The Exploding Spaceship Release Day Edition Part 1: Review of Thieves’ Quarry by D.B. Jackson and Crazy in the Blood by Lucienne Diver

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Review of Thieves’ Quarry by D.B. Jackson (Tor, July 2, 2013, hardback)

Thieves’ Quarry is the second book of Ethan Kaille’s adventures as a thieftaker conjurer in Boston in 1768. It’s September and tensions are high as British ships are arriving and it is rumored that many troops are going to land in order to deal with the rebellion situation.

As the ships sit offshore, Ethan watches his brother-in-law talk to some British Naval officers who have come onto the dock.  Later when he reaches his dwelling, his brother-in-law who has never come to his place before, brings the officers around to speak to Ethan.

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This leads to Ethan taking a case to solve a murder for the crown, and in the process becoming friends and partnering with some people he thought were enemies and some he never knew might be friends. As usual Ethan’s generally kind nature gets him into trouble at every turn. To add to the situation, the troops are landed and the place some are to be quartered has men holed up in it refusing to give up their place to the soldiers. Tempers are short and trying to deal with anyone is likely to lead to violence first and questions later.

Ethan of course sorts the mystery out in the end but not before finding out much more than he wanted to about the darker sides of conjuring.

Jackson’s revolutionary Boston feels very real. Sites on his map match sites in our Boston of today and particularly for anyone who has walked the Freedom Trail and visited historical sites in the city, it is very easy to imagine yourself transported back in time.  The characters are engaging and even the supporting ones have depth. Some new supporting characters in this volume give Ethan a few surprises in how they relate to him so it could make for interesting story twists in later books. Jackson’s history background is used to good effect to explain how different factions feel (even Mr. Adams gets to explain himself in this volume) and to explain about the resentment toward soldiers and the concerns of business owners. But there aren’t great dumps of information, nor information stuck in conversation which doesn’t need to be there. If you like historical fiction, mysteries or non-medieval fantasy with a bit of magic then this is a good read.

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Review of Crazy in the Blood: Latter-Day Olympians Book 2 by Lucienne Diver (Samhain, July 2, 2013, trade paperback)

The FBI drops a case on Los Angeles private investigator Tori Karacis when they think it has some oddities which she might know about due to her previous case at the Le Brea Tar Pits. She is more interested in finding her missing uncle and keeping her boyfriend, police officer Nick Armani, out of trouble. Tori‘s world includes aunts and uncles who talk like the Greek gods exist and a grandmother who runs the world’s biggest Greek god gossip rag. In a previous case the god Apollo had to give Tori ambrosia in order to keep her alive, but it’s addictive so Tori has been trying to stay off of it. This leads to some embarrassing moments with Nick and another debt owed to Apollo.

Tori’s apartment got trashed in her previous adventures, which resulted in the arrest of three gods, so she is living in the apartment belonging to Armani’s missing partner (well, the police think he is missing…) but the FBI manage to find her there. They seem to think she knows more about the weird stuff than she is telling, and of course she does, but not anything that would help them.

She ends up taking a trip to the Napa Valley to try and locate her uncle (her partner in the PI business) who was conducting an investigation when he went missing. Along the way she gathers an entourage of helpers: her best friend Christie, her drama queen office manager Jesus, two FBI agents named Rosen and Holloway, her boyfriend Nick Armani and Apollo, Greek god and porn star.  The love triangle with Tori, Nick and Apollo has everyone pushing each other’s buttons until the situation with open gates of Hades is so close to world-ending that Nick and Apollo actually work together. Tori is, apparently, the police for the gods and their relatives.  Her granny’s gossip column is making waves because it contains Tori’s exploits and it usually contains the truth. Tori’s entire problem is due to godly marital issues, so even though she is tired of dealing with godly messes, she sorts it out in the end.

The Latter-Day Olympians setting is quite interesting because Greek gods run around in the modern world and many have newer occupations which relate to the events of their written exploits, like Apollo is a gorgeous blonde who makes porn movies and Odysseus (Tori’s uncle) is a private investigator.  There is some use of magic or godly powers, even by Tori and plenty of fighting. There are lots of nice looking people in the book and even some monster pets from myth. When gods start stomping around in the normal human world they tend to leave death and destruction behind, so Tori tries to keep them happy where they are so they stay away.

Tori and her supporting cast are all fleshed out characters with complex personalities and realistic quirks and fears. None of the characters are stock archetypes so sometimes their actions or decisions can surprise you, particularly the athletic, very handsome and fit policeman, Nick Armani, who goes wildly against the pudgy, doughnut eating stereotype policeman.

If you like urban fantasy with a touch of magic, mythological based fantasy or the Rick Riordan books then this series is a good read for you.

Note for parents: These are not teen books, however the main character is a twentysomething at the beginning of her career and they would certainly interest teens. The books don’t have any language or descriptive sex which would be objectionable for older teens. Anyone who has read Harry Potter, The Hunger Games and/or Rick Riordan shouldn’t have a problem with the content of these books.

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