Black’s Beach Parallax

Black’s Beach Parallax
ISBN: 9780692224311, an e-book thriller including numerous long contentiously debated occurrences of the 1960’s and following years by Scott Spade.

Plot: A prologue speaks of a package from Jack O’Malley addressed to his grandson and not to be opened until after his death. The story then proceeds to follow Jack’s life. It begins with his first job as a fresh UCLA graduate at Astro Dynamics, a company working under government contract; follows with his dismissal with downsizing ordered by McNamara; activity at making a living as a professional gambler with his discovered ability to read cards and gamble (in San Diego where small mom/pop gambling houses limited to a few tables of “games of skill’ of insufficient interest to attract the Mafia and their larger Las Vegas ‘games of chance’); to receipt of an offer from Gene, a brilliant former co-worker who has taken a position with an ultra-secrete ‘Think Tank’- the offer is too good to decline but requires clandestine activity that includes deposition of information in a far-removed hidden place; additional activity as a real estate investor and ultimately as a dealer in futures. Abundant, well-described ‘hippie’ and subsequent other sub-culture activity of the era is included and the story moves at a good pace, especially considering the amount of information that is included.

Discussion: The author has provided a most interesting story that should have appeal on two levels. First, a story depicting a period within the United States of tremendous upheaval and change viewed largely from the activity of one ‘largely committed’ active participant of the era. Specifically: “…embracement of the counterculture revolution in social norms of clothing, music drugs, dress and sex. Eclectic psychologists, antiwar activists, sexual-freedom advocates, new agers, draft dodgers, college professors, discussions ranging from intelligent interchanges to new-age gibberish.” Second, a most provocative re-counting and re-examination of the involvement of prominent governmental personnel and agencies in many of the controversial happenings of the times – Vietnam War, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, Kennedy’s assignation, Nixon activities, aspects of the Cold War, Cuba, Batista and Castro, others.

Conclusion: Fascinating, not documented perhaps, but at least tantalizingly provocative circumstantial evidence of FBI, CIA and even higher elected/appointed governmental official involvement in nefarious clandestine activity. The author has enclosed this material in an easy reading tale of an intelligent young college graduate as he ‘goes with the flow’ of the somewhat tumultuous era of the 1960’s and beyond. It is particularly intriguing to the reader interested in, and conversant with the tales set forth daily by the media with respect to political maneuvering and the myriad suggestions of malfeasance and innumerable other improper activities extant today.

5* Excellent conjecture on governmental malfeasance enclosed in enjoyable tale of another era.

PANACEA

PANACEA, is a story in e-book form set forth in an unusual but interestingly effective format by Brad Murray.

Plot: The story begins on May 29, 2011 when Jimmy Porter sets forth on a trip to receive word about his long missing father after receiving a telephone call from a Dr. Dimitri Minskowi. On the way he is involved in a horrifying pile-up of cars as it occurs when a large number of assorted and strangely acting animals stampede from the adjacent woods, one killing a motorcyclist on the highway causing the chain reaction. From this tumultuous beginning, the reader is taken on a journey through a strange sequence of actions/activities as they gradually begin to reveal the evolution of a strange tale of search for an individual with an unusual immune system. The search originally was initiated in 1945 with the downfall of the Third Reich and the escape of a Jewish POW whose immune system was able to repel and/or annul the effects of any deleterious element that attempted to invade. It is a far-ranging, convoluted hunt involving numerous characters with many ulterior motives ranging from personal greed, gain and revenge to sincere altruism, and including various levels of deceit, deception, betrayal and subterfuge.

Discussion: If you are a reader who enjoys a pleasant story fancifully and charmingly presented in a fast-moving fashion, this story is for you. Buy, read and enjoy but DO NOT reads beyond this point UNLESS you are a devotee of more traditional mysteries.

SPOILER ALERT! Regrettably, the case so pleasantly but rather cavalierly presented by the author would not be the simple matter described. A U.S. Citizen is murdered in a U.S. State city within the jurisdiction of the local police. However, ties are discovered that lead to a foreign country and include the victim being a member of the FBI involved in clandestine activity in a foreign country – an activity that more usually would be the concern of the CIA and INTERPOL (The FBI does maintain some offices overseas but more probably would only tangentially be involved in an incident as described.) Additionally, the level of activity described by the local Savannah authorities is difficult to accept as well as description of the range of Arthur’s dispersal of government money. His cache of weapons also does not seem to have any logical reason.

Conclusion: An interestingly plotted story fancifully and charmingly presented, but not for most usual mystery devotees.

3* Interesting plot, fascinatingly, charmingly presented; not for usual mystery devotee.

The Bulls of War

The Bulls of War is Book I of The Chronicles of the Andervold Thrones, a historical novel in e-book format by E. M. Thomas.
Plot: In a time of almost constant tribal/clan/territorial warfare, Kyrus, a young warrior on patrol with his father’s division survives an attack by Valogarians who kill his father and brother. As time passes he becomes the leader of the distinguished unit. His closest friend Tyghus rises through the ranks with him, and when Kyrus, unexpectedly and unwantedly is appointed Khorokh (Emperor) of the Unified Rokharians and Ten Provinces, he appoints Tyghus to take his place as the commanding general. Kyrus had been appointed by Rensyus, the dying Emperor, and accepted by the reigning council of Peers of the Realm. Rensyus had kept peace in the realm in spite of the exact split in voting by the Council with respect to war/peace. Tyghus’ sister, Tigra was to become the bride of the leader of the Valogars to further the peace that Rensyus was maintaining and he had believed Kyros could be persuaded to follow in his footsteps. Instead Kyros, separated from his close friend and convinced by rumors and innuendo by and from the war-inclined group that Tyghus no longer was a friend, becomes paranoid in the extreme. He sides with the hawks, declares war on the Valogarians, alienates other powerful members of the Peers and proceeds to become a devious tyrant. Tyghus and incidentally his sister are caught up in the viciously burgeoning set of inter-territorial circumstances. A host of other characters play parts at varying levels of importance in this tale as it gradually advances to provide a provoking base for the next episode in The Chronicles.
Discussion: The author has made an intriguing interpretation from existing records of a long-ago era to present a fascinating story of court intrigue, a paranoid ruler, and honorable individuals who become unfortunate pawns in a vicious game that leads to horrendous destruction and devastating loss of human life. Most regrettably, this magnificently researched presentation provides at least for this reader, a degree of disappointment. A map is provided, but a magnifying glass is required when attempting to find/revisit the territories and other features involved, and portions of the rhetoric although of historic importance, often slow, rather than advance the storyline. Also for some readers the plentiful supply of characters with historically correct but unusual names, possibly are enough to provide a pause in assimilation, thus further interfering with the story’s pace.
Conclusion: A minutely detailed fictional story recounting political maneuvering resulting in massive land/human destruction based upon research of a seldom examined pre-Christian era. Historically and fictionally engrossing presentations where, regrettably at least for this reader, either or both could be greatly enhanced with judicious editing.
A parenthetical and perhaps totally irrelevant but depressing comment is the notable reoccurrence today of the political maneuvering that existed then and no doubt even in earlier times. It is hoped that the destructive resultant activity so graphically and well described by this author remains only historical and/or fictional.

5* Engrossing history/fictional tale; 3* judicious editing would greatly enhance for this reader.

Constant Guests

Constant Guests
ISBN: 9789730209419, an e-book whose genre is difficult to delineate by Patricia Nedelea,

Plot: The story of Isa, a young woman’s quest for answers to questions originally searched for by her real mother, and to discover her real father. Her present mother, Victoria is the proper lady and her father, a crippled athlete but highly successful motivational speaker who ‘is never around’. Isa wants no part of refinement/education. Her fashion statement emphasizes the “rebel without a cause’ generational influence – green hair, ripped jeans, nondescript shoes and a T-shirt saying I am not a bitch, I am THE bitch. She has an abrasive personality, is constantly negative and disparaging those who provide help, has a brutal way of telling the truth, creates friendships which she drops for no reason and finally is left with no one to whom she can turn except Claude, a cyber guy. Then, she discovers that her most proper mother Victoria is NOT her birth mother but she is the daughter of Victoria’s sister, Mara whom she had been told was Aunt Mara, maintained alive but in a coma now for years after an automobile accident. Unexpectedly, after these many years, Mara regained consciousness and she was to be taken to see her. Mara dies while she is there, she is attacked by a masked man, saved through action by a young man, Mark Zweifer. She discovers a tarot card and embarks upon an extensive journey through much of Europe to finish her true mother’s quest and to discover the identity of her true father. It is a most convoluted journey involving many ‘twists’, an interesting thought with respect to the bible, extensive 14th century historical activity mingled with that of the present and an exhaustive history of, and search for the original tarot cards and their significance as related to the existence of an alternate world. The tale is replete with characters providing a wide range of activity.

Discussion/Conclusion: The author has provided a provocative tale of the increasingly popular theme of existence of an alternative/parallel world. Further, she has done so by using the results of some extensively researched material on tarot cards and weaving it into an engaging conjecture. She has made it happen through provision of a sizeable number of not particularly well characterized individuals who exhibit all levels of duplicity, deceit, subterfuge, cruelty and betrayal. Unfortunately, the ‘light’ characterization makes any attempt at empathy difficult to say the least. The genre is multiple – historical, occult, thriller. Thus, at least for this reviewer, better characterization and judicious editing would have greatly increased the level of pleasure in reading this plot-driven, well researched, provocative approach to the increasingly popular alternative/parallel world theme.

3* 5* Provocative alternative world plot; 3* reasons below in discussion/conclusion.

The Die Game

The Die Game
ISBN: 9781614564737, Sarah Book Publishing, Soft cover, a historical novel by Stephen A. Carter.

This second book in the proposed series of four follows the protagonists as they continue with their adventures during the American Civil War. In the first volume, the reader meets John Saxton, son of the owner of a Boston shipping empire as he is shepherded through a sailing introduction ‘before the mast’ by Marcus Brown, trusted family retainer and giant former Massi warrior; their ensuing activity; John’s marriage to lovely negro Virginia; their collective escape while on the couple’s honeymoon aboard ship from Fort Sumter as it falls; their ensuing evasion of pursuit and ultimate arrival at home. In this volume, John, now owner of the shipping empire upon his father’s death and Marcus, now wealthy and owner of a sizeable ship as reward for his outstanding activity, are persuaded by Alan Pinkerton to meet Lincoln who accepts their idea of building a new design ‘iron clad’ shallow draft ship and organizing an all-black group of rangers to infiltrate enemy lines to provide intelligence and commit havoc. Both projects are completed and the story follows the subsequent activity. John also becomes involved with gaining intelligence through use of the hot air balloon. Virginia is importantly involved in the earlier portions of the book as is Marcus’ wife, Belle and a couple of the old villains continue in their roles of importance. Numerous other, both fictional and historical characters, are involved as the tale progresses from an engaging thriller to eventual provision of historical fact interspersed with fiction and thoughtful comments on the negro/white relationship.

Discussion: The author again has provided a historical novel that deals with the political and other burgeoning problems that plagued the country leading to, and during the American Civil War, and again has approached it from a different, unusual and refreshing viewpoint. It is well researched with weaponry and other equipment correctly described and utilized. There is special emphasis (well-presented, in this reviewer’s opinion) on the wide schism between the two sides and even among free blacks and creoles with respect to slavery, and the grudging and resented acceptance and use of blacks and even Indians by the white military. A number of interesting and pertinent observations are provided relevant to the close interpersonal, political and military infighting as well as the hypocritical attitude of the military, clergy, and others, especially with respect to the racial issue. Somewhat disappointingly, the novel’s exciting ‘thriller’ aspect morphs in the closing chapters into a fiction-laced account of actual military unit activity. Parenthetically, during this activity, one of the important characters is affected in such a manner that subsequent participation would seem to be curtailed enough to make this reviewer wonder how this loss will affect action in the rest of the series. But that is the author’s concern and we look forward to seeing where the story goes from here.

Conclusion: An entertaining continuation about the devastating conflict as the new nation struggled with a chaotic schism between the strongly held but dichotomous positions existing among the people of the era as examined from the author’s notably unbiased, enlightened viewpoint. Most regrettably, a caveat must be provided for those (hopefully few) readers who cannot accept what today is termed ‘politically incorrect’ verbalization and activity even though it is entirely correct historically.

4* Engrossing, ‘different’ historical novel with a slight ‘hiccup’ thriller wise; caveat for parochial readers.

 

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