The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde

Publication Date: May 1, 2009

Its 1985 and the fictional world is parallel to our own and someone is kidnapping literary characters. Its the job of Thursday Next, occupant of our world but detective in the Literary Detective Division, to find the culprit and stop them before its too late.

 

 

Every book claims to be like the work of a better selling author. They’ll up the ante saying that the work is by a author who is the modern version of the author to whom they’re likened. Usually they could not be less like the author whose name they use to promote themselves. In the case of Fforde, it would be in no way inaccurate to liken him to Douglas Adams. It would also not be inaccurate to say that they are nothing alike. Fforde and Adams share a well defined imagination with a lightness of being. Their worlds are intricate. Fforde is clearly extremely well read. The characters created by others in his story are wholly within character. The description of the fictional world is beautiful and complete.

Thursday Next is a complex character. The Eyre Affair is part time travel and part fantasy. History is rewritten, extinct species are not as extinct as one might think (Thursday has a pet Dodo). Her father can slow time and has been hunted by the Chrono Guard. There is simply too much to outline when it comes to this wonderful character. In the book world, characters play role. Jane Eyre is married to a fictional character not from her own book. There is an incredibly intricate bureaucracy in both the real world and book world and a delicate ecosystem in both. There are bookworms that eat prepositions and poop punctuation. Yes, it’s just crazy, but it works so beautifully well.

The Eyre Affair is a dance. There is chaos and just when you think there could be no resolution to anything it all comes together and things fall into place. Fforde gives a master class in creativity. His world is stunning. Kids trade cards of authors instead of baseball players and whole religions grow up around favorite works of fiction.  Perhaps the “He who shall not be named” bad guy is a little weak but in the end it makes sense. The Eyre Affair is exciting and poignant and there’s a hint of romance but not so much that it distracts from the master world building.

Despite his weak entrance, Archeron Hades is a brilliant bad guy. He is a sophisticated Snidley Whiplash, twirling his mustache and doing bad simply for the joy of the evil act and the satisfaction of a well crafted and executed plan. It;s not just a job for Hades, it’s a calling and he’s determined. Hades is not the only bad guy by a long shot. The Goliath Corporation may not be as innocent as they seem and just might complicate life more than people might like.

Ultimately, Thursday is a Mary Sue for those of us who love books. She travels through storylines and keeps the peace for favorite characters. Who wouldn’t want that job? The Eyre Affair is my Unicorn. It is the perfect book in that its so different than anything you’ll ever pick up that it is like discovered Adams and Pratchett again.

If you like quirky fiction, The Eyre Affair is 100% for you. Pick it up. There are no regrets.

 

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The True Face of Sir Isaac Brock by Guy St. Denis

Book Launch

On February 24, 2019, at 2 p.m., author and historian Guy St. Denis launched his latest book, The True Face of Sir Isaac Brock. The fully reserved event was held in the lovely Interpretive Centre of the Duff-Baby House located at 221 Mill Street in Windsor, Ontario.

 

 

Duff-Baby House, 221 Mill Street Windsor, Ontario

Windsor, Ontario may seem an odd place to launch a book about Sir Isaac Brock, but the author felt the General’s connection to the area, and especially to the place St. Denis chose for the launch, was strong. The Duff-Baby House is thought to be the oldest building in Upper Canada and the author believes that given the historic home’s strong military connection, especially to the War of 1812, that Sir Isaac Brock visited at least twice.

The first visit likely took place in 1810 and the second in 1812. Though St. Denis did not locate a definitive primary source that would validate the hunch, his expert opinion of the stature of the visiting military official that his visiting a home, so important in military history would have been a given.

 

St. Denis holding a confirmed picture of Sir Isaac Brock painted when the future military hero was 15 or 16 years old.

St. Denis has spent a decade wading through the hosts of portraits painted after the death of Brock at the Battle Queenston on October 13, 1812. A military hero, artists and, historians after the death of Brock would accept the image of the hero. St. Denis, a lively and entertaining speaker, regaled the packed house with the story of his search for a true image. The cover image of The True Face of Isaac Brock, while perhaps the well-known image of Brock is not actually a picture of the late General. The young, handsome, noble image is actually that of Lieutenant George Dunn. While St. Denis insisted to his publisher that no one should pretend the cover photo is actually Brock, it’s really the point of his research, isn’t it? A librarian way back when saw the image of the young and handsome Dunn and thought, “That’s what Brock should look like” and suddenly he gets a historic makeover. Why the portrait is cut off is a mystery to the author but makes for a book that will catch the eye of any history buff walking by a bookstore shelf.

St. Denis spoke for around 40 minutes about his book and future projects and he was such an engaging speaker that time flew. The question period following was brief but imbued with laughter as one savvy attendee asked if Brock would be “someone he would like.” St. Denis, who is also writing a biography of Brock, shed some light on what he considered the General’s “humanity,” and while he wasn’t initially a fan of the Six Nations, believed that opinion changed when the General met Tecumseh for whom he had great respect. A statue of the pair stands at a newly constructed roundabout leading from the east to Olde Sandwich Towne, the oldest area of Windsor.  Les Amis Duff Baby provided coffee and baked treats including a lovely cake featuring an image of the book’s cover. If only I’d been able to get a picture. I purchased a book which the author signed and must say, I can’t wait to start reading. The author’s next project is a study of the court-martial of General Henry Procter.

Les Amis Duff Baby hosted a lovely and well-organized event. To join them in their quest to preserve and educate, visit them on their Facebook page and send a message to the administration. Guy St. Denis is pursuing a Ph.D. in history at the University of Western Ontario. You can connect with him on Goodreads.

Author and Historian Guy St. Denis

You can buy The True Face of Sir Isaac Brock by Guy St. Denis on

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Hell’s Princess: The Mystery of Belle Gunness by Harold Schechter

Publication Date: March 1, 2018

In Hell’s Princess: The Mystery of Belle Gunness by Harold Schechter, Belle Gunness was a serial killer who operated between 1884 and 1908. She killed at least 14 people (including her own adopted daughter) but possibly as many as 40. Detected in 1908, she apparently died in a house fire with her remaining three adopted children, and though a man went to trial for the arson and murder, not everyone was convinced.

Let me say right from the start, Hell’s Princess: The Mystery of Belle Gunness is one of the most compelling books I’ve read in a long time. Not a generally well-known serial killer today, Belle Gunness was a Norwegian-American who operated out of La Porte, Indiana. Her victims appear to have been exclusively her fellow Norwegian immigrants. She’d advertised in the Norwegian papers located in Chicago for a handyman and then would operate a love scam quite a lot like we see today online. Continue reading Hell’s Princess: The Mystery of Belle Gunness by Harold Schechter

No Way to Treat a Lady by William Goldman

Noted novelist and screenwriter, William Goldman, died today at the age of 87. Goldman’s first original screenplay was Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1967) which he followed with some of his well-known scripts that include The Princess Bride (1973) and Marathon Man (1974), which were originally novels. One of my favorite Goldman novels is No Way to Treat a Lady (1964), so I’ve chosen that work to share with you. If this novel doesn’t appeal to you, look into this very diverse author’s body of work. There is something out there perfectly suited for your tastes.

Publication Date: 1964

 

No Way to Treat a Lady by William GoldmanNo Way to Treat a Lady was originally published under the name Harry Longbaugh and written over a two week period, No Way to Treat a Lady imagines that there were two Boston Stranglers who were aware and deeply jealous of each other and follows the investigation to track them down.

Continue reading No Way to Treat a Lady by William Goldman

Brett Enters the Square Circle by David D’Aguanno (author) and Henry Travis Carter (narrator)

Publication Date: April 12, 2018

 

Stacey Ashton has disappeared. While Melanie Foster thinks she may have run off with Melanie’s husband. It soon becomes clear that there’s a good chance that she was murdered. But by who? Can suave, handsome, best-butt-in-the-nation, man-for-the-ages Brett Cornell solve the case Brett Enters the Golden Circle is the fifth book in the Brett Cornell series.

 

 

Continue reading Brett Enters the Square Circle by David D’Aguanno (author) and Henry Travis Carter (narrator)

Wedding Bells for Brett by David D’Aguanno

Publication Date: March 15, 2018

 

Wedding Bells for Brett by David D'AguannoIn Wedding Bells for Brett by David D’Aguanno, Brett Cornell, a heartthrob for the 1980s, once again finds himself in hot water. A young woman that Brett married as a proxy of sorts is found dead in a hotel room under suspicious circumstances. Can Brett solve the case and dodge the sentence for which he seems destined. Wedding Bells for Brett is the fourth book in the Brett Cornell series. Continue reading Wedding Bells for Brett by David D’Aguanno

The Earth Bleeds Red by Jackson Baer, narrated by Dan Carroll

Publication Date: January 29, 2018

 

In The Earth Bleeds Red by Jackson Baer, Scott Miller’s daughter, Ashley, is kidnapped and presumed dead. Her boyfriend is the only witness and is, to the police, the obvious suspect until three other missing girls are found dead bearing the mark of a serial killer known to the FBI. With the clock ticking on Ashley’s life, will she be found in time?

 

 

 

 

Continue reading The Earth Bleeds Red by Jackson Baer, narrated by Dan Carroll

Brett Aerobicizes (Brett Cornell Mysteries) by David D’Aguanno

Publication Date: February 6, 2012 (Audible version was released on December 12, 2017)

 

Brett Aerobicizes (Brett Cornell Mysteries) by David D'AguannoIn Brett Aerobicizes (Brett Cornell Mysteries) by David D’Aguanno, private investigator Brett Cornell is back and once again on the hot seat. A man with whom he had a very public punch-up is found dead and the bullet that killed him came from Brett’s gun. Can he find out who is setting him up before he’s locked up for good? Brett Aerobicizes is the second book in the Brett Cornell series.

Continue reading Brett Aerobicizes (Brett Cornell Mysteries) by David D’Aguanno

Poolside with Brett by David D’Aguanno

Release Date: October 30, 2017

 

Poolside with Brett by David D'AguannoIn Poolside with Brett by David D’Aguanno, it’s the 1980s in New Jersey, the age of excess. Big hair, hard drugs and lots of sex and one man who is acing the era is Private Investigator, Brett Cornell. He’s winning big and has attracted the attention of an exotic beauty who wants to feature him in one of her adult films and a wealthy woman has hired him to find her husband. Seems like life is going well until Brett finds the missing husband in the trunk of his car. Is someone trying to set him up? Brett must solve the case to get back to his charmed life. Poolside with Brett is the first book in the Brett Cornell series.    Continue reading Poolside with Brett by David D’Aguanno

Cupcakes, Lies, and Dead Guys: An Annie Graceland Mystery by Pamela DuMond

Publication Date: November 8, 2010 | Audio Release Date: November 12, 2013

 

Cupcakes, Lies, and Dead Guys: An Annie Graceland Mystery by Pamela DuMondIn Cupcakes, Lies, and Dead Guys: An Annie Graceland Mystery by Pamela DuMond, Annie’s move to Los Angeles from Wisconsin with her up-and-coming actor husband seems perfectly timed. Her life is falling into place as her business succeeds. If only she didn’t feel the emotions of others. Who needs to know about someone’s foot fetish or struggles with weight loss and insecurity? Annie’s perfect life shatters when she discovers that her husband has been cheating and when the paramour dies, Annie is the prime suspect. To add to the problem of her telepathy, Annie now has a super annoying ghost hanging out with her. Can Annie solve the murder and save her sanity?

Continue reading Cupcakes, Lies, and Dead Guys: An Annie Graceland Mystery by Pamela DuMond