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Edward Hahn has commented on (139) products.

A Moorland Hanging (Medieval West Country Mystery) by Michael Jecks
A Moorland Hanging (Medieval West Country Mystery)

Edward Hahn, January 22, 2015

I stumbled on to this series and this, the third in the series, is the second one I've read. Jecks does a great job of setting the scene. He's obviously done his research. As a result it's easy to connect with the characters and their assumptions, concerns, and devotion to duty. The major protagonists in the series, Bailiff Simon Puttock and Templar Knight Sir Baldwin Furnshil seem to exemplify what was good about medieval society.

The background of this story lies in the tension between landowners and tin miners who were under special protection of the King because of the taxes they paid. They could run their own affairs with their own courts, prevent the use of particular pieces of land for farming by binding areas as a place where tin was mined, even divert water. These priveleges could be and often were used to terrorize the landowners.

The plot is developed from the hanging of a villein (serf), Peter Bruther, turned miner on the moor. His previous masters, the Beaucyr family are suspect after confronting Bruther and the miners' leader Thomas Smyth. As Puttock and Sir Baldwin try to solve the murder, events begin to escalate to a major incident. The process of sorting out all the threads to identify the murderer carries the reader to a satisfying conclusion.

While there are sections of the novel that drag, on the other hand, I did learn a lot about the workings of the medieval legal system. I recommend this book, unreservedly.
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Raylan by Elmore Leonard

Edward Hahn, January 14, 2015

I managed to finish this book in 72 hours which is an indication of how good I think it is. I have read almost everything Elmore Leonard has written except his early Western stories. I am also a big fan of the TV program "Justified" which follows Raylan Givens as he deals with his re-assignment to a small office in his home county of Kentucky. This collection of what is basically three stories pulled together and somewhat intertwined is a result of the popularity of "Justified".

The three plots involve organ trafficking, bank robbing girls and a poker playing genius. Running through the three major plots are some of my favorite characters Pervis Crowe, marijuana growing grandfather, Boyd Crowder, charming "ne'er do well", Art Mullen, Raylans boss, and others.

Somehow Leonard manages to pull the whole thing together with his incredible ability to make almost unbelievable characters believable. The plot is always interesting but secondary to the characters and the dialogue. For me these same elements are what makes the TV show so appealing.

There are no deeper meanings here except perhaps that Raylan, simplifies the tension between good and evil with his willingness to shoot bad guys or girls. I got what I wanted from this book, a quick read and entertaining, book with a dollop of humor, a lot of action and great dialogue. I recommend it for anyone who wants a break from serious literature.
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Stolen Prey by John Sandford
Stolen Prey

Edward Hahn, January 9, 2015

I never miss a John Sandford novel, Davenport, Flowers, even Kidd. This one was terrific and I was up until 2:00 AM so I could finish it.

In this, Davenport entry, the main plot starts out with a massacre of the Brooks family of four including rape and torture. Lucas, still with the Minnesota State Bureau of Criminal Apprehension only works high-profile or politically sensitive cases. He gets involved here assisting the investigator assigned to the case, Bob Shaffer. It soon is clear that the case includes a complicated money-laundering scheme involving a Mexican drug cartel, Los Criminales. Eventually the investigation brings in the DEA, a couple Federales from Mexico, and assorted local cops as the perpetrators continue to torture and murder trying to locate the missing money, $22 Million.

Also, early in the story, Lucas is a victim of an ATM mugging, losing $500 and having his wrist broken in the robbery. Throughout the book, he continues to work to identify the two tweakers who robbed him. He puts Virgil Flowers on the case because he's busy with the murder investigation.

In the midst of all of this he tries to live a relatively normal life with his family, surgeon wife, Weather adopted adolescent daughter Letty, two year old Sam and an infant daughter. He spends time bonding with Letty by taking her to the shooting range with him and otherwise spending time as she tries to sort out her future.

As is true of most of Sandford's offerings there is quite a bit of additional violence but eventually both cases get closed, both with surprising results and shootouts. There is a revealing epilogue, not identified as such, in which the psychological damage or lack thereof in shooting bad guys is explored.

This book is as good as any of the previous 21 volumes in the Prey series and I highly recommend it.
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Dangerous Fortune by Ken Follett
Dangerous Fortune

Edward Hahn, January 5, 2015

While I can't say Follett's historical novels are predictable, they do follow a certain pattern. The protagonists, both male and female, usually overcome huge barriers to triumph in the end. The villains almost always end up getting what they deserve except when they somehow rehabilitate themselves.

The story takes place in Victorian England opening in 1866 and ending in 1892. In this case the male hero, Hugh Pilaster, is put down by his banking family because his father took his capital out of the bank to start a business which failed leading to the father's suicide. The primary female character is Maisie Robinson, the child of Russian immigrants who leaves home at age 12 to make her own way. The major male villain, Mickey Miranda, is a South American fortune hunter and master manipulator. Augusta Pilaster is the evil matron who does her best to destroy those she dislikes in the service of putting both her husband, Joseph, and her son, Edward, ahead of others.

These four characters provide the impetus for the plot line as each go about doing what they do. It is difficult to say what it is that is so appealing about Follett's stories but nevertheless, I had a hard time putting this one down, finishing it at 2 AM. There is also a good amount of violence and sex both of which serve to keep the story interesting. I also realize that Follett does a very good job of capturing the times he is writing about especially the attitudes of his characters.

My biggest disappointment was that the ending seem to be rushed and lacked the delicious detail Follett is so good at providing. Still, all ended well and I enjoyed the book immensely. I recommend it highly to both Follett fans and those who will be encountering him for the first time.
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Burnt Sienna by David Morrell
Burnt Sienna

Edward Hahn, December 30, 2014

Reading a David Morrell novel is like going to an action movie. If you want a complicated, realistic plot, you've gone to the wrong movie. If you want strong, principled, admirable men, beautiful women and unremittingly evil villains, wrapped up with fast moving action, you've come to the right place.

The protagonist here is Chase Malone, a former Marine and helicopter pilot who has secluded himself in Baja Mexico to paint, mostly landscapes. He is offered a commission to do a portrait of the current wife of a reclusive tycoon, an evil arms dealer named Bellasar. Chase rejects the offer but is harassed and has his life torn up. Soon after, he is approached by an ex-marine colleague, Jeb, and asked to take the offer, infiltrate Bellasar's operation and save Bellasar's wife, Sienna, from the same fate suffered by Bellasar's previous three wives. Malone accepts hoping to get revenge for his mistreatment by Bellasar's minion, Potter.

The story unfolds from there and while predictable is also developed in interesting ways. In an exciting conclusion, Morrell ties up all the loose ends and then provides a surprisingly poignant epilogue. The characters behave as expected and there are some over the top events but over-all, it is an enjoyable, easy read. I recommend it, especially for long plane rides or as a beach vacation activity.
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