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?).
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.
Reclaiming our Own ISBN: 9781733497626, self-published, copyright and written by Christopher Irons,
The book opens with Brett Moore, oldest of 3 brothers complaining to his wife Riley about having to meet with his brother and sister-in-law and their twin 4-yr-old daughters Adrianna and Brooklyn and 2-yr old son at a local mall at the beginning of a three-day week-end. Ethan and Kathy Moore are a typical American family – he is a 65 hour per week accountant while she is stay home mom. Riley reminds him that he loves kids and should spend less time on his computers anyway. The story quickly moves into a suspense/thriller. The two-year-old, who they had decided would be better off left with Kathy’s friend at the mall’s childcare center while they shopped, was kidnapped. Brett manages to see the kidnappers, chases, reaches and ends inside the van entangled with the kidnapper. There are two more inside however, and he is knocked out. He finally revives chained in an unknown building and the plot gradually evolves. An apparently sizable ring of kidnappers of small children for adoption or release for large ransom because some who are children of wealthy/prominent families, is functioning throughout much of the country. Little knowledge of the organization has been learned because of the involvement of dirty government agents, and the apparent abduction of a child of someone highly placed in the organization. Wade Scott, a government agent with whom Brett served 10 years in the 75th Ranger Unit enters the picture, more is learned of Brett’s typically appropriate activities as a ranger, other members of the old unit assemble and the pace accelerates even more. Further detail obviously would be a disservice to the prospective reader.
Discussion: The author has provided an interesting scenario of deceit, deception, treachery, betrayal, and cruelty aptly met with courage and well-orchestrated response. A perhaps minor feature of the tale that a few words of explanation might clarify for those knowledgeable enough to question some of the results of combatant activity. Long accepted procedure in a gun fight was to dispatch two shots to the body (the greatest bodily mass) and is employed here. Today’s point of aim has been altered if possible however, to more difficult head shots because almost universal use of tactical vests/body armor. It is assumed that head shots were not feasible in some cases and that some type of tactical vest or body armor mitigated the effect to a manageable degree. Thus, the one most questionable portion of the story is explicable, so as a whole, the tale as set forth should be of great appeal to aficionados of thriller/suspense and actually for anyone who enjoys reading of justice dominating in this time when the country’s judiciary seems to appear involved in questionable activities.
5* Enjoyable thriller/suspense apropos discussion.
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.
Ragnekai Winds, Kindle Edition, copyright and written by Peter Buckmaster.
This is Book One of a fantasy dealing with the subject matter of its subtitle, the Old Wounds Trilogy. It is set in and provided with a map of a mythical world of long ago where High King Sedmund, the most powerful of all kingdoms, long in failing health, suddenly succumbs. He has no heirs and strangely, had appointed no successor. It is rumored that he was poisoned by the sister of the ruler of one of the lesser kingdoms, who had been involved in a clandestine relationship with the king’s powerful general. Regardless, the lack of this overall deterrent, releases all of the frustrated ambitions held by others and each attempts to heal old wounds in their unique manner.
Discussion: The author has presented a well written tale of intrigue, distrust, deceit, betrayal and treachery interspersed with expressions of loyalty, faith and love. Many empathy worthy characters are engaged in activities reminding one of a well-played game of chess and many tragically pass away. The story is fast-moving with little ‘down’ time interspersed and the battle scenes are well described as relative to that era of warfare. As the reader progresses toward the book’s finale, he/she discovers that instead of being provided with some degree of resolution, still another element is introduced, although it had been alluded to in a most unobtrusive manner very early in the story.
Summary: The author indeed has set forth a most worthy story that meets all of the criteria for interesting and well-written manuscripts. It also plays well into the increase in escapist thinking generated by today’s hectic lifestyle; i.e. tales of fantasy that merely provide a substitute extension of the long-running TV shows and books depicting ‘Tales of the Old West’. The entire trilogy should be thoroughly enjoyed by all but regrettably a very few such as this reader and surprisingly a notable one other. It appears that perhaps a few prefer to have some degree of ‘closure’ at the conclusion of each book in a series. In this case, so many characters with whom a degree of empathy has been established have been killed that one is reminded of the old “cliff hangers” where a reader must wait to discover if the same fate has befallen several more. Most admittedly, such an admission ‘bespeaks a line of thought hearkening back to earlier times when such attempts to assure retention of the reader/observer’s attention for the next episode were initiated.’ (Granted, the idea goes back a long way, but probably not quite as far as thought; i.e. it was well before the era of dinosaurs.)
5* Well-written fantasy; the trilogy enjoyable for almost everyone.
Strategic Entanglements assumed published, copyright and written by D. K. Knightley.
The author has set forth this initial book in the planned Kendra Veiss series that introduces her and other characters in another world in the year 2977. This world is composed of the dominant empire of Basur who had defeated and literally destroyed Askar, a medium-sized militant nation and left in this state although it’s ideological enemy. Askar gradually had climbed out of its devastated position and was again proving problematical. Both nations retained Counterintelligence agencies including Clandestine Operations, State Security and similar branches. The plot centers in Kendra’s position as an operative in Basur’s clandestine operations and her hot/cold sexual attraction to Aran Reiner, her Askar counterpart, especially after having been abducted by his operatives and submitted to torture. Kai Ansurian, an apparently good friend of Aran but seemingly a Basur-Askar Double agent, presents a somewhat similar problem after sexually attacking her not un-pleasurably during her torture sessions. Additionally, he also was helpful in her survival before release. A number of other supportive characters also are introduced and the story provides no ending per se, but rather serves as an introduction to the next volume in the series scheduled to appear in the near future.
Discussion: The author is described as presenting “A red-hot battle of the sexes designed for sophisticated readers looking for something original and out of the ordinary.” From what this reader seems to have been able to assemble from relatively diverse social intercourse, she has provided a vehicle that should have great appeal for these individuals. If the potential reader has not attained the more advanced levels of this mental state, however, the following notes may be helpful. Kendra’s at times almost hostile verbalization and actions with respect to attitudes of male dominance certainly are understandable after the horrible results of such activity she encountered within her own home. Similarly, such chauvinistic attitudes, even without her life experiences, are totally understandable and justified. It is only in the manner in which she often uses them that is difficult to accept. It would appear that she held almost a ‘death wish’ associated with some latent desire to be dominated as demonstrated by her totally unrealistic actions that repeatedly placed her in a dangerous, even untenable, position from which some dominant male’s activity was required to extract her. Additionally, the basic direction of the tale was a little difficult to discern. Besides depicting a highly intelligent and totally modern, courageous young woman fighting male chauvinism, an underlying tone of hesitant titillation seems prominent. For example, a rather extended scene seemingly slanted toward raising the expected titillation, proceeded during the torture period but was followed by quite clinically explicit descriptions that, perhaps purposely, nullified its apparent direction. Another feature of this volume that readers who prefer at least partial closure to parts of a story, may find the tale a little annoying in that it’s serial nature dictates that one must wait with baited breath until the author has been able to furnish the next episode.
Summary: If the prospective reader is not deterred by the above listed features, they will discover a well-written tale incorporating tension and sexual, as well as other, intrigue between attractive characters in a foreign land of the future. A good first novel.
3* 5* “…battle of the sexes …for sophisticated readers” -2* for some as described.