Okay, so it's been a while since I finished the Tamara Siler Jones books, but you know how it is. Finish one book, move on to the next...and so on.
"Ghosts in the Snow" was well-written, and I thought the plot was well done. I don't read many mysteries, so it takes me a little longer to figure things out sometimes, but I really liked trying to keep track of all the clues and put them together. And not be thrown off by the red herring(s). You'll know what I mean if you read the book.
But besides the plot and mysterious fun, Jones takes the time to shape her characters. They show their true colors in their actions and you understand why they act the way they do. I think that I like Lars and Dubric the best.
The next book in the series, "Threads of Malice" is much more intense and darker than the first book. If that's possible. Dubric, Lars, Dien and Otlee have to leave their home this time and travel north into a deeply rural area. There are ties to the mage wars mentioned in the first book, and the area is where Dubric defeated one of said mages.
"Threads" deals with incredible violence against young boys, and that's the part of the evil Dubric has to stop. Some person is kidnapping, torturing and killing boys in the area, and Dubric has to relive some of his past to stop the killings. There's a lot of growing up to do for the main guys.
They all change in reaction to the events of this installment and I'll have to read the third book, "Valley of the Soul," to find out how much. It's interesting to look at Dubric a little more closely, and to see how the events open old wounds and heal others.
I highly recommend these books, but why? Well, I've never seen anything similar to them. I would categorize them as forensic fantasy. Set in a totally original world, and Dubric uses rudimentary forensic skills to solve murders. Footprint, fibers, etc., are what interest him. He likes science, but also has a difficult past with religion.
I also like the interesting history with the mages that has had a profound impact on the country. Hints of a technologically advanced society taken over by evil mages, and now basically operating in an equivalent Dark Ages where magic in shunned. A nice commentary on science, technology and too much power.
Another series I recently started is the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher. Harry Dresden, wizard/P.I. is the main character, and he's most of the reason I'm reading the books. I like his humor, his chivalry, his ingenuity and the hints of a sordid family past. I've only gotten through the first two books -- pretty tidy mysteries with lots of subplots -- and now I'm left hanging.
Basically I'm short on cash and the library is missing the Dresden Files 3-6 and 12. Bleh. Maybe when I get a real job, I can get the rest. Or, request them from the library.
So now that I've gone gushy on two series, I have to break your heart. "The Snow Queen" is the fourth in Mercedes Lackey's Five Hundred Kingdoms series. I couldn't get enough of her Valdemar series as a teen, and I ate up the Kingdoms books. But "Queen," well, I just can't love. I want to, really, but the climax killed it.
I know, I know, it's a fairy tale and that's how things work under the influence of "The Tradition," but it doesn't make for a very realistic reading. I feel as though everything was tied off too neatly, and sometimes where it wasn't warranted.
Like Aleksia's feelings for Ilmari, Lemminkal and Veikko. She only knows about them from afar, which doesn't make for a close relationship, but Aleksia is on the verge of tears over their misfortune because she feels so close to them. What? And then at the end they're best buds! Feels like too much "Tradition" at work.
To give credit, Lackey's characters are well-developed and dynamic as they often are. You want to hear their stories. And her creative use of traditional fairy tales in this series is both entertaining and informative. Overall, "Queen" was worth it for those facets, but the first three were much better.