After many years of almost exclusively reading mysteries, recently my tastes have been more eclectic, branching out into science fiction, which used to be my favorite genre, and other types of books that I generally don’t read. But I still read mysteries.
Phantom at Honolulu Harbor presents a story that combines archaeology, Hawaiian culture, and a mystery in an intriguing way. Primarily focused on Kristen Kelley, the lead archaeologist on a project to preserve artifacts before the construction of a high rise, the narrative also gives insights into the viewpoints of other players in the story.
Something mysterious is happening at the dig, something that seems to point to the appearance of Nightmarchers, the spirits of ancient warriors. But the vandalism and subsequent attacks bring in Homicide Detective Diego Vanos to investigate the case, who, while he knows the mythology, believes more in human criminals.
Initially, the detective doesn’t think these crimes are a high priority, which frustrates Kristen and leads her to hiring her own detective, whose biggest contribution seems to be prodding Diego to take them more seriously. Which he does when two of the archaeologists are attacked, along with an old man—or is he a Nightmarcher?— one night after work.
I enjoyed this mystery, but it was not without flaws. There was one section in the middle where too much archaeology that had nothing to do with the mystery took place. I also found the number of Hawaiian terms, the pidgin of the detective, and the Irish accent of another character distracting at times. I’m not fond of dialect and prefer books where a few words or phrases are used occasionally to let you know that the character uses them, but most of the time their speech is written in standard English.
It’s hard to say much more without giving away the twists, but I will say I never guessed who was behind the crimes. And I will be looking forward to seeing what develops between Kristen and the handsome detective.
Disclosure: Pamela and I know one another from the Tucson chapter of Sisters in Crime. I helped her to upload her book to Amazon, and in return she gifted me an autographed copy of her book.
I downloaded this book quite a while ago, most likely during a free promotion, and so didn’t remember the book description when I started reading it recently. I spent the first third of the book waiting for the murder to happen.
There is no murder in this mystery. I’ve come to expect every mystery to have a murder, and it took a little while to adjust to the fact that this is not a murder mystery.
That doesn’t mean it’s a bad book. Quite the contrary. I enjoyed the story quite a lot, once I got over my expectations of what I thought it would be. Paige is an engaging heroine with a mind of her own. I loved Jake’s character and the way he came to be in Jackson Hole to search for a treasure.
If there was one thing that bothered me, it was the amount of description. It’s not necessary to describe every location and every person in detail. For me, that slowed the story down. Toward the end, I found myself skimming these sections.
But reading through was definitely worth it. I loved the double-twist at the end and the promise of the developing relationship between Paige and Jake. I will be reading other books in this series.
I absolutely loved “The Martian” so pre-ordered this book the first day it was available. I had no idea what it was about, other than it took place on the moon, but that’s fine. It still would be near-future science fiction.
I wanted to love this book, too, but I didn’t.
The biggest problem: an unlikeable heroine. Jazz (for Jasmine) Bashara is a smuggler in the Artemis colony on the moon. After her mother died, she had a falling out with her father, wanting to be independent. He’s a devout Muslim, and Jazz… Jazz has no moral compass whatsoever.
She swears, she has a reputation for sleeping around, she holds grudges, and breaking the law to get what she wants doesn’t bother her at all. Okay, she draws the line at murder, but just barely.
This is largely a caper book, but most of the time, with a caper you’re rooting for the crooks to win. They have redeeming qualities. Jazz and most of her pals don’t.
I think the book could have been saved if Jazz underwent a metamorphosis. She could have decided to give up her life of crime. She doesn’t. She could have reconciled with her father and joined him in his business or at least moved back to live with him. She doesn’t. Her life could have been changed by her experiences and she could have a new direction at the end of the book. She doesn’t.
Despite the issues, this book was still a page-turner for me. I was eager to find out what happened next. That aspect of Andy Weir’s writing stayed the same. But I hope his next book features a character I can root for, not one I want to slap.
Disappointing. After hearing about this book for so long, I finally decided to read it. It began well enough, but I struggled to finish it.
The Gospel of John
1, 2, 3 John
Like many Christians, I’ve read the Bible in bits and pieces, just like the lectionary choices for each Sunday are selected. Whenever I’ve decided I really should read the whole thing, I’ve started at Genesis with the intention of reading it straight through this time. But I tend to get bogged down in Numbers, which means I’ve read the first three books three or four times and a good portion of the Old Testament not at all.
In 2017, I realized that I really like what’s called apocalyptic writing. It’s filled with symbolism and poetry, a more literary style than the books that are historical recountings of events. And while I knew many of the common bits of Revelation, I’d never read that book in its entirety. But as I contemplated starting it, I thought I should read the other books written by John first, so in January read his gospel and epistles as a warm-up.
I have many translations of the Bible, but when I want to study it, I use the New International Version Study Bible. In this Bible, each book has an introduction relating who most likely wrote it, when and where it was written, and a bit about what to expect. There are extensive footnotes throughout and timelines and maps that help to put the verses in context.
As expected, I thoroughly enjoyed reading John. It is very much a personal account of a man who knew Jesus, who writes about him like a personal friend. That’s the way I think about him, too.
I’ll let you know how my reading of Revelation goes next month.