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Burning Water (Diana Tregarde Investigation) Mass Market Paperback – October 15, 1992
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"There are days that I think that I would much rather be Diana Tregarde than anyone else...."--OtherRealms
About the Author
Lackey often teams up with both her fellow masters of fantasy, such as Andre Norton and Anne McCaffrey, and talented newer writers Rosemary Edghill. Married to artist and sometime co-author Larry Dixon, Lackey, who was born in Chicago, lives near Tulsa, Oklahoma.
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Much the way Heinlein was a social science fiction writer, Mercedes Lackey addresses ethics, morals, honor and belief systems in almost all of her work. This is another example of that done well.
Briefly, this story is about Diana Tregarde helping an old college friend, now a Dallas homicide officer, with a series of ritualistic murders. Diana is a self-proclaimed witch with some unique powers that just might give her an edge in figuring out this series of grisly murders.
This series came out before the big trend of powerful female characters fighting he forces of darkness. Truthfully, if I had read it when It first came out, I would have probably given it a much higher rating. But now, a lot of the things that I would have thought were inventive and cool concepts seem awkward or just not handled as well as it could have been. Diana says she is a witch of the new age type. (The term wiccan is used only once in the entire book.) While she does say she is using spells, her powers (and the powers of all the others in the book) are psionic powers. (I guess that would make Professor X of the X-Men a witch as well.) It read like it was a fantasy but using science fiction explanations.
Diana gets a little preachy at times about accepting those that don't fit into "normal" society. I was living in the Bible Belt when the story was set (and still living there actually) and I really can't say that new age followers (including wiccan, witches , druids, and others) were really persecuted and having to hide in fear. (Yes, I did know quite a few people that fit those categories.) I guess it was more of a live and let live, even if you thought the other was a weirdo. As a final note to this, after all of this talk of acceptance, Diana calls a German a Kraut. Not very accepting of her.
Another problem is the pacing of the book. A lot of books of this type, the action would only last a few days before the final confrontation between the good guys and the forces of evil. This book takes months for everything to happen, but you only know that because of off-hand comments made by the characters. Now this is more like it would probably happen in real life, so it is a plus. But on the other hand, one of those reasons came off as contrived. During her investigation, Diana hits a "trap" when mentally probing which causes her not to think of some fairly obvious things. (The readers are given the information from the start with just makes it even more of a problem.) When Diana finally figures out this information, it leads to a very anti-climatic conclusion. This conclusion was again probably more believable than most of the other stories of this type, but it was not very satisfying.
I guess I have become accustomed to fantasy books saying magic exists without trying to explain it scientifically. I am also used to the quick pacing with big flashy conclusions. They may not be as close as they could be to real life, but considering mental powers, like those described in the book, are not part of real life either. Just go ahead and accept the fantasy moniker and make magic magical.
These were the problems with the story. There was good things as well. The characters and premise were promising and interesting for most of the time. It had enough appeal that I will try the next book in the series (especially considering I already got it when it was on sale). Would I recommend the book? Probably, but with reservations.
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I live in Dallas, so I try and pick out where the author might be talking about.Read more