Dangerous Women 1

Dangerous Women 1Dangerous Women 1 by George R.R. Martin

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The first subdivision of the Dangerous Women anthology edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois is a mix bag of both story quality and the interpretation of the phrase ‘dangerous women’. In seven stories across genres around the central theme of women who are dangerous, a reader is treated to see women in various ways only but is also forced to figure out if the women presented or alluded to are actually dangerous.

Of the seven stories featured in Dangerous Women 1 the three best at presenting both a very good story and dangerous women were Carrie Vaugh’s “Raisa Stepanova”, Megan Abbott’s “My Heart Is Either Broken”, and George R.R. Martin’s “The Princess and the Queen”. Just outside these three was Cecelia Holland’s “Nora’s Song” which had a very good story but was seen from the perspective of a little girl finding out how dangerous her mother is. These four stories were at the very beginning and the last three stories of the collection giving the anthology a strong start and finish.

However, the three stories in the middle suffered from a failure of either not being very good or not having a dangerous woman. Both Megan Lindholm’s “Neighbors” and Joe R. Lansdale’s “Wrestling Jesus” were very good stories, but the danger posed by the women either featured or more mentioned then seen was hard to detect. But the weakest story of the entire collection was Lawrence Block’s “I Know How to Pick’em” which went from having potential to falling flat by the end.

Overall Dangerous Women 1 is a mixed bag of very good stories with strong female characters, just very good stories with no danger attached to any female character, and just plain bad all around. The best that could be said is in the end the reader is the ultimate judge.

Individual Story Ratings
Raisa Stepanova by Carrie Vaughn (4/5)
I Know How to Pick’em by Lawrence Block (1/5)
Neighbors by Megan Lindholm (2.5/5)
Wrestling Jesus by Joe R. Lansdale (2/5)
My Heart Is Either Broken by Megan Abbott (4/5)
Nora’s Song by Cecelia Holland (3.5/5)
The Princess and the Queen by George R.R. Martin (4/5)

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My Heart Is Either Broken (Dangerous Women 1)

dw1My Heart is Either Broken by Megan Abbott
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

A husband and father slowly begins looking at his wife’s behavior differently than he had previously in their relationship after their daughter goes missing. As newspaper reporters and the police officers begin questioning his wife’s story, only ever so slightly does he begin to think she’s responsible. Then suddenly one night she remembers details that had slipped her mind and soon they are reunited with their baby daughter. But one night he walks into his daughter’s room to find his wife looking at her with an expression that makes him very worried. This is a great story with several twists at the end as to whom is the dangerous woman in this story.

Wrestling Jesus (Dangerous Women 1)

dw1Wrestling Jesus by Joe R. Lansdale
My rating: 2 out of 5 stars

Marvin gets beatin’ up by some neighborhood bullies and is saved by an old man, after doing some working out during the summer he confronts them again only to get beatin’ up again. Once again the old man saves him and decides to have Marvin for someone to work out again. Over the course of time the old man becomes like a father to Marvin and it’s to the old man that he turns when Marvin’s mother choices her boyfriend over her son. Throughout the story the old man gives information to Marvin about an upcoming wrestling match he has with an old rival, Jesus, and the reason two old men are fighting. A woman, a seductress, and possibly one with mystical powers. The story is great, but the ‘dangerous woman’ only appears at the end and sits to watch the match with only one line.

Neighbors (Dangerous Women 1)

dw1Neighbors by Megan Lindholm
My rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

Sarah Wilkins sees her now crazy neighbor Linda Mason walking out in the middle of the night in her slippers talking about going away and asking Sarah to go with her. After refusing Sarah never sees Linda again and begins thinking about how much their neighborhood had changed while battling her son about her living situation. Soon Sarah starts noticing how different the neighborhood is in the fog and who appears out on the street in the night. Sarah begins battling her children about her own future and decides to head out into the fog to find her own path and surprising Linda. A good story, yet the ‘dangerous’ of Sarah is questionable.

Confirming Justice (Justice #2)

Confirming Justice (Justice Series #2)Confirming Justice by Diane Munson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In “Confirming Justice” by wife-husband authors Diane & David Munson, who use their professional law enforcement and legal experience, create realistic crime fiction.  Just like in the their first book a significant Christian imprint appears throughout the book in numerous character’s story arcs.

Unlike the author’s first book, there is no central plot in “Confirming Justice” instead they intermingle two strong story arcs that from time-to-time merged briefly before once again separating before coming together to achieve a climax.  The two main characters in the book were both secondary characters introduced in the previous book, Judge Dwight Pendergast and FBI agent Griff Topping.  Pendergast’s arc shows a fair minded jurist not allowing his thoughts for a particular defendant influence the handling of a trial, then dealing with health and family concerns before and during the announcement that he is a nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court.  Topping’s arc begins with him attempting to find a fellow agent who is testifying in jury presided by Judge Pendergast then being asking by the judge afterwards to work on a private matter to find his long-lost older brother and while doing so stumbles upon a major drug case that partners him with former colleague.

Both main story arcs are well written and are the main reason why I gave this book the rating it has, but unfortunately other elements are also why I gave this book the rating I did.  The secondary characters in “Confirming Justice” fall into either one of two categories, well-rounded and flat, and are evenly divided between both which hurts the narrative.  The nefarious behind-the-scenes political intrigue subplot is unfortunately more a hindrance to the book’s quality than a benefit.  And like “Facing Justice” this book has Christian faith, or lack of it in most cases, prominent throughout numerous character’s lives, while this is not a negative in and of itself, the heavy-handed nature of it even made a Christian like myself think it was too much.

After finishing “Confirming Justice”, I thought it was a nice second effort by the authors especially in terms of the main story arcs however it faulted in other areas which has made me decided not to continue the series.

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Facing Justice (Justice #1)

Facing Justice (Justice Series #1)Facing Justice by Diane Munson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The use of authentic professional law enforcement and legal experience creates a realistic fiction in “Facing Justice” by wife-husband authors Diane & David Munson.  With the tagline of international terrorism comes to church, a significant Christian imprint appears throughout the book in numerous character’s story arcs.

The plot centers around the capture of a Bin-Ladin like terrorist leader through the use of informants starting in a raid related to money laundering, the use of real life investigative techniques both domestic and foreign help the book throughout.  The major secondary plot revolves around a young anti-terrorism agent bending the rules in the pursuit of supposed terrorist contributor, who happens to be the husband of a member of the main character’s church.  The point-of-view switches through numerous characters allowing the story to be seen from different angles giving the reader a clearer picture of the entire course of events.

While the overall story and the significant subplots are very good and keep the reader engaged, the introduction of new point-of-view characters just when they’re needed in the book seemed a bit too much when earlier point-of-views from the characters would have added some development and making their later importance to the plot more welcome.  The book has Christianity prominent throughout numerous character’s lives in some form or fashion, while this is not a negative in and of itself, the sheer amount and heavy-handed nature of it even made a Christian like myself think enough.

After finishing “Facing Justice”, I thought it was a good first outing by the authors and made me curious to see what would happen the second book of the series both in plot and quality.

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