Friday, January 10, 2014

White Fire by Preston and Child, Plus One

This is one of those stories you don’t want to listen to late at night all alone.

White Fire coverNarrator René Auberjonois does a superb job bringing this chilling thriller to life. His variety of pitch and rhythm gives enjoyable dimension to each of the characters. His vocalization of the protagonist is mesmerizing.

Authors Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child blend the past and present into a smooth flowing story that has you trying to solve not one mystery, but two from different centuries. The story also involves the likes of Oscar Wilde and Conan Doyle.

FBI Special Agent Aloysius Pendergast goes to Roaring Fork, a small Colorado ski resort, to help out his protégée, Corrie Swanson. In her eagerness to examine old miner bones, she finds herself in jail. The bones, unearthed to make way for improvements to the resort, are in storage awaiting reburial. The miners had reportedly been eaten by a rogue grizzly bear in 1876. But Corrie discovers evidence they weren’t killed by a bear, but cannibals. 

As Pendergast arrives in Roaring Fork, an arsonist strikes targeting multimillion-dollar mansions. But this arsonist has a gruesome streak – the families are bound inside during the fires.

Assisting the local authorities, Pendergast begins to search for the arsonist while Corrie continues to unravel the mystery of the miners’ death. Pendergast determines the two cases may be related in a very dangerous way.

Preston and Child ties Wilde’s story of a rogue grizzly bear and Doyle’s reaction nicely into the present with the violence facing Pendergast. The story moves at a steady pace with chilling twists, turns and surprises that will raise the hairs on the back of your neck. 

From the bone-chilling landscape to the acts of the terrifying arsonist, listeners are drawn in unable to turn away without knowing what secrets the town is hiding. Bits of humor and a dash of romance are woven in to help lighten this tantalizing thriller. The characters are varied from likable to annoying and all manner in between.

WHITE FIRE is the 13th installment in the Special Agent Pendergast series. While some background on the famous agent is missing, new readers to the series can still enjoy this story without any problems.

This enticing tale of mystery, murder and suspense is not to be missed.

The authors’ website is

White Fire by Preston and Child, A Special Agent Pendergast Series #13, Performed by René Auberjonois, Hachette Audio, @2013, ISBN: 978-1619694620, Unabridged, 11 Discs, Listening Time: 13 Hours 

FTC Full Disclosure - This audio book was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.


Have I had you wondering what the Plus One is?

Well, it’s probably not as intriguing as you may have imaged. It’s just an element of blogging I’ve thought about adding to my posts from time to time. It will be a way to share ‘lifestyle’ items with you even though this is primarily a book blog.

While we all enjoy books and writing-related topics, we also have daily lives we live that involve oh so much more. The Plus One will be my way of sharing some of those moments with you. My goal this year is not only to make this a better book blog, but also a well-balanced and blended blog. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this new aspect. 

Now here’s my first Plus One - $75 Red Velvet Cake

I enjoy a variety of cakes, but always seem to stick more to chocolate or plain pound cakes when baking. It’s only during the holidays that I try something different.

This Christmas I made a Raisin Cake for my father-in-law. Doesn’t sound like much, but he wanted one like my mother-in-law use to make – raisins on top not inside the cake. Since she can no longer recall recipes, I searched through her collection to no avail. So I pieced one together and I’m happy to say got pretty close to her cake.

After the holidays I decided to make a red velvet cake (from scratch). I had a recipe that was a bit different from what most of my cookbooks offered.

As I was mixing the ingredients two thoughts came to me:

1. I got this recipe from my best friend almost 30 years ago. I had written the recipe on a piece of paper in the airport waiting for her to catch a plane back to Texas.

2. I realized I had not made this cake in at least 20 years. The last time had been the Christmas before my mother past away the following January. She died Jan. 5, 1994.

cake 1The cake didn’t turn out as perfect nor as pretty as it should have, but then it has been awhile and I made a couple of changes to the recipe. I only used one ounce of red food coloring and I didn’t cut the layers in half.

I’m sharing this to say things will not always turn out perfect or actually as you remember them. But, the more you practice the better things get. Also, sometimes a forgotten recipe (or other items) can bring back fond memories.

I know there are hundreds (if not thousands) of red velvet cake recipes on the internet. This one is probably out there somewhere. Here’s the story behind this recipe that my friend told to me as it was told to her …… a lady ate a piece of red velvet cake at a restaurant, loved it so she requested the recipe. She received the recipe along with a $75 bill for it. Here’s the recipe.

$75 Red Velvet Cake


½ cup shortening
2 eggs
2 ¼ cup plain flour
1 tsp. vanilla
2 tsp. cocoa
1 tsp. baking soda
1 ½ cups sugar
1 cup buttermilk
2 ounces red food coloring
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vinegar

Mix vinegar and soda together and set aside. Cream sugar, shortening, eggs, and salt; add alternately remaining cake ingredients. Add vinegar and soda mixture last. Bake in 2 well-greased and lightly floured round 9-inch cake pans for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Cool in pans 10 minutes.
When cold, split making four layers.


2 T. flour
1 cup sugar
1 cup milk
1 cup butter
1 tsp. vanilla

Cook 2 tablespoons flour and 1 cup milk until thick, set to cool. Cream 1 cup sugar, 1 cup butter and 1 teaspoon vanilla until fluffy. Cream a long time with electric mixer. Be sure flour and milk mixture is cool and blend into creamed mixture. Beat again. Spread between layers and on top.

Do you have a red velvet cake recipe you love or have you heard of this recipe request story? What about WHITE FIRE? Are you a Pendergast fan? Thanks for stopping by today.


  1. Mason - Oh, that red velvet cake recipe sounds wonderful!! Thanks for sharing. And White Fire definitely doesn't sound like the sort of novel you want to read with the doors unlocked...

  2. Nice idea to have a Plus One add on to book posts!

  3. I have been baking for something like 60 years, and I still find it fascinating that people go wild over a cake with vast amounts of red food coloring in it. It is the chocolate that gives the cake the flavor, not the red food coloring, but it is obvious that people think that red velvet cake tastes different or better than a chocolate cake without the dye. I will take a regular chocolate cake without the red dye anytime. The recipe sound wonderful, but I will make it sans the red food coloring. Moistness is the key to a great cake like this. And the books sound really great, but a bit frightening to be home alone to read. .. :)


I'd love to hear your thoughts on today's post. Thanks for dropping by.