Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Murdered by Country Music by Dianne Harman

     When a group of friends agree to help staff a food truck for a country music festival, they have no idea they will be next door to murder. The Red Pony food truck offers a delicious menu of food, but will the entrĂ©e be overshadowed by deadly events? Dianne Harman brings her High Desert Cozy Mystery crew back for a third adventure, this one filled with food, art, music and nefarious dealings. 

     Psychic Laura James owns the compound where the six friends hatch their plans for the festival. Her artist-boyfriend Les Anderson has joined the festivities. Laura’s sister Marty Morgan is engaged to Detective Jeff Combs of the Palm Springs Police Department. Marty’s background in art and antiques appraisal ties in nicely with Laura’s work for an insurance company. John Anderson, owner of The Red Pony food truck, is always trying out his new recipes on the little group. He and his assistant Max Samuel brought samples of the planned menu for the upcoming music festival to reward the volunteers.

     While the six seem well suited to work together for the few days of the High Desert Country Music Festival, a problem soon develops: Jacque Ruchon, John’s main rival will be part of the Festival, too. All of the ingredients are present for cooking up a recipe of trouble.

     Harman’s core characters are adults, well-established along career tracks. Watching them deal with the youth factor at a music festival brings a light element to the story, while Marty’s involvement with an art appraisal for the owner of the ranch housing the festival lends a warm family touch. Woven throughout the story are the intrigues of a competitive business and people with addiction issues.

     As befits a cozy mystery, the violence takes place off-page, the language is mild and sexual innuendo is kept to a minimum. Harman’s deft handling of the multitude of work roles involved makes for an enjoyable jaunt into a dangerous world. Are you brave enough to visit the High Desert world she describes?

     This book will appeal to readers who like mysteries without grim bloody descriptions. The art aspects of Marty’s appraisal work will delight art enthusiasts. The volume includes recipes for many of the dishes served in the story, making it a treat for cooks.

Murdered by Country Music: A High Desert Cozy Mystery
By Dianne Harman
Available in both print and ebook formats

Disclaimer: This review is based on a review copy provided by the author or publisher with no constraints as to content. All opinions are my own.

Norse mythology to take your breath away - T L Greylock's epic saga begins

     In a stunning display of writing prowess, author T L Greylock brings an epic tales of Norse heroes into modern language. The Blood-Tainted Winter, subtitled The Song of the Ash Tree - First Edda, offers a sweeping story told from the perspective of Raef Skallagrim, a young man who wants nothing more than to take a ship and make his fortune at sea. Raef’s father Einarr, the lord of Vannheim, has other plans for his son and heir.

     When the death of the king leaves a leadership void to be filled, the young lord finds himself in desperate circumstances. Surrounded by those who call themselves friends, he must make difficult choices. Can he trust those at his side? Will he and his warriors ever see Vannheim again? 

     Peopled with colorful characters with names like Thorgrim Great-Belly and Findar Urdson, the Far-Traveled, the story charges its way across Midgard at a gallop. Each character plays an important part in the story and displays many layers of personality. There are no throwaway characters in the book.

     Greylock’s imagery sweeps across the page, drawing the reader into a world of warriors and shieldmaidens, where an insult can lead to a death fight and not all enemies are human. She presents the mythological elements in such a way that the roles played by each figure show clearly, even to readers who have forgotten what they learned of Beowulf in school, but without lecture.

     The powerful story uses Norse mythology but goes beyond, into a human story of hopes and dreams, relationships and revenge as the battle to fill the throne sprawls across the land. Faith and betrayal, friends and enemies spill forth to captivate the reader. Fans of the mythology will find plenty to enjoy, while fans of excellent character study will rejoice as well. 

     Greylock has thoughtfully included two reference tools: a map of Midgard at the front of the book and a list of important characters and their titles at the back. The tools, however, are not the main attraction of the book. The story steals the show, with the characterizations in hot pursuit. Greylock clearly loves the period and approaches the book with affection and depth.

     Be forewarned, though. This is the first volume and the story does not end here. Fall in love with Greylock’s work and get ready to wait for the next installment.

The Blood-Tainted Winter: The Song of the Ash Tree – First Edda
By T L Greylock
Published by Grass Crown Press

Cautions: Violence, Sexual Content, Language, Jeopardy
Rating: Five Star

Disclaimer: This review is based on a review copy of the book provided by the author or publisher with no constraints on my review. All opinions are my own.