Gerry B's Book Reviews

The Butcher’s Son (A Dick Hardesty Mystery #1) by Dorien Grey

In the style of Mickey Spillane –

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Click on  the above cover to purchse.

Click on the above cover to purchse.

Story blurb: Dick Hardesty is pressed into service when someone starts burning down gay bars all over town and the police chief (nicknamed ‘the butcher’) shrugs the whole thing off. Then drag queens and female impersonators get into the act and Dick is required to sleuth out who is hot and who is not.

Also available in audio-book format.

About the author: If it is possible to have a split personality without being schizophrenic, Dorien Grey qualifies. When long-time book and magazine editor Roger Margason chose the pseudonym “Dorien Grey” for his first book, it set off a chain of circumstances which has led to the comfortable division of labor and responsibility. Roger has charge of day-to-day existence, freeing Dorien—with the help of Roger’s fingers—to write. It has reached the point where Roger merely sits back and reads the stories Dorien brings forth on the computer screen.

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Review by Gerry Burnie

I’m feeling lazy this week, so it’s time to dip into my reserve pile of authors and books that ‘go without saying.’

Dorien Grey is one such author, and the introduction to his Dick Hardesty series, The Butcher’s Son [Untreed Reads, January 20, 2015], is the novel I have chosen.

As I have implied above, you really can’t go wrong with a Dorien Grey novel. The plot is generally clever, with well-conceived twists and turns, and his insightful witticisms are scattered like pearls along the way, i.e. “The voice was warm, sincere, and confident – the kind of voice that makes me want to check and see if my wallet’s still there.” For those of you who share my vintage, this line could be right out of the style of Mickey Spillane.

High praise indeed, for in my opinion the really good, popular mystery-writer’s craft, ended with him.

In this story, Hardesty is hired by a rather pretentious PR firm to ‘package’ a homophobic cop seeking election to the governor’s mansion. Quite a package, since this cop’s background includes a gay son who was murdered for his gayness, and another son who is a hell-fire-and-brimstone preacher dead set against homosexuals.

The ‘hell fire’ in this case starts seeping out to burn some of the most popular gay bars in town, and so Hardesty is drawn in to investigating these occurrences as well.

Not surprisingly, the cop and his son are prima facie suspects, and so the juxtaposition of Hardesty the PR person, and Hardesty the sleuth, forms an interesting twist to the story.

Masterfully written, as one might expect, I rate it as four and one-half bees.

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Interested in Canadian history?

Want to learn more? Then visit my new page:  In Praise of Canadian History.  It is a collection of people, facts and events in Canadian history, and includes a bibliography of interesting Canadian books as well. Latest post: Jay Silverheels – a.k.a. “Tonto”

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February 23, 2015 Posted by | Dick Hardesty Series, Dorien Grey, Fiction, Gay fiction, Gay mystery | 3 Comments

The Academician (Southern Swallow #1) by Edward C. Patterson

A credible plunge backward in time to an intriguing realm –

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Click on the above cover to purchase.

Click on the above cover to purchase.

“A bigger fool the world has never known than I – a coarse fellow with no business to clutch a brush and scribble. I only know the scrawl, because my master took pleasure in teaching me between my chores. Not many men are so cursed . . .” Thus begins the tale of Li K’ai-men as told by his faithful, but mischievous servant, K’u Ko-ling – a tale of 12th Century China, where state service meant a life long journey across a landscape of turmoil and bliss. A tale of sacrifice, love, war and duty – a fragile balance between rituals and passions. Here begins the legacy of the Jade Owl and its custodian as he holds true to his warrants. The Academician is the first of four books in the Southern Swallow series, capturing the turbulence of the Sung Dynasty in transition. Spanning the silvery days under the Emperor Hui to the disasters that followed, The Academician is a slice of world events that should never have been forgotten.

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Review by Gerry Burnie

I am always in the search of a unique story, that is a story or setting that is off the beaten path, and The Academician (Southern Swallow #1) by Edward C. Patterson has both.

Set in 12th century China, which in itself is unique enough, The Academician is also chock full of unique characters who, in their variety, resemble a Chinois tapestry of the same period.

The story of Li K’ai-men begins as a brilliant student, top of his class, who is challenged by his renowned master, Han Lin, to fulfill a number of missions. This he does successfully, and as a result he is elevated to the position of superintendent of Su Chou. Again, he proves his metal by restoring this neglected province to its former prosperity, which in turn catches the attention of the emperor himself. Li then finds himself tutor to the emperor’s son and prince of the realm.

Of course, the history of Imperial China is fraught with wars and political unrest, and in the midst of this Li K’ai-men must protect his young protégé, the prince, and also the secrets surround the legendary Jade Owl relics.

Told from the point of view of K’u Ko-ling, Li’s faithful servant, this is a credible plunge backward in time to encompass 12th-century China with remarkable detail.

The writing is first rate, of course, but what really stands out for me is the strong character development that captures the essence of the time.

Highly recommended. Five bees.

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Viewers to Gerry B’s Book Reviews – 76,148

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Interested in Canadian history?

Want to learn more? Then visit my new page:  In Praise of Canadian History.  It is a collection of people, facts and events in Canadian history, and includes a bibliography of interesting Canadian books as well. Latest post: Black History settlement in Canada – A commemoration of Black History Month.

 

Click on the logo to learn about my books to datre

Click on the logo to learn about my books to datre

Thank you for your interest, and my apologies for not responding to your request individually. I’m getting there, but the numbers have been overwhelming. Please extend your patience just a bit longer. Thanks again!

Thanks for dropping by! I’ll have another novel ready for next week, same URL, so drop back then.

 

 

 

February 16, 2015 Posted by | China, Fiction, fiction/autobiographical, Gay fiction, Historical Fiction, Historical period | Leave a comment

Wounded, by Percival Everett

A story of ‘fight or flight,’ and how one man chose to deal with it.

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click on the above cover to purchase.

click on the above cover to purchase.

Training horses is dangerous–a head-to-head confrontation with a 1,000 pounds of muscle and little sense takes courage, but more importantly patience and smarts. It is these same qualities that allow John and his uncle Gus to live in the beautiful high desert of Wyoming. A black horse trainer is a curiosity, at the very least, but a familiar curiosity in these parts. It is the brutal murder of a young gay man, however, that pushes this small community to the teetering edge of fear and tolerance.

As the first blizzard of the season gains momentum, John is forced to reckon not only with the daily burden of unruly horses, a three-legged coyote pup, an escape-artist mule, and too many people, but also a father-son war over homosexuality, random hate-crimes, and—perhaps most frightening of all–a chance for love.

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Review by Gerry Burnie

What is our responsibility toward those around us? That is the thought provoking question asked by Wounded, by Percival Everett [Graywolf Press; 2 edition, September 13, 2011].

Set in the ‘high desert’ region of Wyoming, and narrated by the principal character, John Hunt, this is a book of many colours: Western genre, racial and sexual intolerance, inner reflection, and social injustice.

Hunt is a Black, Berkley graduate, with an appreciation for modern art, and subsequent to the accidental death of his wife, six years previous, he has taken up the training of horses with his acerbic Uncle Gus. As such, the colour of his skin is of little consequence until other issues arise alongside of it.

A young man he has hired becomes accused of a Mathew-Sheppard-like murder of a gay man, and at first Hunt withdraws in fear of a prejudicial backlash. Nevertheless, when the accused man eventually hangs himself inside the jail cell, Hunt has reason to question his conscience.

Matters become more complex when the gay son of an old friend arrives on the scene with his lover – a gay activist intent on protesting the senseless murder.

Caught somewhat in the middle, Hunt can no longer step aside, and is therefore forced to confront some difficult questions regarding himself and the rising question his sexuality.

Returning to the opening question, this is a story of ‘fight or flight,’ and how one man chose to deal with it. The racial element was a refreshing perspective, but I am gratified that Everett did not dwell on it as the main theme. Like the angst in homosexuality, it is an aspect that has been work to the limit.

Altogether, an interesting read with strong characters and some unique plot elements. Four bees.

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Viewers to Gerry B’s Book Reviews – 76,005

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Interested in Canadian history?

Want to learn more? Then visit my new page:  In Praise of Canadian History.  It is a collection of people, facts and events in Canadian history, and includes a bibliography of interesting Canadian books as well. Latest post: Black History settlement in CanadaA commemoration of Black History Month.

 

Click on the logo to learn about my books to datre

Click on the logo to learn about my books to datre

Notice to all those who have requested a book review Thank you for your interest, and my apologies for not responding to your request individually. I’m getting there, but the numbers have been overwhelming. Please extend your patience just a bit longer. Thanks again!

Thanks for dropping by! I’ll have another novel ready for next week, same URL, so drop back soon.

 

 

 

February 9, 2015 Posted by | Contemporary western, Fiction, Gay fiction, Gay western | Leave a comment

A Day of Fire: a novel of Pompeii by Stephanie Dray

A remarkably clever and well-crafted idea.

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Click on the cover to purchase.

Click on the cover to purchase.

Pompeii was a lively resort flourishing in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius at the height of the Roman Empire. When Vesuvius erupted in an explosion of flame and ash, the entire town would be destroyed. Some of its citizens died in the chaos, some escaped the mountain’s wrath . . . and these are their stories:

A boy loses his innocence in Pompeii’s flourishing streets.
An heiress dreads her wedding day, not knowing it will be swallowed by fire.
An ex-legionary stakes his entire future on a gladiator bout destined never to be finished.
A crippled senator welcomes death, until a tomboy on horseback comes to his rescue.
A young mother faces an impossible choice for her unborn child as the ash falls.
A priestess and a whore seek redemption and resurrection as the town is buried.

Six authors bring to life overlapping stories of patricians and slaves, warriors and politicians, villains and heroes who cross each others’ path during Pompeii’s fiery end. But who will escape, and who will be buried for eternity?

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Review by Gerry Burnie

I have always been fascinated with Pompeii. I mean, to have a whole city and its populace frozen in time, to be discovered two thousand years later, is intriguing stuff! Likewise, to speculate on the lives of some of its citizens just before Vesuvius sealed their fates forever is equally tantalizing.

 A Day of Fire: a novel of Pompeii an anthology by Stephanie Dray [Knight Media, LLC, November 4, 2014] sets out to do just that. Six historical fiction authors, with unique but similar styles, collaborate to create the lives of six fairly representative citizens as they approach the fateful day.

The story’s synopsis is laid out in the blurb, but going beyond that it is an admirable idea that was waiting to happen – combining fiction and fact surrounding 78 A.D. In addition, the six Pompeiian characters couldn’t be more different or more interesting – Rich, poor, young and old.

What I found gratifying was that, although the stories were individually authored there was a consistency about them – a thread that connected them together while on their way to calamity. It was such that the reader knew what was about to happen while the characters didn’t, and so it was all the more credible.

A very clever and well-crafted story in six parts. Five bees.

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Viewers to Gerry B’s Book Reviews – 75,797

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Interested in Canadian history?

Want to learn more? Then visit my new page:  In Praise of Canadian History.  It is a collection of people, facts and events in Canadian history, and includes a bibliography of interesting Canadian books as well. Latest post: “Camp X” – the unofficial name of a Second World War paramilitary and commando training installation, on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario between Whitby and Oshawa in Ontario, Canada. 

Click on the logo to learn about my books to datre

Click on the logo to learn about my books to date

Notice to all those who have requested a book review Thank you for your interest, and my apologies for not responding to your request individually. I’m getting there, but the numbers have been overwhelming. Please extend your patience just a bit longer. Thanks again!

Thanks for dropping by! I’ll have another novel ready for next week, same URL, so drop back soon.

 

February 2, 2015 Posted by | Historical Fiction, Non-gay fiction | Leave a comment

   

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