Welcome back to the Friday Fiction Feature. Tabatha back again (surprise, surprise) with another mystery theme. Yet again, I have selected a theme based on my own week. Clever readers should be able to piece together the subtle hints & learn how I have spent my last week. If you think you are up to the challenge of decoding my very subtle theme, read on.
Sick Puppy (Skink #4) by Carl Hiaasen
This week’s mystery selection begins with Sick Puppy because it suggests a mystery all it’s own (though I’m not sure how much I want to know how you get dung beetles to swarm…). For those looking for inspiration, Sick Puppy also provides useful tips on how to spend your millions (after the academic’s lottery comes through of course). For instance, eco-terrorist seems to have a lot to offer: you get to meet new people, you get to share ideas (among other things), you get to always be right (and run away before your
victim companion has a chance to answer), and you get a new level of fame not normally available to the rest of us. Infamy counts as fame right?
Independently wealthy eco-terrorist Twilly Spree teaches a flagrant litterbug a lesson–and leaves the offender’s precious Range Rover swarming with hungry dung beetles. When he discovers the litterer is one of the most powerful political fixers in Florida, the real Hiaasen-style fun begins.
Cold Plague by Daniel Kalla
This novel was chosen for its educational value. Pop quiz: a new, impossibly clean, healthy, and unknown anything shows up. No one understands how the new miracle substance shows up, but its effects are so remarkable it goes on the market immediately anyways. What do you do? A) Take some! B) Wait for some more definite scientific results or C) Build & hide in a reinforced shelter to escape the inevitable zombie hoard/unknown catastrophe. If you answered C congratulations on your thorough knowledge of impending disaster. If you answered A or B, we strongly recommend you sit down and prepare to learn a valuable lesson in “too good to be true” from Cold Plague.
Pristine water—hidden for millions of years, untouched by pollution, and possessing natural healing powers—is found miles under Antarctic ice. The scientists who make this astonishing discovery stand to win worldwide acclaim and earn billions. While people around the world line up for a taste of the therapeutic water, a cluster of new cases of mad cow disease explodes in a rural French province. Dr. Noah Haldane and his World Health Organization team are urgently summoned.
Fresh from a brush with a pandemic flu, Noah recognizes the deadliness of a prion—the enigmatic microscopic protein responsible for mad cow disease—that kills with the speed and ferocity of a virus. Despite intense international pressure to declare the outbreak a random occurrence, Noah suspects that factors other than nature have ignited the prion’s spread among animals and people in France. Facing a spate of disappearances and unexplained deaths, Noah uncovers a conspiracy that stretches from St. Petersburg, Russia, to Beverly Hills, and from the North to the South Pole. He soon realizes that the scientific find of the century—a lake the size of Lake Superior buried three miles under Antarctica—might hold the key to a microscopic Jurassic Park.
With a billion-dollar industry hanging on his silence, Noah has to stay alive long enough to sound the alarm.
Sleeper Vol. 1: Out in the Cold by Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips
There is a terrible trend in fiction these days. Authors consistently think that genres should only cross in predictable ways (like Mystery & Suspense, Romance & Baking), never considering the brand new genres they could create with some inventive pairings (like Noir & Romantic Comedy, Thriller & How-To-Guides). Fortunately we have novels like Out in the Cold to pave the way.
Masterfully combining the genres of crime stories and superheroes, Sleeper provides a dark, humanizing exploration of the criminal world. As an undercover agent in a complex super-villain organization, Holden Carver has become caught in a web of moral uncertainty. After being forced to kill someone to preserve his cover, the self-loathing operative looks to be pulled out of his assignment, but the only man who knows he is really a secret agent is in a coma. Now with the world believing him a traitor to his country and his cover about to be blown, Carver must find a way to survive his mission and regain his identity.
A Choir of Ill Children by Tom Piccirilli
My next contribution is less a rehash of my past week, and more a prediction for the upcoming week (I may have taught a few classes while ill… It’ll be fine, freshmen are resilient. At least they’ll be doing better than these characters). A Choir of Ill Children shows a world where the normalcy of magic, superstition, and widespread odd-ness inspires a better class of catastrophe–after all, if a curse on your bloodline is just Tuesday, imagine what it takes to have an adventure in this town. Though I can’t help but think ‘What did they expect to happen in a place called “Kingdom Come”?’.
A Choir of Ill Children is the startling story of Kingdom Come, a decaying, swamp backwater that draws the lost, ill-fated, and damned.
Since his mother’s disappearance and his father’s suicide, Thomas has cared for his three brothers—conjoined triplets with separate bodies but one shared brain—and the town’s only industry, the Mill.
Because of his family’s prominence, Thomas is feared and respected by the superstitious swamp folk. Granny witches cast hexes while Thomas’s childhood sweetheart drifts through his life like a vengeful ghost and his best friend, a reverend suffering from the power of tongues, is overcome with this curse as he tries to warn of impending menace. All Thomas learns is that “the carnival is coming.”
Torn by responsibility and rage, Thomas must face his tormented past as well as the mysterious forces surging toward the town he loves and despises.
Sick by Tom Leveen
My last contribution to this week’s Friday Fiction Feature, before I go crawl into bed with a big cup of tea, is Sick to remind me that even when I feel like a walking zombie surrounded by coughing & lurching hoards (read: a classroom of ill freshmen), it could always be worse!
The Breakfast Club meets The Walking Dead as a group of unlikely allies tries to survive a deadly outbreak.
Brian and his friends are not part of the cool crowd. They’re the misfits and the troublemakers—the ones who jump their high school’s fence to skip class regularly. So when a deadly virus breaks out, they’re the only ones with a chance of surviving.
The virus turns Brian’s classmates and teachers into bloodthirsty attackers who don’t die easily. The whole school goes on lockdown, but Brian and his best friend, Chad, are safe (and stuck) in the theater department—far from Brian’s sister, Kenzie, and his ex-girlfriend with a panic attack problem, Laura. Brian and Chad, along with some of the theater kids Brian had never given the time of day before, decide to find the girls and bring them to the safety of the theater. But it won’t be easy, and it will test everything they thought they knew about themselves and their classmates.
*Secret Theme: I’ve been Ill (Told you it was a toughie!)