cornerofmadness (cornerofmadness) wrote in 50bookchallenge,

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Book 47-48

Buffalo SoldierBuffalo Soldier by Maurice Broaddus

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I picked this novella up from the author at the Steampunk Symposium because the idea of a Jamaican steampunk hero appealed to me and the author is of Jamaican heritage himself. Desmond was an espionage agent for Jamaica which in this alternative history is a super power. America never won the Revolutionary world as is part of Albion, i.e. still under England’s rule. Well, part of it, as the Native Americans are in control most of the west.
Desmond is now on the run with Lij a special young man who has several people after him because he could be used as a weapon. One of the most interesting of these interested parties is Cayt, a Pinkerton (she’s rather fun). The dashing Desmond is hoping to find freedom and a home for Lij where the boy can be safe. This journey takes him to the Five Civilized Nations (i.e. Native American territory) but will this be the sanctuary Desmond’s hoping for? Telling would be spoiling.

I had fun with this. Assassins, steam men and quirky characters, this had a lot of fun elements. It was hard to tell what time period this was supposed to be as there were some modern things in it that were definitely not the 1880s but being alternative history, I don’t sweat that. The cover is awesome too. I’d love to see more of Desmond and Lij.

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And Then There Were NoneAnd Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a classic and has been copied so many times on so many mystery shows I can’t even begin to name them all and it all dates back to 1939 with this one. This was originally titled something very offensive, Ten Little N-words but changed to Ten Little Indians and finally And then There were None but ‘Indians’ do play a role in this (as far as that goes, remember this was written in the 30s. There are also two occurrences of the N word in the old saying about them being in the woodpile which naturally is very uncomfortable in these days)

There was a cast of characters at the beginning which was both helpful and at the same time spoiled the end (eye rolls) They are Justice Wargrave, an old judge known to be strict, Vera Claythorne, a young former governess whose last job ended tragically, Captain Philip Lombard a soldier of fortune, Emily Brent, an elderly spinster and staunch conservative, General MacArthur who did things in the war, Dr Armstrong who likes his drink, Anthony Marston a wealthy brash young man, Mr. Blore a former cop, and Mrs. and Mr. Rogers the caretakers of the mansion on Indian Island. All of them, including the Rogers were lured to the island. Some of them think they know the person inviting them, others think U.N. Owen is their new employer.

On their first night, after dinner a phonographic recording is played accusing each of them of various murders. Naturally they all deny it but before they even leave the dining hall one of them is dead of poison and one of the Indian figures representing them has been broken. One by one they fall.

At the end of the day it’s not really a mystery (the actual perpetrator is revealed in a dumb way that probably wouldn’t fly in modern mysteries). This is more suspense or Gothic horror. Who will be next? Are they actually guilty of the crimes they’ve been accused of? Will any of them survive?

It was good to reread this after all those years since I first burned my way through Christie’s back list as a teen. I really enjoyed this one even if it does feel a bit cliched, however you have to remember this was pretty much where the cliché started.

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Tags: alternate history, mystery, steampunk

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