Review: Fatality in F Hits All the Right Notes

51grbi2buqjlFatality in F is the fourth book in Alexia Gordon’s Gethsemane Brown. The world-class musician and amateur sleuth teaches music at an all boys school in a small village in Ireland, with the closest urban center being Cork. She has a knack for being in the right place at the wrong time-or is that the wrong place at the right time?-and finding herself in the middle of murder and mayhem.

Now, straight off, I’m not someone who reads a lot of amateur sleuth books. They (no pun intended!) have to strike the right chord with me. However, I’ve been very focused on expanding my reading and try to approach every book with an open mind.

I suppose it’s also worth noting that I used to live in Ballincollig, which is on the outskirts of Cork, not far from Blarney Castle, so I have a limited scope of reference for Ireland, along with an Irish Catholic grandmother and a grandfather who was an Orangeman. Ireland has a special place in my heart, and this setting gave me a double dose of fear starting this book. Would it deliver?

Yes. And then, when Gethsemane’s ghost roommate, Eamon, shows up, my response to the question was Hell yes.

Gethsemane has a keen mind, as well as an open mind. One of the things that makes her an ideal amateur sleuth is that she doesn’t outright dismiss possibilities, even when she sounds like she’s skeptical. I absolutely loved the banter between her and Eamon and the comic touch that brings. Since I read an arc I’m technically not supposed to quote from it, but Eamon had a laugh-out-loud-funny line in there that was so good I had to share it with my husband, who (even out of context without reading the book) could appreciate the sentiment.

Gordon’s strengths come through in developing strong, likable characters that you want to spend time with. She’s also built some great relationship dynamics among her group of teachers and garda.

New readers shouldn’t be deterred; Gordon gives you enough to ground yourself in past events and relationship dynamics to be able to dig right in and keep you from feeling lost. I’m not one who really worries about these things, so it might have been a bit more than I needed, but I’m an anomaly as a reader that way so that should not be taken as a criticism at all. I know how important it is to readers to not feel like they’re missing something because of prior books they haven’t read.

There’s a whole lot to love in this book. The narrative flows steadily, with plenty of revelations along the way that shape the investigation and keep you guessing. Believable characters fill the pages, and these are people you want to spend time with. They aren’t all perfect and polished and simple, but their quirks are part of what make them so endearing.

I thought I knew who the murderer was at 68%, and I was wrong.

If you like amateur sleuth stories with some woo woo, you will love this book and shouldn’t hesitate to dive right in. Or better, still, pick up Murder in G Minor, Death in D Minor and Killing in C Sharp along with Fatality in F and indulge yourself with a new favorite author who I expect will be delighting readers for years to come.

And even if amateur sleuth stories aren’t usually your thing, there’s a lot of heart here. This was a fun read that I did not want to put down and I was eager to get back to the story and the new friends Gordon breathed life into so effectively. And some serious kudos to Gordon for the research she must have done into illnesses, pharmaceuticals, botany … The details she weaves in infuse the story with authenticity while establishing motive.

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Paul D. Brazill’s Supernatural Noir Playlist

 

Supernatural Noir (1)Supernatural Noir is collection of my short stories that I consider to be both supernatural and, er, noir. And of course, there’s music all over the place!

Drunk On The Moon by Tom Waits

It started with a song. Tom Waits’ Drunk On The Moon, to be precise. A neon soaked torch song with more than a twist of noir. A song of the city at night, sung by a man who sounded like a wolf- and not just Howlin’ Wolf. And once upon a time, there was a magazine named Dark Valentine who were looking for cross genre short stories. So, I wrote a yarn about a werewolf private eye. And I called it Drunk On The Moon.

Gloomy Sunday by Mel Torme

One of the regular cast of the Roman Dalton world in Duffy, bar owner and Mel Torme fan.

I Ain’t Superstitious by Howlin Wolf.

The first song on the Wurlitzer jukebox in Duffy’s Bar when Roman Dalton – werewolf private eye- walks into the bar.

She’s My Witch by Kip Tyler

Sometimes a You Tube recommendation is good. And sometimes, it’s so good you have to use its title for one of your yarns.

Bad Moon Rising by Creedence Clearwater Revival

Bad Moon Rising has probably used in dozens of werewolf books and films. Not that would stop me using it for one of my yarns.  But since my sister sent me a t-shirt that said Black Moon Rising, that was the title I used.

The Endless Sleep by Robert Gordon

Teenage Death Songs were popular in the late ‘50s and ‘60s. The most famous is probably the Shangri Las Leader of the Pack. Some of those ditties even had a supernatural aspect, such as John Leyton’s Johnny Remember Me or Jody Reynolds’ Endless Sleep. I’ve chosen the version by the effortlessly cool Robert Gordon.

Stamp Of A Vamp by Vic Godard and Subway Sect

Vic Godard’s Subway Sect were on of the first handful of British punk bands. Blatantly anti-rock and ant-stupid, they had little to no chance of the commercial success of the likes of The Clash and Sex Pistols. By the time I eventually got to see them – at Marton Country Club in the early ‘80s- Vic Godard had ditched dirty, smelly rock completely and had embraced swing and crooning with great gusto. Stamp Of A Vamp was their first single from that period and although major commercial success continues to elude Vic, he is still on the go and out and about.

Spectre vs Rector by The Fall

Even as early as their second album – Dragnet, 1979 – The Fall’s professionally cantankerous Mark E. Smith was keen to alienate as many people as possible with this painfully produced, but brilliant album. Spectre vs. Rector is a ghost story. As is my gangster yarn Spectres.

Supernatural Noir is published on 31st October but you can pre-order it now, if you fancy!

Paul also dropped by to share his playlist for Small Time Crimes.

Cheers!

Bio: Paul D. Brazill’s books include Last Year’s Man, Supernatural Noir, A Case Of Noir, and Kill Me Quick. He has had writing published in various magazines and anthologies, including The Mammoth Books of Best British Crime. He has even edited a few anthologies, including the best-selling True Brit Grit – with Luca Veste. His blog is here.

Supernatural Noir.

Online Issue #1

Our first online issue is live now!

online issue 1 cover

Earl Javorksy, Gabino Iglesias, Andrew Nette, Tom Piccirilli, David Swinson, Alex Segura, James Sallis, Peter Watts, Stuart MacBride, Christine Mangan, Patricia Abbott, Joe R Lansdale and Kasey Lansdale, Dana King and more.

What’s the deal with online issues? Find out more here.

 

Review: Terror is Our Business: Dana Roberts’ Casebook of Horrors

Terror is Our Business: Dana Roberts’ Casebook of Horrors is a collection of short stories that follow the investigations of supernormal investigator Dana Roberts. The first stories in the collection were written by Joe R. Lansdale and use an external narrator to frame the stories. It’s a simple but effective technique that draws the reader right in to the narrative.

One of the things I appreciated right off the bat is that Dana Roberts is something of a skeptic. She doesn’t consider her work to involve the supernatural; she is firm in her use of the term supernormal because she maintains that what is happening is just something we can’t explain yet. She strives for a more scientific and logical view of her investigations. In that respect she’s more Scully than Mulder and one of the reasons this is very effective is that when she is scared the reader has the sense that things are very bad. She isn’t reckless but she’s always prepared for a very normal explanation to reports of possible supernormal events. I think my own healthy skepticism about ghosts and such is part of the reason I immediately clicked with this approach to the stories and I imagine that a wide range of readers will find these stories immeasurably entertaining, even if they aren’t die-hard horror fans.

In spite of her insistence that most of her cases turn out to be bats or mice living inside the walls, Dana has some incredible experiences she does share with us. Each story contains its own surprise in the discovery of the culprit and the resolution of the problem.

Lansdale suggested that readers enjoy one story at a time and I employed that approach while reading this collection. I was thoroughly immersed in Dana Roberts’ world and the rhythm of Lansdale’s stories when Kasey Lansdale introduced us to Jana.

I had been wondering how such a great collection of stories would be impacted by the introduction of a co-author and sidekick for our protagonist.

In Dana Roberts and her adventures, Joe R. Lansdale gives us storytelling greatness. When Dana and Joe join forces with Jana and Kasey great stories become supergreat tales that provide a whole new level of entertainment for the reader.

Formal, proper, logical, rational… these are all terms I could use to describe Dana Roberts and all are meant as compliments. By contrast Jana is irreverent, impulsive and often inappropriate. She thinks all those things that you dare not say, only sometimes her thoughts slip out before she reins them in. She’s the spice Dana Roberts didn’t know she needed in her life.

She’s the spice I didn’t know I needed, but when I started reading Blind Love I looked up at my husband and said, “Oh hell, yeah.” And then I kicked him out of the room so that I wouldn’t be disturbed.

I have a feeling that as a reader I’m about to suffer a long period of withdrawal while waiting for more Dana and Jana stories to keep me awake at night.