January Fiction Roundup, Two Threepacks

A six pack of popular fiction by and about women.

I can tell that these books are written by and for women.

In the Bush trilogy, about every other page there is a detailed description of what someone is wearing. Entirely lost on me, of course. As are the drooly descriptions of the pretty male characters. In the Huff books, the male characters are very pretty and the objects of lust as well.

The Bush books have considerable autobiographical elements. Huff’s probably do, too, though there are parts I certainly hope are not from her life.


 

Candy Apple Red (2005) by Nancy Bush
Electric Blue (2006) by Nancy Bush
Ultraviolet (2007) by Nancy Bush
http://www.janekellymysteries.com/

This is nicely written, if  not particularly difficult crime fiction.  (Did I say I need fiction to be difficult?  I did not.)

In Candy Apple Red we meet Jane Kelly is kind of adrift and not sure where she wants to go, out of school, between jobs and guys, but sort of happy where she is (in Portland OR). Maybe she wants to move up from process server to “information specialist”, i.e., private detective. But maybe not.

Events draw her into a complex case (as well as adopting a pug dog), involving a wealthy, not especially functional family, with a number of dark secrets that have to be unraveled. Naturally, romance, friendship, and family add to the messy situation, leaving Jane to wonder if this is really what she is cut out to do.

Spoiler alert: sequels!

In Electric Blue, Jane is training for a license to become a real PI, while working with friend and mentor Dwayne Durbin. This is mostly grunt work, records searches and other research.

Until she gets called into the affairs of the rich, highly dysfunctional Purcell family.

The dark tangle of secrets harks to the old San Francisco noir, with murder and madness and menace just under the surface.  And like classic noir, the PI has a messy and conflicted love life, such as it is.

For someone who is not yet a real PI, Jane sure acts like one.

And when will she straighten out her own life?

Ultraviolet continues the story, as Jane becomes quite a bit more skilled at investigations, and we see how a female PI can be quite effective in unraveling stories. Not so much muscle, way more getting people to tell you things. And it even sometimes helps to have your mother along.

This case involves a murder of the father of the bride, with an obvious suspect who hires Jane to clear her. The family is quite messed up, and no one seems to tell the truth about anything.

Will she ever get to end of this tangle mass of deception?

And how will she unravel her own confused life?


 

 

 

The Enchantment Emporium (2009) by Tanya Huff
The Wild Ways (2011) by Tanya Huff
The Future Falls (2013) by Tanya Huff
http://andpuff.livejournal.com/

 

 

Huff is a prolific and excellent writer, who I haven’t read very much.

These three books are about the very interesting Gale family. Evidently, the Gales are a large family endowed with powerful Earth magic. They are not to be messed with. Actually, they will mess with you if you aren’t nice. You really don’t want the Aunties on your case. And if they want something from you, they will get it—“things work out” for the Gales.

 

The Gales are a serious “auntocracy”, as Bertie Wooster termed it. (If you haven’t read all the Wooster books, bookmark this page and go to your public library and read them now. All of them. I’ll wait here.)

 

In the Enchantment Emporium, Alysha Gale moves to Calgary to take over her Grandmother’s store.

The residents all tell her it’s great, and “things are happening in Calgary”.  The question is, what exactly is happening? And what happened to Gran, anyway? And why are there dragons flying about? This can’t be good.

Not that Gale girls shrink from being in the middle of a supernatural irruption.

 

Many things indeed are happening in Calgary, confusing and dangerous things.. But things usually work out for the Gales.   And who says Alie is an ordinary Gale girl?

 

In Wild Ways, we see how things work out. Alysha establishes a new Gale family establishment in Calgary, complete with various cousins and other Gales.

 

Cousin Charlie (for Charlotte), very close friend of Allie, but still a Wild One; is on the road with a band, but base at Allie’s house.

 

Then she is called/forced to go to join a band in Nova Scotia, where something’s going on with an oil company wanting to drill off a nature preserve, local music festivals, supernatural irruptions—and apparently Gran is involved up to her teeth.

 

It’s up to Charlie, along with cousin Jack, to see that things work out, and to discover her own path through the Wild Ways. Young Jack (who has a very unique ancestry) must grow up and discover his path, too.

 

In The Future Falls, it is clear that “Charlie and Jack” are very, very “complicated”, in the Facebookian way. Worse, he is far too young/she is far too old to “get together”, according to the Gale family rules.  And family is everything.

 

Meanwhile, a large asteroid is coming in, and conventional human technology will not be able to deflect it. The Gales normally don’t worry about anything outside the family, and, in any case, are rooted in the Earth (which apparently extends to the top of the atmosphere).

 

But it is a very stupid solar system indeed that drops a big rock on Allie’s children, let alone the Aunties. Fer goodness sake, they’ll probably roll back time and “fix” the universe so Rocks Do Not Fall On The Gales.

 

We expect the Gales to fix it, but it is far from obvious how.


 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Bush, Nancy, Candy Apple Red, New York, Kensington Publishing, 2005.
  2. Bush, Nancy, Electric Blue, New York, Kensington Books, 2006.
  3. Bush, Nancy, Ultraviolet, New York, Kensington Publishing Company, 2007.
  4. Huff, Tanya, The Wild Ways, New York, Daw, 2011.
  5. Huff, Tanya, The Wild Ways, New York, Daw Books, 2013.
  6. Huff, Tanya, The Enchantment Emporium, New York, Daw Books, 2009.

 

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