Archives for March 2016

Author Interview: Brian Laslow

bgs-fb-page-profile-shot This author interview features Brian Laslow. Brian Laslow has been in the business of security for over twenty-five years and his debut novel is called The Marijuana Project. The Marijuana Project explores the connection between morality and medical marijuana from the perspective of a security expert. I selected this title from the Book Club Reading List.

When did you decide to become a writer?
People over the years have told me what I do for a living (security consultant) is fascinating.Medicalmarijuana I took on a medical marijuana client and as I became engrossed in the debate, it occurred to me that the combination of the two things may make an interesting story.

How long does it take you to write a book?
It took me about ten months to write this book.

How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
This is my first novel. I wrote an industry book but that was a much different process.

What are you working on at the minute? What’s it about?
imagesI have the beginning of the sequel to The Marijuana Project but right now I’m mostly marketing the current book. Of course I’m also still a security consultant.

What is the hardest thing about writing?
For me it was making sure I’m in the right mindset for writing. there were times i forced it and the end result was not a good read.

What was the easiest thing about writing?
For me it was the plot formatting. I have an organized mind so it was easy for me to formulate the plot and know what was next to write.

soccer-ballWhat do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I’m a soccer Dad! I also enjoy cooking and woodworking. However, I work a lot.

What book/s are you reading at present?
Killing Reagan. It’s funny, I really enjoyed writing the fiction book but I enjoy reading nonfiction better.

What is your favorite book and why?
Lest Innocent Blood Be Shed. Very powerful story.

Nuns and Severed Limbs … A Religious-Historical Murder Mystery: Book Review of “A Newly Crimsoned Reliquary” by Donna Fletcher Crow

newly-crimsoned-reliquary (1)Donna Fletcher Crow’s A Newly Crimsoned Reliquary is the fourth installment of ‘The Monastery Murders’ series. You can read an interview with the author here. I selected this title from the Book Club Reading List.


The Monastery Murders series center on the characters of Felicity Howard and Father Antony. Felicity is an American citizen studying at the Anglo-Catholic College of the Transfiguration in Yorkshire. Antony is a church history lecturer at the College of the Transfiguration. He and his estranged older sister Gwena became orphans when he was ten and she was fourteen. They were taken in by an aunt and uncle in Blackpool.

The action in The Newly Crimsoned Reliquary starts about three months prior to the wedding of Felicity and Antony. saintFelicity heads to an Oxford convent to translate an early Medieval Latin document on the life of St Frideswide, the patron saint of Oxford. Antony plans to join her soon to deliver a series of lectures for his seminar titled “God in Oxford”. However as soon as Felicity arrives at the convent a series of chilling events unfolds. First dismembered body parts suddenly appear in ancient holy reliquaries. Reliquary-Shrine-of-St.-Amandus-1250-1275Felicity discovers that a relic has been replaced by a severed human hand at the celebratory patronal festival in honor of St Frideswide at Christ Church:

“Sister.” Her voice was raspy with the effort of controlling the scream she felt rising in her throat. “Say a prayer and send the people away.” Dorcas stared at her openmouthed. “Do it!” She repeated. “That’s no relic, no matter how well preserved. That hand is fresh.”

Another relic has been replaced by an amputated human foot at the Ashmolean Museum. Then there is the mysterious disappearance of Monica, the Mother Superior, assaults on Felicity and a nun, and a fire even breaks out at the convent. Antony experiences professional loss when one of his students is found dead. It might just be that there is a connection between the Latin document Felicity is translating and the repeated series of attacks.


The Newly Crimsoned Reliquary is expertly written. Most impressive is Fletcher Crow’s interweaving of the past and present with vividly detailed descriptions of historical events and current life in Oxford.

At the corner of Cornmarket and High Street she paused at Carfax Tower, which marked the center of Oxford. 18941953.019955c6.240Carfax was the Roman designation for crossroads, and surely this was the busiest intersection in the city. She glanced up at the clock on the tower that was all that remained of St. Martin’s, which had once been the official church of the city for civic events. Ah, just a few minutes until noon. She would wait and hear the Quarter Boys strike the hour before she went on. The two Romanesque figures stood with their hammers at the ready below the motto Fortes est Veritas: The Truth is Strong.

Fletcher Crow provides a rich picture of religious culture and history. Some readers might get a bit impatient with the amount of religious detail or worry that it interferes with the story. However the careful detail is perfectly appropriate given the subject matter of religion practices from past to present-day and adds complexity to the story. There are thoughtful reflections on the role of religion in society today. Philosophical issues even emerge as Antony is called in at the last minute to debate the existence of God at the Secular Atheist Student Society.

After all, how did one prove the existence of God? His field was church history. He knew the classic approaches: the ontological argument, the first cause argument, the argument from design, and the moral argument. A full university course at the least. Better, a lifetime of study and thinking. How to present that in a limited time to a hostile audience?

Despite some of the more grisly details the personal element to the story is not lost. The romance between Felicity and Antony continues to flourish. Felicity becomes friends with Antony’s actress sister Gwena after she unknowingly sees her performance in a theatrical play at the Oxford Playhouse. Antony deals with family problems such as his uncle’s declining health and reconciling with his relationship with Gwena.


I highly recommend The Newly Crimsoned Reliquary to anyone who enjoys a good murder mystery. Although this is the fourth book in a series, the story stands alone. One does not feel the need to have read the previous books to understand the plot although it is extremely likely that they will want to go ahead and read them.

A Newly Crimsoned Reliquary (The Monastery Murders #4) by Donna Fletcher Crow (2014).
229 Pages.
Greenbrier Book Company, LLC
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