Friday, June 27, 2014

Silence... of the Lambs

I am still working on the right words to express how I felt after recently reading Thomas Harris’s The Silence of the Lambs. I am quick to say that I enjoyed it, no doubt. It kind of threw me back to those early days of dark Kay Scarpetta thrillers surrounding subjects of disturbed killers, forensic-filled tête-à-tête, and visits to Quantico for some good old-fashioned F.B.I. training. That’s my immediate thought anyway, knowing that this book pre-dates Patricia Cornwell’s series by a few good years within the late 80s rolling into the 90s. Nevertheless, that was the tone that kind of waved over my reading experience, while won by Harris’s own lure into twisted psychological darkness, guided by his bright protagonist, Clarice Starling.  

If you don't know what The Silence of the Lambs is about, I'll quickly attempt to summarize it just for flavor. A serial killer with the nickname Buffalo Bill spends his days and nights tramping around the country for a particular type of woman to metamorphosize his inner desire.  With at least six kills underneath his belt, he remains unsuccessful in his ruinous venture.  So Buffalo Bill keeps going.  The F.B.I. has yet to determine his precise motive, even as they uncover the filet and scared remnants of his victims scattered patternlessly (or so it seems) across the country.  Establishing his motive could lead to the F.B.I. anticipating Buffalo Bill's next move; therefore, it's a delicate form of investigation, that seems to require a simmered approach to this particular killer's apprehension. 

So who does the Chief of the Bureau’s Behavioral Science, Jack Crawford, call upon to help find an edge in this investigation? A young trainee (second in her class) named Clarice Starling.  Crawford’s assignment for Clarice boils down to an interview with a gifted psychiatrist—and macabre, cannibalistic killer—named Dr. Hannibal Lecter. Tucked deep within the bowels of the Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane resides Lecter, locked away for eight years preceding his crimes featured in another one of Harris's books.  In a pair of intimate interview sessions, Clarice sits to gather the criminally intelligent insight and enigmatic clues behind Buffalo Bill‘s motivation--via Lecter's stealthy conversational webs. In turn, through the examination of Lecter’s razor-sharp psychiatry, Clarice (but mostly the reader) learns the meaning behind the silencing of the lambs.

Monday, June 23, 2014

The Gold Fleur

Hi, everyone.  Blogger has been acting a straight fool lately and I've been impatient with it.  I don't know what the issue is, but nothing’s loading properly--including this new blog post on my latest drawing.  Nonetheless, I think I'm there.  I think it’s doing its job, and now it’s time to share my process again through a series of images.

I've named this image Fleur.  The character’s name is still unavailable to me.

I sketched the actual drawing probably three months ago and just left it, for some reason. Therefore, I don’t have the penciled version. Nonetheless, as of recently, I went through the process of inking the drawing and adding all the particular areas that would require shading/shadows regarding the flesh (I use Copic markers for this). Besides using the usual colored pencils to add tones to the eyes, I also used a screen/pattern early within the process as the backdrop. Because the process only gets messier, I try to have this construction part out of the way as early as possible. Anyway, at first I meant to apply the screen/pattern as the shirt, and then realized there wasn’t enough paper. I like it better as a backdrop, though. So having carefully carved out the negative space, I added it on as needed.

Now on to the colors. Water coloring is always my base of choice because it’s light and covers space quick and easily. Because I decided his shirt would be yellow—in semi-accordance with the gold fleur de lis within the backdrop—I painted it a light yellow. Just as his hair would be brown, I gave it a light-brown color. However, as seen, I covered the hair with a dust of brown-toned chalk pastels before I applied the yellow chalk to his shirt. I’m all about layers. Get the base color, and then add more and more colors!

Because I like layers, I try to add the darkest color first when it comes to chalk pastels. Why? Because it can get messy. Adding the dark color first allows me to clean up the edges before applying lighter colors. As seen in this image, I added a yellow chalk pastel to his shirt as well as a flesh color to his skin tone. As for the hair, it was time for a layer of colored pencils toned and streaked through his hair to give it vibrancy (I eventually use a tissue to blend the three mediums that layers the hair). Furthermore, I used wooden beads and brown string to craft the drawstring area of his shirt. As for his undershirt, I applied a ragged piece of actual denim to give it form.

Almost finished. I streaked his hair with a gum eraser as a form of highlights, and then gave sparks (an actual whiteout pen) and further flourishes to his eyes and the glisten of his lips. On the crafting aspect, I used more string to construct him gently gripping a necklace consisting of bejeweling stickers, and a gold cross sticker. I went through several designs of the cross from what I had available before I decided to stick with a gold one. This cross, in particular, matches his earrings, which are also stickers taken from the same batch.

The final part. Immediately, after I scan a drawing, I revive its color in PhotoFiltre. Hey, it’s all I got. The reason I do so is because digital images come out differently than the original. So I found it best to give some digital brilliance to the colors. Nevertheless, because the image is further decreased to portrait size, I also made corrections and adjustments. One of those corrects were to brush a matching brown color over the wooden beads that makes up the drawstring of his shirt. This was to cover the dry crafts glue peeking out. Other adjustments called because certain aspects tugged at me. Like his lips. I brushed over the glisten I originally intended, deciding it looked best without. I also touched up the glisten in his eyes by applying a softer gray over them to bring down the brilliance. Sometimes you have to make little adjustments as the digital image always looks differently than the actual one. A little clean up in an otherwise never-perfect drawing.

I have about four other images I’ll be sending off before turning them into journals and other items on my Zazzle shop, this one included. Until then, let’s come up with a name for him.

I sometimes get message from people asking me what inspires me to draw in this style.  Then there are some who pinpoint it right away.  In any regard, I idolize Naoko Takeuchi (Sailor Moon) and Miwa Ueda (Peach Girl) and their shojo manga drawings.  I love the youthfulness, softness, and simplicity of shojo-themed drawings.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Free Stuff from Tasha's Touch

My wonderful friend Tasha at Tasha's Touch just provided with me two awesome items from her natural jewelry shop. I got to choose the pieces and am in love with them both, fueled by my desire to surround myself with things that evoke positive changes in my life. Considering I love the topic of spirituality and metaphysics—as seen in some of my previous posts—I decided to share the two items that I got here. As well as spread the word on Tasha's site that I hope you would check it out for some of your healing needs.

Honestly, I'm not too familiar with these two items, specifically. Underneath a shallow gaze, I chose them because they caught my eye. That's not to say that isn't an unconscious way of guiding ourselves to what we may need or require to fulfill ourselves as we take that next step toward change. Nevertheless, I've since come to learn a little about the two, particularly the witch's ladder and the spiritual properties contained in a chunk of turquoise.

According to a blog called Pagan Magpies, "...witches ladders are a string of beads used as an aid in meditation, a tool in counting chants, prayers etc and have different number of beads on them, these beads are laid out in 'sets' similar to the Christian rosary beads (10 in a row for Hail Mary prayer then 1 set aside from the row (usually by a space) for the Our Father prayer on the Christian rosary for example.) They can be customized with different colour beads, crystals or size of bead so are a very versatile tool. Often called Pagan Rosary, Witches Prayer Beads, Beaded Witches Ladders, Witch's Ladders and very many more terms!"

I can't say that I'll end up using it as such, and I hardly think I'm knowledgeable enough on the subject to even attempt to.  At least it would take more research, before I develop a direction.  Nevertheless, I think this witch's ladder is beautiful.  In the image I wrapped it around my selenite wand, which is used for clarity.

Now, according to Tasha's Touch, "...turquoise is a huge chunk of healing that helps with, purification. It dispels negative energy and can be worn to protect against outside influences or pollutants in the atmosphere. Turquoise balances and aligns all the chakras, stabilizing mood swings and instilling inner calm. It is excellent for depression and exhaustion, it also has the power to prevent panic attacks. Turquoise promotes self-realisation and assists creative problem solving. It is a symbol of friendship, and stimulates romantic love.

Turquoise aids in the absorption of nutrients, enhances the immune system, stimulates the regeneration of tissue, and heals the whole body. It contains anti-inflammatory and detoxifying effects, and alleviates cramps and pain. Turquoise purifies lungs, soothes and clears sore throats, and heals the eyes, including cataracts. It neutralizes over acidity, benefits rheumatism, gout, stomach problems, and viral infections."

Considering the witch's ladder is made with turquoise, it looks like a total metaphysical win.  Anyway, that's all that I have to share today.  This was a wonderful gift from Tasha and I really appreciate it.

Connect with Tasha and get your healing jewelry

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

[1] Cameron's Walking in this World

Listen, as I read Julia Cameron’s Walking in this World, I am jumping up out of bed with inspiration.  Trying to close and lock away the awaiting 5am alarm for the beginnings of a 6am shift, I put down the book at 11:11pm, cracked open my drawing tools, booted up my computer, and decided to do a little work.  I managed to ink a picture I sketched two months ago, and I've come to jot down the draft to this post as I work on another post’s draft, as well as put a couple of words to that book I’ve been not-so writing.  Why the sudden burst of inspiration so late at night?  Because of a few encouraging passages in the book woke my creative spirit.  And most certainly in divine order.  So I want to share these first few passages with you.  They're just quick and immediate jot-downs that, while the book is too enormous to contain, I wanted to make a purpose of documenting for my future self as well as you.  I hope they fire up your creative spirit as well.  Let’s go!

“Walking in this world, we do not go unpartnered.  We do not speak our prayers unheard.  There is someone or something listening with the most tender of hearts.  As we open to our inner life, our outer life also shifts.  Lives are transformed by a gentle form of listening that is like walking with a cherished friend who listens and then says, “You might want to try X.  Oh, look at that great squirrel…”

“As we go within, we discover that we are not alone there.  The loneliness we fear finding in art is actually the loneliness of disconnecting ourselves from our creativity and our creator.  As we try our hand literally at the making of something, we do meet our maker.  As we try to make more and more, more and more is made of us and through us.  'Not I, but the Father doeth the work.'”

“Begin where you are, with who you are.  In order to go where you want to go creatively, you have to start somewhere.  And the best place to start is precisely where you are.  This is true whether you are a beginning artist or someone with long miles down the track.  In fact, seasoned artist can waste time and energy mulling the dignity of their acquired position in the field when the truth is, they still need to just start again.”

“Five minutes might lead to ten, just as a tentative embrace leads to something more passionate.  Making art is making love with life.  We open ourselves to art as to love.”

“A small beginning is exactly that: a beginning.  Rather than focus on large jumps--which may strike us as terrifying and unjumpable--we do better to focus on the first small step, and then the next small step after that.”

“One day you just have to start and what you do that day is the beginning of success or failure.”

“Creativity is inspiration coupled with initiative.  It is an act of faith and, in that phrase, the word 'act' looms as large as the 'faith' that it requires.”

“When we do not act in the direction of our dreams, we are only 'dreaming.'  Dreams have a will-o’-the-wisp quality.  Dreams coupled with the firm intention to manifest them take on a steely reality.  Our dreams come true when we are true to theme.”

Let these words encourage you today, just as they have done for me.  Whether it’s to create something you've been pondering upon, or to simply step out in faith toward something that you desire to manifest in life.  Do it.  Wake yourself up and take that step.

Monday, June 9, 2014

What to Read Next Issues...

I finished Stephen King's Mr. Mercedes before noon today. Once finished, I spent an afternoon racing through Kroger with my aunt. We were buying groceries for my grandma, and had our asses out of that place in less than forty-five minutes.  I'm not a fan of grocery shopping.  Swerving carts, comparing off-brand from popular brands, calculating budgets; I rather do without all that fuss, though I know it's necessary if you want to eat.  

Okay, okay. I'm getting off track. This post is about books!

Anyway, after that was finished, I did something I haven't done in awhile: I visited the three used bookstores in my area. My immediate focus was to use a credit slip to buy Laurell K. Hamilton's new, ninth book in her Merry Gentry book, Shiver of Light. That's right. You read me correctly. Laurell K. Hamilton. Merry Gentry. I'm such a hack sometimes, feeding myself foolishly with both of this author's insufferable series. But see, it's hard for a completionist--such as myself--to walk away.  By the way, I didn't find it.  However, here's what's going on...

Bought 5/3/10 and never read
According to my receipt, I bought book eight in the Merry Gentry series, Divine Misdemeanors, from a used bookstore on 5/03/10. And I have yet to crack open the book! Seriously, it's been sitting on my shelf for that many years unread.  So now that the ninth book has recently released, after a five-year series hiatus, book eight is suddenly calling me. Seemingly... from the grave I should add. And so I hate this. I hate having to finish things! Especially concerning this series—this author! The truth is that without even reading it, I can review this book blindfolded without missing a beat.  How?  Because there's a 101% chance that there isn't a plot to construct a review with. I know this! I know this stuff for facts! Yet! I've held on to the book with the intention of one day plowing through it with a bottle of Vodka at my bedside to wash each wasted, printed word down. 

My fingers are itching to verbally bodyslam the book before I've read it. Can't you tell?

So that's part of my conundrum. As painful and insipid as it sounds. I know I should just do away with the whole idea and put the sonofabitch back on the shelf where it belongs. However, Shiver of Light is out there, and here I am with an incomplete series.  Grrrr!

It's especially hard when I have a stack of great books I just received from The BookOutlet. We're talking books by Nnedi Okorafor (an African-American female sci-fi writer the likes of Octavia Butler); P.D. James's first book in her Adam Dalgliesh mystery series; the biography of Madam Chiang Kai-Shek; and The Book of Night Women by Jamaican novelist, Marlon James. So I have books I can and want to read. They are definitely there calling out.

Back to the bookstore tour from today. I walked out with Julia Cameron's Walking in this World, the sequel to her highly inspirational book, The Artist's Way. I even snagged something off my Amazon Wishlist in Martha Grimes's crime fiction novel, Hotel Paradise. Then there's the third book in Barbara Neely's Blanche White mystery series. If you don't know what that series is about, it's about an African-American domestic worker who solves mysteries.  Which, of course, is right up my alley!

I have books to read. Better books. Greater books. And it's equally disturbing that I want to follow a Stephen King novel with a book about a faerie princess who whines about sex from a team of faire men with peas for brains.

Ah, the frustration.

I want to crack open a new book tonight, but I think I'll play some form of Resident Evil and figure this out in the morning.


On page 4 of Divine Misdemeanors comes this halting--yet familiarly expressed--form of thought:

"Detective Lucy Tate came to stand beside me.  She was wearing a pants suit complete with jacket and a white button-up shirt that strained a little across the front because Lucy, like me, had too much figure for most button-up shirts.  But I wasn't a police detective so I didn't have to pretend I was a man to try to fit in."

Yep!  Totally called it quits!  We're quickly back to focusing on body image and women in law enforcement again.  Something like a resident leitmotif in both Hamilton's Anita Blake and Merry Gentry series--among other tired conversations.  We'll put this book away until I have absolutely nothing else to read.

Pardon the rant!  But what do you do when you're trying to find out what you want to read next?  Top that by asking yourself what series do you loathe but find yourself unable to turn away with each new release?  Share your thoughts below.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Friday Reads: Mr. Mercedes

"In the predawn hours, in a distressed American city, hundreds of unemployed men and women line up for the opening of a job fair.  They are tired and cold and desperate.  Emerging from the fog, invisible until it is too late, a long driver plows through the crowd in a stolen Mercedes, running over innocent, backing up, and charging again.  Eight people are killed; fifteen are wounded.  The killer escapes.

Months later, an ex-cop named Bill Hodges, still haunted by the unsolved crime, contemplates suicide.  When he gets a crazed letter from "the perk," claiming credit for the murders, Hodges wakes up from his depressed and vacant retirement, fearing another even more diabolical attack and hell-bent on preventing it.

Brady Hartfield lives with his alcoholic mother in the house where he was born.  He loved the feel of death under the wheels of the Mercedes, and he wants that rush again.  Only Bill Hodges, with a couple of eccentric and mismatched allies, can apprehend the killer before he strikes again.  And they have no time to lose, because Brady's next mission, if it succeeds, will kill or maim thousands.

Mr. Mercedes is a war between good and evil, from the master of suspense whose insight into the mind of his obsessed, insane killer is chilling and unforgettable."

~ Mr. Mercedes blurb

It's storming again today, so thankfully I picked this book up yesterday and have all day to listen to the rain and read.  Somewhat of a perfect setting, considering we are talking about Stephen King.  Nonetheless, I'm going into this without any expectations, other than I trust King will deliver me something enjoyable and psychotically delicious.  With a cast of dedicated, heroic-style characters, I should add.  So time to open up the window, turn up the blanket, and start diving into Mr. Mercedes.  Stay tuned for my final thoughts.

Have you read Mr. Mercedes?  Without spoiling anything, what did you think of it?  1-5 stars, where does it gauge?

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Not So Plaid. Much Too Dull

“Elegant, porcelain-skinned Genna Jing is sure her latest designs are worth a fortune.  That’s why she is willing to pay the fifty grand being demanded by the person who stole her design book.  But when Lydia--backed by her partner Bill Smith--makes the drop, everything goes wrong.  Soon a simple case of high-fashion extortion leads Lydia and Bill from Chinatown to Park Avenue, and from murder to more money: a million dollars in exchange for a missing man’s life…”
~ Mandarin Plaid blurb

Final Thoughts in a Flash!

You know, it’s funny that I put up a fuss two years ago, surprised by how the second book in the Lydia Chin/Bill Smith hard-boiled private eye series, Concourse, featured a narrative strictly from Bill’s first-person view.  See, after the first book, China Trade, I wanted Lydia back; and there was no wrestling me away from that wish.  Nonetheless, it took me two years to get over the fact that S. J. Rozan takes her two private eyes and exchange their narratives book by book.  So I was swollen with the ignorant expectation that Concourse would be filled with a bunch of masculine bull and cock; Bill Smith smoking cigarettes and acting like an ass to women and men alike.  Ironically, he did most of all of that in which I just mentioned--but ever so subtle and charismatically done.  I was afraid that Bill Smith would come across as some type of trope-like private eye.  However, after reading the actual book, I came to realize that he had some of those apprehensive characteristics, but with the addition of multi-dimensional layers used to illustrate who he really was.  So in essence, I liked Bill.  Concourse was not only better than the first book in the series, but it was probably one of the better mysteries that I’ve read in a hot minute.

Really.  I was surprised and angered at myself for taking two years to give Bill the chance he deserved.

So two months later here I am with Mandarin Plaid, finding myself bored to tears sweeping my way through a dull, pedestrian-level mystery.  Additionally, through a narrative that just really isn’t all that captivating.  Or at least isn’t as interesting as Bill.  So yes.  I’ve finally stated how wrong and shallow I am to think that Lydia Chin’s voice/books within the series would be superior to Bill’s.  I was sure that the reason I picked up this series was because, as a Chinese-American woman, Lydia would shower me with diversity and a unique narrative angle in the mystery genre.  And she did.  To be completely fair.  Just that in the end, it wasn't all that amazing in Mandarin Plaid.  I put most of the blame on how I felt like Rozan didn't give Lydia a story as thrilling, gritty, or even challenging like she gave Bill in Concourse.  As I mentioned earlier in the post, Mandarin Plaid was quite pedestrian, and if there was one thrilling part in the entire book, it was during a moment where Lydia had to defend herself from a veiled attacker.  Which I might add was rather easy to deduct, concerning who was behind the mask.

That’s not to say that Mandarin Plaid didn't have its good parts.  It had its plot twist and turns and somewhat of a sue flay rising mystery.  However, the better parts were the nuggets of race and sexual orientation conversations built between certain side characters.  Like a wealthy mother willing to pull out all the stops to keep her son from a relationship with a Chinese-American fashion designer.  Most emphasis on the fact that she's Chinese and, therefore, labeled a "gold-digger" by the mother.  Also, Lydia’s gay brother, Andrew, and his partner takes root within the context of the mystery with all stereotypes thankfully removed.  And I always enjoy Lydia’s tryst with her Chinese mother, who berates Lydia with Chinese proverbs and warnings related to both Lydia’s lackluster love life and profession as a P.I.  Things like that are always sweet.  But the thrill in this book was left severely wanting.

Nevertheless, S. J. Rozan’s tight use of language remains in place, with the exception of a few moments in the dialogue where characters consistently shouted “what” to one another after receiving information related to the mystery.

Just a dull read in the long run.  As I said, the case Rozan employed on Lydia was mediocre.  Perhaps that has a lot to do with Lydia's new found profession as a private eye.  Maybe it has to do with her partner's masculinity "deserving" of more challenging cases.  It doesn't matter, though.  I will be back for book four.  Hiccups in a series are always allowed.  And I trust that Lydia will shine brighter in the future.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Paretsky's Orders

A startling event happened after reading the third book in Sara Paretsky’s V. I. Warshawski hard-boiled P.I. series--I wasn't overwhelmed by her normally convoluted mystery set up.  This go-round it revolved around stock certificates and thoughtful correlations between the Chicago mob and the Catholic church.  However, let me push aside the latter two to focus on the stock certificates ingredient.  Oh, and how that mixed into stock shares, securities, bond markets, and other sprinkled financial components.  While I am exaggerating, I do have to say that the subject matter in Killing Orders was handled a lot less intricately than the subjects of Paretsky’s previous two offerings, which entertained insurance fraud [Indemnity Only] the Chicago shipping industry [Deadlock].  Some may get what Paretsky is laying down the first time, but for me, I had to study the topics her P.I. delved into to understand and follow what’s unfolding in her books.  Especially because her topics pertain so closely to her murder mystery.  Luckily, Killing Orders was the easiest of the three to follow.

It all began when St. Albert’s Priory decided to retrieve their stock certificates to cash in for a new roof.  Unfortunately, those stock certificates turned out as fakes.  So naturally, the church’s treasurer member is taken to task.  Said treasurer happens to be V. I. Warshawski’s nasty, venom-dribbling great-aunt, Rosa.  And she's a woman who has held a grudge worth a millennium against V. I.--or specifically, V.I.’s mother Gabriella.  Nevertheless, as the treasurer of St. Albert’s Priory, Rosa finds herself under investigation by the FBI and SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) on suspicions of exchanging the church’s real stock certificates for counterfeits.  Acknowledging how somber her situation is, the bitter, grudge-soaked Rosa swallows a wedge of her pride and sends for her niece.  Thankfully, her niece happens to be Chicago’s hot-shot female P.I., V.I. Warshawski.  And this shit only gets better!

So, sworn by her dying mother to always, always look after her aunt should she need help, V. I. takes on her aunt Rosa as a client.  Almost regrettably, it turns out that Rosa’s situation is anything but undemanding.  The further V.I. uncovers the truth behind the counterfeit stock certificates, the further the stakes are raised in her direction.  And when an odd phone call threatens to throw acid in V.I.’s eyes, the case becomes very personal.  V. I. calculates how the Chicago mob and the Catholic church are two potent institutions hosting a number of potential aggressors to their individual causes.  Therefore, she quickly learns to traverse around their deadly paths, while uncovering deep family secrets and some of the finer examples of greed and murder by desperation.

Easily a five-star read!  I have to tell you, I couldn't put this book down.  Out of the three I've read so far in this series, Killing Orders is my favorite!  And I should also add that I think I'm finally won on V. I. Warshawski.  However, to be totally honest, I had the intention of cramming her down my throat until I did like her enough.  Therefore, while I've always delighted in V.I.’s ability to shoot a gun and kick ass, it finally dawned on me in Killing Orders exactly how vulnerable and human V.I. actually is.  Much to my complete and utter satisfaction.  

First let’s do away with her appealing ability to make many bad decisions and mistakes, as well as the spring of curse words she has in her arsenal (confrontational scenes are one of my favorites in P.I. novels because of this).  Instead, I stress her vulnerability in light of how this book dedicated itself to illuminating pieces of V. I.’s family history to help develop her as a multi-dimensional character, and not just a woman on a mission.  

You would think that because V.I.'s parents have long passed that there is only room for a solitary, one-note existence contained by her profession as a private investigator.  However, she actually has stand-ins for a mother and father who save her from the miffed, cynical woman she could've become.  Her “mother” is a Viennese physician named Lotty.  And her “father” is a police officer named Bobby Mallory, who worked alongside V. I.’s actual father on the Chicago police force.  Both Lotty and Mallory devoted themselves to V.I.’s well-being, as evident in Killing Orders by their ability to see beyond V.I. herself.  They were the characters who wholly disagreed, argued, and fought with her and her lifestyle as a P.I.  They drew her riling mind in with reason and force, determined to appeal against her magnetism for danger.  All that can be considered when V.I.’s actual blood relative, Rosa, rather have no relationship with her because of her decades old grudge with V.I.’s mother (the same can be said for V.I. who rather not have a relationship with Rosa either).  Added to the fact that Rosa drew V.I. into danger, as opposed to against it.  And even more of an addition, Rosa was a thoroughly religious woman, but could not practice forgiveness for a wrong V.I. didn't even commit.  One thing I can say is that Rosa and V. I. are alike in both their fire and stubbornness.  But thankfully that's about the sum of their connection.

Readers may not recognize this, but there’s a difference between plot and story.  Plot is all that the character does.  Story is all that a character becomes by the end of the novel.  Killing Orders did each of these so, tense, stylishly, and balanced that even I wanted to cry for V.I. toward the end.

A must read if you love hard-boiled detective fiction! 

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