Book Review: Montooth 3 Red Cross of Gold by Robert Jay

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Montooth 3 Red Cross of Gold

Robert Jay

Cloverleaf Corporation

ISBN-978-0-989117-0-4

512 pages

Genre: YA Historical Fiction

Monthooth 3, Red Cross of Gold is the third book in the Montooth series by award winning author Robert Jay. He begins this book with The Crew – a group of high achieving high school students on the cusp of graduation. The story continues through their college years, ending in graduation and the beginning of their adulthood.

The main story line is laid out for the reader in the first chapter when an experienced archer commits a murder. This sets the stage for Carty (the main character of the series) to be accused of the crime. She and The Crew have to find the real killer in order to save her from arrest.

There are several other stories within the main storyline. First, there is the story of Montooth as told to The Crew by Sally, a woman that was a witch in one of the previous books, but now a close friend. Montooth , a giant Florida alligator is the star of a group of fables written by Sally’s ancestors. This story features bees and bears. It is a typical fable with a moral at the end.

There are also two large sections of history interspersed with the book. One is the story of hidden gold and a society called the Templars of Scotland, dating back to 1307 and the more recent history of the overthrow of Cuba’s government. Both portions of history tied to the main story. The Templars via Sally and her family fortune and Cuba by Elena, Carty’s best friend and roommate, explain various plot points and turns. To me, this book felt like it should have been broken up into two novels as the first half is almost a separate story from the half about Cuba.

It wasn’t difficult to pick up the characters or backstory without reading the previous books in the series. What was difficult for me was the long sections of history that read like a textbook instead of a novel. It became rather dry to have so many pages of history without referring to the main story or characters, especially the chapters about the Templars. The Cuban portion was a bit more interesting because Elena and her brother were a part of the story at times.

As a work of fiction, the footnotes at the back of the book are not my favorite. Footnotes on the page don’t interrupt a reader as much has having to page back 400 pages to find the right reference. I understand the author’s need to explain history and people outside the text, but a work of fiction calls for the footnotes on the same page.

I would recommend this book to anyone who loves delving a bit deeper into history than the typical historical novel.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy that I can keep for consideration in preparing to write this content. I was not expected to return this item after my review. Copyright © 2014 Laura Hartman

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Whispers of Vivaldi by Beverle Graves Myers

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Whispers of VivaldiWhispers of Vivaldi

A Tito Amato Mystery

Beverle Graves Myers

Poisoned Pen Press

ISBN-9781464202087

288 pages

Genre: Mystery

 

Beverle Graves Myers brings 1745 Venice to life in her latest Tito Amato Mystery. Tito was once the toast of the town as the adored castrato of the Teatro San Marco. He lost his revered voice in an accident, and now assists the Maestro Torani preparing the theater and cast for each new production.

Teatro San Marco must compete against another Opera House for patrons as well as Senate support. Tito must find an opera that will not only sway the vote of the Senate, but also fill all of the seats during Carnival.

A relatively unknown young composer approaches him with a masterfully written opera entitled The False Duke. This could be exactly what Teatro San Marco needs to fill the house and avoid snuffing out the candles for the last time.

The opera is approved, buy with the stipulation that the new up-and-coming castrato in Naples, Angeletto, must be cast for the lead. Tito once again travels to negotiate the contract to bring the acclaimed male soprano to perform the lead role in The False Duke. Unfortunately, Tito’s problems begin to  multiply instead of diminish.

Something odd is going on with Maestro Torani. He seems to be hiding something, even from Tito. Someone attacks him, and then tragically murders him.

Tito is the main suspect of his beloved Maestro’s murder. Rumors swirl around the Teatro San Marco about both the new opera – could it be an original opera or stolen from the great Vivaldi? And could the celebrated Angeletto be a woman masquerading as a castrato? Amid all of these problems, Tito is banned from the Teatro, and from asking questions about the murder of the Maestro. He cannot stop looking for the killer – even if it puts him in mortal danger.

This is the sixth Tito Amato Mystery, but the first one I have read. It easily stands alone as a solid mystery. One might think from reading this review that it is just another cozy mystery set in an unusual location. That would actually be fine, I am the first to admit I love to curl up with a cozy, but this novel has much more depth than most cozies.

Ms Graves Myers takes us on a ride down the canals in a gondola, experiencing murder, adultery, deception and intrigue along with her characters. She paints rich, layered pictures with her words throughout this novel. The plot is served to the reader like a delicious, sometimes rowdy, lovely Italian feast. Each course is a joy to behold, sometimes sweet, sometimes bitter and wonderfully satisfying in the end.  Savor Whispers of Vivaldi, enjoying each chapter as it is laid out before you.

Copyright © 2014 Laura Hartman

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy that I can keep for consideration in preparing to write this content. I was not expected to return this item after my review.

 

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