Poisons and Mummies

Of the next group of books, there were three I hadn’t read before, with one of those authors also being new to me, and the other two old favorites. One book I had read before, multiple times, although I’ve read nothing else by that author. And one book I think I’d read before, from an author I’ve read many times. Confused yet?

The new-to-me book and author was Poison Study, by Maria V. Snyder. Can I just say that I really, really liked this book? It’s a couple of years old, and I’m pretty sure there’s at least one sequel already out (yes, I must get it). It’s about Yelena, who is about to be executed for murder. At the last minute, she’s offered a choice: execution or to become food taster for the Commander (a position also fraught with danger, since the Commander is a political target). Not only is she in danger in her new position, the chief of security gives her Butterfly Dust, a strong poison that she must have the antidote to each morning (Oh, Ms. Snyder, you are so cruel to your characters! I love it!). Add all this to the fact that someone in the castle is spying on the Commander, the father of the man she killed is out to get her, and she’s unexpectedly developing magical powers she can’t control (and in a land where magic is outlawed, no less), and you see just how interesting this book is. From the first page, I was hooked.

Let’s see, the book I think I’d read before, from an author I’d read many times was Godplayer, by Robin Cook. I was a little dissatisfied with this story, but I think it’s because it was already familiar to me. I’ve read Robin Cook many times before, and have usually enjoyed the stories. This one’s about an intern, married to a renowned surgeon, who works in a hospital where post-op patients are dying mysteriously. She gets involved in trying to figure out the cause, and then tragedy strikes her own life, and she also ends up in the hospital herself. Lots of drama and conflict, especially between her and her husband.

I read Blaze, by Richard Bachman (or, as the whole world knows him: Stephen King). First of all, sometimes I wonder about Mr. King’s sanity. Now, I think I’ve read pretty much everything ever written by him except for Rose Madder (somehow, I’ve never been able to make myself pick this one up). And, like a lot of other people, The Stand is my favorite of his novels. I’ve even read most of the Bachman books (and if you’re looking for a real head trip, read The Regulators and Desperation back-to-back. You’ll start to question your own sanity.) But Blaze is something else entirely. I picked it up at about 10 p.m., and finished it a little after midnight that same night. No sleeping ’til I found out what happened. Clay Blaisdell and George Rackley are long-time partners in crime who’ve planned the perfect crime: kidnapping the infant heir in a wealthy family. George is the smart guy in the partnership, but there’s one little problem: by the time the kidnapping goes down, George has been dead for several months. So Clay’s on his own. Except he’s not, since he keeps hearing George’s voice telling him what to do.

I read The Keepsake, by Tess Gerritsen. Loved it. I’m a fan of hers, and I’ve liked all of her books, but I really enjoyed this one. It combines two of my favorite things to read about: forensics and archeology. The string of murder victims in this story have all been preserved rather uniquely, with ancient techniques (including one mummy). And there’s something weird about Josephine Pulcillo’s past that the archeologist doesn’t want the cops to know about. Again, I read this straight through and could not put it down. Jane Rizzoli and Maura Isles are big players in this one, too, and they’re as fun as always.

Last up in this group is Link, by Walt Becker. Okay, I’ve read this book at least three times previously, and it always fascinates the heck out of me. Again, it has archeology in it. And it’s about the missing link, something else that’s always interested me. Although the missing link in this book is a little unexpected, and it becomes the biggest find in archeological history. Now, I know some of the stuff in this book isn’t quite realistic, but the references the author uses are realistic, and basically blew my mind. The Nephilim are in this book (and yes, that’s how I came to be interested in them years ago and writing about them for NaNo this year). But the author talks about the Piri Reis map, the flood legends in countless cultures all over the world (It’s not just Noah’s Ark, people.), as well as the precise calculations used by many different and varied cultures. Every time I read this, I end up on an internet tangent, looking this stuff up. It’s just beyond interesting to me.

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