The Orphans of Raspay: A Penric and Desdemona novella by Lois McMaster Bujold had fun twists and turns; there is currently one more novella in this series for me to read. I am a huge fan of Bujold so enjoy these immensely.
Shadows in Death by J.D. Robb is the fifty-first Eve Dallas mystery, this time upping the ante with a contract killer villain. There are also bonus appearances of Roarke’s Irish family, proving Robb knows we’re in this for the secondary characters as much as for the mystery. It was an unchallenging read for a difficult week.
All the Devils Are Here was my first Louise Penny novel, sixteenth in the Chief Inspector Gamache mystery series. I’ve had this author recommended to me several times over the years, and decided it was okay to just jump in at the current end. Gamache is a homicide detective in Montreal, but for this book, he and his family are in Paris, where his two children and their families live and work; his godfather is also a major character. I was able to easily pick up the essentials of the established relationships and events and even became emotionally engaged (though likely not nearly as much as longtime readers of the series!). This novel had the feeling of renewal, of tying off some old threads and establishing a new normal for the characters. All those who recommended Penny were right, she’s an excellent writer.
Mr. Carter and Mr. Potts by Speranza is a very satisfying fixit for Infinity War, involving a lot of time travel.
Drive It Like You Stole It: A Bodyswap by AggressiveWhenStartled is utterly hilarious. Hapless Peter Parker is trying to keep an eye on Captain America and The Winter Soldier, who end up in each others’ bodies. This is followed by a road trip to try and cure their problem (which is not, however, affecting their mutual sex life) and scandalize Peter Parker while they’re at it. My description in no way does it justice. The dialogue is just terrific.
almost there and nowhere near it by shellybelle is the Check Please! “Gilmore Girls AU that absolutely no one asked for” but you do not have to have seen Gilmore Girls to enjoy it, because I don’t think I have ever seen even a single episode, and I still followed it fine. It’s basically a small-town romcom featuring familiar characters.
Halo Effect by Alex51324 is first in a series of two stories that the author notes tell me are Alternate Universe Downton Abbey. I have seen a portion of exactly one episode of this show (conveniently, the one where this story branches off), but so far as I can tell that made no difference in my enjoyment. The story starts with a slightly different outcome to an episode that leads to better things happening to Thomas Barrow, a footman in a large house. I gather he is mostly an antagonist in the series. He’s a gay man in the Edwardian period where homosexual activity could lead to prison time at hard labor; the writer seems to have done their research into how gay men of the time managed their emotional and sexual relationships. This story also features the leadup to World War One, which is why I started reading the story in the first place. If you do know the show, there are author notes explaining various shifts in the canonical continuity. Recommended.
Soldier’s Heart by Alex51324 was the second part of the “Halo Effect” series, a massive Downton Abbey AU featuring Thomas Barrow and a host of original characters. I really enjoyed this, though it took over a week to read because of the length. I believe most of the story was original to the author, and a good portion takes place on the Western Front. I was left hanging regarding a couple of presumably-canon-related plot points near the end, about canon characters; that was the only time I think knowing the actual show’s plot was relevant. Overall, the story covers Barrow’s service in WWI and the progress of his career after that, as well as resolution of some apparently canonical relationships. Content Warnings for World War One wounds, deaths, and grief.
Untitled Goat Game by Hark_bananas, whatthefoucault is a lowkey, lighthearted Winter Soldier story featuring a very funny original character, Beth, as Bucky’s therapist. There are serious themes which resolve happily.