King of the Blind ISBN: 9780980689488 Matrayah Media, 2018 Australia, written by Caiseal Mor.
The author opens his tale with a few words from a very wise old man who once told him there was “a way to avoid all of the trials and tribulations of mortal existence. Those who know this secret are always merry and forever blessed with good fortune. They are well-loved and welcomed.” He further instructed that “if you carry a pocketful of this magic ingredient with you, you’ll never go hungry and you’ll never want for laughter, music and good company. The secret that unlocks all these wonders is a simple one. Gratitude.” The author further states “This is the story of a man who learned how to be grateful.”
The tale then is presented of Turlough O’Carolan, purportedly the most famous of harp players of the 1700’s, an era when such travelling entertainers were much in demand. Actually, this is a story within a story as told by Turlough’s faithful servant who had accompanied him on his travels for many years. It includes quite precise descriptions of the devastating stages and effects of the often encountered Small Pox disease which had blinded Turlough; quite complete descriptions of various houses and dress of the day; Harps of the time compared with more modern versions; the gradually increased influence of music from the continent; the Irish involvement in many insurrections; involvement of the ‘Good People’ who only the English would designate as ‘Fairies’; and more.
Discussion: This is a charming Irish tale replete with whisky, blarney-tinged facts, stories hinting of the fallacies of Bonnie Prince Charles and his battlefield inadequacies as well as those of other Kings; the inter-relationship of the King’s soldiers and the rebellious Irishmen; humor; music and a romance of sorts. All contained in a tale which takes too much time ‘in the telling’. However, if it were shortened, it wouldn’t be an Irish tale.
5* Charming blarney tinted tale of music, mirth, history, romance.
Fractured: Dereck Dillinger and the Shortcut to OZ ISBN: 9781483599373 apparently published copyright 2017 and written by Eddie McPherson.
Thirteen-year-old Dereck is plagued with requests from his younger sister Jessie to read and re-read stories of Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Hansel and Gretel and more. If he does not she runs to their mother complaining. However, he loves his little sister and complies. His widowed mother must make a short trip leaving him to take care of Jessie. A violent storm arises during the night, she awakens him calling for help, the electricity fails, attempting to find his way he falls into the cellar and steps into a seemingly bottomless hole. Eventually he strikes bottom and discovers it to be the same rabbit hole that provided the prominent beginning of activities in The Wizard of OZ. However, here he is offered a short cut to the Wizard which will allow him to return home much more quickly to discover what has caused his sister to call him.
Discussion: The author has developed a plot woven around the basic Wizard of OZ with added fragments of other of Grimm’s Tales, additional fairies, good and bad witches and similar figures of fantasy. Fundamentally it is a well-written action packed thriller with humor and periods of suspense that provides a strong positive message of kindness, perseverance and family fidelity. It should have an appeal to children in the 6 to 12 or possibly slightly older group and as an aside, parents may find it somewhat more enjoyable to read to their younger children.
4* As described.
Hunt for Harald’s Gold ISBN: 9780996657396, assumed published, copyright and written by Jack Dancer.
This book is sub-titled A Scottish DNA Love Story and appears in part to have some semblance to these elements. Ostensibly a group of twosomes has been gathered together who have been discovered to be DNA-matched lovers to journey to Scotland to search for a huge gold nugget that has been lost for centuries. The group’s leader is a physician specializing in DNA research who had spent time in Africa where she encountered strange characters who pop up later in the story while the couples are searching for the huge nugget. Simultaneously it seems that a large group of African school girls had been captured by Boko Haram, transferred to an evil woman doctor who dismembers them to sell body parts as requested, on the black-market. Her headquarters and laboratories are on the Isle of Skye. One of the recruited members of the DNA couples is Tucker, who is the designated partner of Billie, the DNA specialist leading the couples on the nugget search. The reader discovers that he has had a former encounter with the evil doctor that has left scars, in spite of being partially successful. The other group members are of varied backgrounds and many not what they supposedly represent. The body part suppliers and the gold hunters cross paths by design as we discover and the tale proceeds to no ending but rather this volume serves as a first installment for the next.
Discussion: On the good side, readers may find much of the book to be an amusing read with a mass of action contributing in a highly confusing manner. A caveat must be include however in that there is abundant, often irrelevant sexual activity and most graphic depiction of un-anesthetized anatomical destruction. Furthermore and regrettably, from this reviewer’s perspective, the author has written a totally confusing volume with a bizarre admixture of Scottish legend, the fairy world, romance, a bit of science, activity by an unusual transgender hero and many improbabilities typically found in the fantasy genre. It also apparently is the first in a series.
Summary: A multi-genre book for readers who enjoy zany tales and don’t mind reading serials.
3* 4* Multi-genre zany tale for devotees; others 3 – 2*.
My Sister’s Detective, a mystery/suspense/romance assumed to have been published, copyright and written by T. J. Jones.
Eric Slater has returned home after retiring from the Navy where he served considerable time as an NCO apparently somewhere around a Master Chief level in the Military Police, often working in affairs concerning Naval Intelligence and closely with civilian police. He is living in the home left to him by his loving mother who had died some time earlier. His mother for years had performed housecleaning chores for the mostly very wealthy residents of “Point Road”, a relatively short distance away. During summers when school was out and he was eleven and she could not find, or was unwilling to pay for a babysitter, he often accompanied his mother when employed. He sat in the car all day playing games and/or reading comic books. Eventually a few of her customers noticed him and invited him inside to read where it was cooler. One of these had a son a year younger than he. This David Templeton was a lonely boy with whom he formed a close relationship and soon he was spending most of his time at the Templeton home. The boy was gay but neither of the children were aware of the matter at the time. They were just two youngsters who grew into a closer relationship because they were too awkward for anyone to want on their team when games needing sides were chosen. The relationship was placed pretty much on hold during the school year because Davey attended private school while Eric’s was public. During summers, the relationship resumed and strengthened as the years went on but did not have any homosexual aspects. Eric was completely enchanted by Angie Jefferies who had a younger sister Maggie who was mostly ignored and otherwise a nuisance. The story begins to unfold years later when Davey is found dead in their barn, seemingly having hung himself. Angie does not believe it was suicide, Eric begins employing the investigational powers learned during his years as an MP, and the reader is taken on an intriguing journey through a complicated plot where presentation of more detail simply would be a disservice to the prospective reader.
Discussion/Conclusion: A sensitive, partially qualified ‘detective’, caught in an investigation involving an old love, old acquaintances and a budding new love interest. The tale is an often amusing, occasionally poignant, purposely slightly sexist, suspenseful investigation of the darkest of criminal activity that involves closely related family members. A unique plot, interesting characters skillfully handled and suspenseful action throughout.
5* Most enjoyably suspenseful detective romance.
FINALITIES, A Mattie James mystery, published, copyright and written by M. A. R. Unger.
The story opens with Matti arriving at London’s Gatwick Airport accompanied by Joe Chauncey, her occasional love interest and former CIA operative with many clandestine operations in his past. She, as a forensic facial reconstruction expert of some reputation working from the coroner’s office in Las Vegas, has been assigned along with another from England, to attempt to discover the identities of 3 soldiers found recently in an unusual shallow grave in Oxfordshire near an old Roman site. The three are believed to be American soldiers from the 1940’s when Americans were there preparing for the invasion of France. Unfortunately, only some dog tags eventually were discovered and these were bundled together shoved down the throat of one corpse. For undisclosed but supposedly cogent reasons both countries’ defense departments desired all activity to be performed with as little attention as possible. Matti, in her apparently usual manner, digs deeper into the mystery beyond doing her assigned job and becomes an object to be destroyed because desperate family members must keep unsavory activity from being revealed. Action shifts between Oxsfordshire and Las Vegas, USA where members of the family now are wealthy film makers with few scruples and with connections to a powerful mob boss of Matti’s acquaintance now have become active players. Other prominent characters include a retired army major, Gregory Reynolds, along with Matti’s assumedly long-standing wealthy friend Linda and her ‘inbetweener’ friend Abby – the spirit of a dead person still not having left earth for the beyond. The plot eventually terminates in a satisfactory manner.
Discussion/Summary: This sixth book in this mystery series is a well-written, interesting story with a quite unusual plot and provision of details of some lesser known forensic investigative techniques. Helpful bits of information also are gained at most appropriate times from Matti’s ‘inbetweener’ friend Abby. Parenthetically, Abby’s help amusingly brings to mind an inclusion many years ago in a science journal that often included cartoons and other amusing bits. One was of a young researcher had placed a long complicated formula on the blackboard as solution to a difficult scientific problem. An older mentor, points to a section in parentheses that had been included in the center of the formula and says “I believe we need a little further explanation here.” The section pointed to read “here a miracle happens”.
5* Interesting and often amusing mystery suspense thriller.
The Seventh Guard – Destiny Expires. This version of Paperback ISBN: 9781732450400 Copyright and written by Francis A. Halpin presents a fantasy sci/fi alien suspense tale in an e-book version.
The story centers around, Robert Lowden, who has only acquired his GED but appears to be extremely bright especially with computers. The only job he seems able to get is as a computer repairman at a local store selling electronics. He is able to retain the position as long as he does NOT converse with any of the store’s shoppers. He is rude to them completely lacking in social sense, never seems to be fully engaged but instead appears to live on the edge of reality. He has one friend, David, a well-educated individual on his way up the usual ladder to success and Jennifer, his similarly situated girlfriend, both of whom ‘see something of almost compelling interest’ in him. Robert becomes involved in numerous unusual and humorous as well as dangerous situations not the least of which is deciding a flashing light bulb in the store’s rest room is providing an alien code. He involves David with disastrous, but simultaneously rather amusing, results and the story gathers steam to advance to a most unusual, but logical conclusion.
Discussion: Entry into the story begins with a quote from Albert Einstein along with another by Stephen Hawking. Einstein: “Everything is determined, the beginning as well as the end, by forces over which we have no control. It is determined for the insect, as well as the star. Human beings, vegetables, or cosmic dust, we all dance to a mysterious tune, intoned in the distance by an invisible piper.” Hawking: “I have noticed that even those who assert that everything is predestined and that we can change nothing about it still look both ways before they cross the street.” Combined they very nicely set the tone of the book. It is thought producing, yet humorous in many contrasting ways. It is a suspenseful alien thriller/mystery, yet provides slow moving areas that editing could correct. In all, the author has provided a fascinating tale of secret codes existing in commonly occurring phenomena surrounding us that should provide thoughtful moments for the alien theory devotee. Definitely a 4*- 5* for such readers and probably for computer addicts. Regrettably somewhat less for others.
4-5* for alien theory devotees, computer addicts; somewhat less for others.