August 23, 2003
The Snow Garden by Christopher Rice

The Snow Garden by Christopher Rice: one of the most boring books that I’ve had the displeasure of reading in quite some time.

Set at one of the most prestigious colleges in the country, the book revolves around two freshmen, their friend, and the college professor that one of them is sleeping with. Since the college professor is married, the fact that he’s sleeping with a student isn’t a good thing, especially since it’s a male student. The professor’s wife ends up dead causing all kinds of suspicion to fall on him. The college was also the scene of a young woman’s drowning twenty years earlier causing one to wonder what the parallels may be.

The Snow Garden is supposed to be this great psychological thriller and horror story, but I couldn’t ever get into it. I found all of the characters either downright unlikable or uninteresting. Also found the way that people’s past secrets were hinted about for over half the novel very annoying. By about page three hundred or so, the novel started picking up, but since the book is only four hundred pages long, that’s quite a lot of pages to have to slosh through to get to any kind of interesting material.

August 20, 2003
Flowers from the Moon and Other Lunacies by Robert Bloch

Flowers from the Moon and Other Lunacies by Robert Bloch: the first posthumous collection of his work since Bloch died in 1994. These stories are from the late 1930s through the early 1960s. Many of them have not been anthologized before, so this is a chance to see one of the masters of the genre from his early days.

I’ve always enjoyed Robert Bloch’s work (he’s probably best well-known for being the author of Psycho and the story Yours Truly, Jack the Ripper) and was delighted to get this anthology of his early work. For the most part, I enjoyed the stories, though some of them seemed fairly obvious in their ending. Seventy years ago, though, I bet they really packed a punch.

I would definitely recommend this to anyone who enjoys a good short story both for the excellent writing and the novelty of seeing older stories that influenced many of today’s writers.

My particular favorites from this collection included Death is an Elephant, Question of Identity, Death Has Five Guesses, The Bottomless Pool, Flowers From the Moon, He Waits Beneath the Sea, Be Yourself, Black Bargain, A Bottle of Gin, Soul Proprietor, Satan’s Phonograph, The Man Who Told the Truth, and The Night They Crashed the Party.

August 18, 2003
Splintered Bones by Carolyn Haines

Splintered Bones by Carolyn Haines: the third book in the Mystery from the Mississippi Delta series and the best one yet.

We find ourselves again in Zinnia, Mississippi at Dahlia House, home of Sarah Booth Delaney, falled Daddy’s Girl. Sarah Booth doesn’t have a husband (the horror!). However, she does have a thriving private investigator business and a red tic hound called Sweetie Pie and a ghost from her great-great-grandmother’s time to keep her company along with quite a cast of friends.

In this book, Sarah Booth needs to find out who really killed the husband of one of her old friends, Lee McBride. Was it Lee’s daughter, Kip? Was it Lee herself (after all, she did confess)? Was it the handsome trainer Bud? The suspects are many since Kemper, the husband, was a real bastard and deserved to die.

I just love these books and devour them as soon as I get them. The people are so wonderful (how could you not love Jitty, Tinkie, Cece, and Harold?) and the book just so Southern. It makes me wish that I liked Jack Daniels and had a porch to sit on while sipping it. I really do highly recommend these books to lovers of both mysteries and the South. I just can’t wait for the next one to come out in paperback.