This Friday, I’m out to have fun and I have three very different books to help me do it.
”The Starr Sting Scale’ by C.Es. O’Cinneide (2020), kicks off a new hard-edged, witty crime series about Candace Starr, a former professional hitwoman, trying to retire and not quite getting there.
”Like A House On Fire’ by Caroline Hulse (2020) is an English comedy about a disastrous family anniversary party attended by a recently divorced couple who haven’t had the courage to tell the wife’s parents that they are divorced.
‘Dread Nation’ by Justina Ireland (2019) is a Young Adult alternative history, coming of age book, set in a timeline where the American Civil War was ended by a zombie uprising, tells the story of Jane McKeene who has just landed her first post protecting a wealthy white family after graduating from ‘Miss Preston’s School of Combat for Negro Girls’.
With ‘The Starr Sting Scale’ I’m looking for something witty, gritty and slick. I’m hoping retired hitwoman, Candace Starr will give me that.
Here’s an encouraging example of how Candace thinks. She’s been approached by a woman looking for her to ‘assist’ with a difficult husband. Candace reflects:
‘Difficult husbands are a speciality of mine. Rarely, in my line of work, do you run into a husband who isn’t difficult in some way. The cheat, they lie and occasionally they smack their women around. It’s like the metal in a wedding ring creates a strange magnetic force within a guy’s body that sets off his asshole switch. Maybe wives should insist on a wooden band?’
I’m hoping for a light, fast read that sets the foundation for a good series. By the way, the Starr Sting Scale is used to measure the amount of pain received from stings from large insects.
I had fun with Caroline Hulse’s first book, ‘The Adults’ last year so I had ‘Like A House On Fire‘ on pre-order. Hulse has a talent for exposing all the stresses and strains of family life and using them to build a comic farce that is laugh-out-loud funny and cringe-worthily honest.
The premise of ‘Like A House On Fire’, a family coming together to celebrate a wedding anniversary by attending a Murder Mystery Weekend at a posh hotel while the main couple tries to conceal their upcoming divorce, sounds ripe for mayhem.
The cover of ‘Dread Nation’, by Justina Ireland was almost enough to make me buy the book without knowing anything else about it. It’s a cover that’s proud of itself. A cover that shows grace and threatens violence. A cover that says, ‘You don’t know me yet, but you should’.
Still, everyone knows you can’t judge a book by its cover. You judge it by reading its first page. If the author can’t get themselves together to deliver a hook on the first page, how likely is it that the rest of the book is going to be worth your time? So this is what made me by the book:
A PROLOGUE IN WHICH I AM BORN AND SOMEONE TRIES TO MURDER ME
The day I came squealing and squalling into the world was the first time someone tried to kill me. I guess it should have been obvious to everyone right then that I wasn’t going to have a normal life.
It was the midwife that tried to do me in. Truth be told, it wasn’t really her fault. What else is a good Christian woman going to do when a Negro comes flying out from between the legs of the richest white woman in Haller County, Kentucky?
I love the tone of this and its immediacy. This is a writer with a voice.
Oh, and there are zombies. Not just any zombies. Civil War zombies. And an alternative history in which a lone black girl is all that’s standing between the zombies and the rich white folks who employ her. I’m in. I’m so in.