Don’t ya just love good old-fashioned pulp adventure stories? You know, the kind where there’s a fearless adventurer on a quest for some long-lost treasure, joined by loyal companions, as well as maybe some not-so-loyal companions, and plenty of exciting battles, ancient puzzles, and terrifying monsters.

Well, this is the book for you. Look at that cover; isn’t that just everything you want in an adventure book? Drew Struzan couldn’t have done it better.

The protagonist of the story is Merona Grant, the daring mercenary treasure-hunter and her faithful dog Argos. When she finds herself down on her luck after being double-crossed, a wealthy aristocrat offers Grant a job to lead her on a hunt for an ancient treasure. Grant accepts, on the condition that her friend, the burly Russian pilot, Sasha Durov, joins them as well.

Together, along with the beautiful Carlotta and the timid Dr. Watt, the group sets out in search of adventure.

What follows is a tale of derring-do in the vein of The Mummy (the 1999 one) or Indiana Jones. Of course, those films were themselves homages to an earlier era of adventure fiction. Indeed, Merona’s mercurial personality reminds me more of Charlton Heston’s character Harry Steele in Secret of the Incas than of Dr. Jones. Kudos to Williamson for creating a new character and setting for a new generation of adventure lovers.

I’d been wanting to read a good treasure-hunting book ever since I finished Peter Martuneac’s latest tale, and this one proved to be just the ticket. If you liked any of the stories I referenced above, check this one out.

Yes, you read that right.

I promise not to turn this into an all-Napoleon, all-the-time blog, but it just so happened that while looking something up as I was writing my review of the Ridley Scott film, I stumbled across the fact that the old Emperor of the French had written this short romance story in his youth.

The book was unpublished during Napoleon’s lifetime, and had to be gradually pieced together by scholars and collectors. That’s right; before he was renowned as a military genius, before he was Emperor of most of Europe, before he was regarded as either one of the most brilliant leaders or most ruthless tyrants ever to appear on the stage of History, Napoleon Bonaparte was, like so many of us, an indie author. Reader, how could I not review it?

The book tells the story of Clisson, a brave and accomplished young French officer, who has won great honors for his military victories, but who is unfairly slandered by enemies jealous of his success.

Um… okay, so there might be just a tiny bit of Mary Sue-ism here. Clisson is a thinly-veiled version of Napoleon himself. And Eugénie, the woman with whom he falls in love, is a thinly-veiled version of Désirée Eugénie Clary, a woman to whom he was engaged.

The story has the feel of a young man’s work. It’s big on passion and romance and adventure, and a bit short on realism. Not that there’s anything wrong with that; that’s very much as it should be.

A modern critic would no doubt rebuke Bonaparte for his reliance on telling instead of showing. But, this is just how people wrote back then, and plenty of classic works of literature do this all the time. So, maybe we can just ignore the modern critics on this point.

Still, there’s no question that drawing deep and multi-faceted characters is not Bonaparte’s strong suit. Clisson and Eugénie’s relationship feels not unlike one you might find in a YA novel. On the plus side, there are no sparkling vampires.

The story ends on a tragic note, which I wasn’t expecting. Napoleon always seems like a fellow who thought he could get out of any trouble, however dire. So the way he has Clisson’s story end up was surprising to me. (Then again, a tragic ending is in line with the original Mary Sue story.)

Overall, my reaction to the story was pretty indifferent. Not horrible, but also definitely not something anyone would find noteworthy, except for the fact it was written by Napoleon. But that in itself is pretty noteworthy! And so the next time you find yourself reading some unremarkable tale by an unknown author, just remember… you might be reading the work of one of the great icons of our age.

It’s always tough to review sequels. Especially a sequel to a sprawling book like Sunder of Time, that has a large cast of characters and multiple different timelines. Thus, there are not only a lot of characters, but different versions of the same character. (Probably this is one of those books where it’s helpful to keep notes, so you can remember who is who.) And when you add in that I don’t want to spoil what happens in the first book, it’s pretty hard to explain the plot of this one.

So, what’s a poor book reviewer to do? I could just say that if you liked the first book, you’ll probably like the second one, too. And that’s true. But, of course, probably not very helpful. Especially if you haven’t actually read the first book yet. (My review is here.) I highly recommend it.

But as to this book, it carries on the story of the first one, although in an interesting way. I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that while the first book takes place mainly in the distant past, this one is largely in the far future. But still, the same kind of intrigues and political machinations are there, as is the brisk pace and intense action.

I think what I’ll focus on here, to avoid giving away major plot spoilers, is McTiernan’s keen grasp of psychology. Everything the characters do is informed by this, perhaps most notably in the way one character uses subtle psychological tricks to manipulate people into giving him loyalty he really doesn’t deserve. There are people like this in real life, and knowing how these kinds of mind games work is helpful in dealing with them.

This is an excellent sequel to a very good book, and I’ll be interested to see where the series goes from here.

Sorry, no book review this week. Haven’t had much reading time lately. But I will try to have something next week.

In the meantime, tomorrow is Veterans Day in the USA, and so in recognition of this, I thought I’d provide a list of books authored by military veterans. I know a few warrior-bards whose work is worth your time:

-The Ethan Chase series and the His Name Was Zach series, by Peter Martuneac.

Peter is a U.S. Marine Corps infantry veteran, and this comes across in his books. He writes some of the best action scenes I’ve ever read. I recommend starting with his Mandate of Heaven and going from there.

-The Widow’s Son, by Ryan Williamson.

A phenomenal weird Western adventure. Williamson’s military background (Army) comes through most clearly in the banter among the soldiers.

-Intrusion Protocol by B.R. Keid.

This one is military sci-fi, a genre near and dear to me. A tech-heavy adventure that’s a thrill for all of us who grew up playing games like Halo.

-Sunder of Time by Kristin McTiernan.

A sprawling, epic time-travel novel with some heavy religious overtones. McTiernan does a good job of bringing the harshness of medieval life home to the reader.

-Forbidden Kisses by Sha Renée.

We’ve heard of military sci-fi, but military romance? Hey, why not! It’s a cute, light-hearted story.

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If you asked me who is the greatest artistic genius my home state of Ohio has ever produced, I’d say Bill Watterson without hesitation. The creator of Calvin & Hobbes ranks close to Wodehouse in my mind for his sheer mastery of his medium. But really, Watterson was an expert practitioner of two forms, both the language and the art. He married his wit and his complex philosophical musings with gorgeous images, especially in the Sunday comics, which allowed him to show off his abilities in full color.

I loved Calvin and Hobbes as a kid, not least because Watterson captured beautifully the Ohio landscapes I would wander, much as Calvin does. It made the strip feel relatable to me. What’s really amazing is how I remember enjoying it when I was about nine years old, but upon revisiting it as an adult, I started to understand it differently; jokes that just seemed funny for their big words and philosophical abstractions now make sense to me on a deeper level.

For ten years, Watterson ruled the comics world, leveraging his creative talent to convince the papers to give him more colors and more control over the layout of his strip, until at last he could create the grand adventures he imagined for the boy and his tiger.

And then, in 1995, he stopped. He sent Calvin and Hobbes off into a vast empty white space to fill with their considerable imaginative power. The world he created lives on, of course, on the internet, where new generations of fans still enjoy the vibrant, hilarious, poignant wonder of that magical decade-long run.

But Watterson himself largely disappeared from the public eye. With good reason have other cartoonists compared him to Bigfoot; as he seldom gives interviews and only very rarely produces any art for public consumption. Indeed, he had in a sense passed into the realm of legend.

And now, in this, the year 2023, up he shows! It is as if one of the dinosaurs Calvin so vividly imagined has materialized in the park, trotted up to us, and said, “Well, I’m back! What’d I miss?”

Watterson returns from his 28 years of self-imposed exile with a peculiar volume; a “fable for grown-ups” called The Mysteries, co-illustrated with John Kascht. The book is short, only about 400 words in all, and illustrated with haunting black-and-white images. The story is this: the people of a kingdom are plagued by forces known only as “Mysteries”. The King sends his knights out to capture one of these “Mysteries.” When a lone knight returns with a Mystery in tow, the people study it and come away unimpressed.

One by one, “the Mysteries” become not so mysterious, and the people gradually believe themselves to have mastered the world, and bent it to their will. Indeed, they revel in their dominion over The Mysteries.

I won’t tell you how it ends up. But then, do I even need to? Yes, this is a classic Hubris Will Be Your Downfall story, and in the few words within, it tells a suitably cautionary tale.

The real showstopper here is the artwork, which is striking and memorable. If the goal was to create a story where each sentence is associated with a memorable image, so that it sticks in the reader’s mind, well, mission accomplished.

But what about the moral of the story? It is a fable, after all, and fables are supposed to teach some lesson. What lesson does this teach? That, as people have gradually lost the superstitious fear of the dark that medieval peasants possessed, they have become arrogant and vain, believing themselves somehow apart from nature? Have they, in attempting to use scientific rationalism to explain wild nature, stripped it of its beauty and romance, and set the stage for the world to be devoured by machines? (“Some say the world will end in fire, some say in ice…” I hold with those who favor gray goo.)

Well, I mean, obviously that’s my interpretation. But it’s not like it’s a novel idea. The sense of looming techno-apocalypse is plain to see on every street. In the memorable words of H.P. Lovecraft:

A sense of monstrous guilt was upon the land, and out of the abysses between the stars swept chill currents that made men shiver in dark and lonely places. There was a daemoniac alteration in the sequence of the seasons—the autumn heat lingered fearsomely, and everyone felt that the world and perhaps the universe had passed from the control of known gods or forces to that of gods or forces which were unknown.

That was in 1920. It’s no secret! Why, everybody knows!

The question is, what do we do about it? Here, Watterson’s story grows rather vague; almost fatalistic or nihilistic. Which is a really odd thing for a fable.

Then again, maybe not. In a way, it’s the same as one of the most famous sayings in history. A pearl of wisdom that has been quoted many times many ways, but perhaps one of the best versions is from Abraham Lincoln:

It is said an Eastern monarch once charged his wise men to invent him a sentence, to be ever in view, and which should be true and appropriate in all times and situations. They presented him the words: “And this, too, shall pass away.” How much it expresses! How chastening in the hour of pride! How consoling in the depths of affliction!

In the words of the Stoics, Memento mori. In the words of the Church, “Remember, Man, that thou art dust and unto dust thou shalt return.” In the words of Clint Eastwood, “We all have it comin’, kid.” I could go on, but you get the picture.

But again, this awareness of mortality implies a question: what, then, do we do with our lives? Which is of course the question. Watterson doesn’t give us the answer in this text, but since this is perhaps the most fundamental question of all of human existence, asking for it to be answered in a short picture book is perhaps unreasonable.

And yet… in a way, Watterson did give us the answer. Not in this book, but in the body of his work. Famously, Watterson fought to preserve his control over Calvin & Hobbes, and refused to sign away licensing rights, likely forfeiting millions of dollars by doing so. That is why we don’t have Calvin & Hobbes 2, or Calvin & Hobbes: The Animated Series, or The Gritty Origin Story of Miss Wormwood: A Calvin & Hobbes Prequel. (It would star Emma Stone and be available for streaming on Disney+.)

Watterson insisted on integrity. He wanted to make something great that was his, and share it with the world, and not have it diluted through commercialism or commodification. He just wanted to create art he cared about, and do it well. And he did. There’s a lesson in that.

And thus we see that the meaning of The Mysteries is in the careful work that Watterson and Kascht poured into it. Could they have made something not unlike it in a few minutes with an AI image generator? Sure, but the goal was to see what they could do by challenging themselves, pushing themselves (and each other) to find new ways of realizing their vision.

Like all the great artists, Watterson’s work is his philosophy, and his philosophy is his work. Is The Mysteries, on its own, a work of great art? Well, maybe. Some may complain that it is a rather slight piece, after nearly three decades of waiting for Watterson’s next act. Then again, isn’t the most famous painting in the world a small portrait of an ordinary-looking woman in muted colors? Like the fella once said, “There’s treasure everywhere!”

Richard Pastore recommended this book to me when I asked for suggestions regarding “the best” Halloween book. Well, while it’s an inherently subjective concept, I’d have to say that this is about as Halloween-y of a Halloween story as there can be.

The story is narrated by a dog named Snuff, the familiar of Jack the Ripper. Jack, along with many other figures of classic horror lore, are engaged in something they refer to as “The Game,” which is sort of ritualistic competition spanning the month of October, in years when the moon is full on Halloween. Gradually, it becomes clear that the objective of the game is a ceremony which will either summon or defeat the Elder Gods.

In other words, it’s Universal Monsters meet Cthulhu. That’s right; we’ve got Larry Talbot, Dr. Frankenstein and Count Dracula here, but also references to H.P. Lovecraft’s world of Yog-Sothothery. Frankly, I have no idea how I never heard of this before now.

This might sound like a mere pastiche, and in the hands of a lesser writer, it easily could be, but Zelazny makes these classic characters his own. The fact that the story is told by Snuff, and focuses heavily on his interactions with the other “players’” familiars. This perspective makes the old characters feel fresh and new.

I read this shortly after Richard mentioned it to me in late September, because I wanted to finish it in time to write this review. But, I think the ideal way to enjoy it would be to read a chapter each day in October, since each chapter covers the events of one day, all building towards the final rite on Halloween night.

I especially like the way Zelazny carefully teases out the mystery. Snuff is clearly familiar with “The Game,” having played it many times before, but he never just gives an info-dump on how it all works. Rather, we have to piece it together gradually, following the hints of mystical artifacts and allusions to arcane rules. This is easily the best book I’ve ever read that hinges on a twist of magic wand law.

Richard was right, this is an excellent book for the Halloween season, and I’m grateful to him for recommending it. I was a little reluctant to read it, because I typically dislike stories involving Jack the Ripper and the like, but Zelazny handled it well. I’ll probably be re-reading this in many Octobers to come.

This is a collection of short stories about various cryptids. Some of the stories are creepy, some are funny, some are just mysterious.

I admit it, I’m a sucker for tales of legendary creatures. I think I’ve watched every episode of the TV show Boogeymen, which could spin a compelling yarn about nothing more than an oversized otter. How much more fun is a cryptid legend when imbued with the dramatic structure that fiction allows?

I think what really makes this collection so strong is how easy it is to relate to the characters in every story. Engelhardt makes sure never to forget to make them interesting, even when it might be easy to rush to the bit about the legendary creatures.

It’s hard to review short story collections because you can’t necessarily discuss the stories without also spoiling all of them. So, let me borrow a technique from H.R.R. Gorman, and quickly discuss my favorite, least favorite, and the most memorable stories from the collection:

Favorite: “Serpent in Paradise.” This is a story about two monster hunters who visit a resort where they hunt for a sea monster. I really liked this story; it has a good balance of characterization and plot, and all of it is very economically done. The dynamic between the two main characters helps ground the story in reality, which is important when telling a tale of the outré and bizarre.

Least Favorite: “How Jackrabbit Got His Antlers.” Let me clarify that just because it’s my least favorite doesn’t mean it’s a bad story. It’s not at all. It just felt more like a fairy tale than the rest of them. There’s nothing wrong with that; it’s just not my thing.

Standout: “Oh, the Places You’ll Hide: A Brief Guide for the Library Specialist After the Undead Uprising.” A mock-scholarly treatise on the changing role of the librarian in a post zombie-apocalypse world. The funniest story in the whole book.

The collection is almost perfect. The only thing it is missing is, of course, the greatest cryptid of them all: the Mothman. I’m always up for a Mothman story. I wouldn’t mind seeing the two monster hunters featured in the first and last stories in this collection take him. Just an idea.

Still, lack of Mothman aside, this collection is a fantastic tale to read of an October’s e’en. Highly recommended.

Look, I know this book is about American football, and I know most of my readers couldn’t care less about American football. But hear me out, okay? Because this post isn’t really about football. I mean, there will be references to some football-related matters, but you can skim past those if you want. No, this post is actually about something deeper, more essential… this post is about aesthetics.

What do I mean by that? Time will tell. For now, let me begin by summarizing: Paul Brown was the coach of the Cleveland Browns, who dominated the sport during the 1950s. Brown’s teams racked up records and championships during the first few decades of their existence. Until a new team owner, Art Modell, took over and fired Brown after a few bad years.

Like Coriolanus, Brown decided to raise a team of his own in the south, and take his revenge. And thus the Cincinnati Bengals were born in 1968, and instantly became a major rival of the Browns. Throughout the ’70s and ’80s, the Bengals and Browns met twice a year, usually with one team having something to play for and the other merely playing out the string on a lost season. Oddly, surprisingly often, the team with nothing to play for would win.

The ’80s were peak years for the rivalry, with both teams enjoying considerable success during the decade, although neither ever managed to win the Super Bowl. Twice, the Bengals fell short to San Francisco 49er teams coached by a former assistant coach of theirs, Bill Walsh.

And then, in 1991, Paul Brown died, and the two teams collapsed. The Bengals became a perennial joke throughout the ’90s and the Browns–well, remember that Modell fellow from before? He packed up and moved the team to Baltimore, rebranding as the Ravens. Not until 1999 would Cleveland be granted a new team, with the colors and records of the old Browns, but most certainly not the tradition of winning.

And this is Knight’s thesis: the Bengals and Browns are haunted by the man who essentially created them both. Somewhere out there in the ether, the ghost of Paul Brown hovers over them, looking down with grim disapproval at his once-proud teams. Neither can succeed until this angry spirit is appeased.

Of course, this is all a manner of speaking, in the grand tradition of sports curses. There are plenty of obvious materialistic explanations for the Bengals’ and Browns’ many failures. Although, there are some things that do strain probability…

This book was published in 2018, and since then both teams have enjoyed some success. The Browns finally broke their playoff-less streak in 2020, and the Bengals actually made it to the Super Bowl in 2021. (Losing, it must be noted, in very much the same way they did to the 49ers in 1988.) So perhaps the curse is lifting. But can it really be said to be ended until at least one of these teams holds aloft the Vince Lombardi trophy?

Knight’s prose is light and enjoyable, and he has a knack for clever phrasing and for highlighting amusing instances of ironic misfortune in the histories of both clubs, of which there are many. I’m pretty well-versed in football trivia, but I still learned a few new factoids.

All well and good, you say; but why am I dedicating one of my October blog posts, normally reserved for reviewing Halloween-related stories, to this book?

Watch this clip of the Browns/Bengals game from Halloween of last year. You don’t need to know a thing about football. All you need to know is that it’s Halloween night, and two teams whose colors are orange and brown and orange and black, are battling it out under the lights, amid a sea of roaring fans, many of whom are rigged out in costumes befitting All Hallows’ Eve.

The whole spectacle is weird and eerie, and, I’d argue, perfect for Halloween. The NFL should make it a tradition: every year, on the Thursday, Sunday, or Monday night closest to October 31st, the Bengals play the Browns. It’s really the perfect uniform combination for the occasion.

Now, it’s true that other teams, including the Broncos, Bears, and Dolphins have orange in their uniforms. (And indeed, the Bengals played a memorably weird game against the Dolphins on Halloween a decade ago.)  But only the Bengals and Browns have that added (pumpkin?) spice of being arch-rivals. The memories of past triumphs and defeats echoing in every hit; the vaguely Biblical theme of two feuding brothers, and the added passion of the costumed fans, all combine to make a potent brew for epic gridiron madness.

And, in my opinion, football is as much a part of the Halloween season as jack-o’-lanterns and candy. Granted, I live smack dab in the middle of the state where the sport was effectively invented, but it is impossible to imagine midwestern Autumn without the thwack of offensive and defensive lines smashing together, seeing replica jerseys everywhere, team banners and pennants flying amid the Halloween decorations, and hearing the Monday morning radio shows buzzing about how the season is going. There’s a reason why, when I wrote a short story as a love-letter to the Halloween season, I had to include a scene at a football game.

And, as some of you may know, I am not even primarily a fan of either of these teams. (Though I will always have some fondness for the Bengals.) My team plays further north, and is more associated with the “something of winter in their faces” that  John Facenda once spoke of, than with the warm orange-and-brown hues of Autumn. Yet, my judgment remains the same: the Bengals and Browns are the perfect Halloween teams.

This is a cozy mystery. I don’t read a lot of cozy mysteries, unless you count Zachary Shatzer’s Roberta and Mr. Bigfluff stories, which are really parodies of cozies, rather than straight-up cozy mysteries. That said, this is a genre where the line between serious and parody is sketchy at best. More on that in a bit. But c’mon, it’s a Halloween book. How could I not read it?

The protagonist of the book is Tessa, a 30-year-old woman who has moved back to her small Minnesota hometown after the death of her husband. To take her mind off her loss, she has thrown herself into the job of helping out at her family’s B&B and helping run the town’s annual Halloween hayride.

The latter becomes more complicated when Earl Stone, the rather unpleasant fellow who owns the land for the hayride, is found run over with the tractor. Tessa is forced to use the detective skills she’s learned from listening to True Crime podcasts to solve the case. And all this while juggling deciding which of her two admirers–Clark the handsome football coach or Max the handsome policeman–she will favor with dressing up in a couples Halloween costume.

Already, you perhaps begin to see what I mean. The news of the murder, and the news that two of her suitors want to dress up in matching costumes, are given equal emotional weight.

Also, the writing style itself is a little… curious. Generally, it’s thought to be bad form to repeat the same word too many times in a sentence. Yet, this happens frequently here. Indeed, it happens so often it’s almost like a kind of literary device. Mark Paxson once wrote a story where he would pick a word out of the dictionary at random, and use it as a prompt for what would happen next. It feels like something similar is going on here, only the challenge is to see how many times you can use the word in the same paragraph.

But again: it’s a cozy mystery. Cozy mysteries are, by their nature, not that serious. That’s not to say it’s an outright comedy like Shatzer’s books are. At least, I don’t think so.

Perhaps the best way to describe it is as camp. Camp is always a difficult thing to define, though; and one man’s camp may be another man’s… whatever the opposite of camp is. But offhand, I’d say this book is more camp than Mr. Humphries.

I was able to figure out who the killer was about 70% of the way into the book, but again: “Zis is a cozy, ve don’t surprise here!” Cozies are about the familiar and the comfortable; surprise and suspense are antithetical to this. Perhaps the whole concept of a cozy mystery is inherently contradictory, like asking for “safe danger.”

Then again, isn’t this the whole concept behind amusement parks, too? The illusion of danger, while actually being rigorously designed for safety? No, faulting a cozy mystery for being too predictable is like faulting water for being too wet.

You know what this story needs? A change of narration. Instead of being told by the investigator herself, who makes all the deductions plain to the reader right away, we needed a framing device. Someone telling the story of Tessa’s investigation through their own bewildered eyes. A Dr. Watson, a Captain Hastings, a (to use that memorable phrase of Stephen Leacock’s) “Poor Nut”:

Here, at once, the writer is confronted with the problem of how to tell the story, and whether to write it as if it were told by the Great Detective himself. But the Great Detective is above that. For one thing, he’s too silent. And in any case, if he told the story himself, his modesty might hold him back from fully explaining how terribly clever he is, and how wonderful his deductions are. So the nearly universal method has come to be that the story is told through the mouth of an Inferior Person, a friend and confidant of the Great Detective. This humble associate has the special function of being lost in admiration all the time. In fact, this friend, taken at his own face value, must be regarded as a Poor Nut. 

That’s from Leacock’s essay “The Great Detective,” which I highly recommend.

Still, the acid test of any book is whether or not the reader enjoys it. I actually did enjoy this. Perhaps I enjoyed it in the same way I enjoy Captain Corelli’s Mandolin or Elvira’s Movie Macabre, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. And so ironic enjoyment comes right around to being sincere again. Strange how that works.

Anyway, if you like cozy mysteries and/or Halloween, give it a whirl.

What can I say about Shatzer’s works that I haven’t said already? Well, at a minimum, he’s prolific. This is the fifth book of his that I’ve reviewed this year, and it contains all the elements I’ve come to enjoy in his work: zany magical mishaps, oddball characters, and usually at least one book-within-a-book.

Actually, The Cowboy Sorcerer itself started out as a book-within-a-book. The title is referenced in Shatzer’s Sorcerers Wanted. In my review of that volume, I desperately wished that it was a real book, and now ta-da! It is. Sometimes wishes do come true. Noah Goats said that books lead on to books, and that certainly is the case with Shatzer’s rapidly-expanding oeuvre.

The Cowboy Sorcerer is in some ways an echo of some of Shatzer’s other great characters. There’s more than a little of Ebbius from The Beach Wizard in the stoic sorcerer who arrives in the town of Destiny’s Crack, searching for a vampire. The way Shatzer riffs on these concepts in different ways throughout his books is one of the pleasures of reading his work. He’s like Wodehouse in that respect; similar situations and characters recur, but we never get tired of reading about them, because of the light and entertaining way he tells the story.

If you’ve already been reading Shatzer, then you probably already picked this book up the second you saw it existed, and don’t need any further convincing. But if you are new to his books, then this is as good an introduction as any.