Monthly Archives: September 2011

Scrabble Challenge Entry

Last month I posted a challenge to capture the words from a recently completed scrabble game (the full details can be found here) and then write a story from those words.

Following is the list of words I pulled from a scrabble game to use in a story. Let me tell you that it was the most difficulty I have had in writing anything.

  • Agapeic
  • Airwise
  • Bosk
  • Defat
  • Dual
  • Frogmen
  • Garlic
  • Intrude
  • Jetbead
  • Nertz
  • Spay
  • View
  • Viroid
  • Zone

Click here to go to the story.

Enjoy the read and please enter the challenge.

If you don’t it’ll just be me and while that’s fine, I would like a little participation.

The deadline for the next entry is October 23, 2011.

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Filed under creative writing, scrabble, Writing

From Potters Field

This is I believe is the final entry in what I have come to call the Temple Gault trilogy in the Scarpetta novels by Patricia Cornwell.

Temple Brooks Gault first appeared in Cruel and Unusual where was responsible for killing 4 people and escaped. Gault turned up again by proxy in The Body Farm (my review of that book is here) where he used a young woman, Carrie Grethen, to gain access to a classified FBI program. In From Potters Field Gault continues his murderous rampage by setting his sights on Dr. Scarpetta and her niece, Lucy (who was Carrie’s lover in The Body Farm).

This book follows the FBI’s hunt for Gault from Richmond to New York and seemingly back and forth before his death in the New York subway. What I am most fascinated by in this book is not the title (which again is only tangentially related to the plot at hand) or the main thrust of the plot in finding Gault, but the behavior of the primary characters.

Gault has red hair and vivid blue eyes, can imitate a flawless Northern Italian accent and steals money wired to his mentally-impaired sister (an impairment he caused years earlier by making a horse kick her in the head) before he kills said sister after taking her boots and everything else that he wanted from her. I am only just beginning to write crime stories myself and I’m not sure I would wish to write about someone as innately evil as Gault, but I am still fascinated by his character (which I suppose is why I like watching Criminal Minds).

Lucy went from being a twelve-year-old know-it-all to a lesbian FBI-intern computer genius and considering that these books were written in the mid-90s I’m glad they tackle the difficulty of a lesbian lifestyle, but only as it relates to the character, and not the plot. Lucy’s computer wizardry is instrumental in catching Gault and absolves her from the problems Gault and Grethen caused her in The Body Farm.

Captain Pete Marino comes across as a chauvinist, homophobic bigoted dinosaur but he is a cynical jaded detective who knows what to look for and I find his character just as fascinating. I’ll be giving a more detailed look at Marino’s character in another post.

Scarpetta’s character seemed odd to me in this book. We see her becoming more and more paranoid (understandable considering Gault’s fascination with her) but her fascination with guns seems completely off compared to the previous books. She went from having one gun to enough for a small army. I think Cornwell went too far in portraying Scarpetta’s paranoia.

I actually really enjoyed the book and give it a 7/10.

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Filed under books, reading, Scarpetta

The Body Farm

This is the fifth Kay Scarpetta novel from Patricia Cornwell and I have to wonder at the title. The body farm in Tennessee which one might think was the focus of the novel barely covers two chapters (if that). The rest of the time is spent chasing Temple Brooks Gault, who was the nemesis of the previous book (Cruel and Unusual) and the next book in the series (From Potters Field). In this book, the actual killer has taken hints from Gault’s previous works of depravity and used it to her (that’s right, you read that correctly) advantage.

To give you some background. Kay Scarpetta is the Chief Medical Examiner for the state/Commonwealth of Virginia and is part of a crime solving troika which also includes FBI Special Agent and forensic profiler Benton Wesley, and Richmond PD Homicide detective Peter Marino. Wesley and Marino were part of a local VICAP (Violent Criminals Apprehension Program) initiative and at the end of the previous book Scarpetta became an FBI consultant.

So a body of a little girl turns up in some backwater town in N. Carolina and everyone thinks it’s Gault so they chase their tails for half the book until Scarpetta realizes that nothing fits (especially as Gault’s been seen in London). The local cops drop like flies and Marino gets involved with the dead girl’s mother while Scarpetta and Wesley start to have an affair. To cut a long story short, the killer is the girl’s mother and it appears as though she’s responsible for every death in the town from her husband and daughter to one of the local cops, and tries to kill Scarpetta.

The B plot revolves around Scarpetta’s niece, Lucy, whose mother is children’s author, lousy mother and obnoxious human being that deserves a slap every time she opens her mouth. Lucy is working for the FBI’s research division and supposedly steals sensitive information. The truth is far more sinister: Lucy’s girlfriend is working with Gault to get into the FBI’s worldwide computer database called CAIN and uses Lucy’s thumb print to gain access. The plots dovetail as when the killer mom tries to kill Scarpetta she almost succeeds in killing Lucy instead who’s actually driving the car.

I would give this book a 5/10. It could have been a lot better but it could also have been a lot worse.

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Filed under books, reading, Scarpetta

CSI: Shock Treatment

Shock Treatment is the latest CSI novel from media tie-in author Greg Cox (Star Trek: The Rise and Fall of Khan Noonien Soong, Vols. 1 & 2; CSI: Headhunter) and features a horror-movie-inspired candid camera TV show called Shock Treatment. The A plot focuses on the seemingly innocent murder of an actor on the set of Shock Treatment when the scare goes horribly wrong, but throw in a sex scandal, blackmail and a zombie movie, and it turns out to be a set-up. I’m not a fan of zombies (or vampires, which also make an appearance in the book in the format of a paranormal romance series written by one of the suspects) but this was really well done and the zombies were just part of the scenery.

The B plot centers around a spa that offers snake massages and a venomous snakes ends up in the mix, becoming an innocent victim of the “It’s all my idea, why does she get all the credit?”  story line. This one was more cliched but still enjoyable and although it dragged on for a little while and introduced a few more characters than was strictly necessary (including a guy who seemed to want to be a snake, forked tongue and everything) I believe that the plot is stronger for it.

Overall a solid 8/10. I would have liked a complicated B plot but the A plot was superbly rendered. Another great work from Greg Cox and here’s a free plug for him, his new Star Trek novel, Rings of Time, comes out in January 2012.

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Filed under book review, books, Crime, CSI, Science Fiction, Star Trek

A Choice of Catastrophes

A Choice of Catastrophes by Michael Schuster & Steve Mollmann is the latest standalone Star Trek novel released by Pocket Books. It follows the crew of Kirk’s Enterprise as they are split up on a mission exploring what they believe is a currently uninhabited planet previously scanned by a probe and tagged for a manned follow-up because of ruins on the surface.

Kirk and Spock lead two shuttles to the planet while the Enterprise delivers medical supplies elsewhere and will later join them. The shuttles’ arrival triggers a defense mechanism on the planet designed to keep intruders away and the Enterprise is caught in spatial distortions as it approaches the planet from several light years away.

Without spoiling you too much, the A plot is Kirk’s and Spock’s teams exploring the planet and trying to find out what is causing the distortions, while the B plot focuses on Dr. McCoy trying to figure out why five members of the crew have fallen into comas with no physical cause.

The A plot is interesting and introduces a clever new alien race that I would love to see followed up on at some point in the future, but the B plot is for me, the more interesting of the two. Star Trek: Crucible: Provenance of Shadows by David R. George III is hailed as the definitive McCoy book but this comes a close second. While the former book does a great deal filling in McCoy’s life in two distinct timelines, A Choice of Catastrophes takes us on a journey through McCoy’s mind, as he’s thinking about leaving the Enterprise and having doubts about his abilities as a doctor which manifest through visual and auditory hallucinations (which have a cause of course).

I give this book a solid 9/10. My only quibble being that we did not get to see more of the alien race post-mission, but I guess that’s for another book, maybe.

The next Star Trek book out is the eBook-only Star Trek: Typhon Pact: The Struggle Within by Christopher L. Bennett.

In the meantime, I’m re-reading Christopher’s Star Trek: The Buried Age, a Tale of the Lost Era (which I will post a review of here) and Patricia Cornwell’s fifth Scarpetta novel, The Body Farm.

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The Girl in the Meadow – September Creative Writing Challenge Game

Here is my entry for the September Creative Writing Challenge Game (click the link for the other stories and the October Challenge prompts)

The Girl in the Meadow

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Filed under Bluebonnet County, creative writing, Creative Writing Challenge Game, Crime, Writing, Writing Competition