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Hawks kill – does the sky?

A Killing Sky by Andy Strada

A Netgalley review

This is no.6 in the PI series about Frank Pavlicek and his sidekick Toronto.

I found that there were lots of different elements in this story with lots of clues but also lots of hidden motives that you don’t discover until some way into the book/story. I did really enjoy the story and the style of the writing and shall read more. I give it 4 stars.

As it happens the author -Strada – is a falconer and so he makes his detective Pavlicek one too. The detective’s hawk is called Armistead and is a red-tailed hawk. Not a familiar type of hawk to us British so I needed to look it up. Note the pun on the title here with hawks flying down to kill from the sky…

It seems that as is common with hawks, the female is the larger bird and that it mates with a tiercel – which means 1/3 in old French as the male is 1/3 of the size of the female.

In the book several types of hawks or birds of prey are mentioned and here is a short list – I hope I haven’t missed any: Info and photos mainly from

Red tailed hawk: The Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) is a bird of prey, one of three species colloquially known in the United States as the “chickenhawk, It is one of the largest members of the genus Buteo in North America, typically weighing from 690 to 1600 grams (1.5 to 3.5 pounds) and measuring 45–65 cm (18 to 26 in) in length, with a wingspan from 110 to 145 cm (43 to 57 in). The Red-tailed Hawk displays sexual dimorphism in size, with females averaging about 25% heavier than









Goshawk: The Northern Goshawk (pronounced /ˈɡɒs.hɔːk/, from Old English gōsheafoc, “goose-hawk”), Accipiter gentilis, is a medium-large bird of prey in the family Accipitridae. The Goshawk has long been the favourite hunting bird here in the UK. The Goshawks from southern and central Europe tend to be smaller in size and flying weight than birds from areas like Finland and Russia.goshawk






Peregrine: Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus), also known as the Peregrine, and historically as the “Duck Hawk” in North America, is a cosmopolitan bird of prey in the family Falconidae. It is a large, crow-sized falcon, with a blue-gray back, barred white underparts, and a black head and “moustache”. It can reach speeds over 320 km/h (200 mph) in a stoop, making it one of the fastest creatures on the planet. As is common with bird-eating raptors, the female is much bigger than the male.peregrine




Gyrfalcon: The Gyrfalcon (pronounced /ˈdʒɜrfɔːlkən/ or /ˈdʒɜrfælkən/; also spelled gerfalcon) Falco rusticolus is the largest of the falcon species. gyr









Eagle: eagle


American eagles of course are wonderful large birds. I have been lucky enough to see them myself in Florida when I went to the space shuttle area and they were perching on almost every post..


Sharp-skinned hawk: sharp skin













Woodland Accipiters: Within the Accipitridae family, the Eurasian sparrowhawk is a member of the large genus Accipiter, which consists of small to medium-sized woodland hawks. Most of the Old World members of the genus are called sparrowhawks or goshawks. sparrowhawk





Sparrowhawks will kill small birds as well as pigeons etc and often live in urban areas as do peregrines now. We have had a sparrowhawk nesting for many years two roads across from me, and my university was one of the first places in London that peregrines were spotted nesting on a window ledge on a tower block.

Now there was also mention of Saratoga water which also intrigued me. but in fact it turned out to be just a brand of spring water…

The age of the writing / writer was unfortunately shown when there mention of technology after all floppy disks have never been compatible with cell phones and certainly not a pocket sized cell phone. Maybe he was referring to stick drives? Or the very small types of hard drive storage that can be hidden in key fobs and so on. No computer – except those in museums still have floppy drives! And also file deletion is never really complete as our computer hackers/experts in retrieval will tell you. This is why so many firms who delete incriminating emails find themselves in court when those files are actually retrieved.

In youth we learn, in age we understand  Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach was an Austrian who has many famous quotes.

Nationality: Austrian
Type: Novelist
Born: September 13, 1830
Died: March 12, 1916



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Wedding fever is an illness for sure

Bride without a groom


Amy Lynch

3 stars.

Netgalley review

I really don’t get this obsession with the perfect wedding day that small girls plan from childhood. Is it a US phenomenon? Does it happen in the UK? It certainly didn’t in my childhood.

In fact I didn’t plan marriage at all – until I went to university and then decided that the late 30s was best but definitely not until then. Sure enough I was just 22 when I actually married!

But, I insisted on no meringue dress. No big wedding hair – I put my own hair into 6 big rollers to create ringlets. No coronet and no veil – just a big floppy hat and cream and lilac Victorian style dress.P1000674 modd2

I don’t remember ever reading a Bride magazine and certainly I didn’t lust after an engagement ring. So this whole topic wasn’t of any interest to me.

That said, you begin to feel very sorry for the heroine with her obsession that was fed by TV and celebrity culture fetish. And the competition that arises to have the ‘best’ wedding ever. And to marry when your friends marry. And to have a designer wedding dress eg by Vera Wang. And to compete on cakes and rings and then there are those wedding fairs.

The cost of a wedding in the UK is now running at around £21,000 and many couples are living together and having children whilst waiting to save up for this and the big blow-out honeymoon (We had a weekend in Hastings as I was due to have an operation on the Monday and couldn’t fly, so Paris was cancelled).

So the book shows well just how sad it is to get sucked into these ways of thinking. And that even the potential grooms understand that it is no use trying to stop these runaway wedding plans once a female has them in her head.

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Scream Girl Scream

Susannah Screaming by Carolyn Weston

A Netgalley Review

The book from which the TV programme and film ‘Streets of San Francisco’ was derived

I find it interesting that really apart from the occasional mention of triplicate copies and typewriters, how easily this book translates into a modern story. Well crafted stories can stand the test of time, and this is well crafted.

It is a police procedural set, obviously, in San Francisco, around the 1960s with the Haight Ashbury area just setting up shop and parties that take place in strangely decorated homes with funny cigarettes and a distinct lack of forensics – apart from Haight-Ashbury_street,_San_Franciscofingerprints and maybe saliva.

We have the now, common, police partners with different personalities and reactions to crime and criminal behaviours.

We have corruption, bullying and some drugs and guns of course, this being the USA. And little understanding of the hippy scene with its tolerances for what was then considered deviant behaviours by the police and other members of society. Much of it centred around the art and music world. And those wannabes who wanted to be part of this hip world but just a little too old and thus considered as not quite one of the scene.

As a well written story I must give it four and if it had been written today I would have given it more for getting the atmosphere of those times right! However, as it was actually written in this era it certainly echoed the sentiments and is worth reading as somewhat of a classic police procedural that set the target for those that followed.


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Classroom antics and Southern prejudice

Girl meets Class


Karin Gillespie

A Netgalley Review


Teaching in deprived areas is very much a challenge to a newly qualified teacher, and add to that, teaching those with educational difficulties and the challenge is doubled. How can I be sure this is true? Well. Because my first and second teaching posts were in areas that were far from middle-class, clean and salubrious. Rather I was teaching in schools where the children came from difficult home backgrounds.

I can justify this statement as in my second school I went on a training course so that I learnt to teach classes in baby and child-care to our many pregnant or new made mothers – it was a very popular class with regular attendance!

And in my first job I home tutored a young pregnant pupil, so young mothers were common in both areas – even though they were in different towns.

Additionally, in my first school I taught the class of pupils who needed life skills rather than history or geography. Lessons were about filling in forms and calculating change and making out shopping lists. And yes, I have been threatened by a pupil, who then went onto to punch the teacher who came to rescue me. So this story really resonated with my own experience- except that my experience was perhaps even more distressing – though the pupils’ homes I visited were largely in better condition.

In my second school, I found that the way to get the large lads reading was to provide them with comics. Today, I guess they would be the comic books that are popular or even computer games where they are required to read and type. Play to what interests them and also play games in class that are slyly educational whilst also being fun.

So, from the point of view of someone who has experienced the same situation, the book resonated.

Of course, teaching experience aside, the book is a light frothy chick read. With enough romance to satisfy.

What was however, disturbing, was the description of racial discrimination and prejudice that apparently still exists in Southern US States. To still have private clubs where black people are denied membership but are the majority of employees reinforces what we see on TV about the number of black males who are shot for no apparent reason other than their race and the fact that the police have guns available to them. To hear about the racial slurs that people in inter-racial relationships are called, and that they would be shunned by certain sections of the population was very distressing. It just reinforces our perceptions that Southern US can be a backward uncivilised area and somewhere you would not want to live. Weather aside of course – which would also be a real no-no.

So, is the book good? Well, there are some interesting social and cultural issues that are introduced in a light way but are there for us to notice – if we can. For this reason alone, I would recommend this book. But it is also a romance and a description of the coming of adulthood and adult behaviour of a spoiled child and adolescent with emotional difficulties and issues in relating to others. All of which are hidden in an easy flowing style and text.

So 4 stars for content and dealing with important issues within the story.

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Canaries out of work

The Major’s Faux Fiancée


Erica Ridley

A Netgalley review

This author is definitely the successor to Georgette Heyer in writing Regency romances but with a soupcon of sex.

There is a well portrayed female who takes up ‘causes’ but actually doesn’t quite understand the full consequences or the complete reasons behind the sad stories, but rather follows and champions those who shout the loudest eg about income tax.

Additionally she was naive about how to achieve successful societal change – not realising that you need power and influence. She knew that she, as a women writing letters, would not be considered so rather she gave herself male names to sign her letters. But a sheltered clergyman’s daughter of that time did not have a full education about politics and economics, and did not realise what was really needed – and this was brought out later in the story.

I would have appreciated a little explanation, for the uninformed reader, as why these issues had arisen. I knew some of them. For instance home weavers’ jobs had seriously declined due to the automation of weaving in mills, and that income tax had been needed to pay for the Napoleonic Wars. But what was the problem with the Davy Lamp? Other than that canaries were no longer required?

So off I trotted to the Internet to find out about the Davy Lamp.davy lamp

I knew that the Davy Lamp was used in coal mines to detect the presence of gases which could harm the miners. The gas that was detected  was methane and tended to occur in small pockets as the mines grew deeper.

The final design was very simple: a basic lamp with a wire gauze chimney enclosing the flame. The holes let light pass through, but the metal of the gauze absorbs the heat.  The lamp is safe to use because the flame can’t heat enough flammable gas to cause an explosion, although the flame itself will change colour. []

Once the lamp was put into production, deaths in mining decreased dramatically, however, deeper mines could then be dug which increased the danger although but not as much as before. One can only assume that the complaints were coming from miners who had to then dig further into the mines, but the lamps were not faulty nor directly at fault.

There were also the protests about income tax.  This was a result of the changes that had been implemented in the late 18th century. Previously, tax was paid on land and everyone who had land whether gentry or tradespeople or innkeepers all [aid it. Additionally indirect tax was paid in the form of excise duties – custom duties we would think of them now or VAT. Household necessities such as salt, candles, soap etc were all taxed as were luxury items such as horses, silk, wines etc. These excise duties varied according to the need for money by the Govt and during the Napolenic wars of course, many items could not be shipped into the UK legally – hence the increase in smuggling during this period.

With the coming of war and the ideas of Adam Smith, taxes were rationalised and new taxes introduced. There was some protest but as corruption was also dealt with revenue for the Govt increased until 1793 when the first Napoleonic war started. To pay for this war higher taxes were required. An inheritance tax and an income tax were introduced and were very unpopular as you can imagine. It was considered intrusive and impolite to know what people were earning – and it is still not something people in Britain are happy to share with others – but after a time it was realised that the war needed financing and it became a sign of support and patriotic duty to pay the taxes.

I give this 3 stars with the potential for 4 r even 5 if these real historical issues are properly discussed rather than alluded to and requiring the reader to enquire further.


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