Book News: The Passing of Two Literary Giants, Tribute to Dwayne McDuffie, Signs of a Reading Slump & More!


Harper Lee
On the passing of this bestselling and renowned author.

Umberto Eco
Italian scholar and bestselling author dies at 84.

Bad Sex
The breakdown on bad sex scenes (and they’re are many) in literature.

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11/09/11 On the Bookshelf . . . “The Prague Cemetery” & “The Chronicles of Harris Burdick”

Prague Cemetery    Chronicles of Harris Burdick

The new one from Umberto Eco, which sounds real interesting, and maybe I’ll finally read my first Umberto Eco book!  And then we have a certain well known book by Chris Van Allsberg with some truly unforgettable images, and Stephen King happened to write a great short story off of one of them in Nightmares & Dreamscapes, and now 13 other authors have done the same and we have this great collection of stories on these images, featuring original writing by Sherman Alexie, Kate DiCamillo, Cory Doctorow, and more.

“Death and the Devil” by Frank Schatzing [Translated by Mike Mitchell] (William Morrow, 2007)

Death and the Devilstarstarstar

With the runaway success of The Swarm originally in Europe and now in the United States, Death and the Devil, Shatzing’s first novel, has been translated and published.  It’s a medieval thriller; a murder mystery set with the back drop of thirteenth century Cologne.  This is a completely different genre and story line for Schatzing after the sci-fi/horror of The Swarm, nevertheless he delivers his unique storytelling style in Death and the Devil.

It is the year 1260, and the crowning achievement of Cologne – the great cathedral reaching to the heavens – is almost complete.  Its architect, Gerhard Morart, is a proud and respected man in the city.  That is until he is pushed from the one of the windows high up in his beloved cathedral.  He plunges to his death, whisper two words in his crushed form, and then dies.  The people of Cologne believe it an accident or suicide, except for one young boy, Jacob the Fox – so called because of his noticeable red hair – who happened to be sitting in a tree stealing apples when Morart fell.  Only Jacob saw Morart high up in the cathedral and he also saw the black shadow behind push the architect out of the window.

Now Jacob is on the run from this shadow that he believes is somehow the devil, chasing him, and will not stop until he is dead.  Jacob must use the city to his advantage, make as many allies as he can, and always keep one step ahead of this chasing shadow, or he will be done for.  The shadow is in fact a cold-hearted killer, a cruel assassin who will not stop killing until all proof of Morart’s murder is erased.

And so the chase continues set in the richly detailed medieval city in the style and texture of Umberto Eco’s Name of the Rose, as well as Ken Follett’s Pillars of the Earth; Death and the Devil is a story that will both educate and terrorize the reader, for Schatzing has done his research well: the reader will learn of medieval life in a big city, the different classes, the power of the nobles over the poor, the power of the church; at the same time they will be biting their nails in fear and excitement each time Jacob the Fox barely escapes the cruel black nails of the man he believes is the devil.  Death and the Devil is a thriller that will delight any fan of this genre.

If you liked this review and are interested in purchasing this book, click here.

Originally written on August 17th 2007 ©Alex C. Telander.