Posts Tagged ‘mild violence’

Sacred Clowns by Tony Hillerman

March 15, 2011

Author: Tony Hillerman

Title: Sacred Clowns

Genre: Mystery: Police/Detective

Publication Date: 1994

Number of Pages: 384

Geographical Setting: Four Corners Region of the American Southwest

Time Period: Late 20th century

Series: Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee Series, 11

Plot Summary: A ceremonial Sacred Clown, or Koshare, is unexpectedly murdered at a public Hopi Indian ritual. Witness to this crime is Navajo Tribal Officer Jim Chee who happens to be at the Hopi pueblo on a stakeout. Chee’s initial assignment is to locate a runaway mission student who indicated he would be at the ceremony. Now Chee must investigate possible links between these cases and two other police investigations. Chee’s work brings him to a crossroad in his personal and professional life. Chee’s strong moral code forces him to make decisions that may threaten his work relationship with his new boss Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn. Chee’s romantic relationship with defense attorney Janet Peet is also at risk. Yet, integral to everything in Chee’s life is his aspiration to become a Hataalii, a high order shaman that keeps harmony among all living beings.

Subject Headings: Chee, Jim (Fictitious character), Police, Navajo, Hopi, Leaphorn Joe, Lt. (Fictitious character), Indian reservation police, Tribal police, Detective and mystery stories, American Southwest, Fiction, Native American cultures, American Indian cultures, Four Corners Region

Appeal: intriguing, fast paced, series-characters, character driven, detailed setting, descriptive indigenous ceremonies, multiple thick plotlines, issue oriented, socio-political, logical, intuitive, resolved ending, mild violence, historical details, legal justice, tribal justice, simple dialogue, likeable heroes

3 terms that best describe this book: a close look at ‘what is right’ and ‘what is best’; a place where traditionalism and modernism meet;  a stand alone—serial—novel

3 Relevant Fiction Works:

High Country by Nevada Barr (set in breathtaking Yosemite National Park this modern murder mystery transports readers to the American West)

Blackening Song by Aimee and David Thurlo (the first in a mystery series set in the Southwest that features Ella Clah, a Navajo FBI agent who struggles with traditional and modern Navajo pressures)

White Sky, Black Ice by Stan Jones (the first in the Nathan Active mystery series that features an Alaskan state trooper who was born Inupiat, but raised white. Nathan has returned to his birthplace on a work assignment and finds himself caught between two worlds)

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works:

Tony Hillerman’s Landscape: on the road with Chee and Leaphorn by Anne Hillerman (an illustrated travelogue of the Four Corners region where the places and people greatly influenced Tony Hillerman’s numerous mystery novels)

Tony Hillerman’s Navajoland: hideouts, haunts, and havens in the Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee Mysteries by Laurance D. Linford (a soon to be released accompaniment to Hillerman’s novels for fans interested in the facts embedded within the fiction)

The Spell of New Mexico edited by Tony Hillerman (a collection of passionate essays about New Mexico and its people)

— Jeanne Jesernik

B-boy Blues: A Seriously Sexy, Fiercely Funny, Black-on-Black Love Story

April 13, 2009

Author: Hardy, James Earl

Title: B-boy Blues: A Seriously Sexy, Fiercely Funny, Black-on-Black Love Story

Genre: African-American Literature & Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Literature

Publication Date: July 1, 1994

Number of Pages: 288 pp.

Geographical Setting: New York, New York

Time Period: 1990s


Plot Summary: In Hardy’s first installment of the B-boy Blues series, the main character, Mitchell Crawford, is black, openly gay, and a successful journalist.  Despite his tame outward appearance, he has always had a pining for the “rough trade;” a lover below his professional and social status with precarious intentions.  One evening in a gay bar in Greenwich Village, he encounters, Raheim Rivers, the answer to his dreams.  Raheim is a Hip-hop bicycle messenger with a violent streak who has yet to come to grips with his sexuality.  Raheim becomes Mitchell’s third fling with a Banjee boy and it is all that he had hoped for.  But as their lives begin to intertwine as their relationship progresses, Mitchell begins to press his life perspective onto Raheim.  He wants Raheim to become openly gay and begin to think about his professional future.  Raheim explodes in violence refusing to reveal anything of depth to Mitchell or any of those around him.  Mitchell soon finds out that, despite his outward appearance, Raheim is a smart and talented person.  He also sees an emotional depth in Raheim when he finds out that he has a 5-year old son.  After an incident where Mitchell’s best friend becomes a victim of a gay-bashing, anger begins to rise in his heart.  He quits his job when he suspects that a less qualified co-employee receives the promotion he wanted because he is white thinking that he has become a victim himself.  Lust is lost and love is found for Raheim and Mitchell in Hardy’s tale of finding equality, calm, and companionship in a hostile world.  Hardy introduces the reader into a slice of American culture that has grown in recognition in our current times.           


Subject Headings: Gay Literature; African-American Literature; New York City; Career Journalism; Single Parenting; Homophobia; Racism; Banjee Boy Culture; Hip-Hop Culture; Down-Low Culture; Buppie Culture; Sexual Identity, Cultural Identity; Love Story; Professional Exploitation; Modern Romance; Social Outcasts; Gay Culture; Socioeconomics; 1990s         


Appeal: graphic sexuality, comedic, strong central character, strong supporting characters, mild violence, episodic, resolved ending, emotionally charged, hip-hop influence, homosexuality, urban landscape, cultural diversity, sexual diversity, prejudice, vivid, even pace, contemporary, political, though provoking, strong language


Similar Authors & Works: Invisible Life, the debut novel by E. Lynn Harris, is a novel that centers on Raymond, an African-American bisexual who is torn between the man he loves and the woman he desires.  Wesley and Floyd are two teens who are best friends that share an unspoken passion for each other.  After Floyd’s death, Wesley tries to make sense of his life after marrying Floyd’s girlfriend and then leaving her for another named Paul in John Gordon’s Black Butterflies.  Blackbird by Larry Duplechan follows one month in the life of Johnnie Ray Rousseau, a gay black high school student as he narrates the events that fill his days.  


Relevant Non-Fiction Authors & Works: James Baldwin is a biography of the author of Native Son written by his long time friend, David Leeming.  It brings light to his precarious lifestyle, his homosexuality, and other life adventures.  Black Theology: A Documentary History, Volume 2: 1980-1992 by James Cone and Gayraud Wilmore is collection of essays that sheds light on topics of homosexuality and bisexuality in black theology and spirituality.  Deep Are the Roots: Memoirs of a Black Expatriate is the memoir of accomplished actor Gordon Heath.  It retraces his childhood in New York City to his awakening homosexuality and passion for the arts.     



The Widow’s Tale

February 25, 2009

Author: Frazer, Margaret
Title: The Widow’s Tale
Genre: Mystery
Publication Date: 2005
Number of Pages: 266 p.
Geographical Setting: Rural England
Time Period: 15th century
Dame Frevisse medieval mysteries

Plot Summary: Set in rural England in the mid 1400’s, The Widow’s Tale is an engrossing domestic mystery rich with period details and careful characterization. When her devoted husband dies, Cristiana Helyngton finds herself overrun by his scheming siblings in a calculated plot to seize control of his land and property—and daughters’ inheritances. Kidnapped, declared insane, and shut away in a distant convent, Cristiana’s only thoughts are of escape, finding her children, and seeking justice against her villainous in-laws. Fortunately for Cristiana, St. Frideswide’s nunnery, the convent where she’s been stashed is home to Dame Frevisse, a nun with keen powers of observation and a knack for eliciting answers. When more information about the widow arises and she is ordered home, Frevisse and her superior return with Cristiana and find themselves in the midst of the struggle among her family and friends, as well as their own. Full of well researched and accessible details of life in medieval England—both in manors and convents—as well as a fascinating exploration of the politics of the time, The Widow’s Tale is a moderately paced but engaging mystery as well as a character-driven, historical family drama. Its narration shifts unobtrusively between Cristiana and Frevisse’s points of view, and there is very little “onscreen” violence.

Subject Headings: Frevisse, Sister; Women detectives — England; Nun-detectives — England; Land tenure; Catholics; Widows; Nuns; Nobility — England; Family relationships — England; Family secrets; Inheritance and succession — England; Mother and daughter; Malicious accusation; Separated friends, relatives, etc; Greed in men; Brothers and sisters; Rescues
Fifteenth century; The Forties (15th century); Great Britain — History — Lancaster and York, 1399-1485; Great Britain — History — Henry VI, 1422-1461; England — History — 15th century; England — Social life and customs — Medieval period, 1066-1485; Oxfordshire, England — Social life and customs; Letters; Historical mystery stories, American; Medieval mystery stories; Historical fiction, American; Mystery stories, American

Appeal: accurate, character-centered, complex, contemplative, deliberate, detailed, detailed setting, details of 15th century Catholicism, details of 15th century convent life, details of 15th century England, details of 15th century English manor life, details of 15th century English politics, details of Hundred Years’ War, domestic, engaging, event-oriented, evocative, faithful characterizations, gentle, graceful, historical details, insightful, intimate, intriguing, investigative, linear, measured, mild violence, multiple points of view, plot-centered, political, resolved ending, rural, series characters, steady, strong secondary characters, sympathetic characters, thoughtful, vivid, well-developed characters, well-drawn characters

Similar Fiction Authors and Works:

· Fortune Like the Moon, Alys Clare (Medieval mystery set in England and involving a nun detective)

· A Morbid Taste for Bones, Ellis Peters (First in a Medieval mystery series set in England, involving a monk detective)

· Chaucer and the House of Fame, Philippa Morgan (Murder mystery involving Geoffrey Chaucer as investigating a murder while on a diplomatic mission from England to France during the Hundred Years’ War)

Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

· The Reign of Henry VI, Ralph A. Griffiths (biography of King Henry VI of England [and France], details of his court, politics of the time, and the ongoing war with France—all background details crucial to The Widow’s Tale)

Name: Cynthia