Nightingale by Ellie Raine – A New Book Review

 

Nightingale – Ellie Raine

Pro Se Productions

Nightingale

One of my favorite parts of any workday is my lunch time. It’s not the food, it’s a solid block of time I can count on for one my favorite past times. Reading. This past week lunch has been really pleasurable as I devoured the most recent offering from Ellie Raine, Nightingale.
I had the pleasure of meeting Ellie Raine at Memphis Comic and Fantasy Convention in November 2017. Her energy and smile were infectious. I picked up her first book, Willow of Ashes, and I immediately became an Ellie Raine fan.
Ellie Raine is a very talented author, bringing a distinct vision and fresh voice to her stories. I am glad to have an autographed copy of her first book. I will be getting her autograph for this one as well. She is an author in whom I believe will be a constant delight as she matures in her art.
When the chance came up to read and review Ellie Raine’s current offering from Pro Se Productions – Nightingale, I leaped at the chance. All I knew about it was from the promo tease, “A New Take on the Private Eye tale…and Death as well.” I already knew Ellie has a talent for writing fantasy that absorbs you into the story. Could she do it with a Detective Story?
Ellie’s main character Alastor Deus, P.I. seems to be the archetype of a man seeking vengeance for the murder of his father. Nightingale properly opens straight into the action. While “discussing” a lead to his father’s murderer, the interrogation is rudely interrupted by the murder of the informant. This is the last “normal” scene. From here on out, we are on the rollercoaster with Alastor as he finds his true family…even meeting Death. Just when you think you have a handle on the plot twists, Ellie finds a monkey wrench. But she doesn’t hit you over the head with it. Most of the plot twists came with a subtle lagniappe, a little extra. As a veteran reader of detective stories, it was quite refreshing. Imagine, reading a story that is almost predictable, but not completely.
The world of Nightingale is a very different, yet familiar reflection of our own. The twists in mythologies are highly creative and well imagined. The marriage of Private Eye story and the mythologies invoked is just shy of brilliant. Her prose is clever and evocative in the best tradition of Pulp detectives. The characters begin a little flat but each page reveals more of their past, adding shades of depth and grey motivations. There is not quite enough growth for them to become fully 3D but enough I wanted to see more of them. What else is waiting to be told? Between the pace of the story with new questions and revelations constantly expanding the backgrounds of the characters, Nightingale was very difficult to put it down.
As a pulp story, this tale really sings.

Thank you for reading,

Ernest

DISCLAIMER: I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for writing a review. I was not obligated to give a positive review, and all thoughts are my own.

The Blood in Snowflake Garden

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The Blood in Snowflake Garden
Author: D. Alan Lewis
Narrated by: Clark Clayson

Christmas can be murder, a murder most foul. Murder and a note from S. Claus, pleading for help, was the only thing which could draw retired Inspector Max Sneed back to active duty. A duty to investigate the murder of the North Poles Premier. Robert Watson, sent by a London paper to write about the jolliest place on Earth, is put instead straight to work by Max. In a twinkling he finds a merry chase through Civil Rights, Labor Disputes and Cold War politics. Robert’s sugar-plum laced pipe dreams of the cheeriest city on Earth are quickly shredded. The more Max and Robert slog through the sleazy, underbelly of the North Pole, the thinner the ice upon which they stand. This murder investigation is rife with a delicious trail of red-herrings, each with the lustre of new fallen snow. Do you want to know the secret history of Santa? How the city at the North Pole was founded? What is it about cupcakes? Once you know the answer, you may never see pastries the same way again.
The answer to these questions, and many more, will impact the world. The Cold War is heating up at the pole. Whoever is in charge at the North Pole could change the course of history. What is the connection between electronic toys and the military base proposed outside the warm zone?
The Blood in Snowflake Garden is one D. Alan Lewis’s earlier books. As such, while this tale does have a few rough edges compared to his later books, the visions within will dance in your heads. His talent for blending real world historical events combined with a different take on a well-known mythology will satisfy your sweet tooth for knowledge. Though you be in ‘kerchief or cap, and settled down in your bed, the last thing you will be taking is a long winter nap. Thoughts of all else, except what lies upon the next page, fly away like the down on a thistle.
The narrator, Clark Clayson, has just that right tone to bring the necessary grittiness upon the breast of the new-fallen snow sprinkled throughout the story. Switching easily between the world weary detective and the wide eyed reporter, err..journalist, to The Jolly Old Nick himself, Clark’s narration helps to create an alternate history you can believe as the tale is unraveled. His enunciations are clear and there is no background noise. His voice is the little old driver of the tale by which soon you will know, there is nothing to dread.

The Blood in Snowflake Garden

 

DISCLAIMER: I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for writing a review. I was not obligated to give a positive review, and all thoughts are my own.

 

The Billy Goats Gruff – A Crime Noir Fairy Tale – Part 1

Orland squinted as he tilted the bottle. Disappointed with how little remained, he downed it in a swallow; then held it upside down. Where were the answers that were supposed to hide at the bottom?
He knew why there were no answers. He already had them.
It was late and the office echoed. Still, he looked over his shoulder. Billy needed the new medastinum surgery to fix his lungs. Orland had lost his wife. He was not going to lose his son.
Before his last swallow of liquid nerve waned, he made a few quick pen strokes. There! It was finished. Tomorrow, as part of routine processing, a clerk would set up an ongoing transfer of funds to his secret account. He was an honest sort, but the company had refused to help. His salary was just not enough. The evidence was well-hidden and another clerk processing it was the final shield. Even the best auditors would be hard-pressed to track this back to him.
*****
Across town, splinters and dust flew as a stool attacked the wall. The wall won.
Detective Mikk Raud, enforcement services, had felt lucky his station was near home. He often stopped in for lunch. How could she? He never saw it coming. Knew she and the stoat had been friends. But he had been too trusting; it was a total shock coming home for lunch, maybe a little hanky-panky with the wife. Then he found all of her and their daughter’s things gone.
Numb from shock, he had gone on a toot. A few bottles of Ol’ Swamp Piss later and he’d woken to the landlord banging on the door. Stumbling over pieces of broken furniture, rubbing his sloped forehead, he’d answered the door. His landlord took a step back. “There’ve been complaints about the noise last night. I’m a nice guy, rented to you even though you’re trolls. Hope I don’t have cause to regret it.”
Mikk promised it would not happen again and shut the door. Then he’d crawled back into a bottle until, still on edge and hung over, he reported for his shift. He had thought routine might help. First call was a stupid teen goat. Had the kid just come peacefully he would have gotten a slap on the wrist. But no, he’d attacked and Mikk reacted. His natural trollish strength amplified by red rage, he let fly with all the pent anger at his wife. The kid was flung into a wall. With the crack of a homerun, his neck snapped, killing him.
Now, family gone, career ruined, Mikk perched on the skeleton of a chair, surveying the damage to his home.
Head falling into his hands, he wept.

Opus Marduk – Pt 2

It was then the scheme to gain the ultimate power came to me. The hope I dared not hope, nor let myself know I hoped it, ascendancy could be mine, ran his thoughts,  in that moment, slaking my thirst from the blood running down my axe. I smiled as the warband roared in jubilation with the prospects of battle, none the wiser for the part they might play.

Others were aware of this event; it was a glorious, bloody series of battles. All added to the skulls and blood offered to Ghurzil, Mechron, Dark Yllie, Daks, Servants of Kurupi all provided ecstasy and rush of battle. After each battle, each sacrifice, Marduk could feel himself growing stronger, more powerful, filled with a rage so pure as to be euphoric. As the weak follower of Kurupi succumbed to the might of Ghurzil, it breathed the last temptation; the artifact they sought was the Pandorica Libre. Of such intense power, even fabled librarians of Tezcatlipoca had sought it for millennia.

Breaking through the jungles, the mythical temples came into view. To bleed a sacrifice upon the altar of the pylons situated atop each of the twin ziggurats would open a stable portal into the warp. The power of chaos could flow freely and he, Marduk, with the aid of the Pandorica would become legend. From afar a glint of metals gave rise to knowledge; this would be a special battle. One against a most hated foe, the Ashen Cabelleros. A foe especially despised since their banishment of Ka’jagga’nath , Lord of the Bloodtide, chosen among Khorne, whose epic corruption of a Sisters of Fortune garrison on Van Horne songs are still sung.

The battle was the fiercest in many a year, as wave on wave of the Ashen Cabelleros raced to the challenge of the ancient ziggurats. The Marauders fought as demons themselves, and Ghurzil smiled. The Grand Master of the Ashen Cabelleros JonDuc intent upon reaching the chaos artifact within the temple cut his way through the fray, one of the dreaded a Adversary Knights at his back.

Finally, as the great land raider, Grim Skull crushed the temple to ruins Marduk emerged with his retinue. Wearing the skulls of fallen as a mask, they inspired fear in even the fearless. The hideous heat of the heavy flamer, in support of the Berzerkers against a group of Purifiers, lent its sulfurous fumes to the stench of melting meat.

Marduk strode forth, confident of his power challenging the Grand Master to single combat. As all the followers of the Corpse of Mankind, he treacherously accepted and stepped aside for the Adversary Knight to come forward. Marduk’s roar of rage at the cowardice shirking of battle could be heard over the battle field. With a thunderous crash of ancient ceramite and metal, the demon trapped within his weapon screaming, the rending shriek of metal as Marduk clove the Adversary Knight, reached into its belly and withdrew the mewling occupant within. In a snarling growl Marduk asked, “You Ashen Cabelleros are supposed to know Chaos, I am here to give you a chance..Give yourself to Ghurzil and live”, eyes blazing, the devastated body of the once proud purifier released his hand. The dead man switch clanked and clunked down the face of the ruined temple, closing his remaining eye, gave one last scream from his tortured lungs, “For the Empire!”, and the Adversary Knight exploded.

The blast wave washed over Marduk, hot, powerful, but nothing as compared to his fury being denied his prize. Ripping the head from the fallen warrior, he turned up the body as a grotesque tankard, pouring the blood down his throat and over his face.

True sanity, after one fashion or another, entails dissolving the normal ego. That piece of false security, competency adjusted, to our alien, material world. In that moment the final shreds of Marduks sanity and connection to this mortal plane began to dissolve. Turning began to stalk after the Grand Master.

 

Thank you for reading,

Ernest