeletal hand, everybody knew that was going to stop the project at least for awhile!

Penelope, head of the community council was working with the two financial groups that were looking at the Mill. One was the former family owner of the Mill who wanted to convert to condos, while another was looking toward shops and a variety of spaces. They knew Dustin, the engineer was scheduled to visit that day so Penelope on her own had scheduled  a tour! But nobody was going to tour...a new crime scene!

"She cam back. I knew she would."
"Boots is here. My sweet Boots..."
Boots? I blinked several times, Jeannie
said Boots came back....
I sat on the floor, too, but when what
had to be a hallucination curled into
the space created by my crossed legs, a
shiver ran up my spine. I peeked down
to my lap. Nothing there. Yet I felt as
if I could stroke this invisible cat--
she seemed that real...
By the next time Jillian and Dustin visited the mill, they had found Jeannie had fallen and needed to be taken to the hospital. Asked how it had happened, she said she was running from the creepers who came at night, which might or might not be true. This would be fortunate for the investigation of the skeleton--they assumed that the individual had been murdered since it was wrapped and surrounded by bricks. Everybody had a guess as to who it might be, but before that could be confirmed, Penelope had been murdered!

So now we had Jillian, who had had the smallest hand to reach in 
and find the skeleton at the mill...also was the one who found Penelope at her home, where she had been murdered...

One of the things I like about this set of characters is that Candace, the routine investigator for the local police is Jillian's best friend, so there is rarely friction during Jillian's nosing into the murder cases--most of the time. But, then, she is a smart woman who doesn't go off by herself or keeps people notified of where she's headed... Until the last time when she didn't have time to reach anybody...and was caught by the killer at the mill! 

The investigation had been going on for some time and everybody was getting anxious, especially those outside financial people who had been in town to tour the mill and discuss their plans.  Boots had decided to stay with Jillian and did make up with her two male cats who finally were playing and racing through the house. Whether the female could actually see Boots and just ignored her wasn't shared but my guess is she was fully aware that another cat had entered her domain...

But all three of Jillian's cats were grateful when Boots saves Jillian's life when she was confronted...and I'll only give you one clue... Feral cats are also afraid of ghosts!

If you haven't already read this one, Enjoy! And you might be just like Jillian and start believing, and then seeing a ghost cat who comes to the name of Boots!

I loved this one! Highly recommended!


I have been writing for more than twenty years and feel very lucky to have become a career writer. Many times I worked my day job as a nurse, wife and mom and then wrote well into the night. My books are "gentle mysteries" and my towns are populated with people I'd like to meet. Not that I "like" all those characters, I'd just like to meet them. There will be justice in the end and no animal will ever be harmed, only rescued. I hope you can escape into one of my stories.

Please note that I couldn't find too many pics of Boots...after all, most of the time she's invisible, so I added some ghost friends of hers, from the feral community... LOLEnhanced by Zemanta

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Eliot Pattison's Original Death - A Puzzling Mystery Wrapped in History! A Must-Read for History Lovers! Amazing Story!

Following the Storm the night sky was like crystal. A thousand stars beckoned. The wind had slackened, the clouds had vanished, and the reflection of the moon stretched for miles over the still black water. Duncan stood at the rail with Conawago, who fingered the wooden tube carved by his kinsman. He had no words to ease the old Nipmuc's troubles. The bodies lined up in the smithy of Bethel Church would haunt their sleep as long as they lives. 
But just as real to Conawago were the killings on the other side reported by the half-king's followers. Spirits were not supposed to die, and if they did they would face nothing but interminable blackness until the end of time. But that was not the unspeakable horror that kept the old Nipmuc's face clouded and his tongue uncharacteristically silent. The words of Black Fish had stabbed at Conawago's heart. When all the original spirits died the gates of the other side would close forever. Black Fish had testified to the Council, holding the truth beads in his hand as he repeated the words of the dead. Then the people of the forest would become no more than dust. They would be no more forever. The looming end of the tribal world had weighed heavily on Conawago for years, but he selcom spoke of it, and when he did it was of events in a possible future, a future that might yet be avoided. But suddenly messages about that ending were coming from the other side. It had become real, happening before them.

Original Death:
Bone Rattler Series
By Eliot Pattison

There has been much adventure and excitement in many of the Native American novels I've read, but none has brought to us such an amazing mystery as has Eliot Pattison. I had some niggling thoughts from time to time, but the conclusion and discovery was all quite a surprise for me... There are many parts that mainly are based upon the happenings between the years 1664 and 1765, according to the very helpful timeline provided in the appendix.

Pattison also added an ending Note that provides readers with the event that brought about this book: French raiders slaughtered eleven unresisting Christian members of the Delaware tribe at the Moravian settlement of Gnadenhutten in Pennsylvania...and again years later captured 96 Christian Delaware men, women and children, lining them up and crushing their skulls. Pattison was touched as I was by the brutality, but more for the symbolism. "The tribal victims had assimilated, had trusted, had suffered stigma from their own tribes for their embrace of European ways and European faith. Few episodes in our relations with Native Americans more poignantly raise the question of who were the savages and who were the enlightened humans..." Soooo true!

The primary character in the series is exiled clan chief Duncan McCallum. I have not read the first two so am not quite sure why he has been exiled, but do know that all of his family were killed. McCallum is the last of his clan. This series is almost like a time traveler where McCallum moves into various places and becomes involved immediately. Readers should be prepared for the complexity of the story as this includes many different factions that were "playing war" during our colonial period. There are also multiple Native American groups as well, essentially, it seems, divided as war and peace type tribes. Conawago, one of the last of the Nipmuc's clan had become friends with Duncan earlier and had helped him through his trauma. Now, it was Conawago who needed help. He had received a letter from another of the last of his clan: "Once a year before the harvest moon I send this letter to a different location in the hope of reconnecting the chain of our blood." Hickory John, Towantha, was the son of his brother and with him was his grandson. There were just the three of them. But by the time Duncan and Conawago had arrived, there remained only the grandson!They had been staying at Bethel Church near Lake Champlain. They had gone first to the Church since there was nobody around, thinking that there was a service. .                                                                                                                                
But a cow called out in discomfort, needing to be milked. Something was very wrong...The cow would have been milked first thing in the morning...He found Conawago on the floor, holding the bloody head of a man in his lap! Before him was a line of bodies; all had been killed...But in later looking around, they found evidence of more children that were not there. Then Duncan found the first dead Scot... "The cow bleated again, and the man kicked a pail to the second man. "Get someone to milk the damned beast, Corporal," he spat, "then search every house and find me a witness."

The soldier had fought, taking several
bruises and slices on the back of his
hands and cheek before receiving
the wound in his chest that had killed
him.  He had been in his thirties and
judging from the scars across his jaw
and hands, was the veteran of more
that one battle. The tartan of his kilt
was black and green, that of the Black
Watch, renowned as the toughest, most
seasoned troops in America. The
sight of another dead Scot seemed 

to sap
Duncan's strength...

He and Conawago had not been able to keep away from the war... As they continue to search, they were soon interrupted. Rangers had come through and also discovered what had happened. Of course they blamed Duncan! As things, of course, got mixed up, soon Conawago was hurt and taken to a place to get help, only to find something and take off on his own! But at least Duncan discovered Ishmael, and was able to take the boy under his wing... He discovered another in the water... But it was clear that they had been murdered...                                             "He sat in the moonlight, trying again to link the pieces of the puzzle before him. Dead Mohawks at Bethel Church. Captive children being taken north to be killed. A missing treasure of the British king. A witch who sought out the half-king..."    Stay silent between the worlds.    This is how we first die.                                                              
Moving into the next part takes on a surreal, almost fantasy quality as Duncan tries to go on while Conawago has moved in a different direction. Recognize that Pattison shared from the Native American's standpoint, the beliefs that they held. As earlier mentioned, Conawago and many others immediately feared what was being said... that the old ones were being killed in the other world... it would possibly disappear with no way for the living to cross over.

At the same time, those who had killed the people at Bethel Church were living, demons in action though they may be... And soon it was discovered that that same day, the silver to support the pay for the military, mostly Scots, had been stolen--from a supposedly foolproof container. That, too, was done by the living...

Thus begins the mystery, but moving through that requires that the fears and rumors of the supernatural world must be confronted as well! I enjoyed Duncan's role and confusion as he tried to deal with what the Native Americans were saying, which often was symbolic rather than literal. Even when he "was chosen" to go along with Conawago to find the children, he did not realize until it was happening that he had committed his life to this activity! Would they succeed. And who had the children? Was it a man calling himself the Revelator and working to take over the leadership of all tribes? Or was there somebody even higher behind it all?

I was both captivated and dismayed with what began to be discovered... Pattison has weaved a story that merges so many of those involved, yet manages to retain a "whodunit" investigation going for readers that is not and cannot be solved until the very end! Truly an outstanding novel which is certainly recommended for your consideration.


Eliot Pattison has been described as a "writer of faraway mysteries," a label which is particularly apt for someone whose travel and interests span such a broad spectrum. After reaching a million miles of global trekking, visiting every continent but Antarctica, Pattison stopped logging his miles and set his compass for the unknown. Today he avoids well-trodden paths whenever possible, in favor of wilderness, lesser known historical venues, and encounters with indigenous peoples. An international lawyer by training, early in his career Pattison began writing on legal and business topics, producing several books and dozens of articles published on three continents. In the late 1990's he decided to combine his deep concerns for the people of Tibet with his interest in venturing into fiction by writing The Skull Mantra. Winning the Edgar Award for Best First Mystery--and listed as a finalist for best novel for the year in Dublin's prestigious IMPAC awards--The Skull Mantra launched the Inspector Shan series, which now includes Water Touching Stone, Bone Mountain, Beautiful Ghosts, and The Prayer of the Dragon. Both The Skull Mantra and Water Touching Stone were selected by for its annual list of ten best new mysteries. Water Touching Stone was selected by Booksense as the number one mystery of all time for readers' groups. The Inspector Shan series has been translated into over twenty languages around the world.
Pattison entered China for the first time within weeks of normalization of relations with the United States in 1980 and during his many return visits to China and neighboring countries developed the intense interest in the rich history and culture of the region that is reflected in these books. They have been characterized as creating a new "campaign thriller" genre for the way they weave significant social and political themes into their plots. Indeed, as soon as the novels were released they became popular black market items in China for the way they highlight issues long hidden by Beijing.

Pattison's longtime interest in another "faraway" place -the 18th century American wilderness and its woodland Indians-- led to the launch of his Bone Rattler series, which quickly won critical acclaim for its poignant presentation of Scottish outcasts and Indians during the upheaval of the French and Indian War. In Pattison's words, "this was an extraordinary time that bred the extraordinary people who gave birth to America," and the lessons offered by the human drama in that long-ago wilderness remain fresh and compelling today.

A former resident of Boston and Washington, Pattison resides on an 18th century farm in Pennsylvania with his wife, three children, and an ever-expanding menagerie of animals.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

North of Boston Exciting New Thriller by Elisabeth Elo! Pirio Kasparov Fantastic New Female Character!

If it had occurred during a sunny day, there may have been the possibility of avoiding the collision. It might have been detected by the Coast Guard and tragedy would not have happened. Ned would not have been killed...

"Turn off Survivor, folks; this is the real thing. After a collision at sea sank the fishing boat she was on, leaving the captain presumed drowned, this incredible young woman spent nearly four hours stranded in the North Atlantic in water temperatures of forty-two degrees before she was rescued. As far as we know, no one has ever done such a thing before, my friends. The longest the average person can expect to survive in such temperatures is one to two hours, max. She's an inspiring survivor, a medical marvel, and one very lucky young woman!" He turns to me, eyes glowing with generous admiration. "I thank you for coming, Pirio Kasparov. Now tell us what happened out there."
My throat closes up. I feel like bolting off the stage. Talking about the collision is going to be a lot harder than I thought it would be. I look at him in apologetic horror. He slides a microexpression of intense irritation my way. I tell the truth, knowing it sounds like a hedge. "I don't remember much, I'm afraid."

I must be blanching visibly, because Jared Jehobeth intervenes. "Go back to the moments just before the accident. What were you doing?" 

"It felt like...well, first...I was standing in the stern. My friend, Ned Rizzo--"
"The man who died. A father of one, am I right?"
"Yes." I trust Noah's not watching. He doesn't watch much TV, and Jared Jehobeth is not his kind of show, but I told Thomasina to keep him away from the television this morning anyway.
"I was baiting lobster traps. It was very foggy. From where I was standing, I could just make out Ned in the wheelhouse. He was wearing a yellow oilskin. Those things are so bright, You know?..." 
"I stopped baiting when I saw blood oozing from the base of my right thumb. The hinges on the lobster traps are really sharp. I dropped an empty bucket over the stern rail, pulled up seawater, and dipped my hand inside to numb it and make the bleeding stop." I hear myself speaking and am impressed. I sound so competent!
"You must have known that being immersed in water that temperature for even a short period of time was potentially fatal." He is a genius, this man.
"I wasn't thinking about that."
"But you knew."

"Anyway, I was pretty miserable, and the fog made it worse.

I kept peering into it, trying to find the horizon line, but I
could barely see the bow Right before the, uh, collision, everything was quiet--too quiet. I noticed a huge black wall a few feet off the bow, sort of lurking there in the haze. At
first it didn't seem to be moving. Then I realized it was sliding quickly along the starboard side. The next thing I knew the steel hull of huge ship--so high I couldn't see the top--was crushing the gunwale about ten feet from where I stood.
"The deck started cracking under my feet. There was a horrible loud noise. The next thing I knew I was diving over the side. I don't remember being afraid. I was just thinking how unfair it was, that I was already miserable and now I would be soaked."
"What else were you thinking?" Jared asks breathlessly.
I close my eyes and concentrate. "I was thinking...
Don't die, Ned."

North of Boston
By Elisabeth Elo

Most of you know that I love lead characters, both male and female, that are dynamic, action-oriented, and acts on their own to respond to injustice. But this woman, the lead in North of Boston--well, there were several times I just thought she was crazy for getting involved as she did! Of course, I loved her! Especially when she acts in the climax as she did!!! Just a little clue of that at the bottom of today's article...

Pirio Kasparov is her name...I've only ever talked to one Russian--Yuri was from New York...but I could tell that he wasn't the same type of Kasparov, Talanov and others I've met in fiction novels! LOL It appeared that there might be a chance that Elo is planning a sequel or a series...Here's one reader is shouts, YES! Let me tell you a little about the character. 

Pirio's father and mother had started a perfume company and Pirio was one day to take over. Her mother had been the one who was talented in identifying and merging the unique blend of plants that was used. She and Pirio would travel a month each year to a rented cabin and spent the time collecting, identifying and experimenting... But she had died quite some time ago... 

Her father had been so in love, obsessed actually, with his beautiful wife that he really never took time for Pirio, and now, even though he had remarried, everybody knew he was also not in love with her. Pirio and he didn't get along, naturally. Readers will learn of her anguish toward her father and watch as, when he learns he is dying, they attempt to come together... 

Pirio has a long-time friend, who has turned to alcohol, while Thomasina's son is a genius and has captured Pirio's heart as her Godson... It is the never-married father of Noah, Ned, with whom Pirio is out on the ocean, trying to help him, when the collision occurs. Ned is killed and Pirio is miraculously saved after being in the cold water for more hours than it was known possible. Of course, the government soon takes an interest in her and practically demands that, for the good of the country, she undergo a regiment of tests and interviews...

At the same time, while she does work at her family's company, she takes much time off, and gets involved in the investigation as to what ship had been responsible for slicing their fishing boat in half! Of course nobody knows anything and they merely state that more hit-and-run accidents happen on the water than on land... Well, you know what this aggressive, self-confident woman is going to do! She'll find out herself!

But there is somebody else asking questions as well. First he lies, but then Pirio confirms that he is a journalist, but he's also personally involved... At least, now, there are two people sharing the information, because the issue is much larger than one ship and one man being destroyed...

And unfortunately, Noah is right in the middle because his father sent pictures to him, even though nobody knew what they were...

Nothing's out of place; nothing's been moved. The last rays of sun slant through the vertical blinds the way they usually do on a September evening--long, honey-gold beams latticing the rug and coffee table. And yet. Something's off. A subtle scne hangs in the air. Just the merest whiff. A woody smell, but sour. An olfactory note foreign to my apartment...
That's why I'm sure someone's been in my apartment. If they'd stayed a bit longer or been there more recently, I might hazard a few guesses...It's oud wood. Yes, I'm sure of it. Dark, soft, spicy, medicinal. The smell of South Asian religious rituals...You either love oud wood or hate it; and there's no confusing it with anything else.

...I play my favorite jazz pianist, Akiko Grace, and try to relax. But for once the beautiful music doesn't take my mind off my problems....I flash on a vivid image of a guy in a crappy bar, throwing back his boilermaker and laughing like an idiot. So pleased with himself and his sterling career. Thinking he go away with leaving a little fishing boat in splinters and the human beings inside it to bob on the waves in terror until they sank. My hands grip the wheel so tightly that my knuckes whiten. It probably didn't occur to him that anyone would survive...

Fantastic! Exciting and unbelievably horrible scenes as the book moves toward its ending. Like I said, you'll be on the edge of your seat when Pirio runs off on her own and runs right! Action Adventure at its finest! Enjoy!


Elisabeth Elo teaches writing in the Boston area. She lives in Brookline, Massachusetts

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Monday, January 20, 2014

Danish Author Christian Jungersen Presents Puzzling Psychological Drama!

English: Orbital gyrus. 日本語: 眼窩回。前頭葉にある脳回のひとつ。
English: Orbital gyrus. Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The orbitofrontal cortex sits in the very front of the brain, just over the eyes. Some peple with orbitofrontal injuries may exhibit ony a few of the following characteristics, while others develop most of them:

  • lack of empathy for and interest in other people
  • recklessness, tactless behavior, unacceptable sexual advances
  • unnatural jocularity involving trite, childish jokes
  • fearlessness and emotional callousness, with minimal capacity for self-criticism
  • distractibility and a tendency to give up when confronted with any difficulty. These symptoms can manifest themselves without any evident sign of neurological illness, such as paralysis. Moreover, the injured person experiences virtually no sense of being ill. As a consequence, he is completely uninterested in consulting a physicial or psychologist.


You Disappear
Christian Jungersen

If I had never been finally diagnosed with clinical depression as a result of job burnout, I wonder how I would have approached reading this novel, after I had read the blurb... This powerful Medical drama is unsettling, disturbing. It is filled with what happens to each of us when something, within our brain, is hurt--in this case with a tumor... I found, however, that when I read this type of novel, I was looking at all of the activities in relation to the identification of how this individual and their circle of family and friends are affected... When an injury or change to the brain happens, indeed, it is clear that it affects many more individuals than the involved individual

The title tells us exactly what does happen: You Disappear... Oh, you may be physically alive, but something has happened to your emotional everything... It is scary for the individual and confusing to those around, because as indicated above, sometimes the individual does not even understand that they've changed. I was lucky that did not happen to me, but I certainly believe that depression can bring about many similar symptoms, even if the individual is aware, because of the inability to emotionally deal quickly enough to react. 

Five days ago, on the day we were to fly to Majorca,
I stopped on my run along the wooded path beside
Lake Farum, and I gave myself some time to think
about how good my life really is. I walked out on one
of the short piers, and the breeze chilled the sweat
beneath my top. I thought about what has made
these years so different from my life a few years
Out on the lake the water rose in small swells that
weren't actual waves, and the woods on the opposite
bank looked like they'd gone deeper into autumn
that the trees above and behind me. I have a lovely
son and good friends, meaningful work, a house we
are fond of. But I had all of that three years ago
too. The difference--the major, critical difference--
is that now I feel loved.
How many people can say that, that they really
feel loved? It's something I should relish.
Finally, I thought, everything's fallen into place.
And then I continued my run, down the path
through the woods.
There are several issues that I felt were not clearly covered....first, let me introduce the setting and the characters...

Frederik is headmaster of a private school, highly effective respected and committed to the work. In fact, he spends most of his time working. He also had two affairs during that time...

That changed somewhere between 3 and 6 years ago...

Mia and Niklas had been affected by the time loss of husband and father... as are many in families across the world.  When Frederick began to change, it was "for the better" of the family... Because of this, it appears in reading the novel that Mia becomes somewhat abusive, unemotional and unsympathetic... While, instead, she realized that it was "because of" the tumor that Frederick had turned more time toward the family, and less committed to work... To me, this was a very important issue that was not fully discussed/covered so that what happens (a divorce) makes Mia appear to be insensitive...

On the other hand, I realized that other readers may have an entirely difference perspective. But, for me, by the time everything came out, Mia was clearly in depression herself, as was her son... She acknowledged it, but nobody else even thought of their well-being in my opinion.

The key issue was that nobody around the family could or would willingly see that all three needed help!

It was on their vacation that overt actions by Frederik began...specifically, speeding and then an accident that was really the result of his fearlessness.

It was discovered that Frederik had a tumor on part of his brain--the part that affects behavior, for me, is the easiest way to explain it... See above for specific symptoms, etc.

That's is a traumatic discovery, is it not? But that was only the beginning... He had embezzled from the school and had bankrupted them. The school had to close! Of course, everybody who worked there were losing their jobs, their homes, as the law required restitution be made of as much of the millions of crowns as possible. Initially, and in many of the people's minds, Mia was said to have participated and although it was proven that Frederik had signed her name, still people believed that she couldn't possibly have not known. She had not because he was gambling it away...
"Frederik has had the school stand surety for loans worth
twelve million crowns."
"But he can't have!"
"If there's anyone who can, it's him."
"Mia, there's definitely no misunderstanding. And you know
that all too well...
Above my head I hear Benny's voice. "But he did this all before
he became ill. It began more than a year ago."
I get up so quickly that I momentarily lose my balance. "A
year ago?..But back then he was himself!"
I try to make him understand what Laust, Morten, and Benny
said. "It wasn't me." He sighs.
"No, I know that." I sit down again on the edge of the bed
next to his head; his eyes are still closed.
"It's all your doing." He groans.
"The two of you."
"You and Miklas."
"How could we have done anything?"
"You said I couldn't use the computers. So the school
lost the money."
"What the hell are you talking about?"
Frederik secretly borrowed money from the school's
accounts to gamble on international commodity indexes...

A major part of the book illustratively shows how Frederik acted due to the tumor...

At the same time, Mia was encouraged to join a support group and she began to research as much as she could find about what was happening. The book includes excerpts sporadically as if to share what she discovered...  Two things happened that affected Mia's interaction with others, including Frederik. The more she learned, the more she used the correct terminology to state what Frederik was doing wrong. This was helping her since she was the primary caregiver, but his parents and soon everybody was getting resentful of her aggressive accusations of what he was doing that "was not him..."

The other thing was that she was being helped by the group, but fell in love with one of the men who was dealing with his wife's injury. As an aside, I was amazed at some of the statistics and high rate of probable injury in this particular area of the brain... Readers will realize that there are probably many more who act based upon those injuries but nobody realizes that a medical reason is behind their actions! Scary, right? Sad, definitely!

There are so many issues that happen in today's world. An intellectually-based literary novel that explores what happens to people when they realize that somebody they once loved, and to an extent, other lives can lose their free will decision-making ( if we believe that we have it in the first place) is important. The novel elicits all sorts of responses from readers even as we realize that the people involved cannot be held responsible. 

The one thing, however, that remains for me was that the life...before...was not a satisfactory one from Mia and her son's point of view. Doesn't it make you wonder about what is real living? Sure Frederik probably wouldn't have stolen the money, and Mia would never have even met the man she later grew to love. But what is the author saying about life in general when happiness came because of it, rather than the other way around... I found the ending from Frederik's point of view quite ironic, given that he was getting well...  Sooo, for this reason, I was left with questions which, perhaps, have no answers. The family drama in itself, however, is well worth exploration by readers interested in medical-based novels. Certainly is a fascinating and extraordinary story for your consideration...


About the Author

CHRISTIAN JUNGERSEN's first novel, Thickets, won the Best First Novel award in Denmark in 1999 and also became a bestseller. His second novel, The Exception, won two of Denmark's highest literary awards, remained on the country's top-ten bestseller list for an unprecedented eighteen months, and was published in over fifteen countries. Jungersen lives in Dublin, Ireland, but returns frequently to Copenhagen.

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