BOOGIE HOUSE by T. Blake Braddy

OK, I really loved this book.  A nice mashup of mystery, thriller, paranormal lite, and small southern town politics.

Even though it stars  a tried-and-true trope of the alcoholic cop on suspension, or maybe he was fired? I forget.  He was drunk, ran a stop sign, ploughed into an older black woman, destroying her car, but fortunately she only suffered a leg injury.

In one of his evenings along with the bottle, he wanders into the surrounding woods and finds himself at the old boogie house, a negro juke from the sixties, now abandoned and decaying.  He hears music, blues and laughter and people having fun.  He goes gingerly to the building, steps in, the halluciation stops, and he sees the beaten and tortured body of a young black man, dead a few days, in a corner.

He of course calls the police and reports it, and it turns out to be the son of the woman he T-boned.  She visits him to tell him she will speak in his favor at the court hearing for his dui, and asks him to find the killer of her son.

We meet a mojo man, more spirit apparitions, more ethereal blues music, and a desperate wannabe senator who will do anything to keep his run for congress from collapsing.

Great mystery, just enough paranormal to be interesting without being too woo woo and not credible,  just enough sad history of his own, which all twines around this current situation, and just enough likability of our trope-bound protagonist to make it a really interesting and fun read.

There are two more volumes to this series.

PROTECTOR by C. J. Cherryh

Number 14 in the foreigner series.  And the last of those I have in my possession, although not the last in the series, as there are six more to go.

It’s coming up on Cajeiri’s birthday. The boy has been promised he can have the young human children he knew from his voyage sent down from the space station for a two week stay.

But there’s far a darker business going on in the background–a major split compromising the Assassins’ Guild, which furnishes security and law enforcement to the whole continent.  Tabini’s consort’s own father has been barred from court, and may be involved in a new conspiracy against him.

For safety reasons, Tabini wants Bren and Ilisidi to take charge of Cajeiri, and protect him and his young guests. They themselves are very likely targets of whatever’s going on, no question of it. So is Cajeiri. But having the targets separated and contained is an advantage.

It’s Bren’s responsibility to entertain the guests, keep the security problem secret…and let a lonely eight-year-old prince reestablish his controversial relationship with the only other children he’s ever met…inside the best security they can manage.

So all’s well, etc, except that the birthday party hasn’t happened yet, although the kids are having a great time riding those huge horse things with tusks at the uncle’s estate, where they have all gone for security.

Another good volume, although frankly it seemed a little bit like Mz. Cherryh is getting a bit bored with it all and kind of phone it in, but I still enjoyed it anyway.


INTRUDER by C. J. Cherryh

Thirteen in the Foreigner series.  Not as much action, but the politics continues.

The politics in this installment has its roots back in book 2 or so. The Marid has been a thorn in the aishididat’s side for a long time, and elements within the Padi Valley and the West have been at loggerheads too, through this series. Though this installment has no gunfire, the tension was high, as 200+ years of political infighting and assassinations are coming under some measure of control. But there are serious questions raised in this installment about the integrity of one group. All the politicking, and the diplomatic dance Bren goes through mollifying, cajoling, flattering… And that’s just for great uncle Tatiseigi. Ilsidi makes a smaller appearance here, but she’s scary and smart as always. And how interesting it is to see how lordly parents and children behave together.

The intruder in this book is the monkey-like creature that Cajeiri, the aiji’s son, acquires unbeknown to his parents.  Cajeiri is having some problems with his mother, who is soon to have another baby.  And of course, the creature while out of his cage with Cajeiri, is startled by a servant suddenly opening the door, and disappears into the depths of the huge apartment.  Although he and his staff look all over for it, it isn’t until he hears his mother screaming and dashes in to her rooms to find Boji clinging to the curtains in panic.  He lures it to him with an egg, which Boji loves, and the story goes on.

A lot of priceless antique porcelains have arrived at the main center for display, a political move on Bren’s part to entice other political entities into accepting the up to now reclusive Marid clans as part of the main political body.  So we readers spent a lot of time worrying whether the creature would end up in the porcelain displays and break something, but whew, we were spared that.

And Cajeiri’s ninth birthday is coming up, his fortunate 9, and he has been granted permission to invite his four human friends from the space station to come to the planet to celebrate with him, for two weeks.  So we have that to look forward to, as does Cajeiri, because he has no friends, being the son of an important person, and actually doesn’t even know any Atevi of his own age, and he misses those space friends so much.


BETRAYER by C. J. Cherryh

The twelfth novel in Cherryh’s Foreigner space opera series, a groundbreaking tale of first contact and its consequences…

In the wake of civil war, Bren Cameron, the brilliant human diplomat of the alien atevi civilization, has left the capital and sought refuge at his country estate, Najida. But now he is trapped inside Najida—which has been surrounded by enemies—with Ilisidi, the powerful grandmother of his ally, Tabini-aiji, atevi leader of the Western Association. But Ilisidi, the wily and dangerous aiji-dowager, is not inclined to be passive, and in a brazen maneuver sends Bren into enemy territory, to the palace of Machigi, the leader of the rebels.

Bren’s mission is to negotiate with Machigi—a young atevi lord who has never actually seen a human—and somehow persuade him to cease his hostile actions against the West. Bren knows that the autocratic Machigi rules a fractious clan, and that his hospitality is not guaranteed. Bren’s genius for negotiation enable him to make a daring trade offer to Machigi—one that seems to interest the young warlord. But Machigi is suspicious of Ilisidi’s motives, and, to Bren’s utter shock, evokes an ancient law that jeopardizes Bren’s life. Can Bren stay alive and not alienate Ilisidi or Tabini, while also representing the interests of their enemy?

That is the official plot description.  At least I didn’t steal it from anybody this time.

DECEIVER by C. J. Cherryh

Number 11 in the Foreigner series.  More political machinations and gun fire and stuff.

More murky waters of political intrigue. The retaking of power by Tabiti is by all means not a finalised action and enemy factions still abound, just under the surface. Every action, or even non-action, has to be analysed and re-analysed, and of course, the smallest item could in fact be something about to metaphorically (and literally) blow up in your face.

There is a LOT of ‘thinking’ going on here, but it makes sense, and if you’ve reached book 11, I’m sure you are not going to stop here :O) Cherryh truly has us hooked! Some action scenes do pepper the story, with Toby getting hurt, Barb kidnapped, and fighting to acquire/defend strategic positions.

The narration is once more divided between Bren and Cajeiri, and I’ve come to really enjoy this, witnessing how the young atevi is growing in his role and character, and learning rather a lot, especially considering he is only 8! His relationship with his great grandmother, Ilisidi, is brilliant. And on the other side of this triangle (felicitous 3), we have of course Bren, forever trying to sort everything out. This proves rather perilous this time, with Tabini, who I don’t trust, literally playing poker with his life!

Plot description lifted in its entirety from a reviewer named  Veronique.  I have lost my will to live when it comes to summarizing these plots, so I am reduced to petty crime.


Number 10 in the Foreigner series.  The apparently never ending Foreigner series.  But I can’t stop reading it. 

The politics in the Capitol have forced Bren from his temporary residence to his home on the coast, which he decides isn’t such a bad thing. A visit and some relaxation are long overdue. What he leaves behind is one very disgruntled Cajeiri, who takes it upon himself and his companions to follow the pahdhi to his coastal estate. Just when the dust is settling from this unexpected turn of events, the young gentleman and his companions end up in a pickle when a boat they “borrowed” is pushed out to sea on the tide. The town comes to the aid of the youngsters and everyone is brought back safely.

A visit to the neighboring estate to express thanks on behalf of all uncovers an assassination plot and an entrenched political rival to Cajeiri’s father in an allies house. With the help of the Dowager’s forces, the rival fraction is ousted from the peninsula. The book concludes with a rather stunning meeting between the natives of the peninsula, the Padhi, and the Dowager.

What we also see is just how much Bren has integrated himself into the culture of the Atevi, and he admits as much to his brother Toby and his girlfriend Barb when they come to visit. Human norms, such as hugging and effusive greetings are now unfamiliar and awkward for Bren, and he finds himself in this odd place of not really belonging in either world.

This plot description blatantly stolen from a reviewer named Kristin.  I admit it.  I have no shame.


DELIVERER by C. J. Cherryh

The ninth book in the Foreigner series.

I stole this plot description from a couple of reviewers  because there was no official plot description offered and I am tired of trying to synopsize a complicated and ongoing story line.

We get a new PoV. Cajeiri, the Son of Tabini, the great-grandson of Ilsisdi, is missing his human friends aboard the spaceship and is semi-successful in fitting in with the rest of the Atevi. He likes tech and is doing all he can to sneak away from his protectors.

Bren is becoming more and more confident in his position in the world, but he does make a few mistakes along the way. That’s all right. That’s Bren. He always thinks his way through problems and he’s as loyal a companion as anyone could want.

Cajeiri, however, has a big problem on his hands. He’s not growing up with all the proper instincts of an Atevi. For one, he’s ignoring his instincts and following a code of “friendship”, and he doesn’t think it’s a code for “salad”. Things are gonna get really hairy, now. 🙂

There’s more action and intrigue in this one. Quite fun action and intrigue! But above all, it’s the world-building that shines.

Picking up from the situation left at the end of Pretender, paidhi Bren Cameron is once again installed (albeit in a somewhat temporary accommodation) in the Bujavid in Shejidan, capital of the powerful Aishidi’tat. However, while the aiji Tabini has reclaimed his power from the pretender Murini and restored some sense of order, Murini himself is still at large and the political climate remains a bit shaken up. In short, Cherryh delivers another in depth study of atevi politics as focalised through Bren Cameron.

Cajeiri is only infelecitious eight. And too bright for his own good.  He is bored and up to mischief, and in the confusion of trying to settle who is safe and who is not, he is kidnapped and in real danger.

The story races along with Bren and the aiji’s dowager, plus their security, rushing to the rescue. Young Cajeiri is not slow in helping himself and the reader gets another layer of understanding in the intricate political alliances and feuds.


PRETENDER by C. J. Cherryh

Eighth in the Foreigner/First Contact series.

Let me begin by talking about the general premises of the series.  It is set in a far future where the human race of the planet earth have achieved space travel, and some kind of faster than light techniques, a folded space technique, that allows them into far distant star systems.  Due to some malfuction, a ship loaded with settlers, miners, etc. ends up in a place they cannot locate and the ship is out of fuel.  They use their equipment to build a space station hovering over a habitable planet, but when it becomes apparent the Pilots Guild only wants all that work to refuel their ship, the station folks begin leaving the station on one-way drop ships and inhabit the planet where they discover other inhabitants, the atevi.

The atevi, as best as I can understand, are a human species, much taller and bigger than humans from earth, and dark black skinned.  They have a court society. complete with fancy dress, lace, courtly manners, etc.  Think Louis XV.  Their society is millennia old.  Where did these court notions come from?  Very odd.  The society is basically a lot of competing clans and ruling families, and for the first time ever, the ruler of the biggest area with the biggest aggregate of clans now essentially rules the planet.

I just find the idea of another human species, only bigger, better and blacker, to be a strange concept, although the series is fun.  When the earth humans first arrive on the planet, in spite of their vast history, the atevi had only arrived at the steam age era of technological development.

Well, in this 8th installment,  exhausted from a two-year rescue mission in space, the crew of the starship Phoenix return home to find disaster: civil war has broken out, the powerful Western Association has been overthrown, and Tabini-aiji, its forceful leader, is missing. In a desperate move, paidhi Bren Cameron and Tabini’s grandmother Ilisidi, the aiji-dowager, along with with Cajeiri, Tabini’s eight-year-old heir, make planetfall and succeed in reaching the mainland. The brilliant and forceful Ilisidi seeks refuge at the estate of an old ally, and Tabini-aiji arrives at the door.

As word of Tabini’s whereabouts circulates, clans allied with Tabini descend upon the estate, providing a huge civilian presence that everyone involved hopes will deter impending attacks by the usurpers. But as more and more supporting clans arrive, Bren finds himself increasingly isolated, and it becomes clear that both his extremely important report of alien contact in space, and even his life, rest on the shoulders of only two allies: Ilisidi and Cajeiri.

Can one elderly ateva and and eight-year-old boy—himself a prime target for assassination—protect Bren, a lone human involved in a civil war that most atevi believe he caused?

More political intrigue, more internal musing by Bren.  Frankly, this volume felt a bit padded, stretching out the plotline from the previous volume of Bren and the Dowager and the 8 year old son, plus their bodyguards, their security, crashing through the terrain looking for the disappeared Aijii, hoping he is not dead.

The fun part of this volume is that they end up with the boy’s great uncle, at his venerable estate.  He is a curmudgeon, hates humans and the technology they have brought to his country, but the enemy forces of the aiji are showing up at his estate in attempts to murder both the dowager and the son, destroying lots of valuable property, ruining his fields and plantings, and every group who shows up he is forced by custom to house and feed, and is appalled by the cost of all this.

The Pretender in the title refers to a double-dealing upstart who has declared the aiji dead, and has taken over the government, and the justice system, and things are looking dire, but we can guess that he will get his just desserts in the end.



DESTROYER by C. J. Cherryh

Number 7 in the Foreigner/First Contact series.  I think you are stuck with this series until I get bored with them.

It has been two years since the starship Phoenix left Alpha Station on a rescue mission where over four thousand human spacers were under attack by a hostile alien race. Now, exhausted from their journey, the crew of the Phoenix yearns for home. But when the ship makes the jump into atevi space, they learn the worst: that supplies to the station have been cut off; that civil war has broken out on the atevi mainland; that the powerful Western Association has been overthrown; and that Tabini-aiji, Bren Cameron’s primary supporter and Ilisidi’s grandson and ally, is missing and may be dead.

With no one left to lead the Western Association, Ilisidi and Bren know that the survival of their allies lies in their hands. And with the atevi world at war, the only safe landing strip lies on the human colony at Mospheira. Although there are many dangers inherent in bringing a powerful atevi leader such as Ilisidi onto human lands, Bren realizes they have no other choice. But even if they safely survive their landing, will Bren and Ilisidi together prove strong enough to muster the remaining shards of the Western Association and regain control of their planet?

The world was practically unified under Tabini, but when Bren returns to the system only to find that supplies from the world aren’t getting to the space station and the main continent is in turmoil and Tabini is presumed dead, grandmother Ilisidi and Tabini’s young son and Bren go harrowing off to find support in the mainland or at least some word as to Tabini’s fate.

This one was more political, back more to the style and content of the first three volume sequence.


EXPLORER by C. J. Cherryh

I know.  I said I was going to read something else to give you guys a break.  So I lied.  So sue me.

Official plot description:

It has been nearly ten years since the starship Phoenix returned to Alpha, the station orbiting the world of the atevi, which had been abandoned following a rift between a faction of the station’s inhabitants and the spacers’ Pilot’s Guild. The unexpected return of the Phoenix has forever changed the lives of both atevi and Mospheirans, for over the ensuing decade, the captains of the Phoenix have brought both species into space. Their motivation seemed simple: Reunion Station, a human station in another sector of space, had been destroyed by aliens.

But on his deathbed, the senior captain of the Phoenix admits that he lied to the crew—that Reunion was merely damaged, not destroyed, and many people may have survived. At this disclosure, the crew rebels and forces the Phoenix to undertake a rescue mission to Reunion. Onboard the rescue mission are Bren Cameron, brilliant human paidhi representing the atevi ruler Tabini-aiji, and Tabini’s grandmother Ilisidi, a fearsome and ambitious atevi leader with an agenda of her own. Trapped in a distant star system with little fuel left, facing a bellicose alien ship, how can Bren help to avoid interspecies war when the notoriously secretive Pilot’s Guild aboard Reunion Station refuse to cooperate, and may have kept the inhabitants of their own station ignorant of their true situation?

The atevi ruler sends his feisty and dangerous grandmother, and his 6 year old son to the station.  It is working out pretty good, until the Phoenix gets ready to depart to rescue the folks left behind on the Reunion station, which is ruled with a heavy hand by the hated Pilots Guild.  So Tabini-aiji sends the elderly grandmother and his kid along on the space flight to Reunion!  WT actual F!   This is a two year round trip, with hyperspace jumps and all kinds of neat spaceship stuff.  But really, nobody knows what they will find in Reunion.

What they find is a nasty welcome from the head of the Pilots Guild and demands to board and examine the ship.  No way Jose, says the female captain.  But she agrees to board the station to present her papers, but the crew and Bren and the atevi’s aboard the ship are quite worried about this.

Meanwhile, there is a huge alien ship hanging around, and has been for six years, with no action.  But gee, the station has a giant frigging hole in it, damaged in a shootout with that ship six years ago.  Bren and the ship’s crew work out a way to communicate with that ship in pixel pictures, and learn than the ship sent a small explorer pod to the station six years ago, the station shot it down and captured its pilot, and have been holding him.  The alien ship wants its guy back.  They have been watching, waiting to see  what’s what before they do anything.

Bren tells the ship that they (the Phoenix people) will go in the station and rescue the imprisoned alien and return him (her) (it) to its own ship.

Lots of intrigue and action-y stuff follows, they do rescue the alien, bring him aboard the Phoenix.  He turns out to be huge …. I was getting a picture of the Pillsbury Doughboy as big as the atevi.  Bren and the alien work at creating a workable language and Bren learns they are the Kyo (or something like that, I forget) and they are a trading people, but have trouble because they are also an attaching people, and tend to swallow up those they come in contact with.  Fortunately, they are a kalebenty billion light years away, so won’t be dropping into Atevi space any too frequently for tea.

But they do tell of an even scarier menace on the far side of their stars, so the word is definitely out … we are not alone in the universe.

Much less political intrigue, musing and surmising who is doing what to whom, and more action and faster pace.  Very enjoyable.  I liked this one best so far.