REVIEWS

THE MYSTERY THAT REALLY ISN’T (but is the better for it)!

For all intents and purposes, Judge vs. Nuts,  appears to be a mystery.  However, I would like to say right up front that—to me—this is not a mystery … not in the classical sense of having a body (or at least a crime) discovered early on and the whodunit unfolding in energetic, rapid-fire fashion throughout, with many false clues being pursued and the inevitability of the miscreant’s capture or destruction at the very end.

So, I would not call Judge vs. Nuts a mystery. But, I would just as quickly want to say Una Tiers novel is much the better for not following the more classic formula.

As I let my senses be seduced by the lusciousness of her prose and the near flawless timing of her wit, as I watched characters grow out of the words she used to describe them and be transformed into living, breathing entities … still, I found myself wondering, early on in the novel, “where is the body, where the likely suspects—where the mystery?”  And, it bothered me.  It bothered me a lot!  I learned a great deal about the protagonist, Fiona Gavelle, easily fell in love with her, thanks to the ample skills of her author, but I kept asking myself, “when is Fiona going to find herself in the throes of a mystery?

Could it be, I wondered, that Judge vs Nuts  tipped the balance of today’s formulaic mystery by being too character driven?  In other words does the reader experience more of the inner workings of Fiona Gavelle’s mind, and the minds of some of the other major players, at the expense of the action that [in a mystery] is needed to drive the reader’s attention forward like a piston to the climax?

We live in a restless, between-the-commercials, kind of world—and the typical mystery exemplifies that kind of peculiar energy.  As readers, it appears we have internalized that twenty-minute rhythm, and during that span we expect something new to titillate our senses.

It wasn’t until I let myself relax and allowed the storyline to wash over me and, at its own pace, perform its sorcery on my mind that I discovered I had been enjoying nothing less than one of the best mainstream novels I’ve read over the past several years!  The fact that about midway through Judge vs. Nuts the ingredients of a mystery began to be blended into the already developed storyline was a bonus. In the process of linking Fiona Gavelle to the elements of the unfolding mystery, the author added several more glittering facets to her development as a character.

Be assured though, long after the mystery has been forgotten Fiona Gavelle, the character, will be remembered.

See more reviews of Judge vs. Nuts,  sample a portion, or buy

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REVIEWS

Where “The Exorcist” Meets “Ghost Busters” — A Review of “The Hauntings of Cold Creek Hollow”

I first met Alexie Aaron on a writer’s website a few years ago.  The book she offered there for reading, The Hauntings of Cold Creek Hollow—well—haunted me.  I remember being moved by her mastery of character-development, pacing and suspense, all culminating in the dramatic impact of her story’s climax.  In a word, I was wowed!

I picked up Hauntings again, just recently, (having bumped into Alexie on Facebook) thinking I would refresh my memory of its plot-line and characters, simply skim through it, preparatory to reviewing it.

So much for intention!

What I didn’t account for was that a really well-written book is just as hard to put down during the second reading as it was the first.

Hauntings is such a book.  Oh, I suppose I could have forced myself to stop reading after the first chapter, then scanned the rest, and written a reasonably decent review.  But—and this is important—I DIDN’T WANT TO QUIT.

The Hauntings of Cold Creek Hollow may not alter your life in a profoundly existential way.  There are enough books and writers out there that profess to do that.  But, thank God, that isn’t this book’s intent.

What it will do, though,—and do it pretty profoundly—is make you RETHINK the wisdom of ever spending a night alone in a cabin in the country!

From my personal perspective, this disturbingly scary story left its imprint on that part of my psyche where exists my first viewing of The Exorcist, right alongside its unlikely neighbor, Ghost Busters.

Both elements exist in Alexie Aaron’s well-crafted novel.  On the one hand, you have an otherworldly horror that crosses over into a kind of Psycho/Spiritual Warfare, culminating with that soul-crushing confrontation between Good and Evil. It is a fine battle—from the literary standpoint— hard-fought by both sides.

On the other hand, you have a couple of really likeable ghosts, seemingly more at home in the more comedy-driven Ghost Busters movie.  These ghosts appear on the surface have no hidden agenda, no axe to grind—well… (well, that’s a kind of inside joke you’ll be privy to when you get into this novel).  But, they are much more than comic relief.

And, somewhere between the one hand and the other the reader is introduced to the lovely, quirky, feisty Mia, our protagonist, who just happens to see dead people and is therefore feared and despised by most of the townspeople.  Oh, you’re gonna love to get to know Mia!

I do want to emphasize, that while this is a serious, and a seriously entertaining, novel, don’t get the impression it’s without humor.  Mrs. Aaron has developed characters that are fully fleshed-out (I’m speaking now of the living characters, but a good case could be made for the otherworldly as well). As with any well-written novel, the humor grows out of her characters and the situations in which the characters find themselves.  You’ll find humor, but you’ll also find the full range of other emotions.  There is romance that can go one way or another—can develop then deteriorate, which  of course does—and, I promise you, the reader’s heart is thu-rumping right in the midst of it.

Then, as you would expect in a story of this nature, there is conflict and violence in spades!.  And, throughout all of it, the reader is dragged by the scruff of his emotional captivity along whichever path of action Mrs. Aaron decides to tug him.

So, join me in the pages of this remarkable novel.  You’ll discover dark corners of terror you may never have explored elsewhere, and you’ll soar to levels of selfless courage to which most can only aspire.  And in the mix you’ll find plenty enough romance and intrigue to carry you right up to the final page of this wonderful journey.

And, lest we forget, there are a couple of ghosts I guarantee you’re gonna fall in love with.

 

Pssst!  You made it this far so why not pop over to the right-hand side bar and subscribe to my FREE newsletter?  Until I get other people to voluntarily rave about it, I’m gonna have to be the first one you’ll read as saying: “Jay’s newsletter’s a hoot!” and “Chock-full of writing tips, it’s information rich, while entertaining and funny!” and “You’re gonna wanna jump aboard before Jay discovers how great it truly is and starts charging a huge subscription fee!”