Danielle Hanna

Hearth & Homicide Fiction

Category: Book Reviews (page 1 of 2)

Book Review: Bonnie Prince Charlie

2015-07-27 Bonnie Prince Charlie, Carolly EricksonBiography 

Bonnie Prince Charlie: A Biography by Carolly Erickson

No doubt you’ve heard the name, maybe even heard the songs and lore, but who was the Bonnie Prince who tried to win the throne of Great Britain?

The son of an exiled claimant to the throne, young Charles Edward Stuart arrived on the shores of Scotland with only a handful of close companions and no troops. The Highland chiefs were initially unimpressed. But when young Charles declared his determination to march on Edinburgh and London with or without their help, they realized this was a prince they could fight for.

What followed was one of the most dare-devil military campaigns in history. Charles and his Highland army blazed across Scotland and England, defeating superior Redcoat armies with nothing but surprise and determination. They were within sight of London when Charles’ advisers convinced him that this victory would not be so certain, and they turned back to try again the following spring. It proved a costly mistake.

2015-05-06 Thistle

I was particularly interested to read this book – or any book on Bonnie Prince Charlie – since those events of 1745 form the backdrop to my all-time favorite book, Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson. In addition to filling in the gaps in my knowledge, this volume by Carolly Erickson proved a thoroughly engaging read.

Far from a dry history lesson, Erickson has a remarkable ability to paint the canvas of the life and times of Prince Charles. Her prose is thoroughly engaging. Yet the entire tale is thoroughly grounded in original documents and letters.

She also extended the story beyond the flash-bang excitement of “The ’45” to include the late-life disappointments of the aging Prince, who would later insist on the title “King Charles III,” but could never claim it.  As a fatherless daughter, I was particularly touched to learn that when his life had spiraled to its lowest, the last ray of sunshine that brought his life out of misery came from his only child, his daughter Charlotte.

2015-07-27 KiltErickson’s biography was the perfect place for me to begin exploring the backdrop to my favorite novel. The parallels between the Prince’s adventures and those of the non-royal main characters in Kidnapped made me wonder how much Robert Louis Stevenson drew inspiration from Charle’s life for his heroes. No doubt, I have more studying to do! But first … I think I’ll read my favorite novel again.

About the Author

2015-07-27 Carolly EricksonDistinguished historian Carolly Erickson is the author of Rival to the Queen, The Memoirs of Mary Queen of Scots, The First Elizabeth, The Hidden Life of Josephine, The Last Wife of Henry VIII, and many other prize-winning works of fiction and nonfiction. Her novel The Tsarina’s Daughter won the Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice Award for Best Historical Fiction. She lives in Hawaii.

Book Review: Repeat Offender

2015-04-06 Bradley Nickell, Repeat OffenderTrue Crime

I opened Repeat Offender, read the first scene, and questioned why I thought I could ever read this.

Bradley Nickell, a Las Vegas police detective in the Repeat Offender Program, stumbled into the biggest case of his life when he began investigating career criminal Daimon Monroe. An investigation which began with Brad stuck in a small room listening to endless hours of inmate phone calls escalated to a search warrant, millions of dollars of stolen art and collectables – and a scheme to murder the detective, the prosecutor, and the judge who threatened to keep Daimon behind bars for life. It sounds like a great police procedural, with one catch: It isn’t fiction.

I knew most of these facts up-front before picking up the book. And having gotten to know Brad over social media, I was excited to read his new release. But when the opening scene involved Brad fingering a shotgun as a car followed him home from work, I powered off my Kindle and stared straight ahead blankly. My own dad is a sheriff’s detective. Or my surrogate dad, rather. My father was already dead. And Brad wasn’t just some author; I’d gotten to know him personally.

This was not going to be an easy read.

2015-04-13 Police (2)I got a grip on myself and powered forward. I’d promised Brad I’d read the book.

Fortunately, not every moment was as intense as that opening scene. As a crime writer, I was fascinated to look over the shoulder of a detective and watch every step that lead to the arrest of the suspect and his trials and convictions. I was also fascinated to get to know Daimon Monroe in-depth, and the mind of someone who would so casually flaunt society’s rules.

I rooted for heroes like Tammy, Daimon’s ex-girlfriend and the mother of his children, who dug in her heels and turned her life completely around, whatever the danger might be.

I felt for his daughter, torn between the unbreakable bond between a father and daughter, and the reality of what Daimon did to her.

2015-04-13 Crime Scene Tape (2)If a cop is going to last long in his job, he has to perfect the art of shutting down his emotions. If a writer is going to last long in his job, he has to perfect the art of being deeply in tune with his own emotions and those of everyone around him. Brad did an amazing job of bringing feeling into the story. I think he could have gone even deeper, but I applaud his accomplishment in an arena that most cops learn to avoid.

I know Brad had some wonderful, experienced writers help him on his debut book, but I confess, I didn’t agree with the overall structure of the story. I felt like the first scene was, in fact, the climax, and ought to have been deeper into the book. Things also took a one-eighty when the story switched from investigation to trial. At this point, the tension of Daimon’s attempted murders-for-hire was gone, and we entered a detailed recounting of his trials for numerous offenses. Dividing the book into “Part I” and “Part II” would have made the transition easier.

2015-04-06 Police CarDespite that, I read every last word, cover-to-cover. No detail was overlooked in the retelling of this true crime, and I walked away with deep respect for the law enforcement officers who doggedly stick to the trail. Despite the repercussions – which became alarmingly personal to Brad – he stuck to his duty to ensure that no more lives and livelihoods would be upended by one man’s mania.

About the Author

2015-04-06 Bradley NickellIn 1992, Bradley joined the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department and was promoted to detective in 1999. For the past sixteen years, Bradley has been assigned to the Repeat Offender Program, specializing in identifying, catching, and helping convict career criminals who prey on the citizens of Southern Nevada. Repeat Offender is his debut true-crime thriller.

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