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The Bibliophile Presents: Reading New (To Me) Authors Part 5

Until now there has been a fair dollop of estrogen in the books I’ve reviewed, but this book is one the guys out there can appreciate.

The Alexander Cipher by Will Adams. Sometimes I want an intricate mystery with interesting, complex characters. Other times, I just want an adventure. The Alexander Cipher is a mystery adventure and, even when the characters aren’t complex, they are interesting—I like to think of it as win-win reading. I suppose the easiest description of the story’s style is to say that it is what you might expect from Dan Brown if he wrote about archeology rather than symbology, however, unlike Dan Brown this story produces female characters who have more to offer the story than just a bod that won’t quit. Our hero and protagonist, Daniel Knox is a slightly disgraced Egyptologist who has a knack for pissing people off. Most recently, he has seriously annoyed a very successful thug who has connections all over Egypt. Knox also has a knack for Egyptology and for surviving situations that probably would have killed a lesser protagonist, which is handy when there are so many people who want to kill him that they have to take turns. The story has several interweaving plotlines that buzz through the search, and possible discovery, of the legendary final resting place of Alexander the Great. The first book in the Daniel Knox series, The Alexander Cipher is a fun, modern-day Indiana Jones story complete with true-believer bad guys, and roguish good guys. It is the kind of book you want to read while you’re on the beach sipping lemonade.

*Tomorrow I’ll be reviewing Reservations for Murder by Tim Myers, a tale of murder at an inn that has a lighthouse and is nowhere near a body of water.

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Posted by on June 17, 2010 in Books, Lifestyle

 

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The Bibliophile Presents: Reading New (To Me) Authors Part 4

There are some suspiciously bright spots in the sky today and I think it might be sunlight. Hard to tell, it has been awhile. Today’s book starts out with a late season snow storm in late 1890s New York City and it’s conclusion happens in a thunderstorm. Makes the book sound a bit melodramatic, and it is (just a smidge), but somehow Victoria Thompson makes it work. Probably helps that she has given the story a likable protagonist and shows that her characters are capable of growth.

Murder on Astor Place by Victoria Thompson. When I started reading Murder on Astor Place I was encouraged to see how many books there were in the series for two reasons: 1) if Thompson was a crappy writer the publisher wouldn’t keep publishing her work, and 2) if I liked the book I would have plenty of future reading material. Sarah Brandt, Thompson’s protagonist, is a midwife in late 19th century New York City. In the course of her work as a midwife she runs across a murder and meets Detective Frank Malloy. Sarah and Frank are nothing alike and can barely tolerate each other (she’s a little like a baby-delivering/sleuthing Dolly Levi and he’s a jaded Irish police officer), so, it seems likely that they will eventually fall in love in future books. But for now, they combine forces to solve a crime that takes them into the twisted heart of one of New York’s wealthiest families. Sarah, our midwife and sleuth, is in a unique position to help solve the crime because she too is from one of the wealthiest, most influential old families in New York. With a lesser writer, Sarah Brandt’s choice to forgo her family’s wealth and position for the independence of having her own career would feel contrived, but Thompson gives Sarah a back-story that helps to make Sarah’s choice feel plausible. I liked the main characters and I plan to spend a lot more time with them in the dirty, violent, and class-divided New York of the 1890s.

*Tomorrow we totally ditch the Victorian world and head to present-day Egypt with Will Adams’ book The Alexander Cipher.

 
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Posted by on June 16, 2010 in Books, Lifestyle

 

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