Collateral Damage

Collateral Damage ISBN: 9780985370282, published, copyright and written by Susan Cory.

This is the 4th volume in the Iris Reid Mystery Series, a series that employs the world of architectural design for its plot. The protagonist, Iris Reid has discovered a source of deep love and committed to living with Luc Cormier, an excellent chief whose restaurant had gained sufficient recognition to be considered for the acclaimed James Beard Award for culinary arts attainment. The restaurant kitchen and dining room conveniently occupied the entire ground floor of an old place in Cambridge, Massachusetts that was available at a very affordable price. She had completely redesigned the building in this manner and utilized the entire 2nd floor to install their living quarters along with an office for her architectural activities. In continuing work in her own area of expertise, Iris began redesigning an old abandoned building for Ash, a very talented young artist who had been able to purchase it because ‘the price was right’. All is progressing nicely until a series of totally unexpected ‘happenings’ begin. A huge fire of suspicious origin destroys a portion of the young artist’s building and is followed by another at an abandoned well on the property that contains bones of a human that police are able to identify. As the building’s owner, he immediately becomes the main suspect until later on Ash, the young artist himself, is the victim of a gun shot from a passing vehicle. These developments tie in with other events already set forth and an almost unbelievably convoluted and interwoven tale of betrayal, deceit, treachery, self-preservation, lost and/or misplaced love all are combined to present a mystery for which further details would only serve as a disservice to a prospective reader.

Discussion: The author has introduced, at least for this reader, a new and unique area for a mystery tale. As a well-qualified and actively engaged architect, she has successfully endowed her protagonist with the same abilities and set forth a mystery that involves many emotions. Unfortunately I have not read the previously written books in the series and must say that most credibly, this volume can very easily stand completely on its own, providing a tale mystery lovers will not want to put down.

5* Most unusual mystery/suspense/love story readers should love.

When She Touches

When She Touches ISBN: 9781688985490 assumed published by, copyright and written by Sheryl M. Frazer.

Subtitled “A Discovery of Destiny and a gift Like No Others” this is a novel extending from the mid-1900s to the present. It is an unusual story following Genevieve as she, recipient of abstract dreams beginning in childhood, experiences another informing that she ‘will understand once her daughter is born’. The young, newly married Mrs. Walker thought someday, but right now began recalling the fairy tale like, so wonderfully enjoyable romance and wedding to her most thoughtful and wonderful husband still sleeping beside her. From this moment the reader is taken on a strange journey where the young girl, born to a mother who seemed to want nothing to do with the child, is raised by her adoring grandparents and eventually discovers that she has a strange gift in that she can communicate with a person’s soul. This reviewer believes that providing even one more modicum of information would be a total disservice to the prospective reader.

Discussion: In spite of occasional minor glitches, this book and its anticipated sequel provide one of the more unique tales this reader has encountered. The plot about ‘a soul reader’ is nowhere even vaguely close to the tawdry image that may come to mind. The characters are engaging, even captivating at times and their interwoven nature intriguing. The pace is excellent and the anticipation set in motion by the idea of a sequel’s plot is one of the most compelling this reader has encountered.

5* If you enjoy the unusual, you will not want to miss this one.

Canvas of Time

Canvas of Time ISBN: 9798690817947 assumed published copyright and written by Amélie Pimont.

The story is a sci/fi fantasy/romance following the lives of two people, Sarah and Eli, who are consumed with eternally lasting love that surfaces again with each reincarnation. The reader first is introduced to the couple as they are picked up by a passing space ship in a galaxy far removed, find their true love and are brutally terminated shortly thereafter. They are reunited in Egypt where she is a thoroughly spoiled Princess and he her acquired slave. Once again fate steps in and the relationship is fatally terminated. More reunions follow in France during WW I, and again in WWII when their country is invaded, German soldiers are forcibly assigned to their home, and their fortunes again end unpleasantly. The last reincarnation presented occurs in Los Angeles where Sarah is a free-lance journalist whose photographs gain prominence while Eli is an extremely famous artist. Destiny again brings them together and they live a number of soul-satisfying years until one night while embraced in each other’s arms they fall asleep and once more ascend into the beyond.

Discussion: The author, originally a Parisian, now is living in Los Angeles where she is a free-lance film maker. I understand that this is her initial attempt at production of a novel. As such, it is commendable. Each plot is interesting, the characters are sufficiently fleshed-out to elicit empathetic reactions and the pace, for the most part is good, although slowed considerably in areas. The writing style is unusual, rather simplistic and almost stilted at times, possibly as a result of use of a second language?  There also is a considerable amount of redundancy and/or repetition of words. Some of these features are understandable because of the book’s basic theme. However, a considerable amount actually is disconcerting, if not exactly annoying. However, as a total presentation, the author has produced a most interesting story that deals with a subject that has fascinated people for years. Certainly, these individuals as well as fantasy devotes, will discover these stories to be ‘hard-to-put-down.

 

3* 5* Basic plot intriguing to most; -2* problems encountered for new writers

Erasing the Past

Erasing the Past Assumed published, copyright and written by Geri L. Dreiling.     

There is a sub-title stating that this is “A novel about love, betrayal and second chances” and genre suggestions that include fiction, sci-fi, suspense and romance. Prologue opens in Forrest Park, St. Louis with the Art Museum setting atop the green hill that descends to an area providing a superb view of the Grand Basin. The day is beautiful, young lovers are strolling arm-in-arm with the occasional shy kiss and all appears to be well with the world, except for one old man with a badly affected left arm who disconsolately seats himself on a convenient bench. He opens a copy of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, spots a photograph of two people in the gossip column and begins to sob. A young woman asks if he is alright. He answers simply that he was alone, in his pain, his regret and his pain, but that was not always the way. Once upon a time he, and they, were happy but that all is changed. His “future has vanished, and the present laid waste; all because the past was erased”. The first chapter then opens in April of 2008, and thus begins a tale of seeming remorse by an old man who regrets his life-long self-centered activities and rigid thought patterns that have ruined his life and driven the love of his life into the arms of another man as well as ruining his career. His life possibly may not be as he believes at this point in time however, but providing further details of the story would be a huge disservice to potential readers.

Discussion: The author has set forth a story about a self-centered man with a deep love for a beautiful woman who basically and most unfortunately, places a great amount of emphasis on personal appearance although also with a driving internal need to have children. However, he is not without faults in that he is self-centered with a degree of paranoia and an underlying rigidity in the fundamental roles of the man and woman in a marital situation. These differences provide the basis of this well-written, only slightly flawed, tale of their impact upon an otherwise happy marriage of twenty plus years.

5* Interesting marital relationship the book’s subtitle well describes.

The Batter’s Box

The Batter’s Box ISBN: 9781944353230 Warriors Publishing Group Copyright and written by Andy Kutler.

This is a historical novel described by the author as “A novel of baseball, war and love”. The story portrays the life of a young Midwesterner who attains star status as a major league baseball player who, at the top of his game, enlists in WWII shortly after the U.S. entered the war. It follows his experiences as he participates in some of the most vicious hand-to-hand combat in the ‘Battle of the Bulge’ that took place in defense of Bastogne and returned to regain his former baseball status only to be plagued by mental problems that only now many years later finally have been properly titled PTSD. During his baseball days he had met and retained a most unusual relationship with a beautiful young woman married to an abusive husband. Their meetings were intermittent because although immensely attracted, he would not admit he had met someone he truly could love deeply. However, during dark periods during lulls between vicious bouts of bloody hand-to-hand fighting, memories of her were the only thing that kept him wanting to survive. He does survive and returns to again attain his position of prominence in baseball, although greatly changed from the ‘nice’ person he had been. Plagued by nightmares and with his new confrontational attitude so prominent, his manager insists upon his seeing a psychiatrist. Unwillingly he does and receives advice that he ignores until once again he meets the woman whose thoughts kept him alive during some of his most desperate periods of combat and the tale progresses through confusing months for the two actual soul-mates as they attempt to reach some ultimate mutually rewarding goal.

Discussion: The author has set forth one of the finest books on the features leading up to development of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) this reviewer ever has read. Descriptions so graphically depicted that it may cause unwanted thoughts/images to recur in veterans with similar experiences. The baseball details will bring back many remembrances for those readers old enough to have known these days and provide many details about the game and those playing it at the time for younger readers. The love story is most thoughtfully included and poignant at times.

5* Must read for anyone interested in “baseball, war and/or love”.

Incite Insight

Incite Insight ISBN: 9780994439901 Tale Publishing, Australia first published 2015 written by Robert New.

The protagonist, Brad Thomas, is a young man who, in spite of somewhat lesser abilities to ‘read’ people, their expressions and body language, and postulate on possibly hidden agendas, manages to become a detective in one of the smaller cities of Australia. However he somehow manages to obtain a similar position in one of the large cities where he constantly is made to feel inferior. He has a certain personal charm, however, which provides some hope for the sergeant to whom he reports and she assigns him to a case where the victim suddenly succumbs from an apparent ‘melting’ of the brain tissues. Several more victims suffer similar occurrences and all are recognized as prominent members of ‘think tanks’ or the highly intelligent products thereof. Forensics provides basic information which allows Brad to discover a certain professor’s programs that were “designed to help its audience improve their understanding of the links between aspects of the so-called ‘human situation’. It aims to increase people’s working memory and awareness of what happens around them”; i.e. not simply make them more intelligent. There are several levels of advancement which they gradually can unlock but really need to work mentally to reach each new level. He is provided another young woman detective as a partner, and at the same time meets, and is attracted to Amy, a secretary he meets while following a prominent lead. The attraction grows as they both are studying the professor’s levels, he thinking it might aid in solving the case while her interest is a basic desire to advance in life. The tale continues as Brad engages in computer hacking to advance in the program, confers with the prominent head of an organization that provides programs for others to circumvent undesirable matters and discovers a world of secrete organizations with thoughts of world dominance they in no way consider unconscionable. Brad gains in self-confidence and makes progress with solving the mystery, but concurrently the tale assumes another, associated but somewhat different, direction to its climax.

Discussion:  Brad’s approach to solving the mystery employs an approach that is somewhat implausible and the multi-layers of the story and their juxtapositioning is a little perplexing. However, the story retains the reader’s interest, but somehow leaves, at least this reviewer, with a somewhat confused understanding of its direction from that initially provided for prospective readers.

3* Interestingly worthwhile, but somewhat confusing read.