Court of Crows is a court drama originally published in 1961 in hardcover and then published at least twice in paperback by Popular Library, in 1963 and 1967. Although reviewed in the New York Times when released it is so unknown today as to not even be found on Goodreads.
From the back cover "A fascinating journey into the devious twistings of adultery, murder and betrayal among a decadent people..." and "...because she was an adulteress, she stood trial for murder...an impressively substantial novel..."
There are a fair number of copies available on the secondary market. Fourteen copies on Biblio, for example, as low as $5.99.
Information on Knowlton himself is harder to find. He was an officer in the Navy and an editor at the United Press. Born in 1914, he died young in 1968. His father was a well-known trial lawyer in Massachusetts.
A couple of poems from my collection Moments in honor of the first snowfall in New York for the year. Christmas always seems better with a little snow on the ground!
Snow passes silently from sky to ground
No wind stirs this dark night;
The white blanket grows slowly
Undisturbed by man or beast
Visible only in the streetlights’ glow.
Stillness allows every bare branch,
Every parked auto, every rooftop,
Every blade of grass or evergreen bough
To gather a thin veneer of white
Subdued at the edges of the light pools,
Brilliant in the centers, foretelling
An even greater brilliance to come
With the rising of the winter Sun.
A soft blanket builds, contours
Taken by round curves between parts;
Branch to branch, one grass blade to another.
Gray transforming into white as the light builds
Muted contrast of white upper sides
With black undersides on trees,
Signs, wires, railings, and swings.
Softly, silently, the snow falls.
Setting up under low stage lights
For the brilliant morning scene
Under bright sun and clear sky.
Snow is coming,
Do you feel it?
Bones creak and ache
In the pre-dawn hour.
Snow is coming,
Do you see it?
Sky pink and purple;
Clouds cover the rising sun.
Snow is coming
Do you smell it?
Water, dust, and sulfur
On the light, cold, breeze.
Snow is coming
Do you touch it?
Soft, small and white
Floating down in silence.
Romance and Mystery are by far the two largest genres of fiction. Harlequin capitalized on this with their Intrigue series.
Romantic Suspense was first popularized in the 1950s and 1960s with the likes of Mary Stewart, Victoria Holt, and Phyllis Whitney. Harlequin launched Intrigue, with contemporary timelines and characters, in 1984.
The Intrigue series, like other "harlequin" series, developed subseries within, usually based on a family (The McKenna Legacy), an organization (The Colby Agency) or a location (The Rose Tattoo). The subseries could be written by a single author, as our example today where all 12 volumes in The Rose Tattoo subseries were written by Kelsey Roberts, or multi-author, like the Colby Agency subseries.
Her Mother's Arms combines an adopted heroine looking for her biological mother, a sexy ex-CIA agent, and someone looking to kill the heroine for the truths she may uncover. As with most serial romances the story unrolls quickly and ends predictably but it is a fun ride. Intrigues run to about 250 pages, still well within a single evening's sitting.
Her Mother's Arms is a typical example of the genre and the series. It gets a 4.0 rating on Goodreads. Her Mother's Arms is available on Biblio for as little as $3.97.
Picture is from The Crystalline Aerie blog first posted in 2011.
This time of year is always so busy I find I never have sufficient time to read or write. I do find I spend a lot of time with books, but it is mostly as a buyer or seller, not a consumer or creator. (That said, I hope everyone considers one of my little collections as a buyer! :-) )
However, I encourage everyone, even if you find yourself as I often do - running to decorate, to shop, to wrap, etc. - to find time for the whimsy and the joy in the season. The above picture reminds me of many hours spent as a child and as a parent building "forts" to hide in, to rest in, to create high adventure with. It was great fun!
It is the fun I hope all of us never lose. Take time out, I encourage everyone, to find a little fun every day, whether that is as simple as a cup of hot tea as you watch the wind hurry the leaves across the yard, or you actually hurry the leaves yourself in a great game of tag, take a moment from the "have to get done" to enjoy the "playtime" we all seem to need.
Happy Holidays one and all!
Redding Walters brings a unique, intriguing, and fascinating perspective and story-line to the romance novel.
Even Seahorses are Free traces the love history of Dr. Rebecca Beisonig, through the rather ingenious devices of a long drive up the Pacific Coast with a dead cell phone. As she drives she recounts her past loves and their shortcomings, as well as their high points.
At her destination, she plunges into her work while re-discovering the depth of friendship with other women and fending off the advances of a "young stud" in which she knows she has no interest. In her rediscovery and soul searching she finally comes to terms with the lost love of her life, the value of female friends, and the end of her marriage that was never really fulfilling.
Ms. Walters brings freshness to the novel. Her characters, from the very pregnant Barbie to the aloof Howard, are full and lively. They jump off the page to the point you can almost touch them. The story is both unique in the interplay of environmental science and the livelihoods that are often in conflict and in the love, lust, and conflict of Rebecca.
The energy of the novel starts at a high level and allows the reader to briefly recover before driving to a new peak. Continuing to build as the story progresses with each peak being higher than the last. The ending is both satisfying and not quite how one expects.
Even Seahorses are Free is highly recommended. Available on Amazon in paperback and eBook.
"A provocative...novel of love and divorce among the moderns." it says on the cover. From the blurb on the back: Ward Galvin could not have told you why his marriage was on the rocks. His wife, Myra was still a beautiful woman, desirable to every man - except to himself.
Then he met Trina. Trina Macklyn was the kind of girl even a good man dreams of once.
Vina Delmar was a prolific writer from the 1920s through 1976. She and her husband wrote short stories, plays, and novels. This one was written after her husband died and was the only one of her last ten that was not historical in nature.
Her work is not often read these days but has an average rating on a scattering of reviews on Goodreads of about 4, which is relatively high.
The Breeze from Camelot is available on Biblio for as little as $7.99.
The dining room beyond was another story. Here sat the various members of the clan brought together for the first time in ten years. Most of the chairs in the house had been brought here, with lemonade, finger sandwiches, chips, and iced tea on the dining table. A shabby arrangement of wildflowers still adorned its center.
The quiet small talk faded away when Sarah entered the room and the eyes of each individual swiveled in their way to look in her direction. Some caught her eye, some gazed in her direction, a few saw only her sunflower sandals.
“I want to thank you all for coming, and for granting me the last few minutes to gather my courage.” Sarah’s voice was steady and even. Its lyrical quality presaged what was to come, if anyone had been listening. A tiny crinkle caught her nose as she looked purposely at each of the guests in turn.
“I am dying, as surely from the treatments as from the disease.” She held up her clutch in one hand to stay any dissenting voice.
“I have told Dr. Haberman that I will no longer darken his door. I have always wanted to see the pyramids. My flight leaves the Cities at 6.”
Sam, the most rigid of the nephews burst almost on top of her last syllable, “You can’t!”
“Oh, my dear Sam, I certainly can.”
“But, Grandma,” Janine, the oldest and always most practical, said. “How will you get around?”
Sam, of course, did not stop either, “No! You can’t stop your treatments! Nobody stops!”
Now smiling broadly, seeing the various levels of consternation she had caused, Sarah raised her other hand. The room stilled into respectful silence, Sam fidgeting and suddenly interested in his shoes. Dora, the shy one, clenched and unclenched her fists. Daniel sat as if shot full of botox, not a muscle moving, eyes locked on Sarah.
“Lincoln will come with me. I’ve never sat still for 60 years. I don’t want to die lying on a hospital bed. Look at me!” She paused to give them time to adhere to her demand and caught each of them with her pale blue eyes.
“Life is a gift. Along the way you have all given me gifts that I cherish, that I take with me everywhere I go. And I thank you for every single one. But now I need to take one last path, one more adventure, for me.”
Dora and Daniel nodded. A tear rolled down Tiffany’s face. Jeremy just stood and gave Sarah a hug. Each, in his or her own way, knew this decision was uniquely Sarah. They knew she would be unshakeable in her resolve.
Sam tried once more, halfheartedly, “Will you think about it?”
To which she replied, after Jeremy released her, with a quiet, “No, dear, that’s already been done.”
Janine was now hugging her, whispering, “The Road Less Travelled, Grandma. Enjoy the journey.”
Then came Tiffany, sniffling; Daniel, stoic; and Sam, annoyance still on his face but knowing better than to argue any more. Dora was last.
Dora’s hazel eyes, small and soft, were crystal clear. She looked directly into the depths of Sarah’s eyes and, seeing what she wanted to see, nodded ever so slightly. Dora then wrapped her arms around the older woman and squeezed her tight, like she would never let go.
“You are the bravest, grandma,” she whispered. “And an inspiration. I love you. Have a wonderful trip.”
Then, in an instant, she released her grip and was gone. Sarah stood, alone, in the dining room and smiled to herself. We are all the same, for all our differences. Dora understood completely.
Me as a critic (be careful! the harshness will be well concealed!)