Roberta Alexander

It's no mystery...

how I got here. I think editing makes the world a more orderly place, and I like seeing the jewel emerge from the rock.

I've been a mystery critic since 1995, in an era when the rules kept changing and newspaper space kept shrinking. These days, the newspaper chain I’ve worked for stresses local news, and so its book reviewers focus on books written by local authors.


That’s a bit limiting for a critic and so I’ve decided to continue my eclectic reading habits and post books by non-geographically correct authors here on this page.


Editing, et al.

Duel to the Death’ by J.A. Jance

The prolific Jance continues her examination of how to control artificial intelligence in this book featuring Ali Reynolds and the team at High Noon Enterprises.

The focus is on Stuart Ramey, the uber-programming genius inherits the task of taming and exploiting Frigg, the artificial intelligence created in a previous book in this series. The book moves from Stuart’s perspective to Frigg to Graciela, the daughter of the head of a Mexican drug cartel. As usual, Jance handles the multiple lines skillfully.

This is really Stuart’s story as he moves beyond his rigid and confining boundaries. That is the most interesting part of the book. Frigg herself [itself?\] presents a case study of the limits—and possibilities—that an AI off offers. This is more intriguing as a case study rather than another flesh-and-blood character becoming the “bad guy.”

And of course Frigg is not a bad guy, but she is determined not to be programmed out of existence and this is the issue at the core of the story. For that reason alone, “Duel” deserves a reader’s attention. 2018





Noted: Margaret Maron’s excellent series featuring North Carolina Judge Deborah Knott is being reprinted for the benefit of those who weren’t paying attention when the series first came out. Now “Uncommon Clay,” No. 8, is available from Oconee Press.









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