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.

Apollo’s Raven

Apollo’s Raven ISBN: 9781647040543 Apollo Raven Publisher copyright and written by Linnea Tanner.

This Book One in the Curse of the Clansmen and Kings Series is a novel “based on historical fantasy and mythology of the southeast Celtic tribes” of Britannia beginning in the days just prior to the Roman invasion in 43 A.D. It is the time when the Gods were many and each culture embraced its own. Apollo was the powerful Sun God totally embraced by the Romans and their powerful legions, although seemingly he received some degree of respect by the Celts but mostly they, and their heavily muscled fierce warriors, embraced several others arising from legends stemming from Ireland and Wales with extensive belief in mysticism as conjured up by the Druids. The book opens in this period when Rome’s emperor is making exploratory moves before deciding whether to invade the islands.

The protagonists are Celtic princess Catrin, youngest daughter of Amren, king of one of the tribes and Marcellus, son of the pompous Roman Senator who is exploring whether to support Amren or Cunoblin, an adjoining powerful Ruler, if the Emperor decides to invade. Complications are numerous in that the latter had arranged a marriage between a daughter and Marrock, Amren’s oldest son whom he had banished from his country for treasonous activity. He believed that, perhaps with Rome’s help, he could arrange to replace Amren by restoring him to his ex-father’s position. Marrock was aligned with Agrona, the Druid Priestess whom Amren trusted but who secretly was working to gain control of the kingdom. Rhiannon, Armen’s second wife did not trust Agrona but deferred to her husband’s decision to put her second in command after herself. From this complicated beginning, even greater confusion emerges from rampant distrust and intertwining acts of deceit, deception, treachery and betrayal and the appearance of shapeshifters and abundant other mystical activity.

Discussion: Spinning this tale and its subsequent volumes no doubt has been, and will continue to be, a difficult task. “The Celts left almost no written records. Historical events had to be supplanted by Greek and Roman historians and medieval writers who spun Celtic mythology into their Christian beliefs, Archaeological findings from this time period also help fill in the gaps.” Under the circumstances the author has done a quite remarkable job of creating a very suspenseful historical/mythical/romance of considerable proportions. It is a story that will fascinate devotees of these several genres.

5* Suspenseful historical/mythical/romance devotees will thoroughly enjoy.

Acts of Faith

ACTS of FAITH, a novel published copyright and written by Martin Elsant.

In this “Part 1 of The Inquisition Trilogy”, an initiating statement by Archibald Bower, Authentic Memories Concerning the Portuguese Inquisition, 1761 reads “An Auto de fe is not so much an Act of Faith, which the words would impart, as of the hypocrisy of Inquisitors, who thus make a mockery of God and man, by abusing the venerable name of religion, and forcing the secular judges to become their butchers.” An author’s note follows explaining that, as a teenager, he had found an account of an undisputed miracle that involved Diego Lopes of Pinanocos at his “auto de fe’ in Coimbra, Portugal, and more than 50 years later actual records of the man’s trial. (Both books referenced as additional reading.) However, a discrepancy existed between the trial records discovered and reported by Bodian and the public perception reported in the Roth book discovered so much earlier. The author’s intent in this book simply is “to add a component of human involvement to a process that they (individuals of the time) believed required only Divine intervention.” The story then introduces the young Portuguese Divinity student Aristides and the other characters of greater or lesser importance as it presents the quite specific procedures initiated and employed by the dominant figures in the Inquisition, as well as the surprising number of those attempting resistance, along with his new ‘element’.

Discussion: This is a fascinating and most informative story that should appeal to a rather diverse population of readers. Historians certainly will find much to learn as will those interested in beliefs of Judaism and of Catholicism of the era. A story of unrequited love is included, as are numerous references to bits of understanding of facts about the anatomy and functions of the human body as well as initial, perhaps surprisingly advanced, thoughts about surgical cleanliness available at the time. Thus, as readily admitted by the author, although tenuous, the tenets upon which certain of his actions are based are technically and scientifically feasible as well as the actions of Jews and Christians in this time of religious chaos arising from greed and ignorance. A most interesting and relative ‘Postscript’ is included as are suggestions for ‘Further Reading’ that history devotees will find extremely helpful. A somewhat unique aspect of this volume that may appeal particularly to readers who do not enjoy ‘cliff hangers’ where the protagonist or similar is left in a precarious position, resolution of which awaits the succeeding book, this first of a trilogy is a ‘stand-alone’ volume. However, sufficiently well done to make the reader anticipate the next in the series.

5* Historical fiction engagingly presented for reasons described.

The Thin Gray Line

The Thin Gray Line ISBN: 9781098740139 assumed published, copyright and written by Michael Kenneth Smith.

This is a story of the Civil War between the states of the newly expanding democracy. The protagonist, Luke Pettigrew was little more than a boy when he is forced to leave his home on a hardscrabble farm in Tennessee by his seemingly uncaring father. He joins the confederate Army, is severely injured and attempts to make it home, when Clyde, a trader, finds him struggling, lifts him into his wagon and gives him a ride to his burned-out home a short distance from his own. Worried about him, he returns to find Luke passed out, takes him to his home where, with Joanie his wife’s help, he removes the partially destroyed leg above the knee because any medical help is at least 50 miles away and he won’t be able to make it alive. As he begins to recover, Clyde’s young sons Timmy and Tommy start asking him questions and he tells them his story. Luke had been assigned to the Ambulance Corps where he had met Col. Bedford Forrest, had performed heroically in battle, had fought at Shiloh, had joined Jeb Stuart where his horse had been shot from under him resulting in the badly injured leg that had required amputation. From this initial activity, Luke continues an interesting and quite serendipitous journey through the war-torn south as he engages in numerous activities dictated by the time and his abilities – care of the wounded as well as amputees specifically, a group with communicable disease, racial concerns, impact of the war on social relationships and more. The characters include several important and even notorious figures of the time as well as a number of fictional heritage.

Discussion: Although presented as a most interesting fictional tale with appealing characters, the author has set forth a fascinating history of some of the first and little known successful attempts made to supply functional artificial limbs to amputees. A man by the name of James Hanger initiated the procedures and lived until 1919 but his company continues today “as a world-wide leader in the development and manufacture of prosthetic devices with branches around the world. During WW I, the company received contracts from the U.K. and France and vaulted them to the top of their field where they remain today.” The only unfortunate aspects of the story are the manner in which the proof readers have let the author down and just a passing but haunting thought of what happened to Luke’s ‘long-sustaining true love’.

5* Heart-warming Civil War tale providing interesting historical details.

Tap Sapiens

Tap Sapiens (Reign of Sapiens’ Evil [R.O.S.E.] Book 1) published, copyright and written by Robin T. T. Poon.

This post-apocalyptic, Sci-Fi opens with young Brandi Perry travelling on a bus through sections of the countryside varying from complete destruction and ruin, small towns with inhabitants living on a barely above starvation level, areas of obvious wealth and plenty, and finally arriving at the army’s station where she is to be inducted into the armed services. After the usual examinations, issue of clothing, etc. she is assigned to a barracks with other new inductees. After ‘lights out’ she finds herself to be overcome with restlessness and quietly moves to the door, exits and wanders throughout much of the area including the officer’s building. Here she has an almost disastrous encounter with two officers, one of which is the commanding general. She returns to her own building where she is greeted by her immediate bunk mate. Gradually, the reader discovers that Brandi’s reason for joining the army is to somehow destroy the stranglehold it has upon the populace through the inequality dictated by the Supremo and enforced by his army. Death and destruction not only are continuing but actually increasing quite rapidly. She discovers that her bunk mate has suffered greatly, as have others whom she gradually begins gathering to her in a small group. After boot training, assignments are made and she finds that she has been promoted to 2nd Lieutenant and moved to another building where she now has only one other roommate. This person, also having been poorly treated by the army, but continuing because of the needs of her family, becomes convinced of Brandi’s sincerity, and joins her group. From this point, the activity escalates as more about Sapiens becomes apparent and with Brandi developing a problem because of a growing attachment to the equally affected general who allowed her to retreat to her own barracks that first night when she wandered into the officers’ quarters.

Discussion; the author has set forth a complicated tale of revolt against tyranny complicated by introduction of romance. It moves along relatively well, is peopled with interesting characters and generally should appeal to those who like dystrophic tales with an emotional component. A number of characters are unaccounted for, bits of early history are injected in a somewhat ‘startling’ manner and other minor features no doubt will disappear as the author continues to mature.

4* dystrophic tale; surprising developments and a bit of romance.

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.