Sunday, August 31, 2014

Dead Line

Dead Ball
A Lainie Lovett Still Kicking Mystery
Judith Arnold
Bell Bridge Books
Memphis, TN
$ 14.95 Paperback
ISBN: 978-161194412
$ 4.99 Kindle
248 pages

Curiosity is what causes Lainie's problems.  Widowed elementary-school teachers who have a college graduated daughter living back at home and who play soccer with the local women's under-fifty soccer league are not the most likely murder suspects. 
When rain cancels soccer practice, Lainie and a few friends relax at a local pub, the Olde Towne.  What they didn't plan on was seeing a teammate's husband with a young well-endowed blond.  What do you do now?  Do you tell Patty, his wife?  The husband was so engaged with the blond that he did not notice the other women.  What do you do now?
In the past, Patty has stated that if her husband messed around, she would kill him.  Is this premeditated murder?
Arthur Cavanaugh had a dream to develop a new housing development for the wealthy.  The locals have mixed feelings about this new area.  Most realize that the new area should greatly increase the value of their property while also attracting environmentalists due to the destruction of the forested areas and wildlife.
Lainie seems to attract trouble.  When she hears rumors of the possible death, she decides to drive over to the construction site where Arthur was killed.  Unfortunately, the police have not even left the crime scene yet and see her observing from the distance.  Added to that, she meets the foreman of the construction project, Bill Slavik who seems interested in her.  Lainie is interested and agrees to go out with him.  This is her first date since her husband died of cancer.
Arthur was killed at the construction site.  Who would be the likely suspect?  Bill Slavik, the foreman who frequently yelled at the developer or the wife?  Considering the he was killed with a nail gun, who would be your most likely suspect?
When she finds Arthur's phone in her purse, she wisely calls her attorney.  He escorts Lainie to the police to turn in the phone.  How did it get in her purse?
Lainie quickly discovers that this first date and the phone have made her a suspect.  She is arrested as a possible accomplice.  
This creates another problem for Lainie.  Because she is a murder suspect, she is placed on temporary leave from her fourth-grade classroom and because Patty is on the soccer team, she is also temporarily suspended from the team.
What does she do with her extra time?
Why not investigate who really killed Arthur?
Dead Ball is a fast-paced romantic mystery.  Lainie is a delightful protagonist with real-world problems and issues, even if she is a little dense and blind to the obvious.  The supporting characters are varied with their roles in Lainie's life even when adding humor and realism with her Jewish mother-in-law.  The story concludes completely as most romances, almost so nicely that it seems a bit contrived.  Real life usually does not conclude quite so completely.
Judith Arnold has written more than ninety novels and has won numerous awards for her romance novels.  One of her books earned the distinction of being a finalist for the RITA, the Romance Writer's of America while also being the winner of the Reviewer's Choice Awards for R.T. Reviews.  Her novels have won the best Harlequin American Romance Award, as well as the Harlequin Super romance, Harlequin Series Romance, Harlequin Contemporary, and Single Title Romance.  Love in Bloom was considered to be one of the best books of the year by Publishers Weekly.
Dead Ball is a wonderful, fast-paced, cozy, page turner that will keep your interest to the last page.

When a Spider Came to Stay

When a Spider Came to Stay
Author: Rebecca Crosdale
Illustrator: Charles Berton
Create Space Independent Publishing
Amazon Digital
ISBN: 978-14006109010
e-book $ 2.99
Paperback $ 12.99
32 pages

"Along came a spider, who sat down beside her and frightened..."

Those words from the old nursery rhyme have created generations suffering from arachnophobia.  Are spiders really that frightening?   Are they a threat to humans?

Those words have terrified many a child and yes, even adults throughout the year.  Spiders with their wiggly legs, often hairy, and fanged mouths appear frightening.  In reality, most spiders really do not choose to be near humans.   Yes, spiders can appear scary, but most are harmless to humans.   However to insects, they are lethal.

When a Spider Came to Stay separates children's fears from reality.  A girl is sitting quietly in her den with a spider weaving an intricate web in the corner of the room along the ceiling.  After awhile, it quietly descends on a single silken thread to the ground where it approaches the girl and seems to sit beside the chair.  She leans to the opposite arm of the chair actually cowering in the corner of the chair.  In time, she feels a little more comfortable with the creature even attempting to talk and feed the spider.

When a Spider Came to Stay has clear and vividly colorful pictures perfectly matching the text as the girl's curiosity replaces her fear recognizing the beauty and artistry of one-small arachnid's magnificent creation even beginning to slightly alter the perspective from the spider.

With short sentences on each illustrated page, the story moves quickly in the first twenty-six pages.  Additionally there are four pages of questions for teachers and parents leading into the underlying themes not immediately revealed in the story creating a deeper understanding and realization regarding differences and acceptances of others who are different.

The approach of the author regarding fear of the unknown is clever with this parallel story of the spider.  Utilizing people's common misconceptions of ignorance through this delightful tale is a brilliant idea by the author Rebecca Crosdale while also teaching about friendship and courage.

Also unusual and wonderful is that this tale is also published in a simplified version for younger children or for those with special needs entitled The Spider in My Den with Sherry Rose Anderson as the illustrator. 

The Spider Came to Stay is a delightful small book for children of all ages teaching some life lessons for everyone.

The Son

The Son
Jo Nesbo
Translator - Charlotte Barslund
Alfred A. Knopf
Random House
New York, New York
ISBN: 978-0-385-35138-6
$ 25.95
402 pages

Can a confession without evidence convict someone of murder?
Sonny Lofthus is in prison in Norway for committing two murders.  Naturally many felons continually profess their own innocence but how often do other convicts believe in another inmate's innocence?
For Sonny, this unique situation of respect also appears to have given him healing hands capable of mending the broken souls of these imprisoned souls.  The cost of this service is to keep him supplied with enough heroin so that he stays high.  Yes within prison walls, all the inmates and the staff manage to keep Sonny content.
However, Sonny really is innocent of these two murders.  Was his confession years ago worth the way he lives now?
Sonny's father as a policeman, appeared to be deeply involved in corruption.  He killed himself, or did he?  With new information, he questions the truth about his father.  Was he set up?
He realizes that within the prison walls, he cannot discover the truth.  With help, Sonny manages to successfully escape.   On a personal quest to exonerate his father and to discover the truth, Sonny needs to stay ahead of law enforcement and those you do not want their secrets revealed.
The Son is an unusual mystery separating the law from justice.   What is right when the law is mistaken or corrupt?     
From the law enforcement perspective, Chief Inspector Simon Kefas with a new inexperienced partner are investigating a murder and the likely suspect is Sonny.  What isn't clear is how Sonny is somehow connected to the death.   Could he be innocent and because he is escaped, he is just the most likely suspect?  Simon, coincidentally was the partner of Sonny's father, Ab.  A part of Simon wants to save Sonny while also he realizes his commitment to enforce the law.
Added to Simon's conflict, is the personal problem of his wife going blind.   As an addicted gambler, there is no money that  creating is needed for her to travel to the States for surgery to save her sight.   When money is offered, can he accept it to save his wife and what is expected of him in return?
The Son is a standalone novel and is not in the Harry Hole series.  As with Nesbo's other books, this book was originally written in Norwegian and then translated into English and whether it is the writing or the translating, The Son is an enticing and enthralling tale that is graphically violent, although not as dark as Nesbo's other novels. What is unique about The Son is the internal conflicts of each character and each other creating fluctuating between being protagonists and antagonists.
Viewing the escaped murderer who seeks justice and truth creates hope in this conflicted tale.
The author, Jo Nesbo resides in Norway working as a songwriter, musician, economist as well as the award winning author for the Glass Key which is given for the best Nordic crime novel.
For a different type of mystery with realistically human characters, read The Son.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Echoes in the Night


Echoes in the Night
B. J. Betts
Tornado Alley Publication
e-book $ 2.99
Paperback $ 9.99
ISBN: 972-1500370060
168 pages

Twin brothers, Mathew and Marcus Manning grew up as each other's shadow in their home town of Council Bluffs, Iowa.  Being the neighborhood football heroes, they were naturally popular with dreams of college until they received their draft notices.  In 1967  the draft was active.  Even with the prospect of college, if your birthday was on one of the first chosen days of the federal lottery, then you were to be in service to your country in the army.
The brothers realized that their senior prom was their last teenaged celebration without parental supervision..  They were to report to active duty training immediately after graduation.  For most eighteen-year-olds, the destination was Viet Nam.
In 1968 Matthew returned home to bury his brother.  The two had maintained their closeness while being together in the same unit.   For one brother to arrive at home alive and the other in a coffin, created an immense burden of guilt for the surviving twin, Matt.  Could he have prevented his brother from being killed?  Why was his brother dead and not him?
Fighting in Viet Nam during the time of the TET Offensive of 1968 was one of the most gruesome in any battle history.  The fighting on foreign soil was completely different from life in the U.S.
"No cigarettes from this point on. No bug repellent.  No fires.  The Viet Cong can smell you coming for miles.  Take pieces of masking tape and wind it around your dog tags." 
Added to these basic instructions were the heat and humidity, bugs, poisonous snakes that could kill within seconds, elephant grass which could hide your enemy, and rip palm which had razor sharp leaves that could easily rip their clothes and skin.  The constant challenge of helping people who could be your best friend one minute and your enemy, attempting to kill you was a reality difficult for eighteen-year-old boys fighting as men.
This is Matt's story as he reflects on the past few years attempting to understand his brother's secrets and to attempt to deal with his own post traumatic stress of fighting in a war while dealing with his own guilt of living.
The Viet Nam War was a time of extreme division within our country and B. J. Betts perfectly understands being a teenager at the time reflecting the thoughts and perspectives of the time.   Living in the city of Council Bluffs, Iowa, Betts creates a picture of the city and life during that time period.
The characterization in Echoes in the Night is phenomenal.   Seeing the story through Matthew's eyes, while also having the story unfold from his perspective create a multi-dimensional protagonist frequently confronting the shallow-minded former girlfriend antagonist.  
Echoes in the Night moves quickly as a romantic novel involving real situations from the Viet Nam War era. 
B. J. Betts writes of her home town and a time that truly impacted her life forever.  Her previously published novel, Saigon Moon, is to be re-released in August through Tornado Alley Publications.  She is an active member of Romance Writers of America and Romance Authors of the Heartland.
Echoes in the Night is a journey back to the Viet Nam War era by an author who thoroughly understands those who fought as well as those who waited for their return.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Under the Cajun Moon

Under the Cajun Moon
Mindy Starns Clark
Harvest House Publishers
Eugene, Oregon
ISBN: 978-0-7369-2624-9
$ 13.99
332 pages

"You know all the etiquette in the world, cher, but if you use it to make a person feel small, then I hate to tell you, that's not good manners.  Not at all.  That's just ugly.

Chloe is an expert in the field of international business etiquette can make a person appear a little "stuffy". Emily Post was well-respected years ago, but was she a popular person that people would want to be around?   More than likely, probably not.  

While being interviewed for a local television program, a phone call from home is answered  by Chloe's assistant.   As soon as she is off camera, she is informed that her father is hospitalized and in has been shot.  Who would shoot her father?  Is he alive? 

Her assistant immediately arranges for her to fly to New Orleans to be with her father.  Chloe planned to immediately take a taxi to the hospital, but her mother calls to insist that she go to her father's restaurant to sign some papers.  Since she has power-of-attorney, now that her father's life in endanger, he insists that these papers must be signed immediately.  What can be more important than his life?

When Chloe arrives at the restaurant, she is surprised to find the son of her father's lawyer.  Apparently he inherited the law firm after his father's death.   She is slightly surprised but notices that he is an attractive and personable attorney and the restaurant is providing their meal while Chloe signs the forms.  This has become a wonderful evening even though she does feel guilty about not being at the hospital.

Chloe is shocked to awaken in a hotel room.  The lawyer from last night is in the next room, dead.  How did she get here?  What really happened?  It looks like she scratched the lawyer as one of her fingernails is broken and the police believe that she could have murdered him. 

Who knew where she was?  What did she actually sign for her father?  Why would someone frame her for murder?  Did she kill the lawyer?

Under the Cajun Moon is a well-written page turner set in New Orleans intermixing the mystery of the dead lawyer, the shooting of Chloe's father, the mysterious form signed by Chloe, while also referring back Cajun history into a wonderful story with a little romance, a dash of Christianity, and greed.   The story is exceptional well-planned with the purpose and culprit not being revealed until the very end.  This is not an easy story to predict the ending.

Mindy Starns Clark's books are wonderful books to read with roller-coaster adventures into a delightful mystery.

Windmaster's Bane

Windmaster's Bane
Tom Deitz
Untreed Reads
ISBN: 978--16118-76864
e-book $ 5.99
Originally published in 1986 by Avon Books
$ 17.99
378 pages

"Things have power because you give them power."

For David Sullivan life would be perfect if he could just have the time to read his books.  He loves the Celtic tales of faeries with the Irish legends of years ago.  In real life, he is a teenager who has grown-up on his family farm so there are endless chores and just not enough time to be with his friends and to read.

While reading a book about the Sidhe, the Irish Faeries, he accidentally spoke aloud a chant which enabled him to see into a parallel world, the world of the faeries who are currently on the family land.  At first he is confused about why others, especially his friends Alec and Liz, are not seeing this alternate reality, but then he realizes that this is a gift only for him.   How do your friends react with your viewing of the alternate world?   Obviously, with disbelief.

Viewing two worlds overlapping can be a problem, especially when David's uncle is shot by a faery arrow.  To the human world, it appears as if he had a heart attack or stroke since the arrow is only visible to David.  How can he save his uncle when no one else believes or sees it?
However, his mother is convinced that something horrible is happening when David's little brother is kidnapped and a changeling is left in his place.  She knows that this creature is not her child. 

For legends in the Appalachian Mountains about Irish faeries to exist in present day Georgia, is not unusual.  The heritage and traditions of the settlers merged in the New World with the culture of the Cherokee who traced much of their legends back to the year 1170.  This was supposedly the time of Prince Madoc of Wales who permanently settled with those living in the present area of Alabama creating the tales of the moon-eyed people.

Windmaster's Bane is David's encounter with the legendary Sighe complete with the evil Aihill who even as a faerie is determined to kill David.  Using the knowledge in his books and sticking to the principles of Earth and Water, Fire and Air, and Time, David learns about trusting his friends and himself.  Through a test of his courage, David learns of the responsibility and trust of others in his life.

Windmaster's Bane is a delightful adventure for readers of all ages.  The pace is quick with believable characters in this quest of truth and courage, as well as being a heart-warming tale by a masterful storyteller.

The only complaint I have with this wonderful novel is the cover which is not a true depiction of the story.

The author, Tome Deitz was a native of Young Harris, Georgia.  He studied medieval English literature at the University of Georgia earning both his Bachelor and Masters of Arts degrees.  He was a professor of English at Gainesville State College.  He died in 2009 still dreaming of someday owning a small castle in Ireland.

For a wonderful tale, read Windmaster's Bane.   You might want to keep you own rune stick made of iron and ash near as a precaution.

Daughters of the Dragon

Daughters of the Dragon: A Comfort Woman's Story
William Andrews
MADhouse Press
Minneapolis, MN
ISBN: 978-0-9913958-5-9
Trade Paperback
$ 12.99
339 pages

"It is your fear that will prevent you from becoming who you are meant to be."

Being a Korean child adopted into a Caucasian household, Anna frequently felt that she did not belong.  People would make comments to her parents while her parents always insisted that they were a "real" family beautifully showing their unconditional love to their daughter.  Anna realized that the parents who raised her and were completely devoted to her but she always wondered about her "birth" parents.

After completing three years at Northwestern, Anna still didn't have a major.  When her mother
passed away from pancreatic cancer, she dropped out of college due to money and her lack of focus.  She decided to visit Korea to find her "birth" family and her father insisted on accompanying her on this journey.

Anna's first stop was an orphanage which unfortunately had no information to assist her.  With feelings of defeat, leaving the orphanage was disappointing.  When an elderly woman approached her, forcing a small package into her hands explaining in English that she needed to meet with her at an address inside the package to tell her a story.

This story and the package were to change Anna's life forever. 

The story started in 1943 when Korea was again occupied by the Japanese being subjected to their rule.  Two sisters, Ja-hee and Soo-hee had grown up living and working on their family farm.  With the Japanese occupation, their father was forced to leave the home a year ago to work for the war effort in a steel mill.  Now the family received orders for the two girls to also leave for another town to work in a boot factory.  Their mother was realistic enough to know that she would likely never see her daughters again.  Soo-hee, the older sister was given a family heirloom, a two-headed dragon comb with five toes.  

This begins the story of the comb and the two sisters.

With Ja-hee being only fourteen-years-old the reality was shocking.  There was no boot factory.  These young teens were to be comfort women, meeting the sexual desires of the Japanese soldiers.  If they refused or caused problems, they were killed. 

Even surviving this time, these women were further condemned by society throughout their entire lives. 

William Andrews has written a poignant, heart-wrenching fictional tale based on the many stories of comfort women.   He beautifully found a true voice for both Anna and Ja-hee making the reader feel as if they are the character.

His initial motivation stemmed from his daughter who he adopted from Korea.  He superbly interviewed former comfort women and is committed to telling their story as they weekly protest in Korea outside the Japanese Embassy requesting acknowledgment of the atrocity and an apology.

Daughters of the Dragon won the IPPY (Independent Publishers Book Award) in the historical fiction genre for 2014.  He also won the Mayhaven Award for his novel, The Essential Truth.

Daughters of the Dragon is a story about humanity educating readers in an effort to never allow history to repeat itself.   In every war there are numerous perspectives which we have no idea of how they were involved with a conflict and to understand point-of-view.   All of these are needed to truly understand any war.

One of the best written, enticing, intriguing novels I have ever read is Daughters of the Dragon.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014


Stillwell: A Haunting on Long Island
Michael Phillip Cash
Red Feather Publishing
New York, New York
ISBN: 978-1484196090
$ 12.99
232 pages

Any young family with one parent suffering from cancer has immense challenges that few people can really comprehend.  Sometimes just maintaining a career, a marriage, and raising three children is overwhelming.
For Paul Russo, this is his life.
Paul has been a successful real estate agent in the Long Island area.  Fortunately, his financial situation is healthy enough that he can take off time to be with his dying wife.  However, a year with cancer treatments, death, and three children can be taxing on anyone financially, physically, and most of all, emotionally.
His wife, Allison was diagnosed a year ago with a brain tumor.  Keeping a household running smoothly usually fell on Allison's shoulders, but now Paul must do everything possible to keep the family together.   Allison and Paul were blessed with the twins, Jesse and Veronica and their younger sibling, Stella.   Without Allison, Paul knows that he must return to work while helping each of the children and himself through their grief.  He quickly realizes that to meet everyone's needs, including his own, this seems like a never-ending insurmountable task.
Not being active in real estate for the past year has made it more difficult to work with new listings and fortunately an old friend contacts Paul about selling their 200-year-old family mansion name Stillwell.   With a phenomenal location but the house not in the best of condition. He quickly wonders if this is a blessing or a curse especially when he hears the rumors about the house being haunted due to two tragic deaths. 
How do you sell a haunted mansion?  If he is able to accomplish this sale, at least this would solve his current financial issues.
Stillwell does more than just haunt the locals.  The house haunts Paul and his children in their dreams causing them not to be able to eat or sleep.  In the nightmares, a demon is holding Allison's spirit as hostage.  What is strange is how much Allison resembled one of the tragic residents from years ago.  How do you stop this nighttime haunting of the minds?
Stillwell is considered to be a horror story, but in reality, it is a well-written story of love and caring.  The strength of this novel is its phenomenal grasp of the characterization.  Each person is realistic with daily struggles looking for any positive aspect in their lives as they move through their grief. 
Michael Phillip Cash grew up and continues to live in his beloved Long Island creating wonderful horror stories that are more than blood and gore but show the best of humanity.
Stillwell won the award of being a finalist in horror by ForeWard Reviews in 2013.  However, this is much more than a horror story, this is a human story of grief, caring, and love that is an outstanding novel by the masterful storyteller, Michael Phillip Cash.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

When Dreams are Calling

When Dreams are Calling
Carol Vorvain
Amazon Digital Services
ISBN: 978-97301-66255
$ 16.50
238 pages

"And this is a story about change: What it brings into our lives and what it takes out of it; a story about pain, disappointment, frustration, loss but also about courage, love, lust, faith and kindness, a story about dreams and our power to make them come true.
The story of a permanent traveler."

When Dreams are Calling is the loosely based  events of author, Carol Vorvain who recorded her dreams, wishes, desires, and travels into this book in the hopes of letting others learn of the life lessons which guided her.

Growing up in Romania, Dora learned numerous lessons while discovering that her day-to-day life wasn't fulfilling her dreams.  She made the choice to relocate to Canada, completely packing up her life in pursuit of a possible new career, a new life, and hopefully a new love.    Quickly she learned that moving does not always solve all your problems and challenges, as this move became only the first, but not the last time of completely relocating in another country.

"Grandma told me loneliness is a demon that blinds your eyes, petrifies your hear and kills your spirit."    These wise words guide Dora as she searches for whatever she feels is missing in her life without really understanding what that is.

All of us have made numerous mistakes and some hasty choices throughout our pasts which have taught us some lessons about life while at the same time helping up to develop our own character and learning to define who we have become and why.  

For Dora, her life appears to be exciting to outsiders.  Sometimes it really is but at other times, she realizes that her current situation is not what she really wants.   Added to that, she is uncertain of what she really wants.

What makes Dora different from most of us is that she doesn't just dream of relocating, she actually completely moves to another country immersing herself in the country with her job or career as well as the people.  During her travels though, she learns numerous lessons which are listed after each short adventure. 

Some of these lessons involve love and attempting to find the balance between loneliness from the lack of love as compared to love that is suffocating overwhelming every breath.    She always realizes and values the importance of books in her life as guides through her dreams and reality.  Also well-stated are learning the differences between adapting and belonging.

Many of the lessons learned in this small novel are from the voice of knowledge and experience.
For example, "Nobody remembers your mistakes better than your child, followed closely by your spouse."   When reminded of my past errors, I usually turn my failures into a lesson for them to learn from my mistakes so that you can completely own your own mistakes.

What motivates someone to completely uproot themselves to another country?  
Read When Dreams are Calling.

What is one book you can read that might help you learn from other's mistakes so that you can completely make your own creative errors of life?   Read When Dreams are Calling.


Ted Bell
William Morrow
Harper Collins Publishers
New York, New York
ISBN: 978-0-227938-5
$ 27.99
467 pages

"We dance not only to a different drummer, but to an entirely different orchestra."

These are the words of Lord Alexander Hawke, British counterspy, and fictional hero of the novels written by action and adventure author, Ted Bell.  Lord Hawke does not always play by the rules.  He understands that frequently the rules or the drumbeat need to be changed to accomplish what needs to be done.   This requires a close-knit group of friends and acquaintances who realize the dangers to themselves and others, while at the same time valuing the respect and expertise of each person.  Lord Hawke is the one person who can get done what needs to be done.

When a brilliant scientist working at Cambridge University is tortured to death by ancient and little known Chinese methods, who can discover the reason he was killed, why, and who would actually be capable of this?  

When the President of the United States dies and those burying him at Arlington Cemetery are attacked by a drone, who investigates this crime?  Who would have the nerve?   Who would want to purposefully start a war?

Are these two events connected?  

A brilliant military technician and inventor is celebrating a family birthday when both parents and their two children mysteriously disappear.  Where are they?   Are the wife and children being used to control the scientist, forcing him to work against his own country by threatening his family?

Warriors is the story surrounding all these events into the fast-paced action/adventure tale of Lord Hawke and his staff revolving around the idea of China having the next level of technical military advancements bringing about a new world dominance with the countries of the United States and England having no idea of how to protect or defend against these new weapons.   With the persistent race of newer and better military technology, the idea of the United States no longer being the dominant power, definitely is unsettling.

Warriors is lightning-paced with hardly a second to breathe from page to page.  The characters of previous Ted Bell novels unite in Warriors with two new characters introduced.  Because of this, the novel spends time developing the new characters and expects the reader to know the recurring ones including their personal relations and friendships.   I would recommend to someone who has not read Ted Bell books, to read at least two of his many earlier books before reading Warriors.

Warriors is a fast-paced, action-adventure thriller for all those who enjoy breath-taking escapades barely squeaking by with their lives.

The Quick

The Quick
Lauren Owen
Random House
New York, New York
ISBN: 978-0-8129-9327-1
544 pages

Surprisingly, most people have some knowledge about vampires.   For being fictional characters, in general, we have common "facts" about their existence such as their aversion to silver and holy water and that they must be "invited" into a residence.  For creatures that do not exist, we certainly do have quite a bit of knowledge.
What if there is some truth to their existence?   Wouldn't that be more sensible?   Is the idea of a vampire all legend, or is there some small grain of truth?
In the last part of the nineteenth century much of England was beginning to change.  Many families who had inherited grand estates were beginning to feel the financial pinch of daily upkeep for appearances of grandeur.  
For Charlotte and James Norbury, this was true as they spent much of their childhood isolated at the crumbling family estate outside of London.   Charlotte being older, took it upon herself to educate her younger brother since they were motherless and their father was frequently absent only coming home to die.
Fortunately, James was able to attend Oxford and discovered a love for reading and writing poetry.  However, poets do not usually profit financially.   While attending a play in London, James saw the brilliance of Oscar Wilde and immediately dreamed of becoming a playwright.
Dreams don't pay bills.
James was fortunate in that a friend of his knew of an aristocrat who was looking for a roommate.  It seemed the perfect solution.  This new acquaintance though opened James to the world of the upper echelon of people who are not always as sincere as they seem.  Besides that, there are numerous secrets that are intriguing to his natural curiosity.
When James no longer answers the letters from his sister, Charlotte, she waits for quite some time until she decides that she must go to London to find, or rescue, her little brother.   What she didn't plan on finding were the back alleys where the notorious Jack the Ripper was becoming infamous.
The Quick is an unusual novel in that the paranormal almost sneaks into the story without being obvious.  Charlotte's search for her brother is the basic thrust of the novel catapulting the naïve spinster into the dark back streets with the corrupted, immoral and poor people of the time intertwining vampires and the undead into the mix.
In much the same unsettled style of Erin Morgenstern's The Night Circus, The Quick is a haunting tale.   Except for Charlotte, most of the characters are realistically flawed and not likable.  The writing style is at times rambling, but there is an unusual undercurrent that keeps the story flowing and making it impossible to put down.
The Quick is a haunting tale with a fresh twist making this story memorable.