Category Archives: Lee Collins

2013: An Assessment – Individual Authors and Titles

This is the second part of my assessment of 2013.  The first looked at publishers.  Here I’ll feature some authors and/or individual titles that I thought were standouts.  Links for books will be to my reviews (the reviews will have links to buy if you’re interested.)  Since I’ve been doing a weekly post at Amazing Stories, with only one week missed, I’ll be including some of the titles I reviewed there in this list.

As with the publishers, these are in alphabetical order.  I’m probably overlooking someone or a particular book.  I apologize in advance.  This list consists of titles and authors I read in 2013 and isn’t intended to be inclusive.  Feel free to share your suggestions in the comments.  Again, I’m including mystery, crime, and science fiction as well as fantasy. Continue reading

The Return of Cora Oglesby

She Returns from War
Lee Collins
Angry Robot Books
UK Print
ISBN: 9780857662743
Format: Medium Paperback
R.R.P.: £8.99
US/CAN Print
ISBN: 9780857662750
Format: Regular Paperback
R.R.P.: US$7.99 CAN$8.99
ISBN: 9780857662767
Format: Epub & Mobi
R.R.P.: £5.49 / US$6.99

You might recall from my review that I loved The Dead of Winter, the novel that introduced monster hunter Cora Oglesby.  It was an action packed weird western with a number of supernatural menaces, not the least were some vampires that most decidedly did not glitter.

Well, Cora Oglesby is back.  That in and of itself is a good thing.  This is Collins’ second novel, and it’s going to be subject to the scrutiny most second novels get:  Is it as good as its predecessor, or is the author a one trick pony?

I can say for sure that Lee Collins is not a one trick pony.  But is She Returns from War as good as The Dead of Winter?  That’s a tricky question to answer, and it’s tricky precisely for the reason that Collins isn’t a one trick pony.  Allow me to explain. Continue reading

In the Dead of Winter

The Dead of Winter
Lee Collins
Angry Robot Books
UK Print ISBN: 9780857662712
Format: Medium Paperback R.R.P.: £8.99
US/CAN Print ISBN: 9780857662729
Format: Large Paperback R.R.P.: US$14.99 CAN$16.99
Ebook ISBN: 9780857662736
Format: Epub & Mobi R.R.P.: £5.49 / US$6.99
UK Print & Ebook | Book Depository Waterstones
US Print & Ebook |
DRM-Free Epub Ebook
Robot Trading Company

“Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway.”
John Wayne

The above quote from John Wayne, which I lifted from The Dead of Winter, is a perfect fit for this book.  This is one of the best novels I’ve read all year, and I’ve been fortunate to have read more good ones than bad ones.  This novel is an excellent example of authorial misdirection that really works.

This book takes place in a slightly altered version of the Wild West, where supernatural creatures exist.  They’re not widespread, meaning you don’t trip over them every time you turn around like in some fantasies, but they are out there.  Cora Oglesby and her husband Ben are bounty hunters, and very selective bounty huners at that.  They specialize in supernatural creatures such as werewolves, hellhounds, vampires, and those sorts of things.

They’ve come to the town of Leadville, Colorado, at the request of the marshall.  Something vicious has killed two people, and he fears there will be more deaths.  He’s right about there being more deaths, and not all of them will come from the creature that’s made its first kill.

I’m hesitant to give too many details, because there’s a twist towards the end, and it’s a biggie.  Many of the things you take for granted aren’t as they appear.  The thing that annoys me is that all the signs were there, and I picked up on most of them.  I just didn’t connect the dots.  Collins did an effective job of distracting me, just like a stage magician when he doesn’t want your attention on certain things.  (I’m annoyed at myself, BTW, not at Lee Collins.  Him I’m impressed with.)

The characters talk like you would imagine characters in a Western would talk.  I’m sure Collins had to turn off his grammer checker.  For the most part, this helped pull me into the story.  A few times it was slightly annoying, but for the most part, I didn’t find it overdone.

What I did find annoying was how the viewpoint would sometimes shift between characters in the same scene.  I don’t mind multiple viewpoints in a novel, but I prefer the same viewpoint character in a chapter.  But that’s just me.  Your mileage may vary.

These are minor quibbles.  Overall, I found this a compelling story that didn’t go in the directions I expected it would.  Collins’ prose pulled me in and helped me to inhabit the story.  This is a fantastic blend of western and horror, a fine addition to the subgenre of weird western.  If your tastes run to weird westerns, monster hunting, or some combination of the two, then you’ll want to pick this one up.

There’s a sequel, She Returns From War, that’s due out on January 29 in the States and Canada and a few days later in the UK.  I’m looking forward to it.

One bit of editorializing, if I may.  Angry Robot normally only accepts agented manuscripts, but once a year for the last couple of years, they’ve had a brief window in which they allow submission of unagented manuscripts.  The Dead of Winter is one of those books.  I’ve heard enough stories about how hard it is to get representation these days to know that many fine books never get past an agent, never mind an editor.  Makes you wonder what we’ve missed because of the gatekeepers.

December’s Agenda

Finals start this week, so things will probably be hectic until around the 14th.  My only final is Friday morning, but I’ve got a new lab manual to edit and send to the publisher by then.  All of which means that posting here is going to be sporadic.  I may post for two or three days straight, then not have anything new for a week or more.  ‘Tis the season.

Here’s what I’ve got lined up as far as novels go.  The Desert of Souls by Howard Andrew Jones is first up, followed by The Dead of Winter by Lee Collins.  After that, it will be two science fiction novels, The Creative Fire by Brenda Cooper and Apollo’s Outcasts by Allen Steele. I’ll post those reviews over at Futures Past and Present.  There are a couple of forthcoming novels I’ve committed to review, plus 3 from Angry Robot that I had intended to review in August before moving threw my schedule into chaos.  Those will probably wait until January since none of the forthcoming titles have release dates before then.

I want to spend the rest of December getting caught up on stuff I’ve had on the shelf for a while that I haven’t been able to get to:  some sword and sorcery, a few historical novels and collections, a lot of space opera, and some Henry Kuttner I’ve been wanting to either read or reread.  Plus some noir, and The Bones of the Old Ones, the sequel to The Desert of Souls.  I doubt I’ll be able to read all of that in the few weeks I’ll have, but I’m going to try.  Of course, I’ll review some short fiction, too.

I’m not going to accept requests for reviews, nor will I be asking for many review copies over the next couple of months.  I’ve mentioned a Sooper Seekrit Project a couple of times before.  There are actually two now.  I should be able to make one public by the end of the month; the other, I’m not sure when I can announce.  In both cases, these are things I’ve been invited to participate in, and I’m really excited about them.  There will be some changes here and at Futures Past and Present because of these projects, but I’ll wait until I can announce the projects before I discuss how my personal blogs will change.