About Declan Finn

Declan Finn is the author of Honor at Stake, an urban fantasy novel, and nominated for Best Horror at the first annual Dragon Awards. He has also written The Pius Trilogy, to be released by Silver Empire Press. Finn has also written "Codename: Winterborn," an SF espionage thriller, and "It was Only on Stun!" and "Set to Kill," murder mysteries at a science fiction convention.

Attack of the Witch King

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John C Wright posted an article called The Last Crusade: In the Kingdom of Witches, part of his series on what’s wrong with Western Civilization. The usual crowd of nutcases, hysterical harpies, and idiots — usually known as simply “social media.” —  had only one takeaway from this: “WRIGHT BELIEVES IN WITCHES! HE THINKS THEY’RE TRYING TO TAKE OVER THE WORLD!!!!!”

At the very least, they’re consistent: they’ve once more missed the point.

In order to help social media grasp the obvious, I have taken it upon myself to translate this great essay into small words. After all, this must be understood by small people.

The following, strange as it might seem, contains spoilers for my own books series, Love at First Bite.

The far left of the twentieth century was always a religion. The far Left bases most of their beliefs boilerplate socialism. Since the Russian revolution took  a lot from the French revolution, there is a lot of blood as part of the Leftist faith, and a lot of anti-theist secularism.

Leftism has kept up this tradition, perhaps even better than the Soviet Union ever did. Communism killed a hundred million people in the last century, over the course of 70 years.

Just to highlight this one more time. That’s a hundred million. 100,000,000 dead.

In the United States, we’re up to, what, fifty million aborted children and counting?  Over the course of less than fifty years? We keep that up, abortion will have wiped out more people than Communism along the same amount of time. That’s not even counting the numbers in other countries around the world.

The funny thing about the Soviet Union is that they actually went out of their way to eliminate free love moments. Even the USSR, with all of their butchery and violence, knew that the traditional family structure, and having children, was vital to a nation.

Leftists today haven’t even learned that lesson. Isn’t that sad?

But the Leftists of today have decided that abortion is a “right” — one that supersedes the freedom of religion (such as Catholic hospitals being forced to perform them), freedom of speech (holding a placard advocating prayer or adoption is banned within X-feet of an abortionist), and basic standards of operating theater cleanliness.

What does one call a group who are hip deep in blood and want to go deep sea diving in even more blood? “Witches” is a good summary, don’t you think?

But Wright wants to go deeper.

the essential nature of a witch, as she was portrayed in fairy tales (which contain a good deal more sense than newspapers) was of a withered, childless spinster: a woman with nothing to offer the community, but whom age and curiosity had opened the secret properties of plants and stars and other things easily turned to venom.

Welcome to Leftism. The motto seems to be “let’s take anything good and pure” and turn it toxic.

After all, Maleficent cannot be an evil psychotic killer who will take deadly retribution over minor slights; she must be rewritten with a backstory to make her the heroine.

Gaston and his henchman cannot be Alpha and lackey in the latest Beauty and the Beast film — there must now be a homosexual component.

Don’t even get me started on those who framed Samwise and Frodo’s relationship as gay. Or Holmes and Watson. Or Archie Goodwin and Nero Wolfe. Or Bert and Ernie. Because good, pure, simple friendships can’t exist in their world, it must be sexual, because sex is everything, right? I haven’t seen Lord Peter Wimsey and Bunter yet, but give it time, I’m sure.

Should we even discuss the freaks on parade as of late? I refuse to call them Civil Rights protesters — sorry, that’s Martin Luther King leading a parade of people wearing their Sunday finest who just wanted to join the main stream. And be it the Occupy rioters living like animals and defecating in the streets and businesses of New York, or the “womyn” in gynecological garb wandering around in January 2017, these people very clearly don’t like “mainstream.” They want the mainstream to accept THEM, condone, bless, and accept whatever the BS du jour is. They don’t seem to want simple toleration, since “toleration” means to put up with something abhorrent to you. Apathy is not allowed — you will be made to care. You will be made to accept and bless it, and kneel before whatever bull is being force fed you, the culture, and there are lawyers for those who won’t bow down. Just try to be a Christian baker and tell me how that works for you.

And no, for those snickering twits on the internet, there isn’t a mystical, black-helicopter “they.” They’re in plain sight, after all. Marching in the circus garb they call “a statement,” when it’s really more like a thousand clowns.

Witches subvert. Witches turn things that are good and pure into poison. They turn children into child sacrifice. They turn the anti-abortion feminism of Susan B. Anthony into genitalia on parade. They turn Christian Charity into entitlement programs to buy votes. They promise a great society and deliver a broken culture and destroyed families.

Leftism has its own altars in the abortion clinic, and its own sacrifices called children. They have their own public displays of faith called riots, only disguised as “protests.”

Leftism. Witchcraft. Subversion. Alinsky. Same Stuff, Different Decade.

A review of Escaping Infinity, by Richard Paolinelli

In regards to fairness, I should mention that I was given a free e-copy of Escaping Infinity by author Richard Paolinelli.

When I was handed the book, I wasn’t quite certain what to expect, even when I saw the description on Amazon.

As the description reads …

Thousands have checked into the Infinity Hotel over the years. None of them have ever checked out.
Peter Childress and Charlie Womack are successful engineers on their way to Phoenix for an important presentation. But one of Charlie’s infamous “shortcuts” has gotten them good and lost once again. As night falls, the pair stumble across the Infinity Hotel and the promise of a meal, fuel and a good night’s sleep before starting off fresh in the morning is too good to pass up.
But while Charlie immediately takes to the hotel’s amazing amenities, Peter begins to uncover some of the hotel’s dark secrets – a seemingly unlimited number of floors, guests that appear out of time and place and a next morning that never seems to come. Worse still, the entrance to the Infinity has disappeared and no other apparent exit back to the outside world is in sight.
Now, under the watchful eyes of the hotel’s manager and front desk clerk, Peter searches for a way back out and uncovers the horrible truth behind the mystery of the Infinity Hotel.

It almost reads like a sci-fi The Hotel California as done in the Twilight Zone. If you’re worried that the description will spoil the plot, the flap copy only covers up to chapter 2. Our hero has already started to peace together that the hotel is bigger on the inside by this point…Yes. It’s bigger on the inside. Just wait until you get to the Star Trek references.

The style is very novel-like. It’s not Victor Hugo, but a modern novel, but Richard is very much an artist who has no pretensions. The novel is smart and well-thought-out, a mystery that plays perfectly fair, and gives the reader all of the pieces and parts to figure out what the bloody blue heck is going on. But you won’t figure it out.

Also, every named character has a back story. There’s at least one chapter of history for almost every named character.

I will say that going from the prologue to chapter 1 is a tad disorienting, as it goes from space opera, David Weber style, to a road trip in the South West. The last 10% of the book could have been an additional novel by itself, with what it pulled off. But the ending we got gave a complete, satisfying conclusion to the story, the characters, and the world that’s been established. And to some degree, it’s done something one a single novel that David Weber hasn’t even accomplished over the course of half a dozen books.

The ending we’re given is possibly one of the most Superversive, uplifting, hopeful endings you will ever see in a science fiction novel.

At the end of the day, this book starts out like David Weber, continued as written by Rod Serling, and ends with the epic scope of  John C. Wright. I won’t say that Paolinelli is in Wright’s league just yet. Give him another book or two, and expect Wright to have serious competition in the “awe-inspiring scale” category.

For JCW, I would give a 6/5 if I could. Richard will just have to settle with a 5/5.

Escaping Infinity is an awesome book, and I look forward to Paolinelli’s next work.

Review: The Unexpected Enlightenment of Rachel Griffin

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L. Jagi Lamplighter Wright once described her Rachel Griffin books as Fringe meets Narnia in Hogwarts. I don’t see the Fringe, but the Harry Potter is easier to see. I’ve finally gotten to The Unexpected Enlightenment of Rachel Griffin.

The plot is ….

Rachel Griffin wants to know everything. As a freshman at Roanoke Academy for the Sorcerous Arts, she has been granted to opportunity to study both mundane and magical subjects. But even her perfect recollection of every book she has ever read does not help her when she finds a strange statue in the forest-a statue of a woman with wings. Nowhere-neither in the arcane tomes of the Wise, nor in the dictionary and encyclopedia of the non-magic-using Unwary-can she find mention of such a creature. What could it be? And why are the statue’s wings missing when she returns?

 

When someone tries to kill a fellow student, Rachel soon realizes that, in the same way her World of the Wise hides from mundane folk, there is another, more secret world hiding from everyone-which her perfect recall allows her to remember. Her need to know everything drives her to investigate. Rushing forward where others fear to tread, Rachel finds herself beset by wraiths, magical pranks, homework, a Raven said to bring the doom of worlds, love’s first blush, and at least one fire-breathing teacher. Curiosity might kill a cat, but nothing stops Rachel Griffin!

Imagine the end of Harry Potter. You remember: the school is under full assault by the forces of darkness, things are blowing up, students are fighting, and great beasts are tramping around the campus?

Now imagine if that was book ONE, and that it was even MORE epic.

Yes, I mean that. We’ve got a dragon and hordes of the possessed out to slaughter the school. There’s even an evil math tutor (NOT named Moriarty). I had expected a few lines from Maleficent, but not this must. Heh.

There is no Hogwarts, but Roanoke Academy, in New York. Roanoke wasn’t lost, just misplaced for a while. Muggles are replaced by “the unwary.” If you wondered how the non-magical world looks, this gives you a great look at that, AS WELL AS establishes an overarching storyline. And trust me, this makes Voldemort look like Billy Crystal from Monsters University. And this time, our lead is 13 year old Rachel Griffin. She’s English royalty in America, and her classmates are from all over the world.

And yes, that paragraph alone puts it had and shoulders above the next nearest competitor, which treated America as a nonexistent land.

One of Rachel’s many new acquaintances is Sigfried Smith; who is a Dickens character, with the psychology that should come with it. (Oliver Twist is less fiction and more fantasy, orphans in the system aren’t that cute.) WARNING: Siggy is an acquired taste, but he grows on you, honest. Of course, we also have the magical princess of magical Australia.

Then we’re off to the races.

It’s all too easy to compare it to Harry Potter. It’s not fair…to Harry Potter. While I enjoyed it, the world of Harry Potter was so narrow and confined, you never really got the sense of the larger world. What did it look like? What would it look like?

Also with the books of Rachel Griffin, we get the perspective of someone who lives in the world of magic, excluding the Stranger in a Strange Land that we have in almost any other fantasy world. While Rowling relied on the tried and true “Alice in Wonderland” variety of dropping an outsider into a new world, make them the primary narrator — making information dumps to explain things both the narrator and to the audience, Lamplighter has made a complete world, while penning a narration that encompasses every question one might have about how things work. We haven’t gotten to the economic system yet, but I suspect that that’s coming.

Another achievement of Jagi here is having a full cast of characters. Unlike Harry Potter, who adopts the first two people he meets as friends, to the near exclusion of all others (let’s face it, Neville Longbottom was a punching bag until he became a sword swinging badass out of nowhere), Rachel gathers friends and acquaintances all over the place. There are mean girls, certainly, but nothing fits into the nice, neat little boxes that Rowling jammed her characters into.

There is no one house of “obviously villainy” here, despite obvious hints about it. Sure, there are ominous characters. There’s a Victor von Dread, who I expect to talk in all caps about Latveria. There’s a Salome Iscariot, who I am still very wary about, and will be until the series if over.

The characters are vividly drawn, and deeper than you’d expect. And the world is going to get very, very creepy.

It has been said more than once about Narnia that they were “too good to be wasted on Children.” The Unexpected Enlightenment of Rachel Griffin. might be one of them.

The short version is that this book is awesome, and you need to buy it and read it today. Just click here. You won’t regret it.

Declan Finn is a self-professed crazy person and author — but then, he repeats himself. He is also a Dragon Award nominated author for his “Catholic Vampire romance novels.“.  Most of his various and sundry ramblings can be found on his personal website. As well as all the other strange things he does. He is also in the habit of talking about himself in the third person when writing biographies on other people’s websites.

Monster Hunter Memoirs: Sinners, a review

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John Ringo’s second book in the Monster Hunter Memoirs: Sinners, is both better and worse than Grunge.Our hero from the last book, Chad, is continuing his mission to be a Monster Hunting killing machine. Due to circumstances beyond his control, he has to leave Seattle, his home base in Grunge. After complaining — a lot — about never wanting to be in the heat ever again, MHI headquarters has the perfect gig for him: New Orleans. The Big Easy has got a lot of problems, and it needs all the help it can get.

Sinners does a great job of capturing the flavor of New Orleans, especially when you consider that standard policy can boil down to “Don’t scare the tourists.” Every local either believes in the dark arts, or practices the dark arts. Of course, we have at least one team member who really wants to turn every other beastie into jambalaya, shootouts in cities of the dead, and one massive shootout at marti gras.

Oh, yes, and for the record, Mr. Ringo, I saw what you did there with those chapter titles.

Another thing Ringo did better here than in Grungeis build an emotional connection to his teammates. At the end of Grunge, one of Chad’s teammates dies.  Listening to John Ringo at DragonCon, we were supposed to feel the emotional impact of the character death. I didn’t then. Here? Oh yes. Characters were much better established, and for the most part, when characters died, I felt it.

Chad also has had a interesting, as well as a deep and abiding faith. This comes very apparent at the end, with a conclusion that’s uplifting enough that it deserves the label of Superversive.

Critics of Grungewill be happy to know that Chad spends less time getting lucky and more time being pummeled. There is even less sex in this book than in Grunge, and seriously, people, he spent more time on politics than sex. And for some reason, people claimed he was a Mary Sue …. to which I will soon reply with a blog post explaining what a Mary Sue looks like, because obviously, people have little to no experience with the phenomenon. Yes, he’s a super genius who’s good at shooting people, but he’s also hospitalized every few chapters.

The only thing that’s really off-putting about this novel is the marked shift from “looking backwards.”  In Grunge, there is a lot of time spend on his family, and Ringo outright states that the larger evil behind everything Chad is fighting is Chad’s brother. This book? Nope. Barely a whisper of Chad’s family, and not a whisper about what’s the ultimate evil of the trilogy. I’m wondering how much of that is editorial, or how much was in the process of the novel. These books are thinner than Ringo’s usual fair, so if you told me he wrote them as one continuous novel, broken up into a trilogy, that would explain certain things.

Also, in Grunge, time was spent on the moral of the story: “Chad” wrote each chapter to illustrate a point. Here, there’s no such clear lesson plan; “Chad” does have “pro-tips” scattered throughout, but the concept seems strangely abandoned. Perhaps this is due to the chaotic nature of New Orleans, where every night is insane, and the full moon is like Arkham asylum let everyone out on a day pass, so Chad is merely fitting in tips where he can.

Heh, it’s a coin toss.

Final verdict is still the same: Sinnersis even better than Grunge

Anyway, if you like this review, you might want to consider one of the following books for your reading pleasure.

 

Review: Iron Chamber of Memory

John C Wright has pulled off an amazing trick with his novel, Iron Chamber of Memory What started out as a Nora Roberts style romantic comedy ended in an epic battle on the scale of Mary Stewart and her books of King Arthur and Merlin. Okay, call it a fantasy romance. Quick! Where’s the soundtrack for Excalibur! I need O Fortuna to accompany the knights charging out of the mists!

Trust me, when I say it was epic, I mean EPIC.

You can kind of guess it from the cover.

Eye catching enough?

The description is as follows.

The small island of Sark in the English Channel is the last feudal government in Europe. By law, no motor vehicles run on the road, and no lights burn at night. Only the lord of the island may keep hounds.Into the strange, high house of Wrongerwood wanders Hal Landfall, penniless graduate student at Magdalen College, looking for his missing friend Manfred Hathaway, who has just inherited the lordship, the house, and the island. What he finds instead is the lovely, green-eyed Laurel, a beautiful girl from Cornwall who is Manfred’s wife-to-be.

 

There is said to be a haunted chamber in the house, erected by Merlin in ancient days, where a man who enters remembers his true and forgotten self. When Hal and Laurel step in, they remember, with fear and wonder, a terrible truth they must forget again when they step outside.

I wish I could go more into this story without given things away.

This book has haunted Wright for over a decade. The island it takes place on is real, even though it sounds like a fantasy construction, for it is a fantastic place.

The first 25% of the book is a romantic farce (like Bringing Up Baby, but actually funny). The next 25% is an epic romance. The third quarter …. transitions nicely into the last 25%, in which the fecal matter hits the air impeller, and we’re in for one heck of a ride.

Wright is in a level all of his own, wherein he brings together so many myths and legends, there were moments I paused and went “How did I not see this?” His dissertation director at Oxford is a Dr. Vodonoy. If you don’t see it, don’t worry, I didn’t either. You will be amused by a Mister Drake. He doesn’t actually have any lines of dialogue, but trust me, when Wright reveals the joke, you’ll enjoy it.
And in all of those elements of epicness and mythology clashing, good against evil, we have a bit like this.

“I am the son of The Grail Knight. My father showed me the cup when I was a boy, still with heaven’s innocence in me, so that the shining rays were visible to me: and in the Blood of the Grail he anointed me.”

“And after…”

“We moved to New York, and he opened a used bookstore.”

The unexpectedness of that line was … well, I was glad I didn’t wake the neighbors, laughing my tuchas off.
Or:

“Are you suffering from cutlery dysfunction?”

It’s times like those where I’m wondering if I’m reading Mary Stewart or Peter David. Either way, it works.
This is what, in my family, is called a “Novel novel.” There is more in common with Victor Hugo than James Patterson. I spent a lot of time admiring the crafting of story, words and phrasing. And I usually don’t note that sort of thing.
Humor? Check. Fantasy? Triple checked. Romance? Double checked in two different meanings of the world. Also, if you want a plot twist that makes Jeffery Deaver look like amateur hour? Quadruple checked (yes, really, four, I counted. Maybe 6).
Declan Finn is a Dragon Award nominated author. His “Catholic Vampire romance novels” can be found on his personal website. As well as all the other strange things he does.

Redemption in Death: can Revenge be Superversive?

In the light of the latest box office hit, John Wick: Chapter 2, there’s a question one should ask. Namely, can a revenge storyline be Superversive?

That is … a good question.

First, let’s look at the standard revenge storyline. Take someone who has an abundance of combat skills, and then promptly kill off a girlfriend / boyfriend / spouse/ fiancé(e) / best friend / random family member / dog. After that, you have said person go on a murderous rampage. Usually, a person of the opposite sex to replace the person killed off in chapter two. This is a pretty standard plot, filled with the usual clichés.

The execution of John Wick is unique in that it defied many of those tropes. His wife is dead before the movie begins. She leaves behind a dog for him, specifically for him to care for, lest he not even take care of himself. When he is assaulted and his dog is killed, we discover that Mr. Wick used to be a very bad man. He had found redemption and salvation in love, and in his wife. Without his wife to anchor him, he is already adrift. Killing the dog? That gives him something to aim at. The rest of the movie is John Wick displaying that yes, he knows gun-fu.

However, is revenge even considered uplifting? It can be entertaining, but I’m not sure of anything else. Killing people just to make the main character isn’t usually considered a justifiable reason in a court of law. John Wick was fun, but is it Superversive?  If you tilt your head and squint a little, you could see it as an anti-hero who had found the light, and needs to fight back the darkness within by killing off the darkness from his past … but that’s a stretch and a half.

Now, I’m not saying that’s an invalid point, but this is not a Superversive defense of John Wick, but of a genre. Can there be a revenge novel?

I think the answer is yes …. and no. I will give you two books, one is Terry Goodkind’s Wizard’s First Rule, and the other is Codename: Winterborn.

In WFR, Richard Cypher’s father is murdered by the dark forces of the sinister Darken Rahl, a tyrant from the next land over who literally sacrifices children to his dark overlords. Even his name is evil. On the one end, destroying fell overlords and their demonic masters is page 1 in the Superversive handbook: bad guys are bad, good guys are good, and do we even need to have this conversation?

In Codename: Winterborn, intelligence officer Kevin Anderson is sent on a mission to the Islamic Republic of France – yes, France – and his team is betrayed by the politicians on the Senate Intelligence Committee. And just how do you arrest a senator in the United States? There has been more than sufficient evidence to arrest senators on everything from bribery and corruption to manslaughter, to supporting terrorists, but no one leaves in disgrace, and if anything happens, they get a slap on the wrist — and that’s TODAY. So, what’s a lone spy going to do against 14 senators who have betrayed their country, and who have not only killed his friends, but will probably kill others in the future?

Technically, both are variations on for tyrannicide; killing a tyrant who needs killing. You could take the example of suggesting that someone should shoot Saddam Hussein, and thus preventing a war, as well as preventing his routine slaughters. WFR is the classic example, especially in fanasy. The second case could be a new look at tyrannicide in a democracy – enforcing a new definition of term limits upon traitors.

Morally ambiguous? That depends on how fine a line you walk. And how much fun you have pushing the main character.

From one point of view, Goodkind’s book is certainly Superversive because of the ending, which is one of the best examples of a bad guy being defeated by the power of love that I’ve ever seen — and no, it’s not an exaggeration, the solution is love … and a magical super weapon. It’s also a coin toss about whether or not it is even a revenge novel, as Richard happens to possess the key to said magical superweapon, so Richard must also defeat Darken Rahl in order to stay alive.

In the case of Winterborn and the lead, Kevin Anderson, it splits the hair a little finer. Anderson has thought out his actions, and has come to the conclusion that the only way to protect the country is to fulfill his oath to defend against enemies both foreign and domestic – and these folks are very domestic. Rational, reasoned, and his actions fit within his conscience.

Unfortunately, that’s where one gets to a sticking point – when does a righteous cause become entangled with a personal vendetta? All the reason in the world can’t separate a person from his own emotions for very long. What happens when Kevin Anderson starts to enjoy his work? Answer: his conscience gut-punches him and leaves him crying into his New England clam chowder (long story).

At the end of the day, a purely revenge novel can’t be Superversive. There really must be other elements to the story. With Wizard’s First Rule, there is a dark and terrible overlord who is coming to kill the hero who is thrown down through love (it works. Trust me on this). With Codename: Winterborn, there is throwing down a traitorous cabal willing to destroy their own country, and may not be taken down any other way … there are also Catholic missionaries riding to the rescue in act three, but that’s another kettle of strange.

That is not to say a revenge story is outside the bounds of Superversive fiction, but it cannot be Superversive for the revenge alone. It must at least have some element of redemption. It must have some element of justice. At the very least, it must have something bigger than oneself and one person’s goals. It must be more A Desert Called Peace, and less The Count of Monte Cristo (Penguin Classics).

Declan Finn is a Dragon Award and Planetary award nominated author. His “Catholic Vampire romance novels” can be found on his personal website. As well as all the other strange things he does.

Review: The Big Sheep

Rob Kroese’s The Big Sheep makes me want to go out and buy everything else the author has written. Dang it, have you even seen how many novels this guy has out? They’d have my book collection bury me alive if they were collected in physical format.This book was quite a shock. I was expecting something over the top and insane. This was more like if Jasper Fforde, Tom Holt, or Terry Pratchett went out and wrote a Raymond Chandler novel.

As the back of the cover says,

Los Angeles of 2039 is a baffling and bifurcated place. After the Collapse of 2028, a vast section of LA, the Disincorporated Zone, was disowned by the civil authorities, and became essentially a third world country within the borders of the city. Navigating the boundaries between DZ and LA proper is a tricky task, and there’s no one better suited than eccentric private investigator Erasmus Keane. When a valuable genetically altered sheep mysteriously goes missing from Esper Corporation’s labs, Keane is the one they call.

 

But while the erratic Keane and his more grounded partner, Blake Fowler, are on the trail of the lost sheep, they land an even bigger case. Beautiful television star Priya Mistry suspects that someone is trying to kill her – and she wants Keane to find out who. When Priya vanishes and then reappears with no memory of having hired them, Keane and Fowler realize something very strange is going on. As they unravel the threads of the mystery, it soon becomes clear that the two cases are connected – and both point to a sinister conspiracy involving the most powerful people in the city. Saving Priya and the sheep will take all of Keane’s wits and Fowler’s skills, but in the end, they may discover that some secrets are better left hidden.

Despite the opening paragraph, I would not even consider slandering this book with the label of dystopia. In this future, there was a problem, everything fell apart for a while, it was never entirely fixed, and government, being government, just walled off the problem area and declared it fixed. There’s a reason it’s called the DZ.

But, in short, the bad parts of LA still suck. No one is surprised.

This was incredibly well put together. The city itself was even a character. Hell, the DZ is a character before you even get to the wretched place.

The jokes are sly without being overly cute. The sheep they’re trying to find is called “Mary.” So of course, they suspect that there’s …. wait for it … something about Mary, and part of the problem is that she doesn’t have a little lamb.

We won’t even get into the titanium shoulder and the crematorium. You have to experience that one for yourself.

Part of the nice thing about this story is that Kroese knows what the reader will conclude as they work through the mystery. And of course, like any good mystery writer, he cuts ahead of them, and pushes the reader down a flight of stairs. Not only does he offer what the reader is thinking as the solution, he also debunks it within five pages after that.

So this was fun. And how can you not enjoy someone named Erasmus Keane?

Keane and Fowler follow the Holmes and Watson school of detective work. Or perhaps Doctor Who. Every great detective in literature seems to need a handler, and Keane is no exception. Unlike needing Archie Goodwin to make Nero Wolfe work, or Watson to tell the stories that Holmes couldn’t narrate to save his life, Keane almost needs Fowler to keep him tethered to the planet. They make for an interesting team. Though unlike Arthur Conan Doyle, Kroese doesn’t cheat. Fowler sees everything Keane sees, just doesn’t see the big picture, which Kroese puts together quite well.

Just do yourself a favor and buy a copy of The Big Sheep

Declan Finn is a Dragon Award and Planetary award nominated author. His “Catholic Vampire romance novels” can be found on his personal website. As well as all the other strange things he does..