Barnabas Tew and the Case of the Missing Scarab

Barnabus Missing Scarab

Reviewed by Jetana Mutter

*This book was provided for an honest review

A good mystery has the power to engross us all- sort of like a car wreck. We can’t help but look at every angle even when all we want to do is to pull ourselves away. A great mystery not only captivates you, it immerses you within the world of the characters and keeps you guessing right up until the end. Detective stories have been a staple in mysteries since around 1841- when Edgar Allen Poe published The Murders in the Rue Morgue in a magazine; however, the most iconic of names that come to mind in a detective mystery is Sherlock Holmes, created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and known to the public in 1887. The draw of Sherlock Holmes is the quick wit, the banter between him and Dr. Watson, and their infallible deductive skills that catches the correct perpetrator in the end. Barnabas Tew and the Case of the Missing Scarab is a great mystery that reaches for the mighty torch that Sherlock Holmes carries- and it’s one that I believe the torch can rightfully be passed on to.

Barnabas Tew has made it his life’s mission to be a great detective like his hero, Mr. Sherlock Holmes. Reading the first tale of the adventures of Holmes and Watson as a boy made quite the impression on the young Barnabas- so much so that it marked his chosen career path. He spent all his schooling to pursue being a real life Sherlock, thinking that he would quickly rise up as the detective in Victorian London. A decade, and a string of attempts to solve a case later, Barnabas is still looking for the one case that will shoot his career on a fast track. Wilfred, his loyal assistant, knows that Barnabas is well intentioned but they still haven’t had any luck with their cases- usually someone ends up dead before they can solve the case successfully. To try to bring his employer out of his slump, Wilfred suggests that they attend the new exhibit at the museum- the Egyptian Mummy. Spending the day at the museum helps to get Barnabas’ mind off the failed cases that he has taken on, but as a result, the pair completely lose track of time and find themselves locked inside of the now closed museum. In their search for a person or an unlocked door to leave, Wilfred and Barnabas come up to some strange happenings. When Barnabas comes to, he finds himself being ferried across the River of the Dead, on his way to meet Anubis in the ancient Egyptian Underworld. Barnabas’ services have come highly recommended to Anubis from a former client of his and Anubis is convinced that Barnabas is just the right guy for the job. Khepre, the scarab beetle god that is responsible for rolling the sun across the sky and allowing nightfall to come, has gone missing… and he could be facing dismemberment. With Khepre missing, the Underworld is stuck in a perpetual high noon that will leak into the world of the Living if he cannot be found. Will Barnabas and Wilfred be able to find the missing scarab? Will they be able to solve the case and apprehend the perpetrator before it’s too late? Pick up a copy of Barnabas Tew and the Case of the Missing Scarab and find out!

When I first saw this book, the cover immediately drew me in. The figure of Barnabas with the pocket watch, the candelabra and Victorian designs in black and white with just a splash of color intrigued me- it’s definitely not something you see every day. I started reading it and was deeply drawn into the world of Barnabas- his struggles are something that everyone can relate to on some kind of level (not just about the detective work). When he is introduce into the ancient Egyptian Underworld, I knew that this was my kind of book. I love everything to do with ancient Egypt (I’ve always been drawn to it though I’ve never figured out why) so I relished the fact that Barnabas is set in the ancient Egyptian world. There was the perfect amount of comedic relief to the characters that makes this book stand out in so many ways. Most mysteries are done in serious tones- as most story lines such as those should be- but with Barnabas, it helps to make the affection that you develop for the characters that much more special when you add in the unintended comedy between Wilfred and Barnabas (though completely intentional  from Columbkill to make the characters seem more real). Columbkill Noonan will do for Barnabas what Doyle did for Sherlock. This is the first time I have had the pleasure of reading Noonan’s work, but it most certainly will not be the last. I look forward to the next book in the Barnabas Tew series, where the two will be attempting to solve a case for the Norse God, Odin.

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Simple Machines

Simple Machines

Reviewed by Demetrius Svette

*This book was provided for an honest review

Are you ready to bring things to the next level? If so, then look no further because if you continue on, you will miss one of the best reads that you will come across- and the mad world of Chrome Valley. Chrome Valley is a fictitious world created by Andrew Mackay where his stories take place in; a place that cranks the clockwork of his imagination while bringing in small nudges to his other books and characters. The more you read Mackay’s work, the more you will see his world fold together in each books’ pages and it makes him stand out from the rest. If you like grotesque extreme horror, comedies, love stories or a great thriller, then the works that come from Mackay’s mind is what you are looking for- he has a little bit of everything for whatever mood you might be in for. If you read Simple Machines– which let’s face it, you probably will- then you should read Mackay’s other book, Versus– it’s a necessity to read after Simple Machines. Why am I such a fan? If you have read Andrew’s work, then you will understand why I call Mackay a “God of character development” because he owns the world of Chrome Valley and punches you in the gut with the madness and excitement that he brings to his readers. I assure you that if you have never read anything by Mackay before, you will bow down to his feet screaming ‘we’re not worthy’-as if you were Wayne and Garth from Wayne’s World– after you read Simple Machines.

In this book-, no let me correct myself on that- this glorious masterpiece that shines in gold, lies an alternate world within a world where we continue to see the master work in the form of the most realistic characters. So realistic, in fact, that they could be your neighbors. Our male lead- Xander Manning- is working on the biggest breakthrough of his life by working on his artificial intelligence, Mavis. On one of the most important days of his life, he is challenged when his wife Charlotte breaks the dire news that she wants a divorce. Xander is stronger than most male characters as he strives to continue onwards while his distractions get the best of him. Chloe Armstrong, the ultimate female character of all, is Xander’s biggest distraction after he meets her at a party for the reveal of Mavis. The adventure of a lifetime is presented to Xander, which will make him choose life or choose to fold. Will Xander bring himself to the brink of madness with his world in a complete whirlwind? Mackay keeps you guessing until the answers are finally revealed. Many lives cross through the pages of Simple Machines that you will beg for more in this epic thriller/ love story. We are all simple machines… or do we complicate our lives to hide that we are simple when you strip everything away? Find out for yourself in this groundbreaking masterpiece.

We continue to be readers in Mackay’s world of fiction in one of his best works yet. We have followed him through comedy, horror and even the grotesque and extreme as Andrew guides us in a world of his own making- just as James Cameron did with Avatar. This world is very different though as it is a highly realistic world- drawing inspiration from the daily activity around us- and uses the best character developments with clashes of twists, thrills and the most epic ending that Mackay purposely guts you with. I think of Mackay as sitting on a throne as he molds the characters in his stories, watching and waiting to see the reaction from society as he preys upon your fears, tears and desires. I will say this with 100% honesty, Simple Machines is the best work of fiction that I have read all year. Andrew Mackay ends 2017 with a big bang with this one and deserves a huge round of applause for this masterpiece that outshines all others.