Crackle and Fire: An Angela Hardwicke Mystery by Russ Colchamiro combines compelling characters with noir-mystery and sci-fi tropes and blasts them into exciting new territory.
What is the audience for this work of speculative fiction? This is from the book’s description on Bookshop.org:
“[Crackle and Fire: An Angela Hardwicke Sci-Fi Mystery is] For fans of Doctor Who, Blade Runner and Philip Marlowe…”
And Crackle and Fire is just the first in The Angela Hardwicke Mysteries Book 1 series. Book 2 is coming in the not-too-distant future.
The following book review of Crackle and Fire: An Angela Hardwicke Mystery contains **MILD SPOILERS for the book’s plot in the opening.
Russ Colchamiro’s tale combines many of my favorite plot elements and world building for an innovative, gritty, pull-no punches neo-noir-mystery in the Universe.
The Universe may span the outer reaches of space, myriad places of which earth is just a tiny blip on the radar, and that is all the more reason for the need of the PI, the private investigator Angela Hardwicke.
Her inner monologue is self-critical and always interesting, as this inner speech often betrays to the reader the nerves that flare up, or the terror that floods her vision, when on the outside, she appears as cool as they come.
Angela Hardwicke has seen a lot and her mannerisms – such as having the tears in her long trench coat sewn over and over again – show a vast amount of experience, stubbornness, and grit.
The woman is savvy and cautious, but also tired; she is as tired as any of Raymond Chandler’s most worn-out cops, PIs, or fugitives.
The writing echoes Hardwicke’s exhaustion, and right from the outset of the story her mental weariness proves very costly.
She slips up in taking on a case from a likeable guy that is so nervous he borders on squirrelly.
And what a fun character Gil Haberseau turns out to be!
The accountant is terrible at math.
But people like him, so he gets on pretty well.
That is, at least until Gil’s intern disappears with stolen files tied to the worst of the mob, the Anshanis.
When Hardwicke wants no part of the ruthless Anshanis (after a past run-in gone sour), Gil corrals her by mentioning her name was in the stolen files, which is why he has come to her.
But he has almost no information to give the PI that will help her track down the missing intern.
She can feel the lies, the inherent danger that is only showing the tip of the iceberg above the water’s surface.
And then, as clacking shots are made on pool tables around her, the obvious damning truth – the omitted truth – comes home to her, but not in a self-reliant epiphany; it is her friends that have to explain it to her.
Gil is no accountant.
And his ‘intern’ may come from other dimensions in the vast multiverse to their own universal realm, Eternity, meaning the stakes and the complications pertaining to them are infinitely more than Hardwicke could ever have imagined.
To start the case, really start the case this time, she ambushes her own client in his apartment and confronts him for his lies.
The intern, from a remote planet called earth, could be big trouble.
The story is riveting in both the personal aspects of its characters and the page-turning action, but it also has a grandiose scope far beyond the notion of the known universe.
Fractured Lives: An Angela Hardwicke Sci-Fi Mystery (The Angela Hardwicke Mysteries Book 2) By Russ Colchamiro will be released in September 2021!
“Crackle and Fire: An Angela Hardwicke Mystery By Russ Colchamiro” was written by R.J. Huneke.
***I thought it would be cool to feature this great work of fiction on TFF, as it appears on her sister site, POWkabam; typically we will keep comics on there and novels on here but today we mix it up.
Ghost In The Shell Vol-1 by Masamune Shirow is incredible for its art and its prescient story.
In the 1990s, The Ghost In The Shell Volume 1 must have left readers in a state of utter incredulity.
It does so today as well, but the 21st Century depicted in the epic manga series has hit on many eerie notes that are developed or in development in the modern age, the digital age.
The following review of The Ghost In The Shell Volume 1 is *Spoiler Free*
If cybernetic limbs can lead to cyborgs with implants, why cannot a brain, a soul, a ghost, eventually be uploaded into a full-on cyborg model.
That concept in and of itself may not be very original.
Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep by Philip K. Dick was one of the first to combine this AI and/or soul-brain into machine concept along the rough and jaded lines that were foundational for cyberpunk: gritty, grim futures with deadly and often seemingly unnatural additions in the forms of robotics to humans and to the bots themselves.
Make no mistake: the first volume in The Ghost In The Shell series is not to be missed!
It is the myriad facets of the storyline, the characters, and, yes, the tech and the way it is used that is well established as innovative, even today.
Having humans fully rely on and take advantage of semi-autonomous robots that seem completely human – West World, anyone? – is also well established, but Shirow pits the humans that are fully integrated into robots against ghost hackers that begin to override human-cyborgs that have a brain and presumably a soul and completely control them.
The protagonist of The Ghost In The Shell Volume One is Major Motoko Kusanagi, a cyborg federal agent with the utmost skill in taking down the big threats.
But what if the people being controlled, the ghosts being hacked, and the political atmosphere is not what it seems?
Kusanagi is at the greatest risk . . .
READ THE REST OF THE BOOK REVIEW ON TFF’S SISTER SITE FROM RUNE WORKS PRODUCTIONS, POWkabam COMICS here.
“Ghost In The Shell Vol-1 By Masamune Shirow Is Incredible” was written by R.J. Huneke.
Replay By Ken Grimwood: Suntup Editions Replay Suntup Replay, and as this time travel tale goes on, the suspenseful, metaphysical, time-mind warp grips the reader’s heart tighter and tighter.
This is a Spoiler-Free** Preview Review of the upcoming Suntup Editions for Ken Grimwood’s award-winning novel Replay.
Conjuring all of the mystery of time travel, the philosophy behind its implications and the personal touch of experiencing love throughout the flux is why Isaac Asimov’s The End of Eternity is my favorite book by Asimov, and Grimwood’s Replay has all of these elements and a magic about it, while being an incredibly fresh and vibrant and innovative tale all of its own.
I know of no book like Replay.
The only hint as to the last book release from Suntup Editions was the publisher, Paul Suntup himself, who said this was one of his favorite books.
Despite having the utmost faith in his judgement as an extremely well-read human, a poet, and a brilliant crafter of fine press books, I was taken aback when I saw Replay announced; I had not heard of it.
I will admit to being flummoxed – as a science fiction writer and fanatic, how did I miss this – and I doubted whether or not I should invest in one of the upcoming editions from Suntup, despite their out-of-this-world design and attention to detail.
I was wrong to doubt. I was so wrong.
I read the book in a few days; I could not put it down.
I think the only reason more folks have not heard of Ken Grimwood is that the author tragically died of a heart attack young, not unlike Replay’s protagonist Jeff Winston who dies abruptly at age 43 – at the same day and time – and awakes with all memories of his past life, but back where he was at the age of 18 in the early 1960’s.
What would you do if you could go back with knowledge of 20+ years and experience in a young person’s body?
What are the potential consequences of the replays that happen over and over each time Jeff reaches that fatal day at age 43, no matter where he is?
This novel pulls and yanks at your heartstrings, again and again.
There is debauchery, tragedy, loss, love, and so much more.
The ending got me choked up, as 1984 and only a handful of other books have ever done.
And Suntup Editions has done the most amazing job of bringing every facet of this complex story to light in each of their four different stand-alone limited editions.
I will review the numbered edition in detail when it arrives, but for now feast your eyes on each of the incredible works of art that are pushing the boundaries of intrinsic story-encompassing publishing with the art and design.
These editions all floor me, and the artist edition is still available to purchase, as well, signed by surrealist painter Alessandro Sicioldr Bianchi.
The art is, well there are no words; take a look at each edition:
The Artist edition is limited to 1000 copies with a dust jacket illustrated by Alessandro Sicioldr Bianchi. It is a full cloth, smyth sewn binding with two-hits foil stamping. It is the only edition of the three with the dust jacket, and is signed by the artist. The edition is printed offset and is housed in an embossed paper covered slipcase with an acrylic coating. [https://suntup.press/replay]
The Numbered edition of 350 copies is a handbound quarter leather binding with printed Hahnemühle Bugra boards and leather capped fore edges. The edition is enclosed in a quarter leather chemise and a Japanese cloth slipcase. The cover features a letterpress printed label and endsheets are Hahnemühle Bugra. The edition is printed offset on Mohawk Via and is signed by Alessandro Sicioldr Bianchi and Tim Powers. [https://suntup.press/replay]
The Lettered edition is limited to 26 copies and is a Dorfner style binding after master German bookbinder Otto Dorfner, who developed this structure in the early 20th century. The binding is sewn on supports with goat leather strips laminated to silk, with the boards attached to the textblock by the sewing supports. The boards are covered in full goatskin with goatskin onlays and blind tooling on the spine, and the flyleaves are covered with a suede material on one side. The edition is sewn and bound entirely by hand by master bookbinder Jacek Tylkowski in Poland.
The clamshell enclosure is full European cloth with a blind debossed cover. The edition is printed offset on Mohawk Via and is signed by Alessandro Sicioldr Bianchi and Tim Powers. [https://suntup.press/replay]
The Roman Numeral edition is limited to 10 copies and is bound in full leather. The leather features an original design using hand dying techniques and photographs of live models, which are transfered to the surface. The block is sewn onto stubs for a perfect opening. The boards are laced on, for the greatest durability. Doublures and headbands are in leather. The edition is sewn and bound entirely by hand by master bookbinder, Zigor Anguiano Calzada in Spain.
The clamshell enclosure is full leather with a rounded spine and suede inner linings with Japanese cloth. The edition is printed offset on Mohawk Superfine and is signed by Alessandro Sicioldr Bianchi and Tim Powers. [https://suntup.press/replay]
“Replay By Ken Grimwood: Suntup Editions Replay Suntup Replay” was written by R.J. Huneke. Illustrations © by Alessandro Sicioldr Bianchi; Photography by Yegor Malinovskii.
Ania Ahlborn’s The Devil Crept In is horrifyingly real and frightening enough to make readers avoid rural Oregon, or woods in general, for that matter.
I jest about the woods as I look at my own patch of dark trees in the yard at twilight and cannot help but worry what might be lurking in there; thanks, Ania.
The Devil Crept In centers around Stevie, one of the best protagonists you could ever have the pleasure to meet.
The following Book Review Of The Devil Crept In Contains **Spoilers** But Not Of The Ending
Stevie is a young boy of around eight or nine, who is likely on the spectrum, has no friends, but one – his cousin, Jude – because of speech difficulties and the missing the bulk of the fingers on his right hand a la Roland Deschain.
Despite his father’s abandoning Stevie, his mother, and his older brother, because of Stevie’s Mom refusing to treat the panic attacks and breakdowns, and despite the physically abusive step-father that is only present to pay the bills and torment his wife and youngest step-child, Stevie remains a good kid.
Sure, he goofs off, he disobeys his parent’s requests, and he goes off on unsanctioned adventures with Jude, but all that is normal kid stuff, and at his core he is very empathetic toward others and genuinely worries over animals and people alike.
The setting in Oregon, from the lush trails and old overgrown paths to the mossy-roof of what is seemingly an abandoned house on the edge of the forest is enveloping.
The characters, from the shop keeper trying to warn Stevie of the danger out in those woods, to Stevie’s horrible older brother – who makes him swear to not have seen the hand job his girlfriend was giving him at the movie theater – are too familiar.
They are too real.
The thought of Stevie’s step-father Terry, a real monster in human form, and the sound of his belt being unbuckled to whip Stevie makes me squirm.
This tale is based on a reality so solid you feel as though you could move there and lose your dog in no time as well.
Stevie worries over people being okay and seems to care for those around him with a golden ability that many young people possess, even if they hide it.
Stevie’s older cousin Jude, on the other hand, is two years Stevie’s senior, and is the small Oregon town of Deer Valley’s brash malcontent.
And for all of Jude’s harsh words, like making fun of Stevie’s speech impediment, he is the only one that has showed any desire to spend time with the boy who lost much of his right hand in a garbage disposal.
When Jude goes missing, Stevie’s world is decimated.
He feels utterly alone.
He seeks frantically to find out what has happened to his only friend, not knowing what his investigations into the long-abandoned trails in the wooded town might bring.
Around this time, he sees an animal-like creature around this time, that he describes as a yeti, for lack of any other comparable being.
But the adults in his life do not listen to him.
His are the ravings of a madman in a child’s body; a clearly disturbed boy.
Stevie learns of the missing pets in the town.
What kind of town has virtually no pets among them?
The kind of town, surrounded by woods, that is hungry.
The yeti, it turns out, was born out of a night terror rape with what may have been Satan.
A soon-to-be single mother sought refuge from a biker-run crash house, and an old Dead-head one percenter named Rasputin was too kind to grant her wishes.
One night under his care, and nine months later, the white hairy ape-like human is the result.
He is very real. He eats flesh from whatever he can chew. He is not quite human.
The lesson: listen to kids, not the town’s communal rumor mill.
The sad truth is that small towns often look away from the truth as easily as adults ignore what children say.
And children, like the truth, should be heeded.
Ania Ahlborn brings one of my new favorite protagonists, Stevie, and the reader through an agonizing range of emotions, from desperation and exasperation to fear and the internal debate over the compulsion to need to act violently to save one’s self and others.
My only critique is that I would have loved to see a little more of the bearded Rasputin, who appears a couple of times in the book, briefly.
But the imagination certainly spins, like a possessed head, with the thoughts of the possibilities that lurk in and around the character Rasputin.
In Ania Ahlborn’s The Devil Crept In, the reality is set before the reader, as if it is perched on a stone, and when it shakes or falls, the story jars us heavily.
“Ania Ahlborn’s The Devil Crept In Is Horrifyingly Real” was written by R.J. Huneke
The Last House On Needless Street by Catriona Ward unnerves!
This Preview Review of the upcoming novel The Last House On Needless Street by Catriona Ward that is being released in the US by TOR on 9/28/2021 is **SPOILER FREE**.
You will never read another book quite like this, and I mean that as one of the highest compliments I can give to a work of fiction.
This is a narrative with the most unreliable of narrators.
The main character, Ted, made me so uncomfortable and unsettled with his mannerisms, I had to grasp for anxiety meds.
His admittedly unreliable and past-present-ever-shifting memory, and his worries over what the neighbors may think of the young girl, Dee, a daughter-like figure – if not blood-related – that is only allowed out at certain times in his boarded up, dilapidated home on the end of the road and the edge of the woods, and the frantic frenzy of internal fear that came through Ted made me cringe steadily as I read on.
The writing from Ward is truly extraordinary, as the voices she emanates and the world she has built become so real that the tale is utterly enveloping.
Dark fiction has rarely been this bold!
The chapters shift to different characters and their point of view, so Ted is followed by the angry young girl, Dee, who lost her sister years ago, and Olivia, Ted’s cat, who has quite the outspoken and insightful feline personality.
Tor Nightfire’s description of the book:
On Sale: 09/28/2021
Catriona Ward’s The Last House On Needless Street is a shocking and immersive read perfect for fans of Gone Girl and The Haunting of Hill House.
Think on that for a minute: the preeminent haunted house of Shirley Jackson combined with thrilling pace and murderous mystery of Flynn’s Gone Girl. WOW!
Make no mistake, The Last House On Needless Street will make you squirm; and the book will make you feverishly turn the pages seeking answers that come in bunches and only make the storyline more complex as more shakily reliable information comes to light.
This is a phenomenal work of writing and a nightmarish-like tsunami of story forcing the reader to pick up the pieces and refit them again and again as the characters feed the frenzy.
“The Last House On Needless Street By Catriona Ward Unnerves” was written by R.J. Huneke.