Book Review – Full Fathom Five by Max Gladstone

Full Fathom Five by Max Gladstone

Full Fathom Five by Max Gladstone

The blurb deifies:

On the island of Kavekana, Kai builds gods to order, then hands them to others to maintain. Her creations aren’t conscious and lack their own wills and voices, but they accept sacrifices, and protect their worshippers from other gods–perfect vehicles for Craftsmen and Craftswomen operating in the divinely controlled Old World. When Kai sees one of her creations dying and tries to save her, she’s grievously injured–then sidelined from the business entirely, her near-suicidal rescue attempt offered up as proof of her instability. But when Kai gets tired of hearing her boss, her coworkers, and her ex-boyfriend call her crazy, and starts digging into the reasons her creations die, she uncovers a conspiracy of silence and fear–which will crush her, if Kai can’t stop it first.

I liked the first book in this series, the second book not as much but this one was the best so far.

The mystery is good, the twists are good, the characters are good – at the end of the book I couldn’t think of anything that could be improved.

This book does share a common theme with the other books in the series (the unexpected consequences of the God War) which ties the books together, but apart from that the books don’t really overlap.  The one exception I noticed was a minor character from the first book also appearing in this one, although because the books aren’t published in chronological order it makes things a bit more complicated.

The first book seemed to be basically about a western god, the second book was about Aztec-esque gods and this one is about Hawaiian-esque gods.  The different settings and cultures in each book are interesting and add a lot of depth – it feels like the author put a lot of research and work into learning about them.

One thing this book had that the first two didn’t was a transsexual main character.  I thought it was very well done – not treated as an oddity or a stunt but just a fact of the character’s life (like Furiosa’s arm in Mad Max).  The author impressed me in the previous books by having lots of major non-white and non-male characters and in this book he’s taken it a step further.

Book Review – Flash and Bones by Kathy Reichs

Flash and Bones by Kathy Reichs

Flash and Bones by Kathy Reichs

The blurb races:

Just as 200,000 fans are pouring into town for Race Week, a body is found in a barrel of asphalt next to the Charlotte Motor Speedway. The next day, a NASCAR crew member comes to Temperance Brennan’s office at the Mecklenburg County Medical Examiner to share a devastating story. Twelve years earlier, Wayne Gamble’s sister, Cindi, then a high school senior and aspiring racer, disappeared along with her boyfriend, Cale Lovette. Lovette kept company with a group of right-wing extremists known as the Patriot Posse. Could the body be Cindi’s? Or Cale’s?

At the time of their disappearance, the FBI joined the investigation, only to terminate it weeks later. Was there a cover-up? As Tempe juggles multiple theories, the discovery of a strange, deadly substance in the barrel alongside the body throws everything into question. Then an employee of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention goes missing during Race Week. Tempe can’t overlook the coincidence. Was this man using his lab chemicals for murder? Or is the explanation even more sinister? What other secrets lurk behind the festive veneer of Race Week?

At this point the series is well established and both the writer and reader are comfortable with the formula.

This particular book takes place in Charlotte (which I generally find less interesting than the ones set in Quebec), and the unique twist is that it has to do with NASCAR.

I don’t really like NASCAR or know a lot about it, so I expected that to be a problem with this book.  Fortunately it turned out not to be and I found the info dump about the history of NASCAR interesting.

As is often the case with the books in this series there was really no chance to figure the mystery out until the reveal, although there was one twist that was surprisingly obvious.

The “love” plotline didn’t get moved forward much at all in this book – the love interests appeared only briefly and not much happened with them.  On the up side this avoided the problems I often have with this plotline, i.e. the obvious misunderstanding and the unreasonable overreaction.