What dark corners are you scanning?

When I was offered the loan of a copy of Philip Dick's A Scanner Darkly I couldn't resist. I love the movies based on Dick's stories. And I've loved every one of his stories I've had the chance to read. It kind of annoyed me that I'd not read this one yet. But what I didn't expect was to find myself in doctor's and dentist's waiting rooms, glued to my phone, frantically reading the next chapter. One my phone! I suppose it's appropriate. After all, Dick was writing of a future world with future technology (and modern-day problems), so my not read on a phone. But my phone...! I'm going to load it up with more books now. I think I'm hooked. It's the one item I'm guaranteed to always have with me, so now I'll always have a book to read.

Meanwhile, in paperback, on my tablet, kindle and y computer, and in every spare moment, I read other books. They're all kind of dark. They all scan kind of strange places. And here are my reviews... Find some coffee (mostly five-star dark coffee) and choose your brew of words.

A Scanner Darkly by Philip K. Dick has to be first of course. Haunting and powerfully convincing dialog; scarily believable social disease; and fascinating technology that leads to a protagonist slowly losing himself in drugs and hardware; it's lightening with smooth humor, darkened with sudden understanding, and carried forward with steadily believable revelations, a sad, powerful, thought-provoking read. Definitely one to go with a five-star dark coffee.

Jack In The Green by Diane Capri is set in the real world, or at least the world of Lee Child's Jack Reacher novels. Two FBI agents are tasked with capturing or stopping their more famous counterpart. Meanwhile a despised protagonist might die. Meanwhile the pages (not too many of them) fly. It's a short dark mix of complex and easy. A fast read, to go with some two-star lively, easy-drinking coffee (and a touch of dark five).

Still in the world of crime and punishment, Fatal Greed by John W. Mefford is a darkly adult novel with fascinating puzzles, cruel death, and multiple forms of greed. the protagonist's voice, humor, and depth feel pleasingly real, if starkly honest. Another one to enjoy with a five-star dark coffee.

Sacrifices is the third in Weston Kincade's A Life of Death young-adult trilogy. Personally I think it's the best of the three. Another dark tale in the almost real world, it tells of a cop with paranormal skill seeking to track a killer without revealing his power. The cop's teenage son is developing even greater powers. The school is being taken over by drugs and gangs. And deaths are mounting. It's a cool plot with great characters and some fascinating touches of soul-searching and mystery. Another dark five-star coffee book!

Their Solitary Way by J. N. Chaney is similarly thought-provoking. Set on a space ship, this space opera centers on a family led by Adam, with a cool blend of mythology and Biblical references, a road that might lead to murder, and a journey that might lead to earth. Dark moods and dark threats deserve another of those dark five-star coffees.

Mistfall by Olivia Martinez postulates a world just beside our own earth where myths and monsters dwell--gods too, but they try to keep their distance. But war is coming, and the first-person narrator might unexpectedly find herself in the center of everything. Intriguing premise and cool characters--it's another one to read while drinking a dark five-star coffee.

And finally, a pure science-fiction tale that takes its protagonists from present-day earth to a far-flung corner of the galaxy where very non-human, often inhuman aliens use slaves to fight their battles and fuel their needs. The Gryphon Saga by L. E. Horn combines hard science with fascinating characterization of alien, human and more. I was lucky enough to read books one and two together and I highly recommend them. The box set should release soon - pour the coffee (an elegantly complex four-star coffee I think) and watch this space.


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