Jael Lyn

Author at http://www.100megsfree3.com/fauxpaws08/jaellyn.html.

Back to School (Sentinel)

Reviewed by Kathryn A on 31st August 2000

A bit of post-TSbyBS angst - but nicely understated. As the summary said, "sometimes it's the little things." The little things that get you. The little things that count. The Jim and Blair here were done right.

Behind Closed Doors (Sentinel)

Reviewed by Kathryn A on 13th November 2001 (3)

This one, early Blair-as-cop, is a good case story. The ending was perhaps a bit rushed, I was hoping for a little more, but it was still good. The opening with Blair not being a surprise shooting ace, much as I enjoy stories which have made him so, it's a bit more believable that he isn't. The mystery here is good; it takes a while to unravel what actually happened, with some good detective work along the way, and I didn't guess whodunnit, which is good. There were some good points too -- Jim's habits of treating Blair as a civilian are dying hard; but in the midst of all this there's also some fun banter.
    Jim sized up the possibilities from the doorway and barked at his roommate. "Chief, if you don't get out of that bed and at least make coffee, I'm not going to leave you one drop of hot water! Now get up, or you'll have to spend the day at the station impersonating a poodle."
    Blair flipped back enough quilt to expose his face. "You are evil, man. You're going to come back in your next life as a cockroach."

Blame Game (Sentinel)

Reviewed by Kathryn A on 8th September 2002 (4)
Tags: Novella

The summary says "A series of murders leaves Major Crime with more questions than answers." And not all the questions are about the murders. This is a post-TSbyBS case story, which not only managed a decent mystery, but snuck in a thought-provoking point or two about people's reactions to Jim's abilities, one which I'd never seen before and was an eye-opener, worth remembering.

Blitzkrieg (Sentinel)

Reviewed by Kathryn A on 7th September 2000 (1)

The plot of this story was a clever and unusual idea; no psychos, no megalomaniacs -- the enemy is... well, that would spoil it, wouldn't it? Blair gets to shine with his analytical abilities, we see a little insight into Joel's past... and the good guys eventually win. This used the fanon idea that Jim can't manage his senses without Blair there; which was part of the crisis, causing Our Heroes to pull long shifts in order to work together. This didn't particularly bug me, I just thought I'd point it out. However, I got the impression that the author lost steam before she got to the end, and tried to finish in a hurry. There were things I would have liked to see in more detail, particularly near the end, which were just covered in a brief narration.

By Dawn's Early Light (Sentinel)

Reviewed by Kathryn A on 7th October 2001 (7)

Unlike many of Jael Lyn's stories, this one doesn't take place after TSbyBS. "The holiday season is complicated by a series of miscommunications." This was pretty good; it's so true that Jim trying to give Blair the free time that Blair needs, could be interpreted as rejection. I liked the way Blair's journey in the storm was described, bit by bit, all the police emergency duty stuff -- and the bit with Simon and Jim about the donut. There were bits of fanon too (like Blair's university doesn't even give him time to research his diss, and that the Volvo is unreliable). And I wanna hear that conversation Jim and Blair had after the end!

Full Circle (Sentinel)

Reviewed by Kathryn A on 13th November 2001 (2)

The author declares that her story is too similar to the Novations story "Upstairs, Downstairs" and that that story is better than hers. I don't agree -- I think they are both good in different ways. I loved the Jim point-of-view here; how he was angsting and jumping to conclusions, and trying to figure out how to get what he wants -- without actually telling Blair what he wants! There are some great lines here -- take the opening paragraph:
    Sandburg is gone, away for four days at a computer conference. I hate losing my partner, even temporarily. I knew I was sunk the minute Simon stormed out of his office, surveyed the troops, and let his eyes rest on Sandburg. In fairness to Simon, who else could he send? Rafe and Brown do okay, and my total lack of patience with all things computer - well, we don't need to go there. They want this new system to work. Even if I made it through the lectures in Olympia, at some point I'd end up chucking monitors through the windows. Great press for Major Crime. Civilians slaughtered by computer components from the sky. It was a no-brainer. Sandburg officially became our new systems expert and packed his bags.

Naturally, if you can't stand Blair-as-cop then don't read this one.

Hide and Seek (Sentinel)

Reviewed by Kathryn A on 8th September 2002 (2)
Tags: Novelette

This is a post-TSbyBS story which is half case-story and half character story (or should I say, pensive aftermath, silly fun, and Blair's social life). As is not unusual with this author, the case is mysterious and the solution Blairishly inventive, though I felt frustrated at the loose ends lying around. As for the Blair situation, one suspects that Developments Might Ensue.

I Didn't Hear The Sentinel (Sentinel)

Reviewed by Kathryn A on 7th October 2001 (6)

This story started off well, with a cranky and bothered Sentinel, and Blair trying to calm him down. But it left me going "huh?" at the end. After a little thought, I did figure out what had happened, but Blair's guilty reaction was completely uncalled for and didn't make sense to me.

New Year's Surprise (Sentinel)

Reviewed by Kathryn A on 7th October 2001 (8)

I think if I hadn't known what had prompted this story, I might have relaxed and enjoyed it more; as it was, I was wondering about what was going to be revealed at the end, all the while I was reading it, so I couldn't appreciate it as much as I might have. So what is there to appreciate? There's action and danger, and Blair gets to be heroic and clever. (Jim is naturally heroic, so one doesn't tend to mention that)

Outside These Walls (Sentinel)

Reviewed by Kathryn A on 17th July 2002 (4)
Tags: Novella

If you like parallel universe stories in which Blair didn't meet Jim in Switchman, you'll like this one -- so long as I give you the reassurance that they do meet. The interesting thesis of this story is that, in meeting later, rather than have their lives fall apart, both Jim and Blair have had a chance to mature a little more. Not that I'm saying that the Jim of canon isn't mature, but in relation to his senses, he isn't, not really.

What did I like about this? Let me count the ways... I liked the poignant bits where they almost met. I liked the idea that Jim was planning his life like he'd plan a mission. I liked how, even in this parallel universe, the characters were true to form, even the minor ones like Chancellor Edwards. I liked the bit in the newspaper offices where they were speculating about the mysterious reclusive James Ellison. I liked how the meeting of Jim and Blair was led up to in seeming coincidences. I liked how Beverley Sanchez was used. I liked the bit about the Wonder Burger. And there were also good lines:
    They were sitting on a bench, munching on some apples they had just purchased, when the introductions were made. Brown and Rafe. Blair smirked at Jim and asked, "Is everyone you work with a giant? You guys run a basketball team on the side?"
    Henri laughed. The big man certainly didn't look the image of a tough cop. "Wait till he meets Joel. He'll think we're all a bunch of mutants."

    Eli Stoddard smiled over his coffee. If these young people didn't relax, they were all going to have a heart attack simultaneously. That would be the ultimate irony. The septuagenarian guest would be calling 911 at ten in the morning for a group of thirty-somethings.

One could almost argue that what ends up happening was too good to be true; as if the author took many of the major flaws of the series and crossed them off, tick, tick, tick. What deep problems are there left to write about? Well, I guess reconciling with Jim's family, that's left... Sequel, sequel!

Patrol (Sentinel)

Reviewed by Kathryn A on 7th September 2000 (3)
Tags: Novella

The author thanks members of the Sentinel Angst list, for their comments enabling her to improve this story, and it shows. This shows more polish than some of her earlier long stories. The setup for the whole thing was well done; no vicious powerful person with an axe to grind, trying to separate Our Heroes, no, it was the police union! And Simon's eventual solution was great! McMillan as Blair's new partner was perhaps too much of a straw man, but the laxity of Cantor, the Captain of Patrol, was plausible. (This one and Blitzkreig makes me wonder if the author has a lot of experience in wrestling with bureaucracies.) I did a double-take at one point, because I started getting two characters mixed up, because their names were so similar - one was McMillan, and the other was called Miller; both cops in Patrol. I liked how Sandburg tried to fit in, didn't complain, but that his true worth was noticed by those who gave a damn. It was an interesting thing to have Jim not notice his zone-outs, though the idea that Jim needs to have Blair with him when he works, or his senses gradually get out of control, is pure fanon.

There were some real fun bits of dialogue (though there were also a few places where a persnickey spelling/typo beta would have helped).
    "I look like a Nazi."
    "Correction -- I look like a Nazi that escaped from nursery school."

    "You haven't told me if you like your lunch."
    "How can I like it when you won't tell me what it is?" answered Jim sulkily.
    "Since you inhaled the entire serving I assume it was okay."


[Blair is meeting Megan in a grocery store to avoid Jim]
    They had come to a stop near the milk. Blair placed a small carton of chocolate milk in her cart and winked. "You just seem like a chocolate girl to me." Megan rolled her eyes.

I particularly like this one:
    "I always wondered what the final trip to the guillotine must have felt like. Now I know."
    "Relax, Sandburg, don't jump to conclusions."
    "I don't have to JUMP anywhere, Detective Ellison. I'm going to get fired, you're going to get charged with assault. They're going to keep us in cages in front of the station and feed us stale breadcrumbs as examples of what happens to all bad children."

Of course now I've quoted all the fun bits, maybe you won't want to read the rest...

Addendum: nominated for favourite drama story in the 2001 Cascade Times Awards.

Piece By Piece (Sentinel)

Reviewed by Kathryn A on 7th October 2001 (10)

This one is another post-TSbyBS story; it opens with a nice domestic scene and banter, and then goes on, in the next scene, to the Big Surprise of the story. I found the actual surprise pretty plausible, but the manner of its revelation was a bit hard to believe -- I don't think real, er, documenters, would have been that unwarningly intrusive, or taken a lack of answer as assent -- how stupid and rude! What if Blair was out or on holiday or had moved, for goodness' sake? However, it did make things very dramatic. But the actual point of the story, and what Jim is prompted to do as a result, that's good.

I'm not entirely sure which version of the story I prefer -- with or without the epilogue. The one without is in some sense more focused, but if the epilogue hadn't existed then I probably would have been whining for one.

Pomp & Circumstance (Sentinel)

Reviewed by Kathryn A on 5th September 2000

Another post-TSbyBS snippet. I liked the way this went; Jim looking around in the basement storage, making a discovery, being hit with a metaphorical two-by-four, feeling guilty -- and Blair's reaction was good too; both annoyed and mature, followed by teasing. I liked that, though it was angsty and smarmy, it wasn't over the top. And I liked the point about healing.

Secrets (Sentinel)

Reviewed by Kathryn A on 13th November 2001 (4)

This is a sequel (it's more than an epilogue) to the episode "Secrets". The summary says: "When Colonel Normal Oliver died, that chapter of Jim Ellison's life closed... or did it?" This is a very good what you might call a courtroom drama, because it isn't running around finding out whodunnit, it's running around (with lawyer) trying to prevent someone being framed. There's a good touch of Jim-angst, and Jim-hurt (well, getting rashes and headaches, does that count?) and Blair burning the candle at both ends. This was good.

Think Outside the Box (Sentinel)

Reviewed by Kathryn A on 10th September 2002 (1)
Tags: Novella

In this post TSbyBS story, "Jim's a little burned out, and Simon sends the partners out of town, hoping to give them a break." Of course, things don't end up being that simple -- but one can't even blame trouble-magnetism for what happens. This was a good roller-coaster ride. Jim isn't just stressed, he's post-traumatized, won't tell anybody, Blair and Simon are desperate, and the situation Blair and Jim end up in only makes it worse for Jim. There's good character stuff, good partner stuff, good detective work, and a likeable supporting character. Making the conference organizer possibly sinister was perhaps a bit of overkill, at least at the end, though during the middle it did add yet another source of worry to the story. I did like that the main stress was not the usual kind of thing one sees in a TS story. And I liked the way that this was thoughtful, the solution not easy to find -- and that Jim wasn't the only one under stress.
    Jim. What to do with the impenetrable wall of Ellison? Something was under his partner's skin, and he had no idea what. An anniversary of some painful event? A current case? Failed love? If the guy would just TALK to him it would be a hell of a lot easier.
    He arranged the produce in the cloth bag he used for shopping, and bought a coffee for the trip home. Jim had the right to the privacy of his own thoughts. When did he have the right to intervene? Wasn't that what friends were for? Or was his role to provide some nonjudgmental support while Jim worked this out?

This Is Not About You (Sentinel)

Reviewed by Kathryn A on 7th October 2001 (9)

Warning: I advise anyone who hated TSbyBS not to read this story. What happens here -- especially the first scene -- stirred up in me all the reasons why I hated that episode. Here we have some unexpected (and unjust) fallout from the diss-aster. It stirred me up because the logical answer, to me (that Jim stop pretending he isn't a Sentinel, and fight for his right to be not treated as a freak) is the completely opposite of what does happen here. However, given all that, what does follow in this story is pretty well done -- the argument between Jim and Blair is a good bang-up one, and you can see why both of them go too far. And I really like the conversation Joel has with Jim to knock some sense into his head; there were some good points there. The last line is good too.

Through a Glass Darkly... (Sentinel)

Reviewed by Kathryn A on 7th September 2000 (2)

Again with the good ideas, man! The mystery in this intrigued me, stumped me. Again we have Blair shining with his ability to see patterns in apparent randomness. Again, unfortunately, we miss out on some of the details. One thing in particular niggled at me, that I would raise as a plot problem: at one point in the story, they remark that someone must have leaked the address of the Loft -- but they never follow up on it, to find out who did it, even though I would have thought it was a serious compromise of security. Yes, there were practical jokers involved, and yes, the very good point was made that Sandburg needed to fight his own battles, but since more than just a practical joke was involved, I would have expected them to still have followed it up. But there were more good bits. I loved the bit with the kids in the library. And Sandburg's brainstorming session. This story amply demonstrated the detectives' adage: "If you know why, then you know who." Because that was the central mystery: the incidents were staged, but nobody could figure out why.

To Run, To Chase (Sentinel)

Reviewed by Kathryn A on 8th September 2002 (3)
Tags: Novella

Yes, this author is good at case stories, as this one shows. We have a mystery with not enough clues, a heroic Jim (who turns into a frustrated stressed-out Jim), a run-in with Ranier politics, not to mention student gossip, and some good detective work. One thing that I felt was hard to believe was the actions of the Dean, which felt too much like Deja-vu in reverse, and didn't seem probable enough, though they were an easy source of angst. I like how the guys work together, though.
    Jim popped the latch on the seat belt and awkwardly got the passenger door open. "I hate it when you're right," he mumbled. The slam of the truck door was just for effect.
    Blair hopped out on his side. "Feel better now?" he asked with a grin. "You can kick the elevator too if that'll help."

We Gather Strength (Sentinel)

Reviewed by Kathryn A on 7th October 2001 (5)

This is a post-TSbyBS story; the latest case which Jim and Blair are assigned to turns out to be a lot more traumatic to those concerned than anyone expected. Naturally if you can't stand Blair-as-cop, don't read this story. But it had some good points to make, I think, while going right for the Blair-angst, while Jim tries to figure out if he can do anything, or if what he's doing is just making things worse.
    "Jim, I'm fine. Don't mother hen me and blow stuff out of proportion. I want you to let it drop."
    "What if I don't think that's such a good idea," replied Jim tersely.
    "I will remind you of the million and one times we've ignored some sensory thing for your because we were busy at the moment. We're busy now."
    Jim tried to gauge Blair's mood. The man could be world-record obstinate. "I'll let it go for now, because we are busy, but you're not off the hook."
    "Just drive, Jim. Just drive."

There were points when I exclaimed "oh no!" so I guess that means I was pretty involved in the story; though there were other points when I went "huh?" so it wasn't perfect. The ending was unfortunately sort of glossed over, but as the author said, she didn't really know enough to write about it properly.