Mouth of the Rat

Mouth of the Rat ISBN: 9781938701672 Telemacus Press, Book 5 in Samantha Jamison Mystery Series by Peggy A. Edelheit.

Plot/Characters: Samantha (Sam) a mystery author constantly pushed by her editor and publisher has just been persuaded to visit a friend in Boca Raton, FL. The friend Mona, a college friend long removed, suddenly has an emergency that Sam cannot resist. (Her next story?) It seems that Mona’ husband, Marco has been killed, she has been left with instructions to find and give to his uncle Carlos his extremely valuable collection of cars and his condo. The problem is that she does not know where the cars are garaged, nor can she find the uncle anywhere. The story evolves as Sam attempts to discover both and encounters a mass of impediments as the search advances with numerous serious consequences awaiting any misstep. Marco was heavily involved in illegal activity, he was killed with Mona’s pistol (she has a permit to carry), Marco’s ex-wife doesn’t yet know about his marriage to Mona which is fortunate because she is believed to have very lethal tendencies. Another ex-wife also turns up, although rumors exist that she may have died in an auto accident (been run over –twice) along with two very large thugs, one with a poodle, neighbors Sylvie and Bunny and Irving who had ‘heard/saw things’ the night of the murder, Sydney and Nikko, neither of whom seem to be who they are supposed to be, and of course’ Sam’s AARP triumvirate of mystery-solving partners, Martha, Betty and Hazel.

Discussion: This is the third novel I have read in this series and all have involved zany players actively engaged in a plot of duplicity and deception with murder and mayhem working their way to an acceptable ending. A historical note about Boca Raton is included.

Conclusion: To repeat a conclusion I have used previously to describe books in this series: This book presents an amusing romp through a complicated plot with rather zany characters involved in a type of madcap activity that appeals to many readers in this seemingly well-received series.

5* Another amusing romp by the regular and new zany characters

Molto Mayhem

Molto Mayhem
ISBN: 9781537184081, is an amusingly presented story set in Italy in e-book by Deanne Wilstead.

Lucia is a 10-year-old visiting family in Italy with her mother and father when they tragically are killed in an automobile accident. She is desolate and will speak to no one but only wants to return to her home in San Francisco. The best efforts of her uncle, Gianni who also is trying to console his wife Cristina who is equally devastated because of her love of her sister and even their young son Mario’s attempts to aid are futile. A decision ultimately is made by the Head of the Family. Nonno, the grandfather, when he decides to take the young Lucia home to America and leave the eminently successful construction business in the hands of his son Gianni. In America, he successfully opens a grocery supply where Lucia helps by stocking the shelves and other menial tasks. She has many ideas for business expansion but Nonno, she is convince, would not consider any such ideas,. Fifteen years pass and Lucia now has returned to Italy to visit the family where she supposedly is to learn to ‘cook Italian’. Many changes have taken place in the family during the ensuing period. Gianni was spectacularly inept at running the business; Cristina, exhibited an adeptness and now runs the construction company successfully; Gianni has become a Chef Par Excellence, and Mario has gained a significant other named Jaime. All of these changes the family believes must be kept from Nonno because of his strong belief that women do not properly belong in positions of authority and other traditional views. Additionally entering the plot is Aiden, a young Englishman whose Godmother Francisca had left him her Villa della Fontana. He and Lucia meet. The young man’s villa unfortunately is in a state of almost complete disrepair. Cristina takes on the restoration project which is hampered by the loss of an icon from the property and must be replaced in order for the work to be completed and the chaotic situation gradually progresses through a number of related and unrelated issues. Suddenly, Nonno returns and eventually a satisfactory conclusion is reached.

Discussion: The author has exhibited an apparent love for a very provincial Italy that most regrettably like Spain, France, Mexico and similar largely has disappeared. Hopefully, it still may exist in some rural and/or ‘out-of-the-way’ sections of the country and can provide the wistfully charming thoughts/reminiscences of a type of people and way of life once prevalent in these beautiful countries. She has been able to capture this unsophisticated social behavior quite appealingly and amusingly.

5* Appealing story of unsophisticated social behavior seldom encountered today.

 

Rubber Match

Rubber Match, an unusual tennis story in e-book by Marcus Paul Cootsona.

Plot: the reader is introduced to Wally Woodrow Wilson a 59-year-old tennis professional with his most attractive wife Danielle who are visiting colleges with their high school senior son Deuce who is quite adept at various form of magic and would prefer to try his hand in Las Vegas. They are accompanied by their red merle Australian Shepard, Rod Laver, the dog. They also have a daughter Addie who is in college and has a best friend, Ashley Margincall. Ashley is the daughter of an immensely rich parent who gives her huge amounts of money which apparently she employs in a highly successful entrepreneurial manner. From this point the story takes off to provide a tale of a stolen Dutch masterpiece painting, search for which involves Wally, his family and a host of other amusingly unconventional characters in a rambling story most prominently involving a remake of the format of the Davis Cup Tennis Tournament.

Discussion: The author is a highly regarded tennis professional and “lapsed playwright” with two other books and routine contributions to Tennis Magazine to his credit. His story here is an amusingly presented parody of tennis – and more specifically of the Davis Cup Format. Here he references the changing mentality of modern society. Tennis was begun in another era when life moved at a more leisurely pace. Today the average attention span of any millennial, the fastest growing group of consumers, has been found to be EIGHT SECONDS. Thus sports are increasingly being criticized for time consumed. Golf is ridiculous; 3 hours of football includes actual playing time of 11 minutes; baseball, 18 minutes; tennis time wise, probably is the best at 31 minutes of activity in 3 hours. An interesting example the author provides is the fact that Nadal takes as much as 45 seconds between shots compared with a match in 1969 between John Newcome (deceased Australia) and Rod Laver where time between shots routinely was clocked at 6 seconds. With respect to the flow of the story, it does so nicely except for some slightly annoying proofing errors more prominent in the later pages. Of particular interest and fascination to this reader was the author’s inclusion in this zany story of a deeper conviction: “96 % of the universe is dark matter. Nobody has seen it. Nobody may ever know how it works. That’s you.” You are controlled by destiny. “So, you can’t sit back and ask destiny to do its worst. Because it will. And nothing will happen. At least nothing good. You have to participate. With faith. And with goodwill. And without expectation. The way to be in control is to make a decision. Even if it seems risky.” A most thoughtful suggestion.

5* Amusingly unconventional story of tennis and assorted other activities

A Second, Less Capable, Head

A Second, Less Capable, Head, And Other Rogue Stories
ISBN 9781937818395, Sand Hill Review Press, an e-book by James Hanna,

This book has been termed a fictional, satirical anthology and several of the 19 individual stories are just that. Others often are quite short vignettes that along with one or two others contain pathos and perhaps even character insights. In this reviewer’s opinion, the book’s title story presents an amusing statement; The Guest (2), also an amusingly well done parody on today’s government; Exposed (3) pathos; Fruits (5) a scathingly good similar depiction to number two, as well as adding the all-too-apparent present day ‘human’ attitude; similarly, The Sicilian (7), Breaking Vials (8), Honey Bunny (9) present interesting issues. Hunting Bear (12) introduces the sociopath featured later in an advanced condition of psychosis in Hunter’s Moon (17); Another Will Take Your Place (18), the story of a serial rapist and one of his victims again, as with numbers 12 and 17, scathingly depicts the fallacies of today’s criminal system, but this latter, also provides an interesting comment/conjecture on one victim; The Break (14) presents a realistic picture of a chase of escaped prisoners.

The author has provided a well written/paced anthology of unusual stories that range from being too simplistic for this reviewer to others that quite scathingly capture government/establishment mismanagement as well as human frailties. Thus, a somewhat dichotomous conclusion.

3* Dichotomous for this reviewer; 5* excellent satire and pathos; 3* several too simplistic.

FIXIN’ To DIE

Fixin’ To Die (1)

ISBN: 9781635110401, Henery Press, a Kenni Lowry Mystery Series presented here in e-book by Tonya Kappes.

Plot/Characters: Kendrick (Kenni’) Lowry is the elected Sheriff of Cottonwood, Kentucky, a small, sleepy town in which everyone knows everyone and their business. She had majored in judicial/criminal investigation and assumed the job, against her mother’s wishes, after the long-time sheriff, her adored father, had passed away. She is awakened in the morning by her office “calling all units”, really unnecessary because she was the only unit since the lone deputy had retired. Anyway, she reported that Ronald Walton, the town’s old doctor, was dead seemingly murdered. Shortly thereafter, she is called again about a break-in at the town’s jewelry store. From this auspicious beginning the reader is taken on a variously paced ride through the town and surrounding environs, it’s surprisingly many hidden elements and the people involved to greater and lesser extents. Included among the characters are Finn Vincent, a Kentucky State Reserve officer assigned to help, Wyatt Granger, the county jailer, longtime resident Sterling Stinnett, Edna Easterly, the town reporter, mobile café owner Jerel Fisher, Lulu McClain, owner of a boutique of the same name and troublemaker, Camille Shively, M.D. the new doctor in town (who had argued bitterly with Walton), town dentist Beverly Houston, Toots Buford who had worked for Walton and was fired, Polly Parker, and her parents, Chance Ryland the town’s mayor and others of lesser importance in solving this heinous crime and the jewelry robbery as well. AND most prominently, Kenni’s dad who returns in his ghostly form to aid his beloved daughter.

Discussion: The author has devised a plot that is unique, has some interesting twists, and depicts quite knowledgeably a small town and its people in an engaging manner that will bring smiles to readers who ever have experienced such an environment. For those who enjoy mysteries with a touch of the occult and ‘a ‘homey’ setting, this book especially is for you. Readers who prefer the more usually ‘structured’ mystery where obvious clues are not ignored/missed and protocol is followed probably will not enjoy.

3*                      5* For devotees of ‘homey’ mysteries featuring the occult; 3* for traditionalists.

 

Let There Be Linda

Let There Be Linda
ISBN: 9780990544227, Laugh Riot Press a dark comedy/thriller in e-book format by Rich Leder.

Plot/Characters: Mike is a middle-aged steady, honest CPA following his mother’s teachings in a large prestigious firm in L.A. and is expecting a partnership. Instead he is ‘let go’ when an account he is managing goes bankrupt and the senior partners are threatened by the bankrupt developer. They blame Mike and to cover, hint that he may not have handled the account properly so he no longer is employable in the profession. His wife leaves with his two daughters, returning to N.J. and her mother who never liked him. Meanwhile his brother Danny a neer-do-well wastrel like his father who left years ago for New Orleans and never returned, runs a flea-bag talent agency and bets the horses. The two men are inextricably bound together by an oath their mother made Mike swear on her death bed. From this point the plot takes off on a bizarre rollercoaster ride of absurd proportions involving a motley group of characters including a dwarf, a giant, a dentist, his weird wife and his sword wielding girlfriend, a cop who wants to be a ‘stand-up comic’, a zombie, an accountant, a talent agent, a weird ‘gypsy-like girl who can bring back the dead’, a clown and others assembling in a Pawn Palace (Pawn Shop), a police deposit area for impounded cars, a couple of wacky houses and a badly degenerated Airstream trailer with the entire tale ending in a ‘sort of all’s well that ends well’.

Discussion: The plot for this book may best be explained by the author’s own words: “Great thanks to two of my heroes, creative artists who have entertained me, educated me, guided me, and encouraged me over the years, geniuses who, in one way or another inspired the bloody irreverence that became this book.” They were Monty Python “who made me laugh since 1969” and “Quentin Tarantino, a brilliant filmmaker whose orchestrally violent and hilarious movies leave me awestruck.” Specifically, the plot is in turn, or perhaps symbiotically, inventive, wacky, bazaar, absurd, and insane but also verbally well done, fast paced, ridiculous and containing psychotic twists, graphic violence and at best may be considered a twisted example of black comedy involving complex characters who mostly are barely unbelievable.

Conclusion: The author has provided a book whose distorted humor and often graphically described violence will have great appeal for a certain type of reader. Others, including this reviewer, will find a well-written, well-paced story that has little appeal. In other words, you’ll either love it or discover it provides little ‘entertainment’.

3* 5* for readers described; 2* or less for the others.