Sunday, July 20, 2014

Review: Ghosts in the Snow by Tamara Siler Jones

Ghosts in the Snow
Author:  Tamara Siler Jones
Series:  Dubric Byerly 1
Publisher:  Spectra, October 26, 2004
Format:  Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 496 pages
List Price:  $6.99 (print)
ISBN:  978-0-553-58709-8
Review Copy:  Reviewer's Own

Where does the fever of illusion stop...
and the cold truth begin?

This unique debut thriller combines forensics, fantasy, and edge-of-your-seat suspense like never before. In a world where sorcery is illegal, someone is murdering young women in ways that defy all reason—and all detection. Only one man knows how to track such an untraceable killer, a man called to deliver justice by an onslaught of…

For Dubric Byerly, head of security at Castle Faldorrah, saving lives has become a matter of saving his sanity. A silent killer is afoot, savagely mutilating servant girls and leaving behind no clues and no witnesses—except the gruesome ghosts of the victims. Ghosts that only Dubric can see.

Caught in the eye of the grisly storm is Nella, a linen maid working to free herself from a dark past—if she can survive an invisible killer’s rampage. But with the death toll rising and Nella under the protective wing of a man who may be a prime suspect, Dubric must resort to unconventional methods. With the future of Faldorrah and countless lives at stake, including his own, he can’t afford to be wrong. And if he’s right, the entire kingdom could be thrust into war.

Doreen’s Thoughts

Ghosts in the Snow feels more like a mystery than a fantasy novel. However, magic exists – and is outlawed – in Faldorrah, a medieval-like land where people can see ghosts and swords can disappear and reappear at will. The fantasy elements of this novel are such an integral part of the overall setting, I forgot I was reading a fantasy and focused on the thriller at the heart of the story – who is killing the servant girls of the castle.

As head of the castle’s security, Dubric Byerly is responsible for keeping everyone safe; however, since magic is banned, he could not tell anyone that a ghost appeared to him of a servant girl who was murdered violently. He is forced to pretend that everything is fine until the body is discovered. Unfortunately, the killing does not end with her. More girls are murdered, and the castle is in an uproar.

Nella is a servant girl with a mysterious past who does extra work to earn money to pay off a debt she owes to Risley. The young princeling, Risley, is infatuated with Nella and insists on protecting her, despite his efforts interfering with Dubric’s investigation. Risley also begins protecting many of the other castle girls through his association with Nella, and in the process becomes a suspect himself.

Without knowing it, Dubric uses forensic techniques that would have been available in a similar non-magical time period. The techniques are unique but still effective enough to help track down the murderer, who uses magic to escape detection during his kills. Along with half the castle, the killer himself is roped into the search. It is also interesting to see how Dubric combines his forensics with magic to find the culprit.

I enjoyed Ghosts in the Snow because of its thrilling mystery and the fantasy that it was set within. Trying to determine the killer among the various suspects in the castle was intriguing, and the forensic techniques were interesting to consider. I look forward to reading more of Ms. Siler Jones’ work.

Also available in the Dubric Byerly series:

Threads of Malice
Dubric Byerly 2
Spectra, October 25, 2005
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 528 pages

In this relentlessly gripping thriller, Compton Crook Award winner Tamara Siler Jones weaves together her unique blend of fantasy, forensics, and suspense to create a world terrorized by a killer out of our darkest nightmares. Now one man must follow a trail of savaged victims to save an innocent life hanging by the slimmest of hopes.…

One by one, young men in the kingdom’s outer reaches are vanishing into the dark. So far, two bodies have washed up on the local riverbank. But Dubric Byerly, head of security at Castle Faldorrah, soon realizes there are countless more victims…for it’s his curse to be forever haunted by the ghosts of those whose deaths demand justice.

The latest to vanish is Braoin, a seventeen-year-old painter whose mother came to Dubric’s aid when he most needed it. All Dubric knows is that the boy is still alive. But time is running out, and it isn’t only Braoin’s life hanging in the balance. If Dubric can’t untangle the twisted web of clues and lies and find his way to the killer, one of his own pages will be the next to die.…

Valley of the Soul
Dubric Byerly 3
Spectra, October 31, 2006
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 464 pages

In the mage wars, Dubric Byerly risked his life–and sacrificed the woman he loved–to catch magic’s darkest killers. Those battles are long over–and the monsters Dubric hunts these days are nothing more than men. Until now. A recent string of grisly crimes has Dubric and his pages scouring the countryside for clues that hint at the worst: that history’s most murderous mage has come to Faldorrah.

As Dubric’s hunt leads from secrets locked behind sanatorium walls to a hidden cache of souls preserved in fluid, other lives are shaken: a young woman given a power she doesn’t want, a young man inheriting a legacy he can’t understand, and a father fighting for his memory of a daughter who may already be lost. In the hardscrabble village of Quarry Run, the dark ghosts of the past have come calling–and the battle for the future begins.…


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