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, 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, 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.
Shattered Shield ISBN: 9781793114907 assumed published, copyright and written by Camden Mays.
The story opens with the crossing of the southern border of the U.S. by a group of illegals, one of whom is an Iranian whose activity includes killing persons here in order to effect his escape into the country. From this point the reader is shifted to the tale’s protagonist, a former Navy Pilot, recently divorced with settlement of their home in Virginia still contentious. He had left his prosperous consulting firm in California at the urging of a friend to become a member if the CIA. His wife had returned to California where their daughter was a university student. At present he has second thoughts as to the wisdom of his decisions and is about to resign when he is offered a new position of importance in a newly formed operation being established to nullify terrorist activity that had been initiated. The plot progresses from here to provide an interesting look at the step by step procedures taken by government agencies to foil terrorist plots and apprehend and/or eliminate the perpetrators.
Discussion: The author has set forth a fascinating picture of how the CIA, FBI, and Homeland Security departments might function to establish and jointly perform to successfully combat the work of a terrorist and/or his organization. The early contents of the book required to establish the basics of the plot move rather slowly, but gradually the pace accelerates. The characters are empathetic, romantic and familial aspects are credible as are the thriller/suspense aspects that gradually expand. The finale provides a natural entre to the next volume. Judicious editing would greatly enhance the story’s enjoyment.
4* 5* Enjoyable anti-terrorist thriller/suspense; -1 editing required to enhance.
RULA, The Heist ISBN: 9781976968525, copyright and written by Nicole Parris.
The story opens when a young woman checks out of a cheap hotel on the fourth day of a dismal rain in London. Apropos instructions she had been given, it was late in the evening when she hires a taxi to be taken to a remote location. Supposedly her activity was being undertaken in an effort to right numerous wrongs. On the way, her cab is struck purposely and repeatedly by a car she assumes contains someone wishing to steal the contents of a small metal box she had been instructed to guard with her life. It was a box that held centuries of secrets and codes of Rula – a strange, ancient game whose secrets had been retained for centuries by one noble Italian family and had impacted society through the years in often evil and unexpected ways. Another car attempts to cut in but quite literally explodes just before the three cars arrive at a bridge crossing a sizeable stream. The original attacking car precedes them onto and across the nearing bridge and on the other side shoots out the taxi’s tires to stop the car. The attacking car’s driver then shoots the driver, and moves to open the passenger door where “trapped alone in the back seat, a part of Abby died with him. She relaxed. This was how she imagined her life would end – on the side of a dark road, alone at the mercy of ‘them’.” From this initial activity the reader is taken on a complex journey that begins in 1980 when the heir to the noble Italian family decides to acquire five new players to participate again in the ancient game. One of the players engaged is a prominent, intelligent and cunning magician who has an agenda of his own in playing. The ensuing action then shifts constantly through multiple scenes in London and others here in the U.S. and involves the now twenty-year-older magician, his henchman, a beautiful, spoiled, rebellious, wealthy young woman wishing to make her own way as an investigative reporter, the small paper’s owner, a male co-worker, a new husband who is the best friend of a man who also serves in the same capacity with her, her dominant father and several other interesting individuals.
Discussion: First and foremost, the author has provided a well-written, fascinating plot with most empathetically presented characters in a story that should offer various degrees of appeal to devotees of mystery, suspense, romance, thriller, for those enjoying erotica and even a bit of paranormal interest. The plot is complex, the main characters all exhibit varying degrees of mental ‘quirks’, some from obvious past occurrences while others are discerned as arising from other unknown factors. Most of the rather copious descriptions of places and activity appear to be justified with the particularly descriptive erotic activity, although well-done, appearing to be somewhat overly presented in that the quantity does not add appreciatively to the story. Further from this reviewer’s perspective, although some confusion occurs occasionally, most is eliminated as one progresses through the book, so there is really only one problematic feature for certain prospective readers – those who do not like being forced to read a serial. This volume introduces the reader ONLY to the first part of a story that seemingly will be extended through several episodes.
3* 5* fascinating plot, empathetically characterized. 3* important caveat.
My Sister’s Detective, a mystery/suspense/romance assumed to have been published, copyright and written by T. J. Jones.
Eric Slater has returned home after retiring from the Navy where he served considerable time as an NCO apparently somewhere around a Master Chief level in the Military Police, often working in affairs concerning Naval Intelligence and closely with civilian police. He is living in the home left to him by his loving mother who had died some time earlier. His mother for years had performed housecleaning chores for the mostly very wealthy residents of “Point Road”, a relatively short distance away. During summers when school was out and he was eleven and she could not find, or was unwilling to pay for a babysitter, he often accompanied his mother when employed. He sat in the car all day playing games and/or reading comic books. Eventually a few of her customers noticed him and invited him inside to read where it was cooler. One of these had a son a year younger than he. This David Templeton was a lonely boy with whom he formed a close relationship and soon he was spending most of his time at the Templeton home. The boy was gay but neither of the children were aware of the matter at the time. They were just two youngsters who grew into a closer relationship because they were too awkward for anyone to want on their team when games needing sides were chosen. The relationship was placed pretty much on hold during the school year because Davey attended private school while Eric’s was public. During summers, the relationship resumed and strengthened as the years went on but did not have any homosexual aspects. Eric was completely enchanted by Angie Jefferies who had a younger sister Maggie who was mostly ignored and otherwise a nuisance. The story begins to unfold years later when Davey is found dead in their barn, seemingly having hung himself. Angie does not believe it was suicide, Eric begins employing the investigational powers learned during his years as an MP, and the reader is taken on an intriguing journey through a complicated plot where presentation of more detail simply would be a disservice to the prospective reader.
Discussion/Conclusion: A sensitive, partially qualified ‘detective’, caught in an investigation involving an old love, old acquaintances and a budding new love interest. The tale is an often amusing, occasionally poignant, purposely slightly sexist, suspenseful investigation of the darkest of criminal activity that involves closely related family members. A unique plot, interesting characters skillfully handled and suspenseful action throughout.
5* Most enjoyably suspenseful detective romance.