The first time I read Anne Rice’s The Mummy, it was more than a decade ago and way before I started this blog. Sure, since then they have made several movies with the same title (yes, the Brendan Fraser movies were great, but the last one with Tom Cruise … let’s just say that someone owes me the life of their firstborn, the deed to their houses or for the most, about 11 quid … I can negotiate). I’ve detoured a wee bit.

Ramses continues from where The Mummy ended (now this is the part where folks who’ve never read The Mummy should feel free to exit … because it is spoilers from this point … for The Mummy, that is). If you’ve read The Mummy or you’re very cool with spoilers (such as yours truly) then read ahead. Awakened, unwittingly by Julie Stratford, Ramses now roam the streets of early 20th century England as Reginald Ramsey: a rich, enigmatic stranger that imposes himself into Stratford’s life. Of course, somewhere along the way, Ramsey decides to awaken his former lover, Cleopatra, who basically turned out to be a very strong, psychopathic revenant. Oh yes, like Ramsey/Ramses, she is immortal. There is an accident and a fire and before you can sing “Walk Like An Egyptian” Ramsey and Ms. Stratford are running for their dear lives (and no, I’m not going to spell out the bleedy story for all … feel free to read The Mummy). Damned continues (after several decades of Rice almost going R.R. Martin on us) where The Mummy left off. Ramses and Julie Stratford have become an item. Cleopatra is carrying on a passionate affair with a certain Dr. Theodore Dreycliff. Let’s just say that Dr. Dreycliff rescued her from a scorching situation (to avoid spoiling The Mummy for those that didn’t read it). Also Julie has become an immortal thanks to a special potion from Ramses. With Dr. Dreycliff by her side, Cleopatra is on the hunt for Ramses for she has a score to settle with both him and Julie. With supernatural strength, Cleopatra is terrifyingly vicious and the unwitting Dr. Dreycliff is unaware of the asp that he’s coddling. Then there is Bektaten an ancient Egyptian queen and her two bodyguards/lovers, Aktema and Enamon. And somewhere along the line, another fine (immortal) gentleman named Sagnos is awakened. Sagnos has an army of followers and he has some terrifying plans in store for Julie and Ramses (but mostly Julie). Bektaten is not just some ancient resurrected Egyptian queen: she has knowledge of creating potions that can do all sorts of strange things such rendering immortals mortal and vice versa. And then there is Sibyl Parker: an American mystery writer whose books are centered in ancient Egypt. The funny thing about Sibyl is that her books are so good thanks mostly to the strange vivid dreams that she has about herself walking around in ancient Egypt. Reincarnated memories of a past life? I’m not telling. So as Ramses and Julie hopscotch over Europe into London, they find themselves engaged in cat and mouse game as they dodge a raging, vengeance-bent Cleopatra who is actually dealing with some internal struggles (along with vicious headaches and strange case of immortal dementia). Oh yes, there is the case of Sagnos and his army of immortal creatures that is also gunning for Ramses and Julie. In the midst of all this an unwitting Sibyl is cast into this strange violent theatre: a key to one of the characters life. And so the convergence begins.
A brilliant collaboration between son and mum, Ramses, is a long (with a capital L) awaited sequel to Rice’s The Mummy (1989 …aye, that long) another addition to Ms. Rice’s universum noctis: vampires, witches, werewolves … and yes mummies. I truly hope this is not quite the end the Ramses Chronicles (aye, did I just do that … yes, now Ms. Rice has to write another Ramses book … as I silently implore … with a nice PLEASE). Along with the sensualities that frequently lurk in (and adds to) Rice’s novel, it filled with suspense that grips you in the nether regions (in a nice way) and the only respite you get, as worlds converge towards a thrilling conclusion, lay on the next page. Thankfully, that respite does not come too soon and the ride is quite delightful. Brilliant collaboration … just hoping that the next sequel comes out a bit sooner than a few decades. There IS a sequel? Yes. Pretty please. With sugar. On top. And other such bollocks


Ever since seeing the movie Coma back in the 80s, and learning about Cook’s writing, I’ve become sort of a closet fan of his medical thrillers. Of course, the other reason for me watching Coma was that I had a major crush on Geneviève Bujold (feel free to Google/IMDB her). Yes, I know some may say “but Evil Parrot she was an older woman”. To which I would reply “And ….?”. But enough about my … um, fascinations and curiosities, and let’s get on with the blooming book review … yeah?

It has been awhile since I’ve had my Robin Cook fix … yes, man cannot live by horror, espionage and crime alone. Sometimes I need a reason to be potentially scared shitless about hospitals and doctors and Charlatans did not disappoint (in a good way … that is).

The book opens with Bruce Vincent, a security administrator, at Boston Memorial Hospital (BMH) preparing for what should be a walk-in-the-park hernia surgery. Even better was that the star surgeon, a Dr. William Mason, had agreed to do it … so, yes, what could possibly go wrong. A word about Dr. Mason: older chap, narcissistic, loves to flirt (and make inappropriate advances to the younger female staff), never owns up to his mess ups, a wee bit chubby, and yes … drives a red Ferrari. Did I mention that he is the star surgeon of BMH? Somewhere along the line, something goes wrong in the surgery of Bruce Vincent and then we meet Dr. Noah Rothauser and Dr. Ava London (anesthesiologist). Needless to say that despite all efforts, Bruce Vincent’s surgery is ill-fated (keep in mind that this is not much of a spoiler since it all happens in the first chapter). And of course, the blame throwing begin. Dr. Mason blames Dr. London for messing up the anesthesia and even questions Rothauser’s intervention techniques during this crisis. On top of that, Dr. Rothauser, who is the chief resident, has to navigate this situation and the investigation into it. It then gets worse when more patients start dying and the anesthesiologist involved just happens to be the enigmatic Dr. London. With Dr, Mason breathing down their backs with especially a fiery red target on Ava’s, Noah and Ava decides to come together to investigate what’s really behind these sudden yet coincidental deaths. Did I mention that Ava had rebuffed many of Dr. Mason’s inappropriate advances in the past? Yes, Dr. Mason possibly has political career in sight (I guess I did go there … too real for comfort …oh well). Working together brings Noah and Ava really, really close as they find themselves indulging in a bit of the old in-out-in-out (yes, even Stevie Wonder on a dark moonless night could have seen that). Needless to say, word gets around and Dr. Mason, being scorned and jealous, turns the heat up on the duo. Meanwhile, there are two ex-military mercenaries driving around the country killing Internet trolls (though that doesn’t sound so bad considering the acidic atmosphere of social media these days). What have they to do with the story? I’m afraid you’ll have to read the book. To complicate things even further, the more time Noah spends with Ava, the more puzzled he becomes: a gorgeous, athletic-toned woman that spends most of her free time on social media with multiple avatars than she would with actual people. And then there are those times when Ava would simply just take off on a “consulting” trip to some state. Aye, red flags abound.
Online avatars, social media, murderous mercenaries, megalomaniacal doctors and a rising body count both inside and outside BMH makes Charlatans a riveting read as we travel down a vicious rabbit hole. In strange way Cook seems to educate while entertain readers about the medical world and its possibilities and its dark sides … as does most of his books. This spine-tingling medical thriller will force you skim the pages towards the twisted end. And most of all, it’ll probably make you look closely at what’s framed on your doctor’s wall.

Running Title: Soonish – Ten Emerging Technologies That’ll Improve And/Or RUIN Everything.
As the new year begins, and as we try to get over that year long hangover that was 2017, there is a need to find some hope in the future to come. Sure we’ll have to find a way to delete a significant portion of 2017 from our memory, but until they come up with Johnny Mnemonic type technology, we’ll just have to focus on the years ahead and try to ignore the braying of asses in the media. I was walking around my central branch after a training session (yes, librarians have to do training stuff) and for some reason I came across Soonish. One quick glance at the cover, led to hamster-like scanning of the chapters and before you can scream “Kelly Clarkson” I was bolting out the door with a checked out copy of Soonish. Even though I am a librarian, once in a while I always year to get back to my engineering roots (which will probably explain the Arduino kits scattered throughout my condo) and catch up on what’s going on in the scientific world. Bloody hell, I miss working in labs.
From space elevators/tethers, asteroid mining, programmable matter, robotic construction to augmented reality (AR), precision medicine, and bioprinting, the Weinersmiths paint a fascinating and intriguing futurescape of technology. To quote Timbuk3 (and I’ve always wanted to): “The future so bright, I gotta wear shades.” Well at least for those of you that grew up in or appreciate the 80s and its music. Being a big fan of robotics, I really latched on the chapters on programmable matter and robotic construction. Programmable matter is as cool as it sounds; think of a piece of paper that can fold itself into an origami piece like a swan or a fire breathing dragon carrying a white haired, gorgeous woman …er, sorry about that. But let’s face it, Emilia Clarke is the dog’s bullock, yeah? And yes, we’ve detoured (but such a good detour it is). Now imagine a house built with programmable matter systems where a kitchen can transform into a bathroom or bedroom. Fascinating stuff. Since we’re on the topic of robotics … robotic construction. Houses being built by robots. Cool (though many in the construction industry are going to be wearing their shitting pants and the art of female catcalling faces extinction). Yes, there is an actual roving robotic construction prototype out there. When they came out with 3D printers at some point, I heard myself say, “hey, won’t it be cool if they did this for human organs and tissues” and for a few weeks my head was swimming with visions of scanning tunneling microscopes, busy-body nanites immersed in a vat of amino acids and rigged to some strange elaborate (near-alien looking) printing apparatus. And then I went to binge watch the final season of Leverage. Thankfully, the science community isn’t as hamster-brained as I can be (sometimes) and … lo and behold … bioprinting. The future key to solve the organ donation crisis (just hoping it doesn’t turn into that remake of Repo Men with Jude Law).
Space elevators … what a concept … the ability to zip cargo from terra firma to low orbit stations that are tethered to the earth by miles upon miles of specially treated/enhanced cables … all without the costly NASA rocket blastoffs. Though I do worry about some twit or tosser terrorist walking by and deciding to “snip” the cable for pranks or disruption. I could go on and on about some of the things discussed in Soonish but I’ll be a downright wank for messing up your reading experience.
Zach and Kelly Weinersmith (both technological academics themselves) did something in Soonish very few technical writers can do: write about tech, make it entertaining … AND still manage to inform. Sure, Zach seems to have a bit of a chip on his shoulder about (and against) Windows 10 ( I already love this chap), but then again which thinking PC user doesn’t. If it were up to me, I’d nominate that the Weinersmiths write all the science textbooks (for both schools and universities) and I’m willing to bet that there will be a surge in science studies … and a declining interest in bullshit music reality shows like The Voice and it’s rip-off rival, The Four (yes, I apparently did go there).

Strange Weather by Joe Hill

Yes, it is almost the end of 2017 and it has been quite a year. A year that most of us would love to “edit” out of our collective memories. Lost a lot of good folks along the way both in body and spirit. Hopefully, 2018 will offer a bit or sliver of hope’s ray of a most delightful year … which is what I wish for everyone out there: those who read my blog, and those who don’t (give them time, I’m as patient as an Arctic wolf) … and even regardless of how you voted (yes, I mean that). So in light of the strange, topsy-turvey, dark and gloomy year, and just before you rush of to freeze your nips and other body parts in watching balls drop (aye, there is a dirty joke in there somewhere), I have to mention Strange Weather. See it even has the word “strange” in the title.

Ever since having read NOS4A2 and The Fireman, I’ve become fascinated with Joe Hill’s writing and … yes … he has written other titles that I’ve yet to read, but all in good time. Of course, the fact that he is Stephen King’s son did not play into this until I discovered this fact much later (after having read The Fireman). I guess, like father like son … good show, Stephen, good show. So there I was, sitting at the reference desk, allowing myself to calm down (moving from green back to normal skin colour) after having kicked out a bunch of disruptive teens, when I noticed the strange Joe Hill cover on the New Arrivals stack. Slight detour here: whatever happened to folks plugging their phones into their ears? Why is it that so many folks, especially teens, seem to feel the need to “share” their listening/viewing experiences with the rest of the public … in a bloody library? Alas, the devolution of civilization. I’ve detoured enough. To the review. Yeah?

Strange Weather is actually a compilation of four stories (or novellas) that are eerily strange, dark, disturbing, and/or all of the above. In other words, great reading material on a cold, dark windy night … possibly in wooded area.

In Snapshot, we encounter an awkward teenager, Michael Figlione, who becomes an unwitting hero. Mike lives with his father and apparently are bunch of nerds since Mike attends some kind of robotic club during the weekends. Note this is set in the early 80s, so, yes, no smartphones, social media or any of that bollocks (such simple times yet so much fun). They also live next to an older couple, the Beukes, whom Mike is rather fond of. The husband use to be a bodybuilder that now owns a chain of fitness clubs. Mrs. Beukes stays at home and occasionally asks Mike to run errands for her which he does lovingly. But something sinister is happening to Mrs. Beukes, as she claims that someone called The Polariod Man is stealing her memory. Sure, sure you might say, that’s just some old codger losing her mind and imagining things. That is until Mike (and us) encounters someone known as the Phoenican who is this strange character with a Polaroid type camera (Solarid … whatever) that actually steals memories snap by snap. And then the crap hits the fan. Any more will be spoiling the story for you and that would make me a tosser.

In Loaded, there is a bunch of intermingling stories: a philandering tosser and his female teenage lover; a young (ill-fated) Afro-American on his way to attend a dancing school in London; an ex-military type turned security guard that’s dealing with separation from his wife and daughter; an Afro-American journalist dealing with a ghost from her past and trying to change the world. The common denominator in all of these stories: guns. When Jim Kellaway, during his shift as a security guard, stops what could have been a mass shooting at the mall, he is hailed as a hero. That is until Aisha Lanternglass starts poking around, finding holes in his story and causing him to unravel viciously and in a way that would leave most gasping (though maybe not so shocked). It is a nice twist on one of the NRA battle cries about when “bad folks with guns run into good folks with guns”. Just saying, mates.

In Aloft, there is Aubrey, Harriet and June. Aubrey is in love with Harriet and Harriet is in an indie band (called The Junicorns) with June. Aubrey passes up tons of awesome musical opportunities just to be in The Junicorns, simply because … well, it’s a chance to be closer to Harriet. Sort of like a Duckie and Andie thing going on there … and for those you that are wondering, that was a Pretty In Pink reference. Ah, Molly Ringwald, I was supposed to be married to you. A wee bit of detour … ( and too much information). Somewhere along the line June dies of cancer, and so to memorialize the passing of June they decide to … skydive. Personally, a good swig at the pub with a few pints, some Mazzy Star in the background as a DVD plays a looped photo montage of the departed would be fine … and safe. But that’s just me … something about jumping out of perfectly good planes and all that bollocks. So Aubrey, after finding the nerve to jump finds himself stranded on what seems to be floating cloud island. Of course, with his tandem instructor along with the harness being blown off the cloud leaves our man with little more than vertigo to worry about. And then the strange odyssey begins, as the cloud seems to offer all sorts of strange, delightful, erotic (yes, you are reading correctly) and terrifying possibilities. Fascinating, strange stuff that’ll keep you wondering how this poor chap will find his way down to earth. Don’t be surprised to hear Iron Butterfly’s In A Gadda Da Vida playing in your head. Or is that only going to be me?

In Rain, we get the visit a near future Boulder, Colorado through the eyes of a young gay woman named Honeysuckle Speck. Honeysuckle lives with her lover, Yolanda, in possibly one of the most strangest neighbourhoods. Below her apartment lives a Russian meth dealer with his stripper girlfriend Martina (also Russian) that are always fighting. A few blocks down the street is an end-of-the-world cult, led by an enigmatic Elder Bent, who is known to prowl the streets singing Phil Collins songs. Only from the mind of Joe Hill. And to top things off, Honeysuckle babysits a charmer named Templeton Blake who thinks he’s Dracula and lives with his (single) mom Ursula. And then it begins to rain … nails. Yes, again you are reading correctly. Mother Nature decides to go postal and instead of nice, soft, wet, delightful water, people get showered with nails. Yolanda gets caught and in the downpour and dies saving Honeysuckle’s live. I guess being perforated by nails via nature will do that to a person. And so as Honeysuckle makes her towards Denver to inform Yolanda’s parents about her passing she encounters psychotic cult members, a strange Billy Jack drifter type that saves her, the National Guard, murderous, homophobic neighbours and creepy crows (yes, birds). On top of that, in lieu of all the nailstorms happening across the country, we have president in his bunker tweeting about “biblical retribution and payback” on North Korea. Yes, nothing like that will EVER happen in real life, because that would like a really bad dream of sorts. Aye, a president using social media platform to mouth off absolute bollocks … nope, never … only in fiction. Preposterous. Absolute balderdash and rubbish. Aye … we’ve strayed and detoured again. Now you’re wondering what would be the cause of those strange nails and it is in the exciting conclusion to this story. A twist that you’d never see coming.

Strange Weather is indeed a potpourri of strange stories. Dark, disturbing, creepy, occasionally trippy with little touches of heartwarming pecks on the cheek and definitely entertaining as it keeps you riveted as you hurtle towards the end. Rock on, Mr. Hill. And Happy New Years, America. You are already GREAT in my books (pun possibly intended). Cheers.

I’ve become a fan of Belcher’s steampunk, weird West novels. After having read Six-Gun Tarot and Shotgun Arcana, I became Kirsten Dunst’s character in Interview With The Vampire and I wanted MORE. And somehow, Mr. Belcher heard my silent plea and brought forth Queen Of Swords. Took me a while to get my paws on this one since the library only ordered a few copies (bloody hell) for the ENTIRE system (aye, a travesty) and so I had to join the other mortals and put in a REQUEST for this one. Took me a while to get it but when it showed up on my desk … there was Handel’s Messiah sung with Enya’s voice … purring in my ear. Yeah, I know … need to get out more (and I did … was in Vegas in the last week of September … more on that in another forum). So enough with the bollocks .. . and let’s get this book review on the road, yeah?
Belcher’s first two books, in this series (why is he saying series and not trilogy like he said in the past reviews … patience, mates or feel free to skip ahead and read … and possibly miss some Vegas stories … who knows), took place in the Midwest city of Golgatha. Queen, however, takes place in South Carolina, London and Western Africa. And this time, everything is mostly centered around Maude and Constance Stapleton who we all know are members of a secret cult of women known as the Daughters of Lilith and these women are badasses (think witches combined with ninjas … yes, some serious stuff). In previous books there has always been mention of Anne Bonny, the pirate queen, that not only is a distant relative but a mentor (of sorts) to the Stapleton women. Queen, however, delves deep into the life of Anne Bonny and I must admit she’s a loveable asskicker. But hey Evil Parrot, you may say, what or who is the bad guy in this one? Pushy aren’t we … but I’ll be a good chap and all. Meet Typhon, a sort of octopus monster-thingy wearing a really bad human disguise but is quite the evil tosser you’d love to hate. Oh did I mention like Lilith, he is the Father of a cult that is mostly male and rivals the Daughters of Lilith: the Sons of Typhoon. And yes, for those that have fired up an extra neuron or two have figured that … yes … Typhon and Lilith had thing, possibly engaged in copious amounts of the good old in/out, in/out … and like most relationships, things went tits up and here we are. As most of know, previously, Constance had moved away from Golgatha to be with her grandfather in North Carolina and apparently the grandfather was holding on to her whilst claiming his daughter, Maude, was seemingly unfit as mother. I guess it was that whole exposing-your-daughter-to-battles-with-demons-monsters-and-cannibals thing that must have gotten this bloke’s knickers all twisted. What a pissy bastard, that one. A bit too hard on the man, you say? Eh, maybe. Nay. So Maude is off to Charleston, South Carolina to reclaim her daughter that results in a fiery courtroom battle featuring a female lawyer (Maude’s representation and possible future regular character), Arabella, that is just as vicious as any of skirmishes in the book in its subtlety. Keep in mind that this is the 1800s where lawyers were mostly men and yet Arabella manages to make Gloria Alred look like a bottom-feeding ambulance chaser. Whoa, did I go a bit too far on that one? Maybe, and yes, I guess I did go there. So along with dealing with a cantankerous father, Maude now has to deal with the emergence of the feral Sons of Typhon and some other Daughters of Lilith. And the focal point of this madness: her daughter Constance. And yes, we get to meet some more Daughters: Inna and her daughter Lesya Barkov(Russians), Leng Ya (Chinese and arrogant as hell), Amadia Ibori (cool headed African), Itzel (Guatemalan and deceptive in appearance) and Alexandria Poole (English, with possibly ice for blood). Did I mention that they are very formidable badasses. We’re also introduced to the mystical/somewhat spirit guide/sensei Raashida (very ancient, African and witty).
Queen is written in two timelines, approximately a century apart, detailing the life of pirate queen Anne Bonny and her quest along with the “present” craziness involving the Stapletons, the Sons and the Daughters. This is not, I caution, mere filler stuff when it comes to the two timelines and it is done purposely that adds to the delightful climax in the novel. How, you ask? I’m not going to be a bloody tosser and say, mates. Sorry, that’s how the Evil Parrot rolls. Also a few adorable notables: Alter Cline ( reporter that’s apparently gunning for Maude’s affections), Belrose (a French mercenary that is seemingly drunk throughout the entire book), Adu (the enigmatic African guide that is enigmatic as he is formidable), and Nourbese (a Yoruba Amazon that makes Rhonda Rousey sound like a ballet dancer). Our favourite half-breed (half coyote/half man) Mutt, along with Golgatha, makes a brief appearance. Still trying to figure out the dynamics behind that whole coyote-man thing … and then often spend a bit erasing the imageries from my mind. But the best part is the trip, towards the end of the novel, is getting there: sinister plots, betrayals, ulterior motives … all caught in an adrenaline-infused roller-coaster of emotions (mostly anxiety and fear) as Belcher hurtles … like a screaming banshee on fiery steed … towards a conclusion that would make you anxious as the last page approaches. And yes, I don’t think Mr. Belcher is done with the Weird West (at least that is another of my silent pleas in hope of another book). Good show, Mr. Belcher. Jolly good show, mate. Keep it coming. Just don’t go George R.R. on us. And yes, I did go there, GoTers.

It is October. The scariest month in the year. Halloween, trick or treating, and horror movie marathons on AMC, SYFY and just about any cable network that has a pulse. And so I decide to read something a wee bit scary. This is one of those “whispery” books that beckoned to me at my branch. Yes, I am beginning to think that I need to get out more when books start “whispering” to me AND turn out to be great reads. Secret superpower? Or the immense need to socialize more? Whatever, mates. But enough with the bollocks and let’s carry on, yeah?
It starts out in London where a newly engaged couple is setting up plans for an impending wedding. Meet Adam Holzer, a not-so-religious Jew from Long Island, and his bride-to-be Meryam Karga, a former Muslim turned atheist. Aye, love in the twenty-first century. So strange, unusual yet so delightful. Oui? Non? They’ve both co-authored books based on their high-climbing adventures around the world. So when an earthquake reveals a secret cave on Mount Ararat, in Turkey, the fearless duo wants to be the first to find out what’s in the cave. The cave is actually the buried remains of an ancient ship that many believes to be Noah’s ark. And so Meryam cancels her wedding and the two heads off to what seems to be another adventure. So along with a team of scholars, archeologists, filmmakers, one UN representative, and an undercover DARPA agent, they ascend Mount Ararat. There is a team of guides, headed by an early established wanker named Hakan Ceven, the lead the way to the caves. Upon entering the caves, the territorial pissings begin between the different groups in view of this historical find … until they discover a coffin with a cadaver with HORNS. And then the shit hits the fan. For the most, such as yours truly, would have called it a day and started my descent, but of course that would bring the book to an abrupt and crappy end. So the team decides to indulge their curiosity and the reader is in for a case of the heebie-jeebies … on steroids. So needless to say, things started to go bump in the night (aside from the occasional couple from the team that decides to indulge in a bit of the old in-out, in-out) and blood started to splatter, as team members started to disappear and feel strange things in the cave. Bloody hell. Pun possibly intended.
Ararat in nutshell is The Thing meets the Exorcist meets Fallen (there goes that Rolling Stones song in my head) meets the Mummy meets Cliffhanger. A lot of meetings if you ask me. Enough to make you want to keep the light on at night and would probably suck if you were camping, found a deep cave, and this just happens to be the only book you brought to read on your hike (yeah, sweet dreams on that one, luv). Golden weaves a terrifying tale with so many twists and turns that hurtles in break-neck speed towards an ending that leave you stunned shitless (possibly requiring a cleaner pair of undies). Caution: try not to get too attached to any of the of the characters. You’ve been warned. Good reading …and um … sweet dreams

The sequel to The Bone Tree, I could not simply avoid this book even if you paid me handsomely to do so. Though I have yet to read the first of the trilogy, Natchez Burning, I can’t help but still forging ahead to read Blood. Yes, I know I am violating some weird reader code of sorts but that’s how the Evil Parrot rolls. And to Mr. Iles credit, he wrote Bone Tree so well that it could have easily been a standalone. But, I will still be heading back to read Natchez Burning after all is said and done. And yes, even when I know the “spoilers”. But enough of the bollocks and on to the bleedy review.

The Bone Tree left us with a Penn Cage trying to pick the pieces of his life after killing Frank Knox (the head of a notorious Ku Klux Klan fringe group known as the Double Eagles) and the death of his fiancée that was killed in her quest to find the Bone Tree. And then along comes Lincoln Turner, Penn’s half-brother and product of an affair between Tom Cage(Penn’s father) and Violet Turner (an Afro-American nurse) and the shit hits the fan. Tom Cage is accused, by Lincoln, of causing the death of Violet Turner (Lincoln’s mother) and is arrested. Meanwhile, Snake Knox is still running around free and is back in the United States and he’s got revenge on his mind. To be precise: he has a bloodbath in mind for Penn Cage and his family. Teaming up with a white supremacist biker gang, along with his firearms-proficient, psychopath of a son (Alois Engels), Snake is determined to bathe the shores of Mississippi in a nice shade of red. And this they do with the grace and mercy of a pit filled with agitated water moccasins. Though Penn is not exactly a sitting duck, surrounded by private contractor bodyguards who are mostly former SEALs and Special Forces, he finds himself under the charms of a Serenity Butler, a journalist and former military officer that is quite the firecracker. And yes a lot of steamy stuff happen between Serenity and Penn … and they even sleep together too. Interestingly enough, as much the book could have been about the Snake and his ilk committing all sorts of vileness in the land, the real star of this book is the trial of Tom Cage. Now some you will read this and go, bloody hell I’m not going to read about some bloody courtroom drama … and you’ll be terribly wrong about this. This is a trial like you’ve never read one before. The showdown between Quentin Avery, the wheelchair bound defender of Tom Cage, and Shadrach “Shad” Johnson the prosecutor is the equivalent of watching a July the 4th celebration … using nuclear missiles that explode in midair. The trial if it were an action movie would be likened to a Jason Bourne movie filled with twists, turns and intrigue around every nook and cranny that you soon begin to dread things like sleep, bodily functions, and going to work. The trial (in my humble opinion) is Iles’ masterpiece, and there is a good chance that many of you will not guess the outcome of the trial. Of course, some of you would be cheeky bastards and skip ahead and read the bleedy outcome. Tsk, tsk … not very sporting mates, though I will admit that I was tempted to do the same, but you know what they say about patience being a good virtue and all that other bollocks.
After having read The Bone Tree, I must have been panting like a Pavlovian dog in anticipation of this sequel, and I when I finally got it, it was worth the wait. Blood is the South like you’ve never read it and sad reflection of the way race relations are today in America. Fiction hits home. The action inside and outside the courtroom is thick and stifling as monsoon humidity in a Louisiana bayou and strikes as viciously and relentlessly as a trod-upon copperhead. Forget grabbing you by the throat, Blood grabs you by the minerals and it is that good kind of pain (hope I don’t sound too fifty shady here … but there I said it) that you endure … willingly … all the way to the last page. Jolly good show, Mr. Iles.