Christoph Fischer: The Body in the Snow

The body in the snow

 

Figuring out the puzzle in a mystery is always a lot of fun and has the added perk of exercising the brain.
The Body in the Snow is a modern version of a classic Agatha Christie plotline. Set in Llangurrey, a remote hamlet tucked miles away from the nearest town, is experiencing the worst snowstorm in twenty years. All roads and motorways have been closed.
I was immediately drawn into this cozy whodunit and the domestic dynamics among the characters.
The author begins by introducing the characters, a bit of their background, their family, marital status and so forth in very broad drawn strokes. You get the picture. There’s a Diva, a happy divorcee, a handyman and a host of other unlikeable characters.
Now, in present time, they find themselves neighbors, along with their past histories, secrets and personalities that clash with each other. The characters have such unique characteristics that I had no problem distinguishing them from each other, as is not always the case when there are multiple characters in a story. One of the more endearing interactions was between Bebe, a fading star and Beth, a rooky but spunky detective.
Fischer’s detective Beth is a lot of fun and brings lightness and charm to the novel. No gore or violence was a plus. It was simply a fun, light relaxing read and a pleasant way to exercise the brain muscles.

J.E. Spina: Hunting Mariah

 

Hunting Mariah

It isn’t because Hunting Mariah reminded me of my own in progress novel that I really loved this book, although that didn’t hurt. There’s a serial killer’s hunger for school girls whom Spina gives reasons for his macabre behavior as she allows us to get inside his insane mind and his intensifying obsessive need to kill. He will stop at nothing until he satisfies his warped hunger to hunt down Mariah.

The novel contains many plot angles that drive it forward. Of course, there’s why Mariah is being hunted by the serial killer in the first place – a mystery which the author is able to maintain throughout the novel. Why is she kept in isolation in a psychiatric ward and what are her memory blanks about? Why can’t Tony, a man who obviously cares deeply for Mariah but for reasons revealed only much later in the novel, return his love for her? Adding more tension are the secondary characters that inhabit this thriller and Spina has the talent to create suspense around each of them.

Although the author makes clear from the beginning who the killer is I kept wondering, as other characters were introduced and more twists were added, if it could be someone else.

Writing under the name Janice Spina the author is known for writing children’s books – at least over a dozen. Hunting Mariah brings J.E. Spina into the respectful world of fast-paced adult thrillers which will keep you turning the pages.

 

How To End With A Bang

To finish the novel is one trick, but to end your story is quite another. C. Patrick Schulze.

This was on one of the slides in a webinar I recently listened to.

The class was given by Dr. Barbara Henderson as one of the Penquin Random House Writers Academy Masterclasses in which she discussed aspects of writing a crime novel, including such topics as keeping the plot tight and how to end your novel with a bang.

Barbara Henderson

 

A good ending must feel right. Finish with a sentence that has impact and leaves your reader thinking. Make the ending satisfying to the reader. Satisfying the reader not just intellectually but emotionally.

 

If you’re interested in listening to the entire class here it is. It runs about 50 minutes. I picked up some good tips and found it to be an excellent reminder of what crime fiction is about. Many of the tips though can be applied to writing in general. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Carrie Rubin’s Benjamin Oris

Benjamin Oris, Carrie Rubin’s protagonist in her latest medical thriller is a med student/construction type of hero. A sexy combination. No wonder women are attracted to him. He is your basic guy next door who wears boxers to bed, buys cheap ties and tends to have untrimmed stubble because his life is so chaotic that he hardly has time to shave. He is caught up in a web involving women, a Vodou curse that goes back two hundred years, a mysterious relationship with his mother and having his supervisor down his throat. To name a few of his problems. 

He’s easy to like.

The Bone Curse

The novel reads smoothly and there is a good level of palpable tension that increases throughout. Being a supernatural medical thriller the author does a great job creating a hospital environment and dwelling deep into Vodou curses. 

A believer of paranormal I am not. Neither is Carrie Rubin. Or her protagonist Ben Oris. But, as Carol Keen  points out in her review of The Bone Curse on Goodreads, it doesn’t matter.

It isn’t necessary for him (Ben Oris) to believe a curse has power or not. When others believe it, he is forced to take the curse seriously.

As Carrie Rubin does. Her usage of Haitian terms and her writing style ( “…, easing some of the heartache in the room.”) add charm to the novel. Before the opening of each chapter the author straightforwardly provides a date and time: Thursday, August 6, 10:00 A.M. This I found to be a very smart and efficient way for my distracted mind to keep track of the time span of the novel.

Although the ending was satisfying and all her loose ends were tightly tied, Carrie Rubin left the door open to a Book 2 with enough suspense to want to know how Oris’ relationship with the people he loves will develop. Including that of a disease detective in the Epidemic Intelligence Service.

The Bone Curse is available here

For more reviews on The Bone Curse:

https://jmmcdowell.com/2018/03/23/book-review-the-bone-curse/

https://writersite.org/category/book-review/

I won The Bone Curse in Carrie Rubin’s ARC Giveaway awhile back.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Free Online Crime Writing Course

How to write crime fiction

Just thought I’d pass this along:

Free Webinar on how to write a crime novel presented by The Writers’ Academy at Penguin-Random House.  Thursday March 29.

It sounds interesting. 

Here’s more info: 

http://www.course-enquiry.com/webmail/107002/360067594/c40d1da3646c3c2495bd94d88c24286b5b903de9a8966d1b7ddcab0276647878