Blood and Roses by MB Panichi is a mystery set amongst the slam/thrash bands and musicians of the 23rd century, with a little taste of romance. At its heart is the life and loves of a group and how they deal with a stalker; it’s science fiction (SF) light. So, if you’re not an SF reader don’t let the 23rd century SF label put you off.
Arienne Walker is the lead guitarist with the slam/thrash band, the Shattered Crystal Enigma (SCE), who are just about to start an interstellar tour. She gives everything to her playing and performing, endlessly practicing and using the guitar to reflect her feelings and emotions. Her stage performances are enthralling. The band is used to getting mail from fans that are strange and often makes them think a follower has mental problems. Ari receives several messages from someone called Celestian that are creepy. The band decides that Ari should keep copies of them in case they escalate in tone and meaning. And escalate they do. The stalker manages to leave messages and gifts that appear from the ether. When Rhynn Knight, a drummer who fills in at short notice joins the band the escalation becomes more intense. Especially when it becomes apparent that Ari’s impassioned guitar notes and Rhynn’s throbbing drum beats are playing in tandem and soaring to their love. Who is Celestian and what does she want?
Ari is delightful as a serious musician. If you are any kind of musician, you will get her. Her whole life revolves around her guitar – practicing it and playing it. She has no time for the latest guitars or amplifying gizmos. She has spent her life getting the best sound possible from the battered blue guitar and equipment she has. Her love-life up to now has been casual. As she starts dealing with the escalating stalker we see her personal reflections and fears ramp up, and then Rhynn first enters her life. Rhynn helps Ari deal with all those feelings with her ideas of protection and love.
Rhynn has always had a crush on Ari Walker and to get the chance firstly to speak with her, and later to play in the SCE with her is the height of fan adoration. She just cannot believe it. Her playing and reacting with the rest of the band and particularly Ari is the stuff dreams are made of. She casts herself in the role of protector when she learns of the stalker, and always puts Ari first. Her drumkit is futuristic, and you will find yourself catching the rhythm and getting very hot (sweaty hot!) with all the movement.
Several characters have supporting roles. I particularly loved Rhynn’s mother Cassandra who has that direct, yet motherly way of being critical and supportive at the same time with a touch of taking every unusual thing that happens in her stride. I wanted to see much more of her. Morgan, Shaine, and Friday from earlier in the series also appear. We don’t get to see much backstory for them here, so you do need to read the earlier books to get their depth.
The Writing Style
The voice of Ari is in the first person POV with Rhynn and Morgan in the third person POV. It made an interesting contrast, and once I got the extra depth that the first person gave me and the intensity of emotion with a character being so inward-looking then I understood Panichi’s purpose. Yes it is unusual, but I liked it.
Panichi is an adept world builder and has created a unique atmosphere, particularly around the slam/thrash bands.
You can probably tell I class myself as a musician, and for me the band’s performances from Rhynn’s point of view are very well written. I was there on that stage hot, sweaty and totally swept up in SEC’s performance. The chemistry between Ari and Rhynn in that setting was sublime and such a contrast between their early platonic cuddles.
If you are a mystery reader, the stalker part of the story is not complicated and is easy to work out; however, that should not put you off because I liked the effect it created in adding drama and depth of feeling to the characters.
This is the third book in the Morgan series set in the same worlds, although this book has less SF than the first two books. This book has three elements, the band, the stalker, and the SF. The first part of the story is about the band, and I wanted to know more about the different band members and their back-stories. The slam/thrash audiences and the zero grav cubes are one of the features from the earlier books that are crying out for their own story.
The last section of the book was much more SF with action and happenings around the stalker that I really enjoyed, and while the book is a good read, I think that Panichi lost a little of the ‘sitting on the edge of the seat’ that a stalker can give a story.
As an avid SF reader I wanted more SF in this book too; there could have been more of the band and more stalker. With all these different elements I wonder if Panichi combined too much and lost a little something. Having said that, it is an entertaining read particularly if you are interested in music and the serious business of making music.
Excerpt from Blood and Roses by MB Panichi
The flowers still dripped with thick red liquid I suspected wasn’t real blood. Resting against the vase, the notecard taunted me.
Arienne, my love, if I can’t have you, nobody can. Enjoy the flowers, my sweet musician. I am thinking of you. Always. I will know if you’ve forsaken me.-Celestian
What did they want? How could I forsake someone I didn’t even know? Why did they think I would enjoy black roses dripping with fake blood? If they loved me so much, why send me bloody roses and scare me half to death? How did Celestian get past Ric’s security? How did they get into the house? Were they invisible again? How in the hell could anyone protect me from someone they couldn’t even see?
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Running Toward Home
Blood and Roses
Bits and Bobs
- ISBN number: 9781642470765
- Publisher: Bella Books Inc
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