Write Yourself Out of this One

Write Yourself out of This One ISBN: 9781951744106 Telemachus Press copyright and written by Peggy A. Edelheit.

This is Book 12 in the Samantha Jamison Mystery series. Once again it is characterized by her very active generic team of Martha, Hazel and Betty, providing backup along with PI Clay and ex-mobster Tony as they scramble through another scenario of mysterious activities. And once again, Sam is at risk, although this time she is pitted against another writer(s?) in a game which could end disastrously for our mystery author/sleuth. It begins with a macabre and inexplicable discovery on Sam’s well-maintained and secured property and proceeds though an equally strange series of ‘happenings’, all in turn, alternating with normal, albeit somewhat unusual social relationships. Many of the activities and their results occur because of Sam’s mental attitudes which someone appears to have been able to decipher quite accurately. The hi-octane concluding termination inevitably results.

Discussion: Actually, little need be said about this popular author’s tale that no doubt will present its usual appeal. The unusual plot is provocative, the characters react in their colorfully expected manner and the finale again is explosive. Regrettably for this reviewer who has read and enjoyed several of the author’s books, this one presented a few too many ‘leaps of faith’ for an admittedly pragmatic mindset to accept. But this is a personal attribute no doubt resultant from many years in empirical endeavors that occasionally override otherwise enjoyable flights of fancy.

3* 5* Another exciting mystery by this popular author; (-2 regrettably for this reader only?).

Will to Die

The Will to Die ISBN: 9780985957681 Z Squared Media, copyright and written by Joe Pulizzi.

Will Pollitt, the protagonist, along with his partner Robby are attempting to sell a new marketing proposal to a prominent Cincinnati, OH company that markets an extremely popular type of ice cream product. They really need it to be accepted because their own organization’s bank account is a little shaky and Will’s personal one non-existent. In fact his numerous credit cards are maxed out and he just had received a final note from his daughter Jess’s university that he either pay her next tuition installment or she would no longer be a student. He was five hundred thousand in debt and struggling with a gambling addiction that finally had led him to Gamblers Anonymous. His wife, whom he still loved dearly, had left him when, after telling her he would never do it again, she had found out he again was involved. Added to this, Denise, his older sister informs him that his father, owner of one of the two funeral homes in Sandusky has passed away. He returns to his home and discovers that the business was in a rather bad financial state and his dad’s attorney and closest friend who always had been almost a family member and known as ‘Uncle Dan’ says that he, William, has been left the business with a suggestion by his father he try it for a year. Among attendant ensuing complications are an offer for more than twice the worth of the business from the other funeral home in the city, the son and co-owner of which had been his closest friend growing up; the fact that he desperately needed the money; his ex-wife worked as the embalmer in his father’s business; incongruity  in ‘vibes’ he was receiving from Dan as well as others; Janet, his father’s office manager who also had a close relationship to the family and her position; Jack, long-time ‘man  Friday’ for the business and Will’s friend; discovery of a set of daily journals his father had left secretly for him; a gradually evolving understanding of the existence of a widely distributed plot to eliminate anyone who deviated from the beliefs set forth by a ‘white supremacists-like group. This later complicated even further by the fact that Robby, Will’s partner and friend, was of mixed parentage and his sister Denise was a lesbian. The ensuing action masterfully is blended into a tale of suspense, mystery and excellent investigative work presented in a highly convoluted manner to culminate in an exciting and until then, quite well-hidden agenda.

Conclusion: This story is a little slow developing but provides a most engaging tale of combined mystery and suspense generated by greed and white supremacy well-hidden through deceit, treachery, betrayal and modern technology in an agenda entirely possible with today’s technology.  One that is revealed only by astute observations combined with revelations conjured up from the mental acuity of an individual who instinctively was of a highly empathetic nature with an excellent memory and recall ability. These abilities combined with a high level of investigative activity ultimately reveal this well-hidden clandestine activity. And, as a pertinent and amusing aside, this first book of fiction was written by a well-known/respected author of non-fiction “because I wanted the love of my life and best friend, Pam, to read one of my books (my other five published books are business marketing books, which she doesn’t care for)”.

5* Captivating, highly recommended ‘different’ mystery/suspense.

The Cooktown Grave

The Cooktown Grave ISBN: 9781734384437, prepared for publication by authoraide, copyright and written by Carney Vaughan.

This most unusual tale follows a ten plus year section of a young Australian man’s life following undeserved imprisonment for causing the death of his twin brother. Coincidentally, it also is of the detective’s brilliant police work that helps to establish not only his innocence, but illuminates underlying and unsuspected corruption within the police department. Specifics of the plot are so numerous and convoluted, as are the number of characters and their interrelationships, as to require considerably more space than can be provided in this ordinary review.

Discussion: Although far too numerous to provide plot details, readers should be aware that this is a tale that is divided into three parts with a quite slow beginning and movement into and partway through part two that briefly may cause concern. However the feeling soon dissipates and although admittedly some judicial editing probably still could enhance the presentation, the story becomes an engrossing chase/thriller/suspense vehicle speeding along at a good clip. The finale is satisfying and the final two chapters, in the author’s own words, set forth additional thoughts on police work that a reader will contemplate and well remember. They begin with “In a profession where one is in constant contact with the dregs of society the definition which should exist between good and bad can become blurred. Lost in a fog of vice. The human mind is a strange machine which works in relativities….”

4* Slow start, ultimately engrossing chase/thriller/suspense with riveting message.

When Worms Abandon their Burrows

When Worms Abandon their Burrows a mystery thriller assumed published, copyright and written by Sean Parr.

After several years in St. Louis, the protagonist Emily Merton has returned home to the small town of Hannibal, Missouri where she had had spent her childhood. While in St Louis, she had established a reputation as an excellent investigative journalist and now was working freelance but with special assignments for the small but important local newspaper. As quite a talented sculptor, she also sells carved pieces from her small studio/shop and is commissioned to provide a piece for the reopening of Lover’s Leap, the well-known local attraction partly destroyed by recent flooding. The funding for the park’s refurbishing has been provided by Malcolm Spencer, a newly appointed CEO of a prominent New York City Investment Company. Unknown to the New Yorkers is the fact that he has served time for the rape of an 11-year-old girl seventeen years before in Hannibal. Actually, it was a crime he had NOT committed but lies, combined with poor police procedures and a poor lawyer with whom his family concurred were responsible. Ironically, the child raped had been Emily and now she was assigned to interview him. She, in turn decides to expose him at the dinner where he is invested with his new position. Her attempt at exposure backfires, but she unexpectedly overhears a private conversation (the content of which she alters when speaking later to Malcom) and the action moves back to Hannibal and the preparation for the park’s reopening ceremony. Presentation of more detail is unrealistic because of their number and convoluted interrelationship.

Discussion: An outright judgmental decision on this book is difficult in the extreme. It has an unusual plot, projects a suspenseful aspect that makes a reader  continue to look forward to a plausible resolution but regrettably really requires an editor, or perhaps a mentor, to bring attention to the following. The story begins slowly with what appears to be stereotypical young girls who seem to continue at that level as grown women. The police work, even accepting the long-standing belief that small town departments suffer from inadequate staffing, is woefully poor; the lawyer again is ‘typically small town’; the inability of most characters to be truthful; the seeming inability of anyone to make sensible decisions; naivety of all to believe that an investment firm would select a CEO without really knowing his/her background; difficulty for anyone to believe the ruse he provides for the belief that the interview would remain ‘local’; and perhaps a very minor, but necessary, criticism that layered white pine is suitable for the lasting piece of sculpture that was to be placed in a position where it would be the recipient of constant change in weather conditions.

Summary: A seemingly somewhat contrived but impressive idea for a mystery thriller as a first by an author who shows promise.

3* 4* Mystery/thriller idea. Regrettably much less for presentation.

Into the Woods

Into the Woods, a 16th century mystery novel assumed published copyright and written by Josh Soule.

The book opens with Chapter Zero where a “beast, no longer interested at clawing its way through the door to devour the family dwelling inside, but rather the townsmen who had just fired his musket… it did not slink through the trees… The beast was no longer afraid, no longer timid; it no longer would hide from the people of this town. The monster would not stop until it had its fill of death…A deep rumble escaped the beast’s throat as it skulked its way down the dirt path toward the town square.” A prologue follows that apparently begins recounting events that preceded this occurrence by three months; i.e. March 3, 1590. The reader is introduced to John who has left Paris where he had been studying art, to return to Carn, a small town on a trade route that is home to farmers and tradesmen. He has no family, was raised by Michael, the town priest who also was responsible for Thomas and Henry who were in similar circumstances. They were inseparable as children and often played close to and occasionally ‘on a dare’ entered the huge forest that began at the town’s edge. Their ‘acts of bravery’ occasioned by the rumors of its being inhabited by a creature that supposedly could change from human to beast. As the friends are reunited upon John’s return, more information is provided about them. Henry is married with small children and seemingly possessed of some lung problem; Thomas is a very large man, a hunter as well as owner of a farm on the outskirts of the village and a real ‘loner’; John again lives in the church with Michael, is the intellectual of the threesome and often approached by town residents for help. As time progresses, reports of cattle being killed in a horribly destructive manner surface and the three friends decide they must investigate for the safety of the town. Thomas and Henry are constantly at odds on the method to be followed and John acts as arbiter. On one attempt they are attacked by a rabid bear and manage to kill it without being infected. However, John is brutally mauled with broken ribs and more, but does recover. The town celebrates the heroes and believes all is well and life activities continue normally until sometime later another attack occurs. The tale’s description of the time and activities leading to this and the subsequent events comprise the remainder of the story.

Discussion: This book’s most unusual and especially intriguing dedication provides a compelling basis for post-reading thought. It is to “every pastor, priest, or any other religious leader – no matter where you live or what title you go by it is a very challenging task to care for the masses as your own family – the severity and complication of this cannot be fully compared to the symbolism in this book. The physical, spiritual, and emotional toll you have taken upon yourself cannot go unnoticed. Thank you.” The tale itself explores the existence of a mental attitude to protect another individual from some feature/condition/action. Frequently such activity may appear to be helpful, but conversely it may provide grossly detrimental results. In accord with the author’s expressed beliefs, the tale examines this attitude. With respect to the mechanics of presentation, the story itself projects the period and its physical and mental patterns moderately well. The characters, although not as well ‘fleshed-out’ as they could be, are adequate. *SPOILER ALERT*! Their movement within individual scenes occasionally leave gaps that require the reader to fill, or ignore, and for the pragmatist, some of John’s post bear activity is most difficult to accept as are occasional activities of others.

3* 5* Post-read thought stimulant; -2 spoiler alert re: presentation, at end of discussion.

Cache, Cache

Caché, Caché ISBN: 9781948046930 Telemachus Press copyright and written by Peggy A, Edelheit.

As the story opens, Sarah just has been confronted with her husband of twenty years, David’s demise. Sarah, had been a young woman fearful of being hurt emotionally, who had shied away from any extended relationship with men except for one. Blake, a young MD with whom she had established a close relationship in which each seemingly reveled in a companionable, brother-sister type association of just being with and sharing each other and their thoughts. Admittedly upon rare occasions, a romantic thought might open in her mind, but afraid of the possibility of in some manner spoiling the enjoyable association, it quickly was exterminated. Blake, worked in older and established physician David’s research laboratory and introduced the two upon an occasion when they met. David, although 20 years older than Sarah, was handsome, physically fit and enjoyed daring motorcycle trips as well as other often similar activities. The attraction was almost instantaneous and they married shortly thereafter without her even offering a hint to Blake with whom she normally discussed everything. Shortly after this marriage and although never previously demonstrating sustained interest in any woman, Blake married Jennifer, a lovely young photographer who was in rapidly rising demand because of her expertise. Blake and Sarah’s close platonic relationship continued with no apparent disruption and with apparent complete acceptance as such by their respective spouses and the two families continued an enjoyable relationship. As time progressed, each made great advances in their endeavors. Demands for David’s lectures and consultations soared worldwide; Sarah’s books were tremendously successful; Jenifer’s photographic skills called for extensive travel; Blake, with a surprising ability to draw and paint and the constant urging of Sarah, switched from medicine and became an artist renowned for his work that demonstrated incredible sensitivity. Regrettably, Jennifer passed away after a few years and Sarah aided his gradual acceptance. Now, she was in a similar position but even worse because of thoughts generated from David’s parting words and action. Just before dying, David had given Sarah a key and told her that his death now would release them both. Of course Sarah was shocked. Not only was she experiencing extreme inability to deal with his death, but also was deeply concerned and drawn to the mystery. Her widely ranging thoughts went immediately to David’s recurring periods of withdrawal. They were brief and their pleasant way of life would quickly return. But then, she remembered that he had insisted that she go to Florida alone to clean out and close down their condominium there. Her many thoughts and struggles are laid bare for the reader to follow as she debates whether to move forward and attempt to solve the mystery or just ignore it and attempt to find closure without additional stress.

Discussion:  This book’s author, already successful in her Samantha Jamison Mysteries, appears to have progressed further in her maturation as a thoughtful author. She has quite poignantly pictured the plight of a character faced with the death of a loved one with whom she has shared the vicissitudes of life for many years. The multiple thoughts and processes through which such an individual would progress demonstrate a remarkable understanding. She also has added additional levels to her plots. There is the obviously disturbing one of mystery that in itself would generate many conflicting thoughts and questions. But even more appealingly, this is a person who has carried a repressed fear of rejection that constantly would shade many, if not most of her life’s activities. Would she be able to face this long-held fear and perhaps conquer it?

In summary, this volume is a mystery in more than the usual sense and in some ways a departure, or perhaps an interesting extension to the theme of the author’s already successful novels. It depends not only on finding the object that the key will open, but additionally on attempting to discover if she ever will be able to discover in her introspective meanderings the cause for her psychologically directed misunderstanding and/or simple avoidance of the many ‘signs’ and thoughts which had been apparent but ignored through the years.

5* Mystery/romance; interesting author’s growth to another level.