Jayne’s Tor Originals Reading List
Knowledgeable Creatures by Christopher Rowe
A dog detective is hired by a female human to investigate a murder that she committed. But of course, all is not as it seems in this strange, mysterious world rendered wonderfully by speculative fiction author Christopher Rowe.
A dog detective? A confused possible murderer? What …?? I didn’t know what to expect when I began this short story but I ended up really enjoying it. It’s written in a “hard-boiled detective” style – that is if the detective is a dog. When potential murderer Professor Thomasina Swallow approaches Connolly Marsh with her problem, he’s ruminating on a recent case while enjoying a bit of rawhide. He should have known to keep clear of the case but he didn’t. When all is said and done, Marsh has learned a few lessons he’ll ever forget including don’t take a case that involves a learned mouse. What begins as a routine investigation becomes chilling when you go back and consider the fate of two of the characters. It’s the kind of story that entertains and creepily sneaks up on you at the end. B
Judge Dee and the Poisoner of Montmartre by Lavie Tidhar
Judge Dee returns to solve a new case involving a Parisian party gone wrong. But this time? Everyone in attendance is a suspect, including the judge himself.
Vampire Judge Dee and his human servant Jonathan are in Paris for an extended stay before being invited to a party at a grand estate on Montmartre. As the party proceeds, the “dinner guests” for the vampires chow down in the kitchen before being sent out to be … dinner for the vampires. Only someone wants a particular vampire dead. After a rather spectacular death – involving voluminous vomited ichor and bodily explosions – Judge Dee must determine which of the many suspects (all of whom wanted the victim dead) actually did the deed. Once again poor Jonathan, who longs for enough food and warmth and to not wake up screaming from his nightmares, must put up with snooty vampires as well as a snooty Parisian maid. At first the case seems almost too easy to solve but wait, it will take Judge Dee’s intellect and Jonathan’s oblivious clue to see beyond the obvious. It will, however, be left to Jonathan to mop up the blood as vampires let others clean up after them. B-
Little Free Library by Naomi Kritzer
Upon setting up her own Little Free Library that she built from a kit, Meagan develops an unexpected friendship with a mysterious book borrower.
Meagan lovingly builds and paints a Little Free Library from a kit she bought then begins to stock it with excess copies or books she’s enjoyed but knows she won’t read again. A few are taken, a copy of ” The Davinci Code” is left at which Meagan grimaces but to each their own. Then one night the library is cleaned out after which Meagan leaves a note requesting that people only take 1-2 books and leave something in exchange. Weird but beautiful things begin to appear in place of some of the books – mostly military in nature. Requests come for specific books and thanks are given that now they have hope and a plan against their enemies. “WTH?” Meagan thinks. My neighborhood is actually inundated with LFLs (which I’ve used, similarly to Meagan, as a place to set books free) but no one has ever left anything like the last thing Meagan gets. Wonder what it’s going to become. B
Seven Vampires: A Judge Dee Mystery by Lavie Tidhar
Paris is burning and Judge Dee and Jonathan are on the run. To guarantee their safety, they join a band of seven vampires escaping to England. The only problem? Someone in their midst is killing off members of their group one by one. It’s of no matter to the Judge, provided they don’t breach the Unalienable Obligations, but inevitably he’s drawn into events.
Jonathan and Judge Dee fingered the murderer at Montmartre but when the citizens of Paris get sick of being prey for too many vampires, they go on the hunt. Fleeing the burning city, Judge Dee has arranged to meet up with seven other vampires to travel to Calais. But one is dead before they arrive and night by night, one more is killed. Who is/are the killers and why? It seemed to me that Judge Dee was jumping to a lot of conclusions before putting a reluctant Jonathan to work. By the end, it needed a lot of villain exposition and a clue poor Jonathan found to explain things. Technically not the best in this series but after having watched “What We Do in the Shadows,” I couldn’t help but “hear” the dialogue the way it’s spoken on that show. Also, vampires really are vain, selfish, gluttonous creatures. C+
All of these can also be read at Tor.com