Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Threads of Malice and Valley of the Soul by Tamara Siler Jones

My plan was to profile each book separately, but these two are tied both by the author and the story. Even more, there's an interesting progression here. My involvement started with the first book in the series and I wrote comments about it here:

Threads of Malice by Tamara Siler Jones

(Acquired: bookstore)

I didn't write any notes on this book when I finished it because I read Threads of Malice during my crazy summer. Because of that, I don't have a lot of grand specifics and so I'm posting this note with the review of Valley of the Soul. Threads had all the elements I love in Tamara Siler Jones' writing with the characters I've enjoyed before growing and changing perspectives. It really pulls at the heartstrings and makes you aware no one is exempt from the troubles in this world. Since I've been following the progress of the seeding aspects of the mystery, I will say I found this book better seeded, though still not there yet for me. I felt neither the glance back and that makes sense nor that I really knew the answer when the killer was revealed, but I felt closer to knowing the answer if that makes sense in comparison to Ghosts in the Snow. The details of the world and the depth of the characters is what draws me to her writing though and those remained strong. The level of detail can be a bit intense, but I never felt it diminished the story. I'll admit I don't know if that level of sheer gross out is necessary, but then at the same time I watch CSI so maybe I'm not the best judge. Whatever you think about the graphic violence, the story is strong and compelling. If you have the stomach, go for it. I don't think you'll be disappointed.

Valley of the Soul by Tamara Siler Jones

(Acquired: blog contest on by Jean Schara)

In Valley of the Soul, everything that I've liked about the previous two books was there, and every quibble I had with the previous two books is gone. This novel brings Tamara Siler Jones' talents to fruition with engaging characters, a compelling story line, her normal dash of gore (though maybe not in as much detail as usual), and the story seeds to pull me through the mystery. I've learned a lot about myself as a reader because Tamara challenged my statement about the very first book that it wasn't seeded well enough in the beginning. Usually I am a reader first and an analyst second, if at all. In the discussions regarding Ghosts in the Snow, though, I had to articulate and understand just what I look for in a book, specifically, what elements are there to involve me in the mystery and pull me along. I have to play the detective role, for example. I'm not one who can simply watch a mystery unfold and ooh and aah. And interestingly, I don't have to have the right clues; I just have to see things that have the potential to be clues. I'm a magpie looking for the bright shineys and when they're not there, I'm disappointed. But if I can collect a little pile of might-be-somethings, I'm pulled along in the search to prove which, if any, actually are something. I'll admit my accuracy is quite high, but that's because I'm a slow, detailed reader. I'll pick up clues the author doesn't even realize she dropped. Which is why when I don't see them, I really don't see them :).

Now enough about me, back to the book. I can't say much about this novel in specific without spoiling something, so for those of you who haven't read it yet, I'll refrain. What I will say is that the personal relationships and the grounded culture persist in this volume. You learn more about the characters' lives, their present and their past, while watching those same relationships mature and change. Dubric has his own monsters to face when trying to give himself permission to live again while Dien is torn between his duties and being a father. Lars and Jess continue their tale as well, with some interesting twists, and you'll get to visit with many other characters you've met in the previous books and, I hope, enjoyed as much as I did. Seriously, I found much to like in the first two, with a few rough edges that got more rounded with each book. Everything comes together in Valley of the Soul and would put Tamara on my always read list if she wasn't there already. Though this book has a lot that relates back to the earlier ones, I think it reads even as a stand alone. If you haven't tried Tamara Siler Jones, pick up Valley of the Soul. You won't be disappointed.

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