Archive for January 29th, 2014

Hungry GhostsReview by Victoria Dougherty

I admit – I’m reading this series out of order.  I’ve just finished Hungry Ghosts and have only started its predecessor, Everyone Burns.  But that should be a clue.  If I don’t like the dish, I don’t go back for seconds.

And I liked Hungry Ghosts.  A lot.

First, it’s very, very well written.  Meaning it is well-crafted and has a strong voice.  So many books these days have only one or the other and those can be enjoyable, too – the way a beauty contestant can make a great date even if she’s dumb as a stone.

But Hungry Ghosts is the runway model who went to Harvard.  And she knows how to have a good time to top it off – you know what I mean?

The story centers around an ex-pat Englishman named David Braddock who lives on an island off Thailand.  Braddock’s got a lot going on.  He’s feeling emotionally ravaged by guilt over his wife’s death, has several sometime girlfriends who want either one thing or another, an unrequited love, some Thai gangsters on his tail, and a homicidal maniac bent on revenge.  All of these somehow collide at his agency (he’s a P.I. with a partner and a half: a pushy, whip-smart Thai woman and her newborn baby), even when he’s not investigating.

David is a magnetic, complex character whose flaws we forgive, and against our better judgment perhaps, whose best traits we exalt.  He’s surrounded by a motley crew of friends, enemies, and anything in between.  Nobody is eccentric and quirky simply for the reason of being eccentric and quirky, either.  These are real people (or at least they feel real) and the author (John Dolan) writes with the voice of an experienced traveler – world weary, uncharted, but chasing the dragon of the next new adventure nonetheless.  He explains a magical culture in plain, rational language instead of getting all woo-woo on us – although he does get woo-woo on us.  Still, as a reader, I didn’t mind.  But I’m like that.

So, go out and get Hungry Ghosts and its sibling, Everyone Burns, if you haven’t already.  It’s worth your time and money and then some.  And it’s a great way to feel like you’ve been to Thailand without have to get frisked at the airport and sit for twenty hours sandwiched between two nightly steak eaters from Atlanta.

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In Retrospect

Former elite operative Merit Rafi suffered during her imprisonment at the end of a devastating war, but the ultimate torment is being forced to investigate a murder she would gladly have committed herself.

The year is 3324. In the region once known as Turkey, the Rasakans have attacked the technologically superior Oku. The war is a stalemate until the Oku commander, General Zane, abruptly surrenders.

Merit, a staunch member of the Oku resistance, fights on, but she and her comrades are soon captured. An uneasy peace ensues, but the Rasakans work secretly to gain control of the prized Oku time-travel technology. When Zane is murdered, the Rasakans exert their control over Merit, the last person on Earth capable of Forensic Retrospection.

Merit, though reinstated to her old job by the despised Rasakans, knows she is only a puppet. If she refuses to travel back in time to identify Zane’s killer, her family and colleagues will pay the price. But giving in to Rasakan coercion means giving them unimaginable power. She has only three days to make this morally wrenching choice; three days to change history.

As the preliminary investigation progresses, Merit uncovers evidence of a wider plot. How did the Rasakans defeat the technologically superior Oku? Why did the Oku surrender prematurely? How did the Rasakans discover her true identity? Merit realizes she will only find the answers by learning who killed the traitor, General Zane.

In Retrospect is a good old-fashioned whodunit set in a compelling post-apocalyptic future.

Purchase your copy here:



Ellen Larson’s first story appeared in Yankee Magazine in 1971. She has sold stories to AHMM (Barry Award finalist) and Big Pulp and is the author of the NJ Mysteries, The Hatch and Brood of Time and Unfold the Evil, featuring a sleuthing reporter. Her current book is In Retrospect, a dystopian mystery (Carefully crafted whodunit -PW starred). Larson lived for seventeen years in Egypt, where she developed a love of different cultures. She is editor of the Poisoned Pencil, the YA mystery imprint. These days she lives in an off-grid cabin in upstate New York, enjoying the solitude.

Visit her at http://www.inretrospectbook.com

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Pump Up Your Book and Ellen are teaming up to give you a chance to win 1 of 5 ARC’s of In Retrospect!

Terms & Conditions:
  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • Five winners will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive one of five ARC copies of In Retrospect
  • This giveaway begins January 14 and ends on January 31.
  • Winners will be contacted via email on February 1, 2014.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.

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