Category Archives: Narratives

Fiendish Schemes

Fiendish Schemes
(Infernal Devices #2)
by K.W. Jeter (2013)

The world Dower left when he went into hiding was significantly simpler than the new, steam-powered Victorian London, a mad whirl of civilization filled with gadgets and gears in the least expected places. After accepting congratulations for his late father’s grandest invention—a walking, steam-powered lighthouse—Dower is enticed by the prospect of financial gain into a web of intrigue with ominously mysterious players who have nefarious plans of which he can only guess.

Another try at a K. W. Jeter book.  This is the second in his steampunk trilogy. The first “Morlock Night” I had read in 2013, so had little memory of it.

This is written in a very florid and verbose style, trying to emulate the ethos and style of the Victorian era. It is well done, and works as it’s written in first person and the protagonist is not that smart and almost an un-reliable narrator.

There is considerable detail and explanation of the invented world. And it does stretch on with excessive dialogue. But at almost halfway through it becomes clear that this is a case of style over substance. Dower gets taken to a brothel and the author seems intent on explaining more of his world than pushing on with the story.

It this point I became frustrated and stopped reading.

Mandalor Armour

The Mandalorian Armor
(Star Wars: The Bounty Hunter Wars #1)
by K.W. Jeter (1998)

He’s the most feared and successful bounty hunter in the galaxy. He is Boba Fett, and even the most hardened criminals tremble at his name. Now he faces the deadliest challenge of his infamous career–an all-out war against his most dangerous enemies.

K. W. Jeter has always been a reliable author, notable in his ‘Kim Oh’ series of thrillers. In this Star Wars book, he is not so good. Where, in the thrillers things move fast and break, here it’s all exposition and talk. Boba Fett is first introduced after his experience in the Sarlac pit of ‘The Empire Strikes Back’. Turns out he survives, just. He is taken for recuperation by an unknown alien.

Then a young woman turns up looking for him. It’s not clear she is and what she wants. Then there is a jump back in time to Boba Fett and his working to plot against smugglers. It’s all a bit slow and political. Nothing much happens, and the jumping between timelines doesn’t help.

So ultimately I tired of the lack of any clear plot and just gave up.

Spear Destiny

Chase Baker and the Spear of Destiny
(Chase Baker #11)
by Vincent Zandri (2017)

One of the church’s great relics has been stolen by a surviving member of the Nazi SS. A man by the name of Adolf Rickman. The relic is none other than the spear of Longinus.

Is that a thing… yes it is !

The very weapon that pierced Jesus Christ’s side while he hung from the cross on Golgotha.

If Chase can’t recover the spear, it will be used by Rickman and his neo-Nazi cohorts, to create a brand new evil Fourth Reich.

Yet again, and for the last time Chase gets to save the world, OK – just the Pope. In the most absurd way possible.

Possibly Zandri has finally realized just how ridiculous these plots have become and goes all out in the final episode.

And it is a fun ride, despite an army of enemies who have been issued with weapons using ‘Stormtrooper Mode’.

 

Incompetence

Incompetence
by Rob Grant (2004)

In the not too distant future the European Union enacts its most far reaching human rights legislation ever. The incompetent have been persecuted for too long. After all it’s not their fault they can’t do it right, is it? So it is made illegal to sack or otherwise discriminate against anyone for being incompetent. And now a murder has been committed and our possibly incompetent detective must find out who the murderer is.


The author seems to have left the plot outline in the novel. You can feel as it moves from one pre-defined scene that is ‘comic’ to another marked ‘backstory’ and finally as the story ends ‘action’.

Each set piece is well done, the comic scenes are silly and amusing. The action does work. The problem is that as a whole, it just doesn’t add up to much.

So it’s a detective looking for a murderer, but the plot meanders through so many scenes that don’t move the story forward. It could have done with a good editor to provide some cohesion to the story.

Buccaneer

Buccaneer
(Dane Maddock #5)
by David Wood (2014)

For more than two centuries the Oak Island Money Pit has baffled researchers and foiled treasure hunters. When Dane Maddock and Bones Bonebrake take up the search, they get much more than they bargained for.

 

Dutch Diamonds

Chase Baker and the Dutch Diamonds
(Chase Baker #10)
by Vincent Zandri (2017)

Chase Baker runs into fellow author Les Edgerton and get talking about the 1930’s notorious gangster Dutch Schultz and the legend of his hidden treasure which is said to be buried in a little town in Upstate New York.

Feeling fine from a few drinks at the hotel bar, Chase and Les decide to seek out the location of the Dutch Schultz Treasure. Little do they know but another writer, a beautiful and talented author of true crime stories, will tail them all the way upstate.

This story is aided by a partner for Chase, and the two have a rapport and lots of witty conversations that help lighten the tone. Add in another rival and it’s all the ingredients for a good story. Plus there are the cut-out baddies from Russia to add to the danger.

Icefall

Icefall
(Dane Maddock #4)
by David Wood (2014)

When the bones of the Magi are stolen from their resting place in a German cathedral, a dying priest’s whispered clue catapults Dane and Bones into the midst of a deadly race to solve a centuries-old conspiracy.

Yet again, our heroes investigate, run, hide, battle and defeat  enemies. This one just feels a bit pedestrian.

 

Seventh Seal

Chase Baker and the Seventh Seal
(Chase Baker #9)
by Vincent Zandri (2016)

When Renaissance man and adventurer, Chase Baker, is contracted by a rich young rare book dealer to uncover seven metal Bible codices which rival the Dead Sea Scrolls in Biblical historical significance, he also discovers that the seventh book is sealed with a metal not found on this earth.


These just keep getting stranger and sillier. This time Chase has to race the clock to put a metaphorical key into a hole. And all the time I’m thinking – 30 Minutes, didn’t know they were that accurate with time in the life of Jesus, well…

THE DIVISION of the hour into 60 minutes and of the minute into 60 seconds comes from the Babylonians who used a sexagesimal (counting in 60s) system for mathematics and astronomy. They derived their number system from the Sumerians who were using it as early as 3500 BC. The use of 12 subdivisions for day and night, with 60 for hours and minutes, turns out to be much more useful than (say) 10 and 100 if you want to avoid having to use complicated notations for parts of a day. Twelve is divisible by two, three, four, six and 12 itself – whereas 10 has only three divisers – whole numbers that divide it a whole number of times. Sixty has 12 divisers and because 60 = 5 x 12 it combines the advantages of both 10 and 12. In fact both 12 and 60 share the property that they have more divisers than any number smaller than themselves. This doesn’t, of course, explain how this system spread throughout the world.

All the same – just as fun as previous stories.

Mother Zuul

The Mother of Zuul
(Epic Fallacy Book 4)
by Michael James Ploof (2017)

The Champions of the Dragon have somehow survived the dreaded Drak’Noir, and now they must keep their word to Lyricon and begin the victory tour of Fallacetine. They have been treated like heroes since their return, but when the truth of their adventures comes out in the form of Lyricon’s candid play, the public begins to see them in a very different light.


This story feels very tacked on as an afterthought to the previous story. It doesn’t have the zip and vigor of the others. Things just trundle on to a rather down-beat ending. In retrospect, the series could have ended with the trilogy.

This one took almost two weeks to read.

Drak Noir

The Legend of Drak Noir
(Epic Fallacy #3)
by Michael James Ploof (2017)

In which the ‘heroes’ come to a tall mountain to throw a ring…
No that’s not it, they have to battle a Dragon from another dimension.

Still, the references from other stories and modern popular culture get piled and crowbarred into the story. It’s all very epic and fun. Then at the end you realize, what about the baby. Yeah, there is still an evil overlord to dispose in book four of what looked like a trilogy.