Cold but Not Forgotten

Cold but Not Forgotten ISBN: 9781509226504 Wild Rose Press copyright and written by RJ Waters.

The book opens with an excerpt where Lieutenant Carlson the protagonist and story teller, informs the reader that he, and his two buddies, Gary Horton and Joseph Malone are the 3 who conduct criminal investigations for all of Elko County, a section of Nevada the size of Maryland have gone to the range for their required shooting requirement. They arrive and Native Indian Joseph checking the sky for weather sees two vultures circling. He, followed by the others, runs up the berm and discover a body lying about seventy-five yards away. It belongs to Diane Morrissey, the wife of a local Dentist. It appears that she “died today because her cell phone failed.” She had been crawling toward the area of help and had succumbed just shortly before their arrival. She was covered in blood but there were no discernable injuries. From this grisly introduction the reader is led into, and through, a rather thoroughly convoluted and complicated plot. Diane, enormously well liked, was married to a man who unfortunately constantly was attracted to other women and additionally had an active on-going affair with his office manager. Numerous other actions by the man also pointed strongly toward his guilt as he was moving his practice to Las Vegas. However, numerous additional characters gradually become involved in the expanding mystery. There is a physician who specializes in dispensing supplements especially for marathon devotees. A lonely, elderly, somewhat recently widowed neighbor whom Diane befriends; her friend/rival marathoner, wife of another dentist who has partnered with Diane’s husband in buying out, and moving to, the La Vegas practice; plus a little known live-in friend of the Dentist’s office manager. Other characters offer their own interesting bits, especially Joseph, Carlson’s investigating officer who is a Native American Indian with tribal Shamanism blood and an owl that provides him with insights into cases in which he is involved. He, in turn, introduces Carlson to one of the tribe’s elders which introduces a sub-plot. Another sub-plot sets up discovery of missing facts that offer data for the main mystery and are a fascinating twist of their own. Also included are allusions to an earlier case of Carlson’s in which he had been involved in another position in another state.

Discussion: The author has given the reader an interestingly involved mystery with credible action and an array of activities that routinely could be included in the overall work days of a police officer in the position depicted. And, it specifically describes such activity being performed by one of these individuals who portrays the best qualities of such an officer and very nicely emphasizes the tremendous strain imposed upon such individuals’ loving wives. Thus, one has a story of multiple crime investigations that includes, as so often is needed, a bit of luck, the usual homicidal, often psychologically disturbed characters’ but additionally some ‘nice’ people not that frequently found in police investigative tales.

5* Recommended, well-written mystery for readers who enjoy a less jaded police tale.

Slater’s Tempest

Slater’s Tempest assumed published, copyright and written by T. J. Jones.

This 3rd book in the Slater Mystery series follows former Navy Seal, now PI Eric Slater, as he and his ‘working for her license’ love Maggie embark upon solving another mystery. This one is in the Florida Keys where the much loved daughter of an exceedingly wealthy tycoon supposedly died when hurricane Irma tore through the area in 2017. It was believed that Isla the daughter, had taken her beloved dead mother’s boat, the Caroline, out trying to save it by sailing it to safety. Slater is contacted by the tycoon when he receives in the mail a neckless that his purportedly dead daughter never removed. Slater and Maggie, with aid from Jasmine, his young ward who is eighteen, brash, overconfident with a mind of her own, but really a most intelligent and nice young person who enjoys ‘pushing his buttons’. It seems that the old man has ALS with a remaining 3 -5 year life span. He now was struggling with numerous additional complications arising from his less than exemplary life style. After being cleared of killing his first wife with whom he had been totally in love, but both had ‘messed-up’, he had married a beautiful younger woman. Seemingly, his money was not important because she really cared for this much older man as a result of her own early problems. His daughter Isla, close to the new wife’s age, did not equate well with her and for that matter believed her father did kill her mother. He had a brother who was intelligent and a part owner of his company, but actually was a ‘playboy type’ individual interested only in the money, not the company. The caretaker for his mansion actually was a brilliant engineer who helped develop many of Dunbar’s products. This man’s longtime live-in Asian friend/wife (?) who serves as the mansion’s cook also had some strange type of relationship with the owner’s family. Then there is a local PI who works as a barman at his son’s local tavern and whose other son is a recluse growing marijuana. Still others are entangled in the very complicated plot that even includes a ghost of Eli, an old sailor in some manner associated with the dead wife and/or the house. All in all, an interestingly involved tale including mystery, romance, humor, many psychological overtones and even a touch of the occult that the author ultimately is able to untangle.

5* Well-written, addition to the seemingly popular developing series.

The Outbreak of a Monstrous Infection

 

The Outbreak of a Monstrous Infection ISBN: 9781535616027 Book Fuel Copyright and written by Afshan Naheed Hashmi, PhD, C(ASCP), RAC.

The author opens the book with a quote from Donald Trump, then proclaims that “I feel safe and healthy in America. (Thus) This book is dedicated to all Americans and to the Movement: “Make America Great Again.”” Congratulatory statements follow on “this beautiful publication” by Nilima Mehra, Executive Producer and President Global TV Network, “the first Indian American (Executive Producer of GTV, Washington, D.C.) to broadcast her TV productions on a National TV”, and flattering brief description of the contents of the book by (Retired) Ambassador and former India University president, Har Swarup Sing, PhD. A formal dedicatory statement appears followed with a significant number of acknowledgements, a list of the numerous characters in the story. A lengthy introduction explains “My Story – How The Outbreak of a Monstrous Infection Came to Be” and is followed with further discussion “About the Book.” Finally, at Location 233 (of 935 total) or 22% of the total narrative, Chapter One begins the actual tale. The plot centers on a deliberate release of an infectious element known to be highly destructive upon a world-wide collection of notables attending a lavish wedding. The reason seemingly stemming from jealousy. Subsequent tenacious investigation ultimately manages to unravel the complicate means taken by the perpetrators to avoid detection.

Discussion: The story is an admixture of suspense and various aspects of medical science combined with an extravagantly luxurious life style beyond any that easily can be conjured up by the average American reader, even though occasionally being introduced to articles about the extravagancies in which mostly Hollywood residents engage. Admittedly, this reviewer acquired some understanding of the extent to which these luxuriously appointed activities can rise from a slightly extended stay in India a few years ago. Consulting on an allocation of research monies with the Assistant director of the Tata Research Institute in then Bombay, I was introduced to the father of a graduate student of mine in the States. Another of his sons was a rising star in the early developing Bollywood. We were entertained quite lavishly, shown several properties being considered for an extravagant dinner to be held in the following months. One, the Asoka Hotel in New Delhi, reputedly at the time was able to seat 1000 people for a formal dinner. Thus, the immense wealth attributed to the characters in this present novel are not totally beyond belief. However, the existence of such huge numbers being held by so many in the medical profession alone, does raise some measure of credibility. With respect to the verbalization and mechanics in general, a ‘stiffness’ in action and conversation seemed to pervade and material with regard to investigative activity was far too inadequate for this reader as well, no doubt, as for most crime story devotees.

Conclusion: The praise for this author’s first book on business affairs seemingly have been sufficient to establish her as quite a good writer. Perhaps she should continue in this area of endeavor, or if wishing to enter the field of fiction writing, acquainting herself more thoroughly with the area, along with attempting to find a good editor would be most helpful.

2* Regrettably and apologetically to an apparently fine author of non-fiction.

A Spell of Murder

A spell of Murder ISBN: 9781838880958 Bookouture, London copyright and written by Kennedy Kerr.

The story follows the activities of two local but very modern witches as they attempt to solve a murder that appears to involve some manner of witchcraft. Their home belonged to their parents in the small town of  Lost Maiden’s Loch, named for the small lake in Scotland which had gained its name from  a young maiden who mysteriously had drowned in its waters. The sisters’ parents had been quite knowledgeable of the dark arts, even purportedly have taught the subject. The two young presumed witches are thirty-year-old Temerity Love, owner and proprietress of Love’s Curiosities and her 2-year-older sister Tilda, each quite accomplished in different most unusual subjects. Temerity was the proprietress of a small antique shop, Love’s Curiosities, in their home, but more importantly was a world renowned clairvoyant who had the gift of psychometry or psychic provenance that allowed her to gain extensive history of an item merely by touching and/or holding it – a talent of immeasurable importance in the antique and collectors’ world. Tilda was an authority, verifier and dealer in rare books as well as an Herbalist. Thus, their designation. The plot involves a number of prominent characters living in the town as well as the Laird, his home, wife and former wives, his sons, two of his old mansion’s remaining staff members, the town’s police officer, his quite newly arrived replacement along with Temerity and Tilda and their unusual knowledge as they attempt to unravel the mystery surrounding the death of a relatively newly arrived school teacher.

Discussion: As aptly explained by the author, this is a tale about “a little Scottish village alongside one of those strange, sometimes enormous lochs. A gossipy, cozy village where, sometimes, strange things happen and two local witches are on hand to investigate…” This reader found the description basically to be quite accurate and, for the most part, the story enjoyable. The only detracting features were insertion of ‘Americanisms’ in an otherwise Scottish tale and a sense that the charming picture developed in the book’s earlier chapters would have continued unabated if a little more judicious editing had been employed in the last third of the volume.

3* Charming mystery tale with slight caveat.

The Voice of Death

 

The Voice of Death assumed published, copyright and written by Lawrence J. Epstein.

The reader is introduced to Danny Ryle, the protagonist, as he is being asked by an old friend of his father to ‘do-away-with’ a man who had stolen his wife. It seems Danny’s father, now infirm with a caretaker, had been the best at eliminating unwanted persons. So good in fact, that he never had been caught and was known as ‘the Ghost’. Danny, however, although extremely clever and a card-carrying congressional investigator specifically hired by a very wealthy member of the House, will do nothing unlawful. But, because the man asking Danny the favor is such a good friend of his father’s, he is asked by his father to at least speak to the wife stealer. They leave, enter the building where the supposed man is attending a New Year’s Eve Party and Danny is greeted by his beautiful wife Hannah. His father and the friend enjoy the joke they have played and with this background material for readers unacquainted with the characters, the tale begins. We discover that Danny and Hannah are raising Jennifer, a small child orphaned when her parents died in a horrible accident. They are attempting to make the child’s life as normal and full of love as is possible. Unfortunately, Hannah formerly had been in a marriage that did not work out and the ex- suddenly appears and proves to be a scumbag. He never signed the final papers, although he had said he had. He had an ulterior motive and wanted her back and would use the law if necessary, because she and Danny had committed bigamy. He is killed and Hannah is the most likely suspect. At the same time, Danny’s congressional boss similarly is the most prominent suspect in the death of his not overly attractive, but very wealthy wife. The story unfolds as he gradually attempts to solve these murders in order to save his wife and his employer. While thus engaged, he also encounters a woman who just won a huge lottery jackpot but has a unique problem that only he, with his strange set of acquaintances, can solve. The ending is not easily predictable and interesting.

Discussion: This is a fascinating mystery, or mysteries, filled with intriguing characters that keep the reader on the edge of his/her seat until the end. It is a mystery lover’s tale that even a pragmatist can enjoy in spite of the frequently encountered bits bordering on incredibility.

5* Mystery lover’s tale with a caveat.

Munching on the Sun

Munching on the SUN ISBN: 9781775111122 an e-book copyright and written by Mark Paul Oleksiw.

The story opens with a young man reciting a bit of the dramatic play Frankenstein on an empty stage in an equally empty theater at midnight. The single spectator is the Dramatics Professor who overheard the intruder’s entrance and came to see what was happening. From this unusual beginning the reader finds him/herself proceeding through the life of a very conflicted and confused young student as he and his friends advance through their senior school year. He is an extremely disciplined young man from a loving family and with an older sister with mental challenges. Through his dedication, he has succeeded in advancing her to a seemingly relatively normal manner of existence. He is tremendously well-liked and a natural mentor-of-sorts to his classmates. Much of his enduing problems stem from the fact that he becomes totally enthralled with a girl recently arrived with her strict family from India. Their evolving relationship, both reminiscences and on-going, along with his unusual interaction with his sister as well as his classmates, provides, a basis for the strange tale as it unfolds.

Discussion: The author has set forth a most unusual story in an intriguing manner that makes a reader want to follow to its termination. For most readers, this is sufficient. However, for a few who are inclined to think more deeply with respect to a character, questions about Lucas, the protagonist, surface and will not ‘go away’. Obviously this is more than a young person’s ‘coming-of-age’ tale and a reader would like to have some basis provided to account for his singular attributes – his dedication, and ability, to raise his sister’s mental acuity; his almost mesmerizing effect upon his fellow students; his actions with Kara; his tendency to react violently to certain stimuli. Similarly, some hint of an explanation for Kara’s unusual actions would be so helpful in providing some explanation for an initial reaction and her often wraith-like appearances. Granted, much of the story depends upon reminiscences, but frequently the reader is not sure which are fact and which fiction. Another feature that is difficult to dissemble is the educational level of the group. Much of the material indicates their senior level of secondary school. Yet much of the academic structure is more specifically of university level. But perhaps this feature only is troubling to individuals acquainted with the idiosyncrasies of academia.

3* 4* Fascinating tale in spite of missing and confusing elements.