Review of Edita A. Petrick’s Ribbons of Death…

(Edita A. Petrick, Ribbons of Death (2nd ed.), Peacetaker series #1, 2017)

I suspect this started with a play on words. We all know what peacemaker means, but what is a peacetaker? You can find out in detail by reading this sci-fi/fantasy/mystery/thriller. I’ll start by explaining the genre overlap. The sciences are archaeology and linguistics. The fantasy is a curse that has affected several ancient civilizations. The mystery is in how it is now affecting our modern world…and why. The thriller is in trying to stop people from being murdered by the peacetaker.

That’s quite a lot for a plot, but the author handles it well. She goes too deep into the archaeological/linguistic narrative with the ex-prof who is the main character and wrote a book about the curse—I skipped a lot of that once I got the gist. The subtitle of every chapter also contains some ancient historical reference that I usually didn’t understand—maybe the author saying, “I did a lot of research for this”? The ex-prof is a solid character. Her on-again-off-again romantic interest isn’t—he’s a thriller stereotype, shallow but violent. I believe both continue on in the series—the ex-prof should have dumped him.

What the peacetaker does is scary—he makes people go mad. (I wonder if one was operating in Las Vegas. Nah. That was just one guy. The peacetaker makes whole crowds of people go mad and try to kill each other.) There’s some fantastic gobbledygook about “why” this happens that never makes much sense—because it borders on magic, it’s pure fantasy and akin to werewolves going wild with a full moon, and I hate stories about werewolves, especially the Twilight series.

The plot moves along in spite of the narrative overload mentioned above (especially if you skip most of it). It held my interest for the most part, and there’s a nice twist at the end involving that nasty peacetaker. This is basically a road-trip story where the womansplaining ex-prof takes her mansplaining hunk around the country trying to prove her theories about the peacetaker, and he tries to prove her wrong. There’s a nice hook at the beginning when that soldier-of-fortune stereotype also goes mad in a crowd affected by the peacetaker. The hunk’s scars from his injuries play a small role in the story, as well as the stereotypical ambivalence of a feebie who’s contracted that soldier-of-fortune  (he’s torn between obeying the ex-prof and the feebie, of course). There’s an evil rich guy as villain in this story too, generally skulking around in the wings like some ghoulish phantom of the opera. You don’t actually know for sure he’s the villain. Is the peacetaker ultimately controlled by him? Does the villain get what he deserves? You’ll have to read the book to find out. No spoilers here.

I’ll make two additional comments about this ebook. Although I purchased it, qualifying me to write a review from Amazon’s viewpoint (although I generally have no problem if I start out by saying I obtained a free copy in exchange for an honest review), the author provides a warning about Amazon review practices at the end of the book. FYI: Amazon generally doesn’t care about the length or quality of reviews; they only want a star-rating so they can calculate their stats. To their credit, they don’t want biased stats, but that’s practically impossible, especially with the large numbers in this case—readers interpret that star-rating differently, and how many people write a review if they have nothing good to say about a book? I’ve only had a few, but then again I don’t have many reviews.

I’m surprised the author thinks she has problems with reviews—this book has many more than I think is necessary to provide the buying public enough info about the book (hopefully from the reviews, not Amazon’s biased star-rank). 20 or so is all that’s needed, folks, except for Amazon, who thinks a bigger number makes their stats more reliable. It doesn’t, because beyond 20 or so, we just see a bandwagon effect. That new TV series The Wisdom of the Crowd doesn’t apply to music or books: the crowd has no wisdom when it comes to reviewing books or music. Too many readers are like viewers of American Idol and Dancing with the Stars, ready to jump on a popularity bandwagon, often without much regard for any aspect relating to quality (one can argue that the judges on those shows don’t know squat either, but I won’t go down that rabbit hole in TV’s crazy Wonderland any farther). Conclusion: This review won’t be posted to Amazon, but only because the author says she doesn’t want it to be posted there.

The second comment is about the standard practice among authors who try to jumpstart a series by offering #1 at a reduced price. Smart marketing or not, if the novel looks interesting, I’ll bite because I love to discover new authors and their books, especially if they’re Big Five authors with ebooks almost as expensive at their normal prices as the paper or hardbound versions. In some cases, I’ll continue to read other books in the series, although a major cliffhanger at the end of #1 stops that cold. But authors should realize it’s not necessarily a smart marketing strategy to put #1 on sale—a series often gets better because the writer gets better, so maybe the sale price should be on the last entry in the series, not the first? I’m not sure about the answer to that for this book because of the few flaws noted above. However, at the sale price of $0.99, I recommend you try it. I did. Most of it was fun and interesting—good R&R from my own writing that went down well with my Jameson whiskey. (Geez, the new television shows this season still suck!)


Rembrandt’s Angel (Penmore Press). How far would you go to recover a missing masterpiece? Have great fun this fall reading about the adventures of Scotland Yard’s Art and Antiques Inspector Esther Brookstone and her paramour/sidekick, Interpol agent Bastiann van Coevorden. Esther becomes obsessed with recovering Rembrandt’s “An Angel with Titus’ Features,” a painting stolen by the Nazis for Hitler’s museum. The crime-fighting duo goes after the painting and those currently possessing the painting, but the whole caper becomes much more dangerous as they uncover a conspiracy that threatens the security of Europe. With all the danger, their budding romance becomes full-blown. This book is available as an ebook on Amazon, Smashwords, Kobo, B&N, and Apple, and also as a print book from Amazon and your local bookstore (if they don’t have it, ask for them to order it). Check out the review and interview at Feathered Quill.

In libris libertas….

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