Wizards outside of the standard of epic fantasy is hard to pull off. Or at least I think so; wizards just feel a bit sillier in a modern setting then say, mages or witches. But Lewis brings these wizards of fable, with their flowing robes and magical staffs, out of that traditional fantasy environment and into an urban setting. And not just any urban setting, but New York’s Central Park! The author is very aware of these tropes though and crafts an adventure that is rather tongue-in-cheek so if you were worried that actual wizards in New York was going to be a bit ridiculous, don’t worry, that’s by design!
AndroDigm Park is a virtual-cyber park where the park and its occupants are all androids, very sophisticated and life-like, but still androids. In this theme park created by the world’s leading android and bio-cybernetic research groups, humans have their dreams analyzed, and that dictates the kind of quest they will go on—from the safety of a secure room while the sleeping participant controls a human replicant. They will feel what the replicant experiences, but since they can’t die, they are allowed to follow their every fantasy. Sounds a bit idyllic, sure, but that means you just KNOW there’s something sinister lurking in the background: who controls the park? What are they really after? Again, sounds really interesting, but all of that only starts coming into play well after the 50% mark of the book, and then we only see and interact with AndroDigm Park for maybe 15%. So what’s the rest of the book, you may ask? It’s groundwork for the main characters.
There are very few nonfiction books I like to read, but true crime is always the exception. So, of course, when I found this beauty about the first American serial killer, one that occurred just before all the Jack the Ripper Killings—and had some people across the pond believing these fiends were the same perpetrator—sign me up! I was a little leery though, mainly because after reading “Devil in the White City” I was, frankly, a little disappointed. That book was mainly on the Chicago World’s Fair, not so much on Henry H. Holmes and how he committed his murders, or what really happened in his murder hotel. This book didn’t have THAT problem. Oh no! Hollandsworth scoured old newspaper reports, police statements, and death certificates and was able to present his readers with the utter brutality of this killer. Unfortunately, however, that was about all the author could give.
Confession time: I wasn’t expecting to enjoy this book as much as I did. A period piece novel set just after the Great War with some Downton Abbey society vibes, a murder mystery, oh and magic. Yes! Magic! “Magic Most Deadly” follows Maia and Lennox as they bump into each other at a roaring house party, only to stumble across a murder, a plot to bring Britain to its knees once more, and that not only is magic real, but it’s been working in the shadows to keep society from going off the rails for decades, if not more. Now Lennox, who was undercover to try and discover the plot Maia witnessed, finds himself partnered with the fledgling magician—who is also a fiercely independent woman who constantly keeps Lennox on his toes. The tone of the characters fits so flawlessly with the time period and setting that I was immediately swept away and ended up adoring these characters and the rather cozy mystery they embarked on, while also trying to teach Maia about magic—oh, and keep it a secret from everyone else, naturally.
“In The Clearing” is the third book in the Tracy Crosswhite series and while each of these books is its own self-contained mystery, where you can kind of pick up anywhere in the series and not be lost, book two was best following book one due to the nuances in the story that carried over and affected book two's plot. Book three breaks that mold. Unlike books one and two, there are no elements from the previous books that make an appearance in this story that you’d be confused by. Dugoni does a nice recap of everything that has brought Tracy to this point, so if you read this book out of order, you’ll be fine. This story follows Tracy as she endeavors to solve a cold case that followed a friend’s father to his grave, with something about the case always nagging at him. Tracy agrees to look into it for her friend, and embarks on a forty year old crime that reminds her of her sister’s own disappearance and death. Unfortunately, that was the problem I had with this particular book in the series, it felt like a story I had already read.
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