Monthly Archives: November 2015

review of Contact Us by Al Macy

ContactUs

★★★★★

reviewed by Cy Wyss

Contact Us is a fun story. Jake Corby is the world’s number one problem solver (according to a newspaper article written by presidential advisor Charli). He has a whopper of a problem to solve as an alien in a sphere has contacted Earth and informed us that he’s taking over. There are signs that the alien is very serious, if unbalanced. He appears as Walter Cronkite on broadcasts to Earth, using alien technology to make himself a perfect replica.

I liked Contact Us a lot. From about 10% I couldn’t put it down. You’ll find there’s a lot here. At points it reads like a dystopian fantasy. At other points, like a straight-up thriller. Yet Macy ties everything together well. The pace is good—fast, but not too frenetic. The characters are well drawn, but not to the point of slowing down the story. Jake Corby himself is a man with a past, and a sympathetic figure from the start. It kept me awake at night, just what you want from a good story.

review of the Serenity Stone Murder by Marianne Jones

SerenityStoneMurder

★★★★★

reviewed by Cy Wyss

The Serenity Stone Murder is the story of Margaret and Louise, two women of a certain age who are taking a break from their small town of Jackpine, Ontario, to head to the big city of Thunder Bay. The scenery of the book involves breathtaking views of the north shore of Lake Superior, descriptions which I appreciated. The book has a bit of a hokey feel to it, the same feel I associate with much of Canadian art and music, but it’s a feel that I very much enjoy. The murder takes place in a church garden, the same church where Margaret and Louise are attending a women’s creativity retreat. If that sounds too hokey, no problem, it was for Margaret and she spends most of the book in more universally appealing pursuits like eating out, walking around the area, and shopping in many great boutiques.

I liked the Serenity Stone Murder a lot. The pace is quick but not overwhelming and the writing is smooth and flowing, with just the right amount of description and character development. All of the main characters were idiosyncratic enough without being untrue to life. I laughed at Louise having to stay at Bubbles, a run-down hotel with a strip club, and especially at the fact Louise turned it into a decent vacation and made a friend. Louise’s dog was also a character in the book, a nice one for some comic relief at times, and seriousness at others. The final solution came about relatively quickly (I would have liked more build up), but in general this was a seamless read and a couple afternoons worth of good, wholesome entertainment. Great job.

review of A Secondhand Life by Pamela Crane

ASecondhandLife

★★★★☆

reviewed by Cy Wyss

A Secondhand Life is the story of Mia, who got into a car accident when she was young. The accident killed her father and had her the recipient of a heart transplant. Along with the heart transplant, however, comes some undesirable memories of a murder. Who was the donor? How did she die? Mia becomes obsessed with answering these questions and they lead her to the trail of a serial murderer. Mia risks all to catch the killer, alienating her boyfriend and neglecting her job. And who is the shadowy man following her?

I liked A Secondhand Life. It started rather slowly for my tastes, but by about 60% I was hooked. The last 40% went fast. The writing is smooth and immersive, the descriptions are compelling but not too substantial as to get in the way of the action. I did think that Mia could have predicted who the murderer was much earlier, which was in some measure annoying. Yet there were still twists at the end that had me surprised. Overall a good book, just right for a weekend’s entertainment.