The Ethics of Silence by C. J. Nash

Publication Date: June 24, 2021

Mason Turner is sent from Earth to the Mars Colony to investigate a murder. What Mason finds is a community entrenched in its secrets and a people divided and information a commodity that is in short supply. With everyone and time working against him will Mason uncover the secrets of the red planet?

I was given this book by the author, C. J. Nash, in exchange for an honest review.

 

Let me begin by saying that the plotline of this story is a great idea. One of my former coworkers always said “Everyone hates the new guy” and that is the first thing that Mason learns when he gets off of the space craft and meets his guide, Janet. The Mars colony wants to be left alone. They have faced obstacles that their early counterparts cannot imagine and the murder is perceived to be family business of a sort of Mason is an interloper. No one likes him, no one wants him there (even the guy who requested him) and if he’s not careful he may go the way of his long dead investigative subject.

The first third of The Ethics of Silence is world building. I don’t know Nash’s background but I would guess he has a strong base in a scientific field. There are clever callbacks that short cut the process. Mason meets a character that Janet calls a “Morelock” which will immediately paint a picture for readers familiar with The Time Machine by H.G. Wells. Some readers may call this lazy but it’s done in a way that is referential and yet conveys the attitude of the colonists toward an idea of digging into the planet they see as simply too risky and perhaps on the fringe of group-think. Early on Nash highlights a natural division in a small community that is perhaps reminiscent of any early and sparsely populated colony. 

Nash’s writing style involves a lot of telling. In one scene an attempt is made on Mason’s life and we get a lengthy description of what happened from Janet instead of seeing the event. The exposition is weighty and, for this reader, bogged the story down a bit. In the aftermath, Janet is held responsible for the event and Mason, contrary to common sense as we know there’s no way for him to leave, just as the investigation is starting pleads to go home and for another investigator to be sent to punish him instead of Janet. I found that outburst to be inconsistent with the situation that the plot has set up. In addition, I found it really odd that we were in Chapter 5 before Mason learns the name of the deceased. Janet tells him that one of the rules is not to rush but he seems to have a lack of natural curiosity that one would find  natural in an investigator. 

I’ll be honest with you, readers, when I started reading this novel I did not have high hopes. The story has good bones but there were things to which this reader had to adjust. The aforementioned world building made it unclear if the story would pick up at some point though logic said it would. There are few to no transitions in dialogue which, for this reader, threw me off a bit. Transitions are overall unnecessary in literature but they are what modern readers expect instead of the rapid fire Gilmore Girls style give and take which – lets be frank – can be fun once you get used to the speed and quick wit of the banter. What I least expected is what happened in The Ethics of Silence, the story took a rapid and unexpected turn for the interesting and suddenly Mason et al got clever which naturally caused this reader to realize that the first part was him getting his footing. Not so interesting at first but once it grabs you, you’re caught.

It’s often said that male authors can’t write female characters. Nash has set himself in a world where he is redefining natural character experience so the rules don’t apply. Janet is a character much like the other residents of Mars in her banter and very different to Mason in her approach to life. They read, at times, like two sides of the same character with Mason often coming off as the softer or more naïve which is a nice contrast. 

All of this said, the story does pick up and become quite interesting. Mason and Janet do develop as characters. Janet, perhaps, not as naturally as Mason but she does become quite interesting within the story. I opened the review saying that the plotline of this story is a really good idea. There are little twists that highlight a difference of outlook that I really enjoyed that reads as organic – and when you read The Ethics of Silence – you will note that as a play on words. 

Overall, I enjoyed The Ethics of Silence. Were I not reading it to review, I likely would have stopped reading early on when Janet was still highlighting the “rules” for Mason. My recommendation is to pick up The Ethics of Silence, hang in there and then savor the skill of the story you end up with. I could also add that some authors that I don’t enjoy also employ this method and they’re NYT Bestsellers so obviously, there are lots of people who prefer this style of writing.

Pick up The Ethics of Silence and let me know what you think.

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The Lions of Fifth Avenue by Fiona Davis

Publication Date: August 4, 2020

Laura Lyons is a housewife in 1913 living with her family in an apartment in the New York Public Library where her husband is the superintendent. She enrolls in Columbia Journalism School and finds a new world outside of the library walls and her where women have their own identiy. When someone starts stealing rare books and her lifestyle is at risk, she has to make a choice.

Eighty years later, Laura’s granddaughter, Sadie, is hired as a curator at the New York Public Library. When rare books from an exhibit Sadie is setting up starts to go missing, Sadie starts to dig into the past and may not like what she finds.

 

Readers of my blog will know that I love historical fiction. I full expected to be fangirling in this review when starting the books. The mystery, varied timelines, New York Public Library tie, it sounds fascinating on paper. The paper on which it is fascinating is not the pages of this book. The Lions of Fifth Avenue is not the worst book I’ve ever read. It felt self-indulgent on the part of the author. Davis wanted this setting and timeline tie but the story and characters never really seemed to come together. This is the only book I’ve read by Fiona Davis so the rest of her books might be brilliant. Am I likely to find out? No. 

Continue reading The Lions of Fifth Avenue by Fiona Davis

A Little Birdie Told Me by Sharley Scott

Publication Date: January 25, 2021

It’s 1988 and Belinda is working in a nursing home after having had quite the career driven fall.  Her new job is boring and a bit frustrating but the light at the end of that tunnel is her co-worker, Joe for whom she harbors a secret attraction though her insecurity stands in the way of hope. When thefts and worse start to happen at the nursing home, she turns to Joe. When she discovers something disturbing, she has to decide if she’ll go along to get along or if she’ll stand up for what is right and protect her residents.

I received this book for review from the Book Club Reviewer Facebook group.

 

A Little Birdie Told Me is a snapshot of the 80s. Scott puts great care into the narrative place in time. I graduated high school and started college in 1988. Scott winks at her readers through topical jokes that, given the popularity with young folk of the 80s, will unlikely become dated but could evade a certain audience but then the genre of women’s fiction itself can sometimes be a bit specific. Scott’s humor will have broad appeal. Despite the attention to background detail, A Little Birdie Told Me is a quick read that flows really well. Continue reading A Little Birdie Told Me by Sharley Scott

Highland Lioness: A Highland Romance of Tudor Scotland (The Highland Ballad Series Book 4) by Kristin Gleeson

Publication Date: January 15, 2021

Morag McGregor is sent to Scottish Court by her father in hopes that she will make a match or, at least, dampen her desire to get revenge on her neighbour, the Campbells. In a setting tense with religious and political strife will Morag sate her desire for revenge and return to her secret love who is waiting at home?

I received this book for review from the Book Club Reviewer Facebook group.

Highland Lioness is the fourth book in the Highland Ballad Series

 

I have not read any of the previous three books in the Highland Ballad Series and believe that this is the first book I’ve read by Kristin Gleeson and to be quite honest, I did not have high hopes for Highland Lioness in meeting Morag and she and her co-conspirators were lying in wait to sabotage the Campbell’s cattle. First impression was that she was going to be one of these borderline compulsive characters that would careen brainlessly from scrape to scrape until someone “tamed” her completely discounting the historical context of how dangerous a spirited woman might be Continue reading Highland Lioness: A Highland Romance of Tudor Scotland (The Highland Ballad Series Book 4) by Kristin Gleeson

Serious Moonlight (How to be Dead) by Dave Turner

CORRECTION: I said in an earlier version of this review that this book was last in the series. I am overjoyed to learn that it’s not.

 

Publication Date: December 31, 2018

 

Dave Marwood and his girlfriend, Melanie, are due for a bit of a break in the country after saving the City of London from destruction. It’s a bit of a worry that Death, the last standing Horseman of the Apocalypse and Dave’s employer, is having a bit of an existential crisis and Dave has been acting as his flip-flopped toy scythed stand-in, but a relationship needs tending. The break, however; is not the peaceful time away the couple anticipates when they find themselves beset by ghosts and the people seeking them.

Serious Moonlight by Dave Turner is the fifth book in the How to be Dead series.

 

Part of my life’s work is finding books that give me the feeling I got when I first read the works of Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett, and Jasper Fforde. The beautiful humor and massive creativity of the aforementioned authors are qualities shared by the great Dave Turner. Continue reading Serious Moonlight (How to be Dead) by Dave Turner

Whose Body? by Dorothy L. Sayers

Publication Date: September 3, 2019

 

Whose Body? by Dorothy L. SayersWhose Body? by Dorothy L. Sayers is the first novel of the Lord Peter Death Bredon Wimsey series. Lord Peter is financially independent and has a special hobby; he solves murder cases. When an unknown dead body is found in Mr. Thipps’s bathtub, he is on the case. With the help of his butler-friend Bunter, a talented forensic and semi-professional photographer and his friend Charles Parker, who works for Scotland Yard, he sets out to solve this mystery.

Whose Body? was released in 1928 and, like many first novels of a series, the reader is introduced to a number of characters that reappear as the series continues. The protagonist, Lord Peter was born in 1890 and is a World War I veteran. In the series, he ages in real-time making him 28 years old at the time the first book was released.

Whose Body? by Dorothy L. Sayers is a procedural-police meets private-inspector investigation story that is told by Lord Peter and Scotland Yard inspector Parker. Therefore, readers have a great overview of all on-going investigations and can solve the crime along the way. Continue reading Whose Body? by Dorothy L. Sayers

Song of Nümenstar by A.J. Feagin

Publication Date: August  25, 2019

 

In the Song of Nümenstar by A.J. Feagin, a group of Daejic students disappears. Commander Karawn Kross and the female Mystik Ka’myla Ad’uar embark on a mission to find them. What they find instead while searching the catacombs beneath the highly secure city of Soaleste can change everything.

 

A lot of authors attempt to boost their writing credibility by saying that their stories are like those of popular or bestselling authors and seldom can the similarity been seen by the reader. And, when it is, it comes off as a poor copy. This is not the case in Song of Nümenstar by A.J. Feagin. The Amazon entry likens Song of Nümenstar to Dune and Star Wars and I can see the likeness. The similarity falls in the incredible work Frank Herbert did in building the world of Aarkis. It’s in the pageantry and diversity of Star Wars. Continue reading Song of Nümenstar by A.J. Feagin

Reviving the Commander by Nadine Keels

Publication Date: June 4, 2019

 

Reviving the Commander by Nadine C. KeelsIn Reviving the Commander by Nadine C. Keels, Opal, to the outside world, seems to be happy, carefree and content with her spinsterhood. When she meets the Commander Exemplar of Diachona’s Army, a man who longs for his late wife, she feels an undeniable and yet hopeless attraction. The Exemplar is the first man she’s felt a pull within a long time, but he’s the father of the king. Opal has a dark secret. Is she destined to live her life alone?

Continue reading Reviving the Commander by Nadine Keels

The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde

Publication Date: May 1, 2009

 

In The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde, it’s 1985 in the fictional world that is parallel to our own. Someone is kidnapping literary characters. It’s the job of Thursday Next, the occupant of our world but the detective in the Literary Detective Division, to find the culprit and stop them before it’s too late.

 

Every book claims to be like the work of a bestselling author. They’ll up the ante saying that the work is by an 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 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. Continue reading The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde

Daisy Jones & The Six: A Novel by Tara Jenkins Reid

Publication Date: March 5, 2019

In Daisy Jones & The Six: A Novel, it’s the early 1970s and Daisy Jones is a major L.A. talent playing in small clubs and dreaming of living life to its fullest and making the kind of music she loves, but she and her record label have different ideas of success. When Daisy meets Bill, they clash in a big way but together they will become epic. Daisy Jones & The Six: A Novel is a rock & roll autobiography set in the days of sex, drugs and rock and roll.

 

 

The literary circle in which I travel has been raving about this book for a few weeks, so I decided to pick it up and ended up reading the 336-mock-rock history in one sitting. Daisy Jones & The Six: A Novel is a visual read. Framed as an oral history, it starts with Daisy, the poor little rich girl. She is a free-range child with a big talent and is broken in a way that leads her to the sort of self-destruction that will lead readers to think they’ve heard the story before … because they have. In fact, I have read that this novel is a fictionalized version of Fleetwood Mac, a band about which I know almost nothing (I was only permitted to listen to gospel music growing up so my actual rock knowledge era is the 1990s and Queen) so caught none of the parallels.

Overall Daisy Jones & The Six is a generic saga of decadence in the era of bell bottoms, booze and blow. There is a heavy reliance on readers being familiar with the decadence of the rock scene in the 1970s. Reid paints a very accurate emotional picture of the era. The fashion and music culture read true. Reid in no way goes for broke. She alludes to the uncomfortable, skirting around it. There’s something to be said for a lack of gratuitous self-destruction but that’s the 1970s; you do it or you don’t and there are ways not to celebrate the illegal. Word on the street is that the novel is becoming a movie and to translate, the screenwriters will sensationalize, so in the end, discretion is not valorous.

Daisy, herself, is somewhat poorly characterized. She is an amalgamation of troubled female singers. I have seen the hand-wringing and worried trigger warnings. Let’s be clear, a lot of what is on the page is very general. There are groupies and there are no ID checks. There are some really questionable things but they’re glossed over. There is a saint vs. whore subtext for Daisy and another female character that is perplexingly overdone in literature and discredits everyone, and really, distracts from the core story adding a tragic Janis Joplin spin without the emotional impact because that’s hard to connect with the cliff notes of a 1970s singer. This is in no way a spoiler because I don’t know if readers, in the end, will care if Daisy wins or loses … and in this case, winning is perhaps not holding the expected definition. We know Daisy captivates because we’re told she does, it isn’t something we see.

If you’re considering reading Daisy Jones & the Six, do it because it’s getting rave reviews and I may be the lone 2-stars. If you’re looking for a really interesting story of the 1970s, head over to Netflix and watch When You’re Strange; a film about The Doors.

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About Tara Jenkins Reid
For more information Tara Jenkins Reid and her work, visit her website. You can connect with her on FacebookGoodreads, Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter @tjenkinsreid.