Love is the Bond – M.R. Sellars

Love is the Bond: A Rowan Gant Investigation
M.R. Sellars
E.M.A. Mysteries, 2005
346 pages

This is the latest Rowan Gant novel by Sellars–and is it good!!!! He’s got a good balance of psychic phenomena and mundane sleuthing this time, and it was a really well-paced work.

There are a couple of new elements; the killer in this book misuses elements of Voodoo (don’t worry–the misuse is made quite distinct from proper use). In addition, there’s a flavoring of BDSM to the story; it’s not as bad as some squicked-out reviewers have made it, and leads me to wonder where this series is going to go.

The ending is a hell of a cliffhanger, more maddeningthan any other. When the next book “All Acts of Pleasure” comes out, which should be soon, I’m picking it up ASAP!

Overall, I really enjoyed this series, and I’m glad there’ll be more to it! Highly recommended for esoteric mystery fiction, and a good, quick read to rest your brain from research and other such things.

Five pawprints out of five.

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Crone’s Moon – M.R. Sellars

Crone’s Moon: A Rowan Gant Investigation
M.R. Sellars
E.M.A. Mysteries, 2004
332 pages

I’ve really, really been enjoying this series! In this latest Rowan Gant book, Sellars opens the story with almost immediate action–a kidnapping, to which Rowan and his cop friend Ben are both witnesses.

This book is probably the best blend thus far of action and downtime. The pace is quick, and there are some new twists in the storyline. There are a couple of hints dropped about several of the characters, too, that I can’t wait to see develop further.

There’s more of the psychic activity, too, and exploration of the firsthand experiences of Rowan–and, this time, Felicity–as they both fall into the well of the Otherworld. The whole “Oh my gods, (insert name here), you almost died from reliving someone else’s death psychically!” thing is getting a little old, adn sometimes I admit I did sort of flip through a few sections just because I figured that whoever it was that was having the seizure would get pulled out by the other one. But Sellars does a good job of conveying the anxiety and the desperation of the characters as the story unfolds, and the insistent pull of the Otherworld. I am kind of hoping, though, that later books rely less on the psychic seizures as a plot thickener, as after a while they all start running together. I’d also like to see more focus on clues about the perps, as in the first book, rather than having everything hinge on the seizures.

Still, the story itself is great, and it was a real page-turner–I couldn’t put the book down as I neared the end, and stayed glued to the pages all the way through. I’ve already started “Love Is the Bond”, and it’s already pulling me in–I only tore myself away long enough to write this review!

Four pawprints out of five.

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Perfect Trust – M.R. Sellars

Perfect Trust: A Rowan Gant Investigation
M.R. Sellars
E.M.A. Mysteries, 2002
369 pages

This is the third of the Rowan Gant series. It’s different from the first two; there’s more psychology and high weirdness, and less action. It took me til about 2/3 of the way through the book to really get into it, but it was worth it.

It’s fun getting into a character’s head–in this case, Rowan–and seeing just how close to insanity he can get without falling over the edge–or knowing the reason.

The thing I’ve learned, though, with mysteries in general, is to pay attention to detail. I won’t say anything more than that. But with this one, everything snapped into focus within the last couple of chapters. There’s one detail that’ll throw you for a loop, though!

Overall, another good book! Not as easy for me to read as the others, but still, worth the money.

Five pawprints out of five.

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Never Burn a Witch – M.R. Sellars

Never Burn a Witch: A Rowan Gant Investigation
M.R. Sellars
Willowtree Press, 2001
412 pages

Sellars’ mystery series takes a few new twists in this second book. Once again we have a serial killer, but this time s/he’s targeting pagans in the St. Louis area. Worse yet, whoever it is has decided that The Malleus Maleficarum is holy writ.

As before, Sellars gives us good views of who his characters are as people–and how they deal with increasing weirdness, such as the stigmata-like wound on Rowan’s arm that resembles the same symbol the killer leaves at the scenes, and Rowan’s increasing detachment from reality and into the alternate world of the spirits of the murder victims. These details rather push the limit of the realism of Wicca presented in the book, but it still beats flying fireballs and physical portals into the Otherworld.

Sellars leaves us with a cliffhanger of an ending, which of course led me to run and get the next book from the shelf so I could find out just what happens next. I’m really enjoying this series thus far, and I’m glad to have a good series of fiction to relax with.

Five pawprints out of five.

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Harm None – M.R. Sellars

Harm None: A Rowan Gant Investigation
M.R. Sellars
Willowtree Press, 2000
380 pages

My husband, Taylor, turned me on to Sellars’ works last year. I had the good fortune of meeting Mr. Sellars at the fall ’06 Gathering of the Tribes in Virginia, and between that and Taylor’s insistence I decided to take a break from all the nonfiction. Good choice!

I really enjoyed how Sellars wove Wicca with real-life situations. Rowan, the protagonist of this book, is a solitary Wiccan (at least at the time of the story) with his wife, Felicity, who is also Wiccan. (I suppose you could have a coven of two.) Anyway, there’s no huge fireworks–no fireballs, or flying through the air, or anything like that. The magic that does happen manifests itself primarily psychologically though to someone sensitive enough a strong piece of magic can manifest itself through a physical reaction. So pretty realistic.

The story itself is good P.R. for Wiccans in general. You have the stereotypically feared human sacrifice (though not carried out in a stereotypical fashion) and the locals automatically pointing to witches. Enter Rowan, who is an open spokesperson for the Wiccan religion. In this book, Sellars uses the character of Rowan to dispel some of the common myths about Wicca, which is a definite boon as plenty of non-Wiccans are sure to pick this one up.

In addition, the characters are human–even the cops. Everybody has something to them below the surface, or at least that potential. Some characters, no doubt, will be explored further in the series, but I really like Sellars’ ability to create people in his story. He also does a wonderful job of causing the “whodunit” needle to point to a number of suspects, rather than focusing on the chasing down of one.

Highly, highly recommended for a good, fast read on a Saturday afternoon, or something fun to take with you to work for breaktime–or any time else you want a well-written, entertaining read.

Five pawprints out of five.

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