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Return to a twisted version of Jazz Age New York in this follow up to the critically acclaimed fantasy Westside, as relentless sleuth Gilda Carr’s pursuit of tiny mysteries drags her into a case that will rewrite everything she knows about her past. Six months ago, the ruined Westside of Manhattan erupted into civil war, and private detective Gilda Carr nearly died to save Return to a twisted version of Jazz Age New York in this follow up to the critically acclaimed fantasy Westside, as relentless sleuth Gilda Carr’s pursuit of tiny mysteries drags her into a case that will rewrite everything she knows about her past. Six months ago, the ruined Westside of Manhattan erupted into civil war, and private detective Gilda Carr nearly died to save her city. In 1922, winter has hit hard, and the desolate Lower West is frozen solid. Like the other lost souls who wander these overgrown streets, Gilda is weary, cold, and desperate for hope. She finds a mystery instead. Hired by a family of eccentric street preachers to recover a lost saint’s finger, Gilda is tempted by their promise of “electric resurrection,” when the Westside’s countless dead will return to life. To a detective this cynical, faith is a weakness, and she is fighting the urge to believe in miracles when her long dead mother, Mary Fall, walks through the parlor door. Stricken with amnesia, Mary remembers nothing of her daughter or her death, but that doesn’t stop her from being as infuriatingly pushy as Gilda herself. As her mother threatens to drive her insane, Gilda keeps their relationship a secret so that they can work together to investigate what brought Mary back to life. The search will force Gilda to reckon with the nature of death, family, and the uncomfortable fact that her mother was not just a saint, but a human being.


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Return to a twisted version of Jazz Age New York in this follow up to the critically acclaimed fantasy Westside, as relentless sleuth Gilda Carr’s pursuit of tiny mysteries drags her into a case that will rewrite everything she knows about her past. Six months ago, the ruined Westside of Manhattan erupted into civil war, and private detective Gilda Carr nearly died to save Return to a twisted version of Jazz Age New York in this follow up to the critically acclaimed fantasy Westside, as relentless sleuth Gilda Carr’s pursuit of tiny mysteries drags her into a case that will rewrite everything she knows about her past. Six months ago, the ruined Westside of Manhattan erupted into civil war, and private detective Gilda Carr nearly died to save her city. In 1922, winter has hit hard, and the desolate Lower West is frozen solid. Like the other lost souls who wander these overgrown streets, Gilda is weary, cold, and desperate for hope. She finds a mystery instead. Hired by a family of eccentric street preachers to recover a lost saint’s finger, Gilda is tempted by their promise of “electric resurrection,” when the Westside’s countless dead will return to life. To a detective this cynical, faith is a weakness, and she is fighting the urge to believe in miracles when her long dead mother, Mary Fall, walks through the parlor door. Stricken with amnesia, Mary remembers nothing of her daughter or her death, but that doesn’t stop her from being as infuriatingly pushy as Gilda herself. As her mother threatens to drive her insane, Gilda keeps their relationship a secret so that they can work together to investigate what brought Mary back to life. The search will force Gilda to reckon with the nature of death, family, and the uncomfortable fact that her mother was not just a saint, but a human being.

30 review for Westside Saints

  1. 5 out of 5

    Will Byrnes

    …she told about the coming resurrection, when our dead would rise from their graves and walk the Westside streets. --------------------------------------- A Westsider should know better. The dead do not return; grief does not subside. Our memories fade, until those we loved are no more real than paper saints on a wall. You can’t keep a good man down, or, apparently, a bad one. There seem to be some issues on the Westside around the dearly departed staying that way. Gilda Carr, the PI who found …she told about the coming resurrection, when our dead would rise from their graves and walk the Westside streets. --------------------------------------- A Westsider should know better. The dead do not return; grief does not subside. Our memories fade, until those we loved are no more real than paper saints on a wall. You can’t keep a good man down, or, apparently, a bad one. There seem to be some issues on the Westside around the dearly departed staying that way. Gilda Carr, the PI who found herself in some very strange sorts of peril in the 2019 release, Westside, that entailed a near civil war in the city, and a connection to a very strange place, is back for another go. The reimagined 1921 Westside of Manhattan from the first book remains extremely odd in 1922. Originally, Westside was imagined as a straight mystery, but as I found myself writing the early chapters, it occurred to me that the street scenes I was writing felt eerily empty. I wondered why that might be, and gradually (over the course of two or three very painful drafts) evolved the concept of a city where the Westside is desolate and isolated and the Eastside is vastly overcrowded. - from the Bidwell Hollow interviewIt still has a three story fence separating East from West, and some unusual characteristics that differ between the two sides. Things mechanical tend to fare poorly on the Western side, guns included, and the local flora tends to grow at an accelerated rate. Well, add one more touch of weirdness, as the Byrd family, long time cleric sorts, who spend considerable time and effort aiding the unfortunate, have been promising their parishioners, and any who will listen, that they will be holding a revivification lottery. Come on down to their place of worship, The Electric Church, buy a chance, and maybe your special passed-on-person can be brought back from the other side. Electric Resurrection they call it. Cash only. W.M. Akers – image from Chapter16.org Gilda smells a rat. This is a bit much, even for the Westside, despite the strangeness she encountered first-hand in the first Westside book. As usual, she takes on a tiny case, looking for a very specific color for Enoch Byrd, a member of that clerical family, to which Byrd’s mother adds a search for the missing relic of a saint that was kept at their church. But Gilda’s small investigations tend to grow into epic life and death struggles, so of course… A notorious preacher has returned. Apparently, at about the same time, a woman has as well. A woman who somehow finds her way to Gilda’s home, looking for help, a woman who is all of twenty-one years of age, a woman with a keen wit and a driving, acerbic personality, a woman trying to find out what has happened to her boyfriend, who’d mysteriously disappeared, a woman who happens to be Gilda’s late mother, Mary Hall, nicely fitted out with amnesia and a wardrobe that seems a bit out of date. Insert Louis Black double take here, complete with bouncing jowls. So, where the first book in this series centered to a large degree around Gilda’s relationship with her father, this one focuses on her maternal lineage. There is a third book in the works. One wonders if more family members will be called on in that one. I can certainly imagine a successful Westside series volume some years down the line bringing in cousins once-removed. Gilda decides it is best to keep their future relationship under wraps for the moment, to better allow the two of them to work together. Well, working together may be putting it too kindly, as Mary keeps dragging Gilda about and complaining about her near total uselessness. How Gilda endures her returned mother, while trying to keep her from awareness of their relationship is a wonderful bit of fun. It is quite clear that Akers loves New York. But he is not exactly a native. I was born and raised in Nashville, Tenn. As early as six, I remember wanting to live in New York City—this probably had something to do with obsessive rewatching of Home Alone 2 and the fact that Eloise was one of my favorite childhood reads. Even after I learned that living in New York usually doesn’t mean life at the Plaza Hotel, I was infatuated with the city, where I moved for college in 2006… One of the many reasons why I’m thrilled to continue working on the Gilda Carr series is to give me a chance to hang out with my own imagined version of New York—where, coincidentally, the rent is very low. - from the Bidwell Hollow interviewLike many erstwhile New Yorkers, he was driven out by the excessive cost of living there, and now makes his home in Philadelphia, no doubt at a more brotherly rent. The visuals are great fun, as in volume one. One drinking establishment, Berk’s Third Floor, lacks electricity and heat, and operates in a building from which a considerable portion of the exterior structure has disappeared. Be careful where you step. It does, however, offer alcohol, a substance unavailable on the East side. Another, The Basement Club, operates underground, barely, offering a novel way to purchase the only drink in the house. I paid my nickel and cupped my hands under the hose, slurping up whatever didn’t run through my fingers. I wiped my hands on the patron to my left, who was glassy with drink, his mouth stained bloody by the beet red liquor. Local color abounds, tending toward the bluish, from the tiny mystery of Gilda trying to find a very specific shade of blue for a client, to an eldritch, and seemingly far too coherent, stream of crackling blue light that has peculiar qualities, to the color of one’s lips as winter takes its toll. That special bridge comes into play, as does the Roebling family, bridge builders of note, who might not be thrilled with their portrayal here. Unpleasant winter weather plays a role, as the tough winter at the beginning of the book takes a turn for the historical towards the end, in its level of cold, wind, snow, and misery. We get a further taste of the deep corruption that flows through the Westside, and a look at the source of some of that corruption, on the Eastside. Brooklyn Bridge during a major blizzard – image from Wikipedia The cast of supporting characters is colorful and marvelous, as in Westside. Akers has succeeded in merging history, fantasy, and mystery, to concoct a wonderful take on old and imagined New York, and placing within it a compelling whodunit. There are very few saints in the Westside (any Westside without Zabar’s is decidedly unholy anyway), although there is one Cherub. Gilda will certainly not be offering herself for canonization, but you will enjoy hanging out with her. If you are fond of being transported (in a good way) to a strange but familiar place, crave a bit of mystery, and enjoy it all served with a chilled bowl of fantasy, you have come to the right place. Westside Saints is an infernally fun read. All I want is to help people—give them food, shelter, a midwife, a chance. But all that costs a hell of a lot of money, and crime is the only thing that pays. Review posted – May 8, 2020 Publication date – May 5, 2020 ----------May 5, 2020 - hardcover ----------April 13, 2021 - trade paperback =============================EXTRA STUFF Links to the author’s personal and Twitter pages and to his very fun newsletter, Strange Times Interviews - came across very little pertaining specifically to book #2 -----Harper Voyager - Live with W.M. Akers on Westside - Angela Craft -----Bidwell Hollow - W.M. Akers Dives Into a Divided New York City in His Debut Novel by Nicholas Barron My review of the first book in the series, Westside Items of Interest -----New Yok Times – March 13, 1888 - In A Blizzard’s Grasp -----Akers produces a newsletter/site that explores the weirdest news of 1921, one day at a time - Strange Times - check it out -----Crimereads.com - Tiny Mysteries From the Files of the New York Times - an intro to the above by the author with some fun samples -----John A. Roebling - designer of the Brooklyn Bridge ----- There is a Roebling Museum, but it is located in neither Brooklyn nor Manhattan, where one might expect it, but in Roebling, NJ, about 70 miles (about a three hour drive) from the bridge that brought them global renown. Of course, the Roeblings were involved in the construction of many bridges, including the Golden Gate.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Linda

    Gilda Carr specializes in tiny mysteries. But sometimes those tiny mysteries take on a life of their own. Westside Saints opens a creaking door on the cold, dark streets of winter in New York City in 1922. Our gal Gilda lives in a broken down abode in which the temperatures within are almost the same as the temperatures without. Gilda has been hired to locate the missing finger of a saintly saint honored by a street preacher family. The relic appears to have been stolen and it is a vital part of Gilda Carr specializes in tiny mysteries. But sometimes those tiny mysteries take on a life of their own. Westside Saints opens a creaking door on the cold, dark streets of winter in New York City in 1922. Our gal Gilda lives in a broken down abode in which the temperatures within are almost the same as the temperatures without. Gilda has been hired to locate the missing finger of a saintly saint honored by a street preacher family. The relic appears to have been stolen and it is a vital part of the group's belief in an "electric resurrection". They firmly believe that many of the Westside's dead will be returning to life. Bunk, you say. But then Gilda's long dead mother appears on her doorstep suffering from complete amnesia. Gilda holds back her identity when her mother fails to recognize her. Together, they will drive each other crazy trying to unravel the hidden secret of Mary's sudden arrival. Westside Saints can be read as a standalone. However, there's much benefit from reading the first book in the series, Westside, which takes us heavily into the young gangs of New York. We get more of a feel for Gilda and the peculiar characters in her inner circle. It's also important to note that this is fantasy and a quirky mind trip into the turning of the last century. W.M. Akers gets even more creative in this one with humorous dialogue and wavy plot points. Perhaps not for everyone, but for those who enjoy historical fiction with a bit of a romp, Westside Saints takes us on a magic carpet ride Manhattan style. I received a copy of this book through Goodreads Giveaways. My thanks to Harper Voyager (Harper Collins Publishers) and to W. M. Akers for the opportunity.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Lauren Stoolfire

    I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Westside Saints by W.M. Akers is a fantastic follow up to last year's Westside. It's great being back in Gilda's world of alternate 1920s New York City. Historical fantasy is one of my favorite genres and a magical Jazz Age is one of my personal favorites, especially when they're set in an atmospheric metropolis such as NYC. Just like the last time around there's so much to love about this story, its characters, and its setting. T I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Westside Saints by W.M. Akers is a fantastic follow up to last year's Westside. It's great being back in Gilda's world of alternate 1920s New York City. Historical fantasy is one of my favorite genres and a magical Jazz Age is one of my personal favorites, especially when they're set in an atmospheric metropolis such as NYC. Just like the last time around there's so much to love about this story, its characters, and its setting. This time around Gilda is determined to stick to solve her tiny mysteries - the concept as those is still just as fascinating - but she unexpectedly finds herself in the middle of something bigger and closer to home than she could have expected involving saints, miracles, resurrections, and her long deceased mother. I particularly enjoyed getting to meet Mary, Gilda's newly restored to life mother. You can really see where Gilda gets her pushiness, inquisitiveness, determination, and cynicism, that's for sure. And, dealing with her mother is just about driving Gilda insane, even though Mary doesn't realize exactly who Gilda is to her. Honestly, though, that just makes their scenes together all the more priceless. It was fun getting to explore a little more of the world Aker's has created. His writing is so visually descriptive and the city just pops off the page. While I enjoyed seeing Gilda again, there are moments where slow pacing drags down the action and a few scenes nearer to the end that I needed to reread to clear up some initial confusion. Overall, though, I can't recommend the Westside series by W.M. Akers enough and I have a feeling that you'll want to try it if you also enjoy the styles of Neil Gaiman and Caleb Carr. I hope we'll get to see more of Gilda in the future. I'm looking forward to more of this author's future projects.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Traveling Cloak

    Westside Saints follows Detective Gilda Carr, solver of tiny mysteries that often turn into big ones, as she investigates a case that involves her own past. It really dark and atmospheric, and oftentimes felt really chaotic. I am sorry to say I struggled with this book for several reasons. First, it was so dark to the extent that there was no light at the end of the tunnel. I do not mind a dark, broody book just so long as there is a strand of hope written in the story somewhere. I did not really Westside Saints follows Detective Gilda Carr, solver of tiny mysteries that often turn into big ones, as she investigates a case that involves her own past. It really dark and atmospheric, and oftentimes felt really chaotic. I am sorry to say I struggled with this book for several reasons. First, it was so dark to the extent that there was no light at the end of the tunnel. I do not mind a dark, broody book just so long as there is a strand of hope written in the story somewhere. I did not really feel that when reading Westside Saints: everything felt extremely hopeless for everyone involved. Even at the end of the book when the mysteries are solved and everything falls into place, it just did not feel satisfactory. I think that is because along the way I never learned to care about the characters. For me, this usually comes when a character is in a tough situation, and they have something strong to fight for. I never experienced that situation in this book. The characters, their stories, trials, and tribulations never really connected with me; thus, when the end came it just kind of fell flat. The story also felt really chaotic and random at times. It also seemed like certain plot points, events, and even characters seemed almost like they were pulled out of a hat. By that, I mean there was too much chaos and randomness without meaning, in my opinion. I love chaos and randomness in a book, so long as it is done with some sort of underlying thread. I never felt that way reading Westside Saints, and that really took away from the story. Sorry, book friends, you are not going to get a recommendation from me this time. Just because I did not enjoy it, though, does not mean you will not. If the synopsis sounds intriguing to you, check it out. You might find you connect to the story more than I did.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Ric

    I’ve really enjoyed this series so far, and Westside Saints is just as good or maybe even better than its predecessor. Without spoiling the major reveals, this story went in a direction I didn’t expect at all, and I enjoyed it immensely. Gilda Carr is still a really good protagonist. Her POV is a ton of fun to read and she’s badass, intelligent, and resilient. Her meeting up with her dead mother to solve a mystery was super interesting. The plot was good, and I absolutely love the setting of thi I’ve really enjoyed this series so far, and Westside Saints is just as good or maybe even better than its predecessor. Without spoiling the major reveals, this story went in a direction I didn’t expect at all, and I enjoyed it immensely. Gilda Carr is still a really good protagonist. Her POV is a ton of fun to read and she’s badass, intelligent, and resilient. Her meeting up with her dead mother to solve a mystery was super interesting. The plot was good, and I absolutely love the setting of this series. An alternate 1920s NYC where west of Broadway is ravaged by crime, death, and disease is so cool. I would read as many books in this series as the author wants to write.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Christina

    I have very particular (some, including my husband, might say annoying) taste in my fantasy and sci fi books and movies. Must be more “Twilight Zone” than “Outer Limits.” Nothing taking place in space. (Exception of course for 2001: A Space Odyssey.) And absolutely no talking animals. (Exception of course for Animal Farm.) So I’m a tough customer. This book ticked all the boxes for me and was a delightful and beautiful read about a fictionalized Manhattan of the 1920s, which in this imagined wor I have very particular (some, including my husband, might say annoying) taste in my fantasy and sci fi books and movies. Must be more “Twilight Zone” than “Outer Limits.” Nothing taking place in space. (Exception of course for 2001: A Space Odyssey.) And absolutely no talking animals. (Exception of course for Animal Farm.) So I’m a tough customer. This book ticked all the boxes for me and was a delightful and beautiful read about a fictionalized Manhattan of the 1920s, which in this imagined world is divided strictly and divisive it into Eastside and Westside. (So, humorously, not TOTALLY inaccurate to reality.) Gilda Carr, our heroine, is a delightfully funny and tough broad who specializes in “tiny mysteries.” In this case, the book begins with the mystery of a stolen pickled finger of a saint. (Being a fan of all things weird in my mysteries, how could I not love this premise?) But much much more happens and snowballs after that, and I don’t want to give any of it away because the shock and the weirdness is a lot of fun. I loved the way this novel was written. Aside from the gorgeous prose, it also managed to be nostalgic and modern (and even a little futuristic?) all at the same time. Did I also mention it’s totally funny? Though filled with humor and weirdness there is decidedly nothing cozy about it. If you love New York, old-time lady detectives with suffrage era pluck, and a plot with a heavy dose of quirkiness you’re sure to enjoy this book. Be forewarned that the journey is non-linear, but very fun. Also, it has a lovely ending. Thanks to NetGalley, Harper Collins, and the very talented and funny W.M. Akers for the advance copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. This was my first W.M. Akers book, but it definitely won’t be my last.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Madeline

    I won a copy of this?! What??? I've never won anything in my life!! I'm so excited! I won a copy of this?! What??? I've never won anything in my life!! I'm so excited!

  8. 4 out of 5

    David Pomerico

    I'm biased, but I'd say this book is even better than Westside. Not only is Akers a more assured writer, Gilda is a more complete character and--most important--the mystery is even tighter. These books definitely stand on their own, so you can start here if you want and fall in love with how big the "tiny mysteries" become. I've always thought of these books as a mix of The Alienist and City & the City, and I stand by that--great mix of mystery and fantasy. I'm biased, but I'd say this book is even better than Westside. Not only is Akers a more assured writer, Gilda is a more complete character and--most important--the mystery is even tighter. These books definitely stand on their own, so you can start here if you want and fall in love with how big the "tiny mysteries" become. I've always thought of these books as a mix of The Alienist and City & the City, and I stand by that--great mix of mystery and fantasy.

  9. 4 out of 5

    WS_BOOKCLUB

    Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with this book in exchange for my honest opinion. This book is available now. I read this book without having read the first one in the series. I was able to follow the story-line without any problems, but I’m sure I would have appreciated it more if I’d read the first book. I put off writing this review for way too long because I wasn’t sure how to put all my thoughts into words. I’m still having that issue, but I think this review is just going to be a wei Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with this book in exchange for my honest opinion. This book is available now. I read this book without having read the first one in the series. I was able to follow the story-line without any problems, but I’m sure I would have appreciated it more if I’d read the first book. I put off writing this review for way too long because I wasn’t sure how to put all my thoughts into words. I’m still having that issue, but I think this review is just going to be a weird one. That works, because the book is best described as “weird.” I like a little weird, so that is in no way an insult. This book was a bit of a downer for me, to be honest. I found myself picturing the entire thing in varying shades of gray (even the things that were specifically described by color). I went into the book expecting light and funny, which wasn’t quite what I got. Gilda, the detective, was an intriguing character. I think I missed some character development in the first book, because she didn’t seem to grow all that much in this one. Her cynicism definitely got on my nerves from time to time. There was some quippy dialogue which I appreciated. I love a good quip. Or a bad quip. Pretty much any quip. It wasn’t quite enough to pull me out of the oppressive atmosphere of the book, but it did garner an appreciative nod from me. There were some bits that felt a little choppy to me. It’s a very strong possibility that it was intentionally written that way, and I just didn’t get it. Sometimes an author and the reader just don’t jive. It’s abundantly clear that this author is very talented, I just couldn’t connect. I think I can chalk this book up to “wrong book for right now, right book for another time.” I’ll probably reread this at some point in the future, when a little bit of a hopeless vibe isn’t going to mess with my happy. Would I recommend this book? I honestly don’t know.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Crystal

    I think I liked this book even more than I did the first in the series! Gilda Carr is back to solve more “tiny mysteries” but as the book cover says “tiny mysteries never stay tiny” and that is never true than with this case. The book is an instantly engrossing, clever, thriller/mystery that I couldn’t stop reading. Gilda herself is a interesting character with a complicated relationship with both parents. She lost her mother young and idealizes her, her father was a troublesome character but she I think I liked this book even more than I did the first in the series! Gilda Carr is back to solve more “tiny mysteries” but as the book cover says “tiny mysteries never stay tiny” and that is never true than with this case. The book is an instantly engrossing, clever, thriller/mystery that I couldn’t stop reading. Gilda herself is a interesting character with a complicated relationship with both parents. She lost her mother young and idealizes her, her father was a troublesome character but she still has retained a certain fondness for him. Along with all of this is her deep love for The Westside, and she finds herself invested in the people there and hopes to help them survive the terrors of the place. Gilda is also a very pained person. Isolated, introverted, difficult to be around, she is also a very principled person but her inner turmoil and insecurities really come to the forefront in this book. I feel like you really get to know her while reading. When her long-dead mother shows up in her house what evolves is a strange, jazz age Back to the Future type story. Our parents are never who we think they are. They are infinitely more nuanced, and their personalities are not really seen during our childhood when what we are really seeing is our own needs and selves reflected in them. Solving the mystery in front of her is Gilda’s focus, but it is her relationship with her mother that will really motivate her actions. Like I said, I really loved this second book in the series. I have no idea if there will be more books to come, but I certainly hope so. I’m going to keep Mr. Aker’s name in my search bar at Netgalley just in case. Song for this book: Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out – Bessie Smith Disclaimer: I received this book free from Netgalley

  11. 4 out of 5

    Annie

    After the extraordinary events of her first outing in W.M. Akers’ Westside, Gilda Carr is even more determined to stick to tiny mysteries. She’s got two to work on as Westside Saints opens. The first is to find the exact shade of blue that matches the sky when the sun sets in New York. Gilda has feelers out on that one. Second, and perhaps equally impossible to solve, is the disappearance of the finger of Saint Roisín, stolen from the Electric Church. These tiny mysteries are Gilda’s way of maki After the extraordinary events of her first outing in W.M. Akers’ Westside, Gilda Carr is even more determined to stick to tiny mysteries. She’s got two to work on as Westside Saints opens. The first is to find the exact shade of blue that matches the sky when the sun sets in New York. Gilda has feelers out on that one. Second, and perhaps equally impossible to solve, is the disappearance of the finger of Saint Roisín, stolen from the Electric Church. These tiny mysteries are Gilda’s way of making a living in the wilds of New York’s Westside. Not only do they help Gilda make a living, but they also help her stay out of the way of the more dangerous inhabitants of the Westside. That’s the idea anyway because nothing ever seems to go to plan for Gilda... Read the rest of my review at A Bookish Type. I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley, for review consideration.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Allison Krulik

    This was a good little mystery and I'm glad I picked it up. I won it from Goodreads a while back (thank you to the publisher!). I did not read the first book in the series, but that was okay. I was still able to enjoy this book. Gilda, the main character was interesting and I enjoyed her a lot. There were some parts I had to reread because I was a little confused with the writing, but overall I liked it. It was easy to get into! This was a good little mystery and I'm glad I picked it up. I won it from Goodreads a while back (thank you to the publisher!). I did not read the first book in the series, but that was okay. I was still able to enjoy this book. Gilda, the main character was interesting and I enjoyed her a lot. There were some parts I had to reread because I was a little confused with the writing, but overall I liked it. It was easy to get into!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Kim

    Another fun read from W.M. Akers. Love revisiting the Westside with Gilda Carr and friends. This plot was well thought out and entertaining. Greatly enjoyed Gilda's adventure with uh... Mary :) Keep thinking about how many seconds and minutes I waste now :( Another fun read from W.M. Akers. Love revisiting the Westside with Gilda Carr and friends. This plot was well thought out and entertaining. Greatly enjoyed Gilda's adventure with uh... Mary :) Keep thinking about how many seconds and minutes I waste now :(

  14. 4 out of 5

    Marlene

    Originally published at Reading Reality Westside is a liminal place, walled away somewhere between “could be”, “might have been” – and Back to the Future. Literally. No DeLorean this time though, just a family of scam artists posing as revival preachers, a desperate con artist and the magic and mystery that make Westside what it is. Dangerous. Deadly. Despairing. Debauched. Determined. Westside Saints is the surprising followup to last year’s marvelous Westside. I say surprising mostly because I’m Originally published at Reading Reality Westside is a liminal place, walled away somewhere between “could be”, “might have been” – and Back to the Future. Literally. No DeLorean this time though, just a family of scam artists posing as revival preachers, a desperate con artist and the magic and mystery that make Westside what it is. Dangerous. Deadly. Despairing. Debauched. Determined. Westside Saints is the surprising followup to last year’s marvelous Westside. I say surprising mostly because I’m surprised that there was a followup! At the time, it seemed like everything that needed to be said got said, there was a huge climax to the story and it all wrapped it – not with a neat and tidy bow but with a dirty and bedraggled one made into a garrote, because that’s Westside. But at the end of that story Gilda Carr walked, not away but into the ever-deepening darkness that settles over Westside, to nurse her wounds, both physical and emotional, and continue her investigations into tiny little mysteries. Looking into a big one nearly killed her, and left a lot of bodies all over Westside. Bodies that still haunt her and her community when Westside Saints begins. And it begins with a bang, quite literally, as the revival preaching family of the late Bully Byrd pulls off the miracle to end all miracles, and their dead and departed founder rises from the dead out of a cauldron filled with smoke and fire. Gilda has been looking into a couple of tiny mysteries for the Byrd family, and believes that while they are on the side of the angels, they are not nearly as “saintly” as they make themselves out to be. Like so many of Gilda’s beliefs and illusions, only the worst parts of this one turn out to be true. Because no one is in Westside. Not even the deeply religious Byrds who picked her dead, drunk father out of many a gutter back in the day. So Gilda is certain that the supposed “resurrection” of the Reverend Bully Byrd is just another confidence trick. Or she is until her late and very much lamented mother, Mary Fall, walks into the house Gilda inherited from her parents and claims that she has amnesia. That she wants Gilda to investigate the tiny mystery of her missing ring, and hopefully solve the bigger mystery of where her memory went. Bully Byrd’s return to Westside may have been a hoax, but Mary Fall’s resurrection, even a Mary Fall who seems to be in her early 20s and not the woman who died in her mid 30s. Not the woman who was Gilda’s mother but could be the woman who became her. She’s certainly more than enough like Gilda to make that seem possible – even if she’s nothing like the saintly woman that Gilda remembers. The more time Gilda spends with lying, exasperating, infuriating Mary Fall, the less she wants to condemn this bright, shiny troublemaker to the life that Gilda wouldn’t wish on her worst enemy. Not even if she has to. Escape Rating A: I loved the first book, Westside, and loved this one every bit as much. After yesterday’s disappointment, I’m really glad I chose Westside Saints to close out the week. At the top, I said that Westside was a liminal place, a place that exists on the borders, and so does the series that is wrapped around it. The first book straddled an invisible line between urban fantasy, historical fiction and horror, existing in all three but fully inhabiting none. Westside Saints is a bit of a different mix, as if it moved just a step to the left to sit on the intersection between urban fantasy, historical fiction and science fiction. In any case, the series is a genre-bender and genre-blender of epic proportions. The entree into this story is Bully Byrd’s supposed resurrection. Gilda’s investigation dives deeply into the supposedly saintly Byrd family and finds, basically, a cesspit. Which is what she has come to expect of everyone and everything in Westside. But that discovery exposes not just one family, but a layer of rot that she thought had been eradicated at the end of that first book. It’s an investigation that strips away even more of the few illusions Gilda thought she had left. We’re with her as she keeps turning over rocks, only to find that yet more disgusting things keep crawling out. But she’s a fighter and a survivor and watching her work is compelling in the extreme. It feels like the tinier the mystery she starts with, the bigger – and nastier – the reveal is at the end. One of the themes that felt so prominent in Westside stands out even more in the sequel. In that first book, Gilda is forced to reckon with the people who were parents really were, and not the plaster saints her child-self made them out to be. That is even more true in Westside Saints, as she discovers the real reason why neither of her parents ever told her how they met or why they married. Because from certain perspectives, they really, really shouldn’t have. In the end, Gilda faces pretty much the same paradox that Marty McFly does in Back to the Future. She has to somehow get her parents together, no matter how little her mother deserves to be condemned to the life and death they both know she’ll lead, in order to history’s paradoxes to be resolved. Otherwise the events of Westside never come to pass – and history will be the worse for them. Even if Mary Fall’s life would be for the better. In the first book, part of the story was about Gilda fighting for the soul of Westside. At the end, after the high butcher’s bill has been toted up, it feels like she and her friends have won. But, as Westside Saints gets deep into the aftermath of those events, it turns out that what Gilda achieved was either a Pyrrhic victory or the first battle in what will be a long drawn out series of skirmishes. Hopefully we’ll find out in later books in the series. Which I hope there will be several of, even if it turns out that Gilda is just fighting the long defeat. Or perhaps especially – if that’s the way it turns out.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Michael Burnam-Fink

    Westside Saints is noir tropes shoveled fast, with little of the artfulness or magic that characterized the first book. 'Small detective' Gilda Carr is back, drowning her unresolved trauma from the last case with cheap gin, and looking for a particular shade of blue ink and a saint relic, when a con-artist and preacher returns to life, after 34 years. What follows is a confusing journey through drink, darkness, and winter blizzards in the magical New York of 1922 and the mundane New York of 1888 Westside Saints is noir tropes shoveled fast, with little of the artfulness or magic that characterized the first book. 'Small detective' Gilda Carr is back, drowning her unresolved trauma from the last case with cheap gin, and looking for a particular shade of blue ink and a saint relic, when a con-artist and preacher returns to life, after 34 years. What follows is a confusing journey through drink, darkness, and winter blizzards in the magical New York of 1922 and the mundane New York of 1888, centering around the strange prophecies of the Byrd family and their Electric Church, and an amnesiac woman who may be Gilda's deceased mother, also returned from the dead. The closing Saints gets to clever is the Roebling Company, an aggressively Taylorist criminal syndicate that times everything. Otherwise, I just feel depressed and let down by this book.

  16. 4 out of 5

    OpenBookSociety.com

    https://openbooksociety.com/article/w... Westside Saints Westside, Book #2 By W.M. Akers ISBN: 9780062854063 Author’s Website: www.wmakers.net Brought to you by OBS reviewer Omar Summary Return to a twisted version of Jazz Age New York in this follow up to the critically acclaimed fantasy Westside, as relentless sleuth Gilda Carr’s pursuit of tiny mysteries drags her into a case that will rewrite everything she knows about her past. Six months ago, the ruined Westside of Manhattan erupted into civil war https://openbooksociety.com/article/w... Westside Saints Westside, Book #2 By W.M. Akers ISBN: 9780062854063 Author’s Website: www.wmakers.net Brought to you by OBS reviewer Omar Summary Return to a twisted version of Jazz Age New York in this follow up to the critically acclaimed fantasy Westside, as relentless sleuth Gilda Carr’s pursuit of tiny mysteries drags her into a case that will rewrite everything she knows about her past. Six months ago, the ruined Westside of Manhattan erupted into civil war, and private detective Gilda Carr nearly died to save her city. In 1922, winter has hit hard, and the desolate Lower West is frozen solid. Like the other lost souls who wander these overgrown streets, Gilda is weary, cold, and desperate for hope. She finds a mystery instead. Hired by a family of eccentric street preachers to recover a lost saint’s finger, Gilda is tempted by their promise of “electric resurrection,” when the Westside’s countless dead will return to life. To a detective this cynical, faith is a weakness, and she is fighting the urge to believe in miracles when her long dead mother, Mary Fall, walks through the parlor door. Stricken with amnesia, Mary remembers nothing of her daughter or her death, but that doesn’t stop her from being as infuriatingly pushy as Gilda herself. As her mother threatens to drive her insane, Gilda keeps their relationship a secret so that they can work together to investigate what brought Mary back to life. The search will force Gilda to reckon with the nature of death, family, and the uncomfortable fact that her mother was not just a saint, but a human being. Review Tiny mysteries are the specialty of Gilda Carr such as lost gloves, the forgotten name of a special song, or a kind of shade of blue from a memory. In this case, it all starts with the small finger of a dead saint and while trying to find it Gilda stumbles upon the secrets of a religious family and her mother that should have been dead years ago. Now, Gilda has to figure out why the dead are coming back and why there is a secret mob organization trying to take over the Westside by using the religious scheme. Love the world of the Westside series and the new magical side of New York. Now I wonder if other cities in the United States of this world have slipt and have magical unpredictable sides. It was great to see Gilda back. I liked her character in the first installment of the Westside series. While in the first book she is just trying to get by, in this new story, Gilda is trying to survive a harsh winter and the guilt of the people that die and she killed in the previous book. It was nice to see a new side of her and character growth. The Westside is a strange and magical place and it seems that it doesn’t leave the dead alone to which Gilda keeps being haunted by those she loved and lost. I liked that we got to meet Mary and Virgil, the parents of Gilda, even if they are different from those she knew before. I liked this book; it was a good mystery book because I wasn’t able to predict the end outcome or who was pulling the strings in the shadows. Given how the first book ended, I didn’t think there was going to be a sequel. In this new book, the story brought back previous characters and set new ones for future stories, just like loose ends that Gilda may need to clear in the future. If you are a fan of W.M. Akers and other work, then I recommend you Westside Saints. Gilda Carr is back with a new mystery to solve, but not all tiny mysteries are tiny, some are actually the tip of the iceberg and much bigger things lurking in the dark. *OBS would like to thank the publisher for supplying a free copy of this title in exchange for an honest review*

  17. 5 out of 5

    Riley

    Westside Saints is another quirky adventure for the solver of tiny mysteries – Gilda Carr. This time she runs smack into her formerly deceased mother, Mary. Gilda is now confronted with a huge mystery. How did Mary get here? Why doesn’t Mary remember Gilda? Why is Mom so mean? And what is Gilda to do about it all? At the same time, there is a church. I’m just going to say it. It is a strange church. Even before the long dead patriarch returns from the dead. (Another huge mystery.) Still Gilda pers Westside Saints is another quirky adventure for the solver of tiny mysteries – Gilda Carr. This time she runs smack into her formerly deceased mother, Mary. Gilda is now confronted with a huge mystery. How did Mary get here? Why doesn’t Mary remember Gilda? Why is Mom so mean? And what is Gilda to do about it all? At the same time, there is a church. I’m just going to say it. It is a strange church. Even before the long dead patriarch returns from the dead. (Another huge mystery.) Still Gilda perseveres with the tiny mystery – the hunt for the church’s lost saint’s finger. Yes, there is a lot of stuff going on! Missing fingers, resurrected people, preaching, snow, cold, drinking colored gin, gangsters, a killing fire. There is a lot to keep track of. But, rest assured, somehow, Gilda will bring all the confusing jigsaw pieces together into one wacky finished puzzle. In Westside Saints, Akers has done it again, creating this very colorful alternative New York, messing with all the characters and deftly spinning a tale that threatens to spin out of control. But the top will stop spinning without falling off the table, all the characters will right themselves just where they need to be, and the saint’s missing finger will be found. You just cannot possibly imagine how this will all happen. And that is exactly what makes Westside Saints so fun! Through Netgalley, the publisher provided a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    Tiny mysteries are the specialty of Gilda Carr such as lost gloves, the forgotten name of a special song, or a kind of shade of blue from a memory. In this case, it all starts with the small finger of a dead saint and while trying to find it Gilda stumbles upon the secrets of a religious family and her mother that should have been dead years ago. Now, Gilda has to figure out why the dead are coming back and why there is a secret mob organization trying to take over the Westside by using the reli Tiny mysteries are the specialty of Gilda Carr such as lost gloves, the forgotten name of a special song, or a kind of shade of blue from a memory. In this case, it all starts with the small finger of a dead saint and while trying to find it Gilda stumbles upon the secrets of a religious family and her mother that should have been dead years ago. Now, Gilda has to figure out why the dead are coming back and why there is a secret mob organization trying to take over the Westside by using the religious scheme. It was great to see Gilda back. I liked her character in the first installment of the Westside series. While in the first book she is just trying to get by, in this new story, Gilda is trying to survive a harsh winter and the guilt of the people that die and she killed in the previous book. It was nice to see a new side of her and character growth. The Westside is a strange and magical place and it seems that it doesn’t leave the dead alone to which Gilda keeps being haunted by those she loved and lost. I liked that we got to meet Mary and Virgil, the parents of Gilda, even if they are different from those she knew before. I liked this book; it was a good mystery book because I wasn’t able to predict the end outcome or who was pulling the strings in the shadows. I received an Advanced Review Copy of this book through Goodreads giveaways.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Patricia Zashkoff

    This is a quirky story about a detective named Gilda Carr who specializes in small mysteries such as finding lost objects. One of her jobs is to find out what happened to the relic of St. Remiens finger that went missing from the church. Her territory is the West side of Manhattan in the 1920's. Some black magic occurred during her investigation which open up a portal from the past. One of the people who came through was her dead mother who arrived as a young woman the same age as Gilda. She did This is a quirky story about a detective named Gilda Carr who specializes in small mysteries such as finding lost objects. One of her jobs is to find out what happened to the relic of St. Remiens finger that went missing from the church. Her territory is the West side of Manhattan in the 1920's. Some black magic occurred during her investigation which open up a portal from the past. One of the people who came through was her dead mother who arrived as a young woman the same age as Gilda. She didn't know who she was and claimed to have amnesia. She hire Gilda to help find out who she is and where she is from. She has no idea that Gilda is her daughter from the future. Gilda's dilemma is should she tell her that she is her mother and try to get her back to the past so she can meet her father and give birth to her. What happens to her if she fails. Will she cease to exist? This is a very enjoyable tale.

  20. 5 out of 5

    A Silent Bookworm (Jessica Parker)

    I received an ARC through a Goodreads Giveaway. Is resurrection possible? According to the Byrd family preachers it is. When Gilda Carr’s dead mother walks through the door, she goes on a mission to find out how it is possible. The book is somewhat slow paced. The book’s twist comes from nowhere, really. It was not even on my radar. I was somewhat disappointed because it was almost like a (somewhat) plausible explanation was needed, so this particular explanation was picked out of a hat and put i I received an ARC through a Goodreads Giveaway. Is resurrection possible? According to the Byrd family preachers it is. When Gilda Carr’s dead mother walks through the door, she goes on a mission to find out how it is possible. The book is somewhat slow paced. The book’s twist comes from nowhere, really. It was not even on my radar. I was somewhat disappointed because it was almost like a (somewhat) plausible explanation was needed, so this particular explanation was picked out of a hat and put into the story. I had to read it twice to make sure I read it correctly. Once I got over that disappointment and kept reading, I was pleasantly surprised with how well it was weaved into the story. I have not read book 1 of this series, but I am putting on my TBR list. There are references to the previous book, but this can be read as a standalone without being confused.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jeff

    I won this ARC is a Goodreads Giveaway. This is the first thing I've read by the author and the first I've read in this series. The story was intriguing but I had a real hard time connecting with any of the characters. The way I see it there are 2 female leads, both were annoying, one was aknow it all (or at least she thought she did and didn't take advice from anyone) and the other was just a bitch through most of the story. The male lead had no redeeming qualities. The flow of the book is basic I won this ARC is a Goodreads Giveaway. This is the first thing I've read by the author and the first I've read in this series. The story was intriguing but I had a real hard time connecting with any of the characters. The way I see it there are 2 female leads, both were annoying, one was aknow it all (or at least she thought she did and didn't take advice from anyone) and the other was just a bitch through most of the story. The male lead had no redeeming qualities. The flow of the book is basically to talk about the area, complain about how things are, try to get someone to do something, get ignored, get into trouble, and start over. There were sections that I found enjoyable and some of the humor was good but in the end this was just mediocre to me.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Henry Lazarus

    In an alternate 1922, Manhattan has been divided into eastside where technology still works, and westside which is falling into ruin. There’s a fence between them. Gilda Carr, when she isn’t getting drunk, spends her time in small mysteries. This time the religious family of Westside Saints (hard from Harper Voyager) has lost a relic, the preserved little finger of a saint. Then that family’s old father, and preacher, who had been dead for thirty years, and Gilda’s mother, who had died when she In an alternate 1922, Manhattan has been divided into eastside where technology still works, and westside which is falling into ruin. There’s a fence between them. Gilda Carr, when she isn’t getting drunk, spends her time in small mysteries. This time the religious family of Westside Saints (hard from Harper Voyager) has lost a relic, the preserved little finger of a saint. Then that family’s old father, and preacher, who had been dead for thirty years, and Gilda’s mother, who had died when she was nine, appear. The family has a ceremony to bring back more dead, but the preacher and Gilda’s mother have not been brought back from the dead. The truth is even more fantastic. This is the second of a neat series that I only read this one.Review printed by Philadelphia Free Press

  23. 4 out of 5

    chels marieantoinette

    I was sent this 2nd book in the series without having read the first. I found the concept of “tiny mysteries” I unique and I liked the alternate historical view of Jazz age NYC. I felt like Gilda was a little underdeveloped for me, but the first book probably made better introductions. The characters were eccentric and the landscape well-described. Kind of a paranormal sci-Fi take of one of my favorite eras in US history. I’d recommend reading the first in the series before tackling this one, but I was sent this 2nd book in the series without having read the first. I found the concept of “tiny mysteries” I unique and I liked the alternate historical view of Jazz age NYC. I felt like Gilda was a little underdeveloped for me, but the first book probably made better introductions. The characters were eccentric and the landscape well-described. Kind of a paranormal sci-Fi take of one of my favorite eras in US history. I’d recommend reading the first in the series before tackling this one, but for fans of the 20’s, New York City, mysteries, the paranormal, and sci-Fi it’s a really interesting read. I can see this being a great series.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Books and rocks

    I love that Akers was able to create this fantasy world without making it just an overload of info. You know those books I'm talking about...sometimes you need a book you can dive into and actually follow what's happening. Gilda Carr has this hurt and troubled feel to her but she doesn't come off as all wounded puppy you want to roll your eyes at. She starts out with one of her usual tiny mysteries to sold; which becomes tough characters, religious family, dead rising, and with that her mother re I love that Akers was able to create this fantasy world without making it just an overload of info. You know those books I'm talking about...sometimes you need a book you can dive into and actually follow what's happening. Gilda Carr has this hurt and troubled feel to her but she doesn't come off as all wounded puppy you want to roll your eyes at. She starts out with one of her usual tiny mysteries to sold; which becomes tough characters, religious family, dead rising, and with that her mother returning. Which is not the mom she remembers. They team up to solve what exactly "The Electric Resurrection" really is and test the relationship one remembers and one has not yet even experienced.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Justin

    While not as cohesively strong as Akers debut in the mythical, and yet very real Westside, Westside Saints has its moments in both plot and structure, not to mention quips and one-liners worthy of any fictional gumshoe. Without divulging too much of the plot, the one glaring issue with the book is how intertwined the Carrs and Byrds are, and yet it's only introduced (and currently contained) in this one book. Granted, Akers could not bet he'd get a second book in his broken universe but Westside While not as cohesively strong as Akers debut in the mythical, and yet very real Westside, Westside Saints has its moments in both plot and structure, not to mention quips and one-liners worthy of any fictional gumshoe. Without divulging too much of the plot, the one glaring issue with the book is how intertwined the Carrs and Byrds are, and yet it's only introduced (and currently contained) in this one book. Granted, Akers could not bet he'd get a second book in his broken universe but Westside Saints makes me hopeful there will be plenty more. The world building is solid, Gilda Carr speaks and acts for all of us (especially in the immediate present).

  26. 5 out of 5

    Rosann

    This alternate history/mystery/action suspense/ science fiction story was entertaining, well written, and intriguing. There were atmospheric scenes that stay with the reader long after the reading is done. The themes of alienation and loss, and economic inequality set against the backdrop of the Jazz Age was compelling. The plotting was at times hard to follow. Some scenes, particularly toward the end, were choppy and muddied with contradictory information. But it was a wild ride. The book, seco This alternate history/mystery/action suspense/ science fiction story was entertaining, well written, and intriguing. There were atmospheric scenes that stay with the reader long after the reading is done. The themes of alienation and loss, and economic inequality set against the backdrop of the Jazz Age was compelling. The plotting was at times hard to follow. Some scenes, particularly toward the end, were choppy and muddied with contradictory information. But it was a wild ride. The book, second in a series does inspire me to seek out the first book.

  27. 5 out of 5

    MJ Beaufrand

    Ah dang it. I loved the first one, "Westside." This one not as much. It's a bummer because the lyrical prose gets five stars, easy. The plot in Westside Saints just seems overdone. One of the major mysteries from the first book doesn't even get addressed that well, which is, Why is the Westside so hinky to begin with? I'm not convinced this is Akers' fault. My sense is he had an editor who was like, "Lovely. Fine. Who cares about the confusing plot points? Let's rush it to publication." I'm stil Ah dang it. I loved the first one, "Westside." This one not as much. It's a bummer because the lyrical prose gets five stars, easy. The plot in Westside Saints just seems overdone. One of the major mysteries from the first book doesn't even get addressed that well, which is, Why is the Westside so hinky to begin with? I'm not convinced this is Akers' fault. My sense is he had an editor who was like, "Lovely. Fine. Who cares about the confusing plot points? Let's rush it to publication." I'm still looking forward to Akers' third book. Honestly. He's got the writing chops.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Claire

    I felt pretty much the same about this one as the first one--enjoyable read with some cool fantasy elements. I feel like there's something maybe missing though, in both--maybe more romance and/or sex? They're awfully grim, which is fine but even hardboiled detectives deserve some fun. And I wish the author hadn't killed off so many characters in the first book--there isn't much left worth saving in Gilda's world, and it would be nice to feel more invested in it I felt pretty much the same about this one as the first one--enjoyable read with some cool fantasy elements. I feel like there's something maybe missing though, in both--maybe more romance and/or sex? They're awfully grim, which is fine but even hardboiled detectives deserve some fun. And I wish the author hadn't killed off so many characters in the first book--there isn't much left worth saving in Gilda's world, and it would be nice to feel more invested in it

  29. 5 out of 5

    Chaya Nebel

    Interesting alternative-history novel set in a 1920s New York. The plot is a mystery, with our protagonist dealing with a lost finger, her dead mother's return to life, and a whole host of other intrigues. The writing is clear and taut, and the story OK. I think the summary blurb at the top of this page gives too much of the story away; otherwise interesting. Interesting alternative-history novel set in a 1920s New York. The plot is a mystery, with our protagonist dealing with a lost finger, her dead mother's return to life, and a whole host of other intrigues. The writing is clear and taut, and the story OK. I think the summary blurb at the top of this page gives too much of the story away; otherwise interesting.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Rosann

    This alternate history/mystery/action suspense/ science fiction story was entertaining, well written, and intriguing. There were atmospheric scenes that stay with the reader long after the reading is done. The themes of alienation and loss, and economic inequality set against the backdrop of the Jazz Age was compelling. The plotting was at times hard to follow. Some scenes, particularly toward the end, were choppy and muddied with contradictory information. But it was a wild ride. The book, seco This alternate history/mystery/action suspense/ science fiction story was entertaining, well written, and intriguing. There were atmospheric scenes that stay with the reader long after the reading is done. The themes of alienation and loss, and economic inequality set against the backdrop of the Jazz Age was compelling. The plotting was at times hard to follow. Some scenes, particularly toward the end, were choppy and muddied with contradictory information. But it was a wild ride. The book, second in a series does inspire me to seek out the first book.

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