Book Reviews: Labyrinth, Christmas, and Murder

Takeaway from a visit to the Huntington Library: Jack London had worse handwriting than me.

The second review is dedicated to Jennifer Connelly on her birthday.

Dead Nasty
Another entry in the Callidine mystery series, this time featuring a killer who’s released from prison—after fooling a Reverend, like that’s difficult—and is instantly accused of doing it again.
At the start there’s a scene that shows Callidine has changed, but it doesn’t take long for the hothead to emerge as usual. Whenever the cops find forensic evidence that ties right to a suspect Callidine is jubilant, but even I could tell it was a setup. He’s always been a jerk, but he was a good cop too. Lost respect for him here. But the worst part was that, in giving so many red herrings, the author seems to have forgotten she’d pretty much given it away at the beginning, as there was only one suspect with the motives the killer told his victim before killing her. And the killer’s excuse for confessing at the end, after so many denials throughout the book, doesn’t sound real at all.
I found this the weakest entry in the series even before the shock ending. Killing off a great character for no reason. . . I don’t care if it’s continued in the next book; it’s not right. I have absolutely no wish to read the next.

Labyrinth: One classic film, fifty-five sonnets
Shelley wrote one famous sonnet—Ozymondius—about one subject, a narrow focus that allowed him to perfect it. Shakespeare—or whoever really wrote him—was a freak. With fifty-five examples here, it’s such a giant task it would seem impossible. Obviously they won’t all have the same quality. Some rhymes are too forced, or not rhyming at all. Others use unnecessary words in order to make the rhyme. Often the ending couplet is the best part, but it definitely helps to read them out loud.
The best are the ones with such imagery that they instantly remind you of the scene in the movie, even with something as simple as “along which Sarah lightly skipped across.” One of my faves was, “The cleaners clattered past, and so revealed goblins, pedalling frantically on wheels.”
This is one of the best:
“Hoggle told the girl that there he’d leave her –
Their deal was done, or so he clearly felt.
Angry, Sarah called him a deceiver,
And snatched his pouch of jewels from his belt.”
But then there’s others like:
“They dropped her in a cell, an oubliette
(That’s from the French – oublier, to forget).”
A little too cutesy, but it works.
For fans of the movie it’s definitely worth it, and the mind boggles—Hoggles?—at such effort, but it’s not what I’d call great.

Running on Empty
A refugee from reality shows settles in a mountain party town, only to have another show draw her back in. She’s a sweet girl who doesn’t want to be thought of as a bimbo, but she is mostly too naïve for her own good. And of course there’s a guy she wants but is too scared to tell, and the same with him.
This is the third in a series, and while there’s plenty of info about previous stories, I wish I’d read the others before. Even more so, the first Meg Benjamin book I read was so fantastic it’s a struggle not to compare. This one is funny, but not as funny as that first one. For another, I like this girl but she’s no Docia.
So yep, not as good, but Meg always brings it.

White Christmas
A woman gets hit by a car and ends up at Santa’s Workshop. Santa’s security chief is ex FBI. Sure, why not?
“So why is your workshop under attack?”
Nick sighed. “It’s part of an age-old struggle. The forces of evil have always been aligned against Christmas.” Santa also says, “There are many places of atonement. This is one of them.” So if Santa’s workshop is a purgatory or Hell, I wonder what the other ones are.
But never forget it’s a romance. Silly but enjoyable little piece of fluff.


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