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Rosalie M. Lin

Sixty seconds with Rosalie M. Lin...

Rosalie M. Lin is a Chinese-American writer from the San Francisco Bay Area. She has, at various points in the past decade, graduated with a degree in Comparative Literature, pole-danced in two Beijing nightclubs, and dropped out of a biomedical PhD program before seriously pursuing her original dream of becoming an author. Daughter of Calamity is her debut novel.

RTE: Describe yourself in a sentence?

Lin: Just a girl who loves dancing carving out a small life in San Francisco with her cat – who writes books at odd hours of the night.

RTE: What's the one record you'd take to a desert island?

Lin: BTS – Boy with Luv

RTE: What did you want to be when you were growing up?

Lin: An author! So I guess that’s working out.

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June 30, 2024

Officially it became summer recently but whether or not we greet that news with all the usual pleasure depends very much on the weather forecast. Summers used to be fairly predictable, but recently have been full of surprises, few of them pleasant. Maybe that accounts for the absence of the traditional beach read from our reviews this month. Probably not, but whatever the cause, this time out we favoured history.

Leading the list is the eighteenth and sadly last entry in the Maisie Dodds series, THE COMFORT OF GHOSTS, in which Jacqueline Winspear returns to various moments of Maisie's life, beginning with the First World War and ending now with the immediate aftermath of the Second. Anne Corey found it a successful ending to the series, one which allowed faithful readers to have closure on various elements of Maisie's life and she wishes her well in her future that will go unrecorded.

THE NIGHT THE RIVER WEPT is Lo Patrick's second novel set in a relatively unknown area of her home state of Georgia. Like THE FLOATING GIRLS, she uses elements of cold case crime fiction as a frame for an exploration of broader and deeper themes. I liked the first book very much and this one even more. THE FINAL ACT OF JULIETTE WILLOUGHBY by Ellery Lloyd is substantially different, but it does reach back into the 1930s for what is essentially a cold case involving a woman Surrealist artist, a case that is pursued by young amateurs in the 1990s. Although it is focussed partcularly on art, it is, like Patrick's novel, firmly aware of the situation of women. Rebecca Nesvet recommends it enthusiastically.

CAMINO GHOSTS by John Grisham introduces history as part of a contemporary law case. The historical element is slavery and the legal question is whether or not the owner of an island on which slaves lived is in fact a descendent of those slaves, Ruth Castleberry reports that both the historical and contemporary narratives are gripping.

Rebecca was also impressed by Robert J. Lloyd's THE BEDLAM CADAVER, the third in his Henry Hunt series and an historical novel that remains fully in its period, the late seventeenth century. Rebecca admired the author's refusal to modernize the sensibilities of his characters to make them more attractive to today's readers. Instead, she says he aims for truth as far as it can be reconstructed.

Rosalie M. Lin's debut, DAUGHTER OF CALAMITY is set in Shanghai in the 1930s and is, Rebecca says, an "astonishing, exhilarating work," one that is likely to become a classic in the future. Narrated by a cabaret dancer, it is touched with horror and magical realism and Rebecca looks forward to a sequel if there is to be one.

Another cabaret dancer is at the centre of THE LAST NOTE OF WARNING by Katherine Schellman, set in New York City in the 1920s and the third in the series. Unfortunately, I found this one based on so improbable a premise that the mystery element lacked all suspense and the period details were thin. Followers of the series may be interested, but new readers should start at the first book.

Craig Johnson's FIRST FROST marks number 20 in the Longmire series. While it begins in the present, it harks back to Longmire's youth and an event that was formative. Sharon Mensing says that the previous book in the series, THE LONGMIRE DEFENSE, should be read first in order to follow this one fully, but that she very much enjoyed this retrospective turn in a series that the author is planning to continue.

We can take a brief break from history to look at some wholly contemporary offerings, though Ram Murali's DEATH IN THE AIR reflects Agatha Christie and James Hilton. Rebecca says Murali outdoes the pair of them in this debut set largely in a New Age spa in India where the protagonist, an American of Indian descent, is enlisted to investigate a murder. It is, says Rebecca, "a strong meditation on diaspora, justice, and identity that proves that formula fiction genres can be adapted to do surprisingly good work."

The title of Patrice McDonough's debut, MURDER BY LAMPLIGHT, certainly signals that it will be an historical mystery cast in a traditional mould. Meredith Frazier says that is so, but also observes that it also offers a cast of strong-minded characters, among which is Dr Julia Lewis, an example of a very rare mid-nineteenth century female qualified physician. Meredith suggests that this first novel will provide an excellent start to a projected series.

Finally, we have a book that offers several items that we like to see in a cozy. REQUIEM FOR A MOUSE by Miranda James, offers among them books, a forthcoming wedding, and a couple of cats. After all, this is number 16 in this author's Cats in the Stacks series. Ruth Castleberry reports that it also provides a complex mystery complete with rivetting suspense.

And that concludes our list for June. Don't forget to check on what Rosalie M. Lin has to say in our Sixty Seconds With...feature.

We've decided to take a summer vacation, so we won't be back till August, hopefully rested, relaxed, and remarkably well read. We hope you will be too and will join us once again. Even on holiday we'll be delighted to hear from you, so drop us a line and get in touch.

The Editors:

Yvonne Klein

Rebecca Nesvet

P.S. If you wish to submit a book for review, please check here before contacting us. Please note that we do not review self-published books.

Our mascot and masthead is Smokey the Cat. Smokey the cat went to the great playground in the sky on April 29, 2008, at 3:30 p.m. He was about 13 years old, had diabetes and only 11 teeth left. He is much happier now. He will remain as our masthead and mascot.

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