The Prince of Manhatten

      The Prince of Manhattan an e-book assumed published, copyright and written by Alexi Iskander.

The reader is introduced to Prince Leofric, the son and heir apparent to the throne of King of Northumbria, one of the seven kingdoms existing in the northern part of Great Britain roughly in the years 600 – 900. Cedric, his father, is holding a victory dinner celebrating a huge victory over the “Howling mad Picts’ as they raided from the north and descended upon the kingdom in the early summer months. Leofric is watching his uncle Aethelred closely because he believes he will attempt to do away with his father Cedric and take over the kingdom. This is exactly what transpires when he manages to kill Cedric, place blame on the son and, with the help of Siana, the most powerful witch of the time, has him transported through time, as well as space. Leofric awakens ultimately in New York City’s Greenwich Village. Concurrently Miranda Hazelgrove, a young NYU student from Albany, has finished work at a restaurant where she works to supplement the financial support she is receiving from her parents. Deciding to take a bus rather than the subway because it is a shorter distance to manipulate her tired body, she is accosted by two killer rapists. Leofric is nearby, hears her screams and rescues her. His attire with sword and all, as well as his manner of action and speech do not cause her any unusual thoughts because there is an event taking place in the city where people are acting out their individual idiosyncrasies of thought. After expressing her thanks she discovers that he has no place to stay for the night so invites him to share her apartment. He does and from here the reader is introduced to a recounting of their activities, both individually and collectively until a finale of sorts is reached.

Discussion: The author has presented a fantasy/romance/space/time travel story that apparently a number of readers have enjoyed. Most regrettably this reader is not one of them. From this perspective the tale provides abundant physical activity but it is set forth either with little understanding of the extent of training an individual such as the prince would have received or to present him as quite incompetent, in which case it is amazing that he would have survived his life in Northumbria. Thus, much of the story seems forced. There also is abundant repetition, missed words/spelling and even usage; e.g. people do not “saddle up” to people they sidle up to them.

3* For romantic YA, Young-at-Heart or those interested, amused by era differences.

Trail of Fear

Trail of Evil. Fearless Publishing, an e-book published first in 2011, copyright and written by Jansen Mancheski.

Following ‘The Chemist’s’ capture, he names an African known only by the single name Kinsella to escape at least the murder charge of beheading the first of his kidnapped women. Cale van Waring, the senior investigating officer believes this to be simply a ploy but does contact his FBI friend who verifies the man’s existence with additional information that he had been deported from Great Britain back to Liberia because of his purported association with human trafficking. Cale, even though his investigative results had been superb and he had received commendations, had been suspended from the police force for ignoring police procedure during the events moving up to the arrest. Thus, in typical Cale fashion, he decides to travel on his own to Liberia to request Kinsella be turned over to him to be brought back to the United States for trial. Through a friend, he has the complete backing of the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security and tacitly Interpol because the human trafficking problem is immense. He is put in the hands of Jacek Tumaj, a Czeck freelance mercenary, and his team in Italy. From there the action proceeds to Liberia where Cale’s meeting with the government officials is shunted to meet with Colonel Tazeki “Taz” Mabutu, the head of the Liberian National Police. It seems that Taz also is an extremely highly placed African voodoo priest, a botono or master of all loa, especially the petro loa or dark gods. As such, it is believed Taz can possess another person’s body turning them into a zombie slave to do the botomo’s bidding. Regardless, the colonel is an unusually cruel individual and like many other Liberians, enjoys human meat. It is here that an incredibly horrendous series of activities begin with Jacek and his team becoming totally responsible for Cale’s survival. The action is fast and suspenseful leading to a finale that provides a legitimate introduction to Book III of the series.

Discussion: On the good side, the action is high octane with plenty of suspense. On the bad side, Cale’s mental as well as physical actions are difficult to accept. His expectations of journeying to a totally unstable country and expecting their government to deliver one of their citizens for expedition to the United States because of a mid-western detective’s request is incredibly unrealistic. Similarly, his superior/questionable (?) attitude in general is that exhibited unfortunately by numerous Americans travelling to foreign lands and the source of the term ‘ugly American’ widely heard at one time. And one more inexplicable, but in character, attitude is that toward learning any of the tricks of survival the mercenaries attempted to teach him.

Conclusion: An interesting, but disappointingly flawed follow-up to the first book in the series that reader’s still may enjoy for the high octane action.

3* Enjoyable suspenseful tale; rating reduced for reasons described

 

The Chemist

 

 

The Chemist, an e-book of an award-winning novel first published in 2010. Fearless Publishing, copyright and written by Jason Mancheski.

The story opens with the kidnapping of a young woman in an unusual manner and with her disappearance even her automobile cannot be found. The perpetrators are described to an extent with specific attention to the shadowy ‘Chemist’. The reader then is introduced to Cale Van Waring the detective lieutenant heading the special crimes unit of the Green Bay, Wisconsin PD. He becomes lead investigator on the missing woman case that begins to worsen when more blond young women completely disappear along with their automobiles. He is aided in his search particularly by longtime partner James “Slink” Dooley and Sargent Anton Staszak and their first ‘break’ is the gruesome discovery of the first woman’s decapitated body appearing in the waters of Lake Michigan. Cale has other, personal, problems with which he is struggling. He and Maggie Jeffers, a beautiful young lawyer with the Public Defender’s Office, have been living happily together now for fourteen months but since the relationship appears to be going nowhere, she has given him until a late July date to make up his mind, or she will leave. From here, the manner in which the story proceeds to unfold, both with respect to the missing persons’ investigation and the Cale/Maggie relationship, is quite convoluted. It also, is this reviewer’s opinion, would be a disservice to the prospective reader to divulge more aspects of the process. Suffice it to say that the story involves Chloe, Maggie’s 2-year-olded clairvoyant sister, along with several gang members, and other sinister characters with a mounting amount of evidence pointing toward the despicable but unfortunately lucrative human trafficking industry.

Discussion: The author has provided a quite involved plot with variously described characters set in a suspenseful multi-genre tale. The protagonist perhaps is a little too strong in his tenacity of purpose when mixed with his ambivalence on a number of counts and his strong adherence to his own particular mindset with respect to others. However, it is a tale that most readers should enjoy and the brief synopsis at the end of this volume presenting the following book’s opening lines should enhance one’s interest in proceeding to the next in the series.

4* Suspenseful multi-genre tale readers should enjoy.

The Ghost Shows the Way

The Ghost Shows the Way, A ghost Haven Mystery assumed published, copyright and written by Kristine Frost.

The story opens as highly successfully artist Tabitha Black is providing mental as well as still a degree of physical aid to her cousin and best friend Courtney Spencer. Courtney has just recently returned home from an extended hospital stay resulting from a nearly fatal automobile accident. Her already thoroughly shaken mental state is further disturbed by the fact that she recently also had been left a large estate by her uncle who was a most disagreeable person whom she hardly knew but who had hated her parents. The distress is exacerbated by arrival of a letter from the lawyer handling the will. It states that she must go to the estate, house all of the recipients mentioned therein and be ready for its reading by a specific date. It also stipulates that if she does not accept her gift and comply, all listed recipients will lose their inheritance. She feels forced to go so Tabitha accompanies her. The old home is a huge building looking every bit what would be expected of such a manor house constructed many years ago. Its setting is in a miserable and desolate area frequently enveloped in fog and with miserable changes in weather. A housekeeper/chef and a couple of servants who have been left to take care of the house are able to arrange matters adequately to deal with the influx of relatives. The plot progresses as the reader is made aware of the totally miserable, greedy and vengeful character of the deceased and the similarly abominably miserable characters of each and all of the relatives. Additionally a weather front moves through bringing thunderstorms, heavy drifting snow and other conditions that isolate the house and its occupants. The cars in which the various relatives arrived even mysteriously have been damaged so no one could leave anyway. Tempers flare among the irascible mean-spirited relatives and one of them is found murdered. Fortunately, they are able to get a useable line to the police, but here other problems pop up. Two constables disappear and more unpleasantnesses occur with more skullduggery encountered until finally Tabitha, aided by a family ghost is able to bring some closure to the entire affair.

Discussion: The author has provided an engaging murder mystery for the devotee – the setting, the miserable characters, the multiple suspects, plus the aid of an obliging ghost. The tale is a little slow in beginning but the entire story is quite well presented with important features doled out in a manner that exacerbates the suspense and mystery.

5* Enjoyably mysterious, suspenseful ghost story.

Finalities

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.

HYPNOSIS, Return to the Past

HYPNOSIS, A return to the Past, ISBN: 9781912145645, I AM Publishing, an e-book translated by Lino Galveias, published, copyright and written by Maria Inês Rebelo.

Plot: Basically the author appears to wish to offer “A metaphor for life”: “wisdom is the human virtue that enables us to reach fullness, to discover the pure through the unclean and to find the path to happiness.” It centers on the interrelationship among a number of characters both in the present and through several centuries. Principally, the story follows two therapeutic hypnotists Marcus Belling, a very popular, charismatic man who easily establishes empathy with his patients and Joseph Salvatora, a somewhat withdrawn, autocratic individual. The two constantly are at odds over the manner of providing aid to patients as well as their position in the ‘official’ Hypnosis Society. The professional lives of both of these men are drastically changed by a young woman, Anne Pauline Roux, who decides to attempt to discover the cause of the incessantly disturbing dreams that have bothered her for years. While in a hypnotic trance she discovers that the strange man who has been disturbing her dreams all of these years actually is Belling from an earlier time. Resentful, she makes a pact with Salvatora to recount everything she learns during her sessions with Belling, something she hides from him. Of great importance is the fact that she is one of the few people who can change history by acts she performs during these hypnotic sessions. The involved and rather convoluted plot continues eventually leading her to find a fulfilling life and finding a resolution for the confrontational lives of Joseph and Marcus.

Discussion: Fundamentally the author has presented a quite well translated, intriguing tale that many readers should enjoy. Regrettably, along with this enjoyment, they may find several features of the presentation disturbing if not disappointing. The detail and descriptions provide excellent help in character development as well as placement of specifics. However, there is considerable redundancy, as well as repetition, that good editing would have eliminated. Additionally, the presentation somehow brings to mind the complex imagery Herbert, John Donne and other metaphysical poets of 17th Century presented. Specifically, at least for this reader, there was an inability to comfortably settle the tale into any particular time and/or place. To explain: First, Belling’s training was supposed to be particularly effective because he had received most of his training in America. The greatest advances made in hypnosis generally have been attributed to European proponents. More especially perhaps, centered first on the work of Franz Anton Mesmer in the late 1700’s and then those following. (An interesting aside, Belling’s professional life seems to follow Mesmer’s who was quite a popular showman but not well received by the Medical Profession of the day.) Second, the story is replete with a fortune teller, a forbidden island, soothsayers, clairvoyants and other components of the occult. Belling appeared on television, the ease of automobile transportation and other factors appears to lead one to expect the story’s time to be relatively recent. Yet, the strong position of the occult, although still existent today in small pockets, seems to make the time/place to be in the past (or perhaps a relatively isolated part of Europe peopled by unsophisticated, even quite provincial, individuals.) Thus, this reviewer’s discomfort in attempting to place a time and position for the story.

Summary: An intriguing story for readers who enjoy the occult and can overlook the problems that concerned this reader.

3* 4* for some readers; 2* for those similar to this reviewer.