The COIN

The COIN assumed published, copyright 2013 and written by Maria Elena Alonzo-Sierra.

A prologue finds a man searching an area in the mountains of the Côte d’Azur looking for a stash of coins and records he previously had hidden there. A recent naturally caused upheaval in this section had caused a re-arrangement of the territory that had eliminated any familiarity with its former formation. With intense frustration, he realized that it was impossible to find any remnants of the material he had secretly stashed away. Unexpectedly, a lost tourist stumbles upon him, thinking he had found someone who could help. Instead, he is slowly and cruelly put to death by the intensely frustrated man. The story then opens to follow the subsequent results of Gabriela Martinez discovering an unusually marked coin while hiking in the same area, La Marbriére, a short time later. Gaby, along with her parents, was a refugee brutally forced out of Cuba when Castro moved in. Quite sheltered while a Cuban resident, she now is happily married to her first love whom she met in college, and the mother of two young children who are visiting their grandparents in the United States for the summer. Her husband, Roberto, an innovative designer of new materials, frustrated by not being able to proceed, had been offered a position in Europe, had found a considerable degree of freedom and had extended his assignment. He loved his wife dearly, but with a totally ‘old-fashioned’ mindset that the husband was the bread-winner, and the wife a mother and housekeeper, was completely involved with his work. Simultaneously, Gaby had developed into an artist of tremendous talent and was being mentored by an enormously wealthy and influential man who was readying her for an exhibition of such importance as to launch her into a career that would make her one of the leading artists in the world. Unfortunately he had further designs on making her his mistress. Now, Richard Harrison, a lead member of an American special operations unit, as a courtesy to the Israelis’ request and favor to his boss is in France on vacation but has consented to interview Gabriela with respect to the special coin she had discovered during here trip to the mountain. Richard is a man typical of such operatives – handsome, pleasant and charmingly accommodating, but calculating, coldly uninvolved and with no compunction against killing when necessary. When meeting her, he is startled with the natural warmth and seeming degree of underlying naiveté – qualities he never had, or expected to, encounter in any woman. A set of circumstances develop, where Gabriela is to be introduced to a collection of world art connoisseurs with the latest of her works on the same night Roberto is to sign an important contract providing all he ever has wanted. Complicating the situation further is that Gabriela’s life has been threatened because of the coin that had been found and Richard has become her 24-hour-per-day bodyguard. The interrelationships that develops among these individuals, aided and abetted by an interesting group of supportive characters, develops into a mysterious, thrilling chase and sex-laced romance about which furnishing further details would be a great disservice to the prospective reader.

Discussion: The author has positioned three individuals in situations of almost insurmountable tension production with adequately supplied supportive personnel. The plot providing a thrilling, fast-paced tale and engaging climax. A number of inadequacies or unusual mental activities are difficult to totally accept, but no doubt are a personal consideration arising from this reader’s pragmatism. If noted at all by other readers, probably they will be observed as an unimportant ‘blip’.

5* Fast paced psychologically oriented mystery/thriller/romance.

 

The Pickelfrey Twins

The Picklefrey Twins Mystery in the Bermuda Triangle assumed published, copyright and written by Molly McIntyre and Kyle Kroupa.

This is a nicely written children’s book about two precocious children who are able to save their parents who had initiated a flight into the graphically designated Bermuda Triangle. They are aided in their performance by magical gifts they previously had received from a favorite aunt. Added after the story’s conclusion are brief accounts of the three most (in)famous tales from the Triangle area – the strange case of the sailing vessel, Mary Celeste that left New York in 1872; the disappearance of WW I USS Cyclops with 306 crew members; disappearance in 1946 of Flight 19 that consisted of 5 U.S. Navy bombers making a routine simulated bombing run in the area.

Discussion: The author, with assistance from her co-author grandson and enjoyably pertinent illustrations from Arthur Lin, has set forth a tale which has all of the elements for basic appeal to young readers. The additional material at the book’s end should even provide stimulation for slightly older children to search further into the mass of material that has collected referring to these incidents.

5* Enjoyable, appealingly written/illustrated book for young readers.

Crime Beat Girl

Crime Beat Girl a book assumed published, copyright and written by Geri L. Dreiling.

Debbie, daughter of highly respected and successful Bradley and Beth Hughes, has left her position as a Washing, D.C. reporter and returned to St Louis because her mother, now several years widowed, has been diagnosed and is facing surgery that may expand beyond this initiating session. Thus, she is not sure how long her stay will be. Furthermore, she is unhappy with her love life as it had developed in Washington. It seems that her fiancé always avoided her attempts to agree upon a wedding date so, when offered a job following the ‘Crime Beat’ by her college mentor Sam Hitchens while in St. Louis, she accepts. Sam, an old-time traditional newspaper guy well aware of the gradual slowing of newspaper publishing, had accepted the position of Editor of a new well-funded trendy magazine. He believed she would be a natural for what he had in mind. Debbie was a young woman full of drive who loved to craft sentences and be creative but also to get away from her desk and ‘be where the action was’. Thus she felt that the job would fit perfectly with her burning desire to expose corruption and injustice. He offered the job. She accepted. From this point, the story blooms into a fast paced thriller/mystery involving numerous multi-faceted individuals as the reader follows Debbie’s often foolishly irrational decisions.

Discussion: The author has provided a credible picture of a somewhat naïve but determined young woman’s attempts to extend her career in investigative reporting. The pace is excellent and the story line exhibits knowledge of pertinent aspects of the law. A considerable number of supporting characters are included. They are complex both within themselves and in their interrelationships. As the tale progresses, this reader at least, would have liked to see certain ones ‘fleshed-out’ a little more. She has presented an interesting story and done a commendable job with the development of the mother-grown daughter relationship. The final twists involving some of the characters providing the climax appear for this reviewer to be a little tenebrous but acceptable. Overall, this is a pleasant, fast moving mystery/thriller that should satisfy devotees of the genre

4* 5* Fast-paced, mystery/thriller that should be satisfying to devotees; -1* as noted

Weight of Shadows

 

Weight of Shadows ISBN: 9781733563123 Mystful Press copyright and written by Ana Domini.

This Dark fantasy is set in a post-Apocalyptic era following a world encompassing pandemic that wiped out an entire generation. Those who survived are immune, sterile and immortal to a degree. A particular group of survivors have been segregated in a large pharmaceutical compound, Wyrmwood Place, some distance outside Washington, D.C. It is the headquarters of the company that was able to manufacture the required vaccine. The compound contains all of the necessary laboratories, professional and support personnel and additional guards, fencing and other necessary features for security. Numbered among the inhabitants are 13 surviving children and 2 women who were discovered to be fertile. This is the story of the children, of Mantis, so named by his ‘friend’ Atticus, and other inhabitants and/or otherwise encountered persons discovered with the help of a fantasy figure as the story unfolds. The plot basically is a fantasy/mystery with psychological undertones that takes many twists and turns.

Discussion: The tale appears to be the product of a somewhat reclusive mystery (?), fantasy (?) author who has presented a rather complicated well-written story that moves at a good pace. The characters are well developed within the context and scenes often sufficiently detailed and well described to offer empathetic credibility. Interesting thoughts, even somewhat emphasized by the characters as set forth by the author, include the fact that death sometimes is a good thing in that it eliminates sadness, fear and pain for those who have lost everything, but that on the other side of grief there are strength and forgiveness, A tangential point offered  is the constant presence of greed and the potential harm it can cause.

Summary: From this reader’s perspective, an interesting, well- written/paced tale regrettably offered at this exact time of today’s unemployment, shortages and controlled social environment resulting from a still uncontrolled world viral situation. Thus, if you are a reader looking for enjoyment or relaxation, this book is NOT for you.

3* 5* well written/paced story; -2* at least for enjoyment/relaxation.

Slater’s Vendetta

Slater’s Vendetta Book 4 of 4 in the Slater Mystery series, assumed published, copyright and written by T. J. Jones.

Eric Slater again is the protagonist. He is a quite sizeable, muscular but remarkably supple, relatively handsome guy with a good sense of humor, honor and a huge heart. He is a former Marine with Special Operations as well as Military Police training. In this volume he again is functioning in a couple of his ‘jack-of-all-trades’ roles. He is performing in his PI job investigating a couple of identity authenticity cases, while supervising his construction workers remodeling the homes he then turns over to his real estate agent to sell. The situation becomes totally muddled quite quickly, however. A quite vicious gang begins to invade the neighborhood, he makes friends with a young boy roaming the streets at night. He learns why and decides to do something about it. His PI, building business and live-in partner, lovely but Black Belt qualified Maggie, agrees since she also has a couple of similar friends resultant of the same ‘soft-heart syndrome’. All components of the situations escalate when their real estate agent is murdered with a tool belonging to Slater, causing him, as well as Maggie, to be suspects. Members of the agency he employs, as well as of the company for which he is remodeling houses also become ‘persons of interest’ and one is charged with the murder.

Discussion: This book is another written by an author whose growing number of books invade Mystery, Romance and Fantasy genres. His forte appears to be in producing well-portrayed individuals in character driven plots. The protagonists here are appealing on many levels with abundantly soft hearts. The results are positive and the reader enjoys inclusion of an interesting mystery/detective story within an often amusing modern romance that maintains some of the old, solid components.

5* Mystery/detective/romance highly recommended as described.

The Lottery Winner

The Lottery Winner assumed published by, copyright and written by Heru Asaramo.

The story introduces Jacob, adopted son, along with another, Jason, sometime later and a younger also adopted sister Myra. The children’s birth stories are horror tales in themselves, Jacob’s birth mother was a heroin addict, father, recipient of a 50 year prison sentence for killing a cop on a botched robbery. Jason was born of a drug addict who hung herself and the newborn was discovered only by accident and was suffering pneumonia that weakened his entire immune system. Jason died affecting Jacob deeply, even extending into his adult years. Myra’s story was similarly dismal. The adopting parents, Maria and Drake Gilferd, are a couple of entrepreneurs with successful businesses, a beautiful home and all associated possessions. They were unable to have children but felt the desire for them. Unfortunately as demonstrated, they are as casual and unthinking with their selection as they are in their personal lives. Within a few short years they are overextended with all credit cards maxed out, and a severe market decline ends their high living. The bank foreclosed on their home and they are forced to move to an apartment in a depressed neighborhood where Drake still continues to make irrational decisions. Thus Jacob and Myra must adjust from the early years of affluent living to that of near poverty and the parents do not make the situation easier. Before adopting them, the couple had decided they would not raise children to believe they were ‘entitled’. Thus, they not only are strict disciplinarians – Maria “a hard-nosed military breed” (4th generation former Marine) – Drake also a former Marine now an analytical chemist, but now make the children  targets for constant ridicule at school for their manner of dress. Because of their continued irrational monetary over extensions, money is scarce and they insist upon dressing the children in their selection of clothing from Goodwill. The story continues with more difficulties constantly being encountered so by the time Jacob reached twenty years of age, he had absorbed much of his father’s beliefs about the world’s evils and injustices superimposed upon the unrealized psychological baggage he carried. He began to mentally withdraw from the world. The tale continues and ultimately he does buy a ticket and win the largest Lottery distribution in the state’s history and the story moves into another unexpected phase with an unusual result providing a basis for the expected next book to be published. Further detail would be a disservice to prospective readers.

Discussion: At the very end of the book the author provides a “Note to the reader: I put my heart into this work. I truly hope you enjoyed.” This reviewer has quoted the author’s words because his effort is recognized and appreciated and must be taken into account when reading the following remarks. The entire premise upon which this story is based is most interesting and reminiscent of a somewhat similar theme introduced over sixty years ago and made into an award-winning movie three years later. It also contains many sections in which a reader can become thoroughly engrossed. Additionally, the author has exhibited an excellent knowledge of quite disparate entities. Top-of-the line automobiles, clothing, wines, cuisine, as well as attendant personnel and surroundings. Contrarily, the structure and management of correctional institutions for the most hardened criminals, their culture, structure and activities. Unfortunately character development is inconsistent and most regrettably from this reviewer’s perspective, a judicious editing is required to raise this story to the position it deserves.

3* 5* Fascinating, knowledgeably presented information; -2 regrettably, as discussed.