Interesting and Attractive Without a Little Help
Death of a Gypsy provides a powerful look into the world of Alex, a man on a mission across the continent to find a friend of the family. Throughout the journey, the reader is treated to a wonderful mystery about Zoli’s whereabouts and a rich and vibrant backstory. How did the mystery develop for this story? Did you plan it before writing or did it develop organically?
You ask about the development of the mystery, and then about the characters and the setting. Actually, the characters and the setting came first. The characters were introduced in the first book in the series, The Wish to Kill, in order to talk about extra-sensory perception and the power of thought. Alex came first. I decided to make my protagonist a man so that I wouldn’t fall into the trap of starting to write about myself. I made him good looking because I doubted that my writing skills were good enough to make him interesting and attractive without a little help. Why is he Hungarian? Because I feel a special affinity for all things Hungarian. I have amazed several Hungarians by speaking Hungarian even though I have no actual connection with the country. I speak it badly, but it’s as if the cat started to talk – the point isn’t how well she does it, but that she does it at all.
In Death of a Gypsy the characters travel from Romania to Albania to look for the missing gypsy. What fascinates you about this area of the world enough to set your story in it?
Albania is another country that made a special impression on me. There are some places and cultures that strike a chord more than others and it’s not always clear why, but I think that in the cases of Hungary, Albania, and Gypsies it starts with their beautiful folk songs and dances. I always knew that Sylvie’s grandmother was a Gypsy, and that provided the basis for the story in Death of a Gypsy. It was clear that the quest to find Zoli had to reach Albania and run into the unique archaic customs of the mountains, and the story developed in line with that.
How do you think your writing has developed or grown since you published The Wish To Kill in 2002?
I wrote The Wish to Kill to present everything I knew or could find out about a specific subject, in the hope that it would be useful to others interested in understanding some real but still unexplained phenomena. The book was bought by a publishing house (Soho Press), even though in my opinion the plot was a little patchy. I wrote the second book, Murder with a French Accent, because I had an idea for a better plot involving Alex. I think Murder with a French Accent had the best plot of the series, and I hope that if and when I decide that I have to send Alex to some other place that fascinates me, I’ll be able to do as well.
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For a microbiologist, Alex Kertész has led an adventurous life, fleeing from Budapest and the clutches of the Aveh, the Hungarian secret police, as a teenager, studying in Paris, and volunteering as a paratrooper in the Israeli army. Now married to Sylvie, his high school sweetheart, he’s looking forward to a family vacation in Paris. He’s forced to change his plans because the old Gypsy woman who is Sylvie’s much loved grandmother needs his help. She has just found her last living sibling and wants Alex to bring the old man to Paris to see her. Alex is the person best suited to this task, because the old man lives in Transylvania and speaks Hungarian. It’s questionable whether Alex is also suited to the task of rescuing the old man’s grandson who has disappeared in Albania, but until he knows that his grandson is safe, the old man isn’t going anywhere. Alex, his teenage son, an American schoolteacher, and two Gypsies travel from Romania to Albania to look for the missing man. One of the two Gypsies is the son of the man who’s missing. The other is the cousin who left him in danger.
Posted in Interviews
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Death of a Gypsy
Death of a Gypsy by Janet Hannah provides a powerful look into the world of Alex, a man on a mission across the continent to find Zoli, a distant friend of the family that is off on a business expedition. At least, that is what he is led to believe by Aladar, Zoli’s cousin who is seemingly up to no good. With his son in tow, Alex is determined to retrieve Zoli and return him to György, so that György may travel to meet his long lost sister Afrodita, Alex’s grandmother-in-law. Throughout the journey, the reader is treated not only to a wonderful mystery about Zoli’s whereabouts and Aladar’s motives, but also to a rich and vibrant backstory for many of the characters. Alex and his wife, Sylvie, both have interesting tales behind their marriages, and Aladar’s history is illuminating, especially the jealousy he harbors for his cousin. The complete package of a story creates a rich cultural experience for any aged reader.
This story, while vibrant in its retelling of each character’s thoughts and backstory, leaves a bit to be desired in terms of its main plot. While it is interesting to see how each of these characters impacts the big picture, that picture is a little too broad; there is not enough detail related to the current events to keep me wholly interested.
However, each character is very interesting. Sylvie and Alex, for example, both struggle with past marriages that nearly derail their love. We get to see choices that they both made throughout their relationship and how their choices impact their current thoughts for one another. It is fascinating and engaging, even if it is not part of the main plot.
Even Daniel, Alex’s son from his first marriage, learns and grows through the actions and stories from his father. Alex’s experiences with war, love, and everyday decision making have resonating impacts on Daniel’s character throughout the story, making him a fascinating person to follow.
There is even a bit of a spiritual theme in the novel, although it is used very sparingly. The author, when giving the backstory of Zoli and Aladar, mentions an amulet that might be more than it seems. After being found by Aladar’s mother in her youth, the reader is treated to flashbacks that show how the trinket affects her, Aladar, and Zoli, sparking some very interesting conversations between these characters. It is a nice touch to the story, giving strength to the conflict between Aladar and Zoli.
Overall, the novel does a great job of developing the characters and delivering some excitement towards the climax. It struggles with pacing, though, as the author does not have enough action to match the colorful and varied flashbacks that take up the majority of the text. I would be interested to follow these characters on more adventures (especially a grown Daniel), and if there are to be further installments, the author has created a strong base from which many more stories could be told.
Pages: 136 | ASIN: B012FYUQNE
Posted in Book Reviews, Four Stars
Tags: action, adventure, alex kertesz, amazon books, author, book, book review, books, crime, death of a gypsy, ebook, ebooks, fantasy, fantasy book review, fiction, janet hannah, marriage, murder, mystery, novel, publishing, reading, review, reviews, romance, stories, writing
Science Hasn’t Yet Been Able to Explain
Author Janet Hannah takes some time to have a quick discussion about her book, Mystery Time.
Mystery Time is set in the beautiful and history rich city of Prague. Why did you choose this city for the setting of your third book featuring microbiologist Alex Kertesz?
I chose Prague because it’s a beautiful and intriguing city. I read mysteries for entertainment, and my goal in writing them is to provide entertainment for other readers who enjoy the same things – interesting settings and characters and entertaining dialogue.
There is an antique watch that is at the center of Mystery Time. But the watch is more than a simple time piece and even seemed to come with its own moral compass. Where did the idea for this magical watch come from? Did any of its effects develop organically in the story?
The mysterious watch is outwardly one of the early watches created by Swiss watchmaker Abraham-Louis Breguet, but I brought it into the story as a link between modern times and the fascinating Louis-Joseph-Amour, Marquis de Bouille, on whom the character Julien-Christophe is based. The marquis, who was a contemporary of Napoleon, wrote one of the most impressive memoirs I have ever read, bringing the events and personages of his era to vibrant life. As for the unusual qualities of the watch – people do “see” things that science hasn’t yet been able to explain. This is something that has always interested me.
There was a mysterious bond between Alex and Hildegard that I found to be intriguing. How did their relationship develop while you were writing the story?
That developed as I tried to follow a relationship between two such people through its natural progression.
Will there be a fourth book featuring microbiologist Alex Kertesz? If so when can your fans expect it to come out?
There is a fourth book in the series, but it has only been published as a Kindle book. It takes Alex and his son on a trip to Albania in search of a missing Gypsy.
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Mystery Time An American microbiologist dies on stage as he is about to lecture at a scientific congress in Prague, an apparent victim of local criminals. Professor Hildegard Kraus from Heidelberg and her Hungarian born colleague Alex Kertész from Jerusalem, who hear his last words, are left wondering whether one the the assembled scientists might be the real killer. Whoever it was has also taken Hildegard’s watch, a treasured family keepsake with an intriguing history.
Posted in Interviews
Tags: Abraham-Louis Breguet, adventure, amazon books, antique watch, author, author interview, book, book review, books, ebook, ebooks, fantasy, fiction, interview, janet hannah, Julien-Christophe, literature, Marquis de Bouille, mystery, mystery time, napoleon, Prague, publishing, reading, review, reviews, stories, swiss, urban fantasy, watchmaker, writing
Mystery Time by Janet Hannah will leave you lost in a bit of a mystery, but in a good way. Professor Alex Kertész and Hildegard Kraus found themselves in the shadow of trouble after the death of a colleague caused the loss of a timepiece that would reveal itself as more than a teller of time. As though instinctively determined to get it back, Kertész and Kraus’, expeditions take them outside of their science convention in Prague, into the unknown. Escaping unwanted advances and skirting uncertain thoughts of desire, murder, lies, secrets and fate find their way into the lives of the two scientists. As if public speaking was not a daunting enough task, Professor Hildegard now has to contend with her colleague dying in her arms. After Bernard Green’s almost lifeless body crashed into Hildegard, professor Alex Kertész, assisted her in taking Green into a room, where his dying confession would direct suspicions to his killer. A fellow colleague and longtime rival, Joe Klein, would be in the hotseat as authorities tried to identify Bernard’s Killer. As casual as his death was expressed it guided the story onto a new focus, the loss of the watch. While the death of a colleague is traumatic, Hilgard had lost her own husband about a year earlier. Bernard, before his passing, had borrowed a watch that Hildegard’s husband had given to her. The timepiece however, was not found on Bernard’s body and she was intent on getting the watch back; no matter what it took. Alex, even endangered his own life in an attempt to retrieve the watch, although he had didn’t understand it; other than it was important to professor Hildegard. There was a mysterious bond Alex held with Hilgard, that added intrigue and romance to the story in subtle bits, as the plot thickened. After retrieving the watch, whenever Hilgard touched it, she had unexplainable visions. Somehow she could see Alex in pain at some point in time, future or past, she could not tell. While the watch did not trigger visions in Alex, his pains seemed to trigger something in the watch. He had his own past and present demons to fight, some from his previous life in Hungary and one by the name of MaryAnn. MaryAnn was a giddy headed girl, who did not understand or seemingly respect that Alex was a married man. Even though, ironically, his own thoughts of Hilgard never seemed to conflict with his marital status, although his admiration, on some levels, mimicked MaryAnn’s.
As their lives continued after the molecular biology congress, the death of Bernard Green remained unsolved and new information came to light about research Joe Klein argued with Green about, hours before his death. Hildegard and Alex worked in sync and found some shocking revelations that would help solve the mystery and motive of Bernard’s death, and it questioned the integrity of a few. Integrity was also a matter in the history of the watch. Dating back to previous owners, it was a trait that all owners were confronted with, as though the watch had a moral clause. The book tells two stories, one progressing in time and the other going back in time. The parallels between the stories indicate that this cosmic occurrence could have been linked to previous owners. The watch may have been mechanised to somehow defy the laws of physics and not only capture time, but instead a moment, but this watch had only known moments of pain. Mystery Time is a very interesting and unique read that will leave you inspired.
Pages: 241 | ISBN: 1432788442
Posted in Book Reviews, Four Stars
Tags: action, adventure, amazon books, author, book, book review, books, death, ebook, ebooks, fantasy, fiction, janet hannah, literature, mystery, mystery time, publishing, reading, review, reviews, science ficiton, stories, thriller, travel, urban fantasy, writing